A message from the frontline at Ealing Hospital – ESON newsletter 19/04/20

At this difficult time there are still many positives; news of survivors, our amazing NHS staff and the real sense of community as people pull together. So we were delighted to recently receive a very moving message from Dr Gurj Sandhu of Ealing Hospital which you can read in full a little later.
On the negative side there have been some evident failures of our leaders: on PPE, on testing, on care homes, on delivery of promises and honesty with the public. Of course they have a tough job, but the price of failure is all too clear.
Thankfully there has been continuing pressure on the Government to act from NHS staff, politicians, campaigners and the wider community which we need to keep up.
Next Tuesday 21st April there is a ‘NHS Staff Voices Public Meeting’. NHS Staff Voices is a newly set up part of national campaign ‘Keep Our NHS Public’ and this is their first ever public meeting. It has a great line-up of speakers. It is open to anyone who wants to ‘attend’ and a real chance to hear from the frontline – more details on how to register are below.
A very moving message to Ealing Save Our NHS from Dr Gurj Sandhu;
This letter perfectly sums up why our NHS and its staff hold a special place in all our hearts and no more so then at this time of our greatest need. (The picture above shows our Ealing staff in happier times celebrating the NHS 70th Birthday)
Dear Ealing Save Our NHS,
These have been the strangest of times but what has filled me with immense pride is the way in which NHS staff have galvanised to support each other in a manner that helps us to support our patients. The situation evolved very rapidly before our eyes with wards rapidly being turned into Covid wards and staff constantly being redeployed to the areas of greatest need. There are few distinctions in our roles as we all do what we can in a clinical space once we have donned PPE. Non clinical staff find ways to support clinical staff with an army of volunteers ready to pick up tasks to make our lives easier.
We make sure we share positive stories and celebrate those patients who come off mechanical and non invasive ventilation. We are filled with joy as the elderly pull through their illness and go home with a humble smile. We look out for each others welfare and find ways to console each other, even when 2 metres apart. What was once the energy of manic survival instinct has gradually been replaced by a calmer compassionate energy that only comes from NHS staff pulling together to get through a crisis. We might not have seen this crisis before but we’ve certainly got through others.
We know you have been out there looking out for us and our patients, we see your messages on the roundabouts and the drawings your children send in. We put on the visors you donate, hear you clap, appreciate your thanks and are nourished by your food donations. We thank you all for your unwavering support and look forward to times when we can invite you into your hospital again. In the meantime if you need us we’ll be here.
Best wishes
Dr Gurjinder Singh Sandhu, Consultant Infectious Diseases, Ealing Hospital
Thank you Gurj and all your colleagues for all that you have done – we are so grateful!
What’s Going On? Stories from the Frontline – Public Meeting – 21st April
NHS Staff Voices (part of Keep Our NHS Public) has organised its first – ever Public Meeting bringing together some great speakers. They will be joined by Professor John Ashton to discuss the crisis and how things have been managed thus far, to help make sense of what is to come.
You will need to join ZOOM first and then register to watch the Meeting here
Prof John Ashton, former Regional Director of Public Health
Dr Mona Kamal, Consultant Psychiatrist
Dr Rita Issa, Clinical Fellow GP
Dr Tom Gardener, Junior Doctor currently working in A&E

You can email questions to [email protected] or get involved live during the meeting’s Q&A session via the chat function on Zoom.

Please sign the petition to support our NHS workers:
The NHS Staff Voices Petition has now reached over 250,000, which is great. If you haven’t signed it please do and circulate widely – lets get it to a million!
ESON asks Questions of the Trust who manage Ealing Hospital:
In March we wrote to the London North West University NHS Trust Board (LNWH), which manages Ealing Hospital, to ask a number of questions on the provision of PPE & testing for staff and how the Trust were organising services to deal with virus. To date we have not had any response to our questions and have now followed it up, but are not very hopeful of a reply.
A copy of our letter is here
Changes at Ealing Hospital: Some of you may have heard of changes being made to Ealing Hospital and it is of course worrying. However we have been told that the demands of dealing with Covid-19 mean that for now these changes are needed. All Orthopedic services at Ealing and other hospitals in London have been moved to the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital in Stanmore, no emergency or trauma surgery is taking place at Ealing and their ICU beds have been ‘reconfigured’.
Of course this is not the time to query actions taken to deal with the emergency pressures of Covid-19, nevertheless it’s imperative for the future to keep plugging the importance to our communities of our Ealing Hospital, it’s fantastic staff and it’s acute services.
A disturbing Report about delayed treatment and child deaths
Earlier this week we were sent an ‘Incident Log’ drawn up by the North Thames Paediatric Group which covers LNWH, Imperial among others. This very disturbing log documents 14 incidents including two deaths and delayed treatment caused by a combination of bad advice from NHS 111, an overstretched London Ambulance Service and parents afraid to take children to hospital.
Working with Tony O’ Sullivan of Keep Our NHS Public, this story made it in to the ‘Standard‘ and was on the front page of the Guardian. It is pretty shocking!
There is a similar story emerging in relation to people delaying seeking help when they are having a cardiac arrest and cancelled cancer treatments.
It is no surprise that NHS 111 is failing some patients:
Most people probably assume that NHS 111 is indeed run and staffed by NHS Staff but it is actually run by a private company called SITEL UK. Staff in the call centres are paid barely above the minimum wage and there are many stories that instead of social distancing they are working desk to desk. Just as worrying is that staff in some, if not all parts of the country are only getting 90 minutes training to handle the NHS 111 Covid -19 Helpline! Read here.
Care Homes and home care – the forgotten crisis:
On March 27 a desperate plea from the struggling social care sector to Matt Hancock, the Health & Social Care Secretary, made clear that weeks after the endless stream of unrealistic assurances from ministers, there was still an “urgent need” for Government to move faster in making PPE available for the adult social care sector.
The Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Social Services wrote jointly to express their concerns:
“Sufficient supplies that are of acceptable quality are needed immediately. Councils and their provider partners also need concrete assurances about ongoing supplies for the days and weeks ahead.
Of course PPE is not the only problem, many care providers face staff shortages, lack of funds and too few nurses to care for patients being discharged from hospital.
More on this story here
PPE Scandal – the Unipart Way – read the Lowdown
Chief executives, frustrated hospital and other NHS staff who are being left to treat potentially or actually infected patients without the right protective equipment may wonder who to blame: but at the centre of this ongoing fiasco, which has required the army to step in and try to get progress, is yet another botched Tory privatisation.
NHS Supply Chain is the organisation which should be coordinating the distribution of the vital PPE gear, ventilators, supplies of sanitiser and other basics to hospital trusts, GPs and community health providers. But it is manifestly failing in its task.
Technically its part of the NHS and owned by the Secretary of State, but in reality it’s a complex web of contracts at the centre of which is UNIPART – better known for supplying components to the motor industry and clearly they should have stayed there as they are adding to the crisis!
You can read the full story here in the ‘Lowdown’ –
Private hospitals are doing very well thank you
The Government’s deal with private hospitals, who are providing beds and staff to help the NHS cope with coronavirus, has been framed as a significant boost for the NHS. But is it or have they done very well out of it?
This excellent piece from researcher Vivek Kotocha suggests it has been of huge benefit to them.
KONP website to remember Health & Care Workers who have lost their lives:
Keep Our NHS Public has recently launched the first of its weekly updates, remembering the health and care workers who have been lost during the Coronavirus crisis.
They will be continuing to publish these figures every Friday, throughout the crisis, to demonstrate the sacrifice made by our NHS and care staff through their work.
Keep Our NHS Public have published some excellent articles:
’10 ways the Government is making it worse’
The title very much speaks for itself. This is everything that campaigners and others have been thinking and saying over the last 8 years.
John Lister on the Government 13 Billion write –off of NHS debts
A good piece from John Lister which including comments from a tax expert. It seems it is mainly an accounting exercise not costing the Government anything in practice as there is no way that NHS trusts will ever be able to pay back the money anyway. However not one penny of the enormous PFI debt, amounting to billions every year for NHS trusts, is included in the write off!
Government handling of coronavirus a ‘national scandal’
Richard Horton, editor of the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet has publically hit out at the Government’s handling of labelling it a ‘national scandal’. Writing in The Lancet last month he said
“The UK Government’s Contain–Delay–Mitigate–Research strategy failed. It failed, in part, because ministers didn’t follow WHO’s advice to “test, test, test” every suspected case. They didn’t isolate and quarantine. They didn’t contact trace. These basic principles of public health and infectious disease control were ignored, for reasons that remain opaque”
Campaigners around the country have also been repeatedly asking why is the Government not testing, especially NHS staff, when all the evidence from other countries, particularly Germany, is that this has been key in slowing down the spread.
You can read the full article here – definitely worth it
Also very much worth a read is this excellent critical overview of the Governments Strategy by Dr David McKoy Professor of Global Public Health at the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health at Queen Mary University London and a medical doctor.
Fantastic Community help & support here in Ealing:
It has been quite amazing to see our people across Ealing coming together to help neighbours, our NHS and anyone needing help in a huge act of solidarity. People have volunteered in their thousands to shop for others, get prescriptions and distribute food for charities & voluntary organisations. Some local restaurants have donated food and cooked meals in industrial portions for NHS staff and other local businesses have also donated equipment. The list is massive!
If you need help or want to volunteer there are lots of way to do this. The Council has a dedicated website
The Ealing Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group has been doing a fantastic job and now has an impressive thousand volunteers with local Whats App groups across the borough.
To offer your support
To request support
To donate food etc please contact them on [email protected]
We have been busy on both Facebook and Twitter:
Despite ESON not able to be out on the streets we are still very visible on Social Media.
It’s not that difficult to sign up for Facebook or Twitter and then you can read and comment on our posts too.
And of course we will continue to send out our monthly newsletter as well.
Keep on clapping for the NHS and all our carers every Thursday at 8.00pm