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COVID-19: Study suggests almost half of ICU staff have turned to alcohol or had suicidal thoughts | UK News

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Ambulances outside the Royal London hospital in London after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a new national lockdown for England which means people will only be able to leave their homes for limited reasons, with measures expected to stay in place until mid-February.

Almost half of intensive care workers have turned to alcohol or had suicidal thoughts during the coronavirus pandemic, a new study suggests.

The research shows that 45% of ICU staff polled met the clinical threshold for at least one of the following: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe anxiety or depression and problem drinking.

One in eight (13%) said they had experienced frequent thoughts of “being better off dead” or hurting themselves within the past two weeks.

The study, published in the Occupational Medicine journal, surveyed 709 healthcare workers from nine intensive care wards across England in June and July 2020, but has not yet been peer reviewed.

It also indicated that nurses suffered worse mental health implications than doctors during the first wave of the crisis.

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The lead author of the study, Professor Neil Greenberg of the KCL Institute for Psychiatry, said the mental health implications of the pandemic on NHS staff are “highly likely to impair ability to provide high quality care”.

He said the high mortality rate of COVID-19 and challenges around communication with next of kin and end-of-life care due to visiting restrictions in hospitals were among the highest stress factors among intensive care staff.

Currently there are more than 35,000 people in hospital with coronavirus in the UK – and more than 3,300 on ventilators.

Doctors and nurses working on COVID wards, particularly those in London where rates are highest, have said they are at breaking point as admissions continue to rise.

The government is reported to be considering tightening lockdown rules in England even further in a bid to take pressure off the NHS.

Professor Greenberg said that while the results of his new study were not surprising, “they should serve as a stark reminder to NHS managers of the pressing need to protect the mental health of ICU workers now in order to ensure they can deliver vital care to those in need”.

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Queues of ambulances outside an NHS hospital as COVID admissions spiral

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), added: “The nurses I speak to every day tell me that they have no fuel left in the tank and their resilience is being seriously tested.

“Nursing staff need help now to deal with unimaginable levels of anxiety and stress, but there must also be a long-term plan to tackle problems, like PTSD, which may reoccur over many years.”

Separate data shows that the number of doctors seeking psychiatric help through their union the British Medical Association (BMA) has increased since the pandemic began.

A total of 371 doctors accessed the BMA’s helpline in November – up from 251 the previous January – an increase of almost 50%.

An NHS spokeswoman said: “This is an incredibly tough time for NHS staff working on the front line which is why we have invested £15m in support, including 38 local mental health and wellbeing hubs and a service for staff with complex mental health needs, such as trauma and addiction.”

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COVID-19: Town’s rapid coronavirus testing centres close as snow sweeps across parts of England | UK News

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COVID-19: Town's rapid coronavirus testing centres close as snow sweeps across parts of England | UK News

All three rapid COVID testing centres in Luton have been shut because of snow in the area, the council has said, while other parts of England have also woken up to snowfall.

Confirming the decision on Twitter, the council said it would be closing the centres “for the safety of the public and our staff”.

But social media users have complained of a lack of snow, with some branding the council’s move “utterly embarrassing”.

“Just been to the shop….more ‘snow’ in a snow globe!!!” wrote one Twitter user, while others said closing the testing sites was a “bizarre decision”.

Luton had a rate of new COVID cases in the seven days to 11 January of 808.3, according to Public Health England data. That was down from 961.7 on the previous week.

It comes after the Met Office warned that parts of southeast England and East Anglia will continue to see further snow on Saturday, with between 2cm and 4cm falling over the coming hours.

An amber snow alert was put in place for the east of England until 2pm, with yellow snow warnings for the South East until 8pm.

A further yellow snow and ice warning has been issued in a band stretching from the Midlands to the top of Scotland until 6pm on Saturday.

The Met Office said there was a likelihood of “delays or cancellations to rail and air travel, possible travel delays on roads stranding some vehicles and passengers”.

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TikTok video showing car parked across live railway line investigated by police | UK News

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The video had the caption 'would you take risk to get the shot no one else would?'

Police are appealing for information after a video posted on TikTok showed a car parked across a live railway track for a photoshoot.

The short clip shows the vehicle across the tracks in Bolton, Greater Manchester, with the caption: “Would you take the risk to get the shot no one else would?”

Network Rail’s North West route director has condemned the behaviour as “sheer stupidity at a staggering level”.

British Transport Police is investigating the footage.

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The video had the caption ‘would you take risk to get the shot no one else would?’

Inspector Becky Warren from the force said: “No picture or video is worth risking your life for.

“There is simply no excuse for not following safety procedures at level crossings. The behaviour shown by the individuals in this video is incredibly dangerous and reckless.”

The video showed the car across tracks at The Oaks level crossing, at Bromley Cross near Bolton.

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Police are investigating a video posted on TikTok that shows a car photoshoot on a live railway crossing at Bromleys Cross, Bolton
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The photoshoot took place in Bromley Cross in Bolton

Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “The danger this person has put themselves and passengers in is sheer stupidity at a staggering level.

“Trespassing on the railway is a crime, as is endangering the lives of rail users.

“No-one should ever trespass onto the railway – so for it to be used as a backdrop for a photo shoot beggars belief.

“Lives could so easily have been lost by this reckless behaviour and we will be working closely with British Transport Police to make sure the person responsible for the video is brought to justice.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the British Transport Police on 61016 quoting the reference number 122 of 14/01/21.

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Alexey Navalny: Poisoned Putin critic faces jail on return to Russia | World News

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Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia pose for a selfie with their children in a video released on 31 December on his Instagram account

Alexey Navalny is flying back to Russia and straight into the hands of the authorities.

Not only does he face a slew of fresh criminal charges against him but he will also once again be at the mercy of Russia’s domestic spy agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), which he says tried to poison him.

It is an extraordinarily brave and risk-filled undertaking. It is also true to form.

Arrest for Alexey Navalny is nothing new. Nor is carving out a life of activism between court appearances, house arrest and prolonged periods in detention.

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Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia pose for a selfie with their children on NYE

He has repeatedly said he would return to Russia after his convalescence in Germany.

Had he not been poisoned by a novichok nerve agent, with treatment abroad the only way to keep him alive, he never would have left in the first place.

He is now on the Federal Wanted List and is implicated in a number of criminal and administrative cases which give law enforcement broad scope to keep him under prolonged investigation, most probably well beyond September’s parliamentary elections which the powers that be in the Kremlin do not want him around for.

Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service has submitted a request to revoke a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence which wrapped up in December and imprison him instead.

They say he “systematically and repeatedly violated” the terms of his probation both whilst he was in Germany and on a number of occasions before.

If the court agrees, he could serve three-and-a-half-years in jail, minus a few months already spent under house arrest.

Alexei Navalny is seen at a Siberian airport before boarding the plane where he was taken ill. Pic: @djpavlin
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Mr Navalny at a Siberian airport before boarding the plane where he was taken ill. Pic: @djpavlin

On top of that, Russia’s investigative committee has opened a new criminal case accusing him of the supposed misallocation of crowd-sourced funds at his RBK anti-corruption foundation.

“If they really want to go after him, this would be the worst case scenario,” says his lawyer Vadim Kobzev.

“Three-and-a-half-years and then 10 years on top of that which is the maximum he can get for this new criminal case.”

He thinks a jail term of that length is unlikely. Recent cases against Mr Navalny have all resulted in suspended sentences, “but we’re all trying to read the tea leaves here,” Mr Kobzev says.

Vladmir Putin is ready to improve ties with the US, the Kremlin says
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Mr Putin has joked that if the FSB were responsible, they would have ‘finished the job’

The authorities’ most likely course of action – at least in the medium term – will be extended periods under house arrest with restrictions placed on, for example, his use of the internet.

Mr Navalny off-line is far less of a threat to Mr Putin’s cronies than the anti-corruption investigations he posts to his YouTube channel. His team will endeavour to keep those going but it is not the same.

And suffice to say, despite the slew of investigations into Mr Navalny’s own alleged wrong-doing, authorities have still refused to open any kind of inquiry into how exactly the symbol of Russia’s democratic opposition ended up fighting for his life on a work trip to Siberia, with a deadly novichok nerve agent coursing through his veins.

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President Vladimir Putin’s glib comment that the FSB would have finished the job if they had really wanted him dead is no substitute.

Nor, as Mr Navalny so convincingly proved in a telephone call with one of the FSB officers tasked with cleaning up the evidence of his poisoning, is it true.

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