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Mark Drakeford Attacks Westminster ‘Failure’ Over Fuel Crisis

Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford attacks Westminster ‘failure’ over fuel crisis

The Welsh first minister has launched a strong attack on the UK government, claiming that a combination of ideology, incompetence and malevolence had resulted in the fuel crisis and is leaving the most vulnerable people facing one of the most difficult winters for years.

Mark Drakeford raised concern about the UK’s more relaxed approach to Covid restrictions, suggesting this seemed to be prompting some people in England take more risks.

Drakeford also expressed frustration over the lack of communication between the prime minister and the devolved governments, revealing that Boris Johnson had not spoken to him since the start of June.

The first minister said the HGV and fuel crisis was a “dreadful failure” by the UK government. “It is not caused by short-term panic,” he said. “This is an issue known for months and months and they [the UK government] have wilfully refused to deal with it for nakedly ideological reasons. They are not prepared to face up to the fact that Brexit lies at the root of the problem, and were unwilling to take the most obvious form of action, which was to allow people who have previously worked successfully in the UK to have access to the jobs we cannot fill.”

He said he had heard about the plan to allow foreign HGV drivers in for a few months before Christmas, nicknamed the “Ebenezer visa”. “On Christmas Eve we will say thank you, we don’t need you any more. It is so wrong-headed, so exploitative. It will not succeed.”

Drakeford called the £20 cut in universal credit “beyond disgraceful”, claiming it meant that each week by Wednesday and Thursday the poorest people would be wondering where food for the weekend would come from. He said many of those same people were facing increases in fuel and energy bills and national insurance contributions.

The first minister said the UK government was guilty of a “combination of incompetence and malevolence”. “It’s a pretty difficult combination. Since the reshuffle we’ve had the fuel crisis, the gas crisis, the energy crisis. For a fresh start it’s not got off the best.”

Drakeford said he believed the last time he spoke to Johnson was the start of June. He said there was no date in the diary for another meeting. As a supporter of the union, the first minister expressed disappointment at the lack of contact. “I hope one will happen soon, it will be useful,” he said.

Speaking to the Guardian in the almost deserted Welsh government’s Cathays Park offices in Cardiff – staff are working from home wherever possible – Drakeford said Wales was intent on remaining cautious over Covid.

“Coronavirus is absolutely not over. The numbers are far too high, the pressures on our hospitals are real. Our view is we need to build our defences as high as we reasonably can. For us that is building them higher than the UK government for England has chosen.”

People in Wales will have to show an NHS Covid pass to enter nightclubs and attend many events from next month. Residents of Wales have been told to work from home when they can, and firmer action is to be taken against people who do not wear face coverings when legally required to do so, for example in shops or on public transport.

Drakeford said measures that were part of Johnson’s “plan B” were in his “plan A”.

The first minister made his first trip out of Wales in many months to attend the Labour conference in Brighton and was surprised at how few people were wearing masks.

“On the whole you still see people in Wales understanding it’s a very small thing you’re being asked to do but it adds up to another important protection. There is a different attitude across the border.”

Drakeford said he was worried that flu would put the health service under even greater pressure this winter.

“The health service is flat out. We’re relying on people who are exhausted and scarred by what they have gone through. Our social care system is under real pressure. We do not have the pool of workers who are able to travel freely from other parts of Europe. All of these things combine to make the social care part of our system challenged. We are right to be anxious.”

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Health

12 State Governors Owing Us, Health Workers Cry Out

The Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria MHWUN, has cried out that governors of 12 states of Nigeria are unfair to their members by owing them several years of salary arrears and also failed to standardise their payments .

The medical body noted that the worst of it all is that these governors have failed to implement the N30,000 new minimum wage that has become a law in the country.

They said the governors have subjected them to harrowing life.

The MHWUN National Vice President , Femi Adebisi stated this in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital at the weekend during the 2022 international youth day organized by the South West leadership of the union, under the theme , ‘Intergenerational solidarity : creating a world for all ages.’

Adebisi said the welfare of health workers remains the only recipe to the recurrent brain drain crippling the health sector.

He however, did not identify the affected 12 states.

“We have nothing less than 12 states that are owing health workers their entitlements.We are engaging them as a union and we are hoping the governors and everyone concern will do the needful soon”, he stated.

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Health

Pay Hazard Allowance To Health Workers, NLC Urges F.G

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Ayuba Wabba, has urged the Federal Government to immediately begin the payment of hazard allowance to health workers in the country.

Wabba made the call at the 2022 annual Federal Capital Territory Nurses Week/Scientific Workshop of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives on Thursday in Abuja.

At the workshop with the theme, “Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health,” Wabba said the allowance has been reviewed but payment is yet to begin.

“Many health workers have fallen victim to diseases in taking care of patients. I salute the nurses and Midwives, your reward is not only in heaven but here on earth. I urge you to learn so you can discharge quality healthcare service to Nigerians.

“The payment of hazard allowance will boost the morale of our health workers in the country”, he added.

 

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Health

Cholera Outbreak Kills 10 In Gombe

Gombe state government has declared an outbreak of cholera after ten deaths were recorded across the state.

This was made public by Habu Dahiru, Gombe commissioner for health,  on Thursday.

Dahiru, who was represented by Abdulrahman Shuaibu, executive secretary of the Gombe Primary Health Care Development Agency, said as of September 20, 236 cases of cholera had been recorded in the state.

“This year, from June, we had sporadic cases of cholera in Balanga LGA and because of the preparedness and prompt response; it has been largely subdued without escalation,” he said.

These outbreaks are recorded in eight wards across Balanga, Yamaltu-Deba, Nafada, Funakaye and Gombe LGA of the state.

“The state ministry of health has promptly initiated public health actions for prevention and control of the disease.

“As of September 20, there was an increase in the number of cases in Gombe state as 236 cases have been listed so far.”

The commissioner said increased downpour of rain and flooding in many parts of the state led to the cholera outbreak.

He said decontamination of wells and boreholes in affected communities would be carried out and distribution of water treatment tablets in all affected communities would be conducted.

 

 

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