Britain has highest rates of dangerous superbug in Europe
Not a very strong study but cause for concern nonetheless
Britain has the highest proportion of a dangerous ‘super-strain’ of the hospital bug Clostridium difficile in Europe, according to a new study. There are dozens of strains of C-diff, a bug which takes hold in vulnerable hospital patients who have been treated with antibiotics and causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting. It can be fatal. Overuse of antibiotics and poor hygiene are thought to be the cause of the disease spreading.
A new Europe-wide study investigated cases of C-diff in a selection of hospitals in 29 countries, examining a particularly dangerous strain called 027.
The results, published in The Lancet medical journal, show that across Europe, the 027 strain accounted for just five per cent of all C.diff cases, making it only the sixth most common variant. But in the British hospitals where samples were tested, the rate was at least 25 per cent of C.diff cases, one in four.
The latest data from the Health Protection Agency shows there are around 25,500 C.diff cases in England a year meaning that if the pattern were repeated across the country then thousands of patients are suffering the more dangerous strain.
Lead author Dr Martijn Bauer, of the Leiden University Medical Centre, and the National Centre for Infectious Disease Control, in The Netherlands, said: “Although we emphasise that C difficile infection incidence rates of participating hospitals were not representative of national incidence rates, many hospitals with high rates of C difficile infection were from countries in northern and central Europe. “Most of these countries are thought to have low antibiotic consumption per head, even during the winter respiratory infection season.”
Previous studies have suggested the 027 strain is found in around a quarter of all hospitals in England.
C.diff infection accounted for the most patient bed days In Finland at 19.1 per 10,000 bed days but hospitals there also did the most testing for the infection.
One patient in a hospital bed for one day counts as one patient bed day and is used as a measure of how much healthcare resource certain diseases account for. C.diff accounted for 10.6 bed days per 10,000 in Britain, the third highest proportion. Six hospitals, that were not named, took part in the research from Britain.
Last year C.diff 027 was associated with an outbreak at Eastbourne District Hospital in which 13 people died and a further 17 contracted the disease. C.diff was behind Britain’s worst hospital superbug scandal at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust where it was linked to the deaths of 331 people over two years.
The paper in The Lancet added that another strain called 078 was very closely related to the disease found in animals suggesting it can jump between species and may be passed on in animal food products.
A spokesman for the Health Protection Agency, which monitors C.diff rates in England, said: “Since 2007 the rate of C. difficile infection (CDI) in England has fallen markedly from 11.1 cases per 10,000 population in 2007/08 to 5.1 per 10,000 population in 2009/10. “Hospitals are encouraged to continue to submitting samples, so that they can be best placed to continue to identify clusters of cases and so prevent and control CDI. This will also afford the greatest chance of identifying emergent C. difficile ribotypes, including those that are more common in some other countries in Europe.”
Plastic pig banned from UK toy set for fear of offending Muslims
Trying to drag Jews into it is a lot of rubbish. Jews have their own dietary laws for themselves but they don’t try to tell others what to do
Toy shop bosses removed a plastic pig from a children’s toy farm set because they feared it would upset Muslim and Jewish parents. A mother who complained to toy store Early Learning Centre (ELC) when she found the pig missing was told it had been removed for “religious reasons,” British newspaper The Sun reported.
The mother, named only as Caroline, found there was no pig with the cow, sheep, chicken, horse and dog in the store’s HappyLand Goosefeather Farm. Caroline, who brought the toy for her daughter’s first birthday, said the farm set still contained an empty sty and a button that made an oinking noise when pressed.
But after writing to ELC’s customer services she got an email reply admitting the pig was removed in case it upset Muslim or Jewish parents. Both religions ban the eating of pork because they consider the pig an unclean animal.
The email said: “Previously the pig was part of the Goosefeather Farm. However due to customer feedback and religious reasons this is no longer part of the farm.”
ELC confirmed it had taken the pig out of the set when contacted by The Sun. A spokesman said: “The decision to remove the pig was taken in reaction to customer feedback in some parts of the world.”
But later they said they would replace the pig in the set but no longer sell it in international markets where it may create offence.
British Tories to axe ‘ridiculous’ equality law
Theresa May will today scrap a ‘ridiculous’ Harriet Harman equality law dubbed ‘socialism in one clause’. The controversial rule would have forced town halls to take into account inequalities when making policy decisions.
But in a speech today, the Home Secretary will say the law would have led to more bureaucracy and people in better-off areas missing out on valued services.
Mrs May had until next year to decide whether to implement the rule which was part of the Labour deputy leader’s Equality Act. Now she has ruled it will be ditched. The Home Secretary will say: ‘Just look at the socio-economic duty which Harriet Harman slipped into the Equality Act at the last minute. Many have called it socialism in one clause.
‘Harman’s Law, as it affectionately came to be known, was meant to force public authorities to take into account disadvantage and inequalities when making decisions about their policies. ‘In reality, it would have been just another bureaucratic box to be ticked. At its worst, it could have meant public spending permanently skewed towards certain parts of the country.
‘Council services like bin collections and bus routes designed not on the basis of practical need but on this one politically-motivated target.’
She said Labour thought they could make things better ‘by simply passing a law saying that they should be made better’. ‘That was as ridiculous as it was simplistic and that is why we are announcing that we are scrapping Harman’s Law for good.’
The Coalition has implemented other parts of the Equality Act. One created ‘third party harassment’, under which workers can sue over banter they find offensive, even if aimed at someone else. Critics said it signalled the end of the office joke.
Mrs May still has to decide on another clause from the Act. ‘Equal pay audits’ would force firms to reveal how much they pay men compared to women.
How to win friends and influence people
Britain’s Labour party needs a substantial slice of the middle-class vote to win elections. But in all the Leftist hate that sometimes gets forgotten
A Labour frontbencher has launched an astonishing attack on middle-class voters, branding them liars, racists, drunkards and even paedophiles. Eric Joyce, the party’s Northern Ireland spokesman, condemned the public for attacking lying politicians when they themselves may be ‘living lies’ at home.
In his rant, Mr Joyce condemned ‘articulate and intelligent’ parents for putting the interests of their own children over those of the poor. He accused parents of hypocrisy for condemning drug use while drinking too much and said that MPs were right to appeal to the worst instincts of voters, including racism.
Mr Joyce even condemned attitudes to the danger of paedophiles, pointing out that most sex offenders target young victims within their own families.
He delivered his outburst in an article called Liar, Know Thyself for the website Labour Uncut. He spoke out after shamed former minister Phil Woolas was ousted by an election court for whipping up racial tensions with false claims about his opponent.
Mr Joyce said: ‘Here’s the truth. It’s hard to lie as a politician because everything we say is subject to enormous scrutiny. ‘But politicians know the lies a lot of people live and they pitch to you accordingly. ‘There’s a lot of lying going on, for sure. But [critics] might want to reflect on who is really doing the lying.’
The Falkirk MP said the middle classes ‘hunt for the best deal they can get for those they love’ and then ‘avert their eyes from the reality that if they win some others will lose’ and ‘put together ropey arguments whose main function is to mitigate their guilt’.
The outburst backs up Tory claims that Labour is not the party of aspiration and has a lax attitude toward hard drugs. Michael Fallon, the party’s deputy chairman, said: ‘This extraordinary online rant demonstrates contempt for the electorate. ‘Yet again, it calls Ed Miliband’s judgment into question. Only a few weeks ago he appointed Eric Joyce to Labour’s front bench.’
Mr Joyce accused parents of condemning drug use among the young while drinking heavily themselves. ‘Alcohol does immeasurably more societal and personal damage than ecstasy; but it’s available on tap,literally, while ecstasy’s an A-class drug,’ he wrote.
‘Many people support “the war on drugs” knowing that … it’s completely ineffectual, while doing their own impressive bit for the Treasury down at the pub. ‘So they feel OK for their pain-free opposition to “bad” substance abuse by the generation behind them while indulging themselves on the stuff their own generation deems OK.’
Tacitly accusing voters, like those who backed Mr Woolas, of racism, Mr Joyce said: ‘When desperate politicians in some tightly-fought marginals are tempted into grey areas of language and insinuation, they’re barking up the wrong tree. But on the other hand, perhaps they’re not.’
And in comments that many parents will find insulting, he said: ‘What about, say, child abuse? How much does “stranger danger” dominate public discourse, when the overwhelming majority of it takes place in the household?’
Sources close to the Opposition leader revealed that Mr Joyce will be disciplined by party whips. A Labour spokesman said: ‘Our top priority is to look out for the people of Britain. We have the highest respect for every voter – no matter who they support.’
A chastened Mr Joyce sought to backtrack last night. He said: ‘I was simply saying that issues are not always as straightforward as they seem. I have the highest respect for the public and I would never insult voters.’
Mr Joyce was elected to Parliament in 2005 and achieved notoriety as the MP with the largest expenses. [The pot calling the kettle black]
Many universities are ‘broke’ and won’t be bailed out — while top universities may go private, warns British education chief
Failing universities will not be propped up by the Government, leaving them at risk of closure. Many are ‘broke’ and should not be bailed out but allowed to close, Vince Cable said.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Girls’ Schools Association in Manchester yesterday, the Business Secretary added that the rise in tuition fees would force universities to reform and become more competitive.
‘We already have a lot of universities that are effectively broke. If they were in the private sector they would have been filing for bankruptcy. Various arrangements have been cobbled together to keep them going, and we can’t continue to do that,’ he said.
Ministers are thinking carefully about how such events would be managed, Mr Cable said. ‘If a bank goes bust, it has got to be allowed to close, not to its depositors, the depositors have got to be protected. The depositors are the students. ‘So if somebody signs up for a university degree course and the university then goes bust, those students must have the right to continue their higher education.
Dr Cable also said the tuition fee rise, which prompted a mass student protest last week, was brought in to stop top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, LSE and UCL from going private. But he admitted he could not guarantee that no university will become a private institution in the future.
He said: ‘One of the reasons were are doing this is precisely to head off Oxford, Cambridge, London Schools of Economics, University College London and a few others from going private, because if we had not opened up the system in the way we have, they would have had a very strong incentive to do so. ‘Whether we shall head them off, I don’t know.’
Mr Cable said that the Browne review of student funding, published last month, called for universities to be able to set their own tariffs – which could have meant fees of up to £15,000. The Government rejected this because of concerns about the cost to pupils, particularly those from poorer backgrounds.
Mr Cable, who studied at Cambridge University, said he would ‘very much regret it’ if the institution opted out of the public funding system, but added he does not think they will, as the new proposals have ‘enough in it for them’. He added: ‘I find it it difficult somehow to imagine Oxbridge opting out, because they have got all these different colleges, they’ve got different institutions, how are they going to manage that?
‘It’s a little bit like bankers who say if you’re going to put some kind of tax on us we’ll run away to Singapore. ‘Universities have been playing this game with us – let us have unlimited caps or we’ll privatise.
‘I don’t believe it. I think what we’re proposing is a fair settlement which will provide them with enough income to provide high quality education and which is also fair to the pupils.’
Cambridge University has previously said that reports it is considering going private are ‘pure speculation’.
Ministers have announced plans to raise the tuition fee cap to £6,000, with universities able to charge up to £9,000 in ‘exceptional circumstances’. MPs are expected to vote on the proposal before the end of the year.