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Workplace absences ‘at 10-year high’ with stress the major cause of long-term sickness | Business News

Workplace absences have hit their highest level in over a decade, according to a report which is urging employers to take health more seriously if they want to retain staff.

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) said that analysis of data from over 900 companies employing 6.5 million staff found an average 7.8 absence days per employee over the past year.

That was up a whole two days per person compared to pre-pandemic levels.

While minor illnesses were the main factor behind short-term absences, stress was also high on the list – with work-related and cost of living pressures among the reasons.

The report said 76% of respondents had been off work due to stress over the past year, adding that it was also a top cause of longer-term absences.

Mental health was blamed for 63% of long-term absences.

The human resources body said just over a third of organisations had reported that COVID-19 remained a significant cause of short-term absence.

The findings chime with official figures showing long-term sickness running at a record rate.

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said earlier this month that more than 2.6 million people do not have jobs due to their health.

It reported that the list had grown by 464,225 over the three months from April to June, compared to the same period last year.

At the same time, a report on the issue by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) described the growing numbers as a “serious fiscal threat” to the UK.

The think tank said long NHS waiting lists were a contributing factor – in the cost to the taxpayer as well as people’s declining health.

The absence report, supported by health plan provider Simplyhealth, showed that a variety of workplace support schemes were on the rise but many lacked flexible working options and health services.

The study’s authors suggested it was vital that companies, many desperate to retain staff amid current labour shortages, raise their game.

Rachel Suff, senior employee wellbeing adviser at the CIPD, said: “External factors like the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have had profound impacts on many people’s wellbeing.

“It’s good to see that slightly more organisations are approaching health and wellbeing through a stand-alone strategy.

“However, we need a more systematic and preventative approach to workplace health.

“This means managing the main risks to people’s health from work to prevent stress as well as early intervention to prevent health issues from escalating where possible.”

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Claudia Nicholls, chief customer officer at Simplyhealth said: “With record numbers of people off sick, employers have a vital role to play in supporting them through workplace health and wellbeing services.

“They can have a positive impact on the economy and ease pressure on the NHS.

“Despite an increasing number of workplace health and wellbeing services being put in place, employees are experiencing increasing mental health issues and the highest rate of sickness absence in a decade.

“However, focusing on fixing sickness alone is unlikely to uncover areas where any significant improvements can be made; companies need to implement preventative health and wellbeing strategies that are supported by the most senior levels of leadership and build line manager skills and confidence to support wellbeing.”

Carl Alesbrook: Teenager charged over death of four-month-old – as baby’s mother faces cruelty allegation | UK News

A teenager has been charged with murder over the death of a four-month-old baby.

Carl Alesbrook has also been charged with causing grievous bodily harm to the boy, named Elijah, who died in January last year.

At the time, the 18-year-old was the partner of Elijah’s mother, India Shemwell.

She has been charged with cruelty to a person under 16.

Shemwell, of Derby, has been released on police bail, while Alesbrook, of Matlock, has been remanded in police custody.

He is due to appear at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

It comes after police were called to an address in the town of Belper, Derbyshire, just before 10.50pm on 2 January last year.

Officers attended the property after a report that a young baby was in cardiac arrest.

Elijah, was taken to hospital by ambulance, but died three days later on 5 January.

ECB pledges to make cricket more inclusive – as Azeem Rafiq questions whether reforms will ‘stop the racism I experienced’ | UK News

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has pledged to make the sport “a game for everyone” by introducing an independent regulator and investing £25m a year into the women’s game.

A report in June by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) found racism, sexism, elitism and class-based discrimination was “widespread and deep-rooted” within the sport.

It said women in cricket were treated as “second-class citizens” and recommended the ECB strive to ensure equal pay on average at domestic level by 2029 and at international level by 2030.

Setting out its formal response to the findings on Monday following a three-month consultation, the ECB committed to a new independent cricket regulator responsible for enforcing regulations and carrying out investigations.

It also said it would invest £25m a year above the revenue it receives from the women’s game into growing women’s and girls’ cricket at all levels until at least 2028 – which comes after the ECB announced in August that England Women will earn the same match fees as the men’s side.

Other reforms include tripling the number of girls’ club teams by 2026, providing support and training across the cricket network to enhance understanding of discrimination and the management of complaints across the cricket network, more ambitious targets for gender and ethnic diversity, and developing action plans to tackle specific barriers facing state school and black children.

ECB chair Richard Thompson said: “This response represents a set of actions that will accelerate and intensify our work to make cricket a game for everyone, actions that cricket can deliver and fund within an achievable timeframe. It builds on a huge amount of work which is already under way right across the network.

“Cricket hasn’t got it right in the past, but this is an opportunity to move forwards together.”

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However, former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq, said he was “disappointed” with the lack of detail and clarity in the ECB’s response.

He told Sky News: “There are a couple of positives, but I just expected a little bit more, it’s quite frustrating.”

While he welcomed some of the initiatives as “a step in the right direction”, he questioned whether the actions would “stop the overt racism that I experienced”.

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‘I’m a little bit disappointed in the lack of detail’

In July, Yorkshire County Cricket Club was fined £400,000 and had a total of 52 points deducted over its handling of the racism scandal linked to Rafiq.

The ICEC inquiry collected evidence from more than 4,000 people and found the sort of discrimination and abuse faced by Rafiq was widespread.

“People are still getting in touch about experiences and really struggling to know where to go and who to trust,” he said.

“A stronger response today would have helped change that.”

“I’m not sure they have listened,” he continued, adding: “I think they have listened to people who have told them what they wanted to hear, and that is why change is so difficult.”

ICEC chair Cindy Butts said: “We are carefully considering the ECB’s published response to our recommendations, we will share our considered view when we give evidence to the CMS [Culture, Media, and Sport] select committee.”

Tomb older than the pyramids moved to new home in Northern Ireland | UK News

A Neolithic tomb that predates the pyramids of Ancient Egypt has been put on permanent display at a museum in Northern Ireland.

It dates back more than 6,000 years and was discovered in Ballintaggart in Co Armagh.

The Ballintaggart Court Tomb is a series of upright stones with a semicircular courtyard shape at the entrance to the burial chambers where human remains would have been left and is one of about 400 of its type on the island.

It was dug up from its original location in 1966 after being put at risk from the expansion of a nearby quarry and taken to Ulster Museum.

Now the stones have been rehomed at Ulster Folk Museum where the structure has been recreated outside the attraction with the use of 3D modelling.

Dr Greer Ramsey, curator of archaeology at National Museums NI, said the large structures became more popular in the country as ancient people created permanent settlements.

“Court tombs take their name from a semicircular arc of upright stones marking the entrance to the burial chambers,” he said.

“The Neolithic period to which they belong was revolutionary as it marked the end to a nomadic or hunter-gatherer way of life.

“New settlers arrived about 6,000 years ago, bringing with them farming skills and many of the plants and domestic animals we are familiar with today.

“With a more secure food supply, people could live for longer in one place and invest in larger, more permanent structures, such as tombs.”

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Undated handout photo of William Blair, director of collections at National Museums NI, Joe Garvey, chairman of the Richmount Rural Community Association in Portadown, and Dr Greer Ramsey, curator of archaeology at National Museums NI by the Ballintaggart Court Tomb. The court tomb which are older than Egypt's pyramids has secured a permanent new home on display at the Ulster Folk Museum. The 6,000-year-old tomb, which dates back to the Neolithic era, was discovered in Ballintaggart, Co Armagh.
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William Blair, Joe Garvey, chairman of the Richmount Rural Community Association in Portadown, and Dr Greer Ramsey at the site

William Blair, director of collections at National Museums NI, said: “It is a brilliant illustration of how the museum can connect Ulster’s unique heritage spanning thousands of years to the present day. We are grateful to our project partners for their input and support.”

The tomb’s arrival at the venue comes as Ulster Folk Museum revealed its investment plans which included widening access to its collection.

Visitors can see the structure outside in the rural section of the museum as part of a regular admission ticket.

Migraine treatment times ‘almost double’ in England amid calls for condition to be taken seriously | UK News

The time people are waiting to be treated for migraines has almost doubled in England, according to a new report.

And the Migraine Trust has called for the “debilitating and stigmatised” condition to be taken seriously by clinicians.

The charity said there should be greater awareness of the pathways that exist for managing migraines, which can cause severe pain as well as nausea, confusion and blurred vision.

One in seven adults – or 10 million people – in the UK are thought to be affected by migraines.

And more than one million have chronic migraine – which means they experience headaches for at least 15 days of the month.

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Robert Music, chief executive of the Migraine Trust, said: “Not only are patients struggling, but poor management of migraine is putting unnecessary additional strain on an already struggling NHS.

“We are seeing rising A&E admissions for migraine across the UK.

“There is a shortage of GPs, consultants and nurses specialising in headache to meet the need that we know exists, and a broad lack of understanding of the condition, meaning patients are not being treated in the right place or at the right time, if at all.”

Data obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the Migraine Trust revealed waiting times for patients requiring specialist care for migraines in England have increased from 15 weeks in 2021 to an average of 29 weeks in 2023.

It also claims access to new drugs is being “hindered” by wait times, along with a lack of specialist doctors and nurses.

Dr Brendan Davies, chairman of the British Association for the Study of Headache and a consultant neurologist at Royal Stoke University Hospital, said: “The time has come for a nationally-agreed educational framework and quality standard for primary care, as we have with other important long-term conditions.”

Dehenna Davison MP arrives at Here East studios in Stratford, east London, before the live television debate for the candidates for leadership of the Conservative party, hosted by Channel 4. Picture date: Friday July 15, 2022.
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Dehenna Davison

Levelling up minister Dehenna Davison resigned from the role earlier this month due to her ongoing battle with chronic migraine.

The Conservative MP said: “Migraine affects so many people in the UK and yet awareness of what it really is remains painfully limited.

“No, it is not just a headache – it is a complex condition that can greatly impact individuals and their families every single day.

“We need to improve awareness about the symptoms and challenges of migraine to help improve access to quality treatments and improve the workplace experience.”

Man arrested on suspicion of murder after woman found dead in Blackpool | UK News

A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a woman in Blackpool.

Police detained the 35-year-old today on suspicion of murder after Alison Dodds, 51, was discovered at a flat in Redcar Road on Thursday.

A post-mortem examination established she died from serious injuries.

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Webb of Lancashire Police’s Force Major Incident Team, added: “We have a dedicated team of officers working tirelessly to establish the circumstances surrounding her death.

“However, my thoughts do remain with Alison’s friends and loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”

Marcus Rashford unhurt after car crash on way home from Manchester United training ground | UK News

Manchester United and England forward Marcus Rashford walked away unhurt from a crash while driving home, Sky News understands.

Rashford arrived back in Manchester following United’s 1-0 win away at Burnley on Saturday night and was on his way home after arriving at Carrington, the club’s training base.

No ambulance was required after Rashford was involved in a collision with another vehicle.

According to The Sun newspaper, Rashford had just left Carrington in his £700,000 Rolls Royce when the collision happened.

Pictures and footage posted online in the aftermath of the incident showed the damage suffered by his Rolls Royce.

Rashford posted on Instagram on Sunday to say he is “alright” and “thanks for the messages”, while celebrating the win over Burnley.

“3 points on the road! I’m alright guys thanks for the messages,” he wrote.

‘Money is not infinite’: Grant Shapps hints at change to HS2 plans as northern leg looks set to be scrapped | Politics News

Grant Shapps has hinted at a change to plans for HS2, as the northern section of the rail project looks set to be scrapped.

Sky News understands the high-speed line planned between Birmingham and Manchester will be binned by the prime minister due to concerns over the cost of the much delayed project.

And it is still unclear if the final section between Old Oak Common in west London and the planned central destination in the capital at Euston will go ahead.

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Speaking to Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips show, Mr Shapps would not confirm the reports, but he suggested there could be a change to the “sequencing” and “pace” of HS2 from the government due to the soaring price tag.

“Money is not infinite,” said the former transport secretary, who is now in charge of the Ministry of Defence.

“All of these big decisions where budgets are, in particularly in the case of HS2, inexorably going higher and higher and higher and your viewers are having to pay that bill, it is absolutely right that the government looks at it and says hold on a minute, is this just a sort of open ended cheque or are we going to make sure this project gets delivered to a pace and a timetable that actually works for the taxpayer?

“We take those long term decisions seriously, but we don’t think any amount of money, no matter how big the budget gets, that you should just carry on ploughing it in. There has a point where you say hold on a minute, let’s just take a break here.”

Mr Shapps also pointed to the impact of COVID and the Ukraine war on the public purse.

“The country has to respond to the circumstances,” he said. “We did not know there would be coronavirus, a one in 100 year event… we didn’t know there would be a war on in Europe… so of course, if circumstances change, you have to look at the sequencing of the big infrastructure cash that you spend.

“Any government that doesn’t do that, any opposition that claims you don’t need to is not fit to govern this country.”

But the expected announcement was slammed by Labour’s mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, who said people in the north of England were “always treated as second class citizens when it comes to transport”.

He told Sky News: “This was the parliament where they said they would level us up. If they leave a situation where the southern half of the country is connected by modern high speed lines and the north of England is left with Victorian infrastructure, that is a recipe for the north/south divide to become a north/south chasm over the rest of this century.

“That is why people here are fed up with false promises and also watching now what seems to be the desperate acts of a dying government. This is not right and not fair to people here who were given so many promises.”

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Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, attacked the decision to scrap the northern leg of the high speed rail line.

HS2 was first touted by Labour in 2009, but it was the coalition government that signed off the plan, designed to connected the South, Midlands and North of England with state of the art infrastructure.

Despite billions being poured into the project, it has been beset by delays and rising costs – with the eastern leg scrapped entirely and work between Birmingham and Crewe delayed due to the impact of inflation.

Some estimates have put the total cost at over £100bn, while the project has been rated “unachievable” by the infrastructure watchdog.

However, plans to scrap the northern leg have been criticised on all sides of the political spectrum.

Former Tory prime minister Boris Johnson called it “desperate” and “Treasury-driven nonsense”, while one of his predecessors, David Cameron, is said to have privately cautioned against it, with an ally telling the Times that HS2 was “a totemic Conservative pledge”.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman questions whether international migration rules are ‘fit for purpose’ | Politics News

The home secretary has questioned whether international migration rules and conventions designed more than a century ago are “fit for purpose” ahead of a major speech in the United States.

Suella Braverman suggested a shake-up of international rules could be needed to tackle the migrant crisis.

She warned a failure to address the problem will undermine the “democratic legitimacy” of political institutions.

Ms Braverman has previously stated her personal view that the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights signed in 1950, which she has blamed for hampering efforts to introduce tough policies, such the Home Office bid to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Critics of her approach also questioned its compliance with the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention.

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‘Will you electronically tag migrants?’

Ahead of her trip, the home secretary said: “Illegal migration and the unprecedented mass movement of people across the globe is placing unsustainable pressures on America, the UK, and Europe.

“We must come together and ask whether the international conventions and legal frameworks designed 50-plus years ago are fit for purpose in an age of jet travel and smartphones.

“I’m going to Washington to discuss this crisis with our American counterparts.

“If we fail to meet these challenges, then our political institutions risk losing their democratic legitimacy.”

Ms Braverman will travel to Washington on Monday and deliver a keynote speech on Tuesday setting out her assessment of the global migration challenges.

She will present a blueprint for how other countries can combat the crisis and claim the UK has led the way in bringing forward innovative approaches to tackle the problem.

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Almost 24,000 people have been detected crossing the English Channel so far this year, despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s promise to “stop the boats” – though the figure is down from 2022.

The Rwanda scheme has been bogged down in legal battles, while an attempt to house people waiting for claims to be assessed on a barge in Dorset is paused after Legionella was discovered on board.

Ms Braverman is expected to also use her trip to seek closer co-operation with US authorities on tackling illegal migration and people traffickers.

Murder investigation under way in Blackpool after woman found with ‘multiple injuries’ | UK News

A murder investigation is under way in Blackpool after a woman was found with “multiple injuries”.

Police were called to Redcar Road shortly before 11pm on Thursday to a report of an unexpected death.

The victim was identified today as Alison Dodds.

Officers are now treating her death as suspicious and have stepped up patrols in the area.

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Webb, of Lancashire Police, said: “First and foremost, my thoughts are with Alison’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.

“This is a tragic case, but our investigation team are determined to find out the full circumstances surrounding her death.

“We appreciate that this incident will have caused concern in the community and so I would like to reassure people that we have stepped up patrols in the area, and you can expect to see a visible police presence for some time.”

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Anybody who witnessed anything or captured footage of anything suspicious on Redcar Road has been asked to contact police with information.