Record NHS Hospital Waiting Times, Tory And Labour MPs Suspended, Strikes Disrupt Flights
The government and NHS England are aiming to eliminate all waits of more than a year by March 2025 (Alamy)
People waiting for treatment in NHS hospitals in England has reached a record of 7.2m, according to new data released by NHS England, as a winter of strikes is set to disrupt services further.
An estimated 7.2 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of October, up from 7.1 million in September.
This is the highest number since records began in August 2007, and 410,983 people in England had been waiting more than 52 weeks to start hospital treatment at the end of October – around one in 18 of those on the entire waiting list.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan confirmed that health staff could have their right to strike restricted under plans being considered by the government. There is some doubt within the Conservative party however that such laws could come into effect before the next election.
She told Sky News: “We do have some areas where strikes are not allowed as part of the contract, for example, the military and the police.
“And what we’re looking at is, are there other areas that we should include in that? Health would be one to look at and other areas of critical infrastructure.”
The government and NHS England are aiming to eliminate all waits of more than a year by March 2025.
Wes Streeting MP, Labour's Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, responded to the new record figures by suggesting the Conservative government is to blame.
"Behind the statistics are people suffering, sometimes for months or even years, putting their lives on hold because of their pain and discomfort,” he said.
"The Government should be doing everything it can to bring down waiting lists, including using spare capacity in the private sector.
“No one should be waiting in pain while hospital beds that could be used lie empty.”
He said Labour would train 7,500 more doctors and 10,000 more nurses each year to increase capacity in the NHS and reduce waiting times, adding that this would be paid for by abolishing the non-dom tax status.
Tory MP Julian Knight suspended by the party after police complaint
The MP Julian Knight has had the Conservative Party whip removed after a complaint was made to the police.
Knight is the chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and has represented Solihull in the West Midlands since 2015.
A spokesperson for Chief Whip Simon Hart said late last night: "Following a complaint made to the Metropolitan Police this evening, we have removed the whip from Julian Knight MP with immediate effect.”
Knight said he believed the removal of the whip was "wrong and unjustified".
"I have heard nothing from the police, the Whips Office or Parliament's Internal Grievance Service, or been the subject of any investigation by the latter. Nor have I ever been warned or spoken to by the Whips office about any allegations of misconduct," he wrote in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday.
No details of the complaint or what it relates to have been disclosed.
Labour suspends MP Conor McGinn pending an investigation
Labour MP Conor McGinn has been suspended by his party after a complaint was lodged against him under their independent complaints process.
McGinn, who has represented the St Helens North constituency since 2015, will now sit as an independent MP.
Details of the nature of the inquiry have not yet been confirmed.
In a statement given to The Guardian, McGinn said "I strongly reject any suggestion of wrongdoing and I look forward to the matter being resolved quickly."
"I have not been told the details of the complaint but I am confident that it is entirely unfounded."
"The Labour party has informed me that it is automatically required to apply a temporary procedural suspension while a complaint is investigated.”
The 38-year-old, who is seen as a strong ally of the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, recently returned to work at Westminster after time off dealing with a genetic heart condition, and is the fifth Labour MP to face investigation under the party’s new complaints process, which was brought in earlier this year.
Airlines urged to cancel flights over Christmas after strikes announced
Airlines have been urged to cancel 30 per cent of flights following the decision by PCS union members in the Border Force to strike over Christmas and New Year, according to The Times.
With passport control staff walking out at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow airports and the port of Newhaven, for eight days, a reduction in passengers is being suggested to cope with staff shortages and to avoid overcrowding in arrival halls.
In a letter to airlines from Phil Douglas, director-general of the Border Force, seen by The Times, Douglas wrote: “Our contingency workforce will not be able to operate with the same efficiency as our permanent workforce.
“As is the case with any industrial action, we simply will not know levels of permanent Border Force officers who will report for duty until the day and what the operational impacts might be.”
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “The government can stop these strikes tomorrow if it puts money on the table.”
He said ministers were refusing to increase a 2 per cent pay rise offer, and warned the union would step up its action in the New Year unless the deadlock was broken.
This morning Education Secretary Gillian Keegan declined to say what role the Government has in disrupted Christmas plans by failing to resolve widespread industrial action.
She told Sky News: “this is between the unions and the paymasters”, and said ministers are approaching pay demands in a "fair and balanced way".
Michael Gove stokes anger over new Cumbrian coal mine
Environmental campaigners have reacted angrily to Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove's decision to approve a controversial new coal mine in Cumbria.
Gove granted planning permission for what will be the first new site in the UK in 30 years, saying the coal will be used for the production of steel, and not for power generation.
Supporters of the long-discussed mine say it will create around 500 jobs, but Friends of the Earth have argued that the "appalling decision" will not replace Russian coal, and will be detrimental to the overall fight against the climate crisis.
The Conservative peer Lord Deben, chairman of the Climate Change Committee which advises the Government, said it undermines UK efforts to reach net zero, and "sends entirely the wrong signal to other countries about the UK's climate priorities”.
Labour shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband said it is "no solution to the energy crisis, it does not offer secure, long-term jobs, and it marks this government giving up on all pretence of climate leadership”.
Dominic Raab denies throwing tomatoes in bullying row
Dominic Raab has denied claims he threw tomatoes across a room as he awaits the outcome of an independent investigation into claims he bullied staff.
The Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister told The Sun he had acted "professionally at all times".
"I have never thrown anything in anger at anyone, whether it's a tomato or anything else, and it's just simply not true," he said.
"Rather than deal with anonymous allegations made to newspapers, I think the right thing to do is transparently address the claims to an independent investigator.”
Meanwhile, his flagship plan to create a new Bill of Rights could be at risk as Sunak prioritises legislation to tackle small boats, according to The Times.
Sunak is reported to have told his deputy he has “deprioritised” the long-awaited overhaul of the Human Rights Act, and concluded the government did not have enough time or “political capital” to pass the Bill of Rights at the same time as furthering separate legislation to combat the Channel migrant crisis and overhaul the asylum system which has been described as “broken”.
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