Owl since you’re asking – the poo’s still flowing

From a correspondent:

Owl asks “With a yellow weather warning of heavy rain in place for today, what can we expect to be vented into our rivers and onto our beaches?”

Just visit the Safer Seas Service Interactive Map on Safer Seas Service Interactive Map • Surfers Against Sewage (sas.org.uk) and you will find that Budleigh Salterton beach still has a Pollution Alert.  Storm sewage has been discharged from a sewer overflow in this location within the past 48 hours. Sidmouth, Exmouth and Seaton discharges remain a secret held by South West Water.

But don’t worry Budleigh Salterton, the new sewage overflow pipe being constructed will enable this practice to continue for the next 100 years. A great boost for the tourist industry.

‘NHS has collapsed’: Experts despair, as 17 major incidents declared

At least 17 ‘major incidents’ have been declared at hospitals across the UK within the last 48 hours. A&E departments, ambulance services, and healthcare groups are all facing extreme pressure – and some health experts fear the very worst has already happened for the NHS.    Tom Head www.thelondoneconomic.com 

Has the NHS all but collapsed? The signs aren’t good

So far, seven hospitals have announced they are dealing with critical incidents. Others are operating at the next-highest emergency response level of OPEL 4, and some have categorised the situation as a ‘business continuity issue’.

Either way, the list makes for a horrifying read. Shaun Lintern, the Health Editor for The Times, has filed most of these in a Twitter thread. If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can dip into the facts and figures here:

‘In many parts of the country, the NHS has collapsed’

Concerns of a full-scale NHS collapse have already been raised by The Telegraph this week, and more health experts are starting to believe this is now the case. Health policy expert Sam Freedman fears there will be ‘significant excess deaths’, and he’s calling for a full inquiry.

“A few days ago I said the NHS had never been closer to collapsing. I think it’s fair to say it has now collapsed in many parts of the country. There will be significant excess deaths as a result. There needs to be a full inquiry into how this could have been avoided” | Sam Freedman

Who has declared a critical incident this week?

  • University of Derby Hospital Trust: All meetings and training courses have been cancelled, to shore-up available staff numbers.
  • University Hospitals Dorset: ‘Severe and sustained operational pressures’ have caused chaos throughout the week.
  • Portsmouth Hospitals University: After declaring yesterday, members of the public have been asked to ‘help clear occupied beds’.
  • Nottingham University Hospitals: Over 160 patients have waited more than 24 hours to be discharged.
  • NHS Devon: Ambulance response times have been at ‘over four hours’, for a period of more than 72 hours.
  • Surrey Heartlands Healthcare: General pressure on local NHS services has rendered the situation critical.
  • Royal United Hospitals of Bath: High volumes of patients and long waiting times are causing misery in emergency departments.

‘Many other emergency services’ at breaking point

  • Northern Care Alliance: A Business Continuity Incident has been declared, with ‘extremely high numbers’ of A&E patients cited.
  • Oxford University Hospitals: Chronic staff shortages have left the institution operating at OPEL 4.
  • Barnsley Hospital: A Full Capacity Protocol has been activated, as wards are being asked to host more patients.
  • University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire: Full Capacity Protocol declared on Thursday, due to issues with patient discharge.
  • NHS West Yorkshire: GPs have been warned about a ‘dire situation’ in local A&E departments.
  • Newcastle Hospitals: Moved to OPEL 4 on Thursday, cancelling all non-urgent appointments in the process.
  • West Midlands Ambulance Services: On Wednesday, a total of 561 patients were left waiting for an ambulance.
  • East England Ambulance Services: A ‘Business Continuity Incident’ was declared, as 161 ambulances were delayed outside hospitals.
  • Greater Manchester Hospitals: Patients have been urged to avoid A&E ‘unless they are in a life-threatening state’.
  • York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals: There was a 40-hour wait for beds at the peak of the crisis on Thursday.

Exe Viaduct is defective

A bridge carrying the M5 over the River Exe has a safety defect that will require specialist repairs in the new year.

Radio Exe News  www.radioexe.co.uk

The fractured bridge expansion joint plate was detected by a monitoring system on the Exe viaduct, leading to lane one of the southbound carriageway between junctions 30 and 31 near Exeter being closed for safety reasons.

The lane closure has caused significant delays during peak travel times so National Highways is advising drivers to allow extra time for their journeys.

Terry Robinson, National Highways’ engineering manager for the south west, said: “The bridge joint requires specialist contractors and materials to repair and given the safety critical nature of the defect, we have to keep the lane closure in place to protect the travelling public, prevent vehicle damage and protect the structure against further damage.

“We’re working to organise the repair as quickly as possible, we apologise for any inconvenience and thank drivers for their patience. In the meantime we ask people to be aware of delays, particularly around peak times, and to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journeys between junctions 29 and 31.”

Sewage was dumped every four minutes during Therese Coffey’s three years as water minister

The recently appointed Environment Secretary presided over an average of a new sewage dump every four minutes in her previous stint as water minister, new research suggests.

With a yellow weather warning of heavy rain in place for today, what can we expect to be vented into our rivers and onto our beaches? – Owl

Arj Singh inews.co.uk 

There was an average of nearly three million hours of sewage discharge into waterways and sea during Therese Coffey’s tenure as a junior minister, the analysis of Environment Agency (EA) data obtained by Labour under freedom of information laws suggests.

This equates to more than 321 years’ worth of sewage dumped in England and Wales over Ms Coffey’s three years in the job between 2016 and 2019.

Labour said the fresh revelations about Ms Coffey’s “sewage-infested” record in office raised questions about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to move her to Environment Secretary.

The party revealed last month that sewage discharges more than doubled during the Environment Secretary’s previous role as a junior minister, coinciding with her decision to cut a key environment protection “grant in aid” fund for the EA by around a third (£24m).

Ms Coffey was also forced to admit in October the Government was breaching its own Environment Act by delaying the publication of clean water and biodiversity targets beyond the end of that month.

The revelations also come amid a growing public outcry over the scale of sewage dumping around the country, with around 90 of Britain’s beaches affected by water pollution this summer.

Shadow Environment Secretary Jim McMahon said: “It’s not clear which is worse, Coffey’s sewage-infested environmental record, or Rishi Sunak’s judgement in bringing back Dr Dolittle.

“Families across the country should be able to just enjoy where they live, work or holiday, and businesses should not have to worry about the Tory sewage scandal hitting their trade.

“Britain deserves better.

“A Labour government will use the levers of power to introduce mandatory monitoring with automatic fines, ensure regulators properly enforce the rules and hold water bosses who repeatedly break the rules personally accountable for sewage pollution.”

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said: “We have been clear that the amount of untreated sewage which enters our waterways and pollutes our beaches is unacceptable, and that water companies must do much more to protect our environment.

“Our Storm Overflows Reduction Plan has brought in the strictest targets on sewage pollution and requires water companies to deliver their largest ever infrastructure investment – £56bn capital investment over 25 years – into a long term programme to tackle storm sewage discharges by 2050.

“We have also boosted funding for the Environment Agency with £2.2m per year specifically for water company enforcement activity so that robust action is taken against illegal breaches of storm overflow permits.”

On Thursday, The Times reported that the only two stretches of river in England designated for bathing – in Oxford and Ilkley, West Yorkshire – were hit by sewage discharges over the Christmas weekend.

Feargal Sharkey, the former Undertones singer, pointed to recent tests showing e-coli levels at the Ilkley site exceeding safe limits and told the newspaper: “Like a Christmas tree festooned with demonic Christmas baubles, e-coli levels in Yorkshire are above the safe level for bathing.

“Coupled with warnings to bathers on the Thames, it seems like it’s a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the water industry.”