Thursday News Review

Universities hit by cuts

English universities face a funding cut of 12% before the arrangements for tuition fees are changed. The chief executive of funding body Hefce, Sir Alan Langlands, described the reduction in spending as a “challenging settlement”. The cut includes an average 4% decrease in ‘recurrent grants’ for teaching and research, as well as capital spending cuts. Funding could also be hit by new visa restrictions on foreign students coming to study here.  The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee warns that raising the required standard of English for students could “cripple” the university sector. Universities Minister David Willetts said new funding arrangement would support “a more diverse sector” in which “the choices of informed students provide a drive towards high quality teaching and efficient use of resources”. The 1994 Group, which includes 19 of the UK’s leading research intensive universities, said the cut to capital funding poses a long-term threat to institutions. – Politics Home

Opposition to health reform grows

Hospitals will shut, others will lose their accident and emergency or maternity units, and some will be downgraded to glorified health centres because of the government’s NHS shakeup, the head of England’s leading hospitals has warned.  Sue Slipman, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network, told the Guardian that handing GPs control of £80bn of NHS funds, letting private healthcare firms provide treatment and giving patients more choice about where they are treated – key policies promoted by the health secretary,Andrew Lansley – would increase existing pressures on hospitals so much that some will not survive. “There will be some ‘shut’ signs; I suspect there will be some closures. There will be fewer A&E departments and in urban centres there may well be fewer maternity units,” said Slipman, who predicted unprecedented changes to hospitals over the next few years. Cities, especially London, will experience the greatest loss of hospital facilities, she believes, while local hospitals in rural areas are more likely to continue to offer a traditional wide range of medical services. – the Guardian

The Prime Minister insisted the Government was “abolishing bureaucracy” in the health service and had ruled out price competition and the “cherry-picking” of services by private providers. But he failed to answer Ed Miliband’s questions in the Commons as to whether or not the controversial Health and Social Care Bill would be altered further after it was condemned by Liberal Democrat activists. Three backbench Conservatives and five Lib Dems have now signed amendments calling for the Government to listen to the concerns of health experts. Mr Cameron also dismissed the powerful doctors’ lobby, the British Medical Association, as just another trade union supported by Labour, after its delegates called on the bill to be withdrawn at a crisis meeting on Tuesday. At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, the Labour leader, Mr Miliband, devoted all of his questions to the planned reorganisation that will see two tiers of NHS management scrapped and GPs forced to consider any private or public provider when buying treatment for patients. – the Telegraph

Tessa Jowell issues claim against the Met

A complaint against the Metropolitan Police was filed by Jowell, a Labour party member of Parliament, in London yesterday, according to court records. The suit is seeking information obtained during police investigations that suggest her phone was hacked, said the people, who declined to be identified because the claim isn’t public. News Corp. (NWSA)’s News of the World newspaper has been sued by more than half a dozen celebrities, including actress Sienna Miller, over claims that journalists or investigators accessed their voicemail messages for stories. While most figures have sued News of the World and later asked police for information, Jowell filed her complaint directly against the Met. Jowell, reached on her mobile phone today, said the filing “speaks for itself” and declined to comment further. Metropolitan Police spokesman Richard Jones confirmed in a telephone interview that Jowell has issued a claim without commenting on the subject of the suit. News of the World spokeswoman Hayley Barlow also declined to comment. – Bloomberg

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