It’s not fair to lavish billions on foreign aid when the NHS won’t fund my cancer drugs: Gran’s tearful attack on PM during radio phone-in
A cancer sufferer yesterday launched a scathing attack on David Cameron for increasing Britain’s foreign aid bill while the NHS fails to fund cancer treatment she desperately needs.
The 68-year-old grandmother took the Prime Minister to task over his decision to send £12billion abroad in foreign aid rather than spending it on helping people at home.
The woman, who suffers from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, used the name Anna during a radio phone-in and refused to give her real name because some of her family do not know she is ill.
She said her chemotherapy had beaten back the cancer, but she proved to be dangerously allergic to the rituximab antibody drug given to her to counter side effects of the treatment. Instead, she needs ofatumumab but said the NHS refuses to fund it.
Buying a two-year course of the drug would cost £250,000, completely out of her reach, she said, so her doctors are currently applying to charities in a desperate bid to raise the funds.
Anna had been a full-time carer for her retired engineer husband, but they are so ill he has been forced to go into a care home. She is living alone at her home in Finchley, north London, on only £68 per week.
The mother of three tearfully challenged Mr Cameron to justify why so much money was going on foreign aid. ‘No foreign aid is being cut, and I’m a cancer victim or patient waiting for treatment that’s not on the National Health, and my local authority, health authority is begging charities for my treatment,’ she said.
‘Now, I had my last chemotherapy in May – and it’s a horrible feeling, waking every morning, waiting for £250,000 when they’re giving billions away abroad. ‘It’s not fair. I need some funding now.’
The Government has pledged to increase foreign aid to 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product by 2013. But the decision to increase aid spending by 34 per cent to £12billion over four years at a time of austerity at home has proved massively controversial with both the public and many Tory MPs.
India is still receiving nearly £300million from British taxpayers in aid, for example, despite the country being rich enough to launch its own space programme.
Mr Cameron, appearing on LBC, said he would look at her case. But he added: ‘We made a promise as a country to meet pledges on aid and we’re keeping those promises, and I think breaking your promises to the poorest people in the world would not be the right thing to do.
‘The second thing: as I say, I think we do have a moral obligation to help the poorest in the world… even when there are difficult times for us. ‘We have not cut spending to the NHS we have increased it. ‘We have the cancer drugs fund and we are looking to extend that.’
Later, Anna told the Mail she was ‘consumed with grief’ because she could not care for her husband, while her grandchildren were frightened of her wig. She said: ‘I understand what he is saying, but I would say to him if your family is starving you wouldn’t go and feed your neighbours. ‘He should be looking after people here.’
She added: ‘The doctors have told me I’m a prime candidate for successful treatment.’
Health officials yesterday insisted that the Cancer Drugs Fund should be able to cover the type of treatment that Anna needs as the drug ofatumumab, also known as Arzerra, is on the approved list for the London region. This means it should be approved if a cancer specialist applies on behalf of a patient.
A spokesman for NHS North Central London said last night that it was investigating the case. ‘Our initial investigations have shown us that we have not had any contact from her,’ he said
People avoid the NHS if they can
Sunday’s British papers report that a study by the research firm Lloyd’s TSB Premier Banking found that nearly two-thirds of Britons earning more than $78,700 a year have taken out private health insurance because they don’t trust the NHS. A survey by the British health-care organization Bupa found that two-thirds of its customers cited the risk of infection from superbugs as a top reason for buying private insurance. Shaun Matisonn, the chief executive of PruHealth, says that “patients today are sophisticated consumers of health care. They research the treatments they want, but cannot always get them through the NHS.”
Horror stories about the NHS abound. A 2007 survey of almost 1,000 physicians by Doctors’ Magazine found that two-thirds said they had been told by their local NHS trust not to prescribe certain drugs, and one in five doctors knew patients who had suffered as a result of treatment rationing. The study cited one physician who characterized the NHS as “a lottery.” A new study this year by GP magazine supports that conclusion. Through Freedom of Information Act records, it found that 90 percent of NHS trusts were rationing care.
Rick Dewsbury of the Daily Mail was aghast at the worship of the NHS during Friday’s Olympic ceremony. The columnist noted the sheer hypocrisy of the spectacle, as “the majority of the athletes taking part in the Games will have access to the most expensive cutting-edge private treatment available in the world for even the slightest graze on their bodies.”
Dewsbury recounted the 2009 case of Kane Gorny, a 22-year-old NHS patient. Gorny was admitted to the hospital for a hip replacement. A series of hospital employees refused his request for a glass of water and failed to give him diabetes medication. He went so far as to call the emergency operator for help. When the police arrived, nurses assured them that Gorny was confused and needed no outside help. A day later, he was dead of dehydration. The official inquest into his death was published this month. It found that neglect by hospital staff — “a cascade of individual failures” — contributed to his death. Here’s hoping that not everyone is “treated the same” in Britain’s NHS hospitals.
“Britain is full of single mothers and muggers — and over-taxed”
I have just asked the creator of the phenomenally successful 1973 album Tubular Bells if performing in front of worldwide audience of a billion people at the Olympics Opening Ceremony has tempted him to end his self-imposed exile and return to Britain.
The answer is ‘no’. It seems the Reading-born father of nine is blissfully happy on his little tax-free island in the Bahamas.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Britain — I can’t stand being cold,’ he says. ‘I’m very comfortable with the local people here. They’re so very genuine and friendly. They don’t seem to have an agenda.’
Having lived in the Bahamas for three years, Oldfield and his family — wife Fanny and sons Jake, eight, and Eugene, four — flew to London four weeks before the ceremony.
We are sitting in the grounds of an expensive hotel on Paradise Island, which featured in the Bond film Casino Royale. Oldfield chose it as our meeting place for its link with Bond actor Daniel Craig, his opening ceremony ‘co-star’.
For all his reputation as a bit of an anti-social curmudgeon, the shaggy-haired Oldfield makes for congenial company.
Yes, everyone loved Tubular Bells (its global sales stand at 17 million) but its then 19-year-old boy wonder composer — a self-taught musician who played more than 20 instruments on the album — says he was soon caught in the backlash that faces anyone who is too successful.
‘There’s a British thing about hating people who are too clever,’ he says. ‘It’s uncool to be too clever. It’s a great shame, and it’s not the same in America.’
Oldfield says he has sorted out his women issues now, along with his psychological hang-ups. He feels he has never been happier and has been with his French-born wife, Fanny, since they met in 1999 while he was living in Ibiza.
The island was just one of the exotic places he ran away to after he decided to leave Britain.
Oldfield says he was advised in the 1970s to emigrate in order to escape the then Labour government’s 86 per cent taxes on his Tubular Bells royalties. He spent time living in Switzerland, Monaco, Ibiza (where the hedonistic and ‘poisonous’ lifestyle of drink, drugs and going days without sleep almost overwhelmed him) and Majorca.
The Bahamas may be a country increasingly full of gated communities and millionaire tax exiles, but Oldfield stresses that he lives in the cheaper end of Nassau and is still doing up the run-down five-bedroom 1950s house he bought when he and his wife moved there in 2009.
He has grumbled about his home country being like ‘prep school’ with all its restrictive laws, health and safety rules, smoking bans and CCTV cameras everywhere.
He complains about the Big Brother culture and says Britain’s ‘brutish police in those weird jackets’ are nothing like the kindly bobby in the helmet he remembers from his youth.
By comparison, he says, he’s found the values of that old Britain in the Bahamas.
‘You go inland here and it’s just like Reading was in the 1950s. You see the kids going to school in their uniforms —they take their education very seriously here.
‘People don’t have a lot of money, but you can talk to anybody. In London, you’d be worried you were going to get mugged.’
Despite his peripatetic life in Switzerland, Monaco, Ibiza and Majorca, he said none were warm enough in the winter. That’s why he came to the Bahamas.
He accepts the islands are also attractive because they have no personal income tax — but then claims he’s not as rich as he was.
Britain’s absurd prison system
Serious criminals are repeately released after short periods. Apparently the “habitual criminal” has disappeared from the notice of the British justice system
The police mugshots of career criminal Stephen Bosanko cover a decade, but the defiant, contemptuous stare is virtually unchanged.
Bosanko, 31, has killed two people and committed a host of other crimes over a 13-year period of mayhem but has served only a series of short spells in prison.
He was accused of ‘laughing at the law’ by the father of one of his victims after he was jailed again at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday – for three years for burglary – and told he could be free in just 18 months.
In 2002 Bosanko had caused the death of Nicola Shalloe, 20, by dangerous driving four months after he was freed from a prison term for manslaughter. Yesterday Nicola’s father Michael said Bosanko was ‘bad to the bone’.
Mr Shalloe, 63, a plumber, added: ‘This bloke must be laughing at the law. He’s a complete lunatic who shouldn’t be out of jail – he should be locked up for life for what he’s done. He has ruined so many people’s lives. What is it going to take to throw away the key?
‘Three years is not good enough for the likes of him – it’s like a slap on the wrist.
‘The court system is skewed and this latest stretch is obviously no deterrent for him. He thinks he can do whatever he wants.’
Bosanko’s first major entanglement with the law came in 1998 when he was accused of disposing of a knife and gloves used in the murder of a drug dealer. He was acquitted of perverting justice but six months later killed father-of-three Sajad Ahmed.
Bosanko, of Ribbleton, Preston, was out celebrating his 18th birthday and had bragged that he was ‘going to do someone’ as he wanted to ‘do life and be a big name’. Minutes later he punched Mr Ahmed, 22, to the ground outside a pub. The victim’s head hit the pavement and he died from a fractured skull.
Bosanko was initially charged with murder but in June 1999 his guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted and he was jailed for six years.
The sentence was later reduced on appeal to four and a half years and with good behaviour he was freed on licence in February 2002.
In June of that year Nicola Shalloe, who had beaten cancer, met Bosanko after she and some friends left a nightclub in Preston and accepted a lift from him. The Escort was driven at speeds of up to 80mph before smashing into a lamppost, fatally injuring Nicola.
Bosanko was jailed for three and a half years yet freed after serving less than two years.
After several minor matters he was hauled back before the courts for driving while disqualified but absconded before being arrested on a warrant. He was jailed again in July 2008 and has since served a further term for theft.
In his latest crime, Lancashire Police said Bosanko and three friends were involved in various break-ins in which £7,000 worth of cigarettes were stolen from supermarkets across Preston, Blackpool and Lancaster from October 2011 to February 2012.
Golf clubs and other equipment valued at around £9,000 were also stolen in Knott End, Lancashire.
Bosanko and Nicholas Maxwell, 26, of Fulwood, Jamie Maxwell, 21, of Preston and John Horn, 21, all admitted burglary and attempted burglary. Nicholas Maxwell and Horn were sentenced to three years, as was Bosanko, while Jamie Maxwell was jailed for two years.
British High Schools students could miss out on top marks as exam boards ‘fix’ grades to stop year-on-year rise of pass rate
Pupils expecting GCSE or A-level results this summer could miss out on top grades after exam boards were told to fix pass rates and grades to match last year.
The move, outlined in a policy document from the exams regulator Ofqual, is intended to halt year-on-year rises in exam success after the pass rate soared for the 29th year in a row last summer.
This comes after exam boards were heavily criticised for making errors in papers and handing out unfair grades, as 220,000 pupils battled for just 40,000 university places.
However, critics claim it could stop exam-takers from reaching the highest grade that they could have done in other years.
This is the first year in which ‘comparable outcomes’ will be used in both GCSEs and A-levels.
Results will be predicted based on previous cohorts and the past performance of the exam takers – so at A-level, GCSE grades will be taken into account, and at GCSE level, markers will look at pupils’ results from SATs tests aged 11.
An Ofqual document said of the method: ‘If we aim for comparable outcomes, roughly the same proportion of students will achieve each grade as in the previous year….. If necessary we will require exam boards to change their grade boundaries.’
Teachers have claimed the move is a return to ‘norm referenced’ A-levels, in which a fixed 10 per cent of pupils would be awarded an A grade each year.
Since this was scrapped in 1987, the percentage of A grades has risen from 10 per cent to 27 per cent and the pass rate has gone up from 70 per cent to 97.8 per cent.
Exam boards received a record number of complaints last year, with 200,000 resubmitting their papers for remarking.
A-levels results will be released on 16 August this year, with GCSE results coming out on 23 August.
Nansi Ellis, head of education policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: ‘If Ofqual is just ensuring consistency in exam standards with last year then that is good news.
‘However, we would be concerned if any changes mean that students don’t get awarded the grades their hard work merits if the grades have been set so that a fixed percentage of students are awarded A*s and As.’
But Ofqual’s chief executive Glenys Stacey insists genuine improvements in teaching and learning standards will still be recognised.
The policy of ‘comparable outcomes’ was in fact introduced at A-level last year and was one of the reasons A* grades only rose from 8.6 per cent to 8.7 per cent.
Headteachers have warned it will make it impossible to deliver on Education Secretary Michael Gove’s demand schools increase the percentage of A* to C grade passes at GCSE in maths and English.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: ‘We are determined to raise standards across the board. It is vital that all pupils get the grades their work deserves.
‘Ministers have been clear that it is only fair to every hard-working young person that there is no grade inflation or dumbing down in the exams system.’