13th March 2020
I have been catching up on Call The Midwives, a BBC television series that has run since 2012 and follows the developments of the midwifery service and the NHS from the early 1950’s to the early sixties.
It is striking to see that we seem to have forgotten the importance of soap and water. In the fifties, there was a public health message describing how to wash them and how to avoid infection by washing your hands regularly and communicating to the public that hand washing should be a necessary part of daily hygiene.
As I wonder the aisles of the supermarkets there is such an array of soaps, gels, balms and foams all promising to get rid of those germs and keep your hands safe. Varying prices and amounts for your money.
People around me, more than usual, I note; grabbing what they can to put in their trolleys as if we may run out. On the bottom shelves there are bars of soap, lots, different brands, different aims for your hands and skin but all of them able to wash away a virus.
As well as the advocation of soap and water, the programme details the pressures and strains of the NHS from it’s inception. The NHS model was so successful at treating it’s patients that resources were critical more than a few times, desperate for funding, trials of new treatments.
We haven’t moved so far away from that, some sixty years later and some of the arguments and crisis are as relevant now as they were then and if this virus hits us in the way that viral experts predict then we are going to need to be there for all the workers that support the NHS, its patients and families.
Not only in the short term but also the longer term over years. I feel this virus will change the world we know and live in now for future generations. I hope that I am wrong and that we will have a wave and then we can set about recovering and moving on but when I look to the news of other countries and look at the spread using the World Health Organisation reporting I am not confident.
Our amazing NHS has been stretched to the edges of the model of healthcare it once was, shifts are long and not supportive of a person’s wellbeing. Pressures to perform and meet targets are over ambitious for many often starting in training and continuing through to working on the wards, in departments, communities and surgeries.
I don’t know what the answer is or how to resolve many of the issues. I do know what an amazing resource it is, having been a member of the NHS hotel service for many years after birth and ever since annually. The staff work tirelessly often in difficult circumstances.
What flashes into my mind now is the NHS in the fifties and sixties used a lot of cotton in their garments and soap on the beds and floors. Perhaps we should be scrapping the fancy gels and liquids and returning to the humble bar of soap especially as this is what happens when you put soap near a virus. Click here.