I wish I didn’t need to write again, but the seas may be getting darker once more. Yet in their depths, there are glimmers of hope that break to the surface. I want to tell you that hope remains and is stronger now than ever.
To patients and their families, I say, it’s been the longest six months of mine and my colleagues’ life. But we are still here. If you become ill with covid-19, we now have more tools to help keep you safe at home. If you come to hospital, we have treatments that help you from needing our breathing machines. If you come to the intensive care unit, we know which drugs may work and will help you survive. You are now more likely to survive with covid-19 than ever before. Not everyone, but more than before. We also know illness doesn’t stop with covid-19. We are also here if your heart needs us, or if your brain needs us, or if your cancer needs us.
We are still here. We still care. But we still need your help.
To the public, I say, it’s been so hard for all of us to live through constant change. We have all, at times, felt overwhelmed by it. In the face of another covid wave and changing guidance, it’s easy to lose faith in “the science.” But constant change is a sign that this process is working rather than it being broken. Science learns, adapts, improves, and is honest about its mistakes. Other beliefs are different. Dogma and conspiracy are straight paths that do not deviate. Yet they lead you nowhere. Change is hard but important.
And to governments and policy makers, I say, now is the time to really look after your staff. Feed them when they are hungry—no matter what time it is. Give them somewhere to park their car or lock their bike when the nightshifts are long and dark. Care for them so they can care for others. Provide them with the tools they need to do their job, not free yoga sessions. Remember to be open with the public about the balancing act that must be struck. Covid-19 kills, but so too can some policies aimed at its control. Even when there are no simple answers, you must make difficult choices with trust and honesty on your side.
We are still here. We still care.
Many people, from many intensive care units, in many places.
Matt Morgan, honorary senior research fellow at Cardiff University, consultant in intensive care medicine, research and development lead in critical care at University Hospital of Wales, and an editor of BMJ OnExamination.
Competing interests: None declared.