As someone who has been generally supportive of the government’s handling of Covid-19 I’m despairing at the handling of issues related to PPE and testing, but in this piece I’m going to focus solely on PPE. Up to now the worst accusation from respectable observers at the government is that they listened to their scientists, if that’s the worst accusation to be levelled at the government the government should be fine, however there’s now a danger the issues around PPE will change the narrative for the government, and they may not recover from that.
In the first tweet we can see the Royal College of Nursing has said ‘Nurses should refuse to treat coronavirus patients “as a last resort” if they are not given adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), according to new guidance.’ That’s a devastating position for anyone who contracts the disease and something people will blame on the government, especially with the tone deaf remarks coming from Matt Hancock, Priti Patel, and Alok Sharma, in recent days. I agree with the tweet by Tom Newton Dunn on this.
This is no longer an abstract concept, today it was confirmed three nurses have died after testing positive for Covid-19, following on from the 19 other medical professionals who have died after testing positive for Covid-19. If the country sees the government as incompetent or worse then I think the lockdown will fall apart and future government advice on things related to Covid-19 will be simply ignored which means future outbreaks of Covid-19 will be much worse. In a battle for support of the public my money would always be on the side of doctors & nurses versus politicians.
During World War II one of Sir Winston Churchill’s first acts as Prime Minister was to appoint Lord Beaverbrook as Minister of State for Aircraft Production, Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab should be looking to appoint someone as Minister for PPE Production and Distribution to get a handle on it.
If they don’t they risk not only the lives of many, the fan of Sir Winston Churchill might end up not being our modern day Churchill but his predecessor Neville Chamberlain, the issues around PPE are shaping up as disastrous as the Norway campaign. Not only would it be good politics it would also be potentially save a great number of lives, if it turns out the UK is the worst affected country in Europe the government will pay a heavy price at the next election.
PS – Oh for those days when discussions about PPE in UK politics was generally limited to having too many Politics, Philosophy, and Economics graduates at the heart of UK politics.