Bureaucratized medicine at work
Zero flexibility. Zero caring
I don’t scrape and scrabble at the coal face of the NHS very often. I was born, I suppose. My mum has great palliative care, but I’ve contributed £30,000 towards that. I have a private GP, gynaecologist, two therapists and a dentist, who charges £900 for a root-canal filling. I don’t drink, smoke or overeat. I don’t have children. I exercise every single day. I’ve been a vegetarian since the age of 11.
Let us just say that, so far, I have not been a burden. But, on Friday morning, I found I needed the NHS for the first time in about 20 years, and it let me down. Very badly.
I am catching a flight to the Horn of Africa tomorrow, to cover the famine in Somalia. In order to obtain a visa, I am required to be inoculated against hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, typhoid, diphtheria, tetanus, polio and so on. On Thursday, I called my GP, a private GP, in London’s Sloane Street.
‘Yes, Miss Jones, come in any time.’ And so I did. But my doctor could only give me the ‘live’ vaccine, yellow fever; the other jabs would have to be done the following day. The next morning, back home in Somerset, I called my local GP or ‘health centre’.
‘Hello!’ I said cheerily. ‘I am not registered with you, but I live two miles away. I wonder if you could possibly squeeze me in today to complete my jabs for travelling to Africa, and fill in my malaria prescription, as I need to start taking the tablets on Sunday.’
‘You are not registered?!’ the woman said, clearly appalled I had made her pick up the phone. ‘We can’t see you then. And we can’t fill out a prescription that hasn’t been written up by us.’
‘But I will pay for the jabs, it only takes a couple of minutes.’
‘But the nurse is fully booked. She can’t do it. I don’t even know if we have the drugs.’
‘Can you find out?’
‘Well, no. I’d have to ask her. And she can’t fit you in.’
‘But this is an emergency. I have never bothered you before in the three years I have lived here. Not with a snotty-nosed kid, not with depression, nothing. Never!’
‘But we don’t have your notes.’
‘You don’t need my notes.
Lots of people go to walk-in centres. You could telephone my doctor if you’re worried about anything.’
‘I don’t have time to do that. Why don’t you go to A&E if it’s an emergency?’
‘I’m sure they wouldn’t classify a routine jab as an emergency. I mean, it’s a global crisis. Millions of people are dying and you won’t put yourself out to allow me to be seen by a nurse, not even a doctor, for five minutes?’
Last week, the boss of the care company Castlebeck, whose Winterbourne View care home in Bristol was exposed by Panorama for practising routine abuse, used the defence that the home was understaffed, and that the employees needed more training.
Of course that is part of the problem, but it doesn’t explain all of it. I don’t need to be trained to know that it is wrong to slap someone, or ridicule them, or pin them down, or deny them privacy and respect. That is called being a human being. You should not need to be trained to do that.
I always wonder why people who don’t like people go into the caring professions. The problems in the health service and in privately-run homes are not always to do with money. Attitude is often the issue.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said last week that NHS managers were abusing the system, forcing patients to wait so they either die or go private. The report, by the Co-operation and Competition Panel, said that one trust was insisting patients wait at least 15 weeks for treatment.
Such a time frame is within the 18-week target, but many hospitals can deal with patients more quickly than that. Everyone has become very ‘jobsworth’, doing only the minimum that is required.
But when you challenge them on their attitude, as I did when I called the ‘health centre’ and spoke to the receptionist, or manager, or whatever she calls herself, they are shocked at your temerity.
They are too used to being bossy. They call the shots, not you, the patient – or at least potential patient. What would it have cost this woman on Friday morning to have said: ‘Sod the protocol – everyone needs to know about this famine, Miss Jones, so I am going to speak to the GP and see what we can do.’
But no. People no longer talk in such a way. They follow the rules. They never put themselves out. They never look at the bigger picture.
Bosses still bullying me, says ‘cross on the dashboard’ British Christian
Bizarre: To get rid of the cross on his dashboard, they took away his van. What help is an electrician without a van for his gear?
The electrician who won his battle to display a cross in his company van after his plight was highlighted by The Mail on Sunday has accused his employers of victimising him following his return to work.
Former soldier Colin Atkinson was facing the sack from the publicly-funded housing association where he has worked for 15 years before a public outcry forced his bosses to back down.
But since his return to the job in early May he says Wakefield and District Housing has reneged on its agreement with him by moving him to another workplace 16 miles away, then withdrew the company van at the centre of the row and told him to travel by bus instead. He claims the company is trying to force him out.
Mr Atkinson, 64, said: ‘I thought common sense had triumphed when the company agreed I could go back to work. But I have found there is still a lot of hostility against me, even though I have done nothing more than defend the basic rights of Christians to express their faith in public.
‘My employers have broken their promises and I believe they are trying to humiliate me or dismiss me for seeking to stand up for my rights. It is disgusting what they are doing.’
He clashed with the housing association, the fifth largest in Britain, after refusing management requests last year to remove the eight-inch cross from his van.
Senior managers had insisted that Mr Atkinson was breaching ‘diversity’ policies as well as uncompromising new rules they introduced in December last year banning employees from adorning company vehicles with personal symbols.
But following heavy criticism by religious leaders, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, the firm backtracked. Not only did they allow Mr Atkinson to display his cross on the van’s glove compartment, they also dropped all disciplinary action against him.
He was also told he could return to his three-day-a-week job as a training officer overseeing apprentices at the association’s Austin Road depot in Castleford, West Yorkshire.
However, he said he was subsequently treated coldly by one of his managers, who had been one of those who had asked him to remove his cross from his van last year. About a month after Colin returned to work, the manager disappeared from the office.
Mr Atkinson, who lives in Wakefield, said: ‘The company told me that one of the reasons the boss was off was because I was in the office, though I had never been anything but civil towards him. They asked me to move to another centre, Winston House, which was about 16 miles away. I was the only person from my department working there. I agreed reluctantly at the start of this month but it was very difficult to do my job properly there.
‘Moreover, they withdrew my company van, saying that I could travel on the bus if I needed to see apprentices working on site. I was told this was part of general financial cutbacks.’
Mr Atkinson, who has been represented by human rights lawyer Paul Diamond, said he lodged a grievance procedure against the company for breaching its agreement and a week later was asked to stay at home.
He added: ‘Meanwhile, the boss resumed work three weeks ago but I feel he should be the one who should be moved, not me. My bosses have now offered me a pay-off to retire early but a condition is that I, my wife Geraldine and all my family would be prevented from speaking out publicly. That is not my style. It would be breaching my human rights.’
Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting Mr Atkinson, said: ‘After a public outcry, Colin was allowed to return to work and to continue to display a palm cross in his van.
‘However, since the media attention died away, he has suffered continued harassment and victimisation, and Wakefield and District Housing has not honoured its agreement to allow him to return to work. It seems that WDH hoped that Colin could be bought off and go quietly. But he will not be gagged or bullied.’
Wakefield and District Housing was unavailable for comment.
Mother wins right to more than half of ex-husband’s £500,000 crash compensation payout as `her needs are greater’
A woman battling her amputee ex-husband for the lion’s share of his £500,000 compensation has won her right to over half of his money in a landmark ruling, after the Appeal court declared her and their children’s immediate needs were more important than those of the disabled man.
Lord Justice Thorpe ruled that the money Kevin Mansfield received in 1998 after losing a leg in a road smash – five years before he met his former wife Cathryn – ought to be ‘available to all his family’ and that her needs and those of their children are ‘primary’ and outweigh his own.
Mr Mansfield, 41 now faces having to sell his home, a specially adapted bungalow in Chelmsford, Essex – to meet the court’s order that he pay £285,000 to 37-year-old Cathryn, so she can buy a new home for herself and their two children.
But Lord Justice Thorpe left Mr Mansfield with a glimmer of hope by also ordering that £95,000 of the money must be paid back to him by his ex-wife if she remarries a partner who can support her, or in 14 years time, once their children have grown up.
Mr Mansfield was still a student when he lost a leg and suffered serious spinal injuries when he was hit by a car in 1992. He met his now ex-wife Cathryn five years after receiving £500,000 compensation in 1998.
The couple split up in 2008, soon after having twins, Carys and Corben – now aged four – through IVF treatment. Mr Mansfield told the court that almost the whole of the family’s wealth at the point of their divorce derived from his damages payout.
At a divorce hearing in May last year, he heard a judge rule that his compensation should be regarded as an asset of the marriage and divided accordingly. He took his case to the Appeal Court, but Richard Todd QC, for Cathryn Mansfield, insisted it made no difference that his damages payout pre-dated his marriage.
‘No part of a personal injury award is sacrosanct. No part of the award is ring fenced, not even that part awarded under the heads of pain, suffering and loss of amenity,’ Mr Todd said. ‘When he took on the responsibility of a wife, and they decided to have two children, he knew that the capital would have to be used for their benefit too.’
‘The court would regard it as illogical that, whilst earnings should be taken into account and thus be fully available for the support of the family, a sum paid by way of compensation should be treated otherwise. ‘This is capital which replaces earnings which would otherwise form part of the marital acquest. The wife has suffered real relationship-generated disadvantage.’
Turning to Mr Mansfield’s request that some of the money should be returned to him by way of a charging order over his wife’s new home, Mr Todd continued, ‘The husband talks of a charging order. Such an order would leave the parties locked together contrary to the spirit of the clean break and would also make it impossible for the wife to meet her long term reasonable needs.
‘When confronted with competing needs, the court is required to give first consideration to the needs of the children. The court carefully weighed the competing needs of the parties. The need of the husband to be properly housed, fully taking into account his disabilities, was carefully measured against the wife’s need to care for the children.’ he said.
The QC added that the wife disputed that all the assets of the marriage came from her husband’s damages award, claiming she had contributed £30,000 to buying the former marital home, plus the ‘sweat of her brow’ in carrying out a ‘great long list’ of DIY improvements to the house.
Mr Mansfield, representing himself, told the court, ‘I love the children I think the world of them. I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t care. There has been a lot of effort put into attacking me, but not a lot of due diligence. ‘For me this chapter of my life should be closed. The insurance company did not just pay out the money to me on a whim.’
Giving the court’s judgement, Lord Justice Thorpe said, ‘This appeal raises a single point of significance – the degree to which a judge in ancillary relief proceedings should reflect a substantial award for a personal injury claim. The husband received approximately half a million pounds in his personal injury claim in 1998 before he ever met the wife.’
He added: ‘I have been of a fluctuating mind during argument, but have come to the conclusion that the judge went into the conflicting needs of the parties with considerable care and found that £285,000 was the minimum needed to meet the needs of the wife and children.’
‘£285,000 may be on the high side and it might be that the wife was fortunate to receive that quantification, but it would be unprincipled for this court to interfere.’
The judge went on to impose a £95,000 charging order on Mrs Mansfield’s new home, to be paid back either when the couple’s children turn 18, or when they finish their first degree, or if she remarries a partner who can support her.
In a statement outside court after the judgement, Mrs Mansfield said that she had brought the case for the sake of their children.
‘From first to last, this case was all about our wonderful twins and how they would be housed. I am so very glad that a very wise Court of Appeal has approved the orders made by the lower courts that I should have £285,000 for housing both them and me,” she said.
Mr Todd added: ‘The judge achieved what he wanted to achieve which was the security of the roof over the children’s heads during their minority.
Commenting on the legal importance of the case, the barrister went on: ‘This case is going to be of huge importance to many other cases in future involving divorce and personal injury. ‘It will now become the authority for all such future cases and emphasises that personal injury is significant factor when looking at any damages in a divorce case.’
Murdoch Made Scapegoat For Ills of British journalism
It shows that the country is on a downward trajectory and confirms the fact that since the age of Diana, Princess of Wales, Britain has become emotive, reactive and possibly worse. We have lost our individualism and sense of fair play, replaced by a lemming-like hysterical group reality.
I am talking about what is now becoming known as Murdoch-gate, the all consuming news story about phone-hacking that has brought down one of this country’s oldest and widest-circulated newspapers, The News of the World.
The fact that the scandal has not taken on the name of the newspaper, or phone-gate or hack-gate, but has been personalised to vilify Mr Murdoch is quite telling – and quite disturbing.
Let me be clear – other than an admiration for Murdoch as one of the great captains of industry of our time, a businessman and capitalist with few peers – I have no specific brief for him. I have had only tenuous links to Mr Murdoch (talkSPORT, for instance whose chief executive at the time was Kelvin McKenzie, the former Sun editor. News Corp, I believe, was an investor, but to what extent I do not know).
Let me also be clear that I am not defending the actions of individuals, or even a possible culture – that I’m sure was not limited to The News of the World or News International titles, but probably found itself endemic – especially in the highly competitive world of tabloid journalism and even possibly the broadsheets.
There is no way of defending the indefensible act of hacking into the phone of Milly Dowler. The pursuit of a story is one thing. But those that crossed that line should be held responsible to the full extent of the law.
But there is more at play here and this has progressed from news story to an all engulfing firestorm of around the clock 24-hour coverage, fuelled by a large dose of rank hypocrisy and blown up by a storm of emotional game-play that has created a lynch-mob mentality.
We now find ourselves at a point where a newspaper is closed down in a week.
Other newspapers – who either to a lesser or greater extent may have also used dubious methods to get a story – have weighed in solely out of commercial interest.
Those on the left – such as the Independent and the Guardian are foaming at the mouth over the destruction of Murdoch – his papers and his company, for ideological reasons.
Yes, credit must be given to the Guardian for uncovering and doggedly pursuing this story in fine journalistic traditions – it goes to the heart of government and the police. But personalising it around Murdoch, or the calls for the head of Rebekah Brooks, is purely ideological.
The liberal left hate Murdoch for several reasons: He is successful, he is pro-American, he stands up for Israel, he owns Fox News and is seen and perceived as a conservative.
It is a meme of the left that they – and only they – hold the truth. Any other view is not only wrong but evil, and has no place in society. Author Jonah Goldberg wrote a book about it entitled Liberal Fascism. It really is.
In this country, a lynch-mob mentality has developed. Preening actors such as Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan are allowed to rant and rave in the most fantastical way (“all NOTW journalists are scum”… “just in it for the money”) without much challenge. Parliament, instead of addressing its own faults and the fact MPs cozied up to journalists, called for Murdoch to call off his bid for BSkyB ahead of his official bid withdrawal on Wednesday – as if a private business decision is any of their business.
The police, who corruptly passed information, are now trying to pass the blame on to Murdoch. By making Murdoch, the person, a hate figure, instead of uncovering the individuals at his papers that did wrong, we are entering a very dangerous area.
I say to the newspapers that are fomenting this campaign, be careful what you wish for as you may just get it. The free press that holds governments to account will be eroded.
I am not in favour of hacking the phones of tragic missing young girls, but I am for the vigorous pursuit of stories in the public interest, blowing the whistle on malfeasance and exposing corruption and waste in government as the News of the World did a very good job of for many years.
And those of us who, as a group, have been scapegoated in the past, should be wary when it happens again – even to Rupert Murdoch.
Violence in Britain’s badly behaved schools sees 900 suspensions PER DAY
Bad behaviour is blighting Britain’s schools with almost 900 children suspended every day for attacking or verbally abusing their teachers and classmates, new figures show. Every school day 13 pupils are permanently expelled for attacks and abuse and 878 are suspended in England’s primary and secondary schools.
The figures, from the Department for Education, include physical assaults, racist abuse and threatening behaviour. In total, they show school children were suspended on 166,900 occasions for assault or abuse. And pupils were expelled on 2,460 occasions.
And the level of violence in primary schools was also high with children aged four and under suspended 1,210 times and expelled 20 times.
Across all of England’s primary, secondary and special schools, boys were around four times more likely to be expelled than girls, with boys accounting for 78 per cent of expulsions.
The suspension rate was also almost three times higher for boys than for girls, with boys accounting for 75 per cent of all temporary exclusions.
Overall, the statistics, for 2009/10, show a slight drop from the previous year.
The most common reason for exclusion was persistent disruptive behaviour, which accounted for almost one in four, 23.8 per cent of suspensions and nearly a third, 29 per cent, of expulsions.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: ‘With thousands of pupils being excluded for persistent disruption and violent or abusive behaviour we remain concerned that weak discipline remains a significant problem in too many of our schools and classrooms.
‘Tackling poor behaviour and raising academic standards are key priorities for the coalition Government. ‘We will back head teachers in excluding persistently disruptive pupils, which is why we are removing barriers which limit their authority.’
Are we on the brink of REAL reform in Britain’s schools?
A year ago, when the Coalition was only a few months old, it looked as though Education Secretary Michael Gove might fail in his brave mission to dramatically improve the British schools system.
Back then, stubborn civil servants openly resisted attempts at much-needed reform. Gove also suffered huge embarrassment when he tried to reform Labour’s chaotic and wasteful school building refurbishment programme, after muddling up some of the names of the schools involved.
As criticism rained down, it was to the eternal shame of his government colleagues that few offered Gove public support as he courageously took on the Leftist educational establishment.
The powerful teachers’ unions, sensing ministerial weakness, were ready for the kill. Gove’s Labour shadow, the ever-combative Ed Balls, was merciless in his mockery.
The opprobrium directed at Gove, whose geeky image was brutally ridiculed, was so intense that even some of his supporters in the Tory Party feared he might not survive.
But that was a year ago. Since then, Gove has done much more than merely cling to office. With his ambitious programme of reforms to improve standards and liberate schools from the dead hand of council control, he has become the great potential success in a government that does not have much to boast about.
Under his stewardship — mostly unheralded, with the main political focus recently concentrating on the sick state of the economy and phone-hacking — a promising revolution is happening in secondary education.
The academy programme — inherited from Labour — that gives schools more freedom to run their own affairs has been vastly expanded. When the Coalition government came to power last year, there were only 203 academies out of more than 3,000 secondary schools in England and Wales. Now there are 801, with hundreds more expected to become academies this autumn.
Academies are run by independent charitable trusts, which get sponsorship from local businesses and charities. Their governing bodies have more scope to hire teachers of their choice and can decide on pay and conditions.
In this way, they can run their schools without being dictated to by bureaucrats in local authorities. They can also apply to take over failing nearby schools.
By the end of this parliament (in 2015), it is estimated that as many as 80 per cent of all the country’s secondary schools will have become academies. Breaking the power of local authorities that have for years run our schools so incompetently will be a massive achievement.
For too long these wasteful monopolies have been allowed to let Britain plummet down the international league tables.
Of course, reducing the corrosive power of councils over education has been the aim of successive governments.
Gove also wants to overhaul the national curriculum to bring a return to academic rigour in subjects such as maths.
A tough new head is soon to be appointed to Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, and the Government’s no-nonsense adviser on behaviour, Charlie Taylor (who believes in the importance of uniform and strict standards), is drawing up plans to help struggling schools.
But one of the simplest reforms has the potential to have the biggest effect: the introduction of the English baccalaureate, which measures how many pupils get a C-grade or better in five core traditional subjects: English, maths, a foreign language, history or geography and a science.
The so-called ‘E-Bacc’ has been bitterly resisted by elements of the teaching profession, who preferred to steer pupils towards softer subjects.
Together these are the most important set of education reforms introduced by any government for decades. It is long overdue. For all the numerous betrayals perpetrated on the public by politicians in the post-war era, few can equal the appalling mess made of education.
Ironically, the casualties of a pernicious culture, which discriminates against grammar schools and the rigour of absolute standards, were those children from deprived backgrounds whom those on the Left wanted to help. The devastating result has been a decline in social mobility.
But if this process is to be properly reversed and meritocracy restored, the Government will have to go further than Gove’s reforms.
Talent must be encouraged regardless of background and ministers must allow a return to some form of selection — enabling academies to choose pupils on the grounds of academic ability.
But such a revolution is unlikely given the opposition of the Leftist Lib Dems who prop up the Coalition.
David Cameron has a poor track record on the issue, having, in opposition, crudely accused those calling for the creation of more grammar schools as ‘delusional’.
The biggest irony is that most of the Tory and Lib Dem ministers who are blocking a return to selection (Cameron, Osborne and Clegg) went to selective top public schools. But at least under Michael Gove, a proper start in the right direction has been made.
Raw climate data finally disgorged after lawsuit
Despite the huffing and puffing below I can see no legitimate reason why it was EVER withheld. Is the weather a secret?
It’s going to be interesting to see how “raw” the data is. Some comparisons with independent records will be possible and past such comparisons have revealed huge manipulations. The Warmists below are gearing up for that
Anyone can now view for themselves the raw data that was at the centre of last year’s “climategate” scandal.
Temperature records going back 150 years from 5113 weather stations around the world were yesterday released to the public by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. The only records missing are from 19 stations in Poland, which refused to allow them to be made public.
“We released [the dataset] to dispel the myths that the data have been inappropriately manipulated, and that we are being secretive,” says Trevor Davies, the university’s pro-vice-chancellor for research. “Some sceptics argue we must have something to hide, and we’ve released the data to pull the rug out from those who say there isn’t evidence that the global temperature is increasing.”
Hand it over
The university were ordered to release data by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, following a freedom-of-information request for the raw data from researchers Jonathan Jones of the University of Oxford and Don Keiller of Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK.
Davies says that the university initially refused on the grounds that the data is not owned by the CRU but by the national meteorological organisations that collect the data and share it with the CRU.
When the CRU’s refusal was overruled by the information commissioner, the UK Met Office was recruited to act as a go-between and obtain permission to release all the data.
Poland refused, and the information commissioner overruled Trinidad and Tobago’s wish for the data it supplied on latitudes between 30 degrees north and 40 degrees south to be withheld, as it had been specifically requested by Jones and Keiller in their FOI request and previously shared with other academics.
The end result is that all the records are there, except for Poland’s. Davies’s only worry is that the decision to release the Trinidad and Tobago data against its wishes may discourage the open sharing of data in the future. Other research organisations may from now on be reluctant to pool data they wish to be kept private.
Thomas Peterson, chief scientist at the National Climatic Data Center of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and president of the Commission for Climatology at the World Meteorological Organization, agrees there might be a cost to releasing the data.
“I have historic temperature data from automatic weather stations on the Greenland ice sheet that I was able to obtain from Denmark only because I agreed not to release them,” he says. “If countries come to expect that sharing of any data with anyone will eventually lead to strong pressure for them to fully release those data, will they be less willing to collaborate in the future?”
Davies is confident that genuine and proper analysis of the raw data will reproduce the same incontrovertible conclusion – that global temperatures are rising. “The conclusion is very robust,” he says, explaining that the CRU’s dataset of land temperatures tally with those from other independent research groups around the world, including those generated by the NOAA and NASA.
“Should people undertake analyses and come up with different conclusions, the way to present them is through publication in peer-reviewed journals, so we know it’s been through scientific quality control,” says Davies.
No convincing some people
Other mainstream researchers and defenders of the consensus are not so confident that the release will silence the sceptics. “One can hope this might put an end to the interminable discussion of the CRU temperatures, but the experience of GISTEMP – another database that’s been available for years – is that the criticisms will continue because there are some people who are never going to be satisfied,” says Gavin Schmidt of Columbia University in New York.
“Sadly, I think this will just lead to a new round of attacks on CRU and the Met Office,” says Bob Ward, communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. “Sceptics will pore through the data looking for ways to criticise the processing methodology in an attempt to persuade the public that there’s doubt the world has warmed significantly.”
The CRU and its leading scientist, Phil Jones, were at the centre of the so-called “climategate” storm in 2009 when the unit was accused of withholding and manipulating data. It was later cleared of the charge.