Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/nclexion/public_html/wp-content/themes/jnews/class/ContentTag.php on line 47
The country is entering a new phase in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. As I write, the numbers of cases and deaths are thankfully coming down and, as a result, lockdown is being cautiously eased. But what does the future hold?
Two phrases have entered the national lexicon: ‘second wave’ and ‘new normal’. The former refers to the possibility of a second surge of cases that could yet overwhelm services and the latter to a return to normality incorporating changes driven by Covid-19. In the June issue of Nursing Times we explore what they mean for nursing and the health sector.
While the first wave of Covid-19 cases has clearly peaked, it remains unclear if we should expect further waves. It seems that, like many of us, our government seemingly sat back and watched the crisis unfolding in Wuhan with morbid fascination, until it arrived knocking at our front door. Regardless of whether there is a second wave, we must be ready for one. As the Scout motto says, “be prepared”.
A sufficient stockpile of personal protective equipment is essential. Never again should nurses and other health and care staff be left unprotected by a lack of PPE; never again should they be exposed to the risk of dying simply by doing their job. It is unacceptable that they were in the first wave. Testing also falls into the same camp. Sets of national guidance were also in some cases conflicting. These need to be reviewed and, if necessary, updated urgently so it is both comprehensive and consistent.
“If this problem had been tackled with more vigour and creativity, perhaps less redeployment would have been needed and fewer services paused”
Planners also need to ensure that the health and social care systems are viewed as one. When it came to Covid-19, the policy focus fell on hospitals to the detriment of other settings, especially care homes.
The NHS was short of nurses before the pandemic. If this problem had been tackled with more vigour and creativity, perhaps less redeployment would have been needed and fewer services paused.
On the plus side, we have seen nurses adopt technology to help relatives and patients feel connected, as well as taking on roles in unfamiliar settings. We have confirmed, rather than learnt, that the nursing profession has the expertise and skills to rise to the challenge of a pandemic but it deserves proper support. The government and NHS leaders now have the chance to take stock and look at what worked well and where they could do better – in some cases much better. Lessons must be heeded and not forgotten.