The Nightingale Hospitals and snow at Drum Castle

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.

4 Replies to “The Nightingale Hospitals and snow at Drum Castle”

  1. I wondered if you had gone to Tier 4 too. When I started my first proper job (that wasn’t working for my husband) at the age of 28 in the local youth centre, pretty much the first thing I learned (and which I had been ignorant of before) was that there were lots of grants for *things* for projects but no one would fund staff costs, and as they were the highest cost, it was pretty difficult to get any projects off the ground. So that was (unfortunately) the first thing I thought when I heard about the Nightingale hospitals. It is sad that decision makers are so removed from real life with private health care and top of the line treatment that they don’t realise what basic things are needed to make things work.
    You must be glad that you have online school and don’t have to worry about closures. As one of my children had a terrible time at school, it is a wonderful thing that you have found something that works well for them.
    It’s good that you post such lovely pictures of the places you go. It really makes lock down easier to know that people are still able to make the most of what is around us.

    1. All of Scotland is in tier 4 since boxing day. While I don’t like the lockdowns we don’t seem to have any other effective strategy so I support it but I do wish we could manage it better to avoid these.

      The online school has been a God-send. Elizabeth sometimes says if it wasn’t for the pandemic we wouldn’t have discovered it which is true.
      You’re so right about grant funding and staff costs. We’ve come up against the same obstacle when raising money for the Cycle Forum. It does make it challenging when everyone is a volunteer.

  2. Lovely pics again. I’m not sure how long I’ve been following your blog, but this is at least my second winter with you 😊

    1. We didn’t get any snow in Aberdeen last winter which was unusual so this winter is already an improvement as far as snow goes.

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