COLUMN; A personal view of the life and challenges of Royal Papworth Hospital in the midst of a pandemic

PUBLISHED: 12:39 02 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:39 02 May 2020

Tom Walker (right) offers a personal view of life on the front line of Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Courtesy of Movember, the men's health charity

Tom Walker (right) offers a personal view of life on the front line of Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Courtesy of Movember, the men's health charity

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Tom Walker, physiotherapist at Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust , talks about the impact of COVID-19 on his day to day life.

Tom Walker  offers a personal view of life on the front line of Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Courtesy of Movember, the men's health charityTom Walker offers a personal view of life on the front line of Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Courtesy of Movember, the men's health charity

It is tough, but it is also positive. There is a real feeling of team work, for example my colleagues who are re-training to help the areas most in need, or those asking ‘how can I help?’ if their normal patients are being advised to stay at home. It is inspiring to witness.

We have seen an increase in the number of critical care patients we have at the hospital and as a surge centre, we are starting to see some very poorly people.

It is scary and there is anxiety, it’s only normal to feel that way at times of huge change, but we are well prepared and we are pulling together as a Trust, as the wider NHS and the even-wider healthcare system including hospices, community care and care homes.

Some days the stress and anxiety are extremely difficult to manage but other days I am fine and find myself trying to support other team members as best I can.

Tom Walker offers a personal view of life on the front line of Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Courtesy of Movember, the men's health charityTom Walker offers a personal view of life on the front line of Royal Papworth Hospital. Picture: Courtesy of Movember, the men's health charity

Relying on all my usual coping methods of exercise, eating well, yoga, meditation, and distraction techniques has been a vital part of dealing with this so far, as well as an extremely supportive fiancée who is the most incredible person I know.

Also, the fact we are all working as one huge team here at Royal Papworth helps as we are all in this together. Knowing we are making a difference, knowing that the public is behind us, and seeing that support on social media, on the news and in person each day really helps to keep us going.

We will beat this. It might go on for a while and there will be many challenging days, but there will be an end to all of this, and we will get there together. Keep strong, keep positive and keep indoors.

My advice for anyone struggling in this period of social isolation would be to arrange to video call your friends and family and talk to them. We are all in the same boat and it is incredibly tough for everyone. You are not alone; we are all in this together and we will get through this together.

Coronavirus has taken a few things from me personally as I am sure it has others; my wedding has been cancelled and rearranged; my first Glastonbury; my beautiful facial hair (as you have to be clean shaved to wear personal protective equipment).

It is challenging my coping mechanisms and my resilience, but I am learning through this a new strength – it is challenging, but also extremely rewarding.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears courtesy of the charity Movember where it first appeared. Movember is the leading charity changing the face of men’s health. ‘We know what works for men – and what doesn’t’ it says.


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