Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Archive for the ‘Health Service Executive (HSE) Ireland’ Category

Faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, our lives are more worth than their profits – Fourth International European Declaration

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The workers’ movement, and all progressive forces, have a duty to resist the Covid-19 Assault, and put forward practical proposals which will work at local, national, and international levels. The full text of a Fourth International Declaration is here : http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article6517 Key extracts are below.

International Viewpoint

Emergency measures

The organizations and activists of the Fourth International in Europe, together with their respective organizations, are in favour of a programme of emergency measures:

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the injection of sufficient means for the mass availability of screening kits, the multiplication of resuscitation beds and respirators. Generalization to the entire population of suitable protective masks and biologic tests is the condition for confinement lifting. Immediate support for democratically controlled production of these means and for non-commercial research for medicines and vaccines against Covid-19.

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“ Dialysis Machine Shortages Lay Bare Wider Threat From Covid-19” – Bombshell Story from the Financial Times, April 7 2020

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A bombshell story appears on the same day that most Mainstream Media Outlets Worldwide are Over-Blitzing readers about the British Prime Minister staying in hospital.

Leading London hospitals are running short of vital equipment in intensive care wards, including blood dialysis machines needed to treat patients suffering from coronavirus-related kidney failure, according to a leaked memo. The shortages, which go far beyond concerns about the lack of ventilators and protective equipment, emerged from a conference call of some 80 senior National Health Service doctors. They illustrate the way Covid-19 can damage much more than the lungs and respiratory system in patients who become seriously ill — affecting the kidneys, heart and occasionally even the brain. The 1,000-word memo, seen by the Financial Times, is written by Daniel Martin, head of intensive care for serious infectious diseases at the Royal Free Hospital. It paints a picture of doctors and nurses still scrambling to develop treatments for coronavirus as the shortages bite.

The Financial Times Uses Excellent Editorial Judgement – Covid-19 Can Trigger Multi-Organ Failure – Critical Shortage of Dialysis Machines in the British State – “Johnson remains in hospital” a minor story
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Acting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the Volunteer Doctor – Celebrity Distraction, Hindrance to Health Services?

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A worker asks us if the celebrity actions of the Irish Acting Taoiseach are a help or a hindrance to the war against the CoronaVirus Epidemic.

Seriously. What worries me is not Leo the Doctor, but Leo the Taoiseach.

I think the discussion on whether he worked as a Doctor and has the experience or not is not the real issue. This ‘fact’, whatever it is, has very little value, if any at all, in terms of our situation, our lives and the state of the health system and the country as a whole.

  1. He is paid and uses his authority as the leader of the country, not as a volunteer Doctor.
  2. As a volunteer Doctor, his actions or his help is no bigger or smaller, no more or less significant than thousands of other healthcare workers. Why this big fuss, big media headline?
  3. Why, because the mainstream media is on this “let’s be positive at all costs” trip. Leo has now a new PR machine.
  4. We just got defective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shipped from China. Total incompetence.
  5. Nurses and other workers in hospitals are not fully protected in terms of PPE. Listen to nurses.
  6. Student nurses are NOT paid as we believed to be the case. Fact.
  7. Private hospitals are NOT nationalised as we believed to be the case.
  8. Workers are facing serious problems, in terms of ambiguity of definition of essential/essential services, health and safety other challenges from bosses. Listen to workers.
  9. People in homeless hubs, hostels, or in overcrowded family conditions – cannot self- isolate.
  10. Asylum seekers in Direct provision are living in extremely dangerous conditions.
  11. Doctor Leo Varadkar the Taoiseach still targets the poorest, lowest paid workers in his latest statement (See the IT piece today)
  12. People are extremely worried about piling up rent and utility bills.

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Ireland Locks Down – Paul Murphy TD “Requisition Personal Protective Equipment For Health Staff Who Need It”

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Statement, Paul Murphy TD

All non-essential work finally being stopped. Construction sites, factories and call centres should now come to a halt, stopping workers and their families being placed in further danger. This has to be matched with requisitioning of Personal Protective Equipment to get it to our health staff who need it, and we need to take-over and direct production in factories to manufacturing PPE and ventilators. Public health before private profit!

Paul Murphy and Supporters, Campaigning Before Irish General Election February 8 2020

Taoiseach Varadkar announces :

stay at home in all circumstances, except in exceptional circumstances such as work and to get essential goods

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Statement on the Irish government’s response to COVID-19 in Direct Provision – MASI

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Irish State Racism in Action

Direct Provision Centre, Milltown-Malbay, County Clare

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland is appalled by the discriminatory response to the Covid19 pandemic in Direct Provision. On the 20th March 2020, MASI asked members of the public to email Minister Charlie Flanagan with a simple ask: protect asylum seekers in Direct Provision by ensuring that they are able observe all the Health Service Executive guidelines on social distancing and self isolation, particularly for asylum seekers 60 years of age or older, people with pre-existing health conditions, and asylum seekers in shared and crammed bedrooms, and other congregated gatherings such as canteens during meal times.

This is because asylum seekers around the country are following news and updates from the Health Service Executive on what measures they can take to protect themselves and people around them from the Covid19 pandemic. The guidelines were also posted on notice boards in Direct Provision centres and efforts were made to translate them into some foreign languages. However, the HSE posters on social distancing are useless to an asylum seeker sharing a tiny bedroom with a stranger or as many as 7 other strangers, having to use communal bathrooms and congregate in a canteen for meals 3 times a day. MASI was not surprised to learn that an asylum seeker in a hostel styled Direct Provision centre contracted the virus. We are pleased to hear that he is doing well.
— Read on www.masi.ie/2020/03/27/statement-on-the-irish-governments-response-to-covid-19-in-direct-provision/

See Also : https://tomasoflatharta.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/ciuin-house-carrick-on-shannon-county-leitrim-gombeen-state-racism-in-ireland/

A view from Madrid during the crisis

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From the Cedar Lounge Revolution Site : Jason O’Toole, well known in this parish, has a piece in the Mirror about the situation in Madrid where he’s currently based. Troubling is the word … Madrid is eerily like a ghost town since being put on a near-total lockdown nine days ago.

But the deafening silence has been broken every single night by Madrilenos – as locals are called – taking to their balconies at 8pm to applaud the doctors and nurses on the front lines saving lives.

It provides only light relief to Spain’s 47-million population is only allowed to leave home for work, buy food or visit the pharmacy.

A view from Madrid during the crisis

The story is dark. We also learn that every evening Madrilenos emerge from their homes to sing and chant, supporting each other and health workers battling the CoronaVirus. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-spain-balcony-sing/amid-coronavirus-blues-balcony-singer-helps-madrilenos-to-party-on-idUSKBN21723W

Another story from the Spanish State is very grim reading, and we should prepare ourselves for similar events in Ireland

“Spanish Military Finds Dead Bodies And Seniors ‘Completely Abandoned’ In Care Homes” https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/03/24/820711855/spanish-military-finds-dead-bodies-and-seniors-completely-abandoned-in-care-home

With more than 39,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,800 deaths as of Tuesday, Spain is the second hardest-hit country in Europe

Last week, one privately owned home in Madrid reported 20 deaths and 75 infections, claiming it didn’t have adequate material to take care of the sick residents and dead bodies.

Spanish army troops disinfecting nursing homes in Madrid found some residents living in squalor among the infectious bodies of people who authorities suspect died from the coronavirus.
Manu Fernandez/AP

Written by tomasoflatharta

Mar 24, 2020 at 8:01 pm

Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann Offers CoronaVirus Unnecessary Deaths in Ireland – North, South, East and West

with 2 comments

Professor Gabriel Scally came to the attention of many people in Ireland because of his no-holds-barred examination of a Cervical Smear Scandal in the Irish Health Service. https://www.thejournal.ie/scally-review-outsourcing-labs-4677380-Jun2019/

Scally assesses the behaviour of Stormont Government Health Minister Robin Swann (recent leader of the Ulster Unionist Party)

Robin  Swan n Must  Go!
Robin Swann Must Go!

Professor Gabriel Scally writes :

Ridiculous assertion on BBC from N Ireland minister @RobinSwannMoH

“the RoI has worse #corvid19 position than N Ireland.”

The South has more cases. But that’s because they have 32 community based testing stations. The North has ZERO and stopped testing in communities last week https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1240923430318456832

Here is A Sharp Comment

Siubhán O’Connor@siubhanoc·Replying to @GabrielScally and @RobinSwannMoHSwann is so utterly blinded by his bias…ppl in the South with NO SYMPTOMS are getting tested where they are deemed ‘at risk’. Our maintenance man has COPD & has been referred for test. 2 day wait. NI is in serious trouble

The Irish Examiner Reports “Public health specialist Dr Gabriel Scally, Honorary Professor of Public Health in Bristol University, has described the UK’s policy on Covid-19 as “way out of line” with the rest of Europe and advice from the World Health Organisation.

Dr Gabriel Scally
Dr Gabriel Scally

“I think it’s dangerous. Their view really is let this fire burn and they will try and damp it down where they can and spread it out over a period of time. 

“But we know from elsewhere in the world that if countries and communities act fast, this can be kept under control and knocked back.”

The UK approach is similar to the old adage: “Everyone is out of step with our Johnny”, he said. 

“If the UK has got it right, then the rest of the world has got it wrong. And I don’t think that’s likely.

“I think it’s displayed by some of their appalling science that they’re talking about, using herd immunity. 

They are reliant on mathematical modelling but this is not a mathematical modelling issue.

Dr Scally said that if there was one threat to how things are being handled in the Republic of Ireland, it is the UK’s position. 

People in Northern Ireland need to be demanding better from their leaders and they themselves need to do a better job.

“They’re following along blindly this notion that somehow all of the wisdom is emanating from Number 10 Downing Street and we know that to be wrong. 

“Even the United States is taking a more proactive approach than the UK.” https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/closing-borders-would-make-things-worse-says-disease-prevention-and-control-expert-988199.html

Readers should also note from the Irish Examiner report that Public Health Experts Oppose the Closing of Borders

“Dr Agoritsa Baka said that given there is already community transmission of the virus in European countries, “we need to collaborate to make sure everyone can deal with the virus in a coordinated way.”

Closing borders would make things worse, she said and would negatively affect the function of healthcare systems, as was seen during the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Dr Baka said that if, for example, Germany closed its border “everything, like food supplies, personal protection equipment cannot move around Europe, and it would be a disaster.”

Let’s Get Real – Swann Must Go! The Stormont Health Minister has already guaranteed unnecessary death and illness in the North of Ireland – and, because so many people travel daily across the Irish Border in both directions, Swann has guaranteed unnecessary death and illness in the South East and West of Ireland.

Nursing home staff spread coronavirus to other facilities, CDC investigation finds – Los Angeles Times

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This is a scary factual report about the spread of the CoVid-19 illness in an American Nursing Home based in Seattle, Washington State.

A key cause of the crisis was :

low wages in nursing homes and assisted-living centers force many staffers to work in multiple facilities. Certified nursing assistants often make no more than minimum wage, and nurses typically receive less than they do in hospitals.

In addition, a sense of duty and financial stress may tempt employees to come to work sick, endangering elderly residents who have underlying health conditions.

Could this happen in Ireland? The answer has to be Yes.

Of the deaths linked to the nursing home, one was a visitor and the rest were patients.

The advanced age of many long-term care facility residents, their underlying health conditions and their proximity to one another put them at risk for sickness and death, the report said.

Life Care residents infected by the virus ranged from 54 to 100 years old, with a median age of 81.

“Substantial morbidity and mortality might be averted if all long-term care facilities take steps now to prevent exposure of their residents to COVID-19,” the report said.

Infected Life Care workers ranged from 22 to 79 years old.

A spokesman for the nursing home said Wednesday that managers welcomed the CDC report, because it could alert other facilities and lead to new guidelines.

“For us this is all positive, even if there are things they found that we could have done better,” said Timothy Killian, a crisis communications specialist, on behalf of Life Care.

He said that two or three days after the outbreak was discovered, staff members were banned from working at other facilities.

“As soon as we had an idea that this was something that shouldn’t be done, we stopped,” he said.

Killian said that “it’s a relatively common practice” for nurses to work in multiple long-term care facilities.

Dr. Michael Wasserman, president of the California Assn. of Long Term Care Medicine, said that low wages in nursing homes and assisted-living centers force many staffers to work in multiple facilities. Certified nursing assistants often make no more than minimum wage, and nurses typically receive less than they do in hospitals.

In addition, a sense of duty and financial stress may tempt employees to come to work sick, endangering elderly residents who have underlying health conditions.
— Read on www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-03-18/coronavirus-spread-nursing-homes

“Never Waste A Good Crisis” – Big Economic Recession Coming Our Way – Irish Ruling Class Cuts “Meals on Wheels” – EU Leaders Pour Petrol ⛽️ on Flames 🔥

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An Irish Warning : Sam Nolan reports his HSE “meals on wheels” service has been suspended. Friends and Comrades are rallying, Sam will be supported. Des Derwin reacts, very perceptively :

“I’m speechless. Just as an expanded service is needed. Have y’all noticed how the (Fine Gael!) state is building up its repressive apparatus for the crisis. Templemore early graduation trainees given crash course in public order (read riot control). New standing public order unit. (WTF?!) Scores of hired in Garda cars to ‘help the vulnerable’. Maybe the HSE is transferring the meals on wheels service to An Garda Siochana.”

Former SYRIZA Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis Analyses the European Union Response :

Those of us who know how the Eurogroup works were not holding much hope yesterday. Nevertheless, Europe’s finance ministers managed to do even less than what we feared: They failed to use the fiscal compact’s proviso for loosening up fiscal policy across the euro area. They continued with the tragic error of treating a crisis of insolvency as a crisis of liquidity. And they failed to recognise that some countries, in particular those savaged by the never-ending euro crisis, need a great deal more support than others.
In short, the Eurogroup’s bazooka is no more than a pathetic waterpistol. It is time that Europeans pushed for something better than this. It is time that we organise at a transnational, paneuropean level to replace this instrument of austerity-driven recession, the Eurogroup, with an institution that can work for a majority of Europeans everywhere.

APPENDIX: The Eurogroup’s telling reference to “automatic stabilisers”
The Eurogroup communique referred to the “full use of automatic stabilisers”. What did they mean?
Here is an example of an ‘automatic stabiliser’: When people lose their job, they go on unemployment benefit. This means a transfer of money from the better off to the worse off. As the worse off, who are now unemployed, save nothing and, therefore, more of the money of the better off enters the markets. That’s what economists refer to as an ‘automatic stabiliser’ (‘automatic’ because no government decision was needed to activate it – the loss of jobs does it automatically | and ‘stabiliser’ because the higher portion of spending relative to savings boosts GDP ).
Can you see dear reader what the Eurogroup are really saying when confessing to relying to the ‘automatic stabilisers’ in the absence of concerted fiscal expansion? They are saying: Don’t worry folks. While it is true we, the finance ministers, are doing almost nothing to avert the disaster, when the disaster comes your job losses and poverty will trigger some automatic mechanism that will break the economy’s fall. A little like consoling the victims of the plague with their thought that their death will, through shrinking the labour supply, boost future wages…

Some Proposals for Resistance :

DiEM25’s answer to: What should they have done?
At the very least, the Eurogroup should have recommended to the European Council that the European Investment Bank is given the green light to issue EIB bonds worth €600 billion with the stipulation that, as part of its ongoing and recently enhanced quantitative easing program, the European Central Bank will support the value of these bonds in the bond markets. That €600 billion should be spent directly to support national health services and also be invested in sectors of the economy badly hit by the lockdown – while also nudging our economy toward greener forms of transport, energy generation etc. Additionally, the fiscal compact should be immediately side-lined and governments should effect a tax haircut for small and medium sized firms, households etc.
The above would probably be enough not to avert but to contain the recession to something like between -1% and -2% of GDP. To avert it completely, the Eurogroup should have decided to mimic Hong Kong and have the European Central Bank mint an emergency fund from which every European household is given between €1000 and €2000.