This week, I tweeted very lukewarm praise of the Government’s approach to vaccines. I said that, so far, and when looked at in isolation, the Government and the NHS deserve some credit for the vaccine programme.
I suspect that this won’t be my most popular opinion, but I stand by this. I’m not blind to the fiasco around the second appointments, and I know uncertainty around deliveries is making life impossible for many GPs.
But credit where it is due – in my opinion, the Government does deserve praise for the funding of the Oxford vaccine in particular, for the foresight involved in purchasing enough doses in advance (again, we have to ignore the ethics behind a first world country hoarding the vaccines – as I said, this is lukewarm praise).
And yes, for the planning. I don’t think we can ignore the context – it’s the biggest public health programme in the history of the country, and it’s been done at breakneck speed. The issues that GPs are seeing are awful for those involved. But it’s been surprising to me and the news team that many areas are not seeing problems, or they are being resolved fairly swiftly (we have been following up all reports of problems we receive). The fact we haven’t seen worse problems in such a major programme is a pleasant surprise.
Now, of course, this is in huge part due to the efforts of GPs and the rest of the NHS front line workers – this hardly needs saying.
And, when it comes to the Government, I am almost certainly guilty of lowering my expectations too much. Maybe even lukewarm credit for avoiding the absolute chaos seen elsewhere is too much.
Now, unsurprisingly, my tweet got a lot of negative responses from GPs. And I completely understand why. Because, despite my protestations, this can’t be viewed in isolation. It feels as though the Government has channelled all its small amount of competence into this area. It means we might come out of this pandemic a little sooner than other countries, but at a cost of a death rate way above most of our peers.
And, due to the numerous fiascos in the past – Test and Trace, PPE, shielding, eat out to help out, schools open or shut, not closing our borders, free school meals, commute to work (I could go on) – it’s impossible to view the actions of this Government in a positive light. Even when they potentially deserve it.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.