A word from the Editor...
Helen Simpson | A word from the Editor...
I’m currently sitting in the garden, fortunate to have some time to pause and draw breath after a tumultuous few months. As life experiences go, I’ve decided I really don’t like living through a pandemic.
For those watching events unfold in the Far East and then Italy, we could see the huge wave that was coronavirus rapidly approaching. By Monday 16 March, we were truly part of the global health emergency. Although advance planning of the NHS left us initially unprepared, NHS hospitals round the country transformed over a number of days, a testament to the dedication and tireless working of our senior leadership teams and all hospital staff, and to the flexibility of the NHS. Early on, the NHS supply chain was unable to deliver PPE and staff were left unprotected. Testing stopped on 12 March and ‘ramping up’ has been a challenge – research institutions ‘repurposed’ themselves, working with NHS institutions to provide capacity, and car parks have been ‘repurposed’ for community testing.
At our hospital, the teams in the ITU and respiratory HDU have borne the brunt, spending many hours in full PPE and seeing the most death. The front line encompasses us all: staff groups such as porters and security teams feature in the roll calls of those who have tragically died. At the time of writing, 35,000 have died in the UK according to government figures, over 60,000 according to those who are analysing the number of excess deaths, many of these being in care homes. The ONS data set shows the highest numbers of deaths in areas of highest socio-economic deprivation and BAME workers.
We are all living with uncertainty, and life has changed for everyone. Hospitals are planning to return to some more usual activity whilst preparing for a second wave. Academics are having to work without their labs, and had grants paused. There is a furious amount of research going on, in particular for drug treatments and for a vaccine. There is a race to publish, a ‘pandemic’ of unreviewed preprints. Those who are not key workers have been in lockdown, confined to home apart from shopping or exercise, ‘Zooming’ for team meetings, home-schooling their children. Our teenagers are prowling around at home rather than at Nando’s, attending virtual school from their beds. Many of us have been ill. Thankfully, whilst I can describe a cytokine surge, it wasn’t so severe I needed hospital. My Amazon pulse oximeter was my best friend for about 10 days.
There is some light, but I can’t see an end, more working towards a ‘new normal’. There has been an emotional toll for many of us, but we have to have hope. I’ve loved working on the wards with the ‘junior’ doctors; in scrubs there are fewer ward-based hierarchies. My friends saw me through scary times. Our post-ITU ward patient is smiling and, importantly, eating! Home is calling him.
Within this Society, there has been a huge amount of work to provide support for our patients and provide COVID-19 resources. We have been working in different ways − remote clinics and virtual meetings – and we have managed to change at pace. Let’s not go back. Together, let’s continue new ways of thinking and working, and shape our new future.
The Editorial Board of The Endocrinologist felt it was inappropriate to expect others to write articles whilst so pressured (contributors − be assured we will return to that issue). Here, instead, is a browse through the archives. We have chosen articles that we thought interesting or which made us smile.
As we all have gone ‘virtual’ for many areas of life, it seemed apt to read Tony Coll musing on acquiring his first iPhone, in prehistoric times. David Oliver writes about caring for an elderly population. Tracey Brown, then as now Director of Sense about Science, wrote in 2003 about managing public debate and the vital role of scientists in communicating with the public – never more relevant. John Newell-Price reminds us how we can learn from every patient that we see (something to hold onto during our virtual clinics). And, like a phoenix from the flames, Hotspur writes for us − a purrrfect summing up of his contributions to endocrinology.
Society news provides an update on many aspects of ‘Team Endocrinology’s’ work during the coronavirus pandemic. Lastly, we say goodbye and thank you to Julie Cragg, who served the Society tirelessly for over 25 years.
I’d also like to thank Eilidh, Lynsey and the editorial team in the office for all their work producing this issue - no easy task when life and advice changes on a daily basis. they have done a great job. I hope you find this issue enjoyable. My overriding desire is that my family, friends and colleagues should keep well. I wish the same to you and your families: stay safe.