Blog: A year like no other

When I first started writing a blog in April 2020, the same month I took up my new role as System Clinical Leader for the newly merged Surrey Heartlands CCG, I must admit I didn’t for one minute think we would still be fighting this battle a year later.

I caught Covid myself in March 2020, before we were really aware of the impact it was going to have and the enormous loss of life, upheaval of people's personal and working lives and the worsening impact on our most vulnerable communities. I was more unwell than I have ever been in my life so far and as news started to increase about lives lost and my own colleagues and friends started to become unwell, get admitted to hospitals and intensive care, I realised we needed to swiftly change our footing with this enemy, from one of professional interest to that of a full-blown battle/siege mentality.

I’ve never worked in the Armed Forces, but I can only describe what came next as feeling part of a large army, working together, tirelessly and endlessly to fight the enemy onslaught. And the virus felt like just that, a silent and hidden enemy that struck thoughtlessly and indiscriminately. But we slowly became skilled at spotting the enemy, at fighting it and pushing it back, at protecting our most vulnerable and at keeping the NHS running, no matter what the cost.

Sadly, that cost was significant. We as an NHS and Care family have lost many friends, colleagues, and dear patients. On 23 March, a year on from when the first lockdown began, it will be a time to remember those who died in this pandemic, in this year like no other. To remember that they were someone’s son or daughter, someone’s friend or lover, someone’s parent or carer and our colleagues. To remember the contribution each and every one of them made in the fight against Covid-19.

As services recover and the country slowly re-enters the outside world, I feel it is essential to take time with colleagues and with family and friends to reflect on the happenings of the past year, to learn from these extraordinary and difficult circumstances and experiences, in order to create a meaningful rather than traumatic narrative.

As part of our reflection, at midday on Tuesday 23 we will collectively pause for a minute's silence to honour those we have lost and the sacrifices made by so many. 

Stay safe


Dr Charlotte Canniff - Clinical Chair, NHS Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group

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