It’s been awhile since I published my last blog, I have drafted it in my head several times but in keeping with the constant change in advice we are getting about keeping safe, my thoughts were conflicting each other in my head too. I felt drained mentally and found it difficult to think clearly. I however have wonderful daughters that keep me alert! I have been involved with helping them with school work, learning new monologues and scripts, filming audition tapes and helping my youngest submit four songs for her London College of Music exams.
I am not generally an anxious person . However, I have been preoccupied with the many ideas and advice we have been getting in the last week by various sources. The Government, the opposition parties, NHS England, Public Health and various leaders in Education, Health and Finance. The easing of the lockdown hasn’t made me feel liberated again but instead made me worry. I worried about how such vague and conflicting messages would be interpreted. I worried about the spread of the virus getting worse again and the numbers dying increasing. Yes the NHS might cope like they did, but it will again expose health professionals to the infection. Will we also risk going into lockdown in the summer months?
I have felt a sense of unease posting my opinions on social media recently. I have continued to post photos and videos of the fun stuff that we as a family are enjoying in lockdown at the moment. I feel we are at a level where we can’t quite say what we think or feel about the decisions being made without fearing to be accused of being ‘right wing’ or ‘left wing’.
I personally haven’t been criticised for what I believe in, but have noticed the numerous unpleasant comments made towards other people who simply state their opnions. It has bothered me that I may be seen as a ‘troublemaker’ or one who is never satisifed if I voiced my opinions and fear.
As British residents living in a democracy, we all have the right to comment on how the government has dealt with this crisis. There is an argument to forget the mistakes that have been made and move on. However as we all know without accepting, acknowledging, analysing mistakes and making the relevant changes, mistakes will continue to be made.
I therefore would like to share with you how I perceive some of the decisions that have been made. I am not saying the government has got it wrong. However I am saying that this is the time to concentrate on what could be done better. Though numbers are much lower, people are still dying , there are still high numbers of cases that are positive despite us not testing those who have no symptoms.
It wasn’t too long ago when nursing home were told they did not need to take extra precautions in protecting themselves and this involved care workers and their residents. ‘The science’ informed us via the government that the elderly were vulnerable but no specific advice were given to Nursing Homes. I remember Nursing Homes taking an independant decision to close their doors to visitors. Some staff made the admirable decision to lockdown with their residents to protect the elderly as well as their own families. However they did not realise they would find themselves looking after residents who were covid positive. This was due to patients being discharged back to care homes while they were still covid positive. Also residents who were not admitted but were unwell were also sent back to care homes. Were care workers warned about this situation to allow them to isolate an individual and protect the others?
Denial and not reviewing what’s been done so far and taking the appropriate steps to rectify imperfect decisions, isn’t the way forward. Nor is rewording sentences to make something sound politically correct the next time a speech is made after criticism from the public. There is also a recurrent theme of not answering questions asked by reporters, no matter how many times they are asked. Answers are given in a repetitive way quite often using words like ‘we are following the science’ and ‘it has been a priority since day 1’- following that no further detailed information to support comments are provided either.
The photos in the media in the last week of crowded buses, parks, beaches and country villages, made me feel judgmenatal of these individuals. I was angry and thought it wrong. Why crowd peaceful towns and put their residents at risk , once again for the freedom of movement?
The government supposedly clarified Boris Johnson’s speech on Monday in a press statement as below.
A No 10 spokesman said ‘the public can stay alert by “staying at home as much as possible”, “limiting contact with other people” and keeping two metres apart where possible’.
They also say,
“We can control the virus by keeping the rate of infection and the number of infections down,”
“This is how we can continue to save lives and livelihoods as we start to recover from coronavirus.
“Everyone has a role to play in keeping the rate of infection (R) down by staying alert and following the rules.”
Politicians also commented on the media that the British Public are able to interpret the message of ‘Stay Alert’ in a sensible manner.
However there were hundreds of fines issued by police this weekend in North Yorkshire. This is probably just one example. Why change ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’ if the main message is ‘Stay Home’
The day after the Prime Minister’s speech on staying alert, various police groups released a statment saying it was going to be difficult to police social distancing. ‘Stay Alert’ is a message that could be interpreted in so many different ways.
I still don’t understand why we cannot socialise with family members by social distancing in their own gardens. Instead we should socialise 2m apart from a family or friend in a park where you are less likely to be able to keep a distance from others who are out.
The list is endless. A few weeks ago there were reports that showed the BAME population and of those of low socioeconmic status are at higher risk. However no guidance have been issued on how to risk assess the BAME population, and how to protect those of low socioeconomic status .
Children are at low risk of developing covid 19 and so the decision has been made that educating the younger ages and those in Year 6 for 5 weeks before the summer holiday will be beneficial to families. The Teachers’ Unions and the British Medical Association however disagree with this. More confusion is raised again in society.
We are all going through the same crisis but as we know we each have different circumstances. It could be social, physical and mental health, finance, being surrounded by loved ones or not and jobs. Therefore how this pandemic affects us and how we cope ranges through a very long spectrum of individual experiences.
Right wing or left wing, red, blue, yellow or green, what we need is a government that is honest, consistent in their advice, admits mistakes, apologises to the families of health care workers and care workers for the lack of PPE, apologises for lack of consideration given to Nursing Homes at the onset of this pandemic and lack of widespread testing with a quick turnover of results- all this should happen before further easing is made.
As a Mum and Health professional, staying alert has been part of my life. Staying alert to the unwell person that comes in, staying alert to what is not being disclosed by a patient that might be helpful in identifying risks like in domestic abuse or hidden medical problems. Staying alert to our children’s mental, physical and emotional state. Staying alert to the safety of our environmenet.
As a General Practitioner, I stay alert for symptoms that patients may have that may indicate the virus- however, I am not able to control it as there isn’t an antiviral or vaccine that we have that can control it.
We should all be comfortable with voicing our thoughts and opinions during this difficult time, if done in a sensitive way of course. We are a democratic society, a progressive society, an intelligent society, therefore a society that shouldn’t be threatened when opinions are challenged. Those in power should favour open conversations with other experts whose opinions are crucial in reducing transmission rates and death rates.
We often say health is more important than wealth- if we are not a healthy nation, how are we to preserve our economy.