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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: Fri, 21 Jul 2017 21:00:48 GMT2017-07-21T21:00:48Z

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

Grenfell: council made more on two house sales than it spent on cladding

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:18:46 GMT2017-07-20T15:18:46Z

Records reveal Kensington council raised £4.5m from sale of two homes but spent only £3.5m on cladding for 120 homes in doomed tower

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) last year raised more money from the sale of two council houses in the rich south of the borough than it spent on the devastated Grenfell Tower’s new cladding, financial records obtained by the Guardian have revealed.

The contrast between the council’s wealth and its drive to cut costs on the tower refurbishment has been laid bare in council documents that reveal the Conservative-controlled council raised £4.5m from the sale of two three-bedroom houses in affluent Chelsea. It spent just £3.5m on the whole of the cut-price cladding system for 120 homes, which burned with such ferocity last month in a blaze that claimed at least 80 lives.

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Care failings contributed to death of woman in prison, inquest finds

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:47:30 GMT2017-07-20T16:47:30Z

Concerns raised about suicide monitoring and mental health at inquest into death of Sarah Reed who took her life in Holloway

A jury at the inquest of Sarah Reed, a mentally ill prisoner at HMP Holloway who took her life at the jail last year, has identified serious shortcomings in her care.

Reed was in prison awaiting medical reports about whether she was mentally fit to plead after being charged with assaulting a nurse in a secure psychiatric unit. The reports found she was unfit to plead, but Reed killed herself three days before they were due to be completed.

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The real cost of regeneration

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 05:00:09 GMT2017-07-21T05:00:09Z

When private developers move in, the first eviction is accountability – then tenants’ complaints procedures and safety. Zoe Williams reveals the truth about for-profit council estates

By 2004, Myatts Field North in Lambeth, south London, was a byword for what goes wrong on a housing estate. It had been poorly maintained; the interiors were shabby. Garages had become hazardous and were out of bounds; shared spaces were desolate and only teenagers and children used them, “engaged in nothing very positive”, according to a council report at the time. (There’s a book to be written about what a teenager would have to engage in to be found “positive” by someone from the council – writing code? Singing gospel? – but some other time.) So when Lambeth proposed a regeneration, demolishing and rebuilding 305 homes, refurbishing 172, residents voted in favour by a modest majority.

It took years to iron out the financing, but work began on the £150m regeneration in 2012. Since then, residents of the refurbished units have complained of bad design, faulty wiring, floods and power outages, damp, and poor workmanship. Fire hazards have been flagged but not investigated, belongings ruined and compensation not delivered, or delivered inadequately after incomprehensible delays. Safety and complaints procedures have been lamentable, helplines unresponsive, emergency helplines not always working. Some of the estate’s right-to-buy owners – theoretically the big winners in Margaret Thatcher’s great vision for social housing – have spent years trying to rearrange their mortgages for flats in the new development. One homeowner, working two jobs to service punishing new interest rates, dropped dead of a heart attack.

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Contaminated blood inquiry runs into trouble as victims boycott consultation

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 06:00:10 GMT2017-07-21T06:00:10Z

Officials forced to rethink plans as all key campaign groups refuse to attend meeting due to involvement of Department of Health

Ministers are working on a plan to rescue the troubled inquiry into contaminated blood after none of the victims of the scandal turned up to its first consultation meeting.

All the key campaign groups boycotted the meeting because of the involvement of the Department of Health. Survivors lack trust in the department and its officials after fighting for 30 years for an investigation into how contaminated blood transfusions infected thousands of people with hepatitis C and HIV.

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Drug dealers find new ways to sell spice to evade police crackdown

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:07:45 GMT2017-07-20T13:07:45Z

Researchers in Manchester say drug is being sold in variety of forms including cigarettes dipped in vials of the chemical

Drug dealers are finding “innovative ways” of circumventing a police crackdown on the sale of the banned drug spice, according to drugs experts.

Academics at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), who are researching the rise of the drug, and local charity workers told the Guardian a shift is occurring in how spice is circulated in Manchester.

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Lifestyle changes could prevent a third of dementia cases, report suggests

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 04:00:10 GMT2017-07-20T04:00:10Z

Researchers admit prevention estimate is a ‘best-case scenario’, but stress that action can be taken to reduce dementia risk

More than a third of dementia cases might be avoided by tackling aspects of lifestyle including education, exercise, blood pressure and hearing, a new report suggests.

Approximately 45 million people worldwide were thought to be living with dementia in 2015, at an estimated cost of $818bn.

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UK has not taken in any child refugees under Dubs scheme this year

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 14:57:41 GMT2017-07-19T14:57:41Z

Government accused of dragging its feet as immigration minister faces cross-party criticism transfers from Europe too slow

Home Office ministers have tried to deflect cross-party anger as it emerged that not a single extra lone child refugee has been brought to Britain from Europe under the “Dubs amendment” this year.

The immigration minister, Brandon Lewis, met accusations that the government was “dragging its feet” by disclosing he will visit Italy and Greece next week to follow up the invitation to refer eligible children to be brought to Britain.

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Thousands of mental health patients spend years on secure wards

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 23:01:04 GMT2017-07-19T23:01:04Z

Critics condemn ‘Victorian approach’ to treatment after NHS watchdog reveals 3,500 patients are kept locked in

Thousands of mental health patients are being kept in secure wards for years at a time when they should be being rehabilitated and preparing to leave hospital, a NHS watchdog has revealed.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) criticised both NHS and for-profit mental health providers for forcing such a large number of patients to endure what it called “outdated and sometimes institutionalised care”, often miles from home. The practice leaves already vulnerable patients feeling isolated and less likely to recover, the CQC warned.

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Half of pupils expelled from school have mental health issue, study finds

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 23:01:04 GMT2017-07-19T23:01:04Z

IPPR thinktank says permanently excluded children in England face significant disadvantage because of ‘broken system’

Half of all pupils expelled from school are suffering from a recognised mental health problem, according to a study.

Those who are permanently excluded find themselves at a significant disadvantage, with only one in a hundred going on to attain five good GCSEs, which are often used as a benchmark of academic success.

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'It's too expensive': your views on the morning-after pill in the UK

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 13:56:53 GMT2017-07-21T13:56:53Z

Boots has refused to reduce the price of emergency contraception, despite campaigners persuading other pharmacies to drop the cost

The chemist Boots has been criticised for not lowering the cost of the morning-after pill because of fears it would encourage over-use. This comes despite the fact campaigners persuaded other pharmacies to cut the cost of emergency contraception in half.

It has prompted calls for people to boycott the high-street pharmacy chain. We asked for our readers’ views. Here is what you said.

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The morning-after pill: what it costs and where to get it

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:36:59 GMT2017-07-21T11:36:59Z

Boots has refused to reduce the price, but other retailers have, while NHS walk-in clinics will give it to you for free

Boots has been criticised after it refused to lower the cost of the morning-after pill because of fears it would encourage “inappropriate use”. It comes after campaigners persuaded other pharmacies to cut the cost of emergency contraception in half.

It highlights the varying cost of the pill, with British women forced to pay up to five times more than their European peers for the contraceptive.

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Do you think the morning-after pill is too expensive in the UK?

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 09:47:22 GMT2017-07-21T09:47:22Z

Boots has been criticised for refusing to reduce the cost of emergency contraception. We want to hear from our readers about this

Boots has been criticised for refusing to lower the cost of the morning-after pill for fear it would “incentivising inappropriate use”.

It comes after a campaign from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), a leading provider of abortion care, prompted Tesco and Superdrug to halve the price of the emergency contraceptive. The chemist Boots, however, did not follow in this move for fears of encouraging over-use.

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Victoria's proposal on assisted dying is careful and rigorous. Let the debate begin

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 07:43:31 GMT2017-07-21T07:43:31Z

There are 68 safeguards to protect against misuse but, regardless of the degree of detail, the issue remains deeply ideological

The detailed proposals for a Victorian assisted dying law for people with advanced and incurable illnesses are cautious, and that is deliberate. More than 40 similar proposals have failed in various states since the Northern Territory’s short-lived laws were overturned by the federal parliament in 1997.

New South Wales is also considering a bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying, but Victoria has had a lengthy, even laborious process. Critically, it is a government-sponsored process. Professor Brian Owler, a former head of the Australian Medical Association and the chairman of the expert panel which released its report on Friday, delivered his recommendations to the health minister, Jill Hennessy.

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Victoria euthanasia laws: report outlines path for terminally ill to end own lives

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 05:45:03 GMT2017-07-21T05:45:03Z

Proposed framework, described as ‘most conservative in the world’, could give patients access to lethal medication within 10 days of making first request

Terminally ill Victorians with 12 months left to live will be able to legally end their own lives under a proposed assisted dying framework, described as the “most conservative in the world”.

On Friday, an independent panel chaired by the former Australian Medical Association head Brian Owler handed down its recommendations to the Victorian government on how best to implement voluntary euthanasia legislation.

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'This doesn't get to be over for me': the rape case that put consent on trial

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 18:00:27 GMT2017-07-20T18:00:27Z

It took Richard Ackland more than two months to get the full judgment in the Luke Lazarus rape case. It reveals a case where alcohol, innocence and the law collided

It took the Guardian more than two months to get hold of the full judgment in the Luke Lazarus case, the distressing and polarising trial that saw the son of the owner of Sydney’s Soho bar first convicted, and then acquitted, of the rape of an 18-year-old girl in an alleyway in 2013.

For a while, open justice looked decidedly wobbly. Judge Robyn Tupman’s judgment came down on 4 May and we asked for a copy of her reasons shortly afterwards. Sorry, came the reply, Her Honour has gone on leave and needs to check the transcript.

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Haringey council is doing what residents tell us they want | Letter from Cllr Alan Strickland

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:55:22 GMT2017-07-20T17:55:22Z

Cllr Alan Strickland says Haringey’s regeneration plans have been developed only after lengthy consultation with residents

Anna Minton’s article (How developers carve up our cities, 14 July) completely fails to recognise that Haringey’s regeneration plans have been developed after years of conversations and consultation with residents.

In 2013, an organisation called Soundings started speaking to residents about Tottenham – details of this ongoing work, which now includes views from 4,000 people and informs our subsequent plans, can be found quite easily on our website:

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Six ways to assert power beyond the ballot box | Paul Maassen

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 06:21:11 GMT2017-07-21T06:21:11Z

Citizens everywhere are shaping government policies, tackling corruption and even improving air quality

  • Paul Maassen is director of civil society engagement at the Open Government Partnership

Elections are key milestones for democratic engagement, and referendums such as the UK’s Brexit poll are innovative ways for citizens to be more directly involved in the decision-making process.

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Councillors fear abuse – Grenfell residents are used to it

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 06:03:10 GMT2017-07-21T06:03:10Z

Kensington and Chelsea borough provides an extreme example of what happens when inequality is entrenched by council decisions

On Wednesday evening, I attended the first open council meeting of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC) since the Grenfell Tower fire. The last meeting barred the public and, initially, the press until a court order demanded we be let in – then the meeting was adjourned due to our presence. On Wednesday, locals queued outside but were told there was limited space so most would be able to watch only by videolink. The journalists were patted down by security guards and had our bags searched before being allowed into the chamber.

Related: Grenfell fire survivors heckle Kensington and Chelsea council leader

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Punishing people for poverty won't make the complexities go away | Catherine Yeomans

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 00:15:02 GMT2017-07-21T00:15:02Z

The government’s proposed welfare reforms will push already vulnerable people further into poverty and increase stigma around addiction

  • Catherine Yeomans is the chief executive officer of Mission Australia

The federal government has put forward further cuts to our social security system that will make life more difficult for many vulnerable Australians who are already struggling to survive.

In a speech delivered yesterday, Alan Tudge, the minister for human services, proposed that reducing “welfare dependency” is a critical component of the government’s reform agenda. The minister argued that the proposed changes to our social security system will improve the lives of the people targeted; that they are for their own good and based on principles of “mutual obligation”.

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I'm a paramedic who has considered suicide and I'm not getting support

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 09:14:31 GMT2017-07-20T09:14:31Z

Yes we do a traumatic job but what makes it worse is a harmful management culture

When I was 15, a teacher found me during lunch break and asked if she could have a word. Confused, as I was generally well behaved, I followed her to the office. I was told that a close friend of mine had been found by his parents that morning hanging in his bedroom. He was in intensive care at the local hospital but his family had been asked to prepare for the possibility that he would die shortly. Growing up, the ideas of major depressive illnesses, self-harm and suicide were almost entirely foreign to me.

People often ask whether this was what motivated me to enter healthcare at 17 and eventually land in my current position as a paramedic by 20. Frankly, I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that while suicide was a foreign concept to me at 15, it certainly isn’t now.

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Kensington and Chelsea may be rich, but it has no money for housing | Martin Wicks

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 06:25:10 GMT2017-07-20T06:25:10Z

Government policy means Kensington and Chelsea had £274m in reserves, but an £87m housing deficit – and other councils are in the same boat

Many events and decisions have come under scrutiny in light of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe. These include the use flammable cladding, compromised compartmentation and inadequate building regulations. But another issue that deserves public scrutiny is the fact that the borough’s housing account is in debt.

Kensington and Chelsea is a rich borough that should have been able to avoid the disaster at Grenfell Tower, partly because of the £274m in reserves it is said to have.

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'Housing first' could entrench youth homelessness | Paul Noblet

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 06:50:37 GMT2017-07-19T06:50:37Z

Sunderland council’s decision to end hostel-based accommodation for young people in favour of a housing first approach is worrying

Centrepoint’s contract to provide supported accommodation for homeless young people with Sunderland city council ended last week. Instead, the council has chosen to adopt a “housing first” approach. But there is little evidence that the model, developed in the US for adults with high support needs, works for young people.

The housing first approach has been a success in some areas, particularly for long-term rough sleepers with multiple and complex needs, including alcohol and drug dependency. It places someone in their own private sector tenancy with intensive, tailored support around them to address these issues.

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Local government has stayed stuck in the past on women | Dame Jane Roberts

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 06:09:12 GMT2017-07-19T06:09:12Z

In nearly 10 years since my report on councils, it is deeply depressing that so little has changed. Men are still clinging on to power

The recent report from the Fawcett Society on women in local government makes deeply depressing reading. How little has changed in the nearly 10 years since a report by the Councillors Commission, which I chaired, was published in December 2007. In some ways, things have got worse.

The Fawcett Society report demonstrates that in terms of representation, local government remains stuck in the past. If only it would take a long, hard look at itself.

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We need more environmental activists to save our green spaces | Patrick Barkham

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 06:05:12 GMT2017-07-19T06:05:12Z

Cuts have decimated council funding for parks but, as a new report shows, there is a great green blob of people who want to get involved – let’s use them

Like many people who care about the environment, I’m sometimes guilty of assuming that others don’t care enough to take grassroots action. My prejudices are shared by 64% of environmental activists, who think other people don’t join them because “they believe someone else will take care of it”. But we are wrong. A report by the Fabian Society that follows focus groups in three cities finds that a potentially great green blob – an environmentally aware one-third of society – never coalesces around local campaigns because of a lack of information, a lack of people asking them to help, cliquey campaigners and activities that aren’t family friendly.

Related: What is the green blob, and what is it doing to poor environment ministers?

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Gwenton Sloley: ‘You can cause a lifetime of damage with acid for under £3’ | Mary O’Hara

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 13:03:00 GMT2017-07-18T13:03:00Z

A former gang member turned government adviser says austerity is making it harder to tackle the surge in violent attacks

Gwenton Sloley, 33, a former gang member, prisoner and now community outreach worker, has been speaking out about the need for a concerted effort to tackle the root causes of rising violent crime. Otherwise, an already volatile situation could get worse, he says. There has been a steep surge in gun and knife crime in the capital (up by 42% and 24% respectively since 2016, according to Metropolitan police figures). And concern is growing about the number of children carrying knives, and increasing acid attacks.

Related: Surge in acid attacks in England leads to calls to restrict sales

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Music and poetry aren’t luxuries: they literally saved my life | Sam Walker

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 13:00:22 GMT2017-07-18T13:00:22Z

Doctors and healthcare professionals need to listen to young people and open up to the health and wellbeing benefits that the arts can bring

I’ve suffered from severe anxiety and depression since the age of 20. I tried again and again with many approaches to fight back against mental illness: therapy and exercise; cognitive behavioural therapy; medication; trying to be more open with the people closest to me. All of these things helped in different ways but they didn’t completely fix me.

Towards the end of my 20s I couldn’t cope. On numerous occasions I fantasised about taking my own life. I was in a lot of pain but it was a pain that nobody else could see, so it didn’t feel justifiable to me. It didn’t feel like it should have been there.

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Public Service Awards 2017: deadline extended to 24 July 2017

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 14:45:40 GMT2017-07-13T14:45:40Z

Public service projects and teams have an extra 10 days to finalise their entries in this year’s awards

Organisations wishing to enter the 2017 Guardian Public Service Awards will have extra time to do so now the deadline for entries has been extended to 24 July.
The awards, supported by EY, are free to enter and reward excellence across 10 categories. The best individual public servant of the year will be recognised, and this year we are also making an award for leadership excellence, alongside specific areas including care, employee health and wellbeing, housing, learning and development, use of technology, and many more.

Related: Guardian Public Service Awards 2017: categories and criteria

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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
24 July 2017: Extended deadline for entries - entries close at midnight
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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Grindr, virtual reality and vlogging: new ways to talk about sexual health

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 08:53:57 GMT2017-07-21T08:53:57Z

From Georgia to India, social media and apps are teaching young people about sex and relationships

Almost half the world’s population is online and billions of young people use social media. So why doesn’t more sex education happen across these channels? The first Global Advisory Board for Sexual Health and Wellbeing brings together a group of individuals who are using innovative ways to reach more people with information about sex and relationships. Here are some of the projects they’ve been working on:

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Sierra Leone: teenage girls are dying from unsafe abortions and risky pregnancies

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 11:23:48 GMT2017-07-20T11:23:48Z

Abortion is illegal in Sierra Leone, with one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the world. Attitudes need to change to save the lives of young girls

I recently saw a girl in clinic with terrible complications following a caesarean section. The operation had been botched and she had an infection around her uterus. She was in terrible pain and critically unwell. This was in the children’s clinic; the girl was 14 years old.

This scenario is all too common. She is just one of the thousands of adolescent girls estimated to have become pregnant this year in Sierra Leone. In 2013 the country had the 7th highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world, 38% of women aged 20-24 had their first baby before the age of 18. Sierra Leone is by no means an exception. Worldwide teenage pregnancy is a huge issue, 11% of births globally are to women aged 15-19, with the majority of these taking place in low- and middle-income countries.

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Nursing shortages fuelling delayed discharge from hospital

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 08:12:14 GMT2017-07-20T08:12:14Z

Falling number of district and other community nurses as big a factor as social care blockages, analysis finds

There is no doubt that delays in arranging follow-on social care are causing more older people to be stranded in hospital. But a new analysis of the problem says shortage of district nurses is at least as big a factor.

The number of district nurses in the UK has plummeted by 44% since 2010 when counted as full-time jobs, according to the analysis of NHS data by consultancy Christie & Co (pdf).

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Call for tighter checks on private hospitals used by NHS after MRSA case

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 06:00:13 GMT2017-07-20T06:00:13Z

Labour MP Louise Haigh cites case of young patient who contracted infection while on mental health ward in Sheffield

Theresa May has been urged to tighten checks on private hospitals used by the NHS after a Labour MP raised the case of a young patient with an open wound who contracted MRSA on a private mental health ward.

Louise Haigh, a Labour frontbencher, called for the NHS to thoroughly investigate the quality of care before it commissions beds and treatment from private providers.

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When life is a fate worse than death

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 05:00:11 GMT2017-07-20T05:00:11Z

Why are so many doctors opposed to assisted death? As a practising physician, Haider Javed Warraich has witnessed both sides of this gruelling battleground

Karen Ann Quinlan lived two lives. Her first life was that of a regular middle-class girl in Scranton, Pennsylvania: she swam, she skied, she dated, she attended mass with her family, she went to high school, and she worked at a local ceramics company. However, this life changed after she was laid off from her job. Soon after, she found herself moving from job to job, and increasingly found comfort in sedative pills and alcohol.

On the night of 14 April 1975, Karen, who had just turned 21, was partying with her friends at a bar close to Lake Lackawanna. In the days prior to this, she had barely eaten or drunk, as she was trying to fit into a dress. In the bar, she drank gin and also took some tranquillisers. At some point during the night at the bar, she collapsed. One of her friends took her back to the house where she had been living with a group of friends. It was there that someone noticed that Karen had stopped breathing.

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HPV vaccine: anger over decision not to extend NHS scheme to boys

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 18:09:53 GMT2017-07-19T18:09:53Z

Health bodies condemn panel’s conclusion that more jabs against cancer-causing infection are unlikely to be cost-effective

A decision not to vaccinate boys against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted infection has been condemned by health bodies and campaigners.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has been reviewing the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination programme, concluded that it was “highly unlikely to be cost-effective” to extend the scheme to include adolescent boys as well as girls.

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Lack of trust in health department could derail blood contamination inquiry

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 18:06:50 GMT2017-07-19T18:06:50Z

Campaign groups ‘universally reject’ implicated department’s role overseeing inquiry into how contaminated blood transfusions infected thousands

Theresa May’s inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal appears to be faltering, after key campaign groups said they would boycott an initial meeting because they lack faith in the Department of Health.

At least 10 leading campaign groups and the Haemophilia Society are all refusing to attend a meeting on Thursday to consult them about the establishment of the inquiry, because they do not want the department implicated in the scandal to oversee the process.

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NHS England 'urgently needs 2,200 more A&E consultants'

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 16:51:43 GMT2017-07-19T16:51:43Z

Royal College of Emergency Medicine says hospitals must more than double current number of consultants to ensure safe care

Hospitals are being urged to urgently more than double the number of consultants on duty in A&E units in order to ensure that patients receive safe care. The NHS in England must recruit 2,200 extra A&E consultants in the next five years, more than the 1,632 who already work there, according to the body representing emergency medicine doctors.

The increase is needed to help the NHS avoid the sort of winter crisis that occurred last winter and to stop A&E doctors quitting due to burnout, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) claims. Dr Taj Hassan, the college’s president, said the costs of such a dramatic rise could be covered by redirecting the £400m a year hospitals currently have to spend on locum and agency A&E doctors as a result of understaffing.

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MS treatments: life-changing, but hard to access

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 08:36:45 GMT2017-07-19T08:36:45Z

Therapies for multiple sclerosis are becoming more effective. But an underfunded NHS is struggling to provide timely diagnosis and make the latest treatments widely available

More than 100,000 people in the UK have multiple sclerosis (MS), the most common cause of serious physical disability in working age adults, according to the MS guidelines set out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Although the condition is regarded as relatively rare and public awareness of it is low, recent innovations in treating and assessing MS are creating a fresh focus on the disease. Research suggests, for example, that MRI scans – already used in diagnosis – may be useful in predicting how MS will progress. In addition, a new drug therapy just approved in the US offers help for symptoms in the most chronic form of the condition. But, given that the drug has yet to be licensed in Europe, can the UK keep up with the latest innovations in the treatment of MS?

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Need a wheelchair? Pay for it yourself

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 06:30:13 GMT2017-07-19T06:30:13Z

A fourfold increase in the number of disabled people forced to use a crowdfunding site to buy their wheelchair undermines a basic tenet of the NHS, campaigners say

“I feel like a prisoner who every now and again is let out on day release,” Kelly Palmer, 38, says from her home in Newport, south Wales.

Palmer has Marfan Syndrome – a genetic condition that affects ligaments and organs – as well as fibromyalgia and needs a power wheelchair full-time. But when she approached her GP to apply for a chair after her health deteriorated, she was told she wasn’t eligible. Even though her disability means she can’t propel a manual wheelchair, she didn’t meet the threshold to qualify for a power chair. “There was no help,” she says. “It was just ‘goodbye’.”

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First double hand transplant involving a child declared a success

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 22:30:03 GMT2017-07-18T22:30:03Z

Zion Harvey had procedure in US in 2015 and can now use scissors and play baseball, but report highlights his difficult recovery

After almost 11 hours of surgery involving four teams of doctors, Zion Harvey had earned his place in medical history. The eight-year-old had become the first child in the world to receive two new hands in a procedure that seemed to herald a revolution in transplant medicine.

Related: UK's first double hand transplant patient delights in writing letter to thank surgeon

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Care leavers' feedback has the power to change services | Jimmy Paul

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 07:51:35 GMT2017-07-19T07:51:35Z

Two reviews want to hear from children and adults with experience of the care system

  • Jimmy Paul is a care experienced adult

People who have experienced care remain one of the most neglected and stigmatised groups in society. Their outcomes continue to be poor compared with peers who have not been in care, from education to homelessness, prison populations to mental health.

It is increasingly understood that this is a failure of the system, not of young people themselves. The narrative is changing and further progress should be made now that a root and branch review of the Scottish care system has been announced, supported by the 1000 Voices campaign. In England, a fostering inquiry is under way.

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Castro's casa: social work lessons from Cuba

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 10:46:21 GMT2017-07-18T10:46:21Z

Social workers defy poverty, foster social justice and prevent social problems leading to poor health by supporting the oldest population in Latin America

In a street of salmon and teal painted houses, once home to wealthy colonial administrators, sits the Casa del Abuelo. Now a community centre providing free day services for older inhabitants of the neighbourhood, Casa del Abuelo – or home for grandparents – was the first of many such facilities set up by Fidel Castro during a wave of social reforms to provide care and support for ordinary Cubans after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US economic blockade crippled the country’s economy.

The warm pastel colours of the building and Cuban flag fluttering in the humid Caribbean breeze accord well with the gentle kindheartedness I found inside.

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What is being done to tackle the NHS workforce crisis?

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 07:35:16 GMT2017-07-18T07:35:16Z

The health and care sectors need to challenge the government but also look at how to retain people through better quality workplaces

  • Danny Mortimer is chief executive of NHS Employers

Concerns about the health and social care workforce are at an all-time high due, in part, to the impact of austerity, Brexit and the lessons learned from the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal.

There has been a 96% drop in the number of EU nurses registering to work in the UK. Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) figures published in June showed a marked decline from a high of 1,304 in July 2016, to 344 in September, and then just 46 EU nurse registrants in April 2017.

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Rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010, research shows

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 23:01:03 GMT2017-07-17T23:01:03Z

Sir Michael Marmot, a former government adviser, highlights ‘miserly’ levels of spending on health and social care

A century-long rise in life expectancy has stalled since 2010 when austerity brought about deep cuts in NHS and social care spending, according to research by a former government adviser on the links between poverty and ill-health.

Related: Now we find out the real cost of austerity – our lives cut short | Owen Jones

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Fewer staff, dwindling services: how austerity has hit child protection | Bernard Gallagher

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 08:28:17 GMT2017-07-17T08:28:17Z

Government cuts have had a devastating impact, with hundreds of centres and refuges closing while referrals increase

The UK faces a massively altered political landscape as a result of Theresa May’s botched general election manoeuvres. Suddenly everything seems up for grabs – nothing more so than austerity. This presents the perfect opportunity to scrutinise some of the damaging, if not dangerous, cuts enacted by Conservative-led governments since 2010.

Each of these governments might claim to have been committed to child protection, as evidenced by measures they have taken in response to child sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and violence against girls and women more generally.

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Charities and voluntourism fuelling 'orphanage crisis' in Haiti, says NGO

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 09:27:42 GMT2017-07-14T09:27:42Z

Charitable donations and volunteers from abroad are supporting Haitian orphanages where children are vulnerable to abuse, a report finds

Charitable givers from the US who believe they are helping Haitian orphans are instead funding the abuse and neglect of children at orphanages in the Caribbean country, a report from the NGO Lumos has found.

At least 30,000 children live in privately-run orphanages in Haiti, a country that has suffered multiple natural disasters displacing many families.

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Social work education is in crisis – we must act urgently | Ray Jones

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 09:09:07 GMT2017-07-14T09:09:07Z

Where will the social workers of the future come from? Debt is deterring students while universities are withdrawing courses

We need to talk about social work education. Indeed, we need two conversations. One is urgent and must be held and concluded now. The other should start quickly, but be given time.

The first is about the imminent threat to university social work students and to social work education. It is only weeks before the new intake of students should be arriving but, for the second year running, the government has not yet announced what bursaries will be available for those studying social work from September.

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Hard cash is needed to make social housing residents feel safe | Dawn Foster

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 07:22:23 GMT2017-07-14T07:22:23Z

Even after the terrible tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire, central government is still refusing to fund councils and housing associations to do their job

In the Commons on Wednesday, MPs debated issues surrounding the Grenfell Tower fire, one month on. The scope of the public inquiry, the need to prioritise survivors and bereaved relatives, and the imperative pursuit of justice were all discussed.

But Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield Attercliffe and chair of the communities and local government select committee, raised a particularly crucial point. In the aftermath of the inferno, councils and housing associations across the country were encouraged to send cladding materials to be tested for combustibility and fire safety if towers under their jurisdiction had been clad. Every single sample has so far failed tests. Betts pointed out the mixed messages from housing minister Alok Sharma and other Conservatives on what happens next. Councils were initially told the cost of removing and replacing the cladding would be met in full by the government. Now, local authorities have been informed they will have costs refunded only if they can’t afford to pay.

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Housing people fast is five times cheaper than homelessness | Matt Downie

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 10:43:56 GMT2017-07-12T10:43:56Z

Our research in Liverpool shows the potential benefits of giving homeless people housing first

For John*, having his own front door has made a world of difference. When our researchers met him, he had finally found a rented home after being homeless for more than five years. Now he is being supported in his own home by local homeless services.

John first became homeless after his landlord sold the house where he was living. Suffering with depression and alcohol dependency, he became homeless and ended up living in a local shelter.

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How Denmark has helped homeless young people | Britta Martinsen

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 07:07:05 GMT2017-07-10T07:07:05Z

Our municipality now works with volunteers, housing specialists and social workers to give young homeless people all the support they need

Since 2009, the national Danish strategy for tackling homelessness has been the housing first approach. We know it works – but it has not always worked well for our young people.

Housing first, which has also been used in Finland, involves substantial support from social care teams. We know from the figures we’ve collected that it works: of the 1,500 or so people in Denmark supported through the housing first scheme, nine out of 10 have been able to keep their own home. Although we have seen an increase in homelessness in Denmark, the rise has been considerably lower in municipalities that have used the housing first approach compared with those that have not.

Continue reading...Esbjerg municipality has worked with homeless teenagers, to provide them with apartments and support.Esbjerg municipality has worked with homeless teenagers, to provide them with apartments and support.

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Asylum seekers forced into homelessness by paperwork delays, study finds

Sun, 09 Jul 2017 23:01:37 GMT2017-07-09T23:01:37Z

Analysis of 300 recent cases of vulnerable refugees reveals Home Office is missing its own targets to process financial support applications

The government has been accused of routinely denying support to asylum seekers, leaving them homeless and unable to feed their families, following analysis of more than 300 recent cases.

Research conducted by Refugee Action found that the Home Office was missing its own deadlines for finding emergency accommodation for homeless and destitute asylum seekers, and in some cases wrongly refusing those who make claims for emergency assistance.

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Haringey regeneration plan has best interests of communities at its heart | Letters

Sun, 09 Jul 2017 17:08:46 GMT2017-07-09T17:08:46Z

Alan Strickland, Haringey’s cabinet member for housing, says the council’s partnership with private developers will deliver the right result for residents, while Alan Stanton says that the council’s report leaves many far too questions unanswered

• Successful regeneration can never be about just bricks and mortar – it has to have local communities at its heart (How power operates in modern Britain: with absolute contempt, 3 July). Done right, there’s no doubt that regeneration can transform lives by delivering better homes; greater job opportunities; access to the best skills and training, and excellent local facilities, infrastructure and services. The figures here in Haringey are stark – we have more than 3,000 people in temporary accommodation and in just three months this spring, more than 100 children were referred to our social services as a result of either being homeless or living in unsuitable accommodation. We won’t stand for that.

Shackled by the impact of government funding cuts and constraints on borrowing that leave local authorities impotent in the face of mounting housing challenges, we have to find a different way to tackle the housing crisis and create the kind of places that local people want to live. It is for these reasons that councils across the country are exploring new options for funding large-scale regeneration – with partnership schemes being considered and adopted in areas as far afield as Sheffield, Havering and Oxford.

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Why video is the future of learning for charities | Martin Baker

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 06:18:11 GMT2017-07-21T06:18:11Z

The voluntary sector needs to harness the power of video, which allows us to process information 60,000 times faster than text

Today I accessed YouTube at home from my smartphone to learn how to prune an apple tree. It’s a first language for my two boys, whose bedrooms are strewn with homemade catapults, blowpipes and swords whittled from branches that they’ve made following instructions from video tutorials.

Related: Charities could lose a third of staff if they don't get a grip on digital skills

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'Change or die': aid charities told to stop competing for funds or face extinction

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:43:13 GMT2017-07-20T13:43:13Z

As global power and resources shift away from traditional bastions, researchers warn major aid organisations will be sidelined by 2030 unless they change tack

Big aid charities must “change or die” over the next 15 years, according to a report that urges a major shift in focus and an end to rivalry.

The organisations must be prepared to challenge their vested interests and the growing competition for funds, and change their structures, or they will not survive, says the analysis by a consortium of institutions and aid groups.

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Linda Harvey obituary

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:42:52 GMT2017-07-20T13:42:52Z

My sister Linda Harvey and I would often discuss the world’s problems, feeling they were totally beyond our power to rectify, but every now and then Linda, who has died aged 77, would seize hold of an issue – the Biafran famine of the late 1960s was the first I remember – and refuse to let it go.

She took part in CND vigils at military establishments, organised fundraising events for charities including ShelterBox and the RNLI, and got involved with anything, in fact, where she felt that someone should do something to help. Each Christmas Day, she would dash into (and very quickly out of) the sea to raise funds for the NSPCC. Linda’s sense of community was very strong, too, and she put as much effort into creating a local market in her home village, Carnon Downs, near Truro, Cornwall, as into trying to create a fairer world.

Continue reading...Linda Harvey worked for a fairer world and for her local communityLinda Harvey worked for a fairer world and for her local community

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Maggie Roper obituary

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 17:01:31 GMT2017-07-19T17:01:31Z

Fewer than 20 people have been given the freedom of the city of Bath – among the big names are Nelson (1797), Churchill (1950) and Haile Selassie (1954). So when Maggie Roper, who has died aged 78, was informed that she and her husband, Brian, were to be similarly honoured in 2014, she declared: “We must be ‘the highly unlikelies’.”

Far from it. There is hardly a corner of Bath that has not been helped in some way by the Ropers. Since 1979, when they launched their Roper Rhodes bathroom accessories business in the city, the firm’s philanthropic foundation has given several millions to local charities.

Continue reading...Maggie Roper was an indomitable and active Liberal and a founder member of the SDP in BathMaggie Roper was an indomitable and active Liberal and a founder member of the SDP in Bath

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We can cure Alzheimer’s – if we stop ignoring it | Joseph Jebelli

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:20:50 GMT2017-07-19T11:20:50Z

The disease is now the leading cause of death among the oldest people. Given focus and funding, however, Alzheimer’s will yield to science and reason

• Joseph Jebelli is a neuroscientist and author

The terror of Alzheimer’s is that it acts by degrees, and can therefore bewilder family members as much as its victims. Those who first notice the onset of Alzheimer’s in a loved one tell of forgotten names and unsettling behaviour, of car keys found in the fridge and clothing in the kitchen cabinet, of aimless wanderings.

Naturally, they want to understand the boundaries of normal ageing and whether these are being crossed. Often, the answer arrives when they’re greeted as complete strangers, when the patient’s mind becomes irrevocably unmoored from its past. The disease is terrifying for its insidiousness as well as its long-term manifestations.

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Pride, passion and priorities: the secret to a successful career in fundraising

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 06:22:30 GMT2017-07-19T06:22:30Z

When choosing a charity to work for, fundraisers need to go with their heart. But is emotional connection enough to sustain a career?

When looking for a fundraising job, the charity’s cause is priority, says fundraiser Niki Barton, head of supporter retention and development at Oxfam GB. “Then you look at the brand and the opportunities. So if you are interested, like me, in international development, the obvious one to pick is Oxfam.”

The reasons behind Barton’s choice of charity are typical of fundraisers. Recruiters say that if fundraisers aren’t driven by the cause then it makes their job impossible. “A good fundraiser needs to champion the cause they are raising money for. The values and the story of the charity are crucial when it comes to picking a job,” says Jamie Fraser, senior account manager for jobs website CharityJob.

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What charities could teach Tories about telephone cold-calling | Lauren White

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 06:16:12 GMT2017-07-18T06:16:12Z

Charities faced merciless scrutiny over telephone scandals and are now trusted more than the government. Shame the Conservatives haven’t taken note

It’s said that rules are there to be broken – and a Channel 4 News investigation alleges that the Conservative party really took that to heart in the recent snap election, not to mention the 2015 general election.

The investigation makes several disturbing claims about the Conservative party’s approach to telephone marketing: paid canvassing, purporting to be from a non-existent market research company, and breaking data protection and privacy laws by calling people registered with the telephone preference service. The Conservative party said the call centre was conducting market research on its behalf, and was not canvassing for votes. The call centre confirmed it was employed by the party, but denied canvassing on its behalf.

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What if all students spent a year working the land before university? | Hugh Warwick

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 07:00:44 GMT2017-07-17T07:00:44Z

A year of ‘eco-conscription’ between school and university would renew the bonds between people and the land

• Hugh Warwick is an ecologist and writer

School leads inexorably to further education for the majority. But in the rush to qualify, to meet the tick-box requirements of curriculum assessors, there is a loss of time to think. After a 14-year slog young people are in need of a break to ask searching questions. What do they want to do with their lives? Do they want to saddle up a mountain of debt to take out into the “real world”?

What if there was to be a pause. A year in which you have the chance to earn your tuition fees while at the same time learning more about yourself. A time to explore a life outdoors. A time to grow food, develop community and repair a damaged environment. A truly productive gap year.

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The stark truth about stripping off for charity | Barbara Ellen

Sat, 15 Jul 2017 23:05:06 GMT2017-07-15T23:05:06Z

Getting your kit off for a good cause has become routine, banal... and exploitative

Some people, including zoo staff, just got naked at a ZSL London Zoo Streak for Tigers charity event for critically endangered Sumatran tigers. Naked people, male and female, some painted as tigers, streaked around the (presumably closed?) area of the zoo, all for a good cause, so where’s the harm? Well…

Whatever happened to raising money and/or awareness while keeping your clothes on? This isn’t really about the tiger-streakers – kudos, in my book, to anybody who helps animals, the collective name for Sumatran tigers is a “streak” (so, erm, there’s kind of a link), and at least, this time, both sexes were involved. Too often, it’s just women who are topless or fully naked – from the radicalised breast-baring of Femen, to the cyclical disrobing of animal rights charity, Peta. Then there’s the “free the nipple” protests – arguing that women should be able to publicly display nipples just like men do, and more.

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Have charities finally regained public trust when it comes to fundraising?

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 07:03:17 GMT2017-07-14T07:03:17Z

Two years on from Olive Cooke’s death, public trust in charities is recovering and donations are steady. Here’s how the sector is rebuilding its reputation

Fundraising is starting to emerge from the shadow that’s been hanging over it for the past two years. The steps taken by the profession to put its own house in order are paying off and public confidence in the charity sector is returning.

The story of Bristol poppy seller Olive Cooke, who killed herself in 2015 after family and friends said she had been upset by charities constantly asking her for money, opened the floodgates to other high-profile cases that exposed questionable fundraising practices. These included allegations of the high-pressure targeting of old and vulnerable people for donations, and “wealth screening” individuals – a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

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Why so few female councillors? Good old-fashioned sexism, for starters

Sat, 15 Jul 2017 09:07:02 GMT2017-07-15T09:07:02Z

Men tell me councils were more honourable when councillors worked for free. I’m pretty sure councils were whiter, older and more male then too. Funny that

You’re always surprised the first time you meet me; I don’t look like your usual local councillor. At 30, I’m half the average age, and as a woman, I’m in the minority. Only 33% of councillors in England are female, a figure that’s stayed stubbornly low over the past 20 years.

There are a few reasons for that, both structural and behavioural, which the Fawcett Society has just published its research into and which, if we’re serious about living in a democracy, we have to fix.

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Improving the quality of city life: cleaner, greener transport | Kim Thomas

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 07:15:17 GMT2017-07-14T07:15:17Z

Innovations such as Greenwich’s driverless vehicles will play a key part in building a green, effective transport system

Visitors to north Greenwich in April might have been puzzled to see a little green and white pod – with passengers, but no driver – making its way down the Thames path. The pod, which runs on electricity, was designed to test the public response to the idea of driverless vehicles. If successful, the vehicles could be used in shuttle services providing a simple last mile connection between a transport hub and a hotel or shopping centre.

Related: Trains, planes and automobiles: the transport systems embracing smart tech

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How to support a depressed partner while maintaining your own mental health

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 07:00:07 GMT2017-07-10T07:00:07Z

Looking after someone with chronic depression can be hard, as Poorna Bell discovered when her husband became ill. The first rule, she says, is to look after yourself

There is no lightning-bolt moment when you realise you are losing your sense of self; just an absence. When you are caring for someone you love, your wants and needs are supplanted by theirs, because what you want, more than anything, is for them to be well. Looking after a partner with mental health problems – in my case, my husband Rob, who had chronic depression – is complicated.

Like many people, Rob and I were not raised in a society that acknowledged, let alone spoke about, depression. The silence and stigma shaped how he dealt with his illness: indeed, he struggled with the very idea of being ill. He told me fairly early on in our relationship that he had depression, but I had no idea what this entailed – the scale, the scope, the fact that a chronic illness like this can recur every year and linger for months.

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How a Reddit forum has become a lifeline to opioid addicts in the US

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 15:24:13 GMT2017-07-19T15:24:13Z

With more than 37,000 subscribers, r/opiates creates a space for substance users to signal-boost fentanyl warnings and get support for overdoses and detoxing

Reddit is a modern-day canary in the coal mine for the people of Appalachia – a region of the United States disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic.

Since the presidential election, a Reddit forum called r/opiates has transformed into a lifesaving map for addicts navigating a minefield frequently filled with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid nearly 100 times more potent than morphine.

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Senior doctors call for public inquiry into use of vaginal mesh surgery in UK

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:29:40 GMT2017-07-18T18:29:40Z

Experts draw comparisons with the thalidomide scandal as they reveal that traumatic complications are more common than official figures suggest

Senior doctors have called for a public inquiry into the use of vaginal mesh surgery amid mounting concerns that a significant proportion of patients have been left with traumatic complications.

Speaking at a meeting in parliament, Carl Heneghan, professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford, drew comparisons with the thalidomide scandal, saying that there was evidence that mesh procedures, used to treat complications from childbirth, carry significantly more risk than official figures suggest.

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Surgeons remove 27 contact lenses from woman’s eye

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 14:07:08 GMT2017-07-17T14:07:08Z

Doctors find ‘hard mass’ of lenses stuck together in 67-year-old’s eye during routine cataract surgery

A 67-year-old woman has had 27 contact lenses removed from one eye.

The discovery was made after the woman went to Solihull hospital in the West Midlands for routine cataract surgery.

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Study looks at cannabis ingredient's ability to help children's tumours

Tue, 02 May 2017 17:16:31 GMT2017-05-02T17:16:31Z

UK research into cannabidiol (CBD) comes after surge in parents administering it to children without medical advice

British scientists are investigating whether a compound found in cannabis could be used to shrink brain tumours in children.

The study of the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, was prompted by a growing number of parents giving it to children with a brain tumour after buying it online. The lead researcher, Prof Richard Grundy of Nottingham University’s children’s brain tumour centre, said in the last six months there had been a surge in parents administering it without medical advice in the belief it might help.

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Manchester gets NHS's first high-energy proton beam cancer therapy machine

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:18:45 GMT2017-06-22T13:18:45Z

Ninety-tonne cyclotron at Christie hospital will give NHS patients access to treatment that is currently only available abroad

A 90-tonne machine that will allow cancer patients to receive state-of-the-art high-energy proton beam therapy on the NHS for the first time is to be installed at a hospital in Manchester.

The cyclotron delivers a special type of radiotherapy currently only available overseas. The NHS has been paying for patients to travel abroad for the treatment since 2008.

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