What it is like to be on the pandemic’s front-line – interview with an NHS worker

Pandemic worker in hospital

This insane time has been difficult for everyone and we at Carbon have been giving you tips to keep yourself entertained from the safety of your own home, but what is it like to be on the front-line of the pandemic, and just where does a COVID test go after it is taken?

Carbon’s lifestyle writer Tatum Farmer chats to her mum, Samantha Farmer, trainee biomedical scientist in Microbiology at the Isle of Wight’s St. Mary’s NHS hospital.

Firstly, could you give us a brief description of your role at the hospital and how it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic?

‘In Microbiology we test any bodily fluid for bacteria or viruses to be able to identify and diagnose patients’ illnesses. This means, when the COVID pandemic hit, we were the centre of COVID-19 testing for patients within the hospital. We would receive the test, analyse it in a machine, and then report back.’ 

How have things changed in the hospital since the pandemic started? 

‘Work has increased a lot because we are having to test Covid along all other samples that we would regularly test. In addition, we have to social distance with other members of staff, which can slow things down and be frustrating at times.

We all had to do our share of shift work, this includes early shifts, night shifts and day shifts, until new technology was in place to allow us to test a greater number of samples throughout the working day.’

What is the hardest thing about working for the NHS in a pandemic?

‘At the back of your mind is always the patient and the patient’s family – no matter how tired you are. This can be very emotionally draining at times.

I am also studying for a degree, so do online learning at home as well as working, this takes up lots of my time.’

Is there anything the public can do to support NHS workers more? 

‘Like we have been told from the start, just follow COVID advice. Wash your hands, keep your distance and don’t be in too much of a rush to meet people, although it is hard, that is the best thing to do to help the NHS.

Also, remain positive. This time is tricky for everyone, personal advice from me is to be kind to everyone. Everyone is going through a rough time, a simple check-in text message or socially distanced can benefit mental health a lot.’

And finally, what is the most rewarding thing about working during this time?

‘Knowing that you’re making a difference and supporting so many people by getting results out as quickly as possible during this time and being a part of a team.’

Thanks to the NHS Microbiology team and my mum Sam, for making this interview possible. For updated official COVID-19 advice, follow this link.

For fun things to do to keep yourself busy during lockdown, check out Carbon’s article on fun online workouts do to at home.