We are sleepwalking into Covid crisis due to media fatigue: BMA chair Dr Tom Black

Unless the Northern Ireland public take steps to reduce the spread of Covid they could be left without a health service this winter.
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That is the warning issued by chair of the BMA in Northern Ireland Dr Tom Black, who was in support of advice issued by public health officials in the Republic of Ireland for people to return to homeworking.

Dr Black, speaking on this morning’s Good Morning Ulster programme, said that the infection rate was increasing considerably as was the “overwhelming” pressure on the health service.

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He commented: “It’s very clear that if you want to rely on the health service this winter, even for emergency services, that we’re going to be in a very difficult position.

BMA NI chair Dr Tom Black spoke of ‘Covid fatigue’ at media coverage of pressure on the health serviceBMA NI chair Dr Tom Black spoke of ‘Covid fatigue’ at media coverage of pressure on the health service
BMA NI chair Dr Tom Black spoke of ‘Covid fatigue’ at media coverage of pressure on the health service

“I think we’re basically saying to the public, we need your help in reducing the infection otherwise we cannot guarrantee that there will be a health service for you this winter.”

On the subject of a return to working from home, he said: “We’ve had this throughout the pandemic – the balance between the health service and the needs of patients and balancing that against business. I think we’re coming to a point again in the pandemic over the next few months where we’re going to see the primacy of the health care argument.

“If we have a heart attack today we expect an ambulance to turn up very quickly, get us to hospital, get the clot busting drugs and get our stents in.

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“If we can’t guarrantee that to our society for heart attacks or strokes or all the other emergencies that we want the health service for, then I think as a society we owe it to the most vulnerable among us to have a set of restrictions that reduces the infection and takes the pressure off the health service.”

Dr Black said the media was responsble for people’s relaxed attitudes: “I think that to some extent the media has suffered a Covid fatigue, there’s certainly far less reporting of the pressures in the health service.

“I think that we appear to be sleepwalking our way into a crisis and that’s not good enough because if and when this happens, people will turn and say, why didn’t you warn us about this?

“Here I am, warning you about this.”

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Ben Lowry