My beloved daughter-in-law’s vital heart operation was cancelled as she was preparing to leave home for her surgery on Monday. The reason: staff shortages. For me this confirmed the present reality of the fears expressed your article (Rise in Covid cases will put intense pressure on NHS, bosses warn, 12 July).
Her only child was born under lockdown in April 2020, 10 weeks premature because of her mother’s heart condition. Two and a half months later, they were finally able to come home and settle down to family life with my stepson in their one-room apartment. This room has been their virus-vigilant kitchen, bedroom, nursery, living room and workspace for over a year. They have faced their circumstances, previous delays and the inherent jeopardy of an operation wonderfully as devoted parents, positive and united.
Monday’s cancellation was a crushing blow. For all their fortitude, fatigue, anxiety and fear have been in the background. A new date has been offered but they are worried about the effects on the NHS of rising case numbers.
I’m worried too. Covid’s coming home to many vulnerable families like ours because of the chronic stress on NHS staff, rising Covid hospitalisations and the likely decimation of service capability by pings from the imprecise NHS app.
And I’m angry. For those awaiting treatment, physical and mental health is deteriorating and the outlook is worsening because of this government’s insensitivity and incompetence. On Sunday night at Wembley, we witnessed the effects of government policy and messaging in the carefree behaviour of the many. The few, like our little family, wait behind closed doors for treatment from an increasingly compromised and exhausted NHS.
Maybe my daughter-in-law will be lucky and get her operation soon. Maybe she’ll finally come home to be a carefree mum to her beautiful daughter. I hope so.
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For 16 months, many people with diabetes have been making incredibly difficult decisions about life, family and work, to try to keep themselves safe while the pandemic has devastated communities across the UK.
The pandemic has disproportionately affected people with diabetes and many will be deeply worried about the upcoming lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England. We understand and share their concerns.
Vaccines work – and remain the best way for people with diabetes to protect themselves from the virus. We urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated without delay. We also want the public to remember that masks protect others, and to be thoughtful of those who have conditions that put them at greater risk.
But encouraging people to use their good judgment after 19 July doesn’t go far enough, and we’re concerned that the guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people – many of whom have diabetes alongside other serious conditions – offers little protection, and simply places the responsibility on individuals to try to navigate their lives with fear and anxiety.
As England enters this third wave, we fear that the enormous pressure placed on the NHS and healthcare professionals in these past 16 months will continue, and diabetes care – which has already suffered – will continue to struggle with cancelled and delayed appointments.
To put further pressure on our already-stretched NHS by lifting restrictions at this crucial time could be devastating, and have long-lasting consequences to those living with long-term health conditions like diabetes.
As restrictions lift, we expect the government to observe closely and, if the situation demands, act immediately through legislation and policy to protect clinically vulnerable people and the NHS.
Chief executive, Diabetes UK