A paramedic who is allegedly still waiting for his coronavirus result five weeks after taking the test, has slammed the Government for failing NHS staff “from the beginning”.
Dan Bradshaw, from Leeds, was one of a number of health care workers to write in to the BBC’s Question Time last night, to criticise the response to the pandemic.
According to figures, Britain could be set to have the highest death rate from Covid-19 across all of Europe, though Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared the country is passed the peak.
In his biting comment, Mr Bradshaw said: “The Government have failed NHS staff from the beginning of this crisis.
“They are still failing to provide PPE and adequate testing to frontline health care workers.
“I am a frontline health care worker and was tested almost five weeks ago. Still no results. When is the Government going to get a grip?”
It came after leading geneticist Sir Paul Nurse criticised the UK for being “totally unprepared” and “playing catch-up for this entire pandemic”.
He referred to the unpublished findings of Exercise Cygnus in 2016, which suggested Britain could be easily overwhelmed in a health crisis due to lack of planning and resources.
“Was the NHS well enough funded to actually take that report seriously and lead when the pandemic took place, in really getting on the front foot?
“We have been playing catch up for this entire pandemic and I think when it’s analysed we will see that we didn’t do very well.
“It’s our lack of preparation which was the start of our trouble,” he added.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said “the point is to have tests available” and said the UK is on course to get at least “very close” to the 100,000 tests per day by the end of the month, with Wednesday’s total at 90,000.
“The testing capacity is there,” he said. “The fact is, it’s a huge effort to build this up. Ideally… if we could do this all again, we would like 100,000 testing capacity from the outset.”
However, he admitted he didn’t know what had happened in the case of Mr Bradshaw’s test results, but encouraged all health care workers to go online and arrange testing.
He added that the new tracing app will be available in the middle of May, describing it as an “important part of taking us forward”.
However, Sir Paul said: “The 100,000 target is just a figure with a lot of noughts in it.
“It was, as far as I was concerned, a bit of a PR stunt which has gone a bit wrong. I mean – 100,000? Why 100,000? Where was the strategy under that? I haven’t seen a strategy under it.
“It just sounded good. We shouldn’t get hung up on that. The real reality is this – if we’d had local testing connected to local hospitals we could have made hospitals a safe place.”
Though former Chancellor and now editor of the Evening Standard George Osborne said the picture is not necessarily as bleak as the one Sir Paul painted, suggesting Britain’s response has been “somewhere in the middle”.
“We haven’t had the testing as quick as we’d like. We probably went into the lockdown too slowly, but on the other hand, as Grant was just saying, the hospitals haven’t fallen over and the capacity has been built and people are getting the ventilators when they need them,” he said.
Host Fiona Bruce suggested it’s a “very different story in social care” to which Mr Osborne said: “Other countries in Europe are having terrible problems in social care.”
“And things like protective equipment – we all saw in Germany, which we know has been doing very well, the doctors all protesting that they didn’t have the protective equipment.
“So, Britain is not unique. I think we’re somewhere in the middle. In terms of preparedness, clearly we were not as well prepared as we should have been done for a pandemic that was not a pandemic flu.”
The former chancellor did not, however, agree as suggested by Ms Bruce that Britain could be moving into ‘austerity mark 2’ after he’d suggested taxes may have to rise or cuts will have to be made to recover from lockdown.
However, he said it is likely that for the first time in years, the economy would be playing a centre stage in politics again.