The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into stark relief the serious health inequalities that exist both in the UK and across the world. In response we have seen incredible kindness, and witnessed all kinds of actions to both serve our both communities immediate needs, and to tackle some of the inequalities that threaten to worsen the problem.
We are very grateful to the health community at this time of great need. We know that many of our members on the frontline are working incredibly hard and facing unprecedented and immediate challenges. Our team is here to support the Medact community in whatever way we can.
We recognise that this time requires an adaptive and emergent approach to a quickly-changing situation. What follows is our best attempt to capture and organise some of the responses from the health community.
We will be updating it as regularly as we can.
Steps we’re taking at Medact
Campaigning on inequality and Economic Justice
We will be adjusting our approach to campaigning in the coming months to give more focus to supporting campaigns that seek to address the health inequalities intersecting with COVID-19.
We’ve had over 700 signatures on our petition for a socially just response to coronavirus. Help us take it up to a thousand, by signing and sharing with your networks.
We published a blog earlier this month highlighting gaps in the government’s policy response that will undermine the ability of people to self-isolate safely and deepen existing socio-economic inequalities as this crisis unfolds.
We also supported the release of a new IPPR report, Care fit for our Carers, which highlights the low pay and insecurity faced by many health and care workers.
Earlier in the month, we also signed a letter alongside organisations such as MSF, Global Justice now and Just Treatment to ensure that the vaccine made for COVID19 is affordable, accessible to all, especially those living in low and middle income countries.
We have also launched our new Medact Economic Justice & Health issue group. The group in its early stages and new members are very welcome to get involved and be a part of deciding how it will grow.
Campaigning on Access to Healthcare
It’s been a really time for our access to healthcare work as we continue to pressure the Government for a better response to the coronavirus crisis.
Simply adding COVID-19 to the list of exempt conditions in charging regulations does not go far enough and many people are still unable to access the NHS due to fears about charging and data-sharing.
Campaigning for the suspension of charging regulations – We launched a joint statement with JCWI and Liberty which has now been signed by 70 civil society organisations. Our call has been gathering momentum and this month we joined the British Medical Association and 6 Royal Colleges in signing this letter, coordinated by Doctors of the World, echoing our demands. We also worked alongside 3 MPs to coordinate a statement, eventually signed by 60 cross-party MPs, in support of the BMA’s position. They have now tabled an Early Day Motion calling for the NHS charging regulations to be scrapped: we’ll let you know soon how to get your MP to support the motion.
Highlighting the true impact of the coronavirus crisis on migrant communities. We worked with Kanlungan, a Filipino community organisation, to expose the story of Elvis, an undocumented migrant who died at home after experiencing coronavirus syptoms. He had been too scared to seek help from the NHS. We’ve been conducting research with frontline organisations supporting migrants to find out what impact the coronavirus crisis is having on people’s access to care. We used the preliminary results as part of our submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee, and will be publishing the full findings very soon.
We’ve also been supporting the Migrant Solidarity Group to promote the release of their research looking at the impact of NHS charging on children and their families – read more about it in the Group Updates section below.
Mutual Aid Resources – We’ve produced a range of useful resources aimed at mutual aid groups to ensure that people are aware of the issues facing undocumented migrants and can provide support in a safe and helpful way. We also collected all this info into a blog that we’ve published along with Migrants Organise. You can read it here.
Adapting our Climate Campaigning:
We were inspired by the attendance at our “Climate, Health and COVID-19” webinars, and have set up a Climate and Health working group to start taking them forward. The group held its first meeting on 6th May. If you would like to get involved please complete the following short form:
On International Nurses Day, Medact joined Nurses United, Green New Deal UK and a number of other organisations, unions and individuals to launch the Build Back Better campaign calling for a just recovery from COVID-19 that prioritises people and planet. In the coming weeks and months, the Climate & Health Working Group will be looking at growing the health call in support of a Green New Deal with more creative actions.
Many of our Fossil Free Health groups are also taking time out to do some virtual campaign planning workshops and skills sessions with our new Climate and Health Organiser, Rob. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like him to facilitate a virtual campaign planning or skill share workshop with your group.
Adapting our Peace & Security Campaigning
We are publishing a series of blogs discussing peace and security in the context of the coronavirus pandemic: ‘Responding to coronavirus – intersections with war, militarised violence and the arms industry’. Look out in the coming weeks for further blogs on the impacts of international trade sanctions on public health, and the links between coronavirus and policing, prisons and immigration detention.
As our first piece explains, Gaza is particularly under-prepared for an outbreak of COVID-19 due to the impacts of the blockade and regular attacks. We joined this call with Physicians for Human Rights Israel and 17 international organisations for Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and to put in place immediate steps to prevent the spread of the virus.
We also joined hundreds of international health, humanitarian and civil society organisations in calling for an immediate global ceasefire so that people around the world can work together to overcome coronavirus, protect health workers and facilities and move toward peace.
With the recent release of the latest SIPRI report that has shown the greatest increase in global military expenditure in 2019 for a decade, we have joined 18 organisations in calling for the government to reorient spending to socially-useful production that tackles serious threats to ‘human security’.
We held a webinar on the arms industry in the era of COVID-19. Thanks to those who were able to attend and to our brilliant speakers. You can watch the talk on our Youtube, and listen to it in Podcast form.
Adapting how we conduct our work
We have postponed our conference and our Movement Builder is in touch with group coordinators to support alternative ways of campaigning at this time. Check out the Medact Groups Online Facilitation Guide.
Some Medact groups are holding online gatherings, you can find out about how to join these in our Calendar.
We held a webinar on Climate, Health and COVID-19 – we will shortly be sharing a summary of this webinar, and following it up with additional climate justice webinars for health workers. And we have co-hosted webinars with the People’s Health Movement on a socially just response to coronavirus. Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming webinars.
Other things you can do
Adding health voice to key campaigns
We would urge you to add your voice support the following campaigns:
- An open letter to Matt Hancock on the Private Healthcare announcement calling for the ‘deal’ to be made public
- You can sign this letter to ask to Make any COVID-19 vaccine affordable for all
- Petition calling on Testing frontline NHS staff for COVID-19 as a priority
- We Own It are taking ongoing action for public ownership of the NHS
If you are leading a campaign on which a collective health voice may be helpful, please get in touch.
Alongside NEON, we have equipped a number of our members with Press Spokesperson training. We can also offer support to health workers who want to raise concerns and tell their stories in the media, or pitching them to journalists. Please get in touch with us – email@example.com
If you would like to write a blog to host on our website that would be of interest to Medact’s movement, please get in touch with a short pitch – firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have a campaign idea?
We recognise that health workers are the eyes and ears, at the frontline; and are working at capacity. If you’re a health worker who has an idea for a campaign you would like Medact to support or take leadership on, please get in touch. We can provide the platform and support you to build the movement on your campaign.
Other useful resources
- There will be times where we can all offer, and may all need local support. Check out this Mutual Aid Group list
- Coronavirus: Wisdom from a Social Justice Lens, from the Healing Justice Podcast
- Queer Care’s resources for support and care in response to coronavirus