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18th September 2023
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NHS to spend millions more on DEI posts
The Health Secretary is reportedly seeking answers from officials at NHS England after plans were drawn up to create 244 posts across three new departments focussing on “Equality, Diversity and Inclusion”, “People and Culture” and “People and Communities”. Plans seen by The Telegraph show the units have a staffing budget of almost £14m, including 18 senior officials on six-figure salaries. The move comes despite repeated attempts by ministers, including the current Health Secretary Steve Barclay, to cut back on waste and improve frontline patient care. Frank Young, research and communications director at the Civitas think tank, said: “Most ordinary people will be aghast to yet again see money being spent on equalities advisers that could be spent treating sick people in hospitals.”
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GMC accused of ideologically-driven denial of women
The General Medical Council has updated its guidance for employees who become pregnant, replacing female-specific language with gender-neutral terms throughout. A maternity document for staff, seen by the Telegraph, has removed all mention of “mothers”, substituting the term “surrogate mother” with phrases like “surrogate parent” for example. The GMC’s internal menopause policy document has also been updated and is stripped of references to women. Heather Welford from With Woman, a group of midwives and other maternity clinicians activists, said: “The decision by the GMC to obscure the fact that only women have babies is ideologically driven, medically inaccurate and unhelpful to women and babies. For medical professionals, the sex of a person is salient to their health care. Reputable organisations such as the GMC should not be changing language on a population level to pander to ideologically driven pressure groups.”
Whistleblowing on illegal cartels drops 70% in UK
The UK's competition watchdog should be concerned by a 70% drop in whistleblowing on illegal cartels in the last five years, according to top lawyers. A freedom of information request submitted by law firm RPC revealed that reporting has fallen from 1,442 calls in 2017 to just 427 in 2022. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raised the amount whistleblowers receive for exposing illegal activity, but the decline suggests a reluctance to come forward. Chris Ross, a partner in RPC's competition litigation team, said “whistleblowers might be fearful over finding employment again in the same industry after reporting wrongdoing, becoming financially insecure or causing damage to their reputation. Some do not find the potential reward great enough to compensate the potential fallout that could upturn their lives after speaking out – however much is offered.”
BP to review personal relationships following Looney departure
BP has launched a review of all personal relationships between its staff following the resignation of Bernard Looney on Tuesday. The former CEO of the oil and gas giant admitted he was “not fully transparent” about his past relationships with colleagues when questioned during an internal inquiry conducted in 2022. Another probe was conducted when further allegations were made. BP’s code of conduct does not forbid workplace relationships. However, it does state that relationships must be declared if there is any risk of a conflict of interest. The Telegraph reports that the board questioned Looney in 2019 ahead of his appointment as chief in 2020. The board has now appointed law firm Freshfields to conduct an investigation into Mr Looney’s conduct. The inquiry will also examine BP’s broader culture.
EHRC pushes for urgent publication of trans guidance for schools
The chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has urged the Government to urgently publish its delayed trans guidance for schools. Teachers should be provided with “much needed clarity” on gender identity, Marcial Boo said, revealing that he has been pushing the Department for Education to “expedite” their new guidance. Mr Boo also admitted that the EHRC’s own official guidance, in place for almost a decade, had been wrong to tell teachers that they would automatically be guilty of anti-trans discrimination if they referred to a “previously female pupil” as a girl. He said the regulator was urgently correcting “inaccuracies” in its “technical guidance” on the application of the Equality Act in schools. Campaigners for women and children’s rights described the EHRC’s admission as “enormously welcome” and a “crucial step towards the Government producing sound guidance for schools”.
Wizz Air denies 'pushing sleep-deprived pilots to fly'
Wizz Air has been accused of pushing pilots to fly until they can't stay awake in a bid to maximise profits. The maximum flying hours for a commercial pilot is 900 hours of flight time in any calendar year. But a former pilot for the budget airline has claimed Wizz Air views this as a target rather than a limit. Low pay meant pilots worked overtime to boost their salary, but this led to chronic fatigue, putting safety at risk. A Wizz Air spokesperson said: “These are baseless allegations that simply do not stand up to scrutiny.”
Dame Sharon should quit John Lewis before irreparable harm is done
The Telegraph’s Matthew Lynn comments on the tenure of Dame Sharon White as the chair of the John Lewis Partnership, asserting that she is not up to the job and is putting not just the retailer’s reputation at risk, but is “fatally undermining the whole concept of employee ownership.” Although many problems preceded White’s appointment, and she had to contend with the pandemic, Lynn says she was “an odd choice” given she had never run a commercial organisation before. He compares Dame Sharon’s performance to that of Dave Lewis at Tesco and Stuart Machin at M&S stating bluntly that she has been a failure. “Any normal business would have given her a generous pay-off by now, and drafted in someone more experienced in retail to turn the company around.”
Mid-tier firms avoid listed companies over risk of fines
Mid-tier audit firms may be discouraged from working with listed companies due to fears of being investigated by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC). Thomson Reuters research shows a 29% increase in fines against auditors in the past year, with fines issued by the FRC totalling £27m, up from £21m the year before. The increase in fines was driven by the Big Four accountancy firms, but midsize audit firms also faced fines. The FRC has been using fines to improve audit quality and has doubled the size of its enforcement team. However, the challenge for the FRC is to maintain high audit standards while making it worthwhile for mid-tier accountancy firms to pitch for listed company audits, according to Kyle Gibbons, Europe managing director at audit services firm Confirmation, part of Thomson Reuters.
UK considers AI regulations to address deepfake concerns
Britain is considering regulations for artificial intelligence (AI) companies to address concerns about deepfake photos and system failures. Ofcom, the UK regulator, is reviewing ways to limit harm caused by AI as it prepares to enforce the Online Safety Bill. The legislation covers search engines, social media, and pornography, which are likely to use AI technology. Ofcom is exploring audits of AI models, red teaming tests, and digital labelling of deepfakes. The regulator is also researching technology to distinguish between real and deepfake images.
Sanders: Workers should benefit from AI too
US senator Bernie Sanders has said workers should have more paid time off as artificial intelligence and robotics boosts productivity. Sanders, an independent who caucuses with congressional Democrats, said there needs to be a discussion on ensuring advances in technology do not just benefit those at the top. He was speaking after supporting a strike by auto workers in the US, who are negotiating for a four-day work week along with better pay and conditions. “It seems to me that if new technology is going to make us a more productive society, the benefits should go to the workers,” Sanders said. “American people are sick and tired, in my view, … of corporate greed, in which the very richest people are becoming richer,” he added. “What you’re seeing in the automobile industry, in my view, is what we’re seeing all over this economy – greed on the top, suffering on the part of the working class, and people are tired of it.”
US flight attendants threaten strikes over low pay
Flight attendants in the US are threatening strikes and calling for substantial wage increases and improvements in working conditions. Flight attendants at Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines are threatening a possible strike during the 2023 holiday season if their demands are not met.

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