As physicians, we are committed to protecting our patients from harm.
But over the past few months I’ve become deeply concerned that, as the GP of Coalface, I’ve risked breaking that commitment.
It is not by my own choice. Rather, that’s what I – and many of my colleagues – have come to realize about the government’s response to the pandemic and its effect on the health of the country.
Because with the lion’s share of NHS resources still being absorbed by this virus, so many other areas of health are being lost.
And, more than that, the harm that locks themselves cause to people is becoming more and more evident.
As physicians, we promise to protect our patients from harm, writes Dr Ellie Cannon (pictured)
By following the party line and continuing blithely, without criticizing this situation, I feel that we doctors are becoming complicit in actions which are extremely damaging.
I see it with my own eyes, day after day.
Patients with heart attacks and those with advanced cervical or breast cancers that could have been detected earlier with screening.
I’ve seen a huge drop in the number of people attending children’s immunization clinics, and it chills my spine to think about the risk to these young people that things like measles pose, as well as fewer viruses and infections. common and more deadly.
And then there are the suicides – the ultimate consequence of untreated mental health issues exacerbated by unemployment, financial worries and the isolation and misery of lockdown measures.
I feel compelled to speak up, which is why three weeks ago I wrote to Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock outlining my concerns.
Writing to the Ministry of Health – the ultimate chief of general practitioners – is not a usual thing for a general practitioner. I had never done this before, but felt I needed to let them and their advisors know what I and the other GPs were doing.
I feel compelled to speak up, which is why three weeks ago I wrote Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock outlining my concerns, writes Dr Ellie Cannon.
Of course, the government, as it claims, “follows the science”. But it is only with the help of those on the front lines that researchers know what to investigate.
In my letter, I provided Mr. Hancock with the latest statistics that prove the rising rates of heart disease as we continue to fail to offer basic heart checks, the increasing rates of injuries to children and the declining physical health of the elderly.
Older adults and young people, on the other hand, suffered from more anxiety and depression during confinement.
These are hard facts, and within days, I had managed to bring together 65 of my colleagues – influential general practitioners in their own right – to add their signature to the letter. One, Sir Sam Everington, is a Knight for Primary Health Care Services.
I went on national TV and radio to share our message, and got support from MPs including Steve Baker, and our letter was shared thousands of times on social media. Finally, I felt optimistic. For the past eight months, I’ve even worked for the government myself, sharing messages about the importance of handwashing and wearing masks. I was hoping we would be heard.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Write to: DrEllie@mailonsunday.co.uk
On Monday I received my response, signed not by Mr Hancock himself, but by one of his advisers on his behalf. Or maybe it was someone with some work experience – I’m not sure. Discouragement doesn’t even begin to cover him up. In fact, I’m still bubbling.
To begin with, sections of the response had been cut and pasted.
“The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation,” a paragraph began. “He calls for dramatic action, at home and abroad, of the kind we don’t normally see in peacetime.”
I immediately recognized the grandiose turn of the phrase – it had been taken from an article written by Mr. Hancock in March.
Needless to say, the gist of the response was dismissive.
He chatted: “Ministers understand that we are living in difficult times and that the actions that people are asked to take are very disruptive to normal life.
“However, it is vital that the most vulnerable are protected, and therefore people are called upon to act in the best interests of everyone in society.”
This, I discovered, was actually a statement previously attributed to Junior Health Minister Nadine Dorries, which was printed in a local newspaper article on October 6. Word for word.
How to depreciate. What contempt, and what disrespect or disrespect that Mr Hancock clearly has for his own general practitioners, to allow such a response.
But, next to that, it also says something chilling. Faced with evidence that his Covid plan is genuinely hurtful, if not deadly, he clearly feels irrefutable and can simply continue with impunity.
To what extent should the man responsible for all of our health care be devoid of human empathy?
More cut and paste, this time from a parliamentary speech he gave on May 22. I was told that funding has been increased for mental health charities, probably in response to our concerns about suicides.
Day in and day out, I talk to patients who are anxious and depressed about job loss, grief and fear – because they were afraid to leave home through daily death bulletins, fatal predictions and horrific government ads depicting the virus as terrifying green mud covering our faces.
I’ve seen a huge drop in the number of people attending children’s immunization clinics, and it chills me to think about the risk to these young people that things like measles pose, as well as less viruses and infections. common and more deadly, writes Dr. Ellie Cannon. Pictured: Stock Image
Mr Hancock’s letter claimed that ‘understandable concerns about the virus, combined with not wanting to be a burden on NHS staff, has meant that some people have not come forward for care’. So it’s the patients fault?
Absolutely not. For example, ECGs, which are essential for diagnosing heart disease, chest x-rays which can detect lung cancer, and even children’s blood tests should all be easy to offer in hospital clinics, but they have been hung in my room. London area.
In a nearby hospital, the pediatric emergency department has closed its doors due to Covid “until further notice”. If these services are not available, how can people ask for help?
Not surprisingly, they launched a slogan – a slogan they aired in April: ‘The NHS is open for business’. It just shows that the government has completely broken with reality.
Just last week, I had to explain to patients who were looking for arthritis treatment, cataract surgery, physiotherapy, and checkups for their children that they should either wait, go privately, give up or travel. much further than is practical or possible.
I will continue to do everything in my power to change this situation – but ultimately I’m just a GP.
Don’t think for a minute that I would recommend letting the virus rip. But there has to be a middle way – one in which we don’t trade a health threat for many others.
As for Mr. Hancock, well, I have nothing more to say. I’m afraid there is no cure for what is wrong with him.
I wonder under what oath politicians like him operate? What set of guiding principles?
My political contacts tell me that he is a man who wants to be loved. Perhaps that is why, although too busy to reflect on the concerns of his own GPs, he finds time to appear in countless television news programs.
So I take little comfort in knowing, when all this is done, in the inevitable public inquiry that will follow, it will undoubtedly be put out to dry.
And he will be remembered for the ruthless way he spoke and made empty statements, claiming that nothing he did could be wrong while ignoring the real health crisis this country is currently facing – one that is the fault of the government itself.