A Covid Christmas and the price of life | Letters

I read with interest the letter (20 November) from a consultant neurosurgeon as I recovered from neurosurgery at Salford Royal hospital, which was undertaken on 8 November. I noticed that many of the staff who treated me probably missed Diwali, which seemed to go unremarked. They had frameworks of support in place but there was an increasing toll on them from increased safety measures, their domestic lives complicated by school closures and support issues.

As a retired clinical psychologist, I could see firsthand the trauma of patients going through frightening interventions without physical family support, and seeing patients die around them in some cases. This had a knock-on impact on the teams supporting them. I felt humbled at the love and care shown to me, almost without exception. I also felt angry at the grudging attitude to staff pay by the government for people who have given so much.
Dr Hazel Chipchase
Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire

• I am concerned about the idea of putting a price on human lives in the cost-benefit analyses of restrictions on personal mobility to reduce the spread of Covid-19 (Threat of Tory revolt remains as Johnson to unveil post-lockdown measures for England, 23 November). Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the so-called Covid Recovery Group, mentioned on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “quality-adjusted life years”, a technique used by Nice to balance the cost of individual clinical interventions against the estimated benefits. There have been many debates about its ethics at an individual level, and it has never been used at the population level. Any outcome will depend on the exact rules, compliance, how they are communicated, and how they are enforced, none of which have been consistent so far. By their very nature they will discriminate against socially disadvantaged communities. Is this another example of the Tories misusing science and statistics?
Dr Michael Peel

• Although it hasn’t yet been confirmed, it would appear the government is considering a five-day relaxation from 24-28 December for people to meet family and friends (Matt Hancock hoping to allow Christmas gatherings ‘UK-wide’ despite Covid warnings, 20 November). Scientists have suggested that the consequence may be a 25-day lockdown. What the government seems to be overlooking is that in many parts of the UK, the new year is also a significant time for families and friends to celebrate. If five days is the limit, surely Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day along with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day would be a better arrangement?

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If the government doesn’t think this through there is little doubt that rules will be broken en masse around the new year, which will inevitably lead to more virus spreading. My fear is that the government will plough ahead with its own not-so-bright idea in the full knowledge of the consequences of people ignoring any new year’s lockdown – another case of misplaced pride putting more people’s health at risk.
John Yates
Warrington, Cheshire

• If it is agreed to allow large family gatherings over the Christmas period, with all the risks of further spreading of the virus, I am willing to promise to stay at home on my own in exchange for a big government-supplied cardboard box of Christmas goodies of Harrods-hamper standard.
Ron Brewer
Old Buckenham, Norfolk


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