I am a UK GP and feel devastated at the catastrophe unfolding before us and the harm that governmental decisions (un-debated, unchallenged and ignoring the evidence) have done. The last straw was Matt Hancock’s October 9th tweet:
This year, when all nations have faced peril & adversity, the NHS was there for us, as it always is, & as it always must be. pic.twitter.com/Ue6v9SI87A— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) October 9, 2020
To which I say, what utter rot. As a GP I know hospital activity is less, because we get fewer inpatient/outpatient letters from them, and many of those we do request us to do tests that they are no longer inclined to do. When I see a patient with life-threatening symptoms they are terrified to go to hospital, fearing Covid. Cancer screening has been suspended, and cancer diagnostic tests are delayed, scanty and often not the optimal tests – I am already aware of delayed cancer diagnoses and treatment. Outpatient waits for people with disabling, unstable, chronic conditions have soared. Mental health services are overwhelmed with little face-to-face contact. We continue to see people but the ‘guidance’ from up above makes us triage everyone, limit numbers in our waiting room, wear masks, wipe things down and this significantly slows our throughput. This is made worse by our having key staff frequently and suddenly absent due to requirement to isolate should their child, as children do, get a transient cough. Despite this, in our large practice, not a single one of us has been diagnosed with Covid, despite our likely contact in the earlier days of the pandemic. The evidence for these heightened hygiene measures are non-existent – we have never done it in high flu prevalence years, and it should be noted they are not preventing a continued ‘average’ stream of flu deaths at present, which by far exceed current deaths from Covid. Two metre separation is entirely arbitrary and I have read no compelling evidence regarding cloth masks, yet plenty, including from the British Medical Journal, to indicate they increase risk. My experience is that they constrain communication and invoke fear.