Number of emergency room patients waiting four hours or more jumps by 65% after target scrapped
The number of people waiting more than four hours in A&E has jumped 65 per cent since the Government scrapped the target, NHS figures show. Department of Health data on four-hour waits shows thousands more people waiting in A&E, walk-in centres and minor injury units in 2010 than in 2009.
Last June, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley relaxed a four-hour A&E target which has since been scrapped and replaced with a new set of quality indicators.
The data shows that, in the six months from July to December 2009, 176,522 people waited more than four hours, but this rose to 292,052 people from July to December 2010, a 65 per cent increase.
Of the total numbers arriving at A&E from July to September 2009, 1.27 per cent waited more than four hours, rising to 2.01 per cent in the same period in 2010. From October to December 2009, 2.16 per cent waited more than four hours, rising to 3.52 per cent in the same period in 2010.
The figures came as a report from the NHS Information Centre also showed rising waits between 2009 and 2010. It is based on a collection of data including the Government’s new set of quality indicators.
In 2010, patients typically spent 53 minutes from arriving at A&E to being treated, compared with 50 minutes in 2009, it said. The time from arriving in the department to being assessed was eight minutes, up from seven minutes in 2009. There were 15.9 million A&E visits recorded in 2010, 4.1 per cent more than 2009, the data showed.
NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: ‘Today’s report shows that patients spent a slightly longer time on average waiting to be assessed, treated and leaving from accident and emergency departments compared to the previous year. ‘Over the coming months, more data will be published for 2011, allowing people to see if the average patient journey time through A&E changes over time.’
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘Labour warned that downgrading patient guarantees would lead to NHS waiting times rising, and today’s figures show that that’s exactly what’s happening. ‘While the Tory-led Government goes ahead with its reckless reorganisation, standards in the NHS are starting to slip back. ‘This is not what patients expected when David Cameron promised to ‘protect’ the NHS.’
Thousands of doctors ‘banned from prescribing approved drugs by cost-cutting NHS managers’
GPs have been banned from prescribing approved high-cost drugs as NHS managers looks for ways to make budget cuts, according to a doctors’ magazine.
More than half of primary care organisations (PCOs) have brought in new blacklists of drugs that will not be funded on the NHS within the past year, according to an investigation by Pulse.
Primary care trusts and health boards are redrawing formularies in changes they estimate will slice £250 million from this year’s drug budget, the magazine for GPs said.
Pulse quizzed 134 PCOs under the Freedom of Information Act to reveal that more than half have blacklists – in some cases of more than 100 drugs – that GPs are banned from prescribing on the NHS.
It claimed that 73 PCOs said they had added drugs to blacklists or placed additional restrictions on prescribing in primary care in the past year, as they strive to make average estimated savings in 2011/12 of £1.9 million each.
Pulse said restrictions often cover drugs approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) or other national organisations, including gliptins for diabetes, denosumab for osteoporosis, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin – approved in some circumstances by the National Prescribing Centre.
Other drugs have been blacklisted on the basis of “low clinical priority”, including drugs for Parkinson’s disease, newer contraceptive pills, erectile dysfunction drugs, some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, weight-loss drug orlistat and homeopathic treatments, it was claimed.
The survey revealed that NHS Cambridgeshire has added 32 drugs in the last year to its “red list”, which now covers more than 100 drugs “that will not normally be funded for prescribing in primary care”.
In Wales, where prescriptions have been free since 2007, the Aneurin Bevan local health board in Torfaen is targeting nearly £5 million in savings this year, the website said.
NHS Milton Keynes said it intends to ‘levy a fine against each consultant-to-GP letter requesting the prescription of a non-formulary medicine’, Pulse claimed.
Duncan Outram, a GP in Alconbury, Cambridgeshire, told Pulse: ‘We have a duty to prescribe a cheaper alternative if all things are equal. But putting drugs on blacklists purely on cost grounds is indefensible.’
Richard Hoey, editor of Pulse, said: ‘Many of the drugs approved by Nice or other national bodies are not only cost-effective, but are likely to recoup some of the price of the drug in the long term by reducing rates of illness and cutting future costs of treatment. “These outright bans on prescribing drugs on the NHS are therefore not only damaging to the care of individual patients, but quite possibly a false economy.”
The migrants who commit 500 crimes a week but can’t be deported from Britain because they’re from the EU
European migrants are committing over 500 crimes a week in Britain, according to new figures – but officials are powerless to deport the majority of offenders. More than 54,000 EU citizens have been convicted of criminal offences – including murder – in the past two years.
And the worst offenders have been named as the Poles and Romanians – further fuelling concerns over the most recent EU expansions.
However because of the European Union’s rules on freedom of movement, only a handful of those offenders – those who have received a prison sentence of at least two years – can be deported.
The alarming figures published by the Daily Telegraph come following reports last week that the number of crimes committed by foreigners in the UK had virtually doubled in the past two years.
Police have also warned that the foreign offenders are adding pressure to their resources, often due to language barriers. One police leader said that even a simple caution could take six hours to issue to a foreigner who did not speak English.
A spokesperson from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said, ‘The growing number of new communities has certainly brought greater complexity to the pattern of crime and have contributed to already stretched resources. ‘As police, we have to adapt all the time to deal with new and emerging problems. However we pride ourselves on our strong relationships within our local communities and the way we deal with the issues that emerge.’
Under data exchange systems in the EU, police in the UK will notify another member state if one of its citizens is convicted of a crime. Figures from ACPO show that 27,056 such notifications were made in 2010 while the 2009 figures are slightly higher at 27.379. That is an average equivalent of 520 a week or 75 a day. Topping the list of worst offenders were Polish migrants, who were convicted of 6,777 crimes in 2010, followed by the Romanians at 4,343. Lithuania, Ireland and Latvia had the next highest rates.
The figures show that with the exception of Ireland, the worst offenders came from countries that only joined the EU recently. Poland, Latvia and Lithuania joined the EU on May 1 2004, while Romania followed on January 1 2007.
Details regarding the nature of offences committed or sentences given have not been released.
The Home Office told the Telegraph it was ‘committed to removing foreign lawbreakers from the UK’. ‘We removed 5,235 foreign national prisoners in 2010,’ a spokesman said.
David Cameron has previously promised to tackle the issue. In a speech he made before becoming Prime Minister he promised to introduce powers to deport more foreign criminals.
However many are still allowed to remain in the UK such as Learco Chindamo, the Italian killer of headmaster Philip Lawrence, who was charged with robbery months after being released from prison for the crime. Chindamo had avoided being sent home to Italy after successfully arguing that deportation would infringe his human rights.
Failed by the system: 25 abused children die under the noses of British social workers
They’re too busy harassing middle class families for imaginary offences
Twenty-five children have died and dozens more been seriously injured despite being known to social services, an Ofsted report reveals.
Vulnerable youngsters are let down in ‘too many’ cases by professionals who fail to listen to the concerns of grandparents, neighbours and even fathers, it says. In four of the cases, grandparents reported concerns but this did not lead to effective action.
Local authorities and other agencies failed to learn lessons from the Baby P scandal, the report shows. He was found dead, aged 17 months, in a blood-splattered cot having suffered a broken back and fractured ribs in August 2007.
Ofsted assessed 67 serious case reviews (SCRs) between April 1 and September 30 last year involving 93 children. Thirty-nine had died. SCRs, carried out by safeguarding boards, are triggered after a death or serious injury, where abuse or neglect is suspected. They can come as much as two years after an incident.
Of the 93 children, 70 were known to social services. Twenty-five of these died, including four who were subject to active child protection plans.
Ofsted warned that too often the focus on the child was ‘lost’ as they were not seen by the professionals involved or not visited regularly enough. In some cases, the child was seen but not questioned and there was often an ‘over reliance’ on what the parents claimed.
In a case involving a family of seven children, a grandmother had repeatedly contacted social carers alleging sexual and physical abuse of her grandchildren by their stepfather. Ofsted said that this failed to trigger child protection procedures. It was not until more than a decade later that disclosures were made by the eldest children, revealing the abuse that had taken place.
A tendency by agencies to overlook the role of fathers, male partners and other men living within families was also a ‘common theme’, the report said.
Referring to one case, it added: ‘One of the children, living with the mother, was sexually abused by the mother’s partner. ‘The father passed information many times to children’s services and to the police that the mother’s partner was a registered sex offender and had unrestricted access to the children.’ The SCR found that although steps were taken to ‘monitor or restrict access’, the father was ‘not properly listened to’.
The watchdog said that warning signs were also ignored when parents and carers refused access to their homes.
It added: ‘A lesson from some of the SRCs was that practitioners had not listened sufficiently to the child or had not paid enough attention to their needs. ‘They had focused too much on the parents, especially when the parents were vulnerable.’
It highlighted a case where a baby suffered skull fractures even though the family was known to agencies due to the mother’s alcohol abuse. Meanwhile, signs of grooming by a sex offender and the ‘significance of domestic violence’ were sometimes ‘overlooked’.
A teenager had been the subject of internet images in which she was sexually assaulted. She and her brother had been ill-treated by their mother and sexually abused by their uncle. The family was known to agencies in three local authorities where they had lived and there had been ‘sufficient information’ for the abuse to be recognised.
Christine Gilbert, Ofsted’s chief inspector of schools, said: ‘It’s shocking to see that too often children in vulnerable situations are not heard by those who should be looking out for their interests.’
Don’t blame Oxford. The real racists are the hand-wringing liberals who expect black pupils to fail
By Lindsay Johns
Filled with self-righteous indignation, the Prime Minister has launched a scathing attack on the apparent racism of Oxford’s admissions policy. Claiming that just one black British student was given an undergraduate place for 2009, David Cameron described the university’s approach as ‘disgraceful’ and said it ‘had to do better’.
This idea of Oxford as a hotbed of racial bigotry has become part of the fashionable consensus in political circles, with such sentiments common in all three major parties.
Yesterday, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who has taken to posing as the champion of social mobility, expressed his full support for the Prime Minister, saying this verbal assault had been ‘absolutely right’.
Cameron’s speech also echoed the views of the black former Labour Education Minister David Lammy, who last December wrote of Oxford’s ‘shocking’ reluctance to admit more black students. The dons, Lammy argued, ‘should be ashamed’ for ‘entrenching inequality’ in modern Britain. According to the fulminations of the politicians, the city of dreaming spires has become the place of broken dreams for successive generations of young British black students.
As a black Oxford graduate of part-African heritage, I might be expected to welcome this condemnation of supposed prejudice within the cloisters of the ancient university.
Certainly, I loathe any form of exclusion based on narrow-minded racism. And I am passionate about the need to help black pupils realise their full academic potential, including, for the brightest, gaining admission to one of the world’s great seats of learning.
But the theory, propounded by the likes of Cameron, Clegg and Lammy, that the small number of black students at Oxford is entirely the result of crude racial discrimination is absurd. The real fault lies not with the admissions tutors of the university, but with the gross inadequacy of our modern school system — which has dumbed down standards and imposed a culture of low expectations.
The true culprit is the disastrous poverty of aspiration which brands young black people as good for nothing except rap and sport.
Indeed, as a mentor of black teenagers in inner London, I think this slew of recent attacks on Oxford has been grossly irresponsible. Such outbursts might play well in the trendy liberal salons of the metropolitan elite, whose members love to see themselves as the heroic guardians of the oppressed.
But in the real world, this over-blown rhetoric will do nothing to achieve genuine equality. For a start, the figures quoted by Cameron and Lammy are misleading. Yes, only one applicant of Caribbean origin was admitted last year, but this ignores the fact that 40 other black students, of African or mixed heritage, were given places. And in total, almost 20 per cent of Oxford’s student population is from ethnic minorities — hardly an indicator of rampant prejudice.
Moreover, black pupils tend to apply in the most over-subscribed three subjects: medicine, law and English literature, where there is ferocious competition for places. Last year, 44 per cent of black applicants tried for these three subjects — compared with 17 per cent of white applicants. It is therefore inevitable that, proportionately, more of them will be disappointed.
In addition, the denunciations from the Prime Minister ignore all the outreach work — such as open days and school visits — that Oxford undertakes to increase the number of black applicants.
Ultimately, however, admissions tutors are not miracle workers. They cannot give out places to those who do not apply, and the truth is that far too many young black pupils, who are just as intelligent as any white ones, are not encouraged to think of Oxbridge because of the anti-elitist, self-defeating mindset that prevails in too many state schools, especially in our inner cities.
This brings us to the most worrying aspect of Cameron’s speech. Far from advancing a greater racial balance at Oxford, his remarks could prove counter-productive because they send out a negative message that might put black pupils off from even applying in the first place. Such comments feed into the depressing cliche of black victimhood, whereby teenagers are urged to believe that racism in Britain is so endemic that they will never be able to break free from their backgrounds. The shrill emphasis on alleged prejudice means that black failure can become a self-fulfilling prophecy — and an excuse for low standards.
Oxford is not a nest of racial hostility — as David Cameron should well know from his own days as an undergraduate. Indeed, I found my time as a student at Lincoln College in the mid-Nineties both intellectually stimulating and personally liberating.
I was in the heart of a wonderful city dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. It was a bastion of learning, not discrimination. The lecturers were driven by intellectual inquiry, so they wanted to work with the best students. Race did not come into it.
My devotion to the university meant that, while I was an undergraduate, I served as a volunteer in an access scheme to encourage more applications from ethnic minorities and, ever since, I have strived to give others the chance of enjoying the same enriching experience I had.
One of the ways I do that is through a mentoring scheme in the deprived district of Peckham in South London for 14 to 18-year-olds, a few miles from the private school in Croydon I was lucky enough to attend. Unlike so many inner-city schools which tolerate the shallow, hip-hop culture in the name of ‘anti-racism’, this programme is based on rigorous discipline, tough intellectual challenges and a refusal to accept ghetto stereotypes.
Outside school hours, we teach Shakespeare, hold a weekly vocabulary seminar and demand proper grammar rather than street vernacular. Neither do we allow the wearing of hoods and baseball caps. And contrary to the message of despair that Cameron conveys, we have had many successes.
Two of our former pupils have won places at fine universities — Warwick and Sussex — to read politics, while one girl has just been awarded a scholarship for a sixth-form place at the renowned independent school of Westminster.
What I have learnt, in my mentoring role, is that the greatest obstacle to advancement is the outlook of our state schools, which fail to challenge black pupils or instil in them an enthusiasm for learning. Instead they indulge in a form of intellectual sabotage. Everything has to be made ‘relevant’ to the lives of young black students.
So English literature is ignored and proper grammar avoided. Real narrative history is replaced by politically correct topic work.
The tolerance of failure I’ve witnessed amounts to an immense betrayal of successive generations of black pupils, who are denied the chance of a brilliant education through inadequate schooling
Teachers terrified of undermining pupils’ self-esteem ignore mistakes in their work that would never be accepted at a good university, poor behaviour goes unpunished and praise is lavished indiscriminately.
Remorseless grade inflation in public exams has assisted in the destructive process, too, both by creating the illusion of progress to mask declining standards and by making it impossible for universities to pick out the truly bright pupils.
When so many university applicants get top grades, it is often the private school-educated children who are able to offer so much more than just academic excellence.
The tolerance of failure I’ve witnessed amounts to an immense betrayal of successive generations of black pupils, who are denied the chance of a brilliant tertiary education through inadequate schooling.
Racism is far less a problem in Britain than it was 30 years ago. But this doesn’t appear to be the case when it comes to education — not in the way David Cameron thinks, though.
The real racists are often those hand-wringing liberals who pander to stereotypes — and judge people by the colour of the skin rather than their characters or their minds.
The problem isn’t Oxford, and the university should not be used as an instrument of social engineering to satisfy political whims. A genuine meritocracy in Britain will be built only when we radically reform our schools.
Now Clegg is attacking Oxbridge
Nick Clegg stepped up the Government’s attacks on elite universities tonight accusing Oxford and Cambridge of being biased against poor students.
The Deputy Prime Minister brushed off a furious response from academics over David Cameron’s claim this week that Oxford has a ‘disgraceful’ record on admitting black youngsters. Instead, Mr Clegg upped the ante, condemning both Oxford and Cambridge, where he was a student, for failing to accept significant numbers of students from the poorest homes.
The Cambridge educated Deputy Prime Minister said only 40 students from families which qualify for free school meals, meaning their income is around £16,000 or less, qualified for Oxbridge last year. He told universities they would have to do ‘a lot more’ to admit students from poorer and minority backgrounds if they wanted to charge tuition fees of £9,000 a year.
‘I think the wider point that the Prime Minister was making is absolutely right,’ Mr Clegg said. ‘One of the objectives behind our controversial reforms in the funding of universities is we’re saying to universities, “look, if you want to charge graduates more money for having the benefit of going to university, you’re going to have to do a lot, lot more to get under-represented youngsters from poor backgrounds, from black, minority ethnic backgrounds into your university”.
‘And here’s a fact: last year, only 40 – four zero – children who had been on free school meals – in other words from the more disadvantaged families in this country – got into either Oxford or Cambridge, and that was a lower number than the year before.
‘So we do need to make real efforts to say to universities, if you want to continue to get support from the taxpayer to educate our young people, you’ve got to make sure that British society is better reflected in the people you take into the university in the first place.’
Mr Clegg’s remarks risk further inflaming the Government’s row with Oxford over admissions following Mr Cameron’s intervention on Monday.
The president of Trinity College, Oxford, launched a counter-attack on the Oxford-educated Prime Minister, warning that his ‘ill-informed’ comments could deter black students from applying to Oxford in future. Sir Ivor Roberts said: ‘I thought it was an extraordinarily misguided comment. ‘It seems to be based on zero understanding of what’s actually happening in the real world. ‘It’s unhelpful to have inaccurate, misleading information out in the public domain because I think it does act as a depressant and discourager for just the sort of people we are trying to attract.
‘If you are told by a public official like the Prime Minister that your chances of getting in are zero or virtually zero, you would be rather put off applying. ‘It makes our job harder in terms of encouraging people from ethnic minority backgrounds and I think ill-informed comments like those smack of trying to force a political agenda when a little more careful thought and attention to the facts and the context would be wiser.’
Sir Ivor said he agreed with those who argue that the problem rests not with university admissions policies, but with state schools not providing a good enough education for pupils. He said: ‘That seems to be exactly right. The education in our schools is where we let people down. ‘You can’t socially engineer places for people. I think there’s an element of teachers in schools discouraging people from minority backgrounds (from applying) and that compounds the whole problem.
‘Of course it’s highly competitive, but if you want to get to the best university you have to be prepared to throw your hat into the ring.’
Tony Spence, president of Magdalen College when Gordon Brown publicly attacked dons for rejecting Laura Spence, a would-be medical student from a Tyneside comprehensive school, expressed dismay that Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg had followed suit. ‘The criticism of Oxbridge admission used to come exclusively from the left, but now, as we see, it comes from the right and the centre too,’ he said.
‘National educational policy for the last 40 years has dug an ever wider ditch through the level playing field of university admissions, across which the underprivileged have to try ever harder to jump.’
Thomas Cole, 18, a first year history undergraduate at University College, Oxford, who is of mixed white/Afro-Caribbean race, agreed Mr Cameron’s comments were ‘fairly unhelpful’. He said: ‘Even though there aren’t that many ethnic minority students, I don’t think it’s because the university is discriminatory. I would rather have a university that picks on merit rather than race.
‘His comments give a negative perception of Oxford and from everything I’ve seen they’re doing a lot of access work to get students from ethnic minorities in.’
But Labour MP David Lammy, one of Britain’s first black ministers, said: ‘Of course it’s a disgrace that there are over 400 young black children in the country getting straight As and they’re not making their way to Oxford, but this isn’t just about race. ‘There are whole cities in Britain – Barnsley, Middlesbrough, Rochdale, Stoke, Hartlepool – where there are not young people making their way to this university.
‘All of us pay our taxes, and Oxford and Cambridge receive around £560 million worth of British taxpayers’ money and yet there are more young people from the London borough of Richmond going than the entire city of Birmingham.
‘Why is it that Oxford is doing outreach events at Eton, nine outreach events in Eton last year? Why is it that they are doing 12 at Marlborough College? That’s why these young people from working class backgrounds, often black backgrounds and in terms of geography particularly from the North of England are not making their way to this university. The Prime Minister is right.’
Warmists lose; skeptic wins
I wasn’t going to crow, really I wasn’t. But I’m afraid I can’t resist, especially since it’s my last blog post for a while and this is an event of some significance. I’m talking about the Press Complaints Commission’s ruling on a complaint brought against this blog by our old friends at the University of East Anglia. They lost. We won. (And I do mean we: I’m hugely grateful to my legal advisers, as well as to experts including Steve McIntyre, Andrew Montford, Richard North and Christopher Booker.)
Because I’m about to dash off to Devon for some vital surfing R & R, I’ve only time to sketch in why this matters so much. Basically the UEA were trying to use the PCC as a way of gagging this blog from speaking unpalatable truths about the shoddy goings-on in its notorious Climatic Research Unit.
To its enormous credit the PCC stuck up for fair comment and freedom of speech. This is a massive victory not just for me and Telegraph blogs, but for bloggers everywhere – especially those doughty souls around the world who are battling against Establishment lies, bullying and cover ups to try to reveal the truth about the corrupt, mendacious Climate Change industry.
If it sounds like I’m overdoing it, consider this: the PCC’s ruling must be among the first by any quasi-official body anywhere in the world to take the side of a Climate Change sceptic rather than that of the Warmist establishment. This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Now that ruling in full:
Commission’s decision in the case of
University of East Anglia v The Daily Telegraph
The complainants, acting on behalf of the University of East Anglia (UEA), complained that three blog posts by James Delingpole were inaccurate and misleading and contained distorted information in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code. In particular, the complainants were concerned that the blog posts described Professor Phil Jones as “disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing”. They explained that Professor Phil Jones had been exonerated of any dishonesty or scientific malpractice by a series of reviews. They were concerned that a second blog post repeated accusations that had been demonstrated as untrue, concluding that the University’s scientists were “untrustworthy, unreliable and entirely unfit to write the kind of reports on which governments around the world make their economic and environmental decisions”, and a third blog post referred to the scientists’ work as “shoddy” and “mendacious”.
The Commission emphasised that the articles in question were blog posts and were clearly identifiable as such to readers generally, as they were posited in the ‘Telegraph Blogs’ section of the website and written under the columnist’s prominent by-line. The Commission was satisfied that readers would be aware that the comments therein represented the columnist’s own robust views of the matters in question. Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code permits the publication of such comment provided it is clearly distinguished from fact and does not contain significantly inaccurate, misleading or distorted information. The Commission has previously ruled [North v The Guardian] that “In the realm of blogging (especially in cases touching upon controversial topics such as climate change), there is likely to be strong and fervent disagreement, with writers making use of emotive terms and strident rhetoric. This is a necessary consequence of free speech. The Commission felt that it should be slow to intervene in this, unless there is evidence of factual inaccuracy or misleading statement.”
Through its correspondence the newspaper had provided some evidence in support of the statements under dispute, and the columnist had included some of this evidence in the second blog post under discussion. In relation to the columnist’s description of Professor Jones as “FOI-breaching, email-deleting”, the newspaper had provided extracts from an email from Professor Jones in which he had written “If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone”, and another email in which he had written “Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?”. With respect to the columnist’s assertion that Professor Jones was “scientific method-abusing”, the newspaper had provided an extract from an email from Professor Jones in which he had written “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline”. In view of this, the Commission considered that there were some grounds for the columnist’s opinion – which readers would recognise was subjective – on these points.
The complainants emphasised that Professor Phil Jones and the other scientists discussed in the blog post had been cleared by a number of independent reviews. The Commission noted that the columnist had referred to these reviews, and that readers would therefore have been aware that they had taken place. In the first blog post complained of the columnist had referred to “unconvincing attempts to clear the Climategate scientists”, and noted that one scientist, Mike Hulme, had “managed to emerge from the Climategate scandal smelling of violets”. He had also noted in the first blog post that Professor Jones had granted interviews “presenting himself as a man far more sinned against than sinning”. The columnist in the second blog post complained of had expanded on his comments and made clear that the scientists had “apparently… been ‘exonerated and cleared of all malpractice by a series of independent reviews’”, although he made clear that he did not consider these reviews to have been “independent”, citing a report by Andrew Montford which was critical of the reviews. While the complainants had expressed concern that the Montford report was “partisan”, the Commission considered that the columnist was entitled to agree with the report.
The Commission was satisfied that readers would be aware of the context of the columnist’s robust views – clearly recognisable as his subjective opinion – that the scientists were “untrustworthy, unreliable and entirely unfit to write the kind of reports on which governments around the world make their economic and environmental decisions”, and that their work was “shoddy” and “mendacious”. In the circumstances, it did not consider that there had been a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code.
The Commission noted that the newspaper had offered the complainants an opportunity to respond on the blog post. It considered that this would inform readers of the full context of the dispute and the complainants’ position. The Commission welcomed this offer, and hoped it would remain open to the complainants.
Rare fish saved from “anticipated” warming
One wishes the fish well and the new caution in that word “anticipated” is welcome too. I guess even the Brits have noticed that their winters are in fact colder than they were
The endangered vendace, that has been in Britain since the Ice Age, is in danger of dying out as lakes and rivers warm up because of man made global warming.
To ensure the species survival, the UK’s environmental watchdog took eggs from Derwentwater in Cumbria, thought to be the only remaining site where the fish are found in England and Wales. They then took 25,000 young fish from the hatchery to a cooler lake higher up the mountains of the Lake District, Sprinkler Tarn, to establish a new ‘refuge’ population that is more likely to survive warming temperatures.
Because the route to the lake is so rocky and uneven, it was impossible to use conventional transport like a 4×4 motorbike or landrover. So, the fish were given a ride during part of the two-hour trek by sure-footed llamas from a local charity. The journey was finished by fisheries officers on foot to ensure none of the smarts were spilt.
Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said British species have to be protected from climate change. “In addition to the anticipated warming of lakes and rivers, we may also see an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.
“All of these could have an impact on much of the native wildlife in England, especially aquatic species such as the rare and specialised vendace, so we are taking action now to conserve the existing populations.”
Andy Gowans, fisheries technical specialist for the Environment Agency, said the fish are now safe from global warming. “By introducing these vendace into Sprinkling Tarn, where water temperatures will be lower, it will provide an additional element of safeguarding for this endangered species,” he said. “The fish will be closely monitored, in the hope that a self-sustaining population will be established.”
There is a more comprehensive article on the matter here in which bets are also hedged
Tea tree honey ‘could fight MRSA’
This appears to be a study in laboratory glassware only but it is supported by extensive anecdotal evidence so one hopes that proper trials will begin soon
Smearing an exotic type of honey on wounds could help protect against bacterial infections including MRSA, scientists believe. A laboratory study has found that manuka honey can stop bacteria from establishing themselves on tissue.
Manuka honey is from bees which have collected nectar from manuka trees – better known as tea trees – in New Zealand and Australia. Tea tree oil has long been feted for its anti-bacterial properties.
However, scientists at Cardiff University say that the honey could also be a useful “topical agent”. Prof Rose Cooper, of its Centre for Biological Sciences, said: “Our findings with streptococci and pseudomonads [bacteria] suggest that manuka honey can hamper the attachment of bacteria to tissues which is an essential step in the initiation of acute infections.
“Inhibiting attachment also blocks the formation of biofilms, which can protect bacteria from antibiotics and allow them to cause persistent infections.”
She added: “Other work in our lab has shown that honey can make MRSA more sensitive to antibiotics such as oxacillin – effectively reversing antibiotic resistance. “This indicates that existing antibiotics may be more effective against drug-resistant infections if used in combination with manuka honey.”
Putting the honey on wounds could be a novel and economic way of reducing infections, she suggested. “The use of a topical agent to eradicate bacteria from wounds is potentially cheaper and may well improve antibiotic therapy in the future.”