The Government has not followed it’s own mantra to protect the NHS and Social Care. While the nation celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe, many of those people who took part in the War effort are vulnerable to Coronavirus. In 2017 the Government received a report from Operation Cygnus explaining how the NHS lacked resilience to a major flu pandemic. It was an operation to inform the Government how to make the necessary changes to tackle a pandemic crisis and the lesson was not learnt. Bridgwater Labour Councillor Mick Lerry takes stock of the situation.
Speaking on VE Day 2020, Mick Lerry said “Lack of Personal Protection Equipment and the ordering of sub-standard stock from Turkey has highlighted the lack of readiness for the Government to protect Key Workers. Often we can witness those on the frontline either without PPE or wearing and using different PPE with patients and people they are caring for.“
Lessons from 75 Years Ago
After World War 2 the people of this country wanted and demanded change, their sacrifice and commitment to serve, led to a Labour Government and the Welfare State, which included the National Health Service.
Mick said: “As we prepare to exit from the pandemic and recession, it will be important to demand the same changes that we witnessed post World War 2. The NHS and Social Care must never be placed again in a position where the lack of resilience, in essential equipment is not available. The necessary equipment must always be available and a sustainable local manufacturing process at the ready. The Government must invest in the services needed to provide proper Public Health Care”.
Mick continued “A year before VE Day in 1944 the D Day landings took place and many of the troops who landed had cycles to use as for their transport. When I visited the Normandy beaches the photographs highlighted troops carrying their cycles. In fact there is a statue made from some of the cycles used at that time. As we exit the pandemic social distancing will have a further impact on our economic recovery, especially regarding public transport. This should be a time to rethink how we travel, there has been investment in cycle lanes locally, it would be wonderful to see the cycle lane infrastructure used by local people to travel to work and other journey’s taken. This could be part of the Green New Deal to make a change in the way we travel, with a salary sacrifice programme implemented by employers, for workers to purchase cycles. At the same time public transport, which reduces toxic omissions will be under pressure to survive, because of social distancing”.
New Economy ‘Must Start to Value People More’
Mick said “The Green New Deal will be an important transformation for our Economy to climb out of recession. As businesses prepare for the exit out of lockdown, there will be a need for some to repurpose their business, which should be funded through Government investment. The Green New Deal is also about lowering our carbon omissions and a move away from fossil fuels. After the depression in the USA in the 1930s a New Deal was established by the American President, Franklin D Roosevelt to get the country working again, based on huge Public investment. Our economy should not be continually based on growth but what is important for a society to maintain a balance in social values and income equality. Many who work in our Care and health services, are amongst the low paid in the country. The new economy must start to value people more, instead of leaving workers vulnerable to poor pay and conditions of service. It must also be an economy that is inventive and does not waste the resources we have. Our public services are valuable, the country cannot afford to put them at risk”.
“When Labour discusses the Government framework for coming out of lockdown, which Keir Starmer has been asking for. The Government will need to make clear that there will be a national standard for PPE for workers, where social distancing will be applied. The Government will also have to provide the new investment to aid the recovery. The public have responded well to the lockdown and social distancing, the change experienced should now be channelled into Climate Change and the New Green Deal Economy”, said Mick.