DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Why NHS must make £12bn injection count
By Daily Mail Comment
Published: 01:21 GMT, 8 February 2022 | Updated: 01:23 GMT, 8 February 2022
The Government’s Covid strategy has delivered some admirable successes during this pandemic. Value for money has not been one of them.
Eye-watering levels of fraud. Billions poured into an NHS Test and Trace system which took far too long to get right. Epic early blunders over PPE procurement.
In the teeth of the crisis, ministers shelled out cash as if there were no tomorrow. Well there was a tomorrow. And it’s here.
We have spent £400billion on coronavirus measures so far – all of it borrowed and heaped on our already terrifying national debt pile.
The Government is right to pause before signing off on a multi-billion-pound plan to tackle non-Covid waiting lists
If the public finances are ever to be brought back under control, it’s time to turn off the taps – or at least exercise some measure of prudence.
So the Government is right to pause before signing off on a multi-billion-pound plan to tackle non-Covid waiting lists, amid alleged NHS backsliding on target deadlines.
The proposed £12billion cash injection is being funded by a deeply unpopular hike in national insurance – part of a brutal cost of living squeeze set to cause real hardship.
If hard-pressed families are forced to pay this extra tax, the least they deserve is proof their money is being well spent.
NHS managers have an inglorious history of devouring vast sums of public cash for far too little return. That can’t be allowed to happen this time.
With the number of patients waiting more than a year for treatment having risen nearly 100-fold since the pandemic began to more than 306,000, the situation couldn’t be more urgent.
There must be reform, preferably spearheaded by a task force with strong leadership, embracing private sector discipline, setting firm and challenging targets and giving regular updates.
The vaccine task force showed what can be achieved by a dynamic state/private partnership, able to cut through the bureaucratic inertia and institutionalised waste that dogs so many public services.
Labour and the NHS suits will bluster, but there must be genuine accountability. With the wolf at the door, the time for simply shovelling our money into a bottomless pit is over.
Action on porn at last
For many years the Mail has highlighted the deeply corrosive effect that easy access to online pornography has on young people, and campaigned for greater regulation.
So we welcome government proposals for more stringent checks that those using porn sites are over 18 – with huge fines and the threat of being blocked altogether for those who fail to comply.
For too long, children have been able to view this filth without any real impediment. And there’s ample disturbing evidence that it distorts the way they understand healthy sexual relationships and consent.
The new measures, part of the Online Safety Bill, will not eradicate the problem. But they could prove a major weapon in protecting young minds against this appalling pollution.
A fatal misjudgment
A year ago, in a fit of nationalistic pique because the European vaccine programme had stalled, French president Macron said the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab appeared to be ‘quasi-ineffective’ on older people.
It was an utter lie, but combined with similar attempts to discredit the ‘British’ vaccine by European countries and many of their scientific advisers, it may have led to ‘hundreds of thousands’ of unnecessary deaths by fuelling hesitancy.
Sir John Bell, Regius professor of medicine at Oxford University who made the claim about the deaths, added: ‘They cannot be proud.’ Some understatement. They should hang their heads in shame.
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