‘THE GOVERNMENT must be honest about the threat the pandemic still poses,’ the editors of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and Health Service Journal (HSJ) wrote yesterday in a joint editorial, warning that the policy that people must learn to ‘live with Covid’ is the straw breaking the back of the NHS.
In a stark warning, the editors of these two leading medical papers make clear that in the last 50 years there has never been such a crisis in the NHS, with many parts close to ceasing to function effectively and that ‘the heart of the problem is the failure to recognise that the pandemic is far from over and that a return to some of the measures taken in the past two years is needed.’
While the Tory government insisted that 2022 would be the year that Britain fully recovered from the pandemic, the opposite is true. The NHS has experienced two further waves of Covid, and weekly admissions to English hospitals for those testing positive for Covid-19 are greater than those experienced in in 2021 and 2020.
So far this year, admissions average out at just over 9,000. This compares to just under 6,000 in 2021 while the average in 2020 was just under 7,000.
Instead of any recovery from the pandemic leading to a dramatic improvement on waiting times and elective activity in hospitals, the reality is that elective activity is 10% below 2019 levels. Yet despite all this evidence, the article says the Tories are responding to the crisis by pretending that it’s not happening or implying that everything is under control.
The authors point to a speech in the House of Lords last week by the government health spokesman Lord Kammal who repeated the Tory line: ‘We managed to break the link between infections and hospitalisations and hospitalisations and death.’
The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that just under 24,000 deaths ‘involving Covid’ occurred in the first six months of 2022.
The latest statistics show that 3.7 million people across the UK are infected, with one-in-16 carrying the virus in the worst hit areas.
Last week, Susan Michie from the scientific advisory group SAGE, made the same point that the Tory policy is to ‘shut your eyes and let it rip’. She warned that urgent action is needed to stop huge numbers of unnecessary deaths and hospitalisations as new, highly infectious variants spread across the country.
In February this year, Boris Johnson abolished all remaining Covid restrictions, and told people to stop working from home and return to work.
Compulsory mask wearing was ended along with free Covid testing kits, with Johnson declaring a ‘Freedom Day’ from Covid.
The policy of the Tories from day one of the pandemic was precisely to let it rip and force workers to ‘live with Covid’ or increasingly learn to die with Covid, as the legal requirement for people testing positive to self-isolate was abolished.
Freedom Day for Johnson and the ruling class was the day when British capitalism could throw off any restrictions, throwing open the economy in complete disregard for the lives of workers.
The authors of the article call for a return to some of the measures taken in the past, such as advising mask-wearing in crowded places, ensuring good ventilation, re-introducing free testing and pushing the vaccination programme and, above all, come clean with the public about the ongoing pandemic that has already cost over 200,000 lives with no sign of abating.
The Tories, whoever they choose as leader, will never ‘come clean’ with the public or reintroduce even these modest levels of protection let alone follow the example of China, which is organising lockdowns with no loss of wages or jobs in every city and region to contain and eventually eradicate coronavirus.
With the NHS facing its most acute crisis and thousands of lives being sacrificed for profit, the only answer is to demand the trade unions take action by organising a general strike to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.
Only a socialist society can mobilise the full resources of a workers’ state to implement the steps necessary to defeat coronavirus.