Monday, January 28, 2008

Cancer woman runs out of time in NHS battle

Yet another death from socialism -- and as deliberate and as heartless as anything Stalin did

A WOMAN suffering from breast cancer has run out of time to benefit from a potentially life-extending drug which the National Health Service (NHS) denied her, even though she was prepared to pay for it. Colette Mills has been told by doctors that in the four months since she asked for the drug the disease has taken such a hold in her body that the cancer will no longer respond to the treatment. She is the victim of a ruling which states that any patient who wants to pay for additional drugs not prescribed by the NHS should lose their entitlement to their basic NHS cancer care and pay for all their treatment. She was prepared to pay for the drug but not her whole treatment.

Mills, a 58-year-old former nurse, said: “I am just absolutely gutted. I just cannot believe people make these decisions about other people’s lives. “It wasn’t going to cost them. I was going to pay for it. How can they say this policy is far more important than somebody’s life? “The NHS has taken this opportunity away from me and, if they are doing it to me, they are doing it to a lot of other women as well.”

The government claims that to allow some patients to pay for additional drugs on top of their NHS treatment creates a two-tier system between those who can and cannot afford them.

Asked about her future prospects, Mills said: “They are not hopeful of halting it. They will give you no promises. I didn’t ask and he [the doctor] didn’t say. It is not something I want to know just yet.” Mills, a mother of two, launched a legal action to try to force the NHS to allow her to pay for the drug Avastin which she wanted to take alongside another medicine, Taxol, which is prescribed by the health service. But during her four-month battle with the NHS, the breast cancer has spread to other parts of her body and doctors have told Mills it is too late for her to benefit from the combination of Avastin and Taxol.

An American trial has shown that taking the drugs in combination doubles the chance of preventing the disease from spreading compared to taking Taxol on its own. Taking Avastin in addition to Taxol is also likely to keep the disease under control for almost twice as long. Leading oncologists say Avastin offers a small but significant advantage in treating breast cancer. Mills will now be prescribed an alternative medicine but does not know how successful this will be in stopping the cancer.

Several other cancer patients are also taking legal action to win the right to pay for medicines that are not available on the NHS. The patients’ lawyer, Melissa Worth, of the law firm Halliwells, said: “Colette has been told by her medical team that she may have missed her chance. If she had been given the opportunity to take the Avastin when she first contacted her medical team about it, then she would have had three months’ treatment by now. Months down the line, the policy will need to change but for those patients currently fighting their NHS trusts, it might be too late.”

Becoming an entirely private patient would have cost Mills, from near Stokesley, North Yorkshire, about 10,000 pounds a month instead of about 4,000 solely to pay for the Avastin and its administration. Although she could have tried to raise the funds such as finding a loan, she believes it is a fundamental principle that the NHS should continue to fund her basic care for which she has paid through her taxes.

The Department of Health, however, said top-up payments would “undermine” the “fundamental principle of the NHS, now supported by all the main political parties, that treatment should be free at the point of need”. Mills’s case has provoked a national debate about whether NHS patients should be allowed to pay for top-up treatments. NHS chief executives, the Patients Association, Doctors for Reform and Saga, the organisation for the over-fifties, have all backed Mills and other patients in her situation since The Sunday Times highlighted their plight last year. A group of Conservative MPs, including former shadow health minister John Baron, are campaigning for co-payments to be allowed.


Britain's voluntary apartheid

The Daily Telegraph recently published an article indicating Islamic extremists have created "no go" areas across Great Britain where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. The Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, bishop of Rochester and the Church of England"s only Asian bishop, said people of a different race or faith face physical attack if they live or work in communities dominated by a strict Muslim ideology.

Clearly at stake is the very future of Christianity as the nation"s public religion. With multiculturalism gaining ground as a philosophical position, Islam rides on its coattails. Since all faiths are to be treated equally according to this multicultural faith, it isn't possible to challenge publicly the call to prayer or the reliance on Shariah to adjudicate legal claims.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, who has said England is "sleepwalking into segregation," has been criticized for what some consider incendiary language. However, multiculturalism clearly has led to deep and irrepressible social divisions, what one politician called "voluntary apartheid."

It would appear the divisions can be attributed to the government's failure to integrate immigrants into the larger community. But it is also related to a diminished belief in the Church of England and Christianity in general. Most in Britain believe the church will be disestablished within a generation, severing a bond between church and state that dates to the Reformation.

Of course, there are those who contend the critique of multiculturalism is little more than a manifestation of intolerance. Yet it is the intolerance in the Muslim communities that produced this blow-back.

The Rev. Nicholas Reade, bishop of Blackburn, which has a large Muslim community, maintains it is increasingly difficult for Christians to observe their faith in communities where they are a minority. He too believes the government will be pressured into disestablishing the Church of England.

There is little doubt that Britain is undergoing dramatic change. In a mere few decades this nation with an acknowledged Christian foundation is now routinely described as a multifaith society. Clearly the large number of immigrants entering the British Isles account in large part for the shift in attitude. Yet that isn't the whole story.

The loss of confidence in the Christian vision, which underlies most of the achievements and principles of the culture, may account for a reluctance to defend the nation's heritage.

If minorities are permitted to live in their own insulated communities, communicating in their own languages and having minimal need to build relationships with the majority, the nation will sink into balkanization. Moreover, this separation feeds and endorses Islamic extremism by alienating youngsters from the nation and creating the impression ideological devotion is a mark of acceptability.

Some Muslims and Christians, of course, recognize the problem and are eager to do something about it. But can Shariah relate to British civil law? Can Shariah-compliant banking be accommodated in a free-market system? Can Christianity be maintained as the nation's public faith? Can universities transmit a sense of Britannia when multiculturalism is in the ascendancy?

These are merely several of the host of questions and issues that must be addressed by government and religious leaders. Unfortunately, there are many more questions than answers and much more confusion on the part of the British public than clarity about the road ahead.


Britain urged to love a man in uniform again

THE government is to sweep away curbs on servicemen and women wearing uniforms off duty in public as part of a drive to boost popular support for the armed services. A report commissioned by Gordon Brown to honour those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq will say all service personnel should be encouraged to wear their uniforms on leave. The curbs were introduced almost 30 years ago during the IRA's bombing campaign on mainland Britain when military personnel were warned not to wear uniforms off duty.

Defence chiefs believe the advantages gained from wearing uniforms and encouraging the public to fall back in love with the armed forces will outweigh any danger from home-grown terrorists. Brown's review will also call for more parades for soldiers returning from the front line and more open days at airfields and naval and army bases. It is seeking to emulate America with cheap flights for troops and free or discounted admission to theme parks and sports grounds such as Wembley, Twickenham and Lord's.

Brown ordered the study after concern that servicemen and women returning from war zones were being ignored or even insulted by some members of the public. According to Downing Street, he wants to "encourage greater understanding and appreciation of the armed services by the British public". It has been headed by Quentin Davies, the former Tory MP who defected to Labour. Last week he toured Canada and the United States to see how well regarded servicemen and women are there in comparison to Britain. "There have been some ghastly incidents, including the insulting of British soldiers in Birmingham, and a woman who insulted crippled soldiers in a swimming baths," said Davies. "People have said they do not get the welcome of their American allies when they go home."

Davies, whose father served in the RAF in the second world war, added: "There should be more exposure to the military. We are not going to recommend people are ordered to wear uniforms on leave. It is a question of encouragement by example." The review also wants Whitehall staff to wear uniforms on days other than Remembrance Sunday, as well as more school visits and involvement from the military. Of 6,400 secondary schools in the UK, fewer than 300 have combined cadet forces.

The review team has already written to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic asking for special deals for service personnel. BA said it had no plans to do so, while Virgin said it already ran a discount scheme for the military. In America Anheuser-Busch, the brewing firm, has given more than 4m free passes to theme parks such as Sea World and Busch Gardens to members of the coalition forces since 2005. British service personnel on visits to the US have benefited from discounts in hotels and restaurants by showing their military ID cards.


British road hump panic!

In the end, NOTHING suits the Greenies

They damage cars and give drivers a nasty jolt, but now speed bumps have been found guilty of an even worse crime - they are helping to destroy the planet. The traffic-calming measures double the carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption by forcing drivers to brake and accelerate repeatedly, according to a study commissioned by the AA. A car that achieves 58.15 miles per gallon travelling at a steady 30mph will deliver only 30.85mpg when going over humps.

The AA employed an independent engineer who used a fuel flow meter to test the consumption of a small and a medium-sized car at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. The results, calculated by averaging the performances of the two cars, also showed that reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph resulted in 10 per cent higher emissions. This is because car engines are designed to be most efficient at speeds above 30mph. A motorist who observed the speed limit on one mile of 20mph road during a daily journey would produce an extra tonne of CO2 in a year compared with driving at 30mph on the same stretch.

In an unusual move for a motoring organisation, the AA called for the introduction of cameras that detect average speeds to replace humps. Edmund King, the AA's president, said: "Humps are a crude, uncomfortable and noisy way of slowing people down and this research has shown they are also environmentally damaging. We accept that traffic speed needs to be controlled in residential areas where there is a problem with accidents and children are playing. We think motorists are more likely to accept average speed cameras than humps."

But he added that drivers would not support a proposal in London by the Mayor, Ken Livingstone, to make 20mph the default speed limit on all residential roads. "The AA accepts that targeted 20mph speed limits in residential areas are popular and improve safety. However, a 30mph limit on local distributor roads may be more environmentally friendly."

Previous research by the Transport Research Laboratory found that air pollution rose significantly on roads with humps. Carbon monoxide emissions increased by 82 per cent and nitrogen oxide by 37 per cent. The London Ambulance Service has claimed that the 30,000 humps on the capital's roads cause up to 500 deaths a year because its crews suffer delays in reaching victims of cardiac arrest.

Mr King said: "Humps tend to breed more humps. If one street has humps installed, the adjacent street calls for humps and eventually you find no clear roads for movement of emergency service vehicles."

Transport for London has been helping to test average-speed cameras on residential roads in Camden, North London. No tickets are being issued yet, but the mere presence of the cameras has resulted in the proportion of drivers complying with the limit increasing by a third. The new cameras are not linked but have synchronised clocks and each separately transmits information to a processing centre. This allows several cameras to work together without the need to dig up the road between them to lay cables. In urban areas this can halve the cost of installing the system. Putting in 50 standard humps on three or four connecting residential streets costs about 150,000 pounds. A set of eight average-speed cameras covering the same area would cost 250,000.

The Home Office has been monitoring trials of average-speed cameras for almost three years but has yet to approve them. The camera suppliers believe that the delay is due to a lack of staff to complete the approval process. Rob Gifford, director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: "If we remove road humps, the clear alternative method for enforcing lower speeds is through average speed cameras. These will smooth out traffic flow and be fairer to car drivers." Mr Gifford said that research had shown that 10 per cent of pedestrians would die when hit by a car at 20mph compared with 50 per cent at 30mph.


There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race and IQ. Some readers have reported that the site doesn't download unless one clicks STOP.

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