RCSEd President on why talk of war isn’t helpful in this kind of crisis

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23 Mar 2020

Talk of war isn’t helpful in this kind of crisis - Michael Griffin

I have found it disappointing to see some referring to the Covid-19 situation as a “war”. Talk of war cabinets and military comparisons are unhelpful and do nothing to ease the anxiety of those who are in at-risk groups, particularly the elderly, who are facing a prolonged period of self-isolation. It is important to recognise that the NHS and the government are doing everything possible to protect the elderly, the vulnerable and the sick.

Many of the measures being taken are unprecedented and extreme but are being implemented in order to help everyone. They are coming from a place of genuine kindness and concern rather than any military campaign.

I want to emphasise the positives of the steps being taken. Healthcare workers will use every service at their disposal to treat patients and care for those who cannot look after themselves. There will inevitably be a loss of life but, if everyone plays their part and follows the necessary guidelines, we can prevent avoidable deaths. At times like these we can see the worst in people but, more importantly, also the inspiration of the best. Let us concentrate on the huge number of extraordinary acts of kindness and caring in communities that are responding to look after those who are feeling isolated and threatened.

There is no place for selfishness. Whether it is healthcare workers, family, friends or neighbours, we all must work to ensure that vulnerable people are prepared and looked after. It has never been more important for communities to come together and show kindness and responsibility. Check on your elderly family and neighbours, offer to collect their shopping and prescriptions, video call them when possible or simply pick up the phone more often than not.

Social isolation is not pleasant for the elderly but is essential in order to keep them safe. Likening the situation to wartime sends the wrong message. This is not about fighting but caring and protection.

With all the media coverage and dismal predictions, it is not surprising that elderly people at home alone think that this is a hopeless situation. We must be positive about their future care and protection. This is one of the biggest challenges facing us in three generations but, by acting responsibly and with compassion, kindness, care, and a community spirit, we can go a long way to minimising the effects of this pandemic.

Professor Michael Griffin, President RCSEd


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