002-Newsletter- May 2020

Welsh News

1. Covid -19 

 We are indebted to Julie James Member of the Senedd for Swansea West for the following.  

The National Assembly for Wales is now known as Welsh Parliament or Senedd Cymru.  Members will be known as ‘Aelodau o’r Senedd’ (AS) or ‘Members of the Senedd’ (MS). (Reminder  AM’s  email addresses have changed if you have any stored in your list of contacts).    

In these difficult times, responding to the Coronavirus crisis is the priority of the Senedd and its Members. In doing so, we are determined that our national parliament should continue to play its part, holding  government to account, scrutinising emergency powers and, as members, representing our communities to the best of our ability.

 Since lockdown:

a).  We were the first part of the UK to suspend routine work in the NHS, to give the NHS time to prepare for coronavirus, including staff to be retrained in the skills they need to treat patients. 

b). This helped the Welsh NHS to prepare for coronavirus.  Having a national planned and provided NHS Wales has meant we have been able to double the number of critical care beds, with more coming online every week; we have distributed over 600 ventilators and CPAP machines, have more ventilators on order which will double capacity, and up to 7,000 extra hospital beds are being created – increasing NHS Wales’ bed numbers by up to 70%. 

c)  We began testing symptomatic individuals returning from their travels for COVID-19 on 29 January and we have been testing frontline NHS staff since 7 March – two weeks before routine testing of NHS staff began in England. 

d)  We are funding the provision of PPE for all care homes in Wales including private care homes who are able to draw from local stocks at no cost to themselves. NHS England’s PPE for private care homes is being distributed to wholesalers who then charge the care homes.  

 e) PPE is being distributed from our central stores and pandemic stocks to all health boards for use by hospital and primary care staff and to local authority joint stores for onward delivery to all social care settings.

f). We have had an overwhelming response from Welsh companies to our call to action to manufacture PPE and equipment for the Welsh NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 300 companies are supporting our national effort to produce vital PPE supplies – including Penderyn Whiskey which is producing Hand Sanitiser for our NHS and Airbus which is producing ventilators.

g). Wales is the first country of the UK to make a new once a month injection for recovering heroin addicts routinely available. The new service will replace daily oral medication services to support recovering addicts, helping to relieve pressure on pharmacy and NHS services during the coronavirus pandemic.

h).  All GP practices in Wales can now access a new system, which allows people to have online appointments with their doctor and other healthcare professionals within the community. Thanks to our national organisation delivering technology and first class digital health systems needed for modern patient care in Wales, this is a service already used widely in primary care. Its success is not able to be replicated in the fragmented system in NHS England.

i).  Wales is using a single, self-swab test for coronavirus in the drive-through testing centres. This means the test is carried out by the person being tested in their own car – a healthcare worker is not exposed to a potentially symptomatic person when the test is being carried out. This test was developed in Wales, it is over 95% effective, less invasive, more pleasant for patients and does not require fluid for transport. 

j)  We are providing an extra thank you payment of up to £500 to every social care worker and domiciliary care worker in Wales, to provide some further recognition of the value we attach to everything they are doing. We are challenging the UK Government to not tax this payment or penalise people with working tax credits or other benefits. 

k) Other Welsh Government changes include regulations on: exercise, social distancing in the workplace, attendance at funerals, and use of caravan and camping sites. Arrangements have been made for foodbanks, providing funding to  local authorities and using local authorities to coordinate Free School Meal funding now and throughout the summer. Free childcare for key workers, access to IT support for Teachers and pupils at home, financial support for businesses, and free transport for NHS workers has also been supported.

 Moving forward, the First Minister has published a framework to lead Wales out of the pandemic. This includes seven questions which will help determine whether restrictions should be lifted. Decisions about when restrictions will be eased will be based on the best available health and scientific advice and any easing will be accompanied by a Wales-wide coronavirus surveillance, testing and contact-tracing programme, which is being developed by the Chief Medical Officer for Wales. Wales is taking an internationalist approach to facing the pandemic, drawing in expertise from around the world to help is secure our future, starting with a series of meetings with globally recognised experts in their field.

2. SHA  Zoom meeting : Labour Stage Two policy papers

 Zoom meetings to discuss the Stage Two policy document on health and social care  (link attached) are being arranged for: 18th May between 11 am and 12 40pm, 19th May at 7pm until 8-40pm, and 26th May between 2pm and 3.40 pm.  (Each session will deal with Labour’s Health and Care paper). To attend a meeting please email Tony Beddow with your preferred date and you will be sent the details for joining that session. This is an opportunity to shape Labour policy for the forthcoming Senedd elections. It is also a means to hold the Party in the Senedd to account for their work on delivering party policy agreed at the last Welsh Conference – for example to reduce health inequalities in Wales. To make best use of the limited time available via Zoom, please come prepared to offer you view on issues that are not covered in the policy document but ought to be, and any item in the document that you feel is  unwise or unclear. The link below connects you to Labour’s policy page.       

3. SHA Cymru Wales closed Facebook page

 With thanks to Linda Lewis, SHA Cymru Wales now has its own closed facebook page for SHA members in Wales to use. To join, simply let Tony Beddow know that you want to join the group and you will get an invite that activates your access.    

U.K. matters  

 1. Be Alert  – Britain needs Lerts …(attributed to Spike Milligan)         

The latest plan from our Prime Minister to counter Covid-19 includes lifting some of the restrictions on going to work. People can now go back to work using public transport (with masks and being “alert” ) if social distancing can be achieved, and if working from home is not possible. However, many of those affected by this change will be employed in jobs that are among the lowest paid that unlike many white collar jobs cannot be done from home. Social distancing on public transport would appear to be difficult to ensure. Is this policy likely to decrease health inequalities?          

2. Governance of the SHA

 Since the dismissal of the then Director of the SHA, much work  has been necessary to review the governance arrangements of the 

 Association. At the 2020 AGM – held on 29th February in London – it was  agreed that the Association should cease being an unincorporated body 

 and should instead become a company limited by guarantee. This  requires significant changes to the Association’s  management processes 

 and whilst these  are being considered it is timely to review other aspects of governance. Currently, annual elections determine who holds office as chair, treasurer 

and secretary, and the make up of the “Central Council” which is the ruling body. Wales currently has two members as of right on this body –  elected  

at the Welsh AGM and currently Alison Scouller our Chair and Tony Beddow our secretary hold those places. (If  recruitment of members 

continues at its recent pace Wales will be entitled to a third elected place).

In addition to the two locally elected delegates, Welsh members can also seek election via a national ballot of all members and three more members   

from Wales – Dr Kathrin Thomas, Dr Jane Jones, and Dr Brian Gibbons –were successful in that ballot. 

The next meeting of Central Council will take place on the 23rd May using Zoom or similar. Business includes: i)  a report on progress with the new 

Constitution including proposed changes to membership categories and fees, and the size of any new “company board” that will oversee the 

 Executive Directors ii) proposals to campaign for an English national care service that brings together health and social care planning and provision

iii) proposals for creating an independent living service                                          

3. Covid -19

SHA UK has been very busy dealing with a range of issues arising from  Covid 19, many of which have been raised by members engaged at the front line. Strong links have been established with the Shadow Team so that it is fully appraised of these concerns. A detailed weekly Covid 19 blog is now available on SHA’s UK web site. If any member is unable to access the web version please let Tony Beddow know so that an emailed copy can be sent.