Thursday evening news briefing: Net migration hits record high

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Good evening. Concerns have been raised about a Tory manifesto pledge to bring down net migration after new figures were released today. We look in depth at the NHS crisis – and have the latest from Ukraine, where Russian troops are pictured firing a rocket towards Kyiv's positions. But, first, the headlines...

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

Migration | Net migration in the UK has hit a record high of 504,000 in the past year – surpassing levels even before Brexit. Data from the Office for National Statistics today showed the number rose from 173,000 in the year to June 2021. The increase stems from a surge in visas for foreign nationals and the arrival of Ukrainian and Afghan refugees. Home affairs editor Charles Hymas reports that it will raise concerns over the Government's manifesto pledge to bring down net migration. Writing for The Telegraph, Nigel Farage says the Tories "deserve to be wiped out".

The big story: True scale of remote GP appointments

For many patients, securing a GP appointment has become harder since lockdown. Anecdotally, getting one in person can be even trickier.

Now, practice-level data has been disclosed by the NHS for the first time. It reveals that a third of surgeries are doing more appointments remotely than face-to-face.

The figures show the number of in-person consultations held by every GP surgery in England. It follows calls from patients and ministers for practices to be held to account for failing to see patients face-to-face.

Of the 6,170 practices that submitted data, 2,008 are holding more remote than in-person appointments – 32.4pc. Before the pandemic, around 80pc of GP appointments were held in person.

Health correspondent Lizzie Roberts has our analysis.

The robot will see you soon?

As he prepares to slash the number of managers running NHS England by as much as half, Rishi Sunak has proffered a potential solution to the crisis engulfing the health service: Send in the robots.

The Prime Minister has vowed to "radically innovate", using new technology to deliver healthcare reforms that will challenge "conventional wisdom".

His suggestion conjures images of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator carrying patients into A&E, but experts say the reality is more prosaic – and ultimately more useful.

Improvements can be made in digital record keeping, appointment management and analysis of X-rays that could yield huge improvements.

Matt Oliver explores whether or not automation and technology can really heal the crumbling NHS.

The overhaul proposed by Mr Sunak comes at a critical time, with the NHS battling inflation, recruitment problems and an enormous patient backlog following the Covid crisis.

A record 7.1 million patients are waiting for procedures in England, up from 4.2 million before the pandemic.

This is contributing to the huge tally of 2.5 million people who are unable to work because of long-term sickness, which is acting as a drag anchor on economic growth.

Our NHS data tracker lets you check waiting times and death rates across England and at your local hospital.

Allison Pearson's 10-step plan

Few people who have sought NHS services in recent months will be unaware of its crisis. Columnist Allison Pearson receives emails every day from readers that bear out the health service's precarious state.

She writes: "The Government may think that, with only two years to a general election, it's safer not to rock the boat. On the contrary; the sinking Tories have very little to lose. Why not get the public onside and outline some immediate reforms?"

Read Allison's 10-point plan for saving the NHS from the abyss and have your say in the comments section.

Comment and analysis

World news: Russia sends paratroopers to front line

Depleted units of elite Russian paratroopers have been sent to Donbas after retreating from Kherson city. James Kilner reports that British intelligence said the airborne units – among the Kremlin's best soldiers – were being thrown back into battle despite being severely weakened after nine months of war. Meanwhile, a "bloodied" sledgehammer was sent to the European Parliament by Russia's Wagner Group mercenaries after MEPs started proceedings to label them as terrorists.

Thursday interview: 'White and male is how you're born – why should anyone have to answer for that?'

Robert Icke, the Wunderkind director of British theatre, talks to Fiona Mountford about the Arts Council's "destructive" cuts to British theatre – and why "cancel culture" is not what it seems. Read the interview

Robert Icke
Robert Icke

Business briefing: Twitter disbands Brussels office

Elon Musk has disbanded Twitter's entire office in Brussels after a row over the policing of the social network's content in the bloc. Two executives who left last week were the driving force in getting the company to comply with the EU's landmark Digital Services act. Meanwhile, property sales in America have tanked, affordability is at its worst level since 1985 and house prices have been falling since June. Melissa Lawford considers how Britain is likely to be hit.

Editor's choice

  1. Two writers debate | Should menopausal women get a free pass at work?

  2. It's a Wonderful Life | Exploring a wonderful reason to save English National Opera

  3. Princess of Wales | Meaning behind the jewellery worn for this week's state visit

Sport briefing: Fifa boss confronted over armbands

The Belgian foreign minister confronted Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president – before revealing she was wearing the banned OneLove armband during Belgium's World Cup victory over Canada. See pictures of her taking him to task. Ahead of England's match against the USA tomorrow, Jamie Carragher argues that the field in international football is wide open. And these are the predictions of Telegraph readers. Follow the latest in Qatar, as Portugal take on Ghana.

Tonight starts now

How to crack Black Friday | There are many events imported from the United States we Britons love to loathe: Hallowe'en, gender reveal parties and Black Friday, to name but three. The latter started with retailers offering a day of discounts and spread to the UK in 2010. Now it has morphed into a week-long consumer feeding frenzy where you are faced with a dizzying array of deals. So where – and what – should you shop to avoid getting reeled in by deals that turn out to be duds? Our guide explains how to not be fooled by spurious deals in this year's frenzy.

Three things for you

And finally... for this evening's downtime

Telegraph Christmas Charity Appeal | A quarter of people diagnosed with lung cancer have never touched tobacco in their lives. How can that be? Abigail Buchanan speaks to two women coming to terms with their terminal illness.

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