If someone needs advanced procedures to save their lives, the NHS doesn’t want to know you
When four-year-old Jamie Inglis was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of cancer, his parents faced a seemingly impossible challenge: find £400,000 for a lifesaving procedure or consign their little boy to a probable death sentence. John Inglis, 38, and his 35-year-old wife Vicky were told that their son’s neuroblastoma was so advanced he stood less than a 30 per cent chance of surviving.
But while researching Jamie’s condition on the internet, the couple found out about a pioneering antibody treatment in the U.S. which could dramatically improve the odds – at a price.
So Mr and Mrs Inglis set up an online appeal, went out with collection buckets and asked for help from strangers in Yorkshire and in Germany, where they were stationed with the Army when Jamie was diagnosed. Colleagues in the forces took up the challenge with fundraising events and coffee mornings. One group cycled hundreds of miles to raise cash, another woman handed over all her 60th birthday money, a stranger donated £8,500 from a trust fund and one charity gave more than £40,000.
‘It really was unbelievable,’ said Mrs Inglis at the family’s home in York. ‘What happened was truly humbling and we will never be able to thank everyone properly.’
There was a strict deadline for the family to find the money, as Jamie had to begin the antibody procedures in Philadelphia within 100 days of undergoing a stem cell transplant operation in Germany – and the bill had to be settled before treatment could start.
Mr Inglis, an environmental health technician with the Royal Medical Corps, said: ‘We never thought we could do it at first. Jamie was so sick and the doctors advised us that it was such a difficult and stressful undertaking. ‘But we had to try and I treated it like a military operation. We wanted to make people see they were saving a child’s life.’
Jamie, now five, was taken ill in April 2009, and a hospital ultrasound revealed he had a large tumour in his abdomen. Tests showed the cancer had already spread through his body. In the months that followed, he underwent eight courses of chemotherapy in a Dusseldorf hospital, spent time on a ventilator in intensive care and had an operation to remove the tumour and a kidney.
A ninth high-dose course of chemotherapy was designed to kill any remaining cancer cells and ‘totally wipe out’ his white blood cells, which fight disease. Then, in January this year, stem cells harvested from his body months earlier were transplanted back into his body to ‘rejuvenate’ his immune system.
Mr and Mrs Inglis then had 100 days to get their son from Dusseldorf to Philadelphia to begin the antibody treatment, which increases the odds of survival by 20 per cent.
‘That’s a massive figure in medical terms,’ said Mr Inglis. ‘He may have been one of the lucky children who survive anyway but we will never know.’ With enough money in the bank, the couple flew to the U.S. in March with Jamie and daughter Poppy, now 16 months.
Over a period of five months, drugs designed to ‘rev up’ the immune system and kill any remaining microscopic cancer cells were pumped into Jamie’s system. He also had to undergo radiotherapy with a bill of £78,000 and was in intensive care for five days, costing £6,500 a day. But the cash from strangers continued to come in and covered the extra fees.
‘We wired the last £21,000 across last week,’ said Mrs Inglis. Around 120 children a year in the UK are diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer that forms in nerve tissue, and trials of a similar antibody treatment have started here. But the Inglis’s say the variation in the medical care available is ‘unethical’.
As for Jamie, just four months after returning from the U.S. his blond hair is growing back, his smile is as big as ever and he is hoping to start school in February.
‘We don’t know what the future will bring but every month that he is free of cancer the better the odds become that it will not return,’ said Mrs Inglis.
British student fee ‘savings’ will fund windmills in Africa
The cause of the major political story of last week – the row over tuition fees, students rioting and all – was, as we all know, “public spending cuts”. But how much money does the Government actually hope to save on tuition fees? If the immediate problem is our massive state deficit, it seems odd that the Government should risk such unpopularity, not for any immediate saving, but in the hope that it will get the money back over the next 30 years, as students can afford to repay it.
In the short term, the Government’s own projection as to how much it will save is that the funding of university tuition will be cut by £2.9 billion by 2014. As it happens, £2.9 billion is the sum ring-fenced, by the same public spending review, to be given to developing countries to help them fight global warming with windmills and solar panels. It is also slightly less than the £3 billion by which our public debt is rising every week. These much-vaunted “cuts” are not all we are led to believe.
British Labour Party ratbag praises ‘hero’ immigrants who send welfare handouts home
Harriet Harman has praised ‘heroic’ immigrants who claim welfare payments in Britain and use the cash to support families living abroad. She said the Government should make it easier for them to send the money home and called for tax refunds to encourage more immigrants to follow suit, in particular those who paid for their children to be educated in the Third World.
The Labour Deputy Leader, who is also the party’s spokesman on International Development, derided ‘those who say we should look after our own first’ in the recession and vowed to fight any attempt to cut the £9.4 billion overseas aid budget. But last night the Government challenged her ‘bizarre’ conduct.
Her comments were made at a meeting at Southwark town hall in her South London constituency, called to find ways to increase the flow of money from Britain to other nations in ‘remittances’ – money sent by families who have settled here to those left behind.
The meeting was attended by many local voters with Nigerian, Ugandan and other foreign backgrounds, as well as representatives of aid charities. An eyewitness said: ‘Harriet led a discussion on how to back up what she called the “hidden heroes of development through developing new policies on remittances”.’
Ms Harman said she had conducted a survey of constituents, mainly West Africans, attending her surgeries who were regularly sending money back home to sustain children and other relatives. ‘She said she had been amazed by how many were doing this,’ said a source. ‘Some were themselves in receipt of State benefits here and were still sending what they could abroad.’
Ms Harman said she intended to launch a new international survey to learn how other countries handled remittances to poorer nations to enable Britain to ‘make the procedure easier, even possibly with some sort of tax relief for those who send payments to educate relatives abroad’.
Her radical proposal was supported by some at the meeting. But one member of the audience said Ms Harman would have to be ‘careful’ how she campaigned on the issue. ‘She was told that if it was found the majority of people sending remittances were on benefits, critics would say it proved that they are receiving too much in State handouts if they can still send money abroad,’ according to one person who was present.
Ms Harman said she was also determined to stop the Government doing a U-turn on its promise not to cut the annual overseas aid budget. ‘We have to keep the Government to their promise of spending on 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international aid after 2012,’ she said. And Labour must do so ‘even with the usual howls from media critics who say that we should be looking after our own first and foremost, especially in this time of austerity’.
Last night Ms Harman stood by her remarks. She told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There are many people in my constituency who come from Africa and work and study and bring up their families here. Many of them also send money back to their village in their country of origin. We should respect and encourage that. International development is not just something done by governments.
‘Some of these families will be receiving child benefit and tax credits to which they are entitled. Charitable generosity has never been confined to the well-off.’
Tory International Development Minister Alan Duncan said last night: ‘Ms Harman’s comments seem bizarre. She has a duty to explain precisely what she means.’ A Conservative official went much further: ‘The idea that people should come here from Africa, claim welfare benefits and send it all back home is ridiculous and irresponsible.’
After 13 years of Labour party rule, public mood in Britain shifts right as most voters back Thatcherite values
Public opinion has swung dramatically to the right with most voters now backing welfare cuts and a smaller state. Sympathy for benefit claimants has halved in the past 20 years and barely one in three adults supports shifting income from the rich to the poor.
Veteran Tory Lord Tebbit said that after 13 years of Labour rule the country was falling back into line with the Thatcherite values of hard work and lower taxes.
Analysis of the British Social Attitudes Survey shows:
* There is growing distrust of institutions such as the police, the BBC and banks;
* Contempt for politicians and the government is at an all-time high, with record numbers not trusting anything they say;
* Support for an English parliament is on the rise among voters resentful of high levels of public spending in Scotland;
* No support for redistributing income but widening concern over the pay gaps between bosses and workers;
* Britons are in denial about their age, with many rejecting the suggestion they are middle-aged or older.
The survey, partly funded by the Government, found that only 27 per cent want more to be spent on benefits. In 1991 the figure was 58 per cent.
Penny Young, chief executive of the National Centre for Social Research, which carried out the survey, said: ‘It is 20 years since Margaret Thatcher left office, but public opinion is far closer now to many of her core beliefs than it was then. Our findings show that attitudes have hardened over the last two decades, and are more in favour of cutting benefits and against taxing the better-off disproportionately.’
But while the country is in tune with the Coalition’s plans to shake up the welfare state, ministers could find it more difficult to get support for reforming health and education. Satisfaction with the Health Service was at an all-time high and has doubled since 1997 to 64 per cent. Mr Cameron promised to ring-fence health spending at the election but plans for wider reform could prove contentious.
And Education Secretary Michael Gove may struggle to press ahead with plans to emphasise traditional subjects in schools after the survey found 73 per cent want schools to teach children life skills. Only half of the 3,421 people interviewed said schools equipped children well for the real world.
Miss Young said: ‘Perhaps the biggest problem for the Government is how to lead the British public away from recession and implement reform when trust in politicians, government and banks is at an all-time low. ‘It will need to convince a sceptical electorate that it is working with their best interests at heart. ‘Emphasising the fairness of any cuts while protecting the tangible outcomes of increased spending will be crucial. ‘The public may want the Government to spend less but they don’t want to lose the gains of record investment.’
Lord Tebbit, who served under Margaret Thatcher, told the Mail: ‘Thatcher values were in line with human emotions and they are values which have been assaulted during 13 years of a Labour government.
‘Her values were that you should not choose idleness over working, that work should pay and that people should keep a larger proportion of what they earn, particularly those on lower incomes. They are all common-sense values.’
Every year, the National Centre for Social Research carries out in-depth interviews with more than 3,000 people in their homes. Since 1983, more than 80,000 have been asked for their views on British life.
Suicide bomber lived in Britain: Islamic fanatic in Stockholm car blast was radicalised while studying in Luton
An Islamic fundamentalist was radicalised in Britain before carrying out a suicide bombing on a busy street in Sweden. Iraqi-born Taimour Abdulwahab Al-Abdaly, 28, blew up his car, then himself, in the capital Stockholm. He had spent much of the last decade in Luton – long known as a hotbed of terrorism – where he studied for a degree and continued living there with his wife and children.
The Iraqi-born bomber first set his car on fire and then walked 200 metres before the explosives, believed to be in a backpack strapped to his body, detonated.
Just minutes before, he had sent out an email to the police and a news agency warning of deadly reprisals for having Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan.
He was the registered owner of the car that blew up and was believed to have worked on the street corner on which he died, carrying a sign advertising a local fish-and-chip restaurant..
The Bedfordshire town has a Muslim population of 20,000 and has been linked with a string of high-profile extremists. Last year Muslim protesters disrupted a homecoming march of soldiers returning from Afghanistan. Police were investigating Abdulwahab’s British connections last night. Neighbours in Luton suggested that his wife, who herself has fundamentalist views, and their children are still living there.
The involvement of a student from a British university in yet another terrorist incident will raise fresh questions about admissions to UK universities, and the radicalisation of Muslim students when studying in this country.
It is less than a year ago that a worldwide alert was sparked when former University College London student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, was arrested on suspicion of trying to blow up an aeroplane with explosives hidden in his underpants.
The latest bomber moved to Sweden with his family from Iraq when he was 11. He came to Britain in 2001 to study sports therapy at the University of Luton, now the University of Bedfordshire. He moved back to Sweden more recently and is believed to have separated from his wife, but they have not divorced.
His Facebook page features an Islamic flag being raised over a world in flames. On the page, he says he is a member of the group Islamic Caliphate State, which seeks to establish Islamic rule worldwide and adds: ‘I’m a Muslim and I’m proud’. On another website he is said to have pictured Tower Bridge engulfed by an inferno.
America must not follow the British example
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, picked the wrong moment to drive down Regent Street in London en route to a Royal Variety performance the other night. Several hundred protestors attacked their car and cries of “off with their heads” and “Tory scum” were heard. Scary stuff. The images coming in from across the pond—images of violent protests in London—are disturbing to most Americans. But if some are tempted to find comfort in the idea that what is going on over there could never happen here, they should think again.
At issue in the United Kingdom is the announced policy change, more than a year under discussion and review, to subsidize less of the college tuition of students. In the recent past, the top amount (calculated here in dollars) a student would pay for a year’s tuition is $4,800. The proposed new cap is $14,500. Bear in mind that this is a system that subsidizes tuition at both public and private colleges, though our cousins have their “private” and “public” labels reversed, much like their driving lanes.
That’s right, the idea is that to go to “Oxbridge” (Oxford or Cambridge—think Harvard or Yale) will now cost a maximum of $14,500—a great deal by American standards. Though admittedly it was an even better deal at $4,800. Of course, the rest of the real cost was being paid by the taxpayer.
As a reference point, the current average cost of a year’s tuition at a private college in the United States is $27,293—nearly twice as much as the new British cap.
The current turbulence in Great Britain is a case study about what happens when a society tries to take from people something they have grown to see as part of what they are owed: an entitlement. The fact that the overwhelming majority of the protestors are young people accents this point. This is a generation that has no reason to see it any other way. They are already a generation removed from that era of electoral and cultural sanity in the realm known as the age of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher.
Though she is in the twilight of her days, her very funeral plans being a national discussion, she must be aghast at what she is viewing on the “Telly.” But something she said long ago is very much at play right now in her nation, across the continent of Europe, and wherever the seeds of entitlement-driven protest are sown, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Indeed.
One of the saddest recent reports I’ve seen is one about a student urinating on the Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square. The statue has also been defaced with graffiti calling the great man various names, most too ugly to print. This is what happens when self-absorption reaches cultural critical mass. The lessons of the past are forgotten, and the keys to a good future are forsaken, all in a cult of “me-ism.”
Never mind that these bums (to use a Nixon term that just seems to fit) wouldn’t have a park to piss in if not for people like Mr. Churchill. He rallied a nation, including those college age at the time, to save the world. But back then, the people he worked with had been through the fiery trial of Great Depression-driven deprivation and likely had little of the sense of entitlement of subsequent generations. He once said: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.” Welcome to misery 101.
Writing in the U.K.’s Guardian, Gary Younge (a writer based in the U.S.) has suggested that current and recent student revolts around the world are a good thing. He wants that “their energy, enthusiasm, militancy, rage and raucousness might burn in us all.”
Younge sees the protests as nothing surprising because, “More than one in five people under the age of 25 in the EU is unemployed. In Spain the figure is 43%; in Greece 30%; in Italy 26%. Meanwhile the principle that education is a public good, to which all are entitled, all contribute, and all benefit through a more competitive economy, is in its death throes.” Did you catch that? The issue is that education is a basic good or right “to which all are entitled.”
Let’s think about this. If someone tries to take, say, your freedom of speech or worship away, would you fight for it? Yes. These are rights—rights that imply responsibilities. If someone tries to take your car away, would you resist that? Sure. It’s your property. It’s the natural response to something unfair and unjust. So it is logical that those protesting see what is being taken from them in the same way. Not saying they’re right—just conceding that they have no reason to think or feel otherwise. In a sense, they are entitled to their sense of entitlement. And that’s the root problem.
This is the long-term damage socialism does. It gets under the cultural skin and in its DNA and becomes part of the mix of life itself. Which is why Americans should be vigilant at this hour to make sure the recent turn away from this path to decadence becomes a significant directional cue for our immediate and long-term future. Because we, too, are at least a generation removed from the last time socialism was successfully stigmatized and marginalized in the age of Reagan.
Long before Ronald Reagan became our 40th President, while he served as Governor of California, he had his own encounter with student protestors at the University of California at Berkeley. Were he around today, he’d likely reprise what he said back then for the benefit of college students in the U.K and everywhere else: “Higher education is a privilege and not a right so these hoodlums should be thrown out. They are spoiled brats who do not deserve to be at a great state university.”
British couple banned from hanging fairy lights for ‘health and safety’
British bureaucrats get a kick out of hurting or obstructing people. It makes them feel powerful
A retired couple have been banned from decorating the top floor of their tower block with festive fairy lights because of health and safety fears.
For the last 10 years, Ian and Linda Cameron have lit up the top floor of their tower block with a sparkling display of festive lights, enjoyed by thousands of people who can see them from miles around. But this year the council told them to take them down because they are too dangerous.
The couple live on the 19th floor of Brighton’s second highest clocks of council flats, right in the city centre, and for many, the switching on of their lights is the unofficial start to the Christmas season.
Last summer tenants in the block were ordered to remove their doormats from internal corridors because they were considered a fire risk.
Mrs Cameron, 53, said: “Now they are picking on our fairy lights. A woman from the housing office called me at home and told me to take them down immediately. “I was quite upset because she talked to me like I was some kind of criminal. We only put them on when we are at home and turn them off at bedtime. “I asked why and she simply said: ‘Health and Safety.’ “Have they got nothing better to worry about?”
A Brighton and Hove Council spokesman said: “There is no suggestion that this action is ‘suddenly’ necessary. In fact, we are responding to a complaint from a member of the public and were not previously aware these lights were being suspended so high above the ground. Far from being ‘health and safety gone mad’, this is common sense. “Where electric lights are being hung more than 100 feet high, we have a duty to ensure they are not a danger to passers-by.”
Mr Cameron, 63, said: “People can see our lights right across the city. I’ve looped them along the balcony, which stretches half way round the top floor, every year since we moved in a decade ago and nobody has ever said anything before.
“If they haven’t noticed them before they can’t be that much of a problem. They are proper outdoor lights, secured with cable ties to our solid metal balcony. They’re not going anywhere. The very worst that could happen is they could knock out my indoor trip switch. “I understand the need to protect the public but this is way over the top.”
The council has now offered a compromise of sending an electrician to check the lights but ordered the couple to take down the lights until they have a certificate saying they are safe.
Mr Cameron said: “At first they said we had to pay for our own safety checks. Now they have agreed to do it but I don’t know when. I haven’t been given a date and I can’t imagine it is a priority at this time of year. “But I don’t see why taxpayers should foot the bill to check some fairy lights. Other private blocks of flats have got them up. “Everyone in the block is getting a petition together. They are fed up with health and safety madness.”
Debbie Williams, chairwoman of the block’s tenants’ association, said: “We have told them to leave them up and switch them on. “There are chunks of concrete dropping from the building where it has frozen and cracked and we have two-foot icicles hanging from the balconies above which the council does nothing about. “But we can’t have doormats or twinkly lights because they’re too dangerous. It’s ridiculous.”
British Consumers will pay the cost of going green as energy reform will add £500 a year to bills
Environmental reforms to the energy market, to be unveiled this week, will result in huge gas and electricity price increases over the next ten years. Under the changes, householders will have to pay an extra £500 a year by 2020 effectively to subsidise the cost of new nuclear power plants and wind energy.
The Government has been forced into the reforms by claims from energy companies that unless there are more incentives, green investment will not happen and Britain will miss tough climate change targets.
Over the next seven years most old coal-fired power stations and nuclear plants will be shut. With demand set to grow, the country faces the danger of blackouts. To avoid this, energy companies say the most economical way to keep up energy production would be to build more gas-fired power stations, but this would destroy any hopes of meeting the Government’s carbon emission targets.
So on Thursday, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne will unveil a White Paper outlining plans for a ‘carbon floor price’. This will artificially raise the price of the carbon allowance to penalise fossil fuel generators.
Under the European Emissions Trading Scheme, companies get allowances, or permits, for the amount of CO2 they may emit. These can be bought and sold, which means there is a ‘market price’ for carbon emissions. Critics-argue that the scheme was poorly designed and so the market price has fallen too low.
The Government is also expected to propose capacity payments for low-carbon electricity generation. This would reward companies for making their electricity generation capacity available to the grid, even if it is just as a back-up.
It is also expected to stop the building of new coal-fired power stations unless they are equipped with carbon-capture technology.
These measures will cost money. Britain now pays about £1 billion a year in subsidies for renewable energy, which adds about £80 to a typical household’s annual bill. Energy experts say that propping up nuclear and renewable energy could cost every household more than £500 a year by 2020.
Wholegrains reduce stroke by as much as drugs (?)
This small study is interesting but does not really encourage direct replication. The most marked change in symptoms that they observed was a 6 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure. A drop as small as that would certainly have no effect on mortality at all in most cases. By way of comparision, systolic blood pressure categories normally move upwards in steps of 20 mmHg. If the finding had emerged from a study of high-risk individuals, it would have been more impressive. But it did not. It concerned normals. Generalizing results obtained with normals to high-risk individuals may not work at all
Eating more whole-grain bread, rice and oats could be as effective at drugs at reducing the risk of stroke, research by Aberdeen University has found.
Researchers asked 200 people to eat a diet with three portions of whole grains per day or none. A diet high in fibre is known to reduce blood cholesterol and improve digestive health. It was found that the diet rich in wholegrains reduced blood pressure.
Dr Frank Thies, Senior Lecturer at The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health University of Aberdeen, who led the study, said: “We observed a decrease in systolic blood pressure in the volunteers who ate the whole-grain foods, and this effect is similar to that you might expect to get from using blood pressure-lowering drugs.
“This drop in systolic blood pressure could potentially decrease the incidence of heart attack and stroke disease by at least 15 and 25 per cent respectively.”
A portion is counted as around 13 to 16g of whole grains, the equivalent of around half a cup of oats or brown rice or a slice of whole-grain bread.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Effect of increased consumption of whole-grain foods on blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk markers in healthy middle-aged persons: a randomized controlled trial
By Paula Tighe et al.
Background: Three daily portions of whole-grain foods could lower cardiovascular disease risk, but a comprehensive intervention trial was needed to confirm this recommendation.
Objectives: We aimed to assess the effects of consumption of 3 daily portions of whole-grain foods (provided as only wheat or a mixture of wheat and oats) on markers of cardiovascular disease risk in relatively high-risk individuals.
Design: This was a randomized controlled dietary trial in middle-aged healthy individuals. After a 4-wk run-in period with a refined diet, we randomly allocated volunteers to a control (refined diet), wheat, or wheat + oats group for 12 wk. The primary outcome was a reduction of cardiovascular disease risk factors by dietary intervention with whole grains, which included lipid and inflammatory marker concentrations, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressure.
Results: We recruited a total of 233 volunteers; 24 volunteers withdrew, and 3 volunteers were excluded. Systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure were significantly reduced by 6 and 3 mm Hg, respectively, in the whole-grain foods groups compared with the control group. Systemic markers of cardiovascular disease risk remained unchanged apart from cholesterol concentrations, which decreased slightly but significantly in the refined group.
Conclusions: Daily consumption of 3 portions of whole-grain foods can significantly reduce cardiovascular disease risk in middle-aged people mainly through blood pressure–lowering mechanisms. The observed decrease in systolic blood pressure could decrease the incidence of coronary artery disease and stroke by ≥15% and 25%, respectively.