Duty of Care: One NHS doctor’s story of the Covid-19 crisis by Dominic Pimenta.
Is it too early and too raw to be reading a book about Covid-19 already? Perhaps. However, Dominic Pimenta has not written this book to discuss in glaring detail the horrific nature of how this virus can, in some people, ravage the body and the lungs; there is actually very little in this book that is upsetting; except for perhaps how slow the PM was at reacting and how different things could have been.
The book begins in January 2020, Dr Pimenta was a Specialist Registrar (SPR) in Cardiology working in a London hospital; he is married and has two young children. It starts slow as the news of Corona trickles slowly from China, across the world and into Italy, and then starts to hit the UK. Dominic talks of his frustration of the Government doing everything incredibly slowly and not preparing enough for what he and other doctors convinced was going to happen. Though he also spoke of his frustration over Doctors not believing it was real, and expecting to go on holiday 2 weeks before the first lockdown started in March 2020.
Dominic does a lot of napkin number crunching, for example, he estimated that we have only 3,500 intensive care beds in this country (that’s not many), he worked out that in the best case scenario if only 1% of the population is infected (600,000 people) that 30,000 will need intensive care. Which is 10 times the capacity we have, and this he found worrying, especially as no preparations were were taking place in his hospital or any others nearby, no upskilling, no cross-training, no movement of beds or ordering extra equipment.
Once lockdown hits in March 2020 he talks about London as a ghost town; how he gets to drive to work every day (when he used to take the tube), because there were no cars on the road. About shops closing, and supermarkets running out of food. About the anxiety of feeding himself, the anxiety of losing fellow doctors to this disease and the fear that he would pass it on to his children.
He talks through how he set up the charity HEROES during the first lockdown in response to the lack of PPE to keep doctors safe – I find this extremely impressive given how long his ICU shifts were and with a young family at home.
He gets thrust into ICU with very little training. He does discuss some of the patients in ICU and how hard it was, and how difficult it was to treat them, but I didn’t find reading about that distressing; and I do cry easily.
Overall I would say this book is eye-opening, very personal, interesting and easy to read. I could not put the book down.
I do personally love to read medical books, not sure why, I just find them fascinating. I have read The Secret GP, Life of a Junior doctor, Fighting for your Life (a paramedic’s story), Do No Harm and This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay (hilarious). This book is one of the best I have read of this genre.
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