NHS staff deserve support and rest before coping with backlog | Penny Mordaunt MP
While we wait to see exactly how and when we will be freed from social-distancing restrictions, it is clear that we can now start to think about the recovery from coronavirus.
The vaccines developed give us a baseline from which to adapt new vaccines that will help combat future strains. We are in an immeasurably better place than we were a year ago.
However, we know there is a huge amount of work to be done, and not just on securing economic recovery. Despite our public services being tested to the hilt and many aspects of the State dramatically expanding to meet demand- such as the benefits system- there is a huge backlog in other areas. There needs to be effort and focus on education to help give our young people the best start possible. And there needs to be a similar effort in health, social and dental care.
People will have gone without their diabetes annual check-up, or their medicine review. They will have missed podiatry appointments and stayed away from the hygienist. Their cancer screening may have been delayed. Or they may have not wanted to get a health concern checked out. There will be a backlog in surgical procedures or new ailments caused because of such delays. There is a huge unmet need in mental health care and support. We need to get diagnostics back on track. We need check ups to be caught up with and we need treatment and postponed surgeries to happen.
The challenges on those who work in these sectors will not disappear as the Covid patients in intensive care have. Their ‘in-tray’ remains dramatic and urgent. They need every bit of help, support and difference we can make to deliver for those who need those services in our community. We know from the speed that such services have had to adapt over the last year that we have become more efficient and effective. To meet these new challenges, we need to maintain that approach. We need to enable those who work in these services the flexibility to make changes they think will lead to smarter and improved outcomes.
As a city and a nation, we need to find the energy and resolve to chase down these backlogs. We need also to hold onto the opportunities that have been brought in these tragic times. A new-found interest in health and wellbeing. A network of volunteers who have looked out for their neighbours. New services and apps which have delivered meds and social support. GPs surgeries that have introduced greater flexibility about how we all access services.
We also need to remember two further things.
Firstly, that the social contact and support so many have missed must be restored and protected.
Secondly that exhausted staff get the support and rest they need this summer to remain motivated and well. Without them no catch up is possible.
We know what it will take. We know that we can do it. We must.