On 31st December 2019, China contacted the World Health Organisation to inform them of “cases of pneumonia of unknown aetiology [causes]In the city of Wuhan”. Nine days later, on 9th January 2020, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control issued its first risk assessment.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
The UK confirmed the first infections on the 31st January. Since then, the country, its people, and its government have had to come to terms with managing a pandemic. Increasingly stricter measures, the likes of which have not been seen before in times of peace, have been put in place. We have quickly had to adopt and adapt to life in lockdown.
There is no doubt of the pressures on the NHS, social care providers, and associated suppliers, as the country tries to stem the march of the virus. Hospitals are emptying beds in preparation, while new hospitals are being assembled. Test, test and test again is the mantra – although the UK has fallen behind other similar countries in rolling out and scaling up its testing capacity. The police also are adjusting to a new role enforcing social distancing measures with new powers rarely seen outside of war situations.
But alongside government action, we all have a part to play. Government cannot do everything. And this has opened up a debate about society.
On this topic, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is often quoted: “There is no such thing as society,” she said during a long interview with Douglas Keay for Woman’s Own on 23rd September 1987. The quote, she argued, was taken out of context. Judge for yourself:
I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand ‘I have a problem; it is the Government’s job to cope with it!’ […] and so, they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families, and no government can do anything except through people […] It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour.
One of the tragedies [of]many of the benefits we give, which were meant to reassure people that, if they were sick or ill, there was a safety net and there was help [is that]it went too far. If children have a problem, it is society that is at fault. There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women […] and the beauty of that tapestry – and the quality of our lives – will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn […] and help, by our own efforts, those who are unfortunate.
Taken within that context, Thatcher’s meaning is quite different, one of personal and community responsibility not isolated individualism.
Today we are seeing no greater example of that “living tapestry of men and woman” in the myriad ways people are coming together to help. We see it in the delivery of groceries to an elderly neighbour; in the posting of educational YouTube videos to support parents, who must now also be home-schooling teachers; and, of course, in the more than 600,000 who have volunteered for the NHS.
When this is over, there will be reports, reviews, and recommendations galore, but let us never forget how the people, the families, the health and social care professionals, the retail workers – all those that stepped up and took on the responsibility to help – have come together to do their best in a situation that simply did not exist 12 weeks ago. A heartfelt thanks to you all.
W&P continue to support via email or by phone our existing customers when they require support and guidance through this difficult time.
We are also supporting new customers who are preparing to register with CQC to provide these much needed services for the public at this time. https://www.wandptraining.co.uk/cqc-registration-service/
Margaret Ross- Sands
W&P Assessment and Training Ltd