Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 October 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. Queen attacks ‘all talk’ leaders

The Queen has been caught on microphone criticising world leaders who “talk” but “don’t do” when it comes to climate change. During a conversation at the opening of the Welsh parliament in Cardiff, she told the Duchess of Cornwall and Elin Jones, the parliament's presiding officer: “Extraordinary isn’t it... I’ve been hearing all about COP[26]... still don’t know who is coming... no idea. We only know about people who are not coming... It’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.”

What could be achieved at COP26?

2. Austerity ‘killed 50,000 more’

Cuts to public spending resulted in tens of thousands of deaths in England, according a study in the journal BMJ Open. Researchers who studied the impact of austerity after 2010 found that in the following four years cuts to the NHS, public health and social care were linked with 57,550 more deaths than would have been expected. The research by the University of York also found that life expectancy grew more slowly after David Cameron’s cuts to health and social care funding.

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From 2017: what did austerity achieve?

3. ‘Pilloried’ GPs warn of exodus

Doctors have warned that guaranteeing face-to-face appointments for patients could lead to a crippling exodus of GPs already exhausted by the pandemic and despairing of being “pilloried” by ministers, reported The Guardian. “The last thing GPs are is lazy, and that goes for other members of our team as well,” said Professor Martin Marshall, the chair of the Royal College of GPs.

Where have all the doctors and nurses gone?

4. France blames Brexit for shortages

Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, has told the BBC that leaving the single market after Brexit has made the supply chain crisis worse for the UK. “We are facing the same situation,” he conceded at the G7 meetings in Washington, “but the fact that we are a member of a very important single market helps us facing these bottlenecks.” Several British retailers have said they risk shortages during the Christmas shopping season.

Felixstowe: the problems at UK’s biggest shipping port

5. Cambridge scraps UAE talks

Negotiations between Cambridge University and the United Arab Emirates about a partnership worth more than £400m have been derailed by the Gulf state’s use of Pegasus hacking software. Stephen Toope, the outgoing vice-chancellor, said “further revelations about Pegasus really caused us to decide that it’s not the right time to be pursuing these kinds of really ambitious plans with the UAE”.

Pegasus: behind the hacking spyware

6. Fertility rate drops

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed the fertility rate in England and Wales fell to 1.58 children per woman last year – the lowest since records began in 1938. The current rate is 4.2% lower than in 2019. The ONS said improved access to contraception and the cost of raising children could be reasons for the decline, but the British Pregnancy Advisory Service also blamed financial uncertainty caused by the Covid pandemic.

How a baby shortage could affect the UK’s economy

7. Child suicides soar in Japan

Suicides among Japanese children hit a record high during the last school year, according to an education ministry report. Japan recorded 415 suicides among schoolchildren aged between six and 18 during the 2020 school year, which is the highest number since records began in 1974. The total was 31% higher than the previous school year, when 317 schoolchildren died. “The increase in suicides is extremely alarming,” said a minister.

8. Bill Clinton in hospital

Bill Clinton has been receiving hospital treatment in California for a “non-Covid-related infection”, a spokesman said. The former US president, 75, is “on the mend” and “in good spirits” after being admitted to UC Irvine Medical Center on Tuesday, said Angel Urena. Clinton, who has a history of heart disease, remained at the hospital for “continuous monitoring,” said the physicians.

9. ‘Most influential black Briton’ named

Jacky Wright, the London-born corporate vice-president and chief digital officer at Microsoft US, has been named as named as the UK’s most influential black person. In the Powerlist 2022, the annual list of the UK’s most powerful people of African, African-Caribbean and African-American heritage, the footballer and campaigner, Marcus Rashford, came in second place while Anne Mensah, vice-president of Content UK at Netflix, was third.

10. Centrist Macron stars in midfield

Emmanuel Macron appeared in midfield at a charity football match on Thursday. After a kiss from his wife Brigitte, the French president was “all smiles” as he took to the pitch in Poissy, outside Paris, alongside former international defender Marcel Desailly and ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. The “political centrist” even slotted away a penalty “straight down the middle”, reported The Telegraph.

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