- 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.
- (31 Mar 2022) Why is the UK seeing near-record Covid cases? We still believe the three big myths about Omicron Important Guardian article March 30 begins:
"We’re living in two realities: one in which people have returned to living life as if Covid is over, and the other in which we are approaching record levels of infections, with an estimated 4.26m cases last week. Most of us know people who have Covid, work and education are being disrupted, and the NHS is under severe pressure again due to new patients and sick staff. Admissions with Covid are only 2% below the first Omicron peak two months ago and still rising. "
- (31 Mar 2022) Nation’s mental health hampered by Commons’ rejection of workforce amendment Royal College of Psychiatrists (March 31) joins the chorus of bodies and individuals slamming the government's refusal to take the NHS workforce crisis seriously:
“Despite a strong campaign by the College and over 100 other organisations, the House of Commons has rejected an amendment requiring the Government to publish regular independently verified assessments of current and future workforce numbers.
“The amendment to the Health and Care Bill requires the Secretary of State to report every two years: …
“Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“We’re disappointed that the House of Commons has rejected this crucial amendment. The nation’s mental health relies on long-term planning, yet successive governments have failed to take decisive action to tackle staff shortages.
“If the NHS is to avoid lurching from one crisis to another, health leaders must be able to predict where doctors, nurses and care staff are most urgently needed.”
- (27 Mar 2022) Government paid firm linked to Tory peer £122m for PPE bought for £46m Guardian March 27 with another revelation of the scale of gross profiteering from crony contracts:
"PPE the government bought for £122m from a company linked to the Tory peer Michelle Mone was purchased from the Chinese manufacturer for just £46m.
"The extraordinary profits apparently made by PPE Medpro and its partners in the supply chain are revealed in documents leaked to the Guardian, including contracts and an inspection report for sterile surgical gowns supplied by the firm.
"Despite being bought at the start of the pandemic and delivered in 2020, the 25m gowns were never used by the NHS after government officials rejected them following an inspection."
- (27 Mar 2022) Coronavirus keeps 200,000 pupils out of school as infection levels near record highs Canary article March 27:
“Some 200,000 children are off school in England due to coronavirus (Covid-19), the education secretary said. He also promised more details on rapid testing this week when universal free provision is stopped. It comes as infection levels have approached record highs in England.
“Nadhim Zahawi said further information about lateral flow tests will be set out on 1 April, when mass free testing will end in England. The government has said free tests will only be made available to the most vulnerable. But an education union has said removing free access when coronavirus cases are high “feels irresponsible”.”
- (24 Mar 2022) Private emails reveal Gove’s role in Tory-linked firm’s PPE deals Guardian March 24:
“Michael Gove was secretly involved in the process through which a PPE company linked to the Tory peer Michelle Mone secured huge government contracts, according to newly released documents that show private emails being used for government business.
“The correspondence threatens to embroil Gove in the deepening controversy surrounding PPE Medpro, the company awarded government contracts worth £203m after it was referred to the “high-priority lane” for well connected companies.
“They will also add to the growing scepticism over Lady Mone’s repeated insistence that she was not involved with the company, and cast further doubt on statements made on her behalf by her lawyers.”
- (24 Mar 2022) 1.3 million Brits will be pushed into absolute poverty next year, think tank claims Politics.co.uk March 24 focusing on the impact of the budget on the poorest, which will inevitably rebound also on their health and future demand for the NHS:
“Progressive think tank the Resolution Foundation have accused the chancellor of failing to deliver on his promises to cut taxes and help families in yesterday’s Spring Statement.
“The analysis claims that the scale of the cost of living squeeze is such that typical working-age household incomes are to set to fall by 4 per cent in real-terms next year (2022-23), a loss of £1,100, while the largest falls will be among the poorest quarter of households where incomes are set to fall by 6 per cent.
“The report also estimates that absolute poverty will rise by 1.3 million, including 500,000 children – the first time Britain has seen such a rise outside of recessions.”
- (24 Mar 2022) The Messenger Review of health and social care leadership: what must it address? NHS Confederation March 24 with a report anticipating a new review of NHS leadership by a former general – but studiously avoiding any mention of the dire shortage of capital and revenue funding to get services back on track and the government and NHS England’s abject failure to address the staffing problems with 110,000 vacant posts and the immediate threat of a real terms pay cut for the 1 million staff in post:
“The review should emphasise the new operating environment we are moving into through integrated care systems (ICSs) and place-based partnerships. The focus on integration, collaboration and more blurred organisational boundaries will require different leadership characteristics than those incentivised by a system driven by marketisation and competition. The review should address and begin to explore the new skills and systems-focused mindset that will need to be ‘hard-wired’ into those in leadership positions within the NHS – much of which is already in evidence across the country.
“Key to developing effective system leadership will be establishing a culture of learning and improvement, with less emphasis on top-down performance management.”
- (23 Mar 2022) Did the COVID lockdowns work? Here’s what we know two years on Article in The Conversation March 23 notes:
“Despite substantial variability across countries, there’s little doubt that lockdowns successfully slowed COVID’s spread in spring 2020, reducing cases in the first wave. There’s enough evidence to show that countries and regions that quickly introduced substantial and multiple restrictions also had fewer cases and deaths. Compare New Zealand’s and the UK’s responses.
“In both cases the introduction of lockdown regulations resulted in a rapid drop in mobility. Reported cases peak soon after. Deaths in turn took another week or two to respond.
“But New Zealand responded very quickly to its first reported case, with its lockdown introduced well before the first death in the country. Its resulting case numbers and deaths were low. In contrast, the UK delayed its lockdown response until almost two weeks after its first death.”
- (23 Mar 2022) The claim that the NHS ‘coped’ with Covid is not true - it’s drowning and damaged Rachel Clarke article in The Guardian March 23:
“The truth is, Covid caused a collapse of healthcare as we know it – in both the first and subsequent waves. The NHS was overwhelmed.…
“NHS staff threw everything they had at increasing ICU capacity, but England’s starting point was only 4,000 critical care beds – one of the lowest numbers per head of any country in Europe. …
“The service did not cope so much as shut down. In the frantic scramble to claw together as many ventilated beds as possible, surgical procedures in their thousands were cancelled. Cancers were left undiagnosed. Vulnerable patients dug in at home, too fearful or obedient to present to hospital. …
“As for that “protective ring” Matt Hancock would later try to claim he threw around care homes, it was pure fiction. We all know what really happened to care home residents. Ignored and overlooked, they died in their thousands, not so much “cocooned” – as the government claimed – but incarcerated with Covid.”
- (22 Mar 2022) Stop the decline: NHS needs £20bn now Pre-spring statement article by HCT Editor John Lister in Labour Outlook March 22:
“Rishi Sunak’s spending review last October boasted of an increase in funding averaging 3.8 percent in the next three years: but this is barely the amount needed just to keep pace with rising costs and increased demand, and does nothing to address the backlog of under-funding.
“Much of the increase is already being wiped out by soaring energy bills and cost inflation. Even more would be eaten up by any significant pay award to 1 million-plus NHS staff, since even the miserly 2-3% increase proposed by the government is not fully funded, and inflation is expected to hit 8%.
“Sunak even told health secretary Sajid Javid there’s no money for a further round of booster jabs to fight Covid without making cuts in other services.
“But for the ‘extra’ money it has been given the NHS is somehow also expected to cut waiting lists and deliver 30% more elective treatment by 2024-25 than before the pandemic.
“Last autumn, just after Sunak had announced the “settlement,” an NHS Confederation survey found almost 90% of trust bosses already believed the pressures on their organisation had become ‘unsustainable,’ putting patient safety at risk, and that the NHS was at a “tipping point.” Since then it’s all got much worse.”
- (22 Mar 2022) Covid: Pupil absence more than triples in two weeks TES report March 22 on a resurgence of Covid in schools
“The Department for Education's latest attendance data, published today, reveals that Covid-related pupil absence in all state-funded schools rose from 58,000 on 3 March (0.7 per cent) to 202,000 (2.5 per cent) on 17 March.
“Covid-related pupil absences rose faster in primary settings, increasing by 264 per cent (from 33,200 to 120,900) in just a fortnight. …
“The data also revealed that almost one in 10 teachers and school leaders (48,000) were absent for any reason on 17 March.
“This figure has risen by 55 per cent in two weeks, compared with 3 March, when 31,000 (5.8 per cent) were absent.”
- (22 Mar 2022) NHS campaigners to deliver 170,000-strong petition to Downing Street calling for increased funding Morning Star article March 22:
“HEALTH workers and campaigners from the alliance SOS NHS are set to join MPs on Tuesday to deliver a petition of over 170,000 signatures to Downing Street.
“The petition calls on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to deliver increased NHS funding ahead of the spring Budget on Wednesday.
“Campaigners hope to raise awareness of the urgent need for extra money to help the NHS recover from the pandemic and obtain fairer pay for health workers during a recruitment and retention crisis.”
- (21 Mar 2022) NHS told to double efficiency in ‘crackdown’ on ‘wasteful’ spending Nursing Notes March 21:
“The NHS has had its efficiency targets doubled in a Treasury “crackdown” on “wasteful” spending. In an announcement over the weekend, Chancellor Rishi Sunak committed to reducing “wasteful” spending across all public sectors.
“… The plans include doubling the current NHS savings target to 2.2%, with a target of making £4.75 billion in savings, the chancellor claims.
“… Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the [NHS Confederation], warned; “Efficiency is strongly linked to capacity and the NHS is operating at well over the occupancy levels it would want to. You can’t run a highly efficient service with bed occupancy levels at such a continued high level.”
- (21 Mar 2022) Mental health trust blames Covid for failures over Norwich student’s death Eastern Daily Press March 21 with yet another failure of care from the Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust:
“A mental health trust has admitted a Norwich student did not receive the help she needed in the months before she took her own life.
“Tobi Stevens, 19, a publishing design student at Norwich University of the Arts, was found dead on December 4, 2020, at her flat at New Mills Yard after friends became concerned for her welfare.
… “Assistant coroner Johanna Thompson said … “Tobi was in the system but she was not flagged as urgent,” she said. “By the time she was eventually seen she was assessed as being at medium risk of suicide and at high risk of misadventure.”
“The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) carried out an internal investigation which found a number of failures in her assessment and treatment, the inquest heard.”
- (18 Mar 2022) UK hospitals ranked from best to worst across the country - see list in full Mirror report March 18 on a rather mysterious study of UK hospitals by the American-owned magazine Newsweek, with no explanation of the criteria on which they have been compared. The high rating of Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital seems to suggest that long waiting times for treatment are not taken into account: the trust has the worst waiting lists in the country.
“During the past two years, UK hospitals have been at the front line of the fight against Covid-19 with a time of huge upheaval, change and adaption for many medical institutions, with some faring better than others.
Now Newsweek has completed a study in which the hospitals have been ranked from best to worse.
The best ranked is St Thomas' Hospital in London while the worst ranked is Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Devon.”
- (18 Mar 2022) Ahead of the spring statement, let’s keep fighting to end Tory privatisation and under-funding in our NHS HCT Editor John Lister's speech to March 16 SOSNHS campaign rally, reproduced in Labour Outlook (March 18)
“Real terms Tory cuts in spending every year since 2010 have left an enormous financial hole to fill. That’s why SOSNHS is calling out the government’s deliberate under-funding. Now, in every plan that comes forward, the government are using lack of NHS capacity as a justification for ever greater spending on private hospitals and private providers.
“Spending on private providers went up a staggering 26% in 2020 – £2.5bn – in a year as contracts were signed with private hospitals which we know were rotten value for money.
“The private hospitals pocketed profits – while 5,000 NHS beds have remained unused since March 2020 for lack of cash to remodel wards and buildings for social distancing and infection control.”
- (17 Mar 2022) ‘Betting against the NHS’: £1bn private hospital to open in central London Guardian March 17 with a report on an extravagant new US-owned private hospital being completed in London that seems aimed at capturing a slice of the lucrative health tourism business from the NHS as Covid restrictions on travel are lifted, rather than treating NHS patients at much lower rates:
“A new 184-bed private hospital is about to open in London, the second-largest in the capital, where patients will enjoy views of Buckingham Palace and will be treated by doctors understood to be paid up to £350,000 a year.
“… The opening of the Ohio-based Cleveland Clinic’s first London hospital at the end of this month comes at a time when the private health sector is booming. With 29 intensive care unit beds and eight operating theatres staffed by 1,200 people, the eight-storey site – estimated by analysts to have cost £1bn – will add to concerns about the emergence of a two-tier healthcare system.”
- (17 Mar 2022) Dying patients living longer than expected lose NHS funds BBC News story (March 17) that really should not shock us any more, but still does, not least in the casual cynicism of the NHS response:
“More than 1,300 patients a year are having NHS funding for their palliative care withdrawn after living longer than expected, BBC analysis shows.
“Terminally-ill or rapidly-declining patients are given fast-track support, allowing them to live outside hospital.
“From 2018 to 2021, a total of 9,037 people had this funding reviewed in England and Wales, with 47% of them losing all support.
“The NHS said patient eligibility was assessed in line with government rules.”
- (14 Mar 2022) Shropshire hospitals trust declares another critical incident BBC report March 14 raises yet again the question of how the Trust expects to cope if they ever get the funding to carry through their “Future Fit” project to centralise emergency services in Shrewsbury:
“The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said it was pausing "a very limited number" of non-urgent services, after "exceptionally high" demand.
Urgent services, including cancer, and time-critical procedures will continue.
"The trust, which apologised, asked people to attend appointments unless they were contacted to reschedule.
"Chief Operating Officer Nigel Lee said the trust had seen a "continued high level of demand" and had been particularly busy since Saturday, especially in A&E."
- (16 Feb 2022) Matt Hancock broke rules with Dido Harding Covid appointment, court finds Independent report Feb 16 begins:
“Former health secretary Matt Hancock broke equality law when appointing Conservative peer Dido Harding to an emergency health job during the Covid crisis, the High Court has ruled.
“Judges ruled that then-health secretary Matt Hancock failed to comply with public sector equality duty in the process of appointing Baroness Harding and her ex-Sainsbury colleague Mike Coupe to senior posts in 2020.
“It marks a victory for the Runnymede Trust following the think tank’s legal battle over appointments – having argued that the jobs were handed out without fair competition.”
- (15 Feb 2022) Doctors' concerns about the future of Medicare Feb 15 letter to US health Secretary Xavier Becerra from American campaigners Physicians for a National Health Program, warning of the dangers of implementing Trump-era reforms that could further privatise the publicly-funded Medicare system:
“We are a group of 24,000 physicians and other health professionals who are deeply concerned about a threat to Traditional Medicare (TM). The Direct Contracting (DC) pilot program, initiated under President Trump but continued under President Biden, is handing control of TM beneficiaries’ health care to third-party middlemen called Direct Contracting Entities (DCEs); DCEs include firms controlled by commercial insurers, for-profit hospital and dialysis chains, and private equity investors.
“…Because of the industry influence during the program’s development, as well as the dangerous incentives for DCEs to earn greater profits by restricting patient care, we believe that superficial tweaks and cosmetic changes will not alter DC’s fundamental flaws.”
- (15 Feb 2022) Covid impact in poorer areas of England and Wales ‘worse than first thought’ Guardian Feb 15 article highlighting a new research report:
“Comparing the number of deaths during the pandemic with data from previous years can shed light on its impact, researchers said, but looking at excess deaths alone underestimates years of life lost and does not account for the differences in ages at which people die in different social groups.
“In the new study, led by the University of Manchester, researchers measured years of life lost attributable to the pandemic – directly or indirectly, as well as excess deaths. Years of life lost is a strong measure of premature mortality because it takes into account both the number of deaths and the age at which they occur.
“The findings of the new analysis are striking, researchers say, and suggest the true toll of the pandemic has been even deadlier in poorer areas than initially thought. …
“Between March and December 2020, 1,645 years of life were lost per 100,000 of the population in the most deprived areas of England and Wales. In the most affluent areas, 916 years of life were lost per 100,000 people. The figures mean that almost twice as many years of life were lost in the very poorest areas of the country compared with the wealthiest.”
- (15 Feb 2022) Doctors call for action not words from NHS in response to racial inequality report Guardian Feb 15 report on continued inaction:
“The Guardian revealed how a damning study – the largest of its kind – had found “vast” and “widespread” inequity in every aspect of healthcare it reviewed, and warned that this was harming the health of minority ethnic patients in England.
“In response, an NHS spokesperson said the health service was “already taking action” to improve the experiences of patients and access to services and was working “to drive forward” the recommendations made in the report.
“However, Dr JS Bamrah, a consultant psychiatrist in Greater Manchester and national chairman of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, said he was unsatisfied with the response.
“‘This 166-page review … is a terrible indictment of the current state of the NHS,” he told the Guardian. “As many of us have often said and reported, we don’t need any further reports. It’s action we need, as there are scores of patients who are not getting optimal treatment, and many are being neglected’.”
- (15 Feb 2022) Free PCR tests to end 'in weeks' with new £100 fees to hit Brits, claim reports Mirror report Feb 15:
“Boris Johnson will end free PCR tests "within weeks" and is drawing up plans to make the public pay £100 to find out if they have Covid, it is reported.
“Part of the new approach of living with Covid, the new costs will come in as the Treasury pushes to save billions of pounds by scrapping free testing.
“Vulnerable people and those in hospital will continue to get the testing for free.
“The government is looking at different options about a new system this week before making a final call, say reports.
“The Prime Minister is keen to get rid of all Covid restrictions, including the need to self-isolate, by the end of February.”
- (14 Feb 2022) Why numbers matter Another excellent BMJ blog by Dr Helen Salisbury, Feb 14, warns:
“Just as measuring something can highlight its importance, failure to do so can suggest the opposite. And ceasing to measure something that used to be regularly monitored and reported sends a strong message.
“Since we’re no longer required to do a confirmatory PCR test after a positive lateral flow, the only reliable count of covid-19 infections in the UK now comes from a weekly survey by the Office for National Statistics.
“Last week we learnt that not only does the government intend to stop publishing daily coronavirus statistics but the survey itself may be stopped in April—meaning that we’ll be flying blind as to the prevalence of infection, the emergence of mutations, and the ongoing risk to our vulnerable patients.”
- (12 Feb 2022) Next Covid strain could kill many more, warn scientists ahead of England restrictions ending Guardian Feb 12:
“A future variant of Covid-19 could be much more dangerous and cause far higher numbers of deaths and cases of serious illness than Omicron, leading UK scientists have warned.
“As a result, many of them say that caution needs to be taken in lifting the last Covid restrictions in England, as Boris Johnson plans to do next week.
“At the same time, demands are growing for Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, the government’s most senior advisers on Covid, to hold a press conference to reveal what evidence there was to back the decision to end all pandemic restrictions.
“The dangers posed by accepting the widespread assumption that Covid-19 variants would continue to get milder in their impact was highlighted by epidemiologist Prof Mark Woolhouse, of Edinburgh University.”
- (30 Jan 2022) PPE worth £2.7bn bought for NHS will go unused, minister says Guardian Jan 30:
“Almost 5bn items of personal protective equipment worth £2.7bn will be wasted as they are no longer needed or cannot safeguard NHS staff, ministers have revealed.
“The huge sum of money involved has prompted the Liberal Democrats to accuse the government of “extreme negligence on an industrial scale” in its use of public funds during the pandemic.
“The revelation came in a written parliamentary answer by the health minister Edward Argar.…
“Argar said the government’s PPE programme had ordered more than 36.4bn items since the pandemic struck in March 2020. “Of this, approximately 3.4bn units are currently identified as potential excess stock. The estimated price for those items is £2.2bn,” he said. The minister did not explain why so much PPE had ended up as “potential excess stock”, or define precisely what that meant.”
- (29 Jan 2022) GPs nationalised in Javid plan to reduce hospital admissions (£) Headline of Times report Jan 29 is both exaggerated and accelerated, but indicates a clueless Health Secretary unaware of the damage he could do by further annoying and frustrating the GPs who have held primary care together through the pandemic:
“GPs would be nationalised under plans from the health secretary to make them do more to keep patients out of hospital.
“Sajid Javid is considering radical changes to the 70-year-old structure of the NHS that could see many family doctors directly employed by hospitals instead of running their own surgeries.
“ … A review of primary care planned by Javid will look at how to better integrate GPs with hospital care as part of attempts to do more to stop people developing serious illness.
“Sources insisted there would be no forcible state takeover of GPs, who are likely instead to be given incentives to link up with hospital trusts.”
- (28 Jan 2022) Care home residents found 'shivering' with some patients bathed 'once a week' Daily Record January 28 from Lancs Live report on grim conditions at a Southport care home:
"Care home residents were found to be "shivering" due to a lack of heating with some only bathed once a week, an inspection report has found.
"The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said that staff morale was also at "rock bottom" and blamed a failure in management and staff shortages for the list of issues.
"Dale Park Care Home in Southport was visited by inspectors in November 2021, with the home suffering from 'inadequate' leadership and deemed as requiring improvement, as reported by Lancs Live.
"… A spokesperson for Dale Park and HC-One Ltd apologised for the failures at the home and said that with a new management team in place, steps were being taken to make "urgent improvements."
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