Arthritis sufferers have to wait THREE YEARS to be diagnosed condemning them to ‘unbearable pain’
More than a quarter of arthritis sufferers have to visit their GP at least three times to get a diagnosis, a report reveals. Patients with osteoarthritis, the most common form, wait an average of nearly three years to be diagnosed and referred for treatment.
The number of Britons suffering from the crippling condition is expected to double over the next 20 years due to the ageing population and higher levels of obesity. There are an estimated 8.5million people with osteoarthritis but by 2030 this will have reached 17million, according to the report by Arthritis Care. The charity is concerned that many patients are enduring ‘unbearable’ pain, seeing it as an inevitable part of old age but wrongly believing nothing can be done about it.
A survey of 2,000 patients carried out on behalf of the charity found that nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) are in constant pain. For one in eight, the symptoms severely restrict their daily lives, preventing them from walking or going upstairs.
On average the patients waited 2.8 years from noticing symptoms to being given a diagnosis by their family doctor.
Judith Brodie, chief executive of the charity, blamed the delay on patients’ reluctance to seek help and a lack of awareness among GPs. She said: ‘Many people, particularly the elderly, are very stoical about pain. They may well think nothing can be done.
‘There’s an issue of awareness among GPs and in primary care about osteoarthritis. It could be a lot better. ‘But our message is that there is something you can do. A lot of people are really denying themselves a good old age.’ The poll also found that patients spent an average of £500 a year of their own money on treatment and travel costs. A third said the condition had forced them to retire early or substantially reduce the numbers of hours they worked.
Osteoarthritis, which normally develops after the age of 50, causes damage to the cartilage, the smooth tissue covering joint surfaces, which leads to pain in the hips, knees, hands and feet. It is more common among the overweight.
There is no cure but the pain can be substantially reduced through exercise, weight loss and some complementary therapies such as acupuncture. Many patients take regular painkillers such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Experts warn that the surge in the numbers of patients will place huge strain on the health service. Already the condition is estimated to cost the economy £3.2billion in lost working time. About 140,000 hip and knee replacements a year are performed on the NHS because of osteoarthritis at a cost of at least £700million.
Philip Conaghan, professor of musculoskeletal medicine at the University of Leeds, said: ‘Britain is facing a tsunami of pain due to osteoarthritis as the number of people over 50 increases dramatically and obesity levels continue to rise. ‘Action is needed immediately. We have to bust this myth that painful joints are an inevitable part of getting older that we have to put up with.’
More evidence of crookedness at CRU
Steve McIntyre has just got Britain’s freedom of Information authorities to force CRU to release some more of their tree-ring data. Steve wtites in a very technical way so to save trouble for people who are not immersed in the subject, I am going to offer a quick layman’s summary of what the new data showed.
Brainless British immigration control
As passengers are kept hours waiting for passport checks, border staff ‘are being sent home if their shoes aren’t shiny’
They are already under pressure dealing with disgruntled passengers who have queued for hours at immigration, but now Border Force officers will face daily checks on their uniform, hair and fingernails before starting work.
Internal emails to staff state that those who fail the appearance checklist can be sent home or moved off the public-facing immigration desks.
The news has exasperated, already-stressed border control staff and one of them penned an anonymous poem, posted on a Heathrow staff noticeboard, with a line saying ‘The people won’t mind three hour queues, if they can see our shiny shoes.’
The new rules, revealed by The Daily Telegraph, will not be well received from disgruntled passengers either – last week it was revealed that passengers were storming past border guards at Britain’s airports in frustration at lengthy queues at passport control.
The fiasco has become increasingly embarrassing in the run-up to the Olympics, prompting fears that Britain will become a laughing stock as half-a-million spectators arrive here from around the world.
Passengers not only face lengthy delays getting into the country at Heathrow but also other ports including Stansted and Coquelles, the Eurotunnel terminal in northern France.
In March, one instruction stated high uniform standards also applied to personal appearance. ‘In particular, hair should be clean, neat and tidy. Extreme hairstyles and conspicuously unnatural colours are unacceptable. ‘In addition, all members of staff with long hair should ensure their hair is tied up (i.e. off the collar and in a bun or similar style so it cannot be easily grabbed) when they are on duty,’ reported The Daily Telegraph.
Lucy Moreton, deputy general secretary of the Immigration Service Union, was shocked by the implications the new rules held. ‘This is just the latest in a series of incidents akin to re-arranging the deckchairs on the titanic. It simply does not matter whether staff have clean hair.
‘What does matter is getting what staff we have onto the front line in a timely manner and making best use of them whilst they are there. If their shoes are not shiny I really don’t think anyone will mind. A loss of 10 or 15 minutes may not seem much; but 12 officers in 15 minutes could clear over 100 passengers between them,’ she added.
Although a uniform policy was already set by the previous government – managers at ports of entry across the country were not required to perform regimented checks and there was a more relaxed approach.
But when Brian Moore, joined in March as interim head of the Border Force, staff noticed the rules became more strict. Mr Moore, the former chief constable of Wiltshire, has already commissioned a new Border Force £2.5million universal uniform which will be worn by all levels of staff – the previous uniform was only introduced three years ago.
A Home Office spokesman defended the policy. He told the newspaper: ‘Turning up to work smart does not take resource away from border control.’
Meanwhile there were fresh concerns today over safety at Heathrow airport after it was revealed that staff had stopped screening passengers for drugs and guns because they were so under-staffed.
A senior customs official anonymously told The Observer newspaper that Heathrow now has ‘no border control’ as a result of staff shortages at Britain’s busiest airport. The official said: ‘We have actually ceased doing (anti-smuggling operations) at the moment, even though they won’t say they have. Word has already got around to criminal enterprises.’
The source described an incident last week involving two Pakistani students accredited to work on the Olympic site. He felt they posed a risk – but they were cleared without being searched. He blamed the downgrade in security on cutbacks and political pressure to reduce waiting times for passengers arriving at the airport.
A Home Office spokesman insisted the government was ‘committed to maintaining border security,’ adding that ‘our staff… continue to target drugs and illegal weapons’.
Rochdale grooming trial: Police accused of failing to investigate paedophile gang for fear of appearing racist
Police and social workers were last night accused of failing to investigate an Asian [Pakistani] paedophile gang for fear of being perceived as racist, allowing them to prey on up to 50 young white girls.
The nine men from Rochdale were yesterday convicted of abusing five vulnerable teenagers after plying them with alcohol, food and small sums of money in return for sex. However, the true number of victims, who were “passed around” by the gang, is likely to be nearer to 50, police have admitted.
Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have now apologised after they failed to bring the case of the first victim – Girl A – to trial following her cry for help in August 2008.
One 13 year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted while another was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
Complaints to social workers and the police were ignored because they were “petrified of being called racist”, former Labour MP for Keighley Ann Cryer said. Mrs Cryer, who has campaigned to bring the issue of Asian sex gangs to light, said the girls had been “betrayed” and condemned to “untold misery” by the police and social services.
“This is an absolute scandal. They were petrified of being called racist and so reverted to the default of political correctness,” she said. “They had a greater fear of being perceived in that light than in dealing with the issues in front of them.”
Girl A told police that she had been raped and provided DNA evidence from her attacker, however the CPS twice decided not to prosecute him.
The 15 year-old’s abuse continued and at its height she was being driven to flats and houses to be raped by up to five men a night, four or five days a week. She was singled out because she was white, vulnerable and under-age.
Her ordeal only ended when her teachers forced social workers to intervene after she fell pregnant and they became concerned by the number of Asian men picking her up from school.
Girl A said that in a six-hour interview she gave police details about her abusers and where the attacks took place. Crucially, too, she handed officers underwear that proved she had been raped by two men in a single attack.
“I hoped they were going to do something and it would stop,” she said. “But it just carried on. It just started again with different men and more men this time, and that’s when it started becoming up to five men a day”.
Kabeer Hassan, Abdul Aziz, Abdul Rauf, Mohammed Sajid, Adil Khan, Abdul Qayyum, Mohammed Amin, Hamid Safi and a 59-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons were yesterday found guilty of running a child exploitation ring at Liverpool Crown Court.
Greater Manchester Police is now being investigated by the IPCC over the failings of its first investigation in 2008.
When GMP did finally pass a file on Girls A’s rape to the CPS the following year, a Crown lawyer decided not to charge anyone because he said she would not be a sufficiently credible witness to put before a jury. A second CPS lawyer backed that opinion.
It was only after social workers notice an upsurge in cases of child grooming that police reinvestigated and made a series of arrests which led to yesterday’s convictions.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood acknowledged that officers could have dealt with the case “better than we did”. But he denied that the girl’s complaints had been “brushed under the carpet” because officers were reluctant to confront the issue of race. “At the time we did what we thought was best,” he said. “We have learned a lot of lessons. “The issue here is genuinely about vulnerability. It just happens that they are Asian men. In no way did we sweep it under the carpet.”
Steve Garner, head of children’s services at Rochdale Council, denied the teenager had been let down by his department. “No,” he said. “I think it’s really important to remember that what we know now and what we knew in 2008 is very, very different and what we have done is put the lessons in place”.
Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk said: “What’s become clear is that if police had acted seriously on these concerns in 2008 many of the victims of this appalling case would not have had to go through such horrific trauma. “It is simply unacceptable that these young women were let down in this way by people they should have been able to trust.”
British Labour party leader has some balls after all
NHS ‘skivers’ should be fired, says Ed Miliband
Hospital workers who “skive” off by taking sick leave when they are not really ill should be sacked, Ed Miliband has said. The Labour leader warned that money in the NHS was too “tight” to waste and called for a crackdown on people who fake sickness to gain more time off.
He also criticised unemployed young people who prefer to sit at home and take state benefits rather than go to work. Mr Miliband stressed benefit claimants must show “responsibility”, as he sought to portray Labour as the party for “aspirational” voters.
He made his remarks during a visit to Harlow, Essex, where his party gained control in last week’s council elections, and which is a key target seat for Labour at the next general election.
Taking questions from members of the public, Mr Miliband was told that some staff at local hospitals were abusing the system by claiming they were ill on Mondays and Fridays or after returning from holiday.
The Labour leader replied: “We should be totally intolerant of people who are skiving off”. He added: “I want a health service where if people aren’t doing their jobs properly, they aren’t doing their jobs any more. We should find a way to crack down on this and stop it happening.
“If people aren’t really sick then something should be done about it because the resources can’t be spared in the health service, certainly not spared on people who could be in work and aren’t.”
He was also told of the frustrations of local college graduates in their 20s who work hard but cannot afford to get onto the property ladder, while some of their contemporaries are content to live off benefits. Mr Miliband said: “I said we would create jobs for young people but they have to take the jobs. It’s a really important principle. They have to take responsibility.”
The Labour leader was visiting Essex to stress the importance of helping voters meet their “aspirations” for a good quality of life.
He acknowledged that the last Labour government had made too many interventions in running the NHS and had not done enough to create more affordable homes.
But, in an echo of President Obama’s 2008 election slogan, he promised Labour would deliver “change you can believe in”, by making modest plans and not “grandiose” election pledges which are broken later.
He warned that the low turnout at last week’s local elections, in which 71% of voters in Harlow stayed at home, indicated a “crisis of politics” in Britain. “I know we have a lot more to do to rebuild that trust,” he said. “I want to reach out and understand why you don’t trust any politicians, why you don’t believe any of us can answer the questions that you are facing in your life.”
Who dares put Britain’s regiments to the sword?
The scrapping of historic regimental names as part of defence cuts is a senseless body blow to the Army
At the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, Sir Andrew Agnew of the Royal Scots Fusiliers developed a new tactic based on the courage of his men. Instead of standing to face a cavalry charge, as was the norm, they would create a gap to allow the enemy in. They would then close again to destroy the surrounded foe.
When the test came, it was the elite French Maison du Roi they faced. Later in the day, King George II, who commanded the Army, rode up and said: “So, Sir Andrew, I hear the cuirassiers rode through your regiment today.” “Oh aye, yer Majestee,” was the reply, “but they dinna get oot again.” Such courage could only be expected from men who knew and trusted each other.
The news that historic regimental names are to disappear thanks to the Government’s controversial defence cuts, along with at least one infantry battalion, ends a process that began under Labour to move towards a more European army system. Today, Sir Andrew’s regiment has been swallowed by one of the new “super regiments”, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, whose battalions retain a name recalling the old system, such as 3rd Battalion “The Black Watch”. The officers and men cycle through on a career and convenience basis; highlanders with lowlanders, Glaswegians mixed with Edinburgh men, but at least the name is there to stir memories of glory. Now that is also to end.
To many in politics, and particularly on the Left, the county regiment system smacked of privilege, largely because the method by which we, on these islands, have raised fighting forces for a thousand years was outside state control. There was a unique mix of the sons of the gentry – and the Royal family – subsumed into an organisation with the sons of the middle classes, working classes and the poorest immigrants, all bound together by a badge for which they would die. But their success, often in the face of overwhelming odds, was down to banding together like Sir Andrew’s men in a manner no conscript could ever be taught.
In my own regiment, the Royal Irish, this feeling of clan identity is important: men would rather die than be thought of as shirkers. When one of my soldiers expressed doubt about crossing the border into Iraq in March 2003, I agreed it might be better for him to remain behind. I had already said that I wanted no man by my side who did not want to be there. With Sir Colin Campbell’s threat at Sevastopol to “post the name of any man that ran on the door of his kirk” in mind, I warned the men that it would be on their mothers queuing at the Co-op that the real shame would fall. It was the soldier’s brother and his friends in the battalion who insisted that he go, to protect the regiment and the family’s honour; one and the same. And so he went.
There is another benefit of the old system that is as important as fighting well in the face of the enemy. When my grandfather returned from the horrors of the First World War, there were no combat stress charities to help ease the scars of what he had seen. Therapy was delivered by the regiment: neighbours and family, folk who had been there. Right up to the modern day, this benefit has been of huge value to those lucky enough to be in one of these regiments. Even today, the wives of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who live in Canterbury (and some wits describe it as being 320 miles behind enemy lines) rely on other Army wives when they arrive to settle in. An effective, volunteer – and free – welfare service that works. It’s a rare thing.
My own belief is that poor regional recruiting has been exacerbated by Labour’s reforms. The evidence is there. The Royal Irish retain their identity (and are even oversubscribed) as boys follow friends and neighbours. Meanwhile, the new regiments struggle to recruit. As the informal welfare system both in the barracks and back in the home towns is eroded, wives urge husbands to leave the Army and return home. Charities such as Combat Stress are overwhelmed by ex-soldiers in grim circumstances and where jobs are few.
Admittedly, there is pressure on the Government and the military command to reduce costs. Sir Peter Wall, who is recognised as probably the best chief of the general staff of recent years, must play the hand he has been given. His duty is to deliver military effect within a tight budget, and at least there is no political agenda at play any more – at least in uniform. But with the coffers empty, the options are stark. We could carry on down this path, but there has to be recognition that we have become too European. An answer might be a US-style GI bill to protect servicemen and offer incentives for service, such as education and preferential health care. The alternative is to retain the regimental system but have fewer regiments. The question then is, “Who will jump and who needs pushing?” One thing is for sure, the traditional regiment has had its day.
British luvvies’ anti-Israel stance achieves nothing
by Brendan O’Neill
A NEW ailment is spreading through the chattering classes. Symptoms include an aversion to art or literature created in Israel, an intolerance of all foodstuffs produced in Israel, and an allergy to the Israeli flag, the Israeli football team and Israeli professors. If you or any of your friends have those symptoms, get help: it is possible you’re suffering from Israel Sensitivity Disorder.
This most middle-class of maladies is widespread in respectable circles. It has flared up very badly in Britain during the past week, with some of the most prominent carriers seeking to keep an Israeli theatre company off this sceptred isle.
Habima, Israel’s national theatre company, is due to perform at the World Shakespeare Festival at London’s famous Globe Theatre. Theatre troupes from every corner of the earth will be there, including from the new nation of South Sudan (whose actors will perform Cymbeline in Juba Arabic) and from New Zealand (in the first Maori-language performance of Troilus and Cressida). Some authoritarian states are involved, too, including China and Zimbabwe.
But it is Habima’s involvement, and Habima’s involvement alone, that has riled Britain’s luvvies and liberals. In a letter to The Guardian, actress Emma Thompson and others said they were “dismayed” at the inclusion of Habima in this global festival. Apparently, by inviting Habima, the Globe is “associating itself with policies of exclusion practised by the Israeli state”.
That is, it is infecting itself with the Israeli toxin; it is failing in its duty to keep itself clean of any contact with Israel and Israeli artists, as every member of decent society apparently must now do.
This extraordinary (and thankfully failed) attempt to ban a theatre company from a global festival follows on from last year’s ugly interruption of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at the Proms, an eight-week season of classical music that takes place at the Royal Albert Hall every summer. Musicians from across the world take part. But when the influential Israel-bashers heard that an orchestra from that country was taking part, their hives started to itch.
And so these “philistines for Palestine” (as an editorial in The Australian labelled them) jeered and shouted “shame” as the orchestra started to play. Watch the video on YouTube. It’s a truly depressing spectacle, as the orchestra’s solo violinist tries to make his music heard above the din of those who think that nothing Israeli should be seen or heard in polite society.
These censorious attacks on Israel’s art fit neatly with broader campaigns to boycott its academics and produce.
Across the West, anti-Israel agitators demand that universities refuse to have any dealings with their Israeli counterparts while right-on shoppers make a virtue of the fact they never buy Israeli oranges or coffee.
There’s something very ugly in this PC loathing of everything Israeli-made. You don’t have to look far into the historical records, certainly here in Europe, to see that nothing good comes from the boycotting of shops run by “those people” or the attempted ghetto-isation of their culture and practices. Surely Britain’s anti-Israel luvvies have at least watched Roman Polanski’s The Pianist, the Holocaust-based tale of a man deprived of his true love – making music – because of what he is?
Of course the drowning out of Israeli music at the Royal Albert Hall and the attempted exclusion of an Israeli theatre company from the Globe are nothing like putting Jews into a real, walled-off ghetto. But all involve a process of ghetto-isation, a process of marginalising people on the basis of their origins.
The aversion to all things Israeli has gone way beyond a normal political boycott. The obsession with avoiding Israeli stuff has nothing in common with the positive boycotts carried out by political radicals in the past, whether it was suffragettes boycotting Britain’s 1911 census or blacks in the American south boycotting buses with segregationist seating.
Rather, the avoidance of Israel and all its ideas and wares has become a weird way of life for some people, where the aim isn’t to achieve tangible political goals but rather an inner sensation of super moral smugness.
Hating Israel is no longer a serious political stance so much as a cultural signifier. It’s one of the key ways through which the chattering classes now advertise their decency, their caring streak, their loathing of “evil” and their pity for “victims”.
And therefore, the more conspicuous they can make their loathing of Israel, the more loudly and colourfully they can declare it, the better. That is why they constantly write letters to newspapers, tell everyone that they studiously avoid Israeli shops, and wear the Yasser Arafat-inspired keffiyeh – because these are all signifiers of moral worth and thus must be made visible to all and sundry.
Hating Israel is now like wearing a red ribbon for AIDS or making a virtue of eating only organic foodstuffs.
Its consequences, however, are far more dire than donning a ribbon. For the end result of all these self-serving anti-Israel antics is that one tiny country is singled out for chattering-class opprobrium and in the process is transformed into a pariah state. These anti-Israel activists claim to be concerned that Israel is becoming an apartheid state, yet they themselves practice cultural apartheid against Israel.
Habima has come in for some flak in Israel, too, because at the Globe’s festival it is planning to perform what some consider to be Shakespeare’s anti-Semitic play, The Merchant of Venice.
Yet that play also contains a profound plea for tolerance that the anti-Israel lobby would do well to heed: “Hath not a Jew eyes? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?”
Britain’s dehumanizing bureaucracy again
Father’s fury as school fails to notify him when his son, 7, went missing… but they insist they ‘followed correct procedure’
A fuming father has told how a school failed to notify him when his seven-year-old son went missing. Keaton Wyles is said to have completed a treacherous walk home across two busy main roads after strolling out of his school’s open gates.
His father Adam Wyles, 31, claims staff took 20 minutes to contact police and failed to notify him of his son’s disappearance.
The youngster was eventually returned to Greenfields Community Primary School, Maidstone, Kent, by staff after he was spotted outside his family home.
Headteacher Dan Andrews said staff ‘followed the correct procedure’ and Keaton was ‘not wandering around on his own’.
But Adam was left furious and is calling on the school to tighten its security. He said: ‘My wife had a text from a neighbour saying ‘Is everything ok? Keaton is out front.’ ‘My wife was in town and I was at work. She had to phone the school to find out what had happened. ‘There was no phone call at all to my wife’s mobile or my contact numbers by the school.
‘The school rung the police at 11am and said Keaton had been missing for about 15 to 20 minutes on their log so they hadn’t got a clue where he was.
‘We asked why we weren’t informed, as I have three sons in that school and they all have contact details.’
Head teacher Dan Andrews said: ‘I am perfectly happy with what happened. I’m confident that all of my staff followed the correct procedure. ‘As soon as he chose to leave, the police were called and he was returned to the school promptly and safely for the afternoon session.’
Mr Andrews said Keaton was ‘at no point wandering around on his own’, but declined to elaborate on the steps staff took to bring him back to school.
Only official pronouncements may use the word “obese” in Britain
When the government blasts you for being fat that is OK: But not OK for anyone else?
“The word ‘obese’ should not be used when encouraging the public to lose weight as it may be ‘derogatory’, councils have been told. Instead, anyone who is dangerously overweight should merely be urged to try to ‘achieve a healthier weight’, according to guidelines drawn up by the health watchdog NICE.
The guidance tells officials to ‘ carefully consider the type of language’ they use when designing posters and leaflets.
Under a new Government strategy, councils – rather than NHS trusts – have been given the task of combating rising levels of obesity. Ministers are giving town halls £ 5billion a year to tackle a range of public health issues, which also include binge-drinking, smoking and teenage pregnancies.
“Blacklist” is blacklisted in Britain: Police ban word over claims it is racist
“Police chiefs have banned the word ‘blacklist’ over fears it is racist. They have also struck out its opposite – ‘whitelist’ – which is used by IT workers for a list of acceptable email contacts. Scotland Yard employees have been told to use ‘red’ and ‘green’ instead.
The move baffled officers, who said it would do little to help the force emerge from its latest racism crisis.
One officer said: ‘Frankly we all sigh when things like this come around. Lots of good work is done to make sure policing reaches into all parts of society and helps the most vulnerable. This is not it.’
The measure is part of a drive by police chiefs to stamp out racism within the force. But officers within the organisation are said to have described the latest orders as ‘bizarre’.
One source said that banning them won’t solve any genuine problems the Met has with racism. They added: ‘Do we really think these words are discriminatory? The truth is they’re nothing to do with race whatsoever and are very common IT terms.’
Is the “outrageous” Jeremy Clarkson the only realist in Britain?
“Jeremy Clarkson has risked outrage by suggesting that long queues for airport border control checks could be solved by “a bit of racism.”
The BBC Top Gear presenter claimed that the long delays at Heathrow border control were because immigration officials were no longer allowed to use their discretion to wave certain passengers through.
He said: “Nobody is waved through any more. The result is plain for all to see. There’s a two-hour wait.
“And the problem is: the only possible solution is to introduce a bit of racism.”
He added: “Nobody likes a racist. Nobody likes prejudice. It has no place at work, at play, or in government. “But at Heathrow airport? Hmmm.”
Clarkson, who is now notorious for his provocative comments, used his Sun newspaper column to wade into the controversy over passengers facing queues of up to three hours at Heathrow.
He claimed that liberal attitudes prevented officials targeting only passengers deemed “high risk”.
“You can’t get that sort of thing past the bleeding-heart liberals. They believe that . a hook-handed imam with fire in his heart and hatred in his eyes is just as likely to whip up anti-western sentiment as Joanna Lumley.”