Stroke victims far more likely to die if sent to hospitals outside London
Stroke victims who are admitted to hospital are far more likely to die if they are treated outside central London, an investigation has found. Official data shows survival rates in the capital’s flagship hospitals are more than 50 per cent higher than in other parts of the country, with stroke sufferers treated in small towns, rural areas and industrial cities faring worst.
Patients treated in hospitals in central London, and some parts of the South East are far more likely than those elsewhere to receive emergency treatments and specialist care which can save lives and reduce the chance of devastating disabilities.
Every year about 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK, and the consequences lead to more than 50,000 deaths.
The NHS statistics show survival rates for stroke victims sent to central London hospitals are 54 per cent higher than for those in some parts of the country.
The death rate within 30 days of admission for stroke is 14.6 per cent in the capital’s central sites, according to analysis of the nine years’ data ending 2009 – compared with rates of more than 22 per cent in industrial cities and manufacturing towns, and more than 21 per cent in small towns and rural areas.
A separate audit by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) discloses massive variations across the country in the chance of receiving potentially life saving clot-busting treatment across the country.
In 14 hospitals, mainly in the North, none of the patients who could have been helped by the treatment – while in 13 other sites across the rest of the country, 100 per cent of patients in need of the emergency treatment got it.
Experts said the differences were “unacceptable” and that patients fared better in London was because services had been radically reorganised, so that all victims of stroke are immediately sent to one of eight specialist centres rather than their nearest casualty ward.
International league tables have ranked Britain’s survival rates for the most common type of stroke as the worst in the developed world.
Statistics published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – which compare 30 developed Western countries – show the UK’s death rates after hospital admission for an ischaemic stroke are twice the OECD average, and three times worse than those in Denmark.
The figures, for 2007, show a national death rate of 17.4 per cent, compared with an average of 9 per cent, for patients who had an ischaemic stroke, the most common type of attack, and one caused by a blood clot in the brain.
If this type of stroke is detected and treated quickly, the clot can be dissolved by thrombolysis treatment, dramatically reducing the chance of long term disability.
The RCP’s audit shows that across the country, close to half of patients who might have been helped by the treatment did not receive it.
The statistics, which cover the three months ending in September, showed patients who could be helped by clot-busting treatment were most likely to get it if they were admitted to hospitals in London, and other parts of the South, while those in the North fared worst.
Among the worst-performing hospitals, 27 gave thrombolytic treatment to less than a third of patients who might have been helped. Of those, 22 were in the north of the country.
Professor Tony Rudd, the RCP’s stroke programme director said: “When it comes to access to specialist care, the levels of inequality across the country are unacceptable – the differences in care impact not just on mortality, but also on disability.”
He said patients fared best if they were admitted to specialist units, and given quick brain scans, close monitoring, urgent treatment and rehabilitation.
Joe Korner, from the Stroke Association, said: “The disparities across the country really concern us. “The dramatic improvements in London came about because of a huge reorganisation of services, which was pushed by the strategic health authority.”
He said the charity was extremely worried that following changes to the NHS – which will see the authorities abolished – there would be no organisations to take such a role, and make hospitals work together.
Rosemary Moule, 62, a retired NHS nurse, was at the theatre in London’s West End celebrating her sister’s 70th birthday when she suffered a stroke in June.
As she stood up at the end of the performance, she realised something was wrong, and called her son, who took her to St Thomas’ Hospital, where she was admitted to a stroke unit for close monitoring. At 5am a second stroke occurred, and she was immediately taken for clot-busting treatment.
During the days that followed, she was given repeated scans to check for damage, while physiotherapy staff and speech therapists helped her to regain mobility and speech.
Mrs Moule, from Caterham in Surrey said: “They were fantastic throughout, they were so kind and respectful encouraging me all the time, offering reassurance.” Within four days she was discharged, and although she remains on medication, and subject to monitoring, she is in good health .
Judith Ball, 63, a widow from Walsall was left partially sighted after suffering a stroke last November. After waking she found she could not see properly, and felt weak, but had no idea that she had suffered a stroke. “She went to her local Accident & Emergency department, who referred her to an eye specialist, missing the symptoms of stroke. “It was only when she saw her own GP that she was referred to a stroke specialist, who diagnosed her, and began treatment.
Mrs Ball said: “I feel that in 12 months, I’ve gone from being active to an old dodderer, it’s hard to get my confidence back. “I think it was terrible the way I was fobbed off, they didn’t do any of the right checks, but all I can think is others end up worse off than me.”
British welfare payments to soar by 4.5 per cent… almost DOUBLE the average working person’s pay rise
Millions of benefit claimants are to get a bumper 4.5 per cent increase in their handouts next year – despite the unprecedented financial squeeze on the incomes of working families.
Reports yesterday suggested ministers are close to a ‘compromise’ deal that will see benefit payments rise at almost double the increase in average earnings. It will hand a windfall to the 5.9million people on out-of-work benefits. The increase is slightly lower than the 5.2 per cent inflation rate in September – the month usually used to set the following year’s benefit rises.
Chancellor George Osborne intervened to block an automatic rise at this level amid fears it would infuriate working families who are seeing their incomes shrink. Pensioners will receive a 5.2 per cent increase next year, putting the basic state pension up by more than £5 a week.
But Liberal Democrat ministers have blocked plans to peg other benefit increases to the 2.5 per cent rise in average earnings. Instead, they look set to rise by 4.5 per cent – although the Treasury insisted last night a final deal had not yet been agreed.
Tory MP Philip Davies warned a rise on this scale would cause resentment among taxpayers who will have to fund it – and undermine the Government’s pledge to ‘make work pay’. Mr Davies said: ‘It is incredibly generous to be offering benefit claimants a 4.5 per cent increase when very few working people can look forward to a rise on anything like that scale.
‘Virtually no one’s pay is keeping up with inflation and I don’t really see why those people not working should be rewarded with bigger increases than ordinary families who are struggling to pay their bills.’
Pegging benefits to average earnings would save £5billion, giving Mr Osborne much greater scope to help hard-pressed workers.
Treasury sources last night dismissed reports of a deal as ‘complete speculation’ and suggested ministers were still debating how much benefits should rise by next year. Mr Osborne is due to announce the final decision in his autumn statement to MPs later this month.
But plans to abandon the automatic increase in benefit payments were condemned by charities last night. Helen Dent, chief executive of the group Family Action, said: ‘The most vulnerable are already being hammered by benefit cuts, slashed services and food and fuel inflation. ‘A decision to break the link between inflation and welfare payments will put further pressure on families already at breaking point. ‘Many of the families we work with are having to choose between a warm home and food on the table, and this will break some of them.’
Another heavy-duty coverup
These coverups are a work of desperation. Warmists must know that coverups show them in an extremely bad light. Below is a brief comment by Bishop Hill on some Warmist corruption by the BBC and Cambridge university. You can read the University’s desperate attempts to keep the matter under wraps here. They were even willing to break the law if they could get away with it.
Even curiouser is that the Daily Mail article His Grace refers to seems now to have been pulled — doubtless after threats of legal action. They acted too late however. Copies of the article are all over the blogosphere. For reader convenience I reproduce it immediately below His Grace’s comment. I downloaded it direct from the DM within hours of its being published
David Rose at the Mail on Sunday has a long article about the Cambridge Media and Environment Programme, the seminars set up by Roger Harrabin and Joe Smith to inform BBC editorial policy. I get a mention
[Joe Smith’s] opinion, which he sets out on his website, is that ‘everyday human activity – moving, eating, keeping warm or cool – is gently stoking a slow-boil apocalypse’. He calls climate change ‘one of the challenges of the age’ and urges the world to take radical action. A Freedom of Information Act disclosure obtained by Andrew Montford, who writes the climate-change blog Bishop Hill, reveals that the Tyndall Centre provided £5,000 a year for three years from 2002.
The BBC has given Rose a response to the article as follows:
‘The BBC is aware of the funding arrangements for the Real World seminars. They have been considered against our editorial guidelines and raised no issues about impartiality for the BBC or its output.
When you think about it, this is pretty amazing.
BBC editorial policy can be decided by a bunch of environmentalists sitting round a table with senior BBC decision-makers and this raises no issues about impartiality?
UEA can fund the private activity of a BBC journalist and this raises no issues about impartiality either?
BBC’s Mr Climate Change accepted £15,000 in grants from university rocked by global warning scandal
A senior BBC journalist accepted £15,000 in grants from the university at the heart of the ‘Climategate’ scandal – and later went on to cover the story without declaring an interest to viewers.
Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s ‘environment analyst’, used the money from the University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to fund an ‘ad hoc’ partnership he ran with a friend.
Mr Harrabin, an influential figure who both broadcasts and advises other BBC journalists, later reported extensively about Climategate. The scandal erupted two years ago when emails were leaked from the Tyndall Centre’s sister department, the Climatic Research Unit at the same university.
The leaks left the scientific community in dis-array after claims that key data was manipulated in the run-up to a major climate change summit.
An official inquiry later found that although there had been no scientific fraud, there was ‘a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness, both on the part of CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA’.
In none of Mr Harrabin’s reports on the subject were the grants that he and his friend Dr Joe Smith had received from UEA ever mentioned. However, BBC insiders claim that the use to which the money was put – annual Real World seminars for top BBC executives on issues including climate change – had a significant impact on the Corporation’s output.
‘The seminars organised by Roger and his friend were part of a process which has effectively stifled all debate within the BBC about man-made global warming,’ said one senior journalist. ‘As far as the high-ups are concerned, the science is settled.’
Last night, Mr Harrabin insisted he does not derive any personal financial benefit from the grants and that far from making him more sympathetic to UEA, the sponsorship – of which the BBC had been aware – ‘made me doubly determined to investigate Climategate. If I had been misled by UEA I wanted to be among the first to know’.
In none of Mr Harrabin’s reports on the subject were the grants that he and his friend Dr Joe Smith had received from UEA ever mentioned.
He added: ‘The funding from the Tyndall Centre came long before Climategate. And I was forensic in exposing it. So any suggestion that I was biased or soft on Climategate in any way is completely untrue as demonstrated by my reporting.
‘I was praised by the world’s leading climate sceptics for my reporting. Those seminars – for which I received no personal gain – included contributions from sceptics.”
He said his report into the subsequent inquiry into Climategate, led by Lord Oxburgh, was praised for its ‘forensic impartiality’.
Disclosure of the payments to Mr Harrabin’s private partnership comes in the wake of a damning report last week by the BBC Trust Editorial Standards Committee.
It revealed ‘sponsored’ documentaries on environmental issues, whose production costs had been met by ‘non-commercial’ bodies such as the UN Environmental Programme, have been shown frequently on the BBC World news channel without viewers being made properly aware of their funding.
Trust investigators discovered that of a sample of 60 sponsored programmes broadcast between February and July this year, a total of 15 breached the BBC’s editorial guidelines.
The investigators said some of the breaches involved direct conflicts of interests – with the funders being the subjects of the programmes they were paying for – and that others failed to observe BBC rules on telling viewers where the programme budget had come from.
Two films in the latter category, part of BBC World’s Earth Reporters series, had Dr Smith as their chief scientific adviser. He is a climate change specialist at the Open University.
He said yesterday that the Open University sought to ensure that the programmes they co-produced were factually accurate, but beyond the usual formally agreed acknowledgement of the university, programme credits were the ‘concern of the BBC’. Dr Smith agreed with the Trust’s conclusions on the matter.
However, it is clear that sponsored programmes about the environment of the type the Trust now deplores have been made on a huge scale for years.
Almost all the £1.4 million annual income of TVE, the production company behind the Earth Reporters series, comes from non-commercial bodies, including the EU, UN agencies and campaign groups such as WWF, which co-founded the company 27 years ago. Jenny Richards, TVE’s deputy chief executive, said the firm had made ‘hundreds’ of programmes for the BBC, and described the Trust’s criticisms as a ‘slap on the wrist’.
The Trust has demanded sweeping changes to the BBC’s commissioning process, and the Corporation has agreed that from now on programmes sponsored by non-commercial bodies will be forbidden. Those from independent production companies will be scrutinised for possible conflicts of interest.
Dr Smith has acted as a scientific consultant to dozens of other BBC programmes, including high-profile documentaries about climate change fronted by Sir David Attenborough.
A Trust spokeswoman said: ‘Anything that affects the trust of viewers is a serious matter and the steps we are taking to prevent it from happening in future are very clear.’
Mr Harrabin’s partnership with Dr Smith – the Cambridge Media Environment Programme (CMEP) – began in 1996. That was when Mr Harrabin spent a sabbatical at Cambridge University, where Dr Smith was working at the time.
From then until 2009 they organised their seminars, which Dr Smith described as an ‘ad hoc’ arrangement. ‘It was just a light touch thing. These were occasional seminars held in an academic environment that brought a diverse mix of research, business and policy people together with media people,’ he said.
While Dr Smith was paid less than £5,000 for organising each conference, Mr Harrabin did not benefit financially. Dr Smith added that people with dissenting views on climate change were represented, and the purpose of the events was to encourage reflective thinking away from the pressure of deadlines.
His own opinion, which he sets out on his website, is that ‘everyday human activity – moving, eating, keeping warm or cool – is gently stoking a slow-boil apocalypse’. He calls climate change ‘one of the challenges of the age’ and urges the world to take radical action. A Freedom of Information Act disclosure obtained by Andrew Montford, who writes the climate-change blog Bishop Hill, reveals that the Tyndall Centre provided £5,000 a year for three years from 2002.
The centre’s newsletter said then it was giving CMEP the money ‘because we share its commitment to the effective communication of climate change information to increase knowledge and inspire discussion and debate in society’.
In addition to the Tyndall Centre, the CMEP received funding from energy giant BG, HSBC, Vivendi, the Bowring Trust and the WWF.
Dr Smith has acted as a scientific consultant to dozens of other BBC programmes, including high-profile documentaries about climate change fronted by Sir David Attenborough.
He was also involved in the BBC2 drama series Burn Up, in which a central character argued that the world had only five years to save itself before global warming became irreversible.
A BBC spokeswoman said: ‘The BBC is aware of the funding arrangements for the Real World seminars. They have been considered against our editorial guidelines and raised no issues about impartiality for the BBC or its output.’
Prince Philip dismisses wind farms as ‘a useless disgrace’ and says people who back them believe in a ‘fairy tale’
Prince Philip has launched an outspoken attack on wind farms, branding them ‘absolutely useless’. In comments that put him sharply at odds with the Government, the Prince reportedly said the farms were a ‘disgrace’ and they would never work. He also described people who backed them as believing in a ‘fairy tale’.
The Prince’s views will be welcomed by critics who say the wind turbines, which can be up to 300ft tall, are noisy, spoil the countryside and drive up energy bills.
But the Government is determined to increase the proportion of electricity produced by the turbines as part of its environmentally friendly energy policies.
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne last month denounced opponents of the plans as ‘curmudgeons and fault-finders’ and praised the turbines as ‘elegant’ and ‘beautiful’.
There are currently 3,421 turbines in Britain – 2,941 of them onshore. A further 4,500 are planned over the next few years. The Prince is said to have voiced his views in a private conversation with an executive for a leading wind farm company at a recent reception in London.
According to today’s Sunday Telegraph, he told Esbjorn Wilmar, managing director of Infinergy, a firm that builds and operates turbines, that they were over-reliant on subsidies.
The newspaper quoted Mr Wilmar as saying: ‘He said they were absolutely useless, completely reliant on subsidies and an absolute disgrace. He said, “You don’t believe in fairy tales, do you?” ‘He said that they would never work as they need back-up capacity. I was surprised by his very frank views.’
It was disclosed last year that electricity customers are paying an average of £90 a year to subsidise wind farms and other forms of renewable energy as part of a Government scheme to meet carbon-reduction targets.
Mr Wilmar said one of the main reasons the Duke thought onshore wind farms to be ‘a very bad idea’ was their reliance on such subsidies.
The financial incentives being offered to green energy developers have led landowners – including the Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s cousin – to look to build wind farms on their estates.
Prince Philip said he would never consider allowing his land to be used for turbines and complained about their impact on the countryside.
Mr Wilmar said: ‘He said he thought that they’re not nice at all for the landscape.’
The Duke’s comments echo the views of his son Prince Charles, who has refused to have any built on his Duchy of Cornwall land.
However, while they are opposed to onshore wind farms, the Royal Family stands to earn millions of pounds from those placed offshore.
Last year, the Crown Estate, the £7 billion land and property portfolio, approved an increase in the number of sites around the coast of England. The Crown Estate owns almost all of the seabed off Britain’s 7,700-mile coastline. Experts predict the growth in offshore wind farms could be worth £250 million a year.
Buckingham Palace said it did not comment on private conversations.
British Children ‘dropping English literature in schools’
Children risk growing up with a poor understanding of literature and history as rising numbers of pupils ditch traditional academic disciplines at secondary school, it is claimed today.
A charity set up by the Prince of Wales warns that children’s knowledge base is being eroded as they drop basic subjects at the age of 14 in favour of easier alternatives.
A grasp of core academic subjects is essential to allow young people contribute to society and help solve some of “biggest problems of our age”, the charity says.
But according to figures, the number of pupils taking a GCSE in English literature has plummeted by 12 per cent in the last four years – dipping below 500,000 for the first time.
Geography entries have dropped by eight per cent over two years and the number of pupils studying history to a decent standard this year was lower than the total in 2009. In some schools history and geography are no longer taught as standalone subjects.
In a speech today, Bernice McCabe, director of the PTI and headmistress of North London Collegiate School, will say that too many pupils choose subjects that “do most to boost the league table points tally” – instead of those with the most educational benefit.
Addressing teachers at a conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, she says: “You have a challenge on your hands… to renew and reinforce your own convictions about the value of your subject; for instance, the ways in which literature and history help us to understand what it is to be human and to appreciate the diversity of human experience, while geography explains how we are placed in relation to our physical and social environment and thereby points us towards solutions of some of the biggest problems of our age.
“These are hardly unimportant matters. They are things that the children of the rising generation need to have a knowledge of if they are to make a success of managing their own lives, contributing to their communities, governing their country and husbanding their resources.”
The PTI was set up by the Prince a decade ago to help teachers rediscover their passion for subjects.
It stages a series of training courses across the country to give staff crash courses in academic disciplines, with the latest course focusing on English literature, history and geography. It has also covered science, mathematics and modern foreign languages.
Must not tell Muslims to clean up after themselves
“A Labour council was at the centre of a race row last night after printing a leaflet targeted at Muslims that invoked the name of Allah in urging them to stop littering the streets.
Bradford City Council was accused of inciting racial hatred by publishing leaflets that showed rubbish-strewn pavements – and appeared to place the blame on Muslims.
The pamphlet, titled ‘Be proud of your environment’, used the Koran to lecture them about breaking the law and making a ‘horrible’ mess of the city.
It said: ‘We should respect Allah’s creations and the environments they live in. We should not act with ungratefulness by treating our surroundings with disrespect and throwing litter.’
It was aimed at an area of the city boasting a high concentration of Muslims and which the council says has a problem with messy streets.
Last night, Ian Greenwood, the Labour leader of the council, admitted the idea had been insensitive and said that the leaflets had been withdrawn.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up — on his usual vastly “incorrect” themes of race, genes, IQ etc.