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Care Homes Are Desperately Short Of Staff

Care homes are desperately short of staff – why no emergency UK visas for them?

As the government hastily arranges visas for truck drivers, its lack of regard for the care sector crisis is clear

Despite all the panic in government and at the petrol station forecourt, there is another urgent question: what about the care homes? The government is hastily attempting to give three-month visas to 5,000 foreign truck drivers to “save Christmas”. It is also allowing 5,000 visas for farm workers to gather in the winter harvest. But, in the face of widespread personnel shortages, the care home sector is to get no relief at all.

There are already 100,000 staff vacancies in the care homes sector, yet all the health ministry can say is that there will “always be enough staff with the right skills to deliver high quality care”. This is state-sponsored employment chaos.

The truck drivers’ visas are simply a cynical U-turn from ministers who promised to “stop immigration” and now find that some immigrants are more important than others. (Whether EU drivers will return to the UK so swiftly is another question altogether.) Labour markets are complex. Britain’s is being regulated by Whitehall officials with Leninist fantasies about the supply and demand for particular jobs, doling out visas on the basis of politics, not economics. Why truck drivers not carers? We can guess.

From the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it was clear that the government favoured the NHS over care homes (which it was less directly responsible for). An appalling price was paid as elderly people were allowed to go from the former to the latter, without any Covid testing, and died in their thousands. While care homes languished, desperate for money and help at the height of the pandemic, the government built the NHS seven Nightingale “field hospitals” at cost of £530m, only for them to be left sitting empty.

Now ministers are penalising social care even further. Care homes in England fear they will have to sack any staff not vaccinated against Covid by the early November deadline. NHS staff are excused, even in Covid wards. Although 93 per cent of care staff have been vaccinated, a hardcore still refuse, for reasons varying from pregnancy to cultural aversion.

The sackings would be catastrophic. While it is the young, not the old, who are now primarily at pandemic risk, the blanket ban is likely to mean that thousands of care staff – possibly as many as 70,000 – will have to be dismissed. Many will reportedly transfer to the NHS, in what looks suspiciously like a straightforward poaching. According to the Times, “sixteen local authorities could lose more than a tenth of their [care] staff”.

The government tells care employers to pay their workers higher wages to attract them within the UK. But this is a service industry that has spent decades relying on overseas carers. Brexit has already stifled the flow of workers from the EU, and there is no Treasury money to speedily replace them with more expensive, home-based staff.

The fault does not lie with Brexit as such, given the various ways the UK’s exit from the EU could have been negotiated: it lies with Boris Johnson’s personal decision at the same time to leave Europe’s single labour market. He has cut Britain off from decades of access to that sophisticated market, without so much as an inquiry into the cost. Other European nations can recruit from across the continent to relieve the strains of Covid. Britain has withdrawn behind a protectionist barrier. The Tory party under Margaret Thatcher used to believe in open markets. All we know of the present one is that it does not believe in carers.

Simon Jenkins is a columnist

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NAFDAC bans sale of Dex Luxury bar soap in Nigeria

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control, (NAFDAC) has placed a ban on the sale of Dex Luxury bar soap in Nigeria.

The agency explained that the ban was due to Butyphenyl Methylpropional, BMHCA, content in the product.

This was contained in a post on the Agency’s X handle on Thursday.

According to the post, the European Union, EU, banned the product due to the risk of harming the reproductive system of users, causing harm to the health of the unborn child, and cause skin sensitization.

“Although this product is not on the NAFDAC database, importers, distributors, retailers, and consumers are advised to exercise caution and vigilance within the supply chain to avoid the importation, distribution, sale, and use of the above-mentioned product”, the agency added.


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No outbreak of Lassa fever in any local govt- Kogi Govt

Nigeria identifies three drugs for Lassa fever treatment

Kogi State Government has debunked any outbreak of Lassa fever across the 21 local government areas of the State.

Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr. Abdulazeez Adams Adeiza while reacting to a viral video of an alleged lassa fever outbreak, noted that a student who was admitted to the Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja did not die of lassa fever.

According to the Commissioner, it was reported that the student died of hemorrhagic fever.

The Commissioner explained that the deceased student who was admitted at the Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja presented complaints of fever and bleeding from the gum.

He added that the patient was being investigated and managed, while samples were taken and sent to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC) Abuja, but before the result was released, he had lost his life.

The Commissioner said the result came out to be negative for lassa fever.

In his words, ”the suspected case has turned out to be negative for lassa fever.

“It is not only lassa fever that can make a patient to present bleeding from the gum. Other reasons could include blood dyscrasias and bleeding disorders”.

He advised members of the public to disregard the report as no case of lassa fever has been reported in the state

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UCH workers directed to stop working by 4pm over continuous blackout

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) which is the umbrella body of unions at the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, Oyo state, has directed all employees of the health institution to commence work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from Tuesday, April 2. 

The directive came after the tertiary health institution was disconnected by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, (IBEDC) over N495 million debt accrued in over six years.

Addressing newsmen, chairman of JAC, Oludayo Olabampe stated that it is no longer safe to continue to attend to patients under the circumstances. He also said that workers would embark on strike if power is not restored.

He said;

“Workers would now work from 8 am to 4 pm only because it is dangerous and risky to attend to patients in that situation. We held a meeting with the management this morning but the issue is that there is no electricity. So, from today, Tuesday, April 2, we will work until 4 p.m. We are not attending to any patient after 4 p.m.

“This means that we won’t admit patients because the nurses that will take care of them will not be available after 4 p.m. and you don’t expect patients to be on their own from 4 p.m. till 8 a.m. the following day.

“If patients need blood tests, the lab will not work, if they need radiography, the radiographers will not work, and the dieticians in charge of their food too will not work after 4 p.m. We also gave management another 14-day ultimatum which started counting from March 27, and if after 14 days power is not restored, we will embark on warning strike.”

Commenting on the development, the chief medical director of UCH, Jesse Otegbayo, alleged that IBEDC was billing the hospital as an industry. He stated that the union did not formally notify management before making such a decision.

He said;

“I have not heard about that, if they are going to do that, they should write to management officially, and then the management will respond. There are rules that govern government service, you can’t just decide what hours you work and expect to be paid full-time.

“If they go ahead to do that without informing management officially, management has a way of applying the rules to pay them for the number of hours which they worked. The proper thing is for them to put it in writing because they didn’t write officially to the management before taking the decision.”

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