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A Normal Conservative Winter?

January 5, 2022 6:15 PM

The first duty of a government is the security of its people. How many times have you heard that? It's usually to justify more spending on defence or harsher prison sentences. But why does it not apply to health care? This morning health minister Gillian Keegan gave an interview on the Today programme. Just before the interview we heard that seventeen hospitals in Greater Manchester were pausing routine work because of the Omicron crisis and it was likely that many other districts would have to follow suit. Later in the day that emergency ambulance calls with targets of 18 minutes were taking hours and, linked to this, heart attack patients were being advised to get themselves to hospital. Ms Keegan was stunning in her complacency. According to her this was almost normal winter behaviour, "We often slow down certain electives", she said. To which two questions, Why do we often have to slow down - could it be that our government has not taken care of the NHS, not just because of insufficient money, but also inadequate staff support and planning, continuous re-organisations, failure of social care, migration controls and so on! And the second question: is this slow down no worse than a normal year?! With 6 million on the waiting list. Wake up Ms Keegan.

Mishal Husain then asked about Ms Keegan's attitude to the unvaccinated. That's a dangerous area: how much more pressure should be put on those who are not vaccinated to comply with recommendations and should health care for them be restricted if they get ill. It would have been nice to see some sign that the minister had grappled with these problems. For a brief moment I wondered if she would step into dangerous water when she said, "I'm not hesitant at all about being tough on the unvaccinated" but then the tired record of how many vaccine slots the government had created. Nothing about any other imaginative actions the government had done or were considering to help win over the vaccine hesitant.