Concerns over care have been ‘hidden’ to avoid rows, says David Cameron
Politicians have “hidden away” concerns about the quality of care in NHS hospitals because they are too respectful of nurses, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister said that he and other leaders had been too wary of criticising standards of care for fear of rows with nurses.
But “chilling” evidence of poor care for elderly patients meant that it was time to “speak up” about standards.
Mr Cameron, who visited hospitals in the North West yesterday, called for changes in the way nurses do their jobs.
Regulators including the Care Quality Commission have recently raised serious concerns about the basic care of NHS patients, especially the old. Investigators last year found that one in five hospitals fails to provide decent standards of sanitation and nutrition for older patients.
Mr Cameron said that poor standards had been allowed to develop because politicians had failed to speak frankly about the work of nurses.
“The vast majority do a brilliant job, there is clearly a problem in some hospitals in some settings where we’re not getting the standards of care that the nation expects,” Mr Cameron told BBC Radio 4.
“Politicians, frankly, have done nurses a disservice by not talking about this. Such is our respect for nursing that we’ve almost hidden away concerns about this.”
He added: “You’ve seen the Care Quality Commission report, I’ve seen constituency correspondence with some chilling stories about how some people’s relatives have been treated, and so it’s time speak up about this issue. “We have not had a public discussion about the issue and who better to do that than the Prime Minister?”
Mr Cameron has previously promised to reform the NHS to allow professionals, such as nurses, more freedom over the way they work, and pledged to get rid of the centrally imposed targets of the Labour government.
Yesterday, he said he wanted nurses to carry out hourly ward rounds to check that patients were being properly fed and cared for. “It’s the Prime Minister’s job to speak up on issues people care about, and to point to areas where we’ve got brilliant practice in our NHS but we could do better,” he said. “Yes, that does mean setting some standards and discussing that at a national level.”
A new nursing “quality forum” of nursing leaders and front-line nurses will be set up, Mr Cameron said. It will “make sure that proper nursing rounds are done”.
Andy Burnham, the Labour shadow health secretary said: “People have learnt from bitter experience to take David Cameron’s pronouncements on the NHS with more than a pinch of salt.”
Nothing new about “extreme weather”
Not even the godfearing could escape the wrath of the storm. The Bishop of Bath and Wells was tucked up in his four-poster bed when the wind blew in the roof of his episcopal palace. He tried to flee but it was too late.
The chimney stacks came crashing down, plunging bishop and wife through the floor, burying both in the rubble.
He was found, it was reported, ‘with his brains dash’d out’ while she had wrapped herself in the sheets out of sheer terror and suffocated. They were the most eminent victims of the most catastrophic and destructive storm ever recorded as hitting the shores of Britain.
The country has trembled this week, rocked by 100mph-plus winds which caused injuries and two reported deaths, but these were relatively endurable conditions compared with the tiger of all tempests, the Great Storm of 1703.
It is often overlooked. Historians acknowledge the bad weather that almost stopped William the Conqueror in 1066 and the ‘protestant wind’ saw off the Spanish Armada in 1588. The epic snow-bound winter of 1947 and the forest- felling ‘hurricane’ of 1987 have both passed into legend.
But the daddy of all these disasters — the one against which this week’s heavy winds can justifiably be measured — was three centuries ago, in the reign of Queen Anne.
As an area of low-pressure tracked its way across the centre of the country on the Friday night and Saturday morning of November 26/27, 8,000 lives were lost, a large swathe of the Royal Navy was wiped out and the Eddystone lighthouse off Plymouth was obliterated.
‘Never was such a storm of wind, such a hurricane and tempest known in the memory of man,’ wrote a chronicler of the times, ‘nor the like to be found in the histories of England.’
Gusts in the English Channel topped 140mph. So fierce was the wind that a ship torn from its moorings in the Helford River in Cornwall was blown helplessly, its cowering crew still on board as mountainous seas tossed it, for 200 miles before grounding on the Isle of Wight eight hours later.
The low pressure system causing all this was astonishing. Daniel Defoe, writer and political commentator (and later the renowned author of Robinson Crusoe) could not believe how low the mercury in his barometer had sunk, and suspected at first that his children had been messing about with the instrument.
What was actually taking place was what historian Martin Brayne terms ‘the most terrifying and catastrophic storm this island has ever known’. The hurricane-force winds caused havoc on land.
Trees were uprooted and reduced to mere matchwood. Hundreds of the windmills that dotted the landscape were destroyed and at least one burst into flames from the friction as the sails whizzed round at extraordinary speed — an uncanny precursor of the modern- day wind turbine that caught fire at Ardrossan in Scotland during high winds last month.
Church spires — which a combination of religious piety and architectural technology had been making ever higher — toppled. A curate in Kent was distraught to see his landmark spire, close to 200ft and the tallest in the county, dashed to the ground.
Lead was stripped from roofs, simply rolled up like scrolls by the unstoppable force of the wind. Tons of it were torn from the roof of Queen’s College, Oxford, and then sent hurtling through the window of the church opposite.
At Cambridge, pinnacles were blown from the top of King’s College Chapel. Gloucester, Ely and Bristol cathedrals took batterings, and the godly were convinced that the biblical proportions of what was happening meant Judgment Day was upon them.
Homes were just as vulnerable,with falling chimneys a widespread hazard. A moralising chronicler recounted the tragic tale of a child asleep in a cradle a foot from its parents’ bed. ‘The fall of a chimney beat out the infant’s brains and mashed the whole body, in the father’s and mother’s sight. ‘From whence we may observe that, in a general calamity innocency suffers with the guilty, and the poor babe is destroyed with a stroke of divine vengeance while the sinful parents are permitted to stretch out their lives.’ ….
Much more here
Prime Minister Cameron pledges to ‘kill’ health and safety culture
The Prime Minister faced down criticism from small business owners over Government solar tariff and taxation today as he launched a campaign to “kill” the UK’s “excessive” health and safety culture.
David Cameron used his first public engagement of the year to stress to an audience of business owners in Maidenhead, Berkshire, that the Coalition would do “everything we can to help” in what would be a “tough” year for the economy.
He also declared “war” on what he described as the “excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses”.
The number of existing health and safety regulations is to be cut in half by the end of the year and a cap imposed on the legal fees that can be charged on employer and public liability claims worth less than £25,000 to reduce costs and discourage vexatious claims.
However, the Prime Minister was attacked for the Government’s handling of the solar panel tariff debacle and for HM Revenue & Customs apparent failure to collect £25bn in tax from large companies like Vodafone and Goldman Sachs.
Erica Robb, who runs Sprit Solar in Reading, told the Prime Minister that the decision to give the solar panel industry six weeks notice of the reduction in the feed in tariff in December was “disgraceful”.
Referring to the Prime Minister’s earlier claim to understand business because he had worked in companies, she said: “A container [of solar panels] takes 12 weeks to arrive; planning permission takes 12 weeks. David Cameron has PR experience, not industry experience. He has not run an order book that runs out 12 weeks or more.”
Mr Cameron said the Government could have handled the “timing” of the tariff cut better, but defended the need to cut the tariff after more people installed solar panels than expected.
Julie Meyer, founder of venture capital firm Ariadne, also raised HMRC’s decision to write off tax owed by large companies while at the same time fining small businesses for failing to maintain adequate records.
The Prime Minister said “a tougher approach” to tax collection was needed to ensure that all businesses paid their “fair share” of tax and that the Government was considering an “anti-avoidance power” to address the issue.
African ignorance in London
A TEENAGE boy was tortured and drowned on Christmas Day 2010 by his relatives after they accused him of practising witchcraft, a court has been told.
Kristy Bamu, 15, suffered 101 different injuries from being attacked with a chisel, a hammer and a metal bar, and was in such pain that he begged to die, prosecutors told the Old Bailey in London.
The victim had travelled with his two brothers and two sisters from Paris, where they lived with their parents, to stay with their older sister Magalie Bamu at her flat in east London.
Prosecutors said Magalie Bamu’s partner, Eric Bikubi, had started the horror by accusing Kristy and his two sisters of witchcraft and Bikubi then launched a campaign of torture.
Kristy’s siblings were forced to join in the attacks on him during their four-day ordeal before they were all placed in a bath and hosed down with cold water on December 25, 2010, the court heard.
Paramedics were called when Kristy fell unconscious but he was pronounced dead and an autopsy found he died from a combination of being beaten and drowning.
“Kristy had been the victim of a prolonged attack of unspeakable savagery and brutality,” prosecutor Brian Altman said.
“Wickedly, the defendants also recruited sibling against sibling as vehicles for their violence. In a staggering act of depravity and cruelty, they both forced the others to take part in the assaults upon Kristy.”
Several calls were made to the children’s parents in the French capital but their father did not realise what was going on, Altman said, adding: “He had sent his children on holiday, not to a torture chamber.”
The defendants were both originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Climate change ‘will boost British farmers’
Coming from official Britain, this mention of positives is quite amazing
Climate change will be good for British farming, according to Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, with exotic crops such as melons already thriving.
In a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference, she said that, although problems such as droughts would become more frequent, warmer weather would also mean a longer growing season and less frost damage, allowing the introduction of crops such as peaches, maize and sunflowers. Already 10,000 melons are expected to be harvested in Kent this year.
Mrs Spelman said farmers must “seize the opportunities” of increased production as well as preparing for more droughts and floods by building reservoirs and drains. “Climate change could mean reduced water availability. Also, soil moisture deficits, heat stress on animals, floods, droughts and the loss of some of the best agricultural land,” she said. “It could also bring longer growing seasons, reduced frost damage, and the opportunity to introduce new crops and livestock species.”
An advice service for farmers wll offer tips on how to adapt to climate change such as the kind of crops they can plant and new breeds of sheep and cows that do well in a warmer climate. Farmers are also being encouraged to use water more efficiently through new irrigation methods and produce their own energy through solar power and from animal waste.
A study commissioned by the conference from the Scottish Agricultural College even suggested that the boost from a warmer climate could help Britain compete in the global market as production was reduced elsewhere.
Mrs Spelman warned that British agriculture would struggle in the future against emerging economies such as Brazil and China, but expertise in food safety, technology and adapting to climate change could be exported.
Last year was the second warmest year on record in the UK, with droughts in the South East and Anglia lasting into December. The Met Office predicts that the number of households under “water stress” will increase to almost a quarter of the population by 2100 as the average temperature rises by up to 3C in the South. Over the same period, an estimated 96 per cent of agricultural land will become more suitable for crops.
A presentation by the English Wine Producers association warned that so many vineyards were being planted because of warmer weather that there was a risk that England would lose its reputation for only high quality wine.
British education boss blasts education authorities who are ‘happy with failure’ as he pushes for weakest primary schools to become academies (charters)
Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday accused critics of the Government’s academy programme of being ‘happy with failure’. He revealed ministers are pressing ahead with converting the country’s 200 worst performing primary schools into academies.
Hundreds more are being threatened with similar intervention because they are failing to ensure pupils reach a high enough standard in the three Rs.
Mr Gove warned opponents – including local authorities, Labour MPs and teaching unions – who want to ‘get in the way’ of his reforms to keep their ‘hands off’. In a blistering attack, Mr Gove labelled opponents as ‘enemies of promise’ who are damaging children’s prospects by putting ‘doctrine ahead of children’s interests’.
His speech at the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College in south-east London, an ‘all-through’ academy for children aged three to 18, infuriated teaching unions which insist academy conversion does not raise standards in itself.
Mr Gove went on the offensive as new figures show that 45 per cent of all maintained secondary schools are now academies or about to convert. There are 1,529 academies in England, compared with 200 in May 2010 when the Coalition came to power.
Academies are state schools that are free of local authority control and can govern themselves. The previous Labour government introduced academies as a secondary-only programme but the Coalition has extended the freedoms to primaries.
Ministers can also use powers under the Academies Act 2010 to require schools to convert to academies if they are consistently failing. Around 1,310 state primary schools in England fail minimum ‘floor standards’.
They have fewer than 60 per cent of pupils reaching a basic level in English and maths at age 11 and children making below average progress between seven and 11.
Mr Gove said most local authorities on the Government’s hit list were being ‘co-operative and constructive’. He added: ‘Some, however, are being obstructive. They are putting the ideology of central control ahead of the interests of children. ‘They are more concerned with protecting the old ways of working than helping the most disadvantaged children succeed.’
Mr Gove said academy conversion was only a ‘threat to the complacent, to those who have been complicit in failure’. He added: ‘Defenders of the status quo say these schools shouldn’t be judged in this way because they have a different approach – they are creative or inclusive. ‘But you can’t be creative if you can’t read properly and speak fluently – you can’t be included in the world of work if you aren’t numerate.’
Mr Gove said educating pupils to level four – the standard expected of their age – wasn’t ‘that big an ask’.
But Brian Lightman, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was not the ‘act of academy conversion’ that raised standards in schools.
He added: ‘There are many highly successful schools working with their local authority and partner schools; they are not the “enemies of promise” but professionals dedicated to improving the lives of young people.’
£100 to play truant! British schools accused of bribing worst pupils to stay away when Ofsted inspectors call
Disruptive pupils are being bribed up to £100 each to stay away from lessons during Ofsted inspections, it has been claimed. Despite having good attendance records, poorly behaved students are being paid to truant to prevent their schools getting bad ratings. Such underhand tactics are being increasingly used to trick inspectors, according to teachers.
Other methods include headteachers ‘borrowing’ outstanding staff from neighbouring schools to take lessons while telling their own weak teachers to go off sick. Some also take brilliant artwork on loan from other schools to impress inspectors. The stunts have been revealed in evidence collected by the Times Educational Supplement.
In one example, a teacher described how he was worried about taking three of the worst classes in his ‘hell hole’ school during an inspection. But, the day before, the deputy headteacher arrived and reeled off the names of more than a dozen of the most challenging pupils from the ‘worst’ three classes.
He told the teacher: ‘None of these little **** will be in tomorrow, you have my word.’
The teacher asked how he could be sure as the pupils had ‘excellent’ attendance records and the senior teacher showed him an ‘inch-thick wad of £20 notes’. The teacher said: ‘I learned later that some of those kids had received up to £100 or so not to attend school that day. ‘It seemed he [the deputy] had, in total, paid the equivalent of a whole class to truant for the day.’
Meanwhile an advanced skills teacher (AST) told the TES he was expected to ‘guest’ at another school and pretend to be the acting head of science during an inspection. Another AST claimed that several teachers were ‘on standby’ to pose as staff for an inspection of a partner school at ‘45 minutes’ notice’.
The TES said: ‘Then there is the school artwork, highly praised by Ofsted, that is loaned to neighbouring schools and proudly displayed every time inspectors visit.
‘There are the schools where certain teachers are told to go off sick when Ofsted is due, and others where highly experienced professionals suddenly appear.
‘There are schools where the most disruptive pupils disappear for a trip and those where lessons are rehearsed by pupils so they can be performed during an Ofsted visit.
‘These stories, and many more like them, are not unusual, according to the teachers who tell them. They claim they are symptomatic of an inspection system that is “broken” and full of “cover-ups”.’
The TES received almost 200 examples of schools conning inspectors.
Schools are usually given two or three days’ notice of visits but Ofsted has been carrying out some no-notice ‘dawn raids’.
Yesterday Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education and an Ofsted inspector, said: ‘It is utterly deplorable. Any school that gets caught cheating should go straight into special measures.’
Ofsted said it received 38 complaints about a school’s ‘conduct or activities’ during inspections carried out from last April to November.
A spokesman said attendance records would show if schools were excluding large numbers of pupils while stand-in teachers would be exposed by their ‘limited knowledge of the school during feedback’.
Why self-report diet questionnaires are largely useless in health research
Did you just have a healthy salad for lunch, then nothing more than the kids’ leftovers and one glass of wine in the evening? Yeah, right. The average woman tells almost 500 lies a year about her eating and drinking habits, according to a survey.
That’s almost nine fibs every week about how much food she’s eaten, what she’s snacked on and how many drinks she’s had.
Favourite untruths include ‘It was only a small portion’ after eating a large meal, and ‘I’ll have a big lunch so I won’t eat much after this’ when they know they will have an afternoon of sugary treats and fatty foods.
Other classics are ‘I treat myself only once in a blue moon’ while munching on goodies all day, and ‘I always eat my five-a-day’ when the reality is quite the opposite.
Chocolate is the food that women are most likely to lie about, followed by crisps and cake. Fibs about their consumption of sweets, cheese, bread, chips and burgers are also among the top ten most common falsehoods, along with wine and beer.
‘I never touch fast food’ is another popular line, trotted out even by those who enjoy clandestine visits to McDonald’s or KFC when no one’s looking.
And ‘I didn’t touch any of the biscuits’ is a regular claim, despite the evidence of an empty packet in the kitchen bin.
For drinking, the ‘I had only one glass’ line is frequently served up after polishing off an entire bottle of wine. And at weddings or parties the ‘I had a drink only because we were toasting an occasion’ claim is often used, when, in fact, the ‘toast’ went on all night.
Other popular lines include ‘I just finished off the kids’ left-overs’ without mentioning quite how much food the children left, and ‘I had only a salad so that’s healthy’, choosing to ignore the fatty dressings and extras.
In all, the survey of 3,000 Britons, commissioned by Timex, found that the average woman tells 474 of these lies every year.
Dr Cassandra Maximenko, a chiropractor and athlete, said that by lying to others, women were also lying to themselves and could easily see their weight creep up or damage their health. She added: ‘This study proves we live in a nation of denial where image takes a higher priority than honesty and no one wants to be seen eating food they shouldn’t.’
Brits can find racism under every bed
“The day before, an articulated lorry [truck] from Holland arrived at the market and the driver, confronted by unmanageable confusion, abandoned his vehicle and disappeared. So our fork‑lift man began unloading the goods on pallets from the back.
Next thing, a policeman arrives and orders him to shift the vehicle. He says it isn’t his. The officer repeats his instruction, more forcefully.
The fork-lift man explains he hasn’t got the keys and isn’t HGV-licensed anyway. ‘Well, go and find the driver and tell him to move!’ ‘It won’t matter to him, mate. He’s Dutch. He doesn’t speak a word of English.’
The policeman’s eyes narrowed. ‘You watch what you say,’ he barked. ‘I could nick you for racism.’
Making racist mountains out of molehills clouds the debate. There is enough race-related wickedness in the world we need to address without creating false controversies.
It is not racist to say a foreign man does not speak English (although, being Dutch, he probably does). It is not even insulting.
Racist talk from black British Leftist politician
She has made anti-white comments before
Labour [party] shadow minister Diane Abbott has apologised after claiming that white people “love playing divide and rule” as she came under fire from her own party and was called “stupid and crass” by Nick Clegg [British Liberal leader]
Miss Abbott, the shadow public health minister, was responding to a commentator who said she disliked the “lazy” and “monolithic” use of the term “black community” during coverage of the Stephen Lawrence murder trial.
Bim Adewunmi, a freelance journalist, wrote on Twitter that she found many black “leaders” shown in the media to be out of touch with the people they purport to represent.
Abbott responded to say the comments were “playing into a ‘divide and rule’ agenda” that is as “old as colonialism”. She said black people should not “wash dirty linen in public.”
Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi said Miss Abbott’s apology was insufficient and called on her to step down for “inciting hatred”.
“Her comments were clearly racist,” he said.
“For someone in that position of that position of leadership to have that view is untenable. She is a shadow minister. To hold the view that ‘white people’ would behave that way is outrageous and hurtful.
“I’ve had so many emails about this. It is hurtful to label my constituents as people who would divide and conquer black people. If this was a white MP saying black people like dividing white people they’d be out in five minutes. She should do the decent thing and resign.”