New NHS number to restore out-of-hours care for all non-emergencies
Good intentions but I don’t have to be a prophet to predict that the reality will fall far short of the aspiration. It’s almost laughable in fact. Cameron must know his words reported below will come back to haunt him
It reminds me of the words of a former Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. Hawke once made the ludicrous prediction: “By the year 1990 no Australian child will live in poverty”. It has become the only thing some people remember about him: Reliably good for a laugh
An urgent care number is to be introduced to replace NHS Direct. The free 111 service – for all non-emergency care and advice – is designed to restore out of hours help, according to David Cameron.
Like NHS Direct, the new number will dispense advice, but it will also secure an ambulance, GP or community nurse day and night. Patients will not have to wait for a doctor to call them back, as often happens when they try to reach out-of-hours services run by their GP.
The service will also allow patients to book appointments at their family doctor for the next day. ‘We are announcing what you will be getting from a new national service in the NHS – one that is emblematic of the patient power we’re bringing,’ Mr Cameron told the Daily Mail. ‘Today, if your child wakes in the middle of the night because they’ve got a burning sore throat you can end up sitting around in A&E for hours.
‘We’re going to make sure you are seen by the right doctor or nurse in the most convenient place. We are abolishing the whole concept of out of hours. Our NHS will be a 24/7 one. ‘I believe people should get the care they need, when and where they need it.
‘However, too many people are confused about what is available to them or how best to get it, especially at night or if they are away from home. ‘That’s why we are introducing NHS 111. The new service will make sure callers can access the care and advice that is right for them, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.’
The service will be free to call and staffed by a team of trained call advisers, supported by nurses, who will be on hand to assess needs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If they believe emergency care is required, an ambulance will be dispatched straight away.
The number has been piloted in County Durham and Darlington, Nottingham City, Lincolnshire and Luton, but Mr Cameron says it will be rolled out nationwide from April 2013, replacing the NHS Direct 0845 4647 line.
Figures suggest that up to two out of three patients calling NHS Direct end up being sent to see a doctor, dentist or pharmacist – half of them classified as urgent or emergency cases.
Brits migrating to Poland
Not mentioned below is a major reason to leave for Poland: Poland is still overwhelmingly the white Christian society that Britain used to be before multiculturalism hit it — which bypasses all the difficulties of living with Africans — such as their high rate of violent crime. And the fact that Poland is very Christian also helps with civility
A young Polish woman points at the screen in her office and smiles at me. ‘Look,’ she says warmly. ‘Here’s another one — they are coming in all the time.’
On the screen is a message from a man asking for advice on finding work. ‘A few years ago, I’d have received one or two a month. Now I get scores of messages like this. It is very good news — and they’re all welcome.’
More Poles coming to Britain in search of work and a new life thanks to the opening of European borders? Well, not exactly. In fact, the messages are from British men seeking work in Poland — reversing the trend of recent years.
As Agnieszka Libura has discovered in her office next to the Honorary British Consulate in Krakow, many middle-class Britons, fed up with the recession, austerity cuts and seemingly unbridled immigration at home are, paradoxically, becoming migrants themselves and heading to Poland for a better life.
Once there, they find the only economy in Europe not to have fallen into recession during the credit crunch, a business culture open to fresh ideas and inward investment, a society that places a premium on family values, a lower cost of living — and, in the case of thousands of British males, a female population they seem to find irresistible.
As the Mail reported yesterday, a new study suggests Poland’s quality of life is significantly better than Britain’s, primarily because of lower crime, violence and living costs. Not to mention that Poles have on average ten more days’ holiday a year — and nearly 200 more hours of sunshine.
‘British people come over here and they are amazed to see a largely untapped business market and a growing middle class,’ says Agnieszka, director of the British Polish Chamber of Commerce. ‘If you can find a niche here, you can get rich very quickly.’
Unskilled wages are too low to entice the labourers, supermarket shelf-stackers or coffee-shop baristas from Britain.
The growing British diaspora instead comprises middle-class professionals working for large multi-national companies, business people with an eye for a chance, men who come after falling in love with Polish women in Britain, and those who have simply fallen in love with Poland.
‘It’s about the quality of life for me,’ says Mark Burton, a 32-year-old IT worker from Nottingham who moved to Krakow last year. ‘I visited Poland several times on holiday, and each time I came I liked it more and more.
‘I could earn a lot more in England, but I’d never enjoy the lifestyle so much. Every day I walk to work through Krakow old town, past the Wawel Royal Castle, which is one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe, and have to pinch myself.
‘People are friendly and the pace of life is slower. The architecture is stunning, basics are cheaper and the markets are full of food that is locally grown.
‘You can probably earn one-third of what you do in Britain and still be comfortably off.’
No one knows for sure how many Brits are living in Poland because they don’t have to register, just as with any other EU country. However, everyone agrees the number is growing. ‘We’re definitely seeing more Brits,’ says Mark’s boss, John Naughton, 40, who has built up several businesses in Poland.
‘Let’s face it, our own economy is in trouble, while this one is pretty vibrant. The opportunities here are fantastic. The big cities in Poland are modern, but you can still come up with ideas for things that aren’t available here yet that most Poles don’t even know they’re missing. It’s a great place to do business.’
Walk through Krakow, Poland’s picturesque second city, and you begin to understand the attractions — clean streets, polite and friendly people, great food and low crime.
According to the latest figures from the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, there are 1,365 assaults a year per 100,000 people in England and Wales; the figure for Poland is just 76. Murder rates in each country are very low, with Poland’s slightly above that of England and Wales. But in every other category, Poland puts us to shame. Per 100,000 of the population, Poland has 5.2 rapes compared with 25.6 in England and Wales; robberies are 92 compared with 189; burglary 455 compared with 1,158; 184 drug-related crimes compared with 362.
‘Crime isn’t something we ever had to worry about,’ said Jonathan Merrett, former head of the British International School of Cracow. ‘I had no problem with allowing older children out of school at lunchtime, something I’d probably never have allowed in Britain. And if the sun was shining and one of my teachers asked if they could take a class in the park, I could say yes without having to write a health & safety risk assessment. ‘In Poland, common sense prevails. Also, teachers are allowed to teach, and it shows in the results.’
Following the English curriculum, with tweaks to account for local culture and history, the school’s pupils have a 100 per cent record in achieving at least five A to C grade GCSEs compared with an average of 15 per cent in Britain. Fees are £8,400 a year, which compare favourably with British private schools.
However, it isn’t only professional fulfilment that attracted Jonathan and his teacher wife, Jill, to Poland. ‘Family relationships are still very important,’ said Jill.
‘I had younger colleagues who lived with their parents out of choice, and you wouldn’t get that so much in Britain. The Church is important, too, and that’s reflected in the low crime and general pleasantness of the place.
‘It’s clean, too. Whenever I went home to England, I was struck by the litter and chewing gum on the floor. In Poland, every building, residential or commercial, has to hire someone to clear the snow, leaves or litter outside every day. ‘It’s a hangover from Communism, when they used to find jobs for people to do, but it’s carried on and makes for very clean communities.’
Tom Buck, 29, a computer programmer, is one of many Englishmen who fell in love with a Polish woman before falling for Poland itself. ‘I was sharing a flat in London with a Polish girl, and in 2008 one of her friends, Ania, came to visit and we got on well,’ he says. ‘A month later, she returned to visit me, then I went to see her and within months we were flying back and forth so often that we decided to choose whether we lived in Warsaw or London. I liked Warsaw, so I moved there in October 2009.
‘I thought it would be terrifying to meet her family, but they were wonderfully welcoming to me, and once I got the seal of approval they became my family, too. I was bowled over by them.’
So what is it, I dare to ask, that attracts so many British men to Polish women? ‘Well, Ania is intelligent and beautiful, but I think what is so endearing about Polish women is they don’t play games,’ says Tom. ‘It is a cultural thing to speak your mind and be honest. That is the way British men communicate with each other, so finding such directness in a woman, and not having to constantly guess what you have done wrong, is an attractive trait.’
Of course, not everything about Poland is perfect. Expats cite the weather, which oscillates from unbearably cold to seriously hot, the low wages in some sectors and the cost of electrical items as the main bugbears.
Londoner Michael McSperrin, 26, moved to Krakow in January 2009 after quitting a management post with Carphone Warehouse. ‘I’d spent some time taking stock and decided I wasn’t entirely happy and wanted to try something new,’ he says. ‘I’d been to Poland several times, and out of curiosity began looking on the internet for jobs.’ He took a post with a company that provides administration services for recruitment agencies all over the world.
‘I grew up in Ealing and I’d been very happy there for years,’ says Michael. ‘But increasingly I was bored. In London, you think you have a great social life, but it’s so difficult meeting up with friends because they’re all over the place. ‘Here, it’s smaller and there’s so much to do that you meet new people all the time.
‘Add to that museums, architecture, festivals and concerts within walking distance or on the great tram system, and you’ve got more than enough to keep you happy.’
So would Michael go back to Britain? ‘Well, I’d never say never,’ he says. ‘But from what I hear about what’s going on at home, you couldn’t pay me to go back. With your inflation I doubt you could afford to…..’
Now the EU orders Britain: Let migrants claim benefits as soon as they arrive in UK
Europe has given Britain two months to scrap policies preventing benefit tourists claiming billions of pounds in handouts. Last night the European Commission said it would take the Government to court unless it draws up plans to axe restrictions on claims by immigrants, saying they are against the law and must be scrapped.
Brussels bureaucrats acted after receiving a complaint that the rules infringed the human rights of EU citizens.
It is feared the change could open the door to tens of thousands of Eastern Europeans who are currently deterred from coming to Britain – costing taxpayers up to £2.5billion a year in extra welfare payments.
At present a ‘habitual residency’ test is used to establish whether EU migrants are eligible for benefits. To qualify for jobseekers’ allowance, employment support allowance, pension credit and income support, they must demonstrate they have either worked here previously or have a good opportunity to get a job.
But the European Commission said this ‘right to reside’ test indirectly discriminates against nationals from other EU states by enforcing a set of conditions that effectively tests their right to state handouts.
Yesterday members announced they were considering taking the UK to the EU’s Court of Justice if it does not scrap the test. And they gave the Government two months to inform them of the measures it takes to enforce the rules.
Officials in the Department for Work and Pensions warn it would cost anything from £620million a year to £2.46billion if they have to scrap the test – seriously hampering plans to rein in public spending.
Employment minister Chris Grayling said: ‘This is a very unwelcome development. ‘It’s obviously right that we support those who work and pay their taxes here, but it’s clearly completely unacceptable that we should open our doors to benefit tourism.
‘I’m really surprised the European Commission has chosen to go into battle on this very sensitive issue, when there are clearly far more pressing problems to solve in Europe.’
A source at the DWP added: ‘This could open the doors of the benefits system to anyone from the EU, even if they have no intention of working. ‘That would be bad enough if we were in good economic times, but we are not in good economic times.’ ‘We will fight this tooth and nail. This is a battle we will win.’
Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, said: ‘Once again we see the EC telling us how to run our country and people are becoming sick and tired of it. ‘The UK is perfectly within its rights to require EU nationals to fulfil certain conditions before taking advantage of our generous benefits system. ‘If the EC gets its way then there will be a far greater burden on the British taxpayer as more money will need to be found for the social security system.
‘The “right to reside” test should stay. It is not discrimination, but simply a system to ensure that benefits are paid only to those who are entitled to them.’
Stephen Booth, research director of think-tank Open Europe, said: ‘Freedom of movement within the EU has largely been positive for the UK but issues surrounding benefits and social security are understandably very sensitive.
‘For the freedom of movement within the EU to work, governments have to be able to assure their citizens that welfare systems won’t be abused. ‘At a time when people are concerned about the pressures of immigration, the Commission is playing a dangerous game by trying to overrule the UK on its “right to reside” test.’
The European Commission first set out its stall last year when it wrote: ‘EU law leaves it to member states to determine the details of their social security schemes and social assistance schemes, including the conditions on awarding benefits. ‘Having examined the “right to reside” test, it is not compatible with different legal provisions of EU law.’
Hate preacher wins human rights payout… even though he shouldn’t be in Britain at all
A banned extremist who made a mockery of Britain’s border controls is now likely to pocket £5,000 in compensation because immigration officials could not speak his language.
The High Court ruled yesterday that Sheikh Raed Salah, described as a ‘virulent anti-Semite’ in the Commons, could claim compensation for unlawful detention by immigration officers.
They had seized the pro-Palestine hardliner – who should never have been allowed into Britain in the first place – to have him deported. But immigration staff failed to explain to him ‘in a language he could understand’ precisely why he was being detained – a technical breach of the rules. The preacher cannot speak English and officials failed properly to translate what was happening, the court ruled.
As a result – even though the Home Secretary had legal powers to hold him – he was unlawfully detained for 34.5 hours, until proper explanations were given to him about what was happening in Arabic.
At one stage, an immigration officer had tried to use an ‘app’ on his iPhone to give instructions to the extremist. But he did not give Salah, 52, all the information required to make his detention lawful, Mr Justice Nicol decided. Salah can now formally apply for taxpayer-funded compensation. The likely pay-out is between £4,000 and £5,000 – or about £150 for every hour he was held.
Michael Weiss, of the Henry Jackson Society think-tank, said the case was an ‘embarrassment’ for UK Border Agency officials. ‘I find it scandalous that someone like this is getting damages and is being paid with British taxpayers’ money,’ he said.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer said he was shocked by news of the ruling. ‘We speak English in this country and anybody that wants to come here and preach hate is going to do so in English as well,’ he added. ‘I fail to see the logic of what has happened. Yet again some form of craziness is making Britain look ridiculous.’
Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, managed to walk through immigration checks at Heathrow Airport on June 25 despite being barred from the UK by the Home Secretary. Immigration officials had failed to inform him of the ban – and he was unaware that he should not travel here.
He was finally detained three days later on the direct orders of Theresa May, but only after addressing meetings in London and Leicester. The Home Secretary ordered that Salah be removed on the grounds that his presence was not ‘conducive to the public good’.
Court papers say Mrs May has alleged that Salah has ‘publicly expressed views that fostered hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK’. He denies being an anti-Semite and is challenging his removal.
Lawyers claim his treatment was a breach of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act – the right to ‘freedom of expression’. A separate court appeal on this row is due to take place next week.
In the meantime, Salah has been released on bail and is staying at a five-bedroom detached house in a leafy suburb in North London while his case is processed.
He is credited with a string of outrageous statements, although he denies being an extremist. He is said to have claimed that the 9/11 plot was carried out by Israelis and that Jews were warned not to go to the World Trade Centre before the murderous attack in New York on September 11, 2001.
He was released from prison in 2005 after serving two years for fundraising for the Palestinian terror group Hamas and for having contact with an Iranian spy.
It is understood that Government solicitors will fight the claim for compensation on the grounds that it is a minor point and his overall detention was lawful. A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The decision the Home Secretary took was the right one. The court decided there was a technical problem when he was detained.’
After girls gunned down by street gang Britain’s Tories pledge U.S.-style shock tactics to put youngsters off a life of crime
Children as young as ten are being sucked into a dangerous gang culture, Iain Duncan Smith warns today.
The Work and Pensions Secretary says a ‘collapse’ in traditional fatherhood is driving youngsters into the arms of gang leaders, who offer them a ‘perverse’ sense of structure and belonging.
Of those aged between ten and 19, a startling six per cent – 450,000 – now report belonging to a gang, with as many as 200 rival groups operating in London.
In an interview with the Daily Mail on the eve of the Conservative Party conference, Mr Duncan Smith revealed radical plans to use U.S.-style ‘shock therapy’ to try to reverse the trend.
A Government blueprint to tackle gang culture, to be unveiled by the Home Office and the Work and Pensions department this month, will include controversial ‘call-ins’ for gang members who have not yet committed any crime.
They are taken into a courtroom where a judge warns them about potential penalties, the families of victims of gang-related violence describe their experiences and surgeons confront them with images of shootings and stabbings.
In the U.S., similar ‘tough love’ schemes are credited with reducing gang-related deaths by 60 per cent in some cities.
Mr Duncan Smith said the latest statistics showed that in both Manchester and Liverpool around 60 per cent of shootings are gang-related and there has been a 75 per cent increase in serious stab wounds amongst older teenagers.
Effective action to tackle ‘social breakdown’ would mean starting with gang culture, which is blighting entire communities.
‘We have a growing gangs problem. There are between 100 and 200 gangs in London alone. ‘They are getting younger and younger. It is down to about ten years old in some cases.
‘These gangs end up having a massive disproportionate effect on the community. There’s a shock wave around them. They are a massive driver of further social breakdown. In an area dominated by gangs it’s almost impossible to improve people’s quality of life. ‘So it is a critical element in tackling social breakdown.’
Mr Duncan Smith said as many as one in five of those convicted of taking part in rioting and looting this summer were gang members, adding: ‘There’s no question that there was a lot of targeting, a lot of high-level criminal activity and organising going on that the gangs were involved in. Were gangs responsible for the rioting? Clearly not. But there are wider groups of dysfunctional families who aren’t necessarily in gangs but whose children will end up being signed up by them.
‘Social breakdown means there are fathers completely missing. Constructive fatherhood has gone in many of these communities. ‘Often for these boys a gang does provide a kind of structure, it gives a sense of belonging, it gives a perverse sense of purpose. And criminal activity sometimes gives them an income too.
‘Mothers are struggling with poor education, very few skills, have had children early, often in their teens. If they are in relationships they’re often violent, abusive ones.
‘That’s the picture we see in these areas – a value set that has completely collapsed. We are arresting now the great-grandkids of the first members of the families who were arrested.’
Mr Duncan Smith said gangs were ‘at the tip of a growing, violent culture’. ‘Almost all are made up of people that come from broken and difficult backgrounds.
‘They’re also sometimes the drivers of social breakdown, because communities become blighted by their behaviour. No shopkeeper will want to invest money in a community that’s going to be dangerous and difficult.’
Mr Duncan Smith said gang culture was also fuelling welfare dependency, since in many towns and cities members refused to look for work or even travel through areas controlled by rival groups.
He said that gang members could be forced to attend the new ‘call-ins’, even where there is no evidence that they have committed a crime, though pilot schemes have shown that around 75 per cent come voluntarily.
‘It will be possible to compel people who are known for their gang activity to attend,’ the Work and Pensions Secretary said.
Sessions will be held in court and opened by a judge or magistrate. Chief constables will tell gang members: ‘We know who you are, where you live and what you’re doing, and we’ll do everything possible to make your lives hell.’
Individuals are also confronted by mothers whose children have been killed because of their membership of gangs and surgeons who show them horrifying real-life images of victims of gang-related knife and gun crime. Former prisoners who have served time for gang activity also speak to gang members.
Mr Duncan Smith said evidence from the U.S. and pilot projects in Scotland suggested the shock therapy could have ‘phenomenal’ results.
In the interview, he also backed an extension of more conditionality in the welfare system – pointing out the Tories had been championing the idea of a ‘something for something’ principle, adopted by Labour at its conference last week, for many years.
Mr Duncan Smith promised help for middle-aged women unduly affected by increases in the state pension age would be unveiled ‘before the end of the year’.