As the world’s scientists try to work out the extent of the danger posed by new Covid variant Omicron and Governments grapple with with what it might mean for the Winter ahead and Christmas in particular, Lib Dem Health spokesperson Daisy Cooper has set out a 5 point plan to address the needs of one group of people let down by the Government.
In the first lockdown, those who were clinically extremely vulnerable had to completely isolate. Our Mary Reid wrote a brilliant Isolation Diary which she later expanded into a book.
The impact on those who had to shield was profound but in recent months they have been forgotten. In fact, the Observer reports that over 100,000 people with compromised immune systems have yet to have their booster.
The emergence of Omicron will no doubt be yet another moment of anxiety for those who were shielding and those who love them.
Daisy said that the Government needs to do much more for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable:
It’s often said that how a society treats its most vulnerable is the measure of its humanity, but if that’s the case, then this Government does not measure up.
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable and their families are incredibly worried about the news of a new variant on our shores. For too long, the Government has ignored these people, their concerns around the vaccine programme and the lack of guidance and support.
The Government must not ignore them any longer: it must be proactive in tackling this new variant and protect those most at risk. The clinically vulnerable deserve clear guidance and support from ministers instead of being treated as an afterthought.
The decision to end the shielding programme – when many continued to shield – left our most vulnerable feeling like the rug had been pulled out from underneath them. It’s high time the Government put support measures back in place, including getting on top of the utter mess surrounding third primary doses and introducing a shielding programme that genuinely supports those who need it.
The five point plan is as follows:
1. Urgently address the chaos and confusion surrounding the roll-out of the third primary vaccines for the immuno-suppressed
2. Appoint a Minister to have overall coordinating responsibility for all CEV matters and establish monthly meetings for patient groups with that Minister
3. Issue and promote updated official guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable on the current risks, including those posed by Omicron, and how best to protect themselves
4. Create a new register of the clinically extremely vulnerable, t which includes those who are newly CEV plus anyone who needs to be re-classified as this as evidence of the new variant emerges
5. Establish a supported shielding programme to provide proper pay, not just sick pay, for those who cannot work from home, and mental health support and befriending services for those shielding and suffering from loneliness and isolation