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Preview: Latest news from the public and voluntary sectors, including health, children, local government and social care, plus SocietyGua

Society | The Guardian

Latest Society news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Tue, 24 Apr 2018 09:02:46 GMT2018-04-24T09:02:46Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2018

People with 'nowhere else to turn' fuel rise in food bank use – study

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 23:01:03 GMT2018-04-23T23:01:03Z

Trussell Trust says it gave out a record 1.3m food parcels last year, up 13% on 2016-17

Vulnerable people left with “nowhere else to turn” after experiencing problems with universal credit helped fuel a big increase in food bank use over the past year, according to the Trussell Trust.

The UK’s biggest food bank network, whose annual figures provide a broad index of social hardship, gave out a record 1.3m food parcels to an estimated 666,000 people in 2017-18, up 13% on the previous year.

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Emma Revie: Why food banks must never become the norm

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 05:00:12 GMT2018-04-24T05:00:12Z

The new Trussell Trust chief executive on the food bank charity’s alarming ‘success’, and partnering with Asda

The Trussell Trust is arguably one of the charity “success” stories of the austerity years. Against a backdrop of escalating poverty, an obscure outfit giving out bags of food to a handful of hungry people in Wiltshire has grown, in less than a decade, into a highly visible campaigning voice overseeing a national network of more than 1,200 food bank outlets, staffed, largely, by thousands of volunteers, giving out more than a million food parcels each year. Its rapid rise is both impressive and alarming, and Trussell itself realises it has reached a watershed moment: at what point does endless growth represent mission failure for an anti‑poverty charity?

Related: People with 'nowhere else to turn' fuel rise in food bank use – study

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NHS England faces first legal challenge to plans for health shake-up

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 19:06:10 GMT2018-04-23T19:06:10Z

Judicial review on Tuesday one of two examining legality of accountable care organisations

NHS England faces a legal challenge to its plans to overhaul how the health service operates, which critics say are unlawful and could lead to patients being denied treatment.

Campaigners on Tuesday will try to derail plans to introduce of “ accountable care organisations” (ACOs), which they say could force doctors to decide what care a patient needs based on how much money is available rather than how sick someone is.

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At least 78 homeless people died in UK over winter, figures reveal

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:00:04 GMT2018-04-23T15:00:04Z

Bureau of Investigative Journalism research reveals high number of deaths on streets and in shelters

At least 78 homeless people died on the streets and in temporary accommodation this winter, bringing the number of recorded homeless deaths to more than 300 since 2013, research has shown.

A former soldier, a quantum physicist and a 31-year-old man mourning the loss of his mother and brother were among those found dead in doorways, crowded shelters and tents pitched in freezing conditions since October last year.

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Loneliness linked to major life setbacks for millennials, study says

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 23:01:04 GMT2018-04-23T23:01:04Z

Lonely millennials found to be more likely to have mental health problems and be out of work

Lonely millennials are more likely to have mental health problems, be out of work and feel pessimistic about their ability to succeed in life than their peers who feel connected to others, regardless of gender or wealth, research has revealed.

Loneliness should be taken seriously as a potential marker for other problems, the team behind the study say, though it is not clear whether loneliness is behind the other problems or instead caused by them.

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Abortion clinic buffer zones being considered by more councils

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:34:15 GMT2018-04-23T13:34:15Z

At least eight local authorities in England are examining whether to follow Ealing’s lead

Eight councils in England are considering setting up abortion clinic buffer zones after pro-choice groups said the number of “intimidating” protests was on the rise.

Across the country, 42 vigils and protests have taken place between 2017 and 2018, according to figures compiled by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS). They were led by a number of anti-abortion groups including the Good Counsel Network and 40 Days for Life.

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Ministers urged to ban fast food outlets from opening near schools

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 07:16:36 GMT2018-04-23T07:16:36Z

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says councils need increased powers to help combat childhood obesity

Fast food outlets should be banned from opening within 400 metres of schools in England, according to leading child doctors.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health urged the government to introduce the measure as part of its updated childhood obesity strategy, published this summer.

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Are social care services improving people's wellbeing?

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 09:28:19 GMT2018-04-23T09:28:19Z

The Care Act has not delivered hoped-for change – but there is a way to deliver a better quality of life for older and disabled people

If the 2014 Care Act has one widely known ambition, it is that individuals’ wellbeing should be the over-arching consideration in all that councils do. Social care should focus on what makes the lives of each older or disabled person better. So, if promoting wellbeing is the acid test of the personalisation programme, how are councils doing?

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I am a burnt out doctor. This is why it matters | Eileen Parkes

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 08:10:49 GMT2018-04-23T08:10:49Z

The shocking number of physician suicides indicates a culture and system that fails to value the profession

The clinic is running late. My last patient walks in. Her scan report, printed in front of me – bad news. The cancer has grown. I’m experienced at this, I take it slowly. I use the “right” words. She crumples, her eyes fill. The specialist nurse reaches out, takes her hand. In this maelstrom of intense emotion, I feel … nothing. No tears, no heartbreak. I gently explain the next steps, desperately hoping she cannot detect the emptiness behind my words.

This is burnout. A deadening of emotion, a feeling of detachment. I recognise it in myself. I hear it in my colleague’s dark humour, or another doctor wondering aloud how many people’s day she has ruined. Over half of young oncologists working in northern Europe exhibit signs of burnout, a strikingly high number. What causes this level of burnout in young, talented, empathetic doctors?

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English local elections: the best face of democracy | Jonathan Carr-West

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 06:57:05 GMT2018-04-23T06:57:05Z

On 3 May, many councils in England go to the polls. Perhaps more important than the outcome is the process

If we have learnt anything about politics over the past few years, it is that predictions are foolhardy and good news is hard to find. Nonetheless I’m going to begin by predicting that if we remember them for nothing else, we will remember the 2018 local elections for ending the BNP’s presence in English local government.

The party’s last remaining councillor is standing down in Pendle, Lancashire. He will not be replaced, none of the 16 BNP candidates in London will win, and a 25-year blot on the political landscape will be gone.

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Care Home Open Day is a chance to showcase the best of care work

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 11:39:55 GMT2018-04-20T11:39:55Z

Homes around the country will open up their doors this weekend – giving the public a chance to learn about the sector and its workforce

Care Home Open Day is an opportunity for older people and their families to get to know the homes in their area, but it’s also so much more. On a deeper level, throwing open the doors of care homes across the UK – though they are actually open year-round – invites the public to gain a better understanding of older people and get a real sense of the social care sector and its workforce. Educating people on both these elements and correcting misconceptions is, I believe, extremely important.

By 2030, one in five Britons will be over the age of 65 and an estimated 1.1 million people will be living with dementia. It is crucial that perceptions of older people change, because too often they are being written off.

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Let’s talk about cancer treatment, not ‘cancer journeys’ | Letters

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 17:02:45 GMT2018-04-23T17:02:45Z

Oversharing may be better than the dreadful silence that once surrounded ‘the big C’, but many patients might prefer more practical advice

It is astonishing that “cancer diaries” (Why I live in dread of another cancer confessional, 18 April) have proliferated to the extent that some of your correspondents (As a cancer patient, I needed distraction, Letters, Anne Hay, 23 April) can describe them as cliches or tediously omnipresent.

Perhaps there has been a trend towards “oversharing”, but on the whole this is surely a corrective to the dreadful mandatory silence that surrounded cancer not so long ago.

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Time, please: is drinking becoming as socially unacceptable as smoking?

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 07:00:05 GMT2018-04-23T07:00:05Z

Drinking is ingrained in our social life – much as cigarettes were until public health campaigns led to a huge cultural shift. With many young people eschewing alcohol, the beginning of the end of booze Britain is in sight

A cool glass of sauvignon canalside in the summer. A soothing beer by a pub fire as the leaves turn red. Mulled wine with a Christmas mince pie. Alcohol is shot through British life like, well, shots on a night out. But recent trends suggest that might be changing. Could the British love of booze be drying up as surely as our passion for cigarettes?

Consider this: in 1974, half of British adults smoked; by 2017, that figure had fallen to just 16%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The decline was a result both of public health campaigns and legislation encouraging people to cut back or stop smoking. In 2003, for instance, the branding of cigarettes as “light” was banned in the UK. That same year, EU legislation brought in health warnings on products, and in March 2006 Scotland became the first country in the UK to introduce a smoke-free law. This was followed in 2007 by legislation banning smoking in workplaces and enclosed public spaces in England (Wales and Northern Ireland also legislated against smoking that year).

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Children of alcoholic parents to get help in £6m scheme

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 23:01:34 GMT2018-04-22T23:01:34Z

Estimated 200,000 ‘silent victims’ to be given support and advice

Children whose parents are alcoholic will be offered help under plans announced by the government.

The £6m package of measures is designed to help the estimated 200,000 children in England living with alcohol-dependent parents, offering rapid access to support and advice.

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Ambulance staff face rise in physical and verbal sexual assaults

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 23:01:34 GMT2018-04-22T23:01:34Z

Number of annual incidents in England has almost trebled over last six years, NHS figures show

Growing numbers of frontline ambulance staff are being sexually assaulted at work or having lewd comments made to them, NHS figures reveal.

The number of such incidents involving ambulance workers in England has almost trebled from 52 in 2012-13 to 145 in 2017-18. Figures from eight of the 10 NHS regional ambulance services in England show a total of 662 physical and verbal sexual assaults between April 2012 and February 2018, with the annual number rising year on year over that period.

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As a cancer patient, I needed distraction | Letters

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 17:21:45 GMT2018-04-22T17:21:45Z

The last thing I wanted after I was diagnosed was people trying to ‘help’ by sharing their experiences, writes Anne Hay

Mike Addelman’s article (Why I live in dread of another cancer confessional, 18 April) accurately describes the non-physical aspects of cancer diagnosis, which can be harder to cope with than the physical. I too noticed a proliferation of cancer stories, both confessional and fictional, during my treatment last autumn. It’s an acutely stressful time for patient and family. I got by taking each day and each part of the treatment as it came. I discouraged anyone who tried to “help” me by sharing details of their treatment. It was enough just to confront my own.

A good book or film or radio programme could bring an hour or so of blessed distraction, but all too often the plot would involve cancer, or the subject would come up in a news programme again and again. I kept thinking: “Scriptwriters, there are other illnesses, go beyond the cliche.”

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Cancer, mutations and the facts of life

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 17:00:27 GMT2018-04-22T17:00:27Z

If you live long enough, you get cancer. But without our mutating, blundering cells, we’d never have made it out of the primordial soup…

Bob Weinberg of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been one of the world’s foremost experts on cancer for nearly five decades. Back when I was a wee graduate student, I lunched with Dr Weinberg at a conference and he told me something that stuck with me: “If you live long enough, you will get cancer.”

The inevitability of cancer has made itself painfully clear over the past century. As mortality from almost all other causes has plummeted, cancer rates have skyrocketed. While there is good reason to believe that some aspects of modern lifestyle and diet also contribute, the bulk of the rise in cancer is simply because we are no longer dying from so many other things.

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Prostate cancer breakthrough as UK team develops more accurate test

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 07:05:15 GMT2018-04-22T07:05:15Z

Ultrasound technique overcomes problems with current methods to diagnose the most common cancer in men

Scientists have announced the development of a highly accurate and reliable technique for diagnosing prostate cancer. The Dundee University-based team say they have used an ultrasound process called shear wave elastography (SWE) to detect prostate tumours. The method is non-invasive and cheaper than current detection techniques.

Prostate cancer has become the most common cancer in men in the UK. One in eight men will develop the condition at some point in their lives with more than 47,000 new cases being diagnosed every year. Men aged 50 or over, men with a family history of prostate cancer, and black men are at greatest risk of developing the condition.

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The cost of getting well in Australia is keeping us sick | Fiona Wright

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 22:29:29 GMT2018-04-21T22:29:29Z

The public health system is supposed to prevent undue financial burdens. But for author Fiona Wright, the reality is far from utopian

Before I became unwell, I had a lot of assumptions about what happened to people who were unwell. I assumed that no unwell person would ever find themself having to explain their condition to doctors who had never heard of it before. I assumed that doctors could not refuse to treat someone who was unwell, or would not ask that unwell person to convince them – often over several weeks – why they should do so. I assumed that treatment cures illness, or at least does not do harm; that medicines are prescribed precisely and not by trial and error. But most of all, I assumed that when a person became unwell, their medical expenses would be taken care of. We have a public healthcare system, after all – and our politicians speak so often of fairness and the fair go – and it is never a sick person’s fault that they are unwell, and so it seemed ridiculous that they would be penalised for something already so punishing.

This is, essentially, just a gentler way of saying that I had the privilege to be incredibly naive. When I consider now all of the money I have spent across the seven years that I was in active treatment for my illness, seven years when media commentary about the irresponsibility and instant gratification of my generation has continually intensified, I often think: if I could eat avocado toast, I’d be able to afford a house by now.

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Dementia patients restrained with controversial techniques – report

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 11:55:18 GMT2018-04-21T11:55:18Z

Methods such as raising bed bars and putting walking aids out of reach leave elderly people stressed, says government-funded research

Hospital staff are sometimes confining patients with dementia to bed through controversial “containment and restraint” techniques, new government-funded research reveals.

The findings, paid for by the National Institute for Health Research, reveal that nurses and healthcare assistants are raising the siderails of beds and tucking bedsheets tightly around patients with dementia, reducing their mobility. Others are prevented from getting up by their walking frames being put out of reach or by being sedated with drugs. The techniques are used, say the researchers, because of an exaggerated fear that patients will fall if left to move around wards freely. The study says the tactics lead to the “dehumanisation” of patients, leaving them angry and highly stressed and worsening their already poor health.

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Care for 13,000 Britons at risk as provider seeks rescue plan

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:30:54 GMT2018-04-20T18:30:54Z

Allied Healthcare, which provides home visits to 13,000 people, warns it will go bust without help from creditors

The care of more than 13,000 elderly and vulnerable Britons could be thrown into turmoil after one of the biggest providers of home care visits in the UK warned it would go bust unless creditors backed a rescue plan.

Allied Healthcare, which has contracts with 150 local authorities and also provides out-of-hours services for the NHS, is asking for breathing space on its finances after cashflow problems that have been triggered in part by an £11m bill for back pay owed to sleep-in care workers.

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Rise in assaults on staff reveals intolerable pressure on NHS

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:35:27 GMT2018-04-20T12:35:27Z

Health workers around the globe are at a high risk of physical violence – the UK government must face up to the problem

The revelation of the sharp increase in attacks on NHS staff highlights a problem which is serious, global and growing.

The survey by the Health Service Journal and Unison showed assaults in 2016-17 were almost 10% up on the previous year, driven by big increases in hospitals that were missing treatment targets or seriously in debt. Staff in mental health trusts were more than seven times more likely to be attacked than those in other trusts.

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'I enjoy the comradeship and giggles': care home residents get active

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 07:44:42 GMT2018-04-24T07:44:42Z

A £1m programme is bringing adapted activities including weightlifting and volleyball to older people in care settings

Related: Balloon buddies and cycle rides: the care staff getting active at work

Two teams of residents at Anson Court care home eyeball each other across the improvised volleyball net – a string of bunting tied between a chair and an indoor plant. The soft ball is thrown high and hands reach up to send it back over the flags. One man uses his head, a shoe goes flying through the air. By the end of the session, everybody is laughing.

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High court rules in favour of carers over two-child benefits cap

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 15:55:54 GMT2018-04-20T15:55:54Z

Judge says government’s rules on exemptions ‘in conflict with the purposes of the legislation’

The government’s policy of denying financial support to carers who fall foul of the two-child limit on benefit entitlements is perverse and unlawful, a high court judge has ruled.

Growing numbers of young carers who voluntarily agree to look after younger relatives, in order to prevent them being taken into care, have been denied thousands of pounds in benefit support when they decide to have a child of their own.

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Social care needs a strong whistleblowing culture

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 11:53:53 GMT2018-04-17T11:53:53Z

Staff are the eyes and ears of an organisation and can act as an early warning system of risk, wrongdoing or malpractice

Social care in England is undervalued, underfunded and on the brink of collapse. Being old and in care can, for some people, feel precarious. The statistics showing the state of care homes across the UK are sobering. The Care Quality Commission regulator says almost one in four care homes are inadequate or require improvement, while Age UK says 1.2 million people over 65 had some level of unmet care needs in 2016-17.

Public Concern at Work, the whistleblowing charity I work for, believes the care sector could benefit if staff feel able to speak out. With so many care homes rated inadequate or in need of improvement, we believe residents and staff face risk, danger and malpractice. The 400 annual calls to our whistleblowing advice line from the care sector are, we suspect, just scratching the surface of the problems facing care homes. PCaW would like to gain a clearer picture of whistleblowing in care homes, which is why we have launched a survey.

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Thousands of patients to get personalised NHS budgets

Sun, 15 Apr 2018 23:18:33 GMT2018-04-15T23:18:33Z

Around 350,000 people could soon qualify for right to select and pay for treatments through bespoke care plan

Hundreds of thousands of people with mental health conditions and physical disabilities could be given the option of a personalised NHS budget for their own care needs under government proposals.

People with learning difficulties and dementia are among around 350,000 who could have the right to select and pay for treatments that improve their health and wellbeing through a bespoke care plan agreed with medical professionals. For children and people unable to manage the money, parents or carers will be able to manage the budget.

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Let’s turn our anger into action with a summer of solidarity | Zoe Williams

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 05:00:12 GMT2018-04-24T05:00:12Z

Outrage about Windrush, Grenfell and voter ID comes and goes. The local elections are an opportunity to mete out some justice

The sense of fury is quite familiar, while its locus becomes more extreme: we were outraged in 2013 by Theresa May’s racist vans; furious about David Cameron’s 2015 minimum income requirement for British citizens wishing to live with their spouse in their own country. I could reach back to 2005 and briefly reignite the dismay at Michael Howard’s sly, sinister and failed election campaign, whose rhetorical question – “Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” – asked the nation to reimagine itself as a place where everyone was a secret furnace of boiling resentment towards the Polish delicatessen, just waiting for a sign.

We have been sickened by the Grenfell fire and appalled by the abject failure of Kensington and Chelsea council, which this week was revealed to have left two-thirds of its victims still homeless, while £21m has sat in the bank, earmarked for “affordable” housing. From the Windrush scandal to the deliberate disenfranchisement caused by ID requirements at local elections, every act has that disorienting quality of being simultaneously shocking and inevitable.

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Labour unlikely to back controversial Worcester candidate

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 18:42:23 GMT2018-04-23T18:42:23Z

‘Vexatious claims’ emerged after Mandy Richards was chosen to contest winnable seat

A woman who has suggested that last year’s Manchester Arena bombing might not have happened is unlikely to be endorsed by Labour’s national executive after being selected as the party’s candidate for the winnable seat of Worcester.

Mandy Richards’ Twitter account claims there were “no images/footage of physical damage” from the bombing that killed 22 people last May, and also says there was a “convenient shortage of evidence” in the murder of MP Jo Cox.

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The Capita crisis may be the undoing of the Tories at the local elections | Aditya Chakrabortty

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:44:00 GMT2018-04-23T13:44:00Z

With councils from Barnet to Preston suffering the consequences of outsourcing, the government must acknowledge it is not fit for purpose

The crisis at Capita will today be treated like a business story – albeit a huge one, with a big company shooting up distress flares and launching an urgent £700m whip-round. But this story is far larger than that. It holds up a mirror to how the British state is now locked in a sick codependency with outsourcing companies whose very business model drives them both into financial precariousness and service failure.

The first episode of this story aired in January, when Carillion collapsed. Capita, however, is on a different scale. It employs almost twice the number of people as Carillion did, and it does everything from collect the BBC licence fee to recruit soldiers for the British army. Name the public-sector opening and chances are that Capita has its fingers jammed deep inside.

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Tories say they’re fighting the local elections. But where are they? | Laura Parker

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 09:00:08 GMT2018-04-23T09:00:08Z

In comparison to Labour’s huge activist base, where we’re trying to talk to every voter, their ground game is weak

• Laura Parker is Momentum’s national coordinator

In a recent Sky News debate, Conservative MP Lee Rowley claimed that “thousands” of Tory activists were fighting hard on doorsteps up and down the country ahead of next week’s local elections. One can only wonder what conversations these activists might be having. What can a proselytiser for the establishment preach right now? The fact that economic growth has fallen by an estimated half in the first few months of this year? The burgeoning crisis in the retail sector? Or perhaps the shocking rise in homelessness and Theresa May’s catastrophic handling of Brexit negotiations? Or the latest twists in the Windrush scandal?

Such speculation matters relatively little, since Rowley was merely saving face; the fact is that there is no Conservative campaign to speak of.

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No agreed power, no agreed budget: Dan Jarvis on his fight to be Sheffield mayor

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 06:00:03 GMT2018-04-23T06:00:03Z

Labour candidate seeks to overcome voter apathy toward city region vote with pledge to work for wider Yorkshire deal

On a grey weekday morning in Scawsby, Doncaster, the Labour MP Dan Jarvis is knocking on doors to garner support for his bid to be the first mayor for the Sheffield city region – a role that comes with no agreed powers, no agreed budget and no agreed salary. “Apart from that, what’s not to like about it?” he jokes.

The government’s decision to push ahead with the election on 3 May, despite south Yorkshire’s local authorities – Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster – failing to agree a devolution settlement, has been criticised as strange and undemocratic.

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Charity fundraisers should take a close look at political campaigns

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 10:19:18 GMT2018-04-23T10:19:18Z

Effective campaigning groups are diverse, aren’t afraid of failure – and have much to teach charity professionals

The best thing about the third sector is that it is full of passionate professionals who want to put themselves out of a job by righting a wrong or bringing justice to issues that are too often ignored.

But that passion doesn’t always translate to the campaigns charities actually run. Internal processes, red tape and budgets swamp too many strategies, and that kills the ideas and innovation that make campaigns effective.

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London Marathon: huge crowds spur on runners in hottest race ever

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 16:34:23 GMT2018-04-22T16:34:23Z

Mo Farah breaks British record but is two minutes behind leader in 23.2C heat

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of the capital on Sunday to cheer on friends, family – and complete strangers – who were running in the hottest London Marathon ever.

As the mercury hit 23.2C, runners who had trained throughout Britain’s particularly long and cold winter struggled to cope with the heat.

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Bitching about the ethics of giving money to the homeless helps no one | Barbara Ellen

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 05:06:12 GMT2018-04-22T05:06:12Z

Life on the streets is hard enough without self-righteous types moralising about the ‘perils’ of charity

West Midlands police has been censured by the region’s police and crime commissioner, David Jamieson, and told to remove “insensitive” posters. These come with the message “Your kindness could kill” and depict a crime scene body outline, full of coins: giving money to rough sleepers could help them buy drugs that could kill them.

Homelessness is a tragic, multifaceted issue, which isn’t helped by posters such as these. Some homeless people drink and/or take drugs, but not all of them do. Nor does everyone care if they do. My take is: who am I to judge how a homeless person chooses to cope with their appalling situation? Besides, when you’ve given someone money, it’s theirs – you’ve no right to lecture them.

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National Trust to target city dwellers in 'radical' change of approach

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 15:17:02 GMT2018-04-20T15:17:02Z

Charity’s new boss says she intends to reach out to those who have least access to ‘beauty’

The National Trust will aim to reach out more to people living in cities as part of a “radical” approach under the charity’s new director general.

Signalling her priorities after her first month at the helm of an organisation that experienced a turbulent 2017, Hilary McGrady told how she wanted to build on record visitor and membership numbers through a greater focus on urban communities.

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Councils sit on £375m earmarked for affordable housing

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 21:30:33 GMT2018-04-22T21:30:33Z

Despite ‘severe’ need for lower cost homes in some areas, funding is not being released

Local councils in England are sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds of money designated for affordable housing.

A total of £375m is available, £100m of which has not even been earmarked for a specific project. This is despite a survey last year for the Town and Country Planning Association showing that 98% of councils described their need for affordable homes as either “severe” or “moderate”.

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Dispatches from the housing crisis frontline | Letters

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 16:17:32 GMT2018-04-20T16:17:32Z

Readers cite a range of factors contributing to the problem, including standards in regeneration schemes and housing for older tenants, but some landlords do try to do the right thing

Rev Paul Nicolson (Letters, 17 April) is quite right to identify parliamentary landlordism as a contributory factor in the growing housing crisis, but I fear the problem may be worse than he suggests. Despite containing some positive measures, the Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into force on 3 April, could more accurately be termed the Landlord Enrichment Act. As local authorities struggle to meet their new homelessness prevention and relief duties without any corresponding increase in social housing or any reversal of the government’s welfare reform programme, it is perhaps inevitable that councils would turn to private landlords for their help, but that doesn’t make it any less galling.

Many private sector landlords are about to be inundated with financial incentives designed to induce them to let to people in severe housing need. In the name of necessity, local housing authorities are about to line the pockets of obliging landlords with deposits, rent guarantees, upfront rental payments and benefit top-ups, while renters will still be left struggling to meet their market rents in assured shorthold tenancies that rarely offer more than six months’ security.
Graham Sharp
Mistley, Essex

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Don’t call all landlords parasites | Letters

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 17:36:05 GMT2018-04-17T17:36:05Z

Lorraine Hewitt and Martin Cooper respond to a recent Guardian article

Rhik Samadder’s view of landlords (Landlords are social parasites. They don’t deserve any awards, 16 April) does not reflect the true situation and is not the balanced reporting normally associated with the Guardian.

We agree there are certainly many bad landlords, but there are also good ones. Bitter experience taught us that when landlords have bad tenants there is little true protection for the landlord. Not all landlords are raking in money from poor quality housing.

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Homelessness: another fine mess for councils created by government | Adam Lent

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 06:57:30 GMT2018-04-17T06:57:30Z

Instead of rethinking welfare cuts or building more homes, ministers have refused to face the human cost of their policies

The Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into force this month, is at the same time a necessary and utterly ludicrous piece of legislation.

Related: New homelessness act fails to address root causes, charities say

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Housing policy and the big shrink | Letters

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 17:17:04 GMT2018-04-16T17:17:04Z

The so-called regeneration exercises by London boroughs are not only causing social cleansing, they are shrinking homes, writes Kate Macintosh. Plus Paul Nicolson says MP landlords should withdraw from debates and votes on housing and land

Your editorial (Britons will live in shoe boxes unless we resurrect housing standards, 11 April) is timely. That we have the lowest space standards in Europe was identified in an RIBA report, “Making Space”, published four years ago.

This was not always the case. The 1961 Parker Morris Report, “Home for Today and Tomorrow” published under a Conservative government, set what were then minimum space standards which were voluntarily adopted by all the London boroughs, when the main responsibility for the provision of public housing was transferred to them from the LCC in 1964 before the standards became mandatory. They were abolished by Thatcher in 1983, since when the big shrink set in.

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Alder Hey children's hospital fails four in five standards checks

Thu, 13 Feb 2014 00:01:00 GMT2014-02-13T00:01:00Z

Liverpool trust chief Louise Shepherd defends hospital's safety after Care Quality Commission finds theatre and staff shortfalls

One of England's four children-only hospitals has "very worrying problems" in its operating theatres, according to safety watchdogs.

Alder Hey in Liverpool failed to meet four of five national standards checked by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in December. There was a faulty emergency call alarm system, potential safety incidents, and "near misses" went unreported, while operations were cancelled because of staff shortages.

Continue reading...The Care Quality Commission identified 'very worring problems' at Alder Hey, including managers allegedly not listening to theatre staff complaints. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the GuardianThe Care Quality Commission identified 'very worring problems' at Alder Hey, including managers allegedly not listening to theatre staff complaints. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

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What we must learn from Asperger exposé | Letters

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 17:34:34 GMT2018-04-22T17:34:34Z

Uta Frith and Sahil Singh Gujral respond to revelations of Hans Asperger’s links to the Nazi euthanasia programme

It has taken me a while to digest Herwig Czech’s deeply upsetting information about Hans Asperger (Revealed: how Doctor Asperger aided the Nazi project, 19 April).

When, in 1991, I translated Asperger’s seminal 1944 paper on “Autistic psychopathy in childhood”, none of this was known. Neither Lorna Wing, the instigator of the translation, nor I believed he was part of the Nazi machinery of death. My translation, footnotes and description of Asperger in the introductory chapter were based on scant sources: the paper itself, a few media sources (eg an interview he gave in the 1970s) and an interview with his daughter. As a clinical psychologist and academic, I thought highly of his clinical descriptions, which largely highlighted the positive aspects of what has become known as Asperger syndrome.

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The poignant plot of the Frasier episode starring David Ogden Stiers | Letter

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 17:02:56 GMT2018-04-23T17:02:56Z

His sitcom role had him coming out to Marty Crane, but it was years before the actor could reveal that he too was gay

Your obituary to the wonderful David Ogden Stiers (21 April) makes mention of his appearance in a 2003 episode of Frasier. You say that in many ways his snobbish Winchester (in the TV series of M*A*S*H) was an antecedent of Frasier. But the central point of the episode was that Marty Crane (the equally wonderful John Mahoney) starts to question if he is the father of Frasier and Niles, because they share so many things in common with Leland, who had been very close to their mother. When Marty confronts Leland with his suspicions Leland says the reason he was so close to Marty’s wife was because she was the only person he could tell he was gay.

How sad, therefore, that it should be another six years (at the age of 67) before the actor himself felt able to come out publicly and say he was gay.
Bob Wood

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Overuse of antibiotics in farming is a major new threat to human health, says UN

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 13:57:27 GMT2017-12-05T13:57:27Z

Antibiotics that has spilled from farms into the natural environment may be a bigger factor in spreading resistance to life-saving drugs than previously thought, report says

The overuse of antibiotics in farming has been highlighted as one of the biggest emerging threats to human health, spreading resistance to vital drugs and endangering millions of lives.

Antibiotics used on farms can spill over into the surrounding environment, for instance through water run-off and slurry, according to a report from the UN’s environment body, with the potential to create resistance to the drugs across a wide area.

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Two-thirds of NHS healthcare assistants doing nurses' duties, union finds

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 16:16:44 GMT2018-04-18T16:16:44Z

Unison survey finds HCAs give out medication, dress wounds and take blood pressures

Almost two-thirds of healthcare assistants (HCAs) are performing roles usually undertaken by nurses, such as giving patients drugs and dressing their wounds, in the latest illustration of the NHS’s staffing crisis.

The apparently growing trend of assistants acting as “nurse substitutes” has sparked concern that patients may receive inferior or potentially unsafe care because they do not have the same skills.

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Health report links antibiotics to risk of miscarriage

Mon, 01 May 2017 23:19:21 GMT2017-05-01T23:19:21Z

Canadian study finds taking the drugs raises chances of having a miscarriage by between 60% and 100%

Many common antibiotics may double the risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy, research has shown.

A Canadian study has found that taking the drugs raised the chances of having a miscarriage by between 60% and 100%.

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UK judges change court rules on child contact for violent fathers

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:49:44 GMT2017-01-20T14:49:44Z

Reforms aim to end presumption that a father must have contact with a child when there is evidence of domestic abuse

Senior judges are taking steps to end the presumption that a father must have contact with a child where there is evidence of domestic abuse that would put the child or mother at risk.

The reforms are to be introduced in the family courts after campaigning by the charity Women’s Aid, which identified that 19 children have been killed in the last 10 years by their violent fathers after being given contact with them by judges.

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