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Class War Daily 20 April 2020: An open letter to Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care in the #UK

UK. What follows is an open letter to Matt Hancock by Tammy Samede, Live-in Social Care Worker for the Elderly and Dementia and a second article from the Class War Daily from April 20, 2020: NYE Bevan was right – The Tories are scum.

Original published by Class War Daily (PDF file)

Read the full edition of Class War Daily Monday 22 April 2020: here (pdf file).

“Dear Matt,

As someone currently working in social care I am utterly dismayed, confused and angry about the way you are mishandling the needs of our elderly and their carers.

I am currently isolating an 86 year old vulnerable dementia client in her own home, and carrying out strict infection control. I am aware that this virus is sneaky and no matter what I do, she may still catch it. I am disgusted to be informed by the GP surgery that should she show symptoms, a GP will refuse to attend her at home. That I must nurse her until she is struggling to breathe, that an ambulance is unlikely to attend because of her age, that she would not be tested for COVID 19, and that I will have to carry out her end of life care, therefore.

I also would no doubt contract coronavirus with my flimsy gloves and apron and mask. And if I got sick, I would have to continue to isolate and nurse her on my knees because I would receive no help or test either.

It is only a short while ago since people like me were called unskilled. Yet, I am skilled enough to be responsible for elderly people’s lives and to deliver actual nursing care when they die.

I am safer than most, but all my holidays are now cancelled at my own choice, there will be no days off for as long as this lockdown lasts because I cannot risk going far and bringing coronavirus back to her on my return. I will now work 24/7 until this thing is over. I cannot be with my children, and aside from some brief respite for a few hours twice a week ( provided by relatives of my client one of which is also in the vulnerable group ). I am really alone. I do not have a manager, nor a team to support me and share this difficult time with.

I have received no calls from other healthcare professionals involved in my client’s care, I have received nothing but empty platitudes and
promises in emails from your department and other government agencies.

There is little point giving me a badge for any reason. I am unable to go out shopping or to collect any so-called perks because my client cannot be left alone for more than a few minutes at a time. I do not need a badge. I need to know that my client and other colleagues are being well taken care of.

As someone who has spent 15 years in social care with the elderly, I cannot begin to tell you how unbearable it is for me to know that they are again being treated as if they have no value. This is not new. The government’s attitude towards our elderly has always been this way, social care has been strangled, and privatised.

We, of course, used to be part of the NHS. Now care homes are mostly run by private individuals, who for too long have paid their staff way too little, expected way too much, and refused to spend adequate money to ensure there is enough staff in any care home to provide adequate levels of care. Our elderly have been used as cash generators for such people. Why must they sell homes to pay for care, when they have paid into the system all of their lives, and what’s more, when they die the government helps itself to their lives of hard work by taking inheritance taxes from their children. Our elders have already paid for their care in taxes and national insurance. It is a shameful way to treat them.

As for care homes, I can only imagine the scenes my colleagues are having to deal with. Indeed these images keep me awake in my bed night after night.

We truly do care for all of our clients, when one passes away we feel very sad and we mourn them, we have been given more and more clinical work to do, work that used to be only a nurse ‘s job. We have to do so much training that we must surely all have at least half a nursing degree by now. The state has us doing clinical work but doesn’t want to allow us to train as nurses. Nor does it want to recognise that we do one of the most important jobs in this country, usually to our detriment. The physical and emotional toll on us is awful. We cry we work 12-hour shifts often for more than 6 days a week, we are the lowest paid in healthcare.

And, whilst we are on the subject of nurses, how dare you be willing to sacrifice the lives of not only us but our colleagues in the NHS.
The suggestion that PPE is overused just highlights the fact that you have no expertise in this field and should not be giving any advice, and the advice you do give is beyond ignorant and ill-advised.

It is perhaps time you allowed a carer or a nurse to chair your meetings and to take the reigns. Even the lowestpaid Healthcare assistant has the skills and qualifications needed to take charge of this situation, and have the required knowledge to do so.

When will this government simply humble itself, acknowledge it’s mistakes, and proceed to show our elderly, our social care workers and the NHS the respect and dignity we all deserve?”

Tammy Samede. Live-in Social Care Worker for the Elderly and Dementia.

NYE Bevan was right – The Tories are scum

As an ex NHS worker (I worked as a nursing assistant in two hospitals during the 1980s), I’m appalled– but not surprised that the Tories are now the NHS’s best friends. Yes, you can go online and search for ‘Tories and the NHS’ and you will see pages of familiar Tory faces with the
gravest of warnings about the Tories attacks on our precious National Health Service; and let’s face it most of us have used (and have been bloody grateful we have this largely ‘free’ resource) the NHS at some point in our lives. And we’ve all heard or read the horror stories of a
care system run into the ground by the Tories.

I remember hearing a senior medical staff member a few years ago, and she thought then, that the NHS was near death. I eventually left the caring profession, after working in private and local authority care homes – if truth be known the local authority homes were better – as you didn’t have the pressure of keeping profits up. That was largely what drove the private care homes; every month the big wigs would visit, and Matron McQueen (not that it took much) would be wound up, such were the pressures of not only running a busy care home for the elderly, but yes, you’ve guessed it – keeping ‘everything’ in profit. Come to think of it she was more like a business manager than a matron despite wearing the uniform. It was really all smoke and mirrors, and we always did our best for the folks we cared for, money doesn’t or should not come into it, but it was a business first and foremost and a care home second.

I was also a student in one of the big long-term ‘mental handicap’ (as it was known then) hospitals. There were 7 in Scotland, and when I say ‘long-term’ I became a Citizen’s Advocate for a lady who entered the hospital in 1969 aged 19 and was only ‘discharged’ around 2000. The big institutions were shameful – unloved, stuffed full of the folk government and many in society didn’t desire, a poverty melting pot of disabilities. And the cost, of which little, (I even bought a patient clothes once) if any filtered down to an individual level was staggering! Wages alone were likely in the millions.

There’s one thing for sure – caring for human beings (and I’m not talking the USA, where after birth they even charge for holding the baby) is expensive, and the NHS costs a fortune to run, not aided by the fact that so many entrepreneurs rip it off – of course they do! Anyway,
I left the care profession after working one too many overworked, underpaid, and under resourced jobs; that’s one thing we were never short of – hours to work! So when I see Boris ‘championing’ the very service the Tories have demonised, undermined and financially starved since the 1980s I’m really at a loss as to how the Tories are making themselves seem like they are the saviours of the NHS – when you and I know, it’s the complete opposite.

If Boris and Co. do manage to pull off this latest stunt, a shrewd miss mash of Tory psychobabble and reverse psychology it will be the biggest political coup I feel; since Joseph Goebbels’ ‘Total War’ speech, whipping into a frenzy towards total war an already beaten force. Not that I’m comparing the National Health Service to the National Socialists, that’s not the point I’m making. Not that Goebbels promised anything anyway – it was mere ‘suggestion’. Does this sound familiar? But the public propaganda effect is similar. And it’s slightly disturbing in a political sense that an enemy – the Tories, are siding up like a predator does to the defenceless NHS.

Worse still, is the fact that the Tories are making themselves look so ‘caring’ by using the NHS for their own propaganda. Clap for the NHS, the Tories must have tears of laughter getting us to do this, when we should be hounding them out of government – such is their disdain for the NHS and those who work in the NHS.

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