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A letter from Glasgow, Scotland 7 May 2020

Carrie Purcell

For me, work is as busy as ever. 

I’ve just finished reviewing applications for Wellcome’s Humanities and Social Science funding stream and the Covid-related submissions were fascinating, not least for how quickly social scientific teams can mobilise and produce a proposal. Whether they’re asking the questions we really need answers to, on the other hand, remains to be seen I suppose…

Myself and my abortion research colleagues are doing some swiftly put together data collection on women’s experiences of accessing abortion across the UK during the pandemic, with support from Wellcome (linked to our current Sexuality and Abortion Stigma Study). I think it will be interesting because there are obvious implications regarding a highly time-sensitive and gendered healthcare issue – referrals to abortion services are down nationally, what will that mean for women further down the line? We’ve also seen a long-blocked shift to telemedicine for abortion finally happened, which removes a real barrier to access for many. 

Meanwhile my new project is on hold as it involves training frontline NHS staff and recruiting people living with heart failure. But we’re thinking about opportunities to fully digitise the home self-care programme that the project is due to evaluate. This could potentially make it more accessible for users and health professionals alike, and generate a really useful tool if we have to maintain social distancing longer term. 

So the pandemic is creating restrictions and opportunities for change at the same time, and it will be good to track where that goes. 

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