The New £10 Note

Yesterday, Tuesday 18th July 2017, saw the unveiling of the new £10 note.

The note, next in the series from the polymer £5 note, features a portrait of Jane Austen and is due to enter circulation on Thursday 14th September 2017.

Along with the note, a limited number of the new £2 coin, also featuring Jane Austen, are also being circulated.

Despite a petition, with over 100,000 signatures, the new polymer note will be made from the same material as the £5 note (containing animal fats), sparking fury amongst vegan and religious groups.

The smaller note, commemorating 200 years since the death of Jane Austen, features the quote “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor explains the choice: “It captures much of Jane Austen’s spirit, at least in my mind. It draws out some of the essence of some of her social satire and her insight into people’s character. So it works on multiple levels.”

The new polymer £20 note is set to be issued by 2020.

Security features:

– A transparent window featuring the Queen’s portrait.
– On the front of the note, Winchester Cathedral is in gold foil, and silver foil on the back.
– A quill that changes from purple to orange.
– A hologram that when tilted, changes from “Ten” to “Pounds”.
– A 3D hologram of the coronation crown that changes to multicoloured when tilted.
– A copper foil book that has the letters JA.
– Micro letters beneath the Queen’s portrait.
– “Bank of England” printed in raised ink along the top of the note.

There is also a feature that will aid visually impaired people; Raised dots in the top left hand corner of the note, that were developed with the help of the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

In May, the Bank of Scotland unveiled their new £10 note design featuring Sir Walter Scott alongside the Mound in Edinburgh on the front, and on the back the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It also features a steam locomotive and is due to be circulated in the autumn.

The new £10 notes are expected to last five years, double the current life expectancy of two and a half years.

Are Care Homes Getting It Right?

In a world where the elderly are living longer, are their basic needs really covered when it comes to their care?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) are the main regulators when it comes to social care. They examine care homes, giving vital feedback to help those under par, improve their services.

Last week, it was revealed in the Guardian that one in three care homes has failed CQC inspections; not something you want to read if your loved ones are in care.

Overall, the CQC report highlights how fragile our care services are. Promisingly, the message was that the majority of care was good, but understandably, this seems to have been lost amongst the worrying statistics.

Some are improving. Some aren’t. And some are going backwards.

Although these examinations are of great importance, does anyone ask those receiving the care what they think? What the CQC measures, may not be important to those in the system.

Over the past year, Healthwatch have visited over 200 care homes, asking for relatives, residents and staff to share their opinions and aid the debate.

Looking at the initial results, they reported there are no huge scandals. The majority of people are happy with the care they receive, but staff are feeling the pressure.

But looking further, it’s the basics that care homes are failing on.

Residents want clean spaces, and to be made to feel at home. They want to choose what to wear in the morning, and eat at a “normal” regular time.

Although the CQC don’t examine these basics, these simple gripes are clues to the wider picture. They suggest that if care homes, even the best, asked their residents what they want, they could improve their services dramatically.

Despite this, social care providers are still reluctant to take such feedback on board.

In a recent poll of the 152 local Healthwatches in England, two thirds have reported that health providers are seeking feedback from them. Compare this to the one third of social care providers, and the 25% of providers that do not even respond, and we begin to see an opportunity being missed (The Guardian).

Listening to feedback, and using it to make changes, will help make people feel more valued, and help care homes become just that; homes.


Doctors Beg For NHS Treatments

Rationing of services is leading Doctors to beg the NHS for vital treatments.

As reported by the Guardian today, in 2016-17, the British Medical Journal found that 73,927 requests were made by GPs on behalf of patients that had initially been denied treatment, 50% more than in 2013-14.

The results have sparked worry amongst healthcare professionals that the cutbacks are now stretching into patient care.

Amongst the requests submitted, mental health conditions were the sixth commonest. Although the NHS vowed to improve access to care, 1150 requests from health professionals still had to be submitted to get patients the care they needed.

Similarly, the number of Individual Funding Requests (IFRs) for hip and knee replacements across England rose from 49 to 899 last year:

“Hip and knee replacements are some of the most clinically effective and economical treatments available on the NHS. Unfortunately, patients needing hip and knee surgery have misguidedly become soft targets for NHS savings”, Stephen Cannon, Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).

Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee has said that “an open and honest” conversation is needed as different Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have different rules on treatments for patients:

“It’s clearly unfair for patients to be subjected to this postcode rationing, and it also adds further to GPs’ workloads as they are called on to provide more and more evidence to support each application.”

Some CCGs such as Stafford and Surrounds, receiving 2123, accept all requests, whereas some such as South Derbyshire, who received 14, accept none.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour Shadow Health Secretary has said, “Underfunding and neglect of the health service is causing misery for patients and making it harder to access routine treatments on the NHS. Behind every one of these statistics is a patient and their family waiting longer in pain and suffering”.

Ruth Robertson from the Kings Fund states, “With financial pressures growing, we can only expect to see more of this. It is unrealistic to expect the NHS to maintain the current level of service, with the current budget, and so the government needs to either find more money for the NHS, or be honest with the public about what sort of healthcare is can expect in the future.”

So The Deal Is Done

As reported in the Guardian, this week finally saw a coalition deal drawn between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and The Conservative Party. Unfortunately this deal came at a cost.

The DUP, well known for their controversial views surrounding abortion, have secured £1 billion for Northern Ireland’s economy in return for their support on the Conservative’s Queen’s Speech.

This allocation of funds begs the question why we are selling off and privatising huge NHS organisations, when we clearly have the money available to help fix some of the problem.

Theresa May’s strong and stable leadership is now a thing of the past as she removes much needed funds from our budget, and trades them for a majority vote.

Understandably, this has caused uproar with not only England itself, but Scotland and Wales too.

The deal, just three pages long, confirms the Conservative agreement to meet NATO and spend 2% of GDP on the armed forces, and both parties must adhere to the Armed Forces Covenant. This promises priority care for children of current and ex members of the Armed Forces.

According to the Guardian, Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, named the agreement outrageous, stating it was “a straight bung to keep a weak Prime Minister and faltering government in office”.

Similarly, Nicola Sturgeon professed:

“In concluding this grubby, shameless deal, The Tories have shown that they will stop at nothing to hold on to power – even sacrificing the very basic principles of devolution”.

Earlier last week, Jeremy Hunt proclaimed he would consider reviewing the pay cap for healthcare staff, only for it to be forgotten in the Queen’s Speech.

Today, Tuesday 27th June, this was met with the start of the Nurse’s “Summer of Protest” that the Royal College of Nursing declared just last month.

On Thursday, Theresa May will be presenting her Queen’s Speech for vote in Parliament. She will require the alliance of all ten DUP MPs to even stand a chance of having it passed, and enabling her party to govern without majority.

Ironically, although ideal for the Conservatives short term, long term the deal may not be sufficient. It has been suggested that in just two years, the DUP will ask for further concessions from the Tories.

Instead of rejoicing for a secured government, many of us are mourning the loss of a nation that once was.

Leaked Document Suggests Havoc To London Healthcare

A 31 page internal NHS document has highlighted a cost saving exercise to help bridge the £183 million funding gap for a number of hospitals in north-central London.

As reported by the Guardian, this document suggests Doctors affected will have less money to spend on medicine, refer less patients to hospital, and slash the support offered to those with severe needs. They are also looking to close some A&E and maternity units.

Ultimately, this will increase time for treatments and operations as the strain will be added elsewhere to already struggling associations, resulting in poor care:

“We recognise that these choices may be difficult for a number of reasons .. Options that impact on quality of care and options that would be difficult to implement.” (The Guardian)

The affected boroughs are reported to be Camden, Islington, Haringey, Barnet, and Enfield, with University College London and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital amongst the hospitals affected.

The leaked document has sparked outrage amongst NHS providers, with Saffron Cordery, Director of policy and strategy emphasising, “Some of the proposals could challenge fundamental expectations shared by NHS staff and the public about what the health service is there to provide. We cannot do that without a full and proper debate.”

Following on from the General Election, Labour are now stating that the cuts are due to the government not allocating the funds needed to do the job effectively.

Although there has been no final decision, the discussions may result in:

Patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for planned operations.
Higher care rationing.
Hospital units being restricted, or shut altogether.
Cuts to financial support currently given to those with long term health problems.
Limitations to treatment for those with musculoskeletal conditions.
Less money being fed into the Better Care Fund (a scheme designed to reduce pressure on hospitals).
Job losses.

Is this really the end of the NHS as we know it?




Hung Parliament: So Where Do We Go From Here?

So, the country spoke. The 2017 General Election resulted in a hung Parliament. No majority vote.

With everyone on tenterhooks as the results rolled in, you couldn’t help but wonder why exactly the nation was going through this again.

Theresa May was secure. She had a majority. The Conservative Party were in power.

Now, Theresa May is in talks with Arlene Foster, leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to form what is being dubbed by many as the ‘coalition of chaos’.

This coalition means Theresa May remains in power, but must have the backing of the DUP party in order to push through laws and bills.

Although nothing is certain, Arlene Foster was reported in the Guardian as saying “talks are positive”. So a Conservative-DUP merge is looking likely.

And then there is Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn was hot on the heels of Theresa May, and although he didn’t secure a majority either, he pulled Labour into a position where they now sit only 56 seats behind the Conservatives.

Following his re-election as MP for Islington North, Mr Corbyn was quoted in the BBC News:

“The Prime Minister called this election because she wanted a mandate. Well the mandate she’s got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence. I would have thought that’s enough to go actually, and make way for a government that will be truly representative of all of the people of this country.”

Although Labour have been “preparing for government” (BBC News), with shadow chancellor John McDonnell telling BBC News they’ve “laid the foundations for a minority government, and then eventually a majority government”, Theresa May refused to succumb to Jeremy Corbyn’s calls for her to retire.

So what does she do now?

With Brexit negotiations looming, Mrs May has been keen to reinforce her determination to succeed and maintain “a deep and special partnership” with the EU.

Meeting on Tuesday with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, he was reported in the Guardian as saying that although he respected the decision of British people, “until negotiations come to an end, there is always a chance to reopen the door.”

Will the uncertainty of Britain, and effectively a Britain with no government bring a softer Brexit deal; one The Prime Minister may well welcome? Or is Mr Macron sending her a warning to retreat?

Although we cannot second guess what next weeks negotiations will begin to indicate, it’s imperative Theresa May organises a successful coalition, secures our government, and regains confidence, not only for Brexit, but for the people of the British Isles.

General Election 2017

49 days ago the Prime Minister, Theresa May, called a snap General Election she’d always insisted she would never call.

Tomorrow, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, goes head to head with Jeremy Corbyn (Labour), Tim Farron (Liberal Democrats), Paul Nuttall (UKIP), Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley (Green Party) and Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), whilst the UK votes for what could be the end of Britain as we know it.

Although originally calling the General Election to allow Britain the chance to choose who takes us through Brexit negotiations, Theresa May has found herself under serious pressure and scrutiny.

She has had to defend her decisions to not attend key conferences, and more recently has led the country through two terrorist attacks, one of which found Britain raising to a critical terror alert.

According to the Telegraph, the latest polls show Labour is still closing the gap behind the Conservatives, with YouGov stating a 4 point gap, and ICM stating 11 points. Despite the gap in the polls, when the election was called, the Tories lead by 17.8 points.

Far from the landslide victory the Conservatives expected, YouGov have predicted the gap will continue to close and suggested we are heading towards a hung Parliament. This occurs when no single party wins a majority vote.

If this was the case, Theresa May would remain in power, but begin discussions with the second party (most likely Labour), to decide whether they can form a coalition. This was the case in 2010 when David Cameron (the Conservatives) became Prime Minister, with Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) as his deputy.

Although each party promotes a very different manifesto, the common theme of each is the NHS. With 91% of nurses recently voting in favour of industrial action (ballot organised by RCN), the healthcare industry is definitely calling for change and crying for a lift on the pay cap nurses and doctors currently experience.

It has been no secret that the NHS is at crisis point struggling with money, staff, and with the Brexit vote, a potential nightmare regarding our nurses and doctors coming from the EU.

With Labour “over promising”, and the Conservatives planning to continue with seemingly little change, are there any parties that really have what it takes to put confidence back amongst the nation?

This Election is probably one of the most pivotal the country has ever held. With so much at stake for the nation, and with no party obliged to see their manifesto through, who will you have confidence in to lead the country out of crisis and into a bright future?



Brexit NHS

Returning Brits Will Make NHS Costs Climb.

Post Brexit, retired Brits currently living in Europe will cost the NHS £500million if the current EU healthcare scheme ends.

As part of the S1 Scheme, there are currently 190,000 British retirees living in European countries getting their healthcare costs covered. If these Brits were to return to the UK, The Nuffield Trust has estimated their care would cost roughly £979million per year.

We currently contribute £500million, and so would therefore need roughly another £500million to settle the bill.

As reported in The Guardian, the report has stated that by 2025, there could be a shortage of 70,000 paid carers. Consequently, the cost of our exit from the EU will rise if nurses and care workers currently entering the UK from Europe, were no longer permitted; we would lose the migrants that work and pay taxes.

The report highlights that, “Every step should be taken to try to secure a deal that allows them to keep receiving care where they now live”. It indicates that to fulfil the shortfall to treat returning Brits, we’d need approximately 900 beds, and the healthcare staff to match.

This pressure will only add to the strain the NHS is currently under. According to the report, there are now roughly 22,000 migrant nurses working to fill the void the NHS presently has.

The Department of Health has estimated, by severing migration, by 2025 we will have lost 20,000 nurses. This will roughly double if we were to deport those already working here.

“The state of the NHS relies heavily on it being recognised as a significant priority as we enter some of the most important negotiations in Britain’s history” (Mark Dayan, Nuffield Trust).

“These figures are a stark reminder that with the NHS at breaking point, politicians must keep the health service and its patients at the forefront during Brexit negotiations and reduce the impact that leaving the EU will have on Health and Social Care across the UK” (Dr Mark Porter, BMA Council Chair).

Manchester attack

“The Worst Attack Since The London Bombings”

“Manchester is the guts and belly of the nation” – George Orwell.

Yesterday, the world woke up to the heartbreaking news that late on Monday evening, Islamic State had targeted Manchester.

The bomb, detonated at an Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena, has so far claimed 22 lives, including children that were at the concert with their parents.

With the bomber being identified as 22 year old Salman Ramadan Abedi, the terror threat has been raised to critical with the Prime Minister activating “Operation Temperer”.

It has been confirmed that Abedi was known to police, but wasn’t considered a threat.

As reported by The Guardian, when delivering her conclusion Theresa May stated: “Not only that another attack remains highly likely, but a further attack may be imminent.” She further explained that she didn’t want to cause “undue alarm” but soldiers will be visible on the streets, with military personnel present at public events.

Operation Temperer, activated for the first time, will allow 5,000 troops to support the police, replacing armed officers at key sites to release them for street patrol. This is in response to the police requesting authorisation from the Secretary of State for support for their armed officers.

Ian Hopkins, Gtr Manchester Police Chief Constable said, “The priority remains to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network”.

Although the bomb, detonated in the foyer of the arena, was homemade, it is yet to be discovered whether it was built by Abedi, or given as support from other conspirators.

Senior security sources are said to be “rocked backwards” as a successful bomb plot hasn’t been executed in the UK since the London attacks in 2005.

What is more chilling, is that CCTV footage shows Abedi deliberately walking towards the foyer, detonating the bomb for maximum impact. He sent bolts and shrapnel into those surrounding him, claiming 22 lives with 64 being treated for injuries (updated figures from the Manchester Evening News).

The emergency and healthcare services were yesterday hailed as heroes for their part in dealing with the aftermath of the attack. Eight hospitals in and around Gtr Manchester are being used to treat the injured, with people working tirelessly since the attack.

Despite the catastrophic devastation this brutal attack has had on so many lives, the people of Manchester have been praised for their resilience and strength in rising together. It is not the first attack Manchester has seen, with the IRA once destroying half the city centre in 1996. The Mayor of Manchester reminded us of this yesterday, whilst stating in his speech, “This will not beat us”.

Theresa May is set to chair another Cobra meeting today (Wednesday 24th May) at 9am.

Nurses strike

78% of Nurses Vote In Support of Strike Ballot

As reported in the Guardian on Sunday, The Royal College of Nursing has revealed four out of five members (78%) are set to walkout over the cap on pay rises.

It was revealed they will stage a “Summer of protest activity” at their annual conference with their plan highlighting the dissatisfaction over pay. A second ballot will be taken before any action happens.

It was also revealed this week, that 1 in 9 vacancies within the sector are left unfilled, and according to the RCN, this is part of the reason Nurses are suffering low pay. The Health Foundation Charity found that by 2020 the shortfall could be 42000 Nurses, with almost half of all Nurses believing staffing levels are already stretched.

A formal pay cap of 1% was introduced in 2015, however due to inflatorary rises, this actually equates to a 14% cut since 2010.

Nurses have been left struggling, attending food banks, and some even looking for jobs in supermarkets, to try and make ends meet.

Janet Davies, General Secretary for the RCN haas commented: ” What’s happened today is unprecedented for the RCN and is a reflection of the deep anger members feel. The current conditions in the NHS are driving people out of the profession and putting new people off entering it. Our argument is not with patients. This is about ensuring they get the safe and effective care they need. The 1% cap on nursing pay is putting patients at risk.”

The industrial action will take place across the UK, including Scotland, where their terms are set separately by the Scottish Government. Their Ministers are being pressured to lift a cap which has seen their Nurses’ pay fall by 14%. Although Nicola Sturgeon has accepted it is “unacceptable to see them using food banks”, she is still defending their upholding of the 1% cap.

Mrs Sturgeon believes they’ve “done more than any other Government to protect the pay of Nurses.” Bursaries were protected and they were exempt from tuition fees, with the only downfall that starting salaries were £300 less than in England. The SNP last week refused proposals to raise pay by above 1%.

A spokesman from the Conservative party said “the only way we can increase NHS funding, staffing or pay is to get a good Brexit deal so the economy prospers in the years ahead.”

To see Labour’s reaction to the announcement, see our Facebook page (@LCSlegal).