Brexit risks turning Britain into backwater for scientific research, warn UK’s new star scientists


The UK risks becoming a “backwater” for scientific research unless the world’s “brightest and best” are made welcome after Brexit, top scientists warned today.

Newly-appointed fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences told the Evening Standard of their concern at the impact of EU exit on the UK’s “superpower” status.

They called for changes to the immigration system to retain EU staff already in the country – and to encourage future generations of “exceptional talent” to the UK.

And they urged future co-operation between the UK and EU on life sciences regulation, and for the Brexit deal to allow British experts to continue to access EU research funding.

The Academy’s new intake of “star scientists” told the Standard of their fears that a “Hard Brexit” will cause a “brain drain” of European colleagues already in the UK.

London’s top universities have suffered rejections from Continental applicants for “senior posts” on several occasions since last June’s referendum, the Standard has learned.

The UK’s inability to lead multinational research projects after Brexit is also seen as a key concern. This could curtail pioneering new cancer and gene-editing therapies being offered on the NHS and limit the UK’s influence in global projects such as the search for a HIV vaccine, the fellows said.

It came as Professor Lee Cronin, Regius chair of chemistry at Glasgow university, warned: “Brexit threatens the foundations of UK science.” Writing in today’s Standard, he said: “Without action, Brexit will cause the UK to lose its global science status very quickly.”

One of the Academy’s new fellows, Professor Robin Shattock, who is leading a EU-funded search for the world’s first HIV vaccine at Imperial College London, said UK researchers would no longer be “calling the shots intellectually” after Brexit.

He said: “Increasingly, big medical problems are solved by big collaborative teams. Whatever Brexit deal the UK manages to negotiate, I expect that UK researchers will not be able to lead pan-European projects. It would be unprecedented to have a pan-European consortium funded through the EU being led by a non-EU member.”

The 22 million euro HIV project involves 22 EU institutions, with Imperial receiving about a quarter of the cash. “We are funded until 2020,” Professor Shattock said. “Beyond that, we are going to become a backwater in terms of leading large multi-centre programmes.”

He said that while Brexit might not delay the discovery of a vaccine, “it means it will be very hard for UK investigators to maintain a world lead or to be internationally competitive”. About two million people a year contract HIV. The annual cost of treating them is about £15 billion and rising.

Professor Robert Wilkinson, of the Francis Crick Institute, which has staff from more than 70 countries, called for a “simple, swift post-Brexit immigration system for skilled researchers, technicians and innovators irrespective of origin – so that the UK maintains its place as a world-leader in global science”.

He said: “This could take the form of a wider reform of the Tier 1 visa system to make it more appealing to leaders and exceptional talent.”

Professor Tom Williams, an expert in genetic blood disorders at Imperial, said many UK universities were heavily reliant on European applicants for PhD and more senior academic positions. There are 31,000 non-UK EU citizens working in academic research in the UK.

Professor Williams said: “The Brexit vote has created deep anxiety in many of our colleagues regarding their longer term future and the way that many are increasingly perceiving themselves as unwelcome. 

“The loss of access to EU funding streams would devastate many academic departments that rely heavily on these funds. Freedom of movement for academic professionals and access to EU funding streams should both be at the top of the list for future negotiations.”

In 2015, UK-based researchers received 1.2 billion euros from the EU’s Horizon 2020 fund, the biggest-ever fund for scientific discoveries.

According to Innovate UK, the UK receives 3.2 per cent of global funding for research and development but is responsible for a sixth of scientific breakthroughs, making the sector an “unparalleled strategic asset” for the UK.

The previous Tory Government offered to underwrite grants already awarded by the EU, but not to increase funding to the sector, though Theresa May regards the UK As a “world-leader in science and research”.

Professor Sir Robert Lechler, provost of King’s College London and president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said his Italian wife, Giovanna Lombardi, a professor of immunology at King’s, had felt “less at home” since the Brexit vote despite being a UK resident for 30 years.

He said of the various concerns sparked by Brexit, “the most important by far is people”. He added: “We need to make sure our international scientists feel secure here now.”

He pointed to advances in psychiatry, genomics, gene editing and immunology – offering solutions for inherited defects and cures for cancer – as examples of how the UK led the field in medical sciences.

“That depends on having the best people and having the best partnerships and having sufficient resource,” he said. “If we start losing ground on that, then we will no longer be at the forefront and people will no longer get the best treatments at the earliest opportunity, delivered by the best staff.”

Matthew Hotopf, a professor of psychiatry at King’s College London, leads a 25 million euro project, RADAR CNS. This involves eight EU nations and the US researching whether wearable devices can help prevent and treat depression, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.

Professor Hotopf said: “It’s very concerning for our position as leaders of European science. We gain more funding than we put in, and lead a lot of major projects.

“One thing the EU has done is provide a platform for very big science projects. [RADAR] involves 23 different centres, including five major pharmaceutical companies.

“The really tricky thing is that we just don’t know what is going to happen, and the uncertainty is already damaging our role and impacting our ability to take the leadership of projects.”

He added: “People talk about Hard Brexit or no deal at all. I think a lot of people who voted Brexit probably didn’t appreciate we would be considering coming out of the EU without any kind of agreement.

“I think the critical thing is making a very clear commitment to supporting our colleagues who are EU nationals working in UK science and research.”

Professor Dorothy Bennett, director of the Molecular and Clinical Sciences Research Institute at St George’s, University of London, said Brexit ran “counter to the international and collaborative nature of today’s science”.

She said: “EU funding has taught us to work together well and design large and ambitious projects with our European friends, and I hope very much that such opportunities will not be lost. 

“Many of our colleagues working in the UK are from overseas, including the EU. We (UK scientists) and they are impatient to hear any kind of reassurance as to their security of permission to remain and work – likewise about the security of British scientists working in Europe.”

Dr David Roblin, of the Francis Crick Institute, said collaboration was “how science works at its best, how ideas arise and discoveries are made, and ultimately how society and the economy will benefit the most through new treatments for disease”.

The Conservatives pointed to plans announced in the last Budget that included £90 million for 1,000 PhD places and £210m for new academic fellowships, including in bioscience and biotechnology. That followed £4.7 billion of new investment in research and development announced in the Autumn statement.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “One of our key objectives for Brexit is to be the best place in the world for science and innovation – which is why we are investing £4.7 billion in research and development, including £300 million announced in the Budget to support the brightest and best research talent.

“If Jeremy Corbyn is Prime Minister on 9 June, leading our Brexit negotiations, there is no chance of that. Only a vote for Theresa May and her local Conservative candidate can deliver for Britain’s world-renowned science sector in the Brexit talks.”

Study suggests way of treating heart patients more cheaply than in A&E



People suffering from a racing heart can be treated more cheaply and quickly by avoiding A&E, a pioneering study has found.

Researchers at the Barts Heart Centre and London Ambulance Service found paramedics were able to complete their treatment 90 minutes quicker than if the patient had been taken to hospital.

The study analysed 86 patients with supraventricular tachycardias (SVT), or an abnormally fast heart rate – one of the most common conditions treated in UK hospitals.

Of these, 44 were given injections of adenosine, which slows the heart rate, by specially-trained paramedics. The remainder were taken to A&E for conventional treatment of the same medication.

The results showed that 81 per cent of those seen by paramedics were successfully treated and were discharged more than an hour and a half quicker than those taken directly to A&E.

Most were treated in their own homes, avoiding a stressful and lengthy trip to A&E – making the paramedic-led care 66 per cent cheaper.

Richard Schilling, professor of cardiology and electrophysiology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, said: “In a time where emergency departments are facing considerable challenges, these findings may show a glimpse of a future path.

“The majority of patients preferred being treated by paramedics and we found that this way of managing this condition did not impact the patients’ long term care.”

LAS consultant paramedic Mark Whitbread, co-author of the report, said: “This is great news for this group of patients who suffer often quite horrible symptoms including heart palpitations, chest pains and shortness of breath.

“Our paramedics, who are leading the way in pre-hospital care, were able to treat these patients and leave them in the comfort of their own homes and save unnecessary trips to emergency departments.”

Glenis Holtom, 67, a patient who took part in the study, was at water aerobics when she began suffering pain in her left arm. She had to stop and her lips turned blue.

She called her GP on returning home and was advised to dial 999. “When the paramedics arrived, they monitored my heartbeat and they knew straight away that I had SVT and offered to treat me at home,” she said.

“The whole experience was absolutely brilliant. The whole thing took no longer than 30 minutes, and I was so grateful for their care. While I wouldn’t wish my condition on anyone, I would recommend this treatment.”

Third London hospital offers new mothers Finnish-style baby boxes to encourage safe sleeping


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New mothers are being encouraged to put their babies to sleep in a cardboard box in a new initiative to reduce the rate of sudden infant death.

The Whittington, in Archway, has become the third hospital in London to issue the Finnish-style boxes – with a promise that rich and poor mothers will all be entitled to receive them.

Parents are given a box after enrolling with the provider company’s online “university”, which uses short video clips to teach safe-sleeping techniques.
It comes after the first increase in almost a decade in the number of babies under one dying in England and Wales – 2,578 deaths in 2015.

Dr Gregory Battle, a medical director at the Whittington and an Islington GP, said: “I really like what they are doing. It was initially offered to people who were seen to have additional needs economically but they realised that didn’t work because of the stigma. Whether you come from Highgate or Holloway, you are going to be offered a box.”

The boxes, provided free by the US-based Baby Box Company, were launched at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea hospital in Acton last June. They are also available at North Middlesex hospital, Edmonton.

A borough-wide scheme is launching in Hackney and at South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, which treats patients with mental illness, later this year.

The baby box tradition has been credited with helping to reduce the infant mortality rate in Finland from 65 infant deaths per 1,000 births in 1938 to 2.26 per 1,000 births in 2015.

It is thought that educating parents about safe sleeping – and on risks such as smoking, drinking and co-sleeping – is as much to credit as ensuring babies are placed on their back, not on their stomach.

The Whittington handles about 3,800 births a year. About 40 per cent of pregnant women are new mothers, with many having no family or friends on hand to help.

Rose Hensman at Whittington hospital

The Whittington’s lead midwife Rose Hensman with a Baby Box

Lead midwife Rose Hensman said: “We were thinking about different ways to get information across to women. I thought that seemed a brilliant idea. I was sceptical at first, thinking that nobody gets anything for nothing, and wondering: what do we have to give?

“They said: give us your time – that was the key – and we will give you the baby boxes for free.”

The box contains a mattress and baby clothing such as a onesie, hat, mittens and socks, plus nappies and breast pads. It can be used until the child is about eight months old.

“We have seen this as an opportunity to advance the really good work we are doing already: giving the right information to mothers to try and reduce the risk of cot death, and making sure babies are healthier and happier,” Ms Hensman said.

“I have come across women who have used a bottom drawer [as a cot]. This [box] is far safer for babies to sleep in. Haringey has probably one of the highest areas of deprivation in the country.”

The infant death rate in England and Wales rose in 2015 – for the first time since 2006 – to 3.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Of the 2,578 deaths, about 230 are thought to be victims of sudden infant death syndrome, previously called cot death. The term has largely been abandoned due to its misleading suggestion that death only occurs when a baby is asleep in a cot.

Baby Box spokeswoman Sophie Luis said the boxes had never been “means tested” in the UK. She said: “We link the educational message with the safe-sleeping message. We are trying to give every baby the same start.”

Council asks Jeremy Hunt to intervene after borough becomes first in London to axe IVF


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Jeremy Hunt is under pressure to block Croydon’s decision to become the first London borough to axe IVF funding in a radical bid to save NHS cash.

The Health Secretary has been asked by Croydon council to intervene after the borough’s clinical commissioning group voted to withdraw funding for fertility treatment with immediate effect last month.

The council says the decision has created a “postcode lottery” for infertile Londoners and could discourage young people from moving to the borough.

More than three-quarters of respondents to the CCG’s consultation wanted IVF to be retained. The decision – which breaches NHS guidelines on the availability of fertility treatment – forces infertile couples in Croydon into spending thousands on private treatment if they want to have children.

The council says the decision unfairly impacts on those unable to afford private healthcare and could lead to an increase in anxiety, depression and relationship breakdown.

It comes as a Richmond CCG consultation on restricting IVF to “patients with exceptional clinical circumstances” closed this week. A final decision is expected next month or in July.

Croydon IVF

Evening Standard story from March 2017 on the original decision

The Croydon decision, which will save about £1.1 million over two years, is also likely to result in the closure of the fertility unit at Croydon hospital, which has treated thousands of women. The CCG has been ordered to make £54 million of cuts.

Councillor Carole Bonner, chairwoman of the council’s health scrutiny committee, said: “We’re making this referral because of the potential long-term adverse health effects the removal of IVF will have on Croydon residents.  

“Not only can infertility result in family breakdown and the ending of relationships, but it often has an impact on the mental health of those affected.

“A comprehensive study was carried out by Middlesex University and the Fertility Network that showed a clear correlation between infertility and depression, with 90 per cent experiencing depression.

“The committee is acutely aware of, and has sympathy for, the CCG’s underfunding and the inconsistencies of the funding formula when compared to similar authorities. However, we feel that the effects of the withdrawal of IVF funding in Croydon are not in the best interests of the borough’s residents.”

Council leader Tony Newman said: “It’s true to say that the decision to withdraw funding will be reviewed in a year, but, even if the funding is restored at that point, there would be residents who have passed the age limit and missed the chance of conceiving.   

“On a personal level, that could have devastating consequences, and that’s why we’re urging the Secretary of State to review the CCG’s decision and also to allocate additional funding to the historically underfunded Croydon group.”

The Department of Health said that all CCGs had been advised to implement the NHS guidelines – for three full cycles of IVF – in full. A spokeswoman said: “Fertility problems can have a serious and lasting impact on those affected, which is why we expect all CCGs to implement NICE guidelines.”

Croydon CCG previously funded one round of IVF or ICSI – a more precise form of treatment that involves injecting sperm directly into an egg – to women under 39 who had been unable to conceive for three years. An average of 94 couples a year received free treatment.

Dr Agnelo Fernandes, assistant clinical chair of Croydon CCG, said: “We took this difficult decision only after careful consideration and discussion in the context of the increasingly challenging financial position we face. We have a statutory requirement to prioritise front line services for the people of Croydon and live within the financial resources available to us.

“We will work closely with the committee and the Department of Health to ensure the process is dealt with as swiftly as possible to bring certainty to Croydon residents.  
“We would like to stress that IVF and ICSI are still available to those with exceptional clinical circumstances and that other forms of fertility treatment are still available.”

Revealed: how hospitals became the best in London at meeting A&E targets


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A hospital boss today told a radical rethink of emergency care led to its A&Es becoming the quickest in London at treating patients.

Epsom and St Helier NHS trust pioneered new systems to get patients home as soon as possible after running out of beds during the 2015/16 winter.

The results, which surprised even its own staff, saw it deliver the seventh best A&E performance in the country in January and achieve the NHS target of treating 95 per cent of patients within four hours for the entire 2016/17 year.

Its approach could provide a solution to the growing NHS crisis in preventing patients who are also dependent on social care from getting stuck in hospital.

It could also offer a lifeline to a trust struggling with buildings at St Helier that date to 1937, and which is at risk of losing out in a proposed shake-up of A&Es in south-west London.

Daniel Elkeles at St Helier hospital

Chief executive Daniel Elkeles (above) said: “About this time last winter, we ran out of space. We decided to completely rethink the emergency care pathway. There was no more space at either Epsom or St Helier to admit people.

“It was either build some more capacity – for which there was no money – or this. Everybody knows that there are patients in the hospital for whom it is no longer appropriate for them to still be here.”

Under the patient flow transformation programme, hospital leaders meet at 9am, 11am and 3pm to assess the status of every inpatient in their care.

Mr Elkeles said: “The objective is: what do we need to do for this patient today so that we can get them home? You end up with an agreed action list for each of these patients.

“In 20 minutes we go through the entire hospital, knowing who is definitely going home today, and who could be going home today if we did X, Y and Z. [The key thing] is that we have all the people who can make X, Y and Z happen in the room.

“If you join up everything we are doing, we have as good an emergency care pathway as you can provide in the UK.”

By improving patient flow, the trust has freed-up beds – meaning it has not had to cancel an operation since last October for urgent care or cancer patients.

In addition, it is saving up to £2 million a year by no longer having to send patients waiting too long for surgery to private hospitals.

At St Helier, a 22-bed “step closer to home” ward has been established for patients who are medically ready to leave but who cannot quickly return home, often due to a lack of carers or because they require neuro-rehabilitation.

At Epsom, an “at home” service sees medics and council social services teams assess patients together and provide full support for their first 72 hours back home. Dr Guan Lim, clinical director for medicine at Epsom, said: “It’s a real game-changer in how we provide this care.”

The entire trust is said to have “bought into” the four-hour A&E target, rather than just seeing it as the emergency department’s concern. An ambulatory care centre aims to treat and discharge patients referred from GPs within a day.

Amir Hassan, lead emergency consultant, said the key to coping with new patients was ensuring the swift treatment and discharge of existing patients.

“Everyone says we are understaffed and under-resourced,” he said. “The reason why we are under-staffed and under-resourced is because we are dealing with too many patients sitting in A&E without being moved on.”

Dr Simon Winn, clinical lead of the acute medical unit, said: “If they don’t need to be in hospital, we should be doing everything we can to facilitate them to leave.”

Prince William meets hospital staff and paramedics who responded first to the Westminster terror attack



William at St Thomas's

Prince William heard how staff from St Thomas’s hospital ran to help victims of the Westminster terror attack when he thanked them for their efforts.

Among the medics the Duke of Cambridge met at the hospital were Dr Gareth Lloyd, a junior doctor who helped the wounded on Westminster bridge after seeing the incident as he made his way to work, and Dr Colleen Anderson, a junior docutor who went to help after seeing the atrocity from the hospital.

Other who met the prince on his visit to the hospital yesterday were A&E consultant Dr Holly Gettings, ward sister Margaret Kallon and Charlotte Wilce, a senior physiotherapist who also attended patients on the bridgee after witnessing the attack from the hospital.

Pictured with William, from left, are: Dr Gettings, Ms Kallon, Rob Nichols (acting head of nursing, inpatient services), Carl McIntosh (security operations manager), Ms Wilce, Dr Lloyd, Dr Anderson, Jess Child (resilience manager).

William at LAS

Earlier in the day William visited London Ambulance Service, which sent 68 staff to the incident and took 23 patients to hospital.

Motorcycle paramedic Richard Webb-Stevens, who was the first ambulance responder on scene said: “Initially, I thought I was going to a road traffic collision and my first priority was to assess and triage the patients and report back to our control room.

“I started at one end of the bridge and worked my way across, checking all of the patients, some of whom were very badly injured. The public were amazingly helpful and comforted the injured while help was on the way and doctors and nurses ran out to help from the local hospital.

“I was very focused on treating patients and it wasn’t until much later that I found out it was a terrorist attack. We train our whole lives for incidents like this and you hope it will never happen, but I consider it a privilege to do this job and play a small part in helping patients.”

Emergency medical dispatcher Clare Miles, who took one of the first 999 calls, said: “There was so much noise in the background but the caller said he thought he’d just witnessed an attack and a car had crashed into lots of people. Seconds later I took a call about a woman who was in the Thames.

“I could see that lots of calls were coming into the control room so I knew we were dealing with something serious. I was covered in goose bumps the whole time, but we train for incidents like this and we have to be able to stay calm and level-headed and be there for the person on the phone.”

London parents to be offered digital version of ‘Red Book’ that charts child development



An online version of the “red book” given to parents to monitor they first years of their child’s health and development is to be rolled out across London.

The e-Redbook will be available for the 136,000 children born each year in the capital, providing digital back-up for parents who lose the paper version.

The initiative was announced today as part of the widespread changes to the way the NHS operates. These will see patients wait longer than the current 18-week target for non-urgent surgery to enable more money to be spent on GPs, A&E and cancer.

The digital version of the red book – officially known as the personal child development record – was trialled in Newham, Greenwich, Kingston, Inner North West London and Barnet. NHS England said the traditional version, on which health workers chart a child’s weight, height and vaccination records, would not be scrapped.

Parents will be able to access their child’s records on a smartphone and iPad app. The system alerts parents to forthcoming appointments and immunisations – increasing uptake and reducing the cost of missed appointments. Pregnant women can access the app from 28 weeks’ gestation to allow them to become familiar with the developmental milestones.

Meanwhile, NHS England London today said that six new Linac radiotherapy machines to deliver precision cancer treatment would be provided across the capital.

One is already in place at UCLH, with Barking, Havering and Redbridge, North Middlesex, Imperial College Healthcare – which gets two for Charing Cross hospital – and the Royal Marsden due to receive theirs over the next 18 months.

In addition, rapid diagnostic centres for cancer will be opened in the coming year at UCLH, Queen’s, North Middlesex, Royal Free and the Royal Marsden.

See here for a new low in the relationship between Imperial and Hammersmith and Fulham council in relation to Charing Cross hospital.

Air ambulance doctor and paramedic reveal role in 999 response to Westminster terror attack


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An air ambulance doctor today praised the bravery of the medics and civilians who rushed to help the victims of the Westminster terror attack.

Dr Tony Joy, of London’s Air Ambulance, was first on the scene with a fellow doctor and advanced paramedic when the charity helicopter landed in Parliament Square.

Dr Tony Joy

Junior doctors and nurses ran from St Thomas’s hospital to tend to the injured and dying on Westminster bridge while junior doctors’ leader Jeeves Wijesuriya helped treat the attacker New Palace Yard.

Dr Joy, 35, a consultant at the Royal London hospital, told the Standard: “I was aware that there were a number of people who had come to help. Absolute respect to all the clinicians and all the passers-by that were involved. Some people would have done that completely instinctively.

“They would have wanted to help and they would not have known how much of a risk they were putting themselves in. That to me takes real bravery and should be profoundly commended.”

He told told how he and his LAA colleagues prepared for a “mass casualty event” as they prepared to land. A total of 68 London Ambulance paramedics and emergency staff were also involved.

“We understood we were going to a road traffic collision with about 20 patients,” Dr Joy told Sky News. “That obviously focuses the mind. We prepared for a mass casualty event and thought about what that might entail.

“As we were overhead we could see that it was a complicated clinical scene over some distance over the bridge. We tried to gather some information but there wasn’t much clinical information at that time. We were there very early.

“When we arrived on the scene, our job is to provide clinical care to the most critically injured patients but also with incidents like this to support London Ambulance Service in setting up the strategic control of a very complicated major incident.”

The charity, which needs about £4 million a year to keep its two helicopters flying, has been inundated with more than £10,000 in donations overnight as people pay tribute to its work.
To donate £5, text SAVE to 70800.

Dr Joy said it was a “pretty awful day”  but a “privilege” to have been able to help people at their greatest time of need. “We prepare for it but we don’t expect it to happen,” he said. “It certainly focuses the mind.

“Our patients are very vulnerable. They didn’t expect it but they are having their worst-ever day. It is humbling to be involved in helping on the worst day of their lives.”

Ambulance chiefs today paid tribute to frontline staff for “an exceptionally good job” as they treated the victims.

LAS medical director Fenella Wrigley told the Standard: “Yesterday was something we always hoped would never happen, but which we were prepared for. We were able to provide specialist teams trained to respond to this type of incident.

“The staff did an exceptionally god job. They were calm and provided very good clinical care. I remain very proud and grateful to our staff for all they did under extremely difficult circumstances.”

Jon Goldie, a LAS paramedic manager who co-ordinated the response on the scene, said: “There were a variety of injuries. We quickly looked to establish where all the patients are who is the sickest and who needs immediate transfer to hospital.”

Malcolm Alexander, chairman of the LAS Patients Forum, said: “The London Ambulance Service was on the scene fast and LAS staff carried out their difficult tasks in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, providing Londoners and those visitors injured in the attack support and assistance.

“We wish to praise and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of London Ambulance Service on this most difficult of days and salute their dedication and service.”

Cycle tsar urged to block plans for ‘rumble strips’ on Hyde Park bike lane


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London’s new cycling commissioner was today under pressure to halt plans to install cobble-stone speed humps in Hyde Park after a cyclist was clocked at 32mph.

Campaigners called on Will Norman, appointed by Mayor Sadiq Khan, and deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross to force the Royal Parks to reconsider the £215,000 installation of 28 rows of raised granite setts next week on a key route between Speakers Corner and Hyde Park Corner. The route is part of the Central London Cycle Grid and is used by more  than 1,200 cyclists an hour in the morning.

Parks bosses decided to act after a survey last June recorded one cyclist riding at 32mph around 7pm on the Broad Walk, which is split 50-50 between a cycle path and pedestrian walkway. The Royal Parks wants cyclists to ride at a “considerate cycling speed” of 8-12mph though this is not legally enforceable.

The installation of similar cobbled “rumble strips” on Mount Walk in Kensington Gardens last year backfired – cyclists divert round them onto the grass or speed up to minimise the discomfort of riding over them.

The survey found about two-thirds of cyclists rode at what would be regarded as a typical commuting speed of up to 16mph. It clocked 6.6 per cent of riding above 20mph, 29.5 per cent at 16-20mph, 43.1 per cent at 12-16mph, 13 per cent at 10-12mph and 7.7 per cent at 10mph or below.

There were no reported collisions between cyclists and pedestrians but two “near misses” a week were spotted.

Cyclist Jon Stone called the plans “horrifically stupid” as it would lead to riders diverting onto Park Lane. Another said: “Ripping up one of London’s busiest bike tracks, turning it into shared pavement, [is] dangerous for all”.

Simon Munk of London Cycling Campaign said the plan was “outrageous”. Cycling blogger Danny Williams said the Royal Parks was “actively refusing to listen”.

Cycling campaigner Dominic Leggett wrote to Mr Norman and Ms Shawcross asking them to intervene. He said the changes were “not justified by any history of collisions, and discriminate against least able cyclists”. He described them as “idiotic, unnecessary changes that will make a good cycle route uncomfortable and unpleasant for most”.

A Royal Parks spokesman said: “If we have cyclists racing up and down a pathway at speed with pedestrians trying to cross that really doesn’t make for a pleasant visit, especially when we also have cases of pedestrians being shouted at for walking on pathways in the way of cyclists.”

Mr Norman’s spokesman was approached for comment.

‘Extraordinary’ NHS documentary Hospital to return to Imperial, BBC announces



The TV documentary series that has exposed crisis bed shortages within the NHS and the cost of “health tourism” by foreign patients is to return for two more series, the BBC announced today.

Hospital, which is filmed across Imperial College Healthcare including St Mary’s and Charing Cross hospitals, has revealed how surgical teams are at times unable to operate due to the lack of intensive care beds.

Described by critics as “extraordinary” and “brilliant and brave”, it has also shown how the NHS remains able to perform near-miracles despite the extent of the pressure it faces.

Pioneering operations have included heart surgery on a 98-year-old man. It also showed how Imperial was left with an unpaid bill in excess of £330,000 after a Nigerian woman turned away from the US went into labour on a flight home via Heathrow. Two of her four babies died.

The second series will focus on maternity care and mental health at Imperial. The location for the third series is yet to be decided. The first six-part series, which ends tonight, has averaged 2.5 million viewers per episode.

Patrick Holland, Channel Editor, BBC Two, said: “The first series of Hospital was everything I want BBC Two to be. It is timely, brilliantly made and challenging TV. It was editorially brave to make a series with such a short turnaround but it felt so timely for the audience.”

Simon Dickson, executive producer at filmmakers Label1, said: “Edited and broadcast within a few short weeks of filming being completed, it’s Britain’s first fast turnaround blue-chip documentary series. The audience figures prove that people crave the freshness and insight it offers.”

Future series will also extend beyond the hospitals to look at primary and social care, to understand in greater detail the complex relationship between them and the NHS.

Michelle Dixon, director of communications at Imperial, said: “Hospital has given us the opportunity to show the amazing care and commitment of our staff as well as the growing challenges we face as we respond to the changing needs and demands of our patients.
“It’s so important to develop a shared understanding of what’s happening in the NHS and what’s at stake. While the first series has provided a great insight to a whole range of issues and services, there is still much more to see.”