Ben Gray, QUB Student and part-time NHS worker
It is often the personal stories, behind the daily headlines of Coronavirus statistics , which get lost. Almost one year on since the commencement of the Coronavirus got its grip on the world, it has taken over 2 million lives in its deadly wake.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK surpassed the unfortunate milestone of 100,000 Coronavirus related deaths, within the last week of January 2021, as we approach a full calendar year since the first UK national lockdown.
Whilst this number is staggering and reinforces the severity of the virus, there remains a forgotten section of the population that have become the secondary victims of the pandemic.
On the 7th January 2021, the Belfast Trust announced that they had no other option, as a result of rising COVID concerns, but to cancel Red Flag Cancer Surgeries – where an operation is expected to impact on a person’s recovery and even surviving the disease. This revelation has resulted in a major backlash as worried family members of cancer patients plead with the NHS to reverse this decision.
In the last few weeks, Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Robin Swann, confirmed that capacity in the private healthcare sector, for cancer treatment, had been secured in the Republic of Ireland and in England.
However, this announcement has come as a result of an 80% increase in the number of Covid-19 admissions to hospitals since Christmas Day. This rise certainly suggests that the decision by the NI executive to reduce the Christmas Social Bubble period was a sensible one.
This is one of those issues that people only understand the severity of when they are directly affected by it. Personally, my family and I have been lucky enough to avoid the negative consequences of such cancellations.
Despite this, I became aware of the these issues whilst working in an administrative role for the NHS on two separate occasions during the pandemic, in between semesters studying at Queens University. In this role I have witnessed mass cancellations of clinics prompting me to consider the consequences for these patients.
Despite such cancellations only coming to light in recent weeks, this has been a global issue throughout the pandemic and it is believed that such cancer patients may have suffered or even died in some cases as a result of delayed surgery.
As more and more families are affected by cancelled surgeries the onus is on the general population to be selfless and consider the secondary victims of the pandemic.