TOMORROW, London ambulance staff are set to go on strike for the second time since December. Accordingly, the plea from the head of the London Ambulance Service, Daniel Elkeles, is that we should only call an ambulance in a “life or limb-threatening emergency”. That is sensible advice. Indeed, most of us would not think of calling an ambulance except in an emergency. Mr Elkeles is not suggesting that elderly people who have a fall or a cyclist who has an accident should somehow get to hospital by taxi. There will be fewer ambulances and we must be responsible in calling them out.
Ambulance drivers and paramedics have some of the most challenging roles within the health service. They deal with people in the worst circumstances and often in acute pain, they sometimes are abused when they turn up to the scene of an emergency, they are not well paid given the demands of their job and they worked tirelessly during the pandemic.
They and nurses have the greatest sympathy from the public for their pay demands, far ahead of other striking public sector workers. It is reasonable to say that a significant pay settlement for these two groups would not be perceived as setting a precedent for everyone else. And in fact the Government has made some progress in the talks between the unions and Health Secretary Steve Barclay, particularly the possibility that a one-off payment may address the immediate crisis.
Given the sensitivity of the situation, it is unwise for the Government to introduce legislation requiring unions to provide minimum service levels during strikes. Far better to concentrate on the talks now underway to resolve the current dispute and to put the pay of paramedics and nurses onto a rational footing in the long term.
At present, the misogynist online influencer Andrew Tate is in Romania, with the possibility of facing serious charges relating to sexual offences. Yet this man — who expresses vile and dangerous views about women and girls — is sufficiently popular among young boys to warrant schools taking his corrupting influence seriously.
A number of London schools, including St Dunstan’s in Catford, have organised classes to try to inoculate their pupils against his online presence, where he denigrates girls and celebrates moneymaking. The environmentalist Greta Thunberg mocked him effectively online, but teachers are right to deal with this obnoxious individual by asking pupils whether they really would wish their mothers or sisters to be treated as he suggests. It is tempting to ignore malign influencers such as he, but some must be challenged. Andrew Tate is a case in point.
Tate and his lawyer deny any criminal allegations against him.
Cosmic Girl descends
What goes up must come down and so it proved with Cosmic Girl, the rocket carrier which took off to enormous fanfare yesterday only to suffer an “anomaly” which meant the first satellite mission from UK soil came down to earth. Our dreams of becoming a world leader in space are on hold. Perhaps now we can get the trains running instead.