Doctors back demands to deny NHS treatment for smokers and the obese
In other words, medical treatment has become a privilege that may be withdrawn, not a right that you have paid for. Britons pay “National Insurance” contributions in addition to tax but collecting on that insurance is the challenge. If you ever thought that collecting on private insurance was hard ….
More than half of doctors across the UK have backed controversial measures to withhold treatment to smokers and the obese. According to a new survey around 54 per cent of those who took part said the NHS should have the right to deny non-emergency treatments to those who fail to lose weight or kick their smoking habits.
Members of the networking website doctors.net.uk were asked ‘Should the NHS be allowed to refuse non-emergency treatments to patients unless they lose weight or stop smoking?’
And although the poll was optional 593 of the 1,096 doctors who participated answered yes.
It is believed that some procedures are less likely to work on those with unhealthier lifestyles and medics say they should not use their already limited resources for such work.
In some parts of England smokers and the obese are already being rejected IVF treatment as well as hip and knee replacements by private clinics but patient groups have reacted angrily to calls for the NHS to follow suit, saying it denies them their basic human rights.
Speaking to The Observer Dr. Tim Ringrose, doctors.net.uk’s chief executive, said the shift in attitudes is a result of the need to make huge cut backs.
He said: ‘This might appear to be only a slim majority of doctors in favor of limiting treatment to some patients who fail to look after themselves, but it represents a tectonic shift for a profession that has always sought to provide free healthcare from the cradle to the grave.’
Dr. Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, also told the paper: ‘Clearly, giving up smoking is a good thing, but blackmailing people by telling them that they have to give up isn’t what doctors should be doing.’
Pulse magazine has already reported that around 25 of 91 Primary Care Trusts in England have imposed some treatment bans since April last year. A move to help save the £20bn, expected by the Government, before 2015.
But treatment bans of any kind were slammed by Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association’s consultants committee, who added: ‘There are occasions where a doctor may advise an obese person to lose weight before surgery can safely go ahead. ‘But treatment bans are wholly unacceptable.’
Ban cellphones from schools: Chief British schools inspector gets tough over classroom discipline
Pupils face a ban on mobile phones in school as part of a new Ofsted crackdown on classroom discipline. Schools will be penalised for failing to tackle persistent low-level disruption in lessons under a tough new inspection regime being introduced next term.
This could force teachers to forbid mobile phone use by pupils – including texting, taking calls and surfing the web – to avoid being marked down by inspectors.
It will also cover other forms of disruption, including back-chatting and calling out, which damage education for well-behaved classmates.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, said that apart from the distracting effect of a mobile going off in a lesson, handsets can be used for cyber-bullying and accessing online pornography at school.
In an interview with the Mail, Sir Michael told how, as a headmaster, he banned his pupils from bringing phones to school.
Recalling his experience as head of Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, east London, he said: ‘It certainly cut out all that nonsense that you have in schools of these things being brought in and then a mobile phone going off in a lesson.
‘The outrageous behaviour that you occasionally see in all schools is serious, but I think the bigger issue is that low-level disruption which takes place which stops children learning effectively. Teachers and head teachers have got to stamp that out.’
Sir Michael added that bullying via phones and the internet could be ‘disruptive and pernicious’ and he treated the menace as seriously as a fight in the playground.
He will use a keynote speech today to pledge to push ahead with an overhaul of the school inspection regime despite a revolt by head teachers and claims of ‘bully boy tactics’.
Under his reforms, 6,000 schools currently deemed ‘satisfactory’ will be rebadged in the next academic year as ‘requiring improvement’.
‘I know this is a tough message but I think in a few years’ time it will be seen as a right one,’ he said. ‘I’m not a bully and never have been. We are raising the game. We are saying that all children deserve a good education and nothing less.’
Ofsted’s sharper focus on standards of behaviour is expected to lead to schools taking a tougher line on mobiles. New laws brought in last month give teachers powers to search pupils for handsets if they are banned under school rules. Staff may also search pupils for phones if they suspect they are being used to view pornography.
Few schools currently impose an outright ban on bringing handsets to school. Many allow them as long as they are kept switched off and stowed away.
But teachers warn that once mobiles are in school, they face a battle to make sure they are switched off all day.
Teachers who contributed to an online forum said: ‘Officially, we do not allow phones and will confiscate if seen. In reality, kids wander round using them as they like.’
Another warned: ‘I’ve had the situation where I’ve demanded the phone from, say, a Year 10 boy (I’m female) and they just shove the phone inside their boxers and say “You want it, you get it!”’
Sir Michael went on to reveal that heads will be expected to deal more effectively with teachers who cannot control their classes.
They will be marked down if they fail to manage the performance of struggling teachers, for example by waving through unjustified pay rises.
‘If the culture of the school is good and somebody is consistently under-performing because they are not teaching effectively, leading to that low-level disruption, that’s got to be picked up,’ said Sir Michael.
‘Where head teachers find that teachers are consistently underperforming, where there is that low-level disruption in every lesson, no matter what the professional development taking place in the school, then action needs to be taken.’
Sir Michael plans to extend Ofsted’s reach to the new chains springing up to run academies, which operate outside local authority influence but are state-funded.
At a conference today at Brighton College, he will say he has not been deterred from pressing ahead with toughening up the system, and that a consultation on the proposals attracted wide support, including from parents.
Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College, will tell the conference that heads who fail to sack incompetent teachers should have their pay docked. ‘No head teacher should ever tolerate bad teaching. Yet up and down the land, that is precisely what is going on.
‘Too many head teachers are prepared to take their relatively generous salaries yet duck the issue of the bad teacher in the staff room.’
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Parents should take responsibility for whether or not their children have phones in the first place. It is up to individual head teachers to decide if and when mobile phones should be used by pupils in school.’
Muslim sex gang were following their ‘cultural norms’
Maverick British historian speaks the unspeakable truth
David Starkey risks fresh controversy by claiming that Asian men jailed over a major child sexual exploitation ring were “acting within their own cultural norms”.
The historian said “nobody ever explained” to the men – eight of Pakistani origin and one from Afghanistan – that women could not be treated in this way.
Dr Starkey called for better teaching of English history to create a “common identity” and overcome the challenges of multiculturalism.
But the comments are likely to prompt condemnation just a day after the men were handed sentences of between four and 19 years for the offences.
Liverpool Crown Court heard the group plied five victims with drink and drugs and “passed them around” for sex.
The girls were abused at two takeaway restaurants in the Heywood area of Rochdale by the men aged between 24 and 59. The takeaways are now under new management.Speaking at a conference staged by Brighton College, the private school in East Sussex, Dr Starkey said that the “only way we are going to get to be able to survive as a multi-cultural society is if we re-address the story – the real story – of English history”.
The historian, author of books including Elizabeth and The Private Life of Henry VIII, said: “If you want to look at what happens when you have no sense of common identity, look at Rochdale and events in Rochdale, where you have groups that are absolutely and mutually uncomprehending.
“Those men were acting within their own cultural norms. Nobody ever explained to them that the history of women in Britain was once rather similar to that in Pakistan and it had changed.”
He said a “genuine approach to the teaching of English history” should look at the origins of modern feminism.
“It is a fundamental story,” he said. “And it seems to me that if we are to make this highly diverse society work, and I desperately hope that we do, what we should be focusing on is the astonishing record of change without revolution in English history in which the political system of king, lords and commoners, has proved flexible enough to spread from a tiny deeply selective electorate to a wider and wider group who have been incorporated, have been brought in and made to feel welcome.”
New British defamation bill ‘will put a stop to libel tourism’ by shaking up old laws
A law to end ‘libel tourism’ and protect free speech will be published today. The Defamation Bill will shake up antiquated libel laws to prevent wealthy individuals and corporations – often based abroad – using courts here to silence critics.
In recent years London has become the libel capital of the world. Critics say this is because existing regulations favour claimants and that the very high costs involved in defending a claim mean many publications are forced to settle out of court, even when they believe what they published was true.
In an attempt to end trivial claims, future claimants will have to show that material has caused them ‘serious harm’. And those from outside the EU will face new hurdles before they can bring a claim in London.
Journalists will be allowed defences against defamation where they can show the material is based on ‘honest opinion’ or is in the public interest. And websites will be protected if they publish readers’ comments.
Scientific journals will have a right to publish peer-reviewed studies, even if they are critical of products made by wealthy corporations.
Last night the Libel Reform Campaign lobby group said: ‘The Bill will open the way to ending libel tourism and protecting free expression for journalists, writers, bloggers and scientists around the world.’
The Libel Reform Campaign – made up of Index on Censorship, English Pen and Sense About Science – which has been calling for legislation to reform the libel law since 2009, hailed the announcement as a victory.
A spokesman for the campaign said: ‘The Bill will open the way to ending libel tourism and protecting free expression for journalists, writers, bloggers and scientists around the world.
‘However, there is still work to be done and we will carry on campaigning to make sure that the detail in the final Bill will truly deliver reform.’
Sense About Science managing director Tracey Brown said the current libel laws had had a ‘bullying and chilling effect on discussions about health, scientific research, consumer safety, history and human rights’.
Welcoming the announcement, she added: ‘This opens the way to developing a law guided by public interest not powerful interests.’
Cardiologist Dr Peter Wilmshurst, who was sued by an American medical device company, said: ‘Patients have suffered because the draconian defamation laws were used to silence doctors with legitimate concerns about medical safety.’
Justine Roberts, co-founder and chief executive of the Mumsnet website, welcomed the proposed new protections for websites.
She said: ‘Websites and hosts of user-generated comment risk becoming tactical targets for those who wish to clamp down on criticism or investigation of their activities.’
The Bill will also end the presumption in favour of jury trial in defamation cases, which currently adds significantly to the cost of cases and the time taken to resolve claims.
In future, most cases could be settled by a judge sitting alone.