Saturday, May 16, 2009

Moronic British immigration rules hurt the hospitals

They are cracking down heavily on legal immigration when over 90% of their problem is illegal immigration -- which is "too hard" to solve

Patient safety could be put at risk because changes to immigration rules could force hundreds of junior doctors out of the NHS, a union warns. The British Medical Association said reform of the tier one skilled migrant category was unfair on foreign medics. The union said it meant doctors in the first two years of training would not be able to apply for the next stage. The BMA added that this could lead to a shortage of doctors eventually, compromising safety in the process.

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum has now written to Health Secretary Alan Johnson urging him to intervene to protect the NHS workforce. He wants the Department of Health to take up the issue with the Home Office immediately as the NHS is also facing difficulties over the forthcoming introduction of the European working directive for junior doctors.

From August, the scope of the directive will be extended to junior doctors, limiting their working week to 48 hours. Dr Meldrum said: "The full implementation of the directive coupled with a situation in which a proportion of prospective trainees can no longer continue with their training due to ever-tightening immigration rules is likely to exacerbate rota gaps, putting patient safety at risk. "The BMA is requesting that the Department of Health intervenes."

The change to immigration rules in March means that those applying for the tier one category, which in the heath service covers junior doctors who have completed the foundation stage of their training and want to move on to specialist training, need to have a master's degree. But a medical degree - despite being a five-year course - is only classed as a bachelor's, meaning all foreign junior doctors from outside the EU will be excluded.

In his letter, Dr Meldrum pointed out that as well as affecting those doctors who have already started junior doctor training, the thousands of foreign medical students at university in the UK could also end up leaving. He said workforce planning in the health service was counting on these students becoming NHS doctors over the next few years.


'Club class' illegal immigrants are paying £10,000 to fly to Britain on tourist planes

Illegal immigrants posing as tourists are paying up to £10,000 each to fly into Britain as part of a 'club class' smuggling service. Organised gangs of people smugglers are targeting holiday flights from the Continent, particularly Greece, to the Irish Republic. The £10,000 cost compares to an average of just £500 to £1,000 for those willing to take their chances on lorries and trains crossing the Channel from Calais to Dover. But the expensive 'immigration package', which includes forged passports and visas, has a much higher chance of success, according to officials.

The latest smuggling plan came to light earlier this week after the arrest of a ten-strong gang in Paris. They are believed to have made £500,000 in just nine months successfully smuggling scores of illegal migrants. Based in a flat close to the Gare du Nord Eurostar station, they regularly booked migrants on flights to the Irish Republic. Greece, which is a major transit point to Britain for migrants from Asia, was a popular route. Once in the Republic, the illegal migrants would use the forged papers to enter Britain via domestic flights or ferries.

'It was the club class service for migrants who had sold their homes and businesses to start a new life in the UK,' said an officer from the French anti-illegal immigration agency OCRIEST. 'These were people who were prepared to devote their life's savings to getting to their Eldorado, and an airborne immigration package was their best option.'

He said tourist flights from Greece to Ireland were not policed as stringently as those on major tourist or business routes and that it was relatively easy for illegal migrants from Asia and Eastern Europe to mingle with planeloads full of Greek and Irish holidaymakers. 'They are often waved through customs and immigration because they're not obvious flights for illegal migrants to take,' the officer said.

'Another advantage for the migrants is that passports of people resembling them can be stolen or bought in Greece and can then be used on the planes. 'Immigration procedures are far tougher in France and Britain, and it's much harder to get hold of forged travel documents. It's a highly sophisticated route, but one which is still used regularly. 'Airborne illegal immigration does not come cheap, but for those who can afford it, it's a much quicker and hassle-free option than travelling all the way to Calais to try to get a place in the back of a lorry.'

The gang, Iraqi and Iranian men aged between 26 and 54, have made full confessions in exchange for a reduction in prison sentences, which could top ten years. They are expected to be charged with a range of people-smuggling offences. Jean-Michel Fauvergue, the head of OCRIEST, said: 'This gang was extremely well organised and not solely operating on French territory.'


Britain’s strange, silent strangulation of liberty

The organiser of Freedom Summer explains why defending civil society from the state has never been more important

Every era has its own brand of state regulation; at different times, the repressive powers of the state are focused on different areas of social life. Today’s state is getting itself into some very strange corners indeed.

Twenty years ago, who would have thought that the state would seek to regulate mums helping out at their children’s nursery? Under the UK Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act – all nursery helpers must have their criminal records checked before being given the all-clear to watch over toddlers’ face-painting and Play-Doh sessions.

Who would have thought that police officers would force tourists to delete their photos of the architecturally interesting but otherwise unimportant Vauxhall bus station in London, in the name of preventing terrorism? (1) Who’d have guessed that under the Counter-Terrorism Act, it would become an offence to take pictures of police officers?

In previous times, the formidable powers of the state might have been used to crush demonstrations or dismantle threatening organisations. Now officials are focusing their fire on the pub darts contest, the local nursery, the amateur photographer, the drink in the park.

In 2009, if you are sharing a summers’ drink in the park, a police officer has the power to tip your bottle of wine down the drain, without any justification - and it is a criminal offence for you to refuse. Virtually every activity in pubs - from dancing, singalongs, music, to darts and chess – now requires a specific council licence. A Cambridge pub had to cancel a poetry reading recently, because it didn’t have a ‘spoken word licence’.

These are the areas of society that were previously the most autonomous – the places where people came together, to share a drink, or organise competitions and games - without using the language or methods of bureaucracy. Unlike the world of work, these were places where no forms were signed and no contracts made. This was civil society – a space that was neither the market nor the state – where people collaborated informally and freely with one another.

Yet it is precisely these most informal spheres that are becoming the most regulated. It is now almost the case that there are more rules and regulations in pubs than in the workplace; more in the nursery than in the bank.

These informal spheres are absolutely fundamental to social life. It is in these spaces that people form relationships that are not coerced, and not based on hostile contracting interests. These are the spaces where people work on getting things done together, in the interests and for the enjoyment of all. In civil society, things work differently – a list of volunteers is scribbled in the team book, not on a form; arrangements are made by phone or in the street, rather than by contract.

State intervention into these spheres of everyday life has happened quietly; it is not, generally, the subject of political discussion or protest. These issues are rarely discussed on the floor of the House of Commons, or even by many civil liberties organisations.

This summer, the Manifesto Club has organised Freedom Summer - to raise awareness about the hyperregulation of everyday life, and raise a shout of protest against it. On Thursday, at a pub in central London, we’re launching our campaign with a discussion among fellow libertarians, including Anthony Barnett from the Convention on Modern Liberty, Phil Booth from No2ID, and columnist Suzanne Moore. Over the next few months, events include: a salon in Huddersfield on the regulation of drinking; a sports day against vetting; a protest picnic on Brighton beach against booze bans; a cabaret against new visa controls for visiting artists and academics; and the launch of a new photo-book against ludicrous safety signs in public spaces.

It is important that Freedom Summer is a DIY political space – where people can propose their own initiatives, taking up the freedom issues that they are passionate about in their local areas. We hope this will become a festival of political experimentation, to work out together how we can make the hyperregulation of everyday life a political issue.

Summer is generally the time when police forces launch their Operation Public Drinking, Operation Public Dancing, or Operation Public Photography. Summer should also be the time when we start to organise a resistance to the hyperregulation our nurseries, pubs and parks.


The health alerts that make you ill: Negative thoughts 'can induce sickness'

If you feel ill just looking at the side effects of the medicine that's supposed to cure you, it might be best not to bother. The warnings themselves might actually be making you sick, scientists say. A series of studies from around the world has shown that if you believe something could make you ill, it might well do just that. Simply reading the side-effects on a bottle of tablets raises your risk of experiencing them. And, taken to its extreme, patients who believe they will not survive surgery, are more likely to die on the operating table.

Just as positive thinking can be good for your health, negative thoughts can be bad for well-being. 'The idea that believing you are ill can make you ill sounds far-fetched, yet rigorous trials have established beyond a doubt that the converse is true - the power of suggestion can improve health,' reports New Scientist magazine. 'The placebo effect has an evil twin: the nocebo effect, in which dummy pills and negative expectations can produce harmful effects.' Examples included clinical trials for new drugs, in which up to a quarter of patients given dummy versions experienced the side-effects associated with the real thing.

In trials for blood pressure-lowering beta blockers, tiredness and loss of libido were just as common in those given dummy versions. And more than half of chemotherapy patients start experiencing the nausea -- 'A self-fulfilling prophecy' -- associated with the cancer treatment days before it started. The phenomenon raises the prospect that just telling a patient about the side effects associated with their pills, could make their health worse.

Hull University psychologist Professor Giuliana Mazzoni said: 'On the one hand, people have the right to be informed about what to expect but this makes it more likely they will experience side-effects.'

Research has shown that women who believe they are particularly prone to heart attack are nearly four times as likely to die from coronary conditions than other women.

The power of suggestion can also be responsible for mass outbreaks of ' disease'. In 1988, a high school teacher, in Tennessee in the U.S, noticed a gasoline-like smell and began to complain of headache, nausea, shortness of breath and dizziness. The school was evacuated and over the next week, more than 100 staff and students were admitted to casualty complaining of similar symptoms. Extensive tests could find no medical explanation for their problems.

Dr Clifton Meador, of Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville in the U.S, said fear can turn into self-fulfilling prophecy. 'Bad news promotes bad physiology. I think that you can persuade people that they're going to die and have it happen. I don't think there is anything mystical about it. We're uncomfortable with the idea that words or symbolic actions can cause death because it changes our biomolecular model of the world.'


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