Our Covid strategy was a “moral disgrace”

Last year we took the testimony of NHS workers concerned about the way our NHS was being run during the pandemic, to ensure their opinions could be placed in the public domain. Today we publish the second testimony, this time on mental health.

“I WORK in mental health in England. Last year was the worst by far of my entire career. This was not because of Covid itself but because of the obsessional focus on Covid related risks at the expense of all else. 

I strongly believe the public health interventions we have had to implement have caused severe, avoidable, harm, and that we have enacted by diktat a serious moral failure of state, impacting the most vulnerable people. 

There has been no strategy to mitigate these harms and no voice for those who seek balance. 

For people with severe mental health problems, the pandemic has exacted an unjustifiable toll in terms of missed contact with clinicians, the inability to undertake accurate assessment and meaningful intervention over video, impaired access to justice via the tribunal system operating remotely and, most egregiously of all, impaired access to primary care, when we know that this population has significantly reduced lifespan and higher physical morbidity. 

The willingness of mental health and primary care clinicians to ‘down tools’ with full permission of management has led me to question the fundamental moral grounding of healthcare. 

I have no faith that the harms suffered by people with severe mental illness will be given due witness in a public inquiry. 

In its impact on mental health provision in this country, Covid strategy has been a moral disgrace. I am deeply ashamed to have been part of it.” 

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Anonymity to the NHS staff member has been provided to ensure protection from persecution by employers and campaigners.