Saturday, June 13, 2009

Best job winner a $150k whingeing Pom

For American readers: "Whingeing" is the sort of whining you get from a tired toddler. A "Pom" is Australian slang for an English person. It is a common Australian perception that the English do a lot of complaining about minor things and are hard to please generally. Australians deride that as "whingeing"

ENGLISHMAN Ben Southall, winner of the World's Best Job, hasn't even started "work" yet and he's already living up to the worst stereotypes of his countrymen. Southall, 34, will collect a $150,000 tax payer-funded salary for six months lounging around the tropical paradise, enjoying free meals and accommodation in a three-bedroom luxury villa on Hamilton Island.

However, the blond-haired project manager from Petersfield, Hampshire, is already complaining his July 1 start date means he will miss out on the English summer, The Sun reports. "I'll miss the long days we have. The island may boast a tropical climate but it gets dark at 8pm," he moaned.

The Brit even whinged about missing English food, saying he would pine for roast dinners. "It will be far too hot to cook anything like that," he said.

Southall's only duty is to produce a blog detailing his life of leisure and regular activities such as sailing, snorkelling and scuba diving. He beat off more than 34,000 other applicants from around the world to win the coveted post, dreamed up by Tourism Queensland as part of an award-winning promotional campaign.


Arrogant British social workers again: Making a mockery of the "care" they are supposed to provide

D-Day hero, 93, starved himself to death after care home 'refused to let him go home to wife'. Since he had been living at home satisfactorily before he became ill, there was no reason to prevent him from returning home after his illness. The bureaucratic love of power was what killed him

A veteran of D- Day starved himself to death after being held against his will in a care home. Alfred Tonkin, 93, went on hunger strike when he was prevented from being reunited with his wife of 68 years, Joyce. The great-grandfather, who lost a leg to a Nazi machine gunner, was initially admitted to hospital with a blood disorder.

But social services claimed he was suffering from dementia and insisted that a round-the-clock care package would need to be arranged before he could go home. He was transferred to a care home and was still there four months later when he was taken to hospital with dehydration and malnourishment. Mr Tonkin died six days later on June 3 - three days before the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

His son Ian said yesterday: 'It was a dreadful experience. My dad thought we had betrayed him but we were in social services' hands because they knew the rules and we didn't. 'The care he received at the hospital and care home was excellent but social services were useless.'

The 60-year-old, who works for Royal Mail, added: 'Dad told me he was going on hunger strike and even refused to eat for me. Then he stopped drinking too. 'My dad starved himself to death.'....

On December 6 last year, Mr Tonkin was taken ill at his home in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and admitted to Watford Hospital with a blood disorder. He spent four weeks there before Hertfordshire County Council social services moved him to Wilton House Nursing Home in Shenley, six miles outside St Albans, while they arranged 24-hour home care.

On May 28, a GP wrote to social services to protest at the time it was taking for him to be reunited with his wife and recommended he be immediately discharged. The letter warned that his intense frustration over the delays had led to him refusing food. Three days later, Mr Tonkin was admitted to Watford Hospital with renal failure and died days later.

The family have made an official complaint to Hertfordshire County Council's adult care services and are being supported by St Albans Tory MP Anne Main.

An adult care services spokesman said: 'Equipment and care services had been purchased and commissioned and we were in the process of putting them in place but sadly Mr Tonkin died before he could return home.'


Traveller (gypsy) sites are booming as they exploit Britain's Human Rights Act to defy the law

The number of illegal traveller sites has soared since Labour introduced the Human Rights Act, figures showed yesterday. A new site is appearing every three days as travellers use the controversial legislation to sidestep planning laws. They buy cheap green-belt farmland and construct sites without planning permission, then contest any efforts to evict them as a breach of their human rights. The figures show a particularly sharp increase in illegal sites ' tolerated' by councils which feel helpless to challenge them.

When Labour introduced the Human Rights Act in 1999, fewer than 300 illegal sites were tolerated on land in England owned by travellers. By January this year that had risen more than fourfold to 1,279. The total number of illegal sites - including those built on other people's land - soared by 1,166 to 3,680. This is equivalent to more than one new site every three days for almost a decade.

Conservative critics warned last night that planning rules are straining community relations. They called for a return to 'fair play' where the same rules apply to everyone.

The Human Rights Act made it possible to fight cases in British courts using the European Convention on Human Rights instead of having to travel to the European Court in Strasbourg. Travellers have used their right to respect for their homes and family lives under the Act to stop councils evicting them from illegal sites.

Critics also blamed planning guidelines introduced in 2005. These ordered local authorities to consider 'diversity and equality' in planning matters and to take 'positive action' to avoid discriminating against any groups.

By contrast, homeowners face masses of red tape in order to build an extension, and often have to demolish buildings put up without planning permission.

Some of those who have written protest letters about camps have had their complaints dismissed because they are deemed racist.

The figures from the Department of Communities and Local Government show the number of illegal sites in England on land owned by travellers rose from 729 in January 2000 to 2,365 this year. With a further 1,315 illegal sites established on other people's land, the total number in England has risen from 2,514 to 3,680. That does not include the 4,820 authorised sites provided by local councils at taxpayers' expense.

With more travellers buying land and then abusing the planning laws, there is evidence councils are losing their appetite for enforcing the rules. Since 2006, the number of sites where officials are trying to evict the travellers has fallen from 1,440 to 1,086. But the number of 'tolerated' illegal sites rose from 964 to 1,279.

Bob Neill, Tory local government spokesman, said it was wrong that law-abiding homeowners face huge bureaucracy to build an extension while travellers flout the rules. 'The perception of unfairness this breeds causes tension in local communities,' he added. 'We need fair play, with the same planning rules for everyone, rather than special treatment for certain groups.'

Last month, the Mail reported how 50 travellers descended on the Gloucestershire village of Newent at 5pm one Friday, just as council offices closed for the Bank Holiday weekend. They spent three days and nights concreting over a beauty spot and installing sewerage, toilets and electricity, all without permission. It followed a series of similar incidents in which travellers have exploited holidays to move in.


NHS faces its biggest cash crisis, with £15bn shortfall, report warns

The National Health Service faces the biggest financial challenge in its history as a result of the economic downturn, with a £15 billion funding shortfall likely in the next decade, according to a report published today.

The NHS Confederation, which represents 90 per cent of NHS organisations, said the next two years would be “tough but manageable” but beyond 2010-11 it would be “very different and extremely challenging”.

Its report — Dealing with the downturn: The greatest ever leadership challenge for the NHS? — said the service should expect a funding shortfall of £15 billion in real terms as a result of the impact of the recession and rising costs. “With little or no cash increase, from 2011-12 the NHS will need to plan for real terms funding to fall by 2.5-3 per cent per annum,” the study said. “This is equivalent to a cut of between £8-10 billion over the next Comprehensive Spending Review and up to £15 billion over five years.”

The report called for immediate action if the service is to continue to keep to its founding principles of providing free care to everyone at the point of need. It warned against “diluting” the quality of patient care and extending waiting lists, or making cuts to training budgets. A solution to the crisis lies in NHS leaders embracing innovation, change and improving efficiency, it said.

Steve Barnett, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that with little or no cash increase from 2011-12, the NHS would need to make “hard decisions about which programmes to fund, how to reward staff and how to reorganise services now”. “If it does not, then the mistakes of the past could be repeated and shortages in funding will translate to the kind of across-the-board cuts which could see waiting lists lengthen, standards fall and dissatisfaction with the service grow among patients and staff,” he said. “The NHS needs to take the opportunity to find efficiencies and savings — I believe it has the people, the ideas and the capacity to meet this challenge but we should be under no illusions of the size of the task ahead.”

Nigel Edwards, the NHS Confederation’s director of policy and author of the report, warned against losing significant improvements in the NHS through “short-term cuts and crude approaches to cost control”. He added: “Quality improvements through greater efficiency and redesigning services can provide the budget savings necessary to navigate this crisis.”

The NHS budget in 2009-10 stands at £102.7 billion — a 7.5 per cent real terms increase on the previous year, according to the Department of Health. Next year, the budget will be £105.8 billion, which it said was a 1.6 per cent increase in real terms.

Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association, said that a funding crisis could be very dangerous for the NHS. “It has the potential to seriously threaten patient services,” Dr Meldrum said. “We agree with the NHS Confederation that difficult choices will have to be made.


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