Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Coming Down the Tracks

Mass testing means lower fatality rates from coronavirus because it allows detection of Covid-19 even in patients who suffer few or no symptoms, and who have a much better chance of survival.


The nose and the back of the throat are the two sites where the virus replicates. Swab tests are taken to the pathology lab and used to match the genetic material captured with the genetic code of Covid-19.


Medical staff taking the samples need to wear personal protective equipment including gloves, gowns, masks and face shields.. I was horrified to hear from a friend working as a hospital doctor that they are short of these PPEs. But never mind because Boris Johnson assures us that mass testing for Coronavirus is ‘coming down the track’ and will be taking place ‘as soon as possible’.


As I wrote yesterday, pathology labs in Germany have been conducting about 160,000 coronavirus tests every week. In the UK they average less than half that. And the pathology labs which undertake all this have been undergoing privatisation for over twenty years.


The Tony Blair / Gordon Brown governments reduced the number of hospitals that had their own pathology services and initiated their privatisation. Under the ‘hub and spoke’ model NHS trusts were encouraged into partnerships with private companies.


Pathology Clinitician, Denise Cooke, at Frimley NHS Foundation Trust has said, “The big difference with an NHS-led pathology service is the add-ons you get with it … So you absolutely get a clinically-led service and that is not something you have to contract for or buy, that is just the nature of the beast … On top of that you get all the other things the NHS offers; so there is a very supportive training and education programme … And then there is the ethos of it. The public sector is about doing good for the public, it is about making good use of taxpayers’ money for the public good … I think there is a different ethos in the private sector … I’d say 99.9% of people working in NHS pathology don’t do it for the money – they have some connection with the NHS and what it strives for and its reason for being.”


Here are just a few of the private companies involved today with our pathology labs:


Viapath (Serco) who have been found to overcharge the NHS for diagnostic testing amid allegations of cost-cutting and clinical failings. Senior consultants have claimed that staff cuts and a lack of investment since privatisation have left some laboratories close to disaster. One claimed that Viapath had an “inherent inability… to understand that you cannot cut corners and put cost saving above quality.”


Integrated Pathology Partnerships who were accused by Public Health England of running NHS labs with quality weaknesses. They concluded that: 'A number of working practices, particularly within the laboratory, compromise service quality and potentially patient safety'.


Synlab who were excluded from providing pathology services to Royal Free London and UCLH as the company lied - the company said it was in the process of developing a laboratory close to the two hospitals which would meet the requirements of the tender, but this was not true.


Other private companies involved today in NHS labs are, Alliance Medical, InHealth, Health Services Laboratory, Sodexho, Life Healthcare, The Doctors Laboratory Ltd and Mediscan Diagnostic Services. There are more.


A survey of 103 histopathology departments conducted in 2017 by the Royal College of Pathologists, found that only 3% said they had enough staff to meet the current clinical demand. 45% of departments had to outsource work, while half of the departments were forced to use more expensive temporary workers.


I worry about what is really ‘coming down the tracks’.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

German Tests, Johnson in Negotiation


The coronavirus crisis has hit Germany with full force. Infections are increasing rapidly with schools, factories and bars closed across the country. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there were 13,979 coronavirus infections in Germany on Thursday afternoon, (19 March) more than in any other country except China, Italy, Iran and Spain.


But Germany has only registered 52 deaths (20 March). Neighbouring France, by contrast, reports 243 deaths. Spain has had 803 deaths. The US, the UK and Italy all show case fatality rates significantly higher than Germany.




In Germany there have been a high number of tests with laboratories conducting about 160,000 coronavirus tests every week.


Mass testing means lower fatality rate because it allows detection of Covid-19 even in patients who suffer few or no symptoms, and who have a much better chance of survival.


Experts also point out that Germany now has the chance to prepare for a surge in serious infections, with hospitals across the country expanding intensive care capacity and boosting staff numbers and with a government buying up as much critical equipment as it can.


Meanwhile here in the UK Boris Johnson has set our minds at rest by announcing yesterday ( 21 March) that good stuff is on its way. 


“to give you an idea of what is coming down the track, we’re in negotiations today to buy a so-called antibody test, as simple as a pregnancy test which can tell whether you have had the disease and it’s early days, but if it works as its proponents claim, then we will buy literally hundreds of thousands of these kits as soon as practicable. Because obviously it has the potential to be a total game changer.”


So for the UK it is ‘‘negotiations’. ‘early days’, ‘as soon as practical’ and ‘potential’ game changers.


We have no idea how the Coronavirus epidemic will develop over the coming weeks / months. We can say that since 2012 there have been a 120,000 deaths in the UK due to austerity policies.


Information above comes from a FT article which is is here:

and from the Guardian which is here:


Boris Johnson is neither here nor there, but with his train set in La La land.


Saturday, 28 March 2020

Rough Musik


Barcelona residents in Coronavirus lockdown bang pots and pans from their windows and balconies. On 18 March protests were being held across Spain to demand that Felipe VI's father, King Emeritus Juan Carlos I, donate more than 100 million Euros to the public health authorities amid the COVID-19 outbreak, an amount he reportedly received as a donation from the Saudi monarchy.


This comes from a tradition known in this country as ‘Rough Musiking’ - raucous noise used in protest against kings and queens, landlords, tax collectors and other oppressors of the people!


I remember helping organise the banging of drums, bells, cymbals and other percussion instruments outside Westminster Cathedral when Tony Blair was giving a ‘faith’ lecture there.


Who would you like to ‘rough musik’ while we are in our Coronavirus lockdown? Any ideas of who should donate their ill-gotten gains to the NHS?


Watch Barcelona protest 

Friday, 27 March 2020

Upward & Downward - a New Science


Boris Johnson speaking on 15 March 2020
We are not, repeating not, closing schools now. The scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good at this time.


Boris Johnson speaking on 16 March 2020
We think it’s much better that we keep schools open for all sorts of reasons.


Boris Johnson speaking on 18 March 2020
We think that now we must apply downward pressure on that upward curve by closing the schools.


Every time Johnson talks about his government policy on Coronavirus he repeats these three words, “The scientific advice.”


What is this newly discovered science of ‘upward / downward curves' children? Put your hand down Johnson. You haven’t a clue.


Thursday, 26 March 2020

for Rhys


This is the letter I would like my grandson to read when he is old enough to understand its contents.

TO: Rhys Douglas-Wilson

written on 26 March 2021


Dear Rhys


I am writing this to you as your grandfather - your dad's dad. I hope I am still alive when you read it so that we can meet. I have missed being able to get to know you, but if I am no longer alive I hope it will help you understand who I was.


I did meet you when you were a few months old, but your mum decided I could not be your grandfather and since that day I have little idea what has been happening in your life. I hope all is good and that you are well and happy. This is the only photo I have of you.


I have not been too well in recent years; brain operation, heart surgery, stroke and heart valve infection. I was not expected to live, but I did. I spent a lot of my convalescent time thinking about you and about your dad, my son, who I love very much.


I was also given a lot of support from my wife Anne and from your uncle Ben. He does not have an easy life but is very brave and very positive. I hope you have a good relationship with him. 

Even after six years I still do not know why Jonny has agreed to cut me out of his and your life. You will have to ask him. 


I do know why your mother and grandmother, Renata, have behaved the way they did, but before I say more I want to add that I  hope you have a good relationship with your mum, your dad and your grandmother. 


I am sure Maria is a great mum and I know that Renata is capable of giving you a lot of love.


When Maria 'sacked' me as your grandfather she told me that her  reason was that I had 'selfishly' taken Jonny into a 'war zone'.  This is UNTRUE as Jonny came to Mostar four years after the war there had ended. His stay there changed his life for the better **


She told others that, I chased 'hookers’ (prostitutes) in New Orleans. Again UNTRUE. I think she was referring to a day in that city when I went to look for an elderly black guy I had met and to whom I had promised $20. After getting the money from a cash dispenser I told Maria and Jonny what I was going to do. Sadly he was not where I had met him and he never got the promised money.

For many years your grandmother Renata claimed that I 'abused' your dad. UNTRUE . She has since denied saying this, but I have communications from Jonny who remembers the allegation. When I visited Renata's aunt Mirijana in Zagreb 21 years ago she told me she was shocked that Renata and her father were 'going around Zagreb' making this and other allegations about me. I remember her adding, 'If Nada (Renata's mother and your great grandmother) was alive she would never have allowed them to behave in this way.'


Renata has also claimed that when I was running War Child I sold trucks to the Bosnian army. UNTRUE. It is true that other members of War Child were selling them. You can read about all this in 'Left Field', but when I found out I alerted the then War Child Trustees and to this day have retained the documents proving this to be the case.


So far as I know Jonny has never agreed with any of these four allegations made about me and it remains a mystery to me as to why he has agreed to silence me.


Here is what your father wrote to me on 1 Jan 2013:


You make Maria so happy I think you complete something she missed out on.. and not in a needy way but in a really positive way. The money you gave us rescued us and made this life possible and now this baby will make our family even more. …I am so blessed and you are so responsible for my strength, Anne too. I know Anne will be exhausted and we completely understand if she cant make it but please express to her how much we love her and hope she is happy to be a grandmother.” 


And the last communication I received from Jonny was on 30 Jan 2015 when he wrote this:


just wanted to write to you to say that I love you and also to say that there really isn't an issue between you and me.”


I am sure Renata is angry with what I wrote in my published memoir about our divorce. You can read that chapter here. 


I have no idea why your mother dislikes me and Anne. We both liked her and I can only guess that she experienced unhappiness with men in her past. 


I hope that you will be given your own copy of the book which I have dedicated to you. That you will then understand the truth about me. 'Left Field' can be read here:


I hope that someone will give you your own copy of the book with its dedication to you.


Here is what I wrote four years after Left Field’s publication.


Finally I wrote about the grief involved when losing Jonny, a living son here (under a pseudonym) which concludes with a song, “In the Living Years" by Mike and The Mechanics.


I am not angry or bitter, but massively regretful and sad. I have so powerfully wanted to see you and get to know you. Perhaps we will still be able to.

I take this opportunity to send you, Jonny, Maria and Renata as much love as can be accepted from me. 


David    xxxx



PS I lived as long as I did because of the love and strength I received from my wife Anne and from the love and solidarity I once received from Jonny and have continued to receive from your uncle Ben, from my sisters, Liz and Joanna and from all my friends. Here is your father and uncle a few years ago! Jonny was so cute and I believe that in his soul he still is.




Someone who knew your dad well in Bosnia recently wrote the following to me when hearing I was writing to you.

Please try to talk about Jonny and his talent, his joy in Bosnia, in what ways it was different and more positive than his life in London. He used to say how he won a scholarship to a fancy Highgate school that was full of spoilt rich kids of war criminals and Russian despots. Kids that took coke and heroin at the age of 15. His coming to follow you in Bosnia saved him from a life of debauchery, selfishness and drugs. He was admired by famous musicians and producers who took him under their wing and tought him many production and post production skills. Talents and connections he used to get where he is now and which eventually led him on the path to meet Maria and make Rhys. It led him on a path to a different kind of education and enabled him to meet people who made a difference in our world of despair and war. Jonny is someone who each and every Bosnian and Croat he ever encountered admired enormously. He had an energy and conviction that was hard to ignore. That inspired people and this energy only came about because he had a father who led him on this path. It is so ridiculous that he cannot acknowledge that now.


                                                 - - -

‘You should remind yourself that what you love is mortal, that what you love is not your own. It is granted to you for the present while, and not irrevocably, nor for ever, but like a fig or a bunch of grapes in the appointed season; and if you long for it in the winter, you are a fool.’ Epictetus




Jonny and David



Not a day passes when I don’t think about my two sons, Ben and Jonny, and my grandson, Rhys.

How was Jonny able to exclude me from his life over so many years, years when I had life-threatening operations, illnesses and a stroke?

Not long before I was expelled by Maria as grandfather Jonny wrote this to me .. “just wanted to write to you to say that I love you and also to say that there really isn't an issue between you and me.”

Earlier he wrote this to me … “You make Maria so happy I think you complete something she missed out on.. and not in a needy way but in a really positive way. The money you gave us rescued us and made this life possible and now this baby will make our family even more. …I am so blessed and you are so responsible for my strength, Anne too. Please express to her how much we love her and hope she is happy to be a grandmother.”


After my 'expulsion' Jonny wrote this in an email to a mutual friend ... “David took me to Bosnia where I was once beaten by many Croatian police who hospitalized me, I had guns put to my head multiple times and once someone fired a gun next to my right ear and I lost 20% of my hearing … For years now Anne has been spitting venom at my mother and both her and David have actively worked on making me hate my mother ** ... My father has a long history of bad behavour, he was arrested multiple times, he jumped from job to job and was financially unstable his entire life … He is hothead and I can't have him near my child … David comes from a long line of abusive drunks … The doctors told him the reason behind his brain issues were because he was heavily drinking since the 60s. He was an alcoholic and depressive before I was born … Anne is a bully she is horrid person, she orders David around and belittles and attacks him verbally … she is one of the most selfish people on this planet … David and his father were upper middle class entitled ponces, yeah he pretends to be a communist socialist lefty, but the fact is he comes from a very well of family that afforded him the time to waste his youth … David NEEDS to see a psychiatrist .”

Maria didn’t like me or Anne from the start. Indeed Jonny told me that he had told her not to destroy his family. There then followed my expulsion as Rhys’ grandad because I had ‘taken Jonny into a war zone’. After my visit to Jonny and Maria in New Orleans she claimed I had chased hookers there.

After Maria 'sacked' me as grandfather I never heard from Jonny again, not even when I was in hospital close to death.

When I am not here to defend myself, when I am no longer able to have even the possibility of contact with my grandson, when I am dead, I hope Jonny will be told that I never stopped loving him.


NOTE: I lived as long as I did with the love and support of my wife Anne, my son Ben and sisters, Liz and Joanna, my Mostar ‘son’ Oha, Masa and family, Teo and close friends, Eileen, Anthea, Jane, Trish and Alaistair, Maureen, Sebastian and Grainne, and Deicola. Andrea Rice, Ben's carer, has been supportive, not just of Ben, but of me as well. There are others who left before me – Alice, Gerry, Robin, Ken.

The Love that’s deep within me

Shall reach you from the stars

You’ll feel it from the heavens

And it will heal the scars

- anon



Additional correspondence:

Jonny to David: 21 January 2003 ... Dear David, please don't worry things are not as bad as they seem.The main point is that we finish every argument with love and with some sort of closure... Me and Nada (JONNY’S BOSNIAN FIRST WIFE) never finish arguments bad but we both have faults... My main thing is a take things to serious, there is not such a big problem with Nada's mum but basically I over interprit shit..… As for demon weed, the last time I smoked it was saturday morning which is part of the problem,,, but I don't need it.. Our characters show by how we deal with stress and I don't deal with it well.. The main point is when nada's mum had a go at me she was right about everything but also I think arguments are never dealt with in this way with her family so it is strange for her... I just hope she is cool with us... I don't want her to feel bad about being with us, even if the dali lama was sleeping over I'd get a bit miffed after a week... My problem is not her sleeping in our room (WHEN HIS MUM-IN-LAW WAS IN LONDON FROM BOSNIA) but that since last sunday i haven't had 1 minute of my wife's time, I have had to call her at week to talk in private Nada's mums really felt that it was wrong to have that argument at your place, and it probably was I am very sorry... And I am selfish as well..DJing and all that is no where near as important to me as nada and I would work in a factory if it was the only way I could keep her.... so don't worry we have no wish to be a part but I must learn to deal with myself not just because of Nada but because of the way interact with everybody.… Also please don't feel renata is responsible for anything, she has really changed and I love her as well and a lot of my problems are exactly that, my problems, they are there because I created them... Whatever blame we like to put on our parents it's still me that has been alone all this time dwelling on bad thoughts... Renata and you are good parents and you should never feel guilty for the way you raised me and Ben, we are both good people....I love you and Anne and I thank you both very much for the way you dealt with our inbalance.I am sorry. Take Care, Love, Jonny

Jonny to Anne: 28 May 2007 ... hey Anne, thank you so much for each treatment, i really owe you. Acupuncture has been the only thing that has given me a very real sense of changing for the better. I regard you as healer way above that of a doctor. Much Love, Jonny


 Jonny to Ben:13 May 2014 …when the divorce was happening Renata said David had sexually abused me, but all that aside i need to explain something to you about the divorce when Renata and David divorced I was 14 and you were 18 or older in the divorce David got 20,000 quid ish which represented about 5% of the family assets i then went to live with David , and even though I was the only child in the family at time (child being defined as someone younger then 18) David and I were awarded 5% of the family assets where as you and Renata got 95% so the reason David agreed to this was because Renata said she needed all that money for you and David wanting you to have a cushion in life agreed with the plan but Renata has ripped you off i'm afraid she is now keeping all the money to herself and giving you a small trickle to live on the actual fact of the matter is Renata legally agreed to support you by taking all of the families assets so it's none of my business because I took the 5% and Renata being consistently angry with me as a sign i should step away from our family and i must say i am more happier because of it BUT you have way more money then you think you do you are actually potentially a millionaire it's just the person who is safeguarding your money is being well dodgy please feel free to ask any questions if my explanation wasn't clear enough ….At some point you can ask her for the money you are owed … and you have at least a few hundred thousand … Think about it, she bought a house in cash in Cornwall … imagine how much she has sitting around … that's your money … because you were ill Renata was entrusted with all the assets because of you … she didn't get most of the money because she super cool or beat David at Scrabble … she got all the money because of you … and now she is keeping your money from you.

20 May 2014: Jonny to David ... I can assure you Renata is crazy ...she's just not smart enough to see how she is projecting her hate rather then handling it … but anyone who says any of this is your fault is just lying and i know it's really hard but you should try to let it just roll off your back and not let it get you down because she's mental and your not … Renata must be counting her blessings that she doesn't have to put up with any snotty little mix raced children ( MARIA HIS WIFE IS MECICAN-AMERICAN)… Fuck that bitch … I fucking hate her … the only blessing she has now is not hearing that i despise her … fuck her and all this hatred she put on me from such a young age … and I want our family to be something Rhys runs back to , not away from … but she needs to be fixed because she is broken

30 May 2014: Jonny to David ... Malcolm and Renata need a world view with a horizon blocking their way because it is their safety ... sticking to the family home of memories, not having close relationships where friends can question your world view … to them keeping close minds is a neccessity for them … but they have money and cushions and a palace ... people like Malcolm and Renata need to be shut down the same way Halliburton needs to be shut down ... they are feeding very bad things into the universe.

Wash your hands to 'God Save the Queen'


“The United Kingdom has an enviable reputation for resilience. In a rapidly changing world, we are at the forefront of embracing new opportunities and seeking innovative solutions to emerging problems.” Foreword to Cabinet Office National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies, 2017


In the three years since its publication let us examine the innovative solutions to the most recent ‘emerging problem', the COVID-19, Coronavirus outbreak.


VENTILATORS: These assist respiratory functions, pumping oxygen into the blood for vital organs. They are the main supportive treatment for critical stage COVID-19 patients.


Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said he could not make guarantees that everyone who requires a ventilator will get one, saying: “We don’t make guarantees in healthcare”.


Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the British Medical Association says UK’s lack of ventilators “is a result of a decade of under-funding”.


Former NHS trust chairman Roy Lilley has said, “I mean we’ve seen this coming. It’s pretty obvious we were going to need more ventilators and somehow or other, either we’ve been left flat foot and haven’t started to buy them quickly enough or we’ve tried to buy them and they’re just not there.”


HOSPITAL BEDS: Chairman of the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said the UK has about “a quarter of the critical care beds that Germany has and that the country’s “starting position unfortunately has been far worse than many other of our European nations”.


Europe is the third biggest manufacturer of hospital beds after New Zealand and the USA. Former NHS trust chairman Roy Lilley said “This is capital equipment and the hospitals won’t have been buying them”. He doubted European producers would sell to the UK now we are leaving the EU.


PROTECTIVE CLOTHING: The Times reports that, “frontline hospital staff fear that doctors and nurses will die because of NHS guidance that they do not need to wear full protective equipment when caring for virus patients.”


TESTING: The World Health Organization has criticised the approach of countries like the UK that are not prioritising testing, with its director General, Tedros Adhanom, saying “you cannot fight a fire blindfolded … test, test, test”. The Guardian reports that a junior doctor in an emergency assessment unit has started a petition called “Test frontline NHS staff for Covid-19 as a priority”, which has so far attracted nearly 700,000 signatures.


The UK government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance was asked if the UK should have mass testing on the scale of South Korea which has tested more than 250,000 people out of a population of 51 million, and is bringing infections down. He replied, : “I think we need a big increase in testing. That’s what I’m pushing for very hard.”


PRIVATE HOSPITALS: Spain and Portugal have led the way by requisitioning private hospitals, their equipment and staff. The UK are going to pay £2.5 million a day to ‘buy in’ these facilities.


LOSS OF EARNINGS: In the UK those who have lost their incomes are entitled to £94 a week. The Irish government is giving workers who have lost their incomes the Euro equivalent of £203 a week. The generous UK ‘scheme’ doesn’t even cover the many phony self-employed. Firms like DPD, a delivery company, is insisting that employees who self-isolate will still have to pay the costs of renting vans and equipment. And have I mentioned the homeless? It’s impossible to voluntarily self-isolate if you are sleeping on the street. The state should requisition hotels for the homeless. There they can be be fed, kept warm and offered medical assistance.


CLOSING SCHOOLS: The government’s reason for keeping schools open is that working parents will be deprived of the free childcare they provide. Schools across Europe are closed. In Boris Johnson logic it is better for children to travel to school, mix with each other, come into close contact with dozens of adults and spread the virus.


If Jeremy Corbyn were PM today millions would feel more secure. Even journalists like Robert Peston who spent years attacking him is now making the case for something resembling a socialist response to the crisis.


“ ‘Community organising’ is one of the platitudes frequently offered when someone is bereft of political ideas. It is hard to do and often very dull. This time it is different.” As one Tory minister put it to Peston, these principles imply that Boris Johnson will almost certainly have to oversee a Government that for a good year or maybe longer will look quite socialist. The Minister added, 'We'll find ourselves implementing most of Jeremy Corbyn's programme'.