We are in tier 4 covid restrictions here as is most of the UK as the sick in hospital reach record numbers. At the start of the pandemic the government was following its pandemic playbook which had been written in the years/decades leading up to 2020 but specifically for a flu pandemic. The plan included getting people to wash their hands regularly and to increase hospital capacity by building new hospitals; 9 new hospitals were opened around the country known as the Nightingale Hospitals after Florence Nightingale.
Opening new hospitals seems like a sensible thing to do but they forgot one crucial ingredient: staff. Staff are the most undervalued yet most important resource in a hospital or indeed in any organisation. A hospital without staff is completely useless and so it is that 10 months after the pandemic began, at a time when our hospitals are at risk of becoming overwhelmed, the Nightingale hospitals stand completely empty, having never been used, and are now being dismantled because we don’t have the staff for them.
Yes, Minister predicted this years and years ago.
The NHS and nurses in particular have been underfunded, underpaid, undervalued, and overworked for a decade now. You can’t undo that underinvestment in less than a year. We can all support nurses now by trying our best not to spread covid and keeping ourselves healthy in other ways through exercise and diet to reduce the strain on the health service. It won’t make up for years of underfunding but one less person using the NHS means more resources for someone else.
The new covid strain that has taken over the UK was first found in Kent in September. New strains are not uncommon but this one became a concern when Kent did not see an expected reduction in cases during the English lockdown in November as other regions did. This means the new strain still spreads with an R value above one even during the type of lockdown that was implemented in November. In other words, our only strategy – lockdown – doesn’t work so well on this mutation. I suspect this means schools will have to remain closed until a significant proportion of the population has been vaccinated. Schools were not closed during the November lockdown.
On a cheerier note, we went for a walk at Drum Castle today. We’re allowed to go up to 5 miles from our local authority boundary for exercise provided we start and end in the same place. Drum Castle is within 5 miles of the boundary of Aberdeeen City which extends quite far to the west on the north bank of the River Dee. They still have snow on the ground at Drum Castle and I got some nice pics.
The carpark was like an ice-skating rink.
The castle was lovely. We had a picnic on the lawn.
I got my jumping shot.
Ben got his looking miserable in the snow photo.