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My personal reflection and recollection of the past year #OneYearOn

22nd March 2021 - 3:34 PM

“If I had more time, I would write a shorter letter,” Blaise Pascal

A year on from the first lockdown, Haxby Group’s managing partner John McEvoy gives his personal recollection and reflection of the past year.

It has been…intense and, at times, a little stressful.  But it’s been rewarding and fulfilling at the same time.  
My foremost feeling is that this isn’t over yet.  But it is entering the next phase with some hope, and growing evidence, that it will be better than the last.   If the start of the year was one of transformation of service, protection, shielding, fast deployment of technology and reorganisation – a defensive action in primary care, with the front line firmly in the hospitals.   The end of the year was definitely one on the offensive with a vaccination campaign where general practices lead the charge delivering roughly 75% of all vaccines administered to date.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Charles Dickens

It was also a year of community and community spirit.  Right from the beginning some people demonstrated their best side.   Others may not have done, but that is ever the case.  From the start we experienced terrific voluntary community help for the shielded and vulnerable and this carried through to the marvellous army of volunteers who marshal and administer vaccines and continue to deliver medicines.   Wider than that, the desire from many to be a part of the struggle, to do their bit, has been amazing.  We experienced superb generosity from the business community loaning our visiting teams their cars so that home visits could be conducted safely and huge generosity from the other business’ in donations of food, varying from fruit and sweets to pizza.   It is not lost on me that that same business community have been having a very hard time of it during the pandemic.  Importantly, we should all be thankful that the majority have done their bit by just paying attention to the rules and guidance, and very importantly by turning up for their vaccine.

“Tell the truth to the British people.  They are a tough people, a robust people…” Winston Churchill

I have already touched on communication, it felt controlled and yet out of control, often learning of hugely impactful policy changes after the news media briefing and then facing the consequent impact on the phones and reception desks and in the consultations.   Also, at times the amounts, overwhelming the ability to absorb before further change.
We have done our best to pass on what we know, if it was hard for us then it must have been bewildering for our patients. 

“Poverty is neither simply an act of God nor something people do or don’t do to themselves…” Michael Marmot

At the beginning of the year I noted the impetus that the pandemic had given to improvements in technology and patient care. In particular, around access.  However significant previously-known gaps linger, such as a single system for patient records or better access to diagnostics.
Importantly there is growing data to support the case that it has failed to address inequalities.  The data for the impact of Covid-19, the rate of vaccine uptake both seem to me to point out that we have a way to go.  We must watch that in our joy in technological progress, we do not leave the less favoured further behind.

“Success is its own justification,” Napoleon

The vaccine program has been a success.  Everyone involved must be congratulated.  But in itself it is only one part of the future way out of the pandemic.  Primary care, like all parts of the NHS, must steel itself for the work that has lain dormant; the needs arising that are, at present, somewhat side-lined.  Then there are the other COVID effects from safeguarding to psychology.  But my faith in General Practice, in primary care and the people within it, has only been reinforced by the past 12 months.   It has stepped up to the plate at a time of need and will continue to do so; it is the very definition of a national treasure.

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