NHS and health

Make Labour fight for “grand schemes”!

Both the government and the scientists who criticise it say that finding people with Covid-19 symptoms, testing to confirm, tracing their close contacts, and getting sufferers and contacts to self-isolate, is central to controlling the virus. Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds told the Marr show on Sunday 5 June: “I’m not going to say to you that Labour is going to be advocating some massive grand scheme right at this moment when social care is in crisis”. But we need grand schemes exactly at this time of crisis! The Tories’ floundering has imposed a massive grand Covid-19 death toll, threatens a massive grand risk of a whole new second wave of the virus, and is generating massive grand job cuts.

£10,000 for maternity care

Maternity Action has lost its legal challenge to the scheme of charging destitute migrant women for NHS maternity care. Following an oral hearing on 1 July, the High Court denied the charity permission to proceed with a judicial review. It is considering whether to appeal. The case was brought by Maternity Action on behalf of a woman who was charged more than £10,000 for vital maternity care. Charging migrants for maternity care deters, delays, or denies access to healthcare for pregnant migrants, those giving birth, or those who need postnatal treatment. This is particularly dangerous as many...

Nationalise social care!

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, has called for politicians to “decisively answer” how social care can be reorganised to deal with the problems exposed by the Covid-19 crisis. Stevens is no left-winger. He spent the best part of a decade as Chief Executive of US private healthcare corporation United Health. He has defended and promoted privatisation in the NHS. But so glaring is the problem of a radically fractured and privatised social care system that in his interview with the BBC he hinted at some kind of public ownership: “ If you take back the history coming out of the...

Private hospitals: don't subsidise, nationalise!

According to the Financial Times (16 June) the government is considering a longer term deal with private hospitals. In late March, as the first wave of Covid 19 was on the rise, the government worried that health resources in the UK would be overwhelmed, as they had been in Italy. The government made a deal with private hospitals — a rolling deal that can be terminated. The deal gives the NHS access to the facilities and staff of private hospitals. The government pays all overheads, including lending commitments and rent, for the private hospitals at an estimated cost of £100-120m per week...

AIDS, and how it was fought

The BBC radio documentary mini-series “A big disease with a little name”, released June 2020, is an incredibly moving and informative look at HIV/AIDS from its appearance to the modern day. AIDS, caused by HIV, was first written about in 1981, in the USA. The virus — initially “Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, GRID” — disproportionally impacted gay men, and was associated with homosexuality. Hitting a particularly persecuted and in many ways invisible set of people — even more so then than now — worsened its impacts in many ways. “Straight America” mostly responded with indifference. For many...

New Covid plans

Doctors and scientists want a shift in virus-control policy. An open letter to all the political parties, on 23 June, by leading medical figures, called for an urgent effort to map new policies because "the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk".

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...

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