Friday, 17th April, 2020

[Day 32]

Well, today has been one of those indeterminate days where nothing has really gone right – we all have days like that. The spell of good weather is coming to an end and although a spattering of rain arrived in the afternoon, the weather was sufficiently fine for us to enjoy our customary walk to the park. However, the colder weather was keeping the joggers away and all but the most determined dog walkers so we quickly drank up our coffee and made for home – but we did have the bonus of chatting to two of our closest friends on Kidderminster Rd on the way home. As it happens, they were on the way out to enjoy their constitutional so it was a happy coincidence that we did not miss each other.

In the afternoon, I had set myself the task of trying to chase the insurance claim for the holiday that we had booked for Porto in Portugal in mid-May. As you might expect, this was problematic from the word go. The insurance company, even I contacted them by phone (in desperation) will refuse any claim if Expedia has not issued a cancellation invoice. In the meantime, the Expedia website is completely overwhelmed and speaking to a ‘human’ is impossible. They have an automated system to respond to queries that refused to recognise the itinerary number or my email address although I have the original confirmation in January ready to quote to them. Eventually, I gleaned from the insurance company that even I had been able to speak to an agent at Expedia, they would refuse to deal with me until the planned holiday was only 10 days away. So I put a note on the calendar and resolved to contact them (if I could) a bit nearer our planned departure date. To cap it all, as I started out to write this blog I received a communication from Expedia asking me whether I would like to cancel (which I did) and then intimating that for the outward leg of the journey, the airline Iberia would offer me a voucher for the unused flight and British Airways would do the same for the return leg of the journey. So the whole thing is turning into a logistical nightmare, given that nobody will be flying anywhere for months ahead, so far as we can tell! But enough of these woes and now for more serious issues.

The lack of the UK’s government’s preparation for the COVID-19 crisis is really starting to unwind this weekend. As I write, there appear to be indications that trusts all over the country will run out of gowns which are necessary to don before one can treat patients without putting your own health/life at risk. The official line appears to be ‘see if you can wash it and use it again’ which implies instant turn around laundry and sterilisation issues not to mention wear and tear. I have also some intimations, both personally and through the columns of Health Services Journal that the situation in Accident and Emergency departments is fast deteriorating. It appears that ‘normal’ A&E admissions are not taking place so many suspected heart attacks, strokes, and potential cancers are now not being treated, as potential patients are too scared or unwilling to attend A&E departments. Last nights ‘I’ newspaper, which I haven’t had the chance to read or verify, is arguing that we may be saving some COVID-19 patients’ lives but the collateral damage in untreated cancers, strokes and heart attacks might mean that there are an additional 60,000 deaths (i.e. 4 times of the present COVID-19 death rate) The A&E departments themselves are, anecdotally, being populated by victims of domestic violence, botched suicide attempts, and alcohol abuse problems. I wish I could end on a more cheerful note but it is not possible. I wonder what the inevitable ‘official’ inquiry will reveal if one is held when the immediate crisis is over.