Politicians turn a blind eye to the Covid-ravaged NHS, but as winter hits, we’re forced to ask how many deaths are acceptable
- Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor and the author of Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic
A cynic, wrote Oscar Wilde, is somebody who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. Nowhere do those words appear truer than in the matter of human life itself. What could be more distasteful than attaching a price tag to a person – as though their worth can be measured in pounds and pence? A human life, surely, is priceless; no amount of mere money or stuff comes close.
The pandemic has destroyed such simple certainties. First, we stared in collective disbelief as Covid ravaged northern Italy. Next, we recoiled at the grotesque implications of achieving “herd immunity” by allowing the virus to race unchecked through the UK population, culling those deemed expendable by covert decree and government inaction. Quickly though, counter-narratives emerged. Lockdowns were pernicious and caused more harm than good. Economic Armageddon was deadlier than allowing older and economically unproductive people to die. The nation’s mental health mattered more than anything. This death was worth it, to avoid that one over there.
Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor and the author of Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic