Matt Walton: A Junior Doctor on the Frontline – An Update
In this episode, Matt Walton joins WEM Trauma Lead Eoin Walker to provide an update on his experience as a Junior Doctor on the frontline in London.
Matt details the rising level of fatigue amongst colleagues as they’ve spent a number of weeks tackling and treating the enormous amount of unwell patients presenting at A&E, including fellow staff members. Matt comments on the bravery and resilience of the staff as they continue to provide care.
Eoin and Matt also consider the need to have ‘difficult conversations’ much earlier in the patient journey. Matt highlights the importance of being proactive to ensure their priorities, thoughts and last wishes are carried out. Matt describes how his role has morphed in the face of COVID as his role as a clinician is stripped away when supporting patients unable to be with their family in their final moments.
The pair also discuss the incredibly sad news that a number of NHS staff have died due to COVID19. Matt draws on his own experience to share what he hopes will be useful tips for others faced with similar situations. Matt shares the mix of emotions him and his team faced, from disbelief to sadness and denial, as well as the importance of acknowledging that such sad news will affect your performance and takes steps to compensate for this. Matt also shares his thoughts on how acts of remembrance can be carried out amid the pandemic, reflecting on a common practise used by the military to put aside time after the firefighting is over to reflect on that person, permitting people to experience the sadness and grief that may sometimes be suppressed due to high caseloads.
Matt shares his thoughts on his latest paper, co-authored by Esther Murray and Mike Christian that provides a toolkit for those wanting to help support staff mental health at this time. The paper is split into three key forms of assistance; individual, teams and organisations. Matt considers how some of these ideas have already been implemented within his own hospital, from basic needs such as tea and coffee facilities to practising good leadership and encouraging open discussion.
Matt also takes a moment to consider the efforts of the nation and the positive impact this is having, from adhering to the lockdown to the heartwarming 8pm ‘Clap for the NHS’ every Thursday evening and the epic fundraiser Captain Tom Moore.
Matthew Walton, Esther Murray and Michael D. Christian, ‘Mental health care for medical staff and affiliated healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic’, European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care, April 2020 > https://bit.ly/2yScZ20