Boris Johnson’s government has failed to address the Covid-19 crisis in any reasonable way, according to a new report by his fellow MPs.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus published its interim report today and it is scathing in its criticism of Johnson and his cronies.
At 91 pages’ length, there is far too much material for me to publish an in-depth analysis so soon – but I don’t have to. The introductory conclusions are damning enough. Here are some highlights:
The UK government’s approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic has been based on the
false choice between saving lives or saving jobs and the economy.
The centralised and outsourced Test and Trace system operating in England is not working. It
has consistently failed to meet the required target of 80% of contacts traced to be effective.
The UK government has prioritised arbitrary testing targets over a coordinated testing
The UK government’s outsourced tracing service has consistently traced only 60% of contacts,
well below the required 80% target. Local contact tracing services have been much more
successful, regularly tracing 90% of the contacts.
Without adequate financial support and general assistance to isolate, the requirement to
isolate is not being complied with by a significant proportion of cases. As a result, the chains
of transmission are not being broken, and cases continue to rise.
Lockdowns have become the UK Government’s only solution to bringing down the incidence
of Covid-19 in England, because it does not have a locally led Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and
Support system in place throughout the country.
The inability for local authorities to access the precise real-time data has significantly impaired their ability to work effectively at a local level to contain outbreaks.
Centralised identification of, and communication with, those shielding has not been
consistent or clear.
Councils need clarification on the resumption of the policy of ‘everyone in’ (ensuring
accommodation for all homeless people).
UK government advice and guidance on shielding and on visiting those in residential care has
been inconsistent and unclear.
UK government public health messaging has been inconsistent and unclear.
Access to testing for frontline NHS and social care staff has been unsatisfactory, resulting in
staff being absent from their role while they or their family members wait for test results. This
impacts on the ability of the NHS and social care sector to provide care.
The international standard for the turnaround time of tests is 24 hours. The APPG
recommends that the UK government improves turnaround time for tests, such that all
results are accessible within 24 hours.
The APPG finds that there has been inadequate coordination between Pillar 1 (NHS) and Pillar
2 (commercial) laboratories, which has detrimentally affected testing capacity, information
flows and management decisions.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the capacity deficiencies in the UK’s public health
laboratory capability: existing public health laboratories did not have the capacity to meet
the surge in demand posed by Covid-19.
The recently announced proposals for testing at airports are not sufficient.
Personal Protection Equipment
There was an insufficient supply of PPE for those in the social care sector
Public Health England
The reorganisation of Public Health England would be detrimental to UK’s ability to respond
to the coronavirus pandemic.
Support for the NHS
Before the coronavirus pandemic, NHS England had around 106,000 FTE vacancies including
nearly 44,000 nurses and more than 9,000 doctors.
Support for the Social Care sector
The social care sector did not receive sufficient support in terms of PPE, guidance, testing or
quarantining provisions for those coming from the NHS into social care settings.
At the outbreak of the pandemic, there was a shortage of 100,000 social care staff.
Oversight of the social care sector was stopped in March 2020 due to a lack of testing
availability for Care Quality Commission inspectors.
Isolation is having a devastating impact on those in social care. All people living in care or
supported living need to be safely reconnected with their support networks for the crucial
emotional and practical support that friends and families provide.
NHS staff, and in particular those from BAME backgrounds, have experienced bullying and discrimination in the workplace when raising questions of workplace safety and lack of PPE.
The impact [of the Covid-19 crisis] has been particularly detrimental on those living in areas of high deprivation, on people from BAME communities, on older people, men, those with a learning disability and others with protected characteristics.
As a medical condition, Long Covid has not yet received full recognition, sufficient research
funding or adequate rehabilitation support.
There are insufficient guidelines for employers and GPs on recognising and managing Long
The UK government is not counting the number of individuals who are left with long-lasting
effects of Covid-19 as a measure of the severity and impact of the pandemic.
Covid-19 has had severe impact on the mental health of a significant proportion of society. This may be because of isolation, loss of income, or loss of daily routine.
There has been an increase in demand for mental health support services, with many individuals seeking help for the first time. The APPG also finds that those suffering from mental health issues, including addictions, have seen their condition worsen over the course of the pandemic.
The UK government has failed to look to or learn from other countries in their handling of the
pandemic. The APPG notes the experience of Norway and Finland, who built up their Find,
Test, Trace, Isolate and Support systems over the Summer, as well as those countries who
instigated testing and quarantine measures at airports early on, such as South Korea,
Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
That last comment is particularly telling – that the UK has failed in comparison with other countries – on the day that Gavin Williamson was telling radio audiences that Britain is best. What a bad joke.
You can see that this report pulls no punches. This Writer only regrets the fact that the parts quoted above fail to mention the number of fatalities.
I will try to go into depth in the near future.
In the meantime, I look forward to hearing Boris Johnson attempt to justify his inactions in the face of this substantial criticism.
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