Wait 18 weeks or longer for treatment on the NHS and you’ll get a private bed
The Labour Party made similar promises but it didn’t happen
Tens of thousands of patients who face having to wait more than 18 weeks for NHS treatment will be offered a bed in a private hospital, under reforms to be unveiled by Andrew Lansley today.
The Health Secretary will make the announcement during the first annual ‘State of the NHS’ report to be delivered to the Commons.
Latest figures, from April 2012, show that 149,912 patients have been waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment.
For the first time, the NHS will be forced to tell patients who are likely to wait more than 18 weeks for a non-urgent procedure that they have the right to choose from a range of providers to get treated more quickly.
This could include another NHS trust, a private hospital or a service provided by a charity.
Patients are already able to demand a bed elsewhere under the NHS Constitution, but ministers say that in too many cases hospitals have not been informing patients about their rights.
The new rules, which will come into play next year following trial projects, will force them to do so. It is part of a series of 60 ‘outcome measures’ for the NHS, to be unveiled by Mr Lansley.
They include increasing the number of people who survive after being diagnosed with cancer, helping people recover more quickly after a medical emergency such as a stroke, and improving care for people with long-term conditions like dementia.
Last night the Health Secretary said: ‘In the last year the NHS has reduced the number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment to a record low.
‘We want those waiting times to come down even further so we are asking the NHS to identify how best to offer patients who run the risk of waiting a long time an alternative hospital to get their treatment from.’
Unlike Labour’s targets, hospitals will not face financial penalties if they fail to meet the 60 new outcomes measures.
But if they significantly fail, they will be named and shamed by the chairman of the new NHS Commissioning Board.
Mr Lansley will also say that over the past year rates of the MRSA and C Diff superbugs have fallen. However, female life expectancy is among the worst in western Europe, while among men it is one of the best.
The report also shows that while the number of NHS doctors has risen by 2 per cent over the past year to 101,000, the number of nurses, midwives and health visitors has fallen by 0.3 per cent to 308,000.
And despite all the promises, the number of NHS managers has fallen by just 3.3 per cent to 36,100.
Although people are living longer than they used to, health inequality has got worse because the health of the well-off has improved more quickly than that of the poorest.
In 1992, the difference in female life expectancy between the richest and the poorest areas was 6.2 years. By 2009 that had risen to 10.7 years. Among men, the gap has risen from 8.3 years to 11.5 years.
Fury of parents of 22-month-old boy left fighting for life after they misdiagnose heart disease for tonsillitis
Diagnosed via a casual glance by the sound of it
A couple have accused medics of diagnosing their critically ill 22-month-old son with tonsillitis – when he actually needs a heart transplant to keep him alive.
Sean and Lisa Robb said they rushed their son Harry to a minor injuries unit in Ipswich, Suffolk, after he developed severe breathing problems on June 3. But he was sent home with penicillin after doctors wrongly diagnosed him with tonsillitis. His condition worsened during the day and his frantic parents called an ambulance.
Harry was rushed to Ipswich hospital where he continued to deteriorate and two days later he was sent to the Evelina Hospital in London.
There medics told Sean and Lisa were told their son had dilated cardiomyopathy and that his organ was operating at just 17 per cent of its normal function. The condition means he desperately needs a heart transplant.
Mr Robb said: ‘It is devastating. He was critically ill and they (Riverside Clinic) sent us away telling us he had tonsillitis.
‘Harry was unresponsive and sick at the clinic and he had terrible breathing problems. ‘We are just so angry and disappointed that we put our trust in the system – we should have just gone straight to A&E.’
Mr Robb said he and Lisa initially called the out-of-hours service, run by Harmoni, and were told to take distressed Harry to the minor injuries unit, where he was misdiagnosed.
His heart had to be restarted after he went to intensive care at Ipswich Hospital, before he was transferred the the specialist Evelina Hospital in London.
However, the family’s problems continued after he was transferred back to a general ward at Ipswich after showing a slight improvement.
Mr Robb, a father-of-four said: ‘When he came back to Ipswich they put him in a bay with 12 other kids. ‘He was supposed to be in isolation because he had been transferred from another hospital. Three days later he had got much worse but the whole day only one nurse came to check on him.
‘My wife and I kept asking if a doctor was coming to see him but they never did. By 5am the next morning he was so poorly they decided to do ECGs and put him back on a ventilator before transferring him back to London.
‘His heart function when he got back to the Evelina was only seven per cent. ‘He was in a critical condition and we were told he might not survive.’
Battling Harry managed to pull through as his exhausted parents feared the worst but they now face a long tortuous wait for a new heart.
Doctors have told them the tot could have an eight-hour operation to fit a Berlin Heart. The artificial heart is used to help bridge the gap until a suitable heart is found for transplant.
‘At the moment Harry is stable,’ said Mr Robb, who works for a cleaning contractors at Ipswich Hospital. ‘He has improved a bit but we just have to wait and see if his heart function improves. It’s just terrible for all of us.’
Sean has now filed an official complaint against the minor injuries unit.
A spokesperson for Harmoni, which operated the out-of-hours service at the time, said: ‘Our aim is to always deliver a first class service to patients. ‘Any complaint is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.
‘When this investigation is complete we will contact Mr and Mrs Robb with our findings. It would not be appropriate for us to comment further in public on an individual patient’s circumstances but our best wishes go to the family at what must be a distressing time for them.’
An Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman said: ‘We are sorry to hear that Harry’s family don’t feel the care he received here at Ipswich Hospital was appropriate. ‘We would like the family to contact us in order that we can meet and discuss this with them.’
Compromise over women bishops in the Church of England rejected
No allowance at all for those who follow the Bible on the matter. Further shrinking of an already drastically shrunken church to be expected. Average Sunday attendance is less than a million in a country of 60 million. It’s said that more people in Britain go to Mosque on Friday than go to the CofE on Sunday. Women bishops will find themselves preaching to largely empty pews
The Archbishop of Canterbury made a humiliating apology to the Church of England yesterday for the latest fiasco over women bishops.
Dr Rowan Williams spoke of ‘penitence’ as the bishops asked the Church’s parliament, the General Synod, for another three months to make up their minds over how to draw up a new law about the place of women.
It would allow women priests to be promoted for the first time to the leadership ranks of the bishops. It has already taken the CofE 12 years of agonising to get to the brink of consecrating its first woman bishop.
But yesterday the Synod voted for another delay after Dr Williams admitted that, together with his fellow bishops, he had badly misjudged an attempt at a compromise.
Supporters of women bishops were so angry that they were poised to vote down the new Church law.
The Archbishop said: ‘It is quite clear that the reaction cannot be ignored. When there is a reaction of real hurt and offence in the Church, Christians and Christian pastors in particular, cannot afford to ignore it.
‘If other bishops feel as I do, they will need to examine themselves and feel appropriate penitence.
‘An adjournment gives us at least the chance of lowering the temperature and explaining ourselves to each other.
‘If other bishops feel as I do they will need to examine themselves and feel appropriate penitence that they did not recognise just how difficult that was going to be.’
The Synod will gather again to try to agree a law on women bishops in November.
Dr Williams and his colleagues now have until September to draw up a compromise to save the consciences of traditionalists who will not accept the leadership of women bishops, while ensuring the women bishops who are expected to be appointed from 2014 have the same status as their male colleagues.
Yesterday’s climbdown came as Dr Williams and his colleagues faced an open warning from a senior politician that further delay or mishandling of the women bishops issue will have serious political consequences for the Church of England.
A ‘train crash’ would threaten the Church’s power to keep seats for bishops in a reformed House of Lords, Tory MP Sir Tony Baldry told the Synod. Under Lords reform proposals currently before Parliament, the CofE would see its 26 bishops in the Upper House reduced to 12.
Sir Tony, who as Second Church Estates Commissioner is the CofE’s link with the Government, said: ‘I am your only voice in the House of Commons who will be arguing for the bishops.’
‘The Deputy Prime Minister has already made it clear he is indifferent to the matter, the Honourable Member for Rhondda (Labour MP Chris Bryant) has already made it clear that he intends to introduce an amendment for the removal of bishops from the Second Chamber.
‘If you have a train crash this afternoon all I am saying is that my task of maintaining bishops in a mainly elected second chamber is going to be infinitely more difficult if not impossible.’
Synod members voted 288 in favour of a delay, 144 against and 15 abstained.
The compromise on women bishops that has now been withdrawn was produced by Dr Williams and his colleagues in May.
It would have put into law the rights of traditionalist parishes to reject a woman bishop and insist on oversight by a male bishop who was himself untainted by ever having ordained a woman priest or accepted the authority of a woman bishop.
Supporters of women said they could not support this because it would turn women into second class bishops.
A leading tradionalist at the Synod, conservative evangelical the Reverend Rod Thomas, said: ‘The House of Bishops has a huge amount of work to do. Unless it comes up with clear space for us to have a permanent space in the Church it will fail – that has to be done.’
‘All babies deserve the best start in life’: British government to speed up adoption system by finding children in care permanent homes faster
Babies and children who are taken into care must be given permanent homes quicker, ministers said yesterday.
Some children are being moved ‘again and again’ before finding a home, causing huge disruption to their young lives, Education Secretary Michael Gove said.
Mr Gove, who was himself adopted at four months, said he wanted to ‘radically’ speed up the amount of time it takes to place young children with potential adopters.
‘I want as many babies as possible to have the best start in life,’ he added. ‘I know that stable and loving families provide the ideal environment for young people to achieve their full potential.’
Under the new plans, children will be able to move in with their possible future permanent families before lengthy legal procedures are finalised, the Prime Minister has announced.
And there will be a new legal duty on local authorities to consider placing children with approved adopters who will foster them first.
Currently, local authorities often do not begin to look for a permanent family for a child until a court’s placement order has been received. It can take 21 months from entering care to moving in with a new family.
Under the Fostering for Adoption scheme, it is also hoped that more people will come forward to become potential adopters.
Jonathan Pearce of the charity Adoption UK said: ‘Initiatives that offer children in care the chance of both earlier placement with their adoptive parents and fewer moves in care have to be welcomed, as we know so much about the damage caused to children through delay in finding stable and permanent families.’
Analysis released yesterday shows half of newborn babies in care are eventually adopted. However, it takes an average of more than 15 months for them to move to their permanent family.
David Cameron said: ‘These plans will see babies placed with adopters who will foster first and provide a stable home at a much earlier stage in a child’s life.’
Ministers said they would legislate ‘as soon as possible’ to make fostering by potential adopters standard practice.
The case for school streaming from age 11 in Britain is overwhelming. But how long will it take the Conservatives to learn from the lessons of the past?
The latest findings of the Sutton Trust Report published today, based on a Buckingham University analysis of the PISA tests (Programme for International Student Assessment) confirm of what we already know. This is why they are so damning.
England, it found, ranked 26th out of 34 OECD countries for the proportion of pupils reaching the top level in maths. It fell behind other nations like Slovenia (3.9%), the Slovak Republic (3.6%) France (3.3%) and the Czech Republic (3.2%), which all scored around the OECD average.
So it is not hard to guess the answer to this question: how many pupils from English comprehensive schools got the highest marks in international tests for maths? A dunce would get it; almost none.
It comes as no surprise that teenagers in England are half as likely as those in the average developed nation to reach higher levels in maths; that only 1.7% of England’s 15-year-olds reached the highest level, Level 6, in maths, as compared with an OECD average of 3.1%; or that in countries as diverse as Switzerland and Korea, 7.8% of pupils reached this level.
It is a damning indictment of our comprehensive education system, the system responsible for dragging the country down.
It is an even more damning indictment that government after government, including the 18 years of Conservative Governments, sanctioned this system along with the progressive deterioration of standards it led to; all in the name of a bankrupt, bolshy, anti- elitist, anti-competitive, socialist ideology that none dared challenge.
Those responsible should be bowing their heads in shame.
They include just about every Secretary of State for Education since the arch instigators of this ill advised cultural revolution, Anthony Crosland and Shirley Williams. It was the inverted snobbery of these two – a luxury afforded the upper class left alone – that set this monstrous dumbing down in motion.
“If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every f….g grammar school in England,” Susan Crosland afterwards reported her late husband to have said. Thanks to the weakness of the Conservative Education Secretaries who succeeded him, he just about did.
How these Conservatives came to betray their own better judgment is hard to understand. But they did – including Margaret Thatcher herself and the neo liberal Keith Joseph. As a result of their intellectual cowardice the number of comprehensive schools doubled between 1970 and 1974. The grammar school success stories of first Harold Wilson, then Edward Heath and most remarkable of all, Margaret Thatcher, apparently counted for nothing.
Mrs Thatcher redeemed herself somewhat by giving back the right to select pupils for secondary education at 11 to LEAs in 1979. Arguably it kept the grammar school dream alive but given the preponderance of socialist local education authorities that was all. The majority of grammar schools were purged.
Through to John Patten and Kenneth Baker, who, while maybe not accepting the ant elitist socialist paradigm, they all still failed to challenge it.
Conservative Education Secretaries followed the futile path of reforming the curriculum through top down edicts – ever more narrowly and pedantically interpreted by the educationalists in the vain attempt to raise standards. The critical challenge of taking on teacher training has never happened.
Schooling has been subject to the worst possible cocktail of ideological claptrap and performance management bureaucracy and monitoring. Ironically it has led to almost the entire teaching profession being alienated as a result.
When Keith Joseph first proposed linking teacher appraisal and performance-related pay, the result was a year of industrial action by teachers. The teaching unions have held the government to ransom ever since. The price paid was the loss of parents’ respect for teachers.
The unions have also resolutely buried their heads in the sand.
The teachers’ union’s’ reactions to today’s Sutton report are par for the course. Chris Keates (NASUWT) disputes the validity of the international comparisons. Her alter ego Christine Blower insists (the Today programme this morning) that separating out children at 11 is not the best way.
No? So how would she explain why local authorities like Buckinghamshire, Sutton, Kent and Trafford, all of whom have selective education systems in place, score so much higher on national tests taken at 11 than their local authority counterparts within the comprehensive system. Justin Webb, the Today interviewer did not challenge her on this.
Yet effectively this is what the Sutton Trust is suggesting as their solution to the dire state of pupils’ maths. For what are they describing, when they advocate pulling out the brightest at 11 and tracking them thereafter, other than the introduction of selection at eleven – that is, the Grammar School system?
The government should take heed. Only by biting this bullet can they put this shameful episode of education history behind us. This is a Berlin Wall moment.
Michael Gove’s latest sensible edict is to test every eleven year old in the country on their grammar and punctuation skills. So why not go the whole hog and do it through an 11 plus exam? It is the only way to make it meaningful.
There is no reason why there should not be a 13 plus and 14 plus entry exam too – to allow for late developers and less socially advantaged children to feed in. Nor, with high class vocational and technical education, should there be any shame in movement each way.
The dangers of a continued downward slide are too real otherwise – despite all his good intentions. As Nick Seaton of the Campaign for Real Education points out, the “progressives” will always be ruthless in pursuit of their goals. If they can they will resist, water down or corrupt each and every sensible reform Michael Gove suggests.
The 164 grammar schools that survived the great purge are demonstrably a force for good. They are the only real counterweight to the inevitable top heavy public school domination over politics, business and the professions.
Children gain by being educated with children of similar ability. It is a fact but one that politicians have yet to have the intellectual courage to grasp and state.
Grammar school ‘products’ from my own experience understand meritocracy and hard work. They have no time for entitlement and snobbery and, whatever their background, are rarely beset with anxieties or resentment about class. Grammar schools breed natural confidence and competence.
Many adults, as well as children, would fail the 11 plus today might be true. But that is no argument against setting it. It would sharpen everyone up. It would open up social mobility.
But more importantly, there is no other way to end the stultifying, egalitarian, non-competitive ideology responsible for this catastrophic fall in standards.