NHS and health

Cleaners at Great Ormond St win in-house status

Hundreds of cleaners outsourced to the multinational contractor OCS at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London will be made NHS employees on 1 August 2021 following a campaign by the workers and their trade union United Voices of the World. UVW had warned hospital bosses that it would move to a ballot for industrial action and a legal case for institutionalised racism (the cleaners are mostly ethnic-minority). UVW won a previous victory in April 2020, when Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust gave their 1,200 outsourced staff NHS contracts. The union reports that "the cleaners –...

Pandemic points to need to "build back fairer"

"Covid-19 has exposed and amplified the inequalities we [have] observed [before] and the economic harm caused by containment measures – lockdowns, tier systems, social isolation measures - will further damage health and widen health inequalities. "Inequalities in Covid-19 mortality rates follow a similar social gradient to that seen for all causes of death and the causes of inequalities in Covid-19 are similar to the causes of inequalities in health more generally... "The mismanagement during the pandemic, and the unequal way the pandemic has struck, is of a piece with what happened in England...

Win isolation pay, win social solidarity

Over 60% of those applying for the Government’s meagre and ill-advertised £500-per-fortnight isolation pay are being refused in some areas, like Yorkshire and Humber, so the Guardian reported on 1 December. Back in August, research found that fewer than 20% of those with confirmed Covid symptoms were self-isolating properly, and scarcely 10% of those who knew they were contacts of infected people. No-one knows about those due to self-isolate after travelling, or those who should stay home to look after self-isolating young children. Isolation pay isn’t the only factor here, but it’s an...

Test and trace workers don't get isolation pay

Speaking to the Coronavirus Lessons Learnt meeting in parliament on 10 November, the head of Test and Trace, Dido Harding, told MPs: “All the evidence shows that people are not complying with isolation not because they don’t want to but because they find it very difficult. “The need to keep earning and to be able to feed your family is a fundamental element of it which is why I think the financial support payment is a very good thing.” The financial support that she refers to is the £500 isolation support payment which was introduced in September. But millions of workers, including thousands...

Cash for the NHS and isolation pay!

For weeks now, Solidarity has supported the call by scientists, later taken up by Labour leader Keir Starmer, for a limited new lockdown to slow virus infections. With a “but”. Or rather several “but”s. The agitation by Nigel Farage and some right-wing Tories against restrictions is really a call to favour the better-off who are, or feel, safe from the virus, at the expense of the worse-off in public-facing jobs and crowded circumstances. David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been misquoted by right-wingers. But he is right. “We in the WHO do not advocate lockdowns as the...

Social care needs changes now

The public body which inspects and regulates care services in England has warned the social care sector is “fragile” in this new wave of Covid infections and called for the government to make changes “now – not at some point in the future”. As the Care Quality Commission published its annual State of Care report, its chief executive Ian Trenholm challenged the government by declaring that the coming months may turn “faultlines into chasms”. Strong words from someone in Trenholm’s position. The CQC report suggests or nods towards higher pay, better training and more funding. What is striking is...

Make the NHS open to all!

Research from the group Doctors of the World UK illustrates how anti-migrant policies implanted in the NHS over years were causing serious suffering, even before the pandemic hit. Their report found migrants waiting much longer to access the health service than non-migrants, with an average wait of 37 weeks. For those requiring “urgent” or “immediately necessary” treatment, the average was 36 weeks. Delays of years were not uncommon, with one respondent with a serious heart complaint waiting four years. The report highlights extensive wrangling over whether people can access treatment and...

To curb the virus, reverse the cuts

The UK’s virus infections are now rising faster than France’s and Spain’s, and are at a higher level (relative to population) than Spain’s. The government’s measures, since infections started rising fast again in early August, have had little effect. The Tories are set to close bars and cafés again, in large areas at least, and maybe soon for a new lockdown similar to spring’s. In Ireland, which has a lower rate of infection increase than the UK, the government’s scientific advisers have already proposed a new general lockdown, not yet implemented. Lockdowns (with suitable arrangements for...

Hospitals refuse sick pay

A Freedom of Information request from supporters of the Safe and Equal campaign in Redbridge Trades Council has found that Barking, Redbridge and Havering University Hospitals NHS Trust (BRHUT) is in breach of government instructions to ensure all healthcare staff have rights to full sick and isolation pay. “Bank” (casual) staff working at the Trust, which includes King George Hospital in Goodmayes and Queen’s Hospital in Romford, are only entitled to Statutory Sick Pay at £95.85 a week if they have to isolate following public health guidance. Most of these staff are nurses, i.e. working...

Lessons from Spain

“I really enjoyed working in the NHS”, said a Spanish nurse quoted by the Financial Times on 7 October.”You get longer holidays, more breaks. And workers’ rights are much better”. His comment tells us less about excellences in the NHS and more about problems in Spain. Those led big protests on 19-20 September about virus measures in Madrid to demand “More healthcare, fewer police”, and are a factor in why Spain’s hospitals have had great trouble coping with the pandemic, and an exceptionally high number of health workers infected. Spain’s General Nursing Council says the country is 125,000...

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