Section: Health

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Between Two Worlds

Doro Williamson

Doro Williamson is 11, and lives with her parents on the southern edge of Dartmoor, Devon, UK. This poem was written while schooling at home, as part of her English work, assigned by her year 6 teacher after looking at alliteration and juxtaposition. Between Two Worlds The liminal lockdown kept us at homeFraying our tempers […]

Sunshine smile and soul food from Syria

Anthea Simmons

“I say to fellow immigrants ‘put in to this country. Do not take out. Put in.’” Khaled Wakkaa has been living in Exeter since March 2017, when he arrived from war-torn Syria and years in refugee camps in Lebanon, with his wife Dalal and young daughter Lemar (now joined by a little sister born in […]

Vaccine ‘wars’? What on earth is going on?

Sadie Parker
globe, syringes like missiles doing battle

“EU vaccine war explodes,” screamed the Daily Mail in its first edition. Then hours later its headline had changed to “EU Jabs Climbdown” as it accused the EU of performing a ‘screeching U-turn’. Wait. What? There had been a war and it was all over eight hours later? What on earth was going on? It […]

Misinformation costs lives, David Warburton. Spread facts, not fiction

Emma Monk

On 8 January, MP for Somerton and Frome David Warburton gave an interview to the Somerset County Gazette containing a great deal of misinformation. Short of a small link to a fact-checking website in the middle of the article, his views were printed uncontested. Is it right for an MP to be given a platform […]

Teignmouth Hospital: the trail of failure and betrayal just got longer

Editor-in-chief

Scrutiny – not a word that this government either likes or, being charitable, understands. Scrutiny. It’s essential for a healthy society. It is essential if citizens are to have any trust in their public servants and institutions. Scrutiny, trust and truth have all been damaged in the course of the past few years and their […]

100,000 dead. “We truly did everything we could”. REALLY?

Femi Oluwole

With 100,000 Covid deaths, Journalists better mention that Boris Johnson: Feb 2020 Said he wanted UK to have the loosest reaction to Coronavirus. Skipped 5 Cobra Meetings. March 2020 Told people to shake hands Allowed mass crowds May 2020 Denied the Stay Home order existed to save Cummings Seriously!? This was a #DowningStreetBriefing SPECIFICALLY on […]

Pinching pupil premium – the Williamson war on poor kids continues…

Andy Jolley

Short thread on how DfE sneaked out a £250 million cut to school budgets in the middle of a pandemic and how it will impact the poorest and most vulnerable pupils. No publicity, no great public announcement as @educationgovuk cut a quarter of a billion pounds from its Pupil Premium budget. Pupil Premium (PP) is […]

Coping with Covid-19 in a ‘pueblo blanco’

Mike Zollo

I’m afraid I am one of those people who feels ill whenever I am confronted with the jingoistic boastfulness, British exceptionalism and tribalism generated by Brexit.  It is especially sickening to see it amplified in any public statements made by the Government in connection with the pandemic. I have never been willing to be dragged […]

Long Covid kids

Sammie McFarland

A year since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all become armchair experts. It’s hard to remember a time when it was new and we had so little information about what to expect if we were unlucky enough to catch it. A few key messages emerged early in the first lockdown in March. […]

The UK’s drug policy failure. Lessons from Portugal

Paul Delaney

We must consider alternatives to criminalisation and incarceration of people who use drugs, and focus criminal justice efforts on those involved in supply. We should increase the focus on public health, prevention, treatment and care, as well as on economic, social and cultural strategies. –Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General, on World Day Against Drugs, 26 […]

Future prospects blighted by the pandemic – a student writes

Bella Enoizi

The impact of Covid-19 on university students has been overlooked by both government and the media throughout the pandemic. Neither has support been received from the governing bodies of Higher Education institutions, in terms of either policy or financial relief. Where students have been mentioned by the media, it has only been to blame them […]

Debunking Covid-19 myths: part 1 – Covid-19 is NOT a hoax!

Emma Monk

Along with thousands of others, I have watched with increasing anger, sadness and frustration as misinformation has been allowed to spread so freely in the last year, not just on social media but across mainstream media outlets too. I have found myself repeatedly engaging with Covid-19 deniers and lockdown sceptics on social media, trying to […]

Gavin must go; but that’s only the start

Mick Fletcher

No part of this government comes out of the Covid-19 pandemic well, and the staggering death toll is the tragic summation of a whole raft of failures. Probably the most expensive of these failures in terms of financial cost and, more importantly, human life, is ‘Test and Trace’ on which the Department of Health has […]

Something lost to find again

Catrina Davies

Catrina Davies discovered her true self in Europe. In September she left Cornwall for Portugal, from where she reflects on severance, belonging and betrayal. When I was ten my parents took me and my sisters to France for a week. We drove onto the ferry at Plymouth, all squashed into our Citroen AX, disembarked in […]

All eyes are on vaccination, but testing failures must not be forgotten

Sadie Parker

In my own small way, I was caught out by the closing of the borders the weekend before Christmas. Matt Hancock ran around Britain’s TV and radio studios telling stunned presenters and audiences that Covid-19 was “out of control” in London and the South-East. That’s the modern-day equivalent of screaming it from the rooftops. It […]

From Churchill to Asquith – Johnson’s tribute act is no joke

Robert Saunders

Quiz question: of which prime minister was it said, “the P.M. never moves until he is forced, and then it is usually too late”? Answer: H.H. Asquith in World War One. It’s a parallel that tells us something, I think, about Boris Johnson’s current predicament. Asquith was a lifelong Liberal – the last man to […]

The disinformation pandemic

Tom Scott

In the early hours of New Year’s Day, Dr Matthew Lee, a young medic working at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, tweeted a video of the scene that confronted him when he stepped out of the hospital after completing a late shift in A&E. As he described it: “Hundreds of maskless, drunk people in huge […]

Awards part two: some more good people, thankfully!

Anthea Simmons

Most dogged defenders of our food & farming standards: Devon MPs Ben Bradshaw, Luke Pollard and Dorset MP Simon Hoare stand amongst those who braved the government to demand standards be enshrined in law and not on the table in any future trade deals. (Devon MP Neil Parish almost made it into this select group, […]

People of the year part one: the good guys

Anthea Simmons

Humanitarian of the Year: Marcus Rashford. As an example of altruism, generosity of spirit, determination, focus and just plain being right, Rashford has become an icon of hope for the persistence of compassion and kindness in our communities. He tackled and outplayed Johnson at every (U) turn and scored powerful political goals. Visit his website […]

The Potemkin hospitals

Tom Scott

With desperate frontline NHS staff warning that the health service is in immediate danger of being overwhelmed by surging Covid-19 admissions, it appears that the government’s much vaunted Nightingale hospitals were built largely for PR purposes – yet another example of government by vacuous gesture. The news that the government’s flagship Nightingale hospital at London’s […]

A pinprick of hope

Vicky Rosier

It was bright when we drew up outside the Eastway Clinic at Sunday lunchtime. Since I don’t drive and the buses are infrequent, I’d allowed us the privilege of getting a taxi. And, on balance, taking a taxi involving greater proximity to one masked driver probably involves no greater risk than sitting on a bus […]

Case for closure of Teignmouth hospital “not credible”

Editor-in-chief

Press release 20 December 2020 Save Our Hospital Services Case for closure of Teignmouth hospital ‘not credible’ says Devon CC Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee A special Spotlight Review meeting took place on 14 December to consider Devon CCG’s recent consultation on closing services at Teignmouth Hospital. Its report to the CCG states: “Members […]

Box set: a pot pourri of delights

Anthea Simmons

We’re not all about politics, climate change and Covid-19 at West Country Voices. We try to bring you some deliciously diverse fare. Here’s a selection of articles you may have missed. Please enjoy and share!

Masks in supermarkets: am I a man or a mouse?

Tom Scott
Man shopping in supermarket wearing a mask

A couple of days ago I was doing some Christmas shopping at a local supermarket near my home in Cornwall. As I scoured the shelves for stollen (a favourite festive treat in our household), I couldn’t help noticing that quite a few of the other customers were not making any attempt to socially distance, and […]