Dr Nikki Lee (OS 2001) was born and raised in Hong Kong and attended Sevenoaks School Sixth Form. In 2005 she began medicine training at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, graduating with Distinction in Clinical Sciences in 2010. She works in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Guys' and St Thomas', London.
The Covid-19 crisis was no surprise; I am from Hong Kong and I felt increasingly anxious, and now angry, as the lessons being learned there were not being adopted in the UK. Many of us feel there was a lack of preparation, and even in my hospital we were scrabbling for PPE and making protocol changes under great pressure. All elective services were cancelled including, for a short while, cancer surgery. Clinics rapidly became as remote as possible; unprecedented changes have been made to the way we offer antenatal care.
The plus side is that many feel we are working far more efficiently. The lockdown has accelerated our ability to offer telemedicine and has forced healthcare providers to adapt, rapidly. It was a much needed review of the way we normally do things. We have skinned it down to emergency services; our juniors have been redeployed to cover emergency medicine, ITU and general medical services. I miss normality and I despair at the loss of lives across the globe. I think we will have a completely different outlook on what counts as a necessary going forward both at work and at home.
Thankfully, the Nightingale hasn't been needed; the nightmare of endless ventilators whirring was not made reality. The incredible acts of kindness that have been demonstrated, stories I can share with my children. Crisis brings out the best and worst in us, and I have enjoyed less pollution and a traffic-free cycle to work. I wake each morning with my windows wide open, and am struck by a strange feeling of joy and sadness as I realise I can hear birdsong rather than the normal drone of aircraft approaching Heathrow. I feel incredibly lucky to work on the frontline but feel torn between wanting to protect my family and a desire to do my job.
Image: Dr Nikki Lee performing Caesarean section, which have continued during the crisis