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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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Kwara approves 100% consolidated health salary structure for nurses

The Kwara State government has approved and implemented a 100% Consolidated Health Salary Structure, (CONHESS) for nurses in the state.

Also, the state government has recruited about 63 nurses to fill the vacuum created by the brain drain in the country to improve the quality and standard of nursing care in line with the global best practices.

The Chairman and Secretary of the Kwara State Council of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Aminu Shehu and Markus Luka respectively, disclosed this in a statement in Ilorin made available to journalists.

The association appreciated the Executive Secretary of the state Hospital Management Bureau for playing a vital role in the struggle towards ensuring that its demands were met by the government.

The body also commended Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq for the approval and implementation of the 100% CONHESS and the recruitment of more nurses to boost healthcare delivery in the state.


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More than 400 consultant anesthetists left Nigeria in 2yrs – Society

More than 400 consultant anesthetists left the shores of Nigeria for greener pastures in the last two years, President of the Nigerian Society of Anesthetists, Dr Olubusola Alagbe-Briggs said in Gombe on Wednesday.

Alagbe-Briggs told newsmen on the side-line of the society’s 31st annual scientific conference that the immigrant anesthetists left Nigeria in search of better practice environment.

She said anesthetists were the most sought-after specialists in foreign lands because of the peculiarity of their services.

“There is a global shortage of anesthetists because of the nature of the job which is intensive, acute and focused.

“We had about 1,200 members in the past, but today we have only 800 members.

“Those countries that are short of anesthetists are pulling those here in Nigeria to their countries.

“Nigerian professionals are the best. They are highly sought-after by other countries.

“Medical practitioners and other professionals will continue to emigrate until their welfare and available equipment are improved upon,’’ she said.

Alagbe-Briggs stressed that availability appropriate equipment and improved welfare were essential to improve medical practice and services.

She said the conference itself sought to ensure continuous enhancement of the knowledge of the society’s members to help to improve their services.

“We are looking at how we can help to improve on cancer care; we are involved in the operational stage, pain relief, emergency care and intensive care.

“We are in Gombe to brainstorm on how to improve our specialty in line with the theme of the conference, learn from one another and share research outcomes,’’ Alagbe-Briggs said.

The conference has: “Anesthesia and the pre-operative care of patients with cancers’’ as its theme.

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WHO Demands Fresh Data from China amid Outbreak of Pneumonia in Children

The World Health Organization (WHO) is requesting more data from China amid an outbreak of pneumonia in children.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said the agency was ‘following up with China’ as hospitals across the country continue to be overwhelmed.

Face masks and social distancing are again being recommended in the country.

The country is said to be grappling with a spike in pneumonia, dubbed ‘white lung syndrome’ because of the way lung damage shows up on scans, among children that has been attributed to a rebound in respiratory illnesses rather than an entirely new virus.



China had one of the most brutal and longest lockdowns of any country in the world which the WHO says robbed children of vital immunity against seasonal illnesses. 

Dr Van Kerkhove told the conference today: ‘Yes, we are seeing an increase in respiratory infections around the world.

‘We’re in autumn and entering winter months, so we are expecting to see rises in respiratory infections regardless.

We are following up with China. They are seeing an increase due a number of different infections

We are following up with our clinical network and following up with clinicians in China.

‘In terms of acute respiratory infections, we are looking at the burden on healthcare systems and looking at the healthcare capacities of systems.’

It comes after Chinese Health Ministry spokesman Mi Feng urged people in the country to again consider wearing face masks and distancing.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, he said: ‘Efforts should be made to increase the opening of relevant clinics and treatment areas, extend service hours and increase the supply of medicines.

‘It is necessary to do a good job in epidemic prevention and control in key crowded places.

‘[This includes] in schools, childcare institutions and nursing homes, and to reduce the flow of people and visits.’

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