December 26, 2020 10.11 am This story is over 9 months old

Reflections 2020: Dr Caroline Johnson – The promise of spring

Paying tribute to those who rose to the challenge

By Sleaford and North Hykeham MP

This has been an incredibly difficult year. The disruption caused by the pandemic has touched every corner of society and I sympathize with all those who have experienced hardship during the last nine months.

After the first national lockdown was announced at the end of March I swapped the House of Commons for Peterborough hospital, putting in extra shifts to support my NHS colleagues through my work as a Consultant Paediatrician. Working on the frontlines, it was amazing to see everyone coming together, from the doctors to the hospital porters, working night and day to tackle the virus head on.

The selfless professionalism and sacrifice shown by key workers during this time has been truly exceptional. While our NHS workers have been saving lives, we have seen people from all walks of life step up to keep the country running, from supermarket workers to delivery drivers, and we all owe a great debt to them.

For those able to do their jobs from home we have seen a transformation in the world of work. Parliament has not been unaffected by this and we have seen an incredible meeting of technology and tradition, from virtual PMQs to Committee Meetings over Zoom. There have been a number of hiccups along the way but it has been crucial that parliamentary business continued over this time and the correct mechanisms remained in place for parliamentary oversight. Through Zoom I have been able to be an active member of the Education Committee, pressing the Government on how to best support pupils whose education has been severely disrupted this year.

While working from home has been challenging it’s also provided opportunities. Without commuting there’s been more time to spend at home with loved ones. Many have reconnected with nature in their local areas, enjoying long walks within the beautiful countryside we are lucky to call home in Lincolnshire. There has been ample time to complete much delayed home improvement projects, and judging by the long lines at garden centres many have taken the opportunity to spruce up their home environment.

Throughout this crisis the Government has had to walk a difficult tightrope between preserving life whilst protecting the economy. Finding the correct balance has been incredibly difficult and after nearly a year of restrictions, I recognise the frustrations felt by many that the measures in place have gone on for too long. While the tough decisions the Government took ensured we did not lose control of the virus and stopped the NHS from being overwhelmed, there has been huge disruption to the economy and our normal way of life.

Thankfully with the announcement of a vaccine being approved the end is now in sight. Following a nationwide vaccination campaign, and with more vaccines in development, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and a time beyond lockdowns, restrictions and social distancing. By spring next year we can hope for a return to a way of life as close to normal as possible.

There is still a long road ahead, but this a momentous step forward. As we begin our economic recovery it is imperative that the Government’s levelling up agenda is at the forefront of efforts, ensuring rural areas such as Lincolnshire get their fair share of investment. The £110 million promised to complete the ring road around Lincoln is a good start and I look forward to working with the Government to get the economy up and running again. Next year promises to be better than the last and I wish you all the best for the New Year.

If 2020 were a brand, what would its tag line be?

I get locked down, but I get up again

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Dr Caroline Johnson is the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham.