The last couple of years have been interesting ones to be publishing a magazine for nurses. You may have a more colourful term for the experience, but it is without doubt that our world will never be the same as it was prior to March 2020.
It is fair to say that no-one saw the impact of COVID-19 coming, but they almost certainly should have done. Pandemics had been wargamed, and shortages of PPE noted, but not rectified. Shortages of staff in crucial areas were a matter of record, and were only getting worse, with no meaningful action except to make nurse training more expensive for students. Health inequalities between the richest and the poorest, and different ethnic groups had been documented,most notably by the Marmot Review, and studiously ignored.
With the best will in the world, COVID-19 would still have hit the UK hard, but had we started with a better health infrastructure, and had the Government acted more decisively, would we still have seen 175,000 people perish from the disease?
There are perhaps some sliver linings to be had. As Mark Greener writes here, our understanding of how coronaviruses work, our treatments for those suffering the disease now have increased hugely in the last two years, and that’s without considering the miraculous speed at which vaccines have been developed and rolled out (if not always shared).
But other problems remain, and have become more acute. The stress of treating patients through the pandemic has worsened the problem of staff burnout. Without attention to nurses and other carers, the shock of COVID will prove to have a very long tail.