Daily View 2×2: 30 April 2020

2 big stories

So, will Matt Hancock reach his target of 100,000 tests today? And even if that capacity is reached, will they be carried out? It’s not looking terribly optimistic when even NHS Providers, which represents foundation trusts in England, dismisses the 100,000 target as a “red herring” that distracted from the failures of ministers.

Setting targets and missing them is bad enough, but setting meaningless, and possibly even misdirected ones, and msssing them anyway, seems to be the story of this Government’s handling of the crisis.

It’s a sign of the general uselessness of the British print media that, for a sense of how businesses in a local community are struggling to survive, the Washington Post offers something far more useful than most of our hometown newspapers.

In this piece, Christine Spolar talks to business owners in Exmouth Market, opposite the Mount Pleasant sorting office in inner London, and examines the sort of support that they might be entitled to.

2 social media posts

I should thank my cousin Kim for bringing this to my attention. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has attracted some attention for her responses to a series of challenges, and in this blog post, a New Zealand blogger addresses the failure of the National Party, the official Opposition, to give her any real credit for her successes. Warning – some of the language is a bit salty.

You might not immediately connect the House of Lords and You Tube, but yesterday’s proceedings in the Upper House have been published on YouTube. It’s almost mesmeric…

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6 Comments

  • I fully expected the 100,000 to be missed – they said as much at the time it was announced. The purpose of the target wasn’t so much about being macho but about setting out the ground for testing – so that suppliers and providers can set out their stalls accordingly. Doing a few thousand tests a day with results back in a week requires a very different delivery infrastructure to one capable of doing 100,000 and results in 24 hours.

    The problem which we have seen repeatedly is that people fixate on numbers, turning them from indicators to hard must be achieved goals. I’ve seen this repeatedly across the decades in sales and project management.

    So I’m comfortable with the direction of travel, yes it would be helpful if things were progressing quicker, but problems are to be expected under the circumstances; the real issue is are those problems being resolved or are people (such as the NHS Trusts) simply throwing up their hands and finger pointing.

  • Laurence Cox 30th Apr '20 - 1:18pm

    Testing on its own is not sufficient, this concentration on the number tested is nothing more than what I call ‘willy-waving’ – we are testing more than country x therefore we are doing a good job and need to carry on as we are.

    Testing is no more than one leg of a stool; we also need contact tracing and isolation of those contacted until they have been tested and shown to be disease-free. With three legs the stool stands up; with one or two it falls down.

    See these articles from New Statesman for a more detailed argument for TTI:

    https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/health/2020/04/without-army-contact-tracers-matt-hancock-s-100000-daily-virus-tests-will-be

    https://www.newstatesman.com/2020/04/caught-second-wave

  • Phil Beesley 30th Apr '20 - 3:22pm

    Government knew and knows that things are going wrong. Too many people have fallen ill, too many have died, the announcement about PPE from Turkey was a PR disaster. It was and is necessary to provide a distraction, and testing numbers are the perfect answer. The concentration on testing numbers deflects us from the things which matter. Nobody directly dies if a test is not performed, so when there is a testing failure we’ll miss the ball with our criticism.

    How much kit arrived from Turkey in the delivery we have almost forgotten? Any subsequent deliveries?

    Note also the recent announcement about using ‘drones’ to supply hospitals. Dig a bit deeper and it turns out that the ‘drones’ are remote controlled planes with two petrol engines, registered on the same database as light aircraft. They have a payload of 100kg. So well done to the relevant university for generating a story about one of their projects, but let’s not get carried away.

    https://www.southampton.ac.uk/news/2020/04/drones-covid-iow.page

    If you need to deliver something from Southampton to the Isle of Wight in a couple of hours, you put it on the ferry (depending on service) or on a plane. You don’t need a ‘drone’ to deliver oxygen cylinders, medical clothing and drugs if you are actually in control of the situation; everything is already in place or on the boat.

    I hope that the project team has a few runs in parallel with more conventional delivery services. It’s a significant project which might make a difference in developing nations. Don’t allow PR fluff to misrepresent the project.

  • Andrew Daer 1st May '20 - 5:57am

    I hope we won’t fall victim to the desire for point-scoring over the 100,000 tests target the same way Labour have. If we’ve missed miss the target by not very much, that proves Matt Hancock set it about right. When you set a target like this it ought to be a stretch for those trying to fulfill it; if they over-achieve you must have set it too low. Regarding the idea that a round figure with so many noughts must have been plucked out of the air, of course it was. The alternative would have been to use data from the last few Covid 19 pandemics, which we all know doesn’t exist. If Kier Starmer goes on sniping at people like Hancock just because he can, Labour might as well have stuck with their previous leader.

  • Philip Moss 1st May '20 - 11:58am

    There must be good reasons why testing did not take place at hospitals and care homes and by GP. In that way there would have been control over patients unlucky enough to catch the virus. Surely these institutions/individuals would have been able to acheive this.
    Any explanation please? Of course if hospitals had the test equipment they could have teasted patients before returning to care home after treatment. Would it have been reasonable to convert some/majority of NHS hospitals to “fever hospitals” so that the possibilty of cross infection could have reduced or even stoped. Just asking.

  • >Would it have been reasonable to convert some/majority of NHS hospitals to “fever hospitals”
    I thought that was the purpose of the Nightingale Hospitals. I think because so far the NHS has been able to cope, we haven’t seen the switchover yet – but then with the easing of lockdown it does make sense to increase segregation so this may happen.

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