EUROPEAN doctors, nurses and paramedics are battling with new challenges facing them from the pandemic. Not even full protective clothing has reduced the burden in any radical significance. Rather they have become an enduring image of the global crisis.
But stress and anxiety brought on by the risk of dealing with several serious illness and deaths, not only added new twists but, have become commonplace on the medical frontline.
Now, professional bodies and experts in Europe’s worst-hit countries want more support to tackle the psychological impact on staff — particularly if a second wave strikes.
According to a Belgian mental health expert, Xavier Noel, nurses as of most concern because of their proximity to seriously ill patients and the dying
“We’ve got all the ingredients for a major risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. “They’ve faced a totally unusual death rate and way of dying, in a more dehumanised context, without the presence of families to support them,” he said.
Europe has officially seen nearly 175,000 deaths from more than two million cases, and across the continent the battle to save lives has taken a punishing toll.
In Belgium, studies indicated that more than twice as many healthcare workers than usual had thought about quitting the profession, and levels of unhappiness were four times higher.
Another found alcohol consumption highest among healthcare professionals.
In France, one healthcare workers’ support association said it was receiving more than 70 calls a day from medics about the crisis.
Some seven in 10 were from women and a handful of calls were even deemed to indicate “an imminent risk of suicide”.
In Spain, more than 50,000 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 — 22 percent of the total cases in the country, according to the health ministry.
In United Kingdom, whose death toll is second only to that of the United States, the country’s only charity offering mental health support for first responders is also warning of a looming crisis.