In Downing Street, the prime minister has trashed the UK public health strategy, with his repulsive defence of his senior adviser making up his own rules. Elsewhere, health workers, teachers and communities are organising to protect people from the coronavirus more effectively. Here PHIL EDWARDS, Joint Secretary of Newham Save Our NHS, writing in a personal capacity, reflects on how the virus is changing the politics of health.
The Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, has announced that along with the London boroughs of Camden, Barnet and Hackney, our borough will be part of a local test and track (or trace) initiative.
The government in turn announced that local areas were to submit plans for carrying out local test track initiatives across the country. The Newham initiative, on 22 May, was the result of
weeks of pressure nationally from public health experts, local authorities, medical practitioners, and of campaigns like our own.
This came days after the release of evidence that the national test and track scheme launched by the health secretary Matt Hancock’s friends in Serco, the private contractor, and recruitment agencies sub-contracted to contact people using the government-approved mobile app, was collapsing in disarray.
As the Newham Health and Wellbeing Board met this week, to respond to questions on the local test trace scheme from local residents, it was pointed out that the government would finally launch its app this week after several false starts.
We have to approach this “victory” with some careful qualifications. It is not yet clear what the relationship is between these “local” tests and the national effort run by Serco. The scheme in Sheffield (see “Testing times” below) is run and operated by local health professionals. In Read the rest of this entry »