Category: Health & Care

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The voice of children on Covid, vaccination and inclusion

Carol Westall

Involve me Talk to me Help me understand These are words I read from the summary slide from the new NICE guidelines for babies, children and young peoples experiencing healthcare. This was developed in consultation with young people. I heard these words in a webinar, Vaccination in Children: Evidence, Ethics, and Equity, given by the […]

“New hospitals”: more spin from the government

Peter Benson

The current government has brought new meaning to the word ‘dishonesty’, as in creating a false illusion that something is real when it clearly is not. In good old-fashioned language it’s a bare faced lie. And as such we need to call it as it is. This has been likened to adding a garden shed to your […]

APPG on Coronavirus: Workforce, well-being and NHS capacity

Carol Westall

The latest APPG Coronavirus oral evidence session on workforce, well-being and NHS capacity was held on Tuesday. Question: how will the NHS survive winter? “The problem is so extreme that up to 70% of the NHS working population are considering a career change over the course of the next 12 months” This was a startling […]

APPG on Coronavirus: vaccinating children, booster jabs and global access

Carol Westall

The session on 10 August, began with questions to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) about the much discussed issue of vaccinating children. On the surface it seems obvious; vaccinate children so they don’t get sick with Covid-19 and vaccinate children so we get closer to the frequently discussed notion of herd immunity. The APPG […]

I’m a smoker

Peter Lathan

I started smoking when I was about 14 (1957 or thereabouts) and I smoked, more or less without interruption, until I was 71. I say “more or less” because I did try to give up on a number occasions – once I lasted four days and then my wife threatened that she would sit on […]

Learning to live with Covid: the pandemic is not over yet

Giuseppe Bignardi

To get close to normality we must accept the pandemic is not over yet For some politicians “learning to live with Covid” is a mantra that means allowing high numbers of infections. However, we may get closer to normality if we accept that we cannot yet return to full normality. In comparison with other countries […]

Covid, mass trauma and regional unity

Connor Lamb

I remember that in the process of writing my diary entries, I had to recall memories recessed in the back of my mind for over a year. We often don’t think of traumatic memories as ‘trauma’. I briefly addressed the concept of mass trauma at the very end of the diary, so now it’s time […]

Travel to Europe is more complicated

Giuseppe Bignardi

The impact of Brexit and Covid As the number of holidays in Europe is increasing, we are coming to terms with the changes brought about by the end of the Brexit transition period and Covid-19. On arrival in Europe, we have to join the non-EU passport queue. One critical change is that British passports are […]

APPG on Coronavirus: heartbreaking for key workers

Carol Westall

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus held an evidence session on Tuesday on the impact on key workers. Four key workers gave compelling and heartbreaking accounts of how Covid -19 was contracted whilst working. Part 1 of the APPG on Coronavirus Layla Moran, the chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, said: “The harrowing evidence […]

Confessions of a student during Covid-19

Connor Lamb

Dear Diary, I never thought I’d be writing to you, trying to wrap up the last 19 months in a bow. I wanted to write an article on mental health and students. Given how difficult it feels, writing it like this might be a nice change of pace. So here goes nothing. February 2020 I […]

Just who are “The People” and who represents them?

Gareth Kearns

Last Wednesday, 21 July 2021, as I Joined with the SODEM team at the regular PMQs protest outside parliament, I was told in unequivocal terms by a Covid-denier that I didn’t represent “The People”. Just what I am to make of that? I’m sorry, “The People”, but I have never made any claim to represent […]

A 3% pay rise is not enough for NHS England

Louise Brown

This week the government offered a 3% pay award for NHS England staff.  I have friends not in the healthcare sector who have been enquiring if this was a good thing because the government has clearly backed down from earlier in the year when 1% was proposed. Let us look at this deal in more […]

Testing positive: a personal reflection

Peter Benson

I tested positive on Tuesday 13 July following a PCR test the previous day. However, I feel like I have dodged a bullet as so far, my symptoms have been relatively mild. I did a lateral flow test on Sunday 11 July just prior to the big England v Italy match and that was negative but I […]


Freedom Day: free to do as I want?

Gareth Kearns

Savid Javid was pinged. We all know what that means, so it was necessary for him to inform recent associates, and it would be necessary for said associates to also isolate. This is a few days before ‘Freedom Day’. These have been the rules for us all. They’re terribly inconvenient, that’s true, but we are […]


Another U-turn: Johnson and Sunak ARE self-isolating

North East Bylines

This morning it was announced that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak would not be self-isolating. Instead they would take part in a pilot scheme to test daily. However, after a somewhat tumultuous morning there has been yet another U-Turn. They will self-isolate after all. This comes after the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid recently tested positive […]

Blood cancer patient’s alarm at relaxation of rules

Carol Westall

Nic tells me, in response to the Government’s relaxation of Covid -19 rules and so called ‘Freedom Day’: “It’s hard to realize that you’re thought so little of in your society. We are dispensable.” Nic has blood cancer. She wrote to her MP: “I am writing to express my extreme concern and dismay at the […]

Lions and diplomacy: Update on Tanzania

Kim Sanderson

As the UK wonders how safe it is to remove restrictions with ‘only’ 52 percent of the country vaccinated, spare a thought for countries where vaccinations are currently very limited and the Delta variant has arrived. For example, I wrote in March about Tanzania, which I called a ‘country of concern’. Since that article, a […]


Freedom Day or a responsibility to protect the vulnerable?

Carol Westall

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus held a live oral evidence session today on the impact the removal of restrictions on 19 July will have on schools, those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, and on the risks posed by long Covid. The ending of restrictions has been dubbed ‘Freedom Day’. In the first […]

Why remove all social distancing and facemasks?

Giuseppe Bignardi

The number of Covid-19 infections has been increasing since the implementation of step 3 of the “roadmap out of lockdown” on 17 May. No other country with high vaccination rates has allowed the infection cases to rise so high. (see Table). The Prime Minister has a direct responsibility Boris Johnson carries a direct responsibility for […]

Happy birthday North East Bylines!

Scott Hunter

One shrewd editorial policy at the outset set the tone which was that, while those involved in setting up the project shared an interest in politics, Bylines was interested in everything. No boundaries were set on the scope of its content. As a result, Bylines publishes a range of material much more diverse than any regional newspaper: poetry, international affairs, profiles of local sporting legends, it’s all in there.

The North East is now England’s Covid-19 hotspot

Carol Westall

This week the Guardian reported that the North East of England is now the nation’s Covid-19 hotspot. Most cases are among the largely unvaccinated under-25s, according to local health leaders. Something weird  Professor Christina Pagel, member on Independent Sage (@chrischirp) tweeted “Something weird is happing in the North East”. She discussed the worrying trend that […]

Why facemasks are a big deal

Richard Henson

I’d like to start with a transcript from a talk, and Q&A, presented by the writer Jay Griffiths, about a month ago. This was on the subject of facemasks. “Here is a facemask. The facemask, I would say, is an emblem of kindness. It doesn’t protect the wearer, but it protects others. It is inherently […]

Betrayal and the Covid Memorial Wall

Peter Benson

There is an old proverb that says trust can take years to earn but only seconds to lose. It is basic component of human character; without it we would not have got this far as a species. And so when it is broken, or lost, or even misplaced, the pain is so great and lasting.

Almost 400,000 people in UK have had long Covid for at least a year

Carol Westall

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed an estimated 385,000 people have experienced long Covid for one year or more. The figures reveal that in total 962,000 people had self-reported long Covid of any duration on 6 June 2021. Of these just 76,000 or 8% were hospitalised when they first caught coronavirus, and […]


NHS demos today: 1% pay rise is an insult

Louise Brown

The government have delivered a huge blow to NHS staff by proposing a 1% pay rise for those working in England next year. This includes a whole array of workers such as nurses, doctors, paramedics, porters, cleaners, physiotherapists and Occupational and Speech and Language therapists. These are the people who have put their lives at risk continuing to work on the frontline over the last year while watching so many of their colleagues become ill or die from Covid-19. Remember they did this during periods when sufficient PPE was not always available and until very recently, without being vac

Warning to Sajid Javid: 4000 long Covid cases a day

Carol Westall

Dr David Strain, who heads up the British Medical Association’s work on long Covid, said that of the 22,000 people diagnosed with coronavirus yesterday, around 4,000 will have symptoms of long Covid in three months’ time. This will have a “huge impact” on the health service. He urged the new Health Secretary to consider long Covid as one of the “key parameters” ahead of lifting lockdown restrictions.

Covid and mental health: the effects Part 3

Carol Westall

Covid and Mental Health hosted by the British Medical Association is concluded here, with the emphasis on mental health, domestic abuse and homelessness. In this article we shall report some of the work being done to analyse and understand the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of citizens, particularly those affected by domestic abuse.

Covid and mental health, a global view Part 2

Carol Westall

Dr Kola works at the WHO centre of psychiatric diseases. Part of her research involves analysing the impact of and response to Covid-19 in low- and middle-income countries, particularly the mental health implications. The virus has spread rapidly in several of these countries, with many not sufficiently prepared to manage the various factors.