Tag Archives: health

Johnson and Hancock are jeopardising Covid recovery by prioritising useless ‘Test and Trace’ over hardworking NHS staff

At breaking point: the UK’s National Health Service. The Tory government could make it better by paying NHS staff what they’re worth – but Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock have spaffed billions on Dido Harding’s useless and lazy ‘Test and Trace’ white elephant instead.

It has been calculated that a one per cent pay rise for NHS staff will cost around £82 million per year, or 0.22 per cent of the £37 billion that has been spaffed on Test and Trace as run by Dido Harding.

The full 12.5 per cent pay rise for NHS staff would cost £1.025 billion – only 2.75 per cent of the spending on Test and Trace.

And Test and Trace has been useless. Employees notoriously spent their days doing nothing at all – and being paid £1,000 per day to do it, while NHS staff slaved in conditions that made them highly vulnerable to Covid-19 because the Tories couldn’t be bothered to secure PPE for them.

Many NHS staff are working overtime or using credit to afford essential bills, visiting food banks so they can eat, and struggling with both mental and physical health problems.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s attitude seems to be, “So what? I’ve offered you one per cent, which is more than you thought you were going to get!”

He and other Tories have made false claims that nurses have actually received far more, already, than they’re saying.

But this is nonsense. The fact that they cannot afford to survive is clear evidence that they are not paid fairly.

Stunningly, Death Health Secretary Matt Hancock has defended the one per cent pittance, saying it is

“what we think is affordable”

Could the UK have afforded the deaths of millions if those doctors, nurses and support staff had not been there to keep Covid victims alive? Of course not. Hancock was talking gibberish. He rarely does anything else.

This Site broke news of health professionals’ disgust at the lack of respect being shown to them on Thursday – before any of the mainstream news sites. At the time, strike action was being demanded by only one group – Nurses United UK.

Now strike calls are being taken up by the British Medical Association, Unite, the Royal Colleges of Nursing and Midwives and Unison.

And what if an NHS strike happens before Boris Johnson’s arbitrary deadline for reopening the UK economy – which is already looking shaky because health professionals are planning for another wave of Covid admissions in July?

All his plans will be dashed – because he decided to pay Dido Harding and her minions to sit on their fat backsides rather than supporting our hard-working NHS staff.

Source: NHS pay: More health unions join backlash against 1% pay rise – BBC News

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Nurses urged to strike after Sunak offered them nothing. But how can they?

Undervalued, underpaid, overstressed: nurses need a fair deal but they won’t get it unless they strike. How can they do that without harming patients?

It’s the classic dilemma for nurses: how can they campaign for fair pay and conditions when striking may harm NHS patients?

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak spat in the faces of nurses across the UK in his Budget speech yesterday (March 3), which did not even mention the National Health Service.

It was a deliberate insult to the healthcare workers who have suffered and sacrificed – some losing their lives – in the face of government failure to provide even the most basic protective equipment when it was needed.

It seems Tories think applause is all that nurses deserve. Meanwhile they are working overtime or using credit to be able to pay essential bills, and using food banks to be able to eat.

They have lost both their mental and physical health, struggling to come to terms with the horrors they have witnessed while trying to cope with Covid-19, underfunded, understaffed and underequipped by the Tories.

This is a national scandal.

Campaigning organisation Nurses United UK says health staff need to think seriously about strike action. Health unions have been demanding an immediate – restorative – pay rise of between 12.5 and 15 per cent.

That’s just to bring pay back up to the level that nurses have lost in the 11 years since the Tories took office.

The Tories, it seems, consider this demand to be “one for the fairies“.

But then, as Nurses United lead organiser Anthony Johnson pointed out – it must be better than giving billions to Tory donors in return for nothing at all:

This Government is weak – that is why they u-turn so often. They know that people are watching and demanding that rather than giving billions to their donors, they invest in the people of this country.

But we come back to the crux of the matter: if nurses strike, they won’t harm the Tory government – they’ll harm sick people who don’t deserve worse treatment.

Perhaps targeted strike action – to ruin Tory press junkets in hospitals or withdraw coverage for Tory projects – is the answer?

Source: Pay campaigner asks nurses to ‘seriously consider industrial action’ | NursingNotes

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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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You clapped NHS workers – now they face scummy ‘fire and rehire’ plan to worsen work conditions

There could not be a more striking example of the truism that a battle may have been won but the war continues.

Late last month, This Site celebrated British Airways’s decision to end ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.

Today I saw this, from Zarah Sultana – one of Labour’s remaining worthwhile MPs. I include the follow-up tweet for its relevance:

They were referring to a decision by a National Health Service hospital in Birmingham to fire its porters – unless they sign new contracts that put them on worse pay and conditions.

Around 140 workers, who are members of the Unison union, have been told that they must accept new, rotating shift patterns or face redundancy.

Heartlands is part of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, which is headed up by former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith.

The city’s eight Labour MPs have written to Smith condemning the firing and rehiring.

Rightly so. ‘Fire and rehire’ is one of the lowest employment practices permitted in the United Kingdom.

It is only permitted because the Conservative government allows it – and actively uses it in the NHS.

That’s the same Conservative government whose members hypocritically stood in the street and clapped NHS employees every Thursday for many weeks last year.

It seems Tory gratitude only lasts as long as a photo opportunity.

That’s how they can be beaten, of course. They hate bad publicity.

And this should be all over the headlines. Why isn’t it?

Is it because the Tory media are suppressing it?

Well, if you fancy a bit of homework, how about doing something to raise the profile of this issue, like asking your favourity newspaper, TV or radio channel where their coverage is?

Source: Heartlands hospital porters defy threat of the sack from bullying bosses

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Scandal of NHS dental patients told to ‘pay private fees’ or wait in pain in Covid crisis

Say “Aah!” But the scream is more likely to be from financial pain, or the pain of waiting for an appointment that disappears ever-further into the future.

The Canary is absolutely right to draw attention to this scandal. Mrs Mike tried to make an emergency appointment last month and the earliest she could get was the end of March.

Still, it could be worse…

Some NHS dental patients … face two-year waits for appointments, a watchdog has warned.

I haven’t seen a dentist for more than two years, since the local NHS practice lost one of its practitioners. I was told my appointment would be delayed and a few months later I was quietly removed from the books.

The nearest practices that might have vacancies for NHS patients are 50 miles to the north or south.

Of course, we could go private. Have you seen how much that would cost?

Healthwatch England was contacted by one patient who was offered a procedure for £1,700 which was £60 on the NHS.

It seems that, even if we survive the Covid-19 pandemic, our teeth may not.

The advice people are being given echoes a satirical sketch from The Day Today, back in the 1990s, warning people against seeking treatment from backstreet dentists.

Compare that with this:

Another patient was told to use a nail file to deal with a broken tooth, and others were advised to “buy dental repair kits and treat themselves”.

This is the culmination of decades in which successive UK governments have neglected our dental health.

Profiteers have ensured that it is not worthwhile to run a dental practice on the NHS. It is far more lucrative to go private, and to hell with the teeth of people who can’t pay.

Oh, and of course it is not profitable to work in rural areas; the big bucks are in the cities so, while dentists might start out in small towns like mine in Mid Wales, they clear off to urban areas as soon as they can.

The Covid crisis has just brought these facts into sharp focus.

And what do you think will be done about it, once the virus has died down?

I’ll give you a clue: nothing.

As long as dentistry remains a gravy train, it will be denied to people outside the cities, who don’t have a ton of spare cash to throw around.

Or you could demand change now. You should – because even if you’re in a good position now, there’s no guarantee that you always will be.

Source: NHS dental patients told to ‘pay private fees’ if they want treatment | The Canary

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Johnson government admits Cameron’s NHS ‘reforms’ were wrong. But what will replace them?

Andrew Lansley spent years planning ways to take healthcare away from people who need it, and David Cameron allowed him to put those plans into practise. But is Boris Johnson really going to put a stop to the damage?

Isn’t it nice to know that the current Conservative government has admitted the austerity administration of David Cameron was wrong to impose privatisation on the NHS!

Except… is that really what Johnson – and his minister for death, Matt Hancock, are saying?

Here’s what the BBC story tells us:

The changes would aim to tackle bureaucracy and encourage health services from hospitals to GP surgeries and social care to work more closely.

The draft policy paper also says the health secretary would take more direct control over NHS England.

Instead of a system that requires competitive tendering for contracts – sometimes involving private companies, the NHS and local authorities will be left to run services and told to collaborate with each other, says the draft White Paper, designed to set out proposed legislation.

It doesn’t say private companies will no longer be allowed to take NHS contracts; nor does it say that the billions of pounds worth of NHS contracts that were awarded to private companies will revert back to the public sector.

In fact, it says

‘there will continue to be an important role for voluntary and independent sector providers’.

It just doesn’t say what that role will be.

And that should make us all nervous.

One of the reasons given for the need to change is that

the Covid pandemic “demonstrated plainly that this broader approach to health and care is not only desirable, but essential”.

But we know that the Covid pandemic has been a catastrophe for private-sector health firms.

Private contractors failed to provide vital ventilators and PPE (personal protective equipment) when they were needed.

The privatised test-and-trace system has done nothing but haemorrhage money; it has been worse than useless in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

And of course the Tory government itself abused the emergency system for awarding contracts, giving them to organisations run by party donors or with links to ministers rather than to those that could actually carry out the work.

To This Writer, it suggests that the private sector is irresponsible and should be removed from the provision of public health care, in all our best interests, as soon as possible.

But that is not what is being suggested.

Until we find out exactly what Johnson and Hancock are proposing, it seems much too early to get out the bunting and celebrate the salvation of the NHS.

Source: NHS: Government plans to reverse Cameron-era reforms – BBC News

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Hancock cancelled contract for 8,000 private hospital beds as NHS facing overwhelming Covid-19 surge

Another smug Tory incompetent: how will Matt Hancock justify his latest catastrophic blunder?

What does it take to make an incompetent Conservative minister resign?

In Matt Hancock’s case, how many excess deaths? How many failures to order adequate equipment? How many dodgy contracts with Tory donors and friends of cabinet members?

Here’s his latest blunder – and it’s a doozy:

Desperate health chiefs have been barred from using thousands of emergency private hospital beds because Matt Hancock failed to renew vital contracts.

The astonishing blunder by the Health Secretary means the struggling NHS has been denied access to 8,000 much-needed extra beds as it faces being overwhelmed by Covid admissions.

Last night a record 37,475 people were in hospital in England with the virus – a third of total capacity.

Tonight a critical care unit nurse said: “It’s pure incompetence.”

It is.

But he remains Boris Johnson’s Health Secretary, in defiance of logic, endangering all our lives.

Of course, some might say that he should never have paid for those beds in the first place…

Agreed?

Source: Desperate medics lose 8,000 hospital beds after Matt Hancock’s NHS blunder – Mirror Online

Now Brexit has happened, will Boris Johnson backtrack on his promises and scrap our protections?

Daniel Hannon: he has also called for NHS hospitals to be sold to private US companies after Brexit. It makes you wonder whose side he’s on.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

They’ve already backtracked on their promise not to use a pesticide that kills bees (albeit admittedly in conjunction with other EU countries).

And they’ve cancelled our freedoms to travel to and from EU countries – deliberately making it especially difficult for musicians to work there.

So why shouldn’t the Tories follow Daniel Hannan’s demand and ditch the other protections UK citizens have enjoyed as members of the European Union?

Safeguards for the use of data, pay and conditions, GM foods, hedge funds, dangerous chemicals and the disposal of environmentally-damaging vehicles should all be binned, Daniel Hannan said.

He wants to ditch:

the Temporary Workers’ Directive – which guarantees agency staff receive equal pay and conditions with employees in the same business.

the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – that gives individuals control over their personal data and limits its transfer to other countries.

the ban on products made from genetically modified (GM) crops – potentially allowing US food derived that way into the UK, as part of a future trade deal.

the REACH Directive – to outlaw chemicals linked to health problems including cancer, thyroid disease, hormone disruption and slow development.

the End of Life Vehicles Directive – to achieve environmentally-friendly dismantling and recycling, with targets for the reuse of vehicles and their components.

the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) – introduced to regulate hedge funds and private equity following the 2008 financial crash.

the ‘Droit de suite’ rules – that pay artists a fee on the resale of their works of art, instead of the American ‘first-sale doctrine’ that removes rights from subsequent sales.

“chunks of” the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) – the legal framework to harmonise regulation of securities markets and trading venues.

He doesn’t say how that makes the UK more competitive.

To This Writer’s untutored eye, it seems he just wants to hurt his fellow UK citizens for no very good reason.

His plans would make the country less competitive as they are backward steps that help nobody.

Source: Scrap EU consumer and worker protections now Brexit is completed, leading Tory says | The Independent

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Covid-19: Worst-yet infection & death rates; hospitals breaking… & Johnson is pinning all his hopes on vaccines?

Boris Johnson: he has relied on mindless optimism and wishful thinking, and he has failed. The NHS in London is at the point of collapse and it is his fault.

The UK has recorded 1,325 Covid-19 deaths and 68,053 daily cases – the highest level of both in a single day.

Total – official – deaths are nearly up to 80,000, and nearly three million infections are known to have happened in the UK – almost one-twentieth of the population.

Meanwhile London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a major incident as the number of Covid cases in the capital’s hospitals hit “critical” levels.

He said the virus in London is now “out of control” and the NHS is “on the cusp of being overwhelmed” with 7,000 Covid patients in hospital – almost 2,000 more than the first peak last April – and almost 1,000 on ventilators.

The UK now has more Covid-19 cases per head of population than any other nation in the world.

This Writer has yet to see evidence that the Nightingale hospitals have been pressed into service, though.

There is good news: apparently the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is effective against the new variants of Covid-19 – both from the UK and South Africa.

Another vaccine has been approved by the UK’s regulator – made by Moderna – but the 17 million doses on order won’t arrive until March.

And a fourth – single-dose – vaccine by the Belgian arm of Johnson & Johnson could be approved in early February.

Finally, it seems two arthritis drugs may be able to save the lives of Covid patients, also.

But the speed at which the emergency has fallen out of control shows how ill-advised Boris Johnson has been in his strategy. He has relied on wishful thinking, and it has let him down.

His current plan is to put all his eggs in one basket and rely on the vaccination programme – which is stuttering due to supply issues and a failure to inoculate the designated number of people on time.

Only days ago he was promising an early release from lockdown with the creation of “mega-vaccination” centres in the Nightingale hospitals (indicating we may finally get some use out of them).

It is sheer, boneheaded stupidity.

All the way down the line he has adhered to a slack-jawed, mindless optimism. He thought Covid-19 was just a touch of flu – and was proved wrong. He thought it would be all right to let the infection run rampant through the population until herd immunity was established – wrong again. He thought it was okay to sell off personal protective equipment before the pandemic arrived, even though he knew it was coming.

He thought ventilators wouldn’t be needed.

He thought lockdown didn’t have to last very long.

He thought he could send people back to work and they wouldn’t catch or spread the disease.

He thought he could send children back to school and they wouldn’t catch or spread the disease.

He thought it would be okay to prioritise the economy – his friends’ bank balances – above our lives.

And he forced his opinions on the rest of us.

And 80,000 people are dead.

And three million people have been infected.

And millions of people will suffer the lasting effects for a long time to come.

And the National Health Service is at the point of collapse – exactly as he and everyone else in the Conservative government were told after Operation Cygnus in 2016.

He thought it would be okay to let that happen.

Well, if you live in London, with your health service in critical condition, I’d like to know: do you think it’s okay? I’m especially keen to hear from people who voted Conservative.

Remember: Johnson knew Covid-19 was coming.

He knew what he needed to do, and didn’t do it.

He knew it was likely to mutate, and ignored that.

And that’s how we got where we are.

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#CashNotClaps say protesters as Tory call to applaud NHS is ignored

Boris Johnson has the clap: but his show of appreciation for NHS staff never went any further than a photo opportunity outside 10 Downing Street.

The Tory relaunch of ‘Clap for Heroes’ has fallen flat, with streets quiet at 8pm yesterday while residents took to the internet to demand fair pay for National Health Service workers instead.

This Writer never took part in the weekly ritual, that ran for 10 weeks during the first lockdown last year. I knew it was nothing but a sop for struggling doctors, nurses and support workers who were being forced to work long hours on very low pay after 10 years of Tory underfunding.

I knew that clapping doesn’t help. In fact, it may undermine the NHS by giving working the sense that we think putting our hands together on our doorsteps once a week is somehow a reasonable substitute for a well-resourced and capable health service with a decent standard of living for its staff.

Boris Johnson knows the NHS is struggling, but his government refused to provide a reasonable pay rise to NHS workers last year. Instead he splurged billions of pounds on fake companies run by spoilt friends of his ministers or Tory donors, who then failed to provide the equipment they had been contracted to make or find.

His demand for you to stand on your doorstep in the cold and clap your hands like a performing seal is an appeal for complicity. By clapping, you agree with him that the NHS doesn’t need decent pay.

No wonder so many people didn’t bother.

It is far better to tweet, email, and write to our MPs, demanding that they provide a decent living wage – not just to the NHS but to all frontline, key and essential workers.

That’s why I support comments like these.

What are you going to do?

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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