Covid-19 Archive

Daily Newsletter Wednesday 20th May 2020


Well yesterday was utterly shambolic in Government data circles. After two days of fantastic death rates, sub 200 people, the Government announces 545 deaths and admits that the previous data was wrong. After 10 weeks of this process, this is unforgiveable. It cannot be hard. It sadly takes days or weeks to die of Covid-19. The hospital will have all Covid-19 patients tagged. Why is collating and reporting deaths so difficult?

Back in 2001, I was managing the waiting list crisis in Bedford Hospital. We had a strict reporting protocol, for each hospital. The numbers of patients on waiting lists for all disciplines and the numbers of free beds had to be reported into the Department of Health by 09:00 each day. If your figures were late, a call came in by 09:30 to chase them. If your figures were poor or contained inaccuracies, then the Secretary of State would ring personally before lunchtime to demand an explanation. This was Alan Milburn. I didn't like the man and he didn't like me, but we both had an iron grip on the data and knew it was important to get it right and on time. He needed to report to the Prime Minister daily and then to Parliament.

I have tried to be supportive of the Government process and strategy up until now, but I am losing patience with poor processes, a poor strategy and poor decision making. I know that there is a bigger picture and that governing in a crisis is tough. But that is what they are being paid to do!

When this is over, there will be the usual pointless public inquiry targeting the failures of individuals and looking for scape goats. It would be much more constructive to rebuild a proper machinery of Government. During my career I worked in Whitehall in the eras of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. I watched the machinery of Government slowly erode as "sofa cabinets" became the norm. David Cameron did nothing to reverse this, and also had a casual style, leading to ad hoc decisions. Theresa May tried to rebuild the Government machinery but was derailed by Brexit. Boris Johnson, for all his leadership qualities, inherited a broken decision making process. And then he was hit by the Covid-19 train, completely unprepared.

Sadly, there is a Churchillian parallel. We had a country and Government largely unprepared for war. Some crazy decisions were taken in the early days and we got ourselves into a huge mess. It took Churchill to harness the spirit of the British people to dig us out of the mess that shouldn't have happened in the first place in the way it did. However, immediately after the war, the British people sacked Churchill and appointed Atlee. I fear the same may happen again after this crisis is over.


None that we know of.


545 deaths were reported by the Government yesterday taking us to 35,341 across the UK. The number of new lab confirmed cases fell to nearly 2,412. The jump in the death figure represents yet another failure in reporting, as admitted by the NHS. Frankly this is shambolic. How hard can it be to decide whether someone has died from Covid-19?


In Northamptonshire another 14 cases were reported yesterday with the specimen dates being spread back over the last few days.

1 new infection was reported in East Northamptonshire yesterday.

Local Authority Cases per 100,000 population Daily increase
Bedford 552 321.6 4
Kettering 208 205.4 2
Northampton 447 198.5 6
East Northamptonshire 171 182.1 1
Wellingborough 137 172.4 1
Corby 112 158.1 2

Daily links (all verified):

Daily Podcast
Daily newsletter
Pause for thought

Parish History
Puzzle Library
Making masks from socks
(click not now when it asks you to sign up to FaceBook)

Advice on breathing with Covid-19 Symptoms
Vulnerable Household registration
Northamptonshire County Council Support Line Call 0300 126 1000 and select Option 5 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm)
Longhurst Housing Association Support Line Call 0300 123 1745
Village support line Call 07850 570007 in the first instance and Iíll find you help
ASDA Volunteer Card
Covid-19 Symptom Tracker
Live UK Covid-19 Tracker
(Public Health England)
Parish Council Walking Leaflet

And finally . . .

The Government is struggling with rapidly shifting targets...

Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives