NHS diabetes chief warns of piling on 'life changing' lockdown pounds

NHS diabetes chief warns of the danger of piling on ‘life changing’ lockdown pounds as he fears many Britons have gained weight while stuck indoors

  • Professor Jonathan Valabhji has warned of negative health effects of lockdown
  • He warned that adults were burning fewer calories with fewer daily activities
  • But added that the pandemic was an opportunity to make changes in behavior 
  • Study found that people with diabetes are twice as likely to die from coronavirus
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Britons have probably piled on the pounds while stuck indoors, the country’s top obesity and diabetes doctor warned yesterday.

Jonathan Valabhji said adults were burning fewer calories because they were not travelling to work or carrying out other daily activities.

He said the pandemic should however serve as a ‘life-changing’ trigger for changes in behaviour – especially as studies have indicated that coronavirus is more deadly for the obese.

Professor Valabhji’s research showed this week that patients with Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity, were twice as likely to die than otherwise healthy individuals. His study of 24,000 patients found that nearly a third of those who died had diabetes, and that being morbidly obese further increased the risk of death.

Pictured: NHS diabetes chief, Professor Jonathan Valabhji

Professor Valabhji, who is national clinical director for diabetes and obesity at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: ‘A lot of people have spent a lot of time sitting indoors and there is a risk people have gained weight.

‘We won’t know that [for certain] until we see people start emerging from social distancing and we start putting people on scales.

‘For someone like myself, it’s a concern, it’s a worry for me.

‘You can see the risk that people might have gained weight sitting at home limited in what exercise they can do, not going about their daily activities and going to work. Am I worried that people have gained weight during this time? Yes, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that if people are stuck indoors they may have gained weight.’

Professor Valabhji, a consultant diabetes specialist at St Mary’s Hospital in central London, said coronavirus was an opportunity to start a healthier life.

‘One would hope that simple public health messages would land and land a little more strongly. If this is an ideal time to land a public health message – which I do believe it is – it would be eating healthily, eating a little less if you’re in the obese range and losing weight. Exercise is all part of that especially at a time when we’re no longer limited to one piece of exercise a day.’

The professor said that although adults could not change the other major risk factors for coronavirus – age and ethnicity – they could influence obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

‘The important thing about weight loss is that it has to be sustainable – incorporating habits that will last,’ he added.

‘Slowly and gradually incorporating habits that one can maintain is important. If people are in the obese range, then eating a little bit less, eating more healthily and exercising a bit more are intuitive ways to go forward.’

Earlier this month NHS figures showed that 26 per cent of men and 29 per cent of women are obese, which is defined as having a Body Mass Index of more than 30. Around 4.8million Britons have diabetes – the majority Type 2 – and rates have doubled in 20 years in line with rising obesity.

These levels are significantly higher than many other Western countries, prompting speculation that they may partly explain why the UK’s coronavirus death rates are the worst in Europe. Professor Valabhji said: ‘Diabetes is an independent risk factor for passing away with Covid… whether that is contributing to higher death rates in this country compared with others, I don’t think I can answer that and similarly with obesity.’

Other health experts are concerned that adults and children have been snacking more since the lockdown and ordering more takeaways. Caroline Cerny of the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of 44 medical colleges, charities and campaign groups, said: ‘Several surveys have shown that we are all snacking more during lockdown and it’s likely that this will lead to weight gain.

‘This isn’t helped by food companies continuing to aggressively market their unhealthy foods to us to ensure they stay centre stage in our minds while we are a captive audience.’

Earlier this month the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, ordered health officials to trawl through the records of thousands of pandemic victims to determine whether obesity, ethnicity and gender raise the risk of death from coronavirus.

The review was commissioned after researchers at the University of Liverpool warned that obesity increased the risk of dying from the virus by 37 per cent. 


Diabetes puts people at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 because it makes the immune system weaker, scientists say.

The illness, which affects more than four million people in the UK, is caused by abnormal levels of sugar in the blood. For most people this takes the form of Type 2 diabetes, in which there is too much sugar in the blood.

This, researchers, say, thickens the blood and reduces its ability to carry substances around the body at speed.

Dr Hajira Dambha-Miller, a GP and specialist in diabetes, said a patient’s blood becomes ‘like treacle’ as a result of high sugar levels.

‘Physically, it’s harder for the immune system to get to the virus,’ she said. ‘The virus bugs do a lot of damage before the immune system even realises it’s there.’

Therefore, when someone is infected with the coronavirus, it may take longer for their body to respond and fight it off, and the response may be less effective when it does begin.

Their illness doesn’t make a diabetic person any more likely to catch the virus itself – that is indiscriminate – just less likely to be able to recover quickly.

Dr Dambha-Miller added: ‘When the body does kick in, it won’t work as it should do. The immune cells are damaged because they’ve been saturated in sugar for years and don’t work the way they should.’  

The American Diabetes Association says it’s not clear if COVID-19 will pose a difference in risk between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

But the risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 is likely to be lower if diabetes is well-managed no matter whether it is type 1 or type 2.

The Association explains that people who have diabetes often have other health problems, such as obesity, heart disease or high blood pressure, which in turn contribute more to their risk of dying with COVID-19.

The ADA said: ‘Having heart disease or other complications in addition to diabetes could worsen the chance of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, like other viral infections, because your body’s ability to fight off an infection is compromised.

‘Viral infections can also increase inflammation, or internal swelling, in people with diabetes. This is also caused by above-target blood sugars, and both could contribute to more severe complications.’ 

People of black African or Caribbean, or south Asian, backgrounds are more likely to develop diabetes and have also been found to be at more risk of dying if they catch the coronavirus.

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More than 300 NHS workers and cops attacked during first month of coronavirus lockdown – The Sun

MORE than 300 NHS workers and cops were attacked in just one month of coronavirus lockdown, shocking new figures have revealed.

Max Hill QC, head of the CPS, also said there were 313 assault charges against emergency workers during April – among a total of 660 coronavirus-related charges.

The CPS charged 420 people in total for sickening attacks on police and the NHS – including lockdown louts who spat at and even bit hero workers.

There have also been assaults on NHS staff from people trying to steal their identification to use it to nab discounts at stores across the nation for medical workers.

Giving evidence to the Justice Committee at Parliament, Mr Hill said there were also 142 incidents of criminal damage, 99 public order offences, 62 common assaults and 44 shoplifting offences.

The chief revealed some yobs had been charged with multiple crimes, saying: "It might start with shoplifting and end with an assault on an emergency worker …we’ve identified particularly appalling conduct towards police, paramedics and nurses.”


Brits were warned at the start of the measures to curb the spread of the disease they would be prosecuted if they coughed or spat at emergency services – and faced up to a year in jail.

But hundreds of thugs have still been hauled before the courts for the sickening attacks despite the new laws being drawn up.

The Home Secretary has now warned sentences for people who cough on police officers will be doubled.

Priti Patel said yesterday she would be clamping down on anyone who assaulted key workers during the coronavirus crisis.

She told LBC: "I'm looking at (making sentences for coughing on police tougher) right now.

"We are doing more particularly on assaults on key workers and emergency workers. I'm looking to double sentences and we're going to do that."

Ms Patel added anyone who assaulted key workers would "feel the full force of the law and that's rightly so."

"We've seen some people being convicted and rightfully."

More than 14,000 people have been fined under emergency coronavirus legislation to enforce social distancing.

But of the 231 cases of people hauled before the courts for coronavirus-related offences 56 people were wrongly charged.

More to follow…

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In the age of coronavirus, NHS nurses are (quite rightly) our new A-list

Written by Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Celebrity updates? Forget ‘em. As people around the world celebrate International Nurses Day, we explore how nurses and healthcare workers have become the internet’s heroes. 

Updated on 12 May 2020: the coronavirus has turned the world upside down. Many of us are staying indoors in a bid to flatten the Covid-19 curve, just as many of us are working from home (or trying to, anyway: it’s hard to concentrate), and the daily death toll continues to rise on a daily basis.

But the world has changed in another, less obvious way, too. And that’s in how we define the word ‘celebrity’.

Once upon a time, we were all obsessing over social media updates from our favourite celebrities. Nowadays, though, our attention has turned to posts from the healthcare heroes fighting to save lives amid the ongoing pandemic. 

Case in point? Well, YouTube’s newest star, who boasts over 688,000 subscribers thanks to his videos addressing the realities of the novel coronavirus, is A&E nurse John Campbell. 

Over on Twitter, Dr Yale Tung Chen, an emergency physician at Hospital Universitario La Paz in Madrid, has racked up well over 67K followers after he began sharing daily updates about his own Covid-19 symptoms.

Meanwhile, on Instagram, Alessia Bonari, a young nurse working on the frontline of Italy’s fight against Covid-19, shot up to well over 120K followers after sharing a post outlining the realities of the disease. 

AndNick Dennison, a consultant anesthetist working in Frimley Park Hospital, went viral when his own Covid-19 plea received 102K shares on Facebook.

There are many others, of course. Health worker Robert Isaacs’ YouTube video, which saw him use a bucket of water and a plastic bottle to explain the government’s strategy on tackling Covid-19, racked up over 490,000 views in 24 hours. 

Dawn Bilbrough, a critical care nurse who couldn’t buy any food in the supermarket after a 48-hour shift, saw her own video go viral when she shared an emotional plea with the public to stop stockpiling. 

And let’s not forget Abdu Sharkawy, the doctor and infectious diseases specialist who shared his own powerful message about pandemic-induced selfishness… and racked up thousands of Facebook likes in the process.

It makes sense, of course, that we’re so interested in what these medical personnel have to say. They’re on the frontline, they know the coronavirus situation best, and we’re desperate for any and all information.

But it’s more than that, really: we’ve always been captivated by tales of courage and bravery. Of selfless sacrifice. Of superheroes. And these people are fighting to keep us safe. They’re risking their own health to ensure the safety of everyone else. They’re sacrificing time with loved ones in order to ensure that every Covid-19 patient in ICU gets the best care possible. 

It doesn’t get more superhero than that, does it?

Just a few weeks ago, 4,500 retired doctors and nurses signed up to rejoin the NHS in just 48 hours. Some 170,000 others volunteered to join the NHS Army. They did this in spite of all those video updates underlining the realities of coronavirus, and in spite of the fact that a shortage of hospital ventilators means doctors face some truly horrible decisions ahead.

And that’s why thousands of people around the country have been applauding these hard-working heroes every single Thursday at 8pm.

“During these unprecedented times they [NHS workers] need to know that we are grateful. Please join us… at 8pm for a big applause (from front doors, garden, balcony, windows, living rooms, etc.) to show all who are working at the frontline, our appreciation for their ongoing hard work and fight against the virus,” reads a statement about the initiative.

We here at Stylist will be joining in the applause whole-heartedly. Because every single one of these people deserves our love and support. 

But please remember this: while NHS staff are undeniably the A-listers of the coronavirus pandemic, they are heroes always.

With that in mind, we hope that, even after this Covid-19 nightmare is over, everyone will remember to support these hard-working healthcare heroes forevermore.

This article was originally published on 26 March 2020.

Image: Getty

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NHS Diary: At 11am there's a minute silence for the NHS staff we lost

DIARY OF AN NHS DOCTOR: One man just wants to go home to die, I refuse to let my parents visit me and I’m so busy that I miss the minute’s silence for the staff we’ve lost

Even in our hospitals, there is hope that the worst is over. But as one frontline NHS doctor reveals in her latest diary, the heartache and tragedy go on…


He just wants to go home to die

Since the crisis began, I’ve been drinking too much coffee to try to stay alert. I’ve suffered heart palpitations as a result, so I’m going to try detox this week – or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

The peak in the hospital seems to have been a couple of weeks ago, and we are starting to see an influx of regular patients. We still have Covid to contend with – it’s just that we aren’t overwhelmed.

This morning I’m asked to see a man in his 60s in a side-room on the regular ward. He has bladder cancer and has defied the odds for the past couple of years – he was originally told he had only months to live. But a routine check-up scan has shown that the cancer is much more widespread. To add insult to injury, the scan has shown likely Covid in his lungs.

His time is now very limited and he understandably wants to go home to die. Where he dies is the one thing he has control over.

Since the crisis began, I’ve been drinking too much coffee to try to stay alert. I’ve suffered heart palpitations as a result, so I’m going to try detox this week – or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Pictured: Staff at Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride, during an overnight ICU shift

He has no family and lives alone. There is an issue with discharging patients who are contagious and in need of support from hospice carers, but it seems inappropriate to keep him here while cancer and Covid work together to topple him.

Sending him home is the only right course of action. We need to make arrangements for the carers – who are the great unsung heroes of this crisis – to treat him. They will ensure he’s as comfortable as possible in his final days.

But he is concerned about having people come into his home. It isn’t unusual for people to be wary of carers – usually it’s because they are embarrassed about their place being a mess. He eventually agrees.

Cancer patients are going to be one of the biggest sufferers from this crisis. It’s one thing for the Government to call on patients to return to hospitals – but arranging cancer care is not straightforward. It takes time, planning and a great deal of care. I only hope that many won’t die as a result of staying away.


An alcoholic nearly blows us up

The weather has taken a bad turn – it’s amazing how rain can instantly darken moods. The Tube seems busier – is normal life returning?

On my journey, I read a news story about a New York doctor who has killed herself from the pressures of Covid-19. It’s all very jarring. The pressures have been horrendous for medics. It’s easy to blank it all out and forget just how bad it was a few weeks ago.

One of my patients, a lady in her 70s, died overnight. She was battling coronavirus while suffering various underlying health issues – so we established her ceiling of care (the level at which we stop medical treatment) last week. Her family saw her yesterday to say goodbye – that’s something at least.

At 11am, there was a minute’s silence for the frontline staff who have died since this crisis began – but I’m so busy rushing around treating severely ill patients that it isn’t until close to midday that I realise I’ve missed it. A sinking, depressive feeling washes over me at the notion I’ve missed my chance to pay my respects to those colleagues who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice in trying to save others.

At 11am, there was a minute’s silence for the frontline staff who have died since this crisis began – but I’m so busy rushing around treating severely ill patients that it isn’t until close to midday that I realise I’ve missed it

In the afternoon, there is a panic when a man in his 40s with alcohol issues tries to light a cigarette on the Covid ward. Often alcoholics get confused when they go cold turkey. He’s quickly stopped, but it’s a hair-raising moment. With the amount of oxygen in the room, he could have blown the whole place up. He’s given some nicotine patches to calm down.

Later, a man in his 70s in the Covid ward is desperate to leave. He’s taken his oxygen mask off and is half-dressed when a nurse apprehends him. I’m paged to come and calm the situation down. By the time I get there he’s at the ward’s entrance, coat half-draped over him, with his wife – who he had called to pick him up – loitering nearby trying to calm him down. ‘I’ve had enough,’ he says, panting as he struggles to breathe.

It’s the last thing I need. ‘Please, sir, if you don’t go back and put an oxygen mask back on you could be dead shortly,’ I say, trying to sound caring and authoritative at the same time. ‘Please, darling,’ his wife chimes in from a distance. ‘Think of the grandkids.’

He eventually agrees to go back. As annoying as he is, I don’t blame him for wanting to leave. I would feel the same.

In the afternoon, there is a panic when a man in his 40s with alcohol issues tries to light a cigarette on the Covid ward. Often alcoholics get confused when they go cold turkey. He’s quickly stopped, but it’s a hair-raising moment. Pictured: Staff work through the night at an ICU at Hairmyres Hospital


I refuse to let my parents visit

I’ve got a rare day off. We are being encouraged to start using up annual leave as soon as possible. I suspect it’s the fear of the second wave that is driving it, so people don’t take time off if the proverbial hits the fan again.

The summer is usually a quieter time for hospitals – winter is when it goes crazy. But I suspect we are in for one the busiest summers we’ve ever had.

I wish I could lie in to catch up on all the lost hours of sleep but body clocks always put an end to such aspirations – and anyway I need to do some shopping.

Even with the earlier NHS opening hours, shopping is a depressing spectacle – it’s hard to follow social distancing guidelines. I suspect everyone feels the same.

The summer is usually a quieter time for hospitals – winter is when it goes crazy. But I suspect we are in for one the busiest summers we’ve ever had. Pictured: A lab technician at the Corona Test Centre, Hammersmith, processes results

After shopping, I go for a long run through the empty streets of Central London. Every bus stop seems to have a ‘Thank you to our amazing NHS staff’ advertisement or one calling on people to ‘Stay at home, save lives’. God, what I would give right now to see a normal perfume advert.

Later on, I call my grandfather who is in a home with mild Alzheimer’s. The ONS figures this week regarding care home deaths are horrendous. The thought of our old people dying from Covid-19 alone and without any support is almost too much to bear. When this is all over we really should examine how we have ended up with such an appalling social care situation.

He’s confused by everything but seems fairly bright otherwise. If lockdown continues, God only knows when I will next see him…

My parents want to drop some things off in the evening and have a conversation from the end of the drive – but I can’t bear the thought of them coming anywhere near me. I’ve seen too many people their age to know they must stay away, as painful as that is. I can hear the disappointment in my mother’s voice when I refuse to back down.


Did patients catch COVID in hospital?

There is increasing concern among staff at the sheer volume of regular patients coming in – it is going to take a long time to clear the backlog.

One of the big problems is keeping the hospital clean, because Covid appears to be in the air. This is despite the excellent efforts of the cleaning team. They have been working flat-out, putting themselves at grave risk, doing a job few of us would want to do for a basic hourly rate. When people clap on Thursday nights for the NHS, these are the heroes who should be at the forefront of their minds.

Late morning, an elderly lady is moved to the Covid ward despite originally coming in following a bad fall several days ago. Yesterday her breathing became laboured and her swab has come back positive. Worryingly, she most likely caught it here.

There is increasing concern among staff at the sheer volume of regular patients coming in – it is going to take a long time to clear the backlog. Pictured: A member of Hairmyres Hospital ICU in PPE

In the afternoon, I treat a patient in her late 20s with serious learning difficulties. She was in hospital last week with abdominal pain and was discharged fairly quickly. She has come back in today with a high fever. We are treating her with oxygen while we wait for a swab result, but it looks like she has Covid.

Just like the elderly lady, did she catch it when she was last here?

Her mother is distressed on the phone – I try to reassure her as best as I can. It is made worse by the fact that she can’t visit her. We are not meant to be allowing visitors because of the PPE shortage – unless it is to say goodbye, and even then it is being rationed.

I’m left feeling empty. If the boot was on the other foot, I am not sure how I would cope.


A negative swab but I don’t believe it

This morning I tend to a man in his 50s who came in suffering from confusion. It is a symptom we have seen among Covid-19 sufferers so we are keeping him in an isolated room. His swab has come back negative, but it seems almost certain he has Covid-19 – the tests are simply not reliable. We re-swab him and treat him as if he’s positive.

The alcoholic who tried to light a cigarette in the ward earlier this week dies. He’s only in his 40s but with the amount of damage he’s done to himself, he couldn’t be salvaged once Covid-19 struck.

In the afternoon, I discover that we’ve run out of the forms we use to inform colleagues that a patient is not to be resuscitated. We have none on the ward, so I am forced to go on a wild goose chase around the hospital to find one. There have been so many of these forms used since the crisis began that, just like body bags, we were always going to start running dangerously low.

In the afternoon, I discover that we’ve run out of the forms we use to inform colleagues that a patient is not to be resuscitated. Pictured: Members of the Ambulance Service watch on Westminster Bridge on April 23 

In the afternoon, one of my previous Covid patients is readmitted. An elderly man, he was first hospitalised here in March for a broken hip but was discharged to another hospital for rehab where he developed Covid-19 symptoms. He tested positive and was subsequently returned here. Earlier this month he was discharged to his nursing home after he appeared to get better. In the past week, however, he has stopped eating and drinking.

He shouldn’t have been brought back here, but we need to treat him as best as we can. We’ll give him 24 hours to see if he improves.

I try to get hold of his sons to let them know their father is likely approaching the end of life – but neither answers the phone. I leave messages, but I don’t hear anything. I only hope we get hold of them before it is too late…

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What time is Clap for NHS Carers tonight? – The Sun

CLAP for our Carers has become a weekly tradition, in which the nation pulls together to show support for NHS workers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's what time the clapping begins, so you can get involved too.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

What time is Clap for our NHS Carers tonight?

The round of applause will take place from 8pm tonight – Thursday, April 30, 2020.

From its beginning on Thursday, March 26, hundreds of thousands of Brits join together each week to show support for the NHS.

All the major landmarks across the country also light up blue during the tribute, including the Wembley Arch, the Royal Albert Hall and Lincoln Cathedral.

A string of famous faces have joined in the clapping too, such as the Beckhams and Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who recovered from the virus himself with the help of the NHS.

Why are people clapping?

Organisers of Clap for our Carers say during these difficult times, NHS staff need to feel loved and appreciated by the public.

Many communities have also used  the clapping to uplift the nation's spirit during these unprecedented times.

Although the clapping is focused towards the NHS, volunteers and students will also be celebrated for their efforts to combat coronavirus.

Give now to The Sun's NHS appeal

BRITAIN’s four million NHS staff are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus.

But while they are helping save lives, who is there to help them?

The Sun has launched an appeal to raise £1MILLION for NHS workers. The Who Cares Wins Appeal aims to get vital support to staff in their hour of need.

We have teamed up with NHS Charities Together in their urgent Covid-19 Appeal to ensure the money gets to exactly who needs it.

The Sun is donating £50,000 and we would like YOU to help us raise a million pounds, to help THEM. No matter how little you can spare, please donate today here: www.thesun.co.uk/whocareswinsappeal.

How can I get involved?

The good news is that anyone can join in and it's totally free.

You can join in by standing on your balcony, or in your front garden, to give a rousing round of applause along with the rest of the country.

The campaign has also gone digital, if you don't want to go outside you can live stream yourself clapping via social media, using the hashtag #clapforourcarers on Twitter, or download posters to share.

There are also T-shirts you can buy, with the money being donated to NHS charities, you can see more about this here.


Don't miss the latest news and figures – and essential advice for you and your family.

To receive The Sun's Coronavirus newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.

To follow us on Facebook, simply 'Like' our Coronavirus page.

Get Britain's best-selling newspaper delivered to your smartphone or tablet each day – find out more.

How did Clap for our NHS start?

The campaign was launched by Dutch Londoner Annemarie Plas.

She was inspired to do this after seeing a similar tribute to health workers take place in her homeland of the Netherlands.

Other countries across Europe, including Italy and Spain, have also shown similar displays to thank its medical staff.

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I’m belting out opera songs to make my coronavirus patients smile – but fear other scared Brits are dying alone at home – The Sun

STANDING in the middle of a busy A&E department, Dr Alex Aldren takes a deep breath then belts out a famous opera song about hope through his protective mask.

It's an extraordinary scene – yet it's just another working day for the heroic frontline doctor, who has spent the past six weeks cheering up terrified coronavirus patients with his singing voice.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

Opera singer Alex, 30, returned to the NHS frontline last month to help fight COVID-19, which has killed more than 20,000 Brits, including a 13-year-old boy and a pregnant nurse.

But while he's been saving lives at virus-hit London hospitals, he hasn't allowed his musical talent to go to waste – with video footage of Alex serenading his medical colleagues recently going viral.

Patients really enjoy it – they don’t expect to be serenaded when they come into hospital!

Now, the doctor has revealed how he's also been singing to sick patients to lift their spirits – while tackling a pandemic that's tearing families apart and has killed fellow NHS medics.

"I’ve been working in A&E so that’s where I’ve been singing," says Alex, who has backed The Sun's Who Cares Wins Appeal to raise £1 million for NHS staff fighting on the frontline. 

"People really enjoy it – it’s not really what they expect when they come into hospital.

"Patients' relatives will also often pop out of rooms to see what the Hell is going on. I’m quite loud so they can normally hear me through the doors anyway!"

Give now to The Sun's NHS appeal

BRITAIN’s four million NHS staff are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus.

But while they are helping save lives, who is there to help them?

The Sun has launched an appeal to raise £1MILLION for NHS workers. The Who Cares Wins Appeal aims to get vital support to staff in their hour of need.

We have teamed up with NHS Charities Together in their urgent Covid-19 Appeal to ensure the money gets to exactly who needs it.

The Sun is donating £50,000 and we would like YOU to help us raise a million pounds, to help THEM. No matter how little you can spare, please donate today here: www.thesun.co.uk/whocareswinsappeal.

Giving patients hope

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, A&E departments across the UK have been split into hot and cold zones – for suspected COVID-19 patients and non-COVID-19 patients.

But from broken limbs to breathlessness, Alex says he sings to all patients.

"I’ll sing all sorts of things – classical musical numbers, whatever," he adds. 

"Puccini's 'Nessun Dorma' is often requested because it’s an amazing song. It’s all about triumphing so it’s obviously inspired a lot of people recently from Italy and all over the world."

Alex, affectionately dubbed 'Dr Opera' by his colleagues, grew up surrounded by both music and medicine, with his dad working as a doctor and his mum, a violinist.

Following in his father's footsteps, he trained in medicine for six years, at the University of Birmingham, before joining The Royal London Hospital in Tower Hamlets. 

By this point, he'd already fallen in love with opera – and would often bellow out songs to patients.

"It’s something I’ve always done, especially at Christmas," Alex recalls.

"A lot of patients are so bored – some are sitting on wards for weeks.

"There’s no entertainment or anything."

I sang to an elderly chap with quite bad dementia… he just completely transformed. He was clapping and singing along

He adds: "Once, a mate of mine was working on the elderly care ward. And he said, 'Oh mate, I’ve got an old opera singer on my ward, you’ve got to come and sing to him'.

"He was a chap who had quite bad dementia and he was really elderly. I met him and sang to him and he just completely transformed. He was clapping and singing along.

"That was a really special moment."

From medicine to music

After two years at The Royal London, Alex decided to leave the medical profession to become a tenor.

"As funny as it sounds, I felt like I could do more good with my singing than I could in medicine. I just felt like it was my calling – it's what I was meant to do," he recalls.

"I felt I could spread more joy to more people."

Alex joined the Royal Academy of Music, graduating in March last year, before embarking on his opera career – landing roles at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and venues across the globe.

But when COVID-19 struck, all of his singing work was cancelled.

Now, Alex is among nearly 20,000 fully qualified staff who have selflessly returned to the NHS frontline to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, after a call was put out for more doctors.

"It’s a real privilege to be on the front line because most people are sitting at home, scared, frustrated and wanting to help, but being told the best thing they can do is stay at home," he says.

"The Sun campaign is a fantastic thing. We’re so lucky in this country to have an NHS. We need to look after it and make sure it's a top priority. It’s such a treasure."

We’re so lucky in this country to have an NHS. We need to look after it and make sure it’s a top priority. It’s such a treasure

Today, Alex is working 12-hour shifts at The Royal London, Newham and Whipps Cross hospitals, where he's switched his opera costumes for sweltering PPE (personal protective equipment).

He examines suspected coronavirus patients when they come into A&E, assessing how breathless they are and whether they need to be admitted to hospital to boost their oxygen levels.

While some struggling patients make remarkable recoveries after being ventilated, others sadly die. And because coronavirus is a new disease, doctors can only guess which patients will make it.

"It does feel a little bit like being at war," Alex admits.

"We’re facing this new threat that nobody’s ever seen before.

He adds: "I recently saw a really lovely couple who were both really unwell.

"One ended up on intensive care. She’s still alive and hopefully will recover but it’s heartwrenching seeing loved ones in together and being so concerned for their partner as well as themselves."

Dying Brits 'refusing to go to A&E'

Worryingly, Alex says NHS staff fear other Brits suffering from heart attacks and other medical emergencies are dying at home because they're reluctant to go to A&E amid the crisis.

"A week ago, it was completely mad, there were so many people coming in," he says.

"This week, it’s been a little bit quieter.

"The consultants are worried that people are taking the 'stay at home' method a bit too literally. We’re worried that people are having heart attacks and strokes but aren’t coming in.

"If you are really concerned and are really sick, it’s important that you do come into hospital."

NHS heroes still smiling

For Alex, one positive during the pandemic is the morale of his NHS colleagues – who continue to put their patients first and perform their duties with a smile, while risking their own lives.

"It’s obviously a scary time – we don’t know how much risk we’re at," says the doctor, who is currently staying with his girlfriend, his dad and his dad's partner in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

"There are all these stories of healthcare workers dying and we all have our loved ones at home.

"The PPE is also very hot – it’s like working in the desert."

Alex himself showed off his own great spirits earlier this month, when he was filmed serenading his colleagues during a quiet moment at Newham Hospital, while dressed in scrubs.

“Somebody asked me where I worked normally and I said, 'As an opera singer," he recalls.

"And they said, 'Wait a minute! Come on, prove it!"

The footage of his impressive performance was later shared on Twitter, captioned "Music can heal the wounds which medicine cannot touch", where it has been viewed 163,000 times.

A couple of weeks ago, Alex showed off his singing talent again – this time, on Front Room Friday LIVE, a new TV-style entertainment show which uncovers NHS frontline talent every fortnight.

The programme, which continues on Friday, sees five entertainers perform 10-minute sets live online – while supporting local businesses by recommending restaurants that offer home delivery.

It also encourages viewers to donate to NHS Charities Together and Age UK.

"The aim is to entertain and uplift people in the UK and around the world, while supporting the freelance industry, local businesses, and raise money for charitable causes and our frontline services at the same time," says Front Room Friday LIVE co-founder Emily Newstead.

For Alex, it was another chance to do what he loves most, while helping others.

But it certainly won't be the last, as he plans to keep serenading patients in hospital – whether they're in A&E with a broken arm, or taking their final breaths on the coronavirus isolation ward.

"If anybody wants me to sing, I’ll sing," he says. 

"I love doing it so much."

  • Front Room Friday LIVE continues on Friday, May 1, on YouTube and Facebook via @frontroomfridaylive. For more information, click here


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When are the new NHS Nightingale hospitals opening and when did the London site open? – The Sun

THE UK's new Nightingale hospitals have been opened across the country to help our regular hospitals deal with rising coronavirus patients.

Following the successful opening of Nightingale London at the ExCel centre, other temporary facilities have been built.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

When will the new Nightingale hospitals around the country be open?

Following the success of the London Nightingale hospital, the idea has been expanded to the rest of the UK.

Many of these facilities are up and running already, transforming convention centres into life-saving health facilities that will be run by NHS medics and military staff.

Tesco is planning to add pop-up shops in the facilities to help feed staff and patients.

Harrogate, Yorkshire and the Humber

Captain Tom Moore will be the guest of honour when he opens the Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate, Yorkshire next week.

The facility will have 500 beds and is situated in the Harrogate Convention Centre.

Manchester (North West)

The 1000 bed hospital set up at the Manchester Central Convention Complex has been up and running since April 13.


A Nightingale hospital opened in Birmingham at the NEC on April 16 with 500 beds, but it can be expanded to 1,500 if needed.


Bristol will see the University of the West of England turned into a 300-1000 bed hospital. Spare student accommodation will house doctors and nurses.

North East, Washington, Tyne and Wear

The Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing, Washington, will host 460 beds and should be up and running in the next two weeks.


There will be a 200 bed facility built at Westpoint Arena, Exeter. It will open in early May.

When did the NHS Nightingale hospital in London open?

Prince Charles opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London via video link on Friday, April 3.

The temporary hospital has 4,000 beds available for the public, and is set to alleviate the strain on hospitals across the country.

The hospital took just nine days to be fitted out and ready to accept patients at the London ExCeL Centre and consists of two wards.

Prince Charles, appearing via videolink at the opening from his Scottish home of Birkhall, said his thoughts and prayers would be with the patients who needed treatment for the deadly bug.

"It is without doubt a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense – from its speed of construction as we’ve heard to its size and the skills of those who have created it," he said.

"An example, if ever one was needed of how the impossible can be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity."

In the stirring speech, he added: "In this dark time, this place will be a shining light."

The hospital is only open to members of the public who have contracted coronavirus.

Health secretary Matt Hancock revealed the plans to open the hospital in the government's daily press conference on March 23.

The military is supporting the NHS in the running of the hospital.

A team of military planners visited the London ExCeL to see how it could utilise space in the centre.

The military will be brought in to support the NHS in the running of the hospitalThe new hospital is expected to have a horrifying death rate of one in five patients with only younger and fitter patients who need critical treatment being brought to the Nightingale.

Leaked documents show the Nightingale is expecting "approximately 16-20 per cent of patients who arrive at Nightingale might not survive".

Patients who are treated at the Nightingale will have been assessed at other hospitals and deemed to be in less immediate risk than those in intensive care units.

More frail people or those with more complex conditions will be cared for in established NHS hospitals.

The new hospital will need a massive workforce of up to 16,000 staff in clinical and ancillary roles to keep it running.

Hundreds of volunteers from the St John Ambulance charity with various levels of clinical training will help at the facility – with around 100 to work every shift.

The London ExCel centre is known for hosting industry events usually, but in light of current affairs, any upcoming events are postponed.

Matt Hancock also launched a scheme for NHS volunteers, on March 24.

This scheme will see 11,788 former health staff return from retirement to help out during the crisis, these will include both doctors and nurses.

In addition to this- 5,500 final year medical students and 1,800 final year student nurses will ending their studies and going into work early.

Hancock hopes this move, along with the opening of the Nightingale hospital will help Britain be more ready and equipped to handle the coronavirus crisis in the coming weeks.

Where else are new Nightingale hospitals opening?

NHS England has announced two more Nightingale hospitals will be opened in Bristol and Harrogate.

The two new sites will be at the University of the West of England and the Harrogate Convention Centre.

The Bristol hospital will have capacity for around 1,000 patients and Harrogate will be able to look after up to 500.

Other hospitals are due to be opened at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre and Manchester's Central Complex.

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Government ‘ignores’ UK textiles firms desperate to make PPE

The government has been too slow to enlist British textiles firms to make protective gear for the NHS, according to industry figures who say they have been desperate to contribute to the “war effort”.

Faced with a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), the Cabinet Office has only recently begun scrambling to source it from UK suppliers and has now outsourced the process to consultants from accountancy group Deloitte.

Industry figures said too much emphasis had been placed on high-profile names such as Burberry, the luxury fashion house that Matt Hancock said on 3 April was producing medical gowns.

Burberry did not respond to queries from the Guardian about whether it has started producing gowns, and if so how many.

Kate Hills, founder of Make It British, which promotes brands that manufacture in the UK, said the government was ignoring less well-known textile specialists in favour of household names that play well with the public.

“They’re just picking out brand names,” she said.

“The people who can make this PPE are not well-known names, they are contract manufacturers behind the scenes. They’ve filled in the government’s request forms and heard nothing back.”

A separate source with knowledge of the fashion industry’s efforts said: “You can’t put all your eggs in that one Burberry basket.”

Hills said that UK firms have been clamouring to help supply the NHS for more than a month but that the government had instead focused on brands such as Burberry, as well as sourcing equipment from overseas.

“The number one priority was to secure anything already made that they could get on a plane from other countries

“We don’t have the capacity and the products ready off the shelf because for years the NHS have been procuring products from cheap overseas suppliers.

“We have to put the supply chain back together from scratch. It’s almost as if there had to be a desperate need before they looked on their own doorstep.”

One major clothing supplier, who asked not to be named, said their firm had also struggled to get interest from the government.

“The level that we’re scaling up is embarrassing. If the borders shut and we couldn’t bring in masks from China, we’d be screwed.”

The source said the process of getting protective clothing out to the NHS was now mired in confusion in government about the regulatory and testing regime for PPE.

Officials have been exploring ways to waive the usual regulatory requirements – as has happened with medical ventilators – but the process has been slow to get off the ground.

One difficulty with sourcing medical gowns is that they are typically made from fabric known as SMMS that combines two types of of non-woven material, called meltblown and spunbond.

Amid a global shortage, Scottish fabric specialist Don & Low received an order last week from the government for a meltblown material that would meet the same international standard.

Don & Low will eventually be able to make up to 1.5m gowns a month but cannot reach full-scale production until May.

The company is supplying the material to Burberry, among other companies, but has sent only trial fabrics to the fashion house so far.

Will Campbell, the company’s sales manager, said: “You’re setting up a supply chain from the ground up.

“If you were doing this without a pandemic, you’d do it over a year or more. The fact that it’s been done in three weeks is fairly admirable.

“But you can’t get away from the fact that hospitals are running out of PPE.”

One of the few UK fashion houses that has already produced PPE is Barbour, which has delivered disposable gowns and medical scrubs from its South Shields factory to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

Smaller suppliers have also been delivering their own homespun protective equipment to hospitals on a more ad hoc basis. They include designer Patrick Grant, founder of Community Clothing, alongside initiatives called the Emergency Designer Network and ScrubHub.

Carmaker Nissan said on on Thursday that its Sunderland car plant, the UK’s largest, will deliver 100,000 face visors per week to the NHS.

The government-owned Royal Mint, in Llantrisant, south Wales, has been making medical visors for the NHS after developing a successful prototype to help protect frontline care workers.

A host of firms, including chemicals giant Ineos, beer firm Brewdog and several gin distilleries have been producing hand sanitiser.

The Guardian has approached Burberry and the Cabinet Office for comment.

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Son of coronavirus NHS doc, 62, says dad died because of ‘lack of PPE’ after it was ‘taken off Covid ward – The Sun

THE son of an NHS consultant who died of coronavirus has blamed his dad's death on a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) after it was taken from his ward.

Dr Peter Tun, 62 died in the intensive care unit of Royal Berkshire Hospital hospital in Reading on Monday after contracting Covid-19.

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The dad-of-two had worked as an associate specialist in neurorehabilitation at the hospital for more than 21 years.

His son, Michael Tun, said his dad told him he had complained when PPE was removed from his ward.

Dr Tun told his son a manager said PPE would be brought back if a patient tested positive, but Dr Tun warned that would be "too late".

Michael tweeted: "My dad Dr Peter Tun died from Covid-19 because of the lack of PPE.

"My hope in writing this is that it will save more doctors and nurses lives and avoid pain for their families.


"My dad would have wanted to speak up if he thought it would save lives.

"The day he found out there was a positive for Covid-19 in his ward, dad told me that he had earlier complained to a manager bc they took PPE away from his ward to take somewhere else.

"He was told that if there was a case, they would bring it back. He replied it would be TOO LATE.

"The last he told me, there were 4 more positive patients with no symptoms. 2 weeks later, my dad passed away and I couldn't do anything."

Michael's mother is now in hospital waiting for the result of her Covid-19 test.

Britain's death toll from the virus rose to 13,729 today after 861 more patients died in hospital, with 103.093 people testing positive.

Michael's hearbreaking message comes as the government comes under growing pressure to ramp up distribution of PPE to frontline NHS staff and care workers.

Some medics have been forced to buy or make their own PPE as supplies are failing to reach them, with Michael urging action to protect hospital workers  who are risking their lives.

Michael added: "Please do everything to protect the doctors and nurses.

"They go in scared and for their families.

"They did not get into the profession to die a hero in battle.

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"This is why he was a superhero to us. He was scared and still went in to help strangers completely knowing the risk."

Michael said his dad was scared he would infect his wife with the virus.

Distraught Michael said it "kills me" to think better PPE could have saved his dad.

But he praised the "heroes" treating patients with Covid0-19, with at least 40 NHS and care workers dying with the virus already.

Michael added: "The thought that if only he had a proper protective mask, he might still have been able to enjoy his hard earned retirement after a lifetime of service just kills me.

"I hope this won’t cause distress or take attention away from the need to help people but we need to also protect the people trying to protect us.

"We couldn’t protect my dad so I want to help protect everyone else who is in the same position that he was.

"Thank you for everything to all the heroes."

Dr Tun came to the UK from Burma in 1994, becoming an associate specialist in 2004.

His NHS colleagues have paid tribute to the "extraordinary" consultant after his death.

Dr Jonathan Mamo, who worked alongside Dr Tun in the hospital's neurorehabilitation unit, said: "Peter was like a father to all of us in our department in Reading.

"Despite being a calm and soft-spoken individual he always knew what to say and when to say it.

Dr Mamo added: "His desk is now empty and we all miss his extraordinary presence.

"To all of us on the neurorehabilitation unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital he wasn't just a colleague; he was a mentor, a father, and a friend."


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Professor Christine Collin, who worked with Dr Tun for 12 years, said he was an "unfailingly kind, caring and gentle" man who was "much loved and respected".

In a statement yesterday announcing Dr Tun's death, Steve McManus, chief executive of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The passing of Peter has sent a wave of grief throughout the entire organisation.

"Tributes have been pouring in from staff who have worked with Peter over the years and he will be sorely missed.

"On behalf of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, we extend our sincere condolences to Peter's family, friends and colleagues."

A Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: "Our priority has always been to keep our staff safe and properly protected and we follow the strict national guidelines on the correct and appropriate use of PPE.

"We carry out thorough training with staff so they know when and where to use the kit and our managers and Matrons make regular checks on the wards to make sure staff are properly kitted out for the duties they are performing.

"We will continue to work with Peter’s family regarding the circumstances of his death."

Sun Online contacted the Trust for comment.

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Hospitals see rise in patients being treated for DIY mishaps during COVID-19 lockdown

Oxford Eye Hospital has seen it’s records for trauma operations by DIY smashed in the last week. The hospital usually sees one serious injury of it’s kind every two weeks.

In the last seven days, six patients have needed urgent medical attention from the optical hospital.

The eye hospital is now urging everyone to wear eye protection while carrying out household jobs.

Stella Hornby, a consultant who works at the facility based in John Radcliffe Hospital, said: “We’re seeing patients with more serious eye injuries and people have needed operations to repair injuries which could potentially result in sight loss.

“We think this is because people are locked down and they might be doing more DIY or gardening at home without using eye protection.”

LATEST: Boris Johnson explains just how ill he was ‘things could have gone either way’

Oxford Eye Hospital has also advised locking up detergents and chemicals away from children

They’ve emphasised that any chemicals that could cause irritations to eyes need to be hidden.

National guidelines on tackling the coronavirus outbreak currently state that people should avoid touching their face eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.

Dr Hornby said: “Wearing glasses instead of contact lenses at the moment reduces the risk of contact lens-related complications, and reduces the need to touch your face.”

The hospital usually takes in one DIY injury every two weeks.

If patients have urgent eye problems, they should call the telephone triage number instead of attending emergency departments.

The eye emergency department is offering telephone triage to minimise contact and maintain social distancing.

The government has published guidance for all speciality workers, with the general message being to minimise hospital and GP appointments and push to online check-ins.


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The news comes after coronavirus has led to a spike in hospitalisations across the UK.

Confirmed cases in the UK are set to keep climbing, currently sitting at 84,279.

Deaths from that total have hit 10,612 as of Sunday night.

Easter Sunday saw 737 deaths after a grim week of over 8,000.

Lockdown measures in the UK are set to be extended as the peak of infections are set to come in the next two weeks.

During the government briefing on 9 April Dominic Raab, deputising for Boris Johnson, said that the lockdown measures will “have to stay in place until we’ve got the evidence that clearly shows we’ve moved beyond the peak.”

He said: “It’s been almost three weeks and we’re starting to see the impact of the sacrifices we’ve all made.

“But the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus.

“So it’s still too early to lift the measures that we put in place.”

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