‘Abandoned’ cancer patients turn to Emergency Room: Number of self-referrals has doubled in a decade
Cases of cancer patients having to refer themselves to A&E have doubled in the past decade, jeopardising survival rates.
There were 140,000 self-referrals in 2008/09, compared with 70,000 in 2000/01, the latest figures from the National Audit Office show.
Campaigners say this is because cancer sufferers are ‘abandoned’ and not properly supervised after their initial treatment.
They pointed out that if patients spot symptoms of their cancer returning between scheduled appointments, they can feel there is no option but to turn to emergency services.
The figures are for the number of hospital visits, not patients, so include patients who have had to self-refer several times.
Research shows survival rates among patients diagnosed with cancer as a result of an A&E admission are about half of those for people urgently referred to a specialist by their GP.
The NAO report also showed that one in five of all cancer-sufferers admitted to A&E, however referred, discovers they have cancer only during their hospital stay.
Karen Taylor, who led the NAO team, said it was well known that cancer survival rates in England were lagging behind comparable European countries.
But ‘incomplete and inconsistent’ data on how advanced patients’ cancers are make it difficult to analyse why this is so – or even whether money being poured into cancer care is making a difference.
Cancer costs the NHS around £6.3billion a year, but the Department of Health has ‘limited assurance’ over whether its strategy is achieving value for money, she added.
The chances of patients getting an urgent referral to hospital for suspected cancer symptoms vary enormously around England, says the report.
There is a fourfold difference between primary care trusts and an eightfold difference between GPs.
Similar variations exist in spending per head on cancer care, from £55 to £154 between different regions – with no guarantee that those getting the most spent on them get better care, it says. Hundreds of millions of pounds a year could be saved if PCTs all performed at the level of the most efficient, says the report.
Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘The NHS won’t be able to support the growing number of cancer patients unless it seriously ups its game.
‘If the NHS does not provide appropriate services after patients leave hospital, they can expect to see a massive increase in costs as cancer patients are forced to use emergency services.
‘Abandoning cancer patients after treatment is no longer acceptable, nor does it make any financial sense.’
Mike Hobday, head of policy at the charity, said: ‘We are working with the NHS to trial different ways patients will be able to trigger an appointment with a doctor or nurse if they need to.
‘One option is having a telephone service manned by cancer nurses who can talk through any symptoms or problems patients have, set up appointments if necessary and direct them to the appropriate support.
‘More importantly, GPs, cancer doctors and nurses must respond to patients’ concerns and realise that recurrence does not follow a set timetable which conveniently matches the regular follow-up appointment schedule.’
David Stout, director of the NHS Confederation’s primary care trust network, said there had been major improvements in cancer care but further progress was needed.
Cannabis-crazed schizophrenic free to murder policeman after care in the community scaled back his treatment
A catalogue of NHS blunders led to the death of a policeman who confronted a deranged knifeman, a damning report concluded yesterday.
PC Jon Henry, 36, was stabbed to death after answering a 999 call about an attack on a window cleaner. When he arrived in Luton town centre he was attacked by cannabis user Tennyson Obih [above], 31, a paranoid schizophrenic who had not taken his medication for six months.
The independent report yesterday blamed cost-cutting by NHS chiefs and failures by front-line and senior mental health staff to take action as Obih’s mental state deteriorated.
It said: ‘We identified a series of management and clinical failings starting from the decision to close the early intervention service [which monitored mental health patients]. ‘The cumulative effect of these failings was that at the time of the incident Mr Obih’s illness was untreated and his wellbeing was effectively unmonitored. ‘We find therefore that the incident might not have occurred if he had been suitably treated.’
It also warned: ‘In the current economic climate, it is likely that other trusts may find themselves in a similar position.’
The closure of Luton Early Intervention Team – which was run by Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Social Care Partnership – as part of a £20million savings drive, was identified as the root of the tragedy. Luton South East Community Mental Health Team took over in September 2006 but was in contact with Obih far less frequently.
The report, by independent health investigations organisation Verita, said: ‘For example, in the two months before transfer he had 36 contacts with the early intervention team, compared with 16 with the community team in the four months after. ‘Between January and June 2007 he took no medication for his mental illness and met his care co-ordinator only four times.’
During his trial last year it emerged that Nigerian-born Obih believed he had special powers, including predicting the future and making objects vibrate by pointing at them. At 7am on June 11, 2007, he armed himself with a large knife and went to Luton town centre. After stabbing window cleaner Steven Chamberlain, 55, in the back, he attacked PC Henry, who was the first officer on the scene.
The married father of one died from two stab wounds to his chest, one of which punctured his lung.
Margaret Berry, of NHS Luton, said: ‘The board accepts the findings of this investigation. ‘We have been able to learn many lessons from this sad case.’
Five Muslim boys and white girl, all 12, excluded over Facebook death threats to classmate who supported British troops
A 13-year-old boy who penned an online Remembrance Day tribute to Britain’s fallen soldiers was subjected to a vicious hate campaign by fellow pupils. A gang of 12-year-old pupils made up of five Muslim boys and one non-Muslim girl made death threats to Darius Gill involving knives and knuckle-dusters because of his support for British troops.
One member of the gang also posted a picture of himself holding a rifle and threatened to hijack a plane. The campaign was backed by more pupils belonging to a self-styled ‘Muslim Defence League’ celebrating British deaths in Afghanistan. The abuse was so serious that police are now investigating.
On November 11, Darius – whose father is Asian – wrote on Facebook: ‘RIP to all the lads who never made it home.’ He also posted two pictures showing British troops on Armistice Day. He was then branded ‘racist’ and two of the accused pupils began a flurry of online messages to each other setting out what they were going to do to him.
One wrote to Darius on Facebook criticising him for failing to acknowledge the dead Muslim soldiers in the Middle East.
Darius explained that Remembrance Day honoured British troops and pointed out that he was paying tribute to his great-great uncle, who died aged only 17 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
The students attend the 1,250-pupil Sidney Stringer Academy in Coventry. Muslim pupils make up 65 per cent of the school, which caters for children aged 11-18.
The main six pupils, none of whom can be named for legal reasons, have now been suspended and may be expelled over their chilling threats. One of the online messages – which were littered with spelling mistakes – read: ‘Fight on Monday gonna be heavy knuckle dusters and knifes hopefully I don’t die.’
Another pupil added: ‘ill bang [attack] him ma slef [myself] am a terrorist.’ One pupil’s Facebook profile is full of chilling references to Islamic fundamentalism and shows a picture of him posing with an AK47 rifle.
He also penned a terrifying poem about hijacking a plane. On November 12, he wrote: ‘You better watch what the **** flies outta ya mouth. Or I’ma hijack a plane and fly it into your house. ‘Burn your apartment with your family tied to the couch. And slit your throat, so when you scream, only blood comes out.’
Other pupils from the Muslim Defence League added comments condemning Darius. Fortunately, Darius’s mother Clare Allington read the comments on her son’s Facebook page on Monday morning – the day of the promised attack – and immediately pulled her son out of school.
Yesterday, Mrs Allington, 42, a mature student from Coventry, said: ‘I logged on and it broke my heart. I was reading all sorts about knuckle-dusters, knives and death. ‘They were planning to attack him at school that day so I rang the school straight away.’
She added that she usually keeps an eye on her son’s posts on Facebook every day but had not done so last weekend. She only read them on Monday. She added: ‘If I hadn’t read the threats and pulled my son out of school he could be dead. ‘They might just be schoolchildren but they are fanatical and dangerous. The threats have to be taken seriously.’
Even yesterday, one of the yobs bragged about being quizzed by police and continued his online threats to attack Darius. He wrote: ‘Im in trouble wiv de police cuz of susspician of threat to Darius … Im banggin Darius Thursday.’ He goes on to say he wants a one-on-one fight and demands that no one defends Darius.
Yesterday Darius said he was now too frightened to wear a poppy and claims he has been picked on at school because he is not Muslim.
Mrs Allington added: ‘My son wrote supporting the British troops in Afghanistan and also said he was sad so many soldiers had died. ‘The so-called Muslim Defence League, which has been set up in the school by a number of pupils, believe that Darius should join them in hating British soldiers. It’s appalling and extremely upsetting for Darius.’
Sidney Stringer Academy’s principal, Wendy Thomas, said Facebook was an increasing concern for schools. She said the children have been told to remove the comments from the site. She said: ‘Darius is the victim of bullying. All the students involved have told me they did not mean what they said but they will learn a hard lesson from this.
‘Facebook is a big concern for schools and we urge all parents to monitor what their children say on the site. As soon as the school was notified about the comments on Monday we interviewed the pupils. ‘No weapons were found on any of the pupils. We notified the police and they are investigating.’
1,000 pupils sent home from British schools for assaults on teachers and pupils every day
Almost 1,000 pupils a day are sent home from school for attacking or verbally abusing fellow pupils or staff, it was revealed yesterday. Schools Minister Nick Gibb released figures showing that schools were forced to expel or suspend pupils 182,090 times for abuse or physical assaults in the 2008/09 academic year.
The revelation came as experts said bad behaviour in schools was worse than stated by officials because heads routinely hid classroom troublemakers from Ofsted inspectors. Education specialists said Ofsted reports claiming most behaviour in schools was ‘good’ were ‘not worth the paper they were written on’.
Tom Trust, a former member of the General Teaching Council for England, yesterday told a cross-party group of MPs that he was aware of schools which had managed to ensure Ofsted never saw classes with unruly pupils. The worst pupils were suspended or taught by supply teachers on the days of inspections. Inspectors do not watch lessons taken by supply teachers.
A White Paper being published next week is expected to contain detailed proposals for tackling discipline problems. Schools will be given tougher powers to restrain unruly pupils, frisk youngsters for mobile phones and pornography and punish anti-social behaviour outside school.
Teachers will get greater rights to anonymity if accused by pupils, to guard against false allegations, while a requirement on schools to give 24 hours’ written notice of detentions will be waived, allowing schools to administer the sanction immediately.
Mr Gibb said: ‘It’s time to put teachers back in control of the classroom. We need to strip away the bureaucracy that far too often prevents them from maintaining good behaviour.’
Mr Gibb’s figures show that primary, secondary and special schools expelled or suspended pupils 182,090 times in 2008/09 for assaults and abuse – equivalent to 958 youngsters every school day.
The disclosure comes a day after a report warned that thousands of classroom troublemakers were being prematurely returned to school after committing serious offences.
The Centre for Policy Studies think-tank branded short-term suspensions – typically just a few days – as ‘madness’ and said ‘very little’ could be done with badly behaved children who were removed from school for less than a year.
Whistleblower Katharine Birbalsingh, who was sacked from her role as deputy head teacher for outspoken comments at the Conservative Party conference, yesterday told the education select committee hearing that bad behaviour was ‘common’.
She said: ‘Often you get two or three very badly behaved children but bad behaviour spreads like a cancer.’ Teachers should be held to account for bad behaviour, she added. ‘If a school is in chaos, senior teachers are doing something wrong. We should hold them to account.’
British High Court considers barring Christian foster parents
Clergy argues, ‘This ‘equality’ privileges homosexual rights over those of others’
The stunning, benchmark case of a Christian couple told they may not be able to be foster parents under new laws dictating sensitivity to homosexual children is now awaiting judgment from Britain’s High Court.
Owen and Eunice Johns of Derby, England, had cared for more than a dozen foster children through 1993, but when in 2007 they wished to resume foster care, they were required to reapply with their city council.
In the interval, however, Britain passed the Sexual Orientation Regulations and the Equality Act, which led a social worker to question whether a Christian couple would be “fit” to care for a potentially homosexual child.
Mrs. Johns told London’s Daily Mail, “The council said, ‘Do you know, you would have to tell them that it’s OK to be homosexual?'” “But I said I couldn’t do that,” Johns continued, “because my Christian beliefs won’t let me. Morally, I couldn’t do that. Spiritually I couldn’t do that.”
The Johns appealed to the courts, hoping it would force their council to clarify whether Christians with traditional views on sexual ethics would be forbidden from adopting foster children.
The groundbreaking legal collision of homosexual “rights” and the freedom of religion has generated extensive public attention, including an open letter from several British clergy signed by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton.
“The High Court is to be asked to rule on whether Christians are ‘fit people’ to adopt or foster children – or whether they will be excluded, regardless of the needs of children, from doing so because of the requirements of homosexual rights,” the clergy write. “This ‘equality,’ however, privileges homosexual rights over those of others.”
“There is a ‘clash of rights,’ which the court must settle,” the clergy continue. “If the court believes that those with traditional Christian views on homosexuality can be discriminated against, the state has taken a position on a moral question, namely that such religious belief is problematic.” They conclude, “We trust and pray that common sense and justice will be done.”
The Christian Legal Centre, which campaigns for religious freedoms, is representing the Johns. “The case will decide whether the Johns will be able to foster without compromising their beliefs,” the CLC said in a statement. “The implications are huge. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of Christian foster carers and adoptive parents hangs in the balance.”
Andrea Minichiello-Williams, director of the CLC further told the Mail, “That the court even needs to consider this is a remarkable reversal in the concept of the public good and the traditional definition of sexual morality.”
Ben Summerskill of the lesbian, “gay” and bisexual rights charity Stonewall, however, told the newspaper the interests of a child should become before the “prejudices of a parent.” “Many Christian parents of gay children will be shocked at Mr. and Mrs. Johns’s views, which are more redolent of the 19th century than the 21st,” Summerskill said.
Britain’s High Court, which is similar to a federal district court in the U.S., heard testimony earlier this month and is expected to take up to six weeks to hand down its decision.
In the hearings, the Derby City Council was represented by Jeremy Weston, who told the court that the Johns’ application had technically never been decided and the council was also waiting for judicial review of the case. “The city council needs clarity on this matter,” he said. “It defends diversity and equality and has treated the Johns as it would have treated anyone else. It would be inappropriate for the council to approve foster carers who cannot meet minimum standards.”
Weston also said, however, “It would be difficult and impractical to match children with Mr. and Mrs. Johns if they feel that strongly.”
Weston added that the Johns’ application could also be ultimately denied should the Johns be found “unsuitable” for other reasons, including “if Mrs. Johns’ attendance at church twice on a Sunday would limit available time [to care for children].”
Let’s blow Britain’s free speech restrictions sky-high
Note to Twitterers: freedom of speech must extend to offensive comments as well as jokes about airports
Doncaster Crown Court’s decision last week to refuse the appeal of a man convicted of making threatening statements on Twitter is bad news for freedom of expression. Many Twitter-users have pointed this out. Yet events over the past year suggest that while Twitter can be used to demand free speech – as the reaction to the appeal verdict shows – it can also echo the censoriousness that runs through society today.
Paul Chambers, a 26-year-old finance manager, had been planning a trip to Ireland to meet a woman he’d met online when he heard that Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster was closed due to snow. He posted the following message on his Twitter account: ‘Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!’ Nothing more than a casual expression of frustration that was not in any way intended to be taken seriously by anyone: just the kind of think-out-loud remark that is made all the time on Twitter. Indeed, the very purpose of the website is to allow such spontaneous, informal messaging.
The remark was drawn to the attention of the head of security at Robin Hood Airport, who also did not take it seriously. Nonetheless, the incident was passed on to the police and, in January this year, Chambers was arrested on suspicion of making an apparent bomb hoax. As Chambers described in an article for the Guardian in May: ‘Call me naive or ignorant, but the heightened state of panic over terror issues was not something I considered as relating to me in any way – until I was arrested, shoved into a police car in front of colleagues, hauled off to Doncaster police station, and interviewed for the rest of the day. My iPhone, laptop and desktop hard drive were confiscated during a search of my house. It was terrifying and humiliating.’
However, as legal commentator David Allen Green noted in May, while the authorities wanted to prosecute Chambers, actually proving that his off-the-cuff remark amounted to a bomb hoax would have been extremely difficult. So instead, Chambers was charged under the Communications Act 2003 with making a menacing communication, an offence created with the aim of protecting women from nuisance phone calls.
He was convicted in May and ordered to pay £1,000 in fines and costs. As a result of the case, he lost his job and his plan to work as an accountant has been ruined. However, surely someone along the line would understand that his post had been in jest? Not a bit of it. On Thursday, at Doncaster Crown Court, Judge Jacqueline Davies declared: ‘Anyone in this country in the present climate of terrorist threats, especially at airports, could not be unaware of the possible consequences.’ She ruled that Chambers’ Twitter message was ‘menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed.’ Not only was Chambers’ conviction confirmed, but he was saddled with paying the additional costs of the appeal.
The ruling brought outrage from other, high-profile Twitter users, including comedians Dara O’Briain, Stephen Fry and David Mitchell. By Friday, a thread was raging on Twitter with users re-tweeting Chambers’ original statement under the hashtag #IAmSpartacus – a nod to the finale of the Kirk Douglas movie when the defeated slave army all claim to be Spartacus in solidarity with their leader, even though they knew they risked being executed. This tweet meme soon became a news story in its own right.
The ruling against Chambers is of course a bone-headed one and a threat to the freedom of social network users to speak their minds. Although tweets are broadcast to the world, they are still a personal matter that should not be regulated by the state. As such, the #IAmSpartacus response is to be welcomed as an instinctive reaction to the use of the law in this manner.
However, while the reaction to Chambers’ experience is a healthy one, it relies rather heavily on the facts of this particular case. It would be better to argue that any expression of opinion should be regarded as being protected from state intervention. For example, take the case of Gareth Compton, a Conservative councillor in Birmingham. After hearing the Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown talking on BBC Radio Five Live about human rights, Compton tweeted: ‘Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing, really. #R5L’
Compton is, not unexpectedly, being hauled over the coals by his party for his off-colour remark. But the comment was every bit as tongue-in-cheek as Chambers’, though even less amusing. Yet it is clear there is far less sympathy for Compton, who was arrested on Thursday under the same law that Chambers was convicted under. To his credit, former Lib Dem MP Evan Harris noted the similarities between the two cases, arguing that in relation to the 2003 Act, ‘a change in the law is needed because the chill on irreverent expression on the internet will remain’ regardless of the outcome of the two cases themselves.
But what if Chambers or Compton hadn’t been joking? Allowing the authorities to decide what may or may not be said online is a bad idea, full stop, even if the comments made are widely deemed to be offensive.
Moreover, as the reaction to Jan Moir’s comments in the Daily Mail about the late Boyzone singer Stephen Gateley showed, Twitter users can just as easily be censorious in one context and upholders of free expression in another. Moir’s article was widely regarded as anti-gay, provoking a storm of angry commentary from Stephen Fry and Charlie Brooker, particularly on Twitter. With a thousand appeals to the Press Complaints Commission to take action against Moir, there seem to be some things which, in the eyes of the Twitterati, you are not allowed to say (see I am offended, therefore I am, by Tim Black).
Let’s hope that both Chambers and Compton are eventually exonerated, and that the 2003 Act is changed to remove this cloud hanging over free comment online. More than that, we need to accept, as a society, the right of anyone to express a view, no matter how much it is deemed offensive to some.
‘I want to be remembered for the science’ says Phil ‘Climategate’ Jones to chorus of titters
Professor Phil Jones, the ’scientist’ at the heart of the Climategate emails has spoken out. “Hopefully they will remember me for the scientific papers I have written rather than the emails,” he has said in an interview with the mysterious, paywall-hidden void that used to be known as the Times.
Unsurprisingly, Prof Jones repeated the popular ecofascist mantra that the reason increasingly large numbers of people are sceptical of “Climate Change” is not because of the science but because it suits their evil, selfish, comfort-centric lifestyles.
“I think some people want to believe that we are not able to affect the climate and want to use any bit of evidence to promote the case for doing nothing. They think that [to do something] might lead to such a change in our lifestyles.”
Apparently, says Prof Jones, things have got so bad that there is almost no good science anywhere on the internet any more. According to the Times, channeling Jones: “Google searches for key scientific papers yielded long lists of dismissive postings by sceptics and it was hard to find the actual research. “It’s way down there because of the way Google works. People will potentially get the misinformation first.”
To which this blog says: “Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!” And then adds ruefully: “If bloody only!”
Jones goes on to express his “regrets” for the various incriminating emails which made him a global laughing stock and destroyed the credibility of the Climatic Research Unit, the IPCC and the junk science of the AGW industry generally. Apparently, emails like the one where he referred to “Mike’s Nature Trick” being used to “Hide the decline”, and the one where he encouraged colleagues to breach FOI laws by deleting emails, were “sent in haste.”
Unlike the normal emails the rest of us send, presumably, over which we deliberate for hours and send very, very slowly.
Oh, and it turns out the real villain of the piece is George Monbiot. Jones is still spitting blood over Monbiot’s call for his resignation in the wake of the Climategate emails. “He didn’t retract it for months until after the Muir Russell review came out and even then it was somewhat begrudging. To me it showed he didn’t understand how science was done.”
With you, there, Prof. With you totally.
Astrophyscist and forecaster Piers Corbyn comments:
Well! I will remember Phil Jones even if his tricks get forgotten. I will remember that:
1) In his Emails he named me (in haste??) as Public Enemy number ONE on the Europe side of the Atlantic – in terms of opposing his CO2-led theory of climate change;
2) In E mails, he and his cronies declared they would move heaven and Earth through their very extensive network to prevent publication of work from ‘skeptics’ such as me and others. And then his crew and the like complain that I haven’t published enough!!! Do they really want more?
3) ALL the predictions since 2000 of Jones’ et al’s CO2 warmist theory have FAILED. CO2 theory can predict nothing, whereas our solar-magnetic lunar approach has proven success and independently proven significant skill – for example in correctly predicting the last two cold & snowy winters and previous floody summers, wheres traditional warmest meteorology predicted the opposite.
Jones, these are scientific tests. You failed.
For the record there is NO EVIDENCE that CO2 changes drive world temperature or climate change in the REAL world & biosphere; and the campaign to reverse the insanity of CO2 Warmist fraudulent pseudo-science and abolish the Climate Change Act is gathering strength – see the report & pics! of Climate Fools Day Conference 27 Oct in Parliament via http://www.weatheraction.com/ and links therein