NHS

Problems in the National Health Service dominate today’s news. The Telegraph reports that managers are trying to minimise the problems.

NHS hospitals have been accused of trying to “spin their way out” of the growing winter crisis after a leaked memo revealed that managers are being instructed to play down the scale of the problem.
Yesterday figures showed that record numbers of patients in ambulances are being turned away from Accident and Emergency units because hospitals are so busy.
But the Daily Telegraph has seen an NHS memo telling health officials that the “most important thing” is to avoid language such as “black alert” – the phrase used to denote the most serious level of emergency.

The Mail reports on a long wait on a hospital trolly.

An elderly woman died after spending 35 hours waiting on a trolley in A&E, in a tragedy which exposes the depth of the NHS crisis.
She was taken to Worcestershire Royal Hospital earlier this week, but could not be placed on a ward due to a shortage of beds.
The patient, who has not been named, deteriorated and suffered a cardiac arrest. She died in an undignified hospital cubicle with curtains pulled around the outside.
A second patient at the same hospital, who was made to stay in a waiting room, died after suffering an aneurysm. Derek Goodburn, 73, was rushed to resuscitation but could not be saved.

And the Times claims trusts are bending the rules on response times.

Ambulance trusts have been accused of routinely manipulating 999 response times by using a loophole to claim that they reached life-threatening emergencies in less than ten seconds.
Ten of the country’s 11 trusts have taken advantage of NHS rules allowing them to log ambulance response times as near-zero if there was a defibrillator within 200 metres of a patient, and someone nearby was trained to use it.
The rule applied even if the device was not used or unsuitable for the patient’s condition. Thousands of defibrillators are installed in railway stations, shopping centres and leisure centres across England.
To meet national targets, trusts must show that ambulances have reached 75 per cent of patients with life-threatening conditions within eight minutes.

The Mail has discovered that a patient died over the New Year.

A patient died during a computer meltdown at an ambulance control centre in the early hours of New Year’s Day, it emerged last night.
Response times were delayed in London as staff were forced to record calls by pen for nearly five hours during one of the busiest periods of the year.
Last night officials at London Ambulance Service admitted they had launched an investigation into the death of one patient to determine whether the computer crash had been a factor.
The computer dispatch system, which logs emergencies and allocates ambulances, failed just after midnight. For five hours, operators had to process calls with pen and paper and use radios to assign response units.

The Independent has also tracked down patient deaths.

Two patients have died in the same accident and emergency department in the last week, it has been revealed, as latest figures show the NHS coming under increasing pressure.
Both deaths happened at Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s A&E department in Worcester.
It is understood in one of the cases a female patient on an emergency trolley on a corridor within A&E suffered an aneurysm and later died in a resuscitation bay.
Another patient died after suffering a cardiac arrest on another trolley within the department after waiting 35 hours for a ward bed elsewhere in the hospital.
News of the deaths came as it emerged that overflowing A&E departments shut their doors to patients more than 140 times in December.

And ITV News claims the service has been forced to bring in the Red Cross.

The Red Cross has warned of a “humanitarian crisis” as it stepped in to help the NHS in England cope with pressure on its service this winter.
The warning came as it emerged two patients died in the same A&E department in the last week during “extremely busy” periods.
Figures show the NHS is coming under increased pressure, with overflowing A&Es shutting their doors to patients more than 140 times in December.
A third of the
health trusts in England said that urgent action was needed to help them cope, according to the Nuffield Trust.
Meanwhile,
London Ambulance Service suffered a computer blackout on New Year’s Eve that forced call handlers to revert to pen and paper on the busiest night of the year.

The Mirror has a similar story.

The British Red Cross has been drafted in to help the NHS, the charity said today as damning figures show overloaded A&Es have shut their doors 42 times in one week.
The emergency response charity, which works with the NHS in periods of high demand and went into several hospitals in 2015, branded the situation a “humanitarian crisis” which it blamed partly on the black hole in social care funding.
Red Cross staff and volunteers helped matrons at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital from January 1 until today, arranging transport for patients and settling them back into their homes.
They are in talks with “a number of other hospitals” about similar activity, a spokesman said.
The charity was also called in on New Year’s Day to support the East Midlands Ambulance Service, including in Nottingham, Leicester and Northampton.

The Morning Star has also picked up the story.

PATIENTS are dying in corridors as a crisis engulfing the NHS has pushed overflowing A&E departments to shut their doors to urgent cases, it was revealed yesterday.
Two deaths at Worcester Royal Hospital A&E last week highlighted the life threatening pressures being faced by the NHS as rising demand and funding cuts impact health and social care.
A woman died in a resuscitation bay after she had suffered an aneurysm and waited on an emergency trolley in an A&E corridor.
A second patient died from a heart attack while on a trolley for more than 35 hours waiting to be transferred to a ward.
The Worcestershire acute trust was placed in special measures in December 2015 when the Care Quality Commission raised concerns.

Strikes

The other main story in today’s media is the growing disruption of strikes. The Times reports on flight problems.

Up to 48 British Airways flights will be cancelled next week when cabin crew strike over claims of “poverty” pay.
The carrier said that 24 flights a day from Heathrow — or 12 round trips — were likely to be grounded during the two-day walkout.
BA insisted that passengers on the affected flights would be rebooked on to departures travelling earlier or later in the day. It will mainly affect flights to Europe, though some long-haul flights will be grounded.
The airline said that flights from other airports, including Gatwick, Stansted and London City, would not be affected.
More than 2,500 cabin crew represented by Unite are striking on Tuesday and Wednesday over pay.

The Morning Star also covers the airlines.

BRITISH AIRWAYS will “merge” flights during a 48-hour strike of cabin crew, bosses said yesterday.
The flag-carrier said some passengers are being told to fly earlier or later in the day. Stewards in BA’s “mixed fleet” are striking next Tuesday and Wednesday over pay.
Unite, which represents the workers, said they were paid significantly less than other BA stewards and those at other companies.
Cabin crew who have joined BA since 2010 have been obliged to work in the mixed fleet. Previously staff were put into separate short-haul and long-haul divisions.
Basic pay in the mixed fleet is £12,192 plus £3 an hour during flights, which Unite said landed workers £16,000 a year. The union said this had forced staff to take second jobs and sleep in their cars because they could not afford to drive home.

The Times concentrates on strikes on the tube.

Commuters in the southeast are facing a week of transport misery with strikes confirmed on suburban rail routes and threatened for the London Underground.
Millions of workers and tourists travelling into central London are likely to be affected every day next week.
On Monday every central London Tube station could well be shut in a protest over job losses and the closure of ticket offices. Talks aimed at averting the strike will be held today. If it goes ahead, it will affect up to two million people who use the Underground every day.
Twenty-four hours later travellers face a complete closure of Southern Rail because of a drivers’ strike called by Aslef over long-running safety concerns.

But it appears that the Transport Secretary wants to ban strikes, says the Mirror.

Tory hard-liner Chris Grayling has revealed he wants the power to force workers not to go on strike.
The right-wing Transport Secretary’s unprecedented statement appears to go far beyond anything used by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
Bungling Mr Grayling has repeatedly threatened railworkers’ unions over their ongoing dispute with hated private rail firm Southern.
Tory ministers also passed new laws last year restricting the right to take industrial action.
Today he said: “Ultimately I don’t have the power to force unions to stop striking. I wish I did – but I don’t.”
Pundit James Bloodworth accused him of “casually wishing for a slave economy”.

The Telegraph calls for tolerance from employers in the face of the strikes.

Commuters caught up in the worst rail strikes for a generation next week should be treated with “patience and understanding” by their employers, the Transport Secretary has said.
Millions of people will be left struggling to get to work this week as strikes cripple railway services in the South East and the London Underground.
The strikes represent the worst industrial action on the railways for more than 20 years, with Southern Rail urging passengers to stay home rather than try to travel to work.
British Airways passengers are also facing the prospect of disruption as cabin crew go on strike on Tuesday and Wednesday. Heathrow is likely to be worst affected, with up to 48 flights grounded because of the action.

EU

A study will look into whether the bloc deserves to continue in its present state, says the Express.

A GROUND-BREAKING research programme will probe whether the European Union still has any “legitimacy” in the modern age amid accusations the body is undemocratic and corrupt.
Academics from across Europe will take part in the massive project, designed to assess whether the EU “meets its own standards” in terms of representing ordinary citizens.
Experts from Cambridge University are part of the revolutionary PLATO initiative, which will explore the twin phenomenons of technocratic Government and rising populism.
Technocracy is best exemplified currently by the European Commission, where unelected bureaucrats take political decisions affecting the lives of hundreds of millions of people with questionable levels of oversight.
The mode of Government, which has been the way of doing things in Brussels for decades, is facing increasingly stiff resistance from populist leaders like France’s Marine Le Pen and Italy’s Beppe Grillo, who believe elected politicians should call the shots.

Scotland

Scottish First Minister is still trying to wreck the UK’s hopes of leaving the EU, says the Guardian.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she would take a quick Scottish independence referendum off the table if the UK wins a favourable, soft Brexit deal with the EU.
In an apparent retreat from her claims last year that a fast second referendum was now “highly likely”, the first minister said her emphasis now was on securing a good deal for the Scottish parliament and open access to the single market.
“I’m putting these options forward in good faith,” Sturgeon told BBC Radio Scotland. “I’m deliberately saying put my preferred option [of Scottish independence in the EU] to one side and asking people if we can find a consensus and compromise option.”
The first minister was asked whether she was now saying that a soft Brexit deal meant a quick second independence referendum was no longer “highly likely” – the phrase she used immediately after June’s Brexit vote showed that Scotland wanted to remain in the EU. Sturgeon implied the answer was yes.

Labour

It seems the leadership of the Labour Party is still in turmoil, says the Mirror.

Labour chiefs are quietly urging voters to ignore Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-nuclear views in a crunch by-election.
The Labour leader, a veteran anti-nukes campaigner, faces his biggest electoral test when voters go to the polls in Copeland, Cumbria.
The constituency is home to the Sellafield nuclear plant and next-door to Barrow-in-Furness, home to the shipyard building the Navy’s new Trident nuclear submarines.
Labour is defending a slim 2,564 majority in the vote triggered by the resignation of MP Jamie Reed.
The Tories are favourites to win.
Senior Labour figures fear the Conservatives will highlight Mr Corbyn’s lifelong opposition to nuclear power and weapons.

UKIP

And the Guardian reports that our party could well continue being funded by its most generous doner.

Arron Banks is “more than likely” to continue funding Ukip, the party’s new leader, Paul Nuttall, has said.
Banks, the insurance millionaire who spent £7.5m backing Nigel Farage’s leave campaign and contributed more than £1m to Ukip before the last election, said last month he was undecided about whether to continue funding the party under Nuttall’s leadership.
He had backed Raheem Kassam in the leadership contest and has voiced dissatisfaction with some of Nuttall’s picks for prominent roles.
“I’ve had a number of conversations with Arron, they’ve gone really well, and we’ll see in the future,” Nuttall told Nick Ferrari’s LBC radio show. Asked whether he believed Banks would continue donating to the party, Ukip’s leader responded: “I would say more than likely, yes.”
Nuttall, who was elected leader in November on a promise to target former Labour voters, defended his leadership. “Since I’ve taken over as leader, we’ve finished second in a byelection, we’ve gone up in the opinion polls and our membership has gone up for the first time in a year, so not a bad start,” he said.

Brexit

The prospects for our country after we have finally left the EU are excellent, says the Express.

DOOM and gloom peddled by Remoaner economists has been blown away in stunning style by an IMF expert who predicted Britain will boom after leaving the EU.
European economics guru Ashoka Mody said the UK is destined for a richer and fairer future after unshackling itself from the “depressing decay” of the failing Brussels project.
And he emphatically swatted aside europhile claims the economy has not felt the impact of Brexit because it has not happened yet, pointing out that companies have already factored in that the country is leaving the EU.
Professor Mody, an academic at the world-renowned Princeton University and the former deputy director of the IMF’s European arm, said that even as an optimist he has been surprised by how Britain has boomed since June 23.

And a comment piece in the Sun suggests a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ is the only way out.

EVERY day the EU looks less willing or able to strike any deal with Britain. We should prepare for it . . . but with our economy as strong as it is we should not fear it.
A “hard Brexit”, falling back on the rules of the World Trade Organisation, has always been seen as our worst
possible result.
Remainers predict it will trigger an economic doomsday. But then they also cried wolf about the immediate impact of the referendum result itself.
In reality businesses and consumers shrugged that off. Britain ended 2016 as the world’s strongest economy and the forecasts were worthless — as the Bank of England now admits.
Many people still carp that Theresa May has no exit strategy. It seems pretty clear to us: Full control of our borders and laws, maximum access to the single market without being a member and a probable exit from the customs union to let us strike trade deals outside the EU.
But the Prime Minister alone cannot make that happen. And Brussels is in no mood to help her.
The EU gives no indication of wanting a mutually beneficial deal. It is incompetent, unwieldy, falling apart and bloody-minded enough to want to punish Britain to shore up its position.

The Express claims the Prime Minister is facing pressure from her own MPs for a swift exit.

A GROUP of Tory MPs have put pressure on Theresa May to confirm her pursuit of a clean break from the EU when she unveils her Brexit plans later this month.
The Prime Minister has promised to reveal her EU departure strategy in a major speech focussing on the economy and immigration, expected to be delivered within the next three weeks.
In her “significant” address, Mrs May is said to be preparing to warn Brussels the UK will quit the EU Single Market – a so-called hard Brexit – unless Britain is allowed full immigration controls.
But, ahead of the Prime Minister’s speech, a group of Conservatives have called on Mrs May to make it “clear” Britain will seek to benefit from the “practically unlimited opportunities” on offer from leaving the Single Market as well as the EU’s Customs Union.

Iceberg

As usual, the Star has an apocalyptic story, this time about an iceberg.

A DISTURBING crack has appeared in the ice in Antarctica – sparking fears a huge iceberg is set to break off.
Scientists believe the 3,000 square mile area, a quarter of the size of Wales, may lead to a four-inch rise in sea levels.
It may not seem like a lot but between 1993 and 2014 the sea level rose by just 2.6 inches.
The large crack in western Antarctica suddenly grew last month.
Boffins have described it as “hanging on by a thread” and the huge iceberg, which is over 1,000ft deep, will break off at any time.
UK-based Arctic research group, Project Midas, believes if this part breaks off the whole ice shelf could then collapse.
This comes as a scientist claimed Britain could be hit by a tsunami at any time.

But this time, ITV News also carries the story.

One of the largest icebergs in history is set to be created when a vast expansion of ice breaks away from Antarctica.
The rapid growth of a rift in December has left only 20km of ice preventing the 5,000 sq km iceberg from floating clear in early 2017.
The iceberg will be almost four times the size of Cornwall (1,349 sq km) and nearly as big as Yorkshire (6,066 sq km).

Asteroid

And the Sun reports on plans to divert an asteroid to avoid the end of the world.

US government officials have drawn up an emergency plan designed to avert the risk of asteroid apocalypse.
The White House has published its National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and it makes for grim reading.
With the threat of an asteroid collision quite literally looming above our heads, the US plans to sharpen up its emergency alert systems and invest in hi-tech space probes that could annihilate threats.
First it hopes to improve its detection technology, so scientists can alert national defence experts about potentially dangerous “near-Earth objects”, or NEOs for short.
It will also need to build artificially intelligent space probes packed with sensors and lasers.

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