Worse than one of the poorest countries in Europe: Romanian nurses shocked by Britain’s care of the elderly
Nurses from Romania are shocked by the neglect of Britain’s elderly, the head of the Royal College of Nursing has said. Dr Peter Carter said nurses who had trained in Eastern Europe were “astonished” by the priority the NHS places on paperwork, and by the number of elderly patients admitted to hospitals suffering from bedsores – which had gone unnoticed either by their families or by staff in care homes.
The General Secretary made the comments in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, in which he said nurses from overseas were contributing a great deal to Britain’s health service, while often being unfairly maligned for the quality of their work.
He said nurses from outside Britain had offered him valuable insights into both the culture of its health service, which they said had too much paperwork, and by and how Britain treats its elderly.
Dr Carter asked nurses who had come from Romania about the differences that struck them about working in this country as he visited a hospital. “The first thing they said was that they are astonished by the amount of paperwork,” he said. “They said they would never ever have dreamt they would spend so much time just writing things down.”
“The second thing was about the number of people that come into hospital with pressure sores. They had never seen the like of it. “Some of it is elderly frail people coming from their own homes – in some cases it was from other residential establishments. They said that really took them by surprise – that was their honest appraisal.”
Dr Carter said the cases emerging from care homes were a symptom of growing problems in the sector, which he said made far too much use of untrained assistants, liable to miss alarm bells warnings of deteriorating health. “There are plenty of homes that provide good care … but clearly there are problems emerging and in some areas they are having difficulty maintaining standards,” the senior nurse said. “There is no doubt that many of them have a massive over-reliance on healthcare assistants.
“In a care home we believe even the most junior healthcare assistants should have mandatory training, in relation to the care of the elderly, and to understand the early warning signs of pressure sores, and to see that as an immediate alert – but the average healthcare assistant will not think like that,” he said.
The senior nurse said yet more cases emerged from frail elderly people living on their own, with relatives were often simply not aware that their loved ones were developing sores which could endanger their health. “I’m not criticising the families, often people live hundreds of miles away,” said Dr Carter.
“What you need is more infrastructure and help in the community. When you have got someone living on their own, sitting in a chair or in bed hour after hour on their own, they are more vulnerable to pressure ulcers and falls,” he said.
Dr Carter said the staff from Romania spoke very positively about several other aspects of the NHS, but that their concerns deserved serious debate.
Nurses from other countries in Europe had also raised important issues with him, he said, such as a reluctance within Britain’s health service to involve families in the patient’s care, he said. “In Spain, families are at the heart of care, and they are expected to attend the case conference, so they know what is going on, and can give input,” he said. “That happens in some places, but not often enough here,” he said, describing how families had been locked out of even the most crucial decisions, such as whether to resuscitate a a patient.
A new report published by the RCN claims the NHS is heading for “crisis point,” with more than 56,000 health service jobs due to be axed, as part of NHS “efficiency savings”.
Analysis by the nurses’ union suggests that half of the posts which have been identified for cuts are clinical jobs, with nurses’ posts accounting for one in three of the cuts planned.
Although the Government has pledged not to cut overall health spending, rising demand from an ageing population means the service is trying to identify £20 bn “efficiency savings” to cope with the extra needs.
Dr Carter said: “We have always accepted that savings need to be made in the NHS, but cutting frontline staff and services that vulnerable patients rely on is just not the way to do it.”
Health Minister Simon Burns said the Government did not recognise the figures, which he dismissed as “typical trade union scaremongering.”
England ‘is world’s sixth most crowded country: High rate of immigration blame for population surge
High immigration has made England one of the most crowded countries in the world, a report said yesterday. It found that 6.6million foreign-born people live in England – and only 500,000 elsewhere in the UK.
As a result England has become the sixth most densely populated major nation, according to the analysis from the MigrationWatch think-tank. Only Bangladesh, Taiwan, South Korea, Lebanon and Rwanda have more people per square mile.
Sir Andrew Green, who chairs MigrationWatch which compiled the report, said: ‘The immigration lobby like to talk about the UK, obscuring the fact that England is six times as crowded as Scotland.
‘Since the vast majority of immigrants come to England, it is England’s place in the league table that counts. ‘Leaving aside city states and small islands, England lies sixth among the most crowded countries in the world.
‘As people sit in traffic jams or squeeze on to their morning trains it will be clearly ridiculous to claim that their eyes are deceiving them and there is not a problem simply because places like the Maldives or Mayotte have higher population densities than England.’
The study calculated that 93 per cent of immigrants settle in England, and that 86 per cent of projected population growth will occur there. The Office for National Statistics has projected the landmark 70million figure for the UK is likely to be reached in 16 years.
More than 120,000 people have signed a petition calling for a Commons debate on the need to curb immigration and keep numbers below 70million, a point at which many analysts believe housing, transport and public services would be overstretched.
Brussels said yesterday that it wants to make it easier for immigrants to get into Europe in order to boost economies.
Cecilia Malmstrom, EU home affairs commissioner, said new systems would help migrants get visas faster, find jobs matching their skills and make it cheaper for them to send money to family members back home.
She said the EU was establishing ‘mobility partnerships’ with Tunisia and Morocco to manage migration and hoped to establish them with Egypt and Libya.
The UK press is on trial for its freedom
And the tabloids have already been found guilty by Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry/inquisition
The Leveson Inquiry, set up by the UK government in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, has just begun and is not due to report until late 2012. After the very first day’s proceedings, however, the result of the judicial inquisition led by Lord Justice Leveson already seems clear enough.
Behind the charade of neutrality, the British press is on trial for its freedom here. And the verdict is in: the tabloid press in particular has already been found guilty. Only the precise sentence remains to be decided.
Why else would Tory prime minister David Cameron, with all-party support, have ordered a judge-led inquiry not only to look into the phone-hacking cases but to scrutinise the entire ‘culture, practice and ethics’ of the UK press? It seems unlikely he expects it to conclude by praising the sophisticated culture, sound practice and high-minded ethics of the media. The rest of the tabloid press might avoid the death sentence already imposed on the News of the World. But it seems set to take a punitive beating and be subject to supervision orders.
The headlines this week are once again all about the extent of phone-hacking practised at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World and possibly other papers. But it has been clear all along that this circus is about far more than that. Of course the interception of murdered teenager Milly Dowler’s voicemail was indefensible, which is why nobody has ever tried to defend it. It was an extreme symptom of a degenerative strain in British journalism, the shift from investigation to voyeurism. As such it should prompt journalists to look at themselves, while the police look into any criminal aspects.
Instead, the voicemail hacking of the high-profile victims and celebrities has been turned into a pretext for the authorities to interrogate the entire press, using the Dowler family along with the likes of Madeleine McCann’s parents as emotive human shields behind which they can advance their crusade to ‘clean up’ the media industry. It was explained this week that part two of the inquiry, looking into the broader culture and ethics of the media, would unfortunately have to precede part one, examining phone-hacking in detail, because too many of those allegations are still the subject of criminal investigations. In fact this turnaround inadvertently confirms the real priority behind the Leveson inquiry – to put the press, rather than some hackers and their backers, in the dock.
For instance, as Robert Jay, the smug-sounding QC acting as counsel to the inquiry, laid out in his opening remarks, they will not confine their investigation to phone-hacking but will also examine any other ‘illegal and unethical’ practices used to obtain stories, from subterfuge to blagging. Yet these are all the tools of investigative journalism, used by reporters who often have to sail close to the wind to uncover truths that somebody does not want to see revealed. I always recall the words of William Randolph Hearst, a US press baron and the Rupert Murdoch of his day, who defined news as ‘something somebody doesn’t want printed; all else is advertising’. Underhand methods, possibly including rooting through somebody’s bins and voicemails, are often the only way for the media to get answers others would rather not give.
Of course the inquiry’s top lawyer was at pains to insist that they were not opposed to investigative journalism as such. So what examples did he give of investigations of which Leveson and Co might approve? Surprise, surprise, he cited the Guardian’s obsessive campaign over News of the World phone-hacking, which began long before anybody suggested Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, and seemed driven largely by the conviction that the Murdoch press was evil. He also endorsed the Daily Telegraph’s high-minded revelations over MPs’ expenses – which arguably were not produced by investigative journalism at all, but by simply republishing leaked documents. The irony is that one British paper still investing serious resources in making and breaking investigative news stories was the tabloid News of the World. But those distasteful probings did not meet with the legal establishment’s approval.
As Lord Justice Leveson himself made clear in his opening statement, the key question his inquiry will address is not who knew what about hacking but the far grander issue of ‘Who guards the guardians?’ Which means: how is the press to be best policed and controlled – by law, or by a strengthened watchdog, or what? David Cameron has said in advance that if Lord Leveson’s inquiry were to recommend full statutory regulation of the press, then that is what we would get. The decision on how far to reverse the centuries-long struggle for press freedom is effectively in the hands of an unelected, unaccountable law lord.
Yet almost everybody is going along with the ‘important’ Leveson inquiry and the need for new measures to tame the press. Even self-serving celebrity muppets such as Hugh Grant have been accepted as the authentic defenders of ‘the public interest’ against tabloid prying. The only voices speaking up for the freedom of the tabloid press seem to be the editors of those papers, backed by a few more traditionalist establishment figures. The liberal elite, however, appears to be fully behind Lord Justice Leveson and his legal guardians. This should hardly come as a shock; the allegedly liberal Guardian newspaper has led the campaign for more police and court action against tabloid journalists, and a Labour spokesman on the media recently proposed that journalists be formally licensed, so that they could be ‘struck off’ the register if they failed to meet the standards demanded by the authorities. (Meanwhile, almost the only ‘alternative’ to full statutory regulation being proposed is to police the press via a more muscular Press Complaints Commission with mandatory powers, which is now headed by another unelected, unaccountable Lord.)
The outlook of the liberal elite today was captured by Leveson’s opening statement to his inquiry, where he said he believed the freedom of the press to be ‘fundamental’ to ‘our way of life’, before adding the obligatory ‘But…’ They all believe in press freedom ‘But…’ these days. And the buts are getting bigger. Lord Justice Leveson went on to insist that he had ‘no wish to stifle freedom of speech or expression, BUT I anticipate that monitoring will take place of press coverage [of the inquiry] and it might be necessary to conclude that those vital rights are being abused’. In other words, the media is ‘free’ to remain on message.
Enough. In all the debate about reform and regulation, the underlying assumption is that the media – and especially the ‘feral’ tabloid press – is now too free to run wild and trample over decency and privacy. But the real problem is very different.
There is not too much media freedom in Britain today, but too little. There are not too few controls and restrictions on what can legitimately be published and broadcast, but already too many – both formal and informal.
Some newspapers in Britain and elsewhere might be going ‘free’ in financial terms, under pressure from declining sales and the new online media. But in almost every way that matters, the press is less free – thanks both to external constraints and the internal corrosion of the foundations of good journalism.
The UK press is less free from the threat of state regulation or of tighter ‘self-‘regulation; less free from the stultifying conformism that generally makes censorship unnecessary; less free in the sense of being willing and able fearlessly to investigate the truth; less free in terms of being independent of the political class; less free in the sense of being objective and open-minded; less free under the influence of the narrow-minded, emotionally correct, celebrity-centric, you-can’t-say-that culture of intolerance which has drained much of our public debate of substance and meaning.
These are the issues we should be debating in the open, not watching while the fate of a free press is deliberated over by government-appointed judges and lawyers.
And worse, we are left with this sorry state of press freedom at a moment when our society is in the midst of an economic and political crisis that has posed new questions and exposed many of the old answers as redundant. There can rarely have been a more pressing need for a free and open debate about how we got here and where we might want to go in future. And the media in all of its shapes and sizes has never been more important as a forum for public debate, the decline in the authority and standing of every other public institution leaving it with a virtual monopoly on shaping the national discussion.
Even before Lord Justice Leveson and his legal team get to work on it, there is no such thing as a free press in the UK – and we have never needed one more than now. The last thing we need is a fixed state-appointed inquiry to make matters worse. Never mind ‘who guards the guardians?’ Who will judge the judges?
Child rapist used ‘human rights’ to fight deportation from Britain – then struck again
A convicted sex attacker raped and violently molested two young girls as he fought deportation on human rights grounds. Asylum-seeker William Danga, 39, subjected the children to appalling abuse before and after he was jailed for raping a teenager.
One was just four years old when the Congolese national forced himself on her before heading out to preach as a Jehovah’s Witness.
Yesterday a judge said it was ‘remarkable’ that the sex attacker was not thrown out of Britain after being jailed for ten years for raping a 16-year-old girl a decade ago. Officials were ordered to deport Danga at the end of his sentence but he frustrated their efforts after losing his passport.
He was then freed on immigration bail while he challenged the move on the grounds that he had a right to a ‘family life’ because he had children with a young girlfriend.
The case is the latest in a string of outrages in which dangerous foreign criminals have used European laws to continue living here.
Just two months ago Nigerian rapist Akindoyin Akinshipe, 24, escaped deportation after European judges ruled he had a right to a ‘private life’ in Britain. Like many others, he used Article 8 of the Human Rights Act to claim the right to a ‘family life’.
Home Secretary Theresa May wants to scale back the use of the controversial clause in a bid to wrest back more control over our borders.
Danga was convicted of rape and a string of other sexual offences yesterday after a five-day trial at Croydon Crown Court, and jailed for 15 years.
His victims, now aged 14 and 12, were forced to relive their ordeals as they gave evidence to the jury via video link. The elder girl was first abused in 2000, when she was four.
Danga repeatedly attacked her before church meetings, but she escaped his clutches when he was sent from South East London to live in an immigration hostel in Portsmouth a year later. It was there that Danga was convicted of violently raping the 16-year-old girl in her bedroom after she tried to end their friendship. He was convicted of rape and jailed for ten years, with the judge ordering him to be deported on his release.
But in 2006 he was able to return to South East London after serving half his sentence, and began his legal battle to stay in Britain.
He began sexually abusing his first victim again before raping and molesting the second girl, who was just seven.
She said Danga wore a smart brown suit and would leave after the attacks to knock on doors and teach people about the Bible.
The younger victim told officers Danga would entice her into the bedroom by playing her pop hits including ‘Don’t Cha’ by the Pussycat Dolls on his mobile phone.
Describing one attack, she said: ‘I didn’t really like it but I didn’t say anything because of the music. I didn’t want it to happen again.’ Asked why she did not tell her parents, she added: ‘It crossed my mind a few times but then it was like, I felt like really bad because I felt it was all my fault.’
Yesterday Judge Nicholas Ainley jailed Danga of Beckenham, South East London, and ordered that he be deported on his release. He said it was ‘astonishing’ he had been allowed to remain in Britain after being freed the first time in 2006.
Unemployed Danga, who has two young children with his girlfriend Carla, whom he met when she was 18, shouted abuse at relatives of the two girls as he was led to the cells.
Last year around 200 foreign criminals won the right to stay in this country using Article 8, the right to a ‘private and family life’. They included failed asylum seeker Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, who ran over 12-year-old Amy Houston and left her to ‘die like a dog’. He has fathered two children here.
Tory ministers have pledged to replace the Human Rights Act – which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights into British law – with a UK Bill of Rights, but they have been opposed by their Lib Dem coalition partners.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We will seek to remove this individual as soon as he has finished his sentence. In 2010 we deported 5,235 foreign national prisoners from the UK.’
Generation betrayed by bogus promises: Britain’s failing schools are ‘forcing UK firms to choose foreign workers’
Britain has produced a lost generation of young people who lack essential literacy, numeracy and communication skills – and cannot be trusted to turn up to work on time, an influential report has warned.
It says failing schools have left employers no option but to hire foreign workers, who are punctual, work harder and have a more positive attitude.
‘It is not just lower skilled jobs – this is the perception right across the board,’ said report author Gerwyn Davies, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Mr Davies’s warning came as unemployment among those aged 16 to 24 hit a record one million.
At the same time, demand for migrant workers has never been higher. Around 500 foreigners landed a job in Britain every day over the past year, while the number of British-born workers doing so has crashed by 850 a day.
Mr Davies said there was a belief among employers that the education system was not ‘fit for purpose’. ‘They argue that our education skills are too geared towards testing and written examinations,’ he said. ‘They believe many school-leavers don’t possess communication skills.’
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Mr Davies predicted that the unremittingly bleak picture painted by employers was likely to worsen.
Experts are growing increasingly worried by the scale of the crisis facing young people – more than one in five is unemployed – and warn of consequences such as debt, self-loathing and depression. ‘Youth unemployment is likely to increase further because there are more experienced people being made redundant who are perhaps more employable,’ said Mr Davies.
His quarterly Labour Market Outlook report, based on a survey of more than 1,000 public and private-sector employers, is regarded as the most authoritative indicator of employers’ recruitment intentions – and, crucially, lays bare how they perceive school-leavers.
Only 12 per cent of employers said they planned to hire school-leavers this year. And only a quarter would consider 17 to 18-year-olds.
When asked what skills the Government should focus on improving to encourage the recruitment of British school-leavers, more than half cited literacy. Forty-two per cent identified numeracy, while 40 per cent said communication and customer service skills.
‘It is the employers’ perception that workers from Poland and Lithuania demonstrate a greater work ethic. This is particularly apparent in the hospitality sector but applies right across the board’
Foreign workers are also seen as more courteous and enthusiastic. Mr Davies said: ‘This is why we have seen more migrant workers in the hotel and restaurant sector. Employers were particularly enthusiastic about employing migrant workers for the customer-facing roles in hotels and restaurants.’
The survey sought the views of senior personnel staff in sectors such as public administration, healthcare and education. Largely overlooked when it was published in August, its significance has only just become apparent with the release of official jobless figures.
As well as being seen as lacking vital skills, many youngsters seem disinclined to take lower paid jobs. Malmaison, the upmarket hotel chain, says it is struggling to fill more than 100 vacancies.
Meanwhile, in just three months, the number of unemployed youngsters hunting for a job but failing to find one jumped by 67,000 to an all-time high of 1.02 million.
But last week one area – the Test Valley in Hampshire – was identified as one of the few places with more jobs than unemployed people. In all there are 1,287 vacancies against 1,058 looking for work.
Caroline Nokes, the Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said: ‘We are lucky because we have a lot of people willing to invest in creating vacancies. However, business owners have told me they have difficulty finding people with the necessary skills. ‘One recruitment manager said there are a lot of people who have the qualifications but do not present well in interviews or on their CVs.
‘And people who are well educated, those with degrees, are less inclined to take some of the more menial jobs on offer.’
Another CIPD report, published earlier this month, found that employers are having trouble finding highly skilled British workers such as doctors, engineers, accountants and finance professionals.
It said 42 per cent of employers ‘currently have vacancies that they are finding hard to fill. Manufacturing and healthcare are the sectors reporting greatest difficulty’.
Mr Davies, the CIPD’s public policy adviser, blamed the problem on the ‘legacy of the last Government, which failed to invest in skills’ and instead plugged the gap with foreign workers. ‘Labour that was sought in the middle of the last decade from countries such as Poland was seen as a useful stopgap to filling the skills shortage at a time when the economy was doing really well,’ he said. ‘The problem was hidden to a large degree. Now unemployment is at a much higher level and many of the migrant workers are still here.
‘It is a failure to invest. You cannot train doctors and engineers overnight – there is a long lead time.’
Mr Davies added: ‘It is not as though hiring non-EU migrant workers is an easy option for employers because it is bureaucratic and costly. ‘It’s a measure of how much of a necessity it is for a small number of employers. The value to the country of migrant workers is very powerful across all sectors. ‘Many of our members value very highly the skills and expertise that psychologists from Australia and doctors from South Africa bring.’
The CIPD, Europe’s largest human resources professional body with more than 135,000 members, is backing the Government’s welfare-to-work scheme that has promised help finding work for 2.4 million unemployed people over the next five years.
‘I think that the key to improving the situation lies with the work programme,’ said Mr Davies. ‘It is about giving them a helping hand, giving them professional, specialist advice that involves coaching and searching for work.
‘It is this support that has been relatively lacking in recent decades that could be the difference between us improving the prospects of young people over the next couple of years or not.’