Saving Lives: Two Questions

When this pandemic emergency recedes and life returns to what will be a new normal, the questions will have to be answered. This will lead to another infamous inquiry led by a judge, which will take so long to gather evidence, write a report, with the conclusions then watered down by those criticised, who receive advance copies and the right to reply, that when copies are finally made public, they will be all but ignored. Because the world has by then moved on. That is, of course, the whole idea. Witness Bloody Sunday, Scott, Leveson, Chilcot and currently Grenfell. Or a whitewash like the utterly scandalous Hutton. There is a better way to do these things, but that is not the subject of this blog today.

What is are the questions. Or some of them. Here are two. The first is why was the decision taken to save Covid life, while endangering all other conditions requiring elective and routine treatment? The build up of this accumulation of waiting times and deferrals, is costing lives even as I write this and threatens countless others in the queue. The anxiety of the victims and the anguish of their loves ones should tear at even the hardiest heart.

Why was the decision taken to centralise testing and cut out local health departments? Although attempts are now being made to roll this back, the strategy has lead to a systemic failure of test and trace, leaving testing as an end in itself, a second wave and, were it not for the vaccine cavalry coming over the hill, even a third.

The overall point emerging is this. I have made it before. Although the world class scientific community of the UK has shone in its response, the public institutions have failed at almost every level because they have been run down and cash starved and were utterly unprepared for the crisis which swamped them. That in turn was because of the uncivilised nostrum that the state is the enemy, to be beaten and starved. In truth, of course, without a strong state, fully funded and prepared for every contingency, providing the framework within which civilisation functions and prospers, civilisation itself dies.

Maybe  Covid 19 was sent to teach us that lesson. But at a very heavy price.


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