This week I met again with the Council, NHS and public health chiefs for an update on the situation in our local hospitals and on the vaccine rollout in Birmingham. Daily new coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and cases among the over 60s in our area are now all at highs, and the pressure on frontline services is immense.
Across the NHS we are hearing stories of vital treatments and operations being delayed; of ambulances queuing outside hospitals waiting for a bed to become free; and patients being ferried sometimes over hundred miles away from home to find a space when they need it.
Battling through this on the frontline are ordinary health care professionals in our NHS, to whom we can hardly express our gratitude. It is coming up to a year since the coronavirus health crisis took hold, and the doctors, nurses, emergency workers, porters, and all other clinical staff are close to exhaustion.
A new report published this week illustrated just how much the people we rely on to care for us are suffering themselves. It found that up to 45% of NHS doctors, nurses and clinical staff reported symptoms indicative of PTSD, depression or anxiety disorders. This is absolutely tragic, and highlights the profound importance of my colleague Dr Rosena Allin-Khan’s Care for Carers campaign.
It could hardly be more important that we all do our best to support the national effort against the virus. In particular, public health officials have told me that we need businesses to do more, by making sure they are only asking their staff to leave home for work if it is absolutely essential, and to support those workers that are to get tested for Covid every 3-4 days.
For my own part, I have this week written to the Health Secretary to ask that he bring forward the desperately necessary and deserved NHS pay rise for our frontline workers.
Following our intervention last week, Birmingham MPs and Councillors gratefully received a prompt response from the Health Department to our letter about the organisation of the vaccine rollout in our city.
However, several key questions remain unanswered. We again wrote to the Health Secretary yesterday to request more transparency on the rollout, the chain of command, and who and how many people have received the jab across Birmingham so far.
On Thursday I responded to a statement on tackling sexual exploitation and abuse of aid beneficiaries.
The Covid-19 pandemic and measures taken to contain it have exacerbated gender inequality around the world. These power imbalances increase the risk of abuse and exploitation, and the government has a duty to stop them.
We have asked for it to stop reoffending aid workers moving through organisations with impunity, and to formally adopt the Strategic Vision for Gender Equality to tackle systemic power imbalances that create space for people to take advantage of vulnerable individuals.