"There were times I felt helpless" – a chief medial officer reflects on a year of the Pandemic.

Rajesh Jain joined Barking, Havering, and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust as clinical lead for critical care just three months before the pandemic hit.

“I’ll never forget the day the first Covid-19 patient died on our Intensive Care Unit, it was the day before my son’s birthday and our family had been planning to celebrate as normal. Of course we had heard the news about the pandemic, and everyone was anxious, however, I had no idea how it would pan out.

"It’s very difficult to explain my emotions as such a strange time, it could be frightening, and even a bit exciting – I think that came from seeing my team do their jobs so well, and being so willing to go above and beyond."

Mr Jain said critical care staff went above and beyond in their response to the crisis.

"My family were worried about me, however they were also very understanding," he continued. "During lockdown I would hear a lot about families spending more time together, however, like a lot of us, I didn’t really have an opportunity to do that. Even when I was with them I wasn’t really mentally there.

"I felt more prepared when the second wave hit, however, the workload was higher as we had more Covid patients. It was exhausting for all of us. The peak of the second wave was the worst I’ve seen in my career.

There were times I felt helpless, when we would do everything we could for a patient and still couldn’t save them. I’ve had flashbacks and I think it will have a long-term effect on many of us. I also realised my own potential and have done things I would have thought impossible before."