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Swine flu:the government making a pig’s ear of it

By Angela Harbutt
July 19th, 2009 at 7:10 am | Comments Off on Swine flu:the government making a pig’s ear of it | Posted in Uncategorized

I read in the Sunday papers that our dearly beloved government is to issue urgent swine flu advice to pregnant women .swine-flu-panic

Expectant mothers will be urged to avoid unnecessary journeys and crowds…do not travel on trains and the London Underground at peak times…keep babies away from crowds…limit the movements of their other children, so they do not bring the virus home.

Good grief….Anyone would think that the Martians had landed and are feasting on babies and unborn foetuses.

All this week I ‘ve been bombarded with talk of a growing death count, inevitable further casualties, vulnerable groups (the old, the young and now pregnant women) and a much promised “flu vaccine”.

And call me an old cynic but I cant help thinking that this government is quite glad to have something they can terrify us all with. Whilst we are all facing our own mortality and monitoring those around us for the slightest hint of infection, we will forget about rising unemployment figures, dead soldiers killed in Afganistan, MPs expenses and a zero rise in economic growth and turn to our government and be thankful they are there to care for us in our hour of need. Give us the Tamiflu and we will vote you in next time we promise !

Think I am joking?  In case you missed i back in early July Andy Burnham reported to Parliament that “Scientists now expect to see rapid rises in the number of cases. Cases are doubling every week, and on this trend we could see more than 100,000 cases per day by the end of August—although I stress that that is only a projection” 

PANIC PANIC PANIC

(Hmmm … As the Effect Measure website points out (under the wonderful title “UK Health Minister: Expotentially Dumb“) …if cases double every week, then by the end of September, one month after Burnham’s estimate, they will have increased by a factor of 16 or 1.6 million cases per day. A month later, at the height of flu season we’d be seeing 25 million cases a day. I dont think so Mr Burnham… no I really dont.)

Oh and the Chief Medical Officer put the worst case scenario figure at 65,000  deaths in total a few days ago so who the hell knows! Not them clearly.

In our saner moments we all know this is rot ! We remember the  SARS pandemic that was going to kill us all and CJD that was going to devastate us (well it did the cattle farming industry I suppose).  Lets not be hoodwinked by these people (the government and the Chief Medical officer) again.

Yes there is a new virus and yes some people will be very ill and some will die (29 so far to be clear!). But is it too much to ask that we keep this in proportion and have a proportionate reaction from the government to it? Less alarmist talk and more clear-thinking, better planning and consistent communication to the healthcare professionals on the front line.

It is telling that  many GPs (whom I have considerably more faith in that the Chief Medical Officer) are actively critical of the government action thus far.

The Royal College of GP’s has criticised the government for conflicting and changing advice from government agencies to both doctors and patients, confusion over prescribing Tamiflu, (when it will be available, whether it works, who gets it), how long patients should stay at home if they have the virus, what hospital priorities should be etc

Professor Sheila Bird, senior scientist at the Medical Research Council’s Biostatistics Unit,  has said that not enough information is being collected about people ill in hospital or about those who die –  to verify the Government’s (extraordinarily alarming) estimates about infection rates.

Dr Sam Everington, (formerly deputy chair of the BMA) has said that scaremongering by the Dept of Health had seen the nation gripped with fear, leading to ‘utter chaos’ for practices in areas with the most number of cases.. ‘All this is being ratcheted up by the CMO and the Government. They are actively scaremongering everybody”.

British Medical Association GP leader Dr Laurence Buckman said people were “scared stiff” when they did not need to be ….swine flu for most was a nasty but relatively mild illness, however he said people were panicking and swamping doctors with calls.

So here we have it really. The Goverment making a bad situation a whole lot worse, causing wide spread panic and chaos. But how did they manage to make a pigs ear of this one ? I dont know if this is incompetence or deliberate intent to terrify, or both. Either way I suppose we should not be surprised. But angry. We should be angry. Surely?

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