Number waiting over four hours in casualty soars by 40% in one year since targets were scrapped
The number of patients spending more than four hours in casualty has jumped 40 per cent in a year. The figure rose to nearly 900,000 in 2010/11 compared with just under 600,000 in the 12 months before.
Last year the Government scrapped a target brought in by Labour that 98 per cent of A&E patients must be seen within four hours claiming it had ‘no clinical justification’. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley then brought in a new 95 per cent figure.
But a report by the NHS Information Centre shows that this new target has been missed – 5.6 per cent of patients waited longer than four hours last year. A total of 891,916 were delayed for longer than four hours last year compared with 598,379 in 2009/10.
There is increasing evidence that waiting times across the NHS are now gradually creeping back up again having hit an all-time low. Higher numbers are facing longer delays for ultrasounds, CT scans and routine operations than was the case two years ago.
Increasing financial strains coupled with confusion caused by the controversial health reforms are thought to be taking their toll on waiting times and overall patient care.
Andy Burnham, Labour’s health spokesman, accused the Government of pushing the NHS ‘to the edge of a cliff’. He added: ‘One of the Health Secretary’s first acts on taking office was to downgrade Labour’s firm grip on A&E waiting times. Now the Government has even missed its own lower target. Labour left waiting times at a historic low, but the Government has thrown all this away.
‘This is exactly what we warned would happen when they relaxed waiting times targets and launched the biggest top-down costly reorganisation of the NHS. ‘This is a stark warning from a health service in increasing distress.’
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘The figures published today refer to total time spent in A&E, including time waiting to be seen and time taken to be treated.’
‘We are determined to improve the quality of care in accident and emergency. That is why we have developed quality indicators which measure what actually matters to patients – whether they are treated effectively at A&Es, as well as whether they are being treated in a timely way.’
Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: ‘We do not want to go back to the days where clinical judgement was distorted by looming targets but, equally, patients should not have to wait for hours on end.’
Two Church of England clergymen ‘conducted hundreds of sham marriages to help illegal immigrants stay in Britain’
This is another aspect of the way the CofE now preaches a Leftist gospel rather than the gospel of Christ. These bozos probably thought that what they were doing was right
Two Church of England vicars conducted ‘hundreds’ of sham marriages to help illegal immigrants stay in Britain, a court heard today.
The Reverend Elwon John, 44, and Reverend Brian Shipsides, 55, performed the sham wedding ceremonies at All Saints Church in Forest Gate, east London, jurors were told.
Once wed there were a ‘strikingly high proportion’ who then made applications to the Home Office for the right to remain in the country.
In some cases, EU nationals were even flown into Britain just so the marriages could take place before being flown straight out again, Inner London crown court heard.
According to the prosecution, 31-year-old ‘fixer’ Amdudalat Ladipo – herself an illegal immigrant – arranged the weddings between mainly Nigerian and EU nationals.
It was not until officers from the Metropolitan Police and UK Border Agency caught wind of the scam that the trio were finally rumbled on July 31, 2010.
All three are now charged with conspiring to facilitate unlawful immigration. Shipsides has already pleaded guilty. Ladipo and John deny the charges.
David Walbank, prosecuting, said: ‘This case involves a massive and systematic immigration fraud. ‘At the centre of this fraud is one particular parish church in the east of London, All Saints Church in Forest Gate.
‘The Crown’s case is that there took place in that church over a two-and-a-half year period a very large number indeed of sham marriages entered in to for the purpose of immigration.
‘Most of the so-called couples participated in these marriage ceremonies were not actually couples at all. ‘They were married in that church not because they wished to spend their lives together and wanted the blessing of the church; most of the persons married there for a very different reason. ‘Their ultimate purpose was to obtain enhanced rights to enter and live in the United Kingdom.’
Mr Walbank told jurors the majority of the marriages which took place were between Nigerians and nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA), mainly from Portugal and the Netherlands. He added: ‘The fraud, the Crown suggest, wasn’t confined to one or two, or even a couple of dozen of ceremonies. We are concerned in this case with hundreds of sham marriages. ‘On some occasions EEA nationals were flown into the UK specially for marriages to take place and then flown back out again.’
The court heard Nigerian Ladipo may also have been involved in fixing sham marriages at other churches, although the jury were told she only faces charges in relation to weddings at All Saints.
When police attended the church in July 2010 after being told a number of sham weddings were due to take place there that day they found Ladipo there.
The court heard one of the officers approached her and asked her why she was there. She replied one of her friends was getting married. However, when asked for her friend’s name she is said to have become agitated and was later seen trying to get rid of a brown envelope under a bush in the church grounds.
When seized the enveloped was found to contain a number of ID documents which were not hers and sham paperwork relating to the marriages and she was arrested. Rev John, the curate at All Saints Church, and parish priest Rev Shipsides were arrested a few days later on August 3.
Mr Walbank told jurors: ‘If the sham marriages hadn’t been stopped they would have continued at a rate of knots as there were many more booked at the church that would have taken place.’
Jurors heard Ladipo herself may have entered into a sham marriage with a Dutch national in February 2010. ‘Her reason for going through with the marriage we suggest is entirely consistent with the motive of others at All Saints Church during the indictment period, to stay in the country,’ said Mr Walbank.
Shipsides, of Forest Gate, east London, has already admitted conspiring to facilitate unlawful immigration.
Ladipo, of Dagenham, and John, of Barking, both in east London, deny the same charge. Ladipo also denies possessing false identity documents. The trial, expected to take four weeks, continues.
And another one!
Rev Canon Dr Patrick John Magumba
A vicar who conducted 28 sham marriages to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the UK has been jailed for two and a half years. The Reverend Canon John Magumba, 58, married Nigerians to European Union residents to allow them “all the benefits from residence” in this country. The Ugandan-born vicar, a father of six, also pocketed over £8,000 paid in wedding fees for the ceremonies in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
Magumba, who appeared at Bolton Crown Court wearing an open neck shirt and no dog collar, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Immigration Act and two charges of theft totalling £8,345. The vicar, who came to Britain from Uganda in 2004, was the team vicar for three churches in Rochdale.
The sham marriages were exposed when church officials noticed a massive explosion in the number of weddings following Magumba’s appointment.
An investigation by the UK Border agency found that there had been 28 sham weddings between Nigerians and EU nationals.
At one church there had been no weddings between 1996 and 2007 but then 21 between 2007 and 2010 – only one of which was genuine.
Magumba, of Deeplish, Rochdale married two women with the same name and same age within a week of each other. He claimed that the women were twins and that it was an African tradition to give twins the same name.
The vicar conducted marriages in secret and failed to read the banns for others or to check the addresses which had been given. He ignored a Church working party instruction to make sure that foreign nationals wanting to marry provide passports, utility bills and addresses “to ensure they were a genuine loving couple.”
The court heard an independent economic report showed that a single illegal immigrant cost the taxpayer £10,000 a year and one with a dependent child cost £23,000 a year.
Mr Hunter Gray, defending, said Magumba had been driven by a “genuine but misguided desire” to help others. “He is a man of genuinely held and deeply felt Christian beliefs and he has fallen spectacularly from grace. “He feels shame and embarrassment that he has let so many people down.”
Judge William Morris jailed him for two years for the immigration offence and six months for the thefts, to run consecutively. He told him: “You repeatedly breached immigration laws which are properly designed to prevent those with no entitlement to reside in the Uk from doing so. “These legal restrictions are essential to ensure taxpayers’ money is only applied to the needs of fellow citizens.”
Immigration Minister Damien Green said after the sentence: “This sentence sends a clear message to anyone breaking our immigration laws that Britain is not a soft touch. “We work closely with the Church to identify sham marriages and identify those who seek to abuse the institution of marriage.”
Archbishop blasts clerics who oppose welfare reform and declares REAL moral scandal is our £1 trillion debt
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey today launches an astonishing attack on the five bishops trying to derail the Government’s £26,000-a-year benefit cap.
In an article for the Daily Mail, Lord Carey insists the sheer scale of Britain’s public debt – which yesterday hit £1trillion – is the ‘greatest moral scandal’ facing the country and warns the welfare system is rewarding ‘fecklessness and irresponsibility’.
He is scathing about all opponents of the proposed limit on benefits – who include Labour peers and Liberal Democrat rebels – but reserves his most outspoken criticism for the Anglican bishops, who led the rebellion in the House of Lords.
He said they encouraged the culture of welfare dependency which led to ‘poverty of aspiration’, and warned them that they could lay no claim to the ‘moral high ground’.
‘If we can’t get the deficit under control and begin paying back this debt, we will be mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren,’ he writes.
Lord Carey hails Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith as a ‘committed Christian’ who is trying to reform a welfare system which is ‘fuelling vices and impoverishing us all’.
Downing Street insisted last night that its plan to impose an annual limit on welfare payments would be implemented ‘in full’ despite the dramatic defeat in the Lords. Labour leader Ed Miliband’s decision to try to derail Government plans for a cap, designed to ensure workless households cannot receive more than the average working family, was branded a ‘total disaster’ by his own shadow ministers.
Amid accounts of chaos and confusion in the run up to a crunch vote, several frontbenchers expressed despair that the party had appeared to put itself on the side of benefit claimants over working families.
Labour issued a tortured explanation of its stance, claiming it did not in fact support bishops’ plans to exclude Child Benefit from the cap, but wanted an opportunity to return the legislation to the Commons to make different amendments.
In his attack on the bishops, Lord Carey says it is clear that the welfare system ‘desperately’ needs to be reined in and insists it is ‘obvious’ that employment must pay more than a life on benefits.
‘Considering that the system they are defending can mean some families are able to claim a total of £50,000 a year in welfare benefits, the bishops must have known that popular opinion was against them, including that of many hard-working, hard-pressed churchgoers,’ he writes.
‘Yet these five bishops – led by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds – cannot lay claim to the moral high-ground.
‘The sheer scale of our public debt, which hit £1trillion yesterday, is the greatest moral scandal facing Britain today. If we can’t get the deficit under control and begin paying back this debt, we will be mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren.’
Lord Carey is particularly scathing about the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, who led the Lords revolt by invoking the Bible and Jesus’s concern for children. ‘I can’t possibly believe that prolonging our culture of welfare dependency is in the best interests of our children,’ he writes.
The Cabinet discussed Monday night’s defeat in the Lords when it met yesterday. It agreed to reverse the amendment when the legislation returns to the Commons.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: ‘I think the vast majority of people think it is fair to say that you can’t receive more in benefits than if you were to earn £35,000 before tax.
He added that the Government had already increased out-of-work benefits by 5.2 per cent for this year, saying: ‘We want to make sure that those who are vulnerable are properly supported but that at all times in the welfare system there are incentives to work and that it pays to work.’
But Enver Solomon, policy director at the Children’s Society, warned the Government not to ignore the Lords’ vote. He said: ‘Children should not be held responsible and penalised for the employment circumstances of their parents.’
Labour peers backed the bishops’ amendment, to exclude Child Benefit from the cap, despite the party saying it supported the principle. It said it would aim to add additional safeguards when the proposals return to the Commons.
But one Labour frontbencher said: ‘Do you imagine my constituents are going to understand the idea that we support a cap but have voted against it? They will just think we support unlimited handouts for people out of work. It is a total disaster.’
Conservative Deputy Chairman Michael Fallon said: ‘Ed Miliband has failed the key test of his leadership. He has promised to “take the tough decisions” on reforming welfare. But his party in the Lords supported a wrecking amendment to ensure that some families get thousands of pounds more in benefits than the average family earns by working.’
Eight out of ten Brits claiming benefits ARE fit to work, according to new incapacity tests
Eight out of ten people tested for new incapacity benefits were found to be fit for work, official figures revealed yesterday. The Department for Work and Pensions decided that 57 per cent of claimants were no longer eligible for the hand-outs. A further 21 per cent could carry out some sort of work with the right support.
Just one fifth of claimants – 22 per cent – were found unable to do any form of employment.
Around 1.5million people who have been claiming Incapacity Benefit are being reassessed for its replacement – the Employment Support Allowance – to see if they are able to carry out work.
The latest figures show the numbers claiming ESA and Incapacity Benefit have dropped to their lowest level since 1996 following the introduction of the tests.
There are still 2.6million people claiming the benefits, nearly a million of whom have been on them for more than a decade.
Figures relating to claims lodged between March and May last year show that 38 per cent were dismissed at the first stage – before face-to-face assessments were carried out – while 48 per cent were subjected to further consideration. A further 14 per cent of claimants are still being assessed.
The latest analysis also shows there has been a decrease in the number of people claiming for drug and alcohol-related conditions – from 105,110 in May 2010 to 100,120 in May last year.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: ‘These reforms are changing the landscape of our country. ‘By concentrating on what people can do, we will help people back into work and out of the trap of benefits that has blighted communities.
‘We want to help everyone who can be in work to get there, not just for themselves but for their children. It is clear that the majority of new claimants to sickness benefits are in fact able to do some work.’
But critics have warned that the new testing regime is flawed – and a report by MPs on the work and pensions select committee recently found that large numbers of seriously unwell claimants have been wrongly refused support and high numbers of appeals have proved successful.
Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted the new system is much better at putting people through their ‘paces’.
Claimants who pass the first stage of assessment are then placed in three groups: Those who need permanent support, those who might be able to work after a few months and those fit to work. If placed in the latter category they are told to resubmit a benefits application – but this time for Jobseekers Allowance.
Unhappy windmill owners in Shetland
Serious and widespread breakdowns — and the maker has gone broke
A solution may be on the horizon for owners of Proven P35-2 wind turbines in Shetland nearly four months after they were ordered to shut down their machines following catastrophic weld failures elsewhere in Scotland.
The Microgeneration Certification Scheme, the body that decides which small renewable devices qualify for government power generation subsidies, said this week a way forward had been identified for the flawed £60,000 machines and agreement on the solution should be reached within weeks.
The MCS said: “Once the agreed solution has been finalised MCS will instruct the installation companies to advise their customers of the remedial work that will be required to restart the turbines.”
The long-awaited breakthrough for P35-2 owners, including the handful in Shetland, follows a meeting last week between the MCS’ certification body and the various parties involved with the turbines.
However with hundreds of the machines in existence in Scotland and elsewhere it remains to be seen when a turbine installer will be in a position to attend to the out-of-action machines in Shetland.
The 12.1 kiloWatt P35-2 was suspended from MCS certification on 23rd September after three spectacular main shaft failures. The drastic technical problem brought down Proven Energy itself followed by two of its main installers, Icon Energy and Shetland Wind Power. Proven was later bought by the large Irish firm Kingspan but it washed its hands of the old company’s turbine customers.
Shetland Wind Power’s customer base and some other assets were bought by VG Energy, an Ayrshire-based turbine installer which has been working on a solution to the P35-2 shaft problem.
A new company, still called Shetland Wind Power, has been set up. VG Energy’s founders, farmers Jim Paterson and Stephen Hamilton, also formed two other new companies called Shetland Turbines and Shetland Renewables. VG has ignored several approaches from The Shetland Times for information to provide to its readers.
Until the P35-2 solution is agreed and applied to the turbines the MCS has advised that the brake should be kept on to keep them out of action, although some have been running from time to time since the shutdown was ordered last year.
The news of movement on the P35-2 problem was welcomed by SNP Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart this week. She said: “I am delighted that progress is now being made and that these machines should soon be working again. “There are many of these turbines in Shetland and a number of owners have contacted me regarding the difficulties they are facing.”
Each owner has been losing potentially thousands of pounds a month from not being able to claim subsidy, enjoy free electricity or sell excess power into the Shetland grid.
As well as problems with the rotor heads there now seems to be question marks over the towers that the P35-2 turbines are built on. A machine owned by Norman and Evelyn Leask at Snarness, near West Burrafirth, suffered a catastrophic failure of its tower during a north-westerly storm at the end of last year. The steel tower broke in two, causing the turbine to crash to the ground.
Another leading turbine company, Evoco, is having to beef-up its 10kW turbine designs after suffering machine failures during gales in Yorkshire. There has been a problem with a rotational bearing which causes blades to snap off. Owners were told to shut them down and Evoco pledged to compensate them for lost feed-in tariff subsidy.
Map-makers admit Greenland gaffe
That poisonous Greenie influence is pervasive. Truth is the least of their concerns
The 2011 version of the map, left, incorrectly showed ice-loss
IT APPEARED to provide incontrovertible proof that global warming was accelerating faster than even the most doom-laden scientists had predicted.
There was considerable alarm when the word’s most authoritative atlas printed a map which showed that Greenland was rapidly turning green.
However, experts from around the globe pointed out that the cataclysmic chart had no scientific support and was contradicted by all of the most recent satellite images.
Now the Scottish map-makers responsible for the disappearance of 115,830 square miles of polar ice have admitted publicly they were wrong. As an act of contrition, The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World cartographers have produced a new map which restores Greenland’s ice cover.
Jethro Lennox, senior publishing editor of the £150 tome, insisted lessons would be learned from the episode, which generated headlines around the globe. The Glasgow-based map-maker said: “We’re very disappointed at the way it happened. “But we are now looking to draw a line under the Greenland controversy and move on.”
The latest atlas, which was published in September, showed a reduction in ice cover compared with the previous edition from four years ago.
Accompanying publicity material declared the change represented “concrete evidence” of the effects of global warming, stating: “For the first time the new edition has had to erase 15 per cent of Greenland’s permanent ice cover – turning an area the size of the UK and Ireland ‘green’ and ice-free.”
Publishers HarperCollins originally stood by the accuracy of the map but have since admitted to the mistake after the blunder was exposed by scientists.
Mr Lennox said: “After publication of the 13th edition of The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World it became apparent that we had not represented the permanent ice cover in Greenland fully and clearly. “In failing to do that, this section of the map did not meet the usual high standards of accuracy and reliability that the atlas strives to uphold. “To correct this, we decided to produce a new, more detailed map using the latest information available.” A new, corrected map of Greenland will be inserted into all remaining copies.
The updated chart was put together after the cartographers consulted experts from the University of Arizona, the University of Bristol, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland and the Byrd Polar Research Centre.
The editor claimed the newly established links would prevent errors in future. He said: “We have made some valuable contacts and will be keen to work with them again in the future.”
One in three top British companies can’t fill graduate vacancies: Too many leave university without the right skills, say bosses
One in three top companies left graduate jobs unfilled last year amid complaints about the quality of recruits, a report warns today. Rising numbers of employers failed to meet recruitment targets, citing university-leavers’ skills as a problem.
The shortfall comes despite rising unemployment and the fact that it is estimated there are at least 48 applications per graduate vacancy. One graduate in six now obtains a first – double the figure from a decade ago – while almost half get a respectable 2:1.
But a study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters turns the spotlight on the quality of graduates entering the job market.
One accountancy employer has already been forced to downgrade some graduate positions to target school-leavers because they are deemed ‘stronger’.
With graduate vacancies predicted to fall by 1.2 per cent in 2011-12, the AGR yesterday warned students they would need more than just a good degree to land plum jobs.
Chief executive Carl Gilleard said they needed ‘transferable skills’ such as the ability to work in teams and communicate well, and urged them to spend more time on their applications, covering basics such as spell-checking letters.
The association surveyed more than 200 members – including Marks & Spencer, Ernst & Young, GCHQ, John Lewis, the Bank of England, Grant Thornton and Procter & Gamble – about graduate recruitment last November.
Graduate vacancies increased by 1.7 per cent in 2010-11 but some companies still had problems recruiting due to a ‘lack of applicants or poor-quality applications’. Similar problems are anticipated for 2011-12.
Around 32.2 per cent of employers failed to fill all graduate vacancies in the 2010-11, a 6.2 percentage point increase on 2009-10.
Two-fifths (40.6 per cent) could not fill up to five per cent of their vacancies. A ‘lack of the right applicants’ was one of the reasons, with employers ‘highlighting that applicants’ skill levels often did not meet their requirements’.
An employer from the public sector said: ‘When we’ve got a starting point of around 1,000 applications I’d be really surprised if I couldn’t fill six vacancies, whereas if I was looking for 30 I might struggle a bit.’
The AGR report says: ‘This was more problematic for an employer from an engineering and industrial company who reported that they were struggling to recruit skilled engineering graduates.
‘They explained that whilst they receive good international applications, they experience difficulties achieving security clearance at the right level to employ them and so there is an urgent need for more skilled British engineering graduates to remedy this situation.’
An accountancy employer added: ‘Graduates are perhaps spending less time on their applications.
‘If I had one key message to get across it would be yes, there’s competition, but just make sure that every single application they submit is the best they can possibly do.’
Another employer pointed out that some ‘school-leavers were stronger than graduates’ so it had converted a number of positions.
The report said some industries were beginning to suffer ‘in light of the inflexibility of the work-life balance’, with a number of companies failing to meet recruitment targets because graduates wanted a job that ‘allows them to have a life’.
The report comes as official figures yesterday raised fears that Britain could be facing a double-dip recession. Growth figures slowed by 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011. Unemployment recently rose to a 17-year high of 2.68million.
Scrap carbon tax say British politicians who believe it will have ‘devastating effect’ on industry
A carbon tax being introduced next year will increase household electricity bills and could have a ‘devastating effect’ on industry, MPs say. In a damning report they claim the ‘carbon price floor’ will saddle businesses with higher green penalties than the rest of Europe while failing to deliver any environmental benefits.
The Energy and Climate Change Committee urged the Treasury to scrap the plan and warned against revenue-raising exercises ‘disguised as a green policy’.
Chancellor George Osborne announced the levy on businesses for every tonne of carbon they emit last March. Starting at £16, it will almost double to £30 by 2020 for users of coal.
By ‘going it alone’ on setting a minimum levy, the UK faces the prospect of industry relocating to elsewhere in Europe, MPs warned.
Higher carbon costs also mean electricity prices will increase as the UK ends up effectively subsidising other European states, they added.
Committee chairman Tim Yeo said: ‘The Chancellor was right to say we won’t save the planet by putting the UK out of business. ‘Ironically, however, it is the Treasury’s decision to set a Carbon Price Floor that could result in industry and electricity production relocating to other EU countries. ‘Unless the price of carbon is increased at an EU-wide level, taking action on our own will have no overall effect on emissions other than to out-source them.
‘A revenue raising exercise disguised as a green policy won’t help anybody, the price of carbon has to be increased at an EU level to kick-start investment in clean energy.’
Energy generators and heavy industry, such as steel and ceramics, face an ‘exorbitant’ top-up tax of up to £25 per tonne of CO2 under current plans, according to the report. Although UK emissions will be reduced under the Treasury plans, overall levels across Europe may not, the report said.
It calls for EU targets to be toughened up to deliver a 30% emissions reduction target by 2020 and an overall 60-80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Mr Yeo added: ‘Instead of going it alone, the Chancellor would be better-off working with other European Governments to make the EU Emissions Trading System more effective as a whole. ‘Before phase three starts next year, EU countries must set aside pollution permits to end the glut that has caused the price of carbon to collapse.’