Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Join our Patriot Club
Home Blog Page 2

Labour is the no-risk option as the outcome is certain… it’s DISASTER, says leading financial analyst

0
Photo: Gencraft

By Bob Lyddon.

Labour’s plans for the economy, if they gain power in the General Election on 4th July, have been dressed up in words like ‘stability’, ‘investment’, and ‘security’.

They represent a great leap forward – over the precipice on the edge of which the UK already teeters.

For her template for the future the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves, harks back to the ‘decade’ of supposed success under New Labour, forgetting the last three of their thirteen years in power when there was a spectacular collapse, as New Labour’s financial poster children Northern Rock, Bradford&Bingley, Halifax-Bank of Scotland, Alliance&Leicester and Royal Bank of Scotland all folded. The initial bank bailout of £136 billion was followed by the Bank of England’s policy to keep the general economy afloat, which was eventually named Quantitative Easing and which is set to deliver a loss to the taxpayer of £150 billion.

Today’s Labour are similarly silent about New Labour’s extensive usage of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) for ‘investment’ into ‘public assets’. PFI kept the associated heavy borrowing out of the UK’s national debt and Debt-to-GDP ratio, and a good thing too, as New Labour borrowed so much that a ratio of 38% when New Labour came to power had risen to 63% when they left, even with the exclusion of the PFI debts. 

According to government figures, the bill for New Labour’s usage of PFI will continue to be paid, by the NHS, by councils and by universities, until 2053 and, as of March 2023, it was a bill of £278 billion for a capital investment of £50 billion – a catastrophe.

the bill for New Labour’s usage of PFI will continue to be paid, by the NHS, by councils and by universities, until 2053 and, as of March 2023, it was a bill of £278 billion for a capital investment of £50 billion – a catastrophe.

Labour are in love with ‘institutions’ like the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility, and we will get many more such quangos, each controlling different aspects of the economy. The space remaining for private enterprise will be minimal.

This extension of ‘institutions’ and quangos will provide many more seats for the centre-Left nomenklatura, who already dominate national life, enjoying power without accountability to the public.

Labour will cosy up to the EU, and would dearly love to rejoin it. In the meantime they will merely ape it, not least in turbo-charging a new PFI-style scheme to finance the transition to Net Zero, which is a financial goldmine according to Rachel Reeves.

Somehow the national budget will come into balance on the day-to-day costs, even though Labour will immediately boost resources for the NHS – that can only mean tax rises as extra borrowing to meet day-to-day costs is ruled out. That does not mean no extra public borrowing: borrowing for public ‘strategic investments’ will again be conducted in a separate budget to keep it optically off the national debt. New Labour used PFI Mark 1 to make new schools and hospitals pop up. Now PFI Mark 2 will produce renewable power sources and toll roads too, using the template of the EU’s European Fund for Strategic Investments.

Planning laws will be relaxed to enable the construction of these ‘strategic investments’ and to build many more new homes, but protection of the environment will be a priority. Incoherent?

Private pension money will be ‘mobilised’ for usage within PFI Mark 2, to supposedly offer savers better returns, meaning that the costs of any services delivered by this PFI Mark 2 will be high, and will only ever go up and never down, just as they did (and continue to do) under PFI Mark 1. 

Taxes can only go up, to keep the day-to-day costs budget in balance as Labour spends more on the NHS and on the process of government, with its expansion of intervention and quangos. Taxes up, borrowing up, a bigger public sector, a squeeze on the private sector – same old…

Rachel Reeves calls her plans ‘Securonomics’ but we can call it stagnation, as served up by Labour during the 1960s and 1970s when it hubristically named itself ‘the natural party of government’. 

If you believe that these plans offer a solution to the UK’s low economic growth, high national debt, high taxes, mediocre productivity, high welfare bill and big state sector, vote Labour. It is the safe and secure choice. It contains no risk at all because the outcome is completely certain: it’s disaster.


Read more: Financial Analyst Bob Lyddon as he de-codes Rachel Reeves and Labour’s plans for the economy – from the 2024 Mais Lecture.

Bob Lyddon is an Independent financial analyst and a specialist consultant in international banking. Follow Bob Lyddon on Twitter here or find out more about Lyddon Consulting here.

Image: AI generated on Gencraft

Team GB announces free-to-enter Official Fanzones for Paris 2024

0
Photo credit: Team GB

It’s nine weeks to go until the biggest sporting event on the planet returns.

Over 300 Team GB athletes are embarking on their final preparations, and over half a million British fans are planning to travel to France to cheer them on in person.

But there will also be plenty in store for those celebrating the Games from back home – including the chance to celebrate alongside the athletes themselves, with all Fanzones set to host appearances from Team GB stars past and present throughout the Games.

Each Fanzone will open on Friday 26 July in time for the Opening Ceremony, running until the day of the Closing Ceremony on Sunday 11 August. Fans can simply head to their nearest Fanzone each day of the Games to join the crowds cheering on Team GB’s star athletes as they vie for glory.

Alongside the big screen sporting action, visitors to the Team GB Fanzone at King’s Cross in London will also enjoy live DJ sets, the chance to try their hand at Olympic-themed activities, and a programme of onstage entertainment, including Q&As and medal celebrations with Team GB’s returning athletes.

The King’s Cross Fanzone is presented by Eurostar and delivered by Team GB in partnership with the Mayor of London and King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership (KCCLP) – the owner of the King’s Cross estate – while all other Fanzones are delivered by Team GB in partnership with Ocean Outdoor.

The first ten Fanzones to be announced span seven cities across Scotland and England, with the aim to secure further sites across the UK as the build-up to the Games continues.

They are:

  • Battersea Power Station, London
  • Cabot Circus, Bristol
  • Grosvenor Square, London
  • King’s Cross (Lewis Cubitt Square), London
  • Liverpool ONE
  • Bullring, Birmingham
  • Spinningfields, Manchester
  • St James Quarter, Edinburgh
  • Westquay, Southampton

Read more on the Fanzones page.

For more details on Team GB go to www.teamgb.com

Call for British public to keep watch and report any sightings of Asian hornets

0
Screenshot

A call has been put out for the public to keep watch and report any sightings of Asian hornets this summer.

The UK’s Chief Plant Health Officer Professor Nicola Spence has urged UK beekeepers and the public to be increasingly vigilant to the presence of Asian hornet and report any sightings as we move into the peak summer season.

The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than our native wasps and hornets. However, they do pose a risk to honey bees and insect pollinators.

Asian hornets are distinctive and can be identified by their very dark body, wide orange stripe on the fourth abdomen section and yellow leg ends. Any sightings can be made via the Asian Hornet Watch App.

The warning comes after 2023 saw a record number of Asian hornets found in the UK. The Animal and Plant Health Agency’s National Bee Unit attended every credible sighting, locating and destroying 72 nests in 56 locations. The National Bee Unit continues to stand ready to respond quickly and effectively to any further possible sightings.

The National Bee Unit continues to take action to eradicate the Asian hornet in the UK, and this spring rolled out trapping in areas where there was an increased risk that Asian hornet queens may have overwintered. The traps, which have the means to allow non-target invertebrates to escape, have so far been set at locations across Kent, East Sussex, Devon and North Yorkshire.

Screenshot

Asian hornets are not yet established in the UK. Early trapping is a key part of the surveillance for this invasive species and fundamental to our eradication efforts.

Defra’s Chief Plant and Bee Health Officer Professor Nicola Spence said:

“By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, the public can help us take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.

“While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than other wasps or hornets, they can damage honey bee colonies and harm other pollinators.

“Please continue to be vigilant for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online.”

If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet you should report this using the iPhone and Android app ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ or by using the online report form

Alternatively, e-mail alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk. Please include a photograph if you can safely obtain one.

It is important to take care not to approach or disturb a nest. Asian hornets are not generally aggressive towards people but an exception to this is when they perceive a threat to their nest.

Sightings should be sent in via the links below:

Asian Hornet Watch app for iPhone
Asian Hornet Watch app for android
Online recording form

For more details on the appearance of an Asian hornet, please refer to the BeeBase guide or the non-native species identification guide.

Children at heart of D-Day 80 with ultimate history lesson

0
The Prime Minister's wife Akshata Murty welcomes D-Day veterans George Chandler and Bernard Morgan to 10 Downing Street where they were joined by children from Hayfield Cross Primary School who were given an 'Ultimate History Lesson' by staff from the Imperial War Museum. Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

30 children visited 10 Downing Street and HMS Belfast for the ultimate D-Day history lesson, transported on a Second World War-era red London bus. 

Schoolchildren were given the ultimate history lesson for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, with a behind-the-scenes tour of 10 Downing Street and Second World War Royal Navy ship HMS Belfast. 

Akshata Murty welcomed 30 schoolchildren to Number 10 as the Ministry of Defence announced a range of initiatives to inspire a new generation with the story and legacy of D-Day. 

The children from Hayfield Cross School near Kettering met two D-Day veterans – George Chandler and Bernard Morgan – during the visit to 10 Downing Street, where they received a tour and a lesson on the role of Prime Minister Winston Churchill in planning the Normandy Landings. 

Following the visit, Akshata Murty recently said: 

It was a privilege to welcome George and Bernard to Downing Street today. They along with all our brave veterans are truly inspirational. It was wonderful that the pupils from Hayfield Cross Primary School were given the unique opportunity to hear their incredible stories first-hand. 

The team from the Imperial War Museum also provided the kids with a powerful lesson in the Cabinet Room that helped to highlight the unparalleled sacrifice that so many made 80 years ago.

They then boarded a Second World War-era red double-decker bus adorned with the D-Day 80 logo and travelled to HMS Belfast – the only British ship remaining from the bombardment fleet of D-Day. 

Onboard, they met Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, learned more about HMS Belfast’s role in D-Day, participated in a hands-on Morse code lesson and had the special privilege of asking the two D-Day veterans questions about their experiences 80 years ago.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan and D-Day veterans take part in a Q&A with schoolchildren

As part of a range of new education initiatives, the Ministry of Defence and its partners are working to ensure the inspiring message of D-Day is passed down to a new generation. 

On 3 June, D-Day veterans will gather in Portsmouth to meet local schoolchildren and modern-day Royal Marines personnel to pass on their wisdom to a new generation.

At the national commemorative event in Portsmouth on 5 June, a total of 900 schoolchildren and cadets will hear directly from the veterans of D-Day. They will hear powerful testimonies from D-Day veterans and military personnel, as well as musical performances by a military orchestra. 

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps highlighted the importance of the commemorations: 

Remembering D-Day is a crucial step to ensuring we appreciate the hard-earned peace and freedom we enjoy today. 

It was an honour to speak with George and Bernard, and to meet the inquisitive class from Hayfield Cross School.  

I hope the ultimate history lesson has worked to highlight the significance of D-Day and to help keep the memory of those that fought alive.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps stands with schoolchildren on HMS Belfast

The Normandy Memorial Trust has published a D-Day 80 Teacher Resource Pack which was compiled in collaboration with the British Council and GCHQ.

The printed pack will be handed to schoolchildren taking part in D-Day 80 activities in Portsmouth on 3 June, ahead of the veterans’ departure to Normandy. Packs will also be available at The D-Day Story Museum in Portsmouth, thanks to generous funding from The Spirit of Normandy Trust.

The Normandy Memorial Trust’s ambition to share the lessons of the past with generations of the future will be fulfilled by The Winston Churchill Centre for Education and Learning, thanks to funding from principal sponsor BAE Systems, the Ministry of Defence and others.  

The new facility, at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, France, will officially open on the 80th anniversary of D-Day. 

As part of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission ‘Lighting Their Legacy’ programme of events, a torch of commemoration is being passed from veterans to young people to represent the passing on of the legacy of D-Day to a new generation. 

Three Canadian mechanical engineering students at McMaster University in Ontario designed the torches as part of a degree project allowing them to reflect on why the commemoration is important, and why the Second World War continues to be relevant for future generations. 

The torch will now travel to the capital cities of the Home Nations and cities up and down the country including Manchester and Plymouth, before joining veterans on a ferry to Normandy for the 80th anniversary.

Source: Ministry of Defence

UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024 MOD Crown Copyright News / Editorial Licence.


It’s lift off for UK’s National Satellite Test Facility

0
Harwell Campus. Photo credit: UK Space Agency

The UK’s first ‘one-stop shop’ for large satellite testing has officially opened its doors and is set to welcome its first customers.

The National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF), operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) RAL Space, is set to ensure that spacecraft up to seven tonnes will survive launch and the harsh conditions of space.

It is based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus and forms part of the STFC-supported Harwell Space Cluster.

On Tuesday, 21 May 2024, the NSTF hosted an official opening event ahead of welcoming its first customers later this year. At the event, it was announced that the UK Space Agency is the latest customer to sign a contract to use the NSTF for testing the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Ariel payload.

The NSTF is capable of testing minibus-sized satellites under similar conditions to those they will meet on their journey through space.

National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF)

Satellites will be shaken violently to simulate rocket launch conditions, and ‘baked’ in the UK’s largest space test chamber to check their resilience to extreme temperatures in Earth’s orbit and further afield.

The NSTF also features an impressive electromagnetic compatibility and antenna test chamber where satellites’ communications systems can be tested securely.

Plans for the NSTF began in 2015 when a Facilities Gap Study led by the UK Space Agency, with inputs from space businesses, found a critical need for a single, UK-based large-scale testing facility.

The NSTF is based in the heart of Oxfordshire’s Harwell Space Cluster, which is already a bustling campus of more than 100 local and international space organisations.

The UK is investing more than £100 million in the NSTF to strengthen the UK’s position as a world-leading satellite manufacturer and help deliver the national space strategy.

RAL Space has decades of experience operating similar tests in its existing facilities, which include a range of vacuum chambers up to 5m in diameter and a smaller-scale vibration facility.

The NSTF has extended RAL Space’s capabilities and its team of experts, having already led directly to 30 new jobs in the Oxfordshire area, including several apprenticeship and graduate opportunities.

Andrew Griffith MP, Minister for Space at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said:

The opening of the new National Satellite Test Facility is a significant milestone for the UK’s growing space sector that will offer the tools necessary to innovate for years to come in a competitive global market.

By simulating the tough conditions of launch and orbit through rigorous testing, it will increase the resilience of our satellite technology to drive forward advances in navigation, weather forecasting and more – positioning our sector at the forefront of pioneering new space technologies.

Minister for Science, Innovation and Research Andrew Griffith. Photo credit: UK GOV. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

Dr Sarah Beardsley, Director of RAL Space, said:

I’m delighted that the National Satellite Test Facility is open for business. This is a huge achievement not just for RAL Space, but for the wider UK space sector.

It’s taken a lot of collaborative effort to get to this point, but the exciting part – using this facility to support the delivery of the National Space Strategy and prepare large-scale satellites for their various missions in space – is only just about to begin.

I’m very proud that RAL Space’s heritage and expertise in space science, technology development and testing is recognised in this flagship UK facility.

The UK Space Agency was announced as part of the event as the latest customer to sign a contract to use the NSTF for testing the ESA Ariel payload.

The UK is already playing an important role in this upcoming astronomy mission, which will study the chemistry of around 1,000 planets outside our solar system. RAL Space is leading the international payload consortium and the mission science is led by University College London.

As well as helping further understanding of our wider Universe, the NSTF will support science and security missions closer to home.

Contracts have already been signed with Thales Alenia Space and Airbus Defence and Space to test ESA’s FLEX Earth observation satellite and SKYNET 6A, the latest satellite in the UK Ministry of Defence’s secure communication programme.

Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of STFC, said:

UK satellite manufacturers will now have a state-of-the-art one-stop test facility on their doorstep with the capability to test large satellites.

The NSTF will also enable the UK to support major international efforts in fields including space exploration and Earth observation. Cutting-edge facilities around the globe, such as the NSTF, enable the international community to accelerate the development of next generation of space technologies and large-scale scientific missions.

STFC is proud to support this world-leading UK facility that will provide a major new sovereign space capability, which will contribute to our national goals for space as set out in the National Space Strategy.

Source: UK Research and Innovation.

Launched in April 2018, UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). They bring together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England, which is responsible for supporting research and knowledge exchange at higher education institutions in England, and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. For more details go to: https://www.ukri.org/

Photo credit: National Satellite Test Facility (NSTF)

Funding boost for medical research units at University of Cambridge

0
Cambridge University

The MRC Biostatistics Unit (BSU) and the Metabolic Diseases Unit (MDU) have been awarded funding that will support their research over the next five years.

Two medical research units based at University of Cambridge are to receive a total of £30 million from the Medical Research Council (MRC).

This follows positive reviews of their achievements to-date and research plans for the next five years.

Scientists at both units are engaged in cutting-edge research to improve public health and the funding will support their work until March 2029.

Major centre for research

The BSU was founded in 1913 and is now one of the largest groups of biostatisticians in Europe, as well as a major centre for research, training and knowledge exchange.

Its mission is to further the development, application and communication of innovative statistical methods for the improvement of health.

It brings together researchers with deep expertise in statistical and computational methods and their biomedical applications.

The BSU has proved very effective at forging partnerships with leading health scientists at other institutions to identify problems and develop methodologies and tools to solve them, for example during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developing better treatment strategies

The MDU was established in 2013 as an integral part of the Institute of Metabolic Science (IMS).

Work at the MDU is focused on studying how metabolic health is maintained and what happens when this is disrupted, leading to ill health and disease.

This knowledge can then be used to develop better treatment strategies for patients with serious conditions, including obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and related endocrine and metabolic diseases.

Next generation of research staff

Both units provide highly effective training environments for the next generation of appropriately skilled research staff across a range of disciplines.

Jessica Boname, MRC Head of Population and Systems Medicine said:

Both the BSU and the MDU are world-leading centres of excellence that have developed unique strengths and strong international reputations for high-quality research.

Together these two units are turning academic research into action through their partnerships and directly helping improve the UK’s wellbeing by tackling some of the biggest health challenges we face.

Source: UK Research and Innovation.

Launched in April 2018, UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). They bring together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England, which is responsible for supporting research and knowledge exchange at higher education institutions in England, and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. For more details go to: https://www.ukri.org/

UK scientists use Euclid spacecraft to probe mysteries of dark Universe

0
A close up of the stellar nursery Messier 78 captured by the Euclid space telescope. (Image credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO or ESA Standard Licence.)

A ‘treasure trove’ of data, including papers authored by UK scientists, has been released from the Euclid space telescope, alongside the largest images of the Universe ever taken from space. 

The European Space Agency’s Euclid mission launched in July 2023 to map the ‘dark Universe’. This involves observing two billion galaxies to create a 3D map of the universe and gathering data on how its structure has formed over its cosmic history. 

The images and science released today represent early findings – from only 24 hours of observations – giving a glimpse into the power of Euclid to hunt for new planets, study dark matter and answer fundamental questions.    

Dr Caroline Harper, Head of Space Science at the UK Space Agency, said:  

A key part of our purpose as a space agency is to understand more about the Universe, what it’s made of and how it works. There is no better example of this than the Euclid mission – we know that most of Universe is made up of invisible dark matter and dark energy, but we don’t really understand what it is, or how it affects the way the universe is evolving.

Science missions like Euclid generate vast quantities of valuable data for scientists across the world, and UK researchers have played a leading role in the development of the mission and in delivering these early results, less than a year after launch.

The scientific papers include one by Professor Mark Cropper from UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory, who led on designing and developing the VIS optical camera over 16 years, working with teams at UCL, Open University and across Europe.  

The paper gives an overview of Euclid’s VIS optical camera, which is one of the largest ever sent into space and supported by £20 million of UK Space Agency funding.  

Professor Mark Cropper said:  

These are the largest images of the Universe ever taken from space, covering large swathes of the sky in fine detail. They demonstrate Euclid’s wide-ranging potential, from discovering new planets to surveying vast clusters of galaxies.  

To achieve its core aim of better understanding dark energy and dark matter, Euclid’s measurements need to be exquisitely precise. This requires a camera that is incredibly stable, incredibly well understood, with conditions inside it needing to be controlled very carefully. The VIS camera we developed will not only contribute beautiful images, but help us answer fundamental questions about the role of dark energy and dark matter in the evolution of the Universe.

Abell 2390 a giant a giant conglomeration of many galaxies like the Milky Way. This Image shows a staggering 50,000 galaxies (Image credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO or ESA Standard Licence.)

Another paper from Professor Nina Hatch at the University of Nottingham, examines a group of galaxies known as the Perseus Cluster. The Perseus Cluster is located 240 million light-years away from Earth and contains thousands of galaxies, immersed in a vast cloud of hot gas. It’s a key target for research as galaxy clusters like this can could only be formed with the presence of dark matter.  

Professor Nina Hatch said:  

Euclid’s images of the Perseus cluster revealed a faint glow between the galaxies, known as intracluster light. This light can help us map dark matter if we understand where the intracluster stars came from. By studying their colours, luminosity, and configurations, we found they originated from small galaxies, which is surprising since theories suggest they should come from massive galaxies.  

This discovery moves us closer to using intracluster light to study dark matter. Our work supports Euclid’s mission to understand dark energy and dark matter, especially in forming structures like the Perseus cluster.

In addition to the VIS instrument, the UK is also playing a major role in the Euclid Science Ground Segment, which processes the data returned from the telescope into science ready products. A consortium of UK universities led by the University of Edinburgh provides the weak lensing data processing pipelines, a critical element of the mission’s science. 

Professor Andy Taylor from the University of Edinburgh, who leads the UK’s Euclid data analysis team and the Euclid gravitational lensing data analysis, said: 

These new images from Euclid are absolutely stunning. They demonstrate both the image quality and the huge area of the sky seen by Euclid in each observation. The image of the galaxy cluster, Abell 2390, is a spectacular demonstration of Euclid’s ability to carry out the highest quality gravitational lensing survey we had hoped for. Each of the images are rich in information which we are only starting to mine. This is just a taster of what Euclid will do.

Teledyne e2v, based in Chelmsford, provided the telescope’s Charged Couple Device detectors under a major industrial contract with the European Space Agency.  

Credit: Teledyne e2v

Antonio Spatola, Director of Business Development and Sales, Teledyne e2v said: 

We are privileged to contribute the enabling technology to this important science mission. Teledyne Space Imaging has 36 CCD273-84 visible sensors which is 600 million pixels on the VIS instrument. We also have 16 H2RGs infrared sensors of more than 66 million infrared pixels on the NISP. Euclid has since delivered its dazzling images of the cosmos demonstrating the ability of our sensors to create remarkably sharp visible and infrared images.

Together these activities mean end-to-end UK involvement in the mission, from photon measurement and data processing to cosmology. 

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said: 

Euclid demonstrates European excellence in frontier science and state-of-the-art technology, and showcases the importance of international collaboration.  

The mission is the result of many years of hard work from scientists, engineers and industry throughout Europe and from members of the Euclid scientific consortium around the world, all brought together by ESA. They can be proud of this achievement – the results are no small feat for such an ambitious mission and such complex fundamental science. Euclid is at the very beginning of its exciting journey to map the structure of the Universe.

Newly-qualified dentists required to deliver NHS care for several years under government plans

0

Newly-qualified dentists could be required to deliver NHS care for several years after they graduate under a government consultation being launched today.

Training an individual dentist can cost up to around £300,000, of which costs in the region of £200,000 are not repayable by the student.

However, a growing proportion of dentists are opting to go straight into private practice or are choosing to deliver little to no NHS work shortly after completing postgraduate dental foundation training.

Of more than 35,000 dentists registered with the General Dental Council in England, just over 24,000 delivered some NHS care in England in 2022/23. This means nearly one-third of registered dentists are not contributing to NHS dentistry and may be working solely in private practice.

Under its consultation, which will run for eight weeks, the government is asking whether newly qualified dentists should commit to delivering a minimum amount of NHS dental care for a minimum number of years after graduating, and whether they should repay some of the public funding invested in their training if they do not.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said:

I want to make access to dentistry faster, simpler and fairer for everyone – and part of this is ensuring that dentists are supporting the NHS with their skills and expertise.

Taxpayers make a significant investment in training dentists, so it is only right to expect dental graduates to work in the NHS once they’ve completed their training.

This builds on our dental recovery plan, which set out how we will create up to 2.5 million extra appointments this year alone and is already showing results with an extra 500 practices providing appointments.

Today’s proposals form part of the government’s overall plan to accelerate the recovery of NHS dentistry from the COVID-19 pandemic and reform how NHS dentistry operates.

They build on the aims of NHS Long Term Workforce Plan to expand the dental workforce and improve access to NHS dental care, especially in under-served parts of the country. 

The government believes working in the NHS will give dental graduates the best start to their careers, by giving them the broadest range of experience, great support from strong teams of dental professionals and the most comprehensive training.

Experience in NHS dentistry helps to produce well-rounded clinicians who can work alongside different professions and deliver high quality and safe patient care, and can be supplemented by additional work in private dentistry. The government believes this balance is better for our skilled dental workforce and better for the patients they treat.

NHS dentists are currently delivering a greater volume of NHS treatment than the year before, with ‘courses of treatments delivered’ increasing by 23% in 2022 to 2023, compared to the previous year.

Primary Care Minister Andrea Leadsom said:

I want to thank our hard-working dentists for their efforts in treating more and more patients over recent years and helping us improve access to care.

Through our dental recovery plan, we’re helping the sector recover from the pandemic and making NHS dentistry a more attractive career choice.

Today’s proposals will ensure dental graduates benefit from the broad experience and comprehensive training of working in the NHS, while also delivering value for money for the taxpayer.

There is currently no requirement for dentists to work in the NHS following the completion of their training. In contrast, a graduate medic in the UK must undertake a minimum of one year of foundation training to register as a doctor, followed by an additional year of foundation training and at least three years of general practice specialty training to become a GP.

Jason Wong, Chief Dental Officer for England, said:

Dental services were severely impacted by the pandemic, and it is a priority for the NHS to improve access, so it is easier for people to see a dentist.

We launched our Dental Recovery Plan earlier this year to deliver millions more appointments across England – and boosting the workforce is one step we can take to achieve this.

Neil Carmichael, Executive Chair of the Association of Dental Groups said:

We welcome the chance to engage with this consultation and ensure the NHS benefits from the skills of our graduate dentists.

We need to see more trained dentists entering the profession and we will work with the government to ensure these proposals reflect the sector’s mixed economy and considers the needs of both NHS and private dentistry.

Louise Ansari, CEO at Healthwatch England said:

We welcome the opportunity for the public to have their say about these long-term proposals to address dental workforce issues, especially as access to NHS appointments continues to be one of the main issues we hear about from people across the country.  

We also look forward to seeing separate government proposals on reforming the NHS dental contract in the coming months, as set out in the Dental Recovery Plan. In the meantime, NHS bodies that plan and fund dentistry across England should take concerted and imaginative action to ensure people in greatest need can get dental care quickly.

The launch of the consultation is the latest milestone in the delivery of the government’s dental recovery plan. Since the plan was published in February, the government and NHS have worked to:

  • Introduce a new patient premium, supporting dentists to take on new patients – with more than 500 more practices saying they are now open to new patients compared to January
  • Launch the ‘golden hello’ recruitment scheme to incentivise dentists to work in under-served areas
  • Raise the minimum units of dental activity (UDA) rate to £28 this year, making NHS work more attractive and sustainable
  • Open a consultation on proposals to make it easier for overseas dentists to work in the UK

JLR makes multi-million-pound investment to transform workplace experience for workers

0
Photo: JLR

Britain’s biggest car maker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is making a multi-million-pound investment to transform the workplace experience for production workers at its manufacturing facilities.

The luxury car manufacturer has launched a rollout of radios at its manufacturing facilities. Following two years of extensive research, testing and development, the radios were switched on at its Solihull plant in Birmingham last week. 

Working in any manufacturing environment can be challenging due to shift work, repetitive tasks, noise and strict health and safety regulations.

Research into music increasing productivity and morale first started in the 1930s, and to date, much research since has shown a relationship between music and better mental health and efficiency in the workplace. But the real driver for JLR was the voice of their workforce who overwhelmingly expressed that music would help their mental well-being and drive a happier working environment and culture, this was also reflected in JLR’s wellbeing survey last year which provided valuable insights that have helped to improve the psychological and emotional health of its people.

MATT WALKER from JLR’s MANUFACTURING TEAM said:

The concept of the JLR radio project started two years ago when we began a test and research phase. We ran a number of trials and tests to ensure that health and safety, quality and productivity remained a top priority. Over 90% of employees told us (as part of the trials) that morale was up, work was much more enjoyable, and they’d seen an improvement in their wellbeing.

In fact, there was also some evidence to show that quality and productivity had also increased during the trials. 

So, the radios were officially tuned in at the company’s Solihull site a few weeks ago and after the successful launch, JLR will see radios next switched on at the company’s Halewood plant in Liverpool with several other sites soon to follow. Overall, over 10,000 employees will soon be able to listen to radio at JLR whilst building the company’s luxury cars.

In addition, a new inclusive range of luxury workwear has been rolled out for production colleagues in manufacturing. The stylish new workwear comes in 300 options – including a hijab option, maternity wear as well as temperature regulating clothing.

The rollout of new luxury workwear for JLR colleagues has been a key initiative to transform the culture and create a more modern and inclusive workplace experience.

To ensure the workwear is truly inclusive, it was co-designed with colleagues from across JLR to ensure that the people wearing the workwear had input into the design and feel. Before the launch, colleagues had an opportunity to trial and choose from the best and most comfortable designs. 

KIM PANTON, MANAGER OF APPAREL DESIGN, JLR said:

Inspiration for the design of the workwear came from a hunger from our colleagues to have workwear that mirrored the modern luxury cars that they build. We spoke to hundreds of colleagues from different faiths, backgrounds and of all abilities to ensure that the workwear options were designed with the diverse nature of our people in mind.

JLR says it has worked hard to ensure that luxury and sustainability go hand-in-hand, carefully selecting materials that not only prioritise the comfort and authenticity of their employees but also reusability. The workwear features combine cotton with between 40% – 96% recycled polyester depending on the garment, alongside softshell padding made from recycled material. By repurposing the existing uniforms and removing names from the new garments, they promote reusability and extend the lifespan of each piece, fostering sustainability throughout the garment lifecycle. 

The company have also been working closely with charitable organisations such as SATCOL (The Salvation Army Trading and Commerce Limited) which is the trading arm of The Salvation Army and have been supporting them to raise money for charity through repurposing our old workwear. The Red Cross and other local charities in Halewood have also benefited from JLR’s commitment to repurposing old workwear items.

Part of the new workwear range includes offering a hijab for first time – allowing those that wish to, to celebrate their faith at work and promote their sense of belonging to JLR. Other benefits include workwear being temperature regulating, which addresses skin sensitivity, maternity options and many other options which are available in over 300 sizes and variants for all colleagues.

JEN DEEMING, SENIOR ANALYST, JLR said:

I really feel like the company has invested in me with the new workwear range. The quality is amazing, and I feel like they really involved women like me in the planning and design. The cut of the material goes beyond just a ‘small, medium or large’ sizes which makes it feel more personalised to the growing number of women at JLR. Being comfortable at work is something we all take for granted but it makes such a difference to your working experience.

Photo credit: JLR

UK selected to build European Space Agency’s weather forecasting spacecraft

0
VIGIL spacecraft copyright Airbus

A major industrial contract will see Airbus Defence and Space UK in Stevenage build Europe’s flagship space weather mission, Vigil.

Airbus UK has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to design and build the space weather forecasting satellite Vigil, the first operational mission in ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Space Safety Programme (S2P).

The spacecraft will give vital extra warning to Earth about incoming solar storms and coronal mass ejections which can potentially disrupt satellites in orbit and electronic and power distribution systems on Earth. 

Patrick Wood, Head of Space Systems UK, Airbus Defence and Space said:

“Vigil is one of the most exciting and important space missions that will not only improve our understanding of the Sun’s behaviour but crucially provide us with earlier warning and greater precision about potentially damaging solar weather. Space weather forecasters will be able to see what is coming from the Sun and provide more accurate alerts.”

Andrew Griffith MP, Minister for Space at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said:

“Space weather generates stunning phenomena like the recent displays of the Northern lights over our skies – but it also presents a real risk to our way of life which is increasingly dependent on space and satellite services. The Vigil mission will transform our understanding of the impact of potentially dangerous solar events and I congratulate Airbus here in the UK on taking the lead in this important mission.”

Minister for Science, Innovation and Research Andrew Griffith. Photo credit: UK GOV. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

“Vigil will be Europe’s first 24/7 operational space weather satellite, providing valuable time to protect critical infrastructure such as power grids or mobile communication networks on Earth as well as valuable satellites in Earth orbit, including the International Space Station ISS,” said Josef Aschbacher, ESA Director General.  “Vigil will drastically improve both the lead time of space weather warnings as well as their level of detail from its unique vantage point in deep space.”

Vigil will be positioned at Lagrange point L5 on the same orbit as the Earth, 150 million km behind it as the Earth orbits the Sun. This will enable Vigil to see the Sun as it rotates, and see the size and speed of solar weather heading towards the Earth. Data from Vigil could provide notice of four to five days of solar winds streaming toward Earth.

From its particular vantage point, Vigil will complement other satellites monitoring the Sun from closer to the Earth. Among the most potentially damaging events are coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the Sun, consisting of a magnetised plasma containing protons, electrons and other charged particles. In 1989 a major geomagnetic storm struck Earth and caused a nine-hour outage of electricity transmission across Quebec.

Advance warning of incoming CME will enable power companies and authorities to shut down systems temporarily to protect them from power surges and ensure they can be powered up quickly after the danger has passed. This will avoid longer power outages and major damage to electronic systems used for global positioning and communication services. 

Vigil, which will be built in the UK, will include a compact coronagraph developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, a heliographic imager from Florence-based Leonardo SpA and a photo-magnetospheric field Imager from Germany’s Max Planck Institute. In addition, Vigil will carry a plasma analyser from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in London and a magnetometer from Imperial College London. NASA is providing Vigil’s sixth instrument, an extreme ultraviolet imager.

The spacecraft platform will provide the best environment for high-quality scientific measurements, including tight magnetic cleanliness and contamination control measures. Being an operational mission, the design of the satellite has to be extremely resilient to ensure the continuous, flawless operation of its instruments and high reliability in data transmission for users, especially in case of a major solar event.

Vigil was selected by ESA in 2022 and is supported by the UK Space Agency and other member states of ESA. The UK’s Met Office has a dedicated space weather forecasting department which will use the data from Vigil to offer the world more accurate forecasts.

Vigil, due to be launched in 2031, will be the first ESA spacecraft to be positioned at L5 and is designed to operate in orbit for more than 7.5 years.