Baba Aye reviews two books that tackle the origins of Covid-19, the part played by government failures, as well as the social and environmental degradation underlying the spread of the Coronavirus.
Two new books have placed the pandemic in perspective as the crisis unfolded. Richard Horton’s The Covid-19 Catastrophe: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Stop It Happening Again, and Debora Mackenzie’s Covid-19: The Pandemic That Never Should Have Happened contextualise why it is taking place and proposals on how to stop the world from going through a similar experience again. Both authors realise that preventing another such catastrophe requires changes which address social and economic conditions such as inequality and poverty. But they stop short of envisioning a post-capitalist world.
Mental health services have become focused on generating profits and the use of labour-saving technologies as a key way of achieving this. Iain Ferguson looks at recent developments.
Robots that can hold simple conversations and learn people’s interests are being deployed in UK care homes after a trial found they could improve mental health and reduce loneliness, according to a recent report in the Guardian. The researchers who developed the machines stressed that the aim was not to replace human carers with robots but “to help fill periods when, because of a stretched social care system, staff did not have time to keep residents company”.
Conor Reddy on how the emergency response to the pandemic has strengthened the demand for an all Ireland national health service
A particular effect of the pandemic has been the exposition of long running structural deficiencies in the provision of healthcare across Ireland. In the most acute phase of the pandemic, the real threat of hospitals being overwhelmed forced unprecedented action from governments North and South — budgets were increased, recruitment moratoriums lifted and private hospital capacity was taken into public control.
Covid-19 disproportionally affects BAME people and migrants, yet they have most to fear from seeking treatment, writes Jim Fagan
Since 2015 new health regulations have introduced charges for a growing number of patients wanting to access NHS services. Since then, NHS Trusts must identify and charge people deemed ineligible for free care. People who live outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland will require health insurance when they visit the UK, and those with no insurance will be charged at 150 percent of the NHS national tariff for any care they receive. An Immigration Health Surcharge has also been introduced.
Social inequality is reflected most harshly in our chances to lead a healthy life, argues Esme Choonara. But the fight for better healthcare rests in the fundamental way our society is organised
The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the devastating health inequalities faced by working class people and in particular those from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds. It has also revealed how decades of underfunding, understaffing and privatisation have undermined our NHS. So although our health, or lack of it, may sometimes feel very personal, it is clearly shaped by social and economic factors including housing, income, working conditions, discrimination and pollution levels.
Is there anyone left in Britain, apart from that tiny, tiny minority of individuals with a vested financial interest, who thinks that entrusting to private health capital Britain’s response to the pandemic was ever a good idea? The British Medical Association certainly don’t. Their report published mid-September, The Role of Private Outsourcing in the Covid 19 Response, is an expose and utter condemnation of how contracting out virtually every aspect of pandemic-related services has been an utter and complete disaster.