The nation stood for a minute’s silence at 11am this morning (Tuesday) to honour the key workers who lost their lives in the fight against the coronavirus.
Last night the national broadcaster exposed the government’s abject failings to adequately prepare the country for a pandemic, specifically their continued failure to arm key workers with adequate PPE.
The damning revelations made on BBC’s Panorama were no less shocking even though they only add to an ever growing number of reports exposing serial failings in the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, epitomised by the ‘national scandal’ that is PPE provision and procurement.
‘Deemed too sensitive to be made public’
The Sunday Telegraph reported on March 28, how ministers ignored the three-day Cygnus Exercise that tested the ability of the NHS to handle a pandemic some three years ago. The health service and system was found severely wanting. The government was told Britain would be quickly overwhelmed from a shortage of critical care beds, morgue capacity and, crucially, personal protective equipment.
The findings of the report were deemed too sensitive to be made public. The government ignored many, including calls to stockpile proper PPE.
The Sunday Times followed with their Insight Team’s investigation into the government’s handling of the outbreak with a highly critical portrayal of a disinterested, complacent and Cobra-missing PM defining a “lost five weeks” under the title: Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster
The government published an extraordinary claim-and-response rebuttal of the article on the Department of Health’s own blog.
Failure to prepare, failure to react
Last night’s Panorama programme focused on the PPE crisis in the NHS – the failure to prepare and the continuing failure to react, reporting the consequence of myriad failures on the health and well being of care workers, and on the country that cares for them.
How many standing in silence this morning, to honour the fallen, were thinking about how many key workers died due to poor PPE?
How many had heard the son of dead consultant ask the health secretary on LBC radio this morning, if he regretted not taking the father’s warnings over PPE seriously enough?
How many heard the Matt Hancock repeatedly refuse to accept that mistakes have been made?
The consultant’s plea for PPE, ignored by the PM
Five days before he was admitted to Queen’s Hospital, London, for coronavirus on March 23, Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury – a consultant urologist at London’s Homerton University Hospital – had warned Boris Johnson about the lack of PPE.
Dr Chowdhury pleaded for “appropriate PPE and remedies” in order to “protect ourselves and our families” in letter sent to Downing Street two weeks before his death.
On April 10, Dr Chowdhury’s son, Intisar said: “He saw that NHS workers didn’t have enough PPE and he made a call for that…He may have written a letter for that and maybe at the time it didn’t get the attention it deserved, but now, for sure, we are giving it the attention it deserves. And we are not going to stop.”
Intisar said: “We are making sure we are heard and my father’s voice is heard and that my father’s passing is not in vain.”
‘Over 100 NHS and social care workers have passed away’
This morning, as the country stopped at 11 o’clock to remember the key workers who have died, an 18-year son of a dead doctor asked the health secretary, why was his father’s voice was ignored?
“When he was unwell he wrote an open letter to the prime minister appealing for more PPE for NHS frontline workers, it was a request that was ignored, two weeks later he passed away and since then over 100 NHS and social care workers have passed away from contracting the virus,” said Intisar.
“Do you regret not taking my dad’s concerns, my 11-year-old sister’s concerns … seriously enough for my dad that we’ve all lost?”
Tonight, Intisar is still asking for an apology – and tomorrow he will still be making sure his father’s plea for PPE is heard.