Streets in our towns and villages united in appreciation of NHS and social care workers at the height of the pandemic. The sound of clapping boomed loud and clear around Sidmouth, where I live in East Devon.
We should all be incredibly proud of our healthcare staff. They continue to work incredibly hard to prepare for the worst, look after patients, and overcome every obstacle they can to care for us.
I’ve been speaking weekly with the NHS in Devon during the pandemic. Last week, I held a Healthcare Roundtable meeting with GPs from across East Devon to understand the pressures and challenges they face.
Despite every clap, healthcare staff across East Devon tell me that abuse towards them and their colleagues is on the rise and considerably worse than usual. After a very difficult few months, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to try and help someone, only to receive abuse in response.
Our doctors, nurses, GP and hospital staff deserve so much better. They are working in difficult circumstances and the restrictions affect them too. It often means GPs can’t see as many patients face to face as they’d like and some consultations are held virtually. A tremendous amount of effort and ingenuity has gone into getting appointments back on the books.
We all long for normality. Nobody wants these restrictions. However, we need to stay aware of the impact they are making in every aspect of the services we’ve come to expect. Inevitably, that includes the NHS.
We should also recognise significant investment in our NHS in Devon this year. The RD&E was recently awarded £6 million by the government to upgrade the A&E department.
Meanwhile, in response to the pandemic, £23 million was spent in East Devon to build the region’s Nightingale Hospital which is helping to clear the backlog of appointments and is now assisting with vaccine trials.
I’ll continue to fight for services and funding of healthcare in the region. Let’s celebrate the amazing job that healthcare professionals do for us and make sure we treat them with the respect they deserve.