It seems many people have shrugged their shoulders and think catching Covid or passing it on doesn’t matter. This is not the case. Every single one of our hospitals was over capacity this week, meaning there were more patients needing beds than beds available.
These will have been people sick with all manner of illnesses. We do not have any slack in the system now to deal with even small increases in Covid patients being hospitalised.
Alongside this ongoing high case rate, we are also bracing ourselves for a rise in cases due to schools going back.
While, thankfully, children do not seem to be badly affected by Covid, they will, no doubt, pass it on to family members who might be more severely affected. For that reason, I would continue to urge everyone to get their vaccination so we can prevent more people becoming seriously ill.
Doctors and health workers, both in hospitals and GP surgeries, are doing their very best to keep the service running for patients. It has been dispiriting to see both the ongoing narrative that GPs are ‘closed’ and the misinformation around vaccines. GPs never closed. We have continued to see patients in person, face to face, every day since the pandemic began, alongside telephone appointments for those who did not need to be seen in person.
Vaccines have undergone rigorous testing and remain the best way for us to get back to ‘normal’.
Dr Tom Black is a GP based in Derry. He is chairperson of the British Medical Association (BMA) in NI.