Death risk up ten per cent if you are taken to hospital at weekends for emergency treatment
Patients admitted to hospital for emergency treatment at weekends are almost ten per cent more likely to die than those admitted on weekdays. A report suggests mortality rates ‘rise sharply’ for those admitted on a Saturday or Sunday as a result of short staffing.
It highlights the lack of consultants working in A&E at weekends, leaving critically ill patients in the hands of less experienced doctors.
One in eight trusts have higher-than-expected death rates on Saturdays and Sundays, according to the report by the Dr Foster Intelligence healthcare information organisation. For a ‘handful’ of trusts, the mortality rate rose by as much as 20 per cent at weekends.
Dr Foster’s annual hospital guide today presents ‘pretty stark’ evidence that the number of senior staff on duty directly affected patients’ survival rates. It pointed to ‘significantly reduced services at weekends and nights’ and found a nine per cent discrepancy in mortality rates between trusts with the highest and lowest numbers of staff at weekends. Almost one third had no consultants on site at night.
The overall death rate for emergency admissions rose from 7.4 per cent on weekdays to 8.1 per cent at weekends, an increase of 9.5 per cent. Eighteen trusts – 12 per cent of the total – had a higher-than-expected mortality rate at weekends.
The report also found hospitals are making a third of elderly people who suffer broken hips in falls wait too long for operations. Those admitted at weekends were more likely to face delays.
NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh said mortality rates at NHS hospitals were falling. However, those with high out-of-hours mortality rates should investigate why they may be falling short. He said: ‘I will be asking the NHS medical directors to look closely at weekend services to ensure patients admitted at weekends receive the same standards of care as those during the week. ‘This problem is not unique to the NHS – it confronts all health systems in the world – but I am confident the NHS is well placed to address these issues.’
Dr Foster’s report also found that community services were reduced at the weekend, leading to more terminally ill patients dying on wards. Last year, a study by Imperial College London found more than 3,000 patients die every year because of short staffing in hospitals at weekends.
Christian Worker Sues London Airport After Unfair Dismissal and Harassment From Islamic Fundamentalist Colleagues
A woman who used to work at London’s busy Heathrow Airport is suing her former employers claiming that she and other Christian staff at the airport were victims of systematic harassment because of their religion. The Telegraph reports Sunday on Nohad Halawi who is suing for unfair dismissal from the airport she worked at for 13 years:
“She claims that she was told that she would go to Hell for her religion, that Jews were responsible for the September 11th terror attacks, and that a friend was reduced to tears having been bullied for wearing a cross.”
Christian Concern reports that Halawi was fired following ” unsubstantiated complaints by five Muslims about her conduct.” Halawi had persistently complained to management over personal religious abuse and harassment from the Islamic staff, who even mocked her about “shitty Jesus.“ Halawi claims that complaints against her were made by a small group of ”extremist” Muslims, and that there is now a great fear among employees that their jobs could be at risk if the small group turns on them.
“This is supposed to be a Christian country, but the law seems to be on the side of the Muslims,” Halawi told the Telegraph.
The Telegraph notes that the case comes as Christian groups in the country have continued to complain about their treatment in comparison to Muslims:
“Her case is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, who say it raises important legal issues and also questions over whether Muslims and Christians are treated differently by employers.
It comes amid growing concern among some Christians that their faith is being marginalized and follows calls from Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, for Christians to be given greater legal protection in the wake of a series of cases where they have been disciplined or dismissed for practicing their faith.”
The paper points to recent examples of alleged discrimination at Heathrow, including a Jewish businessman who has complained about being repeatedly singled out by Muslim security staff for full-body scans. In addition to discrimination, Christian Concern notes that Halawi’s allegations, if true, raises questions about the influence of Islamic fundamentalism at Heathrow Airport and issues of national security.
Halawi, who came to Britain from Lebanon in 1977, emphasized to the Telegraph that she claims to have always got along well with Muslim colleagues, but the atmosphere has changed as a growing number of employees are espousing to “fundamentalist Islam.”
In May, five of her Muslim colleagues had complained to the trading manager at World Duty Free where she sold perfumes at a commission-based pay position, that Halawi was anti-islamic. She had described a Muslim colleague as an allawhi, which means ‘man of God’ in Arabic. A heated argument broke out when another worker overheard the remark and thought she said Alawi, which was his branch of Islam. Following the complaints Halawi was suspended and then told to withdraw her security pass in July.
A petition was signed by 28 of Halawi’s colleagues, some of them Muslims, arguing that she has been dismissed on the basis of “malicious lies.” Despite this, Halawi has not been reinstated.
British firms to be freed from elf ‘n’ safety red tape in bid to release us from nannying state
Ministers will today unveil plans to overhaul Britain’s ‘nannying’ health and safety culture which has held business back for decades. Employment Minister Chris Grayling will announce that one million self-employed people will be exempt from health and safety red tape – drastically reducing the amount of paperwork they have to complete.
There will be stringent curbs on local authority health and safety inspectors, to make sure they do not step beyond the law in imposing burdens on business.
Between a third and a half of all regulations relating to health and safety in the workplace will be scrapped, and the law which makes employers liable for almost any accident their staff may have will be axed.
The reforms are proposed in a report by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt of King’s College, London. Current rules are estimated to cost firms hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
Last night Mr Grayling said he would be using the findings to push the European Union to reduce the number of health and safety directives which affect Britain when they are reviewed in 2013.
He said: ‘I start from the principle that health and safety is about saving lives and stopping serious injury in the workplace. It is not about interfering in the running of decent businesses.
‘We want to put greater responsibility on the individual for their own conduct, rather than assuming that the employer has to nanny them in all circumstances.’
Mr Grayling said his reforms would lift the burden on the self-employed from health and safety red tape, giving them ‘substantial exemptions’ from rules if they run a business that does not put anyone at risk. At present, even a person running an online company from home has to fill in reams of paperwork, such as risk assessments.
Mr Grayling added: ‘We want to get back to the situation where health and safety isn’t seen as a laughing stock – and is seen for what it should be: an important part of the management of high-risk locations. ‘What you don’t need is silly rules that apply to charity shops, having to produce vast risk assessments. We want a balance of responsibility – if you do something stupid, you can’t just blame your employer.’
He blamed health and safety rules for putting pressure on police authorities not to let their officers take risks, for fear of prosecution. ‘The Metropolitan Police not being able to do something heroic because of health and safety rules makes no sense to me,’ he said. ‘This is about making Britain a much better place to do business in.’
A spokesman for the Institute of Directors said: ‘Health and safety regulation has gone too far. Our members tell us they feel forced into activity which doesn’t benefit them or their staff, out of fear of breaking rules that defy common sense.’
Aggressive British tax collection agency driving firms abroad
As if aggressive Greenie regulation and high tax rates are not enough!
The crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion is bad for UK business, a leading accountancy firm has said.
UHY Hacker Young said the extra investigations and more aggressive stance by the HM Revenue and Customs risks making the UK a less attractive jurisdiction for businesses.
“The Government and HMRC now seem to believe that they found the secret of alchemy,” said Roy Maugham, tax partner at the firm.
“All they need to do is invest more money in tax investigations and compliance work and the extra tax income will keep flooding in.
“The reality is that much of the money that HMRC collects from compliance work is from businesses that feel intimidated into settling or where HMRC is able to outspend a less well-resourced small or medium sized company.”
Mr Maugham said many UK companies have moved their domicile overseas to Ireland, Switzerland and Malta not just because of the UK’s high business taxes but because of the increasingly aggressive attitude of HMRC to tax collection.
“There is a downside to their tough approach,” he said. The lost tax revenues from businesses that have avoided setting up their headquarters in the UK could be far more costly to HM Treasury than the short-term boost from the increased compliance take, he said.
Lax Olympic border checks ‘may let in illegal migrants’ as well as thousands of athletes
Thousands of foreign athletes will be allowed into Britain without visas for the Olympics, a Daily Mail investigation has revealed. The decision, rubberstamped by Immigration Minister Damian Green, could open the door to illegal migrants, MPs warned.
It is expected to spark renewed controversy over lax border controls and national security.
Documents reveal that border officials plan to conduct 60-second biometric checks on competitors when they arrive at airports next summer. Those turning up at small airfields or marinas without border staff on duty will escape the checks altogether. They will be ‘on trust’ to report to a UK Border Agency (UKBA) office within 48 hours to be photographed and give their fingerprint scans.
This is despite the fact that British sporting events have been blighted in recent years by the disappearance of overseas participants. In 2002, members of the Bangladeshi relay team disappeared during the Commonwealth Games in Manchester before they had run a race, and 21 athletes from Sierra Leone went missing after the Games.
The same year, 58 golfers from Nigeria and Ghana were granted visas to compete in qualifying events at the Open, but 53 vanished as soon as they landed in the UK. Two years ago four Ethiopian athletes fled from their hotel in London.
The little-known deal struck between the Government, the International Olympic Committee and the London Olympic Games organising committee, means the normal visa rules have been abandoned for all 25,000 non-EU competitors, their coaches, and team officials.
It is thought that half the 25,000 due to arrive without visas already have their biometrics lodged with the UKBA after a previous UK visit or visa application. This means their criminal records can be checked against immigration and security databases before they travel.
However, the remaining 12,500 from more than 175 nations – including terrorist hotspots such as Pakistan, Somalia, Iran and Afghanistan – will arrive carrying only photo-identity accreditation cards issued by the Olympic authorities and their national passports.
Labour MP Mark Hendrick, a critic of Olympic security, described the decision to waive the UK visa as ‘madness’. He is expected to demand an emergency Parliamentary debate on the issue. He said: ‘At a time when heightened security regarding terrorism is needed, the Government is lowering the barriers.’
Alp Mehmet, an advisory council member of MigrationWatch UK and former immigration officer, expressed concern about the lack of checks on athletes, coaches and officials returning home after the Olympics.
He said: ‘History tells us that there will be those who abscond and never leave. But how will we know who they are, or the numbers, if the athletes are not checked out?’
A Home Office spokesman said that the visa-free rules do not allow anyone to settle in the UK and added: ‘They are specifically for the purpose of taking part in the Games.’
British universities see 15% slump in UK applicants as school leavers shun huge rise in fees
Universities face a record 15.1 per cent slump in UK applicants after the tripling of tuition fees, official statistics show. Rising numbers of British students are being deterred as charges of up to £9,000 a year are introduced next autumn. The Ucas statistics are a blow to the Coalition and suggest a looming meltdown in higher education after years of unbridled expansion.
Universities Minister David Willetts has insisted it is too early in the applications cycle to make predictions about demand for places. But experts believe the overall drop in applications for next year’s courses is one of the biggest.
Vice chancellors are likely to become reliant on lucrative overseas students who pay the full cost of courses – as much as £26,000 a year – to help boost their coffers.
The figures show that 133,357 home students have applied for 2012 degree courses at UK institutions so far, a drop of 23,759 compared with the same point last year. Applications from other EU students have fallen 13.1 per cent to 9,034.
However, the number of applicants from outside the EU has risen by 11.8 per cent – from 14,306 to 15,996 – amid extensive overseas recruitment drives. There has been a 31.8 per cent rise in applications from Hong Kong alone – up to 2,248 – as British institutions target this market.
Overall applications – including British, other EU and non-EU students – to UK universities by November 21 have dropped by 12.9 per cent to 158,387. At the same point last year, overall applications for courses starting in autumn 2011 had soared by 11.7 per cent to 181,814. Students cancelled gap years in the rush to get places ahead of next year’s increase in fees.
Last night Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘I think this is the highest drop outside of the two World Wars, when some universities almost became bankrupt due to falling applications. They were rescued by State support. ‘In the 1980s, when the number of 18-year-olds dropped by a third, the shortfall in applications was made good by mature students and part-time students.’
He added: ‘It will be the less popular universities that will struggle. ‘Students will be questioning whether they would be getting sufficient value from £9,000-a-year from those universities.’
The largest fall in applications (17.1 per cent) is among Scottish students, even though they get free tuition in Scotland. This is believed to be due to a fall in the birth rate, together with a 19.1 per cent fall in their applications to English universities.
Applications are down among English students by 15.2 per cent, Welsh by 10.3 per cent and Northern Irish by 16.9 per cent. Areas of the UK with the largest falls in applications include the North East (-21.4 per cent) and the East Midlands (-20.1 per cent).
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said the figures were worrying, adding: ‘Putting financial barriers in front of young people who have been told their entire lives to aim for university is nothing more than a policy of penalising ambition.’
Ucas chief executive Mary Curnock Cook said: ‘We expect some depression of demand due to a decline in the young population, but it is much too early to predict any effects from changes in fees.’
Mr Willetts said: ‘Most new students will not pay up front and there will be more financial support for those from poorer families.’
Students have until January 15 to apply for 2012 courses.
Research suggests they will face an average total bill of £48,503 for three years’ study at a Russell Group [elite] university, including the higher fees and living costs.
Anger at aid to help Africa cope with climate change: As UK faces economic meltdown, ministers hand over £330m
Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash is to be poured into Africa to help it cope with the impact of climate change.
The £330million handout will be spent over the next four years on schemes to install solar power plants and encouraging investment in low-carbon transport.
One of the main beneficiaries will be South Africa, a country which is prosperous enough to have its own space agency.
Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem energy secretary, will unveil the foreign aid package at a United Nations summit on climate change which opens today.
The largesse will fuel criticism from Tory backbenchers over David Cameron’s promise to increase UK spending on aid at a time when public services in Britain are facing swingeing cuts.
Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: ‘It is completely unjustifiable to spend so much money at a time when we’re reducing the number of police officers in this country.’
Fellow Tory MP Peter Bone said: ‘What makes it worse is that much of the aid budget is spent on things that are not really benefiting developing countries. The answer is trade, not aid.’
In a sign that the Government is pulling in different directions on environmental policy, George Osborne will announce tomorrow that the Treasury will offer £250million in tax breaks to firms hit by Mr Huhne’s climate change policies.
He will use his Autumn Statement – effectively a mini-Budget – to help companies that use large amounts of energy after being warned that Britain’s plans to cut carbon emissions faster than our competitors was driving business abroad.
Energy-intensive firms such as cement, aluminium and steel makers will get 95 per cent relief from the climate change levy as well as tens of millions of pounds to offset new carbon levies. Mr Osborne insists Britain should not seek to lead the world in cutting emissions and that he is not prepared to bankrupt British businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage.
But Mr Huhne is pressing ahead with spending taxpayers’ money promoting green policies in the rest of the world.
In the second week of the UN climate change conference in the South African city of Durban, he is expected to say the aid will go towards a variety of anti-climate change schemes, such as helping African farmers protect their crops against flooding and drought, installing solar panels in villages, and building slurry pits to produce gas for generators.
Projects to target illegal logging in tropical forests will also get cash.
Ethiopia and Rwanda are expected to benefit, as well as South Africa, the most developed country on the continent with an economy which grew far faster than Britain’s last year.
It is not known whether the money will go straight to governments or whether it will be channelled via charities and companies.
Some £282.5million has already been allocated towards aid for foreign climate-change projects. But next week’s announcement will see hundreds of millions more allocated to African climate-change projects by 2015.
Last night critics questioned whether so much money should continue to be ploughed into Africa, where aid money has a history of disappearing as a result of corruption. Just last week, an independent watchdog found that the rapid expansion of Britain’s international aid programme has left it increasingly exposed to fraud.
Julian Morris, president of the London-based think tank International Policy Network, said Mr Huhne’s announcement would be seen as a ‘bribe’.
A NASA thermal satellite image shows the world’s arctic surface temperature trends. Experts have warned that levels of the greenhouse gases that drive climate change have reached a record high
A NASA thermal satellite image shows the world’s arctic surface temperature trends. Experts have warned that levels of the greenhouse gases that drive climate change have reached a record high
‘The timing seems to be a cynical move by the British Government,’ he said.
‘It suggests this is an attempt to bribe African governments to sign up to whatever deals the British Government wants them to sign up to in Durban. The money will almost certainly go to foreign governments and do little to improve the lot of the poor.’
Robert Oxley of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘The Government should be freezing international aid, not increasing it.
‘Rather than throwing money away on corruption and programmes that deliver little of real substance, aid should be targeted at the world’s poorest who really need help.’
A spokesman for Mr Huhne’s Department for Energy and Climate Change would not confirm the total amount, and said it was not new money as it will be drawn from the Coalition’s fully- funded £2.9billion International Climate Fund.
Last night Business Department sources said Vince Cable had been instrumental in raising his concern about the cost of energy and climate change policies on manufacturing businesses, writing to the Prime Minister and George Osborne on the issue in April.
‘They have made considerable capital investment in their British plants to make sure they are energy efficient. This investment shows their commitment to the UK,’ said one.
‘That’s why it’s so vital we don’t repay their faith in Britain with the introduction of a hefty tax, which could see them relocate and result in the loss of British jobs and do nothing about reducing global carbon emissions.’
Nuclear power? Yes please!: A former British opponent does an about-face
By Fred Pearce (Fred Pearce is an author and environmental consultant at New Scientist magazine)
I never thought I’d say this – but the future is nuclear. Or it should be. And I urge Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne – who, like me, has been an opponent of nuclear power – to embrace that future. Our energy bills depend on it. And so may our climate.
Huhne’s ‘green tax’ sparked anger last week as it became clear that this surcharge on our energy bills will rise to £280 a year for every household by the end of the decade.
For what? Some of the revenue from the tax, currently set at £89 per household, goes to pay for renewable energy projects such as the sleek and costly offshore wind turbines sprouting across the North Sea. But don’t worry, Huhne says, because the tax will also pay to cut our need for energy by subsidising home insulation, better boilers and the like. We will all end up better off.
There is a deal of scepticism about that claim. And many people would prefer a couple of hundred quid in their pockets than a pile of foam insulation in their loft.
To be fair to Huhne, our current high energy bills are not mainly because of the green tax. The real problem for now is rising prices for gas and other fuels. But behind the immediate stink is a bigger issue. How do we want to get our electricity in future?
The truth is that our energy industry is in a mess. Ever since privatisation, the utilities have been mired in short-term thinking and have failed to invest. The big power stations built by the old Central Electricity Generating Board are reaching the end of their lives.
Unless Huhne does something to replace them, he will be remembered as the Minister who left us huddled over candles as well as forking out for a green tax.
Hopefully, Chancellor George Osborne will kick-start that process on Tuesday by announcing plans to accelerate infrastructure building as a recession-busting measure. But that still begs the question: What should we build? Should we opt for burning coal and gas, irradiating uranium or using Huhne’s green tax to harness the winds and tides?
In my judgment any long-term planning that ignores climate change is not just anti-green but botched business. Climate change is real. Admittedly, there are big uncertainties about how fast it will proceed, and what havoc it could cause. But the billions of tons of greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere each year by burning coal, oil and gas are trapping ever more of the sun’s heat. That’s 200-year-old physics.
So the world is going to have to move to low-carbon energy – and the sooner we get on this road the better. In Britain, now is the perfect time. And here is the good news. We don’t have to pay through the nose for a low-carbon future. All we have to do is to conquer our fear of nuclear power.
In fact, I see no sensible low-carbon future that does not involve a lot of nuclear power.
Here’s why. First, by most measures nuclear is much greener than renewables. Yes, you read that right. Like them, it is indisputably low-carbon. No carbon is burned in a nuclear reactor, so no carbon dioxide is produced.
But because you can get gigawatts of power from one site, nuclear is the only form of low-carbon energy that won’t blight the British countryside with wind turbines, solar panels or fleets of new pylons. Even better, because we have plenty of nuclear sites across the country where old power plants are shutting, new ones can be slotted in easily.
Second, nuclear is cheap. It is not yet quite as cheap as coal or gas but it is only half the cost of offshore wind, and an even better bargain compared with solar panels or tidal power. That calculation, incidentally, includes the huge costs of handling spent nuclear fuel and decommissioning the reactor when its days are done.
Third, nuclear is doable. France spotted this long ago. Starting in the Seventies, it fitted itself out with enough nukes to power most of the country – in just a decade. France now has some of the cheapest electricity in Europe. And the company that did it, EDF, would love to do the same here.
Of course, nuclear has a PR problem. Some say it is unsafe. Yet even when nature threw a magnitude-nine earthquake and a 50 ft tsunami at a clapped-out Japanese nuclear plant at Fukushima this year, the meltdown failed to kill anyone.
Then the German government announced it would phase out all its nuclear power plants by 2022. But that was a big environmental own goal for a country supposedly dedicated to fighting climate change because coal will be the big winner. Germany’s carbon emissions will rise as a result. Nice work, greens.
Some say we can’t handle the waste. Britain is sitting on enough high-level nuclear waste to fill three Olympic swimming pools, and enough intermediate waste to fill a supertanker. It’s all waiting for a final resting place. But for that we can blame vehement environmental opposition to every proposed burial site.
For the greens to argue that nuclear technology must be abandoned because disposal routes haven’t been secured is a bit rich. They are largely to blame. Even so, the radioactive nasties are mollycoddled in storage. It costs us £2 billion a year (thanks again, greens) but it is safe.
I fear the millions of tons of carbon dioxide spewing out of the coal-fired behemoths at Drax and Ferrybridge, Fiddlers Ferry and Didcot far more than the radiation that is under lock and key at Sellafield. If scientists are anything like right in their climate predictions, those carbon emissions are killing machines for the future.
Many greens – including Huhne before he became a Minister – like to believe that we can ban nukes and still banish climate change. But by throwing away the nuclear option, we would be throwing away the best – and cheapest – way of making big cuts in carbon emissions.
Their muddled thinking is in danger of pushing up our energy bills and peppering the countryside with wind turbines – without fixing the climate.
The Government’s Committee on Climate Change was right this year to conclude that nuclear is ‘the most cost-effective of the low-carbon technologies’ and might generate 40 per cent of our power by 2030. But we have to choose now.
As Huhne told the Royal Society in London last month, ‘time is running out ….. a quarter of our power stations will close by the end of the decade’. We need a new generation of power stations urgently.
We will need renewables and nuclear. Will Huhne bite the bullet? His website contains abundant evidence of his past opposition. ‘Nuclear power not needed to meet climate targets’ is the headline on one item from 2007.
But it is needed. If Huhne doesn’t make it happen, he will indeed be guilty of squandering our green taxes.
Greenpeace behind climate “research”
Research with a foreordained conclusion is not research. It’s fraud
From the Climategate 2.0 collection, Imperial College’s Sebastian Catovsky is “collaborating” with Greenpeace and he solicits the University of East Anglia’s to do the same:
Dear Dr Hulme,
I’m currently a post-doc at Imperial College Silwood Park working predominantly on impacts of global change on natural ecosystems. Recently, however, I’ve begun a collaboration with Greenpeace UK to look at direct impacts of climate change on humans. Greenpeace are keen to relate global issues in climate change to local effects in the UK – so that people can better see the consequences of changing energy consumption patterns. Greenpeace have this idea of distinguishing inevitable changes in climate from those that are avoidable if we reduce fossil fuel use. That way, people can recognize how their actions can achieve something tangible. They’d like to pinpoint specific areas in the UK that will be most sensitive to future climate changes – e.g. certain coastal areas if sea level rises.
Anyway, they drafted me in to tackle this from a scientific standpoint.
After some hard thinking, I’ve begun to think that some of the new IPCC Climate Scenarios reflect the inevitable vs. avoidable distinction very well. The A1 family of scenarios reflect a range of emission trajectories that clearly characterize different levels of fossil fuel dependence, from intensive use (A1FI) to alternative energy sources (A1T). Using these scenarios to drive our climate predictions would clearly highlight which impacts are avoidable if we take action now. I’d been now thinking about how we could specifically utilize these scenarios to develop some tangible climate impacts, and Doug Parr at Greenpeace mentioned your name. I think Greenpeace would be interested in investing some resources in the project if we could produce some testible hypotheses about effects of reducing fossil fuel use on UK climate…
I wonder if you’d be interested in collaborating in such a project. I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts on the matter, either way. At the moment, the project is quite fluid. Obviously, I’d expect to take on the bulk of the work – but I have no experience with running climate simulations etc., so I’d need a kick-start with someone with more experience in climate change modelling. I’d hope that we could benefit from funding from Greenpeace, and at least one credible scientific publication out of the work.
Let me know your thoughts on this matter. I’d be happy to talk further with you on the phone, if it’s more convenient.