Government ministers are said to be meeting later today to decide whether or not to scrap mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for NHS staff in England.
According to reports, it’s thought that around 77,000 NHS staff in England are currently unvaccinated, but, as announced last November, all frontline workers must be fully-vaccinated by 1 April, meaning they need a first dose by Thursday, and if they are not jabbed by that date, they will be redeployed or dismissed.
Yet, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been under growing pressure to scrap the rule.
After there have been significant concerns that the sector could be left with a massive staffing crisis due to the number of workers refusing to be vaccinated, the Health Secretary said last week that the jabs requirement was being “kept under review”.
Although he said that he believes it’s the “professional duty” of NHS staff to get vaccinated, Mr Javid told the Health and Social Care Select Committee last Tuesday that, when the mandatory vaccination policy was announced, the dominant COVID variant was Delta, and it was right to “reflect” now Omicron was dominant.
It is understood that no final decisions have been made as of yet, but the Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that Mr Javid will meet ministers on the COVID operations cabinet committee today, where he is expected to confirm the U-turn.
The newspaper said the government is ending the policy because Omicron is milder than previous variants of the virus.
These recent reports that the government ministers are meeting today comes just a week after the Department Of Health And Social Care said there were no plans to change the policy as it was “the right thing to do to protect patients”, despite previous reports suggesting ministers were considering a delay in its implementation.
The UK Health Security Agency says vaccines have proven to be effective against hospitalisation, mortality, infection and transmission.
But both the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) had urged for the deadline of mandatory vaccination to be postponed and the British Medical Association called for an “urgent impact assessment” on how the policy would affect staffing numbers.
Patricia Marquis – Director of RCN in England – said: “If these reports are correct, this climbdown by government is long overdue.
“Vaccination is hugely important but this was the wrong policy, especially as it added to the current pressure on NHS and care services, and it was never in the interests of patient safety to threaten tens of thousands with dismissal in the middle of staffing crisis.
“We will continue to support government and employers to make the case for vaccination.”
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Mancunian has been named one of the ‘most attractive’ accents in the UK
Manchester is, once again, celebrating what we already know – our accent is one of the “most attractive” in the UK.
In case you missed it, earlier this year, Manchester welcomed in 2023 with the news that our city’s accent had been named the “sexiest” the country has to offer – with a survey of 2,500 people by casino comparison site Best Casinos discovering that over half of respondents ranked it the most pleasing regional accent to the ear.
And now it turns out that that survey wasn’t a fluke, because a new study has called the Manchester accent one of the “most attractive” in the UK.
But while there’s no doubt we can hold our heads high and be proud of claiming a spot in the top 10, this title does become a bit less impressive when you realise which other regional varieties have placed higher than us.
Fellow Northern accents Scouse and Geordie have taken second and third place on the list respectably, and the Welsh capital’s Cardiff accent rounding out the top five.
For us northerners, the grim reading continues when you learn that the London accent has clinched the top spot.
The Most Attractive Accents in the UK
According to Preply, 21% of women survey respondents voted for the London accent as the most attractive in the UK, compared with just 15% of men, while 10.4% of the population picked the unique sound of the Liverpool accent as second best.
Only 8.7% of survey respondents considered the Mancunian accent to be the most attractive.
The results from this survey do, at least, go some way to shattering the findings from two surveys published last year that found the Manchester accent is considered to be one of the ‘least respected’ nationwide, especially in the corporate world of work, and that Northerners with strong accents are considered ‘less intelligent’.
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The first bright yellow Bee Network bus has hit the streets of Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester residents will soon start to see bright yellow double decker buses travelling the region’s streets in the coming weeks.
With exactly six months to go before Greater Manchester “brings buses back under local control”, Mayor Andy Burnham has joined a number of other local leaders in unveiling the brand-new ‘Bee Network’ co-branded buses.
In what marks the biggest change to transport in Greater Manchester for almost 40 years, according to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), bus operator Diamond – which currently runs services in Bolton – has teamed up with Go North West to run the first franchised services in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury from September this year.
Diamond has agreed to start transforming their buses into Bee Network ones from this week, with more set to appear on the roads every month.
The first bright yellow double decker bus has now hit the streets of Bolton, and is serving the number 8 route – which connects Bolton and Manchester city centre via Farnworth and Salford.
As already announced by TfGM and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), when franchising is officially introduced on 24 September 2023, 50 brand-new electric Bee Network buses will hit the streets on day one, alongside new ‘Euro VI’ vehicles, and dozens more co-branded buses from the existing fleet.
A further 50 electric buses will then be introduced onto the network in March 2024, which is when the second part of franchising starts.
All of the 270 new electric Bee Network buses will be fully accessible, with wheelchair bays, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems, and anti-slip flooring.
Mayor Andy Burnham said the first Bee Network bus entering service is “very much the start of our journey”, and added that the scheme will “ultimately deliver a greener, integrated and more inclusive transport system that will transform how people travel around our city-region.”
Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt also called the first bus’s introduction onto the streets as “a further significant step” towards the integration of the Bee Network and the “transformation” of public transport and active travel in the region.
He continued: “From September we’ll also have dozens of new state-of-the-art buses serving passengers in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury.
“These will be the first of many across Greater Manchester that will, alongside the new lower fares – which are already increasing ridership – and improvements to travel information, improve bus travel for everyone who lives and works here.”