NHS and health

Shortfall on autism training

The government is developing new plans to provide mandatory autism training to all health and social care staff. But it looks like the reality of implementation will fall below the ambitions of the original consultation. Then, it was said that “people with lived experience (of autism) should be involved in the delivery of training”. Even that was a watered down version of demands from autistic people that the training be “autistic-led”. The end result looks like a training package delivered by a litany of third sector organisations, combined with NHS trusts. Very few of those could honestly...

Pregnancy, abortion and the women's strike

A response to Sophie Lewis, Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against the Family (Verso, 2019) At the heart of Sophie Lewis’s 2019 book, Full Surrogacy Now , is the argument that gestation, or pregnancy, is work. Much like advocates of wages for housework, who she refers to extensively, she argues that, by reproducing the workforce (very literally), pregnancy and childbirth are a fundamental part of value-creation; of capitalist accumulation. Pregnancy and childbirth should, therefore, (a.) be considered ‘labour’ in the Marxist sense and (b.) be viewed as an urgent site of struggle against...

Letters: Jumping the vaccination queue; A 0.32% swing

Jumping the vaccination queue I thought the call for school workers to be bumped up the vaccination queue had faded, because it was originally advocated as vaccination in half-term (mostly week 15-19 Feb). Not so. My local Labour Party passed a motion on 17 Feb for bumping up the queue. It was motivated by sympathy and appreciation for school workers, but as a teacher myself I argued against it. We’re for requisitioning Big Pharma to speed vaccine supplies. Even then vaccination will take time. Not everyone can be first. The vaccines drastically reduce death and severe illness from Covid. The...

Diary of a paramedic: When does your shift end?

I’m working with a newly qualified paramedic today. As we check our equipment we chat about how pissed off he is that, although he’s been doing the full role and not getting any extra support during the pandemic, he’s still on the probationary wage. He says his girlfriend is a student nurse covering wards on no pay at all. Our first job is helping transfer a Covid-positive patient to hospital using specialist equipment. We’re all in highest level PPE. It still feels very odd to be outside on a suburban street in that gear. Once we’re finished and tidied up, we try to clarify what cleaning...

Social care: only a fully public system will do

Recent Covid data has underlined the alarming state of social care in the UK. Yet the biggest union of social care workers, Unison, has responded by allying with the very people overseeing this dire situation. Not that far off a quarter of the UK’s virus-connected deaths so far, over 26,000, have been in care homes. That includes over 7,000 this year. Meanwhile between March and December there were 79 deaths per 100,000 social care workers, as opposed to 31.4 among workers in general (among women, 35.9 vs 16.8). Among frontline care home and home care workers, the figures were 109.9 for men...

NHS reshaped under cover of pandemic

For many, Covid-19 has exposed the need for urgent restoration of a public health system and an expanded publicly provided NHS. But, while applauding the work of “key workers”, the Government is steaming ahead with the plans to restructure the NHS. NHS England (NHSE) is currently consulting on their latest plans for “integrating care”, including changes to legislation. The summary below of the key changes, and an explanation of where the current trajectory of privatisation and restructuring may end, is taken from a presentation made by the Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital campaign. In 2012 the...

Diary of a paramedic: Filing yet another report

I returned to the road last week after a couple of months off recovering from Covid, most probably caught at work from a patient. More than half the patients we were seeing before Christmas had symptoms. The numbers are noticeably lower on my return, and workload has reduced generally, though not compared to the first lockdown, when the streets were very quiet and everybody wanted to stay away from hospitals. There seemed to be an increase in calls to community cardiac arrests back then, as people got really sick at home but were scared to contact health services. I catch up on who is off work...

A GP's view of the pandemic

A GP talked to Zack from Solidarity about the pandemic. An extract of this was printed in Solidarity, the full interview is below. Zack: What do you think should have been done differently in the vaccine rollout? GP: The Joint Committee on Vaccination should have planned from the start when they were going to give the second dose, so that they didn't change their mind. They shouldn't have asked private companies, like Pinnacle, to do things like the computing side. They should have used our existing providers. Vaccination isn't the only answer. You need to have track, trace, support, and...

Why respect the new virus rules?

Readers report arguments with workmates and neighbours over the virus restrictions. How should we respond? “I’m young and fit, and my friends are all young and fit too. Why should we not socialise a little, when the chances of serious hurt from us getting the virus are so small?” The virus has mutated, and is up to 70% more contagious than it was. Hundreds of people are dying of Covid every day in the UK. There are chains of transmission. Most young people will not be seriously affected by Covid, but some will be. And even people who have the virus without symptoms can spread it. One young...

Diary of an engineer: Proud to keep the heat and light on

My first job early Monday is to swap a burnt-out heater. The workshop is freezing and L really feels the cold. We put on hi-vis puffer jackets and thick gloves — I’m glad of my bomb-proof boots. M, who cleans bin waste off the tipping apron, is almost invisible behind two snoods and a balaclava. The switch room is always warm, and we spend a good afternoon in there dismantling a pump soft-start to replace the cooling fans behind heavy copper bus bars. We drink a lot of instant coffee. L spends most of his lunch break on the phone trying to resolve some personal drama, and J checks in with his...

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