Thousands could lose their sight as NHS cuts cataract surgery by a quarter

Paying an army of clerks is far more important than people going blind

The eyesight of thousands of elderly people has been put in jeopardy as NHS trusts place harsh restrictions on cataract surgery.

Last year the number of operations being carried out on the Health Service fell by more than a quarter in some areas.

And more than half of the NHS trusts in England have imposed their own criteria for the surgery which are tougher than national guidelines, according to research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

MPs will hear today that, for many trusts, the number being treated for cataracts fell dramatically despite an ageing population.

Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham, who will raise the figures in Parliament, said cutting back on cataract surgery was a ‘false economy’, as untreated patients are more likely to suffer falls or need social care.

Campaigners say elderly people are increasingly having to wait until their eyesight deteriorates to the point where they are no longer able to drive before they can have cataracts removed. Others are told they can have only one affected eye treated.

Cataracts are cloudy patches on the lens of the eye that cause loss of sight. They affect a third of people aged over 65 and can be effectively treated by surgery, in what is traditionally one of the most common procedures carried out on the NHS.

A surgeon makes a tiny incision and uses a small probe to break up the cataract using ultrasound waves. When the cataract is gone, the surgeon inserts a small replacement plastic lens.

However, research by the RNIB suggests that primary care trusts (PCTs) – the bodies that manage the NHS – are rationing access to operations, even though the Coalition pledged to protect the NHS budget.

The number of cataract operations had been rising gradually in line with the ageing population, and reached 350,602 in 2010. However, Freedom of Information requests by the RNIB found that this fell to 338,565 in 2011.

In Worcestershire, there were just 3,188 cataract operations carried out last year, compared with 4,388 in 2010 – a fall of 27 per cent. Nottingham City saw a drop of 25 per cent to 1,287, while Brighton and Hove had a 24 per cent fall to 1,566.

Some 57 per cent of PCTs confirmed they had set their own criteria for access to cataract surgery, beyond that recommended by the Department of Health.

Steve Winyard, head of policy at the charity, said: ‘We are desperately concerned about what is happening. These new figures show for the first time what we thought was happening, which is that the numbers of operations being carried out is falling.

‘Clearly, we would expect to see a gradual rise, given the ageing population. ‘But a lot of PCTs are putting in place restrictive policies. It’s elective surgery, so they just tell opthamologists they can’t carry out as many operations.

‘People’s sight then has to fall an awfully long way before they qualify. It’s short-termism of the worst kind.

‘We are already seeing some evidence of more falls among elderly people because of poor sight. A cataract operation costs the NHS £932, while repairing a fractured hip costs £9,000. It doesn’t make sense.’

Mr Burnham said: ‘David Cameron promised not to cut the NHS, but he’s now cut it two years running.

‘His unnecessary £3billion re-organisation threw it into chaos and we’re now seeing crude random rationing across the system. ‘Older people shouldn’t be made to pay with their independence and quality of life. ‘They’ll also have more accidents and need more support – it’s a complete false economy.

‘Of all treatments, it makes no sense to restrict this one. I will be challenging ministers in the Commons to reverse it immediately.’

Professor Harminder Dua, the president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, has said restrictions on cataract surgery are ‘regrettable’. ‘They are arbitrary and are a response to financial pressures, not clinical needs,’ he added.

Ministers have promised to take action against trusts stopping patients from having surgery on the basis of cost alone.

Health minister Simon Burns said: ‘Last year we made it clear that it is unacceptable for the NHS to impose blanket bans for treatment on the basis of costs.

‘That is why we banned PCTs from putting caps on the number of people who could have certain operations. ‘Decisions on treatments, including suitability for surgery, should be made by clinicians based on what is most clinically appropriate for the patient and take the individual patient’s needs into account.

‘No right-thinking person could possibly understand how anyone could delay a patient’s treatment unnecessarily. ‘If patients need treatment, they should get it when they want it and where they want it. ‘If local health bodies stop patients from having treatments on the basis of cost alone we will take action against them.’


‘Twenty doctors thought big lump on baby’s face “was just a birthmark”: Mother’s fury after girl’s dangerous tumour grew to the size of a grapefruit

They just didn’t want to know in case it caused them work

A mother has revealed how 20 doctors dismissed her baby daughter’s rare cancer as a birthmark – until it grew to the size of a grapefruit.

Yvonne Bull, 32, claims she was told there was ‘nothing to worry about’ when her baby Isabel was born with a purple mark on the left-hand side of her face.

But now the little girl is undergoing chemotherapy after the mark, which was found to be a tumour, trebled in size within a month and covered her left ear.

Isabel, who is four months old, is recovering after she lost her ear when medics carried out an operation to remove the growth.

Ms Bull, a nurse from Sturminster Marshall, Dorset, said medics told her that the purple mark, which was originally the size of a golf ball, was simply a ‘strawberry’ birthmark. As the mark began to grow and bleed, she repeatedly took Isabel back to hospital but she said doctors prescribed only a medication to shrink birthmarks.

After a series of visits, Isabel was eventually referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where tests found she was suffering from an extremely rare sarcoma tumour.

Further results showed the aggressive cancer had spread to her bone marrow, which meant she had to undergo chemotherapy.

Ms Bull, a mother of four, said Isabel faced an uncertain future as the cancer could return.

‘When she was born they (doctors and nurses) brought the baby over and said “she has a small lump”,’ Ms Bull said. ‘I thought “that’s not a small lump, it is massive”. I was crying, I had never seen anything like it before. It was just ginormous. ‘It was supposed to be a happy day but it wasn’t at all.

‘They tried to reassure us and said it was a strawberry birthmark but it just did not look right. ‘We must have seen 20 doctors and they never questioned the original diagnosis, they just all said “it’s a birthmark” and told us not to worry.’

Ms Bull, who lives with partner Anthony Roch, 37, a recruitment consultant, had a 4D scan at 34 weeks into her pregnancy – which showed no abnormalities.

Isabel was born by planned Caesarean on March 1 at Poole Hospital in Dorset and weighed a healthy 7lb 1oz. She was taken for an ultrasound examination an hour after birth, and doctors concluded the mark was only a birthmark.

But Ms Bull insisted on further investigation and Isabel underwent an MRI scan at Southampton Hospital on March 6. She said: ‘The doctor was really nonchalant and said “I bet on my life that it is a birthmark, I don’t want to see you for a year”.

‘We had to chase the results for about two to three weeks. Luckily, another doctor at the hospital saw them and we were referred to Great Ormond Street for a review.’

But as the family waited for their April 19 appointment in London, Isabel’s mark began to grow and trebled in size.

They returned to Poole Hospital on April 5 and stayed for four days. Doctors remained insistent that the tumour was a birthmark and prescribed propanolol to shrink it.

But the mark began to blister and, on April 16, it ruptured while Ms Bull and Mr Roch were giving Isabel a bath.

They returned to Poole Hospital and demanded that Isabel stay in for observation for the next three days until her appointment.

On April 19 Isabel was taken by ambulance to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where an ear, nose and throat consultant ordered a biopsy.

The biopsy was performed a day later. On April 24, Isabel’s parents were given the devastating news that she had cancer and it had spread to her bone marrow.

The baby underwent a six-hour operation to remove the cancerous cells on April 29 and she began chemotherapy on May 1.

Ms Bull, who is considering legal action, said Isabel had lost an ear and had a large scar on her face.

Doctors have also warned the family that the girl may suffer from speech and language difficulties in the future.

But Ms Bull said: ‘To consider what she has gone through in such a short space of time, she is amazing, absolutely amazing. ‘She is an absolute pleasure to be around.’

Isabel’s parents have seen a solicitor and are planning to take legal advice against the hospital.

A spokesman for Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘We are very concerned to hear the family is unhappy with the care their daughter received, and would urge them to contact us directly so we can discuss these fully and answer any questions they may have.

‘We have a duty to protect our patients’ confidentiality and it would not be appropriate for us to comment further.’

A spokeswoman for University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust declined to comment


Judge who let Taliban soldier remain in Britain now allows refugee who raped girl, 12, stay in UK

A Sudanese asylum seeker who raped a 12-year-old girl has been allowed to remain in Britain – after a judge ruled it would breach his human rights to deport him.

Sani Adil Ali was jailed for raping the girl just months after he was given refugee status.

When he was sentenced, another judge described him as ‘a potential danger to young girls’ and put him on the Sex Offenders’ Register for the rest of his life.

But after serving a three-year sentence, an immigration tribunal ruled Ali could stay in Britain on the grounds that he could be in danger if he returned to Sudan.

Senior immigration judge Jonathan Perkins allowed the 28-year-old to remain in Britain, even though the rapist’s probation officers found that he presented some risk to young people.

In his ruling, Judge Perkins said: ‘We find that the appellant is still entitled to the protection of the Refugee Convention and the Qualification Directive.

‘In any event, removing him would be contrary to the United Kingdom’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.’

It is not the first time that Judge Perkins has made a controversial decision. Last month, The Mail on Sunday reported how he allowed an Afghan Muslim, who claimed he killed people while fighting for the Taliban, to remain in Britain.

It has also been reported that Judge Perkins has often allowed foreign criminals to remain in Britain because of their ‘right to a family life’ under the Human Rights Act.

His latest decision is another setback for Home Secretary Theresa May, whose plans to crack down on the way foreign criminals use human rights to avoid being deported appear to be repeatedly undermined by the courts.

Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover & Deal, who has tabled a Bill to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights, said: ‘Britain will always be there to provide refuge to those in need. But people who commit crimes here should be sent back immediately.

‘Right-thinking people in Britain will be appalled that this person will be allowed to stay here. It sums up what is wrong with the European human rights laws.

‘We should have zero tolerance of refugees who commit crimes. Cases like this are why I have tabled a British Bill of Rights so we can control our borders and ensure that foreign criminals and terrorists are deported immediately.’

Ali, who is from the Darfur region, arrived in Britain in October 2003 and was awarded refugee status in February 2005.

But two months later he was arrested at his address in Middlesbrough over the rape of a 12-year-old  Hungarian girl.

Ali had attacked her while staying with her family during a five-day trip to Sheffield. The victim’s family had offered to put him up while he visited his friend, Kamel Ahmed, then 22, also from Darfur.

Ali and Ahmed knew each other and the girl’s family from refugee camps in Italy and France.

Ali, who pleaded guilty to one count of child rape, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment at Sheffield Crown Court. Ahmed was convicted of three counts of child rape and jailed for ten years.

Judge Michael Murphy QC, said: ‘I regard each of you as a potential danger to young girls and so each of you will be banned for the rest of your life from ever taking up a job which involves working with children under 16.’

When Ali was released from Doncaster jail in 2008, the Home Office ordered that he return to Sudan and he was locked up in an immigration removal centre.

Ali appealed to the immigration court and when a judge rejected his bid, he mounted a fresh appeal to the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber.

At the Sheffield hearing, Judge Perkins ruled that removing Ali, who comes from the Zaghawa tribe, would breach his rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture or inhumane punishment.

Judge Perkins referred to a 2009 ruling which stated that non-Arab tribes such as the Zaghawa are ‘at risk of persecution in Darfur and cannot reasonably be expected to relocate elsewhere in Sudan’.

The judge also said Ali could not be deported because he was not a danger to the public, and therefore could not have his refugee status taken away from him.

He said that even though his probation officers found he ‘presented some risk to young people’, Ali had ‘faced up to his responsibilities and indicated an intention to behave himself in the future’.

It is believed Ali was allowed to leave the immigration removal centre around 2009 and then moved to Newcastle, and still lives in the North East. It is not known if he received legal aid to fund his immigration fight.

Last night the Government admitted it was powerless in the face of the tribunal’s decision, with an aide to Mrs May stressing there was nothing the Home Secretary could do. ‘We are at the mercy of the courts,’ they said.

The UK Border Agency said: ‘We do not believe this individual needs or deserves refuge in this country.’


1,000 innocent victims of Big Brother Britain: Families were spied on wrongly because of blunders by officials

Almost 1,000 entirely innocent people were wrongly spied upon using anti-terror powers last year following blunders by officials, it emerged last night.

In two shocking cases, two members of the public were arrested and accused of being serious criminals.

Details of phone calls and texts by genuine crime suspects had wrongly been attributed to the pair in a terrible mix-up between police and an internet company.

Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, said the mistakes had ‘significant consequence’ for the victims.

The internet provider involved was slow to report the errors and initially gave unsatisfactory explanations as to how they occurred or what was being done to stop it happening again, Sir Paul said.

He also revealed details of a council going beyond its legal powers to use snooping laws to spy on a family suspected of cheating school catchment area rules.

The council obtained details of phone calls and texts to seek to establish if the family lived where it said, the first known case of a town hall spying on a person’s phone records over school catchment areas.

The unnamed council was not acting within the rules, which say officials must be seeking evidence for use in a criminal prosecution. Instead, the council wanted only to withdraw a school place offered to a child in the family.

The hundreds of errors made by police, town halls and the security services will raise fresh doubts about the Government’s plan for a new ‘snoopers’ charter’.

Currently, public bodies have access to details of when and where phone calls, texts and emails were sent and, in some cases, to whom. But under proposals before Parliament, this will be extended to a person’s every internet click and the details of phone calls made on Skype.

The details will be supplied by internet firms – which were responsible for around a fifth of the mistakes made last year. Most commonly, the wrong digit was attached to a phone number or internet address by police, spies or the internet firm. This leads to data on the wrong person being investigated. It is destroyed once the mistake has been identified.

Last year, there were 895 cases where communications data – details of texts, emails and phone calls – was obtained in error.

There were also 42 errors by the security services – MI5, MI6 and GCHQ – relating to undercover operations, and 42 blunders by police and other law enforcement bodies asking for warrants to intercept the details of phone calls or other data.

David Cameron said he was concerned by the errors made by organisations using the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

It was passed by Labour ostensibly to fight terrorism, but was then extended to cover a string of other public bodies, including town halls. Councils have been accused of using the powers to spy on those accused of putting their bins out on the wrong day or allowing their dog to foul the pavement.

The number of applications to obtain communications data was 494,078, which was down by 11 per cent but is still 1,350 every day.

Of these, 2,130 were made by town halls. This was up from 1,809 in 2010, despite repeated promises from ministers to curtail the use of surveillance by the so-called ‘Town Hall Stasi’.

The Home Office said: ‘Surveillance powers are a vital tool for police and security services, enabling them to catch criminals, prevent terrorist attacks and protect children. But they must be used proportionately – that is why we have blocked local authorities for accessing data for trivial purposes.’

Campaign group Liberty said the scale of surveillance revealed was ‘alarming’ and called on the Government to ‘think again about turning us into a nation of suspects rather than citizens’.


British photophobia again

Anger of primary school parents banned from photographing their own children appearing in play because of just ONE complaint
Furious parents have blasted a headteacher who banned them from taking pictures of their own children during a school play after a single complaint.

Pupils in their final year of primary school had been working hard for the last month on their end-of-term production of ‘Oliver!’
And on Tuesday 100 proud parents crammed into Blackheath Primary School, in Sandwell, West Mids., with their cameras ready to capture the occasion.

But just a few minutes before the performance was due to start, headteacher Lesley King announced nobody was allowed to film their children because one parent had complained.

Stunned mums and dads said the decision had left them and their children extremely ‘upset and disappointed’.

Geoffrey Pearsall, 48, who’s son played one of the workhouse children in the play, said: ‘No-one could quite believe it.  ‘All the parents were looking at each other in amazement. They were not happy at all.  ‘This is the children’s last year in junior school and the last time a lot of them will ever see each other again.  ‘If one parent didn’t want to have their child filmed then that pupil could have had a lesser role.

‘At the very least the school could have filmed the production and distorted the face of the pupil concerned. It’s not hard to do these days.

‘But it doesn’t seem fair that we’ve got no record of it to show our son when he is older or his grandparents.’

Another parent, who did not wish to be named, added: ‘Everybody was pretty upset by the decision – it was really disappointing.
‘I wanted to capture the moment on film so I could make the play an everlasting memory for my son.   ‘But because of ridiculous red-tape these days – it put a real dampener on the occasion.

‘My son said after ‘did you get any pictures of me?’ and I had to explain why I hadn’t.’

Headteacher Lesley King confirmed parents had been asked not to take any pictures or video footage during the production.  She said: ‘We had an objection to people taking pictures and videos for reasons that are confidential.  ‘I asked if parents would respect that and they did.’


100 more free schools approved as British educational revolution continues

The state’s monopoly on education is being smashed as groups of teachers, parents and businesses line up to open dozens of ‘free schools’.

David Cameron and Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday announced that 102 new schools – freed from local authority control but funded by the taxpayer – have been approved.

The Prime Minister said they would open ‘in September 2013 and beyond’, while 50 already in the pipeline will open this September.

The latest approvals bring to almost 200 the total number of primary and secondary free schools, which ministers hope will be as transformative as grammar schools were in the 1950s and 1960s.

Mr Cameron said the Government’s reforms were using ‘competition to drive up standards across the system’.

More than half of the approved applications are from teachers, existing schools or educational organisations who want to run new state schools themselves.

They include a secondary school to be run by a group of teachers from the Cuckoo Hall Academy chain, based in a deprived area of North London, and a primary school in Manchester led by the group responsible for the Big Issue in the north of England.

Other specialist free schools will include one in South London for vulnerable pupils, including teenage mothers and children expelled from mainstream schools; a sixth-form college in East Manchester supported by Manchester City Football Club; a ‘faith-sensitive’ co-ed in Oldham; and secondaries backed by universities in Birmingham and Plymouth.

However, organisers behind another proposed free school in Oldham – the Phoenix School, which was to be staffed by Armed Forces veterans and backed by General Lord Guthrie, former chief of the defence staff – were angered that their application was turned down.

Mr Cameron said free schools ‘symbolise everything that is good about the revolution that we are bringing to Britain’s schools: choice for parents, power in the hands of Teacher, discipline, rigour, high-quality education in areas that are crying out for more good local schools’.

He added: ‘The free schools revolution was built on a simple idea. Open up our schools to new providers, and use the competition that results to drive up standards across the system.

‘Get behind parents, charities and committed teachers who are trying to make things better, and give them the freedoms they need to transform our education system.

‘That is what we have been doing, and the message from the first two years is clear and unambiguous. Free schools work and parents and teachers want more of them. So more is what they are going to get.’

Free schools can be established by groups including parents, teachers, faith groups, businesses, universities and charities. They are given the power to decide how they spend their budgets and set their own curriculum, teaching hours and term-times.

The reforms have pitched the Coalition into a battle with the teaching unions, who suggest they can adversely affect neighbouring comprehensives when they open in areas with no shortage of spaces.

The Department for Education insisted that 88 per cent of the primaries approved yesterday are in areas with a shortfall of places.


Soaring green energy taxes could force firms out of UK as industry becomes uncompetitive

Industry will become increasingly uncompetitive due to soaring green energy taxes, according to the Government’s own advisers.

A shocking report has found UK manufacturers’ electricity bills are already significantly higher than those in other leading nations due to climate change levies.

By the end of the decade, our green taxes will be double those in other EU nations and dozens of times higher than those in the US.

Industry groups said the report was ‘extremely worrying’ and could force firms abroad, where regulations are less stringent.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) report looked at the iron and steel, aluminium, cement and chemicals industries in 11 countries, most of which have renewable energy policies.

These energy-intensive industries directly employ 600,000 in Britain and contribute nearly £50billion a year to the economy.

Firms will be forced to pay an extra £28.30 in green taxes on top of the market price they pay for every megawatt hour of electricity by 2020 due to climate policies, according to the report by an independent firm.

This compares with £15.70 in Denmark, renowned for its renewable energy drive, £15.20 in France, £17.30 in Germany, £10 in China and a fall in the US and Russia.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said: ‘This report provides clear, independent evidence supporting concerns we have long put to government – that UK manufacturers in energy-intensive sectors are paying more for their electricity than many global and European competitors.’

He said the report showed ‘a mismatch between intent and reality’, given ministerial assurances that costs would not be loaded on to hard-pressed businesses.

Ian Rodgers, director of UK Steel, said: ‘The findings paint an extremely worrying picture for the UK’s steel industry. UK Government policy is making it more expensive to do business in the UK.’

The Government has committed to cutting carbon emissions by 80 per cent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2050.

Last May India’s Tata Steel announced 1,500 job cuts in the UK, which it put down to the impact of expensive climate policies.

Its chief executive in Europe, Karl-Ulrich Kohler, said there was a ‘great deal of uncertainty’ about how far the UK Government was prepared to go in its green policies.

The CBI said the report showed measures announced by Chancellor George Osborne last year – such as £250million to alleviate energy costs up to 2015 – did not go far enough.

Manufacturers yesterday urged the Treasury to put similar measures in place by 2015-20 to put them on a level playing field.

The report was also scathing about the proposed Carbon Price Floor, which from next year will tax firms £16 per ton of carbon they emit.

It has been criticised by environmental groups for simply encouraging firms to shift production to countries without such strict rules.

The BIS said the report did not take into account the Chancellor’s recent £250million subsidy for businesses. A spokesman said: ‘Government is committed to ensuring that manufacturing remains competitive during the shift to a low carbon economy and that the UK is open for business.’


British Wind farm subsidies to top £1bn this year

The cost of subsidies for wind farms is expected to top a billion pounds this year for the first time. The disclosure comes ahead of a long-awaited government announcement to cut the size of the subsidy, which benefits the big energy companies but is added on to household electricity bills.

The scale of the reduction was last night bogged down in Whitehall wrangling. Edward Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, was expected to make a decision before the Commons breaks up for the summer on Tuesday.

However, Whitehall sources told The Sunday Telegraph last night that discussions were “still continuing” – code for Coalition rows about the scope of subsidy cuts – leading to fears that the announcement could be postponed.

Original government plans were to cut onshore wind subsidies by 10 per cent for the period 2013-17, a move backed by the Liberal Democrats. Conservative MPs have been fighting for cuts of about 25 per cent.

The consumer subsidies were introduced by the Labour government to encourage green energy projects, including wind farms. However, it is now generally accepted that the subsidies are too generous as technologies have become cheaper.

According to an analysis of official figures by the think-tank Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), the total annual subsidy for onshore and offshore wind farms has, for the first time, topped £1billion. REF estimates that on current renewable energy targets – and with only modest cuts – the energy companies will have received £100 billion in subsidies by 2030.

REF said it expects 10 companies, between them, to pocket £800million through subsidies over the next 12 months.

The biggest winner is Dong Energy, a Danish energy company, which is on course to earn more than £156 million in subsidies through its British wind farms. Dong is also paid for the energy that it sells to the National Grid.

The next highest earner is Vattenfall, a state-owned Swedish energy conglomerate, which will earn £128 million from its wind farms. Out of the top 10, only two of the companies are British-owned – Centrica, which will receive £58 million in subsidy and SSE, which is due £53 million.

The remaining energy companies that make money out of British wind farms and British consumers are based in Germany, Norway, Spain and Italy.

The subsidy cut has caused anxiety in the onshore wind farm business, which has lobbied hard to keep the reduction at 10 per cent – a figure that was first mooted in a consultation document last year. The reduction was suggested as a means of deterring “poorly sited projects which are more expensive to develop”. Offshore wind farms, which are more expensive and receive a bigger subsidy, face a 5 per cent subsidy cut.

Back-bench Conservative MPs want a bigger reduction. Oliver Letwin, a Cabinet minister who is close to David Cameron, revealed in an email last month that he expected the subsidy to be scrapped by 2020.

REF, which opposes wind farms on the grounds of cost and on the damage they do to the countryside, said that the planned subsidy cut – even at a 25 per cent reduction – may still not be enough to cap costs because of the number of planned wind farms.

John Constable, director of REF, said: “The total savings that a 25 per cent reduction in subsidy could produce are macro-economically significant, and it is unlikely that either the Treasury or the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will want to stop there. Retrospective cuts for existing wind farms and those in construction cannot be ruled out.”

He described the future saving as “a big barnacle scraped off the hull of the UK economy”.

The size of the cut, and a possible delay in the announcement, has caused uncertainty in the wind energy industry. The industry’s figures show that 348 onshore wind farms are in operation and that 275 have planning consent but remain unbuilt. REF claims that “investor anxiety over the long term sustainability of the subsidies is a major factor” in explaining why energy companies have not constructed more onshore wind farms.

One developer, RES, which has not started construction on several projects that have planning permission, insisted that it was nothing to do with the subsidy cut.

A spokesman for RES said: “There is nothing on any of these wind farms that is holding them up. They are just going through due process.”

Þ Proposals for an offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea between Anglesey and the Isle of Man have been submitted.

The joint venture between Centrica and Dong Energy could include up to 440 turbines. Centrica said that the plans were in an extremely early stage.


Breastfeeding your baby for six months will ‘keep you slim in later life’

Breastfeeding is mainly a middle class thing these days and middle class people tend to be slimmer anyway so saying that breastfeeding CAUSES slimness is very myopic

Many mothers have long believed that breastfeeding helps them to get their figure back after giving birth.  Now scientists have found  it can help them to stay slim  for decades.  They discovered that women who breastfed their babies even for a few months after the birth were less likely to be obese 30 years later.

The Oxford University researchers worked out that for every six months a woman gives her baby breast milk, she loses around 2lb – depending on her initial weight and height.

Although this may not sound much, the academics claim that it could help prevent thousands of deaths from cancer, heart problems and other illnesses related to obesity.

Doctors and midwives are growing increasingly concerned that many women are becoming obese by gaining weight during pregnancy, which they never manage to shift after the birth.

Oxford University researchers worked out that for every six months a woman gives her baby breast milk, she loses around 2lb – depending on her initial weight and height

If they go on to have several children, they will become progressively fatter with every pregnancy.

The latest study – involving more than 740,000 women – provides compelling evidence that breastfeeding could help reverse this weight gain, and then help women keep the weight off for good.

Breastfeeding uses up large amounts of energy and experts have previously calculated it burns 500 calories a day – the same as a typical gym session.

Now academics have worked out that for every six months a woman breastfeeds her baby, her body mass index – the measurement of obesity – falls by 1 per cent. An average woman who is 5ft 6ins tall and weighs 11st 1lb would have a BMI measurement of 25, which is classified as overweight.

But if her BMI was to fall by 1 per cent it would be about 24.75 – which is deemed `healthy’ – and she would weigh 10st 13lb.

The lead author of the paper, Dr Kirsty Bobrow, from Oxford University, said: `We already know breastfeeding is best for babies, and this study adds to a growing body of evidence that the benefits extend to the mother as well – even 30 years after she’s given birth.

`Pregnant women should be made aware of these benefits to help them make an informed choice about infant feeding.’ The researchers also point out that breastfeeding may help prevent thousands of deaths related to obesity from cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Professor Dame Valerie Beral, director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University, who was also involved in the study, said: `Our research suggests that just six months of breastfeeding by UK women could reduce their risk of obesity in later life.

`A 1 per cent reduction in BMI may seem small, but spread across the population of the UK that could mean about 10,000 fewer premature deaths per decade from obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.’

The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, surveyed 740,600 women whose average age was 57. They had all answered questions about how many children they had and the total number of months they had spent breastfeeding.

The research also found that women were more likely to be obese if they had several children.

This backs up the concerns of health professionals that many gain weight during pregnancy which they don’t lose after the birth of their babies.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Health, almost three quarters of new  mothers start their babies off on breast milk.

This is far higher than the six in ten who breastfed in the 1990s and the rise follows numerous `breast is best’ campaigns.

The World Health Organisation recommends that women breastfeed their babies for at least six months but many give up because they find it uncomfortable or are worried that their babies are struggling to get enough milk.[


British football captain cleared of racial abuse charge

This verdict is a bit of a whitewash (blackwash?) but one must remember that footballers are like Royalty in Britain so rulings  are “fudged” on their behalf

Former England captain John Terry has been found not guilty of racially abusing rival player Anton Ferdinand.

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle cleared the 31-year-old Chelsea skipper today at the end of a five-day trial at Westminster Magistrates Court in London.

Terry, wearing a white shirt with a grey suit and tie, left court without speaking to media or supporters waiting outside.

He was accused of branding Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand a “f_____ black c___” during a match between Chelsea and QPR on October 23 last year.

Terry denied committing a racially aggravated public order offence. He told the court that he was sarcastically repeating words he thought Ferdinand had said to him.

The charge was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, the state prosecutors in England and Wales.



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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