This evening, the government announced that their self-imposed target of 100,000 Covid-19 tests per day has been met. There are stories abound that the government has changed the way it counts its tests, and now includes home tests posted but not yet used in their overall figure.
Regardless of the precise figure, hitting 100,000 tests a day is not a strategy and NHS Providers have labelled it a “red herring”. We need to know that the government is putting in place adequate plans for a wider test, trace and isolate strategy, instead of solely focusing on arbitrary targets.
The government’s announcement earlier this week that all care home staff and residents can be tested for Covid-19 was welcome, but in speaking with care homes in my constituency, they tell me that accessing tests is not as straightforward in reality. Care home managers tell me that they are struggling to book tests for their staff, often spending hours on the phone struggling to book tests for their staff, precious time that could have spent caring for vulnerable residents.
The impact of Covid-19 on care homes was laid bare this week with the release of ONS figures revealing that over 4,300 deaths, that's nearly a quarter of all recorded coronavirus deaths in England and Wales, were in care homes over a fortnight. These latest figures come weeks after I raised my serious concerns with the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, on the inadequate government guidance produced for care home staff dealing with Covid-19 patients, which you can read by clicking the link below.
I was pleased to join Liam Byrne and West Midlands Labour colleagues in calling on the Metro Mayor to extend free public transport to all of our key workers in the region who are on the frontline during this crisis.
As well as continuing to collect, sort and deliver letters, parcels and packets to 29 million addresses, 6 days a week, postal workers have stepped up and showed themselves to be critical in our response to Covid-19.
The Domestic Abuse Bill returned for its second reading on Tuesday. The Bill is a welcome opportunity and has the chance to be truly transformative; but there are some vital changes which need to be made, as highlighted by colleagues from across the House in the debate.
It is important that we do not overlook children when discussing abusive households. One in five children and young people experience domestic abuse during childhood. As a former social worker and children’s services manager, I've seen the impact that experiencing or witnessing domestic abuse can have on children. Children experience abuse too, and that is why it is vital that the Domestic Abuse Bill specifically recognises this.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, please ring the 24-hour, free and confidential National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
International Development news
Wednesday was my debut as Shadow Secretary of State for International Development in DfID orals. I set out the case for why countries and communities must engage cooperatively to avoid a scramble to procure goods, PPE and medical equipment and to ensure there isn’t a worldwide shortage which prices out the world’s most vulnerable.
This week was World Immunisation Week, so I asked what the government is doing to ensure UK public contributions to research and development of Covid-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines will be guaranteed to everyone. You can hear the government's response by clicking the button below.