Government plans to boost the number of trainee nurses are failing – with Ucas figures revealing a second decline in applications this year, nursing leaders have warned.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that five years after the Francis Report blamed unsafe nurse levels for poor care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, the Government has “squandered” the opportunity to address the issue.

It warned that without better incentives to attract new nurses, similar care failings will become more likely.

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Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has called for a new “ring-fenced” tax specifically to pay for the NHS and social care.

The new levy – which could replace national insurance – forms the central recommendation of an expert report commissioned by the Lib Dems on future healthcare funding in England.

Launching the document, Sir Vince – who has faced criticism for a lack of policy initiatives since becoming leader last year – said there was growing recognition that healthcare needed a protected funding stream.

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Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong has been given a two-and-a-half-year suspended jail sentence by a South Korean appeal court in a corruption case seen as a test of the country’s commitment to ending cosy ties between political and business elites.

Lee, the only son of Samsung’s ailing chairman, had been sentenced to five years in prison last August after being convicted of bribery and other crimes linked to a political scandal that took down former South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

The Samsung vice chairman pleaded not guilty to charges that he used Samsung corporate funds to bribe Ms Park and a confidante, seeking to consolidate his control over Samsung and facilitate a smooth transfer of corporate leadership from his father.

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