A Brighton councillor has spoken out about the coronavirus pandemic at a Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) meeting.
Labour councillor Amanda Evans made her remarks at the start of a virtual meeting of the Brighton and Hove City Council committee this afternoon (Wednesday 9 December).
She said: “I am frustrated, angry even. The life of this committee and this council, but more importantly the lives of NHS staff, carers and all other residents of our city and our country continue to be dominated by covid-19.
“It is restricting our freedoms, damaging our mental health and obviously threatening our physical health and our very lives, not to mention the abject devastation it is wreaking on the local and national economy.
“It is, of course, the greatest health crisis in a century and we are far from alone in experiencing it with, as far as I am aware, not a single country on the planet completely untouched.
“However, it doesn’t need to be this bad, at this stage, and that isn’t universal.
“We are right up there leading the world in the worst possible way – among a tiny handful of countries with deaths per million of over 900.
“For contrast, those in Denmark are around 150, Norway less than 70, Germany around 240, and China, where the story began or was at least first identified, way behind on less than four per million, with total deaths among their vast population of less than 5,000.
“The only countries ahead of us appear to be those – like Belgium, for instance – who are counting differently, in listing all excess deaths as covid-19.
“I’m sure everyone here joins me in hoping that the several vaccines now approved for use represent the huge shining hope that we might someday soon be able to return to some semblance of normality.
“I further hope that the mass vaccination programme is left to health professionals to administer in its entirety and therefore not horribly bungled as our TTI (track, trace and isolate) efforts continue to be, through no fault of the professionals who should be running them, but aren’t.
“Having got all that off my chest, I’ll come back to today’s agenda to say that it, too, has been affected, which is what set me off in the first place, in as much as we cannot have the items we would like, in as much detail as we would like, since we recognise – and still very much appreciate and are grateful for – the fact that in the midst of this ongoing emergency everyone is too busy actively trying to provide services of all kinds to take up time to provide the kind of detailed answers to us that they normally would.
“For example, we were hoping to have a report on dental services during this period at today’s HOSC.
“Healthwatch Brighton and Hove have been contacted by a number of local residents – as have I, and probably every other councillor – who have found NHS dentistry to be difficult or impossible to access in recent months.
“And I had invited them to present these issues to the committee, with NHS England, the dental commissioners, responding.
“However, I’ve been told by NHS England that no one is available to join today’s call. After discussion with Healthwatch, I’ve reluctantly decided to postpone this item and will be pressing NHS England to attend the next HOSC.
“I’ll finish by once again giving our heartfelt thanks to everyone providing reports to us today, even if they are not able to be as in depth as they and we might prefer, and to all our NHS and care staff, medical and non-medical, working tirelessly for the wellbeing of us all – which, on a personal note, includes my newly qualified junior doctor daughter, just back at work in the hard-hit north east of the country after a – thankfully mild – tussle with covid of her own.”
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