Tag Archives: social care

Covid-19: Tories admit their own incompetence as ‘test and trace’ app is unlawful

Matt Hancock: he was a Covid-19 super-spreader so it should be no surprise that his employees on the ‘track and trace’ programme have been publicising patients’ confidential information. It is a criminal offence and he should be punished by a judge. What do you think will happen?

Isn’t this criminal stupidity?

The Tories have been telling us their ‘test and trace’ app for finding people who’ve had Covid-19, in order to isolate those they’ve contacted, is vital to prevent the spread of the disease – and therefore stop unnecessary deaths.

But now we learn that it breaches privacy laws, with Sky News reporting that the programme’s staff have been sharing private information about patients on the social media.

What a Hobson’s Choice we’ve had – refuse to use the app and Tory twits like Matt Hancock accuse us of betraying the campaign against the virus; but if we do use it, our intimate personal information goes public!

It turns out that critics of the scheme, the Open Rights Group, were right and the government did not conduct a data privacy impact assessment (DPIA) which is required to ensure that breaches of patients’ information don’t take place.

But a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said there was “no evidence of data being used unlawfully” – and then clammed up when asked if a Sunday Times report that this is exactly what has happened was accurate.

The Open Rights Group reckons it has already seen evidence of confidential track and trace information being shared on social media – and This Writer is certainly more inclined to believe that organisation than a government that has built up a record of relentless incompetence.

Can anybody tell me a single thing the Tories have got right since December 13, 2019?

Of course, breach of Data Protection laws is a criminal offence and the person directly responsible for this one will be the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, one Matt Hancock.

How lucky he must feel, knowing that as a Tory minister he is above the law and the police wouldn’t touch him even if he committee murder on television.

Source: Coronavirus: Government admits its Test and Trace programme is unlawful | Science & Tech News | Sky News

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Is NHS England boss’s social care plea just more virtue signalling?

Care: the head of NHS England says he wants change but who can hope that it will be for the better?

I have a doubt about Simon Stevens’s sincerity.

He has come forward to say that the government needs to put an adequate funding system in place for social care within the next year.

This suggests that he supports public funding of this service.

But Simon Stevens, formerly a UnitedHealthcare CEO, has been a major player in privatising huge parts of the National Health Service in England – so I’m not convinced that he’s being straight with us.

Remember the big land sell-off following the Naylor Review? Remember the NHS Long-Term Plan that did nothing to shorten waiting lists or relieve pressure on Accident & Emergency departments and seemed geared towards blaming you if you suffer from poor health?

And now this man wants to sink his claws into the social care system – with the failures of care during the Covid-19 crisis as the perfect excuse.

I do not trust him. I certainly don’t trust the Tories.

They have been de-funding social care for years; they have been allowing poor employment practices that allowed Covid-19 into care homes to kill residents for years.

They aren’t going to change.

Source: Social care reform needed within a year – NHS England boss – BBC News

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Court threat for Matt Hancock over whether ‘test and trace’ system keeps your personal information safe

Matt Hancock: like his boss Boris Johnson, he’s big on gestures but short on substance – and it seems he rushed his Covid-19 ‘test and trace’ system into operation without ensuring that it is entirely legal.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock could be dragged into court after the Tory government failed to show that its Covid-19 ‘test and trace’ system protects people’s personal information.

More than 150,000 people have had their personal information handled by the scheme since it was rushed into service on May 28, but the government has failed to conduct a risk assessment showing how these details will be protected from falling into the wrong hands.

This is required in accordance with a law that the Conservative government passed.

Now Matt Hancock has until July 8 to provide that information – or he will be brought to court:

Lawyers working on behalf of privacy and free speech organisation Open Rights Group (ORG) have issued health secretary Matt Hancock and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) with a pre-action legal letter that says they have breached requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR by failing to properly conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) for the whole Test and Trace system.

Test and Trace has been criticised for failing to reach a quarter of people who tested positive for Covid-19, a lack of staff training as thousands of people were initially employed, and the collapse of the NHS-developed contact tracing app. Similarly to Test and Trace, no DPIA was available before the app’s trial on the Isle of Wight started.

Source: Matt Hancock faces day in court over NHS Test and Trace privacy failings | WIRED UK

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Court threat over ‘illegal’ coronavirus-related ‘Do Not Revive’ orders on disabled people

Ventilator: if you’re disabled, and you catch Covid-19, a doctor might deny you access to one of these and let you die. If he does so without asking you, he’s abusing your human rights. Matt Hancock is being told to step in and stop this – or be slapped down by the courts.

Remember when This Site reported that doctors were being ordered to deny coronavirus care to people with disabilities?

It went on for a while.

Eventually it seemed the people at the top of the NHS put a stop to the practice, telling hospitals, GPs and NHS managers not to issue such letters.

So why are we being told that medical professionals are still being told not to revive people with disabilities who are suffering from Covid-19?

The issue is that doctors are being told to issue these letters about disabled people, without consulting those people on whether they agree with the decision. That’s an abuse of human rights.

And now it seems Matt Hancock and the Department of Health and Social Care may face a court order to halt the practice.

The problem is that the government is not directly responsible for the issuing of these letters – doctors are.

But law firm Leigh Day, acting for Kate Masters, whose family has already fought a successful legal action against a DNR order, says the government is failing to provide proper guidance on this issue.

So Hancock is facing an ultimatum. Either he honours the following series of requests:

Masters wants the government to use its emergency coronavirus laws to put several safeguards in place. These state that doctors must not issue DNR notices unless the patient and/or their family/carers are:

  • Told “that it is not appropriate to consider CPR and why”.
  • Provided with “an opportunity to discuss their views and wishes regarding receiving CPR with the healthcare professional making the decision”.
  • Given “clear information as to how the healthcare professional will take into account their views/wishes, the relevance of clinical judgement regarding efficacy of CPR (including being clear consent is not required) and how resource constraints are taken into account”.
  • “Informed of the DNR decision and the reasons why (which must be individual to the patient)”.
  • Advised “they can request a second opinion if they disagree with the decision”.

Or, if he fails to respond by May 7 (tomorrow, at the time of writing), then he’ll be dragged into court to face a judicial review that could force him to treat people with disabilities with the same respect as people with money.

I think he’ll take the court option, even though the request is perfectly reasonable.

Tories want to kill people with disabilities.

They’re a little… Nazi in that respect.

Source: Matt Hancock could face court action over the ‘illegal’ treatment of disabled people during lockdown | The Canary

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Thinking of voting Liberal Democrat? Think again – for all our sakes

You may be getting tired of this image, but it adequately describes the Liberal Democrat offer to the electorate.

The Liberal Democrats are apparently enjoying a surge in support in marginal London constituencies – why? In office, they were a disaster for the UK.

Do people really have such short memories that they have forgotten the legacy of the Coalition government? Liberal Democrats helped ruin the UK – especially for young voters such as those who are being targeted by the party now.

As Rhiannon Lucy Coslett points out in The Guardian, the very first thing the Liberal Democrats did in government was renege on their election promises.

Where they had promised to abolish tuition fees, they tripled those fees instead. Current Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson gleefully supported this policy.

The Liberal Democrats also supported the Tory imposition of austerity on people whose income fell below a certain level. Young people most of all.

For further details of Ms Swinson’s “record of shame”, see:

Result: “Now, there are homeless people everywhere, food bank use has skyrocketed, the housing crisis has worsened, the right is now the far right, zero-hours contracts are common, and just over half the country [actually just over half those who voted] has voted to take away its citizens’ ability to live and work in 27 European countries.

“Racism has become normalised. An MP has been murdered, many others threatened and harassed. Disabled people, migrants and black British citizens face a hostile environment.”

These are consequences of Liberal Democrats in government, made possible by people voting for the Liberal Democrats.

Now, the Lib Dems are promising to revoke Article 50 and put a stop to Brexit. They know they will never take enough Parliamentary seats to make this possible.

But they also know that it will take votes away from Labour – online tactical voting tools are advising people to vote Lib Dem in marginals where Labour has the only candidate that could beat the Conservative, according to the 2017 results.

This means that, in many constituencies, a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a Conservative government.

And we can see that the Lib Dems would support the Tories more than Labour. Jo Swinson loathes Jeremy Corbyn, even though – as Ms Coslett notes – Labour is offering what the Liberal Democrats said they wanted: a second referendum. She adds:

“Her party is not focused on reversing generational injustice; on the contrary, it has enabled it. The Lib Dems – with Swinson as a coalition government minister – were happy to work with the Conservatives to slash benefits, cut social care and play havoc with the health service. Their political conscience only seemed to return when Brexit threatened their world view and their interests. Ideologically, they largely overlap with the vanishing “moderate” wing of the Tories – whose MPs are now defecting to the Lib Dem party.”

The message is clear: If you vote Liberal Democrat, you will get Tory. For young people, that is tantamount to self-harm.

Also: what’s this about new evidence which confirms that the Liberal Democrats sold voter data to the Remain campaign in 2016 for almost £100,000 being withheld from public scrutiny by the Information Commissioner’s Office?

And what’s this about the Liberal Democrats spamming voters with junk mail?

As I write this, the infamous Liberal Democrat policy – of putting bar charts on election literature claiming that their candidate is the only one who can beat the incumbents – is being ridiculed on the BBC’s Politics Live.

It seems they have been printing bar charts showing them as the biggest party in particular constituencies – by omitting the parties that had a higher vote share than them. The example quoted is notable for failing to show the Labour and Brexit Party vote.

So: take the evidence as a whole, rather than just Lib Dem literature, and the accurate picture of the Liberal Democrats is of a party that will promise anything to get into power and then break all those promises without compunction; a party that will lie to the electorate in order to secure votes; a party that will enable the Conservatives to get back into power, even though the majority of its supporters hate the Tories; and a party that will sell all our young people down the river once again – if it gets the opportunity.

You’d have to be crazy to vote Liberal Democrat.

Spread the word.

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Tory visa scheme will cripple social care – and the NHS will suffer knock-on harm

Charming. The Conservatives are openly announcing plans to harm services for people in need.

Tories are demanding a £30,000 salary threshold and tougher visa requirements for overseas workers once the UK has left the EU and free movement has come to an end. They also want migrants to be earning £35,800 after five years.

As care workers receive much less than £30k a year – due to Tory pay restrictions? – this means that the care sector will lose personnel.

Not only will the needs of vulnerable people go undetected, not only will people be forced to go without care, but the NHS will face knock-on effects as elderly patients are taken to A&E as a last resort, or end up stuck on wards unable to go home.

See for yourself:

Boris Johnson’s plans for fast-track “NHS visas” will do nothing to head off an impending post-Brexit staffing crisis which threatens to cripple social care in the UK, with catastrophic consequences for hospitals and other services, health chiefs have warned.

The Independent has obtained a document written by NHS Employers [that] sets out strong opposition to the Home Office’s planned points-based immigration system and new salary thresholds, pointing out many social care staff earn as little as half the proposed minimum of £30,000 per annum needed to obtain entry to the UK.

Under the scheme, the cost of a visa application for health professionals would be halved from £928 to £464 and a decision would be guaranteed within two weeks. Applicants coming to work in the NHS would receive preferential treatment with extra points under the points-based system, and no cap would be placed on numbers entering through the NHS route.

However, it makes no provision for people working in social care.

Source: NHS chiefs warn Johnson’s visa scheme will do nothing to stop post-Brexit staffing crisis | The Independent

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Abrahams demands £2.4 billion dementia fund to help bridge social care gap

Debbie Abrahams: Campaigning for people with dementia – and for improved social care all round.

My own grandmother had dementia. The family looked after her – but many people don’t have that kind of support.

Ms Abrahams said: “Typically, people with dementia spend £100,000 on their care, an astronomical sum, which would take 125 years to save for, well over a lifetime.

“Social care is in a desperate state and in urgent need of a complete overhaul. People with dementia are left struggling with a system that is unfair and unsustainable.

“The injustice of people battling to get care, on top of battling the devastating effects of dementia can’t go on and the Government must act quickly.”

It is more than an injustice. It is uncivilised.

But Tories like to pretend they are civilised. Let’s see what they do about this.

MP Debbie Abrahams has backed a call for a new £2.4 billion dementia fund by tabling a cross-party parliamentary early day motion (EDM).

The Oldham East and Saddleworth MP is co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG)on dementia.

This follows an Alzheimer’s Society report calling for urgent investment and arguing that people with dementia face an average 15 per cent higher social care costs than others

The EDM calls on the government to include a dementia fund in the forthcoming spending review to break the deadlock on reforming the social care system and end the unfairness facing people with dementia.

Source: MP Debbie Abrahams calling for £2.4 billion dementia fund | The Oldham Times

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The ‘diabetes tax’: Some patients must pay £1,200 a year for tool Theresa May said was freely available on the NHS

Theresa May: She might get her FreeStyleLibre diabetes tool on the NHS, but her government has made sure many members of the public have to pay a fortune for it.

An apparently innocent interlude in Prime Minister’s Questions has opened up a potentially-huge controversy for the Conservative government.

Labour MP Steve McCabe noted that Theresa May uses a FreeStyleLibre diabetes tool, which monitors her condition and warns her when she needs medication. He asked when it would be freely available on the National Health Service. Here’s the dialogue, from the official record of Parliamentary affairs, Hansard:

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab)

“Even the Prime Minister’s fiercest critics—I believe she has a few—must be full of admiration for the way in which she manages her diabetic condition and holds down such a tough and demanding job. I understand that she benefits from a FreeStyle Libre glucose monitoring system. Wouldn’t it be nice if she did something to make that benefit available to the half a million people who are denied it because of NHS rationing? Perhaps we could call it “help for the many, not the few”. [907106]

“I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I do use a FreeStyle Libre, and it is now available on the national health service, but it is not the only means of continuous glucose monitoring that is available on the NHS. Yesterday I saw a letter from a child—a young girl—who had started on the FreeStyle Libre, but, because of the hypos that she had been having, had been moved to a different glucose monitoring system. There is no one system that is right for everyone; what is important is that those systems are now available on the NHS.”

Technically, she was correct and the FreeStyleLibre is available on the NHS.

But, thanks to Tory meddling, its availability to people with diabetes is based on a postcode lottery.

You may remember that Andrew Lansley’s hated Health and Social Care Act of 2012 imposed Clinical Commissioning Groups on the NHS. These are local organisations that decide which services should be available to patients in their areas, based on the amount of money that is made available to them. The creation of CCGs was justified with a claim that GPs would serve on them – but in fact GPs are far too busy and the work seems to have devolved to businesspeople.

Unite the Union surveyed the 3,392 CCG board members in 2015 and reported that 513 were directors of private healthcare companies: 140 owned such businesses and 105 carried out external work for them. More than 400 CCG board members were shareholders in such companies.

As a result, trust in CCGs’ ability, or indeed willingness, to provide the best-quality healthcare their budgets can afford is low. It seems the bias is more likely towards offering private firms the contracts they want, in order to appease shareholders who sit on these groups.

The FreeStyleLibre – together with those who use it – appears to be a victim of this system.

While it is nominally available on the NHS, as Mrs May claimed, it is not available to huge numbers of NHS patients because the CCGs in their area simply haven’t offered to pay for it. Instead, they have to fund it themselves at a cost of £100 per month.

That’s a “Diabetes Tax”, if you like, of £1,200 per year.

This information comes from a segment of the BBC’s Politics Live that I was lucky enough to notice:

Here’s the clip the programme put up on Twitter, in which Type 1 diabetic Tessa Nejranowski destroys Mrs May’s claim:

So there you have it:

Mrs May lied to Parliament. FreeStyleLibre is not available on the NHS – at least, not everywhere in England – and where it is not, people have to pay £1,200 a year to have it privately. That’s a “diabetes tax” imposed on people with the condition by the Conservatives.

And it’s about as strong an argument as any for the dissolution of the CCGs and the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. But you’ll have to wait for a Labour government before that happens.

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Austerity IS killing people and Corbyn must man up about it

You can probably tell from the headline that This Writer is a little disappointed in the Labour leader.

Jeremy Corbyn told Aneurin Bevan Day celebrants in Tredegar there was “mounting evidence” that Tory austerity has been killing people.

He said: “There is clear and mounting evidence that austerity and inequality are killing people.

“For years people were living longer and life expectancy was increasing. That has now ground to a halt and in some parts of the country life expectancy is falling. This is unprecedented.”

Mounting evidence? We’re eight years into Tory austerity and the evidence is all around us!

We know that Tory changes to benefit eligibility have killed thousands because This Site forced the government to admit it after a two-year Freedom of Information battle.

We know that Tory changes to health and social care have killed more than 120,000 people because, again, the Conservative government has admitted it.

We don’t need more proof that Tory austerity is lowering life expectancy.

We do need a Labour government that will launch an investigation into the number of avoidable deaths that were caused by Tory policies – immediately upon taking office.

We need a government that will seize all relevant papers from all relevant goverment departments immediately, and that will follow all evidence trails without fear or favour, no matter where they lead.

The dead demand it.

Corbyn’s words are not strong enough.

He needs to man up and take the Tories to task over the mass deaths they have caused.

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Tory austerity may be responsible for one of history’s worst genocides

[Image: @ukdemockery.]


People really do have short memories.

Prominent in some news media at the moment is a report in the British Medical Journal that health and social care spending cuts by the Conservatives in government since 2010 have led to 120,000 excess – read “needless” – deaths.

The BMJ states:

The squeeze on public finances since 2010 is linked to nearly 120,000 excess deaths in England, with the over 60s and care home residents bearing the brunt, reveals the first study of its kind, published in the online journal BMJ Open.

“The critical factor in these figures may be changes in nurse numbers, say the researchers, who warn that there could be an additional toll of up to 100 deaths every day from now on in.

“Between 2010 and 2014, the NHS in England has only had a real term annual increase in government funding of 1.3 per cent, despite rising patient demand and healthcare costs.

“And real term spend on social care has fallen by 1.19 per cent every year during the same period, despite a significant projected increase in the numbers of over 85s–those most likely to need social care–from 1.6 million in 2015 to 1.8 million in 2020, say the researchers.

“The spending restraints were associated with 45,368 excess deaths between 2010 and 2014 compared with equivalent trends before 2010.

“Most of these deaths were among the over 60s and care home residents. And every £10 drop in spend per head on social care was associated with five extra care home deaths per 100,000 of the population, the analysis showed.

“These associations remained after further detailed analysis and taking account of global and national economic factors.

“Changes in the numbers of hospital and community nurses were the most salient factors in the associations found between spend and care home deaths. From 2001 to 2010 nurse numbers rose by an average of 1.61% every year, but from 2010 to 2014 rose by just 0.07%–20 times lower than in the previous decade.

“On the basis of the trends between 2009 and 2014, the researchers estimate that an extra 152,141 people could die between 2015 and 2020, equivalent to nearly 100 extra deaths every day.

“The funds needed to close this ‘mortality gap’ would be £6.3 billion every year, or a total of £25.3 billion, they calculate.”

That’s nearly 200,000 people likely to have died needlessly between 2010 and 2020, due to Tory cuts in social care, and affecting mostly people aged over 60 and care home residents.

Those figures are bad enough – but we seem to have forgotten the deaths caused by the Department for Work and Pensions. Remember them?

Back in 2015, when my Freedom of Information request about the number of sickness benefit claimants who had died was finally honoured, we discovered that 2,400 ESA claimants had died within two weeks of being found fit for work. That was the headline figure, but it didn’t tell the whole story because it referred only to a two-week period when the DWP recorded what happened to these people, and only to those who had been found fit for work.

But we have a plethora of evidence that people have died after that two-week period, when the DWP had ceased monitoring their condition. This site has covered dozens – perhaps hundreds – of stories about such people.

And consider this: The number of claimants of any kind of incapacity benefit who died between January 2011 and the end of February 2014 was 91,740. It’s true that many of these people may have been likely to die in any case, due to the seriousness of their health condition.

But we know that the frequency of these deaths increased from 32 per day between January and November 2011, to 79.5 per day between January 2011 and February 2014. That’s a huge increase, for which no explanation has been put forward.

Evidence that the DWP tried to withhold from its response to my FoI request showed that fewer claimants died after the DWP suspended its intrusive and stressful repeat assessments of claimants’ capability for work.

The Work Capability Assessment itself caused a massive increase in mental health problems among benefit claimants who had to take it, leading to 590 suicides in a period covered by an Oxford University and Liverpool University report.

And claimants of both ESA and PIP, who admit they have mental health problems during the assessment, are routinely asked why they have not committed suicide in a modern-day permutation of the practice known as “chequebook euthanasia”.

Put all that together and the total – from deaths caused by austerity cuts in the Department of Health and just the sickness and disability component of the Department for Work and Pensions’ workload – must be a national scandal.

Several commentators have pointed out that the deaths are concentrated among the old and the sick or disabled, and have questioned whether they are evidence of eugenics-based social engineering by Conservatives including David Cameron, Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa May.

I seem to recall, in previous articles, comparing Tory austerity deaths to the “harrying of the north”, in which William the Conqueror’s forces killed around 100,000 people after he took the English throne in 1066. This now seems a pitifully low estimate.

It’s time to be honest: UK austerity deaths are almost certainly causing one of the worst genocides in history.


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