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Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 14 July 2023

1

Pay offer ‘drives doctors away’

Rishi Sunak is “driving doctors away” from the NHS with his pay offer, said union leaders. The prime minister warned that his offer of a 6% pay rise this year was final and that “no amount of strikes” would change his mind. Public service workers in England have been offered 5%-7% rises but departments must fund them from existing budgets. With “inflation remaining high, and workers buoyed by using industrial action to secure higher wages” the “pay pain isn’t over yet”, wrote Faisal Islam, economics editor of the BBC

Public-sector pay: where can Rishi Sunak find the cash to stop the strikes?

2

Johnson forgets iPhone passcode

Boris Johnson has yet to hand his WhatsApp messages to the Covid inquiry because he is said to have forgotten the passcode for his old phone. A spokesperson for the former prime minister said Johnson wishes to cooperate with the inquiry and did not deny being unable to recall the code. Johnson stopped using the handset in 2021, after it emerged his phone number had been accessible online for at least 15 years. Andrew Whaley, an expert in cybersecurity, dismissed Johnson’s passcode claim, telling Sky News it was a “pretty lame excuse” and that “accessing the data would take minutes”.

Covid inquiry: can it bring about meaningful change?

3

NHS dentistry shortage

An inquiry has reported that the pain and distress of not being able to see an NHS dentist are “totally unacceptable”. The review was launched after the BBC found nine in 10 NHS dental practices across the UK were not accepting new adult patients and that some people drove hundreds of miles for treatment or pulled out their own teeth. The government said it invests more than £3bn a year in dentistry but the report, by the Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee, said declining levels of NHS dentistry should be “sounding alarm bells”.

The crisis in dentistry: why has finding an NHS dentist become so difficult?

4

Hollywood actors walk out

Hollywood actors will join an ongoing strike by screenwriters in the industry’s biggest shutdown for more than 60 years. The Screen Actors Guild wants streaming giants to agree to a fairer split of profits and better working conditions. The industrial action means most US film and TV productions will grind to a halt.  Picket lines “are likely to be raucous and star-studded spectacles”, said the New York Times, with “struggling thespians still trying to get a foothold” next to “A-listers with bodyguards who get paid $20 million or more per movie role.”

Screenwriters on strike: Hollywood grinds to a halt

5

UK’s China policy scrutinised

The UK’s approach to a “whole of state” assault by China on its economy, politics, civil infrastructure and academia is inadequate, according to a parliamentary committee. The all-party intelligence and security committee found that Beijing was aggressively targeting the UK, and “without swift and decisive action”, China could become an existential threat to liberal democratic systems. The Guardian said that “short-termism and inconsistency” have plagued the UK’s policy on China.

China: the new rules of engagement for Britain

6

Cat coronavirus could hit UK

Experts have warned that an outbreak of feline coronavirus that has killed thousands of cats in Cyprus could spread to Britain. Vets on the island have reported an “alarming increase” in cases of feline infectious peritonitis. Animal rights groups said that the virus had killed 300,000 cats on the island this year. Following evidence that the virus has spread to Turkey, Lebanon and Israel, Professor Danièlle Gunn-Moore, a specialist in feline medicine, told The Times “if this virus gets to the UK it could cause many of our cats to die”.

7

IMF warns of ‘scars’ from pandemic

The disruption caused to education by the Covid pandemic will hold back economic growth for years, said the International Monetary Fund. The IMF blamed the impact of lockdowns on schooling for the weakest outlook for global economic growth in decades. “Scars from the pandemic, including to students’ learning and [skill training], could weigh on economies for years to come,” said the Washington-based group.

8

BBC investigated Edwards

BBC reporters were investigating allegations about Huw Edwards before The Sun published its story. According to Deadline, Newsnight’s Victoria Derbyshire and other BBC colleagues were secretly preparing a potential story days before the tabloid ran its claim last week that Edwards had paid £35,000 to a young person in exchange for images. BBC reporters are now thought to be working on further potential stories about Edwards. However, one colleague described it as “surreal” that one BBC News presenter would investigate another.

Huw Edwards named as presenter at centre of BBC crisis

9

Truss has highest hourly rate

Liz Truss is paid £15,770 an hour for second jobs, revealed Sky News. MPs with second jobs have an average wage of £233 per hour -17 times the national average and over 22 higher than the minimum hourly wage. Former prime minister Truss, who has the highest hourly rate for a current MP, was paid at a rate of £20,000 per hour – nearly 1,500 times the UK average hourly wage – for a speech in Taiwan. Boris Johnson, who resigned as an MP last month, has an hourly rate of £21,822.

What will Liz Truss do next?

10

Airport with highest crime rate revealed

Humberside Airport was the UK airport with the highest crime rate in 2022, according to an analysis of Freedom of Information data. It had 9.7 crimes per 100,000 passengers, although this only amounted to a total of nine crimes. Heathrow had the highest number of crimes overall, with 2,494 reported.

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