Testing times

There appears to be a glaring problem with the UK approach to the virus: the lack of testing.

In Iceland they have tested almost everyone and found almost half the positive cases were in people who showed little or no symptoms. Yet in Cumbria we have the silly situation where a medic is seen to have a slight cold, so is immediately sent home to quarantine for 14 days.

Why was the individual not tested? It may well have been just a common cold and he or she could have been back at work the next day.

Without freely available testing, as in Germany, tackling the virus is like working in the dark.

But at least our leaders haven’t gone down the unbelievable Trumpian approach. My favourite quotes from Donald are: “Many people will die who haven’t died before” and of course when he made the prime announcement of a National Emergency..he had to add these were “two very big words”.



Social care needs you

Last week in response to the Covid-19 outbreak the Government called upon retired nurses and doctors to return to work with the line ‘your NHS needs you’.

Care England, the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, is complementing this message, ‘social care needs you too’.

The adult social care sector too will require the support of the nation in the coming months if it is to continue to support some of society’s most vulnerable at these most worrying of times. We encourage those who are willing and able, to do so by joining the adult social care workforce.

Our message is that social care is still open for business – social care needs your help. Firstly, we call upon retired staff with experience in the adult social care sector to engage in this national effort to keep social care operational.

Secondly, those who are currently not working; particularly those in catering, hospitality or air travel, as a result of the outbreak are encouraged to support the adult social care sector.

In addition, we encourage the UK’s population to utilise the provisions made within the Coronavirus Bill with regards to ‘Emergency Volunteering Leave’.

Lastly, if you have previously worked in the social care sector, there has never been a more important time for your skills and knowledge to be reclaimed.

If you’re in one of these groups – social care needs you.

Many providers have noted that they already see rising levels of Covid-19 related absences. This combined with the already extremely high levels of vacancy rates in the adult social care sector has the potential to create a perfect storm for the sector. However, with your help we can act to avert such a reality and the negative implications it would have upon some of society’s most vulnerable individuals.


Chief Executive, Care England


Falling standards

It seems somewhat unreasonable to complain about the refuse collection service at this time of national crisis. But I feel I must.

In Allerdale we had a superb reliable refuse service until recent times. By that I mean up to the local elections in 2019. Since then we have had withdrawal of services for long periods, and uncertainty about what materials are collected when.

This morning I went online as instructed to print off my collection calendar for 2020/21. I found that the garden waste collection service has been suspended AGAIN from today because of the virus.

The calendar shows only one month’s collections for April 2020, and it cannot apparently be printed, although I might have not tried the right approach.

People need to plan for longer than one month when to put out bins, and when they will miss collections because of being away. The calendar for the year needs to be printed and stuck on the fridge.

Raising council tax by only one per cent when more would have been possible seems to have been a naïve and short-sighted decision, leading a to reduction in service standards.



When weeds could land you a five-bob fine

As I have taken my coronavirus-limited daily perambulation around the block I have noticed how overgrown with weeds our local footways, are notwithstanding the efforts of the mechanised street sweeper.

Responsibility for this state of affairs would have been clear in the 18th century. In the Bristol Police Act of 1788 under the heading “Footways to be swept” is the requirement... “that the respective occupier, or occupiers of all houses and other buildings, and the churchwardens of the respective churches, and every person having care of meeting houses, keepers of halls, &c within the said city shall scrape, sweep, and cleanse the footways... on every day (Sundays excepted) between the hours of eight and ten o’clock in the morning, or forfeit, for each neglect, five shillings”.

In the 21st century the responsibility has passed to local authorities. Now that these authorities no longer have the resources to carry out any but the most critical of their functions perhaps we could devolve some of their public realm responsibilities back to the individual?

A greater personal stake in their local streetscape might encourage people not to throw away their banana skins or the remains of a takeaway or to leave their drink-can on the garden wall. They might even consider giving some helpful guidance to their children as they discard wrappings from various items on the way home from school. Or it might not.

Incidentally five shillings in 1788 would be the equivalent of about £35 today.