The Telegraph 2024-02-17 16:30:23


Live Ukraine-Russia war latest news: Navalny’s mother demands to be given her son’s body

Alexei Navalny’s mother is demanding access to her son’s body, which is thought to have been moved from the prison’s morgue.

Navalny’s lawyer arrived in the town of Salekhard with Navalny’s mother Lyudmila on Saturday, the day after his death, and went to the local morgue.

“It was closed despite the prison saying that it was open and that Navalny’s body was there,” Navalny’s team said on Telegram.

Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh accused officials of “lying” to avoid handing over the body to the family.

Navalny’s supporters have called for the body to be returned to the family “immediately”.

“It’s obvious that the killers want to cover their tracks and are therefore not handing over Alexei’s body, hiding it even from his mother,” his team said in a post on Telegram.

Follow the latest updates below and join the conversation in the comments section

Foreign dentists to be allowed to work in UK without qualification checks

Foreign dentists are to be allowed to work in the UK without taking an exam to check their qualifications, under Government plans to solve the dental crisis.

Ministers plan to scrap the overseas entrance exam currently required to allow dentists from countries outside of Europe to come and work in Britain.

The plans would mean dentists trained abroad would be able to start work in the NHS without a formal check on the quality of their education, amid fears it will lead to substandard care.

Around four in five NHS dental surgeries are not accepting new patients, which has caused a surge in teeth-related A&E admissions, including among children with tooth decay.

The dentists’ union accused the Government of trying to “a fill a leaky bucket” without addressing the real issues keeping the profession away from NHS work.

The proposals would see foreign dentists start working quicker, with the regulator the General Dental Council (GDC) given new legal powers to provisionally register dentists using its own judgment on their qualifications.

Officials claim this will “ensure patient safety and quality of care are maintained”, while those on the new, provisional register would have to be supervised to work.

Dame Andrea Leadsom, the health minister, said the plan “would abolish red tape that currently prevents fully qualified overseas dentists from working in this country, while ensuring the highest standards of care and patient safety”.

The shortage of NHS dentists led to hundreds of people queuing outside a new practice in Bristol from the early hours of the morning at the start of this month.

It was the first in the city to accept new patients in more than six months and the police were forced to intervene as the practice had to turn patients away.

Patient groups are concerned the plans won’t fix the crisis, particularly if there is no obligation for foreign dentists to do NHS work.

Dennis Reed, director of over-60s campaign group Silver Voices, said: “It is not the number of dentists that’s the issue, it’s the number directly concentrating on NHS work.

“The worst possible outcome of this would be for large numbers of overseas dentists to come over and concentrate on private work.”

‘Worst possible outcome’

The British Dental Association (BDA) said the “recovery plan” was unworthy of the title, and that there was “no evidence” overseas dentists were more willing to do NHS work than those already in the UK.

A record number of dentists are registered to practise with the GDC, the union said, but the number doing NHS work has fallen to 2016 levels because of “tick boxes and targets”.

It said the Department of Health had provided no modelling to back up its claims of “millions” of new appointments, and that there was no plan to increase capacity.

Eddie Crouch, BDA chair, said: “A broken contract is forcing dentists out of the NHS with every day it remains in force.

“Overseas dentists are no more likely to stick with a failed system than their UK colleagues. Ministers need to stop trying to fill a leaky bucket, and actually fix it.”

Currently dentists who qualify outside of the European Economic Area are required to take an exam set by Britain’s dental regulator, the GDC.

Dentists with qualifications from 14 select universities in Australia, South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and New Zealand are also exempt from the exam, but only if they graduated before 2001.

Health leaders described the UK entrance exams as “red tape” and causing “lengthy delays” in dentists being able to register and start treating Brits.

Dental deserts

It comes a week after the NHS announced its recovery plan to fix so-called dental deserts by giving dentists cash incentives to relocate.

Among the bonuses on offer are £20,000 “golden hello” payments to move to areas without an NHS dentist, as well as up to £50 extra for patients who haven’t had an appointment in two years, with the aim of creating 2.5 million extra appointments.

The minimum cost of an appointment is also set to rise from £23 to £28.

The proposals will be consulted on for three-months before being debated on by MPs in Parliament before any changes come into effect.

Jason Wong, the interim chief dental officer for England, said the “proposals could be another vital step towards transforming NHS dental services to ensure faster access for patients.”

Stefan Czerniawski, a director at the GDC said it was an “exciting opportunity” but added that “we need to take time to get this right”.

Ukraine withdraws troops from frontline city Avdiivka

Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the frontline city of Avdiivka to avoid being encircled, new military chief Oleksandr Syrsky said Saturday, handing Russia its biggest symbolic victory following Kyiv’s failed summer counter-offensive.

Russia has been trying to capture Avdiivka for months. It is the most significant territorial gain for Russian forces since they seized the eastern city of Bakhmut last May and comes ahead of the second anniversary of the start of the invasion.

“I decided to withdraw our units from the city and switch to defence on more favourable lines,” Syrsky said on Facebook.

“Our soldiers performed their military duty with dignity, did everything possible to destroy the best Russian military units and inflicted significant losses on the enemy.”

It is Syrsky’s first major decision since his appointment on February 8 and he said it was taken to preserve the lives of soldiers and prevent their encirclement.

Ukraine faces mounting pressure on the eastern front because of ammunition shortages, with a $60 billion US military aid package held up in Washington since last year by congressional wrangling.

General Oleksandr Tarnavsky, who commands the Avdiivka area, said of the withdrawal: “In a situation where the enemy is advancing over the corpses of their own soldiers with a ten-to-one shelling advantage, under constant bombardment, this is the only right decision.”

“Encirclement was prevented, personnel were withdrawn, and our soldiers took up defence at the designated lines,” he posted on Telegram.

Before issuing orders to pull out of Avdiivka, Tarnavsky on Friday said several Ukrainian soldiers had been captured by Russian forces.

The battle for the industrial hub, less than 10 kilometres (six miles) north of the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk, has been one of the bloodiest of the two-year war.

Many compare it to the battle for Bakhmut, in which tens of thousands of soldiers were killed.

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Migrants carried out of van in oxygen masks at Newhaven ferry port

Migrants were found being smuggled into the UK in a refrigerated van on a cross-Channel ferry on Friday, sparking a major response by the emergency services.

Border Force, police, fire and ambulance services were alerted after the migrants were discovered in the back of the van on the passenger ferry sailing from Dieppe to the East Sussex port of Newhaven.

Six of the migrants were taken to hospital, while the driver was arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry. A passenger in the driver’s cabin was arrested on suspicion of illegal entry.

Staff on board are believed to have heard the migrants banging on the sides and back of the van during a routine check of vehicles as the Seven Sisters ferry was about to dock at 9.30am, according to a witness.

“They were hidden by a false wall that had been built into the back of the van. It was only a small space so they must have been practically lying on top of each other. It would have been very cramped and hard to breathe,” said the witness.

“They summoned some other workers, who looked like security personnel and who then physically broke down the wall and let the migrants out. Some were unconscious and some were able to climb out of the van with help.

“The police and fire teams arrived soon after the ferry had docked and they took the seven or so migrants to an ambulance. They were put on stretchers and taken off the ferry one by one in oxygen masks.”

‘Deeply sad’

Martin Sinnock, 70, whose home overlooks the entrance to Newhaven Harbour, said he saw “a lot of activity” and a “large” emergency services presence, including a helicopter landing on the quayside shortly after the ferry arrived. He said he was “deeply sad” to hear migrants were inside the vehicle.

Sussex Police said: “We are currently supporting Border Force, who are the lead agency, and other emergency services after a number of people were found on a lorry on a boat in Newhaven Port.

“A man has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK, and a second man has been arrested for illegally entering the UK. The ambulance service has taken six further people to hospital for treatment.”

The Dieppe-Newhaven route has become a target for migrants seeking to cross the Channel as security at the port of Calais and on the northern beaches has increased.

Pedro Paulra, 44, a lorry driver from Portugal who regularly makes trips to Newhaven port, told The Telegraph: “Four hours before reaching the port in France you cannot stop, even to pee. Migrants jumping into vans is our biggest problem.

“They don’t talk to you or ask if you’ve got money, they just get in the back of the trailer and you don’t know. They don’t pay you, they just infiltrate your trailer and when we sleep they get in at night. They know if they come here your government is obliged to have them.”

English National Opera sacks singers during interval

Singers and musicians at the English National Opera were handed redundancy notices midway through the final performance of its acclaimed production of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Formal redundancy letters, which came following a long-running funding crisis at the company, began to be sent out electronically shortly before the curtain for the final performance of the opera’s run had gone up.

But many of the performers only saw the details of their redundancy during the interval, when they opened the notifications backstage.

Despite this, they went back on stage to finish the performance, winning plaudits from the audience at the London Coliseum.

Critics have pointed to the irony of this happening during an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, which depicts a dystopian society where women are barred from working in order to fulfil their sole requirement to give birth.

One described the handling of the redundancies as “cruel, wicked and thoughtless”.

A source told the Slipped Disc classical music news site: “Members of the chorus and orchestra started receiving formal redundancy notices from the ENO ‘director Of people’ Denise Mackenzie this evening – beginning in the hour before curtain-up of the final performance of Handmaid’s Tale, and continuing through the evening.

“Many singers and players first saw their sacking emails during the interval. ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ is one of the most technically and emotionally demanding works in ENO’s recent repertoire.”

The source, described as a “trusted insider”, said: “The conductor, Joana Carneiro, was horrified when she learned what was taking place, and then astonished that the performance showed no signs whatever of the turmoil being inflicted on the performers in real time.”

Performers across the classical music sector have expressed their disbelief at the treatment of the ENO’s choir and orchestra.

Susan McCulloch, a renowned soprano and vocal teacher, said: “I cannot begin to imagine the sad hearts, tight throats, veiled tears and anger at the ENO today.”

Prof McCulloch added: “It’s the most incredible, wonderful company and unthinkable to have the British opera scene without it. That the members were served redundancy notices mid-performance is cruel, wicked and thoughtless beyond belief.”

Hilary Davan Wetton, musical director of the City of London Choir and former professor of conducting at the Guildhall School of Music, said: “The existence of a ‘Director of People’ immediately tells you that you are entering a world of Orwellian DoubleSpeak. The mere fact that redundancy notices can be sent out mid-performance – without any human contact – is a disgrace.”

The redundancy notices were sent out on Thursday, shortly after musicians at the ENO had voted to call off strike action after reaching an agreement with the company over proposed job cuts.

Following negotiations with the Musicians’ Union, the ENO agreed to revise its plans, which had involved making all of the chorus, orchestra and music staff redundant before re-employing them for six months of the year.

Under the new deal, the musicians will still be made redundant, but will be rehired at a later date with an additional month’s guaranteed work, a minimum redundancy payment and “improvements to the proposed contract”.

The ENO has been under pressure since it was removed from Arts Council England’s national portfolio last year, losing its £12.8 million annual grant and told to move outside London to qualify for future grants.

Following criticism of the decision, Arts Council England announced extra money and more time for the ENO to find a new home in Greater Manchester.

William Norris, an Arts and Classical Music consultant, told The Telegraph: “ENO’s management is faced with extremely limited and unpalatable choices, almost all of which result from Arts Council England’s instruction for them to move out of London. 

“The main responsibility of ENO’s management and board is to secure the long-term future of the company for audiences both in London and its new home of Manchester, and it may be that the only option they have is to reduce their ongoing salary costs.”

The ENO was approached for comment.

Skin cancer diagnosis delays caused by lockdowns led to 12,000 years of life lost

Delays in diagnosing skin cancer because of Covid lockdowns led to 12,000 years of life lost in Britain, it has been estimated.

University College London (UCL) analysed records from more than 50,000 patients across Europe, including the UK, and calculated how many people’s cancer would have progressed from one stage owing to delays in beginning or continuing treatment.

Both screening services and treatments were disrupted in 2020 and 2021 by lockdown restrictions, staff shortages, and fear of infection.

The team who worked with the University of Basel, in Switzerland, estimated that around 17 per cent of people progressed to a higher stage of cancer in 2020-2021, owing to delays in diagnosis or treatment of two to three months or longer.

It equates to more than 12,000 years of life lost in Britain and to more than 100,000 years of life lost across Europe.

Dr Kaustubh Adhikari of UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment said: “As many people missed appointments to detect or treat skin cancer, their cancer progressed to a later stage, which resulted in more expensive care and a greater risk that the treatment would not be successful.

“It’s alarming that for just one disease, there were many years of life lost, a lower quality of life for many thousands of people, and billions of pounds of economic impact – this may be just the tip of the iceberg of the consequences of delayed diagnosis and treatment due to lockdowns.

“While the lockdowns did save many lives by mitigating the toll of Covid-19 itself, it is important that we learn from the experience to ensure that if another pandemic arises, we can effectively balance different healthcare priorities.”

Economic cost

The research team also estimated the additional medical costs associated with treating later-stage cancer, as well as the broader economic impact such as the loss of productivity owing to disability.

They conclude that it cost Britain more than £635 million with a total economic cost to Europe of £6.1 billion.

The authors of the study, which is published in JAMA Network Open paper, say their findings show how vital early detection of cancer can be, while also highlighting the importance of considering unintended side effects in any future pandemic planning.

Dr Elisabeth Roider, co-lead author of the study and professor at the University Hospital of Basel, said: “Our findings show that preventative healthcare always needs to be a top priority, both in normal times and in times of crisis; any plans for potential future pandemics need to consider unintended side effects on a wide range of health conditions and plan holistically.

“Delays to diagnosis and treatment can be devastating to people affected by cancer, so getting prompt evaluation and treatment is vital for people concerned about their health, while screening programmes need to be treated as a priority by healthcare system leaders.”

Data from the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service shows there was a drastic decrease in skin cancer diagnoses following the first lockdown in 2020.

There were 28 per cent fewer cases of melanoma diagnosed between April and November of the first pandemic year, as well as a significant decrease in the diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC).

The problems are still ongoing with recent polling by the Liberal Democrats suggesting that one in eight people has ignored a lump or mole because after being deterred by long waits to see a GP.

The survey found that more than half of people had no confidence they would receive timely NHS treatment if they were diagnosed with cancer.

A recent report by the Medical Defence Union (MDU) showed that some people have waited up to three years for a skin cancer diagnosis.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open paper.