Got an unusual illness? The NHS can’t help you and won’t pay for anyone else to do so
One would think that it was precisely in such a situation that health insurance would be most needed. But Britain’s compulsory health insurance entitles you only to the most basic level of care
A toddler suffering from a fatal condition that has left him with dozens of cysts developing on and inside his organs is just one of 500 people in the world to be affected.
Ethan Moss, aged two, was just nine months old when he was diagnosed with lymphangiomatosis which causes tumours to grow inside his body.
With treatment currently unavailable in the UK and doctors predicting he wont live past his teenage years, his parents are trying to raise £70,000 to take him to the U.S. for treatment.
Nick and Kelly Moss from Winscombe, Somerset, said their son underwent dozens of tests before they were given the devastating news. Father-of-three Nick, 39, said: ‘When we found out we were just shell shocked. ‘It really didn’t sink in. But we went home and did a lot of research and we understand a lot more now.
‘It is just horrifying to think that your child is going to die prematurely but we truly believe that we can make a difference to his life.’
Doctors first realised there was something wrong with Ethan when his 20 week scan showed abnormality and gave him just a 50-50 chance of survival. He was born in March 2009 weighing 8lb 7oz and underwent months of gruelling tests at Bristol Children’s Hospital.
Seven months later, he was diagnosed with lymphangiomatosis and doctors broke the tragic news that there is currently no cure in the UK for the condition.
Former soldier Mr Moss said: ‘They don’t know exactly how many cysts are in his torso but it is around 20 to 30. ‘There are clumps of cysts on his organs, in his organs and around his organs but thankfully he is not suffering at the moment. ‘If you look at him he is just a healthy, happy, inquisitive child but underneath he has all of these cysts.’
It is not thought that the condition is a genetic as all of Ethan’s brothers and sisters are healthy. Dozens of cysts have been growing inside Ethan’s body ever since he was born and are now inside his left lung, on his oesophagus and on his pulmonary artery which carries blood from the heart to the lungs.
Currently, his cysts are growing in accordance with the rest of his body but there are fears they could multiply and grow more than that, causing life threatening problems. There are also worries they could burst, causing a fluid which can turn concrete-like to seep out.
Nick and Kelly hope that they will be able to take him over to America, where specialists can examine him and potentially trial him on a new drug which has had some success. To raise the funds for the trip, Nick, a former soldier in the Royal Greenjackets, is setting off an a gruelling 42-day, 1,500-mile military-style march around the country later this month. He will carry a 50lb army rucksack known as a Burgen as hopes to raise as much awareness of lymphangiomatosis.
He said: ‘I am actually excited about it and can’t wait to get started. I have deliberately made it really tough to raise as much awareness as possible. Nick will be setting off from Land’s End on July 24 and is planning return to his home town of Winscombe six weeks later on September 4.
He will then walk up the west coast of Britain to Inverness and then trek the east side of the country before going back to Winscombe.
Hospitals short of 4,700 midwives as booming birth rate puts mothers and babies at risk
A desperate shortage of midwives is putting babies and mothers at risk, figures show. Maternity units were forced to turn away nearly 1,000 mothers last year – nearly always because of understaffing or a lack of beds. At least 4,700 extra midwives are needed in England and Wales, the Royal College of Midwives says.
The crisis comes as the birth rate is soaring. Last year there was one baby born in Britain every 40 seconds – the highest rate for nearly 20 years. In London alone, 17 mothers have died needlessly in the last couple of years because of ‘substandard treatment’.
According to data gathered under the Freedom of Information Act, maternity units were forced to close temporarily to new admissions 1,055 times last year. At least 927 women were turned away, the survey of 171 Health Trusts and Boards found.
Cathy Warwick, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘To turn up at the place you were expecting to have your baby and be told “well I’m sorry you can’t come here, you’ve got to go down the road to a different unit”, I just think that’s not a high standard of care and it should not be what we’re giving women of this country.’
The survey also showed that there is a postcode lottery for maternity services, with parts of the country suffering a much worse shortage than others.
In England, 5 per cent of midwife jobs were unfilled last year. And in some London trusts, the rate was as high as 20 per cent. But the average vacancy rate in Wales and Northern Ireland was below 1 per cent, and in Scotland it was only just above 1 per cent.
The figures were uncovered for tonight’s edition of BBC1’s Panorama. The programme was also given access to an as yet unpublished independent inquiry commissioned by NHS London into an increase in maternal deaths in the capital. It looked at 42 deaths over 18 months from January 2009 and found that substandard treatment was a major factor in 17 cases.
The report found some maternity units struggling to cope and said: ‘Escalation of services was noted to be an issue when units appeared to have difficulty coping with the clinical workload; several deaths occurred when activity in a maternity unit was high and one-to-one care could not be delivered’.
NHS London’s chief nurse, Trish Morris-Thompson, said: ‘The report indicates that care less than optimum was given and death did occur, however we need to look in the context of those 200,000 births in that period of time. ‘A lot of women with very sick poorly conditions were cared for and a lot of babies were delivered very safely.’
Health Minister Paul Burstow said: ‘Safety is paramount in the NHS and all mothers and their babies should expect and receive consistently excellent maternity care. ‘There is a record number of midwives entering training this year and the number of consultants in obstetrics and gynaecology has increased from two years ago. ‘We will continue to work with the Royal College of Midwives to make sure we have an appropriately resourced and skilled maternity workforce based on the most up-to-date evidence.’
Losing weight on the diet? It won’t last
More evidence of the futility of the obesity “war”. The war is about control, not health. Controlling people gets a Leftist’s rocks off
Scientists have come to a depressing conclusion for dieters: once you are fat, chances are you will stay so. They have found that while diets may help in the short term, the vast majority of dieters just put the weight back on afterwards.
Once people start to pile on the pounds in middle age their weight tends to continue “relentlessly upwards”, according to a long-term study of 25,000 men and women.
Rather than concentrate efforts on diets, health campaigners should focus their efforts on stopping people getting fat in the first place, concluded the team from the Government-funded Medical Research Council.
Their work found that, while 12 million try a diet every year, only 10 per cent manage to lose a significant amount of weight. Of those that do, most will put it back on within a year.
They followed the lives of 5,362 men and women born in 1946, and 20,000 more born in 1958, who are part of the MRC’s ongoing National Survey of Health and Development.
Rebecca Hardy, from the MRC, told The Sunday Times: “Both groups began increasing in weight in the 1980s and since then people have been increasing in mass all through life.
“For men it goes up steadily through life. For women it starts slowly and accelerates in the mid-thirties. Once people become overweight they continue relentlessly upwards. They hardly ever go back down. “A few lose weight but very few get back to normal. The best policy is to prevent people becoming overweight.”
However, the team also said that while diets might not make much of an impact on the weighing scales, they often helped make people healthier by getting them to eat better foods and take more exercise.
About six in 10 adult Britons are either overweight or obese, a figure which is steadily rising.
Surge in middle class dinner ladies expected in Britain
Another reflection of the deperate struggle many British parents have to get their kids into a decent school
Top schools could see a surge in middle class dinner ladies as parents exploit new admissions policy loophole, a government adviser has warned.
Planned changes to admissions policy which will see children of school staff moved to the front of the queue could be exploited by sharp-elbowed parents desperate to win places at oversubscribed schools, it was claimed.
Chris Waterman, who helped draft the current admissions policy, said parents would go to “any length” to get their children into their first-choice school and would target any loophole in the new rules.
But parents already in part-time employment at schools said having their children at the school where they work was a fair reward for hard-working mothers.
Huma Imam, who works as a lunchtime supervisor and teaching assistant at Brookland Junior School, Hertfordshire, where her daughter Hibah is a pupil, said: “I think it is a good idea, for me it is easier. “Of course it is a bad thing if people leave their job as soon as their child is in the school…I work very hard but I like doing it. “I have worked here for four years and I love working with the children. After my daughter goes to secondary school I am going to stay here because I like the school and it has given me so much.”
Under the draft admissions rules, which were announced by the government in May, schools wishing to offer priority to the children of staff must define clearly which employees are eligible and exactly how their children will benefit. Heads are free to decide which of their staff qualify, with no fixed rules on how long the members of staff must have been employed by the school.
Mr Waterman, a former chief executive of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said this meant parents employed by the school could quit as soon as their child had been awarded a place. He told the Times Educational Supplement: “Unless schools very tightly define what staff qualify then it could be any job for any period. “If a non-working parent wants to get a place for their child in an oversubscribed school they might only need to work part-time as dinner lady for a few weeks.”
Parents have already shown themselves willing to pay heavily inflated house prices to fall within the catchment areas of popular schools, and council staff have reportedly been offered bribes to manipulate waiting lists.
The current system prevents schools from prioritising the children of staff unless the school has a “demonstrable skill shortage”. Ministers believe this is making it too hard for some schools to recruit high-quality staff, but in a new report on the draft rules Mr Waterman said the new measures were unlikely to solve the problem.
He wrote that it was unlikely a needy school struggling to attract staff would be oversubscribed, or that any parent would want their child to attend the school.
The broader range of admissions policies caused by the increasing number of academies is making it harder for parents to navigate the system and the new rules will “set back fair access to schools by at least 30 years”, he added.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We make no apologies for making it easier for schools to recruit and retain teachers and other staff. It is down to schools whether they use this power – and which staff to include if they do.”
Why we should give the cold shoulder to a BBC Trust Review that argues the broadcaster should ignore global-warming ‘deniers’
Whether the staff of the BBC, facing budget cuts and the loss of 3,000 jobs, will consider last week’s BBC Trust Review of the corporation’s science coverage as money well spent is doubtful: according to a spokeswoman, it cost £140,000. Unfortunate as this is, the Review’s wider impact is rather more pernicious.
On a superficial reading, the Review, by the London University biologist Steve Jones, looks dull and bureaucratic. But beneath the surface it is an attempt to shut down debate and impose ideological conformity on a highly controversial issue – the extent and likely consequences of man-made global warming.
Why Professor Jones was thought a suitable person to conduct the Review at all is not a trivial question. Having long toiled in obscurity on the genetic makeup of snails, Jones owes his sudden metamorphosis into a ‘media tart’ (to use his own phrase) entirely to the BBC, which chose him to deliver the Reith Lectures in 1991.
Numerous further radio and TV appearances followed, and with them book sales of which he could not previously have dreamt.
It is also worth asking why the Trust decided to blow its money (a little under half of which went on Jones’s fee) on examining its science reporting: there are surely other areas of public policy significance – immigration, for example – where a casual viewer might conclude that BBC coverage can be self-censoringly selective.
Such subjects are uncomfortable, and for that very reason, an objective analysis of the way the corporation handles them is arguably overdue.
But the real problem with the Jones Review is its bewilderingly misleading content. Jones writes that his own knowledge is ‘remarkably broad, but fantastically shallow’.
Presumably he meant this as a joke and yesterday the BBC Trust spokeswoman insisted it is ‘a major piece of work, involving extensive research, consultation and content analysis’. If that is what the Trust believes, it has been fooled.
For its first 65 pages, the Review attains a tedium so intense it might be self-parody, and is mainly focused on the Byzantine BBC hierarchy. Then, under the heading ‘Man-made global warming: a microcosm of false balance?’ the document wakes up, and Jones’s previously anodyne prose is suddenly flooded with passion.
Interviewed last week when the Review was published, this was the subject on which Jones dwelt, and it seems clear he sees this as the main point of the exercise.
The report contains a startling statistic: 46 per cent of all BBC science news stories deal with global warming, although, as Jones writes, this massively over-represents the tiny number of researchers who work on it compared to the thousands working in other fields.
But this grotesque skewing of emphasis is not Jones’s beef. His problem is that the BBC gives far too much space ‘to the views of a determined but deluded minority’ – those he terms climate change ‘deniers’, whose views, he writes, should be seen as on a par with the conspiracy theories that claim 9/11 was a ‘US government plot’.
Such individuals Jones sees as victims of a psychological ‘syndrome’. Unfortunately, he goes on, awareness of the anathema such heresy represents has not yet ‘percolated’ throughout the BBC.
With disgust, he cites a Panorama broadcast in one of last year’s bitter freezes, which had the temerity to ask whether the science that predicted an imminent warm Armageddon was any longer valid.
In Jones’s view, this is ‘an exhausted subject’, where only ‘the pretence of debate’ remains.
The Beeb must now accept that ‘the real discussion has moved on to what should be done to mitigate climate change’ – by which, one presumes, he means vastly expensive energy taxes and investment in ‘renewables’ such as wind-farms.
Not the least surprising aspect of this thesis is the rarity with which BBC news correspondents do challenge warmist orthodoxy. Panorama may have subjected the science to scrutiny but I recall a TV news piece shown in the same cold snap by David Shukman.
Filmed in the snow at Kew Gardens, he solemnly informed viewers that however cold they were feeling, this was merely ‘weather’.
Climate, he warned, was quite different, and was still warming inexorably. There was no real news story – merely the reinforcement of a familiar BBC message: that without drastic measures, future generations will fry.
Meanwhile, Jones is highly selective with the data he cites to support his position. Yes, as he says, the past decade has been the warmest globally in recent history (though the early Middle Ages and the Roman era may have been as warm).
It is also true CO2 levels have risen since the start of the industrial revolution, a phenomenon that has probably caused warming by half a degree.
But the problem for the warming catastrophists, which despite a recent spate of peer-reviewed papers Jones totally ignores, is that the world temperature trend since 1995 has been flat, with no evidence of warming at all.
The computer models in which he evidently places his faith did not predict this, and cannot account for it.
According to Jones, the ‘pessimists’ who believe the world will warm by up to five degrees this century – ten times as much as in the past 200 years – are ‘in the ascendant’, something the BBC should reflect.
But who is the ‘denier’ here? Finally Jones resorts to an argument that is truly laughable: ‘To bring matters up to date, 2011 saw the warmest April in Central England for 350 years.’
Maybe it did. But January and December 2010 were exceptionally cold and July 2011 has been pretty chilly too. To draw a conclusion from one month’s weather in a single place is, as he must know, simply dishonest.
But this is not the only dishonesty in his Review. The only ‘deniers’ he names are Lord Lawson and his colleagues from the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
To be sure, Lawson and his colleagues are sceptics – they do not accept doom is round the corner if we don’t enact self-impoverishing emission cuts. But they make their arguments with reference to peer-reviewed literature – something notably absent from Jones’s Review.
And they are in no sense ‘deniers’, as their writings make clear. ‘It’s scandalous to claim we deny that there has been global warming due to man-made carbon dioxide,’ says Foundation director Benny Peiser. ‘What is this really about? Is it simply an attempt to get us off the air?’
A few weeks ago, I listened to an eloquent speech by the Czech president Vaclav Klaus, who spent much of his life under the ideological yoke of communist repression.
Now he saw old patterns re-emerging: ‘The arrogance with which global warming activists and their media allies express themselves is something I know well from the past.’
The attempt to insist on an iron ‘consensus’ was undermining democracy and free debate.
Running through the Jones Review is a bizarre and anti-scientific assumption: that there is an orthodox scientific truth which the BBC should strive to reflect, and which – at least in the case of global warming – is no longer subject to revision.
As a scientist of four decades’ standing, Jones surely knows this to be false. Science is a process, not revealed dogma, and indeed, Jones’s Review even describes the way in which almost 100 years ago the laws of Newtonian physics were suddenly swept aside by Einstein, relativity and quantum mechanics.
Yet when it comes to climate, he seems to want BBC coverage to be subject to the kind of quasi-Stalinist thought-policing to which Klaus so strongly objects. To let that come to pass would be to confirm the Czech president’s worst misgivings.
UK Minister: Denying Climate (Hoax) Deal Like Denying Hitler
We could probably term this as a jumping the shark moment, yet, the anthropogenic global warming movement/cult jumped the shark about a decade or so. Unfortunately, the show hasn’t yet been cancelled
LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) – World leaders who oppose a global agreement to tackle climate change are making a similar mistake to the one made by politicians who tried to appease Adolf Hitler before World War Two, a British government minister said on Thursday.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Huhne said governments must redouble efforts to find a successor to the United Nations Kyoto Protocol on emissions, although it was unlikely that a breakthrough would be made at a conference later this year in Durban in South Africa.
Holding the conference in yet another sunny vacation spot? How much CO2 and methane will be generated from all those private jets, limo’s, and running air conditioners (they are wisely holding it in a place that is supposed to be hot this year.)
In a speech urging countries to keep pressing for a climate deal, Huhne evoked the memory of British wartime leader Winston Churchill and the fight against Nazi Germany led by Hitler.
“Climate change is getting less political attention now than it did two years ago. There is a vacuum, and the forces of low ambition are looking to fill it,” he said. “Giving in to the forces of low ambition would be an act of climate appeasement.
“This is our Munich moment,” he added, referring to the Munich Agreement, a 1938 pact that gave Hitler land in the former Czechoslovakia as part of a failed attempt to persuade him to abandon further territorial expansion.
First, if you have to call it climate change because you want to blame mankind for everything that happens, then your science has already lost. Second, if you refuse to practice what you preach, you shouldn’t be surprised that your pet cult is dying a painful death. Third, if you have to evoke the memory of a liberal giving Hitler what he wanted to prop up your failed cult, you should probably have a good lie down, because I have an unused slap in my pocket with your name on it. (a few British sayings I get from Simon Green books) Fourth, if you have to use fear, rather than rational, well thought out, well researched, scientific facts, you might just be part of a cult.
And there’s still nothing but supposition that mankind, as opposed to 4 billion years of empirical evidence from nature, has caused the warming which started in 1850.
Brace yourself for the ‘cultural Olympics’ an orgy of politically correct and expensive nonsense
The most eagerly anticipated event in next year’s Olympics — the men’s 100m final — will be over in less than ten seconds. The entire Games, which begin almost exactly a year from now, will last only 17 days.
But there is a sideshow to the sporting events that has already been groaning on for three years — even though few people have heard of it — and which will not finish until after the last athlete has returned home.
If you haven’t yet come across the Cultural Olympiad, it won’t be long before you receive an invitation to watch this ‘cultural feast’: it might be in the form of schoolchildren waving flags, a large inflatable object floating down a river or some other event supposed to ‘inspire creativity’ and ‘leave a lasting legacy for the arts in Britain’.
The arts, we are always being told, have never had it so tough. Certainly, there might be some truth in that if you are running an orchestra or a much-loved local theatre, hard hit by the recent Arts Council cuts. But if you want to get together a few hundred people to fly kites and explore issues of migration and global warming, there seems to be no shortage of cash.
In 2009, the Cultural Olympiad received £16 million of Lottery money, much of which has been spent already. There is also funding from private sponsors including BP and BT, and the taxpayer-funded Arts Council, which has 13 so-called ‘creative programmers’ — each overseeing a region of the UK — who have decided which projects to support in the run-up to the Games.
But what are we getting for all this money? (And we shouldn’t forget that when the Lottery was established it was supposed to fund useful social projects, not fritter away cash on politically correct nonsense.)
In the West Midlands, the money is being spent on a giant puppet of Lady Godiva that will be driven to London ‘dressed for her journey into the 21st century in a coat crafted by local artists chronicling the West Midlands industrial and engineering heritage’. All very splendid, I am sure, except that it misses the whole point of the story of Lady Godiva, who rode naked through the streets of Coventry.
That aside, no one seems to have the first idea of what this has to do with the Olympics.
In London, more money has been spent as part of the Cultural Olympiad installing LED displays on the roofs of bus shelters, apparently ‘to breathe new life into all corners of the capital, transforming the previously unloved tops of bus shelters into a London-wide digital canvas’. Just one problem: unless you happen to live or work in a tall building with a bus stop directly outside it, you won’t be able to see any of these ‘installations’.
In East Anglia, a series of large-scale events involving as many people as possible will be recorded to create a feature film ‘exploring the themes of trade, defence and migration’. For one of the events, the artists are looking for volunteers to spend 12 hours on the beach at Felixstowe, repeatedly raising and lowering the flags of the 205 countries taking part in the Olympics. I can’t wait.
Meanwhile, a performance artist will be towing a portable ‘island’ around the coast of South-West England, exploring ‘issues of climate change and land ownership’.
In Scotland, an artist is busy cutting down trees to create a football field. It will be used to play two matches between teams of immigrants to Britain in order to celebrate diversity — before the pitch is abandoned so the trees can grow back. At least this artist doesn’t appear to be claiming to be exploring ‘issues of climate change’. But he would certainly do the environment and the public purse a favour by leaving his chainsaw at home.
The Cultural Olympiad was not dreamed up by the organising committee of London 2012. Any city that holds the Games is required by the Olympic charter to include cultural events.
Pierre de Coubertin, the Frenchman who founded the modern Olympics, insisted the Games should include a programme of arts ‘to serve to promote harmonious relations, mutual understanding and friendship among the participants and others attending the Olympic Games’. Between 1912 and 1952, there were even gold medals awarded for architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture.
One of the most unlikely Olympians — and one which the International Olympic Committee would probably rather forget — was Adolf Hensel, winner of the gold medal for town-planning in the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. He won the honour for designing the stadium in Nuremburg, which was later used for Hitler’s rallies.
London 2012 will take the cultural side of the Games to new levels of daftness. You don’t get to be part of the Cultural Olympiad just by painting, singing or dancing; there has to be a fatuous political message thrown in.
There will be a Shakespeare Festival, but needless to say it is one in which the play Coriolanus has been ‘re-imagined in the era of 24-hour news, celebrity culture and a new global polity’.
Also, Romeo And Juliet ‘finds new purchase in the soil of contemporary Iraq, when sectarian strife between Sunni and Shia, ignited and fuelled from outside, has left a population exhausted by a cycle of violence and revenge’. It’s fine if the Iraqi theatre company which is putting on this show wants to produce a play about modern-day Iraq, but why does it have to try to ride on Shakespeare’s back?
The Cultural Olympiad is full of the cliches found in so much publicly funded modern art. There is a competition in which young people work with professional film-makers — a perfectly good idea in itself, except that one of the winning entries inevitably features a sullen youth in a hoodie, holding a spray can and moaning about being misunderstood.
The Cultural Olympiad is a bit like the Millennium Dome: in trying to be everything to everyone it will end up creating nothing of any value.
Surely the biggest cultural legacy of the Olympics ought to be a new arts venue or two for exhibitions and concerts in an area of London without such a facility. Yet so far, the Olympic Legacy Company — which oversees the future of the Games’ facilities — has no firm plans to reuse any of the Olympic venues for the arts.
Those that will not be used for sports are due to be demolished, while the main stadium is destined to become yet another football stadium.
Still, this huge arts project probably can’t turn out worse than the Athens Olympics. There, the highlight of the Cultural Olympiad was supposed to be an art exhibition called Outlook. It turned out to be little more than attention-seeking filth, with a painting juxtaposing a crucifix and an erect penis, and a photograph of a man apparently copulating with a water melon.
There is one genuine cultural legacy of the Athens Olympics: the badminton venue was taken over by an American director to become a successful and self-sustaining theatre. In keeping with the farce that was the 2004 Olympics, however, the Greek government wants to demolish it.
Judging from the ticket sales, the London Olympics looks set to be a great success. But that’s certainly not thanks to the Cultural Olympiad. The world’s greatest sporting event would be better without a third-rate arts festival attached.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up — on his usual vastly “incorrect” themes of race, genes, IQ etc. He is particularly pleased at the death of that painter of ugliness, Lucian Freud.