British doctors are ‘too posh to wash hands’
Doctors are “too posh” to wash their hands in hospitals, leaving patients at risk of contracting superbugs, according to Edwina Currie.
The former Tory health minister, who is now patron of the charity MRSA Action UK, said she had also seen medical staff wearing outdoor clothes and long sleeves on wards, increasing the risk of infections. She also said that trusts should spend money on extra staff to tackle problems of cleanliness, rather than facing fines.
Mrs Currie, who caused a scandal in Government when she warned of the dangers of salmonella in British eggs, said: “I’ve come across many instances of bad practice which at the least are folly, at worst criminally negligent.
“Sharps being stuck into mattresses ‘so we can find them.’ Commodes rusting and smelly. Floors with stains, pools of congealed blood by toilets, waste bags left in corridors. Intravenous lines being reused repeatedly with inadequate sterilisation.
“Doctors ‘too posh to wash’ their hands, or wearing scruffy outdoor apparel with long sleeves. No wonder it’s so hard to eradicate MRSA and other superbugs.”
In an article for the website GovToday, she concluded: “Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that we forget we are dealing with human beings.
“If staff thought that patient in the bed was their mother, or their daughter, they might not rush past, and they might hesitate before ‘forgetting’ to wash their hands.”
Girl risks her life to rescue woman from hoodies – as scum British police sit in their car and do nothing
A young woman told yesterday how she risked her life to stop a street robbery – while two police officers sat in their patrol car a few yards away.
Marie Wastlund, 27, was walking home from a night out when she saw three hooded thugs throttling and kicking a woman in view of the police vehicle. The student waved and shouted to get the attention of the officers – parked only 25 yards away – but they did nothing.
So she waded in herself and pulled the thugs away from their victim by their hoods – at which point they fled. Astonishingly, she then had to dial 999 to summon police help and sat cradling the distraught victim in her arms for ten minutes.
At one point the two officers got out of their car but, apparently not noticing what was going on, they got back in again. In fact, the pair only ventured out to investigate the incident when Miss Wastlund’s friend arrived and rushed over to their car and knocked on the window.
Even if the officers didn’t initially see what was happening, it was claimed they should have been alert enough to cotton on to an attack that went on for several minutes so close to their car.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary yesterday pledged a full investigation into the incident in the St Paul’s area of Bristol.
‘I was waving and shouting at them to come and help,’ said Miss Wastlund. ‘It was pretty clear something was going on in the road – anyone with half a brain could have seen something was happening. ‘They should have done something. It’s disgusting – they are paid to protect people. ‘It could have been me being attacked. It’s a scary thought that police were so close to the incident and did nothing.’
Miss Wastlund came across the robbery at 5am after a night out at a street festival. She saw two youths and one woman beating the victim who was on the ground at the side of a road. After Miss Wastlund’s screams for help went unnoticed, she grappled with the gang – all of them white and in their 20s. One of them told her the woman owed them money before running off with a small amount of her cash.
Miss Wastlund, who lives in Bristol city centre, said: ‘I realised there was no point running after them. I didn’t want to put myself in any more danger. ‘I suddenly realised that I could have been stabbed or something in trying to protect the woman. I went back to her and tried to calm her down and called the police.’
Miss Wastlund added: ‘After the gang fled I was on the floor with the victim for about ten minutes. She was crying and I was cradling her. She was in a dreadful state. ‘I couldn’t leave her to run to the police car so I dialled 999. I told them to get on the radio to that squad car straight away. ‘They did get out of the car at one point – but didn’t come over. They had probably gone off to get doughnuts or something.’
Her friend, who had also been at the festival, walked by and came over to help. ‘It was only when my friend came over that I told her to go and get them.’
The police car was parked facing away from the assault but Miss Wastlund insists officers must have seen her in their mirrors or heard her screams for help. She said: ‘There was nothing but road between the attack and the car. They were only about 25 yards away. When they finally did get out they said they had not seen anything. They are paid to be aware and look out for trouble.’
The two officers then spoke to Miss Wastlund and her friend, who asked not to be identified, before taking the victim, 29, to hospital.
Avon and Somerset police confirmed it was investigating the assault and robbery and the police reaction to the incident. Superintendent Ian Wylie said: ‘I am grateful to the witness for reporting the incident and bringing to our attention her concerns about a police car nearby. We take allegations such as these very seriously.’ [Only when newspapers make them]
Teachers’ children ‘prioritised’ in British school admissions overhaul
Schools will be able to prioritise places for the children of teachers, cooks, cleaners and caretakers under a Government reform of admissions rules, it emerged today. They will be given new powers to prioritise sons or daughters of staff members for the first time as part of a plan to give more power to individual schools. Ministers insisted the change would allow heads to attract the best candidates and ease the burden on parent teachers.
But the move is likely to raise fears it could lead to a further reduction in the number of places available for other families in local catchment areas.
The Coalition’s draft school admissions code also requires all schools to admit children from Armed Forces families before other pupils and gives flagship academies and free schools the power to prioritise poor youngsters eligible for free school meals.
In another new development, the document will allow twins and other multiple birth children to be admitted to infant classes – even if means pushing them above to 30-pupil legal limit – to stop brothers or sisters being separated at a young age.
Teaching unions warned that the move could also lead to a rise in class sizes, undermining children’s education.
But the Government insisted the new code meant more parents would be able to get their children into the best state schools. It was also revealed that all schools – including selective state grammars – would be able to expand to take in more pupils.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said: “The school system has rationed good schools. Some families can go private or move house. Many families cannot afford to do either.
“The system must change. Schools should be run by teachers who know the children’s names and they should be more accountable to parents, not politicians.
“Good schools should be able to grow and we need more of them.”
But Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the number of special interest groups awarded reserved places could lead to unsustainably large classes in some schools.
Since 1997, primary schools have been banned from squeezing more than 30 infants into the same lesson.
“The idea that primary class sizes could go beyond 30 for whatever reason is a backward step,” she said. “This is of no benefit to anyone, least of all children.
“Large class sizes will increase the dependency upon teaching assistants who, while providing very useful support and back up in the classroom, have been shown to have little effect on attainment.
“We need to see class sizes reduced to at least 20 to ensure pupils get the maximum support and attention from their teacher.”
The measures announced today form part of the Government’s plans to slim down the admissions code, amid concerns that it had become too unwieldy.
The code – which will go out to consultation before being introduced for children starting school in 2013 – is around 50 pages long, compared to the old version which stretched to around 130 pages.
In one controversial development, schools can decide to prioritise staff during the admissions process. They must set out their own definition of “staff” – possibly widening it out beyond teachers to include all support workers, including cleaners and caretakers.
The new proposals also include:
* Increasing the number of places available in good schools by making it easier for popular establishments to take more pupils;
* Banning local authorities from using area-wide “lotteries”;
* Giving parents more time to appeal after being rejected from the school of their choice, with the current 10-day deadline being extended to 30 days;
* Reducing bureaucracy by requiring schools and local councils to consult on admissions arrangements every seven years, rather than every three years, if no changes are proposed;
* Simplifying transitions from one school to another when families move to a new area during the school year.
Teaching assistants ‘fail to improve British school results’
Hundreds of millions of pounds spent drafting teaching assistants into schools has failed to improve pupils’ performance, according to research. A rise in the number of support staff in the classroom has had “no impact” on standards, said a report published by the Sutton Trust charity.
The study suggests that assistants can “positively affect” pupils’ attitudes towards education but may undermine lessons when used as a substitute for proper teachers.
It comes despite a sharp hike in the number of classroom assistants hired under Labour, with 213,900 employed this year – almost three times the total a decade ago.
In the latest study, academics from Durham University analysed the different ways English schools could spend additional cash pledged by the Government to improve standards among poor pupils. The so-called “pupil premium” – worth an extra £430 per child each year – is being introduced in September.
The study found no benefit to hiring teaching assistants. Setting classes by ability and imposing a hard-line policy on school uniform could actually have a negative impact on pupils’ results, it was claimed.
Researchers found only minor benefits associated with the introduction of school uniforms, reducing class sizes, introducing performance-related pay for teachers and running after school clubs.
They said setting more homework had a “moderate impact” on standards, equivalent to a maximum of five months’ extra education over the course of a year.
But the study said the most effective techniques included providing pupils with feedback on their work and encouraging them to think about their own studies.
Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “The key to improving the attainment of disadvantaged pupils is not necessarily how much money is spent in schools, but how much is spent on what is proven to work in the classroom.”
Labour encouraged a dramatic increase in the number of classroom assistants as part of a landmark deal to give teachers at a least one half-day a week to plan and prepare work. Under the move, teachers are no longer expected to do a series of administrative tasks, such as photocopying and putting up displays.
But unions have claimed that many schools are simply using support staff as cheap labour, often leaving them in full charge of lessons.
A Government-funded report in 2009 found that assistants were used as temporary cover in more than 80 per cent of schools.
One-in-10 state primaries and 40 per cent of secondaries admitted regularly turning to support staff to fill in for absent teachers for more than three days at a time. Some used assistants for a whole term.
A strange picture of Broke Britain
Last week David Brooks, the faux-conservative columnist at the New York Times penned a column extolling the British national political system. The piece, written to coincide with President Obama’s visit to Europe, praised Britain for moving to social democracy in the early Twentieth Century. He concedes that overt socialism nearly wrecked the British system during the 1960s and 70s, but maintains, quite sensibly, that the estimable Margaret Thatcher tackled Britain’s problems (although the New York Times roundly chastised her) and that subsequent governments, both Conservative and Labor, consolidated those gains. Brooks waxes rhapsodic about the end result: A Britain that has moved “from a centralized, industrial era state to a networked, postindustrial one” whatever that means.
In praising the British system and the politicos who work the levers Brooks inadvertently reveals a number of biases of his own and reveals weaknesses as a theorist of reputedly conservative leanings. Brooks lavishes praise on the British system as “a picture of how politics should work.” He doesn’t bother with the fact that many Britons do not work; he only claims that British politics function. In this broad claim he misses the point that political life is not synonymous with a national culture.
Britain today suffers from most of the same ills plaguing America, often to a greater extent. British illegitimacy rates have soared to 70%, their welfare dependency rate exceeds ours, and Britons seem to accept 15% unemployment rates as the new normal. Certainly, Britain suffers from unchecked third-world immigration, and the Islamic terror threat is a daily reality, as anyone who has passed through Heathrow Airport in the last six years can attest (your humble TH columnist was instructed to arrive at Heathrow at 3:15 AM for an 8:00 AM flight during the summer of 2006). Still David Brooks tells his readers that Britain works, and Mr. Brooks is an honorable man.
After singing the praises of the British system, David Brooks cannot help himself but to take potshots at the American scene. He mentions, “…Britain is also blessed with a functioning political culture. It is dominated by people who live in London and who have often known each other since prep school.” Are we so different? American national politics are dominated by people who live in Washington and have known each other since they were elected. Never mind that they are the same people who got us into this mess in the first place.
Mr. Brooks goes on to state, “…the big newspapers still set the agenda here, not cable TV, or talk radio.” He clearly tips his hand here, showing his frustration that the public no longer pays attention to the NYT anymore and prefers Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. One wonders if Brooks and his fellow center-right Anglophiles favor the heavy-handed Britons efforts to squelch popular conservatism such as declaring the American radio personality Michael Savage a “purveyor of hate” and refusing him entry to Britain?
The next target on Brooks’ little list is American politics and, of course, politicians. He claims, “…the quintessential American pol is standing in his sandbox screaming affirmations to members of his own tribe, the quintessential British pol is standing across a table arguing face-to-face with his opponents.” Brooks apparently doesn’t care for representative democracy, if one takes his comments seriously. He goes on to state, “…British leaders and pundits know their counterparts better. They are less likely to get away with distortions and factual howlers. They are less likely to believe the other Party is homogeneously evil.” Oh, really? This would come as news to Dame Margaret Thatcher, who endured abuse, slander, libel, and relentless character assassination during her storied tenure as Prime Minister.
After establishing the superiority of the British chattering class, he briefly touches on a number of subthemes such as a British tendency to eschew moralism and dogmatism in politics and the overall superiority of British public life. He finishes with a flourish: “as President Barack Obama visits London, we will get a glimpse of the British political culture. We Americans have no reason to feel smug or superior.” One gets the distinct impression that Mr. Brooks wishes that he could import some of the civilized nature of British conservatism to America and that he feels much more at home with the British Tories instead of the yahoos who populate conservative circles in America, people who write columns for Townhall, and even worse, the people who read those columns.
The reader might be grudgingly tempted to agree with David Brooks that a little bit of English virtue might be helpful today. The old British stiff upper lip in the face of personal adversity would constitute a definite improvement over the new American cultural ideal of pouring one’s deepest troubles while sitting on a couch next to a tearful Oprah Winfrey. Likewise, a dollop of Edwardian-era certitude concerning culture, duty, honor and moral clarity would be welcome today. Unfortunately, David Brooks will have none of it. His writings have resonated with great admiration for the British cradle to grave welfare state and his “conservatism” exists primarily as a sort of altruistic Disraeli-Beaconsfield attitude of noblesse oblige, leading the masses where they need to be taken.
An alternate reading of British history should serve as a warning to Americans and jolt us out of an anglophile fog. Many British commentators like Paul Johnson and Auberon Waugh have noted that the building of a welfare state in Britain paralleled, almost precisely, the decline of Britain as a world power. This began in 1906 and picked up speed after World War I. The British governments appeased the working class with cheap beer and the dole. They financed these extravagances by cutting the defense budgets, leaving themselves dangerously vulnerable to German and Japanese aggression. Britain staved off defeat and disaster with Russian and American help. They then washed their hands of empire and international leadership. Today the Tory Party leader David Cameron is the Prime Minister of a third-rate power.
“Organic” not so safe
A person in Britain has been diagnosed with a lethal strain of E.coli, believed to originate in organic cucumbers.
The bacteria have killed nine people in Germany, with almost 300 people being admitted to hospital. Cases have also been reported in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.
The outbreak is believed to have originated in organic cucumbers grown in Spain, although there are suggestions that the bacteria has been found in cucumbers grown in the Netherlands.
The advice now to people travelling to Germany is not to eat cucumbers, raw tomatoes or lettuce.
The British Health Protection Authority has confirmed that three German nationals currently in Britain have fallen ill. One of those cases has been confirmed as having the infection which is causing this outbreak.
A spokeswoman for the HPA said the outbreak in Germany was “very, very serious” and although the bug was infectious, there had been no reports of secondary infection yet in the UK.
Dr Dilys Morgan, head of the gastrointestinal, emerging and zoonotic infections department at the HPA, said: “The HPA is actively monitoring the situation very carefully and liaising with the authorities in Germany, the European Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation as to the cause of the outbreak. E.coli bacteria like these are responsible for the outbreak across Europe.
“We are keeping a close watch for potential cases reported in England and are working with colleagues in the devolved administrations to recommend they do the same. “In addition we are in the process of alerting health professionals to the situation and advising them to urgently investigate potential cases with a travel history to Germany.”
In Germany concern is growing. The country’s National Disease Control Centre has confirmed 60 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours. A spokesman for the German consumer affairs minister Ilse Aigner said: “The European Union internal market has very strong safety rules and we expect all EU states to observe them.” He added that, for the moment, “one can only speculate about the causes” of the outbreak.
In Spain, a spokesman for the AESA food safety agency said investigations were also under way. “The Andalusian authorities are investigating to find out where the contamination comes from and when it took place,” he said. “This type of bacteria can contaminate at the origin or during handling of the product.”
There has been no report of contamination within Spain, AESA said.
Those worse hit by the infection contract HUS, a condition which can have severe effects. British microbiologist Ron Cutler told Sky News: “It contains some very nasty toxins which can go straight to your kidneys and cause kidney failure, and it’s very difficult to treat.
“For those who are treated, around 90% of treatments can be successful, but one in 10 of those people could have damaged kidneys in later life.”
The Food Standards Agency has confirmed that the offending cucumbers have not been on sale at any outlets in the UK.