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Mark Andrews on Saturday: Nightingale shows what can be done

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Read this week's column from Mark Andrews.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and NHS staff stand at the opening of the NHS Nightingale Hospital

Take a look at the Nightingale Hospital in London. Fourteen days ago it was just an empty exhibition hall which hosted conventions for things like knitting and organic food.

Now it is a fully functioning, state-of-the-art hospital, providing specialist care for up to 500 patients. Within days, its capacity is expected to increase to 4,000.

To create a centre like this in just a couple of weeks is an incredible feat, and a huge credit to both the NHS and the Army which has helped build it. It shows the tremendous level of ingenuity and incredible work ethic of the British people when their backs are against the wall, and when they are unfettered by the whims of stifling bureaucracy.

But compare that to the saga of the £475 million new Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick, which is still two years from completion, some four years after work was started by the now defunct Carillion. Or the renovation of Wolverhampton Civic Hall.

Two years from opening – Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick

Once the coronavirus crisis is out of the way, the Government needs to carry a detailed review into why public infrastructure projects are so rarely delivered on time and on budget.

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Former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan has laid into Premier League clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United for taking advantage of the Government's furlough scheme, where workers laid off during the coronavirus crisis have 80 per cent of their salaries covered by the taxpayer.

He says it is morally wrong that football clubs which have been awash with television revenue, splashing the cash on huge salaries for footballers, are now expecting the taxpayer to subsidise its modestly paid backroom staff.

Simon Jordan

And like him or not, you have to say he's right, isn't he? Of course Tottenham and Newcastle are just the first out of the blocks, and providing they ride out the storm I don't doubt that most of the Premier League will be following suit. But with pretty much every team in the league bringing in £100 million plus from TV revenue alone, and paying an average of £70,000 a week to its players, how can it be right that these mega-rich clubs are turning to the Government for help?

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If these multi-billion pound businesses do not have enough slack in them to survive a few months disruption, then they need to look again at their business models, and of course, how much they are paying their players. It is one thing the Government picking up the tab to help struggling small businesses through this crisis. It is something else expecting the taxpayer to indirectly subsidise the fabulous lifestyles of football's top players.

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Meanwhile, a medical fetish supplier has donated its entire stock of medical scrubs to the NHS after being contacted by a local hospital.

This does beg a few questions. Firstly, is this fetish gear up to medical standard? And what sort of person actually gets a kick out wearing this sort of stuff? Most importantly, though, I think we'd all like to see the new nurses' uniforms.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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