DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND.
There is host of differences between Scotland and England when it comes to dealing with Covid. Let’s look at a few of them.
Nicola has been justly praised for her communication. Throughout the crisis her message has been clear, her early commitment to explaining the thinking behind the decisions has been well received and has led to widespread public support for most of the measures that have been introduced. Jeanne Freeman has also been very effective.
In England the communication errors would be high up the list of Government failures. Messaging has been confused, the public have lost faith in the politicians and that has led to the explosion in infection levels. Now that crisis point has arrived, the UK Government have finally appointed a head communicator to take over the messaging. The good news for her is she can hardly do worse.
The NHS in Scotland never faced the shortages that were widespread in England. In Scotland the SNP government recognised the problem from the start and appointed Ivan McKee MSP to source what the Scottish NHS needed. Ivan was a very experienced and successful businessman before he entered Parliament. He secured what the Scottish NHS needed, including putting in place Scottish sourced supply chains convincing some Scottish businesses to change their production cycles and product ranges to allow production for the Scottish NHS. Secured with long term contracts it helps secure a more robust procurement system for Scotland.
In England it was chaos. The TORIES a couple of years previously had privatised purchasing for the NHS. The key “cost savings” identified was getting rid of the warehousing where NHS stocks were held and moving to a “just in time model” which is common in other manufacturing business. This system is designed for easily forecast demand in repetitive industries. It was madness to think it would work in the public health field where demand is not so forecastable even in normal times and completely useless when a pandemic strikes. The result was there were desperate shortages of PPE and ill equipped staff were left in the frontline minus the effective PPE to keep them safe. This resulted in many unnecessary deaths amongst doctors and nurses in those early weeks of the crisis.
In a panic the Government sought to secure PPE from anywhere in the World. Much of the product purchased was useless and below spec. Huge sums of money was spent without any safeguards and due diligence. Competitive tendering went out the window. The only part of the process that worked well was making sure huge contracts were handed to companies that were close to the Tory Party and were donors. Even when they had no experience of supplying the products the contracts called for. It is happening to this day, earlier this week this blog highlighted a contract to a 45 day old company for goods costing £122 million to people well known as Tory donors.
TRACK AND TRACE
In Scotland it is controlled by the public sector through the Scottish NHS. A big expansion of track and tracers but built onto existing teams that were experienced and knowledgeable of what was needed. Thus far, even with the increased numbers following the rise in new infections, it has worked well and is making a significant contribution to dealing with the spike in new infections. It still has the capacity to expand the system if necessary.
In England it has been a disaster. Against all expert advice, the UK Government decided to reject investing in the existing local authority and health team tracking systems and privatised the whole programme to Serco. A few weeks later, as reports came in that it was not working very well and the people involved could only handle the simple cases, having to hand over any complex problems to the cash starved public sector, the Government discovered that the “World beating track and trace system” that Boris had been boasting about had in fact been subcontracted to a multitude of other companies by Serco. This of course ensured nobody could say with any authority what had and was going wrong. Worse, the Government had permitted all those private companies to use the NHS label, doing enormous reputation damage to the brand.
The UK Government entered its usual period of denial until in the last forty eight hours when they have announced they are now going to properly fund public sector track and trace on a local authority basis. This is of course what they should have done from the start. This is not being said in hindsight I wrote about this being the most effective route from the start having read a very convincing article in Private Eye about not going the Serco route.
So let nobody tell you there is no difference between Scotland and England, there is and the statistics back it up. Devolution has saved many Scottish lives. Independence would have saved more. With Independence Scotland would have held the power to close our borders. We suffered a huge unnecessary rise in reinfection due to our border remaining open during the English holiday season. There is no doubt that contributed to the recent spike in cases.
I regret I find it necessary to severely criticise the SNP on a range of internal matters but on the Covid 19 crisis we are very lucky to have them in charge and they have done a good job despite the lack of powers to do more. So it’s certainly a big thank you from me.
I am, as always
YOURS FOR SCOTLAND.
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