Doctors in Unite demands in response to COVID-19
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The challenge of coronavirus requires a radical response. We will overcome this virus, but current legislation falls short – much more must be done. We demand:
This must include FFP3 masks, visors/protective spectacles, fluid resistant gowns with sleeves and gloves for all health and social care workers dealing with patients and service users who have or are suspected to be infected with COVID-19. This is vital to prevent staff going off sick en-masse leaving no one to care for patients.
Whole population testing for COVID-19 is essential, with particular attention paid to health and social care workers. Isolation and follow up of identified cases with rigorous contact tracing is crucial.
Laboratories in hospitals
Full pathology laboratories should return to hospitals. Cuts and privatisation of labs have reduced the capacity for testing so that when they are needed the system cannot cope.
Public control of private hospitals
Private health care facilities must be taken under public control and made available to assist the NHS in caring for ill patients.
Public control of industry
Key industries must be taken under public control and repurposed to manufacture equipment that is essential to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19, such as PPE, ventilators and antibiotics.
An end to needless competition
The protection of intellectual property rights for key equipment such as ventilators must end, so that companies can collaborate to produce them. There is no place for the pursuit of profit and competition between companies during a national crisis.
Support for staff to work remotely
Guidance on confidentiality and data security should be rapidly produced. Investment in IT should take place to enable all those who need to work from home to do so.
Protection and recompense for retired workers returning to work
Retired workers returning to the NHS deserve the proper provision of PPE and COVID-19 testing. Older people are more vulnerable to the virus, and will need thorough protection.
Full pay when self-isolating
All UK workers who are off sick or self isolating due to COVID-19 should be paid as if they were in work. No one should be under financial pressure to work when government advice is that they should be at home. Previous record of days off sick should not be an impediment to this principle.
Universal basic income
Universal basic income must be made available for all in line with the living wage for the period of the crisis. This would be in place of all other benefits, universal credits or employment support.
Retraining for the newly unemployed
Those who have lost their jobs should be offered free retraining in roles that support our society and infrastructure during the pandemic. This could include medication delivery, care work, and supporting the socially isolated.
Universal access to essential services
Everyone should to be able to access the essentials that they need, including food and shelter. The homeless should be accommodated in empty hotels and houses. Supermarket stocks should be centrally managed and provisions distributed so that everyone can have what they need.
Proportionate, time limited emergency laws subject to regular review
While being clear that everyone must be able to access what they need, there is a fine balance between ensuring equity of distribution and infringements of people’s reasonable rights and liberties. All new legislation that curtails civil rights must be limited in scope, be regularly reviewed, and should include a sunset clause.
Comprehensive support for vulnerable health groups
Services for the homeless and those who suffer from substance misuse must be maintained. These are vulnerable groups who are at high risk of complications from COVID-19 infection. They are often hard to reach and should be provided with phones so that key workers can maintain contact while working remotely.
Comprehensive social care
Disabled people are vulnerable and their needs must be properly met. They are at particular risk if their carers become unwell. Those who have accepted personal budgets are particularly at risk. Services must continue for them in all circumstances.
An end to overseas charging
NHS eligibility checks for migrants leads to them not accessing healthcare as frequently. It is vital that during a pandemic, everyone gets the care they need. Charging overseas visitors for NHS care must be stopped and the legislation that allows this abolished.
Extended rent and mortgage payment holidays
Suspend rent and mortgage payments for all NHS and social care staff. No health or social care worker should be anxious about living costs. Many are at risk of losing household income if their partner loses their job. The current three month mortgage holiday should be extended to at least six months.
Psychological support for health and social care workers
Psychological support services should be provided at no cost for NHS and social care staff caring for patients during the period of the pandemic crisis.
We the undersigned support these demands and urge their adoption by the government as quickly as possible:
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