In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”; one of CS Lewis’ characters realises the awful plight of ice-bound Narnia “Can you imagine? It is always winter and never Christmas”.
For many that just about sums up 2020, both metaphorically and in some ways literally. The new Covid strain has kept us deep in the grip of winter. Infection numbers have increased very significantly locally with a growing number of hospitalisations and this at the time of annual peak demand for Hospital services.
Local hospitals continue to perform an amazing job notwithstanding the huge pressure staff have been under throughout the last year. The least we can do is observe social distancing and the Covid rules, it keeps us all safer and means everyone is doing their bit to save lives and help the NHS continue to serve those that need it: whether that be for Covid or other urgent treatments.
The early sign of a thaw to come is the ongoing vaccination programmes.
At the vaccination centre in Christs Hospital patients are being brilliantly looked after, with set appointment times there is no queuing and the look of relief on patients’ faces is wonderful. Similarly at Park at the weekend patients were smoothly being taken through guided by volunteers.
Due to the fast work of Horsham GPs and their teams much of our area is ahead of the schedule of much of the country. This has not however been easy. While having (unlike some countries) one National Health system brings many advantages, the logistical challenges to deliver tens of millions of vaccines – some requiring highly specialist transportation and storage - are immense. There is a vast amount of work being put in by the local organisers. Practice teams and volunteers are doing their utmost to deliver for us all. I know this is recognised even when difficult decisions taken (for very good clinical reasons) by national medical bodies, like the postponement of second doses to get the maximum number of first doses delivered, have to be explained and delivered locally. We are enormously grateful for the work being done.
Areas have been moving at different speeds depending on local logistics (the easier to deliver Oxford vaccine will certainly help) but all our local areas are now underway and patients will be offered a vaccine in priority order.
By vaccinating the most vulnerable first we not only reduce deaths but, by reducing hospitalisations, help support the NHS for all patients, whatever their condition. So far 2.4m people have been vaccinated, including 40% of those over 80, real progress is underway.