Lockdown is challenging everyone. Our staff in the NHS, councils, care homes, shops, takeaways and those who are able to ‘homework’ are all working so hard to keep us safe. We are all uniquely together in a state of coping.
This is a form of limbo, as we neither know when or how the Coronavirus emergency ends. It is both a challenge for us as a society but also on a personal level.
I am trying to concentrate on my personal ‘zone of control’, those areas of my life which I have actual control over. Areas might be which cupboard I clean out, what I cook to eat or how I get some exercise to stay fit and healthy during lockdown. These things I can choose.
I’m also endeavouring to continue to act as an elected politician, although KCC have not yet made the switch to virtual meetings. I’m hopeful this will happen soon so we can resume responsibilities of scrutiny and decision making for the residents and businesses of this county .
People are struggling to manage during this crisis, of this I am acutely aware. I’m so impressed by the efforts many are making to ensure all those in our community receive what they need, at this time of crisis. The collective response is as heartwarming as it is incredible, whether it be small scale manufacture or community assistance; from homemade visors to distribution of food. If you are part of a group doing something similar please don’t hesitate to contact me (and other KCC councillors) for financial help via our members grant.
My focus is also on the NHS. We have never needed our NHS more, nor wanted to support our NHS workers more. So like many, every Thursday night at 8pm I’m clapping as hard as I can to show my support. There is a fantastic and uplifting community noise on Royal Road and Spencer Square in Ramsgate, much improved this week with the addition of the WW2 sirens and boat horns from Ramsgate Harbour.
On 30th March after being contacted by staff at QEQM I wrote to Susan Acott, Chief Executive of East Kent Hospitals seeking facts as to “When will our local staff get an adequate amount of the correct personal protective equipment (PPE)?” To date I’ve had no response. I don’t know about you, but I find this shocking.
We are in the middle of the worst health crisis any of us have ever witnessed. PPE remains in short supply. Whatever side of the political divide your are on, it’s important that all our politicians are accurate. Our Secretary of State, Matt Hancock got it badly wrong this week, by not recognising the ‘burn rate’ of PPE and received wisdom to discard and refresh PPE between patients to prevent infection. We need more more PPE in our community. We also wait to see how testing is ramped up.
Additionally, I’ve been ‘chasing’ the detail on Thanet’s relationship to the new Nightingale hospital at Excel in London’s Royal Docks. Apparently for every eight patients we send to London we’ll also need to provide a nurse and an assistant. I want to know what this actually means. Who will make the transfers? Can we can cope with staff switching from Thanet to The Nightingale at Excel? Also, will our NHS staff will be looked after and properly compensated?
Last but not least I’m following up concerns raised by residents about our local GP surgeries and care homes. Newington Road Surgery was briefly closed for a deep clean, but what happens if these vital services are hit by staff shortages or other reasons for suspension? How safe are our friends and relatives in care and are news reports of re-prioritisation of the elderly really true?
We are enduring a crisis that is hitting us on social, economical and moral fronts. However, someone has to ask these questions.
Maybe you could ask sainsburys Westwood supermarket stopping single people with kids from shopping I was told I should leave kids at home. How can u leave a 9yr old home alone and then I was told I wouldn’t be allowed in nxt time also people shopping for vulnerable people being stopped from entering. In the end I told them not to bother I and 5 others left and went to tesco.
Karen Constantine. I note in your article you make mention of a communication you sent to Susan Acott Chief Executive of East Kent Hospitals on 30th March as regards PPE issues and as at 13th April you not having received a response. You state ‘I don’t know about you , but I find this shocking’ In the first instance I agree a very serious issue. However are you not trying to sharpen a stick to beat someone with who has more than enough on their plate and I have no doubt the PPE issue is one of the premier priorities Susan Acott and her Team are addressing it. Staff I am sure are raising their concerns through their Ward Managers etc . For the record Susan Acott is the most transformative and visible Chief Executive the Trust has had in the 10 years I have worked in it. Only last week she visited Covid wards and ITU to watch and listen to staff. She is constantly on the go inspiring and driving through change and trying to turn around a Health Trust that in parts has drifted for years through poor management.
Karen Constantine. I note in your article you make mention of a communication you sent to Susan Acott Chief Executive of East Kent Hospitals on 30th March as regards PPE issues and as at 13th April you not having received a response. You state ‘I don’t know about you , but I find this shocking’ In the first instance I agree a very serious issue. However are you not trying to sharpen a stick to beat someone with who has more than enough on their plate and I have no doubt the PPE issue is one of the premier priorities Susan Acott and her Team are addressing. Staff I am sure are able to raise their concerns through their Ward Managers etc . For the record Susan Acott is the most transformative and visible Chief Executive the Trust has had in the 10 years I have worked in it. Only last week she visited Covid wards and ITU to watch and listen to staff. She is constantly on the go inspiring and driving through change and trying to turn around a Health Trust that in parts has drifted for years through poor management.
This woman, Karen has single handily managed to almost put Labour to sleep in Kent, and the polls only back this up, in a massive landslide. This article just about confirms how so out of touch Labour and local county councillors (sleepy Barry Lewis this includes you also) are with the electorate and the working class people.
Now I can see why Susan Alcott hasn’t replied to you, Karen.
Why does “The Box” refer to Barry Lewis as “sleepy Barry Lewis”? He or she has done so several times.
Marva , the box is a troll who should be ignored as an irrelevance, I doubt he lives in Thanet, given he does not follow recent Thanet issues.
I daresay you’re right, Barry, though why bother reading a local paper if you don’t live there?
Marva Rees Marva this is electronic and goes all over Kent and beyond I have the Sunbury local news come through because it was on the Kent live network which this newsletter is on and I agree with Barry whoever it is is a troll they are everywhere. Chris
I am no fan of Susan Acott , especially after her poor handling of the maternity care scandal, but at this time of crisis I am sure she has more urgent tasks than to respond to a county councillor. If I were in Susan Acott’s position I would not waste my time responding to Karen either. Ramsgate deserves more balanced and effective representation on KCC rather than someone just trying to score political points during the worst crisis this country and the world has faced in decades. Karen gave up on TDC and perhaps it’s about time she did the same at county level.
Well said. Very very sad times for many people and yet someone trying to score political points. Sums up some people involved in very local politics.
It’s not about scoring political points.
But do remember, when the next General Election comes along, who it was that cheered and jeered when a pay rise for nurses and doctors was voted down; remember who it was that refused a request by the NHS for a stockpile of PPE.
My comment was based on the fact that Susan Acott has more urgent and important jobs to do than answer e-mails from local politicians.
The other issues particularly around the Government’s handling of this crisis will ultimately be decided at the next general election.
In the meantime all NHS staff need our full support and we all need to stay indoors to give them the best chance to save as many lives as possible.
Hullo Big Chris and Barry!
I just don’t understand what this person gets from being so unpleasant to people whom (I hope!) he doesn’t even know.
At the end of your opinion, you say someone has to ask these questions. Yes but nobody has time to answer them as they are all busy working on them and you should be going to the people and assisting them and then you will find out what they need or are doing your like most councillors talking and not helping. No I have no political affiliation. In fact the time you wrote this if you had just gone and seen at the front line you would know what what it means. Self explanatory isn’t it if you have not enough nurses for your hospital like every other hospital how/where do you expect the nurses to come from, yes there are some nurses there but they will need more as I said self explanatory really councillor Constantine.
In a democracy, it is right and proper that our elected representatives hold to task those charged with delivering public services.
It quite obvious that something has gone terribly wrong. Front line medical staff are dying because of a lack of adequate PPE.
According to Matt Hancock, SoS for health, part of the problem is that front line staff have been misusing PPE. He also makes the point that some of the doctors and nurses who died might have contracted the virus outside the hospital.
Susan Acott is in an ideal position to explain to us (the taxpayers) how much PPE is being abused by health staff in Thanet, and of those who have tragically died, how many caught the virus outside their work place.
If our elected representatives can’t ask the questions, then who will?
Just wondered if Karen could find out why every MP has been given £10000 for this “crisis” but allegedly care home staff can’t access ppe and NHS staff are allegedly dying through.lack of equipment. ALSO why regular people are being policed yet celebrity chefs can travel unchallenged by the police to their 2nd homes. Gordon Ramsay for example. And NO he isn’t isolating as there’s photos of him shopping? One rule for them, one rule for us. We’re the easy targets aren’t we?
There’s no “allegedly” about NHS staff contracting and dying from C19.
I am not a member of any political party, but I agree it is right and proper for elected officers like Karen to hold to account those people and institutions we, the tax payer pay for! The NHS has suffered years of Tory underfunding and cuts, and this must reflect on the states ability to act on behalf of the health of the people! Hence the lack of PPE, and basic protection for workers in Care homes!
There is a shortage of 40,000 nurses! Here’s why! “The Coronavirus emergency reveals Britain’s descent into the Americanised Hell Scape that makes student nurses have to pay tuition fees! Does it seriously need debating that this abomination must end? The cancellation of existing student loans and the scrapping of future tuition fees wouldn’t make a ripple in the Governments ocean of Coronavirus debt!”
“Nurses along with other public sector workers have had their pay cut by the Tories since 2010, by only receiving 1% sub-inflationary increases in pay! All nurses along with other NHS staff, deserve an immediate pay rise, so they earn 10% more in real terms than in 2010! An automatic rise of 5% above inflation should be guaranteed for ten years”. All the above in inverted commas are not my words, but those of Mathew Norman in the Independent Newspaper, 13/4/20, which everyone should applaud!
Just discovered this Tory government is charging VAT on PPE, masks, aprons etc! Duurh! They couldn’t run a bath!
Current position as explained by Eversheds VAT Advice. VAT is NOT being charged on PPE.
In order to help in the fight against COVID-19, the European Commission has adopted a Decision, addressed to the Member States, which allows tax authorities across Europe to offer import tax reliefs to importers of personal protective equipment (“PPE”) and other medical supplies which are to be supplied freely to people at risk of contracting COVID-19. This Decision is a retrospective decision which allows the relief to apply to approved importers in respect of imports made from 30 January 2020. In the UK, HMRC has seemingly stated that the relief can apply to imports of PPE and medical supplies which are imported for onward sale to the NHS. Although the application of the Decision should be applied consistently throughout Europe, the precise nature of the reliefs may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, as may the relevant criteria needed for approvals. Eversheds Sutherland are well placed to advise across Europe if you are an importer of such items.
To illustrate the types of measures being implemented, we set out below the measures that HMRC is implementing in the UK.
HMRC has, on 31 March 2020 issued guidance on the import VAT and customs duties position on imports and the impact of this guidance is that state bodies (such as the NHS) and other non-state bodies (that are pre-authorised by HMRC) can, from now until 31 July 2020, get VAT and import duty relief on their imports of these products if they are:
For distribution free of charge to those affected, at risk from or involved in combating COVID-19;
To be made available free of charge to those affected by, at risk from or involved in combating the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, while remaining the property of the organisations importing them;
To be imported and then donated to the NHS; or
To be imported and sold on to the NHS.
Under the current rules, importers require a duty deferment account with HMRC backed by a guarantee. Importers of these critical goods would need to increase the level of their guarantee to cover any additional duty due. This new approach will allow companies to import goods critical for the fight against coronavirus at a faster rate and reduce costs significantly.
Please note that if you produce and sell such items in the UK, then the relief does not apply, and VAT must be charged as normal. This measure only applies to those goods which are being used for combating COVID-19, and import VAT and duties will be due on products that are loaned or sold to bodies or individuals for other uses. All imports will continue to arrive through the same channels and face the same checks as before.
If you are not an authorised body, you must contact the National Import Relief Unit (“NIRU”), a department of HMRC, for an application form (contact details can be found here). Details of how the relief can be claimed is also contained within the guidanc
The Care home manager I saw on BBC television Breakfast, a short while ago, and who had lost several residents to Coronavirus, was wrong then was she, when she said they were being charged VAT on PPE?