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5.8 million NHS appointment backlog could double by 2025, warn MPs

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Government plans to deal with a record 5.8 million waiting list for elective care risk being overturned by a crisis in emergency care.

The Health and social care committee’s report on clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic finds that the elective recovery plans are threatened by pressure on emergency care with a record number of 999 calls and waiting times in emergency departments at record levels.

The Report concludes that tackling the wider backlog caused by the pandemic is a major and ‘unquantifiable’ challenge. It calls for a broad national health and care recovery plan to include mental health, primary care, community care, and social care as well as emergency care.

It finds better workforce planning to be a central factor in recovery. However, the report notes that the government resisted changes to the Health and Care Bill that would have required publication of an independent assessment of workforce numbers at least once every two years. Without it, it will remain impossible to know whether enough doctors, nurses or care staff are being trained, say MPs.

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A focus on waiting lists, at the highest levels since records began, is understandable but a numerical target driven approach risks jeopardising equally important areas of care that keep people healthy and out of hospital, the committee says.

Health and social care committee chair and former Health secretary Jeremy Hunt MP said: “The NHS faces an unquantifiable challenge in tackling a backlog of cases caused by the pandemic, with 5.8 million patients waiting for planned care and estimates that the figure could double by 2025. 

“However, our report finds that the government’s recovery plans risk being thrown off course by an entirely predictable staffing crisis. The current wave of Omicron is exacerbating the problem, but we already had a serious staffing crisis, with a burnt-out workforce, 93,000 NHS vacancies and no sign of any plan to address this.  

“Far from tackling the backlog, the NHS will be able to deliver little more than day to day firefighting unless the government wakes up to the scale of the staffing crisis facing the NHS, and urgently develops a long-term plan to fix the issue.”

In response to the committee’s new report, Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at the King’s Fund said: “Government pledges for more funding and new initiatives, like increasing NHS diagnostic capacity, will play an important role in recovery, but endemic staff shortages before the pandemic have left staff and services depleted.

“The government has provided more funding for health and care services but has so far failed to deliver a national plan to fundamentally address the workforce crisis. Without this plan, efforts to recover services and tackle rising backlogs will be hamstrung and patients will be left waiting longer for the care they need. The Health & Care Bill currently in parliament also offers the government a prime opportunity to enshrine in law a commitment to produce realistic projections of the health and care staff needed.”

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Hislop condemns ‘depressing’ conduct of MPs in spiky committee session

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Ian Hislop says standards in British public life are “very depressing”, as he denounced the lobbying culture of MPs in a standards committee session this afternoon.

Asked by the standards committee chair, Chris Bryant, how MPs were doing on standards in British public life, Hislop complained they were “not good”.

The editor of Private Eye added the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal was proof the “system failed.”

In a tense exchange with liaison committee chair Sir Bernard Jenkin, Hislop was pressed on whether better dialogue was needed around understanding rules on lobbying.

Hislop complained: “Why do you have to explain to a new MP why he shouldn’t lobby for a company that’s taking government contracts?

“Why isn’t that blatantly obvious?”

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Uzodinma invited Nigerian Army to arrest innocent Biafran youths —IPOB

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IPOB Members

The proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has accused Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, of inviting the Nigerian Army to arrest “innocent Biafran youths who are now languishing in several detention facilities across the country.

The group, in a statement on Tuesday issued by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said Uzodinma instructed the Army to go from house to house in Mbaise and Obowo communities in the state to arrest the innocent youths.

In the statement made available to Ripples Nigeria, IPOB accused the Imo Governor and security agencies of spreading falsehood against them and their leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

The Igbo separatist group also debunked a statement by the Army that its militia wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), run several camps in Imo and other states in the region, saying they were “lies fed to Nigerian on a regular basis by the military, ably supported by Uzodinma and the Commissioner of Police in the state.”

“The Nigeria Army Commander as well as the Police Commissioner in Imo State derives pleasure in dishing out fake information and falsehood to disrepute IPOB and ESN operatives,” the statement reads.

READ ALSO: Uzodinma came to kill, destroy Imo; lacks capacity to lead a state —Okorocha

“We, therefore, want to once again, declare that contrary to fabricated lies by the security agencies, ESN has no camp in Lilu, Orsumoghu in Anambra State and Mbaise, Obowo in Imo State.

“The claims by the Nigeria security agencies that they discovered IPOB/ESN camps in the affected communities are all lies concocted to blackmail us and justify further destruction of more Igbo communities by security agents.

“Hope Uzodinma, the APC and some evil politicians in Imo State are busy trying to eliminate their political opponents with the intent to blame IPOB for such atrocities. But we want the world to know that we have no hands in what is happening in Imo State.

“IPOB and ESN have no camps in these communities. We are not militants nor cannibals. Criminals can never be said to be IPOB/ESN members. We are not cultists. Our mission is the restoration of Biafra, and that has nothing to do with cannibalism and abominable things allegedly going on in such camps.

“Nigerian security agencies and government of Imo State created these criminals thinking they can demonise IPOB and ESN members but unfortunately they turned against innocent members of the society.

“Hope Uzodinma instructed soldiers to go from house to house searching for IPOB members. Many innocent youths including members of IPOB were abducted, and some unaccounted for while many others are still dumped in many detention facilities across the country.

“We still call for the release of these victims. Why should innocent Igbo and other Biafra youths be languishing in cells for committing absolutely no crime while Fulani terrorist Herdsmen are roaming free and cause more horrific crimes?”

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Rayner questions Paymaster General on Downing Street parties

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Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, described the Met Police’s investigation into alleged Downing Street parties as “a truly damning reflection on this nation’s highest office”.

Rayner told Michale Ellis, the paymaster general, that “the country have made up their minds”, and asked him “when will his party catch up?”

Ellis responded by saying the details of the investigation were “for the Cabinet Office and the police” and that they would “conduct the investigation as they see fit”.

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