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Shropshire Star comment: No excuses next time for government

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

The Government and our health administrators pulled out all the stops this spring to ensure the NHS was not overwhelmed. Doctors, nurses, ancillary staff and others made sure our greatest national asset was able to cope with unprecedented pressure as Covid-19 hit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

There was a price to pay, however. Asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 were sent to care homes to create extra capacity on hospital wards. That mistake led to a contagion in care homes and the unnecessary and preventable deaths of many. Similarly, those with routine appointments for cancer treatments and surgical procedures found themselves missing treatment. Again, the results were tragic for a considerable number of people, with shortened lives the outcome.

The Government and the NHS has had time to take stock and reflect. While we are by no means out of the woods in respect of Covid-19, there has been a slowing of the pace. This time must be spent preparing the NHS for the coming demands it will face.

GP appointments are on the rise and there is considerable pressure on hospitals. This, however, is when the stresses are relatively low. As we head towards autumn, the demand will start to rise. There remains a consistent level of new Covid-19 admissions and that figure is expected to increase further as we head towards autumn and winter.

Schools are expected to be back and the experiences of the USA point towards a higher number of infections. For instance, the past two weeks have seen more than 97,000 children test positive for coronavirus. The age range differs by state, though makes clear that transmission is schools is a particular problem.

While the Government was criticised for failing to learn the lessons of other countries when the first wave hit, there will be no excuse next time.

It is not simply a picture of doom and gloom. Some pressures have been alleviated as an increased number of people have turned to telephone or video appointments with doctors. New technology provides one route through the present crisis as the NHS becomes leaner and more efficient. NHS managers must learn from this as they prepare for the difficulties that lie ahead.

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