Can I take back my clap for the NHS?

Freedom day it was supposed to be.  The end of lockdown 2 officially arrived at 12.01am to be replaced with Tier 3. Our MPs huffed and puffed including bids to decouple towns from cities lumped together now for simplicity, bugger the consequences.

Today I can go to the gym, tomorrow I will play tennis again plus all the shops are open.  Yet if I were to follow the rules to the letter I couldn’t have my kids round, visit my Dad, travel outside the county, go to the pub or eat out.

All this to protect our goddamn NHS.  Can I take back those sentimental Thursday night first wave claps right now, please. 

This article from my favourite columnist Allison Pearson of The Daily Telegraph perfectly sums up my feelings.  Here are some of the best bits.

“Well, all I can say is count yourself lucky you were nowhere near me on Saturday when I read Michael Gove’s article in The Times with its dire warning that every hospital in England faces being overwhelmed with Covid cases should MPs fail to back the new system of tiers.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of this emotional blackmail which manipulates us into protecting the NHS when it is the NHS that should damn well be protecting us.  Back in March, we gladly stayed home to buy the NHS time to deal with the crisis. Eight long, lonely months later, we see more clearly the dreadful harm that draconian measures have done to business, education and personal happiness.

Not forgetting the 200,000 blameless people it is estimated the Covid Health Service has condemned to a premature death because it cancelled scans and treatments even while it was wasting hundreds of millions of pounds commandeering private hospitals, which it barely used. Nice no work if you can get it.

Not so much Our NHS, then, as Their NHS. A service for which the taxpayer annually hands over a deafening £143 billion, but to which despairing surgeons tell me that same taxpayer is denied access because certain Trust managers have rather enjoyed using the virus as an excuse to keep entire departments closed and save money.

Day after day, the public is drip-fed disingenuous data, such as that propagated by Gove, which invites us to feel sorry for the poor,  sainted NHS. If we are “selfish” and fail to follow the latest corona regulations, well, it will be our own fault if the NHS “can’t cope” and more people lose their lives, I’m sorry, but that is a wicked falsehood.

There are 13,466 Covid patients in all hospitals in England today. That’s 11 per cent Covid occupancy of hospital beds nationwide. Only 9 per cent of hospital beds in the south of England are presently occupied by Covid patients.

As for admissions, on Monday the TV news told us there had been 1,641 Covid hospital “admissions” in the past 24 hours. Is this really true? Only 25 per cent of that number will have arrived at hospital as a confirmed Covid case. What happens is that patients who come in with other conditions are tested in subsequent days for the virus. Those who test positive will be put down as a Covid admission and are then added to the tally for the day before their result comes back.

Now comes the bombshell. Between 17.5 and 25 per cent of so-called “admissions” have acquired the virus while in hospital. By contrast, the Japanese are excellent; it’s one reason Japan has remarkably few Covid deaths (2,042 out of a population of 126 million) and the UK has the third highest total in the world.

So, while Michael Gove in his prissy, pious professorial way is lecturing us on why “it would be intolerable to allow the NHS to be overwhelmed” the truly intolerable thing is kept out of sight. The health service is giving a potentially fatal virus to a distressing number of the fragile citizens who enter its care. You are more likely to catch Covid in a hospital than in an unfairly maligned pub.

And that’s not all. Thanks to the Government’s trigger-happy Test and Trace app, the NHS has serious staff shortages. “That bloody app tells my nurses to isolate for 14 days even if they just stood near another parent at the school gate who tested positive later,” fumes one clinical manager.

In France, key workers are told to get back to the hospital as soon as they’ve had a negative Covid test. Ours must see out the full fortnight at home, a farcical situation only exacerbated by the large number of NHS personnel who are shielding either because they have a pre-existing condition or are overweight. A staggering (in every sense) one in four nurses in England is obese.

Obviously, you won’t hear a word of the damning data above from Gove or Matt Hancock. Both ministers are far too busy demanding that we “protect our NHS” the better to deflect blame from the service itself and spare the Government’s blushes.

How many more sacrifices do you reckon we, as a nation, will we have to make to protect the NHS? Is it acceptable to put three million people out of work – four? – to save the NHS? Bailiffs at the door, tearful families homeless – what number of evictions should we tolerate to save the NHS?

Relatives of residents in care homes denied the chance to kiss their loved ones goodbye, 60 million people unable to have their friends over; how much more of this life without living can we reasonably be expected to bear to save the NHS? Must absolutely everything we value be destroyed in order to protect the NHS?

In a few years’ time, there will be graveyards full of men, women and children who died protecting our NHS. What’s the word Gove used? Ah yes, intolerable. It is intolerable that people should suffer so because their health service can’t do its job. Intolerable that a minister previously renowned for his high intelligence should eschew evidence-based policy and emotionally blackmail the British people into complying with rules out of all proportion to the risk posed by a fast-receding virus. Tiers for Fears.”

Read the full article, which my be behind a paywall, here.

Published by brianjonesdiary

Dad, husband, brother and son. Interested in travel, politics, sport, health and much more. Semi-retired and aiming to making the most of life as I approach my sixth decade.

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