Tag Archives: pressure

Vice chancellors’ pay: Universities to agree new code

University graduation
Image caption University leaders have been under pressure over high salaries

University leaders have agreed to a new code on senior pay, which is expected to be published in the next few weeks.

University representatives held a meeting with minister Jo Johnson on Wednesday where they accepted the need for more accountability.

It follows fierce criticism of university leaders over claims of excessive senior pay, with the head of the University of Bath stepping down.

Mr Johnson says “public confidence” over pay had to be restored.

The universities minister met leaders of Universities UK, the Russell Group and the Committee of University Chairs – with Mr Johnson calling for more restraint over pay.

Fair pay code

It is understood that a “fair remuneration code” will be published in January for university leaders, by the Committee of University Chairs.

Mr Johnson told university leaders that there must be a more transparent and independent system for the setting of senior salaries – and an end to the “upwards ratchet in pay”.

He set out a series of requirements, including that vice chancellors must not sit on the committee that decides their pay.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jo Johnson has told universities they need to restore public confidence

There will also have to be disclosure of benefits, such as subsidised housing and expenses.

The size of pay gaps between university heads and academic staff will also have to be published.

“It is vital that pay arrangements command public confidence and deliver value for money for students and taxpayers,” said Mr Johnson.

Universities, under increasing public pressure and protests from their own academic staff, say they also want to “rebuild public confidence”.

“We agree more needs to be done to ensure the process for deciding senior pay is viewed as open and accountable,” a Russell Group spokesperson said.

The group of leading universities says it is backing “a new code to ensure pay-setting arrangements are as rigorous and transparent as they can be”.

‘Competitive pay’

Universities UK said “competitive pay is necessary to attract first rate leaders” but a new code would be a “welcome step”.

“As universities receive funding from taxpayers and through student fees, it is reasonable to expect pay decisions to be fair, accountable and justified,” said a Universities UK spokesman.

Mr Johnson last week warned the university sector that it needed to get pay under control – and that a new regulator would be used to enforce this.

There have been a series of protests over vice-chancellors’ pay in recent weeks – including at the University of Bath, the University of Southampton and at Bath Spa.

“Has there been a problem? Most definitely,” said Mr Johnson last week. But he said universities now recognised the need to answer public concerns about value for money.

“I think they really are starting to get it.”


Dahl inspired drama for Bradford children

PRIMARY schools from across Bradford gathered for a day of Roald Dahl inspired drama.

Tong Leadership Academy recently led the Matilda themed ‘Have a Go’ drama day through the Accelerate Primary Arts Partnership, together with Bradford-based The Cheer & Dance Company.

The day saw over 80 children from Bradford Academy and Carrwood Primary have a go at singing, dance and performance as they experienced a taste of musical theatre.

Rochelle Eager, Arts Co-ordinator at Tong Leadership Academy, said: “It gave the children a fun introduction to performing in a low pressure environment; it was wonderful to see them so engaged in the activities and with smiles on their faces!”

The day for primary school pupils is just one of the elements the school offers through the Accelerate Primary Arts Partnership.

Monster ‘fatberg’ on display

fatbergImage copyright Museum of London
Image caption The museum will show how fat is blocking London‘s Victorian infrastructure

Part of one of the capital’s biggest fatbergs is going to be put on display in the Museum of London next year.

It is a slice of a monster fatberg, over 250m (820ft) long, which had been clogging up sewers below Whitechapel.

The museum says it was a congealed concoction of “fat, oil, grease, wet wipes and sanitary products”.

The display will show how modern living and high levels of rubbish are putting pressure on the “arteries” of London’s Victorian infrastructure.

The Whitechapel fatberg became something of a celebrity in its own right last autumn – with Thames Water fighting a nine-week battle against a “rock hard” blockage weighing 130 tonnes.

Image copyright Thames Water
Image caption The Whitechapel fatberg weighed as much as 11 double-decker buses

The museum describes the fatberg’s dimensions as being longer than Tower Bridge and as heavy as 11 double-decker buses.

Curator Vyki Sparkes said it “will be one of the most fascinating and disgusting objects we have ever had on display”.

Thames Water’s Stuart White says that part of its fascination is that it is the product of our own modern-day living, describing it as “repulsively human”.

There is an eco-friendly ending to what happened to the rest of the fatberg.

It was chopped up and mostly converted into bio-diesel.

Never mind an apple for teacher – how about a 6ft inflatable giraffe?

CHRISTMAS-themed pasta, half of a Curly Wurly, a 6ft inflatable giraffe and a behaviour charter from a class, are just some of the more unusual gifts West Yorkshire’s teachers claim to have received from their pupils at Christmas.

The unusual gifts were revealed in a recent survey carried out by Wakefield-based supply teacher agency, PK Education.

More than three quarters of teachers surveyed said they agreed with the practice of pupils giving gifts at Christmas, with the remainder not agreeing with the tradition, with one teacher explaining: “It’s a big pressure on parents who are already stretched at Christmas. Some pupils are aware they aren’t bringing their teacher a gift when other pupils are, solely because their parent has more spare cash.”

One said her wishlist would be to focus more on fun learning and having the children enjoy the classroom and said too much time is focused on paperwork.

If you are thinking of showing your appreciation and buying a teacher a gift this year, then chocolates are what they’d most prefer followed by alcohol – which 30 per cent of teachers indicated – and then, in joint third place, gift vouchers and flowers.

A simple ‘thank you’, however, is highly appreciated by every teacher, with one commenting: “As lovely as it is to get a gift, I get more enjoyment from the ‘thank you’ cards and emails I get from families.”

Lee Carpenter, Director of PK Education, commented on the survey results: “Every teacher appreciates a Christmas gift, whether that’s a physical present or a simple ‘thank you,’ which goes to show it doesn’t cost anything to show your appreciation and make a teacher happy.”

As part of the survey, PK Education also asked teachers what their one wish for education was this Christmas, provoking strong reactions. The majority of teachers said they wanted more funding for education with one respondent commenting: “I’d wish that schools had access to the funding they require to ensure pupils have the best possible start.”

Major Forties oil pipeline to be closed for repairs

Ineos logoImage copyright Reuters

The major Forties pipeline – which carries crude North Sea oil across land for processing at Grangemouth – is to be closed due to a cracked pipe.

The crack and leak was discovered last week near Netherley in Aberdeenshire.

The pipeline’s owner Ineos said on Monday that, despite pressure being reduced, the crack had extended.

A spokesman said: “The incident management team has now decided that a controlled shutdown of the pipeline is the safest way to proceed.”

The Forties pipeline carries about 40% of North Sea oil and gas.

Campaigners lose fight to stop 99 homes being built

DISAPPOINTED campaigners have lost the battle to stop 99 new homes being built in Clayton after the plans were given the green light.

Residents from the Keep Clayton Green Action Group objected to the development proposed by Barratt Homes for a green field site off Westminster Avenue and Holts Lane.

But councillors sitting on the Regulatory and Appeals Committee at City Hall yesterday approved the scheme by a slim majority vote of four to three.

Councillor Carol Thirkill (Lab, Clayton and Fairweather Green), speaking against the application, said: “The residents of Clayton are a welcoming community and understand the need for homes. However, this application is not the right place.”

She said that residents and members of the action group felt the village could not accommodate the traffic the new development would create.

She added that the new homes will put pressure on doctors’ surgeries, dentists and schools in the area and raised concerns about the impact on the village’s “heritage”.

The committee heard that 1,300 people signed a petition against the development and 300 residents wrote objection letters.

But planning officers said the council’s education department raised no objection to the plans and highways were “satisfied” with the development.

The project will see 75 three or four bedroom family homes built on the land and 24 two-bed properties. Twenty of the houses will be built as affordable housing.

Mark Jones, speaking on behalf of Barratt Homes said: “It is unusual but we did some CCTV surveys on the road networks. We went to lengths to do a robust survey, undertook public consultations and liaised with residents.”

Members of the committee said they “sympathise” with residents but that the planning application met the criteria for approval.

Councillor Jack Rickard (Con, Craven) said: “This does meet all the requirements but the details don’t stack up. This is pretty much doubling the village. That amount of housing has an impact on the community.”

But planning permission was granted for the project.

Speaking after the meeting, John Fox from the Keep Clayton Green Action Group said: “We’re disappointed that the decision has gone against us. I’m not sure it’s about winning or losing. The important thing is that the voice of Clayton has been heard.

“We have now started to build working relationships with the local authority. Residents are so much more aware now of potential development.”

Cllr James Vasey, vice chairman of Clayton Parish Council, said: “We absolutely welcome new people to the village but not at the compromise of others who are already living there.”

Theresa May under pressure to break Brexit talks impasse

Theresa MayImage copyright Getty Images

Theresa May is under increasing pressure from all sides to break the impasse in the Brexit talks.

The DUP says there is “work to be done” if it is to agree to plans for the future of the border with Ireland.

Irish PM Leo Varadkar said he was willing to consider new proposals and suggested the UK might put something forward later.

Ambassadors of the 27 EU member states are understood to be “waiting for something from London“.

On Monday, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party – whose support the PM needs to win key votes at Westminster – objected to draft plans drawn up by the UK and the EU.

The DUP said the proposals, which aimed to avoid a “hard border” by aligning regulations on both sides of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, were not acceptable.

The party has said it will not accept any agreement in which Northern Ireland is treated differently from the rest of the UK.

The DUP’s deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the Irish government, which has said it wants firm guarantees that a hard border can be avoided, was playing a “dangerous game” with its own economy.

At a press conference with his Dutch counterpart on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar said: “Having consulted with people in London, she (Theresa May) wants to come back to us with some text tonight or tomorrow… I expressed my willingness to consider that.”

The BBC‘s Adam Fleming said that following an update from chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier on Wednesday, EU member states agreed there must be clarity within 48 hours for them to have enough time to consult with their capitals about draft guidelines for phase two of the talks.

At a summit next week, European leaders will decide whether enough progress has been made in the negotiations on Ireland, the UK’s “divorce bill” and citizens‘ rights so far to open trade talks.

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Media captionDavid Davis was asked what had happened to the impact assessments

Amid the race to find an agreement suiting all sides, Brexit Secretary David Davis told MPs on Wednesday that the government had not carried out any impact assessments of leaving the EU on the UK economy.

Mr Davis said the usefulness of such assessments would be “near zero” because of the scale of change Brexit is likely to cause.

He had previously said the government had done 57 studies on 85% of the UK economy about the impact of Brexit.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, 19 Tory MPs who back a “soft Brexit” wrote to Mrs May saying it was “highly irresponsible” for anyone to dictate terms which may scupper a deal.

It followed some Tories backing the DUP’s decision to oppose a draft deal on the future of the Irish border.

In their letter, the 19 MPs – who largely backed Remain in the 2016 referendum – say they support the PM‘s handling of the negotiations, in particular the “political and practical difficulties” relating to the Irish border.

But they hit out at what they say are attempts by some in their party to paint a no-deal scenario in which the UK failed to agree a trade agreement as “some status quo which the UK simply opts to adopt”.

The MPs included former cabinet ministers Stephen Crabb, Dominic Grieve, Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan.

Long A&E waits: 3m a year wait over four hours

A&EImage copyright Getty Images

The number of long A&E waits across the UK has more than doubled in the past four years as hospitals struggle to cope with demand, BBC analysis shows.

Northern Ireland has the worst performance, although England has seen the fastest deterioration, the figures show.

Over 3m patients who visited UK A&Es waited over four hours in the past 12 months – up by 120% since 2012-13.

By comparison the number of visits has only risen by just over 7% to 26.9m.

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

Doctors and nurses said the findings showed the NHS could no longer cope with what was being asked of it and patients were being put at risk.

And Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said the A&E system had been “stretched to its very limits”.

“Staff are working really hard. But we’ve reached a point where we cannot meet demand.

“Life-threatening cases are prioritised. But a crowded emergency department adds risk. We get delays to assessment, pain relief and antibiotics.”

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Janet Davies agreed, describing the system as “full to bursting”.

“Nursing staff in A&E units have been telling us for some time that they are working under intolerable pressure, and that it’s hard for them to do more than firefight,” she added.

How far short is the NHS of the target?

There are minor variations in the way the target is measured across the four nations, although they are considered broadly comparable.

The data compiled by the BBC shows a significant difference in performance against the four-hour target for treating or admitting patients.

In Northern Ireland, which has seen the biggest rise in people coming to A&E units, just 75% of patients were seen in four hours in 2016-17, whereas Scotland saw 93.9% – only marginally lower than the 95% target.

In fact Scotland is the only part of the UK performing better than it was four years ago.

England has seen the biggest rise in long waiters – a 155% increase. In Scotland the number of long waiters actually fell by 9%.

Regionally in England the West Midlands has the worst performance followed by the North West – patients visiting A&Es in those areas are more than twice as likely to wait over four hours than those in the North East, the best-performing region.

‘You feel like you are failing patients’

The BBC has been speaking to a number of hospital staff this week about their experiences. Many wanted to remain anonymous given the political sensitivity about the performance of the health service.

But all agreed the pressures were as great as they had ever experienced. One nurse, who works in an A&E unit in south Wales, said his department faced relentless “24/7” pressure.

“I know of colleagues who leave a shift and then come back the next day and find the patient is still there. We have seen them in A&E but there are not beds in hospital. It causes overcrowding and all sorts of delays.

“Ambulances queue outside A&Es as the staff are too busy to take patients off them. I’ve worked in A&Es for over 10 years and this is as bad as I can remember.”

Another nurse, from London, said: “You feel you are failing patients. This is not the sort of care we want to provide, or patients deserve.

“We obviously prioritise the most serious cases, but when it is this busy there is always a risk you miss something. I sometimes finish my shift and end up worrying about my patients.”

Is there a solution?

Unless the NHS can get its existing network of hospitals to see patients more quickly, the health service would need another 20 A&Es to hit the target again.

But each nation believes the answer to the problem lies in trying to control the numbers turning up at A&E and ensuring they pass through hospital more quickly when they do need treatment by freeing up beds.

This is done by making sure there are spare beds in care homes and care services in the community, to hand over frail patients to.

Image copyright Getty Images

In Scotland, for example, NHS budgets have been pooled with council funds to create a closer working relationship between hospitals and care in the community, which is one of the reasons why ministers there believe they have performed better than the rest of the UK.

In England an extra £1bn is being invested in social care this year, while £435m has been freed up to help with winter planning, including putting GPs in A&Es to deal with the more minor cases.

A Department of Health spokesman said ministers acknowledge the NHS was “under pressure due to the ageing population”, but he pointed out that despite the deterioration, nine in 10 patients were still dealt with in four hours.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said the money had come too late.

“We are not where we would want to be as we head into winter. We cannot say with certainty how tough this winter will be, but the likelihood is that services will be sorely tested.”

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said there were signs performance was improving when you compared this year to last year instead of four years ago.

But he admitted winter would be “challenging”.


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Newspaper headlines: Pressure grows over Brexit and the ‘call girl who rocked Britain’ dies

Image caption The Guardian reports that Theresa May is facing growing pressure to secure a breakthrough in the Brexit talks with the EU. The paper also reports on the death of Christine Keeler, who had an affair with Conservative cabinet minister John Profumo as a teenager in the 60s. The scandal shook Harold Macmillan’s government. She is pictured on almost all of Wednesday’s front pages.
Image caption City AM reports that Brexit Secretary David Davis is seeking to reassure MPs over the future of Northern Ireland, in the wake of Monday’s intervention in negotiations by the Democratic Unionist Party.
Image caption The Daily Telegraph says Theresa May is facing a Cabinet revolt after Brexiteers expressed fear the prime minister was trying to force through a soft Brexit.
Image caption The Metro reports on the biggest rail fare increase in five years. The newspaper says ticket prices are due to go up by 3.4% on average in 2018.
Image caption The i says there have been renewed calls from passengers and Labour for Britain’s railways to be renationalised, following the news of the rail fare increase.
Image caption The Times says it has learnt that Chancellor Philip Hammond has been banned from using a fleet of RAF jets and helicopters until the Treasury settles a bill with the Ministry of Defence.
Image caption The Financial Times reports that James Murdoch has been suggested as a potential successor to Bob Iger, chief executive of Walt Disney, in talks with the company over the sale of 21st Century Fox.
Image caption The Daily Mail reports on a pledge by 100 nations to stop polluting the oceans.
Image caption The Daily Mirror reports that counter-terror police have foiled an alleged plot to kill Theresa May and bomb Downing Street.
Image caption The Sun focuses on the same story and says two men have been charged by police.

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Brexit: Theresa May under pressure to get DUP on side

Theresa May and Jena-Claude JunckerImage copyright AFP

Theresa May is under pressure to get an agreement from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on the status of the Irish border when the UK leaves the EU.

The prime minister pulled out of a deal with Brussels that would have kick-started trade talks after meeting fierce resistance from the DUP.

The party said it would not accept a deal which saw Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK.

Mrs May will return to Brussels as early as Wednesday to try again.

She is under pressure to get an agreement on EU divorce issues before European leaders meet on 14 December to decide whether to give the green light to start talks on post-Brexit trade.

The three issues that need to be resolved are the Irish border, citizens‘ rights and the amount of money the UK will pay as it leaves.

Talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker broke up without agreement on Monday, although both sides said they were hopeful of getting a deal by the end of the week.

Mrs May had been expecting to make a major statement to MPs about a breakthrough in Brexit talks on Tuesday, but that has now been cancelled.

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Media captionThe DUP’s Arlene Foster accused Dublin of trying to change the Good Friday agreement unilaterally

Instead, it is thought she will hold meetings with the DUP, as she attempts to get them to back her. She will also update ministers on the situation at a cabinet meeting.

The DUP, which is Northern Ireland’s largest party, has 10 MPs at Westminster and their support is vital to the government.

This is because the Conservatives are without a Commons majority since June’s general election, and rely on a deal with the DUP to ensure they can survive key votes.

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Media captionIrish PM Leo Varadkar said he was “surprised and disappointed”

The DUP objected to a clause in a draft agreement with the EU that would guarantee “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is understood to have insisted on the clause to prevent the return of a “hard border” on the island of Ireland, amid concern it could undermine the 1998 peace treaty that brought an end to The Troubles.

But the DUP says it would prevent Northern Ireland from leaving the EU “on the same terms” as the rest of the UK.

Northern Ireland would effectively have remained in the EU’s customs union and single market in all but name.

Scotland‘s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that if Northern Ireland was allowed to operate under different rules there was “surely no good practical reason” why other parts of the UK could not do the same – a message echoed by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Leo Veradkar said he had been “surprised and disappointed” by the failure to get a deal on Monday and claimed the UK had changed its mind at the last minute after the DUP raised objections.

Downing Street has not responded to Mr Varadkar’s claim.

But it said the Irish border was not the only outstanding problem and disagreement remains over the role of the European Court of Justice in overseeing EU citizens‘ rights in the UK after Brexit.

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Media captionTheresa May said she is “confident we will conclude this positively”

The prime minister is expected back in Brussels for further talks before the end of the week.

Sources declined to confirm reports that she would meet Mr Juncker and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Wednesday.

The government’s chief whip, Julian Smith, is understood to have held talks with his DUP opposite number, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, on Monday evening, as efforts began to get the party on side.