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In full: GP letter warns Hancock against new Covid lockdown

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Letter to health secretary Matt Hancock, sent 3 October 2020

Dear Mr Hancock,

From the outset, the Chief Medical Officer has spoken of four different categories of harm from the pandemic correctly warning of non-Covid or “indirect” deaths due to pandemic measures and downscaling of healthcare.

Speaking to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on 24th April 2020(1) Prof Whitty also highlighted that “if as a result of economic downturn for prolonged periods deprivation increases, that will have a health effect”.

As a group of expert medical generalists, we urgently wish you to consider non-Covid harms and deaths with equal standing as the reported deaths from Covid.

Restrictions and lockdown have recognised value in pandemic control and we fully supported the first lockdown when little was known about the virus. The position now is transformationally different: after the short, initial lockdown phase, the harms to long term health and wellbeing begin to outweigh the benefits.

Now is a critical pivotal point: we must recognise our duty to do no harm.

We are concerned due to mounting data and real-world experience, that the one-track response threatens more lives and livelihoods than Covid-lives saved.

A total of 30,260 excess deaths have occurred in private homes since March but less than 1 in 10 are due to Covid-19(2).

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The pandemic has resulted in an inflation of acute cardiovascular deaths, most of which did not relate to Covid-19(3).

There is a concerning signal that child suicide death rates in the UK increased during lockdown and amongst those reported after lockdown, restriction to education and other activities, disruption to care and support services, tensions at home and isolation appeared to be contributing factors(4).

The older shielding population with multiple long-term health conditions, (the very group whom restrictions were aimed at protecting) experienced higher levels of depression, anxiety and loneliness compared with those who were not shielding and were more likely to be less physically active than usual(5).

These are but a sample of the myriad harms, both logged and latent, that need to be balanced with ongoing restrictions and infection control.

Covid deaths alone can no longer be used as the unilateral measure of harm. Public health goes beyond deaths and ICU beds.

We do not wish to undermine the seriousness of pandemic management but the wider harm to babies, children, young people and adults of all ages can no longer be ignored.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Ellie Cannon
Dr Phil Hammond
Sir Sam Everington OBE
Dr Rosemary Leonard MBE
Dr Sarah Jarvis MBE
Dr Laurence Buckman
Dr Amir Khan
Dr Philippa Kaye
Dr Ayan Panja
Dr David Mass
Dr Jamie Green
Dr Sharon Raymond
Dr Murray Ellender
Dr Arun Ghosh
Dr Jamie Hynes
Dr Benjamin Bromilow
Dr Hannah Redhouse
Dr Kartik Modha
Dr Priyank Jani
Dr Sonali Kinra
Dr Stephanie de Giorgio
Dr Katie Musgrave
Dr Bintu Fashola
Dr Kenny Livingstone
Dr Martin Brunet
Dr Ehsan Alkizwini
Dr Birgit Curtis
Dr Kevan Ritchie
Dr Annie Lynch
Dr Satpal Singh Shekhawat
Dr Anthony James
Dr Sara Kayat
Dr Darren Simpson
Dr Michael Casey
Dr Bella Smith
Dr Laurence Gerlis
Dr Dan Bernstein
Dr Nicole Howse
Dr Gita Sunthankar
Dr Timothy Sephton
Dr Sandra Fenn
Dr Joanna Rose
Dr Caroline Rance
Dr Trefor Roscoe
Dr Richard Fieldhouse
Dr Catherine Maytum
Dr Yvonne Duthie
Dr Liz Reddy
Dr Adrian Wayne
Dr Nick Alexander
Dr Jamie Wallis
Dr Naomi Beer
Dr Neal Tucker
Dr Naureen Bhatti
Dr Kate Adams
Dr Phil Bennett-Richards
Dr Selvaseelan Selvarajah
Dr Ray Montague
Dr Graham Balin
Dr Salima Tariq
Dr Linda McHugh
Dr Phil Whitaker
Dr Sam Robinson
Dr Marion Mcnab
Dr Anna Cumisky
Dr Kathy Ryan