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Open Mouth Reading Aloud World Championship to be held in London

The first qualifying stage will take place on January 16

“Open your mouth” – this is the name of the championship in reading aloud in Russian, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2021. Amateurs of reading aloud from 200+ cities of Russia and 18 foreign countries take part in the championship. The winners of the qualifying rounds in cities advance to the conference finals. Conference champions – “East”, “Siberia”, “Ural”, “Povolzhye”, “Center”, “South”, “North”, “Moscow” and “Zagranitsa” go to the Superfinal of the Championship, which will be held on Red Square in Moscow …

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t become a big handicap for reading enthusiasts and literature lovers. Last season, the Open Your Mouth reading aloud championship was brought online and hosted over 150 events on the Zoom platform. The Internet has made it possible for hundreds of Russian-speaking people around the world to take part in the project.

The first qualifying round of the conference ABROAD of the World Open Mouth Reading Championship will take place in London, 16 january at 15:30 BST (18:30 Moscow time) in online format. To participate, you need to register at otkroyrot.com/join Age limit – 18+. Participation in the championship is free.

Mikhail Faustov, the founder of the Open Your Mouth Reading Aloud Championship, says: “London is a special city for the championship. I happened to hold the first London Open Mouth in 2018, it was in the Pushkin House. Six months ago, when we were all tired of the pandemic and quarantine, the London match, thanks to the efforts of Rita Baskakova, took place online. Now, in the midst of quarantine, we really wanted to support our friends in the UK. We have long wanted to create something like a separate conference or league for Russian-speaking readers here, so that not only Londoners, but also residents of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow and other British cities take part in Open Roth. And I’m sure we can do it. So this season’s Open Mouth London is just the beginning. “

The organizer of the Open Your Mouth Championship is the Interregional Reading Federation Association, the official partners of the 2020-2021 season are the Russian online library MyBook and the online store Myshop.ru. Media partners: Gorky-Media and the Year of Literature. The GlobalSiberia project is also a partner of the championship.

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Influencers and Love Island stars ‘are inundated with abuse’ for going on holiday

Influencers including Love Island stars have been ‘inundated with abuse’ for going on holiday during the coronavirus pandemic – as Britons scramble to get home before the UK’s new testing regime begins. 

Downing Street yesterday confirmed that all international arrivals to England, including UK citizens, will now be required to present a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before their departure. 

However, scientists have warned that cases of the virus could be missed at the border if the Government allows travellers to choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests to prove they are Covid-free. 

The new rule, which will come into force ‘next Wednesday or Thursday’, means around 100,000 Britons who are currently abroad will need to find Covid tests overseas before returning home.

Pictured: Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury in Dubai last month, there is no suggestion they are the reality stars referenced as receiving ‘death threats’

Influencers including Love Island stars have been 'inundated with abuse' for going on holiday during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: Maura Higgins seen in Dubai in December

Influencers including Love Island stars have been ‘inundated with abuse’ for going on holiday during the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: Maura Higgins seen in Dubai in December

Those who do not won’t be permitted to travel, or will face a £500 fine on arrival. It is unclear whether those who arrive without a test will then forced into quarantine. 

Celebrities have been heavily criticised on social media for travelling over the festive period, with one agent claiming an unidentified star received ‘death threats in [their] direct messages’ following a recent trip to Dubai.

‘It’s been relentless,’ they told the Mirror. ‘We warned them not to travel abroad while a lot of the nation is under severe restrictions as it’s a terrible look, but they ignored it.’  

Pictured: Love Island star Laura Anderson is among those who travelled to Dubai in December

Pictured: Love Island star Laura Anderson is among those who travelled to Dubai in December

Pictured: Love Island star Kady McDermott in Dubai on Friday, ahead of the change in rules

Pictured: Love Island star Kady McDermott in Dubai on Friday, ahead of the change in rules

DUBAI: The celebrities who have visited the UAE during Covid crisis 

LOVE ISLAND  

Georgia Steel, Kaz Crossley, Joanna Chimonides, Francesca Allen, Amber Gill, Malin Andersson, Theo Campbell, Molly-Mae Hague, Tommy Fury, Maura Higgins, Chris Taylor, Amber Davies, Elle Brown, Laura Anderson, Hayley Hughes, Jess and Eve Gale, Arabella Chi, Demi Jones and Wes Nelson

TOWIE 

Amber Turner, Dan Edgar, Yazmin Oukhellou, James Lock, Demi Sims, Kelsey Stratford and Ella Rae Wise

GEORDIE SHORE 

Chloe Ferry, Bethan Kershaw and Sophie Kasaei 

SPORTS STARS 

Amir Khan and Faryal Makhdoom, Peter Crouch and Abbey Clancy  

The source added that ‘work’ for influencers consists of ‘doing vlogs’ and ‘advertising diet drinks’, which allows the stars to travel in return for publicity.

They added: ‘But it has gone down like a lead balloon with their fans, and you have to wonder if it is really worth it.’  

Love Island stars are among those who have travelled to the United Arab Emirates in recent months, with some jetting off while parts of the UK remained in strict Tier 3 and Tier 4 lockdown.

However, others departed from areas under Tier 2 lockdown in December, when international travel was permitted.  

Before the third lockdown began, Love Islanders including Laura Anderson, Molly-Mae Hague, Maura Higgins, Amber Davies, Georgia Harrison and Kady McDermott, were all pictured in Dubai. 

Although some have since returned to the UK, the likes of Anderson, McDermott and Harrison are understood to still remain in the United Arab Emirates.

The desert city has been an ideal choice for many as visitors aren’t currently required to quarantine upon their return to the UK.

Many stars have insisted their trips are for ‘work’, as the Government currently asks UK residents to avoid any non-essential travel. 

Many influencers have been forced to defend their actions to angry fans on social media after they were criticised for globetrotting during the pandemic, with the UK recording upwards of 68,000 Covid cases yesterday. 

Pictured: Georgia Harrison in Dubai on Friday. There is no suggestion she is the reality star referenced

Pictured: Georgia Harrison in Dubai on Friday. There is no suggestion she is the reality star referenced

In December, Molly-Mae Hague, 21, who flew to the Maldives following a break in Dubai with Tommy Fury, insisted she didn't break any rules, as the couple left their Manchester home under Tier 2 restrictions

In December, Molly-Mae Hague, 21, who flew to the Maldives following a break in Dubai with Tommy Fury, insisted she didn’t break any rules, as the couple left their Manchester home under Tier 2 restrictions 

HOW LATERAL FLOW TESTS ARE ONLY TRUSTWORTHY WHEN ADMINISTERED BY TRAINED STAFF

Lateral flow tests are only accurate at diagnosing coronavirus when administered by trained professionals, studies have repeatedly shown. 

The tests, which give results in as little as 15 minutes, use swabs of the nose or throat. Samples are then mixed in a testing liquid and put into a plastic cassette which can detect the presence or absence of coronavirus and then produce an image of a line, the same way as a pregnancy test, to indicate whether it is positive or negative.

The Department of Health and NHS are instructing people to use the tests on themselves, despite manufacturers of some kits saying they shouldn’t be used as DIY swabs.

Both the swabbing procedure and the use of the test cassette can easily be done wrong and affect the accuracy of the test. 

If the swab isn’t done for long enough, or deep enough into the nose or throat, it may not pick up fragments of virus. Medical professionals are also able to use nasopharyngeal swabs, which go right to the back of the nostril, whereas this is not advised for people who test themselves.

And if the sample isn’t properly inserted into the cassette the result might be wrong, or people may misread the display when it produces a result. 

SELF-TESTING CUT ACCURACY FROM 79% TO 58%

A University of Oxford and Public Health England evaluation of the Innova lateral flow test, which is being widely used in the UK, found its sensitivity – the proportion of positive cases it detected – fell from 79 per cent to 58 per cent when it was used by untrained members of the public instead of lab experts. 

Based on this evaluation, officials pushed ahead and used it for a real-world self-testing trial.

PILOT IN LIVERPOOL FOUND FEWER THAN HALF OF POSITIVES

When the same Innova test was trialled on members of the public in Liverpool – with people taking their own swabs and trained military staff operating the tests – the swabs picked up just 40 per cent of positive cases.

In the study the rapid tests detected 891 positive results, compared to lab-based PCR swabs that found 2,829 positives in the same group. This means 1,938 people got a wrong negative result from the rapid test.

The study didn’t compare this to professionally done rapid tests, but the manufacturer Innova claims its test is 95 per cent sensitive in lab conditions. 

…BUT TESTING DONE BY MEDICS IN SLOVAKIA ‘REDUCED INFECTIONS’ 

Despite rapid lateral flow tests getting bad press, officials in Slovakia used them on 5.2million people – almost the entire population of 5.5m – in a trial that a study later estimated to have cut the country’s infection rate by 60 per cent.

The tests used were between 70 and 90 per cent accurate and all the swabs and evaluations were carried out by trained medical workers. They used deep nasopharyngeal swabs, that go to the back of the nose, whereas self-testing generally relies on a swab of only the nostril.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine researchers said that the scheme successfully weeded out coronavirus cases that wouldn’t have been found otherwise, slashing the number of cases by over half in a week during a lockdown. 

HOW RAPID TESTS ARE DIFFERENT TO LAB-BASED PCR SWABS 

Lateral flow tests are an alternative to the gold standard PCR test – known scientifically as polymerase chain reaction testing – which is more expensive and more labour-intensive but more accurate.

PCR tests also use a swab but this is then processed using high-tech laboratory equipment to analyse the genetic sequence of the sample to see if any of it matches the genes of coronavirus.

This is a much more long-winded and expensive process, involving multiple types of trained staff, and the analysis process can take hours, with the whole process from swab to someone receiving their result taking days.

It is significantly more accurate, however. In ideal conditions the tests are almost 100 per cent accurate at spotting the virus, although this may be more like 70 per cent in the real world. 

In December, Molly-Mae Hague, 21, who flew to the Maldives following a break in Dubai with Tommy Fury, insisted she didn’t break any rules, as the couple left their Manchester home under Tier 2 restrictions.        

She said: ‘In response to the messages I’m already getting about us being away throughout this time… 

‘Please understand that Tommy and I left the UK from Cheshire which was in Tier 2 at the time. We didn’t break any rules coming away.

‘If we knew these rules were going to be put in place then obviously we would have never left the UK. 

‘The minute we arrive home we will be following government guidelines.’ 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday confirmed nobody will be able to depart for Britain by plane, train or ferry unless they present a ‘recognised’ test result at check-in along with a valid passport and visa if required. 

However, the measure has already sparked concern due to the Government’s decision to let travellers choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests to prove they are not carrying the virus.

PCR tests can take longer because they are sent off to a lab to check for Covid, with some critics saying 72 hours could be too tight. 

Rapid ‘lateral flow’ tests can be turned around in minutes, but missed cases and false positives are more common.

The difference had led some to worry that Covid-positive travellers could present a negative test at the border to gain entry to Britain. 

Professor Jon Deeks, a testing expert at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘The lateral flow test, we know, is not very sensitive so it will miss cases and it isn’t suitable.’

He added: ‘Other countries are using PCR and I would be concerned if we didn’t. There are alternatives, but we need something with similar accuracy to PCR.’

Dr Alex Edwards, a pharmacy researcher at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘Given that this is a screening programme particularly for asymptomatic people, you want the most sensitive tests available, and PCR tests are the most sensitive available.

‘But even different manufacturers have varying levels of accuracy and not everyone is positive if they’re infected, which can cause enormous problems.

‘I think the problem is that, in general, the lateral flow tests are almost always less sensitive. If you have a really good PCR tests you might catch 80 per cent of people so you can reduce the number cases coming in five-fold.

‘We’ve seen huge variations in accuracy [of lateral flow]. Accuracy is always compared to PCR and when they were used in the real world, for example the study in Liverpool, it showed it was only capable of picking up half of the PCR cases, and that’s half of 80 per cent, so you can’t even reduce the number of people coming in by two-fold.’ 

Mr Shapps told the BBC: ‘They can be different types of tests – your viewers will have heard of PCR tests perhaps, but there are also lateral flow tests and lab tests.

‘The important thing is that it is up to a certain specification. Then people take that test and as long as it is negative, then they can fly. But they can’t board the plan for example without having that negative test.’ 

The Transport Secretary’s diktat forcing travellers to present a negative covid test before travelling to the UK will ground almost all flights to and from Britain until the summer and further lay waste to the aviation industry, Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary warned on Friday.

The outspoken Irish billionaire said Mr Shapps’ management of the coronavirus crisis has been ‘shambolic’ and believes the policy is tacit confirmation the Prime Minister is lying to the British people about how quickly Britons will be vaccinated.

Mr O’Leary said: ‘This is more mismanagement by Grant Shapps. This new rule is going to ground almost all flights to and from the UK. Nobody is going to make any bookings because you cannot book with any certainty. The other problem we have is there is no end date. 

‘Boris Johnson is going around saying he’ll have all the four main risk groups vaccinated by mid-February – so why aren’t they ending this rule then. Otherwise Boris Johnson is lying to the UK or Grant Shapps is’. 

Businesss leaders also believe the plan will further damage Britain’s travel industry with boss of Heathrow, John Holland-Kaye, warning: ‘Very few people will travel with this in place’.  

Amanda Holden yesterday slammed the policy after cancelling her family’s holiday on Boxing Day because of Tier 4 regulations. 

Sharing a beach bikini picture on Instagram the star slammed a ‘senseless year of neglect of Government rules at our borders’ and the ‘lack of common sense’ by ministers. 

She said: ‘Other countries have done it before us. Why has it taken us so long? No one seems to have an answer… or be questioning it?!! Surely this could have prevented the increase of the spread?!!!’ 

Fellow star Jessica Wright replied saying: ‘Cancelled mine too for Boxing Day & couldn’t agree more, in disbelief over it all’ while actress Tracy Ann Oberman also backed her rant with some clapping emojis.

Passengers on planes, boats or trains will be banned from entering the UK next week if they do not have a negative test within 72 hours of departure.

All travellers will require a ‘passenger locator form’ and face a £500 fine if they fail to comply. Children under 11 will be exempt as will hauliers.    

Covid cases will be ‘MISSED’ at UK border: Scientists warn of rise in infections over government allowing arrivals to choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests 

Coronavirus cases could be missed at Britain’s border following the government’s decision to let travellers choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests to prove they’re Covid-free, scientists have warned.  

Those arriving in the UK will be able to present negative PCR or lateral flow Covid tests as proof that they do not have coronavirus. 

Grant Shapps has said nobody will be able to depart for Britain by plane, train or ferry unless they present a ‘recognised’ test result at check-in along with a valid passport and visa if required. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also adopt the measure.  

PCR tests can take longer because they are sent off to a lab to check for Covid, with some critics saying 72 hours could be too tight. Rapid ‘lateral flow’ tests can be turned around in minutes, but missed cases and false positives are more common.

Those arriving in the UK will be able to present negative PCR or lateral flow Covid tests as proof that they do not have coronavirus. Pictured: January 8, Heathrow

Those arriving in the UK will be able to present negative PCR or lateral flow Covid tests as proof that they do not have coronavirus. Pictured: January 8, Heathrow

It is expected to cause a scramble for return flights as around 100,000 Brits are currently away in hotspots such as Dubai and the Maldives. Pictured: Heathrow last month

It is expected to cause a scramble for return flights as around 100,000 Brits are currently away in hotspots such as Dubai and the Maldives. Pictured: Heathrow last month

The difference has sparked concerns that Covid-positive travellers could present a negative test at the border to gain entry to Britain.  

Professor Jon Deeks, a testing expert at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘The lateral flow test, we know, is not very sensitive so it will miss cases and it isn’t suitable.’

He added: ‘Other countries are using PCR and I would be concerned if we didn’t. There are alternatives, but we need something with similar accuracy to PCR.’

Dr Alex Edwards, a pharmacy researcher at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘Given that this is a screening programme particularly for asymptomatic people, you want the most sensitive tests available, and PCR tests are the most sensitive available.

There are concerns in the travel industry some will be stuck on holiday because many destinations do not have facilities for carrying out tests. Pictured: A man being tested at Heathrow

There are concerns in the travel industry some will be stuck on holiday because many destinations do not have facilities for carrying out tests. Pictured: A man being tested at Heathrow

‘But even different manufacturers have varying levels of accuracy and not everyone is positive if they’re infected, which can cause enormous problems.

‘I think the problem is that, in general, the lateral flow tests are almost always less sensitive. If you have a really good PCR tests you might catch 80 per cent of people so you can reduce the number cases coming in five-fold.

‘We’ve seen huge variations in accuracy [of lateral flow]. Accuracy is always compared to PCR and when they were used in the real world, for example the study in Liverpool, it showed it was only capable of picking up half of the PCR cases, and that’s half of 80 per cent, so you can’t even reduce the number of people coming in by two-fold.’

Dr Edwards added that using lateral flow tests would prevent scientists from being able to detect or monitor new strains being brought into the country from abroad. 

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Boris Johnson begs families to stay home and Chris Whitty appears in TV ad as part of new campaign

Boris Johnson last night begged families to stay at home as the Covid-19 death toll hit a grim new record – with the Government launching a new campaign blitz to scare people into obeying lockdown rules.

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has appeared in adverts urging us to stay at home as the new variant of the virus rips across the country.

Two terrifying new posters also show a patient dying in hospital and a healthcare worker wearing full PPE, warning Britons: ‘If you go out, you can spread it. People will die.’

Mr Johnson said that infections were rising at an alarming rate, despite the new national lockdown imposed at the start of the week.

And he warned the only way to prevent thousands more deaths was to follow the rules. The Prime Minister said: ‘I know the last year has taken its toll.

‘But your compliance is now more vital than ever. Once again, I must urge everyone to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.’

Another 1,325 Covid deaths were reported on Friday – nearly one a minute – and more than the peak of 1,224 in the first wave last April.

The grisly death toll – which has doubled in a week – takes the UK to the brink of almost 80,000 victims. 

Experts fear the daily death counts will continue to spiral because of rocketing cases and hospitalisations, piling further pressure on Boris Johnson to speed up the sluggish vaccination programme designed to start getting  Britain out of lockdown by mid-February.

Department of Health figures show the UK has recorded more than 50,000 cases for 11 days in a row, with the five worst days of the pandemic all occurring since the start of 2021. Cases have risen by almost 30 per cent week-on-week.

But a senior SAGE official today warned the actual number of Britons currently getting infected every day is closer to 150,000, claiming that the size of the second wave is now way worse than the first. 

The source also fears England’s third national lockdown will not ‘slam the R rate down as it did in March’ because the country was dealing with a more infectious mutated strain and because adherence to the rules has dwindled. 

 No10’s advisory panel revealed that the R rate could be as high as 1.4 across the seven regions of England.

Amid calls for even tougher restrictions, ministers are considering making face masks mandatory in busy outdoor locations, such as supermarket queues.

As London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident, saying the virus was ‘out of control’ and threatening to overwhelm hospitals in the capital:

  • Confirmed coronavirus infections hit a record high of 68,053;
  • One in every 15 people in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham may have the virus, according to an official survey;
  • A new highly infectious variant now makes up 81 per cent of cases in the capital;
  • Senior officials warned its virulence meant the current lockdown was likely to be less effective at curbing the virus than the first;
  • More hospitals cancelled other treatments, even cancer operations;
  • Police were put on standby to drive ambulances in London;
  • Constabularies launched a crackdown on lockdown-breakers;
  • A study suggested the Pfizer vaccine works against the new strain;
  • UK regulators approved a third vaccine but it will not be available until spring;
  • Vaccine tsar Kate Bingham vowed the target to inoculate the 13million most vulnerable by February 15 would be met.

Everyone in England is being urged to stay at home and ‘act like you’ve got it’ as part of a major advertising campaign. including posters (pictured) encouraging the public to control the spread of the virus and protect the NHS and save lives

A commuter wears a facemask as he sits in a bus shelter with signage promoting "Stay Home, Save Lives" in central London

A commuter wears a facemask as he sits in a bus shelter with signage promoting ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ in central London

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a plea to families and begged them to stay home to save lives as the UK recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic began today and the NHS launches a new ad campaign fronted by Chris Whitty

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a plea to families and begged them to stay home to save lives as the UK recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic began today and the NHS launches a new ad campaign fronted by Chris Whitty

Health chief warns London faces ‘biggest threat’ of pandemic so far 

London is facing the biggest threat of the pandemic so far as the NHS buckles under the strain of coronavirus cases, experts warned today as a major incident was declared in the capital. The city is one of the main hotspots of the latest wave of the virus which saw deaths reach a record high today, with its spread now ‘out of control’ in the metropolitan area.

Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that more than 1 per cent of the city’s nine million residents tested positive for Covid last week, with one in 30 residents currently estimated to be infected. In the worst-hit boroughs, it is feared the rate is as high as one in 20 and startling figures also show that hospital admissions rose by a quarter in the first week of January.

More than 7,000 NHS beds across the capital are currently occupied by Covid patients – 35 per cent higher than the busiest day of the pandemic in the spring.

The hard-hitting ad campaign was launched on TV last night, fronted by Chief Medical Officer Professor Whitty. He said that while vaccines provided ‘clear hope for the future… for now we must all stay at home’.

Professor Whitty, who is the most trusted government figure on Covid, said the rapid spread of the virus was putting ‘many people at risk of serious disease and is placing a lot of pressure on our NHS’.

Dramatic images will carry the stark message: ‘Coronavirus. If you go out, you can spread it. People will die.’

Prof Whitty says: ‘Covid-19, especially the new variant, is spreading quickly across the country. This puts many people at risk of serious disease and is placing a lot of pressure on our NHS.

‘Once more, we must all stay home. If it’s essential to go out, remember: wash your hands, cover your face indoors and keep your distance from others.

‘Vaccines give clear hope for the future, but for now we must all stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.’ The campaign also urges people to ‘act like you’ve got it’ adding that ‘anyone can spread it’.

England is now in its toughest and longest lockdown since last spring and may not emerge from it until all the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated against Covid-19. 

The Prime Minister has called in the Army to ramp up Britain’s vaccination roll out, which offers the only glimmer of hope for ending lockdowns. The sluggish programme has been dogged by staffing and supply issues and bureaucratic barriers that have strangled it in the early stages.

It comes as police were accused of cracking the lockdown whip too hard after a force threatened to fine people £200 for playing in the snow – while elsewhere officers swooped on two friends for driving just seven miles to go for a walk at a beauty spot. 

And No 10 fears that Mr Johnson’s stay-at-home order is being flouted – a suspicion backed up by figures from Transport for London.

Passenger levels on the Underground were running at 18 per cent yesterday, compared with just 5 per cent last April. Bus use is at 30 per cent of capacity, compared with around 18 per cent in the first lockdown.

And traffic levels on main roads in the capital were at 76 per cent of normal compared with 30-40 per cent nine months ago.

Apple Mobility Trends shows driving down by 44 per cent, walking down by 62 per cent and transit down by 68 per cent in London

Apple Mobility Trends shows driving down by 44 per cent, walking down by 62 per cent and transit down by 68 per cent in London 

Tom Tom figures also has commuters driving into work at rush hour as remaining steady at just 25 per cent

Tom Tom figures also has commuters driving into work at rush hour as remaining steady at just 25 per cent

Most seats were taken up at Canada Water on the Jubilee Line heading into the city centre and some people had to stand

Most seats were taken up at Canada Water on the Jubilee Line heading into the city centre and some people had to stand

Pictured is driving, walking and transit data from Apple Mobility for the capital over the course of the last year

Pictured is driving, walking and transit data from Apple Mobility for the capital over the course of the last year

Pupils swab themselves while a nurse watches on

Pupils have been swabbing themselves as school nurses watch on despite proof rapid tests only work if they are administered properly. Students at Oasis Academy in Coulsdon, Surrey, were sent the kits on Monday and given instructions by nurses on how to carry out the tests themselves.

Only vulnerable children or those whose parents are key workers are allowed to attend lessons in person during the latest national lockdown. It comes as figures suggest schools could still be attended by up to 20 per cent of pupils. But children are now being supervised by nurses, similar to how some walk-in testing centres are run, rather than having a nurse carry out the tests themselves.

The idea is that fewer medical experts or volunteers are needed allowing a larger number of people to be test more quickly. But multiple studies show lateral flow tests – when self-administered – could miss cases, due to the force and depth needed to collect a sample. It comes as calls to limit the number of children in school is growing, with attendance levels surging to more than 50 per cent in some areas.

The major incident declared by Mr Khan yesterday is a procedure previously invoked following the Grenfell Tower disaster and major terrorist attacks.

The mayor called for the closure of places of worship and for face masks to be worn routinely outside the home. Downing Street sources said there were ‘no more new lockdown measures on the way’.

But the Mail understands that Health Secretary Matt Hancock and other ministers have been examining the case to extend the use of masks.

Mr Khan said the situation in the capital was dire, with an estimated one in every 50 Londoners infected. ‘It’s like being in a theatre of war,’ he said. ‘Unless we reduce the spread, the NHS will run out of beds.’

City Hall said Covid cases in the capital had exceeded 1,000 per 100,000 and there were 35 per cent more hospital admissions with the virus than last April.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s regional director for London, said: ‘This is the biggest threat our city has faced in this pandemic to date.

‘The emergence of the new variant means we are setting record case rates at almost double the national average, with at least one in 30 people (in London) now thought to be carrying the virus.

‘Our NHS services are under immense pressure and currently another 800 people are being admitted to our hospitals every day.’

The London Ambulance Service is taking up to 8,000 emergency calls a day and at one east London hospital patients were apparently waiting 24 hours for a bed after arriving at A&E.

NHS London said a record 977 patients were admitted to hospitals over 24 hours.

Cases per day in London

Cases per day in London

People being hospitalised in London

People being hospitalised in London 

Coronavirus deaths in London

Coronavirus deaths in London

He said that over the last three days alone the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive test for Covid-19 (Piccadilly Circus pictured today)

He said that over the last three days alone the NHS has announced 477 deaths in London hospitals following a positive test for Covid-19 (Piccadilly Circus pictured today)

Nurse catches Covid three weeks AFTER getting vaccine as expert warns it takes time for immunity to build up

A nurse in Wales caught coronavirus three weeks after getting the vaccine, prompting experts to warn that it takes time for immunity to the virus to build up.

The nurse, who has been working for the Hywel Dda University Health Board area, said that she contracted Covid-19 while waiting for the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech developed vaccine.

While the vaccine ‘reduces your chance of suffering,’ the health board said, ‘no vaccine is 100 percent effective.’

Experts have warned that vaccines can take weeks to build immunity, and that people must still be careful to follow coronavirus rules after having the jab.

Speaking to the BBC, the nurse – who chose not to be identified – said she was ‘angry and heartbroken’ to have caught Covid at this stage.

She said that she was initially relieved to be offered the chance to be given the vaccine, and while she struggled to get an appointment, she was given her first dose of the Pzizer-BioNtech vaccine in December last year.

‘It gave me peace of mind. It made me feel safer and that I was doing the right thing for my family… but it gives a false sense of security,’ she told the broadcaster.

The nurse said that it was explained to her that it would take 10 days for the vaccine to offer some protection against Covic-19, and reduce the risk of transmission.

But three weeks after being given the jab, she said she began to feel unwell, suffering from ‘quite severe symptoms’ of a bad cough, high temperature and breathlessness, and was ‘shocked’ when she tested positive for the coronavirus – followed by her partner and one of her children.

Vaccinations have been shown to prevent severe infection, so even if people do become infected, they would be protected from becoming seriously unwell. 

The virus is also spreading rapidly outside the capital. Six out of ten hospitals in England are now reporting more Covid patients than in the first wave – a situation doctors say is ‘cataclysmic’.

Fewer than 500 were in hospital at the start of September but yesterday the figure stood at 28,246. That is an increase of more than 11,000 in a fortnight.

A doctor from Merseyside said her hospital is ‘almost at the limit’ with patients having to wait in corridors or ambulances.

Scientists advising the Government believe the current lockdown may lead to a plateau of cases across the UK rather than the dramatic cut seen in the March and April lockdown.

They estimate there are currently more than 100,000 new infections per day and possibly higher than 150,000.

They believe this estimate puts the current number of daily cases at a higher level than during the first wave of the pandemic. Hospitals are now seeing far more younger people than during the first wave.

There are also mounting fears about the knock-on effects on wider public health.

Experts expect there to be thousands of deaths as a result of disruption to cancer surgery in this wave, with some patients having vital operations cancelled even while they were heading to hospital.

Campaign group Catch up with Cancer: ‘If you have got Covid you can have a bed, but if you’ve got cancer you can’t have an operation. These cancer patients are dying at home and will be for the next five years.’

But there was an extra glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel as a third vaccine in the fight against coronavirus was approved for use in the UK on Friday.

The jab, from US biotech firm Moderna, has been given the green light by the MHRA – joining the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.

The approval of the Moderna vaccine means the UK should have three vaccines to use when it comes on stream in spring.

The Government has increased its order of the vaccine to 17 million doses – enough to vaccinate 8.5 million people – with batches expected to be released in phases.

It has been shown to be 94 per cent effective against Covid-19 in clinical trials. Mr Johnson tweeted: ‘Excellent news the @MHRAgovuk has approved the use of the @moderna-tx vaccine.

‘Our national vaccine effort is accelerating to vaccinate priority groups with our existing two vaccines, and the Moderna doses will add to that when they become available in spring.’

The Office for National Statistics found in its mass testing programme that almost two thirds (61 per cent) of the positive tests it found in England appeared to be linked to the new variant of the virus. The figure was higher for some regions - particularly in London and the South - but lower in others

The Office for National Statistics found in its mass testing programme that almost two thirds (61 per cent) of the positive tests it found in England appeared to be linked to the new variant of the virus. The figure was higher for some regions – particularly in London and the South – but lower in others

 

Positive cases appeared to be starting to fall or level off in London, the East and South East of England in this week's ONS data, which Professor Christ Whitty picked up on in a press briefing earlier this week

Positive cases appeared to be starting to fall or level off in London, the East and South East of England in this week’s ONS data, which Professor Christ Whitty picked up on in a press briefing earlier this week

The new variant of coronavirus (blue line) has become the dominant strain in England but is not yet more common than other types of the virus in the UK's other countries, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, ONS testing shows

The new variant of coronavirus (blue line) has become the dominant strain in England but is not yet more common than other types of the virus in the UK’s other countries, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, ONS testing shows

The Kent variant of the virus (blue line) has become dominant in London, the East of England and the South East, but not yet in other parts of the country, although it is narrowing the gap in most places

The Kent variant of the virus (blue line) has become dominant in London, the East of England and the South East, but not yet in other parts of the country, although it is narrowing the gap in most places

A graph presented by Professor Chris Whitty this week showed that the number of people testing positive for the new variant of coronavirus (blue line) appeared to start coming down in London and the South East towards the end of December, although it has risen in other regions

A graph presented by Professor Chris Whitty this week showed that the number of people testing positive for the new variant of coronavirus (blue line) appeared to start coming down in London and the South East towards the end of December, although it has risen in other regions

The Covid Symptom Study, which uses reports from around one million people who have the app on their phones, showed that cases have been surging non-stop since the effects of England's second lockdown wore off in early December

The Covid Symptom Study, which uses reports from around one million people who have the app on their phones, showed that cases have been surging non-stop since the effects of England’s second lockdown wore off in early December

Prince William thanks frontline NHS workers during a video call with staff at Homerton University Hospital

Prince William has paid tribute to NHS staff working on the Covid frontline and thanked them for their continued efforts during a particularly challenging time.

The Duke of Cambridge, 38, spoke to staff from Homerton University Hospital via video call on January 7 to hear more about their experiences responding to the pandemic in recent weeks.

In the past week, Homerton University Hospital has seen their highest number of admissions since the pandemic began, with over 200 Covid patients currently being cared for and staff being moved to new roles within the hospital to cope with the ongoing pressure on frontline staff.

During the call, William heard from staff about the significant challenges that they are currently facing, and how this time compares to their experiences during previous spikes in transmission rates.

He told staff: ‘You’re all in my thoughts and Catherine and I, and all of the children, talk about all of you guys every day.

‘We’re making sure the children understand the sacrifices that all of you are making.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: ‘This is fantastic news and another weapon in our arsenal to tame this awful disease.’

Nearly 1.5 million people in the UK have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines, with the Government aiming to jab 15 million of those most at risk by mid-February.

With the current lockdown and vaccine rollout, deaths from coronavirus are expected to start dropping in February, while hospital admissions should drop.

Coronavirus cases are expected to drop in the spring due to vaccination plus the fact people spend more time outdoors, making it harder for the virus to spread.

Elsewhere, research published on Friday suggests the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech appears to protect against a mutation in two coronavirus variants.

The pharmaceutical giant and researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch carried out lab tests on the strains -from the UK and South Africa.

Both variants contain mutations including N501Y, an alteration in the spike protein of the virus, which is a target for vaccines.

In the study, not yet peer-reviewed, people given the Pfzier jab had neutralising levels of antibodies which appeared to work against N501Y in the new strains.

But one of the mutations in the South Africa variant, named E484K, has not yet been studied and is still causing concern for experts.

While scientists at the top of Government increasingly believe the UK variant can be tacked with existing vaccines, there is concern that the South African variant has the potential to make them less effective, though studies are ongoing.

In future years, it is thought that Covid-19 vaccines will need to be tweaked annually much in the same way the winter flu jab is.

Meanwhile, papers released by the Government from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which advises ministers, suggests communication campaigns will be needed to ensure those who are vaccinated continue to adhere to lockdown rules.

It said there was some evidence that, ‘in the absence of any mitigation policies, some of those who have been vaccinated will show a reduction in personal protective behaviours’ such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

It is not yet known whether vaccination can prevent people passing the virus onto other people.

Problems by the armful… but at last we’re saving lives with Pfizer’s ‘pizza boxes from heaven’: Thousands of phone calls and up to a fifth of patients refusing jabs – one medic reveals the reality behind all the rhetoric

It is the logistical challenge of a lifetime: the roll-out of essential Covid-19 vaccines at a rate that, hopefully, will help free the country from the endless cycles of lockdowns. 

With 1.5 million doses dispensed so far — and the promise of two million a week to come — Louise Kyle, a nursing leader in a large inner-city practice, gives an insight into the gargantuan effort required for just one vaccine ‘hub’ to play its part.   

Mon, December 7

The usual business of a Monday morning is compounded by news that our proposed vaccine ‘hub’ has been given the OK to ‘go live’ in eight days.

We’d volunteered to be an active ‘wave one’ site for the Pfizer jab from the moment we were able. Now, here we were, at the coal face of this history-making exercise.

Louise Kyle, (pictured) a nursing leader in a large inner-city practice, gives an insight into the gargantuan effort required for just one vaccine ‘hub’ to play its part

Louise Kyle, (pictured) a nursing leader in a large inner-city practice, gives an insight into the gargantuan effort required for just one vaccine ‘hub’ to play its part

It’s exciting, but daunting given the huge challenge that lies ahead, the scale of which becomes apparent almost immediately when, within a day of receiving our news, NHS England changes its guidelines to say that all vaccinated patients will have to stay behind for 15 minutes after receiving their jab, in case of an allergic reaction — something that simply isn’t possible in the site we’d prepared, given the need for social distancing.

It means a hasty pivot to a new arrangement, in our case asking our district nurses to vacate their clinical rooms — the best we can do at a week’s notice. Still, it gives us some practice thinking on our feet, which I’m sure, given what lies ahead, will prove useful.

Wed, December 9

With our vaccine site confirmed the focus is on logistics. Given the vaccine’s strict ‘shelf life’ once it comes out of its deep-freeze storage, we have a 90-hour window to vaccinate 1,000 people. That means reaching some 2,000 registered patients in our area who are aged over 80 to get those who wish to take up the offer booked in.

Time constraints mean there’s no time to reach them by post and, given that we can’t rely on the mass-texting system we use to reach younger patients, we have a team of 12 staff across our practices phoning patients solidly from dawn until dusk. I even recruit my 19-year-old son, now at home from university, to help man the lines.

It’s a complex business, not least because English is not the first language for some of our patients, while others are lonely and want to chat for hours.

It’s one reason we give our team a script to stick to. Happily, most patients are only too eager to accept their proffered appointment, but it’s dismaying that one in five of them either decline to have the jab at all, or say they want to wait a bit longer before making their decision.

It is the logistical challenge of a lifetime: the roll-out of essential Covid-19 vaccines. Pictured: Taking delivery of the first batch in its takeaway-style box

It is the logistical challenge of a lifetime: the roll-out of essential Covid-19 vaccines. Pictured: Taking delivery of the first batch in its takeaway-style box

Is Britain’s great Covid vaccine roll-out finally picking up pace? 

Britain’s sluggish coronavirus vaccine roll out may finally be starting to gather steam as pictures emerged today of dozens of elderly residents queuing in the freezing cold to get their jabs, after Boris Johnson brought in the Army to ramp up delivery to 200,000 doses a day by the end of next week.

The pensioners were snapped standing in line outside a vaccination centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, today as they patiently waited to get their first dose.

But many are still yet to be called for an appointment, with 99-year-old RAF veteran Arthur Clark who is classed as extremely vulnerable to Covid because of his age, saying he is still yet to be offered a jab by the NHS despite trying to get a slot since Christmas.

The widower and great-grandfather-of-four told MailOnline from his home in Beckenham, south east London: ‘It’s very annoying, I thought I’d been lost in the system.’ He added: ‘I appreciate it takes a while to get round to everyone, but I would have thought they’d have tried to give people of my age priority.’

And in yet more chaos to the lackluster scheme, a housebound 89-year-old widow was asked to travel 16 miles to a vaccination centre despite being unable to drive. Her daughter claimed the 80-minute journey from her home in rural Harleston, South Norfolk, was out of the question. 

One elderly Briton in her nineties also claims she hasn’t yet been able to get vaccinated because health bosses are going down the list in alphabetical order, instead of age priority. 

It comes as a patients’ rights group warned that some elderly Britons may be missing their Covid jabs because of AWOL reminder letters and text alerts amid reports of people not turning up to get either the Pfizer/BioNTech jab because they were waiting ‘for the English one’.

Fri, December 11

Two days of our first three-day vaccine schedule are now fully booked, with more than 600 patients scheduled to receive a jab on the coming Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving only Thursday to be sorted.

There’s a palpable sense of excitement among the team.

As I go home for a well-earned glass of wine I hope this is the moment that we turn the corner to combat Covid in our area, where it has been running rife.

Along with many of my colleagues, I caught the virus back in March — before the first national lockdown — and though I pulled through fine, it was still a wretched experience. For others, of course, it can be a matter of life or death.

I’ve lost several much-loved patients to this cruel disease over the past months.

Sun, December 13

I spoke too soon! My peaceful Sunday morning is overturned by an email informing us there’s been a 24-hour delay to the vaccine’s arrival. Cue a hasty scramble to get colleagues in to work to contact all of Tuesday’s patients and tell them to come in on Friday instead.

Since many of them had relatives or friends who had taken time off work to bring them in, it’s a major inconvenience, but mercifully most understand it’s not our fault.

Mon, December 14

Our ‘telephone terriers’ hit the phones again to book Thursday’s remaining slots, while I visit a local hospital to see how the vaccine vials arrive and are mixed to ensure the correct dosage.

The answer to the former, I discover, is that they come in what looks strangely like a small pizza box — rather different to the sci-fi cube emitting clouds of dry-ice that I’d half been expecting.

We’re similarly underwhelmed back at base by the arrival of the storage fridge, which we’d all pictured as some futuristic number but, in reality, is like a small under-the-counter affair you might keep your drinks in at home: ‘A G&T or a dose of Pfizer, darling?’ With the delivery of all the aprons, syringes and wipes we’re going to need, things are gearing up, although I’m anxious that with just hours to go until ‘V-Day’ we’re still awaiting the national protocol which allows our healthcare assistants and other junior staff or ‘lay vaccinators’ to help us administer it quickly and safely.

Ralph Evans, 88, receives the vaccine in Merthyr Tydfil. He is among the 1.5million to have been given the NHS jab

Ralph Evans, 88, receives the vaccine in Merthyr Tydfil. He is among the 1.5million to have been given the NHS jab

Scientists warn of rise in infections over government allowing arrivals to choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests to prove they are infection-free

Coronavirus cases could be missed at Britain’s border following the government’s decision to let travellers choose ‘less accurate’ lateral flow tests to prove they’re Covid-free, scientists have warned.  

Those arriving in the UK will be able to present negative PCR or lateral flow Covid tests as proof that they do not have coronavirus. 

Grant Shapps has said nobody will be able to depart for Britain by plane, train or ferry unless they present a ‘recognised’ test result at check-in along with a valid passport and visa if required. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also adopt the measure.  

PCR tests can take longer because they are sent off to a lab to check for Covid, with some critics saying 72 hours could be too tight. Rapid ‘lateral flow’ tests can be turned around in minutes, but missed cases and false positives are more common.

The difference has sparked concerns that Covid-positive travellers could present a negative test at the border to gain entry to Britain.  

Professor Jon Deeks, a testing expert at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘The lateral flow test, we know, is not very sensitive so it will miss cases and it isn’t suitable.’

He added: ‘Other countries are using PCR and I would be concerned if we didn’t. There are alternatives, but we need something with similar accuracy to PCR.’

Dr Alex Edwards, a pharmacy researcher at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘Given that this is a screening programme particularly for asymptomatic people, you want the most sensitive tests available, and PCR tests are the most sensitive available.

‘But even different manufacturers have varying levels of accuracy and not everyone is positive if they’re infected, which can cause enormous problems.

‘I think the problem is that, in general, the lateral flow tests are almost always less sensitive. If you have a really good PCR tests you might catch 80 per cent of people so you can reduce the number cases coming in five-fold.

‘We’ve seen huge variations in accuracy [of lateral flow]. Accuracy is always compared to PCR and when they were used in the real world, for example the study in Liverpool, it showed it was only capable of picking up half of the PCR cases, and that’s half of 80 per cent, so you can’t even reduce the number of people coming in by two-fold.’

Dr Edwards added that using lateral flow tests would prevent scientists from being able to detect or monitor new strains being brought into the country from abroad.

The negative Covid test for all travellers to the UK will be imposed ‘next Wednesday or Thursday’ as stars including Amanda Holden slammed the Government’s plan as too little too late as mutant strains from countries like South Africa entered the country.

Tue, December 15

It’s here! The vaccine arrives mid-morning, and given all the fuss, I’d been braced for an elite squad of specialists, bearing it forth with all the awe of a holy relic. Instead, it’s a man-in-a-van: more Amazon delivery than Indiana Jones. Nonetheless we’re all excited to have what one colleague quips is the ‘Pizza Box from Heaven’.

Inside are 195 precious vials, each containing five doses, meaning 975 separate vaccines.

We’re all keenly aware that every second now is vital, as the countdown to beat the strict five-day expiry date has already begun, starting from the moment they leave the laboratory freezer.

Unlike the vintage pots of hummus in my fridge back home, there’s no wriggle room on ‘best before’ dates here.

Our schedule is based on three vaccinators working 9am to 7pm, giving a jab every five minutes. On paper, that looks do-able, until you think about the reality of dealing with elderly, sometimes frail, patients who need time to move around, remove their layers of winter clothing and so forth.

Throw in the strict social distancing requirements and it becomes trickier still, especially when you consider the additional personnel in the building required by the guidelines: as well as our three vaccinators, there has to be a GP on site, two healthcare professionals and a team of five marshals to shepherd the patients around.

Wed, December 16, V-Day One

The big day arrives. My job is to take the vials and convert them into syringe-dosages, following a labyrinthine series of procedures which require such delicate handling we have taken to calling them our little ‘V-babies’.

First the vials are removed from the fridge into a light-proof bag — they are light-sensitive as well as heat-sensitive.

I then take out the first six vials, mark them with a special time label, and leave them for ten minutes to get them to room temperature, before inverting each vial ten times and adding 1.8 millilitres of sterile saline and withdrawing the same amount of air.

They then have to be inverted another ten times before another date and time label is added.

With over 20 years’ experience, I’m used to this kind of painstaking procedure, but I can’t help thinking that for many of the groups proposing to join the ‘vaccine army’ it would be somewhat daunting and time-consuming. Unlike the flu jab, which comes ‘arm-ready’ as it were, this is more complicated. If the Government’s going to hit its targets, there will need to be some swift training factored in.

I’m intrigued by the instruction to only take five 0.3 millilitre doses out of each vial and throw away what’s left.

Out of interest I drew the last dose out of one vial and discovered it was 0.5 millilitres, which strikes me as a dose wasted. But rules are rules.

The day passes quickly, and it’s heartening to learn from my vaccinating colleagues that every single one of their patients was so grateful to receive it, although some of them expressed guilt at being at the front of the queue and said they felt key workers and teachers should have been vaccinated first.

The day ends on a happy note when we learn that the traffic warden we’d spotted hovering outside wasn’t handing out tickets, but helping our elderly patients out of their cars and taxis.

It’s a Christmas miracle!

Thu, December 17

Another change from NHS England: overnight they decide we can now take six doses from each vial. That means we suddenly have 65 extra doses spare, and can vaccinate more patients. Our team hit the phones again. Every dose used is another life protected.

One step forward . . . two little hiccups back. Our IT system goes on the blink for an hour and a half, while we learn one of our marshals has called in sick with Covid.

Fri, December 18

Another busy day, and by 4pm, as we count the number of patients left waiting, with a handful of no-shows through the day, we realise we’ll have a few vaccine shots left over.

But as the clock runs down, we’re nearing the use-by deadline. Quick! We hit the phones to rally local healthcare professionals within a one-mile radius who, unlike more elderly patients, can get here pronto. We want to ensure not a precious drop is wasted.

We finish at 9pm, following an exhausting 12-hour shift: everyone had fitted the equivalent of a standard full NHS working week into three days.

Rishi Sunak examining plans for a £3billion scheme to help a MILLION small business owners

Rishi Sunak is examining plans for a £3billion scheme to help a million small business owners who have fallen between the cracks of other coronavirus help programmes.

The Chancellor is looking at proposals for a Directors Income Support Scheme that would pay sole directors up to 80 per cent of lost profits for three months, up to a ceiling of £7,500.

The scheme, targeting those earning less than £50,000 a year, would help entrepreneurs as well as plumbers, engineers and musicians.

Known as the #forgottenltd they pay themselves through dividends rather than a salary – a tax move that is legally allowed.

But it has left them unable to claim furlough or business loans.  

A source told the Sun that the Treasury was examining a plan put forward by the Federation of Small Businesses, the Forgotten Ltd campaign, former Office for Tax Simplification adviser Rebecca Seeley-Harris and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). 

‘It’s under active consideration,’ they said.

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron said it was ‘encouraging news’, but added: ‘After 10 months of broken promises it’s vital the Chancellor now delivers. ‘The small business owners that make up the #ForgottenLtd and all of the three million #excluded are crucial to our economic recovery. We won’t stop fighting until they are ALL supported.’ 

We’ve administered 1,031 doses, we’re all knackered, and my knees hurt, but there’s a real buzz.

I spend much of Saturday morning trying to catch up on the Christmas shopping I’ve had no time to do, only to discover that afternoon that my area is to be plunged into Tier 4 rules, meaning non-essential shops will have to close. Sorry, kids, Santa’s been a bit busy.

Mon, December 21

It’s a return to normal business, as I try to catch up with all the patients I’ve had to cancel from my usual clinics to work on the vaccine roll-out.

That means everything from smear tests to ‘frailty reviews’ — managing elderly patients’ end of life plans, and whether or not they would like to be resuscitated in the event of cardiac failure. There’s a slightly grim irony in undertaking the latter with a patient who, just a few days earlier, had been given a life-saving jab.

It feels like saying: ‘We’ve helped save your life, now how would you like to die?’

Wed, December 23

I thought I was off for Christmas, a time to recharge the batteries, but lo and behold the holiday’s interrupted with another goalpost-moving missive from NHS England, this time informing us they are going to extend the period between the two vaccine doses from three weeks to 12 weeks.

This means that any area which started administering their vaccines on or after Wednesday 16th needs to cancel those patients due their second jab, and book a thousand new patients in for their first instead.

Oh, and we can’t even tell the first thousand when they should come back, as the vaccine supply is so patchy at the moment we can’t make plans that far ahead.

How on earth can we make those 2,000 phone calls in time? On a good day, one ‘telephone terrier’ working flat out can reach about 120-150 patients a day.

Frantic conversations between health chiefs ensue, until a pragmatic solution is reached. Huge relief!

Nonetheless, given all the coverage in the media, we still have to call all 1,000 patients to reassure them their appointments are going ahead.

Tue, January 5, 2021

Hallelujah! The second lot of vaccines arrive at our hub on schedule. This time I’m at least expecting a man-in-a-van, not the Messiah.

Wed, January 6

Round two gets under way. It feels calmer this time as we’ve established a good working rhythm. With a fair wind, we’ll pick up speed, but the fiddly nature of the Pfizer jab means it’s surely going to be a huge challenge to scale-up on a national level.

The Government are making promises to have administered 12 million doses by mid-Feb.

As my eye-rolling teenager would say: good luck with that.

Fri, January 8

Another day of mixed news. Our final tranche of Pfizer jabs is marred by the IT system used to register all vaccinations — called Pinnacle — going down for most of the morning.

Now all 480 patients due in will have to be logged by hand and inputted onto the database at a later date.

I worry the system is struggling to cope as more and more hubs join the national roll-out.

On the plus side, we get the first arrival of 400 doses of the alternative ‘Oxford’ or AstraZeneca vaccine, which are to go to local care homes as they’re more transportable and require less gentle care than our Pfizer V-babies.

On paper, this is good news — if only we weren’t all so hampered by NHS England’s obsession with running all vaccinations through specific designated ‘hubs’ like ours.

The reality of this is that the maximum number of front-line vaccinators we can have working from the hub at any one time is four, whereas if we were allowed to give it out at our usual local GP surgeries too, I could have two vaccinators working at each of our ten sites — taking that number up to 20.

That’s a huge potential to upscale, if only NHS England would listen. Overnight, we got another missive from them saying the Oxford vaccine can at least be delivered to different sites, but still no clarity on whether it can be administered there, too.

If it can’t, then I’m afraid Boris’s pledge of delivering two million doses a week doesn’t stand a chance, especially given the baffling reality that by the time you read this, our hub will stand empty and unused.

At the time of writing, we have no further vaccine deliveries scheduled. And so we wait . . .

After all our efforts, it’s disheartening. And very worrying.

Now police ban SNOWBALLS! Officers threaten to fine people £200 for playing in the snow – after swooping on friends for driving just SEVEN miles to go for a walk in the park – and claiming their cups of tea counted as a picnic

Police today faced criticism they were taking the lockdown crackdown too far after a force threatened to fine people £200 for playing in the snow – while elsewhere officers swooped on two friends for driving just seven miles to go for a walk at a beauty spot.

The Broseley and Much Wenlock division of West Mercia Police tweeted last night: ‘There have been two reports of snowballs being thrown last night between 11 and 11.30pm.

‘This is obviously not a justifiable reason to be out of your house, this behaviour is likely to result in a £200 Fixed Penalty Notice for breaking the lockdown rules.’

Meanwhile, Derbyshire Police fined beautician Jessica Allen and her British Airways flight attendant friend Eliza Moore £200 each for driving for a socially distanced stroll at Foremark Reservoir, which despite not being her nearest park is only 10 minutes from her house. 

Ms Allen, 27, said she assumed ‘someone had been murdered’ when she saw a police van, a police car and several officers at the entrance of the open space. 

Neighbourhood officers for the Broseley and Much Wenlock tweeted on Thursday night: 'There have been two reports of snowballs being thrown last night between 11 and 11.30pm'

Neighbourhood officers for the Broseley and Much Wenlock tweeted on Thursday night: ‘There have been two reports of snowballs being thrown last night between 11 and 11.30pm’

Jessica Allen (left) and Eliza Moore were stopped by officers from Derbyshire Police while they were enjoying a socially distanced walk at a Derbyshire beauty spot

Jessica Allen (left) and Eliza Moore were stopped by officers from Derbyshire Police while they were enjoying a socially distanced walk at a Derbyshire beauty spot 

Jessica Allen

Eliza Moore

Ms Allen (left) and Ms Moore (right) were taking a stroll at Foremark Reservoir when they were surrounded by Derbyshire Police, read their rights and hit with £200 fines each

Ms Allen, a beautician from nearby Ashby-de-la-Zouch, said she assumed ‘someone had been murdered’ when she saw a police van, a police car and several officers at the entrance of the open space. This map shows the proximity between her house and the reservoir 

‘It was a short journey and only took about ten minutes,’ she said. I genuinely thought someone had been murdered or a child had gone missing; the place is normally so quiet. 

‘The next thing, my car is surrounded. I got out of my car thinking ”There’s no way they’re coming to speak to us”. Straight away they start questioning us. One of them started reading my rights and I was looking at my friend thinking ”This must be a joke”. 

‘I said we had come in separate cars, even parked two spaces away and even brought our own drinks with us. He said ”You can’t do that as it’s classed as a picnic”.

‘Crossing into a different county seems to have caused the issue but the border into Derbyshire is only a minute away from my house.’

Ms Moore, who is 27 and alongside her work for BA runs a make-up business, said she was ‘stunned at the time’ so did not challenge police and gave her details so they could send a fixed penalty notice.

‘Just seeing a police officer anyway is quite scary for some people and we were really not expecting to be approached and to be told we were doing something wrong,’ she said.

‘We don’t want to get away with it if we have broken the rule, but it seems a bit unfair that you can be fined on something that’s so vague.’

The pair were also told their cups of Starbucks peppermint tea, which they bought at a drive-thru, were not allowed because they were ‘classed as a picnic’. 

All car parks in Snowdonia National Park have now been closed to visitors. Pictured is a police car patrolling the beauty spot last night

All car parks in Snowdonia National Park have now been closed to visitors. Pictured is a police car patrolling the beauty spot last night  

A police officer stopped a group of three walkers as they headed through Birmingham City Centre amid lockdown

A police officer stopped a group of three walkers as they headed through Birmingham City Centre amid lockdown

Police officer took a picture of one man

Officers crowded around a person out walking in Birmingham City Centre

A police officer took a picture of one man, as others crowded around another person while they were out walking in Birmingham City Centre despite coronavirus lockdown

The Met has vowed not to warn people any longer and punish them with fixed penalty notices of at £200 for first offences, and these officers were also stopping cars

The Met has vowed not to warn people any longer and punish them with fixed penalty notices of at £200 for first offences, and these officers were also stopping cars

Guidance for the current lockdown says people can travel for exercise ‘as long as it is in their local area’, but does not specify how far people can travel. 

Derbyshire Police insisted the distance was ‘at the discretion’ of individual officers and the trip was ‘not in the spirit of the rules’.

It later said all fixed penalty notices issued during the new national lockdown will be reviewed after it received clarification about the coronavirus regulations.

The force has previously been criticised for its heavy-handed approach to enforcing the restrictions, and in March released drone footage of dog walkers in the Peak District in an attempt to ‘shame’ them. 

And in March, the force dumped black dye into a famous blue lagoon in Harpur Hill near Buxton to prevent Instagrammers from posing for snaps during the lockdown. 

It comes as police forces nationwide upped up their enforcement of Covid regulations.     

In Aberdeen, two policeman knocked on a family’s front door after complaints from a neighbour and stormed inside as a woman shouted ‘this is my house, get out of my house’ and children screamed in the background. 

Two women, aged 18 and 48, and a 43-year-old man were charged in connection with assaulting police officers and threatening and abusive behaviour.

The footage immediately sparked controversy, with critics accusing the police of ‘oppressive’ behaviour for storming into a private house – while others argued they were just trying to enforce the Covid rules.  

At Euston, officers were seen stopping passengers this morning to ask where they were going. Barrister Alex Wright tweeted: ‘Good to see lockdown being taken seriously, but a sad sight that I’d have dreamed of seeing in London.’ 

Snowdonia National Park has now closed all its car parks to visitors to ‘protect our communities and the NHS’, as officials slammed the public for ‘disregarding’ the law. 

In an attempt to clarify the guidance, Leicester City Council’s public health director Professor Ivan Browne today urged residents to visit ‘your nearest park, not your nicest park’, Leicester Live reported. 

Categories
Birmingham Headlines UK Liverpool

Pupils are forced to perform their OWN Covid tests at school as nurse watches on

School pupils are carrying out Covid tests on themselves, despite fears over their effectiveness when self-administered.

Students at Oasis Academy in Coulsdon, Surrey, were sent the kits on Monday ahead of the regime starting.

Following the latest national lockdown being announced only vulnerable children or those whose parents are key workers have been allowed to attend lessons in person.

They were given instructions by nurses on how to carry out the tests themselves and supervised by them, similar to how some walk-in testing centres are run.

The idea is that fewer medical experts will be needed to test a larger number of people.

But it comes amid fears self-administered tests could miss cases, due to the force and depth needed to collect a sample.

Experts recommend a trained nurse or professional carries out the insertion of the swab to get to the necessary spot, which can be extremely uncomfortable.

Student Molly Tinker takes a COVID-19 test at Oasis Academy in Coulsdon, Surrey, today

Student Ruby Soden receives instructions on how to self-administer her coronavirus test

Student Ruby Soden receives instructions on how to self-administer her coronavirus test

Student Henry Parker receives instructions and equipment on how to take his virus test

Student Henry Parker receives instructions and equipment on how to take his virus test

John Murphy, CEO of Oasis Trust, said on Monday before the lockdown and general school closures: ‘What we know for sure is that our young people make the best progress with quality first teaching, with their teachers, in the classroom with their friends.

‘Therefore, once effectively delivered, we are assured that mass testing in schools will provide additional confidence to our children, parents, teachers and staff, and has the potential to greatly reduce disruption to learning, alongside our existing Covid controls.

‘In January we will be piloting the testing in a number of our schools before implementing this to all our secondary academies across the country.’

Schools were given comprehensive online training modules with 1,500 military personnel on hand to provide advice and guidance on establishing the process. 

Student Lily Mae Milliman takes her COVID-19 test using a mirror to assist in using the swab

Student Lily Mae Milliman takes her COVID-19 test using a mirror to assist in using the swab

After use the swab is placed into a reacting agent which shows whether the user has Covid

After use the swab is placed into a reacting agent which shows whether the user has Covid

The tests were sent out to schools before they were shut down under the UK's new lockdown

The tests were sent out to schools before they were shut down under the UK’s new lockdown

There fears self-administered tests could miss cases, due to the depth needed to take swab

There fears self-administered tests could miss cases, due to the depth needed to take swab

Professional use swabs are longer and when administered by a nurse can be painful

Professional use swabs are longer and when administered by a nurse can be painful

Infectious disease specialists say letting people do swabs makes false negatives more likely

Infectious disease specialists say letting people do swabs makes false negatives more likely

Schools could still spread coronavirus 

Covid-19 infections will continue to spread through classrooms where high numbers of children are attending schools in the lockdown, experts have warned.

Scientific advice group Independent Sage is calling for the definition of key workers to be narrowed and for increased financial support or furlough to be given to those who cannot work amid a large demand for school places.

The group of scientists, chaired by former chief scientific adviser Sir David King, warns that underprivileged children are being exposed to a “greater risk of infection” due to the high number of pupils who are eligible to attend class.

The warning came after the Government told schools not to limit the number of children of key workers onsite during the national lockdown in England – and it said vulnerable children should be strongly encouraged to attend.

Headteachers have been reporting a high demand for places after students in schools and colleges – except children of key workers and vulnerable pupils – were told to learn remotely until mid-February.

Vulnerable children can include “pupils who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home” due to a lack of devices or a quiet space to study.

The report from Independent Sage says: “First … this undermines the whole point of school closures making the policy less effective and therefore extending the period of closure.

“Second, it exposes underprivileged children to still greater risk of infection.”

Addressing high demand from key worker parents, it adds: “This is in danger of increasing the number in school to a point where the policy becomes less effective and the ability of teachers to deliver remote learning is undermined.”

Independent Sage is calling for the creation of a national education task force involving Government, councils, teachers, parents and students to “create a more Covid-secure environment in schools”.

Experts warned last year some self-tests are less accurate because they use shorter swabs and do not need to be inserted as deeply into the nose.

Instructions for some say: ‘No force is needed and you do not have to push far into your nostril.’

However, professional-use swabs – which are much longer and are designed to take samples from the ‘floor’ of the nose – can make people gag, their eyes water or even trigger nosebleeds when carried out properly.

Infectious disease specialists say letting people do swabs themselves – notoriously difficult even for trained medics – makes false negatives more likely. False negatives mean people who are infected with the virus are wrongly told they’re in good health. 

Britain’s current guidelines mean there is no rule to tell them to stay at home after a negative test, even if they have symptoms. Medics say Britain is out of step with other countries such as New Zealand – which contained its Covid-19 outbreak quickly, which place less importance on tests and do them multiple times.

Norwich-based researcher Dr Katherine Deane, branch equalities officer for the University and College Union, is worried about how effective infection control will be.

She told the Eastern Daily Press: ‘Schools don’t have experts in infection control, so the level of precision there will be on the set up, the cleaning of the area, the wearing of personal protective equipment and the ventilation is all worrying.

‘When you have a swab test, that tends to produce a cough – a gag reflex and the droplets go into the air.

‘The big ones will fall quickly, but the fine ones can stay in the air for up to an hour.

‘And yet, the idea of the testing is that you get a student swabbed, you clean up and five minutes later the next student is tested.

‘It means the volunteers supervising can be at higher risk of infection and, unless the infection control is meticulous, the venues run the risk of being the site of super-spreader events.’

Professor Jon Deeks, a biostatistics expert at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘A single negative test result doesn’t exclude the disease. You can so easily miss the virus – they give a lot of false negatives.’

Research suggests up to 30 per cent of professional swab tests return false negatives, meaning the number of positive cases may be underestimated by thousands.

It is not clear how inaccurate self-swabs are, even though they are being carried out more than 60,000 times a day in the UK. The Department of Health will not release data about the false negative rates of its tests.

PCR vs lateral flow Covid tests

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PCR TEST AND A LATERAL FLOW? 

A PCR test can cost upwards of £180 per person, with the swab needing to be processed in a lab. 

The UK, on the other hand, favours faster tests which are not lab based and give a result within 15 minutes.

These rapid coronavirus tests, known as lateral flow tests, are ones that can be done on the spot using portable equipment.

They are faster and cheaper than lab-based PCR tests, which the government uses to diagnose people, but are less accurate. 

LATERAL FLOW TESTS ARE RAPID – BUT CAN SACRIFICE ACCURACY

In a lateral flow test a swab is used to get a sample from the person’s nose or throat and it is then processed in a small machine that tries to detect the coronavirus by mixing the sample with something the virus would react with.

If there is a reaction in the mixture it suggests that the person is carrying coronavirus. If not, they get a negative result. This process can be completed in as little as 15 minutes.

You take your own swab though a professional on site processes it through the machine. 

Lateral flow miss up to half of cases, by the Department of Health’s own admission. 

But damning evidence shows they may be effectively useless when self-administered, despite Downing Street’s current testing scheme relying on people taking their own swabs. 

The tests are more accurate when swabs are carried out by trained professionals because they have to be pushed deep inside the nose. 

But scientists fear Britain simply doesn’t have the money or enough spare medics to do this nationwide every day, with health chiefs instead accepting DIY swabs to save time. 

PCR TESTS CAN TAKE SEVERAL DAYS TO GET RESULTS – BUT ARE MORE ACCURATE 

These lateral flow tests differ from the gold standard PCR test – known scientifically as polymerase chain reaction testing. 

PCR tests also use a swab but this is then processed using high-tech laboratory equipment to analyse the genetic sequence of the sample to see if any of it matches the genes of coronavirus.

This is a much more long-winded and expensive process, involving multiple types of trained staff, and the analysis process can take hours, with the whole process from swab to someone receiving their result taking days.

It is significantly more accurate, however. In ideal conditions the tests are almost 100 per cent accurate at spotting the virus, although this may be more like 70 per cent in the real world.

This compares to a much lower sensitivity in lateral flow tests, with a trial of one type used in Liverpool suggesting they miss around 50 per cent of the people who would test positive with PCR.

SO, WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF LATERAL FLOW TESTING? 

Extreme accuracy may be a drawback for PCR now that so many people have been infected, however, with the tests able to detect shreds of the virus in people who recovered weeks ago and are no longer infectious, which may lead them to have to self-isolate unnecessarily.

Lateral flow tests are more likely to miss people who are carrying the virus but, experts say, do have value as a way of weeding out people carrying large amounts of the virus and therefore most likely to be spreading the disease.

Categories
Headlines UK Liverpool London

Fascinating infographics reveal London has 627,707 CCTV cameras, the most of any city outside China

Fascinating infographics have revealed the most surveilled cities in the world where citizens are being watched in their every move. 

London has the highest number of cameras outside of China, with an eye-watering 627,707 CCTV monitors set up across the UK’s capital, according to a new study.  

The British city is the third most monitored state in the world with 67 cameras per 1000 people always watching every movement – only Shanghai and Beijing in China have more cameras. 

Beijing, China’s capital, is the most watched metropolis in the world with 1.15 million cameras as the Communist Party pushes for Big-Brother-style state surveillance. It is closely followed by Shanghai which has one million monitors. 

Beijing, China's capital, is the most watched metropolis in the world with 1.15 million cameras as the Communist Party pushes for Big-Brother-style state surveillance.

London has the highest number of cameras outside of China, with an eye-watering 627,707 CCTV monitors set up across the UK’s capital, according to a new study

Despite the higher number of cameras in the Chinese cities, London still has more monitors per 1000 people. Beijing has 56 cameras whilst Shanghai has 36 per 1000 people, nearly 50 per cent less than London. 

The shocking infographics come at a time when the world’s billionth CCTV surveillance camera is set to be installed this year, which adds up to one camera per every eight people on Earth.   

New York City has the highest number and density of CCTV cameras in the entire US, according to the infographics created by Surfshark, a VPN company. 

The city has 31,490 cameras, with around 25 installed every square kilometre. In comparison, Los Angeles, the city with the second highest number of cameras in the US, has 22,679 monitors in place. 

But Los Angeles has nearly six cameras per 1000 people, which is higher than New York City’s three cameras.  

New York City has the highest number and density of CCTV cameras in the entire US with 31,490

In comparison, Los Angeles, the city with the second highest number of cameras in the US, has 22,679 monitors in place

New York City has the highest number and density of CCTV cameras in the entire US with 31,490 which is much higher than the 22,678 monitors in LA

Sydney meanwhile is the most surveilled city in Australia with 60,000 cameras installed across the area watching our daily routines, much higher than the 9,363 cameras installed in Melbourne. 

The infographics illustrate just how pervasive surveillance cameras are in the 130 most populous cities across the world. 

In China and the US, for example, there is already one camera per 4.1 and 4.6 people, respectively.

London not only has the third highest number of cameras in the world but it also has the highest number of monitors per square kilometre outside of Asia. 

For every kilometre you walk across the capital city 399 cameras could have captured your movements. London, with a population of around nine million people, have the fourth highest density of cameras in the world.    

Chennai in India has the highest density of cameras in the world, with a staggering 657 monitors capturing its citizens movements for every kilometre they walk. It is followed by Hyderabad, India, with 480 cameras and Harbin in China with 411.    

Sydney is the most surveilled city in Australia with 60,000 cameras installed across the area watching our daily routines

Chennai in India has the highest density of cameras in the world, with a staggering 657 monitors capturing its citizens movements for every kilometre they walk

Chennai in India has the highest density of cameras in the world, with a staggering 657 monitors capturing its citizens movements for every kilometre they walk whilst Sydney is the most surveilled city in Australia

Meanwhile, Beijing, despite having the highest number of cameras in the world, it is ranked tenth for density of the monitors. 

But six of the top ten cities with the highest density of CCTV cameras are in China; three are in India. 

China has been building a mass surveillance network, which currently boasts about 200 million AI-powered cameras. 

The surveillance network has been billed as the world’s most powerful facial-recognition system and aims to identify any one of its 1.4 billion citizens within three seconds.

Critics, however, have voiced concerns over the system, claiming it’s a way for the government to invade citizens’ privacy and restrict their freedom. 

Many have also compared it to a dystopian system run by a fictional state leader, Big Brother, in George Orwell’s novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.

In financial hub Shanghai (pictured), every 8.8 residents are watched by one security camera

In financial hub Shanghai (pictured), every 8.8 residents are watched by one security camera

China has been building a mass surveillance network, which currently boasts about 200 million AI-powered cameras

China has been building a mass surveillance network, which currently boasts about 200 million AI-powered cameras

But for people who want a break from the Big Brother-style surveillance and want the best chance of staying in the shadows, they should visit Alexandria in Egypt and Bekasi in West Java, Indonesia. 

People in Alexandria are free to roam without the feeling of being watched every step they take as the city only has 122 cameras, with less than one camera per square kilometre.

Meanwhile, those enjoying the sunshine in Bekasi only have to deal with 19 cameras in their city. They would only see one camera – and sometimes none at all – if they travelled one kilometre. 

Dom Dimas, Head of Research at SurfShark told MailOnline: ‘The general message of the research on CCTV surveillance around the world is to show the scope of such activities and highlight the implications they might have on people’s privacy. 

‘Similarly as tracking people on the internet, often surveillance is cloaked under the promise of maintaining order and public safety. 

‘However, its consequences can be far more overreaching and infringe people’s privacy, while the general public have little options to opt out from it.’ 

A CCTV camera in King's Cross, London - where police are experimenting with the use of facial recognition technology which critics say is a 'China-style surveillance tool'

A CCTV camera in King’s Cross, London – where police are experimenting with the use of facial recognition technology which critics say is a ‘China-style surveillance tool’

In London, CCTV was first used temporarily during the Queen’s coronation in 1953 and started to be installed permanently in the 1960s.

Since then the city has frequently been a target for terrorists ranging from the IRA in the 1980s and 1990s to more recent attacks by Islamic extremists.

London has also faced the threats of hooliganism at its many sports grounds as well as crime on one of the world’s most extensive public transport networks.

A 2017 report by the Police Foundation said the 1993 murder of James Bulger in Liverpool, who was shown on CCTV being led away from his mother by his two 10-year-old killers, ‘undoubtedly’ fuelled support for more surveillance in the UK.

Before the Bulger killing, CCTV had mostly been used against traffic offenders but the case illustrated how it could be used more widely, the Police Foundation said.

The campaign group Big Brother Watch said last year that the use of live facial recognition was ‘one of the most serious threats to civil liberties of recent years’.

‘This China-style mass surveillance tool risks turning CCTV cameras into biometric checkpoints and citizens into walking ID cards,’ they said.

London transport bosses first experimented with CCTV while building the Victoria Line in the 1960s. From the 1970s onwards, it became a convenient way to phase out train guards on the Underground because drivers could monitor what was happening on CCTV.

The Tube network now has 13,000 cameras of its own, not including 700 on the Docklands Light Railway and 600 on the London Overground. London’s thousands of buses have also been fitted with their own surveillance systems since the 1980s. 

How is China building the world’s most powerful facial recognition system?

Categories
Headlines UK Liverpool

Five members of masked gang who murdered two 17-year-old rivals are jailed for total of 126 years 

Five members of a masked gang who murdered two 17-year-old rivals with ‘Rambo’ knives after ambushing a Milton Keynes house party in a postcode war have been jailed for a total of 126 years. 

Dom Ansah and Ben Gillham-Rice were stabbed to death at a house in the Emerson Valley area of the Buckinghamshire town in October 2019.

Two other people were stabbed and left with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Today, Earl Bevans, 23, Charlie Chandler, 23, Clayton Barker, 20, and two previously unnamed teenagers appeared at Luton Crown Court to be sentenced.

The youths can now be named as Ben Potter, 17, and Jamie Chandler, the 17-year-old brother of Charlie, after Mr Justice Spencer lifted reporting restrictions.

The court previously heard the defendants were either members or associated with members of the B3 gang in West Bletchley, named after the MK3 postcode, and had planned the attack after being told that members of the rival M4 gang were at the party.

Ben was stabbed six times in the living room of the three-bedroom house, and Dom was chased outside the property and ‘hacked’, jurors were told, suffering 47 injuries and dying in hospital three hours later.

The two have been close friends since school, pictured, and were described as ‘like brothers’

Jason Rice, Ben's father, told Luton Crown Court the families of the boys had been served a life sentence, adding 'when they killed Ben, they killed us', as he called for a tough punishment. Pictured, Ben with his mother Suzie Gillham

Jason Rice, Ben’s father, told Luton Crown Court the families of the boys had been served a life sentence, adding ‘when they killed Ben, they killed us’, as he called for a tough punishment. Pictured, Ben with his mother Suzie Gillham

Dom Ansah, a keen football fan, pictured with his father, Earl Bevans before his death in 2019

Dom Ansah, a keen football fan, pictured with his father, Earl Bevans before his death in 2019

Ben, pictured, was a 'very charismatic' boy and a passionate football fan who was widely adored, his parents said

Ben, pictured, was a ‘very charismatic’ boy and a passionate football fan who was widely adored, his parents said

Dom and his mother

Dom and his sister

Dom, pictured left with his mother and right with his sister, loved basketball, was full of joy, energy and a love for life

Tracey Ansah, Dom's mother, said her son was widely loved, with nearly 500 people attending his funeral. Pictured, Dom

Tracey Ansah, Dom’s mother, said her son was widely loved, with nearly 500 people attending his funeral. Pictured, Dom

Family pay tribute to two friends who were ‘like brothers’ 

Asked before sentencing whether the end of the process would bring any closure, Ben’s father Jason Rice said: ‘It gives you a little bit, maybe, of that chapter’s over, knowing that the people who (have) done it are behind bars, but no sentence will be enough.’

This was echoed by Dom’s mother Tracey Ansah, who said: ‘We just survive, every day. There’s no meaning to it, because he’s not a part of it.

‘So no sentence will ever be long enough, and it’s not something you will ever recover from.’ 

Suzanne Gillham, Ben’s mother, said: ‘That friendship was strong from day one, up until the fatal night they both lost their lives.’

Ben’s parents said their son was a ‘very charismatic’ boy and a passionate football fan who was widely adored.

His father said: ‘He was extremely funny. His friends said just how funny he was, whenever there was a gathering on they’d want him there, he would light up the party.’

The families were so close Ben was like a second brother to Dom’s twin sister Holly, Mrs Ansah said.

She added: ‘There was always banter between Ben supporting Tottenham and Dom Liverpool, so we always had that banter, they just did everything together.’

She said Dom, who loved basketball, was full of joy, energy and a love for life.

‘He was very much loved…really loved,’ she said, adding around 500 people had attended his funeral.

Barker, Potter and both Chandler brothers had denied both murders and two counts of wounding with intent but were unanimously convicted by the jury after around nine hours of deliberation.

Mr Justice Spencer gave each defendant a life sentence, with minimum terms varying from 22 years in detention to 28 years in prison.

He said: ‘The all too familiar background to these senseless and tragic killings was rivalry between gangs of young men, and the culture of violence and knives promoted on social media.’

The judge added: ‘The violence that night escalated way beyond anything that had gone before.

‘You, Clayton Barker, Ben Potter and Jamie Chandler, were enthusiastic members of the rival B3 gang.

‘You, Charlie Chandler and Earl Bevans, were not members of B3, but you were closely associated with those who were and willing to lend your support that night in this revenge attack as part of the ongoing feud.’

Mr Justice Spencer said Barker had taken a leading role in the attack and that four people had gone into the house.

The judge added the attack would have caused ‘untold trauma’ to those who had witnessed it.

Charlie Chandler, of Fitzwilliam Street, Bletchley, received life with a minimum of 27 years in prison, while Barker, of Surrey Road, Bletchley, was handed a life sentence with a 28-year minimum term.

Bevans, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty at the start of the trial and was given life with a minimum term of 27 years.

Potter, of Chiswick Close, Westcroft, and Chandler, of Woodrush Close, Beanhill, were given a 22-year minimum term in detention.

Asked before sentencing whether the end of the process would bring any closure, Ben’s father Jason Rice said: ‘It gives you a little bit, maybe, of that chapter’s over, knowing that the people who (have) done it are behind bars, but no sentence will be enough.’

This was echoed by Dom’s mother Tracey Ansah, who said: ‘We just survive, every day. There’s no meaning to it, because he’s not a part of it.

‘So no sentence will ever be long enough, and it’s not something you will ever recover from.’ 

Suzanne Gillham, Ben’s mother, said: ‘That friendship was strong from day one, up until the fatal night they both lost their lives.’

Ben’s parents said their son was a ‘very charismatic’ boy and a passionate football fan who was widely adored.

His father said: ‘He was extremely funny. His friends said just how funny he was, whenever there was a gathering on they’d want him there, he would light up the party.’

Forensic officer outside the scene of the murders in 2019. The sentencing hearing for five defendants began on Tuesday, a month after Charlie Chandler, 23, Clayton Barker, 20, and two 17-year-olds were convicted of murder

Forensic officer outside the scene of the murders in 2019. The sentencing hearing for five defendants began on Tuesday, a month after Charlie Chandler, 23, Clayton Barker, 20, and two 17-year-olds were convicted of murder

Mrs Ansah said her son (pictured) had made mistakes as a teenager but had 'lived and learned' from them, and had never carried a knife

Mrs Ansah said her son (pictured) had made mistakes as a teenager but had ‘lived and learned’ from them, and had never carried a knife

Blood was seen smeared on the door of the house where the two teenagers were stabbed

Blood was seen smeared on the door of the house where the two teenagers were stabbed 

The families were so close Ben was like a second brother to Dom’s twin sister Holly, Mrs Ansah said.

She added: ‘There was always banter between Ben supporting Tottenham and Dom Liverpool, so we always had that banter, they just did everything together.’

She said Dom, who loved basketball, was full of joy, energy and a love for life.

‘He was very much loved…really loved,’ she said, adding around 500 people had attended his funeral.

During the trial at Luton Crown Court, Mrs Ansah had described how she spent Dom’s last moments by his side in hospital.

Mrs Ansah told PA: ‘We were lucky, we got three hours with him. It wasn’t enough. But he knew we were there and we got to tell him how much we love him.

‘We didn’t say goodbye because we didn’t think he was going to go, he was talking, we thought he was going to be okay.

‘It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough. There was so much more I wanted to say.’

The trial heard Ben was pronounced dead at the house in the Emerson Valley area after he was stabbed six times.

Mr Rice said: ‘I drove to the party and I couldn’t get in, it was all cordoned off and I was just told there been a fatality there, and then one of his mates said to me it was Ben.

‘You see in the films, your whole world comes around you and you think, ‘this is not happening, I’m going to wake up, this is not happening’… You live in a nightmare because you think it’s not true.’

Asked before sentencing whether the end of the process would bring any closure, Mr Rice said: ‘It gives you a little bit, maybe, of that chapter’s over, knowing that the people have done it are behind bars, but no sentence will be enough.’

This was echoed by Mrs Ansah, who said: ‘We just survive, every day. There’s no meaning to it, because he’s not a part of it.

‘So no sentence will ever be long enough, and it’s not something you will ever recover from.’

Charlie Chandler, 22

Clayton Barker, 20

Charlie Chandler (left), 22, and Clayton Barker (right), 20, are among four people who have been convicted of murdering a pair of 17-year-olds in a ‘ferocious’ ambush at a birthday party

Earl Bevans, 23, previously admitted murder and was sentenced at Luton Crown Court today

Earl Bevans, 23, previously admitted murder and was sentenced at Luton Crown Court today

Ben Potter

Jamie Chandler

Ben Potter, pictured left, and Jamie Chandler, pictured right, both 17, can now be named after reporting restrictions were lifted

Forensic teams were also pictured outside the property in Milton Keynes in October 2019

Forensic teams were also pictured outside the property in Milton Keynes in October 2019

An artist's sketch of Chandler appearing at Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court in October 2019

An artist’s sketch of Chandler appearing at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court in October 2019

She added Ben, Dom and the defendants had been ‘failed’ by systems including schools and social services.

‘If they had done what was right by them, they might not have done this to our boys. The system’s the problem,’ she continued.

After the jury gave their verdicts, Mr Justice Spencer commended the families for their dignity over more than a month and a half of the trial.

Both families said they found it difficult to see the adult defendants in the dock, with the juveniles in a separate courtroom.

Mr Rice said: ‘When you look at them and you think, ‘why would you do it? Why? What possessed you to think, right, I’m going to do that.’

‘There’s nothing that either of them had done, or could have done, that deserved that.’  

Trial judge Mr Justice Spencer heard mitigation from barristers representing the five defendants on Tuesday afternoon.

The court previously heard Ben was stabbed six times in the living room of the property. Dom was ‘hacked’, prosecutor Charlotte Newell QC said, with the teenager receiving 47 injuries before later dying in hospital.

Addressing the aggravating elements of the crimes on Tuesday, Ms Newell told the court the ‘savage’ attacks were orchestrated within a short period and involved the use of at least three deadly weapons.

She added the attack took place in the house of an ‘innocent young girl on her 17th birthday’ before moving into the street, traumatising neighbours who witnessed it. 

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Birmingham Headlines UK Leeds Liverpool London Manchester Newcastle Sheffield

Femail reveals the alternative apps and services offering groceries and essentials within 24 hours

Supermarket websites have been strained after Boris Johnson announced the third national lockdown on Monday with shoppers racing to book delivery slots.

Both the Sainsbury’s and Tesco apps reported problems due to surging demand, while some shoppers took to Twitter to reveal they were 4,864 in the queue for an Ocado shop. 

Shoppers at some supermarkets saw empty shelves last night and today, although chains insisted they had good availability and regular deliveries to their stores.

But many savvy shoppers will be able to get their hands on groceries in 24 hours or less, with some able to pick them up in under an hour. Here, FEMAIL reveals how to get a rapid delivery of groceries to your door. Deliveroo (pictured) who work with Aldi, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s among others deliver in less than an hour

It follows chaos before the first lockdown in March when customers started panic buying items such as toilet roll despite supermarkets urging people to be sensible.

But many savvy shoppers will be able to get their hands on groceries in 24 hours or less, with some able to pick them up in under an hour.

Here, FEMAIL reveals how to get a rapid delivery of groceries to your door.

DELIVEROO

Delivery time: An hour or less  

Deliveroo has national UK coverage with on-demand delivery partnerships from Co-op, Aldi, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Majestic Wine, Farmdrop, Daylesford Organic, Wholefoods, as well as dozens of local convenience stores and garages.

The food is delivered from a store local to the user, so time varies depending on how close you live to the shop. 

UBEREATS 

Delivery time: An hour or less 

UberEats has a dedicated ‘essentials’ tab with Sainsburys and Nisa Local among the shops signed up.

There are more than 600 convenience stores signed up to the app nationwide, with items including eggs, milk and meat available. 

UberEats has a dedicated 'essentials' tab with Sainsburys and Nisa Local among the shops signed up. There are more than 600 convenience stores signed up to the app nationwide, with items including eggs, milk and meat available.

UberEats has a dedicated ‘essentials’ tab with Sainsburys and Nisa Local among the shops signed up. There are more than 600 convenience stores signed up to the app nationwide, with items including eggs, milk and meat available.

BOTHER 

Wait time: Next day delivery

Bother, a new delivery service for non-perishable household items, offers free next day delivery for shops more than £40, but there is no minimum spent.  

During the first wave of COVID-19, Bother expedited its planned launch to offer essential supplies to key workers and the NHS in an effort to relieve pressure where it was needed most, now it’s launched nationwide.

Items include toilet roll, laundry detergent, oils, tinned food, dry goods. pasta, cereal, cooking sauces, baking ingredients and hundreds more. 

Bother, a new delivery service for non-perishable household items, offers free next day delivery for shops more than £40, but there is no minimum spent.

Bother, a new delivery service for non-perishable household items, offers free next day delivery for shops more than £40, but there is no minimum spent.

SAINSBURY’S  CHOP CHOP 

Delivery time: An hour or less 

Sainsbury’s Chop Chop lets shoppers buy 20 items which will be delivered in 60 minutes or less in selected areas of Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading and Sheffield.

Options include eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, alcohol and over the counter medicine. Delivery is £4.99. 

As well as being available on Deliveroo and UberEats, Sainsbury's  has it's own app - Chop Chop - which lets shoppers buy 20 items which will be delivered in 60 minutes or less in selected areas of Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading and Sheffield

As well as being available on Deliveroo and UberEats, Sainsbury’s  has it’s own app – Chop Chop – which lets shoppers buy 20 items which will be delivered in 60 minutes or less in selected areas of Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading and Sheffield

VISUALPING 

Savvy shoppers are using an app that tracks supermarket websites to jump their way to the start of the queue to avoid waiting weeks for a delivery slot.     

Brits have signed up to Visualping, which was developed by engineers in Canada, to get alerts when Tesco, Ocado, Morrisons and Waitrose update their delivery times. 

BEELIVERY 

Delivery time: 15 minutes to an hour

Delivering across the country in less than an hour with a minimum spend of £12 using local, crowd-sourced drivers, Beelivery offers snacks, oven pizzas, milk and dairy – as well as health items, tobacco and baby items. 

VEGETARIAN EXPRESS 

Delivery time: Next day   

Vegetarian Express, the UK’s premier specialist vegan and vegetarian food supplier to chefs, has launched a new website, Vegex – featuring a range of over 700 chef-quality plant-based proteins, world ingredients, and store cupboard staples, available for delivery to households. 

Every product has been tried and tested in professional kitchens, and much of the professional range is unavailable to buy in retail stores – bringing restaurant quality food to homes. 

AMAZON FRESH 

Delivery time: Less than 24 hours

Shopping from Amazon Fresh and Morrisons is available for Prime members in selected postcodes across the UK with delivery slots sometimes less than an hour away but available to book up to 72 hours in advance. 

Items include eggs, milks and fresh goods as well as  meats, seafood, dairy, frozen items, and household essentials.

Shopping from Amazon Fresh and Morrisons is available for Prime members in selected postcodes across London and the south east with delivery slots sometimes less than an hour away but available to book up to 24 hours in advance.

Shopping from Amazon Fresh and Morrisons is available for Prime members in selected postcodes across London and the south east with delivery slots sometimes less than an hour away but available to book up to 24 hours in advance.

POSTCODES WHERE AMAZON FRESH IS AVAILABLE  

 IG2

IG3

IG4

IG5

IG11

N1

N1C

N4

N5

N6

N7

N8

N9

N10

N11

N12

N13

N14

N15

N16

N17

N18

N19

N21

N22

NW1

NW3

NW5

NW6

NW8

NW11

RM8

RM9

RM10

RM13

SE1

SE2

SE3

SE4

SE6

SE7

SE8

SE9

SE10

SE11

SE12

SE13

SE14

SE15

KT20

KT21

KT22

SE21

SE22

SE23

SE24

SE25

SE26

SE27

SM1     

TW2 

TW9 

 SE16

SE18

SE28

SW1A

SW1E

SW1H

SW1P

SW1V

SW1W

SW1X

SW1Y

SW3

SW5

SW6

SW7

SW10

W1A

W1B

W1C

W1D

W1F

W1G

W1H

W1J

W1K

W1S

W1T

W1U

W1W

W2

W6

W8

W9

W10

W11

W12

W14

WC1A

WC1B

WC1E

WC1H

WC1N

WC1R

WC1V

WC1X

WC2A

WC2B

WC2E

WC2H

WC2N

WC2R

KT19

SE5

SE17

SE19

SE20

SW14

SW15

SW16

SW17

TW1 

TW12 

 GU10

GU11

GU12

GU14

GU15

GU16

GU17

GU18

GU19

GU20

GU21

GU22

GU23

GU24

GU25

GU46

GU47

GU51

GU52

KT14

KT15

KT16

RG12

RG21

RG22

RG24

RG27

RG29

RG40

RG41

RG42

RG45

SL5

TW20

CR0

CR2

CR4

CR5

CR7

CR8

CR9

KT1

KT2

KT3

KT4

KT5

KT6

KT7

KT8

KT9

KT10

KT11

SM2

SM3

SM4

SM5

SM6

SM7

SW18

SW19

SW20

AL1

AL2

AL3

AL4

AL5

AL10

EN4

EN5

HA3

HA7

HA8

HP1

HP2

HP3

HP4

HP5

HP6

HP23

LU1

LU2

LU3

LU4

LU5

LU6

LU7

N2

N3

N20

NW4

NW7

NW9

WD3

WD4

WD5

WD6

WD7

WD17

WD18

WD19

WD23

WD24

WD25

GU1

GU2

GU3

GU4

GU7

GU8

GU9

KT12

KT17

KT18

SW2

SW4

SW8

SW9

SW11

SW12

SW13

TW10

TW11

WAITROSE RAPID

Delivery time: Two hours or less

Waitrose Rapid enables shoppers to have up to 25 grocery items delivered within two hours or less or on the same day, and is currently available in London, Bath and Hove. 

Items available include fresh fruit and berries, fresh herbs, milks, eggs and dairy as well as pharmacy and toiletries options and frozen food and ready meals.

Waitrose Rapid enables shoppers to have up to 25 grocery items delivered within two hours or less or on the same day, and is currently available in London, Bath and Hove. Items available include fresh fruit and berries, fresh herbs, milks, eggs and dairy as well as pharmacy and toiletries options and frozen food and ready meals.

Waitrose Rapid enables shoppers to have up to 25 grocery items delivered within two hours or less or on the same day, and is currently available in London, Bath and Hove. Items available include fresh fruit and berries, fresh herbs, milks, eggs and dairy as well as pharmacy and toiletries options and frozen food and ready meals.

HELLO ORIENTAL 

Delivery time: Next day 

Hello Oriental delivers nationwide with next day delivery, so you can treat your household to a dim sum feast, or host a sake tasting for your loved ones at home.

Customers can also shop for store cupboard essentials including condiments, seasonings, sauces, rice and noodles, as well as snacks, drinks, dim sum & dumplings, and a huge selection of fresh vegetables including more exotic ones as Thai aubergines, white radish and pandan leaves.  

CASACOSTA

Delivery time: Next day

Italian food delivery service Casacosta sells premium Italian goods as well as meat fish, pasta, bread and alcohol, as well as some health and wellbeing products.

The shop is based in Fulham, but they have next day delivery across London, with plans to go nationwide soon. 

DELICARIO

Delivery time: Next day 

Delicario is a niche online delicatessen for fine artisan food and wine, working with small-scale sustainable producers of authentic regional European delicacies with an ‘international farm to table approach’.  

They offer next day deliver on dozens of goods, including pasta, oil, rice, meat, champagne and tea.  

Categories
Headlines UK Liverpool

YouTube U-turn: TalkRadio reinstated after Covid rules criticism

Google has made a U-turn and reinstated TalkRadio’s YouTube channel after it was shut down amid claims the broadcaster ‘violated’ the website’s ‘community guidelines’ by airing criticism of coronavirus lockdowns.

News UK, which owns the radio station, had been urgently seeking a full explanation from the tech giant about the ‘nature of the breach’ that led to the account being removed from its platform. 

In what appeared to be an extraordinary clampdown, Google terminated the station’s YouTube channel at around 1am, reportedly for violating its ‘community guidelines’, according to Guido Fawkes.   

But TalkRadio’s YouTube channel is now back online, following a freedom of speech backlash led by senior minister Michael Gove and actor Laurence Fox, with civil liberties groups comparing Google’s ‘chilling attack’ to Chinese-style censorship. 

A YouTube spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘TalkRadio’s YouTube channel was briefly suspended, but upon further review, has now been reinstated. 

‘We quickly remove flagged content that violate our Community Guidelines, including COVID-19 content that explicitly contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO). 

‘We make exceptions for material posted with an educational, documentary, scientific or artistic purpose, as was deemed in this case.’ 

Former Brexit Party MEP Alex Phillips appeared on TalkRadio after the news broke, warning Britons to fear ‘cyber enterprises being governed by woke wannabes’.

TalkRadio presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer today denied that the broadcaster had flouted YouTube’s community guidelines, tweeting: ‘We simply challenge the evidence that lockdowns are a proportionate response to the Covid virus. It’s called free speech.’

The station has interviewed lockdown sceptics during the pandemic who doubt that massive restrictions on public life implemented by western governments can suppress the disease. 

In October 2020, the WHO said in a statement that lockdowns were needed to ‘suppress the virus and avoid health systems being overwhelmed’, but the measures were ‘not sustainable solutions because of their significant economic, social and broader health impacts’.  

YouTube has shut down TalkRadio’s channel after the broadcaster criticised lockdowns

Mike Graham

Julia Hartley-Brewer

TalkRadio presenters including Mike Graham (left) and Julia Hartley-Brewer (right) have criticised the Government’s use of lockdowns during the pandemic

TalkRadio presenter Ms Hartley-Brewer today denied that the broadcaster had flouted YouTube's community guidelines. 'We simply challenge the evidence that lockdowns are a proportionate response to the Covid virus. It's called free speech,' she tweeted

TalkRadio presenter Ms Hartley-Brewer today denied that the broadcaster had flouted YouTube’s community guidelines. ‘We simply challenge the evidence that lockdowns are a proportionate response to the Covid virus. It’s called free speech,’ she tweeted

Lockdown sceptic Peter Hitchens said: 'Are we any longer free if this sort of thing can happen?'

Lockdown sceptic Peter Hitchens said: ‘Are we any longer free if this sort of thing can happen?’

Dissenting experts who have challenged the lockdown policy have included Oxford epidemiologist Professor Sunetra Gupta, who co-authored the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration, and Irish engineer Ivor Cummins. 

Some of TalkRadio’s presenters, including Ms Hartley-Brewer, Mike Graham and Dan Wootton, have  criticised government measures to slow the spread of coronavirus as excessive or ill-targeted. 

Mr Graham has invited Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens onto his Independent Republic show every Monday for nearly a year to discuss the Government’s handling of the crisis. 

The radio station used YouTube to stream its live video content and archive old shows, and accrued tens of millions of views and 250,000 subscribers as its popularity soared last year. 

YouTube’s policies are supposedly in place to ‘protect’ its ‘community’, which means stopping the spread of misinformation about coronavirus along with conspiracy theories, hate speech or ‘other harmful content’. 

The company reviews each video that is flagged and will remove a video if it is deemed to violate these policies, issuing a strike. 

TalkRadio had issued a statement earlier today saying: ‘TalkRadio has not yet received any explanation about what aspect of the guidelines it is alleged that we have breached.

‘The channel is still removed by Google/YouTube.’

A spokesman for TalkRadio said: ‘YouTube is making decisions about which opinions the public are allowed to hear, even when they are sourced to responsible and regulated news providers.

‘This sets a dangerous precedent and is censorship of free speech and legitimate national debate.’

A spokesperson had earlier told MailOnline: ‘We urgently await a detailed response from Google/YouTube about the nature of the breach that has led to our channel being removed from its platform.

‘TalkRadio is an Ofcom-licensed and regulated broadcaster and has robust editorial controls in place, taking care to balance debate. 

‘We regularly interrogate government data and we have controls in place, use verifiable sources and give space to a careful selection of voices and opinions.’ 

TalkRadio later tweeted a poll which asked: ‘Will Britain’s freedoms ever fully return?’ 

TalkRadio: Its owner, hosts and controversies

TalkRadio is owned by News UK and is the sister station of national radio stations TalkSport and Times Radio.

It has about 424,000 listeners, according to the latest figures from market research provider Rajar. 

Its current presenters include Mike Graham, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Dan Wootton, and Mark Dolan.

TalkRadio has courted controversy since its relaunch in 2016.

Presenter James Whale was suspended over a July 2018 interview with an alleged sex assault victim that was said by the station to have ‘completely lacked sensitivity’.

He was given a week’s suspension and his show returned soon afterwards. He apologised to the alleged victim.

Broadcast watchdog Ofcom ruled in 2019 that two episodes of ex-MP George Galloway’s show on Labour Party anti-Semitism and the Salisbury poisoning breached impartiality rules. 

Galloway was sacked by the station in June 2019 for praising Liverpool FC for winning the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final instead of Tottenham Hotspur, a team with strong links to the Jewish community. 

Last September, Mark Dolan cut up a face mask while claiming they did not have a significant impact on the spread of coronavirus.

His action sparked a protest resignation by Jamie East, while Piers Morgan called Dolan’s behaviour ‘reckless and stupid’. 

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, which regulates TalkRadio, said: ‘This was a decision for YouTube. 

‘Like other UK stations, TalkRadio’s radio channel comes under our Broadcasting Code. When we assess programmes under our rules, we take account of a broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression, and the right of listeners to receive information and ideas.’  

YouTube has implemented a ‘COVID-19 medical misinformation policy’ which allows it to ban ‘content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authority information or World Health Organization (WHO) medical information about COVID-19’.

Examples of content which is banned from YouTube include ‘denial that COVID-19 exists’, ‘claims that people have not died from COVID-19’, and ‘videos alleging that social distancing and self-isolation are not effective in reducing the spread of the virus’. 

It warns YouTube users that it will remove content which violates the policy and give them a warning with no penalty if it is a first-time violation.

Google has a three-strike policy where channels that break its community guidelines three times within a 90-day period can be permanently banned. 

The tech giant has previously banned conspiracy theorist David Icke and suspended One America News Network for breaches of its Covid rules. 

However, a YouTube webpage states that the video streaming site is committed to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, claiming: ‘We believe people should be able to speak freely, share opinions, foster open dialogue, and that creative freedom leads to new voices, formats and possibilities.’

It also claims: ‘We believe everyone should have easy, open access to information and that video is a powerful force for education, building understanding, and documenting world events, big and small.’

Ofcom has also pledged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation that could cause serious harm, though no TalkRadio content about the disease has been subject to investigation by the watchdog. 

Michael Gove today blasted ‘Big Tech censorship’, telling Ms Hartley-Brewer on TalkRadio that lockdown critics ‘should be heard’.

‘I don’t believe in censorship, and we have a free and fair press, and we have commentators and interviewers of distinction who do criticise the Government’s position’, the Cabinet Office minister said. 

‘I respectfully disagree with them but I think it’s important that their voices are heard and that debate takes place.’ 

Ms Hartley-Brewer later tweeted that no one at the station ‘has ever endangered any lives or worked against the NHS’, adding: ‘Free speech, debate and questioning policies that destroy lives, livelihoods and freedoms are a good thing.’

Actor Laurence Fox, who has also criticised shutdowns, warned: ‘This is just the beginning’ – in a suggestion that more online anti-lockdown rhetoric could be removed.  

Toby Young, director-general of the Free Speech Union, called Google’s move ‘an assault on the freedom of the press’. 

Civil liberties group Big Brother Watch said the removal of the channel was ‘a bold censorship move that would make China proud’.  

Director Silkie Carlo told MailOnline: ‘YouTube’s termination of TalkRadio is evidence, if needed, that Big Tech censorship is out of control. 

‘This chilling attack on a broadcaster is the type of thing you see in China. It is no coincidence that TalkRadio is one of the loudest critics of the Government’s mismanagement of the pandemic, nor that the Government is pressuring Big Tech companies to increase censorship under ‘online harms’ policies.  

TalkRadio presenter Dan Wootton has also criticised the use of shutdowns to tackle Covid

TalkRadio presenter Dan Wootton has also criticised the use of shutdowns to tackle Covid

Dissenting experts who have spoken on TalkRadio include Oxford epidemiologist Professor Sunetra Gupta, who authored the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration

Dissenting experts who have spoken on TalkRadio include Oxford epidemiologist Professor Sunetra Gupta, who authored the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration

Actor Laurence Fox today tweeted: 'This is just the beginning'

Actor Laurence Fox today tweeted: ‘This is just the beginning’

Triggernometry YouTube channel host Konstantin Kisin said: 'Today is the day we can all be 100% certain that free speech is over'

Triggernometry YouTube channel host Konstantin Kisin said: ‘Today is the day we can all be 100% certain that free speech is over’

‘This assault on free expression must be resisted and overturned.’ 

Triggernometry YouTube channel host Konstantin Kisin said: ‘Today is the day we can all be 100% certain that free speech is over’. 

It comes as Mr Gove today admitted there was ‘no certainty’ that the brutal squeeze imposed by Boris Johnson on England last night will be eased at the end of February as hoped.

The PM set a goal of giving first doses of vaccine to more than 13 million vulnerable people over the next seven weeks, with doubts already voiced over whether it is possible.

But Mr Gove cautioned that even in the best case scenario not ‘all’ of the curbs will go, as he braced the weary public for a long haul to combat the fast-spreading new variant of coronavirus. 

Under the new guidance, primary and secondary schools will close, with only the vulnerable and offspring of key workers allowed to go in. 

Nurseries can stay open, but university students are being told to stay at home and study remotely – while GCSE and A-level exams will not go ahead as planned. 

Non-essential retail, all hospitality, gyms and swimming pools will be ordered to close – with Rishi Sunak due to lay out another package of support today amid growing fears about the impact on the economy.

Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve takeaway – but in a tightening from the draconian measures last spring, they will not be allowed to serve any alcohol. 

Vulnerable people are being told to shield where possible.

The public will once again only be allowed to leave home for one of five reasons: to go to work if essential, shop for necessities, exercise – allowed with one other person from another household, care for someone, or to seek medical help or flee threat such as domestic violence.

Communal worship can continue with social distancing in place.

Those who break the rules face a £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. 

YouTube’s ‘COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy’

YouTube implemented a 'COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy' last year to remove content that 'poses a serious risk of egregious harm'

YouTube implemented a ‘COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy’ last year to remove content that ‘poses a serious risk of egregious harm’

YouTube implemented a ‘COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy’ last year to remove content that ‘poses a serious risk of egregious harm’.

The webpage on ‘community guidelines’ states that users cannot upload content which includes treatment, prevention, diagnostic or transmission misinformation. 

A YouTube channel is terminated if it accrues three Community Guidelines strikes in 90 days, or is determined to be wholly dedicated to violating our guidelines. When a channel is terminated, all of its videos are removed. 

Treatment Misinformation

YouTube counts this as content which ‘discourages someone from seeking medical treatment by encouraging the use of cures or remedies to treat COVID-19’.

Examples include: 

  • Content that encourages the use of home remedies in place of medical treatment such as consulting a doctor or going to the hospital;
  • Content that encourages the use of prayer or rituals in place of medical treatment;
  • Content that claims that there’s a guaranteed cure for COVID-19;
  • Claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or WHO;
  • Content that claims that any currently-available medicine prevents you from getting the coronavirus;
  • Other content that discourages people from consulting a medical professional or seeking medical advice.

Prevention Misinformation

According to YouTube, users cannot upload content which ‘promotes prevention methods that contradict local health authorities or WHO’.

This could include:

  • Claims that there is a guaranteed prevention method for COVID-19;
  • Claims that an approved COVID-19 vaccine will cause death, infertility, or contraction of other infectious diseases;
  • Claims that an approved COVID-19 vaccine will contain substances that are not on the vaccine ingredient list, such as fetal tissue;
  • Claims that an approved COVID-19 vaccine will contain substances or devices meant to track or identify those who’ve received it;
  • Claims that an approved COVID-19 vaccine will alter a person’s genetic makeup;
  • Claims that any vaccine causes contraction of COVID-19;
  • Claims that a specific population will be required (by any entity except for a government) to take part in vaccine trials or receive the vaccine first.

Diagnostic Misinformation

YouTube claims this includes content ‘that promotes diagnostic methods that contradict local health authorities or WHO’.

Transmission Misinformation

Google, which owns YouTube, states that content which ‘promotes transmission information that contradicts local health authorities or WHO’ also cannot be uploaded.

It lists as examples:

  • Content that claims that COVID-19 is not caused by a viral infection;
  • Content that claims COVID-19 is not contagious;
  • Content that claims that COVID-19 cannot spread in certain climates or geographies;
  • Content that claims that any group or individual has immunity to the virus or cannot transmit the virus;
  • Content that disputes the efficacy of local health authorities’ or WHO’s guidance on physical distancing or self-isolation measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

Examples of banned content

YouTube would ban videos which contain the following information:

  • Denial that COVID-19 exists Claims that people have not died from COVID-19; 
  • Claims that any vaccine is a guaranteed prevention method for COVID-19; 
  • Claims that a specific treatment or medicine is a guaranteed cure for COVID-19; 
  • Claims that certain people have immunity to COVID-19 due to their race or nationality; 
  • Encouraging taking home remedies instead of getting medical treatment when sick; 
  • Discouraging people from consulting a medical professional if they’re sick; 
  • Content that claims that holding your breath can be used as a diagnostic test for COVID-19; 
  • Videos alleging that if you avoid Asian food, you won’t get the coronavirus; 
  • Videos alleging that setting off fireworks can clean the air of the virus and will prevent the spread of the virus;
  • Claims that COVID-19 is caused by radiation from 5G networks Videos alleging that the COVID-19 test is the cause of the virus; 
  • Claims that countries with hot climates will not experience the spread of the virus;
  • Videos alleging that social distancing and self-isolation are not effective in reducing the spread of the virus; 
  • Claims that the COVID-19 vaccine will kill people who receive it; 
  • Claims that the COVID-19 vaccine will be used as a means of population reduction;
  • Videos claiming that the COVID-19 vaccine will contain fetal tissue Claims that the flu vaccine causes contraction of COVID-19; 
  • Claims that the COVID-19 vaccine causes contraction of other infectious diseases or makes people more vulnerable to contraction of other infectious diseases; 
  • Claims that the COVID-19 vaccine will contain a microchip or tracking device.
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Coronavirus UK: NHS hospitals treating MORE patients than in spring

Two thirds of hospitals currently have more Covid patients than they did on England’s worst day in April last year when the pandemic first exploded, official figures show as Number 10 last night shifted back to another national lockdown to ‘protect the NHS’.

There were a record 26,000 infected patients in hospital beds across England on January 2, the most recent day data is available for, and doctors warn admissions are still accelerating as the second wave rages on.  

Boris Johnson last night announced the toughest lockdown since spring amid fears the resurgence of the virus, driven by a super-infectious new variant, will cause hospitals to be overwhelmed by the virus within weeks. 

London yesterday reported 828 new coronavirus patients were admitted to hospital on January 2, in the highest daily toll for nine months and close to the record of 883 back in March.

And analysis of official statistics shows some hospitals in hard-hit areas such as Kent and East Sussex are seeing up to three times as many coronavirus patients as they did on April 12, the point of the first wave at which patient numbers were highest.

NHS staff from across the country say caring for surging numbers of people is becoming more and more difficult, with one London hospital last week declaring it was in ‘disaster’ mode. One doctor said medics in some badly hit areas are already having to decide how to ration ventilators for intensive care patients and face ‘horrifying’ choices at work.

Chief of healthcare union NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said the spike in Covid inpatients since Christmas alone was enough to fill 18 hospitals. And the Royal College of Surgeons’s president, Professor Neil Mortensen, warned that patient numbers are now so high that cancer operations may have to be sidelined again. There was chaos in spring when non-urgent ops were cancelled and the NHS is now fighting its way through a backlog of thousands.

NHS England statistics show that, in the most recent data from December 29, 81 out of 127 major hospital trusts had more Covid patients than on April 12.

Many of the worst affected are in the South East and London, where the new fast-spreading variant of the virus has taken hold, with those regions now making up a majority of the daily positive tests being reported.

Hospitals in the North West, which endured the full force of the second wave earlier in the autumn, have now seen patient numbers drop to more manageable levels. The new strain of the virus is not yet spreading as widely in the North of the country. 

Graph shows the NHS hospital trusts that have the highest number of Covid-19 patients now compared to in April, with many hospitals seeing three or even four times as many people with the disease than they did at the height of the first wave

Mr Hopson said last night that there has been ‘another steep rise in the number of Covid cases, and the number of patients being admitted to hospital is also rising at an alarming rate. 

‘There are almost 9,000 more Covid patients in hospital beds – the equivalent of nearly 18 hospitals – than there was on Christmas Day, just 10 days ago. 

‘We know that number is going to continue to rise over the next few weeks. The lockdown announcement will help, but only if everyone follows the rules.’

WHICH HOSPITALS HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE PATIENTS THAN IN THE SPRING?

Almost two thirds of hospitals in England had more Covid-19 patients at the end of December than they did on April 12, which was the worst day for England as a whole during the first wave.

The worst-affected hospitals now are mostly in the South of England, but NHS trusts in the North experienced similar spikes in patients at the start of the second wave in the autumn.

Hospital trusts listed below had the biggest difference between total patient numbers in April and December, measured in raw numbers not adjusted for hospital size.

Covid patients on April 12, 2020 

Covid patients on Dec 29, 2020

Mid/South Essex

East Kent 

Maidstone

Portsmouth 

East Sussex

Barking, Havering

Frimley Health 

North Midlands

Dartford

Hull University

374

143  

85

130

68

171

276

134

79

44

785

415

299

342

257

356

453

304

241

191

NHS figures show that on the worst day in the first wave, April 12, there were 18,974 people with Covid-19 in England’s hospitals.

On December 29 this was 21,787. It has since spiralled to 26,626 but hospital-by-hospital data is not yet available for the extra 5,000 patients.

December’s data shows that London has the greatest number of Covid patients in hospital – in part because it has the biggest population – but there have been far sharper rises in the South East and the East of England.

In the East of the country, inpatient numbers are 74 per cent higher than they were in the spring, with 2,922 patients on December 29 compared to 1,679 on April 12.

There were 62 per cent more in the South East – 3,796 compared to 2,342.

In London, the Midlands and the South West, there were between eight and nine per cent more patients at the end of December than at the country’s peak in April.

But the North East, North West and Yorkshire all now have fewer inpatients than they did nine months ago. 

Many hospitals in the North, however, experienced the same spiralling pressures now being seen in the South at the start of the first wave in September, October and November, when cases were still low in other parts of the country.

Mid and South Essex NHS trust, which runs hospitals in Southend, Basildon and Chelmsford, is one of the ones to have seen the biggest spike in patients during the second wave. On December 29 it had 785 people on wards with Covid-19, which was 411 more than double the 374 on April 12, England’s peak.

East Kent Hospitals has seen admissions almost three times as high, with 415 patients compared to 143, while the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust had 3.5 times as many patients in December: 299 compared to 85. 

The UK’s chief medical officers warned last night that there is a risk the health service could be overwhelmed within weeks as they upgraded the coronavirus risk level to the maximum level five.

In a letter written by the UK’s four CMOs – who include Professor Chris Whitty – and NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis said: ‘Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK chief medical officers and NHS England medical director recommend that the UK alert level should move from Level 4 to Level 5.

‘Many parts of the health systems in the four nations are already under immense pressure. There are currently very high rates of community transmission, with substantial numbers of Covid patients in hospitals and in intensive care.

‘Cases are rising almost everywhere, in much of the country driven by the new more transmissible variant. We are not confident that the NHS can handle a further sustained rise in cases and without further action there is a material risk of the NHS in several areas being overwhelmed over the next 21 days.

‘Although the NHS is under immense pressure, significant changes have been made so people can still receive lifesaving treatment.

‘It is absolutely critical that people still come forward for emergency care. If you require non-urgent medical attention, please contact your GP or call NHS 111.’

 

Surgeons have warned that the rising numbers of patients being seen across the country could mean that cancer operations fall by the wayside again.

Record number of sick patients are waiting 12 hours on a stretcher

NHS figures yesterday revealed a record number of very sick patients waited on trolleys in A&E during December.

The data, seen by the Health Service Journal, shows that more than 2,930 people spent at least 12 hours in A&E departments.

Nearly half of these were in London.

The previous highest number of 12-hour trolley waits – the time between arriving at A&E and receiving a bed – was 2,847 in January 2020.

The provisional figures – which will probably increase -are set to be published officially by NHS England next week. 

Vice president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Adrian Boyle told The Times: ‘No one needs to spend 12 hours in an emergency department. 

‘Not only is it undignified for patients, but studies have found that the longer a patient waits for admission to a hospital bed, the greater the risk of death.’

He added: ‘These waits usually result from a lack of inpatient beds and staff, and — as well as putting the patient at risk — lead to further dangerous crowding and corridor care within the emergency department. 

He said the more patients there are on stretchers, the more difficult it is to administer care in an already-strained A&E.

Doctors were already trying to make their way through a backlog of millions of non-Covid patients before the second wave struck, and this progress is now threatened again despite officials saying cancelling routine operations again would be unthinkable.

The first operations to be postponed are non-urgent ones for conditions that aren’t life-threatening, such as joint replacements and cataracts. More serious procedures such as organ surgeries or cancer operations are kept going for longer until health bosses have no choice but to cancel them due to a lack of staff or recovery beds.

Professor Neil Mortensen, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, warned the situation in hospitals is getting ‘much worse’, and escalating faster than the ‘slow-motion car crash’ he previously predicted.

King’s College Hospital in south London has already called off all ‘priority 2’ cancer operations, procedures which specialists have judged to be urgent and need to be done within 28 days of a decision to undertake them.

It is feared other hospitals in the country may face the same difficult decision in the coming days if admissions don’t start to fall.

Professor Mortensen told Times Radio: ‘My colleagues in London doing ward rounds, for example, report that there are problems with staff numbers on the wards, staff numbers in theatres.

‘And then of course if you need to go to the intensive care unit, if the intensive care unit is full of Covid patients there’s no room for you.

‘So it’s a really serious situation and, obviously, the less-priority operations have already stopped in many places – hips, knees, ENT (ear nose and throat) procedures.

‘We’re now concerned about operations like cancer surgeries being cancelled or postponed because there just isn’t the capacity to be able to manage them.’

He added: ‘I think if you have a delayed operation for cancer that may have an effect.

‘If you come in from a road traffic accident and you’re seriously ill, and you need to go to an intensive care unit afterwards and there is no intensive care unit, that’s going to have serious consequences.

‘And that’s why everybody is so concerned right now that we are properly locked down, that we’re as far as we possibly can reducing the transmission of the virus, and making it possible for what facilities we do have to carry on working effectively to keep people alive.’

IS YOUR HOSPITAL BUSIER NOW THAN IT WAS IN THE FIRST WAVE OF CORONAVIRUS LAST YEAR? (NHS England data) 
NHS Trust name Covid-19 patients on
April 12, 2020
Covid-19 patients on
 December 29, 2020
Difference (+/-) % difference
MID AND SOUTH ESSEX NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 374 785 411 110%
EAST KENT HOSPITALS UNIVERSITY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 143 415 272 190%
MAIDSTONE AND TUNBRIDGE WELLS NHS TRUST 85 299 214 252%
PORTSMOUTH HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 130 342 212 163%
EAST SUSSEX HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST 68 257 189 278%
BARKING, HAVERING AND REDBRIDGE UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 171 356 185 108%
FRIMLEY HEALTH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 276 453 177 64%
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF NORTH MIDLANDS NHS TRUST 134 304 170 127%
DARTFORD AND GRAVESHAM NHS TRUST 79 241 162 205%
HULL UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 44 191 147 334%
MEDWAY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 106 253 147 139%
EAST SUFFOLK AND NORTH ESSEX NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 123 264 141 115%
WEST HERTFORDSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 129 270 141 109%
UNITED LINCOLNSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 72 201 129 179%
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF LEICESTER NHS TRUST 195 304 109 56%
THE QUEEN ELIZABETH HOSPITAL, KING’S LYNN, NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 51 159 108 212%
MILTON KEYNES UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 66 171 105 159%
NORTH TEES AND HARTLEPOOL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 73 166 93 127%
NORFOLK AND NORWICH UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 77 168 91 118%
WEST SUFFOLK NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 36 126 90 250%
BARTS HEALTH NHS TRUST 559 638 79 14%
NORTHAMPTON GENERAL HOSPITAL NHS TRUST 104 181 77 74%
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF DERBY AND BURTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 225 302 77 34%
NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 210 283 73 35%
NORTH WEST ANGLIA NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 78 150 72 92%
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS BRISTOL AND WESTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 81 150 69 85%
LEWISHAM AND GREENWICH NHS TRUST 286 346 60 21%
BEDFORDSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 180 239 59 33%
HOMERTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 90 149 59 66%
GLOUCESTERSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 148 207 59 40%
SHERWOOD FOREST HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 53 111 58 109%
NORTH MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL NHS TRUST 226 283 57 25%
EAST LANCASHIRE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 122 179 57 47%
DONCASTER AND BASSETLAW TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 67 121 54 81%
YEOVIL DISTRICT HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 14 66 52 371%
COUNTESS OF CHESTER HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 120 170 50 42%
EAST AND NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE NHS TRUST 65 112 47 72%
NORTHERN LINCOLNSHIRE AND GOOLE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 70 114 44 63%
BARNSLEY HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 63 106 43 68%
OXFORD UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 125 167 42 34%
KINGSTON HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 101 142 41 41%
THE PRINCESS ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL NHS TRUST 109 147 38 35%
CROYDON HEALTH SERVICES NHS TRUST 153 191 38 25%
WHITTINGTON HEALTH NHS TRUST 83 121 38 46%
EPSOM AND ST HELIER UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 148 185 37 25%
BRIGHTON AND SUSSEX UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 107 141 34 32%
SOUTH TYNESIDE AND SUNDERLAND NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 200 231 31 16%
ST GEORGE’S UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 219 249 30 14%
THE ROTHERHAM NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 70 100 30 43%
EAST CHESHIRE NHS TRUST 57 87 30 53%
LANCASHIRE TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 132 162 30 23%
ROYAL BERKSHIRE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 142 169 27 19%
ROYAL DEVON AND EXETER NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 54 81 27 50%
THE HILLINGDON HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 102 128 26 25%
COUNTY DURHAM AND DARLINGTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 129 155 26 20%
SURREY AND SUSSEX HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST 128 152 24 19%
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS DORSET NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 76 99 23 30%
SOMERSET NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 32 55 23 72%
ASHFORD AND ST PETER’S HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 114 136 22 19%
WYE VALLEY NHS TRUST 31 51 20 65%
WESTERN SUSSEX HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 77 96 19 25%
WARRINGTON AND HALTON TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 98 112 14 14%
NORTHERN DEVON HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST 15 28 13 87%
BLACKPOOL TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 117 129 12 10%
SHEFFIELD TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 261 272 11 4%
WRIGHTINGTON, WIGAN AND LEIGH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 93 104 11 12%
BRADFORD TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 88 97 9 10%
SALISBURY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 38 47 9 24%
SALFORD ROYAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 136 144 8 6%
THE DUDLEY GROUP NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 122 129 7 6%
SOUTH WARWICKSHIRE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 75 81 6 8%
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS COVENTRY AND WARWICKSHIRE NHS TRUST 142 148 6 4%
GEORGE ELIOT HOSPITAL NHS TRUST 69 75 6 9%
BIRMINGHAM WOMEN’S AND CHILDREN’S NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 5 11 6 120%
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF MORECAMBE BAY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 130 136 6 5%
ROYAL UNITED HOSPITALS BATH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 43 48 5 12%
GREAT WESTERN HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 64 69 5 8%
KETTERING GENERAL HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 69 73 4 6%
ISLE OF WIGHT NHS TRUST 19 23 4 21%
CHELSEA AND WESTMINSTER HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 243 244 1 0%
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST 86 87 1 1%
SHEFFIELD CHILDREN’S NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 1 0 -1 -100%
DORSET COUNTY HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 17 16 -1 -6%
WORCESTERSHIRE ACUTE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 128 125 -3 -2%
MID YORKSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 165 161 -4 -2%
ROYAL CORNWALL HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 32 27 -5 -16%
ROYAL SURREY COUNTY HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 63 55 -8 -13%
SHREWSBURY AND TELFORD HOSPITAL NHS TRUST 77 68 -9 -12%
ROYAL FREE LONDON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 410 400 -10 -2%
TORBAY AND SOUTH DEVON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 23 13 -10 -43%
ALDER HEY CHILDREN’S NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 11 0 -11 -100%
CHESTERFIELD ROYAL HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 65 52 -13 -20%
YORK TEACHING HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 108 94 -14 -13%
TAMESIDE AND GLOSSOP INTEGRATED CARE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 74 58 -16 -22%
HARROGATE AND DISTRICT NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 34 12 -22 -65%
CALDERDALE AND HUDDERSFIELD NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 93 71 -22 -24%
JAMES PAGET UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 74 50 -24 -32%
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 160 133 -27 -17%
STOCKPORT NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 117 90 -27 -23%
SANDWELL AND WEST BIRMINGHAM HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 214 186 -28 -13%
NORTH BRISTOL NHS TRUST 107 77 -30 -28%
AIREDALE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 58 26 -32 -55%
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 122 87 -35 -29%
KING’S COLLEGE HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 509 474 -35 -7%
GUY’S AND ST THOMAS’ NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 303 267 -36 -12%
HAMPSHIRE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 139 103 -36 -26%
SOUTH TEES HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 145 102 -43 -30%
SOUTHPORT AND ORMSKIRK HOSPITAL NHS TRUST 104 59 -45 -43%
BOLTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 141 95 -46 -33%
LONDON NORTH WEST UNIVERSITY HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST 357 310 -47 -13%
NORTH CUMBRIA INTEGRATED CARE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 152 103 -49 -32%
NORTHUMBRIA HEALTHCARE NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 134 84 -50 -37%
WIRRAL UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 128 78 -50 -39%
UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL SOUTHAMPTON NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 166 110 -56 -34%
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS PLYMOUTH NHS TRUST 89 28 -61 -69%
PENNINE ACUTE HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 259 193 -66 -25%
THE ROYAL WOLVERHAMPTON NHS TRUST 228 154 -74 -32%
GATESHEAD HEALTH NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 114 39 -75 -66%
IMPERIAL COLLEGE HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST 334 256 -78 -23%
LEEDS TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 230 148 -82 -36%
MID CHESHIRE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 85 -85 -100%
WALSALL HEALTHCARE NHS TRUST 180 94 -86 -48%
THE NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 141 53 -88 -62%
ST HELENS AND KNOWSLEY TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS TRUST 153 51 -102 -67%
MANCHESTER UNIVERSITY NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 414 270 -144 -35%
LIVERPOOL UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 346 179 -167 -48%
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS BIRMINGHAM NHS FOUNDATION TRUST 694 509 -185 -27%
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The jet engine inventor’s idea to help the RAF was ignored by minsters

A proposal by the future inventor of the jet engine for an interceptor fighter plane was ignored by the British government two years before the Blitz, a newly discovered memo has revealed.

Sir Frank Whittle described how his design for powering aircraft would allow the RAF to combat Luftwaffe bombers if they attempted to take over Britain’s skies.

In a 1938 letter to the Air Ministry, Whittle even estimated the speeds that an aircraft powered by his engine would achieve at sea level as well as 10,000ft and 20,000ft.

‘The primary function of the interceptor fighter is to carry a pilot and his machine guns to within the vicinity of a raiding bomber for a sufficient length of time to enable him to achieve its destruction, preferably before it has reached its target,’ he said at the time.

A proposal by Sir Frank Whittle (bottom right), the future inventor of the jet engine for an interceptor fighter plane, was ignored by the British government two years before the Blitz

He believed the new fighter would have ‘so substantial an advance in performance’, that it would double the chances of a successful interception of an enemy aircraft.

But there is no record of the Air Ministry ever replying, and Britain’s ‘faffing about’ meant a six-year wait until the project, which could have saved hundreds of lives in the Blitz, being fully realised.

Now a new book detailing Whittle’s extraordinary life also looks into the missed opportunity by officials to turn a groundbreaking invention into a decisive weapon in the Second World War. 

‘It’s quite a startling piece,’ Duncan Campbell-Smith, author of Jet Man, told The Times of the memo discovered in Whittle’s archive at Churchill College, Cambridge.

‘[Whittle] definitely sent it but I don’t think he ever received a reply. It encapsulates the whole story. The Brits faff about. They don’t get into it until too late in the war. The more I read, the more I realised how very badly he had been treated.’

Whittle described how his design for a new type of aircraft would allow the RAF to combat Luftwaffe bombers if they attempted to take over Britain's skies

Whittle described how his design for a new type of aircraft would allow the RAF to combat Luftwaffe bombers if they attempted to take over Britain’s skies

Though once rejected from the RAF on physical grounds, Whittle later made a successful application to the force and joined as an apprentice at RAF Cranwell in 1923. 

Academically gifted, he was recommended for a cadetship and began RAF College at Cranwell, where students would write a scientific thesis every six months.

While studying, Whittle suggested the idea of a jet engine, which sucked in air, compressed and ignited it, then blasted it out of the back, propelling the plane forward.

He believed that the idea was the future of aviation and would propel planes, capable of flying at around 200mph at the time, at speeds of up to 500mph. 

Even his lecturers found it difficult to comprehend, with one writing: ‘I couldn’t quite following everything you have written Whittle. But I can’t find anything wrong with it.’

The Blitz began on September 7, 1940, and was the most intense bombing campaign Britain has ever seen

The Blitz began on September 7, 1940, and was the most intense bombing campaign Britain has ever seen

But Whittle struggled to attract any interest in the inter-war period of the late 1920s, and so made his designs public by registering a patent in 1930.

Yet the RAF refused to put it on the secrets list so when the patent was granted in October 1932, engineers from the Third Reich were free to analyse the plans. 

Famous German engineer Hans von Ohain would later tell him: ‘If your government had backed you sooner the Battle of Britain would never have happened.’

But the Ministry of Aircraft Production was sceptical and regarded it as a distraction from the urgent need to put enough fighters into the air to drive back the Nazis.

They did however give the project to the Rover car company, Campbell-Smith said, because some ‘very high-up people’, including Winston Churchill, had seen it and couldn’t ignore the idea completely.

But Rover never produced a engine that made it into the air. 

Finally, Wilfrid Freeman, vice-chief of staff for the RAF, intervened and arranged for Rolls-Royce to take on the project. By early 1944 its engine was in the air, powering a Gloster Meteor which would reach speeds of 600mph.

Those present at a test flight were astonished to see a plane without a propeller take to the skies, and Sir Winston Churchill was said to have been so impressed that he said: ‘I want 1,000 Whittles’. 

Eventually it was the Americans who would seize on the opportunities provided by the jet engine, and he would be forced by the British Government to hand over the technology.

Whittle’s son Ian, 86, recalled that his father threw everything into his work when war came.

‘When the war started he got very serious. He would disappear in his uniform in the morning and get back after I went to bed. He got so used to the British government sticking the knife into him. By 1948 his health was so destroyed that he resigned from the RAF.’ 

Whittle retired with the rank of Air Commodore on the grounds of ill health in 1948 and was finally recognised for his achievements.

He was knighted and awarded £100,000 (equivalent to £3.3million today) by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors and later married American Hazel Hall and emigrated to the US, where he died in 1996. 

How the Blitz was the most intense bombing campaign Britain has ever seen – claiming more than 40,000 lives

A boy retrieves an item from a rubble-strewn street after German bombing raids in the first month of the Blitz, September 1940

A boy retrieves an item from a rubble-strewn street of East London after German bombing raids in the first month of the Blitz, September 1940

The Blitz began on September 7, 1940, and was the most intense bombing campaign Britain has ever seen.

Named after the German word ‘Blitzkrieg’, meaning lightning war, the Blitz claimed the lives of more than 40,000 civilians.

Between September 7, 1940, and May 21, 1941, there were major raids across the UK with more than 20,000 tonnes of explosives dropped on 16 British cities.

London was attacked 71 times and bombed by the Luftwaffe for 57 consecutive nights.

The City and the East End bore the brunt of the bombing in the capital with the course of the Thames being used to guide German bombers. Londoners came to expect heavy raids during full-moon periods and these became known as ‘bombers’moons’.

More than one million London houses were destroyed or damaged and of those who were killed in the bombing campaign, more than half of them were from London.

In addition to London’s streets, several other UK cities – targeted as hubs of the island’s industrial and military capabilities – were battered by Luftwaffe bombs including Glasgow, Liverpool, Plymouth, Cardiff, Belfast and Southampton and many more.

Deeply-buried shelters provided the most protection against a direct hit, although in 1939 the government refused to allow tube stations to be used as shelters so as not to interfere with commuter travel.

However, by the second week of heavy bombing in the Blitz the government relented and ordered the stations to be opened. Each day orderly lines of people queued until 4pm, when they were allowed to enter the stations.

Despite the blanket bombing of the capital, some landmarks remained intact – such as St Paul’s Cathedral, which was virtually unharmed, despite many buildings around it being reduced to rubble.

Hitler intended to demoralise Britain before launching an invasion using his naval and ground forces. The Blitz came to an end towards the end of May 1941, when Hitler set his sights on invading the Soviet Union.

Other UK cities which suffered during the Blitz included Coventry, where saw its medieval cathedral destroyed and a third of its houses made uninhabitable, while Liverpool and Merseyside was the most bombed area outside London. 

There was also major bombing in Birmingham, where 53 people were killed in an arms works factory, and Bristol, where the Germans dropped 1,540 tons of high explosives and 12,500 incendiaries in one night – killing 207 people.