Geriatric and mental health wards threatened by NHS cuts
David Cameron faces a growing backlash against NHS cuts and the closure of A&E departments as it emerges that specialist dementia, mental health and geriatric wards are also under threat.
More than 140 senior doctors attacked the policy in an open letter to Mr Cameron this weekend, claiming that the spate of A&E closures would put the lives of vulnerable people at risk.
The experts spoke out after the Telegraph revealed that 10 per cent of A&E departments have either recently closed or could be shut or downgraded under existing plans, along with 18 maternity and 11 paediatric wards.
Now this newspaper has found further evidence of recent or planned closures which will hit several other key areas of care across England’s 300 acute hospitals.
Mental health wards are being closed or significantly cut back at eight hospitals, while four units specialising in care for elderly patients have fallen victim to the cuts.
Services catering for elderly and disabled patients at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough and Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot, are being relocated to Prospect Park hospital in Reading in one example of the move.
Two dementia wards and others catering for patients with diabetes, stroke victims and people with heart problems were also among services being slashed at hospitals aross the country.
It comes as official figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 43 hospital patients starved to death and 111 died of thirst on NHS wards last year.
The figures, which raise new questions about the quality of care in hospital wards, reveal that a further 287 patients were malnourished at the time of their death, and 558 were very dehydrated.
A similar situation was occurring at care homes last year, where eight people died from a lack of food last year and 21 from thirst.
Patients in hospitals and care homes also died with a variety of avoidable conditions including bed sores, skin ulcers and septicaemia, which normally occurs in people with infected wounds.
Michelle Mitchell of Age UK described the figures as “deeply distressing” and said hospital and care home staff must be trained to spot the warning signs of malnutrition.
The spate of hospital ward closures is part of an attempt to reduce department numbers in favour of creating fewer, better-staffed units at larger hospitals, with the aim of cutting costs and improving night and weekend care.
But in their open letter this weekend 140 leading doctors, including Prof Sir David Weatherall, a former Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, and Peter Fisher, president of the NHS Consultants’ Association, said there was nothing to suggest the changes would benefit patients.
They told the Prime Minister: “We are not against change. But such change must be driven by genuine improvements in clinical care and service efficiency rather than as part of an indiscriminate cuts policy.
“We urge you to take seriously the concerns of the many professionals and patients over the serious risk these A&E reforms pose to people’s health.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “Caring for older people is a priority for this Government, as has been shown by the increased funding that has been provided to improve services.
“Any changes to services should have the interests of local people at their heart and must involve local healthcare organisations, doctors, nurses and other health professionals.”
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “Before they even talk about remodelling health services, they have to commit to investing. Huge investment is needed.
“At a time we know that money’s tight, is that funding actually going to arrive? We’ve got to be honest about this, and have an open debate.”
“The Guardian’s” struggle with antisemitism
History embarrasses them but they cannot help themselves
The Guardian made an unusual admission this week. In a piece titled “On averting accusations of anti-Semitism,” the paper’s Readers’ Editor, Chris Elliott, acknowledged (or at least partly acknowledged) that The Guardian had a problem with anti-Semitism.
The paper likes to think of itself as a bastion of liberalism, fairness and anti-racism, and most Guardian staff would probably acknowledge that anti-Semitism is one of, if not the, most deadly forms of racism in history.
“Guardian reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant about the language they use when writing about Jews or Israel,” wrote Elliott.
He added that Guardian writers should have avoided “references [this year] to Israel/US ‘global domination’ and the term ‘slavish’ to describe the US relationship with Israel; and, in an article on a lost tribe of Mallorcan Jews, what I regarded as a gratuitous reference to ‘the island’s wealthier families’.”
However, Elliot added, “I don’t believe their appearance in The Guardian was the result of deliberate acts of anti-Semitism: they were inadvertent.”
I worked with Elliot in another context earlier this year and found him to be a fair-minded editor. But, being very much a “Guardian man,” he may not fully realise that the examples he cites in his piece are only the tip of the iceberg. The coverage of Israel in The Guardian and other British and European newspapers is all too often tinged with anti-Semitism.
Perhaps more damaging than the overt examples of The Guardian’s anti-Semitism that Elliot provides, is the paper’s long track record of being at or near the forefront of efforts to demonize the Jewish state: its decades’ long policy of greatly exaggerating any wrongdoing by Israel while ignoring, downplaying or even romanticizing attacks on her.
So, for example, while The Guardian has run highly provocative and unfair headlines such as “Netanyahu turns to Nazi language,” (July 10, 2009) or “Israel simply has no right to exist” (Jan. 3, 2001) and while its writers have used very insulting terms such as “proto-fascist” (Feb. 12, 2009) to describe the Israeli cabinet, the paper takes a very different approach to those who have murdered Israelis.
It ran a front page article, for instance, describing Yasser Arafat (known to many as the “father of international airline terrorism”) as “cuddly” and “erotic,” adding that “the stubble on his cheeks was silky not prickly. It smelt of Johnson’s Baby Powder” (Nov. 12, 2004).
Hamas master terrorist Nizar Rayan, who directed suicide bombers (including his own son) to murder and injure dozens of Israeli civilians, and who described Jews as a “cursed people” whom Allah changed into “apes and pigs,” was portrayed in The Guardian as someone who was “highly regarded” and “considered a hero” (Jan. 3, 2009).
The paper’s deputy editor Katharine Viner (best-known for co-writing the propaganda play “My Name Is Rachel Corrie,” and twice named as British Newspaper Magazine Editor of the Year), wrote in The Guardian about Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled, who hijacked and then blew up TWA Flight 840:
“The gun held in fragile hands, the shiny hair wrapped in a keffiah, the delicate Audrey Hepburn face refusing to meet your eye.”
I don’t think the families of Khaled’s many victims would have compared her to Audrey Hepburn.
When The Guardian does report on anti-Semitism, it often “balances” this with coverage that is highly insensitive to Jews. For example, when marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, The Guardian published a lead editorial, titled “Holocaust Memorial Day: Eternal memory” with an accompanying commentary by former Oxford University professor Terry Eagleton, in which he justified suicide bombing “in Israel” and likened suicide bombers to their victims. (Unsurprisingly, the piece was reprinted the following day in the Saudi paper Arab News and appeared on radical Moslem websites.)
Taken singly these examples may not denote anti-Semitism, but collectively they amount to a pattern that comes close to doing so.
Indeed it is not surprising that, with its skewered, often inflammatory reporting on Israel, The Guardian has become the paper of choice not just for liberals, but for anti-Semites to leave comments at the foot of articles on its website.
Israel should by all means be criticised. Indeed Israel as a democracy welcomes criticism.
The Israeli media is one of the most self-critical in the world. It scrutinizes Israeli society, including its security forces, to a much greater extent than any British paper has scrutinized the conduct of the British military in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere; or the New York Times has scrutinized the conduct of America’s armed forces in Afghanistan.
The Guardian should not hold Israel up to impossibly high standards. It is no good publishing blatantly untrue headlines replete with historic anti-Semitic motifs (such as “Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs”) even when the paper later changed the headline online, citing “a serious editing error.” (“Corrections and Clarifications,” The Guardian, December 22, 2009.)
Such headlines and reporting should never have appeared in the first place.
British sports college bans parents from watching competitive matches because of ‘child protection rules’
Parents wanting to watch their children play sport at a specialist sports college have been banned from attending home matches
Teachers at the 1,280-pupil Lea Valley High School in Enfield, north London, wrote to parents at the start of term, telling them the decision had been made because of ‘child protection rules’.
The school, which became a specialist sports college in 2002, has links with top football, rugby and hockey clubs, with several ex-pupils on the books of Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
School bosses at Lea Valley High School are defending the policy of banning parents from watching their children play in home games, saying it was not a case of ‘health and safety gone mad’
School bosses at Lea Valley High School are defending the policy of banning parents from watching their children play in home games, saying it was not a case of ‘health and safety gone mad’
In a letter to parents from Laura Hunt, the director of physical education at the comprehensive school, she said that parents and carers were banned from the school grounds during home matches against other schools.
She said: “We appreciate that parents/carers may wish to come along and watch and support their children.
‘However, as a school staff, we have a duty of care to our students and have to ensure that appropriate safeguarding and children protection policies are adopted, implemented and monitored.
‘As such, for our students’ safekeeping, we must state that we cannot permit parents/carers or other adults on site at these times, and hope that you will understand and support us in this decision.’
One father, who asked not to be named, said ‘I have never heard anything so stupid.
Parents have slammed the touchline ban, saying that a school which specialises in sport should ‘back parents to the hilt’ in supporting their children.
‘A school which specialises in teaching children sport should back parents to the hilt if they want to come and watch their children play football, rugby, hockey or whatever it may be.
‘After the success of the Olympics you would have thought teachers would be supporting sporting success, not putting a dampener on it.”
Another parent, a mother-of-two, said she was ‘furious’ after reading the letter.
She said: ‘I’ve always supported my son playing football and used to cheer him on from the touchline, but now I’ve been told that I can’t because of child protection issues.
‘I simply cannot see what they are talking about – everyone knows everyone else and if some weirdo turned up we’d all know about it and confront them.’
She added: ‘Having a crowd cheering you on is an important part of sport and this decision is devastating to both children and parents.”
Another father said: ‘It’s a hysterical reaction – why is everybody treated as if they are a criminal?’
Among the former pupils now playing professionally include former Arsenal player Paul Rodgers, now with Northampton Town, Ahmed Abdulla, of West Ham but currently on loan to Swindon Town, and Josh Scowen, of Wycombe Wanderers. It also produced sisters Rosie and Mollie Kmita, who play for Tottenham Hotspur Ladies FC.
School bosses, however, defending the policy this week, saying it was not a case of ‘health and safety gone mad’.
Head Janet Cullen said:’The safety of young people is paramount.
Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to supervise groups of parents and friends who wish to spectate.
‘Matches are held through the goodwill of our staff, which we obviously wish to promote – particularly with the national focus on encouraging young people to participate in competitive sport post the Olympics.’
According to the school website ‘PE is at the centre of the curriculum’, stating: ‘We have strong partnerships with many organisations including Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and their foundation project and Saracens Rugby Club through our use of the RFU community sports scheme.
‘Lea Valley High School has outstanding facilities which include a sports hall, gymnasium, dance studio, astroturf, hard courts, playing fields and a state of the art fitness suite.
‘These are used extensively in our extra-curricular provision and by our local community to develop performance.’
Debunking climate propaganda earns you a ‘fail’ in British exam
Two weeks ago I described one of this year’s A-level General Studies papers which asked candidates to discuss various “source materials” on climate change. Drawn from propaganda documents wholly biased in favour of climate alarmism, these contained a plethora of scientific errors. I suggested that, if any clued-up students tore these “sources” apart as they deserved, they might have been given a “fail”.
Sure enough, an email from the mother of just such a student confirmed my fears. Her son is “an excellent scientist” who got “straight As” on his other science papers, but he is also “very knowledgeable about climate change and very sceptical about man-made global warming”. His questioning of the sources earned an “E”, the lowest possible score. His mother then paid £60 for his paper to be re-marked. It was judged to be “articulate, well-structured” and clearly well-informed, but again he was marked down with “E” for fail.
This young man’s experience speaks volumes about the way the official global-warming religion has so corrupted our education system that it has parted company with proper scientific principles. In his efforts to reform our dysfunctional exam system, Michael Gove should ask for this bizarre episode to be investigated.
Rays of hope as Britain switches to new light bulbs and a grey autumn
Now there is a full ban, a strange, grey spell has been cast over the house – but there may be a solution
Light. Is that so much to ask for? On these autumnal evenings, as I cycle back from the office in the dark, I dream of a cosy home, glowing with rosy-cheeked children and rooms lit up with good cheer to welcome me.
But no. Each day, as I turn the key in the latch, I am reminded of the curse that has been inflicted upon our family.
A month after the final stage of the European ban on traditional light bulbs coming into force, the full horror of the legislation has cast its strange, grey spell. My home does not glow, the cheeks of the children are not rosy, the cheer has been cancelled.
The ban has been a long time coming. First, 100-watt bulbs were phased out in 2009. Then, last year, the 60-watt bulb was switched off. In September came the final extinction of traditional lights, with 40-watt bulbs no longer allowed to be “placed on to the market”. Shops can sell any remaining stock, but they cannot order fresh incandescent products.
This will be the winter of my discontent, and no amount of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) can make it glorious summer.
I am prepared to accept that the brightness of these bulbs has improved in recent years, but they are still a poor, dim second best to the golden glow given off by a heated filament.
They are also unforgivably ugly, containing a bulky “starter plug” in the base, which means they protrude above lampshades, poking out their unwelcome bald heads like monks at a brothel.
But most of all it is the quality of the light they emit that upsets me. The CFL bulbs drape everything in a sickly pallor reminiscent of Romanian orphanages.
Every time I sit down to read a book, my heart sinks as the page reflects back a deathly, damp patch of bluish grey; it turns lovingly prepared food into something served up in a 24-hour carvery; a family game of Scrabble becomes supervised recreation hour at Pentonville Prison.
There was a Fast Show sketch that featured “Nice Johnny”, an amateur landscape painter, whose cheery demeanour would disappear the moment he took out his black paint. His mood would turn to dark despair as he proceeded to destroy his canvas and scream “black, black, all black”. Well, I am like him, pining for the moon that is weeping in a secret room.
What makes me most despondent is that this gloom seems unnecessary. I am not some flat-earther who thinks polar bears should be shot. I compost, I have lagged the loft, I switch off the television at night. However, the Carbon Trust calculates that an energy-efficient light bulb saves about 35kg of carbon dioxide emissions each year when compared with a standard bulb. This sounds like an awful lot, but it is no more than the emissions caused in the production of a 1kg pack of mince, or 24 litres of orange juice.
Good-quality light is a thing of wonder, but only since my home has been cast into the Stygian gloom have I fully appreciated its powers.
There is a 1962 public information film called “Power comes to Widecombe”, which showed the residents of a pretty Dartmoor village celebrating the switching on of electricity. Yes, in the same month as the Beatles had their first hit and James Bond suaved his way into our cinemas, parts of rural Britain were divorced from fast cars and pop music. In this corner of Devon, they relied on candles and oil lamps. How they cheered in the village hall when the switch was flicked! They even danced a jig.
After months of pond-like gloom, I too intend to recreate that Widecombe jig and make my house sparkle once again.
Luckily, my local ironmonger has started stocking “rough service” bulbs. These are a hard-wearing version of the traditional incandescent bulbs designed for electricians and builders, who were exempted from the ban. There is a label on the back saying: “Not suitable for household illumination”. But, of course, as the man who runs the shop tells me: “That’s there to exploit the loophole. And these bulbs are what customers keep asking for. People are coming in and buying 30 or 40 of them at a time.”
The man at the Energy Saving Trust, a body designed to convert all our homes to pallid, zero-carbon boxes, tells me that it would be irresponsible to encourage people to switch to these products. Then he concedes: “They are just as safe, in fact probably safer, than a standard bulb. But you better not quote me on that.”
I have stocked up. And will forgo steak and orange juice for a week.
Don’t sell jam in recycled jars… by order of Europe: Tradition of selling home-made preserves ‘breaches health and safety rules’
They are the backbone of church fetes, village fairs and jumble sales all around the country.
But the thousands who regularly sell their home-made jam, marmalade or chutney in re-used jars may have to abandon their traditions after a warning that they are breaching European health and safety regulations.
Legal advisers to Britain’s Churches have sent out a circular saying that while people can use jars for jam at home or to give to family and friends, they cannot sell them or even give them away as raffle prizes at a public event.
The circular from the Churches’ Legislation Advisory Service, which is chaired by the Bishop of Exeter, is pointedly headed: ‘Please take note: this looks like a spoof but it’s not.’
The advisers say the rules that are being breached are the snappily-titled EC Regulations 1935/2004 and 2023/2006, which prevent containers being re-used unless they are specifically designed for that purpose.
The Women’s Institute said it was offering similar advice on the re-use of jam jars to its 210,000 members. A spokesman said the news could send ‘a tremor through middle-England’ and the organisation was braced for a flurry of inquiries.
The Food Standards Agency said the rules had been introduced because there was a risk of chemicals leaching out of old containers and contaminating food, though it added that it was not aware that re-used jam jars were a safety hazard.
The agency said it was up to local authority environmental health officers to enforce the regulations, and penalties can reach a maximum of a £5,000 fine, six months’ imprisonment, or both.
The news will alarm the growing number of jam-makers inspired by model Kate Moss, who makes damson jam out of fruit from her Cotswolds estate, and the Duchess of Cambridge, who keeps pots to give away to friends.
Mary Berry, the star of the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off, said: ‘This is absolutely stupid. It is just going too far. ‘We are encouraging people to save money by using fruits to make chutneys and jam, and if they have to buy new jars it will become much too expensive. It’s daft.’
The rules are also causing consternation in churches that rely on the hundreds of thousands of pounds raised from fetes and bazaars.
The Rev Derek Williams, a spokesman for the diocese of Peterborough, said enforcing the rule ‘would be a blow to fundraising events for all sorts of voluntary organisations’.
He added: ‘It’s quite ridiculous, as selling home-made jams and chutneys has always been a traditional and important part of fundraising for church groups and others. ‘Older people in particular, or those not terribly well-off, have never been shy of making a few pots and giving that away. ‘People will offer their home-made jam when perhaps they can’t give anything else.’
Mr Williams said he had never heard of anyone falling ill from eating jam from a re-used jar, adding: ‘There must be a sensible balance between health and safety and something that has happened without incident for centuries.’
Canon Michael Tristran, of Portsmouth Cathedral, said: ‘On realising this was not a belated April Fool’s joke, I was very anxious, not only from the fundraising point of view for all our churches, but also because it goes against the green agenda of recycling.’
The WI said anyone using old jars should sterilise them by washing them and drying them in an oven on a low heat.