Our ITU nurse gives heartbreaking insight into reality on the frontline in Today programme interview

Patient in hospital bed

Victoria Sullivan, practice development sister in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) spoke to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning (Wednesday 13 January), giving an insight into one of her toughest moments during the pandemic.

She said: “My worst moment was breaking the news of a death of a relative over the phone. The screams I heard on the other end of that phone will honestly stay with me forever.

“Telling someone over the phone when all you can say is, ‘I’m really sorry’, while they’re crying their heart out is traumatising.”

You can listen to the programme online.

Victoria also spoke about how it feels when ICU staff see people breaking the rules: “It’s heartbreaking when people are flouting the rules, it makes you really angry. We have this unimaginable task of telling people over the phone that their loved one has passed away from this awful virus, and people are just not caring.”

Victoria was talking to the Today programme following the publication of a King’s College report focusing on the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the mental health of ICU staff. It found that over half are suffering from mental health problems. Read more about the report in this BBC story.

Supporting our staff during this difficult time is one of the most important things we can do and we have a range of initiatives to support them; including wellbeing rooms, our ‘Listen Hear’ service which enables staff to speak to a psychologist, and specialist bereavement support. Find out more in our wellbeing story.


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