Having had direct family experience of the extraordinary love and care provided by St Catherine’s Hospice I have always taken an interest in their amazing work. They have long aspired to move to a new site with room to expand and offer more support. It was a pleasure to visit them at Pease Pottage to see the foundations literally being laid for just that.
St Catherine’s will soon be launching the final round of fundraising to complete the project which is set to open next autumn. The setting, the modern facilities, the quiet and privacy this building will create all bodes well for St Catherine’s future support of those, of all ages, approaching the end of life.
The reality of mortality is one from which in our generation we tend to shy away but it is vital that on issues such as “living wills” we have open conversations to ensure those we love know our wishes.
While we may have wished to avoid the grim news, the peak of the dreadful covid pandemic brought onto our screens daily deeply worrying statistics of the havoc that disease was inflicting. For a number of reasons, including how closely on average we live together in the U.K., it seemed likely we would be more vulnerable than some of our European neighbours.
While the NHS consistently produced data during the pandemic we knew that it would only be at a later date, using statistics that were genuinely comparable, that we would have a better understanding (subject to local factors) of how successful different national approaches were in confronting this appalling global tragedy.
World Health Organisation figures released last week show that the UK suffered 109 excess deaths a year per 100,000 people. Other European countries such as Italy, Germany and Spain had 133, 116 and 111 respectively. Those of the United Sates were significantly higher.
Every single death was a tragedy, every one we sought to avoid. What the WHO figures may suggest is that in the U.K. the vaccine did indeed rapidly move to protect us while the NHS with their tireless determination saved countless lives and in doing so created new approaches to therapeutic care, copied globally.
Throughout the pandemic while working so hard to protect us the NHS was also producing detailed statistics. Such scrutiny is vital and I have no doubt the public enquiry into the pandemic will be similarly open and honest. So many people rose brilliantly to an extraordinary challenge and continue to do so and there will be much we will need to learn for the future.