Following the outbreak of coronavirus, and seeing the overwhelming response by our communities, volunteers and healthcare professionals, I signed up to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s ‘coronavirus temp register’ to offer my hand of support at this time of national crisis.
Before politics, I trained and served as a district nurse for many years, and am well acquainted with the daily responsibilities and pressures that nurses bear. Since being elected, the most rewarding element of my new role has been the ability to offer support to people in Wrexham. When the pandemic began I couldn’t in good conscience sit back and watch coronavirus devastate our community and let former colleagues take on that burden alone. I felt it only right to utilise my skills as a former nurse, to help the community I was elected to represent.
During my ‘back to floor’ training, and leading up to my first shift I was filled with anticipation. My initial training felt like a lifetime ago, indeed it was whilst I was raising my, now adult, son. I couldn’t help but think about all the ways in which it might have changed since I completed my training in the early 1990’s. A few days before my first shift I went to pick up my all blue uniform, which was drastically different to the uniform I’d worn when I was last there, which now seems rather outdated.
However, as I walked through the doors of Wrexham Maelor Hospital, where I did my initial nursing training, I was struck with a sense of comfort and familiarity. Despite the new lick of paint and the addition of head to toe PPE not much had changed.
Perhaps most familiar was the sense of comradery amongst the nurses, doctors, porters and hospital staff, reminding me of old friends and colleagues from my time in the Maelor.
Despite being faced with the biggest health crisis of a generation and being under unfathomable pressure, their attitude and dedication towards the people they cared for was just how I remembered it all those years ago.
On the COVID-19 recovery ward I was joined by a group of hardworking, resilient, and selfless doctors and nurses, some of whom had also answered the call to return to the frontline. Whilst on the ward I caught a glimpse of my new colleagues in Parliament on the television, which served as a reminder of the balancing act that I and many others undertook during this pandemic.
You’ve all heard the expression, it’s like riding a bike. There were moments where I was transported back and I felt like I hadn’t left. Immediately I was back doing morning medication rounds and changing dressings. However, there was moments where I worried that patients on the ward would recognise me as their MP, jeopardising the nurse patient therapeutic relationship, in those moments I took further comfort from the fact we were in head to toe PPE.
Once again, I have now left the Maelor and have returned full-time to my parliamentary duties, but when I walk past houses and shops with a rainbows proudly displayed in the windows, I think back to my colleagues still on the ward, fighting against this virus, and I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I am immensely proud to have played a small part and to have worked alongside some of the fantastic men and women at the Maelor, risking their lives to protect our community from this invisible killer.
The last few months have showcased our resilience as a nation, and I’d like to thank everyone across Wrexham and the whole of the UK for the part they played in defeating this virus. The crisis is by no means over, but I leave the Maelor and return to Westminster confident that we will overcome whatever obstacles come our way.