Young mother, 27, dies after ‘doctors missed her cancer EIGHTEEN times’

ZERO diagnostic tests! They cost money, you know. Just die!

The family of a woman who died of a rare cancer at the age of 27 have raised questions about the medical care she received.

Kendra Wilson, of Bishopton, near Stockton-on-Tees, lost her battle with signet ring cancer of the appendix a little over one month after she was diagnosed.

Sister Samantha, 30, and mother Jackie, 47, claim Miss Wilson was failed by the NHS, as she visited a Stockton GP practice ‘at least 18 times’ in the past 17 months – with no referral for tests or to a specialist.

Samantha Wilson, manageress of The Empire theatre, in Middlesbrough, says her sister also visited a walk-in clinic in Stockton three times and went to accident and emergency at the University Hospital of North Tees on another three occasions due to her worsening symptoms.

But her family claims she was ‘passed over’, sent home or back to her own GP, without being fully examined or referred to a specialist.

‘It is not just one medical practitioner, there have been a handful of people who have seen her, took her symptoms and said, “just keep taking your tablets for irritable bowel syndrome” – without even doing a simple blood test.’

Miss Wilson says Kendra began suffering shortly after the birth of her youngest son, Assac, in May 2011, with symptoms including a bloated tummy ‘to the point where she looked six months’ pregnant,’ lethargy and severe abdominal pain.

She initially saw her own GP in Stockton but over 17 months also saw his colleagues in the same practice.

Miss Wilson says her sister took the pills she was prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome, but told doctors when she realised they weren’t working.

Nine months ago, after months of no progress, Kendra told a GP she must be imagining her worsening symptoms – and was prescribed antidepressants.

However, Kendra’s condition continued to get worse and during a holiday to Scarborough with her children in the summer break, she couldn’t get out of bed. Once home, she began vomiting blood.

This time mother Jackie, a housekeeper, went to see a doctor with her and demanded she be sent to hospital.

She was admitted to North Tees, but it took several weeks before the family received the devastating cancer diagnosis on September 28.

Miss Wilson and her mother raised concerns over Kendra’s treatment in hospital, where they say she spent several weeks with no treatment barring pain relief, either before or after her diagnosis.

Eventually, the family was told her cancer had spread to other abdominal organs and her bones, and there was no treatment available.

She was admitted to Butterwick Hospice in Stockton, where she passed away on Sunday.

Jackie and Samantha Wilson, and their younger sister Star, 17, have been left devastated, as have Kendra’s partner, Arfan, 25, and sons Aliem, eight, Ameer, seven, Harris, five, and Asaac.

Mrs Wilson described Kendra as a ‘devoted mum’ who ‘went everywhere’ with her four children – and always had a dazzling smile for everyone.

She said: ‘Other girls her age are into going clubbing and leaving their kids with their parents, but not Kendra. ‘She was always in with them. She was so placid and would never shout at them. ‘She didn’t go out drinking and she didn’t smoke. ‘She worked nights in mental health care but would be up in the morning to get them ready for school. “She never complained, even through her illness and wouldn’t hear a bad word about anybody. She believed anger was a waste of time.’

Miss Wilson said: ‘We know her cancer was incurable but if it had been found early, it could have been managed. ‘She could have lived to see her kids growing up. But it got to the stage where they couldn’t prolong her life with anything.’

A spokeswoman for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘We can understand the family are absolutely devastated for the loss of Kendra and our sincerest sympathies are with her family.’

A spokeswoman from NHS Tees Primary Care Trusts said: ‘We are extremely saddened by this tragic case and our thoughts are with Kendra’s family at this difficult time.

‘The quality of care provided for our patients is of the utmost importance and we would encourage Kendra’s family to contact us so that we can discuss their concerns.’

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Doctors too often ‘careless’ and ‘insincere’ when talking to patients: Ombudsman

Doctors and healthcare staff have been criticised as offering ‘insincere apologies’ and being ‘careless’ in their conversations with patients as one man was told not to be a ‘baby’ when he feared having a general anaesthetic.

Health Service Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said there needs to be ‘shift in attitude’ after complaints rose.

Dame Judy is calling on the NHS to improve the way it deals with complaints on the ground. “All too often the people who come to us for help are unhappy because of the careless communication, insincere apologies and unclear explanations they’ve received from the NHS,” she said.

“A poor response to a complaint can add to the problems of someone who is unwell, struggling to take care of others or grieving. The NHS needs to get better at listening to patients and their families and responding to their concerns.”

In one of the cases highlighted in the ombudsman’s report, a bereaved daughter was told “death is rarely an ideal situation for anyone” and that “truth be told your mother probably said her goodbyes long before the final moments”.

Another case details how a surgeon called a male patient a ‘baby’ when he expressed his anxiety about having a general anaesthetic.

Dame Judy also highlighted cases where GPs removed patients from their practice lists after they had complained.

There had been a 16 per cent increase in the number of patients ‘struck off’ in this way, she said.

Complaints to her office about care in the NHS have increase by 8 per cent since last year.

The NHS received 150,859 complaints between 2011 and 2012, of those, 16,337 patients or family members were dissatisfied with the way the NHS tried to resolve their concerns and referred the complaint on to the Health Service Ombudsman, figures show.

There were 1,523 complaints about the NHS not acknowledging mistakes in care, according to a report by the ombudsman.

And more than 1,600 people complained about inadequate remedies being offered, including inadequate apologies.

Almost 100 people said they had been unfairly removed from GP practice lists after a dispute or disagreement.

The ombudsman said that despite issuing a warning about GPs unfairly or hastily striking off patients from their practice lists, the number of such cases has risen by 16% since last year.

said: “Our casework tells us there needs to be a clear shift in the attitude and practice of some GPs towards complaints.

“Our concerns about how GPs are handling complaints about their practices need to be addressed as a priority.

“As the new NHS begins to take shape, GPs and other providers, GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups and the NHS Commissioning Board will need to work to embed good complaint handling across the NHS.”

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “The vast majority of NHS patients are happy with the care they receive, but if things go wrong, some NHS organisations respond to complaints better than others. This is something that the NHS must improve.

“That is why, under the NHS constitution, we have proposed introducing a new right for complaints to be acknowledged within three days and stronger rights to make sure complaints are handled openly.

“We want to see a patient centred NHS where patients have a stronger voice. This means making the NHS more accountable for the quality of care it provides for patients.

“The Government has set up the new patient champion HealthWatch, which will argue on behalf of patients and help drive improvements in the quality of health and social care services.”

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar, said: “This is an important report from the Health Ombudsman and one whose findings all of us in the NHS should carefully consider.

“Listening to patients and their families is an essential part of providing dignified and compassionate care. It provides invaluable information about what’s working and where organisations need to do better.

“Our joint Dignity Commission has emphasised the importance of hospital staff discussing and responding to feedback from patients and their families on the ward every day and hospital boards doing the same at every meeting. Doing this allows us the time to discuss and reflect on the care we provide and how we can improve it.

“We should encourage feedback from patients and families. Only by having a two way dialogue and seeing complaints as positive, can we change patient experience.”

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Doctors wrong about patients’ wants

A shocking comment on their tendency to listen. I cannot find the original study online but this appears to concern British doctors, who function under a system of socialized medicine, where the incentives are perverse

THERE are gaps between the types of treatment patients want and what doctors think they want, according to new research.

One study, published on bmj.com, reveals that doctors believe 71 per cent of patients with breast cancer rate keeping their breast as a “top priority”. But just seven per cent of patients asked the same question said this was their primary concern.

In another study, doctors said 96 per cent of breast cancer patients considering chemotherapy rated living as long as possible a top priority, while the figure reported by patients was 59 per cent.

Experts say patients often change their preferred treatment once they are fully informed of the risks and benefits.

For example, 40 per cent fewer patients preferred surgery for benign prostate disease once they learned of the risks of sexual dysfunction.

The authors of the report, Albert Mulleym, Chris Trimble and Glyn Elwyn, said: “Ensuring patients’ preferences are not misdiagnosed is not as simple as asking the patient what he or she wants.

“Instead, it requires three steps: adopting a mindset of scientific detachment; using data to formulate a provisional diagnosis; and engaging the patient in conversation and deliberation.”

They argue that better diagnosis could reduce the cost of healthcare because “engaged” and “informed” patients often choose less intensive care and become more careful about having multiple procedures.

They said: “It is tantalising to consider that budget-challenged health systems around the world could simultaneously give patients what they want and cut costs.”

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Number of unprocessed immigration cases in Britain is same as population of Iceland: Border chiefs accused of ‘camouflaging’ the issue

Border chiefs were today accused of ‘camouflaging’ the true scale of an immigration backlog that was ‘spiralling out of control.’

The total number of immigration and asylum cases which have not been processed by the UK Border Agency now stands at more than 300,000 – the equivalent of a city the size of Sunderland – or the entire population of Iceland, the Home Affairs Committee said.

And it has also emerged that the UK Border Agency is set to grant an ‘amnesty’ to some 80,000 migrants as it struggles with a spiralling backlog of immigration cases.

Keith Vaz, the committee’s chairman, yesterday demanded bosses at UKBA ‘get a grip’ on the scale of the backlog – and accused them of trying to disguise the problems from the public.

Mr Vaz said: ‘Entering the world of the UKBA is like falling through the looking glass. ‘The closer we look the more backlogs we find, their existence obscured by opaque names such as the ‘migration refusal pool’ and the ‘controlled archive’. ‘UKBA must adopt a transparent and robust approach to tackling this problem instead of creating new ways of camouflaging backlogs. ‘They need to get a grip.’

Mr Vaz added: ‘There are now about the same number of cases awaiting resolution by UKBA as there are people living in Iceland. ‘The backlog is spiralling out of control.’

The UK Border Agency is set to write off around 80,000 cases where they have been unable to track missing migrants for more than six years. The cases are what remains from nearly half a million found abandoned in boxes at the Home Office in 2006 in a major scandal.

The controlled archive was created to hold what remains of Labour’s asylum backlog. It was intended to hold cases that had not been concluded, so they could be re-opened if the person was found. Since then UKBA officials have been tracking them down – but recently admitted they would abandon those they couldn’t find.

In September, Border Agency chief executive Rob Whiteman said it was ‘not in the best interests of taxpayers’ to carry on looking for them, and the cases would be closed. Around 80,000 are expected to be written off in the New Year.

The committee said they were ‘concerned’ that the closure of the 80,000 files would result in ‘a significant number of people being granted effective amnesty in the United Kingdom, irrespective of the merits of their case.’

At the end of June this year, the UK Border Agency had a total of 302,064 cases outstanding, today’s report shows. That includes 25,000 current asylum cases, 3,500 current immigration cases, and 95,000 archived cases. Worryingly, the numbers within the Migration Refusal Pool reached 174,057 – a rise of 24,057 in just three months. The pool is made up of legal migrants whose work or student visas have expired and who cannot be found.

The Border Agency has awarded a £30million contract to outsourcing firm Capita to help track them down. It began work at the end of October.

Also within the backlog are 3,954 foreign criminals who cannot be deported and have been released on bail by the courts.

Overall, the backlog grew by nine per cent in the three months to June this year.

Six years ago the asylum backlog scandal prompted then Home Secretary John Reid to brand the immigration system ‘not fit for purpose’.

Border officials claim that in many of the cases which remain the individuals will have left the country.

But the MPs said they were ‘not convinced that the agency’s limited checking regime will have picked up all of the applicants who remain in the country’.

‘For this reason we are concerned that the final checks made on these cases should be thorough and that they should not be rushed to meet an artificial deadline.’

Of the asylum archive cases that have been processed, fewer than one in ten have been removed. More than 180,000 have been given the right to stay in the country, while just 41,300 have been kicked out or left voluntarily.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: ‘This report raises some legitimate concerns but we are taking robust action and it is working.

‘Every day it gets harder to live illegally in the UK – we are tracking people down and taking action against them. We are restricting access to benefits, free healthcare and financial products, and businesses can be fined up to £10,000 for every illegal worker they employ.

‘We are winning more deportation cases in the courts, exceeding visa processing targets and have introduced interviews to test whether foreign students are genuine – all of which are praised in this report.’

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British judge hits out at wives who demand ‘completely inappropriate’ divorce payments

Large divorce payouts awarded by British judges in the past have made marriage in Britain not readily distinguishable from prostitution

The days of wives receiving multi-million pound divorce payouts from wealthy husbands could be numbered after one of the country’s top family judges slammed such claims.

Lord Justice Thorpe said payouts in ‘big money’ divorces, where wives feel it is ‘reasonable’ to ask for millions to maintain the lifestyle they are accustomed to, should be consigned to history, adding: ‘We only talk about “needs” when there isn’t a lot to go round.’

The judge made the comments when presiding over a case in which multi-millionaire hotel boss Andrew Morris Davies, is battling to get a £2.75million divorce payout awarded to his ex-wife Debra Ann Davies cut.

Mr Davies was ‘in love’ with his business, The Cardiff Hotel, in exclusive Norfolk Square, Bayswater, West London, and described himself as ‘a force of nature’ to Judge Martin O’Dwyer who made the award to his ex-wife.

She helped run the hotel for 13 years before the couple split, and in August last year, Judge O’Dwyer recognised her contribution to the success of the business when he awarded her a £2.2million lump sum, plus the £550,000 former matrimonial home, in Friars Way, Acton.

Mr Davies reacted angrily to the award, insisting that – whilst his wife was ‘the second best receptionist’ he ever had – she should not get a share of the hotel’s value because she was just a paid employee who ‘simply did her duties’.

Today he asked Lord Justice Thorpe, Lord Rimer and Lord Justice Elias sitting in London’s Appeal Court to slash her payout.

The court heard the hotel had been passed to Mr Davies and his two sisters by their parents, and Mr and Mrs Davies bought out his siblings’ shares during their marriage.

Having heard that Judge O’Dwyer had assessed Mrs Davies’ claim, ‘in terms of pure need’, at £1.55million and had then upped her payout to £2.7million because of her contribution to the success of the hotel, Lord Justice Thorpe said:

‘Any mention of needs is completely inappropriate in a case of this scale. We only talk about needs when there isn’t a lot to go round. ‘In a case like this, which is loosely categorised as ‘big money’, needs should not make much of a contribution to judicial reasoning.

‘The bigger the family fortune, the less relevant needs became. In big money cases, the wife will often get twice what she needs. I don’t see what bearing needs have in this case.’

Lords Justice Thorpe, Rimer and Elias reserved their decision on Mr Davies’ appeal, to be delivered at a later date.

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The new Archbishop of Canterbury believes in God!

Rare in the Anglican episcopacy

His style is self-deprecating, his family background surprisingly colourful. The great unanswered question, though, is just why did oilman Justin Welby throw up his six-figure salary and executive lifestyle to become a priest?

Yesterday, 56-year-old Dr Welby — ordained barely 20 years ago and appointed Bishop of Durham only last autumn — was named the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of England’s most senior post and spiritual head of 77 million Anglicans worldwide.

As Damascene conversions go, Dr Welby’s story must be classified as positively Biblical. The child of a broken home (his parents divorced when he was just three), he went to Eton and Cambridge, then spent years working in Paris and London, climbing the ladder in the tough but rewarding oil business.

Then in 1989, at the age of 33, he threw it all up to enter Cranmer Hall theological college in Durham, and by 1992 he was a curate. (Given his appointment this week, it is entertaining to note that the late Bishop of Kensington, John Hughes, when approached by Justin Welby, said: ‘There is no place for you in the Church of England. I have interviewed a thousand for ordination, and you don’t come in the top thousand.’)

At a Lambeth Palace press conference to announce his appointment yesterday, the Archbishop elect signalled the start of a battle with David Cameron over same-sex marriage, declaring his opposition to the Coalition’s plans to allow gay couples to marry.

His confirmation, in a single sentence, that he backs a strong line against gay marriage means an inevitable clash between the Church and the Government, though he went on to say: ‘I am always averse to the language of exclusion.’

His new role is affirmation of his meteoric rise, on the back of self-effacing observations such as ‘Let’s be clear, I’m one of the thicker bishops in the Church of England’; and, as he rose to make his maiden speech in the House of Lords last spring, a declaration that he was ‘astonished’ to be there at all.

As for his own vocation, his explanation for the fundamental switch in his life is simply to say: ‘I was unable to get away from a sense of God calling.’

There is a deep-seated tragedy which undoubtedly pulled him, and his wife Caroline, 55, a classics teacher, to prayer. This was the death in a car crash in France of their firstborn child, seven-month-old Johanna. The baby was in a carry cot in the car with Caroline, though Justin was not travelling with them. ‘It was a very dark time for us, but in a strange way it actually brought us closer to God,’ he said recently.

That same year, the Welbys, who now have two sons and another three daughters (as well as Katherine, there is Tim, 28, Peter, 23, currently studying Arabic, Eleanor, 20, and Hannah, 17), moved back to England. Soon after, he accepted the senior position of group treasurer to an oil exploration group, Enterprise Oil in London.

Significantly, he also became a member of the congregation at the evangelical Holy Trinity Brompton in central London, which has been at the centre of the Alpha Course movement (a highly popular nationwide ten-week introduction to the faith).

But could there have been another reason why Justin Welby was motivated to pull away from Mammon and turn to God?

In Paris, he had worked as a finance project manager for the French oil company Elf Aquitaine (now part of the global giant Total) during a period when, it later emerged, some of the senior executives at its palatial offices near the Champs-Elysee were running fraud rackets involving corrupt African dictators, compliant members of the Gallic establishment, and a vast network of criminally minded middle men.

Secret dealings went on relentlessly in which executives effectively used the company as a private bank, with hundreds of millions spent on art, villas, women and political lobbying. One figure famously used company money to finance his multi-million-pound divorce.

It was one of France’s greatest scandals, summed up by investigating judge Eva Joly in these words: ‘I see so many resemblances, in France and abroad, between the corruption of the state and mafias of various sorts — the same networks, the same henchmen, the same banks, the same marble villas.’

A lawyer involved in the scandal says: ‘The effect on innocent young employees like Justin Welby when the truth emerged must have been enormous. No wonder he couldn’t get away fast enough from big business. No wonder he is a man who, it is quite obvious, wants to do good.’

So it is no surprise that Dr Welby has brought his anger over such greed into his ministry. In the House of Lords, he has challenged the ‘sins’ of the big banks, and used that Old Testament word ‘usury’ to condemn the payday ‘loan sharks’ with their sky-high interest rates.

Not only does he understand the devious workings of the City, he has become the object of a wry joke in ecclesiastical circles, which goes: ‘How astonishing — an Archbishop of Canterbury who actually believes in God.’

His contemporaries at Eton included the Tory minister Oliver Letwin, and he is just a few months older than other notable Etonians such as Charles Moore and Dominic Lawson — former editors of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph.

While the Prime Minister — yet another OE, of course — will be sensitive to criticism that Bishop Welby’s appointment will only increase the school’s dominance of the Establishment, his down-to-earth likeability should allay Mr Cameron’s concerns.

He and Caroline — who met at Cambridge and have been married for 33 years — sent their five children to state schools. Meanwhile, the clergyman himself has plenty of experience of the real world, having shaken hands with warlords and been threatened at gunpoint during his ministry in Africa on behalf of a peace and reconciliation project based in Coventry.

Where the new head of the Church will find disagreement with the Prime Minister is on the thorny issue of gay marriage. [The Prime Minister favours it. His Grace does not]

So there will be battles ahead. But they will be fought with charm and good humour.

It may be a long way from the cloisters of Eton to the African badlands, but Justin Welby has trodden that path with empathy and courage.

Now, he must turn his considerable talents to the stewardship of the Church of England — a monumental challenge for any man.

The new Archbishop will replace Dr Rowan Williams who is to become Master of Magdalene College in Cambridge

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Britain could leave European Court of Human Rights

Britain could leave the European Convention on Human Rights after rows over prisoner voting and the deportation of foreign criminals, the Justice Secretary has said.

Chris Grayling, who took over the job in September, said he has not ruled out an exit from European human rights laws, even though the Attorney General has told MPs there is “no question of the UK withdrawing from the convention”.

Dominic Grieve, the Government’s most senior lawyer, said in the House of Commons last month that Britain “strongly supports” the convention and it must be allowed to “continue its very good work”.

But in an interview with the Conservative Home website, Mr Grayling said: “Well, again I’m not ruling it in and not ruling it out. I think it would be irresponsible at the start of a process.

“We’ve got to go through a process. We’ve got to deal with this issue, because people feel very strongly about it. I don’t want to start with a conclusion.”

Mr Grayling has previously said the Conservatives will go into the next election promising a new relationship with the European Court of Human Rights.

He has made it clear that “no change is not an option” after the Strasbourg court ruled against the UK ban on prisoner voting and stalled the deportation of terror suspect Abu Qatada.

Many Conservatives MPs want a new relationship before 2015, arguing that the court is undermining the House of Commons right now.

They are worried about the court over-riding the sovereignty of parliament, after the court ruled Britain’s blanket ban on prisoner suffrage is illegal.

David Cameron has said inmates will not be given the vote, as parliament already decided 18 months ago to keep the ban.

This has set Britain on a collision course with Strasbourg, as ministers try to find a way to work around the ruling.

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British cities resort to incinerating millions of tons of “recycled” household rubbish

Millions of tons of household rubbish was burned instead of recycled by councils last year, new figures revealed yesterday.

The amount sent to incinerators shot up by almost a quarter – while the amount sent for recycling went up by barely a single percentage point.

The burning boom means millions of families who have been forced to cope with fortnightly collections, rubbish rationing and wheelie bin fines in the name of saving the environment now have to live with the pollution risks of incinerators.

A report from the Environment Department admitted the amount of rubbish being recycled by town halls is `levelling off’ and that the amount of rubbish kept out of landfill is still far short of targets set by the European Union.

Britain faces large fines from Brussels if councils are burying more than half of all the rubbish they collect in landfill sites by 2020.

The leap in incineration follows the imposition of fortnightly collections – compulsory recycling schemes in which general refuse is collected only once a fortnight and those who break the rules face draconian fines – on half the homes in the country since 2005.

The fortnightly schemes proved highly unpopular, so councils have been attempting to bring in alternatives, including straightforward limits on the amount of non-recycling rubbish they will collect from homes, and complicated `slopbucket’ schemes in which food waste is collected separately from other refuse.

But even as the compulsory recycling schemes were brought in, the rate of increase in the amount of rubbish recycled was slowing, DEFRA’s figures showed.

But it added that `an increase in incineration may have partly accounted for the change in landfill.’

The amount of rubbish collected by councils in England and sent to incinerators went up in a year by nearly a million metric tonnes, from 3,975,000 tonnes to 4,878,000 – a 22.7 per cent increase.

Waste sent to incinerators has now more than doubled in 10 years.

Confirming the rise in the burning of rubbish in electricity-generating incinerators last year, the report said: `Generating energy from waste is preferable to landfilling, albeit less so than recycling.’

By contrast, the amount of rubbish recycled went up from 10,588,000 tonnes to 10,712,000, a rise of just 124,000 tonnes, or just over one per cent.

In the past five years of voter anger over bin collection cutbacks, the amount of waste recycled has gone up by only just over 10 per cent, the figures showed.

DEFRA’s report said of recycling, which now accounts for 43 per cent of household waste: `This year on year increase was the smallest for 10 years; the rate of increase has been slowing since its peak around 2005, which could indicate that local authorities have by now exploited the easiest targets in terms of recycling, and are increasingly facing challenges in influencing behaviour change and identifying new areas and efficiencies in the waste services they provide.’

It added: `Incineration increased by around one quarter from the previous year.

It is difficult to determine if this increase in incineration reflects any long term change in approach local authorities have taken in their choices on waste treatment options.’

The introduction of fortnightly collections and other bin restrictions was introduced in the name of hitting green targets and reducing carbon emissions.

The DEFRA report said that incineration and landfill together were responsible for the emission of 2.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent last year.

Critics of compulsory recycling said they feared new and draconian measures to force householders and families to put out less rubbish.

Doretta Cocks of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collections said: `The whole fortnightly collection exercise has been completely pointless, except as a way for them to save money by cutting back on services to the public.

`The only worry now is what they will do next. There is already talk from some people that fortnightly collections are not enough, and there should be monthly collections.’

Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said: `More still needs to be done and we continue to push towards our aim of a zero waste economy, with businesses, councils and householders all doing their bit.’

Clyde Loakes of the Local Government Association, the umbrella body for councils, said: `Councils will always recycle where they can, but it remains the case that not all black bag rubbish can be recycled or reused in a practical or affordable way.

`Incinerating waste which can’t affordably be recycled saves money by avoiding landfill taxes. It also generates energy and produces fewer carbon emissions than sending the equivalent waste to landfill.’

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Teachers ‘failing to champion excellence’, Australian academic warns

Speaking in Britain

School standards are being damaged by a “conspiracy of silence” among teachers who refuse to champion excellence, a leading academic has warned.

Pupils may be missing out on the very best results because of a “great equalisation” at the heart of the teaching profession that fails to mark out and reward top-performing staff, it was claimed.

John Hattie, professor of education at Melbourne University, suggested that too many teachers were reluctant to value expertise for fear of denigrating struggling colleagues.

He insisted that the “tyranny of the closed door” was a major problem as it prevented teachers sharing their best ideas and lessons with their colleagues.

A rigorous focus on teacher improvement is the hallmark of top education systems around the world but a reluctance to adopt a similar system in the UK risks undermining standards, Prof Hattie suggested.

He warned that the impact that schools can have on pupils “will barely change” until drastic reforms are made.

The comments come amid continuing concerns the variable quality of lessons in schools.

In its annual report last year, Ofsted warned that teaching was not good enough in more than four-in-10 English schools, with “dull” lessons fuelling bad behaviour in the classroom.

Ministers have now introduced new rules making it easier for heads to sack consistently struggling teachers. The Government is also considering introducing a new system of performance-related pay to reward the very best staff.

Prof Hattie, an expert in the evaluation of teaching standards, said there was a “great equalisation in the profession that does not welcome excellence and a conspiracy of silence to even talk among each other about the impact of their teaching”.

Speaking ahead of a presentation to the London Festival of Education on November 17, he said too many teachers failed to properly observe their colleagues at work.

“The greatest difference between one school and another is the quality of teaching,” he said.

“Yet in spite of this there is a conspiracy of silence, with teachers unwilling to talk to their colleagues about the impact of their teaching.

“Teachers, like politicians, prefer to talk about the curriculum, children, assessments and the structural parts of schooling such as the state of the school building.

“Until this situation is properly acknowledged, it just isn’t possible to truly change the impact a teacher, a school, even an entire education system, can have on its pupils.”

The academic, author of the book “Visible Learning”, said the UK education system was not sufficiently geared towards teacher improvement, adding that the profession failed to sufficiently “rejoice” at evidence of improvement being made.

“Teachers too often live in their private worlds with teaching often done in front of classes not visible to colleagues,” he said.

“And our studies show that the most high impact and passionate teachers are not always the most social in the staffroom.”

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, insisted that teachers constantly “strived for excellence” but were hampered by a lack of on-the-job training and attacks from politicians.

“Teachers find their efforts to improve the quality of their teaching stymied by the low priority given to continuing professional development,” she said.

“And teachers’ morale is at rock bottom – damaged by wave upon wave of denigration by Michael Gove [the Education Secretary] and his acolytes.

“If the situation is to improve, teachers must become partners in the drive to improve education performance. After all, it is teachers who will make the difference – not politicians.”

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Universities ‘grossly distorted’ by Government reforms

The higher education system is being “grossly distorted” by Government reforms to universities, a powerful coalition of academics and peers has warned.

Academic research and student teaching has been undermined by the sheer scale of “excessive, inefficient and hugely wasteful” regulations imposed on institutions, it was claimed.

The newly-established Council for the Defence of British Universities, which is being backed by 65 key figures, including Lord Bragg, Alan Bennett, Sir Simon Jenkins and Lord Rees, warned that the “very purpose” of a degree was under threat.

Students are increasingly being seen as “consumers” who are encouraged to invest in an undergraduate course to boost their earning prospects instead of developing their “intellectual and critical capacities to the full”, the group suggested.

Particular criticism was levelled at the Coalition’s decision to axe all direct state funding for arts, languages and humanities courses while continuing to subsidise science, technology, engineering and maths.

Sir Keith Thomas, the Oxford University historian and former president of the British Academy, said the move will have “unfortunate effects” and could lead to a decline in the study of subjects such as Chinese, Russian, German and French.

The group – which will be officially launched next week – will campaign for the abolition of existing Government quangos set up to fund higher education in favour of fully independent grant-making bodies designed to act as “buffers between the universities and the politicians”.

Writing in Times Higher Education magazine, Sir Keith, a member of the council, criticised the “repugnant” treatment of universities by successive governments.

He said it was correct that safeguards should be placed on the spending of public money, but added: “The degree of audit and accountability now demanded is excessive, inefficient and hugely wasteful of time and resources.

“More fundamentally, the very purpose of the university is grossly distorted by the attempt to create a market in higher education.

“Students are regarded as `consumers’ and encouraged to invest in the degree course they think most likely to enhance their earning prospects.

“Academics are seen as ‘producers’, whose research is expected to focus on topics of commercial value and whose ‘output’ is measured against a single scale and graded like sacks of wheat.

“The universities themselves are encouraged to teach and research not what they think is intrinsically worthwhile but what is likely to be financially most profitable.”

In recent years, the system for funding university research has been overhauled, with institutions being scored through a complex mechanism based on quality and impact. Universities also must hit new admissions targets designed to create a more socially-diverse student body and institutions are subjected to additional audits by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

Sir Keith said that the “central values of the university” – to develop students’ intellectual and critical capacities – were being “sidelined or forgotten”.

Also writing in the Times Higher, Lord Rees, emeritus professor of cosmology and astrophysics at Cambridge University, said academics’ morale was being eroded, even at world-leading institutions.

“I am lucky to have spent many years in one in the University of Cambridge. But even there, morale is falling,” he said.

“Coffee-time conversations are less about ideas and more about grants, the research excellence framework, job security and suchlike. Prospects of sustaining excellence will plummet if such concerns prey unduly on the minds of even the best young academics.”

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British father attacks daughter’s school after she was told to remove poppy band as it breached health and safety rules

A man whose grandfather was a Second World War soldier has hit out at his daughter’s school after she was banned from wearing her poppy wristband because of health and safety fears.

Maggy Lane, 13, was ordered to remove the Poppy Appeal band – a symbol of remembrance sold by the Royal British Legion – by teachers at Shepshed High School in Leicestershire.

The teenager was told the wristband was forbidden because it breached the school’s uniform code and it was feared the rubber bangle could get caught on something during a lesson.

The schoolgirl’s father Myles Lane, 39, questioned why the rubber bands were banned because of the potential safety risk when students are allowed to wear poppies secured to their uniform by a pin.

‘I feel quite passionate about it,’ said Mr Lane, who added that his grandfather Arthur Witherbed, who died last year at the age of 90, was part of the Royal Leicester Regiment which fought in Norway in 1940.

‘I have always drummed into my daughter the importance of Poppy Day and she had bought the band out of her own money.

‘They told me it was a health and safety risk, but they are okay to wear a poppy with a pin on it.

‘I can appreciate the school has health and safety issues with bracelets but I think they should be able to make an allowance with a poppy band,’ said Mr Lane, a draughtsman.

‘Perhaps they could ask students to remove them in potentially hazardous situations like for P.E. and in cookery lessons, then let them wear the bands at other times.’

Mr Lane, from Shepshed, said Remembrance Day held extra significance for his family since his grandfather’s death last year. When the Germans invaded Norway in 1940 Mr Witherbed escaped by walking to neighbouring Sweden. From there he made his way back to England, and he was stationed with the military police at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire.

Adrian Stephenson, joint head teacher at the school, said: ‘We don’t allow children to wear wrist bands at school. It is as simple as that. ‘We have to stick to the uniform code,’ he said. ‘When governors put the dress code together, health and safety is part of the issue of wearing jewellery.

‘It is important to stress we want the children to understand all about remembrance and it is a central part of what we do, but at the same time, if you want to run a good school you have a set of rules and you have to stick to them,’ Mr Stephenson added.

His co-head Stewart Goacher said the wristband was forbidden under the same rules that prevent pupils from wearing bracelets. Mr Goacher added that the school sells lapel poppies, holds an annual remembrance assembly and supports the charity Help for Heroes.

David Hobday, chair of the Loughborough British Legion, said: ‘In theory, I am upset because it is a promotional time particularly for us, but if it is school policy and they have been asked to take them off then that is the school’s prerogative.’

SOURCE

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A revealing experiment

Money talks in the NHS — exactly what the NHS was set up to avoid

A controversial scheme to give hospitals a bonus if fewer patients die has led to nearly 900 lives being saved over 18 months.

Twenty four NHS hospitals in the north west took part in the Advancing Quality programme where they are given cash incentives to cut mortality rates for conditions like heart attacks. A total of £4.8 million over 18 months was available to share between those hospitals who showed the most improvement in their death rates.

Figures from the 18-month trial show 890 fewer patients died from conditions including pneumonia and hip replacements, than in the same period before the trial. This is a ‘significant’ difference in mortality rates said a study jointly conducted by the universities of Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham and Cambridge.

The scheme, which is used across many US hospitals, is seen as controversial by those who feel hospitals should not be rewarded for saving lives as they should do this anyway.

But those administering the programmes say that the bonus acts as an incentive for doctors and other healthcare workers to examine more carefully their methods and practices. The extra money goes straight back into healthcare so the hospital itself benefits rather than individual administrators or bosses, for instance.

Matt Sutton, professor of health economics at Manchester said the results contradict previous research, particularly in America where the scheme is already established.

He said: ‘While research has shown the US scheme had no effect on patient health, the same scheme in the NHS did and resulted in 890 lives being saved during over 18 months.’

Reasons for this may be that the potential bonuses are larger in the UK, it encouraged staff to meet more regularly to share and solve problems but also it sparked competitiveness.

In the US, the schemes are local and only five per cent of hospitals take part. In the UK trial, 24 hospitals in the north-west took part to get a bigger share of the bonus pot, which made them compete against each other.

Since the end of the trial, the scheme has continued and extended to a total of 32 hospital trusts in the region.

The mortality rates for conditions covered by the scheme fell by six per cent year on year, said the research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The universities studied death rates for those who died in the hospital (not after being sent home) from pneumonia, heart failure and heart attack.

The scheme also takes into account deaths from heart bypass surgery and hip and knee replacement surgery and has since been extended to cover strokes and dementia.

It varies from another NHS scheme which extends across all hospitals in Britain where money is withheld for high mortality rates rather than awarded for improving rates.

Another researcher, Professor Ruth McDonald of Nottingham University, added: ‘Pay-for-performance schemes are being widely adopted, yet until now there’s been little evidence that they improve patient outcomes. ‘Our findings suggest they can make a positive and significant difference but that, whether they do so, depends very much on how they’re designed and implemented.’

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Child dies after massive drugs blunder at under-fire NHS hospital — coverup in place

A child has died after a massive drugs blunder at an under-fire NHS hospital. Mystery surrounds the tragic death at the children’s ward of Basildon Hospital, Essex, which happened sometime over the past month.

Sources close to the hospital have revealed the untimely death is believed to have occurred when staff dispensed incorrect or out of date medication.

A media blackout amongst staff at the hospital has meant details of the incident have remained tightly guarded.

Health inspectors visited the hospital on Saturday and whilst investigating discovered another non-fatal drugs blunder by staff on the same ward. A full investigation into both incidents by the Care Quality Commission is due to conclude in the coming weeks.

This is not the first time Basildon Hospital has hit the headlines due to failings in patient care. Earlier this week the hospital was threatened with massive fines if it continues to miss key performance targets including assessing all accident and emergency patients within 60 minutes.

In July, the same hospital was slammed following the death of a child from blood poisoning at the hospital’s new state-of-the-art children’s A&E department, which opened in March. The child, whose age and sex were never released, waited for 55 minutes to be seen despite self-imposed targets stating all children should be assessed within 15 minutes. The youngster was eventually transferred to Great Ormond Street but sadly died soon after.

Today the Care Quality Commission, said: ‘The CQC carried out an inspection at the trust on Saturday, 3 November 2012. ‘A report of our inspectors’ full findings will be published in due course. ‘We are also liaising with our partner agencies with regard to the trust and will take any appropriate action where this is deemed necessary.’

The hospital released a brief statement today. A spokesperson said: ‘Basildon and Thurrock University Hospital NHS Trust is committed to providing all its patients with an excellent level of care in a safe environment.

‘Following two recent incidents at Basildon Hospital, where the care we delivered to children did not meet this standard, we are working with the Care Quality Commission to strengthen our paediatric services.’

SOURCE

The young British children who do worse educationally also do worse physically

The “explanation” offered for the findings is hardly an explanation at all. The findings are however well explained by IQ being one aspect of general biological fitness

Tens of thousands of children are being held back at school because their sedentary lifestyles have left them lacking basic physical skills. A study of four and five-year-olds shows nearly a third struggle with tasks such as balancing on one leg and crawling.

Researchers say children increasingly spend their early years sitting in front of screens and being ferried around in prams and car seats, with fewer opportunities to roll, climb, crawl and enjoy rough-and-tumble play.

The study found those who struggle with basic physical exercises are significantly more likely to fall behind academically.

Sixty children in reception classes at a school in the West Midlands were given 14 short tests, including asking them to balance on one leg for three seconds and crawl a short distance.

The study found 30 per cent of pupils showed signs of physical immaturity and a further 42 per cent some signs of delays in development.

Some children even appeared not to have lost primitive baby reflexes, such as their arms and head extending when their head moves to the side.

The study, carried out by former primary headmaster Pete Griffin in conjunction with the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, found that of pupils in the bottom half of the group for physical maturity, 77 per cent were in the lowest two groups for academic ability.

Mr Griffin said: ‘The main issue is that children don’t have the same kind of physical challenge and upbringing they might have had 40 or 50 years ago.’ ‘Children are strapped into travel systems and are not physically picked up as much. ‘I don’t see family members throwing their babies up into the air as much. We do less of that.’

Babies also spend less time on the floor learning to roll and crawl, he said. ‘There’s less opportunity to climb, to roll, to jump.’ In these safety-conscious times, parents will stop their children walking along a wall in case they fall, he added.

The rise of screen-based entertainment was likely to be having a ‘dramatic effect’, both because it led to sedentary lifestyles and stunted concentration. ‘There’s less creativity involved in playing on the screen or watching TV,’ he said.

‘TV comes in very small bites so children are not used to concentrating for long periods, video games move from one stimulus to another very rapidly.’

This was likely to have an effect on children’s ability to concentrate in the classroom, he warned.

Mr Griffin added that the pressures of today’s exam-focused schooling meant that children with immature physical skills were less likely to catch up. ‘There is less of a place for a late developer in the education system,’ he said.

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Is it still worth going to university? Earning power of a degree in Britain falls 22% in a decade

The higher salary that graduates traditionally gain from having a university degree has been slashed by a fifth during the past decade.

A study has found that the rise in numbers attending university and increased competition for jobs has drastically driven down the earning power enjoyed by previous generations of graduates.

Researchers from Warwick University followed 17,000 students from 2006 to their graduation into one of the worst recessions in history, and compared it to graduates who finished their studies in 1999.

The recent graduates are, on average, earning 22 per cent less than those who started at university a decade earlier.

They are also struggling to find jobs that justify the debts they have built up in getting their degrees, with four in ten failing to get work that requires their qualifications, while one in ten have spent at least six months on the dole.

The researchers concluded that a degree continues to deliver a ‘significant earnings advantage’, although the size of it varies widely according to the subject studied.

Medicine and law graduates suffer the least, losing about 16 per cent and 9 per cent respectively, while arts graduates saw the sharpest slump in earning power, losing 32.9 per cent.

Students who began their studies in 2006 were the first to pay tuition fees of £3,000-a-year and emerged from university owing a record amount. Almost half reported debts of £20,000 or more. Despite this, the researchers found that 96 per cent of graduates would do a degree again if they had the chance.

They also concluded that a degree continues to deliver a ‘significant earnings advantage’, although the size of it varies widely according to the subject studied.

While medicine and dentistry graduates were earning on average £32,447, those who studied the creative arts and design were bringing in just £18,514.

While the average decline in earnings since 2003 was estimated at 21.9 per cent – about two per cent a year – the slump for arts graduates was 32.9 per cent.

For medicine and related subjects, it was 16 per cent. Law held up particularly well, with graduates in this subject seeing an earnings decline of just nine per cent.

With a further hike in tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000-a-year, the study concludes that the boom in the numbers going to university seen in recent decades is over. It claims the number of graduates will now plateau at 250,000 per year.

The ‘Futuretrack’ research, conducted by Warwick University with funding from the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, followed 17,000 students from the time they applied for courses in 2006 to their graduation into one of the worst recessions in history and experiences on the job market.

The researchers had previously carried out research among graduates who finished their studies in 1999. ‘Compared with the experiences of graduates some ten years earlier, Futuretrack graduates faced a tough labour market,’ the report said.

‘The greater number of graduates seeking employment, coupled with harsh economic conditions, have combined to create higher levels of graduate unemployment, a higher proportion of graduates in non-graduate employment and a lower rate of progression for graduates than was the situation ten years earlier.’

The Government has claimed that a degree can add more than £200,000 to a male graduate’s salary over a lifetime compared with those who decided against university. But the research found the claim ‘does not reflect the evidence revealed here’.

It said the ‘relative earnings advantage associated with a degree appears to have been declining slowly over the past decade, possibly by as much as two per cent per annum relative to average earnings in the economy’.

The report went on to warn that the decline in the earnings premium was not simply due to the recession, and was unlikely to bounce back up as the economy improves.

In further findings, students who got involved in teams, societies and clubs at university were more likely to have landed good jobs. The researchers found that employers are increasingly looking at extra-curricular activities when seeking to differentiate between a field brandishing mainly 2.1s.

Graduates with first-class degrees and those who attended high-ranking universities were also better off.

One of the most ‘disturbing’ findings, the researchers, said was that the pay gap between men and women was showing no sign of narrowing. Men earn about £2,000 more per year on average.

SOURCE

Green Madness: Britain’s Unilateral Carbon Targets May Cost £330 Billion By 2030

Britain will need to invest 330 billion pounds in its energy sector, excluding networks, by 2030 and return its economy to growth to meet carbon emissions reduction targets, the London School of Economics said in a report on Thursday.

Britain aims to cut carbon emissions by 34 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050, but does not have a binding target for 2030.

The investments are needed to build new power plants, retrofit existing ones with carbon-reduction technology and to limit energy demand.

“The key question will be how do we attract pension funds, which are one source of capital, and generally the financial sector, being banks and insurance companies, to join the market?” said Volker Beckers, chief executive of RWE npower, which commissioned the report.

He said only around 30-40 percent of the investment can be covered by balance sheets and project finance of British energy companies, leaving the lion’s share of money needed to other investors.

Experts have forecast Britain’s energy investments at 200 billion pounds until 2020.

A separate report showed on Wednesday that Britain’s power grid alone needs a yearly investment of 1.6 billion pounds to connect renewable energy.

If Britain wants to reach its long-term climate change targets, it also needs to return to stable economic growth and the eurozone debt crisis has to be resolved, the LSE said.

This scenario is one of three pathways the report outlines, setting out the most optimistic option for Britain’s energy system, but also the most expensive one.

“It involves a financial services sector in good health, that has not only recovered sufficiently to channel higher levels of inward investment and to attract international investment in the UK,” the LSE said in its report.

The school estimates that by 2030 around 67 gigawatts (GW) of power plants in Britain will be a mixture of gas plants fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology (10 GW), traditional fossil fuel plants (40.5 GW) and nuclear power stations (16.5 GW).

This will be paired with around 50 GW of renewable energy capacity, such as wind and solar farms.

The two alternative scenarios paint a more gloomy outlook for economic growth, with a gas-focused option predicting return to economic growth from the early 2020s and an austerity scenario forecasting anaemic growth until 2030.

Under neither of these circumstances would Britain meet its carbon reduction targets and investments coming forward would be tighter at 180 billion and 130 billion, respectively.

SOURCE

High Street left without Christmas lights for first time in 20 years after killjoy officials demand £4,000 for lamppost health and safety tests

Officials have banned Christmas lights from a busy High Street for the first time in 20 years unless traders fork out up to £4,000 to have lampposts tested for health and safety reasons.

Furious residents and local business owners have slammed a new rule which means the West Wickham Town Centre Association must pay for test certificates to ensure lampposts are strong enough to support Christmas lights.

The charge was introduced after the High Street was designated a red route, meaning it is managed by Transport for London (TfL) rather than Bromley Council. As one of London’s major roads, the High Street carries up to 30 per cent of city traffic.

Secretary of the association Jane Avis manages the family-run shop Waterways, in the High Street, which has been running for more 30 years. She said: ‘We’ve had Christmas lights for over 20 years. My mum used to do it and then I took it over. ‘It doesn’t make a massive difference to trade, it just gives a good community feeling.

‘West Wickham High Street has been a red route for four or five years and they never asked for anything. ‘But last year they said we need to comply with regulations which are different to Bromley Council’s. ‘We’re going to fight them all the way. We won’t let them dampen our Christmas spirits.’

Resident Charles Sebestyen, a 70-year-old retired property executive who has lived in the area for around 35 years, said: ‘It has killed the Christmas spirit in the West Wickham area. ‘TfL is being ridiculous. I simply do not understand how something that has worked for a long time is now suddenly unsafe.’

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘With money tight councils don’t have a fortune to spend on Christmas lights. ‘Bureaucrats shouldn’t be making it more expensive to decorate town centres with some Christmas cheer. ‘If traders and residents are willing to invest in their community’s festive celebrations then authorities should support that, not get in the way with needless red tape and bureaucracy.’

TfL director of roads Dana Skelley said: ‘Safety on our road network is the top priority and any additional attachments to a lighting column on our road network have to be fully considered to ensure their weight or size does not have the potential to put the public at risk.

‘That is why we have a clear licensing procedure in place to help ensure any applications for decorations can be assessed appropriately. ‘Hundreds of these licences are issued for festive decorations across London every year however we are meeting with local traders tomorrow to discuss the matter, with a look to finding a workable solution.’

Councillor for renewal and recreation Peter Morgan said: ‘The traders have worked extremely hard to gather funds together to decorate their High Street and we have supported them in this.

‘We are now pressing TfL, who are responsible for this road as a red route, to see if anything can be done to rectify this situation in time for Christmas.’

A Transport for London spokesman said £4,000 was the maximum charge for the tests, which would cover a £75 admin fee plus any additional charges required to restrict traffic along the road to install or remove the decorations. [Very generous of them!]

SOURCE

BBC bosses told Professor he couldn’t listen to newly discovered planet ‘in case aliens swore on live TV’

Control freaks

Professor Cox said BBC bosses told him he could not attempt to listen to a newly discovered planet

The quest to discover life on other planets knows no boundaries. Apart from BBC health and safety guidelines, that is.

Professor Brian Cox has told how corporation bosses blocked his plans to try to make contact with a newly discovered planet – just in case some aliens happened to answer back.

The physicist and TV host claimed they were worried the experiment, to be staged live on air during his hit BBC2 show Stargazing Live, might pick up a signal from ‘an alien civilisation’ – which is apparently a breach of corporation guidelines.

He had hoped to point a radio telescope at Threapleton Holmes B, the planet discovered by amateur stargazers during a project publicised on his show. The telescope, based at Manchester University’s Jodrell Bank Observatory, picks up radio emission from planets.

But the experiment never went ahead for fear it would breach health and safety regulations, Prof Cox claimed yesterday in a radio interview on BBC6 Music.

‘We decided that we’d point the Jodrell Bank telescope at the planet that had been discovered by these two viewers and listen because no one had ever pointed a radio telescope at it and you never know,’ he recalled.

‘The BBC actually said, “But you can’t do that because we need to go through the regulations and health and safety and everything in case we discover a signal from an alien civilisation”.

‘(I said), “You mean we would discover the first hint that there is other intelligent life in the universe beyond Earth, live on air, and you’re worried about the health and safety of it?” It was incredible. They did have guidelines. Compliance.’

BBC6’s breakfast show host Shaun Keaveny was incredulous at his guest’s claim. ‘The idea that intelligent life could be discovered and it might swear and that’s why we wouldn’t broadcast it – it’s such a brilliant BBC thing, isn’t it?’ he said.

Prof Cox also said he had a second bizarre encounter with BBC bosses during the show when he suggested asking volunteers to scour pictures of Mars for signs of geological activity that computer scrutiny might have missed. ‘Someone from the BBC said to me, “Would there have to be a prize if someone discovered it?”

‘(I said), “What do you mean? You’re going to say to someone, you discovered the first evidence for alien life beyond Earth – and here’s a book voucher as well? ‘“You think that’s going to make it better? You’re going to go down in history with a Nobel prize – book tokens or Nectar points?”’

A BBC spokesman said: ‘In making the series there were many light-hearted conversations, one of which was about how different organisations might react to the discovery of alien life.’

Stargazing Live, which explores astronomy and the night sky, saw record ratings this year, peaking at 3.8million. Threapleton Holmes B was discovered during the show in January by amateur scientists Chris Holmes and Lee Threapleton.

In what is believed to be only the third time British amateurs have found a new planet, they made their discovery by spotting changes in light patterns in an image from Nasa’s Kepler space telescope.

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Must not object to loud grunting on a sportsfield?

The boss of the UK’s biggest taxi firm apologised today for comparing a deaf footballer who ‘grunts’ during matches to female tennis players.

Millionaire Addison Lee chairman and leading Tory donor John Griffin appeared to crack the joke at the expense of Potters Bar’s deaf footballer Daniel Ailey.

The non-league striker was abused by Grays Athletic fans in a midweek match last month for the way he communicates with his team-mates.

Police were called when some of the fans started making loud grunting noises mocking the way he gets the attention of his fellow players.

The 69-year-old mini cab boss involved in the row by sending an e-mail from his Addison Lee account to his local paper comparing the noises made by Ailey to those of female tennis stars, such as Maria Sharapova.

His comments were made public sparking anger from charities, and today he issued an apology for causing any offence.

Source

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Surgeon ‘botched 1,000 breast operations’: Specialist suspended as police launch criminal investigation

It takes a long time for the NHS to notice anything

More than 1,000 women who were told they had breast cancer may have had botched or needless surgery, it emerged last night.

Surgeon Ian Paterson, who has been suspended from practising and faces a police investigation, is accused of operating on at least 450 women when they were perfectly healthy.

He also allegedly performed partial mastectomies on another 700 who did have cancer, using a technique which may have increased the likelihood of the disease returning.

Last night one lawyer said it was the largest clinical negligence case she had known in 16 years. Paterson, a breast cancer specialist, worked at NHS and private hospitals across the Midlands from 1994 until he was suspended last month.

About 100 of his patients have launched claims for compensation, saying the operations should never have been performed.

Grandmother Gail Boichat, 57, found out she had been misdiagnosed with breast cancer in February this year.

She had been treated by Paterson in 1995 when he was working at the Good Hope NHS hospital in Sutton Coldfield.

He performed an operation known as a cleavage-sparing mastectomy. This leaves some breast tissue behind for cosmetic reasons and is not sanctioned in Britain because of the risk of the cancer returning. He also prescribed the strong cancer drug tamoxifen, which she said brought on early menopause.

In February, after the General Medical Council began to investigate Paterson’s professional history, she was recalled to hospital and told there was no evidence she had ever had breast cancer. ‘I felt shock, horror, numbness. The words want to come out but you can’t say anything. You can’t speak,’ she said.

‘For a while I didn’t even tell anybody about this. It messes with your emotions. My life has been ruined. I have to look at the scar every day now, knowing that I didn’t need the operation.’

She said she wanted compensation and for Paterson to face criminal charges because ‘then I may get some closure. He punished me in some way and I think he should be punished’.

At least 100 of the female victims are being represented by legal firm Thompsons on a no-win, no-fee basis.

Kashmir Uppal, national head of clinical negligence at the firm, accused Paterson of being a ‘rogue surgeon’, adding that the allegations against him constituted the ‘largest scale’ clinical negligence case she had encountered in 16 years specialising in the field.

‘It’s the largest case that I’ve dealt with, with the number of women involved and the reasons he was doing this, which we just can’t establish,’ she said.

‘Clearly mistakes do happen in any clinical setting. Unfortunately, a midwife can misread a CTT trace, somebody will misread an X-ray, a GP won’t recognise signs of colorectal cancer… This is different.’

Paterson was suspended by the GMC last month and is scheduled to face a hearing on his fitness to practise next summer.

He was first investigated by Heart of England NHS Trust over the cleavage-sparing operations in 2004 but was not told to stop performing them until an internal investigation concluded in December 2007.

Seven hundred of the women he treated were then recalled to the hospital so they could have their conditions reviewed. It is unclear what motivation the surgeon may have had for allegedly performing the unnecessary surgeries.

Paterson, who is being represented by the Medical Defence Union, said: ‘I am co-operating fully with the GMC investigation and cannot comment on any of the issues raised because of my duty of patient confidentiality and the ongoing investigation.’

He worked at hospitals across the Midlands including the NHS’s Heartlands hospital, Solihull hospital, Sutton Coldfield’s Good Hope hospital and the private Spire Hospital Parkway and Spire Hospital Little Aston.

Paula Naylor, of Spire Parkway hospital, said: ‘We have referred this matter to the General Medical Council so they can investigate Mr Paterson’s fitness to practise but cannot speculate on the outcome.

‘Clearly we are looking at what we can learn from these events, but our priority right now is to hold consultations with those patients affected and to provide them with accurate information as quickly as possible.’

A GMC spokesman said: ‘Dr Ian Paterson’s registration is currently suspended, following an Interim Orders Panel meeting on 29 October 2012. ‘This means the doctor cannot work as we investigate concerns about his fitness to practise.’

Paterson is also accused of making false claims to health insurers, allegedly claiming for more expensive operations than he performed and for others that he had never carried out. Two of the patients claim Paterson submitted claims to insurance companies for operations which were more expensive than the ones he actually performed.

West Midlands Police last night confirmed a criminal investigation had begun. Detective Chief Inspector Matt Markham said: ‘A criminal inquiry has been launched and the force is working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to determine the course of the investigation.’

SOURCE

Consultant obstetrician at centre of major probe into treatment provided to 1,500 women

A former consultant who helped deliver the Prime Minister’s baby daughter is at the centre of a major probe into the care and treatment he provided to more than 1,500 women, it has emerged.

An investigation was launched into Royal Cornwall Hospital consultant obstetrician Kenneth Jones, known as Rob, following concerns raised by staff.

As a result, 1,574 gynaecological patients treated by the consultant over the last two-and-a-half years have been contacted by the hospital.

Lezli Boswell, chief executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT), said: ‘As a result of concerns raised by our staff about Mr Jones, we ordered an immediate internal investigation and at the same time limited his clinical practice.

‘RCHT then asked the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to carry out an independent review of Mr Jones’ clinical practice. That review has been done and the trust has implemented all of its recommendations.

‘In addition, the trust is reviewing the care and treatment offered to specific women seen by Mr Jones. I know that while we are undertaking this review of some of Mr Jones’ patients, other women may have concerns or questions about the care and treatment they too received from Mr Jones.

‘I am deeply sorry for any anxiety, pain or distress caused to our patients. I also want to acknowledge and thank all those staff and patients who spoke out about Mr Jones.

‘The trust is committed to finding out the full extent of the problems caused by this individual consultant’s clinical practice and will take all steps necessary to ensure we do the best by our patients who have received poor treatment or care.

Mrs Boswell said Mr Jones was no longer employed by the trust and had not worked at the hospital since May 2012.

SOURCE

Faddist British doctors

James LeFanu comments:

Dear Dr Le Fanu

My husband is 76, in good general health and until recently was on no medication whatsoever. He suffers a few aches and pains after many years of playing various sports, and some acid reflux, but is otherwise fit, active and healthy. He eats a varied diet with occasional treats and is not overweight: his waist measurement has increased by perhaps half an inch in the last thirty years.

We recently had occasion to change our GP, and my husband decided that he would like an ‘MoT’ just to check his general health. He was told that he had ‘borderline’ Type 2 Diabetes and was prescribed one Metformin tablet daily. He was advised that, being otherwise completely asymptomatic, his readings were purely a function of age. We read the diet advice and decided that no changes were necessary. Tests on his sight and his feet have not shown any cause for concern.

He saw the practice nurse for the results of a routine check-up yesterday and was told that everything was fine, and he has ‘the blood pressure of a twenty year old’. His blood sugar level is 5.1. However, the nurse said she thought he should be prescribed statins and asked him to see the doctor.

Neither of us are very happy about this – someone who is to all intents and purposes fit and healthy may shortly be on two types of permanent medication with the associated possible side effects. My concern is that the practice saw a gentleman in his mid-seventies on no medication and perhaps interpreted this as a challenge.

We would appreciate your comments.
Mrs J Charlesworth

Dear Mrs Charlesworth,

Thanks for being in touch. As you will have surmised your husband is a casualty of the current vogue for family doctors to boost their income by over diagnosing and over treating their patients for medical conditions they do not have.

The notion of borderline diabetes (like borderline hypertension) is a fictional construct promoted by the pharmaceutical industry to increase the number taking their pills. It is based on the false supposition that the benefits of treating those with symptomatic diabetes can be extrapolated to those who have no symptoms but in whom biochemical testing reveals their blood glucose is marginally raised above an arbitrarily defined ‘normal’ level.

Neither, and for similar reasons, does your husband require statins. This can I appreciate be a tricky situation, but I am sure it is best dealt with frankly: your husband should stop his Metformin and request his name be removed from the practice’s diabetes register.

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Immigration and the British elite

It is asserted that immigration is vital to the economy—indeed, The Economist magazine recently claimed that the Cameron government was foolishly restricting immigration that would benefit the economy. It is difficult to understand such claims when immigration is still running at an extremely high level, against the background of a situation where the UK has no immigration controls at all on the 500m or so citizens of the EU, and a lax policy on “family unification” for many millions of people in Africa and Asia. I think we can interpret The Economist’s ramping of its anti-British agenda as just another example of an élite group that sees itself as more enlightened than the British population by virtue of its support for cultural change, which is what The Economist would really like to see.

Take unskilled labour, for instance. We are drowning in it. There are many millions of unskilled people in this country living on social security. It may be that they don’t wish to take up employment, or that employers don’t wish to pay a living wage, or that employers don’t wish to take on the feckless long-term jobless—or, most probably, a combination of all these factors. But that does not mean that it is a sensible national policy to allow the millions on unemployment and “disability” benefits to remain out of work.

We don’t need any unskilled immigrants into the UK. I’m sure employers like the way that immigration helps to keep low-end wages down, but this is a case of privatising the gains of foolish policies like immigration and nationalising the costs: the benefits bill has to be paid for the millions who are maintained on social security, and immigration encourages crime and increases the expenditure associated with multiculturalism, costs that have to be borne by the public. From the point of view of a care home seeking people who will work for the minimum wage, the immigration of Filipinos may be a good idea. But from the point of view of the UK economy as a whole, it is not, and if the care home can’t entice people from the dole queues to work in care homes, they should raise the offered wage.

(The financing of long-term care is another, interesting topic: I do not support public provision, especially when the old person in receipt of care has expensive property assets, as this is purely done in order to prevent the sale of his property and allow his heirs to inherit the property, but this is another issue. In general, family members should meet the bill of their parents’ nursing care, or invite their parents into their homes and care for them themselves.)

Do we need mass immigration of graduates? I mean the sort of graduates with general university degrees that are not specifically geared to employment. We are also drowning in graduates, with around half of young people going to unversity and many graduates taking up work stacking shelves in supermarkets.

Consequently, there is no valid argument that such immigration should be welcomed either. There is a class of qualified workers, such as doctors and nurses, whose qualifications are more specific than a general university education, and where lacunae in the workforce may have be filled from abroad. If so, we should aim to find such workers in European economies, or from other states that are culturally similar to us.

However, once again, we need to ask why there are such lacunae in the workforce when so much money is spent on higher education. Maybe there are too many people studying for media studies degrees, and not enough people studying medicine. A correct educational policy would ensure that these workers with highly job-specific qualifications did not need to be hired from abroad either, and we should aim to rejig the higher education system in such a way as to eliminate the need for such immigrants within ten years.

This leaves us with only one category of employment that may genuinely need to be filled by immigrants: truly highly qualified staff of a kind that is hard to replicate or replace. I mean, for example, international footballers, or investment bankers, or CEOs of FTSE companies. This is a very high category of skilled personnel where the people cannot really be replaced by anyone else doing the same job. However, the numbers involved are tiny. You could require such immigrants to be given jobs earning £200,000 a year at a minimum (or, say, eight times the UK average wage on an ongoing basis). Our national policy should therefore be to prevent any immigration from people filling jobs earning less than £200,000 a year.

Although deceitful articles in The Economist claim that the UK needs immigrants, it only really needs the very final category of immigrants—and I would argue that even they should apply for five-yearly visas and should not be allowed to become naturalised citizens, being required to return home when their visas run out. This is, after all, the policy in countries like China.

Immigration has pushed up our benefits bill; added to the general population and required spending on schools and hospitals to cope with a growing population; added to crime and required greater spending on the police, the courts, prisons and insurance; added to business costs through anti-discrimination policies and their related tribunals; taken up our social housing and pushed up property prices for the native population; and created a cultural backdrop that is fractious and negative, where immigrants and their descendants constantly allege the British are maltreating them.

Isn’t it clear that immigration isn’t a policy designed to promote economic growth either? The House of Lords determined in a report (The Economic Impact of Immigration) that immigration did not promote economic growth (it had “little or no impact”—see page 24 of the report), and yet it is constantly asserted that this is the case, as the authorities try to pretend that a policy they favour for political and cultural reasons is really a necessity, for economic reasons.

It is rather disconcerting that the Establishment has the propaganda resources to assert these lies—if they wish to have these policies for political reasons, let them make their arguments in political terms—as most people are unsure of whether they are really true or not. I would close down The Economist magazine if I were in power, simply due to the rag’s constant mendacious propaganda in favour of an unfree, bureaucratically-dominated economy and society.

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Bus driver who was fired for being in British anti-immigration party wins human rights case

The sacking of a bus driver for being a member of the far-right BNP was a breach of his human rights, the European court of human rights has ruled.

The decision by judges in Strasbourg follows a long legal battle by Arthur Redfearn, 56, who was sacked in 2004 from his job in Bradford, West Yorkshire, driving mainly Asian adults and children with disabilities.

The court ruled the actions of Serco breached Article 11 – the freedom of assembly and association – because he was sacked only because of his membership of a political party. The seven judges reached their decision on a 4-3 majority.

The court said it was “struck by the fact that he had been summarily dismissed following complaints about problems which had never actually occurred, without any apparent consideration being given to the possibility of transferring him to a non-customer facing role”.

It added: “In fact, prior to his political affiliation becoming public knowledge, neither service users nor colleagues had complained about Mr Redfearn, who was considered a ‘first-class employee’.”

It said the right to freedom of association “must apply not only to people or associations whose views are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those whose views offend, shock or disturb”.

The judgment also criticised the fact Redfearn could not bring a case of unfair dismissal against Serco in 2004 because UK law said he had not worked long enough for the firm. The driver was forced to claim race discrimination because no unfair dismissal claim was allowed within the first year of employment.

The court said the UK had to “take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect employees, including those with less than one year’s service, from dismissal on grounds of political opinion or affiliation, either through the creation of a further exception to the one-year qualifying period under the 1996 Act or through a freestanding claim for unlawful discrimination on grounds of political opinion or affiliation”.

The court heard how Redfearn worked for Serco as a driver from December 2003 until his dismissal on June 30, 2004.

In its judgment, the court said there had been no problems with his work but other employees and trade union complained after his BNP membership was revealed in a local paper. He was summarily dismissed when he was elected as local councillor for the BNP.

In August 2004 he lodged a claim of race discrimination which was dismissed by an employment tribunal which found that any discrimination against him had been on health and safety grounds.

The tribunal found his continued employment could cause considerable anxiety among Serco’s passengers and their carers and there was a risk vehicles could come under attack from opponents of the BNP.

In July 2005 Mr Redfearn successfully appealed against this decision after an appeal tribunal heard no consideration had been given to any alternatives to dismissal.

But, in May 2006, the court of appeal allowed Serco’s appeal, finding that Mr Redfearn’s complaint was of discrimination on political and not racial grounds, which fell outside anti-discrimination laws. He was also refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords.

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British council bans war veterans from marching through village because they had not completed extraordinary list of ‘elf and safety demands

War veterans were banned from walking through a village to honour fallen comrades because they had not completed an extraordinary list of council ‘elf and safety demands.

For almost 80 years, a small group of former servicemen in Warton, North Warwickshire, has marched with pride along a road in their town to lay wreaths at a local war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

This year, however, the group’s seven remaining members were told they would have to use the pavement instead – because they had not provided an event plan, risk assessment forms, emergency contact details, marshals, event traffic management procedures, road closure applications, an evacuation plan and public liability insurance.

The staggering list of demands was eventually withdrawn after a campaign from outraged locals – but the British Legion veterans are still being made to fill in the ‘risk assessment’ forms before they can complete their five minute walk.

The men have now spoken of their ‘disgust’ at the way they have been treated. They added that they never had to complete ‘health and safety’ forms when they fought for their country and would have marched on the road regardless of the council’s decision.

In previous years, two local councillors have briefly stopped traffic so members of the Warton Royal British Legion could perform their traditional walk. This year, however, they were told it was unsafe to do so without applying for the road to be closed and marshalling the ‘event’ themselves.

‘With only seven active members, if we had acted as marshals there would be no-one left to march,’ said Terry Casey, a former Royal Air Force electrical mechanic who fixed Canberra bombers, Javelin Fighters and Lightnings.

‘It’s the first year we’ve had to do all this paper work. I didn’t deal with anything like that when I was in the RAF.’ Mr Casey, who is the branch secretary of the local British Legion, added: ‘I’m really angry and upset that this has happened. ‘It is a less than five minutes march from the school to the memorial. Then we hold the Act of Remembrance, then it’s a short march to the church – ten minutes at the most. ‘Normally we just notify the police that we are going to hold our parade and they say that’s fine, do you want us to come?’

Warton Royal British Legion membership secretary Alf Webber said: ‘We’re very pleased the council has finally seen sense. The parade in Warton has been going on since the war memorial was put up and when we thought we wouldn’t be able to do it, we were disgusted. ‘I wouldn’t have walked on the footpath, I’d have walked straight up the road regardless and placed my wreath on the memorial.’

A spokesman for the council said: ‘The Warton Parade will now go ahead this Sunday. We’ve spoken to the organiser and offered to help with his risk assessment. ‘Marshalling will be provided by the Parish Council.’

A spokesman for Warwickshire Police added: ‘We have the highest regard for the Royal British Legion and all those involved in the organisation of the annual events and throughout Warwickshire officers will be joining them on November 11 to pay our respects to those who have lost their lives in conflict.’

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British newsagent bans children from buying shooting magazines

The country’s biggest newsagent WH Smith has banned children from buying shooting magazines, even though it is legal for them to hold a shotgun licence.

It is a sport enjoyed by thousands of children, and one which gained Britain a gold medal at the Olympics.

But children have been banned from buying shooting hobby magazines by Britain’s biggest newsagent – even though it is entirely legal for them to own a gun.

WH Smith, Britain’s biggest chain of newsagents, has banned youngsters from buying copies of country sports magazines after a campaign by animal rights activists.

The retailer, whose founding family owned a highly prized shoot in Buckinghamshire, says it has introduced an age limit on such magazines as Shooting Times because children are not allowed to obtain a firearms certificate until they are 14.

However, sports enthusiasts point out that this is wrong. There is no minimum age for holding a shotgun licence in Britain, although children below 18 cannot buy or own a gun themselves and under-14s must be supervised by an adult.

They question why the high street chain does not restrict the sale of motoring magazines such as TopGear to those old enough to drive.

“It is extraordinary that in WH Smith you can buy a car magazine at any age, despite the age limit of 17 for driving,” said Christopher Graffius, of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

“You can also buy numerous war magazines which depict the killing of people, yet WH Smith is concerned about children buying shooting magazines, a legal and an Olympic sport. “They are also causing enormous offence to adult shooters who are stopped at auto-scan tills.”

Thousands of youngsters take part in the sport at shooting clubs across the country and with the Cadet corps and Scouts.

“At the recent party conferences, front-bench spokesmen and Government ministers sang the praises of shooting sports for the sense of responsibility and discipline that they encourage in the children who take them up,” Mr Graffius added. “Yet WH Smith is trying to keep the magazines that encourage that approach out of children’s hands.”

British shooting achieved prominence at the Olympic Games when Peter Wilson won gold in the double trap, having begun shooting when he was still at school.

There are no legal restrictions on magazine purchasing. Legally acceptable pornographic magazines can be sold to customers of any age. Newsagents display them on the top shelf only by convention, so that children cannot reach them, while WH Smith voluntarily imposes a ban on them being bought by under-18s.

Earlier this year, Animal Aid, Britain’s largest animal rights organisation, published a report which claimed that the “lurid, pro-violence content” of country sports magazines could have a “corrosive, long-lasting effect on impressionable young minds”.

The report, Gunning For Children: How the gun lobby recruits young blood, argued that titles promoting guns should be put on the top shelf alongside pornography and banned for sale to under-18s.

It claimed that the magazines showed pictures of young children holding up or standing over shot pheasants, rabbits, foxes and pigeons and “glorified” cruelty.

A WH Smith spokesman said: “As part of our commitment to operate our business responsibly, we have a till prompt on shooting titles. “It asks our store teams to check that the customer is 14 years old or over, based on this being the legal age at which someone can possess a firearms certificate.”

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British TV Channel admits it was wrong to censor the word ‘gay’ in an episode of The Simpsons aired at lunchtime

What did they think the alternative was? Homosexual, poofter, queer, faggot?

Channel 4 has admitted it made a mistake in editing the word ‘gay’ out of an episode of The Simpsons. The broadcaster’s compliance department removed a seconds-long section of the cartoon broadcast on Sunday afternoon.

But yesterday a spokesman for Channel 4 backtracked, admitting censors had acted ‘in error’ because ‘neither the word nor the context was unsuitable’.

The line was cut from a 1994 episode of The Simpsons, called Homer Loves Flanders, screened at 12.55pm on Sunday.

In the episode Homer goes to an American football match with neighbour Ned Flanders but at first is embarrassed to be seen with the religious man. The pair bond after Ned introduces Homer to the star quarterback.

As they drive away, they pass Homer’s workmates Lenny and Carl. Homer proudly yells out of the window: ‘I want everyone to know that this is Ned Flanders … my friend!’

In the original episode, Lenny turns to Carl and says: ‘What’d he say?’ Carl replies: ‘I dunno. Somethin’ about being gay.’

However in the version screened on Sunday, Carl’s line was edited out.

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The medical profession’s lethal arrogance over the Liverpool Care Pathway

Melanie Phillips

Step by grudging step – and led by this paper – official Britain has begun to wake up to the scandal of the Liverpool Care Pathway.

The LCP is intended to ease the final hours of patients who are close to death and to spare them the suffering associated with invasive treatment.

Numerous relatives have claimed, however, that their loved ones were put on the Pathway – which involves the withdrawal of food and fluids as well as medical treatment – without their consent.

Far worse, they claimed that some of these patients were not in fact dying when they were put on the Pathway, but were then starved and dehydrated to death as a result.

On Saturday, for example, the Mail told the story of 82-year-old Patricia Greenwood, who was put on the Liverpool Care Pathway by doctors in Blackpool, who removed all her feeding tubes and drips.

But then her family defied orders and gave her water, which sparked the beginning of a remarkable recovery. Now she is planning to go on a world cruise.

The controversy over the LCP was given fresh impetus in the summer when a group of doctors, led by neurologist Professor Patrick Pullicino from the University of Kent, claimed that death on the LCP was a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ and a form of backdoor euthanasia, being used to get rid of difficult patients and to free hospital beds.

As such claims mounted, the reaction by the medical establishment was to dismiss them out of hand.

In the past few days, however, the story has suddenly changed. The Association for Palliative Medicine, which had hitherto said there was no problem with the LCP, abruptly turned on a sixpence and said it was launching an inquiry into it.

The next day, the NHS announced it would lead its own investigation into the Pathway by talking to relatives and clinicians, and looking at complaints.

Someone somewhere seems finally to have realised that there is indeed a significant problem here.

Since I first wrote about this just over two weeks ago, the reaction to my article has been an education in itself. For I received two kinds of messages.

The first, from still-distraught relatives, was a steady stream of harrowing accounts of what happened when their loved ones were inappropriately, as they believed, put on to the Pathway.

Of course there are occasions when, through either their own distress or the complexity of the situation, relatives may fail to grasp that their mother or father is indeed close to death, and may therefore genuinely misunderstand that to continue to administer food or treatment in those circumstances would be inhumane.

But most of the accounts I received contained deeply alarming details which simply cannot be brushed aside.

One woman, for example, wrote that her father suffered a severe stroke caused by a blood clot in his brain. ‘All fluids were removed from him and we were told he was in the final phase of his life,’ she wrote.

‘All we were told was that there was no hope for him; it was a matter of time before he died. Eight days later, he opened his eyes and proved everyone wrong by pulling round. Two years on from this he is back at home, although in a wheelchair and with some loss of speech.’

Another woman’s 85-year-old mother was admitted to hospital with an infected gall bladder. The following day doctors told her, to her shock, that her mother was gravely ill and had no chance of survival.

The doctors, who included three consultants, told her that if she did not agree to the Pathway she would be adding to her mother’s distress and misery. She signed the form – only to be horrified subsequently to find her mother highly disorientated, agitated and distressed from lack of fluids and treatment.

‘I compelled the nursing staff to restore hydration and medications, or take full responsibility for the outcome if they failed to. I also took matters into my own hands by feeding her natural yogurt, soft foods and spooning water into her – something which was to continue until she was released three days later, having been restored to full health, cracking jokes and saying goodbye to those who were unfortunately left probably to suffer the same fate.

‘A year has since passed. My mother has a robust appetite and has never succumbed to the “impending doom” I was led to believe she could not escape.’

The stories continue in the same vein.

Another woman’s father was in a nursing home waiting for surgery to amputate his legs following complications from cancer.

The man’s daughter was called by a nurse who told her that her father was on the Pathway, and who then overrode her objections to that decision. Distraught, the daughter wrote to her father’s surgeon begging him to intervene to save her father’s life – which he did.

‘Dad had his amputation and has made a good recovery. I visited him today; he was sitting up asking for sweets. We talked about him coming to us for the Christmas hols. It really could have been a different story. He’s my dad, he is 83 and has a right to choose to live.’

A number of relatives who wrote to me believe their loved ones were killed by the withdrawal of food, fluids and treatment on the Pathway. Their anguish is acute.

‘Whilst trying to have a balanced view on the overall care of my father,’ wrote one woman, ‘the desperate fear and anguish on his face as staff talked about his imminent death in front of him will never be forgotten. I remain devastated that we could not help him. I feel that the LCP is unethical and in my father’s case was illegal.’

If it is hard to believe such systematic abuse could possibly be taking place in our hospitals and care homes, the second kind of message I received furnished all-too-chilling reinforcement.

These were from doctors, nurses and other NHS staff. They did not wish to examine any of the evidence. Facts seemed to be totally irrelevant.

They simply knew for a certainty that all the claims made by relatives – and by Professor Pullicino and his colleagues – were totally untrue, because apparently medical staff like them only ever have their patients’ best interests at heart.

Many were incandescent with rage that I had publicised concerns that patients who were not dying were being starved and dehydrated to death. Several accused me of deliberately sensationalising the issue in order to sell newspapers, and that to that cynical end I had set out to terrify dying patients and their relatives.

One doctor wrote: ‘You are a disgrace. Your attitude towards journalism is deliberately inflammatory, and you peddle misinformation and prejudice even though you should know better.

‘I sincerely hope that when you find yourself lying in an NHS hospital on your deathbed, that the LCP is used to ease your suffering as humanely as possible. Let us hope you aren’t judged for writing this stupid tirade by those who have the misfortune to look after you.’

Someone who described himself as an ‘NHS palliative care worker’ wrote: ‘I believe that a boost in your journalistic profile was behind the article, and the style in which the article was written was intentionally emotive and can have no real aim to discuss or analyse the use of this Pathway.’

Like parrots, these medical staff listed the virtues of the Pathway in treating the dying, and told me that what I had written could not possibly be true.

This was to miss the point by a mile. I had already written that, when someone was truly dying, withdrawing food or treatment was merely long-acknowledged good medical practice. And if that was all the LCP was doing, that was fine.

The concern, however, is that it is often being applied to patients who are not dying – but who then die as a result. To avoid any misunderstanding, I clarified this vital distinction still further in a subsequent piece on the Mail’s website.

But the angry medical staff simply refused to accept that the LCP was ever being used on patients who were not dying, and as a result was killing them. They dismissed all such claims as odious and with no substance at all.

Yet how could they know? The answer was as chilling as it was high-handed: only doctors could tell who was dying. One doctor wrote: ‘Neither you nor patients’ relatives are trained to recognise dying, and are thus not qualified to comment on the process.’

Another wrote: ‘I am trained in this area and work in this area every day caring for the dying and their families. You are a sensationalist journalist looking for a story to sell your newspapers.’

The arrogance of such doctors was truly monumental. Account after account by aghast relatives was swept aside without a second glance; such witnesses were dismissed as too emotional or too stupid to understand what apparently only the doctors could know.

The most vicious accusation these medics hurled my way was that articles such as mine would so terrify the dying and their relatives that they would view doctors as killers and refuse to accept their medical advice.

I entirely share the concern about the erosion of trust in doctors, and the baleful effects of such suspicion. But if trust has been eroded, it is because so many people believe that elderly patients are being starved and dehydrated to death.

A proper ethical response is surely to investigate such concerns, not use emotional blackmail to suppress them.

And it is no use medical professionals hiding behind the undoubted examples of good practice in care for the dying. The context for these growing claims of abuse is the well-documented and shocking neglect or ill-treatment of so many elderly people in NHS hospitals or care homes.

What my correspondence has illuminated is the compelling evidence of abuse of the LCP – and the all-too-revealing arrogance of the furious NHS staff who deny it all: confirmation of the disturbing attitudes about which the relatives gave such vivid testimony.

It is essential that this thick carapace of professional obfuscation is swept aside if the truth is ever to be established about the Liverpool Care Pathway.

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Angry mother attacks bungling doctors who told her daughter’s broken arm was only a bruise

An immediate X-ray would once have been automatic for this

An angry mother has hit out at doctors who failed to realise that here two-year old daughter had a broken arm and sent her home saying it was just a bruise.

Joanne Hollins-Cooper, 31, took two-year-old Jessica to the NHS walk-in centre in Stoke-on-Trent after her daughter had a nasty fall at home last month.

Doctors examined the arm and diagnosed it as just a bruise and advised her to give her daughter Calpol.

After three days of no improvement in Jessica’s arm the worried mum took her to A&E at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire for a second opinion. The young toddler underwent a series of x-rays which showed that she had shattered her arm in two places either side of her elbow.

Speaking on Sunday Joanne fumed: ‘Jessica was playing at home and running around, like every toddler does. ‘Before I knew it, she had tripped over and fallen down awkwardly. I tried to have a look but she was crying out in pain every time I touched it.

‘I was told nothing was broken and it was just badly bruised. ‘She advised us to have some rest for a couple of days and to give Jessica some Calpol for the pain. ‘At the time, I thought ‘they know better than me’ so I believed her when she said it wasn’t broken. ‘Obviously, Jessica was very grumpy but I just put it down to her arm being sore.

‘I just cried because I felt so guilty that she had been walking around with a broken arm for all that time. ‘I had done what I thought was best and trusted the professionals.’

Little Jessica had her arm in plaster for two weeks but at a further appointment, doctors found there was still a small fracture. She is due to go back for a further check-up in three weeks time.

Meanwhile, the family, from Weston Coyney, Staffs., have lodged a formal complaint with the walk-in centre after

Joanne revealed they still haven’t apologised for their error. She added: ‘They have not apologised to me but I have been told they are investigating.

‘I am very angry. ‘We are told to use walk-in centres rather than A&E to ease the pressure on the hospital – but look what happens when you do.’

Dr Russell Kelsey, regional medical director for Harmoni, who run the centre of behalf of the NHS, said: ‘As the largest provider of out-of-hours urgent care in the country, we pride ourselves on offering the highest levels of patient care and satisfaction.

‘Any patient concern with our service is treated very seriously. ‘We are in the process of investigating this complaint and as soon as those investigations are concluded, we will share our findings with the mother.’

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British drama teacher facing dismissal after she is convicted of hitting pupil, 13, with folder for talking in class

A drama teacher could be sacked after being convicted for smacking a 13-year-old boy in the head with a folder because he was talking in class. Vanessa Greening, 49, lost her temper with the child as he watched other pupils perform at a high school in Tipton, in the West Midlands.

A court heard Greening flipped and slammed the folder she was holding into the schoolboy’s head after hearing someone speak during the performance.

Greening from Bearwood, Birmingham, was sentenced to a six-month community order at Sandwell Magistrates Court on Friday last week after being found guilty of common assault.

The young victim, who was sat next to his teacher at Alexandra High School, had admitted speaking when he shouldn’t, but claimed when Greening lashed out with the binder he hadn’t said a word.

She was hauled before magistrates after parents of the pupil complained to teachers who then contacted the police.

Greening, who turned up to court clutching a folder, now faces the sack following a career in the classroom spanning 30 years.

Prosecuting, Kelly Crowe said: ‘Whilst they were watching the group do the piece of work, someone spoke, and the defendant who had a folder in her hand slammed it once to his head.’

The court heard the boy was shocked but uninjured and later told police ‘it didn’t hurt’.

JPs were also told Greening, who had pleaded not guilty, had been previously reprimanded for her conduct.

Defending Laura Culley said she didn’t accept that the incident happened ‘intentionally or otherwise.’

Following the case, headteacher Ian Binnie did not confirm whether Greening would lose her job or not.

Headteacher Ian Binnie said in a statement: ‘The school reported the allegations made to the police and worked closely with them during their investigation. ‘I am aware of the verdict but I am unable to comment further at the moment as the school’s disciplinary procedures are underway.’

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British teachers off school for “training” are caught at wedding: Head accused of lying in letter to parents

When father-of-two Kamal Hussain received a letter from school saying classes would be ending early for staff development, he duly arranged for his children to have the afternoon off.

But he became suspicious when he spotted three teachers in smart clothing driving past him when they were meant to be at school for the ‘inset’ (which stands for ‘in-service training’) afternoon.

Calling in at the deserted school, he was told by a cleaner that the head and teachers had gone to a colleague’s wedding. A furious Mr Hussain then drove to the wedding venue and confronted the head, who he says was sitting with 23 of her staff.

Mr Hussain yesterday lambasted head Gillian Pursey, for sending a ‘blatant lie’ in an official letter to parents. He said: ‘I was just so angry and furious. I teach my children not to lie – what sort of example does that set? ‘I’ve lost my trust and confidence in them and I’m going to look to move my children elsewhere.’

He called for an inquiry into the matter, saying pupils had lost hundreds of hours of teaching between them.

Mrs Pursey, 51, head of St Hilda’s Primary School, Oldham, sent a letter saying classes would end at 2pm on Tuesday, October 30, instead of 3.30pm, for ‘staff development’. Teachers are entitled up to five days at school without pupils present so they can carry out administrative tasks or training.

However, Mr Hussain, 35, who had recently been refused time off for his own children to attend a family wedding, found Mrs Pursey and up to 23 of her staff sitting down for a meal at a colleague’s wedding. When he confronted Mrs Pursey at her table, she claimed the teachers had been given time off to ‘do research’, adding she had the governors’ permission.

Mr Hussain added: ‘But to my understanding the governors don’t have the real authority to put in jeopardy the education of 500 pupils.’

Last night Mrs Pursey said: ‘Staff were given that hour and a half of staff development time to research things for the school’s golden jubilee celebrations. ‘They could do that research on or off site, and whenever they liked. Some decided to do it straight away, and others decided to do it after the wedding. ‘It was all agreed with the school governors and is all above board.’

An Oldham Council spokesman said: ‘This is an interim management issue for the school and no action will be taken.’

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Disruptive under-fives ‘blacklisted by British schools’ who are also judging parents by their jobs

If schools were allowed effective discipline options, they wouldn’t need to do this

HEAD teachers are screening out unwanted pupils by trawling nurseries for disruptive children and blacklisting them, it was claimed yesterday. They are also accused of judging parents on their jobs and trying to dissuade those in lowlier roles from making an application.

A primary head lifted the lid on ploys he claims some fellow schools are using to weed out poorly-behaved or low-achieving pupils. Nigel Utton said one headmistress checks nurseries for disruptive pupils and puts their names on Post-It notes in her office. She then tries to ensure they don’t get places by giving their parents ‘a bad view’ of the school.

He claimed a second head told a lorry driver that sending his son to the school would be similar to forcing him to work as a brain surgeon.

According to Mr Utton, head of Bromstone Primary, Broadstairs, Kent, the vast majority of schools, both primary and secondary, are using subtle techniques to engineer their intakes.

He called on Ofsted and the Government to crack down on the practices and reward schools which do well with a broad intake of pupils.

His remarks received support from Children’s Commissioner Maggie Atkinson, who is conducting an inquiry into ways that schools illegally ‘exclude’ pupils by asking them to leave without formally suspending or expelling them. She condemned schools which ‘pull up the drawbridge’ and ‘let children fail’.

Speaking at a seminar in central London staged by Westminster Education Forum, Mr Utton warned that pressure on schools to maintain test results was driving some to use dubious methods to keep out pupils considered disruptive or difficult.

‘This is what some of my colleagues do across the country,’ he said. ‘Basically they don’t let them in. And there are different ways of not letting them in.

‘One head teacher I know of puts Post-It notes on her wall. ‘She goes round the nurseries finding out which are the disruptive children and puts their names up on her wall, and those children don’t get into her school.’ This head’s school had been judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, he said.

The school must abide by national rules on fair admissions so the head tries to stop them applying in the first place.

Mr Utton, who said his own school took pupils with a range of needs and abilities, claimed that another common ruse was to ‘alienate’ parents at open days or show-rounds. ‘When a parent comes and looks round your school, you are rude to them so they don’t go to your school, they go to the school down the road.’

Some heads attempted to ‘signpost’ families to other local schools, claiming they would be more suitable for their children.

A further strategy was to ‘denigrate’ parents according to their jobs. ‘A parent was sent to me, a lorry driver. He was told by the head teacher of an outstanding school, “your child coming to our school would be an equivalent of asking you to be a brain surgeon”,’ he said. ‘This is a real example from this year. The kid came to my school.’

He added: ‘Once the children are in, if they are kids you don’t like, there are ways of getting rid of them.’

He also hit out at the trend for children with behavioural problems to be ‘drugged’ with Ritalin.

Rosi Jordon, deputy head of Chessbrook, a unit for expelled pupils in Hertfordshire, said schools felt under pressure to ‘get shot’ of some children ‘at all costs’ to boost their league table positions.

She told the seminar that schools were increasingly aware that pupils who fail to meet exam benchmarks can knock ‘half a per cent’ of the school’s overall score.

‘I know of one head teacher who will say, “Leave your personal problems at the school gate. When you are in here, you are doing your work, and I do not want to know anything of what happens personally with you”,’ she said. ‘”You can only be here if you are performing for us, and if you’re not – go”.’

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Lonely leftists vs fantasy fascists

Why, when the far right is falling apart, do leftists keep on scaremongering about these ‘bloody nasty people’? BOOK REVIEW of Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right by Daniel Trilling

In the conclusion to his book Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right, Daniel Trilling lists ‘10 myths about Britain’s far right’, and begins first and foremost with the ‘myth’ that ‘the threat has passed’. His attempt to puncture this myth is lame – the British National Party (BNP), he acknowledges, is now a ‘failed project’. It has been all but wiped out in elections and is riddled with internal divisions. All he can do is point to the English Defence League’s (EDL’s) declaration of support for the recently formed British Freedom Party (BFP) in April this year as evidence of a ‘new vehicle’ for the far right.

Unfortunately for Trilling, EDL leader Tommy Robinson has already quit the BFP and currently languishes in jail, accused of entering the US under a false identity. The EDL itself is now having problems mobilising more than a couple of hundred people for a demo and its central Facebook page, with its 79,000 ‘supporters’ that Trilling cites as evidence of its ascendancy, has shut down.

A reader of Trilling’s book may then be puzzled. Why is a left-wing journalist dedicating his time to writing a book subtitled ‘the rise of the far right’ at a time when the far right in Britain is in no way on the rise? The only way Trilling’s subtitle is accurate is if you see it as giving a historical account of the rise of the BNP following the collapse of the National Front. But Trilling is no historian. A far more interesting phenomenon to discuss at the moment would be the decline of far-right groups in the UK at present and their failure to gain significant purchase with the public.

But this is not the story Trilling wants to tell. It seems only too important to him that the spectre of the far right remains. Indeed, his use of the word ‘vehicle’ to describe the need for the emergence of the EDL after the collapse of the BNP is telling. Often in the book, he makes it sound like an evil fascist entity plagues Britain through the ages, continually changing form, looking for new host bodies through which to infect cultural and political life. ‘The EDL’, he says, in one revealing sentence, ‘is further evidence of how the far right has had to accommodate to the reality of modern Britain’. He writes repeatedly about how the EDL has strategic and tactical advantages over the BNP, as if its emergence was a manoeuvre by a great Lord of the Rings Sauron-like figure who has commanded the dark forces of Britain’s right-wing extremes since time immemorial.

From the outset of the book, however, Trilling fails to define his terms. He is nervous about using the term ‘fascism’ and opts instead for what he calls the more neutral catch-all term the ‘far right’. Where he does attempt to define fascism, he chooses a quote from US historian Robert Paxton, who said ‘fascism is a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline’.

According to this definition, then, the possibility of fascism lurks among any communities that are critical of liberal democracy. Wary of the idea of multiculturalism? Concerned about the intolerance of Tony Blair’s rallying call to ‘liberate Britain from the old class divisions, old structures, old prejudices, old ways of working and doing things that will not do in this world of change’? According to Trilling – who comes across as a great cheerleader for a New Labour-esque vision of multicultural Britain – to have such concerns is seemingly to be on the path towards fascism.

“Trilling’s tilting at ‘fascist’ windmills reeks of a certain desperation that is shared by many on the traditional left”

Despite noting that the EDL’s Tommy Robinson became disillusioned with the BNP because his black friends weren’t able to join, and that the EDL is a big supporter of Israel and had Asian spokespeople, Trilling is keen to highlight common threads between the two groups. He cites the findings of a survey of EDL sympathisers that reveals what he believes to be the tell-tale ‘familiar factors’ of far-right thinking. These sympathisers share ‘pessimism about the UK’s future, worries about immigration and joblessness… mixed by a proactive pride in Britain, British history and British values’.

The extent to which, during a double-dip recession, concerns about the future of the UK or joblessness might be perfectly legitimate isn’t explored. And any questioning of immigration policy is portrayed as sign of wrongheadedness. It seems that Trilling would have been right alongside Gordon Brown when, in the run-up to the 2010 UK General Election, he generated a furore by branding Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy a ‘bigoted woman’ for raising issues of immigration and joblessness. If we accept Trilling’s understanding of far-right thinking, Duffy must have been infected by fascism. Certainly he is keen to bash historian David Starkey for ‘willingly repeating’ on the BBC’s Newsnight the BNP’s ‘mainline of propaganda – that Britain was being undermined from within by racial mixing and an undeserving poor’.

For someone adept at making the most tenuous links to fascism, however, Trilling seems blind to the more authoritarian tendencies of left-wing activists and the state. He has no words of criticism for the erosion of free speech that comes with ‘no platform’ policies, or the censorious nature of campaigners who tried to prevent the BBC from airing an edition of its topical debate programme Question Time featuring BNP leader Nick Griffin in 2009 – despite the fact that Griffin was an elected member of the European Parliament (MEP).

In a bizarre, Orwellian moment, Trilling attempts to rewrite history to suggest that the EDL was prevented from protesting outside a mosque in Tower Hamlets last year due to the actions of Unite Against Fascism activists ‘blocking the road, joined by several thousand local residents’. More importantly, the UK Home Office had slapped a ban on the EDL marching in the borough, enforced by an almost-unprecedented mobilisation of police officers from across the country who significantly outnumbered the EDL’s marchers (see The Battle of Cable Street it wasn’t). No matter how you spin it, these ‘jubilant’ anti-fascist protesters were in reality cheering the actions of the state clamping down on the freedom to assemble – the only way they were responsible for preventing the EDL march was to the extent that they lobbied the state to ban the demonstration beforehand.

Trilling’s blinkered account of the triumph of the anti-fascist left over the far right, coupled with his continual refrain – against all the evidence – that the far right is still in the ascendancy, reveals far more about his own outlook than about reality. Trilling’s tilting at ‘fascist’ windmills reeks of a certain desperation that is shared by many on the traditional left. Devoid of any sense of what they are for, left-wing campaigners seek to gain a sense of purpose by saying what they are against: cuts, naturally, but more than anything, fascists.

After the resounding electoral defeats of the BNP, the emergence of the EDL was a wet dream for directionless lefties. Now the EDL is on the wane, all left-wing activists can cling to is the idea of the persistence of an amorphous blob of ‘bloody nasty people’, who will flock to the dark forces of fascism should the correct ‘vehicle’ appear. You would have to be a Bloody Naive Person to believe such baseless scaremongering.

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Police tell Morris Dancers to down sticks and hankies after complaints the traditional routine was ‘offensive’

A group of Morris Dancers were ordered to stop performing in the middle of a routine after police received a complaint that their dancing was ‘offensive’.

The 15-strong group of English folk dancers from the respected Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris troupe were told to ‘stop making a din’ during a performance outside The White Lion pub in Warlingham, Surrey.

The folk dancers were performing in spooky costumes for a free Halloween show outside the 15th century pub to an audience of around 30 customers, but were cut short after just six dances.

The group had planned at least 10 other dances, but were interrupted by two police officers who told them to ‘down’ their handkerchiefs and sticks and ‘move on’ as they were causing a noise nuisance.

Despite pleading with the officers to continue their routine – which includes songs like Thor’s Hammer, Maiden Castle and Half a Farthing Candle, they were told to leave in the ‘interest of community relations’ last Tuesday.

Morris dancer David Young, who has been dancing with the troupe for the past seven years, said he was disgusted that folk dancers were treated ‘like yobs’. The 69-year-old said: ‘We did six dances and then, at about 9pm, we went in to have a drink before going back out to perform again. ‘The next thing we know, two policemen arrived. They said, in the interest of “community relations”, we think you should stop dancing.’

He told the Croydon Advertiser newspaper: ‘You would think the police would have let us carry on. ‘It’s the first time we’ve encountered anything like it. ‘We felt treated like yobs. But we’ve got ex-oil executives, business owners and a school secretary in our group.

‘We just feel aggrieved that something that has such a long history in the country, at a time when it is hard to keep the old traditions alive, should not be allowed.’

The respected troupe, which perform in masks and flamboyant costumes, performed at the Tower of London’s Ceremony of the Keys – a 700-year-old tradition in which the tower is locked up for the night – in September this year to celebrate the group’s 21st anniversary.

Martin Saunders, 54, who was watching the dancing last Tuesday, said he was ‘appalled’ when they were ordered to stop. He said: ‘The police came along while the Morris dancers were on a break and told them to move on as they were upsetting neighbours with their offensive dance routine.

‘The police officers were a little shame-faced about it all, but really they should have just ignored it and let the dancing continue – it was only just after 9pm.’

One pub worker, who asked not to be named, said: ‘The police came because they got a complaint from a neighbour. ‘I think everyone was a bit surprised really. Morris dancers have been dancing around in the area for years.’

A Surrey Police spokesman said: ‘We received a report from a member of the public about noisy revellers outside the White Lion pub in Warlingham. ‘A neighbourhood police officer attended and spoke to a group.

‘The noise had already stopped and no formal allegations were made and the group left the area without incident.’

In August last year a group of Morris dancers from the Slubbing Billys troupe were booted out of the Swan and Three Cygnets pub in Durham after a barmaid said the bells on their shoes broke the bar’s music ban.

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British parish council scraps Christmas lights switch on over health and safety fears villagers may overcrowd the green

Parish councillors have pulled the plug on a Christmas lights switch on ceremony in a decision described as ‘health and safety gone berserk’. The event, which usually attracts several hundred people every year, was axed by councillors in Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire who feared the village green would become overcrowded. Instead, the lights will be quietly switched without fanfare.

Peter Badham, vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the decision was ‘health and safety gone berserk’. He said: ‘We’re talking about responsible adults bringing children to a community event and nothing more than that. I think it’s a perfect location.

‘In terms of space, we’ve looked at it and we think there’s more than enough room for everybody to come and have a great time. ‘There is nowhere else to go now. The parish council has really let the community down.’

In previous years, the ceremony has been held in a local supermarket car park with Santa’s grotto inside the community centre but this year the Bishop’s Cleeve Parish Council withdrew permission for the use of the centre because organisers failed to ‘sign in’ everyone who entered the building.

To resolve the issue, the chamber, which has organised the switch on for the last 11 years, suggested the event be held on the village green. But the parish council blocked those plans on health and safety grounds.

Chair of the parish council, Peter Lightfoot said: ‘The plans we voted against were using our little green area. The key reason for that is it’s quite a small area and normally we get hundreds to the light switch on.

‘I think the problem is that they approached us with about four weeks to go and essentially held a gun to our head and said “either you let us use the green or it won’t happen”.

‘We just can’t see how they could fit it on that particular piece of land. ‘We’re in favour of the lights. We’re just not in favour of holding it on the parish green.’

Concerns were also raised about event licences, the lack of stewards, the weight of the fairground roundabout, notices for road closures, adequate risk assessment and insurance to parish council property.

Mr Lightfoot said of the plans: ‘We are concerned as we have dry-stone walls, a fountain and a rockery and an adjacent main road. Our concern is that it is just totally unsafe and unsuitable.

Mr Badham said: ‘If the parish council doesn’t want to co-operate, then we will just turn the lights on without the event.

‘The council is supposed to be working with the community, not having all this in-fighting. ‘They have also given us nothing in terms of cash.

‘It’s truly a highlight of the year in the village – it’s a delightful event. ‘It’s all about the community, it’s all about the children and for those children who come, it’s absolutely wonderful and marks the start of Christmas.’

Health and safety guidelines for public events state that organisers need to have crowd management, planning for emergencies and event stewards.

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The One-Sided Equation Trick

Drinks industry correspondent Phil Mellows has written a very good piece explaining how the debate about alcohol has departed from proper cost/benefit analysis, and instead become a political numbers game. It’s worth reading in full, but this particular observation jumped out of the page.

One of the odd things that always struck me about the Sheffield modelling study, on which claims for the potential efficacy of minimum unit pricing is almost exclusively based, is the compulsive costing of everything, and it attracts particular attention from Makela.

To take the most staggering example, Makela points out you can’t calculate the cost to society of people with alcohol problems becoming unemployed because someone else comes off the dole and takes the job. There’s a heavy loss to the individual but no loss to society.

Yet in the Sheffield modelling no less than 75% of society’s gain from a 40p minimum price comes from a fictitious reduction in unemployment.

Perhaps minimum pricing will work. Perhaps there is an ethical case for it. But spurious cost savings aren’t going to convince me.

He’s right, of course. Public health is in the habit of grabbing any kind of dubious statistic to suit whichever cause they are advocating for at any one time, so it isn’t surprising to know that Sheffield Uni are engaging in the time-honoured practice of the one-sided equation. There’s more about their flawed ‘science’ here, and a little bit about their incompetence here.

“Spurious cost savings” is a very good description, especially since we’ve seen the same in reverse from the tobacco control lobby.

You see, while Sheffield are declaring that loss of earnings is a total disaster for the country, Policy Exchange in 2010 were pulling all manner of contortions to discount the same in their appalling “Cough Up” report. As I mentioned at the time.

Page 16 concludes that all these smokers giving up, while deletorious to the tobacco industry, will have an impact on the economy of £nil as the money will be spent elsewhere (the economic ‘free lunch’, benefits without corresponding cost). Conversely, however, the cost of cleaning up cigarette litter is valued at £342m with no reasonable assumption that the streets will still need to be swept anyway (unless there are dedicated fag butt sweepers paid £342m pa that I didn’t know about).

You see, both cannot possibly be correct at the same time. What we are seeing is the one-sided equation when it suits them, and a two-sided one when that is the better option for their pre-conceived conclusion. Either Sheffield bods are negligent in not acknowledging that unemployment will lead to societal opportunities elsewhere, or Policy Exchange were negligent in stating that opportunities will occur elsewhere (while also stating that they, err, wouldn’t).

Furthermore, Policy Exchange discounted profits made outside the UK – despite the fact that they are taxed here – and also ignored indirect costs (presumably because they didn’t fit the agenda) in some places but included them in others.

It all points to the one conclusion, though. Public health will twist statistics to their own advantage, including or not including whatever they believe will gull politicians in favour of their case.

They’re not interested in impartial analysis – never have been – just what statistical lies they can get away with.

If it were truly about health, they’d be honest, scrupulous and consistent in their methodology. The fact they aren’t, proves that it isn’t.

SOURCE

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Cancer expert brands Liverpool Care Pathway ‘the most corrupt practice in British medicine’

A senior cancer specialist today condemned the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway as a corrupt and scandalous system used to free hospital beds of the old and sick.

Professor Mark Glaser said the Pathway – in use across the NHS as a way to ease the suffering of the dying – is employed by Health Service managers to clear bed space and to achieve targets that bring more money to their hospitals.

The professor, who treated former Labour Cabinet minister Mo Mowlam during her last illness, said practices in British hospitals are ‘morally bad medicine’ and that he would personally ‘never be treated in a hospital in England’. ‘I would go to America because I don’t trust anybody,’ he said.

He added that he has removed ‘dozens’ of his own patients from the Liverpool Care Pathway.

The intervention by Professor Glaser, consultant oncologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, comes at a time of growing concern over the Liverpool Care Pathway.

A centrepiece of the NHS programme for ‘end-of-life care’, it involves removing life-saving treatment from patients considered to be dying. Commonly, patients are heavily sedated and tubes providing nutrition and fluid are removed. Typically a patient dies 29 hours after being put on the Pathway.

But families have complained that loved ones have been put on the Pathway when they were not dying and senior medical figures have said it is impossible to predict when a patient will die.

Leading doctors opposed to the Pathway have said it hastens death and that putting a patient on it is a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’.

Hospitals receive millions in bonus payments in return for hitting targets for numbers of patients put on the Liverpool Care Pathway.

At the weekend Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised to reassure patients by making it a legal requirement for doctors to inform families when a patient goes on the Pathway, and to obtain their consent. He is expected to announce changes to the rules today.

But Professor Glaser said it was not enough. The 67-year-old consultant, who is in charge of radiotherapy at Charing Cross Hospital, in West London, said: ‘I would like to see a whole inquiry set up to look at patients with incurable diseases, and how patients can be managed within a time limit from the beginning of their pathway to really good pain control and symptom control at the end of the pathway.

‘You can’t be just guided by admission rates and targets.’ He added: ‘There is nothing more intransigent and corrupt at the moment in medical practices as the hospice Liverpool Pathway movement. ‘It’s not really active or passive euthanasia, it’s negligence. But it is right that all the managers want the bed space and they will take down drips weeks earlier to get people out. That is a scandal.’

Describing the way he believes staff operate to put patients on the Pathway, he said: ‘The average example is some poor person whose family is absolutely miserable and a nurse comes in, or a very abrupt palliative care doctor, and says they’re going on the Liverpool Pathway.

‘And then you get the treating doctor, such as myself, rung up by the wife or the daughter in tears, saying, “Oh no, we didn’t want this, we were baffled, we didn’t want to do it, we were bullied”.’

He said he has protested on behalf of such families and has removed dozens of patients from the LCP and put them back on normal care. He added: ‘Symptom control is right but taking drips from people, actually putting them on the care pathway, is morally bad medicine.’

Another leading critic is Professor Patrick Pullicino, a consultant at hospitals in Kent, who has warned of hospitals using the Pathway to free beds and get rid of difficult patients. He has also expressed concern at the use of targets and financial incentives for hospitals.

An inquiry into the LCP was started last week by the Department of Health’s End of Life Care Programme, which has been funded with nearly £300million since it was launched in 2008, and which recommends use of the Pathway.

A number of medical associations involved in end-of-life care, including the Association of Palliative Medicine, which represents hospice and specialist hospital doctors, will also take part.

However critics have called for an independent inquiry because the organisations running the inquiry are the same bodies which have been promoting its use in the NHS.

SOURCE

Grandmother told doctors to remove ‘do not resuscitate’ order from her medical file… then died days later unaware a SECOND one had been issued

A care home manager who urged doctors to remove a ‘do not resuscitate’ order from her medical notes died days later unaware that a second one had been issued, a court heard today.

Grandmother-of-seven Janet Tracey, 63, fractured her neck in a car crash two weeks after she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

She was being treated in hospital when doctors issued a DNR notice, apparently without her consent. They cancelled the order when Mrs Tracey objected but she expressed fears to her family that staff ‘wanted to get rid of her’.

Three days later, a second DNR order was placed on her medical notes, with staff writing that it was in her ‘best interests’.

They claim they obtained Mrs Tracey’s and her daughters’ consent – something vehemently denied by the family.

She died two days later, on March 7 last year.

Now her husband David Tracey, a retired engineer, has launched a landmark case at the High Court against Cambridgeshire University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for going against his wife’s wishes and ‘acting unlawfully’.

Mrs Tracey – described as ‘a strong woman’ with a ‘thirst for life’ – responded to treatment and, while on a ventilator, wrote a note to an oncologist saying ‘I will do my damnedest’ to get better.

So her family were shocked when a nurse casually told them during a conversation at her bedside, ‘don’t worry about the DNR, it doesn’t affect the other treatment’.

When Mrs Tracey was told about the order, she was apparently ‘horrified’. In a statement read to the court, Mr Tracey, 65, said: ‘I found her in tears, so distressed. It was horrible. ‘She told me the doctor had told her about the DNR and the decision had been made.

‘I told her that neither I nor the girls would do that to her. We managed to reassure her we hadn’t agreed to this.’ He added: ‘At one particular point, she did say they were trying to get rid of her. I told her not to be so silly, which proved to be a mistake.’

The order, issued on February 27, was cancelled on March 2.

Her family claim she was then ‘badgered’ by staff when she was alone to make a decision about her resuscitation options.

On March 5, a second order was issued with the notes, ‘The patient does not want to discuss resuscitation’. It was claimed three of her four daughters had agreed to this.

When Mrs Tracey died two days later, Mrs Noeland found the note and raised it with staff.

She says she had specifically told the medic who issued the second DNR that they had refused consent during a meeting on March 5.

She told the court: ‘I told her I couldn’t agree with it because my mum didn’t agree with it. My mum wanted to live and her tolerance and hunger for life was very, very strong. My mum could do pain.’

Mr Tracey said in a statement to the court: ‘My girls told me they found a second DNR on mum’s notes and the notes said I had agreed. ‘I was disgusted and shocked. I would never have agreed to something against my wife’s wishes.’

In her final days, as her voice became weaker, she wrote a distressing series of notes to her daughters and her husband.

According to the family’s solicitors, she wrote in uncharacteristic capital letters, ‘She wouldn’t give me anything’ and ‘where has my pain relief gone’.

Merry Varney, the lawyer representing the family from law firm Leigh Day & Co, said: ‘This case underlines the importance of a transparent, accessible and consistent policy regarding a patient’s right to know when a decision not to resuscitate them is made.’

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies is hearing evidence to determine the facts before a full judicial review in February, which will seek to clarify whether there is a legal duty to inform patients with capacity when a DNR has been placed on their notes and whether they have the right to be consulted about it.

Mr Edward Faulks QC, representing the hospital trust, suggested yesterday that staff had fully explained the options, including that CPR could sometimes be ‘cruel and futile’. He said doctors had issued the DNRs after consultation with senior medical staff, Mrs Tracey and her family.

The case will reignite public debate over whether it should be patients, or doctors who have the final say over life and death.

A DNR order is a form placed in a patient’s medical file to tell doctors or medical staff to not try to restart their heart if it stops beating.

It is meant to be used to prevent the patient suffering unnecessarily, if resuscitation would most likely extend their life for only a short period of time or they are in great pain.

Efforts to restart the heart through CPR are traumatic and can cause broken ribs and damage to organs.

Doctors are supposed to discuss DNR orders with the patient and relatives first, but there are no national rules or guidelines regarding this.

A spokesman for Cambridge University Hospitals said: ‘Our staff followed best practice in the care of Mrs Tracey. We sympathise with the family on their loss. ‘We have to disagree with the family in their recollection of the facts. We believe our staff acted at all times professionally and in the best interest of Mrs Tracey.’ [By killing her!! Do these vicious British bureaucrats even know what they are saying?]

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UK government told anti-Islam film incites terrorism

There is a clear threat of violence below. I wonder how that comports with British hate-speech law?

Britain’s Counter-terrorism Command Unit and Specialist Internet Bureau have taken notice of a representation made by an influential Muslim organisation which is asking the government to ban the blasphemous film “Innocence of Muslims” for posing danger to UK’s national security.

The Jamaat-e-Ahle Sunnat UK, which claims to represent the majority of Muslims in Britain, has approached the home secretary and police forces around the country requesting that the movie be removed from YouTube on the grounds that it incites racial and religious hate crimes and openly encourages violence in the name of faith.

The group didn’t request that the film, which caused outrage among Muslims across the world, be banned for being offensive, nor that it will incite hatred against the Muslims but rather that it would encourage violence by Muslims to non-believers.

Raja Zahid Nawaz confirmed to The News that his organisation had been contacted by the security officials with assurance that the contents of the letter were being studied and all the activity around the film online and otherwise was being monitored.

Ghulam Rabanni, Secretary General of the organisation, told The News that the blasphemous film is not about the “freedom of speech”. “This film is aimed at inciting religious and racial hatred. It incites extremism and terrorism and will lead to the radicalisation of young Muslims in the UK. It encourages physical and violent attacks on non-Muslim communities around the world. It encourages child abuse. It will damage the fabric of a multi racial and multi faith society and it will lead to tensions and disturbances within the UK and in particular in inner city areas. We have asked the government to ban the film on YouTube.”

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Outrage at BBC scandal conceals the fact that British culture encourages paedophilia. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about

By James Rhodes

Yet another bloody article about Jimmy Savile. We read more and more about the horrors that went on and the now incontestable fact that others knew it was happening, and we get all shouty and indignant. It reveals the irksome, irritating side of Twitter, the tabloid press, self-published blogs and the loud, chatty guy in the pub. The moral high ground. The furious bleating and self-righteousness of the whiter-than-white populace.

The outcry will not do any good at all. How many times since “Never again” has it happened again? Using words like “molest” and “abuse” runs utterly counter to the horror of child rape. As do the prison sentences handed down upon conviction. You can serve longer in prison for saying “I’m going to kill you” (maximum sentence 10 years) than you can for having sex with your three-year-old daughter (maximum sentence seven years). Newspapers happily show pictures of 14-year-old girls sunbathing and use sexual language to describe them while at the same time appearing indignant and appalled at the crimes of Savile, Glitter et al.

The culture of celebrity has the same shroud of secrecy, power and authority as the Church. Why on earth should we be surprised at sexual abuse going on in those circles? The only thing that surprises me is that people actually seem surprised. In any environment where there is power, there will be an abuse of that power.

When I was at school I was sexually abused. Let me clarify: I was serially raped when I was a child, between the ages of five and 10. At least one other teacher knew it was happening and even after voicing their concerns to the relevant authorities within the school, nothing was done and the horrors continued. (Over two decades later, and only after a statement from both me and another teacher, did the police arrest and charge the rapist with 10 counts of buggery – at the time of arrest he was a part-time boxing coach for boys under 10.)

We read about things like this and we think “how awful” and then get on with eating our cornflakes, but no one really wants to look beneath the surface. The physical act of rape is just the beginning – each time it happened I seemed to leave a little bit of myself behind with him until it felt like there was pretty much nothing left of me that was real. And those bits do not seem to come back over time. What goes too often unreported and unexamined and unacknowledged is the legacy that is left with the victim.

Self-harm. Depression. Drug and alcohol abuse. Reparative surgery. OCD. Dissociation. Inability to maintain functional relationships. Marital breakdowns. Being forcefully institutionalised. Hallucinations (auditory and visual). Hypervigilance. PTSD. Sexual shame and confusion. Anorexia and other eating disorders. These are just a few of my symptoms (for want of a better word) of chronic sexual abuse. They have all been a part of my life in the very recent past and the abuse I went through was 30 years ago. I am not saying that these things are the inevitable result of my experience; I imagine that some people can go through similar experiences and emerge largely unscathed. What I am saying is that if living life is the equivalent of running a marathon, then sexual abuse in childhood has the net effect of removing one of your legs and adding a backpack of bricks on the starting line.

I don’t want to be writing about things like this. I don’t want to deal with the inevitable feelings of shame and exposure that will come from it. And I don’t want to deal with the accusations of using my back story to flog albums, being full of self-pity, attention-seeking or whatever other madness will no doubt end up in the comments below. But neither do I want to have to keep quiet, or even worse, feel as if I should keep quiet, when there is so much about our culture (which is in many ways so incredibly evolved) that allows, endorses, encourages and revels in the sexual abuse of children. Paedophilia has acquired a grim, vaguely titillating, car-crash fascination that the press have jumped all over.

We simply cannot on the one hand have sexualised images of children on billboards and magazines, underwear for six-year-olds with pictures of cherries on them, “school disco” themed nights at bars and community service sentences for downloading “indecent” images (indecent? Saying “shit” in church is indecent – this is abominable), and on the other hand regard the Savile story with abject horror. It just does not equate. This is not about censoring what the press can write (typical example from one tabloid: “She’s still only 15, but Chloë Moretz … The strawberry blonde stepped out with a male friend in a cute Fifties-style powder blue sleeveless collared shirt which she tied at her waist – revealing just a hint of her midriff”). or what pictures they can publish. It is about protecting minors who do not have a voice, who are not capable of understanding certain matters and who cannot protect themselves.

This has all been said before. And nothing has really changed. We forget (who would want to remember this stuff?), we think shouting loudly will absolve our collective guilt and change things for the better, we point fingers and form lynch mobs. We paint “paedo scum” on convicted (or suspected) paedophiles’ homes. And yet what we need to do is open our eyes fully and simply not tolerate this, rather like we’ve done and continue to do so effectively with homophobia and racism. We need to look at providing more visible therapy for both victims, perpetrators and those who have urges that threaten to make them perpetrators. We need to overhaul sentencing guidelines and start tackling the issues with more clarity and integrity. Whatever it takes for as long as it takes needs to be the guiding principle here, because otherwise we will, to use a well-worn but apposite phrase, simply continue the cycle of abuse.

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London Police ‘could be sued over plan to give top jobs to black people and women’

Britain’s biggest police force is to become the first public body to adopt a policy that gives priority for top jobs to black people and women.

The Metropolitan Police will recruit senior officers and promote civilian staff from minority groups in ‘tie-break’ situations where they are just as qualified as white or male candidates.

Scotland Yard’s diversity board has warned that the ‘positive action’ policy, made legal by equality laws last year, will be controversial.

The move could trigger lawsuits by job applicants who lose out and is likely to raise concerns that successful candidates were chosen to fill quotas rather than on merit. But a meeting chaired by Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe took the decision to use positive action after it was given Government advice.

Minutes of the policy forum meeting on July 11 state: ‘The Forum were supportive of using a legal provision that could potentially deliver a more diverse workforce.

‘It accepted the Diversity Board’s caution but were confident that Legal Services could guide on the few occasions this provision would be used.’

Recent figures show that although one in ten of the Met’s 32,000 officers come from ethnic minorities, there are just two black and Asian men in the highest rank.

In March this year the Met had 7,829 female officers – but only seven in the chief officer tier. Since then three high-profile women have retired.

As part of efforts to make its workforce more representative of London’s population, the Met considered if it should use the new equality law that allows positive action.

The legislation, introduced in April last year, lets employers recruit or promote candidates if they have a ‘protected characteristic’, such as race, that is under-represented.

But Scotland Yard’s Diversity Executive Board warned in an internal paper: ‘This is legislation, ambiguously written, with no case law existing to support legal advice. No public or private sector organisations contacted have plans to use it.’

But Ilana Swimer, an employment expert at law firm Halebury, said: ‘Even if the Met decide to support this provision, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on diversity.

‘Indeed, any employer who recruits a candidate having relied on this provision could open themselves up to challenge by other candidates who feel they have been treated unfairly.’

Charles Crichlow, president of the National Black Police Association, denied it would lead to tokenism.

‘You would be getting your job on merit because it’s only open to equally qualified candidates,’ he said.

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A police state created by “anti-fascists”

In their enthusiasm to clamp down on ‘hate speech’, anti-fascists have become an unofficial arm of the state

Given that the key thing about twentieth-century fascism was its extreme authoritarianism, you might reasonably expect those who describe themselves as ‘anti-fascist’ to be anti-authoritarian. You might imagine that these campaigners, more than most, would know the dangers of giving the state too much power and trusting it to determine who may speak and who may not, who is a ‘decent’ person and who is not.

But you would be wrong – certainly if the events in the north-east London district of Walthamstow this weekend were anything to go by. There, anti-fascists campaigning against a protest planned for Saturday by the right-wing, allegedly fascistic English Defence League (EDL) demonstrated that they are uncritically pro-state, and unabashedly pro-authoritarian, trusting the powers-that-be to police public protest and political discourse more broadly.

The modern anti-fascist left has provided plenty of justification for increased state control over political to and fro in modern Britain. It has strengthened the use of public-order laws over political freedom, and it has empowered the state to govern all forms of political speech. That control extends not just to the statements and actions of ‘fascist’ groups, but also to the statements and actions of left-wing groups and anti-fascists, too.

So for the next 30 days, any group – regardless of its grievance – is banned from marching in Walthamstow and the rest of the borough of Waltham Forest and in the nearby boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham and Islington. This blanket ban is directly down to the campaigning efforts of left-wing anti-fascist protesters, who have spent the past month taking to the streets to get people to join local Labour MP Stella Creasy in signing a petition to ban the EDL from entering Walthamstow. The successful campaign for a ban was celebrated by Creasy who, ironically, claimed it meant ‘our community can get back to its normal, peaceful and tolerant state’.

In truth, Walthamstow on Saturday resembled a police state. Hundreds of police officers monitored public transport, roads and thoroughfares, looking suspiciously at anyone who walked past. Random searches of people and cars were carried out, which led to three arrests of individuals, not because they were EDL members, but for things like drug possession and driving while disqualified. Many more officers waited in the wings as mobile surveillance-cameras checked the town for anyone who dared take to the streets to express their political views.

While the UK Home Office cannot ban ‘static demonstrations’, the Metropolitan Police used section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 to ban any EDL event from taking place in London, with the exception of a one-hour rally outside the Houses of Parliament. The anti-fascist protesters were permitted to have a demonstration in Walthamstow, however, and they duly decided to hold a ‘victory rally’ celebrating the fact that they had successfully kept the EDL from marching. Censorious Creasy was cheered by the anti-fascists when she took to the stage.

In what bizarre world is this a victory? In lobbying for the state to ban the EDL, anti-fascist protesters managed to have their own freedom to protest restricted as well. The fact that their own civil liberties would also be affected must have come as no surprise to many of these anti-fascist protesters, given that they were banned from marching in Tower Hamlets last year, too. Some socialist groups, however, did see it as ‘scandalous’ that they were banned from marching. They began chanting ‘Whose streets? Our streets!’, complaining that their human rights were being breached.

So it’s fine to ban the EDL from marching, but not the EDL’s left-wing opponents? Apparently, human rights should not extend to those with the Wrong Views – or perhaps anti-fascists think EDL members aren’t human. It was as if these naive protesters were complaining that the home secretary, Theresa May, couldn’t see who the good guys were.

Given the extent of collaboration between the anti-fascist left and the police, you can see why they might have been miffed. On Saturday, anti-fascist groups such as Hope Not Hate monitored the borough on behalf of the police to ensure no one that even looked like an EDL supporter was allowed into the borough. Searchlight magazine reported seeing ‘six to eight thuggish EDL types wandering around’, who were told they were not welcome. Others took to Twitter to encourage their followers to report to the police any EDL members seen entering the borough. As one anti-fascist Twitterer put it: ‘So glad the #EDL are denied access to #Walthamstow today. We are on EDL watch, [so if EDL members are] seen today anywhere in “Stow”, please let the police know.’

That anti-fascists now take it upon themselves to ensure the law is being enforced, shows the extent to which the left have become an unofficial arm of the state. They have become squealers, the state’s eyes and ears, cheering on the state to intervene.

Surely anyone with an anti-authoritarian bone in their body would be chilled by the state’s clampdown on free expression in huge swathes of London over the next month. These so-called ‘anti-fascists’ are so untroubled by it, they are holding ‘victory rallies’ instead. What’s anti-fascist about that?

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Scottish police swoop on landlord for organising an ‘ugliest woman’ competition (when it was actually meant for men anyway!)

Must not mention that women can be ugly??

A pub holding a competition to find the ‘Ugliest Woman’ got a visit from the police after someone reported them for sexism. An unknown complainant demanded the competition be cancelled and wanted the owners of Islay Inn prosecuted.

However, when police arrived at the Glasgow venue they gave manager George Hogg the go ahead after discovering it was, in fact, a competition for men dressed as women.

Mr Hogg told of his disbelief of the complaint and accused the protestor of being ‘over the top with political correctness.’

He said: ‘I have no idea who made the complaint and the police wouldn’t tell me – but if he or she had bothered to read the advert properly, they would have realised that it was not ugly women we were looking for – but ugly men dressed up as women.

‘The first we knew of a potential problem was when two female officers from Maryhill Police Station came into the bar on Thursday night.

‘They told me they had received a complaint about us holding a competition to find the ugliest woman in the bar and that it might constitute some kind of sexist offence.

‘But when I pointed out the facts, the policewomen were clearly amused and quickly told me the matter would go no further.’

The Islay Inn apologised for causing any offense adding: ‘Just so it’s clear to all, our ugly women will be men dressed as women, beard stubble and all.’

Andrew Parr wrote: ‘Ridiculous getting the police involved. Some people are pathetic.

Mark McCarrick added: ‘As if our overstretched police service haven’t got enough to do without being bothered by some silly complaint. ‘I bet the silly fart wouldn’t have moaned had it been an ugly man competition.

Although the competition has been allowed to take place, Strathclyde Police confirmed to the MailOnline that an inquiry into the complaint is still ongoing.

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Vigorous daily exercise could help to repair damage from heart failure

If you are a rat

Strenuous daily exercise could help to repair the heart of someone who has just suffered a heart attack, according to a new study.

Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University found that vigorous regular exercise led to dormant stem cells in the heart becoming active. This stimulated the development of new heart muscle.

The findings, published in the European Heart Journal, suggest that scientists could soon be able to improve the quality of life for people suffering from heart disease or heart failure.
British Heart Foundation

This is the first study of its kind to suggest that a basic exercise regime could have the same effect on the heart as injecting growth chemicals to stimulate stem cells to produce new tissue.

The team of scientists, funded by the British Heart Foundation, studied healthy male rats for up to four weeks by exercising them on an intensity-controlled treadmill for half an hour, four times a week.

The rats on a high-intensity programme showed the greatest increase in the size of their hearts, as expected, but also their aerobic capacity – how well the heart, lungs and blood vessels work.

The exercise resulted in more than 60 per cent of heart stem cells becoming active. In adults these stem cells are usually dormant.

After only two weeks the rats had increased the number of cardiomyocites, the ‘beating’ cells in heart tissue, by seven per cent.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate director of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘This study adds to the growing evidence that adult hearts may be able to make new muscle from dormant stem cells.

‘However, much more research is now needed to find out whether what’s been seen in this study can be translated into treatments for human patients.’

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The environment will improve, with or without the Greenies

A British view from Madsen Pirie

Despite all the scare stories, I’m optimistic that the next generation will live on a planet that is cleaner and greener, and probably nicer to look at.

Claims are made that our cities, rivers and coasts grow more polluted by the day. In fact some areas have improved considerably. The streets of late Victorian London were awash with horse manure, with children standing at street corners to clear a path in exchange for a small coin.

City air was more polluted when nearly all homes burned coal fires. The London smog of 1952 killed an estimated 12,000 people in a fortnight, with theatres closed because audiences could not see the stage. It prompted the Clean Air Act of 1956.

In the late 1970s most London buildings were black, including Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster and Whitehall. They were cleaned up only when the air became sufficiently soot-free to make it last. The Thames, once toxic to fish, now bears stocks of several species. Other rivers and coastlines are much cleaner than they have been.

Even air pollution from industrial activity is diminishing in Britain and most advanced economies. New technology makes this possible, and it is the poorer and up-and-coming countries that find it too expensive. China is building new coal-fired power stations at a rate of more than one a week, and plans to do so for at least a decade. It will make sense to develop the technology for cleaner burning so that it becomes affordable.

In fact one of the biggest aids to reducing pollution is the switch to natural gas-fired power stations, since it burns much cleaner. With maybe 100 or more years of gas reserves now extractable, the switch from coal to gas will have a major impact on pollution. The switch to electric vehicles charged from gas-fired power will dramatically cut the pollution caused by engines burning petrol or diesel.

The second Green Revolution in agriculture will increase yields from acres under cultivation and bring hitherto marginal land into use. This will give the rainforest more protection than all the pledges and treaties that have hitherto been resorted to.

In all of this it is technology, rather than behavioural change, that is making the difference and which will bring results. We do not have to live more simply, just more cleverly so that we can achieve our aims while leaving a smaller footprint. I have confidence in our ability to do this.

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NHS patients get ‘unacceptable’ care from nursing assistants

NHS patients are receiving an “unacceptable” level of care from a growing army of unqualified healthcare assistants who have taken over nursing roles on wards and in care homes, an independent commission warns.

Basic tasks which were once the job of trained nurses are being carried out by more than 50,000 low-paid and unregulated assistants due to budget cuts and growing demands on nurses’ time.

Putting vulnerable patients in the care of well-meaning but “unreliable” nursing assistants raises “serious concerns about public protection”, a commission led by Lord Willis of Knaresborough, the Liberal Democrat peer, says in a report published today.

Healthcare assistants are employed for simple tasks like keeping patients fed and hydrated or taking their temperature, but are not currently trained to spot warning signs such as dehydration or rapid changes in body heat.

Patients and families who do not understand the distinction between nurses and unqualified healthcare staff often seek and follow the advice of assistants without realising they have no expertise.

The report recommends training all healthcare assistants to at least NVQ level three – the non-academic equivalent of A-levels – to tackle the “widespread concern” about their growing presence on wards and care homes.

“The commission finds it unacceptable that staff whose competence is not regulated or monitored are caring for vulnerable citizens,” the report says.

“It is equally unacceptable that registered nurses must take responsibility for supervising colleagues on whose competency they cannot rely.”

The report was commissioned by the Royal College of Nursing, to examine the training system for nurses amid concerns about their competence and attitude following a string of “stories of appalling care and mismanagement”.

Figures released last month revealed that 43 hospital patients had starved to death and 11 died of thirst due to failures in the most basic levels of care on hospital wards, while 78 died from bedsores. Earlier this year one in three nurses claimed they did not have enough time to help elderly patients eat or go to the lavatory, due to inadequate staffing levels.

By September 2013 all nurses will be required to have degree-level training, which critics have claimed will result in a less compassionate level of care on wards and in homes.

The Willis Commission says there is “no evidence” of a decline in care, describing an all-graduate nursing profession as “not simply desirable but essential”.

But the report also raises concerns over the regulation of unqualified staff after NHS managers claimed the new demands on nurses will force them to rely more heavily on unqualified healthcare assistants for basic care.

Previous studies have found a direct link between a lower proportion of registered nurses and a worse quality of care, and concerns are such that the Royal College of Nursing has led calls for systematic training and regulation of support workers.

In 2011 the NHS in England employed more than 53,000 “Healthcare Assistants”, accounting for about four per cent of its workforce, and numbers are increasing by six per cent each year.

But the report added that their role is “very varied, sometimes poorly defined and lack[s] consistency across employers”, and that the use of alternative titles such as “nursing assistants” or “nursing auxiliaries” means the real total could be higher.

Lord Willis told the Telegraph: “The registered nurses now are doing more highly specialised tasks and it is not good enough to say someone else can do those basic nursing tasks, they are not just add-ons.

“You really have to have people who do not just put food in front of someone, but understand the significance that a patient takes food and hydration. It is not good enough to simply know how to do something, you have to know why you are doing it.”

He added that many patients and their families find it hard to distinguish between registered nurses and other ward staff, which “often leads to them making assumptions” based on discussions with unqualified workers.

The report also calls for measures to improve the quality of placements carried out by nursing students, and for newly qualified nurses to be given additional support and mentoring during their first year in practice.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Improvements will need to be made to the profession in the future, notably in the regulation of Healthcare Assistants and the need to make all student placements match the very best.

“However the evidence in this report makes it very clear – the way to do this is to continue with nursing as an all-graduate profession. There is no truth in the suggestion that because nurses receive training from universities as well as on the ward they become less caring.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Public confidence is really important, however in the case of healthcare assistants, there is no evidence that compulsory regulation would lead to higher standards.

“They are supervised by professionally qualified staff, and often by experienced nurses. Regulation does not, in itself, change culture and is no substitute for proper performance management, good leadership and day to day high quality patient care.”

A code of conduct and minimum training standards for healthcare support workers will be drawn up by January, he added.

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Dial 111 for A&E shambles: Flagship new NHS phoneline actually INCREASES ambulance call-outs…

A new non-emergency telephone number to relieve pressure on 999 has increased the number of ambulance call-outs and failed to reduce the number of people attending A&E departments, according to an official report.

The planned national roll-out of NHS 111 for non-urgent calls has been one of the flagship health policies of the Coalition Government.

It believes the move will shave millions off the health budget by phasing out the costly £123 million-a-year NHS Direct.

The Coalition also hopes the new 24-hour freephone number will save money by directing patients to GPs or urgent care services rather than clogging up casualty units.

But the official independent report commissioned by the Department of Health a year after the first pilot schemes were introduced has found they have not delivered as hoped.

The report also says that NHS 111 could actually increase costs for the taxpayer as, in the pilot schemes, it directed more patients to use emergency and urgent care services.

In the four pilot sites alone, it is estimated the helpline costs the NHS £307,000 a month.

If rolled out nationally – as planned by Ministers for 2013 – it could save taxpayers £2.5 million on the health budget. But – in a worst case scenario – it could cost as much as an extra £7 million, the study said.

The report, by academics from the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research, said: ‘An expected benefit [of NHS 111] is that efficiency in the urgent and emergency health care system will be improved by directing people to the right level of care.

‘For example, directing people with urgent problems away from emergency services to urgent care services that are more appropriate to clinical needs. ‘There is a limit to what paramedics can do’

‘Otherwise, the expectations that NHS 111 would shift use from emergency to urgent care when appropriate appears not to have been achieved in the first year of operation.’

The study looked at the number of calls to ambulances and attendances at A&E at four pilot sites in Darlington and Durham, Nottingham, Luton and Lincolnshire before and after the introduction of NHS 111.

In three of the four sites, there were up to ten per cent more calls to the ambulance service and more ambulance attendances after NHS 111 was brought in. Janette Turner, who led the research, said: ‘The significant findings of the report were that calls to NHS Direct were going down. ‘But what we didn’t expect was that the number of 999 ambulance journeys was increasing.

‘We don’t know why that is but I’ve recommended it’s looked at in more detail.’

The British Medical Association has previously warned that NHS 111 could put further pressure on health services and said it is still concerned that the helpline is being rushed through to the detriment of patients.

A BMA spokesman said: ‘We need to be certain that patient safety is not put at risk before NHS 111 is implemented.

‘From the conclusions of the report it seems there is still more work to do before NHS 111 is fit for purpose.’

NHS Direct, which currently offers an alternative to 999, was launched in 1998 and costs £123 million a year to run.

Around half of the staff are trained nurses who give health advice to callers who do not believe they need an ambulance.

But the new 111 number employs ‘call advisers’ who have completed a brief training course – leading to accusations that they could fail to identify life-threatening conditions.

There are now 13 pilot sites around the country and the most recent figures released on Friday show there were 92,578 calls to the new service during September.

But the national roll-out, scheduled to take place before April 2013, has been delayed in some areas because doctors warned it was happening too fast.

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘As NHS 111 becomes more established, we expect patients to use it more for their urgent medical needs instead of emergency services. ‘Clinically trained staff are always on hand to assess a patient’s needs and make sure they get the right care.

‘NHS 111 will only call an ambulance for a patient when it is clinically needed, but where this is the case, then the local NHS must ensure patients have access to an ambulance.’

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“Liberation” can be lonely

Marriage undoubtedly requires compromises but some compromises can be worth it

This week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed that more of us than ever are living alone. This won’t trouble the author Colm Tóibín, who once eulogised the freedom that living alone gives him, likening his solitary existence to that of “a cloistered nun”.

A terrifying image, surely, and not a metaphor for a life most of us would seek to inhabit. Certainly not my friend Helen: successful, well-off, homeowner; but tired of her single life, of the near-constant awareness that she’s running out of time to have children, as fast as she’s running out of the energy to embark on another round of futile first dates. Nor my friend Mark, divorced dad, active in his daughter’s life – but who still, at the end of the weekend, returns the child to her mother, before driving back to his re-emptied house, where he passes the evenings with PlayStation and Sky Sports.

In discussing solitary lives, we should ignore the Colm Tóibíns – financially independent people who realise that, for them, to live alone brings more advantages than otherwise. Most people of my generation had such a stage in their lives – between university, and settling down – but we didn’t want it to last forever. In any case, with property prices as they are, such self-selected solitary living is not an option for much of the succeeding generation.

Set aside, too, those figures pertaining to the very elderly; not because there aren’t real problems faced by those (usually female) “survivors”, but because their existence is a function of the uneven impact of medical advances and lifestyle changes on the longevity of each of the genders.

It’s not the relatively young, or the very old, who are the main drivers of this demographic change. As the ONS makes clear, the largest increase in solitary living is down to the 45-64 age group. Almost two and a half million Britons in that age category have no one with whom to share their home, an increase of more than 800,000 households since the mid-Nineties. Even allowing for the increase in total population size, that’s still a noticeable change, and they don’t all enjoy the experience. I suspect there are more divorced parents, like my friend Mark, poking about their fridges for an M&S meal for one, than there are cloistered Irish novelists.

Which would be fine, were this phenomenon merely to affect matters as concrete as housing. But evidence suggests a link between solitariness and poorer health outcomes (mirroring, bleakly, the evidence about the outcomes for children raised in single-parent households). One paper I read showed a significant increase in the prescription of antidepressants to the solitary, compared with cohabiting couples. Correlation doesn’t prove a sociological theory, of course, but it’s hard to ignore the link between living alone, and other deleterious life choices.

Which demands a political response: marriage is the most important institution to act as a bulwark against loneliness, and the Government should promote it. Iain Duncan Smith is unwinding the insidious “couples penalty”, the financial cost to setting up a home with your partner, and the other probable cause, after divorce, for the change in living habits. His Centre for Social Justice discovered that the people most penalised for living together are – surprise – among the poorest. This must be fixed (and couples who “live apart together” shouldn’t be demonised for rationally navigating the snares of the benefits system).

But if it’s understandable that a financial penalty can cause the poorest to avoid marriage, why assume that monetary considerations don’t affect the better-off? First, because politicians are scared to reward marriage in the tax system, and second, because our divorce laws so scar those who endure them that, I suspect, we’ve produced a generation with the motto “once bitten, twice shy”. The changes to child benefit for the well-off hardly help: a middle-class “couples penalty”.

Michael Howard deployed a powerful phrase in defence of his criminal justice policy: prison works. It’s time we used a similar phrase, in defence of social justice: marriage “works” too. It works for most people and definitely for civic society, yet we find it hard to say this, and shy away from its political implications. What started as a desire not to judge “lifestyle choices” has bred a generation living in lonely, quiet despair. Loneliness is a much harder political issue to tackle than, say, house-building, but – if we believe in “society” at all – hardly one of lesser significance.

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More petty nastiness from bureaucratized Britain

A grandmother of four has been threatened with jail for sweeping the leaves outside her home. Barbara Ray, 82, was accused of ‘causing a hazard’ by brushing the fallen leaves into a ‘large heap’ for roadsweepers to collect.

She was warned her simple attempts to keep the neighbourhood tidy could leave her facing prosecution for fly-tipping, punishable by a £50,000 fine and a 12-month jail term.

When Mrs Ray queried the letter, she was astonished to discover council contractors had photographed her gardener, who visits once a fortnight, sweeping the leaves into the street.

And the council even defended its stance by claiming that her behaviour was ‘unacceptable’.

Mrs Ray, who worked as the financial director of a printing business she ran with her late husband, branded the council officials ‘petty bureaucrats’ as she told of her anger over the letter’s threatening tone. She said: ‘It’s bureaucracy gone mad. I’m not a person who wants to make a fuss but it was a shock to read that letter.

‘When I challenged the district council officer and asked him how he knew I’d cleared the leaves into the road from the front of my house, he said they had photos to prove it.

‘I like to keep my house neat and tidy. The council told me to use my green bin – but that is soon full of garden waste because they only empty it once a fortnight. I’m just annoyed that the council can treat me like this.’

The mother of two first moved to her part of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, in the 1950s with her husband Tony, who died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 71.

Following his death she moved round the corner to her three-bedroom bungalow, which is in a road lined with lime trees.

In a letter sent last week, an official from the district council warned Mrs Ray: ‘You were seen removing leaves from your front garden and depositing them in the road channel in front of your property.

‘Abandoning material in this manner constitutes fly-tipping under section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which is punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 and/or 12 months’ imprisonment.’

A spokesman for the authority told the Daily Mail yesterday that during the autumn, road sweepers are sent once a week to 100 of the worst roads for leaf fall in the district – one of which is Mrs Ray’s.

But she claims the sweepers do not come ‘for weeks’ at a time, so she frequently has to sweep up the leaves from her garden, driveway and the footpath.

Mrs Ray said: ‘I’ve lived through the war and have been in this town all my life. I pay my council tax and should receive this service. I’ve got better things to worry about at my age than this.’

Her family have also played a significant role in the town. Her husband acted as mace bearer for the mayor, while his brother, Malcolm, and father, Ernest, were both mayors in their time.

Mrs Ray said the council has now dropped its threat to prosecute after she promised to stop the sweeping. She turned down the authority’s offer to supply her with a second green bin – for a £35 charge. She will now put the leaves into refuse sacks, which a friend will drive to the council waste disposal centre.

A council spokesman said the ‘very large heap’ of leaves from Mrs Ray’s lawn which had been left in the ‘road channel’ were a ‘hazard’, which caused cars to move further into the road.

He added: ‘Moving the leaves in this manner is unacceptable and can cause additional problems with blocking of drains. The District Council would like to apologise if the letter sent to Mrs Ray caused any concern.’ He added that the letter had been addressed to ‘The Household’, not Mrs Ray herself.

Her local MP, Conservative Nadhim Zahawi said he was ‘disappointed’ about the council’s action. He said: ‘As Mrs Ray’s Member of Parliament it’s my job to represent people like her, particularly in dealing with local bureaucracy and issues with the Council and as such it’s a shame I wasn’t able to get involved in this case.

‘I’m particularly disappointed that the Council’s Officers seem to have chosen such a confrontational approach from the outset rather than perhaps asking her local Councillor to intervene or simply sending a less threatening warning letter.’

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Japanese teaching methods heading to the UK as British pupils look to play catch up

Japanese children can perform mathematical calculations far in advance of their British counterparts just by mastering the abacus, new research has found.

School children as young as five are able to add up five numbers, each running into billions or trillions, in just half a minute – and some Japanese teenagers can add so quickly that scientists are at a loss to explain their skill.

Now British experts, including former Countdown star Carol Vorderman, are saying schools in this country could develop similar techniques to boost Britain’s ‘disgacefully’ low levels of numeracy.

In Japan, use of the abacus – parallel rods each strung with five beads – is taught to all six years olds, and it is widely used in China and other countries in the East which regularly head world numeracy league tables.

Millions of Japanese children also attend the country’s 20,000 after-school clubs, where they learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide much faster than they could with traditional pen and paper – and advanced users can compete with calculators.

The head of the Academy, Chie Takayanagi, said that whereas people could resort to calculators nowadays, using an abacus sharpened their concentration and memory.

In Japan, the best abacus users can enter competitions and some children do not even need to finger their beads as they can picture the abacus in their heads to make mental calculations.

Japanese teachers said that children in the West often found numbers hard to grasp because they were presented in too abstract a way, while the abacus provided a concrete picture of them.

One said the Japanese method of counting also helped because when children came to words such as eleven, twelve and thirteen they said ‘ten one’, ‘ten two’ and ‘ten three’, which was far more meaningful.

They also learned their times tables like nursery rhymes, and sang them to tunes they remembered into their adult lives.

Ms Vorderman, who was known on the Channel 4 Countdown show for her fast calculations and who has written numerous books on maths, said numeracy in Britain was ‘disgraceful’ partly because schools under-emphasised the visual elements of teaching maths.

She said scientific tests carried out in China using a brain scanner showed those who had been schooled in the West just used the computational side of their brains while those from the East used the visual parts as well,
She said she had learned maths using cuisenaire rods, a Western version of the abacus. ‘That’s how I learnt very very quickly,’ she said.

‘From the age of three I was doing what a lot of six year olds were doing. But everything was simple because it was visual. ‘Schools are trying to do it with words now, and giving word problems to very young children is completely pointless. ‘I don’t use an abacus but I wish I did. All aspects of the visual should be encouraged, and the abacus is one.’

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Two portions of oily fish a week is associated with a slight reduction in risk of stroke

Just more “correlation is causation” speculation and the effect is vanishingly small anyway. Wholly ignorable

Scientists have found that eating two helpings of oily fish – such as salmon, trout or mackerel – every week could moderately reduce risk of a stroke.

However, fish oil supplements do not have the same beneficial effect as oily fish such as kippers, sardines, fresh tuna or whitebait, the study found.

An international team of researchers, including Cambridge-based academic Dr Rajiv Chowdhury, examined the association between oily fish, which are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, and the risk of strokes or mini-strokes.

They looked at 38 studies involving almost 800,000 people across 15 countries, and examined participants’ fish and long chain omega 3 fatty acid consumption. During the studies, a total of 34,817 strokes and mini strokes were recorded.

After adjusting for several risk factors, participants eating two to four servings a week had a 6 per cent lower risk of stroke compared with those who consumed one portion or less every week, the study found.

Fish oil supplements were not significantly associated with a similar reduced risk, according to the paper published on bmj.com.

Eating oily fish has already been linked to other health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease.

‘From past research we know that eating plenty of fish is good for our general health,’ said Dr Peter Coleman, deputy director of research at the Stroke Association.

‘This research shows that it could also help to protect us against stroke. However, it’s interesting to see that taking fish oil supplements doesn’t have the same beneficial effect.

‘People who eat lots of fish may have healthier diets in general which could go some way to explain the results. However, a lot more research is needed in this area before we decide to eat fish every day of the week.

‘You can reduce your risk of stroke by exercising regularly, consuming a healthy, balanced diet and getting your blood pressure checked.’

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Everyday drugs ‘can help fight dementia’ as developing new medicines is too costly and slow

A remarkable bit of optimism. Good if it turns out, I guess, It’s a poor substitute for accelerating the approval process, though

Everyday medicines could be used in the battle against dementia as developing new drugs is too costly and slow.

Experts believe antibiotics, acne pills and other routine treatments already in bathroom cabinets could double as dementia drugs. They said it is time to re-examine medicines already in circulation as cheaper, quicker alternatives to new treatments.

Many have multiple effects on the body, so some could be able to ease the effects of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia which affect 800,000 people in Britain.

There are only four Alzheimer’s drugs in use which can help relieve symptoms but do nothing to stop damage to the brain.

Professor Clive Ballard said: ‘Defeating dementia is one of the biggest challenges facing both medicine and society as a whole.

‘Developing new drugs is incredibly important but it comes with a huge price tag and, for those affected by dementia, an unimaginable wait.’

Everyday drugs will have passed multiple tiers of expensive safety tests and so could be prescribed for dementia in five to ten years.

It can take up to 20 years and £600million to create a drug from scratch. Hopes of quickly adding to available treatments were recently dashed when several promising new ones failed the final stage of testing.

So Mr Ballard, professor of age-related diseases at King’s College London, and other experts turned to the possibility of using everyday drugs.

They drew up a short-list published in the journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. One of the most promising is liraglutide, a diabetes treatment that also acts on the brain.

Others include minocycline, an antibiotic for acne, and acitretin, which treats the skin condition psoriasis. There is also a family of blood pressure drugs called calcium channel blockers. Some of these medicines cost less than 50p a tablet.

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘The idea that drugs for other conditions could fight Alzheimer’s is appealing. ‘But it’s not yet clear that such a drug exists. Alzheimer’s is a complex disease with many risk factors.’

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Victory for care pathway families: Minister pledges new law so patients can’t be put on end-of-life regime without consulting relatives

Putting patients on the ‘death pathway’ without consulting their families will be outlawed next week.

Jeremy Hunt is to make it a legal requirement that doctors fully explain the end-of-life treatment in order to obtain consent.

The Health Secretary has acted after the Mail highlighted chilling cases in which patients were placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway – which involves withdrawal of fluids and food – without their relatives’ knowledge.

On Monday he will announce rule changes that will see end-of-life care included for the first time in the NHS Constitution. The document lays down principles that all doctors must follow.

Last night Mr Hunt said he would enshrine the ‘basic right’ of patients to be involved in decisions when they are mortally sick. He threatened ‘tough consequences’ for hospitals that fail to consult.

Patients and their families will be able to sue health trusts that break the rules and doctors who ignore their wishes face being struck off for misconduct.

The LCP, which leads to death in an average of 33 days, is designed to ease the pain and upheaval for patients who are terminally ill. Health trusts have however faced the charge that it has been overused to hasten the deaths of these patients.

Patients have had feeding tubes withdrawn while their relatives were unaware that they been placed on the pathway. In some cases, relatives have covertly fed their elderly relatives after discovering doctors have given up on them.

Hospitals have even been paid incentives of £30million to hit targets for the number of patients on the pathway.

Mr Hunt will launch a three-month public consultation on Monday on his plans to rewrite the NHS Constitution.

But he will make clear that doctors and NHS managers must start adhering to the new rules immediately. A source close to Mr Hunt said: ‘Jeremy expects them to consult patients and their families. NHS organisations should have to adhere to that principle.’

A Department of Health source said: ‘New changes to the NHS Constitution, to be unveiled on Monday will set out a new legal right for patients to be consulted on end-of-life care decisions. The right will also include family and carers.

‘NHS bodies, as well as private and voluntary providers supplying NHS services, are required by law to take account of it in their decisions and actions.

‘End-of-life care, like the Liverpool Care Pathway, can give patients dignity and respect in their last days, but recent reports have suggested that there is more the NHS can do to ensure that patients, their family and carers are fully involved in all discussions and decisions.

‘Thanks to new powers introduced by this Government, in the Health and Social Care Act, the new right will mean that if a patient is not involved in decisions about their end-of-life care, they can challenge the NHS and launch a civil action.’

Mr Hunt, who has previously condemned the ‘unforgivable failure’ of hospitals to consult patients, has ordered his civil servants to make healthcare for older people a policy priority.

His predecessor Andrew Lansley concentrated on reforming the structures of the NHS.

Mr Hunt told the Mail: ‘I want our country to be the best in Europe to grow old. ‘End-of-life care decisions affect older, and more vulnerable people. These patients and their families have a basic right to be involved in discussions and decisions affecting their end-of-life care.

‘This new consultation will help to raise awareness of these rights and ensure that there are tough consequences in any cases where standards fall short.

‘The NHS is one of this country’s greatest achievements. At the same time as we are protecting its budget, we are building an NHS able to meet patients’ needs and expectations now and in the future.’ Ministers have already announced four separate probes of the Liverpool Care Pathway.

Care minister Norman Lamb announced on Thursday a round table summit with doctors and patients’ groups following the Mail’s revelations about the systematic misuse of the pathway.

A Health Department organisation, the National End of Life Care Programme is also investigating complaints about such care, including the Liverpool method. A group called Dying Matters will also talk to families.

Lastly, medical professionals will be consulted about their views on the Liverpool pathway and other methods by the Association for Palliative Medicine, which represents 1,000 doctors. Their inquiry findings will go to the Department of Health.

It is not yet known what will happen if doctors and patients, or relatives, disagree over the best way to proceed with treatment.

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Injured motorcyclist, 24, taken to hospital by his brother after 90 minutes because ambulances were diverted NINE times from crash scene

A motorcyclist badly injured in a crash had to be driven to hospital by his brother after ambulances sent to get him were diverted nine times.

David Pinion, 24, lay in agony for 90 minutes after suffering extensive internal bruising in the crash as a paramedic at the scene desperately tried to organise an ambulance.

But the paramedic was eventually told that the ambulances en route had to be diverted to ‘more serious’ incidents nine times and it would be best if the patient made his own way to the hospital. It is unclear how many ambulances had been dispatched.

Mr Pinion, whose waist had ballooned from 42in to 48in because of the swelling, was forced to ask the paramedic to call his brother to pick him up from the scene of the accident in Ely, Cambridge on October 14. The injured biker then had to be lifted off the road by his brother Robert and friend Chris Boon who drove him to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Mr Pinion also suffered damage to his pelvis and ankle and was given morphine by hospital staff to ease his pain.

Mr Pinion, from Prickwillow, Cambridge,said: ‘The rapid response paramedic who got to me first was brilliant. ‘She couldn’t have done any more for me, but the people on the radio said they couldn’t get an ambulance to me. ‘They kept diverting them to more incidents because I was deemed not serious enough.

‘The paramedic was arguing with them and telling them I could have been bleeding internally but they just said they were sorry and there was nothing they could do. ‘Fortunately I didn’t suffer any broken bones but I was in so much pain that I really wouldn’t want to know what a broken bone feels like.’

But Mr Pinion’s angry family called for improvements to the ambulance service before lives are lost by delayed response times. Mr Pinion’s mother Vanessa said: ‘Does someone have to die before we have a decent, reliable ambulance service with a reasonable response time?’

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: ‘This incident has already been raised by the Trust for investigation because the wait for transport to hospital was not acceptable.

‘The patient was assessed on-scene by a paramedic, who arrived within six minutes, as not being in a life-threatening condition and during this exceptionally busy time all ambulances which became available had to be diverted to life-threatening calls.’

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An alternative ‘facts’ curriculum for Britain: Younger pupils ‘must focus on names, dates and places, not vague themes’

Children would go back to learning about landmark events and the great figures of history under an alternative national curriculum drawn up by campaigners.

In a move away from vague themes and topics, pupils would concentrate on names, dates, places and scientific concepts as well as classic art, music and literature.

The lessons, spelled out in a series of primers from the think-tank Civitas, are designed to put knowledge back at the heart of teaching and complement a curriculum expected to be launched by Michael Gove early next year.

A draft of the Education Secretary’s plan requires pupils to study a narrative of British history including key figures such as Winston Churchill, and in geography, show an understanding of the countries of the world.

The primers created by Civitas are designed to fit into Mr Gove’s framework and stretch primary age children.

While rejecting rote learning, the think-tank says a ‘significant body of enduring knowledge and skills’ should ‘form the foundation of a strong curriculum’.

David Green of Civitas said he wanted to help reverse a trend that has seen children taught broad topics such as ‘the seashore’. ‘You could count ships in maths,’ he said. ‘But there’s a limit to how far you can deploy the seashore effectively as a theme for all those lessons.’

He said low expectations of youngsters – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds – had been a ‘terrible weakness’ in education for a generation.

He said the new curriculum would end the narrowing of education driven by a ‘corrupted’ regime of ‘teaching to the test’ – drilling to pass primary school tests.

Civitas has published two books in its series, covering what children in years one and two at primary school need to know. The next four are in development.

As well as a guide for teachers, the books are aimed at parents and grandparents to help them deepen children’s knowledge.

Schools, including the proposed West London Primary Free School, backed by journalist Toby Young, have expressed an interest in using the series of books.

However, the Civitas syllabus is likely to meet resistance from some teachers who claim that the rise of the internet and search engines such as Google are rendering the need to teach knowledge in schools increasingly obsolete.

The books are based on the ideas of E.D. Hirsch, an influential American educationalist who says the key duty of schooling is to give children access to the common knowledge that draws their society together. His theory is that the more knowledge a person has, the more sticks – like a snowball.

Mr Gove and former schools minister Nick Gibb, the architect of the Government’s curriculum review, have spoken of their admiration for Mr Hirsch’s work.

Under the Civitas scheme, pupils will leave primary school having studied a broad range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, songs, music, great works of art and speeches by key historical figures.

In geography, children would begin by identifying the countries of the UK on a map and build up to in-depth studies of the continents.

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Statins side effects warning when combined with other drugs: regulator

The statin craze seems to be slowly winding down at long last

Hundreds of thousands of people taking a common statin are to have their dose reduced due to fears over side effects, it has emerged.

Medicines regulators have warned that patients taking simvastatin at the same time as other drugs used to reduce high blood pressure are likely to suffer more aches and pains.

The MHRA has produced a patient leaflet for the first time to inform people of the changes being made.

Studies have shown that patients taking simvastatin, particularly the 40mg dose which is the most commonly prescribed in England, suffered more problems if they were also on amlodipine and diltiazem.

These are used to treat high blood pressure and chest pain associated with heart disease, and they are often prescribed with simvastatin.

The side effects are those usually associated with statins, including muscle problems such as pain, tenderness, weakness and cramps and more rarely muscle breakdown leading to kidney damage. These occurred more frequently when patient were on both drugs at the same time.

Regulators have said patients taking the combination should not stop them and talk to their doctor at their next routine appointment.

Doctors may lower the simvastatin dose as the side effects were less common when patients were on a 20mg dose, or switch them to another statin.

An MHRA spokesman said: “The MHRA is committed to public health and continuously monitors the safety of all medicines.

“We have recently published information on dosing recommendations for simvastatin which were updated due to a small risk of an increase in side effects when it is used at higher doses in conjunction with amlodipine or diltiazem.

“This advice is intended to optimise the proven beneficial effects of statins while minimising any adverse effects and should not be a reason for stopping statin treatment. We have advised that patients continue their treatment and discuss this with their doctor at their next routine appointment.

“The updated information has been highlighted in our first Drug Safety Update article designed exclusively for patients, with the aim that people taking these medicines can understand why their statin treatment may have changed.”

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The global war on free speech

It’s not just China and Russia: editors in Greece and Hungary are being harassed, while Britain’s straitened press is in danger of being cowed by powerful interests and excessive regulation

By John Kampfner (Kampfner is a former editor of ‘The New Statesman’, a British Leftist organ. A recent article there was headed: “The world cannot afford a defeat for Barack Obama”. Rather says it all. Still, he is pretty right below

Look back at the big events of the past decade and ask yourself: did we find out too much or too little of what the powerful did in our name? Did we know too much or too little about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Did we enquire too much or too little about the cheating of the bankers?

When I posed this question during my testimony to the Leveson Inquiry back in January, I swear I saw the judge’s eyes roll. I fear Lord Justice Leveson had been persuaded long before that journalism was a problem for society, not part of the solution to its ills. He could have been forgiven for coming to this instant conclusion, having listened to the heart-rending testimony of Milly Dowler’s parents, or Kate and Gerry McCann, or of other victims of hounding and despicable behaviour.

Even though I have worked in the profession, or trade, for more than two decades, I hold no candle for the press as an institution. My concern is broader. Freedom of expression – the bedrock of democracy – is under threat in Britain, as it is around the globe.

Wherever you look, someone with power, somewhere in the world, is trying to prevent the truth from getting out. In dictatorships they often resort to violence. But usually those with power hide behind laws that, while technically legitimate, are designed to chill free speech.

We think such measures are the preserve of places like China and Russia. And they are. In China the media are severely censored. Dissidents are routinely jailed. Western media are blocked online when they become inconvenient, as the New York Times was recently after revealing details of premier Wen Jiabao’s family wealth.

In Russia, investigative journalists are killed when they find out too much. The internet is now severely restricted. Members of the punk band Pussy Riot languish in penal colonies for protesting in church.

But dangers also lurk in so-called democracies. In Greece, a magazine editor yesterday went on trial for having the temerity to publish details of the tax avoidance schemes of the super-rich, as ordinary people suffer greatly from austerity. If normal ethical standards were applied, Costas Vaxevanis would have been celebrated for his intrepid reporting. But shooting the messenger has become the norm for politicians and business leaders, as a means of diverting attention from their crimes and misdemeanours – and frightening whistleblowers and journalists. In France, presidents and ministers have for years hidden behind privacy clauses to keep their dodgy financial affairs secret. Hungary’s recent press law, requiring media outlets to be licensed, has led to a spate of overly critical editors being sacked and radio stations taken off air.

What is so dispiriting is that we in Britain appear now to be leaning in this direction. We increasingly regard free speech as a danger.

There are a number of reasons: some of it is the result of bad law; some of it is economic. Politicians, lawyers and the public are struggling to come to terms with rapid technological changes. The internet was supposed to be the vehicle that broke down old rules and hierarchies. We suddenly acquired a voice through emails, blogs and social networking. We could bear witness to events through sound recording and cameras on our mobile phones.

The power relationship shifted. Gone were the days when a mere citizen would have to send a letter to their MP, who would occasionally deign to reply. Mostly they didn’t, seeing engagement or accountability as an intrusion on their valuable time.

That has changed, thank goodness, and cannot be reversed. The moment George Osborne’s assistant queried, possibly innocently, his standard-class train ticket, that episode was in the public domain.

Yet at the same time we struggle with Twitter and Facebook and the freedoms they afford. Online, the extremely poor joke and the offensive remark have now become matters not for peer groups to sort out, but for the authorities. So the hapless young man who tweets in frustration about blowing up an airport is arrested; a stupid boy who insults the Olympic diver Tom Daley is visited by the police; and the equally pathetic young man who makes an ill-judged “joke” about the disappeared Welsh schoolgirl April Jones is taken in, too.

I am as angered by these remarks as anyone, but is it the state’s job to arbitrate matters of taste and decency? When Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, was invited on to the BBC’s Question Time a couple of years ago, to howls of outrage, I saw it as important to defend his right to appear – and to make a fool of himself, which he duly did. To misquote Voltaire, the only free speech worth defending is that of the person whose views you find most obnoxious.

Everywhere around the world, it seems, the right to take offence has been elevated into a human right. Usually, but not always, this “right” is exercised through religious belief. Most cases are seen through the prism of “insults” to Islam. But this “right” now seems to be exercised by whoever wants it.

What does all this have to do with our press? The best word I can find is “raucous”. A raucous, argumentative society is a healthy society. Of course we need laws to protect people – from child pornography to incitement to violence. We need state secrets. But the Official Secrets Act has often been used for the wrongful purpose of protecting the reputations of ministers and officials. We need anti-terrorism measures, but not the outrageous Communications Data Bill currently being discussed in Parliament, that would give not just the security services but dozens of lesser public bodies the right to demand emails and social media traffic from any citizen in the land. These plans are dangerous; they are also manna from heaven for the Russians and Chinese, who love to point to the West’s double standards when their records are held up to scrutiny.

We need libel laws, but not those that for years have indulged sheikhs, oligarchs and other super-rich figures, preventing anyone from writing about them. These laws are being changed, but I fear the end result will fall far short of the improvements the libel reform campaign I helped to lead has sought.

Throw in the economics: many newspapers have closed or been pared to the bone, particularly in the regions. Whose interests are served when local councils know that planning decisions and other dodgy dealings will go unreported? The same goes on a national scale, not just about politicians, but sports stars and their agents and businesses on the take. Investigative journalism takes time, requires patience and indulgence from editors, and costs money. That is the area that is being cut back most of all – to everyone’s detriment.

So how come a general view has been allowed to take hold that our press is out of control? The terrible acts of a few, hacking the phones of the vulnerable with no possible public interest, have handed the moral ground and political power to those who want journalists to be more “respectful”.

I have attended a number of press conferences over the years involving prime ministers and US presidents. When the two leaders marched into the room, the Americans would stand to attention; the Brits would sit sullenly. I know which I prefer.

Nobody sensible will defend the old-style boys’-club regulation of newspapers. Of course, something more vigorous must emerge from the Leveson Inquiry. But I have worked in many countries – not just under authoritarian regimes – where journalists are seduced by the offer of a seat at the top table, or are persuaded not to ask that extra question. “Go easy, we don’t want trouble” could all too easily become the mantra here. Would, I ask myself, this newspaper have had the courage to break the story about MPs’ expenses in the post-Leveson world? I would like to think so, but I’m not sure.

We all want to strike the right balance. But perfection is elusive. Forced to choose, I would rather have a public space that goes too far than one that – like so many countries around the world – is pliant in the face of power.

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Litter-picking enthusiast prosecuted by nasty British bureaucracy

A litter-picking enthusiast who is so devoted to keeping the streets clean that he spends an hour every day tidying up rubbish himself was stunned to find himself fined £75 for putting refuse in a bin.

Council officials accused David Baker, 39, of fly-tipping because they said he had used a public street bin to deposit a pizza box and junk mail – considered illegal as this is classed as “domestic waste”.

The former geologist has gathered tonnes of rubbish dropped by strangers over the last six years, winning awards for his efforts, after becoming fed up with litter piling up near his town centre flat.

He described his fine as “bureaucracy gone mad” and said the council seemed so “desperate for money” it would fine anybody.

Mr Baker said: “I think that it is completely outrageous that I should be fined for actually cleaning rubbish off the streets.

“How can people who actually want to put rubbish in the bin be fined? To claim that what I put in the bin amounts to fly-tipping is crazy.

“I moved to a town centre flat six years ago and got fed up with all the rubbish in the street. “I look after all the plants and dead head them daily and I go around picking up rubbish. “I fill a carrier bag or two a day and I go out most days of the year – unless I’m on holiday.

“I am out at least an hour every day and do it all for free. I just think the council are desperate for money and have a mentality of fining people for anything at the moment.”

Councillor Tracy Wood said: “Our enforcement officers issued a fixed penalty fine to Mr Baker in Stourbridge, after they found his domestic waste and letters in the litter bin on a number of occasions. “However, we will be reviewing the fine and speaking to Mr Baker directly to discuss it.”

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What a way to treat an old soldier: War veteran who lost a leg forced to wait SEVEN YEARS for routine NHS procedure

When Jack Bland lost a leg while serving as a soldier in Northern Italy shortly after the end of the Second World War he couldn’t fault the medical care he received. But almost 70 years later he is furious with the NHS after enduring years of agony while waiting for routine surgery on his back.

Mr Bland, 85, sustained the injury in a fall seven years ago and can only get around with the help of crutches. Yet the simple operation that could ease his pain was repeatedly delayed and then cancelled by hospital managers.

Last night Mr Bland’s MP, former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw, stepped in to champion his case. He said he was ‘really concerned’ about the standard of care the veteran had received and would be taking the matter up with the hospital.

Mr Bland, a widower from Blackburn, attacked the hospital as ‘feckless’ and ‘uncaring’. He said: ‘Frankly, I’m disgusted with the NHS. I received better treatment and care in the military hospital in the 1940s. ‘It is a complete joke that my wait for a back operation at my local hospital has taken longer than the war itself.

‘In those days it didn’t matter whether you were a major or private – everyone was treated with the utmost respect. ‘Today we have consultants who look at you as if you are stupid and treat you as a number. ‘I used to be able to get out and about but I can’t any more. This operation would give me back my life.’

Mr Bland’s ordeal began in February 2006 when he slipped and hurt his back while on a day trip to Fleetwood, near Blackpool. He was prescribed painkillers by his doctor.

The retired engineer, who since his army injury has used a prosthetic limb, was confined to a wheelchair for four months without any improvement in his condition.

When he returned to his doctor, he was referred for a scan which he says showed he might need surgery because there was a bulge in a disc in his vertebrae. In April 2008 he went for another scan which showed no change and he asked for an operation.

Eventually Mr Bland was referred to an orthopaedic consultant. Although no date was set for surgery, he had several appointments at the Royal Preston Hospital to discuss the ongoing treatment for his back. Finally – almost five years after he had sustained the injury – he was put on a waiting list for surgery.

In June this year Mr Bland had another scan on his back and the doctor who looked at it told him it still looked the same as originally. An operation was scheduled for July, but it was cancelled. Then an appointment for a pre-operation medical, in October, was also cancelled.

The Royal Preston disputes Mr Bland’s claim that he waited for the operation for seven years, saying he was not due to have one in 2006.

However, Karen Partington, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said: ‘We offer our sincere apologies to Mr Bland for delays in his care. ‘We will contact Mr Bland directly to assure him that we are prioritising his treatment.’

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My daughter with a brain disorder was just given Calpol (Tylenol) by doctors – and now she’s sicker than ever

A mother who took her daughter to hospital after she collapsed at home says she was sent away with Calpol three times, despite her protestations.

Freya Davies-Redding, five, has a rare brain disorder, similar to cerebral palsy, which means she has epileptic fits and a weak left side. Freya collapsed into a TV stand at the family home in Barnstaple, Devon on Saturday, September 29.

But when mother Claire went to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple she claims a registrar suggested she be taken home and given Calpol.

She then says they went back to the hospital the next two days running but was sent home and told to take Calpol each time.

Freya eventually got the treatment she needs but her mother says the delay means she now fits even more than before.

Claire said: ‘The registrar didn’t even ask us what kind of brain condition Freya had. I don’t know what he was thinking. Perhaps he thought it was a bit too much paperwork. ‘Her fits have got worse and she needs a new drug. I think it would have been prevented if the registrar had taken notice from the beginning.’

Eventually the hospital gave Freya an EEG (electroencephalogram) which checked her brain and found she was fitting every 10 seconds.

Jim Bray, spokesman for Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said Freya had undergone a thorough examination and tests. He said: ‘After the EEG test, our clinician acted immediately to manage the patient’s care in collaboration with neurology specialists at Bristol Children’s Hospital. ‘For rare conditions needing specialist treatment, this is a normal pathway of care for Northern Devon residents.

‘During this time we regularly updated the patient’s mother, who gave us the impression she was happy with her daughter’s management.’

Alison Diamond, the Trust’s medical director, said: ‘This was a very complex and difficult diagnosis. ‘Once the EEG identified a problem, the team worked closely with Bristol Children’s Hospital to manage the patient. ‘If it had been an emergency, the patient would have been transferred to Bristol earlier.

‘We understand the parents’ frustration and are disappointed our levels of care did not reach their expectations. ‘We strive to provide all our patients with the utmost care and compassion, regardless of their needs. We always welcome comments on where we need to improve.’

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UK academic union faces claims of ‘institutional anti-Semitism’

Severe anti-Israel bias ‘makes Jews feel uncomfortable and unwelcome,’ lecturer charges in landmark tribunal

The UK’s trade union for academics, the University and College Union, is “institutionally anti-Semitic,” a London employment tribunal heard Monday.

The claim was made on the opening day of a potentially landmark case, which partially revolves around UCU’s resolutions concerning an academic boycott of Israel.

The claimant, freelance mathematics lecturer Ronnie Fraser, is alleging that the union harassed him by creating a hostile environment for him as a Jew, which “derives from a culture and attitude which is informed by contemporary anti-Zionism.

Complaints about anti-Semitism are met with either bald denials or accusations that the complainant is attempting to stifle legitimate debate. As a result of the role which the State of Israel plays in contemporary Jewish identity, the hostile environment necessarily has an adverse impact on Jewish members of the union, making them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.”

He says that this contravenes the 2010 Equality Act, which prevents discrimination on grounds of race or religion.

Unusually for an employment tribunal, the case will take four weeks to be heard. Over 30 witnesses for the claimant include the Booker Prize winning novelist Howard Jacobson — who has submitted a witness statement but will not be cross-examined — as well as Jewish community officials and numerous academics, both Jewish and non-Jewish. The seven witnesses for the respondent are all UCU officials.

Two of the three witnesses who testified during the opening session Monday discussed UCU’s decision to allow the international relations spokesperson for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Bongani Masuku, to speak at a UK conference promoting boycott and divestment of Israel in December 2009. Just two days earlier, the South African Human Rights Commission had publicized its finding that Masuku was guilty of hate speech against the Jewish community of South Africa.

The statements, which were made at a student rally at the University of Witwatersrand the previous March, included threats to South African families with children in the IDF, as well as a promise to make the lives of Zionists in South Africa “hell.”

Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, a representative body, argued that UCU leaders were informed of the ruling the day after it was made public (and the day before the conference) and had ample time to ensure Masuku did not have a platform in the UK. She rejected the suggestion by UCU’s lawyer, Antony White QC, that since Masuku had announced his intention to make further representations to the SAHRC, there was at the time “the possibility of a range of views about what Masuku had done”.

“That range of views was brought to the Human Rights Commission, they had a finding that was communicated to the Union and to the people who had invited over Masuku,” she said.

She was repeatedly questioned about when criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism and whether comparisons between Israel and apartheid South Africa were anti-Semitic.

“Whether Israel is or is not an apartheid state is academic discourse; it’s often discussed in the South African media,” she said. “When comments are made, ‘I came to the conclusion that Jews are arrogant’ or ‘Jews control the US’ — these comments are unacceptable, that’s when you go to the Human Rights Commission. When Jews are talked about as having blood dripping from their hands, that they should leave the country — that’s when you go to the Human Rights Commission.”

Political debate is “valid, to be admired,” Kahn later added. However, she said, “I have a problem with using the Israeli situation as an excuse for hate speech and making comments on fellow South Africans. Some of the comments drew on classic and modern anti-Semitic discourse.”

A second witness, retired University of Oxford biochemistry professor Michael Yudkin, had helped draft a motion in his local UCU branch disassociating members from “Masuku’s repugnant views,” which was passed 14:1. In May 2010, he proposed the motion at the UCU Annual Congress, but lost by “an overwhelming majority”. Yudkin subsequently resigned his UCU membership.

By the time Masuku was invited to the London conference, Yudkin stated, “it was a matter of public record that he had made remarks at a public meeting several months earlier that were, to put it no more strongly, prima facie anti-Semitic. The most cursory search of Google in October or November 2009 would have revealed both that such remarks had been made by Masuku, and also that there had been official complaints about them. The fact that UCU nonetheless invited Masuku to the conference in London suggests either that the union was reckless in failing to scrutinise the background of its invitees or that it knew of Masuku’s anti-Semitic remarks and didn’t consider them a reason for rescinding the invitation.”

His motion, Yudkin said, “centered on the expression of anti-Semitic views by someone who had been invited by the union to the UK. It recited incontrovertible facts and it invited the union to dissociate itself from remarks that had been found by an authoritative body (the South African Human Rights Commission) to amount to hate speech. That the union was unwilling to do so indicates, in my opinion, that it regards the expression of anti-Semitic views as acceptable.”

When White suggested that some UCU members felt it was inappropriate to support the motion as COSATU had said it was going to make further representations on Masuku’s behalf and legal proceedings were still ongoing, Yudkin responded, “I’m struck by the overwhelming opposition to the motion, 10:1 [against]. I don’t think these niceties about whether COSATU supported the appeal can be used as an excuse for that degree of opposition — all the motion asked [members] to do was to disassociate themselves from Masuku’s racist remarks, and that they refused to do. The context was the last several years of anti-Israel resolutions. All added together made it clear that the union was run by those committed to disregarding the feelings of its Jewish members and thinking that the kind of behaviour in which it was indulging did not need an explanation. It was institutional antisemitism.”

Told that several of the speakers opposing the motion were Jewish, Yudkin responded, “The fact that they are Jews by birth or upbringing is not a sufficient reason to think people may not be guilty of disregarding what is important to the majority of Jews.”

The panel of three judges, led by AM Snelson, will spend Tuesday listening to audio recordings of the UCU debates on an Israel boycott and the claimant, Ronnie Fraser, will take the stand on Wednesday.

SOURCE

Ten years too late, it’s good riddance to Britain’s wind farms – one of the most dangerous delusions of our age

By Christopher Booker

The significance of yesterday’s shock announce-ment by our Energy Minister John Hayes that the Government plans to put a firm limit on the building of any more onshore windfarms is hard to exaggerate.

On the face of it, this promises to be the beginning of an end to one of the greatest and most dangerous political delusions of our time.

For years now, the plan to cover hundreds of square miles of the British countryside with ever more wind turbines has been the centrepiece of Britain’s energy policy — and one supported by all three major political parties.

Back in 2008, when Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced his wish to see the country spend £100 billion on windfarms, the only response from the Tory leader David Cameron was to say that he should have done it sooner.

It was the only way, they all agreed, Britain could meet our commitment to the EU that, by 2020, we must produce nearly a third of our electricity from ‘renewables’ — with the largest part provided by tens of thousands more wind turbines.

Yet now, out of the blue, has come this announcement by the Coalition Energy Minister that from now on there is to be a moratorium on building onshore turbines other than those for which consent has already been given.
Bonanza

What made this even more piquant was the fact that Mr Hayes chose to drop this bombshell just hours before attending a conference in Glasgow staged by RenewableUK, the professional lobby group for Britain’s wind industry.

These are the very people who for years have been making fortunes out of the greatest public subsidy bonanza of modern times. Now Mr Hayes is to stop their gravy train in its tracks. It will give them the biggest shock of their professional lives.

The ramifications of such a policy U-turn stretch in all directions, not least to Brussels, where our EU colleagues won’t be taken in for a moment by Mr Hayes’s disingenuous claim that Britain doesn’t need more onshore windfarms because we are now on course to meet our ‘renewables’ target without them.

But nowhere will this announcement be greeted with more delirious surprise than in all those hundreds of communities across the land where outraged local protest groups have formed in ever greater numbers to fight the onward march of what they see as the greatest threat to Britain’s countryside for centuries.
Ludicrous

I have been following this extraordinary story for ten years ever since, in 2002, I first began looking carefully at what really lay behind this deceptive obsession with the charms of wind power. It didn’t take me long, talking to experts and reading up on the technical facts, to see that the fashionable enthusiasm for wind energy was based on a colossal illusion.

I first warned about what I called ‘the greatest mistake in our history’ in an article in the Mail almost ten years ago.

I described the claim that it would be the answer to all our future energy problems as a catastrophic failure of judgment. I feared that windpower was stupendously inefficient and ludicrously expensive and that by falling for the greatest energy hoax of our time, the Labour government could be consigning Britain to a very dark future.

So unreliable are wind turbines — thanks to the wind’s constant vagaries — that they are one of the most inefficient means of producing electricity ever devised.

Indeed, the amount of power they generate is so derisory that, even now, when we have built 3,500 turbines, the average amount of power we get from all of them combined is no more than what we get from a single medium-size, gas-fired power station, built at only fraction of the cost.

No one would dream of building windfarms unless the Government had arranged to pay their developers a subsidy of 100 per cent on all the power they produce, paid for by all of us through a hidden charge on our electricity bills.

The only way the industry managed to fool politicians into accepting this crazy deal was by subterfuge — referring to turbines only in terms of their ‘capacity’ (i.e. what they could produce if the wind was blowing at optimum speeds 24 hours of every day). The truth is that their average actual output is barely a quarter of that figure.

Yet it was on this deception that the industry managed to fool pretty well everyone that windfarms could make a contribution to Britain’s energy needs four times larger than reality — and thus was ‘the great wind scam’ launched on its way.

For years our politicians continued to fall for this racket, as they ruthlessly bent the planning rules to ensure that nothing stood in the way of the turbines.

Meanwhile, ever more rural communities fought to stop the countryside around their homes being threatened with these monsters.

At long last, the penny began to drop with a growing number of MPs being besieged by constituents who wanted to know why our green and pleasant land should be disfigured for no obvious purpose other than to enrich the developers, and landowners such as David Cameron’s father-in-law Sir Reginald Sheffield, who has cheerfully admitted that the turbines on his Lincolnshire estate earn him £1,000 a day.

Earlier this year, 100 MPs, led by Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry, called for an end to building any more onshore turbines, on the grounds that the public should no longer be expected to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds a year in subsidies for something which was both useless and a crazy waste of money.

It was this groundswell of opposition, coming mainly from the Tory shires but winning support from MPs of all parties, which recently led David Cameron to appoint John Hayes as our new Energy Minister — with the private brief that he must find a way to curb those windfarms which are so massively unpopular.

Hence last night’s startling U-turn — which will destroy the long-standing all-party consensus on the issue.

The Lib Dems — led by our technically illiterate Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey — the Labour Party and Brussels will scarcely be able to contain their anger.

For countless others, this blast of realism will send up a cheer of relief across Britain — apart from Scotland, which has devolved powers. First Minister Alex Salmond has laughably pledged that, within eight years, it must derive all its electricity from ‘renewables’. (He has never explained what happens when the wind drops.)

In terms of seeing off the great wind delusion, however, this is only what Churchill once described as ‘the end of the beginning’.

When all those MPs finally became brave enough to recognise that onshore wind turbines are both useless and a waste of money, what they omitted to say was that the same objections apply twice over to those we are erecting in the seas around our coasts.

It’s not just that the thousands of offshore turbines that the Government still wants built will not only produce amounts of electricity scarcely less pitiful than those onshore. Because they are so much more expensive to build, they attract subsidies not at 100 per cent but at 200 per cent.

Thus, every reason that led John Hayes to strike such a blow yesterday for common sense in respect of onshore windfarms also applies, with redoubled force, to those vast offshore wind factories.

Until our politicians finally have the courage of their newfound convictions and halt this madness, too, one of the most bizarre follies of our age will not have been finally chucked where it belongs — firmly into the rubbish bin of history.

SOURCE

British parliamentarian runs slap bang into BBC bias; No deception is beneath them

Letter below from Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP, Member of Parliament for Hitchin and Harpenden to David Jordan, BBC, Director Editorial Policy and Standards, BBC

I would be grateful if you would look into my complaints about the Newsnight programme on Wednesday 5th September in which I participated (having just published a substantial critique of the Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change) along with Natalie Bennett (newly elected Leader of the Green Party).

First, though least important, the BBC reneged on assurances I was given about the nature of the programme. Second, the introductory sequence was misleading, inaccurate and biased. Third, and most important, it demonstrates a systemic bias in the BBC’s approach to Climate Change.

Breach of assurances

I was told beforehand that although the programme would use the current record low in Arctic summer sea ice extent we would not discuss the science but ‘take the IPCC assessment of global warming as given’ and discuss what should be done about it. It was impressed upon me that I must not get into discussions of the science. I was perfectly happy with that a) because it is impossible sensibly to discuss both the scientific issues and the economic issues in a single brief item, b) because that was the approach I had taken in my report – I take the IPCC science as given and certainly do not dispute the reality of the greenhouse effect.

Despite those assurances, our discussion was preceded by a lengthy introductory film claiming to provide “new evidence”, “obtained by the BBC” that the ice was going to melt far earlier than previously thought and that this would lead to far more rapid, dangerous and unstoppable global warming. In fact it contained no “new evidence” only a piece of non-peer reviewed, non-research containing the tired old alarmist meme that “it’s worse than we thought” trotted out by a well known climate alarmist who has made the same assertions before; but this time implicitly endorsed by the BBC science editor who “obtained this evidence”.

I was therefore faced with a dilemma. If I adhered to my instructions and the original game plan it meant effectively accepting a highly tendentious bit of alarmism which contradicts the IPCC assessment of the science. On the other hand if I responded to this contentious piece I had to leave the points made by the Green Party leader unanswered. It also meant abandoning the original, sensible plan to focus on the economics/policy responses.

While the trailer was being shown I expressed my dismay at the bias of its contents to Jeremy Paxman who indicated that he would let me respond, which he did. I should make it clear that I have no criticism of the way Jeremy Paxman handled the programme – on the contrary my impression was that he was annoyed that the preamble had made a sensible discussion focused on the economics impossible.

I am happy to discuss either the economics or the science. And I have plenty of experience of being ‘ambushed’ in media interviews and can respond accordingly. If the blogosphere and my inbox are to be believed I came off best, the Green Leader was discomforted and Paxman dismayed. But that is not the point. It is wrong in principle to renege on assurances given. And the net result was to reduce the discussion to a muddle. The viewers were deprived of a meaningful discussion of the policy options.

More important is the bias displayed by the preamble.

* Susan Watts’ opening claim that this was a “new” thesis is untrue. The albedo effect and the possibility of methane emissions have been fully integrated into the IPCC assessments and projections as well as climate models for decades.

* Far from being “new research” Prof Wadhams has made similar alarmist claims in the past e.g. in “Planet Earth We Have a Problem: Feedback dynamics and the acceleration of climate change” June 2007.

* If “the new figures given to the BBC” do show that “the loss of Arctic ice is massively compounding the effects of greenhouse gas emissions” to a far greater extent than is assumed in the climate models collated by the IPCC then it follows that the underlying climate sensitivity must be far less than those models have assumed. If more of the observed warming has been the result of the albedo effect then less of it must have been the result of all other factors. Thus once the sea ice has melted and the maximum albedo effect is operating, the additional effect of further CO2 emissions will just be proportional to this lower underlying sensitivity. So the temperature will rise thereafter less rapidly than previously predicted. This fairly basic point does not seem to have struck either your science editor or Professor Wadham.

* The assertion that the summer ice will regularly disappear “within a few years” (or even happen soon after 2030 as attributed to the Met Office) contradicted the IPCC assessment which was not even mentioned. The IPCC Assessment Report Summary for Policy Makers says: “Sea ice is projected to shrink in both the Arctic and Antarctic under all SRES scenarios. In some projections arctic late-summer sea ice disappears almost entirely by the latter part of the 21st Century” (my emphasis). The Working Group1 report Chapter 10.3.3.1 says “the coupled models show a range of responses in Northern Hemisphere sea ice area extent ranging from very little change to a strong and accelerating reduction over the 21st century” but as shown in the accompanying chart no projection shows an ice free summer before 2070.

* Prof Wadhams’ assertion that “the temperature” has been rising was accepted by your programme makers uncritically. As was his almost meaningless phrase that “parts of the Arctic Ocean are as warm in summer as the North Sea in winter” (very cold in my experience!) In fact the remarkable thing has been the unchanging arctic temperature in summer – see appended charts. Global warming may be supplying heat to melt ice but it has not raised the temperature and a major factor affecting ice cover is wind blowing the ice out of the Arctic Ocean.

Much more HERE

Egalite without liberte? Non, non, non!

A new army of equality quangos and experts promises to make us all equal – but at the expense of our freedoms and desire to be rich

Historically, when people talked about equality, they meant one of two things. They either meant political equality – that is, equal rights, the expansion of freedom to more and more sections of society. Or they meant material equality – that is, a rethink of the way resources are created and distributed, the expansion of wealth so that more and more sections of society could enjoy it.

But today, we have a very curious situation where the new equality industry – all those quangos, experts and politicians who present themselves as the guardians of equality – actively undermines those two goals of the old struggles for equality. Today, equality is promoted not as a means of expanding freedom, but of limiting it. And equality is celebrated not as a means of expanding wealth, but as a way of shrinking wealth, or at least making it less ostentatious.

Where once we fought for equality in order to expose greater numbers of people to the gains of freedom and the joy of wealth, now the state and its offshoots promote equality in order to protect us from those things – in order to protect us from the alleged dangers of too much freedom and from the alleged mental distress that comes from wanting too much material stuff.

In relation to freedom: One of the most striking things about our society is how much validation and even adulation the idea of equality receives, and how little the ideal of freedom receives. There are numerous quangos and think-tanks devoted to promoting equality, but hardly any devoted to preserving freedom. Politicians like David Cameron are always talking about how important it is to address inequality, but they never make a loud defence of freedom – in fact, they pass laws that eat away at our freedom.

And not only does our society value equality more than it does freedom – it also uses equality as a tool for undermining freedom. You can see this pretty clearly with the UK Equality Act – the new ‘duty’ of equality that is enforced by government, which some religious and political groups have raised concerns about it, worried that it might be used to attack freedom of conscience and freedom of association.

Just consider the pretty shocking case where the state sought to force the far-right British National Party to rewrite its constitution. The Equality and Human Rights Commission argued that the BNP’s constitution was anti-equality. The constitution broke race relations laws by stipulating that the BNP was open only to ‘indigenous Caucasians’. It failed the equality test, and therefore it had to go.

Now, you might well hate the BNP’s constitution – that’s fine, most normal people do. But what you should hate even more is the idea that the state should have the right to edit or trash the constitutions of political parties. Because if we accept that the state should have that right, then we accept that there is no longer freedom of association or the right to political organisation; we accept that those two key freedoms – the freedom to associate with whom we choose and the freedom to promote whatever political views we like – can be undermined by the state in the name of ‘equality’.

The BNP case showed just how cynical the promotion of equality is these days. There were no queues of black and Asian people demanding the right to join the BNP, a racist party. This was no bottom-up demand for equal treatment – it was a top-down exploitation of the language of equality by a state keen to punish a deviant political party and force it to conform to the state’s values.

Today’s elevation of equality over freedom is bizarre – because freedom absolutely presupposes equality. Freedom is unquestionably a more important value than equality. In fact, earlier generations of fighters for equality saw equality as important only insofar as it allowed for the expansion of freedom. So for the French Revolutionaries – who propelled equality into historical consciousness – the demand for equality was about giving meaning to freedom. It was about making the ideal of freedom a reality by extending it, in Robespierre’s words, to both ‘slave and tyrant’. Equality emerged in the eighteenth century as a means of achieving freedom, which had been discussed as an ideal for centuries, in the living, breathing world.

Today, the use of equality to undermine freedom seriously denigrates both – it denigrates both the purpose of equality, and the meaning of freedom.

Then there is the debate about material equality. Here, too, the meaning of equality has been warped. Where earlier generations fought for the creation of more, in order to facilitate the spread of wealth to all, today’s equality quangos effectively fight for less. For them, equality means everyone having just about enough rather than everyone having an awful lot or all they can dream of.

Their starting point is the idea that desiring wealth is potentially bad for our mental health. They have even invented new diseases to describe the longing to be wealthy – they call it ‘affluenza’ or ‘stuff-itis’. They have pathologised the desire for more. And that’s because their aim is to lower horizons rather than raise them. For them, equality is a kind of therapy for the poor, a tool which should be used to make poor people feel better about the fact that they live on less than others. The new equality quangos are obsessed with lowering the perks and privileges of the rich – with ‘shrinking the pay gap’, as they call it – because their overarching aim is to stem feelings of jealously and out-of-control desire amongst the poor when they see rich bankers swaggering about with champagne and cigars.

This was best summed up by Will Hutton of the High Pay Commission, who recently said: ‘The knowledge that ostentatious consumption is possible has a shadow effect on every British citizen.’ In short, we must protect the poor from the sight of wealth; we must protect them from the harm of wanting things, and we must do this by making the wealth in our society less garish and obvious, by shrinking it, by removing the suggestion that everyone could achieve this standard of living or that it would be desirable for them to do so. This is really about helping the poor acclimatise to the fact that they are poor, by removing riches from their sight and from their minds.

The key problem today is the treatment of equality as an end in itself, as the good, logical end goal of policymaking. In past struggles, equality wasn’t treated as an end in itself – rather, it was viewed as a tool for the expansion of freedom and for the spread of riches. That is, it was about unleashing people’s potential and their individuality by making them more autonomous, both politically and economically; it wasn’t about making everyone the same, with the same views, the same incomes, the same life trajectories.

Today, equality, the end goal of just about every modern policy proposal, is about restraint; it’s about reining in allegedly dangerous freedoms and dampening down material desires. No wonder it is so attractive to the elite: ‘equality’ has become a PC word through which our rulers can limit people’s freedoms and lower our horizons and generally make our ambitionless, slothful society seem principled by describing it as ‘equal’. We should tell them we don’t want to be merely and always equal – we want to be free.

SOURCE

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‘They said I was insane, but I knew my baby was alive’: Mother’s two-year battle over hospital blunders

An attempted coverup of gross negligence leading to death

A mother fought a two-year battle with a hospital when her baby was wrongly certified as being stillborn after fatal mistakes by staff. Ava Mae Charlton was born by emergency caesarean section but she struggled to breathe and died after only 32 minutes.

Hospital officials tried to claim the baby was stillborn and so her death did not need to be investigated. But her parents Emma and Terry Charlton always maintained their daughter had been alive. They fought for an inquest until – after two years – the hospital finally admitted that Ava had not been stillborn, allowing the scrutiny of a hearing.

Her death followed those of two other babies at Milton Keynes Hospital in similar circumstances, when the mothers had to wait for a caesarean to be carried out.

Following the latest tragedy, coroner Tom Osborne has ordered managers to report all stillbirths and neonatal deaths to him for further investigation.

Mrs Charlton, a teacher, 31, said: ‘People questioned my sanity and it was infuriating because I knew my baby had been alive. I was grief-stricken and vulnerable and you just accept what health professionals tell you.

‘But when they handed me that stillborn certificate, I knew something wasn’t right. Then a meeting with our consultant opened up a whole can of worms and highlighted a number of errors that had been made.’

Ava’s death in September 2009 came when the maternity unit was still reeling from criticism into the death of another baby, Ebony McCall, four months before. Then, Mr Osborne had condemned staff shortages which contributed to her demise as ‘nothing short of scandalous’.

The deaths of the two girls bear an uncanny resemblance. Both went into distress and both mothers had to wait a considerable time for caesareans. Ava, like Ebony, would very probably be alive today had the surgery been carried out sooner, the inquest heard.

The loss of a third baby girl, Romy Feast in 2007 in similar circumstances, in the same unit also prompted criticism from the coroner at the time.

Mr Osborne delivered a narrative verdict at Ava’s inquest at Milton Keynes Coroner’s Court. ‘There was a failure to recognise the seriousness of her (Ava’s) condition and a delay in carrying out the emergency caesarean section,’ he said. The coroner ruled that if the surgery had been carried out earlier ‘on the balance of probabilities Ava would have survived’.

Mrs Charlton, of Milton Keynes, was admitted when 36 weeks’ pregnant, suffering with pre-eclampsia, the court heard. She had previously had an MRI scan which showed she had a ‘borderline pelvis’ making a natural delivery risky. But Mrs Charlton was not told of this risk and was not given the option of a caesarean section.

Instead, she was induced and a short time later, began to bleed with Ava becoming distressed in the womb, the court was told. But doctors delayed the decision to carry out an emergency caesarean for one hour and 25 minutes. When it was finally performed, the baby was born in a ‘very poor condition’ and despite resuscitation, died shortly after.

After last month’s inquest, Mrs Charlton and her husband, who works in graphics, will finally be able to register Ava’s birth.

The couple, who later had another daughter, Isla, now two, said they were devastated by the hospital’s blunder. ‘It has taken us years to get to this stage and we feel quite bitter it took this long for the hospital to concede they had made a mistake,’ said Mrs Charlton. ‘They have destroyed my life and took my child away. It is utterly devastating and has totally changed me.

‘This is not the first case where the hospital has been forced to face questions about its practice of declaring babies “stillborn”, thereby avoiding an inquest.

‘It is particularly distressing that our baby would still be with us today had the caesarean taken place earlier. Hopefully the verdict will be acted upon so other parents will be spared the pain we have had to endure simply to discover the truth.’

As a direct result of Ava’s death, the coroner has ruled that all stillbirths and neonatal deaths in his area will have to reported so he can decide if an inquest should be called.

Hospital medical director Martin Wetherill said maternity services had been significantly improved, ensuring such an incident should never occur again. He added: ‘Clinical staff made an error in classifying Ava as a stillbirth.’ The hospital has apologised for the ‘unimaginable distress’ caused by her death.

Its maternity services were given a clean bill of health by inspectors in April 2011.

SOURCE

‘My mother was told she had 48 hours to live… but she didn’t look that bad’

1980s TV cook Rustie Lee accuses hospital of putting her mother, 87, on Death Pathway

TV star Rustie Lee has accused a Birmingham hospital putting her mother on a Liverpool Care Pathway-style plan – after wrongly warning her family she was dying.

Eugenie Edwards, 87, was admitted to City Hospital on October 13 with a chest infection. Within hours Rustie says she was told her mum had just 48 hours to live, as she was suffering from heart and kidney failure.

The family were then told the grandmother-of-three was being put on a pathway plan for end-of-life patients, where medication can be reduced.

Yet angry TV chef Rustie, famous for her appearances in the 1980s breakfast show TV-am, refused permission after insisting her mother was not dying – and six days later a recovered Mrs Edwards was discharged from hospital. The pensioner, who was diagnosed with dementia five years ago, is now back at her nursing home in Ladywood, Birmingham.

TV cook Rustie told the Birmingham Mail: ‘When I saw my mum in hospital she did seem poorly, but not as if she was about to pass away. In fact, she didn’t look close to that.

‘Yet we were told she had 24 to 48 hours to live and was about to be put on this pathway. I was only told about the plan when I went over to see the nurses to ask for painkillers for my mum. I was so shocked to be told she was on some pathway. I told the doctor this was not going to happen.’

Rustie says the nightmare began when her mum was rushed to the hospital from her care home with a suspected chest infection.

She says she was later told the grandmother had only hours to live and she was not given food, liquid or painkillers because nurses stated she could not swallow.

Just 24 hours after being admitted, relatives say they were told Mrs Edwards was being put on a Supportive Care Pathway (SCP).

It is based on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), which is designed to ease the suffering of the terminally ill in their final hours. But some families claim their relatives have been put on the LCP without their knowledge or permission – with a number making recoveries.

The SCP includes cutting back medication and is also for end-of-life care, but is not deemed as harsh as the LCP. It is currently being used in several wards at hospitals run by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, including City Hospital.

Rustie told how she and other relatives had rushed to the hospital to see her sick mother, who went on to make a dramatic improvement.

‘She was on oxygen, a drip and a machine was draining liquid off her lungs,’ she said. ‘I was told she was unable to eat or swallow. However, when she came round I asked her if she was hungry and she said ‘yes’. ‘I got a yoghurt from the nurses and fed it to her. She ate it quite easily and looked as though she could have polished off a lot more at the time.

‘I stayed with her until 2am, while a cousin spent the night with her in the room. ‘By the morning she was a lot brighter. I told my son to go and get her some food. He came back with sandwiches, fruit and yoghurt drinks, which she happily ate and drank.

‘Afterwards she seemed so much better and was even singing and dancing in her bed. ‘She had improved by 95 per cent and we definitely didn’t think she was at death’s door. She was back to her usual self.’

But Rustie was left shocked by what she was allegedly told next. ‘I was massaging her foot and she said it was hurting. I said I’d go and sort out some painkillers for her,’ she said.

‘The nurses told me that she couldn’t have any more tablets as she couldn’t swallow, but she would be put on morphine and another drug when her pain became really bad.

‘I couldn’t understand why they were saying that as mum was so much better. That’s when a nurse told me they were putting her on a care pathway. I had never heard of this before.’

The doctor was called and Mrs Edwards’ care was discussed again with Rustie and a family member. The former breakfast TV star said: “I told the doctor how mum was feeling better after we had fed her, but again I was told she was being put on a pathway.

‘I said the family did not want her to be put on this pathway and that we wanted her back at her home, as we were not ready for her to die. We were so terrified and frightened for her, that we didn’t leave her side.’

In fact just a few hours later, on October 15, Mrs Edwards was moved to a ward and was no longer in a critical condition.

‘My mum was not in so much pain that she was reeling about on the bed needing morphine,’ said Rustie. ‘She may have been quite ill when she was admitted, but she drastically improved and there was no need to put her on a pathway.’

She added: ‘We should not be allowing hospitals to put people on a pathway if they are not critically ill. By the time my mum was discharged she could walk around and was eating fine.’

A City Hospital spokeswoman said: ‘The Supportive Care Pathway does not mean that patients are not fed or actively treated; it is a high standard of care for people with a life-limiting illness, which has been tailor-made for use in our hospitals and the community.

‘It is designed to meet a patient’s individual needs and ensures the care we give is focused on relieving symptoms and meeting a patient’s physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs. Mrs Edwards was very ill when she was admitted to our Medical Assessment Unit. ‘She was put on the Supportive Care Pathway and this was explained to her family.

‘Our records show that she was offered food to eat at this time. When we became aware of the family’s concerns regarding the pathway, she was taken off at their request.

‘Mrs Edwards was transferred to another ward for her recovery where a senior sister and doctor again spoke to Eugenie’s family to further explain the pathway and reassure them.

‘We are sorry to hear that Mrs Edwards’ family were unhappy with aspects of her care. ‘Our aim is to address concerns when they happen, however, if the family feel they would like more clarification we are more than happy for them to contact us to discuss this further.’

SOURCE

Teachers ‘to blame’ for lack of ambition among pupils — says British Liberal politician

There’s some truth in that but liberal restrictions on school discipline are a prior factor

Teachers are encouraging many children to believe that top exam grades, places at elite universities and professional careers are all beyond them, an education minister has said.

David Laws attacked the “depressingly low expectations” that he said are holding back children in many parts of the country and preventing them from getting ahead in life.

Even in relatively affluent parts of the country, schools and careers advisers are failing to encourage children to “reach for the stars,” instead pushing them to settle for middling exam results and careers with “medium-ranked” local employers, he said.

Mr Laws’s remarks to The Daily Telegraph are his first comments on education policy since his return to the Government in last month’s reshuffle.

“Teachers, colleges, careers advisers have a role and a responsibility to aim for the stars and to encourage people to believe they can reach the top in education and employment,” Mr Laws said. “That’s not happening as much as it should do at the moment.”

Mr Laws, a Liberal Democrat and close ally of Nick Clegg, has ministerial posts at the Department for Education and the Cabinet Office and holds the right to attend Cabinet meetings.

The Lib Dems are pushing measures to increase social mobility, making it easier for people to get ahead regardless of their background.

Alan Milburn, the Coalition’s social mobility adviser, last week criticised policies such as the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance that was paid to pupils from low-income homes.

Mr Laws, a Cambridge University graduate, said that social mobility was not simply a question of wealth, arguing that even children from comfortable backgrounds are being held back by low expectations and a lack of ambition.

The minister, a former City banker who represents Yeovil in Somerset, said many children are effectively being taught that high-flying careers are not possible for them.

“Even in my own constituency, Yeovil, which would not be regarded as one of the deprivation blackspots of the country, most young people would regard going into investment banking as almost leaving the country, because it’s a different world,” he said.

“They will often be encouraged to think it is beyond them.”

In many parts of the country outside London, the minister suggested, children without family connections believe that careers such as banking, law and journalism are closed.

Instead of aiming high, “there are too many young people who think that the two or three big employers in their local town are the limit of their aspiration”.

Low career expectations can lead children to get lower exam grades than they could achieve, he suggested. “If your expectation in a school is that you only need a modest set of qualifications because that’s all you need to work for the local employer, which you think is the best job you could do, that’s a huge cap not just on social mobility, it is a cap on achievement in examinations,” he said.

“If you think it is really important to get three A*s to get into Cambridge and the City, you will be much more motivated than if you think you just need three Cs to go into the local medium-ranked employer.”

As well as telling teachers and schools to raise children’s expectations, Mr Laws said that employers from “more privileged” industries should also do more to encourage applications from people of all backgrounds.

Mr Milburn last week produced figures showing that the 20 per cent of teenagers from privileged backgrounds are seven times more likely to get into top universities than the poorest 40 per cent.

Some campaigners want universities to change their entry policies to admit poor children with lower grades than their better-off counterparts. That is rejected by many Conservative MPs, who say that ministers should focus more on improving the performance of the state schools attended by poorer children.

Mr Laws suggested that some teachers in state schools are still discouraging pupils from targeting places at Oxbridge and other top-ranked universities.

“I still find, talking to youngsters across the country, the same depressing low expectations I found when I went to university in the 1980s,” he added.

“The students you met, who were often the first students from their school who had been to Oxbridge, said they were often encouraged by teachers and others to think that Oxford or Cambridge were not the places for them and they should think of somewhere more modest.”

Mr Laws last week returned to his former employer, JP Morgan, which is donating £1.1 million to Achieve Together, a charity that helps state schools attract and retain highly qualified teachers.

SOURCE

British Minister signals end of the wind farm: We can’t pepper turbines across the country – enough is enough, declares energy minister

The relentless march of onshore wind farms is at an end, a minister declared last night.

Insisting ‘enough is enough’, John Hayes said turbines had been ‘peppered around the country’ with little or no regard for local opinion. He said existing sites and those in the pipeline would be enough to meet green commitments with no need for more. ‘Even if a minority of what’s in the system is built we are going to reach our 2020 target,’ he said. ‘I’m saying enough is enough.’

Mr Hayes told the Mail he had commissioned research on the impact of wind turbines on the landscape and whether they drive down house prices.

He has also asked scientists to examine noise complaints and more sinister suggestions that the turbines endanger military aircraft by blocking radar signals.

The intervention by Mr Hayes, who became energy minister in last month’s reshuffle, will delight 100-plus fellow Tory MPs who have urged David Cameron to take a more sceptical approach to onshore wind power. It does however risk a clash with the Liberal Democrats, who are enthusiastic advocates of renewable energy.

Mr Hayes suggested the controversy over turbines was giving other sources of renewable power – such as offshore wind, solar and tidal power – a bad name.

‘The onshore wind debate is skewing the whole debate, which is not good for the Government, not good for people and not good for the renewables lobby,’he told the Mail.

‘We can no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities. I can’t single-handedly build a new Jerusalem but I can protect our green and pleasant land.

‘Firstly, I have asked the planning minister to look again at the relationship between these turbines and the landscape. ‘It seems extraordinary to have allowed them to be peppered around the country without due regard for the interests of the local community or their wishes.

‘We have issued a call for evidence on wind. That is about cost but also about community buy-in. We need to understand communities’ genuine desires.’

Mr Hayes said policy should not be based on some ‘bourgeois left article of faith’. ‘These things are about the people and I am the people’s minister,’ he added. ‘I want to look at a broader analysis of the effects – I mean house price values, and other quality of life issues. I want to look particularly at noise, so I have asked the Institute of Acoustics to look at the noise issue from a completely independent perspective.

‘There is a case where people had to move from their family farm because of noise. It is very often the case that local authorities don’t have the wherewithal to address these planning issues.’

Mr Hayes said defence ministers had agreed to investigate claims of radar interference from the spinning blades.

The Government has set a target of increasing the amount of power generated by onshore wind farms to 13 gigawatts by 2020.

But in an indication of a shift in Government policy, ministers announced this summer that the subsidy for onshore wind power generation would be cut by 10 per cent this year.

Approvals for onshore wind farms – around 3,800 turbines are in operation – have however reached record levels, according to figures published yesterday.

RenewableUK, the wind industry trade body, said in a statement: ‘For the first time in five years, the UK is seeing a rise in the amount of UK capacity approved at a local level.’
Controversial: The Energy Minister said onshore wind farms are turning people against other sources of renewable energy such as offshore alternatives and solar power

There was a 15 per cent increase in approval rates for smaller onshore projects with capacity of less than 50 megawatts last year compared with the previous year, it said.

Applications for new wind farms have to be made to councils, and around a half are refused. But under the existing system, energy companies often win on appeal to the planning inspectorate.

Campaigners took heart from a court ruling in May, in which villagers in Hemsby, on the edge of the Norfolk Broads, succeeded in blocking four 350ft turbines after a judge agreed their right to preserve their landscape was more important than renewable energy targets.

Tory MP Chris Heaton Harris, who has led calls for a rethink on wind power, said of Mr Hayes’s remarks: ‘This is a huge step forward. These awful turbines do nothing for the environment – they barely reduce CO2 – they force up energy bills and put more people into fuel poverty.

‘It’s about time the Government listened in this way. Communities will be delighted that they may now be spared the torment they have seen others go through when turbines go up.’

Former Conservative Chancellor Lord Lawson, an arch-sceptic on climate change, said: ‘I would welcome the minister’s statements. I would hope they would translate into a moratorium. An additional problem is that wind power is one of the most expensive forms of generating electricity there is.

‘At a time when there is so much concern both from households and industry about the cost of energy, that too should be a decisive argument against going this way.’

SOURCE

In Defense of English Civilization

Sean Gabb indulges in some fantasy

We know that England is under attack, and from its own ruling class. Before we can speak of defense, we need to understand the reasons for the attack.

This is not an attack on tradition in itself, but the unfolding of an alternative tradition.

Part of what defines a nation is the relationship between its ruling class and the people at large. Our historic self-perception as English is based on the relationship between rulers and ruled that existed before 1914, and, though to a fading degree, for a couple of generations thereafter.

The English people in 1914 were capable of fully democratic self-government. They had the necessary cultural and genetic cohesiveness for a democratic system not to descend into chaos or majoritarian tyranny.

Democracy, however, was not necessary, as the oligarchy of hereditary landlords who ruled England had absolutely identified itself with the nation. Every interest group had its place within the nation, and there was a place for all.

After 1914, the old ruling class was destroyed—the heavy casualties of both World Wars, high taxes on static wealth, demands for a fraudulent kind of democracy, and so forth. The old ruling class went down before all this, because it never tried to evade the duties that came with national identification.

The new ruling class is a coalition of politicians, bureaucrats, educators, lawyers, media people, and associated business interests that draws income and status from an enlarged and activist state. It does not own the means of production but is content merely to control them. Its general desire is to avoid the entanglements that destroyed the old ruling class. It wishes to avoid more than token identification with the English people at large.

“Conservatives, after all, should not wish to copy the mistakes of the French revolutionaries.”
The present—and so far the most successful—scheme of liberation is to make power opaque and unaccountable by shifting it upwards to various multinational treaty organizations—e.g., the EU, WTO, NATO, etc.—and to Balkanize England into groupings more suspicious of each other than willing to combine against the ruling class.

State-sponsored mass immigration has been the most obvious evidence of this desire. Filling the country with people of different colors and with different ways, which do not like each other, and do not like and are not liked by the natives, is ideal Balkanization. But one of the purposes of political correctness is also to divide the native population—women against men, homosexuals against Christians, and so forth.

The final desire is for the mass of ordinary people to be dispossessed and impoverished and unable to challenge structures of exploitation that channel fantastic wealth to a free-floating class of masters.

If we want to avoid this, we must destroy the ruling class now. Its weakness is its reliance on the state as source or enabler of its income. Conservatives, therefore, must seize control of the state and disestablish the ruling class.

If we want to win the battle for this country, we need to take advice from the Marxists. These are people whose ends were evil where not impossible. But they were experts in the means to their ends. They knew more than we have ever thought about the seizure and retention of power. If, therefore, we ever achieve a government of conservatives and seek to bring about the irreversible transfer of power to ordinary people, we should take to heart what Marx said in 1871 after the failure of the Paris Commune:

…the next attempt of the French Revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it, and this is the precondition for every real people’s revolution….

The meaning of this is that we should not try to work with the ruling class. We should not try to jolly it along. We should not try fighting it on narrow fronts. We must regard it as the enemy, and we must smash it.

On the first day of our government of conservatives, we should close down the BBC. We should take it off the air. We should disclaim its copyrights. We should throw all its staff into the street and cancel their pensions. We should not try to privatize the BBC. This would simply be to transfer the voice of our enemy from the public to the private sector, where it might be more effective in its opposition. We must shut it down—and shut it down at once.

We should do the same with much of the administration. The Foreign Office, much of the Home Office, the Commission for Racial Equality, or whatever it is now called, anything to do with health and safety and planning and child protection—I mean much of the public sector—these should be shut down.

If at the end of your first month in power, we have not shut down half of the state, we are failing. If we have shut down half the state, we have made a step in the right direction and are ready for still further cuts.

Let me emphasize that the purpose of these cuts would not be to save money for the taxpayers or lift an immense weight of bureaucracy from their backs—though they would do this. The purpose is to destroy the ruling class before it can destroy us. We must tear up the web of power and personal connections that make these people effective as an opposition to radical change. If we do this, we shall face no more clamor than if we moved slowly and halfheartedly.

One obvious sign of success will be when depensioned enemies like Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson are seen serving on the cheese counter in Sainsbury.

More HERE

British police overwhelmed by 4,000 ‘petty squabbles’ on Facebook and Twitter, with three arrests a day for offensive messages

Police forces across Britain are being forced to deal with petty squabbles on Facebook, Twitter and other social network sites every day when they could be tackling more serious crimes.

Officers say they are wasting valuable time and resources tackling internet users directing abuse at each other.

In most cases, police simply tell victims to delete their tormentors from their networks, but the Crown Prosecution Service says a ‘few dozen’ more serious incidents have led to court, with the figure growing rapidly in recent months.

Internet trolls made sick comments about pop singer Adele’s baby boy within hours of his birth, and Tom Daley and diving partner Peter Waterfield were called ‘team HIV’ on Twitter by Welsh Premier League footballer Daniel Thomas, who was arrested but escaped prosecution because the duo did not press charges

New figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday show that at least three arrests are being made every day for sending offensive messages via phones and computers, including people harassing ex-partners by text message and making hoax threats as well as comments on social media.

An officer from Essex who asked not to be named said: ‘I dread to think how many hours are spent on Facebook jobs. If you don’t do at least one a day it’s been a very quiet day.’

He told how one man repeatedly called to claim that his ex-girlfriend was setting up fake accounts pretending to be him on Facebook, which has 900 million members worldwide.

When officers told the man to simply stop using Facebook, he replied: ‘But then I can’t see what they are saying about me.’

A young woman told police in Dorset she had received death threats on Facebook. But when officers investigated, they found she had actually threatened to spread malicious rumours about another woman, who had replied: ‘I hope you die then.’

An officer from the West Midlands told how he had advised someone complaining of Facebook abuse to ‘unfriend’ their abuser, only to be told: ‘But I won’t have as many friends.’

Others expected police to have a ‘magic wand’ allowing them to access all Facebook accounts and find out who was behind offensive messages.

An officer from North Wales said: ‘You will always have one or two serious incidents of harassment and bullying on Facebook and the like but for the most part it’s petty stuff.

It takes up a lot of time and the normal result is advice from us to all parties to grow up.’

Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: ‘We have concerns that we don’t have the resources to police everything that’s said on the internet.

We can’t have people getting upset in a one-off situation and involving the police.

I do think this could be the thin end of the wedge. If we show too much willingness and get involved in every squabble, we’re setting ourselves up to keep doing this because it will be expected.’

He said it was right for police to investigate cases involving homophobia or racism, but added: ‘We shouldn’t be dealing with individual squabbles.’

The laws most commonly used to prosecute anyone who posts offensive material online, or ‘trolls’ who goad public figures and victims’ relatives, make it illegal to send a grossly offensive or obscene message using an electronic network, and apply even if it is sent privately to only one person or just repeats what another has said.

Statistics from 22 out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales show there were at least 4,098 arrests under the relevant laws between the start of 2009 and the middle of 2012, averaging three a day.

More than 2,000 people were either charged or given an out-of-court fine or caution.

SOURCE

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A third of patients say their GPs are so rushed they are worried they will be misdiagnosed

For most patients the GP is their first port of call when they fall ill. But a survey has revealed one in three think their local doctors are now so busy that they could be misdiagnosed.

The poll suggests these fears are well-placed with a quarter saying they had been wrongly diagnosed or knew someone who had been over the past five years.

However, only 56 per cent of those currently registered with a GP said they would be confident enough to challenge their doctor if they thought they were wrong.

Young adults were surprisingly even less likely to challenge their GP, with 64 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds saying they wouldn’t feel confident enough to speak up.

‘We’re all aware that GPs are under pressure; they are often overstretched and despite the level of skill that exists in this field, probably only have the capacity retain around 200 conditions and diseases in their memory out of the many thousands that exist, said Jason Maude, founder of Isabel Healthcare, which commissioned the survey of more than 2,000 adults.

‘This research suggests that there is a need to support and better equip both GPs and patients to help achieve a quicker and more accurate diagnosis through more effective communication and collaboration.’

The average GP consultation in England lasts just seven minutes, so to save time doctors advise patients to try get to the point quickly and be truthful – however embarrassing this may feel.

They also suggest you do some research at home but to arrive with a one-page summary of your findings rather than reams of information.

To this end Isabel Healthcare has developed an online symptom checker that allows patients to research possible diagnoses based on their symptoms.

The designers say the checker works by searching a database of 6,000 diseases and is far more accurate than Google in predicting an illness.

So searching for the symptoms – ‘itchiness’, ‘back ache’ and ‘red rash’ suggests drug allergy, contact dermatitis and Lyme Disease. Clicking on the condition takes you to other online sources with extra information, helping you to eliminate unlikely causes.

Sir Graeme Catto, President of the College of Medicine and former President of the GMC, said: ‘During my time as President of the GMC, I saw many cases of unfortunate diagnostic error.

‘With so many conditions and diseases that can be easily missed when assessing patients, there is a critical need for modern technology such as the Isabel Symptom Checker to help patients better understand the possible diagnoses that could be causing their symptoms and work in collaboration with their GPs.’

SOURCE

NHS wastes £7million on ‘sham’ consultation over A&E closures…as we reveal SIX more casualty units to be cut

NHS bureaucrats have spent £7 million on a consultation to close four accident and emergency departments – enough to keep at least one of them running for a year.

The extraordinary sum, described as ‘an expensive PR exercise’, came from taxpayers’ pockets despite there being huge opposition to the planned closures in North-West London.

It was spent in just 18 months and included nearly £3 million in fees to management consultancy firm McKinsey to work out the financial case for the closures.

Another £650,000 was paid to public relations company The London Communications Agency. The huge budget comes even though plans to close A&Es in the region are driven partly by financial concerns.

Campaigners have reacted furiously after learning the size of the consultation bill, which was revealed following a Freedom of Information request to NHS North West London.

Dr Onkar Sahota, chairman of the Save Our Hospitals campaign, said: ‘I am truly appalled. ‘Not only are NHS NW London proposing to shut some of our most-needed services, but they are spending over £3 million of our money on McKinsey consultants.

‘They are spending taxpayers’ money on this firm so that they can tell NHS NW London that local residents do not want it to happen. ‘I could have told them that for free.

‘We are in a ridiculous position where our money is being wasted on a sham consultation so that NHS managers and the Government can feel better about themselves.’

The proposals involve closing four of nine casualty units in the area and a formal period of public consultation ran from July until earlier this month.

The sum paid to McKinsey – which stands to make millions from the reforms by carrying out consulations around the country – was for staff to work out the financial cost and savings of the proposals.

The London Communications Agency was paid to distribute half a million leaflets, put adverts in local newspapers and organise meetings with about 200 affected individuals and organisations.

The money also included nearly £1.5 million for an office space and £25,000 on ‘sundries’ – which NHS North West London has not been able to explain in detail.

The whole budget for ‘communications’ rose from £231,000 during the build-up to the consultation in 2011/12 to £1.3 million during the six months from April 2012.

This includes producing 100,000 copies of an 80-page consultation form that was filled in and returned by just 16,000 people.

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Residents will want to know that the consultation will genuinely listen to their views and it isn’t just an expensive PR exercise that they are paying for.’

McKinsey worked with the last Labour Government on health, recommending in 2009 that the NHS cut ten per cent of its staff.

Since the Coalition took office, it has been involved in an unprecedented number of projects.

Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: ‘This level of spending appears totally excessive at a time when patients are telling our helpline every day about increasing waiting times, the rationing of treatments and the closures of frontline services.’

In a statement, NHS North West London said: ‘The cost of this programme works out at less than £4 per person for the population of NW London, and represents just 0.2 per cent of the total £3.4 billion spent on healthcare there every year.

This programme will save hundreds of lives – and the value of that is incalculable.’

A Department of Health spokesman said the local NHS ‘must always have regard to value for money, and that money spent on management consultants is money not being spent on frontline patient care’.

SOURCE

More on anti-Branson bias in the British bureaucracy

Envy of success is very British — and Mr Branson is very successful

The Transport Department was biased against Sir Richard Branson’s bid to continue running the West Coast mainline, a damning interim report into the fiasco reveals today.

The independent investigation into the scandal highlights ‘significant errors’, ‘weak governance’, and a ‘flawed process’ in which ‘bidders were treated inconsistently’.

The contract to run the West Coast mainline franchise for 13 years was originally awarded to First Group over Virgin.

However, a legal challenge by Sir Richard cited significant flaws in the process forced the Government to abandon the decision and re-run the bidding.

The findings vindicate charges by Virgin and others revealed in the Daily Mail that there was an in-built bias against the Virgin bid which has been characterised as ‘ABB’, or ‘Anyone But Branson’…..

Derogatory emails about Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains were allegedly sent between civil servants.

The messages were between a dozen staff at the Department for Transport, which has been accused of allowing the development of a culture characterised as ‘ABB – Anyone But Branson’.

The Government awarded the new £7billion franchise to FirstGroup, but cancelled it before the planned handover in December after Sir Richard’s Virgin group, which offered £700million less, made a successful legal challenge on the grounds that the Government ‘got its sums wrong’.

An insider revealed: ‘There is electronic e-mail traffic between the officials. In some of them Virgin is referred to in derogatory terms. Some people sent these messages, others received them.’

Virgin executives had long been concerned about the perception of an ‘anti-Virgin’ bias and culture within the department characterised as ‘Anyone But Branson’.

Industry insiders said Whitehall officials – some of whom had worked for more traditional train operators – disliked the firm’s maverick approach.

There was allegedly deep resentment when Virgin renegotiated the terms of the West Coast franchise in 2006 on terms which ‘nailed them to the floor’.

‘Some people in the department felt they were stitched up,’ said one source. ‘It’s a catalogue of calamities.’

Three civil servants have been suspended by the Departmernt as a result of the fiasco.

SOURCE

Half of all burglars are not sent to prison in Britain, even though most have many prior convictions

Burglars with a string of previous convictions are being spared jail, prompting calls for Ministers to toughen up on sentencing.

New figures show the average burglar now has 12 break-ins to their name, the highest number ever recorded. More than 3,000 convicted last year had been found guilty at least 20 times before.

Despite this, half the burglars were given fines or community sentences rather than being sent to prison.

The revelation has led to demands that the Government honours its promise to get tough on law and order, after Prime Minister David Cameron encouraged homeowners to ‘bash a burglar’ and said all community sentences should have a ‘punitive’ element.

The statistics were uncovered by Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, who said: ‘Anyone who has ever had their home burgled knows the terrible pain and misery this violation of private space causes.

The figures I have obtained confirm that the vast majority of burglars have committed numerous previous crimes, often with inappropriate sentences handed down. This will rightly shock Mail on Sunday readers.

‘Victims of burglary will ask why our criminal justice system is failing them. But for 29 months of David Cameron’s Government, all we’ve seen are stunts, smokescreens and rehashed announcements.

‘We won’t stop burglaries by cutting police officers and reducing the power of judges.’

Burglary has been high on the political agenda for the past two months since a couple were arrested for fighting back against intruders who broke in to their isolated cottage in Leicestershire.

Andy Ferrie and his wife Tracey spent almost three days in police cells after Mr Ferrie blasted the gang with a shotgun, but the threat of charges was eventually dropped. The case prompted a vow by Conservative Ministers to clarify the law to give householders the right to defend their property against intruders unless they used ‘grossly disproportionate’ force.

The most senior judge in England and Wales, the Lord Chief Justice, has said burglary is a crime against the person as well as their property because it destroys victims’ peace of mind. But there was controversy last month when Judge Peter Bowers, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, told a burglar he would ‘take a chance’ and spare him jail, adding that it took a ‘huge amount of courage’ to break into someone’s house.

Figures released to Parliament by the Ministry of Justice show just how few burglars are jailed, despite many of them being career criminals. Of the burglary cases in 2011 where offenders were sentenced, just over half were sent to prison.

Others were fined, given absolute or conditional discharges, or community or suspended sentences.

In total, 3,437 burglars sentenced last year had more than 20 previous convictions to their names – twice as many as a decade ago.

Although thousands of burglars were spared prison, the total number of houses being broken into has fallen by half in recent decades, mainly as a result of better home security, dropping to 245,317 in 2011-12.

Nick de Bois, the Conservative MP for Enfield North and a member of the Justice Select Committee, supported Mr Khan’s call for tougher measures. He said: ‘The figures show that soft-touch sentencing for repeat offenders does not work.

‘If a criminal is given a second chance and goes on to burgle people’s homes again, they should face a long jail sentence.

‘Community sentences and short jail terms are not working.’

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘We are tackling the shamefully high reoffending rates by introducing a rehabilitation revolution.

‘Breaking in to someone’s home is a serious crime, and burglars face sentences of up to 14 years, or life sentences for aggravated burglary. There is also a mandatory minimum three-year sentence for offenders convicted of a third domestic burglary.

‘Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the independent judges.’

SOURCE

War on ‘holiday camp’ jail perks as British Prisons Minister calls for privileges to be earned through hard work and good behaviour

Outrageous prisoner perks look likely to be axed in a shake-up of cushy jail rules.

A full review – the first for more than a decade – will examine the lax regimes which allow inmates to lounge in their cells all day, watching daytime TV or playing video games.

Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright told the Daily Mail he was worried too many inmates were routinely handed ‘privileges’ they should have to earn through good behaviour and hard work.

He said: ‘I want to ensure that the public have confidence in the prison system. ‘It is crucial that they are assured that any privileges earned in prison are gained through hard work and appropriate behaviour.’ ‘I am looking closely at the policy around the incentives scheme for prisoners, which has not been fully reviewed since 1999.

‘There may be clear and important operational reasons for this policy but I want to be clear that these incentives are pitched at the right level and that they have credibility with the public.’

Currently, prisoners enter jail on a ‘standard’ regime, which automatically gives them certain entitlements, including in-cell television.

They are only bumped down to the basic regime if they step out of line. Each prison devises its own scheme for how privileges are handed out.

Inmates can ‘earn’ entitlements to in-cell television, more visits, higher pay when they work, the right to wear their own clothes and access to their own money. Inmates are offered a string of digital channels, including BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV3, Viva – a music channel – and Film 4. Prisons that are run by private companies, of which there are 11 in England and Wales, may provide Sky TV in prisoners’ cells. Some 4,000 convicts are understood to enjoy the perk.

One option under consideration would be to start inmates on basic and force them to work for extra perks.

The move marks a break from Mr Wright’s disastrous predecessor Crispin Blunt who was pilloried over his decision to allow taxpayer-funded prisoner parties and comedy workshops inside jails.

There have been complaints that prisons have become too soft and young criminals treat them like a ‘holiday camp’.

Brooke Kinsella, the Government’s knife-crime adviser whose 16-year-old brother Ben was stabbed to death in North London, said it was time jails were turned back into ‘places of punishment’.

Edward Boyd, from the think-tank Policy Exchange, says that perks such as free gym use and televisions in cells should be made available only to those inmates who work.

He called for all prisoners to be given access to work and for those who refused to have their privileges downgraded or removed.

Mr Boyd said: ‘Prisons are in desperate need of reform. The cornerstone of reform must be hard work.

‘It will make prison not only a better deterrent for criminals but also a far more successful intervention to stop future criminal behaviour.’

Recently a watchdog warned that too many prisoners were idling in their cells watching daytime TV, while prison workshops were left empty.

Chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick said that on a visit to Britain’s largest jail, Wandsworth prison in south west London, workshop facilities ‘stood almost empty and too many staff appeared indifferent about the prisoners in their care’.

SOURCE

Aspiring British teachers will have to complete tougher English and maths tests BEFORE they start training

Tests for trainee teachers will be radically toughened up to boost the calibre of staff entering schools. A review ordered by Education Secretary Michael Gove found that existing English and maths tests taken by applicants are too easy, with many questions pitched merely at the level of grade D at GCSE.

Changes to make the tests tougher will include a ban on using calculators in the maths test and a new writing exercise in English to assess vocabulary.

All applicants for teacher training will be required to sit the tests, which will be raised to standards equivalent to grade B at GCSE within three years.

Trainees will also have to sit a new reasoning test designed to assess their powers of logic and deduction. Verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning will be examined.

Good marks in the tests may be linked to higher bursaries under proposals being considered by ministers. Top graduates currently qualify for training incentives of up to £20,000.

Reports from Ofsted inspectors suggest some staff have a poor grasp of their subjects, leading to gaps in children’s knowledge. Yet 98 per cent of teacher trainees pass the current selection tests.

About one in five need to resit at least once in order to pass.

The review panel led by Sally Coates, principal of Burlington Danes Academy in West London, found some questions ‘are not sufficiently demanding, appearing to be in some cases below the level of GCSE grade C’.

In maths, the emphasis was on ‘simple’ calculations. In English, assessment of key skills was excluded.

Passing the numeracy test has been a requirement of Qualified Teacher Status since 2000, and literacy the following year.

Until last month, trainees only sat the tests towards the end of their courses. The new changes will be phased in from next September, with the reasoning test introduced from 2014.

Candidates will be limited to two resits. If they fail three times, they will be barred from applying for teacher training for two years.

SOURCE

British Conservatives’ Nightmare: Monster Power Bills Are A Guaranteed Vote-Loser

Consumers are having to bear the cost of big green subsidies. Rising bills are a guaranteed vote-loser, but the government is forging ahead with policies that make them unavoidable

Vincent De Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, hunched over the microphone, nervously thumbing a sheaf of papers.

“We are on the brink of delivering an infrastructure project similar in scale to the London Olympics,” he told the panel of MPs. “But like all investors in capital-intensive infrastructure projects, we need to have a compelling business case . . . We must be honest. We must expect the unit price of electricity to increase.”

It was not the first time de Rivaz had made a pitch for higher household energy bills. His appearance last week before the Commons energy and climate change committee was the latest in a long-running campaign to secure Britain’s first new nuclear plant in more than two decades.

EDF plans to spend £14 billion on two reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset. The quid pro quo demanded from the government is a guarantee that EDF will be able to charge well over double the current electricity price to ensure it makes money.

Negotiations about the final figure are in their closing stages and there could be an announcement by Christmas.

The nuclear guarantee is one of a raft of new charges being added to household bills. From carbon taxes to solar subsidies, the costs of Britain’s much-vaunted efforts to clean up the energy industry are feeding through to the customer.

It is a point the energy companies, including British Gas and Npower, were at pains to emphasise when they revealed another round of price increases this month. EDF announced a 10.8% rise last week, pushing the average annual dual-fuel bill to £1,334. Cue public outrage.

Seeking to quell the unrest, David Cameron made a rash pledge to force utilities to put households on their lowest-priced deals. John Hayes, the energy minister, quickly softened that stance.

The mixed messages are a sign of the wider conflict in Whitehall. Rising bills are a guaranteed vote-loser, but the government is forging ahead with policies that make them unavoidable.

Consider the case of British Gas. The average annual bill from Britain’s biggest utility rose by £183 between 2007 and 2011. Nearly one-third of that, £56, was a result of green taxes and related government-imposed charges. The rise in low-carbon fees represented a 60% jump — twice the rate of increase in the wholesale gas price, the biggest component of power bills.

That trend is gaining momentum. Andrew Horstead of Utilyx, the energy consultancy, said: “At the moment, about 55% of the bill is the commodity price, while the rest is green taxes and related costs. By 2020, you’ll see those percentages flip as the new charges feed through.”

The government’s controversial solar power subsidy is a good example. Greg Barker, the climate change minister, was forced into an embarrassing U-turn last year after the government was overwhelmed by interest in the feed-in tariff, which guarantees rates for electricity produced by solar panels.

Barker slashed the payout by more than 70% for large installations and by half for the smaller ones found on homes. Several solar panel producers and installers have sued the government over the cut. Even so, tens of thousands of people got in before the change took effect.

The upshot is that the government is locked in to paying hundreds of millions in solar subsidies for the next 25 years. That is the equivalent of an extra £2.19 on the £45 per megawatt hour (MWh) wholesale power price — a charge that did not exist a few years ago.

There are others. In April, the carbon price floor will kick in. This new emissions tax will require industrial plants, manufacturers and power producers to pay at least £15.70 for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit. The levy will rise every year, reaching £30 by 2020.

For householders, the carbon floor will translate into an estimated £2 per MWh of electricity. By 2020, that will rise to at least £14, according to Utilyx.

Next year will also see the main subsidy for pricey renewable technologies such as wind and biomass — renewable obligation certificates — rise slightly to £8.70 per MWh.

All of the above, of course, will be added to bills on top of any additional surge in the gas price, which has risen by a third in the past two years.

The government has done its best to play down the impact. Indeed, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has predicted the measures will actually lead to savings. It argues that widespread implementation of energy efficiency measures will reduce demand and therefore bills.

More HERE

Blackout Britain is back

Memories of WWII. Now it’s the Green Nazis behind it

Huge swathes of Britain are being plunged into darkness as more and more streetlights are switched off by councils and roads authorities. Lights are being turned off on motorways and major roads, in town centres and residential streets, and on footpaths and cycle ways, as councils try to save money on energy bills and meet carbon emission targets. The switch-off begins as early as 9pm.

They are making the move despite concerns from safety campaigners and the police that it would lead to an increase in road accidents and crime.

The full extent of the blackout can be disclosed following an investigation by The Sunday Telegraph – which comes on the day that clocks moved back an hour, making it dark earlier in the evening – and found that:

* 3,080 miles of motorways and trunk roads in England are now completely unlit;

* a further 47 miles of motorway now have no lights between midnight and 5am, including one of Britain’s busiest stretches of the M1, between Luton and Milton Keynes;

* out of 134 councils which responded to a survey, 73% said they had switched off or dimmed some lights or were planning to;

* all of England’s 27 county councils have turned off or dimmed street lamps in their areas.

The vast majority of councils have chosen to turn lights off at night, at times when they say there is less need for them, while others have installed lamps which can be dimmed.

Local authorities say the moves helps reduce energy bills, at a time when energy prices are continuing to rise. Several of the big energy companies have unveiled price hikes in recent weeks, including British Gas, npower and EDF Energy – which this week said it was increasing its standard variable prices for gas and electricity customers by 10%.

Some councils expect to save hundreds of thousands of pounds by turning off lights at night or converting them to dimmer switches.

However some councils admit they may not see savings for another four or five years because of the cost of installing new lights, dimmer switches and complex control systems.

And some councils – as well as the Highways Agency, responsible for motorways and major A roads – say that the lights are being turned off to meet “green” targets to cut carbon emissions, by reducing electricity use.

Critics say that spending money to meet the targets is a poor use of public funds in a time of recession.

The increasing black-out was criticised last night by safety and motoring organisations, who said the economic and environmental benefits were being over-stated and warned that less street lighting would lead to more accidents and more crime.

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “The presence of lighting not only reduces the risk of traffic accidents but also their severity. Surveys have show that the public are in favour of street lighting as a way of improving road safety and that, if anything, it needs to be improved in some areas.

“There are economic and environmental reasons why some organisations may wish to reduce the amount of lighting. However there are safety reasons why lighting needs to be available.”

Paul McClenaghan, commercial director at Halfords, said: “Poor lighting or none at all can make it very difficult for motorists to see hazards or objects clearly at night. Added to this Government figures show that road accidents increase in the week after the clocks change, so it is clear that extra vigilance is needed at this time of the year, from motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.”

Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said: “We do know that most accidents happen in the dark, its also comforting for people, especially if they arrive back from somewhere in the night, when they have got a late train. There are also suggestions that it increases crime. So it may save money in terms of energy but then you have to look at the cost in terms of security, safety and accidents, it may actually be more. We have even heard that some milkmen are having more trips and falls, so it has had some implications you might not think about.

“Motorway drivers don’t like changing situations, from light to dark and dark to light, but I don’t think we would argue for no lighting at all. It is extremely comforting for drivers, especially in bad weather.”

The switch-off of motorway lights means that 70 per cent of the network is now unlit at night. Sections of the M1, M2, M27, M4, M48, M5, M54, M58, M6, M65 and M66 are now unlit from midnight.

One of the sections of the M1 is a 15-mile stretch from just north of Luton to the outskirts of Milton Keyns, one of the heaviest-used sections of any british road.

The Highways Agency said the full-switch off had saved it £400,000 last year, while reducing carbon emissions, and said it planned further blackouts.

Meanwhile 98 councils said they have switched off or dimmed lights, or planned to in the future.

In Shropshire, 12,500 – 70 per cent of the area’s lights – are now switched off between midnight and 5.30am, while Derbyshire County Council plans to turn off 40,000 lights at night. In Lincolnshire, some are turned off from as early as 9pm.

Leicestershire County Council expects to save £800,000 a year in energy bills by adapting one third of the country’s 68,000 street lights so that they can be dimmed or turned off at night.

Caerphilly in Wales no longer lights industrial estates overnight and Bradford dims 1,800 of its 58,000 street lights between 9.30pm and 5.30am.

However Worcestershire County Council postponed plans to switch off and dim lights after it found it would cost more money to implement the scheme than it would save. The authority currently pays £2 million a year to run 52,000 street lights but it found that to reduce that bill by £600,000 a year it would need to invest £3.4 million first. It is now running a trial to dim some lights before a final decision is made.

In many areas councils have received complaints from residents.

Caroline Cooney, an actress who complained to Hertfordshire County Council when the lights near her home in Bishop’s Stortford were switched off after midnight, said she faced a “black hole” when she returned home from working in the West End of London. “My street is completely canopied by large tress and I could not see my hand in front of my face,” she said.

Mrs Cooney, who appeared in Gregory’s Girl and who has also appeared in Casualty, said it was putting people in danger and the council was effectively imposing a “midnight curfew on residents who do not want to take the risk of walking home blind”.

“When I came out of the train station it was just like a black hole,” she said. “I simply cannot risk walking home in what is effectively pitch blackness.”

However the council told her it could not “provide tailored street lighting for each individual’s particular needs”

SOURCE

Ban on maverick historian overturned

Holocaust denial is rather mad so making it illegal just gives it credibility. Irving is however an extremely knowledgeable historian (he was the only historian who immediately picked the fake Kujau “Hitler Diaries” as fake) so he rattles people. I am pretty certain that his holocaust denial is just a “stir”, a publicity stunt. A few years ago, he referred to the color of his car as “n*gger brown”, and if that is not a stir, I don’t know what would be. He is a classic stirrer. He would seem to subscribe to the view that there is no such thing as bad publicity

Holocaust denier David Irving has won a surprise victory in a German court – thanks to the EU – that allows him entry into the country next year after overturning a ban that ran for another decade.

Irving, 74, has written a series of books about the Third Reich denying the historical evidence for the Holocaust of more than six million Jews during WW2.

A Munich court convicted and fined him in 1993 on a charge of insulting the memory of the dead after he disputed that the gas chambers at Auschwitz killed hundreds of thousands of Jews.

He told a group of right-wingers in 1993 that the Polish government built the chambers after the war to ‘show tourists.’ The Munich court imposed the entry ban at the same time as he was fined.

Irving applied last year for re-entry, but German authorities replied that he remained banned until 2022.

The administrative tribunal rejected this on Friday, ruling that this ban could not be upheld under European Union rules of free movement. This states: ‘The free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed to European Union EU citizens by the Treaties.

Source

The voice for the voiceless speaks again

As evidenced by his vast viewership, British broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson speaks for a lot of people. And that popularity protects him from Britain’s vicious speech laws

Ed Miliband today accused TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson of ‘belittling’ people with mental health problems.

Mr Mililband said stars were wrong to make light of mental illness, as he unveiled plans to tackle what he called ‘the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age’.

He added: ‘Jeremy Clarkson, who may have at least have acknowledged the tragedy of people who end their own lives, goes on to call them “Johnny Suicides” whose bodies should be left on train tracks rather than delay journeys.

Jeremy Clarkson caused controversy last December after criticising people who kill themselves on train lines. The notorious presenter said that anyone who committed suicide in this way was ‘very selfish’ for traumatising train drivers and inconveniencing commuters.

He went on to label those who killed themselves ‘Johnny Suicide’.
Clarkson claimed that train drivers involved in these cases are ‘traumatised for life’, and complained that passengers would ‘have to sit around for hours’.

And he added that trains should not wait until all the remains of the body had been removed from tracks, saying that drivers should instead ‘get the train moving as soon as possible and let foxy woxy and the birds nibble away at the smaller, gooey parts that are far away and hard to find.’

Source

You may not agree with him but there is no doubt that many people think similarly. Only Clarkson is allowed to say it though. Whether Clarkson actually means it or believes it himself is an open question. He too is an undoubted stirrer, witness his Indian train stunt.

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