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Poaching doctors from abroad is unethical | Letters

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As you report (8 June), the UK is importing an ever-increasing number of doctors from abroad to plug staffing gaps in the NHS. The majority come from low-income countries where they are desperately needed. This ongoing practice raises serious moral and ethical questions.

Guidance is enshrined in the World Health Organization code of practice, which states that “member states should discourage active recruitment of health professionals from developing countries facing critical shortages of health workers”.

In 2021, 63% of new registrants with the General Medical Council qualified abroad. There were 7,377 British graduates, 2,591 from European Economic Area countries and 10,009 international medical graduates, almost all from low-income countries outside Europe.

This is because successive UK governments have realised that it is cheaper to import doctors than to train our own. Medical school places in the UK are strictly limited by cost, to the detriment of thousands of aspiring students.

Between 2016 and 2021, the GMC imported 53,296 doctors from abroad, but no data has been published on their destination. Are they working in the NHS, in the private sector, not working, or have they used their GMC registration to transfer abroad? That audit must be done.

We must train more doctors in the UK as a matter of urgency. Poaching doctors from abroad on this scale is not in the best interests of the NHS or the donor countries.
J Meirion Thomas
Consultant surgeon

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Biohacking and the quest for eternal life | Health

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I rarely feel so vexed by Guardian opinion pieces as I was by the recent column by Gaby Hinsliff (Who wants to live to 100 on a diet of lentil and broccoli slurry? Mostly rich men, 26 November). Her disdain for rich men (not vexing) seemed conflated with disdain for various health practices which, with slightly altered wording, could be described as perfectly reasonable.

For example, a breakfast of a “blended green slurry of lentils, broccoli and mushrooms” could easily be rewritten as a “delicious spiced lentil stew”. And why is someone who is “religious about his sleep” denigrated for it? If more people prioritised it, health outcomes would improve, easing the strain on health services.

Instead of asking “Who wants to live for ever?”, Hinsliff could just as well ask the reader “Who wants to get cancer and die a slow, painful death?” If I answer no, am I a narcissist with an immortality obsession?
Simon Sparkes
Surbiton, London

I was grateful for Gaby Hinsliff’s article, as I suspect were many of your older readers. I would prefer to cease upon the midnight with no pain than continue to live with increasing frailty and dependence. I am 84 and, though I still have my marbles, have painful arthritis and a lack of physical and social confidence brought on by the long years of the pandemic. I’m not strong enough to help my busy family with chores or look after them if they are ill, so I’m no use to anyone.

People will suggest the University of the Third Age and being more active socially – but one becomes very diffident when one knows how little one has to contribute. There must be thousands of people like me, stranded in what feels like a half-life compared with what we knew.
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More than 10K Airbnb listings in NYC likely to disappear in 2023 due to new rules

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More than 10,000 Airbnb listings for short-term rentals in New York City are likely to disappear when tight new housing rules take effect next year, says the Adams administration official tasked with enforcing the forthcoming regulations.

The rules, set to be implemented Jan. 9, will require all Airbnb hosts in the city to register their units with Mayor Adams’ Office of Special Enforcement.

In addition, Airbnb will be barred from processing payments for any hosts who fail to register — and the office’s executive director, Christian Klossner, said those requirements will root out thousands of illegal listings across the five boroughs that are currently advertised on the platform.

“Approximately 10,000 active listings offering illegal occupancy will either be shut down or come into compliance,” Klossner said in an interview Friday.

As of this week, there are nearly 40,000 Airbnb listings in the city, according to data from Inside Airbnb, an independent watchdog group.

Klossner spoke with the Daily News ahead of a key public comment hearing scheduled for Monday, which will be the final chance for supporters and opponents to offer opinions before the rules are finalized.

Christian Klossner is seen in Manhattan on Thursday, October 29 2015.

Airbnb has sharply opposed the rules. In a statement, the company said they will result in a “draconian and unworkable registration system that will prevent lawful and responsible hosts from listing their homes.”

On a public comment website maintained by the Mayor’s Office of Operations, more than 150 people have over the past month submitted testimony. Many of the testimonials are from New Yorkers who fear the new rules will make it harder for them to rent out their homes via Airbnb.

“It’s the kind of despicable, bureaucratic act that makes me want to move out of this once great city,” commented Aron Watman, who identified himself as an Airbnb host in Brooklyn.

Supporters of Airbnb hold a rally outside City Hall in 2015.

Under existing law, it’s only legal for New Yorkers to rent out a section of their homes for short-term use — not the entire dwelling.

Hosts must also under existing law reside in their apartments while renting parts of them out on a short-term basis, which is defined as less than 30 days, meaning it is illegal for someone to temporarily sublet their home while away on vacation.

However, Klossner said thousands of Airbnb hosts are currently able to skirt those restrictions because of a lack of oversight.

“It’s unfortunately very easy right now to break the law,” Klossner said.

He said that will change with the new registration requirements.

Under the proposed new rules, short-term rental hosts must furnish Klossner’s office with the full legal names of all residents of a given dwelling, as well as proof of the unit’s permanent status, such as a lease.

Under the proposed new rules, short-term rental hosts must furnish Klossner’s office with the full legal names of all residents of a given dwelling, as well as proof of the unit’s permanent status, such as a lease. Hosts must also certify that their rentals abide by local building codes, zoning requirements and safety regulations.

If hosts do not produce the required information to Klossner’s office, they will not receive registration credentials — and Airbnb will be prohibited by law from processing payments to them.

If it processes payments for unregistered hosts, Airbnb could face fines of $1,500 per violation, the new rules state. Hosts who rent out unregistered units could be fined $5,000.

“The registration system will have a very significant effect,” Klossner said. “It will allow hosts to know for sure what is and isn’t legal, and bring the scale of enforcement down to a level where the focus can be on those remaining individuals determined to try to find a way around the law.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams

Monday’s final public comment hearing comes as the city remains in a housing crisis, driven by a steep drop in production and preservation of affordable apartment units over the past year.

In July, while announcing a lawsuit against an alleged short-term rental slumlord, Mayor Adams said the housing crisis has been exacerbated by apartments being used as illegal Airbnb operations instead of permanent homes.

“Our administration is determined to preserve affordable housing and cracking down on illegal short term renters are one way we are going to accomplish that aspect,” he said.

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Who are the female union leaders overseeing UK strike action? | Trade unions

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Christina McAnea is the general secretary of Unison, the UK’s biggest union. Brought up on Glasgow’s Drumchapel estate, McAnea left school at 16 to join the civil service, before going to university at the age of 22 and earning a degree in English and history.

A longtime union official, the no-nonsense McAnea has couched Unison’s demands for better pay and conditions for NHS workers, who include paramedics and ambulance staff, as a battle for the future of the health service.

The result of a ballot of its 300,000-plus NHS members was disappointing, however, with the tough 50% minimum threshold for strike action reached at just eight employers – though these include most of the ambulance services across England.

Sharon Graham of Unite
Sharon Graham of Unite has focused on industrial battles instead of Westminster politics. Photograph: Sharon Graham Campaign/PA

Sharon Graham runs Unite, which was heavily involved in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party under her predecessor, Len McCluskey.

Graham, who left school at 16 and led her first strike a year later, has taken a very different approach, focusing on industrial battles instead of Westminster politics. She hopes to increase the union’s leverage by taking on multiple employers across a single sector at the same time.

Unite has claimed several recent victories, including an end to the long-running Liverpool dockers’ dispute, which the union said resulted in pay increases of 14-18% for its members.

Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.
Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, says the government has refused to negotiate. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

Pat Cullen is the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, whose members are due to take part in two historic strike days, on 15 and 20 December.

One of six children – four of whom were sisters, who also became nurses – Cullen grew up in Northern Ireland, where she worked in mental health nursing before holding a string of senior leadership posts.

She has been forthright in laying the blame for the forthcoming stoppages at the government’s door, saying earlier this week: “They refuse to negotiate with us and consequently have chosen strike over negotiation.”

Jo Grady (centre) on the picket line at the University of Manchester University last month
Jo Grady (centre) on the picket line at the University of Manchester University last month. Photograph: Joel Goodman/The Guardian

Jo Grady, the general secretary of the University and College Union, which represents higher education staff such as librarians and lab technicians, as well as lecturers, is the figurehead of the strike action across universities.

UCU members are protesting about their pension rights, as well as low pay and the increasing casualisation and precariousness of their roles.

A lecturer in employment relations before she was elected to the five-year post, Grady is just 38 and widely seen in the labour movement as one of a new generation of forthright and media-savvy trade unionists.

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