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Tory austerity cuts damaged our efforts to stop coronavirus, explains former public health chief

A former regional director of public health in England has explained how exactly austerity has hampered our reaction to coronavirus.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Dr Gabriel Scally pointed out that Tory cuts have in particular limited the number of people capable of undertaking contact tracing – a crucial way to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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“We don’t have the health service infrastructure at regional level,” Scally said.

“Local authorities have been greatly diminished. The local health teams have been greatly diminished.”

Scally added: “And environmental health officers who are greatly experienced in contact tracing and do it for food poisoning outbreaks and so on, their numbers have been diminished.”

As we all know, the Tories instituted harsh public sector cutbacks in the wake of the 2008 financial crash – something that many claim was merely an ideological project to shrink the size of the state.

Well, it seems that curtailing the role of the state can have serious repercussions, especially in terms of public health.

“The resilience has been stripped systematically out of the system,” Scally noted.

Remind us why the Tories are still in power, again.

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