NHS faces bed-blocking crisis
Patients will be denied hospital beds because they will be filled by the elderly and vulnerable who are unable to get council care after Coalition cuts, a health service chief warns. Patients will be left untreated as the NHS struggles to mop up the consequences of severe cuts in local authority funding, said Nigel Edwards, the head of the NHS Confederation.
The Coalition has promised to increase the NHS budget over the next four years, even as it cuts more than £40 billion from other public services. Local councils will bear some of the heaviest cuts.
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Edwards — whose organisation represents NHS trusts running hospitals and ambulance services — says the cuts in local authority budgets will force them to reduce care services for the elderly and vulnerable. “Less support from council services will quickly lead to increased pressure on emergency services and hospitals,” he writes. “Hospital beds will be blocked for those who badly need care because the support services the elderly require after discharge will not be available.”
Calling for a greater co-ordination of council care services and NHS facilities, he says: “When it comes to the care of the most vulnerable in our society, it really is essential that the NHS and local authorities are in it together.”
His warning coincides with the most explicit admission yet from a Cabinet minister that the Coalition’s cuts in public spending will cause genuine distress. Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, says in an interview with The Daily Telegraph that the cuts will mean real hardship for many. “For a lot of people it’s going to be very difficult indeed,” he says.
Mr Edwards’s warning comes in response to this week’s spending review, which set out Coalition plans to address the deficit in public finances. Central government support for councils in England will be reduced by 27 per cent over the next four years, leaving them seeking deep cuts in the services they offer.
Councils last year spent £14 billion on adult social care services. Care funding is the largest part of council budgets not legally ring-fenced, leaving it vulnerable to cuts.
To reduce the scale of any cuts in care, the Treasury this week earmarked £2 billion over the next four years for councils to spend on adult care services. However, local government leaders and charities said it was not enough to compensate for larger cuts in council budgets.
The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, said even with the extra cash councils would still face a £4 billion shortfall in budgets for adult social care by 2014. A spokesman for the LGA said the spending review would have a significant impact on care services. Some councils have already begun raising the entry criteria for care to those judged to be in the most severe need.
Government sources said ministers were aware of the likely pressure on the health service and had set aside funds in the NHS budget for care services.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said it was understood that social care could have an impact on NHS demands and that is why they were strengthening programmes that would integrate hospital care with care in the community, as well as providing the extra funding. He added that “we expect local health and social care professionals will work together” to “improve outcomes for everyone”.
Kieran Mullan, from the Patients Association, said: “Social care and the NHS do not exist in silos. One impacts directly on the other. Poor services in the community lead to admissions to hospital and lack of services prevent discharge when it might be best for the patient.”
Fury as 1,000 Gypsies living on Europe’s largest illegal camp leapfrog thousands of people on British welfare housing waiting list
Travellers at Europe’s largest illegal camp are to be treated as a priority for social housing because they will be considered homeless when they are evicted. Around 1,000 travellers who live at the Crays Hill camp in Essex are due to be removed from the site after losing a long-running legal battle.
The bill for taxpayers could be as much as £10million as police and council officials face having to launch a major two-week operation following concerns of violent confrontations.
Now it has emerged the travellers could have the right to leapfrog over 4,500 people on the housing waiting list in Basildon Council’s area – and have been ‘encouraged’ to apply by officials.
Critics fear they might cause a logjam for urgently needed accommodation, even though they have stated they want to be moved to new caravan pitches rather than flats and houses.
The situation caused outrage among the residents of Wickford, who have endured threats, petty crimes and anti-social behaviour, as well as seeing property prices plummet, since the travellers arrived almost ten years ago.
Len Gridley, 51, who lives next-door to the camp, said: ‘They should wait their time like everyone else. The young people of Basildon have lived here all their lives and they can’t get homes.’
Another neighbour, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said: ‘The travellers could go back to the sites they came from and they have houses all over the place. It’s not fair.’
Details emerged following a civil hearing on Wednesday between Basildon Council and four travellers – John Sheridan, 33, John and Mary Flynn, 77 and 79, and Barbara O’Brien – which is due to conclude next month.
The travellers argue they should not move into conventional homes and are demanding land to continue their traditional way of life.
Galin Ward, representing the council, told Southend County Court the travellers had been treated as priority cases. She said: ‘They are treated as being on the waiting list for housing under Basildon’s allocation scheme. ‘Mr Sheridan’s case began as long ago as 2006. They have come, if you like, to the top of the queue.’
Council leader Tony Ball later disputed the fact the travellers were on the waiting list, saying they were being treated as homeless. He added: ‘Making a homeless application is a different process but we have to offer a permanent home if a suitable one can be found, rather than temporary accommodation.’
A council spokesman explained the travellers were not top of the housing list but they would be-come a ‘priority’ for help if classed as homeless. He went on to admit they would not automatically go on to the homeless list but had been ‘encouraged’ to apply.
Travellers at the camp yesterday said more than 200 families could qualify for housing if declared homeless.
Michelle Sheridan, 33, daughter of John and Mary Flynn, said: ‘I don’t blame the settled community for being upset. There are more than 4,000 people on the waiting list and Basildon Council wants to move us off land which we bought and paid for and put us on the list for houses.’
The Tory-run council has 10,500 properties and access to 5,000 housing association homes. According to a survey by homeless charity Shelter, it would take three-and-a-half years to find everyone on Basildon’s waiting list a home if no one else joined.
British Muslim teacher banned for life for being useless
After he had been teaching for 13 years!
A teacher who is judged to be incapable of ever improving his work has become the first to be banned for life from the classroom due to incompetence. Nisar Ahmed will never reach ‘requisite standards’ of teaching and cannot work in state schools again, a panel ruled.
The General Teaching Council for England found the 46-year-old guilty of serious professional incompetence and said there was a risk that pupils would be seriously disadvantaged if he was ever allowed to return to lessons.
Mr Ahmed was head of business studies at the John O’Gaunt Community Technology College in Hungerford, Berkshire, from September 2007 to January 2009. He had taught for a total of 13 years at schools across the South-East. His management of lessons was ‘invariably’ below standard, the GTC disciplinary panel was told.
The school, which has more than 450 pupils, aged 11 to 18, gave Mr Ahmed ‘extensive formal and informal’ support for more than a year but he failed to improve. Just 13 teachers have been banned from the profession for fixed periods for incompetence since 2000. Mr Ahmed is the first to receive a prohibition order without time limit.
His organisation of classes was deemed ‘persistently poor’, with class registers regularly left uncompleted and student work folders ‘poorly managed’ and sometimes left at home or in his car when they were needed in lessons.
Marking was persistently not done or delayed and feedback to pupils was inadequate, GTC committee chair Rosalind Burford said. She added: ‘You regularly failed to undertake proper lesson plans. This resulted in a lack of pace and challenge in your lessons and a lack of clear learning objectives.’
These ‘fundamental’ failings had a significantly adverse effect on his students, she said, adding: ‘We could not be satisfied that you have an appropriate level of insight into your shortcomings. ‘Thus, we felt you posed a significant risk of repeating your actions.’
Two years ago, GTC chief executive Keith Bartley said there could be as many as 17,000 ‘substandard’ members of staff among the 500,000 registered teachers in the UK. The small number banned for incompetence will spark fears these teachers are simply being recycled.
Mr Ahmed had been placed under a formal capability process in December 2008. He resigned shortly after learning his case would be considered by governors.
Michael Wheale, the school’s former headteacher who gave evidence at the hearing, was unavailable for comment. Its current head Neil Spurdell said: ‘Under a capability process, teachers do have the opportunity to improve against certain targets and many do. ‘The bottom line is you can’t have pupils disadvantaged by inadequate teaching. They only have one chance at this.’
Last night Mr Ahmed, who lives in Reading with his wife and their two children, said he would be appealing the GTC decision. He added: ‘They have made a scapegoat out of me. I’m deeply unhappy about it and don’t deserve to be the first to be struck off for life.’
One in four British employers say exam system doesn’t prepare students for work
One in four employers believe the national examinations system is not doing a good job and should be reformed, according to a study. They lack confidence in the reliability of GCSEs and A-levels and are increasingly bringing in their own tests to measure applicants’ ability.
Exams watchdog Ofqual surveyed 210 employers, 314 A-level teachers and 358 students to gain their opinions about exam reliability. It found that 23 per cent of employers think the exam system is not up to scratch and needs to be reformed, 48 per cent believed it was doing a good job but wanted improvement and only 18 per cent had no reservations.
Just 14 per cent of employers admit to turning to candidates’ exam results when filling jobs. However 65 per cent ‘sometimes’ use their own tests to assess their skills. Overall, 61 per cent of employers say they are not confident in the exams system, along with six in ten students (58 per cent) and nearly four in ten (38 per cent) teachers.
The report said: ‘It would be expected that teachers would be more confident in the examinations system than students and employers as they use the system more than students and employers and are more familiar with the system.’
About 89 per cent of teachers felt their pupils got the grades they deserved, compared to 66 per cent of employers. Only 17 per cent of students believed they got the correct grades.
The survey also shows that significant numbers of those questioned believe that differing proportions of candidates are getting the wrong grade at GCSE, depending on the subject.
Maths and science were perceived to have fewer ‘grade misclassifications’ than English, where over a third of employers thought at least 30 per cent of candidates had unreflective grades in this subject.
Some 22 per cent of employers believed that more than half of pupils had the wrong grade in English.
The publication of the report comes as Ofqual has set out details of its inquiry into the incomplete marking of Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) GCSE, AS-level and A-level papers this summer.
This resulted in 615 pupils across the country receiving lower grades than they should have. The regulator will identify ‘precisely what went wrong’ with initial findings expected by mid-December.
No more beef and cheese: Go vegetarian, by order of the UEA climate crooks
Wholesale changes to the nation’s diet, with a move towards vegetarian food and away from beef and cheese, have been recommended by Government advisers.
A report commissioned by the Food Standards Agency suggests radical changes to what we eat and even how we cook. These include eating more seasonal produce to reduce transportation and switching to microwave ovens and pressure cookers to use less energy in preparing food.
Out would go beef, cheese, sugary foods and drinks such as tea, coffee and cocoa. In would come vegetables and pulses, together with yoghurt.
The FSA says the switch is necessary as part of a move to a diet that is low in greenhouse gases (GHG), which are associated with climate change.
The report, compiled by a team from the University of East Anglia, suggests that schools, hospitals and other public bodies should be expected to lead a change in national behaviour by putting low-GHG food on their menus. The university was at the centre of allegations last year that it had manipulated climate change data to magnify the problem.
Its report, called Food and Climate Change, will be controversial given that many people may baulk at being told what they should eat in order to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets.
However, the recommendations will be welcomed by vegetarian campaigners and those who support organic farming, which is recognised in the study as producing food that is lower in GHG.
But the National Farmers’ Union has ridiculed the idea that a shift to vegetarian food will combat climate change as ‘simplistic’. A spokesman said: ‘It is simply not true that fruit and vegetables are a better climate option than meat and milk. You have to look at how these crops are produced in terms of the energy used for growing and transport.’
The British elite prefers polite Malthusianism
The American woman paying British drug addicts to stop breeding is only saying out loud what more “respectable” people normally say in code
Barbara Harris, an American mother of four children whom she adopted from a crack addict, is offering British drug users a fix with a twist: cash for sterilisation.
Harris’s North Carolina-based charity Project Prevention has already paid 3,500 Americans addicted to drugs or alcohol to have sterilisations or to get long-term birth control. Now she is bringing the initiative to Britain and has been accused of taking advantage of vulnerable people and even of acting like Hitler. She is offering to pay £200 to any drug user in London, Glasgow, Bristol, Leicester and parts of Wales who agrees to be operated on. Critics claim her brash methods may work in America, but they have no place in Britain.
In truth, Harris’s highly distasteful Malthusianism is mirrored across polite British society. There are many charities and influential spokespeople here who try to cajole people into limiting the number of children they have. The only difference is that amongst Britain’s better-educated Malthusians, the preferred method for pregnancy prevention is moral bribery rather than financial bribery. Instead of cold, hard cash, ‘Our Malthusians’ use seemingly subtle, fluffy incentives to try to control fecundity, such as telling us that having smaller families will help reduce our carbon footprints and leave a more spacious, eco-diverse planet for the next generation.
Harris’s no-BS approach may jar with British sensibilities, but in the UK many a stiff upper lip has curled at the thought of rampant procreation ruining the planet. Only the other week, for instance, John Guillebaud, an emeritus professor of reproductive health and family planning at University College London, proposed a ‘non-rigid guideline to UK couples that a two-child maximum is the greatest contribution anyone can make to a habitable planet for our grandchildren’.
Guillebaud said the world is experiencing a ‘youthquake’ and proposed that doctors encourage patients not to have more than two children. The benevolent professor admitted that enforcing a Chinese-style one-child policy or socially stigmatising unplanned pregnancies would be bad things. Still, something must be done, he said, because larger families need larger cars and houses and use up more resources.
So while Harris tells her ‘clients’ that they have a responsibility not to pass on crack addictions to their kids, the esteemed professor tells couples that they have a responsibility not to pass on their ‘addiction to stuff’ to the next generation.
Guillebaud’s proposal is far from original. Last year, the green, overpopulation-obsessed outfit the Optimum Population Trust launched a ‘Stop at Two’ online pledge to encourage couples to limit their family size. Jonathon Porritt, a patron of OPT and previously an environmental adviser to the New Labour government, said ‘every additional human being is increasing the burden on this planet which is becoming increasingly intolerable’.
Such is the deep Malthusianism of sections of the eco-lobby that some greens don’t even need a handout from an American in order to get sterilised – they are doing it voluntarily. Some British women are getting sterilised in order to protect the planet from overpopulation. One, who works at an environmental organisation, got an abortion and then a sterilisation in order, she said, to help save the planet: ‘Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of overpopulation.’
Compared to the deranged worldview of deep greens, who see every pregnant woman as harbouring an environmental-disaster-in-the-making, Project Prevention looks positively tame. The odious Barbara Harris sees only one section of humanity, the drug addicts, as giving birth to a damaged kind of life – the respectable green movement sees every birth as potentially destructive.
You might say that in targeting drug addicts, Harris is saying that some people – Them – have no right to become parents. But the overpopulation debate is also riddled with prejudice about the ‘wrong’ kind of people having too many kids, whether it’s working-class people in Britain or black and Asian families in the developing world. Harris’s organisation is only saying more explicitly what the respectable Malthusians have learned to spin in the language of saving the planet and empowering women. Here is a woman who just comes right out and says it: some people are not worthy of having children. No mollycoddling, no subtle nudging; just a couple of hundred quid, a snip, and the problem is solved.
Of course, for the mainstream Malthusian lobby, talk of sterilisation sounds too much like eugenics; campaigning for couples to have just one child sounds too much like Chinese authoritarianism; and only criticising oversized Third World families is too much like colonialism. They far prefer initiatives such as the ‘stop at two or the planet gets it’ campaign, which is seen as being completely PC and acceptable in polite society. That is, they prefer moral blackmail to financial blackmail, warning us again and again that if we don’t stop breeding, the world will become an uninhabitable place. Is such baseless fearmongering about fecundity really that much better than giving cash to junkies on a Glasgow estate? In both cases, the aim is the same: to put pressure on people to stop breeding.
Harris’s cash-for-sterilisation incentive is insensitive and cruel. But the emotional blackmail of the mainstream sustainability school of thought is even more insidious, devious and tasteless. It poses everyone who has children as selfish and irresponsible, telling us that by having kids we are creating little carbon monsters who will grow up to be as addicted to stuff as their parents were.