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General Election 2024: Tory wipeout and 12 ministers at risk of losing seats, YouGov poll suggests | Politics News

Labour could be on course to win a historic landslide, with the party expected to win a 194-seat majority, a YouGov poll shows.

It would be the highest number of seats of any party at any election since Stanley Baldwin won a majority of 208 in 1924.

Sky News has partnered with YouGov for the campaign and today we publish the first of their three polling projections, known as MRPs, which suggests the United Kingdom is on the cusp of a major redrawing of the political landscape.

The projection shows a historic Labour landslide, bigger than Tony Blair achieved in 1997.

It also projects a Tory wipeout in large parts of the country, a Lib Dem surge and the Scottish National Party losing over half its seats in Scotland, if the election were being held right now.

Election latest: Farage announces he will stand

The poll has Labour on 422 seats, up 222 compared to the 2019 results based on new constituency boundaries. This is the highest number of Labour seats on record, and a much bigger majority than anything else since the Second World War.

YouGov MRP poll for Sky News suggests that there are no safe Tory seats remaining

A 194 majority for Starmer would dwarf Mr Blair’s 1997 landslide majority of 179 and that of Margaret Thatcher, who got 144 in 1983.

The Conservatives would plummet to 140 seats, down 232 – as they face a near wipeout in London, the North East, the North West and Wales. This is the lowest since 1906 when they won 131 seats. This means the party retreats predominantly to the South East, South West and East Anglia.

This projection gives the Tories significantly fewer seats than the previous lowest number of Tory seats in British post-war history: 165 in 1997.

The Lib Dems would get 48 seats according to this projection, up 40 on 2019, quadrupling their seats and far higher than Lib Dem pollsters were predicting last year. This would mean Ed Davey’s party does not break records but takes them back to their previous levels of success under Lord Ashdown, who got 46 seats in 1997 and 62 under Charles Kennedy.

The SNP would get 17 of 57 seats in Scotland in this projection and down 31 seats on the notional 2019 results. This is the nationalist party’s lowest score this decade and well down from the peak of 56 out of 59 seats in 2015.

YouGov’s polling projection is based on interviews with 53,334 people in England and Wales and 5,541 in Scotland, with data collected between 24 May and 1 June.

This projection, which models how each individual constituency would vote, implies the following vote shares: Con 24.5%, Lab 42.9%, Lib Dem 10.6%, Reform 10.1%, Green 6.7%, SNP 2.8%, Plaid 0.7%, Others 1.7%.

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YouGov MRP suggests that the Conservatives will lose 19 points on the 2019 result

The scale of the rout under this projection means many of the Tories’ biggest cabinet figures are now under threat in this campaign.

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, Penny Mordaunt, the Commons leader, Victoria Prentis, the attorney general, Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, David TC Davies, the Welsh secretary and Johnny Mercer, the armed forces minister in the cabinet are all on course to lose their seats under this projection.

Twelve of the 26 members of the cabinet who are running for re-election are at risk in total.

In addition, the future of Steve Baker, Northern Ireland minister, Bim Afolami, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and housing minister Lee Rowley are all hanging in the balance, the projection suggests.

Twenty-two of the 45 ministers of the government confirmed to stand are at risk.

One member of Labour’s shadow cabinet is also at risk under this projection. The shadow culture secretary Thangham Debonnaire is fighting the Greens in her Bristol Central seat: YouGov says this seat is in the balance.

Starmer’s decision over Diane Abbott is part of a wider strategy – but polling suggests trouble ahead | Politics News

Does Diane Abbott and the row over her future matter?

Keir Starmer clearly calculated not so much, although I’m told it blew up far more than the leader’s office expected, with the mess and delay a product of disagreements internally about what to do with her.

High-profile Labour politicians like Jess Phillips are now kicking off, and televised rallies in front of supporters in Hackney have undoubtedly obliterated the party’s attempts to get messages out on NHS waiting times.

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But does it move the dial politically – particularly when the party is 27 points ahead according to the latest Sky News/YouGov poll and Sir Keir is keen to do all he can to preserve relations with the Jewish community?

Possibly not in the first instance. But it may have secondary effects.

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Diane Abbott: ‘I’m banned from running for Labour’

Sir Keir is avowedly determined to present a “changed” Labour Party, away from the one that held Jeremy Corbyn in high esteem.

The decisions about Ms Abbott are part of that wider strategy. There are still parts of the party nostalgic for this era, however, and Sir Keir famously won the leadership trying to keep them onside.

But there’s a paradox in the polling that suggests trouble ahead. Yes, if the polls are to be believed (and many Tories don’t) Labour is on course for a decent majority and control of Number 10.

However, Sir Keir’s own ratings are – less than stellar.

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Poll: Labour surges to 27-point lead

The YouGov/Sky News poll asked this week whether voters thought he would be a good or bad prime minister. Almost half – 47% – said bad. The older the voter, the more pessimistic they are.

Sir Keir is starting from a low base – not as bad as Rishi Sunak, but still bad. By contrast, only 33% said they thought he’d be good.

That level of enthusiasm suggests Sir Keir may not enjoy much of a public opinion honeymoon, just at a point where he is likely to have to start by making difficult decisions, most notably on raising taxes.

One of the themes of this election has been the party’s clarity that while it will promise not to raise income tax, national insurance and corporation tax, no such bar exists on other taxes.

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With rules to restrain borrowing lifted from the Tories and unsustainably tight Whitehall spending plans, something has to give.

Judging by the first week of the campaign, that seems to be tax – a subject the Tories are likely to dwell on in the coming days.

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If he is suddenly unpopular, Sir Keir needs an army of supporters to insulate him.

But some of those are the supporters who are unhappy with his treatment of Ms Abbott.

This row might not matter that much now or in this campaign, but if the bonds between leader and party are easily frayed then there’s trouble ahead.

Rishi Sunak could tell him that.

Nearly a quarter of teachers use alcohol to cope with stresses of the job, survey suggests | UK News

Almost nine in 10 teachers believe their job has adversely affected their mental health in the past 12 months, according to a survey.

Nearly a quarter of teachers had used alcohol in an effort to cope, while 12% have used antidepressants, the poll of 11,574 NASUWT teaching union members found.

Some 3% said the stresses of their work had driven them to self-harm.

One of the teachers who responded to the survey said they vomited before work and had cried at school due to “badly behaved students” who left them unable to teach a class.

Another said: “My energy levels have never been this low before.

“I have never felt so anxious and have very little confidence in myself.

“I feel as though my bucket is full most of the time at work and that I maybe can’t deal with challenging pupils as well as I would normally.”

The teaching union warned of a “rise in suicide, suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts” within the profession, with a motion on the topic to be debated at its national conference this weekend.

The motion calls for suicide prevention training for school leaders, and fully-funded mandatory mental health training in schools and colleges.

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Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Nobody should be brought to the brink of ending their own life because of their job.

“We need a two-pronged approach to addressing the epidemic of mental ill health among the teaching profession, which both tackles the factors driving work-related stress, while also putting in place greater support systems for teachers and school leaders.”

He also said teachers need better welfare support, adding: “The status quo is not an option.

“Too many teachers are having their health destroyed and others are leaving the profession in a bid to save their sanity.

“There is no intrinsic reason why teaching should have such high levels of burnout. Things can and should be different and we need the next government to work with us to restore teaching to a profession where teachers can thrive, not just struggle to survive.”

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It comes after the suicide of headteacher Ruth Perry, who killed herself after an Ofsted report downgraded her school – Caversham Primary in Reading – from its highest rating to its lowest over safeguarding concerns.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We recognise the extraordinary work that headteachers, teachers and other staff in schools provide, and we take their wellbeing very seriously.

“Our Education Staff Wellbeing Charter ensures that staff wellbeing policy is integrated within schools’ culture alongside the expansion of our £2m investment to provide professional supervision and counselling to school and college leaders.”

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

Free vapes given to smokers at hospitals could help thousands quit, study suggests | Science & Tech News

Free vapes in emergency departments could help thousands quit smoking, a study has suggested.

Research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) said that providing A&E patients with e-cigarettes and a referral to a stop smoking adviser helped them kick the habit more than those who were just pointed to advice.

Dr Ian Pope, of UEA’s Norwich Medical School, added that the scientists behind the study now believe that “if this intervention was widely implemented it could result in more than 22,000 extra people quitting smoking each year”.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that about 6.4 million adults in the UK were smokers in 2022, while the NHS says around 76,000 people in the UK die every year from smoking.

Vaping: How harmful is it, is it better than smoking cigarettes, and what’s the evidence?

In their study – carried out between January and August two years ago in six emergency departments across the UK – the team offered around 484 daily smokers brief advice from a dedicated adviser while at hospital, along with an e-cigarette starter kit, and a referral to stop smoking services.

Vapes for sale in London. Pic: AP
Image:
Vapes for sale in London. Pic: AP

A second group of 488 patients were only given written information on how to access stop smoking services.

After six months, researchers offered members of the study a carbon monoxide test to confirm if they had given up cigarettes. Those given vapes and a referral were 76% more likely to have stopped.

Comparing the groups, 7.2% of those given vapes stopped smoking at six months while 4.1% of those given just advice had quit.

The first group were also more likely to try to stop, and self-reported that their seven-day abstinence from smoking after six months was a little over 23% compared to 13% in the group signposted to services.

Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of public health charity Action on Smoking and Health, said that the findings “are compelling” and should be “carefully considered by those in the NHS and local government who are planning services for smokers”.

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An NHS spokesperson said in response to the report: “Smoking costs the NHS and the taxpayer billions every year in avoidable health and social care costs.

“Encouraging more people to stop smoking tobacco will support them to have healthier lives.”

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Is vaping a cancer risk?

It’s not the first time vapes have been suggested for Britain’s hospitals. In 2018, Public Health England recommended that hospitals should sell e-cigarettes and provide patients with vaping lounges.

However, it comes after another study recently found vaping damages the DNA of its users in a similar way to smokers who develop cancer.

And it follows Rishi Sunak’s announcement of plans to ban disposable vapes in a bid to crack down on their use among children.

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Published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, the UEA study said that “while the evidence for using e-cigarettes as a cessation intervention is growing, not enough research is being done to understand how to most effectively prevent e-cigarette use among adolescents, while making them available in a targeted way for cessation”.

Preventative cancer therapies can cause the disease to ‘hibernate’ and return later, research suggests | UK News

Preventative treatment designed to stop the recurrence of breast cancer can actually cause the cancer cells to mutate and ‘hibernate’, only to grow again years later, according to new findings.

Researchers who set out to explain why breast cancer can return years after initial treatment have found that hormone therapies used to prevent breast cancer from recurring, can trigger changes in some cells.

These changes cause the cells to lie dormant instead of dying off, and the cells “wake up” years later, causing a relapse that is harder to treat.

But the study has found there may be a way to target these “sleeping” breast cancer cells before they wake up, offering new hope for patients with oestrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer – which makes up 80% of all breast cancers.

Luca Magnani, professor of epigenetic plasticity at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “After surgery to remove primary oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer, patients are given five to 10 years of hormone therapy which aims to kill any remaining cancer cells.

“We know that this doesn’t work for all patients though, as their breast cancer can return years, or even decades later.

“We wanted to better understand why breast cancer does return so we can hopefully find ways to stop it – so people don’t have to live in fear or face the devastating news of a relapse.

“Our research identified a key mechanism used by cancer cells to evade therapy by remaining in a dormant state, hibernating before they ‘wake up’ years later and begin to rapidly divide again.”

The study, published in the journal Cancer Discovery, found that inhibiting an enzyme known as G9a prevented cancer cells from becoming dormant and killed the cells that were already hibernating.

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Dr Tayyaba Jiwani, science engagement manager at Cancer Research UK – which funded the research, said: “Breast cancer survival has doubled in the UK over the last 50 years thanks to better detection and screening, but there are still more than 11,000 deaths from this type of cancer every year.

“Although at an early stage, the findings reveal potential new targets for the development of innovative treatments that prevent breast cancer from coming back.”

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death among UK women, behind lung cancer, with around 11,400 deaths every year (2017-2019), Cancer Research UK said.

In 2022-23, almost 19,000 women across England were diagnosed with the disease thanks to the NHS screening programme.

Blood test for Alzheimer’s disease could be as accurate as painful lumbar puncture, study suggests | Science & Tech News

A blood test could be just as good at detecting the signs of Alzheimer’s disease as painful and invasive lumbar punctures, research suggests.

Measuring levels of a protein called p-tau217 in the blood could be just as accurate at detecting signs of the progressive condition, experts say.

The protein is a marker for biological changes in the brain for people with Alzheimer’s disease, which is a form of dementia.

The new findings have the potential to “revolutionise” diagnosis for people who are suspected to have Alzheimer’s, experts say.

It could also be better than a range of other tests currently under development.

In the study of 786 people, the researchers were able to use the ALZpath p-tau217 test to identify patients as likely, intermediate and unlikely to have Alzheimer’s disease.

** HOLD FOR RELEASE/PUBLICATION DATE TBD FOR MEDICAL WRITER MARILYNN MARCHIONE STORY ** Dr. William Burke goes over PET brain scan Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 at Banner Alzheimers Institute in Phoenix. It may be too late to stop Alzheimer's in people who already have some mental decline but Banner is conducting two studies that target the very earliest brain changes while memory and thinking skills are still intact in hope of preventing the disease. (AP Photo/Matt York).
Image:
Images from an Alzheimer’s brain scan. File pic: AP

“This study is a hugely welcome step in the right direction as it shows that blood tests can be just as accurate as more invasive and expensive tests at predicting if someone has features of Alzheimer’s disease in their brain,” said Dr Richard Oakley, associate director of research and innovation at the Alzheimer’s Society.

“Furthermore, it suggests results from these tests could be clear enough to not require further follow-up investigations for some people living with Alzheimer’s disease, which could speed up the diagnosis pathway significantly in future.

“However, we still need to see more research across different communities to understand how effective these blood tests are across everyone who lives with Alzheimer’s disease.”

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Test could turn tide on devastating disease

This is a significant step towards a screening test for Alzheimer’s.

It detects a protein in the blood that is also found in the brains of people with the disease.

And the Swedish researchers say it is as accurate as existing tests.

At the moment Alzheimer’s is diagnosed either with special PET brain scans or samples of spinal fluid. The NHS doesn’t have enough machines or specialist staff to do that at the scale required.

It means that even if people ever get a diagnosis, it often comes when the disease has significantly progressed.

That matters because there are drugs coming down the tracks that have been shown in clinical trials to significantly slow the decline in memory and brain function.

But they have to be given at an early stage to be effective. That’s why doctors are excited about this test.

It needs to be validated in bigger clinical trials and in a diverse population.

But the hope is that in the near future it could be offered every few years to everyone over 50 to turn the tide on a devastating disease.

‘Huge potential’

Currently the only way to prove someone has a build-up of the proteins in the brain is to have a lumbar puncture or amyloid PET scan, which are available in only about one in 20 NHS memory clinics.

A lumbar puncture involves a needle being inserted into the lower back, between the bones in the spine.

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November 2022: New Alzheimer’s drug may be too late for some

Dr Sheona Scales, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This study suggests that measuring levels of a protein called p-tau217 in the blood could be as accurate as currently used lumbar punctures for detecting the biological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, and superior to a range of other tests currently under development.

“This adds to a growing body of evidence that this particular test has huge potential to revolutionise diagnosis for people with suspected Alzheimer’s.”

However, she said a better picture is needed of how these types of blood tests perform day-to-day in real-world healthcare systems.

The study from Dr Nicholas Ashton at the University of Gothenburg, and colleagues, is published in the Jama Neurology journal.

RSV vaccine could cut baby hospital admissions by more than 80%, study suggests | Science & Tech News

A vaccine to combat a common seasonal virus among babies could reduce hospital admissions by more than 80%, a trial has shown.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) impacts 90% of children before they reach the age of two, often causing a mild cold-like illness.

But infection can also lead to severe lung problems like pneumonia, and an estimated 30,000 babies and youngsters are admitted to hospital in the UK each year – putting extra pressure on the NHS.

Scientists have said a jab called nirsevimab could offer a solution after a study suggested a single shot provided immediate protection against chest infections for up to six months.

The trial found this could lead to an 83% reduction in RSV-related hospital admissions.

It is already being rolled out in the US and Spain and is being considered for a UK rollout, where it has been approved but not yet made available on the NHS.

Experts who worked on the study said the findings showed it was safe and could protect thousands of babies.

What is nirsevimab?

Nirsevimab is a monoclonal antibody, which are man-made proteins designed to mimic the human immune system’s natural antibodies.

Like other vaccines, it is administered via an injection.

The study included 8,058 babies up to the age of 12 months, with a randomly assigned group of them given a single dose and the others given usual treatment.

Just 11 who got the jab ended up in hospital for RSV-related infections, compared to 60 in the standard group.

The researchers said this corresponded to an efficacy of 83.2%.

Jab could ‘dramatically’ help NHS

Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford, said the jab could help combat a virus that places “huge pressure” on Britain’s health system.

During the past two winters, cases were higher than usual after COVID pandemic measures in previous years suppressed cases – meaning children had much lower immunity.

Sir Andrew said the jab could help “protect the youngest in society and dramatically alleviate winter strain in the NHS”.

One of the scientists involved in the study, Professor Saul Faust from the University of Southampton, said he hoped it would help the UK decide on how to proceed with a national vaccination rollout.

The University of Southampton was one of three UK universities whose experts worked on the research, along with University Hospital Southampton and St George’s University Hospital, London.

The research was funded by Sanofi and AstraZeneca and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Rishi Sunak suggests more tax cuts are on the way – but refuses to commit to triple lock manifesto pledge | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has suggested more tax cuts are on the way because the economy has “turned a corner”.

The prime minister told reporters that while he would not comment on specifics, trimming taxes was “the direction of travel from this government”.

But it came as he refused to say if the pensions triple lock would be in the next Conservative Party manifesto – despite Downing Street insisting in September that it was “committed” to the policy.

Mr Sunak’s comments echo similar remarks by his ministers in recent weeks.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also said last month that the economy had “turned a corner” just before he unveiled a cut to National Insurance in the Autumn Statement.

However, four million people could also end up paying higher taxes if their wages rise after the government decided to continue the freeze on tax thresholds.

Reports suggest the Conservatives are considering additional cuts in 2024 as the party tries to woo voters and reduce Labour’s 20-point lead in opinion polls ahead of the next general election, which must take place by January 28 2025.

Cuts to stamp duty and inheritance tax are among the options reportedly being looked at by ministers.

When asked about the two policies, Mr Sunak said: “I would never comment on specific taxes. But what I will just say, though, is we have turned a corner.

“We have got inflation down, as I said we would, we have grown the economy and we are now focused on controlling spending and controlling welfare so we can cut taxes. So when we can do more, we will.”

He added: “We want to grow the economy, we want to reward people’s hard work and aspirations and cut their taxes responsibly. That is the direction of travel from this government.

“If you want controlled public spending, controlled welfare and your taxes cut, then vote Conservative.”

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Mr Sunak was unable to make similar promises about the triple lock, which ensures the state pension must rise every April by whichever is highest out of average earnings, inflation or 2.5%.

The policy has come under fire in recent months by critics who claim it has become too expensive and gives the government less financial “headroom” to deal with economic shocks.

Some senior Tories have called for it to be scrapped and Labour has refused to guarantee the triple lock will remain in place if it wins the next election.

While the government continued with the policy in its recent Autumn Statement, ensuring the state pension will rise by 8.5% in April 2024 to £221.20 a week, Mr Sunak refused to be drawn when asked directly if it would be in the next Tory manifesto.

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Analysis: Autumn Statement 2023

Speaking to journalists as he flew between the UK and Dubai for the COP28 summit, he replied: “[I’m] definitely not going to start writing the manifesto on the plane, as fun as that would be.”

Mr Sunak acknowledged there had been “some scepticism” about if policy was going to form part of the Autumn Statement, but said its inclusion had been “a signal of our commitment to look after our pensioners who have put a lot into our country”.

Conservatives losing more 2019 voters to Reform UK than Labour, poll suggests | Politics News

Only one in 10 voters who supported the Tories in 2019 have switched to Labour, according to a major new poll for Sky News.  

The exclusive YouGov survey of 5,621 voters found 11% of 2019 Tory voters would now vote for Labour while slightly more – 12% – have switched to Reform UK, a party to the right of the Conservatives.

The fact that Labour is attracting fewer former Tory votes than Reform shows the difficulty Sir Keir Starmer’s party is having in getting Tory switchers.

Politics latest: PM says staffers are happy to work in No 10

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Graphics for Sam Coates polling story 1/11/23

Less than half – 40% – of 2019 Tory voters say they are sticking with the Conservatives if there was an election tomorrow, while 23% don’t know and 7% would not vote.

Former Tory voters from the 2019 campaign are perhaps the most important battleground for Conservative strategists at the next election, and their messaging and policy is designed to target this group in particular.

Some 44% of voters chose the Conservatives in the 2019 election, and this has dropped to 24% now.

So what happens to the ex-Tory voters – and whether they ultimately return to the party – is key.

Graphics for Sam Coates polling story 1/11/23

The fact that only a small number have changed their allegiance to Labour gives the Tories a small ray of hope at a time when they are hugely behind in the polls – although even if they perform as well as possible in this group, they would still struggle to win.

The YouGov polling drills down into the views of 2019 Tory voters who now call themselves undecided. Here there are positive signs for the Conservatives.

Rishi Sunak gets a net positive rating, scoring +7 percentage points, which is much more positive than the public at large. However, Keir Starmer gets a very negative rating, which is much worse than the population as a whole.

Graphics for Sam Coates polling story 1/11/23

For the average voter, the most important subjects are the economy, health and asylum.

However, among undecided voters who supported the Tories in 2019, immigration is the top issue, even marginally higher than the economy.

This is why the Tories are targeting immigration as one of their biggest issues.

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Graphics for Sam Coates polling story 1/11/23

Patrick English, who conducted the poll for YouGov, said these were a “crucial set of voters”.

“When you really drill down into what type of voters these are, who they are, what they think about issues, there do seem to be some encouraging numbers for the Conservatives,” he said.

“They rate Rishi Sunak higher than they rate Keir Starmer.”

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The pollster added: “They rate the Conservative Party higher than they do the Labour Party.

“They care about the issues the Conservatives want to talk about, such as immigration, to a much greater extent than those who are ready to make the jump to Labour.

“And that’s why at the moment we think only around one in 10 of them are telling us that they’re seriously considering voting Labour at the next election.”

COVID-19: 167,000 people may have caught coronavirus in hospital in England during second wave, study suggests | UK News

Up to 167,000 people may have contracted coronavirus in hospitals in England during the second wave of the pandemic, a study of healthcare-related infections has suggested.

Scientists who assessed COVID infections between June 2020 and March 2021 said their findings show how many cases started in hospitals and why, noting factors such as limited numbers of single rooms.

They concluded that hospitals needed to be better equipped to limit the transmission of future viruses.

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Bereaved families tell Hancock to go away

Hospital transmission puts vulnerable people at risk, affects healthcare workers and potentially drives transmission in the community.

But despite the obvious risks, there hasn’t been much work done to assess the extent of the problem.

A team from Oxford University, led by Professor of Epidemiology, Ben Cooper, have tried to put that right by studying data from 145 English NHS acute hospital trusts, representing a combined 356 hospitals with around 100,000 beds.

They looked at the number of COVID infections, how many staff working days were missed because of the virus and how the likely source of infection was classified at the time.

They found nearly 17,000 (16,950) infections in hospital patients were classed as having definite links to healthcare, and more than 19,000 (19,355) were thought to probably have a healthcare connection.

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Long COVID patient: ‘I lost my identity’

However, the researchers calculated that only around one in four (26%) of such infections might actually have been recorded, as many patients may have been discharged before testing positive, for example.

Once they factored that into their projections, they estimated that hospital-acquired infections in the period were between 95,000 and 167,000.

COVID ward at a hospital in Merseyside in 2020
Image:
COVID ward at a hospital in Merseyside in 2020

In other words, 1 to 2% of all hospital admissions likely resulted in such an infection over the study period.

Professor Cooper’s team found geographical variations in the incidence of infections, with the highest rates in northwest regions of England, and the lowest in the South West and London areas.

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They suggested the low availability of single rooms and reduced heating of hospital buildings could play a part.

The vaccination of healthcare workers was another driver of lower infection rates.

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COVID Inquiry: Bereaved families give statements

Their findings could show hospitals how to reduce transmissions, which in turn could protect vulnerable patients and healthcare workers, as well as reduce community transmission in the future, the authors said.

The COVID-19 public inquiry was told on Tuesday that fewer people might have died if lockdown had started sooner.