Professor James Woudhuysen introduces a discussion on what Covid-19 can teach us about the future of healthcare.
In recent years the NHS has moved from jewel in Labour’s crown to totem for all Britain’s professional classes. So in today’s post-Trump atmosphere of liberal intolerance, those who dissent from the great lockdown narrative of SAGE, Public Health England and the NHS bureaucracy are now cast as dangerous – as shameful and evil vectors of Covid. Everything must instead be reorganised around saving the NHS, not adding to the burdens borne by its staff, and not questioning its structure or ethos in any way.
The clampdown isn’t total just yet. But if disputes over epidemiology dominate the media, few commentaries situate the official response to Covid within Britain’s long-run preference for prevention, promotion, safety and bureaucratisation in health matters, rather than genuine innovation around science, medical equipment, hospitals and the healthcare workforce. While over-familiar barbs against Big Pharma have faded with the singular success of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, the performance of British and other countries in tracking, tracing, testing and inoculating against Covid has confirmed that IT is part of the solution to tomorrow’s healthcare problems, but represents no panacea.
From patchy lab research at one end to questionable vaccine logistics at the other, the moment calls for cool heads, higher healthcare productivity, less waste and more democracy in our healthcare systems.