In his fortnightly column, Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty, Convenor of the Green Group of Councillors, writes on the questions green councillors are continuing to ask.
A fortnight ago I wrote about the pandemic seeing the city’s biggest force for good – and communities have sprung into action across our city with an outstanding, heart-warming effort. The dedication and commitment of workers facing the coronavirus – from council staff to healthcare professionals – has been absolutely incredible.
Detail on personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, testing and care for our most vulnerable will be critical to the city’s response. Despite assurances from Conservative government ministers to the contrary, evidence is mounting that a lack of protective equipment and testing is now endangering people. Care homes are struggling to access equipment despite cases of coronavirus accelerating in them.
When times are tough, our city continues to stand up for good. But it’s a disgrace that key staff are having to rely on goodwill and crowdfunder campaigns instead of adequately funded government plans.
This follows the reality – repeat, savage cuts to the NHS, councils and the voluntary sector has left threadbare the capacity in the system for an effective fight back. A national pandemic flu exercise in 2016 resulted in the government’s failure to buy ventilators. Had they done so, they would not now need 30,000 ventilators. Government promised 25,000 tests a day- the greatest number of tests achieved per day has been nearer 9,000 while only 2,000 NHS staff have been tested. You can see why the health journal The Lancet warns that the NHS is “wholly unprepared for this pandemic.”
In response to residents sharing our serious concerns about our local NHS, this week Green Councillors raised 10 key questions with council and NHS officials. Every worker who needs protective equipment must have it. Our most vulnerable and older people must be shielded.
Shockingly, national news reports state that healthcare whistleblowers have been threatened with disciplinary action if they speak out. So we will continue to push for answers as the crisis continues.
Equipment and support must now be provided to prevent even more deaths and illness – an unforgivable outcome given the warnings government has received. Help our city fight back and continue to stay safe.