Without realising that they have done it, the Government has given us a master class in divide and conquer.
The financial support being provided for some of those who have lost income as a result of the Lockdown is so piecemeal and all over the place, it has literally played up to the way that we think culturally. It has left different groups falling over themselves to try and secure the same payouts that they perceive to have been already given to everyone else.
The upshot of all this has been that the only thing the Government has done which unified people was to create and then perpetuate the myths about their efforts to ‘protect the NHS’, using it as leverage to create groupthink and a false populism about key workers that has led to people clapping on their doorsteps like clockwork once a week.
If a) protecting the NHS was the only thing that was important and b) it was actually what the Government intended to do, this strategy would go down in history as a stroke of genius.
However, what ‘protecting the NHS’, the creation of the Nightingale Field Hospitals, the Lockdown, Social Distancing, heavy-handed Police enforcement and a growing list of other things tell us is there is a complete absence of rudimentary management practice at the heart of government that looks at all the different factors and influences across this situation and then comes up with plans that join up all the dots.
Doing so would be an approach that may not be immediately popular. But it would at the very least consider everyone and therefore would actually work for us all.
The Government’s key error from the start of the Coronavirus pandemic has been an over reliance on words, views and influence of scientists, medical specialists and epidemiologists to manage a national crisis, purely on the basis of prioritising only the medical issues that relate to it.
This has served to sow fear on an unprecedented level across the UK population in such a way that COVID-19 has become an irrational motivator that in the minds of many. A false populism has been deliberately created that means normally intelligent and sensible people will prioritise Coronavirus above all else – even to the point where it will run counterintuitively to the specialisms and ways of doing normal things that they themselves know best.
Herein lies a real problem as the Government now attempts to create a strategy for the next set of fudges that will be inflicted upon us. They will be sold to us all as a reasoned, stepped or traffic light approach to ending the Lockdown in stages.
The Government will sell the exit as being fully considered and thought-out. But instead of weighing up the pros and cons and taking an equitable and fair approach that is in the genuine interests of everyone, the Government will continue to be swayed by yet more specialists in specific fields where their ‘advice’ and their ‘view’ will be given through the myopic lens of their own specialisms coupled with their own fears of Coronavirus. It will not be what will be best for everyone just to get on with and complete their own jobs in times that we are all finding very challenging.
For instance Education specialists are already making noise about a staggered or piecemeal approach to facilitating the return of children in different age groups to schools at different times instead of just treating them all the same as they should. The exams have been dealt with and education is equally important for everyone.
You cannot please everyone at a time like this.
There will be some who are happy and others who will end up completely miffed.
What the Government should be committed to is working only with what they can control. They must accept and work considerately with the limitations that exist in respect of everything else.
The reality is:
- There is currently no cure for Coronavirus.
- There is no definitive timeline for when a vaccine will be identified, tested, produced in sufficient quantities and then given to everyone who will still need to be vaccinated at that time.
- Everyone is at risk of contracting Coronavirus without a Vaccine
- Of those who catch Coronavirus, some will die, some will become very ill, some will have little or no symptoms at all.
- Other illnesses, diseases, health conditions and deaths from natural causes are responsible for killing more people than COVID-19 each and every day.
- The Lockdown has began to destroy the economy. Businesses closed down temporarily will never reopen and this number will rise each and every day that the Lockdown continues in any form leading to loss of income, job losses, bankruptcies, debt and then all of the personal issues such as depression and anxiety that follows. It has already led to a rise in suicides since the Lockdown began.
- The Lockdown is creating significant safeguarding issues across society. Domestic violence has risen since the Lockdown began. Divorces will rise. Vulnerable people are at increased risk because they cannot escape or even have a break from contact with their abusers.
- The Nightingale Field Hospitals are nothing more than a white elephant. They are not offering the additional capacity that the Government promised and are there for little more than publicity purposes so that Politicians can claim they are getting things done.
- Likewise, the Private Hospitals that have been ‘taken over’ at significant cost to the Taxpayer, are not being fully used.
- The existing NHS facilities are running as best they can but have been beset by supply chain and resource management problems that the Government was already aware of, but had done little or nothing to head off.
- The NHS is severely understaffed. During a time of national crisis, it stands to reason that rules and regulations can and should be relaxed to allow on-the-job training for healthcare assistants within all of our Hospitals.
- The only plan the Government has is to keep the flow of ill COVID-19 patients into hospital at the level of capacity which is available within the existing NHS.
- The only way the Government ‘Strategy’ can succeed and be maintained is either to maintain the Lockdown until the Vaccine is ready or to allow some loosening of the Lockdown once patient numbers drop, until they go up again and then reintroduce the full Lockdown. This process would need repeating over and over again until Coronavirus is no longer any risk, with a full Lockdown being implemented many times.
- There is and will be no level of certainty that any lives can genuinely be saved until mass vaccination has taken place.
- There is no guarantee that the lives of any Coronavirus patients can be saved by the Lockdown, whilst we can be sure that the Lockdown is already on the way to causing significant economic and social harm to the whole Country – which will result in the loss of many more lives over the long term than would be lost to Coronavirus if everyone were to be infected by the Virus at the same time.
- The hysteria that the Government and the Media have created is promoting an irrational fear of catching and dying from Coronavirus, when it is most likely that everyone will die from another cause.
- We don’t know what Coronavirus can, will or won’t do and who it will effect.
- We do know what the Lockdown is already doing, will do and who it is going to do it to.
- The Lockdown MUST be brought to an immediate END. Not in part, but in full, allowing people to behave like adults and allowing them the choices of what to do.
If the Government continues to complicate its responses and all that it is doing to manage the COVID-19 Crisis, rather than taking the most simple approach, it will simply continue to create even more problems for the Country and for each of us as individuals.
Yes, people are genuinely concerned about people dying from Coronavirus. But people are dying all of the time. The only thing that is different with COVID-19 is that it is new and the Government – with the help of the media – has sensationalised it and given it celebrity status in many minds.
The only way that this Crisis can be managed for the best interests of the many rather than the few is to end the Lockdown and then manage the symptoms of those who have Coronavirus as and when and where they arise.
The fact that the Government is failing to resource the NHS as it should is not good enough reason for the Lockdown to continue as it is right now.
In the Second World War, Churchill mobilised the British People with brilliant rhetoric that looked reality straight in the eye. When the call went out for metal to build Spitfires and paper to make bullets, everyone did their part. They felt they were making a genuine contribution and had some ownership or investment in everything that was being done.
If the Government were to come clean and stop trying to hide its weaknesses, many more people and their communities would want to help and do their bit.
Some would happily make PPE. Others would be happy to begin working with the NHS.
They cannot do this whilst they and the whole Country are locked down and their freedom to be who they are is being curtailed.
With things as they are, people are understandably more worried about whether their jobs and businesses will continue to exist in a few weeks, rather than getting down to doing what they are all good at and genuinely helping to get this all done.
The following suggestions for ending the Lockdown and getting the UK moving again are taken from my Blog Why it’s time to end the Shutdown & how to let life resume and face whatever happens next and was published on this Blogsite on 6th April 2020:
It’s time for the Shutdown to end now. It’s time for life to restart.
There is no perfect way to plan the fight against Coronavirus, or to put together a strategy for ending the Lockdown, letting life restart and managing cases of Coronavirus either now or thereafter. There are simply too many unknowns and variables within what is a live and evolving Crisis for that ever to be the way.
However, we can ask that the Politicians do their best, and in terms of ending the Lockdown now and getting life back on track, these are some of the key things that they can now do.
Notification of Coronavirus Symptoms
Perhaps the key factor or source of information that the Government needs going forward, is clear and decisive record of who has experienced Coronavirus symptoms – even if no medical intervention has been involved.
- Upon first experiencing Coronavirus symptoms, individuals should be able to Register using their individual identification data on the Government Portal.
- This responsibility to register would become that of parents, carers and guardians for children and vulnerable people
- Nobody should be able to claim Coronavirus Sickness Benefit without having registered first.
- In the first instance and until such time as it is confirmed whether symptoms of Coronavirus could be suffered more than once, individuals would be able to claim only once,
- The data can then be used to distribute the Coronavirus Antibody Test once it is universally available and thereby technically available to all
- On completion of registration, the Government Portal should allocate a unique reference number for every individual to use to claim benefits such as Coronavirus Sick Pay and payment holidays
It will remain essential to keep resources flowing towards the NHS so that it can manage the critical stages of the Coronavirus related illness that some people will inevitable suffer – just as they are now.
Field Hospitals, Intensive Care Units, Ventilator numbers and the recruitment rate of staff will have to continue to rise until the natural infection rate and the number of people it will effect critically at any particular time has been reached.
This will not be long once the restart has begun. But there is likely to be a period of time where it doesn’t look like the NHS can cope and numbers of people are dying who might have been saved, had more resources been in place.
‘Protect the NHS’ is the Trojan horse argument that led to the shutdown as the chosen way to attempt to manage demand in the first place. It’s where the Government went fundamentally wrong.
- Local Trusts should set up Designated Reception Centres, separate to GP Surgeries and Hospital Reception areas used for other purposes
- Local dedicated helplines should be provided to field calls from those with symptoms
- Dedicated Ambulance provision should be put in place for Coronavirus sufferers
- The general emergency Ambulance fleet should be kept separate.
- Serious consideration should be given to requiring benefits claimants to report for duty as healthcare assistants, with full pay, work and training options to be offered after a qualifying or probationary period.
The Restart itself
The way to lift the Lockdown isn’t to try and overcomplicate things by using terms such as calling it ‘gradual’ or ‘taking things in steps’, or anything else that even hints at there being some form of managed delay.
Whilst we might all like to think that the world as we knew it before March could just be switched back on at 9am on Monday morning it won’t happen no matter what we do. The time it will take those businesses still operating to return to full operation will take a lot longer than it took them to shut down. That is before you take into consideration the natural trepidation that many people are going to have as a result of the negativity and scaremongering that has taken place on the part of the media.
Even now, barely a fortnight in to the Lockdown, things will have changed markedly and they will continue to do so each and every day until the new norm for life begins.
People and businesses are going to work differently, travel differently and think differently. So the resumption of participating in everyday life will take time under its own steam, without anyone or anything else being involved.
Social distancing in areas where people are usually in close proximity will be a good measure to retain formally, even though people are likely to keep their distance for some time as it has already become an accepted part of life.
Even if social distancing plays no further active part in dealing with Coronavirus – given that there are very recent suggestions that the Virus can remain active in air for up to three hours – it will help address any social awkwardness that will exist for some people once the Media’s negative messaging campaign is over and done.
- Everyone working who has unable to work because they have caught Coronavirus should be able to rely on having Coronavirus Sick Pay
- The Sick Pay should last a calendar month from the date of registration
- There should not be a laborious process of application involving claims for Universal Credit or applications via Jobcentres or the DWP.
- The Coronavirus sick pay should be claimed on behalf of employees by employers and paid as part of the monthly PAYE process
- The self employed and/or contract workers should be able to claim their sick pay back as part of their next Annual Tax Return.
- The reference number allocated at registration should be used by employers for PAYE purposes and on individual Tax Returns.
Fundamentally, it is essential that every member of the population is treated like an adult, trusted to do the right thing and given no excuse to do otherwise. To support everyone, the Government must ensure that all practical issues people may experience if and when they suffer with Coronavirus has been mitigated against adequately and given added value as an incentive too.
Put simply, if there’s no way people can lose out, they will do the right thing.
- Any individual, their parent, carer or guardian will register Coronavirus Symptoms using the Government Portal
- Upon registration, individuals should be required to immediately self-isolate and remain isolated for a minimum of 14 days
- Upon experiencing escalating symptoms, individuals should report to local NHS designated reception centres or call designated helplines if transport or an ambulance is required
- All domestic bills, rents, leases, loans, interest and debt repayments to stopped for a month as a ‘Payment Holiday’
- Individuals to use the reference number provided when they registered with the Government Portal to confirm they are on a legitimate payment holiday with debtors or those they should normally pay.
- A payment of approx £100 per week to be payable to every individual Registered in the ‘Coronavirus Window’ for a period of four weeks to cover food and essentials
- The vulnerable have to be allowed to make their own decision about the risk, about remaining in isolation, or returning to ‘normal life’. They should not be pressured to go either way.
- Benefits Claimants without medical conditions and unemployed should be tasked with providing the support currently provided by volunteers.
- Businesses of all sizes should be protected from the impact of the Lockdown for the period of time it will take things to return to or find the new normal, once the Lockdown has been lifted.
- Where necessary support should be applied retrospectively to the 23rdof March 2020, if not the point in time before that when levels of business within marketplaces are recognised as having began to decline in response to the early stages of the Coronavirus Crisis.
- All businesses should have a 3-6 months ‘payment holiday’ from rents, leases, mortgages, repayments, interest, debt
- Heavy fines and/or jail terms should be immediately awarded by a District Judge without trial or appeal, to any Creditor, Company, Director or Partner thereof refusing to facilitate the ‘payment holiday’ and/or attempting to recover any related sums using other or additional debt devices or levying additional payments or raising prices relating to that relationship
For the duration of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Government should intervene to ensure that the disposal of bodies is facilitated without delay, without price gouging or profiteering and is provided on the basis of a same-level, community service for all.
- The Government should set a fixed, realistic cost for a ‘standard’ funeral with a transparent minimal fixed margin and no additional payments being made for anything not specified
- The Government should pay the cost of ALL Funerals at the standard rate for the duration of the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Local Authorities should administer the allocation of care of the deceased and funerals to local undertakers on a take-it-in-turns basis
- Local Authorities should administer payments to undertakers and make them immediately
- All funerals should be provided on the same basis and not open to change or being ‘upgraded’ by additional payments from families etc
- Funeral Insurance payouts to either be split with the cost of the standard funeral being returned to the Government and any outstanding balance returned to the family or estate, or simply paid out to the family or estate
Whilst free society needs a free press, the current approach, lack of ethical standards and reliance on dressing up subjective opinion as news requires that Government take a different approach and one that doesn’t play into the system as it is.
- The forward briefing, advance copies of Government speeches and embargoed press releases need to stop.
- Regulation needs to be introduced that requires news to be news, and for the mainstream media to promote the wider concept of the principle of charity in all things, rather than constantly looking for every opportunity to create negative spin.