Light drinkers denied IVF to save NHS cash… and even the alcohol intake of HUSBANDS can count against couples
British bureaucrats just love saying no. Particularly if it will upset people. That really gives them a horn
Women who drink fewer than two glasses of wine a day are being denied free IVF as NHS trusts impose strict rules on who gets fertility treatment.
Even those who barely drink at all could be turned down if their partners are deemed to be exceeding recommended alcohol limits.
Health trusts insist they are simply following Department of Health guidelines which warn against excessive drinking, particularly in pregnancy, but experts have accused them of discriminating solely to save money.
Critics say there is no evidence that those who drink slightly more than the recommended limit will be any less successful with IVF.
Up to one in five of the 66 Primary Care Trusts in England say they would refuse treatment to couples if either of them drink more than the Department of Health’s recommended weekly limit of 14 units for women and 21 for men.
And in response to a Daily Mail Freedom of Information request, many more said that although there was no specific alcohol policy, doctors could refuse IVF if they believed patients were drinking too much.
It is up to GPs to establish how much couples drink when they go for their first IVF treatment consultation through a series of detailed questions on their habits. Typically, a small glass of wine contains one-and-a-half units. So a woman drinking just two a night would consume 21 units a week, well over the ‘safe’ limit. According to the Department of Health, up to 10million adults – one in three men and one in five women – regularly drink at a level considered ‘hazardous’ to their health.
Infertile couples are entitled to three cycles of free fertility treatment on the NHS, which costs around £2,500 a course.
To qualify, women must meet strict criteria including being under 39 and not having a child from a previous relationship.
Many trusts will also turn them down if they are obese or smoke, as both are believed to reduce the chance of conception.
But fertility experts say there is no evidence that drinking slightly more than a moderate amount makes IVF any less successful.
However women are often advised to cut down to just two or three drinks a week once they start their first cycle as this may increase their chances of conceiving.
Stephen Davies, a GP and spokesman for the British Fertility Society, said: ‘This is very unfair. There is no evidence that drinking before IVF reduces its chance of success. ‘IVF is not seen as a priority treatment so they are simply looking at ways of cutting back their spending.
Trusts are constantly putting up new barriers and it is simply a way of cost-cutting.’ Susan Freeman, of the charity Infertility Network UK, said: ‘We would like to see people offered advice to help them cut back on drinking, rather than being banned from IVF altogether.
‘They should get advice on how to follow a healthy lifestyle – but should be helped, not just turned away.’ Many NHS trusts face huge financial shortfalls and are looking for ways to make cuts.
This month it emerged that several trusts had cut the number of IVF cycles to one or two per couple with one trust, Warrington, stopping funding altogether.
Several British Muslim schools forcing EVERY pupil to wear the veil – and regulators approve
At least three Muslim faith schools are forcing girls as young as 11 to wear face-covering veils with the blessing of Ofsted inspectors, it emerged yesterday. One of the schools insists that fees are paid in cash and warns parents against speaking to the local education authority.
All three schools have been approved by education watchdog Ofsted, which inspects private faith schools to ensure they prepare pupils for life in modern Britain and ‘promote tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions’.
The schools’ dress codes yesterday provoked anger among mainsteam Muslims, who warned that pupils were in danger of being ‘brainwashed’.
The three schools causing concern were Madani Girls’ School in Tower Hamlets, east London, Jamea Al Kauthar, in Lancaster and Jameah Girls’ Academy in Leicester. All three are independent, fee-paying, single-sex schools catering for girls aged 11 to 18.
They insist that when girls are travelling to and from school they wear the niqab, a face veil leaving the eyes exposed, or the head-to-toe burka, which covers the eyes with a mesh screen.
School uniform rules listed on Madani’s website have been removed but an earlier version, seen by the Sunday Telegraph, said: ‘The present uniform conforms to the Islamic Code of dressing. Outside the school, this comprises of the black Burka and Niqab.’
The admission application form warns that girls will be ‘appropriately punished’ for failing to wear the correct uniform.
Madani, which charges fees of £1,900-a-year, also says on its website: ‘All payments should be made in cash. We do not accept cheques.’ Its school rules state: ‘If parents are approached by the Education Department regarding their child’s education, they should not disclose any information without discussing it with the committee.’
Ofsted’s 2008 assessment gives the school a ‘satisfactory’ rating and makes no mention of the uniform code or warning to parents.
The 260-pupil school was at the centre of a separate row in 2008 when Conservative councillors accused Labour-controlled Tower Hamlets Council of subsidising Madani school by allowing the school to buy its premises for £320,000 below market value.
The council sold the Victorian building to Madani’s trustees for £1.33 million even though a valuation at the time said it was worth £1.65 million. Tower Hamlets said the agreed price of £1.33million was market value in 2004 and the sale was delayed to allow the school to raise funds.
At Jamea Al Kauthar – rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted earlier this year – rules which appear on its website state: ‘Black Jubbah [smock-like outer garment] and dopatta [shawl] is compulsory as well as purdah [veil] when leaving and returning to Jamea. Scarves are strictly not permitted.’
The website also lists a wide range of banned items, including family photographs, and warns: ‘Students must not cut their hair, nor remove hair from between their eyebrows. Doing so will lead to suspention (sic).’
Jameah Girls’ Academy, which charges £1,750 a year for primary-age pupils and £1,850 for secondary, was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in 2007. It states in its rules: ‘Uniform, as set out in the pupil/parent handbook, which comprises of headscarf and habaya for all pupils, and niqab for girls attending the secondary years, to be worn during journeys to and from The Academy.’
Critics claimed the policies could damage relations between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Ed Husain, co-director of Quilliam, the counter-extremist think-tank, said: ‘It is absurd that schools are enforcing this outdated ritual – one that which sends out a damaging message that Muslims do not want to fully partake in British society.
‘The enforcing of the niqab on young girls is not a mainstream Islamic practice – either in Britain or in most Muslim-majority countries. ‘It is a desert practice which belongs to another century and another world.’
Independent schools will be able to apply to become state-funded ‘free schools’ under the Coalition’s education policy, although faith schools will be required to offer a quota of places to pupils of other religions first.
Mr Husain added: ‘Although it is not the government’s job to dictate how its citizens dress, it should nonetheless ensure that such schools are not bankrolled or subsidised by the British taxpayer.’
Dr Taj Hargey, an imam and chairman of the Muslim Educational Trust of Oxford, said: ‘This is very disturbing and sets a dangerous precedent. ‘It means that Muslim children are being brainwashed into thinking they must segregate and separate themselves from mainstream society.’
Philip Hollobone, the Tory MP who has attempted to bring in a Private Members’ Bill to ban wearing of the burka in public, said: ‘It is very sad in 21st century Britain that three schools are effectively forcing girls as young as 11 to hide their faces.
‘How on earth are these young ladies going to grow up as part of a fully integrated society if they are made to regard themselves as objects at such a young age?’
Muslim woman fired from British estate agency for REFUSING to wear a headscarf
Hmmmm… I am inclined to think that any business has a right to set down dress standards required at work. That fact that the same standard was not required of non-Muslim employees rather destroys that defence, however — JR
A Muslim woman has been awarded more than £13,500 after she was sacked for refusing to wear a headscarf at the estate agency where she worked. Ghazala Khan – a 31-year-old non-practising Muslim – was fired less than two weeks into her job at a company run by traditional Muslim businessman Masood Ghafoor simply because she refused to cover her hair.
Mr Ghafoor told Miss Khan, who had nine years experience in the trade, that his wife and female relatives all wore full veils or burkas, telling her that her parents had given her ‘far too much freedom’.
A tribunal heard that Miss Khan had been employed to run Mr Ghafoor’s Go Go Real Estate office in Leeds, West Yorkshire, in June 2009. However, within days of working there she was left feeling ‘very uncomfortable and intimidated’ when Mr Ghafoor put it to her that she had not been brought up as a ‘good Muslim’ and that if she had been his daughter she would not be allowed to work and would have been long since ‘married off’.
He asked her to wear a headscarf at work – even though white non-Muslim women he employed in the same office were never asked to and never did. On the day she was due to start her third week in the job, Mr Ghafoor told her not to bother coming in.
When she eventually caught up with him later that evening he told her that members of the Muslim community had been ‘gossiping’ and suggested that she was not ‘respectable’ and that there might be ‘something going on’ between her and members of staff.
Mr Ghafoor added that his cousin Shakeel, who was also employed in the office, was unhappy working with a female especially as she did not wear a headscarf, was not religious and was Westernised.
Graduate Miss Khan, who represented herself at the hearing in Leeds, won her claim for discrimination on the grounds of her lack of religion or belief, by dismissing her and sex discrimination.
She has been awarded £13,566.67 for injury to feelings, loss of earnings and unpaid holiday pay. The tribunal concluded: ‘Ms Khan described herself as British Pakistani, meaning that she is of Asian racial origin and of Pakistani national origin. ‘She also described herself as a non-practising Muslim, meaning that she identified with the Muslim religon but did not attend her local mosque, pray regularly or cover her hair. ‘The respondent on the other hand is a practising Muslim with traditional religious and cultural beliefs.’
The tribunal heard that at her job interview Miss Khan had worn a grey pinstripe trouser suit, described as ‘conventional modern professional dress’.
Mr Ghafoor wanted her to run the office when he was out on business, telling her he wanted ‘someone professional in the front office’ and she began work there on June 17 last year.
The tribunal heard that Mr Ghafoor had originally told Miss Khan there was no problem with the way she dressed. ‘He was happy that she was fully covered up by the black trousers and long sleeved blouses and tops that she wore to work,’ the tribunal heard. ‘By the time of the hearing, he was saying that she had chosen to wear clothing of a very revealing nature.’
After sacking Miss Khan on June 30, Mr Ghafoor went on to acknowledge that Miss Khan had not done anything wrong at work and that it was not her fault. ‘He was happy with her work, it was just that they could not have a woman working in the office,’ the tribunal ruled.
‘He added that they had had a ‘problem’ like that before with what he described as a Westernised young Muslim Asian woman working there. ‘They had dismissed her too after a few days for essentially the same reason. ‘In her case, however, the respondent had found her another job in a friend’s office.
The tribunal concluded: ‘We find that the respondent treated the claimant less favourably by dismissing her and not his white women employees because she would not cover her hair. ‘That refusal on Ms Khan’s part was owing to a lack of belief that her religion obliged her to do so.
‘Whilst she identified with the Muslim faith, she did not agree with its practices as applied to women. ‘That was the ground for her dismissal, although it can be said that the refusal to wear a headscarf was simply a manifestation of a lack of belief. ‘We do not think, however, that such a narrow interpretation is appropriate on these facts.
‘For the authorities indicate that an employer is entitled to maintain a ‘secular’ workplace by eluding manifestations of religious belief from working practices and dress, if it deems it appropriate in the circumstances. ‘We can see no reason why that principle should not apply to an employee in the circumstances of this case. ‘Further, we decided that a purely cultural interpretation of the requirement to wear a headscarf was too narrow.
‘We agree with Ms Khan that the requirement is a mixture of the cultural and the religious in so far as it is derived from a particular interpretation of Islamic scriptures.
‘As for sex discrimination, there was direct evidence that Ms Khan’s sex as a woman played a part in the decision to dismiss. ‘Cousin Shakeel did not want to work with a Muslim woman who did not cover her hair. ‘The covering is an expression of female modesty. ‘He would have treated any male employee more favourably by working with him, all other things being equal. ‘Accordingly we found that the discrimination was equally on the ground of the claimant’s sex.’
The tribunal concluded: ‘Our impression of Ms Khan was of an articulate young woman who genuinely needed a job and would not have behaved in the way described by Mr Ghafoor.’
Mr Ghafoor was cleared of race discrimination as the tribunal ruled he would have treated black or white female converts the same as he treated Ms Khan.
One autistic kid used as an excuse for another intrusion into family life
He should be running around laughing and playing with the other children at his nursery.
But because he watches so much TV, one three-year-old boy has already become cut off from his peers, trapped in his own ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ world instead.
The toddler, known only as Max, has spent so long watching the show that he barely speaks to other children at his nursery school and instead wanders around in a daze obsessively repeating phrases from the TV programme.
He watches the cartoon for as many as five hours a day – and doctors fear that it has had a long-term effect on his development and communication skills.
The programme is full of catchphrases, such as the character Thomas saying he wants to be a ‘really useful engine’ and exclaiming ‘well bust my buffers’, or those of his faithful coaches Annie and Claribel ‘We feel so full,we feel so full’.
Another well-known phrase goes ‘Silly old Gordon fell in the ditch, fell in the ditch, fell in the ditch,’ from the episode which shows the big green engine purposely running into a ditch to avoid pulling a goods’ train.
The boy, who lives in the U.S, is being treated by a specialist in California. Doctors are so alarmed that they have reported his behaviour in a paper published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
The youngster’s mother reportedly lets him watch as much TV as he likes. He also likes to watch the Disney Channel, which includes popular programmes such as Hannah Montana and Phineas and Ferb.
However, his case is by no means unique and experts warn that children who watch too much television may be in danger of suffering learning difficulties later on.
Some doctors believe the problem is becoming so widespread that toddlers younger than two should be banned from watching any TV at all.
Researchers in Britain fear that television is increasingly hindering children’s communication skills and ability to concentrate as well as contributing to rates of obesity, because screen-based activities mean they are less inclined to be physically active.
They are considering drawing up strict guidelines which could even advise parents to ban toddlers from watching TV.
Stuart Biddle is chairman of the ‘sedentary behaviour and obesity’ working party, which is currently considering guidelines for the Department of Health. He said: ‘We are considering what guidelines should say, and a statement around no television for the under-twos is potentially one of the more controversial ones.’
Some countries are already considering a similar policy. last year, the Australian government began drawing up guidance suggesting a ban for children under two. The advice, which is being finalised, also recommends that those aged between two and five should watch a maximum of one hour a day.
France has also banned any programmes specifically being made for those under five.
British school STAFF to be given English lessons so their bad habits don’t hamper pupils
Primary school staff are to be given English lessons because Ofsted inspectors believe their accents, poor grammar and use of slang set pupils a bad example.
Two teaching assistants at Trosnant Junior School in Havant, near Portsmouth, were heavily criticised in a report for their weak grasp of written and spoken English. Now, a consultant has been drafted in to teach staff to use ‘the Queen’s English in the classroom’.
The Ofsted inspectors claimed the assistants’ strong accents and use of slang were hampering children’s learning. Their report said: ‘Adults do not always demonstrate grammatical accuracy in speaking and writing.’ It cited the phrase ‘I likes football’ as an example, and gave the school 12 months to improve.
Headmaster Jim Hartley admitted there was a problem with the use of regional dialect, known as ‘Pompey slang’, in the classroom. He said: ‘This is not denigrating the Pompey accent or dialect – we are all proud of where we come from. ‘I accept however that bad grammar is not acceptable in the classroom, which is why we have taken the inspectors’ criticisms constructively.’
Kathryn Cooke, 43, whose eight-year-old son Ryan goes to the school, said: ‘The Pompey accent is not far off being Cockney. It is very common and very lazy. You would hope they would tone it down while in the classroom.’
Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘Youngsters cannot be expected to improve their English if they are set a bad example by the adults who are supposed to be teaching them.’
A building society has introduced grammar lessons for staff after senior executives found recent graduates could not write properly. Leeds Building Society has recruited a retired teacher to introduce a ‘more formal and consistent approach’ to writing.
Death rates INCREASED by 20mph zone… and getting rid of cameras reduces accidents
Reducing the speed limit to 20mph in all residential streets does not significantly improve road safety, an official report has revealed.
Towns around the country [Britain] are planning to introduce the limit in the belief that lower speeds save lives. However, analysis of the first citywide scheme in Portsmouth has shown the number of people killed or seriously injured actually increased after the speed limit was reduced from 30mph.
While the 20mph limit has been widely implemented in specific streets, for example near primary schools, the case for reducing the limit in all residential streets appears to have been badly damaged by the Department for Transport report.
Analysis by consultants Atkins, on behalf of the Department for Transport, found the average number of people killed or seriously injured annually in Portsmouth rose from 18.7 to 19.9 after the scheme was launched in 2007.
Motorists’ average speeds reduced by only 1.3mph to 18.5mph. The Portsmouth speed limit is not enforced by speed humps or cameras, instead relying on motorists obeying the law.
Previous studies have found that 20mph zones in which traffic-calming measures are also deployed produce bigger reductions in drivers’ average speeds.
City centre 20mph zones have been introduced in Newcastle upon Tyne, Oxford, Edinburgh and Bristol.
Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat transport minister, has given his backing to 20mph limits. Earlier this year he said: ‘For a child being hit at 30mph and 20mph is the difference between life and death. ‘But this is also about making our town centres more attractive places to live and work, and reducing carbon emissions by encouraging people to cycle or walk.’
A spokesman for the transport department said: ‘This report by an independent contractor on the Portsmouth scheme is one of several research documents available to help councils decide whether they want to put in place 20mph zones or limits. ‘It is up to local authorities to make these decisions using their knowledge of local roads and in consultation with local communities.’
Meanwhile a town where all the speed cameras were switched off has reported a sharp drop in the number of accidents. Over the past year there have been 14 minor and two serious accidents in the streets of Swindon monitored by cameras. This compared with 15 minor, five serious and one fatal accident in the same streets the previous year when cameras were operational.
Roderick Bluh, leader of the Tory-controlled council, said: ‘it is beginning to look as though we were right all along when we said these cameras were revenue raisers.’
Number of foreign workers rises in Britain
British business has continued to hire more foreign workers during the downturn even as the number of UK-born people in jobs has dropped sharply, analysis by the Financial Times shows.
Latest official data show the number of UK-born workers fell by 654,000 between 2008 and 2010, while FT calculations, based on data for the same period, show the number of working migrants has risen by 139,000 – some 100,000 born outside the European Union and the remainder within.
The figures reflect the differing impact of the recession on different parts of the UK economy, with jobs such as those in the service sector, where migrant workers tend to be concentrated, escaping lightly.
However, a wide-ranging FT analysis of the impact of immigration on jobs, wages and public services also highlights the potential economic cost of the attempt by David Cameron, prime minister, to slash net migration to 1990s levels.
One calculation, based on figures from the Office for Budgetary Responsibility, indicated that such a move would cost the UK as much as £33bn in lost output over the next five years if it was introduced in 2011.
Research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that recent migrant workers from eastern Europe are net contributors to UK public finances, while native Britons are a net drain. The likelihood that workers from outside the EU contribute even more raises further questions about the government’s decision to limit the number of non-EU people who can work in the UK.
The cap has already angered companies, while Vince Cable, business secretary, has said it poses a threat to economic recovery. George Osborne, chancellor, is a firm supporter of the limit but some Treasury officials are worried about any reduction in tax receipts.
The OBR in June produced estimates for trend GDP growth without taking account of the government’s hope to cut immigration to 1990s levels – which would mean a net inflow of 60,000 a year compared with the OBR’s assumption of 140,000.
FT research suggests that, leaving other assumptions unchanged, if the net flow was reduced by that amount next year, GDP would be about 0.8 per cent lower at the end of the parliament, with a cumulative loss in output of about £33bn.
Since Mr Cameron has only promised to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands over the life of the parliament, rather than in a single year, the FT calculation offers only a rough indication of how such a cut might affect GDP. Some economists also argue that GDP is too crude a measure to assess the financial benefits of immigration because it does not take into account the cost of providing public services and housing to new arrivals.
The government has commissioned its own independent report on the expected economic impact of the cap, which will be debated by the cabinet before an annual limit is set for next year.
Britain’s so-called conservatives to enact PC equality law which means ANYONE can sue for ANYTHING that offends them
Thank goodness I don’t live in Britain. With my Australian bluntness, I would be in trouble in no time
“Ministers yesterday announced that the vast bulk of Labour’s controversial Equality Act would be implemented immediately, despite concerns about its impact on business and office life.
The legislation, championed by Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman, introduces a bewildering range of rights which allow staff to sue for almost any perceived offence they receive in the workplace.
It creates the controversial legal concept of ‘third party harassment’, under which workers will be able to sue over jokes and banter they find offensive – even if the comments are aimed at someone else and they weren’t there at the time the comments were made.
They can sue if they feel the comments ‘violate their dignity’ or create an ‘intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’.
A one-off incident is enough to sue – there is no need for the ‘victim’ to have warned the perpetrator that their comments are unwelcome. They could even have a case against their employer if a customer or contractor says something they find offensive.
No sausage jokes!
“Strictly Come Dancing was hit by a string of viewers’ complaints following a quip directed at judge Craig Revel Horwood by contestant Paul Daniels.
Dozens of viewers contacted the BBC to protest after Daniels, 72, told Revel Horwood not to give up ‘his day job tasting sausages’ on the first show of the new series.
The Australian-born judge, 45, has openly talked about his homosexuality in the past and his life with partner Grant MacPherson.
Many viewers assumed Daniels was taunting him about his sexuality and vented their fury on a BBC website and on Twitter.
But it appeared last night that Daniels was actually referring to Revel Horwood’s upcoming role promoting British Sausage Week, which is launched on November 1.
Daniels, himself a former frontman of Sausage Week, wrote: ‘Media this morn trying to make me homophobic. Crazy. Why do journos and editors want to live in a nasty world of their own creation.’