Covid-19 has raised the anxiety levels of people across the globe, including here in the UK. Perhaps that is the reason why political conflict at this time seems unpalatable for many? But statements such as “this is not the time for politics” or “our country needs to be united” or even the suggestion that “we should be supportive of the Prime Minster” our both remarkably common and remarkably dangerous.
I for one, certainly feel now is the time for fighting tooth and nail for a better politics. It is time to recognise all the pit-falls of our broken political and economic system. But more importantly we must recognise that this Government has placed the lives of millions in danger by their failings both prior to this pandemic and during it.
There is now so much pain for us all and much of it is unnecessary. I feel beyond angry by the level to which our Governments have failed the people who elect them with the devastating consequences we are witnessing today. If we can’t be angry now I don’t know if we ever can be.
Back in 2016 our Government staged what they called Exercise Cygnus. This was designed to examine how Britain would respond when faced with a disease pandemic. It exposed glaringly obvious gaps in how well we could respond to a pandemic of any sort. The exercise involved all major Government departments, the NHS and local authorities. It showed that our response would be woefully inadequate. It is still yet to be published and certainly there have been little of no efforts since then, made to protect us against what seemed inevitable.
Our Governments regularly hold National Security Capabilites Reviews which are aimed at examining what the greatest threats are that our country may face. The aim is to ensure that defence spending goes towards protecting us against the most likely threats. In 2018 this review listed major outbreaks of disease as one such threat that we may face. Disease outbreaks were also listed as a threat in the National Security Capability Review of 2010 and 2015.
But despite all this prior warning we entered this current pandemic with 17,000 fewer hospital beds in the NHS than we had in 2010. Moral of all NHS staff was widely reported as being at all time low and still we continued to make assaults on the pay and working conditions of NHS staff. We have allowed skills and talent to be lost from our NHS staff as workers leave for employment overseas where they feel they can give patients the care they need. Since 2010 we have lost 40,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors from our NHS.
The staff that remain are now facing a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) when dealing with patients during this crisis. We now have 25% of all doctors self-isolating because they either have the disease or fear they have the disease because they have had contact with somebody who does. We are not even providing NHS workers with testing to get those who do not carry the infection back to work. It has been reported today that doctors are getting bullied into keeping quiet about the lack of PPE.
The Chinese Government had warned other countries in January that a pandemic was likely. But still few preparations were made. Now we are feeling the pain of this neglect and those of us who are on the lower end of the socio-economic scale are feeling it more.
This pandemic has highlighted the worst aspects of our inadequate political and economic system. Even now we are feeling the pain, billionaires and multi-national corporations still refuse to pay their taxes. NHS cuts and privatisations are still continuing. Workers are still going to work because they can’t afford not to and thousands face the worrying wait of five weeks before their Universal Credit payments start.
We can all just turn up the telly and hope this goes away as it seems our Government has done something similar for years. It will go away in the end but if we don’t want a repeat it would be far better to act now. Our Government is still not doing enough to support the country through this or to bring about an end to the crisis. Getting angry may be our only way of ensuring they start to act.
I live, like many others at this time, terrified for the wellbeing of those I care about. I can’t stand back and say nothing about a Government who is allowing this to happen. Can you?