Category Archives: Social care

Law to put private companies at the centre of the NHS passes second reading. Where are the news reports?

Backhander: the new Health and Care Bill will apparently allow private companies to take your tax money – intended to support the NHS – and then use “commercial confidentiality” laws to hide how they spend it.

What a blackout.

The Health and Care Bill – a planned law by the Conservative government that aims to put private, profit-making businesses at the centre of the English NHS – passed by a huge majority just after 7pm today (July 14).

At the time of writing – more than two and a half hours later – I found only one news report about it, in Scottish website The National.

Where’s your report, BBC? Where’s yours, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News? How about you, The GuardianThe Mirror? Anyone else at all?

During the debate, health minister Edward Argar admitted that the Bill would lead to increased private influence in the NHS – but tried to sugar-coat it.

“We are determined to embrace innovative potential wherever we find it,” he said.

Let’s consider what he calls “innovative potential”:

The Bill will break the NHS in England into 42 separate ‘Integrated Care Systems’ (ICS), each with its own – tight – budget that could lead to cuts in care.

These new organisations would be open to the private sector – and the removal of competitive tendering means contracts could be handed straight to asset-stripping profiteers.

Already, 200 firms are connected to the new ICS structure, including at least 30 US-based health insurance companies.

Companies could be given access to confidential patient information, more patient care will be given by less qualified staff who are cheaper, and non-urgent referrals to hospital delayed or refused because of pressure to make savings.

A drive towards cash-saving digital services means face-to-face GP appointments may end.

The long-awaited overhaul of the care system may end up being a demand on already-overworked family carers to take on more unpaid work as unprofitable community services are stripped away altogether.

National agreements on pay, terms and conditions for NHS staff may be swept away with employees ordered to work wherever private-sector employers find it easiest to make a profit – undermining team working, union organisation and continuity of care.

The much-anticipated return of responsibility to the Secretary of State means a politician will be able to make devastating decisions about the NHS without any democratic accountability.

The Health Secretary will be able to deregulate jobs – offering them to candidates who don’t have the right qualifications but are available for the right price, risking harm to patients and interfering with professional judgement and staff development.

The NHS will be exempt from the Public Contract Regulations 2015, meaning it will be impossible to reject bids for contracts on the grounds of non-compliance with environmental, social, or labour laws guaranteeing Freedom of Association and the Right to Strike, or on the basis of a bidder’s previous history.

The Health Secretary will also impose local service reconfigurations, weakening or abolishing the right and power local authorities currently have to scrutinise significant health changes.

The Bill will not treat a single extra patient, nor will it recruit even one more nurse.

That is exactly what I told my Conservative MP, Fay Jones, when I wrote asking her to speak against the Bill, and to vote against it. Of course, she did neither. She’s a Tory drone.

Fortunately, some others had the courage to stand up for their constituents who would be affected (including those in Scotland and Wales, of course).

Dr Philippa Whitford, SNP health spokesperson, said the Bill could mean private companies will be able to take public cash and not have to publish accounts of how it is used.

“It is hard to see this as anything other than a blatant conflict of interest,” she said. “Private companies hide behind commercial confidentiality and don’t publish accounts of how they spend public money.”

Labour’s Zarah Sultana said the Bill “will put on steroids the cronyism we’ve seen in this pandemic, where Tory mates and donors having handed billions of pounds in dodgy Covid Government contracts, and it will implement a healthcare model that incentivises cuts and closures, rationing funding to health boards. This dangerous Bill is another step to privatisation.”

But they were rare voices of reason among the bleating of almost 360 Tory sheep.

A Labour amendment to deny the Bill its second reading was voted down by 359 votes to 218, and the Bill passed to the committee stage of the legislative process by 356 votes to 219.

It seems Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid want to pass this Bill into law before the end of the current Parliamentary session on July 22. With this kind of complicity from their party faithful on the Green Benches, they seem certain to succeed.

And with an apparent news blackout on coverage of this crisis for publicly-provided health care, it seems the NHS will pass into the hands of the asset strippers before most of us even know it could.

Source: Health and Care Bill: NHS ‘takeover’ legislation passes second reading | The National

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Inquest hears nursing home resident died ‘dehydrated and malnourished’

Inquest: Dorothea Hale.

This not only raises questions about social care in the UK, but also about the deaths of others for whom the authorities have a duty of care.

Dorothea Hale, it is alleged, suffered neglect at a Welsh nursing home where she had been admitted after suffering two strokes that left her entirely paralysed down one side of her body.

In a stay of around four months, she developed dehydration, malnourishment and pressure sores before being transferred to hospital due to fast-declining health, where she died, aged 75.

The inquest is ongoing so we have yet to hear the coroner’s verdict on the cause of her death.

It featured in Operation Jasmine, a police investigation into the neglect of elderly residents at several care homes in south Wales.

That inquiry lasted nearly a decade and cost £11.6 million, with detectives examining 63 deaths potentially caused or abetted by inadequate healthcare treatment.

The suggestion of failures in social care indicate that reform is desperately needed – and has indeed been promised by successive Tory governments for many years, although we have yet to hear a single policy proposal.

Here’s my question:

If 63 deaths in social care can lead to a lengthy – and costly – inquiry, why do 150 deaths in the benefit system not merit the same treatment?

Source: Welsh nursing home resident ‘died after becoming dehydrated and malnourished’ | The Independent

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Nothing for you if you’re sick, disabled, at school or in care: reaction to the Tory budget

They all do this: but the way Rishi Sunak held the red box indicated there wasn’t much in it. And there wasn’t.

Rishi Sunak’s budget has shown he is a diehard Tory, with concessions for businesses while those of us in need can go whistle.

He has claimed his hands are tied by huge Covid-19-related debts – but we all know that he has already paid them off, by the simple means of creating the money needed to do so.

And his big plans for the future were pathetic: new ‘free ports’ that have always been a bad idea, and an investment bank to replace the one a previous Tory government sold off a few years ago.

We are ruled by intellectual pygmies – and that is being harsh on the pygmies.

I watched the budget speech and commentated on it on Twitter, so I can provide a first-hand account of the announcements – but first, I’d like to go straight to what wasn’t announced, with comments from people who were reading at the time:

So the people who did all the hard work during the Covid-19 crisis will receive no reward for their sacrifices at all – even though many of them sacrificed their lives, contracting the virus and dying because Matt Hancock couldn’t be bothered to supply proper personal protective equipment (PPE) at the right time.

However:

People with disabilities who did not receive the £20 benefit uplift because they are on so-called “legacy” benefits will still receive nothing more, even though the uplift will remain in place until September. After then, it seems people who lost their jobs because of Covid-19 will fall over a so-called “cliff edge”, with the uplift cancelled, forcing them to live on much less.

The Tories have made a major issue of education in the crisis, demanding that our children must go back to school as soon as possible in order to catch up on what they have missed – but Rishi Sunak has provided no extra facilities for this in his budget. It seems it was all talk and – in fact – the plan is to reopen a major vector for transmission of Covid and hope that the increase in infections – and deaths – won’t be noticed amid the falling numbers triggered by the vaccination programme.

And after years of promising to fix problems in the social care system – that became hugely pronounced when 30,000 people died in care homes because of Tory stupidity – Sunak is breaking that promise by offering nothing.

Meanwhile, those who profited hugely from the pandemic – either by being perfectly situated to continue selling goods to people in lockdown or by receiving government Covid-related contracts to provide services at hugely-inflated costs (many of which were not actually provided because the contractors were not qualified to do so) are to get off scot-free because Sunak has backed away from calls to impose a wealth tax.

So, what has he done?

Well, he carped on a lot about borrowing a huge amount of money to pay for Covid-19. That was a stream of lies from start to finish, as I pointed out:

So we were led to expect tax hikes a-go-go. But this didn’t happen:

The refers to income tax, National Insurance and VAT. However – and this is indeed a ‘however’:

This is the amount you earn before you start paying tax, or before you start paying it at a higher rate. Because these thresholds are frozen, it seems more people will pay at a higher rate due to wage inflation, so there will be a de facto increase in taxes. But this depends on people receiving pay rises to cover their costs and Tory policy over the last 11 years has been to discourage that – it’s the reason real take-home pay has fallen by thousands of pounds per year since 2010.

This was the only increase in taxation, and it is only on a tax on profits. So firms that pay corporation tax can avoid it by ensuring that they make no profit from 2023. The best way to do that is to invest in infrastructure and wages (by employing more people, perhaps).

It would be wrong to say that Sunak’s budget does nothing for ordinary people – but it’s all based around existing Covid-related schemes:

Sunak went on to announce plans for government investment. The main points were:

But “free ports” are not new, nor are they likely to help:

Here’s an interesting point:

Mr McDonnell himself promptly answered it:

There was also some muttering about policies that give a nod to the environment but if you blinked, you missed them – and This Writer blinked. They certainly don’t constitute a “Green Industrial Revolution”!

As Tory budgets go, this is not the disaster for working-class people that it could have been – although the main hits have been offset, so it may be a few months or years until we can know the effects for sure.

The lack of any hard taxes or austerity measures suggests a tacit admission that Covid-19 really is bought and paid-for, and there won’t be any real need to pay for it again.

So This Writer is left with a huge sense of anticlimax. I was expecting to be fearful after today; instead I feel let down.

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Covid-related deaths in care homes rise 46% in a week – after Tories promised to protect residents

Visiting time: guidance for visiting relatives in care homes, published a few months ago, suggesting putting them behind glass, in order to conform with social distancing rules.

What happened?

The Tories were humiliated over care home deaths, way back in the spring of last year, after 30,000 people were said to have died because of government idiocy.

The Tories had ruled that Covid-19 patients from care homes should not stay in hospital but should be returned to their places of residence – most of which didn’t have any protective facilities so they were sent to infect their friends and neighbours.

And the Tories failed to order that staff who usually move between homes should stop, so their employers didn’t either. That meant staff were catching the disease in one home and then transmitting it to others as they did their rounds.

Now we’re being told the rise is due to the virus having mutated into a more virulent form – but it has to be carried in by someone. I wonder who.

Deaths in care homes in England have hit the highest level since mid-May, according to the latest official figures, which revealed a 46% jump in coronavirus-related deaths in the last week as the more transmissible variant of Covid-19 breaches care homes’ defences.

In the week to last Friday, 1,260 deaths in care homes involving Covid-19 were reported to the Care Quality Commission, a sharp jump from 824 and 661 in the previous two weeks. The weekly death toll in care homes had fallen to well below 100 in early October.

Staff say guidelines have been followed to the letter, which suggests to me that they need to be revised; they don’t work.

No wonder insurers have stopped providing coverage for those homes that have offered to look after discharged Covid patients – to prevent the possibility of infection at other locations.

Source: Covid-related deaths in care homes in England jump by 46% | World news | The Guardian

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Care home residents told they can’t have vaccine unless they get on a bus

Frail residents of care homes across the UK are being told they can’t have the new Covid-19 vaccine unless they get on a bus to the hospitals where the jabs are being administered.

Apparently storage conditions mean they can’t have the injections in their care homes – but their physical condition means they can’t take the trip to hospital either.

Isn’t this going to cause yet another Covid care home scandal?

Covid vaccine plans for frail care home residents were in chaos tonight after they were told: Get on the bus.

The Government says they will have to travel to hospital hubs for the jab but angry care bosses said: “There’s no way they can do that.”

Care homes fear vaccines won’t be delivered to them until next year despite Government promises they would be a priority.

The vaccine must be transported at minus 70C, and can only be kept outside ultra-cold storage for a few days.

This means 50 hospital hubs in England will receive the first batch before GPs start delivering the vaccine in the community from December 14.

The complex logistical issues mean there are fears some of the most vulnerable in care homes will miss out if they can’t be safely taken to hospital.

Yet again, the Tories fail to think out their stratagy properly.

Yet again, it seems the most vulnerable will pay the price for bull-in-a-china-shop Boris Johnson’s stupidity.

Source: Covid vaccine plans for care home in chaos after frail residents told to ‘get on bus’ – Mirror Online

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Elderly man’s health failed and he died after council sent his wife to a care home

When care isn’t so caring: one partner was taken into a home and the health of the other deteriorated until he died. Why didn’t the council consider this? Or was it just a financial consideration?

In these days of Covid-19, one might be forgiven for thinking this gentleman was worrying himself sick that his wife would catch the virus and die.

But it is also a recognised phenomenon that if a couple who have been together for many years are split up, most commonly because one of them dies, then the remaining partner’s health often suffers – possibly to death.

So This Writer is led to question why the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead didn’t take this into account when it split up the couple in this story. Was it just a question of money – that it was cheaper to split this couple, and never mind of one of them died? And what happened to the house where the deceased gentleman had been living?

An elderly couple of 59 years were split up with little regard for their welfare by Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The couple were separated when the wife was discharged to a care home after leaving hospital.

The husband was left to live in the family home with the help of care workers, but quickly deteriorated.

He became very low, did not eat or drink properly and lost weight. He stopped going out and instead spent a lot of time in his bed.

When the family complained a few days later the council agreed to take more steps to help the man visit his wife, but he passed away just a few weeks after.

A report by the Ombudsman found the council did not do enough to consider the man’s situation when his wife left hospital, despite his family telling it he would suffer at home.

Windsor and Maidenhead Council has a history of ill-treating people. Back in 2018, it tried to get police to arrest homeless people under the Vagrancy Act so they wouldn’t be on the streets during the Royal Wedding.

Then it imposed a fine on aggressive or proactive begging, requests for money, leaving bedding and belongings in a public area and other behaviour associated with homelessness – totalling an unaffordable £1,000.

Needless to say, it is a Conservative-run authority.

Source: Elderly man suffers after council splits him from his wife

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Is Matt Hancock denying care homes Covid-19 tests to deliberately harm residents?

Matt Hancock: he’s all talk and no help.

It seems Matt Hancock doesn’t think care home residents have suffered enough.

Hancock and the Tory government promised regular Covid-19 testing in all UK care homes on June 8.

The testing was considered necessary because residents’ health had been deteriorating after lockdown restrictions meant their relatives were not allowed to visit.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said the government had promised weekly testing for staff, and for residents every 28 days.

But he described the process as having “fragmented”; some care providers had received kits that had never been collected for processing, and others were experiencing long delays due to lack of laboratory capacity.

That’s right – lack of capacity to run tests, at a time when Hancock and his flunkies are telling us they are running hundreds of thousands of tests a week. They’re lying.

And they’re discriminating against care home residents, purely because they are care home residents.

And it is harming the well-being of those residents.

If they were behaving in such a way towards people because of the colour of their skin, that would be racism. If because they were (for example) Jewish, it would be anti-Semitism.

It should be treated as a hate crime.

Source: UK care homes still denied Covid tests despite Hancock pledge, officials warn

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What will you say when they ask what you did in the class war?


I seem to have hit a nerve when I said the Tories are waging a class war on anyone who isn’t filthy rich.

In fact, two Vox Political articles touched on this class war – the first implied it, the second made it explicit.

Today I opened Twitter to discover those words all over the place:

I’m not claiming credit for calling a thing by its name – this is “multiple discovery”, “simultaneous invention”, “synchronicity” or, if you like, an expression of the “zeitgeist”. More and more people are simply coming to realise, understand and accept that it is the policy of the UK’s Conservative government to push them down unfairly.

That is what the decision – and it was a decision, deliberately made – to punish ‘A’ level pupils who weren’t from private schools was all about. Yes, Gavin Williamson and the other Tories are saying it was down to a mechanical system, an algorithm – but that algorithm was written by a human being who intended it to give an advantage to the children of very rich people.

In this way, the Tory class war has stolen your children’s futures and given them to the undeserving rich.

It’s what the decision  – and it was a decision, deliberately made – not to fight Covid-19 in any meaningful way was all about. Tens of thousands of people in care homes have died – your relatives, maybe – because Matt Hancock and the other Tories said people with Covid-19 who lived in those homes should be sent back to them – never mind the fact that they did not have isolation facilities and the virus would run through those places like wildfire and be transferred to others by part-time staff who worked in different homes run by the same – private – firm.

The Tories – and their private business collaborators – failed to source personal protective equipment, ventilators, tests and the facilities to carry out tests. The lockdown they imposed was half-hearted and failed to stop the progress of the disease. Now that they have lifted it, albeit with a few measures still in place, more people are contracting the virus again. So they have stopped reporting the daily number of infections.

And the Tories have rewarded their private business collaborators for their failures with hugely expensive contracts to continue failing us – all at the public expense. Serco’s test and trace contract has been renewed, even though we know it won’t stop any second wave (really just a resurgence of the first wave that was suppressed but never went away).

You won’t get justice against the Tories by the normal means available to civil society because the Tories have either corrupted them already or are in the process of doing so. Boris Johnson illegally terminated Parliament’s last session in the autumn of 2019 and what was the result? He called a general election, lied to us until he was purple in the face and was rewarded with an 80-seat Parliamentary majority.

Now he is using that power to ensure that the courts will not be able to stop any more of his corruption by planning a curb on judicial review of government activity. He is imposing a dictatorship – just as he told you he would, if you could have been bothered to read page 48 of his election manifesto.

The police won’t help. Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson and the others are all above the law – no matter what they do. Try reporting a cabinet minister for a crime and see how far you get. They’ll tell you they’re treating it seriously, bounce the accusation around a few different departments and then say there’s no evidence. I’ve been there.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died already because it is Tory policy to kill claimants of sickness or disability claimants, who they consider to be “useless eaters”. That’s why the newspapers have been full of reports showing people with long-term illnesses and disabilities starving to death.

They wanted your homes so they imposed the Bedroom Tax and took them away from you.

The list goes on and on.

And still, too many people think they are the best choice to run the UK – even though the economy is in its deepest recession ever, and Brexit means it may never recover. You will suffer – they won’t. They have been stockpiling your cash and will simply use it to sit out any unpleasantness in the future.

But I feel sure a tipping-point will come – a flashpoint. I wonder how much we will all have to lose before that happens. I’m guessing it’ll be pretty much everything.

By then, many people may think there is nothing they can do. I am reminded yet again of Martin Niemoller’s poem about how the Nazis came for different groups who received no help from anybody else until, by the time they come for the author, there was nobody even left for him to ask.

But I am reminded of another group who were put in a similar position. When I visited Bosnia in the 1990s, I was told how – when the tanks from other countries moved in – the people, who were weaponless, left their homes and went up into the hills. They came back at night, when they took weapons – and lives – from the soldiers who had taken everything from them. And slowly, they took back their land from their oppressors.

I can see that happening here in the future.

I would rather it didn’t.

But it will, if people of good conscience don’t wake up, get up and put up a fight.

Keir Starmer won’t do it. He agrees with the Tories. That’s why he’s busy turning the Labour Party into Tory Lite Mk II (New Labour was Mk I) and accusing anybody who disagrees with him of anti-Semitism.

If you don’t want this to fall into violence, then you need to think what else you can do.

The ‘A’ level fiasco creates opportunities. Already some further education institutions have said they will take students who were downgraded, on the basis of their predicted results. Some haven’t. Clearly we should take note of the side that each University, each college, takes. Those who do the right thing should be rewarded in whatever ways we can. Those who do not should be shunned – meaning not only that we should not even try to send our children there, but that we should reject their graduates when they seek employment with our businesses. We know they won’t be any damn good anyway.

And employers who turn down applicants on the basis of the Tory algorithm’s discredited results should also be named, so we can stop buying their products.

That’s the best – non-violent – response I can conceive on the spur of the moment, and these things need to start happening now.

We’d better get to it, if we don’t want to roll over and die. And yes, that means you.

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Covid lockdown seems to have been perfect opportunity for Tory cruelty to care home residents

Matt Hancock: he says care home residents are now getting good support, but resident’s representatives say his new guidance lacks clarity and leadership.

It seems people living in care homes were doomed, no matter what happened – the instant the Tories announced the Covid-19 lockdown.

We already know that the government condemned more than 20,000 people to death by sending people with the virus out of hospital and back to their homes, which did not have the facilities to treat them safely.

Now MPs have been told that the lockdown has had a brutal effect, even on healthy residents.

The isolation imposed on them by the Tories has had a devastating effect on their mental health.

They’ve lost weight, the ability to speak, and memory – meaning they aren’t able to recognise relatives after months in isolation.

They are losing the will to live, according to evidence given to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Coronavirus.

It seems the Tories imposed lockdown conditions that turned care homes into the equivalent of prisons, with each inmate – sorry, resident – treated as though they had been thrown into isolation cells.

No risk assessments were carried out to consider the effect this would have, as vital support networks including visits from relatives were cut off.

It seems Health Secretary Matt Hancock cried crocodile tears for the care home residents whose lives he has ruined.

He said new guidance had been published last month, allowing visits by relatives for the first time since the lockdown.

He said it was possible to “carefully and safely” allow visits to care homes, based on “local knowledge and circumstances” for each care home.

Relatives’ and residents’ representatives say these guidelines lack clarity and leadership.

The whole package seems emblematic of the Tory approach to the Covid-19 crisis: say one thing – do another.

Source: Care home residents facing prison-like conditions and ‘losing will to live’ since lockdown, MPs hear | The Independent

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‘Care’ minister who helped kill off 20,000 people is now shooing nurses out of the NHS

No pay rise for nurses: by keeping the payroll as low as possible, aren’t the Tories making the NHS more attractive to US corporate buyers?

Helen Whately is a vacuous, propaganda-spewing incompetent – in other words, she is typical of the UK’s current Tory government.

Not satisfied with having presided over the Covid-19 deaths of more than 20,000 care home residents in her role as minister for social care, she has now turned her sights on nurses.

In a car-crash breakfast interview, she tried to tell the nation that nurses don’t deserve a pay rise after all the good work they have done keeping people alive in spite of her own, and her colleagues’, incompetence – because they are locked into an unfair pay deal that was imposed on them three years ago.

Here’s Peter Stefanovic with video of her attempt to dissemble during the interview, interspersed with the shocking facts:

The difference between Whately’s words and the cold hard facts is more than a quarter of a nurse’s wages; she says they’ve had at least a six per cent pay rise since 2017 but in fact their wages have plummeted by a whopping 20 per cent.

This Site has already published the facts and you can see them for yourself here.

I said the lack of a pay rise suggests an attempt to keep NHS costs down to make the service attractive to US corporate buyers in a trade deal with Donald Trump.

The trouble is, it is also weakening the service – which is already short of 40,000 nurses – by encouraging staff to walk out and take higher-waged jobs elsewhere.

A huge part of the problem, I think, is that you can tell by Whately’s vacant expression that she actually believes the lies she has been told to speak.

One can only sympathise with the good people of Faversham and Mid Kent, who were clearly outvoted by similarly dimwitted Tory twits. That’s the only way anyone with any intelligence could have ended up with such a disgrace as their representative.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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