Monday, September 24, 2007

Wet Monday

Autumn. The rain is lashing down, mornings are getting darker, and we're facing an endless future of Gordo. Here is the news:

Crime- Annie Williams was battered and left unconscious by a burglar who broke into her house in Fforestfach, Swansea, in the early hours of Saturday. The 75-year-old was found by a neighbour and taken to the city's Morriston Hospital, where she has been treated for bruising and multiple facial fractures.

Plague- After its initial escape from the government's own lab, foot and mouth is spreading fast. Now we've got Blue Tongue, and the locusts are on their way.

Welfare fraud- A gang of African asylum seekers pocketed £400,000 in a benefits scam - then used the cash to start building a hotel back home. The four Angolans stole giro cheques and laundered them through fake bank accounts.

Danger hospitals- Details of dozens of NHS blunders have been disclosed- a baby needing to be sedated was given 10 times the correct dose of morphine... a child had the wrong teeth extracted... a patient had a hole drilled on the wrong side of his head after a mix up over left and right in the hospital records for the craniotomy...

Numties- A police force has banned hundreds of its officers from riding bicycles for safety reasons... Police chiefs say they fear the officers do not have enough training to handle road conditions across Greater Manchester.

Troughs- Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, the husband-and-wife team in Gordon Brown's Cabinet, have been accused of "breaking the spirit" of Commons rules by using MPs' allowances to help pay for a £655,000 home in north London.

Stalinism- Despite Gordo talking the smart talk of "personalised care", there is now to be a further list of centrally dictated NHS targets: all cervical screening test results to be issued within 14 days; the age range of women eligible for breast cancer screening, and for men and women for bowel cancer, to be extended; specialist appointments to be guaranteed within two weeks of referral for all suspected breast cancer patients. There is apparently even to be a promise that all hospitals will be compulsorily "deep cleaned" – scrubbed with disinfectant and steam-cleaned – every 18 months. (Presumably there will be Whitehall officials donning the rubber gloves and descending on hospital wards to inspect the cleaning arrangements?)All of these things – desirable as they would be in themselves – are yet more central government diktats which intrude into the detail of hospital practice and healthcare clinical administration. (Tyler was going to blog this today, but there's nothing to add to Janet Daley's excellent column).

The only real question is which bit of Australia would be best? One of Tyler's relatives runs a massive cattle ranch somewhere in the middle, but Tyler has always fancied an ocean view.

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