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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: Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:04:08 GMT2017-01-16T20:04:08Z

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

Westminster council could send homeless families to Coventry

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 15:33:59 GMT2017-01-15T15:33:59Z

Those who lose homes in capital may increasingly be rehoused outside London as local authorities struggle with cuts

People who lose their homes in one of London’s richest boroughs could be sent to live in temporary accommodation as far away as Coventry under new plans announced by the City of Westminster.

Westminster council says rising homelessness, coupled with housing benefits cuts and government plans to force local authorities to sell off social housing gives it no option but to place more families outside the capital.

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English green belt set to get 360,000 new homes

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 18:33:48 GMT2017-01-15T18:33:48Z

Countryside campaigners fear ministers are set to weaken green belt protection in order to meet housebuilding targets

The number of homes being planned on green belt land in England has increased to more than 360,000, according to countryside campaigners, who fear ministers are poised to weaken protections to meet ambitious building targets.

The assessment by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) found that the number of homes planned on sites previously meant to block urban sprawl has risen from 81,000 in 2012 to 362,346, with the largest number slated for development in the north-west and east of England.

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The radical model fighting the housing crisis: property prices based on income

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 07:15:17 GMT2017-01-16T07:15:17Z

Community land trusts battle gentrification by linking house prices to local wages rather than the market rate. But can this growing movement for ‘permanently affordable’ homes really ease Britain’s housing crisis?

A forbidding clock tower rises above the arched windows of a former Victorian workhouse in east London’s Mile End, behind a hoarding which trumpets the conversion of the crusty old pile into an enclave of luxury apartments. The mortuary, morbidly located next to a graveyard at the end of this brutal conveyor-belt complex, has been reborn as The Lodge, a two-bed flat for £999,995 – the kind of inflated price that is increasingly familiar, even here in one of London’s poorest boroughs.

But buried among the workhouse chic and the new brick apartment blocks is an unlikely experiment in building homes that will remain affordable to local people forever. After a decade of campaigning, the East London Community Land Trust has succeeded in creating housing where the prices will be linked to local income in perpetuity, entirely detached from the superheated speculation of the property market.

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NHS in crisis as cancer operations cancelled due to lack of beds

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 21:30:06 GMT2017-01-14T21:30:06Z

Hospital chief warns government must face the truth, as patients lose surgery dates with some only receiving one day’s notice

Patients with cancer are having their operations cancelled by hospitals with increasing regularity as the NHS winter crisis deepens, the Observer can reveal.

In an alarming escalation, the previously unthinkable step of calling off cancer surgery has become more commonplace in the last fortnight, as a rapid increase in patient numbers has placed intolerable pressures on beds and staff.

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Tory health committee chair defends NHS chief in funding row with PM

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 12:38:25 GMT2017-01-15T12:38:25Z

Dr Sarah Wollaston tells Sky News it is not ‘strictly true’ that NHS was given more cash than it needs

The Conservative chair of the health select committee has defended the NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, in his dispute with Theresa May over health service funding.

Dr Sarah Wollaston said she agreed with Stevens’ contradiction of May’s claim last Sunday that the NHS had been given more funding than it required up to 2020.

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Crisis, what NHS crisis? Theresa May must stop this denial | Jan Filochowski

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:38:09 GMT2017-01-15T19:38:09Z

I’ve turned around three failing hospitals, and I believe the NHS will keel over unless ministers start to address its problems and stop blaming GPs and patients

A few months into my first job in the NHS, some 38 years ago, I watched Prime Minister Jim Callaghan being interviewed, on his return to the UK after an international mid-winter summit in the Caribbean, about the strikes in public services that have come to be known as the winter of discontent. I and pretty well everyone working in the NHS, and most of the population, knew there was a crisis. Callaghan’s dismissive comment were famously reported as “Crisis, what crisis?” They didn’t go down well, he didn’t act, and he went on to lose the impending election.

Today, can it really be that our current prime minister is the only one who doesn’t realise there is an NHS crisis?

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Jeremy Corbyn decries 'social care crisis made in Downing Street'

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 15:42:44 GMT2017-01-14T15:42:44Z

Labour leader says entire system is at serious risk of breakdown unless government invests more money

Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to take failing care homes into public ownership under a Labour government in a major speech slamming the Tories for “spectacularly” failing to spread Britain’s wealth evenly.

The Labour leader attacked what he described as a rigged system where power is in the wrong hands, and accused the government of slashing taxes for the richest and lining the pockets of their friends while cutting vital public services.

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Getting on, or getting on with it: life in an OAP hotspot

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 23:17:56 GMT2017-01-15T23:17:56Z

One in seven Britons will be over 75 by 2040 and the babyboomers are leading the way in the transformation of retirement

Dr David Davies sees more than his fair share of 60 somethings. His clinic is situated in the medieval, west Somerset village of Dunster, which has one of the densest populations of older people anywhere in Britain.

But these days, sexagenarians don’t shuffle in looking sorry for themselves. Instead, he says, they are more likely to appear clad in lycra having cycled to their appointment across Exmoor National Park.

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Council job cuts have finally caught up with me – but I'm relieved

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 07:16:19 GMT2017-01-14T07:16:19Z

After years of avoiding the axe, redundancy now seems like a release. I won’t miss the insomnia and anxiety caused by the uncertainty of working for a council

Every new year at the council brings with it a fresh cycle of angst and fear, because the battle to keep jobs begins all over again.

But this year, I no longer care about losing my job – in fact, the prospect of facing redundancy fills me with relief. Relief that I no longer have to face a relentless cost-cutting cycle.

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Questions raised by an ageing population | Letters

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 18:45:36 GMT2017-01-16T18:45:36Z

As is usual in such discussions, Professor Sarah Harper’s analysis of the effect of stopping net immigration under Brexit (Brexit-led decline in immigration ‘will raise retirement age’, 16 January) has major flaws – failing to explore the implications of automation/robotics, and not examining the downsides of unending immigration. Her analysis only works short term, and only if other factors remain the same. Automation is likely to reduce the need to maintain the same level of workforce, so a shrinking work-age population due to rising numbers of pensioners can in principle be met without raising pension age. However, this would need a radical rethink in work-life practices and taxation. Organisations transferring conventional jobs to automation would have to be taxed to pay for a universal basic income, and at the same time the real (if not GDP-related) value of voluntary work, as is already performed by millions of carers and retirees, needs to be properly appreciated.

The other major flaw is that you cannot increase population endlessly (whether by immigration or birth rate) without eventually running up against limits – the first being quality of life. Do we want to indefinitely degrade our country under concrete simply to perpetuate the current dysfunctional economic system? Can we rely for ever on other countries providing food to import? Should we not think of what an optimum and genuinely sustainable number of people might be, and aim for that (it is probably a lot fewer than at present, especially in England)?
Anthony Cheke

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Sweetness and blight: the mounting case against sugar

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 08:00:18 GMT2017-01-16T08:00:18Z

My mantra was: all things in moderation. But as the evidence against sugar stacks up, I’m growing anxious. Although I won’t give up fruit…

One day earlier this month, I opened The Oxford Companion to Food, for so long a bible to me, and looked up sugar. The entry ran to several pages, taking me from its composition (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen) to the various forms it takes (dextrose, fructose and so on), and then to its sources in nature (honey, cane, beet). Finally, there was a section titled “Sugar as a Food”. This dealt, in a way that already seems rather old-fashioned (the book, edited by the late Alan Davidson, was published in 1999), with the difference between white sugar and brown. The latter, the writer stressed, is not healthier than the former; and while overconsumption of both kinds may lead to obesity, this is not the fault of sugar, but of those who eat too much of it.

It’s been a long time since I heard anyone suggest that brown sugar is healthier than white; it’s the kind of thing my granny might have said in 1979. But it wasn’t this that caught my attention. What surprised me was the writer’s firm placing of the blame for sugar-related weight gain on human beings rather than on, say, the industries that relentlessly push sugar our way in the form of fizzy drinks and ready meals. Nor had he mentioned the now well-established connection between the overconsumption of sugar and type 2 diabetes, cancer and even, it is thought, Alzheimer’s disease. Having registered this, I was then surprised by own surprise. Once, I would have read the words “the fault of the people who eat too much of it” and nodded my head. Now I was shaking it instead.

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GPs working longer hours won’t ease the pressure on the NHS | Letters

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 18:36:53 GMT2017-01-15T18:36:53Z

Re your readers’ stories of the NHS (‘He stayed on that trolley in A&E for the next 12 hours’, 14 January), the government is putting out a spew of misinformation to cover the 2% reduction, as a percentage of GDP, it has imposed on funding of the NHS since 2010. The people on trolleys waiting for a bed are not the worried well who are accused of blocking up A&E departments. They are people who have already been assessed as needing beds. These beds are full not just because people cannot be moved out of hospital but because the number of hospital beds has been steadily reduced over the last 20 or more years, so that the UK now has 2.8 beds per 1,000 of population, compared with 8.6 in Germany and 6.2 in France. The forthcoming sustainability and transformation plans propose further cuts.

The government prefers to blame “bed blocking” because people are remaining in hospital “unnecessarily”. But people who are fit for medical discharge are waiting for social care packages and there has been a £4.6bn cut in social care funding since 2010. What is happening is an inevitable result of the deliberate and cavalier reductions in local government funding since 2010. The motion in parliament last Thursday, calling for extra funding for social care now and a new funding settlement for health and social care in the March budget, was rejected. Conservative MPs who have deplored the situation in their local press voted with the government. How do these MPs justify their refusal to vote to fund social care properly?

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Archie Norman obituary

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 17:14:05 GMT2017-01-15T17:14:05Z

My father, Archie Norman, who has died aged 104, was an eminent paediatrician who pioneered research into cystic fibrosis and asthma at Great Ormond Street hospital, in London, and neonatal care at Queen Charlotte’s.

The son of George Norman, a radiologist, and his wife, Mary (nee MacCallum), a nurse, he was born in Oban, Argyll and Bute, and watched his father march off to the first world war. He grew up in the soot-covered mill town of Shaw in Lancashire (now part of Greater Manchester), and remembered the “waker” coming down the street and the sirens summoning workers to the morning shift.

Continue reading...Archie Norman served as a medical officer in PoW camps in Italy and Silesia during the second world war before being liberated by the RussiansArchie Norman served as a medical officer in PoW camps in Italy and Silesia during the second world war before being liberated by the Russians

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Bookmakers face losing their licence and huge fines over problem gambling

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 16:10:19 GMT2017-01-15T16:10:19Z

Regulator to introduce tougher punishment for firms breaking rules governing responsible betting

Gambling firms that fail to tackle problem gambling and money laundering face heftier fines and a higher risk of losing their operating licence under a tougher regime to be unveiled by the industry’s regulator.

The Gambling Commission will lay out its new enforcement strategy this month, detailing how bookmakers, casinos and online gaming companies who are deemed to have breached regulations will be punished. The new stance follows a year in which several major bookmakers reached voluntary settlements for failing to prevent money laundering or problem gambling.

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May's scapegoat attempt could spark mass resignations, says top GP

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 12:57:59 GMT2017-01-14T12:57:59Z

Dr Kailash Chand says GPs are rightly angry at government effort to shift blame for NHS crisis on to them with seven-day threat

Family doctors and medical leaders have rejected Theresa May’s demand to move to a seven-day week, with senior GPs warning that it could lead to mass resignations.

Dr Kailash Chand, a former deputy chair of the British Medical Association, said GPs were so angry with government attempts to scapegoat them for the crisis in the NHS and chronic underfunding that they could disaffiliate from the service.

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NHS crisis: 'My frail mum was forced to wait on the floor for eight hours'

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 08:00:20 GMT2017-01-14T08:00:20Z

Reports of overcrowding, long waits and cancelled operations have led to claims that the NHS faces a ‘humanitarian crisis’. Here, patients tell their stories

Dozens of hospitals in England have had to declare a black alert – a status that means its emergency care facilities and beds are under extreme pressure – this week after becoming so overcrowded that they could no longer guarantee patient safety.

It follows a warning from the British Red Cross that the NHS is facing a “humanitarian crisis” this winter, claims that have been denied by Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary. We asked for your stories of the health service over the past few weeks. Here are a few of the responses we received:

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'Can I speak to a serial killer?': there's more to NHS comms than you'd think

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 07:45:18 GMT2017-01-16T07:45:18Z

To some, communications is shorthand for public relations and spin, but patients are at the heart of what we do

“Can I speak to Peter Sutcliffe?”

The journalist was perfectly serious. I was working in communications at Broadmoor hospital and he saw me as a route to people he thought were patients there. He wanted Sutcliffe’s “take” on a series of recent “Ripper style” murders in the Ipswich area. I explained – while trying to not audibly gasp – that Broadmoor could not confirm who its patients were, let alone put them up for press interviews.

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NHS crisis: more money must be linked to reform

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 11:25:00 GMT2017-01-13T11:25:00Z

The health and care system desperately needs more cash – but it cannot be swallowed up in funding business as usual

The biggest crisis facing the NHS is that, no matter how high or low the funding, transformational change fails to happen. It is easy to justify why reform is so slow and patchy currently, but neither did it happen in the years following the NHS Plan in 2000, when the annual real funding increases were among the highest in NHS history.

The same promises were made – risk stratified prevention, involving people in their own care, a digital revolution, a massive expansion of primary care. Waiting lists tumbled, A&E treatment times were slashed and there was huge capital investment, but the underlying shape of the service remained largely unchanged.

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Deadlock in Stormont could spell turmoil for social housing tenants

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 06:30:10 GMT2017-01-13T06:30:10Z

The resignation of Martin McGuinness jeopardises Northern Ireland’s plans to delay the bedroom tax – introducing it now wouldn’t just be cruel, but dangerous

In the first big political earthquake of 2017, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister Martin McGuinness resigned on Monday, triggering the potential dissolution of the Stormont government and a fresh election.

The resignation, prompted by the ongoing “cash for ash” scandal concerning a scheme dreamt up while first minister Arlene Foster was environment minister, plunges Northern Ireland into further turmoil and uncertainty at a time when Brexit has also caused concern about peace in the region.

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Top tips for building a career in housing

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 06:34:20 GMT2017-01-12T06:34:20Z

A job in housing is never dull and the sector is awash with opportunities for people with energy and ideas

If you asked for a show of hands in a classroom of 30 students, maybe a handful would indicate that they want to be a doctor, nurse or teacher.

Probably none would have considered becoming a housing officer or working in community regeneration. I wasn’t any different.

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Our NHS trust is close to a tipping point – and we are not alone

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 09:47:31 GMT2017-01-11T09:47:31Z

This may not be a humanitarian crisis, but experienced consultants say they have never seen anything like it

The past week has been very challenging, and we fear worse is on its way.

No doubt people were trying their best not to be a burden on public services over bank holidays but last Tuesday and particularly Wednesday the floodgates opened. Experienced consultants told me they had never seen anything like it. We stopped all elective surgery indefinitely – save for day surgery – and reallocated consultants who by early evening all looked grey with exhaustion, but exhilarated by a kind of Dunkirk spirit that had spread throughout all staff including porters, cleaners, nurses and junior doctors. We had re-established some modicum of control by 6pm.

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Social care does need more funds, but there are also savings to be made | David Brindle

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 07:30:13 GMT2017-01-11T07:30:13Z

Social and health care should be integrated, but as that is unlikely to happen, care reforms already tested could make significant savings

Ministers last week stepped in with an extra cash boost for social care. On top of a funding increase announced three months ago, they unveiled a further rise to help meet payroll costs and to help professionalise the workforce. Council leaders “warmly welcomed” the move and the emphasis on preventive support for older and disabled people.

You may have guessed this wasn’t in England. It was in Wales, where, as the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) observes, the policy position is “very different”. True, the sums involved are not huge. After a £25m grant increase for social care in 2017-18 set out last October, the Welsh government last week found a further £10m and raised the individual cap on homecare costs – a feature of the system not replicated in England – from £60 a week to £70, which should give councils another £4m for the year from April.

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‘Care work is tough. We should not be paying minimum wages’

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 14:00:00 GMT2017-01-10T14:00:00Z

David Miles, head of Mears Group, which has given up some homecare contracts, says paying staff more could save money

Whether or not you agree with reports at the weekend that the NHS is facing a “humanitarian crisis”, caused by delayed discharge and unprecedented demand for services, it is abundantly clear that when it comes to health and social care, the status quo is not an option.

As calls grow for the government to do more to tackle the funding gap in social care – predicted to reach £2.3bn by 2020, David Miles, chief executive of Mears Group, agrees that the social care sector’s position is precarious.

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New year, new career: how about becoming a local government data scientist?

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 06:33:26 GMT2017-01-10T06:33:26Z

With councils waking up to the value of their data, recruiting data experts has become one of the most pressing issues in local government

The data revolution has seen the job of data scientist elevated to one of the most important within many organisations – such as Facebook’s army of analysts. As councils look more to their data for help to do things better, whether it’s protecting vulnerable children or supporting local businesses, they will need skilled data professionals. But where are they going to find them?

Our research shows that even in the private sector there is a severe shortage of skilled data scientists. For councils, down to their bare bones financially and restricted by national pay bands, it is harder still to find the right talent.

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This isn’t a freak day – this is winter in the NHS

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 23:11:39 GMT2017-01-09T23:11:39Z

I’m not giving patients the care I want to but what can I do when there are others that could die in corridors?

It is the day after the New Year weekend. People all over the country are dusting off the last of the mince pie crumbs and dragging themselves painfully back to work. Offices are re-opening, schools filling up for the first time in a few weeks.

Not here. We never closed. We arrive in work – business as usual once again, but the ambulances are already queuing around the drive to A&E. Eight in the morning and the department is full.

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GPs should do more to take pressure off A&E departments, says May

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 23:56:29 GMT2017-01-13T23:56:29Z

Prime minister wants surgeries to offer a seven-day service, but is accused of trying to scapegoat family doctors for chaos in NHS hospitals

Theresa May is urging GP surgeries to make more effort to provide a seven-day service as she seeks to deflect blame for the deepening crisis in the NHS.

With pressure mounting on the prime minister, amid growing evidence that hospitals are struggling to cope with surging winter demand, Downing Street issued a statement on Friday saying that surgeries should do more to ensure they offer appointments in the evening and at weekends. GP leaders reacted angrily to the announcement and accused May of trying to scapegoat family doctors for the unfolding NHS crisis.

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193,000 NHS patients a month waiting beyond target time for surgery

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:38:09 GMT2017-01-13T18:38:09Z

Royal College of Surgeons says sharp rise in numbers waiting longer than 18 weeks suggest NHS has passed a tipping point

An increasing number of patients are having to endure long waits for operations, according to a study that provides the latest evidence of the NHS’s failure to meet waiting time targets because hospitals are so busy.

Analysis by the Royal College of Surgeons found that over the past year an average of 193,406 people a month did not get surgery within 18 weeks of being referred.

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NHS crisis: 40% of hospitals issue alert in first week of new year

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:51:34 GMT2017-01-13T13:51:34Z

Official figures show 95% of hospital beds were full from 2-8 January, up from 91% the week before

More than 40% of hospitals had to declare an alert in the first week of January because they were experiencing major problems caused by having too many patients and too few spare beds.

Figures released by NHS England on Friday also show that 32 people have died from flu so far this winter and scores of others had to be treated in intensive care last week alone.

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Most marijuana medicinal benefits are inconclusive, wide-ranging study finds

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 22:29:12 GMT2017-01-12T22:29:12Z

Study of 10,000 reports into cannabis finds only enough evidence to support therapeutic use for chemotherapy patients, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis

There is not enough research to reach conclusive judgments on whether marijuana can effectively treat most of the symptoms and diseases it is advertised as helping, according to a wide-ranging US government study.

The same is also true of many of the risks said to be associated with using cannabis, the study finds.

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NHS chief Simon Stevens refuses to buckle under No 10 pressure

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 20:02:19 GMT2017-01-12T20:02:19Z

NHS England chief executive is vowing to remain in post, despite tense relationship with Theresa May

Simon Stevens intends to remain as the boss of NHS England for at least the next two years and tough out his tense relationship with Theresa May, despite Downing Street aides briefing against him.

The chief executive will keep setting out his views about NHS funding, but he will stop making the case in public for more money for social care – which has antagonised May – in a bid to repair relations with No 10.

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Struggling hospitals brace for further spike in demand during cold snap

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 19:59:19 GMT2017-01-12T19:59:19Z

People with diabetes, lung disease or undergoing cancer treatment could be at higher risk of developing pneumonia, doctors say

Freezing temperatures across the UK risk plunging struggling hospitals into a deeper crisis as the NHS enters its busiest three weeks of the year, health bosses have said.

Hospitals are braced for a sudden spike in emergency admissions for broken limbs and chronic breathing problems. The organisation that represents hospital trusts in England said the NHS, already facing “winter all year round”, risked being plunged into an “Arctic winter” in the days ahead.

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NHS crisis: have you had an operation cancelled this winter?

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:24:04 GMT2017-01-12T14:24:04Z

The NHS have cancelled hundreds of urgent operations this winter and new reports indicate even cancer patients have been affected. Share your stories

Dozens of hospitals in England have had to declare a black alert – the highest form of emergency status – this week after becoming so overcrowded that they could no longer guarantee patient safety and provide their full range of normal services.

Related: NHS crisis: 20 hospitals declare black alert as patient safety no longer assured

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Former Tory health minister defends Simon Stevens over NHS winter crisis

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 09:49:07 GMT2017-01-12T09:49:07Z

Stephen Dorrell tells No 10 to focus on problems on the ground as new figures reveal extent of strain on the system before Christmas

A former Conservative health secretary has said it was unfair for Downing Street to hint that the NHS England boss, Simon Stevens, was to blame for the winter crisis gripping the health service.

Stephen Dorrell, now chair of the NHS Confederation, issued the rebuke after Stevens told MPs on Wednesday that Theresa May was “stretching it” by saying the health service had got more money than it had requested. His intervention came as new figures revealed the extent of the strain already on the system before the Christmas period.

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NHS crisis: 20 hospitals declare black alert as patient safety no longer assured

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 22:00:10 GMT2017-01-11T22:00:10Z

Cancer operations were cancelled and a birthing centre closed last week as hospitals declared top level alert to cope with overcrowding

More than 20 hospitals in England have had to declare a black alert this week after becoming so overcrowded that they could no longer guarantee patient safety and provide their full range of normal services.

Related: Share your experiences of the NHS this winter

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BBC film on child transgender issues worries activists

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 20:33:59 GMT2017-01-11T20:33:59Z

Criticism over featured expert’s approach to gender dysphoria

The transgender community is “very scared and very worried” by a BBC documentary on how to approach gender dysphoria in children, organisations and activists are claiming.

The film – Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? – prominently features Kenneth Zucker, a Canadian psychologist whose controversial approach with transgender children led to his being sacked in 2015 from a Toronto gender identity clinic.

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NHS hospitals in England face £322m tax bill increase from April

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 18:15:25 GMT2017-01-11T18:15:25Z

Changes to business rates system mean NHS trusts face 21% rise in property tax bill over next five years – but some are fighting for charitable exemption

Cash-strapped hospitals in England face a £322m tax rise from April which threatens to increase the strain on the under-pressure NHS.

Changes to the business rates system mean that the 1,249 NHS hospitals liable for the property tax will see their bill increase by 21% over the next five years, according to research conducted for the Guardian by property consultant CVS.

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Councils must stop commissioning 'flying' visits for personal care

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 09:07:48 GMT2017-01-16T09:07:48Z

Too many people still receive 15-minute visits, leaving them forced to choose between a cup of tea and going to the loo

At least 34 councils in England, more than a fifth, admit they still commission 15-minute visits to provide personal care to disabled and older people, despite official guidance that they should not.

These rushed visits are hugely distressing for those who receive them. A visit so short can often leave someone forced to choose between having a cup of tea and going to the loo. That’s a choice no one should ever have to make.

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Five things to look out for in children's social care in 2017

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 09:29:16 GMT2017-01-13T09:29:16Z

The children’s bill and accreditation for social workers are just two of the exciting and, in some cases, controversial changes

This year will bring some exciting and, potentially, controversial developments and innovations to children’s social work and social care.

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My hope for 2017: change people's view of the care system

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 08:51:49 GMT2017-01-12T08:51:49Z

To typecast the system as a bad place to end up is unfair and harmful to those in care, the staff who keep them safe, and those who care for them

The directors of children’s services have a clear statutory duty to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people. These duties are more than an administrative detail; the responsibility lives with us each and every day. Local authorities face many challenges but our most pressing issue is ensuring services continue to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families when resources are scarce, demand continues to rise and, as our own research shows, the needs of children and young people are becoming more complex and urgent.

To date, local authorities have used innovation and collaboration to make savings and target services to the areas with the most need. This can be seen in the re-design of children’s centres and in early intervention in schools. But the increasing number of children and families needing help and support has challenged even the most innovative authorities.

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‘Flexible’ arrangements in social work bill may endanger children | Letters

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 20:18:02 GMT2017-01-11T20:18:02Z

Your excellent summary (What this year could hold for public services, 4 January) had much useful analysis on how the NHS and other state services may be “brought to the brink”. Your readers may also wish to know that the House of Commons is currently considering a bill that will remove the duty to have local safeguarding children boards, the well-established multi-agency groups across the country that coordinate safeguarding and assure its effectiveness. Our government says the children and social work bill “creates new, more flexible partnership arrangements to protect children locally” but there are serious concerns that such “freedoms” will place children in danger – like the one that the Lords recently rejected regarding local authorities being “offered freedom” through this bill not to comply with the Children Act. The “flexible” arrangements offered by this bill also reduce the statutory requirement for the currently large range of agencies to work together in safeguarding to only three – and schools, our most important safeguarders of children, will not be included.

The parliament website recently gave short notice that the public, and any interested bodies, may send in their views by 17 January.
Sarah Webb

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Red Cross description of NHS 'irresponsible and overblown', says PM

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 13:05:59 GMT2017-01-11T13:05:59Z

May uses PMQs to dismiss claim service faces humanitarian crisis, and insists long waits at A&E are down to raised demand

The British Red Cross description of the NHS as facing a humanitarian crisis was “irresponsible and overblown”, Theresa May has said during a prime minister’s questions centred on the current problems in the health service.

Pressured repeatedly by Jeremy Corbyn about long waits for emergency care and patients left in corridors, May conceded there were “a small number” of unacceptable incidents, but insisted the problems were mainly caused by increased demand.

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NHS's Simon Stevens defended by MPs in health funding row

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 10:09:03 GMT2017-01-11T10:09:03Z

Health service chief to appear before MPs amid reports of tensions with Downing Street over ‘unenthusiastic’ attitude to cuts

Simon Stevens, the NHS chief executive, has been defended by MPs for sounding the alarm over health funding, amid reports of tensions with Downing Street over his handling of the A&E winter crisis.

Stevens will appear before the House of Commons public accounts committee on Wednesday, where he will be expected to explain whether the NHS is funded sufficiently at a time when doctors are warning of an unprecedented danger to patient safety.

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Why are there no care workers in Coronation Street?

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 08:30:14 GMT2017-01-11T08:30:14Z

Come on, programme makers. We may not be as glamorous as doctors and nurses, but you could occasionally feature us in your dramas and soaps

Whenever senior people in the social care sector gather together, one of the first topics of conversation is always the problem of recruiting and retaining staff.

When it comes to staying in the sector, money is certainly an important factor for social care professionals. You’re never going to get rich, or even be comfortably off, if you work in the social care sector. But it can’t be all about money. For example, a social care employer in London recently advertised for two jobs; one in administration and one as a support worker. Even though the job as a support worker was better paid, it attracted far fewer applications.

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Care home closures set to rise as funding crisis bites

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 07:45:13 GMT2017-01-11T07:45:13Z

Insolvencies among care home operators are at a record high and likely to continue without government action

Care home operators, trade unions and charities have been telling Theresa May for months that the care home industry is in crisis and needs help.

Last week, May got her sternest warning yet – the chairs of three influential Commons committees urged the prime minister to deal with the “immense challenge” of paying for health and social care in the future.

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Soup kitchen run by nuns and funded by self-help guru approved in California

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:00:19 GMT2017-01-13T14:00:19Z

Forced to leave current location after rent hike, new soup kitchen was approved in gentrifying Mission district despite strenuous objections from some residents

A trinity comprised of a self-help guru, a technology magnate and a group of San Francisco nuns was victorious Thursday over a group of residents upset over the prospect of more homeless people in their neighborhood.

At a hearing of the city planning commission, an order called Fraternite Notre Dame received approval to open a new soup kitchen in the Mission district, despite strenuous objections from some locals. The nuns learned last year that they would have to leave their current location after being hit with a rent hike and received help from an unanticipated source.

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Fans battle to save the Lions’ Den and Kempton Park | Letters

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 19:23:05 GMT2017-01-12T19:23:05Z

Can it really be true that a Labour council is in cahoots with an offshore property speculator to undermine and conceivably force the relocation of the London borough’s only professional sporting organisation, one moreover that was founded more than a century ago and is supported by the very working-class voters who have long sustained Labour in power in Lewisham (Millwall having to move would be ‘heartbreaking’ says Lib Dem leader, Sport, 9 January)?

Related: Vote on compulsory purchase of Millwall land dramatically postponed

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Four homeless people die of exposure in Portland in first 10 days of 2017

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 02:52:16 GMT2017-01-12T02:52:16Z

Amid unusually brutal winter with lack of affordable housing, mayor will convert administrative building into shelter and opened up emergency beds

Four homeless people have died of exposure on the streets of Portland, Oregon, in the first 10 days of 2017, a toll that has horrified the city and focused attention on its housing crisis.

“Any loss of life is unacceptable,” the newly inaugurated Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler, said. “This is a wealthy nation and we’re a prosperous and progressive community.”

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How a design for city living went wrong | Letters

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 19:29:22 GMT2017-01-08T19:29:22Z

Re your article (We need spaces to live but we also need places to make things, 7 January): twenty years ago Richard Rogers’ Towards an Urban Renaissance put sustainability at the core of a vision of compact cities where people worked, rested and played with minimum car use. Residential densification of central London and other large English cities would be delivered through regeneration and the judicious imposition of tall buildings. The result was a tall building frenzy driven by international capital, with many central London flats used as vacant safety deposit boxes. Meanwhile, a new population was sucked in to join Londoners who no longer wished to leave the thriving capital, and the housing crisis deepened.

In desperation, successive mayors have identified over 40 “opportunity areas” for intensive housebuilding, involving a land grab of thousands of hectares. Unfortunately these are all key industrial areas where the nuts and bolts of the city are manufactured and many thousands of Londoners employed. For example, one company in the Vauxhall “opportunity area” – employing 100 “low skill” workers who live close by and work through the night preparing raw fish to supply many West End restaurants – is threatened with yet another tall speculative residential building. In the name of sustainability, we are building a city where ordinary people have nowhere to live and nowhere to work.
Michael Ball
Reclaim London

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January is the cruellest month for families with just 50p to pay the rent

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 06:31:11 GMT2017-01-06T06:31:11Z

Theresa May isn’t helping ‘just about managing’ families – she’s hammering them in an ideological crusade by slashing the benefit cap

TS Eliot was wrong: April is not the cruellest month, it’s January – with the falling temperature, the post-Christmas slump and the dreaded self-examination and setting then breaking of resolutions. Add to that the tightening of budgets as the excess of Christmas and New Year wreaks havoc on bank balances across the country. Now imagine all of this but, in addition, that your income has been cut by almost the exact amount of your rent. This is the situation facing many families around the country as a result of the reduced benefit cap.

In Grimsby, 42 families were left with 50p or less a week to pay their rent thanks to a reduction in housing benefit just before Christmas, the Grimsby Telegraph reports. This is a policy change that affects children in particular: the more children in a family, the more likely it is to reach the cap and therefore have its benefits reduced. So, families like those in Grimsby will see a drastic fall in their income and struggle to pay rent and bills, leaving only those outgoings that can be controlled and reduced such as food and heating – what luxuries – with which to recoup some savings.

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Government offers £7bn affordable homes fund to housing providers

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 00:01:34 GMT2017-01-05T00:01:34Z

Scheme described as ‘dramatic expansion’ of housing programme in England but sum is compiled from previous announcements

Housing providers can apply for a share of a £7bn fund to increase the supply of affordable homes, the government has announced.

As of 5 January, housing associations, local authorities and private developers in England are able to bid for funding to build thousands of shared ownership, rent-to-buy and affordable rented homes in what the Department for Communities and Local Government described as a “dramatic expansion” of its housing programme.

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Underground arts scene threatened by widespread evictions after Oakland fire

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 13:00:20 GMT2017-01-04T13:00:20Z

Art collectives have seen their warehouse-style DIY spaces shut down across the US in the weeks following a massive fire that killed 36 people

Evictions of DIY spaces have soared in cities across the US, threatening to inflict long-term damage on an underground art scene still reeling from the devastating losses in the Oakland “Ghost Ship” fire.

The 2 December warehouse fire, which killed 36 people, has led to a wave of crackdowns on communal housing spaces and unpermitted music venues in more than a dozen cities, prompting accusations that officials and landlords are engaged in a “witch hunt” that will rapidly accelerate gentrification and displacement.

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What does 2017 hold for social housing? We ask the experts

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 10:16:56 GMT2017-01-04T10:16:56Z

Our panel of experts on the housing, homelessness and policy issues the year ahead holds

The last year was a tumultuous one for the housing sector, with the controversial Housing and Planning Act passed, but an unexpected change of prime minister meant some changes in direction for housing policy.

With Brexit on the horizon and the possibility that Britain is heading for choppy fiscal waters, our expert panel give their predictions, concerns and hopes for the year ahead, including legal trends, homelessness, housing supply and how housing associations can adapt, rather than die.

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Household goods sent to disaster zones 'hinder relief efforts'

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 23:50:02 GMT2017-01-15T23:50:02Z

Red Cross report highlights how unsolicited items often end up in landfill, urging Australians to give cash instead

Fiji received the equivalent of 33 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of donated junk after Cyclone Winston hit last year.

Sports gear, chainsaws, carpets and woolly jumpers were among the items clogging up space at airports and docks.

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Jake Chapman is right to criticise Ai Weiwei's drowned boy artwork

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:58:04 GMT2017-01-13T12:58:04Z

What was Ai Weiwei thinking? Posing as a dead refugee boy on a beach in Lesbos was risible, fatuous and grotesque

Artist Jake Chapman is not known for his sentimentalism. In their masterwork Hell, he and his brother Dinos showed no pity for thousands of toy soldiers they tortured and eviscerated in a landscape of baroque psychosis.

They have also collected and exhibited paintings attributed to Adolf Hitler, and in interviews, Jake Chapman goes out of his way to defy liberal soppiness with provocative remarks such as saying children should be banned from art galleries. Yet it turns out that, like the apparently heartless Andy Warhol who secretly worked in soup kitchens, Chapman has a penchant for modest acts of kindness. It has come to light that when he heard about Refugee Relief, a charity that works on Lesbos to save exhausted refugees from drowning, he bought them a lifeboat.

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The 2017 Public Leaders editorial advisory board

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 10:23:00 GMT2017-01-13T10:23:00Z

Leaders from the public, private and voluntary sectors, with deep expertise across all public services, comprise our editorial board in 2017

We are delighted to announce the distinguished members of our Public Leaders Network 2017 editorial advisory board.

Ten leaders have been selected to provide expert insight over the next year on the editorial board, chaired by network editor Jane Dudman.

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Fairer UK charity contracts will demand long-term government support

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 06:31:10 GMT2017-01-13T06:31:10Z

Measures to help small charities win public service contracts will depend on ministers’ willingness to challenge the inertia of the commisioning culture

Smaller charities are watching developments following the government’s announcement last month of new measures to help them leap the hurdles so often encountered in their bids to provide public services.

Small may be beautiful but it’s rarely seen that way in the world of public service commissioning, where scale and its expected efficiencies are usually prioritised. For charities with a turnover below £1m, and the nearly 150,000 staff who work for them, this has often made bidding for and winning public service contracts extremely challenging.

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Ethical gift market helps Oxfam post highest Christmas sales for five years

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 00:01:12 GMT2017-01-12T00:01:12Z

Year-on-year sales for November and December were up 10%, boosted by 9% rise in gifts such as providing safe water for small communities

Oxfam has reported its highest sales for five years on the back of increased demand for secondhand clothes and ethical gifts.

Healthy sales of Fairtrade goods such as chocolate and coffee helped the charity post a 10% year-on-year rise in sales for November and December, worth £17.2m.

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Red Cross NHS remark touches nerve with Conservatives

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 17:54:07 GMT2017-01-09T17:54:07Z

Casting charity’s important work as an emergency response to a humanitarian crisis was always going to be controversial

There is something uniquely startling about the vision of an international aid agency, usually found working in countries struck by famine and natural disaster, mobilising to provide emergency backup to the NHS.

So Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, will have been acutely aware of the potency of his description of the “humanitarian crisis” facing the NHS, and his decision to outline the work being done by the Red Cross to alleviate the situation.

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Guardian and Observer 2016 charity appeal raises over £1.75m

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 13:56:04 GMT2017-01-09T13:56:04Z

More than 17,500 readers donate to four-week appeal in support of three charities helping child refugees

The Guardian and Observer’s 2016 appeal has raised over £1,750,000 for child refugees, making it the second biggest charity fundraiser in the papers’ histories.

More than 17,500 readers donated to the four-week appeal, which closed on Sunday night. The money will be shared between three charities supporting young refugees: Help Refugees, Safe Passage, and the Children’s Society.

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How to create the best application for your new third sector job

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 06:38:09 GMT2017-01-09T06:38:09Z

Exploit your skills and be clear about what you can offer: our guide to selling yourself when applying to the voluntary sector

Having decided you would like to move into the voluntary sector, done all you can to prepare, and identified a vacancy that appeals to you, it’s time to put together an application.

“Why do you want this job?” can be the most difficult question on any job application form. Charities in particular will be used to receiving a multitude of applications boasting very similar answers, so it’s important to consider this fully before committing. Can you incorporate your reasons for wanting to move from the private or public sector – or to commit to a charity straight out of university – into a compelling narrative?

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New Oxfam app aims to rebuild trust in charities and increase donations

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 00:00:02 GMT2017-01-09T00:00:02Z

The charity wants to increase transparency by providing updates on its work and allowing donors to track giving

Oxfam, one of the UK’s biggest charities, plans to harness the power of the smartphone to bring donors closer to its work.

The global poverty reduction charity is launching an app, My Oxfam, that it says will make donating easy and rewarding. The app will also bring supporters closer to the charity’s projects, offer a new level of transparency around its work, and aims to help regain donors’ trust after a rocky couple of years for the charity sector.

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How to start volunteering: ‘Stop whining, I tell myself. Do something’

Sat, 07 Jan 2017 08:00:14 GMT2017-01-07T08:00:14Z

I assumed I didn’t have enough time – that was my first mistake

From being happier to quitting sugar – how to achieve your goal

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 2016 was the year I felt the urge to spend more of my time helping others. At the age of 31, I feel more settled in my life, while the world seems anything but. The news has made me tearful on several occasions, but I got to a point, quietly sobbing in the shower one morning, when I realised crying is redundant. Stop whining, I told myself. Do something.

Soon after I moved to Queen’s Park, north London, I read about a local charity, Salusbury World, that supports refugee and migrant children and their families. They were looking for people to help with an after-school reading club. I liked the idea of getting involved in a charity supporting refugees, and even better, one that was within my own community. But the club started at 3pm and I work full time. Too impractical; I’ll think of something else, I thought. Months went by.

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Cash-strapped cities, don’t seek private cash – sweat your own assets

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 06:43:10 GMT2017-01-09T06:43:10Z

Just as Airbnb turned spare rooms into extra income, cities should start making money from their own real estate

Most cities are strapped for cash – in rich countries, as well as poor ones. Many investments in infrastructure, public facilities and city development have to wait, even when they are well worth their costs.

A mounting backlog of public investment can lead to poor transport, congestion, a degraded water supply and, apart from those practicalities, an unattractive and deteriorating city environment. In fact, some cities end up in a vicious cycle where dilapidation induces employers to move elsewhere.

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A post-truth civil service? That way madness lies

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 10:16:12 GMT2017-01-04T10:16:12Z

Attacking civil servants is easy game. But Whitehall needs to respond by getting out into the real world

I imagine that Mark Lowcock, like most civil servants, had a draining 2016. The Christmas break might have offered a little respite, but instead, the permanent secretary at the Department for International Development found being personally targeted by the Daily Mail, following publication of the New Year honours list. I can only hope he took it in good cheer.

Related: Public servants celebrated in 2017 New Year honours list

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Public-private partnerships are risky, but can pay off

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 15:42:46 GMT2017-01-03T15:42:46Z

Donald Trump wants $1tn of private funding for US infrastructure but he, and other world leaders, must learn from past failures

As US president-elect Donald Trump looks to private finance to spur $1tn in US infrastructure investment, he and his team may want to evaluate the benefits – and the challenges – of other countries’ public-private partnerships.

One clear lesson is that governments need to pay close attention to contract structures to ensure private partners can be held to account.

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Local government, fire and police chiefs honoured in 2017 New Year honours list

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 22:30:11 GMT2016-12-30T22:30:11Z

Officials and politicians from local government, fire and police services have been named in the latest New Year honours list

Senior officials and politicians in local government, as well as those in the fire and police services, receive honours in the 2017 New Year honours list.

There is a CBE for Dr Jane Martin, who has been the local government ombudsman since 2010 and chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England since 2012.

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Public servants celebrated in 2017 New Year honours list

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 22:30:11 GMT2016-12-30T22:30:11Z

Mark Lowcock, DfID permanent secretary, and David Beamish, the most senior official in the House of Lords, are among many public sector officials honoured

Mark Lowcock, permanent secretary of the Department for International Development (DfID), and David Beamish, the most senior official in the House of Lords, are both made Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2017 New Year honours list: two of many public servants celebrated for their public service.

Lowcock has held the most senior civil service job in DfID since 2011. He recently told Civil Service World that 2016 had been “a funny old year”, but highlighted the first anniversary of Sierra Leone being Ebola-free as “an inspiring reminder of what the civil service at its best can achieve: committed, adaptable and highly-skilled people joining up to contain an epidemic”.

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Is sugar the world’s most popular drug? | Gary Taubes

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 06:00:41 GMT2017-01-05T06:00:41Z

It eases pain, seems to be addictive and shows every sign of causing long-term health problems. Is it time to quit sugar for good?

Imagine a drug that can intoxicate us, can infuse us with energy and can be taken by mouth. It doesn’t have to be injected, smoked, or snorted for us to experience its sublime and soothing effects. Imagine that it mixes well with virtually every food and particularly liquids, and that when given to infants it provokes a feeling of pleasure so profound and intense that its pursuit becomes a driving force throughout their lives.

Could the taste of sugar on the tongue be a kind of intoxication? What about the possibility that sugar itself is an intoxicant, a drug? Overconsumption of this drug may have long-term side-effects, but there are none in the short term – no staggering or dizziness, no slurring of speech, no passing out or drifting away, no heart palpitations or respiratory distress. When it is given to children, its effects may be only more extreme variations on the apparently natural emotional rollercoaster of childhood, from the initial intoxication to the tantrums and whining of what may or may not be withdrawal a few hours later. More than anything, it makes children happy, at least for the period during which they’re consuming it. It calms their distress, eases their pain, focuses their attention and leaves them excited and full of joy until the dose wears off. The only downside is that children will come to expect another dose, perhaps to demand it, on a regular basis.

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Coroner says hospital's failures led to death of woman after caesarean

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 13:31:59 GMT2017-01-16T13:31:59Z

Inquest criticises care given to Frances Cappuccini, 30, during and after labour at Tunbridge Wells hospital

A series of medical failures led to the death of a young mother who had begged to be given a caesarean section, a coroner has found.

Frances Cappuccini, a 30-year-old primary school teacher, died at Tunbridge Wells hospital hours after giving birth to her second son.

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The sugar conspiracy | Ian Leslie

Thu, 07 Apr 2016 05:00:15 GMT2016-04-07T05:00:15Z

In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?

Robert Lustig is a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity. A 90-minute talk he gave in 2009, titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has now been viewed more than six million times on YouTube. In it, Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic.

A year or so before the video was posted, Lustig gave a similar talk to a conference of biochemists in Adelaide, Australia. Afterwards, a scientist in the audience approached him. Surely, the man said, you’ve read Yudkin. Lustig shook his head. John Yudkin, said the scientist, was a British professor of nutrition who had sounded the alarm on sugar back in 1972, in a book called Pure, White, and Deadly.

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Steve Hewlett: ‘People say I’m brave about cancer, but I’m realistic. I’m a storyteller’

Sat, 15 Oct 2016 23:05:18 GMT2016-10-15T23:05:18Z

When the broadcaster decided to discuss his medical journey on Radio 4, he was surprised by the reaction

Back in March, the broadcaster and journalist Steve Hewlett received the sort of mortal shock that frequently opens a newspaper article about how to deal with a serious illness: he was told by doctors, almost out of the blue, that he had an aggressive form of cancer that would be difficult to treat.

But Hewlett’s long experience as a journalist and media commentator for the BBC meant his story has followed a far less private path than most.

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Which country has the world's best healthcare system?

Tue, 09 Feb 2016 07:00:13 GMT2016-02-09T07:00:13Z

We look at how patients pay for healthcare around the world and the general standard of care they might expect

Healthcare is a costly item in national budgets, but who gets the best value for money, and who the best outcomes? We compare the systems in some of the world’s leading countries for healthcare.

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Michel Roux to give thousands in back pay to Le Gavroche chefs

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 08:00:15 GMT2016-12-19T08:00:15Z

Christmas bonus for kitchen staff as restaurateur makes up for sub-minimum wage pay, saying it was not intentional

The former MasterChef host Michel Roux Jr has begun reimbursing staff who were paid less than the legal minimum wage at his £212-a-head Mayfair restaurant.

Current and former chefs at Le Gavroche are in line for payments running to thousands of pounds each after a Guardian investigation last month exposed Roux for paying kitchen staff, who worked up to 68 hours a week, as little as £5.50 an hour. The wages worked out at well below the £7.20 legal minimum for people aged over 24.

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No smoke without fire: e-cigarette explodes in man’s pocket – video

Fri, 04 Nov 2016 09:51:34 GMT2016-11-04T09:51:34Z

CCTV footage captures the moment an e-cigarette suddenly explodes in a man’s pocket and briefly engulfs him in sparks and flames. Amine Britel was outside his nightclub in Toulouse, France on 29 October when the e-cigarette caught fire. Britel suffered second-degree burns according to local media, and has reported the incident to the device’s manufacturer

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