Socialist compassion at work: £3,000 so a man can walk again? “Too Dear!” says government hospital. Just hobble around for the rest of your life!
A horror car crash victim who has undergone 22 operations has been told he can’t have the final procedure to help him walk again.
Duncan Buckley, 35, was given just a five per cent chance of survival after the car he was driving was involved in a head-on crash with a van.
The crash – in 2010 – resulted in him suffering a fractured skull, broken collarbone, hairline spinal fracture, nerve damage, elbow damage, three broken ribs, collapsed lungs, bruised heart, lacerated liver and spleen, smashed left knee, two fractured femurs and a broken ankle.
He was put into an induced coma for six weeks and when he came round all he could move was his eyes and tongue.
Mr Buckley is now on his way to recovery but needs one final operation to cure a problem with his left leg – which he has been denied due to an NHS postcode lottery,
His left leg is one and 3/4 inches shorter than the right – and he needs an ISKD nail to lengthen it. The nail costs £3,000 – but would enable him to walk unaided for the first time since the crash.
But South Staffordshire PTC has refused to carry out the procedure saying it is not ‘exceptional’.
Mr Buckley said: ‘It’s really frustrating, I was hoping the operation would shut the door on this nightmare. I want to get my life back.
‘Because one leg is shorter than the other as a result of my injuries I can’t balance at the moment. I have to walk with sticks.
‘In future it could lead to hip problems and back problems. I was told because of where I live, it’s not on the list of procedures that they do. It’s a post code lottery.’
He added: ‘I can’t work at the moment but I want to get back to my job as a web tutor.
‘I have been through every emotion possible. I’ve suffered from depression and it’s been a complete rollercoaster. I’m disappointed with the hospital’s decision.’
After the accident near Shifnal, Shropshire, Duncan was cut out of his car and airlifted to hospital – where doctors fought for hours to save him. Mr Buckley said: ‘It was touch and go for a while. Doctors weren’t hopeful that I would live.
‘When I came out of the coma, I was in hospital solid for 12 months. It was terrible and very stressful. I had lots of muscle waste and I went from 14 stone to just seven stone.
‘My knee had to be rebuilt and I’ve still got metal screws in my elbow and ankle.’
His wife, Lisa-Marie, 42, said: ‘We can’t complete this journey until he’s had this operation. To stop now is cruel. We were in tears when we found out.’
Tamsin Carr, spokesman for the Staffordshire Cluster of PCTs said: ‘The treatment is not routinely commissioned for patients in South Staffordshire. We believe there is an alternative treatment available but that would have to be confirmed by the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.’
Hospitals in new cancer drugs postcode lottery amid fears some doctors prefer to stick with tried and trusted treatments
Hospitals are denying patients the latest cancer drugs, a report reveals today. Many are refusing to give patients life-extending new treatments approved by NHS rationing body NICE.
Research has uncovered a 40-fold variation between hospitals offering the highest numbers of drugs and those providing the least.
Charities warn that patients are at the mercy of an ‘unjustifiable postcode lottery’, with their chance dependent on where they live.
There is also concern that hospitals are deliberately holding back highly effective treatments because they are more expensive than ones they already use.
Research by the Rarer Cancers Foundation analysed NHS figures showing how often hospitals were prescribing new cancer drugs approved by NICE.
The charity looked at 25 treatments recommended by the watchdog within the last ten years to treat cancers including breast, bowel, stomach, pancreatic, prostate, kidney and leukaemia.
Some of these drugs have been shown to boost survival rates by as much a quarter while others can extend the lives of terminal patients by a year.
Each trust was given a score, depending on how many different types of new drugs were handed out last year, taking into account the number of patients.
Startling variations between nearby hospitals were revealed by the study.
North Middlesex University Hospital Trust offers five times as many cancer drugs as Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust even though they are just seven miles apart.
One treatment routinely used at North Middlesex but not by Barnet and Chase Farm is Cetuximab for bowel cancer.
It was approved by NICE in 2008 and has been shown to increase survival chances by 23 per cent.
Andrew Wilson, chief executive of the Rarer Cancers Foundation, said: ‘For the first time these figures expose the highest and lowest users of cancer drugs.
‘Patients have a right to know. Some variation may be explained on clinical grounds, but others could reveal an unjustifiable postcode lottery. ‘The NHS owes it to patients to investigate these variations and account for why they occur.’
Among the drugs not being used by some hospitals is Paclitaxel, for ovarian cancer. Trials have shown it can extend the lives of terminal patients by a year.
Laura Thomas, policy manager of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘It is alarming that there is such a wide variation in cancer drugs prescribed between hospitals in England.
‘This is especially concerning for patients with rarer cancers who, for far too long, have lost out on receiving life-saving medicines and treatments they need on the NHS.
‘Every patient deserves equal access to drugs and treatments that their doctors believe are right for them. The current variation in distribution needs to change.’
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘Patients have a right to medicines and treatments that have been approved by NICE and are clinically right for them, and it is totally wrong if this is not happening.
‘We are determined to drive out unjustified variation. That’s why we’ve asked the NHS to publish what approved drugs and treatments they provide.
‘But it must be remembered that every hospital serves a different population with different needs and will have different specialisations.’
Third of British graduate jobs are left vacant because students are not learning the right workplace skills
Nearly one in three leading employers are forced to leave graduate jobs open because they are unable to find suitable candidates to fill them, a report found today.
They are being left with vacant posts despite the recession because of a shortage of applicants with the right workplace skills and degree disciplines.
Bosses also complain that choosy graduates are sitting on job offers while waiting for a better opportunity to arise and then leaving their other choices in the lurch.
The report, from the Association of Graduate Recruiters, also found that employers are increasingly targeting recruitment at school-leavers – partly due to the increase in tuition fees.
Some are even cutting back on graduate recruitment in favour of hiring school-leavers, amid fears that talented youngsters will be put off higher education by rising costs, although the majority are maintaining graduate numbers.
One employer said: ‘The shift in political landscape is going to cause a lot of individuals to decide not to go to university and will impact where the talent goes in the marketplace. Most big employers are waking up to this and have developed their own apprenticeship programmes.’
Even though the number of graduates being turned out by universities is currently continuing to rise, nearly a third of 197 employers surveyed – 30.7 per cent – reported missing recruitment targets last year.
The key reason for shortfalls – up to a quarter of graduate posts – was a tendency for candidates to apply to a large number of employers and hang on for the best offers.
One employer said: ‘In previous years, they would be open and honest about where they were applying but now they wait for other offers before making a decision.’
Other leading reasons were ‘not enough applicants with the right skills’ and a ‘shortage of applicants in specific geographical areas’.
In some cases, candidates had poor perceptions of the industry sector.
Overall, the survey found the number of vacancies offered dropped eight per cent last year amid employer uncertainty over the financial climate. However it is expected to bounce back this year, rising nine per cent.
Meanwhile, graduate starting salaries are expected to rise to £26,500.
Graduates joining the public sector – organisations such as the civil service, Teach First, police forces, local government and the prison service – are set to enjoy the highest rise of any industry group, at 7.5 per cent, despite the Government’s austerity drive.
However, average starting salaries were second from bottom last year, at £23,250.
Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, said: ‘The results indicate a renewed level of optimism among organisations for the year ahead.
‘With the graduate job market inextricably linked to business confidence, it is reassuring to see that employers are committed to investing in graduate talent despite the backdrop of continuing global economic uncertainty.’
Antidepressants prescribed ‘too easily’ says GP
Denying truly depressed patients medication would be very risky. Death (suicide) could readily ensue.
I agree however that improvements in taxononmy are needed. To be a bit radical, not all suicidal ideation should be classed as depression. So called “anxious” depression should be regarded at least initially as an anxiety state only and NOT treated with depression drugs. It should be treated with anxiolytics. Getting the two mixed up could worsen the problem and such confusion may explain the “paradoxical” results anti-depressants sometime produce. Wrong taxonomy could kill
Doctors are prescribing antidepressants “too easily” according to a GP who says the current medical definition of depression is “too loose and is causing widespread medicalisation”.
Dr Des Spence, who practises in Glasgow, said a recent review of studies “suggests that only one in seven people actually benefits” from antidepressants.
“Millions of people are enduring at least six months of ineffective treatment” with the drugs, he argued in an opinion piece published in the online edition of the British Medical Journal.
He said the updated version of a widely used psychiatrists’ handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, “suggests defining two weeks of low mood as ‘clinical depression’, irrespective of circumstance”.
He continued: “It even proposes that being low two weeks after bereavement should be considered depression.”
He claimed that 75 per cent of those who wrote such definitions had “links to drug companies” and argued: “Mental illness is the drug industry’s golden goose: incurable, common, long term, and involving multiple medications.”
But Ian Reid, professor of psychiatry at Aberdeen University, defended antidepressant use in a response on bmj.com.
He said studies claiming to show that antidepressants were no better than sugar pills for mild and moderate depression were riddled with “methodological flaws and selective reporting” of data.
He wrote: “Antidepressants are but one element available in the treatment of depression, not a panacea.
“Like ‘talking treatments’ (with which antidepressants are entirely compatible), they can have harmful side effects, and they certainly don’t help everyone with the disorder. But they are not overprescribed.
“Careless reportage has demonised them in the public eye, adding to the stigmatisation of mental illness, and erecting unnecessary barriers to effective care.”
Homeopathy is ‘rubbish’ and shouldn’t be available on the NHS, says Britain’s top doctor
This needs to be said more often
Homeopathy was condemned as ‘rubbish’ by Britain’s chief medical officer yesterday, who admitted she is ‘perpetually surprised’ it is available on the NHS.
Professor Dame Sally Davies also described homeopaths as ‘peddlers’ and spoke of her concern that they can prescribe pills and potions to treat malaria and other illnesses.
Giving evidence to an influential committee of MPs, Dame Sally said that homeopathy doesn’t work past the placebo effect. In other words, any benefits patients perceive are simply caused by them receiving attention and simply expecting to feel better.
Her outspoken views are in conflict with the policy of the Health Service, which spends around £4million a year on funding homeopathic hospitals and on prescriptions and referrals.
Homeopathy, which has the backing of Prince Charles, claims to prevent and treat diseases using diluted forms of plants, herbs and minerals.
It is based on the principle that an illness can be treated by substances that produce similar symptoms. For example, it is claimed onions, which make eyes itchy and tearful, can be used to relieve the symptoms of hay fever.
Other treatments include anti-malaria tablets made from African swamp water, rotting plants and mosquito eggs and larvae. But scientists argue the ‘cures’ are so diluted they are unlikely to contain any of the original substance.
Asked about her views on homeopathy by the Commons science and technology committee, Dame Sally – a consultant haematologist, or specialist in blood diseases, at the Central Middlesex Hospital from 1985 until 2011 – said: ‘I’m very concerned when homeopathic practitioners try to peddle this way of life to prevent malaria or other infectious diseases.’
The exact amount of NHS spending on the discipline is unclear but various homeopathic associations say it is as high as £4million a year.
The Department of Health said it is up to local NHS organisations to decide whether to fund it.
Top British doctor disses global warming
A dire warning of the coming dangers of a world without functioning antibiotics has been levelled by professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer of England.
Routine operations may in the near future become life-threatening ordeals without the protection of antibiotics to ward off increasingly powerful hospital borne bacteria, Davies told a committee of British MPs.
“It is clear that we might not ever see global warming,” she said. “The apocalyptic scenario is that when I need a new hip in 20 years I’ll die from a routine infection because we’ve run out of antibiotics.”
The last oral antibiotic used to treat gonorrhea failed to cure the infection in about 7% of tested cases in a study in Toronto, a figure the authors of the work called “relatively high.”
The report, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is believed to be the first from North America of treatment failure with the antibiotic, cefixime. And it is the latest reminder that in the battle with this sexually transmitted infection, the bug is winning — and fast.
It raises concerns that convenient approaches for treating gonorrhea may soon be out of reach — a development that could lead to fewer people undergoing successful treatment for the infection.
Some strains of bacteria, notably MRSA, are becoming feared in hospital wards around the world, and there are also reports of antibiotic resistance in strains of E. coli and tuberculosis.
Painting a future where normally treatable illnesses can once again kill without resistance, Davies pointed out that gonorrhoea, for instance, is no longer treatable except with one antibiotic that has dwindling effectiveness.
Migrants with no job or money are being allowed to settle in Britain because of failure of background checks
Immigrants are being granted permission to settle in Britain despite having ‘zero income and no employment’, a government inspector warned last night.
The failure to carry out full background checks on the migrants undermines a key Home Office policy that applicants should be able to support themselves and their families without relying on the State.
Foreign nationals who want to remain in the UK permanently are supposed to undergo strict checks by officials into their financial background.
As a minimum, they require enough money to pay for housing, plus a disposable income of more than £100 a week.
But the chief inspector of immigration, John Vine, found potentially tens of thousands were having their applications rubber-stamped without either a face-to-face interview or HMRC investigation.
An estimated one million migrants apply for permission to stay in the UK each year.
But, incredibly, HMRC is willing to do only 3,000 checks a year for the UK Border Agency – just 250 every month. Such checks would establish if a migrant who claimed to be able to support themselves was telling the truth about their income or even having a job.
As a result of the HMRC policy, officials are letting migrants stay without having had access to wages slips, P60 forms and other crucial data.
Mr Vine, who carried out spot checks on a small sample of cases, said officials had granted permission to settle here despite the applicant having ‘zero income and no employment’.
He said the number of HMRC checks was ‘insufficient’ and must be urgently increased.
Of 49 cases he looked at where migrants were asking to stay on the grounds of marriage, not a single person was interviewed. This is despite huge concern over sham marriages.
In other cases, the application was decided while the husband or wife was still overseas. Mr Vine said in one in every ten of such cases the decision reached by immigration officials was ‘unreasonable’, mainly due to insufficient evidence the migrant could afford to support themselves.
The inspector raised his concerns in a report which focused on how UKBA handles cases involving marriage and civil partnerships.
In it, he also said there are currently more than 16,000 migrants waiting to hear from border officials whether they can stay in Britain in yet another ‘unacceptable’ UKBA backlog.
Some 14,000 applicants, growing at a rate of 700 a month, have already been refused the right to stay but are pleading with officials to reconsider.
An additional 2,100 cases – shipped in a box from a UKBA office in Croydon to Sheffield – are still waiting for an initial decision, some dating back a decade. Mr Vine said: ‘This is completely unacceptable and I expect the Agency to deal with both types of case as a matter of urgency.
‘Delays also mean enforcement action is likely to be more difficult in the event the case is ultimately refused. This is because the individual will have been in the UK for a number of years and may have developed a family or private life.’
He also said the percentage of successful appeals in marriage cases was too high, at 53 per cent from April 2011 to February last year. Sir Andrew Green, of Migration Watch, said: ‘This is yet further evidence of the chaos in the immigration system.’
UKBA said last night: ‘We are working with HMRC to increase the number of searches we can do against their systems. Since this report we have brought in strict new rules on proving income levels to make sure that those bringing in family members are able to support them.’
A wedding ring still matters in Britain
With it, a man can be ripped off. Without it, a woman can be ripped off. If British divorce laws had not been so punitive towards men, the couple below might have married and the woman would have got something out of it. As it is, an Englishman who marries is a supreme optimist
A woman who lost her home and business when she split from her partner of more than three decades is a victim of sexist property laws, a top judge said yesterday.
Pamela Curran, 55, had worked with Brian Collins, 52, at his kennels and cattery.
But after their relationship ended in 2010, a county court judge ruled that she had no right to a share in the business, or the home where they had lived together.
Pamela Curran, 55, was left penniless when her 30 year relationship with Brian Collins, 52, ended but has been given the right to appeal a ruling that said she had no right to share the business or the home where they lived
Miss Curran was left penniless, with her belongings placed in storage while she stayed with any friends who could take her in.
But she is now able to appeal the ruling after judge Lord Justice Toulson said she is a victim of unfair and old-fashioned property laws that are biased against women of her age and position.
‘Sadly, the appellant found herself in the classic position of a woman jilted in her early fifties, having very much made her life with the respondent for over 30 years. The law of property can be harsh on people, usually women, in that situation,’ he said.
‘Bluntly, the law remains unfair to people in the appellant’s position, but the judge was constrained to apply the law as it is.’ The Court of Appeal heard that the couple began their relationship as teenagers in the Seventies, and remained ‘an item’ until their split three years ago.
They lived and worked together at Haven Boarding Kennels and Cattery near Ashford, Kent, which was bought in Mr Collins’s name in 2007.
Miss Curran said she had ‘trusted’ in her partner that, if they ever split up, she would be given a ‘fair share’ of the property and business, bought for a total of £750,000. However, when the case reached the Central London County Court last May, Judge Hazel Marshall concluded that the couple had not established a business partnership.
Miss Curran told Lord Justice Toulson yesterday that she had put a lot of hard work into making the business successful, but was left with nothing to show for it.
‘Sadly, the appellant found herself in the classic position of a woman jilted in her early 50s, having very much made her life with the respondent for over 30 years.The law of property can be harsh on people, usually women, in that situation. Bluntly, the law remains unfair to people in the appellant’s position, but the judge was constrained to apply the law as it is’
He added that, given Judge Marshall said she believed Miss Curran was essentially a truthful witness – and that Mr Collins himself had at times suggested to third parties that the business had truly been a partnership – Miss Curran should have permission to bring a full appeal against the initial decision.
Mr Collins was neither present, nor represented at the hearing.
A report published by the Law Commission in 2007 had recommended that property laws be reformed as they were unfair to those in Miss Curran’s position.
The body wanted to give those in cohabiting relationships the same rights as married couples in order to ‘reflect the growing prevalence and public acceptance of cohabitation’.
However, the Government announced in 2011 that it had no plans to change the law.
We’ll take adoption away from councils: Minister warns town halls that bar would-be parents
Power-mad British social workers finally being confronted
Councils which turn away would-be adoptive parents for spurious reasons face being stripped of their right to run the service, ministers will warn today.
New powers will allow the Government to crack down on authorities which fail to play their part in tackling a ‘chronic’ national shortage of prospective adopters and a backlog of 4,600 children waiting to be adopted.
Ministers are concerned that would-be parents are coming forward to adopt only to be told ‘they are not wanted’, in some cases purely for geographical reasons.
Some parents are turned away because the council they approached has no need of more adopters – even though shortages nationally are acute. Reasons given to parents include ‘we are not recruiting within our own city council’ and ‘we were out of their area’.
Others fail because of arbitrary barriers, such as being overweight or too old.
Recent reports revealed how couples who hope to adopt are being told that one of them must give up their job.
Children’s Minister Edward Timpson will today outline plans to create new powers for ministers to intervene in councils which fail to recruit more adoptive parents and consider the needs of children nationally.
They could be stripped of their role recruiting and assessing potential parents and instead required to deal with voluntary agencies to find them.
Mr Timpson said: ‘There are over 4,000 children waiting to be adopted nationally but year-on-year local authorities are not recruiting enough people to give them stable and loving homes. We cannot stand by while children’s futures hang in the balance.’
He said local authorities ‘must now demonstrate that they are up to the challenge or we won’t hesitate to intervene’.
Recent figures from Ofsted reveal how only one in eight of the couples and individuals who try to adopt children are approved by social workers, meaning that more than 22,000 would-be adopters vanish each year.
Ministers have promised to sweep away barriers to adoptive parents over recent months, including race bars which have seen white parents routinely rejected as adopters of black or Asian children.
The barriers to adoption have helped push down the number of children who find new families from 20,000 a year in the 1970s to few more than 3,000 now.
In further measures being announced today, £150million will be restored to local authorities from cuts elsewhere to spend on adoption reforms.
Referring to the plan for voluntary agencies to become involved, David Simmonds of the Local Government Association said: ‘Removing councils from the process of recruiting and screening potential adopters could adversely impact on the very children and potential adoptive parents the Government is trying to protect and should only be considered as a very last resort.’
British oldsters’ social fundraiser for elderly care home cancelled after council tells them to pay £100 for BOUNCERS
A group of pensioners have been banned from holding a singalong concert at their local community centre – unless they hire security.
The event was organised by 78-year-old Alma Morris to raise funds to help save the threatened venue. She wanted a bar so some of the 100-plus elderly guests could enjoy a sherry but was told by council officials that, if alcohol was involved, she would need two bouncers.
The former caretaker, from Sandyford, Staffordshire, said: ‘I don’t know what they think might happen in a room full of pensioners – it’s ludicrous. ‘We just wanted to put on a nice night of singing.
‘Some people like to have a drink at these things but there is certainly not going to be any binge-drinking going on.’
The decision has angered residents because Stoke-on-Trent Council has pledged to support them in their attempts to take over local community halls.
Mrs Morris said booking Goldenhill Community Hall would cost £120 before paying an extra £100 for security – eating straight into any potential profit.
Eric Jankowski, 82, said: ‘It’s not about ticking boxes but making a sensible decision. A load of OAPs in their 70s and 80s are hardly likely to go wild are they? We just want to have fun like everyone else.
‘Now it seems that some jobsworths are, as usual, spoiling the party. It’s such a shame that people don’t seem to have any common sense anymore.
Denise Harding, 72, said: ‘They don’t have doormen or bouncers on the door at my local pub when my son takes me on Thursday afternoons and they have a bar there. ‘Why does the community centre need one? It doesn’t make any sense to me.’
Tom Simpson, 55, who is secretary of Sandyford and Goldenhill Residents’ Association, said: ‘If they were organising drunken booze-ups then I could understand but not with fund-raising events like this one.
‘I think the council needs to consider every event on merit and it is hard to fathom why they have to pay extra for security.
‘The bar staff are already city council employees. I’m sure if there was a problem they would be capable of calling the police. We have never had anything like that happen before.’
Peter Price, the council’s resident director of services, said that he and Councillor Ruth Rosenau would make a final decision on the security guards after looking over the profit and loss margin in the coming months and a council spokesman confirmed it was investigating the matter.
British city attacks the messenger
There can’t be many drivers who haven’t become exasperated at the proliferation of potholes on our roads. And now one has come up with an eye-catching way of highlighting the problem.
But the mystery motorist, who has painted the words ‘fix me’ next to a number of the craters in Swanage, Dorset, could face prosecution if caught.
Martin Hill, maintenance manager for highways at Dorset County Council, said: ‘We have found several potholes marked in this way. It is illegal and anyone caught doing it could be prosecuted.
‘We haven’t received any enquiries about these potholes and our local inspection team had already identified them before the markings were made.
‘They have been added to the work schedule for the next week. It’s important to note the roads in Swanage are in no worse state than the rest of the country.’