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soon. That is all from the BBC News at Six, goodbye from me. On
The power of the written word. How one stranger's letters are judging
the lives of people around the world. There has been a springlike
filter today, and with more sunny spells on the way tomorrow, you
would be forgiven for thinking things are on the up. But the wintry
weather is backed by the end of the week.
Good evening. The Mid`Staffordshire NHS Trust will be dissolved `
Stafford and Cannock hospitals will now be run by other trusts. The end
comes following concerns over the standard of care and financial
problems at the Mid Staffs Trust. In April 2012, the Trust revealed it
had a deficit of ?16.5 million. A year later, the trust was declared
insolvent, and administrators were appointed to look at its future.
Last December, the Trust Special Administrators recommended
downgrading services. But today it was announced that Stafford could
still retain consultant`led maternity services ` if an NHS
England review finds it's feasible. Our health correspondent Michele
Paduano reports. At the moment premature babies under
34 weeks have to be born in Stoke on Trent. Then was three lbs. Eight
oz.. His parents praised Stafford Hospital's maternity unit. We have
not got a bad word to say about them. All the negative press, we
cannot do anything but praise them. They are also gearing up to open 12
more beds at Stafford, but then Prime Minister `` the Prime Minister
dropped a bomb cell. What is being proposed are steps to make sure that
A continues at Stafford Hospital. And make sure that we can continue
with consultant led maternity services.
For protesters gathered opposite Stafford Hospital was a cautious
welcome. It is talking about the future. I think we need to wait and
see what happens. If it does happen, absolutely great. The devil is in
the detail. We have now got the statement, we will work with it to
make sure we have a debate and discussion about whether or not
obstetric labour maternity is possible, but it may not be.
Cannock hospital will still be taken over by Wolverhampton hospitals.
There was no reprieve for children's services.
23 years of working on the children's Ward, it is heartbreaking
to think there will no longer be a paediatric ward at Stafford. There
have been two demonstrations, the largest 50,000, and there is no
doubt the majority at Stafford still want all the services.
I have had experience at all the departments, so I would like it to
stay as it is. It is not good. The fact it is going to be passed over
to new ownership almost, so quite disappointed really.
It is not yet clear what the announcement on maternity really
means. What is clear is that campaigners `` politicians get
nervous around hospitals. Today marks the end of an
organisation so inextricably linked with bad care, but not the end of
the Stafford story. Let's talk now to the Conservative
MP for Stafford, Jeremy Lefroy, who's in Westminster for us. Mr
Lefroy ` do you not feel that on the day that such a significant decision
has been made by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt and the
Department of Health, that their refusal to be interviewed about this
decision is unacceptable? I cannot speak for them, but I am
being interviewed here because I think it is an extremely important
day for Stafford. We heard the announcement by the Prime Minister,
which I welcomed, because in my view and in the view of those who support
Stafford Hospital, alongside the children's paediatric services are
absolutely vital. I had feared that all that would happen would be a
rubber`stamping of the proposals which were not acceptable. Will you
be speaking to Mr Hunt about this? I have spoken to him already on
several occasions in the last few days, but the key now is to continue
to make the case for these consultant led maternity services,
with the other services that paediatric services, that go
alongside them. We have been given are of hope on this. One year ago we
were faced with a downgrade with removal of acute services, or
maternity services and many others. Those have not by and large gone.
90% or more of patients currently treated at Stafford and Cannock will
continue to be treated there, but this consultant led maternity issue
is extremely important. We have more than 2000 babies born per year, they
have been given excellent service, continue to begin an excellent
service there, and it is vital that this service remains available to
the people of Stafford and further afield. Campaigners say they will
keep fighting for services at Stafford. Is it time for them to
move on? The Prime Minister has said he wants to see as far as possible
consultant led services, so this is the case we have got to make. I
don't think it is time to move on, I think it is time to say the trust is
dissolved, Stafford and Stoke will work together in what I am hope will
`` I hope will become an excellent University Hospital trust. But we
have to fight for those consultant led services.
Coming up later in the programme: We're at Shropshire's first ever
house swap, as people look to move up and down the property ladder.
A campaign has been launched to educate parents about the need for
children to use booster seats in cars. The idea came from a West
Midlands firefighter who says he's met a shockingly high number of
pupils who claim they don't even wear seat belts. The latest
Government figures show that 56 child passengers were killed in the
UK in 2012, a 4% increase on the previous year. And nearly 11,000
more were injured. Ben Godfrey reports. Hands up anyone who has
ridden in a car without putting a seat belt on. It is not a good
reaction, but no surprise to West Midlands firefighter Jeremy Lefroy,
Ash Mike pence a macro, who wants pupil `` Darran Gough, who wants
pupils to educate their parents about road safety. A colleague's son
was killed in a crash because he put the belt under his arm.
Darren believes `` Darran believes if these children can walk through
this hole in a cut`out Range Rover without ducking, they should still
be using a child or booster seat. If you didn't have one, you could be
in serious consequences and you could die, but if you have got a
belt, you have better chances of surviving.
Children under 1.35m tall or younger than 12 are required by law to sit
in a booster seat. So are parents listening? The oldest one's 12 but
he is nearly as tall as me so it can be a bit conflicting, but generally
I think they should have booster seats. In our car we have the child
seats and also seat belts. Here at MIRA near Nuneaton, Tony
Payne has the job of preparing test dummies for crashes. Take a
six`year`old child, this is how it shouldn't be done. We buckle him up
there. Because he is sitting lower than the seat, this belt is
automatically riding up across his abdomen. It is now lying across his
neck and face. There are other potential injuries to those areas as
well. The impact of a crash can be
devastating ` car seats do save lives.
All child seats today are fitted with a system which attaches the car
seat rigidly to the car itself. You also have side impact bars for
safety. But this seat is only really safe if the driver is following the
instructions carefully. The campaign is all about pester
power ` can children convince their parents to do more to protect them
on our roads? A mother, her lover and his wife have all been sentenced
for conspiring to cover up the death of a commentary toddler who died
from head injuries. Police say they have been shocked at the way adults
threaten to cover up the events. The three`year`old was captured on CCTV
in November 2011, minutes before paramedics work call. `` before
paramedics were called. Members of the Unite union have been
protesting over plans to hand over the running of Nuneaton's George
Eliot Hospital to the private sector. Two companies and an NHS
Trust are currently bidding to take on the role. The hospital has a
history of high death rates, but has substantially improved over the last
year. A thousand tenants in Shropshire
have been invited to swap their homes with each other. People deemed
to be living in under occupied or overcrowded homes came together to
see if it would be beneficial to move into each other's properties.
It's seen as a way of helping householders to avoid paying the
bedroom tax and reduce a shortage of social housing. Here's Bob
Hockenhull. There are 15,000 properties are available to rent in
Shropshire Council's area, but many tenants feel they are not living in
the right accommodation. Elizabeth spent a year is trying to
get off and estate she did not like in Oswestry. Now she has finally got
a two`bedroom real property for her son and herself. I had been in tears
egging them to move me, but their hands were tied. The structure of
the system meant you had to have so many qualifying positions to be able
to move. Tenants like Elizabeth living in
properties too big or too small met at this event. It is a kind of speed
dating, where they are hoping to be matched up with somebody else's
home. We want to put people in touch with, I have an three`bedroom house,
if you are looking for it and I have something `` you have something I am
looking for, we will swap. The Johnsons have outgrown their
house and want something smaller. If people are struggling with one
bedroom or two`bedroom, probably they could do with an upgrade. We
are prepared to downsize. There was no shortage of potential
swap partners wanted to upgrade their properties. It is very, very
small, and the boys' bedrooms are quite small for the two of them.
Swapping houses could be a good way for some people to avoid the
so`called bedroom tax. If they have got one extra bedroom, they face a
14% cut in housing benefit, and with two extra bedrooms it is a 25%
reduction. The house swap event moves to Bridgnorth tomorrow.
This is our top story tonight. The final verdict ` the Government
announces it's to dissolve the Mid`Staffordshire NHS Trust for
being financially unsustainable. Your detailed weather forecast to
come shortly from Beccy ` also in tonight's programme: The next
generation of Winter Olympics hopefuls, perhaps?
We meet the youngsters competing in a skating contest inspired by this
year's Games. And the power of the written word `
how one stranger's letters are helping to boost the morale of
people worldwide. Manufacturing in the Midlands
suffered more than anywhere else in recent years when many firms
relocated overseas. Tens of thousands of jobs disappeared in
this region. It will be a very different sort of
programme. To illustrate the ministers of manufacturing, we have
gathered together over 100 different objects made here in the Midlands.
What happens in our region is predicted to have a major impact on
the national economic recovery. But it is not just about motors, we also
make flooring, food and even food all seats. Tomorrow evening we will
be talking to industry leaders and a master brewer. `` football seats.
If you want to find out more about what is made in the Midlands Today,
join Nick Allen and me at half past six tomorrow. `` Nick when.
`` Nick Owen. As part of our First World War
commemorations, the BBC has teamed up with the Imperial War Museums to
tell the story of the War at Home. Today we focus on one of the most
heartbreaking stories of the Home Front. Scenes of horror unfolded as
a group of children, many of whom had relatives fighting on the front,
took to the stage for a fundraising show. Cath Mackie takes up the
story. It's April 1916. For the last 20
months, the world has been at war. In Hereford, a group of children
whose fathers and brothers are fighting stage a fund raising show
at the Garrick Theatre to send presents to the front. They decided
to stage a winter wonderland, and what a grand event it was. There
were ice maidens, Eskimos and they were all dressed in little cotton
wool costumes. But the laughter and applause soon died out, as a
nightmare unfolded on stage. The laughter stopped. The curtains came
down and there was a shout of fire from somebody at the back. Bender
was a piercing shriek from one of the little girls, `` then there was.
The flames had caught fire from her costume onto those of the other
children. The theatre had actually staged a real`life drama of horrific
proportions. Six girls died on stage in front of
their families and friends. They were aged from five to 13. Two more
girls later died in hospital. There's a heartbreaking account here
of the children's clothes going up in flames, and it says, "so
unexpected, so sudden and so awful was the outbreak, that older people
were temporarily paralysed as by a hideous nightmare." It's just awful.
And yet it's a story that's largely forgotten. The only visible reminder
is a plaque on the side of a car park where the theatre once stood.
But there are calls for those forgotten children are to be
remembered. Dance teacher Rebecca White is planning a performance in
their memory. That legacy still stands through now, we do lots of
performances for charities and four soldiers. It is devastating that
children died in front of their families. `` and four soldiers.
Where do we think the graves might be? Probably in the far corner.
Thousands lined the streets for the girls' funerals, but sadly we could
not find their graves. Their whereabouts on the street, much like
the cause of the fire. The inquiry found no fault at the theatre. There
had been claimed that somebody had seen a man a cigarette burn, but
this was never substantiated. One can only imagine the despair
with which the news was greeted by the Herefordshire men caught up in
the fighting. `` had seen a man throw a cigarette down.
The horror of War had reached home ` and claimed eight more victims.
And you can read more about the First World War and how it changed
the lives of people left at home on our website, that's bbc.co.uk/ww1.
The Bromsgrove cyclist Jess Varnish will attempt to wipe out memories of
her Olympic disappointment by winning a world title in Colombia
tonight. Varnish and team`mate Victoria Pendleton were disqualified
from the sprint at the 2012 Games. A back injury has severely disrupted
her career since. But Varnish returns to the event with new
partner Becky James this evening. It is hard not to compare yourself to
other people, but you have to go out there and race against these girls
every day and every competition, you have to beat them, and every scalp
you take is good. This year has gone well, but obviously the world
Championships is the one you want. I want my own brain by just Mac I want
my own rainbow jersey `` I want my own rainbow jersey.
Thirty years ago, Torvill and Dean won gold at the Winter Olympics in
Sarajevo. Their brilliant Bolero inspired a generation to get their
skates on and have a go for themselves. This week at the Telford
Ice Rink, that passion is still very much alive for 300 youngsters, as
Ian Winter reports. It is day one of competition, and
everything has to be perfect. The skaters warm and supple, and is all
important lucky charms simply bursting with good fortune. `` those
all important lucky charms. Young skaters are superstitious and
always on the look out for that extra special something to give them
the edge. What is the most difficult thing you
have done? My most difficult thing was a leap, I have to jump a
full`time, but I never get round. No point in choosing something too
difficult if they cannot do it. This time last week Liz was judging the
Olympic figure skaters in Sochi. This week she is in Telford to cast
an eye over the next generation of young talent. It is nice to get back
to normality, Sochi was wonderful but with `` I like to see the
youngsters. I like to see where that progression will be towards the top.
It won four medals in Sochi but none in figure skating. Perhaps over the
next couple of days in Telford there is a future Olympic champion waiting
in the wings. `` Britain won four medals.
Over the next couple of days, 300 young skaters from all over the
country will be showing off their talent. All sharing the same dream
that one day they will be sweeping up the ice.
`` sweeping up the floral tributes on the ice.
A year ago Jodie Ann Bickley came close to committing suicide, but
then an idea to open up her e`mail inbox to the world saved her. Our
arts reporter Satnam Rana been to meet the 25`year`old performance
poet, who's become a letter writer to strangers.
This is Jodie Ann Bickley's 1,580th letter to a stranger. You have come
so far. Look back down the mountain at how far you have become.
The journey to her letter writing project began in 2011. She was
performing slam poetry at Camp Bestival on the Isle of Wight. On
her trip, she was bitten by a tick. She caught encephalitis, a brain
infection which led to a stroke. She was then diagnosed with chronic
fatigue syndrome ` ME ` and she suffers with regular fits. Last year
she hit an all`time low. If I am feeling like this, there will be
some other people but are feeling like they are at the bottom of the
abyss, and they are trying to get out. I thought if I can help some
other people get out, then it will give me a bit of a reason.
So she set up a website, onemillionlovelyletters.com,
inviting people to nominate a friend who would like to receive a letter a
from her. Within three months of setting up
the website this time last year, she had received 50,000 views from 150
countries. And a request for 750 letters.
Amongst them, Phil Maguire, a postgraduate student from
Huddersfield in Yorkshire. I was very demotivated and down, and since
I got but let it started a whole thought process about what I really
want to be doing, and it helps me put in motion what I needed to do to
be where I am today, which is a good place.
And this appreciation is echoed on Jodi's walls, adorned with thank you
notes. Some of them are featured in her debut memoir One Million Lovely
Letters. But with 1,500 requests for letters in her inbox, the writing
will continue. There is no weakness in asking for a little help. The
storm clouds are a lot more bearable when we have someone to walk in them
with. I hope I can get to write to more people across the world.
I just want to be able to help as many people as I can, and hopefully
do it for ever, which would be lovely.
We wish her good luck with her letter writing.
It has been very springlike today. Normal service is resumed tonight, a
wet and windy night to come, but it looks better tomorrow. Some good
spells of sunshine to come through the morning, but more in the way of
showers through the afternoon. Tonight we have got a clear, dry end
to the day but temperatures are going to fall away under those
skies, but cloud starts to build ahead of this next band of rain
which is working its way through. Five to ten millimetres of rainfall
was a ball. It will clear away eventually as we head into tomorrow
morning, but temperatures are not going to fall away too far. We start
tomorrow with that rain clearing away eventually. Some good spells of
sunshine to come, a pleasant start of the day. A breezy day than we
have seen today, but then we see showers filling in through the
afternoon. At times they will be quite blustery, but temperatures
ranging between eight and 10 Celsius. But it is too good to last
because as we had through tomorrow evening those showers continuing to
push through ahead of the next weather system. A deep area of low
pressure once again. Some heavy rain to come at times, it could be a
touch wintry bats well particularly over high ground. `` a touch wintry
as well. Friday morning, the Met Office has issued an early weather
warning. Of higher ground they will be more like snow, but on lower
levels like sleep. `` over higher ground. `` on lower levels it will
be more like sleep. `` sleet.
Let's go back to our top story tonight, the news that the
Mid`Staffordshire NHS Trust will be dissolved.
`` sleet. Let's go back to our Our health
correspondent Michele Paduano has spent the day in the town gathering
reaction. So Michele, does this decision today really draw a line in
the sand for the hospitals, and what happens next?
This is certainly the end of the Mid`Staffordshire trust, which has
become synonymous with bad care around the world. People would know
Stafford everywhere and know that it had this relationship with poor
care, but the process goes on. From today they will have to divide up
hospital between Stoke on Trent and Wolverhampton hospitals. That
process may take until as early as July, maybe as late as October. We
don't know. Is it the end of the campaign? Now, the Secretary of
State for health and the Prime Minister today through the
campaigners a crumb, a line of hope that they might be able to get
consultant led services back here. And today the Care Quality
Commission are again looking at elderly care, so it is the end of an
era, but sadly not the end of the tunnel for this hospital.
That was the Midlands Today. I'll be back at ten o'clock, where I'll be
looking at what the future holds for Stafford Hospital and the impact it
will have on people living there. Have a great evening. Goodbye.