Brilliant NHS response to overcrowded hospitals: Sue the patients for being there!

Trespassing laws are to be used to evict elderly patients who ‘block’ hospital beds. Pensioners reluctant to go home – often because they are too frail or confused to cope on their own – will be given 48 hours to leave. If they refuse, NHS trusts will seek a court order for possession of their bed. The ‘bed-blockers’ could even be forced to pay the legal fees incurred.

The extraordinary plans, which emerged on the day an official report accused the Health Service of betraying the elderly, were condemned as inhumane.

Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: ‘This is an absolute disgrace. It is so difficult for these patients to get the help they need in the community. There are simply insufficient resources for people to cope on their own. They need a planned discharge. This is a damning indictment of how society treats the elderly.’

Aintree University Foundation Trust and Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust, both on Merseyside, are seeking to employ anti-trespass powers more commonly used to ban yobs from shopping centres.

‘Bed-blockers’ are patients deemed by doctors to be well enough to leave but who often remain in hospital because there is nowhere safe for them to go.

Dementia sufferers can be denied places in care homes, while other patients need stairlifts or rails to be installed in their own properties. Many are widows or widowers or those whose children have moved away.

It is unclear how the plan would work because the offence of trespass in England is based on centuries of common law. It is seen as a civil offence, not a criminal act, and the owner of the building – the NHS Trust – would ultimately be able to sue for damages if an individual refused to leave after a series of warnings.

The idea has come from a 2006 case involving Barnet primary care trust in North London which used a High Court possession order to remove a patient who had been in hospital for three years after being declared fit to go home. The patient was also made to pay £10,000 in legal fees.

Michelle Mitchell of the charity Age UK said: ‘This proposed treatment of vulnerable, frail patients by a primary care trust is extremely heavy handed. It appears to be a very blunt tool to fix what looks to be a far more complex problem.’

Last month a report found that ‘bed-blocking’ had worsened on many wards. In a survey by, 40 per cent of medics said the situation had deteriorated in the past month, with half seeing no improvement. Senior consultants blamed councils for not organising services such as carers to enable the elderly to move back into their own homes safely.

The proposals, unearthed by HSJ magazine, have been brought in to reduce the number of ‘delayed transfers of care’. A spokesman for Sefton Primary Care Trust, which has drawn up the plans with the two Merseyside hospitals, said legal action was a last resort. ‘It could only be considered after every other available option had been thoroughly explored with the patient and their family,’ she added. ‘However, the NHS has a duty to ensure hospital beds are available for those who are seriously ill and not occupied by people who no longer require acute consultant care.’

A scathing report by the Health Service Ombudsman yesterday highlighted ten cases of inhumane treatment of the elderly.

One dying cancer patient was left so dehydrated on a hospital ward that he could not even call for help. Yet not a single doctor or nurse has been sacked from any of the hospitals named in the report.

Ann Abraham’s findings came just two months after the Daily Mail launched a campaign to end such scandalous treatment. With the help of our readers we were able to raise £100,000 for the Patients Association to go toward a helpline to deal with complaints about poor care.


The quirks of Oxford and Cambridge

Oxford and Cambridge are unlike any other university in the country, with a number of rituals, traditions and quirks that stretch back centuries

One on one tutorials

No other universities in the country are able to provide one-on-one teaching in the way that Oxbridge does. Students’ individual sessions in tutors’ (Oxford) and supervisors’ (Cambridge) studies are regarded by academics as the most important type of teaching.

Collegiate system

Oxford and Cambridge are not unique in their division into colleges -Durham is among the others – but they are the only ones where teaching is centred in the college. Each college has its own independent academic staff and depending on their subjects students receive a significant amount of their teaching in-house.

Boat race

Yes, other universities have boat races – No, none of them is on the same scale. The annual event between the two universities is known across the world, attracts thousands of viewers and is screened live on television.


“Blues” are awarded to students who play for the university at the highest level in any sport, the term coming from the colours the teams wear. Other universities have similar awards, such as Palatinates at Durham and Purples at the University of London, but it was Oxford and Cambridge who started the tradition in the 19th century.


Subfusc is a mode of full academic dress worn by students to sit exams and attend university ceremonies such as matriculation at Oxford. Generally it consists of a suit, white shirt and bow tie for men, and a black skirt or trousers with a white blouse for women.

Graduation in Latin

Parts of the graduation ceremony take place in Latin, including statements where degrees are officially conferred on graduates. This tradition has remained despite the majority of students no longer speaking the dead language.

University police

Until 2003, both Oxford and Cambridge had their own private police forces, who were responsible for discipline within the university. The force at Oxford was abolished in 2003 but the Cambridge University Constabulary remains.

Strange interview questions

While many universities now interview applicants, none has a reputation quite like Oxford or Cambridge for intimidating prospective students by asking bizarre and seemingly irrelevant questions such as “tell me about a banana”.

Unusual sports

Oxford and Cambridge are some of the only universities in Britain that offer students the opportunity to take part in virtually-extinct sports such as fives, which was developed at public schools such as Eton, and real tennis.


The shame of Green Britain: Families go without food to pay winter fuel bills

ONE of the coldest winters in a century saw Welsh people risking their health by switching off heating in the face of rising energy bills, a report has found.

The Bevan Foundation report said some families also plunged themselves into debt or went without food in an effort to afford to heat their homes. It warns the Assembly Government will not meet its target of eliminating fuel poverty by 2018 with its current approach.

The shocking report comes just a week after Children in Wales and Consumer Focus Wales warned children’s health and education is being put at risk by fuel poverty.

James Radcliffe, author of the Bevan Foundation report, Coping with Cold, said: “The combination of rising energy prices and the return of colder winters means more people are affected by fuel poverty.

“It is clear that the target of eliminating fuel poverty by 2018 will not be met through the current strategy. “We need to start thinking about alternative ways of tackling fuel poverty and helping people stay warm during the winter. It is unacceptable that the UK has such a high rate of excess deaths over the winter compared to countries like Sweden which have even colder weather.”

The Bevan Foundation asked 120 people in South Wales how they responded to cold weather in last year’s winter. The winter of 2009-10 was the coldest in 30 years with the mean UK temperature falling to 1.5C, the lowest since 1978-79.

Provisional figures for this winter (2010-11) reveal it was the coldest for 100 years, with the mean temperature in the UK plummeting to -1C, compared to the long-term average of 4.2C.

The Bevan Foundation research found people were cutting back on food to pay for energy or even going without warmth to keep bills low. Just under a third never increased their heating in the cold.


High-flyers to escape British migration cap

(For non-British readers: “The City” is London’s financial district)

High-flyers earning more than £150,000 a year will be exempt from the yearly cap on economic migration, ministers will announce on Wednesday. The move comes in response to fears that the limit would hinder the City’s ability to hire global talent.

The concession will be welcomed by business leaders, who have warned the government that the limit on work permits for non-Europeans threatens to damage important trading partnerships and London’s standing as an international commercial hub.

Lady Valentine, chief executive of London First, a City lobby group that has led opposition to the cap, said: “It is refreshing to see that government is listening to business concerns. Many of London’s biggest global employers will be delighted with the restrictions on high earners being lifted.”

Yearly net migration rose recently to 215,000, although much of that could be attributed to Britons no longer emigrating to Spain.

There is also evidence that immigration from Ireland is rising, as well as from other EU countries such as Latvia and Lithuania, also outside the government’s control.

The points-based system will be ranked to favour jobs where there are skills shortages, scientific researchers and high earners.


British shed owners warned wire on windows could hurt burglars

Police have told residents to stop putting wire mesh on their garden shed windows – because they could be sued if a burglar is injured.

A spate of thefts in several towns and villages in Kent and Surrey over the past few months led to many householders taking action to protect their property.

Some have been warned by police that using wire mesh to reinforce shed windows was “dangerous’’ and could lead to criminals claiming compensation if they “hurt themselves’’.

Thieves target sheds to steal lawnmowers, power drills, bicycles and a variety of DIY tools.

Thomas Cooper, of Tatsfield, Surrey, used wire mesh to protect three of his garden sheds after two break-ins over the past four years. He decided to take action after reports of a rise in garden raids in the area. Mr Cooper said: “I reinforced my shed windows with wire mesh, but was told by the police I had to be very careful because thieves can actually sue you if they get hurt. “It is ridiculous that the law protects them even though they are breaking it.”

Last month Samantha Cullum, a mother-of-three, of Brasted, near Sevenoaks in Kent, had her whole shed stolen when thieves lifted it on to a lorry. She said: “We had some tools stolen every now and again, but this time they took the entire shed – I couldn’t believe it.”

Dave Bishop, of Tatsfield, said: “The law is so stupid, and you never know what decision judges are going to make. People do get fed up with these people trying to help themselves to things which you have worked hard to gather together.”

Pc John Lee, a crime reduction officer for Tandridge, said: “We are constantly advising home owners to protect their property and the contents of their shed or garage, however, a commonsense approach needs to be taken. “To properly secure your sheds, Surrey Police strongly advises people to invest in items such as good-quality locks and bolts, and not to resort to homemade devices, as this could cause injury.”

A police source added: “Homemade devices can cause injury and there have been cases where criminals have sued for injuries they have suffered while committing a criminal act. “We are advising people to do whatever they can to protect their property, but wire mesh is not one of the suggestions we would make.”


Is Britain’s Met Office becoming irrelevant?

A strange question perhaps, considering the considerable political influence the Met Office has within political circles when it comes to energy and climate policy. But certainly one worth asking following a comment by Northern Ireland’s Regional Development Minister last month.

On the topic of burst water pipes and the severe supply problems affecting thousands of people in Northern Ireland over the Christmas period, the Belfast Telegraph reported on 19th January:

Forecasts of another seven years of the extreme winter that triggered the burst pipes crisis in Northern Ireland may force changes to how water is plumbed into homes, the regional development minister has warned.

Conor Murphy, facing questions from his Stormont scrutiny committee on the Christmas emergency, said some meteorologists believed the region had entered a weather cycle that would see successive deep freezes.

In the face of that, Mr Murphy said the Executive may have to look at changing building regulations to ensure that water pipes are buried deeper and insulated better.

What makes the comment interesting is this response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by Autonomous Mind (using an alias), enquiring which Meterologists provided this advice and requesting a copy of the advice that was provided to the Minister enabling him to make his assertion.

The response from the NI Department for Regional Development is telling:

This shows that for all his multitude of failings, Conor Murphy is listening to what meteorologists other than the Met Office are saying about changes to our weather that contradict the Met Office line of ever increasing warming. Not only that, they are using what they have listened to in official evidence to government committees.

A very small example maybe, but marginalising the Met Office in this way – intentionally or otherwise – represents a visible crack in the climate consensus that has consistently told us mankind is changing the climate, making the world warmer and the result will be warmer and wetter winters. The structures are weakening.


British football pundit accused of ‘casual racism’ after making joke about Chinese names

A fuss over trivia. He wasn’t insulting anyone.

“Commenting on a bungled move for the ball by Chelsea player Fernando Torres, he said: ‘It’s come off his chest, his knee, and his toe. It’s almost like that Chinese player Knee Shin Toe’.

Hoddle – who enjoyed a glittering career playing for Tottenham, Monaco and England – was sacked as the national team manager in 1999 when he claimed in an interview that disabled people were paying for their sins in a previous life.


Names in Chinese often sound amusing in English. There was a big Chinese grocer in Sydney’s Chinatown years ago called “Say Tin Fong”. I must confess that my friends and I usually DID say “Tin Fong” as we walked past — rather loudly sometimes. And there was a Chinese grocer over the road from my High School called “Wing On”. I am sorry to say that he was sometimes told to “wing off” by some of my fellow students.

Even my mother used to tell me jokes about pseudo-Chinese names. One was: “Have you heard about the latest novel set in China — called “Spot on the Wall” by Hoo Flung Dung?”. And my mother was good friends with our local Chinese grocer so there was no animus in it.

Such jokes are just a harmless tradition in my view. But we live in more sensitive times now.

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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