National arrogance is another matter. In the USA, for example, the world seems to end at New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and New Orleans. Since the end of colonialism, the UK has much to be proud of. Apart from the poor climate, it is a pleasant and civilised country to live in and the achievements of its institutions and individuals have been impressive. The health workers in the UK are second to none. This does not mean the best in the world; that would prejudice those of other countries as inferior. The world does not end at Dover and Plymouth. And while doctors, nurses, cleaners and all employees associated with the NHS may be second to none, the NHS system, starved for many years of funding, planning and competent management, clearly is not.
The world’s first national health system is not the best. Shortage of hospital beds, long waiting lists, cancellations of appointments, diagnoses and treatment have all caused immeasurable suffering over the years. Together with mismanagement of funds and resources, this adds up to a disaster. The unavailability of protective equipment, the inadequacy of testing and the mixed messaging have revealed the incompetence of decision-makers. NHS authorities were also complicit in the unbelievable transfer of thousands of virus-affected hospital patients to care homes. On March 9, the Global Health Security Initiative index reported that “By some important measures of health security, the UK is the global leader”. It concluded that, in terms of preparedness for a virus, the UK ranks number two, after the US.
Most recently, the Prime Minister is surrounded by large national flags whenever he gives an address. If ever physical distancing becomes a thing of the past, he will doubtless be flanked on each side by half a dozen serious-looking acolytes every time he makes a statement. If the USA permits it, we are likely to be junior partner to a prejudiced country where only Americans are considered real people. Listen to the rhetoric of any US president on the value of not people’s lives, but American lives