Hospital slammed by health watchdog after child dies from medication error
The healthcare watchdog today demanded immediate improvement at a hospital where a ten-year-old child died amid allegations she was given the wrong medication.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) moved into disaster-hit Basildon University Hospital on November 3 following the tragic death. They also investigated reports a second child had become seriously unwell after being given out-of-date medication.
Now the watchdog has warned the hospital to sort out its ‘unacceptable’ paediatric services to avoid heavy fines – or being shut down. Worryingly, the hospital was slapped with the same warnings just four months ago in its adult services.
The latest CQC inspection found out-of-date medication that should have been discarded during its previous visit.
Inspectors also discovered ill children who should be seen a doctor within 15 minutes were regularly waiting up to an hour.
Andrea Gordon, CQC deputy director of operations, today said that change at the blighted hospital was ‘imperative’. She said: ‘What our inspectors found at the trust on 3 November was completely unacceptable. ‘We have taken this action to assist in driving through improvements which have a positive impact on the people being cared for at the hospital.
‘It is imperative that the trust now ensures it makes changes which are sustainable, embedded and maintained for the future.’
She added: ‘It is highly disappointing that the trust is again in breach of the same two regulations albeit in relation to different parts of the service it offers. ‘That is why we have asked the trust to look deeper at its own processes, policies and procedures by commissioning an investigation.
‘We have been working closely with our partner agencies with regard to the trust and our concerns about it.
‘The trust has already given us assurances of what action it intends to take and we will be closely monitoring its progress on the improvements it needs to make.
‘Our inspectors will return in the near future and if we find the required progress is not made we won’t hesitate to use our legal powers to protect the people who use this service.’
The little girl believed to have been given out of date medication was transferred to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, where she died.
A Basildon University Hospital spokesman said the second child continued treatment at Basildon Hospital and suffered ‘no long term damage.’
Sources at the hospital claimed incorrect or out of date medication was dispensed by staff and may have lead to the death and illness.
The Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had recently carried out an audit of expired medication. But CQC inspectors found medicines that should have been discarded during their visit.
Hospital staff also admitted there were often considerable delays in children receiving appropriate medical attention when there was concerns over their condition deteriorating.
Inspectors saw reports showing a significant drop in permanent paediatric consultants.
Shockingly, investigators found waiting times shot up after 5pm and at weekends when there were not enough doctors to meet demand.
Despite the shortcomings the CQC found no evidence of any effective action being taken.
The trust has been found to be failing to plan and deliver care to meet the needs of children in a way that ensured their welfare and safety.
The CQC warnings are in relation to the essential standards, the care and welfare of service users and assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision.
It must now make improvements in the two identified areas by January 13 and commission an independent investigation into its paediatric services.
If the trust fails the CQC can issue financial penalty notices and cautions or prosecute the provider for failing to meet essential standards.
In the most serious the CQC has the power to suspend or cancel a service provided by the trust.
The crisis at the hospital, run by Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, comes after a catalogue of failings unearthed by inspections in recent years.
In 2001, conditions at Basildon University Hospital were described as ‘Third World’ by the Royal College of Nursing because of a shortage of beds.
Then, in 2004, Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was fined for failing to control the risk of legionnaire’s disease.
In 2007 the Trust was forced to admit being at fault for the case of a child who was left disabled after she was starved of oxygen when she was born at Basildon Hospital in 2001.
Then in 2008 more than 200 new mothers were offered HIV tests after the Trust discovered that a member of staff who had delivered their babies was HIV positive.
The hospital was in the news again in April 2009 after a three-year-old girl died in the paediatric ward after intravenous drip bags were found to have been sabotaged.
A report by the CQC’s predecessor, called Monitor, in 2009 found dozens of patients died needlessly as a result of filthy conditions and appalling nursing care.
Shocking figures showed the mortality rate at the hospital was more than a third higher than the national average and at least 70 people may have died who should have been saved.
It used its legal powers to demand that Basildon and Thurrock tackle ‘inadequate arrangements to treat children in A&E, with few specialist paediatric staff’.
The CQC carried out a series of unannounced inspections at the hospital in June and July this year after reports of children waiting for treatment in the A&E department.
They issued the hospital trust with a formal warning after the death of an infant who was not assessed within the A&E 15 minutes target time. The child, who was suffering from blood poisoning, was not medically assessed for 55 minutes.
The infant was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital for specialist care, but doctors decided no further treatment was possible.
Indian radiographer who could not speak English worked at cancer hospital for SIX YEARS before being sacked after string of complaints
An Indian radiographer has been sacked from his job at a cancer hospital after six years following a string of complaints that he could not speak clear English.
Ramani Ramaswany was dismissed from The Christie hospital, in Manchester, and suspended from the national radiography register for a year after complaints were made against him that he was unable to communicate effectively with patients and colleagues.
The Health and Care Professions Council found that Mr Ramaswamy had showed a ‘lack of competence’ in a number of areas while working at The Christie.
The panel heard that patients and staff had difficulty understanding him, with his command of English said to be getting worse by managers at the hospital despite extra English lessons after taking a job there.
He was also slammed for failing to demonstrate competent handling of equipment and setting up a bed so badly that a supervisor had to step in to stop a patient getting injured.
Mr Ramaswarmy had asked a patient to confirm their name four times before a colleague was forced to intervene because neither the patient nor the member of staff could understand what he was saying.
The radiographer, who lives in Moss Side, also failed to consistently ask patients to empty their bladders before procedures were carried out.
A senior colleague described his practice as being ‘a bit of a hit or a miss’ and he often read out numbers incorrectly.
The committee heard that Mr Ramaswamy was recruited from India as an experienced radiographer and started work in August 2005. Because of concerns over his communication skills, he was at first restricted to a role where he had no contact with patients. He was moved on to the treatment floor in September 2009 for a three-month trial but this proved unsuccessful.
He was then closely-monitored and an improvement plan was put in place. In June last year, his performance was rated as ‘unacceptable’ in every area. He was suspended and dismissed after a hearing in August last year and he has now been struck off for a year.
The panel’s report said: ‘On one occasion, a patient had become distressed.
‘His communication skills, even after six years at the trust, were poor and he was recorded as keeping his communication with patients to a minimum and to be difficult to understand.
‘The deficiencies identified by the panel have the potential to cause serious harm to patients.’
Mr Ramaswamy said that the sanctions were unfair and the allegations had been ‘cooked up’. He said he had now retired and was not looking for work, adding: ‘It’s totally ridiculous. I previously worked in Malaysia and I was very well respected.
‘The Christie said there were communication problems but I speak good English. I may be a little reserved.’
When asked about failing to ask patients to empty their bladders before starting treatment he said: ‘Maybe I missed it for one patient. I’ve never done any harm to the patients.;
A spokesman for The Christie said that no treatments were affected and no patients were put at risk by Mr Ramaswamy. He added: ‘He spent the vast majority of his time in treatment planning which involves no contact with patients. ‘We are satisfied that our systems and processes have enabled us to identify this problem and deal with it appropriately.’
A shambles! The truth about Britain’s leaky borders… Lack of checks let thousands of illegal immigrants stay in Britain
Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers were allowed to stay in the UK without proper checks in yet another borders scandal, it emerged last night. A Government inspector found that thousands of foreign nationals were granted an ‘amnesty’ without their files even being looked at.
Officials at the shambolic UK Border Agency (UKBA) also ignored evidence of deception and fraud by applicants whose cases dated back up to 17 years.
Some 124,000 cases were put in cold storage without proper checks to see if the applicant could be found. It has since emerged 37,500 people involved could have been easily located and potentially booted out.
A further 10,000 cases classified as having ‘legal barriers to removal’ had, in fact, just never been opened.
Officials also repeatedly misled Parliament over what was happening, according to John Vine, the chief inspector of Borders and Immigration.
The grave charge has infuriated MPs and could trigger a new inquiry by the home affairs select committee. Its chairman, Keith Vaz, said last night: ‘This is a devastating report. The failure to properly check asylum cases means UKBA is in danger of overseeing an effective amnesty for many of them.
‘It appears that senior officials of the UKBA have misled the committee about facts and figures. To mislead a committee of the House is an extremely serious matter.
‘Those same officials…. have all received bonuses. On the basis of this report, they should hand them back immediately.’
One official who gave false information to the committee, Lin Homer, has since been promoted to chief executive at HM Revenue and Customs on £175,000 a year.
Mr Vine’s explosive report lays bare the incompetence and confusion which took hold in the Home Office when 450,000 historic claims were unearthed by former Home Secretary John Reid in 2006.
A deadline of April 2011 was set to clear the so-called legacy backlog, which involved 500,000 files.
The Mail has repeatedly highlighted how a huge number of the applications were being rubber-stamped. Mr Vine’s report puts a final figure on the number officially given asylum under this amnesty – an astonishing 172,000.
But he also reveals what happened to the tens of thousands of cases where UKBA officials insisted the applicants could not be found.
In November 2010, then agency chief executive Miss Homer told MPs that 100,000 cases were put in a controlled archive only after a ‘significant number of checks’. Miss Homer left the agency in January 2011.
In April that year, acting chief executive Jonathan Sedgwick told the home affairs committee that each controlled archive case had been checked ‘against 19 databases – Government, Home Office, private sector databases’.
But a sample of cases examined by Mr Vine found that just 4 per cent had been subject to external checks.
In the months leading up to April 2011, cases were put in the archive on the basis that no trace could be found of the asylum seeker. But, the report found, in many such cases that was simply because officials in the unit processing them – the Case Resolution Directorate – had not opened the post to find letters from lawyers.
In April 2011, the remaining cases were moved to the Case Assurance and Audit Unit, based in Liverpool, which quickly became ‘overwhelmed’. It took on 147,000 cases, with fewer that 100 staff.
Such was the chaos that 150 boxes of post were found unopened in the new unit. In the following months, vast numbers of cases were fast-tracked, with just 13 per cent of applicants refused the right to remain here. Some were allowed to stay despite ‘multiple examples of deception’ and even imprisonment for fraud.
Case workers routinely granted migrants the right to stay under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act because they had been here so long, and applicants’ statements were accepted at face value.
There was, the report said, ‘little evidence in a number of cases to demonstrate that they were being considered on their individual merits’.
In a desperate bid to clear the cases, managers allowed case workers to grant the right to stay without even opening the file. Some 3,750 cases were decided this way.
Of the controlled archive cases examined by the inspectors, on average they were not dealt with for more than seven years and one was not opened for 17 years.
Once external checks were finally carried out this year, 31,000 migrants whose cases had been archived were ‘found’. Even now, many individuals are not being chased down immediately because of ‘insufficient resources’.
Mr Vine said: ‘I found that updates given by the agency to Parliament in the summer of 2011, stating that the legacy of unresolved asylum cases was resolved, were inaccurate.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We have known for some time that UKBA is a troubled organisation with a poor record of delivery. Turning the agency around will take time, but we are making progress.’
Secret courts plan in chaos: Lords reject closed hearings by crushing majority
It must confound the Leftists but the House of Lords has long been the major bulwark against Fascist government in Britain
Plans for secret courts were left in tatters last night by the House of Lords. Peers voted by crushing majorities for fundamental changes to the Justice and Security Bill, which would allow civil cases involving national security to be conducted in secret.
By margins of over 100 votes, peers voted to remove ministers’ exclusive right to apply for secret hearings and to give judges ultimate discretion in deciding whether or not they should be held behind closed doors.
As the legislation was introduced in the Lords, the Government’s plans came under devastating attack from several of Britain’s most senior retired judges and politicians.
The defeats suggest ministers will have to return to the drawing board and accept a series of amendments – or risk seeing the entire piece of legislation thrown out.
Critics say the Government’s proposals will seriously threaten Britain’s reputation for open and fair justice.
The Daily Mail has led criticism of the plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’ (CMPs), in which cases are conducted entirely in private, in any civil hearing.
Defendants or claimants will not be allowed to be present, or know or challenge the case against them, and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate, rather than their own lawyer.
Currently, such procedures are used in tiny numbers of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Government wants to extend them across the civil courts in cases deemed to involve national security.
The legislation has been drafted in close co-operation with the security services, which have claimed other countries may stop sharing intelligence with Britain if it risks being disclosed in open court.
But crossbencher Lord Pannick, a leading lawyer, described the measures as a ‘radical departure from the principles of common law’. Leading a series of amendments to the plans, he said: ‘This is a departure from the principle of transparent justice. We should be very careful in that a CMP is inherently damaging to the integrity of the judicial process.
‘Judicial decisions are respected precisely because all the evidence is heard in open court subject to acceptance and judges give a reasoned judgment which explains their decision.’
Former MI5 chief Baroness Manningham-Buller said secret court hearings should be introduced so British spies can defend themselves against allegations of torture. She said: ‘It is deeply distressing to me and to my former colleagues to be accused of inequities in cases of torture and maltreatment. We have not been able to defend ourselves.’
She claimed that presenting classified information in open court would put the lives of secret agents at risk.
But Tory peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts said the new legislation failed the ‘smell test’. He warned that closed hearings could begin as a ‘rare event but will over time morph into the default position’.
Lord Macdonald, QC, the former director of public prosecutions, accused the Government of reneging on a pledge to allow judges to have the final say on whether there should be a secret court hearing. ‘These amendments would give judges appropriate discretion to balance the interests of national security with justice,’ he said.
Historian Lord Morgan, a Labour peer, opposed the expansion of secret courts because it would mean a ‘tilting of the balance away from the free individual towards the interest of the state’.
Labour justice spokesman Lord Beecham backed a string of proposed changes to the legislation, saying the Government’s proposals constituted a ‘radical departure from the cornerstone of our legal system – the right of a party to know and to challenge his opponent’s case’. He said: ‘These amendments place the judge firmly in control of the process with the means to balance the interests of justice and security, protecting from disclosure what is essential not to be made public.’
Advocate General for Scotland Lord Wallace of Tankerness, replying for the Government, said that at present people assumed the Government settled controversial cases because there had been ‘some wrongdoing’ whereas in fact it was often that relevant material could not be put before the court.
He said there were currently 20 civil damages cases where material ‘relating to national security would be central’.
Donald Campbell, of the human rights group Reprieve, said: ‘These amendments are a small step in the right direction, but the reality is that secret courts in any form are deeply dangerous. ‘The only way to protect our centuries-old tradition of open and equal justice is for Parliament to reject plans for secret courts altogether.’
More anti-Israel lies from the BBC
A BBC war reporter made a shocking blunder by tweeting a photograph of an injured child from Syria but indicating she was from Gaza.
Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison added ‘Heartbreaking’ to the front of a message he retweeted from a Palestinian ‘journalist and social activist’ named Hazem Balousha.
Balousha had posted a picture of a young girl lying on a hospital bed with bloodied clothes, along with the words ‘Pain in #Gaza’.
Donnison’s tweet went out to his 7,971 followers on the social networking site and he was soon hit with a barrage of outraged responses highlighting the mistake.
The website bbcwatch.org highlighted the error and wrote: ‘Up to now, it may have been possible to put down Jon Donnison’s frequently problematic reporting to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the region.
‘However, his decision to promote deliberate misinformation – either knowingly or as a result of a complete failure to check facts – indicates that he is not merely naive. ‘Donnison has rendered himself no longer fit for the purpose of accurate and impartial reporting from the Middle East in accordance with the BBC’s legal obligations.’
Donnison apologised for the gaffe, tweeting: ‘A photo I retweeted from another journo showing children injured was not in Gaza as I said but apparently from Syria. Apologies.’
A BBC News spokesperson said: ‘Jon Donnison retweeted the photograph in good faith. He issued a correction and apologised as soon as he learned that the picture was not from Gaza.’
This is the latest in a string of embarrassing incidents for the BBC, in which the most high-profile has been the Lord McAlpine Newsnight scandal.
Another of the frequent false rape claims from Britain
At least the Brits jail the liars. But it doesn’t seem to have much effect. British embarrassment regularly trumps the truth
A ‘scorned’ nanny was jailed for two years for claiming her wealthy boss had raped her after he shunned her following a one-night stand.
Divorcee Tina Greenland, 49, shared a night of passion with insurance broker Nicholas Mouna, 55, after he employed her to care for his disabled daughter.
The mother of three texted him the next day saying she ‘had a lovely night’ and that she hoped he did not think she was ‘some kind of tart’, Canterbury Crown Court heard.
When Mr Mouna gave a ‘half-hearted’ response making it clear he did not want a relationship, she accused him of ‘using’ her. She then phoned Kent Police and claimed she had been raped after her drink had been spiked.
Mr Mouna was arrested and suspended from his job, which he later lost – despite never being charged for the crime.
When detectives examined messages exchanged between the pair, they discovered Greenland’s rape claims were fabricated.
Jailing her for two years, Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl – quoting from poet William Congreve – said ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’. He said: ‘You have been found guilty on the clearest of evidence of making false allegations. ‘But this is serious because people who make false allegations make it harder for real victims to be believed.’
Greenland, of Folkstone, Kent, screamed, ‘Oh no, my God no’, as the sentence was passed.
She maintained her innocence throughout her trial, but her account of what happened on the night in December last year was rejected by the jury.
The child carer, who had been employed by Mr Mouna through an agency, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
Jurors were told how Greenland pursued Mr Mouna – who has three children with his ex-wife – and sent him text messages asking him to go for a drink.
John Traversi, prosecuting, said: ‘In 2011, Greenland began caring for the girl and after a while she began asking Mr Mouna if he would like to go to a country club for a drink and she began sending him texts. ‘These texts intrigued him and flattered him and they agreed to go out in December.’
In December, the divorcee arrived at his home carrying a bottle of vodka after being ‘dropped off’ by her daughter and the pair shared a kiss.
Mr Traversi said: ‘They had some drinks and they sat on the sofa and put her arms around him and kissed again and had some more drinks.’
He added that during the evening Greenland felt dizzy and she became ‘hot and sweaty’. Greenland went upstairs and was sick, but returned later to watch TV until ‘he felt tired’.
The prosecutor added: ‘Both of them went upstairs and Greenland said: “Which room?”. He said: “The big one… if you want.” ‘The two then got into bed where they had sexual intercourse and engaged in other sexual activity during the course of the night.’
The court heard the following morning they woke up at 11am and had breakfast together before leaving.
Mr Traversi said: ‘On the way home she asked if they would be seeing each other again… and he gave a half-hearted response.’
Later in the day, Greenland texted him saying: ‘Hi Nick, just to say had a lovely night. Sorry about the sick and I do hope that you do not think that I am some kind of tart for sleeping with you. ‘I would like to see you again and really do hope you do me. But if you don’t want to I won’t mind. Of course, it would be nice…’
Mr Mouna replied that he ‘quite liked my single life’, adding, ‘I am quite happy to meet up with you and do it again with you’.
She replied: ‘No, thanks for all that. I have just been used. Thanks a lot.’
Hours later, Greenland took an overdose of tablets and vodka and was rushed to hospital.
She had texted Mr Traversi saying: ‘Well I hope you sort your life out because at the moment I feel like ending mine. I have got vodka and pills I just hope I don’t wake up.’
Paul Hogben, defending, said Greenland ‘couldn’t cope with rejection.’
Mr Hogben said after the verdict that the text that Greenland received ‘would have hurt anyone’ and was read as ‘I don’t want to see you anymore’.
He said: ‘She reacted in the wrong way and she did make some effort to try to stop the ball from rolling but the consequences were that Mr Mouna was investigated for rape.
‘She is not a bad person, but by the jury’s verdict she did a bad thing. She made a terrible mistake in circumstances when she couldn’t cope with rejection.’
Church seems ‘wilfully blind’ on women bishops says Cantuar
It is Cantuar who is wilfully blind to the teachings of the Bible
The Church of England has “a lot of explaining to do” to the church and to wider society after its rejection of legislation that would have allowed women to become bishops, the outgoing archbishop of Canterbury has said.
In a strongly worded speech to the General Synod on Wednesday, Rowan Williams warned that the failure of the vote in the house of laity on Tuesday had made the church’s governing body appear “wilfully blind” to the priorities of secular society.
“We have – to put it very bluntly – a lot of explaining to do,” he said. “Whatever the motivations for voting … the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society. Worse than that, it seems as if we are wilfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society.”
Archbishop Williams, who will be succeeded as head of the church by Justin Welby, the bishop of Durham, next year, said the church had “undoubtedly” lost credibility due to the move. That was why the issue of female bishops could not simply be “parked” but had to be worked on further with urgency.
“We have as a result of yesterday undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility in our society,” he said.
“After all the effort that’s gone into this process over the last few years, after the intense frustration that has been experienced in recent years … it would be tempting to conclude that it’s too difficult, that perhaps the issue should be parked for a while. I do not believe that is possible because of … the sense of credibility in the wider society.
“Every day that we fail to resolve this to our satisfaction … is a day when our credibility in the public eye is likely to diminish.”
The church, he added, had to take that seriously, “however uncomfortable that message may be”. “We can’t afford to hang about. We can’t … indefinitely go on living simply theologically with the anomaly of women priests who cannot be considered bishops,” he said.
The church is reeling from Tuesday’s vote, in which legislation that had been worked on for 12 years in synod was rejected by six votes in the house of laity. In the houses of bishops and clergy, the measure that could have seen the first woman consecrated to the episcopate in 2014 was passed with comfortable majorities.
Archbishop Williams said the nature of the vote meant that the church needed to explain why it insisted on such high margins – two-thirds approval – for important measures to pass.
Warning of the risks, he noted, “[Synod process] is not simply to be seen as a holding to hostage by certain groups.”
Condemning the “unrealism” of those who had voted the legislation down out of the hope they could find a better solution, Archbishop Williams said: “The idea that there is a readily available formula just around the corner is in my view an illusion. There is no short cut here; there is no simple God-given, dare I say, solution to a problem which brings people’s deepest convictions into conflict in the way in which they have come into conflict in the synod and previously.”
Whaaat? British schools ‘to offer new qualification in body image’
What about a qualification in brushing your hair or washing your dick? Hair and dicks are important
Children will be given the chance to gain a secondary school qualification in “body image” under new plans, it emerged today.
Examiners have drawn up proposals for a new course focusing on issues such as positive and negative portrayals of bodies in the media and ways of “building confidence and self-esteem” among young people.
The qualification – for secondary school pupils aged 11 to 14 – will also cover healthy eating and how to keep physically fit.
The plans – backed by Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith – are being led by an examination board set up by the YMCA in the late 90s to specialise in qualifications focusing on health and fitness.
It comes amid concerns that children are being left with eating disorders and other psychological conditions because of anxiety over their appearance.
Earlier this year, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on body image said that one-in-five people had been victimised over their weight, adding that physical appearance was now the number one reason for being bullied at school.
The new qualification could be accredited for teaching in schools – and other organisations such as youth clubs – from next September.
But the plans were criticised today by the former Schools Minister who insisted that teachers should use curriculum time to tackle academic subjects rather than social issues.
Nick Gibb, the Conservative MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, who spent more than two years in the Department for Education, said: “We do have a proliferation of this type of qualification and I would be disappointed if schools devoted curriculum time to it. “It is important that children understand healthy eating and exercise, but one way to cover that is to make sure schools are delivering an interesting academic curriculum that covers a range of subjects.”
But Miss Smith, who has been the subject of offensive comments on Twitter for her muscular physique, said the qualification “should help young people gain a better understanding of their body image and that exercise is for everyone, no matter what your body shape or size”.
Central YMCA Qualifications – the charity’s exam board – has submitted outline plans to Ofqual to have the new course formally accredited. It would pave the way to offering it in state secondary schools.
The course is a Level 1 qualification and will take eight-to-10 hours’ teaching and working time. But the CYQ insisted it was not intended to be equivalent to GCSEs and was seen as being “in addition to” mainstream qualifications.
Under plans, it will be split into two sections: understanding body image and exploring active leisure pursuits and healthy eating. The first part covers issues such as positive and negative portrayal of bodies in the media, factors affecting self-esteem and ways of building confidence. The second includes an understanding of physical fitness, the principals of training, identifying the main food groups and planning and preparing a healthy meal.
Pupils are assessed through a series of tasks, including completing workbooks, producing a website article, creating a pamphlet and making a healthy packed lunch.
Caroline Nokes, chairwoman of the APPG on body image said: “We currently have a problem getting young people more active, and having a healthy relationship with food. “Poor body image is part of the problem – if you don’t value your body, then why would you look after it. Initiatives such as this which support holistic health and young people should be welcomed.”
Reading test for infants ‘significantly skewed’ by teachers
A new reading test for six-year-olds is being effectively manipulated by teachers to make sure pupils pass, the exams regulator has warned. Teachers “significantly skewed” results in the assessment this year to push the maximum number of children over the target threshold, it was claimed.
In a damning report, Ofqual said schools had been “influenced” by prior knowledge of the pass score needed to mark pupils out as good readers. It suggests that the validity of the test – taken for the first time this year – may have been undermined.
This comes despite the fact that the results of the check are not being used to rank or measure standards at individual schools.
As part of the assessment, pupils are supposed to accurately “decode” a list of 40 words using phonics – the back-to-basics method of reading in which words are broken down into constituent parts.
The list includes a number of made-up words such as “voo”, “terg”, “bim”, “thazz” and “spron” to ensure pupils are properly employing the phonics system. It is intended to mark out pupils struggling the most after a year of compulsory education – allowing teachers to target them with extra help.
This year, pupils gaining 32 marks were deemed to have decent reading skills.
But in a report, Ofqual warned that prior knowledge of the threshold score led to manipulation of the results, with teachers effectively edging pupils over the pass mark.
Some 8,819 pupils gained 31 marks but 43,283 achieved 32 – the exact number needed to cross the threshold.
“The distribution of scores awarded by teachers is significantly skewed and appears to have been strongly influenced by this knowledge,” Ofqual said. “For example, almost five times as many pupils attained 32 marks (the threshold) as attained 31 marks.”
A spokesman for the Department for Education insisted the phonics check was helping teachers identify pupils who needed extra help, with 235,000 found to be below the expected standard this year. But he added: “Ministers have been clear the phonics check will not be used to judge schools – it has been introduced to help every child become a strong reader. “We expect teachers to take professional responsibility for the accurate marking of the test so that the right children can be helped.”
Poor white boys ‘lagging behind classmates at age five’
This is just the old, old correlation between social class and IQ. It’s not going away any time soon. Girls do a little better because they mature earlier
White working-class boys are lagging dramatically behind other children at the age of five amid growing fears over poor parenting skills in the most deprived communities, it emerged today. Official figures show that just over a third of white boys from the most disadvantaged families are developing properly in the early years.
Data from the Department for Education shows they are less likely to be able to read, communicate, use basic numeracy and show the necessary physical and social awareness as children from other groups.
It emerged that more white boys eligible for free school meals actually hit Government targets for early development this summer compared with 2011. But figures show the gap between these pupils and the national average widened in the last 12 months following an improvement in standards across-the-board.
It will raise concerns that tens of thousands of disadvantaged white boys are not ready for school at the age of five, with fears that many will fail to catch up throughout compulsory education.
The disclosure comes after Ofsted launched a major inquiry earlier this year into the gulf in standards between rich and poor pupils in the English education system.
Launching the report, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, said one of its principal objectives would be tackle an “anti-school culture” among white working-class families. He warned that thousands of poor children – particularly boys – were growing up with little hope of a good education or career after being raised by families that fail to set proper boundaries or fully understand the difference between right and wrong.
Today, a DfE spokesman said the the achievement gap between rich and poor children, and between boys and girls, had been “too big for too long”. “We are determined to give children from poor families the chance of a better start in life, which is why we will give 15 hours a week free early education to 260,000 of the poorest two-year-olds,” he said.
“We must also ensure staff have the skills and qualifications they need to give every child a high quality early education. That is why we commissioned a review of early years qualifications and we will be responding in due course. “By improving the quality of staff and raising the status of the profession, we will give parents greater confidence in the education their children are receiving.”
The latest data was based on children’s performance at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage – a compulsory “nappy curriculum” for under-fives which must be followed by all nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in England.
Children’s development is tracked in six areas – per sonal and social development, communication and language, problem solving and numeracy, understanding of the world, physical development and creativity. Nationally, 64 per cent of pupils achieved a “good level of development” at the age of five this summer, meaning they can dress independently, count to 10, write their own name and other basic words and sing simple songs from memory.
But the data shows a significant gender gap, with 73 per cent of girls hitting the target compared with just 55 per cent of boys. The 18 percentage point gap was the same as 2011.
Among white boys eligible for free school meals, the proportion dropped to just 36 per cent. It represented a 28 percentage point gap compared with the national average – one point up on the gulf recorded in 2011. By comparison, 56 per cent of poor white girls achieved the level this year.
Poor boys from other ethnic groups performed better, it emerged, with numbers rising to 50 per cent among Indian children, 42 per cent among Pakistani children and 44 per cent among black Caribbeans and 48 per cent among children from black African families.
The BBC and the consensus
The 28gate seminar’s finding that global warming science is settled and that “due balance” requires dissenting views to be seen and heard less is insidious. In this post I’m going to try to set out why.
What is the consensus? That carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas? Yup. That man’s activities are increasing carbon dioxide levels? Certainly. That temperatures went up at the end of the twentieth century and have not gone up since? Definitely. That human beings can affect the climate? Without a shadow of doubt.
Anything else? I don’t think so. Even simple questions like whether observed temperature rises are anything out of the ordinary remain hugely controversial. The extent to which mankind has affected and will affect temperatures is likewise unknown, a great amphitheatre of ignorance dimly illuminated by a handful of aged CFLs – the climate models that scientists have pinned their hopes on – and little else. That these models are wrong is not in doubt – all models are wrong after all – but how wrong and how useful they are as tools to guide public policy is just another mystery. How can there possibly be consensus in these circumstances?
The impacts of climate change and the economics of climate change and policy responses to climate change are likewise entirely up in the air, with new hypotheses flown every day and shot down every evening and a mishmash of often contradictary empirical observations lending colour to the chaos. A glance tells you that there is no consensus.
So let us be clear, we don’t even know if we have a big problem or a small one.
Yet the seminar has decided that sceptic input is not required in any of these areas. When did you last hear it put on the BBC that climate sensitivity might be low and that we were getting worked up about nothing? When did you last hear the Stern report or decarbonisation challenged on the BBC? 2007? I certainly can’t recall any recent outings for views like this: they are sceptic views and are not to be aired. Yet these are all areas in which there is precisely no academic consensus. Indeed in the case of Stern one could probably make the case that there is something approaching consensus that the noble lord is talking out of his hat.
The concepts of mainstream and sceptic, upholder and dissentient, warmist and denier are profoundly unhelpful in the climate debate. The range of questions at issue mean that it is simply preposterous to divide everyone into two camps as the BBC has done – it’s simply not logical.
Of course, given that the seminar was run for the benefit of green pressure groups, it’s clear that logic had nothing to do with it. The BBC has used the seminar to minimise criticism of any aspect of climate science, climate economics and climate policy.
Quentin Cooper, the presenter of the BBC’s Material World radio programme, asked on a recent show why he had never heard about the problems with biofuels. Frankly I’m amazed that he can’t work it out.
The great British wind scam
Your taxes are meant to be supporting smaller turbines. In fact, they’re making giant ones less efficient
Almost everybody agrees that wind turbines are ugly and inefficient. But you’d think that the government, if it must persist in subsidising renewable energy, would do everything it could to incentivise wind power producers to create as much energy as possible while keeping the aesthetic damage to a minimum. Astonishingly, it is doing the opposite.
Inquiries by The Spectator have revealed a scam known as ‘de-rating’. Green businesses are modifying large turbines to make them less productive, because perverse government subsidies reward machines that produce less energy at nearly double the rate of more efficient ones. It’s extraordinarily profitable for a few beneficiaries, even if it clutters the countryside and does little to save the planet.
Under the government’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme, which aims to make renewable energies competitive with fossil fuels, the size of a turbine is measured not by height but by power output. If a turbine pumps out more than 500kW, its owners receive 9.5p per kilowatt hour. But a ‘smaller’ sub-500kW one receives a subsidy of 17.5p per kilowatt hour, supposedly to compensate for its lower efficiency. The idea is to lure smaller wind-power producers into the market.
Problem is, while smaller turbines are more popular with the public, those designs don’t produce anything like the 500kW needed to take full advantage of the subsidy. So instead, investors are buying big, powerful turbines and downgrading them, tweaking their components to churn out no more than the magic 500kW. It’s simply far more lucrative to hobble bigger turbines — machines that ought to be capable of producing almost twice as much electricity.
For instance, it would cost a farmer roughly £1.5 million to plan, buy and put up a single 80-metre turbine, which could produce up to 900kW. He could run it at full capacity, and see a 7 to 10 per cent return on his investment each year. But if the machine’s efficiency were lowered, industry sources suggest, the return would jump to between 17 and 20 per cent. Clearly, the under-500kW subsidy bracket is where the money is. Last year, Ofgem reported a 850 per cent rise in FIT approvals for 100 to 500kW turbines, compared with 56 per cent for the 500kW to 1.5mW category.
Turbine suppliers boast about selling products that take advantage. The German firm PowerWind says on its website that it has developed its PowerWind 500 turbines ‘especially for the UK market’ and encourages potential customers to ‘secure the highest FIT in Europe’. In other words: turbines designed especially to game British subsidies.
Or take EWT, a Dutch manufacturer of wind turbines. Its website lists the giant DW 52/54 turbine — as tall as seven double-decker buses — in two forms, one producing 500kW and the other 900kW. Why such a difference in power output, if the specifications suggest they’re the same machine? A sales representative from EWT explains that it offers the less-productive model because ‘the tariff is very, very advantageous’. So why buy the less efficient model, when it has the same environmental footprint? Because ‘you have a better return on investment… you get more money per kilowatt’. The EWT salesman conceded the British system is ‘very very strange’. It’s all about the subsidy, not the environment.
BBC in breach of its obligations
A letter to the BBC Trust from Don Keiller, Deputy Head of Life Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge
I am writing to you about a serious concern regarding the BBC’s reporting of climate change science and associated issues.
From the detail emerging in the aftermath of Mr. Tony Newbery’s F.O.I case (EA/2009/0118) it is absolutely clear that the BBC is in breach of its Charter, which requires it to be impartial. Furthermore it knowingly and wilfully breached its Charter in this regard and has since tried to hide this fact from the Public and license fee payers, at the Publics’ expense.
In June, 2007, the BBC Trust published a report entitled “From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel: Safeguarding impartiality in the 21st Century”. That report, which is fully endorsed by the BBC Trust, contains the following statement (page 40):
“The BBC has held a high‐level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus.”
This statement forms the basis for the BBC’s decision to breach its Charter and abandon impartiality on the subject of climate change and instead provide a highly biased and alarmist presentation of the science of climate change, without any attempt at counterbalancing argument, let alone “equal space”. Since then attempts have been made, via FOI requests, to find out the identities of the so-called “best scientific experts” who attended the “high level seminar” which thereby provided the justification for the BBC to abandon its principle of impartiality in this area. To my best knowledge, the BBC has not abandoned its impartiality in this way, even in wartime.
Tony Newbery, a pensioner, clearly felt the same way and has gone through a long series of FOI requests and processes, culminating, earlier this month, in a tribunal at the Central London Civil Justice Centre (case no. EA/2009/0118). The FOI request was for the identities of the “best scientific experts” who attended the seminar. In order to conceal this information, the BBC fielded a team of 6 lawyers, including barristers, at an estimated cost of £40,000 per day, to prevent the list of names from being published. Whilst they were successful, it was a pyrric victory, as it transpires that this information, that the BBC had tried so hard to conceal, had been in the Public domain for some time.
So who were these “best scientific experts”?
It turns out to be a motley collection of climate alarmists, activists, environmental advocates and those with vested financial interests:
Blake Lee-Harwood, Head of Campaigns, Greenpeace
Andrew Dlugolecki, Insurance industry consultant
Trevor Evans, US Embassy
Colin Challen MP, Chair, All Party Group on Climate Change
Anuradha Vittachi, Director, Oneworld.net
Andrew Simms, Policy Director, New Economics Foundation
Claire Foster, Church of England
Saleemul Huq, IIED
Poshendra Satyal Pravat, Open University
Li Moxuan, Climate campaigner, Greenpeace China
Tadesse Dadi, Tearfund Ethiopia
Iain Wright, CO2 Project Manager, BP International
Ashok Sinha, Stop Climate Chaos
Andy Atkins, Advocacy Director, Tearfund
Matthew Farrow, CBI
Rafael Hidalgo, TV/multimedia producer
Cheryl Campbell, Executive Director, Television for the Environment
Kevin McCullough, Director, Npower Renewables
Richard D North, Institute of Economic Affairs
Steve Widdicombe, Plymouth Marine Labs
Joe Smith, The Open University
Mark Galloway, Director, IBT
Anita Neville, E3G
Eleni Andreadis, Harvard University
Jos Wheatley, Global Environment Assets Team, DFID
Tessa Tennant, Chair, AsRia.
Not one of these could be described as “scientific”, let alone an expert.
Robert May, Oxford University and Imperial College London
Mike Hulme, Director, Tyndall Centre, UEA
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen
Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
are scientists, but were misleadingly described in court by Helen Boaden (of Jimmy Saville infamy), as “scientists with contrasting views”. In fact all are unashamedly alarmist. Pointedly, not one of these scientists deals with attribution science, or the atmospheric physics of global warming.
So where are the real experts? Scientists from the Met Office, or the Hadley Centre, one of the foremost climate research centres in the world? Where are the names of Dr.Chris Landsea, World expert on hurricanes, or Dr. Nils‐Axel Mörner, World authority on sea level rises? Or Professors Richard Lindzen, or Murry Salby, World experts on atmospheric physics? Why are there no experts from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia?
It now crystal clear why the BBC went to such great lengths and expense to withhold the names of those attending. They are not the “best scientific experts” but rather a group overwhelmingly comprised of environmental activists and NGO’s, with no scientific training, whatsoever, or those with a vested interest, often financial, in keeping climate change alarmism firmly in the Public eye.
In conclusion I put it to the BBC Trust that:
1. The BBC and, by endorsing the report, the BBC Trust, have lied to the public that they organised and/or attended a seminar at BBC Television Centre involving the “best scientific experts” on climate change.
2. That its change of policy to no longer be impartial on the subject of climate change was not based on scientific evidence, or the views of the “best scientific experts”, but in fact was as a result of listening to the views, advice and lobbying from inappropriate and biased individuals, groups and organisations including Greenpeace, Tearfund, US Embassy, BP, IIED, IBT, AsRia, E3G etc.
3. That the BBC and the BBC Trust are in breach of the charter and acting unlawfully. The following quotations are taken from the BBC website here
Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest. We are committed to achieving the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive to avoid knowingly and materially misleading our audiences.
1.2.2 Truth and Accuracy
We seek to establish the truth of what has happened and are committed to achieving due accuracy in all our output. Accuracy is not simply a matter of getting facts right; when necessary, we will weigh relevant facts and information to get at the truth. Our output, as appropriate to its subject and nature, will be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language. We will strive to be honest and open about what we don’t know and avoid unfounded speculation.
Impartiality lies at the core of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences. We will apply due impartiality to all our subject matter and will reflect a breadth and diversity of opinion across our output as a whole, over an appropriate period, so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented. We will be fair and open-minded when examining evidence and weighing material facts.
1.2.4 Editorial Integrity and Independence
The BBC is independent of outside interests and arrangements that could undermine our editorial integrity. Our audiences should be confident that our decisions are not influenced by outside interests, political or commercial pressures, or any personal interests.
Each and every one of these guidelines has been knowingly breached.
This is a scandal that is, in its own way, more disturbing than the one over the Jimmy Savile affair, as it has implications for the whole population. Interestingly the key players in this scandal, George Entwistle, Helen Boaden, Peter Rippon and Steve Mitchell, are also key players in the Savile affair. However whilst the Savile scandal is being looked into by a series of inquiries, this has been ignored.
I look forward to hearing from you in due course on this matter. Please also be advised that I have sent a copy of this letter to the Director of the BBC Trust.
Nov 21, 2012 at 12:41 PM | Don Keiller
Big UK firms may move to America for cheap energy
Some of Britain’s biggest companies may be forced to move to the US or Eastern Europe, where energy costs are dramatically lower, the Energy Intensive Users Group is warning this weekend. Jeremy Nicholson, director of the powerful lobby group that campaigns for companies in the steel, chemical and glass industries, said that British companies could not compete against US groups because their energy costs were four times cheaper.
He said Britain needed to develop its own shale gas industry, which would decisively transform the economics of the intensive energy industry.
Britain should also pay compensation to firms that face huge bills to meet climate change targets, he added. ‘The solution for intensive industry depends on maximising the opportunity for responsible production of shale gas in the UK as well as completing the electricity market reform process so the UK can deliver low carbon nuclear energy and renewables at least cost to consumers,’ he said.
He added that the Government and intensive-energy industries had to reach a deal that would give compensation to firms forced to pay for higher-price energy to meet climate change policies.
Germany’s biggest companies have also warned of an inability to compete with the US because they do not have access to the same quantity of cheap shale gas.
The warning comes as the Government looks set to announce that Britain has discovered huge shale gas deposits in the North-West, East Midlands, Sussex and Kent. The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that Britain was sitting on shale gas reserves worth £1.5 trillion.
The amount – more than the remaining gas reserves of the North Sea – is bigger than previously thought and would potentially bring energy price stability and independence from imports for decades.
Nicholson said: ‘It’s inevitable that our members will have to think about moving if energy prices keep going up so fast and our competitors have the advantage of gas three to four times cheaper.’
He said Britain had an opportunity to compete because of the discovery of large quantities of shale gas – and much of this was in areas where our biggest energy producers had major facilities.
‘We are well placed to exploit shale gas here,’ he said.
‘The environmental agency is a very responsible agency and it would not get in the way of responsible development.’