NHS hospital where half of PIP breast implants burst (that’s 26 times the official rupture rate)
More than half the women given PIP breast implants at an NHS hospital needed surgery after they ruptured.
The figure – 26 times higher than the official rupture rate – was reported to the Department of Health and has emerged despite an urgent Government safety review concluding there was not sufficient evidence to recommend removing the implants.
Doctors at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust had to remove the implants from seven women out of 13 who had received them over the past few years – a failure rate of 54 per cent.
The figures are contained in a report prepared by NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh which reveals several other private firms have suggested the implants could break far more frequently.
It raises further concern for the 40,000 women who have the implants, banned in the UK in 2010 after they were found to contain industrial-grade silicone intended for use in mattresses.
Official figures suggest only between one and two per cent of the silicone implants are likely to rupture.
Tim Goodacre, president of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons, said: ‘It shows there may be an increased rate of rupture but we can’t say at what level with any certainty.’
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said last week that the 5,000 women who received PIPs on the NHS would be offered the option to have them removed on the Health Service.
David Emerton, medical director of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust, confirmed it had removed about half the implants it had used.
Britons anxious over immigration
British people welcome the cultural changes brought about by immigration but are in a state of “deep economic anxiety” as they believe it has had a negative impact on the supply of housing, jobs, schools and hospitals, according to a poll.
The study by The Observer found modern Britain to be hopeful and at ease with itself but also worried about the bleak economic outlook and its consequences.
Other concerns that emerged included a perception of worsening crime rates being heavily blamed on an influx of immigrants in recent decades.
The results revealed that while British people are less positive about immigrants in relation to the economy, they welcome cultural changes brought about by immigration, with people believing it has positively contributed to entrepreneurship, film, music, fashion and design.
There was overwhelming agreement across the country that immigration has been good for domestic cuisine, with 68% saying that it has been changed for the better.
The poll found three out of five Britons now thought former Tory minister Norman Tebbit’s “cricket test”, proposed in 1990, in which the loyalty of immigrants is judged by which national sports teams they support, is outdated. Fifteen per cent believe it is important for immigrants to support home teams over their countries of origin, while 50% of people believe the children of immigrants born in the UK should be free to support the teams of their parents’ country of birth.
Around half of people questioned believe the government should encourage parents to put their children in ethnically diverse schools, with black and Asian people feeling this most strongly (60%), but the report points out that the “large white majority don’t lag far behind”(51%).
The report also found that British people regard rising prices as the biggest threat to the country’s well-being in 2012 and believe the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations will lift the nation’s spirits more than the Olympics.
The findings touch on the class system in modern Britain, attitudes towards Scottish independence and changes in the country since it last held the Olympic games in 1948. There is strong Scottish national pride, but Scots are as keen to stay in the Union as the English and Welsh are to keep them while it turns out to be the Geordies, not the Scots or Welsh, who feel least British.
A striking north-south divide emerges over whether class has become less important in Britain since 1948, with over 40% of Londoners confident that class matters less in comparison to 29% who disagree, and in the north 35% think it matters less compared to 41% who disagree.
Ten per cent of all murders in Britain are carried out by bail bandits
More than 10 per cent of murders in are committed by criminals released on bail for another crime. In the last five years, more than 350 killings were carried out by so-called ‘bail bandits’. It means that more than one violent death a week could have been prevented if the suspect had been locked up instead of being
Despite the worrying scale of serious crime by bailed suspects, ministers are planning a huge rise in the use of bail for suspects. Thousands more could be released every year before their cases reach trial in an effort to save millions in prison costs.
But the move is raising concerns that more innocent people will be victims of suspects who would otherwise have been behind bars.
Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said: ‘It’s traumatic enough being a victim of serious crime. It adds insult to injury when a victim finds out that the offender was on bail at the time. ‘These figures are a cause for concern and could further undermine confidence in the justice system.
‘We know that victims want an effective criminal justice system that cuts crime and stops reoffending. ‘That is why justice agencies need to work harder at stopping people committing serious offences while on bail.’
The Tory MP for Witham, Priti Patel, said: ‘The Government has to look at these figures carefully and address how the public can be protected from these individuals. ‘They should also look at how they can clamp down on bail order breaches and, most importantly, make sure these individuals are properly prosecuted. ‘This is making a mockery of the criminal justice system.’
Official figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that over five years, 11 per cent of murders were committed by offenders bailed over another offence. Between 2006 and 2010, some 238 murders were committed by in England and Wales by bailed suspects out of a total of 2,107. Bail bandits committed 125 offences of manslaughter in the same period out of a total of 1,305. They were also responsible for 446 rapes, or nearly 90 every year. That is four per cent of all rapes carried out in the period. In addition, more than 900 sexual offences were committed against children by bailed criminals.
Overall, suspects who could have been locked up were responsible for seven per cent of all serious crimes, including murder, manslaughter, serious assault, rape and sex offences against children.
Bailed suspects commit one crime every four minutes, including a fifth of all burglaries and one in six robberies.
Cases where bailed criminals have committed horrific crimes are among the most notorious in recent years. Father-of-three Garry Newlove, 47,was kicked to death in 2007 after confronting drunks who damaged his wife’s car. His killer, teenage thug Adam Swellings, had been released on bail that morning after being convicted of assault.
Other cases include Jonathan Vass, a 30-year-old ex-bouncer, who slit the throat of his former girlfriend while on bail for raping her.
The figures are the latest to provoke fears that too many criminals are escaping with ‘soft justice’. Last month the Daily Mail revealed that 50 people a day suffer a violent or sexual attack by a convict who has been spared jail.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has proposed a huge increase in the use of bail. Thousands more suspects could be released on electronic tags that alert the authorities if they do not comply with their curfew. Around 9,200 fewer criminals every year will be remanded into custody before trial.
Officials insist the measure will be used only when the alleged offence means there is ‘no prospect’ of the suspect being jailed if found guilty. They say prosecutors will be given the power to challenge bail decisions if they fear the public may be at risk.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Dangerous offenders who pose a threat to society should always be remanded into custody while they await trial.
‘To strengthen this, the Government recently signalled its intention to allow prosecutors to challenge a Crown Court bail decision where they feel a potentially dangerous prisoner could be bailed. ‘Bail is only being modified for minor offences where the defendant would not receive a jail sentence if convicted. ‘The decision to grant bail is taken by the police and courts based on the full facts of each case.
‘They take extreme care, particularly when making decisions about cases involving violent crimes.
‘The overwhelming majority of people bailed do not reoffend and are often given strict conditions such as electronic tags and curfews. ‘Anyone who reoffends while on bail will usually receive a longer sentence as a result.’
Divorced British parents will have right to see their children under new law
This is already in place in Australia
Ministers are drawing up new rules to put courts under a legal duty to ensure divorced parents are guaranteed access to their children. Parents who refuse to accept the orders will be in contempt of court and risk serious penalties or even jail.
The move will delight fathers’ rights campaigners who believe dads are penalised under the present system which usually grants mothers custody.
The Coalition is hoping to succeed where Labour failed. In early 2005, it tried to force mothers to let partners see their children by threatening to impose penalties such as night curfews and electronic tagging.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Tory work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith have apparently agreed a different approach which they hope will be more successful.
Around 3.8million children – one in three – live without their father.
Last night children’s minister Tim Loughton said: ‘Our vision is to establish that, under normal circumstances, a child will have a relationship with both his or her parents, regardless of their relationship with each other.
‘We must do everything we can to improve the system so that it gives children the best chance of growing up under the guidance of two loving parents.
‘All the evidence tells us that children genuinely benefit from a relationship with both parents, with the potential to make different contributions to their child’s development.
‘The culture has shifted away from the traditional view that mothers are primarily responsible for the care of children. Increasingly society recognises the valuable and distinct role of both parents.
‘We are looking closely at all the options for promoting shared parenting through possible legislative and non-legislative means.’
Mr Loughton’s comments indicate that ministers have gone against a key finding of November’s family justice review, which rejected equal access for mothers and fathers, saying it would put too much pressure on judges. It is believed that the law could be changed by amending the 1989 Children’s Act to include presumption of shared parenting.
Another option would be for the Government to support a backbench bill by Tory MP Charlie Elphicke, which will be debated later this month. The bill requires courts and councils which are enforcing contact orders for children ‘to operate under the presumption that the rights of a child include growing up knowing and having access to and contact with both parents involved’.
Nadine O’Connor, campaign director for Fathers4Justice, said a Government move would be a ‘massive step forward’. ‘It is saying that dads have as many rights as mums,’ she said. ‘I will believe it when I see it, but the reform has to apply across the family justice system.’
Free yourselves from the lefty ghetto
Lefties, as a rule, only read other lefties. This seems to be the case with George Monbiot. His attack on libertarianism (This bastardised libertarianism makes ‘freedom’ an instrument of oppression, 19 December) is the usual mix of unwillingness and inability to understand anything outside the intellectual ghettoes of the left.
He claims to have asked: “Do you accept that some people’s freedoms intrude upon other people’s freedoms?” – as if that were some knock-down refutation never made before. Of course we do. Our difference with him isn’t that we are against courts and the other modes of dispute resolution. What we deny is that social peace requires an enlarged and omnicompetent state run by his friends.
He claims we “pretend … that only the state intrudes on our liberties. [We] ignore … the role of banks, corporations and the rich in making us less free.” Not quite. We do believe that the state is the foremost violator of our right to life, liberty and property. But we also observe that banks are licensed and regulated creatures of the state, and that big business in general is only big because of state-granted privileges like limited liability, infrastructure subsidies, and tax and regulatory systems that cartellise costs and flatten competition from outside the magic circle. There is a difference between believing in free markets and supporting actually existing capitalism.
You could have published an attack on libertarianism that didn’t border on misrepresentation. Or perhaps not. That would have meant exposing your readers to genuine libertarian positions. And that might, in a few cases, have opened the gates of their intellectual ghetto.
Poor teachers ‘will slip through the net’ under British reforms
Hundreds of poor teachers are likely to be allowed to remain in the classroom under Government plans to scrap the profession’s official regulator, it is feared.
Many cases of incompetence or misconduct will never be put before an official hearing because of proposals to devolve more responsibility for staff discipline to individual schools, experts warned.
New figures suggest the majority of the 323 cases referred to the General Teaching Council for England since August alone will not be considered under the new system.
Head teachers’ leaders told the Times Educational Supplement that the reforms were flawed and would make it harder for schools to deal with poor-performing staff.
But the Government warned that the existing system was already failing because only a tiny number of incompetent teachers have been struck off in the last decade.
The comments came as a Government adviser claimed on Thursday that the education system “shouldn’t worry so much” about getting rid of poor teachers.
Dylan Wiliam, emeritus professor of education at London University’s Institute of Education and a member of the Government expert panel reviewing the National Curriculum, said a small number of underperforming teachers did not have a major impact on results and sacking them was often “quite difficult”.
Addressing the North of England Education Conference in Leeds, he added: “Rather than starting a witch hunt for the least effective practitioners in our schools, saying ‘you’re a good teacher and you’re a bad teacher’ and rather than trying to work out who the best teachers are and pay them more money, I think we should create a culture of continuous improvement in every school.”
Teachers can be hauled before the GTC for serious disciplinary and misconduct issues, including criminal convictions, alongside cases of professional incompetence.
According to figures, some 211 teachers have been struck off for misconduct since 2001 but just 17 have been officially barred for incompetence. Hundreds more have been subjected to other sanctions such as formal warnings, suspensions or retraining.
Government insiders have criticised the performance of the regulator, claiming it is overly bureaucratic and fails to hold teachers to account.
In March, it will be axed alongside a series of other education quangos as part of a cross-Whitehall plan to cut red tape. Its duties will be taken over by a new body – the Teaching Agency.
Under the new system, schools will be expected to deal with more disciplinary issues themselves, with the agency only considering the most serious misconduct allegations, including sexual offences and other criminal convictions.
According to the TES, a majority of the 323 cases passed from schools to the GTC since August have not been deemed serious enough for transfer to the Teaching Agency. It raises concerns that many future cases of staff incompetence will slip through the net.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “There could be potentially dozens of cases referred by heads which now go no further. “Either a case is serious enough to justify referral or it’s not, and if it’s not taken forward, that’s a problem. If you introduce uncertainty, heads will wonder if they should make referrals, especially because of the stress and difficulty it causes.”
A DfE spokeswoman said: “No teacher whose standards fall below an acceptable level will go unpunished. “All serious cases of misconduct that could lead to teachers being barred will be transferred to the new Teaching Agency if the GTCE does not have time to conclude them. “Where appropriate, all other cases will have been dealt with at a local level.
“The existing system does not work – it constantly gets bogged down in the bureaucracy of minor cases instead of dealing quickly with the most serious referrals.
“The new system will ensure that serious cases are dealt with much more quickly by giving heads greater freedom to deal with incompetent teachers themselves. We’re bringing in clear, new standards for all teachers and there will be a new list of teachers barred from the profession available to employers and the public.”
Rules on infant class sizes ‘should be axed’
Limits on class size in general are misconceived but in the case of infant classes there IS some evidence that smaller classes are helpful
Ministers are coming under pressure to reform laws banning large classes for infants amid fears over “unprecedented” demand for primary school places.
Councils in London are circulating a letter urging the Department for Education to consider “raising the ceiling” on maximum class sizes for five- to seven-year-olds.
Since 1998, schools have been banned from placing the youngest pupils in lessons bigger than 30 amid concerns they struggle for attention in large groups.
But the letter – originally sent by Liberal Democrat-controlled Sutton Council – calls for ministers allow schools to run classes of 32 pupils. The move comes amid mounting pressure on primary schools in some major cities including London, Birmingham and Bristol.
It is claimed that rising birth-rate combined with an influx of migrants in some areas have places significant pressure on schools – leaving some infants without a reception place at all.
Figures published last year showed almost 20,000 youngsters are now being educated in “supersized” primaries of at least 800 pupils – a rise of 43 per cent in just 12 months.
Niall Bolger, Sutton chief executive, said the council had already been forced to spend £7m to create additional classes for pupils starting school in September 2012 and feared further investment would be needed in coming years. “All London Boroughs are facing unprecedented demand for additional primary school places,” the letter said. “Sutton has been expanding primary schools for a number of years and so all easy options to meet demand has been exhausted.”
He added: “We do not wish to eliminate all parameters for class size, but we consider 32 to be a pragmatic compromise between educational viability and financial prudency.”
Regulations introduced by Labour when it came to power in the 90s ban schools from placing children in classes of 30 or more. Large lessons are only permitted in exceptional circumstances and such arrangements are supposed to be temporary.
According to official estimates, some 550,000 extra primary school pupils will enter the system by 2018. It equates to an additional 2,000 primary schools.
But any attempt to increase class sizes is likely to be strongly resisted by the Coalition amid concerns it prove hugely unpopular with parents. It is already investing £4bn in areas with the tightest squeeze on places.
A DfE spokesman said: “The law remains clear that it is illegal for infant classes to exceed 30 pupils – no parent would want their child taught in a huge class. “We’re dealing with the impact of soaring birth rates on primary schools – doubling targeted investment at areas facing the greatest pressure on numbers to over £4billion in the next four years.
“We are building free schools in areas where there are place shortages and letting good schools to expand without limits to meet demand from parents.”
Councillor Peter Walker, Merton Council’s cabinet member for education, condemned any attempt to increase classes. “I strongly urge those with responsibility for education in London to oppose this regrettable initiative,” he said. “Increasing class sizes in our schools at this time is short sighted, will threaten school standards, is unfair to our children and will endanger our economic prospects.”
Not so healthy
They are widely regarded as ‘healthy’ options, guilt-free alternatives to snacks such as crisps and chocolate. But most of us are unaware that many of the dips and spreads, such as hummus, that we believe are better for us are in fact very high in calories, a survey has shown.
The World Cancer Research Fund study revealed a ‘troubling’ lack of knowledge regarding the calorie content of foods. A survey conducted for the charity found two thirds of Britons underestimate the number of calories in hummus.
The dip, made from chickpeas, contains on average 332 calories per 100g – more than 10 per cent of the recommended daily intake for women. But, despite exceeding the ‘high’ level of ‘energy density’ as defined by the WCRF, which applies to food containing more than about 225 calories per 100g, it is widely considered to be ‘healthy’.
The YouGov poll of 2,000 people also found that only 29 per cent knew that even reduced-fat mayonnaise was high in calories. It has an average of 259 per 100g. And while many underestimated the energy content of less healthy snacks, a fifth of those polled overestimated the calorie count in bananas. They described the fruit as high in calories, when it in fact contains only 95 per 100g.
The WCRF said the lack of calorie awareness was a concern because of the many diseases associated with being overweight or obese, which include cancer.
A spokesman said: ‘It seems a lot of people are still confused about the calorie content of everyday foods. ‘This troubling lack of understanding is perhaps not helped by labels such as ‘light’ and ‘reduced fat’ when these are applied to foods which still have a high calorie content.
‘At this time of year many people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight but to do this it is important that they understand how to determine whether a food is high in calories.’
Wrecked by gales again as British windfarms get £300,000 to switch off…in high winds
First there were the wind farms that had to be shut down if it got a bit blowy. Then there was the turbine that burst into flames in a gale a month ago. And now three turbines have been wrecked in the latest bout of rough weather – sweeping away any remaining illusions that strong winds simply mean more electricity being generated.
The damage raises yet more questions about the ability of such machines to cope with serious weather, let alone produce very much electricity. Adding to such concerns will be the revelation yesterday that wind farms in Scotland were paid nearly £300,000 in the first five days of this year to close down because it was too windy.
The three damaged turbines all stand within a mile of one another in the countryside around Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. The one in Windmill Lane in the village of Upper Cumberworth lost one of its three blades, and another in the same village lost two. A third, in nearby Hepworth, lost all three, with debris blown across a road into a neighbouring property.
The damage occurred on Thursday night when, according to the Met Office wind speeds near Huddersfield peaked at 77mph during fierce storms which felled trees, tore off roof tiles and damaged power cables.
Local residents say the falling blades could have injured or killed someone as they were flung to the ground. Frances Barnes, who has ten acres of grazing land for horses nearby, said: ‘It is worrying. People objected to the plans when they first went in – not because it is a windmill but because it is so close to a busy road.
‘It is frightening to think what may have happened had one of the blades flown into the road and hit a car, or indeed if the wind turbine had come down.’
The 10kw turbines were made by Evoco, which says they have been through a ‘four-year period of in-house testing’. The company, which claimed on its website they could ‘withstand harsh winters and wind speeds in excess of 90mph’ has begun an investigation.
The turbines are not part of a wind farm but sold individually to landowners to generate their own electricity and sell any excess back to the National Grid. The company said it had installed 100 turbines in the area and all have been ‘braked’ so that they stop spinning until modifications are made.
A spokesman said: ‘We have recently experienced a series of turbine faults in a localised area of rural West Yorkshire area during record-breaking high winds.
‘Evoco turbines have recently weathered three lots of hurricane force winds, in which the overwhelming majority of our turbines have operated without any problems.
‘No one was hurt in the incidents, which are being investigated thoroughly. Health and safety issues are of primary importance to us, and we work to rigorous standards to maintain our excellent record.’
Christine Smith, a local Conservative councillor said: ‘This shows they can be very dangerous, these blades could have fallen on someone’s car or home. They are lucky someone was not walking nearby.
‘Wind turbines are flawed, they don’t work when it’s too windy, and don’t work when it’s not windy enough. There are much better alternatives to use less energy such as under-floor heating and insulation.
‘These companies are putting in applications left, right and centre, and telling people they can make a lot of money out of them, but I think we need to look at some of these concerns before allowing any more to be built.’
Last month a 300ft turbine in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, erupted in flames during gales of 165mph. It was said to have been switched off, but had a ‘brake system failure’.
In Scotland the £300,000 payments over the first five days of this year were shared by four turbine operators. The controversial ‘constraint payments’ were made because they produced more energy than the National Grid could handle and had to shut down.
Up to 32,000 wind turbines could be built in England and Wales over the next 40 years to meet government targets. Last year 17 wind farm operators were paid £7million to shut down on 40 occasions between January and September.
Black British politician says London taxi drivers are racist
I am not sure she is totally wrong about this. I spent a couple of years in my early days driving taxis part-time out of Sydney’s red-light district (King’s Cross) and I never knowingly drove past anyone if the cab was vacant but with the amount of black crime in London today I am not so sure that I would stop for everyone now if I were driving in London
But of course her offence was just to mention a racial matter. Truth is no defence in politically correct Britain
“Labour Party chiefs were today looking into a second controversial tweet from MP Diane Abbott after she suggested London cabbies drive past black customers.
Many taxi drivers across the capital were fuming after details of the new gaffe by Britain’s first black woman MP, who is shadow health minister, was revealed.
She sent a message from her iPhone on Tuesday: ‘Dubious of black people claiming they’ve never experienced racism. ‘Ever tried hailing a taxi I always wonder?’
Steve McNamara, a spokesman for the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said: ‘This is outdated, racist stereotyping that has no place in a modern, multicultural city like London.
‘A lot of drivers are angry today about this, including a black driver who is one of our members, who was outraged. “I think she will have difficulty hailing a cab after this.’