Plan for a green NHS is crazy and dangerous. Britain just need a health service that works
Seemingly oblivious to events in the real world, Whitehall's green crusaders have found themselves another target: the beleaguered NHS. Now, you may have been under the illusion the health service had enough to worry about, saving lives, delivering babies and generally tending to the sick. Wrong! It is responsible for 18million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, 3.2 per cent of the total for the whole of Britain. Something must be done! Thus the NHS has dreamt up a strategy, complete with barmy and in some cases apparently dangerous ideas, which will reduce its 2007 emissions by 10 per cent by 2015 and - God help us - 80 per cent by 2050.
So, the next time you are feeling unwell and want to make an appointment with your GP, expect to be asked if you wouldn't settle for some 'telemedicine' instead. Or, sparing the jargon, how about telling your doctor what is wrong over the phone, rather than a face-to-face appointment with stethoscopes and the like, in order to avoid getting in your car, and chugging out carbon dioxide as you cough and splutter over the steering wheel? Sure, you risk misdiagnosis - but think about the good you'll be doing the environment. Feel better already? Thought so.
And what about cutting out the red meat, should you ever be unlucky enough to find yourself hospitalised? Yes, you might be at a low ebb, and in need of a decent meal. But it is very energy intensive to produce a steak, so how about settling for some vegetables? Removing meat from the hospital menu will do the planet good, if not you.
On the nonsense goes. I'm prepared to give them the idea of using tap water instead of bottled. I fell for the fad of lugging dozens of bottles of the stuff home from the supermarket a few years ago and, like most people, have since got over it. But the majority of the green strategy is preposterous, nannying and not without risk. As Michael Summers, of the Patients Association, said: 'I believe this is fraught with danger, and many GPs see it as a dangerous practice. 'There are cases of patients having died after being misdiagnosed over the phone.'
Speaking to your GP over the phone can be reassuring in non-urgent cases - but how can a GP know if it's urgent or not without seeing them?
Even if you accept that Britain must reduce its carbon emissions, in order to lessen the impact of climate change, the NHS is entirely the wrong target. (I'd suggest axing the bureaucrats responsible for thinking up such initiatives. Think of the petrol and light bulbs you could save).
Yes, people have a duty to think about the world we'll bequeath to future generations. But not when they're sick. Nor should those faced with the difficult task of treating the ill, or helping the terminally-ill to die with dignity, have to give a second thought to their carbon footprint. Rather, they should be allowed to concentrate on addressing the failings which - despite the sterling efforts of those on the frontline - remain all too abundantly clear.
Let's take a look at some revelations from the NHS over the past three weeks alone. Two out of three hospitals still have mixed-sex wards, 12 years after Labour promised to get rid of them. Seventy per cent of trusts say men and women are not properly segregated on their wards, where they are often separated by nothing more than a curtain or a flimsy partition. Just 15 per cent of hospitals ensure all patients have fully separate wards and bathroom facilities. Isn't this a little more important than worrying about lightbulbs?
The number of patients killed by hospital blunders has soared by 60 per cent in only two years. Official records show that 3,645 died as a result of outbreaks of infections, botched operations and other mistakes in 2007/08. That was up from 2,275 two years before. Shouldn't the NHS be devoting its time to reducing this figure, rather than keeping beef pie off the hospital menu?
Midwives are more overworked than they have been for at least a decade, and are delivering far more babies per year than stipulated by safety guidelines - putting mothers and babies at risk. Experts believe up to 1,000 babies a year die needlessly because doctors and midwives are too overstretched or poorly-trained to detect warning signs. Do these same poor midwives really need some bureaucrats encouraging them to cycle to work, in order to reduce their carbon footprint?
A Green NHS? The public just wants one that works.
Active sex life supposedly 'cuts prostate cancer risk' - once you're over fifty
This is all self-report and self-report is maximally unreliable in sexual matters. It is probably more a study of attributions than of behaviour
Having an active sex life in their 50s could protect men against prostate cancer, say researchers. But greater levels of sexual activity among men in their 20s could increase their chances of developing the disease in later life, they warn. Men who are `very' sexually active in their 20s and 30s are more at risk, a study shows. Researchers at Nottingham University conclude that keeping up a regular sex life - rather than excessive activity in younger years followed by a fallow period - is best for men's health.
Dr Polyxeni Dimitropoulou, now at the University of Cambridge, said: `We were keen to look at the links between sexual activity and younger men as a lot of prostate cancer studies focus on older men as the disease is more prevalent in men over 50. Hormones appear to play a key role in prostate cancer and it is very common to treat men with therapy to reduce the hormones thought to stimulate the cancer cells. `A man's sex drive is also regulated by his hormone levels, so this study examined the theory that having a high sex drive affects the risk of prostate cancer.'
Each year 30,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in Britain. The disease remains the second most common cause of death for men in the UK, killing 10,000 a year. The study looked at the sexual practices of more than 431 men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in their 50s, compared with 409 cancer- free men.
Engaging in sexual activity more than 20 times a month between the 20s and 30s increased the risk of prostate cancer, says a report in this month's issue of the British Journal of Urology International. But frequent activity in a man's 40s and later appeared to have little impact on their risk. Men in their 50s who were most sexually active, engaging in sexual activity more than ten times a month, had a `small' level of protection against the disease.
Dr Dimitripolou said: `One theory is that during the early years the prostate gland is more susceptible to hormonal changes and is still developing. `As men age and accumulate toxins from the diet or through their lungs, sexual activity may help release them.'
Britain is too soft on Calais immigrants, says France
France yesterday called on Britain to toughen up its act against the tide of illegal migrants crossing the Channel. During a crisis visit to Calais, France's hardline new immigration minister Eric Besson criticised his London counterparts. He claimed that lax security in the Channel Tunnel and at ferry ports was encouraging thousands to try to enter Britain illegally, causing huge problems for the French.
In an upcoming meeting with British immigration minister Phil Woolas, Mr Besson will make it clear that there will be no new version of the Red Cross refugee centre at Sangatte, near Calais. He said a permanent hostel would only serve as a springboard for the migrants already in the northern French port - and as a magnet for thousands more to arrive. He hoped to silence repeated calls by aid agencies for a new shelter for migrants to be set up in Calais.
The original Sangatte hostel was blamed for becoming a stepping stone to Britain for more than 50,000 refugees over five years. It was finally bulldozed in 2002 in a joint agreement between Britain and France. Since then, refugee charities have provided food and clothing to bedraggled immigrants in Calais, but not given them overnight shelter.
Hundreds now live in filthy conditions in a woodland shanty town near the ferry port called the 'jungle'. The appalling conditions and fighting over food have triggered frequent clashes between rival immigrant gangs and police. A London journalist was raped by an Afghan refugee last year after visiting the camp to write a news article.
Mr Besson was in Calais today to explore ways to help solve the immigration crisis which has plagued the northern French coast for a decade. He said: "I don't pretend to have all the answer today but I am visiting Calais in the hope of finding them. "I hope to have made final decisions on what to do about Calais by May 1." He added: "But I will say now that it is out of the question to reopen a new hostel for immigrants in Calais. "This would only help the immigrants that are there already to remain there or cross illegally to Britain. "And it would become a powerful incentive for more immigrants to come there. "It would also not be a solution to the humanitarian problem. It would be an extra humanitarian problem. "I will meet with British officials in the coming days and I intend to make the ferries and channel tunnel watertight to illegal immigrants. "Our British partners must commit themselves more actively in the reinforcement of checks and security at Calais, in their own interests and ours."
Mr Besson also said earlier this week that he is set to bring in legislation that would allow DNA testing of new immigrants arriving in France. The tests would establish which foreigners were genuine refugees and which were claiming visas by making up fictious family ties with those already in France. The DNA scans will be for applications for visas of more than three months when there are doubts about an immigrant's birth or marriage certificates.
Civil liberties groups reacted furiously to the scheme, which was approved by the French parliament 15 months ago but does not come into effect until Mr Besson has signed the legislation - a move which until now has been delayed by protests. But Mr Besson has now said he wanted to enact the proposals, adding: "If the decree is accepted, I will scrupulously respect all individual liberties. It's not my obsession."
But immigrant welfare activist Daniele Lochak, former president of GISTI immigrants support group, said: "It's obvious that applicants who refuse DNA tests will have every chance of having their visas refused." The cost of up to 350 pounds per test would also to be beyond the reach of many immigrant families, he said.
France civil law also says that taking and examining a person's DNA can only be for medical or scientific research, meaning magistrates will have to authorise the new immigrant tests. Outgoing immigration minister Brice Hortefeux recently announced that France deported 30,000 illegal migrants in 2008 - a record number. It was a rise of more than 25 per cent on the number expelled the previous year.
The British schools where NO-ONE speaks English as a first language
There are now ten schools in England without a single pupil who speaks English as his or her first language. Research reveals that there are almost 600 primary schools where 70 per cent or more of youngsters normally speak a foreign language. Across the country, one in seven pupils aged 4-11 does not have English as the first language, which is the equivalent of 466,620 children. But, following years of unprecedented levels of migration, ten schools have now reached a point where every youngster falls into this category.
Their locations range from London to Lancashire. One, St Hilda's in Oldham, is a Church of England school. Some schools are in areas with long-established Muslim populations. In others, the high number of non-English speakers is the consequence of large-scale immigration from Eastern Europe.
Labour MP Frank Field and Tory MP Nicholas Soames, co-chairmen of the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration, said: 'These figures make a nonsense of the Government's aim of integration and show the very real strain that uncontrolled large scale immigration is already placing upon our society. 'In hundreds of primary schools, English is the second language for over 70 per cent or more of the pupils. 'How can these children be expected to integrate into our society if they are being taught in schools where is English is the mother tongue of no pupils or a minority of pupils?' Mr Field asked the Children's Department to produce a list of all those schools where seven in ten or more pupils did not have English as their first language.
The 591 primary schools out of 17,205 which fall into this category represent around three per cent, or around one in 30. There are a number of local authorities where 20 per cent or more of their schools have at least 70 per cent of youngsters who do not have English as their first language. These include the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets (62 per cent), Newham (46.9), Brent (28.8) and Ealing (28), plus Blackburn (26.7), Leicester (25.9), Bradford (25), Luton (20.3) and Birmingham (20).
Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: 'Two successful elements of any immigration policy should be to limit the numbers coming in so that the pressure on all public services is reduced, and to insist on English being spoken to a competent level by people coming here to get married. 'It is relatively easy to cope with a small number of non-English speakers, but incredibly difficult if there are large numbers. Scale matters.'
David Green, director of the Civitas think-tank, has warned that when a large number of immigrant children go into schools, it is very hard for the staff to accommodate them and specialist teachers have to be brought in. Last night, Dr Green said that when the Government was advocating the economic benefits of mass migration, it failed to take into account the impact on schools and other public services. He warned that one of the consequences of having schools where no pupils had English as a first language was that they and their families might lead a sectarian lifestyle.
A spokesman for the Children's Department said: 'It is important to remember that some of the schools with 100 per cent of their pupils with English as an additional language are actually doing very well, especially considering the extra challenges they face. 'Even if a pupil speaks another language they may still be highly competent in English, and many are. In cases recent arrivals from countries such as Poland have helped keep small rural schools open that may have otherwise closed because of falling pupil numbers. 'The language of instruction in English schools is English and this is vital in boosting community cohesion. 'The task is to get every child up to speed in English so that they can access the whole curriculum. 'We have listened to the concerns of head teachers and are increasing funding in the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant to 206million pounds by 2010, to bring students weak in English up to speed.'
Vicious British social workers yet again
'They say we're too old to care for our grandchildren': Social workers hand brother and sister to gay men for adoption -- DESPITE the little girl being fearful of men. The welfare of the children was obviously NOT the priority of these Leftist animals
Two young children are to be adopted by a gay couple, despite the protests of their grandparents. The devastated grandparents were told they would never see the youngsters again unless they dropped their opposition. The couple, who cannot be named, wanted to give the five-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister a loving home themselves. But they were ruled to be too old - at 46 and 59. For two years they fought for their rights to care for the children, whose 26-year- old mother is a recovering heroin addict. They agreed to an adoption only after they faced being financially crippled by legal bills. The final blow came when they were told the children were going to a gay household, even though several heterosexual couples wanted them.
When the grandfather protested, he was told: 'You can either accept it, and there's a chance you'll see the children twice a year, or you can take that stance and never see them again.' The man said last night: 'It breaks my heart to think that our grandchildren are being forced to grow up in an environment without a mother figure. We are not prejudiced, but I defy anyone to explain to us how this can be in their best interests.'
Social workers themselves have admitted that the little girl is 'more wary' of men than women. The case, in Edinburgh, raises worrying issues about state interference in family life. It will also fuel concern over the practice of gay adoption, which has been promoted by Left-wing ministers and council bosses.
Some local authorities forbid adoption by smokers and obese people but actively support gay fostering and adoption - even though research shows overwhelmingly that children are best brought up by a mother and father.
The grandparents first stepped in because the children's mother was unable to look after them. But council social workers became worried that the grandparents' ages and health problems meant they would also be unable to care for the children properly. The 59-year-old grandfather, a farm worker, has angina while his wife is receiving medication for diabetes. The children were taken into foster care during the two years of court hearings.
When the grandparents eventually conceded defeat, they were assured by social workers that they would still have regular contact with them. The fostering arrangement worked well, but the council decided that the children should be adopted, to give them a permanent home. The grandparents agreed - as long as they could be assured that the adoptive parents would be a loving mother and father. The couple were then told an adoption had been arranged - but the grandfather 'hit the roof' when he discovered that the adoptive parents were two gay men.
Social workers dealing with the case admitted that heterosexual couples who were approved as adoptive parents had also been keen to adopt the children. The decision was taken even though a confidential social work report - now part of the court records held by the grandparents - contained that the little girl is generally not as happy around men. The report says she 'has tended to be more wary of males in general.'
Her grandparents insist they are not homophobic. But they reject the view of social workers that the decision to allow the gay couple to adopt the children was made 'in accordance with who can best meet their needs.' When they made their opposition clear, however, the couple were told that social workers would 'certainly look' at allowing them access to the children 'when you are able to come back with an open mind on the issues'.
The grandfather was told by a social worker: 'If you couldn't support the children [in the gay adoption], if you were having contact and couldn't support the children, and were showing negative feelings, it wouldn't be in their best interests for contact to take place.' He said last night: 'The ideal for any child is to have a loving father and a loving mother in their lives. 'But in our society the mother is generally the cornerstone of the family and the most important person for a young child.' His wife added: 'It's so important for children to fit in, and I feel our grandchildren will be marked out from the start when they draw pictures of their two dads.'
The last time the couple saw their grandchildren was shortly after the agreement for them to be adopted but before the decision to place them with a gay couple. They took dozens of photographs and tried, for the sake of the youngsters, not to break down. 'Granny, I'm not going to see you for a very long time,' said the five-year-old boy. 'Maybe when I'm in Primary Seven I'll be able to see you.' 'We'll try our very hardest to see you soon,' said his grandmother, choking back tears.
The boy told his grandfather: 'Grandad, if you want to see me you will have to pick me up because I will be a very long way away.' Then he added innocently: 'We are getting a new mummy and daddy.'
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic church condemned the council's decision last night, warning that the children's welfare could be jeopardised. He added: 'This is a devastating decision which will have a serious impact on the welfare of the children involved. 'There is an overwhelming body of evidence showing that same-sex relationships are inherently unstable and reduce the life expectancy of those involved. 'The social work department have deliberately ignored evidence which undermines their decision and opted for politically-correct posturing rather than providing stability and protection for the children.'
The City of Edinburgh Council said last night that it could not comment on individual cases. Adoption by gay couples in Scotland was approved by MSPs in 2006 - despite an official consultation process which showed that nearly 90 per cent of people opposed it.