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Navigating the Pandemic Fallout: Professionals Provide a Masterclass in Time-Wasting for Covid Inquiry

Thursday, 02 November 2023 22:03 Sport

"The Art of Distraction: Professionals Take Center Stage in Covid Inquiry's Theatrics"

In the ongoing Covid inquiry, the spotlight shifted from the dramatic revelations of personalities like Dominic Cummings and Helen MacNamara to a more seasoned player, former NHS England boss Simon Stevens. Described as the warm-up act for the main event, Christopher Wormald, Stevens entered the scene as the inquiry sought to navigate a course away from the chaos of the past few days.

The proceedings had taken on the tone of an unruly therapy session, with various individuals vying to expose what they perceived as corruption and incompetence within Boris Johnson's government during the Covid crisis. It was a spectacle of blame-shifting and desperation, prompting a call for a return to order.

In the world of government, where the purpose of a public inquiry often seems to be to obscure rather than reveal the truth, professionals adept at arse-covering were deemed necessary. Simon Stevens, now Lord Stevens, having been made a peer by Johnson in 2021, stepped into the witness box to shed light on his tenure as the CEO of NHS England.

Stevens, known for his ability to maintain discretion and avoid rocking the boat, outlined his job description, leaving the inquiry counsel seemingly baffled by the lack of tangible accomplishments. It became apparent that Stevens excelled in not doing anything, and this inactivity had, curiously, earned him a performance-related bonus.

As the inquiry unfolded, it became clear that Stevens represented a different breed of witness—one adept at ensuring the chaos of government dysfunction remained unseen and unheard. In the art of political theatrics, his role as a professional apparatchik promised to allow the waves to close over the gross dysfunction of the government, leaving barely a ripple on the surface. The inquiry had shifted from the drama of blame to the subtler choreography of distraction.

"A Dance of Denial: Simon Stevens' Testimony Unveils Government Dysfunction in Covid Crisis"

As the Covid inquiry delved into the substance of the government's response, the former NHS England boss, Simon Stevens, revealed a disturbing lack of concern for crucial aspects of pandemic management. Addressing the absence of Boris Johnson at Cobra meetings and the questionable leadership of Matt Hancock, Stevens downplayed any sense of urgency, characterizing the meetings as performance art depicting the end of the world through interpretive dance.

Stevens dismissed the idea that Johnson's nonattendance or Hancock's leadership raised any red flags, justifying their absence by labeling Boris as a certified halfwit and Hancock as a childlike fantasist. According to him, Cobra meetings were more of an indulgence than a necessity, showcasing a nonchalant approach to crisis management.

When questioned about Johnson's alleged oscillation and dithering, Stevens hesitated, refusing to make definitive statements. He leaned towards seeing the best in everyone, even when faced with derogatory comments from Dominic Cummings. Stevens seemingly brushed off insults, considering them terms of endearment and downplaying the significance of messages calling for his removal.

Despite mounting criticism, Stevens adamantly denied that the NHS had ever reached a breaking point, rationalizing grueling 72-hour shifts for healthcare professionals and downplaying the impact of his decisions during Jeremy Hunt's tenure as health secretary. Criticisms from Helen MacNamara regarding PPE and gender-specific concerns were dismissed as unjustified, revealing a pattern of neglect that extended beyond his role.

In Stevens' narrative, everything within the NHS had worked perfectly, highlighting a concerning culture of denial and deflection within the government's key figures. The testimony raised questions about accountability, transparency, and the true extent of the challenges faced by healthcare professionals during the critical period of the Covid crisis.

"Masterclass in Bureaucratic Ballet: Christopher Wormald's Time-Wasting Symphony"

As the Covid inquiry continued, Simon Stevens was just the warm-up act for the true maestro of time-wasting—Christopher Wormald, the permanent secretary of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). Wormald emerged as the king of bureaucratic intricacies, a pen pusher extraordinaire with a penchant for paperwork and a Pavlovian response of silence to any question.

The inquiry, led by counsel Hugo Keith KC, delved into Wormald's perspective on key figures. Regarding Matt Hancock, labeled a pathological liar by Cummings and MacNamara, Wormald vehemently disagreed. In his eyes, every fabrication held a kernel of truth—an optimistic belief for the extremely gullible, or, as he self-deprecatingly admitted, the stupid.

Moving on to Mark Sedwill's assertion that the health department was unprepared for the pandemic, Wormald's incredulous response painted a vivid picture. He proudly defended his contributions, emphasizing that he had ordered extra paperclips and ensured the photocopier had sufficient toner. In his eyes, this meticulous attention to office supplies was tantamount to pandemic readiness. While the rest of the world braced for a coronavirus pandemic, Wormald humorously suggested the DHSC was preparing for a flu pandemic, all the while perpetuating a bureaucratic charade.

Despite the appearance that the department shrugged off preventive measures, Wormald assured the inquiry that every document was printed with the correct font, offering a comedic touch to a situation that, in reality, was far from amusing. The revelation that briefing papers were intentionally outdated underscored the civil service's dedication to avoiding the issuance of helpful documents—an ironic twist in the pursuit of bureaucratic self-perpetuation.

Christopher Wormald's performance painted a surreal picture of bureaucratic absurdity, revealing a mindset where paperwork and fonts took precedence over practical pandemic preparedness. As the symphony of time-wasting continued, the true purpose of the civil service—to perpetuate itself—emerged as a recurring theme in this bureaucratic ballet.

"Bureaucratic Endurance: Christopher Wormald's Marathon of Time-Wasting Leaves Inquiry Counsel in Despair"

As the Covid inquiry persisted, Christopher Wormald's relentless display of bureaucratic prowess led counsel Hugo Keith KC to the brink of despair. The ongoing saga of paperwork, fonts, and Wormald's unique perspective on pandemic preparedness painted a picture of working with him as a descent into a bureaucratic cul-de-sac—a lifetime where process consistently trumped outcomes.

The inquiry, resembling a marathon of time-wasting, left Keith contemplating whether the ultimate outcome would be his own demise or Wormald's. The prospect of a career spent navigating the labyrinth of Chris's bureaucratic intricacies seemed like a lifetime sentence in administrative purgatory.

Yet, in a bizarre twist, Wormald's dedication to futility might be his ticket to success. The peculiar value placed on such skills could see him ascend to the role of the next cabinet secretary once Simon Case steps down—a potential future Lord Wormald. In a world where people pay good money for the peculiar expertise he possesses, Wormald's unique approach to bureaucracy may just be the key to his reward and future elevation within the civil service hierarchy.

In conclusion, the relentless bureaucratic display by Christopher Wormald during the Covid inquiry paints a surreal picture of a career characterized by paperwork, fonts, and a steadfast commitment to futility. The inquiry counsel, Hugo Keith KC, faced with the seemingly endless labyrinth of bureaucratic intricacies, reached the point of despair, contemplating whether the ultimate outcome would be his own demise or Wormald's.

Wormald's dedication to process over outcomes, though perplexing, positions him as a peculiar asset in a world where such skills are oddly valued. The text hints at the possibility of Wormald's ascent to the next cabinet secretary position once Simon Case steps down, possibly earning him the title of Lord Wormald.

The conclusion leaves a lingering sense of irony, emphasizing the unconventional reward system within bureaucratic circles. Wormald's unique approach to his work, where the pursuit of futility takes precedence, hints at the potential for success in the peculiar landscape of administrative intricacies. In this satirical narrative, the text reflects not only the absurdity of bureaucratic culture but also the sometimes perplexing paths to recognition and reward within such systems.

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