Sunday, 5 April 2020

Ventilating My Anger


“Britain is the most corrupt country in the world”. Roberto Saviano, journalist and expert on the Italian Mafia.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of people with coronavirus (COVID-19) recover without needing hospital treatment.

The other 20% can become seriously ill and develop breathing difficulties.

For them fluid may enter the lungs, making it hard to breath and causing the body's oxygen levels to drop. To alleviate this, a ventilator is used to push oxygen into the lungs.

These ventilators are vital to proper treatment of COVID-19 and the government admit the country has a massive shortage.

But rest assured because Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, told the BBC this week. “there’s now over 12,000 ventilators that we’ve managed to get to”. It’s not clear exactly what Mr Hancock means by “managed to get to”, but his junior minister, Edward Argar, suggested a different interpretation on the numbers. He said.“We are now up to around 8,000 ventilators”.

However absurd the lack of communication between senior and junior minister we can take comfort because the EU invited the UK to join a scheme to bulk-buy ventilators. Good news, but wait, the Boris Johnson government has snubbed the scheme.

Never mind you may say, the UK has companies which already make these ventilators. Two of these are Direct Access Medical and MEC Medical. So phew, relax your worries, but hold on ...

Direct Access Medical boss Steven Mifsud says that despite registering with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) website (on their “ventilator challenge” page), the only response they got was an automated thank you and a notice informing them they were ‘in the system’. After a further five days passed his company's supplies went elsewhere. “Time is a luxury that we as a nation do not have,” he added. “This virus does not wait for anyone and every second costs lives. I am incredibly frustrated with the British government and the current mañana attitude.”

MEC Medical, with experience in ventilator manufacture, also offered to supply parts and produce the machines, but had had no response from the government. Andrew Raynor, their Director explained that “nothing” happened when he first offered to make ventilators, and said they “should have given funding to existing ventilator manufacturers and existing companies like us.”

What has happened? Dyson Ltd, the vacuum cleaner manufacturers, with no background in this sort of medical technology, have been awarded a government contract to manufacture and supply 10,000 ventilators. They sdmit they cannot even start planning production until April.

The general consensus is that it’ll be months before we see any of them. And it's said that Dyson will most likely sub-contract some of the work to companies like Direct Access and MEC Medical.

I was once responsible for constructing a music centre and know full well that the main contractors then sub-contract the work to companies who know what they’re doing, but only after they have ensured their ‘cut’. Most likely Direct Access and MEC Medical will be a part of this!

Dyson founder, James Dyson, was a vocal supporter of Boris Johnson's Brexit stance. The 2016 Forbes magazine reported that he was an influential Conservative Party member and Party funder.

JCB, another company with no bacground in ventilator technology, have also been approached by the British government asking them to consider producing ventilators. JCB Chairman, Lord Bamford, has confirmed that they now had “research and engineering teams actively looking at the request”. The company have donated £4.5 million to the Tory Party over the last twenty years.

When time is of the essence, people are dying and NHS staff are at enormous risk, the government chooses to engage in speculative projects with their best friends. They seem to have all the time in the world and our lives in their incapable hands.

Breath in, breath out, breath in and shout ‘CORRUPTION’.

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