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  • The Choice

No Country Ever, Improved the Health of its Nation by making itself poorer.

As the UK approaches 55'000 deaths with covid meantioned on the certificate, England finds itself in lockdown, Scotland has less restrictions, but similarly damaging to the economy. Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson repeatedly tell us that they will be guided by the science and data (a phrase repeatedly used by Domenic Cummings during his Brexit campaign as can be seen in Channel 4's Brexit: The Uncivil War, released in 2019.) Precisely what science and data is this. In March 2020, professor Neil Fergusons and his team created a model which said that if we did nothing, more than 400'000 would die, and predicted that with various measures put in place, we could have less than 20'000 deaths. The accuracy of this model has been questioned by some quarters, however, this model only measured the spread of COVID.

The UK and Scottish government then passed into law The Coronavirus Act, which gave the respective governments a license to more or less do what they wanted. The UK was put into a lockdown, forcing the closure of thousands of business, many of which never re-opened, thousands of people made redundant. NHS was reduced to emergency treatment, elderly were sent back to carehomes, some of whom had COVID, routine scanning was halted, dentistry has ground to a standstill.

Where were the models which would calculate the long term effects of the unprecedented economic downturn we are about to see, in 2010 with the voting in of The Conservatives, we entered a decade of austerity, Labour left their office with that famous post-it note... There's no money left.. So when the COVID droplets clear the air and the the dust finally settles, where does that leave the UK, another decade of austerity?

With thousands thrown into poeverty through unemployment and business closures, the UK will undoubtedly see a long lasting negative health effect, suicides will rise, a huge NHS backlog existed before the lockdown, this has grown massively. The UK's national debt has grown by a stagerring 450 billion in 2020 with the money being used to take measures like buying PPE, furlough, eatout to helpout.

What could have been differently, with a proper debate and credible opposition, perhaps the UK could have been better prepared, exercise cygnus by the NHS highlighted a lack of preparedness in 2016. However the real root of the problem doesn't lie just with the Conservatives, the UK has lost almost 200'000 hospital beds over the last two decades, one might believe how is that possible, governments, including the SNP, favoured superhospitals instead of community hospitals in a bid to save costs. Imagine we still had the same number of beds and community hospitals today, which could still carry out routine screening and surgeries, whilst the larger hospitals dealt with the coronavirus cases.

Having a health service prepared to deal with the pandemic would be just one side of the equation, the other side of it would be the population, could the UK have announced measures to protect the vulnerable, using the 300 billion to support those who needed it whilst allowing the country to function as close to normal as possible, already businesses, particularly the hospitality industry, has spend millions adapting their businesses to COVID regulations and guidance, if this money had been spent properly, the country could have navigated this pandemic without having an economic disaster aswell as a health disaster.

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