Monday briefing: NHS faces £1bn shortfall

·9-min read
<span>Photograph: James Veysey/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: James Veysey/Rex/Shutterstock

Top story: English hospitals facing £20m budget holes

Good morning and welcome to today’s briefing with me, Alison Rourke.

The NHS is facing a shortfall of more than £1bn to tackle the second wave of Covid-19, deal with the coming winter and restart routine operations, the Guardian has learned. Hospitals across England face holes in their budget for the rest of the year of up to £20m each, which they say is hampering winter preparations. NHS England is thought to have been forced to give trusts and clinical commissioning groups less than they calculated they needed to tide them over for the next few months because the Treasury has given it less to disburse than it requested. The NHS in London faces a £200m gap and Greater Manchester is facing a “significant gap”, according to officials. It raises questions over the chancellor’s pledge to give the NHS “whatever resources it needs” to tackle the pandemic. The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said the funding gap “exposes the chasm between reality and Rishi Sunak’s slick spin on social media”, adding: “Ministers promised the NHS would get whatever it needs. They now need to deliver on their promise to avoid a winter of misery for patients.”

In other coronavirus developments, an estimated 6m small businesses in the UK supporting 16.6m jobs are in a financially precarious position as a result of the pandemic, Kings Business School in London has warned. Nearly two-thirds of entrepreneurs felt their business might not survive the pressures of Covid-19, while more than half predicted they would run out of money within the next 12 months. Abroad, China has detected 137 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases in Kashgar, in the north-western region of Xinjiang, after one person was found to have the virus the previous day – the country’s first new local cases for 10 days. The Australian city of Melbourne is finally starting to ease its lockdown that has lasted more than 100 days. You can stay up to date on this and all our coronavirus news on our blog.

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Tanker ‘hijacking’ – Seven stowaways have been detained after the Special Boat Service stormed a Liberian-registered tanker off the Isle of Wight which they are suspected of attempting to hijack. Special forces gained control of the Nave Andromeda vessel in nine minutes after it was feared that the crew was no longer fully in charge. Hampshire police said all 22 crew members of the tanker were safe. The 228-metre tanker had been expected to dock in Southampton on Sunday to pick up a cargo of petrol, but its course in the Channel became erratic, prompting calls for an intervention as it passed the south-east edge of the Isle of Wight. The vessel left Lagos on 6 October. Lloyd’s List, the shipping newspaper, said it believed seven stowaways had boarded in Nigeria.

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School meals – Downing Street is under mounting pressure to perform a U-turn on free school meals over the holidays in England, with Tory MPs angry at No 10’s refusal to back down in the face of Marcus Rashford’s high-profile campaign. One Tory MP told the Guardian the issue had been a “political handling disaster” and that they had “never known so many Conservative MPs and council leaders so angry”. Labour leader Keir Starmer turned up the heat on Sunday, pledging to force a fresh Commons vote before Christmas unless there was a rethink on the issue. By last night at least 78 councils had announced they would be activating half-term food schemes, either by offering food vouchers or providing extra financial and logistical support to local food banks and charities. The majority of councils offering help were Labour-run, including Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Leeds and a number of London boroughs, with a small but growing number of Conservative-run councils breaking ranks over the issue.

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US election – A momentous week in the United States begins today with the expected confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the supreme court. She would be President Trump’s third appointee, something that has not happened in a single term since the 1980s. The Republican party has become dramatically more illiberal in the past two decades and now more closely resembles ruling parties in autocratic societies than its former centre-right equivalents in Europe, according to a study by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. It found a significant shift since 2000, in which the party has taken to demonising and encouraging violence against its opponents, adopting attitudes and tactics comparable to ruling nationalist parties in Hungary, India, Poland and Turkey. The shift has both led to and been driven by the rise of Donald Trump. The study found the Democratic party, by contrast, had changed little in its attachment to democratic norms, remaining similar to centre-right and centre-left parties in western Europe. On Covid, the US on Sunday reported a second day in a row with cases over 83,000. It came as Trump’s White House chief of staff made an unusually candid admission that the administration did not intend to contain the pandemic. You can keep up with all the news today and until the 3 November poll on our 24-hour US blog.

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‘Absolutely terrified’ – an Australian woman has recounted her ordeal of being taken off a Qatar Airways flight by authorities who strip-searched passengers as they tried to identify the mother of an infant found in the Doha airport toilets. Kim Mills was one of nine women taken off the 2 October flight bound for Sydney. She said she was “absolutely terrified” when removed from the flight but suspects she was not searched because she is in her 60s. But other women on the flight told her they were told to remove their underwear in order to be examined. The women were allowed to return to Sydney but on Monday the Australian foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, said it was a “a grossly, grossly disturbing, offensive, concerning set of events”.

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Frank Bough dies – The former BBC Grandstand presenter has died, aged 87. Bough, who also presented the news magazine show Nationwide and Breakfast Time, was one of the corporation’s highest-profile and highest-paid television hosts in the 1970s and 80s. He reportedly died last Wednesday in a care home. No further details have been released.

Frank Bough has died, aged 87.
Frank Bough has died, aged 87. Photograph: Jim James/PA

Today in Focus podcast: 10 years of Instagram

This month marks 10 years since the launch of Instagram. Tech journalist Sarah Frier looks at how it went from a tiny startup to a multibillion-dollar business, and the impact the social media company has had on our lives.

Instagram turns 10
Instagram turns 10. Photograph: Loïc Venance/AFP/Getty Images

Lunchtime read: ‘I don’t wish cancer on anyone else. But for me, it has been a gift’

The singer and actor Olivia Newton-John talks about her third diagnosis of cancer, taking cannabis and ayahuasca, having Karen Carpenter as her spirit guide – and why her hit film Grease shouldn’t be accused of sexism.

Sport

Tao Geoghegan Hart has spoken of the “bizarre” feeling of becoming the fifth Briton to win a Grand Tour after his victory in the Giro d’Italia for Team Ineos Grenadiers, whose general manager hailed the win “the stuff of comic books”. Lewis Hamilton believes he can go on to even greater heights, having surpassed Michael Schumacher’s record of Formula One race victories after his win at the Portuguese Grand Prix. Jamie Vardy came on as a substitute to score Leicester’s winner in their 1-0 Premier League victory at Arsenal. Raúl Jiménez gave Wolves the lead with 10 minutes left before Jacob Murphy struck to earn Newcastle a 1-1 draw, while goals from James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams gave Southampton a 2-0 win over Everton – the league leaders’ first defeat of the season. And England coach Simon Middleton has paid tribute to his players after they retained their Women’s Six Nations title after chief rivals France were held to a 13-13 draw by Scotland.

Business

The global aerospace industry has endured its worst quarter ever, with record low orders for new aircraft and 12,000 UK jobs already lost or at risk because of the collapse in travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Aircraft manufacturers received only 13 orders in July and August, according to the aerospace and defence lobby group ADS. No orders were placed in September. That compares with 152 in the same period in 2019.

Big US technology companies are exploiting loopholes in global tax rules to avoid paying as much as $2.8bn (£2.1bn) tax a year in developing countries, according to research by the anti-poverty charity ActionAid International. Facebook, Google and Microsoft have been accused of failing to pay a fair amount of taxes in poor countries where governments are struggling to provide even basic healthcare or education to their citizens.

The pound is buying $1.30 and €1.10.

The papers

Several of today’s papers carry news of the stricken oil tanker on their front page. The Guardian says “Elite squad raid tanker ‘seized’ off south coast” (but saves the splash for “Johnson facing revolt as Tories demand U-turn on school meals”). The Times has “Special forces storm oil tanker off Isle of Wight”; Metro leads with “SBS storm hijack ship”; and the Telegraph says “Special forces retake ‘hijacked’ tanker”. The tabloids each go their own way. The Mail splashes on “Twelve minute Covid tests in Boots”. The Mirror devotes its front page to the “children’s champion” Marcus Rashford, with the headline: “Marcus: the pride of Britain”. The Express leads with “Dementia patients drug scandal”, reporting patients are being given “dangerous” anti-psychotic drugs to keep them sedated during the pandemic. The i also leads on Covid, with the headline: “Vaccine hopes rise”. The FT focuses on the pandemic in the US and the final election push by the president with the headline: “Trump claims Covid is ‘rounding the turn’ despite spike in US cases”.

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