Analysis comment

This genuine Dept of Health conversation about coronavirus should frighten the nation

This is not a time for the government’s health office to be clueless or ‘winging it’

The Dept of Health’s Victoria Street HQ

This was a genuine conversation between the SKWAWKBOX and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) yesterday. It should frighten us all.

The SKWAWKBOX had called the DHSC media office for information on the government’s ’emergency’ plan to isolate elderly people because of the coronavirus – and, bizarrely, to reduce standards in care homes.

“We’re not giving out any information on that, it will be published when the emergency legislation goes forward”.

“So if it’s emergency legislation, presumably it’s fast – so when will that be?”

We’re not in a position to say at the moment.”

“How can you have emergency plans that will affect people’s liberty and care standards and not at least have a line ready for the media?”

“Have you looked on the website? There’s a whole suite of information there.”

“Does any of it address the government’s plans for the elderly?”


The Tories claim their approach to the pandemic is based on science, yet it appears to be based on ‘winging it’ and hoping nobody would ask for details – and if they do, then sending them to search through a ‘whole suite of information’ that they know doesn’t contain answers to what’s being asked.

More worrying still, questions about the government’s plans to increase the number of NHS ventilators and stocks of a medication said to be effective in treating it have gone unanswered for two days, in spite of a promise of a quick response.

This evasiveness and lack of detail goes right to the top of the department:

The country is in a crisis and being run – or rather not run – by spivs.

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  1. This government – thanks also to the very disappointing support that Labour is providing to it – has ZERO credibility and is not being open with people.

  2. They don’t know their own arses from YOUR elbows.

    Face it, the whole show’s FUBAR.


  3. If we go into lockdown, and self isolate, people will starve and economic activity will collapse. Result is poorer sicker people and we can’t pay for the healthcare we want. It is better to flatten the curve so the NHS can cope. The worry with the Italy and China tactics is the virus will reappear some months after an all clear has been broadcast and the containment process must be repeated although with China it’s unlikely we would get the full story and with Italy there doesn’t seem a great deal of evidence the lock down tactics are working.

    1. According to the economists at the Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies there is no reason for a sovereign country like the UK not to have the healthcare it needs. The UK can issue money to support the economy, health or any infrastructure or national emergency, because we own the bank (Bank of England).

      If you need evidence of this, look to the quantitative easing measures taken by Gordon Brown after the 2008 crash. Money was issued to the banks to bail them out. The resulting austerity was a political choice, Britain could have done both (or do what Iceland did and prosecute the bankers and have QE for the people). When the government need money for a war, where does it come from? They use the deficit to create the money. A small controlled government deficit, run to support the national requirements of health or infrastructure projects, stimulates the private sector making everyone better off. But the Tories with their muddled, ideological, neoliberal thinking can’t get their heads around this concept.

      The Gimms theory is detailed on their website and makes interesting reading for a new perspective on economic thinking. Government economists (including Macron’s government) and advisers are looking at this and are now starting to take it seriously. Neoliberalism has failed the many. Modern Monetary Theory may provide the answer.

      1. The failure of neoliberalism in terms of health systems is vividly illustrated by the current difference between the US and UK in the capability of dealing with Covid-19.

        Despite the predations of the Tories on the NHS, this country is still far better equipped in terms of a coherent framework.

  4. ” It should frighten us all”

    Not unless you’re incredibly naive about government processes *and* the virus, Corporal Skwawkbox.

    It’s what it is, and some things are easy to see and do and are in your control if you don’t get bound up in creating panic:.

    From what I know, the most effective overall strategy will be to delay the spread until higher temperatures begin to have an effect.

    Whether government strategy is the best way to do this is open to question – but closing schools, for instance, isn’t a slam-dunk solution.

    Meanwhile, hand-hygiene and restricting social contact as much as possible doesn’t have to wait on government diktat.

    Robinson has a good point about the leaking of information through media contacts. But this isn’t new.

    Meanwhile, there does indeed seem to be a timetable for emergency legislation, and it’s the content that is important.

    1. The point here is that SB will be among one of many press channels seeking information that could well quell any panic .
      The fact that , here , we have THE Govt body responsible for our Health acting in a obstructive way does nothing to alleviate the inevitable conclusion that most people would arrive at , if faced with such ducking and diving tactics .
      Just the same method as Starmer has been using over his STILL undeclared donors . There maybe nothing wrong but the modus operandi used makes for a breeding ground of fear driven theories.

      Its obvious is it not !

      NO I disagree entirely that ” it is what it is ” , absolutely NOT , the situation “it” in this case is being driven unnecessarily by stupid blind belligerent decisions by Johnson and our other unelected PM Cummings vis a vie Herd Immunity .

      There is still no factual evidence BTW that heat and summer temperatures will throttle this virus , if so why is it in Spain right now with temps approaching our Summer ones , that the virus is rampaging ?
      Plus when , not if , it mutates then temperatures or not , any so called immunity will be irrelevant .

      Johnson and CO will be solely responsible for one almighty national cataclysmic disaster when or if this thing finally settles down.The only positive imo is that many of the old wunts who voted for them will be dead and the youth may just swing it for a Labour Govt in 5 yrs time .

    2. RH…rising temp should have an effect?Yes like here in Cambodia ,a breeding ground for every virus on the planet with its own version of Dengue fever thats unstoppable and others.Do you not realise that low temperature will help Britain and parts of Europe.Really your liking for Tory Speak and parroting the enemy line is increasingly breathtaking, “Corperal”

    3. Hold on it isn’t us the people’s of the UK who own the b of e it’s a Jewish family who hold it with other lesser rich ones hmmm ha ha ha a false one that and like all things once out you can’t stop it the virus just carry on till it’s run its course if we see the likes of the toffs popping off then we now they didn’t start it but let’s see if they do or don’t

  5. Just having a Tory government, especially with Johnson at the head, frightens me, let alone the virus.

    1. Agreed, Jack – but we can’t prevent the former now, after the Party failed to inoculate people against Brexit.

      Meanwhile, we can’r do much to alter the slightly higher mortality risk of Covid-19 (compared with seasonal ‘flu) – but we can hopefully do something to counter the higher transmission rate – which looks like the major issue.

  6. Has for the old ones who voted Tory here in my home town us oldies voted labour whether we likes it or not they voted labour so how come us oldies pointed out nah up north they didn’t like being run roughshod over they didn’t like stammer and co that’s whot culled labour but biting ones tongue off comes to mind. Bugger haven’t tried writing so much

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