NHS and health

Responses to the pandemic: equality or insanity?

Agitation for increased funding for mental health services continues, with various research papers highlighting or predicting high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mental health services are in desperate need of resources. It remains unclear whether this coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions, specifically, really have made a difference to the mental illness pandemic that was already blighting the lives of billions globally long before Covid-19 came into being. For instance, a survey from UCL headlined that 18% of...

We need a pay rise to rebuild the NHS

Holly Johnson, a staff nurse at Sheffield’s cancer hospital, talked to Alison Brown from Solidarity. Why has the issue of pay, in particular, mobilised nurses, more than privatisation, cuts and safety in the NHS? Pay freezes, pay cuts and expanding roles for all NHS workers are part of the dismantling of the NHS. Inequality of our pay affects well-being. This has a direct effect on patient safety. If pay is low, it does not attract people into the workforce, does not make them feel valued. That, combined with poor working conditions, makes it hard to retain staff, thus affecting safe staffing...

Socialist politics to combat new virus surge

We want furlough and the ban on evictions extended, and rent "holidays" added. We want full isolation pay for all. The Tories' £500 one-off self-isolation dole for workers on benefits is a concession, but inadequate Social care should be taken into the public sector, and its staff put on regular public sector pay and conditions. Test-and-trace should be taken out of the hands of Serco and the other profiteers, and made a coordinated public health effort. NHS logistics, at present also a mess of profiteering subcontractors, should be put into public ownership, and industry requisitioned to...

Virus: indict the Tories

In Britain as in other countries in Europe, detected SARS-Cov-2 infections have been rising slowly since early July, and now faster since points in August. In France, the rise has been much faster. In Spain, it has already fed into a rise in Covid-19 deaths, though so far only to a rate about 5% of the April peak. From mid-April through to early July, infection levels fell fairly steadily across Europe. The fall was not reversed, halted, or even visibly slowed by limited lockdown-easing measures across those months, notably the reopening of schools in many countries. The obvious explanation...

Can we still protest? Should we still protest?

In Solidarity 562 we carried an article clarifying the law around protest. Despite the threats the police made to organisers of a 5 September trans rights protest (which led to it being cancelled), protesting was still legal. Then on 9 September Boris Johnson announced that further restrictions would be made so that no more than six people are allowed to gather socially. The change came into force on Monday 14 September. At the time of the announcement NHS campaigners were busy organising protests for 12 September, and were reassured that the new changes would not have taken effect by then...

Virus: indict the Tories!

Of people who test positive for the virus and should self-isolate, only 20% or fewer are doing so fully. That’s an official estimate. No one knows what percentage of people who are identified as contacts of the infected — and may be infectious themselves, without having symptoms — are self-isolating. Most people asked to self-isolate get no or minimal isolation pay, so isolated properly is economically difficult or impossible. Of those who do self-isolate, many can do so only in overcrowded housing. However careful they are, they’re likely to infect others there. In New Zealand, the government...

Rebuild the NHS for winter

In mid-July, the government received a report commissioned by its Chief Scientific Officer which warned that July and August were likely to be a lull in the pandemic followed by new spikes over the winter. Even if this virus is not “seasonal” in the way some others are, the fact of people spending more time indoors in winter will boost infections. The usual seasonal rise of flu will make it harder to trace chains of SARS-Cov-2 infection, and put pressure on the NHS. The report urged the government to use the July-August lull to get preparations in place for the winter. At first, it seems, the...

Next steps on NHS pay

The cross-union campaign “NHS Workers Say No!” is organising a day of demonstrations on 12 September. (London: 11 a.m. from the BBC, Portland Place. Details for other cities here). Article and video. This follows a round of protests in many cities on 8 August, when NHS workers across the country came onto the streets to demand a pay rise, an earlier London street protest on 29 July, and workplace actions across the country. The demand is that all NHS workers (including those contracted out) get a 15% pay rise. That does not fully make up for the loss in pay NHS workers have had over the last decade due to pay freezes. When taking inflation into account, NHS workers have lost 20% in real terms.

HSCA 2012 eight years on

The scrapping of Public Health England (PHE) and a new government health task force point to the Tories using the background of the pandemic to make radical changes to the NHS. The abolition of PHE is seen as an early attempt to cast blame for the devastating Covid-19 response away from Boris Johnson. It may also be the first step to bringing the NHS into increased central and political control. Last time the Tories led an NHS reorganisation was the Health and Social Care Act (HSCA) of 2012. This made fundamental changes, removing central responsibility for healthcare from the Secretary of...

Back the health workers! 15% pay rise!

We must throw ourselves into helping the health workers win. Video and article. On 12 September, and in Glasgow on 5 September, health workers will be on the streets again demanding a pay rise. The movement started with a London demonstration on 29 July, spread through protests across the country on 8 August and workplace rallies on 26 August, and is continuing through “wear a badge days” every Wednesday.

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