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News at Six, so it's goodbye from me, and on BBC One we now
Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: Nursing
shortage ` hospitals across the region recruiting hundreds of
overseas staff to fill posts. The dependency levels of patients have
gone up so much in recent times, and that has really caught us unawares.
We'll be asking the Royal College of Nursing what this means for patient
care. Also tonight: How shoplifting is
pushing up the price of Christmas by ?43 million.
The blight of abandoned homes. How it can devastate lives. They are not
just empty, they are derelict, and a blight communities.
Aerial grace, unbelievable athleticism. We follow the twists
and turns of a sporting world champion from Gloucestershire.
And a stunning photograph taken by one of our viewers, John from
Worcestershire, of a storm brewing across the Malvern Hills. Could we
be facing the same this weekend? Find out later.
Good evening. Hospitals in the region are having to recruit
hundreds of nurses from overseas because of a shortage of qualified,
experienced staff. It comes as the Government imposes new conditions to
ensure there is always a "safe" number of nurses on wards. There'll
be up`to 100 overseas recruits in Shropshire, and 300 in the Black
Country. Most will be paid a typical nursing salary of around ?21,000.
One senior NHS executive says the foreign influx is likely to continue
for several years at least. Ben Godfrey has this exclusive report.
Spain isn't just popular with holiday`makers, you know! Hospital
bosses are booking flights. There's hot competition for nurses. 75 could
be heading for Dudley in the New Year ` and some have already arrived
in Redditch. We actually managed to recruit 16, and the way in which the
Spanish health care works means that nurses don't always get very long
assignments in their own Spanish health care system, so they are
looking for long`term roles. Has the patient being weighed today? Maria
Tan came from further afield. She left the Philippines ten years ago
for a nursing role in Wolverhampton. Today, she's managing a ward. Coming
over to the United Kingdom and working for the NHS is one of the
best decisions I have made in my life, both personally and
professionally. Figures we've obtained from many of the region's
hospitals suggest a new wave of foreign nurses is reaching the
Midlands. New Cross hospitals recruiting locally but say it's not
enough ` so they'll recruit 170 nurses from abroad. The dependency
levels of patients have gone up so much in recent times, and that has
really caught us unawares in terms of the need for more recruitment,
and if we were to increase the commission of nurse training now, it
would take four or five years for that to come through and we cannot
wait that long. So what does this mean for home`grown talent? How are
you feeling now? These students at the University of Wolverhampton are
on three year degrees. The Royal College of Nursing says, across the
UK, more than 3,000 student training places have been axed since 2009.
There is lots more people out there, lots more students who want
to get into the University but get disappointed they do not get picked,
as there are only so many places. It is a shame that we cannot increase
the places. We have had assurances from our local trust partners that
there will be jobs available for all of our students when they complete
their studies. Nursing care has arguably never been under more
scrutiny following the Stafford Hospital scandal. Hospitals are to
be made to publish monthly details of whether they have enough nurses
on wards. So the new recruits are helping maintain safe staffing
levels at least in the short term. It's a mixed picture. Some
hospitals, like the George Eliot and University Hospital Coventry, told
us they're not looking abroad because the pool of talent here is
sufficient. It is obviously necessary now because of winter
pressures, but it wasn't me `` doesn't worry me in the long run.
Despite the difficult headlines, people are queueing up to be nurses.
But they are facing competition from around the world.
And I'm joined now by Paul Vaughn from the Royal College of Nursing.
Good evening. Does it actually matter whether a nurses trained in
Seville or Stourbridge ` as long as patients get good care? That is
exactly what we would say. Right now what we need is the nurses on the
wards in a community delivering the right care. What we need to reassure
the public about is that nurses coming from European countries are
trained to the right level. We have to make sure that when they come
they are inducted properly into the hospital procedures or the community
procedures, and that they have a good command of the English
language. Why is there a shortage of locally trained nurses? We had an
issue number of years ago where one the deans and myself raised, the
decommissioned a number of the nursing places. We saw this
happening across the country, not just in the West Midlands. We keep
getting into this room and bust approach around planning workforce,
and what we need to get better at is planning that workforce better.
How'd you do that? Some of it will be about how we clicked the data
better. With health and education in England now they are working hard to
try to get good data, to try and manage that better and move forward.
As the population gets older, they have more care needed, we need more
people to be doing that care. With saving 20 billion in the NHS by
2015, one of the things a lot of organisations that is frozen nursing
posts. We had big gaps. Isn't part of the problem that it takes three
years for a nurse to graduate because they go through a university
programme, and an interesting part of the report that came after the
problems at Stafford Hospital was for nurses to spend more time on the
wards. Wouldn't that help, act to the shop floor and less time in the
classroom? They already spend 50% of their time on the wards in their
training. I don't think that is so much the issue. We did move to an
all degree profession in the West Midlands. Earlier than other parts
of the country. That is absolutely the right move. We have other
professions trained to degree level, you need people with the right
competence and skill to be able to deliver the complex care we need
delivering. You do need people with those skills. That again is
something that Robert Francis made, one of the recommendations he made
in his report, change of culture? He did, but let's be clear about what
happened at Stafford Hospital. One of the big changes is, there were
not enough nurses. The reviews from all the others coming out now are
all saying the same thing, which is what we have been saying for a
number of years. Thank you very much.
Coming up later in the programme: From blot on the landscape to
des`res. Turning derelict houses back into homes. They need to have
people in them. They have to be lived in. The street looks a mess,
everybody just dumps everything on it.
Just two shopping weeks to Christmas, and that also means two
shoplifting weeks. Thefts cost retailers of course, but customers
pay too ` in higher prices. In the West Midlands that adds up to an
estimated ?43 million over the festive season. It works out at ?16
per shopper on an average Christmas shopping basket. On expensive items,
such as games consoles, the extra cost could be more than ?12. Bob
Hockenhull has been investigating. He might blend into the shop
surroundings easily enough. But that means this customer can brazenly
walk out with a box of lager without paying. And watch closely, as this
man bends down and swiftly removes items of jewellery, throwing them
into a bag with no thought of parting with his cash. West Midlands
Police released the footage today ` with a warning that loan criminals
and organised gangs are targeting the region's shops in the run`up to
Christmas. At the moment we are experiencing a lot of gift sets like
perfume boxes, we suspect it is being stolen to order, and then gets
traded on. It's a crime we're all paying for. Research suggests
shoplifting adds ?16 to the average person's Christmas shopping bill as
stores recoup the cost of theft. But while the big chain stores can
absorb the cost of shoplifting, for small independent traders it is not
so easy. I spike in thefts can even put staff's jobs in jeopardy. This
independent jewellers in Solihull has fallen victim to opportunist
shoplifters in the past. Margins are tighter than they are for the
nationwide superstores. So the repercussions are felt more keenly.
It does make the staff feel nervous. But also just the financial
implications, we don't have anything to absorb it. We are small company,
so we take the hit quite badly. If we don't catch the people who are
stealing it will add to the cost of shopping. At Solihull's Touchwood
Shopping Centre, they're using more store detectives and multiple
cameras to help thwart shoplifting. There was a crew operating
nationally, I believe they came down from Glasgow, they were targeting
shopping centres all over the country and we managed to catch them
here. It shows you the level of security we can implement what we
need to. With an estimated 2 million shoplifting cases in the UK in a
year, such vigilance is certainly needed.
A new report from the education watchdog Ofsted puts Wolverhampton
at the bottom of a league table for primary schools. Just over half the
city's primaries are rated good or better ` that's the lowest
percentage in the country. Walsall also fares badly, but in Solihull,
Sandwell and Birmingham, four out of five primary pupils attend schools
rated good. Wesley Williams was jailed for a
minimum of 29 years today for strangling his ex`partner and her
baby son. The bodies of Yvonne Walsh and seven month old Harrison were
found at their home in Birmingham in June. Williams, a habitual cannabis
user, had previously been in a relationship with Rebecca
Shuttleworth. She was jailed in June for killing her son Keanu Williams.
Photographs of the Queen and her sister Princess Margaret on stage in
pantomime at Windsor Castle have been sold for more than ?3,000. They
were in two scrap books, auctioned in Gloucestershire today. Some of
the pictures were even signed by the young princesses. The final auction
price? ?3,200. Derelict or empty homes can blight
neighbourhoods, driving down property values and becoming targets
for vandalism. Now one council, Walsall, is trying to tackle the
problem head on. It wants to compulsorily purchase some of the
worst, abandoned houses. The reasons why homes end up in such a state can
be complicated ` and even tragic. Joanne Writtle begins her report at
one house, left to decay for a decade.
Tony Cockayne is doing up his childhood home in Walsall. But it's
taken him years to even face it. These slides hold happy memories.
That was me when I was a precociously doughboy, in the back
garden here. `` precocious little boy. His father died 22 years ago.
But when his mother died a decade ago, Tony found visits here
agonising. I came back here but I couldn't touch anything, I think it
was just the emotional ties, I couldn't change anything. But it was
hard to lose your parents and become an orphan. As a result, the house
fell into disrepair. But now Tony is renovating it with the help of a
grant and interest free loan from Walsall Council. No longer a blight
for his neighbours. Before, it was a bit of an eyesore. It was all
boarded up with broken glass and teenagers coming around, so it is
nice to have some work done. Back to what it was. Elsewhere, these are
among six dilapidated houses the council wants to forcibly buy
through compulsory purchase powers. They've been empty for around five
years. The authority will then sell them on. It could be a good
opportunity for first`time buyers in order to take a property on like
this and do the map, particularly somebody who is quite handy, or a
local builder. But it will bring these homes back into use for people
who need a home. It is a shame, it could be a nice house. The street is
a mess, everybody just dumps everything on it. There are 710,000
empty homes nationally. 72,000 of them in the West Midlands. And here
in Walsall, there are 1000, many of them simply empty, others completely
derelict like this one. Meanwhile, Tony is hoping to rent his house
out. It is an opportunity to give somebody a chance of a lovely house.
I wish I'd have done it years ago. Tony was an only child. He plans to
rent out the home he once cherished by Christmas.
This is our top story tonight: Nursing shortage ` hospitals across
the Midlands recruiting hundreds of overseas staff to fill posts.
Your detailed weather forecast to come shortly. Also in tonight's
programme, how this hard working student brings a scientific approach
to mastering a spectacular sport ` he's now world champion.
And from little saplings, charity funds grow. The Christmas tree
planted in a Worcestershire village 35 years ago that's pulling in the
crowds We've reported on this programme about rural crimes
including sheep and castle rustling. But police in Warwickshire are
investigating a case of bee rustling. Thieves made two separate
attempts to steal bee hives from Compton Verney art Gallery. Kevin
Reide has more. In the last six weeks there have
been two attempts to steal Bee hives from the grounds of Compton Verney
art Gallery and Museum. In the first, thieves got away with one of
two hives, but they damaged the second when they tripped on a tree
stump as they tried to flee. They returned four weeks later damaging
it again. They carried it out through the same route, then
stumbled trying to lift it over a wire fence. And so when I arrived on
the scene, there were just broken components of the high lying on the
ground. What is left on the colony `` of the colony is in this high.
The bees cluster around the Queen to keep her temperature up, but with
fewer bees, it is more difficult to do, and that endangers the whole
colony. Bee thefts are rare but with the population of honey bees in
decline their value has gone up. A complete hive is worth around three
hundred pounds, but in this tight knit community it's a mystery as to
who would buy stolen goods. I can only assume it is people who did not
really know anything about beekeeping. But new somebody who
would give them a few pounds for the bees and the equipment. The
remaining hive is now in a safer place, and Warwickshire Police are
investigating. There was very little for them to follow up in the end,
but we have now relocated what is remaining of the hives. We have CCTV
coverage for them. This colony may struggle to survive this winter but
Compton Verney hope they can continue to keep bees for years to
come. Earlier in the programme we were
looking at the problem of derelict homes. Here's an example of one on a
grand scale. A Georgian town house built by the Wedgwood family of
pottery fame is in danger of falling into terminal disrepair. The
Wedgwood Big House is thought to be the oldest surviving example of a
pottery manufacturer's home in the country. But water's getting inside
the listed building, and its owners are blaming the local council.
Here's our Staffordshire reporter Liz Copper.
In the heart of Burslem, the Mother Town of the Potteries, stands the
Wedgwood Big House. Built by the Wedgwood family in 1751, Josiah
Wedgwood was a regular visitor here. And the company he founded was to
become famous worldwide. Inside, the house is a Georgian gem, with many
original features. But water's getting in ` it's already destroyed
floorboards and there are other structural problems. The rear corner
has turned and sunk, and there is a massive crack forming at the side of
it. Unless urgent action is taken, the big house will be lost. When
historic buildings like this are lost, they are lost forever. And the
cause of this rot is thought to be the pavement outside. This picture
from the 1950s shows the contrast with the building today. But on
closer inspection the two pictures show how the pavement on the left
hand side of the building has clearly been raised. The owners of
the building have commissioned several independent reports which
they have shown to us. Each one concludes the root cause of the
problem is the high pavement outside. This report, for example,
which was completed earlier this year, concludes, until the point ``
the pavement is lowered, what will continue to flow into the Bakehouse.
The insurance claim is an ongoing issue, and it is unable to comment
further at this stage. In the meantime, a campaign has begun a
group who want to see urgent action. It is upsetting. It could so easily
have been prevented. Darwin has walked them floorboards. I despair.
It's hoped this building, with its distinguished history could become a
museum. But until the rot is stopped, its future is uncertain.
Kristof Willerton is a hard working 20`year`old biochemistry student. He
excels in a sport in which a scientific approach is a real bonus.
Any mistake could mean a serious injury ` and the margin of error is
split seconds and fractions of an inch. Our reporter Alistair Durden
has been talking to Gloucester's world champion in "tumbling" ` an
altogether inadequate word to describe what he does.
They call it the 100 metres sprint of gymnastics ` but you dont see
Usain Bolt doing flips and twists like this. Kristof Willerton has
been tumbling since he was ten. He's broken his foot three times and also
his arm. He tried other gymnastic disciplines, but nothing to beat the
thrill of this. A lot of it is being a bit of a daredevil, I think. If
you have got an ability to throw yourself without questioning it,
that makes you a good tumbler. You get a lot of adrenaline because you
have to throw yourself across the room, so it is a lot of fun. There
has never been another Kristof Willerton. He just knows where he is
at all times, he knows where the floor is instinctively without being
told or tort. Kristof is a full`time student at Oxford University, in the
third year of a biochemistry degree. It means spending time in lectures
and the lab during the day, then travelling nearly two hours to
training five days a week. But the two sides of his life compliment
each other well. In gymnastics, there is a tiny margin of error, if
you make a small mistake, that changes the result completely. It is
the same with biochemistry. You have the pressure of doing results well,
and if you make a small mistake there, you can ruin weeks of
results. I think that is white I like driving off the pressure. ``
that is why I like driving off the pressure. He's been national
champion for the last four years, and has just become the first
British man to win the World Title in Bulagria, winning gold by the
narrowest of margins. Going into it, I knew I had to do a perfect run,
and I was very happy because I thought I had possibly gotten the
silver, and just getting the gold was a great relief. Tumbling was an
olympic sport back in 1932 but hasn't featured since. It means
Kristof wont get to compete at Rio in 2016, but he says he'd love to
coach gymnastics when his own career has taken its final twist.
Don't try that at home. In 1978, a couple planted a small Christmas
tree in their Worcestershire front garden. 35 years later and the tree
is now 45 feet tall. Decorating it is quite a job. Hundreds of people
travel to see it and help raise thousands of pounds for charity, as
Ben Sidwell's been finding out. In the Worcestershire village of
Inkberrow, Christmas doesn't officially begin until the lights on
a certain tree are switched on. Five, four, three, two, one.
Somebody said to me it is one of the highlights of Christmas, I always
look forward to it, which is a lovely thing to say. Standing at a
towering 45 feet tall, this isn't actually the village's official
Christmas tree. In fact it's privately owned and sits in the
garden of Avril and Chris Rowlands' house. People start asking us in
August whether we're going to put the lights on our tree. And when
Chris had his heart attack, as I went round the village, people were
saying to me, how is Chris? He is going to be able to do the tree,
isn't he? When they first bought the tree it was just four feet tall and
took six lights. 35 years later, there is 1050 on it. Taking more
than eight hours to decorate. With the tree's help, Avril and Chris
have raised thousands of pounds for charity. This year over two hundred
people gathered in their front garden to see the big switch on. I
have been wanting to come to the putting it on the lights ever since
I have known them. The tree is huge, so that is a number of years.
Finally this year I was free to come along, and Christmas has started. It
is wonderful. It looks amazing. It is a whole village event, and the
village is so supportive for something so worthwhile. Having
become such a Christmas tradition in the village, Avril and Chris know
they have to keep lighting their tree. I think, if we decided we
became too old and a crepe it and we couldn't do it, we would have to
move. And possibly if we sold the house, the other people would have
two keep lighting it. The tree is free to view, but all donations this
year will go to Acorns Hospice. And we'd like to hear from you if
your home or your street is bringing an extra sparkle to Christmas this
year. Is your house the most festively festooned in the Midlands?
We'd love to hear from you so do drop us a line. All very festive
apart from the weather? It is far too mild this week. We
have got a few changes ahead over the next few days, mainly to do with
rain and also strengthening winds. Nothing to do with the temperatures.
Temperatures could rise slightly. The rain will be produced by two
fronts, coming through for tomorrow and Friday. The second of these
fronts is going to be more active, low pressure will have more of a
pool on it, rolling across the North, so Sunday is when we see rain
and also strengthening winds. Those tightly packed isobars wrapped
around it, responsible for the wind strengthening. Back to tonight, and
this evening and tonight, we start off with clear skies, and jeering
this time we can see is dense patches of fog developing. More
particularly towards the western fringes on the border with Wales.
The fog will lift and disperse into low cloud. Lows of around three or
four Celsius tonight, not too bad. No frost tonight. `` fog is going to
be less of a problem tonight. A dull start the day, dry initially, but we
will start to see developing through the afternoon. This is only going to
be liked and patchy to begin with. Temperatures very mild tomorrow, ten
or 11 Celsius, with a light or moderate south`westerly wind.
Tomorrow evening and night, as rain becomes heavier, those temperatures
will drop only by a degree or two, marginally cooler than the day. Lows
of around eight to 10 Celsius tomorrow night, very balmy and not
bad at all apart from the rain. The winds will be strengthening slightly
as we head into Friday. Very mild once again, highs of 11 to 12
Celsius. Tonight's headlines from the BBC: A
record fine for Lloyds ` ?28 million for putting staff under too much
pressure to sell financial products. Nursing shortage ` hospitals across
the region recruiting hundreds of overseas staff to fill posts.
Finally tonight, More than 700 people turned out to help break a
world record in Birmingham today. They were taking part in an attempt
on the record for the longest Christmas cracker pulling chain. It
had stood at 603, but 749 people pulled crackers in Brindley Place
today. The organisers are now waiting for official confirmation
that they've broken the Guinness World Record. And that is an awful
lot of very bad jokes. That was the Midlands Today. I'll be
back at 10pm with more on the increase in