Boris Johnson failed to provide a coherent plan for Brexit – is it any surprise he is floundering over the lifting of the coronavirus lockdown?
So we are promised a comprehensive plan from the Johnson stable setting out how and when we might eventually come out of lockdown.
If memory serves me right, we were going to see a comprehensive plan for adult social care before the pandemic had even started. We were also going to see the report of the National Security Committee into alleged Russian interference in the 2017 general election, now almost three years ago.
No doubt further plans to address the housing shortage, labour shortages in the NHS and elsewhere, homelessness and failing infrastructure are also in the pipeline – though, hang on a minute, weren’t they going to build 200,000 houses a year, recruit 50,000 new NHS staff and thousands more to pick the crops?
Plans are useless unless they result in timely, sustained and targeted actions designed to bring about specific outcomes. Why is my level of scepticism about any new plan at an all-time high?
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Every time I hear a minister announce that they are ‘straining every sinew’, ‘working night and day’ and ‘doing everything possible,’ I am reminded of a curt comment made to me by an Ofsted inspector: ‘The government does not
pay us to be interested in good intentions. We are only interested in outcomes’. Perhaps the government should measure itself by its own standards.
The priority of testing for coronavirus should be to inform strategy, to discover where and how resources should be targeted. The NHS needs to know where the virus is prevalent, who needs to be specifically quarantined and which areas potentially could be released from lockdown.
When Matt Hancock set a target of 100,000 tests a day it was only to match the level of testing in other countries where it was already integrated into their effective strategies.
In a manic panic to reach 100,000 by April 30, 27,497 tests were mailed out. The authoritative Health Service Journal commented, ‘It is just a massive one-day mission on the part of Amazon and the Royal Mail’.
No strategy, no purpose, just a desperate drive to get to 100,000 tests by the end of April. Such ridiculous attempts to meet a self imposed target, with no reference or judgement as to why such testing is so important, is both ineffective and dangerous.
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