Middle-aged Britons are healthier than Americans but die sooner ‘because our healthcare system is worse’
Middle-aged Britons are healthier than those in America but die earlier because our healthcare system is much worse, a report has found. NHS treatment of tumours, heart attacks and strokes is too ‘conservative’ and not as ‘aggressive’ as in the U.S. where more lives are saved as treatment is given sooner and with less consideration of cost.
Britons over the age of 50 are significantly healthier than their American counterparts, but they are 5 per cent less likely to live to the age of 80. They have far lower levels of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, mainly because obesity rates are not as high, a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found.
But the authors say the U.S. healthcare system is more effective at diagnosing potentially fatal diseases and treating them early. And they say national cancer screening programmes, such as that in place in the U.S. for prostate cancer, have drastically improved survival rates.
The study, carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and RAND Corporation research centre in Los Angeles, found that cancer rates in England for those aged 50 to 80 were 6.6 per cent, less than half the rate for the U.S. which was 13.7 per cent. In the same age group rates of heart disease were 14.6 per cent in England, compared to 25.4 per cent in the U.S., while diabetes levels were 8.13 per cent in England compared to 14.6 per cent in the U.S.
Once they reach the age of 80, men in the U.S. will live for an average of 7.6 years compared to English men, who will live for 7.1 years. Similarly 80-year-old women can expect to live for 9.1 years in America, compared to just 8.72 years in England.
The authors acknowledged the UK spends far less on healthcare – the NHS comprises just 7.2 per cent of GDP compared to the American healthcare system which takes up 16 per cent of GDP.
And critics warned vast sums of the NHS budget is wasted on bureaucracy rather than being spent on patient care.
James Smith, chair in labour markets and demographic studies at RAND, said: ‘This report isn’t a condemnation of the NHS. It’s just saying how countries make their healthcare systems work.
‘Sometimes there’s a let it happen attitude. Treatment of illnesses is much more aggressive in the U.S. than the UK. Doctors would refer to it as a conservative approach and want to simply get rid of the problem – such as removing a tumour immediately even if it turns out to be benign. The downside is that this costs the U.S.’
Last year a highly critical report by the Organisation for Economic Co-orporation and Development ranked the NHS alongside health services in Poland and the Czech Republic, far below those in France, Sweden and Germany.
Curse the judge, shout fanatics as the Muslim girl who knifed British MP smiles as she gets “life” in prison
A judge was subjected to a tirade of abuse in his own courtroom yesterday as he jailed an Al Qaeda-inspired Muslim woman for attempting to assassinate an MP.
Islamist protesters harangued Mr Justice Cooke from the public gallery at the Old Bailey, shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ (‘God is great’), ‘British go to hell’ and ‘Curse the judge’.
The outbursts came as Roshonara Choudhry, 21, was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing former minister Stephen Timms. Choudhry smiled broadly as the judge told her: ‘You said you ruined the rest of your life. You said it was worth it. You said you wanted to be a martyr.’
Choudhary has been found guilty of trying to murder Labour MP Stephen Timms. Today it can be revealed she had a hit list of politicians
Outside, a second group demonstrated as the judge told the high-flying student – who stabbed the politician twice in the stomach as ‘punishment’ for voting for the Iraq invasion – that she must serve at least 15 years behind bars.
The chaotic scenes unfolded as Home Secretary Theresa May dramatically revealed that the Al Qaeda gang behind last week’s ‘Lockerbie-style’ cargo plane bomb plot are already working in the UK.
In court the judge pointedly contrasted Mr Timms’ Christian beliefs with the ‘distorted thinking’ of his attacker, who refused to recognise the court and appeared by videolink for her sentencing.
‘I understand that he (Mr Timms) brings to bear his own faith, which upholds very different values from those which appear to have driven this defendant,’ he said. ‘Those values are those upon which the common law of this country was founded and include respect and love for one’s neighbour, for the foreigner in the land, and for those who consider themselves enemies, all as part of one’s love of God. ‘These values were the basis of our system of law and justice and I trust that they will remain so as well as motivating those, like Mr Timms, who hold public office.’
The stabbed MP yesterday backed calls for an overhaul of U.S. websites hosting terror videos. The MP, attacked at a constituency surgery, said: ‘My real worry about it all is that a very bright young woman with everything to live for would reach the conclusion that she should throw it all away by attempting to kill the local MP.
‘It is puzzling and alarming that she seems to have reached the conclusion by spending time on some website. ‘That raises questions about what’s on the web. As I understand it, the material she accessed would be illegal if it were hosted in the UK.’
Hundreds of videos inciting violence, including clips by the U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who inspired Choudhry to attempt to assassinate the MP, were removed from YouTube yesterday.
Their removal followed a private speech in the United States by security minister Baroness Neville-Jones in which she called on the White House to ‘take down this hateful material’.
Mr Timms, 55, describing the moment he was stabbed in East London in May by the smiling student, said: ‘I shouted out, “What was that for?”’ ‘That was the last thing that I expected to happen and there was absolutely no explanation to me. She didn’t say a word. It was a complete bolt out of the blue.’
After being disarmed by the MP’s assistant and held by a security guard, Choudhry told detectives the stabbing was ‘to get revenge for the people of Iraq’.
Sentencing Choudhry after she was found guilty of attempted murder and two counts of having an offensive weapon, the judge said that if she had succeeded in killing Mr Timms he would have given her a whole-life sentence, meaning she would never be released.
He told her: ‘You intended to kill in a political cause and to strike at those in Government by doing so. ‘You did so as a matter of deliberate decision-making, however skewed your reasons, from listening to those Muslims who incite such action on the internet.
‘You are an intelligent young lady who has absorbed immoral ideas and wrong patterns of thinking and attitudes. ‘It is not only possible, but I also hope that you will come to understand the distorted nature of your thinking, the evil that you have done and planned to do, and repent of it.’
He added: ‘You do not suffer from any mental disease. You have simply committed evil acts coolly and deliberately.’
Choudhry, from East Ham, East London, spoke only to confirm her name when she appeared by videolink for sentencing yesterday. Wearing a black headscarf, she sat placidly blinking behind her glasses as she watched proceedings on a screen in front of her.
The court heard she was a straight-A pupil and top university student at King’s College, London. She had hoped to become a teacher but dropped out weeks before carrying out the attack.
English language lecturer Alan Fortune said she was an outstanding student who had been expected to achieve a first class honours degree, adding: ‘The world was her oyster.’
Unfair trade: Ethical food ‘is not lifting Third World farmers out of poverty’
Sales of its food have boomed on the back of promises that it delivers a fair price and decent working conditions to Third World farmers. But Fairtrade products are failing to lift the farmers out of poverty, according to a study published today.
Less than 25 per cent of the price premium paid by shoppers for Fairtrade’s ‘ethical food’, such as coffee and chocolate, reaches the farmer, the controversial think-tank report suggests.
The study from the Institute of Economic Affairs says the high cost of joining the scheme prevents many of the poorest farmers from becoming members. The certification charge to join the organisation starts at £1,570 in the first year, which the IEA says is a huge sum for producers in the poorest countries.
The report – Fairtrade Without the Froth – says: ‘Fairtrade’s selling point to customers is that by paying a premium and buying certified products they will help producers in developing countries. ‘Although at the margins this may be true, research shows that Fairtrade is not a strategy for long-term development. Conventional trade is often more effective. ‘It is likely that producers end up with only a small fraction of the extra margin consumers pay.
‘Even analysts sympathetic to the movement have suggested that only 25 per cent of the premium reaches producers. No study ever produced has shown that the benefit to producers anything like matches the price premium paid.’
In fact, a number of retailers have made great play of the fact that their Fairtrade food and other products cost no more than those from conventional sources, so consumers are not paying any premium.
Fairtrade works with 1.3million farmers and, taking into account their workers and dependants, supports around seven million people.
In Britain, the Fairtrade Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation, licenses use of the Fairtrade mark. The foundation is part of Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International.
Big names such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, Starbucks, Green & Black’s and Ben & Jerry’s have added their commercial weight to the scheme. The net effect is that UK sales of Fairtrade products rose 12 per cent last year to reach £800million.
The IEA report follows studies by right of centre think-tanks, which have argued that the phenomenon actually keeps Third World farmers poor.
But Barbara Crowther, policy director of the Fairtrade Foundation, hit back at the criticism. ‘Increasingly, consumers are not paying any extra for Fairtrade products,’ she said. ‘For example, Sainsbury’s did not put up prices when it moved to Fairtrade bananas and Cadbury did not make its Dairy Milk bar any more expensive. ‘It is spurious to suggest Fairtrade costs more. People may choose to pay more for Fairtrade products, but that might be because of other attributes, in terms of quality and taste.’
She said the registration fees were not expensive and reflected the cost of auditing the farms involved. A fee of £1,570 could cover a farming co-op of 50 growers, which amounts to an average of just over £30 each.
‘Many studies have been published by independent academics which demonstrate that Fairtrade is making a real difference to people’s lives,’ she said.
British Liberal Party leader faces student leader’s anger at £9,000 cap on tuition fees
Nick Clegg faced the wrath of students today after his pre-election promise to end tuition fees was brutally exposed by a coalition plan to hike them as high as £9,000-a-year.
Furious student leaders met with the Deputy Prime Minister to discuss the Government announcement which revealed an almost three-fold increase in the current £3,290-a-year limit for the cost of courses.
Mr Clegg, who earlier appeared stony-faced in the House of Commons when Universities Minister David Willetts told MPs of the changes, was accused of a plot to ‘blow up education’ by one students’ union leader.
The changes – which will come into effect in 2012 will see the fee threshold moved to £6,000 with some institutions able to charge £9,000 in ‘exceptional circumstances’. This is a three-fold increase on the current limit of £3,290-a-year and means fees for a three-year course could hit £27,000. Students could face total debts of £40,000 once living costs are included.
The universities wanting to charge more than £6,000 will be subject to ‘fair access conditions’ and have to show they are improving access for disadvantaged students.
The Lib Dems fought the election promising to scrap tuition fees and have succeeded in blocking plans to allow elite universities to charge unlimited amounts.
Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the Government of ‘destroying trust in politics’ by breaking various pledges, including on university funding. He claimed it was a ‘Government of broken promises’ on fees, VAT and child benefit. ‘That is what they meant by Broken Britain,’ he said at PMQs. ‘The Prime Minister used to say he wanted to restore trust. All he is doing, day by day, is destroying trust in politics.’
Mr Cameron retorted that Labour had ‘completely broken their word’ on the Browne report on university funding, which the previous government had commissioned.
He insisted Lib Dem ministers had ‘all taken, frankly, some courageous and difficult decisions.’ ‘I think every single person in this House of Commons wants strong universities that are well funded, that have greater independence and we want to make sure that people from the poorest homes can go to the best universities in our country,’ he said.
‘That is what the proposals are going to achieve. They grew from a decision made by the last government to set up the Browne report and what a pity that opportunism has overtaken principle.’
Mr Willetts earlier told the Commons that the Government wanted to see universities offering scholarships to targeted students, making their first year free.
Institutions charging over the £6,000 threshold would face sanctions if they did not do enough for poorer pupils, with a proportion of their extra income diverted into outreach activities.
The Minister insisted the proposals were a ‘good deal for universities and for students’.
‘These proposals offer a thriving future for universities, with extra freedoms and less bureaucracy, and they ensure value for money and real choice for learners,’ he said.
Today’s plans will see students begin to repay their loans at 9 per cent of their income at a real rate of interest when they earn £21,000 – up from £15,000.
Outstanding loans will be written off after 30 years but those who want to pay off theirs early will be hit with a financial penalty in a victory for the Lib Dems.
Tory ministers were thought to oppose moves that would hit middle-class parents who help their children but the concession was made to their coalition partners.
Mr Willetts said: ‘The Government is committed to the progressive nature of the repayment system.
‘It is therefore important that those on the highest incomes post graduation are not able unfairly to buy themselves out of this progressive system by paying off their loans early.
‘We will consult on potential early repayment mechanisms – similar to those paid by people who pre-pay their mortgages. These mechanisms would need to ensure that graduates on modest incomes who strive to pay off their loans early through regular payments are not penalised.’