“If the country is not careful, it will be the nurses who will be running on empty”


Some things have demonstrated the immense strength of the company over the past 18 months, while others have sadly revealed its deep fragility.

For example, sometimes the Covid-19 pandemic has seen people come together in so many ways to support and protect each other.

In contrast, others have brought out the worst in people and their behavior. Notably, supermarket shelves were emptied of their merchandise by buying back the panic at the start of the lockdown in March 2020, leaving nothing for essential workers after long shifts.

It prompted ICU nurse Dawn Bilbrough to make her passionate plea to leave enough possessions for everyone in a video that went viral on social media and featured on national media.

“Inevitably, nurses and other health and care professionals find themselves unable to get to and from work.”

Today we find ourselves in the middle of a “fuel crisis”, which for once has nothing to do with the Covid-19 but rather a lack of truck drivers which means that some garages are experiencing a shortage of supplies.

How it suddenly turned into panic buying, causing long queues and waits at the pumps, closing some garage parking lots and unraveling moods and punches, it all feels slightly surreal , useless and downright boring.

I felt the same with supermarkets in 2020, but people don’t seem to have learned from this experience; it’s just that we swapped the toilet paper for gasoline.

Inevitably, nurses and other health and care professionals find themselves unable to get to or from work, or are delayed or unable to reach patients in community settings.

Nurses said Breastfeeding time this week on how panic buying affected them personally, as well as potentially their patients.

Bethany Kelly, a diabetes nurse in the Southampton area, told us the situation was putting “a lot of stress” on the workforce.

Meanwhile, Lizzie Hawkins, a nurse who works in an acute care medical unit in the Sheffield area, said she could be forced to walk for up to two hours to get to work later this week if the situation is not resolved.

It angers me that people who are already under extreme pressure at work as a result of the pandemic and ongoing staff shortages are now facing a public-induced crisis.

Calls are now increasing for health and social service workers to have priority access to fuel, as well as to other groups who absolutely depend on it to get to work.

We hope that things will start to calm down in the coming days, although I am not too reassured by the government’s quick fix announcements.

I’m worried that 75 army drivers and the temporary lifting of visa restrictions won’t solve the long-term transportation problem. Likewise, I don’t think storing jerry cans of fuel in the hangar is a particularly safe option for people.

However, if the country is not careful, it will not only be cars that will run out of fuel, health and care workers will indeed be running empty as well.


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