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NHS England facing ‘worst staffing crisis in history’, MPs warn

NHS England is currently battling a staff shortage of over 60,000

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NHS England is posing a serious risk to patient safety as it faces the ‘worst staffing crisis in history’, a new report by MPs has warned.

The report, produced by the Commons health and social care select committee and obtained by the BBC, found that England is currently short of 12,000 hospital doctors and more than 50,000 nurses and midwives. 

If this staffing shortage isn’t rectified, plans to tackle the nationwide backlog of appointments and treatments caused by the Covid pandemic could be threatened, the report warned.

In response, the government said the workforce is growing and NHS England is drawing up long-term plans to recruit more staff.

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Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who chairs the Commons health and social care select committee, said tackling the shortage must be a ‘top priority’ for the new prime minister when they take over in September.

He said: “Persistent understaffing in the NHS poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety, a situation compounded by the absence of a long-term plan by the government to tackle it.”

In order to combat the ongoing shortages, almost a million new jobs will need to be filled in health and social care by the early part of the next decade.

Extra staff would also be needed to keep up with rising demand as the population gets older and healthcare becomes more complex and technologically advanced.

Additionally, the committee also heard evidence from former Health Secretary Sajid Javid that the government was not on track to deliver its manifesto commitment to increase the number of GPs in England by 6,000.

Concern for maternity services was also voiced, with the committee detailing how more than 500 midwives left the health service between March 2021 and March 2022.

And conditions were found to be ‘regrettably worse’ in the social care sector, with 95% of care providers struggling to hire staff and 75% finding it difficult to retain existing workers.

The report said: “Without the creation of meaningful professional development structures, and better contracts with improved pay and training, social care will remain a career of limited attraction, even when it is desperately needed.”

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In response, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said the number of people employed in healthcare was now growing and NHS England had been asked to develop a long-term plan to recruit and retain more staff.

He said: “As we continue to deliver on our commitment to recruit 50,000 more nurses by 2024, we are also running a £95m recruitment drive for maternity services and providing £500m to develop our valued social care workforce.”

This comes amid strike tensions across the NHS’s workforce, as the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Nursing consider taking action over inadequate pay.

The general secretary of Unison, the biggest union representing NHS staff, said: “The government has a simple choice; either it makes a sensible pay award, investing in staff and services and reducing delays for patients… Or it risks a potential dispute, growing workforce shortages and increased suffering for the sick.”

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Police restart search for Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett as skull found

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The search for murder victim Keith Bennet has resumed as ‘potential human remains’ were found on moorland, police have confirmed.

The remains were found during an independent search on Saddleworth Moor by author Russell Edwards, who reported his discovery to Greater Manchester Police.

Detectives are said to be analysing a small sample of the remains and some clothing, the MailOnline reports.

Twelve year old Bennett was one of the five children tortured and killed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in the 1960s. His body has never been recovered.

GMP said in a statement: “We have always said that GMP would act on any significant information which may lead to the recovery of Keith and reunite him with his family.

“Officers met with Mr. Edwards yesterday evening (September 29th), and he was able to locate a site of interest and provide us with further details of the work he has been carrying out.

“We are at the very early stages of assessing the evidence which he brought to our attention, but have taken the decision to excavate an area of land with a view to determining what lies there.

“It is far too early to be certain whether human remains have been uncovered, but out of respect for Alan Bennett, who we regularly maintain contact with, we have informed him of this potential development.

“Alan does not wish to be disturbed at this time and we would ask that his request for privacy is respected.”

Bennett was lured into a van by Hindley on June 16th, 1964. He was then taken to Saddleworth Moor, where he was sexually abused and murdered by Brady. 

Despite his heartbroken mother’s pleas, neither Brady nor Hindley ever revealed where they had buried his body. 

Winnie Johnson continued visiting Saddleworth Moor to search for her son until her death in 2012. 

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Cause of Queen Elizabeth’s death revealed

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Queen Elizabeth’s exact cause of death has been revealed as an extract of her death certificate is released to the public.

The Registrar General for Scotland, Paul Lowe, confirmed that Her Majesty The Queen’s death was registered in Aberdeenshire on September 16th, and that the cause of her death was old age.

The document, released by National Records of Scotland, notes the Queen died at 3.10pm on Thursday September 8th. 

The Queen’s only daughter Princess Anne is named as the ‘informant’ on the document, and would have notified the local registrar of her mother’s death.

Anne, who accompanied her mother’s coffin as it travelled from Balmoral to London via Edinburgh, was with the head of state in her last moments.

She said: “I was fortunate to share the last twenty-four hours of my dearest mother’s life.”

Queen Elizabeth was laid to rest on September 19th following a historic seventy-year reign on the throne. 

Her Majesty spent four days lying-in-state at Westminster Hall ahead of the state funeral, where around 250,000 Royal well-wishers came to pay their respects and say a final goodbye.

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Royal Mail to strike for 19 days with Black Friday and Christmas deliveries affected

Strike action will take place across October and November

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Black Friday and Christmas deliveries face delays as Royal Mail workers prepare to strike across the next two months.

The Communication Workers Union announced that action in October and November will be a mixture of ‘single days and rolling action’ across Royal Mail Group’s network.

This includes walkouts from 4am on October 13th for twenty-four hours, and then again on October 20th and 25th, as well as November 28th. 

The union said the strike action will have a ‘dramatic impact’ on deliveries, and will cover peak mail periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas build-up.

It could also impact Amazon’s second Prime Day, with sale dates for subscribers on October 11th and 12th.

The CWU says the strike action comes following an ‘outrageous’ decision made by the Royal Mail Group’s senior management to withdraw from major national agreements, push ahead with cuts to workers’ terms and conditions and ‘completely sideline’ the union.

General secretary Dave Ward said: “This is a significant announcement, but it is one which matches the level of anger our members feel at the way Royal Mail Group has treated them.

“The chief executive of Royal Mail Group is treating postal workers as if they are stupid. These are the same people that have kept the country connected and returned Royal Mail Group to record profit.

Postal workers across the UK now face the fight of their lives to save their jobs and the service they provide to every household and business in the UK.”

Ward went on to urge everyone to ‘stand with their local postal worker’, adding: “If Royal Mail Group are allowed to get away with this then it sends a green light to every rogue big business in the UK.

“We will not stand by and see the Royal Mail Group become the next P&O but we need your backing to win.”

However, the Royal Mail says changes are needed as it is currently losing £1million a day. A spokesperson said: “On September 22nd, Royal Mail invited CWU to enter into talks through Acas to find a resolution to our dispute on change and pay.

“This evening, rather than responding to our offer of Acas talks, the CWU announced further damaging industrial action, once again taking the path of prolonging disruption over resolution.

“Royal Mail is losing £1 million a day and must change faster in response to changing customer demands. We operate in a competitive market, and our customers have choices… Further strikes and resistance to transformation by CWU will only make our financial position worse, and threatens the long-term job security of our postmen and women.

“The CWU has a responsibility to recognise the reality of the situation Royal Mail faces as a business and engage urgently on the changes required.

“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”

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