‘Devastating divide’: English patients THREE times more likely to get cancer drugs than those in Wales and Scotland

A ‘devastating divide’ has opened up between England, Scotland and Wales when it comes to accessing cancer drugs, campaigners say. People in England are much more likely to get drugs their doctors think might work for them than those living in Scotland or Wales, according to analysis by the Rarer Cancers Foundation (RCF).

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the RCF gathered data from health trusts in England on the types of drugs approved through the Government’s cancer drugs fund. The fund, worth £200 million a year, was set up for patients in England to access drugs approved by their doctors but which have not been given the go-ahead for widespread use on the NHS.

The data was then compared with exceptional case approvals for the same drugs in Scotland and Wales.

The analysis suggests that patients in England are three times more likely to access key cancer drugs as those in Scotland, and five times as likely as those in Wales.

Andrew Wilson, chief executive of the RCF, said: ‘The cancer drugs fund is great news for people in England and has already benefited thousands of patients. ‘However, a devastating divide has opened up with Scotland and Wales.

‘A cancer drug does not become any less effective simply because it is prescribed on the other side of a border. ‘Nor does a patient’s need become any less pressing. ‘The NHS should be there when you need it the most, regardless of where you live. ‘People in Scotland and Wales will want to know why their chances of accessing a life-extending cancer drug are so much lower than their neighbours in England.’

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said the report would be carefully considered.

‘Scotland has robust, equitable and transparent arrangements for the introduction of newly-licensed clinically and cost-effective medicines through the Scottish Medicines Consortium and Healthcare Improvement Scotland which operate independently from the Scottish Government,’ she added.

‘These focus on equity of access to newly-licensed drugs throughout Scotland, on the basis of their clinical and cost-effectiveness.

‘These arrangements include flexibility for additional factors to be taken into account in prescribing decisions, such as opportunities for local clinically-led consideration of SMC ‘not recommended’ medicines for individual patients in certain circumstances.’


Depraved but not deprived


Unlike many of my comrades in the punditry game, I don’t do a lot of TV. But I’m currently promoting my latest doom-mongering bestseller so I’m spending more time than usual on the telly circuit. This week I was on the BBC’s current-affairs flagship “Newsnight.” My moment in the spotlight followed a report on the recent riots in English cities, in the course of which an undercover reporter interviewed various rioters from Manchester who’d had a grand old time setting their city ablaze and expressed no remorse over it. There then followed a studio discussion, along the usual lines. The host introduced a security guard who’d fought for Queen and country in Afghanistan and Bosnia and asked whether he sympathized with his neighbors. He did. When you live in an “impoverished society,” he said, “people do what they have to do to survive.”

When we right-wing madmen make our twice-a-decade appearance on mainstream TV, we’re invariably struck by how narrow are the bounds of acceptable discourse in polite society. But in this instance I was even more impressed by how liberal pieties triumph even over the supposed advantages of the medium. Television, we’re told, favors strong images – Nixon sweaty and unshaven, Kennedy groomed and glamorous, etc. But, in this instance, the security guard’s analysis, shared by three-quarters of the panel, was entirely at odds with the visual evidence: There was no “impoverished society.” The preceding film had shown a neat subdivision of pleasant red-brick maisonettes set in relatively landscaped grounds. There was grass, and it looked maintained. Granted, it was not as bucolic as my beloved New Hampshire, but, compared to the brutalized concrete bunkers in which the French and the Swedes entomb their seething Muslim populations, it was nothing to riot over. Nonetheless, someone explained that these riotous Mancunian youth were growing up in “deprivation,” and the rioters themselves seemed disposed to agree. Like they say in “West Side Story,” “I’m depraved on account of I’m deprived.” We’ve so accepted the correlation that we don’t even notice that they’re no longer deprived, but they are significantly more depraved.


Why is evil paedophile ‘The Beast of Sligo’ free to roam British streets despite being jailed for 238 years?

One of Britain’s most notorious paedophiles – dubbed the Beast of Sligo- is back on the streets and free to mingle with children and families. Irishman Joseph McColgan, 69 was spotted among families at a car boot sale in Plymouth, Devon

Evil McColgan was jailed for a record 238 years for repeatedly raping and beating his own children. He served just nine years before he was released. But in June 2010 when he was locked up again for 30 months for possessing child pornography. He has now been released early on licence before serving even half of his latest sentence.

McColgan is staying at the Lawson House bail hostel in Plymouth – directly opposite one of the city’s main colleges. But he was tight lipped about his future and whether he would be staying in Devon – where he lived for some time after being released from Dublin’s Arbour Hill jail. He said: ‘I cannot talk about it. I am on parole. ‘I don’t know where I will live. I cannot talk to you.’

Among other offences, McColgan attempted to force his then nine-year-old son to have sex with his seven-year-old daughter. He also abused all four of his children with cattle prods and burning them.

But the evil paedophile was seen happily chatting to youngsters and adults at the car boot sale. He spoke with one young man as he tried to buy some spanners for his old bike and looked at stalls selling children’s toys. Shoppers looking for a bargain were unaware of McColgan’s notoriety as he potted around on his own before cycling back to the bail hostel.

Before his latest jail term handed out at Exeter Crown Court in June 2010, McColgan had been living in a small block of flats in the seaside town of Exmouth, east Devon. His home was yards away from a primary school and his immediate neighbours were unaware of his vile past – along with parents of young children who played in the street nearby. They were shocked when they discovered who he was and his horrific offending.

When Judge Graham Cottle jailed him at Exeter, he told McColgan: ‘You are quite clearly a very dangerous man. ‘You are a danger to children and upon your release I very much hope that you are supervised to the highest possible level by the authorities. ‘If that is not put in place then children will continue to be at serious risk from you and your activities.’

Detective Constable Steve Harris, of Devon and Cornwall police, said McColgan was an arrogant man who could not accept his offending.

Yesterday McColgan was true to form branding those who made claims against him that he was grooming or watching children as ‘liars’.

A National Offender Management Service spokesperson told the Mail Online today:’Sex offenders who are released from prison on licence will be supervised by the Probation Service and police in the community, such offenders are subject to strict licence conditions and can be recalled to custody if they breach their licence conditions.’


Nigerian fraudster allowed to stay in Britain under human rights laws

A foreign criminal who was jailed for his role in a £1 million benefits fraud has used human rights laws to avoid being deported. Philip Olawale Omotunde took part in a elaborate scam which involved claiming social security pay-outs for fictional disabled babies.

The Home Office tried to deport the Nigerian but he won the right to stay in Britain after arguing it would breach his “right to private and family life” to separate him from his six-year-old son – who was going to a school 12 miles away from where his father lived.

Extraordinarily he should not have been in the country in the first place. Omotunde came to Britain as a visitor in 1991, when he was 28, and overstayed his visa. The Home Office made a decision to deport him in 1996 but no action was taken. The last Labour government granted him indefinite leave to remain under a “regularisation scheme” in 2002.

Omotunde’s case highlights the way the “family life” rules under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights are being used to overturn the government’s efforts to throw foreign crooks out of the country.

Since immigration judges made their decision in May this year, he has been sent to jail again for offences relating to his failure to pay a £45,000 confiscation order for his part in the benefits fraud.

Dominic Raab, a Tory MP who is campaigning to reform Article 8, said: “The judges are using the Human Rights Act to bar deportation in a rapidly increasing number of cases where the government want to deport serious criminals, on the basis that it may disrupt their family relations. “That undermines public protection. It must be for elected and lawmakers to set policy in this area, not unaccountable judges.”

The use of the act is currently under review as part of a Home Office consultation.

Omotunde, 48, was part of an organised crime gang which stole British people’s names, dates of birth and National Insurance numbers to commit a complex web of frauds. He had already been convicted in 2006 of working as an illegal taxi tout, and fined £100.

The fraud ring set up false addresses and bank accounts to extract hundreds of thousands of pounds per month from the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) tax credits system. The ring claimed tax credits for fake disabled babies aged under one.

After his conviction the Home Office served notice on Omotunde that he was liable to be deported because his son, who was born in April 2005, was young enough to adapt to life in Nigeria. Omotunde appealed to the immigration tribunal.

His lawyers told the tribunal he was the “dominant carer” for his young son, who lived in Lewisham, south-east London – even though at the time the child was going to school 12 miles away in Fulham, on the other side of London. He claimed the child was not being looked after by its mother, who at the time was also an illegal immigrant, but by her sister and a “team” which included two “pastors”.

The tribunal refused to overturn the deportation order, but five days after their decision the Home Office granted Omotunde’s son British citizenship, a move which strengthened the criminal’s argument that he could not be separated from his family. He brought a new appeal to senior judges – headed by Mr Justice Blake – who ruled that the son cannot now be deported and it would be unreasonable to expect him to move to Nigeria.

“In all the circumstances of the appellant’s case and the best interests of his child we do not consider that the interference with the family and private life can be justified by the public interest identified in this case,” said the immigration judges. “Deportation of the appellant would not be a proportionate measure and is not a fair balance between the competing interests.”

He is currently serving 16 months at Verne prison on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, but when freed he will be allowed to remain in Britain indefinitely.

Omotunde and his fellow criminals made 200 false claims using 88 web-based bank accounts during a five-month period in 2004. Omotunde was one of four principal account holders, although the trial judge ruled he was not a central figure in the fraud. He was arrested in March 2007, convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to transfer criminal property at Croydon Crown Court in June 2008.

Judges said Omotunde – also known by the first name “Wale” – was “drawn into the wrongdoing to the tune of about £41,600”. Five other defendants received jail terms of between four and a half years and two years, while a sixth was given a 14 month suspended sentence.

When The Sunday Telegraph contacted relatives of Omotunde about his case he telephoned from prison just over an hour later. He declined to comment on the case. It is unclear how Omotunde’s relatives were able to send a message to the inmate so promptly, because mobile telephones and email are banned in jails.

The Sunday Telegraph has also discovered that Omotunde, who lives in Lewisham, south-east London, was registered as the sole director of an events planning company, Lawiomot Magnificus Ventures Ltd, in August 2010, just over two years after he was jailed. There is nothing to prevent anyone convicted of fraud setting up a company in this way.


Next lot of British High School exam results will ‘mark end of Labour Party’s grade inflation’

GCSE results out today will signal the end to decades of relentless ‘grade inflation’ as rigour is returned to the education system, experts believe. Teenagers receiving their results will pass close to a quarter of their exams at grades A or A* – three times the number of those receiving As two decades ago – before the A* was introduced.

But although the grades will be the best in the exam’s history, they will show only a minor improvement compared with previous years. And assessment experts believe pass rates and rates of top grades will eventually plateau in 2012 before falling in 2013.

The ‘significant slowdown’ – after 23 years of rampant increases – marks the end of Labour’s ‘we shall all have prizes’ culture, and has been attributed to measures designed to end the dumbing-down of exams.

In the past year, the culture of endless re-sits has been axed, easy-to-plagiarise course work slashed and exam boards made to penalise pupils for poor spelling and grammar. Under Labour, pupils could score an A* in

More pupils this year have sat tougher subjects following the Coalition’s attempt to remove a ‘perverse incentive’ for schools to teach pupils soft, easy-to-pass subjects.

Previously, a BTEC in ICT was considered equivalent to four GCSEs for the purpose of league table performance. The end of grade inflation at GCSE mirrors the halt in A-level inflation seen last week. Although overall A-level pass rates improved very slightly, the proportion of top grades awarded stagnated.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said the results herald the end of ‘grade inflation’. He added: ‘A chief factor could be the attitudes of examiners who saw it as their duty, under Labour, to help the Government achieve its targets by awarding top grades to more teens. But now the Coalition is in power the focus has shifted from targets to rigour.

‘The Government has also introduced measures to make exams more tough, such as ending the culture of re-sits.’

Some 750,000 teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are receiving GCSE grades today. Overall almost 70 per cent will have an A* to C, 23 per cent an A* or A, and close to 8 per cent an A*.

The results will also show the gender gap is closing, largely due to the scrapping of course work. Girls tend to work ‘harder and more consistently’ than boys, Prof Smithers said, and therefore score higher in course work, now replaced by ongoing assessment by teachers.

For years Labour had been accused of dumbing-down GCSEs. When the A* was first awarded in 1994, just 2.9 per cent of pupils achieved it compared with 8 per cent now. In 1994, 12.9 per cent scored an A or A*, compared with 23 per cent now.

General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers Russell Hobby, said: ‘Grade inflation was a symptom of extremely high stakes. Everyone has been involved in gaming the system, from politicians to exam boards, to teachers to pupils. But when this is done a lot is sacrificed.’

A Government source said: ‘We’re restoring rigour to GCSEs by getting rid of modules and reintroducing marks for spelling and grammar that Labour disgracefully removed.’


More wishful thinking about chocolate

The sentence highlighted in red below makes the whole thing a bit of a laugh

It’s the news that chocoholics have been waiting for – a bar of the dark stuff is officially good for your health. It has long been believed that a small amount of cocoa-rich dark chocolate can be beneficial because of its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

But a major study has now suggested that eating large amounts of chocolate could also be associated with a one-third reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. It backs up the results of earlier studies that generally agree on a potential positive link between eating chocolate and heart health.

Dr Oscar Franco, from the University of Cambridge, carried out a large scale review of the existing evidence to see the effects of eating chocolate on heart attacks and strokes. He analysed the results of seven studies, which had involved more than 100,000 people with and without existing heart disease.

For each study, he compared the group with the highest chocolate consumption against the group with the lowest. Differences in study design and quality were also taken into account to minimise bias.

Five studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the risk of cardiovascular events. They found that the ‘highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37 per cent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 per cent reduction in stroke compared with lowest levels’.

No significant reduction was found in relation to heart failure.

The studies did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included consumption of chocolate bars, drinks, biscuits and desserts. But despite the findings, he said they should be taken ‘with caution’, and will now look at whether other factors could explain the positive effects.

He also advised people to be careful which chocolate they chose to eat. This was because, in particular, commercially available chocolate is high in calories – around 500 calories for every 100 grams – and eating too much of it could lead to weight gain and put eaters at risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, are due to be presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris today.

The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2030, nearly 23.6 million people will die from heart disease.



About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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