Britain is on a course which could end up with us being the country which suffers the most from the Covid 19 pandemic. This is simply due to the political choices our leaders have made. They tell us to stay home to protect the NHS and save lives but it is now clear that we also need to be speaking up. We need to make our voices heard and demand that our leaders start making different political choices. It is too horrific to think about the consequences of just carrying on as we are. Claims that this is not the time for politics may prove to be even more dangerous than the virus itself.
Perhaps there was never anything we could have done to prevent a pandemic of some new killer virus happening. That is not something I know about. But what is plainly obvious is that our Government could have made sure our country was prepared before it happened and acted in he best interest of the people when it did.
Our Government had known that this sort of pandemic was very likely since 2010. Yet, since that date they had allowed our NHS to lose 10,000 doctors, 40,000 nurses and 17,000 beds. They had also allowed increasing inefficiency to affect the entire healthcare system because of the whole business of putting services out to tender, assessing bids and awarding contracts. That process alone costs us around £10bn a year even without assessing the cost of the increased level of inefficiency.
We need to renationalise the entire NHS to get it back to being the most efficient service possible.
Our Government had known since Operation Cygnus, an exercise staged to see how Britan would could cope with a pandemic such as this one, in 2016 that we wouldn’t cope well. The exercise highlighted a lack of ICU beds, a lack of ventilators and a lack of Personal Proteective Equipment (PPE) as major problems. It was remarkably accurate. But even when this pandemic started our Government ignored the EU’s offer to help supply medical equipment.
But all that can’t be changed now, but it may help us realise that the scale of suffering in the UK today is due to political choices.
So what can be done now? Covid 19 takes on average three weeks to kill a person. If the lockdown was going to work in reducing the numbers contracting the disease we should have seen the death rate start to go down after that time. Our lockdown has just not gone far enough. The people who cannot work from home, and can’t afford to not work are still travelling to work each day and working aloongside many others even if their work is non-essential.
Every worker who cannot be classed as an essential worker should be placed in the Government furlough scheme.
Those essential workers who are keeping the country running right now are often risking their lives to do so. The lack of PPE in the country is affecting all key workers, including in the NHS. Many have lost their lives as a result and may also be inadvertantly spreading the disease before they realise they have contracted it.
At the same time millions of pieces of PPE are being exported overseas because manufacturers are reporting that the Government is not responding to their offer to help supply it here in the UK.
Every firm producing PPE in the UK should be able to supply to the UK Government unless the UK reaches a point where they have enough. Key workers must be given an adequate level of PPE and need to be tested regularly to avoid them spreading the disease further. It was only yesterday that all key workers were offered the chance to order testing online but the website crashed later in the day.
The effectiveness of lockdown can only be assessed by widespread testing. Widespread testing needs to be happening in every community in the country.
It is hard to imagine why our Government seems to be refusng to do what obviously has to be done to get us through this crisis. Of course they will be concerned about the economic impact of this pandemic but to deal with it effectively would get the country back on track and working again sooner. If it is about economic concerns for our country to support the calls for a global ceasefire in military activity would make sense. Recent foreign military interventions have cost us £34bn.
We, as the people of the UK, are restricted in how we can make our voices heard now. But if we can accept that our leaders are not looking after our interests we need to also accept we somehow must get our voices heard. Labour’s Keir Starmer has been promising an enquiry after the pandemic to examine Government failures. But we need a change of policy now.
Even under lockdown we can write letters to the loacl paper, email our MPs and Councillors and start expressing our views on social networks. We need to organise ourselves into action and really start making a noise.
It has been fantastic to see people each Thursday evening come to their doors, windows and balcony and applaud the NHS and care workers for their efforts. But they need more than your gratitude. They need adequate levels of PPE and testing to save their lives. Please continue to express your appreciation each Thursday evening but lets all start using this time to call for PPE and testing. Just listen to this poem by an A&E nurse to the NHS if you doubt whether you need to do more than just clap.
Please use this time under lockdown to make the following demands on our Government in whatever way you can.
- All non-essential workers to be placed in the Government furlough scheme
- Every UK firm making PPE to be able to sell to the UK Government unless no more is needed
- Every key worker is to have adequate level of PPE supplied and access to regular testing
- Mass testing of our population is started in every community
- Our NHS is renationalised entirely
- Our Government supports the call for a global ceasefire of military activity
- Efforts are made to end the practice of tax avoidance and evasion
- A wealth tax is established to help pay for the cost of this pandemic
- All healthcare workers who are currently risking their lives to save others to have student debts cancelled
It is International Worker’s Memorial Day on April 28th when people come together to remember those who have lost their lives in the course of their work. This year, at this time in could not be more poignant. We can’t come together but we simply must act. Whatt better way to remember those who have died than take action to save lives. If you do nothing else please download and print this poster and place it in your window. Next Thursday please lets all clap with more gusto than ever but chant as loudly as possible.