Saturday, February 10, 2007

Dentists run out of cash for NHS patients

Patients needing NHS dental treatment before the end of the financial year may not be able to get it, the Department of Health has said. Some dentists have already exhausted their budgets for 2006-07 and will have no money to treat NHS patients until the end of March. The Department of Health blamed the dentists, saying that some had been "speeding through their work" rather than spending more time with patients. Such dentists, it suggested, needed help. "The local NHS is working with these dentists to help improve the service they provide," it said. [What bullsh! Efficient dentists are a problem??]

Patients whose dentists cannot treat them have the option of going to other local dentists who have not run out of money - assuming they have appointments available - or contact their local primary care trust (PCT) for emergency care. The problem has been caused by the introduction of the new dental contract, under which dentists agree to provide a number of "units of dental activity" (UDAs) for a price.

Peter Ward, chief executive of the British Dental Association, said yesterday: "We know, from our own research, that three quarters of dentists don't believe that the UDA target they have been given accurately reflects the amount of treatment they are able to give. "There is a real danger that some dentists will run out of funding to provide care. This is a ridiculous state of affairs when there are dentists who are ready to provide additional care, and patients struggling to access it."

This is the second problem to hit NHS dentistry in as many weeks. The Government overestimated the money that would be paid to dentists by patients, who pay a proportion of treatment costs. Dentists are seeing more patients who are exempt from charges than was expected, so income is down.

A survey by Health Service Journal suggests that in each PCT a small number of practices will face problems. In Bradford and Airedale, for example, 10 out of 73 practices are in danger of completing their contracted work too soon. The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT is monitoring a "small number of practices" to try to ensure that they do not complete their contracts early. In Essex, between 15,000 and 20,000 patients could be affected, according to Tony Clough, secretary of the Essex Dental Committee. He said that some dentists were putting off routine checkups until April.

Potentially worse, he said, were those who were underachieving, by up to 30 per cent. [Fast is no good. Slow is no good. How lucky we are to have bureaucrats who know better than the dentists themselves exactly what dentists should be doing] "Their funding for 2007-09 will be reduced, which means they won't be able to treat as many patients in the future. "Dentists struggling to meet their targets are put off big cases. Dentists are looking in patient's mouths and saying: `what targets should I be achieving today?' It's ludicrous."

The Department of Health said that the guidance given to PCTs about how to deal with the problem was available on its website. "The new contracts were designed to give dentists exactly what they asked for - more time with their patients," a spokesman said. "A small minority of dentists say that they are going to deliver their agreed services before the end of the year. This suggests that they may be speeding through their work."

Andrew Lansley, the Shadow Health Secretary, said: "The Government was relying on its hike in NHS dental charges to pay for changes to the system, but all this has done is force patients to the private sector."


Dutch doctor: why Britain's NHS is failing on superbugs

AS a doctor who has worked in Britain and Holland, Hajo Grundmann could not have a better insight on why the two countries are so far apart in the battle against the superbug MRSA.

While Holland, along with Norway, has emerged as the nation with the lowest rate of MRSA in Europe, Britain has one of the highest, together with Cyprus, Malta and Portugal. In Norway and Holland less than 1% of all bloodstream infections are drug resistant, while in Britain the figure is 44%. Figures compiled by the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System, which Grundmann co-ordinates, show that Britain has higher rates of the superbug than all comparable European countries, including Germany, France and Spain.

Grundmann, a consultant microbiologist, said the differing levels of cleanliness between Britain and Holland were apparent to anyone entering the hospitals. "In Dutch hospitals, you are struck by their modernity and the design of the wards. This translates into the ability to isolate patients in single rooms and there is certainly greater availability of beds," he said. "Levels of cleanliness in Britain are on the low side when compared to other European standards. Cleanliness explains only a proportion of the transmission of MRSA but it is important because it is a marker for diligence and commitment and shows that staff are taking their work seriously."

Grundmann said overcrowded British hospitals were a big contributor to infection. British hospitals have fewer single rooms and so isolating all infected patients is impossible. As a result, patients with MRSA need to be cared for on communal wards and risk passing on the bug. He said the proximity of beds, the high percentage of beds occupied at any given time and the rapid turnover of patients fuelled the high rates of MRSA in British hospitals. "The drive to bring down the waiting lists by increasing the number of interventions and reducing the average length of stay is not helpful. This imposes a lot of work on an already overburdened system and staff and this always results shortcuts in hygiene," he said.

The inability to isolate patients due to lack of space and pressure to have wards open to keep waiting times down contrasts starkly with the drastic action taken to control MRSA outbreaks in Holland. Grundmann recalls an outbreak in a large Dutch hospital in 2003, affecting 28 patients. Managers reacted by closing two wards, including an intensive care unit, and spent 2 million Euros screening all staff and patients. Staff found to be carrying MRSA were sent home.

Ironically, the process of screening patients for MRSA and isolating those found to be carrying the bug, a technique known as "search and destroy", was devised in Britain. But, in the mid-1990s when the MRSA rates began to soar, managers found it impossible to isolate all infected patients - there simply was not enough space. The latest MRSA bloodstream infection figures, released last week, show that there were 3,391 cases in England from April to September 2006, down 5% from the same period in 2005. However, the figures appear to have reached a plateau, with the rate of decline being too slow to meet the target set in November 2004 by John Reid, the then health secretary, of a 50% reduction in MRSA cases before April 2008.

The number of deaths from MRSA in England and Wales has increased from about 50 in 1993 to 1,170 in 2004. The youngest victim was two-day-old Luke Day, who died at Ipswich hospital in 2005 after contracting MRSA. Sheldon Stone, a consultant in healthcare of the elderly at the Royal Free hospital in north London, said Britain needed to set up special isolation wards where all the patients with MRSA are treated. Failing this, he said, special nurses should be designated to look after only MRSA victims, to prevent the bug being transmitted to other patients. The Department of Health said many NHS trusts had been successful in bringing down the rates of MRSA, especially by encouraging staff to wash their hands. [Brilliant! Finally catching up with Lister -- in the 19th century]


We do use books that call Jews 'apes' admits head of British Islamic school

A King Fart Fahd school at work, no less

The principal of an Islamic school has admitted that it uses textbooks which describe Jews as "apes" and Christians as "pigs" and has refused to withdraw them. Dr Sumaya Alyusuf confirmed that the offending books exist after former teacher Colin Cook, 57, alleged that children as young as five are taught from racist materials at the King Fahd Academy in Acton.

In an interview on BBC2's Newsnight, Dr Alyusuf was asked by Jeremy Paxman whether she recognised the books. She said: "Yes, I do recognise these books, of course. We have these books in our school. These books have good chapters that can be used by the teachers. It depends on the objectives the teacher wants to achieve." In another exchange, Dr Alyusuf insisted the books should not be scrapped, saying that allegedly racist sections had been "misinterpreted".

The school is owned, funded and run by the government of Saudi Arabia. Mr Paxman asked: "Will you now remove this nonsense from the Saudi Ministry of Education from your school?" Dr Alyusuf replied: "Just to reiterate what I said earlier, there are chapters from these books that are used and that will serve our objectives. But we don't teach hatred towards Judaism or Christianity - on the contrary."

During the programme Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside and chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, accused the school of inciting racial hatred and hit out at Ofsted inspectors for failing to discover the textbooks. She said: "This whole situation is unacceptable. It is incitement. It is part of a deliberate Saudi initiative to install Wahabbism extremism among Muslims and in the rest of society. If Ofsted has not drawn attention to this, that is a failing of Ofsted. "It is unacceptable and we should look to see if this is happening in other schools as well. This is about teaching children. I think the school should take immediate action and so should the regulatory authorities."

In his employment tribunal claim Mr Cook, who taught English at the school for 19 years, has accused it of poisoning pupils' minds with a curriculum of hate. Arabic translators have found that the books also describe Jews as "repugnant".

Dr Alyusuf initially claimed that the books were "not taught currently", saying: "We teach a different curriculum. We teach an international curriculum." Asked by Mr Paxman, "Would you discipline any teacher who has used these teaching materials?", she replied: "Of course I would." The principal, who has been in the post just under six months, also claimed: "I monitor what is taught in the classrooms. I have developed the curriculum myself."

Asked by Mr Paxman whether she agreed with the suggestion in teaching materials that non-believers in Islam are condemned to "hellfire", she said: "We don't teach that. We teach Islam and it is important for our students to assert their identity."

Mr Cook, of Feltham, was earning 35,000 pounds a year and is seeking 100,000 in compensation. In legal papers submitted to a Watford employment tribunal, he alleged that pupils as young as five are taught that religions including Christianity and Judaism are "worthless". He also alleges that when he questioned whether the curriculum complied with British laws, he was told: "This is not England. It is Saudi Arabia". Pupils have allegedly been heard saying they want to "kill Americans", praising 9/11 and idolising Osama bin Laden as their "hero".

Mr Cook claims he was dismissed last December after blowing the whistle on the school for covering up cheating by children in GCSE exams. He is bringing a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, race discrimination and victimisation. The school is vigorously defending his claims


British Islamic school pledges to amend racist books

Cutting half a page out is unlikely to alter the overall intolerant tone of the books

A Saudi-funded Islamic school at the centre of a row over text-books that allegedly brand other faiths as "worthless" bowed to public pressure yesterday and pledged to remove the offensive pages from the books.

Although insisting that teachers did not use the extracts, in which an early Islamic scholar is quoted as saying "the monkeys are the Jews and the pigs are the Christian infidels at Jesus's table", Sumaya Alyusuf, the head teacher, said that the half-page of text would be cut from all 34 copies in the library of the King Fahd Academy in Acton, West London. She had said during an interview on Newsnight on BBC Two that the books were taught.

However, while King Fahd Academy sought to clear its reputation as a tolerant faith school yesterday, three people claiming to be former pupils accused it of being racist, on the website

One contributor, who said that she was a former pupil now aged 21, said that she was taught that Jews were "monkeys", while another, also 21, claimed that he was told that "people of other religions were not on a par as human beings with us".



(Lord Monckton served (1982-1986) as Special Adviser to the Rt. Honorable Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in the Prime Minister's Policy Unit, 10 Downing Street, London)

Figures in the final draft of the UN's fourth five-year report on climate change show that the previous report, in 2001, had overestimated the human influence on the climate since the Industrial Revolution by at least one-third. Also, the UN, in its 2007 report, has more than halved its high-end best estimate of the rise in sea level by 2100 from 3 feet to just 17 inches. It suggests that the rate of sea-level rise is up from 2mm/yr to 3mm/year - no more than one foot in a century.

UN scientists faced several problems their computer models had not predicted. Globally, temperature is not rising at all, and sea level is not rising anything like as fast as had been forecast. Concentrations of methane in the air are actually falling.

The Summary for Policymakers was issued February 2, 2007, but the report on which the Summary is based will not be published until May. This strange separation of the publication dates has raised in some minds the possibility that the Summary (written by political representatives of governments) will be taken as a basis for altering the science chapters (written by scientists, and supposedly finalized and closed in December 2006).

The draft of the science chapters, now being circulated to governments for last-minute comments, reveals that the tendency of computers to over-predict rises in temperature and sea level has forced a major rethink. The report's generally more cautiously-expressed projections confirm scientists' warnings that the UN's heavy reliance on computer models had exaggerated the temperature effect of greenhouse-gas emissions. Previous reports in 1990, 1995 and 2001 had been progressively more alarmist. In the final draft of the new report there is a change in tone. Though carbon dioxide in the air is increasing, global temperature is not.....


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