Royal Mail hit by ‘cyber incident’

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Good evening. As thousands of ambulance workers walked out on strike today, attempts at ending the deadlock were met with a fresh blow. We have the latest on a day of computer chaos, after an IT glitch grounded every US flight and Royal Mail was disrupted by a cyber incident.

Evening briefing: Today’s essential headlines

US | An IT meltdown grounded every flight from the US this afternoon in a blow to thousands of travellers. Air travel has now resumed after planes were unable to take off in America due to the glitch with the Federal Aviation Administration’s computer system. However, the effects will continue for some time as the industry battles through more than 3,500 delayed flights. Read about the investigation into the cause here.

The big story: Health unions launch mass boycott

In a blow to Steve Barclay, health unions have staged a mass boycott of the NHS pay review body. Professor Philip Banfield, the BMA’s chair of council, said the system was “rigged from the start”. Ministers had pinned hopes on the upcoming annual pay review finally ending the strike deadlock which is blighting the NHS. 

While health unions have demanded backdated pay rises, the Government had told them to wait until the 2023 review amid fears of fuelling inflation. But on the deadline for submitting evidence for the 2023-24 pay round, 15 health unions representing more than one million NHS staff announced they would refuse to do so. 

In a statement on Wednesday morning, the unions revealed they will refuse to co-operate with the NHS pay review body while the current dispute remains unresolved. Former NHS manager David Lee writes that the number of managers employed by the health service is a political decision based on bureaucracy politicians have chosen to implement.

The major blow to attempts to reach a resolution comes as up to 25,000 workers joined the biggest ambulance strikes yet, including 999 call handlers. 

Joe Pinkstone writes that the number of people dying at home has surged amid ambulance strikes and NHS turmoil. Official figures reveal that, in the last week of December, the number of home death registrations in England and Wales was 36.9 per cent higher than the pre-pandemic average of 1,856. 

A spell of extreme cold weather, NHS pressures and soaring flu infections are among the reasons blamed for the rise. Here are the dates of the next nursing walkouts and which areas are affected.

‘Common sense’

Steve Barclay urged people to use their “common sense” during the ambulance strike, as he suggested people should think twice before taking part in dangerous activities. 

Asked if people should change their behaviour, for example by avoiding going roller skating, Mr Barclay told Times Radio: “We are just saying to people use their common sense. I think people can see that today is going to be a very challenged day for the ambulance service, their focus will be in particular on those life threatening incidents and ensuring those are addressed.”

PM’s private healthcare

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