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Without GPs we would be in chaos instead of a crisis | Letters

Dr Shaun Meehan proposes a government of national unity to get us through the next few years. Plus letters from Dr Jon Fenton, Nick Nuttgens, Dr Michael Peel, Peter Lowe, Patricia Morgan and Alan Stowell

Can I congratulate Gaby Hinsliff, as she really stood in a GP’s shoes, understood their problems, and suggested a treatment ahead (GPs have become the new fall guys for government failures, 15 October). In fact she behaved as our GPs do now, whether they “see” patients on email, phone, internet video or in person. I spent my last years as a GP running down corridors to see as many patients as possible. I spent my weekends “seeing” them on the internet. I retired to save my life. I am back helping because the Conservative government has so defunded and degraded general practice (intentionally) that without our retired NHS nurses and doctors returning, we would be in chaos instead of a crisis.

My remedy is simple. Lock the politicians in the Commons until they elect between them a government of national unity that can be trusted by all. Learn from mistakes, don’t hide them – that is called criminal negligence. About 160,000 civilians are dead so far – 70,000 civilians died in the second world war. How many more have to die on the altar of Conservative arrogance before the public demands that they resign and form a government of national unity to get us through the next few years?
Dr Shaun Meehan
Formby, Merseyside

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UK ministers face questions over firm linked to suspected Covid test errors

Immensa’s sister company already being investigated and a related US firm sent out used DNA test kits

Ministers are facing questions about the Covid testing company linked to suspected wrong PCR results, as it emerged its sister company in the UK is being investigated over travel testing failures and a related US firm sent out used DNA test kits filled with other customers’ saliva.

Immensa Health Clinic is under scrutiny after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) found at least 43,000 people may have been wrongly given a negative Covid test result, leading to the suspension of operations at its privately run laboratory in Wolverhampton.

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Why Britons are tolerating sky-high Covid rates – and why this may not last

Analysis: as Covid cases reach 40,000 a day, scientists think normalisation is partly to blame for the lack of public reaction

It is one of the conundrums of the current phase of the Covid pandemic: the UK has among the highest number of infections across the world and a death toll that continues to steadily climb, yet the national mood seems sanguine. So is this down to British stoicism, a Keep Calm and Carry on mentality?

Not according to experts. They talk of many factors being at play – and warn it may not last.

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Tory austerity caused misery – and now they want to make it worse | Polly Toynbee

Even though the human cost of a cruel policy has been confirmed, expect another turn of the screw next week

Deaths are what can be counted most easily – bodies can’t be hidden from the statisticians or denied by those responsible for the figures. It was predictable, and predicted, that many more would die when the government of David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg applied a brutal tourniquet to public spending in 2010. Warnings at the time were shrugged off as shroud-waving and scaremongering.

But new research from University of York’s renowned Centre For Health Economics only confirms the inevitable consequence: an extra 57,550 people in England died in the five years from 2010, a level of deaths beyond the statistically normal. Life expectancy improvement slowed, which was directly “attributable to spending constraints in the healthcare and social care sectors”, according to lead researcher Prof Karl Claxton.

Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist

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I was astronomically unlucky to get a rare cancer. Good job I was in a band

Writing and recording an album with my group, the Sweetheart Revue, has been therapeutic and provided precious solace in the aftermath of my diagnosis

On 25 June 2019, it was a glorious sunny day in Glasgow. I spent the morning cheerfully packing suitcases with my wife, Jackie. I was a script writer by trade, and a songwriter with my Americana band the Sweetheart Revue, which had been ambling along for 14 years. For the first time in my precarious freelance career, I had money in the bank, a whole six months of work lined up, and we were flying out the next day for a special-treat holiday in Portugal with the kids. I had never felt so fortunate.

After lunch we walked our loving, neurotic mongrel Pepper by the River Kelvin. That’s when I got the call. I had been having headaches every day since Christmas. My GP couldn’t explain them but was sure it was nothing serious. I finally had a CT brain scan just as the headaches seemed to be subsiding. Oh, the irony, I thought.

The situation’s getting pretty desperate, so it seems

But I’m remaining calm among the ashes of our dreams

They gave me months to a year, I tried to give them right back

Then I did pretty well under a radio attack

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