Virus most dangerous to elderly and frail – so out-of-depth Tories want to put pensioner doctors and nurses in front line of fight
With nominal health secretary Matt Hancock looking even more out of his depth than his recent Tory predecessors and the NHS on the verge of collapse long before any virus threat, Boris Johnson’s government has come up with the genius idea of recalling retired medical staff to fight coronavirus COVID-19.
The virus is expected to put about one in five sufferers in need of specialised hospital treatment – and to kill around one in fifty. But the elderly and frail are far more at risk.
Fit and healthy doctors and nurses have already died as a result of exposure to the pathogen – so the decision to put ex-NHS pensioners in the front line of the fight is as reckless as it is desperate.
Such a move amounts to a long-overdue admission that the Tories have starved the NHS for the last decade – no matter how many waffling platitudes Boris Johnson or the hapless Hancock spout for the TV cameras.
Worse, the government may wish to introduce emergency powers to force medical retirees to return – the Royal College of GPs has said that it thinks the return should be voluntary, but the government has not agreed to this.
Hancock told Radio5 Live at the weekend that the government had increased the number of beds in special treatment units for those infected – from 15 to 50:
Hancock – amid much stuttering and repetition – went on to claim the government has plans in place to increase to 500 and then 5000 beds. But such numbers are risible, especially given the speed with which the virus is spreading in other countries.
If the Tories have only managed to add 35 beds in the several weeks since the first people exposed to coronavirus arrived in the UK and the outbreak went rampant in multiple countries, then the wait for hundreds more is going to be a very long one.
And in reality, the Tories’ focus is more on maintaining business profits than on saving lives. Hancock tried to fudge the issue, telling his interviewer that the ‘top priority’ was protecting the UK’s people – ‘but also’ minimising disruption to the economy.
As the Times reported, the Tories are still making their minds up what their ‘top priority’ actually is:
Boris Johnson is still ‘weighing up’ whether lives or profits are more important – and in the meantime, he wants to shove pensioners, the most vulnerable to the virus’s worst consequences, into the firing line.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.