Commenting on the additional lockdown measures introduced by the Northern Ireland Executive today (Thursday, 08 October, 2020), Dr Tom Black, chair of BMA’s Northern Ireland Council, said: “We should all be extremely worried about the growth in cases over the past couple of weeks. We did not expect to see such a rise again so soon, but be in no doubt we are now at the start of a second wave.
“With hospital admissions now also increasing, we have got to do all we can for the sake of our NHS and the most vulnerable in our society. It is essential that everyone plays their part now to help drive down transmissions of this virus otherwise our health service faces a worse situation than we did during the first wave. You can help now by doing the following: Wear face coverings in all indoor spaces outside of your own home where social distancing is not possible; wash your hands as frequently as possible; stay at home as much as you can; avoid mixing with anyone from outside your household when possible; work from home where possible, and; downloading the StopCOVID NI contact tracing app.”
Dr Black also appealed for retired clinicians to consider applying for the Department of Health’s workforce appeal which was relaunched today in response to the second wave of the pandemic.
“One of the key issues for this second wave of COVID-19 is the number of health service staff absent or having to isolate,” said Dr Black.
“This is having a big effect across the clinical and frontline health workforce here, many of whom have the added pressure of fatigue and burn-out from the first wave. In my own surgery we have recruited a retired GP to come back and practise a couple of sessions per-week and we would struggle to maintain services without her help.
“It’s worth reiterating that prior to this pandemic, doctors and frontline health service staff were already working tirelessly to deliver patient care amid chronic staffing gaps and years of underinvestment. Without complaint they led from the front to take on this pandemic and now they find themselves exhausted, at the start of a second wave and with the busy winter period still yet to kick-in. They need as much support as possible for what lies ahead.”