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Mandatory jabs for NHS staff in England could end

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Ministers will decide whether the vaccine will become a requirement for NHS staff later today.

As it stands, front-line NHS staff in England must be fully vaccinated by April, otherwise they will be redeployed or dismissed.

The rule means they would need to receive their first vaccine by Thursday.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid revealed last week the decision was being “kept under review,” although still insisted it was NHS staff’s “duty” to be vaccinated.

The review follows the Royal College of Nursing’s worry over the introduction of the mandatory Covid vaccine.

In a statement published on their website, the RCN said: “The RCN has significant concerns that mandating vaccines will further marginalise those who are currently vaccine hesitant and put further pressure on a hugely depleted workforce by forcing people out of employment.”

The potential U-turn in the policy is a response to Omicron proving to be a more contagious but less severe variant.

There has been a higher rate of breakthrough infections among vaccinated people, although evidence suggests the vaccines keep the cases milder.

The requirement was originally proposed when the government were focussed on Delta, and the vaccine appeared to reduce the risk of infection and help stop the spread of the virus.

Since Omicron is now the dominant variant, Javid has said the policy needs to be reflected on.

There are increasing concerns that making the Covid vaccine mandatory for NHS staff could lead to a serious staff shortage, with around 77,000 still not having received their first dose.

If the expected scrapping of the policy doesn’t go ahead, come Friday NHS staff without their first vaccine will be given a notice period of until the end of March.

The Royal College of General Practitioners has called for a delay in the mandatory vaccines.

The Chair of the RCGP, Professor Martin Marshall, said: “We are also concerned about the significant workforce implications at a time when general practice and the wider NHS is experiencing enormous workforce and workload pressures.

“We simply can’t afford to lose highly-trained staff in general practice when we need as many as possible delivering patient care.”

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Biggest Rail Strikes in 30 years to go ahead as talks fail

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Britain is braced for the biggest rail strikes in 30 years after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a row over pay and conditions.

Thousands of staff affiliated to the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 13 other train operators will walk out tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday.

The RMT says plans by Network Rail – the body which owns stations, track and signals – to cut 2,500 jobs, will put safety at risk. But the industry says it has to modernise and safety will not be compromised.

The Rail Delivery Group – which represents train firms – says the Covid pandemic has led to a decline in passenger numbers and while it wants to offer a pay rise to staff, the way the network operates has to change. But the RMT says it is prepared to take industrial action “for as long as it takes to get a settlement” and warned strikes could take place for the next six months.

It says train operators have now made an offer, but there is no further offer from Network Rail, after one was rejected last Friday. General secretary Mick Lynch said: “The RMT National Executive Committee has now found both sets of proposals to be unacceptable and it is now confirmed that the strike action scheduled this week will go ahead.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, whose department oversees the operation of the network, described calls by the RMT for ministers to intervene as a “stunt” and accused the union of “gunning” for industrial action. He said the strike was orchestrated by “union barons” and will cause misery and chaos to millions of commuters.

Services have begun to be affected this evening, and are likely to be disrupted throughout this week as the impact of the staggered stops cause an impact even on non-strike days.  Talks had continued this afternoon, but the two sides could not reach a deal.

Sources close to the negotiations said Network Rail was prepared to offer striking unions a five per cent pay rise to settle the dispute.

Use this tool to see if trains will run from your station.

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Aldi launches dog ice cream just in time for the Heatwave

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Aldi will be the first UK supermarket to sell Beechdean Doggy Ice Cream, which comes in two tasty flavours; pea & vanilla and apple & carrot.

Priced at £2.99 per tub, the ice creams will make for the perfect healthy snack for your pooches, with them being 100% plant-based and made with real fruit and vegetables.

And as part of the exciting rollout, Aldi has partnered with local ice cream vendors across the country so pups far and wide can enjoy the tasty treat.

The supermarket has also enlisted volunteer dogs to take part in an adorable ‘dog-livery’ service to help dish out the cooling treat to their furry friends.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, said: “With more of our customers now owning dogs, we’re delighted to launch a nutritious and tasty treat that will help keep dogs cool in the heat.

“Being the first UK supermarket to launch a dog-friendly ice cream comes just in time for summer as we look forward to the warm weather.

“Teaming up with ice cream vans across the country gives us the chance to get the product straight into owner’s hands, so they can share a special moment alongside a tasty treat outside with their furry friend – we’re confident they won’t be able to keep their paws off it.”

Aldi’s Beechdean Doggy Ice Cream will be available in the Freezer aisle – next to Aldi’s full ice cream range – nationwide from Thursday June 16th.

Will your pampered pooch be getting some?

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Man Dies In Download Festival Arena Following Medical Incident Before Iron Maiden Set

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A man tragically died at Download Festival after being taken from the crowd by medical staff just before Iron Maiden started their headline set.

Emergency services saw to the man, who hasn’t been named, after he fell ill in the main arena just before 9pm on Saturday (11 June).

A spokesperson for Leicestershire Police confirmed the news, stating: “We can confirm the death of a man who had been attending the Download Festival in Castle Donington at the weekend.

“The man became unwell at the festival on Saturday evening (11 June) and was taken to the Derby Royal Infirmary where he sadly died.

“The death is currently being treated as unexplained and enquiries remain ongoing.”

More to follow.

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