Dr Jenny Harries’ ‘international exemplar’ remark tops off another week of government coronavirus ineptitude

Dr Jenny Harries & Gavin Williamson
Peadar O'Cearnaigh

On 19 April, England’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries addressed the government’s coronavirus (Covid-19) daily press conference. Education secretary Gavin Williamson led the conference.

In response to a question from BBC health editor Hugh Pym about declining personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies in the UK prior to the pandemic, Harries said the UK “has been an international exemplar in preparedness”:

Disbelief

There was utter disbelief online, and it wasn’t the first time Harries’ comments have caused concern. It was also a tragic and fitting end to another week of botched government handling of this pandemic. At the time of publishing, the recorded death toll in UK hospitals has reached 16,060 people and the number of confirmed cases stands at 120,067. Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said:

In a very cutting tweet, one person compared her remarks to the sinking of the Titanic:

Not the only cause for concern

And it didn’t end there. Because Harries went on to say:

From my own professional perspective…we could perhaps have a more adult and more detailed conversation about PPE supplies.

She said the conversation now “quite rightly” focuses on gown supplies. But she said it’s important to remember:

that although there may be elements of distribution problems across the UK, at different times and in different places, this is a huge pull on services which we have never seen before. And we have managed actually, despite signalling many potential shortfalls, to continue to supply going forward.

And even as I stand here, I know with the gown position for example that even though when orders go in overseas, supplies may be very different what is received to what we think we are going to get. We have worked right across the UK to try and manage those supplies based predominantly and always on a risk mitigation method. So this is about whichever patient or whichever healthcare worker at highest risk across the UK requires those PPE.

And I think we perhaps need to, rather than lumping all of the PPE together which is not in a homogeneous mix at all, we just need to think carefully through what has been achieved and the challenges which are acknowledged ahead

It sounded like government-speak gobbledygook designed to look like something intelligible has been added to the conversation when nothing has been added at all. Because even as ‘she stood there’ the arrival of 400,000 surgical gowns from Turkey was inexplicably delayed. And NHS workers continuously report that they don’t have adequate PPE.

So people were demanding greater honesty:

Sunday Times investigation

Sadly, Harries’ statements weren’t the only signs of government ineptitude. On 19 April, The Canary reported the investigation by the Sunday Times which exposed the government’s botched handling of the pandemic. The investigation explained that Boris Johnson missed five meetings of Cobra, the UK’s emergency council to deal with national crises, in the build-up to the outbreak.

The investigation also exposed that in January this year the government was treating the coronavirus like a flu pandemic. It’s said to have been “absolutely focused on herd immunity”. But additionally:

the considerable capacity of Britain’s private laboratories to mass-produce tests was not harnessed during those crucial weeks of February

The investigation also inadvertently highlighted the role of the establishment media. Because, as The Canary‘s Steve Topple wrote, without the media’s help: “Johnson wouldn’t have been in charge during this in the first place”.

A sorry mess

The position taken by the mainstream media during the last election put Johnson in power. But years of Tory austerity and neglect of the NHS made this crisis so much worse. It’s time to end the gobbledygook and ensure our frontline staff, and others in the UK, get the support they need.

Featured image via YouTube – BBCScreengrab – Sky News

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  • Show Comments
    1. Apart from anything else her comments about working “across the UK” are at best disingenuous and at worst plain lies. How about the English firms who told Care Companies in Scotland and Wales that they had been told only to supply England.
      Fortunately, the Scottish Government went ahead and ordered for themselves. This woman is toeing the Tory line and is dangerous to health.

    2. Theresa May knew in 2016 after Exercise Cygnus of the need to prepare but the Tory government buried the devastating reports & did nothing. At the next election the populace went mad & elected a clown who is now hiding away, leaving an inept circus behind to create havoc & increase the death toll. The only thing Killer Johnson did before CV19 arrived was buy £billions of Amerikan nuclear weapons. We have the best nuclear armoury in Europe but amongst the tears it can only get worse.

    3. new update 21.4.2020 just posted on over websites as well
      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/
      LINK to post 21.4.2020
      Exclusive: Millions of pieces of P.P.E are being shipped from,
      Britain to Europe despite NHS shortages-(WHY?)
      ///
      To our local Tory M.P. Andrew Stephenson what are you doing to get our local N.H.S. Hospital + Care homes staff including old people’s
      Care homes fully P.P.E. fitted out now In Pendle/Colne area.
      Apart from nothing.
      If it were an urgent need for H.S.2 C**P you would find the funding plus what they needed Mr. Stephenson fast would you not SIR?)
      //
      This article sums up the true Tory Govt failing to all us voter plus resident of Wales/N/Ireland/Scotland as well as N.H.S. Staff.
      IN -addition the failing of using British firm to supply our N.H.S. needs of P.P.E. equipment + Ventilators we all need, WHY Mr. Stephenson?
      Are Tory Govt using E.U. COUNTRY.
      (when we are supposed to be leaving the E.U. at end of this year??)
      Or are we staying IN the E.U. now Boris + Andrew Stephenson?????
      //
      We free voters believe, personally the Tory Govt/its rich member/funders are possibly or could be or maybe
      using the Virus outbreak as a tool to trash the N.H.S. to sell it off to China + U.S.A + India + Pakistan,
      and that is why they are using E.U. country to supply our N.H.S. /P.P.E. needs and Not British firms now.
      //
      To Boris + our useless Tory M.P. Andrew Stephenson if what I have put here is not unfolding now within No,10—No,11 tell me
      Plus, all the voters of U.K. your true intentions for not using British firm to help-out with P.P.E + Ventilators
      we all need in the N.H.S. now, something stinks here and it not the Virus itself.
      ///
      2-Question
      For all Tory party member including its voters in Pendle/Colne areas
      Q-1 if a trillion pounds was available to use on H.S.2 or N.H.S. needs
      Remembering you can only choose one to benefits from the cash.
      Q-2 Will N.H.S. get the cash —or will H.S.2 rail ink gets the cash?
      You may answer the 2 question by a simple yes or no? O.K.
      No piss taking or rant of useless information just a simple yes or no will do in reply to this post Tory party members plus its voters.
      FINALLY!
      Last true ‘facts here to all Tory party members + Tory voters.
      As Tory Govt is in full power no over party running our country now Tories using our public cash (taxpayer money) on their pet projects
      like H.S.2-for their own benefits plus that of rich party funders and leaving the N.H.S staff to be flushed down the toilet now,
      under their rule remember all Tory voter you all voted for Tory MANIFESTO paper that state what was about to unfold in,
      2020-2021, time frame
      within the N.H.S. serves and you Tory voters are doing nothing to hold them to account only let your party members in LONDON
      run a, muck doing as they please WHY? – N.H.S. front line Staff /Care homes people are dying because of No P.P.E. equipment NOW.
      today as I post this true statement here, what are all you Tory voter going to do to hold your Tory party members in London,
      fully account for their failing to the N.H.S. Staff now today not tomorrow start today and save lives within all N.H.S. + Care homes front line staff.

    4. How much do you reckon she was paid to lie. No doubt accompanied by a NDA. This is a national scandal. But we do need people to stop being loyal exclusively to a party. For example the Tory party. Loyal little Tories are still defending this rabble simply because they are Tory voters. Time to look at the actions of the party, the people standing, (there are several Tory horrors which spring to mind, Redwood, Cash, Choke, Smogg, etc). Who is voting for these obnoxious men? To those who did I say shame on you.

    5. update on problems Tory Govt have ongoing now
      Email sent to new channels 23.4.2020

      [email protected]; [email protected]>;
      Sent this email to some over party members as well in H.O. Commons.
      //
      C/19 virus App—date sent 23.4.2020
      HI
      STAFF
      Hope you are all Virus free at this present time
      My name is Roy
      //
      I wish as a resident of U.K. for you to ask the 2 following question please our Tory Govt N.H.S. Health Minister Mr. Hancock Plus is Health advising about an App they have put on T.V.
      The APP that links people to one another Mobile phone to aid in tracking people, that’ may have the Virus??
      ///
      Q-1 What about homeless people in U.K./Wales/Scotland/N/Ireland that do not have mobile phones (how do they get help ??)
      Q-2 What about people like me & my family members that do not have a mobile phone,
      where do we get help??
      //
      I do not own a Mobile or intend on getting into money problems to buy one,
      (so Mr. Hancock were do my family plus me)
      Go to get help in my local area town of Lancashire/Pendle/Colne area???
      //
      To Tory Govt members all the App you invent to help Govt out with C/19 Virus does not serve us,
      that do not have mobile phones, Including the homeless on our streets including them in Wales/Scotland/N/Ireland areas on the streets,
      Boris/Hancock/and over Tory party members.
      //
      Could you please ask the 2 question to Tory Govt N.H.S. Minister Hancock or is health advisers? Including Mr. Rabb stand in Prime Minister for Tory Govt, please could you email us with their reply to you please.

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