Why the baby doomers are wrong

Rarely does a piece of journalism bring a tear to my normally cynical eye, but I did find this happening when I read Tom Woodman’s piece (‘You must be kidding’) in last week’s edition. He and his wife would not have children, he wrote, because climate collapse means that ‘I can’t give them a future’. What made me weepy was his combination of obvious decency and utter mistakenness. How tragic that what he called ‘the facts and figures’ — in reality, contentious projections — have persuaded this couple that no little Woodman must come into the world. ‘Tree,’ I felt like shouting, in reversal of the Green order of priorities,

In India, the Covid crisis has left us helpless and broken

New Delhi Crematoriums are burning so many pyres that they have run out of space and wood to keep up with demand. Vehicles filled with bodies queue outside the funeral homes for hours. People are dying in the streets, some laid out on stretchers, while ambulances wait in vain outside every hospital in the city. This is what a collapsed healthcare system looks like. There are 4,700 Covid intensive care beds for Delhi’s population of 19 million. There are 20,750 non-ICU Covid hospital beds, but most are without any oxygen support and have strict admission criteria. To find a bed, the families of Covid sufferers are forced to call hundreds

Hospital wards are filling up again – with fakers

How do I know that Britain’s Covid crisis is over? The fakers are back. The hypochondriacs, the psychosomatics, the pseudo-fitters, the attention-seekers and the lonely. They’ve started to return to the acute medical ward where I work. They’ve been gone so long I actually almost missed them. This collection of patients, who take up time and resources inversely proportional to the state of their physical health, simulate symptoms for gain (malingerers), simulate/induce their symptoms for the pleasure of the sick role (Munchausen’s syndrome) or genuinely experience symptoms such as pain, seizures or paralysis in atypical ways with no physically identifiable or treatable cause (now vaguely termed ‘functional disorders’). Members of

Is the virus retreating?

Imperial College’s React study was in the news again this morning. The latest instalment swabbed 167,642 people between 6 and 22 January and found that 2,282 of them tested positive. A weighted average suggested that 1.57 per cent of the population had the virus between those dates. The study concluded: ‘Prevalence remained high throughout, but with the suggestion of a decline at the end of the study period’. It led to reports this morning that the latest wave of the epidemic is declining only very slowly. The React study, however, seems to be increasingly out of line with government data on new infections, as picked up through the test and

The horrifying toll of lockdown on the poor and mentally ill

I start the week with someone throwing faeces at me. I thought people were supposed to clap for doctors these days, not hurl poo at them? Never mind. Thankfully I’m fast on my feet despite it being the early hours of the morning, and dodge the mess, which hits the wall behind me. I’m working a week of nights covering A&E for mental health and this kind of mayhem is not as unusual as you might expect. The naked man, covered in excrement, runs around screaming. The nurse with me doesn’t even flinch. I love A&E nurses. They’ve seen and heard it all. I’m sure if there were a nuclear

How the NHS has coped with the second wave

Across Europe, hospitals have been filling up again with the second wave of coronavirus. France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands have all been hit, as has the Midwest of the United States. In England we’ve gone from fewer than 500 Covid-positive patients in hospital at the start of September to nearly 15,000 now. Each morning, we anxiously scrutinise the overnight figures. Thankfully, in the past week Covid inpatient numbers have begun to plateau — although they’ve still been rising in parts of the Midlands, London and Kent. So it’s an uneven picture. But unlike in March, community testing gives hospitals advance warning, so we’re able to adjust the provision

I’m sick of people patronising Captain Sir Tom Moore

Nobody earns the right to respect just by having lived into old age, whenever that begins — it has happened by chance and by virtue of having dodged a few bullets. But everyone has the right to be treated with good manners and kindness by those with any power over them — even prisoners and toddlers having pyrotechnical tantrums. Mostly, politeness and consideration are forthcoming. It is always a shock if a bank clerk, dentist or traffic cop are brusque, perhaps because it is so rare. Still, I can stand rudeness more easily than I can tolerate being patronised, something older people encounter regularly. When Colonel Sir Tom Moore raised

Is Bernie Ecclestone the world’s oldest father?

Game on A few things which are still going on, in spite of coronavirus: — Football in Belarus, where the 2020 season recently began. Choice fixture over the weekend is Sunday’s clash between league-leaders FC Minsk and BATE. — Practice games in Sweden’s 5th and 6th divisions are going ahead as gatherings of fewer than 50 people are still allowed. Fifth division Skabersjo IF, who last week played sixth division Vastra Ingelstad, aren’t allowed their usual supporters, however – last season they had an average gate of 70. — Bets were still being taken last week for the Setka Cup, a table tennis competition in Moscow, and for Taipei’s Super

Prue Leith: My carbon footprint should put me in jail

I made the mistake of saying I thought insects might help feed the world. They are high-protein, cheap to farm (they breed like rabbits and grow like Topsy), require little water and energy and probably wouldn’t mind being factory-farmed. Now my post is full of mealworm powder and cricket flour and invitations to champion bug farms. Being an adviser to the hospital food review has been surprisingly uplifting. The panel members are mostly NHS professionals who are champing at the bit to improve matters and have already led changes in their own hospitals, so know it can be done. In one hospital, lunch was as good as the best home