Instant Opinion

‘The NHS will need huge amounts of understanding by patients’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Helen Stokes-Lampard for The Guardian

We must be frank about this booster campaign – and what it means for NHS waiting lists

on patient patients

“If the patients I have seen in the last 24 hours are anything to go by”, most people in the UK are reacting to the new Covid variant “with a kind of fatalistic ‘what will be will be’”, writes GP Helen Stokes-Lampard in The Guardian. The government wants “to throw everything we have at this”, and that is because “there is, once again, a real danger the NHS will be overwhelmed”. Delivering the booster jab targets by the end of the month “will be a herculean task”, but “it’s not just the challenge of resources” that we should be readying for, the doctor adds. “There will be a need for huge amounts of patience and understanding by patients, many of whom have already waited too long for the tests, treatments and procedures they have been prescribed and promised.” Further delays will “inevitably” have a negative impact on those patients still waiting for treatment. And “the waiting list itself will lengthen”. “Tough choices need to be made,” she says. “Covid will hit us all if we aren’t careful.”

2

Sherelle Jacobs for The Telegraph

Lockdown is coming, and the surging costs now threaten to overwhelm us

on a game of chance

“Amid this fresh uncertainty, one thing is clear,” writes Sherelle Jacobs for The Telegraph, “we cannot go on living like this”. With the majority of the UK vaccinated, “we cannot go on suffering the permanent threat of lockdown restrictions”, nor “being plunged into panic by pessimistic modelling that has consistently proved wrong in the past”. Omicron is undoubtedly “a potentially serious setback”, but the UK’s response seems “more informed by modelling than evidence”. We could also be “entering the end game with the virus”, should a future mutation prove to make the virus “less deadly”, as some immunologists have suggested could be the case with the new strain. “It is a game of chance,” but so is “the effect of further restrictions”. Plan B “does not bode well”, but “worse are the gratuitous vaccine passports”. And “perhaps the biggest cumulative risk” further restrictions bring is “with the economy”. “The big question now,” says Jacobs, “is how we get out of this.”

3

Oliver Wiseman for Unherd

Buttigieg won’t save the Democrats

on a talent shortage

Democrats are wondering if Joe Biden “is up to a second term”, says Oliver Wiseman on Unherd. And with his vice president “underperforming the low bar set by her boss”, the question of who may run in his place “is unusually open”. And “so it is” that the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, “finds himself a popular answer to Washington’s favourite guessing game”. Is he really the answer though? “Viewed from his most flattering angle, Buttigieg might look like the perfect candidate to save the hopelessly out-of-touch Democrats.” But really, “the chatter” surrounding him “only reveals the seriousness of the party’s talent crisis”. Buttigieg, a “self-styled moderate”, is “an enthusiastic apostle of woke capitalism”. “He may not be the activist on the street who wants to defund the police,” writes Wiseman, “but he’s the suit in the boardroom insisting that everyone sign up for the DEI training”. Democrats’ real issue is “a class problem”, he warns. “If Democrats think Buttigieg is the answer, they don’t even understand the question.”

4

John Rutter for The Spectator

Our Christmas music is the envy of Americans

on festive ditties

Composer and conductor John Rutter, writing in The Spectator, says that, for him, Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year. After “writing some last-minute carols, then come the garage-sandwich weeks: endless travel to far-flung rehearsals in freezing churches and halls”, getting ready for “the annual round of concerts and carol services… It’s exhausting but inspiring.” This year, Rutter says he took an evening off to attend a dinner hosted by “a delightful music-loving American couple, in England this month because of the range and quality of Christmas musical events on offer here”. Whether it’s “a Messiah flawlessly performed” or “a carol singalong in the Royal Albert Hall”, Christmas “music brings the message and meaning of the season to life for anyone with ears to hear”. Why aren’t the two cathedral organists and general manager of a leading UK orchestra, also in attendance at the dinner, “heaped with honours”, asks Rutter? He even wishes “they were running the country”, given “the breadth of their intellects, the range of their skills”, and “their resourcefulness and resilience during the Covid crisis”.

5

Izzie Price for The Independent

Why I can’t wait to spend Christmas as a single person this year

on plans that matter

The festive season “is not typically a brilliant time for single people”, says Izzie Price in The Independent. In December, “the romance notch gets turned up to 100 per cent”, while single people find themselves “bombarded with images of rosy, festive-tinted love and cosy coupledom”. This can make people “feel lonely”, as this writer has before. But this year she feels differently “and I (bizarrely) have Covid to thank for my festive change of heart”. After months of separation during previous lockdowns, this Christmas will be a time for “putting my friends at the centre of my life”, she says. “If I did have a romantic partner right now, I wouldn’t be prioritising my friends in the same way.” The pandemic has made cherishing the “existing people” in her life “all the more vital”, especially given “the uncertainty” that’s ensued as a result of the Omicron variant. Plans that are going ahead “are all the more precious” now, Price adds. And that’s why she’ll be focusing on “the gift I’ve been given with my friendships” this year. 

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