Socialist Worker

Sajid Javid will front new attack on safety and NHS

Issue No. 2761

Sajid Javids Covid-19 recovery ideas are a danger to health and the NHS.

Sajid Javids Covid-19 recovery ideas are a danger to health and the NHS. (Pic: Financial Times/Flickr)


New health secretary Sajid Javid has been hired by Boris Johnson as a hitman.

His first job will be to bring an end to the last remaining coronavirus restrictions and allow businesses to fully reopen—even if the price is the further spread of Covid-19.

During his weekend tour of media studios, Javid was clear that this is his “most immediate priority”, saying he wants to see a return to normal “as quickly as possible”.

For months the Tory right has been pushing hard for a figure such as Javid to take the reins.

They want a health secretary that ignores warnings from scientists and other “experts”.

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Instead, they demand the freedom to make profits.

“He’s a real lockdown sceptic,” one Tory insider told the Daily Telegraph newspaper this week.

“He’s convinced that in a few years’ time, with the economic costs so high, everyone will be thinking ‘Why the hell did we do that?’”

Yet the demand that all lockdown measures are withdrawn by 19 July is incredibly reckless.

Surge

Britain is being hit by a surge in infections, driven by the Delta variant that is around 60 percent more contagious than previous versions of the virus.

That means the likelihood of the coronavirus finding all those who are unvaccinated, and those whose immune systems are weak is much greater than before.

That is one reason why the number of people being hospitalised is rising.

It’s true that the numbers of people dying are comparatively small, and that this likely reflects the success of vaccinations.

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But it ignores the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer debilitating symptoms of “long Covid” after an infection.

One rising area of infection is schools. Javid is being urged to end the system of bubbles that aims to slow the spread by telling pupils to isolate if they’ve had contact with an infected pupil or staff member.

But the Tories focus on ­unlocking has other advantages for the government. It distracts from the crisis that is engulfing the NHS.

The huge queues and 12-hour waits at hospital A&E units got no mention from Javid last weekend.

Nor did the astonishing 5 million people now waiting for treatment—the highest since records began.

And, the promised review of Britain’s collapsing social care system has also been delayed.

Another reason the Tory right is applauding Javid’s appointment is that he is pro-austerity and hates the idea of publicly funded healthcare.

As a paid adviser to JP Morgan, he will doubtless help the US bank exploit the “opportunities that lie ahead” for private healthcare.

And, we can expect Javid to be among the first to tell health workers that there is “no magic money tree” when it comes to their long overdue pay rise.


Onto the streets on Saturday

Junior doctor protesting in central London.

Junior doctor protesting in central London.


Health activists across Britain are preparing for action this weekend.

As many people as possible should join them.

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Prepare now for NHS pay fight + Royal London hospital strike
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Keep Our NHS Public and other groups, including NHS Workers Say No, have come together to organise dozens of protests and marches.

The campaign is centred around demands for patient safety, pay justice and an end to privatisation.

These will be an excellent chance to bring together community campaigners and health workers. The appointment of Sajid Javid as health secretary could well herald a new era of cuts and privatisation in our already battered NHS.

With US multinationals hoovering up GP practices, and private health care providers making a killing from providing services to overwhelmed NHS hospitals, there could hardly be a more important time to protest.

For details of your nearest NHS birthday protest this Saturday, 3 July, go to bit.ly/NHS3July

Hancock gone, but questions remain

The prime minister is still facing questions about former health secretary Matt Hancock, who resigned last weekend.

Hancock quit over his affair with his aide Gina Coladangelo, which involved breaking social distancing guidelines.

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After news of the affair broke Boris Johnson quickly declared the matter “closed”. He also declined to sack Hancock last month after he was judged to have broken the ministerial code for failing to declare his stake in an NHS supplier.

But the rot goes far deeper than that.

First, many are now asking how former lobbyist Coladangelo was appointed as Hancock’s aide last year. And why did she move so quickly to be a non-executive director of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)?

Despite having no recorded health experience, Coladangelo’s job came with a £15,000 salary for just 15 to 20 days of work a year.

Secondly, why was Hancock’s relationship with Coladangelo’s not acknowledged, despite her brother being an executive of a firm that has won a string of NHS contracts?

Roberto Coladangelo works at Partnering Health Ltd, which provides “consultancies” and other private services to the health service.

It was awarded a £28 million contract with South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust last year.

Third, did Hancock breach rules by using a private email account for government business?

That would allow him to circumvent disclosure rules and conduct trading relationships in secret.

It also makes it harder to make Freedom of Information requests.


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