Women giving birth at night more at risk, says maternity chief

Mothers giving birth at night are being put at risk because of poor staffing at NHS hospitals, Britain’s top maternity doctor has warned. Dr Tony Falconer, the new president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), claimed many inexperienced doctors working night shift on labour wards lacked necessary skills to ensure a safe child delivery.

Dr Falconer, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said medical staff often undertook unnecessary caesarean sections on women, leading to some babies suffering catastrophic harm during their birth.

A disproportionate numbers of NHS payouts over alleged medical negligence in childbirth involve babies born overnight, he said. Trainee doctors working overnight were sometimes too slow to realise that a new mother was still bleeding after a caesarean or to spot post-operative complications.

Other staff who train during the night, such as obstetricians and anaesthetists, are also less experienced than teams working during the day, with many junior obstetric doctors lacking technical skills to use forceps or vacuum to ease a baby’s birth, he added.

While insisting he did not want to “frighten people” about the quality of care at night, he admitted to “huge concern” over poor decision making at some hospitals. He also stressed that most out-of-hours maternity care was perfectly safe. But more senior doctors would mean “fewer mishaps”, he added. “Obstetric care isn’t the same at 3am as it is at 3pm, and it should be. This is a matter of huge concern,” he told The Guardian in his first interview as RCOG president. “Care overnight isn’t as robust as it is at it is at 9am or 2pm. It’s not as good. At 2am, you do not have the same experience.”

“One of the ironies of the health service, and this view is shared by very senior people, is this culture that the NHS basically runs at one level for 40 hours a week, and at a completely different level for the rest of the week. And when you are dealing with acute services that shouldn’t happen. He added: “I don’t want to frighten people and say that the quality of care at 2am is appalling, but it’s not the same level. “At night-time things go awry more often than they do in the daytime.”

His comments were shared by other doctors, patient safety groups and childbirth campaigners.

In his interview Dr Falconer said that schoolchildren should be taught that ages 20 to 35 were the best time for a woman to have a child. The issue should alongside education about teenage pregnancies and contraception, he added.

The Department of Health said there should be no difference in the quality of NHS maternity care. “All mothers should expect consistently excellent maternity services, no matter what the time of day or night,” a spokeswoman said. “Local maternity services should ensure there are appropriate numbers of professional and support staff, and staffing levels should be reviewed and audited annually.”


An empty promise on immigration

Another year begins with another Big Lie exposed. I wonder how many voters foolishly supported David Cameron’s Unconservative Party last May because of his loud claims that he would do something about immigration.

Yet a report from a Left-wing think tank, the IPPR, shows that Mr Cameron must have known perfectly well that his pledge could not be kept. Immigration will not fall this year and may even rise. EU citizens can come and go as they please. Lithuanians and Latvians, and many of our Irish neighbours, will arrive in thousands in search of work, keeping wages low.

We will continue to host hundreds of thousands of overseas students and large numbers of alleged refugees. ‘Family reunions’ will allow many others through supposedly closed doors, from all the parts of the world which have already supplied so many of our new citizens.

Mr Cameron’s vaunted cap on economic migrants from outside the EU will indeed begin to operate, but this will affect no more than two or three per cent of the immigration total.

So why this gap between claim and reality? First, Mr Cameron could be fairly sure that most voters wouldn’t notice the small print in his pledges. Secondly, we are not considered grown-up enough to discuss the greatest political issue of our time – the steady takeover of our once-independent country by the EU and the colossal implications of this. And no major political party will offer us an exit.

But third, the modernised Tory Party, just like its New Labour twin, actively favours large-scale migration. Rich young careerists in pleasant parts of London – who form the core of all our establishment parties – couldn’t function without the cheap servants and cheap restaurants that immigration brings.

Not for them the other side of immigration – the transformation of familiar neighbourhoods into foreign territory. Not for them the schools where many pupils cannot speak English, and the overloaded public services. Not for them the mosque and the madrassa where the church and the pub used to be. Not that they mind that so much. These people have no special loyalty to this country, nor much love for it.

They are not significantly different from the Blairite apparatchik Andrew Neather, who last year unwisely said openly what such people have long thought privately.

Let me remind you that he spoke of ‘a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the UK Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural’.

And that he recalled coming away from high-level discussions ‘with a clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main -purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date’.

Well, doesn’t Mr Cameron also like to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date? I think he does. And of course anyone who complained could be (and always will be) smeared as a ‘bigot’. In fact, the issue long ago ceased having anything to do with skin colour. We have many black and brown Britons who have, over time, become as British as I am – though alas this is less and less the case because the curse of multiculturalism has prevented proper integration, as has the huge size of the recent influx.

And we have many people here with pale northern skins who do not speak our language or share our culture.

Our wealthy urban elite are actively pleased by these changes because they did not like Britain as it was, conservative, Christian, restrained and self-disciplined. They like it as it is, and as it will become. But what about the rest of us?


Britain’s prisons minister says prison doesn’t work. Little wonder when they’re holiday camps like this one

With a regrettable absence of considered reflection, a BBC radio report suggested yesterday that as a result of ­impending cutbacks in the coming year, we are likely to see repeat ­performances of the riot at Ford Open Prison in West Sussex, which happened on New Year’s Eve.

But what took place had little, if anything, to do with a lack of resources. On the contrary, the prisoners at Ford would appear to have been indulged by the prison authorities to an extraordinary extent, while being ­subjected to only negligible and intermittent discipline.

Lavish facilities included ten pool tables as well as a gym and snooker room. Many people might not begrudge prisoners such relative luxuries if some of their number did not proceed to try to burn down the place, causing an estimated £2 million of damage.

Combined with a pampered lifestyle, there was an absence of discipline that is hard to credit. According to one report, before the attempt by staff to breathalyse prisoners that led to the riot, 40 empty bottles of alcohol had been found at the prison, and last Friday a stash of cocaine and heroin was ­discovered in a jail dormitory after a tip-off.

One former Ford inmate called ‘Dave’ told BBC Radio Five Live: ‘Certain inmates in there will be encouraged to jump over the fence, nip down to Tesco, which is just down the road, and go and get x amount of pounds of alcohol.’

Lord Brocket, who spent time in the open prison as part of a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for insurance fraud, described in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday how he discovered a woman in a fellow inmate’s room who had been smuggled in over the fence, and was effortlessly smuggled back out again.

Before the riot began, there were supposedly only two guards on duty looking after more than 500 inmates. Why it was thought sensible to start breathalysing prisoners in such circumstances will be one of many questions that must be considered by an inquiry set up by the Government.

Some will suggest that the shortage of prison officers is the consequence of previous economies. I doubt it. Descriptions of Ford and other similar prisons highlight the provision of costly luxuries. The lack of staff probably illustrates ­administrative incompetence, and in this case staffing levels had very likely been kept ­unrealistically low because prison officers wished to ­celebrate New Year with their friends or family.

Another key question is why many hardened criminals had been sent to Ford to live alongside the supposedly less ­troublesome Category D ­prisoners for whom it was intended. It was the ‘tough nuts’ who started the riots in a prison that was never meant to house the likes of them.

Incidentally, those supposedly ‘soft’ Category D prisoners who joined in the mayhem might be the very types who, so the ­Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke believes, should be given community sentences.

Everything we have learned makes Ford sound much more like a holiday camp, albeit a highly dysfunctional one, than a properly run prison. The authorities have evidently given up any attempt to subject inmates to a well-ordered, punitive regime free of drink and drugs in which they have the remotest chance of rehabilitation.

Is there any point at all in sending people to prison if they are treated in such a lax and indulgent way? Just before Christmas, we learned how a group of animal rights extremists jailed for a campaign of ­terrorism have described prison as a ‘holiday camp’.

Seven fanatics were sentenced to a total of 50 years for ­intimidating workers connected to a laboratory that used ­animals in experiments. Tactics included branding hundreds of innocent staff as paedophiles, threatening to kill their ­children, and sending hoax bombs and items allegedly contaminated with Aids to workers’ homes.

But on a website for supporters of the group, called Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty, these criminals gloat about life in jail. One calls his prison ­‘Butlins’, while another says she is ‘blissfully happy’. A male inmate jailed for four years enthuses about his ‘en suite shower’ and says that ‘prison is fantastically easy and nothing more than an inconvenience’.

Surely it should be a guiding principle that incarceration must entail a measure of hardship over and above the withdrawal of liberty. If prisons were to gain a reputation for being like five-star hotels, the disincentive to committing crimes would be almost completely removed. Judging by these reports, we might be halfway towards that situation.

Equally, prisons should be places where rehabilitation can take place so prisoners have a better chance of not re-offending when they are released. If drink and drugs are freely ­available, as is the case at Ford and many other jails, and if prison officers preside over a laissez faire regime organised by the worst ­elements among prisoners, the chances of ­rehabilitation will be practically nil.

Kenneth Clarke breezily ­suggests that for many criminals prison does not work. He should modify that belief. The wrong sort of prison — over-indulgent and undisciplined to the point of anarchy — is unlikely to work. Mr Clarke rightly points out the appallingly high rate of recidivism. But is it surprising that so many criminals should re-offend when they are merely ‘warehoused’ in prisons of this sort?

In fact, Mr Clarke and his ­deputy and fellow Tory, prisons minister Crispin Blunt, are using bad prisons as a justification for not locking up ­criminals, when they should be striving to reform jails so they can again become effective places of ­rehabilitation and punishment.

That, of course, would require a lot of hard thinking and root- and-branch reform of the prison system, as well as taking on the Prison Officers Association, which is part of the problem. Rather than embarking on such an arduous programme of change, Mr Clarke prefers to take refuge in the lazy assertion that prison doesn’t work.

Mr Blunt is no more clear- thinking. He has also asserted that there are too many people under lock and key. And it was he who last July announced that a ban on ‘inappropriate’ prison events, introduced in 2008 after bizarre reports of a fancy dress party, should be lifted. Fortunately, on that ­occasion he was over-ruled by No 10. Why should prisoners be allowed to hold parties?

Fittingly, this same lightweight Mr Blunt was quaffing champagne while watching fireworks at a lavish party in the House of Commons on New Year’s Eve, as the riot in Ford Open Prison began. If only he had known it, the ­explosions at Ford would be far more significant.

We might, indeed, see a repeat performance of the events there, but it will not be because of any Government cuts or shortage of money. It will be because ministers have forgotten what prisons should be like, and what they are for, and are too timid or muddle-headed to do anything about it.


Christianity not dead yet

St. George’s Chapel, located within the walls of Windsor Castle, is anglophile heaven — a marvel of Gothic in the Perpendicular style, mother church of The Most Noble Order of the Garter, the holy of holies of monarchism. Sitting in the Quire during Sung Evensong, one faces the common grave of Henry VIII and Charles I. Behind and in front are the wooden stalls of the Knights of the Garter, topped by heraldic banners. Above is the enclosed box seat where Victoria would watch services during her endless mourning.

At one point in the service, prayers are said for the kings, queens and members of the royal family who have aided the order. It was the first time I had ever prayed for the soul of Richard III, who may or may not have been responsible for the deaths of his nephews. I suppose everyone can be spared a prayer. Besides, the communion of saints includes more than a few rogues.

This pilgrimage (made a few years ago) came nostalgically to mind while reading a recent article in the Guardian. “This Christmas,” it declared, “for perhaps the first time ever, Britain is a majority non-religious nation.” In 1985, according to the British Social Attitudes survey, 63 percent of Britons called themselves Christians. In 2010, it was 42 percent, with 51 percent claiming no religion at all.

So all that history — Cranmer and Laud, roundheads and cavaliers, Henry with his wives and Charles without his head — has led to a shrug and a yawn. The next monarch will still pledge to “maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law.” But the meaning is increasingly hollowed out. First a ceremonial monarchy, then a ceremonial religion.

Britain is exhibit A for the secularization thesis — the idea that modernization and scientific rationality will cause religion to wither and die. That is manifestly false in places such as Africa, India or the Muslim world. Only in Europe does it feel true.

Even in Europe, however, the thesis is less compelling under scrutiny. The European past was not nearly as pious as we imagine. Christian conversion on the fringes of the Roman Empire — in places such as Gaul and Britannia — was always a shallow and partial affair. Rulers pledged their orthodoxy; the populace hedged their bets with magic and animism. In late medieval times, church attendance was spotty, often with good reason. “Members of the congregation,” according to historian Keith Thomas, “jostled for pews, nudged their neighbors, hawked and spat, knitted, made coarse remarks, told jokes, fell asleep and even let off guns.”

And the European present is not as secular as church attendance numbers would indicate. Spiritual beliefs broadly persist, even in the absence of formal religious associations.

But the swift decline of European religious institutions is not a small thing. Institutions codify and transmit faith, producing the Perpendicular Gothic and the Book of Common Prayer. They can also discredit faith, especially when too closely tied to the established order — seeking its favor, implicated in its power games, justifying its scandals. The aid of various Richards throughout the ages comes with a price.

Contrast this to American religion, involving less heraldry and more vitality. The whole pageant is well described in “American Grace,” by Robert Putnam and David Campbell. They depict a “highly religious people,” divided by contentious social issues but generally tolerant of other religious traditions. Immigration, conversion and intermarriage produce a churn of belief that undermines settled prejudices. American religious congregations cultivate civic engagement, creating citizens who are generous, active and trusting.

All this liveliness comes with some disturbingly American characteristics — a general theological ignorance, a tendency toward the anodyne, turning a creed into a hobby. But the general impression left by “American Grace” is of a fluid marketplace of faith that is favorable to faith itself.

There are many reasons for this American achievement, but foremost is a commitment to religious freedom — which originated in the struggles of English Protestants, but was applied in a way the world had not seen before. There would be no Church of America, because Christian belief was compromised by secular alliances, and because true fidelity to God could not be forced. By creating this system, the Founders proved that secularism is not essential to political liberalism. Pluralism will suffice.

The decline in the standing of many religious institutions is undeniable. But this cannot be extrapolated to the end of belief. Institutions grow gray and gouty. Faith, in freedom, is ever new.


To be blacklisted: The British High School courses that damage pupils’ prospects

David Willetts, the universities minister, said institutions will have to publish the subjects that are viewed as substandard, as well as the ones taken by their successful applicants for every course in the UK

Schools that attempt to leap up league tables by encouraging pupils to sit ‘soft’ A-levels will see the subjects publicly blacklisted.

The Government is planning to curb the growth of subjects such as media studies, accounting and citizenship, which are being shunned by university admissions tutors.

Universities will be forced to reveal their unofficial blacklists of A-level subjects that they consider to be sub-standard and harming pupils’ chances of getting places.

Universities Minister David Willetts said institutions will be compelled to publish the subjects taken by successful applicants, and possibly the grades achieved, for every course in the country.

Mr Willetts believes the move is necessary to enable bright pupils at comprehensives to choose the A-levels that give them the best chance of getting into top universities.

He claimed that too many heads are wasting the time of the best pupils by pushing them into easier subjects to boost their school’s standing in league tables of results.

‘Although in well-informed families and some of the more academic schools this is very well understood and made available, it is not the case for everyone,’ he said.

‘Prospective students who can expect to be paying (higher tuition) fees are entitled to this information.

‘Young people need to know if there are banned subjects. It is far better this information is out there rather than secret.’

Mr Willetts said there was a ‘mishmash problem of very bad advice on GCSEs and A-levels and incentives in the old system for schools to pile up grades to maximise points without any regard to the combination of subjects’.

He said the new rule could be included in higher education legislation likely in 2012 or it would form part of the requirements to be met by universities wanting to charge fees above £6,000 under the Coalition’s funding reforms.

Most university departments are clear about the subjects they require for particular courses, such as historians having history A-level. But at present, only a few institutions are open about the A-levels they do not believe to be suitable.

Trinity College, Cambridge, publishes a list of ‘generally suitable’ science and arts A-levels. It cites 13 A-levels of ‘more limited suitability’ including business studies, film studies, sociology, psychology, law, drama/theatre studies, art and design and archaeology.

These subjects are acceptable to some of the college’s departments but not others. Twenty-four A-levels that are only suitable as fourth subjects include accounting, citizenship, dance, health and social care, music technology, photography and ICT.

Last year, Barnaby Lenon, headmaster of Harrow, accused many state schools of deceiving children by entering them for ‘worthless qualifications’.

He cited media studies, saying many schools wanted to enter students because it was easier for them to get a good grade.


It’s not better computers that the Warmists need

From the British “Autonomous Mind” blog

Following on from the blog post yesterday about the Met Office’s Julia Slingo claiming the recent ‘freak weather’ (aka a cold winter) could have been predicted if only the Met Office had more supercomputing power…

AM emailed respected meterology experts Joe Bastardi and Piers Corbyn to ask them what supercomputing technology they employ that helps them to generate forecasts that are consistently more accurate than those of the Met Office.

Both gentlemen, who enjoy an excellent track record for their forecasting accuracy, have very kindly replied and their answers are published in full below:

Joe Bastardi said:

I look at the models, and I do use them as input to the forecast with many other factors. However they are not Gods, and to make the excuse we need a bigger computer when in reality all they do is arrive at a solution … right or wrong … faster, and have nothing factored in about past weather events, or natural cycles, or some of the other things Piers and I use, seems to me to be blaming the model and then saying you need more of what failed in the first place.

If the Physics is not right, then forget it. Modeling for instance, relying on greenhouse gasses to warm the atmosphere will come out at a warmer solution. The UKMET model now has suddenly flipped to a cool solution across much of the world for the coming months, but well after it was obvious to us that major cooling was going to occur (last March I said 2011 would try to return to near normal, similar to the La Nina of the late 90s and the recent one… That is because I knew before the computer a major La Nina was coming on and said so in February.. and based the high total number of hurricanes for the season on the La Nina and the very warm tropical atlantic at the time ..which has cooled since then, btw).

As someone who has no access to public funds, or grants, well I don’t have the computer they do.

Which is interesting since I think we can agree since I joined this little forecasting battle the past 3 years, I have hit the cold over in Europe. Part of the reason is the model and computer has a warm bias since the PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) flipped to cool. Now I wonder why that would be?

And what will happen when the Atlantic turns cold? Throw in solar cycles, and increased arctic or tropical volcanic activity… no computer is going to handle that.

Computer models are tools to get an answer, but not the answer. There is the difference. These folks have not had the kind of forecasting experience that Piers and I have, so they put all this faith in models. We use models, but only as the icing on the cake so to speak. While both of us may have our favorite major climate driver, The ability to see all the players on the field is enhanced when one does not rely on the computer. A good forecaster has to have a visual idea of what a pattern should look like BEFORE HE BRINGS IN THE COMPUTER MODELS, and then have the models confirm or question his conclusion.. much like team mates challenge each other in competition.

To simply use the model as the number one input to one’s forecast.. well then what is the need for the forecaster? Maybe that is what this is all about, getting rid of any human touch to the weather, and convincing the public it’s so. Either that, or saying: I give up, I cant do it, so I will let the model do it. Well I am not cut from the cloth that backs away at challenges in things I was made to do, one of them forecast the weather, so I do not become a puppet of models, but instead will accept the model as a team-mate.. another source of input. But that is all it is.

A forecast for instance, for winter starts way in advance, looking at many years of past weather to understand similarities to where we are now UNDERSTANDING THE MAJOR PHYSICAL NATURAL DRIVERS that are affecting the pattern and also understanding where we are in the climate cycle and not assuming that the earth is headed in one direction.

Such open mindedness and the crucible of capitalism and competition, where if we are not right enough, Piers and I will get fired, makes a bigger difference than just saying I need more money for a bigger computer so I can rely on it.

Funny but true, a video I did back in March showed 11 year cycle forecasts for the summer indicating a warm US summer, while NOAAs computer had it cool for summer Guess what one was right. The 11 year cycle forecast.

Last Spring, the computer had a very warm winter for Alaska this winter, which I hammered. Well guess what is going on.

The UKMET model had a warm winter this winter. Well.

It’s not the computer, it’s the limits of the computer in trying to adjust to what only men can understand and use. I don’t think you need more money to arrive at the wrong answer faster. Should put it into fighting hunger, or giving men a chance to be free enough to dream and pursue that dream… much better causes in my opinion.

Piers Corbyn said:

My answer to What supercomputers do I use? is:

W A I T F O R I T…………..


And before someone goes looking for the ‘NONE’ computer company I mean: We do not use ANY Supercomputer we use P H Y S I C S.

In WeatherAction my Solar Lunar Action Technique (SLAT) does involve a number of equations and theoretical concepts (Weather action indicators) and calculations which are all performed on a pretty low level PC. The key thing to understand is that all weather circulation patterns have near enough happened before; the key is to find out when and how this time around they will be not quite the same as before.

I explained at some length HOW & WHY my technique(s) work at our WeatherAction Climate Fools Day conference in October 2009 held at Imperial College London. The Warmists were explicitly invited and given a slot to speak but none came.

A video of one of my invites, made direct to John Ackers of Friends of The Earth live on Sky news in October 2009, is linked below. Looking at it now I find it even more hilarious than at the time (when we had ’50 days left to save the Planet’) and suggest readers have a look and a laugh (no mention of ‘cold is warm’ here!!)

See here

The GWers claim that we haven’t explained what we do. That is untrue. The truth is they don’t want to know and don’t want anyone else to know {Recall Phil Jones CRU E-mails described me as The MAIN enemy on the Europe side of the Atlantic and that he and his mates would do everything in their power to prevent the likes of me ever getting anything into print}. I thank blogs such as this which have enabled me and Bastardi and loads of others to break partly through the Greenwash cult.

I say our technique(s) plural because they are evolving and now on Solar Lunar Action Technique – SLAT5b, which supersedes our SWT (Solar Weather Technique). What I do is very different from Bastardi who is clearly also skilled especially for USA. Nevertheless his approach is more Earth-based, not so far ahead and less skilled and much less detailed [Of course we are not always right but I would just like to mention Xmas Day and the nights before and after in the UK were EXTREMELY COLD as we predicted from during November when I placed some successful bets on the matter of snow, contrary to his ‘It will turn mild’ prognoses].

A few links here explain key ideas of what I do –

1. VIDEO of why it (SWT/SLAT) works – Imperial college Oct 2009 –

2. Presentation similar to as presented at Climate Fools day 2010 in Parliament

3. “World cooling has ….” –

On supercomputers and the The Met Office I would say that no amount of spending on their approach will ever produce better forecasts in any forecasting more than 3 days ahead. Standard Meteorology has reached the end of its potential. It can go no further. What we do is infinitely more skilled (since they have zero skill) in any long range forecasting. Let’s be clear no amount of investment in wax technology will ever produce a light bulb. For a small fraction of the extra money they want to waste on supercomputers we could reliably forecast extreme events and general weather development details across the WORLD many months ahead.

There is clearly an overwhelming case here for challenging the Met Office robustly about its assertion that it requires additional huge sums of money to purchase more supercomputing technology. The question is, will those who control our tax pounds undertake that challenge and stop our money being spent wastefully? Bastardi and Corbyn’s replies demonstrate that the fundamental difference between the Met Office and those meterologists who forecast with much greater accuracy is a matter of technique and approach rather than technology and processing power. The politicians need to understand this.



About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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