Now then. Today I am very angry. You would think that at my age I would know better.
I have just watched Matt Hancock on the Tory party PR channel show the first sign of our current Govt folding regarding the COVID-19 crisis. I use the word "crisis" because that is what it actually is. Mr Hancock just said, live to the nation " It's only like having a bad cough". This when having been pressed re the issue of paying those who Self Isolate.
This is where I really should have known better. This was an opportunity for the Govt to say plenty of other things. There is plenty of reason for employers to be encouraged to assist employees in this time of national need. We are not playing games here. It is a time for extreme measures. Mr Hancock chose to try and suggest that its only like having a cough ! Why was the advice to employers not framed along the lines of putting health concerns first ? It is known as "Duty of Care" , that line has evolved over many years. It is a fundamental expectation for everyone to consider others when there may be a risk. Not doing so is actually illegal.
People are dying all over our stricken planet. Current stats indicate over 3K fatalities with over 90,000 cases having been diagnosed officially. All and sundry across the informed agencies have been stating constantly that the worst is yet to come.
Medical professionals have died. Died when having been treating victims of the virus.
Senior political figures have contracted it. NOBODY appears to be immune.
The first duty of any Govt, of any particular political flavour, is to look after and protect its citizens. Given this , why are we NOT hearing any advice to employers to put safety first ? Employers and benefits agencies should be directly instructed to pay anyone who has been ordered to Self Isolate by a clinician from day one. No dithering or denials, just pay them. OK, I know that it is not simple, what could be simple is doing away with this losing of the first Three days. Statutory Sick pay is paltry. Rents are not paltry. Most of those working in jobs where they have constant contact with the public are low paid, maybe even on the Victorian Zero Hours sort of contract. This raises a huge problem for them. Do the right thing or try to survive at a "nearly" reasonable level. The Govt here in the UK has an obvious duty to intervene. Oh, it has intervened, on the side of the employers. How very surprising eh ?
On Sky news they have just had some high flying businessman, the usual forthright and totally self confident individual, state that ONLY one third of business will be affected, that being Entertainment, Retail and Restaurants. He then went on to put forward that such businesses should be given "Emergency Loans". There it is again, no concern, or even mention, of the employee having to make the choice I outlined earlier. Plenty of talk of money. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
Over the weekend we were bombarded with Govt PR re the imminent release of "The Battle Plan" we even heard mention of "The War Room". What has actually happened is nothing. Actually let me correct that, it seems one thing that has transpired is the "Emergency Registration" of retiring medical staff. Contrast this with the sudden Govt realisation that it really is not that bad after all, just a "bad cough". Obviously it is reasonable to take in to account the preparing for the worst scenario. My problem with this, Mr Hancock seems to be under the impression that the longer a nurse has worked for the NHS, the newer they are ! Work there for long enough and you can become a "New Nurse" , why should we take anything he says seriously ?
I am deeply suspicious about anything that comes across the media regarding the Govt. They have ways of handpicking "experts" who they know will push the Govt line whatever the question. Let me illustrate this, we hear constantly about using "hand gels", OK, that is never a bad thing to do. In my 7 yrs working in the NHS I did it constantly. Thing is, hand gel is anti bacterial. COVID-19 is viral. Another Dr on Sky News has just said "masks are useful", maybe to a point. Once damp they harbour germs. At this point they become rather counterproductive. The public is being misled.
I cannot get beyond the way the whole thing is now being downplayed. I genuinely thought that political tribalism would take a back seat for a while. I genuinely thought that some sort of unity would usurp all other concerns. I genuinely expected the Govt to extend a sympathetic hand to employees.
Now I genuinely think that pub chains, restaurants, shops, stores, transport companies, bingo halls, and all the rest will press relentlessly on in pursuit of the last quid. Managers will be pointing out to those in precarious positions that the needs of the business come first and foremost every single time.
Here is a thing. My young son works as a train guard. He is struggling to support his family by working around SEVENTY hours per week. His partner is a nurse. They are sinking, when one has a day off the other is at work. They have a 1 year old son.
Nurse + Train Guard, consider this, how many potentially infected people will they have contact with every single day ? Now, consider this, what would happen if one of them (let alone both) was advised to Self Isolate ? I know what would likely happen, loss of a job, eviction, huge stress placed upon that young family for trying to NOT do the wrong thing. Is it really necessary for it to be like this ?
Battle Plan, one is required, for the endless line of young people living through hell every day even before this "bad cough" thing swept the entire globe. Well, idealistic though it may be, here is my battle plan.
That contract that has been agreed with the Americans for the replacement of Trident (without being run by Parliament) cancel it. Put the money into adequately looking after the potential victims of the "bad cough". Leave retiring medical staff alone - they are retiring for a reason- give the young people of this awful country a chance to prosper.
Where will we be in one month re this ongoing puzzle ? Will it have gone away ? Will the Olympics, Euros, Grands Prix, MotoGPs, all the rest of it be going on in bright summer sunshine ? Will all those young people who soldiered on in the name of corporate profitability be basking in that sunshine ? Or, will it all be rather flat, deserted stadiums,
cancellations, falling stock exchanges, A&E staff falling like ninepins, on and on.
One thing you can count on, money will be made. Not by young families though.
Thanks for looking in. Please help me by spreading this site.
Society not Economy.
Footnote- I have been reliably advised that Hand Gel is most suitable due to this virus being wrapped in a bacterial envelope. My error, based upon advice given when I worked in the NHS 10 years ago, when MRSA was on the rampage.