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Nuclear lobbyists wined and dined senior civil servants, documents show

Nuclear lobbyists wined and dined senior civil servants, documents show

Senior civil servants responsible for ensuring the building of the UK’s new fleet of nuclear power stations have been extensively wined and dined by nuclear industry lobbyists, documents released under freedom of information reveal.

hospitality register (.zip) released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) show that the three most senior officials at the Office for Nuclear Development (OND) have received hospitality from nuclear industry representatives on dozens of occasions since the office’s formation in September 2009. Many of the meetings have taken place at some of London’s most luxurious restaurants, hotels and private members’ clubs.

Mark Higson, the OND’s chief executive, received his first hospitality in the role just a few weeks after the office’s creation with a dinner at the Lancaster hotel in Kensington hosted by Westinghouse, the US nuclear plant construction company, and the Nuclear Industry Association. In the intervening period up to last month, Higson and his colleagues Hergen Haye and Stephen de Souza separately accepted hospitality from a range of companies with a vested interest in the nuclear industry, including Babcock,EDFAreva, and GE Hitachi, as well as a range of industry consultants and trade associations. Read more.

Leo Hickman | The Guardian | 28th November 2012

Mental health service failing thousands in crisis every year          

Mental health services in England are failing thousands of people in crisis every year, because they are understaffed, under resourced, and overstretched, says the charity MIND.

The charity bases its conclusions on three separate pieces of research: Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to mental health trusts; a service user survey of almost 1000 people; and preliminary research by University College London.

The findings show that four out of 10 mental health trusts (41%) in England have staffing levels that are well below established benchmarks, and access to crisis care varies widely.

One in 10 crisis teams still fails to operate services 24/7, despite recommendations by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Read more.

Carole White | On Medica | 28 November 2012

Hospital car park fees go straight to private firms

Private companies are draining millions of pounds a year from the NHS in car parking fees, according to a new investigation.

Trusts rely heavily on private companies to run their car parks but five big hospitals have admitted that none of the money made goes back into the NHS.

The BBC’s Watchdog Daily programme found that from 152 responses to a freedom of information request, 126 have car parks that charge for parking and a massive £106m was made from parking fees paid patients, visitors and staff in the last year. Read more.

Morning Star | 28th November 2012

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