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Volume 52 Number 10, May 7, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

High Court ruling on the unlawful discharge of hospital patients to care homes:

Criminal Actions of Government towards Care Home Residents Further Exposed

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

High Court ruling on the unlawful discharge of hospital patients to care homes:
Criminal Actions of Government towards Care Home Residents Further Exposed

For Your Reference:
Discharging hospital patients to care homes unlawful

Economic Issues of Serious Concern:
Energy Oligarchs Profiteering from the War in Ukraine

International Issues of Concern:
Russian Artists and Athletes Persecuted by International Boycotts


High Court ruling on the unlawful discharge of hospital patients to care homes:

Criminal Actions of Government towards Care Home Residents Further Exposed

On April 27, the High Court ruled that the government policies on discharging untested patients from hospital to care homes in England at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic were unlawful. Speaking outside the High Court, Cathy Gardner who lost a loved one and was one of the relatives that took the action against the government said, "Matt Hancock's claim that the government threw a protective ring around care homes in the first wave of the pandemic was nothing more than a despicable lie."


Cathy Gardner (2nd left) and Fay Harris (2nd right), whose fathers died from Covid-19, leave the Royal Courts of Justice, central London.

Boris Johnson then offered an apology at Prime Minister's Questions the same day. The following day the people found out what the government's so-called apology meant when on April 28 the Parliament and Queen approved the Health and Care Act 2022 [1]. This shows a government hell-bent on imposing the same system of lies, privatisation and cronyism on the NHS, so prevalent during its criminal actions during pandemic, which led to deaths of thousands of care home residents.

It was in April 2020 that the government admitted for the first time that the figures of the deaths of people in care homes and the community from Covid-19 were far from the truth. Workers' Weekly [2] reported then that "Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, confirmed that the figures had been 'substantially underestimated' as he appeared before the Commons Select Committee". With no hard data being recorded by the government and Office for National Statistics (ONS), it was left to the National Care Forum [3] to carry out a survey that demonstrated "a significant increase in Coronavirus related deaths within care homes". These deaths were directly caused by the government's department of health discharge policy that encouraged untested patients and Covid positive patient placement in care homes. This analysis suggests that "a total of 4,040 people may have died of this illness within UK residential and nursing services before April 13 2020. Factoring in the deaths of individuals who were admitted to hospitals, the figure is a tragic 7,337 deaths amongst our most vulnerable communities."

In October, Amnesty International UK released a report entitled As if Expendable [4] condemning the British government's "failure to protect older people in care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic". The report said that between March 2 and June 12, 18,562 residents of care homes in England died with Covid-19, including 18,168 people aged 65 and over, representing almost 40% of all deaths involving Covid-19 in England during this period. Of these deaths, 13,844 (76%) happened in care homes themselves; nearly all of the remainder occurred in a hospital. During the same period, 28,186 "excess deaths" were recorded in care homes in England, representing a 46% increase compared with the same period in previous years. These excess deaths likely include undiagnosed Covid-19 deaths, but also "underscore the broader impact of the pandemic on older people in care homes" from inability to access hospital and GP treatment services and to the devastating impact of long term isolation of residents on their physical and mental health.


The main People's Covid Inquiry ran from February 24 - June 16, 2021 on zoom

Then in December 2021, the report of the People's Covid Inquiry, Misconduct in Public Office - Why did so many thousands die unnecessarily? [5], was released. The report published the evidence presented to the eight sessions and includes some 40 inquiry witnesses, and additional video testimonies. In drawing its conclusions the report says: "The Government was not prepared for a global pandemic despite warnings that one was coming. When it arrived, they ignored clear warnings of the dangers and did too little too late. During the decade before the pandemic successive Conservative Governments had run down public services, including the NHS, public health and care services, with the result that they were already in crisis when the pandemic struck. The pandemic then shone a light on long term problems in society around inequalities and discrimination and exacerbated them. The poorest and most vulnerable were hit the hardest and died in disproportionate numbers."

The admission and "apologies" of the Prime Minster and other government ministers responsible for these thousands of deaths in care homes is yet unforgivable, not just to those who lost their loved ones, but to everyone. Not only should those responsible be brought to account for their unlawful actions, but the outdated and unacceptable corporate-led and pay-the-rich arrangements in the NHS and care sector must be changed for good. The system that ignores the lives and concerns of the people, and where the health and care workers have little or no say in these arrangements, must be changed for good. What health care workers and people in the community have been fighting for is a publicly funded and provided system of health and social care that meets the needs of all for hospital, community, mental health and care home care. Central to such a system is the necessity to empower health workers and care workers to make the crucial decisions. This includes the ability to mobilise the working class and people to their full capacity and with their full involvement, especially in times of such a crisis as the Covid-19 pandemic. Nothing less is acceptable.


Notes
1. "Imposing the Path of Privatisation and Cronyism in the NHS", Workers' Weekly, April 16, 2022
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-22/ww22-08/ww22-08-04.htm
2. "The Outdated and Unacceptable Arrangements As Government Ignores People Who Die in Care Homes", Workers' Weekly April 18, 2020
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-20/ww20-14/ww20-14-01.htm
3. "Ring of steel needed to support care homes as deaths double in a week", NCF press release, April 18, 2020
https://www.nationalcareforum.org.uk/ncf-press-releases/ring-of-steel-needed-to-support-care-homes-as-deaths-double-in-a-week
4. As if Expendable - the UK government's failure to protect older people in care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic - Amnesty International, UK.
https://www.amnesty.org.uk/files/2020-10/Care%20Homes%20Report.pdf?kd5Z8eWzj8Q6ryzHkcaUnxfCtqe5Ddg6=
5. Misconduct in Public Office - Why did so many thousands die unnecessarily?
https://www.peoplescovidinquiry.com/
Workers' Weekly March 2022
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-22/ww22-06/ww22-06-16.htm

Article Index



For Your Reference

Discharging hospital patients to care homes unlawful

In their judgment, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham found that the decisions of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to make and maintain a series of policies contained in documents issued on March 17 and 19 and April 2, 2020, were unlawful because the drafters of those documents failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission, which had been highlighted by (among others) Sir Patrick Vallance in a radio interview as early as March 13. The judges found that it was irrational for the Department of Health and Social Care not to have advised until mid-April 2020 that, where an asymptomatic patient (other than one who had tested negative for Covid-19) was admitted to a care home, he or she should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for 14 days.

Responding to the High Court care home ruling, Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of NCF, said, "During the first wave of the pandemic it was apparent that people who receive care and support, work in care and deliver care services were not on the Government's radar. The lack of prioritisation meant that testing, PPE, staffing, funding and research all came too late. The impact of hospital discharge in relation to the spread of Covid-19 within care homes has long been disputed by the Government, but this ruling helps bring a vital clarity to the situation that recognises that people who receive care and support needed more protection and should have been at the forefront of Government decision making, which they patently were not."

Reacting to the judgment, the Independent Care Group (ICG) said the sector had been badly let down. ICG Chair Mike Padgham said, "At the start of the pandemic, care and nursing homes were told to continue as normal as the risk to residents was not high. We were told to keep accepting hospital discharges even though it turned out many were coming into our homes without being tested first. The result was that Covid-19 got into care settings with devastating effect and many lives were lost as the pandemic was merciless when it reached those who were older, frail and with other medical conditions. Even so, the Government was slow to react, continuing to focus resources - in particular, PPE and testing - on NHS settings, rather than care and nursing homes."

Mike Padgham continued, "We were badly let down and the Government did the exact opposite of throwing a protective ring around the sector. Many lives were tragically lost and our thoughts are with their loved ones - we will never forget them. And we pay tribute to the amazing care staff who battled through the pandemic and have been left physically and emotionally scarred by the past two years."

He said the vital thing now was for lessons to be learned and for the care sector to get the overhaul it needs, adding, "As we digest today's ruling and emerge from the pandemic, social care deserves the reform it has been seeking for more than a generation. We deserve to see the sector properly funded, merged with NHS care and with a workforce that is properly paid - recognised, respected and rewarded. That is the least we should expect after such a devastating two years."

Helen Wildbore, Director of the Relatives and Residents Association, had a similar reaction to the ruling, saying, "This ruling confirms what people living in care and their families have known all along - the protective ring was non-existent. Older people were abandoned at the outset of the pandemic, let down by the very systems designed to protect their rights. The ruling is very welcome as a first step to justice, but bereaved families will be left asking why more wasn't done to protect their loved ones and how many lives could have been saved."

GMB, the union for care workers, also responded to the High Court ruling. Rachel Harrison, GMB's National Officer for Care, said, "Today's judgment is a terrible reminder of the callous disregard this Government has shown for care home residents and workers. Transferring untested hospital outpatients into enclosed facilities where carers were denied access to proper PPE and even sick pay was always going to have tragic consequences."

She added, "GMB members nursed much-loved residents as they died from this awful virus, while all the while worrying about their own safety and how they were going to pay the bills. If any good is to come out of this pandemic, then it must include urgent reform of the sector. Ministers and employers need to explain how they are going to care for the people who have cared for us."

Source: Care Management Matters - April 27 2022
https://www.caremanagementmatters.co.uk/discharging-hospital-patients-to-care-homes-unlawful/

Article Index



Economic Issues of Serious Concern

Energy Oligarchs Profiteering from the War in Ukraine

Shell announced record quarterly profits "as it capitalised on the volatility in global energy markets" amid the war in Ukraine, reports the Financial Times [1]. "Shell has less exposure to Russia than European rivals BP and Total though it has a complicated set of business positions to unwind as it exits the country," according to the newspaper.

The article exposes the global set-up where the production, distribution and exchange of oil and gas are controlled by giant, competing oligarchic business cartels. The FT explains: "Shell is the world's largest trader of liquefied natural gas and a big trader of oil. Prices for LNG, in particular, have soared as European efforts to reduce dependence on piped gas from Russia have increased competition for cargoes of the fuel. Shell produced 8mn tonnes of LNG in the first quarter and sold 18.3mn tonnes..."

One aspect of the war is contention over energy markets and corridors, and over which energy corridors dominate in the world. The part of the world integrated into NATO, and therefore into the US imperialist war-machine, is seeking independence from Russian gas. Private oligarchy interests are at stake, and contradictions are breaking out over whether to boycott or continue to use Russian fuels.

LNG, natural gas in liquid form, is increasingly being used both industrially and domestically, and is seen as key in disconnecting from Russia. It should be noted that this has environmental consequences, as the process of liquefaction itself consumes a significant amount of energy [2].

Shell is a global oil and gas monopoly headquartered in London, with historical roots in Britain and the Netherlands, and is a major global power in LNG, operating a fifth of the world's LNG vessels [2]. Such cartels analyse developments and take individual positions, lining up with others, contradicting yet others, according to their own narrow interests aimed at making the biggest scores. All of these oligopolies at present are making vast sums out of energy price inflation.

"Adjusted earnings at Europe's largest oil company rose to $9.1bn in the first three months of the year, almost three times the $3.2bn it recorded a year earlier. That beat average analyst estimates of $8.7bn and was up from $6.4bn in the final three months of 2021," writes the FT. "The results complete a set of bumper first-quarter earnings for the world's biggest oil and gas companies... BP reported underlying profits of $6.2bn, its highest since 2008, while Norway's state-controlled Equinor recorded its highest ever quarterly pre-tax earnings of $18bn."

"The group's profits were driven by its oil production and integrated gas divisions, which generated $4.1bn and $3.5bn in adjusted earnings respectively, and by a strong performance from its traders," added the newspaper, and noted that "Shell shares rose more than 3% in early trading on Thursday."

"It's not just a war profit as some people would like to point out," Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said unashamedly. "It is very much also the performance of the company, which has significantly strengthened in the run-up and also during the pandemic."

Giving further details, the Financial Times writes:

"Shell had been able to redirect some of its cargoes of LNG to Europe to meet surging demand, chief financial officer Sinead Gorman said, resulting in trading and optimisation earnings that were similar to the previous quarter for gas and 'significantly higher' for oil products."

Further:

"Shell had less exposure to Russia than European rivals BP and Total. Before the war, Russia was expected to contribute 5 per cent of Shell's total oil and gas production in 2022, compared with 16 per cent for Total and 28 per cent for BP, according to investment bank Jefferies.

"Nevertheless, it has a complicated set of business positions to unwind as it exits the country, including a 27.5 per cent stake in the Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas project with Gazprom, two other joint ventures with the state-owned company, a retail network, a lubricants business and a stake in the now shelved Nordstream 2 project.

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"Despite the lack of potential buyers given Russia's growing isolation, van Beurden insisted Shell was making 'good progress' in its efforts to sell its Russian assets. 'It is a commercial process, it is not abandonment,' he said."

This is hardly the first time that the energy oligarchs, in particular those in charge of the Shell monopoly, have made a killing taking advantage of global crises. For instance, in 2008 Shell recorded the biggest annual profits in British corporate history at £14bn, which were branded by trade union leaders and others as obscene. At the time, Shell said that it had no intention of cutting back on its operations, saying it needed to increase production to meet rising demand and unveiling controversial plans to start oil operations in Iraq. Then as now, trade union leaders demanded a "windfall tax". In 2008, Tony Woodley, then joint general secretary of Unite, now Baron Woodley, said that a special tax was needed for greedy companies such as Shell. Now trade union leaders such as Howard Beckett of Unite, together with MPs such as Ed Miliband and others, are echoing this call. Nor is Shell the only oil company under fire for record profits. BP reported its highest quarterly profit in more than a decade, as the reports point out.

Calls for a windfall tax have been rebuffed by claims that the majors will start to clean up their acts. Experience shows that this is not going to happen. The claim flies in the face of the control and ownership of these mega-companies by rich oligarchs, who are in effect holding working people to ransom. These private interests are what is at stake and must be challenged.

Notes
1. "Shell makes record profits as Ukraine war shakes energy markets", Financial Times, May 5, 2022
https://www.ft.com/content/b2713bd1-afa5-4638-ab2d-be0c4e8a7ab7
2. "For Your Information: The LNG Canada Project", TML Weekly (Supplement), April 11, 2020
https://cpcml.ca/Tmlw2020/Articles/W50012S3.HTM

Article Index



International Issues of Concern

Russian Artists and Athletes Persecuted by International Boycotts

Musicians and others in the cultural and sports spheres are being persecuted by arbitrary imposition of banning or boycotts, when the "west" or "international community" decrees. This is meeting with opposition and condemnation from many circles whether they take a position on the Russian military operation in Ukraine or not. Among those artists with a high international profile who have been affected are conductor Valery Gergiev, pianist Boris Berezovsky, and soprano Anna Netrebko.

Russia's teams are banned from international soccer and hockey tournaments and the Paralympics. Russian tennis players are also being barred from participating in the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Among those raising concerns is Russian-German pianist Igor Levit. He said, "It's an absolute insanity to strip concerts away from young Russian musicians just because they're afraid."


Soviet War Memorial in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, by the Imperial War Museum. On Novermber 14 2021, as every year on Remembrance Sunday, flowers were laid at the ceremony honouring those who had made the supreme sacrifice in the defeat of fascism in the Second World War, in particular those of our allies the glorious Soviet Red Army, who played the main role in the defeat of Nazi Germany.

What is happening is that everything except one point of view is being blocked out. There is an attempt on a global scale to have peoples everywhere line up behind what the establishment say is the correct view. Everything else is termed anti-thought and wrong. So the issue is really about finding and being able to express one's voice. This issue of speaking in our own name becomes the all important and crucial point. The issue of speaking in our own name and who decides what is what is the deciding factor. With Ukraine, the US, British and other governments who have been for years pursuing a programme of isolating and encircling Russia are now deciding who is right and wrong and who gets to have a say. The way the issue is being posed is to attempt to deprive people of an outlook. People are not being given the context or the information allowing them to make up our own minds, nor to ideologise about the issues as they see them or as political and social issues or concerns.

Furthermore, there is the issue of vantage point. People are being told that the powers-that-be know what is the case: that Ukraine is the beleaguered state and that the aggressor is Russia. End of. Their perspective is that there can be no thinking beyond this view. They deny that there can be another view or thinking.

Therefore, the question goes immediately from this to raise the issue of what our vantage point should be. How do we see the problem as it is represented? What resolution do we think would bring about an advancement for the working class and people? That is the real question. Any other question regarding taking sides in this debate and this conflict is encouraging the entrenchment of divisions and preventing any meaningful and real solutions.

The way the Russian musicians and peoples and businesses are being targeted is very dangerous. Everyone is being enjoined to take sides. But as with the conception of a government system after the Westminster model, with the cartel parties fighting a turf war and dividing the people, the agenda has long since been decided and we, the people, are merely asked to choose this or that policy. What is being marginalised is the people's right to determine what is the agenda and what kind of society they want.

People must not be treated as voting fodder to ratify the diktat of the ruling elites and what has already been decided. What is desperately needed instead is for the people to do their own thinking. Targeting individuals or collectives on the basis of their being Russian only serves to divide people and promote the agenda of those in power.

The powers-that-be act as though the issue is already decided. It cannot be! The banning and boycotting of Russian artists and athletes is unjust and cannot and must not be accepted.

Article Index




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