College of Medicine chair, Dr Michael Dixon, appeared on The Daily Show on the Daily Mail’s mailplus.co.uk site this week to discuss the coronavirus crisis with broadcaster Andrew Pierce.
Dr Dixon called for faster testing of patients suspected of having the virus and praised the general public for offering to volunteer to help the NHS while the pandemic rages.
252,000 people signed up in a single day this week after a request from the NHS for more volunteers, with tasks including delivering food and medicines, driving patients to appointments and phoning people living alone in self-isolation.
The scheme aims to relieve pressure on the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Dixon said of the response: ‘I think it shows British spirit at its best. In fact, in any one year, three quarters of us volunteer so it’s all there in the woodwork waiting to come out.
‘Now that we’ve stopped fighting about loo roll and the likes of it, we’re pulling together and I’m seeing a different spirit all over the country – and this is typical of it.’
Many volunteers will be helping the 1.5 million Britons with underlying health conditions who have been told to stay at home for 12 weeks.
‘They’ll be delivering their prescriptions, befriending people online or by telephone; they’ll also be taking people home from hospital and doing quite a lot of the jobs that the NHS will need volunteers for in the next few weeks,’ said Dr Dixon.
‘I hope my colleagues in the NHS will be tested soon, this is the big gap in the system at the moment. I haven’t been able to test patients or indeed doctors and nurses who come and see me as a GP…’
He added: ‘It’s very nice to see 2.660 doctors, over 6,000 nurses, over 2,500 pharmacists coming out of retirement to help, especially now some NHS workers are in quarantine having caught the virus themselves. It’s a wonderful reflection of the altruism and goodwill that really exists when there’s a crisis.’
Pierce also asked the College chair on his thoughts on testing. Dr Dixon said: ‘I hope my colleagues in the NHS will be tested soon, this is the big gap in the system at the moment. I haven’t been able to test any of my patients or indeed doctors and nurses who come and see me as a GP.
“The problem with this is that we simply don’t know who’s got it and who hasn’t and that’s complicated by the fact that probably over half the patients don’t have any symptoms or signs and many are infectious before they have them. “
‘It’s a very complicated system at the moment and until we can do testing we can’t really get a hang on what’s going on.’
And, he added, that it had taken a while for people to get the message on how serious this pandemic is, but said that now had been filtered through.
‘I think that the government’s plea to stay at home has made the difference and it really had to get to this stage of gravity and understanding to make a difference.
‘Quite frankly, only a few days ago, I was seeing our poor chemist seeing one person at a time while people were pressed up against each other outside and local cafes were full. I think now people have got the point, that this is serious and the only way we’re going to overcome it is if we all take it very seriously, which I think most people are.’