Tag Archives: risk

POLL: is the Supreme Court right to refuse Shamima Begum’s bid to return to the UK for trial?

Shamima Begum: she won’t be allowed to return to the UK and fight for her citizenship.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Shamima Begum should not be allowed to return to the UK to fight for her citizenship to be restored.

Its members unanimously overruled a decision by the Court of Appeal that said she would not be able to make an effective appeal from the camp in northern Syria where she is currently living.

The Home Office had appealed against the decision on the grounds that allowing her to return would create “significant national security risks”.

The Supreme Court agreed:

Lord Reed said: “The Supreme Court unanimously allows all of the home secretary’s appeals and dismisses Ms Begum’s cross-appeal.”

He said the Court of Appeal’s judgment “did not give the home secretary’s assessment the respect which it should have received” given the role’s “responsibility for making such assessments” and accountability to parliament.

Lord Reed added the Court of Appeal had “mistakenly believed that, when an individual’s right to have a fair hearing… came into conflict with the requirements of national security, her right to a fair hearing must prevail.”

He said the right to a fair hearing did “not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public”.

Ms Begum has proved extremely divisive among some members of the UK community.

She was enticed abroad to join Islamic State, aged just 15, and married a Dutch IS fighter – with whom she had three children. They have all died.

After IS largely collapsed, she found herself in a refugee camp and appealed for the UK’s government to return her to this country, so she could rely on the National Health Service to care for her and her last child, before that child died.

But then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid instead stripped her of her UK citizenship, citing the by-then-20-year-old’s still-apparent enthusiasm for the bloodthirsty regime she fled the country to join.

Some said she had been groomed and did not know what she was doing; some said she knew exactly what she was about.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), a semi-secret court that hears national security cases, ruled that Mr Javid was right and Ms Begum could appeal for citizenship to Bangladesh, to which she may have a claim to nationality through her mother.

The Court of Appeal overruled that judgement and now the Supreme Court has reversed that decision.

Some are now saying that Ms Begum is now in legal limbo. She isn’t – she can still make her appeal from Syria, using lawyers in the UK.

But is that a reasonable course of action? Let’s have a poll:

Source: Shamima Begum cannot return to UK, Supreme Court rules – BBC News

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Bald men face higher risk of severe Covid-19, researchers claim

Anyone who has seen This Writer in person may be aware that I would have reason to be very worried about this – if I took it seriously.

Trouble is, this is just as likely to be a scare story of the kind that the Daily Mail used to run all the time. Is there anything left that that rag hasn’t claimed causes cancer?

Bald men may be at higher risk of suffering from severe Covid-19 symptoms, emerging evidence suggests.

The link is so strong that some researchers are suggesting baldness should be considered a risk factor called the “Gabrin sign”, after the first US physician to die of Covid-19 in the United States, Dr Frank Gabrin, who was bald.

The lead author of the key study behind the association, Professor Carlos Wambier of Brown University, told The Telegraph: “We really think that baldness is a perfect predictor of severity.”

Data since the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in January has shown that men are more likely to die after getting coronavirus. In the UK, a report this week from Public Health England found that working-age males were twice as likely as females to die after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Until recently, scientists have been at a loss at why this might be, pointing to factors such as lifestyle, smoking, and immune system differences between the sexes. But increasingly they believe it could be because androgens – male sex hormones like testosterone – may play a part not only in hair loss, but also in boosting the ability of coronavirus to attack cells.

This raises the possibility that treatments suppressing these hormones, such as those used for baldness as well as diseases like prostate cancer, could be used to slow the virus down, giving patients time to fight it off.

Source: Bald men at higher risk of severe case of Covid-19, research finds

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By discriminating against the self-employed, Sunak is risking coronavirus spread

Rishi Sunak: Why is he discriminating against the self-employed?

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to stop discriminating against people who are self-employed – because he putting them at risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Sunak has announced a generous deal for employees who are ‘furloughed’ – kept in employment but unable to work because of the disease-related lockdown – of 80 per cent of their wages, up to £2,500 per month.

Self-employed people get just £94.25 a week in Universal Credit – if they can navigate the “byzantine” application procedure. And they’ll have the same if they have to claim Employment and Support Allowance after contracting the virus.

Only 16 per cent of workers accept that this amount would meet their basic needs.

It is claimed Sunak is risking public health by discriminating against the self-employed in this way, because he is incentivising self-employed taxi-drivers, couriers, other gig economy workers and zero-hours contractors to keep working while ill.

Solicitors Leigh Day were to send a pre-action letter to the government on March 23, on behalf of the Independent Workers of Great Britain union, ahead of issuing proceedings for a High Court judicial review.

The Tories say it is “operationally very difficult” to put in place a scheme for the self-employed, similar to that for employees.

But the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) says it could be assessed and delivered through the self-assessment tax system that millions of self-employed workers already use.

One thing is certain: the longer this drags on, the more self-employed people will be at risk.

And the more self-employed people come under threat, the more likely it will seem that this is the Tories’ intention.

Source: Rishi Sunak under pressure to bail out self-employed | Politics | The Guardian

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It is Boris Johnson – not Jeremy Corbyn – who is a risk to the UK’s security

If The Sun is to be believed (and it isn’t), the UK general election has now descended to such a farcical level that people are being asked to decide which of the main party leaders poses the lowest risk to national security.

That’s what I get from the front page of today’s Sun, anyway:

But we’ve been here before – less than five months ago – when the papers were saying it was Mr Johnson who was the risk:

Back then, it was fellow Tory Jeremy Hunt who sounded the alarm, claiming Mr Johnson’s tumultuous private life (about which I hope I don’t have to state much here, I hope) made him a prime candidate for blackmail by foreign powers. Indeed, it seems former prime minister Theresa May blocked him from receiving sensitive information on the grounds that it would be unsafe with him – although Mr Johnson himself has denied this.

Since then, we have experienced several scandals which tend to support this theory.

First, Mr Johnson was alleged to be in hock to a cadre of shadowy hedge fund bosses who allegedly funded his campaign to become the leader of the Tory Party – in return for which, it was claimed, he was to deliver a “no deal” Brexit from which they would profit by a staggering £8 billion.

Then it was suggested that a report on Russia’s possible influence over UK politics may include revelations indicating that Mr Johnson is in the pocket of the Kremlin.

How risible, then – how ridiculous – that Mr Johnson’s allegations against Mr Corbyn include a claim that the Labour leader would “bow down” to the Kremlin.

Like the other lies which The Sun presented as if they were true – that Mr Corbyn has a history of siding with the IRA and Palestinian terrorists – there isn’t a scrap of truth to it.

The claims about the IRA are in fact references to the fact that Mr Corbyn kept on good terms with all political sides in the so-called ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland; if he had not done so, the Good Friday Agreement would have been much more difficult to achieve. In contrast, when he was doing this in the 1980s and 90s, Conservative governments led by Margaret Thatcher and John Major were negotiating with the real terrorists – and lying about it to the general public.

The allegations about connections with Palestinian terrorism have all been disproved and dismissed. They seem to revolve around the fact that Mr Corbyn advocates a peaceful solution to hostilities between the Israeli government and the people of Palestine. It seems strange that a politician who calls for peace should be said to be siding with terrorists, but that’s Tory logic for you.

So it seems Mr Johnson has put another choice before the people of the UK:

Do you believe the lies about Jeremy Corbyn – or the facts about Mr Johnson?

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NHS falls deeper into crisis while May – who caused it – babbles about extra funding

GPs’ workloads rose by 16 per cent in the seven years to 2017, according to the chair of the RCGP

I seem to have touched a nerve with my article about the new GP contract – especially as information released subsequently shows the situation is getting worse.

According to the BBC – using numbers from the Nuffield Trust – the number of doctors working in general practice has gone into a “sustained” freefall, for the first time in 50 years:

“The NHS is seeing the first sustained fall in GP numbers in the UK for 50 years, the BBC can reveal.

“An analysis by the Nuffield Trust think tank for the BBC shows the number of GPs per 100,000 people has fallen from nearly 65 in 2014 to 60 last year.

“There have been reports of waits of up to seven weeks for a routine appointment, while those needing urgent appointments have been forced to queue outside practices in the early morning to guarantee to be seen.

“One in three junior doctors who accept places on GP training courses, drops out of the system, according to the Nuffield Trust. Meanwhile, the numbers retiring early have been increasing. Two-thirds of retirements by GPs come early – double the rate seen just five years ago.

“The BMA said doctors were being asked to work longer and harder, without recognition or an increase in pay. Dr Richard Vautrey, of the BMA, said workloads were now “unmanageable” for many.”

Another survey, carried out by Pulse magazine for the BBC’s Panorama, showed that those GPs who are left are being forced to see almost double the number of patients they should, while working 11-hour shifts. This means they are openly making mistakes that could put patients at risk.

The Independent stated: “GPs are working an average 11-hour day, including eight hours of care and three hours of paperwork… On average, each GP dealt with 41 patients per day, despite saying 30 was a safe number. One doctor in 10 dealt with 60 or more patients a day – double the safe limit.”

The article quoted one doctor who said as well as patient demand, there was a “workload dump” from secondary hospital care: “This workload creates patient safety risks. There are risks around having multiple patient notes open because we’re helping a nurse out with hers, or we’re 30 minutes late so we see the next patient while finishing the notes of the last.

“We might forget consultant details, plans and actions, or prescribe for the wrong person, use the wrong labels on blood tests, and so on.

“I have raised safety concerns with governing bodies before. I was basically told to shut up or my practice would be run over with a fine-toothed comb.”

And the piece mentioned a report in March from the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation predicted that GP shortages in England will almost triple to 7,000 by 2023-24. It said the government would miss its target to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020 and the only way to cope with the growing workload was to put more pharmacists and physiotherapists into GP practices.

This seems to support the new GP contract and the idea of creating “primary care networks” on a US-style model, with less-qualified staff seeing patients, meaning confidentiality is lost and it will be almost impossible to see a genuine doctor.

Primary Care Commissioning, an organisation which seems dedicated to the creation of these networks, is running a series of podcasts about what it does – which will undoubtedly present a rose-tinted view that would shame any skilled diagnostitian. Here’s the first:

Before you start thinking these new PCNs don’t sound so bad, bear in mind that the government has overseen a fall in the number of nurses available to the NHS, as well. Here’s a short Twitter thread about it, prefaced by Dr Jacky Davis, co-editor of NHS:SOS:

Meanwhile, in Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May had the front not only to claim that there’s nothing wrong, but also to lie that her government was giving the NHS its largest injection of cash in history: “It is this Government, with their long-term plan, who are ensuring that we give that care to staff. NHS staff work hard, caring for patients, and this Government will care for NHS staff. It is only because we are able to give the NHS its biggest cash boost in its history and to give it that long-term plan that we will deliver for NHS staff.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn put her straight: “Under the last Labour Government, NHS investment rose by 6% a year, but under this Government it has barely reached 1.5%. Five thousand nurses and midwives from European Union countries have left the NHS in the past two years, and there are 100,000 staff vacancies across the NHS in England alone.

“Nobody on this side of the House ever talks down the NHS—it is Labour’s greatest achievement. The principle of healthcare free at the point of need as a human right was a Labour achievement, and every Tory MP voted against it.”

But the Conservatives currently have control, and are re-modelling the NHS in England to make it resemble the private, American model into which they want to sell it.

What are you going to do about it?

Help find this woman before sleeping in bins gets her killed

Have you seen the young woman in the picture above?

She was last seen in Deepdene Gardens, just off Brixton Hill in London – sleeping in a wheelie bin. If she had not been spotted, she may have been scooped up by a refuse collection truck and crushed to death.

This is the risk run by rough-sleeping homeless people if they sleep in these bins – although they may not know it.

I refer you to a story on This Site from December 2014 – four years ago:

“‘One of our clients was sanctioned. He had
no money for seventeen weeks. He was
scavenging in a bin, the lorry came, picked
him up and he was crushed to death.’

“The above is a statement by Vince Hessey, a member of the board of trustees at Birkenhead YMCA (listed as YMCA Wirral), given in evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom, printed in the section entitled The vulnerability of people relying on food banks.

“A decision by a UK government employee, following guidelines set down by UK government ministers, led to a man being crushed to death in a refuse collection lorry.

This was one of many incidents that would not have happened if UK government policy had been different.

The UK government clearly couldn’t care less.”

The young woman who was found in the wheelie bin might have suffered the same fate as the man in that previous story (and others – he wasn’t the only person to die in that manner), if she had not been found and recorded by a refuse collector, as the following clip, placed on Twitter by Chris Furlong, shows:

The clip was subsequently retweeted by @UnityNewsUK, whose author stated: “This girl was last seen sleeping in a bin in Deepdene just off Brixton hill in London. Please can we identify her and get her some help before it’s too late. Nobody should have to live like this.”

Predictably, the clip attracted criticism from some quarters – but it is welcome that the critic was satisfied with the response:

The fact that a person was discovered risking her life in this way has drawn horrified responses on the social media, along with vilification of the Conservative government who put her there with its cruel policies and indifference to the hardship they created.

@kandisholland18 tweeted: “THIS IS THE UK. This is what @theresa_may is ignoring this is what IS SEEN AS A NORMAL THING TO DO! Young and old left in the cold with nowhere to turn. They just want us poor to curl up and be lost forever. The uk government are evil and do not care about us

@nickylabour4eva added: “The Tories are destroying everything good and decent about British society. It’s about more than Brexit isn’t it?”

@DebsaDelight commented: “She was so resigned to her fate. What a monstrous time we live in.”

This was from @pincushion: “Heart breaking – thanks to everyone who are trying to help her. I hate this bloody government.”

For Sarah Harten (@LOVELFCTODEATH), this was the main issue: “So sad. And all these overpaid industries out there. People with more money then they know what to do with. Was the human race really put here to sleep in bins streets and doorways?”

And Pamela McIntosh made this appeal: “How can this be happening in our country? This is someone’s daughter. Please help.”

One person who wants to help all homeless people is Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. In the week when Housing Secretary James Brokenshire tried to say homelessness was nothing to do with Conservative government policies, Mr Corbyn released the following clip:

And in response to a BBC appeal for suggested ways to end homelessness, Labour-supporting Twitter account Tory Fibs sent the following:

But these changes can only happen when a Labour government, led by Mr Corbyn, is elected.

For now, people like the young woman in this story are endangering themselves by sleeping in refuse collection bins.

If you have seen this woman – or if you see her after reading this – there are many charitable organisations offering help for homeless people; please ask one to make contact with her. You’ll be helping save a young life.

And that’s more than the Tories will ever do.

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Report warns of health and earnings risk to unpaid family carers


It’s about time the spotlight swung round to illuminate the plight of unpaid family carers.

I’m one, and I can confirm that life for carers like me is a never-ending, thankless struggle to make ends meet, combat government attempts to terminate my partner’s sickness and disability benefits (and my own Carer’s Allowance), cope with my partner’s mood swings that can make me feel entirely unappreciated, and avoid knock-on effects on my physical and mental health as well.

I am fortunate enough to be able to earn a little extra cash by writing This Site (although it has attracted enmity from certain vested interests who are determined to deprive me of this valuable income stream by disparaging my articles and my character – click on the link to my JustGiving site for further information on that).

Others have to rely on government funding that is dwindling in value every year.

It is an agonising struggle to avoid being crushed between the rock of my partner’s needs and the hard place of increasing financial pressures.

The report mentioned below makes recommendations – but these relate only to carers who are also employees.

Much more help is required.

Nearly eight million family carers in the UK are “propping up the care system” by providing unpaid care for relatives and other loved-ones, whilst also paying a significant personal and financial price for the care they provide, according to a new report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank.

Research has calculated that around 7.6 million adults are giving up their time to provide unpaid care for relatives, up 1 million since 2005 and equal to almost 15% of adults living in the UK.

In [a] report published on Monday, the SMF says the proportion of family carers providing 20 or more hours of unpaid care each week has increased from 24% in 2005 to reach 28% in 2015, with family carers providing an average 19.5 hours of unpaid care each week.

In total, family carers are sacrificing 149 million hours to care for loved-ones every week, equal to 4 million paid care-givers working full-time hours.

However, this level of unselfishness can have a devastating impact on the carers’ health and work prospects, with family carers less likely to be in employment than non-carers and more likely to earn far less.

Source: Nearly 8 million unpaid carers are ‘propping up’ the broken care system

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Why did the Department of Health fail to highlight the increased risk of suicide among disability benefit claimants?

The Health Department’s offices in Whitehall.

There can only be one answer: The Department of Health doesn’t have a good enough excuse.

If there had been a good reason, we would have heard it; we haven’t.

So there isn’t a good reason.

Has the Health Department been in collusion with the Department for Work and Pensions to hide the threat to people with long-term illnesses and disabilities?

If so, then protestations about multiple causes of suicide are moot.

The facts indicate that a suicide risk exists – and has existed for several years.

In failing to highlight such a risk, it seems to This Writer that the Department of Health has been derelict in its duty. Agreed?

The Department of Health (DH) has refused to say why it failed to warn NHS bodies and other local services that claimants of out-of-work disability benefits are at a hugely-increased risk of attempting to take their own lives.

DH published the latest version of its national suicide prevention strategy in January this year.

The strategy was published four months after NHS Digital produced the results of its Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), which showed that more than 43 per cent of claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) had said (when asked in 2014) that they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.

But the suicide prevention strategy fails to mention these figures or to highlight ESA claimants as a high-risk group, even though it briefly mentions Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidance for dealing with ESA claimants who may be at risk of suicide or self-harm.

This week, a DH spokeswoman refused to explain why the figures were not mentioned in the strategy or why ESA claimants were not highlighted as a group at particularly high risk of suicide.

Instead, she said: “As I know you’ve discussed with the DWP, suicide is a very complex issue, so it would be wrong to link it solely to anyone’s benefit claim.

“There is clear guidance in place for DWP staff members to follow if a claimant expresses a desire to self-harm, to ensure the claimant receives appropriate care and support.

Source: Department of Health silence over failure to highlight ESA suicide risk


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New plea for ministers to take action on fire risk posed by faulty ‘white goods’

A fire-damaged tumble dryer [Image: London Fire Brigade].

Of course it is understood that the fire at Grenfell Tower was caused by a faulty fridge freezer.

This Site published an article at the beginning of July, pointing out that the London Fire Brigade has been trying to raise awareness of the threat posed by faulty white goods since 2010.

This Writer has personal experience of such a blaze – which caused a huge amount of damage to my home a few years ago.

Until now, these attempts have gone unheard.

Post-Grenfell, will the relevant authorities recover from their selective deafness?

More people will die from fires started by faulty white goods if ministers do not act to implement recommendations, the London Fire Brigade, the city’s mayor, and safety groups have warned.

In a letter to Theresa May, they say some fridges and freezers are being sold with a flammable plastic backing.

People continue to use products that are subject to recalls, it adds.

Source: Ministers ‘must act on faulty white goods fire risk’ – BBC News


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So much for the party of law and order! Forensic science cuts pose risk to justice, regulator warns

A forensic scientist specialising in DNA sequencing points to bands representing nucleotide bases (A,C,T,G) in an X-ray image [Image: Alamy].

It’s as though the Conservatives wanted to hinder police investigations, isn’t it?

So much for the party of law and order!

The government will damage British justice if it inflicts further cuts on forensic science, the official regulator has said.

Dr Gillian Tully warned in her annual report that financial pressures were compromising quality, including potentially in serious criminal cases involving murder and sexual assault.

Techniques such as DNA analysis and hi-tech examination of samples underpin the criminal justice system and are vital to proving guilt and innocence in the courts.

The government abolished the Forensic Science Service in 2012, which was the main provider to the police, and the system has been beset by problems.

Source: Forensic science cuts pose risk to justice, regulator warns | Science | The Guardian

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