Hampshire Chronicle: Flick Drummond MP's Letter from Westminster
I SUSPECT that you are all as frustrated as I am with being stuck inside in this lovely weather, but it is making a difference to keep this highly contagious virus under control.
We are fortunate (at the time of writing) that we are able to get out to exercise once a day unlike many other countries, so thank you to all those who have been following the restrictions.
I would also like to thank all those who are working so hard to keep us safe and well. Many communities have come together to support our most vulnerable, some of them are on my website so people know where to go for help. It has been incredible that we have mobilised so much in such a short space of time including the Nightingale Hospital in London.
Many people have written to me about testing and why it has not been rolled out quicker. Unlike some other countries such as Germany, we do not have a major diagnostics manufacturing industry and there has been a huge international demand for testing materials, especially chemical reagents. We prioritised the seriously ill patients first so they could be isolated in hospitals at the beginning but now the testing has been ramped up to start testing NHS staff. However, it is also a fact that some tests have proved inaccurate and that it is better to have no test than one that offers a false reading. We cannot put NHS staff back into wards not 100% sure they do not have the disease. That will cost lives. The goal is that anyone who needs a test should have one through a phased approach, starting with patients, then NHS workers and their families, then other critical key workers. Eventually, the wider community will be offered a test.
At the same time, antibody tests able to deliver a result in 20 minutes are being designed to detect if people have had the virus and are now immune – a real game changer as it will help people go back to work. One of the areas that we will be concentrating on after the crisis, is to build up our diagnostic capability to ensure we have the variety and number of tests we need for Covid-19 and beyond. I hope that businesses in the Meon Valley will be part of this and it has been great to see so many businesses offering their help with ventilators, PPE, testing and even cleaning out ambulances. I have directed all these offers to the Cabinet Office which is acting as the coordinating body.
We still have a vital part to play in staying home to protect the NHS and save lives. Like many of you who have family working in the NHS, my daughter is a doctor working in Intensive Care Unit in a London hospital where they have had to expand the number of beds for Covid-19 patients so I hear the stories from the front line. So, please continue to go out only once for exercise close to home, only shop for essential supplies; work at home unless you absolutely cannot and keep to two metres or 6ft apart when out to save our NHS from being overwhelmed.
The UK has not reached the peak of the epidemic yet. Everyone abiding by the instructions will save countless lives. I look forward to getting out and about as soon as we are allowed.
Flick Drummond MP