Postcode for kidney patients in getting on transplant list: research
Kidney patients needing a transplant are be facing a postcode lottery to even get onto the waiting list for a donor organ, research has found. A study has found large differences in the proportion of people put on the waiting list for a transplant when they begin kidney dialysis.
In some areas a quarter of patients are put on the waiting list within two years of starting their kidney dialysis treatment, as their own organs begin to fail. But in others more than two thirds are on the list within two years.
This could not be explained by differences in the severity of illness, the study published online in the British Medical Journal found. Once on the list the allocation of organs is decided nationally in order of need.
The average waiting time for an adult kidney transplant is 841 days but many people die before they receive an organ. Children, who are prioritised, wait an average of 164 days. There are currently 6,865 adults and 111 children on the UK waiting list for a kidney transplant.
The study from conducted by UK Renal Registry and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), based in Bristol, studied 16,202 dialysis patients from 65 renal centres across the UK. The study also found significant variation between centres on times for inclusion on the national transplant waiting list.
Time to get on the list is important because patients who are put on earlier tend to receive a transplant quicker than those listed later on. Those patients aged 18 to 29 were most likely to get on the list, with levels falling as patients got older.
People from ethnic minorities were also less likely to get on the list, as were those with diabetes.
Lead author Rommel Ravanan, Consultant Nephrologist, at the Richard Bright Renal Unit, Southmead Hospital, in Bristol, said “significant inter-centre differences should not exist in the time taken to activate suitable patients for transplantation or in receipt of a transplant once on the waiting list”.
The gap that most epidemiologists ignore
This is from Britain but there are similar gaps in Australia and the USA too. Thinking that it can be closed is laughable. Just for starters, illness can make you poor. And there are behavioural differences between the rich and poor which affect health
THE gulf between the health of the rich and the poor is greater now than at any time since the 1920s, a damning report has found.
It cast serious doubt on the effectiveness of Labour’s multi-billion pound projects which were designed to close the divide. Instead the gap has steadily increased, the study found.
People living in less affluent areas are twice as likely to die young than the rest of the population and have much lower life expectancy.
The study found that in 2007 for every 100 people under the age of 65 dying in middle class or wealthy households, 199 were dying in the poorest – double the rate.
Researchers based at the universities of Sheffield and Bristol concluded that costly government projects to try to reduce the gap have had ‘little effect’. ‘This is the highest relative inequality recorded since at least 1921,’ they said. ‘The last time that inequalities were almost as high was in the lead-up to the economic crash of 1929.’
They warn that the gulf will almost certainly widen over the next few years as impoverished households are hardest hit by soaring unemployment rates.
Experts have long linked unemployment to poor health, with increased rates of depression, obesity and suicide – and lower life expectancy.
The study also found for every 100 deaths of people under the age of 75 in middle class households, there were 188 deaths in poorer households.
As soon as Labour came to power in 1997, ministers pledged to ‘tackle the root causes of ill-health to create a fairer society’ as an utmost priority. They set targets for 2000 promising to close the gap between the rich and the poor by 10 per cent and in the last decade alone an estimated £20billion was pumped into various health projects.
But this latest study, published in the British Medical Journal, has found that the gulf in health has increased at a faster rate over the last two decades than any other time since records began.
The researchers looked at death rates from the Office of National Statistics going back to 1921. The report said: ‘Although life expectancy for all people is increasing, the gap between the best and worst districts is continuing to increase. ‘The economic crash of 2008 might precede even greater inequalities in mortality.’
Men in Britain can expect to live to 77.9 years and women to 82, according to official statistics. But in poorer areas this decreases to 75.8 for men and 80.4 for women.
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, said: ‘We need to look at the causes of ill-health to really make a difference. Doctors will need to work across sectors to point out the health impacts of policy decisions.’
This latest research echoes the findings of a report by the National Audit Office last month that accused Labour of wasting billions on failed projects trying to counter poverty.
Score 47% for an A: Watchdog says standards are still too low in British high school science exams
Teenagers have gained A grades in GCSE science despite scoring less than 50 per cent, the exams watchdog revealed yesterday. In a damning report, Ofqual said standards were still ‘too low’ in the subject and questions not difficult enough despite a warning to exam boards to toughen up their papers.
The watchdog found evidence of over-reliance on multiple choice and questions that pointed candidates towards the answer instead of testing scientific knowledge.
On some papers, ‘grade boundaries were too low to ensure candidates showed a satisfactory range of knowledge and understanding’. One exam board gave a pupil a C grade GCSE despite scoring only 20 per cent and another an A after getting 47 per cent in a paper.
Too many questions placed ‘low demands’ on pupils and failed to provide a ‘sufficient challenge’ for the most able.
Ofqual reserved its harshest criticism for exams set by two boards: OCR and Edexcel. They awarded significantly higher proportions of A and C grades than other boards and statistical indicators would warrant.
But it declined to name the boards which had allowed marks of 47 per cent for an A grade and 20 per cent for a C grade.
Ofqual first warned about standards in GCSE science in March last year, stating that the courses gave ‘serious cause for concern’. Boards were ordered to make changes and more challenging papers were prepared for use in September this year. But these were rejected for still being too easy, forcing exam boards to try again.
Today’s report, carried out in collaboration with DCELLS, the Welsh watchdog, said: ‘The findings of this investigation did not differ significantly from those found in previous investigations, thus adding further evidence that standards are currentlytoo low in GCSE science and additional science qualifications.’
Ofqual chief executive Isabel Nisbet said: ‘There is still some way to go to ensure that these important qualifications meet the high standards that Ofqual requires.’
An OCR spokesman said: ‘ Following Ofqual’s 2008 scrutiny, like all boards, OCR made some changes to science examination papers but these did not affect the papers for the 2009 series, which were the subject of this report. ‘The first series in which examination papers were issued with a revised structure was January 2010.’
An Edexcel spokesman said: ‘We are committed to ensuring GCSE science remains a credible, highly recognised qualification.’
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: ‘It is worrying Ofqual has found that such weaknesses remained in GCSE sciences last year. ‘We want all qualifications to be as rigorous as possible and as good as any in the world.’
Britain becoming less British at a great rate
One baby in four born to migrants; Number of foreign-born mothers has doubled
Almost a quarter of babies are born to immigrant mothers, an official breakdown showed yesterday. It found that 24.7 per cent of children born last year have mothers who were born abroad – and that their numbers have doubled since the late 1990s. The sharply rising numbers of babies with foreign-born mothers came despite an overall fall in births.
The figures produced fresh warnings to ministers that immigration rates must be brought down to avoid the growing threat of overpopulation in Britain.
Numbers of children born to mothers from outside the country have been growing fast in recent years as immigration has reached record levels. In 1998 there were 86,456 babies born in England and Wales to mothers born abroad. These mothers are considered likely to be long-term migrants by statisticians. Last year, the total had reached 174,400, according to the figures from the Office for National Statistics. Over the same period, the share of babies with foreign-born mothers rose from 13.6 per cent to 24.7 per cent.
The rising proportion of children of migrant mothers is a result both of high levels of immigration and higher birthrates among newly-arrived families. Last year, the ONS calculated that women born in Britain will average 1.84 children each during their lifetimes, while women who came to this country from abroad will have 2.51 children during their lives. Immigration and higher birthrates are the greatest factor in pushing up population rates.
The ONS has predicted that the UK population will hit the sensitive 70million mark in 2029.
Alp Mehmet, of the Migrationwatch think-tank, said: ‘These figures confirm that action is necessary to bring down immigration levels and the Government have to get on with it. ‘Nothing that anyone has said in recent months has altered the prospect that there will be 70million people in the country in 20 years’ time.’
The breakdown of figures was published by the ONS yesterday in its final tally of births and birthrates in 2009. Overall, the number of babies born in England and Wales fell slightly from 708,711 in 2008 to 706,248 last year.
The numbers of babies whose mothers were born abroad went up by around 3,500, from 170,834 to 174,400. The three most common countries of origin of foreign-born mothers are Pakistan, Poland and India.
Around one in ten babies are now born to mothers from New Commonwealth countries, according to the ONS breakdown. In some towns with high numbers of immigrants, a majority of young children now have mothers who were born abroad.
In London around half of babies have foreign-born mothers. And in some London boroughs, such as Newham and Brent, around three quarters of children have mothers who were born abroad.
British taxpayer must fund balls and comedy workshops for criminals??
The Tory Left is really squishy. Margaret Thatcher called them “wets”
A Tory minister has provoked fury with an astonishing declaration that taxpayers should fund comedy workshops and party nights for prisoners. Crispin Blunt also set out how he planned to scrap harsh indefinite sentences for the country’s most depraved criminals.
The prisons minister was immediately accused of damaging the Conservatives’ reputation as the party of law and order.
Mr Blunt revealed he had overturned a ban on publicly funded jollies for prisoners – brought in following condemnation of a horror-themed fancy dress party for women inmates, including seven convicted killers.
The restriction, which explicitly ruled out events likely to outrage the public, had also been a response to revelations that an Al Qaeda terrorist was given lessons on how to be a stand-up comic while at a high-security prison. But Mr Blunt branded the guidance, introduced in 2008, ‘damaging and daft’ and revoked it.
He also indicated an end to sentences which allow judges to lock up indefinitely thousands of the country’s worst offenders – including rapists, paedophiles and murderers. Known as Indeterminate Sentences for Public Protection – or IPPs – they ensure the worst criminals are kept behind bars for life unless they prove that they are no longer a threat to the public.
However, Mr Blunt said too many IPP sentences, brought in under Labour, were handed out, adding that locking people up and throwing away the key was ‘not the answer’.
The disturbing moves follow the announcement by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke that thousands of offenders will be given community sentences instead of short jail terms.
Former Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who introduced the ban on unacceptable events, condemned the impact on victims and said the law-abiding public would be ‘incredulous’.
In a speech to prison reform groups, Mr Blunt, 50, also claimed – astonishingly – that in overturning the ban he was acting in the spirit of Winston Churchill. He even quoted a speech the famous war leader gave 100 years ago, in which he advocated cultural events for inmates.
But Churchill, a noted prison reformer, was arguing simply that inmates should be able to hear performances from military bands or lectures from prominent public speakers.
Mr Blunt said: ‘We recognise that arts activities can play a valuable role in helping offenders to address issues such as communication problems and low self-esteem and enabling them to engage in programmes that address their offending behaviour.
Mr Blunt’s proposed abolition of IPP sentences – which could come into effect in a matter of months – will be welcomed by Left-wing prison reform groups who have described them as ‘ferocious and unjust’.
But it will raise concerns that killers and child abusers could be given softer punishments and be released earlier. Those currently serving IPP sentences include Tracey Connelly, the mother of Baby P.
Backbench Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘I think Tory ministers have to decide pretty quickly, are they there to run the Criminal Justice System in the interests of those who work for it or are they there to run it in the interests of the law abiding of the country?
‘If they carry on running the Criminal Justice System in the interests of those who work in it and their leftist agenda then I do not think they can survive as the party of law and order for very much longer.’ …
By dropping a ban on prisoner parties and abolishing IPP sentences, he appears intent on antagonising both the public and members of his own party.
Is he polluted by the presence of so many Liberal Democrats in the Coalition? Or is he just following the controversial lead set by his boss Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who has set his face against the old Tory mantra that ‘prison works’.
Mr Clarke has already enraged many on the Right with his stated desire to reduce the prison population, review the need for short sentences and his recent claim that locking up criminals has no link to the falling crime rate.
Perhaps Mr Blunt is again simply playing the obedient soldier, following his reckless commanding officer through a political minefield.
Another Oil Smear
By Dr. Benny Peiser
On 19 July, the Times published a frontpage lead story about a number of U.S. American think tanks that have received funding from Exxon Mobile. Some of these organisations were co-sponsors of the March 2009 International Conference on Climate Change in New York.
In its article, the Times gave the false impression that the GWPF was represented at the March 2009 New York conference and that the GWPF may have received Exxon Mobil funding too. In fact, the Foundation did not exist at the time. The GWPF was only founded in November 2009. I was there as a private individual and an academic who was invited to speak about “The Crisis of EU Climate Policy.” Moreover, the Times knows perfectly well that the GWPF is precluded by its articles of association from accepting funds from the energy industry.
The Times should also have been aware that Nigel Lawson had refuted the same misleading smear in the Independent on Sunday of 14 February.
I have written to the editor of the Times to set the record straight only for them to refuse to publish my letter. This is the second time this year that the Times has written a misleading story about the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and for the second time it has refused us a right of reply. This kind of behaviour speaks for itself.
The Times has now corrected the inaccurate claim about me in the online version of its story. But the damage to the GWPF has been done, and hardly anyone will notice the correction to the online version now that it is behind a paywall and the Times has lost 90% of its online viewers. All we can do is to set the record straight on our own website in the hope that interested observers will see through these smear tactics.
Letter to the Editor of the Times
Sir, Contrary to the clear impression given by your report (19 July), the Global Warming Policy Foundation was not represented at the March 2009 International Conference on Climate Change in New York, for the very good reason that the Foundation did not exist at that time. It did not come into being until November 2009; and I was there as a private individual and academic.
Had you contacted us, or consulted our website, you also would have discovered our explicit funding policy, which makes clear in no uncertain terms that the GWPF is “funded entirely by voluntary donations from a number of private individuals and charitable trusts. In order to make clear its complete independence, it does not accept gifts from either energy companies or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company”.
London, 20 July 2010, Dr Benny Peiser, Director, The Global Warming Policy Foundation