Patient turned away from hospital for life saving surgery THREE TIMES because there were no available beds
A heart patient was forced to travel 450 miles to and from hospital for life-saving surgery – only for it to be cancelled THREE TIMES. Stephen Jones, 62, was turned away three times in two weeks after taking three 150-mile round trips to hospital for heart bypass surgery.
He is now patiently waiting for a major operation to replace a failing heart valve after being sent home untreated on August 24, 31 and September 5.
Mr Jones, who suffers from heart disease, angina, asthma, emphysema and clinical depression, has said how exhausted he is by the repeated setbacks. The former health and safety consultant, from Tiverton, Devon, said: ‘I’m exhausted mentally and physically. ‘I’ve been backwards and forwards, building myself up again and again.
‘Each time I go into hospital I have to arrange for a friend to come and stop at mine to look after my two dogs while I am in hospital. ‘I have to arrange for my son to drive me in and pick me up.
‘This is, including me, three people that are affected directly by this situation. ‘I myself have had to prepare mentally for this operation each time only for that preparation to be dashed.’
Mr Jones, who has to travel to Derriford hospital in Plymouth, said he does not blame hospital staff, but the NHS restructuring putting increased pressure on services.
He was diagnosed with heart disease in 1996 following a heart attack. He was admitted to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on August 10 after suffering chest pains and disorientation.
After being told his heart had ‘two years left in it’, he was referred to Derriford’s specialist heart unit for an operation on August 24. However, the operation was cancelled on the day at 4pm, after Mr Jones had gone 16 hours without food in preparation.
He was then told to return on August 31, which he did, however, it was cancelled again after his operation was dropped due to urgency, despite Mr Jones having endured another 12 hours of fasting.
It was then rescheduled for a third time – to September 6. But when he arrived at the hospital the day before the procedure he was informed the surgery had been cancelled yet again.
Mr Jones said: ‘My last thee experiences in Derriford have left me dispirited. ‘Not because of the staff, who have been really exceptional, but the way that the NHS is being tinkered with to make it unworkable. ‘Over the last eighteen months I seen a deterioration in the provision, not a drop in standards but a state of stretching of resources.’
His next surgery date has been set for this Thursday.
Hospital managers said they were ‘extremely sorry’ for the triple rescheduling, which was due to emergency cases limiting intensive care beds.
A Derriford Hospital spokeswoman said staff are doing their best to ensure that the procedure planned for September 13 takes place as planned. She said: ‘We are extremely sorry that Mr Jones’ planned operation has been rescheduled on three separate occasions and sincerely apologise for the inadvertent distress and inconvenience caused to Mr Jones and his family for these instances.
‘Unfortunately the availability of our intensive care beds was limited due to emergency patients and some patients requiring more complex care than predicted, hence experiencing a longer recovery.’
Britain: ‘Racist’ remark about red hair?
Red hair is found throughout Northern Europe so I wonder what “race” is involved? As a result of past invasions by lively Northern Europeans, you can also find red hair among Italians. I knew a red-haired Northern Italian once.
My father was a redhead (known as “Bluey”) and my son has a red beard. If anyone suggested that it was a burden to have a “Bluebeard” as a son I would simply reply that it is in fact something I am most pleased about
But uptight England is a place where red hair tends to be looked down upon — probably because red hair is rather common among the Scots and the Irish, whom the English have fought many wars with
A bank has been forced to apologise and pay compensation to a customer who was insulted by a member of staff – for being ginger.
Redhead Laura Payton, 32, was stunned when a worker at her local Halifax branch quipped: ‘I bet your daughter is glad she isn’t ginger like you.’
After leaving the bank, furious Laura called to make a complaint describing what had been said as ‘completely unacceptable’ and a ‘form of racism.’
Since the incident on July 4, the angry mother-of-two says she has repeatedly called Halifax’s complaints department to chase up the grievance. She eventually received £150 and a letter of apology – after being offered just £25 by the branch manager.
U.K. Aims to Slash Red Tape; Entrepreneurs Call for Easier Immigration
A U.K. government drive to scrap red tape has been welcomed by industry, but for digital start-ups, its impact was more restrained, with immigration seen as a bigger obstacle.
The recently appointed U.K. business minister, Michael Fallon, visited White Bear Yard, the offices of VC Passion Capital, seemingly the venture capitalist of choice for U.K. royalty and politicians, to drive home the government’s commitment to helping small businesses.
Mr. Fallon said of the more than 20,000 regulations covering businesses, only 6,500 “really have impact.” The government has targeted 3,000 regulations to be cut, or reduced, by the end of 2013.
“It is the first time we have ever had a target like that,” he said. “Governments have talked about cutting red tape before; we are serious about this.”
While larger companies may benefit from the elimination of onerous health and safety regulations, which appear to be the focus of the government’s initiative, digital start-ups were less impressed.
Alistair Hill, co-founder of On Device Research, one of the companies in White Bear Yard, said he had struggled to think of what serious red tape he had encountered. “Setting up the company was simple, [I] went online and pushed a few buttons,” he said.
But there was one key area where Mr. Hill, like many entrepreneurs, called for government action: hiring people from outside of the European Union.
“We wanted to hire someone who had an MBA and a stats degree from Brazil. It was utterly stupid. She had the operational experience, the maths and the business acumen to be the ideal employee for us,” he said. “If there was one thing I could change it would be this. It is utterly insane we can’t hire people from non-EU countries easily.”
It was a point made by Dan Crow, chief technology officer of Songkick, who said recently that while new regulations aimed at attracting entrepreneurial talent from outside Europe had made it easier, it was still too difficult.
Mr. Fallon said there was provision to bring people in “but there is an overall government target to get immigration down—and we are committed to that. The business department can’t escape its responsibility—we are all committed to reduce the overall total on immigration.”
BBC resists calls to have atheists on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day ‘God Slot’
Atheists will not be invited to speak on the BBC’s religious programme, Thought for the Day, despite repeated calls by secular groups.
The corporation’s head of religion, Aaqil Ahmed, said he had reviewed Radio Four’s ‘God slot’ in response to complaints that it was ‘too religious’. But he also concluded the sermon featured on the Today programme was intended to provide a religious perspective on the news and should not include people of no faith.
‘We should always analyse whether we should continue with something and in the last year or two we’ve had had some very detailed thoughts about this and we’ve decided to continue as was,” revealed Mr Ahmed in an interview with The Telegraph.
The decision is likely to upset campaigners, including the National Secular Society (NSS), which has for many years called on the BBC to change the Thought for the Day format.
The programme features a religious leader speaking each morning from Monday to Saturday.
The group argues that the slot contradicts the BBC’s ethos of ‘fairness, balance and a voice for everyone in the country.’
On its website, the NSS stated: ‘Only on this programme are such controversial views allowed to pass unchallenged.
‘We argue that this contradicts everything that the BBC is supposed to stand for: fairness, balance, a voice for everyone in the country and for a wide range of views to be made available to all.’
Mr Ahmed revealed his decision ahead of BBC Re:Think 2012, an inaugural two-day conference on religion and ethics in Britain, which will be hosted by the corporation in Salford this week.
At the conference, the BBC will unveil new figures showing that the number of people in Britain who affiliate with a religion has dropped from 68 per cent in 1983 to 53 per cent last year.
The survey also revealed a divide between the generations, with 77 per cent of people over 66 describing themselves as religious, compared to just 35 per cent among 18 to 25-year-olds.
This week’s event will feature the Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, in conversation with atheist Professor Richard Dawkins, as well as appearances from Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor, Ruth Pitt, head of Factual Tiger Aspect, and Lina Prestwood, commissioning editor for Channel 4.
Speaking about the conference, Mr Ahmed, who became the corporation’s first Muslim appointed as head of religious programming in 2009, said: ‘BBC Re-Think 2012 is the place where those at the heart of faith, politics and philosophy can meet, and discuss the role of faith and ethics in modern society and the challenges facing us in the 21st Century.
‘It’s an exiting development and something that fills a gaping hole in the understanding of religion in the world today.’
On Wednesday, Mr Ahmed will take part in a debate with television executives called, ‘Rethinking the God slot’.
He is expected to explain the BBC wants to appeal to a broad audience with its output of religious programmes – including atheists.
And while he will retain traditional programmes, such as Songs of Praise, he will also commission shows dealing with people of all different beliefs and faiths.
Dead Good Job, which begins this week, is a documentary showing the work of undertakers across different communities and people of no faith.
Nudging is a new way of talking about an old idea: that people do not act in ways that are best for them, and should be helped along by their betters. Understandably, this is a popular idea – most of us think that other people are very stupid, and people drawn to politics often think they have the right ideas for other people.
Many people like the idea of nudging because it isn’t as extreme as old-fashioned paternalism – they don’t want to force you not to eat so much, they just want to move chocolate oranges away from the checkout counter.
But seemingly-small nudges can have big implications about how we view the individual’s relationship with the world. Making organ donation the default means that your body by default belongs to the state or to society, not to yourself. Making military service something we have to opt out of would do the same thing.
Nudging food companies into cutting salt or sugar input is not benign at all. Companies who comply with government do so because if they don’t, a much less voluntary approach will come sooner or later. Government may nudge softly but it always carries a big stick.
Much of the argument for Nudging comes from a misunderstanding of why people are libertarians.
If you have built your models of the world around a wealth-maximising homo economicus, nudging is a godsend. The model of economics that is based on all-seeing wealth-maximisers is a very silly one.
If you thought that that was the best or indeed only argument for leaving people be, you would indeed be quite excited by Nudging after you had discovered how silly your views of human beings were. Here we can use the wisdom of government to correct the folly of man.
But the chief problem with government intervention in our lives – whether it is Nudging or direct paternalism – is not that it interferes with homo economicus, but that government is usually a lot worse than we are at knowing what is good for us. This is true on two levels.
The first is that government can be very ignorant of the consequences of its actions, and what makes government different from private action is that it is a collective approach.
A government nudge to do something will necessarily affect everybody, so if it makes a mistake, the problem will be compounded across society.
There are countless examples of seemingly-good government nudges that have turned out to have very bad unintended consequences:
Bicycle helmet laws and ‘nudging’ public information initiatives that seemed like a no-brainer have resulted in more deaths, possibly because drivers act more recklessly and fewer cyclists take to the roads.
The food pyramid that was used to ‘nudge’ people into eating right advised people to eat between six and eleven servings of bread, pasta, cereal and rice a day, things we now think may make us fatter and less healthy.
After the Potters Bar train crash, trains were slowed down to a crawl in some areas to avoid more crashes. The unintended consequence was that more people took to the roads to get to work on time – and driving is significantly more fatal than train-riding. By trying to make trains safer the government almost certainly caused more people to be maimed in car accidents.
Bank regulation in the 1990s and 2000s that was intended to make banks act prudently drove them to take on much of what was then thought of as the safest debt – mortgages, government bonds, and triple-A rated securities.
The list goes on.
Government and the experts it listens to are no less at risk of making errors than ordinary people. When government makes certain ‘good things’ a matter of policy, one mistake can have society-wide consequences. Governments are blind to individual circumstances.
The second meaning of the idea that the government doesn’t know what’s good for us is that there is no objective standard of what is good for us.
Some of us choose to act in ways that other people regard as being very silly. Some of us like to smoke, because we judge the pleasure we take from smoking to outweigh the costs of doing so. Some of us may not care about the down-sides as much as others do – hence, some people smoke, and others do not.
Many fat people do not care that they’re fat, especially when it comes as a consequence of being able to enjoy their favourite foods whenever they want. Like beauty, what I find pleasurable may be repugnant to you. What’s fun is subjective.
It hardly needs to be said that ‘living longer’ is just one criterion of many that people value. When we try to nudge people into behaving in certain ways, we necessarily try to define other people’s idea of a good time.
So we are pushed into drinking less, eating better, cycling everywhere and giving up smoking altogether. Wholesome activities are promoted. Healthy sports are encouraged, promiscuous sex and watching pornography are discouraged.
Why? What is the objective standard by which these things are deemed good and bad? There isn’t one. Or, rather, the standard is the policy-makers’ own preferences. Any nudge will end up being a promotion of policy-makers’ preferences onto other people. In a word: paternalism.
Nobody other than ourselves can know exactly how much pleasure we take from doing something. This is, fundamentally, the problem with all paternalism, including nudging.
Nudging is just a new term for the old idea that our rulers know what’s good for us. The chief argument for libertarianism is not that people are wealth-maximising machines. It is that nobody knows better than I do what makes me happy
British council ordered to move park benches from underneath trees in health and safety ruling… just in case branches fall on peoples’ heads
Just days after a health and safety report condemned ‘cotton wool culture’, over-zealous officers have ordered a council to remove park benches – in case a branch should fall on someone sitting there.
A council has been told to remove all park benches from under trees because of an ‘absurd’ health and safety regulation, an MP said today.
Tory Henry Smith said Crawley Borough Council has been told the benches pose a health and safety risk to anyone who sits on them.
The ruling came to light this summer after Pound Hill Residents Association asked for permission to build a circular bench under a tree in a refurbished community garden.
The association was told it would be in breach of health and safety guidelines.
Today, Mr Smith said he thought there must have been a mistake after an over-zealous official had misinterpreted the rules.
Speaking outside the Commons, he said: ‘Essentially what happened was that a local residents association wanted a circular bench around a tree in some new public gardens that were being refurbished.
‘But they were told they couldn’t have this circular bench around the tree because the council had been told they had to remove all park benches from underneath trees.
‘In my view this is clearly absurd. ‘There’s a risk to everything, whether it’s crossing the street or cooking in the kitchen. ‘It just seems to me to be an extreme example of health and safety advice gone mad.
‘It’s too early to apportion blame but my concern is that some official has misinterpreted the advice and it has resulted in this bizarre ruling. ‘I suspect it is the misinterpretation of advice rather than specific advice coming from the Health and Safety Executive.’
Mr Smith raised the issue in the Commons during the business statement.
In a question to new Commons Leader Andrew Lansley, he said: ‘Can I ask that consideration be given for a debate on over-zealous health and safety regulation? ‘Currently, my local authority of Crawley Borough Council has been told that they have to remove all park benches from underneath trees.’
Mr Lansley replied: ‘I hope you will not be surprised to know that we in Government over these last two and a half years have been actively working to ensure common sense is at the heart of how we apply health and safety regulations – that it is evidence-based and proportionate.’
Accepting lower grades from poorer students condemned by Cambridge University as ‘a cruel experiment’
Cambridge University said accepting poorer students with lower grades would be a ‘cruel experiment the could ruin lives’ as the institution came under increasing pressure to widen its social mix.
The university’s outgoing admissions director said it would resist calls to make ‘adjusted offers’ for less well-off students as Cambridge stepped into the row over ‘social engineering’.
It is just one of the elite universities being urged to admit students with lower grades from poorer backgrounds to match the number accepted from middle-class families.
Geoff Parks, who this month stood down from his 10-year stint as head of the Cambridge admissions office, said students who failed to achieve top A-level results could be doomed to failure.
He added that a lack of academic success could mean they would be ill-equipped to cope with the demands of Cambridge, it was reported.
Dr Parks told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘Our bottom line would be that it actually would be a really, really cruel experiment to take a bunch of students and hypothesise that they have what it takes to thrive at Cambridge and then see them fail because they don’t.
‘We have very high standards within the university and we do fail students in exams.’
He added: ‘None of us in good conscience want to be ruining people’s lives on some gut feel or political imperative based around getting votes or pandering to some particular bit of the populace.’
There is growing pressure to stop the middle-class dominance of higher education, with the government backing the custom of universities accepting students with lower entry requirements from deprived areas or poorly-performing schools.
Universities minister David Willets said earlier this year there would need to be a ‘renewed push’ to ensure universities were improving access in return for the government allowing them to charge up to £9,000 in tuition fees.
Taking Omega-3 every day could help children who have poor reading skills
No overall effect but by careful dredging through the data they found something they liked. You can usually do that but replicating it is the problem
Children with poor reading skills could have their performance boosted by taking daily supplements of fatty acids found in seafood and some algae, according to new research.
Scientists at Oxford University gave 600mg omega-3 fatty acid pills to 362 children aged seven to nine daily for 16 weeks.
Although there was no significant effect in the overall study sample, they found those whose reading skills were in the lowest fifth of the normal range improved their reading age by three weeks more that a group taking a placebo.
And in the group of children whose initial reading skills were in the lowest 10 per cent their reading age was improved by 1.9 months.
The study was funded by DSM Nutritional Lipids which makes omega-3 supplements but carried out independently by Oxford University.
Dr Alex Richardson, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford University, said: ‘Our results showed that taking daily supplements of omega-3 DHA improved reading performance for the poorest readers (those in the lowest fifth of the normal range) and helped these children to catch up with their peer group.’
Paul Montgomery, Professor of Psychosocial Intervention at the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford University, said: ‘Previous studies have shown benefits from dietary supplementation with omega-3 in children with conditions such as ADHD, Dyslexia and Developmental Coordination Disorder, but this is the first study to show such positive results in children from the general school population.’
However, while parents said their children had fewer behavioural problems, their teachers did not report similar improvements such as less hyperactivity and ‘opposition-defiant behaviour’.
And Michael Crawford at Imperial College London warned: ‘People working with children, on the brain, expect the brain to be manipulated in a period of 16 weeks. It’s a fundamental flaw.’