‘Uncaring’ NHS hospital

This trust has had five different chief executives in five years, but that has not dealt with the underlying problems such as the unacceptable culture among staff.

The trust is also in terrible financial trouble. The Government wants all trusts to achieve foundation status by 2014 but Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of those that just won’t make it.

NHS London’s only solution is to close services but that isn’t the answer here. The trust needs to focus all its energies on improving quality and sorting out its finances.

This report from the Care Quality Commission is a damning indictment of the safety and quality of care at Queen’s Hospital.

As the CQC report says, Queen’s simply cannot cope. That’s why it would be madness to close the A&E and maternity units at King George Hospital.

The report is shocking but not surprising to those of us who have been campaigning for better hospital services for years. In a modern NHS, it is scandalous that maternity services are so poor that the lives of mothers and babies are at risk from unsafe care.

The A&E cannot cope and without urgent action we will see a repeat of last winter when the service all but collapsed.

It is outrageous that radiological tests identifying people as potentially having serious health conditions like cancer are not always reported and acted on.

And it is completely unacceptable that some patients are waiting hours for pain relief, waiting hours for beds after surgery, and in some cases suffering abuse at the hands of staff. Staff are not even getting patients’ names and dates of births right in their records.

These are the same issues we have seen time and time again. I won’t be fobbed off by the trust telling me they’ve recruited more staff. This report shows they do not have the right staff in the right places – and that they are planning to cut staff in order to cut costs.

This has gone on far too long. The Department of Health and NHS London must stop simply blaming hospital management and take responsibility.

Any thought of closing the A&E and maternity services at King George hospital is sheer madness. At a time when Queen’s cannot cope with existing pressures it would be devastating for the health care my constituents receive.

Everybody must now focus all their energies on turning around these failing services and ensuring patients receive the basic standards of care they have a right to expect.


Workshy Black British cop says it was racist not to give him special treatment

Readers of literary classics may be remninded by the story below of “The N*gger of the ‘Narcissus’ ” by Joseph Conrad

A senior Metropolitan Police officer forced to resign in the wake of the phone hacking scandal was racist and homophobic, an employment tribunal heard today. Assistant Commissioner John Yates, due to formally step down in November, was allegedly ‘extremely brief’ when dealing with the case of a black, gay officer who was off sick with depression.

Detective Constable Kevin Maxwell, who is suing the force based on claims he was bullied due to his race and sexuality, wanted discretion to keep his £40,000-a-year salary longer than the normal six month period.

However, Mr Yates refused to grant him the special treatment, usually reserved for hero officers injured in the line of duty, traumatised child abuse investigators and the terminally ill.

Kweku Aggrey-Orleans, representing Detective Constable Maxwell, told Mr Yates: ‘I suggest that you dealt with Mr Maxwell’s application for an extension of pay extremely briefly and without properly considering it because you knew that he had raised allegations of racism and homophobia.’

Mr Yates replied: ‘No that’s complete nonsense. I gave very careful consideration to this. ‘I was very concerned about Kevin, very concerned about his well being.’

Mr Aggery continued: ‘And also that you dealt with the appeal extremely briefly because Kevin was black and gay.’ Mr Yates replied: ‘That doesn’t merit an answer but it’s absolute nonsense.’

Detective Constable Maxwell claims he was bullied by colleagues at Heathrow Airport and witnessed racism while on duty. He claims a colleague refused to eat a curry on a trip to a mosque aimed at building community relations because ‘they would have spat in it’, and said fellow officers did not like being lectured to by imams.

However, Mr Yates said it was not his responsibility to deal with issues related to Detective Constable Maxwell’s claims he was off sick because he was discriminated against at work.

Mr Yates said in written evidence to the tribunal: ‘I did not reject Detective Constable Maxwell’s appeal on the ground of his race or his sexual orientation. ‘I rejected his appeal because his case did not meet the criteria. ‘I have declined to extend the full pay of other officers who did not meet the criteria.’

The tribunal heard how Detective Constable Maxwell was offered any job he liked as senior Metropolitan Police officers were left ‘bending over backwards’ trying to get him back to work. He was told he could move to a different part of London where he would never see the officers who he worked with at Heathrow Airport again.

However, he turned down the offer and the tribunal heard how he wanted the Met. to address his concerns about racism and homophobia, rather than simply moving him elsewhere.

Detective Inspector Ajoy Gosain, his welfare officer, said: ‘When I met Det. Chief Insp. D’Orsi we discussed the issue of identifying a suitable post for Detective Constable Maxwell to return to. ‘I thought that Detective Chief Inspector D’Orsi was taking a genuine and generous approach towards Kevin Maxwell in that regard. I felt he was bending over backwards to try to assist Detective Constable Maxwell in getting back to work.

‘In that he had such an open ended offer, Detective Constable Maxwell was in a favourable position.’

Detective Inspector Gosain, a former president of the Kent Black Police Association, described how he met the officer in June 2010 to try and convince him to return to work. ‘The following day Detective Constable Maxwell emailed me to say that he didn’t feel he could return and to ask me not to raise the issue of returning again. ‘I was deeply disappointed with Detective Constable Maxwell’s reaction.

‘I had genuinely tried to help get him back to work in any way possible and I was disappointed that he seemed to totally dismiss what I had been saying.’

Detective Constable Maxwell, of Wilmington Square, London, is facing dismissal from the force under the Unsatisfactory Performance Procedure after being off sick since July 2009.

He said he developed depression after being bullied at work due to his race and sexual orientation. He had worked his way up to Detective Constable after first joining the Greater Manchester Police in 2001. He transferred to the Met Police in October 2008.


Your call will be answered in 37 HOURS: Retired headteacher faces day-and-a-half on hold after phoning council to complain about bin collection

All he wanted was for his rubbish to be taken away so when the binmen were four days late John Regan decided to find out why. The retired headteacher picked up the phone and called Winchester City Council helpline hoping for a swift answer to his query. But the taped message the 60-year-old father of two received stunned him. He was ‘in a 37-hour queue’.

Exasperated and, unsurprisingly, not prepared to wait a day and a half for an answer he then called the council’s main number, only to be diverted to Hampshire County Council switchboard. Today his rubbish bins had still not been collected, seven days after they were meant to be emptied.

Mr Regan, from Winchester, said: ‘I just want my rubbish collected. What is so difficult about emptying my bin? He added: ‘I rang Winchester council after four days and I was told I was in a 37-hour queue. ‘I thought this was ridiculous so I rang their main number but I was then diverted to the county council where the operator said the city council number was overloaded.

‘I am increasingly exasperated. We are in the country so there is a potential vermin. It is also unsightly. I just want my rubbish collected. ‘In any sort of business you would not be tolerate being treated like this.’

Winchester Council today admitted it had received a staggering 4,000 queries about the new waste collection service it had introduced with East Hampshire Council using the contractor BIFFA. Of that number 558 were about bins not being emptied.

A Winchester City Council spokesman said: ‘We had an issue with our telephone system which was telling people there was a 37-hour wait but nobody waited more than 30 minutes. ‘We have his case as a missed bin. BIFFA is now going around doing additional collections.’


WW2 play cancelled over ‘censorship’ claims

A playwright has cancelled a play set during the Second World War after claiming he was asked to remove references to Nazis, Jews and the invasion of Poland over fears of “offending” the audience.

Rod Tinson, whose Halloween play was due to be staged at Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, has accused English Heritage of trying to create a “Disneyfied” version of history by insisting on changes to his script.

The play featured scenes from different periods in the Tudor castle’s history, including its role during the Second World War as a key coastal defence against German invasion of Britain.

Mr Tinson says the quango asked him to tone down parts of the script, including a young Jewish character expressing fears about his family in occupied Poland, over concerns that visitors would be “offended” by the material.

The playwright cancelled the play after refusing to make the requested changes. He said he could not understand why his script would be deemed offensive.

“They said it was inappropriate for an English Heritage audience. What version of history are they trying to illustrate at this place?” Mr Tinson added.

“It was intended for adults, many of whom remember the War or know people who were involved in it. I cannot understand it. I refused to change it because it would have changed the whole storyline.

“The reason the buildings are there was to fight off any attempts by the Germans to invade.”

The play was due to be performed as part of the castle’s adults-only ‘ghost tours’ programme, which runs for four nights over the weekend.

Mr Tinson’s script made frequent reference to the venue’s historic World War Two gun batteries.

Charlie Fear, events manager at Pendennis Castle, said the programme would go ahead with a script from a different writer.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to pull Mr Tinson’s play and we will reimburse him for his time and effort,” she said. “This was our first time working with Mr Tinson and we were unable to agree on the right approach for our event.”

In an email said to be from Ms Fear, she wrote: “I need to be very clear here, and in order to make this work, we have to remove any references to sex (including buggary (sic)) and any swear words, including ‘bloody’ I’m afraid. I would also like the references to Poland, Jews and Nazis removed too please.

“Our English Heritage visitors would be offended by the content as it still stands and it is essential that I ensure that this does not happen.

“I understand that you want to bring your characters to life, but we have to tone down the language. I hope you understand this and the responsibility I have to ensure that I meet our visitors’ expectations.”

Pendennis Castle was built between 1540 and 1545 to protect the Fal river estuary from attack by France and Spain. It is the Cornish end of a chain of coastal artillery fortresses built by Henry VIII.

It was later updated during the reign of Elizabeth I and again before the Civil War, when it was subjected to a five-month siege by Parliamentarian forces.

The castle is also home to a collection of wartime cartoons of Hitler and Mussolini by illustrator George Butterworth.


Record spending cuts hit British nursery schools

Children from middle-class families will be hardest hit by the most severe funding cuts to state education since records began more than 50 years ago, a report has warned.

Exam results are expected to fall as a result of the cuts, leaving future generations with lower grades and struggling to secure well-paid jobs, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Its study concluded that schools with higher numbers of children from affluent backgrounds would fare worse than those in the poorest neighbourhoods, which would receive more money under the Coalition’s plans.

The budget for renovating school buildings would fall by more than half in real terms over the next four years, while universities would see their funding cut by 40 per cent. However, the most severe impact on children’s education would be in nurseries and playgroups, as “early years” education funding is reduced by a fifth, the IFS warned.

Teachers said the report undermined promises from Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, to protect the education budget from cuts. However, the Government stressed that it had been forced to make “tough decisions” and blamed Labour’s inefficiency for wasting money over the past decade.

At the Comprehensive Spending Review a year ago, ministers announced that state funding for schools would be maintained in real terms. However, official forecasts of inflation have risen sharply since. The IFS said the result would be a cut in “real terms” of 13.4 per cent across the UK between 2010-11 and 2014-15.

After the largest increases in education spending since the 1970s under the previous Labour government, the next four years would see the largest reductions in state spending on education over any four-year period since records began in 1955, the IFS said.

Its report found that in England:

* Spending on early years education and youth services, is expected to be cut by more than 20 per cent in real terms. Planned cuts to education for 16- to 19-year-olds are likely to be of a similar magnitude.

* Schools will see the smallest real-terms cut of about 1 per cent. The areas suffering most will be higher education, with a 40 per cent fall in real terms, and capital spending, which will fall by more than 50 per cent.

The schools that will be worst affected will be in the more affluent communities after the Coalition introduced a “pupil premium” to provide extra money for educating the poorest children in society.

Luke Sibieta, senior research economist at the IFS and co-author of the report, said about 30 per cent of primary schools and 40 per cent of secondary schools would see significant real-term cuts as their budgets failed to keep pace with rising costs.

“These are unquestionably the more affluent, less deprived schools,” he said. A school with only 5 per cent of pupils entitled to free school meals would receive a budget increase of just 0.5 per cent, he added.

Studies have shown a link between increased resources for schools and improvements in exam results, suggesting that the funding cuts would result in “a small fall” in grades in the future, Mr Sibieta said. “The implication we all care about is how it will matter for educational outcomes, will it matter for young people’s exam results or earnings potential?” he said.

While schools were “relatively protected”, with cuts of only about 1 per cent to their core funding, the “real challenges” would be faced by nurseries and colleges.

“The concern would be the extent to which these cuts to financial resources are translated to worse outcomes in early years and their ability to provide the same services,” said Mr Sibieta.

Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said the cuts would have “massive implications” for the quality of children’s education. “So much for Michael Gove saying education was protected,” she said. “It clearly is back to the future with this government.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said ministers had to take “tough decisions to reduce the deficit”. “The schools’ budget is actually increasing by £3.6 billion over the next four years,” he said. “This protects per pupil funding levels and includes the new pupil premium, which provides an extra £488 for every child on free school meals and which will rise over the next three years.

“The two-year freeze on teachers’ pay also means schools are benefiting from a lower level of inflation.”

He said the Government was right to look at the spending on school buildings because much of it was being spent on red tape and consultants.


British Universities see 40pc fall in soft subject applications

Softer university subjects such as communication studies and creative arts have seen a drop in applications of up to 40 per cent as students seek value for the controversial £9,000 tuition fee, according to figures released on Monday.

Overall applications for university courses starting in 2012 have fallen by 9 per cent but the subjects worst hit are those which students may consider would offer the least reward and which tend to be offered by the less prestigious institutions.

Applications for ‘mass communication and documentation’ subjects, such as media studies and PR, have been hit the hardest, falling 40.6 per cent compared to this time last year.

Education courses have also suffered, with applications dropping by 30 per cent while interest in creative arts has dropped by 27.1 per cent and business and administration studies by 26.1per cent.

By comparison, applications for Oxford or Cambridge and for any medicine, veterinary or dentistry courses, for which the deadline was October 15, are down by just 0.8 per cent.

The number of 18-year-old Oxbridge applicants is up by 1.1 per cent on last year, despite a population of 2 per cent fewer 18-year-olds this year compared to last.

Although almost every subject has witnessed a drop in applications, the more traditional university courses such as mathematics, engineering and languages have not fared quite as badly as others.

With three months to go before the final deadline, applications for mathematics and computer science are down 2.6 per cent on this time last year, for law, they are down 5.2 per cent and for linguistics and classics, down 1.7 per cent. Applications for history and philosophical studies are down 5.9 per cent and European language and literature down 10.1%.

A UCAS spokeswoman said that despite the drop, the vast majority of universities surveyed had reported an equal or increased interest in open days, suggesting that students may simply be taking more care over their applications with so much money at stake.

She said: “People want to see where their money is going. They appear to be taking a little more care when deciding and may be less likely to enrol on a course at a university they have not even visited.

“This may simply explain a delay in applying. The figures could still rise over the next three months.”

The cap on tuition fees will almost triple for those starting degree courses next September, rising from £3,375 to £9,000.

Unions representing university students and lecturers blamed the Government’s higher education policies for deterring applicants.

Toni Pearce, vice president of the National Union of Students, said: “The indication is that the confusion caused by the Government’s botched reforms is causing young people to, at the very least, hesitate before applying to university.

“Ministers must stop tinkering around the edges of their shambolic reforms, listen to students, teachers and universities, and completely overhaul their white paper before temporary chaos turns into permanent damage to our education system.”

Sally Hunt, general secretary for the University and College Union, which represents more than 120,000 academic staff, said: “The Government’s fee policies have been a complete mess from day one.

“First, the Government promised that fees of more than £6,000 a year would be the exception rather than the rule, but budgeted for an average fee of £7,500.

“As everyone predicted, the average fee was far higher than that and, even more predictably, the number of students applying to university has dropped.”

But David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister, insisted that it was too early in the applications cycle for data to reveal underlying trends.

He added: “Going to university depends on ability, not the ability to pay. Most new students will not pay upfront, there will be more financial support for those from poorer families, and everyone will make lower loan repayments than they do now once they are in well-paid jobs.”



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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