It’s been four weeks or so now since I became trapped in my house and shed with Jo, and my two young children.
Life is going surprisingly well, all things considered. We are very lucky and have a garden (and obviously a shed in it) and this has taken the burden off caring for the kids somewhat in this great weather. Additionally we have many amazing friends, who have been incredibly helpful getting myself Jo and our two kids food shopping. (Where to start, Patrick, Helen, Freddy, Katy, Sam, Rob, Madelyn, Max, Tony, my Mum and Dad and more.).
Without them there is literally no way we could have avoided going to the shops. I mean it. There would be no other way. And this is what my blog is about. If it wasn’t for our closest friends Jo and I would have had to visit the shops. There was no other option. I know healthy people with no underlying conditions have to go to the shop. But this is different.
Now theoretically I am one of the most vulnerable. My GP (who I called three times) and my specialists conform it. If I get the Coronavirus with my lymphoma, odds are good I will die. The GPs were astounded I needed to ask the question if I should go out, after all I have incurable blood cancer. See the thing is though, I still haven’t had a letter. So according to policy I’m fine to be out. All the rules that apply to the fit and healthy apply to me. Going to the shops is an acceptable risk. Walking outside is the same.
I chased a letter, but didn’t get one. This means I can’t access vulnerable slots for online shopping, or get food parcels. Or any government help.
Luckily I’m really informed about my condition, and knew straight away what the deal was. If I didn’t, or didn’t have an amazing network of people to help me, I could be out everyday. Exercising, walking past people, shopping. Taking risks. I’d be doing everything I was told was ok. Many of my readers with the same condition will be thinking or doing that (please take this blog as a wake up call and call your GP). You know why? Because of this article that might have slipped past you.
Reading it, it turns out the list for vulnerable people was put together in 48 hours. No one asked the GPs, with all their information on file, they went from national data labels in a hurry. And got it wrong.
She (Dr Francesca Silman) added: “It is all a bit of a mess. Part of the problem was I think originally NHS England thought the GPs could do some of the searches – but this is not at all an easy task and the guidance for GPs to go ahead was retracted … Meanwhile, I think the public are unaware of this issue and likely to be following the letters they have or haven’t received unless they have been proactive themselves and looked up the guidance.”
A significant number of other patients on chemotherapy, immunosuppressants, with blood cancers and other severe underlying health conditions had also been missed, they reported.
So some people don’t know they should be shielded. Something as important as social shielding, where the government are asking everyone in the country to distance and stay indoors primarily to keep the vulnerable, safe. This still hasn’t been communicated to some of the people who have a greater than 20% chance of dying of the Coronavirus. How ridiculous is that?
So whose fault is it? Well look no further than the people who decided to wait to lockdown. Who bandied around herd immunity as a concept, until we are pretty sure to have he highest death count in Europe. Who waited more than a month, despite lessons playing out around them.
People who haven’t provided enough protection to front line heroes, to the point the public is stepping in and using 3d printers to make PPE. Who refused ventilators from Europe, and then waited until they were all gone to try and get them. Who promised a large number of tests, and then can’t even get the NHS workers tested, so they can return to work. Whose leaders decided they were immune to the Coronavirus and so went around shaking hands and getting infected.
I’m shaking hands continuously. I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were actually a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody, you’ll be pleased to know. I continue to shake hands.
“We already have a fantastic NHS, fantastic testing systems and fantastic surveillance of the spread of the disease … I want to stress that for the vast majority of the people of this country, we should be going about our business as usual.” (Boris Johnson).
That’s right. It’s this same cavalier idiots who have a daily briefing and won’t admit they did anything wrong ‘Im sorry if people feel there have been failings’ over PPE. Priti Patel.
So was it the government who let us, the vulnerable, the people who already have a shorter lifespan through no fault of our own, who have had to deal with hardship most people luckily don’t, down?
Prof Martin Marshall, the chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “There is still some uncertainty over the guidance for identifying which vulnerable patients become shielded, and we are raising this with the governments and health leaders across the UK.”
That was released two days ago. The Government just can’t get it right. I’m not saying I would do a better job, god knows it must be tough, but they have to get something right don’t they? Surely they must be able to do something right?
I want to be even handed. They did introduce furlough. That works. They also put something in place for the self employed…. Which starts in June (good luck till then). Maybe not so lucky for the single person limited companies…. Other than this, what have they done right?
You know who is doing it right though? The key workers, the NHS, the people in the front line who have to go into work day in day out (and sleep there) with no protective equipment. To catch Coronavirus and die for the government’s mistakes. It’s the vulnerable people who don’t even know they are at risk so who aren’t staying indoors. Or who haven’t had letters so can’t get volunteer aid (and aren’t as lucky as we are to have such great friends) and need to go out and get their shopping to live. And maybe die. I know a couple in Wales who knew the risk and she still had to go out even though her partner has MS, because they don’t have a choice. No letter and no help. Empty rhetoric with no substance (sound familiar).
So please do what you are doing you brilliant people. Stay indoors. Go out when you need to. Staff hospitals and vital services. Keep the vulnerable protected (whether they know they are or not). Try and get your NHS PPE where the government has failed.
Do your best to cover the gap for your friends, loved ones, and even strangers who you have the moral decency to look after in times of crisis. Get them food. Volunteer to help the underfunded NHS. Come back to work after retiring to help strangers at real risk. Because the government sure aren’t.
I mean honestly I’m glad Boris is better, but this should make him realise that years of underfunding the NHS of blocking pay rises for nurses, was a huge mistake. He and his cabinet should now know that not getting the right people support has to stop. That the vulnerable need to be contacted, made aware, helped. Support needs to be put in so they stop taking life threatening risks just to eat. Please. Otherwise I don’t know how many more people need to die for the message to get to them.