Two generations of NHS medics work side-by-side fighting coronavirus

Despite being based in different areas of the hospital, the four family members often find themselves working side-by-side helping patients.

Four members of a family who all work at the same hospital have spoken of their pride in fighting coronavirus together.

Debbie Cottrell, 60, works as a specialist colorectal nurse alongside her two sons Jack, 28, an assistant physio, and Peter, 32, a psychiatrist doctor, and daughter-in-law Roxanne, 33, a junior doctor at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey.

Despite being based in different areas of the hospital, they often find themselves working side-by-side helping patients.

The family have been working at the same hospital for years, and it is the same place where Jack, Peter and Roxanne were all born. Debbie’s third son Patrick, a GP in York, was also born at Frimley.

Debbie said: “I get very excited when I see them. Of course, at this worrying time they are working with Covid patients, we all are, and I often have to refer some of my patients to see Peter.

“And if I am on the wards I see Jack working with my patients. And with Roxanne, when I go down to A&E to see patients there, it is lovely to see her there.

“I am a proud mum and I love them all working here.”

However, the pandemic has seen work in the hospital grow, with the A&E capacity doubled to help cope with Covid patients. Debbie has been re-deployed to work on a non-Covid ward.

Roxanne said: “They do mental health check-ins with us because we have been all feeling the pressure.”

All four of them have been working on the front line, and at various points exhibited symptoms for Covid-19.

Coronavirus – Wed May 27, 2020
Doctors treat a patient suffering from coronavirus on an Intensive Care ward at Frimley Park Hospital (Steve Parsons/PA)

Roxanne was forced to take six weeks off work with the virus after catching it at work, and was even hospitalised for two days at Frimley.

She said: “I was quite ill, I don’t think I’ve ever been that ill in my life. I was admitted to Frimley for two days for IV antibiotics and I was off sick for about six weeks. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t stand up.

“Peter and the kids had a much milder illness. So going into work I don’t worry as much about catching it now, but I know a lot of staff are very scared.”

Debbie said the whole family were relieved to see Roxanne back at work, although their regular family meet-ups are less frequent these days due to the busy workload.

Jack said: “I am quite confident and just have to hope I have quite a good immune system and I don’t let it get to me. We have all these PPE procedures in place and we are trying to be as safe as possible.”

Coronavirus – Wed May 27, 2020
A nurse prepares an injection for a patient suffering from coronavirus (Steve Parsons/PA)

The family said the support from the public has been “emotional”.

Debbie said: “We are very grateful but we are just doing our normal jobs, and we are happy to be working at Frimley.”

Roxanne added: “I have worked some tough shifts recently, and the night shifts are particularly tough, and going into work you can feel a bit down and you walk past the rainbows and thank-yous and you think, ‘Okay, I can do this’.”

With lockdown gradually being eased across the UK, Peter said: “It’s okay to be struggling. it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and it is definitely okay to talk to someone like you are in a bad place.”

“It’s really important during lockdown to make sure we are getting out,” Jack said.

“It’s very easy to stay inside. And it is important to ensure you are getting some form of exercise, even just going out for a walk. It’s good for your fitness and your mental health.”

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