Mercury Article: Weston Hospital debt write-off and looking towards a lockdown-lite

This week saw one big problem solved, but another that kept going. The victory was the hospital, where we’ve finally got Ministers to write off over £57 million of accumulated debts from years of financial problems. It’s the final chapter in a long, long journey of fighting for funding improvements and then agreeing a merger with Bristol Royal Infirmary, and it sets our hospital up for the future by making sure that money which would have been sucked away by debts and interest can now be spent on frontline healthcare and treatments instead

And the problem that’s still going? The coronavirus lockdown, of course. I think we were all expecting it to be extended, to be honest; because the infection wave hasn’t peaked yet. But the good news is that here in the southwest we are less affected than anywhere else in the country. No-one’s quite sure if that’s because we’re better at following the rules than anyone else, or just that it hadn’t got as much of a grip here before the lockdown rules were introduced. Either way, this is the best place to be in Britain right now. 

The problem is, lockdown comes at a price. Domestic violence, mental health and loneliness are all getting worse, jobs are being lost and firms are going bust. We won’t have protected our NHS if the economy is too damaged to pay for it once this is all over. So I’m arguing for new ‘lockdown-lite’ rules that tell us how to go back to work safely, once the infections have peaked, to make life a bit more normal without risking a second wave of cases.  

But in the meantime, we’re all in this for another three-weeks of lockdown. Thank you everybody for looking after each other so well and, in the meantime, stay safe.