Horror in operating theatre after patient is set alight during surgery after cleaning fluid ignited

A hospital patient undergoing surgery was set on fire during the procedure when solution used to clean the skin ignited.

Officials at Scarborough Hospital, North Yorkshire, said the incident happened on Monday afternoon and also resulted in staff being burned.

The unnamed patient was treated for the injury and transferred to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorks.

Hospital officials said they were ‘very sorry for any pain and distress’.

Liz Booth, director of operations at Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust, said: ‘I can confirm that during a surgical procedure a solution used to clean the skin ignited, causing skin burns to the patient.

‘The skin burn was treated immediately and the patient was kept in hospital over night.

‘As a precaution the patient was transferred to Pinderfields for further assessment and on return was discharged.

‘We are extremely sorry for any pain and distress caused to the patient.

‘A full investigation commenced within minutes of the incident occurring and a final report will be produced and shared with the family.’


Now Britain’s health and safety police bans the coffee from mothers’ coffee morning because it is a ‘scalding hazard’

Britain’s oppressive bureaucracy is always looking for ways to harass ordinary people

It is a common occurrence up and down the country every day. Groups of mothers with their children get together for a chat and a cup of tea or coffee.

But mothers who attend one weekly coffee morning have been left furious after health and safety chiefs banned hot drinks from their event.

Volunteers have been ordered to change the name of the Friday morning sessions from ‘Coffee and Play’ to just ‘Baby Play’.

Biscuits have also been replaced by healthy snacks including fruit and bread sticks.

Parents attending the Stratford Children’s Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon, must now catch up over a plastic cup of water.

The weekly 90-minute sessions have been running for five years for children aged 18 months and under and no toddler has ever been injured in that time. But last week Warwickshire County Council introduced the ban after it ruled hot drinks were a hazard to toddlers.

Parents have now branded the ban ‘health and safety madness’.

One young mother, who did not want to be named, said: ‘The hot drinks were never served in a cup or a mug. ‘They were served in what I regard as a “no spill plastic safety cup” with a lid. ‘There were almost like flasks, with a very small opening. Everyone is just a bit disappointed.

‘I know it probably doesn’t seem much, but having a cup of tea or coffee is quite a nice social thing to do as a new mum. ‘Does this mean I shouldn’t be drinking a cup of coffee in the comfort of my home? ‘To me the ban is yet another example of health and safety madness.’

Children’s centres across Warwickshire can now only serve hot drinks if they are in a separate area from the toddlers.

Mum-of-two Sue Turner, 30, said: ‘What the council are saying is if a parent wants a cuppa they must turn their back on their child and walk across to another area of the children’s centre to make it and drink it. ‘Surely it is more dangerous to leave your child unattended than it is to have a cup of tea on a table next to you while you watch them.’

Vicky Kersey, children’s centre officer at the council, defended the ban. She said: ‘To minimise any risk of scalding a child we have introduced a hot drinks policy at all of the county’s children’s centres.

‘Hot drinks can now only be served at children and baby sessions if the layout of the centre provides a separate area to consume hot drinks away from children playing.’

Caroline Loveridge, spokeswoman for the Stratford Children’s Centre added: ‘All families using the centre were informed about this change of arrangements and we invited their feedback. ‘The majority of responses we have received have been positive and supportive as parents understand we want to minimise the chance of any harm being caused to their child.’ [I’m betting that’s an outright lie]


Why Britain’s fallen out of love with the welfare state

Britain now spends 7.2 per cent of GDP on it’s welfare system, and the costs of supporting the, supposedly, needy continue to rise. As the Whitehall empire grows, drowning the noble intentions of welfare in red tape, so too do the number who chose to abuse the system.

The Heaton family recieves £30,000 in benefits but wants a bigger house. Seventy years after Sir William Beveridge began our welfare system, Dominique Sandbrook argues that, if we are to protect the truly needy, the welfare state needs massive reform

Seventy years ago, with Britain locked in battle against the armies of Nazi Germany, one of the most brilliant public servants of his generation was hard at work on a report that would change our national life for ever.

Invited by Churchill’s government to consider the issue of welfare once victory was won, Sir William Beveridge set out to slay the ‘five giants’ of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.

When his report was published at the end of 1942, it became the cornerstone of a welfare state that supported its citizens from cradle to grave, banishing the poverty and starvation of the Depression, and laying the foundations for the great post-war boom.

For years the welfare state was one of the glories of Britain’s democratic landscape, a monument to the generosity and decency of human nature, offering a hand up to those unlucky enough to be born at the bottom.

Seven decades on, however, the British people seem to be falling out of love with Beveridge’s brainchild.

According to a YouGov poll for Prospect magazine, a staggering 74 per cent of us think that the Government should slash benefits. Young and old, Labour and Tory, rich and poor: every single social group believes it is time to cut back.

As the pollster Peter Kellner points out, such public unanimity is almost unprecedented. And what’s more, 69 per cent believe our welfare system has ‘created a culture of dependency’, and that ‘people should take more responsibility for their lives and families’.

On the face of it, such findings are not surprising. At a time when ordinary families are struggling to make ends meet, people are bound to resent those who seem to be getting something for nothing.

Only two days ago, the Mail carried the story of Dr Barbara Longley, a welfare cheat who fraudulently claimed more than £100,000 in benefits while secretly holding an NHS pension and owning a Spanish holiday home. And with similar stories appearing almost every week, it is little wonder so many people shake their heads in angry disbelief.

Even so, the turn against welfare is unprecedented. In previous times of austerity, public attitudes have always remained remarkably generous. Even in the straitened late Seventies, for example, seven out of ten people told pollsters they would like to see higher taxes to pay for higher social spending.

The truth is that we have reached a watershed. Seventy years after Beveridge’s landmark report, the British people appear to have lost confidence in the welfare state.

The current system has become bureaucratic, sclerotic and ineffective, trapping thousands of people in a cycle of dependency. New ideas and a new approach are long overdue.

The irony is that Beveridge himself could never have foreseen how welfare would look in the 21st century. For even when he wrote his famous blueprint, he was looking backwards.

His mission was to eradicate the grinding poverty of the Hungry Thirties, when three out of four people in some industrial towns were out of work, when thousands of children suffered from disease and malnutrition, and when rickets, dental decay and anaemia were widespread in inner cities.

And to his credit, Beveridge’s system was an overwhelming success. Thanks to Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour government, institutions like the National Health Service, as well as innovations such as national insurance, transformed the lives of millions.

Yet like so many top-down initiatives, the welfare state gradually became a gigantic exercise in Whitehall empire-building. The figures tell the story.

When Attlee left office in 1951, we spent just £700 million a year on welfare (not including health and pensions), which amounted to 4.7 per cent of Britain’s GDP. Yet in 2011 we spent a whopping £110 billion a year, which works out at 7.2 per cent of GDP.

To the outside observer, the welfare state now seems a bewildering carousel of benefits and tax credits. The Department of Work and Pensions alone employs 130,000 people to administer this Byzantine system, costing the taxpayer around £60,000 per employee when office costs are taken into account.

Not surprisingly, waste and fraud are widespread. A few years ago, even the DWP itself admitted that the level of fraud in the jobseeker’s allowance was almost 10 per cent. Year after year, as the former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Edward Leigh, remarked, ‘the story has been the same: the DWP loses enormous sums of money to fraud and error . . . Year after year billions of pounds are going into the pockets of people who are not entitled to them.’

Of course, no government can entirely eradicate fraud and error. And the abuse of the system should never blind us to our moral responsibility to help those in genuine need.

Still, it is worth remembering that when Tony Blair came to power in 1997, he claimed that we had ‘reached the limits of the public’s willingness simply to fund an unreformed welfare system through ever higher taxes and spending.’ Urgent welfare reforms, he said, would ‘cut the bills of social failure’, releasing money for schools and hospitals.

Not even Mr Blair’s partisans would claim that such reforms were forthcoming. Instead, the leviathan staggered on, quietly eating up more and more of our national income. For an example of the way good intentions can have very unsettling results, look at the case of incapacity benefit. Of course, those people who are genuinely disabled deserve infinite compassion. To look after the weak is the first duty of any decent government; to abandon them would be unconscionable.

Still, given the British people are better housed, fed and cared for than any generation before, it beggars belief that today more than 2.5 million people of working age are paid almost £8 billion in disability benefits.

Tens of thousands are apparently unable to work because of dizziness, depression, headaches and phobias, while 2,000 people claim benefits because they are ‘too fat to work’.

Embarrassingly, Britain now has the highest proportion of working-age people on disability benefit in the developed world. And while just 3 per cent of Japanese people and 5 per cent of Americans live in households where no one works, the figure in Britain is a humiliating 13 per cent.

Are British people really more likely to be disabled than their competitors? Is there, perhaps, something in the water that renders us more incapable?

Of course not. The truth is, Whitehall uses incapacity benefit to massage unemployment figures, effectively pretending that people are unable to work rather than simply out of work.

The people who really lose from this, incidentally, are those who are genuinely disabled. They deserve boundless public sympathy; instead, thanks to the abuse of the system, they are too often treated with scepticism.

But behind all this lies a deeper issue. Beveridge designed the welfare state for a tightly knit, deeply patriotic and overwhelmingly working-class society, dominated by the nuclear family.

Britain in the Forties was an old-fashioned, conservative and collectivist world, in which divorce was exceptional and single parenthood so rare as to be practically unknown.

Though millions of people had grown up in intense poverty, they were steeped in a culture of working-class respectability and driven by an almost Victorian work ethic. In the world of the narrow terrace back streets, deliberate idleness would have been virtually unthinkable.

Seventy years on, we live in a very different Britain. Collective class identities have largely broken down; in an age of selfishness, the bonds of the family have become badly frayed.

Even relatively poor families enjoy creature comforts, such as central heating and digital televisions, that their forebears could barely have imagined. Yet this has bred a sense of entitlement and eroded the sense of civic duty which once guided so many people. And as our culture of debt suggests, many of us demand the good life without being prepared to work for it.

Take, for example, Iona Heaton, a mother of nine from Blackburn, whose story was revealed in the Mail last week. Mrs Heaton might be a poster-girl for everything that is wrong with the current welfare system. Every year she receives almost £30,000 in benefits. By comparison, the average salary in Britain last year was just £26,000.

Her council house has a flat-screen TV, a computer, a Nintendo Wii, a digital camera and iPhone, and she takes her family to Pontins for two weeks every year. Yet she feels hard done by: the council, she says, should give her a bigger home.

It is a safe bet that Sir William Beveridge was not thinking of people like Mrs Heaton when he wrote his report. But then Beveridge was not quite the handout-happy do-gooder modern Left-wingers often imagine.

A man of personal austerity, who rose every morning at dawn, took an ice-cold bath and worked for two hours before breakfast, he hated the thought people might ‘settle down’ to a life on benefits.

‘The State in organising security should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility,’ he wrote. ‘In establishing a national minimum [income], it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family.’

Tellingly, Beveridge was also an early supporter of ‘workfare’ — the system the Coalition Government is trying to promote, under which the unemployed, while keeping their jobseeker’s allowance, work for nothing for a few weeks to gain experience — arguing that to prevent ‘habituation to idleness’, men and women should be ‘required as a condition of benefit to attend a work or training centre’.

At a time when the Government is desperately trying to cut our public debt, and when we are facing decades of spiralling health and pension costs, getting back to Beveridge’s original spirit might seem like common sense.

Yet when governments try to reform the welfare state, they provoke hysterical shrieks of protest.

Absurdly, Margaret Thatcher is still derided as the ‘Milk Snatcher’ because of her decision to withdraw free school milk, a relic of the battle against malnutrition that looked simply ridiculous in the context of the Seventies.

George Osborne’s plans to cut child benefit for high earners provoked similar howls of fury, while the Left seethes with rage at the thought of capping welfare payments at £26,000 — even though millions of people in full-time employment take home considerably less than this.

Even the current crisis of the Government’s workfare scheme — under fire from Left-wing groups who, wrongly, argue it is unfair to the jobless — reflects the same spirit of entrenched refusal to change.

To my mind, though, it is frankly bizarre that we have entered the 2010s with a welfare system designed to solve the problems of the Forties, handing out child benefit to millionaires and allowing some people to make more on benefits than their neighbours do by sheer hard work.

With foreign competitors eating into our markets, the harsh truth is that 21st-century Britain will need to work harder than ever to earn its living. Even meeting our health and pensions bills for the next 50 years will be daunting.

Paying current welfare costs on top of that would stretch our finances beyond breaking point.

Yet this is not just a matter for government. What we need is not just a leaner and more efficient system, more carefully targeted at those who really need assistance, but a new spirit of collective social duty, from the nation’s boardrooms to its living rooms.

Going on as we are, as the Prospect poll shows, is no answer. For if public dissatisfaction with the welfare system continues to mount, then the real losers will be the people who really do need a hand: the genuinely sick, the abandoned, the weak and the unlucky.

Those were the people William Beveridge sought to help. Tragically, 70 years on, they may well be the ones who end up paying the price if Britain refuses to change.


British University targets ‘discriminate against private schools’

Almost half of elite universities are setting targets to boost the recruitment of state school students, it has emerged, prompting fears privately-educated pupils face being penalised.

An analysis of official documents shows 15 out of 32 leading research institutions in England want to increase the proportion of places handed over to state pupils over the next five years. This includes Cambridge, Durham, Exeter, University College London and Warwick. Some universities such as UCL are seeking a 10 per cent rise in admissions from the state sector.

It also emerged that a number of institutions are barring students educated in independent schools from applying for lucrative scholarship programmes worth thousands of pounds.

The disclosure is made in a series of agreements drawn up between individual universities and the Government’s Office for Fair Access, which was set up by Labour to ensure the poor are not put off by higher tuition fees. It is likely to prompt fresh concerns over attempts to “socially engineer” university admissions.

The move follows claims from Prof Les Ebdon, the incoming head of OFFA, that universities failing to hit their targets could face “nuclear” penalties, including huge fines.

Last night, independent school leaders warned against “generic discrimination”, insisting they would fight any attempt to downgrade student applications “just because of the kind of school they come from”.

In recent years, the number of privately-educated pupils admitted to top universities has grown, with early indications that admissions will rise again in 2012. But Tim Hands, master of Magdalen College School, Oxford, said universities should resist attempts to “politically manipulate” results.

“It’s no secret that top universities resent interference with their admissions,” he said. “They don’t see why tertiary education should be forced to compensate for problems which government incompetence over secondary education has created in the first place.”

From this September, universities in England are able to charge up to £9,000 in annual tuition fees – almost three times the current total. Any institution attempting to charge more than £6,000-a-year must draw up an “access agreement” – signed off by OFFA – outlining targets and initiatives designed to ensure students from disadvantaged groups are not deterred by fee hikes.

In many cases, academics are targeting pupils from deprived families, those living in postcodes with a poor history of going on to university and schoolchildren previously involved in summer schools and other outreach programmes.

But an analysis of documents shows that many selective universities are also setting targets specifically relating to state schools. In all, 15 out of 32 mainstream English universities belonging to the Russell Group and 1994 Group – the two main organisations representing research institutions – want to increase state school admissions by 2016.

UCL, which currently has two-thirds of places going to state students, is targeting a 10 per cent rise, while Warwick is proposing an 8.5 per cent rise. Cambridge wants to increase the proportion from 59 to 62 per cent, while Durham is proposing a similar hike.

Other universities targeting state pupils include Exeter, King’s College London, the London School of Economics, Bath, Sussex and Queen Mary, University of London.

Private schools claim the move amounts to discrimination because it fails to account for the large number of independent pupils from poor homes who receive bursaries and those whose parents go the extra mile to cover fees. It also wrongly implies that all students from state schools – including those from sought-after comprehensives and academically selective grammar schools – are disadvantaged, it is claimed.

Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, attacked the enforced use of targets, saying more emphasis should be placed on raising achievement of state schools instead of tailoring admissions. But she added: “We know that even with good grades state school students are much less likely to apply to top universities than those at independent schools. “We cannot offer places to those who do not apply.

“By encouraging more qualified students from state schools to apply to us through outreach and access schemes, our universities will have a wider pool of applicants from which to select the brightest and the best.”

Prof Michael Farthing, Sussex University vice-chancellor and chairman of the 1994 Group, said: “Every institution faces a unique set of fair access and widening participation challenges and must be trusted to respond in the most appropriate way.”

A UCL spokesman said admission was “only ever based on academic merit”, adding: “All successful applicants are required to satisfy our programmes’ rigorous entrance requirements. Our access agreement does not contradict that fundamental principle.”

Cambridge said it set its target because a “representative balance between the [state] maintained and private sectors would be achieved if between 61 and 63 per cent of UK entrants come from the maintained sector”.


Major British universities reveal explosion in student cheating over the last three years

The number of students caught cheating at top universities has surged over the past three years, figures reveal. Thousands were found guilty of plagiarising, taking notes into exams or buying essays on the internet.

Nearly 1,700 students at 20 leading institutions were disciplined for academic misconduct in the year 2010-11 alone, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. Around 100 were expelled.

Offences on the rise include cutting and pasting essays from the internet, bringing mobile phones into exams, impersonating other candidates and copying from classmates.

At Oxford University, one student was fined £100 for taking revision notes into an exam, while last year Cambridge stripped a graduate of his history PhD for ‘multiple instances of plagiarism’.

Cambridge also revealed instances of cheating recorded during this academic year, including the case of a land economy student who had their degree reduced from a 2.1 to a 2.2 after being found with a textbook in the exam hall.

And last October a medicine student was found guilty of plagiarism after using material from a sample exercise published as a learning resource.

The Freedom of Information request was sent to the country’s top 30 universities, as ranked by the independent Complete University Guide 2012. Of those, 20 supplied figures.

The University of Lancaster had the worst record with 194 incidents of cheating during the last academic year – up from 175 in 2009-10. It was followed by the University of East Anglia, which recorded 187 incidents of academic misconduct compared with 175 the year before.

Bath reported 182 incidents, a sharp rise from 66 in 2009-10.
Newcastle, where Princess Eugenie is studying history of art, English and politics, had 166 incidents – marginally down from 169 the year before.

‘Academic misconduct’ covers a range of offences including plagiarism, submitting work bought from essay banks, handing in the same piece of work for separate assignments and impersonating another student.

Sanctions range from docked marks to expulsion. In the last academic year alone, 100 students were expelled from the 20 universities for serious academic misconduct. King’s College London has expelled the most – 44 over the past three years.

In the last academic year, 1,665 students were found guilty of academic misconduct, a slight fall from 2009-10 when the figure stood at 1,849 students from 21 universities. The year before, 1,597 students were disciplined for the offence, making a total of 5,111 over the past three years.

The surge in cheating has been attributed in part to the cut-throat job market, which is piling pressure on graduates to do well.

There has also been an explosion in the number of websites that sell coursework – and universities are becoming more adept at spotting such plagiarism, thanks to specialist software.

The figures will fuel concerns over slipping academic standards, at a time when universities are also facing criticism for dumbing down degrees. A report last month found that English universities are ‘not keeping pace’ with international standards. For example, some have dropped maths from certain degree courses because students and their lecturers cannot cope with it.



About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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