Covid lessons to be learned

I am sure many will want to put the year 2020 behind them and try to forget it. I am equally sure that most people hope that 2021 will be a lot better.

However, it can be useful to reflect on the old year, to look at the things that went wrong, and why; and try to learn from our mistakes so we do not repeat them! We should also try to identify any good things that we may learned and try to hang onto them.

So, what can we learn from the Coronavirus pandemic? First, the bureaucracies of the NHS and Central Government are so bound up in red tape that they are unable to respond rapidly to an emergency such as that caused by an infectious disease. These days, because of world-wide travel (particularly by air), the germs (such as the COVID virus) can spread around the world in a matter of days. So, the Government’s response to the spread was nearly always too little, too late.

This was true of the provision of personal protective equipment, testing, and track and trace. Furthermore, quarantine measures, such as self-isolation and social distancing, were not properly policed, nor breaches punished appropriately.

Second, politicians and their expert advisors proved to be poor communicators. Their guidelines and advice, their rules and regulations and their written documents were delivered in a way that seemed to be designed to confuse rather than clarify.

Third, we discovered just how much of our economy consists of leisure and pleasure rather than the production of goods. Economists, now, concentrate on our gross domestic product whereas, just as individuals have to manage their income and expenditure, nations should (as they used to) concentrate on their balance of payments – the money value of their exports and imports.

We can learn from these failings and turn them into successes provided we are prepared to consider some radical restructuring of management systems and bureaucratic processes, protocols and procedures. The use of the armed services in the rapid setting up and running of COVID test centres was an example of speed and efficiency. Their officers have clearly defined levels of power and authority to make decisions and act on them and they bear responsibility for them.

We have also learned at least one good thing, which we must nurture in future. There is a lot of goodwill about and not just at Christmas! People have cared for the lonely and vulnerable members of their communities.

Those who provide public services – whether at local or national level – must recognise that their primary function is to provide a proper service to the people of this country. They must ensure that there are enough front-line staff and that they are given the necessary equipment to do their job. People must come ahead of protocols and profit.

Malcolm Morrison

Prospect Hill

Old Town

Not so happy new year

As a die hard Brexiteer I shall bide my time regarding comment on Boris Johnson's deal. Let us settle for the moment on half a loaf is better than none. Back to more important issues regarding normal life. Having spent the most miserable Christmas in my lifetime and expecting the most miserable New Year. Sacrosanct to a Scotsman. When is Bungling Boris and his entourage of paid up flunkeys going to realise that lockdowns do not work? The harm done by this ridiculous panicking mantra is endless.

Business bankruptcies with the job losses that entails. Serious illness like cancer treatment being delayed. Increased domestic violence rates. Funerals and weddings being denied their proper invitations of joy or respect. Musicians and the performing arts denied a living . Elderly people dying in care homes alone and seeing their relatives through double glazed windows. Charities being denied the generosity of many meetings of institutions to contribute to their needs .Of which I am proudly a member of one. Putting on a mask to enter a shop when you have no intention of robbing the till. But too boost it with a legal purchase. Finally, last but not least. Many of the do as I say, but not as I do. Have been caught red handed in their hypocrisy by their personal actions. What did our parents say about your conduct setting an example. Happy New Year everybody.

Bill Williams

Merlin Way