by Amy Jones
Wednesday, 24
March 2021
Debate
07:00

Public Health has turned on the public

The Government no longer treats its citizens like rational adults
by Amy Jones

The Government has just published yet more pandemic legislation under the catchy heading “The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021”. It runs at a mere 94 pages and outlines which day-to-day activities will be legally permitted or prohibited over the next few months.

The general public, giddy from the excitement of being legally allowed to sit on a park bench with a (non-bubbled) member of another household again, have much to look forward to: protesting will be legal again, “non-essential” retail will return, and soon we will be able to leave our homes without needing a “reasonable excuse”.

This legislation is over 40,000 words, and represents a series of legal levers to ensure that the public comply with the necessary actions, all done in the name of Public Health.

As a specialised field of medicine, Public Health is, at its best, a collaborative speciality, with a focus on communication, not coercion, which empowers individuals to make sensible, rational decisions. But the Public Health we have witnessed over the past year has been far from its best. Much like a bad doctor believing the problem with medicine is the patients, it is hard to shake the feeling that for many of those in power, the problem with Public Health is the public. Gone are the days when employing the police in a Public Health campaign would be seen as a failure of policy and communication — it is now seen as a necessary requirement.

The public are no longer viewed as rational adults, capable of having the risks and benefits of actions explained to them, and permitted the agency to make their own choices. They are treated like children, to be cajoled and coerced into making the “correct” decisions. This extends not only to the legislation, but to much of the public messaging — fear, shame and guilt abounds.

Little allowance is given for human needs. For those living in house shares, for example, sex with non-cohabiting partners has been legally prohibited for months. And while the onus throughout this period has been on those who break laws, the same consideration has not been given to more positive interventions, such as ensuring people have adequate sick pay, enabling them to quarantine effectively, or in getting sufficient supplies of PPE to reduce infection rates.

Working against the public, and treating human nature as an inconvenience that must be threatened with punishment, is the antithesis of Public Health and modern medicine.

It may be tempting to argue that in this time of crisis, particularly involving a communicable disease, the end justifies the means. But considering that this week marks a year since the first lockdown began — a year in which the minutiae of daily life have been rendered legal or illegal with the sweep of a pen — this cannot continue indefinitely. It is time for the Government to recognise this fact and start collaborating with the public instead of criminalising them.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Any organization with the word ‘British’ in its title will be working against the British people.
Any organization with the word ‘Trust’ in its title is not to be trusted.
Any organization with the word ‘Public’ is its title will hold the pubic in contempt.
All of this has been obvious for some decades.

Last edited 1 year ago by Fraser Bailey
dandj26
dandj26
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Indeed, just like countries with “Democratic” in the name.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  dandj26

Or countries with ‘United’ in their name?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Yes, that is increasingly the case. As I am all in favour of small, independent states where the governed are as close as possible to those who do the governing, I would welcome the break up of the UK and the US.
Scotland will surely leave the UK, which will save England a lot of money, and the Republicans in Texas have a bill in their Senate or whatever that proposes a referendum on secession from the US. Bring it on!

Last edited 1 year ago by Fraser Bailey
Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I live in the ‘Democratric Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka’. Well, they got one out of three right. It is indeed a republic.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
1 year ago
Reply to  dandj26

Esp. “peoples democratic republic” which have zero to do with people, democracy or republicanism.

Hilary LW
Hilary LW
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

You old cynic you! (This from a fellow sceptic)

Last edited 1 year ago by Hilary LW
Phil Bolton
Phil Bolton
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

… or ‘Ministry of … ‘

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
1 year ago

This is not now, nor has it ever been, a Public Health issue. I think in the future it will be increasingly seen for what it was, a compliance and control exercise.

Tim Gardener
Tim Gardener
1 year ago

It’s not just public health. Medicalisation is becoming a threat to society. For example, the notion that mental health is the preserve of doctors is widely accepted and yet deeply flawed. Doctors have become the new priestly caste and, while many interventions are successful, many are not – particularly in mental health.

Ultimately all human doctors fail, because death is inevitable. Doctors never save lives, at their best they merely delay death.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Gardener

well.. yes but then if you were to save a baby from a burning building today you’re only ‘merely delaying death’.

Hal Lives
Hal Lives
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Gardener

About 40yrs ago I had a brain infection that was killing me; it put me into a coma for a week, and during that time the infection had spread throughout my body.
I was blind for a week or so after I woke up because of blood clots on my optic nerves, I had a heart murmur, shadows on my lungs, and at one point my kidneys started to shut down.
I spent a total of 7 weeks in hospital and probably cost the NHS a small fortune as I was shuttled from hospital to hospital trying to find a specialist who could treat me, but after reading your comment I can’t understand why they bothered, after all, they didn’t save my life, simply delayed my death by 40yrs and counting.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim Gardener

If I need to get a broken bone fixed, stiches, or an infection treated sure. Doctor’s have their uses but big pharma’s magic pills seem more like snake oil. I had an overweight big pharma doctor insist I get a cholesterol test before he would agree to talk with me about an issue. I just walked out. I find homeopathic doctors more credible. They may not be able to treat advanced disease but at least have the right idea for achieving healthy
lifestyles that prevent disease. They insist on the need for eating a nutrient dense diet, getting physically fit, with they themselves being fit and trim! People tell me I’m crazy for talking to those nut jobs!

daniel Earley
daniel Earley
1 year ago

It’s typical of a bureaucratic institution, they have had taste of power and now want more.

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
1 year ago

I’d say that everyone now realises that the lockdown is over in all but name. You just have to listen to the traffic levels outside your door. The government are fighting a hopeless rearguard action and unless they give up and claim victory they’re in danger of needing Cnuts lesson to his court.

Alyona Song
Alyona Song
1 year ago

It certainly looks like the governments and public health authorities have used covid-19 scare as an excuse for a power grab. Now that they have endowed themselves with “emergency” powers, they cling to it no matter what, expecting unquestioned obedience from the people. This must change.

Pamela Booker
Pamela Booker
1 year ago
Reply to  Alyona Song

And when they are no longer in power, they and theirs can be subjected to the very limitations of freedom they themselves have created. Have they thought of that?

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
1 year ago

‘And while the onus throughout this period has been on those who break laws, the same consideration has not been given to more positive interventions, such as ensuring people have adequate sick pay, enabling them to quarantine effectively, or in getting sufficient supplies of PPE to reduce infection rates.

Excellent points. I still wonder how many lives have been lost due to simple things like carers not getting sick pay.

I was reading one of the papers around the UK NPIs – the Imperial studies that backed the governments NPIs only considered those NPIs. That is to say their starting point was that any reduction in cases, hospitalisations and deaths could only have been as a result of the mandated NPIs. It’s circular reasoning, junk statistics.

Frank Nixson
Frank Nixson
1 year ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

And furthermore, not supported by the available data. In fact, contradicted by many RCT trials. Neither lockdowns nor mask mandates are effective. There was one study of masking in health care settings that showed effectiveness. Every study of masking the general public (26 at last count, including 1 specifically addressing Covid 19) has shown no significant effect. You will look in vain for any impact from lockdowns in the epidemiological data. This is all political theater.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Nixson

Yeap – but to some degree I don’t ‘care’ about the trials disproving masking. If there was at least a macro correlation between mask wearing – even if causal unproven I’d be relatively happy with them.
Personally I think masks were a low cost (economically & socially) NPI, we tried them out – and they’ve made no discernible difference. Closing primary & junior schools is very high cost and went against the vast bulk of the evidence. Stopping reasonable size groups like multiple healthy families meeting outside went against all the evidence, and yet continues.

Best evidence is that being in a enclosed space near a symptomatic Covid positive person is by far the most dangerous. Best advice (or laws if you must) would be for the vulnerable to avoid enclosed spaces with other people, or physical contact outside. Washing your hands and wearing a face mask is theater.

The government and the health bodies dug themselves into holes and are more worried about saving face than saving lives.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Nixson

contradicted by many RCT trials

References to some, say five, of these “many” trials would be helpful.

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Pinch
Vasiliki Farmaki
Vasiliki Farmaki
1 year ago

What sort of doctor(s) would ever prescribe imprisonment and mass tortures as cure? What sort of scientists would ever experiment with prearranged false parameters? What sort of statisticians would then collect the false data and make false graphs and predictions? What sort of well-being is that when non medics contacting medical acts in open public spaces whereas privacy and strict confidentiality is key..(sales persons, security officers, admin officers, supermarket, bus drivers, TV cameras etc).. What sort of mental health is this when we are being bombarded with audio-visual violence 24/7? What sort of teacher will ever afraid his/her students as contaminated and praises isolation as pedagogy? What sort of politicians/MP/PM etc, is that when treating her/his fellow citizens with disrespect, irony and lies? What sort of business/business person is that who would ever accept receiving benefits.. and put in debt everyone, whereas previously they were the ones mocking the undeserved lazy unemployed on benefits?.. Bite your tongue..!! Making the comparisons, Marx is only a joke.. And I conclude then that is why is called public health as a matching parallel to public transport..! Is this the best and high science, technology, AI, education, politics, and reset, we are being told it is? Because to me it feels like we are viciously being taken back into the caves.. 

Last edited 1 year ago by Vasiliki Farmaki
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

I wish for trials against leaders to see if they broke the law with illegal colsures and lockdowns, and if so that they get prison sentences.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago

Do you have your healthpassport citizen? Can you prove your inoculation status?

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Boylon
Martin Price
Martin Price
1 year ago

Coercive fear has finite usefulness. With the successful development of vaccines and the vaccination of the vulnerable in society the population will naturally return to normality. There is little the government can do to stop it and indeed it will look silly if it tries. If domestic commerce is not allowed to reopen most businesses will adapt to find a way round the restrictions. I personally take hope from this.

Patrick.Corless
Patrick.Corless
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Price

Coercive fear is set to (even planned) to continue, and even increase as the ability of the public to cope with this crap drags on. You would be correct but you have fallen for the Sage half truth (and there are many of those), namely they have redefined the word vaccine. This jab is not a vaccine, as people understand the word, it’s efficacy is based on patients who become infected with corona virus and develop Covid not dying, or not being admitted to hospital (and that’s OK for the super vulnerable) It is not going to stop you getting Covid. It is a “prophylactic” vaccine! Most people think of a vaccine as a “sterilising” vaccine, i.e. you don’t get infected or the disease. The consequence of this (using a non sterilizing vaccine) is to drive the naturally occurring variants, which we have all been alerted to, towards a variant that is so different the vaccine simply does not work. The more people, including those who are otherwise healthy and would naturally fend off the disease, who get vaccinated the more reliably and quicker you will reach this point of driving a vaccine escaping variant. At that point your super vulnerable, who had the vaccine rushed to them are…….super vulnerable again. And so, the obsolescence built into the vaccine roll out gets us safely back to where we started; another “prophylactic” jab and social distancing measures reapplied. At a guess end of September will be when they suddenly discover the unexpected event, schools going back causing it, so we need to jab primary and secondary schoolchildren this time round, with a medication that doesn’t finish its safety trials until 2023, and was only given emergency licence to treat the super vulnerable! Oh, repeat every year, and no jab, no pub, holiday, theatre visit etc.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
1 year ago

The Government blames the people so we don’t blame the Government.The sad part is that we keep falling for it

Hal Lives
Hal Lives
1 year ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

“…we don’t blame the Government?” You haven’t been paying attention!

Joff Brown
Joff Brown
1 year ago
Reply to  Hal Lives

I would certainly say that a lot of the conversation I hear around the shops, etc is that the public are to blame for not behaving themselves. I think a huge amount of people have fallen for it.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
1 year ago
Reply to  Joff Brown

Just like Public Health and nutrition: same old advice for the last 40 years, obesity rates continually rising, attack those who oppose the orthodoxy and blame the public for not sticking to the rules.

Public health?…. they know little about health and almost nothing about public.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

The public are no longer viewed as rational adults, capable of having the risks and benefits of actions explained to them, and permitted the agency to make their own choices. 
This is hardly a new phenomenon. The virus simply put it steroids. Govt people increasingly believe (or act as if) we work for them, not the other way around.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

We are their subjects to be stamped, tracked, and traced. Have you not downloaded your health passport app good citizen?

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago

This because we do not have a health policy but and industry of illness. You can indeed only create a health policy if the public is part of this. Not when it is decided by ‘experts’.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
1 year ago

A young mother I know sums it up for me- they have had a year of my life now I am done with them and their laws. She means it too.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

I was done last April

john.weir7591
john.weir7591
1 year ago

I can say in one word why I don’t believe in this governments handling of COVID ( it is criminal ) and why I won’t be taking the vaccine – Ivermectin.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

How about a caption competition for the photo accompanying the article?

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Met Police Officer: “You’re nicked luv”

Innocent Bystander: “What for?”

Met Police Officer: “Dunno yet, but switch yer phone off and get on the back of my bike, now!”

Innocent Bystander: “Why, where are we going?”

Met Police Officer: “Some place in Kent, near Sandwich….”

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Copper: ‘Excuse me luv are you aware that Wetherspoons had reopened again?’… Sober sunbather: ‘Oh my God, what all of them?’

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
1 year ago

I hope the writer isn’t suggesting that we know what is best for ourselves and the government doesn’t.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago

Sadly a lot of experts believe this…..

Paul Hayes
Paul Hayes
1 year ago

I sympathise but I think you understate the problem. Firstly, adult humans aren’t, in general, rational. Not even* the (ostensibly) well educated and intelligent ones. Secondly, even if you assume that it’s processed rationally**, the good information concerning the risks and benefits of particular actions is undermined by the bad. Presumably you’ve noticed the “misinformation epidemic” that has featured prominently in the PH literature recently.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysrationalia
** Meaning to first order at least: only a miniscule fraction of the public has the intellectual and other resources needed to do more than that – e.g. dig into the science and debunk the superficially plausible vaccine/lockdown/facemask myths for themselves – anyway.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Hayes
Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Hayes

Dear Paul,
Rationale is an interpretation of reality that is used to have ‘conventional’ agreement on subjects in groups. Other people and groups will see and feel things very different which should be seen as equally valuable in its own right.

Paul Hayes
Paul Hayes
1 year ago

Well that’s a postmodernist* rejection of rationality** as I meant that term and I can’t support it. Not least because then you would be right: the associated Cliffordian ethics*** that’s the basis for not judging all opinions equally valuable would go with it.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postmodernism
** https://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/what-is-science-and-why-should-we-care-part-iii/
*** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_of_belief

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Hayes

So what? Government is merely one aspect of society i.e. the people. It doesn’t matter what the intellectual capacity or education achievements of some are, they have the same diginity as every other member of society. Governance should be of (all) the people, for (all) the people, by (all) the people.

Peter LR
Peter LR
1 year ago

Is this why even after so long we have no internationally agreed firm data on the effectiveness of things like masks, distancing, open-air engagement, etc? Has it been withheld so that Governments can dictate terms rather than allowing us to make our own rational decisions on risk? I don’t know where to look for answers to these questions.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Look outside the window. Lol

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago

Public health officials are the enemies of the public. They are nothing but evil fascists drunk on their power and self perceived importance.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Boylon
Lena Bloch
Lena Bloch
1 year ago

It is a great article that sums up everything what has been wrong with this “response” to the pandemic. Even a psychology beginner student knows that fear and emotional worry paralyzes human decision-making and human feeling of responsibility. Instead of reinforcing calm and measured decision-making, the global governments and their “pandemic task force” (such as media, television and public speakers) have done everything to maximize fear and worry, fear- and guilt-mongering are going on 24/7. Not just in the UK, obviously. People have been even driven into believing that if you have no fear and worry, you DENY the seriousness of the situation. Irrationality, emotive messaging, community shaming, presumption of guilt (people are simply assumed to be “asymptomatic carriers” without any evidence who can “kill” others around them) – these psychological measures are KNOWN to achieve the opposite of what they claim to achieve. Even in raising children, not speaking of dealing with adult citizens. In the past, first government’s message to citizens during the times of war or disaster, was “Do not panic”. Now, for some reason, it is “Panic, panic, panic – if you don’t, you are a pandemic denier”. It is as ignorant as it gets, and I am shocked that in the UK, it came from Scientific Pandemic Influenza group on Behaviour and Communications, that tasked the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies how to draft a manual of modification of human behaviour. The knowledge about human psychology is nowhere to be found. People are being treated like animals in training would be treated. Here is a detailed history of how and what has been done. As a psychologist, I see it as a manifestation of obsession with control and manipulation. Sick. https://21stcenturywire.com/2020/05/20/covid-lockdown-coercion-boris-johnsons-psychological-attack-on-the-uk-public/

adm.peters
adm.peters
1 year ago

Following Berthold Brecht’s suggestion following the popular uprising in East Berlin in 1953, if the government has lost faith in the people, why doesn’t it dissolve it and elect itself a new one?

Clay Trowbridge
Clay Trowbridge
1 year ago
Reply to  adm.peters

Because it would rather dissolve people.

Clay Trowbridge
Clay Trowbridge
1 year ago

This is probably only relevant to the US, , but if some people were to be found guilty of a capital offense, say the deaths of hundreds of thousands, what injection wod would they choose for execution by lethal jabbing?

Gerald gwarcuri
Gerald gwarcuri
1 year ago

This is Public Health right out of Brave New World. “Sit down, at least six feet from anyone else, and shut up, while we protect you from yourself.” The only hope is that more police chiefs will do as some have done in the U.S., and inform the Public Health Department that they will not enforce these asinine regulations. They have much more important work to do in protecting public safety. ( Which is, of course, why the woke politicians are busy defunding them. What could possibly go wrong? )

Peter KE
Peter KE
1 year ago

Too much poor quality government. Disband SAGE, PHE, NHSE, DHSC sack the individuals they have done a terrible piece of work. The success has been vaccine delivery largely driven by the private sector.

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
1 year ago

That’s because ‘Public Health’ is now a Trojan horse for something sinister.
Hide your kids, hide your wife.

Pauline Shimell
Pauline Shimell
1 year ago

There may come a time when the public will have to decide how to deal with the pandemic. The vaccine does not work in all cases, makes some people ill and will need constant updating. Industrial scale medicine does not account for the way in which individuals differ.
For instance this weekend it came to light that 1,802 were hospitalised with CoVid after their vaccinations. SAGE suggested this could have been caused by a change in their behaviour before their vaccines had conferred protection (see this Saturday’s Guardian, Independent and Daily Mail for more details).
Knowing how many of those people were terrified of even going to have the jab for fear of catching something it on the way or in the queue, I really can’t see how any of them dropped their guard either just before or on the day of the jab.
How confusing to have a vaccine that is supposed to prevent serious illness and end up in hospital! How demoralising after months of sheltering!
Then there are those, who have been made sick by an adverse reaction to the vaccine, which they were told was perfectly safe. They will either be told it was nothing to do with the vaccine or that the vaccine was not as safe for them as it is for others.
The population is in danger from the immunosuppressive effect of frustration. Bellies continue go unfilled while vaccine passports are debated and developed. Does anyone in public health remember that antibodies are proteins and that mounting an immune response requires energy?
Public health lacks a holistic approach and is committed to a reductionist one . It was decades ago when the WHO defined health as not simply the absence of disease. In the 1970’s the outcome of a disease was said to be determined by the virulence of the pathogen (disease causing agent e.g. CoVid) and the susceptibility of the host(us).
The public do believe in lock downs and will need a great deal of help to accept other measures. As they know how their lives and communities operate and by now have some experience of CoVid maybe their input could be sought. So far it has all been top down, now it is time to try a bottom up approach, localised rather than centralised.
If the technocratic elites shared information in an appropriate form and listened hard to the people about the details of all their special settings and circumstances, then each might learn to respect the other’s take on reality. In this way truly holistic solutions could emerge. It will take patience, commitment and humility. CoVid will stay with us until we stop trying to paper over the chasms that divide our society.
I am a retired health sciences lecturer