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Donald Trump To Meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un Next Month In Second Summit

By Isabel Togoh

US President Donald Trump will hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month, the White House has confirmed.

The announcement followed a meeting between Pyongyang’s top nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, a hardline former spy chief.

The meeting marks a sign of movement in denuclearization efforts that have stalled since a landmark meeting between Trump and the North Korean leader in Singapore last year.

Sarah Sanders, White House spokeswoman, said: “President Donald J. Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and half, to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February.

President @realDonaldTrump looks forward to a second summit with Chairman Kim, which will take place near the end of February. Location will be announced at a later date.

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 18, 2019

“The President looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date.”

Despite the summit announcement, there has been no indication of any progress over US demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States, or over Pyongyang’s demand for a lifting of punishing sanctions.

Trump declared after the Singapore summit in June that the nuclear threat posed by North Korea was over. But hours before Kim Yong Chol’s arrival, Trump unveiled a revamped US missile defence strategy that singled out the country as an ongoing and “extraordinary threat.”

The first summit resulted in a vague commitment by Kim to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

But he has yet to take what Washington sees as concrete steps in that direction.

Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has good relations with both the United States and North Korea, is widely tipped to host the next summit, although a venue has not been formally announced.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/donald-trump-to-meet-north-koreas-kim-jong-un-next-month-in-second-summit_uk_5c423566e4b027c3bbc1ac98

      

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Duke of Edinburgh Privately Contacted And ‘Exchanged Well-Wishes’ With Women Injured In Car Accident

By PA / Press Association

The Duke of Edinburgh has exchanged “well-wishes” with the two women injured in the dramatic car crash that saw his Land Rover roll across a busy A-road.

Philip contacted the driver and passenger privately following the accident on Thursday, and Buckingham Palace said the duke underwent another medical examination, this time at hospital, as a precaution following doctor’s advice.

The Queen’s consort was found to have “no injuries of concern” after his check-up on Friday morning. He was first examined soon after the accident by a doctor at Sandringham who gave a similar verdict.

The duke was lucky to walk away unscathed following the crash when the Land Rover Freelander he was driving rolled following a collision with a Kia, close to the Queen’s Sandringham estate.

Despite being aged 97 and having had a hip replacement operation last year, Philip appears to have no lasting problems following the crash.

A source said: “The duke’s routine in the coming days will continue as normal.”

Norfolk Police said two women – the 28-year-old Kia driver, who suffered cuts to her knee, and a 45-year-old passenger who broke a wrist – were treated at the local Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn that day and discharged.

There was also a miraculous escape for a nine-month-old baby boy who survived unhurt in the Kia, police said.

A palace spokeswoman said: “On doctor’s advice, the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn this morning for a precautionary check-up.

“This confirmed His Royal Highness had no injuries of concern. The duke has returned to Sandringham.”

She added: “Contact has been made privately with the occupants in the other car and well-wishes exchanged.”

Eyewitness Roy Warne helped the stricken duke out of his car and said the royal, who was left very shocked by the accident, asked if everybody was all right and was overheard telling police he had been “dazzled by the sun”.

The crash happened on Thursday afternoon as Philip’s Freelander pulled out of a side road onto a stretch of the A149 which was earmarked by the local authority for possible safety measures.

At a meeting, coincidentally scheduled for Friday, Norfolk Country Council approved plans to lower the speed limit from 60mph to 50mph, backed by speed cameras.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/duke-of-edinburgh-exchanged-well-wishes-with-women-injured-in-car-accident_uk_5c4229b2e4b0bfa693c36b77

      

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It's A Dirty Word In Politics, But Compromise Is The Key To Solving Brexit

By Lucy Powell

Theresa May’s signature “nothing has changed” mantra must be jettisoned before she plunges us into a disastrous no deal Brexit which will scar our country for decades.

Compromise is a dirty word in Westminster, and our wider politics, as toxicity and absolutism have taken hold. Yet if politicians are to do the job we were elected to do, and make a decision on the best path for our country, it is a word that we now all need to re-learn. While many shout louder into their loud-hailers, its time we were a bit more honest about the upsides and, particularly, downsides of any option.

Increasingly as MPs we are coming to this realisation, even if the headlines suggest deadlock. For example, I’ve produced a pamphlet with Conservative MP Rob Halfon, to find a way through the Brexit impasse, Common Market 2.0, supported by the cross-Party Norway Plus Group of MPs. It respects the referendum result, ensures we leave the political institution of the EU whilst delivering a strong economic relationship which protects jobs and livelihoods. Britain would join the European Economic Area guaranteeing single market access. We would join a customs union too which would solve the backstop issue.

This idea is widely gaining traction, with significant support this week from the Mirror newspaper backing the plan, and the commentator Owen Jones. There has also been movement towards this from the right, with arch Eurosceptic Dan Hannan, floating pure EFTA membership. Indeed, the “Norway” model was once the preserve of prominent leave campaigners.

As with any of the options before us, it’s not perfect and we’ve been honest about that.

Common Market 2.0 would mean a close economic relationship with the EU, but a loss of direct political influence. However, any deal that negates the backstop by creating regulatory alignment would also require us to follow Single Market regulations. Remaining in the EU is not the bastion of political control either: as one of 28 countries where single market regulations are agree by majority voting, things often don’t go our way.

Yet we would not be a “rule taker” when it comes to fisheries policy, the Common Agricultural Policy, home affairs and the European Court of Justice as we would be leaving the EU. Some, often those advocating remain, ironically, say it would be a difficult sell as we would still accept free movement. However, while I would never argue we would gain full control of our borders, Common Market 2.0 would give our government the unilateral right to suspend free movement should there be sound economic or societal reasons to do so.

I am realistic about these drawbacks while setting them in the context of the significant economic upsides of being in the single market, as well as the political advantages of being in a new, stronger alliance of countries outside the EU in EFTA. This is what many thought they’d voted for in the 1970s and what they wanted when they voted leave.

I respect those with strongly-held pro-Remain views yet I don’t think, with respect, they are presenting their arguments with the same realism. When I hear Tony Blair (again) on the radio, his argument to remain in the EU via another referendum is subject to little scrutiny. In the competing market place of ideas, shouting the loudest and whipping up the base gets you so far, but it’s not going to get us through this mess. We all have to be more frank.

The path to another vote is blocked by the parliamentary arithmetic, and it is completely unclear what would now be the “leave” proposition on the ballot. The main argument for another referendum is not nobody knew what leave meant. We still have no clear view of this as parliament can’t decide. And whilst I could countenance the circumstances where I might vote for another referendum as a last resort if it was the only option other than no deal, I would do so knowing honestly how difficult it would be to square with the country. So even if you conclude another referendum is desirable (and I don’t) it doesn’t mean we can duck the difficult issue of what leaving would look like, because Parliament will not countenance “no deal” either.

Simply remaining in the EU equally has its faults, and I say this as someone who headed up Britain in Europe for years. For decades we have been telling people the EU is not perfect but we are better in than out. Yet there is no plan to reform the EU to answer the concerns many have.

A clean break from the political Uunion and a re-set of our relationship with Europe may be the best way forward. Leavers promised the public the ‘exact same benefits’ for our economy outside the EU if we left. Remainers want to keep us closely aligned to Europe. A new common market with Europe, built on shared economic interests, does just that, and offers the prospect of a new stronger relationship with Europe outside political Union.

What this entire situation needs freeing from is notions of “red lines”, arguments being only presented for their upsides, not their downsides, and everyone continuing to shout louder and louder at each other instead of listening. This is the biggest political and constitutional crisis of our lifetimes it will only be resolved by compromise not by clickbait in echo-chambers.

Lucy Powell is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Manchester Central

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/brexit-deal-plan_uk_5c41fd0ce4b0bfa693c32f8b

      

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Man With 'Large Knife' Arrested At Dartford Train Station

By Nadine White

A man brandishing what witnessed described as a ‘sword’ has been arrested at Dartford train station.

Shortly before 12.45pm on Friday, officers from British Transport Police and Kent Police were called to Dartford station after reports of a man in possession of a large knife.

Police officers quickly arrived on the scene and detained a man on the platforms of the station.

The 23-year-old was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.

#Dartford platform as armed response to man on train with sword pic.twitter.com/Ew8qqtCrpo

— David Johnson (@davidjohnson07) January 18, 2019

No injuries were reported and the incident is not believed to be terror-related. During the arrest, a Taser device was drawn but not deployed, BTP told HuffPost UK.

Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact BTP by text on 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 231 of 18/01/2019.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/man-with-large-knife-arrested-at-dartford-train-station_uk_5c41dfdee4b0bfa693c2e7a9

      

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Channel 4's 'The Circle' Is Coming Back For A Second Series

By Rachel McGrath

The stars of last year's 'The Circle'

A second series of ‘The Circle’ will be coming to our screens later this year, Channel 4 has confirmed.

The new series will be slightly longer, as an “extended run” is being planned, with bosses also confirming plans to air a weekly live episode.

A press release announcing the news also teases a “more mischievous” approach, adding: “Viewers will also be given greater control and increased interactivity with the game.”

Kelly Webb-Lamb, Channel 4′s Head of Popular Factual has praised the show for “striking a chord with young viewers who were utterly gripped by the drama and relationships that unfolded on screen – even though the players never met”.

“The second series will have more of what the viewers loved – warmth, humour, more live elements and even more surprises,” she cotninued. “I’m excited to see how it will build on the success of series one.”

The first series was billed as having Maya Jama and Alice Levine as hosts, but as it continued viewers noticed they were largely absent, though they did present the finale.

It’s unclear whether or not the new they’ll be back for series two.

After a shaky start, ‘The Circle’ became a surprise hit with viewers as it progressed, after debuting on Channel 4 last autumn.

Just 1 million people tuned in for the launch show, but on streaming service All 4, the series became the channel’s biggest new original commission launch since 2012, with more than 10 million views.

The live final saw Alex Hobern – who had been cat-fishing his competitors by playing as Kate, a character largely based on his girlfriend – taking home the £75,000 prize.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/the-circle-series-two-channel-4_uk_5c41d8dee4b0a8dbe170ab07

      

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New Road Safety Measures Planned After Prince Philip Crash

By Nadine White

Norfolk Council has approved plans for new safety measures on the section of the A149 where the Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a crash.

With the authority’s environment, development and transport committee giving the green light, the speed limit will be lowered from 60mph to 50mph and an average speed monitoring system will be implemented after the incident on Thursday.

The news comes after Prime Minister Theresa May revealed she had sent the Duke of Edinburgh a message following the crash.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The prime minister has sent a private message wishing him well.”

The crash will be “investigated and any appropriate action taken”, Norfolk Police said, adding that officers were following standard procedure where a road traffic collision resulted in injuries.

The 97-year-old Duke was driving a Land Rover Freelander, which flipped over after it was hit by another car when he pulled out of a driveway near the Queen’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, onto the busy A-road.

The woman driving the other vehicle, a Kia, and her female passenger, needed hospital treatment. There was also a nine-month-old baby boy in the car.

Investigations continue into Sandringham collision – https://t.co/ZzVyagD40mpic.twitter.com/YBgSZEllRn

— Norfolk Police (@NorfolkPolice) January 18, 2019

The Duke of Edinburgh is from a generation when some people did not need to pass a driving test to obtain a licence.

He was born on June 10, 1921, but compulsory testing for new drivers to obtain a licence was only introduced in Britain on June 1, 1935.

This applied to all drivers and riders who started driving on or after April 1 1934 – when the Duke was 12.

The Queen’s husband lived in both Europe and the UK as a boy, and enrolled at Dartmouth Naval College in 1939.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “The duke has got a driving licence and follows all of the usual DVLA procedures.”

The Queen, however, does not having a driving licence – due to her exemption from the law requiring all other citizens to pass a test and hold a licence if they want to drive.

The monarch learned to drive with the Army in 1945 when she was 19, after she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the Second World War.

She still drives herself around her estates.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/a-number-of-prince-phillips-generation-may-have-got-drivers-license-without-passing-test_uk_5c41c32ae4b027c3bbc0d23d

      

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2019 Is All About 'Intensive Parenting' – And It Sounds Very Hard Work

By Victoria Richards

Never mind being a helicopter parent, lawnmower parent or ‘tiger mum’ – if you’re really on trend this year, you’ll be an ‘intensive parent’. And boy, does it pile on the pressure.

‘Intensive parents’, according to new research, prefer a child-centred, time-intensive approach to raising kids. They obsess over their children’s extra-curricular activities; splashing cash on extra violin, drama and karate lessons, even when money is tight.

They want to be involved with their kids at all times and will play with them at home, ask often about their thoughts and feelings, discuss and explain every angle of bad behaviour.

And if a child says they’re “bored”, the intensive parent is more likely to sign them up for a new after-school sports or extra homework class, than suggest they go out and play with their friends.

Sound familiar? We’ve already had helicopter parenting – in which mums, dads and carers hover over their kids, overseeing every aspect of their lives. But intensive parenting takes it to another level. Patrick Ishizuka, a research fellow at Cornell University in the US, said that today’s parents have “exceptionally high standards” when it comes to raising their kids.

“Parents are experiencing significant pressure to spend great amounts of both time and money on children,” USA Today reported. “It’s remarkable just how widespread support is for intensive parenting.”

The study looked at more than 3,600 parents from all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds, and asked them to rate fictitious parent-child scenarios for “good” or “bad” parenting.

Results showed that 75% of parents rated “intensive” parenting styles as “very good” or “excellent” – whereas only 32% of college graduates, and 38% of non-graduates, rated a “natural growth” style of parenting as being beneficial.

This “natural growth” approach is more hands-off. Parents set rules for their children’s safety, but give them the flexibility to play on their own or with friends. Adults are not as involved in activities and are less likely to negotiate.

Ishizuka said there was a danger that some parents were setting themselves up to achieve unrealistic ideals of parenting.

“These high standards are less compatible with some parents’ resources,” he said. “Even though parents with a lower socio-economic status have these ideals, we know that they’re not, on average, engaging in these parenting behaviors as often as college graduates. A lack of time and money could be a factor in shaping their behaviors, given that they have very similar ideals.”

Parents are experiencing significant pressure to spend great amounts of both time and money on children”Patrick Ishizuka, Frank H.T. Rhodes Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cornell Population Center

Which type of parent are you?

Intensive parent: Wants to be involved in every aspect of their child’s life. Focuses all of their time and money – even when it leaves them struggling – on enriching their child’s free time and spending any time that’s left together.

Helicopter parent: Takes responsibility for their child’s successes or failures (including bargaining with teachers, doing homework). Is over-involved in their child’s life in a way that is controlling, protective and perfectionist.

Lawnmower parent: ‘Mows down’ obstacles to their child’s happiness. Will do anything they can to make sure their child doesn’t experience discomfort. Will go out of their way to ‘fix’ problems (such as going home to bring child’s favourite pencil case back to school, even if it makes them late for work).

Tiger parent: Strict or demanding. Determined their child will achieve success, at all costs. May push and pressure their children to study, practice musical instruments or train for sports – using up all their free time to do so. Believes in ‘tough love’.

Free range parent: Raises their child in a ‘hands off’ manner. Encourages them to be independent, to make their own choices and decisions, and to play alone or with friends. Relaxed rules and limited boundaries. Sets safety rules, but doesn’t believe in much supervision.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/2019-is-all-about-intensive-parenting-and-it-sounds-very-hard-work_uk_5c41a9b2e4b0a8dbe1700c19

      

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Kim Jong-un's Top Aide Arrives In US For Meeting With Secretary of State

By Nadine White

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to meet former North Korean spy chief Kim Yong-chol today.

According to South Korean reports, the top aide is carrying a letter for President Donald Trump from Kim Jong-un, and a meeting between the two leaders is expected to follow soon, US officials said.

Neither the US nor North Korea has announced any meetings.

Trump has spoken several times of having a second summit with Kim early this year, and has exchanged multiple letters with the North Korean leader despite little tangible progress on a denuclearisation agreement reached at their first meeting in Singapore last June.

Since then, several analysts have published reports detailing continuing North Korean development of nuclear and missile technology.

A White House official, while not confirming plans a meeting, said “a lot of positive things” are happening related to North Korea’s denuclearisation.

The official said Trump and Kim had established a “good relationship” and that US-North Korea conversations were continuing.

The official said the two sides were “working to make progress” on the denuclearisation goal and that Trump “looks forward to meeting Chairman Kim again at their second summit at a place and time yet to be determined”.

At a conference of US diplomats at the State Department on Wednesday, vice president Mike Pence acknowledged the lack of progress.

He called the Trump-Kim dialogue “promising” but stressed that “we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region”.

Denuclearisation talks stalled over North Korea’s refusal to provide a detailed accounting of its nuclear and missile facilities that would be used by inspectors to verify any deal to dismantle them.

The North has been demanding that the US lift harsh sanctions and provide it with security guarantees before it takes any steps beyond its initial suspension of nuclear and missile tests.

Kim expressed frustration in an annual new year’s address over the lack of progress in negotiations.

But on a visit to Beijing last week, he said North Korea would pursue a second summit “to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community,” according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/north-korean-official-kim-jong-un-arrives-in-us_uk_5c41a54ae4b027c3bbc0686a

      

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Pair Of Penguins Returned To Zoo Two Months After Being Stolen

By Connor Parker

Two penguins have been rescued and returned to a zoo after being stolen two months ago.

Police were tipped off about the missing pair of Humboldt birds after they were spotted in Strelley Village, Nottinghamshire on Wednesday.

A 23-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of burglary and theft and the penguins were returned to their rightful home.

Sergeant Andrew Browning said: “My first thought was this is one for the books, and one to tell the grandkids, because there’s no way we thought we would go down there and actually find two penguins.

“It was an unusual one. Even when we went down to custody it made everyone laugh, particularly the custody sergeant who was booking us in. It was a real off-the-wall find.”

Nottinghamshire Police declined to say which zoo the animals had been taken from.

Humboldt Penguins originate from South America and are currently listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/pair-of-penguins-returned-to-zoo-two-months-after-being-stolen_uk_5c41a44ae4b027c3bbc06598

      

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Commons Speaker Bercow Could Be 'Denied Peerage' In Unprecedented Move

By Nadine White

Having unleashed the anger of ministers for what they argue to be “bias” during Commons debates on Brexit, speaker John Bercow could be denied a peerage when he retires.

This move would break a tradition dating back 230 years that former Speakers are automatically offered a seat in the House of Lords.

Last week, Bercow broke from parliamentary precedent to allow votes to take place on amendments to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

A Cabinet source reportedly said: “It’s a good job peerage nominations are in our gift.

“I’m sure we’ll be thinking carefully about which individuals we would choose to elevate to the House of Lords.

“I can’t imagine we would look favourably on those who’ve cheated centuries of procedure.”

Last week, Bercow faced a backlash from Conservative MPs after selecting a proposal from Tory former minister Dominic Grieve, which attempts to speed up the process for the Government to reveal what it will do next if Theresa May’s deal is rejected.

Grieve’s amendment was tabled against a Government motion detailing the timetable for the Brexit deal debate, which Tory MPs argued was “unamendable”.

However, Bercow stood by his decision to allow a vote on the amendment – which was ultimately approved by 308 votes to 297, majority 11 – amid personal criticism and calls for him to go from Tory MPs during more than 60 minutes of points of order.

The Speaker also did not confirm that his decision was taken with agreement from the Commons clerk Sir David Natzler following questions by Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom.

This comes after Leadsom accused John Bercow of being biased against the government.

The Speaker sharply criticised Theresa May for deciding to cancel a vote on her Brexit deal.

He accused the prime minister of being “deeply discourteous” for not asking the permission of MPs.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Leadsom said it was a “challenge” dealing with Bercow.

“He’s made his views on Brexit on the record, and the problem with that of course is that the chair’s impartiality is absolutely essential,” she said.

Asked whether she believed his position was “tainted”, she replied: “He’s made his views known on Brexit.”

In October, the Speaker reportedly informed friends of his intention to stand this summer, following a published report that condemned a culture in Parliament in which abusive behaviour was “tolerated and covered up.”

Bercow, himself, has also faced allegations of bullying – which he has denied.

The tradition of retiring Speakers sees them stand down as MPs at the same time, triggering a by-election in their constituency.

Following this, they are then recommended for a peerage sit in the Lords as a cross-bencher.

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/commons-speaker-bercow-could-be-denied-peerage_uk_5c418ad5e4b0a8dbe16fbfdc

      

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Pharmacists Warn Of Medicine 'Shortage' In The Wake Of Brexit Uncertainty

By Nadine White

Pharmacists are warning of a shortage in many common medicines with some having to pay increased prices for them.

As a result, patients are complaining of delays in getting access to drugs such as painkillers, anti-depressants and blood pressure medication.

There has been a big rise in the number of drugs on the “shortage of supply” list for England, the BBC has found.

This leaves many people concerned that uncertainly about Brexit will make the situation worse.

Jody Butler, Pharmacist for Pari-chem, told ITV Anglia: “At the moment there is an issue with drug supply, probably more so than at any point in my past career.

“Brexit is one of the issues that might be playing into that but obviously the drug market is a complicated one and they’ll be multiple factors.

“We are running out of several quite basic drugs, which obviously is causing complications for the patients, delays in getting patients treatment and costing time for pharmacies and GPs.”

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the government has instructed manufacturers of both branded and generic drugs to stockpile six weeks’ worth of supplies, to enable people to access their medications.

Gareth Jones, from the National Pharmacy Association, told the BBC: “Uncertainty over Brexit appears to be a significant factor”, adding that patients do not seem to be panicking about getting their medicines after a possible no-deal Brexit, but thinks there could be an element of “unconscious stockpiling”.

There are 80 medicines in such short supply that the Department of Health has agreed to pay a premium for them – an increase of over 50% since October.

While most people will be able to get their prescriptions filled as normal, those who specifically need one of the drugs that is short supply will bear the brunt of this crisis.

Some pharmacists are sending patients back to their GPs to ask for a different medicine or dosage.

Others are giving as much of a drug as they can spare and sending people away with IOU slips which they can show upon revisiting for the remainder.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) keeps track of which drugs are in such short supply and for which ones the NHS has agreed to intermittently fork out a higher amount.

A BBC analysis of this data has revealed that the number of medications on the list has grown six-fold in three years.

The government stresses that two million prescription items are dispensed in England every day, and the vast majority of medicines are not in short supply.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We continue to work closely with industry and partners to ensure patients receive the medicines they need and pharmacies are reimbursed fairly.”

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/pharmacists-warn-of-shortage-in-medicine-in-the-wake-of-brexit-uncertainty_uk_5c418301e4b0bfa693c1e165

      

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Ministers Accused Of 'Robbing Peter To Pay Paul' As Spending Watchdog Brands NHS Finances 'Unsustainable'

By Jasmin Gray

Theresa May announcing the NHS long term plan earlier this month

Tory ministers have been accused of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” after parliament’s spending watchdog branded NHS finances “unsustainable”, warning they could derail the recently announced long-term plan.

In its annual report on the health service, the National Audit Office (NAO) found that by offsetting surpluses and deficits in spending, the NHS was effectively hiding regional differences in finances and patient experience.

The probe revealed that while the health service almost achieved financial balance in 2017/18, NHS trusts racked up a combined deficit of £991m – much of which was accounted for by just 10 trusts.

The government handed out £3.2bn in loans to support trusts unable to afford staff costs and pay suppliers – an increase of almost half a billion on 2016/17. It is a sign “that the underlying financial health in some trusts is getting worse”, the NAO said.

Meanwhile, waiting times continued to slip, with just 88% of A&E patients seen within four hours in 2017/18 against a target of 95%.

According to NAO estimates, it would also cost £700m to reduce waiting lists for non-urgent treatments – up from 2.5 million patients in 2012/13 to 4.1 million – even back to levels seen in March 2018.

However, the watchdog warned that the NHS long-term funding settlement announced by Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month, which will see an additional £20bn a year pumped into the health service by 2023/24, must not be used to exclusively deal with short-term pressures – a mistake that has been made in the past.

“There is a risk that the extra funding will not be used effectively due to staff shortages as more money may be used to pay expensive agency staff or will go unspent as individual healthcare providers may not be able to recruit the staff to deliver additional activity,” the report read.

It will also be “very difficult to make the NHS sustainable” without a long-term funding settlement for social care, it added.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Tory ministers were “robbing to Peter to pay Paul by moving money designated for longer-term investment into day-to-day spending”, accusing the Conservative Party of imposing “the biggest cash squeeze in history” on the NHS.

But NAO’s auditor general Amyas Morse went on to call the long-term settlement “a positive and welcome development”, saying that if the funding is spent wisely “we can expect to see a less turbulent financial context than the last few years”.

Meanwhile, an NHS England spokesperson said it agreed with the NAO that the long term plan “is a prudent and practical route-map for improving health and care.”

A spokesperson for the government added: “The long-term plan, backed by a significant funding increase of £20.5 billion a year by 2023/24, rightly sets out that putting the NHS back onto a sustainable financial path is a key priority, and is essential to allowing the NHS to deliver further improvements in care.”

Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/ministers-accused-of-robbing-peter-to-pay-paul-as-spending-watchdog-brands-nhs-finances-unsustainable_uk_5c40ac4de4b027c3bbbf06d1

      

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Whitehall Chiefs 'Told To Prepare For Snap General Election' Over Brexit Deadlock

By Jasmin Gray

Whitehall chiefs have been ordered to draw up contingency plans for a snap General Election, it has been reported.

With parliament in a state of deadlock over Brexit, head of the civil service Sir Mark Sedwill met with government department heads this week to make sure they were ready for the possibility of an unexpected poll,
Second Brexit Referendum Impossible In Next 12 Months, Government Document Claims


  • Boris Johnson Blames Low Wages On ‘Unlimited Pools’ Of Foreign Workers
  • Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/general-election-brexit-preparation_uk_5c411239e4b027c3bbbfb01e

          

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    Blank Payslips For US Federal Workers As Shutdown Drags On

    By Isabel Togoh

    Some 800,000 public sector workers in the US missed their first payday of the year on Friday as the government shutdown continues.

    Employees posted pictures of their blank payslips on Twitter and vented their frustration as the stand-off entered its 21st day and is set to become the longest shutdown in US history over the weekend.

    Government workers are scaling back spending, cancelling trips, applying for unemployment benefits and taking out loans to stay afloat, while some are trying to land second jobs.

    Some Democrats seized on the empty payslips as a way to renew criticism of President Donald Trump, who triggered the shutdown over his demands for funding for a border wall.

    Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia tweeted: “It should be payday for hundreds of thousands of federal workers. But thanks to Trump, many are actually getting pay stubs like this. He’s treating them like the countless contractors he stiffed throughout his business career.”

    Roughly 420,000 federal employees were deemed essential and are working unpaid. An additional 380,000 are staying at home without pay.

    Government contractors, who have been placed indefinitely on unpaid leave, do not get compensated for lost hours.

    The typical federal employee makes $37 (£29) an hour, which translates into $1,480 (£1,153) a week, according to the US Labour Department’s data.

    Many workers live payslip to payslip, despite the strong economy and the ultra-low unemployment rate, and would struggle if their wages or salaries were interrupted. A Federal Reserve survey in May found that 40% of Americans would have to borrow or sell something to make a 400 dollar (£311) emergency payment.

    Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/blank-payslips-for-us-federal-workers-as-shutdown-drags-on_uk_5c390eeae4b0922a21d4ef11

          

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    Two British People Among Tourists Injured In Cuba Bus Crash Which Left 7 Dead

    By Isabel Togoh

    Seven people have died and five are in critical condition after a bus carrying local travellers and tourists, including British visitors, crashed in eastern Cuba.

    Two British tourists were injured while onboard with local travellers and visitors from the Netherlands, France, Mexico and Canada.

    The vehicle crashed on a road between the cities of Baracoa and Guantanamo.

    A spokeswoman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said: “We continue to seek further information from the Cuban authorities following a road traffic accident, and are ready to assist any British people who require our help.

    “We are currently providing assistance to two British nationals who were injured on the bus.”

    The driver told Radio Guantanamo he lost control on the wet and winding road.

    Cuban highways are poorly lit, narrow and rutted with huge potholes. There were 750 deaths and 7,999 injuries in 11,187 accidents last year in the country of 11 million.

    Thursday’s wreck was the fourth major bus accident in a month.

    Via:: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/british-couple-among-tourists-injured-in-cuba-bus-crash-which-left-7-dead_uk_5c38c216e4b045f6768b8319

          

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