Government to lift ban on HIV doctors
They’re desperate to get ANYONE to work in their chaotic health service
Doctors, dentists and health workers with HIV could soon be allowed to practise again under Government plans. The Department of Health is to open a consultation into the issue with a view to lifting the 20-year-old ban.
Some countries already permit HIV-positive doctors and dentists to work but, despite evidence that any risk is “negligible”, Britain still has tough restrictions. At least 10 health care professionals are diagnosed with HIV every year.
Ministers fear a backlash from patients, but hope that those worries can be allayed when the facts are presented.
The issue is certain to cause controversy. Three years ago a London doctor prompted a health scare after treating thousands of patients without telling them he was HIV-positive.
A current court case, in which a dentist with HIV is bringing an action against the Department of Health claiming that the ban is discriminatory and unlawful, also explains why ministers are considering the change.
Ministers will say there have been no reported transmissions in Britain, despite more than 25 cases in the past 12 years in which patients have been exposed to an HIV-infected doctor, dentist or other health worker.
More than 10,000 patients have been tested.
A working group has recommended that health workers with HIV should be allowed to undertake “exposure prone procedures” provided they are taking antiretroviral drugs and are being monitored.
Evidence built up over a number of years shows that the risk of transmission from an infected doctor or dentist to a patient is “extremely low for the most invasive clinical procedures such as major surgical operations”.
For less invasive procedures, such as normal dentistry, the risk is described as “negligible”.
Britain has one of the toughest regimes in the world. In France, dentists can practise if they are clinically well.
British Father Christmases told children can no longer sit on their knee
Don’t blame Father Christmas if he doesn’t allow your child to sit on his knee at a school event — teachers may have banned him from coming into contact with youngsters. While those playing Father Christmas are no longer required to pass a Criminal Records Bureau check, many schools have decided to “err on the side of caution” and impose rules on grotto behaviour.
Parents who have offered to don the red suit have been told they must not allow youngsters to sit on their laps and cannot be left alone with them.
Because CRB checks are required only for volunteers who have regular contact with children, Father Christmases are exempt. However, government guidance states: “Under no circumstances must a volunteer who has not obtained a CRB disclosure … be left unsupervised with children.”
Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said this meant many of its members had decided it was better if Father Christmases avoided all physical contact with children.
“The climate we work in, and the risks of getting it wrong, mean many school leaders err on the side of caution,” he said. “And if you are going to ‘err’ I think that’s the side most parents would prefer.”
A spokesman for the Department for Education said children could still sit on Father Christmas’s knee as long as parents were consulted and were “completely comfortable” with the situation. “Santas in schools should be treated in the same way that other visitors to the school are managed. Our guidance recommends that for such visitors a member of staff is present,” added the spokesman.
Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, added: “It would be a great shame if misinterpretation of regulations deterred schools from traditional festive celebrations.”
Thousands of serial offenders handed just a caution in Britain
Almost 30,000 serial offenders escaped with a caution when they went back to crime last year, figures show. Some 4,600 of them were career criminals with at least 15 previous offences to their name. They were given an effective slap on the wrist even though their new offence was so serious it could have been dealt with in a crown court. And thousands more who were taken to court were handed fines, community penalties or conditional discharges.
The trends last night fuelled concern that little is being done to combat the most serious and persistent offenders and a revolving door in the criminal justice system.
It will increase pressure on Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, over his planned sentencing reforms, which will see tens of thousands fewer criminals go to jail.
In May this year, it was revealed that serious repeat offenders stand the lowest chance in a decade of being jailed. And it emerged in the wake of the summer riots that half of those involved were, on average, responsible for 15 previous offences, but had never been jailed.
Dee Edwards, of the R and K Foundation, a crime victims’ group, said: “The revolving door is clearly going faster. “It saddens me that some many crime victim groups have set up over the years and it feels like we are banging our heads against a wall. “The people with the power are still not giving out the sentences that they should.
“In my view the first time you commit a crime you should go to jail just to see what it is like. But for someone who has committed 15 or more offences to then be given a caution the next time, they are just laughing at us.”
In the year to June 2001, some 101,774 adult offenders received a caution for a so-called indictable offence, effectively crimes that are usually dealt with in the crown court.
Of those, some 27,682 had at least three previous offences on their record and 4,600 had fifteen or more, according to the Ministry of Justice figures. That was a rise on the 4,400 the previous year. Related figures showed 28 per cent of offenders fined by the courts had at least 15 previous offences, up from 16 per cent a decade ago.
One in five were given a community order, up from 12 per cent in 2001, and 29 per cent received a conditional discharge, compared with 14 per cent ten years ago.
Separate figures from May showed only a third of all such career criminals received a jail term after committing a new offence. That was the lowest custody rate since such figures began being recorded in 2000.
Mr Clarke has been criticised by traditional Tories over proposed sentencing reforms that will see fewer criminals sent to prison and more handed penalties such as community orders and fines.
Figures released in September found hundreds of the August rioters were serial offenders who had been handed community penalties, fines or cautions for their previous crimes, leaving them free to join in the disturbances last month. One in 20 had more than 50 previous offences to their name.
Nick Herbert, Justice Minister Nick Herbert said: “Out-of-court disposals have an important part to play in the criminal justice system. “They allow the police to deal quickly and proportionately with low-level, often first-time offending which does not merit prosecution at court, freeing them up to spend more time on front line duties and tackling serious crime. “They can also provide reparation and a prompt resolution for victims.”
Emission Controls: The Exodus from Britain Begins
Rio Tinto Alcan is closing its Northumberland aluminium smelting plant in north-east England – a direct result of EU climate legislation. The closure of the decades old smelting plant is devastating for an area with already high unemployment.
Not that the Rio Tinto Alcan plant isn’t making a profit, mind you. Even in an era of spiking energy costs generally, it is. But in 2013 the plant faces a profit-erasing rise of around £56 million to enable it to comply with a further tranche of European and UK carbon legislation. As Rio Tinto’s CEO Jacynthe Côté told the London Financial Times, “It is clear that the smelter is no longer a sustainable business because its energy costs are increasing significantly, due largely to emerging legislation.” Note the sting in the tail. Not, as politicians often like to insist, due to rising energy costs, but “emerging legislation”.
Rio Tinto’s plant closure is just one part of a plan to divest the company of $8 billion of aluminium assets. How much is due to “emerging legislation” on emission controls is impossible to say. But expect more jobs to be shed elsewhere.
Britain’s huge energy-intensive chemical industry contributes £30 million a day to the UK economy. But it is clear already that new green legislation has begun to force early closures and a business exodus to foreign parts. Steve Elliott, chief executive for the Chemical Industries Association, told BBC News in October that he feared more British job losses were imminent, with small and medium companies with narrow profit margins especially vulnerable. “There will come a moment when people say enough is enough,” said Elliot, adding, “And there will only be one direction of travel – out of the UK.” Hardly good news for a country that is consistently top of the European league when it comes to attracting inward investment.
In the English Midlands, a region famed for its pottery manufacture, Dr Laura Cohen of the British Ceramic Confederation told BBC News that high energy costs augmented by anti-carbon costs has forced factory after factory in the pottery industry to close, with one firm recently relocating its operations to China.
Not that UK companies have not done their bit to ‘go green’. Cemex UK operates the country’s largest cement plant. It has already moved away from dependence on coal alone. But Director Andy Spencer estimates incoming carbon legislation will increase his energy costs by £12 million. What concerns Spencer most of all is that he knows other countries will not impose similar taxes on their cement industries. He states that Cemex UK is already considering transferring operations to plants it runs abroad, especially Egypt. “I can see a time when it makes more sense to do that,” Spencer told the BBC, “and that time is not far away.”
Steel giant Tata which employs 21,000 people has warned the British government that its planned £1.2 billion investment program could be put at risk by “over the top” green policies. A study by the UK manufacturer’s association EEF has shown that the introduction of the Carbon Price Floor in 2013 will cost the UK manufacturing industry £250 million a year by 2020. The EEF is demanding compensation to help energy-intensive industries – yet another potential hidden cost of carbon legislation.
In August, a UK Department of Energy and Climate Change study estimated that energy-intensive industries, such as steel and paper mills, would likely have to pay 58 percent more for electricity by 2030 compared to what it would cost them in the absence of current climate policies.
Just last week, GDF Suez SA cited EU regulations as creating an unstable investment environment that was discouraging energy investment. Jean-Francois Cirelli, vice-chair and president of GDF Suez told the European Autumn Gas Conference in Paris, “Governments do not hesitate to take decisions that are not totally based on economic rationale”.
In other words political ideology and sheer wishful-thinking in the war on fossil fuels means that many of those making the political decisions still aren’t “getting it”. Britain’s energy and climate minister Chris Huhne exemplifies the ‘disconnect’ by persistently deeming climate policies sacrosanct while insisting high energy costs alone are to blame. “We’ve had a 27 percent increase in the gas price on world markets over the year to August,” says Huhne. “Now with the best will in the world, I can’t do anything about that.” Huhne is clearly not listening to industry bosses who cite the profit-destroying effect of climate policies, especially the EU-imposed extra green costs currently being factored into budgets from 2013.
The EU Climate Commissar is Connie Hedegaard. She was voted in by nobody yet this unelected official is behind the new EU directive on fuel quality. This measure sets minimum standards for a range of fuels. It is this directive which threatens to label Canada’s oil sands as “dirty” and threaten the future of Europe-wide shale gas development.
Hedegaard says, “With this measure, we are sending a clear signal to fossil fuel suppliers. As fossil fuels will be a reality in the foreseeable future, it’s important to give them the right value.” De-coding Euro-speak, Hedegaard wants fossil fuels made as expensive as renewables.
A plague of profit-busting climate policies is indeed sending a “clear signal” to energy-intensive industries: divest yourself of assets, shed jobs – or just plain ship out. Cocooned in ideological green protectionism, however, don’t expect Hedegaard and Huhne to “get” it.
Warmist Mike Hulme: “Sexing-up evidence is so easy to do, isn’t it?”
Email 3895 below. I assume that the EDP is This
Sexing-up evidence is so easy to do, isn’t it?
Reading your letter in the EDP today makes me wonder who your source inside the Tyndall Centre was supplying you with such exaggerated evidence?
Surely it wasn’t me, was it? Treating Dick Lindzen with the esteem of flat-earthers; could this claim have been inserted by politicians seeking to make a dramatic point to their audience? Or was it really what the experts in the Tyndall Centre think? Perhaps we need an enquiry.
Don’t worry – I’m not thinking of committing suicide should I be exposed as the source of this story; but then again, it couldn’t have been me, could it?
I didn’t say that after all; all I said was that we are well aware of Dick Lindzen and his arguments (in fact, Dick Lindzen is a pretty smart meteorologist who just takes a more cautious view of the scientific evidence for human causes of global warming; similar in caution in some ways to David Kelly even).
Yes, sexing-up is so easy to do. Be warned.
Why we need to talk about history
This vital subject must have higher status in the British curriculum, says the co-author of a new book investigating how our past is taught in schools today.
Here are two quotations that might be taken from the current debate over the teaching of history in English state schools. First: “It is surprising to find how little real knowledge of history is possessed by the average Englishman, or even by the average educated Englishman.” Second: “We need to return to an old-fashioned method which had governed the teaching of history for generations, namely ‘dates, conventional divisions and an insistence upon mechanical accuracy’.” Sound familiar? It certainly does; and then some. For the first of these remarks dates from 1906, and was made at a meeting which saw the establishment of the Historical Association; and the second was made in 1924 by Hilaire Belloc.
As these two quotations suggest, complaining about the inadequacy of history teaching in English schools is nothing new: indeed, it has been going on for as long as history has been taught in the classroom, and this means back to the 1900s. So when, these days, Jeremy Paxman deplores the fact that insufficient attention is given in English schools to teaching the history of the British Empire, he is merely repeating (but perhaps does not know he is) a complaint that was made by (among others) Winston Churchill during the Second World War, by King George V in the 1920s, and by Lord Meath, the founder of Empire Day, before 1914.
For as long as it has been taught in state schools, history has always been a controversial and contentious subject. There have been those who thought it was taught well, and those who thought it was taught badly. There have been those who wanted a cheerleading narrative of national greatness, and those who wanted a “warts and all” account of the English past. There have been those who wanted to focus on this nation to the exclusion of all others, and those who wanted to situate England’s (or Britain’s) history in a broader global context. There have been those who thought history is primarily about imparting knowledge, and those who thought it is essentially about teaching skills.
Most of the arguments that are made today are merely the latest iterations of points that have already been made many times before, yet there is scarcely any awareness that this is so. How strange it is that history teaching in schools is discussed and debated, but with almost no historical perspective brought to bear. All too often, there is an easy presumption that there was once a golden age, when history was much better taught in the classroom than it is now, from which there has recently been a deplorable and catastrophic decline. But there is very little evidence to support that alarmist view.
Among other things, history teaches perspective and proportion; yet perspective and proportion are all too often lacking in the current debate on how history is taught in our schools. All too often, individual scare stories are hyped in the media, with no effort to establish whether they are in any way typical or representative; and since there are more than 30,000 schools in this country, any generalisation about what goes on in them is bound to be at best superficial. And we should also remember that the discussion and disagreements about history teaching in schools in this country is paralleled by similar discussions and disagreements in many other countries, too.
Why is this so? Why is history now, and why has history always been, such a contentious subject in the classroom? Indeed, why has it always been, and why is it now, so much more contentious than most other school subjects? Perhaps it is because history is about ourselves, about who we are, about how we define ourselves as a nation, in ways that most other subjects are not. Physics or geometry or Spanish are much the same wherever in the world they are taught. But history in England or in Germany or in Japan or in Canada can be very different, because so much of it is taught in a national framework.
These are some of the broader considerations that inform The Right Kind of History, a book that I have co-authored with Jenny Keating and Nicola Sheldon. It investigates how the subject has been taught in English state schools from the 1900s to the present, and is published this week. Drawing on a wide range of official materials, as well as interviews with hundreds of former teachers and pupils, one of our aims is to put the current debates on history teaching in a broader perspective, and to make recommendations that are soundly based on the evidence.
Across the 20th century, and on into our own time, there has always been controversy, there has always been continuity, and there has always been change.
Discussion and debate, by politicians, academics, educationalists, pundits and journalists have invariably been polarised. Yet it is clear from the evidence we have collected that in the classroom itself, most teachers just want to get on with the job. Across the whole period with which we have been concerned, history in English schools has never been a compulsory subject beyond the age of 14. Yet this remarkable continuity has been accompanied by profound changes: the advent of the wireless, the television and the computer; the creation of a comprehensive system of education; the creation of the National Curriculum; and so on.
From this evidence-based perspective, we have tried to make clear what the current key problems are in the teaching of history, as distinct from those that erroneously assume a sudden, recent collapse from a lost and lamented golden age. It is our firm belief that the major problem is not the current National Curriculum, which in our view strikes a good balance between the history of our own country and its broader engagement with the world, and the histories of other countries. As such, it should be left alone, and politicians and mandarins should resist the temptation to keep tinkering with it. The major problem we have isolated is that history is still only compulsory in English schools until the age of 14.
Here is the root cause of many of today’s problems, especially the rushed treatment of many topics during Key Stage Three, the danger of repeating subjects (such as the Tudors and the Nazis) at Key Stage Three and then again at GCSE, and the lack of time to give appropriate attention to what is termed “the big picture”. Accordingly, our most important recommendation is that history should be made compulsory in all state schools until the age of 16. This would not only mean the subject would be better taught, but it would also be in line with the original proposals of Sir Keith Joseph and Kenneth Baker when the National Curriculum was being drawn up. They were right then, and their proposals remain valid today. It is high time they were implemented. In more ways than one, there is a great deal to be said for knowing more than most of us do about what happened in the past.
Shoppers ignore health warnings on food and buy whatever they want, study finds
How frustrating to the health Fascists!
Most shoppers ignore nutritional labels labels on food packets and simply buy what they like, a new study claims. The findings are a blow to the UK government, which has pressurised food manufacturers to display calorie, fat and salt content prominently on packaging so that consumers can make healthier choices.
Schemes include the voluntary ‘traffic light system,’ which rates how healthy food is by using red, orange or green labels.
Researchers from the Food Labelling to Advance Better Education for Life (FLABEL) investigated 37,000 products in five potentially unhealthy types of food, including biscuits, chilled ready meals and fizzy drinks.
They found Britain had the highest proportion of nutritional information on packaging, with more than 95 per cent including it on the back of packs, and 82 per cent on the front.
However, the research also found that most shoppers understand perfectly well how healthy various foods are with only the bare minimum of nutritional information.
In a further blow to the costly schemes, the authors discovered that people who said they understood or liked the various labelling schemes were happy to ignore them and buy the food they liked best, regardless of how unhealthy it was.
FLABEL advisor Professor Klaus Grunert, from Aarhus University in Denmark called on food companies to put clear information on the front of packs for maximum impact. However, he conceded that even this wouldn’t make shoppers to dump the junk, saying: ‘Motivation was a major factor affecting the impact of nutrition labels on the choices made by consumers.
‘When prompted, consumers were able to identify which products were healthier, but they did not use this information to choose which product they prefer. ‘A lack of consumer motivation, therefore, is one factor standing in the way of healthy food choices resulting from nutrition labelling.’