Cleaners, porters and security staff set to miss out on NHS pay rise


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Serco protest at Barts

Unite and Unison activists protest outside the Barts Health board meeting


Thousands of London’s lowest-paid hospital workers are set to miss out on the national NHS pay rise, the Standard has learned.

About 1,600 porters, cleaners, catering staff and security guards at Barts Health are ineligible for the rise, according to the Department of Health.

Unions say the “injustice” is will be repeated across London as many NHS trusts sub-contract non-clinical services rather than employing staff directly.

Announcing the proposed £4.2bn national pay deal in March, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was worth between 6.5 per cent and 29 per cent over three years, with the biggest rises targeted at the lowest paid.

It equates to an increase of more than £2,600 over three years for staff on the lowest NHS pay band.

Mr Hunt said: “Rarely has a pay rise been so well deseved for NHS staff, who have never worked harder.”

The Barts Health workers were transferred by the trust to private operator Serco in September 2016, and their pay was linked to the London Living Wage rather than the NHS’s “Agenda for Change” rates.

Unions representing the Barts Health staff, who work at five east London hospitals, said Serco refused to pay more than £10.20 an hour. By comparison, NHS staff in London will receive at least £10.83 an hour, rising to £11.17 an hour in inner London, if the national deal is agreed.

Ruth Hydon, Unite regional officer, said: “These are the lowest paid workers in this trust. The NHS deal has been agreed nationally to provide more for the lowest-paid workers.

“It’s an injustice health workers employed by Serco, who keep these London hospitals safe and clean, are being offered less than other NHS workers at the same hospitals.

“The Serco workers have suffered years of pay restraint. We are expecting to get that NHS deal now for these workers. Serco workers are expecting to get that increase. Our members hold the trust and Serco jointly responsible for what their pay is set at.”

The NHS deal applies to nurses, paramedics, midwives, therapists, dieticians, clinical scientists, chiropodists and radiographers. Doctors have separate pay deals.

A delegation of Serco-employed workers lobbied the Barts Health board last week, urging it to ensure pay equality for all workers.

Ian Peters, chairman of Barts Health, told them: “We absolutely recognise the contribution you make to patient care. We understand what you are asking us to do.

“It’s clearly a matter of priority and urgency. It’s clearly on the board’s agenda and my agenda. We will talk to Serco.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Serco contractors are not employed by the NHS.

“The pay rise is for NHS staff employed under the Agenda for Change contract and that is what [the Treasury] has agreed to fund – the Government has been explicitly clear on this since it was announced last year. Any pay rise for these staff is a matter for their own employers.”

Serco said: “We value the important contributions of all our employees and agreed with the Trust and the unions at the start of our contract that we would pay at least the London Living Wage at Barts Health NHS Trust, which is a commitment that we continue to meet.”

* An edited version of this story appeared in last night’s Evening Standard.


London hospitals unable to recruit more than 80 doctors and therapists from abroad due to visa restrictions


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London hospitals have been barred from hiring more than 80 foreign doctors and therapists due to visa restrictions, the Standard can reveal.

Barts Health, the UK’s biggest trust with five hospitals in east London, has been refused 35 visas in the last six months – 26 of them for senior doctors (see table below).

Barts visa 2

King’s College Hospital NHS Trust said 23 applications for doctor visas were refused between February and April.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ has been unable to recruit 17 top doctors, mainly at the specialist registrar grade, and a dental practitioner.

University College London Hospitals, which has nine sites in central London, has been blocked from recruiting eight doctors – despite making 19 visa applications.

The figures are a dramatic illustration of the increased challenge the NHS is facing to plug a shortage of home-grown medics.

An immigration cap restricts non-EU skilled workers to no more than 20,700 a year, and the number of “points” needed to receive a visa rises as places are given out.

barts visa 1

Since December, Barts Health has applied for 92 “Tier 2 certificates of sponsorship” for potential recruits but been granted 57 – 10 doctors and 47 nurses. (See table above.)

The 35 refused include 26 medical registrars, five occupational therapists, four physiotherapists and one other health professional.

Registrars are senior doctors just underneath consultant level. “They keep the show on the road,” one source said.

“We only go overseas for really critical posts. It’s not cheap to do it. When you find someone who is willing and ready to move but they can’t because there’s no visa, it’s really frustrating.”

King’s, which also runs Princess Royal in Orpington, had 16 out of 39 visa applications approved. A spokeswoman said: “Proportionally, fewer tier two visa applications for doctors were accepted by the Home Office during February to April 2018 compared with the same period last year.”

UCLH said: “Since January 2018 we have filed 19 applications for Tier 2 visas for eight doctors from outside the EEA and none have been accepted.

“We are aware that we are not the only NHS trust affected and we support NHS Employers’ representations to the Government to address this problem.”

The Standard recently revealed that Prime Minister Theresa May had overruled a plea from Cabinet ministers for more foreign doctors to be granted visas.

Last week Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt backed a special visa system to help the NHS tackle staff shortages.

The 12 medical royal colleges, British Medical Association and NHS Employers have written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid pleading for the cap to be reviewed as it was “affecting patient safety” in some trusts.

Barts Health said the cap has also caused “confusion” among foreign staff already at the trust who may require a visa extension. It had also sent its bill for locum doctors spiralling.

Even the loss of one doctor on a rota can cause major headaches for a department, requiring other staff to work overtime to cover or locum medics to be brought in from outside.

A Standard survey has revealed that visa problems have been encountered by other NHS trusts.

St George’s was unable to hire two genetics counsellors. Barking, Havering and Redbridge was blocked from recruiting an anaesthetist. London North West Healthcare said it had problems at the start of the year and a minority of applications were rejected last month.

The Home Office said: “The Government fully recognises the contribution that international professionals make to the UK. However, it is important that our immigration system works in the national interest, ensuring that employers look first to the UK resident labour market before recruiting from overseas.

“When demand exceeds the monthly available allocation of Tier 2 (General) places, priority is given to applicants filling a shortage or PhD-level occupations. No occupation on the Shortage Occupation List — which is based on advice by the independent Migration Advisory Committee — has been refused a place.”

‘National treasure’ at Bart’s gets key role in 900th anniversary after surviving private hospital scare


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Great Hall at St Bartholomew's

The Great Hall at St Bartholomew’s hospital

Campaigners believe they have won a battle to protect a “national treasure” at Britain’s oldest hospital from being damaged by a new private patient unit.

They feared a proposed Nuffield heart and cancer hospital – in a building made famous by Sherlock Holmes – could have blighted the long-term future of the Grade I-listed Great Hall at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, in Smithfield.

Now the Friends of the Great Hall, whose chairman is the Queen’s former surgeon-gynaecologist Sir Marcus Setchell, hope it will take centre stage when St Bartholomew’s celebrates its 900th anniversary in 2023.

The City of London Corporation is expected to grant Nuffield planning permission to convert the former pathology building and disused staff accommodation at  Bart’s later this month.

Barts Health, the NHS trust that owns Bart’s hospital, ran up a £117 million debt in 2017/18 and hopes the 30-year lease it has granted Nuffield will generate a “multimillion pound revenue stream”.

The five-storey building, in Giltspur Street, has been a shrine to Sherlock fans since the fictional detective, played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC TV drama, faked his death in a leap from the rooftop in 2012.

The Standard has learned that a compromise was struck, involving Nuffield amending its original plans, after legal action was threatened by the Friends of the Great Hall.

The Great Hall built in 1730, and orginally used for administrative meetings, has two giant Hogarth murals on its grand staircase, and ancient hospital archives in its basement. It is on the north of the hospital square, adjacent to the proposed Nuffield site.

The Friends were able to secure from Nuffield a commitment to build a lift, and catering space to enable greater use of  the Great Hall  for weddings, concerts and a range of other functions.

The Great Hall needs up to £20 million for renovation and Sir Marcus and the newly formed Heritage Trust hope to attract private donors to secure its long-term future. Barts Health is unable to divert cash to maintain the hospital’s heritage.

“There is huge potential for opening up the Hall and and its rooms to a wider public,” Sir Marcus said. “The 900th anniversary in 2023, five years from now is  an ideal time to launch a big fundraising campaign for these unique heritage buildings.”

Barts Health said: “The Great Hall, a special part of the hospital, will have a key role in our 900th anniversary celebrations of the founding of St Bartholomew’s.We will work closely with staff, patients and The Friends of the Great Hall in planning for this momentous occasion in 2023, ensuring we honour our rich heritage.”

Nuffield Health said: “We have received [in principle] planning approval to renovate the dilapidated former pathology and residential staff quarters. We have been working closely with the City of London and interested parties to address concerns raised throughout this process.”

Hostile Location, Location, Location as TV star braves Alps (and injury) to help raise £1m for brain tumour research


Team BMS group led by Tom Bodkin from Secret Compass battle through the blizzards on the last day of the Everest in the Alps challenge.

TV presenter Phil Spencer overcame a broken rib and temperatures of minus 30C during the “epic challenge of my life” on a charity expedition to the Alps.

Spencer, 48, joined a 38-strong group of City bankers and their partners to climb 8,848m, equal to the height of Mt Everest, to raise almost £1 million for research into childhood brain tumours.

The Location, Location, Location star broke a rib during ski training a week before setting off. He was cleared to participate but warned by his GP to be very careful.

Phil Spencer 3

Spencer said: “It was painful at night but during the day, it was manageable and that was a massive blessing. The day it really hurt was as I crossed the finishing line.

“My team captain, Jerry, turned to me and gave me a massive hug and a big ‘Well done, bloody brilliant!’, and slapped me round the ribs. That was painful, that really bloody hurt.”

The four-day expedition was inspired by 10-year-old Toby Ritchie, who has undergone chemotherapy and two rounds of neurosurgery after being diagnosed aged five with a slow-growing tumour.

On reaching the summit, Spencer, a friend of Toby’s godfather, said: “Toby, we did this for you, and lots of people around the world with your dilemmas and challenges. This was our challenge. Good luck and God bless you.”

About 500 children a year in the UK are diagnosed with brain tumours but treatments have not changed for decades.

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Rob Ritchie and Phil Spencer

It was the second Everest in the Alps challenge organised by Toby’s parents Rob, above, an HSBC banker at Canary Wharf, and Tanya Ritchie. The first raised £3 million. The proceeds fund the Brain Tumour Charity’s research unit.

Spencer told how the party had to contend with exhaustion, blizzards and the fear of things “going very badly wrong” during the 5.5-mile vertical climb in Verbier, Switzerland, at the end of February.

“It was simply incredible and something I would never have though I would have been able to achieve,” he said.

“The challenging weather patterns made the expedition incredibly hard. The legs and body worked well but it was the relentlessness of the challenge that got to us.

“It was every single minute, from the moment you woke up until you went to sleep.

Phil Spencer 2

“Late in the morning of day two… we were staring up at a massively steep section of off-piste. It was crusty, icy and all of us were already tired and we knew there was no easy way of doing it. It was horrible.

“All of a sudden you look across the mountain and your team mates and the guides are spread out.

“You’re feeling on your own and you hit an ice patch and you look down and you think: if I slip now, I’m going to be in a whole pile of trouble.

“There’s nothing and no-one that could have helped me out of that. Everyone was aware that something could have gone very badly wrong.”

Team members and mountain guides who completed the Everest in the Alps challenge at the finish.

He added: “Hitting the summit was the ultimate elation. Everyone was tired, happy, emotional. It was a wonderful feeling, finishing such a remarkable challenge.”


  • An edited version of this story appeared in yesterday’s Evening Standard.

More than one in four Londoners are teetotal – while doctors and nurses among those most likely to drink



More than one in four Londoners are teetotal, a national survey of drinking habits revealed today.

A total of 26.6 per cent of people in the capital say they do not drink alcohol – the highest proportion in the country.

The Office for National Statistics said this linked with the capital’s ethnic diversity. More than half of non-whites do not drink.

Nationwide, 20.4 per cent of people – about 10.4 million people – said they did not drink, with teetotalism most common among 16 to 24 year olds.

The ONS’s annual survey of adult drinking habits estimates that 29.2 million adults drink alcohol.

High earners were most likely to drink. Almost 70 per cent in managerial and professional occupations – such as doctors, lawyers, architects, nurses and teachers – drank alcohol in the week prior to being interiewed by the ONS.

The figure fell to 51 per cent among those in routine and manual occupations, such as labourers, bar staff, lorry drivers, receptionists and care workers.

A separate report from NHS Digital found that during 2016/17 there were an estimated 337,000 hospital admissions primarily due to alcohol consumption, down 2,000 cases on the previous year.

There were 5,507 alcohol-specific deaths in England in 2016, a four per cent increase from 2015.

It is estimated there were 240 road deaths in Great Britain in 2016 where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit. This is 13 per cent of all road deaths.

New way of using surgical robots ‘could revolutionise prostate cancer operations’


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PS 1

Prostate surgeon Prasanna Sooriakumaran: Procedure is revolutionising treatment for patients

A London surgeon is trialling a new method of using robots to treat prostate cancer that aims to encourage more men to undergo surgery.

Prasanna Sooriakumaran, a consultant urological surgeon at University College London Hospitals, says the new procedure is akin to a car mechanic going under the vehicle to carry out repairs rather than lifting the bonnet.

Early trials on 50 patients suggest it could be up to 10 times less likely to leave men suffering from continence problems after surgery.

Incontinence and impotence are two of the most common side effects of prostate removal, due to the risk of the surgery damaging surrounding nerves and bladder muscles.

Surgical robots are now used in the majority of prostate cancer operations, with UCLH leading the way with about 600 operations last year.

Mr Sooriakumaran, known as PS, said this could lead men to choose surveillance or radiotherapy and hormone therapy rather than surgery.

He said the “retzius sparing” procedure, which was first used in Italy and South Korea, could make surgery more appealing to younger, more active men.

Mr Sooriakumaran, who carries out most of the operations at UCLH at Westmoreland Street, in Marylebone, said: “Normally when you do the operation, you do what is called ‘dropping the bladder’ – you approach the prostate from above and move the bladder out of the way.

“It’s a bit like when women give birth. The pelvic floor is like a hammock and the support structure gets weaker. When the woman coughs or sneezes, the bladder drops and the woman leaks.

“With this new technique, you go towards the rectum and ‘look up’. It’s like being a mechanic lying under the car rather than standing over the engine and fixing things looking down.

“It’s technically more challenging – you are doing everything upside down – but you don’t damage any of the [internal] structures.”

He added: “It’s revolutionising the outcomes for patients. After the catheter comes out, 94 per cent have been dry within a week. Normally it is about 10-15 per cent.”

Prostate cancer is the second most lethal cancer in UK men, after lung cancer, and kills 11,800 a year. Only 7,000 men a year opt for surgery, which is normally considered “curative” unless the cancer has spread.

One patient, Howard Anderson, 66, a retired computer science lecturer from Woodford Green, underwent the procedure on March 21 after a PSA blood test raised concerns.

He said he was dry as soon as the urinary catheter was removed about a week after surgery.

He said: “I was delighted, to be honest. There was no problem at all. It’s perfect. The results are absolutely fantastic.

“Some of the older techniques, such as open surgery, looked pretty hair-raising. The literature from the hospital said that the outcomes depend on the skill of the surgeon and how many operations they performed. When I discovered it was PS doing it I was over the moon.”

Mr Anderson said he fear of being left incontinent was a “major concern”. He said: “But the alternative, which is six months of hormone therapy and two of radiotherapy, struck me as being far worse.”

  • An edited version of this story appears in tonight’s Evening Standard.

St Mary’s hospital thanks crowds (and media) for ‘behaving beautifully’ while awaiting birth of royal baby


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Staff morale at the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth has been bosted by the new arrival, bosses said today.

Lesley Powls, site director at St Mary’s, in Paddington, thanked the crowds who gathered outside the private Lindo wing on Monday for “behaving beautifully” and enabling the rest of the hospital to operate as normal.

She told the Standard: “It’s fantastic for our hospital and fantastic for the staff, though it does make for a slightly more challenging than normal day for me and the team.

“We are managing a very acute major trauma centre and a busy hospital, while managing everything else that goes with that. The crowds are very welcome, as are the well-wishers. Everyone behaved themselves beautifully. I think people are very aware it’s a functioning hospital.

“The staff are enormously proud of St Mary’s generally. That level of pride and feelgood factor rises a notch when you have such a high-profile event.

“We were extremely well prepped for it. We had way-finders and volunteers in on the day to make sure that patients who were not necessarily aware what was going on wre able to navigate our site as normal.”

Wills and Kate at Evelina

Meanwhile, bosses at Evelina London children’s hospital expressed their thanks after being chosen by William and Kate to receive charitable donations marking the birth of the new prince.

Both the duke and duchess had recently visited the Evelina, beside St Thomas’s hospital in Lambeth, over the last few months, and it is due to mark its 150th anniversary.

Marian Ridley, director of Evelina London, said: “Their warmth and immediate sense of connection with the children and families that they met left a deep impression on all of us.

“Their visits brought joy, sympathy and appreciation and I know this gesture will mean a huge amount to our staff, patients and families. We are very grateful for their support, and wish their family a happy and healthy future together.”

Health alert issued for ‘hottest London Marathon ever’ as runners told to ditch the silly costumes



Marathon camel

London Marathon runners were today told to ditch the furry costumes as a health alert was issued ahead of what could be the hottest race in history.

Medical director Sanjay Sharma advised the 47,000 entrants to abandon hope of achieving a personal best – and not to run at all if they have suffered a high temperature this week.

Heat stroke is a major concern, with 160 doctors and 1,500 St John Ambulance first aiders on standby. Medical tents are being erected every 1,000m from the nine-mile mark, with ice flannels to enable the rapid cooling of runners in distress.

Six “run-through” showers will be spread across the 26.2 mile course and extra drinks will be available.

Professor Sharma said heat stroke normally affected one in 3,500 runners but more sufferers were likely on a hot day. In 2014, runner Robert Berry died from heat stroke.

Professor Sharma, of St George’s, University of London, said: “The hottest on record is 21C. That was 2007. They’re forecasting anything between 18C and 24C. There is the potential it could be the hottest.”

Runners were advised to dress very lightly and “avoid heavy, warm costumes”. Those most at risk are “large males trying to beat four hours”, those with a with a history of heat stroke and people on medications such as anti-depressants.

Runners should keep well-hydrated but “drink according to thirst” as too much water can also be dangerous.

Professor Sharma said: “Nobody wants a death. It’s the biggest sporting event in the country. We want to make sure that people enjoy the marathon and are safe. We are taking every precaution we possibly can.

“We could be expecting 15 or 16 cases of heat stroke, based on previous experience. We are confident we can deal with it.

“One your body’s temperature goes above 40C, the functioning of your brain goes down. You feel light-headed and might collapse. It affects the heart muscle and you can run into all sorts of trouble, and very rarely cases can be fatal.”

The NHS worker who’ll run the London Marathon almost as quickly as Mo Farah


Kojo Kyereme

Kojo with a portable echocardiography scanner at St George’s hospital

A London health worker will line-up alongside the world’s elite athletes when he takes part in Sunday’s race.

Kojo Kyereme, 43, is such an accomplished runner, with a best marthon time of 2.21.28, that he will start alongside the specially-invited professional athletes. His running blog is

He is the lead cardiac physiologist in the cardiac investigations team at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, and is raising funds for a £35,000 portable echocardiography scanner to detect heart problems at the bedside.

“There are still occasions when the patient has to be brought to us to use fixed machines – however we can improve the whole experience for patients and staff with a portable version,” he said.

Mr Kyereme hopes to raise £2,620 – reflecting the 26.2 miles he will run. St George’s Hospital Charity hopes to fund the remainder, and already has two £5,000 pledges. An additional machine is required to help St George’s, a specialist cardiology and cardiothoracic centre, cope with an increase in demand.

“An extra portable Echo machine would mean that around 75 more people a week can be seen in the wards rather than being moved across the hospital, reducing stress and giving quicker diagnoses.

“It’s fun to think that running fast could also help with speeding up treatment for patients – it’s a win/win.”

Mr Kyereme has run eight marathons – London three times, plus Stockholm, New York, Toronto, Boston & Berlin.


He added: “My job is split between administration and clinical duties. I manage a team of 15 highly specialised echocardiographers across 3 sites.

“We deliver routine and urgent scans of the heart to various cohorts of patients across the trust.

“Echocardiography is a useful diagnostic tool; using ultrasound to visualise the heart’s structure (chambers, valves and vessels) and to detect various heart conditions or abnormalities.”


Nurse with cancer vows to defy doctors and complete three marathons



Marika and running partner William Anderson

Marika and running partner William Anderson

A nurse with breast cancer is to defy doctors’ orders and run three marathons to raise money for life-saving research.

Marika Wiebe-Williams, 49, will run London, Milton Keynes and Edinburgh in little over a month despite being on palliative chemotherapy after the disease spread to her lungs.

The mother of two was given between two and five years to live last September when doctors discovered her breast cancer had returned. A secondary lung tumour was discovered in January.

She was told to take a break from running – undertaking brisk 17-mile walks at the weekend instead – and has only recently restarted.

“Running is what keeps me sane. I will keep on going for as long as I can,” she said. “Cancer might take everything else from me – but it won’t take this.”

She and running partner William Anderson will run the three marathons in aid of the Institute of Cancer Research. The Chelsea-based organisation undertakes pioneering studies, including on recurring breast cancer.

Marika and son Ben

Marika with her younger son, Ben

Ms Wiebe-Williams, who lives in Faversham and works at Kent and Canterbury Hospital, in Canterbury, was diagnosed in November 2016 with breast cancer after spotting the symptoms herself.

Six rounds of chemotherapy and surgery were not as effective as hoped, and then a small mass was found on her left lung.

“I remain cheerful,” she said. “I will never give up. I was told shortly after the diagnosis of secondary cancer that I should give up running. Never.”

She added: “I can’t think of a worthier thing to run for. And, for as long as I am able to, I will run. I will not wait to die. I will fight this all the way.”

Mr Anderson said: “Marika and I have been running partners for years so when she said she wanted to run three marathons in a month I thought she was mad. I will be with her every step of the way.

“Marika is on continual chemotherapy, which comes with its side-effects and makes this an enormous task. Marika has a limited life expectancy and her dream is to complete these races before she is unable to run anymore.”