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  • Writer's pictureLauren Dingsdale

The Blame Game

In times of crisis - people can either pull together, or tear each other apart. The COVID-19 crisis has shown elements of both. Heartwarming scenes of people clapping the NHS are placed against a backdrop of social media vitriol aimed at those (often without gardens) who have stepped outside for some fresh air. Some people are dropping essential supplies onto the doorsteps of self-isolating neighbours, whilst others stood behind twitching curtains are making a note of those who seemed to have been out more than once in a 24 hour period.


Don't get me wrong - we must all take this seriously, and do our utmost to stay indoors as far as is feasible to reduce the spread of the pandemic and ease the pressure on our NHS. But there is no doubt that it suits those in charge for us to turn on each other. For as long as we are judging Sandra for taking her dog out for two walks yesterday - our focus is not on the embarrassingly small amount of testing that the UK is doing compared to other G7 nations. Whilst judging those crammed into carriages on the London Underground, we are not questioning whether a decade of under-investment into our NHS is affecting the effectiveness of treatment. And let's face it - there were many reasons Matt Hancock tried to direct attention towards footballer salaries over the weekend - not least to try to make us ignore the fact that we have hospital and care-home staff still working without adequate PPE.


Whilst it is incredibly frustrating to watch politicians play political games and point score (particularly in times of crisis) - we cannot ignore that the NHS is, by its very nature, political. Our cradle-to-crave, free at the point of use health service has always been political. From its creation in 1948, to the 2012 Health and Social Care Act - the decisions politicians make shape what the health service looks like, determines the resources it has at its disposal and ultimately affects how effective it can be in times of crisis. The simple fact is, we would have been in a much better position to take on this virus if we'd had adequate doctors, nurses and ICU beds.


Keir Starmer was taking the right tack this weekend when he pledged not to score political points over the crisis. To do so would be irresponsible. However, we do also need to shine a light on the decade of neglect that the NHS has suffered under the Tories. When we clap our carers on Thursday nights - we must remember to support them when this is all over - demand that they receive better pay and better resources. We must insist on real answers as to why we did not join in the EU procurement for ventilators; why we are asking footballers to put their hands in their pockets and not billionaires who also happen to be Tory donors; and why our NHS staff still don't have adequate PPE when the first transmission in the UK was confirmed in February?


The lockdown is difficult for everyone, for a variety of different reasons. If we all manage to reduce social contact and stay indoors as much as possible - we will be able to return to normal life much more quickly. But when looking at where to lay the blame for the effect that this crisis has our NHS, on our economy and on our way of life, let's not turn on each other. That makes things far too easy for those who are actually pulling the strings.



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