THE TORY government is dumping the National Health Service (NHS), the publicly funded healthcare system in the UK.
It is seeking help from private health companies to deliver critical treatments such as cancer surgery, as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 keeps surging amid a healthcare staff shortage.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has ordered England’s NHS to strike a 3-month agreement with private health companies to allow patients to get specific treatments, as the NHS hospitals are getting overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases.
David Sloman, NHS England (NHSE) chief operating officer and Covid incident director said on Monday the deal ‘places independent health providers on standby to provide further help should hospitals face unsustainable levels of hospitalisations or staff absences.’
The British government faced the highest level of hospital staff absence in early January since the vaccine rollout, National Health Service (NHS) data shows.
The agreement includes Practice Plus Group, Spire Healthcare, Circle Health Group, and several other leading private companies, according to the NHS.
Circle CEO Paolo Pieri said the company has been helping the NHS since the first Covid wave in March 2020, performing urgent treatments for over 400,000 NHS patients.
According to Spire Healthcare, under the agreed deal the company ‘will grant NHSE access to 100 per cent of its facilities and teams on local, regional or national basis in the event of a surge of Covid-19 patients in NHS hospitals in England.’
Spire said the deal expires on March 31, 2022.
The new plan comes in the wake of the highest level of hospital staff absence in England since the vaccine rollout began.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has meanwhile expressed sorrow over the ‘terrible toll’ of more than 150,000 deaths inflicted by the Coronavirus in the United Kingdom.
The UK’s death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic has reached more than 150,100, making it the world’s seventh worst official pandemic toll.
PM Johnson confirmed the number and expressed sorrow over the fatalities last weekend. He said the Coronavirus has ‘taken a “terrible toll” on the country.’
Housing Secretary Michael Gove was at pains to assert that there is mounting pressure on UK hospitals and the country is not yet in a position to live with the pandemic.
- The Tory government faced the highest level of hospital staff absence in early January since the vaccine rollout, data from the National Health Service (NHS) shows.
The new NHS England figures, published last Friday, showed that an average record number of 35,596 staff had been absent in the past week, a level last seen at the height of the second wave of the pandemic in England in January 2021.
Furthermore, the data showed 39,142 NHS staff at hospital trusts in England had been absent for Covid-19-related reasons on January 2 only, marking a 59-per cent increase in contrast to the previous week.
Considering non-Covid absences, the number would reach more than 80,000 staff each day on average. Around half of staff absences were due to Covid-19.
Covid-19 infections across the UK hit record high levels in all parts of the country just before Christmas, with an estimated 2.3 million cases, new figures show.
Speaking to Sky News last Friday, Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, council chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), said: ‘We have never known this level of staff absence before.’
‘Every winter of course, the NHS has additional pressures, but I don’t think anyone who’s worked in the NHS has experienced this level of absence of their colleagues,’ he added.
The situation in the North East and Yorkshire was even worse, with a total of 8,788 absent staff at hospital trusts on January 2, up 110 per cent from the 4,179 reported on Boxing Day, according to NHS England data.
Meanwhile, Patricia Marquis, the Royal College of Nursing’s director for England, said the staff shortage was also affecting other sectors in the UK. ‘Outside of healthcare, staffing shortages are closing shops and cancelling trains,’ she said.
- Yesterday the future of the Tory leader was begun to be decided in the House of Commons.
The issue is that Johnson broke his own anti-Covid regulations by holding a Downing Street drinks party
An E mail has been produced that PROVES DOWNING STREET STAFF HELD A DRINKS PARTY AT HEIGHT OF LOCKDOWN.
Downing Street staff were invited to a drinks party in the Number 10 garden during the height of nationwide lockdown to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’.
An email shared exclusively with ITV News provides the first evidence of a party on May 20, 2020, when the rest of the country was banned from meeting more than one other person outdoors.
The email was sent by the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds to over a hundred employees in Number 10, including the Prime Minister’s advisors, speechwriters and door staff.
In it, Reynolds – a senior No 10 civil servant who has run Boris Johnson’s private office since October 2019 – says:
‘After what has been an incredibly busy period it would be nice to make the most of the lovely weather and have some socially distanced drinks in the No10 garden this evening.
‘Please join us from 6pm and bring your own booze!’
ITV News understands around 40 staff gathered in the garden that evening, eating picnic food and drinking. Crucially, they included the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie Johnson.
The May 20 party was first alluded to in a blog by the Prime Minister’s former advisor Dominic Cummings last Friday.
The email follows allegations about staff gathering in the garden on a separate occasion on May 15, with a photograph emerging of Johnson and his wife sitting with No 10 staff, including Martin Reynolds, on the terrace with a bottle of wine and cheese.
Downing Street has previously insisted that the photograph showed a work meeting. But the email about the drinks party on May 20 makes it clear that this was a social gathering, which is far harder to explain away.
Less than an hour before the drinks, the then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had reminded the rest of England at the daily press conference that they must only meet in pairs outdoors.
On the 20th May he said: ‘You can meet one person outside of your household in an outdoor, public place provided that you stay two metres apart.’
Guidance allowing the ‘rule of six’ outdoors wasn’t brought in until June 2020 and large gatherings remained banned.
The latest revelations have led to fresh calls for the Prime Minister to be questioned as part of the internal inquiry into a series of parties in Downing Street, launched after ITV News aired footage of Number 10 staff laughing and joking about an event on December 19 2020.
In that video, the Prime Minister’s then spokesperson Allegra Stratton suggested that there had been ‘no social distancing’ at the event, which staff jokingly referred to as a ‘business meeting’ with ‘cheese and wine’.
ITV News later revealed that the Prime Minister’s Head of Communications, Jack Doyle, handed out awards to staff at the party and made a speech.
Since then, there have been allegations of multiple other parties.
The cabinet office inquiry into the allegations is currently being carried out by senior civil servant Sue Gray, who took over from the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case due to allegations that he knew of at least one party himself.
ITV News understands that the drinks party on May 20 will form part of the ongoing investigations, with the inquiry due to report back this month.
When Johnson was asked on Monday if he and his wife attended the party on May 20, he replied: ‘All that, as you know, is the subject of a proper investigation by Sue Gray.’
Downing Street told ITV News it would not comment on the story due to the Sue Gray inquiry.