Patients denied treatment as NHS makes cutbacks
Hundreds of thousands of NHS patients are being denied routine procedures as dozens of trusts cut back on surgery, scans and other treatments in order to save money, a Daily Telegraph investigation has found.
Trusts around the country are refusing to pay for operations ranging from hip replacements, to cataract removal and wisdom tooth extraction.
The health service is also tightening restrictions that prevent patients undergoing procedures for lifestyle reasons.
Smokers and obese patients are being denied operations until they change their habits and trusts are delaying surgery and non-emergency treatments, the Telegraph has found in the most comprehensive snapshot of NHS cuts yet.
The cuts – which include the cancelling of MRI scans and x-rays – are taking place in defiance of the Coalition. Ministers are determined that front line services should be protected and the savings needed can be found from management costs and efficiencies. But there is growing evidence that NHS managers are sacrificing patient care instead.
Doctors and nurses said the ‘grim’ results undermine the ‘myth’ that front line services are being protected and warned they were just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. The situation is predicted to get worse as the NHS struggles to save £20bn over the next four years.
Although ministers have pledged to protect the health service budget and provide a real terms increase, it will not be sufficient to keep pace with growing demand and increasing costs.
In addition from April next year the amount of money hospitals receive for each type of treatment will be cut by 1.5 per cent raising fears that managers will refuse to provide treatments that they make a loss on.
As part of the investigation, The Telegraph had responses from almost one in three primary care trusts. Cuts were uncovered in 20 out of the 145 primary care trusts in England. Fifteen PCTs have said they are not cutting services and 11 were still undecided.
Fertility treatment is the area most commonly being cut or rationed with some like NHS Surrey stopping all referrals, while others like NHS South West Essex is saying only patients who have had cancer can receive funding.
NHS Portsmouth will not allow patient classed as overweight to have routine hip or knee replacements where as before they only said the obese could be refused and NHS West Kent are forcing smokers to go on quitting courses before they can join waiting lists for operations.
NHS Warwickshire is cutting ‘low priority’ treatments which include injections for back pain and any orthopaedic surgery must be first cleared by managers.
The NHS in Greater Manchester and Oldham are refusing surgery for mild varicose veins and strict criteria must be met before removal of warts or tonsils will be considered.
In nearby Warrington GPs have been asked to delay all non-urgent operations and treatments for eight weeks.
NHS Nottinghamshire County is reducing X-rays and MRI scans, a trend which is of particular concern to the Patients Association. Katherine Murphy, chief executive, said: “I am really very concerned about trusts cutting back on diagnostics. What is the diagnosis comes too late? You cannot put a cost on someone’s life. “We have had lots of letters and emails from patients about this rationing and a senior clinician has contacted us to say pain management services in their area has been cancelled. “This is just not the way for a patient centred NHS to operate.”
Dr Mark Porter, Chairman of the British Medical Association’s Consultants Committee, said: “Each of these examples undermines the myth that the NHS has been protected from the financial crisis. These are all services that patients value. “They are by and large not being axed for clinical reasons, but as an inevitable consequence of the massive cost savings that have been imposed on the NHS.
“Despite the continuing claims of real terms increases for the NHS, the reality on the ground is very different. The scale of the financial challenge facing the service is such that this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg. “While further cuts are inevitable, it is crucial that clinicians are allowed to feed into the process, and put forward ideas for improving efficiency that do not undermine quality or harm patients.”
David Stout, director of the NHS Confederation’s PCT Network, said: “Primary care trusts (PCTs) have the difficult job of putting in place the right health services to meet the needs of their local population while operating within a fixed budget. This inevitably involves deciding priorities.
“Those PCTs facing financial pressures have to put in place measures to reduce access to some services where they have found no alternative ways of reducing expenditure. None of these decisions will be taken lightly and it is important that any decision about funding of services are openly communicated and consulted on with patients, staff and local communities.
“Management costs are a relatively small proportion of overall health service spend and the NHS compares favourably with most health care systems across the world. Nevertheless PCTs are all reducing management costs in line with Government policy. In the short-term however this affects PCTs budgets as a result of redundancy costs.”
Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter, said savings made should be invested in front line care but there was ‘no evidence of this’. He said:“These grim findings are further evidence that there is a huge gulf between the Government’s promise to protect the front line and what is actually happening on the ground.
“Some trusts are making short term decisions to plug the holes in their budgets and instead of protecting patient care, are cutting jobs and services at an increasingly alarming rate. We have already identified 27,000 posts are earmarked to be cut across the UK. “Trusts need to take a long term strategic approach to improving care and services rather than shedding jobs by stealth and limiting and closing important services.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The NHS must cut back on bureaucracy, not on front line care. “We have been very clear that NHS organisations should not interpret efficiency savings as budget and service cuts. Every penny saved from efficiency savings – including a 45 per cent reduction in management costs – needs to be invested back in to patient care.
“We would expect the NHS to make decisions locally based on the clinical needs of their patients and with regard to the need to make the most efficient use of funding. “No one should experience undue delay at any stage of their treatment. “We are making more and more information available to patients so that they can vote with their feet and choose the service that delivers for them.”
U.K. Immigration Cap Ruled Unlawful
The U.K.’s High Court Friday ruled that the coalition government’s temporary cap on non-European Union immigrants was unlawful. Judges ruled that ministers had “sidestepped” the law by imposing the cap without sufficient parliamentary scrutiny.
The temporary cap was introduced in June as a stop-gap measure ahead of a broader overview of immigration rules next April. The coalition government had promised to introduce a permanent cap on non-EU immigrants after consulting on the issue. Under the cap, which came into effect in June, a maximum of 24,100 non-EU workers could migrate to the U.K. a month.
The cap has faced criticism from the business community and within the government, with the junior coalition Liberal Democrat party saying it could prevent U.K. companies recruiting the skilled workers they need.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said the government was “disappointed” with the verdict and would study it to say if there were grounds to appeal. “We remain firmly committed to reducing net migration and will be introducing a permanent limit on non-European workers next April,” Mr. Green said.
The minister added that the government will do “all in our power to continue to prevent a rush of applications before our more permanent measures are in place.”
The opposition Labour party said the government’s immigration policy is “in a state of chaos.” “Their so-called cap may have sounded good before the election but it wasn’t properly thought through and didn’t get the scrutiny it deserved. Not only will it do little to control immigration it also risks damaging British businesses,” said Ed Balls, Labour’s home affairs spokesman.
The British Red Cross bans Christmas
The Red Cross has a history of antisemitism. That is why it is crawling to Muslims
Christmas has been banned by the Red Cross from its 430 fund-raising shops. Staff have been ordered to take down decorations and to remove any other signs of the Christian festival because they could offend Moslems.
The charity’s politically-correct move triggered an avalanche of criticism and mockery last night – from Christians and Moslems.
Christine Banks, a volunteer at a Red Cross shop in New Romney, Kent, said: ‘We put up a nativity scene in the window and were told to take it out. It seems we can’t have anything that means Christmas. We’re allowed to have some tinsel but that’s it. ‘When we send cards they have to say season’s greetings or best wishes. They must not be linked directly to Christmas. ‘When we asked we were told it is because we must not upset Moslems.’
Mrs Banks added: ‘ We have been instructed that we can’t say anything about Christmas and we certainly can’t have a Christmas tree. ‘ I think the policy is offensive to Moslems as well as to us. No reasonable person can object to Christians celebrating Christmas. But we are not supposed to show any sign of Christianity at all.’
Labour peer Lord Ahmed, one of the country’s most prominent Moslem politicians, said: ‘It is stupid to think Moslems would be offended. ‘The Moslem community has been talking to Christians for the past 1,400 years. The teachings from Islam are that you should respect other faiths.’
He added: ‘In my business all my staff celebrate Christmas and I celebrate with them. It is absolutely not the case that Christmas could damage the Red Cross reputation for neutrality – I think their people have gone a little bit over the top.’
The furore is a fresh blow to the image of what was once one of Britain’s most respected charities. The British Red Cross lost friends this year over its support for the French illegal immigrant camp at Sangatte and its insistence on concentrating large efforts on helping asylum seekers.
Yesterday officials at the charity’s London HQ confirmed that Christmas is barred from the 430 shops which contributed more than £20million to its income last year. ‘The Red Cross is a neutral organisation and we don’t want to be aligned with any political party or particular philosophy,’ a spokesman said. ‘We don’t want to be seen as a Christian or Islamic or Jewish organisation because that might compromise our ability to work in conflict situations around the world.’
He added: ‘In shops people can put up decorations like tinsel or snow which are seasonal. But the guidance is that things representative of Christmas cannot be shown.’
Volunteers, however, said they believed the Christmas ban was a product of political correctness of the kind that led Birmingham’s leaders to order their city to celebrate ‘Winterval’. Rod Thomas, a Plymouth vicar and spokesman for the Reform evangelical grouping in the Church of England, said: ‘People who hold seriously to their faith are respected by people of other faiths. They should start calling themselves the Red Splodge. All their efforts will only succeed in alienating most people.’
Major Charles Heyman, editor of Jane’s World Armies, said: ‘There is really nothing to hurt the Red Cross in Christmas, is there? Would the Red Crescent stop its staff observing Ramadan? ‘In practice, the role of the Red Cross is to run prisoner- of-war programmes and relief efforts for civilians. Those activities require the agreement of both sides in a conflict in the first place. Celebrating Christmas in a shop in England could hardly upset that.’
Major Heyman added: ‘Moslems are just as sensible about these things as Christians. The Red Cross is just engaging in a bit of political correctness.’
British Red Cross leaders have, however, not extended the ban to their own profitable products. Items currently on sale include Christmas cards featuring angels and wise men and Advent calendars with nativity scenes. The spokesman said: ‘The Red Cross is trying to be inclusive and we recognise there are lots of people who want to buy Christmas cards which they know will benefit us.’
The charity’s umbrella body, the Swiss-based International Red Cross, has also had politically-correct doubts about its famous symbol. But efforts to find an alternative were abandoned in the face of protest and ridicule five years ago.
A defeat for Britain’s Satanic social workers
Couple who fled UK after social workers took their child are declared fit parents by Spanish officials and reunited with baby No2
A baby boy who was snatched from his parents on the authority of social workers has been returned after tests showed the couple are perfectly capable of caring for him. Ten-month-old Daniel was back home with his parents last night after spending most of his young life in an orphanage.
The smiling boy was cuddled by his father and mother, Jim and Carissa, whose names we have changed for legal reasons.
The couple had fled to Spain, where Daniel was born in February, after their other child, Poppy, now two, was seized by Suffolk social services and put up for adoption. They had deemed the couple ‘unfit’ parents who might emotionally harm their daughter in the future. This decision was roundly criticised in the Commons by local MP Tim Yeo as ‘tantamount to child kidnap’.
Daniel was still being breast-fed by Carissa in hospital when Spanish social workers, acting on a tip-off from Suffolk, took him and placed him in an orphanage in Valencia. Now, in a snub to their UK counterparts, Spanish social workers say Jim and Carissa are no danger to Daniel.
Jim, a 42-year-old legal adviser, and Carissa, 32, plan to sue Suffolk social services for breaking up their family. They are also taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights claiming their family life has been destroyed, as they prepare to fight a High Court legal battle to get Poppy back next month.
Last night Jim said at their home in Spain: ‘The Spanish social services say we meet all their criteria for being good parents and we’re delighted. The authorities here did extensive psychological tests on both of us and found we are normal, and capable of caring for our children. We passed the six tests with flying colours. ‘We hope this will lead to our family being reunited with Poppy at last, and the four of us being left to get on with our lives together.’
His parents had moved to Spain when Carissa became pregnant with Daniel and received warnings from Suffolk Council that he might be taken away when he was born. Their daughter had been torn from Carissa’s arms at 12 weeks old in October 2008 when social workers and police arrived at the couple’s home in East Anglia. They were acting on unproven allegations about Carissa from her ex-husband after a difficult divorce.
They refused to believe evidence to the contrary provided by the couple. But the brutality of the snatch led to the intervention by Mr Yeo. He said: ‘Suffolk Council actively seeks opportunities to remove babies from their mothers.’
Meanwhile, Poppy is living with foster parents who hope to adopt her. Suffolk social workers are not allowed to rubber stamp the adoption while Jim and Carissa fight the plan in the High Court.
The crucial test results on Jim and Carissa have been examined by the Daily Mail. We have changed their names and Daniel’s because, under British laws, the identity of the family cannot be publicised while Poppy is up for adoption.
The return of Daniel is a breakthrough for scores of families who have fled overseas to escape the clutches of British social workers.
In a separate move, Jim and Carissa, along with 35 families, have launched unprecedented legal action against UK family courts which have taken 50 of their children for forced adoption. All were deemed at risk of ‘future emotional harm’ from their parents, a condition unproven in science and often used as the premise to remove children from families by social workers.
Jim said: ‘To find our son had gone as she lay in the hospital was cruelty beyond belief. ‘She could not bear to face the heartbreak again of having yet another child snatched from her. So she decided to be sterilised there and then.’
They saw Daniel on nine occasions after he was taken to the Spanish orphanage 10 months ago. ‘He recognised us every visit and since he arrived home he has never stopped smiling at us,’ added Jim.
Insane British government energy policy
Preparing for warming while people freeze
I AM used to governments blaming Britain’s economic ills on sinister foreign influences: US mortgage-lenders, international commodity traders and Chinese savers. But ministers won’t get away for much longer trying to blame international factors for the steadily rising inflation rate – which hit 4.7 per cent on Tuesday – without admitting the contribution of its own energy policy.
The average UK household, according to Ofgem, now pays £1,245 a year in gas and electricity bills. Of this, £84 goes towards subsidising green energy schemes. We are each paying £24 a year towards the EU carbon trading scheme, £12 towards the Renewables Obligation, which forces electricity companies to buy some of their power from more expensive green energy sources, and £45 a year to subsidise domestic insulation schemes.
But that is nothing compared with what is to come. Energy secretary Chris Huhne admitted yesterday that the switch to greener power stations will add a further £160 a year to domestic energy bills by 2030 – the money going to subsidise wind farms and other forms of green energy as they replace decommissioned coal and gas power plants.
Others, however, believe the increase will be much greater. Price comparison website uSwitch predicts that bills will rise by £500 a year. The Government’s green energy programme would be an outrageous attack on lifestyles at any time but coming from an administration that has committed itself to Labour’s targets for reducing “fuel poverty” it represents a bizarre lack of joined-up thinking.
FAR from eliminating fuel poverty – which is defined as a household that spends more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel – the number of households fulfilling this definition has doubled since 2003 to more than 4.5 million.
With Britain in the grip of one of the coldest winters in decades this statistic isn’t just a technicality, it represents real hardship for millions struggling to keep warm and, especially for the elderly, to avoid a grim death from hypothermia. Insulation and green energy – or at least some forms of it – are a good thing.
It is beneficial in many ways if we can cut pollution and reduce our dependence on importing fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world. Hopefully one day, technology will mean that green energy becomes cheaper than that derived from fossil fuels but the speed and extent to which the Government is committing Britain to existing, untried and inefficient technologies is an irresponsible experiment that is impoverishing the population and undermining economic recovery.
It isn’t, of course, just households that use energy. While Chris Huhne keeps throwing about wild boasts of the numbers of jobs that his green energy drive will create, what he doesn’t say is that rising energy costs threaten to put our remaining manufacturing industry out of business.
It wouldn’t be quite so bad if other countries had committed to the same green energy drive – at least then our competitors would be in the same boat. But Britain has made commitments that way outstrip those made by other industrial nations. The Climate Change Bill 2008 legally bound us to reduce our carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050.
Other EU nations are bound only by a loose pledge to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 – if and only if developing countries make a similar pledge. Since the likelihood of the Third World following suit is virtually zero – it would after all condemn the poorest countries to a perpetual state of pre-industrial poverty – the pledge is pretty meaningless.
The science behind global warming has been looking increasingly shaky in recent months, following the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia and the obvious failure of the British weather to obey the patterns confidently predicted by scientists a few years ago. Yet even if global warming is happening it doesn’t follow that the best way to tackle it is by hampering the economy.
Rich countries can cope with natural disasters, be they anything to do with climate change or not; poor countries cannot. The biggest threat posed to Britain from climate change, as we are frequently reminded, is flooding from rising sea levels.
In fact, flooding is a constant threat even with the climate we already have. A large slice of the money being lavished on fighting climate change ought to be spent on river and coastal defence. Yet the Government has slashed the already low flood-defence budget.
This isn’t so much unjoined-up government as bumper car government – where different policies seem intent on knocking each other into oblivion. As things stand we will all shiver in our homes, our industry will be decimated – and we will suffer increased flood risk too. Energy and climate change policy is a national scandal to whose idiocies and contradictions Government ministers appear to be blind.