THE Government slogan, backed by health adverts and the bulk of media commentary, tells us to, “Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives”. But is this too simplistic and does it risk becoming a mantra that does the public a disservice?

The Government has a clear strategy, to ensure the NHS does not get overrun by Covid-19 cases. It seems to make sense. However, we can only truly assess this approach if we also assess the medium and long-term impact of closing down society for months.

Death toll figures that tell us about people who have died with the virus rather than because of it are at the centre of our daily news feed and obscure as much as they reveal.

This nightly diet of “stats” is backed by attempts to elevate the idea that “young people can die too”, something that is more confusing than clarifying.

Given the Save Lives slogan, there is moral weight given to the Government position and there is a danger that the singular focus on the immediate outcomes for Covid patients becomes a race to the bottom as politicians and the media compete to be safe, safer and safest. All the while, the economy is being devastated.

To talk of the economy is to appear heartless in comparison but part of our daily discussion should include expert and public understanding and explanation about how many businesses are going bust because of this approach, how much unemployment is it creating, how many billions are being lost and, importantly, what does this mean for people's livelihoods.

Dr John Lee, a retired professor of pathology, usefully notes that this is not a question of lives vs money but “lives vs lives”. He means in terms of the many social and psychological problems as well as the people with other illnesses who will die due to the focus on the virus by health services. We could add to this the impact that the loss of billions of pounds will have on the future funding of the NHS.

We need to treat the public with respect rather than fear that a complex discussion will undermine the lockdown mentality. The more honest the debate the more chance we have of coming to the correct approach that is backed and informed by the demos not just some hand-picked experts.

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