When this is all over we can determine who have been the heroes and the zeros of the great coronavirus pandemic of 2020. A kind of modern take on the brilliant but infamous ‘Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War’ poster.
I’m feeling optimistic that we are over the worst, sure the local spikes and paranoia about a second wave will continue but I believe we could really be seeing the beginning of the end of Covid here in the UK.
The great news about the Oxford vaccine trials, how our testing capacity is now the highest in Europe and that our treatment outcomes have improved so dramatically surely points in that direction. We also seem to have got PPE sorted and shown that we can create new hospitals in a matter of days if needed.
To me the pandemic heroes have been the carers and, of course, the front-line hospital nurses and doctors who put themselves at risk when treating those with the disease.
There’s also been a lot to admire about large parts of the private sector particularly the supermarkets, online services such as Amazon, the logistics that support them, the utilities and a number of small local businesses from take-aways to traders who have kept going.
I’ve also been impressed with some other parts of the public sector including binmen and postal workers.
The zeros, in my book, have been teachers and GPs who, outrageously in my opinion, are in line for an inflation-busting 3.1% pay increase.
I cannot express my feelings about this more effectively than by quoting from an article by my favourite columnist Allison Pearson in today’s Daily Telegraph.
You mean teachers who, discounting a crack battalion of dutiful exceptions, have been on sunbathing leave since 20th March? Teachers who may or may not agree to return to the classroom in September, subject to it being 100% “safe”? Oh, and with the proviso that children are treated like lepers, confined in pointless “bubbles” or even forced to wear masks. Actually, better if the kids aren’t there at all. That would definitely make it safer for teachers.
Turning to GPs, Pearson then goes on to recount this story told to her by district nurse who worked throughout the pandemic:
Some things she told me were so sad that it was hard not to be moved to tears. One gentleman, aged ninety, had massive blisters. His GP refused to visit, advising the man’s wife to “just pierce them with a needle”. His condition deteriorated and the district nurse tried to get him admitted to Dermatology, which was empty. “They wouldn’t see him.” After three more failed attempts to get a GP out, the poor man was finally admitted to hospital in an appalling state and died on the operating table. He is one of four patients that she alleges died needlessly because “pretty much everything was shut” even though the NHS was “nowhere near” being overwhelmed.
I am hoping against hope that what we are seeing here is a Government choosing its battles carefully with priority number one getting the country back to school and work.
Then when that is done a day of reckoning will take place for these professions that have so badly let the country down in its hour of need.