“Unjust and unfair” to force people to pay £00s to visit loved ones – Ed

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Responding to the Prime Minister’s spokpesperson confirming that people visiting loved ones in care homes will no longer be able to access free Covid testing, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Yesterday, Boris Johnson simply could not admit that it is his policy to put a new tax on caring by forcing people to pay for covid tests before they visit vulnerable people.

Now, his spokesperson has done his dirty work for him.

It is simply unjust and unfair to force people to pay hundreds of pounds to year to safely visit their loved ones. It will make vulnerable people more alienated, more lonely, and act as a barrier for family and friends getting together. We must stop this tax on caring.

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19 Comments

  • Chris Moore 22nd Feb '22 - 5:26pm

    This clearly has an outsize impact on the poorer off.

    For many people, the cost of paying for a lateral flow test, several times a week say, is negligible; but for the poorer off, it isn’t.

    The government haven’t even realised.

  • @Chris

    I agree, apart from the part where you say the Government haven’t even realised…..

    I think they do know, they just do not care enough to do anything about it. It’s clearly not a priority for the chancellor..

    Look at the measly amount that the Government pays in Carers Allowance £67.60 if you provide 35 hours or more a week for care and that’s on the proviso that your income is not already above £128 a week, otherwise you get squat.

    As the primary carer for 2 vulnerable elderly parents, I get diddly squat help from the Government. I do a 40-mile round trip each time to provide care.
    If I had to find the money for Covid Tests on top of this, well it would be impossible and I would have to make a conscious choice between providing care and putting them at risk and I am not sure my conscience would stand that.

    If I could no longer continue to provide the care they would have to go into assisted living or Nursing homes which would cost the taxpayer far more money and would be detrimental to their health which is also a burden to the NHS…

    Given the government’s past record on protecting and supporting the vulnerable and those that care for them, I will not be expecting any U-Turns anytime soon

  • It’s not realistic to keep a virus which has an R0 of around 10 out of care homes. Testing is now a futile exercise. We’re all going to be exposed to Omicron if we haven’t been already. Allowing this relatively benign variant to spread will augment community (‘herd’) immunity which will help to protect us all in the event of a more pathogenic variant emerging in the future.

    We need to focus on the clinically vulnerable themselves by boosting their immunity with vaccination where beneficial and prophylactic antibody treatments for the immunocompromised. It would be helpful to ensure that their serum vitamin D level is in the magic 40-60 ng/mL (100-150 nmol/L) range which research shows is optimal for activating our immune system.

    ‘Pre-infection 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels and association with severity of COVID-19 illness’ [February 2022]:
    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0263069

    Patients with vitamin D deficiency (<20 ng/mL) were 14 times more likely to have severe or critical disease than patients with 25(OH)D ≥40 ng/mL

    ‘Long-term effects of giving nursing home residents bread fortified with 125 μg (5000 IU) vitamin D3 per daily serving’ [February 2009]:
    https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/89/4/1132/4596760

    Design: In a single-arm design, 45 nursing home residents consumed one bun daily that had been fortified with 125 μg (5000 IU) vitamin D3 and 320 mg elemental calcium.

    Results: The initial mean (±SD) serum 25(OH)D concentration was 28.5 ± 10.8 nmol/L. After 12 mo, the 25(OH)D concentration was 125.6 ± 38.8 nmol/L, and it exceeded 74 nmol/L in 92% of the patients.

  • @Jeff

    I am assuming that you are neither personally nor looking after someone else who is clinically vulnerable to covid still “Despite being vaccinated”

    Therefore I find your comments “testing is futile” disrespectful to others.
    You may not need to take extra precautions in life, sadly many millions of people are not so fortunate as you.

    Many of us have to take extra precautions every year with vulnerable loved ones during flu seasons, etc, Covid is different as it’s an all year round thing and many people are infectious without even realising it. When you have caring responsibilities for a loved one or for ANYONE else for that matter, you want to do right by them and keep them safe.
    Having access to testing allows us to continue to provide that vital care and support that is needed with confidence that we are not going to be responsible for making a loved one seriously I’ll or worse.

    You might be rejoicing and loving all your freedoms back, but you will do well to remember that this is not an equal society that we live in and for many, this pandemic “new virus” has brought in a whole host of new restrictions and expenses for many vulnerable sections of society
    ( regardless of whether you view that as self imposed or not)

  • Chris Moore 22nd Feb '22 - 9:06pm

    There’s no doubt of the outsize impacts of Covid on the vulnerable and elderly and their carers.

    Matt, I appreciate how hard and fundamental the task of caring is and the dedication shown by all who care for family members and friends. We are a deeply unequal society. Carers’ allowance is pitiful. Increasing it should be a priority. I believe the LDs are going in that direction, with personal input from Ed Davey.

    Please look after your own health too. I remember caring for my father as he was dying. It was exhausting and that was only for two months. But also it was one of the periods where I felt I was doing something of importance. I hope you have the same feeling.

  • @Chris

    Thank you for your kind words.

    “But also it was one of the periods where I felt I was doing something of importance. I hope you have the same feeling.”

    I was not sure whether to respond to that or not, but then I always believe in being open, so decided to do so.
    I sadly do not feel like that, I suffer from physical and mental health disabilities myself that I struggle with every day and find difficult to cope with. But, I still have responsibilities to my parents and for their health also and were it not for the support and things that I do for them, they would need to leave their sheltered housing and go into assisted living ( which I know neither are ready for and would have a detrimental effect on both their health’s and then ultimately my own.

    And whilst I will never ever resent it, it’s not something that I can make any sense of achievement from.,,,,,,

  • There are millions of families with vulnerable relatives in the same situation up and down the UK faced with the same situations, Barriers, dilemmas and fears and yet this government sees fit to remove the 1 last tool at their disposal “access to testing” in order to keep them safe.
    But I guess the Jacob Reece Moggs of this world and free market-loving economy where the likes of boots can get away with charging vulnerable people £5.99 per lateral flow test can have a clear conscience because we are now encouraging the world to get on with life as “normal” and people are free to make their own choices “apparently”

  • Chris Moore 23rd Feb '22 - 8:02am

    Matt, The achievement is to keep them at home and together where they want to be. You are doing something precious – even if you yourself can’t feel that – and also valiant given your own mental and physical health problems.

    Carers keep society from collapsing. The party has a good record on this issue; alsoa party leader who is a carer. We should make increasing carers’ allowance and other reforms a top policy priority. As you rightly say, these issues affect a large number of families across the country.

  • Peter Davies 23rd Feb '22 - 9:22am

    The main reason for the change is clearly the significant overall cost to the treasury. I would expect this to be considerably lower by the time this change comes in. The number of people required to take them will have fallen and so will the number taken because people have symptoms (caused by colds or flu as well as Covid). Hopefully the number testing because they have been in contact with cases will also have fallen.

  • Just tried to make a query with British Gas only to be told, via an automatic computer response, that due to large numbers of Covid cases the wait to speak to a human being may be considerable, so this is what living with Covid is going to be like?

  • It’s not helpful if people are being given a false sense of safety about the use of lateral-flow tests in the context of people visiting care homes. Omicron is highly transmissible – far more so than flu. Lateral-flow tests are not nearly accurate enough to keep it out of care homes where a large number of people go in and out – staff, visitors, delivery drivers, cleaners, doctors, nurses, hairdressers, etc.

    Rather than uninformed petty party political point scoring the Lib Dems could be constructive for a change and propose measures which are supported by scientific research. For example, they could hitch themselves up to David Davis’s long-running campaign to promote supplementation with vitamin D and press the government to reinstate the previous scheme, but this time with an efficacious dose.

    ‘Covid lateral flow tests: how reliable are they and where can I get a kit?’ [January 2022]:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/covid-lateral-flow-tests-reliable-can-get-kit/

    Lateral flows have high sensitivity and do not give many false positives, however they do give false negative results.

    A Cohcrane review of 64 studies found that they correctly identify 72 per cent of infected people who have symptoms, and 78 per cent within the first week of becoming ill.

  • Barry Lofty 23rd Feb ’22 – 11:11am:
    …is what living with Covid is going to be like?

    Within a few weeks Omicron will have spread through most of the population and will burn-out leaving behind a high-level of community (‘herd’) immunity that should protect us against severe symptoms from any future variants. To displace Omicron a new variant would likely have to more transmissible.

  • Barry Lofty: I had the same experience last week, so went to the chat line, took 10 minutes to start the “chat” but issue resolved after another similar time span.

  • Jeff: I truly hope you are right but personally I have developed a huge distrust of politicians and the messages they give to the general population.

  • [email protected] I am in the slow process of being transferred to British Gas after our supplier went bust? Wanted ask a question about accessing my new account so went direct to the chat line and the message regarding long waits re Covid came via the chat line?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Feb '22 - 1:17pm

    A real sense of irresponsibility from Johnson’s abysmal lack of leadership, a sense of leadership emerging from the responsible attitude of Davey.

    My thoughts and feelings are for Matt and those like him. But for our whole country sleepwalking to libertarian dog eat dog, financial and personal, surival of the fittest citizens.

    The worst policy is removal of requirement tyo stay home if with the virus. Absurd and wrong.

    The most irresponsible govt in decades!

  • Nonconformistradical 23rd Feb '22 - 1:21pm

    “The most irresponsible govt in decades!”
    Seconded

  • @Jeff

    “Rather than uninformed petty party political point scoring ”

    You clearly have no idea how offensive this is to vulnerable people and their families.

    This is not just about care homes and trying to keep care home residents safe, it is about millions of people who are cared for AT HOME by friends and family, people who without this care would more than likely need to be looked after by the NHS or social services instead costing far more money to the tax payer.

    Carers need to feel that they are doing everything in their power to keep those they care for safe from covid. The Government is taking away the one last tool away from them, in order for them to do it safely “testing”

    You might call it “petty politics” and feel it an unimportant issue, I call it social conscience and responsibility and giving a voice to millions of disadvantaged people who are far to often overlooked and underrepresented.

  • Barry Lofty 23rd Feb ’22 – 11:57am:
    Jeff: I truly hope you are right but personally I have developed a huge distrust of politicians and the messages they give to the general population.

    Me too. I rarely believe what politicians say, especially on scientific matters. I much prefer to look at original evidence and make my own mind up. Here’s an interview with a scientist who’s done some research into how durable immunity is and he’s optimistic that we are near the end of this pandemic…

    ‘Natural immunity with Dr Pilz’ [17th. February 2022]:

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