Thursday, 19 March 2020

Mr Johnson

The Right Honourable Boris Johnson MP,
Prime Minister & First Lord of the Treasury,
10, Downing Street,
SW1A 2AA                                                                                               19 March, 2020

Mr Johnson,

I write in a mood beyond anger at Tory policy over the underfunding of the NHS since your party’s policy of austerity came into being. We are not all in it together, despite what Mr Osborne said. A few of your front benchers have little idea how it is to suffer medically under the NHS. Tory underfunding for provision affects my family.  

Now, after years of running down NHS provision there are not enough resources for our population’s needs. I wouldn’t expect any government to prepare for a pandemic but your policy of self-isolation affects me personally.

My husband had investigative surgery last July but had to have a follow-up a few weeks later. Medically, thank goodness, he was cancer-free but came out of surgery still under the after-effects of anaesthetic and covered in blood. Clearly staff had no time for a clean up nor time to explain how to use the catheter strapped to his leg, which he was not expecting as this was not explained to him prior to surgery. He was in a state of shock for three days and nights after surgery and went without sleep during that time.

Since September he, aged 70, has been diagnosed with post-surgery trauma. This led to anxiety-psychosis and depression. If medical staff had had more time prior to and straight after surgery to explain the procedure fully to him he may not have suffered mentally.

Now, just as he is beginning to socialise your government’s anti-corona virus policy states, as he’s aged 70+, that he has to self-isolate. Exactly the WRONG thing for his recovery from psychotic depression.

I quote from Smith, Robinson and Segal (2019).

When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.
You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook.

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Last updated: October 2019, in HelpGuide.

My husband is already medically anxious. The media onslaught and confusing diktats over action re: corona virus distress him and this is setting his recovery back, as will self-isolation. I am his carer and I’m tired and angry. 
Despite my best efforts to help his rehab, with a skeleton mental health team, his progress will now be impeded. I have tried to pay privately for his mental health care but was re-referred to the NHS team. I despair. I would beg you to reconsider the instruction to self-isolate owing to age. He needs to socialise for his mental health. Being stuck indoors for a number of months is a recipe for disaster. 

Please can you rethink your blanket approach towards the over-70s which assumes self-isolation is the solution for their health. In my husband’s case it is not. 

We are not all alike and we are not all in it together.

Yours sincerely,

K N MacP

cc The Right Honourable Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health & Social Care
     The Right Honourable Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath

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