Nishat Siddiqi is a consultant cardiologist based in South Wales. He discusses the UK government under Boris Johnson’s lamentable response to the Coronavirus crisis. Boris ‘the falaffel’ Johnson neglected to attend 5 consecutive Cobra meetings addressing the UK’s response to Coronavirus.
Shifting the Blame
As Britain’s Covid death toll exceeds 100,000, the government has set out to blame the public – but from the very beginning its recklessness, ineptitude and cronyism have paved the way for this tragedy.
Because reality showed Boris to be wrong, the government has firmly decided that we, the supposedly feckless general public, are primarily to blame. During one of her rare public briefings on the coronavirus, Priti Patel proudly declared that the police have issued 45,000 fines to people who have flouted the rules, saying that a minority of people were putting the health of the nation at risk. Scrolling through Twitter feeds of my fellow doctors, I often see remarks on how the flow of traffic has not reduced, unlike the first lockdown. They ask: “where are all these people going and why aren’t they staying home?”
Meanwhile, contracts for PPE were awarded to firms with no experience in this field, but with close links to the Conservative Party, often leading to delays, substandard equipment and the waste of millions of pounds. Since 11 March, at least 216 frontline health and social care workers have died from Covid-19, with many complaining about inadequate PPE before succumbing to the virus. The British Medical Association is now calling for all healthcare workers to be given face masks identical to the ones used in ICUs.
Johnson promised a “world beating” test and trace system. But like so many of his promises, the reality was a source of national shame more than pride. The outsourcing to companies with next-to-no experience led to an overwhelmed system with poor communication between private companies and the NHS. The initial policy of discharging elderly patients from hospital back to care homes without testing for the virus was an unforgivable move that led to the virus spreading among some of our most vulnerable people; the fact that this coincided with strict lockdown measures, meaning that many care home residents were denied visits from loved ones, only added to the tragedy.
As Johnson finally condemns Trump, Britain should examine its own shift to the right