Third of NHS emergency rooms ‘facing staffing crisis’
Looks like some long trips for very ill people coming up
More than a third of accident and emergency departments in England are facing a staffing crisis, it has emerged. Some are struggling to keep their departments open due to a dearth of middle grade emergency doctors, who fill the gap between junior doctors and consultants.
Last week managers at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, Kent, said they would be closing its A&E in November for the winter because of a lack of such doctors. They said they could not risk being unable to cope with the expected surge in winter admissions, which could compromise patient safety.
Now a Freedom of Information request has shown the situation to be more widespread than just pockets of problems. Thirty-four of 99 hospital trusts that responded to an FOI request by Channel 4 News, said they had experienced at least two occasions in the last year when they had been unable to find a middle grade doctor to work on call, on-site, overnight.
Casualty doctors say that changes to immigration rules brought in by the last government have made it much more difficult for medics from countries like India and Pakistan to work in Britain.
Changes to GPs’ contracts, which have allowed them to pay others to provide out-of-hours cover rather than do it themselves, have also resulted in more young doctors opting for a career in general practice, at the expense of other avenues like emergency medicine. One emergency doctor told the channel: “Why do this when you can go and be a GP, earn lots of money and not have to work anti-social hours?”
Of the 34 trusts who admitted to staffing problems, half said they were advertising all the time to recruit for empty posts. The lack of middle grades has caused many trusts to make greater demands of junior doctors and consultants to ensure adequate staffing levels.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “The number of doctors choosing to specialise in A&E is rising. We are working closely with the UK Border Agency on their visa procedures that affect NHS staff recruited from overseas.”
British Prep schools know how to inspire boys
No wonder so many parents are removing boys from the state system and placing them in single-sex prep schools, writes Rowan Pelling
When I attended a village primary school in Kent, the majority of the clever-clogs were boys. They thrived on competition, which was encouraged in and out of the classroom with a house points and merit badge system. Discipline was strict and the inspiring headmaster, whose limp was rumoured to be a war wound, took clever children into his study for extra coaching.
Many of the brighter boys, my older brother included, won 11-plus places at the nearby grammar. A few years after I left, the headmaster retired and a female head teacher was appointed, who brought a raft of trendy, feminised teaching practices with her. One of the school’s best teachers promptly resigned, and within four years the school’s reputation for academic excellence had gone, never to be recovered.
Most of those teaching practices have become the default setting of state education. While I am thankful for the equal opportunities afforded to girls and the disappearance of the cane, there is now widespread acknowledgment that most of these changes have been disastrous – particularly for boys. So much so, that BBC2’s Gareth Malone’s Extraordinary School for Boys has proved gripping prime-time viewing. Every parent of boys I know applauded the zippy choirmaster’s attempts to re-engage a class of 39 wayward young males with the pleasures of learning. In just eight weeks, the boys’ reading ages had improved by five months and a couple of notable under-achievers saw their results rocket.
None of Gareth’s conclusions was revolutionary – boys need discipline and to be challenged, thrilled and inspired, or their concentration quickly lapses – but the fact remains that these elements are routinely lacking from Britain’s junior classrooms, as are the necessary male role models.
No wonder so many parents are removing boys from the state system and placing them in single-sex prep schools. According to the Independent Association of Prep Schools, 61 per cent of their 600 member schools have seen a rise in numbers, despite the biting recession. David Hanson, the chief executive of the association, cited the fact that prep schools turn out “fully rounded little boys” who aren’t pressurised to play the fool.
Many parents will recognise that portrait. A good friend of mine used the money previously earmarked for moving from their tiny village semi to upgrade her precociously clever seven-year-old son’s education instead. She removed him from the local primary, where he was “profoundly bored and playing up” to a private prep school where, within a year, he walked off with a shelf of prizes.
My local primary is wonderful in most aspects, but I can’t help lamenting the fact that there’s only one full-time male teacher in a school of around 400 pupils. It’s not that the women teachers aren’t good, but I know my son responds to men on a more intuitive level.
Take the time I was asked to rein him in, because he had been frightening other children by talking about demons and zombies. I couldn’t help thinking that a male teacher would have shared my belief that this was entirely appropriate subject matter for a small boy with a lively imagination.
Meanwhile, competition is verboten, so when I tried to explain to him last week that he would perform poorly in his spelling test if he didn’t practise, he looked at me as if I was barmy and said, “There are no marks – everyone does well, Mummy.” A number of my son’s brightest friends are already lagging behind the girls in general literacy and I only improved his reading by taking him off the dull school learn-to-read texts and giving him Tintin and Roald Dahl.
Indeed, the best way to galvinise boys is often to take them off an easy task and give then something far harder. Prep schools recognise this truth – the big question is whether state schools can gain the will, imagination and freedom to emulate them.
Eating meat is good for the planet (and that’s according to a militant vegan)
Lunch with Simon Fairlie is a carnivore’s nightmare. Around the communal table at Monkton Wyld Court — the ‘sustainable lifestyle community’ in the Dorset hills where Fairlie lives — our plates are filled with corn fritters and sprouting quinoa seed salad.
But although the diet is strictly vegetarian, the talk is all about beef. That’s because Fairlie — just in from milking his two cows, and every inch the hippie farmer with his beard and tatty embroidered waistcoat — is no evangelical vegetarian.
Rather, this former co-editor of The Ecologist is a rebel from within the environmental movement who says that the eco-establishment has got it badly wrong over animals: that farming them and eating meat is OK. In fact, he claims, moderate carnivores may be better for the planet than vegans.
He despises the urban Greens and their ignorance about the countryside
As a keeper of livestock, Fairlie was also struck by the endlessly repeated ‘facts’ used by vegetarians and environmental campaigners to prove the inefficiency of raising animals as human food. Chief among those is the notorious 10:1 ‘conversion rate’, which appears everywhere from scientific papers to school textbooks. This states that to produce 1kg of beef, you need to feed a cow 10kg of grain. If humans ate grain, then, instead of beef, there would be far more food to go around.
‘This figure has its origins in the 18th century,’ contends Fairlie, adding that it was publicised most dramatically in an essay by the poet Shelley, who in 1813 became one of the world’s first militant vegetarians. George Bernard Shaw and Paul McCartney were his heirs, and with them rose an ‘urban green agenda’ that Fairlie despises, because of its ignorance about the countryside. ‘Most rural Greens eat meat,’ he says.
And that 10:1 ‘conversion rate’ is an absurd exaggeration, Fairlie’s research shows. It would be true if you fed nothing but grain to cows — but no one does that.
Even in the mega-farms where cheap beef is produced in the U.S. — which do use huge amounts of grain to fatten animals — the ratio is perhaps 7:1.
On a traditional small farm, very little vegetable matter fit for human consumption is used for beef production and the real conversion ratio is perhaps 1.4 to 1 — for every 1.4kg of vegetable humans could have eaten, you can produce 1kg of beef.
‘And that’s a pretty good exchange, if you’re getting something different and nice to eat,’ says Fairlie. There are other benefits, too. A dairy herd is a highly efficient way of turning something humans can’t eat — grass — into things they can, such as milk, butter and cheese. What’s more, cows recycle nutrients back into the land as manure, and their grazing encourages grass to grow.
One of the great disasters of recent years, in Fairlie’s eyes, is the ban on feeding swill — waste food from restaurants and factories — to farm animals following the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001. Before that, many pigs on small farms happily ate kitchen waste, costing the planet and the farmer very little.
Now two-thirds of Britain’s pig feed comes from meal, which is expensive, or grain that humans might have eaten — much of it imported soya. Meanwhile, the 20 million tonnes of food we throw away each year is burnt or buried.
Fairlie thinks there is a worrying ideological agenda behind the dodgy statistics of the anti-meat lobby.
In his book, he quotes prominent vegetarian philosophers and campaigners in organisations like PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) who would like to do away with all animal-based food, instead producing genetically-engineered ‘cultured muscle tissue’ for humans in factories. He quotes one of these luminaries boasting that he insists on feeding his dogs and cats on soya protein, rather than meat.
So how does the ‘Fairlie diet’ work? He tells me he eats meat perhaps twice a week — the last was a steak and kidney pie at a friend’s birthday. ‘We should eat more of the animal — like the offal — and learn to cook with smaller amounts of it.’
That would make our diet more like that of our ancestors. They enjoyed animals like pigs and chickens which are cheap to keep, because they consume waste and surplus grain.
British supermarket bosses order boy aged TWO to take down hood ‘for security reasons’
The Brits just love exercising bureaucratic power to annoy, hamper or hurt others
The parents of a two-year-old boy have accused their local Co-op store of a ‘total lack of common sense and flexibility’ after being asked by a member of staff to take their son’s anorak hood down inside the shop. Corey Read’s family were faced with the bizarre security demand – said to be a policy for all Co-op customers – when they visited the store in Norwich.
The boy’s grandfather Alan Barker, 41, said today: ‘I’m so angry at the Co-op’s attitude, especially as the weather is getting worse and Corey has to stay warm to avoid getting ear infections.’
His mother Stacie Read, 23, explained they had gone to the Co-op along with her five-month-old baby son Finley Read, husband Shane Read, 22, and uncle Chris Read, 21.
Mrs Read, who lives nearby said: ‘We’d just gone into the shop to get a few things for our Sunday roast. ‘Corey had been complaining of earache, so he had the hood of his coat up. ‘We were just near the door when the manager said, ‘Do you mind pulling his hood down? ‘He told us, ‘It’s just that eight-year-olds will moan that he’s allowed his hood up but they are not.’ ‘It was especially cold that day and the doors are always open in the shop.’
She added: ‘I didn’t want Corey getting cold as he is prone to ear infections.
‘We went into Tesco next door straight afterwards and the security guard there didn’t say a thing about Corey’s hood.’ It is understood that because the incident happened on a Sunday the store’s regular manager was not on duty.
Hoods, hats and other types of headgear are banned by many shops due to fears over crime and anti-social behaviour as it makes it harder to identify offenders using CCTV cameras.
Mrs Read said her husband Shane, a factory worker, was furious but she urged him not to become involved in a row over the issue. Later that day Corey’s grandfather, Mr Barker, phoned the store to complain and spoke to the duty manager.
Mr Barker, of Bowthorpe, Norwich, said: ‘He told me, We have to do this’. ‘He said, We have 90-year-olds who come in and we have to tell them the same thing. ‘This is a bad area and we have a lot of stealing.
‘Corey is quite a skinny little chap and feels the cold,’ Mr Barker said. ‘He’s just two years old and he’s hardly going to rob the store.’ He added: ‘We go in all the local shops and that’s the first time that something like this has ever happened to us.’
The company has now launched an urgent investigation into the incident. Miriam Harrup, spokeswoman for East of England Co-op, said today: ‘We are investigating what happened.’ She went on to explain that the company had a general policy of asking customers to remove helmets and hoods for security reasons but that a common-sense approach was usually taken.