Fewer people have crossed the Greenlandic Ice-cap than have summited Everest. It’s a long, arduous journey taking at least a month for experienced, seasoned artic explorers. The cap can only be crossed on foot (or, more precisely, skis) so all provisions need to be hauled across ice which has been growing thinner every year with climate change. Temperatures are extreme and without access to a tree line, the route is exposed. And then there is the small matter of polar bears….
Taking this on is not, therefore, something I am doing lightly. I am unfit (thanks Covid!) and have an eye disorder which means I am classified as partially sighted. Moreover, I work abroad in a subtropical climate (Singapore). And I can’t ski. But, these challenges can be overcome. And I intend to do just that in order to raise much needed funds for mental health services for frontline NHS healthcare workers.
Covid-19 has affected us all, but NHS hospital staff have been working tirelessly under “state of emergency” conditions for months. They have faced shortages of PPE, oxygen and other supplies and have had to manage thousands of critically ill patients simultaneously. Many have said that there have never been such enormous demands on staff in peacetime. And it has taken a heavy toll. A recent study (Jan 2021) published in BJPsych Open, found around a third of hospital healthcare workers reported clinically significant symptoms of anxiety (34.3%) and depression (31.2%), while almost a quarter (24.5%) reported clinically significant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. And whilst vaccination is underway, the ongoing effect of this traumatic period on healthcare workers mental health is unknown. I am therefore raising funds to allow NHS frontline workers to get the help they need, when they need it. As someone who has suffered from anxiety, panic disorders and depression, I know how painful this is, and how long and hard recovery can be – with effects being felt long after the “event” has passed.
I am in discussions with a number of national charities on creating a dedicated ring-fenced fund to pay for care for NHS frontline hospital staff. I am taking this step, as I want to ensure that any and all funds raised go towards paying for care for those that need it, rather than being spent on advocacy or research. Should the target of 1mil be exceeded, I will incorporate an NGO to manage the funds and procure cost-effective care – making sure no healthcare worker is left behind.