I MADE a public statement last week in these pages suggesting the Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives slogan had inadvertently led to more deaths of elderly and vulnerable people. For daring to question the mantra I was denounced by Dundee City Council leader John Alexander who explained that, “clarity of message is absolutely essential during such a crisis”. What Mr Alexander really means by this is that a simplistic message is needed for a Scottish populous who he and many in the Scottish Government don’t trust.

Protecting the NHS from a mass of Covid patients made sense, although it is worth noting that not a single health service across the Western world has not coped and coped quite comfortably with the spike in cases. Indeed, as it stands, as Gregor Smith, Scotland’s interim chief medical officer has observed, hospitals in Scotland remain “eerily quiet”.

Care homes, however, have not been so quiet. In England concerns have been raised about elderly patients being sent back to care homes with the virus. In Scotland wider concerns about the lack of testing in homes have also been raised. It appears that in our urgency to empty hospitals, rather than doing this only when it was necessary to do so, we have helped to create a situation where those most at risk have died in large numbers – a staggering 43% of deaths so far are care home related.

Across the UK, this has been a problem, and it is a problem that stretches beyond Covid related deaths, as the British Medical Journal reported last week. It notes that a “staggering” 20,000 non-Covid related deaths have occurred, well above the norm. The reason for these deaths appears to be the reduction in other hospital services and because of an anxiety created among the public about not going to get treatment to “protect the NHS”.

Unfortunately, a nuanced discussion about a medical matter has been transformed in the last two months into what sociologist Carlton Brick describes as a “policy of social control”.

Rather than trusting the public with more realistic facts about the risks, like the reality that young children, for example, are almost immune from Covid-19, the Scottish Government continues to cling to its patronisingly simplistic slogan that diverts attention and resources away from those who truly need them.

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