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  • Writer's pictureRichard Cree

100 Days

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

17th March 2021

UK COVID Deaths – Daily 141 / 7-Day average 121

Total UK COVID Deaths within 28 days – 125,831

Total UK Deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate – 146,487 (up to 5th Mar)

James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 603

All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 55

James Cook Critical Care

COVID cases – 10 (8 ventilated)

Non-COVID cases – 43 (26 ventilated)

It has been 100 days since the first UK patient received a COVID vaccine. Margaret Keenan was also the first patient in the world to be vaccinated as part of a mass COVID vaccination programme. Since then 25 million people in the UK have been vaccinated. Our population stands at nearly 69 million people, meaning that over 36% of people in the country have now received a first dose of the vaccine. This is a truly staggering achievement and one to celebrate. Go NHS!

Despite a warning today that the supply of vaccines may be a bit rocky over the next month, the NHS is still on course to vaccinate all those over the age of 50 by mid-April. Patients in their 50’s make up a significant proportion of our ventilated COVID patients and so this should ultimately mean far fewer admissions to ICU.

At the hospital things are getting better all the time. We are now admitting less than a handful of COVID patients every day and this has inevitably led to fewer patients needing CPAP and ventilation. The increase in non-COVID patients that we have been seeing also appears to have levelled off and we are hoping to close another of our surge ICUs any day now.

In order to make this more likely, we transferred two COVID patients to other hospitals today. A lot of nearby hospitals have managed to close all their surge units and are already back within their normal ICU footprint and have empty beds. Sadly, it may still be a while longer before we can achieve this milestone and we shall have to remain jealous of our neighbours for a little longer.

It’s only now that things are quietening down a little that Nicky and I are beginning to realise how very, very tired we both are. To be honest, the fatigue feels more mental than physical and the best word that sums it up is ‘weariness’. Of course, it’s not just us, you can see the same thing in all the ICU staff and I am a little worried that, even with the situation improving, the next few months may be tougher than everyone is expecting.

However, despite all being knackered, we were able to take some time out to celebrate Val’s retirement last week. Val is one of our longest serving nurses and has been working in the NHS for the past 48 years. She is one of an increasingly small number of nurses who spent their formative years at the old Middlesbrough General Hospital. Life was a lot more fun back then; the Intensive Care Unit was right next to A&E and was housed in a run-down building that was a little smaller than a shoebox. It was a cracking little ICU and I remember my time working there with Val very fondly. Life was simpler back then and I remember that staff could nip out the back door to sit in some makeshift deck-chairs for some sunshine and a smoke, or whenever they needed to escape the wrath of Dr Riddle.

The whole atmosphere was a little bit like being in a Carry-On Movie to be honest, and all the better for it. There was a smaller, low-tech, vintage feel to the place and many of us were upset when it was time to move across town to the current South Tees site in 2003. Shortly afterwards, the hospital was pulled down and a housing estate sprang up in its place. Instead of the ICU you can now find a smart, soulless starter-home. In fact there’s a good chance that someone’s living room is built on top of where the ICU Sluice Room used to be. I wonder if the current residents experience strange, ghostly bed-pan smells whilst settling down to watch Netflix on a Friday night? Perhaps they are haunted by the ghosts of enema’s past?

It’s not as if Val needs to justify why she’s leaving but she is keen to stress that she is going before she gets far too old and tired. Now, more than ever, there are so many of us who understand exactly what she means.

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Mar 22, 2021

My memories of being a student nurse pre date even the ITU in the 'new' wing. We used to 'special' patients on the general wards. I remember one particular night when the power kept going off and of course back then everything went off, lights sockets everything. There would then be a short while untill the generator kicked in so we had to disconnect the patient from his ventilator and connect an Ambu bag. This took almost the exact same time as it took for the genny to start up. So by the time youd done it the power came back, so you had to disconnect the ambu bag and connect the ventilator again. You couldnt chance it and wait…

Mar 22, 2021
Replying to

I got stuck in the lifts at MGH with a ventilated patient due to those dicky power outages. I hate lifts to this day because of it.


Mar 19, 2021

My brother is currently on a ventilator in ICU at James Cook. He has been there for about 7 weeks but I have only just discovered your blog. I just wanted to say thank you for being so open and honest and for sharing your experiences. It has been hard not to be able to see him and although the staff have been amazing and willing to speak to my family as often as they have needed reassurance or information, it is difficult to fully comprehend everything that is taking place to try and keep him alive. I find your diary and the insights (into what is currently my brothers world) extremely comforting. It helps me to understand some of…


Richard Cree
Richard Cree
Mar 18, 2021

Thank you everyone. I love the idea of Sterile Services having a cat! I think that one fact illustrates just how much hospitals have changed over the years. Cheers, Richard

Richard Cree
Richard Cree
Mar 18, 2021
Replying to



Mar 18, 2021

Thank you, thank you for taking time out to write your blog. You and your wife will be weary, with all the work, stress and expectations you are experiencing. All staff are in our thoughts, despite all the negativity media are shoving down out throats. Remember MGH and of course our business was so involved in South Cleveland Hospital, we did all the signage inside and out for the new hospital.

Hope the numbers keep falling and you can see light at the end of the long tunnel. Thank you.


Mar 18, 2021

I have fond memories of MGH I worked in the Burns Unit next door to ITU - I kne w of Dr Riddle visited our unit occasionally!

Congratulations to Val on her length of service and here's to a long and happy retirement - she is so right about not being to old or tired to enjoy her retirement.

Richard you and your team (and Nicky) and everyone in the NHS are in the hearts of patients and the public for what you do on a daily basis ❤️

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