Trouble at Worcester RoyalWorcestershireAcuteHospitalsNHSTrustmustmakeimprovementstoitsmaternityserviceatitsflagshiphospitalin Worcester, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) says, following an inspection after alerts from whistleblowers. The maternity service has been down-graded from ‘Good’ to “Requires Improvement”.TheinspectionwascarriedoutonDecember9thinresponsetoinformationreceivedaboutthesafetyofthematernity department, particularly around _•midwifery staffing levels, •risk and incident reporting and governance, •staffing levels often lower than planned, with midwives reporting that this led to them being frequentlymoved within the department.______________________________________________Influenza ahead ?Scientists fear that falling immunity levels to influenza - normally sustained by seasonal circulation of the virus - could now pave the way for one of the worst flu outbreaks for years.“If I had to gamble on it, then I would guess that we are likely to get a more severe epidemic in the coming winter - assuming restrictions are fully lifted by then. We have effectively missed out on flu this winter, so the levels of immunity are less than would be typical. In fact, it is not impossible that we will have an out-of-season epidemic perhaps in the autumn, rather than winter,”Prof John Edmunds, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a member of the government’s Sage committee of scientific advisers.______________________________________________‘Russian’ Avian FluA strain of bird flu has spread to humans for the first time, according to scientists in Russia. Russian authorities say they have detected the first human case of highly contagious bird flu H5N8 after seven people tested positive at a poultry farm. Tests found traces of the H5N8 strain of avian flu were present in samples collected from seven workers at a poultry farm in southern Russia, where an outbreak was recorded among the birds in December. The head of Russia’s health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, Anna Popova, said the findings have already been reported to the World Health Organisation. The workers did not suffer any serious health consequences and Ms Popova stressed there was no sign of transmission between humans so far._______________________________________________Having to pay to get to BirminghamFebruary 22 marks 100 days until the launch of Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone – CAZ.This will cover the area inside the A4540 Middleway Ring Road (but not the ring road itself) with highly-polluting vehicles facing a charge of £8 or £50 per week.Exemptions are available _ •for those who live within the zone or •work in the city centre and meet certain requirements •vehicles with a disabled or disabled passenger tax class (but not for a blue badge alone)with more information available from the city council's website: www.brumbreathes.co.uk_______________________________________________Oil change ?There is not enough supply coming on stream to replace the structural decline in old oil wells and the exhaustion of oil fields and the crunch will come for Saudi Arabia and Russia over the next five years as electric vehicles eat seriously into global fuel demand. The Saudis need to hold oil prices in the sweet spot of $60 to $70 a barrel (50 gallons) - roughly where they are today - just high enough to keep their Kingdom afloat, but low enough to extend the oil era into the 2040s (they hope). Once Brent punches through $100, the cost advantage will switch rapidly to the green camp and accelerate the migration of Big Money into more lucrative green tech - the final heave that finishes off fossils once and for all (apart from lubrication). The paradox is that Net-zero targets and good behaviour codes (ESG) will make the problem worse before it gets better.All are adopting carbon neutral targets that can only be met by increasing spending on renewables and letting their oil production decline. Shell will cut oil output by 30pc this decade, BP by 40pc. But a low-carbon economy requires infrastructure. It requires bulldozers and trucks. It requires the mining of iron ore and thermal coal, their shipment to steel foundries and the movement of the finished products around the globe. More oil is needed to power the conversion to a non-oil economy !!