Friday briefing: ‘We walked away’ – wave of GP surgery closures | World news

Friday briefing: ‘We walked away’ – wave of GP surgery closures | World news
Friday briefing: ‘We walked away’ – wave of GP surgery closures | World news

Top story: 138 surgeries shut their doors

Hello, it’s Warren Murray offering salutations and information.

GPs have blamed under-resourcing and recruitment difficulties as surgery closures across the UK reach an all-time high, affecting an estimated half a million patients last year. According to research by the medical website Pulse, 138 surgeries shut their doors in 2018, compared with just 18 in 2013.

Data released under freedom of information by 186 out of 217 clinical commissioning groups and health boards revealed that smaller surgeries – those serving 5,000 or fewer patients – were the worst affected in 2018, accounting for 86% of closures.

One doctor told how after 26 years he gave up his GP surgery in Brighton, where he and his partner were run off their feet looking after 6,500 patients. “The money was just falling away,” he said. “We gave the staff six months’ notice and we walked away.” NHS England said its figures showed fewer practice closures and patient dispersals in 2017/18 compared with 2016/17. But those figures are only for England, and cover the financial year, whereas Pulse’s figures cover the whole UK and calendar years.

Quietly content – The Labour peer David Brookman claimed almost £50,000 in attendance and travel expenses despite not speaking or asking a single written question when the House of Lords sat in 2018, the Guardian has found. Almost a third of the 800 peers barely participated in parliamentary business over 12 months despite costing almost £3.2m in allowances. Forty-six did not register a single vote, including on Brexit. The former Lords speaker Frances D’Souza, an advocate of reform, said: “There are people who are attending the House of Lords who are not contributing, and therefore they are simply redundant.” The steel magnate Swraj Paul, who only spoke once, defended his claim of more than £47,000 of allowances, saying there was “a lot more to be done than making speeches” in the Lords, such as “thinking, etc, and giving my point of view to colleagues”.

Boxer’s fight to stay – The former England boxer Kelvin Bilal Fawaz has been released from immigration detention after his lawyers threatened to launch legal action. Fawaz represented England at amateur level six times but has battled to establish his nationality and immigration status. The 31-year-old was brought to the UK from Nigeria as a child 17 years ago and forced into domestic servitude.

Kelvin Bilal Fawaz, who was born in Nigeria but came to the UK as a child

Kelvin Bilal Fawaz, who was born in Nigeria but came to the UK as a child. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

Since he turned 18, the Home Office has delayed taking key decisions on Fawaz’s immigration status, leaving him unable to work and impoverished. Some of the biggest names in the sport have appealed to the Home Office on his behalf, including the boxing manager Frank Warren. The Home Office says that it is considering his case.

‘Every child has right to education’ – Israel’s defence ministry is auctioning two prefabricated classrooms that the EU had donated to Palestinian schoolchildren in the West Bank. The EU mission to Jerusalem and Ramallah has condemned Israeli authorities and called on them to rebuild the structures in the same place “without delay”. Palestinians have limited autonomy in parts of the West Bank, mostly urban areas, but Israel maintains full control of most of the territory and demolishes homes and buildings it says were built without permission. “Every child has the right to access education and states have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfil this right, by ensuring that schools are inviolable safe spaces for children,” said the EU mission.

Sea change – The short-snouted seahorse, ocean quahog, ross worm reefs and blue mussel beds are among the species and habitats that will benefit from 41 new marine conservation zones. This “blue belt” nearly twice the size of England ranges from Studland Bay, near Bournemouth, to the Goodwin Sands off the Deal coast in Kent. Conservationists have denied the zones are “paper parks” that offer little real protection. “Many of the sites here in Devon have had scallop dredging banned so the most damaging activities have been stopped,” said Joan Edwards from the Wildlife Trusts, adding that the zones were “good for nature conservation, and good for fishermen because if you have areas that are left alone they will produce more fish”.

Today in Focus podcast: Trump’s coming to see the Queen

Ben Rhodes was Obama’s national security adviser and accompanied him on his UK state visit in 2011. He reveals what goes into planning a trip of this scale and what the UK should expect when Trump arrives next week. Plus: Paul Owen on the fallout from Mueller’s first public statement on his Trump-Russia investigation.

Lunchtime read: From refugee to ‘the girl who kicked ass’

When she arrived in the US as a 10-year-old refugee from Iran, Dina Nayeri found it hard to fit in. But that all changed when she hatched a plan to get into Harvard – by becoming a taekwondo champion. “I admit the notion that sport trophies got you into university in America struck me as bizarre for exactly one second before I gave myself up to it … I wanted to try swimming or tennis, but in Oklahoma those sports were the province of rich girls with private coaches.

Dina Nayeri taekwondo montage

Photograph: Courtesy of Dina Nayeri

“Then, my best friend, a fellow book nerd, mentioned that she had joined a martial arts club that had no other girls from our school. I loved taekwondo from the first day – we all wore the same clothes and smelled like sweat, no fineries were allowed … American, Iranian, Mexican, Thai and all other cultures fell aside and we behaved as if we were in Seoul. After I got my yellow belt, I started competing in small local events. I won a trophy, then another. My thighs became dangerous, like the sporty girls I had admired.” In the end, was it enough to get into Harvard? Read on to find out.


Ben Stokes soaked up a phenomenal feeling after his one-handed wonder catch got England’s World Cup campaign under way with a crushing victory and a sprinkling of stardust. Off the pitch, the fans’ joy in the packed stands at the Oval suggested cricket is doing just fine as it is, writes Barney Ronay. Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen is hoping for a successful end to the “craziest Champions League ever”, as the countdown to Saturday’s final with Liverpool continues.

British No 1 Johanna Konta will meet Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova – who reads Shakespeare in her spare time – in the third round of the French Open on Friday but Kyle Edmund limped out of Roland Garros with a knee injury that left the men’s No 1 uncertain about being seeded for Wimbledon – or even starting. Erling Braut Håland, the 18-year-old who has been linked with Manchester United and Juventus, broke the Under-20 World Cup scoring record with nine goals in a a 12-0 victory over Honduras. And burglars have stolen medals and commemorative jewellery from the London 2012 Games belonging to the British Olympian Eilish McColgan.


Donald Trump has slapped a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports, saying that the levy will gradually increase unless it acts to stem the flow of migrants north. The president’s surprise announcement would appear to threaten the passage of legislation to update the US-Mexico trade deal but a White House spokesman said the two “were not linked”. It did, however, prompt more losses on Asian stock markets amid fears that the US could lead the global economy into recession. The FTSE100 is set to drop 0.35% at the open. Sterling is at $1.261 and €1.132 this morning.

The papers

A wide range of stories on show today, but many fronts capture England’s good start to the World Cup cricket. The Guardian carries a big photo of Ben Stokes after his amazing outfield catch, but the main headline is reserved for: “Peer who never spoke in Lords last year claimed €50,000 in expenses”. The Telegraph carries a big picture of bowler Jofra Archer with the headline “Bullesye for Archer”, but its main headline focusses on the Tory leadership contest: “Trump: Boris is a good guy”.

Guardian front page, Friday 31 May 2019

Guardian front page, Friday 31 May 2019.

The Times also carries pictures of the cricket (Ben Stokes’s outfield catch) but also saves its main story for politics: “Poll surge puts Lib Dems on top”, saying the “pro-Remain party most popular in country”. The FT marks Stokes’ efforts with “quite a catch” but its main headline is: “Woodford fund shrinks by £560m in a month as investors jump ship”.

The Mail and the Mirror both lead on doctor shortages. The Mail says two GPs’ surgeries are shutting every week: “So that’s why you can’t get a doctor”. The Mirror has “NHS crisis: 500,000 forced to find new GP” as “record number of families move surgery as smaller practices are axed”. The Express leads on Brexit: “Barnier blames Brexit on British nostalgia”. And the Sun tries out its alliteration with “Wooney’s weddy to wumble with Woss” in a story about Wayne Rooney saying he wants to box Jonathan Ross.

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