What were we doing differently before July to keep the mortality rate from Covid 10X less than it is now?
“But Omicron is too transmissible to stop people dying from it.”
“But bigger countries have greater difficulties in controlling Omicron”
“But that’s the cost of freedom”
Why is it important to note this?
Because my update from the frontline is not pretty I’m afraid. My experience and those of colleagues up and down the country suggest the NHS pressures are cumulative, not sporadic.
It is relentless. Staff levels are low and patient load is high – very high. I have never seen levels as high as this for as long as this. It’s been about a year now with no lull. The “Winter in Summer” has just morphed into the “Winter all year long”.
Covid remains a bane of inpatient care. I estimate about 20 percent of work is taken up by Covid. Around 15 percent of patients have Covid. There is also the huge effort to get antivirals and antibody therapies to the high-risk groups. This all takes the few resources we have away from others.
Staffing is beyond ridiculous. Many are off episodically with Covid. More and more with stress or trauma or burn-out. Retention and recruitment with current pay and conditions is near impossible. It feels like a spiral, where we are all growing wearier by the day.
Patient care is paramount
Tension is high. It is easy to grate on each other. It is easy to be deflated by an off the cuff remark or small irritation. Recognising the consequences of under-resourced and neglected healthcare services in the outcomes of patients is by far the greatest kick in the teeth.
None of us entered this profession for an easy life. Most of us enjoy the hustle and the struggle to recover a patient and help them regain whatever part of life they love to experience. And we still win. A lot. Our tools and systems permit us success even with such pressures.
And we still beat places like the United States for outcomes. We still have the one aspect of the UK’s health service that fuel the staff more than anything: we don’t care who you are when you come in the door; we don’t care how much you earn or who you know; you will get all we have
The problem now however, is what we have is a lot less. And what we have left to give is ebbing away like sand in an hour-glass. Two years, suddenly feels like an eternity.
Don’t delay treatment if you need it
But please please don’t think this means it is better to stay away. Covid is so prevalent you can get it catching the bus or going to the supermarket. And delaying treatment does no help to us at all! If you are sick, we are still the best place to be.
Indeed, many of us suspect it is being unable to detect disease early enough that is contributing to the spiral of decline. My advice: don’t change your health-seeking behaviour. Trust your instincts. And if you need us, we will still be there.
Medicine still remains powerful.
Sorry it’s not better news. But now is not the time to catch Covid. Live your life but be brave and kind: wear a mask, stay home if you’re sick, open a window, and for heaven’s sake get your vaccine.
Finally, make some noise. You pay for the NHS. So fight for it!