Surgery bans elderly patient over her “carbon footprint”
An elderly woman was ordered to find a new GP because the “carbon footprint” of her two-mile round trips to the surgery where she had been treated for 30 years was too large.
Avril Mulcahy, 83, was told to address the “green travelling issues” over her journeys from her home in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, to the West Road Surgery. The surgery wrote to Mrs Mulcahy, telling her to register with a new GP within 28 days.
The letter said: “Our greatest concern is for your health and convenience but also taking into consideration green travelling issues. Re: Carbon footprints and winter weather conditions, we feel it would be advisable for patients to register at surgeries nearer to where they live.
“We would be very grateful if you could make the necessary arrangements to re-register at another practice.”
Mrs Mulcahy, a grandmother, believes the decision was made because she complained about a doctor. “When I read through the letter, I found it absolutely ridiculous they were saying the reason was to decrease their carbon footprint,” she said. “I have been a patient at the practice for 30 years now, and there has never been any problem.
“To be treated like this, just because I live too far away or for what I feel is a reaction to my complaint, is disgraceful. It feels like they are just coming up with an excuse to get rid of me.”
Mrs Mulcahy said she was anxious and worried at having to try to find a new GP. “If they really cared, they could have found me a new practice instead of just basically saying do it yourself,” she said.
“It is a great worry to me as I am elderly and need to get repeat prescriptions for medication. This is really a stress I could do without. I won’t let it rest though, because I feel like I am being treated poorly.”
The West Road Surgery declined to comment. Andrew Stride, the head of governance, risk and customer services for NHS South Essex, said: “We would advise all patients who have concerns about any aspect of local NHS care to contact the patient advice and liaison service.
“While we are unable to comment on individual cases, we would like to assure patients there is a procedure GP practices need to follow before they can remove patients from their lists.”
More on the Samantha Brick furore
The furore seems to be ramping up rather than dying down so I thought I might put up an email from a lady who read my comments yesterday
I have just read your response to the widespread ridicule and damnation of journalist Samantha Brick.
Bless you; I could not agree more wholeheartedly. My husband and I were dismayed at the vitriolic response.
Mrs Brick described herself as attractive; her confident assertion was clearly a taboo.
Many people would indeed be drawn strongly to those classic style indicators of attractiveness: tallness, slimness and blondeness. Add a high heel and a pretty skirt and hey! Presto. Plenty of colour and movement abounds, attracting ample male attention.
As a tallish, slimmish, blonde woman who often dons heels and red lipstick, I understand and agree with Mrs Brick’s points. I have had many similar experiences (to those she described).
I submit Mrs Brick’s crime was to break the unspoken pledge of sisterhood by referring to herself positively. We women bond by exposing our own flaws, together… we compare and contrast. And nothing creates a sense of solidarity as rapidly as joining forces to rip a pretty woman to shreds. Observe, if you will, a table of women being served by a gorgeous young waitress. The more wine that is consumed, the ruder and more hostile they become to her.
Should some men be present at the table, the waitress will likely be left a generous tip, motivated in part by a sense of apology. I have watched a number of times, though, as the men leave the table first in order to arrange taxis and so forth. And I have seen the last lady at the table look around furtively, scoop up the notes and shove them in her purse before skittering away.
There are a trillion examples. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for defending Mrs Brick.
British PM calls for a ‘Christian fightback’ over attempts to ban wearing crosses and town hall prayers
David Cameron has issued a rallying call for a ‘Christian fightback’ against attempts to ban the wearing of crosses and town hall prayers.
The Prime Minister – who joked that he had felt like he ‘needed someone to pray for me’ during the recent rocky period for the Government – used a pre-Easter meeting with church leaders to say Britain needed the values of the Bible more than ever.
He issued a public plea for them not to ‘fall out’ with the Government over plans to allow gay marriage.
Mr Cameron quoted from the Gospel of St Luke to suggest Christian values could create a happier and better society for everyone. He also signalled that he wants a big expansion of faith-based education, saying he would ‘celebrate links between churches and schools, indeed mosques and schools and synagogues and schools’.
His celebration of the religious and moral code of the Bible is notable, as leading politicians have shied away from using religious rhetoric and arguments in recent decades.
Tony Blair, for example, was talked out of doing so by spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who told him: ‘We don’t do God.’
Mr Cameron’s decision to ‘do God’ so overtly will be seen in part as an attempt to reach out to the Christian Right in his party after the most difficult period of his leadership, including a badly received Budget and the petrol crisis.
His intervention is also an attempt to defuse a row with church leaders over plans to allow gay marriage in civil ceremonies. He told church representatives gathered at Number Ten: ‘I hope we won’t fall out too much over gay marriage. There’ll be some strong arguments and some strong words.’
Mr Cameron sought to reassure his audience that the proposals would ‘change what happens in a register office, not what happens in a church’.
Addressing recent attempts to ban crucifixes and public prayer, Mr Cameron said, pumping his fist in the air: ‘I think there’s something of a fightback going on, and we should welcome that.
‘The values of the Bible – the values of Christianity – are the values that we need.’
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has warned that Christians face gradual marginalisation, after Bideford council in Devon was banned by a court from opening its meetings with prayers. Mr Cameron cited the case yesterday, pointing out that the Government had responded by amending the law.
He is also insisting the law will be changed if necessary to allow Christians to wear crosses at work.
In a case due to be heard by the European Court of Human Rights, BA check-in clerk Nadia Eweida and nurse Shirley Chaplin claim they were discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing crosses.
The claims of both women that they have a right to wear a cross – under European human rights rules – have been rejected by British courts. But a source said: ‘The Prime Minister has made it clear that his view is that people should be able to wear crosses.
‘The Government is obliged to pass on the judgment of the UK courts, but that does not mean we agree with it and if the ECHR does uphold the ban we will consider what further action we must take. ‘We could potentially change the law, though our view is that the existing Equality Act gives people the right already.’
Mr Cameron and his family are regular churchgoers, although they do not worship every Sunday. They send their older children to a Church of England school in London that requires parents to be active in the church community.
Retired British man is thrown off his beloved gardening plot by council in case he hurts his hip and sues
Health and safety has become a pretext for a huge torrent of bureaucratic oppression of people in Britain
Carefully tending his runner beans was one of the greatest pleasures of his twilight years. But now the local council has banned pensioner Arthur Martin from his beloved allotment – in case he breaks his hip and sues.
Councillors say allowing the 73-year-old to look after his vegetable plot would pose too great a health and safety risk. They have given the grandfather of nine just three weeks to give up his allotment.
Last night Mr Martin, who has been tending the plot for six years, said: ‘The allotment is one of my great pleasures in life. I can manage the gardening just fine.’
The former miner received a ‘bullying’ letter from Eastwood Town Council, in Nottinghamshire, earlier this month ordering him off the plot. The extraordinary note stated the council were ‘aware’ he had hip problems and demanded a medical assessment to prove he was fit enough to garden.
‘It’s ludicrous,’ said Mr Martin. ‘I’ve not been given any information on the health and safety rules that I have supposedly broken.’ Mr Martin uses his plot to grow potatoes, runner beans, peas, onions, cucumbers and strawberries with his wife Jean, 72.
‘The allotment gives me a great deal of pleasure,’ he said. ‘After I retired, it gave me something to do with my hands and my mind.’
Mr Martin, chairman of the local allotment society, had a hip replacement in 2007, which was replaced again 18 months ago. He added: ‘I struggle a little at the end of the season when you have to turn all the soil over, so I asked a friend to help me. ‘But apparently that is a problem – it’s just pure petty-mindedness.’
On Monday night, the leader of Eastwood town council David Bagshaw said he had told Mr Martin to get off his plot. He added. ‘I don’t want this guy’s hip to pop out again due to neglect from this council.’ Mr Bagshaw was unavailable for further comment last night.
Ban on the cane in British schools ‘left schools unable to impose discipline and led to deterioration in children’s behaviour’
The scrapping of the cane has led to a deterioration in children’s behaviour at school, according to teachers.
Sanctions available to schools since corporal punishment was abolished 25 years ago are ‘totally inadequate’ at reasserting authority in the classroom and lack the same deterrent effect, they said yesterday.
While rejecting a return to the cane, members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers condemned existing sanctions such as detention and suspension.
‘Novel’ punishments are needed to allow teachers to reassert their authority in the classroom, they said.
Delegates at the association’s annual conference voted unanimously for research into ‘effective’ disciplinary methods.
‘When corporal punishment was abolished nothing was put in its place that had equivalent deterrent powers,’ said Julian Perfect, a teacher from London.
Laws forbidding state schools from using the cane or slipper to discipline pupils were introduced in 1987, and a decade later in independent schools.
But Mr Perfect pointed out that subsequent governments had failed to give teachers sufficient sanctions.
He added that while teachers have statutory authority to discipline pupils whose behaviour is unacceptable, governments have failed to suggest methods for making authority ‘meaningful’.
Suspensions and expulsions were now handed out all too rarely amid pressure on schools to reduce the number of pupils who are excluded from school, the conference also heard.
Research by the teachers’ association suggested pupil behaviour had declined further in recent years.
Responding to one of its surveys, a teacher said: ‘The children know that our hands are tied and play up frequently. ‘In the past two years, we have only successfully permanently excluded one pupil. It is the good students whose education is being wrecked that I feel for.’
Another said: ‘Persistent low-level rudeness and disruption seems to have become a fact of life in education today and no longer raises eyebrows or seems to merit special attention.’
A third reported: ‘I had a female student threaten to kick the smile off my face, in front of a whole class.’
The association’s general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: ‘Sanctions do have to be something students don’t want to have to endure. ‘We’re not saying at all that children should fear teachers but they should respect them. ‘If they go beyond the bounds of respecting a teacher there should be sanctions. ‘And those sanctions should be something children would rather not face.’
Proposing a motion aimed at tackling poor behaviour in the classroom, Mr Perfect said: ‘This does not seek the reinstatement of corporal punishment but rather the identification of additional forms of sanction.’
Jean Roberts, who teaches at Old Oak Primary, London told the conference: ‘We need more research into behaviour management particularly sanctions that work, are equitable and can be used widely in schools supported by governments and parents. ‘We have to ensure more of our classes are not disrupted but are places of real learning for all.’
Is this the end of the cheap burger? EU diktat on low-quality meat means prices are set to soar
If there are no health concerns, I think the EU should butt out of this issue
The price of burgers, sausages and pies is to rocket because of an EU ban on low-quality meat.
From the end of this month, there will be a ban on bulking up fast food and supermarket value ranges with reconstituted mince made from scraps of beef and lamb.
The move will hit the shopping budget of already hard-pressed families and lead to more meat being wasted in abattoirs.
The Food Standards Agency, which risked a ban on the export of British meat products if it did not impose the Brussels-driven ruling, stressed that the change is not being made because of health or safety issues.
Instead, it is the result of a disagreement over the definition of the so-called ‘desinewed meat’.
But the meat-processing industry accused the FSA of ‘bowing down’ to the European Commission and warned of price rises and job losses.
Stephen Rossides, director of the British Meat Processors Association, said: ‘This is a criminal waste of a valuable food product at a time when we are being urged to reduce food wastage. Common sense has gone out of the window.
‘If economic principles apply, the cost of the burger will rise and it is going to be the less well-off who are affected at what is already a bad time.’
The row surrounds desinewed meat, or DSM. This is meat that is left on bones and carcasses after slaughter. Rather than going to waste, it is grated off mechanically, creating a mince-like substance.
Jamie Oliver’s high-profile campaign for junk food to be banned from school canteens means DSM features less in school dinners than in the past. But it is widely found in inexpensive meat products on sale in fast food restaurants and in supermarkets, where it is used to bulk up the meat content at low cost. The FSA sees DSM as being a different product to a second type of reconstituted meat, called mechanically separated meat, or MSM.
The higher pressures used in the MSM process means that while it is considered acceptable for chicken and pork, it is not deemed usable for beef and lamb, for fear of spreading diseases such as BSE.
However, the European Commission says DSM and MSM are one and the same. Under this interpretation of the law, it will no longer be possible to put beef or lamb through even the gentler DSM processing.
Existing products will not be recalled but any foods that contain reconstituted beef or lamb will have to be reformulated.
The cheap desinewed meat in burgers will have to be replaced with more expensive cuts.
Chicken and pork carcasses can still undergo DSM processing but any foods they are put into will have to be clearly labelled.
Currently, DSM’s classification as meat means it counts towards the total meat content of a product and does not need to be listed separately on the label.
There are fears that the changes will push up the cost of some meat products so much that shoppers stop buying them, leading to job losses in Britain’s £6billion meat industry.
The British Meat Processors Association estimates that the total cost to the consumer and industry of the moratorium could reach £200million.
Describing the ban as ‘madness’, Mr Rossides said: ‘All this has happened at breakneck speed. The industry must be given time to adjust to any change in requirements and market circumstances in a controlled and properly managed way, in order to minimise market disruption and financial damage.
‘People are going to have to reformulate products, repackage and relabel. I don’t know that you won’t see an English sausage any more but it may be that it’s more expensive.’
The FSA said that if the dispute over classification can be resolved, the ban could be lifted. Its chief executive, Tim Smith, said the move had come ‘unexpectedly’.
The Food and Drink Federation said it supports ‘a pragmatic approach to the required changes, including a reasonable timeframe for the transition, to avoid disproportionate measures that could lead to meat being wasted, causing a significant impact on the environment and on the price and availability of meat raw material’.
A spokesman for the consumer watchdog Which? said that its research showed that shoppers want to know if they are eating desinewed meat and that clear labelling of food allows customers to make an informed choice.