Women in depths of despair are treated heartlessly by NHS staff, says watchdog
Women who suffer miscarriages are being treated in a heartless ‘conveyor belt’ system, according to the NHS watchdog. Its report says patients who have lost their baby are often dealt with by ‘insensitive’ doctors, nurses and receptionists. Many are left to wait on wards where they can hear others giving birth, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
Setting out new guidelines, the watchdog is demanding that staff be retrained to show ‘dignity and respect’. Nice says that staff must be aware of the ‘significant distress’ women go through during and after a miscarriage.
Its report also suggests new measures to stop healthy babies being aborted. In some cases foetuses are needlessly terminated after doctors are unable to detect a heartbeat. [What a horror!] Doctors are being told to carry out a second scan a week to a fortnight later to be sure a foetus is no longer alive.
There are also new guidelines to treat ectopic pregnancies, in which an embryo implants itself in the fallopian tube instead of the womb. The condition occurs in one in 100 pregnancies and can eventually threaten the mother’s life. The foetus rarely survives. Doctors may confuse the symptoms of ectopic pregnancies with bladder infections or appendicitis.
The watchdog also wants hospitals to run specialised ‘pregnancy assessment services’ at evenings and weekends as well as in the week, so that women have easy access to the best care.
Around one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. Some 168,000 women go through the ordeal each year in England.
The chairman of the Birth Trauma Association, Julie Orford, who advised Nice, described how doctors gave her a ‘cup of tea and a leaflet’ after saying she had lost the baby. ‘It felt very much like a conveyor belt and I found it insensitive to be put in a waiting room full of people when we had been given such bad news,’ she said.
‘It was summer and the windows were open so I could hear ladies who were in labour on the maternity ward downstairs. ‘This made it more upsetting because I knew I was in the process of losing my baby. Emotionally, I was devastated. I felt numb, shocked and emotionally drained. ‘Nobody spoke to you in a sensitive manner and I guess when there is a shortage of beds they are just trying to get you in and out.’
Gynaecology specialist Professor Mary Ann Lumsden of Glasgow University, who chaired the Nice panel, said: ‘We try to teach junior doctors that it doesn’t cost a great deal to be sympathetic.’
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: ‘Pregnant women deserve the best care possible. Many hospitals offer it, but provision can sometimes show unacceptable variations throughout our NHS.’
Population of immigrants in England and Wales jumps by THREE MILLION in 10 years as census shows more than one in eight people are foreign
The scale of mass immigration over the last decade was laid bare today when census data revealed that the immigrant population of England and Wales went up by 3million over the past decade.
In 2011, 7.5million residents were foreign-born, making up 13 per cent of the population – up from 4.6million people in 2001.
Another major change came in the decreasing number of Christians – 4million fewer people claimed to belong to the faith as a quarter of Britons said they had no religion.
There were 33.2million people claiming to be Christian, down from 37.3million in 2001 and making up just 59 per cent of the population. 25.1 per cent of people said they had no faith, up from 14.8 per cent a decade earlier, while the proportion of Muslims rose from 3.0 per cent to 4.8 per cent.
The third most popular religion was Hinduism, with 1.5 per cent of the population, while 0.8 per cent were Sikhs and 0.5 per cent Jewish.
The statistics emerged as the Archbishop of Canterbury claimed that English cathedral congregations had grown dramatically in recent years, debunking the ‘cliché’ that the Church of England is fading away.
The data on religion showed considerable national variation – Knowsley, in Lancashire, is the most Christian town in England with 80.9 per cent of residents following the faith, while in London’s Tower Hamlets 34.5 per cent of the population are Muslims.
Norwich is the most godless place in the country, as 42.5 per cent said they had no religion – despite the presence of one of England’s most spectacular cathedrals.
Britain’s increasing diversity was emphasised by the data released by the Office of National Statistics, as it emerged that the proportion of the nation that is white has fallen below 90 per cent for the first time.
48.2million people described themselves as being white, making up 86.0 per cent of the population of England and Wales, down from 91.3 per cent a decade earlier. 7.5 per cent of the population is Asian, while 3.4 per cent described themselves as black.
Unsurprisingly, London was found to be the most ethnically diverse region, while Wales was the least. London is also home to the most immigrants, as 37 per cent of its residents were born abroad and 24 per cent are not citizens of the UK.
One major reason for the explosion in the foreign-born population is the accession of 12 countries in central and eastern Europe to the EU, giving them the right to live and work in the UK – the population of Poles in England and Wales has grown nine-fold over the decade.
Apart from Poland, the other leading countries of origin for British immigrants were India, Pakistan, Ireland and Germany.
The largest increase in ethnic group over the last decade was seen in the ‘White: Other’ category where an increase of 1.1million was recorded. This reflects more than half a million Poles who migrated into England and Wales during these years, the ONS said.
Around 2million respondents listed their partners or fellow household members as being of different ethnic groups – 47 per cent more than in 2001.
There are now nearly as many Catholics as Protestants in Northern Ireland, it was revealed today.
According to last year’s census, 48 per cent of population describe themselves as Protestant, while 45 per cent are Catholic.
In 2001, 53 per cent were Protestant and 44 per cent Catholic.
Almost half of the population described themselves as British when asked to choose from a list of identities.
A total of 48 per cent considered themselves British, while 29 per cent said they were Northern Irish and 28 per cent called themselves Irish.
Further data show some 4.8million people now hold a non-UK passport. Of these, 2.3million have EU passports.
Unemployed single mother on British welfare who spends £2,000 on Christmas with 20 presents for each of her children
She’s the sensible one. It is British socialism that has caused this destructive situation
While many families are worrying about how to afford Christmas this year, one jobless single mother has revealed she receives so much in benefits she has £2,000 to spend on designer gifts, clothes and partying.
Mother-of-two Leanna Broderick plans to buy 20 presents for each of her children, including Burberry and Ralph Lauren outfits, iPads and gold jewellery.
The 20-year-old, who has never worked, claims nearly £15,500 a year in state handouts.
She claims she is better off on benefits and would not get a job unless she could continue her luxury lifestyle, which includes designer outfits, holidays abroad, clubbing, lunches out and expensive gifts for her daughters Zelekah, two, and Zakirah, one.
‘Last year, I saved £2,500 and my kids had 50 presents each, including Burberry and Ralph Lauren clothes and dolls, DVDs and CDs.
‘This year, I’ve saved £2,000 and they’ll get 20 presents each, including iPads and a new Disney-themed bedroom to share, with designer wall art and bed linen,’ she said.
She is also buying gold earrings for Zelekah, who has pierced ears, and keeping £300 for the sales and £150 for a New Year’s Eve outing.
Miss Broderick, who left school at 16 with no GCSEs, said: ‘I don’t care if people get annoyed. I don’t take advantage, I just choose to save – it’s smart.’
She said there was ‘no point’ earning less in a minimum wage job and having to pay for childcare on top.
After becoming pregnant at 17 with her on-off 23-year-old boyfriend, Miss Broderick was allocated a temporary three-bed council house.
When Zelekah was eight months old she considered working in care, but then became pregnant again by the same man.
Now split from the girls’ father, she has a new two-bedroom council flat in Croydon, South London, with a garden, which is paid for by her £111 weekly housing benefit – part of £1,290 a month total claim.
She said: ‘I didn’t want to miss out on my kids’ childhoods or have someone else raise them. I’m not one of those girls who gets pregnant for the benefits.’
The money for Christmas comes from the £250 she saves each month, which she said shows she is ‘really responsible’.
She adds: ‘Anyone who thinks people on benefits don’t deserve nice things is talking rubbish. I work 24/7 as a mother. ‘This way, taxpayers know I’m raising two well-brought-up kids.’
But she admits Christmas might not be so lavish next year because of the Government’s benefit cuts. ‘I’m not against the cuts, but only if the Government helps me find a job,’ she said. ‘In the meantime, I’ll stay on benefits and get as much as I can out of it.’
Let’s do away with British insult to free speech
A law that can be used to arrest a man who said ‘woof’ to a dog has no place in Britain
By Geoffrey Dear (Lord Dear is a Crossbench member of the House of Lords. Previously he was chief constable of West Midlands, and HM Inspector of Constabulary )
As a former police officer and chief constable, and as a member of the House of Lords, I fully understand the importance of free speech. It helps to preserve the unique set of beliefs and values that underpin our society.
But I strongly believe that Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, which makes it illegal to use “threatening, abusive or insulting” words or behaviour if they are likely to cause “harassment, alarm or distress”, can be used to undermine free speech because of the way it is framed.
That is why the House of Lords will vote tomorrow on my proposed amendment to this Act. If approved, it will see the removal of the term “insulting”.
The wording of Section 5 has been a concern since the passage of the 1986 Act itself. Although similar wording had appeared in earlier legislation, in 1986 the threshold was lowered to include anything “within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby”. No one need actually be alarmed – such alarm need only be “likely” in the view of police or prosecutors.
At the time, Professor A T H Smith, now Cambridge Professor of Criminal and Public Laws, said: “Because of the potential breadth of the language in which the section is drafted, it affords scope for injudicious policing.”
Threats and abuse are always wrong and outlawing them is clearly justified. The term “insulting”, however, is subjective and vague. Increasingly the police and other law-enforcement agencies are misinterpreting the legislation to such an extent that it is impinging on the right to free speech.
In 2009 the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) observed: “Whilst arresting a protester for using ‘threatening or abusive’ speech may, depending on the circumstances, be a proportionate response, we do not think that language or behaviour which is merely ‘insulting’ should ever be criminalised in this way.”
The late Lord Monson, a champion of personal liberties, agreed. Speaking in the House of Lords in the same year, he observed that “the word ‘abusive’ can be judged objectively, but ‘insulting’ is totally subjective. What one person finds offensive, the next person may be indifferent to… It did not matter very much at first, because I think that the public 20-odd years ago were less thin-skinned than they are now… People are positively encouraged to be touchy, both by the media – whether deliberately or not – and pressure groups.”
The comedian and a fellow campaigner for reform, Rowan Atkinson, recently summed up the difficulties posed by the inclusion of the term “insulting” in the Act. He warned that, under Section 5, criticism, unfavourable comparison or “merely stating an alternative point of view” can be interpreted as an insult and lead to arrest.
The law, in its current form, has been used to arrest gay activists, Christian preachers and a student who called a police horse “gay”. A critic of Scientology was summoned under Section 5. And a young man who said “woof” to a dog was actually convicted, although a court later cleared him. There must be something wrong with a law that can be used by police, prosecutors and the courts in such an excessively broad way.
Opponents of reform argue, incorrectly, that by removing the term “insulting” from the Act, individuals will be at liberty to verbally abuse vulnerable people.
This ignores the existence of other pieces of legislation, better suited to tackling these offences. Laws such as public nuisance, breach of the peace, harassment and incitement to hatred ensure there are more than sufficient powers to bring perpetrators of such crimes to justice. Furthermore, as case law demonstrates, Section 5 in its amended form would still be sufficient to prosecute individuals who are being abusive. This includes foul-mouthed rants targeted at individuals – including the police – which are capable of being deemed as either abusive or threatening.
In a last-minute development, the Crown Prosecution Service now supports this view. In a letter to me, dated December 6, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, explained that: “Having now considered the case law in greater depth, we are unable to identify a case in which the alleged behaviour leading to conviction could not be characterised as ‘abusive’ as well as ‘insulting’. I therefore agree that the word ‘insulting’ could be safely removed without the risk of undermining the ability of the CPS to bring prosecutions.”
Behaviour that is merely “insulting” should not be criminal in a democracy. The vote tomorrow is an important opportunity to enhance free speech. I hope the House of Lords will approve my amendment.
The £100,000 degree: Middle class British graduates face repaying more than three times the cost of fees
There is seldom any mention on this subject of why British students need loans at all. I paid all my son’s fees up front so he emerged with zero debt. And I am not halfway to Obama’s definition of “rich”. I would have thought that many British middle-income people would also pay upfront. Clearly, the fees are very high relative to average British disposable incomes. Britain is a poor country — in part because they are taxed to the eyeballs — JR
When Universities Minister David Willetts trebled the cap on tuition fees, he said a graduate would earn an average of £100,000 more over a lifetime. That figure appeared to justify many universities charging students £9,000 a year for their education.
But Government figures reveal that the £100,000 benefit could be completely wiped out for thousands of middle-class graduates.
Graduates who go on to get a middle-income job could see the cost of their loan rocket by more than three times the total of the fees as a result of interest charges.
That enormous debt compares with repayments of as little as £42,000 for the richest graduates, who earn enough to repay their loans quickly, and repayments of zero for some of the poorest graduates, who will eventually have their debts wiped after 30 years because they have never earned enough to begin paying them back.
Taking into account living costs, the average student debt is predicted to hit £53,000 by graduation.
The landmark £100,000 figure, revealed in Government documents, includes the interest piled on to the debt for some graduates during the time it takes them to repay the loan. It is far higher than the £70,000 it was previously estimated students would end up paying back over their lifetimes.
A graduate’s monthly repayments depend on their earnings and are currently set at 9 per cent of income above £21,000 a year, regardless of the interest rate or size of the loan.
Government figures show almost 300,000 students – 70 per cent of those studying – who started university in the autumn will eventually repay between £65,000 and £85,000.
Those who go into high-paying jobs such as medicine, finance and law will pay back less because they will start to pay off their debts sooner.
Around 20 per cent of graduates with the lowest lifetime earnings will never come close to repaying their fees and the debt will be written off after 30 years.
But around 10 per cent of students who are in the ‘squeezed middle’ and go on to middle-income jobs could end up paying between £85,000 and £100,000.
Chuka Umunna, Labour’s business spokesman, said: ‘Students will never forgive this Government for hiking up the costs of going to university. These figures show that, as ever, it is middle and lower-income families who are being hit hardest.’
Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students, said: ‘It is shocking that politicians treat the potential of a generation before they have even started their working career with such nonchalance.’
University applications in England fell by 9.9 per cent this year after the higher rate of tuition fees was introduced in October.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: ‘The Government’s reforms have made the university system fairer and more progressive.
‘Most new students will not pay upfront, there will be more financial support for those from poorer families and everyone will make lower loan repayments than they do now once they are in well paid jobs.
Meningitis link to smoking in pregnancy: Cigarettes can treble child’s chance of developing the disease
Boring rubbish: Working class people are more likely to smoke and they are less healthy anyway. Connection between smoking and meningitis just assertion
Smoking during pregnancy can treble the baby’s chance of developing meningitis, researchers warn, and children exposed to smoke from a parent’s cigarettes at home are twice as likely to have the deadly illness.
Scientists estimate that more than 600 children a year in Britain develop meningitis as a result of their parents’ second-hand smoke.
They think that passive smoking gradually weakens children’s immune system making them more susceptible to the illness.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham analysed 18 studies which looked at the link between passive smoking and meningitis.
They found that children exposed to second hand smoke in the home were more than twice as likely to get the illness.
The under-fives were even more vulnerable – they were found to be two and a half times more at risk.
And children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy were three times more likely to get meningitis, the study published in BMC Public Health found.
Lead researcher Dr Rachael Murray, from the UK Centre for Tobacco Studies at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘We estimate that an extra 630 cases of childhood invasive meningococcal disease every year are directly attributable to second-hand smoke in the UK alone.
‘While we cannot be sure exactly how tobacco smoke is affecting these children, the findings from this study highlight consistent evidence of the further harms of smoking around children and during pregnancy, and thus parents and family members should be encouraged to not smoke in the home or around children.’
In recent years a number of studies have shown passive smoking increases a child’s risk of meningitis.
But this is one of the first to show the link between a mother smoking during pregnancy.
The findings of this latest study imply this process begins while the baby is still in the womb.