I am all for parliament holding the government to account.

Parliament has not really done its job, and the government has got away with far too much under “emergency” conditions, and so far at least I am with Ron Hill (Letters, Sept 28).

However, Mr Hill’s description of Professor Ferguson’s “forecast of 500,000 deaths” is an outrageously crude misrepresentation made, in the first place, by some of the more unreliable UK papers and since widely repeated as fake news.

If Mr Hill had checked the original material, he would have seen that Ferguson made a number of hypothetical projections based on a variety of premises. The 500,000 was based on doing nothing; at the opposite extreme was a scenario which produced 20,000 deaths.

I am bemused that Mr Hill thinks protecting the NHS was unnecessary. The NHS effectively was overwhelmed, which is why we now have continuing excess deaths, a huge backlog of diagnoses and operations, and an exhausted staff who, under strength by some 40,000 nurses and around 10,000 doctors, performed supererogatory feats of endurance.

We have had nearly 60,000 deaths this year in which Covid-19 was a factor and we are already seeing an increase.

While Mr Hill is apparently happy to countenance a cull of the old he overlooks entirely the emerging figures for “long-Covid”, which can affect younger and apparently fit people.

Stephen Bendle (also Sept 28) makes some more nuanced points which bear some attention. The problem seems to be that, as with the lateness of the original “lockdown” in March, we still lack a test-and-trace system that provides good data.

The nominal capacity is irrelevant if it breaks down or is in the wrong place, or reacts too slowly, all of which we see now.

As with many other countries that have so far managed better than we have, even with fewer tests, the point is that the test and trace regime needs to be locally based, responsive to targeted priorities, and run by people who know what they are doing and care about it. As we approach the winter, many things will be better.

A huge amount of work has been done in the NHS and elsewhere to learn and improve.

It is time for parliament to put pressure on the government to be more of a part of that process.


Romulus Close, Dorchester