A letter to President Trump from an intensive care doctor
Dear Mr President,
As a viral pandemic rages in your country, as it does in mine, I ask you for one simple thing. It is the same thing that intensive care units are now offering to the sickest patients across your country – time.
We use machines in intensive care to give patients time to find out what is wrong, time for them to hopefully get better and sadly time for them to sometimes say goodbye. But one minute of your time could change the world.
I want to fill that time with three simple sentences from the founder of the British National Health System, Nye Bevan. Written under the sweat-filled brow of the Welsh coal industry from where he came, they mean more today than ever.
“This is my truth, tell me yours”
Although politically alternative facts exist, in science and medicine we instead strive for truth. Transparent data, honest answers and brave truths are the only way to cradle real hope that things can get better. The world has shown their truths, please continue to tell us yours.
“The purpose of power is to give it away”
Intensive care can save thousands of lives, yet the true power in this global health threat lies not with doctors but with the people. Simply staying at home, socially distancing and reducing transmission will save far more. So too in politics. Giving your power to the people around you, the experts in truth, the experts in science and the experts in health, is how you too can save millions.
“No society can call itself civilised if the sick are denied through lack of means”
The dust will eventually settle on this period. And then is the time to confront the biggest challenge your country will face; to stand in the mirror and stare back at the future choices in your own healthcare system. Ours is not perfect. Yours is amazing for the rich, can work for the workers but fails the poor. Disease is an illness of the poor, which is what Nye Bevan, all those years ago, was shouting from the top of his lungs. Now is your time to confront his challenge and provide safe healthcare for all.
Thank you for listening, thank you for your time, From an intensive care doctor,
Dr Matt Morgan, Cardiff, UK, @dr_mattmorgan