Nurses must be told to ‘talk to patients’: PM’s intervention is a damning indictment of care on our hospital wards

David Cameron is urging nurses to speak to patients at least once an hour. As he pledges to reverse the declining standard of NHS care in a major speech today, the Prime Minister will say too few nurses understand that caring is their main job, and that everything else comes second. He will proclaim: ‘Nursing needs to be about patients, not paperwork.’

Health service campaigners said the fact that Mr Cameron felt it necessary to remind nurses to talk to patients was an indictment of the ‘dreadful’ standard of care in many hospitals.

Mr Cameron’s intervention follows growing concerns about frail and vulnerable patients, particularly the elderly, being left hungry and thirsty in soiled bedclothes because some nurses no longer see their profession as a vocation.

The Daily Mail has highlighted the failure of many nurses to care for patients effectively as part of its Dignity for the Elderly campaign.

On a visit to an NHS hospital, Mr Cameron will say he wants to see the whole approach to caring reset. He will tell nurses that at least every hour they should check whether patients need help with eating and drinking, being taken to the lavatory, or whether they need to be moved to make them more comfortable. Then they should ask: ‘Is there anything more I can do for you now?’

The Prime Minister will say: ‘There’s something really fundamental that needs to be put right fast. We need an NHS which ensures that every patient is cared for with compassion and dignity in a clean environment.

‘We know the vast majority of patients are very happy with the care provided by the NHS. I’ve seen the NHS at its very best – the incredible people for whom nursing is a true vocation, who go beyond the call of duty and combine great medical knowledge with great care. ‘But I also know we’ve got a real problem in some of our hospitals with patients not being fed and watered regularly or treated with the respect they deserve. I am absolutely appalled by this, and we are going to put this right.’

He will add: ‘If we want dignity and respect, we need to focus on nurses and the care they deliver. Somewhere in the last decade the health system has conspired to undermine one of this country’s greatest professions.

‘It’s not one problem in particular. It’s the stifling bureaucracy. The lack of consequence for failing to treat people with dignity. Even, at times ….. the pursuit of cost-cutting or management targets without sufficient regard for quality of care.’

Mr Cameron plans to get rid of paperwork which keeps nurses from spending time with patients and establish a national forum to spread best practice across the NHS. Hospitals which perform well on providing the ‘four basics of care’ – preventing bedsores, falls, blood clots and hospital-acquired infections – will receive financial bonuses.

And a new ‘friends and family’ test will ask patients, carers and staff whether they would recommend the hospital to their loved ones.

Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: ‘It is dreadful that the Prime Minister is having to remind members of the caring profession to talk to patients.’ Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: ‘Something has gone wrong in the NHS. ‘It’s all been about targets and saving money.’

Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The profession will welcome the moves to free nurses to put care first, and to focus all their energies on the needs of their patients.’

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘If the Prime Minister really wants to help nurses focus on patient care, he should listen to what they are saying and drop his unnecessary Health Bill. ‘His reckless decision to reorganise the NHS at this time of financial challenge threatens to throw the entire system into chaos.’


Surprise! Men and women really ARE different: Sexes share just 10 per cent of their personality traits

Ever suspected that the opposite sex comes from another planet? It seems they might as well. Men and women really are different, according to a study – and while the differences between them may not come as a shock, the scale of them might.

Researchers found that the average man and woman share only 10 per cent of their personality traits.

Psychologically, they concluded, the sexes may as well come from different worlds – along the lines of the bestselling book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

Psychologists at Manchester University and in Italy analysed the results of personality tests which were given to 10,000 people and measured 15 traits. In keeping with age-old stereotypes, women scored more highly on sensitivity, warmth and feelings of apprehension, while men fared better on emotional stability, dominance and rule consciousness, or sense of duty.

The researchers concluded that there were ‘extremely large’ personality differences between the sexes which could have implications in the workplace.

Co-author Dr Paul Irwing, of Manchester University’s Psychometrics at Work Research Group, said: ‘It was a really surprising finding. ‘The conventional view, and my own view, was that there would have been much greater overlap, but actually there is an extremely large difference.

It sounds highly stereotypical, but you find a huge proportion of women in the caring and socially related professions such as teaching and nursing and administration. ‘People self-select professions in which they will feel happy and satisfied and that is no bad thing.’

In the study, published today in journal PLoS One, the researchers conclude that it is ‘difficult to overstate the theoretical and practical importance’ of their findings.

But Dr Irwing stressed that there are still ‘massive individual differences’ between men and women, partly due to personal variations in hormone levels.

And Janet Hyde, Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, argued that other studies based on millions of people showed men and women are ‘very similar on most psychological variables’


Half of the British workshy would give up their benefits rather than get out of bed

Half of those claiming unemployment benefits would prefer to lose their handouts than do a stint of unpaid work. Figures show that 20 per cent of those ordered to take part in four-week community projects stop claiming immediately and another 30 per cent are stripped of their benefits when they fail to turn up.

Officials suspect many of those who stop claiming benefits are working in the black economy and would rather lose their welfare than give up their undeclared earnings.

Government sources say the results of a trial scheme are so striking that ministers are preparing to roll it out nationwide in a programme hitting up to 50,000 unemployed. Job Centre staff have been given the power to force anyone claiming out-of-work benefits to take part in ‘mandatory work activity’ – unpaid posts designed to get them used to working from nine to five.

Those who appear unwilling to look for work can be referred to the scheme at any stage, even on the first day of their claim. The placements are typically with charities or involve some kind of community service, such as helping to maintain parks.

Those who refuse to take part, or agree but then fail to turn up, have their £67.50-a-week unemployment benefit stopped until they agree to do so.

A source close to the programme told the Mail that the results so far had been ‘extraordinary’. ‘This has started on a relatively small scale, to see how it would work, but nobody expected the results we are seeing,’ he said. ‘More than half of those people referred are coming off benefits. Around a fifth sign off straight away after being referred for mandatory work activity. ‘Another third simply don’t turn up, and then have their benefits stopped unless they are prepared to re-engage with the programme at a later date.

‘They have to spend a month working in a charity shop or with various voluntary organisations. The idea is that they have to get up, go out and come away with some sort of work ethic. ‘Instead, for the majority it is proving to be a push that gets them off benefits. What this demonstrates is that there is really a hardcore of claimants who have absolutely no intention of working come what may.’

Employment Minister Chris Grayling will announce a major expansion of the scheme next month. It will cost around £5million because officials have to arrange work placements and monitor claimants’ attendance. However, ministers believe it will produce big savings to Britain’s £100billion benefits bill in the long term.

The expanded scheme will focus particularly on the young amid concern that the number of young people not in employment, education or training – so-called Neets – has passed the one million mark. Figures show that more than a fifth of 18 to 24-year-olds are Neets. One in seven 16 to 18-year-olds, more than 250,000 teenagers, is on the dole.

The Coalition plans a £1billion package designed to take thousands of youngsters off the dole.Employers are to be offered subsidies worth £2,275 a time to take on 160,000 youngsters who have been unemployed for more than six months. The cash will effectively subsidise half of the cost of paying someone the youth minimum wage for six months.

Funding has also been released to pay for an extra 250,000 work experience places. And employers will be offered ‘incentives’ of £1,500 a time to create an additional 20,000 apprenticeships.

Under the youth jobs initiative, unemployed youngsters will be required to sign a new ‘youth contract’ committing them to accept the offer of a job or work experience. Those who refuse will have to go on to the mandatory work activity, or face losing their benefits. The mandatory work scheme has been piloted at job centres all over the country.


Postcard From Islamic London

by Ben Shapiro

I’ve been spending my Christmas vacation with my wife in Rome and London. We arrived in London on Christmas Eve. It’s truly an amazing city – everywhere you look, there’s history, from the Tower of London to the Churchill Museum. But everywhere you look, there is a more ominous presence: Islam.

Now, no less a personage than Prime Minister David Cameron has already admitted that the integration of Muslims into British society has failed dramatically. In February 2011, Cameron stated:

Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values.

That failure of integration is clear from the get-go. There are official signs translated into Arabic for those who do not wish to speak or read English. The chatter of Islamic languages is as prevalent as the mother tongue. The hijab is omnipresent.

Perhaps all this might be a charming byproduct of multiculturalism if it weren’t for the fact that so much of the Islamic population of Great Britain is radicalized. That radicalization is not difficult to spot.

With all the major official sites closed the day after Christmas, my wife and I headed over to Madame Tussaud​’s to take in the famed tourist trap. As we strolled the halls filled with famous cultural figures, most from the 20th century, we came across the wax doll for Albert Einstein. And there, crowded around the figure, stood five young Muslims – two male, three female. While other guests stood next to the model and smiled, or put an arm around it, these Muslim worthies stood next to the wax model – and put their hands around its throat, simulating strangling it. At first, I couldn’t believe what I was watching – did Einstein do something to offend these people? – but then it dawned on me that they were doing this because Einstein was a Jew. In fact, Einstein was the only prominent Jew in Tussaud’s. And who wouldn’t want to strangle a prominent Jew, after all?

That suspicion was confirmed a few minutes later when we reached the wax statue of Adolf Hitler​. Britons and Americans tried to choke the figure, or pointed their fingers at it in imaginary guns, or yelled at it. These young Muslims happily stood next to it, and took smiling photographs with it as though they’d stumbled upon a friendly uncle. Which, in a way, they had.

And, of course, nobody said anything to these delightfully diverse young people. Mustn’t show evidence of that old, imperialist spirit, you know.

But that old imperialist spirit hides beneath the surface nonetheless. While visiting the Tower of London, my wife and I followed a Beefeater on a tour. He was former British military, and acted it. Great Britain, he announced, was the greatest country on earth. It had civilized half the globe. There was a reason, he said, that Great Britain was the only country to preface its name with the word “Great.” When an Australian audience member asked about the Great Barrier Reef, he answered slyly, “You only know about it because we bumped into it on the way to founding your country.” These comments were accompanied by a slightly uncomfortable laughter amongst the natives – but it was good to hear that somewhere, deep down, the British are still British.

But that Britishness is buried rather deep. The day after Christmas in the United Kingdom is Boxing Day, a sort of Black Friday in this country. It’s a nightmare to navigate the crowded streets, and the shops are packed solid.

It was precisely this day that the British Tube employees – workers of the British subway system – chose to strike for 24 hours. This meant that everyone was now obliged to use taxis, which were charging double rates, or take a bus – and the traffic was snarled more horribly than Matthew Pocket’s hair. What were these employees striking for? Triple pay on holidays – and an offset day to make up for having to work on Boxing Day. They were already slated to make double pay.

In any rational society, the British government would fire these ne’er-do-wells forthwith and hire scabs to replace them. But Britain’s post-WWII bargain with the devil has been the same as the rest of the West’s: go Marxist and remove your imperial aggression by doing so. Capitalism, in the Marxist view, leads to imperialism; breed the capitalism out, and so too will the imperialism fade into history. And so Britain has castrated itself, both economically and socially.

But deep in the British soul, there stirs the echo of heroism: the echo of Churchill and Henry V, the echo of Elizabeth I and Cromwell. As time passes, that echo will grow ever louder. The question is whether the echo will restore Britain’s fortitude before it descends into a self-imposed dark night of final decline.


Why won’t any British political party dare champion grammar (selective) schools? I owe mine everything

By Michael Portillo

This was surely one of the most original excuses ever heard for non-attendance at a gathering. Ten years ago, I went to a reunion of staff and former pupils from my old grammar school, Harrow County for Boys, which was based in north-west London. The happy centrepiece of the evening was a tribute to a much-loved master, Harry Rees, who was finally retiring after years of devoted service, not only in teaching history but also in staging school drama productions.

The farewell took the format of the popular TV show This Is Your Life, though, in reference to Harry’s work in drama, it was entitled This Is Your Backstage Life.

At one stage during the proceedings, which were full of fond reminiscences, the organiser said: ‘Now Harry there is one boy you might remember from about 30 years ago, who was a dab hand at painting scenery for your sets.

‘Unfortunately he cannot be with us tonight,’ continued the organiser, pausing for effect… ‘Because he is in Sweden — receiving the Nobel Prize for Medicine.’

The explanation was absolutely true. The boy in question was none other than the brilliant scientist Sir Paul Nurse, now President of the Royal Society and in 2001 the recipient of the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on cell structures.

And it was right that Sir Paul should be mentioned, even in his absence, at our reunion, because his rise to the pinnacle of scientific achievement reflected the high academic standards of the school.

I was reminded of my affection for the place when I recently participated in a new documentary series on the history of grammar schools, the first episode of which will be shown on BBC Four tonight.

Like so many other grammar schools that flourished in Britain before they were abolished through a mix of ideology and political folly, Harrow County was a fiercely competitive institution, where all boys were taught to strive for excellence.

It was precisely because of this demanding regime that results were so good. Funded by the state, the school gave bright boys a magnificent start in life, no matter how disadvantaged their backgrounds.

As the BBC programme shows, the grammars like Harrow County were true engines of social mobility for working-class pupils fortunate enough to win places at them. Indeed, Sir Paul Nurse himself is a classic example of this pattern.

He was brought up in Wembley by his grandparents — his grandfather was a mechanic in the local Heinz factory and his grandmother was a cleaner.

Yet from these modest beginnings he became one of the world’s greatest geneticists, thanks partly to the influence of Harrow County.

I, too, feel I owe a huge debt to the school, for I am also from an unconventional background. My own father was a refugee from the Spanish civil war in the 1930s, later going on to become a BBC radio producer after World War II.

Having passed my 11-plus exam, the selective test that decided whether pupils would go to the elite grammars or the less academically orientated secondary moderns, I was lucky enough to study there between 1964 and 1971, before winning a place at Cambridge University.

Founded in 1911 at the zenith of Britain’s imperial grandeur, Harrow County was consciously modelled on the English public school — not surprisingly since not far down the road was Harrow, one of the most renowned establishments in England and the alma mater of Winston Churchill.

The customs of Harrow County reflected this traditionalist public-school ethos. There was a powerful house structure, with the head boy and prefects at the top of the pupil hierarchy. To denote his status, the head boy wore a gown with sleeves, while prefects donned sleeveless gowns.

Latin was compulsory in the early years and Greek was still on the curriculum. Rugby, the gentlemen’s game, was played, rather than soccer.

When I arrived in 1964, the school still had a strongly authoritarian atmosphere, thanks to the tough-minded headmaster Dr Simpson, who firmly believed in corporal punishment. Fortunately, when Dr Simpson retired the next year, the cane was phased out, though discipline remained strong.

What was most striking about the school was its superb academic record, reflected in the phenomenal levels of attainment in public exams. In the year I left, no fewer than 22 pupils won places at Oxford and Cambridge, with all but one of them gaining either a scholarship or an exhibition [a kind of scholarship].

This record was achieved not through lavish facilities or state-of-the art equipment. Indeed, Harrow County’s site was quite cramped, many of the buildings were Edwardian and, in my final years, the classroom furniture was incredibly shabby.

No, academic success was reached through two factors. One was the ferociously competitive culture of learning in the school. Harrow County was unashamedly elitist, with pupils divided into streams according to their ability. The brighter ones were encouraged to take their O-levels a year early, so that they would pass sooner into the huge sixth form, which had more than 300 pupils. In practice, therefore, we had three years to prepare for our A-levels and university exams.

The other vital factor was the high calibre and dedication of the teaching staff. All of them were extremely bright and prepared us meticulously.

I had one history teacher called Mr D’Arcy who produced duplicated, closely typed sheets of information on every conceivable subject that could come up as an exam question, from the origins of World War I to the arguments for the 1832 Reform Act. In all, he made about 200 of these beautifully written summaries, a monument to his diligence.

But it was not all work. The school was also strong in sports, especially in cricket. Moreover, all pupils either had to be in the Boy Scouts or the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). One enjoyable consequence of being in the Scouts was that, at the start of each new school year, we had to camp out in tents on the school playing fields. It was also a tradition that we all had to wear either our Scouts or CCF uniforms every Friday in term time.

But the non-academic activity I enjoyed by far the most was the drama — though I was more of a producer than an actor. For those of us in the sixth form, the great attraction of dramatics was that we would stage co-productions with the local grammar school for girls.

One of the Harrow girls who featured in some of our plays was none other than Diane Abbott, now the Labour MP for Hackney and the first black woman elected to Parliament. Surprisingly, she was a quite shy as a teenager, though she was a good actress.

I look back on my schooldays with a warm glow of nostalgia. They were wonderful times. There was no unpleasantness in the school, no bullying or vicious gangs. Indeed, even though this was the late Sixties, I don’t recall any drugs.

We were certainly aware of the social revolution that was taking place across Britain, especially in music and politics. I was actually a youthful supporter of the Labour Party then, but there was no hint of angry rebellion in the air.

I was lucky enough to make a number of great friends at Harrow County, including the TV presenter Clive Anderson, who was just as funny and quick-witted as a boy as he is today.

I was also close to Geoffrey Perkins, the BBC comedy producer who sadly died a couple of years ago, and Sir Nigel Sheinwald, who has just stepped down as Britain’s ambassador to the USA.

Sadly Harrow County, like so many other grammar schools, disappeared in the 1970s when it was amalgamated with other local schools to form what was known as Gayton High School, later to be renamed Harrow High in 1998 when it became fully co-educational.

The demise of the grammar schools was a tragedy for this country, robbing the brightest working-class children of the chance to be educated to the highest level.

The absurdity of the grammars’ abolition was that the politicians were addressing the wrong problem. Instead of tackling the failure of the old secondary moderns, they attacked the one part of the school system that worked well.

The paradox today is that no major political party would dare to campaign to bring back grammar schools, yet where they still exist, such as Kent or Buckinghamshire, no front-rank politician would dare to advocate their abolition, because they are so cherished by parents.

But at least the new Education Secretary Michael Gove is moving in the right direction, through the creation of free schools and academies which will undermine the miserable, dead-hand of central bureaucracy. The sadness is that, over recent decades, so many children have been betrayed by political dogma.



About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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