Express & Star comment: Be proud of our NHS

Many of the steps taken by the NHS during the early stages of the pandemic would simply never happen in normal times.

A woman cycling past a rainbow graffiti in support of the NHS in Soho, central London.
A woman cycling past a rainbow graffiti in support of the NHS in Soho, central London.

When the need is great, decisions often have to be taken with little preparation or planning – particularly when any delay could lead to lives being lost.

One local hospital boss has revealed how he pushed ahead with the construction of a new ward, despite not having the cash needed to pay for it at the time.

With bed spaces at a premium and the number of Covid patients rising rapidly, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust CEO David Loughton decided his only option was to deal with the financial issues after the health crisis was sorted out.

In many ways it was a gamble, but it was a necessary one that fortunately paid off.

The national shortage of protective equipment also resulted in hospital staff taking unprecedented steps.

Some took to secreting away items such as gowns and face masks, presumably because they were worried about the consequences of running out.

Such measures were certainly not ideal, and clearly, in similar circumstances in future health chiefs would rather a more hospital-wide approach was taken.

But in this situation there was no time for planning.

At the end of March 2020 the number of Covid patients in the majority of our hospitals went from a handful to hundreds in a matter of weeks.

No doubt mistakes have been made and lessons will be learned, but the bottom line is that every decision was made with safety in mind.

In years to come, we will probably look back and marvel at how well our hospitals coped with the Covid crisis.

Across our region thousands of NHS staff were brought in from other areas of service to assist with the fight against the pandemic.

To a large extent, our hospitals had to become singular in their focus on the virus.

Questions will rightly be asked over the impact on other areas of care. In some instances, it will undoubtedly become clear that things should have been done differently.

But on reflection, it is hard to feel anything but immense pride in the efforts of our NHS.

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