Greens call for new course on social care

Baroness Jenny Jones
Image credit: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Creative Commons

The UK government this week included deaths from coronavirus taking place outside hospitals in its national figures for the first time. These figures therefore now include deaths that have taken place in care homes. This came as it was announced that there were 2,000 coronavirus deaths in UK care homes in a single week in April.

Prominent Greens were among the critics of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis in care. Jenny Jones – one of the two Green peers in the House of Lords – said that care homes had been neglected in the government’s coronavirus strategy. Writing in Left Foot Forward, Jones called for a “National Care Service” to tackle the crisis in the care sector. She wrote:

We need a national care service that recognises the vital role that carers are playing by paying them better.

We need a massive injection of cash into the private care home sector in order to keep it going for the coming year. We need to send out a clear message that the hospitals are open for everyone who needs them.

Finally, we need to recognise exceptional carers as the heroes they are. I think that the carers and managers who are taking turns self-isolating at care homes are amazing and such people need all the support we can give them.

The call for a National Care Service was also shared by Jamie Osborn – a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich. Also writing in Left Foot Forward, he criticised privatisation of the care service:

we have a National Health Service, funded by taxpayers as a universal right, but social care is privatised or, for those who have assets of less than £23,000, it is the responsibility of local councils.

He continued:

It’s time we had a properly-funded, universal, free-at-the-point of delivery, National Care Service.

The criticism of the status quo in social care, and the response to the coronavirus crisis within it wasn’t just confined to England though. Alison Johnstone – co-convener of the Scottish Green Party’s parliamentary group – hit out at the Scottish Government’s failure to increase testing in care homes.

Johnstone said:

The evidence shows clearly that the regular testing of care workers and hospital staff will help detect cases early, reduce the spread of the virus and give those workers the protection they deserve.

The Scottish Government’s continued refusal to commit to test these dedicated frontline health and care workers when there is significant additional testing capacity available is baffling and will severely hamper our ability to get a grip on this situation.

New co-chairs of the Rainbow Greens elected

The Rainbow Greens – the body representing LGBT+ members of the Scottish Green Party – saw change in its national committee this week. At what the group described as its first “digital AGM”, Guy Ingerson and Emma Cuthbertson were elected as its new co-chairs.

On May 2, the Rainbow Greens tweeted:

Upon his election, Ingerson – who stood unsuccessfully for the co-leadership of the Scottish Greens last year told Bright Green:

I’m delighted to have been elected alongside Emma. This is a pivotal time for the LGBT+ movement as we face down resistance to [Gender Recognition Act] reform, LGBT+ youth & education services to name just a few.

We also have the ongoing debate around independence. It is imperative that no matter what the future holds for Scotland, that we continue to achieve progress on LGBT+ equality.

Emma Cuthbertson echoed Ingerson’s comments. She told Bright Green:

[I’m] excited to be working with Guy and happy to be in a party which genuinely welcomes trans people. The next year will be crucial as we fight against increasing transphobia and right wing movements who seem intent on rolling back the rights of all marginalised groups.

Brighton & Hove Green Councillors release video celebrating their successes

Brighton Pavillion
Image Credit: Creative Commons: Brighton Pavillion

This week marked a year since the record breaking local elections of 2019, which saw the Green Party of England and Wales double its number of Councillors in a single night. Those elections saw the Green Party become the official opposition on Brighton & Hove Council. And the 19-strong Green group of Councillors in Brighton & Hove marked the anniversary by releasing a video summarising their long list of achievements.

Among a long list of other successes, the video highlights the work of the Green group in delivering:

  • Increased funding for domestic violence and youth services
  • Council support for a Green New Deal for Brighton & Hove
  • Additional support for residents struggling to pay council tax bills

You can watch the full video here:

Vix Lowthion criticises launch of Isle of Wight testing trial

Vix Lowthion
Image credit: YouTube screengrab

This week saw the announcement that the Isle of Wight will be the location of the coronavirus tracing app trial. Tracing is thought to be a central component of the strategy to contain coronavirus and bring an end to lockdown.

Green Party of England and Wales campaigner Vix Lowthion – who stood in the 2015, 2017 and 2019 General Elections on the Isle of Wight – expressed “serious concerns” about the trial taking place on the island. Lowthion said:

The Isle of Wight has a significantly older and more vulnerable population with limited access to medical support. There are serious concerns that the island’s one hospital could become overwhelmed if we see a significant increase in coronavirus cases because people feel they do not need to stick to lockdown measures due to the rolling out of this app.

It is vital that before lockdown measures start to be lifted in any part of the UK we have a network of ‘community shields’ in place to ensure we can prevent the spread of Covid-19 through a strict test, trace and isolate strategy, in line with World Health Organisation guidance.

A single app is absolutely no substitute for a fully-resourced community-based protection scheme, as we have seen used so effectively in other countries.

According to a Green Party proposal authored by former MEP Molly Scott Cato, a community shield is “a network of locally-based community protection schemes, co-ordinated by Public Health England’s regional Outbreak Management Teams, working together with local authorities and GPs, to do the vital work of finding people with the virus, isolating them quickly, and tracing those they contacted.”

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