Pandemic Perspectives: An Anniversary For Reflection
You could be forgiven for thinking that you had wandered on to the set of a Hollywood movie when the World Health Organisation declared that COVID-19 had become a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. A week or so later the UK, along with many other countries, declared a lockdown which saw wholesale restrictions on social and economic life, designed to reduce the transmission of the virus so the health service was not overwhelmed. Every line of official communication started telling us to ‘Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’.
Ever since this watershed moment the lives of the entire population have been massively altered, and for health and care workers normal daily life has been turned on its head. Previous stresses from the NHS’ 75-year history pale into comparison to the seismic shock of the coronavirus pandemic.
Scrambling to understand and treat a novel virus; delivering care with a shortage of essential equipment; reorganising modes of care; establishing the Nightingale hospitals; ensuring those with ‘normal’ ailments were not forgotten; being retrained or redeployed; contending with risks to their own health and wellbeing; developing and delivering a vaccine; and being placed on a pedestal with the Thursday evening applause – all elements that have made 2020-21 a time like no other for the NHS.
The legacy of COVID-19 will continue to be written long after the final person has been vaccinated and we can all enjoy a pint in a pub again. The NHS and the services it delivers will be recovering for a long time to come. But a post-pandemic NHS will also prove fertile ground for fundamental positive changes, many of which were born out of necessity in the thick of the virus, to take root and become the norm.
To understand what this has really been like for healthcare professionals, patient groups, and life science researchers in this period and what changes we might see as a result of the pandemic, MHP Health interviewed 30 people from across the country.
We asked three questions:
1. What three words would you use to describe your experiences of the pandemic?
2. What do you know now that you wish you had known a year ago?
3. What (if anything) do you think will be the positive legacy of the pandemic for you in your role and what changes would you like to see in the NHS as a result?
This report captures the perspectives of the people on the frontline, from the chaos to the camaraderie, to the hopes for some positive changes as part of COVID-19’s legacy.