4th Aug, 2020

'More COVID-19 testing and greater UK border security needed', says frontline doctor in Q&A

Tristan Harris 15th Apr, 2020 Updated: 16th Apr, 2020

A DOCTOR from Hagley who is on the frontline treating COVID-19 patients said there needs to be a lot more testing if we are to defeat the virus.

Dr David Nicholl, who works at a Birmingham hospital, spoke during a question and answer session on the Bromsgrove Liberal Democrats Facebook page on Wednesday night.

He said: “If we are going to solve this, it has to be with science.

“We need to think like South Korea – we need testing, testing, testing – they upscaled their labs dramatically to do it.

“The World Health Organisation has said if we are to come out of lockdown we are going to need more widespread testing.”

He added Germany was assessing three times more people than the UK and, bearing in mind most people had no symptoms but could spread it, called for all healthcare professionals to be tested.

He also said he felt the UK’s borders were not sufficiently secure, particularly with regard to flights from countries with larger coronavirus issues.

“Yes the flights to New York have reduced by 75 per cent and most of them are cargo but I still struggle to see how you can fly from New York into Heathrow, not have your temperature checked, not be screened and not insist that person is quarantined for two weeks.

“That’s certainly what would happen in Australia.”

He has a mixed feeling towards the wearing of masks, adding it was much more important for careworkers and healthcare professionals, although the advice was being constantly reviewed by NHS England.

And he confirmed, with regard to the hospital he worked in, there had been adequate deliveries of personal protection equipment (PPE), adding he felt very safe at work.

He slammed the Government on its earlier ‘herd immunity’ stance as ‘bonkers’ as we were dealing with a virus which not much was known about.

And he warned about talk in the press regarding ‘the peak’, saying during the Spanish Flu in 1918 – the worst panedemic before this – there was three peaks with the second one delivering the most deaths. So, he added, there was a danger we could think we had reached ‘the peak’ but things could get worse, rather than better.

Another concern Dr Nicholl was raised was that, because so much of the NHS’ resources were being focused on COVID-19 there could be many other medical issues being missed, such as cancers and heart conditions.

He also reiterated his concerns about the UK not having enough ventilators, saying the UK had the lowest number of the machines per head than any other European country.

We are 27 out of 29 and added his initial estimate of 30,000 – reported in the Standard a fortnight ago – was probably over-stated, but that was due to the hard work of the NHS and hospital trusts.

He said it was down to different methods being used, including non-invasive ventilation and the self-isolation being practised across the country.

“I have spoken to intensive care people today and we do have sufficient capacity at the moment.”

He also expressed concerns about people’s mental health.

“There is a bigger risk of suicide in someone under 40 than there ever will be from coronavirus.”

Dr Nicholl said it was important for people to do all they could to maintain and improve their mental health under lockdown – by exercising, reading, learning a new hobby and art – to name a few – and by not watching too much news.

“We should be isolating but we shouldn’t be lonely.

“Loneliness really worries me as a healthcare professional because it is linked to illness.”

He stressed the importance of people staying in touch and keeping in contact with family members, whether that be through social media or video messaging apps.

And he urged people to check on their neighbours.

“The World is going to be a very different place when we get through this – and we will get through this – with science and the community working together.”

He said he was ‘staggered’ by how much had changed.

He felt international travel would change with more conferences and meetings held online – which would be more beneficial to the environment.

“When you see pictures from villages in India, there are people there who can see the Himalayas and Everest for the first time in their lives because the air pollution has gone down.

“Likewise, when you see dolphins in the canals in Venice, there are some environmental benefits.”

And he said things would also be very different in the UK – it was good people were now even more appreciative of the NHS and other carers and key workers.

“When we come through this we have to look at what this country cares about and we need to make sure the NHS is properly funded and we are better prepared for any future pandemics.”

The full Facebook broadcast is below.

Posted by Bromsgrove Liberal Democrats on Wednesday, 15 April 2020

 

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