News   |    July 21st, 2021


The Government and media focus is almost entirely on Covid and I am sure the public perception is that more people are dying from Covid each day than other illnesses.

The statistics paint a somewhat different picture. In September 2020, there were 39,827 deaths registered in England, 2,568 deaths more than the five-year average (2015 to 2019) for the same month. The leading cause of death was Dementia and Alzheimer’s (accounting for 11.2% of all deaths). Covid did not feature in the Top 10 leading causes of death and in fact it was the 19th most common cause of death. In January to September 2020, Covid was the underlying cause of death in 11.5% of all deaths that occurred in England (46,501 deaths).

I have had cause to use The NHS on a couple of occasions in 2020 and there is little doubt that with GP surgeries not allowing patients in, appointments being delayed and with the focus at hospitals being on Covid, that investigations and operations for say cancer and heart conditions have been delayed.

With the brilliant recent news about a vaccine, we can see the start of a process that will hopefully see Covid become less of an issue as 2021 progresses, but The NHS still faces severe pressures around the roll out of the vaccine. This in itself will cause even more delays in the cancer and heart fields and as a society we have to question if that is fair. Of those people dying with Covid only 5% don’t have underlying health conditions but of course in a perfect world you want everyone to be given the best possible treatment. Many of the charities that normally support the most vulnerable in society are facing closure and may never be replaced.

The hidden issue in what is currently happening is the growing mental health crisis. The second lockdown will end next week on 2nd December with a return to the regional tiered approach that applied previously but with tighter regulations.

Sport plays a major role in the health and well-being of the nation and we have to find a way to fully re-introduce sporting activity. A recent study found that a fifth of schoolchildren had done little or no home learning over the last summer term, perhaps because of a lack of access to the internet, laptops or computers at home.

What has now begun to emerge, is a mental health epidemic among our children, which we can’t afford to ignore. The NSPCC recently revealed that calls to ChildLine reached nearly 43,000 between March and October, with counsellors supporting children who were feeling isolated, anxious and insecure after being cut off from their networks of social support such as friends and teachers.

It is these dramatic statistics that should underpin what we do. The Government must fix the problem before it becomes overwhelming. We must find ways to balance the restrictions with solutions that can help preserve the mental health and wellbeing of our youngest and most vulnerable children.

Sport is the obvious solution. Ensuring children receive regular physical education, structured exercise and a means to run around and play during the lockdown provide significant mental health benefits. Sport improves self-confidence, it creates positive relationships amongst peers, it improves moods, it underpins social cohesion in communities and of course it makes everyone stay fit and healthy.

So much sport takes place out in the open so let us keep some perspective with what is happening and not solve one crisis only to create another.

For more information about Integral Sports Management E:

Peter Varney - Chairman

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