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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: Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:35:21 GMT2017-06-29T00:35:21Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Social care cuts to continue in spite of £1bn boost, English councils say

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 23:01:04 GMT2017-06-27T23:01:04Z

Local authorities plan to find £824m of savings, meaning they will be spending £6bn less on social care than in 2010 when austerity began

Cuts to social care will continue this year despite ministers putting in an extra £1bn to halt the deterioration in services, senior council officials have said.

Local authorities in England plan to make £824m of savings in their social care budgets in 2017-18, according to research by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass).

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Social mobility: radical reform urged to repair divided Britain

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 23:01:04 GMT2017-06-27T23:01:04Z

Damning study says successive governments have not done enough to tackle a fragmented society

Social mobility policies have failed to significantly reduce inequality between rich and poor despite two decades of interventions by successive governments, according to a highly critical new report.

The study by the government’s Social Mobility Commission warns that without radical and urgent reform, the social and economic divisions in British society will widen even further, threatening community cohesion and economic prosperity.

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Why opioid deaths are this generation’s Aids crisis | Mary O’Hara

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 11:00:10 GMT2017-06-27T11:00:10Z

The soaring numbers of deaths from overdoses in the US and UK requires a radical and fast rethink of drugs policy

Dr Daniel Ciccarone, a San Franciso-based public health researcher and physician told me of a recent encounter which, despite 17 years in the field, left him stunned. “I talked to a [heroin] user in West Virginia. Nice guy. Manages to keep his habit and keep his job. He’s 10 years out of high school. He’s 29. He went to his high school reunion. I kid you not – half of his high school class is gone. Died. It was mostly [opioid] pills and heroin.”

Ciccarone is on the frontline of efforts to understand and combat the US’s rapidly escalating opioid crisis and he makes no bones about the scale and impact of what he says is an unprecedented public health emergency. “We are moving beyond an epidemic. I would call it a crisis,” he says.

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Council refuses to back down after Sikh couple denied chance to adopt white child

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 15:29:20 GMT2017-06-27T15:29:20Z

Sandeep and Reena Mander denied adoption by Berkshire agency despite pressure from PM and equality watchdog

A council that denied a Sikh couple the chance to adopt a child over their “cultural heritage” is refusing to back down, despite the intervention of the prime minister and the equality watchdog.

British-born Sandeep and Reena Mander said they had wanted the chance to adopt a child of any ethnic background. But they were refused the chance to apply by Windsor and Maidenhead council’s agency, Adopt Berkshire.

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New measures on violence against women to be put in domestic abuse bill

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 05:00:11 GMT2017-06-28T05:00:11Z

Legislation will mean certain offences committed by British citizens anywhere in the world can be prosecuted in UK courts

New measures to protect women and girls from crimes committed overseas will be included in legislation on domestic abuse, the government has said.

The new legislation would allow the UK to ratify the Council of Europe’s convention on preventing and combating violence against women, known as the Istanbul Convention.

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UK survey finds huge support for ending austerity

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 23:01:04 GMT2017-06-27T23:01:04Z

Social attitudes survey also finds record level of support for same-sex relationships and women’s rights to abortion

Public tolerance of austerity is collapsing as support for higher taxes to enable more spending on health, education and policing increases, according to the latest British social attitudes survey.

Eight in 10 people surveyed for the annual barometer of public attitudes said they wanted more cash pumped into the NHS, while seven in 10 supported more investment in schools, and 60% wanted higher spending on the police.

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£1bn bedblocking fund not being spent properly, say 40% of hospitals

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 23:01:14 GMT2017-06-26T23:01:14Z

Hospital bosses say local councils are failing to properly boost social care provision so that more patients can be discharged

More than 40% of British hospitals say they cannot guarantee patients will receive safe care next winter because a sum of £1bn earmarked to reduce “bedblocking” is not being spent properly.

Hospital bosses claim that many local councils are failing to put the emergency funding into schemes to help patients get home quicker by improving social care support for them.

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Almost 6,000 mental health patients sent out of area for care last year

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 23:01:14 GMT2017-06-26T23:01:14Z

NHS figures obtained by BMA show number being sent long distance for treatment in England rose 40% in two years

Almost 6,000 mental health patients had to be sent far out of their local area for treatment last year, with some travelling hundreds of miles, according to NHS figures.

Data obtained by the British Medical Association shows the number of patients with mental health problems travelling long distances for care in England has risen by 40% in two years.

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After Grenfell: two councils, two very different responses | Dawn Foster

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 19:37:45 GMT2017-06-26T19:37:45Z

Unlike the Kensington and Chelsea leader, Georgia Gould showed Camden residents that councils can have an accountable and human face

On Friday evening, outside Camden town hall, council leader Georgia Gould defended the decision to evacuate the nearby Chalcots estate due to safety concerns. Gould seemed genuinely worried, and told the BBC that Camden had been first in the queue to test its cladding, finding on Thursday that the panels fitted were “not to the standard that we had commissioned” and announcing they would be removed. At a public meeting the same night, Gould says residents raised other safety concerns she’d been unaware of: Camden council and the London fire brigade assessed the block, and the council was advised to evacuate.

Related: Grenfell is political. The right can’t make that fact go away | Suzanne Moore

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Suicide and self-harm in prisons hit worst ever levels

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 23:01:07 GMT2017-06-28T23:01:07Z

Public spending watchdog says it is unclear how inmates’ mental health can be improved with current levels of funding and insufficient data

Prisons have “struggled to cope” with record rates of suicide and self-harm among inmates following cuts to funding and staff numbers, the public spending watchdog has said. The National Audit Office said it remains unclear how the authorities will meet aims for improving prisoners’ mental health or get value for money because of a lack of relevant data.

Auditors said that self-harm incidents increased by 73% between 2012 and 2016 to 40,161, while the 120 self-inflicted deaths in prison in 2016 was the highest figure on record and almost double that for 2012. Since 2010, when David Cameron became prime minister, funding of offender management has been reduced by 13%, while staff numbers have been cut by 30%, the report said.

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Social mobility is the wrong goal – what we need is more equality | Letters

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 18:56:43 GMT2017-06-28T18:56:43Z

Readers react to the Social Mobility Commission’s report warning of the urgent need to tackle widening divisions in British society

Time to Change, the latest Social Mobility Commission report, states that radical reform is needed to repair a divided Britain, arguing that decades of policy failures have left the poor behind (Report, 28 June). But increasing social mobility would not repair this divide, it would increase it. Effective social mobility leaves the poor even further behind, as it depletes the working classes of those who are able to achieve educational success against the odds. The remorseless focus on aspiration and bettering oneself results in a phenomenon that the report also highlights: the large numbers of graduates from working-class backgrounds who are unable to find graduate employment.

What we need in an austerity-scarred Britain is not a relentless focus on social mobility but a much stronger emphasis on achieving greater social and economic equality. Individual success is no answer to the wider social problem of growing class inequalities. The focus for too long has been on moving up a small number of educationally successful working classes when we need to concentrate our resources and energy on supporting and valuing the much larger group of those who are “left behind”.
Prof Diane Reay
Faculty of education, University of Cambridge

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Blame the nasty party for our nursing crisis | Letters

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 18:54:55 GMT2017-06-28T18:54:55Z

Nurse shortages | Carrier advice | Thank you, DUP | Welsh lessons | Bilingual cats

We know the NHS is under exceptional pressure. Applications to study nursing have slumped by 23% for 2017/18 (Would-be nurses abandon their dream as promise of degree training is broken, 27 June). The number of EU nurses registering to practise in the UK has fallen by 96% in less than a year. Can any reasonable person doubt that this government and its Tory predecessors are deliberately starving the service of essential funds in order to open up opportunities for profit for its wealthy cronies?
Linda Rhead
London

• Why not sail HMS Queen Elizabeth (UK’s new aircraft carrier, 27 June) to the Port of London, where it could accommodate and feed people decanted from tower blocks? This might be a better use of taxpayers’ money than planning to bomb foreigners in five years’ time.
Aidan Turner-Bishop
Preston

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NHS staff taking more sick days than ever

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 18:38:31 GMT2017-06-28T18:38:31Z

As the NHS comes under increasing strain, the number of staff taking time off has risen, with mental health conditions among the main reasons

NHS staff are taking more time off work because of illness, with the total now close to 17m days a year.

Related: Constant restructuring of NHS is demoralising staff, survey finds

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How apps and tech are transforming the way charities raise money

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 14:32:16 GMT2017-06-28T14:32:16Z

Charities were slow to embrace new technologies, but innovative apps are now common in the fundraising sector

The adoption of digital technology in the charity fundraising sector is still in its infancy, with even the bigger organisations only at the start of their journey.

According to Blackbaud’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report, a mere 7.2% of all individual donations in the UK were made online. Of those online donations, however, 17% were made using mobile devices – a jump of eight percentage points since 2014. This implies that such usage will grow in importance.

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Why I love my fundraising job: ‘You connect people with a cause’

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 14:18:29 GMT2017-06-28T14:18:29Z

Martha Huntley was named the Institute of Fundraising’s best fundraising newcomer last year after raising £1.63m for anti-poverty charity Hand in Hand International. She reveals why she’s so good at her job

I always knew that I wanted to work in international development. When I was about seven or eight my parents took me out of school for 15 weeks and we travelled around South America. I met people who had very little but were resourceful and generous. I enjoyed the trip – travelling down the Amazon rather than doing my times tables – and I think my ambition stemmed from that time.

But why fundraising? I knew I wanted to work in the third sector and a friend of the family who was a professor at Cass Business School suggested fundraising. That surprised me because I thought fundraising was more of a sales role, which wasn’t very me at all.

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Scotland to introduce soft opt-out system for organ donation

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 11:55:19 GMT2017-06-28T11:55:19Z

Policy where patients are assumed to have agreed consent aimed at reducing the number of people waiting for transplants

Scottish ministers are to introduce a new system of organ donations based on presumed consent in an effort to increase life-saving organ transplants.

Ministers in Edinburgh announced plans on Wednesday to introduce a “soft opt-out” system, where patients are assumed to agree to donate useful organs unless their families strongly object.

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How the other half give: working with charity's biggest donors

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 09:54:21 GMT2017-06-28T09:54:21Z

How do you get a mega-gift donor to give to your charity? It’s all about the personal touch, according to industry sources

While all types of fundraising require certain skills and personal attributes, there is a certain art to major donor – or mega-gift – fundraising. And as the UK’s wealthiest people gave away a record £3.2bn to charitable causes in the past 12 months, according to the Sunday Times’ annual Giving List – an increase of 20% on last year, it’s an art that charities would do well to learn to do right.

When Amy Swart, now head of fundraising at Fight For Peace, was working as a fundraiser with the NSPCC, she began working with a donor who was already giving large amounts. Over a period of nearly four years, she built a strong relationship with him and her hard work came to fruition with a multimillion pound mega-gift at the end of the process.

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'There's compassion fatigue': why refugee charities face a funding shortfall

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 09:54:03 GMT2017-06-28T09:54:03Z

Giving to refugee charities tends to increase only after media coverage of tragic stories or political decisions. But as the crisis endures beyond the news cycle, fundraisers need to find other ways to retain donors

It was the photo of the death of three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi that brought a surge of donations to Refugee Action in 2015. But the organisation, which has an income of around £10m a year, wasn’t quite expecting individual giving to triple in the following two years. Neither did they predict new income streams from celebrities, trusts and major donors, says head of fundraising Wayne Murray.

“We’d never experienced anything like it in 35 years of existence and we’d never had celebrity and trust donations before,” says Murray.

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Council homes sold off almost three times as fast as new ones are built

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 07:00:13 GMT2017-06-28T07:00:13Z

Figures from 72 councils show more than 12,000 properties have been sold off since 2014 but only 4,309 have been built

Council homes are being sold off almost three times faster than local authorities can replace them, new analysis has revealed, with some local authorities selling 20 times the number of homes that were built in three years.

Analysis of figures from 72 councils who responded to freedom of information requests found the mass selloff has raised more than £930m from the sale of more than 12,000 council house since 2014. In those boroughs, just 4,309 houses were built in the same time.

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For better or worse, smaller charities have become more business-like

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 09:55:01 GMT2017-06-28T09:55:01Z

Faced with a squeeze on funding, some small charities have started to borrow money to invest elsewhere, says director of Refugee Resource Kate Hood

Fundraising in the third sector has never been more challenging. There are now more charities than ever before as local government services continue to suffer funding shortfalls and new organisations spring up to plug the gaps.

The Charity Commission reports it has about 167,000 registered charities, but the total number is estimated to be twice that. Small charities make up about 97% of the sector.

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Many Britons are hooked on costly credit. Here’s what the new minister should do | Rowena Young

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:00:00 GMT2017-06-27T12:00:00Z

The Tories have appointed Guy Opperman to oversee financial inclusion. But what indebted Britons really need is access to more responsible lenders

What value a life? For Jerome Rogers, a 20 year-old motorcycle courier, it was painfully low. Within 24 hours of a visit from a bailiff, he was found by his brother and a friend to have hanged himself. The sum of his debts? Around £1,000, or a couple of weeks’ income on the average UK wage.

Tragically, he is no longer here to tell it, but stories like Jerome’s are to gain a new level of attention in Theresa May’s government. For this month saw the appointment of the UK’s first minister for financial inclusion.

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I live in a tower block, but I don't want to be rehoused | Joanne Fry

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 09:56:22 GMT2017-06-27T09:56:22Z

The housing association that built my two-year-old block has acted quickly and responsibly to reassure residents that we are safe

In the wake of the Grenfell tower tragedy, one of my neighbours expressed concern about the cladding on our building. Initially I was incredulous and dismissive; our building is only two years old and was built by a housing association, which would have had to conform to stringent safety standards and regulations. However, like many other residents in London tower blocks, it turns out that I live in a building clad in Reynobond PE panels – the same as those used in Grenfell Tower.

This fact came to light in emails from the housing association, which has been extremely transparent and responsive in communicating with residents. Nonetheless, there has been a degree of panic and outrage, and some residents have complained to our MP, who has demanded that we should all be rehoused immediately and the cladding removed and replaced.

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Give the NHS more money – or it will face trouble this winter

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 07:22:53 GMT2017-06-27T07:22:53Z

Without investment, there is a serious possibility of wider failures than last winter with the safety of more patients at risk

It may seem odd to issue a winter warning when we have just been through an early summer heatwave. But the forecast from the NHS frontline is clear: unless we do something now to manage the risk for winter, there is trouble ahead.

Last winter, NHS staff responded heroically to extraordinary pressures. But safety and standards of care were compromised in too many places. As demand increased, so did pressure on beds, staff and the whole health and care sector. That meant delays in A&E and more patients waiting on trolleys for a bed. This had knock-on effects for ambulance response times and there were similar pressures in mental health and community services.

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Why do people assume it's hard to be a female surgeon?

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:01:19 GMT2017-06-26T09:01:19Z

I have heavy periods, sometimes I wish I were taller and breastfeeding proved to be an impossible feat, but the job is difficult for men too

I am often asked: “Is it not hard, to be an orthopaedic surgeon and a woman?”

I take a moment to consider how, as a woman, my alternative genitalia, hormones and modest bosom might mean my job is more difficult.

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Legal aid cuts leave residents no way to challenge poor housing | Liz Davies

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 06:13:02 GMT2017-06-26T06:13:02Z

The Grenfell Tower action group had no access to legal aid. Residents at risk in their homes want straightforward, enforceable legal remedies to keep them safe

Among the many heartbreaking details of the Grenfell Tower fire is the fact that the Grenfell Action Group raised concerns about a fire risk in 2013 and earlier this year, and that residents tried to find legal advice but no legal aid was available.

Cuts to legal aid in the 2012 Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act has restricted housing legal aid since April 2013 to legal actions where the aim is “removal or reduction of a serious risk of harm to the health or safety of the individual or a relevant member of the individual’s family”.

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Health inspectors used to be proactive - now all we do is react once disaster hits

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 09:11:03 GMT2017-06-24T09:11:03Z

From food poisoning to fire safety, we strive to keep people away from danger, before they know it is there. But cuts have limited our prevention work

I work in local government as an environmental health officer, but you probably don’t know staff like me exist until incidences occur where you need us.

It might be food poisoning from that dodgy kebab shop, a serious accident in the workplace or a broken boiler that your landlord won’t fix. We intervene on a whole range of public health issues; preventing septic tattoos, improving air quality, tackling noisy neighbours, dealing with bedbug infestations to name just a few things that have come up this month.

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Theresa May should spend any political capital she has left on mental health

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 08:30:03 GMT2017-06-24T08:30:03Z

Over half a million young people might miss out on mental health support. Reform would be a worthwhile legacy

“I’ve contemplated killing myself a few times.” Sensing the pause in my throat the 19-year-old young man quickly followed: “But obviously I didn’t, I self-harmed instead. It was the only way they’d take me seriously.”

This young man went on to explain to me how, from an early age, his parents had suspected he was autistic but hadn’t taken him to be tested. At school, his emotional and mental health began to rapidly deteriorate. Bullying led to severe panic attacks, which meant rarely leaving the house. Throughout all this he had bounced from one counsellor or support service to another. Finally the panic attacks became so bad he was admitted to hospital. At first he felt “relieved” at the attention, but when he found out the waiting time for a specialist appointment would be three months his condition regressed. He felt he had no option left but to self-harm to get the right help.

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Want to fund better public services? End corporate tax dodging

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 08:58:24 GMT2017-06-23T08:58:24Z

For decades we’ve been told that there simply isn’t enough money available to properly fund our public services. It is up to us to challenge this

Ending corporate tax dodging to fund public services is both necessary and popular. Global elites benefit from the myth that we cannot afford quality public services. They put great effort into keeping the truth about tax avoidance and evasion away from the public. It is up to us to challenge this.

That is why for the UN’s public service day on 23 June, Public Services International, our union affiliates, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice and civil society allies are highlighting the urgent need to stop corporate tax dodging to fund public services.

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017: now open for nominations

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 08:22:07 GMT2017-06-21T08:22:07Z

Welcome to this year’s awards for outstanding contributions to public service

Welcome to the 2017 Guardian Public Service Awards. These annual awards are an opportunity to showcase the very best of public service and recognise those who put service to others at the heart of their work.

Related: Guardian launches 2017 Public Service Awards

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How to enter the Guardian Public Service Awards 2017

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 07:09:13 GMT2017-06-14T07:09:13Z

Want to enter the awards? Here are our hints and tips on making it through to the shortlist

To enter the Guardian 2017 Public Service Awards, please complete the appropriate entry form and ensure you fill in every box. Click here to enter our eight project categories and nominate an excellent leader. Click here to nominate a public servant of the year.

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017: categories and criteria

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 07:07:29 GMT2017-06-14T07:07:29Z

Our judges are looking for the very best teams and projects from central and local government, housing, health, social care and the voluntary sector

Now in their 14th year, the Guardian Public Service Awards, supported by EY, aim to showcase the improvements and innovation underway across UK public services and recognise brilliant ideas, techniques and measurable impact.

This year the Guardian’s Society Professionals networks, which serve communities of dedicated staff working in housing, health, social care, the voluntary sector,criminal justice and central and local government, and SocietyGuardian, have set out once again to recognise and reward excellence across public services.

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Guardian Public Service Awards 2017: key dates & FAQ

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 07:06:54 GMT2017-06-14T07:06:54Z

Full timeline for the awards and all your questions answered

14 June 2017: Awards launch
14 July 2017: Closing date for entries
21 September 2017: Shortlist announced. Voting opens for Public Servant of the Year.
2 October 2017: Closing date for Public Servant of the Year public vote
28 November 2017: Awards ceremony at One Marylebone
29 November 2017: Awards ceremony and winners announced and details of all award winners published online and in print

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'Without this, I would have killed myself': gardening helps heal refugees' trauma

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 09:41:37 GMT2017-06-28T09:41:37Z

An NHS-run therapeutic gardening project in London is helping to alleviate symptoms of severe mental health problems

It was around a year after Fatu Mangeh* arrived in the UK that she considered taking her own life.

In 2002 she fled the civil war in Sierra Leone where she had been raped and tortured – scars are still visible on her hands 15 years later. Her parents were killed and the only family she had left was her two-year-old daughter. She was lured to the UK by a man who promised to marry her but abandoned her, leaving her destitute and with no support. Wandering the streets, she came across a woman from Sierra Leone who offered to help; she took her to the Home Office to claim asylum and registered her with a GP.

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Exhibition illustrates the deadly impact of NHS cuts | David Batty

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 06:29:13 GMT2017-06-28T06:29:13Z

Activist art that drew attention to hospital closures 40 years ago is still relevant today, as an exhibition of its hard-hitting posters and campaign material at the ICA reveals

The image is stark and its message brutally clear. Under the headline Health Cuts Can Kill, a sickly, middle-aged man lies with his arms spread on a metal hospital bed, his right hand clasping the rails of the metal bedstead. The grainy black and white photo is clinically dissected by an anonymous hand wielding a surgical scalpel, slicing a gaping red gash across the prone patient’s torso and chest.

The poster is one of many created by the artists Loraine Leeson and Peter Dunn to support local campaigners and NHS workers in east London in the mid-to late-1970s. These art projects, which pioneered closer collaboration between artists and political activists in the UK, are on show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. They came in the wake of the first wave of cuts to the NHS. Initially carried out by Ted Heath’s Conservative government, these cuts deepened under Labour after a run on the pound forced James Callaghan’s government to take out a huge loan from the International Monetary Fund in 1976, which led to severe funding restrictions for public services.

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Dissolvable patch offers radical pain-free alternative to flu injection, study finds

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 22:30:03 GMT2017-06-27T22:30:03Z

Self-administered patch carrying 100 microneedles found to be as safe as traditional vaccination method and is preferred by patients

A small, dissolvable patch boasting an array of tiny needles could offer a safe relatively painless alternative to traditional injections for vaccination against flu, researchers have found.

The approach is likely to be welcomed by those who shudder at the sight of a needle, but it could also provide other benefits.

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Jeremy Hunt accused of 'sleeping at the wheel' during NHS data loss scandal

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 14:28:40 GMT2017-06-27T14:28:40Z

Health secretary forced to respond to urgent Commons question after withering NAO report on loss of 700,000 health documents

Jeremy Hunt has been accused of being “asleep at the wheel” while a private firm co-owned by the Department of Health built up a backlog of over 700,000 pieces of medical correspondence it never delivered to GPs.

The health secretary was summoned to the House of Commons to answer questions from MPs after a damning National Audit Office report found that the scandal may have harmed the health of at least 1,788 patients and had so far cost £6.6m.

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Smoking ban 10 years on: share your memories and experiences

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:40:17 GMT2017-06-27T12:40:17Z

A decade since smoking bans came into force in the UK we would like to hear from readers on how their lives have been affected

Ten years have passed since venues across England moved their smokers outdoors and ensured people could work, drink and dine without passive inhalation.

Related: UK heart disease deaths fall by over 20% since indoor smoking ban

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Four in 10 UK parents wrongly believe a sun tan is healthy, says poll

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 05:30:22 GMT2017-06-27T05:30:22Z

Met Office and NHS England find parents are too relaxed about exposing their children to sun, and warn over UV rays

Almost four out of 10 parents mistakenly believe that a sun tan is a sign of good health, research suggests.

A new poll for the Met Office and NHS England found evidence of apparently relaxed attitude to children’s sun exposure.

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Mental health patients: were you moved miles away for care?

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 04:07:59 GMT2017-06-27T04:07:59Z

NHS data shows the number of patients with mental health problems being forced to travel miles for care has shot up in recent years. Share your stories

Almost 6,000 mental health patients were sent up to 587 miles from home last year, according to data obtained by the British Medical Association.

NHS data shows that the number of patients with mental health problems who travelled miles for care in England has risen 40% over the few years. Figures show the numbers went from 4,213 in 2014-16 to 5,876 in 2016-17.

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Disabled patients 'relying on crowdfunding' for wheelchairs

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 23:06:02 GMT2017-06-26T23:06:02Z

Most patients are offered a voucher towards a basic NHS wheelchair, but these do not meet everyone’s needs and can even exacerbate conditions

Disabled patients are increasingly having to rely on crowdfunding to pay for wheelchairs, a leading doctor has warned. Cuts in services, a postcode lottery of availability and delays mean that patients are being forced to rely on the public to help raise funds online to buy suitable wheelchairs.

Medics at the British Medical Association’s annual representative meeting in Bournemouth unanimously passed a motion calling for users to have “timely access to chairs suitable for their individual conditions”.

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Hundreds of patients potentially harmed by undelivered NHS mail

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 23:01:14 GMT2017-06-26T23:01:14Z

Watchdog criticises Shared Business Services, which the Guardian revealed in February failed to process 709,000 items

More than 1,700 people may have been harmed by an NHS contractor’s loss of almost 709,000 pieces of medical correspondence, including patient records and cancer test results, an investigation has found.

But the real total could be much higher, as almost a third of the documents have still to be assessed to see if long delays in analysing them damaged human health, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) into what MPs have called “a colossal blunder”.

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How Scotland was the brave on smoking law | Letters

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 18:19:47 GMT2017-06-26T18:19:47Z

Scotland’s pioneering contribution to anti-smoking legislation must not be ignored when marking the 10th anniversary of the smoking ban in public spaces in England, writes Keith Hayton

As well as supporting the 10th anniversary of the smoking ban in enclosed public places being introduced in England (Huge gains from ban on pub smoking hailed, 26 June) recognition needs to be given to the then Scottish executive. Under the then first minister, Jack McConnell, it introduced the smoking, health and social care (Scotland) bill in 2005, which became law the following in March. At the time this was a very politically courageous thing to do in the face of claims about job losses and infringements of human rights. It has probably brought more benefits to Scottish society than virtually any other recent piece of legislation. Without this pioneering initiative, would the later bans in Wales, Northern Ireland and eventually England have been possible? Credit where credit is due – to the Labour-controlled Scottish executive, Jack McConnell and his health secretary, Andy Kerr.
Keith Hayton
Glasgow

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

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Young people and antidepressants: share your experiences

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:31:59 GMT2017-06-26T09:31:59Z

Tens of thousands of under 18s are being prescribed antidepressants by their doctors. We want to hear from parents and those aged over 16 about this

Tens of thousands of young people and chilren in England are being prescribed antidepressants by their doctors, according to data obtained by The Guardian.

Figures from NHS England showed that 166,510 under 18s, including 10,500 seven to 12-years-olds and 537 aged six years or under were given medication typically used to treat depression and anxiety between April 2015 and 2016.

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Pantomime politics: how ministers are failing us on social care | David Brindle

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 07:45:14 GMT2017-06-28T07:45:14Z

By focusing only on services for older people, the government ignores pressures on care and support for young adults

We seem to be living through an era of pantomime politics, so it should come as no surprise to find yourself screaming at the government: “It’s behind you!”

It took an unconscionable amount of time for ministers to wake up to the importance of social care. Having done so at last, they now insist on looking only at the bit that offers support for older people. Equally critical issues are creeping up on them, stage left.

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Why is the government ignoring the crisis facing children's social care? | Barbara Gelb

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 10:27:35 GMT2017-06-27T10:27:35Z

Social care funding issues dominated the general election but it isn’t just older people who need help

Debate about social care dominated the general election and proposals for a green paper on funding were included in the Queen’s speech. The government’s supporting commentary stated, however, that it would work to address the challenges of social care for “our ageing population” and the “increasing numbers of over-75s”. The Local Government Association (LGA) estimates that children’s services face a £2bn funding gap by 2020. Why is the government ignoring the funding crisis facing children’s social care?

Together for Short Lives provides support for around 49,000 children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions across the country. These are some of the most vulnerable children in society, with voices that are too often not heard or ignored. They and their families rely heavily on social care.

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British Sikh couple take legal action after being advised not to adopt

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:28:34 GMT2017-06-27T00:28:34Z

Sandeep and Reena Mander say they were told they were unlikely to succeed as the only children in need were white

A British Sikh couple are bringing a legal case, claiming they were advised by an adoption agency not to apply because of their “cultural heritage”.

Sandeep and Reena Mander said they had wanted to adopt a child of any ethnic background.

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Modern slavery: the next social care scandal?

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 06:55:03 GMT2017-06-26T06:55:03Z

Foreign nationals working in social care could be victims of exploitation, trafficking and forced labour. Staff are being urged to speak out

A care home is raided by the Border Agency. Staff are removed as they have no identity documents and are working long hours in poor conditions. The home, it turns out, is being used as a conduit for trafficking women into the UK.

This is a true story, told recently by a social care professional to Gary Craig, emeritus professor of social justice at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at Hull University. The agency that supplied the workers to the care home, he was told, has not been properly investigated by the authorities.

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Co-operatives are the way to more efficient and compassionate social care | Ed Mayo

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 06:54:18 GMT2017-06-23T06:54:18Z

Our future care system cannot be driven by price, competition and profits. Here’s how government can encourage communities to take control

While Conservative proposals for overhauling adult social care funding damaged their election campaign and did not feature in the Queen’s speech, they were right not to duck the issue.

Politicians of all parties must come together, not only to plug the hole in social care funding, but also to think hard about how the system spends that money. No overhaul of funding will be sufficient unless there is a simultaneous shift in our approach to providing care and prioritising wellbeing.

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Government must let service users and carers shape social care policy | Peter Beresford

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:40:40 GMT2017-06-22T07:40:40Z

The political party that wins the next general election is likely to be the one that signs up to a new vision of social care and support

There can be no question that Theresa May’s disastrous social care manifesto policy played a major part in her election failure. However, the Queen’s speech suggests that she still far from finding a sustainable way forward for social care that will command popular support. The speech only included 14 vague and non-committal words on the subject: “My ministers will work to improve social care and bring forward proposals for consultation.”

Not only does this highlight the insecurity of her government and leadership. Much more importantly, it emphasises that any political party wanting to win the next general election will have to be prepared to listen carefully to service users and carers when developing their future social care policy proposals.

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Shelter under microscope over partnerships with construction industry

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 15:15:30 GMT2017-06-27T15:15:30Z

Homelessness charity received £15,000 in donations from company that supplied cladding for Grenfell Tower

The homelessness charity Shelter’s financial links with the construction industry have come under scrutiny after details emerged of its fundraising partnership with Omnis Exteriors, the company that supplied the cladding for Grenfell Tower.

It is understood that Shelter received more than £15,000 in donations from Omnis over a two-year period as part of an informal arrangement. During the period, Omnis agreed to raise money for the charity while using the Shelter name at its corporate marketing events.

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Decent homes for all… Has the social housing dream died?

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 07:00:23 GMT2017-06-25T07:00:23Z

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it is clear that Britain’s social housing is in crisis. As a new film looks at the legacy of Thatcher’s right-to-buy, Rowan Moore asks whether the postwar housing ideal can be revived. Below: David Harewood, Kerry Hudson and others on their experiences of council estate living

Before catastrophe hit Grenfell Tower, it had been planned to publish this feature last weekend. Then, in the immediate aftermath, it was clear that this would be the wrong thing to do, to talk about related but not-identical issues of public housing. It would have been at once too close to the news about Grenfell and not close enough. Now, although the horror is still raw and much about it is still unknown, it has also become clear that Grenfell exposes in the harshest possible way questions of the current state of social housing, about the accessibility, affordability and quality of homes, and their impact on people’s lives. As is reported today, research by Shelter shows that a million households are at risk of homelessness unless a freeze on housing benefit is lifted.

Absurdly, local authorities are now having to pay high rents to house people in homes the councils once owned

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Nowhere: a response to the housing crisis by poet Tony Walsh – audio

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 07:00:23 GMT2017-06-25T07:00:23Z

The poet, writer and performer who grew up in social housing in Manchester performs a specially composed poem in response to issues raised in the documentary Dispossession: The Great Housing Swindle

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Housing crisis threatens a million families with eviction by 2020

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 20:45:10 GMT2017-06-24T20:45:10Z

Report shows combination of low wages, freezes to benefits and rising costs of renting could cause more than 1 million households to become homeless

More than a million households living in private rented accommodation are at risk of becoming homeless by 2020 because of rising rents, benefit freezes and a lack of social housing, according to a devastating new report into the UK’s escalating housing crisis.

The study by the homelessness charity Shelter shows that rising numbers of families on low incomes are not only unable to afford to buy their own home but are also struggling to pay even the lowest available rents in the private sector, leading to ever higher levels of eviction and homelessness.

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The problem is not tower blocks: it's capitalism and cost-cutting | Dawn Foster

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 06:08:17 GMT2017-06-23T06:08:17Z

Ignore the calls for tower blocks to be pulled down in the wake of Grenfell. The real problem is safety and how willing companies are to risk lives to save money

After the Grenfell tragedy, understandably the conversation has turned to safety in preventing such avoidable devastation occurring again. Tower blocks in particular have come under fire for being unsafe, having few fire escape routes and housing so many people in a dense space. Some of the calls for tower blocks to be pulled down or for no more to be built come from a political revulsion towards tower blocks and what they represent in facets of society.

Critics claim they are eyesores, magnets for crime and terrible to live in. But most people I’ve spoken to in tower blocks enjoy living in their home, and would do so more if repairs and improvements were carried out promptly. This is key: the people calling for tower blocks to be pulled down do not live in them, even though they believe their demand comes from a place of altruism and concern. If tower blocks are properly maintained, with all structural work properly carried out, they are perfectly safe.

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A guide to tenants' housing rights around safety and repairs

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 06:19:30 GMT2017-06-22T06:19:30Z

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, here’s where to get help and advice if you’re a social housing tenant with questions about your own home

In the aftermath of a shocking disaster like the Grenfell Tower fire, social housing tenants, including those who rent from private landlords, as well as from housing associations, councils or other registered housing providers, will be asking questions about their own homes and wondering where to turn for advice.

Here’s a guide to where you can get help, and where to go if your landlord doesn’t provide satisfactory answers.

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Why young people are renting rooms in a Helsinki care home | Kirstie Brewer

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 06:30:23 GMT2017-06-21T06:30:23Z

In return for a cheap rent, Finnish 18- to 25-year-olds are befriending older people in a state-run care home and helping provide a range of social activities

It’s a sunny Thursday afternoon and residents of the Rudolf Seniors Home – Helsinki’s largest state care home – are eating raspberry swiss roll and having a spirited guitar singalong to some traditional Finnish tunes.

Among the trestle tables and rocking chairs occupied by the elderly Finns in the common room is someone considerably younger. Eighteen-year-old Serafina Eljaala is one of three young people who live in the care home. In exchange for cheap rent she spends five hours a week socialising with its more traditional clientele.

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'Spocs' are directing funding to small charities – here's your essential guide

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 06:39:13 GMT2017-06-28T06:39:13Z

Fewer grants and poor commissioning are crippling local voluntary services. A single point of contact model brings charities together to bid for government contracts

Times are tough for small charities. Austerity is largely responsible, but a decline in grant funding and poor commissioning practices (particularly the trend towards bigger and bigger contracts) have contributed. Funding is now falling far faster for small charities than big ones.

This isn’t just bad news for small charities themselves. There is a growing body of evidence that smaller, personalised services produce better outcomes, save money and are extremely popular with service users.

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As time passes, community foundations will help Grenfell Tower residents piece their lives together

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:46:35 GMT2017-06-26T10:46:35Z

We are bridges people can rely on for support, not only in the immediate aftermath of the fire but also long term to ensure their voices are heard

Listening to the words of the charity single released for the victims of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, I have the answer to two questions I’ve been asked many times in the last fortnight. Why do community foundations get involved in disaster relief? What is it we provide that others don’t?

Community foundations are bridges that people can rely on for support. We help people to invest in local communities where it is most needed. Each foundation has an in-depth understanding of their local area, what the priorities are and how best to address them. Our connections with local charities and community groups mean we are able to direct donations to where they will make the most difference locally. And that support is there not only in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, but also for the long term.

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'It was a revelation': why I did a degree in fundraising | Brogan Rehill

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 07:03:03 GMT2017-06-26T07:03:03Z

Scandals have eroded trust in charities, so I hope my BA in charity development is one step towards making the whole sector much more professional

I am just about to graduate from the very first undergraduate degree in fundraising, set up at the University of Chichester in 2014, after the Institute of Fundraising highlighted that there was not a single one in the UK or US.

The last two years in fundraising have been difficult. There have been a series of scandals – the collapse of Kids Company, then Olive Cooke – and it has eroded public trust in charities. The Institute of Fundraising was stripped of its responsibility for setting professional standards and the regulator closed down.

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Two Shelter board members quit after Grenfell Tower fire

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 19:09:26 GMT2017-06-23T19:09:26Z

Chairman Sir Derek Myers and trustee Tony Rice resign amid internal disquiet over charity’s response to disaster

Two board members of the housing charity Shelter, including its chairman Sir Derek Myers, have resigned amid reports of internal disquiet over the organisation’s allegedly muted response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

Myers is a former chief executive of Kensington and Chelsea council, which owns Grenfell Tower, while trustee Tony Rice is chairman of Xerxes Equity, the sole shareholder in Omnis Exteriors – the company that sold the cladding used in the tower.

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Architects know Grenfell Tower fire was an avoidable tragedy | Deon Lombard

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 09:07:34 GMT2017-06-17T09:07:34Z

Building control departments in councils have been left toothless and eviscerated while the authority of fire officers and architects has been weakened in favour of profit. Look where that has got us.

I am an architect in private practice with considerable experience in the design and delivery of a range of buildings in London, including high-rise residential buildings. The terrible Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington was entirely avoidable.

It was not an act of God, but the tragic outcome of a growing void in the responsibility, expertise and single oversight of large construction projects. This has largely come about due to the breaking up of what I would call the triple safety lock around project delivery.

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The government responded swiftly to 7/7. What went wrong at Grenfell Tower? | Melanie Henwood

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 07:36:24 GMT2017-06-21T07:36:24Z

All emergency situations are different, but the response to the tower block fire has exposed huge failings in both central and local government

Since the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower there has been mounting criticism of the government’s response and support for survivors, which has appeared haphazard, poorly coordinated and singularly lacking in leadership.

The prime minister acknowledged at the weekend that support on the ground and basic information for people affected was not good enough. It is vital that any public inquiry examines the response and support since the fire.

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Public leaders recognised in Queen's birthday honours

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 21:30:20 GMT2017-06-16T21:30:20Z

Police officers, firefighters and civil servants, as well as staff in the health and not-for-profit sectors, are among 1,109 people to receive honours

The Queen’s birthday honours, published on 16 June, recognise the contributions of 1,109 people, including public service leaders, frontline staff and those working in not-for-profit organisations. .

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My Belgian city shows we are not defenceless against terror | Bart Somers

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 06:11:51 GMT2017-06-14T06:11:51Z

In Mechelen, we are fighting to prevent individuals being radicalised by creating safe, clean neighbourhoods and avoiding groupthink

There is no single easy way to prevent jihadist terrorism. But we are not defenceless.

Important as they are, security-focused measures are not enough. They will not stop lone wolves who decide to throw away their lives whilst slaughtering innocent people. For real success, we must prevent individuals being radicalised in the first place. That is far less difficult than to try to de-radicalise someone.

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Why I've changed my mind about carrying a gun | Anonymous police officer

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 13:04:37 GMT2017-06-05T13:04:37Z

As a police officer for 20 years and a firearms commander for seven, I know it would cost millions to arm more officers – but we should start talking about it

I’ve been a police officer for 20 years. When I joined the service I resolved that if I was ever required to carry a gun, I would leave. But over the past two decades I’ve changed my mind.

I’ve been a firearms commander for seven years now and have led countless armed operations to keep our streets safe, utilising highly trained specialist firearms officers. They are without doubt the most professional group of people it has been my privilege to serve with. But I’ve long worried they are few and far between. Home Office figures show that out of 126,766 police officers in England and Wales, only 5,639 are authorised to use guns. That is less than 5%.

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Confusion after No 10 backtracks on end to public sector pay cap

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 18:48:41 GMT2017-06-28T18:48:41Z

PM’s spokesman insists annual 1% pay rise cap remains in place, hours after source suggested it could be eased

Government hints at a possible end to the cap on pay rises for public sector workers have descended into utter confusion after Downing Street rapidly changed tack, insisting that the policy of limiting annual rises to 1% would remain in place.

Hours after a senior Conservative source indicated that ministers would review the cap at the next budget, saying people were “weary” after years of belt-tightening, Theresa May’s spokesman said this was not the case. “The government policy has not changed,” he told a No 10 briefing, repeating the phrase or variants of it 16 times as he was pressed on how this could tally with the earlier comments.

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‘Alcoholism continues long after you stop drinking': my 15 years sober

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 09:00:03 GMT2017-06-24T09:00:03Z

Tanya Gold used drink to drown out the destructive voice inside her head. Will she ever fully recover?

It is easy to get morphine in University College hospital, London, if you are a good liar. It hurts, you tell the midwife, although you can’t feel anything, being so high on morphine already that someone could hit you with a sledgehammer and you would only laugh: what else you got? It was close to midnight on 13 August 2013, and I was on medical-grade opiates; nothing else can make you forget you are about to give birth. Eleven years without alcohol or drugs, and I fell, complete, into the waiting groove. I loved it. I was having a party in the high-risk maternity ward and they didn’t even know it. I lay back on my pillow and gurned with joy: oh, Morpheus, god of dreams.

When the morphine ran out, I had a baby. He was very small and handsome, and he was an imposition. I could say I was frightened, but that would be self-serving. It is possible, even likely, that I was afraid. I was definitely high.

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UK public are more dissatisfied than ever with NHS, poll shows

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 23:01:43 GMT2017-06-25T23:01:43Z

Head of BMA to reveal survey shows more people unhappy with NHS than satisfied for first time, and 82% worried for future

More people are unhappy with the NHS than satisfied for the first time in a poll of the public run by Britain’s doctors, and 70% say they think the health service is going in the wrong direction.

The growing public concern will be revealed by Dr Mark Porter, leader of the British Medical Association, who will tell his annual representative meeting in Bournemouth on Monday that the government is “trying to keep the health service running on nothing but fumes”.

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Trapped by ME, Lynn Gilderdale made it clear she wanted to die

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 21:48:23 GMT2010-01-25T21:48:23Z

• Illness had left daughter completely dependant on parents
• Trial adds to pressure for clarity over assisted suicide law

Live Journal was the one place where Lynn Gilderdale felt safe uttering her deepest, most troubling thoughts. Using a ­specially-designed handheld ­computer, and ­adopting the pseudonym Jessie Oliver, it was on the internet networking forum that she shared her desire to die with her closest friends.

After suffering a severe form of ME which left her bedridden and unable to speak or feed herself for all of her adolescent and adult life, she had decided she was never going to recover, and wanted to ensure her life would end before total degeneration robbed her of all dignity.

Continue reading...Lynn Gilderdale, who was struck down by ME after a BCG vaccination at the age of 14. Photograph: Sussex Police/PALynn Gilderdale, who was struck down by ME after a BCG vaccination at the age of 14. Photograph: Sussex Police/PA


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‘We didn’t recognise that he was dangerous’: our father killed our mother and sister

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 10:00:35 GMT2017-06-17T10:00:35Z

Last summer, Lance Hart shot dead his wife, daughter and himself, four days after the family had left him. His sons talk frankly about life before and after

On a warm summer day last July, Claire Hart and her 19-year-old daughter Charlotte went for an early morning swim at their local leisure centre in Spalding, Lincolnshire. It was a trip they made often, just a short drive from their home in the village of Moulton. Claire’s son Ryan had recently bought his mother a swimming pass as a present.

At 9am on 19 July, mother and daughter left the pool and made their way back across the car park to their blue Toyota Aygo. As they approached the car, a man crawled out from underneath it: Claire’s husband and Charlotte’s father, Lance Hart, whom the pair had left five days earlier. Now he held up a single-barrel shotgun and shot Claire three times. He then reloaded the gun and shot his daughter, before turning the gun on himself.

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