NHS workers battling coronavirus are facing a “national shortage” of protective clothing, HuffPost UK has been told.Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan, a working doctor who still works shifts in A&E, said scientists had told her that there were not enough body suits in the right sizes, while some doctors were only now starting to receive protective clothing.
It came amid new official estimates suggesting 5,000 to 10,000 people in the UK have coronavirus, leaving many doctors, nurses and other health workers at risk of infection.
Last month, the World Health Organisation also warned that there was a global shortage of protective masks and body suits.
One NHS source who worked at a hospital where coronavirus patients were being treated told HuffPost UK: “There were staff forced to wear oversized suits because that’s all they had.
“All we have left is XL.
“There is a national shortage of suits but this was raised with the government at least three weeks ago so something should have been done.”
Appearing on HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast, Allin-Khan repeated the concerns.
“I held a meeting today with some people from the scientific community and they said their concern was though they had been testing out various modes of protective clothing, it turns out that there is a lack of the clothing they need available, the sizes aren’t available,” she said.
“Just yesterday - because people still contact me because I’m a doctor still, to let me know what’s going on - someone said they were a GP and had only started receiving the necessary protective clothing yesterday and this has been going on for a month now.
The Labour deputy leadership candidate criticised the government for moving too slowly to tackle from coronavirus.
In a departure from Labour’s broad support for the government, Allin-Khan called for tougher measures to tackle the outbreak, including testing those with symptoms for the virus as a matter of course.
Allin-Khan said the government’s testing programme could be “more robust”, reporting that “friends in the NHS” said people were being given “really unclear messaging”.
She gave an example of two people who returned from northern Italy who phoned NHS 111 and were told to wait for a call back which did not come for five days, during which time they self isolated.
When they eventually spoke again to NHS staff, they had to give their details again and had to self-isolate for eight days before finally being tested for coronavirus.
Test results are also taking three to five days to materialise.
Allin-Khan said: “We need to be moving quicker, people need to have a better idea of how to access testing, what it means for their daily lives.
“The messaging needs to be clearer and the testing needs to be more robust.”
She added: “We should have moved into the delay phase sooner than now and I don’t think we should measure our performance compared to what other countries are doing.
“I think we should be looking at what’s best for us and when you look at the fact that China had the same number of cases that we already have surpassed before implementing measures we do need to be listening to what the other scientific community, for example some eminent epidemiologists, listen to what they’re saying.
“Because ultimately we can’t leave the scientific community to be scapegoated for the government making bad decisions if they are proven to be wrong.”
Allin-Khan meanwhile sidestepped questions on whether she wants to be shadow health secretary under the next Labour leader.
“I like to focus on one thing at a time, genuinely, and I don’t think you should ever have a plan B because that’s implying you’ve accepted that your plan A won’t work out,” she said.
“So I am genuinely, steely focused on winning this deputy leadership bid.”
Put to her that she would be a good fit for the job, she replied: “Well I am a practising NHS doctor and I have got a master’s degree in public health and I care about our party so that’s honestly for whoever is the leader to decide.”
When I first met Rosena, she was Labour’s candidate in the 2016 Tooting by-election.
As a by-election candidate myself in Heywood and Middleton in 2014, I know how difficult and uniquely pressured by-elections can be and I wanted to help Rosena win the seat after the amazing Sadiq Khan left to become London mayor.
As soon as I met Rosena, I knew that Tooting would soon have another fantastic Labour MP. Her boundless energy and enthusiasm inspired her whole team. I also knew that Rosena wouldn’t be just a backbench MP but that she would bring her skills and experience to the parliamentary Labour party and she’s certainly done that in her role as shadow sports minister and with her background as a practising A&E doctor in our NHS.
The choice of who to support in the deputy leadership contest has been a difficult one for me. I know all the candidates and they’re all people I am proud to call friends. But it’s Rosena who has most impressed me in this campaign and I think she has the qualities that we need in our new deputy leader.
After the disastrous election result in December 2019, where I lost my seat to the Tories – the first time that they have ever taken Heywood & Middleton – Rosena was one of the first people to contact me, to commiserate but also to talk about what went wrong and how we rebuild from here.
She came up to my constituency to talk with key activists about the campaign and we explored every aspect, from Brexit through to our manifesto and the Labour leadership. We talked about Heywood and Middleton being a 62% Leave voting constituency and how I had tried to represent the views of all my constituents in trying to get a deal that worked for 100%.
Rosena understands the issues that we face here in the North and I know that she is going to be a great campaigning deputy leader who will reach out across the country to win back those lost Labour seats in the North, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales.
I see the role of deputy leader as being a campaigner, an organiser, an advisor and also a critical friend. I think that Rosena is more than capable of doing this job, and doing it extremely well. I am wary of any offer of leader/deputy leader ‘dream tickets’ suggesting a cosy, already formed relationship. The deputy leader has to be able to stand back and assess situations critically and I know that Rosena has the independence and strength of character to do this.
I know how hard Rosena has worked to become a qualified doctor, and she’s not only continued to work shifts at St George’s Hospital, keeping her grounded and in touch with our NHS but she’s also done great humanitarian work reaching out internationally.
I’ll never forget her impassioned speech in parliament when she returned from the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh where she’d been providing medical care to people who have nothing – no citizenship, no home, in many cases no family and no prospect of their situation improving.
Rosena has the strength, knowledge, intelligence and empathy needed to unite our party and also to take our message out to the wider public. And whoever becomes leader, she will be a unique complement to them. I’m proud to call Rosena a friend, and I’m proud to support her to be the next deputy leader of the Labour Party.
Rosena Allin-Khan kicks off Labour deputy leader campaign in Putney with ‘fire in her belly’
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan launched her deputy Labour leadership campaign in Putney last night.
The campaign, held in the ballroom of the Star & Garter pub, brought together an eclectic crowd, including some young first-time voters.
Tooting MP Dr Allin-Khan, who is running with the slogan ‘Taking Labour Forward’, is a qualified A&E front-line doctor and has provided humanitarian aid to refugees in Syria.
Describing her determination to be the next deputy leader, she said: “Expertise in building trust in communities and shared life experience has put fire in my belly to achieve for others.”
She set out her ‘internationalist’ vision of Britain’s future after Brexit and brought attention to the importance of social care reform, the significance of a grassroots revival and updating technology within the Labour Party.
Labour’s Putney MP Fleur Anderson said that Dr Allin-Khan would be a ‘campaigner-in-chief’ and not a ‘leader-in-waiting’ if elected as deputy leader in a PoliticsHome article last week.
The Musician’s Union has given their endorsement to Dr Allin-Khan and to Sir Keir Starmer for leader.
Voting takes place from February 24 to April 2 and results will be announced on the April 4.
Labour needs to become a party of progressive internationalism once againLast Tuesday, a boat capsized and sank in the Bay of Bengal. There were 138 Rohingya refugees crammed on the boat, fleeing from camps in Bangladesh. At least 15 bodies were found, including four children, with 50 more missing.
I’ve been campaigning for the rights of the Rohingya since the recent crisis unfolded in 2017. I’ve been involved in humanitarian matters long before entering politics and standing to be Labour deputy leader.
Stories such as those of the Rohingya do not often have a light shined upon them here in the UK. They happen far away and it feels as if they’re outside of our control. The UK has a proud history of humanitarian assistance and we must ensure that this continues. We must never allow ourselves to turn a blind eye. Every single human life has equal value, no matter where that person was born, what language they speak or what they look like. Humanity has no borders.
This isn’t just something I believe in principle — I act on it. My work as a humanitarian doctor has taken me to the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, where grieving mothers told me accounts of their babies being ripped from their arms and murdered before their eyes. The guilt of coming home to my own three- and five-year-olds left me unable to sleep at night. Why should their lives be of more value to the world than those of the Rohingya children who are slaughtered without a dignified burial?
I have seen how human life is not valued equally around the world. It lit a fire in my belly to continue fighting such injustice, no matter where it takes place.
At the very heart of my Labour principles is internationalism. I believe this spirit of internationalism must drive everything we do as a party. We must always stand in unwavering opposition to any effort to restrict freedoms, whether here or globally. We’ve seen where this mentality leads — whether it is the tragedy of Windrush, the cruelty of detention centres like Yarl’s Wood, or the inhumanity of a government that votes against protection for vulnerable child refugees. Now is the time for all of us who believe in progressive, internationalist values to fight back. It is our duty to ensure that the Rohingya and other victims are not forgotten by the world.
One of the reasons I decided to stand to become the next deputy leader of Labour is because I believe our party has a unique chance to become a global beacon of internationalism, as it has been before. We have arguably the largest grassroots membership of any political party in Europe. If we are able to unite behind a truly internationalist vision for our party and our country, we could be a force for change on a global scale.
We have a wonderful society, which has welcomed so many people from across the world, but this government’s hostile environment is diminishing hope — hope for a brighter future, hope for a tolerant society.
I first entered politics in order to shed light on humanitarian efforts around the world and give a voice to the voiceless. I still believe we can, and I want to help rebuild the Labour Party so that it becomes a powerful force for good. As a party we need to rebuild trust with our communities, with the British people and the international community. Let’s do this together.
Rosena Allin-Khan is Labour MP for Tooting and candidate for the deputy leadership
The Musicians’ Union has nominated Keir Starmer to be the next leader of the Labour Party, and Rosena Allin-Khan to be the next deputy.
The party-affiliated organisation has become the fourth trade union to back Starmer, and the first to back Allin-Khan.
In 2015, the union nominated Andy Burnham for leader and Caroline Flint for deputy, and in 2016 it backed leadership challenger Owen Smith.
Commenting on their nomination on Twitter, the Musicians’ Union said Starmer had been “a strong supporter of musicians”.
“He understands the challenges musicians working in the EU are facing and what we need to do to meet them”.
The organisation also revealed in a tweet that Allin-Khan was a “former Musicians’ Union member” and said they were “proud to see her rise so far” and “to support her as she continues fighting for young people to have a free musical education.”
Starmer has already secured his place on the final ballot through both the support of affiliates, including large trade union UNISON, and the backing of local Labour parties.
To reach the ballot paper, each candidate must be nominated by 5% of local parties or three affiliates, two of which must be trade unions, amounting to more than 5% of the total affiliate membership.
Starmer has been nominated by a total of 159 constituency parties so far, as well as UNISON, Usdaw, SERA, Community, Labour Movement for Europe, Labour Business and the Socialist Health Association.
Allin-Khan has yet to secure a place on the final ballot, having so far only secured the support of 17 CLPs and the Labour Campaign for International Development.
Fleur Anderson MP: As Deputy Leader, Rosena Allin-Khan would be a campaigner-in-chief, not a leader-in-waitingRosena Allin-Khan is a real campaigner – she knows how to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in, writes Putney's new MP, Fleur Anderson.
The night of the General Election result was a deeply distressing moment for all of us who love the Labour Party and who love our country. It was an horrific experience to watch the door close on a whole generation as the Tories won a huge majority to continue their destructive and damaging agenda.
But I was also hugely proud and honoured to produce the only Labour gain of the night, as I became the new MP for Putney. It was, I hope, a rare bright light in an otherwise long, dark night for all those Labour activists, members and volunteers who worked tirelessly during the election. Rosena’s help and support was vital to that win. She is my friend and colleague, as we were councillors together and she is the MP for the neighbouring constituency of Tooting.
It’s sometimes forgotten how difficult it can be for prospective parliamentary candidates, especially ones who’ve never stood to be an MP before. Of course, it’s a huge honour to be given the chance to represent your local community, and to make their voices heard in the corridors of power – but you also have to put your life on hold for months, spending hardly any time with your friends and family, working and campaigning relentlessly, whatever the weather, rain or shine. And at the end of it all, there’s absolutely no guarantee you’ll get the job, especially in a marginal seat like Putney. It’s incredibly rewarding, but it’s hard work too. Rosena was there for me every step of the way, helping me, guiding me, giving me advice and encouragement and very practical support too. I cannot thank her enough.
She is a real campaigner – she knows how to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in, and every single voter who meets her comes away with a positive impression and a smile on their face. I should know - we stood to be Councillors together in the same ward in 2014 - fighting a seat that had been Tory for 24 years - and we won, through sheer hard work and positive conversations. Rosena is a relentless optimist – she always finds the positives in every situation and she never gives up, no matter what. Her life-story is a true demonstration of our Labour values – she comes from an impoverished background, failed her A-levels first time around but persevered, and because of reforms introduced by a Labour government, she was able to study at Cambridge and become a doctor before becoming an MP - it shows the difference a Labour Government can make to the lives of people across our country.
Rosena is now running to become the next Deputy Leader of Labour. There’s no doubt she’s the underdog in the race, but that’s never stopped her before, and I know it won’t stop her now. She would be a phenomenal Deputy Leader of our Party, and that’s why she’s got my total support. She’s got the most interesting and substantive ideas of any of the candidates, and she’s already published a fantastic Grassroots Revival manifesto of how the Labour Party can improve our campaigning practices to get back to winning ways ahead of the local elections in May. As Deputy Leader, she would be a campaigner-in-chief, not a leader-in-waiting. In Putney, I saw the real difference she made with her energy, her optimism and her campaigning skill. Thanks to Rosena’s help, we turned blue seats into red ones, and if she’s elected as the next Deputy Leader, we can start doing that across the whole country - at both a local and a national level. Let’s take Labour forward.
Fleur Anderson is Labour MP for Putney.
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan: As a doctor and as a daughter I know social care is broken.
The deputy leadership candidate has spoken about the horror of finding her dad - who has dementia- injured and not knowing what happened. She wants to make sure no other family has to suffer that way.
Nothing prepares you for finding your loved one bruised and blooded. Nothing prepares you for never finding answers. This is the reality that every day, so many people are living through, across the UK, because of the nature of the social care system. Nothing prepared me for being one of the statistics.
My father has fronto-temporal dementia – he cannot communicate his thoughts but he is fully aware of what is happening. My brother and I found him bloodied and bruised on more than one occasion, we have sought answers but we know that we will never find them. He is safe now, but his health has deteriorated massively and has affected his life expectancy.
This is not just my reality. This is the reality for so many others across the country.
I am lucky. I was able to call a debate last year and get The Mirror to cover my family’s journey. Most people don’t have that luxury. Instead, they’re left fighting the social care system.
I’ve been on both sides. As an aggrieved family member and a local politician with a responsibility for social care, I’ve seen the strife that goes into placements on both sides. The system is failing our most vulnerable residents.
As it stands, the social care system is not fit for purpose. The Tories promised in their manifesto that they would tackle social care. It’s been three years – and yet still no Green Paper, despite countless promises.
Last week, in Parliament, I asked the Health Secretary how many more families will suffer before the Government looks to reform the social care system. There was no answer.
As an A&E doctor, who regularly sees vulnerable older people stranded in hospital because they don’t have access to adequate social care, and as a daughter, who’s had to go through this process, I have the following recommendations:
- A truly independent complaints process – formal complaints should not have to go through the care provider or local authority who the complaint is against.
- A reformed process for awarding care contracts – to ensure that failing companies cannot simply change their name and continue providing inadequate care.
- An Independent Advocate for Older People – to protect and promote the rights of older people.
- Mandatory CCTV with an opt-out – CCTV in communal areas within care homes should be mandatory to provide evidence of any unacceptable behaviour in a care setting.
- A fully funded social care system, integrated into our NHS, with a ban on outsourcing to private companies.
Increased funding alone won’t solve the problems being faced by our most vulnerable – only enacting the above changes will. At some point in our lives, we all have an experience with the social care system – as a daughter, I know how difficult it is when this system fails you.
As Labour Deputy Leader, I would continue putting pressure on this Tory Government and their poor record on social care. As a society, we must protect our most vulnerable – sadly, nothing prepares you for confronting the worst. As your Deputy Leader, I would work with the Leader of the Labour Party to put the NHS and social care front and centre of our policy going forward. We need to protect our most vulnerable. We need a Labour Government.
I am hugely proud and honoured to be nominated for Deputy Leader by the Labour Campaign for International Development.
As someone who has worked as an humanitarian doctor in conflict zones across the world, their progressive approach to international development and promotion of global justice is an inspiration.
My priority will always be to put human rights and international solidarity at the core of everything I do. Human life should have equal value, no matter where someone comes from. These principles shouldn't just apply to our international development policies, they should be applied to everything we do as the Labour Party.
I want to thank the Labour Campaign for International Development for their support and their endorsement. Let's take Labour forward, together.
Brexit Might Be Done But The Fight Against Boris Johnson's Destruction Must ContinueAlthough the Labour party is in a difficult place right now, we must make sure it is at the forefront of the fightback.
When the UK leaves the EU this Friday, 31 January 2020, after 47 years of membership, it will be a sombre day for many of us. For others, it will be a day of celebration. For most people, I suspect they will simply hope we can now move on from talking about Brexit at the expense of everything else.
As someone who campaigned with all my heart to stay in the EU, and as the first person on Labour’s front bench to publicly call for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, I am desperately sad to see us leaving our friends and allies in Europe. But we are leaving. The disastrous result of the General Election has settled that. This is no longer an argument about Leave or Remain, it’s about what kind of future we want for our country and for our children.
That’s where the new fight begins. Boris Johnson wants to pretend he’s now “Got Brexit Done”, and we no longer need to worry about the details. He wants us to simply trust him to sort it all out. Well, I don’t trust him. Neither should you. He talks about “Global Britain” whilst turning his back on vulnerable child refugees. He talks about “Taking Back Control” while reducing parliament’s ability to scrutinise his decisions. He talks about attracting “Global Talent” to the UK while creating huge distress and uncertainty for EU citizens, many of whom have been here for years and who have made their lives in this country.
The fight for our internationalist values starts now. It will be long, and it will be difficult, because Boris Johnson has a large majority – but that’s why it’s so important. When it feels like hope is lost, that’s when those of us who believe in progressive values and internationalism need to stand up and fight. If we don’t, no-one else is going to do it for us.
We need to stand up and fight for our hard-won workers’ rights. We need to stand up and fight for our environmental protections. Most importantly, we need to stand up and fight for the rights of EU citizens living in this country. They are our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues, our family. I work side-by-side with many of them in the NHS, when I work shifts as a doctor in my local A&E department. Under the draconian new immigration laws being bandied around by this government, my own Polish mother might not have been able to move to this country and make a life for herself.
Although the Labour party is in a difficult place right now, we must make sure it is at the forefront of the fightback. That’s one of the main reasons I am running to become the next Deputy Leader. We have huge organisational strength through our membership, through our links with the trade unions and through our MPs and councillors embedded in their local communities. Now is the time to deploy those strengths to maximum effect, to hold the Government to account and ensure that we fight back against every attempt to undercut our rights and freedoms at work, every attempt to weaken our environmental safeguards, every attempt to inject privatisation into our National Health Service.
The slogan “Get Brexit Done” might have helped win the election for Boris Johnson, but for those of us who stand against his destructive vision for the future of our country, this fight isn’t done. It’s just getting started.
here you can read about my campaign activities