Most frontline emergency staff staff enjoyed the Thursday clapping and rainbows, but many we spoke to throughout this pandemic were uncomfortable with the “heroes” label. To do a very stressful job competently, in the most difficult circumstances, they need adequate training, supervision, sleep, nutritious food, regular breaks and freedom from fear and bullying. They also need adequate PPE to protect them. The idea they have heroic stamina and invincibility is dangerous nonsense.
Hospital acquired Covid infections were at an all time high (on Dec 6 they accounted for 24% of the total) and EKHUFT have seen Covid hospital admissions more than double than during wave 1.
More GP and consultants have been lost to suicide. More than 650 NHS staff died from Covid and 2020 has been a horrible year for mental health. Many doctors are inately self-critical workaholics who hate not being able to deliver a decent standard of care for all their patients. Please think of that when you’re complaining how hard it is to see a consultant or GP. They have no heroic powers to fix an overloaded system.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, what with two vaccines now available. Our mums (median age 86) chose to have the vaccine but not Christmas with their grandchildren.
How we die matters.
The moment sperm meets egg, we join the queue for death. Humans are one species who know our fate well in advance. Our mortality rate will always be 100%; it’s how we die that matters. Some people were taken well before their time by Covid, but the median age of Covid death is 82.4 years.
The greatest trauma is that many people died quickly and unexpectedly, often on their own and with no chance to say goodbye. Funerals have been strictly spaced and limited, leading to even more isolation and grief. Most people would choose a quick death over weeks of wasting away, but for those left behind the loss is more profound if words are left unsaid.
Of the many cultural shifts of the pandemic (face masks, elbow bumps, Jonathan Van-Tam action dolls) the least understood is the extraordinary increase (more than 25,000) in people dying at home. Few had Covid tests, and postmortems have been limited, so we may never know why. Some may have lived if they’d sought help for, say, a heart attack, or cancer. Many have been fearful of catching Covid in hospital without realising they’d already caught it. Some may have wanted to “protect the NHS” when they most needed to use it. There may even be a link between “working from home” and “dying at home”.
Hopefully, some of the 1,073 individuals who have died from Covid in East Kent (week 51) had decent deaths at homes, surrounded by the love of their families, rather than saying goodbye in a mask and visor at two metres or via an iPad. The two vaccines will hopefully end this insanity. We hope you’ll be having yours when called to the front of the queue.
The Shepway Vox Team
With love, respect and thanks to all those who’ve made a difference in 2020.