Older people receive worse NHS cancer care
Older people with cancer are more likely to die in England than in other leading countries because of “age bias” in the NHS, according to a new report. The study from the King’s Fund found that pensioners tended to be diagnosed with the disease later and were less likely to receive surgery.
The report said there was “substantial evidence” that older patients were under-treated on the NHS and that their chances of survival were “poorer as a result”. It found the elderly were less likely to receive proper tests or surgery and more likely to be seen when their cancers were advanced and so beyond treatment. The study identified “age bias” in the NHS as a factor behind this.
Catherine Foot, Senior Fellow at the King’s Fund, said: “England still has a way to go to reach cancer survival rates that are ranked with the best international performers. The evidence points to early diagnosis as being key to improving outcomes.
“We hope urgent priority is given to closing the gap in survival rates between different groups in society. We found that older people are particularly burdened by this, being more likely to have cancer, to be diagnosed later, to be under-treated and to experience worse outcomes.”
Ministers have repeatedly cited England’s relatively poor performance in cancer survival as justification for their unprecedented reform of the NHS, repeatedly claiming that 5,000 lives could be saved a year if standards were raised although some health experts have queried this figure.
The new report by the King’s Fund think-tank acknowledges that overall cancer survival rates are improving, but agrees with the Government that England’s performance is still worse than that of several other developed countries.
One important factor behind the generally lower survival rates in England is late diagnosis, the study found. For example, the difference between England and the Nordic countries for all cancers is 10.8 per cent. But, if patients who have been diagnosed late and have died after a year are excluded, this falls to 3.6 per cent. This suggests that late diagnosis causes a large chunk of the difference.
Chances of surviving colorectal, breast, lung and ovarian cancer are “persistently lower” in parts of Britain and Denmark than areas of Australia, Canada, Sweden and Norway, with the gap having “widened slightly” for lung cancer, according to the report.
It said there was “strong evidence” that delays in diagnosis by GP and in accessing care partly explained the difference. In addition, some studies have suggested that patients in some parts of Britain are far less likely to likely to have surgery on tumours than others, while more people should receive radiotherapy.
In response, the Department of Health said it was launching 13 pilot schemes in conjunction with leading charities to tackle survival rates among the elderly, including better assessments and support for those who fear going into hospital and leaving partners or pets behind.
Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “There is strong evidence to show that age, not their health, is the main consideration when choosing the most appropriate cancer treatment for older people. It is absolutely vital that we look at new assessment methods in order to improve survival rates and the experience of older people with cancer.”
In a separate move, from next year the Equality Act will outlaw age discrimination in the provision of health services, which should mean the NHS providing more care to those over 65.
Britain’s Bishops at war: Head of Catholics leads furious backlash after Archbishop of Canterbury’s attack on Coalition
The Archbishop of Canterbury is embroiled in an extraordinary war with David Cameron and rival Church leaders after a bitter attack on the Government.
In the most brazen political intervention by a head of the Church of England for more than two decades, Dr Rowan Williams questioned the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition. He claimed ‘no one voted’ for flagship policies on welfare, health and education, which he said were causing ‘anxiety and anger’.
The remarks prompted a furious backlash from the Prime Minister and the leader of England’s Roman Catholics, Archbishop Vincent Nichols. Dr Williams’s attack came in a leading article for the Left-wing New Statesman magazine which he had been invited to guest-edit. Dr Rowan Williams questioned the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition
He dismissed Mr Cameron’s Big Society initiative as ‘painfully stale’ and condemned ‘punitive’ action against ‘alleged abuses’ in the benefits system. The Archbishop also accused ministers of encouraging a ‘quiet resurgence of the seductive language of “deserving” and “undeserving” poor’.
It is the most controversial intervention in politics by the Church of England since Robert Runcie and Margaret Thatcher clashed in 1985 over the Church’s Faith In The City report on poverty.
Yesterday the leader of England’s Roman Catholics rejected Dr Williams’s suggestion that the Prime Minister’s plans to encourage volunteering and charity work were a cover for cuts and spoke out in favour of the ‘genuine moral agenda’ driving the Coalition’s reforms.
Archbishop Nichols praised Mr Cameron for putting marriage and family stability at the centre of policy-making, and he supported his Big Society vision.
His comments appeared to herald a holy war between the liberal-dominated Church of England, increasingly under the sway of clerics who regard state spending as sacrosanct and cuts as immoral, and a Roman Catholic church that backs Mr Cameron’s belief in self-help and the traditional family.
A string of Tory and Lib Dem Cabinet ministers also defended the Government against Dr Williams’s remarks.
Mr Cameron said he ‘profoundly disagreed’ with Dr Williams, while Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the primate had been ‘unbalanced and unfair’. The Prime Minister said there was nothing ‘good or moral’ about leaving debts for the next generation to repay, trapping people on welfare or giving children sub-standard education.
Mr Cameron, in Belfast to address the Northern Ireland Assembly, said: ‘I’ve never been one to say that the Church has to fight shy of making political interventions, but what I would say is that I profoundly disagree with many of the views that he’s expressed, particularly on issues like debt and on welfare and education.
‘I am absolutely convinced that our policies are about actually giving people greater responsibility and greater chances in their life and I will defend those very vigorously.’
Senior Church colleagues are also understood to be questioning the wisdom of their leader’s remarks. Lord Carey, Dr Williams’s predecessor, pointedly backed the Coalition’s education policy, saying academies and free schools would ‘bring more freedom to religious schools to instil their ethos and their values’.
In the New Statesman article, Dr Williams said the Government was facing ‘bafflement and indignation’ over its health and education plans. ‘With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted. ‘At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context,’ he claimed, adding ‘The anxiety and anger have to do with the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument.’
Dr Williams described Mr Cameron’s Big Society initiative – which he praised earlier this year – as being viewed with ‘widespread suspicion’ and said the term had become ‘painfully stale’. He also challenged Labour to produce a ‘big idea’ and warned it not simply to ‘collude’ in public fear.
But Mr Duncan Smith, a devout Catholic, said the Archbishop was simply wrong to suggest any minister had resurrected the Victorian concept of the ‘deserving poor’.
‘If a Churchman can’t endorse the idea of community and the voluntary sector, doing what is necessary to help people out of their difficulties, then I wonder who will?’ he said.
And Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: ‘The Government has legitimacy because it has a majority in the House of Commons.’
Tory MP Roger Gale said: ‘For him, as an unelected member of the upper house … to criticise the Coalition as undemocratic is unacceptable.’
But Labour education spokesman Andy Burnham said: ‘Across the country, people who are seeing this Government pursuing divisive policies without a mandate will share the Archbishop’s concerns.’
A profoundly divisive Leftie rather than a man of God and a custodian of his church
COMMENTARY below by Stephen Glover
Even if Dr Rowan Williams’ remarks had been uncontroversial, his decision to be guest editor of the Leftist New Statesman would still be hard to understand. I would say the same if had he been asked to edit a Right-wing magazine.
The primate of the Church of England, and the leader of the 70million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion, should not enter the hurly-burly of political journalism.
In the event he has gone much further in his two-page editorial in the New Statesman. By seemingly questioning the legitimacy of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition, and by criticising its policies, he has created a storm that may harm his office and the Church of England, and will dismay many churchgoers and others.
Of course, prelates should speak up for the poor and excluded, but they run a terrible risk when they stray from general arguments about society into making party political interventions.
I doubt any archbishop in modern times has been so specific in his political point-scoring as Dr Williams. The Church of England’s 1985 report Faith In The City angered the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, because it lamented the supposed effects of Tory economic policies in the inner cities. But the report had a more general thrust than Dr Williams’ criticisms and, unlike him, did not question the Government’s right to govern.
This is the most incendiary aspect of what he said – his suggestion that ‘there is understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context’. When you bore down through the customary waffle and opacity, this would seem to mean that the Coalition may not have a democratic mandate.
Would he have insinuated the same thought if there had been a Labour-Lib Dem coalition? I very much doubt it. In fact, the Coalition has more popular support – if you add up the votes of all those who voted Tory and Lib Dem – than any government in modern times.
Of course it is true that the two governing parties have broken some of their pledges. The inevitability of compromise is a powerful argument against coalitions. But it is simply not true, as Dr Williams alleges, that ‘with remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical long-term policies for which no one voted’.
His example of the Government’s ‘free schools’ policy is a case in point. The Tories set out their ideas in enormous detail before the last election, and they were included in their manifesto.
Whether Dr Williams likes it or not, significantly more people – nearly 11 million – voted for the Tories than any other party in May 2010.
But it is probably in his attack on Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare changes that the Archbishop is widest of the mark. He bemoans the ‘quiet resurgence of the seductive language of the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor’.
Why he should think such language ‘seductive’ I don’t know, but it has never been used by Mr Duncan Smith or anyone else in the Government. This is a slur against a man (a devout Christian, as it happens) who has thought much more than Dr Williams about how to help the long-term poor free themselves from what are often generations of workless existence and dependence on welfare. Mr Duncan Smith contends that his ‘universal credit’ will lift a million people out of poverty.
And, of course, his proposals were very widely discussed before the election, and have not been sprung on the British people, as the Archbishop’s New Statesman maunderings imply.
Dr Williams emerges from his convoluted and sometimes near unfathomable prose as an unreconstructed 1960s ‘Leftie’ with a barely concealed dislike for Tory men and Tory measures.
If he really was hell-bent on being a guest editor of the New Statesman, a rather moth-eaten magazine that has seen better days, might he not have thought more of what the Church of England should be doing to mend our fractured and increasingly secular society?
There are so many social ills such as family breakdown about which he could have invited debate by commissioning pieces for the magazine.
And why no article about what the Church can do to turn back the tide of secularism and consumerism? Why no consideration of why fewer than a million people a week attend Church of England services?
Dr Williams has merely succeeded in being divisive by guest-editing the New Statesman. I yearn for a Primate of the Church of England who lifts his gaze above party politics, and proclaims Christian values in a society that no longer cares much about them. I’m afraid I no longer have much confidence that Rowan Williams will ever be that man.
Victory for father after autistic son’s 12-month ordeal in the clutches of Fascistic British social workers
A father wept yesterday as a judge vindicated his crusade to free his autistic son from a year-long ordeal in the clutches of social workers. Mark Neary was praised for refusing to give up on 21-year-old Steven who was ‘unlawfully’ kept from his family by heavy-handed council officials.
Steven had only gone into care for three days to give his father a chance to recover from flu, but social workers flagged up the young man’s behaviour as ‘challenging’ and decided to keep him permanently.
The council said care staff had concerns about Mr Neary’s ‘challenging’ behaviour and weight, and argued that the move was intended to be for a longer period
He was upset at being parted from his father, and had a habit of tapping people on the shoulder to attract their attention. Absurdly, Steven’s shoulder-tapping was recorded in the respite centre’s daily log as a series of ‘assaults’.
To 52-year-old Mr Neary’s horror, he was informed his son was not allowed to return to his family home in North-West London but would instead be placed in a care home 150 miles away in Wales.
Steven would have languished there indefinitely had it not been for Mr Neary’s fierce determination that the system would not be allowed to steal his son. They were finally reunited last December, a full year after social workers had tried to rip the family apart.
Yesterday a judge applauded Mr Neary’s fortitude in facing down an army of officials. Mr Justice Peter Jackson, sitting in the Court of Protection at the High Court, also criticised Hillingdon social services for ‘turning a deaf ear’ to the family’s plight, adding that had Mr Neary been a lesser parent, his son ‘would have faced a life in public care that he did not want and does not need’.
He said Mr Neary could be ‘proud of the way he has stood up for his son’s interests’. Mr Justice Jackson concluded that the council had breached Steven’s human rights by keeping him away from home.
Outside the court in London, Hillingdon social services’ director Linda Sanders apologised and accepted that father and son had been ‘let down’.
Mr Neary, who works as a counsellor, declared himself ‘relieved, tearful, satisfied,’ and said the ruling was ‘fantastic’. He added: ‘I knew Steven should be at home because I know Steven. But there was always more of them than there was of me. ‘I feel vindicated. I have heard there are a lot of other people in similar positions. Hopefully people will read this judgment and be prepared to fight for the rights of their kids.’
He praised the Press for reporting his son’s case, which would normally have been shrouded in the secrecy of the family courts system.
The judge also condemned council chiefs for trying to spin their way out of trouble by smearing the family in circulating a three-page ‘media briefing note’ that created a ‘particularly unfair and negative picture’ of Steven. He branded it a ‘sorry document’ full of inaccurate information.
The family’s ordeal began in December 2009 when Mr Neary, who earlier in the year had separated from his wife Julie, had flu and asked the council for help with his son for a few days until he recovered.
Steven went into the council’s care for three days, to a home he had stayed at before. But after the first day in respite, staff said they were ‘unable to cope’ with him.
When Mr Neary returned to collect his son, he was refused access and informed that Steven was being transferred to a Positive Behaviour Unit run by the council. It triggered a care battle that lasted a year.
Mr Neary got his son back last December after winning an interim court order. After a full hearing in May, the judge reserved judgment until yesterday. The judge said: ‘Hillingdon had no lawful basis for keeping Steven away from his family.
‘It acted as if it had the right to make decisions about Steven, and by a combination of turning a deaf ear and force majeure, it tried to wear down Mark Neary’s resistance, stretching its relationship with him to almost breaking point.’
Last night at his home, Mr Neary said: ‘Every day since Steven has come back, he asks me if he has to go back into care. Every day I’ve had to reassure him that he won’t.’
British Exams watchdog demands review of all A-level and GCSE questions after more blunders revealed
All exam questions are to be inspected for mistakes after errors were found in several papers, putting thousands of pupils’ grades in jeopardy. The watchdog Ofqual has ordered exam boards to review GCSE, AS-level and A-level papers being sat this month after a deluge of complaints about ‘disappointing and unacceptable’ blunders.
Six separate papers are under investigation already. Each contained an impossible question that could not be answered correctly.
Biology, maths, geography, computing and business studies exams were all affected. One of the incorrect questions was worth up to 11 per cent of the paper.
Although examiners have pledged to take into account the mistakes found on papers, students have complained that they wasted vital time on these questions – and so couldn’t complete other parts of the paper.
The National Union of Students has warned that the errors will affect some students’ chances of gaining university places.
Ofqual has taken the unprecedented step of writing to all exam boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland about the mistakes. Glenys Stacey, the watchdog’s chief executive, said: ‘The recent run of exam errors is disappointing and unacceptable. There have been a number of question papers that have included errors. ‘I am calling on awarding organisations to take steps now to protect students from further disruption and anxiety.’
The majority of blunders were in exams set by AQA, Britain’s biggest exam board.
HOW THE BOARDS BLUNDERED
* A geography AS-level exam by AQA asked students to identify the fastest part of a river. But the diagram was wrongly labelled, so they could not answer.
* A question in an AS-level maths exam sat by 6,800 students, worth 11 per cent of the total mark, asked students to find the shortest route along a network of tracks in a forest. The route was supposed to be equal to an equation set out in the test paper – but the OCR exam board didn’t calculate the length properly.
* In an AS-level biology exam from the Edexcel exam board, 17,000 candidates were supposed to find the correct DNA sequence from a series of combinations shown – but the right answer was missing.
* For an AS-level business studies paper set by AQA, 41,400 students were asked about a fictitious chocolate company’s profits. But the firm’s adjoining profile information failed to show what its profits actually were.
Shane Chowen, of the NUS, said: ‘More needs to be done to reassure those who sat the erroneous papers that they will not have their future prospects placed in jeopardy. ‘Those students confronted with unanswerable questions may have had their performance in the rest of the exam affected. ‘The only fair solution is to give those that want it, the option to re-sit the exam.’
Each exam board marks the tests that it sets. Ofqual monitors the boards and ensures their accuracy. It also moderates a sample of papers. But errors found in exam questions will raise fears that more mistakes will be made when papers are marked.
Dr Jim Sinclair, of the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards, said: ‘Students should be assured that no one will be disadvantaged as a result of these mistakes.’
Britain’s government Ministers fall for climate folly, warns ex-Civil Service chief
Politicians and Whitehall mandarins are pandering to global warming ‘alarmists’ and consigning Britain to a future of inflated fuel bills and economic misery, the former head of the Civil Service warned last night.
Lord Turnbull – who served Tony Blair as Cabinet Secretary from 2002 to 2005 – accused MPs and civil servants of failing to challenge the ‘climate change consensus’. He suggested that by blindly following the green agenda, the Government had hit hard-working families with a range of costly policies.
Lord Turnbull also pointed out that ‘by and large humanity has prospered in the warmer periods’. ‘It is regrettable that the UK Parliament has proved so trusting and uncritical of the (global warming) narrative and so reluctant to question the economic costs being imposed in pursuit of decarbonisation,’ he said. ‘I am also disappointed that so many of my former colleagues in the civil service seem so ready to go along unquestioningly with the consensus.
‘From our politicians we need open-mindedness, more rationality, less emotion and less religiosity; and an end to alarmist propaganda and to attempts to frighten us and our children. ‘And we want them to pay more attention to the national interest and less to being global evangelists.’
Last month Energy Secretary Chris Huhne committed the UK to halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and by cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
However, David Cameron’s climate advisers warn the move to a low carbon economy will cost one per cent of GDP – £13billion a year in economic growth. The targets are the toughest of any country in the world.
The Government is committed to meeting its carbon targets by boosting home energy efficiency, installing £7billion worth of smart electricity metres and creating 10,000 wind turbines over the next decade. The cost of the wind farms is being added to household bills.
Lord Turnbull’s unprecedented assault comes in a report The Really Inconvenient Truth for the sceptical think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation. In it, he describes the Government’s expansion of wind power as folly and warns that Britain was rushing too quickly into a costly low carbon future.
He condemned Britain’s self-imposed legally binding climate change targets as ‘unilateralism’ at a time when other countries are doing very little. ‘The UK, producing only two to three per cent of world CO2 emissions can have only a minimal effect on the global warming outcome,’ he said.
He singles out the Conservative Party for its ‘uncritical adoption of the green agenda’ as a way to help them escape ‘the nasty party image’.
Much of his anger is reserved for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the influential UN body of scientists which argues man-made carbon dioxide is most likely cause of global warming.
Lord Turnbull accepts that global temperatures have been rising for the past 150 years and that some of that increase was caused by rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. However, he claims there is still ‘huge controversy’ about the role of the of the sun, cosmic rays, clouds and oceans in climate change.
Lord Turnbull, who began his career as an economist and is now a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation set up by Lord Lawson, said the IPCC made too many dramatic claims. ‘There has been a consistent pattern of cherry-picking, exaggeration, highlighting of extremes and failure to acknowledge beneficial effects,’ he said.
On the IPCC’s work on the impacts of climate change, he declared: ‘This is where their work is at its shabbiest; lots of dramatic claims about sea levels, melting glaciers, ice, crop yields, extinction of species eg polar bears.’ He denounced the senior scientists who have become ‘campaigners, trying to close down debate’.
Dr Bob Ward, a climate change policy expert at the London School of Economics, said Lord Turnbull’s paper was ‘riddled with basic scientific errors’. ‘He misunderstands the science and the nature of risk,’ he said. ‘No one denies that there is uncertainty in the future impacts of climate change. But because the impacts are potentially so huge and economically damaging, if we wait until we are sure it will be too late to do anything about it.’
Electric cars may not be so green after all, says British study
ELECTRIC cars could produce higher emissions over their lifetimes than petrol equivalents because of the energy consumed in making their batteries, a study has found.
An electric car owner would have to drive at least 129,000km before producing a net saving in CO2. Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they typically have a range of less than 145km on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips. Even those driven 160,000km would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.
The British study, which is the first analysis of the full lifetime emissions of electric cars covering manufacturing, driving and disposal, undermines the case for tackling climate change by the rapid introduction of electric cars.
The Committee on Climate Change, the UK government watchdog, has called for the number of electric cars on Britain’s roads to increase from a few hundred now to 1.7 million by 2020.
Britain’s Department for Transport is spending $66 million over the next year giving up to 8,600 buyers of electric cars a grant of $7700 towards the purchase price. Ministers are considering extending the scheme.
The study was commissioned by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, which is jointly funded by the British government and the car industry. It found that a mid-size electric car would produce 23.1 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, compared with 24 tonnes for a similar petrol car. Emissions from manufacturing electric cars are at least 50 per cent higher because batteries are made from materials such as lithium, copper and refined silicon, which require much energy to be processed.
Many electric cars are expected to need a replacement battery after a few years. Once the emissions from producing the second battery are added in, the total CO2 from producing an electric car rises to 12.6 tonnes, compared with 5.6 tonnes for a petrol car. Disposal also produces double the emissions because of the energy consumed in recovering and recycling metals in the battery. The study also took into account carbon emitted to generate the grid electricity consumed.
Greg Archer, director of Low CVP, said the industry should state the full lifecycle emissions of cars rather than just tailpipe emissions, to avoid misleading consumers. He said that drivers wanting to minimise emissions could be better off buying a small, efficient petrol or diesel car. “People have to match the technology to their particular needs,” he said.
Outrage at British Labour MP’s suggestion that most immigrants work harvesting crops
Agricultural laboring IS a major source of work for immigrants to Britain but you are not supposed to mention that, apparently
“Glenda Jackson was plunged into a race row last night after she suggested migrants were engaged in ‘picking strawberries’ and ‘digging up potatoes’.
Labour leader Ed Miliband faced calls to discipline the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn in north London after her comments were condemned as ‘incredibly ignorant’.
The extraordinary statement by the Oscar-winning actress came in a clash with Chris Grayling, the Work and Pensions minister. He had said many migrants had snapped up UK jobs because millions of Britons were on benefits.
But Miss Jackson pounced on his remarks, insisting the comparison was flawed. She told Mr Grayling, in front of the Work and Pensions Committee: ‘You put all those people into that box and as far as the people out there are concerned, migrant workers do something like picking strawberries, digging up potatoes. ‘It’s temporary and they tend to be students.’
A startled-looking Mr Grayling said he disagreed and told her to look across society, where she would see migrant workers engaged in a wide variety of jobs.