The Covid-19 pandemic is a world social crisis which touches every aspect of life. The iniquities and failings of the capitalist system are being exposed, and workers and communities are organising in response.

Send us your comments, reports, anecdotes and thoughts, in not more than 200 words (we reserve the right to shorten letters), to [email protected]

Cuts and lockdown damage mental health services

photo Ryan Melaugh/CC

photo Ryan Melaugh/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The lockdown could worsen people’s mental health. Various capitalist commentators have periodically expressed this, but usually cynically to argue for an end to the lockdown.

People are told that GPs and talking therapies are still available online and by phone. This ignores the mental health crisis, completely inadequate funding, and lack of availability before coronavirus.

Therapies are ‘still available’ on the basis that they were available before. There has been no extra money for NHS mental health services.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) guidelines say that you get the cheapest therapy first, anti-depressants, and only something else if that proves not to work.

Nice says that counselling is ‘not proven to be effective’. You have to fight to get talking therapies, when the last thing you are able to do is fight. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be offered, but only for seven weeks.

The last time I had CBT, it was going quite well until the 6th week. My counsellor asked why my weekly questionnaire scores weren’t improving if the sessions were helping.

I realised that the next week was the 7th week and they wanted me off the books. I did get nine sessions in the end. I was lucky.

I referred myself and had to fill in a long questionnaire, and then have a two-hour telephone assessment. I was told I could have face-to-face CBT, but I would have to wait 14 weeks.

In the end I waited eight. But in other areas, it’s up to a year.

When lockdown came, my long-established coping mechanisms for mental health issues were no longer possible. Even if I thought talking therapy would help, if I applied now it would be months before I got it. With no additional resources and increased demand, waiting times would be even longer.

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the poor state of mental health services after years of austerity and cuts. Full funding of the NHS must include proper funding of mental health services.

Clare Wilkins, Nottingham Socialist Party

Obituary: Sandra Ayliffe A care worker never afraid to stand up

Our friend and comrade, Sandra Ayliffe, has died from coronavirus.

Sandra was a shop steward for public sector union Unison in a Surrey care home, until her retirement ten years ago. She was a militant trade unionist and a proud member of the Socialist Party, even though she was unable to be active due to poor health in the last few years.

Sandra fought many battles on behalf of her members and was never afraid to challenge management. She was once suspended for speaking up against bullying managers.

I was proud to represent her and pleased to say all charges were dropped, the case dismissed, and the managers removed. She would have been a key line of defence for all care workers during this crisis, if she was still working.

She was part of Surrey County Unison’s delegation to conference twice. She was called to speak once. 100 yards from the rostrum, she virtually ran all the way there – she had difficulty walking, let alone running, due to her asthma. When she got to the mic, she let out a long sigh, the subtitles on the big screens just said ‘ooooooooooooooooooooh’. From that day on, she was known as Mrs Oh by the other delegates there.

The bosses can rest a little easier now that Mrs Oh is no longer with us. You will be missed Sandra but your legacy will go on.

Paul Couchman, Surrey County Unison (in a very personal capacity) and Socialist Party

Social care: Even Tories swayed by nationalisation

As has been reported in the Socialist (see ‘Care homes coronavirus scandal: blood on their hands’ at, the anarchic nature of England’s social care set-up – around 18,500 separate providers – has been brutally exposed during this crisis.

Profits are creamed off by private providers, who pay lip service to the health and welfare of residents and staff. While charitable organisations in the sector are run on shoestring budgets, which mean PPE and decent wages are in very short supply.

But crises make strange bedfellows. Tory peer Baroness Altmann has called life in the sector “a game of financial pass the parcel, where hedge fund companies cash in on company debts” – capitalism, for short.

She added: “With Covid-19, the sector has come crashing down because it’s not integrated into the health service… it’s possible we may need to nationalise the sector.” If only the public sector trade union leaders would come out with such demands.

Glynn Doherty

My bus company: Profit before safety

My local bus company, Keighley Bus Company (KBC), has broken every regulation under social distancing. KBC knows full well it is breaking social-distancing rules, but will not run more buses, because it will cost it money.

Many local people use the buses – a majority are over 60 years of age. They have no choice but to use packed, overcrowded buses.

KBC will not issue full PPE to its bus drivers. Over half have no protection, shield or masks.

Not only are they putting their lives at risk driving long hours, but also their passengers and the general public. KBC don’t give a damn if people in Keighley catch Covid-19. As long as they make a financial profit out of the lockdown, they couldn’t care less.

It’s about time public transport was put into public ownership and the likes of KBC were name and shamed. The negligence to their customers will cost someone’s life.

Mark Sayers, Keighley, West Yorkshire

Privatisation kills

Newsnight reports that so many care home staff work for agencies and don’t get sick pay. This is a factor in the excessive death rates in care homes.

Privatisation and the driving down of labour costs have killed thousands of elderly people before their time. There’s one word for this: Murder.

Nancy Taaffe, Waltham Forest, London

Neil Ferguson

Government scientist Neil Ferguson resigned after breaking lockdown rules. The question is, why did the Telegraph stake out the home of the country’s leading epidemiologist – the main proponent of the lockdown? Ferguson’s resignation makes it much easier to lift the lockdown, and start profits flowing again for the bosses.

Dave Reid, Cardiff