NHS staff call for more support as workers given ‘sanctuary’ weekend

NHS workers have spoken about a need for more support from senior management and state funds for the NHS.

One NHS nurse who contracted Covid-19 said she was not given enough support as she struggled with the trauma of recovering from the virus, while others called for more funding for health services.

Caroline Hedley, 57, an auxiliary nurse, spoke at Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa, Inveraray, where NHS workers were receiving a “sanctuary” weekend.

On the weekend of August 14, Crerar Hotels gave all rooms across its portfolio of seven hotels to specially selected workers.

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People across Scotland were asked to nominate deserving heroes, and more than 4,000 entries were whittled down to 382 NHS workers and their guests.

At Loch Fyne Hotel, workers were welcomed into the picturesque location by a piper and local school children.

Each guest was given a letter from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon thanking them for their service.

Mrs Hedley visited with her husband David, a farm manager.

The couple both contracted Covid-19, and Mrs Hedley believes she gave the virus to her husband.

She said her hospital, Hawick Community Hospital, dealt with a large number of coronavirus patients.

“It was pretty hard at the time but we are still here to tell the tale,” she said. “I was back to work after two weeks but no way was I ready to go back.

“I was treating patients, and a lot of them were dying so it was pretty emotional.”

She added: “Looking back I would not have gone back so quickly. I was not physically ready for it at all.”

She said pressure from senior management led to her going back and workers were not getting enough support.

“We were getting phone calls at home saying ‘when are you going back to work?'” she said. “That’s why it’s lovely to be here and get some appreciation.”

Edinburgh couple Lisa Graham, 37, and Paul Logan, 43, were nominated for the weekend by Mr Logan’s parents and said the weekend was a great surprise.

Ms Graham is a community learning disability nurse lead and Mr Logan is an orthotic technician who began making visors during the pandemic.

“Work has been very different to what it would normally be,” Ms Graham said.

While Ms Graham said she had found her health and social care partnership to be “excellent” her partner said he found it difficult to get support.

The couple said they are “incredibly fortunate” to have the NHS and said there should be more state support.

“We are just so fortunate to have the NHS and we need to sustain the NHS,” she said.

Chris Wayne-Wills, CEO of Crerar Hotels, said his company – which gives more than half of its profits to charity – wanted to give a “little sanctuary” to the NHS workers.

He said the teams in his hotels were keen to get involved as some of them had lost people to Covid-19.

He said one guest had to postpone her wedding and was “doing a double shift on a Covid red ward” on the day.

He added: “I read nominations like that and thought it may only be a weekend in a luxurious hotel with dinner and drinks but it’s something we can do to let that person know that everybody appreciates the level of sacrifice.”

Over the weekend, the guests will be treated to champagne, locally-sourced food and drink and private boat trips.