Sunday 19th April was the day that I decided that something had to be done. Watching the daily death toll rise and watching our ministers embarrass themselves on the daily press briefings, I realised I could no longer be an observer. Weeks of concern had now transformed into a focused fury.
I was six months pregnant at the time and all I really wanted was to enjoy the last few months of my pregnancy, prepare the baby’s nursery and look forward to this new chapter of my life. Instead, I spent my third trimester taking a stand against the Government and suffering from a deep anxiety that still hangs as a big cloud over my head to this day.
Nurse Mary Agypaong, a 27-year-old nurse, died of the Coronavirus shortly after delivering her baby girl. Her family lived down the road from us and I wondered how her hospital allowed her to be in a situation where she was at risk of catching this deadly disease. Mary wasn’t alone, so many healthcare workers around the world were left with chinks in their armour on the frontline.
When nurse Mary had died, 100 healthcare workers across the United Kingdom had lost their life to COVID-19. It almost became normal to see the daily death toll rise and I could feel how we all became numb to the news. But there was nothing normal about this, I wanted to show the government that their neglect had severe consequences.
So I decided to take my one-woman protest to Downing street – a decision that turned my quiet and calm life in the opposite direction.
I waddled down Whitehall, carrying my placard, and planted myself in front of Downing Street. Every time I felt afraid of the possible consequences this could have on my career, I felt my baby kick. My baby gave me the strength to fight for the truth and make sure our colleagues across the country were receiving the protection they deserved.
This protest garnered worldwide attention and it encouraged doctors and nurses across the world to speak up for their very basic right as healthcare workers – protection.
A few weeks later, my husband and I had filed for a judicial review to hold the government to account and as a result of our legal case, protective gear for healthcare workers have now been brought up to international standards. Our case has allowed us to create a government committee devoted to safeguarding healthcare workers from minority groups and as a direct result of our judicial review we have made sure that our colleagues receive the protection they deserve.
It all started with a simple act, while I was six months’ pregnant. I was unprotected on the frontline, and scared for my unborn child. I hope nobody experiences the same trauma, and I will continue to hold decision-makers to account. I feel so grateful to have my baby Radhika next to me and I will make sure she grows up in a world where people fight for the truth.