Country on verge of a mental health crisis – Dr McDaid

Dr. James McDaid

COVID-19 is a highly contagious viral illness, but it is not a very virulent one and we must ‘learn to live’ with this virus.
That was the heartfelt message delivered this week by former Government Minister and Letterkenny GP Dr James McDaid, in a lengthy letter to An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin.
Dr McDaid said that NPHET, in its current form as an advisor to government, has no further relevance and should be dispatched to a more background role, adding there is no need for us to proceed with such a draconian measure as advised by NPHET last Sunday evening.
“By continuing to follow measures that are currently in place, we will get back to being in control of this virus. I’m sure our people will sacrifice October in order for a safer, happier Christmas. Mistakes were made, we have to pay for those mistakes but we will succeed. The government have difficult decisions to make, unpopular decisions, but necessary none the less and not as draconian as the solutions offered by NPHET,” Dr McDaid said.
To compare Phase 1 to now, the Letterkenny GP noted that we had 3,395 hospital admissions, at this moment it is less than 400. In Phase 1 434 patients required ICU, to date the figure is between 40-50.
“We are by far better informed and more knowledgeable of this virus and thankfully many of our patients who enter hospital are able to be discharged within three to four days.
“Of course there are cases of Covid-19 that present as a more serious condition. Some people do get very seriously ill and they also must be given the full attention of our medical resources. Some younger people also do get ill but ‘thankfully’ the virus is now attacking the younger and fitter under 35 age group who are healing well or experiencing minimal symptoms. To date the death rate is low,” the GP said.
Dr McDaid believes the country is now on the verge of a mental health crisis.
“This no longer just involves the usual people you would expect at a time like this, but now people with young families, teenagers, people who see no future due to unemployment, people being ‘treated’ to a daily dose of NPHET which is grossly lacking in helpful, productive information. This information has to date been selective in its distribution.
“I fully agree that we must pursue the current advice as given in September 2020 but based on all of the figures currently available, it is demonstrated clearly that despite large numbers of people contracting Covid-19, it is seen that the virus does not have a virulent an impact that it had in Phase 1,” he argued.
“We are also pinning our hopes on a vaccine. While there are many trials ongoing at present, I believe there are two main issues with the vaccine. Firstly I would personally be very reluctant to take or recommend the vaccine. I can assure you that I am not a member of the Far Right or the Far Left. I fully agree with the government’s current measures of hand washing, social distancing and face coverings. I have no problem administering the vaccine to patients who seek it.
“However I see the development of the vaccine been similar that of the Olympic 100 metres final, as far as pharmaceutical companies are concerned. As regards Covid-19 the gold medal means billions and billions of dollars. It is safe to say I will not be one of the first 100,000 recipients of this vaccine, especially given that vaccines are usually trialled for approximately seven years before being administered to patients,” he said.
“We have quite a large practice in Donegal but despite the figures a few days ago, we had only one person in hospital at the height of those figures and our advice and suggested treatment as doctors to our patients was to isolate yourselves, drink plenty of fluids and make sure you buy a box of paracetamol on the way home,” he added.
In his letter to An Taoiseach, Dr McDaid warned that people are not going to be able to tolerated lockdown after lockdown.
“Yes, we will have more lockdowns in the future. One suggestion I put forward for discussion is that the proposed further lockdowns exclude younger people. People under 40, perhaps people under 50, who can prove that they are under a certain age and have no chronic illnesses.
“I have been informed by my patients, especially the elderly, that they are watching four to six versions of the news on a daily basis. They have become addicted but they are not being given all the facts. They are scared. They deserve better. We keep telling them and ourselves that we must ‘learn to live’ with this virus. But NPHET has to date given no indication as to how we should proceed along these lines. These are not easy times for you and your partners in government. I thought of contacting you on a number of occasions but I just put it off and off. Last night (Sunday) was the final straw. Believe me I am not alone,” the letter concludes.

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