Former BMA deputy chair Dr Kailash Chand writes:
Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care. We all wish him a speedy recovery.
But his hospitalisation cannot be allowed to distract from the fact that the nation is in a total mess and asking many questions about how it was allowed to get there and how it will get out of it.
World-leading disease-data analysts have projected that the UK will become the country worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, accounting for more than 40% of total deaths across the continent – even without the latest ONS revelations that the government has under-reported the figures by more than half.
I sincerely hope and pray the analysts’ predictions are wrong. But this government needs to account for Johnson’s initial ‘take it on the chin’ approach and his government’s promotion of the idea of ‘herd immunity’ as a way out of the epidemic.
That approach meant there was a delay in implementing physical distancing until 23 March, when there were already 54 daily coronavirus deaths. On the day the UK’s deaths for the last 24 hours reached a record 938, to say Johnson’s approach was ignorance and stupidity would be an excessively charitable interpretation.
Johnson addressed the nation at a press conference on 3 March 2020. He claimed that the UK was ‘extremely well prepared’:
And let’s not forget, we already have a fantastic NHS… we will make sure the NHS gets all the support it needs.
When doctors were asked about this in a Guardian survey by Guardian only 1% agreed that the NHS was in a position to cope with the COVID pandemic.
The shortage of doctors, nurses, beds and care packages for elderly patients meant that black alerts, trolleys in corridors and dangerous safety levels were at a peak even before the pandemic hit our shores. On top of that, social care services were and remain in a state of paralysis.
Johnson and his administration showed a total lack of understanding – or disregard for the consequences – of the disease and a shortage of protective equipment in the early weeks of the outbreak in January led to thousands of healthcare workers being infected while treating patients.
The availability of safe equipment is a little better, but still in very short supply – the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has added its voice to the organisations calling attention to the danger to their members – and the UK ignored the simple message from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ’test, test, test’.
This means that to date we don’t know how many people have been infected but have only developed a mild illness. The symptoms might not warrant a doctor’s visit, but the infection can still be passed on and every country needs to know how many are infected and isolate those affected.
Without comprehensive testing, we are fighting in the dark with no idea how many people in the community are linked in chains of transmission.
Remember, in early March while advising the general public on the virtues of social distancing, Johnson said that he was still shaking hands with everyone, including at a hospital treating coronavirus patients.
I couldn’t agree more with Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet medical journal, that the response by this government to Covid is a ‘national scandal”.
In an editorial, Horton said he would testify to Parliament about a mismatch between “the urgent warning that was coming from the front line in China” and the “somewhat pedestrian evaluation” of the scientific advice to the government on the threat of the virus.
But once this crisis is over, the public will want to know how the NHS came to be left in this exposed position; how social care was stripped away to such a critical extent and how those in power exposed the nation to such a dreaded virus through a ‘pedestrian’ approach and a Darwinist ideology.
Nothing short of an independent public inquiry will do!
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.