The role of Public Health England

Public Health England set  out the strategy for handling this pandemic in a document published on 3 March as the “Coronavirus Action Plan”. So far Ministers have followed it.

This body conducts important research into disease, is advised by a scientific advisory committee, and spends £4.25 bn a year. It is run by an Executive team with six people paid more than £200,000 last year including pension benefits.

Its last Report and Accounts to June 2019 says on its cover that the organisation is “credible, independent and ambitious”.  On page 4 it states the aims of the organisation:

“PHE exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health PHE exists to protect…” (sic)

If you read on you discover it also exists to reduce health inequalities, but  missed out the crucial last word in  the first iteration of aims. Credibility and ambition do not it appears extend to proof reading a formal annual publication before going to press and putting it on the web.

Last year the body wrote off  £207 million  “in relation to counter measures held for emergency preparedness and vaccines past their shelf life”. It had also written off money the year before in the same way.  Some of this is inevitable when you are holding supplies for a purpose you hope does not  materialise which then deteriorate in store.

On 3 March PHE told us that we “have planned extensively over the years for an event like this, and the UK is well prepared to respond in a way that offers substantial protection to the population”. The Agencies that have to respond are properly resourced with “people, equipment and medicines they need”. “The UK maintains strategic stockpiles of the most important medicines and protective equipment for healthcare staff.” Do you agree?  Tomorrow I will look at the evolving strategy.

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179 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    My thoughts are with Boris.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      Me too – the country needs him. The Commons is still stuffed with far too many dire, EUphile, climate alarmists, pushers of big government essentially LibDims or appalling socialists – many are “Conservative” MPs.

      • Hope
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Guido today highlights how Bristol NHS advertising diversity and inclusion manager £44-50,000. The cost of two nurses!

        Get a grip this nonsense is not needed. £34 billion should not just be handed over to the NHS without radical reform for useless jobs like these. We need doctors, nurses, anethatists, radiologists and health care professionals and cleaners. No more layers of over paid managers, and certainly not not over paid left wing virtue signallers! Tory Givt get. Grip. Where is Hancock’s true leadership when it is required?

        • Hope
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          Cameron, Lansley and Hunt step forward to explain why you let the nation down. Explain why the PHE quango was required when your govt promised a bonfire of quangos not to increase to add a layer of pointless bureaucracy and stuff with left politics.

          After all at the time the country was in Tory austerity and the money used could have provided doctors and nurses to ease the burden on society of your mass immigration policy.

          The public was crying out for better public services as we were overwhelmed with immigration. Swivelled eyed loons racists were the govt response under Cameron.

          JR,
          1. Which Tory minister(s) will be held to account for the inception of PHE disaster when the country was in austerity,
          2. Letting in people by the plane load from virus hotspot countries to infect us knowing there is no cure and people would die from it?
          3. In stark contrast to point 2, why place us under house arrest?
          4. Why let out 4,000 prisoners against govt health advice on TV and treat prisoners better than law abiding citizens?

        • rose
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          Bristol is the Red City of Remainia, with a Red Council, Red Mayor, and four Red MPs. If its complexion ever changes, it will be to Green.

          Bristol was in the van of wokiness back in the 1970s.

        • Hope
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          JR, it is reported countries around Europe will start to unwind their respective lockdowns next week. Will border controls be put in place so the strategy not to overwhelm the NHS?

          No border controls so far flying in the face of the alleged strategy and putting us under house arrest, with thousands flying in from virus hotspots.

          If there is no world coordination then border controls seem inevitable to meet strategy objectives does it not?

          Finally, will there be a ban on Chinese people entering the country from China? The Chinese govt cannot be believed or trusted so a ban on its people seems reasonable.
          The truth please.

  2. Sinday
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    We are facing the biggest public health crisis in centuries and all you want to do is snipe at the public secror. As ever with the Conservativesr, ideology first, people’s lives last.

    • Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      Sinday. If the UK is to rely on PHE, then PHE needs to be fit for purpose.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        wise words

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      You crazy person, John’s party is taking constant flack for being unprepared, daily the BBC and C4 news in particular are sniping, last night C4 news (I really wish this wasn’t the main news program at 7pm when I sit down to watch the news) was a hatchet job, that main presenter is so anti conservative.

      We had the shadow woman in her bedroom taking credit for Rishi’s 80% wage bailout and self-employed bail out, then they interviewed yesterdays man Blair, then we had Starmer saying this government wasn’t prepared on vaccines. Get real Sinday – there are other people in this chain any government would be relying on with the expertise, planning and stores and if this turned out to be ineffective then John is correct to hold them to account.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      So you want the same fiasco in the next emergency. Analysis and removal of deadwood is all part of progress and moving forward. We need May and co. to answer as to why the Cygnus report was buried. Meanwhile much time and effort was spent on “Equality and diversity”. Well, finally were all equal in the face of the virus. Prince and pauper are equally susceptible, though it seems men and women aren’t. I guess there’ll be an enquiry about that?

      Did they hope to be long gone from office by the time this time bomb exploded?

    • Stred
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately, it is people’s lives that suffer when vaccines are not ordered in time and they are not available, becoming redundant at the end of the flu season. This and other medical errors cost the amounts wasted and shown in the accounts. When a government agency is staffed by very highly paid people who are primarily interested in equality of outcomes, diversity management and then can’t manage to distribute stocks of protection equipment, staff and patients suffer.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        more wise words

    • formula57
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      @ Sinday – We are facing the biggest public health crisis in centuries and all you want to do is shield the public sector from reasonable scrutiny even while there is evidence of its serious failures that might yet be corrected.

    • Hope
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      No JR is rightly highlighting objective for existence against performance and delivery. The EA failed in January and February, where looking at its budget figures spends far more on staff costs and pensions than structural projects to fulfil its aims. The public now paying twice, once in community charge for the local authority and through taxation for the EA. LA had responsibility before this left wing quango came into existence which implemented EU regs to cause people’s homes to flood. Namely their purpose and actions in stark to to help people from having their homes flooded.

      PHE, like all public sector bodies, are required by law under Civil Contingency Act to hold exercises to test their ability for all types of emergencies. This virus confirms how badly prepared PHE was and how useless its response was. What we do not know is how much direction the govt gave it to change i.e. Use private companies to source equipment etc.

      Either way, both shown by recent disasters they provide little or no real value to the public and their costs (billions) do not justify existence in current form. The heads of each should as a matter of decency resign. But like most left wing organisations it will be everyones fault not theirs.

    • Deborah Clark
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      One wonders why anyone would not want to question the management and approach of a body that has spent £4.5bn a year of taxpayers’ money to “protect public health” yet has failed so comprehensively to prepare for a long anticipated pandemic, and as a result left hundreds of thousands of people – including the doctors and nurses – serious risk.
      Who would wish to avoid those questions and hide the failure under the carpet?

      I hope that Boris has a speedy and full recovery.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      It is a fair enough observation that there are a number of people on the public sector payroll who have been paid very well over the years to prepare plans for events such as these, and they are no doubt still getting paid.

      A review of their performance, and how the public sector tolerates poor performance (its far from the only example) is long overdue.

      A lot of decisions are being made under the cover of the smokescreen of this crisis, and they too should be reviewed by the political process as soon as is practical.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      PHE is a left wing Qango like many other departments. Most spend the majority of their budget on staff costs and advisers. Ultimately they are not fit for purpose when put to the test.
      EA is another remarkable example along with Ofcom and Ofgem to name a few. Time to drain the swamp as the Donald would say.

      • Data Please
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        I’d like to add the Electoral Commission to that undistinguished list.

        • Graham Wheatley
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          And the Brussels Fraudcasting Corporation.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 6:02 am | Permalink

        top of list should be financial ombudsman service, followed by info commissioners office.

    • Mark B
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      We are facing the biggest public health crisis in centuries . . .

      Yes, Spanish Flu (1918-1920) was small beer compared to CV19, wasn’t it ?

      Shouldn’t you be out hording all the toilet rolls and getting ready for your 8pm clap-fest ?

      /sarc

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      I have commended John on this site, for including comments opposed to his own ideology, and for having the confidence to do so.

      However, I’m wondering if his confidence in that has taken a knock from the pandemic, and the associated changes in people’s perceptions.

      I have tried, without success, to post a couple of times, to the effect that arguing over whether this or that national agency is up to the job, or to blame for such-and-such a problem is missing the point.

      All of these disparate entities operate under the constraints of the economic doctrine often described by Continentals – perhaps wrongly – as the Anglo-Saxon Socio-Economic model.

      If your house is made of straw then it will easily burn down. Arguments over the who was careless with matches, or who left the gas lit are missing the point.

      The model is inherently unprepared for unforeseen emergencies.

      Reply I am rationing you because you seek to post too many times a day

      • Libertarian
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        Martin

        OH HOW WRONG CAN YOU BE ?

        ALL of these institutions are in the fully state/taxpayer funded public sector, its because they DON’T operate outside that contributes to making them so useless. Its the fact that they are large , centralised beaurcracies that makes them so inefficient ( As an example see the news today that the EU parliament/commission can only handle one video conference at a time) .

        To use your analogy if you only have one house then you are at the merry of fortune, however in a free market with many houses to choose from , the loss of one is no biggie , which for instance is why we DON’T need to bail out individual airlines .We have been shown what Martys desired full socialism looks like in practice , anyone still spouting socialist drivel at the end of this needs to give their head a wobble

        Meanwhile here in France , we’ve entered a full recession with the largest quarter fall in GDP ( 6%) since 1945

        The EU has proved what many of us knew already , one giant centralised , top heavy bureaucracy is totally useless for running anything in an emergency and is only good for passing poorly thought out, restrictive, uncompetitive regulations ( now you know why China manufactures most of the worlds goods) . Thankfully the EU will not survive . Its days are over

      • czerwonadupa
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

        If this tiny island builds up & pays for the biggest workforce in the world bar the Chinese Red Army & Indian Railways, pays out £2.3 billion in compensation claims, with a projected £83 billion for future pay outs in years & decades to come, overspending by £4.3 billion, owing £7.4 billion. And this is without counting the billions having to be paid out in interest for PFI introduced by John Major but supercharged by Brown & Blair in ’97 then you might, if your rational, understand the chickens will come home to roost one day but hopefully (like Blair & Brown) not on their watch

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Not to have had a plan so as to be able to rapidly manufacture PPE, ventilators, testing kit and other such medical equipment locally and fairly rapidly, in the event of such a pandemic, is surely gross and appalling negligence. Also to be able to train up staff to make and operate this equipment quickly. We have had more than two months to do this after all.

    This could all have been done by one or two decent production engineers and an ICU specialists for perhaps just £5 million or so (1/20,000 of the cost of HS2). All that was needed was some existing designs, a bit of tooling and storage perhaps of a few key components or tools to make these parts rapidly. So why was it not done?

    Some may say this is easy to say in hindsight but it was entirely predictable. Anyone sensible tasked with planning for a pandemic should have seen it. It is just as predictable as needing to make ammunitions and weapons locally when faced with a war situation.

    Why too did they censor the results of Exercise Cygnus? What was the point of these expensive exercises if they just bury the outcomes and learn or plan almost nothing? What have Theresa May, Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd and especially Jeremy Hunt got to say about this gross and abject failure of government?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      What have the heads of NHS England and the CEO of the NHS (now and at the time of the Cygnus exercise) have to say about these abject and basic failings?

      Nothing I suppose.

      • Data Please
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        My understanding is that they’re at their Country Estates currently concerned over the lack of foresight by those they control to have acquired sufficent Foie Gras and 1853 Smith Woodhouse Vintage Port to withstand the lockdown.

        Rumours are circulating that following an intial request for comment on the public stock piling due to food shortage scares their response was:
        “Let Them Eat Cake”

        Unsubstantiated claims are intimating that when asked to devote their considerable expertise to identifying the Exit Strategy from this Blind Lockdown Strategy their response was that it would most likely be based on when the stocks of the afore mentioned Vintage Port descended to critical levels.

        However, I believe the source of the outrageous rumour mongering and lack of unquestioning deference to our Superiors above is Mad Comic.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Indeed, three recent graduates (one maths, one engineering and one medical) could have analysed the potential issues and proposed solutions, but equally cloth eared Mayites wouldn’t have listened. We have a real problem in this country with promoting the great and good who work on an emotional level in preference to analysts and rational folk, who are decried by the establishment as “off the wall”. Now, this is costing lives.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Indeed we have the same emotion over reason and science lunacy with the war on CO2 plant food and expensive energy, subsidised renewables agenda.

    • Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Yes. That compounded by their anti private sector hatred has contributed to this nightmare.

      If only we had a way of making politicians aware of how bloody angry we are, except the pathetic ballot box every few years when our choice is least worst.

      I favour the stocks. I will have my cabbages ready.

      • Data Please
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        If I was you I’d keep them cabbages, they may yet prove to come in handy.

        However, the by-product of their consumption may be an appropriate alternative.

    • Ed M
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Great comment

    • Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      “Anyone sensible tasked with planning for a pandemic should have seen it.”

      Maybe they don’t watch the Netflix documentary “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak”.

      A new Spanish Flu type pandemic has been widely predicted since VARS, Swine Flu and Ebola outbreaks.

      PHE have been asleep at the wheel.

      Their total job security leads to the apathy that pervades in the public sector.

  4. DOMINIC
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    The job of the PHE is to protect their own vested interest and to protect and the vested interest that is the NHS.

    The public sector ethos is built on a hatred of the private sector though of course those who enjoy the protected and substantial benefits of such a personally beneficial financial relationship work hard to conceal their own profiteering. The PHE demonstrate this perfectly

    The PHE’s refusal to allow testing of CV-19 in private labs is evidence of public sector arrogance, stupidity and ignorance that they would act in this manner out of cultural spite

    Keep telling yourself that we’ve had a Tory government since 2010 and then explain to me why this party’s allowed this to happen ie the construction of a public sector designed to benefit themselves financially and politically rather than the general public

    Don’t ask me to clap in the streets for a health system that elevates its own protection above the protection of those it is meant to serve.

    The Tory government’s since 2010 decision not to implement reforms to this sprawling, ever-expanding client state that puts political and financial enrichment above the public interest is one of the damning pieces of evidence to corroborate the accusation that this party’s been captured by the left and liberal left.

    The Tories aren’t in government, they’re being controlled by Labour’s client state. You can see in how they’ve responded to the CV-19 issue. The NHS is acting politically and they’ve got this government by the cojones

    When will the voter understand they are being royally deceived using North Korean style social control strategies?

    • JoolsB
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      Hear hear Dominic.

    • Hope
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Dominic,

      You are correct. The Tory Govt. for ten years has and continues to drive the left wing agenda which defies the logic of most of us.

      It is a pitiful state of affairs for people to vote Tory and get a party that is left of New Labour. Even employing former Labour ministers before conservative ones! What does that tell you? Do not blame me I did not vote for them, I would rather not vote than chose the least worse of the options.

      Ed Miliband back in shadow cabinet because the Tory party would not step down candidate in his area for Brexit Party. You know the scary ‘Red Ed’ claim by Cameron’s lot, but enacted, and built on she claimed, his policies under May!

    • graham1946
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      You are not clapping the system, but the dedication and bravery, yes bravery of the staff who go each day to face this virus, often without adequate protection, then return home to their families possibly carrying this evil thing into their homes. I very much doubt you would have the courage to go within a mile of such a job. We know your very cynical absolutist ultra right wing views expressed day after day. No support ever for anyone doing anything to help. What are you personally doing apart from sniping? Why don’t you furlough yourself for a while and give it a rest.

      • Hope
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        Graham I understand your point about clapping front line staff. I Disagree with the rest. When a party repeatedly fails to deliver on election promises over ten years, repeatedly fails basics and repeatedly lies then it does not deserve to be in office. Dominic needs to keep repeating it until someone gets a grip in the Tory party and listens. It is also consistent with JRs theme we do not believe you.

        • graham1946
          Posted April 8, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

          I don’t think you can infer from my post that I support the system. If you read any of my contributions you will know that I do not like the present set up of the NHS, it is totally inefficient and I blamed the Tories for introducing it in 2012 and doing nothing but manage its decline ever since.

      • Mark B
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        I would, and have, thank the people who are on the frontline as it were rather the NHS and its faceless and quite frankly useless beauracrates.

  5. David_Kent
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    PHE is notorious in the industry for its anti-private-industry attitude so their reluctance to allow private labs to spend ‘their’ money on providing testing to the NHS is not a surprise.

    • jerry
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      @David_Kent; Might I suggest you look at what is happening in the USA currently before you beat the private good, public bad, drum to loudly.

      • David_Kent
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Currently the number of tests performed per million of population is; UK 3726. USA 7563, Canada 8767. Switzerland 18776. Note that Switzerland, USA and Canada are countries with highly decentralised and largely private lab systems.

        • jerry
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          @David_Kent; But how many tests have the PRC done, without any need to use private private labs?…

          In any case you are also getting confused between what PHE can do and what DfH (under political control by the party of government) allows them to do, the govt was offered increased Lab capacity from the private sector but the govt did not take up the offer at the time.

    • Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      It’s easy to be anti private sector when you have a gilt edged defined benefit pension.

      Those of us in the private sector who have to provide for ourselves while at the same time funding the cushy public sector will have taken a big hit on the value of our pension savings.

      • Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        The Lifetime Allowance for many is now atrophied, while the excess is still subject to 55% tax. This needs addressing, a lifetime allowance should be just that and any variation in the pension fund value should be taken off of the excess, because in the case of a bull market there would be no elasticity for the lifetime allowance part of the fund.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Indeed.

  6. Mark B
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I am not a health expert, and neither are many here. But I am aware that pandemics throughout history have visited us and, as quickly as they came, they soon went, sometimes they return. They are part of our existence and there is no getting away from it.

    It is run by an Executive team with six people paid more than £200,000 last year including pension benefits.

    I shall repeat a comment I made elsewhere.

    I am of the opinion that, no one that receives taxpayers money and who works for a public body should be paid more than the PM. If they can get better elsewhere, let them try. It is time we started to roll back New Labour’s largess.

    If our kind host allows, a list of Ministerial Salaries.

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/811042/Salaries_of_Members_of_Her_Majesty_s_Government_April_2019.pdf

    • Horatio
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      The continual issue around these huge, public bodies is that they are not run by business people. They are profligate organisations with have collective egos. They believe that everything must be done internally and centrally and no one can do anything else better.

      I write the Business Continuity Plans for my FTSE business. Where i am not an expert i take from the benchmark. This is how business works. On Pandemic response, the experts are clearly South Korea who were unprepared for SARs then radically overhauled their CDC when it came to MERS. We should be taking knowledge from around the world. When our army Jungle trains in Belize we take knowledge from locals not from the Forest of Dean. If my business had responded so poorly to Covid, i wouldve been sacked.

      On testing the ego of PHE has got in the way again. Why place so much emphasis on 3 huge testing centres? We have plenty of high standard small labs around the country to utilise. Not as many as Germany but enough. When you invest in shares you ensure you invest in a diverse portfolio not one big punt. Why are we developing our own tests, can we not replicate Germany’s, do we not trust their industrial standards? The mind boggles.

      There also needs to be more accountability in Whitehall. What happened to operation Cygnus? Whats the point in running a scenario test unless you make use of it. No doubt Sir Humphrey will not be questioned more ineptitude by the civil service. Its pathetic. Almost as pathetic as our economically ruinous lockdown as flights were still rolling in last week from China, Spain, Iran, Italy and NY.

      When Trump got into power he pushed his billionaire CEO friends, used to running huge organisations efficiently and successfully as Capitalism demands, into running various failing, overly bureaucratic departments such as the VA. In consequence, Veterans affairs has increased its performance cores across the board and US Vets are getting better support than ever. Many other huge, sclerotic, jobs for lufe departments gave also been shaken up. In the UK, we tend to put ex Labour ministers in charge. Bliar was unusually right in his comments yesterday. We need a businessman in charge of PHE and this overly centralised, overtly socialist, failing response needs to be supercharged

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      concur, in the public sector there should be a single pay scale ith the PM at the top

      If the public servants dont like it . well they are free to find a job in the private sector

      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        “If the public servants dont like it . well they are free to find a job in the private sector” – – -Good god man – – They’d all be collapsing in the streets through shock. They don’t do real life !

        • Fred H
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

          Many would shout ‘but I’m management, I don’t do things, I manage’.

    • jerry
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      @Mark B; “If they can get better elsewhere, let them try.”

      They will try and they will succeed, leaving the govt without the expert advisor’s etc. a govt need to function with any competence.

      You seem to think that the UK Prime Minister is a highly qualified position, it’s not, literally anyone could become PM (hence some of the more notorious press headlines on the eve of general elections), just so long as they have the confidants of their party and the 1/3rd support of the electorate who bother to vote. This idea that pay grades within the civil service and public bodies, that do require great expertise, should be pegged to that of the PM’s pay is laughable in its ignorance. 😥

      • richardofkent
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        So when will these highly paid civil servants with great expertise and experience be held to account by the MSM ?

        • jerry
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

          It’s not for the MSM to be our democratic gatekeepers (god help us if it ever was…), they are or should simply be the conduit, it’s one of the the duties of parliament, especially via the select committees and why some have to be chaired by opposition MPs.

      • anon
        Posted April 9, 2020 at 12:09 am | Permalink

        Expertise? I am not seeing evidence to support the claim in this circumstance. I see dire lack of preparedness.

        Perhaps we should think again about Crossrail, Hinckley, HS2,Brexit,Building & cladding regulation.

        Lets see where the Public enquiry gets us, if not others.

        They even reduced the armed forces, on reduced manpower, who are currently bailing them out.

        Why cant we have money set aside for relief aid where suitable forces can provide it out of the overseas aid budget.

        We may have been able to help ourselves instead of begging our allies for equipment in short supply.

        Indeed on the last point was this an attempt at bureaucratic fiat” to bind us further into the EU. We cant do this ourselves so we must stay in, because of the risk to people health.

        This ryhmes with many other examples.

        It has cost lives and there must be a reckoning.

        Simply not good enough.

        • jerry
          Posted April 9, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

          @anon; I tend to agree with your sentiment, but you seem to be getting awfully confused between expert opinion and political judgement..

          • anon
            Posted April 10, 2020 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            More transparency would illuminate any confusion, along with roles and responsibilities.

            So who was in agreement, “The NHS is well prepared” for a pandemic?

    • Andy
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      I understand it is a weird Tory obsession but the ‘more money than the PM’ thing is really a silly benchmark.

      The PM is ludicrously badly paid. £150k for running the country? Shocking. Relatively junior software engineers can earn that. So can recruitment consultants. Accountants. It’s an average salary for a city lawyer. The quality of MPs is so low because politicians are paid so badly. This is why you end up with lots of wealthy people in Parliament for whom being an MP is a second job.

      The reality is if you want the best people running large organisation you have to pay them. Health professionals can earn significantly more in the private section – and that is why most do.

      You all complain about public services. It is because you do not pay enough so the best people stay in the private sector. It really is not a hard equation. If someone is running an agency with a £4bn budget and thousands of staff they should be earning millions.

      • jerry
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        @Andy; I much preferred when being an MP was very much regarded as a second job, or at least a second career, it ensured most MPs had knowledge from outside of politics, be that via the boardroom or the shop-floor, the latter as a trade union official. There are far to many in Westminster these days with nothing but their politics, philosophy and economics degrees, not even having had jobs outside of the ‘village’ since leaving Uni’ and becoming a MP…!

  7. Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    The colouring of your remarks by introducing things that are nothing to do with this pandemic, write offs, salaries, proof reading etc give your game away, namely you think little of how they have handled it and just one aspect, a shortage of protection equipment for front line staff, would confirm it.

    The speed of response from the private sector, supermarket supply chains, ventilators, testing kits also shows up PHEs ineptitude, but why are we surprised? Your government has continued the long tradition-of brooking no criticism whatsoever of the NHS and shovelling vast quantities of money at it because politically you see it as your Achilles heel and do not have the cojones to do anything about it, preferring to churn out the ‘wold class’ bs despite evidence to the contrary.

    There is much to be admired but this is an opportunity to identify and instigate real reform.

    The problem I have is that, and you might be part of it, I am getting a sense of a real propaganda campaign from HMG to deny/shift blame on to PHE and therefore post oahdemic I want to see a truly independent inquiry set up with the broadest terms of reference to include apportioning blame to ensure this doesn’t happen again and those responsible are removed from their positions of authority.

    Will it happen/anything change, of course not.

    • SM
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      PHE is answerable to the Dept of Health, not specifically to the NHS. It was set up in 2013 as an outcome of the dire Lansley reforms.

      One of its principal duties is to protect the public during episodes of severe threat, such as this pandemic, and from all one can see, it has failed. Where else should the blame land? Yes, ultimately on the heads of those senior civil servants within PHE, the DoH and the NHS, and on the heads of the junior and senior Ministers of Health during the years since 2013 who would have presumably had the duty of hearing from their civil servants – Jeremy Hunt is keeping really quiet these days, isn’t he?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      Much truth in this. Jeremy Hunt did almost nothing useful to reform the NHS (during his long period as Heath Secretary). He was however quite good and elegant at endlessly apologising for its very many appalling, abject and well documented failures. Often ones where “some lives were shortened” as they like to put it using their preferred euphemism.

      I would have preferred someone who had done something to try to prevent these deaths and endless failures. Freedom and choice not a dire state monopoly please.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      For another day I think Nig1 but that day should come soon after we get out of this mess. More important than ever since there will be a much smaller economy with which to pay for the NHS and other public services.

    • jerry
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      @Nig 1; The problem is not the NHS nor PHE but the inward chain of private supply companies, who so often have off-shored their production to increase their returns, why can’t the NHS have their own factories making PPE etc. here in the UK, or at least contacts with private companies that have UK based factories (and that do not operate JIT inward supply chains, so can ramp-up production within 24/48 hrs)?

      The problems faced by the UK and the NHS/PHE are not unique, just look at the problems the Gov. of NY State is having obtaining supplies of PPE etc.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        There was a time that ‘remploy’ made uniforms etc but in the 90s the labour government privatised the contract (making the disabled staff unemployed; something that I’ll never forgive them for)

        • jerry
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          @glen cullen; Yes, but the Blair govt was simply carrying on much the same “market economy” polices as the Tories had brought in since 1979. Remploy was just the last in a long line of such policies.

          • glen cullen
            Posted April 8, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

            It was a complete disgrace what happened to ‘remploy’ and successive governments for not reversing that decision. (1) it kept disabled people employed and (2) it maintained a consistent supply of military uniforms and other items (masks etc)

    • Andy
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Those responsible are Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and Matt Hancock. The UK’s strategy has been disastrous. The only saving grace is the Americans have done even worse.

      Who’d have thought that incompetent leaders create incompetent government?

      We need only to look to Germany and the outstanding response from Angela Merkel’s government to see how the grown ups do it.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Andy, how are Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and Matt Hancock

        1. specifically responsible for a lack of ppe getting to the front line quickly? This is PHE and the NHS Managers job.
        2. We have not run out of ventilators and we are creating more ways to get oxygen to people who need this rather than the full ventilation treatment so how is that a fail?
        3. We have a Nightingale hospital built and equipt in short order how is that a fail?

    • graham1946
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Far from brooking no criticism of the NHS, the Tories reformed it totally in 2012 in their own image, introducing ‘the market’ and other such nonsenses, destroying what was good and worked (although imperfectly, but still better and cheaper than now), and have done nothing since to rectify it, many believing they want it to fail so it can be privatised.

    • Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      “Will it happen/anything change, of course not.”

      Those responsible for this fiasco will probably be promoted and recommended for Queen’s Honours.

      That’s how it works.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      I think JR’s comments are highly relevant. These quangos produce annual reports constructed of anodyne twaddle designed to hide their shortcomings whilst providing the public with a false sense of security; JR might be the first to actually read it otherwise why has not such a glaring typographical error not been corrected?

      On page 101, it states “Our primary duty is to protect the public from infectious diseases..” Yet, there is no indication that they had attempted to address the shortcomings exposed by Exercise Cygnus on which the public were kept uninformed. Quite why they simulated an H2N2 epidemic which much of the elder generation would have immunity from rather than an epidemic of the far more recent SARS which is also spread by aerosols and has a much higher mortality rate is unknown since preparing for an adverse hypothetical event should be about preparing for the worst.

      What we have is a disease which is actually far worse than SARS because unlike SARS which caused severe disease and a mortality of 10%, COVID-19 produces 80% mild or symptomless cases that without being able to spread by aerosols are nevertheless able to infect large numbers without detection. Furthermore, there was never any argument over the seriousness of SARS and tripe about herd immunity. Health authorities killed it off by reducing the transmission rate from above 2 to 0.4 by taking appropriate actions and that is what this government needs to do.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    As Charles Moore rightly put it the other day:- The inflexibility of our lumbering NHS is why the country has had to shut down.

    Jeremy Hunt was questioned about his (and the May government’s) abject failure to act on the Cygnus Exercise (on LBC’s Nick Ferrari the other day). He said a massive amount or work had been done and then immediately diverted to talking about Dyson’s ventilators (are any actually available yet) and the great achievement of the new Nightingale Hospital!

    A massive amount of taking and hot air perhaps but clearly an abject failure to spent the trivial sum of £5 million on simple plans so as to be able to build simple medical and protective equipment quickly as needed – as I suggest above? Oh for a handful or decent practical engineers and far fewer lawyers, PPE graduates, politicians, paper pushing bureaucrats and all these over paid endless talking shops. I understand 200 organisations we involved in operation Cygnus yet non, it seems, did the sensible and obvious basics needed. Plus they buried the report – can we see it now please – what did this exercise cost?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      I see that Japan (with about double the UKs population) has 1,412 ECMO machines and yet England and Wales has just 15 of them – so why are we so far behind Japan and indeed the USA?

      St Thomas’s Hospital has some it seems.

      • rick hamilton
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

        Japan also has 10 times as many hospital beds as the NHS, 7 times as many hospitals and so far only 80 deaths.

        They use Avigan, a Japanese made drug that can halt the progress of the infection if taken early enough. China is using it, and Germany. They are not obsessed with testing and more or less ignore the ‘panda-huggers’ at the WHO. Their strategy is ‘clustering’, meaning tracing all contacts of those infected. Strange that Japanese statistics never appear in the UK media

  9. Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Great pity we left it to Coronavirus to stress test the PHE. No sacred cows henceforth. Even ‘experts’ must be peer reviewed; stress tested and sacked! Else we end up with the PM needing oxygen an the ‘elitists’ telling us it’s in short supply!

    • jerry
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      @Lynn Atkinson; “Great pity we left it to Coronavirus to stress test the PHE”

      Wrong, the entire NHS system (including that part played by PHE) was stress tested in 2016 using a intense strain of Flu as the base model for a UK/world pandemic, the Tory govt of the day chose to ignored the finding.

      • rose
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        That PM was Mrs May and the Health Secretary was Mr Hunt.

        • jerry
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          @rose; Your point being what?

          It will also likely be 20+ years, bar any Royal Commission, before anyone finds out just who was really responsible for ignoring that report.

          But if speculation is in order, many of the current cabinet were part of that that govt too and all stood on the parties manifesto – the problem was both the long standing attitude towards the NHS and the then policy of “Austerity”.

  10. Sea Warrior
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    What was PHE’s response to the lessons identified from Exercise CYGNUS in 2016? Did any of the highly-paid executives take any actions?
    P.S. I’m relaxed about the write-offs.

  11. Ian @Barkham
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    There is in our new modern world for government and its quangos to use double speak which in the first instance is about keeping ones job, then it is to retain the status quo. There is never any talk of value for money. They are never routinely held to account in detail on how the spend our taxpayer money. Elections would be the final arbiter but all the political gangs hide behind the premise -‘ we will give you’. Conveniently forgetting it was them that took it away in the first place.

    Anyone and everyone that takes the taxpayer money should in all honestly be subject to greater scrutiny on how they spend our money and the value it provides us. Government, Parliament, Quangos, the civil service and on and on. All the time they hide, just promotes misgivings.

    So it is difficult to believe any of them.

    Maybe it is time for government and all the bodies emanating from it to act as business has to do – have a full independent audit each year.

    • Fred H
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      My memory fails me, BUT, I know back in the earlier techie days, at least one fast growing (ex start-up) used to have an annual review that also concerned itself with contribution, innovation, ideas, team working etc. The result became a 10% cut in staffing viewed to be least effective annually to be replaced by hiring new and usually more than the 10% gone.

      • Ian @Barkham
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        That is when Companies were permitted to fail and when that happened they spawned half a dozen new ones that out shone the original. More people found work.

        Successful teams are those where the people gel. People are all different they fit in sometimes and they don’t at other times. It all it means is some people have joined the wrong team. Nowadays laws enforced entrapment of the wrong people in the wrong place.

        2 thoughts there, you only fail if you push hard – but you learn from it. Saving poor performing entities means that those responsible for the performance are left in place.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Fred H,

        The vitality curve (rank and yank) was made ‘popular’ by Welch at GE. Other companies copied for some years. In the end many stopped since it added costs to performance appraisal, led to legal cases and ironically ended up providing talent to competitors. Much performance is systemic or luck, it is hard to identify the real differentiators beyond integrity and IQ.

        • Fred H
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

          Thank you for that – not sure it did much for my memory, but I sort of new it happened.

  12. zorro
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Perhaps it was a Freudian slip or incompetence. Who knows? However, you can guarantee that one of the well-paid executives never bothered to read it – probably too busy in meetings or strategising on how not to deal with pandemics.

    The usual boasting about their preparedness and prowess is par for the course, but usually swiftly undermined by events. However, this is public money spent on a function which should be challenged and scrutinised by Ministers. He who pays the piper should call the tune. Your government is ultimately responsible and has failed as it so often does in holding the Public Sector to account.

    I wish the PM well and hope that he is properly looked after.

    zorro

  13. George Brooks.
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    These organisations come into being for all the right reasons and then over time the wrong people get to the top and they ignore the bigger picture. These professors and scientists are brilliant in their field but often lack foresight in related areas. PHE has just given several very good examples of this failure.

    They stock piled PPE but quite clearly only had a rudimentary knowledge of warehousing and distribution and the army had to be called in to get the system moving. It is getting better but still has quite some distance to go.

    Similarly PHE has some excellent labs but the scale of testing was never envisaged so to cover their backsides they struggled until they were told to enlist labs from the private sector. Furthermore it would also appear that their forward planning in procurement was pretty basic which is why we lagged behind in getting testing swabs etc.

    I agree with Mark B the salaries at the top are too high and that has led to not having enough to pay for the skills needed in the other important related areas.

    In the last few days I saw a good lady being interviewed on TV and her title was, I think, Deputy MD of CEO of ”NHS Providers”. Who and what does this outfit do?

  14. Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Sounds like they were complacent, and that complacency was exacerbated by a lack of accountability, the vast sums of money they were handling, and their bloated salaries.

    It’s not just some civil servants who are overpaid. In most sectors, there’s a pervasive idea that the greater your budget, the more you should be paid. The argument is that the more of other people’s money (whether taxpayers/shareholders/investors) you have to spend, the greater your responsibility and therefore the greater your remuneration. Unfortunately there are seldom any consequences when things go wrong; the very worst that happens to well paid executives is that they have to find another job or retire on a fat pension, possibly with a gong from the Honours list.. Meanwhile they may have lost vast sums of other people’s money, impacted on their health etc.

    So by all means call the PHE to account, but don’t stop there.

  15. Alan Jutson
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Afraid the thinking behind “just in time deliveries” aims to keep stock levels low for financial and storage capacity reasons in all sorts of manufacturing plants and high turnover businesses, which includes Supermarkets.

    It of course all goes horribly wrong when a link or two in that chain fails or is broken

    Easy to look back in hindsight, but the shortage of PPE could have been resolved much quicker, if many private manufacturing companies had been contacted earlier to switch production to such products rather than close them down..
    PPE equipment like masks, suits, gloves, visors, hand jell are not exactly hi tech products to make.
    Clearly they are not to blame for not holding stocks of the right medication or testing packs , as the type of virus was unknown, until it happened, but I would have thought private laboratories would have been the “no brainer go to option” when it was clear the NHS system could not hope to cope with the promised test numbers.

    .

  16. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    In my limited knowledge of PHE it does seem to be the wrong set up for what we need at this time.

    Something smaller and more nimble that is capable of using the public, voluntary and private sectors as required might make more of an impact.

    To date we have not had overflowing hospitals which by this time both Spain and Italy did have so we should be grateful for what they have achieved to date

  17. Robert McDonald
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    It is clear that this health cabal did not do a lot of effective planning, for extensive read intensive — talking. Its a bureaucratic thing, civil servants love meetings that go on for hours, but not actually doing things !!!

    • richardofkent
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      I’ve worked in the private sector all of my life and these meetings go on all of the time particularly at senior middle management level. They are trying to be seen to be contributing but as the song goes – “we’re busy doing nothing”.

  18. Dave Andrews
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I’d like to know where in this plan appeared the phase to leave the airports and ports open, allowing the disease to be freely distributed all over the UK.
    The government has treated the UK like an open sewer.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      And we still provide armed border patrols to ferry illegals over the channel. I’m sure they could get the ferry companies to do it cheaper after all they have no regular passengers.

      • glen cullen
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Yeah but ferries don’t provide accommodation when you reach land

        • Ian Wragg
          Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

          Good point. Perhaps they could team up with a hotel group and do packages.

  19. Fred H
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    At some stage a formal review will be required to invite and consider a full range of all healthcare services, staffing, readiness, PPE and responses as the c.virus spread.
    The public, looking on, is entitled to wonder how the £billions spent are allocated.

  20. Javelin
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    The UK owes China 15% of GDP – or £250 billion (Quora).

    This is the third virus to originate from Chinese wet markets (open air, cross-species, uncontrolled abattoirs).

    This debt needs to be cancelled to pay for the costs of the damages caused by the Corona Virus from the Wuhan wet market.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      And on other financial blogs they’re openly discussing the likelihood of a hostile takeover of one or more of our banks by a large far east country

      Strange that the Covid19 event has reduced banks share prices by 60%, and all of a sudden there’s talk of hotile takeovers

  21. agricola
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Is it relevant to know how much they are being paid, it sounds like a popular newspaper report where everyone’s salary and house value is deemed relevant to the story. If they are senior medical consultants and their peers it is hardly surprising they earn what they do.

    I have little doubt that they are offering the best possible advice within the bounds of what they know about Covid 19. Whatever their plans for war on such as Covid 19, the conduct of the battle is not going to be as planned. By day two it needs to change, history tells us so.

    As to the stockpiling of gear , it is no doubt constrained by money and who is in charge of the money but you in Westminster. I would tend to stockpile for primary need, such as the NHS, but mothball the means of production so that volume can be ramped up. PHE is not a quango or is it , whereby responsibility can be shifted from government. As to agreeing that stockpiles of strategic equipment and medicines be held, yes within the constraints of sell by date and cost, but ultimately the responsibility is with government. If you are looking for scapegoats lets have the best intelligence reports on how it originated in China and was allowed to spread by air travel throughout the World by countries too slow to close their borders ie most of them.

  22. Javelin
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I sent a list of questions for a public enquiry yesterday.

    I have also sent that list of Questions to my MP (Dominic Raab) whose secretary is forwarding the questions.

  23. S Matthews
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    A big question is why PHE bottlenecked the testing by only using the Colindale lab. It was like sending a single Destroyer when there was a huge fleet available.

  24. rick hamilton
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I am surprised PHE does not claim to be ‘sustainable, diverse and eco-friendly ‘ as well. No doubt those who are employed by it are fully protected from any financial damage in this crisis, unlike the poor saps who run their own businesses and ultimately pay for these jokers.

    Can anybody explain why their top team are worth more than the Prime Minister ? Based on results so far they should take an immediate cut in salary to show their ‘solidarity’ with the victims of the epidemic, both medical and economic.

  25. Caterpillar
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    £207m per year right off per year does seem small if holding limited shelf life drugs and vaccines for a emergencies i.e about £4 per person. Without seeing the actual inventories, the lifetimes and the scenarios planned for, it is difficult to judge. Hopefully the stocks were higher under hard Brexit prep.

    On the other hand what is clearly worthy of criticism is the Govt. The country remains under house arrest with no clarity on the considerations made and missed in taking this decision. Millions have lost their freedom without any comment on future welfare, social, economic or psychological impact. PHE can be evaluated afterwards, as can the Govt, but what is needed in the present is transparency.

  26. Richard1
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I do not agree. PHE appears to be another bloated quango. Among the suggested reasons for many more tests in Germany is the decentralisation of independent, private, diagnostic labs in Germany. The plain fact is centralisation and bureaucratisation so loved by the left is not only expensive, it is dangerous. Health outcomes are worse because of it.

    Big changes, and big cuts to quangos such as this are needed. Same on a global scale where it is clear the WHO has played a lamentable role in delaying the truth about the CCP/ Wuhan virus getting out of China. Good to see there is likely to be international legal action in this.

    • Posted April 14, 2020 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      I’m pretty sure PHE should be sued for Corporate Manslaughter for their incompetence and lack of preparedness for this ‘pandemic’.

      I wonder if we find the death rate OF CV19 is revised down pretty dramatically we’re they to be sued?

  27. Richard1
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I have written to my MP about the ticking bomb of lack of PPE for staff in care homes, about which I have heard something. I have had no reply. But I hope the government and PHE are addressing this issue

    • Jiminyjim
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      The government and PHE is now responsible for providing protective equipment for independent, profit-making businesses? When did that happen? I wish people would wake up to the fact that ministers and the government cannot be responsible for every single aspect of life in this country!

  28. gregory martin
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I would like to see the results of a forensic audit , by independent professionals, of management and procurement ,across all quasi-governmental bodies. Just follow the money.

    • Pragmatist
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      I feel the Government and of course with Opposition parties will when dust has settled make the greatest review of our health care system imaginable. It should be said in many ways together. No doubt there will be rhetoric but I feel all will agree behind the scenes we have something which needs attention.

  29. ChrisS
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    I believe that for some inexplicable reason, even items like face masks have a defined shelf life. I suspect if the NHS was resourced with enough PPE to handle this kind of unprecedented Pandemic, we would be discussing waste of £400-500m a year rather than “just” £207m.

    I do not pretend to know the answer but clearly we cannot go back to the way things were before. One question that comes immediately to mind is, how did we get away for decades with so few Intensive Care beds compared with Germany or almost any other European Country? Were British patients dying for lack of them ? We need to know the answer.

    Unfortunately we are hamstrung by the almost God-like reverence for the NHS which stifles all debate on alternative methods of funding or re-organisation. Then we have Labour weaponising it at every election which prevents economically sensible involvement of the private sector. Until this changes, the NHS will remain a bottomless money pit.

    Having experienced German healthcare while living there as a civilian for five years, (including my wife having our first child there) that is the model I would favour.

    • SM
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      To answer your question about ICU beds:

      a very close friend of mine was an NHS consultant anaesthetist at a major London teaching hospital in the 1980’s, and I recall him telling us that arguments between senior colleagues about whose patient could have their surgery delayed because there were insufficient ICU units available were frequent. And before the usual suspects jump up and down shouting ‘Thatcher’ and ‘Tories’, he also described the NHS management as just constantly chucking money down the drain, just as it had done the previous decade when he was a registrar.

  30. NigelE
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    With that cash flow, this would likely be a FTSE 100 company in the private sector, about the size of Taylor Wimpey. But of course, all funded from the public purse.

    How many other such organisations exist under the Govt’s umbrella? How are they assessed to determine whether they spend these £billions wisely?

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Good question, its time these hidden departments and qango’s where exposed

  31. ed2
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    What happened to all the useless Tamiflu we were stockpiling anyway? And why do I keep reading stuff by ‘experts’ telling us these kits we are buying in the millions only detect the common cold/any strain of coronavirus? Are they going to be peer-reviewed?

  32. BJC
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Another example of the success/failure being entirely dependent on the quality of the management. Management is a separate career path and just because someone is an expert and at the top of their chosen field, doesn’t mean they have the necessary skills or ability to manage resources. It’s far more effective to play to our strengths.

    Apart from a review of PHE management structure/policies and their efficacy, perhaps we should concentrate our energies on the manufacturing/storage capacity of component parts instead of the completed product, which might help reduce unnecessary wastage.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Johnson and his family, especially his fiancee whose heart must be breaking, and pray he makes a rapid and complete recovery. He’s our shining beacon and it seems as if the whole country is now holding its breath.

  33. Sakara Gold
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    PHE are a typical jobs-for-the-boys/girls QUANGO. As I have repeatedly said on Sir John’s blog, all quango’s should be abolished because of their incompetence, inefficiency and the enormous salaries given to the people that run them, as desribed above. Not to mention the extremely generous non-contributory index-linked final salary pensions that my taxes pay for.

    • Reaction Harry
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      In the private sector there is much talk of dividend cutbacks (with consequences for pension schemes) and reductions in executive salaries – how about similar cutbacks for quangocrats?

      • Data Please
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        How Dare You Sir.

        The Govt has adequate funds to maintain our remunerations, have you not heard of Public Sector Borrowing.

        You’ll be talking about stopping peerages next.

        I suggest you Check Your Thinking.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      concur

  34. ed2
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    https://qz.com/212479/europe-has-not-learned-a-thing-from-the-tamiflu-scandal

    “It’s been five years since European governments tried to fight the H1N1 pandemic and wasted a colossal $3 billion of taxpayer money in doing so. ”

    >
    Hello everyone? How much we going to ‘waste’ this time?

  35. The Meissen Bison
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    PHE has been a constant nagging voice urging the population to change its ways and allying itself with other health pressure groups to lobby government and limit personal freedom.

    Its embodiment of the nanny state couldn’t conceivably justify a budget of £4bn so the fair assumption was that it was carrying out significant useful work and the nannying was to most people like the visible part of the iceberg.

    This assumption has been shown to be wrong and PHE has been exposed as a very expensive and ineffective quango.

    When will governments remember that their primary duty is not to protect the people but rather to protect their liberty.

  36. Javelin
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    What is the Government doing about foreign investors buying assets in the UK at this time of distress?

    In Australia the International Review Board has been forced to consider every purchase to see if it is in the national interest by reducing the review threshold down to zero AUD.

    As one of the few MPs with cabinet and business experience the British people need you to be working hard in their business interest whilst the focus is on medical issues.

    • glen cullen
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Correct – FT100 companies ripe for hostile takeover

    • Data Please
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      I said similar the other day.

      I believe a Carpet Baggers dream is being generated from this crisis.

      I think think the slogan of this period will be:

      “Never in the Field of History has so much Wealth been transferred from so Many to so Few”

  37. Chris B
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Now they say its too early to discuss an exit stategy……I despair. The right thing at the right time will almost always be yesterday.
    At the first press daily press conference I realised that we had effectively thrown the towel in, from the inconsistent unintelligent and illogical comments made.
    Also in short supply is information, I suspect that an Ipsos Mori poll where up to 20% of people thought they had been infected might be one of the most accurate sources of data around.

  38. formula57
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Surely few would deny Public Health England has earned the epithet granted to the Home Office for many years now: “Not fit for purpose”.

    The Lancet’s editor in chief Richard Horton’s 28, March article (@ https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30727-3/fulltext ) explains the extent of the policy and planning failures. It opens with a quote from an NHS health worker – “When this is all over, the NHS England board should resign in their entirety”.

    Hear, hear! – but why await the crisis being over?

  39. Polly
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Is the UK testing hydroxychloroquine and other drugs as potential C-19 treatments in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ?

    This Gates Foundation press release suggests that the UK might be doing so……

    ”At least 40,000 participants in Asia and Europe will be randomized to receive either chloroquine (East Asian countries), hydroxychloroquine (United Kingdom and Europe), or a matched film-coated placebo as daily prophylaxis for three months. The one-year project, known as COPCOV, aims to determine definitively whether these drugs can prevent COVID-19 and thus protect the vital health care workforce. Participant enrollment will begin in April and initial results will be available by the end of the year”.

    https://www.gatesfoundation.org/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2020/03/COVID-19-Therapeutics-Accelerator-Awards-$20-Million-in-Initial-Grants-to-Fund-Clinical-Trials

    Initial results are not forecast to be available until the end of 2020 so look likely to be of no use in this pandemic.

    Is this the reason why the UK, apparently against the wishes of many UK medical professionals, currently prohibits the use of hydroxychloroquine for C-19 sufferers ?

    The UK appears to be virtually the only country in the West where the medical profession is prohibited to debate the subject of hydroxychloroquine and other drugs in connection with C-19. In other countries the debate continues energetically and openly with much information coming to light. But in socialized med care Britain, apparently barely a word is allowed in contradiction of the official line, or medical professionals risk losing their position.

    This Long Island doctor reports ”very good results” in his experimental hydroxychloroquine treatments, interestingly using antibiotic doxycycline alongside in place of the more customary azithromycin due to heart rhythm concerns….

    https://nypost.com/2020/04/04/long-island-doctor-tries-new-hydroxychloroquine-for-covid-19-patients/

    So my question is, why aren’t the British innovating in a similar manner and using all the tools at their disposal instead of bureaucratically waiting a long period for large scale testing results which look likely to be far too late for thousands of C-19 patients ?

    Polly

    Reply This site does not know whether these drugs would work or whether they might have adverse side effects for some users. UK doctors presumably read the literature and discuss amongst themselves whether any of these treatments might help. There are trials, I read, which shows some think they might be useful. I suggest you submit your thoughts to sites where doctors go to discuss what best they might do.

    • Polly
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      This looks to be a political issue just as it is in other countries so I thought you would be interested.

      I am of course following up the matter elsewhere, but, as I said, British medical professionals look very reticent to discuss the matter publicly thanks to the socialized med care rules in the UK.

      Polly

    • JohnK
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Sir John:

      The PHE under Dr Whitty has decreed that chloroquine, which is an existing and safe medicine, may not be used to treat CV19. Apparently the only medicine which may be used is paracetamol.

      If and when Mr Johnson recovers, I hope he will instruct Dr Whitty to get out of the way of doctors who wish to use their clinical judgment to prescribe the medicines they think will help their patients.

      The centralisation and socialisation of public services in this country is beyond a joke. It is as if our public sector looked at the USSR and decided that was such a success they should copy it.

      • SM
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        Any doctor who considers using medication in a way that is not properly and legally approved will have to have a damn good argument to give to his professional liability insurers and the relevant Ethics Committee should the patient suffer harmful side effects or die as a result.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      I thought WHO viewed chloroquine compounds as experimental for Covid19 so they should only be used in trials. Off label use would presumably be dangerous as known side effects such as cardiomyopathy match the patients most vulnerable to Covid19 ( the risk-benefit may be very different). There has been a long history of chloroquine compounds showing antiviral effects in vitro, but not when tested in animal models, and in some cases even exacerbating symptoms and delaying recovery.

      I have zero medical education and can only read potential pathways and papers like anyone else, but given different patients reactions to covid19, it does seem that trials (of course accelerated) does not seem unreasonable. I think this is particularly relevant if neither adequate population resistance or vaccination is developed to prevent a second wave or seasonal infection.

      (Mass unplanned use of chloroquine compounds or countries hoarding stocks may impact their availability as an antimalarial for which, although declining, I guess, it is still used.)

  40. Maj
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Like most bureaucracies, PHE seems to display the usual NIH syndrome. In the 1950s, this was usually stated as “the man in Whitehall knows best”. Now it is a Not Invented Here attitude, ie unless the proposal is generated internally, it is automatically discounted until desperation sets in. Most commercial firms would at least investigate new ideas to improve their bottom line, whilst bureaucracies look to increasing their power, staffing and salary levels before targeting their own efficiency. The question should also be, why do we have PHE as an independent body/quango? It should surely be a subsidiary of the NHS. Is there also PH Scotland, PH Wales and PH N Ireland, thus duplication and increased cost?

  41. glen cullen
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    This Covid19 event has highlighted just how many differing departments, agencies, committees there are within the NHS all on huge salaries.

    Public Health HCID, The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP), NHS111, Public Health England, Wales, NI, Scotland, Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC), Centre of Excellence in Infectious Diseases Research (CEIDR), The Hospital for Tropical Diseases (HTD), The MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis (MRC GIDA),…..the list goes on and on and on….no joined up thinking here just ever increasing salaries

    I know the Department of Health and Social Care funds them but does it control them

    • Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      The object of the entire edifice is to provide good salaries and titles for the chosen. And as the service is ‘free’ and when you are in their hands you are at you most vulnerable, people have not complained.
      I want the right to opt out Sir John.

  42. Data Please
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Good Morning Sir John – I appreciate your efforts to get a feel for the mood of the nation, sadly lacking in others.

    Theresa May echoed what I believe is a systemic self-loathing disease within the Tory Party that they believe they are the Nasty Party.

    Hence they don’t have the courage of their convictions, self-belief or fortitude to push back against emotional blackmail from in my opinion Public Institutions whose leadership has been purposely infested with rabid Marxists.

    When will they get it into their thick heads that they are part of an never ending cycle of Labour Governments flushing other peoples money down the toilet after which Tory Govts are forced to impose measures to avoid socio-economic collapse only to be ousted out as their policies start to make impact (albeit their prediliction to sleaze scandals have never helped) because the country has started to get a feel good factor again.

    As such I believe they are going to oversee (they’re certainly not in charge) a catastophic socio-economic collapse on the scale of Venezuala, whilst merrily tripping down the Marxist path of shouting mantra and increasing oppression without consent.

    I think the U.K. is going to set a World First of being the first non-authoritarion government (in theory) to have instigated the complete socio-economic collapse of a World Leading Economy.

    If you want to be the Government you need to have the ability to make eyewatering, terrible decisions so that everyone else doesn’t have to.

    Those incapable of doing so, need not apply.

    In the future (though probably a moot point now) we need psychometric testing of all MP candidates to ensure they have the characteristics to make decsions that are of nightmare proportions to effectively decide who will live and who will die albeit via informed decisions based upon intelligence not dogma or ideology.

    When Mantra and Opression are the only tools being employed it should be a light bulb moment that we’re in trouble.

    Any Govt relinquishing its primary duty of being in charge to unelected bureaucrats who in my opinion are politically motivated, is beneath contempt and is unfit to govern.

    My guess is that this episode will not be reflected in history as the Tories Finest Hour.

    • ed2
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      we need psychometric testing of all MP candidates to ensure they have the characteristics to make decsions that are of nightmare proportions to effectively decide who will live and who will die

      >
      How about they just question the Media?

    • Mark B
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      The job of government is to govern for the benefit of the nation and its people. It is not there to be liked. Labour used nasty words and their friends in the media to slur the Tory party. The Tories are trying to rebrand themselves but, in doing so they are just turning into Blue Labour. This I believe was the plan from the start of the New Labour project. The Tories have not recognised this and therefore have not built and effective strategy to counter it. They also suffer from fools who should not be in the Conservative Party. Like PM Johnson’s predecessor.

  43. DavidJ
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    This seems to be yet another over-funded, under-performing quango. From what I read elsewhere it avoids cooperation with other organisations that will show it in its true light of inefficiency and lack of effectiveness.

    Time to cull such organisations, save the taxpayer some money and get a better service elsewhere.

  44. cornishstu
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    There is no excuse for not having stockpiled PPE, it is relatively easy to store, giving time to ramp up procurement, it can be rotated and used before it goes out of date so no wastage. Vaccines is a case of use them or lose them, though what vaccines were written off? They are normally administered to give immunity to something not left sat on a shelf waiting for that something to appear as then the horse has bolted. So did we order too many? As I said the other day, no doubt when the dust settles there will be an enquiry, we will be told lessons will be learnt, those who are highly paid in charge will not be held to account, but may resign holding on to their gold plated pensions to pop up in the future in some similar highly paid role.

  45. Data Please
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    How come the Private Sector are scrutinised to the nth degree, with executives swiftly dismissed if not prosecuted for negligence or incompetence, yet we’re expected to treat Public Bodies and Institutions as deities that shall not be questioned regarding their purity, skill, judgement and motivations and where any catastrophic failure of them (To Do Their Job) can only be resolved by throwing more public money at them.

    • DOMINIC
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      It’s called political power fella. The leftist political class that now rule the public sector have the Tories by the cojones and until the Tories decide to fight back then the private sector will be persecuted like they are vermin

      Blame the Tories for their embrace of Labour’s politics. Labour have been filth and extremists since the early 70’s but the Tories are the real cause. Thatcher tried to fight back and ultimately failed stabbed in the front by Labour and in the back by Tories

      • Mark B
        Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        +1

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      If the private sector were really so scrutinised, then the Grenfell Tower disaster would never have happened, would it?

      Nor the failure of so many banks in 2007/8, arguably.

      In the Netherlands, the foot-and-mouth cleanup was done by direct labour, government operations, at a cost of six hundred pounds per farm.

      In the UK, contracted out to the private sector, the cost was a hundred thousand pounds per farm.

      Now that is where taxpayers’ money is going.

      • Fred H
        Posted April 8, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Your usual running down everything UK.
        Netherlands 1800 farms, 26 outbreaks, 260,000 animals killed.
        UK how many thousands of farms at F&M?, 2000 outbreaks, 6m animals killed.
        Perhaps you don’t see the scale of the problem might cost rather more?

        What next aspect of UK will you knife in the back, or rather you aren’t bashful – knife in the front?

        • Edward2
          Posted April 8, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

          Martin is quite good at manipulating statistics.
          His post about foot and mouth has been used several times before by him.
          Well demolished Fred.

        • Posted April 14, 2020 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

          I’m afraid that if ever there was a case of foot and mouth it’s Martin.

  46. TooleyStu
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Gibbs’ Rule Number 39: “There Is No Such Thing As Coincidence.”
    *
    RNA test has a 80% false positive, because it uses RT-PCR tech which it’s own inventor says ‘Do not use for Diagnosis’.
    (Ref: Kary Banks Mullis, American biochemist. 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
    *
    So an antibody test is made.. But this has to be returned to manufacturer. ..
    *A coincidence*?
    *
    The Oxford Gupta study calculates that 68% of us already have the virus, with mild or no symptoms. (Figures calc to mid March, what are they now)
    (Ref: Professor Sunetra Gupta, Oxford theoretical epidemiologist)
    *
    Question.. What would be the outcome of 2/3rds of the House Arrest victims finding out we are already immune?
    And were before this Lockdown was imposed?

    Best regards, as always,
    Tooley Stu

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      How do you know who is immune?

      So are they just immune or are they the super-spreaders. The known test only show if you have it. The test of immunity is at best random with a poor success rate, both showing false negatives and even worse false positives.

      I would guess that until you can identify the spreaders of the Virus, you are suggesting people un-wittingly to walk around as a loaded weapon killing others yet never knowing it.

  47. BillM
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Like most Quangos, the PHE is top-heavy in management. I suspect that some of them may have been given the position as one of the “jobs-for-the-boys” rewards for past service (Or donations) to a Party or a political person.
    Are these Quangos ever held accountable for the funding they receive from taxpayers? Or, as SJ, has highlighted, is such wasted expenditure buried under accountancy ‘technicalities’? AKA ‘fiddles’.
    In the case of the PHE, it seems their arrogance and procrastination may well have cost lives and prevented this country from adopting the anti-virus techniques successfully practised in the Far East. Why do successive Governments tolerate the dubious analysis and the incurred waste of public money?

  48. Dunc.
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    The gravy train rolls on.

  49. Reaction Harry
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Do people get the governments they deserve?

    If we vote for processes instead of results, don’t complain when, in the NHS, you get more bureaucratic process than patient health. Instead of “Hands off our NHS”, shouldn’t it be “Protect our health”? Unions have a job to do protecting workers’ rights, but who is protecting patients’ health?

    People are currently seeing how important it is to have a decent organisational structure supporting the NHS front line rather than a politically correct talking shop. Consider PHE – the agenda for their meeting as recently as 26 February allowed just 30 minutes for Covid-19 but found 20 minutes to discuss its equality duty and a further 60 minutes for various other issues including E-cigarettes. You can see the agenda here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/868244/PHE20-00_Advisory_Board_agenda_26_February_2020.pdf

    When this epidemic is finally clear, will voters realise how much of the damage to their health, liberty and finances has been caused unnecessarily by them voting for parties with slogans such as “Hands off our NHS”? Will they allow unions to continue to promote their own interests and power base? Will they allow NHS bureaucrats to share in our gratitude for the sacrifices of the frontline? Or will they support a revolution in the quality of work we demand from our public “servants”?

    Dom Cummings may not sugar-coat his ideas, but will the penny drop that we need his challenge? I doubt it – I suspect that too many voters will ignore the evidence of their own recent experience, and blame the epidemic problems simply . . . . on a lack of money.

  50. TooleyStu
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Updated with references.
    Please post later comment, more accurate and qualified.

    Tooley Stu

  51. Tony Sharp
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Sir John,
    The NHS and its associated industries are a nationalised industry beset with committees, bureaucracies, administrators and management layers that have nothing to do with research or delivery of health or prevention and cure at all.
    We need to get rid of these layers which provide nothing to end users at all.
    PHE is no different.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Indeed.

  52. ian dempster
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Now is not the right time to snipe at the organisations who control our medical supplies. They can have no more idea than any of us what the next major problem will be. Those who are old enough will remember the Polio crisis when no cure was available, and many persons had no choice but to survive in an iron lung (many of them children). Perhaps if some were to look at the amount of people who die each influenza season in this country, we shouldn’t be so surprised when a new virus manifests itself. Hopefully hydroxychloroquine, in combination with azithromycin (Z-Pak), and zinc sulfate currently being tested, may yet be the answer to our problems.

  53. a-tracy
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been reading tweets on lunch about people making PPE gowns for hospitals in the States thousands of volunteers and for our hospitals such as the English National Opera costume department and Park House School making face shields. There must be thousands of others taking action rather than carping on from the sidelines, please let someone in government gather up this good news and give them mentions instead of allowing the media to lead just bad news all the time, relentlessly, day in day out depressing people. Nadine Dorries need to co-ordinate this and speak to the Doctor’s Association to assertain which members have been “bullied and shamed into not wearing ppe” and who by? Who suggested the doctors “hold their breath”. Which hospitals are short of PPE, government action to co-ordinate this as PHE and the NHS seem to have a problem still.

    Washable, reusable PPE has got to be a good thing to move to rather than plastic disposable.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 8, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Ah, I see how it works, you question the Doctors Association about who is bullying and shaming them into not wearing ppe? Their local healthcare trust manager, their hospital manager who on the payroll is doing this? and it puts them in fear for their life and persecution according to a piece in the Guardian, don’t make me laugh – this is 2020 in the UK not China or Prussia back in the day! The Government must discover who on their payroll is bullying and shaming fellow workers as a business owner I would have to find out who was bullying and shaming staff and discipline them. I would want to know who is telling staff “to hold their breath” I just don’t believe this statement if it’s true name and shame.

  54. Stephen Robertshaw
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Is socialist dogma getting in the way of PHE using the private sector to expand their Covid 19 test capacity and their search for currently available candidate treatments? If we wait for them to get their act together the economy will never get back on its feet again. Perhaps their public sector protected salaries and pensions mean that the recovery of the economy is the very last thing on their minds. The private sector is the solution not the problem. When will they ever learn? You despair.

  55. Lester Beedell
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Has Martin in Cardiff taken my advice and taken up a hobby, unless I missed it there isn’t a single post from him?

    • Fred H
      Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

      Sir John has decided to wipe the virus off his diary…..

  56. JimW
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I understand the current policy actually dates from the WHO asking all countries to produce a policy to deal with a pandemic in 2004. The Blair government produced the first iteration for the UK in 2005, it was later revised in 2011 and formally adopted in 2014.
    Basically it can be summed up as, we know we ‘can’t do ought’ so we we will wait it out until someone produces an innoculation.
    If that policy had actually been followed the economic effects would have been far less severe. And the overall morbidity would not have changed.

  57. Ignoramus
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    It has been a shambles. The lack of imagination by NHS administrators and “conservatism” is disgraceful. The NHS really does need to be changed. The medical staff are outstanding.

    The phrase “lions led by donkeys” comes to mind.

  58. Liddle Estonia
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Good idea! Computer EU says nooooooow
    “Finance minister Martin Helme (EKRE) said on Monday that he is looking into whether Estonia could, on a temporary basis, step out of the European Union emissions trading system (ETS) in order to reduce the price of electricity.”

  59. dixie
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    PHE’s position on it’s own performance and it’s statement of 3rd March are clearly at odds with reality.

    Hospitals and staff that are “fully resourced” do not rely on bin bags and pop-up 3D print farms for PPE gear.

  60. ChrisS
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    If I were in a position to influence events I would immediately ban the cosy term “Our NHS” and revert to using “The NHS”. Ministers would also be banned from wearing NHS lapel badges which simply indicate that they’ve gone native.

    Perhaps the only way we are ever going to have any chance of getting to grips with the behemoth that is the NHS is to appoint an entirely independent body to run it, free of both politicians and clinicians and tasked with making it much more efficient. Nothing should be off the table.

    A modest fee for visiting a GP would be a good start and would eliminate many wasted GP appointments. Every item on a prescription would have the cost clearly printed on the packaging so that patients would understand what the true costs are. Perhaps many more would actually take their full course of treatment and reduce waste.

  61. George Brooks.
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    My comment of 0713hrs has been positioned timewise and amongst similar comments but yet again awaiting moderation. Are finding out the answer to my question?

  62. Original Richard
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I believe that all quangos, such as PHE, and also the civil service suffer from the Peter Principle as well as employing those with a globalist supranational agenda.

    If the country suffers a deep financial depression/deflation as a result of this pandemic I believe that the salaries of the most highly paid in the quangos and civil service should not be immune from a cutback.

  63. Graham Wheatley
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Sir John,

    With all of the negative aspects of COVID-19 being reported in the Government’s daily press briefings, perhaps I could ask you to urge your colleague Mr. Raab to also give some updated figures DAILY, of a) the number of people who have been released from ICU and b) the number of people who have been released from hospitalisation in regard to COVID-19…. i.e. those that have ‘recovered’ from it.

    A little good news might lift everyone’s spirits?

  64. Richard
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    another Doctor’s letter in the Telegraph:
    “Much of our vitamin D comes from short daily periods of sun exposure between April and September. Police action in preventing access to safe open spaces risks another public health crisis of increased fractures, notwithstanding the effects on immunity and mental health.
    Dr David Ward, Gosport, Hampshire”

  65. DrPeterVC
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    I just looked up ONS:

    “In 2017, the UK spent £2,989 per person on healthcare, which was around the median for members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: OECD (£2,913 per person).

    However, of the G7 group of large, developed economies, UK healthcare spending per person was the second-lowest, with the highest spenders being France (£3,737), Germany (£4,432) and the United States (£7,736).”

    Please do not let political dogma get in the way of raw facts. The US spends the most on healthcare, but they do not have the highest life expectancy by any means. Yes of course there is a lot of inefficiency in the NHS – but right at the start of this disaster the govt. was able to absorb the private sector into it and proactively plan the allocation of equipment throughout the UK. Contrast this with the US where states are competing for resources and there was talk of sending the national guard into private hospitals for ventilators!

    Hubris, and a belief in globalisation, open borders, just in time supply chains etc has been our downfall. When something has not happened for 100 years does not mean it will never happen – why listen to doom mongers?

    After this is all over and the history books are being written we will know who got it right and who handled it badly.

    Let hope the history books record our PMs recovery. John please pass on my humble best wishes.

    And remember we are better when we all pull together – let us recover our Dunkirk spirit. We have to battle this war with the tools we have to hand.

    • anon
      Posted April 9, 2020 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      Well the evidence is piling up, but so are the bodies.
      Even in the MSM never mind medical journals.

      Paracetamol? if it was discovered today they would probably not allow it because it has side effects.

      On the one hand you are happy to risk lives to get the economy going. But are hog tied by the relatively small risk a drug treatment may cause, under medical supervision or not. Leave it with the Doctors & patients on the ground not bureaucrats.

  66. George Brooks.
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Quite clearly my comments were not acceptable as my query has been moderated but not my original note.

    Have I over stepped the mark or hit a raw nerve?

  67. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Deaths from Spanish flu in 1918/19 were 50 million.
    Deaths from Coronavirus to date 80,000+. Even if this rises to 500,000, it is still only 1% of the Spanish flu total.

    • ed2
      Posted April 9, 2020 at 1:29 am | Permalink

      Deaths from Coronavirus to date 80,000

      >
      570.000 died worldwide of the swine flu, but we didn’t trash the economy and close down the business.

  68. Mark Kennedy
    Posted April 11, 2020 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Who would go back to work or school just to to get infected or pass on to others? Why would you? Just because the government and/or PHE who might say yes to this question but is it enough? The reality of other countries like China, S Korea, Singapore, Norway or Germany may be in place to say go back to work or school; the truth is unless our management of this is backed up by figures that show we have done better than these countries – the answer will be no we will not go back period.

    The truth is NHS/PHE are badly performing compared to other counties. The answers is I fear second rate thinking or models based upon ideas that have stuck in their planning minds for time in the past rather than looking at the real world evidence of test, isolate and track aggressively and make their own countries islands from the world at large. We have not done this. They have not had the courage rip from their minds these ideas when the situation changed with real world evidence. The trouble is they are tying convince us they got it right!

    The ideas in PHE look stuck in myre of the past and it need someone with courage to get changes in approach done now. People will make their choices not based on what the government saids. We can compare the effectiveness of ours with others. What the government says is not enough with lives in the balance.

    I will not not go back to work with offers free face mask or otherwise. Get real.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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