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Essex cardiology nurse lifts lid on plight of NHS heroes

A cardiology nurse from Essex has raised the alarm about the challenging conditions faced by NHS staff and the knock-on impact that waiting lists are having on patients.

Michael, 33, looks after patients who have suffered from heart attacks in his role at Basildon University Hospital’s Cardiothoracic Centre.

“We help make sure that patients who have had a heart attack are treated and returned home as quickly as possible. The faster we do it, the more likely we are to save them”, said Michael, who has uncovered the devastating effect of record waiting lists on NHS staff.

“During the pandemic, I had to hold the phone up for a dying patient while they spoke to their loved ones on FaceTime”, recalls Michael, who said that having supportive colleagues helped him deal with the mental and emotional impact of working with patients in their final moments. “Dealing with the psychological impact of the work we do is really hard, but my team was great, and the bond you form by working with people in that environment is powerful.” 

Pointing out that NHS workers don’t always get the appreciation they deserve, Michael said that “it was nice when everyone clapped for us, but there is a lot more that could be improved when it comes to staffing and pay.”

Michael spoke about his experiences as a cardiology nurse after receiving free laser eye surgery as part of Optical Express’s ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign, which is helping NHS and Emergency Service workers by donating another £1 million worth of free laser eye surgery.

He said many of the challenges of the job have been eased by the free laser eye surgery, as he no longer needs to worry about the problems wearing glasses can cause for emergency workers like him. “Because of all the PPE we had to wear, I would get really hot and my glasses would fog up. Not only that, but my glasses would often fall onto a part of my skin which I had sterilised, making it harder to help patients.”

“I couldn’t believe it when Optical Express told me I’d get this life-changing surgery for free” said Michael, noting the treatment was particularly welcome during a cost of living crisis, which has hit NHS nurses especially hard.

David Moulsdale, Optical Express Chairman and CEO, said: “NHS workers like Michael make incredible sacrifices for us all each day, and far too often they don’t get the gratitude or appreciation they deserve. Our ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign was set up to say thank you to amazing individuals like Michael by transforming their lives with free laser eye surgery.”

It is the second time that Optical Express has chosen to thank NHS and Emergency Service workers in this way. In 2017, they launched their first ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign which saw them give away £1 million worth of free laser eye surgery. Over the course of the two campaigns more than £2 million worth of surgery will improve the lives of NHS and Emergency Service workers.

Since Optical Express was founded 32 years ago, the team are proud to have supported hundreds of humanitarian and philanthropic projects, donating over £33 million and counting to worthwhile causes in the UK and abroad.

Watch Michael's Video