Billions in extra cash fail to stop rot in NHS
But I’ll bet that they spend more on bureaucrats than anyone else
Britain is failing to keep pace with improvements in public health in other Western countries despite NHS spending tripling over the past 20 years.
Premature death rates from a series of conditions, including heart disease and breast cancer, are significantly higher in this country than in similarly developed nations such as France, Italy and Spain, researchers said in a report on Monday.
Although public health has generally improved, other countries have made greater progress, leaving Britain “persistently and significantly” lagging behind the EU and other global powers.
Life expectancy increased by 4.2 years to 79.9 between 1990 and 2010, but the UK still dropped from 12th to 14th on a list of 19 Western nations.
Authors of the report say it should serve as a “wake-up call” to the NHS to improve public health by tackling problems such as obesity and smoking, and to diagnose and treat conditions at an earlier stage.
Figures from the House of Commons library show that NHS spending has risen from £46 billion in 1990 to £122 billion this year, based on 2011 prices.
The report, published today in The Lancet, shows that smoking is Britain’s highest cause of diseases that lead to premature death. High blood pressure is second, but treatment has barely improved in 20 years, with the condition still only being controlled in a third of patients.
Prof John Newton, the co-author of the study from Public Health England, a new Department of Health body that will take over the role of the Health Protection Agency next month, said: “In the health service there is so much for them to do in treating people they just have not felt they have the resources or time to take on prevention as well.”
He added that the finding on high blood pressure was “extraordinary”. He said: “A lot of countries are struggling with this but we have a system of national coverage and primary care so if we can’t get this right it is a sad state of affairs.”
The report used data from the Global Burden of Disease Study of 2010 to compare ill-health and death in Britain against 14 other EU nations as well as the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway.
It found that factors such as obesity, alcohol, a lack of exercise and bad diet were still among the leading causes of illness in Britain despite millions being spent on public health campaigns.
There were improvements in premature deaths of men aged over 55 in relation to other countries, but there has been almost no progress among men and women aged 20-54. “Concerted action is urgently needed,” the report says.
For heart disease, which ranks in the report as the leading cause of premature death, Britain ranked 14th, for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease it came 17th, and for breast cancer and lower respiratory infections it was 18th.
Some causes of death have increased significantly over the past two decades, including cirrhosis of the liver, drug-related disorders and Alzheimer’s disease, which has risen from the 24th highest cause of premature death to eighth.
Prof Kevin Fenton, another co-author, said prevention and early treatment could lower the burden of poor health on society. “This report is both a wake-up call and an opportunity for the UK,” he said.
“To improve public health we need to redress a historic imbalance by focusing more on primary prevention and the promotion of well-being. The reality is nearly all of these conditions are either preventable or amenable to early intervention.”
Prof Newton said there had been some “excellent work” in the UK, but said it had suffered from “piecemeal initiatives”.
Britain compared favourably with other countries in premature deaths from diabetes, road injuries, liver cancer and chronic kidney disease.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, will today say that 30,000 people a year die too early because of the “shocking underperformance” of the NHS, which remains a “poor relative” of its European counterparts. These lives could be saved if the NHS focuses on the five biggest killers — heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory and liver disease — and improves detection and treatment, he will tell the Commons.
Cameron puts blame for NHS scandals on Labour: PM says party should take responsibility for ‘target-led agenda’
David Cameron yesterday shifted the blame for the Mid Staffordshire scandal on to Labour as he faced down yet more clamour for the NHS chief to resign.
In a marked change of tone, he told the House of Commons all those involved in the culture of top-down targets had to consider their position.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt went even further, accusing former ministers of a ‘deafening silence’ about the ‘catastrophic mistakes’ they had made.
He said Labour ‘will be held accountable for what happened’ – specifically for ignoring patient care in a drive to slash waiting times, rank hospitals’ performance and shake up regulation.
Last month’s Francis Report into the Mid Staffordshire scandal did not blame individual ministers and Mr Cameron insisted there should be no hunt for scapegoats.
The Prime Minister has also steadfastly backed the embattled NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson who has ignored calls from MPs, medical professionals and patients to stand down.
But yesterday Mr Cameron changed his tune at Prime Minister’s Questions when Labour MP Graham Stringer asked why he did not sack Sir David over the needless deaths of up to 1,200 patients at the trust.
Mr Cameron said Sir David, who previously ran the regional health authority overseeing Mid Staffordshire, had ‘very frankly and candidly apologised’ for mistakes made, suggesting Labour had not.
He said: ‘Everyone has to think of their responsibilities with regard to the dreadful events that happened at the Staffordshire hospital, including the fact that part of the problem was people following a very top-down, target-led agenda which led to patient care being put on the back burner.
‘David Nicholson has made his apology and wants to get on with his job of running an excellent National Health Service, and other people, frankly, should be thinking of their positions too.’
A Labour source attacked his comments, saying: ‘This seems a pretty shabby and cheap attempt to politicise the Francis Report. It made clear that no ministers were to blame. It is not the right thing to try to politicise what was a human tragedy.’
But pressure is piling on ministers over their protection of Sir David. Last night at a meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, dozens called for his resignation.
Sir David caused fury on Tuesday by pleading ignorance to damning evidence that patients were failed on his watch.
He told MPs he had ‘no idea’ about the appalling failures of care, ‘no access’ to mortality rates which were published in national newspapers, and no sanction over gagging agreements signed off by the Department of Health.
Sir David admitted Labour’s re-organisation of the NHS was confusing, but pinned no blame on ministers. In return, four former Labour Health Secretaries rallied to his defence.
Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham, who was Health Secretary until 2010, has admitted the target culture went too far, but has not taken any responsibility for the scandal.
Nor has Alan Johnson, who was in office when three reports were commissioned – but not published – into the state of the NHS in 2007, revealing a relentless focus on targets rather than patients.
Last night Mr Hunt wrote on the website ConservativeHome that ‘warnings were suppressed’ by Labour that their ‘command and control structure’ for the NHS was not working.
He said they had to take the blame for ‘catastrophic policy mistakes… all of which are having a direct target on the lack of compassionate care in parts of the NHS today’.
Mr Hunt added: ‘Labour can and will be held accountable for what happened at Mid Staffs.
‘Unless we hear a proper account from Labour, the public will reasonably conclude that similar events could easily happen again if Labour regained power – because the party that used to claim the NHS was safe in its hands is proving by its silence the exact opposite.’
Oldster placed on Liverpool Care Pathway WITHOUT family’s permission dies after spending eight days without food or water
A grieving daughter has lodged a complaint against a hospital which left her father to die on a ‘barbaric’ end of life pathway for eight days without her permission.
Susan Phillips said her 69-year-old father Robert Goold was left to slowly deteriorate for more than a week on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway.
The pensioner, who had dementia, got weaker and weaker as doctors took food, water and oxygen away from him but survived longer than they expected.
Mrs Phillips claims that after six days on the pathway a nurse at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, even offered to reverse the programme but it was too late.
Mr Goold died the following day at 5.40am, on February 25, without being able to say goodbye to his wife of 51 years because she was too traumatised.
Mrs Phillips, 50, claims doctors and nurses could not explain to her why her father had been put on the LCP because nothing had been recorded in his notes.
Addenbrooke’s said they will investigate the family’s claims after an inquest has been held.
Devastated Mrs Phillips, who is a nurse, said: ‘My dad was so stressed that we were led to believe death was imminent and so we just tried to calm him down.
‘You wouldn’t treat a dog the way my poor dad was treated. We are all devastated, the best interests of the patient was not starving him to death. ‘My mum didn’t even get to say good, bye to her husband of 51 years because she was too traumatised.’
Mr Goold, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, was taken in to Lister Hospital in Stevenage after a fell and was left with a fractured neck, back, skull and cheekbone.
The pensioner then suffered a bleed on the brain and was transferred to the neurosciences critical care unit Addenbrooke’s Hospital on February 4. He was in Addenbrooke’s for two weeks before he was put on the LCP on February 17.
His family were told his prognosis was not good and medics wanted to remove his ventilator to see how he responded.
Mrs Phillips said the family believed removing his ventilation would give her father the ‘best chance” of survival. But a day later she went to the hospital to find her father flailing about trying to breathe with ‘sheer terror in his eyes’ and then discovered he had been placed on LCP.
Addenbrooke’s Chief Executive Keith McNeil said: ‘In this case the fact that an issue has been raised will trigger for us a review of the care a patient has had and we will go through each of the issues that have been raised by the family.
‘We will see whether in fact appropriate decisions were made, we will also look at whether the communication of the care to the family was appropriate.’
Bananas?! Mother claims fruit has cured her crippling migraines after 20 years
There are various dietary manipulations that help some people with migraines but I doubt that many will share the solution below
A mother-of-two who has been plagued by migraines for almost 20 years says she has been cured after snacking on bananas.
Lisa Poyner, 38, used to suffer episodes that left her bed ridden for days at a time, and tried out dozens of medications to try and relieve her condition.
But she realised she could head off attacks if she snacked on the fruit as soon as she felt the symptoms coming on.
Mrs Poyner said: ‘I had been prescribed all kinds of medication before, but nothing ever worked as well as just making sure I eat every couple of hours.
‘Bananas are handy as they’re healthy, and good sustenance, so if I feel an attack about to strike, I just grab one straight away. ‘I don’t even really like bananas very much.’
The supermarket worker from Worthing, West Sussex, now has ‘banana breaks’ to help her cope. ‘I get my banana breaks every couple of hours, and all my colleagues are really understanding,’ she said.
‘I know that if I feel a migraine coming on, or start to feel a bit spaced out, I can just stop and grab something to eat.’
She said it’s important that she tackles a migraine before it becomes full-blown. ‘If I suffer a full-on attack it leaves me completely immobile. I can lose my vision and my arms and legs go numb.
‘I had been prescribed all kinds of medication before, but nothing ever worked as well as just making sure I eat every couple of hours.
Lisa began to suffer with severe headaches while in her teenage years – but when she gave birth to her sons, Isaac, and Austin, in her late 20s, they got much worse.
Mrs Poyner said: ‘My vision blurs, or disappears completely, and I get a tingling sensation in my arms or legs.
‘My head feels as though it will burst open – as though it’s about to explode. At my worst, I was getting them two or three times a week.
‘So many people don’t understand how bad they are. People say to me , “Oh, I get terrible headaches too” – but this is not just a headache.
‘I’ve been back and forth to the doctors for more than 20 years, trying to find what triggers them.’
Then the mother-of-two realised they usually came on when she was hungry. Eating carbohydrates, such as a banana, helped to stave off symptoms by keeping blood sugar levels even.
‘I was terrified of suffering a migraine when I was alone with my children, especially when they were young, so I made sure I always had something substantial to eat.
‘When my children were young I could never imagine going back to work, as I needed a job where I can eat whenever I need to.
‘I’ve been working on a supermarket checkout for the last six months, and my employers are brilliant.
‘It might seem a bit weird to carry bananas round with me, but it’s helped me to live as close to a normal life as possible.’
The green energy mirage will cost the earth
Britain is committed to unsustainable carbon targets only because our politicians duped us
In 1988, the year global warming made its entrance into politics, Margaret Thatcher declared that mankind had unwittingly been carrying out a massive experiment with the planet, in which the burning of fossil fuels would produce greenhouse gases, leading to higher global temperatures. The results of this experiment remain an open question. As Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, acknowledged last month, there has been a 17-year pause in the rise of average global temperatures.
Of more immediate consequence to British families is that the UK has embarked on perhaps the most aggressive political experiment attempted in peacetime – gradually outlawing the use of fossil fuels, which we have relied on since the Industrial Revolution, as our principal source of energy. The results are already evident. Two weeks ago, Alistair Buchanan, chief executive of Ofgem, warned of rising energy bills, and questioned whether Britain would be able to keep the lights on. When there is a glut of natural gas in the US and coal prices are plunging in Europe, this country faces a green energy crunch as it attempts to decarbonise its economy.
Environmentalism has taken the Marxist concept of the alienation of the working class and applied it to the rich man’s alienation from nature. “By losing sight of our relationship with Nature… ,” the Prince of Wales wrote in 2009, “we have engendered a profoundly dangerous alienation.” In one respect, environmentalism is even more radical than Marxism. Whereas Marxism aimed to change the relations of the working class to the means of production, environmentalism is about changing the means of production themselves. Ironically, Marxism was a flop in the West, whereas environmentalism has triumphed.
One reason Britain has gone so far down the green path is that politicians have not been honest about its economic implications. During the passage of the Climate Change Act in 2008, which commits Britain to cutting net carbon emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050, the energy minister Phil Woolas rejected his own department’s estimate that the costs could exceed the benefits by £95 billion. The House of Commons never debated the costs and the Bill was passed, with only five MPs voting against.
An even more egregious example is provided by Ed Miliband, when he was climate change secretary. The Tory MP Peter Lilley had written to Mr Miliband to say that, based on his department’s own impact statement, the Climate Change Act would cost households an average of between £16,000 and £20,000. The future Labour leader replied that the statement showed that the benefits to British society of successful action on climate change would be far higher than the cost. Mr Miliband should have known this was untrue; if he didn’t, he had no business certifying that he’d read the impact statement, which he’d signed just six weeks earlier. The statement only estimated the benefits of slightly cooler temperatures for the world as a whole, not for the UK.
Indeed, in April 2012, the current Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, confirmed that his department was not aware of evidence that would have allowed Ed Miliband to claim that the UK would be better off with green policies. The impact statement did, however, say that imposing green policies unilaterally in the absence of an international agreement would “result in a large net cost for the UK”.
Here environmentalism came up against an immovable object, which explains why there is no effective international agreement – and there is unlikely ever to be one. Led by India and China, the major developing economies – now responsible for most of the extra emissions – simply refuse to agree to any international treaty that might require them to limit their carbon footprint.
Western politicians spun the mirage of “green growth”, of environmentalism without tears. Green growth was for gullible voters back home. It wasn’t mentioned behind closed doors at the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, when the West implored developing countries to sign on the dotted line. It should not have surprised anyone that the developing world did not. Ever since 1972 and the first UN conference on the environment in Stockholm, the involvement of the developing world has been subject to a strict condition – international action on the environment must not fetter their economic development. Subsequently Canada – a climate change pioneer – announced its withdrawal from Kyoto.
The year before the Copenhagen conference, Oliver Letwin, David Cameron’s chief policy adviser, bet the former chancellor Lord Lawson £100 that there would be agreement on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol by 2012. On winning the bet, Lord Lawson remarked that Mr Letwin, one of the nicest people in politics, was totally divorced from any understanding of practical realities.
Without an international agreement, it is pointless for the UK to spend hundreds of billions of pounds on green energy, reduce its growth and cut living standards. The green energy crunch promises to end up costing us all much more than Oliver Letwin’s losing bet.
UKIP is fuelling the same ‘distrust’ of foreigners that triggered WWI, claims Lib Dem peer in warning against ‘negative nationalism’
Lib Dem Lord Tyler questioned how much UKIP’s Nigel Farage knew about the First World War, but it emerged Mr Farage runs his own tours of battlefields
There is a lot of talk about why Britain entered WWI. They had no love of the French so why did they send troops to help France? The war would have ended with a rapid German victory if Britain had stayed out, saving millions of lives.
But Britain was not defending France. It was scared stiff of the rapidly expanding German navy and wanted Germany defeated before the German Hochseeflotte became powerful enough to challenge the Royal Navy on the oceans of the world. Royal Navy supremacy was needed to protect the Empire
The UK Independence Party has been accused of fuelling the same ‘distrust’ of foreigners which swept Europe before the outbreak of First World War.
Liberal Democrat Lord Tyler sparked a major row with UKIP leader Nigel Farage with a warning against blaming ‘foreigner scapegoats for our economic troubles’.
The peer made the provocative remarks during a House of Lords debate on how best to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.
The peer claimed Mr Farage would ‘do well to revisit the history of that period’ to learn that ‘fomenting distrust can so easily lead to hatred’.
However, it emerged Mr Farage runs regular tours of First World War battlefields and he said his opposition to the European Union was in part informed by the way the collapse of the single currency had fuelled ‘hatred’ between eurozone countries.
As part of national commemorations next year, 100 years on from the start of the conflict, children from every state secondary school will travel to the battlefields as part of a £50million package of events.
David Cameron has said Britain had a duty to ‘honour those who served, remember those who died and ensure the lessons learnt live with us forever’.
But Lord Tyler, a former MP for North Cornwall, said the tone of the events must reflect how the sacrifice of millions ‘did not achieve the war to end all wars that they thought they were fighting for’.
Lord Tyler said his three uncles died in the conflict which was ‘largely pointless, meaningless and avoidable’.
He went on: ‘We should not be celebrating its absurd origins, however much we may pay tribute to those who fought, were wounded or lost their lives.
‘Instead, we must remind ourselves of the futility of negative nationalism, so sharply distinct from positive patriotism.’
He then went on to appear to draw parallels between the rise of UKIP based on attacking ‘foreigner scapegoats’ and the spread of nationalism across continental Europe before 1914.
More than a million Britons died in the First World War
More than a million Britons died in the First World War. The Battle of the Somme was one of the most deadly in the four year conflict. Here a party of Royal Irish Rifles is pictured in a communication trench on the first day of the Battle of the Somme
The First World War was sparked by the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian during a visit to Sarajevo on June 28 1914.
As the two countries clashed, their allies lined up in support with Germany backing Austria, with Russia, Britain and France sympathising with Serbia. A period of of grand-standing, abortive talks and partial mobilisation of troops culminated in Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia on July 28.
Germany declared war on Russia on August 1 and then France on August 3, demanding free passage through Belgium, which lead Britain to declare war on Germany. On August 6 Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia and within weeks Japan had also entered the conflict.
Lord Tyler said the catalogue of events in 1914 marked ‘a terrible failure of common sense and common humanity’.
He told peers: ‘I will find it difficult to mark the centenary of the war’s outbreak with anything other than a resolve that we should do all we can to reconcile the peoples of Europe in the 21st century, avoiding new foreigner scapegoats for our economic troubles, and perhaps also reminding ourselves of the 1914 warmongering populism of the British press, which seems familiar.’
‘I do not know where Mr Farage’s ancestors were between 1914 and 1918, but he would do well to revisit the history of that period. Fomenting distrust can so easily lead to hatred.’
The remarks come just days after UKIP ran the Lib Dems a close second in the hotly-contested Eastleigh by-election, as all the main parties wrestle with how to respond to the rise of the Eurosceptic party.
Lord Tyler told MailOnline today: ‘Making a scapegoat of other peoples for problems which are closer to home is extremely dangerous.
‘Clearly [UKIP] are more serious players than they were so they have got to watch how they approach these issues.’
However, Mr Farage told MailOnline the criticism was ‘totally absurd’. Twice a year he leads tours of World War One battlefields, with groups of friends, colleagues and visiting politicians whom he labels ‘Farage’s Foragers’.
‘I know a lot about the First World War and its origins and I know that in the wake of it we formed something called Yugoslavia to stop Balkan conflicts and look where that got us.
‘It is totally absurd, and I would invite Lord Tyler to go and visit Athens and see real hatred. They now hate the Germans more than at any time since 1945.
‘I want us to have a Europe of independent nation states that trade and co-operate together.
‘But if you force people together against their will, history tells us the long-term outcome will be deeply, deeply unpleasant.
‘You breed extreme nationalism. Lord Tyler is 50 years out of date with his analysis of what Europe is.’
Kia concept car ‘Provo’ reminds Brits of the IRA
KIA’S new concept car, the Provo, is designed to provoke comment. But to many across Britain and Ireland, the name sounds like a celebration of terrorism.
British politicians appealed on Tuesday in the House of Commons for the South Korean car maker to junk the name of its planned mini sports coupe because Provo is the street name for the dominant branch of the outlawed Irish Republican Army. The Provisional IRA killed nearly 1800 people during its failed 1970-1997 campaign to force Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom.
Kia insisted the Provo – an experimental prototype unveiled this week for the International Geneva Motor Show and years away from production – was named to suggest “provocative,” not IRA bombings and shootings. And in a follow-up statement, Kia said it would be certain not to market any future car as a Provo in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland.