Published33 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, GoogleAn inmate appeared on interview panels for officers in the jail where he was imprisoned, the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) has said.The POA said “a rogue deputy governor” at HMP High Down selected the inmate to be on the panel and ignored concerns.The POA’s general secretary Steve Gillan said the incident was “outrageous” and has asked Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis to intervene.The Ministry of Justice has been contacted for a response.The BBC has also sought comment directly from HMP High Down, an institution for men and young offenders in Surrey, near the border with Sutton in south London.’Political correctness gone mad’Mr Gillan said the association was “saddened” to speak out publicly about the incident, as there were “more important issues” affecting the prison system.He said that “parading prison officers before prisoners on interview panels to determine their suitability for a particular role in their employment is not needed, or indeed appropriate”.Image source, GoogleHe added: “It is outrageous and certainly not the norm and could bring the service into disrepute.”This sends the wrong message not only to prison officers, but the general public as well.”It is political correctness gone mad, and we request the secretary of state for justice to intervene and give clear direction that this should not take place in future. “The governor in question has indicated that he intends to use this practice again. To get the endorsement of a prisoner on an interview board is just not credible.”When inspectors last conducted an official visit there in 2021, they described it as a ” troubled prison confronting difficult, long-term challenges”, and reported a number of significant concerns about the treatment of and conditions for prisoners.More on this storyThousands of new prison spaces to be created18 FebruaryPrison officers ‘ignoring’ body-cam rules23 May 2019Declining jail’s bosses ‘left in dark’4 September 2018Prison officers attacked as ‘punch bags’5 May 2016Prisoners ‘eat meals near cell toilets’7 September 2016Related Internet LinksHigh Down PrisonThe BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Kwarteng sidesteps questions on mini-budget U-turn
Welsh Ambulance Service: GMB to hold industrial action ballot
Published25 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesThe Welsh Ambulance Service faces a strike vote as one union representing them launches a formal industrial action ballot.Paramedics and ambulance staff were angry over the government’s imposed 4% pay award.GMB Union is calling on the UK and Welsh governments to uplift the pay for “hard pressed” staff. The Welsh government said without extra funding from Westminster there were limits in how far it could go.Ballot dates will be announced in the coming days. ‘Sticking plaster’The vote comes following a consultative ballot which saw 90% of GMB’s almost 1,500 Welsh Ambulance Service members voted in favour of a walk out. GMB organiser, Kelly Andrews, said: “Unfortunately, 4% is like a sticking plaster on an open wound – it’s not going to help.”Ambulance staff are at the forefront of our emergency services, and already underpaid and undervalued for the work they do.”The UK and Welsh governments need to come back to the table with something that recognises their hard work, plain and simple.” The Welsh government said it has accepted the independent pay review body’s recommendations in full, but without additional funding from the UK government, there were “inevitably limits” to how far we can go in Wales. “We continue to press the UK government to pass on the necessary funding for full and fair pay rises for public sector workers,” said a spokesperson.”We have committed to continue to explore a range of other issues raised as part of our discussions with trade unions.”More on this storyAmbulance workers face strike ballot over pay3 days agoAmbulance workers to vote on strike action6 days agoNursing staff levels creating ‘unacceptable risk’6 days agoNurses urged to strike for first time over pay7 days agoAmbulance staff in strike ballot over pay rise30 SeptemberAttacks on 999 workers in Wales up again to 3,00030 MayParamedics describe job as soul destroying25 March
Nurse accused of murder ‘cared deeply about babies’
Published32 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingA nurse accused of murdering babies on a neonatal ward “cared deeply” for those she had to look after, a court has heard. Lucy Letby is charged with killing seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others at Countess of Chester Hospital in 2015 and 2016.Outlining Ms Letby’s defence, Ben Myers KC, said she was a “dedicated nurse” and in “no way did she want to harm them”.Ms Letby, 32, denies 22 charges.Mr Myers told the court: “She trained hard to be a neonatal nurse and what she wanted was to care for babies she looked after.”The defence say she is not guilty of causing intentional harm to any baby or to killing any baby.”She loved her job. She cared deeply about the babies and also cared for their families.”She had a fulfilling life, had friends, a life outside work.”Manchester Crown Court earlier heard how she had penned passages including “I am evil” and “I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to care for them”.The notes were among other papers and post-it notes which also contained “many protestations of innocence”, the jury was told.Image source, CPSBut Mr Myers said “anyone with an ounce of human understanding” would see the notes as “the anguished outpouring of a young woman in fear and despair when she realises the enormity of what is being said about her”. He continued: “We recognise the sadness and the stress, and even the anger, that comes with allegations like these.”I start on behalf of the defence by acknowledging how upsetting the allegations will be and acknowledging the very great loss and sadness of the families involved.”Anything that I do, or say, during this trial is not intended to diminish that in any way.”But he told jurors it would be “staggeringly unfair” to convict a person without a word of evidence.Nurse killed baby and sent parents card, jury toldMum walked in on nurse killing baby, jury hearsNurse poisoned babies with insulin, trial toldHe said there was “a real danger” people will simply accept the prosecution theory of guilt “based firmly on coincidence”.Pointing to Ms Letby, of Hereford, sitting in the dock, he told jurors: “It is important to be careful that blame is not heaped on that woman when there may be others who have made mistakes or a system which has failed.”In some cases, he said, no-one could say why a particular child deteriorated or died.Image source, Julia Quenzler/BBCMr Myers said the jury had been shown Ms Letby’s text messages, her Facebook searches on the families of babies she was alleged to have harmed and “pieces of paper” and mentioned “amateur psychology”.But he said the “foundation” of the case was medical evidence.Mr Myers said causes of a baby’s deterioration or death were not always clear.He added in this case the babies were “clinically fragile” and in conditions that could change “very swiftly and deteriorate very rapidly”.Mr Myers said: “Ms Letby is adamant she’s done nothing intentionally to harm these babies.”With Child A, the first murder count, Ms Letby was said to have injected air into the child, but he said the defence does not accept an air embolus – or air bubble – was the cause of death. Mr Myers said the “polite” way of describing the care of Child A on the unit was “sub-optimal”.With Child B, who was Child A’s twin sister, who Ms Letby is accused of trying to kill, it was a “good example” of the “assumption of guilt” and experts had been “influenced by the theory of harm”.Mr Myers said Child C, who Ms Letby is also alleged to have murdered by injecting him with air, was a “very premature” baby, born at 30 weeks.He said such babies were vulnerable, especially to infection, and Child C should have been at a specialist children’s hospital.Mr Myers said the hospital failed to provide adequate care for Child D, who Ms Letby was alleged to have murdered with air.He said it was “beyond dispute” Child D should have been given antibiotics hours before she was treated with them, and there was more evidence infection played a part in her death.Image source, PA MediaHe said the prosecution alleged Ms Letby injected Child E with a fatal amount of air and attacked him in front of his mother.He said: “We say there is no clear explanation in his case for what happened.”That being so, it is not right to rely on the assumption of guilt.”He next turned to allegations that Ms Letby attempted to murder Child F – the twin brother of Child E – and Child L by poisoning them with insulin. The barrister said there was “nothing in fact” to establish this.Child G, who Ms Letby is accused of attempting to murder on three occasions, was an “extremely premature” baby who was “high risk”, he said.The defence did not accept Ms Letby did anything to contribute to Child’s G health problems in the neonatal unit.Child H, who Ms Letby is alleged to have attacked twice, was another example of “sub-optimal care” by the hospital and “nothing to do with Lucy Letby”, he said.Mr Myers said the defence did not accept Ms Letby caused any harm to Child I, who she is said to have tried to kill on three occasions before succeeding on the fourth attempt.He said: “We will say her collapses and ultimately death were part of a series of clinical problems which may well have been inevitable given her extreme prematurity.”Mr Myers said the hospital was “well out of its depth” with Child J, who Ms Letby is said to have tried to murder, and knowing how to treat her.He said an assumption of deliberate harm had been made rather than an alternative explanation of a baby receiving inadequate care.Child K, who is subject of another count of attempted murder, was said to have been harmed with the deliberate dislodging of a breathing tube. But Mr Myers said the probable cause was the child inadvertently moving the tube herself.Her case was another example of “sub-optimal care” in that she should have been treated at a more specialist unit. ‘Complicated case’Mr Myers said the defence did not accept that Child M, who is the twin brother of Child L, was harmed by an injection of excessive air or airway obstruction.The defence’s insisted there was no obvious cause of his collapse.Mr Myers said: “We are back in the territory of blame being put on Lucy Letby because there is no obvious alternative.”Addressing the allegation that Child N was deliberately harmed by a nasogastric tube being pushed into his throat which caused him to scream, Mr Myers said: “The defence observe there are many reasons why a baby will shout or scream. Image source, SWNS”We say it is more far more likely to be hunger. That may sound banal but sometimes it can be true.”Mr Myers said Child N was another baby who received “sub-optimal care” – not from Ms Letby – and should have been treated elsewhere.The barrister said there was no evidence that Ms Letby inflicted harm to either Child O or Child P – two of three triplets – who she is said to have murdered, or to Child Q, who she allegedly attempted to murder.Finally, Mr Myers said there were problems with the way the neonatal unit was run, suggesting it was overstretched and understaffed.He added: “This whole case is complicated. “Sat in that dock is a young woman who says this is not her fault, so we need to look at the evidence.”The trial was adjourned until Friday morning.Why not follow BBC North West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? You can also send story ideas to [email protected] on this storyNurse wrote ‘I killed them on purpose’, trial told28 minutes agoNurse killed baby and sent parents card, jury told20 hours agoMum walked in on nurse killing baby, trial told2 days agoNurse poisoned babies with insulin, trial told3 days agoRelated Internet LinksHM Courts ServiceThe BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Neath Labour MP Christina Rees suspended from party
Published11 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, House of CommonsNeath MP Christina Rees has been suspended from Labour following reported allegations of bullying.The politician, who has represented the constituency since 2015, has lost the party whip pending an investigation.It means the former shadow Welsh secretary will sit in the Commons as an independent. The Guardian said Ms Rees faces allegations of bullying staff.Ms Rees told the newspaper she was cooperating fully with the investigation.The party has declined to comment.The MP took her seat in 2015 after Peter Hain stood down at that year’s general election.Profile: Shadow Welsh Secretary ReesRees appointed shadow Welsh secretaryShe is the 14th MP to be sitting in parliament as an independent, joining others who have lost the whip from their parties.Born in the village of Kenfig Hill in south Wales, the qualified barrister has represented Wales in squash more than 100 times.She was a member of the Great Britain Youth Team to the Munich Olympics.Ms Rees was married to former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies until they divorced in 1999.She told the Guardian: “There has been a complaint made against me to the Labour Party, which is under investigation and I am therefore under an administrative suspension until the process is concluded. I’m not aware of the details of the complaint but I am fully cooperating with the investigation.”More on this storyLabour not blocking Brexit, says Rees29 January 2019Profile: Shadow Welsh Secretary Rees10 February 2017Rees appointed shadow Welsh secretary9 February 2017
Two Huawei 5G kit-removal deadlines put back
Published39 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesThe government has extended two deadlines for the removal of Huawei equipment from the UK’s 5G networks.The requirement to remove the Chinese company’s products from the network core has been pushed back 11 months, to 31 December 2023.And a limit on the amount of Huawei kit in fibre-broadband infrastructure must now be achieved by the end of October,l rather than July, next year.It follows advice from the National Cyber Security Centre.The NCSC decided the security of Huawei’s products could no longer be managed, in 2020, following a US decision to place the company under sanctions, and the UK government said all its equipment had to be stripped out of the UK by the end of 2027.This and eight other interim deadlines remain unchanged.’Network outages’The US authorities fear Huawei’s 5G equipment makes countries vulnerable to their data being accessed by the Chinese state or having critically important services switched off.Huawei has denied being controlled by the Chinese government or posing a security threat.The new deadline extensions follow consultations with Huawei and UK telecoms providers.The government said a small number of operators had indicated – because of the pandemic and global supply-chain issues – the original deadlines risked network outages and disruption for customers.Providers should meet the original targets wherever possible, it said, and it expected most of them would do so.’Security risk’The direction to remove Huawei equipment is also being put on a legal footing through the handing of notices called designated-vendor directions to all 35 UK telecoms network operators, under the Telecoms Security Act, which came into force in November 2021.Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said it allowed the government to “drive up the security of telecoms infrastructure and control the use of high-risk equipment”.”We must have confidence in the security of our phone and internet networks, which underpin so much about our economy and everyday lives,” she added.NCSC technical director Dr Ian Levy said: “The Telecoms Security Act ensures we can be confident in the resilience of the everyday services on which we rely and the legal requirements in this designated-vendor direction are a key part of the security journey.”Huawei has been issued a separate document – a designation notice – which categorises the company as a high-risk vendor of 5G network equipment and services and sets out all of the reasons the government considers it a national security risk, including the impact of the US sanctions.More on this storyBiden tightens restrictions on Huawei and ZTE12 November 2021Huawei 5G decision ‘will cost up to £2bn’14 July 2020How will the Huawei 5G deal affect me?28 January 2020
Baby Freddie ‘might have lived’ without c-section delays
Published1 hour agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, GoogleA baby whose mother was third in the queue for an emergency caesarean might have lived had he been delivered sooner, an inquest has heard.Jay Whewell’s son Freddie died five days after he was delivered on 24 May 2020 at Gloucester Royal Hospital.His skull was fractured in delivery and his brain was starved of oxygen. “If we had got Mrs Whewell into theatre 20 minutes earlier, we might not be in the situation we are now in,” a consultant obstetrician told the court.Freddie was transferred to Bristol’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit but later died.The inquest at Gloucestershire Coroner’s Court heard the maternity unit in Gloucester had just one theatre available at the time, and it was very difficult for a second to be opened at weekends.Mrs Whewell was deemed the least urgent of three mothers all requiring urgent medical intervention during labour. Consultant obstetrician Maggie Arlidge said: “Freddie only had a suspicion of an abnormal cardiotocography (foetal heartbeat) as he had not entered the birthing canal, but there is no doubt in my mind that Mrs Whewell needed to go into theatre.”‘Wish I hadn’t’She said most cases of that nature did not have fatal outcomes. Dr Arlidge continued: “In an ideal scenario we would always have a theatre team available.”Mrs Whewell was transferred to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital from a birthing unit in Cheltenham after she developed problems in labour.The inquest heard that before going into theatre, she was given a small dose of oxytocin which can increase the strength of contractions. In some cases, more powerful contractions can restrict the baby’s blood and oxygen flow. Dr Arlidge said: “I administered a small dose of oxytocin, which seemed to have an adverse effect on baby Freddie.”With hindsight I wish I hadn’t offered the drug, but it was administered because of the circumstances we found ourselves in.”Dr Andrew Bamber, a consultant paediatrician based at the North Bristol NHS Trust who carried out a post-mortem examination, concluded the cause of death was traumatic and hypoxic injury to the brain.His injuries were consistent with a difficult delivery by the impaction of the skull and the pelvis requiring manual manipulation of the head, Dr Bamber said. He said an additional cause of death was the impact of oxygen deprivation on Freddie’s other organs during delivery. Dr Bamber also found a tiny hole in Freddie’s heart and issues with his kidneys and bladder.The inquest is due to conclude on Friday. Related Internet LinksGloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustSands – Stillbirth and neonatal death charityThe BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Housing slowdown warning after mortgage rates rise
Published32 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesThere have been fresh warnings of a housing slowdown after the number of people struggling to pay mortgages was forecast to hit a 15-year high.House sales in September hit their lowest levels since the height of the pandemic, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.Rising mortgage rates will drive house prices down this year, it warned.On Wednesday, the Bank of England said the number struggling to pay mortgages would rise sharply next year.New house buyer inquiries fell in September, marking the fifth month in a row they had fallen, according to Rics.It said there continued to be fewer properties for sale which had helped push up housing prices by a small amount, but it warned this was likely to end.Rics chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said although house prices were still rising, “storm clouds” were gathering over both pricing and sales. “It is difficult not to envisage further pressure on the housing sector as the economy adjusts to higher interest rates and the tight labour market begins to reverse,” he said. “For now, mortgage arrears and possessions remain at historic lows but they are inevitably going to move upwards over the next year, as pressure on homeowners grows,” he added. Disabled man tells of winter food cost fearsHouse prices to feel ‘pressure’ from rate rises Rental housing market ‘completely unsustainable'”However, as lenders have been a lot more cautious through this cycle, with high loan-to-value mortgages accounting for a much smaller share of the lending book than in the past, this should help to limit the adverse impact on the market.”Mortgage rates, which had been rising since the Bank of England started to increase interest in December, shot up sharply after the government’s mini-budget in September sparked alarm among investors.The promise of huge, unfunded tax cuts led to expectations that the Bank will have to raise interest rates more aggressively than previously thought, and mortgage providers are pricing their loans accordingly. On Thursday the average two-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.46%, according to researcher Moneyfacts, the highest since 2008. The average five-year fixed deal was 6.28%, also close to a 14-year high.’Increasing pressure’The Bank of England said many households would struggle if interest rates rose as high as the market expected them to, with it hitting both mortgage holders and renters. Currently it says around 1.7% of UK households – or 475,000 – are in a position where they are more likely to experience repayment difficulties. It defines that as having to spend more than 70% of their take-home pay on mortgage or rent and essentials.But it believes that percentage will rise to 2.8% – or around 800,000 households – by the end of next year. “Rises in the cost of living and interest rates will increase pressure on UK household finances and make households more vulnerable to shocks,” the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee said in a report on Wednesday. “Some may find it harder to repay debts,” it added, unless they can make significant spending cuts. However, it also said households were better placed to deal with financial stress than in the past, having less debt relative to their incomes. The share of people with high loan-to-value mortgages is also much lower. “This reduces the risk of them defaulting on debt and banks are now required to be flexible in their response,” the Bank said. It forecasts that about 1.7 million of the country’s 11 million mortgage holders will have to refinance their loans in the coming year, moving onto much higher rates. More on this storyDisabled man tells of winter food cost fears2 days agoHouse prices to feel ‘pressure’ from rate rises5 days agoRental housing market ‘completely unsustainable’4 October
Edenfield Centre: Council calls for public inquiry over abuse
Published30 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingCouncillors have called for a public inquiry into failings at a mental health hospital where patients were filmed being mistreated.A BBC Panorama investigation found a “toxic culture of humiliation, verbal abuse and bullying” at the Edenfield Centre in Prestwich near Manchester.Manchester’s health scrutiny committee said it was a “catastrophic disaster”.Hospital bosses said they took immediate action including suspending staff and launching a clinical review.Andrew Maloney, deputy chief executive of Greater Manchester Mental Health (GMMH) NHS Foundation Trust which runs the centre, told councillors at a health scrutiny meeting disciplinary procedures started as soon as it was informed of the allegations with a “significant number of staff” suspended.He said senior staff were deployed to the centre, which was closed to new admissions, and it launched an independent clinical review of the centre with the findings expected to be reported to the trust’s board by the end of this month, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.However, the committee was not satisfied with the response, describing the situation at the centre as a “catastrophic disaster”.Labour councillor Pat Karney said the “failure of senior leadership” merits a public inquiry, saying it was “unimaginable” the issues were not picked up.’Put right wrongs’Other councillors questioned whether whistleblowers had reported these issues to the trust before the investigation.However, Mr Maloney said he could not answer questions about the ongoing investigation due to the sensitive nature of the allegations made by the BBC.Greater Manchester Police’s investigation into the allegations is also ongoing.Image source, BBC Labour councillor Tom Robinson, executive member for Healthy Manchester and Adult Social Care, said he would write to the Secretary of State for Health requesting a public inquiry into the allegations.He said: “I, like many, watched that documentary and there’s a certain point that made me cry.”We have a duty to those patients who are now victims and the courage demonstrated by their families to… do everything we can in partnership with the Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust.”Speaking on behalf of the trust at the meeting, Mr Maloney said: “We are wholeheartedly committed to do whatever it takes to put right these wrongs and to preventing them from happening again.”Why not follow BBC North West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? You can also send story ideas to [email protected] on this storyCare watchdog praised bosses at abuse hospital4 OctoberRevealed: Mental health unit’s ‘toxic culture’ of abuse28 SeptemberYears of scandal and promises as patients suffer28 September‘I’ve been treated like I’m an animal’28 SeptemberI went undercover to expose abuse at mental health unit29 SeptemberAround the BBCPanorama – Undercover Hospital – Patients at RiskRelated Internet LinksManchester City CouncilThe BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Cost of living: Queen’s University Belfast to spend £8m on support
Published14 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, haoliang/Getty ImagesBy Robbie MeredithBBC News NI Education CorrespondentQueen’s University Belfast is to spend about £8m making extra cost-of-living payments to students and most staff.Most of the university’s 25,000 students will receive £150, although about 3,600 students from lower-income families will get a higher payment of £400.About 3,000 staff – all staff apart from senior managers – will receive between £500 and £750. But the payments will not be made until January 2023.Inflation is increasing at nearly its fastest rate in 40 years, driven largely by the rising cost of food and fuel. The university recently declared a “critical incident” due to rises in the cost of living and said it would bring forward measures to help staff and students.Some of those measures have now been agreed by senate, the university’s governing body.’Greatest need after Christmas’The university’s vice-chancellor Prof Ian Greer told BBC News NI he was “very concerned” about the cost-of-living pressures on students and staff.”There’s no doubt that fuel in particular has been a problem across the board, not just for our student population but our staff also,” he said.”In addition the cost of food is also increasing and that causes general hardship for students who are on a very modest income in any event.”Prof Greer was asked by BBC News NI why it would take until January for students to get the payments.”Students have largely just received their student loan support funding, and we felt the time of greatest need would be just after the Christmas period,” he replied.Students will also not have to pay any fees to graduate – normally £47 – in 2022/23.All library fines will also be waived and any student discipline fines halved.University declares cost-of-living critical incidentShould students have to pay for graduation?The 3,600 students who will receive the higher £400 payment are those whose family household income is below £25,000 a year.Staff will also receive their cost-of-living payment in January.”The pressures for the cost of living crisis that I’ve outlined for students – things like fuel, cost of housing, cost of food – are real pressures for our staff,” Prof Greer said.BreakfastsThe university will spend about £5.5m on the cost-of-living payments for students and around £2.5m on the payments for staff.Prof Greer said the university was also considering further measures, including providing breakfasts for staff and students, and decisions would be made on those in the coming weeks.He also told BBC News NI the university was facing an increase of “several million pounds” in its energy bills.Separately, a number of schools in Northern Ireland had previously decided to offer more pupils free meals in response to rises in the cost of living.Queen’s University had previously spent about £4.5m in July 2022 on payments of between £1,000 and £150 to staff for their work during the Covid pandemic.Ulster University also paid most of its staff an extra cost-of-living payment of up to £1,000 in June 2022.More on this storyUniversity declares cost-of-living critical incident5 days agoCost-of-living payment for Ulster University staff7 June
Bondi Rescue: Hatfield boy who saved toddler surprised by TV hero
Channel migrants: Smugglers claim boat shortages affecting crossings