EU laws allowing incompetent doctors to work in the NHS are putting British patients lives at risk
European laws are putting British patients’ lives at risk by allowing incompetent and poorly trained foreign doctors to work in the NHS, senior doctors have warned.
Professor Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons and Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, say ‘urgent action’ is needed to combat ‘huge variations’ in the quality and training of foreign doctors.
The pair point out that many foreign-trained doctors are given jobs despite barely being able to speak English.
Almost a third of all doctors working within the UK – some 88,000 – are foreign-trained with around 22,758 of those coming from within the European Union.
In a joint letter to the Daily Telegraph, Dr Williams and Dr Thompson wrote:’The language competency of doctors from the EU working in Britain, and the stifling effect of the European Working Time Directive on the time that trainee doctors have to learn on the job need urgent action.
‘EU laws that apply to all sectors can have unintended consequences in health care that can put patients at risk, whether in Britain or other member states.
Currently British health regulators are not automatically warned when a doctor is struck off the medical register in another country.
Yesterday Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he was already taking action to crack down on doctors with a poor grasp of English from practising within the heath service. He said: ‘We agree that for too long patients have been let down by European rules which allowed doctors to operate in the UK. ‘That’s why I announced last year new rules on checking doctors’ language skills and new powers to take action against doctors who can’t speak English properly.
Mr Lansley has pledged to revise the European Working Time Directive law, which limits doctors to working no more than 48 hours a week, and which he claims hinders the NHS’s ability to train its staff.
According to the Royal College of Surgeons around 400,000 surgical hours are lost annually as a result of the directive.
By October next year Britain will be required to offer treatment to patients from the EU under the recently introduced ‘cross-border health care’ directive.
Government forced to find an extra £185m to meet the soaring cost of NHS negligence claims
The soaring cost of negligence claims against the NHS has forced the Health Secretary to create a £185million emergency bailout fund. Hospital negligence claims have trebled in the past ten years, leaving the NHS fund almost empty. Now Andrew Lansley has had to step in to give the NHS Litigation Authority, which funds compensation claims and legal fees, access to £18million until April.
A surge in cases brought by no-win, no-fee lawyers and a rise in the survival rates of brain-damaged babies who then need lifelong care have both contributed to the increase in costs. Annual payouts have rocketed from £277million in 2000-01 to nearly £1billion in 2010-11.
According to Government figures, if all cases brought against the NHS were lost the maximum that would be paid out rose £5.31billion in 2001 to £16.85billion last March. During the past five years, clinical negligence claims have risen from 5,697 to 8,655 per year.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said a large proportion of the rise in litigation was the increase in no-win, no-fee cases, where the claimant is not liable for any legal fees.
Another factor was the growing number of claims management companies who receive hundreds of pounds per case for referring claimants to lawyers, using aggressive sales techniques to draw in potential claimants.
Lord Howe, the Health Minister, said: ‘Following a review of claims, we have made additional funds available to the NHS Litigation Authority in order to make sure that those claimants who are entitled to compensation receive it in a timely way.’
The authority is primarily funded from trusts by legal insurance fees, which can range from a few thousand pounds to £10 million a year.
Margaret Hodge, the chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said the financial challenge facing the NHS was unprecedented. She said: ‘It is both astounding and horribly depressing to see that current liabilities could take out over £16 billion.’
A brave, noble campaign. But I still don’t believe a man should stand trial twice for the same crime
I can’t rejoice over the conviction of David Norris and Gary Dobson for the murder of Stephen Lawrence. I wish I could.
I am sure that both these men have done bad things. It may be that they are guilty of this awful murder, but I fear that their guilt is not proven beyond reasonable doubt. And I am revolted by the fact that the authorities were so shamefully negligent that Norris was severely beaten up by other prisoners while on remand.
If we set out to achieve justice – and I will come back to that – then we must be sure that justice is what we actually get. A show trial in which justice seems to have been done, and hasn’t been, actually makes all our lives worse. If these are the wrong culprits, locked up to make us feel good about ourselves, then we have responded to evil with evil.
Much worse for me, a British patriot intensely proud of our centuries-long struggle for freedom under the law, this whole prosecution is a violation of our heritage. The rule against trying anyone twice for the same crime is essential for liberty. And it is absolute. It must apply even when it makes us weep or vomit to obey it. The rule of law is only any use if it stops us doing things we would really, really like to do. If laws can be overridden by convenience, desire or because of effective campaigning, they are not laws.
Remember Thomas More’s great defence of law in Robert Bolt’s wonderful drama A Man For All Seasons. More’s accuser says he would ‘cut down every law in England’ to go after the devil. More retorts: ‘Oh, and when the last law was down, and the devil turned on you, where would you hide, all the laws being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, man’s laws not God’s, and if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – do you really think that you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?’
Then he says quietly: ‘Yes, I’d give the devil the benefit of the law, for my own safety’s sake.’
We too must give the devil – and the devil’s friends, Norris and Dobson – the benefit of law, for our own safety’s sake.
I am sure of this because I have been to many of the worst places in the world, and the thing they all have in common is that there is no rule of law. They may pretend to have democracy (easy to do; our own democracy is increasingly a pretence). They may claim to have ‘human rights’. But with no rule of law, nobody is safe, ever.
Now, the campaign to get justice for Stephen Lawrence and his bereaved, dignified family has been a noble one. When our sister newspaper, the Daily Mail, bravely accused a group of low-life crooks of being his murderers on its front page and dared them to sue, I rejoiced.
This was a good and courageous use of the power of a free press, one that my trade can always be proud of.
It also blew into fragments a smug slander, ceaselessly directed at conservative popular newspapers by ignorant and malicious media Leftists. They sneered from their state-subsidised desks that we were ‘fascists’ – racial bigots who believed in repression of free debate.
After that front page, this libel simply could not be advanced any more by any thinking or informed person. Better still, it was clear that what really motivated conservative popular journalism was a thirst for justice. But at that stage, thanks to the 1996 failed private prosecution of several of the alleged killers, that was as far as it went. The courts had failed. The guilty must therefore be marked as what they were and shamed.
Others, with quite different aims, then sought to use the case for their own ends. They wanted a politically correct inquisition into the police, already weakened by Left- liberal attacks in the Eighties but still a deeply conservative institution.
And the Blair Government, which despised British liberties, saw an opportunity to smash the ancient double jeopardy rule.
The Macpherson report, a bizarre document that few of its fans have ever read, never found any actual evidence of racial bigotry in the police. That is why it had to dredge up the old Sixties revolutionary slogan of ‘institutional racism’. This is a presumption of guilt that has been used ever afterwards to enforce political correctness in the police force.
Thanks to this case, and what followed, have racial killings ceased? On the contrary, they are more common. Are murders and other crimes investigated more thoroughly? Hardly.
This country contains many families, as deeply wounded as the Lawrences, whose losses have also gone unavenged by justice, and who have no hope.
At last: Britain prosecutes MUSLIMS for “homophobia”
The Muslims had to be pretty blatant for it to happen but it has happened. They’ll get a slap on the wrist at most, of course. A white holocaust denier got 4 years jail for things he said on his website so it will be interesting to see what this lot get
Five Muslims who distributed leaflets calling for gay people to be executed have appeared in court accused of inciting hatred. One leaflet said the death penalty had been passed against all homosexuals and showed a mannequin hanging from a noose. Another showed a figure burning in a lake of fire with a list of punishments for homosexual acts.
The five defendants, all from Derby, are the first to be prosecuted under new laws banning the stirring up of hatred due to sexual orientation.
Ihjaz Ali, 42, Razwan Javed, 28, Kabir Ahmed, 28, Umar Javed, 38, and Mehboob Hussain, 44, were arrested following complaints about leaflets distributed in Derby before a gay pride parade in July 2010. The material was handed out in the street as well as posted through letterboxes.
The first, called Death Penalty?, claimed that Allah permitted the destruction of gay people and ‘the only question is how it should be carried out’.
The second, called Turn or Burn, featured the figure in a blazing lake with the warning that the decriminalisation of homosexuality was ‘the root of all problems’. A third, GAY – God Abhors You –told of severe punishment for homosexuals.
Bobbie Cheema, prosecuting, told Derby Crown Court the pamphlets were threatening, offensive, frightening and nasty and had been ‘designed to stir up hatred and hostility against homosexual people’.
Gay men who received the leaflets told the court they feared they had been personally targeted. One witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he was handed one leaflet in person and received three more in the post. ‘Being a gay man, I thought it was meant for me,’ he said. ‘I felt like I was being targeted. I thought it meant I was going to be burned or something like that.’
Another, who received two of the leaflets in the post, said: ‘I felt threatened. I wondered whether I would be getting a flaming rag through my letter box.’
The jury heard that in the weeks before the gay pride parade, Ihjaz Ali approached police about staging a protest against it.
Ali, who the prosecution say organised the distribution of the leaflets, showed officers a list of slogans intended for use on placards and literature. The slogans included ‘paedo gays, you will pay’, ‘turn forever or burn forever’ and ‘Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’.
His request was refused and he was later arrested on the back of the welter of public complaints about the leaflets.
Ali allegedly told the officers who questioned him that it was his duty to express laws laid down by Allah.
Miss Cheema told the jury: ‘These five defendants were part of a small group who distributed horrible, threatening literature, with quotations from religious sources and pictures, which were designed to stir up hostile feelings against homosexual people.’
The court heard that all five defendants accept they distributed the leaflets but deny charges of intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation under laws introduced in March 2010.
The maximum penalty for the offences is seven years in jail. Ali faces four charges while Hussain and Umar Javed are charged with two counts each. Razwan Javed and Ahmed are charged with one count each. The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, continues.
Backlog of British graduates struggling to find work creates ‘jobs bottleneck’
Graduates are competing for top jobs against a ‘backlog’ of university-leavers who are still struggling to find work, a report warns today. One in three applications for this year’s graduate vacancies are from students who left higher education in 2011 or earlier.
And almost half of applicants for retail and public sector roles in 2012 are past graduates, according to the annual study from High Fliers, an independent market research company.
On average, there have been at least 48 applications per graduate vacancy, which means that tens of thousands of university-leavers face disappointment in the job market this summer.
To compound the problem, this year’s graduates have been warned that they stand ‘little or no chance’ of landing well-paid jobs with leading employers if they do not have any work experience, whatever their degree class.
The gloomy findings could further deter future students from higher education amid the prospect of spiralling levels of debt.
Figures from Ucas already show that over 23,000 fewer British students have applied for degree courses beginning this Autumn as fees are tripled to as much as £9,000-a-year.
The High Fliers’ report, The Graduate Market in 2012, examines graduate vacancies and starting salaries at 100 of the UK’s most successful employers including Procter & Gamble, Rolls-Royce, Sainsbury’s, Boots and Unilever.
It reveals that employers are expected to increase their graduate recruitment by 6.4 per cent this year. Almost half plan to employ more graduates in 2012 while over a quarter aim to maintain their intake at 2011 levels.
However, bosses have received 19 per cent more graduate job applications so far, compared to the 2010-11 recruitment round. A fifth of employers say applications have risen by more than 25 per cent. The biggest demand is for consultancy jobs which have seen a 75 per cent leap in applications. Some organisations have already closed off the application process for 2012 positions even though the termination date is usually in the summer.
The report says some employers had opened up their applications earlier which could have ‘contributed to a much higher volume of early applications from students and recent graduates’. It adds: ‘Other recruiters felt that a backlog of graduates from previous years who were still looking for work and applications from postgraduate students was contributing to their bumper crop of applicants.’
Meanwhile, a record 36 per cent of this year’s graduate vacancies are expected to be filled by applicants who have already worked for the organisation during their studies.
More than half of recruiters warned that graduates who had no previous work experience at all were ‘unlikely to be successful’ and had ‘little or no chance of receiving a job offer’ on their graduate programmes.
Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, said the ‘backlog’ of graduates has been building up for a number of years. He said: ‘It was made much worse by the recession, but if you look at the graduate market as a whole there are somewhere between 150,000-160,000 graduate level vacancies each year. ‘This year we’re on course for about 330,000 graduates to leave university. Inevitably, in recent years, tens of thousands of people who wanted a graduate job didn’t find work.
‘Many chose to go off and do further study or go travelling. But eventually all of them will have to come back and find a job. That does cut down the number of places available for the class of 2012.’
He added: ‘In a highly competitive graduate job market, new graduates who’ve not had any work experience at all during their time at university have little hope of landing a well-paid job with a leading employer, irrespective of the academic results they achieve or the university they’ve attended.’
Shale gas pollution fears dismissed
It is “extremely unlikely” that ground water supplies would be polluted by methane as a result of controversial “fracking” for shale gas, UK geologists have said.
And although the process, which uses high-pressure liquid pumped deep underground to fracture shale rock and release gas, caused two earthquakes in Lancashire last year, the quakes were too small to cause damage, they said.
Campaigners have called for a moratorium on fracking in the UK in the face of the earthquakes and amid fears it could lead to pollution of drinking water by methane gas or chemicals in the liquid used in the process.
Fracking has proved controversial in the US, where shale gas is already being exploited on a large scale and where footage has been captured of people able to set fire to the water coming out of their taps as a result of gas contamination.
But Professor Mike Stephenson, of the British Geological Survey, said most geologists thought it was a “pretty safe activity” and the risks associated with it were low.
He said the distance between groundwater supplies around 40-50 metres below the surface and the deep sources of gas in the shale a mile or two underground, made it unlikely methane would leak into water as a result of fracking.
There was no evidence in peer-reviewed literature of pollution of water by methane as a result of fracking, he said, adding that the presence of the gas in US water supplies was likely to be natural. But a survey was currently being conducted in the UK, to establish a baseline of any gas naturally found in groundwater before drilling took place.
“If you don’t know what the baseline is, you don’t know if people are running a tight ship. There’s natural methane in groundwater and you have to distinguish between what’s there already and what might have leaked in.”
He said two cases of methane pollution of water in the US, neither of which were due to fracking for shale gas, were the result of mismanagement. The UK has one of the strictest regulatory regimes in the world, he added.
Fracking by energy company Cuadrilla was halted in the Blackpool area last year, after two small quakes in the area which the geologists are certain were caused by fracking. Although they were felt by around 50 people in the area, they were too small to cause any damage.