The UK has now passed 30,000 deaths. This is the worst in Europe. At today’s Prime Minister’s questions, Boris Johnson was brought to task as to the reasons for this failure and confirmed that the reason for the scrapping of track and trace back in March was due to the lack of capacity regarding testing. I hope everyone is staying safe and well.
Dentists in my constituency are still not getting the support they desperately need. See my blog where I outline exactly what the issues are for them. Yesterday, I asked Matt Hancock the health secretary a direct question about it. The answer was that they were looking carefully at the problems. I do not feel like that was a very thorough answer and will be following this up as much as I can.
100,000 tests a day Labour has called for more testing, and increasing testing was an important milestone. We expected the Government to meet the 100,000 promise by actually carrying out testing. Not because they mailed out 39,000 kits. The figure shouldn’t have counted tests that hadn’t been used, or indeed, might never be used as a completed test.
Ministers promised transparency and clarity. The public and NHS staff deserve no less. Carrying out 100,000 tests a day by the end of April was an important commitment and it was right to hold ministers to it. The government must close the gap between what they are promising and what they deliver.
Keeping people safe
Labour is calling on the Government to enforce a ‘national safety standard’ for businesses, schools and other public services to show that they are safe to use and work in. Delivered in consultation with business groups, trade unions and other relevant organisations. The government should also address concerns about the draft back to work guidelines. Ensuring clear enforcement for these standards and requiring businesses to publish risk assessments. We are also calling for bespoke support for industries facing significant challenges. Such as the hospitality sector, the self-employed and unemployed. Ministers should make the existing furlough more flexible. The government should also support people who are being disproportionately affected. This includes older people and the BAME community.
As we’ve seen from South Korea, testing and tracing are fundamental to tackling Covid-19. Digital technology is an important tool in a tracing strategy. We want to see the tracing app trial succeed. Our main concern is protecting lives and contract tracing will allow us to do that. We also need tracers out in the community. It’s crucial we mobilise local government public health expertise. This must work alongside digital technology to ensure tracing succeeds.
Labour is calling for the Government to publish a national vaccines plan. To ensure the manufacture and distribution of any resulting vaccine. This plan should include the steps we need to take to develop the capacity and infrastructure required to deliver a vaccine when it is ready. Ministers must publish a national plan for the winter flu season. Flu vaccines can take up to six months to produce. This year’s flu season is likely to put the NHS under huge strain. Early planning is thus essential.