Top doctors’ pay up £50,000 – for less work: How our overpaid consultants are dragging down the NHS
One is reminded of Nye Bevan’s answer in the ’40s when he was asked how he got doctors to go along with nationalized medicine. “I stuffed their mouths with gold”, he said
Senior doctors earn £50,000 more than they did a decade ago, but their workload has fallen, a damning report revealed yesterday. Hospital consultants now take home £120,000 a year, despite the fact that on average they carry out fewer treatments than ten years ago when they earned less.
The report by the National Audit Office estimates the NHS could save up to £1.6billion a year if hospitals became more efficient and spent less on over-inflated salaries.
The average consultant has seen their earnings leap by 70 per cent since the introduction of a new contract by Labour in 2003, designed to reward them for improving the quality of NHS care. But the Government spending watchdog found their productivity has fallen by 3 per cent.
At the same time, the workload of other staff such as nurses and midwives has steadily increased, even though their pay rises have been far smaller.
The report also warned hospitals were not doing enough to curb consultants’ ‘lifetime’ bonuses, which can see them earning up to £76,000 a year on top of their salary. These payouts, known as clinical excellence awards, are paid out every year even if they no longer carry out the work for which the money was initially paid.
The NAO found total productivity of hospitals, measured by comparing numbers of patients treated with costs of staff, drugs and equipment, has fallen by 11 per cent in the past decade. It warned NHS spending has almost doubled in a decade to a predicted £102billion for the next financial year.
Inhuman rights in Britain
David Cameron was accused last night of breaking a personal pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act after a failed asylum seeker who killed a 12-year-old girl used the discredited law to stay in Britain.
Aso Mohammed Ibrahim knocked down Amy Houston and left her to ‘die like a dog’ under the wheels of his car. He was driving while disqualified and after the little girl’s death he committed a string of further offences. Earlier this year Mr Cameron wrote to Amy’s father promising reforms that would ensure ‘that rights are better balanced against responsibilities’. He said the Human Rights Act would be replaced by a British Bill of Rights.
But yesterday Ibrahim, an Iraqi Kurd, won his lengthy fight to stay in Britain. Immigration judges ruled that sending him home would breach his right to a ‘private and family life’ as he has now fathered two children in the UK.
Last night Amy’s father Paul branded the Act an ‘abomination to civilised society’. He said: ‘This decision shows the Human Rights Act to be nothing more than a charter for thieves, killers, terrorists and illegal immigrants.’
The ruling heaped pressure on Mr Cameron to reinstate a Tory pre-election pledge to abolish the HRA and replace it with a British Bill of Rights. He stated that pledge unequivocally in a letter to Mr Houston, written in January when he was still Leader of the Opposition, and shortly after the death of his son Ivan. It began: ‘As someone who sadly has been recently bereaved, I do have a little idea of what you must have been through.’
Last night Mr Houston, a 41-year-old engineer, made a direct plea to Mr Cameron to think again. He said: ‘He needs to take a long, hard look at himself and make the right decision for this country because as it stands the Human Rights Act is on the side of criminals, terrorists and thieves against law-abiding citizens. ‘He wrote to me to say he would bring in the British Bill of Rights but that appears to have been put in the back burner because of the Coalition.
‘I don’t want to see this matter sidelined. I think it needs to be placed very firmly on the agenda again. If he has got the courage of his convictions that is what he will do. ‘The law does need to be changed so that it properly represents everyone – not just this awful minority who ruin people’s lives.’
Mr Houston, of Darwen, Lancashire, said he was ‘absolutely devastated’ by the decision to allow Ibrahim to stay in the country indefinitely. ‘How can he say he’s deprived of his right to a family life? The only person deprived of a family life is me. Amy was my family.’ Amy was Mr Houston’s only child and for medical reasons he is unable to have any more children.
The case fuelled deep concern on the Tory backbenches. One MP branded the Act the ‘Criminals’ Rights Act’ and repeated calls for it to be scrapped. No minister was prepared to comment directly about the case, but Downing Street issued a statement ‘sharing Mr Houston’s anger’. The UK Border Agency said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the decision.
Ibrahim, now 33, arrived in Britain hidden in the back of a lorry in January 2001. His application for asylum was refused and a subsequent appeal in November 2002 failed, but he was never sent home. In 2003, while serving a nine-month driving ban for not having insurance or a licence, he ploughed into Amy near her mother’s home in Blackburn. He ran away, leaving her conscious and trapped beneath the wheels of his black Rover. Six hours later her father had to take the heartbreaking decision to turn off her life-support system.
But despite leaving Amy to die, Ibrahim was jailed for just four months after admitting driving while disqualified and failing to stop after an accident.
Since his release from prison he has accrued a string of further convictions, including more driving offences, harassment and cautions for burglary and theft. He also met a British woman, Christina Richardson, and fathered two children with her, Harry, four, and Zara, three.
Border Agency officials finally began attempts to remove him from the country in October 2008. Ibrahim’s lawyers argued sending him back to Iraq would breach Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees his right to a private and family life with his children.
When the case first came before an immigration judge in June last year, Home Office lawyers said Ibrahim should be removed because of his persistent criminality.
Ibrahim told the court he had became a father figure to Miss Richardson’s two children from a previous relationship and was even helping them with their homework. This account was dismissed as ‘clearly not credible’ after Ibrahim admitted he could barely speak English.
The judge accepted that Ibrahim’s behaviour was ‘abhorrent’ and branded his evidence ‘contradictory and unsatisfactory’. However he ruled that he had developed a ‘significant and substantial’ relationship with the children and was acting as their father.
The UK Border Agency launched an appeal against the decision. Lawyers for the agency argued that there was little evidence that he was living at the same address as his own children. But yesterday the Upper Immigration Tribunal threw out the appeal, saying the judge had considered the case in a ‘legally correct’ way.
In a letter to the tribunal, Mr Houston made an impassioned plea for Ibrahim to be sent back to Iraq, saying his right to a family life with Amy should outweigh the rights of Ibrahim. He wrote: ‘On the evening of November 23 2003, Mr Ibrahim struck Amy. He didn’t kill her outright, she was still conscious. ‘She was fully aware of what was happening around her even though she had the full weight of the engine block of the car on top of her, she was crying because she was frightened and in a lot of pain… he could have at least tried to help.
‘Amy suffered for six hours before the doctors advised me to switch off the life support machine . . . it was highly unlikely she would survive and if she was to live would be a “cabbage”. ‘The image of Amy taking her final breath, dying a foot away from me as I sat by her bedside holding her hand praying for a miracle, will stay with me till the day I die.’
Last night Mr Houston said: ‘No wonder asylum seekers are queuing up at the borders to get in when they see decisions like this. ‘They realise that whatever they do, be it burglar, rape or murder, they can use the laws to ensure they are able to stay in Britain. ‘The immigration judges have ruled he had a right to a family life. What about my right to a family life with my daughter? ‘That was taken away in the most horrendously cruel fashion by a serial criminal who has never contributed to our society.’
He pledged to continue his seven-year fight for justice and is seeking legal advice over the possibility of a judicial review. Ministers are considering whether to take the case to the Court of Appeal.
David Cameron wrote a letter to Mr Houston offering his condolences and telling him of his plans to change the law
Backbench Tory MPs said the case showed how the Human Rights Act was preventing ministers from controlling Britain’s borders. MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘If we take the tribunal’s findings to their logical conclusion we would leave an open door to the world.’
The Tories campaigned on a promise to bring in a British Bill of Rights to replace Labour’s Human Rights Act, but within weeks of the General Election result, the pledge was downgraded and replaced by a commitment to a review, effectively kicking the policy into the long grass.
Sex offenders including paedophiles should be allowed to adopt?
It is true that existing bans are too sweeping but this goes too far in the other direction — JR
Rules which bar sex offenders from working with children are ‘unfair’ and even convicted paedophiles should have the right to adopt, a leading legal academic has said.
Helen Reece, a reader in law at the London School of Economics, called on Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to relax rules which automatically ban sex offenders from caring for children, saying that this could breach their human rights.
In an article in the respected Child and Family Law Quarterly, Miss Reece suggested that reoffending rates were not high among sex criminals, adding: “despite growing public concern over paedophilia, the numbers of child sex murders are very low.”
A review is currently ongoing into the Vetting and Barring Scheme, introduced following the 2002 Soham murders, amid concerns by ministers that it is too heavy handed.
As well as banning certain offenders, the law currently requires adults coming into regular contact with children other than their own to be screened.
Mrs May ordered the review amid concerns about the vetting of ordinary volunteers such as parents who drive children to football practice and church flower arrangers.
In her article, Miss Reece suggested that the review should also introduce an assumption that sex offenders including child abusers posed no threat once they had served their sentence. She said: “There is no reason why all sex offenders should not be considered as potentially suitable to adopt or foster children, or work with them.
“The Vetting and Barring Scheme and other legislative measures single out sex offenders for unfair special treatment and they destroy the principle that a prisoner pays his or her debt by serving their sentence before re-entering society on equal terms.”
Individuals are placed on the “Barred List” and banned from working with youngsters or vulnerable adults if they are convicted of a sexual or violent offence, or one involving the mistreatment of a child.
Miss Reece criticised the rules for leading all sex offenders to be “tarred with the same brush,” saying that while “careful screening” was “important,” the issuing of a “blanket ban” violated the rights of criminals who wanted to adopt or work with young people.
She highlighted the case of a grandfather with a conviction for having sex with a 15-year-old dating back to when he was 29, who was refused permission to adopt his own grandchildren.
The ban could contravene the principle of non-discrimination enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, and may leave the Government open to legal challenge, Miss Reece warned.
Comparing sex offenders to cohabiting couples, she suggested that if blanket bans on the former were allowed, it would make sense to bar those who were not married from adopting because parents who were wed were less likely to separate with harmful consequences for the child.
She also highlighted the case of four nurses who recently won a High Court challenge after being barred for having convictions. One of the nurses was banned over a police caution for leaving her own children alone in their home. “Rather than presuming that everyone is a potential risk to children and must therefore be vetted, any vetting or barring should be based on very strong evidence that they are a risk,” the academic said. “This would represent a victory not only for human rights but for protecting the best interests of children.”
Miss Reece has been at the LSE since September 2009, having previously worked at the University of London, University College London and Birkbeck College. A trained barrister, she has an MSc in logic and scientific method, and was awarded the Socio-Legal Studies Association Book Prize in 2004 for a monograph called “Divorcing Responsibly. She has also argued that rape victims should no longer be granted anonymity.
A Home Office spokesman said: “It is safe to say that the vetting review will not be considering allowing paedophiles to adopt. It wouldn’t exactly go down well with the public.
“The review is very much focused on seeing whether the rules have gone too far in stopping normal volunteering with children, while continuing to carry out criminal records checks on people in sensitive posts, such as in the NHS.”
Rioting UK students are misguided
Thousands of student radicals and hangers-on smashed up London last week, desecrating the Cenotaph (Britain’s national memorial to the war dead) and besieging the heir to the throne in his car. Like toddlers throwing a tantrum, they were complaining about a decision to make them pay for their own degrees.
Cameron’s Coalition is freeing universities to set their own fees for home students up to an annual maximum of £9,000 ($14,350 – considerably higher than the $8,859 maximum charged in Australia).
As in Australia, British students will pay nothing up front, but will repay their debt after they graduate. Repayments will be phased according to income, starting when earnings reach £21,000 pa ($33,500, roughly comparable to the $36,185 income threshold here). Students from poor backgrounds will get the first two years of their studies free.
Parliament last week confirmed these changes. Labour voted against, despite having instigated the inquiry that came up with the proposals, and the junior partners in the Coalition, the Liberal Democrats, split down the middle (their candidates had all pledged before the election to oppose any fee increases). Student leaders vowed to continue their campaign, but Cameron says the increases (from a current maximum of £3,000 [$4,780]) are necessary if universities are to be funded adequately.
With some justification, students point out that their parents’ generation got their university education for nothing. But they forget that higher education has mushroomed in the last 30 years. The United Kingdom now has 115 universities, and 44% of under-30s attend one. You can have a ‘free’ system, or a mass system, but no country can afford both.
Despite their red flags and Socialist Worker banners, the student radicals want their studies funded by other people whose lifetime earnings will be lower than their own. They favour the continuation of a system that redistributes income from people who haven’t gone to university, to people like themselves, who have.
Students say higher fees will deter people from going to university. Nobody knows if this is true (the introduction of fees by the Blair government had no impact on university applications). But even if it turns out to be true, it would be no bad thing if people started to think more carefully about whether university is right for them, and what courses they should do when they get there.
Currently, many graduates end up in jobs that do not require a degree, and there is no evidence that employers are crying out for more art historians, sociologists, or media studies experts (despite politicians claiming the country needs more graduates so it can compete in the global economy). As Andrew Norton of the CIS has been explaining for some years, the absence of a market in higher education has meant that many youngsters have made ill-informed decisions from which they have not benefited.
Hopefully, the introduction of full-cost fees will also shake up the universities. With the exception of Britain’s only private university (Buckingham), the other 114 teach for only about half the year. The other half is reserved for lengthy vacations so staff can carry out ‘research.’ This contributes to high tuition costs. The students who trashed London should reflect on the fact that fees are going up so their lecturers can continue to enjoy pampered careers.
Of course we need our best universities to do research. But this does not require every lecturer in every university to be given half the year off to produce skip-loads of third-rate publications. Most of what passes for ‘research’ in our ‘universities’ nowadays is of little value, and most lecturers would be better employed teaching for longer.
As the weaker institutions look for ways to reduce their costs and lower their tuition fees to attract customers away from their more prestigious competitors, they will have to use their labour more efficiently. This means their staff should have to teach more and write less. If that happens, it’s a win-win outcome.
The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated December 17. Enquiries to email@example.com. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.
Another reversal in official British health advice
Going out in the midday sun without sunscreen is good for you, health experts have said. The latest advice recommends ten to 15 minutes’ exposure to help boost vitamin D levels. It runs contrary to previous warnings over the dangers of spending time in the sun when it is at its strongest.
The change of opinion comes amid concern that people may not be getting optimal levels of vitamin D – around 90 per cent of the body’s supply comes from the action of sunlight on the skin..
Experts have long warned the risk of skin cancer from UV rays outweighs any potential good. However, the latest advice from a range of health charities says exposure to the sun at midday during summer months can help build a store of the essential vitamin. And it reverses warnings about using suntan cream with a high sun protection factor before going outside and avoiding exposure between 10am and 2pm.
The new message from Cancer Research UK is ‘Never be red at the end of the day’
Experts have reacted in response to the growing number of children developing rickets, which is caused by lack of vitamin D. Deficiency has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and several cancers, as well as bone softening in adults.
According to a consensus statement from seven charities and professional bodies, in the summer people should expose their face, arms and legs for ten to 15 minutes, three times a week.
It is best done around noon, when the sun’s UVB rays are most effective at synthesising vitamin D.
In the winter, eating foods such as oily fish, eggs, fortified cereals and bread can provide enough of the vitamin alongside the body’s own stores, says the Department of Health.
The body needs vitamin D for the absorption of calcium and maintaining strong bones and teeth. It is also important for the function of the immune system.
The organisations signing up to the consensus statement are the British Association of Dermatologists, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Heart Forum, the National Osteoporosis Society and the Primary Care Dermatology Society.
Professor Rona Mackie pointed out that the intensity of the sun’s rays in Australia, where the sun avoidance message originated, was not found in the UK. Oliver Gillie, who runs Health Research Forum, said: ‘The public has been seriously misled by advice to avoid the sun.’
False prophet: What the original moonbat and Britain’s chief climate screamer said in 2005
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 14th February 2005
It is now mid-February, and already I have sown eleven species of vegetable. I know, though the seed packets tell me otherwise, that they will flourish. Everything in this country – daffodils, primroses, almond trees, bumblebees, nesting birds – is a month ahead of schedule. And it feels wonderful. Winter is no longer the great grey longing of my childhood. The freezes this country suffered in 1982 and 1963 are – unless the Gulf Stream stops – unlikely to recur. Our summers will be long and warm. Across most of the upper northern hemisphere, climate change, so far, has been kind to us.
And this is surely one of the reasons why we find it so hard to accept what the climatologists are now telling us. In our mythologies, an early spring is a reward for virtue. “For, lo, the winter is past,” Solomon, the beloved of God, exults. “The rain is over and gone;/The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come”.(1) How can something which feels so good result from something so bad?
Racist to mention suicide bombers
“A Swansea bar serving a cocktail drink called a ‘Suicide Bomber’ has apologised after being accused of “insensitivity.”
The advert in the window of The Lounge in Wind Street advertises the drink with a mock image of a person wearing an explosive-packed vest.
The director of the Swansea Bay Race Equality Council said it went beyond a poor joke and wants it taken down.
The bar said they did not mean to cause any offence or to upset anyone. The cocktail is part of a promotion for bomb-themed drinks, alongside ‘Skittle Bomb’, ‘Cherry Bomb’ and ‘Melon Bomb’.
Taha Idris, director of Swansea Bay Race Equality Council, said: “I just can’t believe that anyone could be so insensitive with all that is going on in the world.