John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Questions: 31st October 2006
Operational Tour Bonus
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made with the implementation of the operational tour bonus. (John Hemming)

A:Further to my statement to the House on 10 October, I can confirm that all service personnel have now been given full details of the scheme. Our aim is to pay the allowance as soon as possible to all those who have already returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. (Des Browne, Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence)
 
  NHS Dentrstry in Charges Crisis
It looks like the expected increase in charges from NHS Dentistry isn't going to happen. I received a leaked document from the Department of Health that shows potentially a short fall in excess of £100 Million.
 
  Random Calling
One thing that has come up as a result of the progress being made with respect to silent calls is the tendency for companies to call randomly all numbers in a particular range of numbers. This includes all ex-directory numbers. It is probably the case that people need a facility to stop any unrequested calls.
 
Monday, October 30, 2006
  CMO on Expert Witnesses
I have not yet read the CMO's report on Expert Witnesses. There are, however, clearly very substantial problems far beyond just the one case. Problems are diagnosed where they basically don't exist. Then action is taken totally unnecessarily and very damagingly.
 
  Permission Refused
Unsurprisingly today Permission was refused. I still think there is a strong legal case, however and am looking at taking the issue to the Court of Appeal. Otherwise we will continue to have a situation where the government hide problems until it is too late to properly fix them.
 
Sunday, October 29, 2006
  The Queen on the application of Hemming Mp v The Prime Minister
COURT 27
Before MR JUSTICE BENNETT
Monday 30 October, 2006
At half past 10
Applications for Permission
CO/2164/2006 The Queen on the application of Zaluska v East Devon District Council
CO/4705/2006 The Queen on the application of Hemming Mp v The Prime Minister
CO/2173/2006 The Queen on the application of Mehmood v SshdCO/1917/2006 The Queen on the application of Arpa v Sshd
CO/2803/2006 The Queen on the application of Arpa v Sshd
CO/5021/2006 The Queen on the application of Koyuncu v SS Home Department
CO/4637/2006 The Queen on the application of Ileo v SS Home DepartmentCO/8185/2006 The Queen on the application of Agyeman v Secretary Of State For Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs
CO/5534/2006 The Queen on the application of Turner v SS Home Department

Well, we are second on and I carried all three lever arch files and big (1607pp) JR book from the House of Commons to my flat because there were no taxis.

The government's argument is that the courts cannot force ministers to answer questions from MPs. The government are not saying that ministers actually answer questions. All they are saying is that apart from the FoI there is no way of forcing answers from ministers.

I think I have the legal upper hand, but it may have to go to appeal even to get permission.
 
Saturday, October 28, 2006
  Score 3:1 to Children and Families
We now have the results in from two more cases. The scottish case was always a more difficult one because if its nature. The Birmingham case - which is bound by Family Court rules went well.

The newspapers today are starting to recognise that there is a serious problem whinc is endemic in the system. To be fair to the Judges and the Attorney General (Lord Goldsmith) they are doing some work to deal with this.

What we really need, however, is a Clayton order on the Birmingham and Newport Cases so that the consequences of those can be fully recognised. I will, of course, contact Birmingham Social Services about the Birmingham case and its knock on effects. I have already mentioned it.
 
Friday, October 27, 2006
  Marianne Williams Cleared
The second of the results as part of the 5 key cases mentioned below where the results on four are due either yesterday, today or on Monday cleared Marianne Williams of poisoning her son with salt.

There is a really big problem that lies in the use of expert witness evidence to convict people where the expert witnesses have a conflict of interest. In the case of Roy Meadow it was merely that his evidence was "professional misconduct". In other situations you have people who would otherwise potentially be interviewed about the death by the police giving evidence to say "it was the mother".

The Newport Case where children were taken off their parents was a catalogue of errors. In this case I believe relatively well meaning professionals who were wrong and arrogant, but did not initially have a conflict of interest made a catalogue of errors which split a family apart for two years.

There is a lot more to come. There are also still miscarriages of justice that need rectifying. Part of this lies in the secrecy of the family courts. There was an attempt by the conference on Monday to prevent family advocates from attending. However, my understanding is that they are now being permitted to attend.

We do face serious situations where children need to be protected. I spoke this morning at the Internet Watch Foundation that do some excellent work in getting rid of images of abused children. However, there are far too many false positives driven through the system by people who believe that families don't matter. (After all if they believed that families matter why would they frequently ignore the parents.)
 
Thursday, October 26, 2006
  More on GMC Meadow
All three appeal judges concluded that the GMC Fitness to Practise Panel had the right to apply professional sanctions to someone on the basis of expert witness evidence provided. Two of the three thought it was "professional misconduct" and one of the three thought it was "serious professional misconduct". On that basis, however, Roy Meadow returns to the GMC lists and is open now to further charges of "professional misconduct" or "serious professional misconduct" on the basis of other cases where he has provided expert witness evidence. My understanding is that there were 6 other references that were dropped.
 
  Stop Press: GMC can keep powers to act
I have picked this up from the TV so don't know where any links are yet, but the Court of Appeal has found that the GMC has the right to strike off someone for the invalidity of their expert opinion in court.

I do need to see, however, what the detailed judgement has said about Roy Meadow's evidence itself. There is a question as to how many people should be locked up on the basis of "honest mistakes".

Clearly, however, now any people whose references to the GMC were struck out because Roy Meadow was struck off can now have the references reinstated. It is, therefore, not entirely clear whether in the long term Roy Meadow won or lost today. I would not be surprised to see him being brought before the GMC again.
 
  Legal "perfect storm" building for medical profession and social workers - Hemming writes to Attorney General; refers North Staffs hospital to informa
In the context of a "perfect storm" of a number of court and GMC cases campaigning MP John Hemming has written to the Attorney General raising the question of medical expert witnesses who have a conflict of interest providing evidence. He is also referring the University Hospital of North Staffordshire to the Information Commissioner.

John Hemming said, "there are some very important issues going through the courts at the moment. Many of these are, in fact, interlinked. Most of the people working in Social Services have good intentions, but there have been large numbers of appalling miscarriages of justice where families have been destroyed for no good reason.

"There are a number of cases going through the courts at the moment that will reopen the question as to whether the government has simply covered up the failure of the system. Margaret Hodge's review of Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy only found one case which was found to be in error. However, the main proponents of the MSbP thesis and the thesis itself still face numerous challenges in court."

"The secrecy of the family courts has allowed much of this to happen. False allegations have been made by a small number of paediatricians and social workers. These have simply been taken at face value. It is much like the working of the Witchfinder General of Essex Matthew Hopkins who made a very good living in the 1600 falsely accusing women of being witches. Some hundreds were executed. The same process today has resulted in the destruction of large numbers of families and effective life sentences for innocent mothers. Professionals should not be allowed to hide false evidence behind the secrecy of the family courts."

One of the cases involves allegations of Salt Poisoning.
http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_headline=mother-denies-killing-baby-with-salt&method=full&objectid=17913926&siteid=50082-name_page.html
A 15 month old child died in hospital and his mother is being prosecuted for poisoning him with salt. John Hemming MP said, "this case is one of many where a baby dies and the mother is blamed, but the evidence for that is provided by the clinicians who would otherwise be responsible for the child. This is a sad situation and we are wrong as society to always look for someone to blame. Yes, if there is a positive act determined to end the life of the child then action should be taken. However, there is a clear conflict of interest when the people responsible for the health of the child are giving expert opinion to be taken as fact. The outcome of this case will be interesting. It correlates with a number of other alleged Salt Poisonings."

A second case relates to the GMC and Roy Meadow
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-6171779,00.html
John Hemming MP said, "here we have a very similar issue one relating to medical expert witness evidence. There has to be some ability to control the quality of medical opinion offered as evidence. Many women were prosecuted on the basis of "Meadow's law". Meadow's law was shown to be statistically flawed mumbo jumbo. It should not be the case that there can be no constraints on expert evidence that is basically rubbish."

A third case relates to allegations of MSbP in Scotland.
http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=1584202006
John Hemming MP said, "although this case relates to Scots law it is exactly the same issues as the other cases. The outcome of this case will have a bearing on issues in england."

A fourth case is in the English Family courts and has not been reported on.

A fifth case relates to the quasi-judicial proceedings against Professor David Southall
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/333/7573/822-a?ehom
John Hemming MP said, "this GMC hearing which relates to the holding of secret medical research files by Professor Southall is also interlinked. Professor Southall was one of the key expert witnesses who provided medical opinion that destroyed families."

"There remain thousands of files that the patients are unaware of. I am referring the University Hospital of North Staffordshire to the Information Commissioner for their failure to act to tell people that these files exist."

ENDS


Notes for Editors
The following Early Day Motions relating to these issues have been tabled

http://www.blogger.com/

EDM 2768 WORK OF PROFESSOR DAVID SOUTHALL (No. 2) 17.10.2006
That this House notes that over a large number of years Professor Southall has performed risky, interventionist, non-therapeutic, experiments on babies and young children that have been demonstrated to have caused medical difficulties for some of the babies and young children; further notes that project E5 involved over sedating babies, misleading parents as to the discomfort and risk faced by their babies and giving carbon monoxide to babies with respiratory problems; further notes that this has been reported to the General Medical Council; and calls for the General Medical Council to explain why no action has been taken.
http://www.blogger.com/
EDM 2767 WORK OF PROFESSOR DAVID SOUTHALL 17.10.2006

That this House notes that according to the report written by Professor David Hull for North Staffordshire Trust about the work of Professor David Southall in the report written for the University Hospital of North Staffordshire by Professor McLeish and Dr Durbin, Professor McLeish said that Professor Southall `pursued multiple clinical research studies that were poorly designed and therefore were unlikely to produce new knowledge of worth. More worryingly he appears to have had insufficient regard for the ethical standards that should surround all clinical studies in babies'; believes that such comments are important comments that require proper consideration; is surprised that the University Hospital of North Staffordshire is unable to find a copy of this report; calls for the hospital to find a copy of this report and publish its contents; and further calls for an independent judicial or Parliamentary inquiry into the research and clinical activities of Professor David Southall, the failure of the regulatory system to prevent unethical experiments on babies managed by Professor Southall and the misuse of child protection and judicial procedures both to prevent parents from raising complaints about his research and procure children for his research.

http://www.blogger.com/

EDM 2688 INDUCED ILLNESS IN CHILDREN 10.10.2006

That this House notes that guidance from the Department for Education and Skills, entitled Safeguarding Children in Whom Illness is Induced or Fabricated by Carers with Parenting Responsibilities, says that `when a "possible" explanation for the signs and symptoms of illness is that "they may have been fabricated or induced by a carer", and as a consequence the "child's health or development is or is likely to be impaired", a referral should be made to the social services department'; further notes that the effect of the above is to require parents alleged to have induced illness in their children to prove their innocence, rather than to require those accusing parents of inducing illness in their children to prove the guilt of parents; and calls for a review of this guidance.
http://www.blogger.com/

EDM 2679 TAKING CHILDREN INTO CARE 09.10.2006

That this House notes that taking fewer children into care would facilitate the provision for better services for those who have been taken into care; further notes that many children have been taken into care in error in the past; further notes that there is a conflict of interest between social services acting as a supportive service and social services acting as an enforcement-based service; and calls for the Secretary of State for the Department of Education and Skills to review the option of taking the enforcement role out of social services and into a specialist agency.

http://www.blogger.com/

EDM 2678 PROFESSOR DAVID SOUTHALL'S RESEARCH CASE FILES 09.10.2006

That this House notes that Professor David Southall has maintained Special Case files including details of research he has managed on many thousands of babies over a number of years; further notes that it is the view of the Chief Medical Officer that copies of such information should be given to the patients who range throughout England and Wales from Birmingham, through Barnsley to Banbury and Bristol; regrets that the University Hospital of North Staffordshire National Health Service Trust has not as yet done so; and calls for the UHNS Trust to act to rectify this situation.
 
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
  Metropolitan Police Authority Report on Election Fraud
I am not sure where this is available on the web and it has been commented on in the media, but here is part of the report.

Within the MPS, election offences (often referred to as electoral fraud), are investigated by the Special Prosecutions Unit (SPU) of the Counter Terrorism Command (CTC - SO15), as such investigations were previously the remit of SO12 (Special Branch). In relation to the local elections of 4 May 2006, around 30 separate investigations have taken, or are currently taking place. The scale of these investigations differs enormously, from simple allegations involving technical breaches of election law through to a major investigation currently underway in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, where a wide range of apparent fraudulent activity is being investigated. The complexity of these investigations makes it difficult to be precise in counting the number of individual offences involved. A number of these investigations have already concluded, whereas some allegations may be the subject of criminal charges, following directions from the Crown Prosecution Service.
4. Election offences have been alleged across a range of London Boroughs, and there is no particular pattern to the spread of these offences. Similarly, offences under investigation involve the full range of political parties, and include sitting councillors, candidates, elections agents, canvassers and party activists. Offences reported include falsification of nomination papers, impersonation, making false statements about candidates, undue influence on voters, failing to include an ‘imprint’ on election publicity material and non-submission of expenses.

5. One area that has caused, and continues to cause, a great deal of concern is the spread of postal voting on demand. The process of postal voting removes some of the safeguards that come with the traditional method of casting a vote at a polling station, primarily the secrecy of the ballot. There are a number of ways that the postal voting system can be abused, and such abuse can amount to criminal offences of forgery, deception and conspiracy to defraud. The SPU has also seen evidence of a range of questionable practices which call into question the integrity of the postal voting system, but would not amount to criminal offences in their own right. Such activity could be termed ‘sharp practice’. A ‘Code of Conduct’ [2] was prepared jointly by the Electoral Commission and the main political parties, to deal with handling of applications to vote by post and also the handling of postal ballots. It gives clear advice on what is and what is not considered acceptable practice. The ‘Code of Conduct’ has no force in law and the SPU has seen evidence of the Code being ignored by candidates and their supporters.

6. The SPU has received a large number of allegations regarding postal voting irregularities in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH). These allegations have received a considerable amount of local and national press coverage. A number of allegations relating to electoral offences in LBTH were made during the General Election of 2005 (which were the subject of scrutiny by the Greater London Assembly [3]), but there was not sufficient evidence to bring a prosecution. It was not surprising that similar allegations were made this year. Indeed, this was anticipated in a letter from the MPS to the Chairman of the Election Review Committee. LBTH Council informed the SPU at an early stage that they believed that suspicious activity was occurring in relation to postal vote applications, and liaison with the electoral services department took place immediately. The scale and range of the offences alleged meant that a separate investigative team was set up to deal solely with these allegations, and it will continue to work on these matters for the foreseeable future. The nature of the alleged offences being dealt with in LBTH include the fraudulent multiple redirection of postal votes, apparent clusters of disenfranchisement, postal ballot papers being received by those who have not applied for them, postal votes applied for and subsequently not received and various allegations of third parties filling in postal vote application forms and postal ballot papers. This list is by no means exhaustive. It is not possible to go into more detail here as this may compromise ongoing lines of enquiry. This will be a protracted investigation.

7. It is the view of the SPU that widespread use of postal votes has opened up a whole new area to be exploited by the fraudster, and the opportunity has been taken. It is difficult to assess if abuse of postal voting has altered the outcome of local elections, but it is possible. It is the view of the SPU that the postal voting system must be properly managed and scrutinised, otherwise the integrity of the electoral system will be compromised. Previously, council electoral services whilst being responsible for the administration of elections, did not have a clear remit, or the resources, to effectively scrutinise the postal voting system. Nor was there a requirement for postal vote applicants to provide enough information on the application form to allow effective scrutiny. This will change under the Electoral Administration Act 2006, parts of which are already in force.

8. The Electoral Administration Act 2006 has introduced new criminal offences of furnishing false information, or failing to supply information to an electoral registration officer, and also an offence of making a false application to vote by post or by proxy. The Act also places a duty on electoral registration officers to take necessary steps to produce a complete and accurate electoral register. This will require some degree of scrutiny of postal vote applications on the part of local councils. Additionally, the Act requires that all new applicants for postal votes provide their date of birth as well as their signature in a specified manner (i.e. in a way that can be digitally recorded). These changes should make the detection and prosecution of electoral fraud somewhat easier, and will also have a deterrent value. The Electoral Commission continues to press for further legislative changes (e.g. individual electoral registration, rather than household registration) that should reduce the risk of electoral fraud even further. Officers from the SPU have previously given evidence to a Commons Select Committee on electoral fraud matters, and will continue to support the Electoral Commission in their efforts to promote confidence in and increase the integrity of the electoral system.
 
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
  Parliamentary Procedure and reruns of the 1992 General Election
There are odd bits about the workings of parliament that are not generally known. For example it took me a year to get broadband internet access that allows me to down load emails from my email servers (which are outside the network), but I had a pink ribbon for my sword immediately.

Another issue is the differential treatment between members of the House of Commons and those of the House of Lords. Those peers who have been MPs can buy tea in the MPs tea room. Similarly they can have dinner with MPs in the Members Dining room. However whereas MPs are allowed credit accounts Peers have to pay cash on the nail. An enterprising Peer investigated this and found that the House Authorities had too many bad debts from Peers who built up meal debts and then passed on. It is, therefore, the differential mortality between MPs and Peers that has resulted in MPs being allowed to maintain an account and Peers not.

It is quite useful to have some Peers involved in the discussions. Clearly the issue of House of Lords reform is an issue that warrants discussion. Having a fully elected House of Lords could see some people who were previously MPs restanding for election. Could we, for example, see an election in which the General Election leaders of 1992 Neil Kinnock, Margaret Thatcher and Paddy Ashdown are all candidates?
 
Thursday, October 19, 2006
  Ofcom and Silent Calls
It does appear that Ofcom want No Operator Available calls to remain silent as fewer people will complain because they don't know who to complain about.

I have asked Ofcom whether this is true earlier today and they have not as yet responded.
 
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
  Another Social Services Error Corrected
The linked story is to another situation where a medical opinion and rather strange analysis resulted in a family being separated for two years.

I haven't seen the detailed judgement, but at least they have managed to resolve the underlying issue. However, the damage that will have been done by state intervention will be difficult to handle.
 
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Question: 17th October 2006
Convictions
Q:To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what measures are in place to protect those whose convictions are based on an uncorroborated allegation that turns out to be false but has not been formally retracted. (John Hemming)

A:Uncorroborated allegations do not have a special status and are treated as other evidence. The safeguards in place to prevent miscarriages of justice are applicable to all cases regardless of the evidence used to convict the accused. (Gerry Sutcliffe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office)
 
Sunday, October 15, 2006
  GPs and Surgery
I think, looking at the comments from Dr Rant, that the Labour Party's idea that GPs should do more surgery has not been well received.
 
Saturday, October 14, 2006
  Has Conventional Oil Production Peaked?
Notwithstanding all the complications of oil production (such as problems at Prudhoe Bay, foolish invasions of oil rich countries etc) there will come a point at which Oil Production will peak. This will be preceeded by Conventional Oil Production peaking. The link is to some work on my main reference website sourced from the EIA by Mike Pepler. This indicates that Conventional Oil Production (ignoring deepwater and that from gas production) may have peaked).

ASPO newsletter No 70 is out now and includes the following:
Discovery so far in 2006
The Offshore Journal has collected information on discoveries this year through June. They amount to the following:
In less than 500m water depth : 25 discoveries totalling 0.87 Gb of oil and 6.8 Tcf of gas
In 500-1500m of water : 8 discoveries totalling 0.75 Gb and 0.93 Tcf of gas
In more than 1500m of water : 7 discoveries totalling 1.6 Gb of oil and 2 Tcf of gas
So, the total amounts to 3.2 Gb of oil and 9.7 Tcf of gas of which only 1.6 Gb qualifies as Regular Conventional Oil.

Discovery continues to run far below consumption, with the shortfall in gas being
particularly noteworthy.

An large earlier discovery by Chevron, known as the Jack Field, lying at a depth of over 28 000 feet under 7000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, has been announced. It represents a remarkable technological achievement but at the same time reflects the extreme desperation of the industry, evidently having little easier left to test. This achievement contrasts with BP’s experience at Thunder Horse field in the
Gulf of Mexico, where the wellhead manifold failed under pressure testing, delaying the development by more than a year.


Remember that the world uses about 24Gb of oil per year.
 
  ARRSE
The link is to A.R.R.S.E. The British ARmy RUmour SErvice.

It is interesting how the media have picked up on what is effectively army gossip with various squaddies making anonymous comments in support of Sir Richard Dannatt.

Sir Richard should have expected to be sacked in making the comments he did. However, actually what should happen is that the goverment should recognise that their policy in Iraq (and also in Helmand) is wrong.

None of these things are Rocket Science (notwithstanding the use of RPGs). Human nature has been the same over years. People resist occupations simply because there is an occupation. It does not matter to that extent how many empty schools are built. If there is an occupation the people will resist it. The greater the force of the occupation the greater the resistance until such a point as it cannot increase.

The real problem, of course, is that although you can "up the ante" trying to cool things down is difficult.

Still we will see what happens over the weekend. If Sir Richard remains in post we must see a change in military policy.
 
Friday, October 13, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Question: 13th October 2006
Freedom of Information
Q:To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the local authorities which have applied under the Freedom of Information Act for information from his Department in 2006; and what information they have applied for. (John Hemming)

A:holding answer 27 February 2006

I have been asked to reply.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department for Communities and Local Government (including the Government offices for the regions) have received the following requests for information from local authorities in 2006. All requests, including those by organisations, are made by named individuals. We are unable to determine whether the request has been made by an individual, or on behalf of the local authority as a whole. (Angela Smith, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government)

(for the table, please follow the link)
 
  Dr Rant on Health Statistics

"The BBC is reporting that 43% of Hospital Trusts were caught by 'lie detector software'.
"What does this tell us?
"It tells us that the lie detection software gives a false negative 57% of the time."


Dr Rant is a perhaps slightly less vitriolic version of AngryNHSDoc, who was forced by management to take his blog down. AngryNHSDoc made a number of useful points that it is worth people being aware of:

  1. Statistics are fiddled (see also Dr Rant).
  2. People abuse the NHS.
  3. Doctors don't think NHS Direct is of much benefit.

The way in which things are reported, however, means that much of what the Healthcare Commission said recently was meaningless to patients. For example a PCT that set a target of 12% of smoking pregnant mothers and hit 16% failed. A PCT that set a target of 16% and hit it passed.

It creates a culture whereby people should only set targets that they know they can hit.

We also have the QoF which is where points mean pounds to GP Practises. The idea of a single handed GP now getting £450,000 is quite amazing. However, if you tick lots of boxes you get paid a lot of money.

There are a lot of complex medical ethics issues as well. To what extent should doctors report which patients have any mental health problems. Quite a few people have depression from time to time (see Alistair Campbell). Should the GPs report that to the government?

I do need to find out how much over all QoF is costing and which of the results of this are worth having.
 
  "Troops Out" - in the Daily Mail ?
It is not surprising to have people calling for the withdrawal of Troops from Iraq. It is not surprising to have people saying that the presence of British Troops:

a) Makes the security situation worse in Iraq
b) Causes problems for Britain around the world
c) Causes further difficulties in the UK.

What is surprising is that it is the Army Chief of Staff Sir Richard Dannatt and it is in the Daily Mail.

The article is a good article that I almost agree with entirely. However, I do have a disagreement about Afghanistan. I think that the actions of the Troops in Helmand could have a long term impact. It is important to remember that there is a sort of "Gremlin" effect whereby when you kill an Afghan their Cousin-Brothers are duty bound to obtain revenge. You therefore get a "Gremlin factor" where for each one who dies two or more take their place.

This is the difficulty with a military strategy of occupation. You cannot win "hearts and minds" by killing people. If the objective is to win "hearts and minds" then approaches such as that in Helmand are destined to add to difficulties.

It is also important for occupying forces to remember that people will very rarely tell them to their faces to go. After all they don't want to be shot and the occupying forces hold the guns. The UK Government's argument about the Iraqi government's wish for UK forces to remain in Iraq fails on this point.
 
Thursday, October 12, 2006
  Politics through Humour (Reductio ad absurdum)
The law to get rid of Brian Haw (which hasn't actually achieved its objective) has resulted in a number of consequences. The linked story is about Mark Thomas's 21 demonstrations in a day.

This is a good bit of his article:
Through earlier protests, I have got to know the man who coordinates the requests quite well. PC Paul McInally now handles most of the Socpa applications. "What can I do for you today, Mark?" he asks, as we sit in the interview room.

"I've got 21 forms for you."

"Right then," he says in a businesslike fashion, "let's go through them." I like PC McInally. We sort of bonded a few months ago when I handed in an application to demand the immediate sacking of Superintendent Terry.

"You want to sack my direct superior!" PC McInally had spluttered.

"Yes, please."

"I've got to go and ask him if you can have a demonstration calling for him to be sacked?"

"I believe so." I said. And although he shook his head when he left the room, he was smiling.
 
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
  Secret Medical Files
If medical records are held on someone then they should be provided to them. What I cannot understand is why the University Hospital of North Staffordshire have not yet done this with the Special Case files.
 
Monday, October 09, 2006
  Hospital Closures - Not a political issue ?!? (Nothing to do with me gov)
Both David Cameron and Gordon Brown appear to be suggesting that Hospital Closures and other "service reconfigurations" should not be a political issue.

David Cameron will set out plans today to give the NHS greater protection from political interference. The Conservative "independence Bill" for the NHS would put crucial decisions on its running and resources beyond the control of ministers by 2008.

This proposal is along the lines of Gordon Brown's. It is like Patricia Hewitt disclaiming responsibility for all of the decisions of PCTs. What it actually means is politicians opting out of decisions as to whether or not services are changed.

However superficially attractive this may seem to the tabloids it would result in a situation in which ordinary citizens become powerless in influencing what happens with the NHS. Bringing in proper accountability at PCT level would be far more effective.
 
Friday, October 06, 2006
  Has Michael Crick selected the Tory Candidate for Battersea?
It would not surprise me at all to find out that the tory party's new "open selection" system for candidates has resulted in Labour activists deciding who the Tory candidate is (see Recess Monkey).

I would be more surprised if Michael Crick had managed to be one of the 300 voters as they should be able to recognise him.

Still if you allow the Labour Party to select the Tory Candidates that is one way of making the Tories the same as Labour.
 
  Has Michael Crick selected the Tory Candidate for Battersea?
It would not surprise me at all to find out that the tory party's new "open selection" system for candidates has resulted in Labour activists deciding who the Tory candidate is (see Recess Monkey).

I would be more surprised if Michael Crick had managed to be one of the 300 voters as they should be able to recognise him.

Still if you allow the Labour Party to select the Tory Candidates that is one way of making the Tories the same as Labour.
 
  Ken Wins - good news
I will be interested to read the judgement whereby the suspension of Ken Livingstone for a comment he made when slightly tired and emotional by the Standards Board/Adjudication Panel is quashed.

The APE and Standards Board have censored councillors for really silly reasons (such as baking a cake). I take the view that actually the courts should be used to enforce local government standards and all the silly cases should be thrown in the bin.

It is up to the voters to decide who represents them. Only when there are serious abuses should the courts get involved.
 
  Written Parliamentary Questions: 6th October 2006
Relative Need
Q:To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the relative need factors are; and what value they have for the financial year 2006-07.(John Hemming)

A:I have been asked to reply.

The Relative Needs Formulae are, based on the demographic, physical and social characteristics of each area, used in the calculation of Formula Grant. Formula Grant comprises Revenue Support Grant, Redistributed Business Rates and principal formula Police Grant.

In 2006-07, the total of all the Relative Needs Formulae is factor of 0.67811309347259. The total for each of the separate Relative Needs Formulae are given in Annex E of the Local Government Finance Report (England) 2006-07.

The Relative Needs Formulae for each local authority can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at:

http://www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/0607/g:rant.htm
(Phil Woolas, Minister of State (Local Government & Community Cohesion), Department for Communities and Local Government)

Inmate Information System
Q:To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what fields of data are stored in the Inmate Information System (IIS); for what reason information on deportation order recommendations were not stored in the IIS; and if he will ensure that such information is stored in the IIS in the future. (John Hemming)

A:The Inmate Information System (IIS) records a large number of fields covering personal, offence and sentence details and disciplinary adjudications. It can identify a prisoner as a deportee but only when they are not also serving a custodial sentence. When IIS was introduced, the numbers of foreign national prisoners recommended for deportation were relatively small. IIS is to be replaced by the C-NOMIS system from 2007 and this will record recommendations for deportation. (Liam Byrne, Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office)
 
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
  Baby's salt death may be accident
This story about a prosecution of a mother for poisoning her son with salt shows a key conflict between Medical Logic and Legal Logic.

The Doctor concerns believes honestly that the mother poisoned the child, but he has no evidence and was "unable to exclude the possibility that an accident was made".

We really need to be able to have criminal trials based upon evidence rather than opinion. Doctors may make educated guesses about diagnoses which on the balance of probabilities are right. However, just because a doctor thinks there is a 60% chance that someone is guilty does not mean that they are guilty. There are too many cases where people are prosecuted without proper evidence. A "medical opinion" is not evidence.
 
  Angry NHS Doctor bites the dust (2)
Initially when I copied the cached blog entries from the censored Angry NHS Doctor onto my website I didn't have time to read them. I have managed to do this now.

I am sure the revelation that the figures used for NHS Targets are fiddled from time to time would concern the management of the hospitals. However, it is not as if it is a secret. Targets have been fiddled for as long as there have been targets so it is not in any way a surprise. I suppose it is a bit more surprising that someone admits it, but the blog was anonymous and I don't know which hospital it refers to.
 
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
  Angry NHS Doctor bites the dust
An individual who used to post as Angry NHS doctor has been forced to stop posting and remove his posts. HOwever, I have found the old posts in cyberspace and copied them to my website. Please note that I do not in any way endorse anything he said, but I am unhappy with him being silenced by the management.

Angry NHS Doctor - revived
 
Monday, October 02, 2006
  I don't believe it
Followers of my blog may have noticed that I have been looking at the research of Professor David Southall of North Staffordshire NHS Trust.

Recently I obtained a leak of the report of Professor Hull into Professor Southall's research at NSNHST. The whole issue is quite complex, but there is part of this report I cannot really believe is written down.

Professor Hull is the same Professor Hull that wrote the report that showed that Beverley Allitt was not responsible for most of the deaths of the patients she was responsible for.

(See this BMJ report)

He has analysed various research projects many of which I am worried about. E5 is the most incredible, however. (and that takes some doing)

E5 involves giving babies with breathing problems Carbon Monoxide to measure their oxygen diffusing capacity.

Now using CO at low concentrations to measure oxygen diffusing is known Eg here

However, it is quite clear that:
5.1 Absolute contraindications to performing a diffusing capacity test are
5.1.1 the presence of carbon monoxide toxicity
5.1.2 dangerous levels of oxyhemoglobin desaturation without supplemental oxygen.


In other words according to the respiratory care journal it should not be given to babies who need extra oxygen (the babies selected for this test).

Now what makes me almost fall off my seat in shock is the following in Professor Hull's hyper secret report:

4.5.1 Were the invesigations safe?

Inert gases. One arm of this investigation was the measurement of pulmonary blood flow using inert gases.


To me the inert gases are Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton and Xenon, Radon is inert chemically, but not in a nuclear sense. Methane is not really inert, but Carbon Monoxide cannot be described as an inert gas.
 
Sunday, October 01, 2006
  Birmingham is Best
There have been two surveys recently that have put Birmingham at the top of UK cities as as place to live.

I have collated this information on my main reference website (see link). One hobby of various people is to criticise Birmingham. Self-criticism has merits because it facilitates improvement. However, it is worth recognising that the City is a good place to live.

We should not be complacent, but neither should we merely accept the statements of those criticising the city.
 
  On the spot fines
The big question about "on the spot fines" is what they replace. If they replace cautions then I would think this is an improvement. If, however, it undermines the severity of offences such as assaulting a police officer then it is a clear deterioration in the message issued by the criminal justice system.
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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