Data about millions of NHS patients has been sold to US and other international pharmaceutical companies for research, the Observer has learnt, raising new fears about America’s growing ambitions to access lucrative parts of the health service after Brexit. US drugs giants, including Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly, have paid the Department of Health and Social Care, which holds data derived from GPs’ surgeries, for licences costing up to £330,000 each in return for anonymised data to be used for research. Campaigners working to protect the privacy of patients’ medical histories said they were concerned at the lack of transparency that surrounded the sale of licences, and a lack of clarity about what the data was being used for. The most recent accounts of the government organisation that issues the licences, Clinical Practice Research Datalink or CPRD, reveal it received more than £10m in revenue last year. “Patients should know how their … [Read more...] about Patient data from GP surgeries sold to US companies
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As Marise Payne stands in her colourful shirt for the obligatory photo opportunity at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru this week, she might do well to consider the high price Australia pays to prop up one of the most dysfunctional governments on the planet. As the newly minted foreign affairs minister, the arc of Australia’s influence in the Pacific is now Payne’s bailiwick, and Nauru is a country, it seems, edging closer to the cusp of democratic calamity. Economically it is beholden: Nauru survives essentially on Australian largesse and self-interest. In 2017-18 the Australian government directly provided two-thirds of Nauru’s entire revenue of $170m either as direct aid, resettlement and visa fees for refugees, fees to the Nauru Regional Processing Centre Corporation, or reimbursements to Nauru’s government. That’s before the $26m in taxes on high earners – paid mainly by Australians – and the airfares and charters on Nauru Airlines, the … [Read more...] about Nauru: a nation in democratic freefall propped up by Australia
A refusal by Nauru to agree to a contract extension until the 11th hour has caused chaos and confusion on the island, after refugees and asylum seekers were told to clear out of the processing centre and warned healthcare may stop. Australia and Nauru have been working towards Nauru taking over contracts to provide welfare and garrison service to the 400 or so asylum seekers and refugees on the island, but Nauru has struggled to be ready. As a result Australia has repeatedly extended its $432m contract with Canstruct, which contracts Wilson to provide security, with the most recent six-month extension due to expire at midnight on Tuesday. However as late as Tuesday afternoon there was no decision made on either extending with Canstruct or Nauru signing a new contract, which resulted in fear and confusion among the refugee and asylum seeker group. The standoff, which saw Canstruct and Wilson inform other stakeholders they were “demobilising” only ended late on Tuesday … [Read more...] about Nauru contract standoff causes chaos and confusion as refugee services left in limbo
The market in Auki is a hive of activity. Fisherman offer fresh yellowfin tuna, mackerel and parrot fish, swatting away flies with banana leaves. Stalls are coloured by tropical fruits and the floral dresses of Solomon Islands women who have arrived from villages to sell their produce. Some of the best produce found in the market, which is located in the capital of the island of Malaita in the Solomon Islands, comes from Adaliua Taiwanese Farm, situated three kilometres away. There, plump pawpaw and watermelon grow, surrounded by coconut palms. When the Guardian visits, one man uses his machete to slice a pineapple, using banana leaves as a plate to share the fruit. But the future of the farm and the jobs it creates was thrown into doubt overnight in September when Manasseh Sogavare, the prime minister of the Solomon Islands announced Honiara would end its 36-year relationship with Taiwan, and officially recognise Beijing. A few weeks later Sogavare received a warm welcome in Beijing, … [Read more...] about When China came calling: inside the Solomon Islands switch
Here we go again: all the signs of another scandal involving meat and food safety. The first stirrings were in January, and while the authorities seem to have kept the lid on it for the moment, it has the feel of previous crises over food supply that have erupted after initial rumblings. There is confusion about what’s actually happened, and arguments over whether rules have been broken. The food watchdog has been accused once again of being too heavy-handed as steaks have disappeared from high street menus. It’s a fairly safe bet that there is more to come. The difference this time is that the structures that were set up to protect the public after previous crises are crumbling. The Food Standards Agency was created in 2001 asa central regulator after a series of food and farming scandals, with a mission to put consumers’ interests first. It depends on a functioning partnership with local authorities, which remain responsible for much food testing, inspection and … [Read more...] about We’re entitled to eat safe meat. Why has that become such a lottery?