Covid has had impacts on so many elements of our lives. They have been in place for so long that sometimes it is quite hard to remember how things were before this killer hit our shores.
I don’t know about you but when I see a TV programme showing people in a bar or a big family reunion I look at them as if of something from a bygone era. But that’s pessimistic and a new normal will resume,
incrementally and step by step.
It’s been great to see our schools open to all of our young people. A Herculean Task has been delivered in all of our high schools with the lateral flow testing of all of their consenting pupils on three occasions over two weeks. Having had the immense good fortune to be able to help out in both Gillingham and Blandford High Schools I have seen at first hand the school and volunteer effort to get this job done. We all did so in the knowledge that we were helping our communities to stay safe and to get people back into the actual classroom.
Delivery of non Covid healthcare has, by force of circumstance, interrupted the flow of wider healthcare
needs. As the NHS has been saved from being overwhelmed, managers and clinicians have been turning their attention to tackling the backlog. Orthopaedics is one area where too many people have been left in pain. I realise how fortunate I was to have a hip replacement just 10 days before Lockdown
One. I know the debilitating pain of arthritis, so there’s much to be done to address those still waiting. The same is true, but to a lower volume, with oncology services. We were making such good progress with early diagnosis and survival rates, we cannot afford to slip back.
The other week I chaired a meeting with Health Minister Ed Argar and the chairs of a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups (I chair Multiple Sclerosis and I was joined by the chairs of Parkinsons, Acquired Brain Injury and Motor Neurone Disease) to make the case for a neurological services roadmap post Covid.
We were really encouraged not only with the seriousness with which the Minister took the issue but the work in hand to ensure effective catch-up can be delivered. There are significant personal health and longer term financial costs in not doing so and these need to be avoided.
At an earlier Round Table of the same APPGS we heard from patients with the various conditions. They were at pains to urge that the lessons learned during Covid of how to deliver healthcare should not be lost.
The lead example was the use of technology.
Many patients have been receiving therapies and support digitally, removing the need for travel to
a healthcare setting, journeys which can often be painful and arduous depending upon the condition.
The Minister took the point, and while none of us are advocating that IT can replace every one-to-one with a doctor or nurse, it can play a part. It’s often easier for the patient, and more patients can be seen due to efficiencies.
With greater emphasis on ending the digital ‘not-spots’ in our rural areas, and where distance to hospital and the shortage of public transport presents difficulties to some of our most vulnerable, we can and should embrace new ways of ensuring getting the care to those who need it.
In closing may I wish you and your family a very happy, safe and peaceful Easter. The cycle of new Spring life and the Resurrection story should give us all the hope and optimism we need following these more than challenging months.
by Simon Hoare MP