I’m guilty.  It’s a nonsense phrase.  I use it all the time.  Idiomatic idiocy.

I find myself saying, ‘we are where we are‘.  Of course we are.  Where else are we, dummy…

I think I mean we have to deal with the actualité.  Deal with what we have to deal with.  Deal with this moment and it’s no good wishing it wasn’t like this.

Well, we are where we are… that’s for sure but I am not sure exactly where we are.  

With me so far?

Are we in the middle of the Coronademic?  Can we see the end?  Are we no where near the end, is it on the way out, the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?  Dunno.  

For some, it seems it’s over.  Business as usual.  Reverting to type.

The Home Secretary, who does for sincerity what Marigold gloves do for brain surgery, is back to normal.  She praises care-workers and then makes their lives more difficult by increasing the NHS surcharge for overseas NHS and care-workers to £600 a year.  

Welcome to BoJo’s Britain.  It’s easy to forget what his government is really like.  An emerging and worrying symptom of the Coronademic is national amnesia.  

We’ve forgotten we’ve a shortage of 100,000 health and 120,000 care staff.  Most developed healthcare systems are in a scramble to attract and recruit.  Quite how Ms Patel’s cunning plan will work… dunno.

But we are where we are…

I think it is safe to say, one place we are not, is on the same page as BoJo.

The teachers aren’t convinced, by the look of public transport, neither are the public and the parks are full of kids playing football.

If anything, it looks to me like HMG is losing public confidence.  At the beginning, we were all shell-shocked and let BoJo, when he woke-up to the threat, get on with it.

We were dazzled by the scientist and doctors.

Now, we are where we are… and we know a lot more.

For instance, we know; 

  • R0 is nothing more than a cobbled together average, about 14 days out of date and we’ve tumbled to the fact, it will be different down-your-way from up-mine.  It’s a guess. 
  • That means we know there is no one size-fits-all way out of this.
  • We fair badly in international death comparisons, why hide the data in the daily briefings and pretend it doesn’t matter.  We can get them from Google.
  • Masks make absolute sense, people have worn them for weeks.
  • Testing is still in the foothills, incomplete, inadequate and there is still a shortage of reagent.  People in hospital wait for results.
  • Care homes are a disaster, everyone knows HMG’s early advice was wrong.
  • Anosmia is a symptom, front-line doctors have said it for weeks.
  • There’s still not enough PPE, the front-line exhausted, from repeating the point.  

… all of which, at some stage, has been denied or spun at the No10 press briefings, not by the politicians, who we know not to trust but by the professionals, who we thought we could.

All too little, too late.  It seems I’m not the only one to say so.

I hate to say this but I’ve got to the point where I don’t trust any of them any further than I could thrown them… two-meters. 

HMG needs to regain public trust.  Trust is not a mechanical thing, built on graphs and numbers.  It’s an emotional thing;

  • Scrap the 5pm briefings, they’ve lost credibility.  Change the format, make BoJo do them all, like Sturgeon, Macron and the Governor of New York.  Hold his feet to the fire.  
  • Get journalists like Andrew Neil, back in the room.  Proper questions from a proper journalist, not TV news celebrities.
  • Focus on the positives.  How many people have survived CV-19, last week?  Dunno…
  • Honesty; we know there are problems, discuss them openly, with the people most affected… us.
  • Stop making announcements and changes and expect people to catch-up and go-along-with-it.  Include them.
  • Start a national conversation about what comes next.  Then shut-up and listen.
  • Admit mistakes, say what went wrong and tell what you’ve learned.  Like buying rubbish from Turkey and calling it procuring PPE.
  • Ask people how they are doing, set up national listening networks.
  • Pass more of the decisions down-the-line to regional and county level.  The only thing R0 is good for is to tell us where we are different.  Let people find local solutions to national imperatives.

Real leaders learn, trust is the glue of life.  We are where we are… where’s that?  Unglued.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley

Contact Roy – please use this e-address roy.lilley@nhsmanagers.net

Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Roy Lilley.