Man who inspired Government cancer pledge is refused NHS treatment
In many cases you have to beg for treatment in Britain
A cancer sufferer who inspired David Cameron to promise a £200m fund so patients could no longer be denied drugs on cost grounds has been refused NHS treatment.
Clive Stone so impressed Mr Cameron with his battle to improve access to NHS treatment for cancer that the Conservative leader announced the pledge from the retired bank manager’s home, during last year’s general election campaign.
On Wednesday, Mr Stone, who suffers from liver cancer, and lives in the Prime Minister’s Witney constituency, will go to Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE for services to cancer patients. But on Friday he learned that his own plea for NHS treatment to remove a tumour in his brain has been rejected.
On Wednesday, the same day Mr Stone travels to London to be honoured by the Queen for his contribution to cancer care, health bosses will consider a bid to fund his case as an “exceptional” case.
Since being diagnosed with kidney cancer three years ago, Mr Stone, 63, has undergone nine operations to remove tumours, which have now spread to his brain.
Two of those tumours have been removed, but surgeons have said the only way they can remove the remaining one is to use Gamma Knife treatment, which does less damage to surrounding tissues than conventional surgery. But Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) says it does not routinely fund the operations, and the Government pledge pay for all cancer drugs requested by an NHS consultant does not cover treatments other than medication.
Mr Stone, whose wife Jan suffers from advanced breast cancer, said he felt “angry and desperate” that despite his fight to improve treatment for cancer patients, he was now facing another battle.
His campaign group Justice for Kidney Patients has brought hundreds of patients to meet drug rationing bosses, and battled in parliament.
Mr Stone said: “David Cameron was sitting on my sofa when he announced the cancer drugs fund. I felt very emotional to hear his words; it offered so much hope to people with cancer. I remember on that day, in April of last year, I said to him, ‘Don’t let us down’. “I can’t believe that on the one hand the Government is thanking me for services to cancer patients, but meanwhile the NHS is prepared to refuse me the only treatment that can help me.”
Mr Stone said he felt angry that despite Government pledges to help cancer sufferers, local NHS administrators across the country were routinely blocking requests for many types of treatment.
He said: “At the moment my consultants have to prove that I am exceptional, that I deserve a chance more than anyone else does. That is not what I want: what I want is for the NHS to give all of us a fair chance.”
A spokesman for Oxfordshire PCT said: “When we are presented with a treatment request which is not routine it is normal practice to have it considered by an exceptional cases panel. “This serves to both assess its clinical appropriateness and funding. Mr Stone’s case will be given full consideration at the meeting this week.”
‘Unruly’ British school suspends its headteacher after 70 teachers went on strike
A headteacher has been suspended after her staff went on strike, claiming that she would not help them crack down on unruly pupils.
Seventy teachers brandished placards and picketed the gates at Darwen Vale High School in Darwen, Lancashire, on April 7. They were angered by an alleged ‘lack of backing’ from head Hilary Torpey, 52, when they had to confront wild pupils.
Pupils frequently challenge teachers to fights, push and shove them in the corridors and classrooms and are constantly swearing and insulting them. But teachers said that when they take the matters to the headteacher she often sides with the pupils instead of staff.
Complaints were also made about pupils having filmed teachers on mobile phones and posted clips online. They claim that when teachers have confiscated the phones, they have been returned by the school’s management – leaving them ‘totally undermined’.
The strike followed an announcement by Education Secretary Michael Gove of a new crackdown on ill-discipline in class.
Now governors have suspended Ms Torpey. A statement – with spelling mistakes – was issued by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council on behalf of governors’ chairman Don Heatlie-Jackson, saying that there would be ‘a full and proper investigation’.
Simon Jones, of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘Intense negotiations have been taking place with senior local authority officers and the chairman of governors.
‘Considerable progress has been made towards agreeing strategies that should lead to the resolution of this dispute.’
The rise and rise of a pity-for-Osama lobby — mainly in Britain
The chattering classes’ ‘uncomfortable feeling’ with the killing of bin Laden is underpinned more by moral cowardice than political principle. How did ‘I hate bin Laden and I’m glad he’s dead’ become the most shocking thing one can say in polite society?
This week we have shuttled from an atmosphere of congratulation, even muted celebration, over the killing of OBL to what Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and High Priest of the Chattering Classes, describes as a ‘very uncomfortable feeling’ about the killing of OBL. Those who dare to celebrate his death – mainly young American jocks – have been denounced as ‘abhorrent’ and ‘sickening’, and now the main way you advertise your decency, your membership of the civilised, upstanding, oh-so-unAmerican classes, is by wondering out loud if poor old OBL shouldn’t have been arrested and put on trial rather than having a bullet planted in his head.
This pity-for-Osama lobby, this bishop-led congregation of ‘uncomfortable’ moral handwringers, might pose as radical, denouncing America’s military action in bin Laden’s compound as ‘Wild West-style vengeance’. Yet in truth it is fuelled by self-loathing more than justice-loving. These critics are not opposed to Western intervention in principle – indeed, most of them have demanded ‘humanitarian’, political or legalistic intervention in other states’ affairs at one point or another. No, it is a discomfort with decisive action, a fear of what such action might lead to in the future, and a belief that people in the West should douse their emotional zeal and learn to be more meek, which motors the creepingly conformist anti-Obama and pro-Osama (well, almost) brigade. There is little, if anything, in this outburst of concerned liberal moralism that is worth backing.
The most striking thing was the speed with which the great and the good of the Western liberal elite sought to distance themselves from those vulgar, excitable Yanks and to express a more erudite and PC view of OBL’s demise. Barely 24 hours had passed since the dumping of bin Laden’s body in the sea before observers were describing President Obama as a ‘mobster’. ‘Are we gangsters or a Western democracy based on the rule of law?’, asked has-been mayor (and wannabe mayor) Ken Livingstone, who is so used to doing politics in the rarefied environs of London’s mayoral office that he doesn’t realise that the rule of law might not be so neatly applied during a shoot-out in a compound in Pakistan. Elsewhere the killing of bin Laden has already been described as a ‘war crime’ (isn’t everything these days?) while human rights campaigners say it would have been a better advert for Western values if justice against OBL had come ‘from a legitimate court of law rather than the end of gun’.
It didn’t take long for these apparently decent lovers of justice over violence to expose their real fears: that the sight of a few young Americans chanting ‘U-S-A!’ in response to OBL’s death might invite even more Islamist retribution upon us. One writer described this ‘frat boy reaction’ as ‘abhorrent’ – it is ‘sickening’, she said, and, more revealingly, it has ‘no dignity’. A British columnist said the anti-OBL shindigs were the products of a ‘patriotic reflex’ – that is, a nationalist kneejerkism amongst America’s unthinking classes – which is apparently ‘intense and pervasive’. In response to the chant of ‘We killed bin Laden!’, the columnist said: ‘If “they” killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, then “they” also bombed a large number of wedding parties in Afghanistan, “they” murdered 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha and “they” gang-raped a 14-year-old before murdering her, her six-year-old sister and their parents near Mahmudiyah.’ Yep, that’s right – if you celebrate the killing of OBL then you are also implicitly celebrating American atrocities overseas, including rape. Gang-rape-loving dunderheads.
The most telling phrase in that article was ‘they’, which was used again and again, always in quote marks, to refer to ordinary Americans. Because much of the ‘uncomfortable feeling’ over the killing of bin Laden is really an ‘uncomfortable feeling’ with, if not outright disgust for, ‘them’, the people who make up America, and for the ideals of modern America itself. This is ‘very much the American style’, sniffed Livingstone about the anti-OBL get-togethers (which, by the way, were only relatively small, party-style expressions of a fleeting emotion). Other commentators have said that they ‘recoiled’ at the ‘gloating that Americans went in for’. Behind the high-falutin’ expressions of passion for justice over shoot-to-kill, much of the pity-for-Osama lobby is really concerned with expressing its moral superiority over apparently vengeful Americans. Where ‘them’ Yanks still have an attachment to nationalism and war, ‘we’ Europeans are post-nationalist, cosmopolitan, empathetic rather than vengeful, and are far more comfortable with having a man in a wig rather than a man with a gun sort out our moral and political problems.
Of course, such anti-Americanism is not confined to Europe. As we have seen in the 10 years since 9/11 it is rife within America itself, where the better-educated classes have long had an ‘uncomfortable feeling’ in relation to the antics and emotions of the American masses. And so it was that Time magazine, in keeping with the modern trend for explaining away every emotion as a product of evolution or of involuntary brain activity, said that human beings are ‘wired to perceive the punishment of rule-violators as rewarding’. In seeking to explain the appearance of frat boys outside the White House, Time cited scientific research showing that ‘when people witnessed snitches receiving painful electric shocks, the pleasure regions of their brains were activated (but only in men)’. Of course, some people – not ‘them’, but ‘us’ – are immune to this hardwired desire for vengeance and can rise above it to express a more considered ‘uncomfortable feeling’ with OBL’s death.
This is an explicit attempt to delegitimise the political and moral response of some American people to the killing of bin Laden. Their joy seems so alien to the better-minded classes that it can only possibly be explained as a ‘reflex’, an unfortunate ‘evolutionary trait’. It has ‘no dignity’, we are told, but rather springs from a base and instinctive ‘human taste for vengeance’. It is extraordinary, and revealing, how quickly the expression of concern about the use of American force in Pakistan became an expression of values superiority over the American people. The modern chattering classes are so utterly removed from the mass of the population, so profoundly disconnected from ‘ordinary people’ and their ‘ordinary thoughts’, that they effectively see happy Americans as a more alien and unusual thing than Osama bin Laden. Where OBL wins their empathy, American jocks receive only their bile.
There is nothing principled or properly anti-imperialist in the speedily rising critique of the killing of OBL. Indeed, many of those currently attacking Obama would have preferred it if bin Laden had ended up in one of the international courts, which themselves are political theatres for the expression of Western superiority over foreign peoples (usually black ones). If Obama’s troops really did mete out ‘military vengeance’ against someone they judged to be evil, then these courts continually serve up ‘legal vengeance’ against people judged to be war criminals. Also, it is striking that many of the critics of Obama express concern about the alleged emotions behind American militarism – vengeance, Wild West fury, a lack of basic decency – rather than being concerned about the moral question of whether America should have the right to intervene in other states. It’s the sentiment they hate, more than the use of military force overseas per se.
No, the now widespread ‘uncomfortable feeling’ with the shooting of bin Laden is really an expression of moral reluctance, even of moral cowardice, a desire to avoid taking any decisive action or expressing any firm emotion that might have some blowback consequences for us over here. It is the politics of risk aversion rather than the politics of anti-imperialism, the same degraded sentiment that fuelled the narcissistic ‘Not in my name’ response to the Iraq War in 2003.
So these critics fret that the killing of bin Laden, and the ‘scenes of jubilation’ it gave rise to, might heighten the threat of another terror attack. Watching Americans celebrate OBL’s death, Ken Livingstone said: ‘I realised that it would increase the likelihood of a terror attack on London.’ This is really a call to elevate precaution over action, meekness over passionate political feeling, staying at home over taking risks, all in the name of protecting ourselves from any possible future action by a hot-headed Islamist. In this sense, the disdain for America and its people is really an expression of angst about what America is perceived to represent: confidence, cockiness, self-possession, a willingness to take risks (little of which is actually accurate). The post-OBL ‘uncomfortable feeling’ is really a quite craven sentiment, a fear-fuelled desire for self-preservation over anything else, which is dolled up as a principled critique of American militarism.
Look, if you want to have a real debate about Western intervention in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, bring it on. spiked bows to no one in the implacability of our principled opposition to foreign meddling in other states’ affairs. But if you want to tell me that bin Laden was treated badly, and that the allegedly morally unhinged reaction to his death might invite more terror upon us, then I have only one thing to say: ‘F*ck bin Laden.’
Only one-quarter of Britons think risks of climate change outweigh the benefits
The private think-tank Ipsos recently surveyed more than 2,000 Britons aged 16 and above about their attitudes toward science. A news release about the survey findings says nothing about climate change.
But if you actually dig into the topline results there’s a startling finding with regard to climate change. I’m speaking of question Q11F, which asked respondents: From what you know or have heard about climate change, which of these statements, if any, most closely reflects your own opinion?
The following table shows the results of the survey (middle column) along with results of a similar question asked in 2004-2005 (far-right).
Let’s break that down. In the middle of the number of respondents believed the risks of climate change outweighed the benefits by a considerably more than three-to-one margin.
Fast forward to today. In Britain more people believe the benefits of climate change outweigh the risks than believe the risks outweigh the benefits. In fact, only about one-quarter of respondents seem to think the risks of climate change outweigh the benefits.
For more fun, check out the response to question Q10K, in which 75 percent of respondents deemed themselves as “very well” or “fairly well” informed about climate change. That was higher than every other scientific category measured, including vaccinations (74 percent), nuclear power (45 percent) and clinical trials (33 percent).
Now let’s say you’re a scientist concerned about climate change. (Despite what you may have read, a lot of them really are). Here’s the challenge you’re facing: Not only does the public not presently believe you, but 75 percent of them think they already know enough about the issue to not need any further lecturing from you, thank you very much.
It’s an overwhelming science communication challenge. Geoscientist Michael Oppenheimer recently offered some sage advice to colleagues considering the roles scientists can play in the public discourse of climate change. It’s worth a read.