“I’m at the coal face of this crisis and I’m seeing what’s happening out there and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. I’m seeing lots more people than I ever was. It’s out of control. It’s the same picture again and again with the people who are presenting to me with symptoms of coronavirus – they all tell me it’s as if someone is sitting on their chest. Others are also presenting with a loss of taste or smell.

“If we don’t learn lessons about what’s happening now and learn them quickly we are going to go down the route of Italy and none of us want that. We are on that trajectory and it will be dreadful.

“What’s really important is that people shouldn’t be calling 999 unless they’ve got very severe symptoms: breathing difficulties, chest pains or tightness and feeling weak, because the system is full to capacity.

“Because less serious cases are blocking the line, seriously ill people cannot get through to 999 – they are waiting for something like 20 minutes – and that means those with serious conditions – and not just coronavirus – are going to be dying.

“The other huge problem we face is that there is simply not enough Proper Protective Equipment (PPE) for hospital medics, for GPs, for ambulance personnel and people are going to go off sick without it, further depleting our ability to fight this. Front line staff need to protect themselves and also stop the risk of acting as vectors – as spreaders of the virus.

“I’ve had colleagues texting me saying they are desperate for PPE. Some have even resorted to ordering protective equipment from Amazon. 

“There are clinicians I know who are scared to see patients because they don’t have the right protective equipment.

“There are so many paramedics off sick at this time because they don’t have the proper protection

“It shouldn’t be like this. We should be sending those planes that have been grounded to China to fly back with cases of equipment which they have. And if it comes to it the mega millionaires like Richard Branson should be stepping in to do that.

“Where is the planning for this by Boris and the Government? I just don’t understand.

“We should be getting GPs and medical staff who are self-isolating at home to do remote triaging of patients so that the less serious cases can be diverted away from calling 999 to take the load off the ambulance service, especially in London.

“We also need to test many more people much more quickly. We should be setting up mobile COVID units who can travel to people to test and assess them, but as it is people are walking to their local GP units and spreading the virus that way.”

“As far as the public is concerned there is simply not enough social distancing going on. Too many people are still going to pubs and bars and they need to stop. The effect of this is that the virus is spreading out of control. 

“People need to realise this isn’t just a condition that affects the elderly. There are people in the age 30 to 60 bracket who need ventilation because of this virus.

“If we take social distancing seriously now we can limit the spread before it gets completely out of control and we won’t need to get the military stepping in as happened in Italy.”

As told to Patrick Sawer

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