Displaying items by tag: Government
There have been Ukrainian anti-corruption reforms before, but stakes are higher now that Kyiv is receiving billions of dollars of financial aid from Western allies. Officials are warned through official and unofficial channels: focus on the war, help victims, reduce bureaucracy and stop doing dubious business. Some have not listened. Several senior officials have resigned as Zelensky begins a shake-up of government personnel. A top adviser, four deputy ministers and five regional governors left their posts on 24th January in the broad anti-corruption drive. There are bribery claims worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and officials living lavishly. Zelensky is responding to ‘key public demands’ that justice must apply to everyone and state officials cannot leave Ukraine unless on authorised business. Ukraine is historically corrupt. In 2021 Ukraine ranked 122 out of 180 corrupt countries.
One patient’s time in A & E: ‘I witnessed the devastation of thirteen years of government underfunding of emergency care. After I phoned 111 they told me to travel immediately to my local hospital’s emergency department. They booked me in for a 9pm arrival time. I imagined I would be seen then but there were sixteen ambulances waiting to offload their patients. The waiting room was a vision of hell. Every chair was occupied. Sick people looking dangerously unwell leaned against walls; the wait went on and on for all of us. I was seen by a doctor at 3am. During those six hours, I witnessed a man with what appeared to be cardiac symptoms collapsed onto the floor, possibly from a heart attack. A toddler was screaming “It hurts, it hurts!” for almost three hours without a break. It was devastating to hear. When I asked a nurse if this was an especially busy night, she said, “This is a quiet one”.’
Amid chronic staff shortages and rising unmet care needs nationwide, a homecare worker commissioned by Warrington borough council sometimes stayed for just three minutes, despite the family paying for the full visit. The council was found to have allocated 15-minute care calls to over 300 people in the region, despite national guidance stressing these were ‘not usually appropriate’ resulting in inadequate care and placing workers under ‘stressful unfair pressure’. The case that triggered the investigation involved a woman with dementia paying the full costs of her care. In 15 minutes two agency carers were expected to wake her, prepare her meal and drink, ensure she ate and drank, administer her medication, change her incontinence pad, administer personal care and tidy the kitchen. Electronic monitoring showed they regularly stayed less than 15 minutes and her care needs were not met or dignified. Meanwhile Rishi Sunak postponed social care funding reforms.
Pressure on GPs is ‘dangerously close to a death spiral’ as doctors leave, says Dr Paul Evans. BMA's safe working guidance states GPs should have up to 25 patient encounters a day. But on Mondays a doctor could have 40, 50, sometimes even 60 direct patient contacts. The problem worsens as the pressure leads to more GPs leaving the profession. The NHS has recruited 4,000+ trainee GPs in 2022, hitting government targets. However, while training places have increased, quite a significant number who finish training leave the system because it is so hard to work in. Rishi Sunak said the NHS was a priority and ‘billions of pounds extra’ would be invested, adding, ‘I'm confident, because we are putting in the extra resources, we will be able to find a way to improve the services’.
Birmingham City Council issued a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to deter people from gathering outside an abortion clinic with placards and pictures to protect patients from being harassed and intimidated when entering. 40 Days for Life Birmingham are concerned as the order makes it illegal to pray outside the clinic. They are taking the council to court, saying, ‘Through this action, we are not asking anyone to agree with what we believe; others have the right to disagree. We ask for justice, despite our different beliefs. It is disproportionate and unnecessary to ban prayer connected to abortion in an area near a Catholic church and to ban the words “baby” or “mum” in text or imagery.’ The PSPO comes after the Government voted for nationwide ‘buffer zones’ outside abortion clinics. Anyone breaching them faces up to six months in jail for a first offence and up to two years for several offences.
India’s religious diversity is under threat from the spread of religious intolerance as well as government policies and laws. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh arm of the BJP promotes a Hindu nationalist agenda and is dividing communities on religious grounds, leaving the nation’s religious minorities unsettled about their future. Pray for India’s government today: transform their hearts to treat every individual and community with respect and to protect their right to freedom of religion or belief. Pray also that the appointment of India’s first president from an indigenous community, President Draupadi Murmu, will bring positive changes for all India’s indigenous communities. Heavenly Father, we pray for Your protection over all the nation’s religious minorities. We pray that those in power will respect and acknowledge the right of everyone to freedom of religion or belief. Where there is unrest, bring peace, and where there is persecution, we ask for impartiality.
Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, once called ‘Jerusalem of the East,’ can no longer claim that title as the Juche doctrine is now its religion, with the Kims as its deities. Christian church information is limited. It survives as an underground church where meetings are held in secret. If members are caught, they will go to prison or a labour camp. Intense media control means that few North Koreans have heard the name of Jesus. The government dictates people’s lifestyle through generic provisions and limiting personal differences. Much of North Korea is underdeveloped., and natural disasters and military spending have strapped the economy. In the past fifteen years, two million people have died due to food shortages. The country relies on foreign aid to feed its people. North Korea is accused of torture, slavery, public executions, forced abortions, infanticides, as well as detaining possibly as many as 200,000 political prisoners.
At the end of September, 401,537 patients had waited over 52 weeks to start treatment. The total number of people waiting for routine hospital treatment is a record high 7.1 million. NHS England and the government have set a goal of eliminating all waits of more than a year by March 2025. Meanwhile nurses are about to strike nationally, for the first time ever, sending up distress flares about the state of their service. The majority of NHS members voted to strike for fair pay and safe staffing. Strikes will be at NHS trusts or health boards which meet relevant legal requirements. Many of the biggest hospitals in England will see strike action by RCN members, but others narrowly missed the legal turnout thresholds to qualify for action. Nurses worry they cannot care as they should.
The latest interest rate rise by the Bank of England means its benchmark interest rates have hit 3% for the first time since 2008. The interest rate affects mortgages, repayments on credit card debt and the interest paid on savings accounts. They have been rising since December in an effort to curb the rate at which the cost of everyday goods and services are rising. This latest rise follows economic turmoil under Liz Truss, though things have calmed slightly since Rishi Sunak took over and promised to issue a plan to repair the nation's finances later this month, but tax rises and spending cuts are expected. The Bank of England’s outlook for the UK economy is a downturn lasting for two years and the unemployment rate will nearly double.
Along with over thirty other charities, Sanctuary Foundation, which helps people welcome Ukrainian refugees into their home, has written to ask the Prime Minister for assurances the Homes for Ukraine scheme will continue to get government backing and support. There is concern the initiative is being ‘quietly phased out’. Host families are worried that ministers will not increase support to match rising costs of living. Households receive £350 a month for hosting someone from Ukraine, but there are calls for that amount to be doubled. Since March, over 96,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the UK, but a BBC investigation found that in 14 months 116 unaccompanied child refugees from across the world have gone missing from UK hotels. They were temporarily housed by the government, but charities fear they risk being exploited.