I’ve decamped from Surrey. Swapped the leaves and lawns for London and a balcony…
… with window boxes, burgeoning with life. This morning, the sky was blue and gin-clear, the river wore its best silver jacket and the daffodils nodded, knowing Spring was here.
I’m not far from ExCel. The activity is around the clock. City Airport is hushed. A bright yellow road sweeping lorry threads its way up and down the runway.
Only the news helicopters use it with their incessant clatter. How many pictures of the roof of an exhibition centre do they want?
Occasionally, the airport bursts into life. An RAF, C-17 Globemaster lll lands with a hush, unloads and pulls its way back into the sky, with a trajectory like the slope on the Corona-graph.
The ExCel effort has been biblical, the results miraculous. What ever it looks like on the TV, it’s bigger in the reality. Super-quick building and not a moment too soon. The main wave of patients will probably hit next week.
I don’t know whose master-hand has directed the effort but they are safe-hands. If only they could turn their attention to testing…
There are miniature, blue-grape hyacinths in the window box… tiny, trembling in the breeze. Almost fearful of their relentless urban surroundings… I’m asking myself, were will it end. Where will I be, where will we all be, this time next year?
The world will be a different place. Poorer, certainly. Kinder? Perhaps. More willing to work together? International economies can’t be repaired unless we do.
There will be a difficult conversation with China. A crackdown on their public health rules for livestock markets and an international agreement on notifiable infections, might be the price they will have to pay, for getting back into export markets.
We may have learned about the importance of transparency. Political obfuscation and dissembling over something as simple as making sure clinicians and carers had the right protective equipment, would be a start.
Looking for honesty and truthfulness in the corridors of power… you might as well be blind.
Downright dishonesty over the arrangements for testing will have been exposed in the inevitable public inquiry.
We will have learned that our NHS is so much better than the regional system in Italy, the fragmented insurance mess in the US, culminating in States and companies competing against each other for ventilators.
Will have learned social solidarity isn’t about student politics. It’s about the realpolitik.
I hope we will have learned the delegated authority the nations of Scotland and Wales and N Ireland enjoy, to run their healthcare systems, doesn’t help when it comes to buying things at scale.
I hope the data police, a year older, will have grown-up and realised sharing data saves lives and everything they do to prevent health professionals from doing it, costs lives.
Do you think we will have learned, an IT system based on a free-for-all, is not such a good idea. There is a ‘national’ in the National Health Service for a reason. A national IT system looks like a lesson worth learning to me.
The public will have learned most of what they routinely want the NHS for, can be done on a smart-phone, people can work from home and half of the NHS estate is redundant.
Will we have learned, Public Health England is too big and sprawling, NHSE&I and the DH and scientific advisors and CMOs create organisational interfaces, decision-points, hand-overs and delays and the politicians that voted for Lansley’s Lunacy should be quietly passed the pearl-handled Colt 38.
Will we have learned, saving money on stores of emergency supplies, mask and gowns, only stockpiles problems. There is no disguising it.
We will know we can come together at a national garden of remembrance, to thank our Gods for the lives of the ones who were spared and for the souls who were not… died alone surrounded by machines and people veiled in visors.
Most, I hope we will have realised there is no such thing as the NHS. There are people who believe in the power of collectivism, of doing good for good’s sake. People who will actually put themselves at risk, to take others out of danger.
People who redefine commitment, duty, community and purpose.
People whose vocation we have exploited.
People, who despite it all, came through, delivered and can cry, shout, hug, kiss and rejoice in their humanity.
News and Comment from Roy Lilley