A third of patients say their GPs are so rushed they are worried they will be misdiagnosed
For most patients the GP is their first port of call when they fall ill. But a survey has revealed one in three think their local doctors are now so busy that they could be misdiagnosed.
The poll suggests these fears are well-placed with a quarter saying they had been wrongly diagnosed or knew someone who had been over the past five years.
However, only 56 per cent of those currently registered with a GP said they would be confident enough to challenge their doctor if they thought they were wrong.
Young adults were surprisingly even less likely to challenge their GP, with 64 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds saying they wouldn’t feel confident enough to speak up.
‘We’re all aware that GPs are under pressure; they are often overstretched and despite the level of skill that exists in this field, probably only have the capacity retain around 200 conditions and diseases in their memory out of the many thousands that exist, said Jason Maude, founder of Isabel Healthcare, which commissioned the survey of more than 2,000 adults.
‘This research suggests that there is a need to support and better equip both GPs and patients to help achieve a quicker and more accurate diagnosis through more effective communication and collaboration.’
The average GP consultation in England lasts just seven minutes, so to save time doctors advise patients to try get to the point quickly and be truthful – however embarrassing this may feel.
They also suggest you do some research at home but to arrive with a one-page summary of your findings rather than reams of information.
To this end Isabel Healthcare has developed an online symptom checker that allows patients to research possible diagnoses based on their symptoms.
The designers say the checker works by searching a database of 6,000 diseases and is far more accurate than Google in predicting an illness.
So searching for the symptoms – ‘itchiness’, ‘back ache’ and ‘red rash’ suggests drug allergy, contact dermatitis and Lyme Disease. Clicking on the condition takes you to other online sources with extra information, helping you to eliminate unlikely causes.
Sir Graeme Catto, President of the College of Medicine and former President of the GMC, said: ‘During my time as President of the GMC, I saw many cases of unfortunate diagnostic error.
‘With so many conditions and diseases that can be easily missed when assessing patients, there is a critical need for modern technology such as the Isabel Symptom Checker to help patients better understand the possible diagnoses that could be causing their symptoms and work in collaboration with their GPs.’
NHS wastes £7million on ‘sham’ consultation over A&E closures…as we reveal SIX more casualty units to be cut
NHS bureaucrats have spent £7 million on a consultation to close four accident and emergency departments – enough to keep at least one of them running for a year.
The extraordinary sum, described as ‘an expensive PR exercise’, came from taxpayers’ pockets despite there being huge opposition to the planned closures in North-West London.
It was spent in just 18 months and included nearly £3 million in fees to management consultancy firm McKinsey to work out the financial case for the closures.
Another £650,000 was paid to public relations company The London Communications Agency. The huge budget comes even though plans to close A&Es in the region are driven partly by financial concerns.
Campaigners have reacted furiously after learning the size of the consultation bill, which was revealed following a Freedom of Information request to NHS North West London.
Dr Onkar Sahota, chairman of the Save Our Hospitals campaign, said: ‘I am truly appalled. ‘Not only are NHS NW London proposing to shut some of our most-needed services, but they are spending over £3 million of our money on McKinsey consultants.
‘They are spending taxpayers’ money on this firm so that they can tell NHS NW London that local residents do not want it to happen. ‘I could have told them that for free.
‘We are in a ridiculous position where our money is being wasted on a sham consultation so that NHS managers and the Government can feel better about themselves.’
The proposals involve closing four of nine casualty units in the area and a formal period of public consultation ran from July until earlier this month.
The sum paid to McKinsey – which stands to make millions from the reforms by carrying out consulations around the country – was for staff to work out the financial cost and savings of the proposals.
The London Communications Agency was paid to distribute half a million leaflets, put adverts in local newspapers and organise meetings with about 200 affected individuals and organisations.
The money also included nearly £1.5 million for an office space and £25,000 on ‘sundries’ – which NHS North West London has not been able to explain in detail.
The whole budget for ‘communications’ rose from £231,000 during the build-up to the consultation in 2011/12 to £1.3 million during the six months from April 2012.
This includes producing 100,000 copies of an 80-page consultation form that was filled in and returned by just 16,000 people.
Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Residents will want to know that the consultation will genuinely listen to their views and it isn’t just an expensive PR exercise that they are paying for.’
McKinsey worked with the last Labour Government on health, recommending in 2009 that the NHS cut ten per cent of its staff.
Since the Coalition took office, it has been involved in an unprecedented number of projects.
Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: ‘This level of spending appears totally excessive at a time when patients are telling our helpline every day about increasing waiting times, the rationing of treatments and the closures of frontline services.’
In a statement, NHS North West London said: ‘The cost of this programme works out at less than £4 per person for the population of NW London, and represents just 0.2 per cent of the total £3.4 billion spent on healthcare there every year.
This programme will save hundreds of lives – and the value of that is incalculable.’
A Department of Health spokesman said the local NHS ‘must always have regard to value for money, and that money spent on management consultants is money not being spent on frontline patient care’.
More on anti-Branson bias in the British bureaucracy
Envy of success is very British — and Mr Branson is very successful
The Transport Department was biased against Sir Richard Branson’s bid to continue running the West Coast mainline, a damning interim report into the fiasco reveals today.
The independent investigation into the scandal highlights ‘significant errors’, ‘weak governance’, and a ‘flawed process’ in which ‘bidders were treated inconsistently’.
The contract to run the West Coast mainline franchise for 13 years was originally awarded to First Group over Virgin.
However, a legal challenge by Sir Richard cited significant flaws in the process forced the Government to abandon the decision and re-run the bidding.
The findings vindicate charges by Virgin and others revealed in the Daily Mail that there was an in-built bias against the Virgin bid which has been characterised as ‘ABB’, or ‘Anyone But Branson’…..
Derogatory emails about Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains were allegedly sent between civil servants.
The messages were between a dozen staff at the Department for Transport, which has been accused of allowing the development of a culture characterised as ‘ABB – Anyone But Branson’.
The Government awarded the new £7billion franchise to FirstGroup, but cancelled it before the planned handover in December after Sir Richard’s Virgin group, which offered £700million less, made a successful legal challenge on the grounds that the Government ‘got its sums wrong’.
An insider revealed: ‘There is electronic e-mail traffic between the officials. In some of them Virgin is referred to in derogatory terms. Some people sent these messages, others received them.’
Virgin executives had long been concerned about the perception of an ‘anti-Virgin’ bias and culture within the department characterised as ‘Anyone But Branson’.
Industry insiders said Whitehall officials – some of whom had worked for more traditional train operators – disliked the firm’s maverick approach.
There was allegedly deep resentment when Virgin renegotiated the terms of the West Coast franchise in 2006 on terms which ‘nailed them to the floor’.
‘Some people in the department felt they were stitched up,’ said one source. ‘It’s a catalogue of calamities.’
Three civil servants have been suspended by the Departmernt as a result of the fiasco.
Half of all burglars are not sent to prison in Britain, even though most have many prior convictions
Burglars with a string of previous convictions are being spared jail, prompting calls for Ministers to toughen up on sentencing.
New figures show the average burglar now has 12 break-ins to their name, the highest number ever recorded. More than 3,000 convicted last year had been found guilty at least 20 times before.
Despite this, half the burglars were given fines or community sentences rather than being sent to prison.
The revelation has led to demands that the Government honours its promise to get tough on law and order, after Prime Minister David Cameron encouraged homeowners to ‘bash a burglar’ and said all community sentences should have a ‘punitive’ element.
The statistics were uncovered by Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, who said: ‘Anyone who has ever had their home burgled knows the terrible pain and misery this violation of private space causes.
The figures I have obtained confirm that the vast majority of burglars have committed numerous previous crimes, often with inappropriate sentences handed down. This will rightly shock Mail on Sunday readers.
‘Victims of burglary will ask why our criminal justice system is failing them. But for 29 months of David Cameron’s Government, all we’ve seen are stunts, smokescreens and rehashed announcements.
‘We won’t stop burglaries by cutting police officers and reducing the power of judges.’
Burglary has been high on the political agenda for the past two months since a couple were arrested for fighting back against intruders who broke in to their isolated cottage in Leicestershire.
Andy Ferrie and his wife Tracey spent almost three days in police cells after Mr Ferrie blasted the gang with a shotgun, but the threat of charges was eventually dropped. The case prompted a vow by Conservative Ministers to clarify the law to give householders the right to defend their property against intruders unless they used ‘grossly disproportionate’ force.
The most senior judge in England and Wales, the Lord Chief Justice, has said burglary is a crime against the person as well as their property because it destroys victims’ peace of mind. But there was controversy last month when Judge Peter Bowers, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, told a burglar he would ‘take a chance’ and spare him jail, adding that it took a ‘huge amount of courage’ to break into someone’s house.
Figures released to Parliament by the Ministry of Justice show just how few burglars are jailed, despite many of them being career criminals. Of the burglary cases in 2011 where offenders were sentenced, just over half were sent to prison.
Others were fined, given absolute or conditional discharges, or community or suspended sentences.
In total, 3,437 burglars sentenced last year had more than 20 previous convictions to their names – twice as many as a decade ago.
Although thousands of burglars were spared prison, the total number of houses being broken into has fallen by half in recent decades, mainly as a result of better home security, dropping to 245,317 in 2011-12.
Nick de Bois, the Conservative MP for Enfield North and a member of the Justice Select Committee, supported Mr Khan’s call for tougher measures. He said: ‘The figures show that soft-touch sentencing for repeat offenders does not work.
‘If a criminal is given a second chance and goes on to burgle people’s homes again, they should face a long jail sentence.
‘Community sentences and short jail terms are not working.’
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘We are tackling the shamefully high reoffending rates by introducing a rehabilitation revolution.
‘Breaking in to someone’s home is a serious crime, and burglars face sentences of up to 14 years, or life sentences for aggravated burglary. There is also a mandatory minimum three-year sentence for offenders convicted of a third domestic burglary.
‘Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the independent judges.’
War on ‘holiday camp’ jail perks as British Prisons Minister calls for privileges to be earned through hard work and good behaviour
Outrageous prisoner perks look likely to be axed in a shake-up of cushy jail rules.
A full review – the first for more than a decade – will examine the lax regimes which allow inmates to lounge in their cells all day, watching daytime TV or playing video games.
Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright told the Daily Mail he was worried too many inmates were routinely handed ‘privileges’ they should have to earn through good behaviour and hard work.
He said: ‘I want to ensure that the public have confidence in the prison system. ‘It is crucial that they are assured that any privileges earned in prison are gained through hard work and appropriate behaviour.’ ‘I am looking closely at the policy around the incentives scheme for prisoners, which has not been fully reviewed since 1999.
‘There may be clear and important operational reasons for this policy but I want to be clear that these incentives are pitched at the right level and that they have credibility with the public.’
Currently, prisoners enter jail on a ‘standard’ regime, which automatically gives them certain entitlements, including in-cell television.
They are only bumped down to the basic regime if they step out of line. Each prison devises its own scheme for how privileges are handed out.
Inmates can ‘earn’ entitlements to in-cell television, more visits, higher pay when they work, the right to wear their own clothes and access to their own money. Inmates are offered a string of digital channels, including BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV3, Viva – a music channel – and Film 4. Prisons that are run by private companies, of which there are 11 in England and Wales, may provide Sky TV in prisoners’ cells. Some 4,000 convicts are understood to enjoy the perk.
One option under consideration would be to start inmates on basic and force them to work for extra perks.
The move marks a break from Mr Wright’s disastrous predecessor Crispin Blunt who was pilloried over his decision to allow taxpayer-funded prisoner parties and comedy workshops inside jails.
There have been complaints that prisons have become too soft and young criminals treat them like a ‘holiday camp’.
Brooke Kinsella, the Government’s knife-crime adviser whose 16-year-old brother Ben was stabbed to death in North London, said it was time jails were turned back into ‘places of punishment’.
Edward Boyd, from the think-tank Policy Exchange, says that perks such as free gym use and televisions in cells should be made available only to those inmates who work.
He called for all prisoners to be given access to work and for those who refused to have their privileges downgraded or removed.
Mr Boyd said: ‘Prisons are in desperate need of reform. The cornerstone of reform must be hard work.
‘It will make prison not only a better deterrent for criminals but also a far more successful intervention to stop future criminal behaviour.’
Recently a watchdog warned that too many prisoners were idling in their cells watching daytime TV, while prison workshops were left empty.
Chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick said that on a visit to Britain’s largest jail, Wandsworth prison in south west London, workshop facilities ‘stood almost empty and too many staff appeared indifferent about the prisoners in their care’.
Aspiring British teachers will have to complete tougher English and maths tests BEFORE they start training
Tests for trainee teachers will be radically toughened up to boost the calibre of staff entering schools. A review ordered by Education Secretary Michael Gove found that existing English and maths tests taken by applicants are too easy, with many questions pitched merely at the level of grade D at GCSE.
Changes to make the tests tougher will include a ban on using calculators in the maths test and a new writing exercise in English to assess vocabulary.
All applicants for teacher training will be required to sit the tests, which will be raised to standards equivalent to grade B at GCSE within three years.
Trainees will also have to sit a new reasoning test designed to assess their powers of logic and deduction. Verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning will be examined.
Good marks in the tests may be linked to higher bursaries under proposals being considered by ministers. Top graduates currently qualify for training incentives of up to £20,000.
Reports from Ofsted inspectors suggest some staff have a poor grasp of their subjects, leading to gaps in children’s knowledge. Yet 98 per cent of teacher trainees pass the current selection tests.
About one in five need to resit at least once in order to pass.
The review panel led by Sally Coates, principal of Burlington Danes Academy in West London, found some questions ‘are not sufficiently demanding, appearing to be in some cases below the level of GCSE grade C’.
In maths, the emphasis was on ‘simple’ calculations. In English, assessment of key skills was excluded.
Passing the numeracy test has been a requirement of Qualified Teacher Status since 2000, and literacy the following year.
Until last month, trainees only sat the tests towards the end of their courses. The new changes will be phased in from next September, with the reasoning test introduced from 2014.
Candidates will be limited to two resits. If they fail three times, they will be barred from applying for teacher training for two years.
British Conservatives’ Nightmare: Monster Power Bills Are A Guaranteed Vote-Loser
Consumers are having to bear the cost of big green subsidies. Rising bills are a guaranteed vote-loser, but the government is forging ahead with policies that make them unavoidable
Vincent De Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, hunched over the microphone, nervously thumbing a sheaf of papers.
“We are on the brink of delivering an infrastructure project similar in scale to the London Olympics,” he told the panel of MPs. “But like all investors in capital-intensive infrastructure projects, we need to have a compelling business case . . . We must be honest. We must expect the unit price of electricity to increase.”
It was not the first time de Rivaz had made a pitch for higher household energy bills. His appearance last week before the Commons energy and climate change committee was the latest in a long-running campaign to secure Britain’s first new nuclear plant in more than two decades.
EDF plans to spend £14 billion on two reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset. The quid pro quo demanded from the government is a guarantee that EDF will be able to charge well over double the current electricity price to ensure it makes money.
Negotiations about the final figure are in their closing stages and there could be an announcement by Christmas.
The nuclear guarantee is one of a raft of new charges being added to household bills. From carbon taxes to solar subsidies, the costs of Britain’s much-vaunted efforts to clean up the energy industry are feeding through to the customer.
It is a point the energy companies, including British Gas and Npower, were at pains to emphasise when they revealed another round of price increases this month. EDF announced a 10.8% rise last week, pushing the average annual dual-fuel bill to £1,334. Cue public outrage.
Seeking to quell the unrest, David Cameron made a rash pledge to force utilities to put households on their lowest-priced deals. John Hayes, the energy minister, quickly softened that stance.
The mixed messages are a sign of the wider conflict in Whitehall. Rising bills are a guaranteed vote-loser, but the government is forging ahead with policies that make them unavoidable.
Consider the case of British Gas. The average annual bill from Britain’s biggest utility rose by £183 between 2007 and 2011. Nearly one-third of that, £56, was a result of green taxes and related government-imposed charges. The rise in low-carbon fees represented a 60% jump — twice the rate of increase in the wholesale gas price, the biggest component of power bills.
That trend is gaining momentum. Andrew Horstead of Utilyx, the energy consultancy, said: “At the moment, about 55% of the bill is the commodity price, while the rest is green taxes and related costs. By 2020, you’ll see those percentages flip as the new charges feed through.”
The government’s controversial solar power subsidy is a good example. Greg Barker, the climate change minister, was forced into an embarrassing U-turn last year after the government was overwhelmed by interest in the feed-in tariff, which guarantees rates for electricity produced by solar panels.
Barker slashed the payout by more than 70% for large installations and by half for the smaller ones found on homes. Several solar panel producers and installers have sued the government over the cut. Even so, tens of thousands of people got in before the change took effect.
The upshot is that the government is locked in to paying hundreds of millions in solar subsidies for the next 25 years. That is the equivalent of an extra £2.19 on the £45 per megawatt hour (MWh) wholesale power price — a charge that did not exist a few years ago.
There are others. In April, the carbon price floor will kick in. This new emissions tax will require industrial plants, manufacturers and power producers to pay at least £15.70 for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit. The levy will rise every year, reaching £30 by 2020.
For householders, the carbon floor will translate into an estimated £2 per MWh of electricity. By 2020, that will rise to at least £14, according to Utilyx.
Next year will also see the main subsidy for pricey renewable technologies such as wind and biomass — renewable obligation certificates — rise slightly to £8.70 per MWh.
All of the above, of course, will be added to bills on top of any additional surge in the gas price, which has risen by a third in the past two years.
The government has done its best to play down the impact. Indeed, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has predicted the measures will actually lead to savings. It argues that widespread implementation of energy efficiency measures will reduce demand and therefore bills.
Blackout Britain is back
Memories of WWII. Now it’s the Green Nazis behind it
Huge swathes of Britain are being plunged into darkness as more and more streetlights are switched off by councils and roads authorities. Lights are being turned off on motorways and major roads, in town centres and residential streets, and on footpaths and cycle ways, as councils try to save money on energy bills and meet carbon emission targets. The switch-off begins as early as 9pm.
They are making the move despite concerns from safety campaigners and the police that it would lead to an increase in road accidents and crime.
The full extent of the blackout can be disclosed following an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph – which comes on the day that clocks moved back an hour, making it dark earlier in the evening – and found that:
* 3,080 miles of motorways and trunk roads in England are now completely unlit;
* a further 47 miles of motorway now have no lights between midnight and 5am, including one of Britain’s busiest stretches of the M1, between Luton and Milton Keynes;
* out of 134 councils which responded to a survey, 73% said they had switched off or dimmed some lights or were planning to;
* all of England’s 27 county councils have turned off or dimmed street lamps in their areas.
The vast majority of councils have chosen to turn lights off at night, at times when they say there is less need for them, while others have installed lamps which can be dimmed.
Local authorities say the moves helps reduce energy bills, at a time when energy prices are continuing to rise. Several of the big energy companies have unveiled price hikes in recent weeks, including British Gas, npower and EDF Energy – which this week said it was increasing its standard variable prices for gas and electricity customers by 10%.
Some councils expect to save hundreds of thousands of pounds by turning off lights at night or converting them to dimmer switches.
However some councils admit they may not see savings for another four or five years because of the cost of installing new lights, dimmer switches and complex control systems.
And some councils – as well as the Highways Agency, responsible for motorways and major A roads – say that the lights are being turned off to meet “green” targets to cut carbon emissions, by reducing electricity use.
Critics say that spending money to meet the targets is a poor use of public funds in a time of recession.
The increasing black-out was criticised last night by safety and motoring organisations, who said the economic and environmental benefits were being over-stated and warned that less street lighting would lead to more accidents and more crime.
A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “The presence of lighting not only reduces the risk of traffic accidents but also their severity. Surveys have show that the public are in favour of street lighting as a way of improving road safety and that, if anything, it needs to be improved in some areas.
“There are economic and environmental reasons why some organisations may wish to reduce the amount of lighting. However there are safety reasons why lighting needs to be available.”
Paul McClenaghan, commercial director at Halfords, said: “Poor lighting or none at all can make it very difficult for motorists to see hazards or objects clearly at night. Added to this Government figures show that road accidents increase in the week after the clocks change, so it is clear that extra vigilance is needed at this time of the year, from motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”
Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said: “We do know that most accidents happen in the dark, its also comforting for people, especially if they arrive back from somewhere in the night, when they have got a late train. There are also suggestions that it increases crime. So it may save money in terms of energy but then you have to look at the cost in terms of security, safety and accidents, it may actually be more. We have even heard that some milkmen are having more trips and falls, so it has had some implications you might not think about.
“Motorway drivers don’t like changing situations, from light to dark and dark to light, but I don’t think we would argue for no lighting at all. It is extremely comforting for drivers, especially in bad weather.”
The switch-off of motorway lights means that 70 per cent of the network is now unlit at night. Sections of the M1, M2, M27, M4, M48, M5, M54, M58, M6, M65 and M66 are now unlit from midnight.
One of the sections of the M1 is a 15-mile stretch from just north of Luton to the outskirts of Milton Keyns, one of the heaviest-used sections of any british road.
The Highways Agency said the full-switch off had saved it £400,000 last year, while reducing carbon emissions, and said it planned further blackouts.
Meanwhile 98 councils said they have switched off or dimmed lights, or planned to in the future.
In Shropshire, 12,500 – 70 per cent of the area’s lights – are now switched off between midnight and 5.30am, while Derbyshire County Council plans to turn off 40,000 lights at night. In Lincolnshire, some are turned off from as early as 9pm.
Leicestershire County Council expects to save £800,000 a year in energy bills by adapting one third of the country’s 68,000 street lights so that they can be dimmed or turned off at night.
Caerphilly in Wales no longer lights industrial estates overnight and Bradford dims 1,800 of its 58,000 street lights between 9.30pm and 5.30am.
However Worcestershire County Council postponed plans to switch off and dim lights after it found it would cost more money to implement the scheme than it would save. The authority currently pays £2 million a year to run 52,000 street lights but it found that to reduce that bill by £600,000 a year it would need to invest £3.4 million first. It is now running a trial to dim some lights before a final decision is made.
In many areas councils have received complaints from residents.
Caroline Cooney, an actress who complained to Hertfordshire County Council when the lights near her home in Bishop’s Stortford were switched off after midnight, said she faced a “black hole” when she returned home from working in the West End of London. “My street is completely canopied by large tress and I could not see my hand in front of my face,” she said.
Mrs Cooney, who appeared in Gregory’s Girl and who has also appeared in Casualty, said it was putting people in danger and the council was effectively imposing a “midnight curfew on residents who do not want to take the risk of walking home blind”.
“When I came out of the train station it was just like a black hole,” she said. “I simply cannot risk walking home in what is effectively pitch blackness.”
However the council told her it could not “provide tailored street lighting for each individual’s particular needs”
Ban on maverick historian overturned
Holocaust denial is rather mad so making it illegal just gives it credibility. Irving is however an extremely knowledgeable historian (he was the only historian who immediately picked the fake Kujau “Hitler Diaries” as fake) so he rattles people. I am pretty certain that his holocaust denial is just a “stir”, a publicity stunt. A few years ago, he referred to the color of his car as “n*gger brown”, and if that is not a stir, I don’t know what would be. He is a classic stirrer. He would seem to subscribe to the view that there is no such thing as bad publicity
Holocaust denier David Irving has won a surprise victory in a German court – thanks to the EU – that allows him entry into the country next year after overturning a ban that ran for another decade.
Irving, 74, has written a series of books about the Third Reich denying the historical evidence for the Holocaust of more than six million Jews during WW2.
A Munich court convicted and fined him in 1993 on a charge of insulting the memory of the dead after he disputed that the gas chambers at Auschwitz killed hundreds of thousands of Jews.
He told a group of right-wingers in 1993 that the Polish government built the chambers after the war to ‘show tourists.’ The Munich court imposed the entry ban at the same time as he was fined.
Irving applied last year for re-entry, but German authorities replied that he remained banned until 2022.
The administrative tribunal rejected this on Friday, ruling that this ban could not be upheld under European Union rules of free movement. This states: ‘The free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed to European Union EU citizens by the Treaties.
The voice for the voiceless speaks again
As evidenced by his vast viewership, British broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson speaks for a lot of people. And that popularity protects him from Britain’s vicious speech laws
Ed Miliband today accused TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson of ‘belittling’ people with mental health problems.
Mr Mililband said stars were wrong to make light of mental illness, as he unveiled plans to tackle what he called ‘the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age’.
He added: ‘Jeremy Clarkson, who may have at least have acknowledged the tragedy of people who end their own lives, goes on to call them “Johnny Suicides” whose bodies should be left on train tracks rather than delay journeys.
Jeremy Clarkson caused controversy last December after criticising people who kill themselves on train lines. The notorious presenter said that anyone who committed suicide in this way was ‘very selfish’ for traumatising train drivers and inconveniencing commuters.
He went on to label those who killed themselves ‘Johnny Suicide’.
Clarkson claimed that train drivers involved in these cases are ‘traumatised for life’, and complained that passengers would ‘have to sit around for hours’.
And he added that trains should not wait until all the remains of the body had been removed from tracks, saying that drivers should instead ‘get the train moving as soon as possible and let foxy woxy and the birds nibble away at the smaller, gooey parts that are far away and hard to find.’
You may not agree with him but there is no doubt that many people think similarly. Only Clarkson is allowed to say it though. Whether Clarkson actually means it or believes it himself is an open question. He too is an undoubted stirrer, witness his Indian train stunt.