Category Archives: Government

No vaccination for teachers before schools go back – because it’s too much like hard work

The government has said it will not prioritise teachers (or police officers) in the next phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout because it will involve doing some work.

The government has been under pressure to give priority in phase two to key workers, such as teachers or police officers, irrespective of their age.

But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has stated it is better to stick to vaccination in order of age groups (oldest to youngest).

The JCVI said targeting occupational groups by going through employee lists would be more complex to deliver than simply running through a list of age groups.

It said this could slow down the vaccine programme, leaving some more vulnerable people, at higher risk unvaccinated for longer.

If schools go back, who will be more vulnerable than teachers? The really high risk groups have already had their jabs.

Bizarrely,

Professor Wei Shen Lim, the Covid chair for the JCVI, said the the goal of vaccinations was to stop people from dying.

We’ll see how that looks a few weeks after schools reopen on March 8, shall we?

It seems incredible, that pupils, parents and teachers will all be put at risk – not to mention all their families, friends and colleagues – because the people behind the vaccination programme can’t be bothered to compile the necessary lists.

Source: Under-50s Will Be Vaccinated Based On Age Not Occupation | HuffPost UK

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Kenneth Branagh to play Boris Johnson in Covid-19 drama. It’s expected to be a bit-part

Branagh as Johnson: the likeness is terrifying.

When I heard that Kenneth Branagh was performing as Boris Johnson in a drama, I thought he had started a new career as a puppeteer.

It turns out I was mistaken and Branagh is himself portraying Johnson – although (one hopes) under heavy make-up.

It’s for a Sky drama, This Sceptred Isle. One images the title is ironic. It covers the early days of the Covid-19 crisis in the UK.

As Johnson was hardly visible at that time, one may safely conclude that the role is a cameo.

This may be a matter of relief to Branagh (less time in the prosthetics) and to his friends and family (less time having to look at him ‘in character’).

I did run into difficulty finding an image of the actor in the role.

Was it this?

No… This?

Maybe not. Ah! Here it is:

Note that I am not alone in believing that the role will be brief.

Some of the other comments on the social media are similarly cutting:

(Emma Thompson was Branagh’s first wife. He left her to have an affair with Helena Bonham-Carter.)

But this makes the best point:

People have lost friends and loved ones to the virus, and Johnson is directly responsible for the vast majority of those deaths.

It is indeed in extremely poor taste that a drama is being made about it – unless that film exposes Johnson and his government to the harshest possible criticism for their miserable failure to cope with the situation. It is a failure that continues to the time of writing.

But I expect it will be another arse-kissing whitewash. Let’s see Ken Loach do a version of this story instead.

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Will Sunak tax you cash you don’t owe, to pay a Covid-19 bill that doesn’t exist?

Rishi Sunak: now his nervous look may be attributed to the possibility that he will lie to us next week, demanding we pay back £300 billion that the Tories used to cover the cost of the Coronavirus when there is absolutely no need to do anything of the kind. The government created the money that was used to pay for the crisis.

Pay special attention to Rishi Sunak’s spring Budget speech next week because he will probably try to steal money from you.

It is likely Sunak will introduce measures that he claims are needed in order to pay back the £300 billion (roughly) cost of everything the Tory government has done to keep the UK running during the Covid-19 crisis.

He will be lying if he does. No such measures are needed.

You see, the money used to pay for Covid-19 was created by the government. It wasn’t borrowed and there is therefore no need to pay it back.

Watch Richard Murphy’s explanation here and you should get the idea:

What strikes This Writer as particularly evil is the implication that Sunak may impose taxes on us, in order to perpetuate a myth that the Tories have spun since 2009: that austerity is necessary.

It isn’t. It never was.

And this means that all the deaths that have been driven by Tory austerity policies were unnecessary; they were deliberately planned by Conservatives from David Cameron’s era onwards and this means that Cameron and those Tories who conspired with him (Iain Duncan Smith springs particularly to mind) should be brought to account for it.

But I doubt they will.

Public opinion is largely led by the mass media, who are currently owned by the Conservatives. They’re hardly likely to do anything that endangers them.

And that means you are unlikely to hear on the BBC any suggestion that we don’t owe anything for Covid-19.

But you don’t. And now you know this, you need to tell everybody around you.

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Schoolkids know the score: reopening all schools in England will infect the nation with Covid-19

“Perfectly safe”: this photo was taken on a school staircase after Boris Johnson ruled that it was “perfectly safe” for children to go back there in September – no social distancing, no PPE… not safe at all. Now he is planning to do it all again, with infection rates nearly seven times higher than when this image was made.

Boris Johnson loves announcing big plans without giving us the facts and figures behind them, and he has done it again with school reopening.

How humiliating for him that it has been up to school pupil Jamal Elaheebocus to explain that when schools were recklessly reopened in June last year, one in 1,100 people were infected with Covid-19. When they were recklessly reopened in September, this had fallen to one in 2,000.

In mid-February, the infection rate was one in 115 people. It is hoped this will have fallen to one in 300 but that is nearly seven times more than in September last year – and look how that turned out!

Jamal reminds us of a few more uncomfortable truths:

the prevalence of the virus in communities remains high. As Johnson himself admitted on January 4, schools are vectors of transmission.

To any of us working or studying in schools, the reasons why schools are hotspots for infection are obvious.

Fitting thirty students and a teacher in a classroom makes social distancing impossible, overcrowded buildings means that several year groups who are separate bubbles then mix together.

Students are then packed on buses and trains to get home, spreading infection not only among themselves but among the wider public as well.

The latest data from Imperial’s React programme showed that 5 to 12 year olds had the second highest infection rate of any age group. Given this, there is no doubt that schools will increase the infection rate again. The difference this time is that infection rates will be much higher.

While the vaccine may help limit the rise in infection to an extent, infection rates will undoubtedly increase. This is a reckless gamble just to get children into schools for three weeks before Easter holidays.

Yes.

So why is Johnson doing it?

This was inevitable, thanks to the pressure from the mainstream media and Keir Starmer.

How low Labour has sunk! Its leader is now counted among those responsible for inflicting an inevitable increase in Covid-19 infections on the UK – yet again. People will die because Starmer did this.

Yes, some of the arguments in favour of re-opening schools have influence – but only because prolonged closures have placed pupils at the mercy of the Tories’ neoliberal system – one that Starmer wholeheartedly supports.

The combined incompetence of the government and the cruelty of the neoliberal system has meant many kids have missed out on free school meals, families are struggling to cope in overcrowded homes and kids have not been able to access online learning because of lack of access to a laptop or good broadband.

Lockdown has been made so difficult for school pupils because of the government’s decision to continue to punish the poorest in society. It is a disgrace that the Tories and the right-wing media are attempting to manipulate the stress and hardship and use it to back up their reckless campaign to open up society and let the virus run rampage.

It is a disgrace.

And the Tories’ adherence to the neoliberal system that demands minimal investment for maximum return (to the very, very rich) means that the reopening will be done on the cheap.

Jamal proposes a series of measures to make schools safe – or at least safer. None of them have been supported – or even mentioned – by Boris Johnson because they cost money.

Teachers should be prioritised for the vaccine since they will be mixing with such a large number of people. This should have been done months ago and as more and more of the clinically vulnerable and elderly are vaccinated, there is no reason not to now prioritise teachers.

There should also be plans to repurpose public buildings as classrooms or put money into new buildings on school sites to facilitate social distancing in classrooms and allow for proper separation of year group bubbles.

Supply teachers and newly-qualified teachers who are not employed can be utilised to allow for smaller class sizes and more social distancing.

The vaccine is not the cure-all that Johnson and his cronies have claimed. It wont protect you as fully as you think, and it won’t protect as many people as you think.

And, of course, it has only been applied to a minority of the population – on a first-dose basis.

How sad that Johnson is so keen to prolong the UK’s Covid-19 agony, just to please his backbenchers, the baying hounds of the mass media… and Keir Starmer.

Source: A school student speaks: 8 March ‘big bang’ reopening just isn’t safe – Counterfire

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Matt Hancock is gaslighting not only nurses, but ALL of us, over PPE

Smug little liar: when Matt Hancock opens his mouth to make a claim,experience shows it will probably be wrong.

Our nurses are right and Matt Hancock is a liar. He would resign if he had an ounce of integrity but of course he doesn’t, so he won’t.

He has said he would not resign after a High Court judge ruled he was responsible for unlawful delays in revealing how billions of pounds were spent on gowns, masks and other protective equipment at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge: “My officials, with my full support, spent every waking hour buying PPE so that, even though we came close, we never actually ran out of PPE in this country.

“People can make up their own view about whether I should have told my team to stop buying PPE or whether I was right to buy the PPE and get it to the front line.

“And they did that even though the paperwork got delayed by, on average, just over a fortnight.”

Nurses don’t have to make up their own minds. They have the facts. They have experienced the deaths of their colleagues, who were exposed to Covid-19 needlessly because Hancock did not supply them with PPE.

In fact, as I stated earlier, not only did the Johnson government give away the PPE it had, it later wasted millions – if not billions – giving contracts to useless Tory cronies who either couldn’t supply the goods or provided equipment that could not be used.

That will be the buying that Hancock mentioned to Ms Ridge, then?

I also mentioned the fact that nurses caught the virus because they didn’t have proper PPE:

“According to Metro,

Three nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves with clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.

“I wrote: ‘One of them had said they were all “terrified” that this might happen, knowing that colleagues had caught the disease from patients, and having treated those colleagues. They had seen what the illness does… We know what the government that failed them is going to give them: Platitudes.’

“How right I was.”

Now, responding to Hancock’s comments, community nurse Angela Roberts recalled the incident when she asked:

Why were nurses forced to use bloody bin bags? Out-of-date masks?

She continued:

Why was PPE downgraded for NHS staff?

‘Why was there no PPE for care homes and community nurses except for plastic pinnies?

And Anthony Johnson, lead organiser for Nurses United, said:

He thinks that he can try to gaslight millions of health and social care workers who had to re-use PPE.

If so, he thinks wrong.

But what difference will it make if there are no consequences for his actions?

Source: Hancock is gaslighting us over PPE, say nurses | Metro

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GP surgeries are being privatised by the Tories. Do you really want your healthcare dictated by profit?


Doctors’ surgeries across the UK are being bought up and run for profit by private firms – including at least one from the United States.

American health insurance giant Centene has just taken over 49 NHS GP practices. In the last few years, they have bought NHS surgeries in Nottingham, Basingstoke, Milton Keynes, and Leeds. Yours could be next.

Centene appears to be a “bad actor” too – described by the Daily Mail as “profit greedy”.

In 2018, the company took control of a group of surgeries in Essex, including the historic Osler House surgery, founded in 1955. Soon after, Osler House was closed, leaving thousands of residents without a GP within 40 minutes’ drive from their house.

Healthcare provision doesn’t matter to them, you see. Their only concern is their profit.

In the US, Centene has been sued by thousands of people who bought insurance from them. Court papers showed that those people had “difficulty finding — in many cases cannot find — medical providers”.

Campaigning group We Own It said: “Your own local GP surgery or the local GP surgery your friends and family depend on may not be affected today. But if this takeover goes ahead, your GP surgery is not safe.

“Our local Clinical Commissioning Groups – the bodies that make local healthcare decisions in every area – can stop this.”

The group is urging you to sign a petition calling for an end to Boris Johnson’s privatisation of GP services, and for you to urge your family, friends and colleagues to sign it too. Will you?

The petition is here.

The choice is yours.

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Hancock LIED when he said there was never a national PPE shortage. Here’s the evidence. Now demand his resignation

Yet again: the PPE used in UK hospitals at the start of the Covid crisis is pictured bottom right. The infographic was made when the UK had hardly any personal protective equipment – but now Matt Hancock is trying to save his job by claiming there was never any shortage.

The Death Health Secretary is trying to rewrite history:

Did you hear him?

One minute and 40 seconds in: “But there wasn’t a national shortage [of personal protective equipment – PPE] at any point.”

That is simply untrue.

Here he is in April last year, saying he’d love to wave a magic wand to resolve PPE shortages:

The Tory government of the day was told in 2016/17, after Operation Cygnus, that the UK’s health service would be unable to cope with a pandemic virus infection without plentiful supplies of protective equipment for health workers… and decided that such an investment was too expensive.

This led to a situation in March 2020 when an NHS procurement chief, Alan Hoskins tweeted: “What a day, no gowns NHS Supply Chain. Rang every number escalated to NHS England, just got message back — no stock, can’t help, can send you a PPE pack. Losing the will to live, god help us all.”

The tweet was subsequently deleted, possibly under duress as even then the Tory government was trying to hide the facts. As This Writer put it on April 3 last year: “it seems doctors have been warned not to make any comments about shortages on social media, as well as avoiding talking to journalists, and NHS England has taken over media operations for many hospitals and health trusts in order to ensure that they all stay “on message”.”

On April 17 I brought public attention to the plight of nurses who had been forced to wear bin bags instead of proper protection. According to Metro,

Three nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves with clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.

I wrote: “One of them had said they were all “terrified” that this might happen, knowing that colleagues had caught the disease from patients, and having treated those colleagues. They had seen what the illness does… We know what the government that failed them is going to give them: Platitudes.”

How right I was.

On April 19 I quoted a Sunday Times piece on the Johnson government’s PPE failures that showed he had sent 278,800 items of protective kit to China in February – immediately before the UK had needed it:

Downing Street admitted on February 24 — just five days before NHS chiefs warned a lack of PPE left the health service facing a “nightmare” — that the UK government had supplied 1,800 pairs of goggles and 43,000 disposable gloves, 194,000 sanitising wipes, 37,500 medical gowns and 2,500 face masks to China.

Don’t worry – it seems we may be getting some of it back. It’s just that the government isn’t sure, having lost £15 billion worth of PPE, some of which it has bought (back?) from other countries including China:

The government is not sure where billions of pounds worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) is located, the head of the National Audit Office has disclosed.

Gareth Davies, the comptroller and auditor general, said outside consultants had been brought into Whitehall to find all equipment, which is stored at different sites around the country, or is in transit from abroad.

Under questioning from the public accounts committee, Davies said: “We have been working closely with the DoH. It has commissioned consultants to advise it on first of all understanding where all the PPE that has been bought actually is. It sounds like a strange question but it is a really big issue because it is not all standing neatly in an NHS store somewhere.

“We have amounts in containers, in storage around the country, there’s some on the docks and there is some en route somewhere from China.”

On April 18 last year, I quoted a Mirror report that

NHS doctors and nurses will be asked to treat patients infected with coronavirus without full-length gowns – or re-use the ones they have, it has emerged tonight.

The Government has been under fire for weeks over the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), with some frontline staff warning that they have had to work in situations where they feel unsafe.

Public Health England guidelines currently state that full-length waterproof surgical gowns should by worn by medical workers to stop Covid-19 spreading into someone’s mouth or nose.

However, there has now been a U-turn advising staff to wear a flimsy plastic apron when gowns run out or not wear one at all

And Matt Hancock has the cheek to tell us now that there was never a shortage.

Here’s a tweet about PPE availability in one hospital on April 19:

The following day we learned a much-touted delivery of PPE from Turkey would last just three days. It had been previously reported that Boris Johnson had refused to join an EU scheme to provide PPE where it was needed (see the Peter Stefanovic tweet towards the top of this article).

On April 24 we found

The UK’s stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in a pandemic…  has been outsourced to a private company, Movianto, which was sold two weeks ago for $133m (£107m) by its owner, a large US healthcare group.

Two days later the Turkish shipment of PPE arrived – and proved to be just one-twelfth of the expected amount.

Later in the Covid crisis we learned that the Tories were using the emergency procurement system which bypasses the competitive tendering process and allows the government to purchase items and services direct from chosen firms, was being abused.

Tories were giving cash to their cronies in return for equipment that simply wasn’t fit to be used.

The classic example is that of Board of Trade president (and cheese queen) Liz Truss, who spent £150 million of your money on 50 million face masks for the NHS that couldn’t be used.

She had been approached for the contract by one of her long-standing friends and advisors, Andrew Mills. Oh, and apparently it was sourced through a tax haven so this guy can keep all the money.

Mills was subsequently removed from his advisory position. But Truss didn’t go anywhere.

Tory ministers “learned the lessons” from this mistake by handing a further £180 million to their cronies for PPE.

Did we get it? Doubtful.

All the way down the line the Tories have failed us.

They gave away our PPE when we needed it.

They failed to join an international scheme to provide it where it was needed.

They failed to source it themselves.

They gave money to their friends and cronies who had no experience in providing PPE, and received trash in return.

As a result, health service professionals caught Covid-19. Many of them died.

And Matt Hancock, who is on video record from last year, saying he wished he could wave a magic wand and eliminate the PPE shortage, is now telling us he shouldn’t have to resign for breaking the law by hiding contract details – because he made sure there was never a PPE shortage.

He is a LIAR.

He should resign NOW.

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Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown ignores the science YET AGAIN and the death toll could be huge

Mess: Johnson’s plan to ease lockdown is as muddled as his hair. Even with 80 per cent vaccine efficacy, half the population will still be vulnerable to infection.

Scientists have warned that Boris Johnson’s plan to end lockdown restrictions will cause a huge increase in Covid-19 hospitalisations – even in the most optimistic scenarios.

So much for “following the science”, eh?

It seems that

The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) [said] tens of thousands more people can be expected to die from Covid because vaccines will not provide complete protection against the disease, and not everyone will have the jabs.

All scenarios led to a resurgence of cases because so many vulnerable people remained unprotected, even with high vaccine coverage.

Johnson’s plan is a bespoke model that does not correspond with any of the SAGE scenarios – but its closest equivalent, scenario three, predicts a resurgence of Covid-19 in the UK around September.

At yesterday’s press briefing on the government’s plans, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who is said to have shares in a pharmaceutical company that was working on a vaccine, warned that even with 80 per cent efficacy, half the population would still be at risk from the disease.

He said a cautious step-by-step process, with pauses of four or five weeks between each to monitor the impact, was the right way to go.

It seems strange, then, that the Johnson plan will reopen all English schools on March 8.

Scientific modellers predict that this will drive the infection rate up by between 10 and 50 per cent – negating the reductions of the current lockdown and vaccinations.

They said a limited reopening, possibly starting with primary schools, was a far better option and would allow scientists to assess the impact on infections within the community.

Johnson has ignored this good advice and intends to steamroll his easements through – as he did last year.

We all know how that turned out. Why are you letting him do it to you again?

Source: Demand from Tory MPs to scrap Covid rules ‘could bring huge death toll’ | Politics | The Guardian

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£2.7m TV studio shows Johnson hasn’t only been wasting cash on Covid-19

Press briefing: Johnson spent millions of pounds of your money on a TV studio he hasn’t used once, despite an apparently endless succession of press briefings and ministerial broadcasts.

Sometimes the news is focused so heavily on the Coronavirus that it’s easy to forget that Boris Johnson’s government is incompetent in every other way, too.

Case in point: he spent £2.7 million on a television studio that has never been used.

Worse, there are doubts that it ever will be, as attitudes have changed since your money was used to pay for it.

I’d say the money could have been spent on personal protective equipment but I am reminded that Johnson’s government has spent £15 billion on PPE – and then lost the lot.

This is incompetence on a historic scale.

The TV studio was part of Johnson’s infatuation with the presidential system in the United States:

The room is believed to have been modelled on the press room in the West Wing at the White House in Washington.

It was intended to be used for on-camera briefings from press secretaries and ministers.

The plans for the briefings had to be delayed due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions preventing journalists from gathering.

But with the plans on hold, it isn’t clear when they may be back on the table.

They may never be revived. This studio – worth a fortune – may remain unused for years to come, until somebody remembers it and finds a better use for the space.

In the meantime it stands as a metaphor for the contents of our prime minister’s skull:

Dark and empty.

Source: Boris Johnson ‘spent £2,700,000 on a TV studio which hasn’t been used’ | Metro News

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Starmer’s attitude to schools reminds us his only purpose is to block opposition to the Tories

Suck up: Johnson can keep smiling because he’s got little blue boy Keir Starmer backing him from the Labour Parliamentary benches.

Many may consider that Keir Starmer is a traitor to the people of the UK after his latest display of support for the government he is supposed to oppose.

Starmer has stated – publicly, for all to hear – that he supports Boris Johnson’s decision to reopen all English schools and damn the science.

That means he has set himself against the education-based organisations that have called for a phased reopening of schools – and only if it is supported by scientific evidence.

He thinks he knows better than the experts.

He said he did not support mooted industrial action over safety concerns, after nine teaching unions warned it would be “reckless” to open schools at all once on 8 March.

Sir Keir expressed concerns that children were falling behind, having previously urged the government to open schools as quickly as possible.

Asked whether teachers could be drafted in during the summer to help children catch up, he said: “That may be possible.

“Again, schools staff have been working around the clock. Remember, this time last year they were preparing to work through the Easter break and they’ll probably end up doing that again.

“So they do need a break. There needs to be a long-term plan to catch-up because the attainment gap has got bigger over this pandemic – it was bad enough before it.

“We need a long-term plan for catch-up, but we do need to give credit to teachers and school staff. We need to think of how we do catch-up and close the attainment gap.”

Will Starmer be paying school staff for the extra hours they’ll be asked to work? Will he be compensating them for the holiday time they will lose?

Just because schools haven’t been open, that doesn’t mean staff have not been working, remember!

And his determination to ignore warnings by scientists puts him on the same level as Michael Gove, who famously extolled the virtues of ignorance in the run-up to Brexit (and now we can all see how that is turning out).

Starmer is not a Labour politician in any meaningful way.

He is an infiltrator in the Labour Party, along with all those who support him (including paid staff; some of us knew that from the backstabbing that happened during the so-called “anti-Semitism” witch-hunt when Jeremy Corbyn was leader).

His purpose seems clear: to prevent Her Majesty’s Opposition from being run by anybody who might ever oppose the Tories.

And he is succeeding.

Who could possibly support a Labour Party that does nothing but suck up to the worst prime minister, and the worst government, the UK has ever had.

Source: Keir Starmer opposes strike action by teachers and says they may have to work during holidays | The Independent

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