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A UK healthcare worker’s life is worth TWO jobs at Victoria Beckham's fashion house

Chris Sweeney
Chris Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

A UK healthcare worker’s life is worth TWO jobs at Victoria Beckham's fashion house
The British government’s promised £60,000 paycheck to any healthcare worker who dies from Covid-19 may seem like a fair tribute – until you compare it to how much taxpayer money goes to pay billionaires’ furloughed staff.

The British government has put a price on your mother, father, son or daughter's life. They are worth £60,000.

That's FIVE times less than what the prime minister's car, a Jaguar XJ Sentinel, costs. But it would allow the bereaved families to rent the Caribbean villa where Boris Johnson spent New Year for FOUR weeks.

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Those facts seemed lost on Health Secretary Matt Hancock as he announced the government's vow to hand over a cheque for any NHS or social care worker who dies from Covid-19. Of course, it has to be contracted in the course of “essential frontline work” – if they catch it elsewhere their entitlement is zilch. According to that metric, 82 NHS staff and 16 social care workers qualify so far.

Most of the media have done what they usually do for this government and clapped away like seals. The Daily Express even ran the headline ‘Fitting Tribute... £60k for Families of Care Heroes’.

My definition of a fitting tribute is worlds apart.

We shouldn't even be talking about tributes as no one should be dying from contracting Covid-19 at work. That's because they should all be equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) – the government knew a stockpile was required in the face of a pandemic like this since 2009, but they failed to buy a single visor or hospital gown in advance of all of this.

We have healthcare staff wearing swimming goggles, wrapping themselves in bin liners and strapping on used, dirty masks donated by generous construction workers. It's outrageous.

Matt Hancock and the rest of Boris’ bunch have relished in telling us that one billion pieces of PPE have been delivered. And indeed they have, but did we know that almost 50 percent of that is surgical gloves? And here’s the kicker: each individual glove was classified as a single piece of PPE.

Other items also counted are paper towels, waste bags and cleaning equipment.

Even vast amounts of PPE stored in boxes have been doctored with new expiry date stickers placed over the original dates, which are now long past. Would you eat a hamburger that had a DIY out of date post-it covering up the true expiry date, never mind use life-saving equipment like that?

I witnessed a senior paramedic about to enter a large hospital in London struggle to put on a flimsy, plastic apron that would have struggled to offer him protection against a bowl of tomato soup, never mind Covid-19. Still if he does die, his family gets £60,000.

That sum is even more stomach-turning when compared to the furlough scheme, where the government has offered to pay the salaries for staff of companies who feel they “cannot maintain their current workforce.”

Out of taxpayers’ funds, each employee receives up to £2,500 per month.

Extrapolated annually, that means the life of a frontline healthcare worker is worth two jobs.

That sounds pretty stone cold, as does any attempt to put a monetary value on human life.But it becomes heartbreaking when you look at the rogue's gallery of who has opted to take advantage of the furlough scheme.

One of the world's worst singers turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham is using it for her 30 staff. Meanwhile, her and husband David have a fortune of an estimated £335 million.

That's small beer compared to Mike Ashley, who has around £2.4 billion and owns Newcastle United football club – along with his preferred mode of transport, a £5 million helicopter.

The clubs's cumulative profits between 2010 and 2019 were £79 million.

The Scottish football champions Celtic are no different, they have made sure to get their hands on the “free” money despite their accounts from February showing they had £32.9 million cash in the bank. Very ironic for a club started in 1888 by a priest to raise money for poverty-stricken immigrants. Their majority shareholder Dermot Desmond is also worth £1.8 billion.

Of course, neither club has furloughed any of their glamorous players – it's only the common folk who you don't see on TV.

Also using the Bank of England's credit card instead of their own copious funds are David and Simon Reuben who've got 750 staff on furlough, while they protect their £18.6 billion fortune.

Sir Philip Green is another using it while he floats around in Monaco on his £115 million super yacht Lionheart and clothing tycoon John Hargreaves has kept his £600 million wealth ring-fenced, while everyone else pays staff at his clothing chain Matalan, which is still trading online.

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If these money-hungry wolves were to swap legality for morality and cover staff costs which they clearly can, then two things would be possible.

One, we'd have more cash to splash on PPE and save lives.

Two, the lives we do lose could be offset with a far more generous sum.

Past and continued failings across the board regarding the duty of care for our healthcare workers falls squarely on our government and MPs (whose basic annual salary is £81,932). They ignored warnings, failed to organise and have lied through their teeth. Our tycoons have exploited the situation to make the gap between the haves and have-nots even wider.

The message is clear and simple: you never mattered. Once we get your death certificate, we'll wire over the cash.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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