NHS desk worker gets £37k Porsche Boxster sports car funded by the taxpayer

Dozens of NHS desk workers are driving top-of-the-range rental cars that are funded by the taxpayer, it emerged today.

Strategic Health Authorities around the country have spent a staggering £1,000,000 every year since 2007 on the luxury cars. They included a Jaguar XF, Mercedes CLS, Audi A5 Coupe and BMW 330 for staff who needed the vehicles to get around. Shockingly, one ‘pen pusher’ was allowed to hire a £37,000 Porshe Boxster – costing taxpayers thousands of pounds.

The details emerged as the NHS faces biting cuts around the country, with many patients complaining of appalling care.

One SHA, Yorkshire and the Humber, splashed out £400,000 a year on 95 luxury motors, according to The Sun.

The worker who was handed a Porsche is employed by the second biggest spender, North West, which pays £4,500 towards each manager’s annual rental costs. The figure amounts to £120,000 a year.

Across the country, the total bill for England’s ten SHAs since 2007 came to £2,995,181. The figure amounts to almost £1,000,000 a year.

Spending on bureaucracy has soared 50 per cent since Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in 2007. But spending on cancer has increased by just 30 per cent.

Tory MP and Health Select Committee member Chris Skidmore said that taxpayers would be ‘angry they’re funding luxury cars’. London is the only authority that does not allow managers to rent cars.

The Conservatives have vowed to ‘root out’ NHS waste but critics have complained that their cost-cutting could lead to a privatisation of the health service.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said in the past that primary care trusts and strategic health authorities which cover a range of NHS trusts and supervise local NHS services are exerting too much control. Under Tory reforms, primary care trusts will not be scrapped immediately, but will be phased out as power is passed to doctors.

Mr Lansley will point to the joint Tory-Lib Dem document which states: ‘We will strengthen the power of GPs as patients’ expert guides through the health system by enabling them to commission care on their behalf.’

SOURCE

Six-figure pay deals given to 700 British head teachers

Hundreds of head teachers are being awarded inflated six-figure pay deals, it was disclosed yesterday. Figures were released showing that 700 heads or deputy heads in state schools earn more than £100,000, including 200 paid more than £110,000.

The NASUWT union called for individual heads’ salaries to be published to stop pay being “abused”, putting them under the same scrutiny as council chief executives and quango bosses.

The number of senior teachers on six-figure pay is likely to be much higher because hundreds of schools failed to disclose proper salary details.

Data released by the Department for Education showed that 500 senior teachers will earn between £100,000 and £109,999 in the current academic year, including 100 heads and deputies in academies. A further 200 heads earn more than £110,000.

The figures show teachers’ pay from last November. John Howson, of Education Data Surveys, a research firm, said the highest salaries were likely to have increased in the past 12 months. This was the first time that the figures have been published in this form.

The GMB union has claimed as many as 100 state school heads earn more than David Cameron’s salary of £147,000.

Last year, it was disclosed that Mark Elms, head of Tidemill Primary School in south east London, was given a remuneration package of £276,523 for 2009-10, which included fees for helping other schools. Another head, Jacqui Valin, from Southfields Community College in south-west London, received a £20,594 pay rise in 2009-10 to take her salary to £198,406.

The NASUWT said schools were by-passing rules on pay by rebranding senior staff as “executive heads” or letting them take jobs as consultants.

It also claimed that academies, which are free of council control, were awarding huge salaries because they were not bound by national pay deals.

At the NASUWT annual conference in Glasgow, Chris Keates, its general secretary, said: “We’ve heard of head teachers taking schools to academy conversion, calling themselves executive heads and saying they should get more pay,” she said. “There’s no rationale about it.”

SOURCE

Can’t read or write English? You could still serve on a jury under new rules designed to help immigrants

Jurors who cannot read English are being invited to decide the outcome of criminal trials. Inability to understand the written language is no bar to serving on a jury, officials said. Even those who cannot easily understand the spoken word could be asked to sit in judgment on those accused of crime.

The opening of juries to people with limited English was confirmed by the new agency set up to run the court system, HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

The 200,000 people a year called for jury service are now all summoned with letters printed in seven languages as well as English to ‘encourage’ non-English speakers, it said.

The agency, part of Lord Chancellor Kenneth Clarke’s Ministry of Justice, said the ‘language addendum’ sent out with each jury summons ‘is aimed at people who cannot read English very well but can speak English so would be able to serve on a jury’.

Criminologists and MPs said yesterday that they were worried about inclusion of those with poor English on juries.

Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Clacton, said: ‘The jury system is founded on the idea that we are all tried by our peers. If your peers cannot speak English, or read or write it properly, how can you have confidence you will get justice?’

He added: ‘Ministers in successive governments have stated that they are going to curb the effects of multiculturalism, but the bureaucrats keep on putting forms and documents into dozens of languages.’

Dr David Green, of the Civitas think-tank, said: ‘If you can’t even read the letter summoning you for jury service, you are not fit to be a juror.’

The Courts and Tribunals Service said multi-language summonses were introduced two years ago. One reason was that they allow those who do not read English to avoid the risk of being prosecuted for failing to reply. Ignoring a summons can bring a £1,000 fine.

A spokesman said: ‘HMCTS is committed to encouraging the widest possible participation by the public. The language addendum was introduced in 2009 to ensure no juror is disadvantaged by information being provided only in English and Welsh.

‘The concern was that members of the public were being summoned for jury service where potentially they may not understand what was being asked of them and that they needed to complete the summons.’

He continued: ‘The addendum is available in seven languages and is aimed at people who cannot read English very well but can speak English so would be able to serve on a jury.

‘It also encourages jurors with questions or difficulties completing the reply to contact the summoning bureau, which would decide whether the person was capable of serving as a juror.’

The spokesman added: ‘If a juror attends court and there is a doubt about their capacity to act effectively due to insufficient understanding of English, the matter will be brought to the attention of the trial judge who could excuse them. In more complex cases, such as fraud cases, where jurors may be expected to read documents as part of the evidence, an assessment of whether the juror can serve on that trial will be made at court with judicial input.’

The languages on the addendum are Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati, Polish, Cantonese, and Arabic. In Wales jurors are also sent information in Welsh.

Dr Green, of Civitas, added: ‘A distinction is being drawn between speaking and reading English and I question that. It is very rare to have a case in which there is no reading at all.

‘Jury trial involves serious accusations and the possibility of serious punishment. The whole paraphernalia of the trial, including the high standards demanded of the lawyers, is designed to ensure justice. The same rigour ought to apply to the selection of the jury.’

SOURCE

35 radicals trained for terrorism at British mosques, Guantanamo files reveal

Britain’s mosques became an international haven for extremists who enjoyed state benefits while being trained for terrorism, leaked documents show. The WikiLeaks files, written by U.S. military chiefs, reveal that at least 35 Guantanamo terrorists were radicalised in London mosques before being sent to fight against the West. This is believed to be more than any other Western country.

Of these, just 17 were British nationals or had been granted asylum, while 18 had travelled from abroad – cementing Britain’s reputation as a global training camp for terrorists.

U.S. intelligence officers describe Finsbury Park mosque, in North London, as a ‘haven for Islamic extremists from Morocco and Algeria’ and ‘an attack planning and propaganda production base’.

After their UK trip they were then flown to Pakistan and Afghanistan where they were taught to fight and make bombs. The leaked documents also show that an Al Qaeda ‘assassin’ accused of bombing two churches and a luxury hotel in Pakistan was at the same time working for MI6.

Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili was captured in 2003 and sent to Guantanamo Bay where interrogators were convinced that he was an informer for British intelligence.

U.S. intelligence reports describe the 35-year-old Algerian citizen as a ‘facilitator, courier, kidnapper, and assassin for Al Qaeda’. CIA interrogators found him ‘to have withheld important information from …British Secret Intelligence Service … and to be a threat to U.S. and allied personnel in Afghanistan and Pakistan’.

He has been returned to Algeria but it is not clear whether he will stand trial there.

The WikiLeaks documents, published by the Daily Telegraph, also reveal that 16 detainees sent back to Britain were regarded as ‘high risk’ by the U.S. authorities and capable of plotting acts of terror.

Yet each has been paid £1million of public money by the Government to compensate them for their unlawful detention.

The documents point to the crucial role played by London-based preachers such as Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza in the suspected indoctrination of extremists, before they were dispatched around the world to plot terror attacks. They describe Qatada as ‘the most successful recruiter in Europe’ and ‘a focal point for extremist fundraising [and] recruitment’.

Despite this, the London cleric and Al Qaeda’s chief European agent was paid £2,500 for being ‘unlawfully detained’ by the British Government, after being held indefinitely without trial following 9/11.

A ruling found that keeping him in Belmarsh prison, while he refused to return to his native Jordan, breached his human right to a fair trial. The Government is trying to deport him to Jordan, where he has been sentenced to jail in his absence on terror charges.

Meanwhile Hamza is named as encouraging ‘his followers to murder non-Muslims’, in the documents, and yet continues to fight deportation to the U.S. because of Europe’s liberal human rights laws.

Extradition proceedings began six years ago, but he appealed to Strasbourg on the grounds that this would breach his human right to a fair trial because he would be given an ‘excessive’ sentence. The taxpayer continues to fund his stay in Belmarsh prison while his wife and eight children are claiming £680 a week in benefits and living in a council home in West London.

Three other mosques and an Islamic centre are also highlighted by senior commanders as places where young Muslim men were turned into potential terrorists.

Many obtained EU passports from other European countries such as France, but then travelled on to Britain to take advantage of the generous asylum system. The leaks help explain why U.S. intelligence services regard extremists in Britain as the greatest threat to American security.

The CIA is still so concerned about militant recruitment in the UK that it operates its own intelligence network and recruits its own agents among the Muslim population in Britain.

In a statement, the Pentagon said: ‘The previous and current administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and diligence in transferring detainees from Guantanamo.’

SOURCE

Teenagers dressed as Easter bunnies turned away from zoo over fears they would cause animals ‘psychological damage’

People-hating British bureaucrats at work again. Do anything non-routine and they pounce

A group of teenagers dressed as Easter bunnies were turned away from a zoo – amid fears they would ‘psychologically damage’ the animals. Cancer-sufferer Laura Gibson, 15, and her friends were told to change out of their costumes before entry into Edinburgh Zoo in case they upset the creatures.

The trip had been planned as a special treat for the teen, who was joined by friends Hannah, Kirsty and Becki Nicholson and her brother Cameron, who was dressed as a chicken. But a Zoo employee told the group of four bunnies and a spring chicken that animals can get scared of people dressing up.

Miss Gibson, from the Scottish capital, wrote on her blog: ‘Arrived at the zoo and went to the ticket desk where the manager said we weren’t allowed in due to our inappropriate attire that would scare and upset the animals and cause them “psychological damage”. OH PUH-LEASE. ‘There are people with face paint and masks and we weren’t allowed in wearing bunny costumes.’

Kirsty Nicolson said her mother had made the outfits and the youngsters were miserable when they were told they could not wear them into the zoo.

She said: ‘We had planned this as a special treat for Laura. What is so scary about bunnies?’
Psychologically damaging: A spokesman from Edinburgh Zoo said: ‘There is very real evidence that humans in costume can cause distress to some of the zoo animals. This is particularly the case with our chimpanzees.’

Psychologically damaging: A spokesman from Edinburgh Zoo said: ‘There is very real evidence that humans in costume can cause distress to some of the zoo animals. This is particularly the case with our chimpanzees.’

Miss Gibson, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March and is being treated at city’s Sick Kids Hospital, and the rest of the group went bowling in their costumes instead.

Zoo PR manager Rachel Goddard said: ‘Laura and her friends weren’t denied access, simply asked to remove costumes before going in.

‘There is very real evidence that humans in costume can cause distress to some of the zoo animals.

‘This is particularly the case with our chimpanzees, who get very anxious and disturbed.

‘When we have our own costumed characters on-site, we ensure they’re away from the animal enclosures.’

SOURCE

From breast cancer to obesity, how your genes count more than your lifestyle

A rare nod to reality below

Researchers recently discovered that the age at which a girl starts having periods is mainly influenced by when her mother started menstruating.

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research at the University of London discovered there was a 57 per cent likelihood a girl would begin menstruating within three months of the date her mother started. It had been thought that diet, particularly eating a lot of meat, played a greater role than genes.
Scientists found there was a 57 per cent likelihood a girl would begin menstruating within three months of the date her mother started

Scientists found there was a 57 per cent likelihood a girl would begin menstruating within three months of the date her mother started

So what other aspects of a girl’s health are controlled by genetics? Could determining a woman’s health prospects be as simple as checking her mother’s medical records?

We asked leading experts how likely you are to inherit your mother’s body, mind and health.

MIGRAINES

GENETIC LINK: 70 to 80 per cent risk you’ll inherit them from your mother, says Dr Kate Henry, associate professor of neurology at New York University.

WHAT’S PASSED ON? Researchers recently discovered a flawed gene, called tresk, could cause migraines. If this gene doesn’t work properly, environmental factors (such as noise, cheese and caffeine) can more easily trigger pain centres in the brain that cause migraines. When the defective gene in migraine patients was under-active it caused a severe headache.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? ‘Triggers can be unpredictable, but identifying them will help to control your condition,’ says Demelza Burn of Migraine Action.

Many migraine sufferers are sensitive to foods such as chocolate, coffee, cheese, citrus and red wine. Hormones can also play a role — the rise and fall of oestrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle can cause migraines.

BREAST CANCER

GENETIC LINK: 3 per cent of UK breast cancer cases are inherited.

WHAT’S PASSED ON? ‘Women who are carriers of the mutated gene BRCA1 or BRCA2 are more likely to inherit the condition,’ says Jackie Harris, a clinical nurse specialist for Breast Cancer Care. ‘If a blood relative — male or female — had breast cancer at an early age, you are more at risk.’

Most women with these mutated genes will develop cancer at a very young age, says Dr Elizabeth Rapley, a cancer geneticist from the Institute of Cancer Research.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Genetic screening is offered to women with a family history of breast cancer (where one or more close blood relatives have had the disease). If you carry the gene, you can be closely monitored.

Some women opt for early mastectomies to reduce their chances of developing cancer.

Hormone replacement therapies and taking the combined contraceptive pill can increase the risk in some women, as can being obese, particularly after the menopause, says Jackie Harris.

Women who drink and smoke excessively also face increased risks. According to Cancer Research UK, smoking is responsible for more than a quarter of all cancer deaths in Britain, while even moderate drinking has been shown to raise the risk of breast cancer by 7 per cent for each single unit of alcohol per day, the charity reports.

FITNESS

GENETIC LINK: Up to 50 per cent.

WHAT’S PASSED ON? ‘The ease with which you develop muscle tone and improve fitness is highly inherited,’ says Louise Sutton, head of the Carnegie Centre for Sports Performance at Leeds Metropolitan University. ‘It’s often said that if you want to win an Olympic medal, you should choose your parents well.’

A study in the International Journal Of Obesity found that while we all need physical activity to build muscle, people with ‘muscular genes’ require far less exercise to achieve the same level of fitness.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? The Government’s recommended 30 minutes of activity per day, five days a week, will help to keep you healthy, but won’t improve fitness significantly.

‘You need to do 30-45 minutes of moderate to high-intensity aerobic activity, such as running, swimming or cycling, preferably with bursts of speed, on at least three days a week,’ Sutton says. ‘Try to include resistance exercises, such as squats and lunges, plus some stretching.’

DEPRESSION

GENETIC LINK: 10 per cent risk you’ll inherit it, several studies have found — including one by the US National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health.

WHAT’S PASSED ON? Mental illness — including depression, post-natal depression and bipolar disorder — is known to run in families.

Scientists have isolated a mutant gene, called tryptophan hydroxylase-2, which might play a role in depressive illnesses. It starves the brain of serotonin, the feel-good hormone that regulates moods using chemical messages. A direct genetic link has yet to be proven.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Factors such as fatigue, stress and alcohol intake can increase the risk of developing depression, says Emer O’Neill, chief executive of the charity Depression Alliance. If you do inherit one of the genes linked to depression, there’s no guarantee you will suffer from the illness, O’Neill adds.

OBESITY

Only 4 per cent of girls with normal-weight mothers were obese, compared to 41 per cent with fat mothers

Only 4 per cent of girls with normal-weight mothers were obese, compared to 41 per cent with fat mothers

GENETIC LINK: A UK study found people with two copies of a fat version of the gene FTO had a 70 per cent higher risk of obesity than those with no copies.

Another study found only 4 per cent of girls with normal-weight mothers were obese, compared to 41 per cent with fat mothers.

WHAT’S PASSED ON? People carrying one copy of the fat FTO variant had a 30 per cent increased risk of being obese compared to a person with no copies.

Those carrying two copies of the variant were on average 3kg (6.6lb) heavier than a similar person with no gene copies.

Other studies, including one published in the International Journal Of Obesity in 2009, suggest a strong link between mother and daughter and father and son obesity — but no link across the gender divide.

Genetics affect body shape too.

‘Apple shapes have a stronger genetic link than pear-shaped or thin ones,’ says Louise Sutton.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Calorie and fat-laden diets are partly to blame for rising rates of obesity in children, but so are increased levels of inactivity.

TV and computer time should be rationed to less than two hours a day, recommends Sutton.

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

GENETIC LINK: If your mother had it, you’re up to 50 per cent more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, which occurs when — in confusion — the immune system attacks the body causing inflammation, which ruins the joint lining and cartilage.

WHAT’S PASSED ON? Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, says inherited genes don’t directly cause the disease, but can increase your likelihood of developing it.

‘We have only identified some of the genes responsible for rheumatoid arthritis and people often don’t know if they are carrying them,’ Silman says. ‘However, even if they do carry these genes, it’s no guarantee they’ll get the disease.’

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in people who smoke, eat a lot of red meat or drink a lot of caffeine, Silman says.

‘Viral infections can be a trigger for the disease, but it is less common in people who have a high vitamin C intake from fruit and vegetables.’

EARLY MENOPAUSE

GENETIC LINK: 70-85 per cent risk you will have a premature menopause if your mother did.

WHAT’S PASSED ON? One in 20 women begins the menopause before 46 (the average age is 51) and four genes, working together, appear to raise the risk significantly, say researchers at the University of Exeter. Studies on sisters found the age they reached the menopause was 85 per cent down to genes.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Treatment for cancer and surgery on your ovaries can trigger an early menopause. Nothing can prevent it starting, but there is lots you can do to ease the symptoms, from herbal remedies to HRT. All of these should be discussed with your GP.

ALZHEIMER’S

GENETIC LINK: 3-5 per cent increased risk you will get dementia and an estimated 30-50 per cent greater risk you will suffer early-onset Alzheimer’s if your mother did.

WHAT’S PASSED ON? The Alzheimer’s Society says researchers have identified genes that predispose people to different forms of dementia.

‘In a small number of families — accounting for one in 1,000 cases of Alzheimer’s and mainly those that start in early life — there is a clear inheritance of dementia, due to three genes,’ says Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society.

‘However, with late-onset Alzheimer’s, which occurs over the age of 65 and accounts for 99 per cent of cases in Britain, only one gene is known to be influential.’

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check from age 35 onwards can reduce your risk of dementia by up to 20 per cent, Sutherland says.

HEART DISEASE

GENETIC LINK: Up to 20 per cent greater if your mother had a heart attack or chest pain due to blocked arteries, found several studies.

WHAT’S PASSED ON? A recent Oxford University study found women whose mothers suffered strokes were at a greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The study found the inherited vascular disease would affect the coronary artery in the heart and the cerebral artery in the brain.

However, exactly why a mother’s history of stroke plays a role in their daughters’ heart attacks is not known.

Researchers said it was not clear whether genes or environmental factors (i.e. a daughter copying her mother’s unhealthy eating habits) played the larger role.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Lifestyle is important, so maintaining a healthy weight and diet low in saturated fat and salt will help, as will reducing alcohol consumption and not smoking.

SOURCE

British businessman criticized for making realistic comments about women

We read:

“Glencore’s new chairman has been widely condemned for making “unacceptable” and “deplorable” sexist remarks, raising further corporate governance concerns ahead of the commodity trader’s planned $60bn (£37bn) stock market debut.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, Lord Davies and Centrica chairman Sir Roger Carr described Simon Murray’s comments as “ill-judged” and “highly disappointing” – putting pressure on the 71-year-old former banker to step down from the role just 10 days after his appointment.

The furore follows Mr Murray’s comments, made to The Sunday Telegraph, suggesting women’s capacity in the workplace was limited because “pregnant ladies have nine months off”, women “have a tendency not to be so involved quite often” and are not “so ambitious in business”.

Source

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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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