Peter Rhodes on an NHS landmark, the quest for fairness and an author's Covid-19 nightmare

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Michael Rosen (Photo: Andy Cunningham)
Michael Rosen (Photo: Andy Cunningham)

According to yet another poll, only six per cent of the public wants to return to the same type of economy as we had before the pandemic. At the same time, 350 public figures including trade unionists, bosses and clergy, want a “fairer and greener” recovery. Well, pardon my cynicism but if somebody sticks a clipboard in your face and piously asks the questions, how many of us are going to ask for a recovery that is less green and much more unfair, thanks? What we say in public is not always what we want in private.

In my experience, when people claim to want a fairer society, they mean a society which is fair for everybody else, and a tiny bit fairer for themselves.

The scrum is over but the images linger on. I never thought I'd see the day when a lot of people on Bournemouth beach would be officially described as “a major incident.”

People would take Covid-19 more seriously if they heard children's author Michael Rosen discussing the horrific after-effects of his seven-week ordeal in intensive care. He has sight loss, hearing loss, liver and kidney damage, walks with a stick and feels constantly “feeble.” This is not a live-or-die disease. There is a nightmare of possibilities.

There's a campaign for one last super-clap for the NHS on Sunday to mark its 72nd anniversary. Include me out,. At least until we are quite sure what we are applauding.

Are we not a wee bit worried, for example, at the latest figures showing that up to one in five Covid-19 patients acquired the infection while being treated for other conditions in NHS hospitals? Or that nearly 90 per cent of NHS staff with the virus caught it in hospitals? Or that the national figures may have been skewed because one unnamed hospital trust was “known to have poor infection-control procedures”? Happy birthday, NHS. But this anniversary happens when, for the first time in its 72 years, the NHS is being measured for months on end against the best and worst health systems in the world. This is almost heresy but I suggest we brace ourselves for the verdict that the NHS, for all the individual hard work and sacrifice of its staff, is not as good as we like to think.

After last week's survey showing a third of Brits actually enjoyed lockdown, another taboo tumbles. This time it is the oft-repeated tale that old folk simply adore looking after the grandchildren.

A reader in his 60s writes: “I and many of my friends are in absolutely no hurry to return to 'normal'. We love our children and grandchildren but weekends have never been so peaceful and during the week we no longer feel like we're 'on call' in case of an emergency. Wonderful.” The heresies just go on and on . . .

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