There is one thing that I am sure that almost every single person in this country can agree on. When, in March and April, we were locked down during the first wave of covid-19, there were very few people who expected that by the time that winter rolled around, we would be experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. Every single winter, for as long as I can remember, the NHS has experienced a winter crisis caused by a rise in respiratory diseases that comes with the colder weather.
The NHS is always strained over these winter months, it’s a sad indictment of the just-in-time style of hospital treatment that we operate on. Comparative to many nations in Europe we have a woefully low number of hospital and ICU beds per 100,000 people and our ICU’s run at 90-95% capacity even at the best of times. What is criminally negligent, is that our ICU capacity was not increased throughout the summer.
If this lockdown is all about protecting the NHS, then why, for the love of God, did we not prepare the NHS for this inevitable winter spike. I cannot even begin to fathom the reasons for not preparing adequately. Why, when cases were low, when we had no vaccine coming or fully effective treatment, did we not choose to put some sort of buffer between the NHS and a rise in cases. There has been no expansion of ICU capacity, none whatsoever.
The WHO Special Envoy on Covid-19, Dr David Nabarro, told Andrew Neil: ‘We really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method… The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.” Note the words “rather not do it” as opposed to “should not do it” or “will not do it.”
What is clear, regardless of your thoughts on the effectiveness of lockdowns, is that the government have completely and utterly failed to prepare for a second wave. In every way possible. They failed to prepare the public for cases to rise naturally as we enter winter, to prepare hospitals for a winter in which the NHS would have already been overwhelmed without covid-19, or to prepare any form of real economic aid for the people and businesses that they are pushing to the very limit of their finances.
This is criminal negligence and their new push for a second lockdown, along with all it’s associated economic damages (which will impact NHS and welfare funding in the long-term) and mental health implications, means that what happens as a result of this lockdown lies at the feet of this government. Their lack of preparation is either due to a stunning lack of competence and foresight or a desire to continue to use these lockdowns to gleefully exercise more arbitrary power than any peacetime government we have ever seen in Britain.
Set aside the economic, human, and mental health costs of a second lockdown or the debate as to whether we should lock down or not. The government is abhorrently unprepared and we should not forget this.