I read with some bemusement L Cullen’s letter in last week’s Standard.

In response I would make two points. First, that to have a functioning democracy we must have effective opposition parties to hold the Government to account.

Second, that we are at an early stage in this pandemic and we need to learn the lessons now – we cannot afford to wait until the pandemic is over since to do so will lead to even more deaths.

It is also noticeable that the devolved Governments have performed better than the UK Government has in its role of overseeing the health of England.

The UK Government was slow to go into lockdown, not helped by the Prime Minister missing crucial Cobra meetings. Government policy has also been subject to almost instantaneous U- turns.

UK ministers have contradicted each other on numerous occasions. The messaging has therefore become mixed and muddled and has discredited the messages being given.

Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham and the lack of any action being taken against him led to a substantial loss of faith in the Government’s message.

The country needed a clear and comprehensive policy to deal with the pandemic, not just slogans.

Instead of using existing resources to ramp up testing, tracking and the procurement of PPE the Government has placed contracts without competition to companies who in many cases have little or no experience in the areas they have responsibility for.

The initial testing process was a complete disaster as test sites were not accessible to people who did not have their own transport and test results were taking up to eight days to be processed.

The tracking app was cancelled as the company employed ploughed a lone furrow without fully consulting the major technology companies – the Northern Ireland Assembly took the approach adopted by the Republic of Ireland and has a working tracking app.

All of this and other mismanagement meant that on August 3 the UK had the second highest number of deaths per capita from Covid-19 after Belgium and higher than the US and Brazil.

This is based on deaths recorded as being related to Covid-19. The higher figure of excess deaths compiled by the ONS would make the position even worse.

This should be a source of shame to us all.

We have suffered pandemics before, the last one being the Spanish Flu in 1919/20.

Since then we have had potential pandemics such as ebola which have been contained.

The Government could and should have learnt from events such as these and implemented the lessons learnt.

To sum up, we need to learn the lessons now and we need our politicians of all parties to challenge Government policy and to get it changed where necessary before we get further into the pandemic.

Martyn Monks

Station Road,