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I feel that Dr Helen Salisbury is uncharacteristically wrong to use absolute death rates as a measure of how the pandemic has been mismanaged, and to ascribe blame only to the government.
If, instead of actual deaths from Covid 19, we look at the extent of suffering caused by the virus and by the lockdown, the list is endless: bereavements in which families were not able to say goodbye, socially distanced funerals, delays in diagnosis and presentation of many serious and sometimes fatal illnesses, a shattered economy, families barely able to afford to eat, escalating domestic violence and abuse, to name but a few.
Whereas death has always happened and will always happen to all of us, these secondary sufferings were not inevitable and some could have been avoided.
Over the past 30 years, some parts of the medical profession have been so focused on keeping people alive, that we have sometimes lost sight of the importance of the quality of those lives. We could have done much more to be open with our patients in discussions about death. There have been attempts made, including the excellent work of Atul Gawande, but what has become clear in this pandemic is that many people have not thought about their own or their loved ones’ mortality. Doctors must take some responsibility for this.
If our society starts to discuss death openly and accept it as an inevitable part of life, then in future pandemics, perhaps governments can make more balanced decisions about who and what should be ‘locked down’ and who can carry on normally. The overall suffering may then be far less, even if the death rates are the same or more. Death is not ALWAYS a tragedy. It IS always an inevitability.