Coronavirus in Portsmouth: Queen Alexandra Hospital vaccinator reveals staff are 'exhausted and tired'

EXHAUSTED front-line health and social workers are being buoyed by seeing the vaccine ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

Friday, 5th February 2021, 7:00 am

Nurses, doctors and social workers pouring through Queen Alexandra Hospital’s vaccination hub are tired from the pandemic but excited to receive the jab.

Among those protecting the frontline is Professor Greta Westwood, who is volunteering at QA Hospital in the vaccination hub.

As chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation she is concerned about the wellbeing of nurses.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Professor Greta Westwood, chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, who has returned to Queen Alexandra Hospital to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Florence Nightingale Foundation

Prof Westwood, of Hambledon, said she was enjoying ‘meeting people who are really excited’ to be having the vaccine.

‘At last there’s this sense of hope in the air instead of despair, even though I know they’ve come off a really busy ward and are going back to a really busy ward,’ she told The News.

‘It feels a really tangible great national effort to be involved in.’

She added: ‘They’re excited about it because it’s the feeling that they’re going to get protection and it won’t be long before they get their next dose.’

Professor Greta Westwood, chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, who has returned to Queen Alexandra Hospital to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Florence Nightingale Foundation

Read More

Read More
Lockdown has affected mental health but charities and Leigh Park bipolar suffere...

But she said working at the hub has given her an insight to life in the battle against Covid.

After meeting staff while vaccinating them, Prof Westwood said: ‘They’re very tired, they’re worn down. They were worn down from the first time and never really had any time to recover.

‘Now this has struck them again, they’re exhausted.’

Professor Greta Westwood, chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, who has returned to Queen Alexandra Hospital to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Florence Nightingale Foundation

More pressure has come as ‘there’s so many off sick at the moment,’ Prof Westwood said. ‘Staff are being redeployed to where they’re needed.

‘There’s a great sense of camaraderie - that’s what doctors and nurses want to do - they want to work together and support each other.’

It comes as QA Hospital chief executive Mark Cubbon tweeted to say 25 staff members from Solent and Southern NHS trusts were ‘temporarily joining some of acute and critical care teams’.

He added: ‘We also have a small team from (Care UK) St Mary’s joining us and 11 members of the Royal Artillery supporting our clinical teams.

Sainsbury's in Farlington, Portsmouth. Picture: Google Maps

‘Thanks to those who’ve joined us today, we’ll make you feel as though you’re part of the (team).’

Mum-of-four Prof Westwood returned to QA Hospital, where she worked until 2017, in spring last year to help out.

Not only that but the foundation created the Nightingale Frontline service, creating a virtual space for healthcare professionals to talk.

When the vaccine programme was launched she felt the urge to help again.

Her efforts – and 37 years as a registered nurse – saw her named as a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

In her first shift last Monday, having completed online training, she was involved in delivering 50 vaccines.

Prof Westwood said: ‘I just wanted to do it – I felt that I needed to support us nurses – once a nurse, always a nurse – and we can’t help that in-built desire to help.

‘That was my reason for going and it’s great fun in the vaccination hub.

‘It’s full of staff who have had their appointment to come and it’s not necessarily all the clinical staff, it’s also the staff in social services nearby, the care homes nearby.’

Prof Westwood wants anyone who can to volunteer for the vaccination programme.

‘I’m going once a week until I’m not needed any more, which I can’t imagine will be any time soon,’ she said.

‘I would definitely say that if there are any nurses (reading The News) who are off the register or working somewhere else then just phone up and find out how you could support your local hospital because there are plenty of things you can do.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

You can subscribe here for unlimited access to Portsmouth news online - as well as fewer adverts, access to our digital edition and mobile app.

Our trial offer starts at just £2 a month for the first two months.