Standing Together Through It All

Dr John McSorley

27th March 2020

Dear BASHH community

These are quite simply unprecedented times, for the nation, our specialty and each and every one of us as individuals. We have to respond to challenges on a daily basis that we wouldn’t have expected to deal with throughout an entire career. And we are operating in a reality that we know will get more challenging before it gets better, with lives being lost before their time.

We will bear witness to each and every one.

The pressures you are now facing are incredible, but so too has been your response. The pace, professionalism and expertise with which we have mobilised in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak has been genuinely astounding. In the space of a few days we have authored entire new guidance documents and shared with each other the widest range of best practice resources to support our unstinting efforts to maintain access to the highest quality sexual and reproductive health and HIV care for those that need it. All these resources are being made available in ‘real-time’ on the BASHH website (ACCESS HERE).

Working with colleagues within BHIVA, FSRH, NHSE, PHE, LGA and across the public sector we have also led the development of a Government policy submission paper, detailing the urgent support our specialty needs to be able to enact short, medium and long-term contingency measures to keep key service functions going, and to provide essential relief to the wider health system as it responds to the COVID-19 emergency. A key aspect of this has been to request urgent funding for services, including resources to help scale-up existing digital platforms. We expect a response shortly and will share our next steps as they become clearer.

We are also setting up a new BASHH “Group of Elders”, comprising of former BASHH Presidents, Officers and senior leaders from across the system, to act as a sounding board, and a source of calm, wise counsel, direction and advice to all of us. I call on all our current and past colleagues with leadership and mentoring experience to contact BASHH Admin to signal your willingness to help and in what way. I would like to see a virtual network of emotional and practical advice and support across our four nations for what will be a prolonged test of our humanity. This group will become operational in the coming days, with further details to be circulated shortly.

In the meantime, I urge you all to keep communicating with your immediate colleagues and regional leads on your situation, ideally on a daily basis. Set up regular teleconferences, email and WhatsApp groups. In this rapidly evolving landscape we find ourselves, we will only be able to succeed if we work together, both asking for and providing support as we need it, and as we are able to give it.

As we each surely find ourselves questioning our resolve in some dark moment ahead of us these coming days and weeks, I find great comfort in knowing that we are all in this together, and that this too, shall pass.

Each of us is here standing with each other every step of the way. And there is nowhere else we would choose to be. I am glad to count myself as one among you.

John

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