As Emergency Department doctors, we were always going to be on the frontline. In spring 2020, we were taken to one side and it was suggested we might have to say goodbye to our relatives for the foreseeable future. Few realise the fear generated in hospitals in 2020.
On the 1st of June 2022, NHS England issued further guidance regarding the use of face masks in clinical settings. In what could be – optimistically – construed as further progress towards the Government’s ‘Living with covid’ goal, this latest official briefing directs hospitals and other care settings to end the requirement for staff, patients and visitors to wear face coverings in most wards and departments.
We are now well over two years into the Covid pandemic and heading into summer. At this point the Government has long-since dropped all the Covid mandates and told the public that we must “learn to live with Covid”; hospitality venues, bars and theatres are full of people socialising and enjoying themselves; face masks are now a far rarer sight in shops and on public transport; and there are more smiles and spontaneous hugs being seen in public.
The evidence that masking healthy people in community settings reduces viral transmission is – at best – weak and contradictory. In light of this lack of empirical support for the effectiveness of face coverings, together with the multiple harms associated with them, HART welcomes the lifting of all mask mandates in the UK.
Following our recent article highlighting isolation and neglect in care homes, we are appalled to report that the situation is only slowly improving. What is more, many NHS sites are still imposing draconian and vindictive policies. Children are being separated from parents and dying relatives are being abandoned to a lonely end.
Over the last 7 months, a group of health professionals and scientists have written repeatedly to the MHRA, the JCVI and the Chief Medical Officers regarding the safety data (or lack of) for covid-19 vaccinations for children. These letters have gone largely unanswered.
Changing the total population estimate results in large swings in the estimate of ‘case’ rates in the unvaccinated. Given the inability to be accurate within a few percentage points, and the uncertainty about whether the inaccuracies are overestimating or underestimating the total, the differences between populations is not as informative as the trend in rates within each of the populations.
The logic of mandating vaccines in the NHS is hard to fathom, particularly given mandates for care home staff are due to come into force on 11th November and may also affect at least 10% of care workers in a sector already facing critical staff shortages.
3 June 2021 – A number of professional bodies — such as the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Nursing — have already rejected the notion that COVID-19 vaccination for staff should be compulsory. Nevertheless, the government signalled its intention to consider mandating vaccination for NHS staff.