Recently, I was happy to go to the city centre hospital and see one of my specialist doctors. It was wonderful to see a doctor face to face after two years of phone calls here and there and seeing what I could do for myself. What I did notice while I sat waiting for my doctor was the size of every nurse. One nurse was slim. All the others were obese, and some morbidly obese. One nurse did not walk, but waddled along the corridor. Her bottom was so big, it would have been possible for the nurse to carry an obs machine on it, and her legs were so fat that she could not walk properly.
I am carrying more weight than I want to, and I have undertaken the diet that I used several years ago to lose two stone. I am carrying more weight than I want to, and all but one nurse I saw dwarfed me in terms of fatness. I was glad to see that my doctor was a Slim Jim.
Why is it a problem if nurses are obese or even morbidly obese? Firstly, we are living with covid-19. When an obese person contracts covid, the person’s risk of being hospitalised with Covid-19 is increased by 113%, being admitted to Intensive Care Units by 74% and of dying by 48%, irrespective of age according to the British Medical Journal. When a person has complex co-morbidities such as diabetes and heart disease – as is often the case with people who are obese – there are even worse outcomes. Therefore, by being obese, nurses – who are in hospitals surrounded by people carrying Covid-19 – are putting themselves at risk of severe illness or death.
According to the Journal of Infectious Diseases, obese people who are hospitalised with Covid-19 need more oxygen treatment, they have an altered immune system and they have a higher viral load of covid-19.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases says the problems with Covid-19 in someone who is obese are “multi-factoral”. “Impaired cardio-vascular, respiratory, metabolic and thrombotic function, amplified or dysregulated immune responses that lead to more viral replication and a greater inflammatory immune response, and higher levels of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptors, which allows SARS-CoV-2 to enter cells.”
So the second reason why we need to cut obesity in nurses is that if they have Covid-19, their viral load is much higher, therefore patients are at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 from obese nurses. Patient safety is being put at risk.
I worked in four hospitals for an agency and I worked in one hospital for the NHS ten years ago. I was working as a nursing assistant on many wards, but with my main placement on the brain injury and stroke ward. We were in Scotland and had many patients with MS. At the time, it was found by Scottish medical scientists that the reason why MS is so prevalent in Scotland was because of the typical Scottish diet which was high in fat, and thus cut off the functionality of one of the main arteries in the neck, thus cutting off blood and oxygen from the brain and the nervous system.
While I was working for the NHS, the hospital I was working in put on zumba classes at lunchtimes. You may think this was a great plan. It wasn’t. No nurse or nursing assistant could attend because we all had 30 minute lunch breaks, and everyone’s breaks were staggered over a two-three hour period so that the ward was always adequately staffed. The NHS putting on zumba classes at a lunchtime was nothing more than a virtue signal and box ticking exercise.
I also noticed that nurses have very unhealthy diets. When patients leave a ward, going home after being made as well or as comfortable as possible, they give presents to the staff as a thank you. These are almost always boxes of chocolates or biscuits. The ward office always had a stack of boxes of chocolates and biscuits. When you work on a ward, it is easy to dip into the office and grab three chocolates from a box and go back to work rather than eat a few segments of an orange and then go back to work.
Look at what snacks patients have at their bedsides. We remember all the old jokes about grapes. Now, patients rarely have a fruit bowl at the side of their beds, and instead have boxes or even a drawer full of chocolate and crisps. The hospital shops sell a small amount of fruit that usually has seen better days, and aisles full of chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks.
On the ward I mainly worked on, most Sundays was “treat day”, when the nurses would phone in a take away. Again, food that was loaded with salt, fat and sugar.
The NHS and the UK government want all frontline staff to be double-jabbed with the Covid vaccine because the vaccines can limit the seriousness of symptoms in people. However, the NHS are doing nothing to tackle obesity in its frontline staff, which seems to run contrary to their plan to limit the severity of Covid symptoms in their staff. If the NHS was serious about keeping its staff healthy, each member of frontline staff would have a regular appointment with a dietician to get their weight to a healthy level. Patients are sent to see dieticians if they are chronically over weight or under weight, so why not the staff?
I am in my 40s. I have a genetic condition that means I am more likely to be overweight, as are all the women in my family. No medical practitioner, no doctor, no nurse, has ever recommended I lose weight. I have always been a size 14-16. I am currently 11 1/2 stone. I should not be. A woman of my height should be more around 9 1/2 stone. The shape of my body when fat means that I am at greater risk of heart disease and diabetes. No medical practitioner has ever told me to lose weight. One nurse even said that she was envious of me being 11 stone. She was far fatter than me. A nurse told me that she was envious of my level of unhealthiness.
When I am ill, when one of my conditions plays up, when we face a global pandemic, I look to the NHS for guidance. We look to our health authorities for help, to tell us what to do. How can I have any faith in the NHS if the GPs who are treating me or the nurses who are weighing me are morbidly obese?
I really hope that the NHS starts to take the health of its frontline staff seriously, and that staff themselves start to take responsibility for their own health and fitness, for their own sakes, as well as for the sake of their patients.