An Indian-origin doctor has called on Boris Johnson to ensure the state-funded National Health Service is kept well-resourced even beyond crisis times as he issued a sharply-worded open letter addressed to the British Prime Minister in relation to the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Professor Minesh Khashu, a neonatal consultant from Dorset in south-west England, stressed that medical workers being hero worshipped during the crisis need basic amenities more than all the praise, as he goes on to highlight some missed opportunities in the handling of the crisis and questions why countries like Germany were able to get a grip on testing for the deadly virus while the UK lags far behind.
The best way to repay us is through a well-funded and sustainable health and social care system. While the COVID-19 crisis has suddenly woken everyone up to realize that we need admiration and hero-worship, what we really need is a well-funded system and basic amenities to look after ourselves at work, writes Khashu.
In reference to the initial handling to the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK, he notes: Strategically it would have made more sense to utilise initially the armed forces and reserves, rather than the acute hospitals and the already stretched ambulance sector, to look after COVID cases in specific military health institutions.
This was an ideal opportunity to use the armed forces personnel and hospitals to segregate COVID cases from the general public and would have worked much better. We need to ask ourselves why this wasn’t done.
The doctor on the frontline of the coronavirus fightback stressed that the open letter, published in The Daily Mirror on Wednesday, has been issued at a personal rather than professional level as he goes on to challenge the damaging equation of the pandemic with war analogies and rhetoric.
He writes: It has given the system powers to command and control without any transparency and discussion regarding decision making. It is this war analogy that has led to people dying in hospital without any near or dear ones by their side.
This is perhaps the most devastating and cruel effect of our war rhetoric. There is no reason why one should not have been allowed to visit a dying partner or parent with full PPE (personal protective equipment) protection, if one wished to do so.
On the subject of PPE, an issue that has dominated UK headlines in recent days due to a critical shortage of supplies of items such as surgical gowns, the NHS doctor calls for a genuine apology from the UK Cabinet over the way in which the matter has been handled.
It would be useful to scrutinise what preparation was done between late December and March and why we have failed on so many levels. Moreover, the lack of a genuine apology from your Cabinet colleagues for the shambolic way in which PPE has been managed and care homes have been turned into slaughter houses, begs for some soul searching and brings into disrepute the culture within government, he said.
British doctors and health workers have continuously raised the alarm about a lack of sufficient protective kit to treat potential coronavirus patients, potentially exposing themselves and putting vulnerable patients at risk.
The total number of confirmed cases in the UK have reached 1,29,044 and 17,337 people have died.
Globally, more than 170,000 people have died and over 2.5 million people have been infected by the coronavirus, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
On a personal note, Khashu is complimentary about Johnson’s message to the NHS after being discharged following his COVID-19 hospitalisation and also wished his partner, Carrie Symonds, a safe pregnancy.
He said: While I have always admired your intelligence, your single mindedness, decisiveness and power of persuasion, your post hospital discharge video message brought forth two further attributes which many of us had not witnessed earlier: a degree of vulnerability and simple, genuine and sincere words. These are quite endearing in a leader and hope they serve you well in the coming years.
I wish you a speedy recovery. I wish you and Carrie all the best for the rest of the pregnancy and best wishes for the new arrival. If the critical illness hasn’t transformed you enough, I am sure fatherhood will.