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Winter deaths 'highest since 1999'

There were an estimated 43,900 excess winter deaths across England and Wales in 2014 - the highest number since 1999.

extra deaths across England and Wales in winter 2014.

The number of excess deaths was a jump of 151% on the previous winter, and the biggest year-on-year rise since 1967/68.

The majority of deaths occurred in people aged 75 or over, and respiratory diseases were the underlying cause of death in more than a third of cases, the figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

Excess winter deaths are defined by the ONS as the number of people whose deaths were registered between December and March, compared with the numbers for the previous three months and the following three months.

Ambulance service exceeds time target following changes

The Welsh Ambulance Service has exceeded its time target for responding to life-threatening emergencies following changes to the service.

Figures for October show 68.7% emergency calls were responded to within eight minutes - the target is 65% - with the average response time five minutes and 44 seconds.

Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The service has repeatedly come under fire for missing its targets, and earlier this year it was announced that the target response time for non-life-threatening cases would be dropped as part of a year-long pilot.

Ambulance crews still aim to respond to immediately life-threatening conditions, such as a heart attack, within eight minutes.

Deputy health minister Vaughan Gething said today's figures show the new system is working.


Plans to improve standards for 'vulnerable and disadvantaged learners'

The Education Minister, Huw Lewis is expected to set out plans to improve the fortunes of some of Wales' most vulnerable and disadvantaged learners later today.

Credit: PA

A National Pupil Referral Unit conference will be held in Cardiff.

The Welsh Government plans to draw up a new framework for improving provision for vulnerable learners that focuses on six areas; leadership, accountability, resources, structure, well-being and outcomes.

Speaking ahead of the conference the Minister said:

Pupil Referral Units (PRU) can provide an opportunity for some of our most vulnerable young people to get back on track, both emotionally and educationally.

For many young people the PRU might be their last chance of formal learning so it is vital that we ensure the experience is both enriching and positive.

We know that provision in some PRUs delivers exactly that, but in others the experience is less positive and this is not acceptable. The evidence cries out for a fresh and strategic approach.

– Education Minister, Huw Lewis

New factory to provide 260 jobs for Oakdale

The company's Cwmbran factory will reach full capacity in 2016. Credit: Google Maps

The Welsh Government says 260 jobs are set for Oakdale.

IG Doors is to build a new factory on a 25 acre site with support from the Welsh Government.

The company supplies the house building industry with external doors.

Its existing facility in Cwmbran will reach full capacity by next year and the option was either to move manufacturing to a plant with spare capacity in Europe - or invest in a new site in Wales.

I am really delighted to be able to make the announcement that IG Doors, through significant investment from its owners Hörmann Group is set to develop a new 25 acre site at Oakdale in Caerphilly.

– Mark Pulman, Managing Director

Report into electrification problems to be published

A report into the electrification problems affecting the line between south Wales and London will be published later.

The report will outline how long the electrification process will take. Credit: Hitachi

Electrification of the line between London Paddington and Cardiff was due to be completed by May 2017, with that extended to Swansea the following year.

But the cost has tripled from the original estimate of £874m to as much as£2.8bn. The project is also running behind schedule.

Earlier this month MPs raised concerns over the rising cost of the project.

The Network Rail report is now expected to reveal how long the project will take and will be published along with new timescales of developments.

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