This is a statement released by Doctors in Unite. SHA members supported the drafting.

Doctors in Unite statement in support of NEU: 3.1.21

Doctors in Unite support the NEU in calling upon Government to move learning online in all primary schools including primary special schools in England for at least 2 weeks and in issuing advice to all their members informing them of their legal rights not to have to work in an unsafe environment.

We supported the NEU on May 2020 and we support them now.

Doctors in Unite are fully cognisant of the detriment to our young people that stems from missing their education and that the educational deficit falls disproportionately on the most disadvantaged in society. Research is urgently needed to quantify the extent of this disadvantage in order to begin to level the playing field. However, it is also a fact that COVID 19 causes more mortality and morbidity for the most vulnerable in society. Sending children to school is more likely to cause adverse outcomes in families and communities beset by poverty and poor housing, disproportionately those of BAME origin.

We have consistently called for a robust, locally driven, community based Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support programme, coordinated by borough Public Health and Primary Care teams This has worked well in other countries but our Government has singularly failed to heed other’s experience and has continued to plough billions into the privately run, thoroughly discredited national test and trace system and the potentially dangerous Operation Moonshot. We contend that if Government had invested a fraction of this money into local public health and primary care teams, using this as an opportunity to rebuild decimated public health services, that schools would not be faced with mass closure. Additionally the Government could have funded infrastructure so that all children could have access to education at home but instead they chose to prioritise the business interests of their friends with August’s  “eat out to help out” scheme and had to be dragged into ensuring that vulnerable children did not starve by a national pouring of outrage led by Marcus Rashford.

The blame for the situation we find ourselves in lies squarely with the Government and not with the teaching unions.

We yet again call on the Government to rebuild local public health services, fund the NHS and Social Care properly and to heed the multiple reports that link poverty with ill health, the latest being the updated Marmot report:

And this on iSAGE making schools safe:

Dr Jackie Applebee, Chair Doctors in Unite.