Leftist British PM accused of bowing to unions by freezing private companies out of NHS

Gordon Brown is facing a damaging rift with his party after slowing the pace of reform in the NHS, The Times has learnt. Private companies and charities are being frozen out of the NHS, prompting accusations that the Government has bowed to pressure from the unions. Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, is facing a Cabinet backlash, criticism from the former ministers John Hutton and Alan Milburn and attacks from the CBI and charity groups over proposals to limit outside involvement in the NHS.

The Department of Health will publish new guidelines shortly that limit private companies and charities to providing services not already offered or in areas where the existing NHS is failing. A draft obtained by The Times says: “Only if there was insufficient improvement within a reasonable timescale and the scale of under-performance was significant would the PCT [primary care trust] consider engaging with other potential providers or other solutions (eg, franchising).”

This is regarded as a dramatic shift from the policy set out by Alan Johnson when he was Health Secretary. His document, Necessity Not Nicety, suggested that primary care trusts should become more competitive and commercial, but Mr Burnham is understood to think that this unsettled the health service.

Mr Burnham’s change is regarded as a political manoeuvre, with both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats pledging to make it easier for outside organisations to provide work for the NHS. Civil servants have said privately that sections in the new guidelines referring to the NHS as the “preferred provider” have been pre-negotiated with unions and should be regarded as untouchable. Some NHS trusts are not waiting for the new guidance, though, and are already abandoning plans to use outside providers.

The move has caused tensions at Cabinet level, prompting a disagreement in one Cabinet sub-committee during which Mr Burnham was accused of going back on new Labour’s modernising agenda. Blairites suggest that attempts to “buy off” Unison and Unite, which together provided £6.6 million to Labour — around 30 per cent of its income — in the year to June, are damaging the party.

Documents uncovered by Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, suggest that Mr Burnham has met union representatives more than any other group since he became Health Secretary in June. The Department of Health is refusing to release the notes of one meeting that took place September, claiming that they are subject to “Chatham House” rules that secure anonymity. In a letter to Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, Mr Burnham appeared to acknowledge that TUC staff were involved in helping to draw up the policy by thanking them for their work.

“This is a perfect illustration of the corrupting influence of big money in politics,” Mr Lamb told The Times. “This move will undermine the efforts to improve efficiency and productivity in the NHS.”

Representatives of the NHS Confederation, CBI and Acevo, which represents charities, are still battling to water down the guidelines before publication, asking why the outside groups should only be be approached when the NHS has failed.

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said: “This is a clear breach of the Government’s manifesto promise that the third sector will be treated as an ‘equal partner’ in providing services.” Susan Anderson, CBI director of public services, said: “These are more designed to assuage the demands of trade unions than to meet the needs of patients.”

There is also tension within Labour, with concerns expressed by at least two Cabinet ministers and pressure on Lord Mandelson to overturn the shift on the grounds that it might break government competition guidelines and EU competition law.

Mr Hutton told The Times: “I would be concerned about any policy that turned the clock back because you can’t.” Mr Milburn has already attacked the plans, saying: “There should be no preferred provider. Quality should be the only yardstick, not the type of provider.”

Two former government advisers, professors Julian Le Grand and Paul Corrigan, have also criticised the move.

A spokeswoman for Mr Burnham denied that they were bowing to pressure from the unions. “When services are performing well, and we’ve invested a lot of money in them, why would you pull the rug from under the NHS and put services out to tender?”

She strongly denied any accusation that the party was doing the bidding of the unions, and said that the new rules could mean that outside providers received more work from the NHS rather than less. “We are not bound by either the unions or outside groups and we want to have a good relationship with all of them.”


Another cancer drug too dear for Britain: Bowel cancer victims denied life-prolonging care that’s free in Europe

Bowel cancer sufferers are to be denied a life-prolonging drug on the NHS which is available to patients across Europe and beyond. Trials show Avastin can extend life by almost two years. But the Government’s rationing body, Nice, says it is not cost-effective.

In what has been dubbed ‘passport prescribing’, Britain does not allow routine use of the drug while patients in virtually all other EU countries get the drug paid for. France, Germany, Italy and Scandinavian nations, as well as Australia and Canada, all meet the cost of treatment.

Around 35,000 Britons develop bowel cancer each year, of which 4,000-5,000 with advanced cancer could benefit from the drug. Avastin, also known as bevacizumab, costs around £18,000 for a course of ten months’ treatment given as intravenous infusion with chemotherapy. The price is similar to that in other countries.

But the complex formula used by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which looks at quality of life and overall cost effectiveness, says the annual cost is £36,000. This breaks the maximum limit set by Nice of £30,000 – a figure which has not changed in ten years despite inflation.

Although the manufacturer Roche devised a subsidy scheme to reduce an original Nice estimate from £62,000 in an attempt to get it approved, this was not good enough. Nice’s decision, which is preliminary, puts Britain in the same category as Latvia, Poland, Albania and Macedonia in not paying for sufferers to use the drug.

Last night patient groups and experts voiced their dismay. Kate Spall, of the Pamela Northcott Fund, which assists cancer patients denied new therapies, said: ‘This is another bad day for cancer patients and another good day for accountants.’

Professor Will Steward, of the Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine at Leicester University, also said he was disappointed. ‘Having Avastin would bring new hope to the many patients for whom this offers a proven increased chance of living longer with a better quality of life,’ he said.

Dr Rob Glynne Jones, chief medical adviser of the Bowel Cancer UK charity, called for Nice, the manufacturer and the Department of Health to find a compromise that would allow the drug to be used. ‘The clinical efficacy of bevacizumab and its benefit to patients with metastatic colorectal cancer is well proven,’ he said.

Patients waiting for a decision on Avastin are forced to plead for special funding from local health bodies or hope that a trial of the drug is running in their area.

Nice, which has been accused of spending more on spin than on evaluating drugs, has often been criticised for banning drugs from NHS use as too expensive. Last week it decided to reject NHS use of the liver cancer drug Nexavar, which gives patients six months’ extra life. The decision is being appealed.

It contrasts with the fast-tracking of the breast cancer drug Herceptin after pressure from patients and the intervention of the then Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt. Ironically, Avastin also treats breast cancer but its use on the NHS is in limbo until the bowel cancer issue is settled.

Last year Professor Mike Richards, the National Cancer Director, called for greater flexibility between Nice and the pharmaceutical industry to make more treatments available to cancer patients.

Bowel cancer patient Barbara Moss, 54, from Worcester, spoke at a Nice review last month about how Avastin had transformed her quality of life. She was given just five months to live when diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2006, but is convinced the drug has kept her alive and in remission. She fought to get back from the NHS almost £14,000 sent on ancillary care, but had to pay £9,000 for the drug itself. Yesterday she called on Nice to find a way to approve the use of the drug ‘so that thousands can benefit from the drug like I did while avoiding financial hardship’.

Avastin works by blocking the blood supply to the tumour, starving it of oxygen and nutrients. Once it has shrunk it can be surgically removed.

Dr Carole Longson, director of the health technology evaluation centre at Nice, said its decision was preliminary. While it recognised that the drug ‘may provide benefits in terms of clinical effectiveness’, it concluded that ‘the high cost of bevacizumab relative to the benefits it brings means that it is not a cost-effective use of NHS resources’.


British woman saw seven different government doctors but not ONE spotted her brain tumour

Diagnostic tests? Forget it! Sprinkle lavender oil on your pillow, she was told. She was even seen by a specialist but still no scan

When Nicole Witts complained to her GP about excruciating headaches she was told it was sinusitis. When, four months later, she asked why her arms were going into spasm she was told she probably had a trapped nerve. Over the course of five months, Nicole, 37, a mother of two, saw eight different doctors who came up with a range of diagnoses – including post-natal depression – but all of them failed to spot the truth: Nicole had a brain tumour.

By the time it was detected, in February 2008, the tumour was the size of an orange. Even then, doctors picked it up only because Nicole had had a massive fit and was rushed to hospital by ambulance. A brain scan revealed the tumour over her left ear.

‘When the doctor told me what they’d found, I thought: “Oh God, I’m going to die”,’ recalls Nicole. ‘I am not normally religious, but over the next few days I spent most of my time, when not in bed, in the hospital chapel. ‘I was so frightened – not for me, but for my kids, wondering how they would cope without their mum.’ Her daughters Megan and Ellen were then only four and eight months old

‘I had suspected for some months there was something wrong with me, but the way the various doctors had repeatedly dismissed me had left me wondering if I was going mad. ‘Yet despite the awful news, I was relieved to know that I hadn’t been imagining it all.’

With brain tumours, early diagnosis can be a matter of life and death. Around 16,000 people in the UK develop a primary brain tumour each year and around 3,500 people die as a result, often because the tumour is detected too late for it to be treated effectively.

Many of these are not cancerous – which can spread elsewhere; instead, they are benign growths that have formed around vital areas of the brain. But though ‘benign’, these growths can cause irreparable damage to blood vessels, causing bleeding in the brain, or a build-up of fluid, or exert pressure on vital parts that control nerves and signals.

No one knows what causes primary brain tumours. The symptoms vary according the tumour’s location. Although persistent headaches are the most well known – and the symptom that frightens patients most – they occur only in one in three cases. Nausea, balance problems, weakness in the limbs, pins and needles and concentration problems are among other possible symptoms. Tumours can also cause disturbance to vision, and are sometimes detected by opticians.

One of the most common symptoms is a fit, as in Nicole’s case. This occurs when the tumour applies pressure to sensitive areas of the brain, interrupting the electrical and chemical messages that pass between the brain cells.

Nicole believes hers would have been diagnosed more quickly if she had consistently seen the same GP during her visits. But she belongs to a large surgery with nine doctors, of whom she saw seven. She also saw a hospital ear, nose and throat specialist. ‘Each doctor I saw had a different theory about what was wrong with me. The range of possibilities they came up with was amazing. ‘If we still had the old fashioned practice, where you see only your own GP, I think my tumour would have been picked up sooner.’

Nicole’s experience is quite common. ‘We get a lot of calls about this,’ says Moira Dennison from Brain Tumour UK. ‘This lack of continuity of care means tumours aren’t picked up until later than they should be. ‘People see one GP and then another and then another and no one is putting all the information together that points to a brain tumour.’

It’s the system that is at fault, says Dr Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, not GP training. He explains that it’s designed so ‘patients can quickly get to see a doctor’, but this creates problems with lack of continuity of care. ‘If, as a doctor, you see a patient repeatedly you build up a rapport with someone and get to know them. Then, you would most probably pick up a problem earlier than if you saw someone on a one-off basis. ‘My advice is that if you have something persistent you should wait to see the doctor you saw before.

He adds: ‘Headaches are far more common than brain tumours and, if anything, doctors over-diagnose the possibility of brain tumours and so a lot of people who don’t have a brain tumour are referred for investigation.’ However, this was not the case for Nicole – indeed, at one point a GP laughed about her symptoms when she tried to make an appointment.

Nicole, from Leighton Buzzard, Beds, first went to see the doctor in August 2007 when she found her hearing had become muffled and she was hearing whirring noises in her head. ‘I didn’t have a clue what was causing it, but when I saw the doctor I tapped the side of my head where I now know the tumour was growing and said: “It feels as if there is something in there”,’ Nicole says. ‘However, the doctor thought it was sinusitis and gave me a nasal spray. I didn’t think it sounded right – I didn’t even have a runny nose. ‘I used the spray for two weeks with no joy, so another doctor referred me to hospital because my hearing was still muffled.

‘I was seen by an ear, nose and throat specialist who thought I had an infection that had caused a build-up of fluid behind the ear – and suggested I have an operation to have a grommet (a small plastic tube) to drain the fluid. ‘I had that done and it did partially improve the muffled sensation, though no one is sure why.

‘However, by the autumn I began to get headaches which were so severe I could hardly put my ear on the pillow at night. They were crippling. Later, I found out this was because the tumour was putting undue pressure on certain areas. ‘However, when I went back to the surgery – and saw yet another GP – he thought it was maybe due to stress and suggested I try sprinkling lavender oil on my pillow to help. ‘Looking back, it is laughable, but we are programmed to accept what doctors tell us and so I did.’ ….

Nicole needed major surgery to remove the tumour and had to be transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in North London. ‘The surgeon told me the tumour was almost certainly benign, but it was huge and would need a nine-hour operation to remove it,’ says Nicole. ‘I was relieved it wasn’t cancerous, but I was still really worried. ‘He told me if I didn’t have it removed then I would be dead within six months – because although it was benign, it would cut off the blood supply or cause bleeding. The surgery had a one per cent risk of death and a five per cent risk of paralysis, but I knew there was no alternative.’

Nicole had the operation on March 14 last year. ‘The surgeon came to see me afterwards and he was really excited because he had managed to get all the tumour out. ‘It was a huge relief. Gary was there and I instantly recognised him. He was so relieved, not just that I had come through the operation, but also that I was still “me”.’ A week later, though still very fragile, Nicole was allowed out of hospital.

‘There is a 30 per cent chance that the tumour will return. I will have to have an annual MRI scan for five years, but I prefer to think of it as there being a 70 per cent chance that it is gone for good.’

Meanwhile, Nicole is still living with the consequences of her late diagnosis. Her short-term memory has been affected because the tumour damaged the part of the brain which is responsible.

More here

Warmist pseudo-scientists admit that the hacked CRU emails are genuine

A leading climate change scientist whose private e-mails are included in thousands of documents that were stolen by hackers and posted online said the leaks may have been aimed at undermining next month’s global climate summit in Denmark.

Kevin Trenberth, of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Colorado, said he believes the hackers who stole a decade’s worth of correspondence from a British university’s computer server deliberately distributed only those documents that could help attempts by skeptics to undermine the scientific consensus on man-made climate change. Trenberth, a well respected atmospheric scientist, said it did not appear that all the documents stolen from the university had been distributed on the internet by the hackers.

The University of East Anglia, in eastern England, said hackers last week stole from its computer server about a decade’s worth of data from its Climatic Research Unit, a leading global research center on climate change. About 1000 e-mails and 3000 documents have been posted on websites and seized on by climate change sceptics, who claim correspondence shows collusion between scientists to overstate the case for global warming, and evidence that some have manipulated evidence.

“It is right before the Copenhagen debate, I’m sure that is not a coincidence,” Trenberth said in a telephone interview from Colorado.

At least 65 world leaders will attend the Copenhagen climate summit in December as representatives of 191 nations seek agreement on a new global treaty on limiting emissions of greenhouse gases.

Trenberth, a lead author on the 2001 and 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments, said he had found 102 of his own e-mails posted online. “I personally feel violated,” he said. “I’m appalled at the very selective use of the e-mails, and the fact they’ve been taken out of context.”

In one of the stolen e-mails, Trenberth is quoted as saying “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” He said the comment is presented by sceptics as evidence scientists can’t explain some trends that appear to contradict their stance on climate change. Trenberth explained his phrase was actually contained in a paper he wrote about the need for better monitoring of global warming to explain the anomalies — in particular improved recording of rising sea surface temperatures.

In another e-mail posted online, and unrelated to Trenberth, the British research centre’s director, Phil Jones, wrote that he had used a “trick” to “hide the decline” in a chart detailing recent global temperatures. Jones has denied manipulating evidence and insisted his comment had been misunderstood. He said in a statement Saturday that he’d used the word trick “as in a clever thing to do.”

Trenberth acknowledged that language used by some colleagues in the hacked e-mails “looks awkward at best,” particularly messages which criticise climate change sceptics.


BBC sat on the hacked emails for over a month

By Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate correspondent for BBC Look North in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

Very busy with forecast duties right now, but I do intend to write a blog regarding the UK Climate research centre (CRU) being hacked into, and the possible implications of this very serious affair.

I will add comment on this page as soon as I can free up some time. But I will in the meantime answer the question regarding the chain of e-mails which you have been commenting about on my blog, which can be seen here, and whether they are genuine or part of an elaborate hoax.

I was forwarded the chain of e-mails on the 12th October, which are comments from some of the worlds leading climate scientists written as a direct result of my article ‘whatever happened to global warming’. The e-mails released on the internet as a result of CRU being hacked into are identical to the ones I was forwarded and read at the time and so, as far as l can see, they are authentic.


Lord Lawson Calls For Public Inquiry Into CRU Data Affair

In response to recent revelations contained in leaked e-mails originating from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, Lord Lawson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the GWPF, has called for a rigorous and independent inquiry into the matter. While reserving judgment on the contents of the e-mails, Lord Lawson said these are very serious issues and allegations that reach to the heart of scientific integrity and credibility:

“Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals.”

“There may be a perfectly innocent explanation. But what is clear is that the integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British Government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question. And the reputation of British science has been seriously tarnished. A high-level independent inquiry must be set up without delay.”

Lord Lawson added: “Since the CRU is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is part of the University of East Anglia, we call on Edmund Wallis, the chairman of the NERC and Brandon Gough, the Chancellor of the UEA, to jointly commission an independent inquiry into the revelations, including, of course, their veracity.”

Professsor David Henderson, the Chairman of the Academic Advisory Council of the GWPF said: “The evolution of climate policies needs to be linked to a process of inquiry, review and advice that is more open, thorough, balanced and objective than is now the case. This is the mission of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.”


Some experiences of a British government school

“The summer term was a period of handover between the outgoing head teacher and her replacement. Just after half term, word reached us that the new head would come to the next PTA meeting. This was very exciting but, unfortunately, an appointment at work meant that I couldn’t make it. Still, I raced up to the chair of the PTA at the drop off the next morning: “How did it go? What’s she like?” I wanted to know, all puppyish enthusiasm and excitement.

The chairwoman looked gloomy. “It didn’t go great,” she admitted. “She was kind of… aggressive”. What had apparently happened was less than encouraging. The new head had started by telling us how much the teachers disliked us and harangued the committee for planning the school fayre on a Saturday . “The teachers are really fed up about that, that’s their day off, you know,” she was reported to have said. Well, yes, we do know, it’s our day off too. She finished by telling them that she didn’t understand why “you lot” had to meet in the school at all and said that in the future she would prefer it if we just went to a coffee shop instead.

“She was quite negative,” said another parent who was there with remarkable understatement.

“But… but… she’s new, why’s she being like this?” I stuttered. I had had five months of fantasising about how the new head was going to wave a wand and make everything alright; I had spent weeks imagining an era of co-operation, of raised standards, of enthusiasm, of openness, of light where there had been dark.

Perhaps we should have known better: although this had been the first formal meeting with the head and there had been clues that all might not be well. When the PTA secretary had asked at the office for the school’s constitution number (necessary in order for us to get raffle tickets printed in advance – who knew there would be so much red tape?), the new head had made excuses and sent her away empty-handed. When we discovered hundreds of expired Sainsbury’s Get Active vouchers, gathering dust in a box, the party line was that it was no one’s fault – except possibly the PTA’s. “We didn’t even exist then” seemed to cut no ice with the top brass.

We were committed to having the school fayre but I can’t say that anyone wanted it to happen – certainly not for the right reasons anyway. The teachers obviously didn’t want to be there and, it was rumoured, had been told to boycott it; the PTA would have backed out of running it altogether if there had been a face-saving way to do that. Instead, it was set to be a fete of attrition. The school wouldn’t ban the fayre but they certainly weren’t going to help: any equipment we asked to borrow, we were told was either lost, broken or had never been there in the first place.

So, on the first cloud-strewn day of the summer, we turned up at the bunting-swagged playground and set up our stalls: parents, parents of parents, uncles, aunts, friends, the odd governor and, much to our astonishment, the outgoing head, her deputy and one other teacher. Oh, and the caretaker. “Looks like rain,” he said, as cheerful as I had ever seen him. “Those gazebos are going to be blown right over if this wind picks up,” he added shaking his head gleefully.

“Why are you so happy about that?” asked one of the helpers. “I’m just saying,” he snapped, stalking off towards the tombola to snatch the gaffer tape from someone trying to stick up a sign (“That costs twelve quid a roll!”).

A slow trickle of parents started to arrive, politely buying cakes, burgers, tickets for the bottle stall and asking, equally politely, where all the teachers were. We shrugged and mumbled. The people who came seemed to enjoy themselves; the children whooping round, boing-ing about on the bouncy castle (“Why didn’t you just borrow the school’s one?” asked one ex-governor innocently), throwing wet sponges at each other in the absence of any teachers willing to go in our newly-built stocks.

Two hours later, we knew the event had come to a close when the caretaker returned and tipped the water out of the “Pluck a Duck” paddling pool (while one puzzled child was still mid-pluck) barking: “Go home!” We poured the takings onto four pushed-together desks and counted: £2,000!. We added up the outgoings – £1,000!

Still, not a bad profit, it had to be worth a few skipping ropes, maybe even some monkey bars or a swing set. We asked the new head to meet us, the following week so we could choose some equipment with her. She was too busy. The week after? The same. The week after? It became obvious that no meeting was going to take place. The chair of the PTA spoke to the “playground co-ordinator” and asked if we could have the telephone number of her equipment suppliers so we could see, at least theoretically, what our money could buy. No, we couldn’t. It was the end of the term, the end of the school year and although we had raised money, we had achieved precisely nothing.

I hate my daughter’s school, I really hate it. I hate it not simply because it is a low-achieving island in a sea of success. A year ago I would have put its failings at least partly down to a lack of interest by the parents of children there – a stupid, snobbish assumption, I admit. The school may be failing the pupils there in a thousand tiny ways but I haven’t met a single parent who doesn’t care about their child’s education. Teachers don’t get an easy press and a lot of the complaints hurled at them are unfair but at schools such as my daughter’s, I can’t help feeling that they have switched off, that “it’ll do” is good enough; that the children are seen as almost getting in the way of their jobs. As the outgoing head said to me at one stage with a rueful sigh: “The problem is we have so many children where English isn’t spoken at home. You can get them up to a reading age of eight but, after that, there’s not much you can do.”

Over the summer holidays, the PTA chair decided to emigrate – “I’m not saying it’s all about the school but, yeah, that’s a major part of our decision”. The rest of us check our positions on waiting lists at other schools on a weekly basis and make plans to move. And in the meantime we hope, really, really hope that things will change.


More negligence from British child protection authority

Takes refuge in secrecy

A boy of two was allowed to remain in the care of a blind 82-year-old widow by the council involved in the tragedy of Baby P. Social workers from Haringey said the child was ‘thriving’ with the frail pensioner, who had once fostered his mother.

But the widow’s family accuse the North London council of ignoring a series of warnings that she was too old to cope. They claim it failed to act even when the tiny, six-stone [84 lb.] great-grandmother collapsed from exhaustion after caring for the child for almost two months.

She died this month after falling down stairs at her home, where she lived alone with the child. Doctors believe she lay unconscious and bleeding for up to six hours until the boy answered the phone to one of her friends and could not pass it to his ‘Nanny’. Her angry relatives said they believed the Labour-run council was to blame for the tragedy.

The council says it wanted to take the child away from the widow and instigated emergency care proceedings. However, the child was under its supervision for 18 months before the case came to court and the family feel that Haringey is guilty of dragging its feet. Her son said: ‘Social workers came to her house, they saw how old and frail she was, but they went away and did nothing. ‘She was too old to cope with a child that age but she was too proud to say she couldn’t manage.’

The events unfolded in the aftermath of 17-month- old Baby P’s death following appalling abuse from his mother, her boyfriend and her lodger, who are all in prison. Haringey was already under intense scrutiny for its failures over the murder of eight-year-old torture victim Victoria Climbie in 2000. It has apologised for its failures over the death of Baby P, who can now be named as Peter Connelly after anonymity was lifted in the case, and dismissed five officials over the scandal.

But when the Daily Mail contacted the under-fire council over the death of the pensioner, its officials sought an emergency court order to stop details of the case being made public. The High Court order prevents us from naming the child or the pensioner….

The tragic case is made all the more extraordinary by the plight of countless grandparents who have been told they are too old to foster their own grandchildren. This year social workers decided to rehome two children with a gay couple after their mother’s parents were judged ‘too old’ to care for them. Edinburgh Council took the decision even though the couple, aged 59 and 46, had cared for the boy and girl while their daughter fought a heroin addiction.


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