Thursday morning UK news briefing: Face-to-face GP appointments overhaul
When did you last get a face-to-face appointment with your doctor? With the number of in-person GP consultations having fallen dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic, an NHS drive to increase patient access is being announced today.
DVLA strike threat could worsen lorry driver crisis
Britain’s supply chain headache could get bigger. The critical shortage of HGV drivers is likely to get worse after new strike action was threatened at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. The Road Haulage Association warned that possible industrial action “could not come at a worse time”, aggravating the driver shortage that has led to empty supermarket shelves and a fuel crisis. The DVLA is working through a backlog of a reported 50,000 vocational driving licences that stretches back more than two months. As Chief Reporter Robert Mendick explains, the Public and Commercial Services union at the government agency’s Swansea offices will vote in the coming weeks on industrial action over fears that staff working in its offices are at risk of Covid.
Meanwhile, Christmas sales are to be brought forward by up to a month after supermarkets and retailers held talks with the Government to avoid empty shelves in December. Supermarket bosses are believed to have told officials they plan to begin promotions early to prevent last-minute demand. One retail chief said it was a “prudent step” to spread out sales amid a chronic shortage of drivers and port congestion.
Prince William unimpressed by Shatner’s rocket trip
The Duke of Cambridge has offered a damning indictment of space tourism, warning that the “world’s greatest brains” should be focused on repairing the planet rather than “trying to find the next place to go and live”. His comments came as a jubilant William Shatner, 90, stepped out of a rocket in a Texas desert having become the oldest human to reach space. Read how the Duke was apparently less than dazzled.
Daily dose of Matt
Today’s cartoon | View Matt‘s latest cartoon as he takes a tongue-in-cheek look at how Christmas could be different this year.
At least five people were killed and others injured after a man launched a bow and arrow attack in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg. Officers arrested the suspect. As Marcus Parekh reports, police will investigate if it was an act of terrorism. View our daily gallery of world images.
Joe Root is to enter the Indian Premier League auction next year in an attempt to boost his T20 World Cup hopes. England’s Test captain has not played a T20 international since 2019, largely because selectors have chosen to manage his workload. But with the IPL expanded from eight teams to 10 next year, he could be an attractive option for franchises.
Let the train take the strain | It is often said that there is no more relaxing form of travel than rail – and no better way to enjoy the beauties and sights of a country than through a carriage window. Anthony Lambert rounds up the UK’s best railway journeys for scenic views.
And finally… for this morning’s downtime
Brown Sugar’s tortured history | Is it about “the horrors of slavery”, hard drugs, or a girl? Whatever the case, the Rolling Stones might never play their controversial hit again. Ed Power investigates why they are cancelling their own song.