Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak taking part in clap for carers

Our cleaners, careers, teachers, refuse collectors and food industry workers are playing a vital role in this crisis. They deserve decent pay.

The work done by our key-workers has been phenomenal – their tireless self-less approach to help combat COVID-19 has been truly admirable! The public response with #ClapForOurCarers may be a very simple but it has had an enormous response and has united the country in our thanks to our NHS workers, carers, teachers, cleaners, shop workers, delivery drivers, and all those helping us keep safe.

The NHS is doing well, but we must not forget that over the last 10 years, we have seen the Tories vote against pay rises for public sector workers, insult them by classing them as low-skilled workers, and significantly underfund the entire sector. This has caused the NHS to be chronically understaffed, which we see each winter when our intensive care units are full and waiting times are ever growing.

The Tories pretend that they aren’t privatising our NHS, but they are doing it behind the scenes, and privatisation always makes the rich richer and often ends up in the long term making the services worse. In 2013 we saw the shocking start of the privatisation of NHS blood plasma supplier, on which thousands of patients depend.

During this crisis we have seen the horrendous news that NHS staff, home carers, and those working within the community have not received the correct, if any, personal protective equipment (PPE). This has left many staff at risk of catching the virus, getting sick and spreading it to vulnerable patients. This is a clear failure by the government, as we had weeks of notice of the severity of this pandemic, and the World Health Organization said that all countries should “test, test, test”. Both the lack of PPE and the shortfall in testing has been an active choice from the government not to prioritise the safety and health of NHS workers and the public.

Why has this government not stepped up testing? Germany is conducting over 500,000 tests a week compared to the UK’s mere 8,000. And despite claims that this would soon be over 25,000, we still haven’t reached this point.

All of this brings into question, where are the real emergency management experts and the crisis communications professionals? Right now we have politicians and a civil service think tank pretending that they are disaster management professionals. Their errors in communication and the timing and funding of their policy decisions has lost the trust of the public. And then the government wonders why people aren’t complying with commands, insults, and threats, especially when people don’t understand why they are being asked to do things. The communications have been so diabolical, many people didn’t understand that anyone could be contagious before they have symptoms.

This is an international crisis, where political ideology should not get in the way of decision making yet it already has. We saw the government refusing to take part in the EU ventilator procurement scheme, showing clear arrogance and demonstrating how blind support for Brexit could be costing lives.

So when we clap for our carers every Thursday until this crisis is over, also remind yourself that the next Thursday that there is an election, you vote for the NHS – protect the NHS – don’t vote Tory.

Image credit: Number 10 – Creative Commons