200401 Prince Charles

Out of lockdown: Prince Charles is safe – but are people with long-term illnesses and disabilities being told to die so the privileged can have preferential treatment?

Mrs Mike was on the phone to the doctor yesterday, and he told her the coronavirus is definitely in the town where we live.

He also said the illness some of us had over Christmas and the New Year wasn’t it. He seems to have based this on evidence that fewer people died of it. That’s nice to know.

But Mrs Mike says she won’t be visiting her friend across the road any more, for fear of either of them catching the virus (they’d both had the other illness). Fair enough, I suppose, although it will mean more or less total isolation for her friend, and that’s not good for mental health.

But – with the government apparently determined to deny treatment to people like her if she catches the virus – it seems this is the only thing to do. Forgive me if I explain this in an apparently roundabout way:

Today is April Fool’s Day and Stepdaughter caught both me and the Missus with a good one – albeit in bad taste.

“Did you hear about Charlie?” she said.

“Charlie who?” says I.

“Prince Charles. Coronavirus got him. He’s dead.”

Of course he wasn’t dead. In fact, he came out of self-isolation yesterday, having recovered from the mild symptoms he had been showing.

He would have qualified as one of those in the high-risk category, though – due to his age alone. I don’t know if he has any underlying conditions that make him even more vulnerable.

At the time, I was writing the story on Vox Political about people with long-term illnesses and disabilities being told they won’t get treatment if they contract the coronavirus, because our government’s short-sightedness means there aren’t enough ventilators or other equipment to treat any but those most likely to survive.

It raises the question: who deserves treatment?

I have absolutely no doubt that Prince Charles would have had top-level medical care, whether he had cancer, neurological conditions or heart and lung illnesses or not – and I don’t begrudge him that.

do begrudge the fact that government guidance means treatment is being withdrawn from ordinary citizens with those conditions, due to the mistakes (and that’s being charitable) of successive Conservative governments.

If Boris Johnson had underlying conditions and received preferential treatment, I would begrudge it. Likewise with those other government ministers and cronies who have stated that they caught the virus – Matt Hancock, Alister Jack, Nadine Dorris, Chris Whitty, Dominic Cummings.

As they are part of the organisation that failed to plan properly for a pandemic like the coronavirus – despite having had an ongoing responsibility to do so, ever since the Conservatives came into office in 2010 – I think their proper place in the queue for treatment is behind people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

Yes, they might have an important government job but all the evidence shows that they aren’t very good at it. If they were, there would be no need to exclude anyone from treatment.

Or so it seems to me.