Councillor Ed Davie, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, wrote to health secretary Matt Hancock paying tribute to residents, council, and NHS staff, and other key workers dealing with the crisis – but calling for more support from government.
“Despite their own best efforts my NHS, public health and social care colleagues report there is still a lack of consistent supply of high quality personal protective equipment (PPE). Please ensure that an adequate, reliable supply of PPE is made available to all key workers that need it,” Cllr Davie wrote.
“Secondly, there are still, as I am sure you are aware, major problems with Coronavirus testing. Staff from our area are being asked to travel miles to the O2 in Greenwich, which is not practical, and very low numbers are able to take this up.”
Tribute to King’s College Hospital
Paying tribute to the role King’s College Hospital (KCH) NHS Trust is playing, Cllr Davie said that, whilst it was good the government had written off NHS Trust debt, it still left hospitals like KCH with massive holes in their finances. KCH spends about £170 million a year more on providing care than it gets in government funding.
Cllr Davie wrote: “It would be a fitting time to stop financially punishing KCH and put it on a sustainable financial footing by increasing its funding to match demand.”
He added that the government could help reduce demand on NHS hospitals in the future by reversing the massive cuts to public health and reform and invest in social care.
Both of these council-run services help keep people healthy and independent in their communities. Not only does this save lives but it reduces pressure on hard pressed NHS services, including those provided by KCH.
Living wage demand
In a final request, Cllr Davie called for the whole NHS to be made a genuinely Living Wage employer to lift thousands of key workers out of poverty.
Lambeth Council, itself Living Wage accredited since 2012, has worked with two – Guy’s and St Thomas’s and South London and the Maudsley – of the three major NHS Trusts that serve Lambeth to become accredited in February. KCH have also agreed but, for reasons set out above, this has been more complicated to implement.
Cllr Davie wrote: “The recent Panorama Minimum wage heroes film showed how many NHS workers, like porters and cleaners, were being paid poverty wages despite their amazing contribution to fighting the virus.
“We believe it is only right, now more than ever, that the NHS as a whole is funded to become a Living Wage Trust Accredited organisation. As the eighth largest employer in the world, this would lift tens of thousands of key workers out of poverty, recognising their contribution to our communities and improving their health and those of their families as poverty is the key predeterminant of illness.
“What better way to pay tribute to those workers and give real meaning to the government”s pledge to “level up” those who are currently not properly rewarded for their contribution?”