NHS and health

Labour, demand Johnson quits!

Enough of Boris Johnson! The way he has conscripted his Cabinet ministers to defend his wretched Rasputin, Dominic Cummings, is a symptom of much more. We need to get rid of the Tory government and the whole nexus of privilege and profiteering which it serves. Getting rid of Johnson will be a start. It would be hard even for a Tory successor to get away with his tinpot-tyrant stuff, like his attempt to shut down Parliament last year and his rush for a hard Brexit formula before 30 June. Make Labour speak out!

Spread call for public ownership of care

One hundred and fifty union and Labour activists have signed the statement for public ownership and provision of social care initiated by the Safe and Equal campaign. That includes a wide range of union officers and activists from care, health and local government, and many dozens of Labour Party activists including ten CLP Secretaries. There is wide and growing support in the labour movement and beyond for public ownership of care, but it will not happen without a serious campaign. We need to think how such a campaign can happen. Getting a lot more support and publicity for this statement is...

Safe and Equal: three fronts

The Safe and Equal campaign safeandequal.org is pressing on three fronts. Firstly: we want to popularise the idea, adopted as Labour Party policy in conference 2019, and recently re-raised by Nadia Whittome MP, that the care sector must be re-organised as a well-funded public service, rather than as the patchwork of small privately-run companies that currently makes it up. Instead of a jigsaw puzzle of frequently inefficient, abusive and despotic private fiefdoms, we want instead to see a democratically-run service offering the same high standards of care and workers’ rights to all users and...

The politics and limits of tracing

The government, and many of its critics too, cite “test-trace-isolate” as almost a cure-all to control the virus while still easing the lockdown. The labour movement cannot claim expertise on the details. But we must demand that the operation be accompanied by full isolation pay for all, and run as a public-service operation, by public-sector workers on good public-sector terms, not contracted-out. The idea is people with symptoms like Covid-19 are promptly tested. If they test positive, then they’re asked to list all the people outside their household with whom they’ve been in less-than-two...

The Doctors Laboratory votes for strikes

Medical couriers transporting Covid-19 samples on behalf of NHS pathology contractor The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) have voted overwhelmingly for strike action, in response to the company’s decision to make redundancies during the pandemic, and its failure to address health and safety concerns. The IWGB union, on behalf of eight of its members who are being targeted for redundancy, has also filed a trade union victimisation and whistleblower victimisation claim. Almost all of the ten targeted workers had been demanding better and safer working conditions. One of them, Alex Marshall, is a key...

"We need much more organised pressure on Starmer"

Nurse, Unite activist and socialist Mark Boothroyd spoke to Sacha Ismail. What are the most important things for the left to argue and fight for in this crisis? How does the dominant labour movement response measure up? The labour movement needs to campaign for more extensive economic support, to expand the furlough and self-employed schemes, extend them to those not covered and so on. People need to be able to stay home and sustain themselves. Clearly sick pay and the right to self-isolate on fully pay are essential. The level of statutory sick pay is utterly scandalous, it needs to be raised...

Scrap health surcharge for all

Nadia Whittome MP tweeted straight after Johnson u-turned on charging migrant health and care workers to access the NHS: “Glad that the government has caved on the Immigration Health Surcharge for NHS and care staff, but nobody should have to pay extra for the NHS on top of the taxes they already pay. There are no good immigrants and bad immigrants. Healthcare is a right for all.” The whole Labour Party and labour movement should be demanding this. • Please sign and promote Another Europe is Possible’s petition

Not just Cummings

Not just the unelected Dominic Cummings. Boris Johnson should go. In fact, the whole Tory cabinet should go. But Johnson going would be a good start. Cummings’ trip to Durham, and Johnson’s endorsement, have disgusted millions who think: we made sacrifices, followed the rules so we didn’t see loved ones who were ill, lonely, dying — and you people don’t bother. It shows up the arrogance, bluster, bluff, brazening-out, floundering, and stonewalling of the government throughout the virus emergency. No-one can trust this government to tell even an approximation of the truth. Three months after...

Right to protest

After a leaked Treasury paper suggested a two-year public sector pay freeze, a group of London nurses held a socially distanced protest outside Downing Street, wearing their PPE. This is one of a number of protests health workers have organised around the country. In response NHS England and NHS managers in London have issued a statement saying workers should not join protests as it would “adversely affect public confidence”. It also suggested support for police repression of demonstrations! Over two hundred health workers have died from Covid-19 in eight weeks – more than the number of...

Care blighted by profit

A specialist nurse who has worked with patients in both hospitals and care homes responds to our briefing on social care in Solidarity 544. What’s happening at the moment in care homes has thrown a spotlight on how they operate. A lot of the problems now running wild were already problems, but with the pandemic everything is obviously more acute. The thing I thought when I read the number of deaths is that staff must have been working very hard to keep people in care homes rather than sending them off to hospital. I think it’s generally the right thing, because most people living in care homes...

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