A Sunday Times Insight investigation has revealed the extent to which the elderly were neglected by the NHS during the full lockdown.
As part of a three-month investigation into the Government’s handling of the crisis during the lockdown weeks, we have spoken to more than 50 witnesses, including doctors, paramedics, bereaved families, charities, care home workers, politicians and advisers to the government. Our inquiries have unearthed new documents and previously unpublished hospital data. Together, they show what happened while most of the country stayed at home.
There were 59,000 extra deaths in England and Wales compared with previous years during the first six months of the pandemic. This consisted of 26,000 excess fatalities in care homes and another 25,000 in people’s own homes.
Surprisingly, only 8,000 of those excess deaths were in hospital, even though 30,000 people died from the virus on the wards. This shows that many deaths that would normally have taken place in hospital had been displaced to people’s homes and the care homes.
This huge increase of deaths outside hospitals was a mixture of coronavirus cases – many of whom were never tested – and people who were not given treatment for other conditions that they would have had access to in normal times. Ambulance and admission teams were told to be more selective about who should be taken into hospital, with specific instructions to exclude many elderly people. GPs were asked to identify frail patients who were to be left at home even if they were seriously ill with the virus.
In some regions, care home residents dying of COVID-19 were denied access to hospitals even though their families believed their lives could have been saved.
The sheer scale of the resulting body count that piled up in the nation’s homes meant special body retrieval teams had to be formed by police and fire brigade to transfer corpses from houses to mortuaries. Some are said to have run out of body bags.
NHS data obtained by Insight shows that access to potentially life-saving intensive care was not made available to the vast majority of people who died with the virus. Only one in six COVID-19 patients who lost their lives in hospital during the first wave had been given intensive care. This suggests that of the 47,000 people who died of the virus inside and outside hospitals, just an estimated 5,000 – one in nine – received the highest critical care, despite the government claiming that intensive care capacity was never breached.
The Sunday Times points the finger at Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, as the architect of this policy.
The chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, commissioned an age-based frailty score system that was circulated for consultation in the health service as a potential “triage tool” at the beginning of the crisis. It was never formally published.
It gave instructions that in the event of the NHS being overwhelmed, patients over the age of 80 should be denied access to intensive care and in effect excluded many people over the age of 60 from life-saving treatment. Testimony by doctors has confirmed that the tool was used by medics to prevent elderly patients blocking up intensive care beds.
Indeed, new data from the NHS shows that the proportion of over-60s with the coronavirus who received intensive care halved between the middle of March and the end of April as the pressure weighed heavily on hospitals during the height of the pandemic. The proportion of the elderly being admitted then increased again when the pressure was lifted off the NHS as COVID-19 cases fell in the summer months.
Is this the Government’s version of “Focused Protection”? Instead of using our national health service to shield the elderly, it shielded the NHS from the elderly.
Worth reading in full.
Professor Lockdown appeared on the Today Programme yesterday morning and was full of his usual good cheer. The MailOnline has more.
Professor Ferguson, whose modelling led to the original lockdown in March, said earlier today that schools may have to be closed to older pupils if restrictions on households mixing fail to stem the rise of infections, and that it will be a “political judgement” as to whether regulations are relaxed over the festive season.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “It risks some transmission and there will be consequences of that. Some people will die because of getting infected on that day.
“But if it is only one or two days the impact is likely to be limited. So that is really a political judgment about the cost versus the benefits.”
It follows the prospects for a family Christmas descending into further confusion yesterday, as Downing Street insisted that relatives should be able to gather – but a minister warned it will not be “normal”.
Professor Ferguson added: “That (banning households mixing) should have a significant effect but as yet we have been unable to see it definitively.
“If we go beyond that there is a limit to what we can do in terms of reducing contacts, short of starting to target, for instance, the older years in schools and sixth form colleges where we know older teenagers are able to transmit as adults.
“Of course nobody wants to start moving to virtual education and closing schools even partially. The challenge may be that we are not able to get on top of the transmission otherwise.”
So Christmas is cancelled and schools will have to close again if we want to “get on top” of transmission.
I guess no one has told Professor Ferguson that infections fell in almost half of England’s local authorities last week.
Meanwhile, Professor John Edmunds – the SAGE member who was passionately advocating for herd immunity back in March – has backed up Professor Lockdown.
The idea that “we can carry on as we are” and have a normal Christmas “is wishful thinking in the extreme”, a Government scientific adviser has said.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said “radical action” would be needed to stem the rise in coronavirus cases, particularly in regions with high incidence of the virus.
Prof Edmunds, who told MPs on Wednesday that tens of thousands of deaths could occur during this wave of the pandemic, said further measures are needed to bring cases down.
He said that a circuit-breaker is needed across the whole country or at least in areas where incidence is high.
“The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence – at the very least in high incidence areas – and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts,” he said.
“The notion that we can carry on as we are and have a Christmas that we can celebrate normally with friends and family is wishful thinking in the extreme.”
Edmunds conforms to George Santayana’s definition of fanaticism – “redoubling your effort after you’ve forgotten your aim”.
Stop Press: Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell says it’s fine to make arrangements for Christmas celebrations with close family now that restrictions for the over-70s have been lifted. Answering a question on Swedish TV about recommendations for Christmas, he said: “A small family party with your children and grandchildren, especially if you can keep your distance from each other, won’t mean you’re taking much of a risk.”
According to the Mail on Sunday, NHS staff are due to start receiving a coronavirus vaccine within weeks.
An email sent by an NHS Trust chief to his staff, seen by the Mail on Sunday, reveals the Health Service is preparing for a national vaccination programme before Christmas.
It can also be disclosed that the Government has introduced new laws that would allow the UK to bypass the EU approval process if a safe and effective jab is ready before the end of the post-Brexit transition period on December 31st.
The move will boost optimism that a ‘game-changing’ vaccine will soon allow Boris Johnson to relax the social restrictions which have crippled the country since March.
In his memo to staff earlier this month, Glen Burley, chief executive of George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in Warwickshire, wrote: “Our Trust, alongside NHS organisations nationally, has been told to be prepared to start a COVID-19 staff vaccine programme in early December.
“The latest intelligence states a coronavirus vaccine should be available this year with NHS staff prioritised prior to Christmas.”
So NHS staff will be given a vaccine that has bypassed the EU approval process and whose manufacturers will be exempt from any liability should there be any unforeseen side effects.
Let’s hope it’s not mandatory.
The Territorial Support Group – the paramilitary wing of the Metropolitan Police – brutally dispersed a group of peaceful anti-lockdown protestors yesterday, much like they did in Trafalgar Square on September 26th. The MailOnline has more.
Armed police officers have dispersed large crowds of anti-lockdown protesters at Trafalgar Square following a march through central London on Saturday, which saw thousands gather against coronavirus restrictions.
Demonstrators called for an end to the ‘tyranny’ of pandemic restrictions and voiced their opposition to vaccines and paedophilia, playing Michael Jackson’s greatest hits via a PA system as they marched.
At least 10 people were led away in handcuffs by officers at Trafalgar Square, and Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, also attended the protest who once again joined demonstrators after appearing at court charged with flouting coronavirus rules.
Protesters refused to wear masks and wielded signs demanding an end to restrictions on personal freedom imposed as part of efforts to control COVID-19.
One banner being wielded by a protester on Oxford Street read: “Martial law coming, think it’s still about health?” while another depicted a mask with a cross through it alongside words which read, “love not fear” and “unite not divide”.
The anti-lockdown demonstrators also marched down Northumberland Avenue, while large crowds also gathered outside Buckingham Palace, prompting police to be deployed.
They should have worn BLM T-shirts.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: A reader has provided an eye-witness account of her encounter with TSG officers in Trafalgar Square yesterday.
At about 4.10 pm the Square was nearly empty of protestors, they having set off on another circuit of the streets about 15 minutes previously. The centre of the Square began to fill with uniformed people (all of them masked, not remotely social distancing) and I overheard a single voice set up a chant against the police – so I moved towards them but by the time I arrived the voice had already stopped.
Everything seemed very calm so I gently patted one of the flat capped men on the arm and said, “Hello.” He turned to me and I said, “I’m just saying a friendly hello.” Incomprehension on his face so I repeated myself. A couple of others were equally mystified by my words. The first drew over one of the others and we set up a conversation, but he spoke in very halting English, very heavily accented. I don’t remember what I said next but he didn’t understand me and in turn attracted the attention of a burly English policeman. He replied: “This isn’t the time for friendly hellos there’s an extremely dangerous global pandemic on and I can arrest you for not social distancing.” I replied: “That’s not true, there’s no dangerous pandemic.” He was thrusting his head towards me and repeating himself and I replied, “Please move further away from me. I don’t want your filthy air from your dirty disgusting mask all over me.” He said no he’s not moving away, and continued to threaten to arrest me for not social distancing and I continued to ask him to move further away until a calm bystander intervened.
I then surveyed the general scene, looking round at the uniformed people and realised that quite a few of the flat capped people were non-British. In Trafalgar Square. Against me. My head started to spin and I must have looked bad because I suddenly had three very concerned voices (proper British bobbies) all asking me if I was okay. I said I was having a panic attack, one of them asked if I’d like to be helped out of the square, so I thanked him and he gave me his arm and led me to safety in the most gentle and helpful way possible.
On the way, I tried to talk to him about the Common Law to no response – so then I said that if the British bobby and the British people find themselves on opposite sides then we are done for. At which point he looked round at me, eye to eye, and agreed.
Interesting about the TSG officers not being able to speak or understand English very well. Is the Met importing riot police from other countries? If anyone knows more about this, contact us here.
Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Aberdeen University, says Scotland’s two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown hasn’t worked, as is clear from Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to keep most of the ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions in place for the foreseeable future. The Telegraph has more.
Earlier this month Nicola Sturgeon promised her mini-circuit breaker would be a “short, sharp” shutdown of Scottish pubs and restaurants to bring coronavirus under control.
For only 16 days, the First Minister said, bars and restaurants would be restricted from serving alcohol inside and closed altogether across the country’s central belt, which includes Glasgow and Edinburgh and is home to 3.4 million people.
Little more than two weeks later, Ms Sturgeon announced a change of plan.
To the anger of the hospitality industry, she extended the restrictions for a further week. And on Thursday, she announced the measures would be replaced – rather than relaxed – with a new five-tier lockdown system under which thousands of pubs and restaurants face damaging restrictions for the foreseeable future.
The news was devastating for Scotland’s struggling pubs, already on their knees.
Emma McClarkin of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: “We were told that these measures were to be ‘short’ and ‘sharp’ but now the Scottish Government have gone back on that, leaving operators feeling betrayed.
“Scotland’s pubs and bars have repeatedly been subject to some of the most penalising restrictions in the world, but without the evidence to back it up. The situation cannot continue.”
According to industry calculations, two-thirds of hospitality businesses could be mothballed or go under in the coming months, with more than 50 per cent of jobs lost…
Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Aberdeen University, said: “There’s the old argument that if we hadn’t done (the mini-circuit breaker), cases would have gone up faster. But that’s a guess, and the figures haven’t come tumbling down.
“They were always going to have difficulty in knowing how effective it was because the figures wouldn’t have come through to really give them an indication as to whether it was having any effect at all.”
Prof Pennington criticised Ms Sturgeon for claiming the restrictions would be in place for only 16 days, given the time-lag in recording positive cases, adding he suspected it had been cast as a short-term measure to avoid a major backlash from businesses.
“It’s got to be statistically significant, it’s the figures coming down that they’re looking for. To expect that would happen within 16 days was unrealistic. At a guess, I’d say her reason for saying that was so she could say ‘I’m going to make things tough, but it’s only for 16 days’, to get people to buy into it.
“If you close the pubs, you’re going to stop pub outbreaks. You’re addressing little bits of the transmission route, but not really getting at the fundamentals, which is making sure people who have the virus, and their contacts, are kept away from everybody else by self-isolating.
“They said it will be a couple of weeks and we’ll turn the corner. But many people have doubts about that, because as soon as you release from it, you go back to square one. There’s too much virus about for the effect to be so big that you really start driving the numbers down.”
Worth reading in full.
According to Opinium, approval of the Government’s handling of the pandemic has fallen to its lowest level since March. Half (50%) of UK adults now disapprove of the Government, while only 29% approve. The pollster went into more detail in an email:
The public are divided on the clarity of the new tier system. Only 50% think the system is clear and 44% think the measures are unclear. More significantly, a third (34%) of the UK aren’t confident that they know what the rules are in their area…
Half (50%) of those living in Greater Manchester approve of the way Andy Burnham is handling his job as Mayor. His net approval rating of +25% is significantly higher than Boris Johnson’s nationally at -14%.
Looking at how the various leaders have handled the crisis, 32% approve of how Boris Johnson has handled his role, 47% disapprove. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is seen more positively (46% approve, 26% disapprove) while Labour leader Keir Starmer is narrowly net positive with 35% approving and 29% disapproving. The worst marks are reserved for Health Secretary Matt Hancock, with only 26% approving of his performance through the crisis and 48% disapproving.
Hancock with an approval rating of -22%?
Who would have thunk it?
Ivor Cummins has posted a video on his YouTube channel of Dr John Lee debating Dan O’Brien, an Irish journalist, and Tomas Ryan, a Professor of Neuroscience and advocate of ‘Covid Zero’, on RTE. Needless to say, Lee wins hands down. Cummins has provided some amusing subtitles when the neuroscientist is speaking.
Worth watching in full.
Stop Press: Another hero of lockdown, Dr Clare Craig, was on Julie Hartley-Brewer’s show on TalkRADIO on Friday. Also worth watching.
Guy de la Bédoyère, a long-time contributor to Lockdown Sceptics, has sent us a “Postcard From Rhodes“, where he’s managed to get away for a week’s break. Sounds like a lot of fun.
Our hotel, picked at random from the tour company website, turned out to be largely filled with high-risk overweight Brits aged mainly 60 plus. Judging by their accents, I’d say most of them are Tier 2 and Tier 3 refugees who’ve clearly had enough of Covid misery. If they are going to die imminently as the tabloid apocalyptic-headline-competing members of SAGE keep telling us, they’re determined to expire in the sun, stuffed by the all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast and dinner. Loafing by the pool in 28 Celsius heat under a blazing sun, the sweat poured off them in rivulets. Three growing-old-disgracefully ladies in their late sixties went for a spot of topless sunbathing which must make quite a difference from the opportunities currently available in Liverpool or Cardiff.
Worth reading in full.
- “Public opinion is turning against lockdown and Labour’s cynical Covid opportunism” – Dan Hannan’s latest column in the Telegraph
- “Isolation for test and trace could be halved” – The 14-day isolation period for contacts of those infected with COVID-19 could be halved over fears about levels of compliance with the Test and Trace system
- “Seven-day Covid quarantine – and none for jet set” – According to the Sunday Times, if you arrive in the country by private jet and you’re a mover and a shaker in the business world, you won’t have to quarantine at all as part of plans to “promote global Britain”. That’ll go down well on the Labour benches
- “Government scientists have blown apart their own case for lockdown” – Janet Daley argues that the admission that even a vaccine won’t end this doom-loop ought to lead to a change of approach
- “Tory-backed group launches ‘Defund the BBC’ campaign” – A Tory-backed group has launched a campaign to ‘Defund the BBC’ by telling homeowners how to “legally cancel” their licence fee
- “Politicians’ reluctance to quantify Covid’s threat harms all” – Good piece in the FT by Graham Loomes, a Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, suggesting that if you compare the quality-adjusted life years lost as a result of another lockdown with the quality-adjusted life years saved, the game isn’t worth the candle
- “Backlash over Wales’ ban on buying ‘non-essential items’ in supermarkets” – Euronews reports that the Welsh are furious about ‘non-essential’ items being taken off sale in supermarkets, including books, children’s toys and Christmas cards
- “Why so many believe in the Covid Cult” – Karen Harradine analyses the “mass delusional psychosis” that has gripped the nation since March
- “The Nine Errors of Thinking identified in Factfulness” – Dr Hugh Willbourn writes about the light Hans Rosling’s book can throw on the current Covid madness
- “To say there’s no trade-off between health and the economy during lockdown is a convenient delusion” – Good hard-headed piece in the Times by Philip Aldrick
- “How the MEAN psychologists got us to comply with coronavirus restrictions” – A deep dive into the techniques of the Behavioural Insights Team by Gary Sidley in Coronababble
- “The world needs Jordan Peterson more than ever” – Douglas Murray praises the Canadian psychology professor in UnHerd
- “What Mary Whitehouse got right” – Louise Perry praises the original conservative cultural warrior
- “The armed wing of cancel culture” – On the Spiked podcast, the team discusses the beheading of Samuel Paty, the northern lockdown and Critical Race Theory
- “Hippocrates cancelled” – Professor Ramesh Thakur in Spectator Australia on how health bureaucrats and complicit doctors are now guilty of crimes against humanity
- “To Save People From Covid, Puerto Rico Shuts down 911 call centers” – From the “you couldn’t make it up” department
- “Epidemiologists Stray From the Covid Herd” – Interview with Prof Martin Kulldorff and Prof Jay Bhattacharya by Tunku Varadarajan in the Wall St Journal
We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.
Sharing stories: Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics. The answer used to be to first click on “Latest News”, then click on the links that came up beside the headline of each story. But we’ve changed that so the link now comes up beside the headline whether you’ve clicked on “Latest News” or you’re just on the Lockdown Sceptics home page. Please do share the stories with your friends and on social media.
We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today we thought we’d highlight Simon Heffer’s column in today’s Sunday Telegraph, which is about the capture of the National Trust by the woke cult.
It has seemed for some years as though the National Trust has a death wish, as it dumbs down its properties and uses them more and more for publicity-seeking stunts. The fact that it has compiled a dossier of properties linked to “colonialism and slavery” appears to confirm my fear.
Apparently, the Trust’s “experts” – few of whom, on the basis of what this says about their expertise, would deserve even the lowest class of history degree from the worst imaginable university – say that around a third of its properties are associated with the “sometimes-uncomfortable role that Britain, and Britons, have played in global history”.
Yes, the good old National Trust – once the haven of well-preserved stately homes, woodland walks, and tea, jam and scones – is now determined to become part of that noisy elite minority that can’t let a day go by without engaging in an act of self-flagellation, and reminding us what a shocking country, and people, we supposedly are.
The Trust seems not to understand that its role is to conserve our historic houses, artefacts and landscapes: it is not the administrator of some nationwide re-education programme. The “list of shame” about slavery and colonialism is a typical example of the ignorance of those in charge. First, there seems to be some confusion of the two terms. Most British colonies, and almost all of those in Africa, were established after slavery was abolished. Once definitions of iniquity become so loose, it is easy to shovel the reputations of almost any historical figure you like into them.
So visitors to Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s house in Sussex, will need to brace themselves for a description of the wickedness of the man who gave us the phrase “the White Man’s Burden”. One would never have thought that a man who was the most popular writer of his age, revered by millions in this country and around the world – and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature – would have to be placed at a bargepole’s length from the present generation.
But, inevitably, the focus of the outrage has been Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s country house in north Kent. Churchill, whose minor achievement of managing our victory in the Second World War seems to count for nothing today, is condemned because while he was trying to stop Hitler’s programme of genocide and near-apocalyptic destruction, he failed to respond adequately to the Bengal famine.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: The headmistress of Benenden has apologised for using an “offensive” word in a school assembly. That word was “negro” and she used it when explaining that Black History Month began life in 1926 as Negro History Month. Did she really need to apologise for that?
We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.
Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.
A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.
And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry.
The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Googled it on Tuesday, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)
You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over 600,000 signatures.
Stop Press: A piece in the Science and Technology section of the Economist tries to summarise the debate between the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration and the John Snow Memorandum. It’s biased towards the latter, of course, but less so than most pieces in the mainstream media. Worth a read.
There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.
First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.
Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.
Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.
There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.
The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.
If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.
Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)
Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.
Got a cracker for you today: Cassetteboy’s latest, a mash-up of Boris’s Covid nonsense set to the tune of “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”. Must be a huge amount of work to put these together, but, boy, is it worth it. Cheered me up no end.