Donegal nurse becomes the ‘face’ of the NHS

Anita Martin, right, with her work colleagues on Christmas Day.


A DONEGAL nurse has become the ‘face’ of NHS government campaign against coronavirus.
Anita Martin from Annagry is a Nursing team leader working in the critical care unit at King’s College Hospital in south London.
Under the caption ‘Nurse on the front line’ the image of Anita’s face behind the personal protection equipment (PPE) was used on the front of last week’s Sunday Times. On Monday she was contacted by King’s press office as they had been approached to use the image for the Government campaign.
“The next thing I knew, my nephew had sent me a video from Boris’ snap chat and there I was lit up in red and yellow! Whilst the original image has a different tone, if the more frightening image of ‘Stay inside or you’ll have this one standing over you’ works to keep people inside and take this seriously then I am happy with that,” she said.
The NHS poster reads Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives adding that anyone can get coronavirus and anyone can spread it.
Speaking to the Donegal News from London yesterday, Ms Martin explained how someone from Annagry in west Donegal or “Daniel O’Donnell Country”, as she often offers enquirers in London, found herself in the headlines.
“I attended Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola and at some point after finishing transition year I remember coming home and announcing to my mother, Sheila, that I was going to be a nurse. She completed her nurse training in Glasgow where she met my father, Tommy, before returning to Donegal. Nursing is universally acknowledged as a challenging job but only a fellow nurse can truly appreciate not only the nuances and unique toll that is taken but the immense satisfaction it offers too. The support I receive from them is unwavering,” she said.
The training Anita received both at Letterkenny IT and Letterkenny University Hospital was among the best in the country, which she probably did not appreciate until she started her first job in a busy London Acute Medicine Unit.
There was an employment moratorium in place when Anita graduated in 2010 and, like so many others, found herself moving to London and a job in St George’s Hospital before moving to King’s College Hospital to work in Intensive Care before entering into a Team Leader role in her current unit.
What’s happening now is totally unprecedented and like other hospitals across the world theatres, recovery units and other areas in King’s have all been transformed into areas capable of caring for ventilated patients.
“The team work and camaraderie is incredibly humbling,” she said.
Ms Martin will now be working at the Nightingale Hospital set up in the ExCel centre in East London in a bid to ease the pressure on the Critical Care areas in the hospital. GThe Nightingale Hospital, which has a 4,000 bed capacity, was officially opened this morning just days days after construction work started.
“What they have achieved there in the past week and a half is unbelievable,” she said.
“Usually our role is as much about providing comfort, compassion and reassurance during a person’s most vulnerable time and we convey that with our facial expressions, touch and how we speak to people.
“Now we are working in noisier environments, the masks and the visors hinders all communication, verbal and non verbal, between each other and with our patients. This is what they see when they wake up and before they are sent to sleep to be intubated and ventilated. It’s frightening for them and all they have to look at for reassurance are the eyes behind the mask,” she said.

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