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Author Archives: Vivien Walsh

The Royal College of Nursing, in its super-polite way, has written a letter to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, asking her to make sure that those risking their lives for us in the NHS, should not have to pay punitive extra charges if they become ill themselves. For NHS workers have been surcharged for NHS treatment since 2015, if they have come from overseas. There is a petition “How can we expect nurses to come to Britain and fill our NHS vacancies, risk their lives when they have to pay £11,000 to use – the NHS?” which you can sign […]
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Death Rates in France Tony Cross, formerly of Radio France International (the French equivalent to the BBC World Service), reports from France in www.theravingreporter.com that the number of deaths per day (from all causes, and not just deaths in hospital) has declined from a high point of 600 a day at the beginning of April, to a lower rate than in the previous two years (see the yellow line, compared to the red and blue lines). This is probably due not only to the decline in Covid-19 deaths as a result of the lockdown, but also to the lower rate […]
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THE GOVERNMENT’S DUTY TO KEEP THE PUBLIC SAFE OUTSOURCED TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR HANCOCK INCREASES PRIVATISATION BY STEALTH On Monday, the news broke that contact tracking and tracing (the next stage in managing the pandemic) will be outsourced to the private sector in the form of at least two private call-centre operators, one of which is Serco. They are providing 15,000 or more staff who, after one day of training, will be given a script to follow in conversations with people who have been in contact with confirmed cases of Covid-19. Ministers have been using the pandemic as an excuse […]
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From Vivien Walsh in Manchester Right at the beginning of the lockdown, several of my friends said how concerned they were about the likely impact of enforced social isolation on those who are suffering from domestic abuse. On Monday, the (cross party) Home Affairs Committee of MPs, chaired by Yvette Cooper, reported on this, demanding “that the Government makes domestic violence and abuse a central pillar of the broader strategy to combat the Covid-19 epidemic.” Calls to domestic violence helplines, such as Refuge and Women’s Aid, were nearly 50% higher in the week 6-12 April than the average before the […]
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We are being fed a narrative. The story is that “we are all in it together.” Like the “spirit of the Blitz”. But we are not. The Government is spinning a story to make itself look like the helpless victim of events outside its control, at worst. And in a superhuman flight of fancy, actually IN control at best. Meanwhile it has been systematically cutting NHS funding to the bone, ignored the findings of its own pandemic drill, Exercise Cygnus, and preferentially awarding contracts to firms which are big Tory Party donors, as we have reported in previous blogs. We […]
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News From The Frontline 13.04.20. By Vivien Walsh How the government lies with statistics. BBC news has reported 737 new coronavirus-related hospital deaths in a 24 hour period making the total so far 10,612. In a different report the BBC said that the real figure must be over 1000. These Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) records do not give figures for deaths outside hospital, for example in care homes, nursing homes or people’s own homes. They are only reports for England, not Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland. And they are only cases where COVID-19 is recorded as […]
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On PPE. From a Greater Manchester doctor working on a respiratory ward, unofficially renamed by staff the “Coronavirus Ward”, about protective equipment: “It’s not so much whether there’s enough, it’s what’s being brought in is really poor quality and advice about what constitutes PPE  is changing daily. Loads of my colleagues have already tested positive…… that’s one good thing my hospital is really on it with testing staff.” From a Unison rep in NHS Greater Manchester: “I am worried about members with diabetes, especially type 1. First of all they were listed in the ‘at risk’ group, not quite as […]
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The current crisis has brought to our attention the state of the food industry, from agriculture to supermarket. Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at London City University, published Feeding Britain last week[1]. He says that although Britain is not actually at war, we are nevertheless, in practice, facing a food challenge on a wartime scale. When there was no panic-buying, as we have at the moment, supermarket shelves were usually full. But that hid a highly fragile just-in-time supply chain, with British agriculture only producing about half of what we consume[2]. On top of that, methods of production are […]
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