Dr Stephen Parker, St Mary’s medical director, says the Island NHS is facing a ‘perfect storm’ (CP online, 17-12-21). He is not wrong.

There are a number of questions that require honest answers. Why are we facing a ‘perfect storm’? How did we get here?

Perhaps most importantly, two years into this pandemic, what has the IW NHS Trust been doing in response to this highly infectious and disruptive virus that is clearly not going away any time soon?

Why are we facing a ‘perfect storm’? Well, after over a decade of cuts to our NHS, resulting in fewer beds, fewer nurses, fewer doctors, along with lengthier and lengthier waiting times for many medical treatments, we ended up with a health service on life support long before any pandemic came along.

Covid-19 saw government spend millions hurriedly converting exhibition centres into makeshift temporary Nightingale hospitals only to then discover there weren’t enough trained staff to resource them.

Two years on NHS hospitals are once again scrambling to find additional bed space in response to rising Omicron infection rates.

This seemingly perpetual cycle of crisis management is not a credible way of running a National Health Service. NHS staff and patients frankly deserve much better.

In 2019, pre-dating the pandemic, our IW NHS Trust was awarded £48m to improve services and buildings.

So has the trust revisited and reassessed its initial proposals to consider whether, or not, they need tweaking given our new Covid reality, or is it simply locked into blindly pursuing its pre-pandemic plans?

To be fair, St Mary’s has done a huge amount of work reorganising and restructuring in order to keep its services as Covid safe as possible, but there is a limit to what can be achieved.

Such initiatives are inevitably constrained by the physicality of a hospital's built environment.

If one looks at St Mary’s North hospital, much of it exists within a matrix of narrow corridors and tiny rooms.

Opening a few windows might help, but really it’s a perfect spacial environment for this new highly infectious strain of Covid, Omicron, to spread.

The ‘perfect storm’ worry must be, how will St Mary’s maintained many of its services if numerous members of staff become infected and have to self-isolate?

St Mary’s has plans for a new A&E floor as part of its £48m legacy, but where are the plans to replace parts of its ageing estate? Frankly, I don’t see any.

What I do see however are new words and phrases creeping into the medical lexicon, phrases like ‘sustainable services’, which translated often means finding others to deliver medical services in order to make financial savings.

What’s needed now is a new invigorated IW NHS Trust executive with the nous, vision and energy to imaginatively equip our hospital with flexible systems that allow it to adapt and creative respond to future needs.

Dishing out well-meaning platitudes before playing catch up will simply no longer do.

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