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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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Legendary Manchester metal pub Grand Central is sadly closing down

Manchester’s alternative music scene has lost a real gem

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Grand Central / Facebook

The city’s staple metal music and gig venue, Grand Central, will be permanently closing its doors, it was announced today. 

The Oxford Street haunt confirmed rumours that it wouldn’t be reopening – at least not ‘the way it was’ – on Facebook this morning.

Alongside a photo of smiling staff members, the post read: “The stories are true, Grand Central won’t be reopening the way it was. All the now former staff want to thank Tom for everything he has done for us and for giving the alternative scene a home for the last 20+ years. 

Grand Central / Facebook

“I’m sure everyone has stories connected to the little pub, share them and don’t let the memory of the GRAND F***ING CENTRAL die.

“Thank you to everyone for the custom over the years, we will miss you.”

The venue’s manager Danny Daemon also wrote on Facebook: “The regulars made the place and you know who you are. You embraced me as the new manager and I couldn’t of asked for a better group of people.”

Explaining the reason for the shock closure, he explained: “I know all this is a shock to you all, but this had been in the works from before lockdown. Stonegate own some pretty cool places and whilst no, it won’t be GC as we know it, there’s still a chance they’ll embrace it as an alternative hot spot. They might even do food.”

Social media users were understandably devastated to hear the news, with one writing: “So sad. In my eyes Manchester has just lost a main part of its culture. I will never forget this place and everyone I have either served or had the pleasure to have a drink with.”

Another wrote: “We always had a friendly welcome and met some truly awesome and unique people in there. Really going to miss it. Where do we go from here?”

Grand Central opened over twenty years ago and became a firm favourite among rock, metal and alternative music fans. Several bands also played there over the years, with local metal band 4GEN7 saying it was ‘a second home for most of us at one point or another.’

According to a number of posts circulating on social media, the venue has been acquired by the Stonegate Pubs group, though plans for the site are yet to be confirmed.

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Marcus Rashford is the UK’s largest charitable donor having given away 125% of his net worth

He’s also the youngest charitable donor to top the Sunday Times Giving List

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@marcusrashford / Instagram

Startling new figures have shown that Marcus Rashford is the UK’s most generous charitable donor, having given away a massive 125% of his net worth to charity.

He is also the youngest person to ever top the Sunday Times Giving List, a system that ranks philanthropists by comparing the sums they’ve raised for charity against their net worth on the Sunday Times Rich List.

​​With a personal worth of £16million, Rashford managed to raise a staggering 125% of his net worth over the past year, ultimately helping charity FareShare distribute 4 million meals to disadvantaged children.

FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said the footballer’s commitment to tackling child hunger ‘has simply been incredible.’

She told Metro: “His own experience of relying on free school meals to eat brings authenticity and compassion to his campaigning, and his status as a Premier League footballer means people and politicians sit up and take notice.”

The Manchester United forward was first recognised for his charitability last year when he was able to change the course of the UK Government’s decision to provide free meals for underprivileged children during the summer school holidays.

Rashford, who received free school meals himself as a child, was made an MBE in the delayed 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

More recently, however, the footballer was forced to defend himself after it was suggested he had profited from his charitable efforts. 

He tweeted that The Spectator Magazine wanted to run the story as he defended his off-field partnerships with brands, asking his followers: “Why can’t we just do the right thing?”

He went on to explain: “Last summer, 1.3M children had access to food support, through my relationship with Burberry children have a safe place to be after school where they will be fed, following the November investment vulnerable children have safe places to go this summer holiday, and due to my relationship with Macmillan 80,000 children now have a book to call their own.”

This comes just over a week on from England’s Euros 2020 loss to Italy, which saw Rashford and other black players inundated with racist abuse. 

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Man with ‘worries’ about the jab told nurse ‘I wish I’d got vaccinated’ before dying of Covid

Glenn had his ‘worries and concerns’ about getting the Covid vaccine

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Dimitri Houtteman/unsplash

The family of an unvaccinated man who died of Covid have spoken out about his heartbreaking final moments. 

‘Gentle giant’ Glenn Barrett, from Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, passed away in hopsital after a three week-long battle with the virus, which he is believed to have contracted while watching an England Euro 2020 game at a local pub.

According to his family, Glenn had been with a group of friends at the pub watching England play Croatia on June 13th. It is understood that, following the match, around seven people tested positive for the virus.

His family have since spoken out and said the fifty-one-year old was unvaccinated because he had ‘his worries and reasons,’ Grimsby Live reported.

However, they said that before he was put into an induced coma, Glenn had a change of heart and told a nurse ‘he wished he had been vaccinated.’

Daniel Schludi/Unsplash

His cousin Ken Meech, who regarded Glenn as a ‘big brother,’ is now urging everyone to get vaccinated when they can.

He said: “If he had [been vaccinated], he would still be with us today.

“I’m not a doom monger or someone who’s telling you what you should do or not do. After all we are suppose to live in a free world.

“But this is one of the saddest times of my life, losing my cousin, Big Glenn Barrett to Covid.”

Describing Glenn as ‘brave,’ Ken explained that his cousin ‘fought until the end’ and, tragically, did have a change of heart regarding the vaccine.

He said: “Glenn had his worries and reasons for not having the jabs but he had no spleen and no immune system to help fight any infections but he did say to the nurses before going into an induced coma he wished he had.”

Mufid Majnun / Unsplash

At the time of writing, 82.4M doses of the Covid vaccine have been administered across the UK, meaning 54% of the population has had at least their first jab.

According to the NHS, all adults over the age of eighteen can now book their own vaccine without having to wait to be contacted by their local GP.

For more information on vaccines and where to get yours, visit the NHS website here.

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