Channel 4's Dispatches programme last night made clear how disastrous has been our government's management of the coronavirus crisis. Anthony Barnett laid out in his own lugubrious and effective style, just how much has gone wrong.
From failure to follow advice, to simple logic errors, to incomprehensible contracting, to dogmatic driven belief that the private sector could provide answers to this crisis that were clearly beyond their ability to deliver and which have endangered many on the way, the evidence was relayed. And having been involved in the making of some Dispatches in my time, I know the care that goes into their production.
Anthony Costello summarised the programme like this:
The revelations from C4 Dispatches about failings in test and trace by Randox, Serco, sub-contracted companies and the role played by Harding, Hancock, and the PM are breath-taking. It amounts to criminal negligence, pure and simple.
— Anthony Costello (@globalhlthtwit) November 16, 2020
I respect Anthony Costello but think that maybe more evidence is needed to make that claim.
But with regard to government procurement, the evidence is mounting. I noted this tweet and related article yesterday:
A massive operation to clear containers full of PPE from Felixstowe Port (1,000 in a week) is underway....to relocate them in former airfields.
— Rob Knott (@Procure4Health) November 16, 2020
The port of Felixstowe has been blocked by over-ordered, unused and quite possibly unusable PPE, much of it bought under contracts that remain outside public view. That there are mountains of it in containers left in fields for the want of any known use for it suggests that something has gone seriously wrong with procurement that does require the highest level of review, with an open mind on consequences, including prosecution if the purchasing was actually criminally negligent.
Will it happen? This government is intent on neutering the courts to prevent the possibility. Why on earth could that be? Is there something that they would rather we did not know for which they do not want to accept responsibility? The question has to be asked?