Sunday, 17 January 2021

Postal services. Moving patients around. Celebrations in difficult times.

Yesterday or the day before I received a birthday card. This is odd as it’s well over a week until my birthday comes around again. The envelope was covered in stickers of flowers and stars and rainbows and such so that even if I had not recognised the writing I knew who had sent it - an old friend of mine who always decorates envelopes for Christmas and birthday cards in that way. She sent the card early, very early, she explained, because she has been having major problems with postal deliveries. All sorts of magazines and things she has on regular subscription from Germany have been arriving very late indeed. 

I knew this already as she has a good moan about it on social media every time it happens. I had rather dismissed it as being an international delivery problem, almost certainly Brexit related. After all, we had had no problems sending parcels to the southern branch of the family or receiving parcels from them. Most of the stuff we have ordered online recently has arrived in reasonable time, despite the suppliers’ warnings that there might be a delay because of high demand at present. In fact, the only delivery that was seriously delayed was a book ordered from Spain. International deliveries! As I said.

However, I have read recently that Royal Mail has a huge backlog of undelivered parcels and sacks of mail. People have been posting more stuff, especially over the Christmas period, because they can’t visit. There have been staff shortages in sorting offices because of Covid. And the whole process is slowed down because of social distancing in the sorting offices themselves. The net result is a great pile of stuff waiting to be sorted and delivered. Let’s hope there is nothing perishable in there.

My friend added a further reason for posting early: she is only venturing beyond her garden gate once a week, or even less frequently if she can manage it, at the moment, busily avoiding germs. It would be annoying to have got to this point only to succumb to the temptation to do a little extra shopping or a trip to the post box and pick up some nasty germs en route!

Frightening reports are coming out of patients having to be transported away from places where the hospitals are becoming overwhelmed. There are places like the Isle of Wight where they just don’t have the facilities as the hospital is too small for the surge that came after Christmas. They were doing quite nicely before people travelled over to spend Christmas in their holiday homes there. Then there’s the London region where they might at a stretch use the Nightingale hospitals but they simply don’t have the staff to cope with the problem. 

In BBC 2’s Newsnight on Friday, an expert was telling the news reporter that the problem is mainly one of staffing. The major shortage is not beds but medical staff to man (or perhaps that should be woman) the wards.

Thinking back to my days working as a sixth firm tutor, I remember students having difficulty getting onto nursing degree courses because there was a shorage of places. A decision had been taken to reduce training places. We ended up recruiting nurses from other countries. Now we have a shortage. 

I know that in hindsight it is easy to sort out out problems but really ... they did know that we were due a major emergency, a pandemic of some sort! We should have been better prepared. Too late to say that now!

It’s a good job we don’t have a presidential inauguration to organise as well! Over in the USA it doesn’t sound as thought their inauguration is going to be very joyful occasion. Everyone will need to be socially distanced and then there is the major problem of being on the lookout for loonies.  There has already been one case of a gun-toting Trump supporter trying to cheat his way into the area where preparations are taking place. I don’t think Joe Biden is going to have an easy or straightforward ride. Interesting times!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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