NHS was not prepared for the pandemic, says Tower Hamlets doctor

Dr Rita Issa

Despite the easing of the lockdown and drop in numbers of COVID-19 cases, doctors in the NHS remain angry with the Government’s preparedness to tackle the pandemic.

Rita Issa, a GP registrar and academic clinical fellow at the Bromley-by-Bow medical centre for the past two years told Eastlondonlines that the lack of honesty from the Government and an ill-prepared NHS are the reasons why the UK has recorded such a high number of coronavirus deaths and infections.

Issa, 32, who also describes herself as ‘activist’ and is concerned about the health impacts of climate change, said: “What we have seen with the pandemic is how we weren’t prepared for something that we should have been prepared for even in the situation where we couldn’t order in equipment”.

“I think what’s apparent is that the government thought that if something happens then we can just order the equipment we need. But actually, when you are in a global pandemic, everybody wants that equipment,” she added.

Not being able to deliver care, especially during the time of a global pandemic, because of the absence of adequate resources has resulted in a large number of casualties.

Issa said: “We can see a failure in how it’s being managed and the main way in which it has failed for me is lack of honesty from politicians. I think in countries where we have seen honesty from politicians, for example, New Zealand the response has been much better”.

Lack of funding, inadequate masks and PPEs, and shortage of other medical supplies have created room for public scrutiny into the Government’s handling of the crisis.

“When we look at how we have coped and managed in comparison to other countries, clearly, we have made mistakes. Everything from the fact that we were producing PPEs and sending it to the US to Boris Johnson saying, ‘it’s completely fine, I am just shaking people’s hands in hospitals’,” said Issa.

Issa said: “To a certain extent we can’t start to make things better until we acknowledge that there is a problem in the first place. When I say there is a lack of honesty it is because the politicians are coming out and saying, ‘We are doing a fantastic job’. This means we are not intervening in the way that we need to intervene”.

“When I am asking for honesty it means that we need to put our hands up and agree that we haven’t done the best as we could have done and how can we now pull together to make sure that for the next wave or what comes next we can improve our strategy so that not as many people die or get affected in the long run.”

Issa who has herself recovered from Coronavirus said: “I developed symptoms which don’t exactly fit the criteria of corona virus because I didn’t have a temperature and I didn’t have a cough but I was feeling very viral, really knocked out, and had difficulty with breathing”.

“I am glad that I isolated myself and after two weeks I joined back to treat patients.”

Issa emphasised that the lack of medical investment and resources were to blame for weakened medical services and the high number of virus cases among NHS workers.

“I think what we have seen over the past ten years or so, actually even before the pandemic that the investment in the NHS is less than what we need to be able to deliver good care.”

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