Charities warn of NHS crisis over Parkinson’s ‘timebomb’ as number of cases is set to rise
The NHS faces a looming crisis with soaring numbers of people developing Parkinson’s disease and similar devastating illnesses, a report warns.
Services are already struggling to cope and patients are frequently ‘shunted into hospital’ against their will when they could be far better cared for at home, it says.
The report by the Neurological Alliance, formed by charities including Parkinson’s UK, the MS Society and the Motor Neurone Disease Association, adds patients are ‘at the bottom of the Government’s “to-do” list’.
Around 127,000 people in Britain suffer from Parkinson’s, but this is expected to rise to 162,000 by 2020.
The illness causes problems with movement, coordination and tremors which progressively get worse. There is no cure. Steve Ford, chief executive of Parkinson’s UK said: ‘The situation can only get worse. ‘A crisis is looming but the Government has its head in the sand. ‘When it comes to helping vulnerable people with a neurological condition the Government is floundering around in a fog of its own making.
‘People affected by neurological conditions are fed up with being at the bottom of the Government’s ‘To Do’ list. It is time the Department of Health sorted out this mess. ‘It’s not about spending more money: it’s about getting good value and quality services.’
The report also warns that millions of pounds of taxpayers’ is being wasted forcing patients into hospital against their will when they could be better looked after at home.
It highlights the cases of two patients with motor neurone disease who had to stay in intensive care for five and six months respectively at a total cost of £1million.
By comparison, the cost of looking after both patients in the comforts of their homes using special breathing machines would have been just £120,000, it states.
The report claims that the NHS has no idea what has happened to £800million of funding meant for patients with such illnesses.
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the MS Society, said: ‘The Government now needs to send a clear message to everyone living with a neurological condition that these services are a priority.’
Tory unreconstructed ‘modernisers’ want to go back to the future
This is like “Life on Mars” in reverse. A bunch of new Conservative MPs seem to have crashed their cars in 1998 and woken up in 2012. This 301 Group as it calls itself will apparently meet with David Cameron today at No 10 in order to impart an urgent message: the party needs to modernise its image. In order to do that, it must go beyond the old obsessions – Europe, immigration and “cuts” – in order to embrace the more fashionable themes of the environment, poverty and the benefits of the welfare state. What? Hello?
Where have these people been for the past two years? Has nobody told them that immigration was the number one issue on the doorstep in the last general election – and that putting it at the top of your priorities does not require being a bigot? Or that it is now the economy which is at the top of the list of ordinary voters worries – and that they are overwhelmingly persuaded of the need for spending cuts as a way of dealing with the present crisis? Are they aware that “the environment” (which is to say, global warming) is electoral death as an electoral issue: that even if voters are not positively scepticial about climate change itself, they are furiously resistant to the idea of green taxes and put environmental issues way back in the queue of their concerns?
On the matter of poverty, have they taken in the fact that Iain Duncan Smith has inaugurated a whole new Conservative approach which involves a far deeper understanding of its causes – among them being welfare dependency and the breakdown of the family – as well as a more compassionate view of the plight of the poor? Good grief. What are these people thinking? Do they not realise that the glossy and superficial image obsession of the Tory modernisers was what made the party seem shallow and opportunistic, and effectively cost the Conservatives the majority they should have won at the last general election?
I do hope that the meeting today goes well and that Mr Cameron treats this delegation from the past with the kindness that deranged people require.
Nutrition therapists condemned as ‘quacks’ who put patients’ health at risk
Nutrition therapists have been condemned as quacks and accused of putting the health of the sick – including those suffering from breast cancer – at risk.
An industry has grown up based on the concept that ‘food doctor’ nutritionists can cure patients’ ills and allergies through diet.
However at least some of the practitioners, who charge up to £80 for a consultation, are providing advice that could harm health, a study by the consumer watchdog Which? found.
The group sent undercover researchers to pose as patients with a range of problems and visit 15 so-called nutritional therapists.
Which? said: ‘They found shocking examples of advice which could have put patients with real health problems at risk.’ All but one of the 15 offered either potentially dangerous or misleading advice. Six of the consultations were rated as ‘dangerous fails’ in terms of misinformation and bad advice. A further eight were rated as ‘fails’, and just one a ‘borderline pass’.
Which? is calling on the Government to regulate the sector which, like much of the cosmetic beauty and anti-ageing industry, has no effective policing regime.
It said: ‘One researcher, posing as a breast cancer sufferer, was told by her therapist to delay radiotherapy treatment recommended by her oncologist, saying they could rid the body of cancer through diet. ‘The therapist advised her to follow a no-sugar diet for three to six months saying, “Cancer feeds off sugar. By cutting out sugar we have a better chance of the cancer going away.”’
This was considered highly irresponsible and incorrect by a panel set up by Which? to assess the advice. It included Professor David Colquhoun, an expert in pharmacology at University College London and a GP, Dr Margaret McCartney.
Another researcher was told if the treatment prescribed for his severe tiredness started to make him feel unwell, it showed that it was working. The therapist advised him not to contact his GP as they ‘wouldn’t understand what was happening’.
Bizarre tests, including iridology, which involves examining patterns in the iris, and hair analysis were also used to ‘diagnose’ conditions.
A researcher who said she had been struggling to conceive was told after having her iris examined she had ‘bowel toxicity’ and a ‘leathery bowel’. Both are meaningless terms, the expert panel said.
Which? found the therapists often used these tests as a part of a sales talk to market unnecessary supplements costing up to £70 a month. Very few of the 15 addressed issues that would have had a positive impact on health, such as reducing alcohol intake.
Prof Colquhoun said: ‘Nutritional therapy is plagued by ‘diagnostic tests’ that are little more than quackery. Iridology and hair analysis simply don’t work.’ Dr McCartney said: ‘If you have symptoms see your GP, not someone who can’t diagnose accurately.’
Which? has decided not to name the therapists involved. However, it has reported its findings to the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy (BANT), where a number are registered.
BANT declined to comment.
The British Dietetic Association was keen to make clear its trained dietitians are very different from nutrition therapists such as those visited by Which? BDA said: ‘Anybody can set up shop as a nutrition therapist, with no qualifications. Registered dieticians working in the UK are educated to degree level and must be registered with the Health Professions Council.’
Antisemitism at a famously Left-leaning British university
A leading university is embroiled in a race row after a Jewish student was assaulted at a Nazi-themed drinking party. The 21-year-old London School of Economics student was subjected to anti-semitic abuse and left with a broken nose following a brawl during a ski trip to Val d’Isere, France.
An investigation has been mounted by the university and its student union after a video of the assault was taken and students provided witness statements.
The victim, who does not wish to be identified, had excused himself from taking part in the Nazi elements of the game, but became increasingly offended at remarks hurled at him by some students. A heated confrontation then turned into a brawl.
The alcohol-fuelled game, initiated by a small group of the union’s ski society, was called Ring Of Fire. Playing cards were arranged in a swastika shape and students urged to drink a shot of spirits and carry out forfeits depending on which card they picked out.
The rule card for the game made students stand up and say ‘Mein Fuhrer’ while making a Nazi salute if they picked out the joker card before drinking.
Another forfeit included the words ‘blitzkrieg’, the German lightning war that devastated much of Europe during the Second World War.
A video, which has been viewed by university officials, shows a man being attacked while a crowd chant ‘fight night, fight night’.
The student was urged to report the incident to French police, but instead complained to the LSE’s Jewish Society, after which it was referred to university bosses. In a statement released yesterday, he said: ‘I’ve seen this kind of game before, so it wasn’t so much the game that offended me, as much as the anti-semitic jibes that went with it. ‘There was a mix of personal references and general Jewish insults.
‘That was after I excused myself from the game. It made me extremely upset. That was the tipping point for me.
‘It was a build-up during the game, and seeing the swastika obviously, but the comments built up to the point where I couldn’t forgive myself if I let it slide. ‘I feel angry about it now. ‘There’s no doubt it was an affront to my identity, but on a personal level it was extremely upsetting.’
The trip to the resort was subsidised by the university and cost the 150 students only £329 each for a week in the resort from December 9 to 17 last year.
An LSE and student union statement said: ‘We are prepared to take disciplinary action if the allegations are shown to be true. ‘Students must abide by clear standards of behaviour set by both LSE and the SU and breaches of those standards are taken very seriously. ‘We do not tolerate anti-semitism or any other form of racism.’
Revealed: There are more charging points than electric cars in UK as sales slump
Sales of electric cars have slumped so badly that there are now more charging points than vehicles on the road. Just 2,149 electric cars have been sold since 2006, despite a government scheme last year offering customers up to £5,000 towards the cost of a vehicle.
The Department for Transport says that around 2,500 charging points have been installed, although their precise location is not known.
The government grant has boosted sales – from 138 in 2010 to 1,1082 last year – but only £3.9million of the £300million set aside has been paid out. A spokesman for the DFT told The Sunday Times: ‘It’s fair to say that there hasn’t been a huge take-up over the past year.’
The high cost of electric cars has put many off. The Nissan Leaf still costs £25,990 even after the £5,000 grant has been deducted.
Electric cars are also only suitable for short journeys, with a maximum range of around 100 miles on a full charge.
Mark Goodier, former Radio 1 DJ who owns a Nissan Leaf, told the newspaper: ‘Nissan needs to work on range. If you travel more than 100 miles, this is not for you. ‘You have to think about usage and plan what you are going to do. You can’t wake up and decide to drive to Scotland.’
The government is spending £30million on publicly-funded charging points and those in private companies. These range from points which take between six and eight hours, to those which provide an 80 per cent charge in half an hour.
Drivers can pay an annual fee to use the majority of the points, with authorities charging a membership fee for the year but no extra charge for electricity.
It’s a similar story in the U.S., with Nissan selling 10,000 Leaf cars last year – compared to almost 13million new vehicles every year, The Sunday Times reported.
A spokesman for Nissan said: ‘The Leaf is meeting its business plans but it’s a car that’s going to take a while to be accepted in the market.’
More fuel-efficient petrol engines are also affecting electric car sales.
Norman Baker, transport minister, said the availability of electric cars was the main challenge to the market.
UK: Web site owner to be extradited to US on copyright infringement charges
“A judge ruled on Friday that a 23-year-old student can be extradited to the United States for running a website posting links to pirated TV shows and films, despite significant doubts over whether such sites break any UK laws. …
Richard O’Dwyer, a computing student at Sheffield Hallam University, faces a potential 10-year term in a US jail despite never having been to America or using web servers based in the country.”
Note: He did not host copyrighted material but posted links to copyrighted material. Apparently now it’s illegal to point and say “Hey, there’s copyrighted material over there!”
I think he would have a good free speech defense in the circumstances. It might have been different if SOPA had passed but that now seems dead in the water.