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Dispatches from the front: bosses prepare fresh attacks on NHS
Will Tories use lower hospital attendance to close wards?
As an NHS nurse I was asked by the Socialist to provide a note from the 'front line'.
Well, in my own area, the district general hospital is running half-full and other in-bedded community hospitals have no patients whatsoever. This is in line with government guidelines to prepare for a rise in in-bedded requirements in response to Covid-19.
NHS wards have been 'temporarily' closed and staff told this is only during the current crisis.
Large numbers of staff are being redeployed to other areas while the current situation exists; often highly inappropriately, in that staff are expected to work in areas where they have little or no experience.
Community workers are facing additional pressures, as patients have been discharged from hospitals to home or to care homes. Of course, the scandal is the enormous death rates for residents of care homes, who originally were not counted in the government's Covid-19 mortality rate.
Most care homes are private and pay mostly minimum wage rates to poorly trained staff. Their lack of PPE provision has been widely reported.
So, the real front line lies at the feet of social care workers at this moment. Deaths of social care workers have risen exponentially, with roughly twice as many deaths from coronavirus than other workers.
The figures for the death rates of non-Covid-19 persons was widely reported in the press, and this has risen sharply as people are fearful of going to hospital even when they have life-threatening symptoms.
What worries me is that, as well as privatisation projects being rushed through, previously busy areas will be closed going forward as it can be 'proved' there is 'no need for them'.
As the lockdown is lifted, and the population starts returning to hospitals, then all services will be put back under tremendous strain. It would stain the government and health officials' copy book if they then had to explain why they have closed wards. Therefore, it's much easier to have the staff on hand to restaff these closed wards if the demand is there.
In the meantime, staff are facing a very insecure work life on top of the fears that they have around their, and their families', safety.
The 'for profit' system in health and social care has proven entirely incapable of protecting patients and staff from this terrible virus, and government strategy has basically sacrificed our elderly population, and failed to protect our often lowest-paid workers.
We must question our whole way of looking after our elderly. We must demand that the private social sector should be nationalised, fully funded, and managed by workers.
An NHS nurse
Management still attacking workers' pay and conditions
The Covid-19 crisis has not stopped management from attacking the rights of health workers.
Those vulnerable workers who are shielding have been told that one of their 12 weeks must be taken as annual leave. Furthermore, because it's not termed 'sick leave', they would not receive their usual enhanced pay for working unsocial hours, which means significant pay cuts for many.
In the Unison union we are fighting this, but it's one indication of the bitter struggle that is likely to dominate the NHS in the near future.
An NHS porter
In The Socialist 11 May 2020:
What we think
Spanish flu 1918
Lessons from history