We’re proud to have been featured in local and national press throughout our campaign. Click the links in the descriptions to read more.
OUTSOURCED AND UNDERPAID WORKERS: THEY FOUGHT AND THEY WON!
The Guardian carried an excellent short film by Hazel Falck documenting and celebrating the struggle and victory of outsourced ‘hospitality’ workers at St Mary’s Hospital. This victory led to Imperial cancelling their contract with the French multinational, Sodexo, and bringing all their hospitality workers across all 5 Imperial hospitals back in-house. This is a significant victory for what were underpaid and poorly treated staff who are now brought fully into the NHS.
HAFSON supported this long struggle by a small and relatively new union, United Voices of the World. We spoke up for the workers and against outsourcing at Imperial Board meetings and in our meetings with the Imperial CEO, Professor Tim Orchard; and supporters joined workers on their picket lines.
As you can see in the film, it was the workers courage and determination which won their victory. We strongly recommend you watch this film:
How defying government rules stopped people from dying of coronavirus in West London care homes
NHS and council bosses in Hammersmith and Fulham undoubtedly helped save many lives.
NHS and council chiefs in Hammersmith and Fulham have revealed how they saved the lives of care home residents by defying instructions from the Government.
It has been widely reported how mistakes were made across the country, when hospital patients were discharged and put in care homes in late March, in order to clear wards for incoming coronavirus patients.
This meant patients who had the virus but were not showing symptoms would have spread the virus to vulnerable care home residents and staff.
The Office for National Statistics said that death certificates of 19,394 care home residents issued between March and mid June mentioned “novel coronavirus”. As of July 23, a total of 45,554 people have died from Covid-19 across the UK.
At a full council meeting on July 15, Mr Coleman said: “In our own borough it’s very sad but 308 residents have lost their lives.
“And of these, 16 per cent, a much lower rate than the rest of the country, but still, 50 people who are no longer with us, were care home residents.
“Our hearts go out to all their families and loved ones.”
He explained that this low death rate was achieved, in many cases, by refusing to let patients be discharged to the borough’s four care homes from Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals without being tested.
At a health and wellbeing board on July 22, Mr Coleman said: “We had a problem because the hospitals were being told by NHS centrally – which is this nightmare system that NHS locally constantly struggles with – to push people out of hospital into the homes.
“We were saying ‘stop it or we will have to shut the homes’. And the NHS was struggling with the dictat from on high.
“So we as a council took the decision in early April when we were aware this was happening… We closed the homes. And we had quite a lot of challenge from within the system to be honest.”
He added: “[We] rallied and we saved lives.”
After the initial row, he said the leadership of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the local hospitals, joined forces with the council’s social care department to carry out a huge testing regime in the borough’s care homes.
Mr Coleman continued: “The incredible team at the NHS joined together with the council under our director of social care [Lisa Redfern] in going in and doing things that no-one else in the country was doing.
“People who had symptoms and people with no symptoms [were tested]. No-one else was doing that. We tested staff and patients – no-one was doing that.”
Another factor that caused the virus to spread to care homes included that many care staff around the country work at multiple care homes under agency contracts.
And it has also been acknowledged that at the early stages of the pandemic, some carers felt reluctant to get tested because they would lose income if they had to self-isolate. Carers often only receive statutory sick pay, equal to £90 a week.
To encourage carers to get tested, the council guaranteed them wages of up to £200 a week instead.
NHS Providers, a national body that acts as a learning platform between different parts of the healthcare system, published a report on May 19 that explained some of the errors in protecting care homes.
Its report said NHS England instructed hospitals to “urgently discharge all medically fit patients from hospital” from March 17.
On April 2, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) issued guidance stating that “negative tests were ‘not required prior to transfers/admissions into the care home’, as at this time the national policy was for testing capacity to be limited to symptomatic patients.”
The DHSC later said: “This is an unprecedented global outbreak and we have taken the right decisions at the right time based on the latest scientific and medical advice.
“We have been working tirelessly with the care sector to reduce transmission and save lives, and as a result, according to the latest PHE statistics, over 60 per cent of care homes have had no outbreak at all.”At the July 15 Full Council meeting, Conservative councillor Amanda Lloyd Harris said: “We supported the council with some of the difficult decisions it has had to make. There is appreciation and recognition from the opposition.”
However she was critical of Mr Coleman for directly blaming Health Secretary Matt Hancock for the issues that have happened in care homes around the country.
Happy 72nd birthday NHS
By Merril Hammer, Secretary of Hammersmith & Fulham Save Our NHS
When local residents got together in 2012 as the ‘Save our Hospitals’ group to fight for Charing Cross Hospital, none of us would have believed that we would still be campaigning in 2020 for our NHS.
Who can believe that NHS bosses would want to close 600 acute beds in NW London, including downgrading Charing Cross and Ealing Hospitals as major acute hospitals? Hard to imagine how West London would have coped during the Covid-19 outbreak if these hospitals had lost those beds.
In 2018, the Save our Hospitals (SOH) group was still campaigning as we celebrated the 70th birthday of Our NHS. In our celebration leaflet we wrote:
A health service for everyone, publicly funded and provided and free for all, is worth celebrating and defending. Locally we need to:
- stop the proposed downgrading of Ealing and Charing Cross Hospitals
- stop the loss of 5-600 acute beds and acute services
- stop the closure of the blue light A&Es at these hospitals
- stop threatened cuts to community health services and primary care
Then, in March 2019, reality hit the decision-makers and they conceded that they could not safely downgrade either Charing Cross or Ealing Hospitals. It was a huge victory for local people and H&F Council.
But not, however, time for campaigners to go home … just a time to change our name to ‘Hammersmith and Fulham Save Our NHS’ (HAFSON) and to keep campaigning against cuts in our health services and for a fully publicly funded and provided health service available for all and free at the point of delivery.
SOH/HAFSON has always been a non-party political campaigning organisation. We’ve been proud to work with the local council since 2014 in saving Charing Cross Hospital and in protecting local health services. Working together for the residents of Hammersmith & Fulham will be crucial as the NHS works to restore health provision in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And on Saturday 4 July, HAFSON took to the streets (well, to Fulham Palace Road, opposite Charing Cross Hospital) to celebrate the birthday of Our NHS and to thank our wonderful NHS staff who have worked so hard over recent months, who continue to do so and, in so many instances, have sacrificed so much. We mourn for those who lost their lives in working to save ours.
More than 30 H&F residents joined together with local musicians and stilt walkers to party while keeping a safe distance. This included the old and young, born during the NHS and before the NHS, culturally diverse, with passers-by joining us and drivers beeping horns and waving in support. There was a real carnival atmosphere as we all demonstrated our appreciation for Our NHS.
We all know the NHS is worth celebrating. And it is heartening to know that, in a recent poll, 76 per cent of those surveyed – an overwhelming majority – want to see an end to privatisation in the health service after the coronavirus crisis has ended.
As NHS founder, Nye Bevan, said:
The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it.”
For the original article, follow this link https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/articles/news/2020/07/happy-72nd-birthday-nhs?dm_i=BGN,6Y59J,3K7WX8,RYCI1,1
A MESSAGE FROM IMPERIAL
We have received a message from Imperial College Healthcare Trust about changes and developments in patient and visitor rules during this time. These will change as things develop.
Please check out the Imperial website: https://www.imperial.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors
Nurse had raised fears for staff ‘going into battle without the proper gear’
Dedicated nurse Jennie Sablayan
Jennie Sablayan, 44, was a haematology nurse at University College Hospital for almost 20 years, and died in intensive care on May 5 after testing positive for Covid-19. She leaves two daughters, aged 10 and 14, and husband Joel, an intensive care nurse.
Mrs Sablayan, who trained in the Phillippines before moving to Richmond, had warned in a Facebook post a month earlier that she was scared by the threat posed by the disease.
Her warning was posted on April 5 alongside a news story about John Alagos, a nurse at Watford General Hospital, who had died with the virus. Mrs Sablayan was helping to treat Covid-19 patients until mid-April when she tested positive for the virus, friends said. She was self-isolating at home until her condition worsened and was taken to West Middlesex Hospital, where she was placed on a ventilator but could not be saved.
Mrs Sablayan was also a clinical adviser for nursing agency Zentar UK. Company director Fahim Modak, who was also a friend, has set up an online fundraising campaign to help her family which has received more than £35,000 in donations. “Jennie was outgoing, bubbly and so close to her family, especially her daughters. I know they are all in complete shock. Everyone who knew her is. She was dedicated to nursing.”
Marcel Levi, the chief executive of University College Hospital, said that Mrs Sablayan was “an expert in her field.” He added: “Jennie looked after patients with leukaemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers with much kindness and great dedication.”
Meanwhile, campaigner Walter Harris, who ran an antiques stall in Portobello Road market for about 20 years, has died with coronavirus at Charing Cross Hospital, whose A&E department he fought to save from closure.
Mr Harris, 88, had tested positive and died with the disease and pneumonia. The father-of-two, who had worked as a medical copywriter, also had a heart condition. He had been a leading campaigner in the successful Save Charing Cross campaign which also battled to save Ealing Hospital’s A&E unit. His wife Suzanna, 72, thanked the staff at Charing Cross Hospital for their care. She said: “He was looked after very kindly and made comfortable.” She added: “He was gentle, he enjoyed reading and talking about books. He was a good companion always and had a quirky sense of humour.
Mr Harris had a Jewish burial on April 28 arranged by the family with the help of the rabbi at Charing Cross.
London coronavirus: Tributes to ‘gentle and witty’ Charing Cross Hospital campaigner who has died of coronavirus
Tributes have been paid to a health campaigner who has died from coronavirus at the hospital whose A&E department he fought to save from closure.
Walter Harris was part of the long-running Save Charing Cross Campaign, which last year celebrated a reprieve along with Ealing Hospital’s emergency department.
The campaign group has now been renamed as HAFSON (Hammersmith and Fulham Save Our NHS).
HAFSON’s Merril Hammer said: “Walter was a quiet, behind-the-scenes, supporter of the campaign from the start. He also took part in several media presentations in support of the NHS and Charing Cross Hospital. Those of us who met Walter will remember him well for his quiet dignity and extraordinary sense of humour.”
Councillor Ben Coleman, who is Cabinet member for health and adult social care said: “He did everything he could to support the campaign.”
His wife Suzanna who was also involved in the campaign said: “He was diagnosed as having the virus ‘mildly’ but then went downhill quickly. He was looked after very kindly and made comfortable.
“Thank goodness for Charing Cross.”
She said her 88-year-old husband became unwell at home but did not really have any coronavirus symptoms, apart from aches and pains.
“Of course we were anxious about sending him to hospital,” she added.
He had an underlying heart condition and died from coronavirus and pneumonia on April 21.
Mrs Harris said: “Coronavirus is so indiscriminate.”
She said her heart went out to those who also lost loved ones who were at the beginning of their life.
And she wanted to thank the volunteers and organisations who have supported vulnerable people by delivering food for them.
“It’s brought out the best in people. The clapping is very moving. I think it’s going to change everything for good.”
Mrs Harris said her husband was a kind, gentle man who had many interests and did media interviews for the campaign to save Charing Cross as “he was quite good talking to a camera. He came on demonstrations and was at the stall and he used to write letters.”
He wanted to become a doctor but studied zoology instead at London University and enjoyed bird-watching at the Essex marshes, Slimbridge in Gloucestershire and Brownsea in Dorset.
Mr Harris had worked in advertising and was a medical copywriter, writing instructions for patients to explain how to take their medication, as well as public information about diseases.
Poignantly a few weeks before he became ill from coronavirus, he wrote his epitaph as he was always losing his glasses. He said: “When I am dead, think only this of me that there is some corner of a London flat where you will find my glasses.”
He was born in Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex before his family moved to Cheltenham, where he picked potatoes alongside Italian prisoners of war, and later Islington. He had a brother Jack and sister Sheila.
He met Suzanna in 1980 through friends who rode tandem bicycles and the couple married two years later.
Their children Sam and Natasha are now in their 30s.
The family eventually set up home in West Kensington.
Mr Harris was an enthusiastic postcard collector, including Edwardian photos and edited the newsletter for the West London Postcard Club.
“It was very funny, very witty,” said Mrs Harris. “He used to be a good speaker.”
And he enjoyed adding to his collection when the couple were out: “He would scurry off and find a postcard shop and say ‘I’ve been a little bit naughty’” as he added to his collection.
And he was a familiar face at Portobello Road market where he had an antiques stall on Saturdays for around 20 years.
“He enjoyed that enormously and enjoyed it when people haggled. He was quite knowledgeable about glass and china and enjoyed researching items,” said Mrs Harris..
As he got older “He would very much enjoy browsing through his postcard collection and finding them online and he had a wealth of information. People from the postcard club have been saying how much they enjoyed his talks and his company generally,” said Mrs Harris.
“He was gentle, he enjoyed reading and talking about books. He was a gentleman. He was a good companion always.”
Mr Harris had a good bass singing voice and entertained people at his wife’s university reunion at Trinity College Dublin where was invited to join in singing grace. He also sang a sea shanty Tom Bowling’s Gone Aloft.
He had a Jewish burial on Tuesday (April 28) at Bushey which was arranged by the rabbi at Charing Cross Hospital and family members.
Mrs Harris was unable to attend because of health and travel reasons and said friends had supported her and her children by saying they would be there in spirit, even if they could not attend because of the pandemic.
My London 30th April 2020 https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/london-coronavirus-tributes-gentle-witty-18179025
USE OF BEDS AT PEMBRIDGE – LATEST UPDATE
Thank you for the below and apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
To answer the below, there will be 25 beds at Pembridge to support the Covid-19 response and these will be available from today – Tuesday 21st April
The beds will be split to support both Covid-19 positive, and non Covid-19 patients and will act as step-down beds for patients no longer requiring acute beds but not yet well enough to return home.
We appreciate you wanting to clarify the information before you share with your supporters, and if you’d like any further information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Engagement & Partnership Manager
NHS West London Clinical Commissioning Group
Service Changes at St Charles
HAFSON has received an email from the CCGs detailing changes to services at St Charles Health and Wellbeing Centre.
Service Changes – in response to Covid-19
St Charles Health & Wellbeing Centre
St Charles Urgent Care Centre
Due to the rapid development of Covid-19, the NHS in North West London and Central London Community Healthcare Trust have taken the decision to temporarily suspend the St Charles Urgent Care Centre service from Tuesday 14th April.
The number of people attending the centre has reduced dramatically over recent weeks in line with Government guidance and people avoiding social contact. Staff will be redeployed to support the Covid-19 response, providing clinical support and care for our most vulnerable patients.
How will people know about the temporary suspension?
- Signage will be placed on the door of the St Charles Urgent Care Centre informing people of the closure and alternative services available
- NHS 111 will be informed that the centre is not currently available and patients should be directed to their GP Practice or referred to alternative services
- GPs will text patients informing them of the temporary closure, and if they need medical help to visit 111.nhs.uk, call their GP practice or 111
- Further information can be found on the CCG and local GP practice websites
The inpatient beds at Pembridge are being temporarily re-designated for the care of patients with Covid-19.
This is part of a system response to support patients who no longer require a hospital bed but cannot return to their usual place of residence until they are confirmed as non-contagious.
It’s important to note no decision has been taken about the future of the Pembridge in-patient unit.
The timelines and next steps of the palliative care review are currently under review.
A clinic has been set up at St Charles to support patients who have, or are suspected to have Covid-19 as well as additional health conditions that require medical help.
GPs or NHS 111 can refer patients to the hot clinic for a face to face appointment with a doctor or nurse. The clinic aims to reduce the risk of infection by treating patients who have Covid-19 symptoms in a controlled and safe environment.
If you have any questions regarding the above service changes, please contact the team on email@example.com. For further information on where to go, or where to signpost people to if they’re feeling unwell, please see below.
West London CCG
HAFSON has sought clarification on these details and has received the following: ‘The inpatient beds at the centre are being temporarily re-designated for the care of patients with Covid-19. This is part of a system wide response to support patients who no longer require a hospital bed but cannot return to their usual place of residence, until they are confirmed as non-contagious.’
We understand, however, that the Pembridge home care service is now temporarily housed in the ‘Engineer’s House’ at St Charles Hospital. The re-designated service at what was Pembridge is apparently to be known, for the moment, as ‘Aspen Ward’ in order to avoid confusion.
URGENT CHANGES TO NEUROSURGERY AT CHARING CROSS
Imperial Healthcare Trust has written to HAFSON to explain urgent changes to neurosurgery services at Charing Cross as a result of pressures from corona virus. HAFSON understands the need for these temporary changes given the pressures under which Imperial Hospitals, like other hospitals, are now working. Here is the text of the letter:
I wanted you to have this update on the expansion of our critical care capacity and urgent changes to neurosurgery services at Charing Cross Hospital.
As part of the NHS’ co-ordinated response, the capacity expansion for critical care in north west London is focusing primarily on Imperial College Healthcare, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust. This is to enable care for the more complex patients in our sector to be consolidated into the hospitals with the largest existing critical care resource.
Imperial College Healthcare has already extended beyond our normal critical care/ventilator capacity of 68 beds, towards our first phase of expansion to 143 beds. To ensure all patients who may need critical care in London over the coming weeks get that care, we plan to increase our capacity rapidly by up to another 157 beds across our three main sites at Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s hospitals.
We also need to continue to provide, equally essential, ward-based general and acute care and we are working with other providers and community colleagues to create care pathways that reduce demand on our inpatient services where possible.
We are moving to new staffing ratios set by NHS England to support this expansion in care – our specialist critical care staff need to be supported by clinicians from other disciplines as well as health support workers. We are also working hard to recruit additional qualified staff, health support workers and volunteers. A relatively small number of our staff have been asked to work at the new Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre in east London but we do not expect more staff to be seconded if we are able to step up our own capacity as planned.
These essential changes to the way we work now need to include an urgent change to our neurosurgery services as we are not currently able to run two full neurosurgery medical rotas safely at both St Mary’s and Charing Cross. This is due to redeployment of many doctors to support the expansion in critical care across our sites as well as high levels of staff absence due to sickness and mandatory self-isolation. It also frees up suitable space to be turned into critical care/ventilator units temporarily.
For the period covering our response to the coronavirus emergency, we are consolidating our acute neurosurgery service at St Mary’s where our major trauma centre creates the largest demand, with a small amount of critical cover at Charing Cross for the small number of acute neurovascular cases linked to the hyper acute stroke unit. We expect this change will mean providing emergency neurosurgery at St Mary’s for up to 10 patients per week who would previously have had their surgery at Charing Cross. The change does not impact on our stroke services, which will remain at Charing Cross including thrombectomy.
We have written today to Hammersmith & Fulham Council to say that in the current emergency situation the temporary change to neurosurgery is so urgent that it is not practical to go through the normal process of engagement and agreement with them and involvement of patients, user groups and the local community. The aim is to restore the normal service as soon as the current crisis abates.
I hope this information is helpful.