New Scottish MSP and doctor didn’t hug newborn daughter for weeks due to fear of passing on Covid from NHS frontline

A doctor-turned-MSP has told how he did not hug his baby daughter, who was born during lockdown, for eight weeks because he feared passing coronavirus on to her.

Scottish Conservative's newly elected Sandesh Gulhane arrives for registration at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. Picture: PA

Scottish Conservative SMP Sandesh Gulhane, who was on Thursday giving his first speech in Holyrood since he was elected earlier this month, also warned Scotland was teetering on the edge of a mental health crisis as a result of the pandemic.

Dr Gulhane – the first Hindu and first man of Indian descent to be elected to the Scottish Parliament – told MSPs how doctors and nurses across the country had made sacrifices to be able to continue seeing patients, including his own decision to stay away from his newborn baby and young son in fear of passing the virus on to them.

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Speaking at the Covid-19 debate at the Scottish Parliament, he said: “I am a frontline doctor, having worked in accident and emergency, out of hours and seeing patients in general practice.

"As the pandemic struck, I did what thousands of other Scottish healthcare workers did. I kept seeing my patients.

“The brightest lights shine only in the darkest skies, and during the pandemic, I have seen bravery and humanity of my colleagues shine very brightly indeed.”

He added: “But I have low points too. When my lockdown baby was born, I stayed away because of the fear of passing Covid to her. I did not hug her for eight weeks, my newborn baby. But I kept seeing my patients.

“I kept my distance from my seven-year-old son, because of the fear of passing Covid to him. And one day he asked my wife why I didn't love him anymore. Had he done something wrong?

“But like my nursing colleagues, I kept seeing my patients. The Scottish Government sent me out PPE that put my life at risk, but like the hospital physios porters and occupational therapists, I kept seeing my patients.

"Until I could no longer say nothing, I could no longer feel nothing, I could know nothing. I stood for election to voice the ear of the patients to voice the burnout of my colleagues to work together.”

Dr Gulhane, an MSP for the Glasgow region, related examples of people struggling with their mental health due to isolation, as well as long covid which had blighted their lives.

He said: “This is the reality of my daily medical practice. This is our shared reality in Scotland. We stand on the precipice of a tsunami of a mental health crisis, we need to spend our money wisely and I can help here.”

Dr Gulhane said he had run for election to Holyrood when he realised he could “no longer say nothing”.

Having worked in A&E departments, Dr Gulhane said it was in Glasgow that he “found a home, a community, a family”.

He said: “I stood for election to voice the pain of my patients, to voice the burnout of my colleagues, to voice everyone’s desperate wish for us to work together.”

Dr Gulhane said he had come to Parliament to “represent the Scottish NHS, my patients, my colleagues, to make them feel like they truly have a voice”.

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