NHS is short of 4,500 midwives, says health service boss

The NHS is short of 4,500 midwives after Government planning was not ‘quite as it should have been’, the head of the health service said today. NHS chief executive David Nicholson told the Commons Public Accounts Committee that in some areas of England and Wales they were ‘really pressed’.

‘Over the last three or four years it has become clear as we have revised figures on the birth rate that our planning for midwifery services has not been as it should have been,’ he said. ‘We launched a campaign to train the 4,500 midwives (needed).’

Tory MP Richard Bacon said the picture in some parts of the country was of a service in crisis.

‘I don’t accept it’s in crisis,’ Mr Nicholson said, but added: ‘In some places they are really pressed.’ Mr Nicholson said the NHS tariff for midwifery services had increased significantly above inflation to give hospitals the resources they needed to recruit.

In 1997, there were just over 608,000 births in England but this had risen to 671,000 by 2009. The number of midwives working the equivalent of full time has gone from around 18,000 in 1997 to just over 20,000 in 2009.

Asked about the risks to the NHS of the Government’s new reforms, in terms of delivering £15 to £20 billion in ‘efficiency savings’, Mr Nicholson said: ‘There is no way I can sit here and say the risks have not gone up – they have. ‘The risks of delivering the totality of the efficiency savings we need over the next four years have gone up because of the big changes going on in the NHS as a whole. ‘That’s not to say you can’t deliver it. I would argue that actually they can enhance our ability in some areas to do that.’

He said efficiency could be improved by getting GP consortia to improve the care of long-term conditions and therefore bring down the numbers turning up at A&E wards.

Another way to make savings is to cut bureaucracy by sacking thousands of managers and to turn all hospitals into foundation trusts, which have to look after their money better.

Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: ‘Our analysis is that the NHS chief executive is exactly right about the deep and profound shortage of midwives. ‘That is why we were so pleased when David Cameron promised a year ago to recruit an extra 3,000 midwives, a promise that has disappeared without trace. ‘It is notable that David Nicholson is suggesting that even this number would not be adequate. A view supported by the RCM.

‘The Prime Minister reminded us only yesterday that the NHS’ budget will be protected by the coalition, so the time has now come for him to breathe new life into his original promise of recruiting thousands more midwives.

‘The health of hundreds of thousands of mothers and babies each year depend on the NHS employing enough midwives. ‘The RCM would be more than happy to work constructively with the Government to work out an action plan to recruit and retain more midwives over the coming years.’

According to figures analysed by the RCM, the share of the NHS’s budget spent on maternity has dropped from three per cent in 1997 to two per cent. Meanwhile the number of births has risen in every region of England in every year since 2002.

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Mother ‘left for four hours on Boxing Day to have miscarriage on a trolley in hospital corridor’

A housewife was left bleeding heavily on a trolley in a hospital corridor for four hours as she miscarried. Joanne Chiswell has told how she suffered the indignity and trauma of losing her baby in full view of passers-by because the hospital was understaffed and did not have a bed.

The paramedics who had accompanied the 29-year-old even begged nurses to help. But they were reduced to holding up a blanket to give Miss Chiswell, who was covered in the blood, at least some privacy.

The Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, has now apologised for not giving the mother of four the ‘best care possible’.

Miss Chiswell, who was 11 weeks into her pregnancy, first went to the hospital on Christmas Eve when she began to bleed and suspected something was wrong. The nurses she saw on that occasion apparently told her that she was having a miscarriage but should go home and wait for it to take its course.

She was then admitted at 10am two days later after she began to bleed more heavily and suffer terrible pain. But she was kept waiting in the busy A&E department corridor until 2pm when she was moved to the gynaecology ward.

Last night Miss Chiswell, of Erdington, said: ‘I didn’t realise what was going on through most of it. I collapsed at one stage. ‘But after coming home and being told everything that happened to me, I feel very disgusted and ashamed. ‘I bled through pregnancy before, but I knew this was different as I could feel contractions and I knew I was losing my baby.

‘It was extremely painful and I was lapsing in and out of ­consciousness because they didn’t give me any pain relief. At one point, the blood was gushing out of me. ‘I’ve never seen so much blood in my life and it looked like someone had been stabbed. ‘But they weren’t monitoring how much blood I was losing.’

When she was eventually seen, a doctor said her iron levels were too low to operate and sent her home with tablets. Only now has she reached a normal level again and she is due to have an operation on Monday.

Following her ordeal, Miss Chiswell – who lives with partner Darren Mahon and their children Liam, ten; Casey, seven; Jake, four; and Cody, one – is not sure she wants to get pregnant again.

‘I would not want to go through what I’ve been through again,’ she added. ‘I had to cremate my baby daughter on January 6. ‘No mother should have to go through that, but my experience at the hospital has made it far worse.’

Miss Chiswell is seeking compensation from the hospital – which she said apologised formally to her yesterday – and has vowed to donate half of any money she receives to a charity that supports victims of miscarriage.

Mr Mahon, 36, a volunteer at the charity Mind, added: ‘Joanne was going through one of the most traumatic moments of her life but had no privacy or dignity or care. ‘She was losing so much blood that I thought I was going to lose Joanne as well as the baby.’

A Patients Association spokesman said there were other cases of people facing long waits in chaotic A&E departments over Christmas. ‘Patients suffer as a result,’ he added. ‘These trusts are not willing to invest the necessary resources to prepare.’

A hospital spokesman said the matter is being investigated, but insisted it had not been understaffed that day. ‘We aim to maintain the highest standards of care for all of our patients and we are very sorry that Miss Chiswell did not receive the best care possible,’ she said.

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Britain is migrant magnet of Europe: Only Spain admits more non-EU immigrants

Britain accepts more non-European immigrants than any other EU country except Spain, it emerged yesterday. The latest annual figures showed immigration from Asia, Africa and the Americas running at 307,000, against 284,000 received by Italy and the 238,000 who went to Germany.

These comparisons are striking because Italy is the main destination for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East who see it as the easiest route into Europe, and for decades Germany accepted more migrants than any other European country.

The only country that takes more non-EU immigrants than Britain now is Spain, the European country of choice for most Latin Americans. The figures, which cover 2008, show that Spain took 499,000 non-EU migrants.

The news comes as ministers prepare caps on migration from outside Europe, the only possible form of control because EU laws demand free movement between the 27 member states.

They have promised to reduce annual ‘net migration’ – calculated by subtracting the number of emigrants from the immigrant total – to below 100,000, a level last seen in the late Nineties. Tory MPs warned that the new figures show the need for the Coalition to act effectively.

Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, said: ‘We made a clear promise to cut net migration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands. ‘These figures show that the Government needs to pull its finger out and get on with it. ‘People are fed up with talk. They want to see significant reductions. People will hold ministers to account for this at the next election.’

Last week, a Whitehall survey showed four out of five people want to see immigration reduced and more than half the population want to see immigration cut ‘a lot’.

The figures from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics department, show only four member states accepted more than 100,000 immigrants from outside the EU in 2008. France used to admit high numbers of immigrants, but it took only 89,000 two years ago, fewer than a third of the number coming to Britain.

The country outside the EU from where the most people came to Britain in 2008 was India, at 47,000. In that year, 165,000 people arrived in the UK from Commonwealth countries and 142,000 from other non-EU nations.

The most recent statistics show 303,000 people came to Britain from outside the EU in 2009 – the latest year for which figures are available. Net migration then was 193,000, a figure which is likely to have risen to well over 200,000 because fewer people emigrate in a recession.

In April, the Government will introduce rules intended to cap visas for less skilled workers from outside Europe to 21,700 next year, a reduction of a fifth. A consultation on how to cut the number of student visas is under way.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘This shows why the Government is committed to reducing net migration to sustainable levels from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands within the lifetime of this Parliament.

‘We have already introduced a limit on non-EU economic migration and throughout 2011 we will be introducing further controls across the board to affect every immigration route. ‘We will exert steady downward pressure on immigration numbers, which is the sensible way to deal with the uncontrolled immigration system we inherited.’

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Sympathy for the Devil?

Peter Saunders

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards recently published his autobiography. It has topped best-seller lists across the world and has attracted acclaim from the most unlikely sources. Writing in Britain’s conservative Daily Telegraph, the Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was so impressed he called for Richards to be knighted!

Keef is an unlikely Tory hero. His book makes clear his disdain for authority and contempt for the governing classes, and it documents repeated clashes with the police, years of illegal hard drug use, and legendary promiscuity. But few of us nowadays are shocked by tales of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

But what about thieving? Before he became famous, Richards tells us he was ‘always nicking things from the other flats’ where he lived. Later, he knocked around with gangsters and drug dealers, on one occasion unwittingly driving the get-away car in a jewellery heist. He boasts that ‘all my close friends have been jailbirds.’ How does Boris square all this with conservative respect for law and order?

Richards is also a violent man. He boasts of booting one fan in the head and kicking a photographer for taking his photograph. He threatened a taxi driver with a knife, and attacked a man in a nightclub with a broken wineglass stem. A music journalist was told he’d have his hands smashed if he mentioned our hero’s acne, and Richards threw a knife at someone in a recording studio for suggesting changes to the arrangement he was playing. He brags that the chauffeur who informed on his drug-taking in 1967 ‘never walked the same again.’

Richards carries a knife and packed illegal guns and ammunition for many years. He was twice involved in shoot-outs at drugs deals and discharged guns at parties. He tells us the best strategy in a blade fight is to slash your opponent’s forehead so the blood gushes into his eyes. Is this really someone the Conservative Mayor of London should seek to honour?

In the 1970s, Richards took his seven year-old son on tour with him, charged with waking him from his drug stupors and helping him to stash his drugs at border crossings. His daughter was raised by his mother because neither he nor his increasingly violent and delusional junkie girlfriend could care properly for her. His second son died in infancy, but Richards didn’t even go home for the funeral. In the most chilling sentence in the book, he writes: ‘I don’t even know where the little bugger is buried, if he’s buried at all.’

Where do the Tories stand on family values nowadays, Boris?

Richards expresses contempt for the establishment, but he has made good use of it down the years, pulling strings and mobilising friends in high places to win favours and get him out of scrapes. Presidents, movie stars, aristocrats and tycoons have all prostrated themselves before our Keef, so the Mayor of London is in good company.

But why is a conservative like Johnson so desperate to condone such a gross and vile lifestyle? The answer is that Keef is cool, and Boris wants to distance himself from the stuffy old establishment values that conservatives used to uphold. Never mind the lawlessness, violence and destruction; better to appear cool than to be seen as dull and boring.

Of course, Richards would never accept a knighthood, and he is scathing about ‘Sir’ Mick Jagger for accepting his. He cherishes his image as a folk-rebel, so he’d never risk tarnishing his reputation by accepting a bauble from the Queen. But for leading conservatives to suggest he is worthy of honouring shows just how far Britain has slid into moral relativism and nihilism. Arise Sir Keef, so we may all pay obeisance to the base values that your life celebrates and which our leaders have lost the confidence to condemn.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated Jan. 21. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

British judge condemns ‘enormous emotional pressure’ put on Muslim women after rape case collapses

A judge today condemned the ‘enormous emotional pressure’ exerted on women in Muslim communities after a rape case collapsed at the eleventh hour when the wife of an Asian man refused to give evidence against him.

The 35-year-old woman had accused her 34-year-old husband – a convicted sex offender – of raping her twice and was due to testify against him at a trial earlier this week.

But prosecutors were forced to offer no evidence and the case collapsed when the women suddenly decided to retract the allegations.

Judge Simon Newell said he was concerned ‘sections of the community’ were ‘exerting influences’ and ‘inhibiting the police’ from carrying out their duties. He implied justice was being interfered with by those close to the woman who wanted her to drop the charges.

The husband, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has two previous convictions – one for assault causing actual bodily harm against his wife and another for a sexual offence against another woman. He has already been ordered to sign the sex offenders register until September 2014.

Despite expressing concern that the woman had been pressurised into withdrawing the rape claims, Judge Newell allowed the husband to walk free from court. However, he warned him that the matter would ‘lie on his file’ and could be brought before the courts again should new evidence come to light.

‘It seems to me there are persons who have an interest in this case, who are minded to express opinions and exert influences which are possibly inhibiting the police, the prosecuting authorities and the courts in carrying out their proper functions,’ the judge said.

‘This will not be tolerated. It is for the courts to carry out judicial functions and it’s not for individuals or sections of the community to attempt to resolve these matters outside the court.’

Burnley Crown Court was told that the husband, of Burnley, Lancs, denied both rape charges against him.

Sara Dodd, prosecuting, said the alleged victim was at court, but did not wish to give evidence against her husband. She said the complainant had been put under ‘enormous emotional pressure from her community’ over the case. Miss Dodd said the Crown Prosecution Service would not be proceeding with the case against the husband as it would ‘do more harm than good’ to the alleged victim.

It is understood that no action will be taken against the woman for retracting the allegations.

Last month Keir Starmer, the chief prosecutor in England and Wales, admitted there had been failings in the treatment of women who withdraw rape claims.

His comments came after a 28-year-old woman, from Welshpool, North Wales, was jailed for retracting allegations of rape against her husband. The young mother, who was bullied into withdrawing the charges by her controlling and manipulative husband, was sentenced to eight months imprisonment for perverting the course of justice by a crown court judge after the case against her husband collapsed.

But she was freed after spending 18 days in jail by the country’s most senior judge in November, who said a community punishment would have been more ‘compassionate’.

Mr Starmer publicly apologised to the woman and said that any moves to prosecute women who retract a rape allegation would now need his personal approval. ‘If the victim has decided to withdraw a rape allegation, we must explore the issues behind that, particularly if the victim is under pressure or frightened,’ he added.

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Pakistani-origin Conservative triggers backlash over ‘Islamophobia’ in Britain

Tory chairman Baroness Warsi faced a fierce backlash last night after claiming anti-Muslim bigotry was commonplace around British dinner tables.

The peer, the first Muslim woman to be appointed to the Cabinet, said Islamophobia had ‘seeped into our society’.

She also suggested that followers of Islam should not be divided into ‘extremists’ and ‘moderates’.

Her remarks were condemned by the Right of her party and church leaders, and Downing Street refused to endorse her views.

In a speech, Lady Warsi said: ‘It’s not a big leap of imagination to predict where the talk of “moderate” Muslims leads; in the factory, where they’ve just hired a Muslim worker, the boss says: “Not to worry, he’s only fairly Muslim”. In the school, the kids say: “The family next door are Muslim but they’re not too bad”.

‘It has seeped into our society in a way where it is acceptable around dinner to have conversations where anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry is openly discussed.

‘At various times, Britain has not been at ease with various religious minorities, whether that’s the Catholic community, eventually resulting in Catholic emancipation, or more recently the British Jewish community.

‘I look at the way those challenges were dealt with and indeed are continuing to be dealt with and how we must bring some of those lessons to the rise of anti-Muslim hatred.’

She added that perceptions of criminality among Muslims were of particular concern.

‘Sadly, one of the concerns that has been raised as I travel around the country is that somehow because there are a minority of people who commit criminal acts who come from the faith of Islam, that somehow means that it is fair game to have a go at the community as a whole,’ she said. ‘’It has seeped into our society in a way where it is acceptable around dinner to have conversations where anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry’

She also suggested that Muslim communities must do more to make clear to fundamentalists that their beliefs and actions are not acceptable.

Downing Street is understood to have insisted on significant changes to the final version of Lady Warsi’s speech. One source said: ‘Her remarks do not represent Government policy.’

Lady Warsi’s veteran predecessor Lord Tebbit said she should be more concerned about anti-Christian sentiments expressed by Muslims.

‘The Muslim faith was not discussed over the dinner tables of England, nor in the bars, before large numbers of Muslims came here to our country,’ he said. ‘I would have told her to go to our Christian churches and listen to what was said about her religion and those who practise it, then to the Mosques to hear what is said in some of them about the Christian faith and those who practise it.’

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, rejected Lady Warsi’s suggestion that distinguishing between ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ Muslims fostered prejudice. ‘Extremism as a mindset is spreading throughout the Muslim world’ he said.

‘That is why we must distinguish between those Muslims who want to live peacefully with their non-Muslim neighbours and those who wish to introduce Shari’a into this country, restrict freedom of speech and confine women to their homes.’

Alex Deane, director of Big Brother Watch, which campaigns against State interference in people’s lives, said: ‘I think all but a tiny handful of people are able to distinguish between those who hold to the Islamic faith, and Islamist extremists.’

But former Tory MP Paul Goodman said: ‘She’s right about Muslims because some of what’s broadcast and written about them is dangerous. Try swapping the word “Muslim” when you see it in a newspaper headline with the word “Jewish”.’ He said she was wrong on extremism, however.

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Call for phonics in schools as scathing Ofsted report says 1 in 6 British children reach 7 without being able to spell

Bring back phonics and rigorous tests and ‘virtually all’ children will be able to read by the age of six, according to the schools watchdog. Schools can achieve the highest standards if they go back to basics regardless of whether they are from sink estates or privileged areas, Ofsted said.

Phonics – a method of teaching reading which was ditched in the Seventies in favour of techniques such as ‘look and guess’, where the child uses clues in a sentence to read unfamiliar words – are key to pupils’ progress, the report said.

It also claims the biggest barrier to pupils’ learning is their teachers, as the ‘less successful schools limited their expectations of pupils’.

Official figures show one in five children at the age of seven struggle to spell simple words, prompting renewed calls for teachers who have resisted using phonics to ditch ‘trendy’ techniques.

Phonics teaches the letter sounds and then builds up to blending these to form whole words. The technique returned to the curriculum in 2006, but some teachers have been reluctant to readopt it.

Ofsted’s report, ‘Removing barriers to literacy’, focused on 180 schools from 2008 to 2010. The best achieved their results via a ‘systematic approach to phonics’, it said, and this should be ‘central to the teaching of reading’.

It also called for ‘rigorous monitoring’ of pupils’ progress, a view likely to anger teaching unions who are fighting ministers’ plan to introduce tests for six-year-olds.

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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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