January 3 2021

The controversy over opening or closing the schools continues. I suspect that the situation is under review again right now. Reading between the lines, the PM is saying he is not ruling out more restrictions. We may well see an announcement tomorrow about this. No one wants to do this but there is now little option. We cannot yet immunise the teachers and they all feel too much at risk, with many threatening to refuse to work. That is a recipe for chaos that cannot be allowed to happen.

Tony Blair considers closing schools a disaster for children but he went on to say he did not see a way to keep them open. He would like to see the UK doing 5 million vaccines a week, at the moment the plan for 2 million seems difficult to achieve.

In India two locally made vaccines now have emergency approval for use. The powers that be plan to immunise the whole vast country by August. They have 80 million doses ready now. They have trained 96,000 vaccinators to achieve this.

Jonathan Van Tam is always popular with his simple easy to follow explanations. He has been explaining why it is better to give every one the first jab, before trying to give the second. He says if you have two elderly grand-parents, and only two doses available at present it is better to give them both one jab which would protect them both up to 89% rather than give one both and achieve 95% protection but the other none at all. Just check the maths, it’s a much better course of action to give everybody one jab at first.

Derbyshire police have strongly criticised many motorists who drove to the top of Snake Pass in Derbyshire in heavy snow so they could exercise, only to get stuck in snow drifts. Police with snow ploughs had to be called to rescue them. This is yet another appalling lack of common sense and selfishness. The PM will not hesitate to make the rules tougher and ban any exercise more than 5 miles from home in an attempt to protect the beauty spots and beaches from large crowds.

The Scottish Parliament is set to be recalled tomorrow when Nicola Sturgeon is widely expected to tighten their rules still further.

Even Sir Keir Starmer has demanded a National Lockdown within 24 hours. It unusual for him to make any proactive proposals.

With the situation so critical in our hospitals I find it incredible that no official statistics about hospital occupancy and capacity have been officially issued for nearly 2 weeks.

Today is the last day of this long holiday period. Let’s hope that is put right tomorrow.

We still do not know the number of tests done in the last 24 hours but 54,990 were reported positive, this is the sixth consecutive day the figure is over 50k. the rate of positive cases is rising and is now 450.6 per 100k, that is a 48% rise in the last 7 day rolling average. The rate of deaths is also high at 5.5/100k.

These results are totally predictable and as I have previously stated several times, the effects of the latest restrictions will not be seen for a while yet. We must now certainly stop travelling for exercise and consider curfews.

The Daily Mirror reports there are plans to move critical patients hundreds of miles for safer treatment. Most if not all the hospitals in London have reached their surge capacity and the Royal London are practising disaster medicine. I understand contingency plans are being considered to look at the feasibility of hospital trains running from London to the provinces carrying casualties. I remember reviewing these plans during the cold war. If say a one megaton bomb was to hit central London, knocking out all the central London hospitals and thousands of injured casualties, trains would be used to convey them to the provinces. Fortunately, that scenario, although planned for never happened. I took part in a feasibility study to evacuate casualties from a major air crash at Heathrow, bringing casualties into central London at Earls Court by underground, before taking them to central London Hospitals. The exercise was a great success, it was done with mock casualties on a train that ran live on the system. I remember many incredulous faces as we ran slowly through stations without stopping. Again, fortunately we have never had to do this but the plans are ready should the need arise. Hospital trains were extensively used in WW1 bringing casualties from Dover and other ports to London. One such train ran from my local port in Boston up to London. It was done successfully and I am sure could be considered if necessary. Remember there are 5,000 more people in hospital today compared with Christmas day. That’s the equivalent of 12 full hospitals. Cyprus has 12 new cases of the British variant of Covid 19, all in people travelling from the UK.

I am pleased to hear Matt Hancock is reported to have demanded that the stupid red tape is that is stopping retired doctors being approved to administer the new vaccine is removed at once. We have been asked to provide up to 21 different bits of paper with evidence of our competence before our approval. If the GMC can restore us to the register and give us a licence to practice the NHS should accept this and not demand evidence that we have done diversity training among other bizarre requirements. Many doctors and dentists, including me, have just given up trying to clear the hoops. I understand this is being overseen by an outside company that clearly do not understand what a GP does.

It’s still tough out there, it is going to continue to get worse before it gets better. I hope to provoke open and honest discussion. Stay kind to one another and look out for one another. Remember the basics are still the most important and to stay indoors as much as possible. If you have found something interesting to study on line or learning a new hobby, experimenting with cooking new meals, do share it with us or anything else that might help others.

Just stay safe everyone.

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