Nphet and the Government – a very public disagreement
Sir, – It is comforting to know from our elected epidemiologists that the coronavirus respects county boundaries, Cabinet negotiations and the art of compromise. A truly interesting strain. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The Tánaiste was artificially elevating his own position relative to Nphet in saying, “while members of Nphet were very well qualified, none were in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment or otherwise affected by the economic impact of the measures” that go with a Level 5 lockdown.
It can be argued that the same is true for Leo Varadkar.
Furthermore, the inference that Nphet is indifferent to the consequences of its recommendations is highly questionable. – Yours, etc,
DR JAMES FINNEGAN,
Sir, – When writing from the UK, it obviously requires some humility when commenting on the actions of others in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and I, like many others, would agree that Ireland has taken sensible and proactive steps to protect lives.
That said, I was disappointed to see the publicly aired disagreement between the Government and Nphet over whether to move to Level 5.
Good government, especially in times of crisis, depends on authority and a single clear message.
Ultimately the Taoiseach and Cabinet are responsible for running the country, and a public body has an obligation to advise in confidence, not give the appearance of trying to coerce elected representatives by making deliberations public inappropriately.
If members feel strongly that the Government is not taking their viewpoint seriously, they are of course free to resign and put their opinions forward as private citizens. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The Government’s rejection of Nphet advice is a calculated risk and a decision that, given its timing, should not have been made without further serious debate. Nphet’s strategy to go to Level 5 was to have a “circuit-break” or a short strict lockdown for three to four weeks to reverse the surge in the number of escalating Covid cases. The Government did not agree.
Economies can be rebuilt, businesses can reopen, but lives once lost can never be replaced. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Some of your letter writers (October 6th) ask who rules the country, Nphet or the elected Government? I think the answer has now become clear. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Crunch decisions about public health policy in a pandemic are sometimes a gamble.
Given how easily our health services could be overrun if infection rates continue to rise, I’d put my money and my life on what the chief medical officer and Nphet said about moving to nationwide Level 5 restrictions as the safest bet. – Yours, etc,
Prof CHRIS FITZPATRICK,
and Infants University
Sir, – I commend the Taoiseach for moving to Level 3 and appeal to all to limit their social activity. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Less than three days ago, scientists, mathematicians and medical experts in Nphet used data available to them to recommend that, based on the best predictive mathematical models, the entire country should move to the Government-defined Level 5 Covid status.
The Government has decided to override the advice of the experts. The onus is now on the Government to explain why it rejected the advice of the experts in Nphet and to name their medical, statistical and mathematical advisers. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – What an absolute mess. Nphet, which used to have credibility, has blown it. The Government, which has already lost its credibility on Covid-19 a few weeks ago, has done itself no favours.
No longer can the Government claim to be following public health advice.
The Government may as well throw away Levels 4 and 5 because they will never be implemented as nobody in this country is going to listen to it or Nphet anymore.
Any attempt at further restrictions or even enforcement of existing restrictions is pointless.
Those for whom life is one long party have been the winners. They can party like it’s 1999 because no one is going to stop them.
As for the elderly and medically vulnerable, it is back to cocooning, and the knowledge that the Government has failed them. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – The medical experts know what is required to keep us all safe.
I plead to the Government to listen and adhere to their advice and let us fight this virus together. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Tánaiste Leo Varadkar criticises Dr Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer, for giving expert advice without consulting the Government in advance.
What sort of medical advice needs prior approval? – Yours, etc,
Dr JOHN DOHERTY,
Co Dhún na nGall.
Sir, – With the decision to reject the advice given by Nphet to move to Level 5, our Government is taking a huge gamble with the lives of the elderly and those at risk.
Should things deteriorate drastically, the buck stops at the feet of the Cabinet and the Government. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – If Hollywood disaster movies have taught us anything, it’s that politicians rejecting expert advice is rarely a good choice. – Yours, etc,
Sir,– Nphet was formed as an expert committee for crucial medical advice. We are told that our Government intends to veto the advice, given by their own experts, which may well save lives and prevent excessive infection of our population.
Does the Taoiseach consider Nphet as yet another quango to be ignored when its advice does not fit his political point of view?
If experts appointed by the Government can be so easily ignored, then what is the point? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The Government has had many jobs to do during the pandemic, but the most critical one was to make the case to the public for an approach to the pandemic that takes medical advice seriously – no matter what pressure the conspiracy theorists or vested interests might bring to bear on them.
By deciding to reject strong advice from Nphet to introduce the Level 5 restrictions deemed necessary to protect our chronically underinvested healthcare system in favour of much lighter Level 3 restrictions, it has demonstrated contempt for medical expertise during the middle of a pandemic, and has damaged its credibility in relation to their dedication to public health on foot of pressure from vested interests. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – In Ireland, unlike most of Europe, we appear to be living underneath rather than living with Covid-19. When the Living with Covid plan was published, I had expected a detailed plan around testing and tracing, intensive-care unit capacity, and protecting the vulnerable.
Instead what we got was a framework for levels of shutting us down. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – This is an unprecedented situation and surely the Government should be taking the scientific advice seriously and fully.
This decision will cost lives. – Yours, etc,