INDEPENDENT 2024-06-10 18:10:36


NHS alert over type-O blood shortage following cyber attack

Health leaders have launched an “urgent” blood drive across the country to help major hospitals at the centre of a cyber attack.

Russian cybercriminals are behind the ransomware attack which has seriously affected several London hospitals including King’s, the Royal Brompton, Guys’, St Thomas’ and Evelina Children’s Hospital.

It comes as The Independent revealed on Saturday that NHS leaders had raised internal concerns over the national shortage in type-O blood stocks, as the ability for hospitals to quickly cross-check patients’ blood type for transfusion has been limited.

People with type-O blood are “universal” donors and can be matched with any blood type.

The Independent also revealed:

Have you had an appointment or operation cancelled due to this issue? email rebecca.thomas@independent.co.uk

In an alert on Monday NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), the body responsible for blood donation in the UK, said more units of type-O blood than usual will be required “over the coming weeks” to keep services running safely for local patients.

Both O-positive and O-negative blood donors are being urged to book appointments in one of the 25 NHS Blood Donor Centres in England to boost stocks.

There are around 13,000 blood donation appointments available across England this week in NHS Blood Donor Centres, with 3,400 available in London.

Dr Gail Miflin, chief medical officer at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “To support London hospitals to carry out more surgeries and to provide the best care we can for all patients, we need more O negative and O positive donors than usual.

“We have availability for donors who know they are type O but we also welcome new donors who don’t yet know their blood type.”

She also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that without usual IT systems in place to match blood types it is “slower and more manual”, adding: “Therefore it would be easier and safer to give blood that we know that will be a suitable blood, and that’s why we go for group O.

“O negative blood is seen in about 8% of the population and can be given to almost anyone, and O positive is seen in 35% of the population and can be given to three-quarters of the population. We know these blood groups can help us respond to the incidents in London.”

Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, said: “Unfortunately, we know that a number of operations and appointments have been postponed or diverted to other neighbouring hospitals not impacted by the cyber attack, as we prioritise pathology services for the most clinically urgent cases.

“To help London staff support and treat more patients, they need access to O negative and O positive blood, so if one of these is your blood type, please come forward to one of the 13,000 appointments currently available in NHS Blood Donor Centres.”

NHSBT said that following the bank holidays and school half-term holidays, the NHS currently has lower than normal stocks of type-O blood.

Kyiv says its forces hit one of Putin’s most advanced warplanes

Ukraine says it has successfully hit one of Russia’s most-advanced warplanes, stationed at an airbase nearly 600km (370 miles) from the frontline.

If confirmed, it would mark Ukraine’s first known successful strike on an Su-57 plane, a twin-engine stealth fighter worth £28m. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command said Russia only had six Su-57s in operation.

The strike, believed to have been conducted using drones, comes after Ukraine’s Western allies permitted Kyiv to use their weapons for limited strikes inside Russia.

Earlier, US president Joe Biden said Vladimir Putin was not going to stop with the war in Ukraine, pledging to support Europe against Russia.

Mr Biden said the whole of Europe was threatened by the Russian president. The US president met his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Paris, and the two pledged solidarity on the wars raging in Europe and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelensky declared that the Russian army had failed in its Kharkiv offensive that began almost a month ago.

Kate gives Trooping the Colour update as Harry and Meghan face snub

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appear to have been snubbed for the second time in a week after it was revealed that the pair have not been invited to the Trooping of the Colour parade.

According to reports, the Sussexes, who are now based in LA, were not invited to the King’s official birthday parade, which will take place this Saturday, 15 June.

American PR expert Michael Levine told the Mirror: “This continued exclusion of Meghan and Harry from Trooping the Colour is a poignant reflection of their ongoing estrangement from the core of the British monarchy.”

The news come as it emerged Kate Middleton may be “considering” a surprise appearance at the annual event having apologised in a heartfelt letter on for missing the final rehearsal, known as the Colonel’s Review, last weekend.

The Princess of Wales, who is the honorary Colonel of the Irish Guards, wrote: “Please pass my apologies to the whole Regiment, however, I do hope that I am able to represent you all once again very soon.”

It comes after Prince Harry turned down an invitation to the wedding of Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, and Oliva Henson, at Chester Cathedral last week.

According to reports, he did not want ongoing family tensions to overshadow the “society wedding of the year” where Prince William served as usher.

‘Vehicle vultures’ stripping family cars as demand for parts surges

“It was like some sick joke,” said a Midlands father, thinking back to the third time his car was stripped for parts in full view of his home.

On the first two occasions, thieves had pulled off the bonnet, lights and front bumper of his Toyota Yaris, parked up on the street in leafy Harborne, Birmingham.

Told the so-called “car cannibals” were after external parts from budget cars, the man, in his 50s, upgraded.

But within a week of parking his new £23,000 Kia Niro in the same spot, that too was targeted – although this time the thieves fled when disturbed by a neighbour.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said the man, who does not want to be named for fear of reprisals.

“It was like someone was watching me. It made me feel unsafe, living in my area, and even question having another car.”

He now pays to park his vehicle off-road, while coughing up £1,200 more on his insurance premium.

Last year, the BBC reported on a spate of incidents across Birmingham, with nine in Digbeth in one month alone, while others occurred in a city centre car park.

Earlier this year, Birmingham City Football Club was forced to alert supporters after fans’ vehicles were hit while they watched their team.

Among them was Chris Pugh, who was landed with an £1,800 insurance excess bill after the bumper and bonnet were nicked from his Vauxhall Corsa.

His insurance company wrote off his £13,000 vehicle, and he has since upgraded to a Vauxhall Crossland. His insurance premium has nearly trebled.

”It hits you hard and you feel personally targeted,” the 35-year-old told The Independent. “It puts you out of pocket and inconvenience. We will never leave the car in the city centre again.”

Classified as “car stripping”, the offence involves ripping off external parts from cars parked in city centres, outside homes and even at hospitals, sometimes in broad daylight.

It can take just a few minutes for the thieves, who sell their haul online or to backstreet garages.

Insurance experts, including Henry Topham, managing director for UK retail at Allianz Insurance, told The Independent the crime is being fuelled by a shortage of car parts and high prices. The average cost of a fire and theft claim rose by 34 per cent between 2022 and 2023.

While cars have traditionally been stolen whole, Detective Superintendent Jim Munro, from West Midlands Police, told said better policing intelligence on “chop shops” led to offenders stripping vehicles in public to reduce the risk of being caught.

The officer, who leads a specialised vehicle crime operation as part of a new neighbourhood team, said the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine were factors in the shortage of parts, with many manufactured in eastern Europe.

“We see all types of vehicle get stolen and get stripped, as requirements dictate,” said Det Supt Munro, who added that the criminals were “savvy”, researching the parts in demand.

The force is raising crime awareness among owners of targeted vehicles, as well as talking to Birmingham-based manufacturers about security measures.

Det Supt Munro said there has been success in catching the suspected criminals. In one raid on a chop shop earlier this year, officers arrested a 45-year-old over multiple car stripping offences. He faces three charges of theft from a motor vehicle and is due to stand trial in July.

The force says there were almost 4,000 fewer victims of vehicle crime over the past year in the region, compared to the year before – down 12 per cent.

But specific data on car stripping incidents is not available as it comes under the umbrella “theft from a vehicle”. The latest national crime survey data suggests one in five such incidents now involves exterior fittings being taken.

Of 145,000 recorded offences of theft from a motor vehicle in England and Wales between April and December 2023, just 1.2 per cent resulted in a charge or summons, according to Home Office figures. In the West Midlands, the rate was slightly better, at 1.8 per cent.

Det Supt Munro said: “We are assisted by the public – CCTV and door bell cameras – and what we are doing in the West Midlands; there are officers engaged in investigating this type of crime, they understand the trend, they know people who we believe to be responsible… and we are able to use that information to help shape our policing activity to give the best possible response to our communities.”

However, more needs to be done to support police in areas like Birmingham, says Edgbaston MP Preet Gill.

A Labour candidate for the 4 July election, she says her party’s pledge to put 13,000 extra neighbourhood police and PCSOs on the beat will help forces tackle car stripping.

“It is impacting people’s everyday lives and there is frustration over it continuing to happen,” she said.

Independent car dealers have also been targeted, with traders waking up to find vehicles on their forecourt damaged.

Umesh Samani, chairman of the Independent Motor Dealers Association, saidhe has heard of stolen headlights being sold on websites such as eBay for up to £2,500, with some repurposed to growing cannabis plants.

He said: “The reality of the situation is that most of these are committed by organised criminals, the gangs work at such speeds to dismantle cars within a very short time especially when vehicles are parked in vulnerable areas.”

RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said: “It’s sad that ‘vehicle vultures’ are increasingly targeting public car parks, stripping cars of valuable parts to sell for a quick buck.”

The association urges motorists to use car parks under the Park Mark scheme accredited by police for security, and to leave vehicles near CCTV cameras.

The Home Office said it is working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to offer “enhanced intelligence capability” to target the crimes, adding that former policing minister Chris Philp met with West Midlands Police in May to discuss vehicle crime.

Letby to go on trial accused of the attempted murder of a baby girl

Child serial killer Lucy Letby will go on trial on Monday over an allegation that she attempted to murder a baby girl.

In August 2023, Letby, 34, of Hereford, was convicted of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murders of six other infants at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

The jury in Letby’s 10-month trial at Manchester Crown Court was unable to reach verdicts on six counts of attempted murder in relation to five children.

On Monday at the same court, the former neonatal nurse will be retried over one of those counts – an allegation that she tried to murder a baby girl, known as Child K, in February 2016.

The retrial is estimated to last up to four weeks.

Letby, who denied all the charges, was cleared of two counts of attempted murder at the original trial.

A court order prohibits reporting of the identities of the surviving and dead children who were the subject of the allegations.

Jet2 Costa Dorada! Win a seven-night stay at Ohtels Villa Dorada

With a buffet restaurant, two pools and a jam-packed entertainment schedule – and plenty of Mediterranean sunshine – Ohtels Villa Dorada a family fave. After a busy day getting stuck into all the activities, the well-equipped rooms are waiting to welcome you. This hotel’s hit the location jackpot too, just a short stroll to the beach and Salou resort centre. You’ll also have Spain’s largest theme park nearby! Prepare to be in prime position for exploring this sunny slice of Spain. Why not check out the illuminated fountain or take a seaside stroll?

Enter now for your chance to win a seven night stay at Ohtels Villa Dorada for a family of four.

If you are unable to view the entry form, click here

Terms and Conditions

Promotion closes at 23.59 on 17th June 2024. The winner will be the first entry drawn at random after the closing date.

1. Entrants to this prize draw must be residents of the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man and must be aged 18 years or over. Employees and officers of Jet2holidays Limited, Jet2.com Limited, Jet2 plc or any companies within the same group or any organisation professionally involved with the prize draw (or in each case, their close relatives) are not eligible to enter. An entrant may only be entered into the prize draw once. The Prize

2. The winner will win: (a) A 7-night Jet2holiday on a Bed and Breakfast board basis, in a standard double room, at the 3-star Ohtels Villa Dorada, Costa Dorada for 2 adults and 2 children (up to the age of 12). (b) The prize includes return flights from any of the UK bases from which Jet2holidays fly directly to Reus Airport (REU) and allows the duration of the prize advertised.

The prize also includes private transfers to and from the overseas airport and the hotel, a 22kg hold-baggage allowance per person on each flight. (c) If the winner opts to book, this holiday must be booked by 08/07/2024 and travel to and from the destination must be completed between one of the following bands subject to availability (including all return travel):

i. 11/06/2024 – 18/07/2024

ii. 29/07/2024 – 12/08/2024

iii. 04/09/2024 – 18/10/2024

iv. 03/05/2025 – 22/05/2025

v. 03/06/2025 – 17/07/2025

vi. 28/07/2025 – 11/08/2025

vii. 03/09/2025 – 16/10/2025

3. The following is not included with the prize: Transfers to and from the airport in the UK; Spending money; optional flight/board/transfer/accommodation supplements; or travel insurance. Winners are advised to take out their own insurance.

4. If a prize is not booked by the applicable date, it will be deemed forfeited and Jet2holidays reserves the right to award a prize to another randomly selected entry.

5. The prize is subject to these terms and conditions (“Prize Terms”) and the Jet2holidays’ and Jet2.com’s terms and conditions (together the “Terms and Conditions”) which can be found at http://www.jet2holidays.com/terms-and-conditions and http://www.jet2.com/terms respectively. The holiday shall not constitute a ‘package’ under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 (the “Regulations”) and the Regulations shall not apply, nor shall the applicable provisions of the Terms and Conditions which relate to the Regulations. In the event of any conflict between the Terms and Conditions, and these Prize Terms, these Prize Terms will take precedence.

6. Prize flights are limited on the flights operated by Jet2.com and may be unavailable even if there is general availability on a particular flight.

7. Jet2holidays reserves the right to amend or cancel the flights or holiday for any reason without prior notice (which may include substituting the prize or any element of the prize with alternative dates/property/transfers/destinations at any time, to the equivalent prize value).

8. Please note that flight schedules are not guaranteed.

9. The prize and each element of the prize is non-transferable and may not be exchanged for cash. The prize may only be taken by the prize draw winner along with any accompanying passenger(s) notified to Jet2holidays in the relevant booking, subject to the maximum number of passengers specified within the prize details. Flights must be taken by all passengers at the same time from the same airport. Once you have made your booking this cannot be amended.

10. The prize duration may not be extended and no element of the prize may be changed by the winner. Additional passengers outside the maximum amount permitted in the prize details may not be booked onto the prize booking.

11. All passengers must have a valid passport to travel, and must meet all relevant visa and/or other entry requirements including any medical/health screening requirements or similar. General:

12. Entrants’ details will be used to administer the prize draw and award the prize. Details will be used in accordance with the Jet2holidays privacy policy (see https://www.jet2holidays.com/privacy-policyhttp://www.jet2.com/privacy).

13. [When entering the prize draw entrants will be invited to opt in to receiving marketing from Jet2holidays. If entrants choose to opt in, their details will be retained by Jet2holidays for the purposes of marketing (which may include activities such as passing on information about deals, offers and promotion codes from Jet2holidays).]

14. Where Jet2holidays makes any changes to the prize (including dates of travel), no compensation or cash equivalent will be available. Jet2holidays will not be liable for any cancellations or changes to the prize draw or any prize, or for any loss or damage entrants or accompanying passengers suffer as a result of entering the prize draw provided that nothing in these terms shall exclude or limit the liability of Jet2holidays in relation to personal injury or death caused by Jet2holidays negligence or for fraud.

For full terms and conditions visit www.jet2holidays.com/promotions

For further information, please write to Customer Care, The Independent, Alphabeta, 14-18 Finsbury Square, London, England, EC2A 1AH. Promoter: Jet2holidays.

Labour and the Tories must stop avoiding the difficult issues

When the political parties unveil their manifestos this week, they have an opportunity to engage voters who have not yet tuned into the election and might not do so. Worryingly, a survey by Techne UK for The Independent found that 20 per cent of people have already decided not to vote, and some experts think we might see the lowest turnout in modern history.

That would not be a surprise given that many voters have written off Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives but have not yet been won over by Keir Starmer’s Labour Party. Labour’s 20-point opinion poll lead has encouraged Sir Keir to run a safety-first campaign. So far, the Tories appear to be appealing to their core vote to limit the scale of the defeat they expect on 4 July, rather than talking to the whole country.

Naturally, all parties want to play to their strengths and attack their opponents’ weaknesses. But this has resulted in a very narrow election agenda, contributing to a lack of excitement about the election and the absence of much hope for a better future. The manifestos offer the parties a chance to have a more honest conversation with the public about the huge challenges facing the next government. If they take it, more people would probably turn out on 4 July, which would be a good thing.

Rishi Sunak’s welfare reforms: what is the prime minister promising?

Rishi Sunak has promised to halt the spiralling benefits bill by reforming the welfare system if he wins the election.

The prime minister believes he can save £12bn a year by the end of the next parliament by getting more benefit claimants back to work.

He is proposing a mix of expanded support for those with poor mental health and tighter sanctions for those not seeking work.

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