‘Same mistakes simply must not be repeated’ Yvette Cooper MP reviews the COVID-19 situation

“With a second wave of Coronavirus growing, we badly need the government to show that they have learnt lessons from the first wave,” writes Yvette Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford in her latest Express column.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 1:09 pm

Things have been tough already for families and there are more difficult times ahead, so we can’t afford for the government to make the same mistakes again.

For a start that means that they urgently need to get a grip of the testing system.

Some people are waiting days and days for results, some have even waited weeks – one family told me they have now given up on ever getting their results.

Others are still struggling to get an appointment. One family was told to travel from Pontefract to Redcar. Another couple had to wait days to get a local appointment, getting up at 5am each day trying to book online.

And I’ve heard from local head teachers who say that testing delays mean children and teachers can’t go quickly back to school, and from local GPs saying there are delays getting tests for healthcare workers.

This isn’t just chaotic, it is dangerous as it is making it easier for the virus to spread.

If you don’t know who has the virus, you can’t trace their contacts and stop the virus spreading further.

That’s why the government’s failure to deliver a proper testing and tracing system has driven us back towards more restrictions instead.

The director of the test and trace system appointed by Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings said last week that no one expected this increase in demand for tests. But that is just incompetent.

Everyone knew there would be more demand when autumn came and schools went back, and they should have been preparing for every eventuality.

We didn’t have enough tests in the first wave, we need enough tests in place this time. The government must not make the same mistake again.

This time we need proper support for our care homes too.

I am still hearing of patients being discharged from hospitals into care homes after a positive test, or after no test at all. Ministers must not let that happen again.

We also need the government to extend support for jobs as many are now at risk.

Many businesses have struggled to reopen because of Coronavirus, and others face closure again.

The government needs to urgently target extra help on the workers and businesses in difficulty.

Even where job losses are for wider reasons, because they are happening at the same time as Covid the impact is worse.

In Pontefract, we’ve had the bad news that hundreds of jobs may go at Haribo.

I’ve been working with the GMB union which is trying to find alternatives to redundancies, and I’ve urged ministers to help too.

The government must not turn its back on manufacturing jobs.

Whatever the next few months bring, our community hubs and volunteers will be working hard in each town to help people facing tough times, so please get in touch if you need help.