Four million extra patients a year flood A&E after Labour’s ‘disastrous’ decision to allow GPs to stop night work

Jeremy Hunt is due to reveal how numbers at A&E departments have shot up by four million a year since the last government agreed a controversial GPs’ contract

Jeremy Hunt is due to reveal how numbers at A&E departments have shot up by four million a year since the last government agreed a controversial GPs’ contract

Labour’s ‘disastrous’ decision to allow family doctors to give up responsibility for out-of-hours care has forced A&E departments to deal with millions more patients, the Health Secretary will warn today.

Jeremy Hunt will reveal how numbers have shot up by four million a year since the last government agreed a controversial GPs’ contract – which allowed them to shirk their obligations to work in the evenings and at weekends.

Mr Hunt and NHS England are now conducting a fundamental review of out-of-hours care, and are expected to report at the end of next month.

In a speech in London, he will say the NHS is guilty of a ‘fundamental failure’ to provide decent care for people with long-term conditions, who should be able to access better support round the clock, rather than having to go to hospital.

Citing pressure on A&E as the ‘biggest operational challenge facing the NHS’, the Health Secretary will say: ‘When I have been visiting A&Es in recent weeks, hard-working staff talk about the same issues: lack of beds to admit people, poor out-of-hours GP services, inaccessible primary care and a lack of co-ordination across the health system.

‘The decline in out-of-hours care follows the last government’s disastrous changes to the GP contract, since when we have seen four million more people using A&E every year.

‘We must address these system failures, and I am determined we will.’

Labour allowed GPs to opt out of responsibility for patients outside office hours and at weekends as part of a botched contract which came into force in 2004.

Since then, private companies have taken over and in many cases have been forced to employ foreign doctors, often with little grasp of English.

The Daily Mail has repeatedly highlighted the deterioration in the service since the contract was changed. A Harris poll for this newspaper showed that 60 per cent of people believe out-of-hours care has got worse.

The number of attendances at A&E has increased from 17.8 million before the new GPs’ contract to 21.7 million last year.

Official reports claim lives may have been put at risk since responsibility for out-of-hours care was transferred from GPs to primary care trusts.

Tragedies included retired engineer David Gray, 70, who died after being given ten times the normal dose of diamorphine by German locum Dr Daniel Ubani.

He had snatched just a few hours of sleep after flying in to work for a private out-of-hours firm.

Errors by German [ Nigerian] surgeon Werner Kolb cost the life of Ena Dickinson, 94, who lost massive amounts of blood during what was meant to be a routine hip operation at Grantham Hospital, Lincolnshire. He had been working in the NHS for three weeks.

In the Commons, David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday clashed over the pressure on A&E departments.

Mr Miliband said the new 111 advice line – set up to replace NHS Direct – was in crisis, with the number of people waiting longer than four hours in emergency departments having risen from 340,000 in 2009-10 to 888,000 last year.

But Mr Cameron said waiting times were either ‘stable or down’ since the last election, and that ministers had ‘virtually abolished’ mixed-sex wards and dramatically reduced superbug infections.


Woman, 26, who was ‘too young’ to be given a smear test dies from cervical cancer

A newlywed died of cervical cancer after being refused a smear test because she was deemed too young.

Becky Ryder was 24 when she visited her doctor with worrying symptoms – but was denied the simple procedure because she was under the minimum age of 25.

It took months of repeated visits to her GP before she eventually saw another doctor, who diagnosed her with cancer.

Mrs Ryder began a gruelling course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy and at one stage was even told she had beaten the disease. But the cancer spread and she died at the age of 26.

Yesterday her widower Paul paid tribute to his wife and described her attitude to the disease as `amazing’.

Mrs Ryder, from Bristol, first went to her doctor in September 2010, complaining of unexplained bleeding.

A change to legislation means that in England regular smear tests are given only to women of 25 and over instead of the previous minimum age of 20, which still applies in Wales.

Mr Ryder, 35, said: `Becky wanted a smear test done and requested it but because she was under 25 at the time they said it would just get returned and they would not do it.

`She was treated for cervical erosion and then it was just left. The bleeding did stop, but it came back again. She saw a different doctor then and they raised a few more concerns.’

Mrs Ryder, a chartered accountant, was finally diagnosed with cervical cancer following a biopsy in February 2011.

She immediately began radiotherapy and chemotherapy as well as undergoing fertility treatment to freeze her eggs in the hope she could later have a family.

In September 2011, she was given the all-clear after scans showed no sign of the cancer.

`It was quite a shock, but a good shock,’ said Mr Ryder, a golf professional and teacher. `Becky didn’t seem to believe it. She had a feeling something more was going on.’

A few months later her legs started to swell and, after returning to the doctors, scans showed the cancer was back.

Mr Ryder said: `That’s when they said “Sorry, it’s terminal”. We still thought she could fight but even more chemotherapy couldn’t get rid of it.’

The couple, who would have celebrated their third wedding anniversary this year, tried to remain positive, but Mrs Ryder was admitted to St Peter’s Hospice, in Bristol, just before Christmas and died on February 14 this year.

Mr Ryder said he later met a woman who also knew a victim of cervical cancer whose condition was not identified in time and had set up a charity.

The Mercedes Curnow Foundation For The Early Detection Of Cervical Cancer now campaigns for a reduction in the screening age to 20. It also funds private smear tests.

But the Department of Health said routine screening of under-25s did `more harm than good’, giving too many false positive results that lead to needless treatment.

Public health minister Anna Soubry added: `We now vaccinate girls with the HPV vaccine which protects against 70 per cent of cervical cancers.’


Anglican school where 75% of the pupils are Muslim drops Christian hymns from assemblies

One wonders why they enrol so many Muslims. There is a big demand for church school places throughout the communiity. The usual special privileges for Muslims, one imagines

Hymns have been dropped from assemblies at a Church of England school which has also introduced separate prayer rooms for girls and boys to cater to its mostly Muslim students.

Daily assemblies at Slough and Eton Church of England Business and Enterprise College, where 75 per cent of pupils are Muslim, are not based specifically on the Bible, but may make reference to it alongside other religious texts.

All of the the meat served at the secondary school, which has over 1,000 pupils aged between 11 and 19, is halal.

Headmaster Paul McAteer said the approach was to be ‘sensitive to the fact that we do have many different faiths in the school’, but added that Christian values were ‘more prevalent here than I have experienced in non-Church of England schools’.

Mr McAteer, who pointed out that the Church of England describes itself as ‘a faith for all faiths’, told the Sunday Times: ‘The values we support are very much Christian values of honesty, integrity, justice.’

According to the school’s prospectus its assemblies – which Mr McAteer said contain a ‘moral message’ – reflect humanitarian and spiritual issues ‘that concern everyone’.

The headmaster explained that the gender-separated prayer rooms at Slough and Eton, which is a voluntary controlled Church of England school, were not specifically for Muslim pupils, but said that it tended to be Muslim children that use them.

A voluntary controlled school refers to one which is state funded but the running of which a foundation – in this case the Church of England – has some influence over.

He said 20 male students would typically attend a lunchtime Islamic prayer session at the Berkshire school.

One of the school aims outlined on its mission statement is ‘to promote tolerance and respect for all cultures represented in the school’.

The college was judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in May 2011 and it was awarded the same rating after a Church of England inspection the following month.

Collective worship at the school is broadly Christian, and assemblies are based on Christian principles but are ‘designed to value and not exclude any other faith’, the prospectus states.

According to the Church of England, a substantial number of primary and secondary church schools – both voluntary controlled and voluntary aided – have over 80 per cent intake from the Muslim community.


Get ready for shale in Britain

The prospects for hydrocarbon production on the British mainland seem stronger than ever. On 10 April, Professor Richard Davies of Durham University’s Energy Institute published a paper stating that fracking is not a significant source of detectible seismic events. Meanwhile, over the last year, there has been a series of leaks of the forthcoming report by the British Geological Survey which is to raise the UK’s estimated reserves of shale gas by some 300 times.

This is welcome news as it paves the way for a secure, domestic, low-cost solution to the thorny problem of replacing the UK’s obsolescent capacity to generate electricity, with a low-carbon footprint feedstock. Many of the deposits are in the North, which would benefit from the investment; but they are also present in the south. In order to make the most of the opportunity, new policy is in order.

HMG is trailing plans to share revenues to incentivise local authorities to welcome oil development. This is very much on the right track, though I would go further: let programs be configured to encourage local authorities to compete for funding, so that they share (say) ten percent of incremental tax receipts; and bid against each other for a further ten percent for development or remediation.

The Petroleum Act (1934) appropriated subterranean hydrocarbon rights from the land-owner to the Crown, at odds with other mineral rights. This anomaly was theoretical until now, as no substantial deposits had been discovered. In light of new technologies we need to reverse this policy which was recapitulated in the Petroleum Act (1998). The clauses concerned should be repealed so that the interests of land-owners are aligned with the public interest in low-cost energy.

This takes us to taxation. Oil prospecting is beset by a complex of penal taxes, compensating exemptions plus a history of opportunistic impositions. All of this adds to investment uncertainty. HMG should set itself to remove fiscal risk from the investment equation, by introducing a regime of simplified tax treatment for newly-lifted deposits of land-based hydrocarbons, to which it commits itself for at least the next ten years.


A British kangaroo court

The drift to an East German system continues

A woman was jailed ‘in secret’ for trying to remove her father from a care home where his family thought he was in danger of dying.

Wanda Maddocks, 50, is the first person known to be imprisoned by the Court of Protection, which settles the affairs of people too ill to make their own decisions.

A judge ruled that she should go to prison for five months for contempt of court even though she was not present or represented by a lawyer.

Details of the case were made public for the first time yesterday and provoked a fresh row over behind-closed-doors justice.

Miss Maddocks, who served six weeks of her sentence, was jailed because she ignored the court’s orders not to try to remove her father John from the home.

She was condemned for incidents including taking the 80-year-old dementia sufferer to a court hearing and to see a solicitor.

She was also censured for producing a leaflet to try to publicise details of the case and giving her father a wooden cross ‘to ward off evil’ in the care home.

Her family said Mr Maddocks, a retired painter and decorator from Stoke-on-Trent, had been held ‘like a prisoner’ on the orders of a local council.

Miss Maddocks was initially not allowed to be named after the hearing and was identified only by her initials WM. And the court’s ruling containing details of her sentence was not published.

The Court of Protection is a branch of the High Court and its hearings are always conducted in private.

Judge Martin Cardinal merely went through the motions of observing open justice when he handed down his sentence. He ordered the doors of his courtroom in Birmingham to be unlocked and told ushers to announce in the corridor that members of the public were free to come in.

But there was no wider announcement of the judgment and no-one who was not directly involved is thought to have attended.

The ban on naming Miss Maddocks was lifted because there was no reason for it to remain in place after her release. Mr Maddocks has since died.

He separated from wife June more than 30 years ago. She remarried but now suffers from Parkinson’s Disease.

The extraordinary case began when the grandfather-of-one was found collapsed at his own home last year.

He was placed in a care home and the local authority applied for a legal order which said he must stay there. These are introduced when officials believe someone could be at risk of harm, and put the Official Solicitor in charge of their affairs.

After a few months Miss Maddocks’ brother Ivan took him out of the care home for lunch. Miss Maddocks was alerted and flew her father to Turkey, where she owns a number of properties.

They stayed for 13 weeks before returning to Britain, and her father went to a different care home.

Mr Maddocks said: ‘Wanda was certain she could care for him herself but the social services said he had to be put in the home. Wanda was very angry that they were taking Dad away from us.’

Miss Maddocks was jailed on September 11 last year after the sentencing in her absence by the Court of Protection in Birmingham, and sent to Foston Hall prison in Derby

She was freed from Foston Hall prison in Derby on November 1 after returning to the court to purge her contempt by apologising to the judge.

Judge Cardinal said in his ruling that ‘there is a history of the family being difficult with the local authority’ and that Miss Maddocks knew she had been ordered not to interfere with her father.

He said she had done so on a number of occasions. On one she took him from his care home to attend a court hearing. On another she took him to Birmingham to talk to a solicitor. [How awful! I thought that was a basic right]

Miss Maddocks was said to have left a long and abusive message on a social worker’s voicemail describing ‘you in your tarty little stuck up voice’ and to have called council staff names including ‘arrogant little cunning b*******’.

In one message she said: ‘I hope you all end up where my Dad is and I hope you all end up cursed.’

But the whistleblowing MP who first learned of the case, Lib Dem John Hemming, said: ‘The jailing of people in secret for contempt is not supposed to happen.

‘No records have been collected. I believe the judges have broken the rules of their own courts, but nobody is doing anything about it.’

‘One of the charges against the woman was that she took her father from his care home to see a solicitor. We now live in a country where ordinary people get locked up for taking their father to see a lawyer. Even in Iran they do not jail people for taking legal advice.’


Bungalows! Incorrect in Britain but popular anyway

A bungalow is a single story detached house in its own yard. Few of any other type of house are built in Australia these days but Brits are not often offered them

Bungalows have been the butt of derision for decades. But the irony is that the British, in their modest, understated way, would actually prefer to live in a bungalow more than any other type of building.

Survey after survey shows that the bungalow always comes out on top. `The Bungalow’ even remains the third most popular name for our homes, after The Cottage and Rose Cottage.

Older people are particularly keen on them – they are so much easier to clean, so much more convenient for security measures and, of course, easier to get around in, without all those stairs to negotiate.

And yet no one seems to be catering for the legions of bungalow lovers. In 2009, only 300 bungalows, out of 100,000 new properties, were built in the whole country and many more were demolished. Just 2 per cent of our national housing stock is taken up by bungalows – even though 30 per cent of the nation are longing to live in one.

Now Policy Exchange, a Right-of-centre think tank much favoured by the Prime Minister, is determined to remedy the situation. In a new report, it suggests that, with an ageing population and a third of us keen to move into bungalows, they could help solve the current housing crisis.

`Older people, currently living in large family homes, might want to downsize to a bungalow, which is smaller and easier to maintain, as well as being on one floor and offering outside space,’ says the report’s author Alex Morton.

`There are huge numbers of spare rooms in homes older people are currently living in. What are needed are the homes that older people like and so would like to move into. But planning policy prevents these homes from being built.’

The trouble is that the Coalition, which is of course desperate to expand the number of homes in our crowded little island, insists on new developments cramming in at least 30 houses per hectare.

Bungalows – spreading horizontally, eating up all that lovely space – don’t fit the bill. As a result, half of all newly built homes are one-bedroom or two-bedroom flats.

If we did come to our senses and started building bungalows instead, we would be reviving a British craze that has been going strong, here and abroad, for more than three centuries.

Our taste for the bungalow began in the 17th century, when British expats in India, working for the East India Company, fell for the local one-storey thatched houses, built in the Bengali style – thus the name bungalow, derived from the Hindi word `bangla’, meaning Bengali.

These banglas also had verandahs, itself another Hindi word, meaning balustrade or balcony.

The housing style caught on quickly in colonial India, as a 1676 entry in the diary of the splendidly named Streynsham Master, working in the India Office, reveals: `It was thought fitt to sett up Bungales or Hovells for all such English in the Company’s service.’

Still, it took several centuries for the style to be brought back to these shores by returning colonial servants.

Of course, there had been one-storey houses in Britain, ever since prehistoric man first threw a primitive roof over a few rough stone walls. But the crucial thing about the first British bungalows of the late 19th century was that they were a positive style choice from the beginning.

Bungalows may have often been mocked by supposed sophisticates like Prince Charles, who has called them `homogenised boxes’.

But the people who really matter – the people who live in them – have always loved them; in stark contrast to the high-density tower blocks that crazily misguided planners commissioned by the thousand from the Fifties onwards.

Bungalows satisfied the national desire for home ownership on a limited budget, provided a pleasant touch of exotic history and met our island taste for things with a seaside flavour: the first British bungalows were built at Westgate-on-Sea and Birchington, both on the Kent coast, in 1869.

They soon became a popular form of seaside architecture all around our coast; not least because they’re less likely to block the sea view of the bungalow behind you.



About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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