How NHS consultants’ pay soared while their hours fell because of Labour contracts bungle

Labor bribed the doctors into not rocking the boat

Taxpayers have been getting less value for money from hospital consultants since they were handed an enormous pay rise, MPs said last night.

A Commons committee issued a report blasting the last Labour government for agreeing to lucrative new contracts in 2003, which saw consultant pay soar by a third to around £120,000 a year.

But over the same time, the amount of work they performed for their generous pay packets actually fell.

It contributed to an appalling level of waste, which has seen the productivity of NHS hospitals in ‘almost continuous decline’ for a decade.

The report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee accepted that Labour’s increased spending on the Health Service – up 70 per cent since 2000 to £102billion last year – has led to reduced waiting times, increased quality and better buildings.

But over that time, productivity has fallen by 1.4 per cent each year.

The most recent estimate found that the number of hours worked per consultant fell from 51.6 per week before the contract to 50.2 around four years later – nearly an hour and a half fewer a week. Although there was an 11.3 per cent increase in the number of consultants in the two years after the contract was signed, the amount of consultant-led activity increased by just 4 per cent.

More than half of consultants take home bonuses worth up to £76,000; while others benefit from overtime payments of up to £250 an hour.

The report concludes: ‘The taxpayer has seen a better quality NHS as a result of the additional investment but, per pound, is getting less in return.

‘In 2002, the Department [of Health] promised that, in exchange for increased funding, it would deliver annual productivity improvements. The department failed and we have had ten years of almost continuous decline.’

There are also wide variations between hospitals which contribute to the waste. The cost of a first-time elective coronary artery bypass graft varies from £5,000 at some trusts to £12,000 at others. And while some hospitals have just four members of staff per bed, others have 13.

The MPs warned there was a chance that frontline services, such as operations and jobs, will have to be cut unless the NHS can improve productivity.

The King’s Fund think tank has estimated that productivity savings of 6 per cent a year will need to be found to prevent frontline cuts.

Dr Paul Flynn, of the British Medical Association’s consultants’ committee, said: ‘We agree that new ways of working are necessary if the NHS is to achieve the efficiency savings demanded of it.

‘However, knee-jerk responses – such as cutting the time consultants can spend on the development of new services – are likely to be counterproductive in the long term.’

Health minister Simon Burns said: ‘This report is yet another sign that 13 years of Labour policy failed to deliver value for money in the NHS.’


Poor students ‘excluded’ from race for top jobs in Britain

Students from poor backgrounds are being excluded from the “hour-glass” jobs market after being pushed into taking worthless qualifications at school, according to research published today. Thousands of young people are unable to compete for highly-skilled graduate positions after being “mis-sold” GCSEs and A-levels in practical subjects, it was claimed.

Elizabeth Truss, the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk, said Britain’s poor social mobility record would only improve if pupils from low-income families were given a “fighting chance” of qualifying for top jobs.

In a study for the CentreForum think-tank, she told of increased polarisation in the employment market. The number of positions in middle-ranking skilled trades or clerical jobs has dropped in recent years because of improved technology and a move towards automated manufacturing, the report said.

At the same time, more jobs have been created in highly-skilled or unskilled positions, creating an “hourglass economy” in Britain, it was claimed. Since the mid-90s, more than 1m extra people have been employed in professional occupations such as the law and medicine, while the number of skilled tradesmen has dropped by 300,000.

But the report – Academic Rigour and Social Mobility – said poor students were increasingly unprepared for the changing jobs market after being pushed into taking vocational qualifications such as media studies at school and college. It meant they were only eligible for unskilled employment opportunities.

The study said: “The middle of the job market is being squeezed and in order to secure the growing number of professional, managerial and technical jobs, applicants require respected formal qualifications. “Low income students who don’t receive the ‘Morse code’ emanating from employers and top universities have been ‘mis-sold’ low quality GCSE and A-levels and find themselves on the outside track.”

The comments follow the publication of guidance earlier this year by the Russell Group, which represents 20 leading universities. It that said pupils taking large numbers of “softer” options, such as media studies, art and design, photography and business studies, would have less chance of securing places than those taking traditional academic courses.

According to figures, students from private schools are one-and-a-half times more likely to study maths at A-level than those in state education. In addition, only four-in-10 pupils in state comprehensives study foreign languages at GCSE, while the subjects are compulsory in more than eight out of 10 private schools up to the age of 16.

Mrs Truss suggested that schools should be measured on how many “Russell Group ready” students they produce. They could be ranked based on the number gaining three academic A-levels, she suggested.


Boris Johnson on the tsunami reaction

Boris is the Mayor of London and a classics graduate. He also seems to know a bit of German

A caller rang a London radio station to discuss the lessons of the Japanese earthquake, and said something both death-defyingly stupid and brilliantly illuminating. He knew why there had been a seismic event measuring 8.9. It was because man was forever drilling for oil, and our planet was angry at the intrusion. The Earth, in the view of this caller, was like some vast animal shrugging its pelt at an irritating flea-bite – and mankind was that irritating flea.

That analysis is of course stupid, because there is no evidence of a connection between the colossal movements of the Pacific tectonic plates and our feeble scrapings and probings for oil or any other minerals.

The events of recent days have certainly been appalling. I have never seen anything like that great black tide of sludge as it rolled with bobbing houses and boats over northern Japan. But then geology is a story of mind-boggling violence, and this earthquake is nothing compared to events in the fairly recent history of the planet. Why did India crash up into the rest of Asia to form the Himalayas? Why did Latin America split off from Africa and the rest of Gondwana?

Whatever happens in the world, whatever the catastrophe, we approach it like some vast BBC reporter with an addiction to the first person singular. We just have to put ourselves at the centre of the story. Back in the second millennium BC there was a huge earthquake and tsunami in the Mediterranean, an event which has been associated with the destruction of Santorini. It was obvious to the ancients that this must have been to do with mankind – and specifically the misbehaviour of the people of Atlantis, who got uppity and dissed Poseidon. So Poseidon struck back. Of course he did.

I am afraid to say that our manic post hoc ergo propter hoc-ery survives to this day. When Phuket in Thailand was hit by the 2004 tsunami, there really were a large number of religious nut-jobs – and not only in America – who were convinced that this was some kind of divine vengeance on that town for the alleged immorality of its residents and its reputation for sex tourism. It is always us, us, us. Many are the terrors of the Earth, says the chorus in Sophocles, and nothing is more terrible than mankind. Well, the only good thing about an earthquake and tsunami on this scale is that they remind us that even Sophocles was capable of talking bilge. There are plenty of things more terrifying than man, and they include asteroids, earthquakes, tsunamis and anything else that reminds us that we are tiny blobs of flesh and blood crawling on the thin integument of a sphere of boiling rock and metal, and that there are events in the life of that planet that are simply nothing to do with human action.

The most important lesson here is that there are no lessons for human behaviour, and over coming days it is vital that we watch out for the preachers and the moralisers who will try to use it to further their campaigns. First off the blocks, I see, is the anti-nuke lobby.

These are the ”Atomkraft? Nein, Danke!” brigade, who have always believed that any kind of nuclear fission – tampering with the building blocks of the universe – was an invitation to cosmic retribution. They will now do everything they can to exploit the Fukushima explosion and the difficulties being experienced in bringing a couple of plants under control.

I don’t want in any way to minimise these problems, and we must hope they are sorted out as soon as possible with the barest leaks of radiation. I just doubt that there is any real read-across between the difficulties of nuclear reactors in a well-known earthquake zone, and proposed nuclear programs in Britain and elsewhere, which are becoming more essential with every day that passes.

Whatever happens in Libya, whether we intervene or not (and I wouldn’t hold your breath), it is clear that instability will continue in the Middle East. It would be madness, in the current crisis, with oil capable of climbing up to $200 a barrel – with catastrophic consequences for the world economy – for us to abandon one of the few available long-term alternatives to fossil fuels. What would the oil price do then?

The response to the Japan earthquake is to send all the aid and the support that we can. But we don’t have to treat this as any kind of verdict on mankind’s activities. We don’t have to make amends by sacrificing a hecatomb to Poseidon. We don’t have to lead 100 garlanded men and maidens to the top of the pyramid and then cut out their beating hearts. We don’t have to stop drilling for oil, and we don’t have to sacrifice our efforts to provide safe, clean and green nuclear power.

There is no rhyme or reason to an earthquake, and we should for once abandon our infantile delusion that we are the cause and maker of everything.


Britain limits the importation of workers to highly skilled categories

The number of jobs open to migrants from outside the European Union is to be halved, ministers will announce today. Foreigners are currently able to obtain work permits for around 500,000 posts that bosses say cannot be filled by British or EU workers.

But from April that will fall to 230,000 when non-graduate jobs are taken off the Home Office ‘shortage occupation list’.

Non-EU beauty salon managers, estate agents, florists, pipe fitters, steel erectors and welders will be among those barred. The Home Office has commissioned an expert review of all the remaining categories on the list.

If the Migration Advisory Committee finds there are enough unemployed British workers with the required skills, tens of thousands more posts could be closed. Ministers want to ensure that priority access to Britain’s labour market is granted only where there are real skills shortages.

Immigration minister Damian Green said the Government was determined to cut dole queues and make sure migrants were not the ‘first resort’ for firms with vacancies.

Firms looking to fill jobs which appear on the shortage list do not have to advertise to British workers first, and applicants do not have to meet an earnings test.

Others taken off the list because they are not graduate level include sheep shearers, senior care workers and meat boners.

Mr Green said: ‘These changes to the shortage occupation list will ensure that only skilled workers are coming to the UK through Tier 2 of the points-based system. ‘It will allow firms to bring in people with necessary skills without migrants becoming the first resort to fill a wide range of available jobs.

‘This Government is also determined to get people back to work and provide business with the skills they need from the British workforce – reducing the need for migrants at the same time as we reduce their number.’

Last week, Mr Green attacked Labour for failing to impose controls on Eastern European workers when the EU expanded in 2004. He said the ‘mistake’ would never be repeated and much tougher restrictions would apply in future. More than 1.15million Eastern European workers have signed up to the Home Office’s worker registration scheme.

Mr Green said the job categories listed as skilled under Tier 2 will be cut from 192 to 121. Midwives, chartered surveyors and management accountants stay on the approved list.

Officials estimate around 65 per cent of the 8,400 work permits issued last year to workers on the shortage list would not have qualified under the new rules.

The shake-up is part of efforts to cut net migration – the number that migration adds to the population every year – to the tens of thousands by 2015. Last year it hit 226,000.

The student visa system will also be modified so only the ‘brightest and the best’ can come to Britain. Home Office figures suggest more than a quarter of those at private colleges flout immigration rules.

Professor David Metcalf, of the Migration Advisory Committee, said: ‘Placing limits on migration requires we are far more selective and ensure only highly skilled migrant workers can come to work in the UK.’


Ignorant “Guardian” journalist touring Israel knows nothing about Judaism

But she still “reports” about the situation in Israel. See below.

You’d think that a journalist would do a bit of elementary background reading before reporting on a subject. But that doesn’t apply to Leftists. They “just know” all the answers

I’m on a tour of the Israeli Yishuv of Itamar, site of the gruesome attack on Shabbat which left five Israelis (including 3 children) dead, and our group just finished talking to the community Rabbi and his wife Leah (who is also a community spokesperson) about their thoughts on the massacre and related issues of life in the community.

The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood is one of the European journalists on the tour, and she just asked Leah – at the end of the Q&A – if she was a “Messianic“ Jew, a question which, as anyone familiar with the Christ-based movement knows, is an absurd question for a rebbetzin of a religious Jewish community.

I’ll post later, but am still stunned by the failure of the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent to even marginally understand what the term Messianic Judaism denotes.


Guardian’s bizarre headline on story about deadly terrorist attack in Itamar

A dispatch by Harriet Sherwood on the terrorist attack in the Israeli Yishuv of Itamar contained this headline:

Get it? Israelis AND Palestinians were in shock over the brutal murder of five innocent Israeli civilians.

Except that Sherwood’s story doesn’t even attempt to support the bizarre assertion that Palestinians were morally outraged by the terrorist act.

In fact, as I posted recently, Palestinians in the Gaza city of Rafah were seen celebrating the attack by handing out sweets.

Further, as Palestinian Media Watch has demonstrated, Palestinian society routinely glorifies terrorists and propagates virulent anti-Semitic incitement on state-run television, radio, and newspapers. Indeed, explicit hatred towards Jews (not merely Israelis) is quite normative.

While I sincerely would love to read a story about Palestinians who are truly outraged and shocked by the attack in Itamar, I’ve yet to come across it.

But, of course, evidence of Palestinian indifference to Jewish suffering doesn’t quite square with the Guardian narrative and, as we know all to well, facts – even headlines – are ultimately subservient to their rigid political agenda.


Racist to say a Frenchman is French

Nutty England:

“A football fan is to appear in court for making an alleged racist comment – after calling a player FRENCH. Everton supporter David Sibson, 57, was thrown out of their Goodison Park ground for shouting that the team’s French striker Louis Saha was “a useless French lazy b******”.

He was reported by a fan sitting nearby. Mr Sibson had his season ticket taken away by the club. Police investigated and he now faces a public order charge before JPs.

The ex MoD worker, of Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, said: “I’m facing a criminal prosecution just for calling a Frenchman French. If that is racist then I suppose I’m guilty.”

An Everton official said: “It’s not simply a black or white matter. We’ll stamp down very hard on racial abuse of any kind.”


Calling the footballer a lazy so-and-so was not the problem, it seems. The problem was in calling him French!

This is part of the problem I made a few comments about yesterday. Just mentioning any ethnic identity has come to be regarded as a slur. Saying “Frenchmen are all pansies” would be a slur but saying: “You are French” surely is not.

The Left have managed to frighten most people away from any mention of race and ethnicity. A gag has been placed on a whole area of discussion and debate — unless you are a Leftist, of course. Any Leftist utterance is ALWAYS protected free speech, no matter how scurrilous it may be.

Brazilian humor goes down badly in Britain

Did you know that Burger King is now owned by a Brazilian company? Their chief exec., Bernardo Hees, is a Brazilian

“Burger King’s global boss was facing criticism yesterday after he said that British women were “unattractive” and that English food was “terrible”.

Bernardo Hees, 41, who became the fast food chain’s chief executive in September, made the unguarded remarks while addressing a group of students at the University of Chicago.

Mr Hees recalled that while studying for an MBA at England’s University of Warwick, the hard work he put into his studies was easy because there were a few distractions. “The food is terrible, and the women are not very attractive (in England),” he said.

“Here in Chicago, the food is good, and you are known for good-looking women,” he was quoted as saying in the Chicago Maroon, the University of Chicago’s student newspaper.

Mr Hees’ comments quickly drew condemnation from British restaurant chefs and female students.


In my experience, his comments about British food are spot on. It’s hard to believe how bad British food can sometimes be.


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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