Nurse Dawn Bilbrough whose panic buying plea went viral is considering quitting after COVID

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·2-min read

Watch: COVID-19: Nurse Dawn Bilbrough calls for end of panic buying

A critical care nurse, whose plea for the public to stop panic buying went viral last year, has revealed that she is now considering quitting after the coronavirus pandemic.

Dawn Bilbrough saw the video message she shared on social media go viral in March 2020 after she found supermarket shelves empty following two days of work.

Now, the 52-year-old from York has told BBC Radio 4 that she is could leave the profession after a “relentless, incredibly traumatic and emotionally and physically exhausting” past year.

Read: Minister defends plans to extend ‘excessive and disproportionate’ COVID lockdown powers in England for another six months

Speaking as the anniversary of her viral video approached, she said: "There have been times when I've come home and had a good cry because we have witnessed so much.

“We're at the patient's bedside 12 hours a day and they haven't had that usual psychological support from their families.”

Nurse Dawn Bilbrough's tearful message went viral last March. (Dawn Bilbrough/Twitter)
Nurse Dawn Bilbrough's tearful message went viral last March. (Dawn Bilbrough/Twitter)

Bilbrough added that healthcare workers have got to know the patients but then they’ve fallen seriously ill, been placed on ventilators and have often not pulled through.

She said: “That's been difficult because personally I've felt a bond to my patients and to witness them not progress as we would wish. That's been really hard."

The nurse also described the “burden” of seeing patients die so often as she usually lost a patient in intensive care once a fortnight but during the pandemic that has skyrocketed to several a day.

Watch: Nurse brands proposed £3.50-a-week pay rise an "absolute disgrace'

During the second wave, she told the BBC that more people in intensive care died rather than survived.

She said: “I was once working in a pod where there were four patients with COVID.

"I left my shift at eight in the evening. When I returned the next day all the patients had died and were replaced with different people.

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“Although it's hard bearing this burden, you don't become desensitised - if you do, it's time to give up the profession."

Throughout the pandemic, nurses have spoken out about the trauma of working on the frontlines.

In December, Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, president of the Doctor’s Association UK, said in a widely shared Twitter thread that she and her colleagues are “at breaking point”.

Meanwhile, the government faced an enormous backlash after announcing that nurses would receive just a 1% pay rise after their work on the frontlines.

Watch: COVID-19: PM must 'stand by' nurses who saved him from coronavirus'