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Author: Dr Chris Martin DL

Published: May 05, 2020

This article covers the impact on a number of organisations that I am involved with. I am fortunate enough to be able to carry on my duties from the safety of my home. Many others do not have that luxury and I pay tribute to all essential key workers, (including my pharmacist wife and daughter) who bravely and selflessly go to work every day for the benefit of others.

Pharmaceutical wholesalers play a key role in the distribution of medicines to every dispensing point in the country. Stock replenishment has been exceptional and delivering twice a day has been maintained to ensure patients get their medicines which in turn will ultimately save lives. This is vital, if largely unseen work.

Our other hidden heroes are my community pharmacy colleagues. They have risen to the challenge…and some. Under extremely difficult circumstances, they have remained ‘open for business’ ensuring that the critical supply of medicines to patients continue through the pandemic. Volumes have never been higher and in many circumstances, they are the only port of call in communities for face to face (within safe distancing rules) health and wellbeing advice. Whilst many GP surgeries have closed their doors to undertake virtual consultations (let us hope some of this continues after the crisis), community pharmacy have been a shining beacon in their communities and should also be applauded.

Fundraising for charities have faced a devastating loss of income and although some support has been given by governments, Marie Curie and other providers have had to appeal for emergency fundraising to support essential services. They are on the front line providing much needed support and comfort to dying people and their families, in their homes and in hospices across the UK. At a time of national emergency, the Marie Curie community nursing services are needed more than ever as the NHS is put under greater strain. They all deserve a clap at 8pm on Thursday nights.

So, to a different essential service and the supply of gas and hydrocarbons across the UK. The Port of Milford Haven is the third largest port and the largest energy port in the UK. At any one time they can supply up to 30% of the UK’s gas requirements and has the largest refinery in Europe producing jet fuel, gasoline, diesel, and other products.

Critical pandemic planning has become the norm ensuring we have the right teams in the right place and at the right time to deliver our services. Whilst the Port is busy, demand of hydrocarbons is dropping due to travel restrictions during lockdown. I am pleased to say that Pilotage services continue, bringing in crude oil and LNG gas tankers from around the world. Ferry services to Ireland continue with essential freight on board, trawler fishing continues, and our multimillion-pound regeneration schemes are being risk managed appropriately. We are also working with our tenants to ensure they come through the crisis with a sustainable business model.

To Pembrokeshire College and education of our learners in Pembrokeshire. There has been an amazing mobilisation of e-learning and ‘live’ classroom teaching- including both vocational groups, A-level and GCSE classes. Whilst grades are likely to be awarded on work up to and including 20th March, we continue to encourage learners to engage appropriately to be better prepared to progress next year. Fantastic dedication and enthusiastic support from our leadership team and teachers alike will mean that disruption to our learners will be less than originally expected and provide the right level of support for their chosen career paths.

My fellow Bevan Commissioners and I have been busy too, currently publishing a series of Opinion Pieces. The Bevan Commission plans to gather information reflecting both the positive opportunities and lessons from Covid-19. We are currently using our extensive networks to access views and feedback on a monthly basis over the following 3 months with a view to ensuring these views are not lost as the Covid-19 period continues in a fast-changing environment. This will provide us with a rich source of data to use to inform future actions across Wales.

I thought I would finish off by imagining what the lasting legacy might be. I have been encouraged by the fact that I have probably seen more flexible working, transformation, innovation, resilience and fortitude in the last few weeks than at any time in my career.

Pharmaceutical wholesaling will be recognised as a key valued partner in the supply of medicines across the UK. Community pharmacy will take its rightful seat at the table of primary healthcare and be recognised as a truly valued clinical colleague in the care of patients within their communities.

That Marie Curie is recognised as the thought leader in end of life care. This in turn will ensure that they are a truly valued partner in the delivery of end of life and palliative care, driving innovation and embedding/supporting services across communities.

The port of Milford Haven will be able to invest in its core services, embracing technology and making progress on the two key regeneration projects whilst also being the hub for marine renewal technology across the UK.

Pembrokeshire College will lead the way in Wales by embracing technology, finding new ways of teaching and in turn maximise the learner experience and support them achieving their ambitions in life.

That the Bevan Commission will make a significant contribution to the thinking that will be needed as to how Wales’ health and social care system should operate in a post Covid-19 world.

The overriding theme across all of these areas is that the vital contributions made are truly valued. That strong leadership is acknowledged and supported, that key workers are recognised for the massive contribution they make, and that society becomes more caring, responsible for their actions and find more time for family, friends and neighbours. One thing is for sure, things will never quite be the same again.

Chris Martin is Co-Vice Chair of Bevan Commission, a Non-Exec Advisor Alliance Healthcare, Trustee and Board member Marie Curie UK, Governor Pembrokeshire College and Chair of the Port of Milford Haven.