Schools fear impact of budget cuts amid girls’ mental health crisis

Problems include self-harm, eating disorders, depression, panic attacks, school refusal and attempted suicide

In a girls’ school on the fringes of London, the headteacher and her deputy are contemplating the challenges their pupils face, and the toll it takes on them every day. They describe self-harm, eating disorders, depression, panic attacks, school refusal and attempted suicide.

Where do the roots of the problem lie? “I’ve been in teaching 40 years,” says the headteacher. “I’ve never known this level of dysfunction in society.”

Related: Stress and social media fuel mental health crisis among girls

Related: Mental health data shows stark difference between girls and boys

Related: ‘Our daughters must not be scared to talk about mental health issues’

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Abortion should not be a crime, say Britain’s childbirth doctors

Members of Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists vote in favour of decriminalisation of abortion

Britain’s childbirth doctors have urged ministers to scrap laws dating to Victorian times that could see a woman jailed for life for having an abortion.

Related: No prosecution risk for Northern Ireland medical staff over abortion referrals

Related: Pregnancy can kill. No one should be forced to give birth against their will | Jessica Valenti

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Almost 10,000 EU health workers have quit the NHS since Brexit vote

Staff losses will intensify recruitment problems at health service, which now has 40,000 vacant nursing posts

Around 10,000 EU nationals have quit the NHS since the Brexit referendum, it has emerged.

NHS Digital, the health service agency that collects data on the NHS, found that in the 12 months to June, 9,832 EU doctors, nurses and support staff had left, with more believed to have followed in the past three months.

Related: Recruitment crisis hits NHS with one in nine posts currently vacant

Related: ‘I’m a migrant in a foreign country’ – Europeans protest at Westminster

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Why we need the welfare state more than ever

21/09/2017 Chris Renwick 0

Shocked by the ‘poverty cycle’, British reformers created a safety net for casual workers. Now precarious working conditions are back, and the welfare state is under attack. By Chris Renwick

Tucked away behind York Minster – the grand cathedral adorned with medieval stained-glass windows that dominates the North Yorkshire city’s skyline – is a cobbled street that has become an informal labour exchange. Each day, just before lunch, couriers dressed in the distinctive mint green and black uniform of Deliveroo, the online food delivery company, arrive at the end of this street, park their bikes and scooters next to a bench, and talk among themselves. Clutching their smartphones, they wait for someone, somewhere in the city, to place an order with one of the nearby restaurants and cafes. When an order comes through, one of the couriers will pick it up and deliver it in exchange for a small fee. They will then return to the bench to wait.

Plenty of people in early 21st-century Britain can identify with the experience of working for a company like Deliveroo. Drivers for the taxi firm Uber, for example, know only too well what it’s like for work to arrive in fits and starts via an app. But even more people are employed on zero-hour contracts in a wide variety of jobs, from stacking shelves to waiting tables to caring for the elderly. According to the Office for National Statistics, around 900,000 workers rely on a job with a zero-hour contract. These people start every week not knowing how much work they will get or how much money they will earn.

Related: A world without retirement

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The Guardian view on children’s mental health: not an optional extra | Editorial

21/09/2017 Editorial 0

The latest research shows the crisis is even worse than anyone realised. Wellbeing must be put back where it belongs – at the heart of what schools do

Adolescence is notorious for its moments of misery that at least for the fortunate are unequalled in later life. Almost every adult looks back on the eruption of spots and the inexplicable weight gain, the exam pressures and the mishandled relationship crises with sympathy for their earlier selves. So it is no surprise to discover that in any given fortnight, many teenagers have felt low. The shock is just how low, and how many. Nearly one in four 14-year-old girls and almost one in 10 boys the same age, say they have felt inadequate, unloved, or worthless. That means that hundreds of thousands of young teenagers are experiencing a range of feelings that amount to a diagnosis of clinical depression; worst of all, the numbers are disproportionately higher in poorer families. The link between poverty and depression is well established. Now it is clear that long before children from low-income families even start their first job, they are at greater risk. The crisis in children’s mental health is even more extensive than anyone realised.

Adding colour to these findings comes a second, much smaller but still reliable survey by Girlguiding. Previously, the survey of over 1,000 girls from the ages of seven to 21 had identified high levels of anxiety about body image and the taboos associated with talking about being depressed. This year’s report looks at the pressure girls are under to conform with gender stereotypes. It is not hard to point to other pressures that show the triviality of worrying about pimple break-out: the National Children’s Bureau, a partner in the millennial cohort study, highlights relentless demands from schools and parents to achieve at the expense of a focus on wider wellbeing and emotional resilience.

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What will cost more than lifting the public sector pay cap? Not lifting it | Faiza Shaheen

18/09/2017 Faiza Shaheen 0

The status quo is maintained at a big cost to wider society and the economy. Yet still the Tories’ dodgy maths hoodwinks far too many people

The Conservatives are finally backing down on the public sector pay cap – but not without a fight, and not without confusing the maths. I’m guessing the government thought our fear of numbers wouldn’t allow us to work out that inflation of 2.9% means their announcement of 1.7% and 2% respectively for prison staff and police wasn’t really a pay rise. Luckily, we’re not quite that bad at maths. Unfortunately, the Conservatives are still persuading many with the dodgy maths of their public spending cuts.

Again and again we hear from ministers that the pay cap can’t be lifted as the country cannot afford to pay public sector workers more. Years of being miseducated on how the economy works – presenting the country’s debt as household debt and public spending as only a cost with no benefits for the economy – have led to widespread economic illiteracy, among politicians as well as the population. The real question should be: can we afford not to increase public sector pay? The costs of maintaining the pay cap are numerous, and the benefits of increasing public sector pay would be huge for the economy.

Related: Hammond eases public sector pay cap, but the squeeze goes on

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Dame Margaret Turner-Warwick obituary

Pioneering physician who played a fundamental role in the development of modern respiratory medicineWhen Margaret Turner-Warwick, who has died aged 92, entered the field of respiratory medicine in the 1950s, it was a time of great change. Effective tre…

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Tessa Jowell in battle against brain cancer, family reveals

17/09/2017 Jessica Elgot 0

Former culture secretary was diagnosed four months ago and has pledged to help people with cancer live longer and better

Dame Tessa Jowell has been battling brain cancer for the past four months, her family has revealed.

The former Labour culture secretary’s illness was revealed in an Instagram post by Ella Mills, the food blogger and cookbook author Deliciously Ella. She posted a picture of Jowell on her 70th birthday and described the past few months as “some of the hardest of our lives”.

Thank you for so much love and support on my birthday. More people living longer better lives with cancer is my birthday pledge pic.twitter.com/VPvvFrwDQS

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Two-thirds support higher taxes to maintain NHS funding

Amid growing concern about state of the health service, poll shows a willingness to contribute more

Two in three people are prepared to pay more tax in order to ensure the cash-strapped NHS has the money it needs to provide good care.

New polling for the King’s Fund thinktank found that two-thirds (66%) of the public are willing “to pay more taxes in order to maintain the level of spending needed” on the health service.

Poll showed that 62% believe the NHS should be funded through taxation, not charges to access services or health insurance

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Alastair Campbell on madness and power: ‘I don’t mind that I’m psychologically flawed’

15/09/2017 Decca Aitkenhead 0

In the latest of his political diaries, Labour’s former spin doctor reveals how the drama of the Blair-Brown years almost cost him his sanity – and his marriage

Alastair Campbell’s latest volume of diaries brings to mind the sign that used to be a ubiquitous feature of the 1980s workplace: “You don’t have to be mad to work here … But it helps!” To my knowledge, no Westminster wag has ever hung one in No 10. From Campbell’s account of government during the transition from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown, however, it would not have been out of place.

As a mental health campaigner, Campbell has always been open about his ongoing episodes of depression. But the mental health issues his new diaries reveal go well beyond the occasional black dog, reaching a torrid climax in 2006 during a walk with his partner, Fiona Millar, across Hampstead Heath. The couple were in total crisis, constantly rowing, confronting what looked like the end of their 27-year-relationship. When another argument erupted as they walked, Campbell lost it and began punching himself in the face.

Related: ‘What do we do now?’: the New Labour landslide, 20 years on

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Alastair Campbell on madness and power: ‘I don’t mind that I’m psychologically flawed’

15/09/2017 Decca Aitkenhead 0

In the latest of his political diaries, Labour’s former spin doctor reveals how the drama of the Blair-Brown years almost cost him his sanity – and his marriage

Alastair Campbell’s latest volume of diaries brings to mind the sign that used to be a ubiquitous feature of the 1980s workplace: “You don’t have to be mad to work here … But it helps!” To my knowledge, no Westminster wag has ever hung one in No 10. From Campbell’s account of government during the transition from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown, however, it would not have been out of place.

As a mental health campaigner, Campbell has always been open about his ongoing episodes of depression. But the mental health issues his new diaries reveal go well beyond the occasional black dog, reaching a torrid climax in 2006 during a walk with his partner, Fiona Millar, across Hampstead Heath. The couple were in total crisis, constantly rowing, confronting what looked like the end of their 27-year-relationship. When another argument erupted as they walked, Campbell lost it and began punching himself in the face.

Related: ‘What do we do now?’: the New Labour landslide, 20 years on

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Cookery courses for obese people are pointless, and ministers know it | Hugh Muir

15/09/2017 Hugh Muir 0

Ministers know the solution to the obesity crisis, it’s the same as how they weaned Britain off smoking. They have to dare to be a ‘nanny state’

Let’s not be unreasonable: governments can’t control everything. Systems fail. Events creep up. But it’s a matter of legitimate concern when risks are known, quantified and still inadequately addressed.

As a society we have a complex relationship with risk, straddling the law, politics and commerce. Many will say the risks taken by individuals with their own health and safety is their own affair; indeed, that the right to take risks is our liberal, democratic birthright. But one might argue just as reasonably that when an individual gambles unsuccessfully, it is society that suffers the repercussions – the health costs, the opportunity costs, the resources expended – and that communities, represented by government, have the right to limit their exposure.

The least effective way to deter people from taking risks is to warn them off

Related: Children living near fast food outlets more likely to gain weight – study

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Unions call for 3.9% pay rise plus £800 for 1 million NHS staff

Demand is based on RPI inflation figure and back pay for seven years of 0% and 1% pay rises, after recent lifting of pay cap for prison and police officers

Unions have ramped up the pressure on Theresa May over public sector pay by demanding a 3.9% rise for 1 million NHS staff plus an extra £800 to make up for lost earning power during austerity.

Health service personnel from nurses and midwives to paramedics and therapists across the UK are urging Philip Hammond to ensure they receive a salary boost that would add an extra £3bn to the NHS pay bill.

Related: Len McCluskey: unions ready to defy law over public sector pay cap

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London’s most polluted schools to be given air-quality audits

13/09/2017 Matthew Taylor 0

Mayor Sadiq Khan announces first 50 schools to undergo audits to help identify measures to minimise the impact of pollution on children

The most polluted schools in London are to be audited as part of the mayor’s drive to clean up toxic air across the capital.

Earlier this year a Guardian investigation revealed that hundreds of thousands of children are being exposed to illegal levels of damaging air pollution from diesel vehicles at schools and nurseries.

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Nick Clegg and wife say telling son he had blood cancer was ‘toughest thing’

13/09/2017 Press Association 0

Former Lib Dem leader and wife go public about son’s experience and treatment to raise awareness of the need for research into less toxic therapies for cancer

The moment Nick Clegg and his wife had to tell their eldest son he had blood cancer was one of the “toughest things” for the family, Miriam González Durántez has said.

González Durántez and her husband, the former deputy prime minister, told ITV’s Lorraine Kelly how their son Antonio, now 15, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in September last year.

Related: Children who survive cancer face fewer serious long-term health issues – study

Related: Cancer treatment: sorting the good news from the hype

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No 10 faces backlash from Labour and unions over public sector pay cap lift

Jeremy Corbyn says Tories are trying to divide and rule workers as prison officers and police dismiss pay rises as insufficient

Theresa May’s government faces months of strife over public sector pay after a decision to lift the 1% annual cap on increases was met with derision from Labour and renewed threats of strikes by trade unions.

Following months of pressure over the issue, Downing Street simultaneously announced above 1% pay rises for police and prison officers in the last of the 2017-18 deals, and a wider commitment to “flexibility” for all public sector workers from next year.

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Private treatment is not the answer to the NHS crisis | Editorial

11/09/2017 Editorial 0

Patients in England are paying for surgery to avoid long waiting times. This is a worrying trend

Waiting has long been the National Health Service’s chronic disease. In 1999, heart surgeons in Middlesbrough used to tell their patients that they had a 5% chance of dying while on the waiting list. Under Labour’s strict targets, waiting times fell. But lately they have risen again. For three years the health service has missed its requirement that patients be seen within 18 weeks for non-urgent surgery and this year ministers quietly relaxed the target. Now, rather than face long queues, growing numbers of patients in England are paying for private treatment instead. These one-off private patients – who do not have health insurance but might chose to have their hip or cararact operation privately – are increasing by up to 25% a year. This is not a good thing.

The NHS in England is in a bad way. In January the Red Cross said the service was facing a “humanitarian crisis”: hospitals were so overcrowded they could not guarantee patient safety. Some hospitals admit they are completely full. Exhausted and demoralised by unmanageable caseloads, many medics are retiring early or going part-time: the NHS is short of 40,000 nurses, and GPs are leaving the NHS at the rate of 400 a month. And every month of 2016-17 saw the NHS fail to treat 95% of those coming to hospital emergency rooms within the desired time of four hours.

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As an NHS boss, there is little I can do to reassure EU staff about Brexit

11/09/2017 Carolyn Regan 0

About 10% of my trust’s workforce is from the EU. We urgently need some clarity before those staff abandon the NHS

“Should we be worried about Brexit?” As a chief executive of west London mental health NHS trust, I make a point of getting out into our diverse and geographically dispersed services as often as I can. Not for the first time, staff are asking about what Brexit means for them, especially, of course, if they come from another EU country.

We need to deal with the practicalities and ramifications of major political issues like the future of our EU staff post-Brexit. It is also important for me to be as open and honest as I possibly can with our staff. Staff who are used to dealing with complex mental disorders are not easily fooled by a glib throwaway line, well-crafted though it may be.

Related: EU workers in the NHS: ‘I’ve faced racial abuse and will head home’

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