Going back to work very worried - Asthma UK communi...

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Going back to work very worried


Hi everyone!

Hope your all doing well and safe. I just have a general question has anyone gone back to work since shielding? I work for the NHS and worried about going back does anyone else work for Nhs and how has their experience been?

Thanks guys


14 Replies

Hi mixmix ,

I’m guessing people’s experience will be very different depending if they are frontline nurses/doctors, or a secretary/receptionist for the NHS?!

I don’t work for the NHS but know there are some here who do so they might be more helpful.

Hope it goes ok though! Stay safe!

Hi Mix, I’m a nurse with blood donation. I haven’t returned to work as too anxious and worried and had handed in my notice. I couldn’t understand how to stay safe and return to seeing up to 200 donors in a day, despite being masked etc. I was then contacted by HR and, long story short, I had been incorrectly categorised as sick rather than shielding so had missed out on support and a risk assessment. I don’t know if everyone is using the same risk assessment but the risk assessment I have had to complete has a points system, so you got points for age, gender, conditions, BMI and your anxiety levels about returning. I am now awaiting a critical case review, probably next week. Hope that helps and you get some support and help.


Jimmy-Lyden in reply to nmcv13

Jeez! Risk assessment? I got a phone call to say "The bizniz expected me back on August 3rd"... I immediately put in for 2 weeks annual leave. When I did go back I was handed 2 wipes, 2 masks, a pair of nitrile gloves and a small bottle of sanitiser (I'm a lorry driver in Royal Mail). Day 2 wipes and gloves. Day 3 wipes, gloves & masks. Day 4 & 5 gloves & wipes. The first thing I wipe is the entrance / exit handles - dirty. Next the steering wheel - filthy, absolutely filthy except day 4. The windows & surfaces all get wiped, all except day 4 were filthy. I put in another weeks annual leave.

There's a 2nd outbreak coming and it's coming to warehouses around the country. The Mail Centre is just a big warehouse with virtually no social distancing to be seen, except in the back rooms (admin depts).

mixmix in reply to nmcv13

Hi Nicky,

Thank you for your reply. I’m in the same boat as you and really considering handing in my notice.

But then the worry of money starts to kick in. As much as they try risk assess people there is always risk and that’s what is scary. I know we have to wear masks but patients do not - so counter productive !

I wish we knew more about how Covid affects people with severe asthma so o could make a more informed choice.

It’s worrying that this will be here for a long time so what does that mean for people like us? Do you go to shops or are you completely shielding? Have you started to see people outside your household?

I haven’t been to the shops and don’t meet people I’m so Scared.


nmcv13 in reply to mixmix

Hi Mix, I completely isolated for 2 months then started walking very early morning, then later in a park where I could easily socially distance. In the last 2 weeks I’ve done more, meeting people outside, walking, sitting outside and finally had something from a cafe when I could eat outside. I dash in and out of shops for small amounts only when I have to, as I get a tesco delivery weekly. I have been trying to see everyone before the weather means meeting outside is off the agenda.

I’m lucky I took my pension at 55 last year after 37 years so I have a buffer. Have you seen this article in the BMJ that has a table rating risk of activities? May help with making safe decisions and with your risk assessment. Take care. Nicky


Hi, I work in admin for NHS and I was on phased return since beginning of August and now back full time but I have changed my hours to avoid rush hour. It was a little concerning at first especially getting public transport for first time since March but it was ok. I carry hand sanitiser with me which I use if I start feeling anxious and it seems to calm me. Talk to your manager about your concerns, if they are like mine they will be flexible, I still have the option of working from home where needed if I feel I can’t continue in office - you might fine that also.

mixmix in reply to skippy11

Hey Skippy11,

Thanks for getting back to me. You mentioned you get public transport what type of mask do you wear? And do you have to wear a different mask at work?

I work with patients and my team wear the surgical masks which is worrying as that doesn’t stop what you breath in more acts as a physical barrier to what comes out.

I really what to go back to work. And it’s crazy o have worked with patients with TB and other viral infections where I’ve had to wear PPE to which I’m experienced with virus’s - it’s just this Covid has scared me and I’m confused as what to do.


skippy11 in reply to mixmix

I wear a black cotton mask I purchased at Asda. It has elastic style around the face, they ask that we wear surgical masks at work but I find it quite difficult to breathe in those so stick to my own. I think management are more happy to get you back to work so are quite flexible at my place

If you are worried about returning to work after shielding then ask if you can have an occupational health review in light of your asthma and the risks posed by Covid-19. HR will be able to arrange for the occupational health team to carry out the review.

The review will recommend reasonable adjustments to the workplace in order to minimise the risks posed by Covid-19. Reasonable adjustments can mean a change in duties if you were going to be exposed to patients or working from home if you work in admin - these are examples of the type of adjustments that can be applied.

If you are in a union or a member of RCN then have a chat with your representative so that they can support you with any resistance by the employer.

The employer has a legal duty of care to their employees and reasonable adjustments are just one way to help them ensure that the workplace is safe for those employees who may be more vulnerable.

All the best.

mixmix in reply to Poobah

Hey Poobah,

Thanks for your reply. Yep my work place has this all in place. I just wanted to see how other people are managing going back to work.



Hi mix mix. I’m a support worker in NHS. I had risk assessment with occ health She said I could go back to work with requirements in place. I was told on Thursday I would be as safe as houses when I go back. Yesterday I was told I am now getting redeployed instead. I have no idea where I’m going. I will be having a teams meeting this week with HR and nursing manager. I feel like I have just been left adrift to sort this out myself. I will be contact the union this week tho

I work front line in the emergency and ICU departments. I have been working since day one. And I am not going to lie...it is scary, tiring, extremely exhausting and sad. I am sure I have lost a lot of weight just by wearing the protective gear alone! I have never had acne, or blemishes on my face growing up, but my face is a mess from the masks we wear. I have seen some sad situations, and am finding it hard to keep going in. I have never been so tired. It was a very hot and humid summer, which didn’t help things. I think I have been in a constant asthma flare since March. It gets better, and the day after or the day after that I can’t talk or my chest is full. I sleep maybe two hours a night with all the congestion and coughing.

I know you are scared. I am too. If you have to go off shielding, and go back, listen to all they tell you to do. They will have plans in place. You have to look out for yourself. Your own health is so important. (A tip if you will be working with the public: I have a different set of sneakers for going to work, for at work, and for everyday at home. The “at work” sneakers stay there. The sneakers “to and from work” stay outside my house. I don’t bring them in my home.). It is a pain, but now we have to be more aware when going about our lives. Life is so different these days. I wish you well. If you need to talk, I am here. :)

nmcv13 in reply to Willow7733

Hi Willow,

This is said with love and concern for a fellow NHS worker - are you getting medical support for your own asthma? It sounds like you are giving so much and neglecting your own health. Please look after yourself as you would look after your patients. Stay safe and well.


Willow7733 in reply to nmcv13

In all honesty, I would agree with you. It is not something that I have taken care of like I should.

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