Blog: Protecting our NHS

The Covid 19 pandemic has placed Suffolk and our country in an unprecedented and extremely serious position. The tragic loss of life across society brings heartbreak and worry to many of our fellow citizens.
This dreadful virus appears able to attack anyone at any time, as demonstrated by our Prime Minister having to be admitted into intensive care due to the gravity of his condition. I’m sure all of us wish him and everyone else afflicted by this awful disease a speedy recovery. For those who have lost loved ones I can only express my heartfelt sympathy and pray that in time you are able to come to terms with your terrible loss.
There are though during these times of darkness, some incredible acts of kindness, generosity and dedication. It must be distressing for those health staff working around the clock to care for seriously ill people and do whatever they can to preserve life. How they cope I really don’t know but they all deserve our heartfelt thanks and support. The armies of volunteers helping those in isolation or in vulnerable circumstances are also wonderful people. Many businesses large and small are changing their routines and adapting their work practises to help fight this global challenge. I’ve also heard how some schools are helping design and produce personal protective equipment for front-line workers.
For me, this positive attitude provides some crumbs of comfort and some cause for cautious optimism. With all sections of society working together, I believe, we will be victorious in this “battle” against the Coronavirus as we have a common purpose. As Her Majesty The Queen said in her moving address recently, “We will meet again,” – these and her other comments were exactly what we all need to lift our spirits.
The government-imposed lockdown is a unique experience for us all – I have never known anything like it, and it is so pleasing to know the vast majority of Suffolk people are doing as they are asked. During my frequent discussions with the Chief Constable, the level of reports of individuals flouting the rules has reduced – which is very good news but we need to keep it that way to keep ourselves safe and reduce the pressure on our NHS. Sadly, some are seeing the lockdown as an opportunity to carry on their criminal activities – burglary, scams and fraud are still taking place and the perpetrators must still be pursued and brought to justice.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in Suffolk Constabulary for what they are doing to keep us safe in very difficult circumstances. The number of positive messages and letters of thanks are greatly appreciated – it does do wonders for maintaining morale.
I don’t know when this crisis will end, but already thoughts are turning towards recovery programmes. The greatest concern following the improvement in public health must be the state of the economy. Whilst the Chancellor has committed enormous sums of money to help, I am deeply concerned that unemployment levels might rise significantly. The likelihood is that it will be the young, unskilled and those on low incomes who will suffer most. We must get the economy going again and quickly. I believe there is need for a kind of local Marshall Plan that was launched after the last world war to help rebuild the shattered economies of Europe. There is already an economic recovery group established in Suffolk involving the private sector and public bodies and I and the other public sector leaders are ready to play our part in this vital initiative.
I have always said positive thinking and looking forward with optimism can work wonders. I know you will all do what you can to help each other and comfort those in distress or who are bereaved, and, when we escape from this darkness we will rebuild our future in Suffolk together.
In the meantime, please heed the government instruction – “Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.” I hope you, your families and loved ones stay safe and well.

Published in the East Anglian Daily Times    April 2020