Tag Archives: Test

Trying to put the wheels back on the Inspiration Trust project

Ian Duckett – NEU

Norman King – GMB

Wendy Smith – Unite

 On behalf of East Anglia Workers Coronavirus Support Group

On 29 June Dame Rachel De Souza wrote an article for the Eastern Daily Press, titled the ‘Norfolk Academy Trust reveals Saturday lessons and August return date for year 10 pupils’.

Like all schools and academies the COVID19 pandemic has taken the wheels off Inspiration Trust’s  schools in Norwich and across Norfolk. In the article, Dame De Souza states that pupils will be returning early from the summer break to make up for lessons lost during lockdown in a desperate effort to put the wheels back on. We think that there is another road, an alternative route out of this pandemic that our schools could take and build for a better future.

We feel that this quest to reopen, particularly during a period when the Coronavirus is seen to be on the rise in some areas, in the middle of what promises to be a very busy holiday period for the region is irresponsible and short sighted in the extreme.  It is plain that hubs of infection are springing up from as close as Suffolk, and in Leicester where schools are currently closing.  During the “opening” period people from these regions will be flocking to our city and holiday destinations raising the level of risk.

We are quite sure that the fixed date return will cause huge anxiety among parents, carers, teachers and students and the wider community.  If one thing is certain, it is that we do not know what the infection rates are going to be in the future.

The coalition of parents and teachers – Parents and Teachers for Education (PTE) founded by chief executive of the Inspiration Trust, Dame De Souza, hardly inspires confidence since I feel they cannot represent the interests all concerned parents, teachers, students and the wider community.  Furthermore it is an organisation formed by the trust itself.

Of course we want to reopen schools and colleges as soon as we can. But this needs to be safe for society, for children and their families and the staff who work in them. We also would like to point out that schools never closed. They have been open during lockdown to provide education in a safe environment for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

The pre-conditions for a safe return to schools are: much lower numbers of Covid-19 cases; a proper negotiated plan agreed with unions for social distancing; testing, testing and more testing; whole school strategy and protection for the vulnerable. Have these tests been met? We are far from convinced that they have been. We would respectfully ask the Dame where the evidence is that the Inspiration Trust and the government has met the requirements of these criteria.

We also worry about Health and Safety Officers, who are direct employees of the trust, making these judgements. Are teachers being bullied into returning to work without adequate safeguards being in place?  Do they even know what is in place?  Have the teaching unions been involved in the discussion?

It is already known that some of the school buildings are barely suitable, being disused industrial units.  How is social distancing to be maintained in these circumstances? No doubt there is a huge amount of work to be done before schools can be reopened safely, in terms of the curriculum and the wider community with regards to containment of the virus.

However, Dame Rachel is right about one thing. There is a crisis. It is a crisis of identity and – equally one of survival – for many of our young people lost somewhere in a wilderness between education and social care. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made this worse.

Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comments stand out and are frightening: “there will be all sorts of problems in terms of social unrest, violence amongst young people that we’ve not seen before”.   This suggests that the purpose of our education system is no more than to contain the youth population.  I put it to him that many among this population are educating themselves in matters that are of direct concern.  This is witnessed by the movements that have focused on the virus, to name one, East Anglia Workers Coronavirus Support Group who have held online meetings, written open letters and supported the Norfolk NEU petition and who are holding weekly protests at Norfolk County Hall regarding the safe reopening of schools.

Without the interventions of an emergency post-14 curriculum with slimmed down knowledge content and an emphasis on skills like communication, problem-solving, co-operation learning and employability rather than Dame Rachel’s notion of “Saturday lessons and August return date for year 10 pupils’” many will not make it out of the post-COVID-19 wilderness, will have reached the point of no return and will be lost somewhere between education and social care.

Many waiting longer than 24 hours for coronavirus test results – Madders

Justin Madders MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, responding to figures that show many are waiting longer than 24 hours for coronavirus test results, said:

“We are now three weeks into the supposed world leading test and trace system and there are still a quarter of people not being contacted. There is no doubt that this is well below the levels we need to effectively contain the virus and the Government seems to be too slow again to react to these failings.

“As we now begin to see localised lockdowns we need Ministers to be far more rigorous about getting to the bottom of why the contact rate isn’t improving. The performance so far simply isn’t good enough and far from the world leading system we were promised.

“We know for there to be an effective testing and tracing system to be in place that results need to be back quickly so it’s both disappointing and concerning that the Government is moving the goalposts on its 24 hour turnaround for tests . Ministers need to come clean about the problems meeting this target and what they are going to do to put it right. The Government has been too slow on lockdown, too slow on PPE, too slow on social care – we cannot afford for it to be too slow on this as well.”

Steve Reed calls for action to ensure local lockdowns are robust and efficient enough to prevent second wave

Labour has today called on the Government to take urgent action to ensure local lockdowns are robust and efficient enough to prevent a second wave of Coronavirus spreading across the country.

Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, Steve Reed, has urged the government to take four steps to protect communities:

  1. Ensure that Local Authority Directors of Public Health have access to all Coronavirus test data, including the postcodes of all positive tests.
  2. Provide guidance on exactly what legal powers are available to local authorities to rapidly put in place local lockdowns by closing schools, workplaces or neighbourhoods.
  3. Clarify where decision making for local lockdowns will be taken, which decisions will be made by the Government, Joint Biosecurity Centre or left for local authorities to take.
  4. Keep the promise to fund councils in full for the cost of the crisis, so that they don’t have to cut the resources they need to keep our communities safe.

Steve Reed MP, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said:

“The Government made local lockdowns a key component of the exit strategy but yet again they were too slow to involve local authorities, just like they were too slow to enforce the lockdown nationally.

“The lack of a functioning test, track and trace system, coupled with their failure to give councils the power to take action quickly could lead to local outbreaks becoming deadly national ones.

“The Government must not waste any more time, we are facing the risk of a deadly second wave of infections and a second national lockdown fatal for both lives and livelihoods across the country.”

Government must act immediately on second PHE BAME report

Commenting on the second report published today (Tuesday) by Public Health England (PHE) on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black communities, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“The government must act now. Words and promises to do something in the future won’t cut it any longer.

“The pandemic has brought home just how many frontline care and health employees are from Black communities. They’ve suffered a heavy toll and need better protecting now, before the almost inevitable second Covid spike.

“The government’s failure to release the PHE data and recommendations together was a huge mistake. It’s caused further mistrust and damage to the Black community at a time when people need reassurance, not dither, delay and excuses.

“More thorough risk assessments, targeted testing and moving vulnerable workers out of reach of the virus are paramount. That means recommending the use of masks and face coverings in care homes and schools too.

“People will also want to see exactly how structural and institutional racism in all areas of employment, housing, education and every other aspect of life in the UK are to be eradicated.”

Breakdown of Unite talks with Rowan Foods Puts Workers & General Public At Risk

Talks between Unite and Rowan foods regarding health and safety issues and the payment of staff self-isolating due to the Covid19 outbreak on site, have broken down. Unite has been seeking assurances around improved health and safety measures on site to prevent further outbreaks of coronavirus amongst the workforce. It has also been seeking full pay for staff who are being required to self-isolate though Covid19.

Dave Griffiths Unite Regional Officer commented:

“Unite is extremely disappointed by the manner in which Rowan Foods have conducted themselves during discussions with us, both during and prior to the Covid19 outbreak at the plant.

Our members employed by Rowan are extremely concerned that the company has not taken the health and safety concerns that Unite has been raising since early June, with the urgent attention that they demand. Workers who are frightened for their own, and their family’s safety, must be reassured that no stone is being left unturned in the efforts to further protect them from contacting Covid19 whilst at work.

Rowan Foods should immediately introduce full pay for workers who are off work due to either having Covid19 or self-isolating after being contacted through Welsh Governments Test, Trace and Protect system. For workers already suffering from low pay it is morally bankrupt to then ask them, through no fault of their own, to self-isolate and survive on SSP. The simple fact is that some workers will continue to come to work and ignore the guidance if they are suffering financial detriment.

Protecting workers and the general public cannot be done on the cheap. Rowan Foods, who are an extremely profitable company, supplying some of the biggest names in the UK food industry have to step up to the plate. They have to put the appropriate health and safety measures alongside adequate financial support for the workforce, if they are to get themselves out of the current crisis that has enveloped them”.

Justin Madders responds to latest test and trace statistics

Justin Madders MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, responding to the latest test and trace statistics, said:

“To have a quarter of those who test positive not contacted three weeks in to the ‘world beating’ system is not good enough and urgently needs to be addressed.

“Expert opinion shows that to defeat this virus we need a fully functioning test and trace system, so these latest figures still raise major concerns the week before lockdown measures are eased further, especially without a working app.

“It is staggering that hundreds of people are not submitting their details into the system in the first place. Surely that should be one simple thing that can be fixed.

“Ministers need to level with the public about how they are going to tackle these real and serious issues as a matter of urgency.”

Labour calls for plan to clear NHS backlog as new analysis shows Covid-19 response causing huge delays for vital scans and diagnostic tests

The Labour Party is  calling for a new resourced plan for the NHS so that services can re-open quickly and safely.

In an Opposition Day Debate in the house of commons, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, will force a vote calling for a plan to deal with the backlog of care currently building up in the NHS, routine weekly testing programme for NHS and Social Care staff to enable routine NHS services to safely resume, and a functional, national test, trace and isolate system to be operational ahead of the upcoming busy winter period.

Labour has previously called for testing to be expanded beyond symptomatic carriers, so that all NHS and care staff are regularly tested once a week to help infection control and so services can be safely reopened.

The call comes as new analysis from the Labour Party highlight the increasing backlog of care building up in the health service, with an increasing number of patients waiting too long for life saving scans and tests.

Figures published by NHS England show that of the 840,742 people waiting for diagnostic tests, 468,622 are waiting more than 6 weeks for diagnostic tests. More than half, (55.7 per cent) of patients were waiting longer than six weeks for vital diagnostic tests in April 2020. In February 2020, before the pandemic hit, this was 2.8 per cent (29,832 people).

Between February 2020 and April 2020, the figures show that the number of patients waiting over 6 weeks for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), used to detect tumours throughout the body, increased by over 70,000 people. The number of people waiting for an MRI increased from 5,733 to 78,932, an increase of 1,277 per cent since February 2020. 

Likewise, the number of patients waiting over 6 weeks for:

· A Colonoscopy, used to detect bowel cancer, has increased by 520 per cent (5,234 to 32,430)

· A Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, also used to detect bowel cancer, has increased by 722 per cent (1,820 to 14,957)

· A Cystoscopy, used to detect bladder cancer, has increased by 545 per cent (1,270 to 8,190)

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:

“Ministers tell us the NHS has ‘coped’ through the Covid-19 peak but that was on the back of cancelled operations, delayed scans and diagnostic tests.

“Estimates suggest two million people are waiting for cancer screening, tests or treatment and that 1600 cases of cancer are currently left undiagnosed every month.

“It’s now urgent ministers bring forward a plan to tackle the backlog in non Covid-19 care. A vital component would be the introduction of weekly routine testing of all NHS staff to keep them and patients safe from Covid-19 while receiving treatment. We’re calling on MPs to support this motion to tackle the rapidly growing queues of their constituents waiting for treatment”.

Jonathan Ashworth responds to news that the UK Test and Trace app is switching to an Apple-Google model

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to news that the UK Test and Trace app is switching to an Apple-Google model, said:

“This is unsurprising and yet another example of where the government’s response has been slow and badly managed. It’s meant precious time and money wasted.

“For months tech experts warned ministers about the flaws in their app which is why we wrote to Matt Hancock encouraging the government to consider digital alternatives back in May.

“Ministers must now urgently prioritise building a fully effective test, trace and isolate regime lead by local expertise to break the chains of transmission of this deadly virus.”

Justin Madders comments on latest Test and Trace data

Justin Madders MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, commenting on data published today that shows one quarter of people who tested positive for coronavirus have not been contacted by Test and Trace, said:

“Expert opinion shows that to defeat this virus we need a fully functioning test and trace system, so these latest figures are hugely worrying.

“Having a quarter of those who test positive not contacted is a gaping hole in the system that urgently needs to be addressed. And questions still remain about how the app was hailed as a vital part of the system at the outset, but is now just the ‘cherry on the cake’.

“Ministers need to level with the public about how they are going to tackle these real and serious issues as a matter of urgency.”