Sir Tom Jones: Abuse is common in music industry too

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 19, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site

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Sir Tom said: “What’s tried on women is tried on men as well”

Sir Tom Jones has said the abuse and harassment alleged to have taken place in Hollywood is also widespread in the music industry.

The singer was discussing the allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein in an interview with the BBC.

“Things have always happened in the music industry as well,” he said.

“There’s been people complaining about publicists and different things they’ve been expected to do to get a record contract, just like a film contract.”

Asked on BBC Radio 5 live’s Afternoon Edition whether it was something he’d experienced, Sir Tom replied: “Yes. At the beginning, yes.

“There were a few things like that. But you avoid it. You just walk out… But what’s tried on women is tried on men as well.”

‘Justice will out’

Sir Tom said the encounter early in his career made him feel “terrible”.

“But then you think, ‘Well, I’ve got to get away from this person and it can’t be like this.’

“You should know that yourself, you don’t do things just because you think, ‘I should do this.’ Your own mind will tell you that. Not just in showbusiness, but in any thing you’re in.”

He added: “There’s always been that element there that people with power sometimes abuse it, but they don’t all abuse it, there are good people.”

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Sir Tom is currently a coach on ITV’s The Voice

Asked further about his own experience, he said: “It wasn’t bad, just somebody tried to pull… it was a question and I said ‘No thank you.’”

The singer was asked about the number of allegations against major figures in the film industry that have come out in recent days.

He replied: “Things happen in showbusiness, and sometimes things are covered up and then they come to light and other people come forward – it’s like taking the cork off of a bottle.

“Things come out that maybe should’ve come out years ago, who knows. But that’s the way it is with showbusiness, you are in the public eye, and that’s it, you have to take the good with the bad.

“But justice will out. If you’ve done something wrong you’ve got to pay for it, or prove that you haven’t done anything wrong.”

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41672902

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Chief constable Hamilton investigated by ombudsman

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 19, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site

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Press Eye

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PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton (left), Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris (centre) and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton deny the allegations

Northern Ireland’s two most senior police officers are under investigation for alleged misconduct in public office and criminality that could amount to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Chief Constable George Hamilton and his deputy Drew Harris are being investigated by the Police Ombudsman.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton is also under investigation.

In a statement, the PSNI said they “completely refute the allegations”.

The inquiry focuses on concerns about how the Police Service of Northern Ireland conducted an investigation into allegations of bribery and fraud in 2014.

It includes allegations that entries in police notebooks and journals were changed.

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Press Eye

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Drew Harris, George Hamilton and Mark Hamilton

In a statement to the BBC, the Ombudsman’s office confirmed “a number of allegations” had been made against a range of officers.

BBC News NI has established that those under investigation include:

  • PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton
  • Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris
  • Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton

The nature of the complaints and the seniority of those under scrutiny make this investigation unprecedented.

In terms of current policing issues, it’s considered to be the most serious investigation the Ombudsman’s office has undertaken.

The investigation was launched after the Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, received complaints from seven people questioned as part of an investigation into allegations of bribery and misconduct in public office in the awarding of PSNI vehicle contracts.

They included retired PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland, and the former Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Mark Gilmore.

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Press Eye

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George Hamilton was appointed PSNI Chief Constable in May 2014 – he was previously Assistant Chief Constable

They were questioned in June 2014. Eighteen months later, the public prosecution service informed them that none would face any charges.

The Police Ombudsman has established a dedicated team of six investigators to examine the allegations about the PSNI investigation.

“They include allegations of criminality and misconduct in how this investigation was undertaken,” added the Ombudsman’s statement.

It’s understood the alleged criminality being investigated includes claims that entries in police notebooks and journals were changed.

There are also claims that the PSNI didn’t follow proper procedures to obtain warrants.

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Press Eye

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Drew Harris was appointed Deputy Chief Constable in October 2014

A solicitor for those who lodged complaints said he believed there were a number of serious flaws in the way the PSNI conducted the investigation against his clients.

“It is our contention that there is evidence of serious criminal activity on the part of members of the PSNI,” said Ernie Waterworth.

“It’s an extremely serious allegation and I have to say my clients thought long and hard before going down this road.”

The PSNI normally does not comment in detail on live investigations by the Ombudsman, but on this occasion has robustly rejected the allegations.

“The Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and other officers completely refute the allegations made against them and are strongly of the view that these complex investigations into the complainants were conducted with professionalism and integrity,” said its statement.

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Press Eye

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Mark Hamilton was appointed Assistant Chief Constable in July 2013

It said the PSNI “acknowledges and supports the need for office of the Police Ombudsman to investigate these allegations and all officers are co-operating fully with the investigation”.

Explaining its unusual decision to give a more detailed response, the statement said media coverage of the investigation “has the potential to negatively impact on public confidence in policing”.

Sources have told BBC News NI that the PSNI consulted a number of external criminal justice agencies throughout the 2014 investigation, which it was fully satisfied was conducted properly.

The Ombudsman has declared the investigation a “critical incident”.

That means it’s considered a matter that “could have a significant impact on the person making the complaint, on the police or on the wider community”.

The PSNI said it had “full confidence” in the Ombudsman to complete a thorough investigation, adding that he should be allowed to do so “without ongoing public commentary”.

The investigation is expected to take more than a year to complete.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-41666235

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Brexit: May offers more assurances to EU nationals

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 19, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site

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Theresa May says the future of British and EU nationals has always been her “first priority”

Theresa May has vowed to make it as easy as possible for EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit ahead of a key summit of European leaders.

In a Facebook post, the prime minister insisted the application process for settled status would be “streamlined” and the cost “as low as possible”.

She said representatives of EU citizens will sit on a “user group” which will iron out any problems in the system.

The other 27 EU leaders will assess overall progress in the talks so far.

At a meeting on Friday, at which the UK will not be present, they are expected to conclude officially that “insufficient progress” has been made on the status of EU nationals in the UK and British expats on the continent – and other separation issues – to move onto the second phase of trade discussions.

European Council President Donald Tusk said there would be no “breakthrough” at the two-day summit, but progress could be achieved by the next scheduled meeting of EU leaders in December.

  • EU bill ‘won’t be debated this month’
  • Brexit: What is at stake in EU-UK talks?
  • Deadlock over UK’s Brexit bill – Barnier

Before leaving for Brussels, Mrs May used her Facebook post to offer further assurances to the three million or so nationals of other EU countries living in the UK and uncertain about their future after Brexit.

In her message, she said those who already had permanent residence would be able to “swap this” for settled status in as hassle-free a way as possible.

Some encouragement for UK

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Analysis by Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly

The October summit was always the first date in the EU calendar on which a gathering of the 27 heads of government could declare themselves satisfied with the Brexit divorce negotiations and agree to start talking about trade.

It’s been clear for weeks that they won’t do that – but they will offer the UK some encouragement by starting internal discussions about future trade with the UK – ready for any breakthrough at the next summit in December.

Theresa May isn’t expected to make any big new proposal in her after-dinner remarks but to underline the quality of the financial offer made in her speech in Florence – worth around £20bn.

The EU side wants more though – more money as well as further movement on citizens rights and the Irish border.

There are almost as many predictions about what happens next as there as diplomats in Brussels; one has suggested that the prospects of a December breakthrough are no better than fifty-fifty but an official close to the talks said the signal on Brexit from this summit would be fundamentally positive.

  • Kuenssberg: Whiff of foreboding about Brexit talks

“I know there is real anxiety about how the agreement will be implemented,” she wrote.

“People are concerned that the process will be complicated and bureaucratic, and will put up hurdles that are difficult to overcome. I want to provide reassurance here too.

“We are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future. This process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way.”

The process of applying for permanent residency, for which EU nationals are eligible after five years, has long been criticised as cumbersome and overly bureaucratic. At one point, it involved filling out an 85-page form.

‘People first’

In simplifying it, Mrs May said she was committed to putting “people first” in the negotiations and expected British nationals living on the continent to be treated in the same way.

“I know both sides will consider each other’s proposals with an open mind and with flexibility and creativity on both sides, I am confident we can conclude discussions on citizens’ rights in the coming weeks.”

Media captionThornberry: Labour will not accept a no-deal Brexit

Mrs May, who will address other leaders at a working dinner on Thursday, wants mutual dialogue on the UK’s future relationship with the EU, including trade and defence, to begin as soon as possible.

But Mr Tusk is expected to propose to the 27 EU leaders that they begin talks amongst themselves about Britain’s future relationship with the EU, when it leaves the bloc in March 2019.

As well as citizens’ rights, the two sides remain at odds over the so-called financial “divorce” settlement and the future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

A group of pro-Brexit Tory and Labour politicians – including former Chancellor Lord Lawson, former Conservative minister Owen Paterson and Labour MP Kate Hoey – is urging Mrs May to walk away from negotiations this week if the EU does not accommodate the UK’s wishes.

A letter to the PM, organised by the Leave Means Leave campaign and also signed by pro-Brexit business figures, says the government “has been more than patient” and “decisive action” is now needed to end the “highly damaging” levels of uncertainty facing businesses.

In the event of no progress at Thursday’s meeting, the letter says, Mrs May should formally declare the UK is working on the assumption it will be reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on 30 March 2019.

Early notification of such a move would allow the UK to “concentrate our resources on resolving administrative issues” and prepare to “crystallise the economic opportunities” of Brexit, it adds.

Meanwhile, a trade body for the UK’s creative sector has warned that money generated by it could be hit by a post-Brexit restriction on immigration.

The Creative Industries Federation (CIF) said the £87bn a year that UK-made films, music, adverts and video games generated for the UK economy was at risk if immigration was restricted.

The sector relies heavily on freelance staff, many of whom are from the EU, and the CIF wants the government to negotiate free movement of UK and EU workers for short-term projects.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41672097

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Weinstein scandal: Game of Thrones actress ‘felt powerless’

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 18, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site

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Getty Images

Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister on the popular HBO show, has accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.

The Hollywood mogul was “furious” after she resisted his sexual advances, she details in a series of Twitter posts.

The British actress joins a list of over 40 women who have accused the producer of misconduct.

Also on Tuesday, Weinstein resigned from the board of directors of his eponymous film production company.

He has been accused of rape, sexual assault and harassment, but has “unequivocally denied” any allegations of non-consensual relationships.

Despite being fired as chairman of The Weinstein Company studio on 8 October he had continued until Tuesday to hold a position on the company’s board.

Weinstein, who has been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that present the Oscar awards, still owns 22% of his company’s stock, according to Variety magazine.

Amid the fallout over the Weinstein accusations, Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios, also resigned on Tuesday over allegations of sexual harassment, according to US media.

Mr Price took a “leave of absence” last Thursday after Isa Hackett, a producer on the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle, told the Hollywood Reporter he allegedly sexually harassed her in 2015.

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Harvey Weinstein was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood

In her Twitter posts, Headey described sharing a lift with Weinstein after he had invited her to his room to show her a script.

“The lift was going up and I said to Harvey, ‘I’m not interested in anything other than work, please don’t think I got in here with you for any other reason, nothing is going to happen,’” she recalled.

“I don’t know what possessed me to speak out at that moment, only that I had such a strong sense of don’t come near me.

“He was silent after I spoke, furious.

“He walked me back to the lift by grabbing and holding tightly to the back of my arm,” she said, adding that she felt “completely powerless”.

After he allegedly “whispered” that she should not tell anyone about the encounter, she writes: “I got into my car and cried.”

  • Who has accused him of what?
  • Did everyone really know?

Headey’s story comes as other Hollywood actresses shared their stories of sexual harassment and impropriety in show business.

On Monday, Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon said she had been harassed by an unnamed film director when she was 16 years old, during a speech to the Elle Women in Hollywood event.

Jennifer Lawrence, who has won a Best Actress Oscar, spoke at the same event and described a casting call where she was made to stand nude in front of producers who criticised her weight.

“After that degrading and humiliating line-up, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet,” the star of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle told the Los Angeles audience.

Hollywood continues to speak out

DreamWorks film studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg meanwhile told a Wall Street Journal conference of Weinstein: “Make no mistake about it: he is a monster.”

He added Weinstein had been protected by other men around him, who he described as “a pack of wolves”.

Image copyright
Getty Images

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Jeffrey Katzenberg pictured with Harvey Weinstein at a charity event in 2005

Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg also got involved by writing a Facebook post about his early days at Miramax Films.

He wrote the movies Beautiful Girls and Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead at the time Weinstein’s profile was rising in the film industry.

In his post, he said that while he never heard any rape allegations, he was aware of Weinstein’s “dreadful” behaviour – and said “everybody” else knew, too.

‘I kept my mouth shut’

“I was there. And I saw you. And I talked about it with you,” he wrote. “You, the big producers; you, the big directors; you, the big agents; you, the big financiers.

“And you, the big rival studio chiefs; you, the big actors; you, the big actresses; you, the big models.

“You, the big journalists; you, the big screenwriters; you, the big rock stars; you, the big restaurateurs; you, the big politicians.”

  • How the scandal unfolded
  • UK police investigate new claims

He said others chose to ignore what was going on because they were enjoying themselves and because women were told it would ruin their careers if they said anything.

At the end of the piece, Rosenberg apologised for not doing anything.

“I reaped the rewards and I kept my mouth shut,” he said. “And for that, once again, I am sorry.”

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Getty Images

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Lauren Holly at a charity foundation event in February 2017

Beautiful Girls actress Lauren Holly has also come forward, sharing her story of harassment, describing an encounter she had with Weinstein.

The pair arranged a meeting in a hotel, which she didn’t find “abnormal at all” because she had routinely met producers, writers and directors in their suites.

She described the early stages of the meeting as normal, but said things turned sour when Weinstein walked into the hotel suite “wearing a hotel bathrobe”.

‘I pushed him and ran’

“He said, ‘OK, let’s get to it, this is what we’ve got going on at my company, these are the scripts we have in the pipeline, this is what I think might be right for you,’ and he gestured for me to follow him.”

Holly recounted that she followed him into the bedroom part of the suite as he continued talking.

Weinstein then showered and, when he emerged, was naked and started to approach her.

Holly said she started to run away, but that Weinstein began to threaten her, saying she needed to “keep him as [her] ally” and that it would be a “bad decision” if she left the room.

At that point, Holly said, she “pushed him and ran”.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41650350

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Universal Credit: MPs to debate rollout amid Labour pause call

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 18, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site

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Getty Images

MPs are to debate the rollout of Universal Credit amid continuing calls for changes to the way the government’s flagship welfare programme is working.

Labour is calling for the system, which merges six benefits into one, to be paused amid concerns about how long claimants wait to get the cash.

Senior backbencher Frank Field said people were being “pushed towards destitution” on a growing scale.

But ministers insist it is “safe to proceed” following “rigorous” testing.

The government has said anyone in financial distress can apply for advance payments.

The BBC Newsnight’s political editor Nick Watt said he understood ministers were also giving “serious thought” to cutting the initial waiting period for payments from six to four weeks around the time of next month’s Budget.

Universal credit is a new single benefit for working-age people, replacing income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, housing benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit.

It has been introduced in stages to different groups of claimants over the past four years, with about 590,000 people now receiving it through about 100 job centres.

‘I don’t even have 4p to my name’

‘Selling everything’ because of system

May urged to halt rollout

Earlier this month ministers approved a major extension of the programme to a further 45 job centres across the country, with another 50 to be added each month, despite concerns about its implementation and claims that it was causing real hardship for thousands of families.

Almost a quarter of all claimants have had to wait more than six weeks to receive their first payment in full because of errors and problems evidencing claims.

How does it work?

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Getty Images

The idea of universal credit is that no-one faces a situation where they would be better off claiming benefits than working.

There is no limit to the number of hours you can work per week if you get universal credit, but your payment reduces gradually as you earn more.

Under the old system many faced a “cliff edge”, where people on a low income would lose all their benefits at once as soon as they started working more than 16 hours. In the new system, benefit payments are reduced at a consistent rate as income and earnings increase.

A six-week wait is built into the system.

Because universal credit is based on how much money you have each month, it is paid in arrears – people claiming the benefit receive money for the last month worked, not for the month ahead.

That means everyone has to wait at least four weeks, and the rest of the time is because of the way the scheme is administered.

This has led to reports of growing numbers of people falling into rent arrears.

Last month it was reported that up to a dozen Conservative MPs wanted the rollout to be put on hold while, ahead of Wednesday’s debate, it is understood Prime Minister Theresa May met a group of MPs in Downing Street to discuss the way ahead.

Although the debate is largely symbolic – any vote that is held will not be binding on the government – it has been tabled by Labour to increase pressure on the government.

Prior to the debate, David Gauke, the Work and Pensions Secretary, will appear before a Commons committee which has accused his department of having “no idea” about how the system is operating.

The Department for Work and Pensions says its latest data, from last month, indicates 81% of new claimants were paid in full and on time at the end of their first assessment while 89% received some payment.

Verification process

Cases of non-payment, it said, were due to claimants either not signing paperwork, not passing identity checks or facing “verification issues” such as providing details of their earnings, housing costs and childcare costs.

But Mr Field, an ex-welfare minister who chairs the Work and Pensions Committee, said he was urging ministers not to proceed any further and warning them if they did it would “explode politically”.

Large numbers of people in his Birkenhead constituency, he told the BBC, would “not have any money over Christmas” due to the six-week time lag.

“The government cannot honestly stand up and say this is working,” he told the BBC.

“We know from our constituents the consequences of that – a huge amount of destitution, horror at people who are reduced below what we would regard in this country as a minimum.”

The Department of Work and Pensions said the system was working and the majority of recipients were telling them they were comfortable about managing their finances.

“No-one who needs support should have to wait five or six weeks for their first payment. That’s why we have updated our guidance to make sure anyone who needs an advance payment can get one within five working days, and on the same day if in urgent need.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41659504

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Hospital targets missed en masse as performance slumps

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 18, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site

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The performance of hospitals across the UK has slumped with targets for cancer, AE and planned operations now being missed en masse, BBC research shows.

Nationally England, Wales and Northern Ireland have not hit one of their three key targets for 18 months.

Only Scotland has had any success in the past 12 months – hitting its AE target three times.

Ministers accepted growing demand had left the NHS struggling to keep up as doctors warned patients were suffering.

The findings are being revealed as the BBC launches its online NHS Tracker project, which allows people to see how their local service is performing on three key waiting time targets:

  • Four-hour AE waits
  • 62-day cancer care
  • Planned operations and treatment

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If you can’t see the NHS Tracker, click or tap here.

The BBC has looked at performance nationally as well as locally across the 135 hospital trusts in England and 26 health boards in the rest of the UK.

Locally there is just one service in the whole of the UK – run by Luton and Dunstable NHS Trust – which has managed to hit all three targets each time over the past 12 months.

Hospital staff the BBC has talked to have described how shortages of doctors and nurses, a lack of money and inadequate room in AE departments in particular was making it difficult to see patients quickly enough.

While overall the vast majority of patients are still being seen in time, the BBC investigation shows how declining performance is affecting patients.

For example, the chances of not being seen in four hours in AE has actually more than doubled in the past four years, with one in nine patients now waiting longer than that.

The NHS on the slide

The BBC research has found:

  • Wales has consistently failed to hit its targets. In 2012-13 it did not hit any of its monthly key hospital targets and in 2016-17 it was the same. The last time a target was achieved nationally was 2010.
  • England has seen the biggest deterioration. In 2012-13 it hit its key hospital targets 86% of the time, but in the last year it has missed every monthly target.
  • Scotland is the only part of the UK to hit its targets during the last 12 months, but has only managed to hit do that three times over the summer in AE when pressures tend to be at their lowest.
  • Northern Ireland is failing to hit its targets despite making it easier to hit the goal for planned operations and care. Since March 2015 it has gradually reduced the target from 80% to 55% but has still not hit it.
  • The north-east is the top performing region in England. Services have hit their key hospital targets 71% of the time in the past year.
  • Twelve out of 135 English hospital trusts, four out of five Northern Irish health trusts and five out of seven Welsh trusts have failed to hit any target in the past 12 months.

‘We don’t have enough doctors’

Image caption

Cancer doctor Prof Madhusudan suggests there are not enough staff to see the patients quickly enough

Prof Srinivasan Madhusudan, head of cancer at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which has not hit the cancer target since April 2014, suggested there was simply not enough staff to cope.

“When I get to work I want to treat my patients as soon as I can. So do my colleagues.”

But he added there was a limit to what could be done, pointing out there are 5,000 new cases a year at his hospital trust.

“There are only so many patients that you can treat.

“We have a team of 22 fantastic oncologists who are working very hard to do the best they can under what is quite a stressful situation.”

Meanwhile, Ali Refson, an AE consultant at London’s Northwick Park hospital, said demand was “incredibly high” which meant it was sometimes impossible to hit the four-hour target.

“We sometimes feel we can’t give the best care. We are working the hardest we can, but we are only human.”

What does this mean for patients?

Image copyright
Getty Images

Ministers across the UK have been quick to point out that most people are still being seen in time.

But the numbers waiting longer for care have been rising.

In AE patients are now twice as likely to wait more than four hours than they were four years ago – 11% compared to 5%.

The proportion of people waiting over 62 days for cancer treatment has risen by a third in the past four years. Nearly one in five patients now wait longer.

The chances of delays before you have a planned operation or treatment, such as a hip replacement, has increased by nearly three-quarters in four years. Currently 12% of patients wait longer than they should.

It means there are now over 500,000 people on hospital waiting lists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that have waited too long. That compares to nearly 230,000 four years ago.

British Medical Association chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the situation highlighted by the BBC was “unacceptable”.

He said while for some patients the delays were simply an “inconvenience”, for many more they would have a “real impact on their treatment and outcome”.

Time for ‘honest debate’

Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said record levels of investment were being put into the health service in Scotland.

She said efforts were being made to “shift the balance of care away from hospitals” and into the community that should make it easier to hit the targets.

And she added a ministerial working group had been established to improve cancer care.

A spokesman for the Department of Health in England said more money was being spent on services, and said despite the longer waiting times the majority of hospitals were still providing good or outstanding care, according to inspectors.

And he pointed out that because of the ageing population “health systems worldwide face similar pressures”.

A Welsh government spokesman acknowledged some people were waiting “too long”, but pointed to the rising demand being faced.

The number of AE visits made each year across the UK has risen by a fifth in four years to top 30 million, while the number of cancer cases has risen by more than a quarter to top 170,000.

Nonetheless, Labour’s shadow health secretary in England, John Ashworth, called the decline in performance “staggering”.

Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, which represents hospital bosses, said it was time to consider whether these targets were still achievable unless more money was provided.

“It’s time for an honest debate about what we can realistically expect the health service to deliver in such difficult circumstances.”

The services where targets have been missed for whole year


  • Basildon and Thurrock NHS Trust
  • Colchester Hospital University NHS Trust
  • Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust
  • University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust
  • The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust
  • Hull East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Maidstone Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
  • Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust


  • Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
  • Hywel Dda University Health Board
  • Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board
  • Cwm Taf University Health Board
  • Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Northern Ireland:

  • Belfast Health Trust
  • South Eastern Health Trust
  • Southern Health Trust
  • Western Health Trust

Based on performance against the monthly or quarterly targets for AE, 62-day cancer care and planned operations for the most recent 12 months for which there is data. The way the targets work is different across the UK so the BBC has simply looked at whether the key targets are being me in each nation.

Research by the BBC’s data journalism unit

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41656667

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Councils buying homeless one-way train tickets

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 17, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Charity Homeless Link said using one-way train tickets could leave rough sleepers “more isolated”

A number of councils in England are regularly buying one-way train tickets for homeless people out of their area, the Victoria Derbyshire show has found.

Some spent more than £1,000 a year on fares and charity Homeless Link called the scale “worrying”.

The strategy can be used to reconnect rough sleepers with family, but one man said he was offered a ticket to a city he had never been to before.

The government has said it is investing £550 million to tackle homelessness.

‘Made me feel sick’

There were 4,134 people sleeping on the streets in 2016 – a 130% rise in six years, government figures suggest.

Twenty councils with the highest number of rough sleepers in England were asked – some by Freedom of Information request – how many homeless people had been offered the “reconnection” policy of a one-way train ticket between 2012 and 2017.

Of the 11 that responded, 10 said they had bought such tickets.

Manchester City Council – which had 78 rough sleepers in 2016 – said it had spent £9,928 on reconnecting homeless people in six years, but did not keep a record of how many people this involved.

Image caption

Gareth Glendall-Pickton said being offered a one-way train ticket was “soul-destroying”

In Bournemouth – which had 39 rough sleepers in 2016 – the council said it had arranged 144 reconnections in three-and-a-half years.

One rough sleeper, Gareth Glendall-Pickton – who grew up in the seaside town – claimed he was recently offered a ticket to Manchester, where he did not know anyone and had never been to previously.

“It made me feel sick,” he explained. “I’ve lived here all my life… it’s soul-destroying.

“I think what they want to do is to get the homeless people out of Bournemouth, because all the new people coming to the area are seeing all those homeless people sitting there.

“[The council] see it as making Bournemouth a bad place.”

Image caption

Soup kitchen owner Claire Matthews described the buying of one-way tickets as a form of “social cleansing”

Claire Matthews, who runs the local soup kitchen Hope for Food, described the practice as “social cleansing, and an abdication of any responsibility on [the council's] part”.

Bournemouth Borough Council said it only offered one-way tickets to homeless people who did not have a local connection to the area and “where it can be proven that the service user can be safely reconnected back to their area of locality”.

Elsewhere, Bristol City Council said it had offered 167 homeless people a one-way bus, train or plane ticket since 2014 – saying the option was only suggested if accommodation had been confirmed in the new area.

Exeter Borough Council spent £4,651 reconnecting 107 rough sleepers in two-and-a-half years.

It said: “As a minimum a housing options appointment is set up with the local authority in the area”.

‘Deteriorating health’

The charity Homeless Link described the Victoria Derbyshire programme’s findings as “worrying”.

Its chief executive Rick Henderson said that if “a person has a support network in a different area, then helping them reconnect can help to end their rough sleeping”.

But he added: “Simply displacing rough sleepers without offering support is not solving the issue, and at worst can exacerbate their situation, leaving them more isolated and at risk of deteriorating physical and mental health.”

Homeless Link argued that while tight resources may impact councils’ homeless services, vulnerable people should be able to seek support wherever they were and regardless of whether they had a local connection.

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “Even one person without a roof over their head is too many. That’s why this government is investing £550 million to 2020 to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, as well as implementing the Homelessness Reduction Act, which will require councils to provide early support to people at risk of becoming homeless.”

Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41501554

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US urges calm as Kirkuk crisis escalates

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 17, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site
Media captionIraqi federal police advance towards disputed city of Kirkuk

The US has called for “calm” after Iraqi government forces seized the northern city of Kirkuk and key installations from Kurdish control.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert urged all parties to “avoid further clashes”.

Iraqi soldiers moved into Kirkuk three weeks after the Kurdistan Region held a controversial independence referendum.

They are aiming to retake areas under Kurdish control since Islamic State militants swept through the region.

Residents of Kurdish-controlled areas, including Kirkuk, overwhelmingly backed secession from Iraq in a vote on 25 September.

While Kirkuk is outside Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurdish voters in the city were allowed to take part.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had denounced the vote as unconstitutional. But the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) insisted it was legitimate.

What’s the US stance in the developing crisis?

In a statement on Monday, Ms Nauert said Washington was “very concerned by reports of violence around Kirkuk”.

“We support the peaceful exercise of joint administration by the central and regional governments, consistent with the Iraqi constitution, in all disputed areas.”

Ms Nauert said the US was working with officials from all parties to “encourage dialogue”, warning that “there is still much work to be done to defeat Isis (Islamic State) in Iraq”.

Earlier, President Donald Trump said US officials were “not taking sides”.

“We don’t like the fact that they’re clashing,” he added.

Senator John McCain, who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned the Iraqi government of “severe consequences” if US-supplied weaponry was misused in operations against Kurdish forces.

“The United States provided equipment and training to the government of Iraq to fight (Islamic State) and secure itself from external threats – not to attack elements of one of its own regional governments.” he said.

Skip Twitter post by @RudawEnglish

End of Twitter post by @RudawEnglish

What about Baghdad and Kurdish officials?

Mr Abadi said in a statement on Monday that the operation in Kirkuk was necessary to “protect the unity of the country, which was in danger of partition” because of the referendum.

“We call upon all citizens to co-operate with our heroic armed forces, which are committed to our strict directives to protect civilians in the first place, and to impose security and order, and to protect state installations and institutions,” he added.

On Monday, the Iraqi military said its units had taken control of the K1 military base, the Baba Gurgur oil and gas field, and a state-owned oil company’s offices.

The government in Baghdad said Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers had withdrawn “without fighting”. However, clashes were reported to the south, and the sound of gunfire was caught by a BBC cameraman as a team filmed near a checkpoint.

By the afternoon, as thousands of people fled the city fearing impending clashes between the two sides, Iraqi military vehicles were rolling into the heart of Kirkuk. A picture shared on social media appeared to show Iraqi forces sitting in the governor’s office.

Forces pulled down the Kurdish flag which had been flying alongside the Iraqi national flag, according to Reuters.

Mr Abadi had ordered the flag to fly over all disputed territories.

The speed with which Iraqi forces reached the centre of the city has led the two main armed Kurdish parties to accuse each other of “betrayal”.

Media captionShooting breaks out at a checkpoint in Kirkuk

The Peshmerga General Command, which is led by President Massoud Barzani of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), accused officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of aiding “the plot against the people of Kurdistan”.

The PUK denied being part of ordering any withdrawal, saying dozens of their fighters had been killed and hurt, but noted “not even one KDP Peshmerga has been martyred as of yet in the fighting in Kirkuk”.

Meanwhile Turkey, which fears Kurdish independence in Iraq could lead to similar calls from its own Kurdish minority, praised Baghdad, saying it was “ready for any form of co-operation with the Iraqi government in order to end the PKK presence in Iraqi territory”.

The PKK – or Kurdistan Workers’ Party – is a Turkish-Kurdish rebel group which has been fighting for autonomy since the 1980s. It is considered a terrorist group by Turkey as well as by the EU and US.

Why is Kirkuk at the heart of this crisis?

Kirkuk is an oil-rich province claimed by both the Kurds and the central government. It is thought to have a Kurdish majority, but its provincial capital has large Arab and Turkmen populations.

Image copyright

Image caption

The Iraqi military said it had taken control of oil facilities after Peshmerga withdrew

Kurdish Peshmerga forces took control of much of the province in 2014, when Islamic State (IS) militants swept across northern Iraq and the Iraq army collapsed.

The Iraqi parliament asked Mr Abadi to deploy troops to Kirkuk and other disputed areas after the referendum result was announced, but he said last week that he would accept them being governed by a “joint administration” and that he did not want an armed confrontation.

On Sunday, his cabinet accused the KRG of deploying non-Peshmerga fighters in Kirkuk, including members of the PKK, which it said was tantamount to a “declaration of war”. But KRG officials denied this.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-41646806

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Brexit negotiations should accelerate, say May and Juncker

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 17, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site

Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

Image caption

Mrs May and Mr Juncker embraced after their working dinner in Brussels

Brexit negotiations should “accelerate over the months to come,” says a joint statement from the UK prime minister and the president of the EU Commission.

Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker met in Brussels earlier for a dinner they called “constructive and friendly”.

The meeting comes after the latest round of negotiations, where the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the two sides had reached “deadlock”.

Downing Street sources said the dinner had “been in the diary for weeks”.

Mrs May and Mr Juncker said they had had a “broad, constructive exchange on current European and global challenges”, including preserving the Iran nuclear deal and strengthening security in Europe to battle terrorism.

The pair – who were joined by Mr Barnier and Brexit Secretary David Davis – then spoke about Article 50 negotiations.

“The prime minister and the president of the European Commission reviewed the progress made in the Article 50 negotiations so far and agreed that these efforts should accelerate over the months to come,” the statement read.

“The working dinner took place in a constructive and friendly atmosphere.”

‘Accelerate’ – the word the Tories need

By Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

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Image caption

Theresa May made the visit to Brussels for a 90 minute working dinner

Accelerate, accelerate, accelerate, accelerate.

OK, in theory, if I am driving a car at four miles per hour and I speed up to eight miles per hour, technically I am accelerating.

I may still be basically crawling along. I still may be late – very, very late – for my eventual destination. But, by the very action of pressing the pedal and going faster, I am actually speeding up.

If anyone accuses me of going nowhere, or slowing down – well, look at my speedometer. I am going faster and I have evidence that you are wrong!

That is why, in the next few days, don’t be surprised if every Tory politician you see, hear, or read about is using that word (at least those loyal to the government) to claim that there is progress in the Brexit talks, just days after the chief negotiator on the EU side declared a deadlock.

Read more of Laura Kuenssberg’s blog here.

BBC Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly says the joint statement released after the dinner was “a masterpiece of uncommunicative communication”.

He said: “It recorded formally that Brexit negotiations are taking place between the EU 27 and the UK – a statement of the obvious that may hint at Brussels’ displeasure with British attempts to talk directly to individual member states as well.”

He added: “The gnomic communique was perhaps an attempt to avoid a repeat of the fallout from the last bilateral dinner in Downing Street in April after which the EU side was reported to have described the British as ‘delusional’ and even disparaged the food.”

The three initial topics for negotiation – the amount the UK owes the EU when it leaves, the future rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU, and what happens on the Northern Ireland border – were expected to dominate the conversation ahead of an EU summit later this week, attended by the leaders of the 27 EU countries.

Mrs May hopes that the leaders will give Mr Barnier a mandate to start talks on future trade.

But the EU has said that until “sufficient progress” is made on the three topics they will not begin discussing the UK’s post-Brexit relations.

Mr Barnier has also said there is still no agreement on how much the UK should pay the EU when it leaves.

Last week an internal draft document suggested the EU was going to begin preparing for the possibility of trade talks beginning in December – provided the UK does more to bridge the gap on the key negotiating points.

The PM discussed Brexit ahead of the dinner in phone calls with French President Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

No deal ‘would hike up prices’

Meanwhile, a new report suggests that leaving the EU without a trade deal would lead to a significant rise in living costs for millions of people.

Research by the Resolution Foundation and trade experts at Sussex University calculates that the average household would pay an extra £260 a year for imported goods.

For three million households – those who consume the most imported goods – that figure would nearly double to £500 a year.

The report says that without a Brexit deal, European goods would incur the same tariffs as those imposed on other World Trade Organisation countries, increasing levies on dairy products by 45% and meat products by 37%.

But a government spokesperson said ministers were optimistic about achieving an agreement with the EU that would allow for frictionless trade in goods and services.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41642051

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Theresa May to dine with EU chiefs amid Brexit ‘deadlock’

Posted by Warren Fyfe on October 16, 2017 in Warren Fyfe Site

Image copyright

Image caption

The PM will meet with Jean-Claude Juncker, pictured, as well as Michel Barnier

Theresa May is to travel to Brussels later for a dinner with EU leaders in a bid to end a stalemate over Brexit.

The meeting, with chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, comes days after the pair said talks were in “deadlock”.

Brexit Secretary David Davis will join Mrs May for the meeting, ahead of this week’s summit of EU leaders.

On Sunday, the PM phoned German chancellor Angela Merkel in a further attempt to break the impasse.

Downing Street said Mrs May and Mrs Merkel agreed on the “importance of continued constructive progress” in the UK’s exit negotiations in the early morning phone call.

Although Mrs May’s trip was not made public during last week’s negotiations, Downing Street sources insisted it had “been in the diary for weeks”.


Over dinner, the PM hopes to end a stalemate over the settlement that is stopping the post-Brexit trading relationship being discussed.

She hopes when EU leaders meet on Thursday and Friday, they will give Mr Barnier a mandate to start trade talks.

But Mr Barnier said he would not recommend that talks move on to the next stage when he attends the European Council on Thursday.

Media captionMichel Barnier: ‘We’ve reached a state of deadlock which is very disturbing’

Speaking after the fifth round of trade talks in Brussels, he said there was no agreement on how much the UK should pay the EU when it leaves.

He said: “On this question we have reached a state of deadlock which is very disturbing for thousands of project promoters in Europe and it’s disturbing also for taxpayers.”

Mr Juncker added that the Brexit process would take “longer than we initially thought”, blaming delays on the UK’s failure to settle its financial obligations.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41631711

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