The UK, alike other nations, are working to reduce the amount of carbon emissions produced, in order to create a more greener and pollutant free environment. One way the government wants us to do this is by getting Londoners to obtain hot water and heat from ‘district heating networks’. The plan is that a central communal heat source will send heat and hot water along underground pipelines eventually leading to people's homes. The energy providers
believe these methods are efficient and suitable, however some residents have complained that this type of heating is simply to expensive for them. E.on runs a mini power station outside the ‘myatt’s field north oval quarter estate’, being installed as part of a redevelopment. The mini power station has simply been a burden to the residents. Uzoamaka Okafor is the chair of residents association and explained that the power station was causing extreme amounts of distress for the residents, especially for the less capable, such as the elderly. “It’s been riddled with issues, from intermittent hot water and heating, a number of outages, to concerns around high estimates bills, customer service and technical faults..."There are lots of residents that do not put their heating on at all; they go to bed early. I've bought one resident blankets, because she's so distressed about bills she doesn't want to put the heating on”. Smart meters had been placed in each home, but were incorrectly providing the wrong heating usage and increase bills unexpectedly. The bills of some residents were so high that they had to choose between warmth or food, two basic necessities.
In order to determine what went wrong, the report was constructed by Stuart Hodkinson who is part of the (University of Leeds) and Ruth London from the ‘Fuel poverty action’, they believe heat outages had happened on 48 separate occasions. Edward Connell, suffered from dementia and was elderly, he was struggling to cope with the cost of the bills, as they were too high. In October he died from a heart failure and to shock there was no food in his flat. E.on responded to Mr Connell’s death with "This is clearly a very sad case, but we have no insight into the wider circumstances of his death and the factors which may have led to it”. Jeremy Bungey, is head of the company's heat division, he sent a letter of apology to the residents but did claim that he had urged anyone with problems to contact them previously.
An estimated £320 million has been funded into encourage more heat networks to be built through the UK, as only 200,00 people are dependant on ‘district heating’. The department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, heat networks; "have the potential to reduce heating costs, in some cases by more than 30%". Many customers have claimed that there has been no price decrease and in fact a traditional boiler has been found to be cheaper. The government hopes that 18-20% of the population will be using these new heat networks by 2020.
The purpose of a general election is to provide freedom of choice to the public on what party they feel should run the country. It is important to register at your constituency to be qualified to take part in voting. Each person is allowed to vote for one MP, who represents their party and the overall party with the most votes has their party leader as prime minister undertaken by the Queen. There are a few essential requirements needed to be able to vote: a British citizen, over 18 and you need to be registered to vote. Certain qualifying commonwealth states such as Ireland are allowed to vote, if the person if over 18. If you are away from home/overseas during the general election, you are able to vote online, if you have registered to vote in the past 15 years. By going to the Electoral Commissioner's website ‘http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/our-work/who-we-are/the-commissioners’, you are able to check if you are registered to vote; if not feel free to register on the governmental website with a printable form attached.
The next general election has been called on 8th June by Theresa May the UK prime minister. It is believed she is holding the election to able to focus more on brexit negotiations, she is already fully aware that other parties such as: labour, SNP and the Lib Dem’s will take their shoot to delay the negotiations. Fortunately, she stands in high popularity, as votes from April show: the conservatives are leading by 43%, labour by 25%, Lib Dems with 10%, UKIP at 11% and the green party following on with 4%. However, in previous elections such as in 2015, the polls have proven to be incorrect, so take caution on predictions until the official result. Throughout her time as PM, she has successfully helped to reduce the forever growing deficit and backed plans for more grammar schools.
Normally, the next general election would have been hold in 2020, more precisely on the first Thursday in May, by the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act. However over two-thirds of MP’s voted for another general election, 522 votes: 2 votes, which May has accepted. Jeremy Corbyn commented on May’s choice, ‘chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first’. Another term of reference is ‘snap election’ and the last time this happened was by Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1966 whose purpose was to increase Labour MP’s in parliament. Currently, the next election is now due for 2022, but this could change any time if ⅔ of MP’s chose otherwise. Campaigning for the election is most likely to start anytime soon as parliament will be breaking up on the 3rd May. It is expected that Labour’s manifesto will be released in the next two weeks, whereas Labour may be the second week in May. As of recently chancellor George Osborne will be leaving Westminster ‘for now’, followed by Labour’s Alan Johnson and 12 other various party members. At the moment the conservatives hold 330 seats in Parliament, Labour has 229, the SNP have 54 and the Liberal Democrats hold 9. As for now, the outcome of the election is far from certain, with Labour even announcing that if elected, they will introduce 4 new bank holidays into the public calendar.
SATs are tests undertaken by young pupils in primary school, as part of the national curriculum. As of recently, the national union of teachers have expressed a strong appeal on the detrimental effects these tests are having on pupils, who are only around eleven years of age. The idea of segregating children based on their ability is seen as simply unfair; due to the fact they are arguably still kids and are slowly grasping onto their own learning pathway. The tests have even been remarked as “the monster stalking our schools”, which emphasises how the tests act as a huge burden not only on the student but also the teacher, who is more than familiar with the effects it is having on their pupils. A recent conference at the National Union of Teachers supported a proposal to boycott sats, with a debate expected the following Monday.
A former teacher from Lancaster, Ms Collingwood, has had a first-hand experience on the effect these tests have had on her pupils with many even crying, due to an increase in hardness of the test which led to 47% on pupils failing. The emotional effect is simply unacceptable and high stress levels especially at such a young age can easily be linked to mental illnesses such as depression later on in life. She personally believed that the National Union of Teachers needed “to bring down the whole stinking edifice”, of the sats. Jessica Edwards, who believes sats need to be abolished, commented that; “sats in our schools is damaging to children and their education, damaging to the self-esteem and mental health and all the things that they need to succeed as they go through their education”. Further on she mentioned, “we all know that last year’s tests were the worst they ever had”… “They saw huge numbers of our children not ‘failing’ as they were labelled but being failed by the assessments that they undertook”.
The government has taken thought into scrapping sats but if any action is undertaken it won’t be until 2020, leaving the miserable burden on-going for over 3 years. The Department for Education believes that tests should not cause stress upon pupils but it is important that parents are aware if their children are leaving primary school with adequate scores in English and maths. To clarify the uncertainty a spokeswomen from the Department for Education addressed that; “We want a long-term, stable and proportionate system for primary assessment that measures the progress that children make throughout their time at primary school fairly and accurately, one that recognises teachers' professionalism in assessing their pupils and which does not impose a disproportionate burden”. She also commented, "We have worked with the teaching profession on how best to establish this and we are currently consulting on a number of proposals."
The National Union of Teacher’s secretary, Kevin Courtney claimed that teachers had marked the system as ‘broken’ and have only been waiting until the time it ended. "Primary education should be a time in children's lives when they develop a love of learning, not a fear and dread of failure. He then commented; "Drilling within a narrow set of disciplines and expectations is taking the joy out of learning and much of it is of questionable educational value”…"Children are being put under unnecessary stress and teachers' workload is heavily impacted upon”. Whilst it is important to consolidate a pupil’s knowledge through tests it is just as important the mental well-being of the child is not put under enormous amount of pressure especially at such a very young age.
On Thursday 30th March, the watchdog agency accidently leaked personal data of 3,000 MP’s staff and salaries. The independent parliamentary standards authority claimed that the data consisted of the names, working/holiday schedules of each staff affected and luckily more sensitive personal information such as: phone numbers, addresses and bank account details were kept safe and not leaked. The IPSA also said the “extremely sensitive” information of staff working for 650 of Parliaments MP’s, was only left on the old website for approximately four hours. Watchdog had announced that they took down the information within an hour of being alerted by Karl McCartney (conservative MP) and apologised just after an enquiry was launched, classing the incident as ‘serious’, as they are unsure how it occurred. They also established that they would not publish details of MP’s travel plans due to the incident that occurred at Westminster, the previous week. The death of PC Keith Palmer has encouraged police to strengthen their security, especially through preventing any threats of cyber-attacks. At the current moment it is unclear who was behind the leakage or if a group had worked together to obtain the data, but all will be revealed after the investigation.
Marcial Boo, who is the chief executive of watchdog, sent a personal email to each MP proclaiming that, “some documents were published in error”. Further on he elaborated that; “These should not have been made public as they contained confidential personal information about MP’s staff names, salaries, rewards, working patterns and holiday entitlements”. Also adding; “"We take information security very seriously and the safety and security of MPs and their staff is a priority. An investigation is currently underway and we have notified the Information Commissioner”…"We will be writing directly to all of those affected”. It is yet unclear whether the MP’s affected have forgiven the accident.
After the data had been released, certain MP’s believed it was “hugely embarrassing”, due to the fact certain employers were employing their wives and children, paying them for work which was not even undertaken. In fact, Francois Fillion who is the French presidential candidate was under investigations after allegedly paying his family thousands of euros for work which was simply not done. It is believed that approximately a ¼ of MP’s employ a “connected party”, robbing £3.6 million from taxpayers. Mr McCartney remarked that the perpetrator “really needs some IT training before their next job”, as for instance one MP was classified as ‘100% disabled’.
Record number of patients are facing longer waits than ever in A&E's as documents leaked recently show the full extent of the winter crisis in the NHS in England. Nearly 25% of patients arriving at A&E had to wait longer than 4 hours. To add on to this, a number of people faced long waits for a bed when A&E staff admitted them into hospital, with more than 18,000 trolley waits of four hours or more. Some 485 of them were longer than 12 hours. These figures are alarming to us, so what exactly can be done to tackle this issue?
Well, the department of education recently have proposed a 25% increase in junior medical student to help more homegrown doctors work in the department. However, the NHS is short on money, so the wages issue must be tackled also. Furthermore, the NHS have offered paramedics a £10,000 bonus to tackle the 999 crisis, keeping ambulances arriving on time to the patients in need of assistance.
Much criticism has been targeted at the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, whose tax budget has helped build up Brexit reserves, and not tackle the NHS crisis. With many doctors urgently calling for additional funding to aid them, the government is struggling to cope with the demands. With junior doctor salaries at their lowest ever, students are drifting away from choosing medicine.
There has also been many people campaigning about the treatment of nurses and staff within hospitals, with the average hours worked in a day increased in the last 4 years. People believed the overworked nurses are more likely to perform mistakes and are not being paid enough for what they do. The hospitals and surgeries are having problems with staffing, with increased pressure and demand on services from an ageing population.
The NHS in West Yorkshire is proposing to reduce its projected £800m deficit by cutting enough hospital beds to fill five wards. Eight billion pounds was pledged in the Conservative 2015 election manifesto and in 2014, George Osborne agreed a further £2bn for frontline services, however campaigners say this is not enough to keep the NHS afloat.
To conclude, the huge financial pressure and problems faced with overspending have left the NHS in no good state, and with the government struggling to cope with the financial issues, doctors may start to stop doing what they do best: save lives.