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Doctors urge Boris Johnson to cancel relaxed Christmas restrictions to protect NHS

‘They can no longer claim to be protecting the NHS’

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A joint editorial post from the British Medical Journal and Health Service Journal has called for the PM to ditch the household mixing planned for over Christmas.

The two medical journals have come together on a rare joint editorial which calls for prime minister Boris Johnson to scrap plans that allow household mixing over Christmas in order to protect the NHS.

The first joint editorial in 100 years, the British Medical Journal and Health Service Journal have called for the prime minister to change tactics due to the rising cases in England.

The BMJ is published by the doctors’ union, British Medical Association, and the HSJ is read by NHS staff, managers and professionals.

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It warns that hospital bed capacity risks being overwhelmed due to the Christmas relaxation of rules, calling on the government to ‘reverse its rash decision to allow household mixing […] in order to bring numbers down in the advance of a likely third wave’.

Crucially, the journals point out that a third peak in Covid-19 will hit non-Covid treatments the hardest. They warn that it could ‘wipe out’ almost all the reductions in wait times that have been achieved in the past 20 years.

They added: “This joint editorial is only the second in the more than 100-year histories of The BMJ and HSJ.

“We are publishing it because we believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives. If our political leaders fail to take swift and decisive action, they can no longer claim to be protecting the NHS.”

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The prime minister confirmed a controversial five-day period of relaxed rules which will allow three different households to mix from December 23rd to December 28th, including overnight stays. 

London and other parts of the South East are now being moved to the highest tier from December 16th, and the falling cases of Covid elsewhere are beginning to flatten, causing the plan to come under scrutiny. 

Based on current projections, the joint editorial warns that hospitals in England could have ‘just short of 19,000 Covid patients on New Year’s Eve’, the same as the peak of the virus in April.

Stating that: “This figure, derived by extrapolating a straight line from December 5 to December 14 through to December 31, would be almost the same as the 18,974 peaks of the first wave on April 12.”

The journal also added scathing reviews of the government’s Test and Trace service, explaining: “‘NHS Track and Trace’, which has almost nothing to do with the NHS, continues to squander money on failure. So too does the mass testing of asymptomatic people using lateral flow tests that are not fit for purpose.”

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The joint editorial advises that rather than lifting restrictions, the UK should follow the cautious examples of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

It goes onto explain that should a third resurgence of the wave be similar magnitude to the second the health service should manage. However, they add that this will only be the case if the resurgence starts at a similar caseload of Covid-19 inpatients as was in the beginning of the second resurgence, which was around 450.

They say that as the current restrictions continue to fail to control the virus, this figure will be more than 40 times higher. Adding to that is the additional demands of winter on the NHS.

In the past two weeks, despite much of the country in the highest form of restrictions – Tier 2 and  3 – the number of Covid inpatients has begun to rise again. This is despite the decline following the second lockdown on November 5th.

By December 5th, there were 12,968 inpatients, if the rate of decline had continued there would be 11,000 on December 31st. However, by December 14th – the latest data available – Covid bed occupancy is back to 15,053.

The journal concludes that unless something changes to this trajectory, England will have just short of 19,000 Covid patients on New Year’s Eve. 

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The impact of this will be felt most prominently by non-Covid patients as in order to manage a large influx of patients, staff and resources will have to be diverted from non-Covid patients. 

The journal highlights how much the NHS is currently overstretched, delivering the largest vaccination programme in its 72-year history as well as seasonal outbreaks of norovirus and increased admissions of frail older people. This is all during a time where staff absence is also at its peak. 

A particular concern is the impact this will have on staff, who have already worked through the hardest nine months of their professional lives. The journal explains that levels of burnout and sickness absence are likely to exceed those already experienced.

The journal concludes that the public should ‘mitigate the impact of the third wave by being as careful as possible over the next few months’. Adding that the government was too slow to introduce restrictions in spring and again in autumn. 

They explain that the government should review its ‘rash’ decision to allow household mixing and instead extend the tiers over the five-day Christmas period. They should also review the tier structure.

It concludes: “This joint editorial is only the second in the more than 100-year histories of the BMJ and HSJ. We are publishing it because we believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives. If our political leaders fail to take swift and decisive action, they can no longer claim to be ‘protecting the NHS'”, and is signed Alastair McLellan, Editor, HSJ and Fiona Godlee, Editor in Chief, The BMJ. 

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Stagecoach hiring over 100 new bus drivers for Bee Network with £31k salaries

Fancy a career change?

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Stagecoach Manchester is hiring over 100 new bus drivers to work from its Oldham depot, following the second phase of the Bee Network launch in March.

You can apply for a range of roles, from positions with no experience required to fully qualified bus drivers.

Successful applicants will receive full training as part of the job, and trainees will get paid to train. Then after only 12 months’ service at Stagecoach, drivers can expect to earn up to £16 per hour, which equates to £31.6K per year, before overtime.

As well as that, drivers that already hold a PCV licence may be eligible to receive a £1,200 joining bonus.

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There’s also a host of other benefits available to all Stagecoach employees, like 28 days paid holiday, generous pension and free Stagecoach bus travel for successful applicants and a companion.

Rob Jones, Managing Director at Stagecoach Manchester said: “Expanding our offering in Oldham means we’ll be investing more in the economy and supporting our local community, as well as strengthening our workforce.

“Whether you’re looking for a career change or you’re a fully qualified, experienced bus driver, there’s a role for everyone here in Oldham.

“We’re looking for personable and dedicated drivers who are ready to help us build on the success of the Bee Network and connect the people of Oldham and Greater Manchester with the places and people that are important to them.”

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Phil Cornwall, bus driver at Stagecoach Manchester, said: “I’ve been a driver at Stagecoach for 25 years and I couldn’t recommend it more.

“From the perks to the people to the passengers, it really is a great place to work.”

To apply, head to the Stagecoach website HERE.

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Two men charged with murder after torso discovered in Salford nature reserve

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Greater Manchester Police

Two men have now been charged with murder, following the discovery of a human torso in Kersal Dale.

As well as that, more suspected human remains were also discovered this morning, Monday April 29th, in an alleyway close to the railway lines off Worsley Road, Eccles.

This follows earlier discoveries of human remains over the past three weeks, at Kersal Dale, Blackleach Reservoir and Colliery Wood, all in Salford.

Greater Manchester Police


Michal Jaroslaw Polchowski (25/04/1956) and Marcin Majerkiewicz (10/04/1982) both of Worsley Road, Eccles, have been charged with murder.

They are set to appear at Tameside Magistrates Court this afternoon.

While formal identification is still ongoing, the remains found at Kersal Dale are believed to be of a local man in his 60s. The remains found at the other three locations are still to be tested, but police are confident they belong to the same victim.

ACC Sarah Jackson said: “We have had large numbers of officers, staff and specialists working diligently on this investigation over the last three weeks. It has been very much a large, collective effort, with the victim and family at the heart of it from the outset.

“We have specially trained officers deployed to support the family as they come to terms with this tragic news. They are aware of this morning’s further discovery and will continue to be kept up to date with how we are progressing.

“Despite the charges brought today, our work is far from over.

“The scenes we already have established in Bury and Salford will remain in place for much of this week whilst our searches and enquiries continue. Local officers will continue to patrol the impacted areas to provide reassurance.

“We will continue following every line of enquiry to recover and reunite the victim with his family, bringing a dignified end to this terrible scenario.

“I’d like to thank the communities of Salford and beyond for their cooperation throughout this investigation. I know this incident has come as a shock, and the support we’ve had from those in the area is very much appreciated.”

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More human remains discovered in Greater Manchester as police identify victim

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Detectives investigating the discovery of a torso in Kersal Dale have found more human remains around Greater Manchester.

GMP released a statement on the weekend, revealing they had opened four scenes for extensive searches – one of them at a warehouse in Bury, and three in Salford.

Searches took place at Blackleach reservoir, where human remains were found, and a dog walker found a package containing human remains at Colliery Wood.

Officers believe they have now identified the man, who they believe to be a man in his 60s that lived in Salford, and his family have been informed.

Two suspects have already been arrested in connection with the murder probe, with officers saying they are thought to have lived with the victim.

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Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes, Senior Investigating Officer for this investigation, said in a statement at Blackleach reservoir yesterday, Sunday April 28th: “We have continued to make significant progress in our investigation into human remains being found in Kersal earlier this month.

“From day one, our priority has been to identify the man and his family so that we can give them the support and the answers that they need.

“Thanks to meticulous forensic work, we are now confident we have identified the man. Formal identification hasn’t yet taken place, but we believe he is a man in his 60s and lived in Salford.

“Specially-trained family liaison officers have met with his family this afternoon to give them the devastating news, and we will do all that we can to support them at this awful time.

“We believe he is known to the two suspects we have in custody. They have remained in custody for questioning over the weekend, as we work to establish how the victim met this tragic outcome.”

He continued: “We have painstakingly worked to follow up every line of inquiry in this investigation. Over the last couple of days, we have acted on information and had four scenes in place for extensive searches – one of them is at a warehouse in Bury, and three of them are in Salford, including here at Blackleach reservoir.

“Today, we have found some human remains at the reservoir here, and last night a dog walker found a package containing human remains at Colliery Wood. Forensic tests will continue to establish whose remains these are, but we are very confident that this is also the victim in our investigation.

“We have also been searching a house in Winton where we believe the victim and the two suspects lived. We have found evidence that the victim is likely to have died there – most likely in late March.

“While this is significant progress, we know there is still some way to go to complete this investigation. I also recognise details of this case will have been distressing for the people of Salford and beyond – including the officers that are diligently working on this investigation, and most importantly the man’s heartbroken family.

“Local officers will continue to patrol the affected areas, and we will provide updates when we have more information.”

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