'IN years to come we will really realise the part we played' says Lucy Bradshaw, a Matron at the Royal Bolton Hospital, as she recalls life on the frontline during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

While most people were told to stay at home and only go out if it was absolutely essential, Lucy and other NHS heroes went to work to look after other people's loved ones who were ill with the potentially fatal virus.

Lucy said the team was in "unknown territory" when coronavirus broke out.

"We didn’t know what we were faced with," she said, " and the speed of which it escalated, yet we pulled together and fought these unpredictable times together.”

Lucy manages a wide range of staff across D1, D2 and ACU, and also oversaw CDU ­— clinical decision unit ­— during the start of the pandemic.

“It was a really worrying time, but they just all embraced it and they were excellent. I am sure they were frightened at times but they certainly didn’t seem it and they acted with such good intentions with the ultimate aim of delivering individualised care to those who needed it most,” said Lucy, "Theyput plans in place, really led by example and turned a situation, which is quite scary, into a real positive scenario.”

She said: “Staff have come in day in day out and have provided compassionate high quality care.

“Nursing staff, support workers and ward clerks worked so hard to provide the best possible care under such difficult circumstances.

“People have worked really hard and I have seen some excellent exemplary care being delivered to patients.”

Nurses found themselves taking on additional roles, almost being the patient's family.

Lucy said: “We have never really cared for patients without their loved ones being there and that is a new role in itself.

"We were the patients friends, we were their carers, we were their nurse, we were there just to listen to them and we were there as a link to the relatives who couldn’t be with them, so this was all new.

" I will never forget the care that I saw delivered to patients during the pandemic."

She added: “I think the public’s perception of nursing and the NHS has changed. We have been recognised for our hard work and dedication. It was lovely to receive gestures from people who just wanted tosay thank you”.

"We have tough times throughout the year and I think, with the public, they now appreciate how hard we work every day.”