Health trusts suspend IVF funding
Why is infertility an “inferior” ailment?
Around 10 per cent of English health authorities have stopped funding IVF treatment to save money, according to new research. Under national guidelines, primary care trusts (PCTs) are meant to offer women who need it three full cycles of IVF.
This includes extracting viable eggs, fertilising them, implanting suitable embryos in the womb, freezing embryos not used, and implanting the frozen ones at a later date if necessary.
The latest Department of Health audit, in 2009, showed that almost all PCTs offered at least one fresh cycle, while 27 per cent offered three full cycles.
However, research by the Infertility Network, a charity, has found that at least 11 of England’s 152 PCTs have now suspended funding for new referrals, meaning they do not even offer one cycle.
Most changed their funding policies last autumn, with the bans to remain in place until at least next month when the new financial year starts.
Given the ongoing pressures on NHS budgets, most trusts are not expected to restore funding.
Authority areas affected include: West Kent, Medway, West Sussex, Surrey, Sutton and Merton, South West Essex, Warwickshire, Warrington, Bury, North Yorkshire and Stockport. Other considering cutting funding include Lancashire, Salford and Trafford, and Haringey, Barking and Havering.
Susan Seenan, of Infertility Network UK, said many considered IVF to be a “soft option”. She said: “Some compare IVF with cosmetic procedures, saying it’s a ‘lifestyle choice’.” She added: “We hope that they will all reinstate it in April but very few have said that. It’s a very real worry for patients that they won’t.”
She was speaking as She, the women’s magazine, launched a campaign to lobby for better access to the treatment. A poll it commissioned found that a quarter of women had visited their GPs to discuss concerns about fertility.
A Department of Health spokesman said it was “important” for PCTs to take into account national guidelines, but it was up to them to decide spending priorities.
Retail giant Tesco recruits store bosses from SLOVAKIA after British workers shun supermarket jobs
Most Australians will believe this: Unemployed Brits too lazy and hooked on welfare to work
Tesco is recruiting staff for its UK stores from Slovakia after bosses claimed no suitable British candidates were available, it emerged last night. The supermarket chain has offered 12 weeks’ training, plus help with immigration paperwork and housing, in a bid to lure English-speaking recruits from eastern-Europe.
Bosses deny that they are turning abroad for cheap labour. They claim that they are struggling to fill roles with British candidates – despite the 2.5million lining up for unemployment benefits.
UK store managers’ salaries range from £26,000 to £60,000 a year. The average wage in Slovakia is £7,500. The country, formerly part of communist Czechoslovakia, has has an unemployment rate of 14.5 per cent.
The vacant posts are in London, where unemployment is 6.3 per cent. The chain is looking for at least 238 staff to fill posts across the capital.
A Tesco spokesman told the Sun: ‘We make every effort to recruit from local communities, but we can’t always fill vacancies. ‘It is much more expensive to recruit from Europe. We do it as a last resort.’
UK Govt’s Clueless Carbon Guru wants to blow £250 Billion
Britain’s top green bureaucrat on Carbon Markets and Climate Change admits she doesn’t know what she is doing with £250 billion of UK taxes.
European Commission Directorate General of Climate Action, Jill Duggan exposes her utter ignorance in an Australian radio interview when challenged about the costs and benefits of Britain’s rush to a ‘green’ economy.
Duggan is visiting Australia as head of Britain’s International Emissions Trading scheme and was hoping to win over new converts to her cause. Duggan (and Britain’s ‘Big Green’ goofball government) are aiming to cut emissions of carbon dioxide (that trace gas that comprises less than 0.04 percent of the atmosphere) by 20 percent by 2020.
Duggan appeared on Melbourne Talk Radio, on the Steve Price Breakfast Show (March 9, 2011) and when questioned live on air floundered badly exposing the staggering depths of her incompetence.
For those who doubt the following transcript of the radio interview is real and is perhaps some nightmarish early ‘climate denier’ April Fool’s joke, then listen to the actual recording here (acknowledgement: Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun).
Aussie journalist, Andrew Bolt (AB) leads off by asking Jill Duggan (JD) some pointed questions:
AB: Can I just ask; your target is to cut Europe’s emissions by 20% by 2020?
AB: Can you tell me how much – to the nearest billions – is that going to cost Europe do you think?
JD: No, I can’t tell you but I do know that the modelling shows that it’s cheaper to start earlier rather than later, so it’s cheaper to do it now rather than put off action.
AB: Right. You wouldn’t quarrel with Professor Richard Tol – who’s not a climate sceptic – but is professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin? He values it at about $250 billion. You wouldn’t quarrel with that?
JD: I probably would actually. I mean, I don’t know. It’s very, very difficult to quantify. You get different changes, don’t you? And one of the things that’s happening in Europe now is that many governments – such as the UK government and the German government – would like the targets to be tougher because they see it as a real stimulus to the economy.
AB: Right. Well you don’t know but you think it isn’t $250 billion.
JD: I think you could get lots of different academics coming up with lots of different figures.
AB: That’s right. You don’t know but that’s the figure that I’ve got in front of me. For that investment. Or for whatever the investment is. What’s your estimation of how much – because the object ultimately of course is to lower the world’s temperatures – what sort of temperature reduction do you imagine from that kind of investment?
JD: Well, what we do know is that to have an evens chance of keeping temperature increases globally to 2°C – so that’s increases – you’ve got to reduce emissions globally by 50% by 2050.
AB: Yes, I accept that, but from the $250 billion – or whatever you think the figure is – what do you think Europe can achieve with this 20% reduction in terms of cutting the world’s temperature? Because that’s, in fact, what’s necessary. What do you think the temperature reduction will be?
JD: Well, obviously, Europe accounts for 14% of global emissions. It’s 500 or 550 million people. On its own it cannot do that. That is absolutely clear.
AB: Have you got a figure in your mind? You don’t know the cost. Do you know the result?
JD: I don’t have a cost figure in my mind. Nor, one thing I do know, obviously, is that Europe acting alone will not solve this problem alone.
AB: So if I put a figure to you – I find it odd that you don’t know the cost and you don’t know the outcome – would you quarrel with this assessment: that by 2100 – if you go your way and if you’re successful – the world’s temperatures will fall by 0.05°C? Would you agree with that?
JD: Sorry, can you just pass that by me again? You’re saying that if Europe acts alone?
AB: If just Europe alone – for this massive investment – will lower the world’s temperature with this 20% target (if it sustains that until the end of this century) by 0.05°C. Would you quarrel with that?
JD: Well, I think the climate science would not be that precise. Would it?
AB: Ah, no, actually it is, Jill. You see this is what I’m curious about; that you’re in charge of a massive program to re-jig an economy. You don’t know what it costs. And you don’t know what it’ll achieve.
JD: Well, I think you can look at lots of modelling which will come up with lots of different costs.
AB: Well what’s your modelling? That’s the one that everyone’s quoting. What’s your modelling?
JD: Well, ah, ah. Let me talk about what we have done in Europe and what we have seen as the benefits. In Europe, in Germany you could look at, there’s over a million new jobs that have been created by tackling climate change, by putting in place climate policies. In the UK there’s many hundreds of thousand of jobs.
The above is just excerpt to vividly illustrate how liars, incompetence and junk science are stealing our taxes.
Conclusion: Jill Duggan should be fired and a moratorium on all programs relating to climate change put on hold until an independent commission of international experts fully examines this carbon fraud and determines who should be prosecuted and put behind bars.
It’s poor kids who are betrayed by Britain’s State schools
By Katharine Birbalsingh
I’m talking with three black children at one of our top public schools. They are, from what I can see, the only black children there. They joined the school in September, two year 10s and one year 12. They have been given bursaries. They used to attend state schools in London. I know their schools. They are a mixture of good and excellent London state schools. I ask them what the main differences are between school in London and their new school.
“You’re learning all the time here. In London, you only learn in lesson time, and even then…”
I press them on this and it is clear that living on the premises and having lessons so much of the time makes a world of difference. That is something we simply cannot do in the state sector. So I find out more and ask them to compare lessons on their own.
In the end, each one says that what they learn in ONE lesson at this public school would take them three lessons in their good/excellent London state school. So their old classmates continue to learn ONE THIRD of what these lucky children are now learning regularly, thanks to their bursaries. I’m not surprised, but appearing astounded I ask them why.
“Behaviour.” One of the girls laughs in an embarrassed way, shaking her head. The other girl agrees. “Behaviour…the kids in London chat and mess about all of the time. But here they’re quiet and listen to the teacher.”
The boy however stays quiet as the girls tell me how the behaviour at this school is so good they cannot quite believe it. Finally the boy shakes his head. “I don’t think it’s because of the behaviour. Yes, that’s a problem. But it’s because in London, all they ever do is repeat the same things over and over. It’s boring.”
I raise my eyebrows. “You mean the teacher teaches you the same thing over and over again?”
The three of them nod. I look at the boy. “So why do you think your teachers in London do that?”
He shrugs. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because they think we’re stupid.” He pauses. “No, I think it’s because they’re trying to make everyone the same. They’re trying to get everyone in the class up to the same level.”
I know exactly what he means, of course. All three children have hit the nail on the head. The behaviour is bad. The exams don’t judge the kids on their knowledge (on the whole) and emphasise skills. Schools and teachers are under pressure to tick league table boxes. But if you keep teaching the same knowledge over and over, it’s easy and it pacifies the children. Skills get taught well enough to tick the C box. The behaviour remains bad but the boxes get ticked.
I look at the boy. “So what do your friends think about you being here?”
He smiles. “They think I’m lucky. They wish they could be me.”
You bet they do. These children have been given the chance of a lifetime. While it is true that not all of our children can go to public schools, why on earth is it not possible that during lesson time, we might teach our children three times as much as they are currently taught? Because of our prejudice against the poor, that’s why. These kids can’t do it, we say. They’re black. They’re poor. They live on a council estate. Teach them five academic subjects? Impossible! Get them interested in learning about Shakespeare? Impossible! Better to let them rot.
Am I wrong to want ALL of our children to have something similar to this public school?
Demand for a Catholic education has been growing in Wales
There are more than 2,300 Catholic schools in England and Wales, educating around 800,000 pupils and employing 40,000 teachers.
In fact, faith schools are enjoying a boom in many European countries and international research suggests their popularity is based on their ability to outperform secular schools.
Last year’s papal visit gave the Western world’s oldest institution a welcome boost and triggered a celebration of Catholic education in the UK.
Organisers hope a series of events taking place across the academic year will help promote the achievements of its schools.
Dr Martin Price, vice-chairman of the Archdiocese of Cardiff Schools Commission, said Catholic education is often misunderstood. “Our individual schools have a good profile in their communities, but the context in which they operate is less well-known,” he said. “Our schools are some of the most successful in Wales and are constantly at the forefront of Assembly Government strategies, whether on academic, well-being or ethical lines. They are non-selective and have a full range of social, ability and ethnic mix.”
Catholic schools make up around 5% of all those in Wales, with 15 secondary and 80 primary from Anglesey to Newport. Schools are voluntary-aided and receive the same revenue funding as any state school. Their day-to-day running is the same as any other maintained by the local authority, though the church, with contributions from the Catholic community, provides 15% funding for all capital projects.
Dr Price said that with the majority of Catholic schools oversubscribed, governors had to adhere to a strict oversubscription criteria. “Each Catholic school has its own admissions criteria and there are forms to fill in and register with the local authority,” he said. “Normally, we would look at Catholics local to the area first. Then we would look at children who are members of another Christian denomination and why they have chosen that particular school.”
Dr Price said that with a wider catchment area, there are varying numbers of Catholicism in school intake across Wales. But with Catholic pupils from the Philippines, Eastern Europe and India, schools are well-placed to cater for children of all faiths.
According to Dr Price, an influx of Catholic pupils from overseas has contributed to the rise in demand for its education provision. He said: “There was a point 10 years ago when our schools would have been predominantly white. That’s not the case now and immigration has played a part.
“People coming to this country don’t realise that our schools are free. In many parts of the world, Catholic education is independent from the state and parents have to pay.”
The performance of Catholic schools is traditionally very high, though the advent of a faith-based education is not to everyone’s liking. The National Secular Society opposes what it considers a “disproportionate influence of religion in our education system” and teaching unions have passed votes calling for faith schools to be abolished.
Dr Price vehemently opposed suggestions that Catholic schools “indoctrinate” their children. “It’s not about indoctrinating children in church doctrine. It’s about putting into practice moral judgements,” he said. “All schools will try and implicate moral values and it’s to do with ethos and trying to live out the faith. We explain the position the church takes on things.”
Religious education accounts for around 10% of lesson time and is part of the core curriculum in Catholic schools, with English, Welsh, maths and science. But a greater focus on RE by no means detracts from other subject areas. A study compiled by the Catholic Education Service showed that in every category assessed, Catholic schools achieved better results than the average for all state-funded institutions.
Inspectors judged 79% of Catholic secondary schools to be “good” or “outstanding” overall, compared to an average of 64% for all secondaries nationally. Among Catholic primaries, 79% were rated good or outstanding, higher than the average of 68% across the country.
Standards of classroom discipline and moral development among pupils were also far better in Catholic education, with fewer exclusions than in typical state schools.
Anne Robertson, diocesan director of schools in Cardiff, said: “We’re not perfect and have issues like everyone else, but the overall picture is quite good. “The Catholic Church is all about forgiveness and our schools try very hard to see how they can work with certain individuals. “It’s not just the academic standards but often the pastoral care that’s important. We see that as fundamental to what we’re trying to do.”
As co-ordinator of schools in the Cardiff Archdiocese, Ms Robert- son is charged with meeting demand for Catholic education in 10 local authorities, including Blae-nau Gwent and Monmouthshire. “To build a new secondary school would cost at least £20m and the Archdioceses would have to find around £3m of that. So we may need to consider other options such as expansion on existing sites.”
Looking to the future, the Catholic Church is hoping to build on the successful visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK and make policy makers in Cardiff Bay more aware of its work in the community. Dr Price said: “On a local level we’re very good, but from a national level we need to let [Education Minister] Leighton Andrews know we exist. “We need to be blowing our own trumpet that we’re doing things right and we want to influence Assembly thinking. “There’s a lack of understanding about what we do and that’s partly our fault because we haven’t told them,” he added.
Could breastfeeding make baby brighter? Just four weeks on mother’s milk said to benefit brain
An old chestnut re-roasted. Full research report here.
This is a brave attempt at rigorous research but it falls to the ground over the political incorrectness of IQ. They did not measure maternal IQ so the small effect they observed could be entirely due to that. Given the propaganda in favour of it, it is highly likely that more intelligent women are more likely to breastfeed — and IQ is highly hereditary
Note that this recent study, which DID control for IQ found no effect of breastfeeding. Sad, eh? No wonder the study below has not made it into the peer reviewed journals
Babies who are breastfed grow up to be more intelligent, scientists suggested yesterday. Just four weeks on their mothers’ milk can have a ‘significant’ effect on a child’s development in primary and secondary school, research has found. Those who have been breastfed do better at reading, writing and maths at the ages of five, seven, 11 and 14.
While breast milk has long been known to boost babies’ immunity, helping them fight ear infections, stomach bugs and even asthma, little was known about its effects on intelligence until now.
Maria Iacovou, one of the authors of the study, said: ‘The issue was that while it looked as though breastfeeding did have an impact on cognitive development, no one knew if that was just because the type of mother more likely to breastfeed in the first place was more likely to nurture brighter children, or whether there was a true causal link. ‘Breast milk has well-known health benefits and now we can say there are clear benefits for children’s brains as well.’
Dr Iacovou, a social scientist at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, insisted that she didn’t intend ‘to make any mother feel guilty’. She said there were significant challenges to face when trying to change attitudes to breastfeeding and women shouldn’t be pressured to do so. But, she added, ‘we should start focusing more on those women who do want to, try to help them and make it more normal for everyone’.
As well as providing babies with vital nutrients, breastfeeding has been shown to protect the mother from breast and ovarian cancer in later life – due to its effects on hormonal balance. It could even help new mothers return to their pre-pregnancy figures, burning 500 calories a day.
However Janet Fyle, professional policy adviser at the Royal College of Midwives, said that mothers often can’t breastfeed because of pressures to return to work. She added: ‘In this country we are cutting benefits to single parent families and poorer people, and mothers have to get back to work and earn a living, whether it’s in Sainsbury’s or the City – it is what the Government wants them to do.’
The study was conducted by researchers from Oxford University and the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex. It looked at test scores of pupils who were still being breastfed when they were four weeks old and others put on formula milk.
Each breastfed child was compared with a bottle-fed child from a very similar background, based on factors such as parents’ income, jobs and whether they were separated.
Despite very similar upbringings, those who had been breastfed consistently did better in maths, reading and writing throughout primary and secondary school, the study of more than 10,000 children found.
Now the British government wants calorie counts on sandwiches and beer
Fast food and sandwich chains are to display calorie counts on menus, ministers will announce this week. Beer mats and glasses in pubs will also start displaying measurements of drinks’ alcohol units under the deal reached by the Government with several food and drinks firms.
And larger fast food chains will introduce healthier meals thanks to a voluntary deal between the industry and the Food Standards Agency watchdog. This initiatives to improve the nation’s eating and drinking habits, part of the Government’s ‘responsibility deal’, is due to be announced by ministers this week.
A number of major food chains have revealed their efforts to help the nation become healthier. KFC is to start selling healthier griddled chicken alongside the usual fried options and Pizza Hut is promoting a low-calorie menu that encourages diners to eat salad. Burger King and McDonald’s are expected to lead the way among outlets introducing menus with calorie information from September.
Meanwhile Heineken has announced that all 11 million glasses used in pubs and clubs bearing logos of Foster’s, Bulmers, Kronenbourg or its other brands will carry information on the number of units per pint.
And it is expected that a leading brand, thought to be Strongbow cider, will have its alcohol content cut by a fifth to encourage responsible drinking.
The calorie count scheme mirrors a compulsory regime adopted in New York last year that has led to an average reduction of 50 to 100 calories for each order placed. [Rubbish! It made no difference]
Other moves include a pledge by companies to reduce salt by 15 per cent, to help reach the Government’s target of keeping an adult’s daily intake at six grams or less.
FSA chief executive Tim Smith said supermarket shoppers can already choose what to buy thanks to product labels showing the levels of calories, fat, sugar and salt. ‘There is no good reason why people should not be able to come to the same conclusion when they are standing in front of a sandwich counter or in a fast food outlet,’ he added.
But the timing of the move has encountered opposition from the British Hospitality Association, amid claims it will add to costs and threaten jobs in a period of hardship for many businesses.