Trish had planned two themes for this week’s column – the NHS and autumn, her favourite season. Sadly, she is currently testing out the NHS services on offer in Musgrove, having been hospitalised with pneumonia as a result of Covid-19, so she asked me to step in for this issue.

Knowing double-vaccinated people who are very poorly with this virus brings it home to us that this isn’t, as I’ve read elsewhere, ‘the pandemic of the unvaccinated’, and I won’t get into the politics of choices around vaccination being made. However, what we can be sure of is that our NHS staff – not just doctors and nurses, but everyone including porters, domestic, catering and ambulance staff – will be putting heart and soul into delivering the best possible care to Trish and all their patients, whether they have covid-related cases or are catching up with the backlog of other conditions. Trish has just messaged me to say that ‘The staff are all angels’. As an ex-registered nurse, I never identified with the ‘angel’ tag for myself, though it’s true that part of the role is to ‘watch over people’. But that might be bathing with dignity an elderly patient, monitoring in ICU, working in theatre, or comforting a relative. It takes special people to work around the clock providing all the services which make such an incredible difference to our society. And there can’t be many who aren’t aware of the pressures this autumnal transition period into winter brings to the nation’s NHS and social carers.

However, in the meantime, a message to your regular columnist: your favourite season awaits you outside the hospital walls. I’ve just watched a squirrel’s stealth raid on fallen hazelnuts and finches swooping onto scarlet cotoneaster berries. There are patchworks of fields shorn of their corn and apple trees offering their bounty (“an apple a day” and all that – or a sneaky cider). There are crinkling, crunching, crimson leaves to kick through. There are rich red sunrises and sunsets to reinvigorate you, warm woollen rugs and hugs and hot chocolates to cosset you, and there can’t be anywhere better in autumn than here in Somerset.

Your column is always full of positivity, so do take a leaf out of your own book, Trish – as you said in your last article, ‘Be kind to yourself’, and get well soon.




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