This page contains a shortlisted entry by Faizan ul Haq for the RCPsych Future Archives Competition.
I am a Psychiatry Core trainee Doctor, in probably one of the busiest Psychiatry rotation in England (South London and Maudsley NHS Trust/Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust), currently working on a 16-bedded Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Woolwich, Greenwich, London. It is probably the maximum bedded PICU in South London.
For the archive, I have written a poem, titled “Those 30 minutes of daylight”.
This poem, briefly highlights how the pandemic changed a very important aspect, leave off a PICU, for the service users. It highlights, the impacts both on staff and on service users. It acknowledges the emotional, psychological, and physical aspects of this pandemic enforced change, on the lives of most unwell patients that we care for in Psychiatry. It also touches on the Psychiatry inpatient bed crisis, which was deepened due to COVID-related ward closures.
Those 30 minutes of daylight
I worked in London.
Those were the glory days,
As the city never slept,
And we had to keep up the pace.
I worked as a trainee Psychiatrist,
Unaware of the virus blitz we were about to face.
I worked on a ward full of mental ill health,
But little did they know that they were unwell.
And it is a fact,
That all were under a mental health act.
How else should’ve we provided intensive care,
As any insight in illness was extremely rare.
But this happy lot of 16, on the ward did care,
About their breaks from the ward,
As they felt the time on ward was hard.
They got breaks, to go out accompanied,
And see their Dad, Mom, or mates.
They got breaks, and argued in ward rounds,
How their bank card is less on pounds,
And hence should get a bank leave.
This would be agreed upon by the chief,
And they would get their leave.
But then we were struck.
Struck hard by this virus.
Rules were changed,
And we could not explain,
To this lot of 16 for whom we care,
That why they cannot see their Dad, mom or mates.
It was soul crushing,
As they requested and bargained.
It was disillusioning,
As we could do nothing.
At times there were punches,
Abd our happy lot would end up beating nurses.
It became frightening to walk in.
All we could give them,
Were virtual calls to their loved ones,
But no more co-op and smoking runs,
And just once, a 30-minute run.
Just once in a day,
a handful of seconds to get away,
From what seemed to them as an eternity,
As beds kept shutting down and wards getting closed.
It went on for months,
It could not have been fun.
They would come up and ask,
“When is my turn?”
I felt crushed and felt our plight,
As right in the middle of this virus blitz,