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NHS strikes over pay

Nurses and hospital workers across the North East have announced plans for further strike action.

Unison members working in the NHS walked out in October after they failed to come to agreement with the Government over a 1% pay increase, which was recommended by an independent pay review body.

They plan to stage another four hour strike on Monday morning.

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Around The House: Coalition of the future?

Paul Brand talks to MPs James Wharton, Russell Brown and Sir Alan Beith Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

On tonight's Around The House, Paul Brand and guests discuss what a future coalition might look like: could the Lib Dems end up supporting Labour and the SNP in government?

Also in the programme, what can the Chancellor offer the North in the Autumn Statement, in the light of warnings of another dip in the economy?

Around The House is tonight (Thurs 20 November) on ITV AT 11.40pm.

Minister signs £190 million Tees Valley Growth Deal

Tees Valley recieves multi-million pound government investment Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The Tees Valley is to benefit from a £190 million in government investment.

The funding package was officially signed by Local Growth Minister Penny Mordaunt today (Thursday 20 November).

The Tees Valley Growth deal is part of a £12 billion government programme to revitalise local economies.

It is hoped that the money will provide a major boost to the local economy by creating up to 1,000 jobs, building up to 1,500 homes and strengthening transport links for local businesses.

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York Council leader steps down

The Leader of York Council has quit to take up a job in the national Labour Party.

York Council leader steps down Credit: City of York Council

James Alexander led the council when it was widely criticised over the introduction of fines for drivers crossing Lendal Bridge.

In a statement he said:

Despite recently receiving unanimous support in the Labour Group to continue and a part of me wanting to go on, I cannot fully commit to another four years. My new policy role at the national Labour Party is an opportunity I could not turn down.

I am proud of what Labour has achieved under my leadership since 2011, to turn a city in stagnation onto the path to prosperity.

– James Alexander

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Proposals to raise minimum wage in Durham

Proposals are being discussed to raise the Durham Living Wage.

The changes would mean the lowest-paid workers at Durham County Council, such as lunchtime supervisors, caretakers, cleaners and school crossing patrols would receive at least £7.43 per hour, 93p more than the National Minimum Wage.

Concerns over busy hospitals

James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Staff at some North East hospitals say they have been exceptionally busy.

Bas Sen, a consultant working in A and E at the RVI hospital in Newcastle, says he has seen a 30% increase in total patient load.

There are also reports that the hospital had to delay transfers they would normally take from other hospitals.

He said: "We normally see about 300 patients a day, over the last two weekends we've seen over 400 patients a day."

Ben Sen in A&E at the RVI hospital Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

And there is a similar story at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, another of the region's major trauma centres.

Staff there put messages on Twitter and Facebook telling people not to go to A and E unless they really needed to.

Some patients had to be transferred to a hospital in North Yorkshire.

In a statement the trust that runs the hospital said that it did everything possible to minimise delays but that inevitably some patients did have to wait longer than usual. It also said only two patients had to be transferred from here at the James Cook to the Friarage in Northallerton.

But many say it proves local services should be bolstered, not downgraded.

"It's definitely getting worse. You've got two big hospitals, James Cook in Middlesbrough and the RVI in Newcastle. These are big hospitals, they are important in the local health economy and I know that other hospitals use these sites for referral of complicated cases. It's going to be down to lack of investment, lack of resource, it's the impact I suggest of 18 months of reorganisation of the NHS."

– Martin Wright, Unite

Cllr John Blackie, Richmondshire District Council

The Department of Health admits the NHS is experiencing unprecedented extra demand, and says it has given the NHS extra resources, along with plans to boost frontline services.

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