AN NHS worker who treated victims of the Manchester bombings and the Morecambe Bay cockling disaster has described coronavirus as ‘unlike anything he has encountered’ before.

Gary Parsons, 53, works as a senior operating department practitioner in the operating theatre and critical care unit at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust.

He is also station officer at Flookburgh-based Bay Search and Rescue.

Prior to moving to the trust, Mr Parsons worked at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Liverpool for ten years, and more recently the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where he dealt with the aftermath of the Manchester Arena Bomb.

He said: “That incident for us as a team at the Manchester Children’s Hospital lasted for weeks as we followed military style protocols guided by army surgeons, seeing children return to theatre in some cases dozens of times, for eye, facial, orthopaedic, vascular, general, and burns surgery.

“But never at any point were we scared and never ever were we at risk from anything other than fatigue working incredibly long shifts, driven by the want for those children to have some kind of normal quality of life again.

“Now we are all at risk ourselves. Unlike the arena bomb we cannot post armed police or an SAS soldier with an automatic weapon at the front door of the hospital to keep this killer away and protect us - they like us are faced with the same risk.

“Covid-19 is a game changer. It is the worst kind of threat as it affects not just the way we work as professionals but is going to have a significant impact on our entire lives.

“We know it can stay active for not just hours but days on every day things we use without a second glance or a thought, and will remain active unless they are washed and cleaned."

Mr Parsons is urging those who are flouting social distancing rules to ‘stop it now’.

“My feelings are incredibly strong regarding the lockdown rules,” he said.

“Those that abuse or ignore it are potentially simply passing this potentially killer virus to loved ones of their own, or family and friends of others and this has been reiterated by the government, but more importantly is being witnessed by us on the front line.

“There is absolutely no excuse, so stop it now and help us contain this virus and protect the critical care beds for those who really desperately need them, and help protect myself and my colleagues from this killer.”

Mr Parsons described staff morale as ‘vital’ to keeping departments effective and efficient.

He said: “NHS staff are incredibly resilient and it has been my privilege to experience the coming together of true team work during times of the most incredible stress when life is at risk.

“We all have thresholds, and levels of physical and mental pressure that we can endure and sustain but, unlike anything I’ve encountered before, this is set to take us to new levels.

“And we will need the support of each other and the public who have show us on the front line incredible support already. Thank you for showing us your support, it means a huge amount to us and it helps us to keep going.”