Socialist Worker

Coronavirus round-up - Paper claims older people were sacrificed in first wave

Issue No. 2728

Older people are being excluded from care

Older people are being excluded from care


Older people were excluded from receiving lifesaving care at the height of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, the Sunday Times newspaper has claimed. 

It said that the decisions made were “in order to protect hospitals” from becoming overwhelmed with critical patients needing acute care in March and April. 

Ambulance crews and hospitals were instructed to apply a more strict criteria for who to admit into facilities, “with specific instructions to exclude many elderly people”.

And it said that an “age-based frailty score”, played a part in denying vulnerable people care. 

This guidance, commissioned by England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty, would have seen those over 80 years old automatically excluded from treatment. 

Although the Sunday Times said it was never made official NHS policy, the guidance was widely circulated among hospitals and health care professionals. 

The research appears to be supported by comparatively how few deaths there were in hospitals.

Some 59,000 “excess deaths” occurred in England and Wales in the first six months of the pandemic. 

But only 8,000 of these happened in hospitals, while some 26,000 were in care homes and 25,000 in private homes. 

Older people’s lives should not be tossed away—and everyone should be disgusted by how the crisis in the NHS is putting those people in danger.


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Track and trace worsens

The test and trace system, riddled with privatisation, is worsening from its already dire state.

And the situation is so bad that the government is now paying social media influencers to promote the system positively according to the Guardian newspaper. 

Figures released last week showed the worst performance since it began, with just one in seven people having a test at a centre receiving 

their result within 24 hours.

The figures also show a fall to 59.6 percent in the proportion of close contacts of people who tested positive who were reached. 

This was also the lowest weekly rate, down from 63 percent in the previous week.

But non-privatised local health protection teams had far better results with 

94.8 percent of contacts reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to 14 October.

Even a full lockdown will only buy time and a respite unless there is a proper test, trace and isolate system.


Young people face crisis

Young people are being hit particularly hard by the pandemic, as they suffer through inadequate education, poor mental health and unemployment.

Research by the London School of Economics (LSE) showed that six in ten people aged 16-25 saw their earnings fall and were twice as likely as older workers to be made unemployed.

And poorer young people stand to lose more than the richest. 

Some 74 percent of private school students had full days of teaching, while only 38 percent of state school students did. 

And research by the Samaritans charity and the University of Glasgow found that the mental health of people aged 18-29 was being hit hard. 

The study showed suicidal thoughts were highest among this age group, and 14 percent of people reported them. 

Urgent action needs to be undertaken to address the crisis facing this generation of young people.


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