NHS spending just £1 on each meal it serves up – less than half that spent on PRISONERS

Patients in NHS hospitals are being fed cheaper food than prison inmates, it was revealed yesterday. Spending on hospital food has been slashed by up to two-thirds over the last five years, according to official figures. In some hospitals in England budgets have fallen by 62 per cent – with meals costing little more than £1. That’s just half the £2.10 spent on the average meal in jail.

The NHS spends £500million on catering every year, but there has been a wave of complaints about poor quality and malnutrition, especially from the elderly. The numbers of hospital patients becoming malnourished have doubled in three years to a record 13,500.

Around one in five trusts has reduced spending on food since 2004-05 – 36 out of 191 – according to figures analysed from NHS Information Centre data. At least 20 trusts spend less than £5 a day feeding each patient. The figures show St George’s Hospital, South London, spent least – just £1.04 on each meal or £3.11 a day – when it used to spend £6.67 a day.

But a spokesman disputed the 53 per cent drop, saying the figure covered only the costs to the catering department. When snacks, drinks, dietary supplements and late meal requests are included the figure is £6.80 a day, he said.

The biggest percentage drop in spending was 62 per cent over five years at the Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in West Sussex. The amount spent per day went down from £10.97 in 2004-05 to £4.11 last year. A spokesman said the cash only covered the cost of three main meals and a drink.

Roger Goss, co-director of Patient Concern, said the problem would only get worse as hospitals struggle to make efficiency savings. He said ‘Hospital food is a disaster. Each hospital is allowed to decide how much it spends but the Department of Health should set a minimum amount.’

A spokesman for the hospital nutrition charity, the British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, said it was outrageous that food was not a major priority. ‘Nutrition care in hospitals is about more than just the food quality, and not enough is being spent on it,’ she said. ‘Patients need to be treated as individuals and given help to eat the food put in front of them. We’re wasting money because of a failure to get these policies right.’

TV chef Loyd Grossman, who led a £40million revamp of NHS menus in 2000 that was shelved after he quit five years later, revealed last month that he was blocked by a ‘chronic lack of common sense’. The former presenter of BBC’s Masterchef, who was not paid for his involvement, said he was frustrated in his efforts to introduce healthy and tasty recipes.

The Daily Mail’s Dignity for the Elderly campaign has repeatedly highlighted abuses caused by underfeeding and poor nursing practice in hospitals and homes.

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘Hospitals make their own decisions about their food and, over time, the amount spent will differ between hospitals.’

A 2007 report from consumer organisation Which? found hospital food was so bad that one in four patients had to buy their own or get relatives to bring in meals.


BBC Promotes foul language

It is usually regarded as one of the last bastions of taste and decency at the BBC. But now Radio 3 is to air an adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights complete with foul language.

Romantic figures Heathcliff and Cathy will be heard using strong swear words in the station’s adaptation of one of literature’s most famous and tempestuous love stories.

It is understood the expletives are used in the heat of the moment as the two characters argue. But eyebrows have been raised at the decision to air the scenes at 8pm on Sunday night.

While radio does not have a 9pm watershed in the way that television does, stations are not supposed to broadcast unsuitable material when youngsters are likely to be listening.

Radio 3 has a low audience among young people, but there are concerns students who are studying the book could tune in to the adaptation without realising it has been given a more adult makeover.

The station was unable to provide a transcript showing the three occasions when swear words are used in the story, but said it did not affect any of the famous lines from the book.

Playwright and theatre director Jonathan Holloway defended the decision to use expletives in his reworking of the 1847 novel for the BBC. He told Radiotimes.com that the story would have shocked its readers when it was originally published.

Mr Holloway added: ‘For me Wuthering Heights is a story of violent obsession, and a tortuous unfulfilled relationship. This is not a Vaseline-lensed experience. ‘That’s what I wanted to elbow out, this idea that it’s the cosy greatest love story ever told. It’s not. ‘The f-words are part of my attempt to shift the production to left field, and to help capture the shock that was associated with the original book when it was published.’

A Radio 3 spokesman said: ‘The use of strong language by some characters in this production was not undertaken lightly. ‘Language warnings will be broadcast at the beginning of the drama.’


Disabled British man, 64, who died confronting yobs was a victim of ‘systematic’ police failure to protect him

The useless but politically correct plods again

A man with learning difficulties who collapsed and died after years of torment by children as young as five failed to receive proper support from police despite the abuse having been reported to them 88 times, a report found yesterday.

David Askew, 64, had been mercilessly picked on by generations of youths on the estate where he lived with his elderly mother, and last year a neighbour warned the local council one of them would die if the harassment didn’t stop.

Tragically, just three weeks later, Mr Askew suffered a fatal heart attack after going outside to chase away a gang who were throwing a wheelie bin around the garden and tampering with his mother’s mobility scooter.

Yesterday a report condemned police for their ‘total failure’ to link together the catalogue of calls made by the family and treat the abuse as a hate crime prompted by Mr Askew’s disability.

It also found CCTV cameras installed to catch the culprits were next-to-useless because the picture quality was too poor to recognise their faces – and even concluded Mr Askew had been treated as ‘part of the problem’ for giving the youths cigarettes to make them go away.

The appalling case followed the tragic case of Fiona Pilkington who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca, 18, in 2007 by setting fire to their car. She had made 33 calls over seven years to police reporting abuse by local yobs which had driven her to despair but was instead accused of ‘over-reacting’.

Mr Askew, nicknamed ‘Dopey Dave’ by neighbours for his mental age of about eight, had suffered abuse for more than a decade. Youths would call him names, throw stones, smash windows and kick the front door of the home in Hattersley, Greater Manchester he shared with his wheelchair-bound mother Rose, 89, and brother Bryan, now 63, who also has learning difficulties.

Yesterday’s report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed the family had called police 88 times to report abuse between 2004 and Mr Askew’s death last March. But while neighbourhood police teams worked tirelessly with the family to try to help, senior officers failed to link the incidents and treat the constant torment they were enduring as a high priority, it said.

The report also highlighted how none of the calls were logged as a possible ‘hate crime’, and officers took the ‘easier route’ of trying to change Mr Askew’ s behaviour instead of tackling his abusers.

‘The poor quality of footage produced by the CCTV system installed at the Askew family home and the lack of an intelligence record regarding the incidents also hampered attempts to detect and prosecute crime.

‘Antisocial behaviour is the type of low level crime that can pass beneath the radar of police,’ said IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik. ‘However for the families experiencing such crime it can be a horrific experience.’

She said Greater Manchester Police’s failure to prioritise the family in line with their vulnerability and to work with health teams and social workers ‘all led to incidents being dealt with locally and in isolation over a number of years’. ‘They were left with a sticking-plaster solution when the matter needed extensive surgery.’

Despite the hate campaign, only one person – 18-year-old Kial Cottingham – has ever been prosecuted over the harassment, although another youth was issued with an Asbo. Last September Cottingham was given 16 weeks’ detention, although he was not charged over Mr Askew’s death.

Also yesterday a serious case review by the local council highlighted how some of the children who tormented the family had been as young as five.

And it revealed the chilling warning made by a neighbour just three weeks before Mr Askew’s death. At a meeting to discuss the abuse, the resident predicted ‘if something wasn’t done there would be a death in the family’.

However it concluded that while agencies could have done more together to tackle the abuse, the tragedy might still not have been prevented.

No police officer is to face disciplinary action over the case, but Garry Shewan, Assistant Chief Constable of GMP, admitted the family had been failed. ‘We acknowledge we did not identify what happened to David as a disability hate crime, and that more should have been done at strategic and inter-agency level,’ he said.

However he pledged that new guidelines on how to treat vulnerable victims meant better support would be provided in future cases and said reports of antisocial behaviour across the force had dropped by a quarter over the last 12 months.

Coalition ministers have pledged to replace Labour’s discredited Asbo system with new measures including a ‘community trigger’ whereby police would have to act if at least five households raised a particular problem.

A Home Office spokesman said the failings highlighted by the reports into Mr Askew’s death showed ‘why we’re shaking up the whole system for dealing with anti-social behaviour, moving on from the Asbo culture and replacing it with powers that are easier to use, more effective and backed up by meaningful punishments’.


Children ‘should read 50 books a year’, says British education boss

I used to read 3 times that when I was a kid — JR

Children as young as 11 should be expected to read 50 books a year as part of a national drive to improve literacy standards, according to Michael Gove.

The Education Secretary said pupils should complete the equivalent of almost a novel a week because the academic demands placed on English schoolchildren have been “too low for too long”.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he said the vast majority of teenagers read just one or two books as part of their GCSEs, normally including John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

Mr Gove said all schools should “raise the bar” by requiring pupils to read large numbers of whole books at the end of primary school and throughout secondary education.

It follows the publication of a report in December showing that reading standards among British teenagers had slumped from 17th to 25th in a major international league table.

His latest comments came after a tour of high-performing “charter schools” – state-funded institutions that are run free of Government interference – in the United States.

One primary in a hugely deprived area of Harlem, New York, set pupils a “50 book challenge” over the course of a year and children also competed to read all seven Harry Potter books in the quickest possible time.

The Infinity School is currently ranked higher than any other in the city, even though more than 80 per cent of its mainly African American and Hispanic pupils are from poor families eligible for free and reduced lunches. It is among almost 100 schools run by the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), a charity established by two teachers in the mid-90s.

Speaking in the US, Mr Gove said: “KIPP have far higher expectations of their students than we have had. We, the Coalition Government, have attempted to raise the bar but, I think, haven’t been ambitious enough. “Recently, I asked to see what students were reading at GCSE and I discovered that something like 80 or 90 per cent were just reading one or two novels and overwhelmingly it was the case that it included Of Mice and Men.

“Here, kids at the end of primary school are being expected to read 50 books a year. I think we should, as a nation, be saying that our children should be reading 50 books a year, not just one or two for GCSE.”

A recently launched review of the National Curriculum is expected to specify the key authors children should study at each key stage of their education.

As an interim measure, Mr Gove said he wanted to ask leading children’s authors to set out the 50 books each child should learn. The results will then be posted on the Department for Education website, with schools urged to issue the 50 book challenge to pupils.

Mr Gove suggested that authors to be studied by pupils of all ages should include JK Rowling, CS Lewis, Philip Pullman, Kenneth Grahame, Rosemary Sutcliff, Alan Garner and Ursula Le Guin.

He added: “One of the biggest problems in the English state education system is that only a minority can follow an academic education and that only a minority can go to university. Quite wrong. “Our expectations have been too low for too long.

“The aspiration for someone to read 50 books a year isn’t from a school in the poshest part of Manhattan where they are all going to have bound copies of CS Lewis, this is a school where 83 per cent of the kids are on the equivalent of free school meals, but they still expect them to read 50 books a year.”


Merging Britain’s income tax and national insurance: “I am relieved to hear that chancellor George Osborne is considering merging income tax and national insurance, even if the changes are likely to be slow in coming. The division between these two direct taxes on income tax once (just about) justifiable on the contributory principle — that payment of certain amounts of national insurance made you eligible for certain benefits. That justification no longer holds to any great extent, and if the state pension is changed as planned it will evaporate altogether. The only remaining reason to keep income tax and national insurance separate is for political, presentational reasons: to stop people from cottoning on to just how much tax they are paying.”


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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