I’m only alive because I know how to beat the NHS system: A deeply worrying confession from a GP fighting cancer

By Dr Lesley Kirkpatrick

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was devastated — but sure I’d get the best possible treatment. After 22 years as a GP, I felt strongly that the NHS was unbeatable when it came to major illnesses like this. But I was wrong. Instead, this wonderful institution I dedicated my life to has let me down — and I am only alive today because I begged and battled for drugs and paid for scans and treatments privately.

It was September 2006 when this nightmare began. After I had experienced blurred vision and pinpricks of blue light, tests revealed I had a rare type of eye cancer — choroidal melanoma cancer, a tumour in the blood vessel layer at the back of my eye.

The tumour itself was highly curable with radiation treatment, but because this type of cancer was carried in the blood, I knew there was a strong chance it would travel throughout the body causing more tumours, most likely in the liver. And I knew it was a particularly aggressive form. How did I know? I’d had three patients with this cancer and all had died from it.

My consultant broke the news: I had a one in four chance of dying from metastases, or secondary tumours, within five years. I was 50.

Two weeks after diagnosis, I began four 30-second sessions of proton beam therapy — low-dose radiation accurately focused on the tumour to melt it away.

After it was successfully treated, my local trust in Sheffield — I live in Doncaster —offered me ultrasound scans to check the cancer hadn’t spread. But I knew that these scans pick up only tumours that are 1cm or bigger, and by the time it reached that size it would be harder to treat.

I insisted on an MRI scan, but my consultant said the NHS could only afford to do one without contrast, which is less sensitive than one with contrast.

So, for the first time in my life, I went private. I got the results in September 2008 — they were clear. Finally I could start to live again.

But six months later, a second scan showed exactly what I’d feared: a 4mm tumour was growing on my liver. A third scan in August, this time on the NHS, showed it had grown to 9mm.

If I’d stayed on the NHS and hadn’t had those scans, I’d have been months from death without knowing. Instead, the tumour had been picked up while it was still small enough to be removed with surgery.

However, the news got worse. The soonest the NHS could offer a date for an operation was six weeks away. An aggressive tumour could double in that time. So again I went private and paid £20,000 to have three small tumours removed from my liver.

I’d worked in the NHS all my life — and yes, I felt guilty. But being a patient made me see things differently. I felt alone, uncared for, and forced to make things happen myself.

I became acutely aware of the many patients out there who were suffering as I was, given no options. I confided in my colleagues at the surgery — they understood completely, and said they wouldn’t wait either.

In the year since I was diagnosed I’d thrown myself into researching my cancer, poring over endless journals and learning the statistics by heart.

I knew that patients live an average of 27 months after liver resection, but some could live up to ten years. I was determined to make the most of the life I had left: eight weeks after surgery, Terry and I were diving in Mauritius.

Back at home, I set out to fight this disease. I now needed vigorous scanning and treatments to get the cancer before it came back (for there was now a virtual certainty that it would).

But every onocologist I spoke to told me the NHS wouldn’t pay for such scans, and they couldn’t treat me while I was clinically free of disease. And when it did come back, they would treat me with dacarbazine, a drug which I discovered had a response rate of under one per cent. I was basically being told to go home and die.

As predicted, in September 2010, scans revealed another liver tumour, so I had surgery on the NHS. I was very sick by now, and that month, I retired from my job at the age of 51.

Then, just three months after surgery, another tumour appeared. Soon, there were 17 of them on my liver. I’d kept up my research and got in touch with an NHS consultant, Professor Christian Ottensmeier at Southampton General Hospital. He made me feel human again, and was genuinely committed to finding a way to help me live.

He referred me to an interventional radiologist, Dr Brian Stedman, who talked to me about this amazing new treatment called SIR spheres, where they use radioactive beads to deliver radiation direct to the site of the liver tumours. It was available at only a few UK hospitals — I’d read about it, but I’d never thought I’d be suitable.

This was my last hope. So I paid £26,000 to have it at Spire Southampton Hospital. Amazingly, my PCT later agreed to refund the money for this, and for my earlier private treatment too, simply because I complained persistently.

Meanwhile, my consultant also applied for a drug called ipilimumab I’d discovered with the help of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a charity set up by the American cyclist who famously beat cancer, which provides support and practical information to cancer patients. Ipilimumab, which is being trialled in the U.S., effectively takes the brakes off the immune system, so it can recognise the cancer and form antibodies to destroy it.

The results have been amazing. One year on, scans are now showing no growth or new lesions, so I’m hoping that ipilimumab and the SIR spheres are working.

I should be dead, but here I am still running 40 miles a week. and it’s all because I fought every step of the way. But I’m struck by the thought — what happens to patients who don’t have my medical training and determination?

NHS rationing is hurting the patients who need it, and the wrong areas are being cut. We have management and ethnicity surveys, while patients are denied proper scanning and fast responses.

If I’d had breast cancer, there would have been a clear care pathway with specialists — yet for patients with rare cancers like mine there isn’t.

They are led to believe they are cured, and slip through the net until suddenly they find they have months to live.

How has our great health service reached the stage where some patients have to fight to stay alive?


Quarter of hospital food is left uneaten: Frail patients going hungry as NINE MILLION NHS meals are binned

More than a quarter of food served in some hospitals ends up in the bin without even being touched, it has emerged. Nine million hospital meals – one in 12 – were thrown away uneaten last year, a study has found.

The huge figure will add to concerns that frail, elderly patients are not being fed properly on the wards and are going hungry because nursing staff are too busy to assist them during meal times.

Last week it emerged that half of all hospitals in England inspected by the Care Quality Commission were failing to meet basic nutrition standards. The watchdog had concerns over 49 of the 100 hospitals inspected. On some wards patients were left for up to ten hours without water.

Now figures obtained by data analysts SSentif reveal that some 9.3million meals were thrown away by hospitals last year – or one in 12.

Ipswich hospital had the worst record, where 29 per cent of food was binned having not been touched. The University Hospital of South Manchester threw away a quarter of all meals while 23 per cent were thrown out at Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust.

There are concerns that too often meal trays are simply dumped in front of bedbound patients and removed before anyone has helped them eat. Of the 200 hospitals and mental health trusts which provided figures, seven admitted to throwing away more than a fifth of meals. This waste is estimated to cost the NHS £22million a year.

Campaigners want all wards to introduce ‘protected mealtimes’ to ensure that when food is served staff devote their full attention to assisting patients.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director of Age UK, said: ‘Protecting hospital mealtimes needs to be a priority on every ward to ensure that patients have the help they need. Often, older patients require more support to eat a meal, especially after an operation or while receiving treatment, and this is often not taken into account. ‘Hospitals must make nutritional care a top priority, so older people don’t go needlessly hungry.’

This week the CQC will publish a full report on the results of 100 inspections looking at standards of nutrition and dignity. These random spot checks were in part triggered by a Mail campaign with the Patients Association to expose the appalling neglect of the elderly.

The watchdog has already highlighted concerns that staff in some trusts are patronising elderly patients and even telling them off for ringing call bells. Others have been found to be depending on relatives to feed patients because nursing staff are too busy.

Health minister Simon Burns said: ‘Hospitals with high levels of waste should be looking to learn from the ones that don’t. ‘All hospitals should also make sure that every patient gets the help they need to eat properly, and offer good-quality nutritious food. This is an essential part of hospital care.’


British PM launches immigration crackdown

David Cameron’s election pledge to reduce net immigration from the 150,000 it averaged under Labour to “tens of thousands” a year is proving a tough nut to crack. In his second big speech on immigration this year, the Prime Minister yesterday focused on two areas. He proposed new minimum income requirements for immigrants who “sponsor” wives and dependants to follow them to this country. A system of bonds is also being considered, requiring a surety to be paid by immigrants that will be forfeited if they choose not to return home.

The last government actually introduced such a scheme four years ago but quietly shelved it under pressure from immigrant communities. The Coalition needs to show greater resolve. It is not unreasonable to expect people who come here to lodge such a payment that can offset any demands they may make on the public purse. The Prime Minister also took the first steps towards making forced marriage – which he described as “little more than slavery” – a criminal offence. It is extraordinary that this is not the case already.

Mr Cameron is in the right territory. Among non-EU nationals, it is students, family members and dependants who now comprise two thirds of all immigrants. This is one aspect of immigration that needs to be discussed but rarely is. When it comes to immigration from the Indian subcontinent, and particularly Pakistan, politicians constantly give the impression that they are walking on eggshells. Their unwillingness to engage in debate allows the far Right to fill the vacuum.

The issue that specifically needs to be addressed is the last government’s reckless decision – motivated by cynical political considerations – to allow marriage to be used as a means of settling in this country. Before 1997, the Primary Purpose Rule required an applicant to show “that the marriage was not entered into primarily to obtain admission to the United Kingdom”. Now, it is possible to marry someone settled in Britain purely for the purpose of immigration, provided certain legal requirements are met. As a consequence of the rule change, immigration by spouses has doubled and problems of illiteracy and cultural isolation have grown. Restoring the Primary Purpose Rule would go a long way towards reducing forced marriages.

As for the Prime Minister’s suggestion that the public should report suspected illegal immigrants, that sounds like a dangerous piece of populism that could have unfortunate consequences. Mr Cameron would do better to focus the Government’s energies on stopping those who have no right to settle in this country from coming here in the first place.


Meet the PC oligarchy that now rules Britain

The Tory conference confirmed that politics has been colonised by experts, hacks and snobs who are utterly insulated from the madding crowd

You couldn’t have asked for a better snapshot of the unbridgeable chasm that now separates politicians from the public than the Tory Party conference. This weird, media-oriented, stage-managed display of pragmatism and bluster confirmed that politics has become completely disassociated from ordinary people’s lives and concerns. The conference showed that the political class and the only other section of society that has any interest in what it thinks and says – the media – are now so insulated from the madding crowd that they not only think in a different way and have different outlooks on life, but seem to speak in a different language entirely. The rarefication of British politics is complete.

The most striking thing about the Conservative Party conference was the extent to which its agenda was determined by what is not happening in the real world rather than what is. Surreally, this was a supposedly political gathering at which the big issues of the day – from the economy to the future of Europe – were either skirted around or given the deeply unconvincing Cameron-as-plucky-bulldog treatment, while issues that have no traction whatsoever amongst the public – from sexist language to gay marriage – were put centre stage by both Tory spokespeople and political reporters. (See Rob Lyons on Cameron’s economics here.) The conference revealed that political issues are very rarely generated from below these days, but rather are the creations of tiny cliques of think-tankers and professional advisers who are paid to come up with eye-grabbing ‘talking points’.

The power of small numbers of professionals to set the political agenda has reached an extraordinary level. So as the conference kicked off, and as the world economy continued to shake and the Euro continued to go down the pan, the key issue was Tory leader David Cameron’s use of sexist language. Cameron made a grovelling apology for having said ‘calm down, dear’ to a female Labour MP in parliament earlier this year and for having referred to his fellow Tory Nadine Dorries as ‘extremely frustrated’. In effect, he was bowing to pressure from minuscule numbers of influential women – primarily highly paid newspaper columnists and expert pollsters – who have been warning him to speak in a way they consider to be ‘appropriate’. That such a dinner-party spat can take centre stage at a party conference in an era of recession is a searing indictment of the hermetically sealed nature of modern British politics. This unedifying clash between professionals over how the fairer sex should be addressed brings to mind the old court system, in which mannerisms of speech and the depth of one’s curtseying were also treated as the be-all and end-all, elbowing aside burning political issues. The return of speech ritualism is further evidence of the isolation of the political class.

Two other issues that got the media class excited – as those who are paid by the Tories to fabricate Big Political Issues no doubt knew they would – were gay marriage and the possibility of introducing a fat tax to wean people off their alleged addiction to junk food. Again, neither of these issues is a grassroots one; neither exercises the hearts and minds of everyday people. Rather they’re artificially created problems, the products of either elite agitation or think-tankers’ brainstorming, which are then latched on to by politicians in the hope that talking about them will help to garner some positive coverage from the media class at least. Cameron’s comments about a fat tax – which would target those great scourges of our age: ‘milk, cheese, pizza, meat, oil and processed food’ – were particularly striking, because they gave an insight into what this oligarchical political class thinks of those who live outside its bubble. We are not political subjects to be engaged with, apparently, but rather bovine objects to be physically tampered with, punished for our gluttony, pressured to ditch those gastro-pleasures which the political and media elites, as they discuss the horrors of sexist language over wine and vol-au-vents, have decreed to be ‘fattening’.

The Conservative conference brought to a head a trend that has been evident at all the mainstream party conferences over the past five to 10 years: a sense that these people are only talking to and amongst themselves; a powerful feeling that the political scene consists of tiny clubs of people perfectly insulated from the masses. Indeed, it’s wrong even to refer to the various things discussed at the Tory conference as ‘political issues’, since most of them were not really political at all, but rather were shallow moralistic obsessions foisted on to the agenda by inside agitators, and most of them were not issues either, in the sense that if you stopped the average man or woman in the street and asked them what they thought about the scourge of sexist language they would wonder if you were mad. These are entirely fake issues, designed to give the cut-off political and media classes something to tussle over.

The otherworldly nature of party conferences is a consequence of some huge political shifts in recent years. It is the hollowing-out of the mainstream parties, their speedy and profound jettisoning of members and grassroots supporters and their subsequent disconnection from the public, which creates today’s strange and alien political culture. The absence of pressure-from-below on the political parties leads to a situation where small groups of influential people can set the party political agendas, from academics obsessed with inequality to the illiberal theoreticians of the nudge industry to newspaper hacks who felt personally offended when Cameron used the word ‘dear’. It is the slow-motion withdrawal of everyday people from a political scene that no longer has anything to say to them that nurtures today’s courtly atmosphere, the rise of speech codes and apologetics and issues that matter little to the masses.

Even Tory-bashers play the same game as the party they claim to loathe. One criticism that has been made again and again of Cameron and Co. is that they are ‘re-toxifying the Tory brand’. Apparently Cameron has failed to ‘decontaminate’ his brand – what Theresa May once referred to as a general view that the Tories are ‘the nasty party’ – as evidenced in the fact that at this week’s conference some of his people dared to criticise the Human Rights Act and talk about immigration. Not only do these kinds of criticisms contain a powerfully censorious component, where all discussion of human rights or immigrants is instantly judged to be ‘toxic’ and ‘contaminated’ – they are also firmly rooted in the same narrow brand-obsession and image-obsession that passes for Tory politics these days and for politics in general.

So where a Tory party desperately trying to discover some purpose rebrands itself as ‘nice’ rather than ‘nasty’, its critics simply shout back ‘Your brand is being recontaminated!’, like executives at an advertising firm. The myopic concern with party branding is also a product of the disassociation of politics from the public: parties that have no real connection with a significant section of the masses also have no real raison d’être, and thus must try to magic one up courtesy of an army of brand-minded experts. Politics has been colonised by experts, hacks and snobs who are utterly cut off from normal people.

The Tories’ conference, like Labour’s and the Lib Dems’ before it, was a weirdly stultified affair. There was no real debate, no attempt at policy formation, not even any real policy proposals. It all rather confirmed that parties with no base of support, with no roots in society, quickly become ideas-free zones, since there is no pressure on them to embody certain ideals and to argue the toss for those ideals on a public platform. It’s not even accurate to refer to the public as mere spectators to politics these days, since most of us didn’t spectate – we had far better things to do than watch these self-serving PR exercises disguised as party conferences. Rather, today there is simply the oligarchy and its friends on one side of the metaphorical canyon, having noisy but substanceless discussions about matters of etiquette and branding, and the masses on the other side, who are looked upon as a bovine blob whose temperature must occasionally be taken through opinion polls or stage-managed focus groups. By ignoring the party conferences, we committed a small but important act of rebellion against the oligarchy. More and better acts of rebellion will be required.


The British children’s football league which only lists scores as 1-0 or 1-1 ‘to avoid humiliation after heavy defeats’

A junior football league has stopped publishing the results of its matches in case the scores embarrass the young players. Telford Junior League – made up of 20 divisions ranging from under-10s to under-16s – now records all games as either 1-0 wins or 1-1 draws.

Bosses at the league have defended the decision to withhold the number of goals scored which they claim will spare the youngsters the humiliation of losing badly.

But campaigners and parents say the policy teaches children that competition is a bad thing and risks creating a generation of bad losers.

Unrepentant league bosses have defended the policy, saying it is in line with Football Association guidelines, which the FA disputes. The FA says it has no rules relating to results above the age of eight.

And the league, which was founded in 1984 and has more than 2,000 players from clubs in Telford, north Shropshire and Bridgnorth, will also stop recording results for under-11 teams altogether from next season.

One parent, who did not want to be named, said: ‘This is because they don’t want kids embarrassed if their team has lost heavily. ‘If that’s the case what’s the point of having a league table up on the website at all?’

Another parent, who also did not want to be named for fear of turning officials against his son’s team, said: ‘I think it’s crazy – kids need to learn about winning and losing from an early age. They aren’t recognising the boys’ achievements.

‘They might not want to embarrass the losing team but if one of the lads scores six or seven goals and that isn’t recorded what kind of message does that send to them? ‘The lads might as well not turn up.’

Assistant secretary Stephen Groome said the league had introduced the results policy on its official website this year. He said: ‘Shropshire FA have said it is a guideline and we chose to go with it. If someone else wins, the children do not need to be embarrassed. ‘There are mixed feelings about it and it’s up to each league. From next season under-11s won’t even have their results recorded.’

He said goal difference did not play a part in determining final league positions and teams finishing on equal points would share their position. ‘Sometimes there is a 16-1 or 16-0 goal difference but it’s not a determining factor in junior football because the league will be shared,’ he added.

Stephen Clarke, manager of the under-11s Wrekin Panthers team, backed the move. He said: ‘The children’s welfare is paramount. The winners have three points on the website if they win and the children who lose 20-0 would feel very disheartened if it was on the website. ‘They might think of not playing. I think it’s a very good idea.’

But Mr Clarke added there must come a point when players had to accept defeat. He said: ‘I think probably by the age of 15 then they have an understanding that life is a bit of a competition and we are competing with other people.’

Dame Kelly Holmes, the double Olympic champion, has spoken out in the past about the decline of competitive sports for children. She said it risked spawning a generation of bad losers and blamed a culture of political correctness for making ‘competitiveness’ a dirty word.

A spokesman for the FA commented: ‘There’s an FA rule that prohibits the publishing of results and league tables across all media for U7 and U8 age-groups where the focus of the game is about learning to play without the pressure of full-time scores. ‘For older age groups, there are no rules or FA guidelines which indicate that the final score should be changed.’


British father calls for shopping centre boycott after he is quizzed by police for taking photos of his own daughter

Give a Brit a little bit of power and his/her inner Hitler comes out

A father claims he was quizzed by police under anti-terror legislation after he was spotted taking a photo of his daughter in a shopping centre. Chris White took a picture of his four-year-old daughter Hazel while she was eating an ice cream at Braehead shopping centre near Glasgow last Friday.

However, Mr White said a security guard ordered him to stop, claiming it was ‘illegal’ to use a camera in the centre, and asked him to delete any images he had taken on his mobile phone.

Mr White had paused to take a snap of his daughter posing on the back of a scooter seat at an ice cream bar on their way around the shops.

A Facebook campaign was launched over the weekend calling on the public to boycott the mall. It has attracted more than 19,000 ‘likes’ on the social networking site and hundreds of comments.

Mr White said he was approached by the security guard who asked him to delete the pictures at about 4pm.

Explaining the incident on his Boycott Braehead Facebook page, Mr White said: ‘I explained I had taken 2 photos of my daughter eating ice cream and that she was the only person in the photo so didn’t see any problem. I also said that I wasn’t that willing to delete the photos and there seemed little point as I had actually uploaded them to Facebook.

‘He then said i would have to stay right where I was while he called the police, which seemed a little extreme.’

When police arrived he told Mr White there were ‘clear signs’ in the centre ordering shoppers not to take pictures inside the mall.

Mr White said: ‘The police officer than started to say that there were privacy issues around photographs, to which I said yes and in a busy shopping centre I waited until only my daughter was in the shot. ‘I explained that I was happy to show him the photos although not sure under what authority he could ask me to delete the photos.’

Mr White said police told him they ‘were within their rights under the Prevention of Terrorism Act’ to confiscate his mobile phone without any explanation. However officers let Mr White keep his photos but took all his details and he was then allowed to leave.

The shopping centre tonight apologised to Mr White and said it was changing its policy ‘with immediate effect’ so families and friends can use their cameras in the centre.

A Braehead spokesman said in a statement: ‘We have listened to the very public debate surrounding our photography policy and as a result, with immediate effect, are changing the policy to allow family and friends to take photos in the mall.

‘We will publicise this more clearly in the mall and on our website. We will reserve the right to challenge suspicious behaviour for the safety and enjoyment of our shoppers.

‘We wish to apologise to Mr White for the distress we may have caused to him and his family and we will be in direct contact with him to apologise properly.’

Mr White said he had been overwhelmed by the public response on the issue and thanked people for their support. He added: ‘Hopefully we can now move forward with a common sense approach into a situation that allows families to enjoy precious moments with their children, but at the same time ensure that such public places are areas where we can feel safe and protected.’

Supt George Nedley, of Renfrewshire and Inverclyde division, told BBC Scotland: ‘As a result, a full review of the circumstances surrounding the incident and the allegations made is under way.


Britain faces a mini ‘ice age’

Choose your scare!

BRITAIN is set to suffer a mini ice age that could last for decades and bring with it a series of bitterly cold winters. And it could all begin within weeks as experts said last night that the mercury may soon plunge below the record -20C endured last year.

Scientists say the anticipated cold blast will be due to the return of a disruptive weather pattern called La Nina. Latest evidence shows La Nina, linked to extreme winter weather in America and with a knock-on effect on Britain, is in force and will gradually strengthen as the year ends.

The climate phenomenon, characterised by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Pacific, was linked to our icy winter last year – one of the coldest on record.

And it coincides with research from the Met Office indicating the nation could be facing a repeat of the “little ice age” that gripped the country 300 years ago, causing decades of harsh winters.

The prediction, to be published in Nature magazine, is based on observations of a slight fall in the sun’s emissions of ultraviolet radiation, which may, over a long period, trigger Arctic conditions for many years.

Although a connection between La Nina and conditions in Europe is scientifically uncertain, ministers have warned transport organisations and emergency services not to take any chances. Forecasts suggest the country could be shivering in a big freeze as severe and sustained as last winter from as early as the end of this month.

La Nina, which occurs every three to five years, has a powerful effect on weather thousands of miles away by influencing an intense upper air current that helps create low pressure fronts.

Another factor that can affect Europe is the amount of ice in the Arctic and sea temperatures closer to home.

Ian Currie, of the Meterological Society, said: “All the world’s weather systems are connected. What is going on now in the Pacific can have repercussions later around the world.”

Parts of the country already saw the first snowfalls of the winter last week, dumping two inches on the Cairngorms in Scotland. And forecaster James Madden, from Exacta Weather, warned we are facing a “severely cold and snowy winter”.

Councils say they are fully prepared having stockpiled thousands of tons of extra grit. And the Local Government Association says it had more salt available at the beginning of this month than the total used last winter.

But the mountain of salt could be dug into very soon amid widespread heavy snow as early as the start of next month. Last winter, the Met Office was heavily criticised after predicting a mild winter, only to see the country grind to a halt amid hazardous driving conditions in temperatures as low as -20C.

Peter Box, the Local Government Association’s economy and transport spokesman, said: “Local authorities have been hard at work making preparations for this winter and keeping the roads open will be our number one priority.”

The National Grid will this week release its forecast for winter energy use based on long-range weather forecasts. Such forecasting is, however, notoriously difficult, especially for the UK, which is subject to a wide range of competing climatic forces.

A Met Office spokesman said that although La Nina was recurring, the temperatures in the equatorial Pacific were so far only 1C below normal, compared with a drop of 2C at the same time last year.

Research by America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that in 2010-11 La Nina contributed to record winter snowfalls, spring flooding and drought across the world.


Three quarters of British bosses say graduates are not fit for work

Three out of four bosses say school leavers and graduates lack the basic skills needed to join the workforce.

A poll of some of Britain’s biggest businesses, such as HSBC, Santander, KPMG and Procter & Gamble, found widespread despair with the quality of potential recruits.

Many young people turn up for interviews ‘without the vital employability skills that employers are looking for’, such as punctuality and a general ‘can-do’ attitude.

The research was carried out by the Young Enterprise charity. Its chairman Ian Smith said: ‘The situation is getting worse because the Department for Education is adopting an alarmingly narrow focus on academic skills and exams. ‘This will make it less likely that students emerge from education with these employability skills.’

As a result, Britain’s top bosses say they have no option but to recruit foreign workers, or to shift work abroad to overseas subsidiaries.

Young Enterprise says the recruitment crisis affects everybody from 16-year-old school leavers to university graduates in their early 20s.

Asked to identify which skills were lacking in their new recruits, one said ‘too many to list’, before adding: ‘Commercial awareness, written and spoken English to a high enough level, technical skills, inter-personal skills, you name it.’

Another said: ‘Basic literacy in maths and English. Soft skills – how to behave in an office or professional environment.’

The criticism follows similar repeated attacks on standards from business lobby groups. In August, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said bosses prefer foreign workers to British school leavers because they have a more ‘positive’ attitude.The report said employers have ‘concerns about the employability of young people’, but are ‘eager’ to hire migrant workers because they love their attitude and their skills.

The British Chambers of Commerce said many school leavers and graduates with ‘fairly useless’ degrees are unemployable because they lack basic skills.

Its report, published in the summer, warned: ‘Too many people [are] coming out with fairly useless degrees in non-serious subjects.’

When asked about their concerns, bosses were critical of some of the most basic skills. The report states: ‘In general, younger people lack numeric skills, research skills, ability to focus and read plus written English.’

One unnamed entrepreneur told researchers: ‘Plenty of unemployed, mostly without experience in my sector. The interpersonal skills of some labour interviewed in the past have been very poor.’

Earlier this year, it was also revealed Britain has become the ‘Neet’ capital of Western Europe, having more young people out of work or education than even Romania.

Only four of the 27 European Union nations have more poorly educated and unskilled young people. In just five years, 12 EU countries have overhauled Britain and now have fewer youngsters without qualifications.

For the latest study, Young Enterprise polled 28 major companies and professional bodies, which are their main corporate sponsors, such as Accenture, BT and GKN.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘We share the concerns of many businesses that too many of our young people leave school without the necessary skills – in particular in the basics of English and maths. That’s why we are prioritising them.’


Britain’s millionaires mostly went to state schools

The discussion below is a bit careless. 28% of millionaires went to private schools. But because only 7% of Brits go to private school, the figures mean that ex-private pupils were 4 times more likely to become millionaires than others

Self-made millionaires are more likely to have gone to state school and the University of London than private school and Oxford or Cambridge, new research has found.

Almost 72 per cent of millionaires attended state schools while the balance went to private schools, according to research by Skandia, a branch of insurer Old Mutual.

Of the millionaires who attended university, 11 per cent went to the University of London while 8 per cent went to Oxford and 5.5 per cent went to Cambridge.

The findings are revealed in a study of 549 people with “net investable assets” of £1 million or over, Skandia said.

Of the sample, almost 60 per cent of the millionaires were male and more than half were under the age of 50. However the survey found that more women than men had net assets of over £3 million.

Almost a third of the millionaires said that Government policies – such as high taxes – are the biggest threat to their wealth. This compared to a fifth who said that they see a stock market crash or economic uncertainty as the biggest threat to their wealth.

In a sign that the Government’s 50 per cent tax rate is driving wealth-creators overseas, more than half of the millionaires said that they plan to or would consider emigrating abroad.


Welsh Soccer star called a “sheepshagger”

It’s an insult most usually applied to New Zealanders, where there are many more sheep than people. Many Australians consider it amusing to greet newly arrived New Zealanders (New Zealand is a significant source of immigrants to Australia) with sallies like: “I hear you have got some good-looking sheep over there”. That may be one reason why New Zealanders tend to dislike Australians.

Football chiefs are investigating an official racism complaint about star Craig Bellamy after he was allegedly called a ‘sheep-sh***er’ during a match.

The Wales and Liverpool striker was allegedly the victim of ‘inhuman, degrading and vile’ taunts by rival fans.

Bellamy, who earns £80,000 a week, was targeted by fans of Brighton when Liverpool played them in the Carling Cup last month. Liverpool won the tie 2-1, with Bellamy scoring the opening goal for the Premiership side.

Notorious bad boy Bellamy, 31, is a proud Welshman and a former captain of the national side.

It is alleged that the calls of ‘sheepsh***er’ came from the terraces at Brighton and Hove Albion’s ground during the crunch match on September 21.

The club could be fined if it is found not to have properly controlled the behaviour of fans.


No doubt it is unpleasant to be accused of having sex with sheep but abusing members of the other side has long been part and parcel of many sports and used not be be taken too seriously.


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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