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Asia Bibi: Pakistan acquits Christian woman on death row

Asia Bibi
Image caption Asia Bibi’s case had been hugely divisive in religiously conservative Pakistan

A Christian woman who was sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy has won her appeal and been acquitted in a landmark ruling.

Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours.

She always maintained her innocence, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.

Her acquittal is widely expected to spark protests in Pakistan, where there is strong support for the laws.

There is high security in the capital, Islamabad, amid fears of violence. Hardline religious clerics have called on their supporters to take to the streets.

The ruling was read out by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar at the Supreme Court in Islambad.

“The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed. Her conviction is set aside.”

Critics say Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws have often been used to get revenge after personal disputes, and that convictions are based on thin evidence.

Bibi’s case gained added prominence when a regional governor, Salman Taseer, who had appealed for leniency for her was murdered in a public square in Islamabad by his own bodyguard.

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Vatican embassy: Human remains found at Rome property

A demonstrator holds a poster of Emanuela Orlandi reading Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The family of Emanuela Orlandi have long campaigned to find out what happened to her

Human remains found at a property in Rome owned by the Vatican could hold the clue to a 35-year-old mystery.

The bone fragments were found during construction work at the Vatican’s embassy to Italy, near the city’s famous Villa Borghese museum.

A Vatican statement said experts were trying to determine the age and sex of the remains, and the date of death.

Italian media have speculated they may be those of a teenage daughter of a Vatican employee who vanished in 1983.

The disappearance of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi has been widely linked either to organised crime or to an attempt to force the release from prison of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish man who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981.

  • Gangster’s body exhumed over missing girl case
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Orlandi’s brother Pietro, has campaigned for decades to find out what happened to her. He has accused the Vatican of remaining silent in the case.

But the remains could be those of Mirella Gregori, who disappeared in Rome 40 days before Orlandi and was also aged 15, media also report.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A mural in Rome commemorates missing girls Emanuela Orlandi (R) and Mirella Gregori

She answered the intercom at her family’s apartment and told her parents it was a schoolfriend. She said she was going out to speak to him, and never returned.

Detectives say it is possible that the cases are connected.

“During restoration works in a space annexed to the Apostolic Nunciature of Italy… fragments of human bone were found,” the Vatican said in a statement.

It said that as soon as the remains were found the Vatican’s gendarmerie informed the Italian authorities, and the Holy See, and an investigation was launched.

The Vatican has said on several occasions that it has co-operated fully with police investigating the Orlandi case.

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Rural areas ‘least socially mobile’

Woman waits for the bus in Grassmere Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption MPs said vital services like public transport were hampered in rural areas

People living in England’s rural and coastal counties are having their life chances held back by a “false perception of affluence”, MPs say.

Their report said vital services like public transport, youth centres and childcare were being “hampered” by an “inequitable” council funding model that benefits urban areas.

They said rural areas were among the country’s least “socially mobile”.

The government is currently carrying out a “fair funding review”.

Ministers say this will ensure that “the link between local circumstances and resources allocated is clear”.

  • The worst places to grow up poor
  • Is social mobility really about school cash?

The report, from the County All-Party Parliamentary Group of MPs and the County Councils Network, says the current system favours big cities with more money per head of the population and should instead reflect “hidden deprivation”.

The Parliamentary group is made up of MPs representing seats in areas like Devon or Norfolk – which are often largely rural and less densely-populated than other parts.

Its chairman Peter Aldous, who represents Waveney in Suffolk, said: “For a long time now, the perception that counties are affluent and wealthy has meant they have been overlooked in terms of directing resource and policy towards improving social mobility.

“An outdated and inequitable method of funding local authorities has disproportionally channelled funding towards London and the major cities.”

‘Visible divide’

Social mobility is defined by the government as “ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to build a good life for themselves regardless of their family background”.

Last year a report by the government’s Social Mobility Commission dismissed the notion of a simple North-South divide.

Instead, it said, there is a “postcode lottery” with “hotspots” and “cold spots” found in all regions.

According to this report, there is a “visible city versus rural divide”.

It said transport networks were a “major hindrance” to social mobility in counties, and that families in rural areas often struggle to access childcare.

According to its analysis of data from the Social Mobility Commission, Devon, Kent, Cumbria and Northumberland – which are located across all four corners of England – are in the 10 least “socially mobile” areas alongside coastal communities like Dorset and Norfolk.

Problems in these areas are made worse by a “brain drain” where teenagers go to university in cities and then settle away from their home communities, the report says.

The MPs called for the government’s review of local authority funding to address the disparity, and for ministers to devolve new powers to county leaders in the way they have in areas like Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.

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George Osborne ‘regrets’ mistakes that led to Brexit vote

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionGeorge Osborne: We did get things wrong

Former Chancellor George Osborne has admitted having a series of “regrets” about his time in office – saying government “mistakes” led to Brexit.

He said the Tories had got things “wrong” on immigration policy which “opened up the door in the referendum”.

He told the BBC’s Newsnight that Remain supporters had explained the benefits of EU membership “too late”.

But Mr Osborne, who served between 2010 and 2016 under David Cameron, said he had worked in the national interest.

Interviewed on Evan Davis’s last Newsnight as presenter, Mr Osborne said: “We were wrong to play into the debate that everything that Brussels did was a challenge and a battle and was wrong.”

He added the debate over immigration had proved “pretty lethal” to the result of the June 2016 referendum.

Mr Osborne said the government had been promising targets on immigration “that we couldn’t deliver and that then led to a debate about how you might deliver those targets… we definitely contributed to that argument, didn’t make enough of the value of immigration”.

‘Done such harm’

Mr Osborne, who is now the editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper, said his other regrets included not focusing on fixing the banking system more quickly after the financial crash.

“Overall, faced with the gigantic financial crash and a set of difficult decisions in a hung parliament I think David Cameron, myself, Nick Clegg and others worked hard in what we felt to be the national interest to put things right in as fair a way as possible,” he said.

“Ultimately the country grew, jobs were created and we avoided the calamitous situation that a lot of European countries found themselves in this period.”

Mr Osborne denied his austerity policies had encouraged people to vote for Brexit.

But he came under attack on the programme from Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, who told him he had “done such harm and damage to this country”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionNewsnight: The pair were part of a discussion on Evan Davis’s last programme as presenter

Mr Osborne was also asked if he had any regrets over comments, attributed to him, that he would not rest until Prime Minister Theresa May was “chopped up in bags in my freezer”.

“I certainly have said things in private which you know, I probably shouldn’t have, and actually, apologised for it,” he said.

“But I worked very hard all my life to make the Conservative Party electable, and it’s painful to me to see it losing support in large areas of the country where it shouldn’t be losing that support, particularly against, actually, a Labour opposition which I don’t think is in a fit state at the moment.”

But Mr Osborne warned Theresa May not to attempt to copy the policies of Jeremy Corbyn’s party.

He said that the Conservatives lost their majority in 2017 by trying to “out-Ukip Ukip” and were not going to win the next election “by trying to out-Corbyn Corbyn”.

“Trying to bang the nationalist drum doesn’t actually work for modern conservativism and trying to outspend our political opponents isn’t going to help the Conservatives either,” he told Newsnight.

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Brazil: Bolsonaro plans threaten Amazon, say experts

Undated image of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Amazon rainforest loses vast areas to deforestation every year

Brazil’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro will merge the ministries of agriculture and the environment, an aide says, in a move which critics say could endanger the Amazon rainforest.

Mr Bolsonaro’s future chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, announced the new “super ministry” as details of the new administration began to emerge.

The controversial new Brazilian leader is supported by the agribusiness lobby.

A former environment minister tweeted that the move was “tragic”.

“This disastrous decision will bring serious damage to Brazil and will pass on to consumers abroad the idea that all Brazilian agribusiness survives thanks to the destruction of forests,” Marina Silva said.

  • Can Bolsonaro ride the ‘Bullsonaro wave’?
  • Jair Bolsonaro: The Trump of the Tropics?

Earlier, Vice President-elect Hamilton Mourao dismissed environmentalists’ concerns about development in the Amazon, saying the government would act responsibly by managing the spread of agriculture in the region.

Why is the Amazon important?

The Amazon region holds the largest tropical rainforest in the world and is home to plant and animal species that are still being discovered by scientists.

  • Is the Amazon facing new dangers?

Most of its millions of square kilometres are inside Brazil, where under laws dating back to 1965, landowners must keep a percentage of their terrain forested.

That percentage ranges from 20% in some parts of the country to 80% in the Amazon.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thousands of Jair Bolsonaro’s opponents took to the streets of Sao Paulo on Tuesday

But a debate has raged in Brazil over the often conflicting needs of environmental protection and economic development.

Earlier this year the supreme court upheld major changes to laws which environmentalists say will make illegal deforestation acceptable.

What are Mr Bolsonaro’s views on the environment?

Mr Bolsonaro, 63, has previously suggested that Brazil could pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. He says its requirements compromise Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon region.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionFar-right politician Jair Bolsonaro has won Brazil’s presidential election. But who is he?

In the run-up to the election he had suggested merging the agriculture and environment ministries, saying, “Let’s be clear: the future ministry will come from the productive sector. We won’t have any more fights over this.”

Warned by activists that such a move would undermine the environment ministry’s controls on the commercial sector, he struck a more conciliatory tone saying he was “open to negotiation on that issue”.

What else has been been decided?

Following behind-closed-door talks on Tuesday, Mr Bolsonaro’s top economic adviser Paulo Guedes confirmed that an economic super-ministry would be formed combining finance, planning, industry and trade.

It will be headed by Mr Guedes.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Senior aide Onyx Lorenzoni (C) and economist Paulo Guedes (L) held talks with Mr Bolsonaro in Rio de Janeiro

Mr Lorenzoni also announced that Mr Bolsonaro’s first foreign visits would be to Chile, Israel and the US. He described them as countries that “share our worldview.”

Mr Bolsonaro swept to victory in Sunday’s election, easily beating his left-wing rival Fernando Haddad.

The former paratrooper is a deeply polarising figure who has in the past defended the actions of the country’s former military regime and said he is “in favour of dictatorship”.

His populist approach has led to some media dubbing him “Trump of the Tropics”.

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The black history you might not learn at school

Black History Month is celebrated in the UK every October. As this year’s celebration comes to a end, here are four lesser-known historical figures who helped shape multicultural Britain.

Image caption Una Marson (centre) worked alongside George Orwell (standing) and TS Eliot (seated), who are pictured looking over her shoulder

Una Marson – ‘She was a real trailblazer’

Poet, dramatist, and broadcaster Una Marson made history by becoming the first black women to be employed by the BBC.

Born in Jamaica, Marson moved to the UK in the early 1930s and took up her first position at the BBC as a programme assistant in March 1941.

“She was a real pioneer in giving voice to black women’s experience, as well as generously creating a platform for other contemporary black voices,” historian Robert Seatter says.

‘Sparked resentment’

At the BBC, Marson worked alongside writers TS Eliot and George Orwell before establishing her own weekly feature within the Calling the West Indies radio programme, called Caribbean Voices.

She went on to become the first black producer at the BBC.

“This choice sparked resentment, but Marson was described as an extremely intelligent, loyal and lively person,” Prof James Procter, at Newcastle University, wrote in 2015.

Robert Seatter says her ability to persevere despite prejudice highlights why “she was a real trailblazer” and should be remembered.

Image copyright London Borough of Lambeth
Image caption Olive Morris died at the age of 27 but “left behind an extraordinary legacy of activism”

Olive Morris – ‘She left behind an extraordinary legacy’

Historian Angelina Osborne describes Olive Morris as a “radical activist and campaigner”.

Born in Jamaica in 1952, and having moved to south London at the age of nine, she became heavily involved in community politics at a young age.

A picture of her taken in 1969 shows her face swollen, her clothes torn and dirty. On the back is written: “Taken at Kings College Hospital… after the police had beaten me up.”

‘Challenging oppression’

“Earlier that day,” Angelina Osborne writes, “a Nigerian diplomat had parked his Mercedes on Atlantic Road in Brixton, leaving his wife and children in the car while he bought some records.

“Police officers, thinking the diplomat had stolen the car began to, according to witnesses, arrest him and beat him.

“Olive came forward and physically tried to stop the police from attacking the diplomat, causing the police to turn on her, arrest her and assault her, kicking her in the chest.

“This young girl, barely 5ft 2in, took on racist police officers, without thinking about her own safety, because she couldn’t stand by and allow the injustice of an African man being arrested for driving a nice car.

“This was one early incident of Olive’s commitment to challenging oppression.”

Morris went on to co-found the Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent (OWAAD) and the Brixton Black Women’s Group, which were among the first in the UK to address issues affecting women from ethnic minorities.

“Olive was committed to the struggle against racial, sexual and class oppression,” Angelina Osborne says.

She died at the age of 27 but “left behind an extraordinary legacy of activism”.

Image copyright Bailey family
Image caption Frank Bailey joined the West Ham Fire Brigade in 1955

Frank Bailey – ‘He never stopped fighting’

When Frank Bailey was told by a Fire Brigades Union (FBU) delegate that “black people were not employed by the fire service” because they were “not educated or strong enough”, he decided to apply.

He successfully joined the West Ham Fire Brigade in 1955, becoming one of the first full-time black firefighters in the country.

However, Mr Bailey, who had moved to London from Guyana in 1953, left the service 10 years later.

His decision, according to Michael Nicholas, former FBU national secretary for black and ethnic minority members, was due to “inherit prejudice and racism” as white firefighters had been promoted ahead of him.

‘Drive for equality’

“Frank was inspirational, as thoughts of black people at the time were very negative. Every day he had to consistently break down barriers,” Mr Nicholas says.

“Everything he did was underpinned by his drive for equality.”

After leaving the fire service, Mr Bailey went on to become the first black psychiatric social worker in London.

His daughter, Alexis, describes her late father as “inspirational”.

“He went through so much and never stopped fighting for equal rights. He never gave up and that really inspired me,” she says.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The year before he died, Laurie Cunningham helped Wimbledon beat Liverpool in the FA Cup Final

Laurie Cunningham – ‘He made me believe’

Described as “one of the best players of the era”, Laurie Cunningham was a leading personality on and off the football pitch during the 1970s and 1980s.

Born in London, the left winger began his professional career at Leyton Orient in 1974.

In 1977, he joined West Bromwich Albion and then became one of the first black players to represent England at any level, scoring on his debut for the under-21s, against Scotland.

Cunningham made his full international debut in 1979 and went on to earn six caps for England.

In the summer of 1979, at the age of 22, he became the first British player to transfer to Real Madrid, who paid West Bromwich Albion a fee of £950,000.

‘Monkey chants’

“Laurie was one of the best players around at the time,” former England striker Les Ferdinand says.

“In the past, black players were not getting opportunities to play for England – but Laurie broke down that barrier. He was so good that he couldn’t be ignored.”

Ferdinand says Cunningham, who died in a car crash in 1989, helped “pave the way” for black footballers.

“He made me believe I could be a footballer.

“He took a lot of stick that black players coming through now don’t have to take.

“The black players took the brunt of it – such as bananas being thrown on the pitch and monkey chants.”

Cunningham’s career was a breakthrough in British football but Ferdinand adds: “We still need to break down barriers off the playing field, in terms of the boardroom, management, and coaching.”

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DIY Generation: How to be your own boss aged 25

Adam Ali

So you’ve got a business idea which you’re sure is going to make you money – but just how do you get the ball rolling?

Most people who want to start up on their own are pretty clueless at the beginning.

There’s a lot to think about – the accounts, marketing and the money.

But statistics suggest a growing number of people aged 16-24 are choosing to work for themselves – the figure has almost doubled since 2001.

In 2016 a total of 181,000 young people in that age bracket were classified as self-employed workers.

But the harsh reality is that a lot of people fail – almost half of start-up businesses don’t make it past the third year, according to academics at the Enterprise Research Centre.

From an app developer to a bakery owner – Newsbeat asks some young entrepreneurs their top tips.

‘The best thing to do is go for it’

Adam Ali, 21, says he wanted to start his business Digisee in Huddersfield because he didn’t want to work for anyone else.

“I’ve been rejected from so many jobs, that I believe I can do better, and I can do it better by doing it myself,” he tells Newsbeat.

Image caption Adam set up his own firm after being rejected for dozens of jobs

Adam got involved with a scheme which is run by Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones.

The Peter Jones Foundation is a charity which helps budding entrepreneurs learn about the basics of business.

Adam pitched his idea and went on to win the National Entrepreneur of the Year – that meant £5,000 prize money and a place to study enterprise at university.

“If you have an idea, a passion,” says Adam, “the best thing to do is go for it!

“If you need to learn something, then go and learn it – and surround yourself with positive people.”

Watch Newsbeat’s latest documentary DIY Generation: Young Hustlers on the iPlayer now.

It’s all about the money

If you’re very lucky you might have a generous family member to give you a cash boost, but if not, the government offers loans for start-ups.

It’s lent £54m to 18-24 year-olds since 2012.

Vittoria Capaldi, 20, says she was so young when she started out that she “didn’t look like a great candidate” to banks and other lenders.

Instead, she applied for a start-up loan for her bakery business in Glasgow in 2014.

Vittoria borrowed £20,000 over five months.

That paid for baking equipment plus the decor and repairs she needed to start up The Honeybee Bakery in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire.

“They were definitely more understanding to your business plan and ideas than I felt the banks were,” she says.

There’s also a number of government business support helplines which can offer advice to young entrepreneurs.

Get help from bigger businesses

Ashleigh Plummer, 25, developed a sports app but wanted some extra help in marketing it.

He applied to the Gymshark hub at Innovation Birmingham, where he was offered free desk space and mentoring.

The campus has more than 160 digital technology businesses and several big companies, such as Tata and Barclays, have hubs there.

Image caption Sport app developer Ashleigh loves the culture of Gymshark and wants to learn from them

In England there are 38 Growth Hubs.

Their aim is to get big businesses to help out start-ups, either financially with mentoring or through networking.

“What brought me here more than anything was Gymshark and the prospect of working with them,” Ashleigh tells us.

Image copyright Gymshark
Image caption Gymshark are helping Ashleigh develop his sports app

“The way they do their marketing and run their business is the exact same way I see myself running Sports Easy.

“My mentor will have knowledge I don’t have and will be able to shed light on my product – he’ll also force me to ask questions.”

Ask friends, family and colleagues to get involved

More and more businesses are turning to crowdfunding to give their company a cash boost.

Akshay Ruparelia was just 18 when he started Doorsteps.co.uk two years ago thanks to loans from his family.

Then earlier this year he set up a crowdfunding page to pull more money into the company.

A company that’s now worth £18m.

Image caption Akshay is 20 and runs an £18m business

He says customers and staff wanted to invest because they believe in the company – he now has 1,000 shareholders.

Akshay adds: “People want to be part of the revolution.”

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Dutch language besieged by English at the unis

Students at Utrecht university Image copyright Utrecht university
Image caption At the highest honours level at Utrecht barely any courses are taught in Dutch

Students shake off their jackets and scarves as the lecturer opens up a power point presentation on “start-up innovations” and prepares to give his talk, which is entirely in English.

The language is the university’s choice, Frank van Rijnsoever of Utrecht University tells me.

So extensive is the spread of English in Dutch universities, a group of lecturers has predicted a looming “linguicide” and demanded the government in The Hague impose a moratorium banning universities from creating any additional English language courses until an official impact analysis has been conducted.

Sixty per cent of masters programmes offered at Utrecht University are in English. At the highest honours level, virtually no courses are taught in Dutch.

Image copyright Utrecht university/Maarten Nauw
Image caption The biggest challenge is for Dutch students at Utrecht to do all their studies in English

“I don’t mind. Most of the literature is in English,” says Mr Van Rijnsoever.

“So for me as a teacher it’s not that much of a problem because we also do research in English. For the students, you see they have to cross a certain barrier to properly express themselves.”

The Netherlands has one of the world’s highest levels of English proficiency among non-native speaking countries, second only to Sweden according to the latest EF English Proficiency Index.

“It’s something I picked up over the years, mainly my PhD in academic English.” the lecturer explains.

We already have good English at high school, we watch English TV with subtitles. My English is not perfect but it’s sufficient to bring across the message at a certain level.”

Frank van Rijnsoever, Utrecht University

For Oskar van Megen, who graduated with a degree in sustainable development, taking an internationally orientated Master’s in English made sense as the subject was broader than in the Netherlands.

“It did give me a bit of a disadvantage. It took me way, way more time to understand and focus on the lecturers, and to understand the articles and write my own articles.”

Image caption Oskar van Megen is pleased his masters degree was in English but finding work in the Netherlands has proved difficult

However, while he feels qualified for an international career he has since struggled to find work in the Netherlands.

‘Use it or lose it’

Utrecht is not alone.

Some Dutch universities have completely erased Dutch language from the campus. In Eindhoven, even the sandwiches in the canteens are sold as cheese rather than with the Dutch word “kaas“.

And not everyone is happy with such a creeping Anglicisation at university.

“It’s our identity, Dutch,” complains Annette de Groot, professor of linguistics at the University of Amsterdam.

“What happens to the identity of a people of a country where the native language is no longer the main language of higher education?

“The Dutch aren’t as good at English as they think they are. You shouldn’t use a weaker language in education.”

Image caption Prof Annette de Groot fears a detrimental effect on the Dutch language

“If you use English in higher education Dutch will eventually get worse. It’s use it or lose it. Dutch will deteriorate and the vitality of the language will disappear. It’s called imbalanced bilingualism. You add a bit of English and you lose a bit of Dutch.”

While English can ease students into the global market, others feel its prevalence is excluding them from their homeland.

And a political debate here is intensifying, as more UK citizens emigrate to the Netherlands with companies wishing to remain in the EU post-Brexit,

It is time, says Prof De Groot, for an honest debate.

“We’re shifting to a more and more Anglo-Saxon view of the world. Universities want diversity, different perspectives. What you get is exactly the opposite. The Anglicisation means you end up with a much more homogeneous world.”

The irony for her is that Dutch universities are merely competing for students in a bid to survive.

Image caption Utrecht’s campus offers more than 80 Master’s programmes in English as well as honours programmes

Utrecht University Rector Henk Kummeling argues that moving towards English has been an organic process but accepts that when competing internationally, it makes sense to use a world language.

“It’s not that we are advertising for international students,” he tells me from his office overlooking a bicycle-strewn campus.

“Dutch culture will stay for centuries. When we talk as Dutchmen amongst ourselves we speak Dutch.”

Oskar agrees, saying he enjoyed forging friendships with students from the UK, Ireland and Italy.

“Personally I don’t have any troubles with not speaking Dutch or with Dutch culture, which is maybe disappearing a bit.”

But he says there has to be a limit, and suggests Groningen University in the north has taken in too many international students. “There are so many they have to set up tents just so the students can have a roof over their heads,” he complains.

The danger for him is that universities are trying to increase their international profile while pushing for income from foreign students, while making compromises in other ways.

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Clampdown on violence against NHS staff

Fist fight in hospital Image copyright iStock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says he will introduce new measures to help protect NHS staff from violence.

The NHS Violence Reduction Strategy expands on work previously carried out by a body that was scrapped by government more than a year ago.

A bill to double the sentence for assaults on emergency workers from six months to a year is shortly expected to become law too.

Tens of thousands of NHS staff experience violence each year.

Some staff have started wearing body cameras.

Zero tolerance

Image caption Nurse Sharon Morris was on duty in a secure unit when she was attacked by a service user

Sharon Morris, a nurse for more than 30 years, was attacked in the medium security mental health unit where she worked. The effect on her life has been profound.

It was in 2016 that the abuse happened and she still experiences flashbacks and nightmares.

“It was a patient I had been working with for a year and it all happened out of the blue. He went to attack a colleague and I stepped in.

“I remember him hitting and punching me in the head and then I passed out.”

Sharon was off sick for three months and it took another three months after that for her to feel safe enough to work with patients again.

“The worst bit is the psychological side. It’s made me feel very wary of people. For a while I would see my assailant’s face in other young men – even my eldest son, who is physically quite similar.

“There are still things that make me anxious now. I can’t read or watch things like crime programmes that contain a lot of violence.”

Image caption Shelley still works as a nurse, despite repeated attacks

Nurse Shelley Pearce was “taken hostage” by an alcoholic patient on an acute ward, who held a piece of broken plastic against her throat.

She has also experienced other serious assaults, including being head-butted.

Protecting staff

NHS Protect, the body that was disbanded in March 2017, used to support and advise hospitals in England on staff safety.

Afterwards, it was solely up to individual NHS trusts to safeguard their workers.

Speaking to the Royal College of Nursing, Mr Hancock will outline how the new strategy will work:

  • Offenders to be prosecuted quickly as a result of new partnership between the NHS, Police and Crown Prosecution Service
  • Care inspectors will scrutinise NHS trusts on quality of plans to reduce violence against staff
  • Better training for staff to deal with violent situations, including challenging circumstances involving patients with dementia or mental health issues
  • A new system so that staff can record assaults more easily

NHS England will also look at national data to determine which staff are most vulnerable to violence and what more needs to be done.

Mr Hancock says: “We will not shy away from the issue – we want to empower staff and give them greater confidence to report violence, knowing that they will see meaningful action from trusts and a consistent prosecution approach from the judicial system.”

Royal College of Nursing National Officer, Kim Sunley said: “Nurses and health care workers understand their roles aren’t risk-free but – to many – it still seems as if the threat of physical violence is a daily reality.

“These measures are another way to change this for good by increasing the accountability of employers for the safety of their staff, and ensuring those who wilfully assault healthcare workers feel the full force of the law.”

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Being wrong weight ‘cuts four years off life’

Feet on scales Image copyright Getty Images

Being overweight or underweight could knock four years off life expectancy, a study in a Lancet journal suggests.

The report, one of the largest of its kind, involved nearly 2 million people who were registered with doctors in the UK.

Researchers found that, from the age of 40, people at the higher end of the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range had the lowest risk of dying from disease.

But people at the top and bottom ends of the BMI risked having shorter lives.

BMI is calculated by dividing an adult’s weight by the square of their height.

A “healthy” BMI score ranges from 18.5 to 25.

Most doctors say it is the best method they have of working out whether someone is obese because it is accurate and simple to measure.

‘Optimal level’

The study, published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, showed that life expectancy for obese men and women was 4.2 and 3.5 years shorter respectively than people in the entire healthy BMI weight range.

The difference for underweight men and women was 4.3 (men) and 4.5 (women) years.

BMI was associated with all causes of death categories, except transport-related accidents, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases.

However, not everybody in the healthy category is at the lowest risk of disease, according to report author Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran.

He told the BBC: “For most causes of death we found that there was an ‘optimal’ BMI level, with risk of death increasing both below and above that level.

“At BMIs below 21, we observed more deaths from most causes, compared with the optimum BMI levels. However, this might partly reflect the fact that low body weight can be a marker of underlying ill-health.

“For most causes of death, the bigger the weight difference, the bigger the association we observed with mortality risk.

“So a weight difference of half a stone would make a relatively small (but real) difference; we could detect these small effects because this was a very large study.”

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Your BMI is [bmi_result] which is in the [bmi_category] category.

BMI is a standard way of measuring if people are a healthy weight for their height. For most adults 18.5 to 24.9 is the healthy range.

Your BMI is [comparative] the average of [bmi_score] for a [gender_singular] in your age group ([user_age_group]) in [user_country].

About [percent]% of [gender_plural] in your age group in [user_country] are overweight, obese or very obese.

In all parts of the UK, the majority of the adult population is overweight, obese or very obese, according to the latest national surveys.

In [region], the figure is about [percentage]% of [gender_plural].

The information you’ve given us indicates you could be underweight.

There can be health risks associated with a low BMI such as anaemia, osteoporosis, a weakened immune system and fertility problems.

This is not a medical diagnostic tool so don’t panic if this isn’t the result you were expecting to see.

If you’re concerned about your weight, or your health in general, speak to a healthcare professional such as your GP.

You’re in the healthy range which is great. Research shows that having a healthy BMI can reduce your risk of serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

But not all people with a BMI in this range have a lower risk. Other factors such as smoking, high blood cholesterol or high blood pressure will increase your risk.

If you’re of Asian descent you have a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes at a lower BMI and waist circumference. A healthy BMI for you would be 18.5-23.

We’re more likely to gain weight as we get older so to stay a healthy weight you may need to make small changes to your diet or your activity levels as you age.

The information you’ve given us indicates you are overweight.

Research shows that a BMI above the healthy range can increase your risk of serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

A healthy BMI for a person of your height would be 18.5-24.9. If you’re of Asian descent you have a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes at a lower BMI and waist circumference. A healthy BMI for you would be 18.5-23.

Losing even a small amount of weight, if sustained, can have a big impact. For most people changing your diet is by far the best way to lose weight. Activity can help you maintain your target weight, and can have other health benefits, but increasing activity alone is not nearly as effective as diet at helping you shed the pounds.

Even small changes like reducing portion sizes or choosing lower calorie snacks and drinks can help you lose weight or stop putting it on.

The information you’ve given us indicates you’re in the obese category.

Research shows that having a BMI in this range will significantly increase your risk of serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

A healthy BMI for a person of your height would be 18.5-24.9. If you’re of Asian descent you have a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes at a lower BMI and waist circumference. A healthy BMI for you would be 18.5-23.

Losing even a small amount of weight, if sustained, can have a big impact. For most people changing your diet is by far the best way to lose weight. Activity can help you maintain your target weight, and can have other health benefits, but increasing activity alone is not nearly as effective as diet at helping you shed the pounds.

There’s lots of support available to help you make changes, either to lose weight or to stop putting on weight.

The information you’ve given us indicates you’re in the very obese category.

Research shows that having a BMI in this range will significantly increase your risk of serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

A healthy BMI for a person of your height would be 18.5-24.9. If you’re of Asian descent you have a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes at a lower BMI and waist circumference. A healthy BMI for you would be 18.5-23.

Losing even a small amount of weight, if sustained, can have a big impact. For most people changing your diet is by far the best way to lose weight. Activity can help you maintain your target weight, and can have other health benefits, but increasing activity alone is not nearly as effective as diet at helping you shed the pounds.

If you are concerned, or would like to find out more, speak to your doctor or GP. If you are ready to make lifestyle changes, there is lots of support available.

BMI is not the only way of measuring whether you are a healthy weight.

Doctors say that carrying too much fat around your belly can increase your risk of health problems. Excess fat in this area can stress internal organs – even if your BMI is in the healthy range.

Your waist size is [size]

For [gender_plural], the NHS says a waist size of:

80cm (31.5 inches) or more

means an increased risk of health problems

88cm (34 inches) or more

means a very high risk of health problems

94cm (37 inches) or more

means an increased risk of health problems

102cm (40 inches) or more

means a very high risk of health problems

People from non-white ethnic groups may be at risk at a lower waist size

How to check your waist with just a piece of string

If you can’t see the calculator tap or click here.

Some experts have questioned whether BMI is an accurate way of analysing a person’s health.

However, Dr Katarina Kos, senior lecturer in Diabetes and Obesity at the University of Exeter, believes it is.

“For the majority of people, BMI is a good measure,” she told the BBC.

Dr Kos added that the report did not contain any surprises but added that overweight people who could lower their BMI may reap the health benefits.

“We know from the diabetes remission data how low-calorie diets and weight loss can improve diabetes, for example,” she said.

“And we know weight loss can also help in improving risk so that would also then improve mortality rates.”

The report suggested that a higher BMI in older people may not be as dangerous, because a bit of extra weight was “protective” for them.

But Dr Kos, who worked on a report on this topic in 60 to 69-year-olds last year, disagreed with the findings.

Her report, on what is known as the obesity risk paradox, did not “support acceptance” of the theory.

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