Tens of thousands of British babies to have TB jab as NHS bosses admit infection ‘out of control’
Tens of thousands of newborn babies will be vaccinated against tuberculosis after a surge in cases over the last decade in Britain.
The notorious Victorian era killer that destroys the lungs over time was virtually wiped out in the UK in the 1970s. However, between 1999 and 2009 the number of cases in London increased by 50 per cent. As a result London now has the highest TB rate of any capital city in Western Europe affecting 43 people in 100,000.
A report for the NHS-funded London Health Programmes, found that the capital was especially affected due to strong links with high-incidence nations such as India and countries in Africa. It said: ‘There is a particularly heavy burden of disease among people who were not born in the UK – this group accounts for 84% of TB cases in London.’
London accounts for 40 per cent of TB cases in the UK but other hotspots for the disease include Birmingham, Leicester and Glasgow.
The NHS commissioners behind the London report, added: ‘The fact that TB is not decreasing in UK-born people and children suggests ongoing transmission with the UK – a sign that the disease is not under control.’
A new body called the London TB Commissioning Board is to be set up to try and reverse the trend and reduce rates of the disease by 50 per cent by 2021. From next year it will coordinate a mass vaccination programme for TB for all newborn babies in London. At present BCG injections are given piecemeal as youngsters are only vaccinated in some boroughs.
The jab was discontinued for schoolchildren in 2005, after it was deemed no longer necessary. GPs will also screen new patients registering at their surgeries for the bacterial infection.
Dr John Moore-Gillon, Vice President at the British Lung Foundation, told Mail Online: ‘The plans introduced today are a step forward in controlling TB but we need a multi-pronged approach to tackle the problem and vaccination is just one part of this.
‘People can unknowingly have TB bacteria present in their bodies without being ill, and early detection through screening programmes is also important. ‘Crucially, both the public and health care professionals need to be aware that TB is back, and growing fast. ‘
If TB is caught early it is curable and fairly inexpensive to treat, costing around £2,000 for a six-month course of antibiotics. However if left untreated, or if treatment is not completed, it can cost the NHS more than £50,000 per patient.
Nearly one in five of Londoners with TB don’t complete their treatment, which increases their risk of developing drug resistant TB, infecting their friends and family and requiring lengthy hospital treatment.
Onn Min Kon, a consultant at St Mary’s Hospital in London said people could no longer afford to ignore the disease. ‘The public needs to know that this is not beaten,’ he told The Times. ‘All of us (specialists) will have plenty of examples of people who are theoretically low risk, but have TB.’
161,000 asylum seekers allowed to stay in the UK in amnesty after blunders by Border Agency
Tens of thousands of asylum seekers have in effect been granted an amnesty to stay in Britain because of blunders in the immigration system, MPs said last night.
They are among 450,000 whose case files were found abandoned in boxes at the Home Office five years ago. Of these, 430,000 have now been considered, and 161,000 immigrants have been given the right to stay – many simply because they have been here so long.
On top of that, another 74,500 people have been ‘lost’ because officials do not know whether they have left the country or died. They are placed in a ‘controlled archive’ for six months while checks are carried out before they are put in storage – in effect, written off.
In a damning report, the Commons home affairs select committee said: ‘In practice an amnesty has taken place, at considerable cost to the taxpayer.’
But as the committee’s chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, described the UK Border Agency as ‘still not fit for purpose’, ministers insisted they were clearing up the last government’s ‘chaos’.
After the files were discovered, Labour pledged to clear the backlog by this summer. The MPs’ report said this target would be met, but only at huge expense to the taxpayer, and as a result of relaxing the rules on who can stay.
Of the cases processed, just 38,000 have led to individuals being removed from the country. The report also raised concerns about the lack of action to remove up to 181,000 people whose visas have expired.
Those innocent days before ‘Elf ‘n’ Safety took the fun out of a British childhood
Do you remember the days when a childhood was about getting into scrapes and having adventures?
It isn’t so long ago that children were allowed, and often encouraged, to take risks – with teachers and parents believing it was the best way to learn.
This poignant set of pictures points back to a time before ‘Elf ‘n’ Safety took over our schools – banning youngsters from hugging in case it spreads illness, or forcing them to hold hands in high-vis jackets in order to cross the road.
Useless “regulators” of British care homes
Box-ticking bureaucrats let abusers off the hook: Whistleblower points finger at ‘deskbound’ care inspectors
The social care watchdog which failed to halt the barbaric treatment of patients at a private hospital is ‘completely hampered by red tape’, a whistleblower claimed yesterday.
The Care Quality Commission has already admitted an ‘unforgivable’ lapse of judgment after shocking scenes of abuse were uncovered at the centre for adults with learning disabilities. And yesterday it emerged that the quango has drastically reduced the number of inspections it carries out.
CQC is now investigating why staff ignored the pleas of a former senior nurse at Winterbourne View hospital in Bristol, where patients were routinely subjected to violent treatment from members of staff.
But an inspector who works for the commission said regular visits to hospitals had been sidelined by demands for increased administration and ‘box-ticking’. The employee said: ‘We are so deskbound that inspectors are unable to do what they are supposedly paid to do – inspect. ‘What was uncovered at Winterbourne is a direct result of this.
‘CQC is more interested in spending millions on IT systems and admin skills at the expense of actually ensuring that social care is up to scratch.’
The source told the Daily Mail: ‘A few years ago, I was carrying out two or three inspections a week. Now I’m lucky if I do that many in a month.’
The inspector added that unannounced checks at hospitals can help to root out the kind of behaviour exposed by the BBC’s Panorama programme earlier this week.It showed employees of the hospital physically and verbally abusing vulnerable patients.
Four members of staff at Winterbourne View were arrested on suspicion of assault. Wayne Rogers, 30, Graham Doyle, 25, Jason Gardener, 42, and Allison Dove, 24, have been released on bail.
In one shocking scene, a female patient called Simone was repeatedly drenched in cold water and left to shiver on the floor. The CQC employee said yesterday: ‘If an inspector had made an unannounced visit at that moment, that kind of behaviour could be stamped out. ‘As it is, hospital staff can be pretty confident that two years will pass without an inspector dropping by. We are not being allowed to do our jobs.
‘There is an atmosphere of shame in the office and my colleagues are glad what was happening at Winterbourne View has been exposed. We hope it will shine a light on the organisation so that urgent improvements are made.’ He said CQC ‘is completely hampered by bureaucracy and red tape’.
After the CQC was formed in 2009, to replace three separate commissions, a great deal of time was spent amalgamating data bases, the inspector said. ‘For about three months last summer, we effectively had our inspecting duties removed completely. It was all about entering data and registering for a new IT system.’
He added: ‘The cutbacks have made a difference too. There aren’t enough inspectors to carry out the work we need to do. It is very frustrating that our resources are so limited, and that the resources we do have are so often misused.’
CQC executives had travelled to Scandinavia and Arab states to advise foreign organisations, the inspector said.
The Government has ordered a report into how warnings from former nurse Terry Bryan of systematic abuse were not acted upon by CQC. Mr Bryan had become concerned about the standard of care and complained to the home’s managers in a four-page e-mail in October. When managers failed to address his concerns he resigned.
As a result of his concerns, an undercover Panorama reporter shot footage of the regime at Winterbourne.
CQC issued an ‘unreserved apology’ after admitting it failed to respond to Mr Bryan’s warnings but its chairman, Dame Jo Williams, said she would not resign, blaming ‘an unforgivable error of judgment’ by staff for the failure to act.
Care services minister Paul Burstow has said that the CQC would have to stage unannounced inspections on care homes, rather than giving them advance notice.
Responding to the inspector’s concerns, a CQC spokesman said: ‘Inspection activity has dropped to lower levels while we have been engaged in registering care providers under the new regulatory system required by the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
‘It is a big job and we had to concentrate our resources accordingly. The rate of inspections is now rising again. Our aim is still to review every home at least two-yearly and for the great majority this will involve a site visit.’
She said that CQC ‘does not spend money on systems at the expense of inspections. IT systems exist to support the inspection regime. Additionally, it is extremely rare for employees to travel abroad and its impact on operations will consequently be negligible.’
Girls’ lack of iodine ‘could harm babies’ (and it’s due to a lack of milk?)
Lack of milk, my a**. It’s caused by the fear of salt that governments foster. Sea salt normally has some iodides in it naturally — and most table salt these days is sea salt
Schoolgirls have dangerously low levels of iodine, which could put the health of future generations at risk, claim British researchers.
Two-thirds of teenagers are deficient in the trace mineral, says a new study, partly because consumption of milk has plummeted in recent years.
But lack of iodine in pregnancy can lead to mental retardation in babies, with researchers saying even ‘mild’ levels of deficiency can be harmful.
Experts are calling for iodine to be added to salt – as already happens in some countries – or to folic acid supplements routinely recommended during the early stages of pregnancy.
The study is the latest to warn of a growing number of young and pregnant women who may jeopardise the future health of their babies by not eating a balanced diet, or taking additional vitamins and minerals.
A new study in The Lancet medical journal looked at girls aged 14-15 years from nine schools throughout the UK.
Researchers analysed urine samples from more than 700 girls and found two-thirds were deficient in iodine.
Altogether, half had mild iodine deficiency, a further 16 per cent had moderate and one per cent severe deficiency. They studied teenage girls because young women are most liable to see the ill-effects if they get pregnant.
However, the study concluded the UK population as a whole is ‘now iodine deficient’.
Dr Mark Vanderpump, who led the researchers, said the potential impact of iodine deficiency in pregnancy could not be under-estimated. He added: ‘Mild iodine deficiency impairs cognition in children, and moderate to severe deficiency in a population reduces IQ by 10-15 points.’
Adding iodine to salt, as happens in countries like the U.S. and Switzerland, ‘remains the most cost-effective way to control iodine deficiency’ says the study.