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The fight against Coronavirus

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  • Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak Excellent interactive New York Times resource with trackers and statistics on the prevalence of Covid infection and the measures to deal with it in every US state and around the world

  • Memorial of Health & Social Care Workers taken by COVID-19 Moving and interactive a digital tribute and memorial by Nursing Notes to the dedicated members of our health and social care family who gave their lives during the fight against Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19).
    NursingNotes is committed to planting a new tree in a protected forest for every single health and social care worker who loses their lives because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Coronavirus: England highest level of excess deaths BBC July 31 report based on latest figures from ONS:
    "The UK saw some of the biggest rises in deaths rates in Europe in the months until the middle of June, official analysis shows.
    "England saw the largest increase in death rates in Europe, with Scotland seeing the third largest increase.
    "The Office for National Statistics says that Spain saw the highest peak in rates of death in Europe.
    "But the UK had the longest period of above-average deaths and so overall saw higher death rates."

  • Last chance to protect the NHS from trade deals We Own It petition seeking to press the House of Lords to amend the trade bill after Tory MPs voted NOT to keep the NHS off the table:
    "Boris Johnson has betrayed the British people. He promised to "take back control" and "keep the NHS off the table", but over 300 of his MPs have voted against parliamentary scrutiny and NHS protection in the Trade Bill debate.
    "We have one last chance at stopping Donald Trump and his healthcare cronies. We need the House of Lords to step up now and protect our NHS.
    "Members of the House of Lords, please amend the Trade Bill to give parliament a say over trade deals and protect our NHS. "

  • A flat tax on the over 40s to pay for care would be deeply regressive and completely unfair July 27 Blog from tax expert Richard Murphy showing why plans that have been floated for a tax on the over-40s could be used to pump extra cash into the collapsing privatised social care system

  • NHS on course to miss major workforce target HSJ July 27 report: "A flagship target to increase the mental health workforce by 19,000 could be missed by nearly half, according to new government figures.
    "As part of a major plan announced in 2017, the government, NHS England and Health Education England announced plans to add 19,000 new NHS mental health jobs by 2020 to 2021, as part of a bid to address severe workforce shortages in the sector.
    "According to a parliamentary answer by mental health minister Nadine Dorries, the workforce increased by 9,500 in the three years from March 2017 to March 2020.
    "If recruitment continues at the same rate — which may prove challenging given the predicted constraints on international recruitment during the covid pandemic — then the number of additional staff would reach around 12,600 by March 2021."

  • Concern for England's mental health patients discharged at start of lockdown Guardian July 26 report: "Nearly 2,500 additional patients were discharged from mental health units across England at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, prompting concern that vulnerable people were released into the community before they were ready.
    "Official data analysed by the charity Mind showed 11,829 patients were discharged from mental health units in March 2020, a sharp rise from 9,836 last year and up by 2,441 from the February before lockdown started. The number of discharges fell back to 8,426 in April.
    "One of the patients released early was a man with severe mental health problems who was now missing in Spain. His family told the Guardian that they believed he was discharged too soon."

  • Over-40s in UK to pay more tax under plans to fix social care crisis Guardian July 26 report: "Everyone over 40 would start contributing towards the cost of care in later life under radical plans being studied by ministers to finally end the crisis in social care, the Guardian can reveal.
    "Under the plan over-40s would have to pay more in tax or national insurance, or be compelled to insure themselves against hefty bills for care when they are older. The money raised would then be used to pay for the help that frail elderly people need with washing, dressing and other activities if still at home, or to cover their stay in a care home.
    "The plans are being examined by Boris Johnson’s new health and social care taskforce and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). They are gaining support as the government’s answer to the politically perilous question of who should pay for social care.
    "Sources say the principle of over-40s meeting the cost of a reformed system of care for the ageing population is emerging as the government’s preferred option for fulfilling the prime minister’s pledge just over a year ago to “fix the crisis in social care once and for all”. "

  • Nearly half of Florida's Covid-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities CNN July 25 report: "In Florida, 46% of all Covid-19 related deaths are linked to long-term care facilities, according to data released by the Florida Department of Health.
    "To date, 2,645 out of 5,777 total deaths are associated with long-term care facilities in the state, health department data shows."

  • Corporate Insiders Pocket $1 Billion in Rush for Coronavirus Vaccine New York Times July 25: “The race is on to develop a coronavirus vaccine, and some companies and investors are betting that the winners stand to earn vast profits from selling hundreds of millions — or even billions — of doses to a desperate public.
    “Across the pharmaceutical and medical industries, senior executives and board members are capitalizing on that dynamic.
    “They are making millions of dollars after announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19. After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies — most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug — have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March, according to figures compiled for The New York Times by Equilar, a data provider.
    “… The sudden windfalls highlight the powerful financial incentives for company officials to generate positive headlines in the race for coronavirus vaccines and treatments, even if the drugs might never pan out.”

  • Ex-chief of scandal-hit hospital now works for group advising NHS on patient safety Shocking Independent July 25 report revealing that a former chief executive who presided over a collapse of quality in care in Shrewsbury and Telford is now making big bucks as a consultant on patient safety:
    "The disgraced former chief executive of hospitals at the centre of the largest maternity scandal in NHS history is working for a major hospital group advising the health service on safety and leadership.
    "Simon Wright was head of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, which is being investigated by the NHS over 1,900 maternity incidents including baby deaths. The trust was rated inadequate and placed into special measures by regulators during Mr Wright’s tenure.
    "He is now working as a “continuous improvement consultant” for the Virginia Mason Institute, which has a five-year contract with NHS England to help improve safety at five NHS trusts, including Shrewsbury and Telford.
    "Mr Wright, who was criticised by regulators in 2018 before resigning last year, describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as having been “a CEO in one of the most successful health systems in the world”. He does not mention the name of the trust."

  • ‘Bizarre’ That Face Masks Are a Partisan Issue, NIH Chief Says Bloomberg report from USA July 19: "It’s “bizarre” that mask-wearing in the U.S. has become so partisan and the “divide between different political perspectives” is making it harder to curb the coronavirus, the director of the National Institutes of Health said.
    "Speaking on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, NIH chief Francis Collins said he didn’t want anybody to think that mask-wearing is “something optional” as the nation attempts to tamp down the Covid-19 outbreak running at record levels.
    “Imagine you were an alien coming to the planet Earth and looking around,” Collins said. “You would be totally astounded, puzzled, amazed ... How could it be that something as basic as a public health action, that we have very strong evidence can help, seems to attach to people’s political party?”

  • Government admits its Test and Trace programme is unlawful Sky News report July 20: "The government has admitted its contact tracing programme is unlawful in a legal letter which confirms it has been running in breach of data protection laws since it was launched in May.
    "Confirmation the programme failed to adhere to privacy regulations comes as Sky News can reveal that contractors working for NHS Test and Trace have been told they may be fired following reports of dozens of staff sharing patients' confidential data on social media.
    "According to the legal letter, the government did not conduct a data privacy impact assessment (DPIA) which is required to ensure that breaches of patients' information don't take place."

  • When Is a Coronavirus Test Not a Coronavirus Test? If it takes 12 days to get results, it’s basically pointless. New York Times July 24 report: "Coronavirus testing in the United States has been bungled in every way imaginable. The latest fiasco is perhaps the most Kafka-esque: Tests are now widely available in many places, but results are often taking so long to come back that it is more or less pointless to get tested.
    "If it takes up to two weeks to get results, we can’t detect brewing outbreaks and respond with targeted shutdowns. We can’t do meaningful contact tracing. We can’t expect people to stay home from work or school for two weeks while they wait for the result of a screen. We have no way to render early treatment and attention to those who test positive, to try to prevent serious illness. It’s a disaster.
    "Many doctors can do a rapid strep test in half an hour, and the “slow” test takes a day. Imagine if it took 12 days before doctors knew whether to prescribe an antibiotic. You’d end up with more cases of meningitis, pneumonia and rheumatic fever. Strep could spread through families and schools like wildfire."

  • UK junk food ad ban 'could force deep cuts on TV channels' Guardian July 24 report reveals the extent to which TV is hooked on junk food, and can apparently only continue if it is allowed to fuel obesity and ill health:
    "British television channels could be forced to make cuts of more than £200m to their programme budgets if the government pushes ahead with plans to impose a blanket ban on junk food advertising.
    "In a further blow to a crisis-hit media industry, ITV would lose about £100m of income if a 9pm, pre-watershed ban is implemented, according to television industry estimates.
    "Channel 4 has estimated that it would lose £40m annually – almost a tenth of its now drastically reduced annual programming budget. Such a move could boost competing subscription services such as Netflix, which do not rely on advertising.
    “We know that the creative industries are already suffering as a result of Covid,” said one senior source at a commercial broadcaster, who said the government risked “kicking away the crutches” of the British television industry.""

  • Victoria's Covid-19 aged care disaster: 'This virus is like a fire out of control' Grim extended July 24 Guardian report on Australia's failing heavily privatised health and social care system: "The disaster unfolding in Victoria’s aged care homes was “absolutely foreseeable”, one of the country’s foremost experts in aged care says.
    "Authorities knew some facilities had poorly trained workers and underpaid part-time or casual staff who had to move between homes to make a living. There’d been overwhelming evidence about the vulnerability of aged care residents internationally. In Sydney, there was the outbreak of Covid-19 at Newmarch House. It was all documented.
    “We got this wrong from the very start,” says Prof Joseph Ibrahim, the head of the health law and ageing research unit at Monash University. The result, he and other experts say, is what is unfolding in Victoria."

  • Put a F**king Mask On! Foul mouthed, but very amusing exhortation from the brilliant Jonathan Pie conveys all the arguments needed to confront the anti-mask brigade -- in under 4 minutes.

  • Boris Johnson ready to curb the scope and power of judicial reviews Telegraph July 24 report on the threat to abolish one of the few options open to campaigners seeking to halt half-baked reconfiguration and closure plans that have been rubber stamped by NHS bureaucrats:
    "Boris Johnson has speeded up plans to curb the judiciary after axing a manifesto pledge to hold a commission on changing the way the courts operate.
    "The Prime Minister is expected to announce next week that he has set up a panel to examine the issue of judicial reviews, which were successfully used to overturn his decision to prorogue Parliament last year.
    "Mr Johnson believes the courts have become increasingly politicised and are being used to “conduct politics by another means” and wants to define in law what they can and cannot be used to challenge."

  • New £100m NHS intensive care unit shut over fire safety fears Guardian July 22: "A newly built £100m intensive care unit at an NHS hospital has been closed after it failed fire safety checks, leading to seriously ill patients being moved out.
    "King’s College hospital in south London has had to shut the critical care unit after its own engineers and the London fire brigade identified problems that could potentially make it unsafe.
    "The trust has declared a critical incident over the closure, which has been prompted by fears that panels on the outside of the unit could make it easier for a fire to spread.
    "The critical care unit only opened in April and is the biggest and most advanced facility of its kind in the NHS. It has played a key part in helping King’s manage an influx of seriously ill Covid-19 patients.
    "It holds up to 56 patients, and is understood to have had about 30 when the critical incident was declared on Wednesday morning. They are being moved to other parts of the hospital, including a critical care ward that had been closed for refurbishment."

  • Texas Covid-19 hot spot is facing a 'tsunami' of patients, overwhelming hospitals CNN July 22 report on the new surge of Covid infection in Texas: ""It's a tsunami what we're seeing right now," said Dr. Federico Vallejo, a critical care pulmonologist. Vallejo said he's treating nearly 50 to 60 patients a day. Sometimes he takes care of 70. "Normally, a critical care doctor sees about 15 to 20 patients during a rotation for a critical care doctor, according to Vallejo.
    "Vallejo said walking through the hallways at the hospital is a "massive shock," and he worries about the mental health of his colleagues who are overwhelmed with the sheer number of patients. "It's not easy to handle something like this."
    "The situation has grown so dire that Hidalgo County officials threatened this week to criminally prosecute people who don't quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19. Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez issued a shelter-at-home order for all residents starting Wednesday.
    "The order includes a curfew, travel limitations and facial covering requirements and comes as the county's hospitals have hit capacity, Cortez said."

  • Above-inflation pay rise for almost 900,000 public sector workers BBC July 21 report which finally gets round to admitting the lack of any new post-Covid pay rise for most health workers: "“Almost 900,000 public sector workers are to get an above-inflation pay rise, including doctors and teachers. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he recognised their "vital contribution" during the coronavirus pandemic.
    “The Treasury said the money for the pay increases of up to 3.1% would come from existing departmental budgets.
    “But Labour said the rise would not make up for years of real-terms cuts and the British Medical Association said doctors had hoped for "far better".
    “… Nurses are not included in Tuesday's announcement because they negotiated a separate three-year deal in 2018. The rise does also not apply to junior doctors, who agreed a new four-year pay deal last year.”

  • Make masks compulsory in GP surgeries to reduce Covid-19 risk, BMA urges Guardian July 21 report: "Face masks should be compulsory in GP surgeries to minimise the spread of Covid-19, according to one of the top representative bodies for doctors.
    "The British Medical Association said that compelling people to cover their face while in shops or on public transport but not in a GP practice is “illogical” and “makes no sense”.
    "It wants the government to change the law to make that mandatory, as they have already done after disagreements between ministers over their approach – for those other settings.
    “'The BMA is clear that face coverings should be mandatory in all situations where physical distancing of more than 2 metres is not possible. It makes no sense that the government has introduced one measure for shops and public transport, while other indoor spaces, including GP practices, are exempt'."

  • Coronavirus: NHS nurses told 'lives would be made hell' BBC July 21 report lifts the lid on an outrageous bullying regime in Nottingham's University Hospital: "Hospital nurses were told their "lives would be made hell" if they complained over conditions on a coronavirus ward, a union has claimed.
    "Unison has raised a group grievance for 36 employees, most of them nurses, at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust.
    "It said staff on the Queen's Medical Centre ward were not trained properly, faced bullying for raising concerns and denied PPE "as punishment".
    "The trust said the allegations were "very troubling".
    "The union said the staff, which included nurses, senior nurses and healthcare assistants, volunteered to work on the hospital's only ward dealing with end-of-life coronavirus patients."

  • Covid-19: test all health and care workers weekly, says UK scientist Guardian July 21 begins: "All health and care staff should be routinely tested for Covid-19 once or twice a week, according to one of the UK’s most eminent scientists, Sir Paul Nurse, whose team’s research suggests 45% of staff were infected with coronavirus at the peak of the pandemic in England, most of whom showed no symptoms.
    "Giving evidence to the Commons health and social care select committee, Nurse, who turned the Crick Institute he heads into a testing laboratory, said his team had told ministers that frequent, routine testing was essential to ensure the safety of health and care staff and give the public the confidence to go into hospitals."

  • No new pay rise for nurses, confirms Downing Street Nursing Notes July 21 report: "The Treasury has revealed that nearly 900,000 public sector workers are to get a pay rise, with teachers and doctors seeing the largest rise at 3.1% and 2.8% respectively “recognising their efforts on the frontline during the battle against COVID-19”.
    "NHS staff working on the frontlines to battle COVID-19 and paid under the Agenda for Change terms and conditions are surprisingly missing from the new pay arrangements.
    "In an announcement made today, the Treasury claims this is because there is already a settlement in place for “for more than one million NHS workers who continue to benefit from the three-year Agenda for Change pay deal, under which the starting pay for a newly qualified nurse has increased by over 12% since 2017/18.”
    "It goes on to proclaim that the average nurse will “receive an average 4.4% rise this year”.
    "In stark contrast to the claim, the vast majority of frontline nurses received just 1.65% in April this year – the last rise of a multi-year pay deal which saw the average take-home salary of a Band 5 nurse rise by just 7%."

  • Covid conspiracies and confusions: the impact on compliance with the UK’s lockdown rules and the link with social media use A frightening survey of UK public views, highlighting the extent of conspiracy theories and the impact of fake news and false information transmitted via social media:
    "3 in 10 think coronavirus was probably created in a lab, up from a quarter at the beginning of April.
    • 3 in 10 think most people in the UK have already had coronavirus without realising it.
    • 3 in 10 believe the Covid-19 death toll is being deliberately reduced or hidden by the authorities.
    • 1 in 7 believe the death toll is being deliberately exaggerated by the authorities.
    • 1 in 8 believe that the current pandemic is part of a global effort to force everyone to be vaccinated.
    • More than 1 in 20 believe that the symptoms that most people blame on Covid-19 appear to be connected to 5G network radiation.
    • More than 1 in 20 believe there is no hard evidence that Covid-19 really exists"

  • Cheap, popular and it works: Ireland's contact-tracing app success Guardian July 20 report: "A government minister once compared Ireland’s health care system to Angola – a political minefield of dysfunction, bureaucracy, waste and inefficiency. The nickname stuck.
    "Yet this morass has just produced a shiny success: a Covid-19 contact-tracing app that is popular and appears to work.
    "Since launching on 6 July, the Covid Tracker app was downloaded 1.3m times in eight days – the fastest-downloaded app per capita in Europe – and has started picking up cases of infection.
    “We’ve been delighted by the take-up rate. It’s gone beyond the initial hopes,” said Colm Harte, the technical director of NearForm, the company that made the app for the Health Service Executive (HSE)."

  • England's test and trace programme 'breaks GDPR data law' BBC July 20: "Privacy campaigners say England's test and trace programme has broken a key data protection law.
    "The Department of Health has conceded the initiative to trace contacts of people infected with Covid-19 was launched without carrying out an assessment of its impact on privacy.
    "The Open Rights Group (ORG) says the admission means the initiative has been unlawful since it began on 28 May."

  • Coronavirus outbreak confirmed at NHS Test and Trace centre in North Lanarkshire London Evening Standard July 20 unusually aware of events in Scotland that reveal what appears to be unsafe practices by contractors running test and trace call centre:
    "A cluster of coronavirus infections has been confirmed at an NHS Test and Trace call centre in North Lanarkshire.
    "Measures have been brought in by the region’s health board to try and suppress the outbreak, which flared up at the Sitel site in Motherwell.
    "NHS Lanarkshire said it had been notified about “potentially linked cases” of Covid-19 infections in the area on Sunday.
    "An NHS Test and Trace spokeswoman said: “We are aware of a local outbreak of Covid-19 at the Sitel site in Motherwell. This is being managed by Sitel and colleagues in NHS Lanarkshire, who are following appropriate test and protect action in line with Scottish Government advice."

  • England’s chief nurse confirms she was ‘dropped’ from No 10 press conference after voicing Dominic Cummings criticism Independent July 20: "England’s chief nursing officer has confirmed she was “dropped” from a No 10 coronavirus press briefing in June after warning Dominic Cummings should follow the lockdown rules that apply “to us all”.
    "It comes after The Independent revealed last month Ruth May had been due to appear alongside Matt Hancock, the health secretary, but was ditched after failing to offer support to Boris Johnson’s senior Downing Street adviser.
    "In her first public comments on the incident, the chief nursing officer confirmed the report and said it was “regular occurrence” that expert colleagues advising the government had also been stood down from daily briefings during the pandemic.
    "Seizing on Ms May’s comments, Labour said it was “scandalous” that England’s most senior nurse, who appeared at various briefings before being dropped, was silenced because “she wasn’t prepared to parrot Downing Street spin” in relation to Mr Cummings."

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