NHS deserves better

Dear Editor,

Like many of you I have been appalled by the demands placed on the NHS by the second wave of the pandemic. It does not make happy news. For the benefit of Covid deniers, the second wave is real and more people are dying, though treatment regimes and survival rates have improved. Two things struck me. The first was the age of those hospitalised is much younger. The second is the sheer exhaustion both physical and psychological of staff with a steady attrition in personnel. The pandemic for its part takes few prisoners. Dealing with civilian death at a greater rate than the Second World War, whilst facing a staggering decrease in both ordinary and emergency work is a draining experience. Whether they are care workers in nursing homes or doctors and nurses in hospitals, they all understand the negative impact on their clients and patients. Quality of life issues are not being addressed.

My heart goes out to all the medical and care workers. Sympathy, which the government appears to have in abundance, is not good enough. Many of us have argued that the NHS and care sector needs to be properly resourced. The news often reports on the numbers of critical care beds that have been filled. Whilst the US has 34 per 100,000 population and the Germans 29, the UK has less than 7. Both the French and Italians have about double our capacity. These beds and supporting staffs give other health systems much greater resilience.

Too long in this country we have been reliant on makeshift measures for public infrastructure including the NHS. Proper investment saves lives but also money in the longer term. A pandemic was high up on the national security agenda, yet we were singularly unprepared. As one of the primary functions of government is the security of its citizens, I do wonder whether we have the balance right. Demand better from our government.

Cllr Luigi Gregori,

Charlton Road, Andover

Housing Scandal

Dear Editor,

We read in your paper of the sad plight of families homeless and waiting desperately to be offered some kind of housing within Test Valley.

We have, in Barton Stacey, a two-bedroom bungalow (ASTER property) vacant since October 2019 - is there a sensible reason why this situation exists while so many families are desperate to find a home?

R. Sylvester,

Kings Elms, Barton Stacey

Scouting in Andover

Dear Editor,

Scouting in lockdown has bought many challenges for our Leaders, all our Groups are having virtual meetings with our Young People. These meetings are proving very popular and for many of the young people the high light of the week. I am sure that this is helping them get through this latest lockdown.

We are still seeing young people wanting to join and have a number of spaces. At the same time we are actively seeking adults, aged 18 or over, to join us in bringing Scouting to even more young people. I was heartened last week to receive an email from a parent who quoted “the enthusiasm of the leaders is amazing”

The Scout Association is during January, conducting a Census of our young members, may I request if your child is not active in joining the meetings, that when contacted by your child’s leader to find out if they are still wanting to be involved in Scouting, that you reply. If you do need financial support in paying the membership cost, please let the leader know as I am sure something can be worked out.

At the time of writing this, we do not know when the restrictions on meeting face to face will be lifted. Our next District event was due to be the Parade and Celebrating St George’s Day at the end of April. If it fails to happen we will be holding a parade and some form of celebration somewhere in the town when it is safe to do so.

Can I make a request through this update, if anyone can help us to find a building near the town to enable us to run meetings when we are back to face to face meetings could they let me know.

Stay safe and well everyone

Julian Slade,

District Commissioner Andover Scouts

Dry January success

Dear Editor

Back in December we estimated that 6.5 million people would be taking part in Dry January – then on 4 January the third national lockdown was announced, and almost immediately we began to see people saying that Dry January was ‘cancelled’.

Yet what we saw, in fact, was a further surge in people downloading the official app, Try Dry. Downloads this year have been a huge 35% higher than last.

Research has shown that 7 in 10 people who do Dry January with our support are still drinking less six months later. So whether you used Dry January to bust lockdown drinking habits, kickstart cutting down, or test out going alcohol-free longer-term, 1 February isn’t the end – it’s the start of healthier, happier drinking habits year-round.

The Alcohol Change UK website offers information and advice for managing your drinking all year round.

Dr Richard Piper,

CE of Alcohol Change UK, the charity behind Dry January

Tough for cancer patients

Dear Editor,

This is the most worrying time in recent history to get a cancer diagnosis.

At Macmillan Cancer Support, people calling us every day tell us about their heightened anxiety, loneliness and distress.

Open every day on 0808 808 00 00, our Support Line has specially trained nurses, counsellors and financial support advisors to help anyone affected by, or worried about, cancer. They can provide comprehensive information and advice, as well as emotional support, to help people with cancer cope with the additional strain of the coronavirus pandemic.

Healthcare professionals are doing everything they can to make hospitals a safe environment, so it’s really important people with cancer who have been invited for tests or treatment do attend. GPs are open if you are worried about possible cancer symptoms, and screening and other vital tests have resumed in a Covid-safe way. The NHS is still here for you.

As well as our Support Line, comprehensive cancer information and support is also available at www.macmillan.org.uk and our online community provides invaluable emotional and peer support.

We are doing whatever it takes to make sure our vital support continues to be available.

Christopher Scally,

Senior Partnership Manager, Macmillan Cancer Support

Staff ‘an asset’ to store

Dear Editor,

Very friendly helpful staff that worked at Sainsbury’s, from speaking to some of them not all of them were able to stay with the company unfortunately.

Real shame as they really were an asset to Sainsbury’s.

Good luck to them all in the future!

Nicola Ann Lucker, via Facebook