Many of our charity team lead a double-life, and my multi-faceted one (which also includes being an actor) is as a campaigner for the NHS and other health charities.
That means I spend time a few hours each month on the stroke ward at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, reading and chatting to patients for that lovely good cause, Interact.
Sometimes, I have even been known to sing. But let’s face it, these are seriously ill people doing their rehabilitation and the last thing they need is to feel worse!
The department is the one place that I have found recently where Coronavirus is NOT the only topic in town. That’s a good reminder. While fear and trepidation grip us around this pandemic, other conditions also merit our attention too. From middle aged and even young women and men, to a 92-year-old lady who chided me lovingly for not knowing the words to, “Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire” (a hit for Vera Lynn, apparently) we must do all what we can to protect those who are vulnerable, whatever their physical or indeed mental health condition.
And for the NHS that means on the ward and beyond, with staff EVER vigilant, practising the highest philosophy of hygiene wherever we go.
Education on associated conditions
Amongst the many things I have learned from the patients, is how they have associated conditions to their stroke. Heart attacks, cancer and in the case of one proud biker, recurrent TB.
After a long discussion about Motorhead and Judas Priest, he told me about how the antibiotics used to treat his condition seemed less and less effective.
The first thing my Bowden based buddy promised to do when he is recovered and back in the saddle, is to help Antibiotic Research UK fundraise, so that new medications can be developed, and lives saved. And his memory goes back to being sent to a nursing home for TWO years as a child to beat tuberculosis.
China originated crisis not solely about the virus
Another piece of vital education I gathered recently is from our charity chief executive Professor Colin Garner, who revealed in his blog that half of those who died in Wuhan did so not because of COVID-19, but due to secondary bacterial infections. It was bad enough that these poor souls contracted the virus, but it was probably a lack of effective antibiotics that made them perish. That is pitiful and tragic.
We must do all that we can to find new medications. Recurring urinary tract infections, pneumonia et al shouldn’t be deadly risks. And getting through a serious operation only to then lose your life to a drug-averse bug, well that is just abhorrent.
My chief hope following the outbreak, is that people take a renewed interest in the future of health, including their own, and stop believing that the NHS is simply going to fix them every time something goes wrong.
For the sake of the sick (who will include you one day), raise a little money to support Antibiotic Research UK.
Don’t let those who become the victim of a virus, a heart attack or a stroke, have to suffer more. I mean, they already have to put up with my singing!
To donate to Antibiotic Research UK, go to https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/2680#!/DonationDetails
Peter Gibson looks after the communications and PR for Antibiotic Research UK and also campaigns for children’s heart charity Lagan’s Foundation and Homeless-Friendly, which offers practical health care support for rough sleepers.