Doctors offered £7,500 ‘bribe’ to stop sending their patients with pneumonia or heart problems to hospital
GPs are to be offered ‘bribes’ of around £7,500 to slash the number of patients they send to accident and emergency.
Under a controversial bonus scheme that will hit the elderly particularly hard, they will be urged not to refer those with pneumonia, severe influenza or heart problems to hospital.
Patients and senior GPs have labelled the scheme a ‘perverse incentive’ and an ‘unethical waste of taxpayers’ money’.
Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GPs’ committee, said: ‘I don’t want a single patient walking into my surgery and saying my grandma’s dead because you refused to admit her. So we’re not going to admit people with pneumonia? I think most doctors will be horrified by this.’
The scheme will be brought in across England this year by the NHS Commissioning Board, which has been created to oversee GP services. As part of Government health reforms, family doctors are in the process of setting up local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to replace primary care trusts.
Each group will be set targets to improve patients’ health and the overall quality of GP services.
If these are met surgeries will be paid bonuses of £5 for every patient on their books, which works out at £30,000 for an average GP practice.
But it has emerged that a quarter of this extra money – an average of £7,500 – will be based on GPs reducing ‘avoidable’ admissions to A&E.
From April, GPs will be monitored for the numbers of patients they refer with pneumonia, severe flu, urinary infections and heart failure – which largely affect older people.
The NHS claims that many such admissions are avoidable because patients could be looked after at home, or better cared for early on so they don’t become so unwell in the first place.
GPs will be paid the money if they reduce these admissions or ensure they don’t increase. They can then decide whether to plough it back into patient care or pay themselves and their staff a bonus.
But Dr Buckman said: ‘This is an inappropriate, unethical waste of taxpayers’ money. Patients might suspect that I was doing things to them in order that I would get money. I don’t want to be paid because someone was admitted or not admitted, I want to be paid because I did my job. ‘I wouldn’t dream of participating in such a scheme.’
He said refusing to admit patients went completely against the Hippocratic Oath, which obliges doctors to carry out their duties ethically and responsibly.
Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, a GP based near Padstow, Cornwall, said: ‘It’s a perverse incentive. I do not believe doctors should be given financial incentives not to refer or treat. A GP puts the person sitting in front of them as the priority. If they need to be referred, they are referred.’
NHS officials believe GPs should improve the care of the elderly and other patients with long-term conditions such as heart failure so they do not need to go to hospital.
But GPs point out that if patients develop pneumonia or suffer a severe angina attack they have no choice but to refer them.
Over the past six years, GPs’ salaries have soared to £110,000 on average, even though they no longer have to work evenings and weekends.
Nurses will be ordered to carry out hourly rounds under new plans to raise NHS standards
Hot air. The nurses will just say they are too busy
All nurses will have to do hourly rounds of their patients under new rules to be outlined by David Cameron today.
The Prime Minister will also demand that every worker in the Health Service – from consultants to hospital porters – receives specialist training in dealing with the one in four patients who suffer from dementia.
The government will ensure that every NHS ward will have a ‘dementia champion’ and every NHS organisation a dementia nursing expert.
One in ten hospitals have ignored previous calls to conduct hourly nursing rounds. They will be given one year from April to comply.
Mr Cameron will also announce plans to extend patient and staff satisfaction surveys across the NHS so every part of it has to pass the ‘friends and family test’, including GP surgeries.
He said: ‘The test is a simple measure but crucially will show whether there is a basic standard of dignity, cleanliness and respect.’
Under the plans, a new £13m fund will help health care assistants to progress to fully-fledged nursing roles and the Care Quality Commission will do a root and branch review of training for care staff to ensure that nobody can provide unsupervised help without an appropriate level of training.
New minimum training standards for care staff will be published within weeks.
In addition, nurses and midwives at the beginning of their career will be given the opportunity to become ‘care makers’, a new initiative to use volunteer ambassadors in hospitals and homes to improve care.
The initiative builds on the success of the London Olympics 2012 ‘Games Makers’. Mr Cameron said: ‘A year ago, I said the whole approach to caring in this country needed to be reset.
‘Since then we have done a lot with more training and better support. And nurses are now checking on patients hour by hour in nine out of ten hospitals.
‘We still have a long way to go to raise standards across the NHS and get rid of those cases of poor and completely unacceptable care that blight some hospitals and homes.
‘I want every hospital to give every patient the best possible care. And I want to see patients given a real voice in deciding whether that care is good enough or not.’
Dr Peter Carter, of the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed the changes. He said: ‘Providing the best quality care for patients has always been at the heart of nursing.
‘Day after day our members tell us that they want to focus their energy on the needs of their patients, spending more time at the bedside caring for them and their families.’ [Lackey!]
But Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham accused the Prime Minister of empty words: ‘When it comes to the NHS, David Cameron is a master of meaningless spin.
‘One by one, he has broken the promises he made and the NHS is now struggling with his toxic medicine of cuts and re-organisation.’.
The failing British primary school that asks pupils to stay till 6pm: Headmaster introduces longer hours in bid to transform results
One of the worst-performing primary schools in the country has introduced a 45-hour week for pupils in a bid to transform results. Pupils at Great Yarmouth Primary Academy stay at school from 7.45am until 6pm – longer than the standard working week.
Under the radical timetable, they enjoy a free programme of after-school activities ranging from horse-riding to cookery, followed by supervised time in which to complete their homework and read.
In its former incarnation as Greenacre Primary, the Norfolk school was among the bottom 200 performers out of 15,000 primaries nationally and was condemned by inspectors as failing in 2010.
The new programme was introduced last September as the school became a semi-independent academy sponsored by millionaire businessman Theodore Agnew.
At first parents were horrified by the idea, with 100 signing a petition to block the changes.
But headmaster Bill Holledge says the extended school day is already leading to ‘real improvement’ in children’s results just a term after it was introduced.
School starts at 8.55am, although pupils are able to attend a free breakfast club from 7.45am.
The standard school day finishes at 3.30pm but those aged seven to 11 are able to stay on for a free programme of extra-curricular activities in sport, drama or music.
Classes include horse-riding, cookery, cello lessons, first aid, street dance and trips to Cambridge University to study rocket engineering.
At 5pm, youngsters in the final two years of the school – nine to 11-year-olds in years five and six – spend a further hour completing homework or practising reading under supervision from teaching assistants.
The extended timetable was introduced with the aim of giving pupils the same opportunities as youngsters from more advantaged backgrounds and those in private schools.
It was also intended to help working parents by allowing them to collect their children at 6pm instead of 3.30pm.
The experiment initially proved controversial with parents who were concerned it would rob children of family time and leave them exhausted.
A petition opposing the scheme attracted more than 100 signatures and 13 pupils were withdrawn from the school before it became an academy, with some parents openly blaming the shift to a longer school day.
But Mr Holledge said pupils had embraced the scheme. ‘It’s been really positive. The vast majority of the pupils are staying and benefiting from the activities,’ he said.
‘The study time part has been tremendously successful and we’re seeing real improvement in the pupils’ attainment. ‘It’s very settled and calm like it’s been in place forever.
‘To start with it felt like a scary adventure, but now it’s what we do and parents have been very supportive. ‘I would say the confidence change has been almost more marked than the academic.
‘The drama and dance has been very productive and given them confidence. They’re more conversational and sociable now.’
The extended timetable is being championed by Mr Agnew, an insurance industry executive, who has personally funded the enrichment programme to the tune of £50,000 this year, rising to £100,000 next.
Explaining the rationale for the scheme, the Tory party donor lamented a widespread ‘apartheid’ between the educational haves and have-nots. ‘Our vision is to show that no matter how deprived a child’s background, given a good, broad and structured education there is no reason why they cannot emerge from their primary schooling as every bit as capable and alive to the opportunities that life will present to them as those from more privileged backgrounds,’ he said. ‘I am determined to end the apartheid in education that is so commonplace in this country.’
Greenacre Primary had been under-performing for several years with a succession of head teachers quickly moving on.
The school, where significant numbers of pupils qualify for free meals due to low household income, was finally taken off the failing list in November 2011 under the leadership of Mr Holledge. It became a sponsored academy nearly a year later with a brief to rapidly improve pupil results.
The school is among growing numbers moving to an extended day after Education Secretary Michael Gove backed the idea last year, to the fury of teaching unions. ‘We are all in favour of longer school days, and potentially shorter summer holidays,’ he said.
At Great Yarmouth Primary Academy, there is no compulsion on teachers to take part. Study time at the end of day is staffed by classroom assistants, who are paid extra.
Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust which runs the academy, said the scheme was helping children to ‘grow in confidence’ and ‘stand taller’.
Initial monitoring of pupils’ results suggested it was already reaping benefits, she said. ‘In the independent sector it costs £22,000-a-year to get this kind of quality education,’ she added.
British councils refuse to reveal number of homes they give to foreigners: Authorities stop giving figures amid worries over impact of immigration
Councils are trying to cover up the number of taxpayer-subsidised homes they are handing to foreigners, it was claimed yesterday.
Local authorities have stopped giving figures for how many houses and flats they have given to foreign citizens amid rising worries over the impacts of immigration, a report said.
Councils in London, where one in five publicly-financed homes are already known to be occupied by foreigners, are among those no longer supplying the figures.
Now MPs have called for an inquiry into the suppression of information on who gets council and housing association homes.
Labour’s Frank Field and Tory Nicholas Soames said in a statement on behalf of the cross-party Balanced Migration group: ‘This is a huge issue for many people.
‘The Government must now launch a full inquiry into what is going on in the allocation of social housing in London.’
The way subsidised homes have been going to foreign citizens and not to families with long-standing local connections has become politically sensitive as immigration hits record levels and the recession has undermined ordinary people’s ability to afford to buy or rent private homes.
Under Tony Blair’s government, senior Labour MPs complained the way in which local families in East London had failed to get public housing while new migrants succeeded had swelled support for the British National Party.
Last year ministers acknowledged that a fifth of the nearly 800,000 publicly-owned homes in London are occupied by families and individuals who are citizens of other countries and not of Britain.
The report from the Migrationwatch think tank said that local authorities in London are now disclosing the nationality of new tenants for fewer than half the homes they let.
Four authorities – Greenwich, Hackney, Lambeth and Newham – have declined to take part in the Government’s count of social housing lettings even though it is a legal requirement for them to do so.
Two more councils, Ealing and Haringey, where there are high numbers of foreign citizens in social housing, have obscured their latest figures by claiming high numbers of tenants refuse to say what their nationality is.
The report said that since waiting lists for social housing are ten times longer than the number of homes made available each year, only a small proportion of families that ask will ever get a house from a council or a housing association.
Migrationwatch added: ‘It is important to be clear that the debate should be about foreign nationals, not people who are foreign born, who should be treated like any other British citizen.’
Its chairman Sir Andrew Green said: ‘It is deeply unsatisfactory that the information on new lets should be so chaotic given the huge importance of this issue to so many families.
The Government must make the nationality question compulsory. This could provide the basis for a renewed debate on the criteria by which social housing should be allocated.’
Coalition ministers have made some changes to social housing allocation rules since 2010, with the aim of giving a greater claim to families with close connections to a local area.
Councils in London let 404,000 houses and flats while state-subsidised housing associations, which do declare the nationality of tenants, have 376,000.
Before the recession Whitehall calculations said that the cost to taxpayers of each socially-owned house or flat was on average £62,000. The figure suggests social housing in London has cost taxpayers almost £50billion.
British ministers launch PR drive to shake off ‘Frankenstein food’ image of GM crops
A PR campaign to change the image of genetically modified food is to be launched by the government.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson wants farmers, scientists and ministers to increase the appeal of so-called Frankenstein Foods among the public.
In a speech today to the Oxford Farming Conference, Mr Paterson insists there are ‘great opportunities’ in pushing GM technology , but admitted the public need reassurance that it is safe.
Since last summer’s reshuffle, Mr Paterson has repeatedly backed GM’s role in keeping food supplies secure.
He has dismissed complaints as ‘humbug’ and claimed ‘there isn’t a single piece of meat being served [in a typical London restaurant] where a bullock hasn’t eaten some GM feed’.
GM crops were grown on 395 million acres in 29 countries in 2011, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
In today’s speech Mr Paterson said: ‘I fully appreciate the strong feelings on both sides of the debate. GM needs to be considered in its proper overall context with a balanced understanding of the risks and benefits.
‘We should not, however, be afraid of making the case to the public about the potential benefits of GM beyond the food chain, for example, significantly reducing the use of pesticides and inputs such as diesel.
‘As well as making the case at home, we also need to go through the rigorous processes that the EU has in place to ensure the safety of GM crops.
‘I believe that GM offers great opportunities but I also recognise that we owe a duty to the public to reassure them that it is a safe and beneficial innovation.’
He said the industry ‘has long been at the forefront of innovation’ and this must continue, including backing GM.
But opponents of an expansion in GM technology claimed just a quarter of people thought it could be ‘encouraged’.
Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, said: ‘Owen Patterson is wrong to claim that GM crops are good for the environment. The UK Government’s own farm scale experiment showed that overall the GM crops were worse for British wildlife.
‘Owen Patterson says that people are eating meat from animals fed of GM feed without realising it. ‘That is because the British Government has consistently opposed moves to label to give consumers accurate information, and he should put that right by immediately introducing compulsory labelling of meat and milk from animals fed on GM feed.’
In his speech in Oxford, Mr Paterson admitted that farming had suffered a ‘tough year’ of floods, high feed costs and diseases such as bovine TB and Schmallenberg.
But he said the industry in the UK produces food for 63.5 million people and supports industries that add nearly £90 billion to the UK economy.
And he pledged that the government must ‘get out of people’s hair and let them get on with what they are good at’.
‘I want our farmers to be farming not form-filling,’ he said, pledging to further reduce the burden of paperwork.
While demanding major reform of the EU’s Commons Agriculture Policy, he defended giving public money to farmers.
‘I do believe that there is a role for taxpayer’s money in compensating farmers for the work they do in enhancing the environment and providing public goods for which there is no market mechanism.
‘Farming makes a real contribution to our habitats and wildlife. We must be able to continue to develop our agri-environment schemes.’
Wind farms vs wildlife
“Renewables pose a far greater threat to wildlife than climate change”
Wind turbines only last for ‘half as long as previously thought’, according to a new study. But even in their short lifespans, those turbines can do a lot of damage. Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial. But the evidence suggests that, this century at least, renewables pose a far greater threat to wildlife than climate change.
I’m a lecturer in biological and human sciences at Oxford university. I trained as a zoologist, I’ve worked as an environmental consultant — conducting impact assessments on projects like the Folkestone-to-London rail link — and I now teach ecology and conservation. Though I started out neutral on renewable energy, I’ve since seen the havoc wreaked on wildlife by wind power, hydro power, biofuels and tidal barrages. The environmentalists who support such projects do so for ideological reasons. What few of them have in their heads, though, is the consolation of science.
My speciality is species extinction. When I was a child, my father used to tell me about all the animals he’d seen growing up in Kent — the grass snakes, the lime hawk moths — and what shocked me when we went looking for them was how few there were left. Species extinction is a serious issue: around the world we’re losing up to 40 a day. Yet environmentalists are urging us to adopt technologies that are hastening this process. Among the most destructive of these is wind power.
Every year in Spain alone — according to research by the conservation group SEO/Birdlife — between 6 and 18 million birds and bats are killed by wind farms. They kill roughly twice as many bats as birds. This breaks down as approximately 110–330 birds per turbine per year and 200–670 bats per year. And these figures may be conservative if you compare them to statistics published in December 2002 by the California Energy Commission: ‘In a summary of avian impacts at wind turbines by Benner et al (1993) bird deaths per turbine per year were as high as 309 in Germany and 895 in Sweden.’
Because wind farms tend to be built on uplands, where there are good thermals, they kill a disproportionate number of raptors. In Australia, the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle is threatened with global extinction by wind farms. In north America, wind farms are killing tens of thousands of raptors including golden eagles and America’s national bird, the bald eagle. In Spain, the Egyptian vulture is threatened, as too is the Griffon vulture — 400 of which were killed in one year at Navarra alone. Norwegian wind farms kill over ten white-tailed eagles per year and the population of Smøla has been severely impacted by turbines built against the opposition of ornithologists.
Nor are many other avian species safe. In North America, for example, proposed wind farms on the Great Lakes would kill large numbers of migratory songbirds. In the Atlantic, seabirds such as the Manx Shearwater are threatened. Offshore wind farms are just as bad as onshore ones, posing a growing threat to seabirds and migratory birds, and reducing habitat availability for marine birds (such as common scoter and eider ducks).
I’ve heard it suggested that birds will soon adapt to avoid turbine blades. But your ability to learn something when you’ve been whacked on the head by an object travelling at 200 mph is limited. And besides, this comes from a complete misconception of how long it takes species to evolve. Birds have been flying, unimpeded, through the skies for millions of years. They’re hardly going to alter their habits in a few months. You hear similar nonsense from environmentalists about so-called habitat ‘mitigation’. There has been talk, for example, during proposals to build a Severn barrage, that all the waders displaced by the destruction of the mud flats can have their inter-tidal habitat replaced elsewhere. It may be what developers and governments want to hear, but recreating such habitats would take centuries not years — even if space were available. The birds wouldn’t move on somewhere else. They’d just starve to death.
Loss of habitat is the single biggest cause of species extinction. Wind farms not only reduce habitat size but create ‘population sinks’ — zones which attract animals and then kill them. My colleague Mark Duchamp suggests birds are lured in because they see the turbines as perching sites and also because wind towers (because of the grass variations underneath) seem to attract more prey. The turbines also attract bats, whose wholesale destruction poses an ever more serious conservation concern.
Bats are what is known as K-selected species: they reproduce very slowly, live a long time and are easy to wipe out. Having evolved with few predators — flying at night helps — bats did very well with this strategy until the modern world. This is why they are so heavily protected by so many conventions and regulations: the biggest threats to their survival are made by us.
And the worst threat of all right now is wind turbines. A recent study in Germany by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research showed that bats killed by German turbines may have come from places 1,000 or more miles away. This would suggest that German turbines — which an earlier study claims kill more than 200,000 bats a year — may be depressing populations across the entire northeastern portion of Europe. Some studies in the US have put the death toll as high as 70 bats per installed megawatt per year: with 40,000 MW of turbines currently installed in the US and Canada. This would give an annual death toll of up to three -million.
Why is the public not more aware of this carnage? First, because the wind industry (with the shameful complicity of some ornithological organisations) has gone to great trouble to cover it up — to the extent of burying the corpses of victims. Second, because the ongoing obsession with climate change means that many environmentalists are turning a blind eye to the ecological costs of renewable energy. What they clearly don’t appreciate — for they know next to nothing about biology — is that most of the species they claim are threatened by ‘climate change’ have already survived 10 to 20 ice ages, and sea-level rises far more dramatic than any we have experienced in recent millennia or expect in the next few centuries. Climate change won’t drive those species to extinction; well-meaning environmentalists might.
Highly paid non-jobs still proliferating in the British state sector
Listen to the Labour Party, the unions and the BBC, and you’d think the public sector is suffering deeply from economic austerity. All talk is of ‘Tory cuts’ and ‘the public spending axe’.
This week, the new head of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, was the latest to bang the drum when she complained: ‘We seem to be locked into a vicious downward spiral of cuts. They are not working, so the Government cuts even more.’
Yet this is pure fantasy. Contrary to all the hysterical rhetoric about the shrinking state, the truth is that public expenditure and borrowing are actually rising.
In the year to October, Government spending rose by 9 per cent compared with the previous year. Admittedly, there have been some areas where there have been cuts — such as in defence — but most of the really big areas of government spending, such as welfare, health care and education, are still growing.
In the public sector, taxpayer-funded pensions remain far more generous than in the private sector, average pay is significantly higher, job security is greater and conditions are better. Even if the Government is able to implement its ‘austerity programme’ over the next five years, public expenditure will still be at the same level in real terms as it was in 2005, at the height of Gordon Brown’s spending boom before the crash.
And, for the rest of the decade, state spending will continue to swallow almost half of all economic output.
Nothing more graphically illustrates the state’s addiction to high spending than the public sector recruitment adverts carried on the website of The Guardian, the Left’s favourite newspaper.
During the profligate years of New Labour, the paper’s weekly public sector jobs supplement (often running to more than 100 pages) provided a fascinating insight into the expansion of the public sector. There were then some posts for front-line service staff. But now the countless vacancies are for the state’s growing army of bureaucrats, campaigners, managers, co-ordinators and outreach workers.
Nicknamed ‘Jobzilla’ after the all-devouring screen monster, this massive job-creation scheme still eats up a fortune in taxpayers’ money and makes a mockery of all the Left-wing shroud-waving about austerity.
The Guardian no longer publishes its weekly public appointments supplement on paper, but the jobs section of its website is full of taxpayer-funded vacancies.
In the past month, advertised jobs have included an £87,000-a-year chief executive for the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Futures organisations (which boasts that it ‘delivers skills’ across the East Midlands, whatever that means) and a director of corporate communications at HM Revenue & Customs, on a salary of £120,000.
The advert contains jargon-filled prose so beloved of the modern public sector. Thus, ‘utilising a diverse range of channels to engage with our customers’ and ‘continuously developing an integrated communication strategy’, the appointee with the taxman will be ‘a team-oriented’ leader who enjoys ‘building capacity’.
It might have been thought that the HMRC, rather than beefing up the ranks of self-serving officialdom, would be setting an example of restraint at such a time. Or even making multi-billion-pound international companies pay their share in tax here in Britain.
Three new employees are wanted for the Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) project in Ealing, West London. It is funded by money from the quango the Big Lottery — which hands out Lottery money to community groups — and dedicated to ‘the emancipation of GRT people and the promotion of racial harmony and cultural exchange’.
The posts include a £27,850 Music and Arts co-ordinator, a £22,875 project co-ordinator and a £36,310 ‘Project Manager/Bid Writer’, who will be ‘responsible for devising funding proposals’ to ensure the project’s long-term viability in ‘empowering’ traveller communities.
This rubric is stark proof of how public subsidy becomes self-generating. For the advertised manager will be paid by the public to work out new ways of attracting ever greater financial support from taxpayers, all in the name of ‘addressing the root causes of equality and discrimination’.
The same self-perpetuating cycle can be seen in the area of sexual healthcare. There is a firm called Michael Bell Associates Research and Consultancy (MBARC) which ‘specialises in work with marginalised communities, including refugees, migrants, substance misusers and sex workers’, with clients ranging from the NHS to local government.
Run by Michael Bell, vice-chairman of the London Strategic Health Authority, it is keen to expand and is recruiting two new ‘Sexual Health Commissioning Support Managers’, each on £38,000 a year, ‘to take forward current work and develop opportunities in this area’. These are positions for which the public purse is effectively paying.
Other jobs in different fields advertised in the past month have included a £29,333-a-year campaigns and identity project manager at the South Downs National Park Authority (a post that will ‘project manage the delivery of a behaviour change campaign focusing on greater use of sustainable transport and other sustainability issues’); a £45,000-a-year ‘Financial Inclusion Manager’ at the Hyde Housing Association in South London; a £23,100-a-year ‘Community Integration Support Worker’ at Winchester Prison, dealing with ‘Substance Misuse’; and a £30,011-a-year Asylum Solicitor/Caseworker at the Avon and Bristol Law Centre, partly funded by local town halls.
Such is the addiction to bureaucracy in the public sector that local councils feel they have to be staffed with platoons of grandly named officers.
For example, Medway Council in North Kent is advertising for staff to work in its ‘Performance and Intelligence Hubs’. The exciting posts include a £40,741-a-year ‘Corporate Strategy and Performance Improvement Officer’, a ‘Performance and Improvement Analyst’ on the same salary, a ‘Corporate Business Information Officer’ and a ‘Business Information Officer’, both on £30,011-a-year, as well as a £30,011 Corporate Consultation officer and a £22,221 ‘Data Officer’.
Other local authorities are also embarking on expensive recruitment exercises at a time when several councils are squealing about Government cuts.
Showing none of the legendary Yorkshire parsimony, Barnsley Council is seeking a trio of senior new municipal officials, each of them on ‘an attractive package’ to fulfil the roles as ‘Senior Marketing Manager’, ‘Assistant Director of Information Services’ and ‘Executive Director of Corporate Services’.
It is a similar story at Waltham Forest in East London, where the council is hiring three new officers: a ‘Head of Employment’, ‘Head of Skills’ and ‘Head of Business’, all on salaries between £47,900 and £59,700.
None of these positions appears to have much to do with the front-line jobs people want the state to do, but then so much of officialdom seems divorced from the genuine needs of their heavily taxed paymasters.
Does the partly publicly funded Battersea Arts Centre, for instance, really need a £30,000-a-year ‘Organisation Coach’ to ‘facilitate staff development’? Will the lives of tenants of the Leeds Federated Housing Association be improved by a £50,000-a-year ‘Head of Social Investment’? Is Peterborough about to be turned into a dream destination by the appointment of a ‘Strategic Tourism Manager’ on a £38,961 salary?
The sad truth is that much of all this public recruitment-speak is self-indulgent spin, dressed up as marketing or public relations. It is all about public bodies seeking to boost their profiles rather than deliver better services.
Thus London Councils, the umbrella body for the capital’s local authorities, has decided to recruit a £44,910-a-year ‘Media Manager’, while Lambeth College has a vacancy for a ‘Head of Marketing and Communications’ on a £47,000 salary.
Aberdeen City Council is looking for a £38,500-a-year ‘Marketing and Communications Officer’; the University of the Arts in London is offering a salary of £32,000 to a new ‘Media Relations Officer’ and Hackney feels it needs a £40,500-a-year ‘Marketing Services Executive’.
The same spirit of self-importance is betrayed in the way politicians build up their subsidised empires and surround themselves with acolytes to enhance their status. So the Tory Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority is seeking a £30,000-a-year ‘Research and Support Officer’ to ‘help co-ordinate media opportunities with the press team’, as well as ‘diary arrangement and briefings for all meetings’.
Justifying the trend towards ever-higher salaries for senior figures in the public sector, civic institutions are fond of making comparisons with the pay rates for executives in the private sector. But this is hardly a convincing argument, since state managers are under nothing like the same pressures as those in the commercial world, where success is achieved by meeting customers’ needs, not by ticking boxes or mouthing fashionable jargon.
Among the array of well-rewarded posts displayed on The Guardian website over the past month have been an £88,000-a-year chief executive of the South Yorkshire Probation Trust, a £70,000-a-year Head of Management Accounting at the Cabinet Office, a ‘Director of Communities, Transformation and Change’ at Kirklees in Yorkshire — for which post a ‘competitive’ but unstated package is offered — and a chief executive at the newly created West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (salary £87,000).
These partnerships are the successor bodies to the despised and extravagant Regional Development Agencies which the Coalition said with self-congratulatory fanfare that it was removing in 2010, only to allow the agencies to be resurrected in an alternative form.
These endless lists of public sector vacancies expose the emptiness of the hysterical claims about ‘Tory cuts’. For the most part, these are uttered by the public sector’s vested interests.
The police are a classic example. The moans from chief constables and the Police Federation about ‘lack of resources’ have been deafening. Yet the Avon & Somerset Constabulary has enough money to appoint a new £25,500-a-year ‘Projects Officer’ in its ‘Organisational Development Team’, while the Thames Valley Police is seeking both a £38,562-a-year ‘Senior Learning and Development Delivery Manager’, and a £33,312-a-year ‘Leadership and Development Training Delivery Manager’.
The arrival of the elected Police Commissioners, on salaries of more than £90,000, much to the public’s indifference, has also led to a further bonanza for bureaucrats. The new Commissioner for Merseyside (the former Labour MP Jane Kennedy) has advertised for a ‘Chief Executive’ to run her office, on a salary of £70,000.
This army of public sector panjandrums is the real story of the public sector, not the chorus about ‘cuts’.
At every turn, Jobzilla seems to be as strong as ever, whether it be in the NHS — where Berkshire Healthcare Trust wants a £55,000-a-year ‘Head of Marketing and Communications’ — or in quangoland, where the Independent Police Complaints Commission is advertising for two £76,000-a-year Commissioners (one in Cardiff and the other in the North of England).
Given this never-ending public sector recruitment drive, it’s little wonder the Coalition is struggling to tackle the huge public deficit. If cuts are to be made anywhere, it seems obvious where the axe should fall: on Jobzilla’s neck.
4,000 foreign murderers and rapists Britain can’t throw out. . . and, yes, you can blame human rights again
Nearly 4,000 foreign murderers, rapists and other criminals are roaming the streets, free to commit new crimes. The Government wants to deport them but admits that many cannot be kicked out because of their human rights.
A Parliamentary answer reveals that 3,980 foreign criminals who should have been sent back to their country of origin are ‘living in the community’.
The figures do not even include the handful of terrorist suspects such as Abu Qatada whom the Government is seeking to extradite.
Officials say thousands use the Human Rights Act, which guarantees the ‘right to family life’, or fears about violence in the countries they left as a way of dodging deportation.
Around 800 of the foreign criminals have been at large in Britain for more than five years.
The revelations last night prompted calls for the Government to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights so that the foreign offenders can be sent home.
Ministers admitted last year that a string of murders and sex attacks have been committed by foreign nationals who should already have been kicked out. Foreign criminals on immigration bail have committed three murders, three kidnappings and 14 sexual offences, including rape. Official figures show that there have also been arrests in relation to 27 other ‘violent crimes’ and 64 thefts.
Home Office Minister Mark Harper used a Parliamentary written answer to release the most recent figures, recorded at the end of September. He said: ‘There are 3,980 foreign nationals in the UK subject to deportation action living in the community. We continue to pursue removal in all these cases.
‘The principal barriers to removal are non-compliance on the part of individuals which means we have insufficient evidence of nationality and identity to obtain a travel document, ongoing legal challenges and the situations in countries of return.’
Home Secretary Theresa May has issued new guidance to judges saying Section 8 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees the right to family life, should not override serious criminality in deportation cases.
But critics say that is not enough to solve the problem. Tory MP Priti Patel, who asked the Parliamentary question that led to the publication of the figures, called for the abolition of the Human Rights Act.
She said: ‘Lax immigration and border controls inherited from the previous Labour government have left this mess and the current Government must take all steps necessary, including abolishing the Human Rights Act, to get these people removed from Britain.
‘The public deserve to have a robust immigration system in place to keep them safe instead of laws and rules designed to help foreigners remain in Britain when they should have no right to be here.
‘Hard-pressed taxpayers will be disgusted to learn that they are footing the legal fees and living costs associated with this number of foreigners overstaying their welcome.’
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: ‘This is an extraordinary number. Offenders and their lawyers are clearly playing the legal system. ‘The case for pulling out of the 60-year-old ECHR gets stronger by the day. The Government is trying to give better guidance to the courts but that is most unlikely to have the necessary impact. ‘The only long-term solution is to pull out of the ECHR completely and write our own human rights law.’
David Cameron has set up a review into whether a British Bill of Rights could replace the Human Rights Act, but his Lib Dem partners will oppose any move to leave the ECHR.
Ministers say they are speeding up the deportation process.
The average number of days between a foreign national offender finishing his or her sentence and being removed has fallen from 131 days in 2008 to 74 in 2011.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We are absolutely determined that any foreign national who fails to abide by our laws should face the consequences and in 2011 we deported more than 4,600 foreign criminals.’
London archbishop who opposes same-sex marriage announces Catholic Church has scrapped gay-friendly Soho Masses
The Catholic Church has scrapped gay-friendly Masses in the central London church that has held them for the past six years, London’s archbishop announced yesterday.
Our Lady of the Assumption, an 18th-century church in Soho, the heart of London’s gay scene, has been hosting the twice-monthly masses with the support of the local Church hierarchy.
But Archbishop Vincent Nichols said in a statement that gay Catholics should attend mass in their local parishes rather going to separate services.
‘The mass is always to retain its essential character as the highest prayer of the whole Church,’ Nichols said, stressing there would still be pastoral care to help gay Catholics ‘take a full part in the life of the Church’.
The move has been blasted by Stonewall director of public affairs Ruth Hunt, who is Catholic. She told the BBC: ‘Given what’s happened over Christmas, where there were vitriolic and mean messages from pulpit about same-sex marriage, there has never been a more important time to provide a safe space for gay Catholics to pray.’
Archbishop Nichols has previously attacked the government’s gay marriage Bill, labelling it ‘undemocratic’ and a ‘shambles’.
The Vatican teaches that gay sex is sinful but homosexuals deserve respect.
The decision on the ‘Soho Masses’ came after sharp criticism of same-sex marriage by Pope Benedict and bishops in Britain and France, where the governments plan to legalise gay nuptials.
Nichols has spoken out in recent weeks against same-sex marriage but Church officials and a spokesman for the Soho gay congregation said the decision to stop the Soho Masses was not explicitly linked to that debate. ‘We don’t see any direct cause and effect,’ said Joe Stanley, chairman of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council.
London’s approved gay-friendly masses were launched in early 2007 while the Vatican’s top doctrinal official was Cardinal William Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco, a city with a large gay community and several gay-friendly churches.
Nichols reaffirmed his support for them last February. Since then, Levada was replaced by Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, who German Catholic media have said wanted to clarify the apparent contradiction between them and Church teaching on homosexuality.
The Our Lady of the Assumption church will now become a parish for disaffected Anglicans who became Catholics in protest against moves in their churches towards allowing female and gay bishops.
Conservative Catholics in Britain have long complained to the Vatican about the Soho Masses, saying they flouted Church teaching on homosexuality, and small groups sometimes protested outside the church during the services.
The archbishop’s office declined to comment on his statement or any discussions with the Vatican.
Governing body of British soccer to tackle racism by giving ‘cultural lessons’ to dumb, un-PC foreign players
Try to get your head around this: the FA has announced that it plans to fight racism in British football by re-educating the game’s foreign players and inculcating them with “British cultural values”. Yes, that’s right – the FA’s big idea for tackling prejudice in footie is to declare war on the allegedly prejudicial mindsets of those bloody foreigners coming over here and ruining our national sport with their un-PC, racially tinged outlooks.
I’ll say it one more time to ensure that everyone is as struck dumb by this daft idea as I was: the FA believes that racism in British football is in part a spin-off of the backward attitudes of footballers from other, non-British races – which of course is itself a borderline racist belief. My head hurts.
Clearly the FA’s irony checker was on holiday when it was drawing up its 93-point document, English Football’s Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan. The document contains various proposals for tackling the alleged scourge of racism in football, including having a mandatory anti-racism clause in all players’ contracts and introducing fixed-term bans for players found guilty of using racist language.
But the proposal to introduce “cultural lessons” for foreign-born players is the most startling of all. According to the BBC, the aim of these lessons is to “induct” foreign players, who obviously come from less enlightened, less racially aware countries than our own, into a “British cultural environment” of fair play and tolerance.
In essence, then, the FA’s contribution to anti-racism in football is to further fuel the prejudicial belief that foreigners are uncouth, uneducated, intolerant. This is one of those moments when one feels tempted to reach for that hackneyed tabloid phrase, “You couldn’t make it up”.
British boy engulfed in race storm for blacking up his face to look like his favourite soccer player
Must not look black — again!
A ten-year-old Leeds United fan has become embroiled in an online race row after he blacked up to pose with his hero El Hadji Diouf.
The child posted a series of pictures on his Twitter account provoking a backlash from users who said he was racist.
But the primary school child said he did not realise it would be offensive and did it as a tribute to his footballing hero.
The boy’s father was forced to take to his son’s Twitter account to defend him from accusations of racism.
‘He asked to dress up as Diouf so we let him for a bit of fun. We completely underestimated the response it would get. Hes only 10 and likes the banter so lay off please thanks for positive comments’.
The fan met his favourite player outside Elland Road ahead of his team’s home game against Bolton Wanderers on New Year’s Day.
He said Diouf and other Leeds players found the ‘costume’ – a blacked up face and head, Leeds kit and white mohican – funny.