Published: Wednesday, 05 January 2022 22:29
The announcement today that the Scottish Government, having paid the usual lip service to the idea that they're at least a bit better than the Tories in Westminster, started moves towards abandoning good public health practice (i.e. abandoned "following the science") in favour, once again, of satisfying the demands of business to get people back to work quicker.
The key change was the reduction of "self-isolation" periods to 7 days - provided the person doesn't have a fever and has had 2 negative Lateral Flow Tests (one on the 6th day since testing positive and the second a day later).
It is well known, however, that LFTs are barely 50% likely to detect a known positive case, so even 2 tests make it likely that nearly a quarter of positive asymptomatic people will appear safe to return on day 7.
That's assuming they are honest about the result and don't just lie because they feel a bit better and the boss is putting them under pressure to come back early. Of course, we expect employers to use this change to pressure workers back to work when there is some doubt as to whether they are safe to do so. Sure, that person may be fine but what about the other workers and clients they then go on to infect and any vulnerable people that this then results in serious illness for?
At the same time in the midst of record rising cases (particularly among the youngest), our schools are once again set to return as an ocean of cross infection with the pathetic fig leaf of a request for teenagers to do an LFT the day before they go back and nothing changing for primaries.
You can't spin your way out of a pandemic, however. These short-term scams will likely back-fire as numbers of infected workers escalate as a result.
More serious though, is the real risk this all exposes vulnerable people to. This is tantamount to the kind of negligence that saw so many care home residents die in the first wave of the pandemic.
Against a political current where commentators are already being briefed to talk about using (the already broken due to years of under-funding and under-staffing) social care services to somehow cure the problem of hospitals delayed discharge, we can see there will be no end of management drivel talked about, such as "enablement models" and other propaganda designed to excuse pushing people out into the community with insufficient care and support.
Once again, our care givers are being set up to fail, as they struggle to cover shortages and increasing demands.
Such tactics were already being employed before the pandemic as local residential care homes were redesignated short-term "enablement" centres aimed at returning people to their domestic setting. "People prefer to be at home" was the mantra. Of course they do, until they can no longer care for themselves in that setting. When that happens, we will no longer have the capacity to offer them more permanent care. So at that stage, they will be more likely to be ill-served by a stretched community care service that is already on its knees.
Perhaps the plan really is for COVID to "prove mildly economically beneficial in the long term by disproportionately culling elderly dependents", as proposed by one Telegraph newspaper journalist back in 2020?
We are hearing of unsustainable numbers of people being discharged with alarm pendants, as if these are a magical solution, simply to get them out of hospital. This has been happening for some time, with no matching increase in numbers of care responders. We are even hearing now that some people, sadly, do not even have the capacity to use the elective button pressing function of the pendants and instead dependence is being placed on the device's ability to detect a fall!
Social care workers are not produced overnight and pay, working conditions and the stress of this highly responsible (and now SSSC registered) role is not encouraging recruitment - that was without the venture int split shift working. The apparent extra funding provided to social care has vanished into stretched budgets without any real improvement that has been noticed by those at the sharp end of care provision. Nor, we suspect, despite their efforts, by the people they provide care for.
We demand that the governments force those sections of industry that have done rather well throughout the pandemic (even without blatant fraud) to dig deeper and properly fund public services, so that we don't have to put up with dishonest shortcuts on public health and other vital services.
We are about to see another round of real terms cuts to both services and the pay and conditions of the people who work providing them. We will not support the whistling in the dark that is currently the modus operandi of public service leadership and politicians, locally and nationally.
Our society demands better treatment and, as public servants, we refuse to continue watching things burn down around us.
We will call out those who continue to try to dress up a sow's ear as a silk purse. That currently applies to the UK and Scottish Governments and the leadership of our local councils, including Dundee City.
- We are currently consulting members on the shape of next year's pay claim and the action needed to win a real-terms increase.
- We cannot continue to simply accept what comes and negotiation doesn't get you very far without action to back it up.
- We're asking all members to think what they can do to help force employers and politicians to take our demands seriously.
- Get involved and help change our services and working life for the better. Complete the survey, come to the AGM, use your vote in future ballots and vote for action.