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Union leaders could coordinate industrial action across the NHS this winter to cause “maximum impact”, the head of the GMB has suggested.

Andy Prendergast, the GMB national secretary, said health workers have had enough of “public school boys who run the government and simply don’t care” about their pay demands.

More than 10,000 ambulance workers from the GMB voted to strike yesterday, following in the footsteps of nurses in opting to walk out.

Union rejects claim granting pay rises will lead to spiralling inflation – politics live

Asked if there will be a “coordinated strike” in the health service, Mr Prendergast told Sky News: “We will be talking to the other unions.

“We know that the nurses have got their first ballot in over 100 years. We know that our colleagues in Unite, in Unison are currently delivering ballots.

“So we’ll be looking to make sure this has the maximum impact.”

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It was put to Mr Prendergast that the safety of patients could not be guaranteed if there is coordinated strike action between unions and the NHS.

He argued their safety is not being guaranteed now due to the staffing crisis, with poor pay driving many out of the profession.

“One third of our members in the ambulance service believe that they have been involved in a delay that has led to a patient dying, so this isn’t a situation where this is a service that runs perfectly well,” he said.

NHS ‘dying on its feet’

“This is a service that’s dying on its feet and our members are actually standing up and the public of Britain should support them. This is a matter of a life or death situation.”

Mr Prendergast said NHS workers “work extremely hard, often for wages that a lot of people wouldn’t get out of bed for”.

He added: “Ultimately they are saying enough is enough. It’s time for them to take action. This is the one thing that they can do to try and improve patient safety, to try and improve the terms conditions, to try and deal with 135,000 vacancies that we have among a service that we rely on.”

Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff are set to walk out in nine trusts:

  • South West Ambulance Service
  • South East Coast Ambulance Service
  • North West Ambulance Service
  • South Central Ambulance Service
  • North East Ambulance Service
  • East Midlands Ambulance Service
  • West Midlands Ambulance Service
  • Welsh Ambulance Service
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service

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‘Inflation-busting pay rises are unaffordable’

The industrial action is due to take place before Christmas, with the union planning to meet reps in the coming days to discuss dates.

Thousands of ambulance workers in Unison, the UK’s biggest trade union, also intend to take industrial action before Christmas.

Up to 100,000 nurses from the Royal College of Nursing are also set to stage a mass walkout in December, one of the busiest months for the NHS.

The army has been placed on stand by in case it is needed to fill roles of NHS workers on strike days.

Coordinated strike ‘can speed up negotiations’

Dr Emma Runswick of the British Medical Association told Sky News that coordination between unions will help protect patients as they can discuss between themselves how to cover urgent and emergency care.

She added that an effective coordinated strike “will help to speed up negotiations”.

“We want there to be an impact on the employers and on the government to bring them to the table to negotiate with us. And if we coordinate and if we’re effective, the government and employers will negotiate faster. And that’s better for us and better for patients in the long term.”

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Dr Emma Runswick of the British Medical Association says an effective coordinated strike will help to speed up negotiations.

The UK is facing a wave of strikes this winter as workers from different industries are set to walk out over pay and conditions

Rail workers, civil servants, firefighters and teachers are among the tens of thousands expected to take industrial action as a recession grips the UK and the cost of living rises.

Read More:
Which industries are striking this winter and why?
Eurostar security staff to strike in December, RMT union announces

Wage price spiral ‘nonsense’

Ministers have been criticised for refusing to negotiate with unions, with Business Secretary Grant Shapps saying meeting their pay demands would lead to a wage inflation “spiral”.

Eddie Dempsey, assistant general secretary of the RMT, which covers the transport sector, rubbished that argument.

“This idea that there’s going to be a wage spiral is nonsense because wages have been falling as a share of wealth in this country – what goes to wages and what goes to profits,” he said.

Mr Dempsey said that now, wages only account for around 8% to 12% of unit costs.

He pointed to a study from the Bank of England which found there was no risk of wage-induced inflation across Western economies because people have got less money.

He claimed what the government is actually worried about “is a shift in class power”.

“They’re worried about trade unions and ordinary working people having the ability to bargain for better wages. That’s what they’re worried about.”

Rail union ‘hopeful’ of deal to end strikes

Mr Dempsey said his union has been in negotiations for longer than six months and “every time we feel like we are making headway it has felt like the rug has been pulled out from under our feet”.

However he said there is “definitely a change of tone” with the new Transport Secretary Mark Harper and the RMT is “hopeful” a deal can be reached.

Royal Mail workers are also locked in a bitter dispute over pay and conditions, with the CEO Simon Thompson accusing union leaders of “trying to destroy Christmas” by walking out.

He claimed striking workers had demonstrated “extraordinary behaviours” and that he has heard allegations of racism, sexism and violence.

Royal Mail CEO accused of ‘lying’

Speaking during Sky’s Q&A with union leaders, Dave Ward of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) accused Mr Thompson of “lying”.

He said the union “welcomes an independent look at behaviours” of his members but the CEO’s behaviour should also be investigated.

“He goes on (social media) every single day, including weekends. and he goads our members,” Mr Ward said.

“He’s brought in a team of union and worker busters and they’re deliberately creating a psychological attack on every single worker.

“Go out and ask postal workers how they feel about this particular CEO.”

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Man dies after being crushed by pop-up telescopic urinal in London’s West End

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Man dies after being crushed by pop-up telescopic urinal in London's West End

A maintenance worker in central London has died after being crushed by a hydraulic telescopic urinal – one that’s kept underground during the day and kept out overnight.

Emergency services were called to Cambridge Circus in the West End just after 1pm on Friday to reports of a “seriously injured” man.

The incident took place outside the Palace Theatre, home to Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

Firefighters, ambulance crews and an air ambulance were deployed at 1.05pm and police were called five minutes later.

Emergency services tried to save the man, who has not been named, but he died at the scene.

Emergency services work to free the man. Pic: KetoCancerQueen
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Emergency services worked to free the man. Pic: KetoCancerQueen

In a statement on Twitter, Metropolitan Police said: “We’re sorry to have to update that, despite the efforts of emergency services, the man who was critically injured in Cambridge Circus was pronounced dead at the scene.

“His next of kin have been informed. Cordons remain in place at the location.

“Police were called at around 1.10pm on Friday January 27, to a seriously injured man at Cambridge Circus, W1.

“The man is thought to have sustained crush injuries while working on a telescopic urinal at the location.”

A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called today at 1.05pm to reports of an incident on Shaftesbury Avenue, Charing Cross.

“We sent a number of resources to the scene, including an ambulance crew, members of our hazardous area response team, members of our tactical response unit and a medic in a fast response car.

“We also dispatched London’s Air Ambulance.”

Roads in the area have been closed.

The telescopic or hydraulic urinal is a pop-up urinal that comes out of the ground at night and is stored underground during the day.

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Wynter Andrews: Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust fined £800,000 over baby’s death 23 minutes after birth

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Wynter Andrews: Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust fined £800,000 over baby's death 23 minutes after birth

An NHS trust has been fined £800,000 for a “catalogue of failings and errors” that led to the death of a baby 23 minutes after she was born.

Wynter Andrews died in the arms of her parents, Sarah and Gary Andrews, on 15 September 2019 due to a lack of oxygen to the brain, shortly after an emergency Caesarean section at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

Sarah and Gary Andrews arrive at Nottingham Magistrates' Court
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Sarah and Gary Andrews arrive at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust had admitted two counts of failing to provide safe care and treatment resulting in harm and loss at a court hearing on Wednesday.

Sentencing at the city’s magistrates’ court on Friday, district judge Grace Leong said: “The catalogue of failings and errors exposed Mrs Andrews and her baby to a significant risk of harm which was avoidable, and such errors ultimately resulted in the death of Wynter and post-traumatic stress for Mrs Andrews and Mr Andrews.

“My assessment is that the level of culpability is high, where offences on Wynter and Mrs Andrews are concerned.

“There were systems in place, but there were so many procedures and practices where guidance was not followed or adhered to or implemented.”

District judge Leong added the “systematic failures” were “more than sufficient” to cause harm to Wynter and her mother.

She said the total fine, combining the sums for offences against both Wynter and Mrs Andrews, would have been £1.2m, but this was reduced to £800,000 due to the trust’s early guilty pleas.

The judge also said she was “acutely aware” any fine would have to be paid out of public funds which would otherwise be spent on patient care.

The trust, which will pay prosecution costs of £13,668.65 and a victim surcharge of £181, has asked for two years to pay the fine.

Read more:
Why maternity scandals keep happening
Baby deaths mystery from 1930s solved

Speaking outside the court, Mrs Andrews said she hoped the significant fine “sends a clear message to trust managers that they must hold patient safety in the highest regard”.

She added: “Sadly, we are not the only family harmed the trust’s failings.

“We feel that this sentence isn’t just for Wynter, but it’s for all the other babies that have gone before and after her.”

Mrs Andrews has previously said she was “failed in the most cruel way” by the trust and its management had been “repeatedly warned by staff about safety at the unit” but “failed to act”.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which inspects health services in England, said last July that it would prosecute the trust.

The maternity unit at the QMC was rated as inadequate by the CQC, with the hospital overall rated as requiring improvement, when it was inspected last March.

Mrs Andrews was admitted to hospital on 14 September 2019, her planned due date, after an “uncomplicated” pregnancy.

An induced labour planned for 7 September was cancelled on her request, but an investigation later found this was signed off by a midwife without consulting an obstetrician, and limited reasoning was given for the decision in medical notes.

Once Mrs Andrews was in labour, Wynter’s heartbeat was described as “suspicious” by doctors, who decided to deliver her via caesarean section.

After complications during the surgery, she was delivered in a “poor” condition and died 23 minutes and 30 seconds later despite “extensive efforts” to resuscitate her.

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Jeremy Hunt confirms HS2 will reach central London after reports it might stop in suburbs

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Jeremy Hunt confirms HS2 will reach central London after reports it might stop in suburbs

HS2 will end at Euston after reports the high speed line could stop before reaching central London, the chancellor has confirmed.

Jeremy Hunt said he did not see “any conceivable circumstance” the original plan would not be followed and that he was “incredibly proud” of the work going ahead.

The end-point of the line came into question after a report in the Sun, claiming the last leg of HS2 could be scrapped and replaced with a new hub at Old Oak Common in the suburbs of west London.

Politics live: ‘Best tax cut right now is cut to inflation,’ says Hunt

This would leave passengers having to finish their journey into the centre of the capital on the new Elizabeth underground line.

The government did not deny the reports or that a two to five-year delay to the entire project – currently due to be completed between 2029 and 2033 – was being considered due to record high inflation impacting costs.

However, when asked if he and the government were committed to the line ending in Euston as planned, Mr Hunt said: “Yes we are.”

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Jeremy Hunt dismissed reports the Euston hub would be scrapped.

The chancellor added: “I don’t see any conceivable circumstance in which that would not end up at Euston and indeed I prioritised HS2 in the autumn statement.

“We have not got a good record in this country of delivering complex, expensive infrastructure quickly but I’m incredibly proud that for the first time in this last decade under a Conservative government we have shovels in the ground, we are building HS2 and we are going to make it happen.”

Planning your route into London

Making the the final southern destination for HS2 a station at Old Oak Common – which is yet to be built – could well have saved the government billions.

But what would the impact have been on passengers?

Let’s say Euston is your final destination.

You would get off at the new station, which will be fairly close to Hammersmith in west London, and take the Elizabeth Line to Tottenham Court Road – a journey of around 15 minutes.

From there, you could take the Northern Line two stops to Euston.

Or, if you’re feeling energetic, it would be a 20-minute walk.

Map shows journey from Old Oak Common to central London
Image:
Map shows journey from Old Oak Common to central London

The HS2 project has been dogged by criticism over its financial and environmental impact.

In October 2021, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove suggested capital investment for the line would be reviewed.

But after being installed at Number 11, Mr Hunt subsequently backed the project.

The target cost of Phase 1 between London and Birmingham was £40.3bn at 2019 prices, despite an overall budget of £55.7bn being set just four years earlier.

Penny Gaines from campaign group Stop HS2 said it is “not at all surprising” that costs were spiralling out of control.

“These reports just show that there are so many problems with HS2,” she added. “It’s being delayed further and further so the cost is going up, it should be cancelled in its entirety as soon as possible.”

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