Amy White – Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London

I am a recently qualified band 5 radiographer. I am writing this piece to give an insight into how it is to currently work as a clinically vulnerable radiographer.

Coronavirus has caused a widespread pandemic, affecting the respiratory system of those who contract it. COVID-19 is spread when droplets are released into the air. The most common symptoms are fever or cough.  Who knew this virus would have stopped the world? I did not imagine that my first six months of employment would be during a pandemic. Procedures have changed completely from when I was a student. In my opinion, I personally believe this pandemic will make newly qualified healthcare staff more resilient in the future when working in healthcare.

During the pandemic, I have been working in green zones because I am clinically vulnerable, which means I would have a high risk of severe illness if I contracted the virus. For me, this would mean I need to work in areas of less risk and avoid areas where patients are having aerosol generated procedures. My training has been a little different with a significant emphasis on lowering the spread of infections had become essential. My management and colleagues have been great to help adapt to my needs while working in a clinical setting, along with working from home during the lockdown. I also got the opportunity to be trained at a band 5 level in nuclear medicine which I found very cultivating. It was a fantastic opportunity to expand my skill set within our radiology department. Working within nuclear medicine made me more conscious of how much I would love to work in the department full-time in the future.

I have seen how the radiology team has collectively come closer, for example, radiographers have volunteered to stay after shifts to help with the backlogs of patients, or taken up extra shifts to offer support to the department. The department has drastically changed as fewer outpatients have been showing up for x-rays making outpatients quieter. And less need for theatre radiographers as non-urgent cases have been cancelled. Nonetheless mobile x-ray have become frequent.

I recently found out I need to shield, which means I am now working from home. It has been tough to say the least, I am a people person, some might say a chatterbox. In evening times I undoubtedly annoy my flatmates as I talk the ears off them due to lack of social contact during the day. Along with this, I have been keeping myself busy while working updating my CPD, researching articles online which I have found will be beneficial when I return to work in my radiology department.

Now with vaccines being distributed quickly throughout the UK, I believe the UK is on track to having a fantastic summer, as inpatient numbers are rapidly decreasing, and vaccine uptake is increasing. I am delighted to have had both of my COVID-19 vaccines and encourage everyone to get them. I am currently living abroad, so I look forward to flying back to Ireland and relaxing at home with a nice cup of Lyons tea, and catching up with family.

I feel grateful for this opportunity to be able to write this article to give an insight into what it is like to be a clinically vulnerable radiographer and express my admiration to my radiology department on how everyone has come together as one, along with all of those who work for the NHS.

Submitted by Amy White, radiographer, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London.

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