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UK government failures on COVID-19

While the UK Government is not doing enough, our doctors and nurses are struggling at the frontline. Some are losing their lives to COVID-19.

Instead of addressing the issues, the government are asking doctors and nurses to use personal protective clothing in ways that are considered dangerous. The Royal College of Surgeons has issued a statement saying that doctors should not be coerced into putting their lives at risk.

Meanwhile, doctors and nurses are being gagged from speaking out about the shortages.

Responding to criticism that Prime Minister Boris Johnson missed five emergency COBRA meetings, the Education Secretary said at the press conference today, Sunday:
"This is a whole government effort. We are doing everything that is required, everything that is needed."

Well, what is needed is PPE and testing, among other things, and on both these fronts the government is failing to do everything required.

Our doctors and nurses are being asked to put their lives at further risk because they do not have the PPE they need. We have been saying this for weeks, and yet we seem to get no further forward. Now we know that opportunities were missed to obtain PPE both here and by joining with other European countries.

We learned today that the government was very slow in responding to the advice they were receiving at the outbreak of the pandemic. Mixed messages were being sent from the Prime Minister and Health Secretary. In the end, the government acted with too little, too late.

Very little strategic planning appears to have been done, not least the building of resilience in our health and care systems. Opportunities have been missed. The government has prefered to buy votes with lower top rate taxes then invest in our infrastructure. That is mostly what is now putting so many lives at risk. It is a failure of purpose; a failure of political leadership.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson hasn't led. He is a follower of public opinion rather than a maker of it. He is a populist, not a strategist. He never seems to keep his eye on the ball, other than if it allows him to score a goal - an own goal in this case.

He was nowhere to be seen at the outset of this pandemic. Cloistered away at the Prime Minster's country retreat. He failed to attend key COBRA meetings, the meetings that bring together expertise to strategically plan a response in a crisis.

Clearly, Mr Johnsion didn't think the coronavirus pandemic was a crisis sufficient to command his attention. He is now, of course, recovering from having been in intensive care because he contracted COVID-19. We wish him well.

It is often questioned when he will come back to lead the effort. He won't be coming back because he wasn't driving it at the outset. He prefers to grandstand, then addresses issues of strategic importance such as ensuring our frontline staff get the support they need. 



We wish him well in his recovery. But we need a government that tells us the truth, not one that leads with platitudes and excuses.

Grave mistakes have been made, so many opportunities missed that we need to be reassured that lessons have been learned from them. We don't need platitudes, we need PPE and testing. 

We also now know that the shortage of PPE could have been eased earlier by producing kit here in the UK.

The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) was ready to help supply PPE in February — and throughout March — but it was only on April 1 that its offer of help was accepted.

Dr Simon Festing, the organisation’s chief executive, is reported to have said: 

“Orders undoubtedly went overseas instead of to the NHS because of the missed opportunities in the procurement process.” 

And yet we still hear apologists saying 'any government would have acted the same'. No they would not.  The opposition and doctors and nurses, and their representatives, have been calling the government to act. 

Doctors and Nurses representatives have been begging the government to act on the shortages. We were told it was a logistics problem.

The opposition parties are lending the government their support and holding back from criticism. The return of parliament won't come a moment too soon.  The government needs to give answers. 


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