`Trust Me – I’m the Health Secretary’

Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA

I found Antoinette crying today. It takes a lot to make her cry but she is in a great deal of pain from the scarring and nerve pain caused by her surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer. The physiotherapist who works at the local hospital wants to help but she is not allowed to see Antoinette and has been sent home because the hospital is pretty well closed. And so the suffering goes on. The physiotherapist did email some exercises for Antoinette to do herself. I wonder if hospitals are emailing details of how to perform your own brain surgery with a fish slice and a soup spoon. Or, maybe, how to build your own radiotherapy machine using a toaster and a hairdryer.

Yesterday, the UK’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, warned that cancer treatment has come to a juddering halt.

Hancock said that the number of patients visiting their GPs with cancer symptoms was dropping sharply. Referrals by GPs for suspected cancer fell by up to 70% last month.

And whose fault is that?

It’s partly the Government’s fault for putting all its energy into dealing with the flu bug.

But it is also the fault of the medical profession which is too busy slapping itself on the back for its courage in doing its job to give a damn about the fact that health care in the UK is now a pitiful joke.

There is absolutely no doubt that the eventual number of genuine coronavirus deaths will be dwarfed by the collateral and entirely avoidable deaths resulting from the effective closure of the NHS as it concentrates all its resources on a single infection.

There are two stories in the papers today which show just how incompetently the Government is handling its created crisis.

First, the Government has admitted that 100,000 people are flying into Britain each week. None of them is screened to see if they are bringing the allegedly lethal infection with them. This would make no sense if the Government’s claim that this is a major crisis were true. The official policy seems to be that the Government might consider planning to think about testing and isolating people coming into the country at some time in the future.

Second, a scientist working for the Government has said that staff employed to analyse tests for the coronavirus have so little work to do that they are being sent home at noon. Working in a laboratory capable of analysing 30,000 samples a day the scientist said they had processed just 1,000 samples in a day. Hancock, the Health Secretary who claimed that we would be testing huge swathes of the population – at one point he promised that we would be testing 100,000 people a day – should be embarrassed. However, I doubt if that is a quality found much among ministers these days.

Copyright Vernon Coleman April 19th 2020