Tag Archives: national

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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Is this yet another example of Tory racism?

The Tories said that EU nationals would be encouraged to apply for “settled status” rather than being forced to leave the UK after Brexit.

That’s what they said.

But they have put obstacle after obstacle in the way – barriers to application and delays in Home Office decision-making being significant factors in pushing vulnerable EU citizens out.

And from January 1, EU citizens were quietly added to the Tory government’s voluntary returns scheme, offering them paid flights and £2,000 resettlement money to get them to leave of their own accord.

It seems clear that Tory policy hasn’t moved an inch since Theresa May was attacked so bitterly for sending advertising vans around London telling people from foreign countries to “go home”.

Worst of all, this is cutting our collective nose off to spite our face.

The UK relies on EU migrants to do a lot of important work. Without them – especially in the Covid crisis – we’ll struggle.

Either the Tories haven’t thought about that or – more likely, considering the Covid death toll – they simply don’t care.

Source: EU citizens offered financial incentives to leave UK | Brexit | The Guardian

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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

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?

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Hancock on the spot as ICU nurse asks ‘how he can look NHS staff in the face’ (Vox Political Scrapbook)

Matt Hancock was left looking sheepish on Good Morning Britain today as he was confronted by an ICU nurse who had earlier asked how he could “look NHS staff in the face.

The Health Secretary appeared on GMB today as he addressed whether there would be a national lockdown, the confusion regarding schools and on ICU wards struggling over understaffing.

During the interview, Susanna Reid pointed out ICU nurse Dave Carr’s remarks that hospitals are “beyond breaking point”.

Hancock was shown a clip of what Dave would ask him if he was able to, which saw the nurse respond: “How he can seriously look any health worker in the face and tell us that he is stewarding the NHS and managing this pandemic properly?”

Fumbling, Hancock awkwardly replied: “Well, the staff across the NHS have done a great job… I’m very pleased that earlier in the year that we were able to give a significant pay rise to nurses across the board.”

Susanna … remarked that Dave had certainly not described the pay rise as “significant”.

Source: Matt Hancock confronted by ICU nurse on ‘how he can look NHS staff in the face’ – Mirror Online

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Is this how the Tories will use Covid-19 to kill the NHS?

Fears are rising that the Conservative will use the Covid-19 crisis to push for the closure of the National Health Service.

It seems they will lie to you that the NHS is responsible for failures to contain the disease, when in fact the problems were caused by their own political decisions.

This Writer had a few things to say about that:

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Tories finally tell PRIMARY schools in LONDON to stay closed. Union calls for rest of England to do the same

Wearing the dunce’s cap again: for Gavin Williamson, the reopening of schools at the height of the Covid crisis isn’t a hard decision – he does what he’s told to do by Boris Johnson. That’s why he has made a fool of himself – and why he is deliberately endangering your children and (if you are a parent) you.

Could anything better illustrate the weakness of Boris Johnson and his Conservative government?

They want to keep the UK’s economy going, despite having done everything possible to let Covid-19 rampage through the population while pretending to restrict it.

So they need to keep schools open, so parents don’t have an excuse to stay at home.

That’s why none of their restrictions/lockdowns since September have included schools.

They seemed ready to keep up this farcical charade into the New Year – even though Covid-19 infection rates have soared and schools are the most common vector – right up until January 1, days before the new school term was due to begin.

Then – at the very last minute once again, meaning parents’ plans have been thrown into chaos for no good reason – Education Secretary Gavin Williamson u-turned, signing off on a plan for all primary schools to remain closed for the time being…

In London.

For clarity, you need to be aware that secondary schools and colleges were already set to be closed to most pupils for the first two weeks of term, while primaries in 50 local authorities in London and southern England were also told to remain closed until January 18.

It was only after council leaders in 10 other London boroughs, where Covid transmission rates are high but schools were told to remain open, said they would defy the government and support closures that Williamson agreed to close them all.

He had been backed into a corner. Whatever he did would have led to humiliation so he chose the option that would not result in open defiance.

But his decision only covers those 60 local authority areas in London and the south, prompting education unions – most prominently the National Education Union – to ask:

Why are are children and parents in the rest of England being left vulnerable to Covid?

The National Education Union’s joint general secretary, Mary Bousted, has called on the government to close schools across that country (remember: education is a devolved responsibility so the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland choose whether their schools will open or not).

According to the BBC,

In Wales, there will be “flexibility” at the beginning of term, with teaching due to start in most places from 4 January. Schools are expected to offer face-to-face learning for most pupils by 11 January, with a full return by 18 January.

In Northern Ireland, primary school pupils will be taught online until 11 January. In secondary schools, years 8 to 11 will be taught online throughout January. Years 12 to 14 will return to school after the first week of January.

In Scotland, the Christmas holidays have been extended to 11 January, and the following week will be online learning only. A full return to face-to-face learning is planned for 18 January.

Dr Bousted pointed out that it is impossible to stop children from mixing with each other in large numbers and if just one has the virus, then they all may catch it and transmit it to their families – and out into the community:

She added, on Andrew Castle’s LBC radio talk show, that teachers have a legal right to refuse to work if they think opening schools will create a health risk:

For Gavin Williamson, the situation has now become extremely precarious:

Will Williamson cave in again, or will he stand accused of condemning thousands to catch the virus when the NHS cannot take the strain and fatalities are rising?

And what will happen to Boris Johnson’s precious economy if this irrational stubbornness over schools creates knock-on havoc in business and industry?

Whatever happens, responsibility for the result will lie entirely with Johnson and his Conservative government. But we, the people, will pay the price.

Source: All primary schools in London to remain closed after U-turn | Schools | The Guardian

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