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Thousands evacuated from buildings in London after gas leak | UK News

Thousands of people have been evacuated from buildings after a gas leak in central London.

Firefighters are at the scene of the incident on Southwark Street in the borough of Southwark.

Other emergency services are also there, as is the gas board which “is working to isolate the gas leak and make the scene safe”, said London Fire Brigade (LFB).

Traffic is “heavily disrupted” and a cordon remains in place as a precaution.

Around 2,000 people have been evacuated from buildings.

No injuries have been reported following the incident by the junction of Great Suffolk Street.

The LFB later said a large number of those people who were evacuated have now left the area.

The fire brigade had said in a post on X just before 3pm: “We’re currently at the scene of a suspected gas leak on Southwark Street in Southwark. Emergency service colleagues are also in attendance.

“A cordon and road closure is in place and several buildings have been evacuated as a precaution. Please avoid the area at this time.”

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A later post just before 4pm said: “We remain at the scene of a suspected gas leak in Southwark Street, by the junction of Great Suffolk Street.

“Around 2,000 people have been evacuated from buildings as a precaution with no injuries reported. Traffic is very heavy and people are advised to keep avoiding the area.”

And a third post just after 5pm read: “The gas board are on site in Southwark Street working to isolate the gas leak and make the scene safe.

“A large number of those evacuated have now left the area. A cordon remains in place as a precaution and traffic is still heavily disrupted.”

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How cancer patients receive the most modern care in buildings that are ‘not fit for purpose’ | UK News

Graham Hart has stage four cancer. It’s in his liver and his colon.

The 60-year-old self-employed businessman noticed some bleeding after going to the toilet and made an appointment to see his GP.

The doctor referred Mr Hart to the cancer specialists at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Mr Hart says the news was devastating but now treatment is under way he is more hopeful.

Graham Hart has stage 4 cancer
Image:
Graham Hart has stage four cancer

“I’ve seen the news and you do have anxiety about these things but once you’re up and running… it’s OK.”

Mr Hart is receiving the most modern medical care but his treatment is carried out in a building that opened in 1839.

And it shows.

The rain flooded through the ceiling of the waiting room yesterday forcing the evacuation of waiting patients to a drier part of the building.

There is a gaping hole in the ceiling and buckets are still there in case there is more bad weather.

Next door on the cancer ward the electrics can’t be upgraded or the listed building’s structure changed in any way.

Rain came down through the roof at the Royal Berkshire Hospital
Image:
Rain came down through the roof at the Royal Berkshire Hospital

Walking through the empty room, Mark Foulkes, the president of the UK Oncology Nursing Society, points to the hole in the ceiling and says: “The fact is that some of these buildings are just not fit for purpose, as we can see here – it rained last night as you remember, and it also unfortunately rained in here.

“So, patient care continues, we’ll get on with that, the staff are brilliant.

“The fact that we’re used to dealing with this tells you something about the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis.”

Buckets were put out in the waiting room to catch water
Image:
Buckets were put out in the waiting room in case there was more rain

It’s against challenges like this that the NHS must work to bring down record waiting lists at a time when demand for services continues to grow.

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Steve McManus started his career as a nurse. He is now the chief executive of Royal Berkshire Foundation NHS Trust.

He welcomes a new 15-year workforce plan to boost the number of health staff but says these workers will need the infrastructure to do their jobs properly.

Mr McManus said: “We also need a longer term plan, like the NHS workforce plan that starts to address the sort of physical environment, the technological environment, with the kit that we need to deliver modern healthcare services.”

The government says it will eventually deliver thousands of extra doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals but the workforce plan is long term and the benefits will not be felt for years to come even though the pressures for the NHS are present now.

The hospital’s emergency department recorded its busiest ever day ever just a few weeks ago with over 600 patients seen.

That’s more than three times the number they would expect to see in the summer.

It is more evidence that NHS pressures exist all year round and not just during winter.

On Wednesday 5 July the NHS marked its 75th anniversary, with Sky News exclusively revealing almost half of people in Britain feel NHS care will get worse in the coming years.

It comes as experts warned that the NHS – created in July 1948 – may not reach its 100th birthday without more resources and fundamental reforms.

There is no denying the NHS its history, but unless it gets urgent help it’s future will be in doubt.

School buildings at risk of collapse must be urgently made safe to avoid disaster, say unions | UK News

The government must take urgent action to ensure deteriorating school buildings “at risk of collapse” are made safe, say unions.

In a letter to Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, a coalition asked for a statement on what steps were being taken to keep pupils and staff safe.

Crumbling buildings could end up “costing lives” if they are not repaired, according to school leaders’ union NAHT.

The others that signed the open letter are the National Education Union (NEU), the NASUWT, Unison, Unite, GMB and Community.

They say it is “truly shocking” that a Department for Education (DfE) report conceded that some buildings were at risk of collapse.

Published in December, it warned: “There is a risk of collapse of one or more blocks in some schools which are at or approaching the end of their designed life-expectancy and structural integrity is impaired.

“The risk predominantly exists in those buildings built in the years 1945 to 1970 which used ‘system build’ light frame techniques.”

The DfE admitted the risk was “worsening” – something the unions say shows the situation has “reached absolute rock bottom”.

‘Disaster waiting to happen’

Kevin Courtney, NEU general secretary, said it was “disgraceful” that school buildings had been allowed to fall into a dangerous state, and worrying that the government “does not even know which buildings fall into this category”.

“In one of the most advanced economies in the world it is shocking that many children, young people and school staff work and learn in an environment that is dangerously unsafe,” he said.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, called it a “disaster waiting to happen, which in the worst-case scenario could end up costing lives”.

The unions want a full list of the buildings that could collapse and disclosure of when they will be made safe.

A DfE spokesperson said: “We take the safety of pupils and staff extremely seriously. The department works closely with schools and responsible bodies to ensure all schools buildings are well maintained and safe.

“If the department is made aware of a building that poses an imminent risk of collapsing, immediate action is taken to ensure safety and remediate the situation.

“At present, the department is not aware of any school building that remains open in this state and would expect responsible bodies to immediately approach us if this were the case.”