Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

‘Well-oiled machine’: how Brexit disruption could hit medicine supplies

Pharmacists say minor delays at ports could have knock-on effects in lean supply chain

Few of the recipients of the millions of prescriptions dispensed every day across Britain are likely to give much thought to the system that ensures that everything from painkillers to niche medicines are available. Beyond the pharmacist’s counter, however, lies a network spanning national borders andcontinents and involving multiple supply chains.

“It all works so smoothly because of the incentives and obligations that are in place,” said one industry insider. “What will be really interesting to see is what happens when it comes under pressure.”

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Stockpiling insulin for no-deal: ‘If I run out, I have no idea what to do’

A man with diabetes explains why he has a fridge full of medicine in case of a hard Brexit

James Robson (not his real name), 44, has type 1 diabetes and since his teens has relied on medication from the NHS: a fast-acting insulin that he takes three times a day, a slow-acting one to work overnight, and multiple other drugs to help with his condition.

Four months ago, he began to stockpile his medication, ordering twice the amount he needs from the pharmacist. “The reason I started was the fear of a no-deal Brexit and the possibility of shortages in medicine,” he says.

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‘Back in 2019, Britain was much larger’: what the history books will say | Jack Bernhardt

Using the latest technology, I’ve got my hands on a textbook from the year 2070. And it isn’t very complimentary

It’s always odd when politicians make an appeal to “the history books” – it’s like an actor making an appeal to reviewers midway through the film. But it took on a new surreal meaning on Monday, when Theresa May asked us to consider what the history books would say about the vote on her deal.

It takes truly great commitment to your own mediocrity to sort through a catalogue of your own mistakes, find the largest and most avoidable, and then tell the gods of history that yep, this national humiliation is the way you want future generations to remember you. It’s like calling up the Oxford English Dictionary and requesting that “to cock something up irrevocably, to the point that people feel a pang of despair when they hear your name” be for ever known as “doing a Theresa”.

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Think Whitehall will help get us through Brexit? Think again | Jane Dudman

Constant civil service churn costs an estimated £74m a year in lost expertise, just when politicians need support and stability

UK politicians aren’t looking so good these days, what with the Westminster apocalypse over Brexit. So you might hope that in the background, the UK’s legendarily smooth civil service machine is at work: keeping the country ticking over, holding ministers’ hands, ensuring benefits get paid on time, that sort of thing.

Related: Brexit: not just a political shambles, but a disaster for all public policy | Richard Vize

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Some 57% of Swiss are middle-class

Around 57% of the Swiss population are middle-class, according to the Federal Statistical Office. This figure has remained relatively stable since 2000.  “Having briefly increased in 2009 [to 61.3%], the percentage of the middle-class dropped in 2013 [to 56.8%],” the office said on Thursday. “After a slight increase in 2015, the percentage stabilised at 57.5% in 2016, the same level as 2014.”  Wages are the main factor when deciding whether someone middle-class. People living in a household with a gross income of 70%-150% of the median income are classified as middle-class. Median income is the amount that divides income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount and half below.  In Switzerland, this equates for a single person to CHF3,930-CHF8,427 ($3,960-$8,500) a month. For a couple with two children under the age of 14, it means CHF8,253-CHF17,685.

Theresa May will need more than warm words to revive left-behind Britain | Peter Hetherington

A pledge to help disenfranchised, leave-voting areas will mean nothing without more funds and a department for the regions

City versus town? It might seem a facile debate in a small country where the interests of both should be aligned. What’s the difference, apart from size? Quite a lot, actually. For the past few decades, lobbying by a group of large cities has placed big population centres at the forefront of what remains of urban policy. Larger cities were seen as the engines of growth, portrayed as the economic saviours for surrounding communities. A contestable point, certainly. But these cities found a welcoming ear in government.

The government responded with devolution deals to create combined authorities, led by mayors, in six city-regions, including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Merseyside. But Theresa May went cool on the idea, instead preferring to reinvigorate “Brexit Britain”: those places which voted leave in June 2016. The PM even popped into a village up the hill from my Tyneside home to reassure the north (62 of the 73 local authority areas in northern England voted leave) that she was determined to deliver equity across the country: “It is my mission to make sure that ... no community is left behind as we plan both our domestic agenda and our Brexit strategy,” she said.

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Brits in Switzerland wonder about their rights amid Brexit countdown

Can British citizens in Switzerland feel reassured about their post-Brexit situation following a complicated deal between Switzerland and the UK? Embassy officials are working to clarify the situation, but several issues remain unresolved.  A separation deal between Switzerland and the UK, agreed in December, is said to “broadly” protect the existing rights of UK citizens living in Switzerland, and vice versa, after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union on March 29. The agreement – which will apply even if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal – also takes into account some 2,600 British cross-border workers who commute into Switzerland from neighbouring countries (they will still have to comply with residency rules in the country where they live). Jane Owen, the British ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, spoke to swissinfo.ch ahead of a series of “roadshow” events being held across Switzerland to answer Brits’ questions about Brexit. She discussed what ...
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