Public scrutiny of lockdown exit strategy

The Government must publish its “exit strategy” for easing the “lock down” for public scrutiny to avoid repeating past mistakes and ensure that when the time comes it is ready and it does not overlook anything or anyone.

For example as a former Director of Social Services and Non-Executive Director of an NHS Trust it is difficult to understand why older people are being left to die of coronavirus in Care Homes and not being admitted to hospital? People in Care Homes are just as in need of, and entitled to, hospital care as anyone else.

It is bad enough that they are not being included in the daily statistics, as though they don’t count, but of more concern if they are being denied the care that might save their lives. Care Homes do not have ventilators or intensive care units.

The Government’s strategy is to “shield” the most vulnerable and yet home carers are going from house to house without PPE (masks, goggles, gloves and gowns) risking spreading the virus or catching it themselves.

Despite having had at least three months’ notice, and advice from the World Health Organisation, the Government was slow in building up its capacity for testing, failed to close its borders and late in introducing “social distancing”. People are still coming into the Country via our major airports without having their temperatures taken at passport control and if need be quarantined.

South Korea has shown just what could have been achieved by the early closure of our borders, testing, tracing and isolating contacts, and introducing early “lock down”. 

That not enough foresight was applied in January to get enough PPE for the NHS, care homes, home carers, and supermarket staff, not to mention availability of masks for the public, when people in China were seen wearing them on every television newscast is incomprehensible.

The UK Government has bought 3.5million serology tests although there is still no proof that one cannot get the virus a second time. The Government has further implied that this is to allow those who have built up immunity to return to work: but not said which 3.5million of the 68million people in the UK are to be tested, 

Until the Government publishes its “exit strategy”, for easing the “lockdown”, it is not clear as to how this step fits into the wider picture and conjures up recollections of the catastrophic “herd immunity” concept, which could have cost 250,000 lives.

What is to happen to those who have not had coronavirus or built up immunity, as a vaccine is a long way off, particularly the many thousands of the most vulnerable people who will still be being “shielded” in their own homes at this time. Are they to remain confined to their homes until they get it and either recover or die? 

This is why the Government’s exit strategy must be subject of public scrutiny.

* Chris Perry is a former Director of Social Services who for the past twelve years has been presenting a weekly current affairs / campaigning programme on Express FM between October and Easter.