IT would be very difficult to sit back and ignore the spread of Coronavirus, says Dr Michael Moran, who has returned home from abroad to take up a post in the NHS frontline to play his part in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Michael, a former Rathmore pupil, who was previously based in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department, is now Pfizer’s Global Medical Director for Cancer Medicines having made Berlin his home this past year and a half.
On his return to the NHS in Belfast last week, Michael spoke of how the vocational aspect of working in health care during the Coronavirus crisis “is the key issue here”.
“You cannot ignore it,” he said. “From early on in a career in health care, when you look after people with any illness or disability, you realise that it is a real blessing to be on the side of the relationship as the person who is able to provide care, rather than the person who needs it.
“With the Covid-19 situation, it would be very hard to sit back and ignore the pandemic spread – noting especially the impact on the health of NHS staff – and not take action. I was already thinking about how I could return, even part-time to the health care frontline, but when Pfizer launched the Medical Service Program – which is open to staff who are qualified health care professionals to help support patients with Covid-19 – I knew then that there was no decision to be made. At the minute I’m working with both the Belfast Trust and Pfizer to work out details of deployment and contingency for my current post.
“At Pfizer, my current role is Global Medical Director for Cancer Medicines and it is really important that that work continues,” he said. “Covid-19 has brought great uncertainty to patients with illnesses such as cancer, and therefore it is really important that supply of medicines is guaranteed, and that the clinicians that we serve are equipped with the information and tools that they need to navigate the complexities of cancer therapies in this new and very challenging environment.
“My current plan is that I will continue to work for Pfizer, up to three days per week, which would free me up for up to four 12-hour shifts with the NHS per week.
“These are exceptional times, and I’m so happy to just get started to help where I can, then refine the plan later. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to do both with good support from both employers.”
Michael told the Andersonstown News that his return to the frontline was not a difficult one to make.
“The main concern is safety, but I have already been tested for the PPE mask by the Belfast Trust and am confident that all precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of this very serious disease. In terms of the decisions, there was no decision to be made. Even if I can lighten the load of my friends and former colleagues a little bit, it is of course the correct thing to do.”
When asked his opinion on the need for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for healthcare staff Michael stressed that its importance “cannot be underestimated”.
“I have been assured that in the acute setting, where patients are known to have Covid-19, the PPE is there and there is robust training in how to use this. I think that the key concern is ensuring that those caring in the community have this also, as this is really the frontline. And this is why staying at home is so important. No contact means no spread. And contact means potential rampant spread. So by staying home you not only stay safe, but you keep your carers and community safe also.
Michael said that many of his medical colleagues are returning to the frontline and that it is “really special to be home at a time like this, and to see old friends, even if I can’t give everyone a big warm hug”.
He added: “The problem with approaching the ‘surge’ means that unfortunately more healthcare workers will become infected, so as a community, everything possible must be done to limit the spread of this disease. Absolutely everyone has a role here. That cannot be underestimated.”