Tragedy in our care homes masks ‘successes’ in NHS hospitals

From: Sarah Booth, Lee Lane, Penistone, Sheffield.

How effective has been the Government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic?

OUR Government is keen to stress that, when measured against their own objectives, their strategy in dealing with coronavirus has been a success.

It is true that hospitals still have spare capacity on a scale we have not seen for decades. It is also true that the messaging surrounding the lockdown has been clear and well understood, to the point that there is now some concern about how people will react when restrictions are eventually lifted.

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Thankfully, we have been spared TV images of NHS hospitals and hospital staff at breaking point and this is a welcome contrast to the scenes we saw in China and Italy in the weeks leading up to our own crisis. A cynic might point out, however, that the pain being suffered by those working and living in social care settings was considered more likely to pass under the radar of the press and broader public, and, therefore, less likely to cause reputational damage.

Boris Johnson celebrates NHS workers and carers outside 10 Downing Street after being successfully treated for Covid-19.

It is becoming clearer by the day that the costs of pursuing this narrow objective have been enormous in terms of loss of life, heartache and socio-economic harm.

Undoubtedly, those suffering from Covid-19 admitted to hospitals have received the very best care but with operating theatres closed, cancer treatment on hold, the elderly being refused admission and routine screening cancelled, the NHS has ceased to fully serve its main purpose.

What appears to be an enormous success on the surface is a tragedy for those individuals who cannot access the treatment they desperately need and, in many cases, had already been awaiting for many months.

A different objective, perhaps one focused on minimising deaths of the most vulnerable to the disease, would in all likelihood have led to a very different strategy, perhaps more aligned with other island nations such as New Zealand and Taiwan, where Covid-19 deaths in hospital and social care settings have been incredibly low.

The Government continues to face scrutiny over the number of people who are tested each day for Covid-19.

There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind now that a razor sharp focus on reducing death rates alone would have resulted in a decision to lockdown much sooner, during which time PPE and testing capacity could have been built up to the levels required.

This would have allowed much needed time for the establishment of a comprehensive, nationwide system of “Test, Trace, Isolate and Track” which the Government has belatedly realised is the key to understanding and controlling this virus.

From: John Edwards, Carlisle.

I AM disquieted by the negative press in some quarters of the media for sensationalist reporting in the midst of the crisis.

We have, on the one hand, some who are insisting on an end to the lockdown but, on the other hand, emphasising the large numbers who have succumbed to the virus and failure by Government to contain. End the lockdown too soon and the numbers will rise even more!

I cannot recall many in the press demanding an early lockdown and loss of our liberty in March, and yet what were each of us doing then to ensure a reduction in our contacts? We all have a responsibility to each other and ourselves.

A recent report states that it took three months for the virus to affect 100,000 – yet just a further 12 days for that number to double. Hindsight is wonderful but if there is ever a time for a firm hand on the rudder it is now. We are in a national – international – crisis. In the last war (and if the virus is not a war then perhaps we should view it as such), reporting had to be positive and careless or negative talk was not encouraged.

There is too much posturing and some in the press simply cannot report on the positive steps the Government has done in these unprecedented times, seeking only to highlight the negative as to what has not been done.

From: Barry Foster, High Stakesby, Whitby.

OF course the furloughed workers should go and help the farmers etc. Also those on unemployment benefit. Is this not what helping each other out means? I am now in my 80s, reasonably fit, and would welcome the chance to be allowed to get out and assist.

This is nothing at all like the war years, as some of us are led to believe. We should all be sticking together and, at least, trying to do our best.

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