Emily Maitlis looks at headlines on health secretary Jeremy Hunt, gravitational waves, General Allen on Syria and Zika. And could the Independent be sold?
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The Health Secretary tells us he had no choice but to impose a contract
What is the alternative? The alternative here is that in the face
of a union that militarily refuses to negotiate how we can improve care
for patients that week ends, I just go away.
The doctors threaten a brain drain - and say he's alienated
Predicted by EInstein a century go, Scientists finally detect
gravitational waves - that change the sound
Tonight we speak to one of the scientists who worked
And we're in Colombia, where a 21st century plague
So, this is Zika almost at its worst. You can see the restraint on
this patient's arms, his name is Edwin, and the oxygen pipe is
feeding oxygen into his lungs because he can't breathe on his own.
It was arguably not the day for the Health Secretary to announce
a review into junior doctors' morale.
Junior doctors, by and large, are quite good at spelling
And if morale is low, they know who they blame.
This morning Jeremy Hunt took the unprecedented and radical step
of imposing a new contract on thousands of medics
across England after negotiations between the Government
He had, he insisted, included many concessions that had
been chief stumbling blocks between the sides.
But the Shadow Health Secretary called the move a sign of failure,
the British Medical Association said he'd risked alienating a whole
generation of doctors, some of whom would now vote
And some hospital chiefs who signed a letter of agreement with the
contract later stated they hadn't agreed with the imposition.
So is there a real risk of a brain drain in the NHS now?
And what happens to patients when trust breaks down
between the Health Secretary and his NHS staff?
The dispute over the new junior doctors contract for England
Tonight these junior doctors met on Whitehall to respond to the fact
that a new contract is being imposed on them.
After years of rumbling along and two strikes,
the Government has taken the advice of its lead
negotiator to end talks with the doctors' union.
He has asked me to end the uncertainty for the service
by proceeding with the introduction of
a new contract that he and his colleagues consider both safer
for patients and fair and reasonable for
What exactly is this dispute between the Government
It has been running for a few years but it has
come to a head in the last year because the Tories were elected last
May on a pledge to introduce what they call a seven-day NHS.
In short, hospitals should offer more
services at the weekend, and to do that, they say they need
to change the contracts for the 50,000 or so
junior doctors so that it is cheaper to employ them during the weekend.
This is the current period when junior doctors get normal
It runs from 7am until 7pm on weekdays.
Under the new proposals, normal evenings would end
later, at 9pm, and working on a Saturday would also not attract
overtime, so doctors will get a boost to their basic pay
to mitigate the loss of that
Saturday a normal day is a particular frustration to doctors.
What would it have taken for the BMA to be happy on Saturday pay?
I think it would have taken a recognition that junior doctors
already work Saturdays for patients and will continue to do
so, and to acknowledge that the Government's
position that Saturday is the same as any other day of the week is not
Society is not set up so that schools are open on Saturdays.
Everybody knows that Saturdays are a bit different
and the people who work for patients on a Saturday should have a little
bit of recompense in order to compensate them for working
The tough question is, how do you de-escalate
For the Department of Health, they have
a problem which is if they return
to the negotiating table it will cost them political capital.
For the BMA, they would have to persuade
their members to accept something they have argued about for a long
time with a Health Secretary that lots of doctors feel has
Doctors on the picket line seethe about Mr Hunt's claim that death
There is evidence of that, but there is not good evidence
that staffing is the critical
is a cost-effective way to save lives, but a seven-day NHS
This was the last junior doctors walk out.
This was the last junior doctor walk-out.
But they do have public sympathy for their action.
Two thirds of the public blame Jeremy Hunt for the dispute.
We need to think about the implications of this and to take
the temperature of our members on what they feel about this
imposition of a contract that is frankly unfair.
We will be taking into account when we do that what is happening
in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,
where I have to say the governments there are not
They are continuing to deliver the seven-day
services that they have there in agreement with the medical
staff and agreement with all clinical staff,
and moving forward in a way that the Government in London has
For further strikes to work, they need to
do enough political damage to the Health Secretary to force
So doctors must gauge if they can take public
opinion with them through such a campaign, and whether it would be
worth the likely inconvenience to patients.
No wonder some are talking about seeking work elsewhere.
This imposition has never been done before in the history of the NHS. So
does Jeremy Hunt know what he's doing? I asked him earlier.
It is really disappointing that it has come to this.
We have wanted to discuss these changes for the best
part of four years, but last night Sir David Dalton,
the chief executive of Salford Royal, which is one
of our safest and best hospitals, who has been leading
the negotiations for the Government, said that he did not think
he negotiated settlement was possible
and he urged me to do whatever I thought necessary
That all the time and all the money and all the costly
negotiations have come to nothing because you have just imposed
The negotiations had come to nothing.
He is someone who wrote to me with that judgment.
He said there is no realise the chance
of a deal particularly on the issue of Saturday pay.
This is vital because we have not just a manifesto
commitment but an absolute determination that if our NHS
is going to offer the highest quality
care, patients should be confident that they are going to get the same
high-quality care every day of the week.
You are looking for a seven-day NHS, but it is going to be
cost neutral so you are stretching the five-day NHS to seven.
How is that possibly going to resolve
Next year we are putting in an extra ?3.8 billion in real terms
It is about meeting the clinical standards
that say that every day of the week you should be seen by a senior
decision-maker within 14 hours of being admitted.
If you are vulnerable you should be seen twice
The problem is, bluntly, that when you have got 98% of highly
trained, highly educated, dedicated junior doctors who reject
this, they have read it,
and say you are wrong, that is your problem.
What was so sad was that the BMA junior doctors, instead of sitting
Refused to enter into discussions and balloted for strike,
and they balloted for strike saying that pay was going to be cut,
which it isn't, saying that hours were going
to be lengthened, in fact we are doing the opposite
in bringing down the maximum number of hours that
That is not quite true, because there is going to be
damage, if you like, by removing penalties if doctors
work excess hours.
That safety net is going to be removed.
When they tell you that they are worried about exhaustion
and the knock-on effects to patient safety, why is that not ringing
The problem is what we had before was not a penalty,
it was extra pay for the doctors being
That created a perverse incentive, particularly because doctors' basic
And so one of the things we are doing today
is we are bringing down the weekend premium
rates but increasing basic pay by 13.5%.
You keep on telling me I am wrong and if that is the case,
and this is what we are hearing from junior doctors,
well educated, highly trained, who have read and rejected
what you are proposing, what is the message you are giving
I fully understand in the heat of an industrial relations dispute
that people are not necessarily going to
take everything at face value from the politician who has been
If you do not want to take the Health Secretary's word
for it, listen to independent people.
Today's senior NHS leaders, including the head of NHS England,
Simon Stephens, have said that the new offer on the table
to what was on the table in September.
It is very easy to see through that list.
These are senior respected independent people who say
that the new contract on the table is fair and reasonable and we have
We initially said that Saturday should be treated
We have changed that position and said
that if you work one in four weekends or more you can get a 30%
That is a very significant concession.
The BME have not been prepared to make any
Which is why I have had to make the difficult decision to give
The BMA have said this risks alienating a whole generation
The best outcome, you are going to get more strikes in July or August.
The worst outcome, you are going to get people voting
We have heard from doctors who say, I do not know about my future
in the NHS and I do not know about my future in this country.
In difficult situation like this there is no risk-free route,
but what I have done today is given certainty for the future.
There would be huge risks to the service
if this uncertainty had continued to paralyse the service.
Is there a plan in place if there is a mass
I don't believe it will come to that because I think doctors
will look at what was proposed and they will see this,
when you impose a contract, which is the last thing anyone
wants, you can impose anything you like, you have moved
beyond the process of negotiation, I actually
chose to impose a position which moves a long way
to address the concerns of the BMA and many other
We have had eight studies in the last five years saying that
mortality rates are higher at weekends.
Six of those top about staffing rates as being one of
You have been accused of being rash and misleading for using a figure
of 11,000 more deaths at the weekend when is no evidence
as to how those were created or whether your solutions
There was one study that had the 11,000 figure.
We've had seven other studies in the last five years.
I don't know any doctors who are saying there is not an issue
about the weekend effect and the vast majority would say
I cannot as Health Secretary sit here and say that is not something
How do you as Health Secretary work with NHS staff who do not trust you?
You need them onside to get the public to
believe in the service, and they do not at the moment.
That is unfortunate, because we are in the
middle of a very difficult industrial relations dispute
and in any industrial relations dispute,
if you ask the protagonists
you will not get a particularly complimentary
language, but what is the alternative?
The alternative is that in the face of a union that militantly
refuses to negotiate how we can improve care for patients
at weekends that I just pack my bags and go away.
I cannot do that as Health Secretary.
I have to be there for patients and I think in the end
that is the right thing for doctors as well.
The sound ripples detected in the fabric of space time have
something more akin to a huge and excitable scream
from the scientists that discovered them.
Of that ilk, all credit must go to EInstein who first predicted
Today, in an anouncement that electrified the world,
astronomers finally detected the waves - and conceeded
The skies - one said - will never be the same again.
It's him again, making waves in the world of physics.
This is the equation behind Albert Einstein's
theory of general relativity, conceived 100 years ago.
A pillar of modern physics, it told us
everything from the motion of the planets to the presence
But it also proposed the existence of something else.
Our universe is a gobsmacking sight, but one of its most intriguing
It's awash with them, but we've never
We have detected gravitational waves.
The news today that we finally found them is quite literally
Almost certainly Nobel Prizes will be given out for what some
are already calling the discovery of the century.
The idea is that as any object moves through the fabric
of the universe, it gives off waves of gravitational energy,
much like the ripples that emanate across the surface of the water
Everything on the move including you and me emits them,
but, in universal terms, we are pretty puny, so our waves
When it comes to cosmic giants, though, like
exploding stars, these generate tsunamis of gravitational energy,
so a good opportunity for scientists to
As gravitational waves move through the universe,
they eventually reach the Earth, and when
they do, they gently warp anything and everything they pass through,
stretching and squeezing atoms, but by a tiny, tiny amount.
And it's this minute disturbance that
scientists have detected emanating from this explosive event that took
Two black holes moving ever closer together.
Eventually they smashed into one another, merging.
The collision generated a surge of gravitational ripples that
reached Earth just in time for the switching
on of an experiment designed to find them.
So, why should anyone care about a few ghostly oscillations?
on of an experiment designed to find them.
So, why should anyone care about a few ghostly oscillations?
Aside from providing another feather in Einstein's cap,
who has been proved right once again, it heralds
Until now, even our most advanced telescopes could share only
Now we can detect gravitational waves, we will be able to learn more
about the events that generated them, looking
deeper into space and further back in time than ever before.
It really does give us a brand-new perspective of the universe.
Professor Sheila Rowan, Director of the Institute
for Gravitational Research in Glasgow, is one of the researchers
I cannot imagine what your day has been like.
He knew about this a hundred years ago.
People have written books about the history of the field because it is
so interesting. Einstein made this prediction 100 years ago but for
decades it remained a mathematical curiosity. People were not sure that
this prediction of gravitational waves had any real physical meaning,
that it was an effect we could detect and it took until the 1960s
before people thought that this was maybe something that was real that
we could try to sense, and they have taken the following decades in
between to get to the point where we are now. The sound of space has
changed. Through that sound, do we get the history of the Big Bang? Do
you buy that? Not yet, but that is a call for us in future. What we have
started to be able to do is listen to the gravitational history of our
universe and hear sounds from our local universe, from black holes,
spiralling, and so far we can listen to those within a certain volume of
our local universe. We would like to make our detectors even more
sensitive to sense further out into the universe. The further out we go
the further back in time we can sense and eventually if we can make
our detectors sensitive enough we would like to reach back to
gravitational signals potentially coming from the Big Bang.
Extraordinary. Does this tie in with Einstein's theory of relativity?
Does it prove it? Today's result is a fantastic confirmation of
Einstein's theory of general relativity. Everything we detected
today fits with general relativity and in some ways that is a fabulous
confirmation. We know that general relativity, a fabulously, does not
tell us everything, the. The of all the forces that govern our universe.
In some ways it is a fabulous confirmation of general relativity
but still there are boundaries to push. Does it disturb things that
scientists had thought were set in stone? Has it created more problems
for you? I do not think it has created more problems for us. It has
given us a new tool that we did not have before to study the dark side
of our universe, because pretty much everything we know so far we have
got by going out and turning our telescopes are up and sensing the
light we can see. It has all been done with light and visually. Light
and its different spectrums, x-rays and gamma raise, all part of the
spectrum of light. What does this do to our understanding of gravity? It
has always been mysterious. It gives us a new tool to try to understand
where our limits of Einstein's theory stop because for the first
time we have objects that have the strongest gravity that we can think
of, like polls are black because not even light can escape them, and two
merging is gravity in its strongest form and we have just darted to be
able to see what is happening in those limits of the strongest
gravity we can think of. We got our first ignored today, our first hint.
To study those systems it will push our understanding of general
relativity to the limits and test what we know. Thank you.
The Zika virus, carried by the Aedes Egypti mosquito,
is suspecting of being the cause of 400 birth deformities in Brazil.
Now the disease has moved north to Colombia where it has also been
The science behind Zika is not proven but the fear is real enough.
Imagine losing control over the muscles in your body.
Tropical Colombia is at the centre of a 21st-century
And the suspected cause is the Zika virus.
You can see restraints on the patient's arms.
The oxygen pipe is feeding oxygen into his lungs because he can't
The connection between the creeping paralysis and Zika
But here at the front line, it's taken for
Fabian is 22, a young man in the prime of his life.
Then he got pins and needles, lost feeling
in his legs, and then he couldn't breathe.
I ask, did you use mosquito repellent?
That is his wife, and she's pregnant.
He's recovering, but he can still barely
This is the alley where his family live.
There is fear here, but the message isn't
People should wear long-sleeved shirts, trousers and use repellent.
It doesn't take long to find where the mosquitoes might come
It is Zika's suspected effect on unborn
babies which is causing her as much anxiety as the fate of her husband.
Before 2000, there are no reports of Zika causing birth defects.
Along with other scientists he's noted that Zika
used to be a mild virus and now it isn't.
It looks as if the virus has changed in some way.
We have to see exactly what happened.
I'm afraid that there is a change in the genome of the virus.
Zika plus, a mutation in this genome.
And a problem in the environment that is specific
to South America and Central America.
We will have the answer soon I think.
The health systems in our countries have to deal with the complications
that we did not have, and we are not really ready to deal
All that the authorities can do is fumigate,
and hunt down the Zika larvae which flourish in still water.
So this is absolutely what you don't need
How can you convince people who live in a tropical area to cover up?
The hospital here is under massive pressure, not least from patients
like this one from Venezuela, who the doctors believe have got
Zika, and now the beginnings of paralysis.
Instead, she ended up here in Colombia.
So far, the Western world has been watching the spread of Zika almost
Soon the southern United States and even parts of southern
Europe may be dealing with its grim reality.
Russia has submitted a proposal for a ceasefire in Syria,
Russia's foreign minister gave few details but it's understood
to envisage a truce starting on the first of March.
The US has demanded an immediate end to hostilities, as it suspects
Russia wants to give Syrian government troops three weeks
Earlier I talked to General John Allen, a former commander of US
forces in Afghanistan and President Obama's special envoy
He's flown in from the States to take part in the Intelligence
I began by asking him why there are still no Western fighting
We are there to provide air support, precision air support to both deal
with Daesh as a target, but also to support the manoeuvre
of the Iraqis, and the Syrian opposition element.
We have trainers on the ground at multiple training sites
throughout the region who are training Iraqi security
We have advisers on the ground who are with some of
these manoeuvre forces and helping them to gain the advantage locally.
We have special operators on the ground to work closely
with their counterparts so that in the event we can target a key
Isil location, a compound, a leader, an infrastructure,
So there are boots on the ground, there are Western forces
on the ground, and that's the kind of support we want to provide
to the indigenous population so that they
are the authors of the defeat of Daesh.
So just to clarify, because when people talk about boots
on the ground, they mean, as you know,
Western boots doing a military, as in a fighting, job.
I think we should be very clear that as the operational environment
evolves, we should be prepared to make the kinds of decisions that
There could be the day when as Daesh continues to feel the pressure,
the continued global pressure that we
are bringing to bear on it, that we could see a real
vulnerability, and we should have the capability of moving very
quickly with indigenous forces, with the right kinds of Western
forces if necessary, to exploit that for ability.
The question isn't whether we apply large numbers of forces.
The question is whether they stay on the ground for long
Do you think the West missed a chance
in not going into Syria a lot earlier?
It isn't a hypothetical question in the sense that they had
I think more could have been done earlier, frankly,
with some of the Syrian opposition elements.
We would be in a different place today.
But again, the question begs how much
and how long and who would have contributed, and we didn't do it,
so we are where we are today, and that
is a real challenge, it is a humanitarian catastrophe
of unparalleled extent in the aftermath
of World War II, and we are going to have to deal with that for a long
You could argue in that absence, Assad got stronger, Russia came in,
how much do you think Russia has changed this whole game
when you look at what is happening in Aleppo now?
We had had some hope that, with the Russian incursion,
there could be a partnership in dealing with Isil.
There could be some reduction in the violence that the regime has
And there could be a coherent conversation about a political
We had hopes in all of those areas, and none of them have come to pass.
In fact, the violence is greater than it has been before.
There have been valiant attempts to create a political conversation
about transition, but the Russians and their allies in the region
are about the destruction, if you will,
of the terrorists before we can have this coherent political
Where do the differences lie between you and
President Obama in terms of strategy on Syria, an Isis?
I'm not going to answer that question.
There have been, and I offer my advice to our leadership,
and they are free to take that advice as they choose.
I think that there have been areas where I have
offered advice that has been embraced, and those areas I think
are areas where we are now finding that we are making some progress.
But it's not just me, it team effort, and that team has
been together now for some period of time
dealing with this crisis and trying to give the president our very best
The focus is also including Libya now.
Is it right to step on the Isis in Libya?
I think we should attack Isis wherever we find it.
And in the context of how Isis has globalised,
we find that there have been a number of organisations,
one in Libya, one in the Sinai, one in West
Africa, Boko Haram, which people are familiar with.
And in other locations where they have been
franchised by Isil to fly the black flag.
We're going to need to deal with these over time.
We have to prioritise our efforts, because we
don't have the capacity, we being the Western community
of nations, we don't have the capacity to deal
But I do believe as your question implies
The presence of Isis has made it much
more difficult potentially to find a political solution in Libya,
but the presence of Isis in Libya has a destabilising effect
to Egypt, and potentially across the Mediterranean
So we have to watch this very closely, and we should be,
and we have been, attacking Isis forces
And how significant is the British involvement?
I'm always very careful to point out it is not
about the numbers of aeroplanes or numbers of bombs or special
It is the presence of Britain in the crisis
General John Allen speaking to me earlier.
Its slogan when it first launched was "It is -
The paper that wore its editorial independence with pride,
the Independent, could be moving off the press to become online only.
The final decision has not yet been made but the paper,
which has existed for 30 years, is in the process of selling
the iPaper to the owner of the Scotsman in a ?25 million deal.
Today the Independent's editor, Amol Rajan, sent staff at the paper
an e-mail acknowledging a lot of questions and uncertainty.
Steven Glover was one of the founder members of the paper
What is your gut feeling about this? Are we nearing the end of the
Independent? It won't be the end of it, because it will have a life
online, and that will be the future of the many newspapers. If it is
true, I think it will be the first of many newspapers which stop their
print editions and have another existent online. That e-mail went
out today suggesting that the editor doesn't quite know what is going on.
It is very difficult when you are talking about staff. I guess the
bigger question is, does a paper need to exist paper for many more?
It is a good question. Anybody under 35 who reads the Independent
probably read it online, so whether the print edition continues is not
really an important question. For people who like reading newspapers,
as I do, it does matter. And there is a longer question as to whether
online newspapers will be able to support the same number of
journalists that went newspapers traditionally have. Will they have
the same resources? Will they be able to do the same sort of
journalism. We have some pictures I think of the early days of you and
colleagues starting this off. Did you have an impression in your head
of its life span? Did you think that it would still be going today? Many
people thought we would be out of business in about six months. That
was the common Fleet Street view. We were more optimistic, but if you had
asked me whether I would be around in ten or 20 or 30 or 100 years, I
wouldn't have been able to give you an answer. What decides, there are
some hope as you can't imagine not exist in paper form, and there are
some that seem to be able to make that transition. What is it, what
decides whether a paper stays in paper form? What decides it is in
the end the bottom line. The Independent is now selling so few
copies that it doesn't really make sense to go on printing it everyday.
But that has to be the editorial content, then, essentially? You
could say it is what attracts in advertisers, but is it that
advertisers will only come into a high end money focused paper like
the FT, awkward content do it? The FT, I wouldn't be at all is a prized
if the FT itself stops printing copies in the foreseeable future.
You think it will? Think it is likely. The ones that may follow
quickly are the FT and the guardian, within the next few years. How many
papers will be on the shelves in five years? Most of them, but not
all. In 10-15 years, not very many, I'm afraid. Do you recognise the
same paper today as the one that you launched? Do you read it? I do look
at it. It has been an very depleted resources compared to what it had
when we launched it, but it is still a feisty little paper, it still has
high standards, and it has been very well edited. Its reach on social
media, on Twitter, on the sites, is probably a totally different
audience, but it is very visible online, isn't it? It is, and the
Independent is something like the eighth most read newspaper in the
world, and I think they will put more resources into the online
version. UI divided between saying closing is
not quite staying closing, do you think from the emotional
perspective, your baby has gone now? It has grown-up certainly
transformed into something we couldn't have conceived of 30 years
ago, but I think it will still be there. In some way, the dream lives
on. Stephen Glover, thank you very much, thanks for coming in. Let's
take you through tomorrow's front pages. The Independent has the
theory of relativity proved, going back to those gravitational waves.
The Daily Telegraph has the same picture, and their top story is the
deal that could split the Tories, they said 130 grassroots members
want Cameron he risks the future of the party if he ignores their views.
The Guardian has the doctors vowing to fight on. The Times, Turkey
threatens Europe with millions of migrants, saying tensions mount as
the President of Turkey warns that we are not idiots. They are
expecting another 600,000 people to flee over the border. The Daily Mail
has the flight of the strike doctors, junior doctors threatening
a mass exodus to Australia, and the FT has a day of turmoil as negative
rates strike fear into global markets.
We leave you at Propsman, the propeller specialist
Props to them, forgive us, for apparently inventing what looks
like an authentic 21st century sport.
Good evening. It has been turning pretty cold and frosty across many
parts of the country, particularly the central and northern areas.
Further south, rather more cloud, so not as cold as it was on Thursday
morning. Some bright spells through the day, but also one or two
showers, wintry over higher ground. Some of the snow fit Easter Scotland
right down to lower levels. Brightness across the borders, just
Emily Maitlis looks at the stories behind the day's headlines on health secretary Jeremy Hunt, gravitational waves, General Allen on Syria and Zika. And could the Independent be sold?