Was Brexit a bridge too far, at a time when government simply needed to focus all its energy and resources on managing just one crisis, one project, one message, one nation: Covid-19 – and tackle it successfully? Dr Joe Pajak asks.


First published in December 2020.


Our Hospitals Are Filling

Dr Dominic Pimenta, Doctor, Writer, and Researcher, tweeted today, I can’t believe we are so squarely back here again. Just stay at home. London hospital declares major incident over oxygen supply fears.”

Rachel Clarke, Palliative Care Doctor, tweeted too, “As of today there are 20,426 Covid patients in hospitals in England – the highest number ever recorded, even at April's peak. There is no denying the gravity of where we are. Hospitals are overwhelmed. Staff are on their knees. Please do not believe anyone claiming otherwise.”

Our NHS is reaching limits not seen before, and meanwhile the government has left schools, colleges, universities, parents, carers, businesses, communities, and students wondering what is happening in the New Year.

It has been coming, ever since the pandemic begun, or since the first lockdown: the exams debacle, the return of schools and universities without effective and comprehensive Covid-19 testing.

Boris Johnson. | Flickr - Number 10

Education Centres Are Left Wondering

The National Education Union makes a plea that, “The Government must publish advice and modelling from Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer.”

The Union now calls on the Prime Minister Boris Johnson “to delay school reopenings and make public advice he has received on the risks of this dreadful disease. Our members have a legal right to work in a safe environment.”

While Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of NASUWT (the Teachers’ Union), tweets that the Government cannot wait weeks or months to see the impact of the new variant in schools and colleges before taking further action to limit the spread of the virus. Tougher measures are now required to protect pupils and staff.”

So, what is the government’s plan of action and advice?

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove told the BBC’s Nick Robinson this morning, “It is our intention to make sure that we can get children back to school as early as possible.” The government is indeed planning a staggered return plan for secondary schools in January despite the scientific advisers recommending keeping secondary schools closed because of the new strain of COVID-19.

This evening, the government was still said to be pushing ahead with its plans for primary school and older secondary school children to return to classrooms next week. A senior minister admitted however, “We always keep things under review.”

All this, it seems, has not been well enough thought out and, according to the Unions, demonstrates very little collaboration and listening to those working at ‘the chalk face’.

Has Brexit diverted all capacity and resource at government level? Such that there has been very limited in-depth strategic planning, little collaboration, and even less listening to those who know the reality of the situation?

Where have school leaders, local health partnerships, and the government’s own scientific advisers been involved, let alone listened too?

All this in the context of today’s UK Covid Data Headlines.



A further 357 people have lost their lives in the last 24 hours in the UK, while the number of deaths in the last 7 days has reached 3,493.

Today’s 14-day trendline chart is provided below:


Data source:



Dr Joe Pajak, Professional experience applied scientific research and development, then director of a national children’s charity, trustee of a disability charity, and governor of NHS foundation trust hospitals.


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[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 28 December 2020. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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