2021-06-02 13:21:57 UTC
Back at the start of the first lockdown, all those aeons ago, a doctor
gave me a piece of advice. “Don’t get ill, Allison,” he said.
“But I’m not really at risk from Covid, am I?”
“Forget about Covid,” he said, “Just don’t get ill from anything else
for a year or two.”
I thought he was joking. I didn’t know. Well, I do now.
If you didn’t have the virus, good luck with getting hospital treatment.
The plunge in the number of urgent referrals from primary care belies
the outrageous, backside-covering claim by GPs’ leaders that all their
members were fully available for patients. They so weren’t. Yet, as the
fog of pandemic panic lifts and the scale of devastation becomes clear,
the main thing is that no blame must attach to our sainted NHS. It’s the
patients’ fault, you see.
I can guarantee I won’t have been the only one to react with spluttering
disbelief to a story in this newspaper which began: “Cancer patients who
decided not to seek treatment during lockdown are now overwhelming
emergency units at hospitals across the country.”
Decided? What sort of decision would that be, then?
Presumably it went something like this: “I had this funny spot on my
neck back in May last year and I sent a picture to my GP, like he asked
me to. He said it was fine and prescribed me some steroid cream. It
didn’t get any better, actually it got really nasty, but I decided not
to have it seen. Well, actually, I couldn’t because no doctor would
offer me a face-to-face appointment. Last week, I finally went to A&E,
in despair because the spot was bulbous and bleeding, and they said I
needed a scan. Turns out it’s melanoma and it’s spread everywhere. They
say I can have palliative care. Which means I’m going to die, doesn’t
it? Because I ‘decided’ not to seek treatment.”
Is this really the disingenuous, nothing-to-do-with-us-guv line that the
NHS intends to take as tens of thousands of advanced cancers come to
light? The Government requisitioned private hospitals at a cost of
£2billion, but clueless NHS managers barely got their act together to
use them for non-Covid patients. Many radiography and radiotherapy
departments were off limits for 12 months but, apparently, it’s the
British people who are at fault for overwhelming A&E today, with their
wretched tumours and their annoying pain.
According to Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, this
“striking” surge in non-Covid patients means some hospital trusts are
already at 97 per cent capacity and may struggle to cope with a rise in
virus cases if the full lifting of restrictions goes ahead on June 21.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is under mounting pressure from scientists
to postpone Freedom Day because of the allegedly worrying advance of the
Indian variant, with one respiratory consultant painting an apocalyptic
picture of “mini Covid volcanoes erupting at hospitals around the
country, which are threatening to explode”.
Here we go, all aboard the Excuses Roundabout. Because lockdown created
a healthcare disaster, the NHS is in danger of not coping, so we need
more lockdown to protect the NHS. Can anyone spot the flaw in this
If we follow Mr Hopson’s reasoning, and that of sundry academics who are
eagerly buying shares in a third wave, the Government should endlessly
defer the lifting of lockdown. Just in case a few unvaccinated people
who get sick with Covid need to go to hospital, which will be a problem,
because the hospital will be nearly full with all the people who
couldn’t get treated during the first lockdown. Have you got that, Marjorie?
One hesitates to use anything as crazy as reason or facts to counter
this self-serving scaremongering, but here goes. The Indian variant may
be more transmissible, but is no more lethal than its predecessors.
Yesterday, there were zero Covid deaths in the UK, compared to a typical
daily death toll from cancer of 450; tragically, that number will soon
be much higher because of medical neglect during lockdown.
Hospital occupancy is perfectly normal for the time of year. Covid
patients are taking up only one per cent of all beds, and that number
continues its steady decline.
As for those “mini Covid volcanoes erupting at hospitals around the
country”, in the so-called “hotspots”, numbers are still low. There have
been minor increases in virus patients in Blackburn and Bedford
hospitals in the past few days, but Bolton, previously the
worst-affected, is starting to tick down. Those in the 35-to-44 age
group make up the bulk of admissions and they don’t tend to get as sick.
If it’s mainly young people who are now getting Covid, as the scientists
shriek, that’s encouraging; they are far less at harm from the virus and
will build up valuable immunity to protect any unvaccinated elders.
So there is no cause for concern, no sign of that Third Wave. There is
certainly no reason for the PM to postpone the lifting of all
restrictions on June 21.
What a devastating blow to national morale that would be. While fretting
over rising “cases” (meaningless, unless accompanied by actual
symptoms), some scientists have shown a horrifying disregard for the
collateral damage to people’s health and well-being.
“We need to stop obsessing about June 21 and start worrying about where
we are ‘now’ and how we can get cases down,” tweeted Professor Christina
Pagel, a health research mathematician. On the contrary, Professor. You
need to stop obsessing about phantasmal cases and start worrying about
the real people who are going to die as a consequence of your beloved
Here’s what Linda, who works in an oncology unit, wrote to me: “I work
in PET/CT imaging. Before the pandemic, we’d get patients with newly
diagnosed cancers and we’d scan to see how far the cancer had spread.
Most were in the early stages. We’re now getting an increasing number of
patients who were unable to access GP care and are presenting with
advanced cancers. Some with moles that, with no face-to-face
consultations, had been prescribed steroid creams and they’ve turned out
to be melanomas. We also have people whose treatment was stopped during
lockdown and we’re rescanning them before they resume treatments and
their cancer has spread. This means more aggressive treatment with more
side-effects. Unfortunately, frontline workers like me are afraid to
While the NHS panjandrums fret about how to protect their service from
its patients, while the scientists demand just a few more
weeks/months/years of masks and social distancing, it’s people like
Linda who are staring catastrophe in the face.
Yes, it’s true, there are mini-volcanoes erupting at hospitals around
the country, but not because of Covid. From Orthopaedics to Oncology,
there is a state of national emergency. I pray that Boris holds his
nerve and lifts all restrictions on June 21. How much more evidence does
it take? It’s lockdown that will be the death of us.
I am sick of protecting the NHS; let the NHS do its job and protect the