Wilko closures: Full and final list of stores to shut for good after retailer’s collapse

Wilko will close the last of its remaining high street stores next month.

The collapsed homeware retailer’s final 111 sites will shut on three dates in early October.

Most sites have already closed, with the latest wave closing for good yesterday.

More than 10,000 jobs are expected be lost as a result of Wilko’s collapse.

Earlier this month, rival retailer The Range bought Wilko’s brand, website and intellectual property, while 120 stores – more than a quarter of its estate – have been sold to B&M European Value Retail and Poundland’s owner.

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HMV owner Doug Putman previously pulled out of a deal to buy 300 shops after talks with administrators PwC fell through.

These stores will shut on October 3:

Hounslow, London
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Weston Favell, Northampton
Lancaster, Lancashire
Leeds Trinity, West Yorkshire
Reading, Berkshire
Poole, Dorset
Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Halifax, West Yorkshire
Washington, Newcastle upon Tyne
Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Chatham, Kent
Southend, Essex
Metro Centre, Gateshead
Epsom, Surrey
Cannon Park, Coventry
Norwich, Norfolk
Preston, Lancashire
Canterbury, Kent
Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey
Carlisle, Cumbria
Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Kingswood, Bristol
Colchester, Essex
Ilford, London
Maidstone, Kent
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

The following stores will shut on October 5:

Bishop Stortford, Hertfordshire
Tottenham Hale, London
Worthing, West Sussex
Romford, London
Selly Oak, Birmingham
Wembley, London
Birstall, West Yorkshire
Uxbridge, London
Burton, Staffordshire
Lee Circle, Leicester
West Ealing, London
Blackburn, Lancaster
Bexleyheath, London
The Beacon Eastbourne, East Sussex
Weymouth, Dorset
Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
Beaumont Leys, Leicester
Hinckley, Leicestershire
Livingston, Scotland
Chelmsford, Essex
Riverside Shopping Centre, Northampton
Sittingbourne, Kent
Stourbridge, West Midlands
Hamilton, South Lanarkshire
Deepdale, Preston
Basingstoke, Hampshire
Clifton Moor, York
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway
Harrow, London
Tooting, London
Telford, Shropshire
Ipswich, Suffolk
St James Retail Park, Sheffield
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Bulwell, Nottinghamshire
Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
Frenchgate Shopping Centre, Doncaster
Clifton, Bristol

The following stores will shut on October 8:

Neath, Neath Port Talbot
Bromley, London
Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire
Cardiff, South Glamorgan
Selby, North Yorkshire
Arnold, Nottinghamshire
Portsmouth, Hampshire
Oswestry, Shropshire
Chester, Cheshire
Hucknall, Nottinghamshire
Ayr, South Ayrshire
Widnes, Cheshire
Horsham, West Sussex
Birkenhead, Merseyside
Kingston Centre, Milton Keynes
Parkgate, Rotherham
Perry Barr, Birmingham
Castleford, West Yorkshire
Porthmadog, Caernarfonshire
Brighouse, West Yorkshire
Chelmsley Wood, West Midlands
Swansea, Wales
Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire
Silverlink, Newcastle
Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Sutton, Surrey
Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Crystal Peaks, Sheffield
Plymouth, Devon
Ely, Cambridgeshire
Loughborough, Leicestershire
Stratford, London
Newcastle upon Tyne
Coventry, West Midlands
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Exeter, Devon
Luton, Bedfordshire
Wood Green, London

Wilko employed 12,500 workers before its collapse, which came after months of trying to find a buyer. It was founded by James Kemsey Wilkinson in Leicester in 1930.

Ontario extends funding helping some hospitals avoid temporary ER closures

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Ontario is extending funding that helps rural and northern hospitals avoid temporary ER closures, after previously saying it would end after the summer.

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A memo this week from the deputy minister of health to affected hospitals says that the Temporary Locum Program, which had been set to expire Sept. 30, will now continue until March 31.

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Many northern and rural hospitals rely on doctors from urban areas filling shifts on what is known as a locum basis, and this program was created during the pandemic to pay those doctors a premium for that work.

In the spring, the ministry had told hospitals that after Sept. 30 the program would be wound down, but a spokesperson for Health Minister Sylvia Jones says the ministry had been monitoring the program over the summer.

Hannah Jensen says this summer no hospitals that qualified for the program had to temporarily close their ERs due to physician shortages, and the ministry is working with organizations including the Ontario Medical Association on a permanent solution.

There have been numerous temporary ER closures across the province this year due to staffing shortages, such as a lack of nurses.

Pub closures rise sharply amid warning over planned business rate change

The number of pubs in England and Wales that shut their doors for good rose sharply in the first half of 2023, prompting warnings to the government that planned rises in business rates could force further closures in the beleaguered sector.

Figures show that 383 pubs, or more than two a day, “vanished” in the first six months of this year, almost matching the total for the whole of 2022, when 386 were lost.

The data, from the commercial real estate analysts Altus Group, measures the number of pubs that have closed down permanently because they have either been demolished or converted for use as homes or offices.

The chief executive of one of Britain’s leading pub groups joined Altus in warning the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, that more closures could follow if he goes ahead with plans to scrap a discount on business rates.

Chris Jowsey, the chief executive of 1,000-strong chain Admiral Taverns, said the relief was vital for many pubs.

“Without it, costs for many pubs will rise dramatically by many thousands of pounds, fuelling inflation and forcing closure for many independents,” he said.

“Having survived Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis, it would be tragic if the government now chose to increase rates bills and brought about pub closures.”

Pubs, like other hospitality, leisure and retail businesses, now benefit from a 75% discount on their business rate bills, capped at £110,000.

Hunt announced the £2.1bn relief scheme at his autumn statement in November 2022, but the discount is scheduled to end in March 2024.

The effect of the relief being phased out will be exacerbated by a scheduled rise in the headline business rates in line with inflation, an increase set to take effect in April next year. This could add 6% to bills, Altus Group said, calling on Hunt to continue rate relief beyond March next year.

“With energy costs up 80% year-on-year, in a low-growth, high-inflation and high interest rates environment, the last thing pubs need is an average business rates hike of £12,385 next year,” said Alex Probyn, the head of property tax at Altus Group.

The pubs industry, one of the hardest-hit by the restrictions on socialising imposed during the pandemic, has struggled to recover in the face of sky-high energy bills, the soaring cost of ingredients and difficulties in hiring staff.

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Britain’s biggest pub group, Stonegate – the owner of chains such as the Slug & Lettuce and Yates’s – has told patrons it will start charging them a 20p premium on pints during busy periods, such as the weekend.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is also urging the government to extend the 75% rates relief discount for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses beyond next spring’s cutoff, and to increase the threshold for small business rates relief from £12,000 to at least £25,000. That would remove more than 250,000 small businesses from the rates system, they say.

“For many small businesses on the high street and town centres, the current relief is a lifeline, said the FSB’s national chair, Martin McTague.

“In April this is due to end, creating a cliff edge that will be hugely damaging to thousands of businesses. Ensuring the relief is maintained for those businesses that need it most will be key to their survival.”

Rural nursing home operators say new staff rules would cause more closures

Sharon Hudson (left) has advanced Alzheimer’s. But she smiles and giggles when her daughter, Lana Obermeyer, visits at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Syracuse, Nebraska.

Tony Leys/KFF Health News

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Sharon Hudson (left) has advanced Alzheimer’s. But she smiles and giggles when her daughter, Lana Obermeyer, visits at the Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Syracuse, Nebraska.

Tony Leys/KFF Health News

SYRACUSE, Neb. — Many rural communities like this one face a health care dilemma: Is it better to have a nursing home that struggles to hire workers or no nursing home at all?

The national debate over that question will heat up now that federal regulators have proposed to improve care by setting minimum staffing levels for all U.S. nursing homes.

Rural nursing homes would have five years to comply with some of the rules, versus three for their urban counterparts. Facilities also could apply for “hardship exemptions.” But industry leaders predict the rules could accelerate a wave of closures that has already claimed hundreds of rural nursing homes.

Some families that rely on the Good Samaritan Society home in Syracuse, Nebraska, fear the regulation could hasten its demise.

Turning people away

The facility is the town’s lone nursing home. It is running at barely half its licensed capacity, and managers say they’ve been turning away prospective residents because they can’t find enough staff to care for more.

Lana Obermeyer, whose mother lives there, says employees take good care of residents. “Are they overworked? Probably,” she says. “Isn’t everybody these days?”

The Biden administration proposal, released Sept. 1, is intended to ensure higher-quality care by requiring a minimum number of hours of average daily staffing per resident, including 2.5 hours from certified nurse aides and 33 minutes from registered nurses.

The proposal also would require around-the-clock coverage by at least one registered nurse at every nursing home. Regulators estimate 1,358 rural nursing homes, including 58 in Nebraska, would need to add nurses to meet that standard.

Patient-safety advocates have long pressed the government to impose such standards to prevent neglect of nursing home residents. They blame the industry for letting its staffing problems fester for decades, and many hoped the federal proposal would be more stringent.

The proposal would not affect assisted living centers, which are designed to care for people with less severe health problems.

‘It would kill half of these people’

Syracuse, which has about 1,900 people, serves a farming region in southern Nebraska. Its red-brick nursing home sits near a cemetery, a hearing aid store, and a tractor dealership. It would need to hire several more aides and an overnight registered nurse to meet the requirements.

Most of the nursing home’s 46 residents are from the area. So are most employees. Staffers often care for their former teachers, coaches, and babysitters. They know each other’s families.

If the facility closed, many residents likely would be transferred to larger nursing homes in the city of Lincoln, a 40-minute drive northwest, or Omaha, which is an hour northeast. They would be placed among strangers.

“I truly think it would kill half of these people,” says Obermeyer, whose mother, Sharon Hudson, has been in the Good Samaritan home five years.

The health system that owns the Good Samaritan home in Syracuse, Nebraska, has closed 13 nursing homes, mainly in rural areas in the past two years.

Tony Leys/KFF Health News

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The health system that owns the Good Samaritan home in Syracuse, Nebraska, has closed 13 nursing homes, mainly in rural areas in the past two years.

Tony Leys/KFF Health News

Obermeyer lives less than a block away, and she walks over to see her mom several times a week. Hudson also enjoys frequent visits from other locals, who stop by to see her after visiting their own parents in the facility.

Hudson has advanced Alzheimer’s disease. She can no longer speak many words, but she smiles and giggles often, and tries to communicate with garbled sentences. “She’s a very happy, happy person,” Obermeyer says.

Ideally, she would be served in a specialized “memory care unit,” for people with dementia. The Good Samaritan home once had one, but the unit closed several years ago for lack of staff. The wing now sits dark.

Better reimbursement, but closures anyway

Ten Nebraska nursing homes have shut down since 2021, says Jalene Carpenter, president of the Nebraska Health Care Association. Most have been in small towns.

The state’s long-term care facilities have raised wages as much as 30% in recent years, partly because Nebraska joined most other states in substantially increasing how much its Medicaid program pays for nursing home care, Carpenter says. But many of the state’s 196 remaining nursing homes are limiting admissions because of staffing shortages, she says. “It’s unsustainable.”

Carpenter says part of the problem is that the population of seniors who need care in many rural areas outpaces the supply of working-age adults. Job seekers have plenty of choices outside of health care, many with better hours and less stress. She notes that nine rural Nebraska counties had no registered nurses in 2021.

‘The sky is falling’

A prominent consumer advocate scoffed at claims that rural facilities would be unable to comply with the proposed staffing rules.

“That’s always their first response: ‘We’re going to have to close,'” says Lori Smetanka, executive director of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care. “It’s like, ‘The sky is falling.'”

Smetanka says the industry should have improved working conditions and wages long ago, and she contends the proposed standards are too lenient.

Regulators shouldn’t offer rural nursing homes extra time to meet the staffing rule, she says. “Residents in rural facilities have the same level of needs as those in urban facilities,” she says. “Every resident deserves quality care today.”

Smetanka’s group favors offering incentives, such as pay raises and housing assistance, to employees in the long-term care industry. It also wants the government to strengthen options for care in people’s homes instead of in facilities.

Industry leaders have suggested easing immigration rules to allow more workers from other countries. Smetanka says that such workers might help ease the staffing shortage but that they shouldn’t be subjected to the poor conditions and low pay that have driven many previous employees away.

Closures in Iowa, too

In Iowa, 27 nursing homes have closed over the past two years, according to the Iowa Health Care Association. Most were in rural areas. About 400 remain open in the state.

John Hale, an Iowa advocate for improved long-term care, says he sympathizes with rural residents who worry about facilities closing. But he says companies sometimes use staffing woes as an excuse to shutter money-losing facilities.

Hale has roamed the halls of Iowa’s Capitol for years, trying to persuade legislators to protect vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities. He says minimum staffing proposals have always been blocked by the nursing home industry, which receives millions of state and federal tax dollars from Medicaid. The industry’s message to government officials boils down to “give us more money and leave us alone,” he says.

Hale noted Iowa’s government sets minimum staffing levels for child care centers to ensure kids’ safety, but hasn’t done so for seniors in care facilities. “I just wonder what that says about our values as a government and as a people,” he says.

The longtime federal standard for nursing homes has been that they have “sufficient” staff. Hale says that vague standard is akin to replacing speed limit signs with suggestions that motorists drive “at reasonable speeds.”

The Good Samaritan home in Syracuse is rated three out of five stars for overall quality on the nursing home comparison website run by Medicare. Its staffing level is rated at four stars, although its reported ratio of staff hours to residents was below national and Nebraska averages.

The Good Samaritan Society, which owns the nursing home, is one of the country’s largest nonprofit chains of care facilities. In 2021, it reported nearly $78 million in losses on nearly $1 billion in revenue. The company is owned by the giant Sanford Health system, based in South Dakota. It has closed 13 nursing homes in the past two years, mostly in rural areas.

Good Samaritan Society President Nate Schema says he fears the proposed federal staffing standards would spark more closures, forcing rural residents to seek care far from their hometowns. Family members would not be able to visit as often, he says. “Are they going to have to drive 20 or 30 or, God forbid, 100 miles?”

In a letter to federal regulators, Schema writes that his company owns 139 nursing homes in 19 states, with nearly 1,700 open positions. At one facility in rural South Dakota, he says, a night-shift nursing job has been vacant for three years.

Where are the people to hire?

The possibility of closure is on the minds of residents and families at the Good Samaritan nursing home in Syracuse.

Nellie Swale, a resident of Good Samaritan in Syracuse, Nebraska, hangs out with Karena Cunningham, a certified nursing assistant, who says her clients and colleagues are family to her.

Tony Leys/KFF Health News

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Nellie Swale, a resident of Good Samaritan in Syracuse, Nebraska, hangs out with Karena Cunningham, a certified nursing assistant, who says her clients and colleagues are family to her.

Tony Leys/KFF Health News

Resident Nellie Swale said she knows people who had to transfer to the facility from other nursing homes that closed. They were stressed and saddened by the move, she says. “Old people really depend on routines,” she says.

Certified nursing assistant Karena Cunningham tells residents she hopes the Syracuse nursing home stays open. But, she says, “we can’t make them any promises.”

Cunningham considered looking for a less stressful job, but she couldn’t leave. “It’s my family here. I love the friends I’ve made,” she says.

The facility currently has 82 employees, with 10 vacant full-time positions. The company said it spent $150,000 in the past year raising pay at the facility. The lowest starting wage for a nurse aide there has reached $18 an hour, a 30% increase from 10 months earlier.

Cunningham says that with a bigger staff, the nursing home could accept more residents, including those with complicated issues, such as addiction, mental illness, or severe obesity.

A national minimum staffing rule sounds like it would make sense, “in a perfect world,” she says.

“Bring me these people that we’re supposed to have for staff,” Cunningham says. “Where are they?”

KFF Health Newsformerly known as Kaiser Health News (KHN), is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF — the independent source for health policy research, polling, and journalism.

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Mick Lynch calls consultation on railway ticket office closures a ‘sham’

The closure of ticket offices in England will lead to a railway where people will “not want to travel once the sun’s gone down”, the union leader Mick Lynch has told MPs, describing the recent consultation as a “sham”.

Speaking to the Commons transport select committee, the general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, said the government was trying to force through job cuts and it was “nonsense” to suggest ticket office staff would be redeployed.

Disability campaigners told the committee the consultation itself had been inaccessible for many disabled and vulnerable travellers, while the proposed staffing levels would threaten their right to travel.

The consultation on shutting most of England’s 1,000 offices, which closed on 1 September after being extended after protests, received more than 680,000 responses.

The replies are currently being reviewed by the watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch, who will assess plans for each individual station closure and can refer the decision to the transport secretary if they uphold public objections.

Lynch told MPs: “We think the whole thing has been a sham designed to be rammed through while people were looking the other way.”

He said the transport secretary, Mark Harper, had initiated the plans through contracts with the train operating companies: “He directs everything they do these days … If the watchdogs object, the decision will end up with him as well. It’s a controlled show.”

The RMT leader said the plans were designed to save £95m, and the industry had “spent £1.5bn fighting this dispute”.

He said passengers would be “left to fend for themselves”, with 2,800 jobs set to go, adding: “They’re not taking them out of the ticket office to work on the platforms. They’re taking them out of the ticket office to cut the jobs out of the system. It’s just a nonsense that these people will all be redeployed.”

Lynch said ticket offices were vibrant, and people were angry about losing what were “community centres in many towns and villages”.

He added: “If we want an accessible railway that’s friendly for everyone – for disabled people, for foreign visitors, for women who are fearful about travelling … why have we not got a proposal on it?

“Even the hours they’ve got are cuts to hours, and it’s every person for themselves on the railway. And once the sun’s gone down, many people will not want to travel on this railway in the future.”

Katie Pennick, the campaigns manager for Transport for All, said that several train operators’ consultations had been inaccessible for many people with disabilities such as visual and hearing impairments until legal action was threatened. She said: “Disabled people have not had a fair opportunity to comment.”

In one case, she said: “I asked for British Sign Language and was offered braille instead.”

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Pennick said that many equality impact assessments had been “copy and paste jobs”, while there was no overall assessment for travel across the railway. She said: “It demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the barriers that disabled people face along the railway.”

Louise Rubin, the head of policy at Scope, said that trying to find the details of proposals in the consultation had been “beyond challenging” and had “left disabled and elderly people feeling overlooked from the start”.

The proposals will leave hundreds of stations unstaffed much of the time, with many only having “weekly visits” from mobile teams, according to consultation documents.

Rubin added: “Disabled people cannot plan their lives around weekly visits … It throws our right to turn up and go into doubt.”

The sector regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, said they had communicated numerous concerns about the proposals. Stephanie Tobyn, the ORR’s director of strategy, policy and reform, told MPs there were “multiple questions” about how accessible travel would be protected: “At this point, we cannot answer those questions. It’s not obvious how it would operate … I can’t understand how a team could turn up at a station once a week and facilitate turn-up-and-go assistance.”

Train operator bosses and rail industry representatives were due to appear before the hearing later.

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Wilko warehouse shutdown likened to pit closures as thousands face job losses

The “dreadful” closure of a key Wilko’s distribution centre in Nottinghamshire has been likened to the loss of industrial jobs in collieries and factories during the last century by the local council.

Administrators PwC confirmed the site will shut on Friday (16th September) with support staff and operations completely winding down in October.

Cllr Jo White the Deputy Leader of Bassetlaw District Council said:

“The last time this area faced similar levels of redundancies was when the pits closed and the garment factories closed.”


“These were the traditional workplaces for the men and women 20-30 years ago. Companies like Wilko filled that void.”

“People who worked down the pits transferred into Wilko so it’s a very similar workforce who stayed there for years, loyal to the company. Now they’re facing this.”

Around 1500 people worked at Manton Wood Colliery near Worksop when it closed in 1994.

Cllr White is Cabinet Member for Business and Skills on the Labour-run authority. The Council is offering redundancy support and setting up a number of job fairs alongside the DWP and Citizen’s Advice in Bassetlaw.

“We’ve got lots of potential employers coming in.” said Cllr White.

“These are companies with vacancies like DHL, Barcode Warehouse, the local health service, and Samworth Brothers – the sandwich making factory.”

Jo White has reassured people losing their jobs at Wilko


“There’s going to be a legal advice service, a debt service, health and well-being.”

The first jobs fair is on Thursday 14th September at The Bridge Skills Hub in Worksop.

The Labour councillor has criticised the Government for not stepping in to aid the flailing chain which has struggle to adapt in a post-pandemic world of online shopping trends. The family-built Wilko company has also been accused of paying dividends to shareholders despite a loss of profit.

A UK Government Spokesperson said:

“We understand that this will be a concerning time for workers at Wilko, dealing with tough circumstances and uncertainty. We stand ready to support those impacted, as we’ve already started to do.

“Affected employees will be able to access our broad range of support, including Universal Credit and Job Centre Plus through DWP’s Rapid Response Service, to secure financial support and help with finding new job opportunities.

“The Insolvency Service will also be able to support employees to receive redundancy and other payments they’re eligible for.”

Poundland owner Pepco has agreed to buy 71 Wilko stores amidst the chain’s collapse. Shops, including one in Worksop, will reopen under the budget brand name and Wilko workers will be “prioritised” for new jobs.

Administrators PwC previously struck a deal to sell 51 stores to discount rivals B&M, while a bigger sale of a chunk of Wilko shops to billionaire HMV boss Doug Putman fell apart.

Four hundred Wilko stores are to close across the country by October according the GMB Union. The collapse is expected to result in redundancy for most of the 12,500 employees.

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B.C. health minister under fire as ER closures continue throughout the province | CBC News

As staffing shortages continue to cause short-term closures of emergency rooms across B.C., elected officials are putting pressure on the provincial government to step up. 

In Oliver, a small desert community south of Kelowna, the emergency department at the South Okanagan General Hospital was closed for 24 hours over the Labour Day weekend and again Monday night.  

“I’m not getting any reassurance that [the province is] recognizing the seriousness of the issues that are going on,” Mayor Martin Johansen told Chris Walker, the host of CBC’s Daybreak South.

“I really think the response from the ministry is pathetic. In my world, if you were functioning at this low level at any job, you would have been fired a long time ago.”

Johansen said the problem in Oliver stems from multiple causes, including a lack of physician access to the province’s rural locum program, a loss of the loan forgiveness program for nurses, and a population that swells with tourists in the summer. 

There’s also the issue of an aging population that can be more difficult and time intensive to treat, he said. 

Johansen said he has been in discussion with Health Minister Adrian Dix about the hospital emergency room closures for five years, to no avail. 

“It just seems that we’re moving slowly and slowly in the wrong direction,” he said. “I really question what the strategy from the ministry is here.”

Have you been affected by an emergency room closure in your community? Email CBC reporter Maryse Zeidler at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca

‘There is a crisis in our province’

In northern B.C., data Northern Health shared with CBC News shows 95 emergency room closures in hospitals across the region from June 1 to Aug. 21, 2023.

The closures include:

  • 22 at Chetwynd General Hospital.
  • 19 at Mackenzie District Hospital.
  • 16 at Wrinch Memorial Hospital.
  • 12 at Stuart Lake Hospital.
  • 9 at St. John Hospital.
  • 4 at Tumbler Ridge Health Centre.
  • 3 at Kitimat General Hospital.
  • 3 at Lakes District Hospital.
  • 3 at Valemount Health Centre.
  • 2 at Houston Health Centre (Urgent Care).
  • 1 at Mills Memorial Hospital.
  • 1 at Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital.

Northern Health said the “service interruption occurrences” were all temporary, with most of them overnight and many less than one shift in duration. 

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix admits the hospital closures are not ideal. Dix says the province has put several strategies in place to help. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, the health critic for B.C. United, said the closures are unacceptable, especially in smaller northern communities that can require hours of additional travel to get to the next facility. 

“Can you imagine being a patient and finding out that your ER is closed?” Bond asked Carolina de Ryk, the host of CBC’s Daybreak North.

“We have to acknowledge that there is a crisis in our province.”

On Vancouver Island, the emergency room at Saanich Peninsula Hospital was closed overnight for two months this summer. 

In 2022, emergency rooms at 13 hospitals in rural British Columbia were closed for the equivalent of around four months, according to data analyzed by CBC News.

Even hospitals in the Lower Mainland are suffering from staff shortages, with ER doctors at Royal Columbian Hospital and Eagle Ridge Hospital saying patients have been left with “undignified” care

Physicians at Surrey’s Memorial Hospital have had similar concerns

‘We’re taking exceptional actions’: Dix

Daybreak North guest host Bill Fee spoke with Adrian Dix about the closures in northern B.C. Dix acknowledged the situation was far from ideal. 

“Nobody in their community wants to hear about an emergency room diversion,” Dix said.

“We’re taking exceptional actions across the north in terms of recruitment and retention of health-care workers to support our communities.”

Dix said some of the steps the provincial government is taking include hiring associate physicians — people fully trained in other jurisdictions but who have yet to retain B.C.-specific qualifications — as well as recruiting internationally trained nurses and adding safety officers in hospitals across the province to help health-care workers feel safe on the job. 

The health-care system in B.C. has faced the two public health emergencies of COVID-19 and the opioid crisis in the past few years, Dix said, and it is suffering as a result. 

“The closures aren’t acceptable,” Dix said. “Every effort is taken to avoid them.”

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As School Started in the U.S., So Did the School Closures for Heat

Susan Eckert teaches advanced placement biology at Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey. Her room sits on the second floor, right next to the lower level’s heat-absorbing black tar roof. On hot days, Eckert cracks the windows in her classroom early, then closes them and the blinds as the sun starts to bear down. By the afternoon, though, nothing stops the heat. Eckert has bought five fans for her classroom, which she said registered 90F (32C) on the thermostat this week.

“I watched the weather for a week before school started, when I saw this heat wave coming,” she said. “I was just filled with dread, because it’s such a hard way to start school.”

That is, to the extent school can start. On Sept. 5, just 15 hours before the academic year was set to kick off, Montclair’s superintendent announced an abbreviated first day due to “excessively high temperatures.” The decision, based on National Weather Service data, was made in consultation with the district nurse and doctor, the town health office and staff at each of Montclair’s 11 schools. It would later be expanded to half-days for the first three days of the school year, each of them reaching the mid-90s.

Montclair is famous for being the childhood home of moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, being the adulthood home of the late Yankees legend Yogi Berra and being worthy of ridicule for its improbable population of journalists, including me.

[Pause for ridicule.]

But Montclair is also an unassuming harbinger of the challenges ahead for educators in the era of climate change. The town’s schools are 96 years old, on average; all but one need new air conditioning systems. The average local temperature, meanwhile, has risen 4F since Montclair’s first five schools were built. The daily maximum temperature average for September is up 2.7F.

Research nonprofit Climate Central, whose Climate Shift Index provides a real-time estimate of the effect of fossil-fuel and other emissions on the day’s temperature, can even pin down the degree to which climate change is cooking Essex County, where Montclair is located (Climate Central’s reading is taken in nearby Newark). On four days between Aug. 30 and Sept. 7, the heat was made at least three times more likely by climate change. On Sept. 6 and Sept. 7, the index showed that climate change made the heat four times more likely, making it an outlier even among areas facing heat waves.

Montclair’s situation is far from unique. Dozens of Philadelphia schools abbreviated their schedules this week when forecasts called for temperatures of 85F and higher, in accordance with the district’s Extreme Heat Emergency Response Procedures. Districts in New England, the mid-Atlantic, the Midwest and Texas shortened schedules or canceled school.

And that’s in the world’s richest country, where many towns can vote to install air conditioning in classrooms. India, Mexico and the Philippines, where AC penetration is much lower than in the US, have also canceled classes this year. Iran shut down public life entirely for two days in August, as the air was forecast to reach 122F.

Solving climate change is hard. Preventing heat-related health problems, or deaths, is less so: Air conditioning saves lives. The most recent State of Our Schools update, a report released every five years by three organizations, found the U.S. is under-investing in school infrastructure by $85 billion a year, nearly double the 2016 figure. More than 40% of schools need new or updated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

In August, Downers Grove, a village near Chicago, delayed the start of its school year by two days because 11 of its 13 schools lack AC. Superintendent Kevin Russell described it as the first time the district had delayed the start of school or canceled school due to heat. For now, the district’s schools rely on a Heat Relief plan that includes rotating classes through limited air-conditioned spaces, keeping fans on, providing water, adjusting outdoor activities and dimming unused lights. A better fix is coming, though: Last year, voters approved a $179 million referendum to modernize the district’s HVAC systems and fund other improvements.

As temperatures continue to rise with fossil-fuel emissions, the urgency is becoming more acute. The Center for Climate Integrity estimates that 13,700 public schools in the US that didn’t need cooling in 1970 will either have or need it by 2025. Ten states, including Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio, each face more than $1 billion in costs to cool schools. The analysis found that schools typically install cooling systems when the number of days hotter than 80F reaches 32 a year. Since 1970, the number of schools estimated to pass that threshold has risen by 40%.

There are signs of progress. A state bill in California would order up a master plan for climate-safe schools. In Arlington, Massachusetts, one high school earned poor marks from a New England oversight organization — then the district embarked on a plan to rebuild it.

School districts are also a major issuer in the municipal bond market, tapping investors to raise funds for new construction and renovations. So far this year, public school districts have sold about $44.8 billion worth of debt for both new projects and refinancings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s roughly 13% more than was sold over the same period last year, bucking a broader decline in municipal bond issuance, the data show.

Almost half of that debt has come from Texas-based districts where a booming population has underscored the need for more schools.

Last year, Montclair voted to take on a $188 million bond for schools, 40% of which will go to HVAC upgrades that are expected to come online in the next few years. “Climate adaptation will need to be a primary concern” as the design and construction program moves ahead, said David Cantor, the district’s executive director for communications and community engagement.

In the meantime, there are fans. An official from the Montclair High School parent-teacher association this week loaded up a car with a dozen box fans for delivery to classrooms in the most dire need, as students spent their first hours of a new school year trying to learn and think in high heat. “Everyone’s fanning themselves,” Eckert said. “It’s just very hard to keep their attention, understandably. And the energy in the room is just flat.”

–With assistance from Danielle Moran.

The post As School Started in the U.S., So Did the School Closures for Heat appeared first on TIME.

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Barclays ‘to axe hundreds of jobs’ after latest bank branch closures

Barclays could cut as many as 400 jobs in its domestic retail business, according to the reports. They quote sources who claim the bank is trimming its costs as part of a wider strategy review.

Barclays is also planning investment bank cuts as part of its annual assessment of banker performance, a second source claimed. The two rounds of cuts are not related, say reports.

A Barclays spokesperson did not confirm or deny the claims, but reportedly said the bank does not comment on “speculation”.

The latest reports, from news agency Reuters, come after Bloomberg reported that the bank was weighing hundreds of job losses. Reteurs said some retail staff could be redeployed or take voluntary redundancy – but the number of at-risk had not yet been finalised.

A spokesperson for Barclays said: “We regularly review our operations to ensure we meet the evolving needs of our customers and clients in an efficient and effective way.”

Barclays was not the only bank to close branches in the past week. HSBC, Lloyds, Santander and Halifax also shut some of their branches.

Since the start of last year Barclays, Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, NatWest, RBS, TSB, Virgin Money and Nationwide have announced the closure of about 330 branches between them, according to data from Link, a cash machine company.

However, Nationwide Building Society has promised to not close any more of its high street branches until 2026, in a bid to keep face-to-face banking alive in local communities. It means the lender vows to keep its network of 605 branches open for the next three years.

Banking giants such as Barclays and Lloyds said the number of visitors to high street banks has dropped sharply over the past few years, while online and mobile banking usage has soared. However, Nationwide has said that people still want the choice to visit their bank in person.

Back in June, the building society’s chief executive, Debbie Crosbie, said: “Nationwide is different. We give customers a choice about how they do their banking and we support the British high street. Because our customers value face-to-face contact, and we’re owned by them, we act in their interests.”

Around 63% of people say they value their local branch, according to the lender’s survey of about 2,000 consumers. The top reasons people cited for visiting a branch were withdrawing cash, checking balances, opening an account, getting financial advice and discussing financial difficult

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