Opinion

Our NHS and care workers deserve more than a weekly clap

26 May 2020 3 minutes Read
Image by Pavel Sternberg from Pixabay.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru Senedd Member for Ynys Môn

Every Thursday evening throughout this pandemic people across the UK have been showing their gratitude for all our NHS and care workers. The appreciation shown by the public is clear, but after nine weeks of clapping for our carers, we have to ask ourselves – what has really changed for them?

As Wales grapples with the coronavirus crisis our health and social care workers are at the front line. They’re looking after our loved ones during the biggest public health disaster in our lifetime, and they’ve felt all too vulnerable. As they’ve faced demands most of us can’t comprehend, too many have faced difficulties in accessing testing, or the PPE they’ve needed to give them protection.

And feeling vulnerable isn’t abstract, but a reality. We can see from the statistics just how many health and care workers have tested positive. We know that too many have lost their lives. The Office for National Statistics recently shared the sobering fact that social care workers are at particular risk, with a care worker’s chance of dying from COVID-19 being “statistically significantly higher” than the general population.

Our health and care workers deserve more.

This crisis has highlighted so many of the problems that our NHS and care sector have faced for too long. Pressures on our NHS has been well publicised – a loss of beds in community settings; poor workforce planning and the resulting over-reliance on agency staff; undercapacity and delayed transfers piling pressure on A&E departments over winter, with British Red Cross volunteers drafted in last year to help. And the care sector suffers from lack parity with the health service on many levels..

Our carers deserve a government who will promise never to underfund, never to privatise, never again treat them in this way.

 

Duty

A Plaid Cymru government would deliver a national health and care service, more doctors, more nurses, more training. But what does this mean in practice?

In the short term, we must ensure that our carers have confidence in being fully equipped to protect themselves, and those in their care, against coronavirus. We must ensure that access to tests is readily available.

In the longer term, we must see an increase in the health and care workforce. Plaid Cymru has long advocated the need to train and recruit 1,000 additional doctors and 5,000 degree level health professionals including nurses, midwives and physiotherapists to help reduce workload and burnout.

Working conditions must be improved, by allowing more flexible working for those with families, ensuring protected training time, and reducing paperwork.

And social care workers must be placed onto NHS pay scales to ensure that social care becomes a more attractive career – respected and properly funded and remunerated.

Clapping shows our appreciation today, and it’s important to continue to do it. But looking to tomorrow, we as your elected representatives have a duty to go further than that. We must learn from what this crisis has taught us, and pledge to build health and care back better.

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Josh Foster
Josh Foster
1 year ago

Predictable virtue signalling from Plaid. Let us not forget that it is Plaid – ostensibly the opposition party for large chunks of the last 20 yrs – are the party that have, time and time again, supported the Labour government’s budget.

This has been a bewildering strategy, that highlights more than anything else – and there’s stiff competition – just how naive, spineless and incompetent Plaid have been for so long.

We live in a one party state with supine opposition. It’s depressing. So be gone with your platitudes, Rhun. You supported this mess year after year.

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh Foster

I upticked this about an hour ago so 2 who think that virtue signalling suffices have been on here since clicking away negatively. Lets have your comments boys/girls or are you too busy ticking away ?

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 year ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

You may have noticed that this site is raided and minused by trolls, whatever the comment. That’s why I have repeatedly asked for subscribers-only comments, to no avail. I feel it stops any constructive ideas for our
future, so we get click-and-outrage instead? Round and round we go……………………..

Josh Foster
Josh Foster
1 year ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

What can they say? Plaid’s constant support for Labour budgets is a fact. Plaid as a party are completely lost. The culture of the institution, from here, looks rotten to the core. Look at the state of their elected representatives, and contrast that with the treatment meted out to successful groups and individuals in Conway, Llanelli, Blaenau Gwent, Cardiff, and elsewhere. Their only defence seems to be the cries of ‘splitters!’ aimed at anyone with the good sense to leave the sinking ship and jump into lifeboats, whether that’s Yes Cymru (although Plaid seemed to have sunk that one too),… Read more »

Sibrydionmawr
Sibrydionmawr
1 year ago

All this is fine, as far as it goes, (and who would deny that our health and social care workers don’t deserve a LOT better than they are getting at the moment) but it’s hard to separate this call for supporting vital workers from a cynical attempt at electioneering. We have the Senedd election next May and Plaid naively believes it’s in with a chance of forming the next Welsh government. All I can say is that I’ll believe it when I see it! I used to be a Plaid voter, more out of sheer desperation than anything else, but… Read more »

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 year ago
Reply to  Sibrydionmawr

Bribes were also part of the Comm. Block. if you wanted some health care, good creche, but in the main you are
correct.

j humphrys
j humphrys
1 year ago

The French prime minister pledged yesterday to raise the levels of pay throughout the frence health system. We will see.

max wallis
max wallis
1 year ago

No appreciation here that the Welsh Govt/NHS negligently sacrificed the care sector – in devoting all resources to “Save the NHS” like in England. Brent council had no care home deaths – through spending £1.5m on PPE in February and ensuring elderly patients discharged from hospital were quarantined for 14 days in a separate care facility. Our Emergency/Resilience committee could have been instructed and funded to do likewise. Suddenly discharging from hospitals untested vulnerable patients to care-homes and social care with no preparations like Brent’s was criminally negligant. The Older Persons’ Commissioner is taking it as violation of Human Rights… Read more »

John Ellis
John Ellis
1 year ago
Reply to  max wallis

A care home proprietor in the Neath/Port Talbot area was interviewed on TV a few days back, and said that his homes had thus far managed to remain Covid-free. He attributed this at least in part to the fact that his homes had resolutely refused to accept any patients discharged from hospital unless and until they’d been tested for coronavirus infectivity and the test had produced a negative result. And they’d done that in the face of threats from the health board to lodge a formal complaint to th Care Quality Commission against them. But you’re right – it shouldn’t… Read more »

max wallis
max wallis
1 year ago
Reply to  John Ellis

We viewed the same BBC Wales Investigates programme. I know of other care-homes who refused. But the programme mentioned Cardiff’s Romilly Nursing home where the patient was awaiting a test before discharge, never got it, and died 10 days later. Her son was tamping.

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