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From: The Socialist issue 1084, 28 April 2020: WorkersÂ’ safety before bossesÂ’ profits

Search site for keywords: Coronavirus - NHS - Health - Covid - Hospital

Coronavirus

Dispatches from the front: PPE chaos goes on

On workers' memorial day, 28.4.20, in London, photo London SP

On workers' memorial day, 28.4.20, in London, photo London SP   (Click to enlarge)

Furious about deceit over expired PPE

I just found out that the 'FFP3' mask I've been wearing expired in 2012. The other boxes supposedly expired in May 2019. They actually expired in 2016, but stickers have been put over that with 2019. I am furious.

An NHS nurse

Major shortage of gowns as supply chaos continues

Although the South West has not been under the same pressure regarding Covid-19, there is still a crisis in provision of PPE. Most trusts only plan three or four days in advance, reflecting both the lack of equipment and the fragmented distribution system.

In particular, there is a major shortage of protective gowns, a situation that could have serious consequences for the safety of staff. It's clear that the chaotic response to this crisis, and the years of underinvestment in the NHS, combined with privatisation, have led to the unnecessary deaths of many health workers.

An NHS porter

Health staff not to blame for spread of Covid-19

There is much talk in NHS trusts about patients catching Covid in hospital, and how staff must keep up social distancing, handwashing and so on. The implication is that it's staff's fault it's spreading!

This is a real kick in the teeth for staff, but hospital authorities are terrified they are going to get sued at the end of this. We must put the blame were it lies.

Our local trust has made Herculean efforts to make sure we have the right kit and we are safe, repeatedly sending out emails and updates on keeping staff safe, and not doing procedures without full PPE.

Capitalism is only interested in providing healthcare so the bosses have a workforce able to work to produce a profit. The Tories are their representatives in government - they aren't 'protecting' the NHS, they are trying to protect themselves against revolution.

That's why they allowed the NHS in the first place after World War Two. Workers were angry and wanted change. It's going to be the same after the pandemic subsides.

An NHS health professional

Shifting advice on PPE and pressure to return to work

In our trust we've seen changes in advice on when to use gowns. The other week, the staff were told to wear them for certain procedures, but now all of a sudden gowns are not required.

A lot of staff just feel they have to go along with it. Reps have told staff not to carry out examinations if they don't feel safe. Some staff are buying their own gowns.

Other staff, in the private sector, having been sent home for 12 weeks, are having telephone occupational health risk assessments and being asked to return to work. It is often difficult to socially distance in a hospital environment, and having been initially risk-assessed as being vulnerable, the assessment suddenly changes.

Understandably, these members of staff are very worried. They have the 'choice' of taking remaining holiday, or unpaid leave, or returning to work in a precarious work situation.

In Brighton, staff have plenty of PPE and not so many cases. But staff work 12.5-hour shifts with three breaks of 30 mins. It's exhausting and uncomfortable. Wearing the full PPE, you can't have a drink of water for those hours in the get-up.

An NHS imaging worker

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

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