Did Katie’s baby die because her consultant abandoned her to care for a private patient?
Ella lived for just five days after catalogue of errors at her birth
Ella Harman would have turned six in October. Her parents Katie and Ben often wonder what kind of little girl she would be now.
Would she be into dollies and glitter? Would her favourite colour be pink? Or might she be a tomboy big sister to brothers Zac, four, Alfie, three, and the sibling her mother is due to give birth to in February?
Ella died five days after her birth. A tragic loss for any parent to bear, but what grieves and angers the Harmans most is that there is no good reason why their daughter isn’t alive today.
Despite a low-risk, problem-free, ‘textbook’ pregnancy, Ella died — severely brain-damaged — following a catalogue of errors, before and during her breech birth at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London in 2006.
Born feet-first, Ella was starved of oxygen when her head became stuck in the birth canal. An inexperienced registrar had struggled to deliver Ella — at one point using the wrong forceps — while the consultant obstetrician present was called away to perform a Caesarean.
In 2009, Katie and Ben were awarded just under £100,000 in compensation after Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted full liability for failures of obstetric and midwifery care.
‘I would return every penny in a heartbeat if I could only have Ella with me now. What is money to me when all I want is my daughter back?’ says Katie, 33, a former product manager for an advertising firm who lives in Battersea, South-West London, with husband Ben and their sons.
‘Every year, on my daughter’s birthday, I release balloons into the sky, and five days later, light a candle to mark her death, knowing she should be here with us instead.’
The compensation award, accompanied by an apology, was not the end of this traumatic and disturbing story, however.
Two months ago — six years after Ella’s death — the Harmans made another shocking discovery.
They’d always known the consultant tending to Katie that morning had left to operate on another woman, before returning around 40 minutes later to deliver Ella.
They were told by the hospital the other patient had already been anaesthetised and assumed it must have been an emergency to warrant the consultant’s departure at such a critical time.
A Freedom of Information request revealed, however, that the only Caesarean being performed when Katie was labouring to deliver Ella at 9.22am was not an NHS emergency, but an elective Caesarean section on a private patient.
The FoI request was made by award-winning independent TV documentary maker Richard Belfield, who shared his findings with the Mail this week. The Harmans are still struggling to take in the news, and what it might mean for women across the country who have no choice but to give birth on the NHS.
‘For six years we have been trying to get to the bottom of what exactly happened and this is a very bitter pill for us to swallow,’ says Katie.
‘I still don’t understand the consultant’s actions and I would give anything to ask him the reasons why a private patient appears to have taken priority over us.
‘I’m sure he only wanted the best outcome for all his patients, but I can’t ever accept how a private patient could come before an NHS patient in severe need, as I was.’
Katie anticipated a straightforward natural delivery, having been told by a midwife at an ante-natal appointment seven days earlier that the baby’s head was facing down.
It wasn’t until 8.51am — more than an hour after being admitted — that Katie was finally examined by a midwife. Suspecting the baby was breech, she immediately called the on-duty specialist registrar.
By this time, Ella was already showing signs of distress. The monitors revealed her heart rate periodically dropping and the presence of meconium — foetal stools — in Katie’s waters.
According the hospital’s Incident Review the first indications of foetal distress were noted at 8.33am, 8.44am and 8.56am. The Trust has admitted that Ella, could have — in all probability — been safely delivered by Caesarean up until 9.17am.
‘The registrar went completely white and looked shocked when she examined me,’ recalls Katie. ‘She looked at the two midwives in the room and said: “Who just examined this lady? Because she’s fully dilated and the baby’s coming out breech.”
‘At that point panic buttons were pressed and medical staff poured into the room. I felt very scared and panicked, realising everything was going wrong.’
At 9.06am the consultant arrived and advised the Harmans to try for a ‘trial’ vaginal birth because the labour was so advanced, explaining the risks to Katie’s health of an emergency C-section.
‘He said that because Ella was so far down the birth canal, I could suffer uterine bleeding and need a hysterectomy if he had to pull her back up,’ says Katie.
‘It was all about the risks to my health, and far less about the risks to Ella with a vaginal delivery. I remember Ben saying: “You’re the expert, so you have to do what you think is right.” ’
An internal inquiry carried out by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital into the circumstances surrounding Ella’s birth concluded that the consultant had given incorrect advice about the options for delivery.
The incident review concluded that Ella should have been delivered by Caesarean immediately because of the signs of distress, which were ignored as the medical team became fixated on the problems posed by the baby’s breech position.
And at some point after giving what turned out to be flawed advice, the consultant left the room for around 40 minutes to perform — the evidence suggests — an elective caesarean on a private patient.
To this day, Katie feels sympathy for the registrar who was left to struggle with Ella’s delivery, having only ever practised on a simulator before.
The Hospital Trust admitted — at a complaint meeting with the Harmans in March 2007— that the consultant should have stayed for the breech delivery and that guidelines had been rewritten as a result.
It confirmed that other doctors had been available to perform the Caesarean and that it was the consultant’s decision to undertake it. ‘The registrar came to see me afterwards and wept saying how sorry she was,’ says Katie. ‘I find it hard to blame her, because she was put in an impossible situation…..
Baby died after being fed a day’s food in just an hour via a drip at scandal-hit children’s hospital
A baby has died at the scandal hit Bristol Children’s Hospital after being fed a day’s food in one hour.
Seven day old Maisie Bennett was being fed intravenously because she was born with a congential heart defect. But the baby’s feeding machine was wrongly programmed, leading to her suffering cardiac arrest hours later.
Maisie, who was born by a planned Caesarean section on 16 August 2011 with an atrioventricular septal defect, meaning the walls in her heart were missing, was given 28 times the 7.5ml of formula she should have had. An inquest heard a nurse mistakenly entered the daily dose of 210ml under the hourly rate, and the baby died on August 22.
Her parents, Laura Bennett and Ryan Waters of Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, have spoken about their heartbreak. Ms Bennett said that a doctor had tried to revive her daughter for 45 minutes before he told her there was nothing else they could do, the Sunday Express reports. She said: ‘I was numb, it was like I wasn’t there and looking in on someone else’s life. ‘They asked if we wanted to be there when she passed away, but I couldn’t watch her die.’
She and Mr Bennett then went to say goodbye to their baby daughter, and nurses handed the couple a memory box containing a lock of Maisie’s hair.
An inquest recorded a narrative verdict.
The Bristol Children’s Hospital was embroiled in scandal in the Eighties and Nineties when it was found that at least 35 babies died and scores may have been saved if they had not been operated on there.
It has led to a national shake-up of the way in which children with congenital heart defects are operated on and cared for.
A spokeswoman for the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust apologised. She said: ‘Immediately following Maisie’s death, the Trust conducted an in-depth investigation to ensure human error like this cannot reoccur. ‘All actions arising from these investigations have been completed or are ongoing.’
The Crews missile
A British father, retired nuclear submarine captain Nick Crews, has recently got a lot of publicity by sending his three children a critical email, somehow made public. You can read it here.
Two of his children have become what American sociologists call “skidders”, people who have dropped down into a lower social class (“station in life”, to use the British euphemism) than their parents — and the third is unhappily living in France, married to a French dentist.
The father is greatly disappointed by all that and finally let his feelings be known in the email. He gave his children the very considerable advantage (in Britain) of a private school education and feels that they have squandered their opportunities in life.
Responses to his email have been very mixed, with people both approving and disapproving of it. But what I want to point out is that there is an extent to which the email is not personal. It is an intergenerational email and marks a large transition in British values over recent decades. The views of Capt. Crews RN are probably still the dominant values in Britain but not by a big margin. Younger Brits are notably more libertine and morally unanchored. The old British values of duty, hard work, patience and self-restraint are fading.
I suppose I stand somewhere in the middle on all that. I have been married four times so am no exemplar of the old values. Yet I put in a lot of effort in my earlier years that has seen me comfortably situated economically and also given me cordial personal relationships generally. And that includes relationships with my son and three stepchildren. And my stepson, with whom I get on exceptionally well, is actually a bankrupt!
So were the children of Capt. Crews RN my children I would certainly be disappointed that they were living unflourishing lives but would not be at all critical of their financial or social situations. I would offer what advice I could but would draw the line — as he has — at becoming a listening ear for a torrent of whining. “Making something of oneself” does not really figure in my scale of values. There are many paths to a happy life — JR
More than 150,000 parasites forced off the British welfare teat
More than 150,000 jobless people have been stripped of benefits after refusing to accept help to get back into work.
One in ten long-term unemployed on the Government’s flagship back-to-work programme opted to go without benefit rather than accept help to get them a job.
And thousands more voluntarily stop claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance as soon as they are referred to the Work Programme.
Reports last night claimed that results to be published this week would reveal that fewer than one in 20 on the scheme had so far found a permanent job.
Welfare critics will hail this as proof that many benefit claimants are ‘dole cheats’ who are secretly working on the side.
But there are also suspicions the figures may have been released to distract from the Work Programme’s wider performance.
The Work Programme, launched in June 2011 with a £5 billion budget, pays private firms and voluntary bodies to retrain the long-term unemployed for the jobs market.
Those who refuse to participate can have their unemployment benefit docked for three months in the first instance and six months for a second refusal. Anyone who refuses three times in the same 12 months can lose benefits for up to three years.
Last night, the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that up to April this year, 73,260 of these sanctions had been handed out – accounting for roughly one in ten potential participants. By September, the figure was on course to rise beyond 150,000. The Mail on Sunday understands that sanctions are now running at about 15,000 a month.
Last night, Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: ‘Sadly, some people are clearly very determined to avoid getting a job at all.
‘But we are very clear – sitting at home on benefits is not an option for those who are fit and capable of work.
‘Through the Work Programme, we are offering the hardest-to-help claimants extensive support in order for them to take control of their lives and return to work. ‘They need to do their bit to find a job but we’ll be there to help them.’
But in an interview yesterday, Mr Hoban admitted that returning people to work was ‘proving difficult’ and called on the firms running the programme to ‘get their act together’.
Earlier this month, Labour welfare spokesman Liam Byrne claimed that referrals to the scheme were plunging as Jobcentre staff lost faith in it. He said: ‘The Government’s back-to-work schemes are descending into a chaotic mess.’
‘I need more staff but they’d rather live off benefits’: Bakery boss blasts claimants – and the system that rewards idleness
When orders for their award-winning pies took off, a family bakery business urgently tried to recruit more staff.
They offered decent pay rates and a permanent job. The only skills boss Roger Topping asked for were ‘common sense and a work ethic’.
But what followed has left Mr Topping ‘frustrated, bewildered and shocked’ and more convinced than ever that reforms to the benefits system can’t come soon enough.
For it soon became clear that the recruits who turned up at the Topping Pie Company in Doncaster weren’t interested in a job.
Ministers plan to bring in a Universal Credit payment to simplify the benefits system to ensure those who take a job don’t lose out financially.
Last night Mr Topping criticised the way the current system rewards the workshy. ‘They don’t want to work and more to the point they don’t have to work,’ he said. One young man lasted just two minutes into his first shift before he walked out.
The company gave another 22-year-old, who had been to prison, the chance to turn his life around. But after two weeks doing a packing job, he stopped coming in and decided ‘he couldn’t cope with working’.
Another applicant was a middle-aged man who put on his CV that he had just served a long prison term for aggravated burglary, was a member of the BNP and suffered from a bad back.
‘I assume he put all that down to make sure he didn’t get a job,’ said Mr Topping, 64. The pie company has seen its order book almost double in value since the spring. Their freshly-made pies are sold in supermarkets across the country, as well as Selfridges, Fenwicks and numerous upmarket delis and farm shops.
Yet despite a recruitment drive, their 34-strong permanent workforce is slightly down on what is was six months ago.
The only way the company has been able to fulfil its orders is by overworked staff doing even more hours than before.
Management want to hire ten workers in the bakery and packing departments, but it is proving an almost impossible task. The unemployed of Doncaster – of which there are officially 18,100 – don’t seem up for the job.
Mr Topping, whose father started the company as a butcher’s in 1960, said: ‘I don’t think this is a local problem, it’s a national problem. We all know the system is wrong.
‘It would appear to be too easy not to have to go to work to earn a living and to pay the bills. How are they paying their bills?
‘From an employer’s situation it’s extremely frustrating. The work ethic is sadly lacking.’ Mr Topping said he used local agencies to hire staff, who are given a pay rise and taken on permanently if all goes well after a short trial period.
‘I don’t care what background they come from I just want good, honest hard-workers,’ he said.
‘We are a family business and our staff are not just numbers, they are people. If the company is successful, they keep a job and we all prosper.’
However, Wendy McMahon, the supervisor who sifted through dozens of CVs, said usually the raw recruits complain after a few days about having to do proper work hours. ‘They always seem keen and committed to the job and then we start getting excuses. All they need is to be willing to learn and do a hard day’s work.
‘We tell them they have a future here and can move up the ladder, they just don’t seem interested.’
It’s not the first time the business has faced recruitment problems. Mr Topping took on six Poles several years ago because vacancies were left empty and has been delighted with their work ethic. ‘The problem seems to be with the long-term unemployed,’ he said.
Investigation launched into why couple’s foster children were taken from them ‘after they joined Ukip’
A council that broke up a foster family because the parents were members of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) was strongly criticised by the Education Secretary today for its ‘indefensible’ decision.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said social workers at the council had made ‘the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons’ and that he would be personally investigating and exploring steps to ‘deal with’ the situation.
The married couple claimed they had their foster children taken away from them for joining the political party by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.
By the council’s own admission the youngsters were happy and there was no question mark over the foster parents’ provision of care.
The council has also launched an investigation into why the three youngsters were removed.
Mr Gove, who heads the Government department responsible for children’s services and who was himself adopted as a child, accused Rotherham of sending out a ‘dreadful signal’.
‘Rotherham council have made the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons,’ he said. ‘Rotherham’s reasons for denying this family the chance to foster are indefensible.
‘The ideology behind their decision is actively harmful to children. We should not allow considerations of ethnic or cultural background to prevent children being placed with loving and stable families. We need more parents to foster, and many more to adopt.
‘Any council which decides that supporting a mainstream UK political party disbars an individual from looking after children in care is sending a dreadful signal that will only decrease the number of loving homes available to children in need. ‘I will be investigating just how this decision came to be made and what steps we need to take to deal with this situation.’
Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, today said ‘We are going to investigate to make sure everything has been done professionally. If the professionals give advice, we take it.
‘We are going to investigate – we always would if somebody complains. We are looking to make sure all the correct procedures were carried out before the decision was made. There is no policy, as has been implied, that if you are a British National Party member you can’t foster children.’
Social workers told the couple, who were caring for three children from ethnic minorities, that the party had ‘racist’ policies and that their membership of it made them unsuitable carers.
The foster parents, who have been caring for children for nearly seven years and had been described as ‘exemplary’, said they were left feeling ‘stigmatised and slandered’.
The case has provoked outrage from across the political spectrum with Labour leader Ed Miliband saying: ‘Being a member of Ukip should not be a bar to adopting or fostering children. ‘We need an urgent investigation by Rotherham Council into the circumstances of this case.
‘I don’t know all the facts of this case but I am clear, what matters is children in Rotherham and elsewhere, and being a member of a political party like Ukip should not be a bar to fostering children. ‘We need to find out the facts and the council urgently needs to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
‘The couple concerned are making extremely serious claims, very disturbing claims.
‘Right-thinking people across the country will think there are thousands of children who need to be looked after, who need fostering, we shouldn’t have the situation where membership of a party like Ukip excludes you from doing that.
‘We need loving homes for children across the country. That can come in different forms, it’s not about what political party you are a member of.’
The couple are worried they will be stopped from fostering again because of their membership of the UK Independence Party, which campaigns for Britain to leave the EU.
Around a dozen children have been cared for by the couple, who do not want to be named.
The three latest children, a baby girl, boy and an older girl from a troubled family, came to them in September on an emergency placement. But just eight weeks later, two staff from the Labour-run Rotherham council – the nearest to their village home in South Yorkshire – arrived and announced the local safeguarding children team had been told they were Ukip members in an anonymous tip.
The wife told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I was dumbfounded. Then my question to both of them was, “What has Ukip got to do with having the children removed?”
‘Then one of them said, “Well, Ukip have got racist policies”. The implication was that we were racist.
‘[The social worker] said Ukip does not like European people and wants them all out of the country to be returned to their own countries.
‘I’m sat there and I’m thinking, “What the hell is going off here?” because I wouldn’t have joined Ukip if they thought that. I’ve got mixed race in my family.’
She claimed the social worker said: ‘We would not have placed these children with you had we known you were members of Ukip because it wouldn’t have been the right cultural match.’
The children were all removed by the end of the week, leaving the couple ‘bereft’. The wife said that the children had been loved like they were the couple’s own. The wife said: ‘We felt like we were criminals. From having a little baby in my arms, suddenly there was an empty cot.’
New teacher training system in Britain designed to get smart teachers into sink schools
Another 2-year “training” course after a degree. An extra two years relaxing in an undemanding educational environment must be attractive amid the dearth of jobs in Britain but, when the graduates face the classes they are supposed to teach, mere timeserving is to be expected in most cases
A multi-million-pound scheme to increase massively the number of elite teachers parachuted into Britain’s toughest schools will be announced by the Government tomorrow.
The funding will help train 2,000 top graduates a year to teach in schools in inner cities and other deprived parts of the country.
The money, to be unveiled by Education Secretary Michael Gove, is the latest tranche granted by the Government to the charity Teach First, which was set up to woo high-flyers to swap lucrative City jobs for the classroom.
The Government said tens of thousands of children from disadvantaged backgrounds would benefit because the charity operates only in schools where at least half the pupils come from the poorest third of families in England.
Mr Gove said: ‘The quality of teachers has a greater influence on children’s achievement than any other aspect of their education. Every pupil, regardless of their background, deserves high-quality teaching in order to succeed in life. Teach First helps get some of our brightest graduates into some of our most challenging classrooms. We are committed to supporting the charity in its efforts to reach more schools.’
Founded by former City business consultant Brett Wigdortz in 2002, Teach First takes on only high-calibre graduates who have a 2:1 degree or above and trainees must go through a rigorous assessment process and intensive two-year training programme.
So selective is the screening that many of the would-be teachers are weeded out and Teach First approves only about 12 per cent of applicants. The organisation already takes on more than 1,000 graduates a year who want to avoid the traditional teacher-training path, and the new money, expected to be about £7 million, will almost double the numbers.
Already the biggest recruiter from Oxford and Cambridge, the charity will next year become Britain’s biggest graduate recruitment organisation. Trainees are required to stay in the classroom for only two years, and many sign up to hone skills, such as communication, that they believe will serve them well in future careers.
But more than half stay in teaching and the most inspirational are fast-tracked into senior roles.
Mr Wigdortz welcomed the new Government funding and said: ‘This support is vital to help us achieve our ambitious aim to ensure that no child’s educational success is limited by their socio-economic background.’
Though it began in London and spread to other cities, including Manchester, the charity is now expanding into coastal and rural schools suffering from disadvantages. The new grant, which takes Government support for Teach First to nearly £40 million, is part of Mr Gove’s plans to boost education standards by attracting the brightest students into teaching.
In addition to the Teach First scheme, graduates with first-class degrees who specialise in subjects in which there is a shortage of teachers, such as maths and science, can be given financial incentives of up to £20,000 to train on conventional courses, and former soldiers are also being encouraged to sign up.
Meanwhile, the Government has said it will no longer fund the training of graduates who have obtained only a third-class degree. New figures show that more than seven out of ten new trainees now have at least a 2:1 – the highest proportion ever recorded.
The figures also show the quality of trainee teachers has improved in the core subjects where there have traditionally been shortages, including maths, physics, chemistry and modern foreign languages.
Britain being hit by rise in graduate ‘brain drain’
The number of British students heading overseas for their first job has soared by a quarter in just three years amid fresh warnings over a graduate “brain drain”.
Almost 5,200 university leavers sought employment in mainland Europe, the Far East and North America last year – up by 1,000 since the start of the economic crisis.
Official figures show that graduates from the very best universities are significantly more likely to be tempted overseas, prompting fears that Britain’s most talented young people were being forced to look abroad for employment during the downturn.
Almost one-in-10 British graduates from institutions such as Cambridge, Durham, Exeter and Oxford who found jobs in 2011 were working overseas. The rate jumped to 12 per cent among British students from St Andrews.
Experts said that in some cases major international corporations were targeting students from the very best universities during annual “milk round” employment fairs.
Other students are securing jobs with multinationals based in Britain only to be posted overseas, it was claimed.
According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, around four-in-10 graduates working abroad were based in Europe, but a fifth secured jobs in the Far East and 12 per cent were in North America.
The disclosure comes just weeks after a report from the Home Office revealed that almost half of all Britons who emigrate each year are professionals and company managed – threatening the country’s supply of highly-skilled workers.
It was claimed that a “large and increasing” number of executives, scientists, academics and doctors have chosen to leave Britain over the last 20 years.
Last night, business leaders expressed alarm over the latest disclosure, insisting that many British companies were struggling to recruit high-quality graduates, particularly in areas such as science, engineering and maths.
Verity O’Keefe, employment adviser for the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said: “It is worrying that the UK is increasingly losing top graduate talent to competing countries. Having invested in students during their years of study, we need to be doing our utmost to keep hold of them.
“Employers offer lucrative employment deals and pay packages to secure the best talent. If this information is not being channelled to our young people at an early stage, then we need to be looking at more innovative ways of getting this message across. “Four in five manufacturers are currently reporting recruitment problems, if we do not act to prevent these trends, this figure will undoubtedly rise.”
HESA data shows the number of British students in jobs abroad six months after leaving university in 2011. It emerged that 5,175 students were working overseas compared with 4,060 in 2008 – an increase of 27 per cent.
Some 210 students from Oxford and Cambridge were in jobs abroad – up 35 per cent on 2008. At other Russell Group universities, numbers increased from 1,595 to 2,030, reflecting the 27 per cent rise registered nationally.
Separate HESA figures showed a breakdown of British students working abroad after leaving each university. On average, just 3.4 per cent of working graduates found jobs overseas, but the rate soared for those leaving Britain’s best universities. Some 1,345 Cambridge graduates from Britain were in employment after six months, including 115 working overseas – 8.6 per cent.
Gordon Chesterman, director of the careers service at Cambridge, said there had been a substantial increase in students taking up foreign language courses alongside their degrees, a possible sign of wanting to move abroad.
The overseas employment rate stood at 7.1 per cent at Bristol, 8.6 per cent at Durham, 8.4 per cent at Exeter, eight per cent at Oxford, 7.1 per cent at the London School of Economics, 10.5 per cent at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, 7.1 per cent at Aberdeen, 12 per cent at St Andrews and 10 per cent at Ulster University.
Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students, said: “It’s not surprising that more graduates are finding work abroad when employers are offering fewer graduate level roles and jobseekers are being asked to jump through hoops like unaffordable internships in order to get any job.”
Martin Birchall, Managing Director of High Fliers Research, which tracks the graduate jobs market, said a number of global companies targeted universities such as Oxbridge every year in an attempt to recruit the brightest talent.
He added that companies such as BP, Shell and HSBC – with extensive British bases – often recruited top graduates and put them to work in offices in other countries.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: “Whilst graduates, like others, do of course suffer in recessions, they fare better than non-graduates, and their prospects tend to pick up more quickly during the recovery. And demand for more highly skilled employees in our economy continues to increase. “It is encouraging that UK graduates are in demand globally, reflecting recognition of world class excellence in our universities’ teaching and research.”
A spokesman for St Andrews said: “We probably punch above our weight in international job markets because of our student demographic and the recognised quality of a St Andrews degree.”
An Oxford spokesman insisted the figures for the university were skewed by an increase in the number of the university’s graduates being included in HESA’s data for 2011 compared with 2008, adding: “Only around seven to eight per cent of students choose to leave the UK for work in each of the last four years.”
British government ministers fall out in new row over wind farms
The growing Coalition row over wind farms saw a Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister take legal advice in a battle to remove official responsibilities from his Conservative deputy.
The fall out – one of the most serious Whitehall clashes since the Coalition was formed in May 2010 – involved Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, appealing in vain to David Cameron over comments made by John Hayes, the Energy Minister, who is a firm opponent of onshore wind power.
Last night, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) admitted there were “some differences over some areas of policy” between the two.
This month. Mr Hayes defied his Lib Dem boss to insist no more wind farms beyond those already planned would be built. “Job done . end of story,” he said in a round of interviews.
A furious Mr Davey revealed this weekend that Mr Hayes’s remarks “against Coalition policy” had seen him attempt to have Mr Hayes stripped of his departmental responsibility for green energy policy.
He said he had consulted lawyers from his department over concerns that Mr Hayes’s continued presence in the job risked the department’s decisions being more at risk of judicial review at a time when the Government was trying to create “certainty” for energy investors.
Mr Davey said: “I left the decision with the Prime Minister. He has not written back formally, but it is fair to guess that he has come to the conclusion that renewable energy deployment could stay with John.”
The dispute appears to prevent anything resembling a working relationship between the two and underlines the stark differences of approach to a key policy between Liberal Democrats and most Tories.
Last week saw George Osborne, the Chancellor, strike a “deal” with Liberal Democrat ministers to pay for nuclear power stations and wind farms. Households and businesses will have to pay £7.6 billion a year by 2020 – with a typical energy bill set to rise by up to £178 annually.
Conservatives claimed the agreement saw Mr Osborne emerge victorious – because the Lib Dems originally wanted more taxpayer cash spent on green energy sources in the long term.
A Lib Dem demand for a target which would have forced Britain to get all its power from green sources by 2030 was thrown out, enraging green groups.
However, Mr Davey hit back with a claim that Mr Osborne has allowed him to give “advice” to the National Grid on the need to prioritise renewable energy. He said he would be sending the message “very clearly” that the Grid must increase the ratio of green energy consumed. He also declared that shale gas reserves – a source being seized on by Conservatives as being likely to help meet Britain’s energy needs will not make a significant short-term contribution to the UK’s energy “mix”.
Mr Cameron ruffled Lib Dem feathers with changes at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in September’s reshuffle. Responsibility for green energy was taken away from Charles Hendry, a Tory who supports wind farms, and handed to Mr Hayes.
Last month Mr Hayes said: “We can no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities. I can’t single-handedly build a new Jerusalem but I can protect our green and pleasant land. “We have issued a call for evidence on wind. We need to understand communities’ genuine desires. We will form our policy in the future on the basis of that, not on a bourgeois Left article of faith.”
Mr Davey said: “When he made his statements against Coalition policy, I did think there was a question mark whether he should even continue to have responsibility for renewable energy deployment. I asked the legal department here whether there was a danger John had prejudiced himself because he had made these statements, and they said there was a danger.”
A DECC spokeswoman said: “The Coalition has agreed an ambitious package on energy policy that will put the UK on track to delivering its low-carbon objectives. John Hayes and Ed Davey are working together on this in the national interest.
“Yes, there are some differences over some areas of policy, but there is also a great deal of agreement.”
Cold homes are triggering heart attacks and strokes in older people – and costing the NHS £1.36billion a year
Greenie-driven increases in the costs of heating in the UK are pricing it out of the reach of many elderly. A few pounds can make a lot of difference to the elderly
Crippling energy prices and badly insulated homes will lead to the loss of thousands of lives and seriously damage older people’s health this winter, warns a new report.
It shows cold homes are costing the NHS £1.36 billion every year in hospital and primary care as older people struggle with respiratory problems, stroke and heart attacks triggered by the cold.
Around 27,000 excess winter deaths are expected this year, including avoidable fatalities among older people, says the charity Age UK.
In a new report The Cost of Cold, it says a `major factor’ in two out of five extra winter deaths is living in a cold home.
It says superior building standards in countries like Finland and Sweden which insist on insulation and double glazing mean they have warmer homes than in the UK, which has a milder climate.
There are higher rates of excess winter deaths – above what would normally be expected – in Britain compared with Scandinavian countries.
Older people living in cold homes are at higher risk of death and illnesses such as arthritis and rheumatism, with the risks going up as temperatures plummet.
There are around 8,000 extra deaths for every one degree drop in average temperature.
Temperatures lower than 16 degrees appear to impair respiratory functions, those below 12 degrees place strain on the cardiovascular system and temperatures below six degrees place people at risk of hypothermia, say researchers.
People living in the coldest homes are three times as likely to die from a cold-related illness compared to those in warmer homes, says the report.
`The prevalence of poorly insulated homes coupled with sharp increases in energy prices over recent years has exacerbated the UK’s growing fuel poverty problem, forcing many older people to cut back on their heating in a bid to control costs’ says the report.
Millions of older people are having to choose between staying warm and energy bills they can afford, the report warns
Millions of older people are having to choose between staying warm and energy bills they can afford, the report warns
Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK said `It’s an absolute scandal that tens of thousands of older people will become ill or die this winter because they are unable to keep warm.
`Not only is this resulting in an incalculable human cost but the NHS is spending more than a billion pounds on treating the casualties of cold every year.
‘Can’t we turn the heating on just once?’
`At the root of the problem are badly insulated homes, which together with cripplingly high energy prices, are leaving millions of older people having to choose between staying warm and energy bills they can afford.
`We are calling on all local authorities to recognise the issue as a major health priority and make sure they are doing everything within their power to keep older people warm.
`The government must also invest in a major energy efficiency programme to help insulate older people against the cold weather and the high cost of energy’ she said.
The Age UK report found two-fifths of people wrongly see hypothermia as the biggest threat to older people’s health in winter, as it accounts for only one in 100 excess winter deaths.
The most common risk factor is cardiovascular diseases – strokes caused by blood-clotting or heart attacks – which account for 40 per cent of excess winter deaths.
Last year a report found poor insulation means £1 in every £4 spent heating homes in Britain is wasted.