Starting out as medical students, we were all informed of our duty to public service. Whilst all jobs are valued and appreciated there are some positions and roles that carry a greater sense of responsibility which if compromised, could cause grave harm not just to them or their colleagues and establishment but also to the lives of others.

My job as a doctor is not too dissimilar to the work our politicians do. Granted that a mistake on my part could be fatal, but people rightfully have certain expectations of what my role involves. The core values of my role include honesty, integrity, respect, transparency and above everything else, trust that I will always act in the best interests of others. It can feel immensely pressurising to carry this responsibility but ultimately, I do my job with pride and gratitude to those who trust me with their lives everyday.

This week was the first time I realised that the expectations others have of us doctors is similar to the expectations I have of our leaders. Especially during this pandemic, we have looked up to the leaders of our country to help us fight through this awful period and come out the other side. This is not a political piece because irrespective of where your allegiance is, it’s about trusting that we are being informed of the truth. This week has been disappointing for many including myself to learn that the rules that were being placed upon the public were perhaps not adhered to by the rule makers. If you’ve felt hurt, sad, betrayed, angry and disappointed, know that you are not alone.

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As a parent it is important for me to set rules and boundaries for my kids. I do this to maintain order but also to protect them. It is hard sometimes enforcing rules but the way my kids learn is by watching me live out what I preach. We learn and we all follow best by example. The best leaders who have thrived have been those who have led by example; one rule for all.

This week then we have all been forced to revisit last Christmas. Now just 12 days before the big day, we are finding ourselves reflecting on how different and challenging last Christmas was.

I filled out death certificates in bulk like never before in the run upto Christmas last year. Our ICU departments struggling, people acutely unwell, isolated and lonely…we all followed the rules. People lost loved ones or couldn’t visit their families for Christmas; it was a time we never wanted to ever re-live again.

People have been counting down the days this year for a better Christmas - we sacrificed, we did our bit, now we want to spend the day with those we love. However, to learn that perhaps senior leaders may have broken the rules last Christmas or indulged in some parties and worst of all mock the situation, it’s been really difficult to accept.

My greatest concern right now is that we have a variant of concern rippling through the country. We do not yet know fully how it will impact us but we need to urgently get on top of it, reduce the transmission and keep people well over the next while. The latest news of rule breaking by leaders, I fear, could compromise our efforts.

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We have more restrictions potentially on the horizon but will people listen? How will they trust again? Do you blame them? No.

When we look at our leaders, we expect and demand honesty and a feeling that we are in this together. Leaders “lead” the country. We need to trust them, support them and have belief that they have our best interests at heart. Sadly it doesn’t feel like this right now. I want you to know that however you’re feeling about the current affairs, your feelings are valid.

Last Christmas my husband and I couldn’t see our parents. I got covid and was isolating with my baby who also had covid. My husband was with our son and we had the worst time. We both work on the front line and have continued to see the damage caused by the pandemic on the lives of so many; the frustrations across the board are real.

All I can ask of you all is that the scientists and healthcare professionals are reviewing the data and evidence daily and are urging you to stay cautious and do all you can to look after each other and yourselves. Don’t let anything distract you from that. We are very much still in a pandemic and on the brink of another potential wave. Nonetheless, I am hoping for a better Christmas than the last for us all and though it may seem grim, things can only get better from here.