Walking, NHS staff, pregnancy stress and cats in sunshine

A couple walking in the rain in the City of London.

A couple walking in the rain in the City of London. - Credit: PA

Redesign our streets to encourage walking

Nic Lee, De Beauvoir Road, Hackney, writes:

During the pandemic, people in London have rediscovered the simple act of walking – the oldest, cheapest and greenest transport there is. It has allowed us to stay healthy, happy and connected to those around us.

But lots of us still struggle with narrow, cluttered, uneven pavements; crossings that prioritise cars rather than people; and growing numbers of speeding vehicles.

That’s why I support Living Streets’ Manifesto for Walking - London. It calls for candidates in our mayoral election to pledge to tackle air pollution, transform our streets for people of all ages and abilities, make walking the natural choice for short journeys, and end pedestrian deaths and injuries on our roads.

It is time we redesigned our streets around people not cars. That way we can all continue to enjoy the benefits of walking and healthier, happier communities.


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We must protect brave NHS staff

Dr Gary Marlowe, chair, BMA London Regional Council, writes:

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Frontline doctors have very real concerns about the indirect and long-term impact of the pandemic on their patients’ health and on their own wellbeing.

Owing to more than a decade of underfunding, our NHS went into the pandemic short on staff, short on capacity and short resources.

Doctors and other healthcare workers are tired and exhausted and they must be given adequate time to rest and recuperate to avoid burnout. Many will need timely and ongoing support from psychological and occupational health services which can be a challenge in many areas. We need a commitment from health leaders that we will be given the right support needed to deal with the backlog.

Patients need assuring that the NHS is still open and that they can count on us to provide them with the care and treatment they need but government and local health care providers must be honest with the public about the need for a realistic approach to doing this.

We urgently need our local health leaders to work with frontline staff to lay out their plans for how we can move forwards to protect the welfare of health workers and give patients the life changing and life preserving treatments they need and minimise further deaths due to excessive waits.

How we can help expectant parents

A woman with her husband eight months into her pregnancy.

One-in-five mums and one-in-10 fathers experience mental health concerns during pregnancy and after birth - Credit: PA Images

Margaret Gallagher, head of local campaigns, NSPCC, writes:

As many as one-in-five mums and one-in-10 fathers experience mental health concerns during pregnancy and after birth. In some areas, they are able to access the support they need while in others, they can’t. This could be due to a lack of services, funding, training or staff.

Between July and September 2020 5,175 women in London accessed specialist community perinatal mental services. This is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as many more women are suffering but do not reach the threshold for specialist support, or feel unable to seek help due to stigma.

To ensure new parents receive the help they need during this life-changing time, the NSPCC is urging people to sign up to its Fight for a Fair Start campaign.

The call comes as the UK marks Maternal Mental Health Week, led by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, between 3 and 9 May.

The pandemic has added even more pressure on families due to the anxiety and social isolation it has created.

Now more than ever it is vital no parent or baby is left behind and the services they need are there to support them – regardless of where they live.

Please help by lending your support to this important campaign so we can all give new mums and dads a voice and make them heard.

Pets are at risk from sunlight too

Dr Sarah Elliott BVetMed MANZCVS (Medicine of Cats) MRCVS, central veterinary officer, Cats Protection, writes:

With Sun Awareness Week taking place between May 3 and 9, Cats Protection would like to advise cat owners to be aware of the risks posed to their cat by the sun.

Pale-coloured cats, or those with unpigmented white noses or ears, are particularly at risk from the sun’s rays which can cause sunburn and skin cancer. 

Those affected can suffer long term damage including, in severe cases, having to have their ear tips removed to prevent the cancer from spreading.

Following a few simple tips owners can help protect their cat from the harmful effects of the sun. These include keeping them indoors on sunny days between 10am and 3pm, asking your vet for advice about suitable sunscreen and ensuring you provide plenty of shade to enable your cat to shelter from the sun’s rays.

For more information: Dangers of feline sunburn

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