Monday, October 22, 2007

At Your Service. Not.

Here is this morning's "public service" news:

  • Commissars ignored hospital superbug- The Department of Health knew of a damning report into an outbreak of Clostridium difficile at a hospital trust in Kent more than five months ago and failed to act. A draft copy of the Healthcare Commission report was first received by the health department on May 3, yet ministers only intervened when the document became public in October. The outbreak "probably or definitely" killed at least 90 people. (Telegraph 22.10.07)

  • Big rewards for revolving door bosses- The health service paid out more than £38million in redundancy and retirement packages to managers during the NHS cash crisis. The average settlement for 124 board level managers was £308,000, handed out as cuts were being made to services... Many of those made redundant will have simply walked back into another job. Derek Smith, the chief executive of Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust is understood to have received a payout worth more than £300,000 when he was made redundant in June. Just two months later it was announced he would take over as interim chief executive at University Hospitals of Leicester with a £100,000 salary. (Telegraph 22.10.07)


  • 69,000 excluded thugs allowed to return- Tens of thousands of children who physically assaulted their fellow pupils or teachers were allowed back to school last year. New figures, compiled by the Department of Children, Schools and Families, showed 62,670 secondary school pupils assaulted another child and another 8,240 assaulted a teacher. But just 2,000 of these violent pupils were permanently excluded from schools in England, making a mockery of Labour's pledge to improve discipline. (Telegraph 22.10.07)

  • Good schools punished- Good schools could be forced to hand back thousands of pounds every year under a new Government "tax" on prudent head teachers. Head teachers at some of the best-performing state schools in the country fear they will be forced to axe staff or raid library budgets to finance building programmes instead of tapping into their savings. One accused ministers of a "devious and unprincipled" attack on successful schools, which undermined claims head teachers had been being given greater freedom under Labour. Under the plan, any school with extra money at the end of the year will be forced to hand a share back to town halls... even if it is being saved for new buildings, playground improvements, sports facilities or drama studios. (Telegraph 22.10.07)

  • Get out if you possibly can- The middle-class exodus from state schools in London is speeding up, with nearly half of children in some parts of the capital now privately educated... In 2000 22.6 per cent of children in Hammersmith and Fulham were educated independently. Now the figure is 25.6 per cent. Other inner-London boroughs have seen similar shifts. In Wandsworth, the proportion in independent schools has risen from 15.1 to 18.7 per cent... Independent school fees have increased to an average of about £11,000 a year. (Times 22.10.07)

Regional Robbery

  • England now forced to pay for Scots' prescriptions- While millions of patients in England will still be expected to pay for vital medication, prescriptions in Scotland will be available free of charge within four years. The move was cited as the starkest example yet of the "unfairness" of the current funding arrangement, with English taxpayers forced to pay towards improvements to health care and education available only in Scotland. Scottish residents already have access to free eye care and dental check ups, free personal care for the elderly, extra central heating grants and a number of drugs deemed "too costly" for the National Health Service in England and Wales. As a result of plans announced earlier this summer, Scottish students will receive a free university education and pupils in the early years of primary school could soon be taught in class sizes as small as 18. (Telegraph 22.10.07)

Health and Safety Gestapo

  • Stamping out community events- Firefighters have backed out of a long-standing agreement to take down their town’s festival bunting because health and safety rules no longer allow them to climb ladders to remove it. The town council has insisted that Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service must go through risk assessment procedures, despite their expertise with ladders... In Clevedon, near Bristol, North Somerset Council told traders that lights could no longer be attached to lampposts or buildings, making a display unworkable. In Sandwell, West Midlands, traders were told that lights could not be hung across roads in case the cables broke. In Bodmin, Cornwall, the council faces a £1,200 bill to train two workers to test all 150 bolts holding lights or cables, using a cherry-picker. On top of that the council must cover wages and the cost of hiring the equipment, and shut town-centre streets while the work is done. In Dereham, Norfolk, traders face a bill of more than £10,000 for Christmas lights. Health and safety issues have contributed heavily to the cost. (Times 22.10.07)

Have a nice day.

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