RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: The Covid doomsters are coming out for Easter

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: The sun’s coming out for Easter – and so are the Covid doomsters… Roll up, roll up, for the pandemic that never ends

Here we go again. With a mini-heatwave forecast for the holiday weekend, along come the professional merchants of doom to rain on our Easter parade.

The NHS Confederation is calling for the return of compulsory mask-wearing and new restrictions on mixing indoors.

Roll up, roll up, my friends, for the pandemic that never ends.

Matthew Taylor, the confederation’s chief executive, told the BBC, who lapped it up, that ‘mitigating actions’ were needed to fight ‘record infection’ rates.

Matthew Taylor, the confederation’s chief executive, told the BBC, who lapped it up, that ‘mitigating actions’ were needed to fight ‘record infection’ rates

‘The brutal reality for staff and patients is that this Easter in the NHS is a bad as any winter,’ he said.

And, guess what, it’s all the Government’s fault for recklessly lifting Covid regulations. As a result, millions are being told to stay away from hospitals unless they are actually dying.

Ambulance services are allegedly so overstretched that emergency cases are having to make their own way to A&E.

Beleaguered NHS staff have been falling like flies ever since mass testing was scrapped and people were left to decide for themselves if they were well enough to go to work.

(Outside the public sector, this is widely known as ‘throwing a sickie’.)

Taylor said: ‘We have a Government that seems to want to wash its hands of responsibility for what is occurring in plain sight. NHS leaders and their teams feel abandoned by the Government.’ 

He is calling for another expensive public information campaign to remind people of their duty to ‘Protect The NHS’.

We’re back in deep ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’ territory here.

In the Looking Glass world of the NHS, figures prove whatever they want them to prove.

The number of infections and hospital admissions may be up, but deaths from Covid have fallen dramatically, compared with a year ago. Even then, the figures were deliberately inflated by those with a vested interest in keeping the pandemic going.

And they’re still at it. Half of ‘Covid’ patients in hospital now are primarily being treated for other reasons, such as a broken leg.

The truth is that most triple-vaccinated people who contract the Omicron variant will experience little worse than a nasty cold.

If our soon-to-be 96-year-old Queen can shake it off, the rest of us will probably survive it, too, unless we have serious underlying conditions.

Boris Johnson said on TV recently that he ‘couldn’t rule out’ another lockdown if children started to become infected. Above, people socialise this Easter

One statistic the NHS Confederation isn’t so keen on bandying around is that thousands of people who have died from Covid actually caught it after being admitted to hospital with something else.

That’s because this is primarily about preserving the myth that the NHS is the envy of the world and is being starved of love and money by the heartless Tories.

Always look at the messenger before swallowing the message. Take Matthew Taylor, for instance, the NHS Confederation chief executive. A grand title which makes him sound like a life-long health service professional.

The ‘brutal truth’, as he would put it, is that Taylor is a longtime Labour Party hack, a failed parliamentary candidate who was head of Tory Blair’s policy unit and ran the so-called Rapid Rebuttal unit designed to expose Tory ‘lies’.

He helped write the 1997 ‘24 Hours To Save The NHS’ manifesto and eventually became the party’s assistant general secretary.

So when he lays the blame for neglecting the NHS at the feet of the Conservatives, you can take it with a shovel-load of Maldon’s finest.

His latest outburst is primarily designed to distract attention from the manifest failings of the complacent, self-serving Soviet-style bureaucracy which runs the health service.

While we may applaud the dedication of medical and ancilliary staff, particularly during the pandemic, we shouldn’t blind ourselves to the appalling mismanagement and waste which blights the NHS.

It is the feather-bedded, overmanned boss class represented by Taylor’s outfit which is responsible. If patients are being turned away from hospitals and having to make their own way to A&E, it’s their job to fix it, not constantly carp about being ‘underfunded’. That’s what they are paid handsomely for.

Especially when by 2024, the NHS will consume 44p of every pound of taxpayers’ money this ‘heartless’ Tory Government spends on public services.

Does anyone really still buy the ‘envy of the world’ nonsense in light of the litany of preventable NHS scandals?

I’m sure I don’t have to list them all, from Alder Hey and Mid Staffs to the doctrinaire obsession with ‘natural childbirth’, which was blamed for the deaths of 200 babies and nine mothers in Shrewsbury and Telford.

At the weekend it was revealed that babies’ lives are still being put at risk because maternity units are unsafe, despite years of warnings from families.

Out of 193 maternity services in England, 80 are rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission. These are serious matters of life or death. But they’re not the only way in which the NHS is found wanting.

I repeat, doctors, nurses, orderlies and cleaners performed beyond the call of duty during the pandemic. But far too often the NHS gives the impression that it would be a great place to work if it wasn’t for patients getting in the way.

The problems of getting a face-to-face GP appointment are well documented.

During the pandemic, doctors were content to hide behind their computers. And surgeries are still using Covid as an excuse for not returning to normal.

After my wife was told recently she couldn’t even speak to her NHS GP on the phone about an urgent prescription issue for at least two weeks, I was struck by a letter that appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday. 

Beleaguered NHS staff have been falling like flies ever since mass testing was scrapped and people were left to decide for themselves if they were well enough to go to work

It came from Lee Brown, from Hyde, Cheshire, who turned up early for a pre-arranged appointment with his doctor. The receptionist asked him to sit in the deserted waiting room.

‘A few minutes later she came over to tell me the appointment was by telephone and the doctor would ring me in five minutes.

‘I left the surgery and a few minutes later I spoke to the doctor while I sat in my car, less than 20 yards away. If that’s not ridiculous, I don’t know what is.’

You couldn’t make it up.

A glaring, if absurd, example of the NHS being run for the benefit of the staff, not the paying public. Far more serious was the news that one in eight hospitals is still refusing to allow families to visit patients, despite official guidance to relax the rules.

Yet again, the excuse is ‘because of Covid’. Some hospital wards and, particularly, care homes have become virtual prisons.

This had particular personal resonance. As regular readers will know, my mum recently died aged 93 in hospital in Michigan, where she lived. Fortunately, I was able to get there in time to say our goodbyes.

My best friend’s mother, happily still with us, was born within a week of Mum. She’s in a care home in Scotland, but my friend had been unable to visit her for weeks because of strict Covid rules. One positive test and the whole place has to go into lockdown again.

What has the world come to when it is easier for me to travel 3,700 miles to Detroit to see my mother in hospital than it was for him to visit his own mum three miles down the road?

And all because the jobsworths who run the NHS, both in Scotland and the rest of the UK, carelessly and fatally decanted patients from Covid wards into care homes at the start of the pandemic, and now want to cover their backsides at all costs.

Yet we go on kidding ourselves our health system is the best in the world. No wonder the NHS Confederation is trying to scare us into masking-up again and keeping our distance. Anything rather than face up to their own culpability.

Boris Johnson said on TV recently that he ‘couldn’t rule out’ another lockdown if children started to become infected.

He couldn’t have said otherwise, to be fair, given that he’d be accused of killing bay-bees by the merchants of doom. 

Let’s hope he has the fortitude to resist their cynical scaremongering. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate . . .

Roll up, roll up, my friends, for the pandemic which never ends.

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