Saturday, May 17, 2008


Vast expenditures on Green fantasies that achieve nothing (such as huge expenditure on windmills with negligible output) plus extensive Greenie restrictions on activities that ARE productive (such as use of GM crops) have their inevitable outcome

The British economy faces the real risk of falling into recession, the Governor of the Bank of England has admitted. Mervyn King warned families to brace themselves for a further "squeeze" on household finances as rising energy bills and food prices continue to rise. Mr King said that inflation was set to increase sharply to about 3.7 per cent - almost double the official target. As a result most British people will feel poorer this year as pay rises fail to keep pace with rising costs.

The Governor - who said that "the nice decade is behind us" - also warned homeowners that property prices would fall further and that it was impossible to predict the scale of the decline.

He became the first senior public figure to openly discuss the possibility that the British economy may now be heading for recession. The economy was "travelling along a bumpy road" and that a sharp downturn could not be ruled out, he said. The comments are some of the most stark issued by the Bank and indicate growing concern within Government over the economic prospects for the country. The prospects for the British economy have worsened since the Bank's last inflation report in February.

Mr King made his comments as official figures revealed unemployment rose last month and Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, conceded that British families needed help to deal with rising fuel, food and energy costs. Mr King said: "There is going to be a sharp slowing in growth. It is quite possible that at some point we may get an odd quarter or two of negative growth, but recession is not the central projection...But clearly further shocks could push us in that direction." The technical definition of recession is two or more consecutive quarters of negative growth, a situation last seen in 1991.

The Governor added: "As price increases feed through to household bills, they will lead to a squeeze on real take-home pay, which will slow consumer spending and output growth, perhaps sharply." Mr King's mention of "the nice decade" is a reference to the acronym "non-inflationary consistent expansion" used by economists to describe the sort of growth since Labour came to power.

His intervention followed the disclosure that housing minister Caroline Flint backed independent forecasts suggesting prices will fall by between five and ten per cent this year. On Tuesday it was disclosed that inflation had seen its biggest increase in six years to three per cent. The average family was calculated to be 600 pounds worse off compared to a year ago as a result.

More here

Customer service in Britain: It's non-existent

I am putting this up because the reports below mirror my own experience of Britain. I think they are even worse than the Indian bureaucracy -- and that's private British firms as well as government that I am talking about. Maybe Zimbabwe is worse

Go abroad. That is the only sensible conclusion to draw from the huge online reaction to Weekend's article last month on customer service in Britain. Singapore does it better, so does Japan, so does Canada. Even the French, once fabled for their rudeness, get your approval. "In France, medical staff take pride in patient care," reported Geoff Miller. "In Britain, they are obtuse, bureaucratic, unhelpful."

India also gets the thumbs-up. "A good shopkeeper looks after his customer whether the customer buys anything or not," wrote Sridhar Rao, contrasting the care and attention shown by Indian shopkeepers selling saris with the "abominable" service at PC World.

Not that emigrating did the trick for Graham, a retired Barclays employee. To continue paying his pension, his erstwhile employer requires him to supply evidence every six months that he is still alive - an exercise that has involved him in an interminable round of ignored emails and emails that took three weeks to get a response. "Revolution!" mused Graham at his hideaway in the sun. "Now there's a thought..." Thank you for taking the trouble to name and shame the worst offenders. All the usual suspects were there, with BT and British Airways leading the field.

It was hard to know whether to feel more sorry for Dave Coomber, being shunted from one operator to another as BT tried to work out if he had a "fault" or a "technical problem" - he thought they were synonymous, poor sap - or for Nikki Brown, gearing herself up to tackle the BA customer service department about some missing luggage. When she was told that customer service would not be accepting any calls for the next four weeks because it was still clearing a backlog of complaints arising from a spell of bad weather nine months previously, her patience snapped. It would have taken "the resilience and determination of an Antarctic explorer" to beat the system.

Other organisations to incur your wrath were WH Smith in Cheshire ("the cashiers seemed to feel that acknowledging the customers except to take payment was forbidden"); Boots online, whose asinine emails reduced Sylvia Chapman to a screaming banshee; the Abbey bank ("worst ever customer service"); and a London branch of HSBC, where Emily Fleming suffered a double whammy of "rock music blaring from wall speakers" and "tellers who resembled a pair of zombies".

HSBC clearly needs to raise its game. Fred Wall, visiting his local branch, was spared the loud music, but was snookered by a super-polite branch manager who told him to "take a wee seat" while he sorted out his problem. Fred took his wee seat, while the manager, as far as he could see, did nothing.

It was the sense of "being given the runaround" - passed from unhelpful official A to unhelpful official B - that really irked Telegraph readers. Brian Simpson contacted Sterling Airlines to try to trace an item that his wife had lost on a flight from Gatwick to Stockholm. He ended up being referred to the Copenhagen police department. You have to laugh.

All Mark Roberts wanted from the Department for Work and Pensions was a simple calculation of an overpayment to his late father. That was the start of a surreal 10-month round of phone calls shuttling his inquiries from Salford to Gloucester to Dearne Valley to Stornoway to Corby and back to Stornoway.

You all had your bugbears, from automated answering systems to teenage cashiers chatting to their friends on mobile phones. For Andrew Parsons, the worst of the lot were medical receptionists - "trained by ex-KGB interrogators of General rank to look at you like you are in the gutter whilst trying to extract the information".

In fairness, even though most readers seemed to share my despair at the standard of customer service in Britain, a significant minority took the opposite view. Organisations that received bouquets for their service included Virgin Atlantic, school examination boards, the Arcade Bookshop in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire, and the staff at Sudbury Hill station.

Several of you argued that customers had to treat staff with respect, not just demand service as of feudal right. "Try working on the other side of the counter," advised Edward Westcott, "and see the snobbery, arrogance and downright rudeness that some customers display to shop workers. Think about when you are at the till on your mobile or talking to your companions behind you while you fling your credit card at the assistant. Civility works both ways." Touche. Norman, another shop worker, made a similar point. "I could write a book on the amount of abuse I have received over the years." His biggest gripe was the increasing tendency of customers to complain loud and long in the hope of getting compensation. One customer claimed that he missed his holiday flight because he had been sold a pint of milk that went off, then demanded hundreds of pounds' compensation.

One of the underlying themes of your emails, with their Kafkaesque tales of ordinary citizens entangled in red tape and bureaucracy, is the debilitating pace of modern life: too many people in too much of a hurry to find the time to smile.


Incompetent British medical care kills young mother

Woman dies because nobody gave a stuff

A young mother who developed complications during a home birth died after a midwife lacked the confidence to inject her with fluids, an inquest was told. There was also a delay in giving Joanne Whale treatment that could have saved her life in hospital after another midwife failed to pass on information to the doctors there.

Dr Peter Dean, the Greater Suffolk Coroner, said that lessons must be learnt from her death and that women should be made more aware of the dangers of home births. He also demanded better communication between midwives and doctors.

Miss Whale, 23, gave birth to a healthy boy at home in Ipswich last September. But she died hours later after a severe haemorrhage. When Ms Whale began to lose blood she needed an injection of fluids. Julie Bates, a midwife, said that she had been trained in the process but had never had to use it. "I've got the theoretical knowledge but not the practical knowledge," she said. "I felt uncomfortable having to do that in this situation." She added: "Knowing the ambulance was only a few minutes away I thought it was better to leave it for the proper paramedics."

The inquest was also told that Miss Whale's arrival at hospital had been delayed because the paramedics had found it difficult to remove her from an upstairs bedroom. Martin Hambling, who was in the first of two ambulances to arrive after a 999 call, said: "Extraction was extremely difficult because of the layout of the house. We had to negotiate several sharp turns."

Miss Whale was taken to Ipswich Hospital but doctors were not told the exact nature of her condition, which led to a delay in getting her to the operating theatre. Sarah Hall, another midwife, admitted that she did not pass on information that Miss Whale had suffered an inverted uterus during labour. Marlar Raja, a specialist registrar in gynaecology at the hospital, said that the patient would have been taken straight to the theatre if she had been made aware.

Balroop Johal, a consultant gynaecologist, said: "The staff were expecting a retained placenta. If they had been told that it was a complete inversion of the uterus she would almost certainly have gone straight to theatre and I would have been ready for her."

Dr John Chapman, who carried out the postmortem examination, said that Miss Whale died as a result of the inverted uterus causing a uterine haemorrhage. Her body was in so much shock that her blood failed to clot, adding to extensive bleeding.

Dr Dean recorded a narrative verdict of death from complications after an obstetric home delivery. He said he was surprised that midwives would not be confident in injecting life-saving fluids. "It does worry me a lot that mothers are giving birth in the community and the first line of call is the midwife, who might not be able to get fluid into her in those crucial early moments. That needs to be addressed. "We can't be certain that, had these things been done, she would have survived. All we can say is the chances of survival would have been greater."


NHS kills another young woman

No mention of clotting factors being used

A woman bled to death after her second child was born in hospital, an inquest was told yesterday. Samima Yasmin, 26, had placenta previa - which can lead to complications during birth such as haemorrhaging - diagnosed during the 24th week of her pregnancy. At 35 weeks Mrs Yasmin, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, had an emergency Caesarean section at South Tyneside District Hospital after suffering complications, including excessive bleeding.

Severe bleeding continued after the delivery of her son, Muzzamil Ali, in 2005, the South Tyneside coroner was told before recording a narrative verdict on Mrs Yasmin, who also had an 18-month-old son.

Hami Fawzi, a consultant at the hospital, said: "The patient was losing a lot of blood and we were trying to pump as much blood and fluids back in as we could. We felt we were on top of replacing what needed to be replaced, but it is difficult to tell how much exactly was lost. In hindsight, there was an underestimation . . . We decided to let her pass peacefully." [Big of him! Sounds unethical] Doctors described it as one of the worst cases of uncontrollable blood loss they had ever seen.


No comments: