News The scene outside Shenfield station this morning, after a 44-year-old City worker was shot in the leg on his way into London

Police are appealing for witnesses after a balaclava-wearing gunman fled from the scene

'Good' hospitals failing safety standards

A dozen hospitals are "significantly underperforming" basic safety measures despite nine of them being rated good or excellent by the official health regulator, a report said today, sparking a fierce argument over the accuracy of inspection regimes.

Chairman fired as another NHS trust is censured

Up to eight more hospitals under investigation after damning report reveals unacceptable death rate at Colchester hospital

Leading article: A healthy increase in transparency

This is proving to be an annus horribilis for the NHS. First Stafford, then Basildon, now Colchester – all elite foundation hospitals found to be failing and putting patients at risk, costing hundreds of lives. The negative headlines that had dramatically diminished during the golden years of Labour's NHS spending bonanza are back: "Failing hospital", "shocking death toll", "wards of shame".

How can we choose a hospital if the ratings prove to be so wrong?

Jeremy Laurance explains the far-reaching consequences of yesterday's damning appraisal of Basildon NHS Trust

Shocking death toll at flagship hospital

October: NHS trust is rated 'good' in glowing report by watchdog <br />Now: Catalogue of failings in care and hygiene is revealed

Txting: The gr8 db8, By David Crystal

The prolific populariser of linguistics David Crystal strikes again, this time with a readable and informative account of the phenomenon of texting. And what a phenomenon it is: a decade ago, texting was virtually unknown; by 2010 some 2.4 trillion texts will be sent globally.

Give your seal of approval to the royal county

British breaks - Berkshire

Basildon Peta: Our nation will be changed forever

England's qualification to the World Cup may have been celebrated at Wembley, but not everyone in South Africa agrees. Take my friend Morne Piennar.

Abattoir to pay &pound;33,000 for pollution

An abattoir which supplies meat to high street stores was ordered to pay more than £33,000 today for pumping too much waste into a waterway.

Phil King: Who says blondes have more fun?

Okay, so realistically the audiences for Denise van Outen's one-woman musical Basildon Blonde will beat my show Killing Alan for audience numbers, revenue and will be more heavily Googled.

Essex patient becomes the first 'healthy' Briton to die of swine flu

Victim had no underlying medical problems

Pupil power: How children are joining adults to fight academies

Some academies are doing well, but parents, pupils and unions are fighting their introduction &ndash; with suprising success. But are ministers helping them enough?

Visteon files for bankruptcy protection in the US

Visteon Corp today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for its operations in the US, less than two months after putting its UK operation into administration.

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Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

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