More hospital

22 June 2013 Hospital

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Taffy is accidently made a commodore and take his relatives for trips around Canarvon bay, but will he be found out? Priceless.
Another quiet day the hospital wants Mary in for some treatment but can we sort out a day.
We watch The Pallaisers the Lopez commits suicide
Mary wins at scrabble and gets under 400 perhaps I can have my revenge tomorrow.


Lady Margaret Fortescue
Lady Margaret Fortescue, who has died aged 89, inherited one of the largest family landholdings in Britain, on Exmoor in Devon, and as a prominent huntswoman was known as The Last of the Meltonians on account of her prowess in the hunting field around Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire.

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A tiny, birdlike figure who invariably rode side-saddle, she went to the Midlands for fast hunting and perilous jumping (or “leaping”, of which “real” hunting people disapprove). She was also known as a “thruster” — a member of the field who rides close to the staff or hounds. “I know you are in a hurry to get to the front,” one Master told her, “but please don’t keep barging everyone in the gateway — and could you stop your horse kicking mine again?”
Her fearlessness and headstrong nature led to several bruising falls, though after consulting her doctor and swallowing a few painkillers with wine, she almost invariably carried on. One occasion on which she could not came when her mount tumbled from a bridge into a river and, according to a friend, “half an ankle came away in her boot”. Only the prompt attention of an orthopaedic surgeon saved Lady Margaret’s foot.
As a young woman before the war, she made the pilgrimage to Leicestershire from the Fortescues’ ancestral seat at Castle Hill, one of North Devon’s most beautiful stately homes, in the village of Filleigh on the edge of Exmoor. The mansion of yellow ochre, rebuilt in 1934 after fire destroyed the 18th-century Palladian original, is framed by the Triumphal Arch, built in 1730 by Hugh Fortescue. Lady Margaret rebuilt the arch as a tribute to her parents after it was blown down in a gale in 1951.
The journey to the Midlands was made in a private train, with horses, grooms and a retinue of staff on board. The family then stayed at Hambleton Hall, a grand house in Rutland owned by Eva Astley Paston Cooper, a socialite who gathered together a fashionable salon including Noël Coward, Malcolm Sargent and the translator of Proust, Charles Scott-Moncrieff.
Later, over years riding with the Quorn, Cottesmore, Meynell and Belvoir, Lady Margaret rented a series of country houses that became centres for entertaining and parties. These included, in the 1960s, humbler quarters at what she called Grotty Cottage in the village of Thorpe Satchville.
By then divorced, she was much in demand as a single, witty and wickedly amusing guest at any dinner party. Her gossipy tales from the day’s chase, scatalogically related in her husky drawl and usually shared over her own brew of sloe gin, were sharply and sometimes mischievously observed.
The Hon Margaret Fortescue was born on December 13 1923 at Ebrington Manor, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, the eldest daughter of the 5th Earl Fortescue, MC, a war hero who would be one of four Knights of the Garter holding the anointing canopy at the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. Her grandfather lived at Castle Hill and owned 20,000 acres of Exmoor and other estates, which her father inherited in 1932 when Margaret was nine.
Educated at Castle Hill by a governess, she attended a Swiss finishing school and during the Second World War worked as a secretary in the War Office in London (living in a flat in Belgravia known to her friends as “The Hovel”) and in Cairo, surrounded by many admirers and well away from parental gaze.
In 1942 her brother Peter was killed at the battle of El Alamein. This meant that when both her parents died unexpectedly in 1958, she inherited Castle Hill and its estates, becoming the 15th generation of the Fortescue family to dwell on that site, her ancestors having lived in Devon since 1454.
Apart from hunting, Lady Margaret displayed her enthusiasm for horses on the Turf. She had a nose for fine bloodstock and in the mid-1950s her filly Refined, trained by Paddy Prendergast, was the Irish champion two-year old.
Her summers were spent at Castle Hill, often working in the garden or hosting frequent riotous parties. Yet she took her responsibilities seriously, and set about modernising the rather tired post-war estate with enthusiasm and expertise. Land was taken back to farm, the woodlands managed commercially, and the once-unprofitable Fortescue Sawmill prospered under the head forester.
As well as rebuilding the Triumphal Arch in memory of her parents, Lady Margaret presided over the construction at Castle Hill of the Ebrington Tower in memory of her brother, and a classical colonnade by the front door designed by the architect Quinlan Terry.
She also ensured that the North Devon link road, between Barnstaple and the M5 at Tiverton, was re-routed behind the house, following the line of the defunct railway, rather than through the 18th-century park in front of it.
In 1989 she downsized to a Palladian-style bungalow on the estate known as The Bungy.
She was a deputy lieutenant of Devon, and a governor of West Buckland school, started by the second Earl Fortescue for the sons of local farmers, and which now has 600 students from all over the world.
She married, in 1948, the Newmarket racehorse trainer Bernard van Cutsem. The couple divorced in 1968, and she is survived by her two daughters, the elder of whom is the Countess of Arran, and two stepsons.
Lady Margaret Fortescue, born December 13 1923, died May 25 2013


The principal of Liverpool College says he has “no idea” why I suggest that non-EU pupils at his school are guaranteed places at Liverpool University (Letters, 19 June). In fact, this information is available on his school’s website, which states: “Non-EU pupils at Liverpool College can take advantage of our admission partnership with the University of Liverpool for non-clinical undergraduate programmes: pupils are guaranteed an offer from the university if they meet the minimum requirements. Pupils can apply directly to the university rather than through the centralised Ucas system. Pupils enrolling at the university receive a fee reduction of £1,000 per annum – the Liverpool College Award.”
Boarding facilities for this soon-to-be academy’s fee-paying students are provided in Liverpool University’s halls of residence. Among the governors of Liverpool College is Sheila Newby, wife of the university’s vice-chancellor, Howard Newby. Quite apart from wishing to refute the allegation that I made all this up, this information is important because it highlights a new generation of partnerships being forged between universities and selective and fee-paying schools. That kind of relationship was common before the second world war, and offered children at private and selective schools greater advantages to gain entry to, and funding for, university education. It is imperative that the Russell Group does not reproduce that old, divisive system.
Dr Selina Todd
St Hilda’s College, Oxford
• We have recently had a spate of letters from Guardian readers asserting that, though school-leavers may be ignorant, they’re tremendously good at thinking and expressing themselves. This, with respect, is nonsense. The tick-box mentality underpinning GCSE and A-level rewards reactive rather than proactive responses. Here at university it now takes two years to get even our best students to approach a problem analytically and imaginatively, rather than expecting us to supply the correct answer to memorise. The problem is partly an attitude encouraged by regimented teaching methods designed for the tick-boxes, and partly because in order to think, one needs something to think about.
But it’s not all bad. What is enviable is the self-confidence and self-satisfaction that comes from not recognising their limited abilities.
Professor Roger Carpenter
• Why is Stephen Twigg restricting himself to tidying up Gove’s mess? He needs to be less of a Hoover and more of a Roosevelt. A New Deal for state education is needed.
Professor Colin Richards
Spark Bridge, Cumbria

Students at Warwick are occupying the university’s council chamber in protest against further marketisation and managerialism in higher education (Report, 19 June). The university is now threatening legal or disciplinary action, and it would appear it is embarrassed by the prospect of the occupation being visible during open days this weekend. What Warwick University managers should be embarrassed by is the £42,000 pay rise awarded to the vice-chancellor, Nigel Thrift, and the role they have played in lobbying for fee rises and other measures which have attacked the public and accessible nature of education. The actions of students at Warwick are a legitimate response to the recklessness of university managements across the country.
Len McCluskey Unite general secretary
Vicki Baars NUS vice-president
Sky Yarlett NUS LGBT officer
Michael Chessum University of London Union president
Hannah Webb University College London Union external affairs and campaigns officer
Susuana Abena University of London Union women’s officer
Rosie Huzzard NUS national executive
Arianna Tassinari NUS national executive
James McAsh NUS national executive
Shelley Asquith University of the Arts London president
Alex Munyard Edinburgh University Students Association vice-president
Simon Furse Birmingham University Guild vice-president
Aisling Gallagher NUS-Union of Students in Ireland women’s officer
Alex Peters Day LSE Students Union general secretary
David East School of Oriental and African Studies co-president
Shreya Paudel Middlesex University Students Union president
Howard Littler Goldsmith’s Student Union campaigns officer
Grant Clarke University of Portsmouth Student Union vice-president
Dominique Ucbas University of Strathclyde Students Association vice-president
Steve Martin Farnham campus officer, University for the Creative Arts Students Union
Beth Redmond NCAFC national committee
Luke Neal Newcastle Free Education Network
Katie Kokkinou UCL Union welfare officer
Keir Gallagher UCL Union education and campaigns officer
Ben Towse UCL Union postgraduate officer
Hona-Luisa Cohen-Fuentes NCAFC women’s committee
Alannah Ainslie NCAFC womens committee
Mike Shaw NCAFC national committee

Illustration by Gary Kempston
My parliamentary colleagues and other members of the Labour party urging a return to a policy of unilateral disarmament (Letters, 21 June) do so for laudable reasons, but they are mistaken. While pushing for faster and more meaningful progress towards Britain’s ultimate shared goal of a world free from nuclear weapons, Labour leader Ed Miliband has been clear from the outset that he will maintain Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent while other countries have a nuclear capability that could threaten the UK. That is the responsible choice taken by a future prime minister who understands that we cannot possibly know what the threats facing the country will be in 30 or 40 years’ time, the period that the imminent decision to replace the nation’s Vanguard submarines will affect.
Any government should constantly search for ways to deliver things as efficiently as possible, including this major submarine building programme that will sustain 13,000 cutting-edge manufacturing and engineering jobs across the country. But returning to the unilateralism of the 80s would risk weakening Britain’s future security and cause thousands of job losses. We should discuss how best Britain contributes to a goal of multilateral disarmament, but not at the price of distracting from the Labour movement’s vital job of holding this pernicious Conservative-led government to account for its manifest failures.
John Woodcock MP
Labour, Barrow and Furness
• Labour needs a divisive public debate about Trident renewal like a fish needs a bicycle. The British electorate won’t consider any party as a viable choice to form a government if their defence policy is aligned with that of CND. Labour learned that lesson the hard way when it advocated unilateralism in 1983 and 1987. We do not need to relearn it now.
Spurious inflated claims about the cost of Trident renewal, such as quoting the lifetime cost of a system that will be spread over four or five decades, rather than the annual cost, which is about that of running two small London borough councils, illustrates that opponents of nuclear deterrence are not interested in a rational evidence-based debate. I have no idea why any Labour figures would want to re-fight the internecine and damaging battles of the 50s and 80s with reheated unilateralist dogma, rather than come up with positive new policies on subjects the electorate won’t label as hard-left hobbyhorses.
Luke Akehurst
• It was very encouraging that some Scottish MPs and MSPs signed the letter.The issue of Trident has already featured in a number of discussions relating to the 2014 independence referendum. Opinion polls have consistently shown there is a clear majority of people living in Scotland who are against Trident’s replacement and who feel the money could be better spent on decent things like health, education and jobs. I hope that the Labour party in Scotland will respond to this letter by throwing its collective weight behind this call for a debate.
Arthur West
Chair of Scottish CND
• The MPs’ letter states: “Many people would prioritise spending on health or education, on infrastructure, job creation or supporting the vulnerable rather than on replacing Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons.” I write as one of a group of ordinary people walking the length of Britain this summer with the same message: highlighting government plans to spend £100bn on Trident while slashing vital public services. The Peace and Economic Justice Pilgrimage left Iona on 19 May and arrives in London on 19 July. We have encountered overwhelming support from the public. In our remaining weeks we expect to meet plenty more who think that it’s obscene to be told the country cannot afford a spare bedroom but can afford a whole new generation of atomic warheads.
There might not be time to become an MP and join the debate before 2013, but you can still make your voice heard as one of the many people demanding that UK taxpayers’ money should be spent on the means of keeping people alive, rather than weapons of mass destruction.
Veronika Tudhope
2013 Peace and Justice Pilgrimage

Many users of the Co-op Bank would agree with the sentiments expressed by Bob Holman (Letters, 19 June), but there might be another way. Co-op owners (ie its members) should club together to buy the shares on the stock exchange, thus preserving the social(ist) and ethical stance of the bank.
Dr Roger Bayston
• How would an increase in the pace of spending cuts enable the government to meet the current deficit target when austerity is increasing the deficit (Next government must ‘hasten spending cuts’, 20 June)?
Karen Fletcher
• It astounds me that security experts such as Ross Anderson (Comment, 21 June) fail to recognise there is still a cheap and reliable way of communicating securely with patients, witnesses or others: it’s called the Royal Mail. It has served me (and my clients) well for years and I’ve never come across an instance of a letter with a first-class stamp being hacked.
Michael Hutchings (solicitor)
Sherborne, Dorset
• Maria Miller is worried lest her “fine words” butter no parsnips (The arts are safe with me, 21 June). What fine words?
Michael Holroyd
• So, the leader of the London Symphony Orchestra directed Beethoven’s 8th Symphony with the “odd nod and wink” while playing the violin (Review, 19 June)? So why not dispense with conductors altogether and use their enormous fees to pay reasonable royalties to composers?
Michael Short (composer)
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex
• The transition from “falling” to “having a fall” seems to occur at around the age at which people become “fiercely independent” (Letters, passim).
Seamus Staunton
• Every year I use both ground-breaking and cutting-edge technology: the former to dig up my potatoes and the latter to peel them.
Janne Sumner
Southminster, Essex

As a public body, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has a duty to deliver value for money. Moreover, all nuclear site operators have a regulatory requirement to optimise site operations. There is no proposal to “dump” radioactive waste at Bradwell or at any other NDA-owned site (Only way is Essex – nuclear waste row, 17 June). Our first decommissioning priority is hazard reduction, which includes the safe, secure and environmentally responsible interim storage of intermediate level waste (ILW) until geological disposal becomes available.
Currently, the plan is to build an interim storage facility at each Magnox reactor site to store the ILW from that site. A number of interim stores have already been constructed, with several more stores planned. In the interests of value for money to the taxpayer, we are exploring whether there is a business case for reducing the number of new stores that need to be built. There could also be environmental benefits from building fewer stores. The option of storing ILW from a small number of other sites at Bradwell, which already has an ILW store, is one of a number of options under consideration.
Our intention to explore the potential benefits of building fewer interim storage facilities was first made public in our strategy published in 2011, on which we engaged widely and consulted publicly. We are engaging openly and transparently with stakeholders on the options under consideration and will consult on our preferred option(s) at the appropriate time. Furthermore, any decision that requires a change to existing storage plans will require consultation and local planning permission.
Bill Hamilton
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority



Nothing has changed regarding GM crops, despite Environment Minister Owen Paterson deciding that he will lead a campaign to sell the product to the public.
The spurious line that GM crops are needed to feed the world has been proved to be palpably untrue. There is more than enough food to feed the world if it were equitably distributed and less of it were thrown away.
The interests of the GM companies remain the same as always, namely to get control of the food chain. Once they have done this and got a complete monopoly on what we eat, they can dictate prices and control availability of seeds to people across the world.
The idea that GM represents the greatest good for the greatest number is nonsense. The present manoeuvres to convert Europe to GM are nothing but another example of the few attempting to make a profit at the cost of the many.
Paul Donovan, London E11
Owen Paterson has again raised the issue of GM, emphasising the importance of this technology in helping to deliver a sustainable food supply. In particular, he is urging the UK to take a lead in Europe in the use of genetically modified crops.
He points out that it isn’t just for government to make the case, but calls for industry and the scientific and research community to play their role.
The Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) has previously stated the important role that food scientists and technologists can play in the responsible introduction of GM techniques – provided that issues of product safety, environmental concerns, information and ethics are all satisfactorily addressed.
IFST supports the call for the scientific and research community to play a key role in the potential future introduction of GM crops through continuing research and ensuring open communication of the issues from a balanced and scientific standpoint. Only in this way may the benefits that this technology can confer ultimately become available, not least to help feed the world’s escalating population in the coming decades.
Jon Poole, Chief Executive, Institute of Food Science & Technology, London W6
Owen Paterson thinks that “after the biggest field trials in history” GM crops are safer than conventional ones. No, Mr Paterson. The biggest field trial in history lasted for millennia during which humanity existed very well on organically grown food.
If he really wants the public to be convinced about the safety of GM crops, he should insist that Monsanto et al publish all – and I mean all – their research data.
Perhaps not. It would only convince them of the reverse.
Lesley Docksey, Buckland Newton, Dorset
Badger culling: the farmer’s view…
I am one of tens of thousands of farmers living with the devastating impact of bovine TB on my family and business (“The badger cull dissidents in the Forest of Dean”, 19 June). It has taken a huge toll on us and we continue to live with its ever-present threat.
We had a positive TB test last year, which meant that we had movement restrictions placed on our business, with two of our breeding cows removed and shot; this badly affected us for eight months, until fortunately we passed with two clear tests last autumn which allowed us to trade again.
We were lucky – my neighbour lost nearly 80 cows out of his herd of 90 over two consecutive tests; he is still devastated.
Getting a positive TB test in your herd is one of the most upsetting experiences a farmer can face. I’ve invested a lot of care, time and effort raising the animals in my herd over many years. To see them being taken away to be slaughtered because of a disease you’ve done everything to try to protect them from is heartbreaking.
Action needs to be taken to tackle TB on all fronts because the disease is out of control. More than 35,000 cows were compulsorily slaughtered in Great Britain last year and this cannot go on.
It is a proven fact that badgers spread bovine TB. I’m doing everything I can to minimise the chances of my cattle coming into contact with badgers. But until the wildlife reservoir of TB is dealt with, I’m fighting a losing battle.
Evidence from other countries that have had problems with TB shows a targeted cull of wildlife in areas where it is rife, carried out with other measures, has a major impact in dealing with the disease. The best current scientific advice backs this up.
All farmers want is to stop the spread of this terrible disease and to carry on being able to produce high-quality home-produced food.
James Small, Charterhouse-on-Mendip, Somerset
…and the protester’s view
We have seen letters recently from farmers’ representatives and even vets attempting to justify the horrific and imminent wholesale slaughter of badgers.
Sincere people have been pointing out for years that the science cautions strongly against a cull, and many people have argued from the moral standpoint, pointing out the lack of humanity involved in such a hideous exercise.
It is time we all realised that the only thing that will stop this appalling action is to hit farmers in their pockets. It’s simple: if you oppose the cull, stop buying British beef and dairy products. That is the one thing that will prompt the farming community to insist a stop be put to the proposed action.
Penny Little, Great Haseley, Oxfordshire
Use internet to question Assange
Many countries, including Sweden, require that a person accused of a crime is first questioned. I fail to see why during this phase of an inquiry, extradition is necessary.
While Julian Assange is in his self-imposed seclusion, he could be questioned over a video link. While Sweden does not do this, the case cannot proceed – which is no help to the alleged victims.
More importantly, I can think of no reason why this should not become the norm for every case where currently people are extradited for a preliminary inquiry. It is as if we are still living in the Middle Ages instead of the internet age.
Dave Beakhust, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Julian Assange’s stay in the Ecuadorian embassy might not be as long as Paula Jones thinks (letter, 20 June). There is an election in Australia on 14 September and Julian is standing for a Victoria state seat in the Senate. If he wins, then he will need to be in Canberra in July 2014 to take his seat and be sworn in. It will be interesting to see how he will make the journey from London to Canberra without being arrested.
Robert Pallister, Punchbowl, New South Wales, Australia
Other ‘Assads’ are our friends
I have been puzzled at the vitriol expressed by our Prime  Minister against the Syrian president. It seems incongruous considering Assad has not sent bombers to the UK, been funding al-Qai’da, or entered into some kind of espionage against the UK. I am no fan of Assad. Yes, he is a dictator and has ruled Syria with the help of his militia. But there are other dictators, in the guise of monarchs, in the Middle East, not dissimilar to Assad but with whom the UK and the US are not only friendly but also have excellent business connections.
Mustafa Haqqani, Lymm, Cheshire
Anthony Rodriguez thinks that “David Cameron did the right thing in Libya” (letter, 21 June) and that “a no-fly zone worked in Libya” so it could work in Syria.
The Libya “no-fly zone” was, in fact, an intensive bombardment of the country over seven months. It killed thousands of Libyans and destroyed civilian infrastructure – leaving yet another once-thriving Arab country in pieces.
The groups left in charge of the mess by Cameron and Obama recently killed dozens of demonstrators in Benghazi.
One might think that lessons  in morality could be learned  from Libya, but it seems that as long as the bombs are big and British – and no British are hurt in the process – bombing will always be a success.
Peter McKenna, Liverpool
How is monarchy democratic?
In pouring cold water on the idea of a British republic, Gareth Wood (letter, 21 June) argues: “To take France and the US as examples, republics are no less prone to the creation of a ruling class than monarchies.”
“No less prone” than Britain’s? Surely some mistake. The point is: how can perpetual enforced subservience to whoever’s turn it is from within one privileged family “long to reign over us” be compatible with democracy?
Eddie Dougall, Walsham-le-Willows, Suffolk
Ban all mutilation
I note renewed correspondence on female genital mutilation (FGM) and would support all efforts to bring to justice those responsible for such a horrifying practice. But while accepting that FGM and its consequences are more terrible than the genital mutilation of male children, both represent an assault on the person. Is it not time that all genital mutilation – on boys as well as girls – was treated as a criminal offence?
Ian Quayle, Fownhope, Herefordshire
Mid-lane crisis
The reason our taxes are spent on three-lane motorways is to increase capacity.  If we do not use the left-hand lane, capacity will be reduced to not much more than a two-lane motorway. Yes, you may be slowed down from time to time but your average journey time will be faster if everyone keeps to the left lane except when they are able to overtake safely.
Jon Hawksley, London EC1
Although the bright yellow 175mph Porsche featured by Jamie Merrill (20 June) may have macho appeal, I’ve decided to stay loyal to my faithful Reliant Robin. It’s ideal for the middle lane of the motorway,     
Ivor Yeloff, Hethersett, Norfolk
Last resort
They used to say: “If you can’t do, you teach – but if you can’t teach, you inspect.” It looks like that may have been right in relation to the healthcare profession as well.
Wilf Fox, Brackley, Northamptonshire
No peace envoy
After his latest bellicose pontificating about Syria, to call Tony Blair a peace envoy must be the biggest misnomer in our history.
Sarah Pegg, Seaford, East Sussex


In other parts of Europe, employers are working with schools and universities on programmes to attract girls into engineering
Sir, The CBI is right to criticise the quality of careers guidance (“MPs call for culture change to engineer better jobs for girls”, June 20), but this is something that schools and colleges cannot do on their own. It’s a problem for employers and education to solve together, and there is no point in expecting the Government to do it for them.
Germany has a similar problem: there, a strong economy and a shortage of engineers is driving employers to look at the 50 per cent of the population — females — whom they are largely failing to recruit into apprenticeships and graduate courses. Employers are working with schools and universities on programmes to attract girls into engineering, and careers guidance is provided by a partnership of employers, schools and government that gives young people a clear line of sight to work.
Of course, Germany has the treasured “dual system” with more than 100 years of close working between schools and employers, and this is something that we in the UK do not have. Here, employers complain that the Government should do better with the careers advisory service, but the record of governments of all parties is of successive failure. Markets need information to work well, and the labour market is no different in this respect. Employers must take greater responsibility for showing young people the opportunities that await if they take the right qualifications in school, college and university.
This means forming much closer relationships at the local level between businesses, schools and further education colleges, so that colleges understand employers’ needs, and students get to see and hear at first hand what employment involves.
Sir John Holman
University of York
Sir, One of the defining features of prep schools, which we think will help with the issue of getting better jobs for girls, is that we have subject specialist teachers in primary education. Such specialisms include science and technology, in which girls and boys are able to engage equally. We know that these subject-specific lessons break down the walls of gender stereotyping as girls and boys learn to achieve together. Gender should not play any part in decision-making on a child’s education.
David Hanson
Chief Executive, Independent Association of Prep Schools

It has been shown that accident prevention programmes are inexpensive to implement, are welcomed by the recipients — and they work
Sir, At the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents we believe we know how to solve at least part of the problem of the stress on A&E departments. While there are many reasons for the rise in A&E attendances, the truth is that the majority of them are the two thirds (14 million-plus) that are the result of accidents. We know how to flatten off the annual 5 per cent increase: by investing in the now-neglected and historically successful area of preventative accident information and education. For example, in a project we ran between 2008-10, we reduced A&E attendance figures for the 0-5s (the highest morbidity rates) by 51 per cent in parts of Liverpool, at a tiny cost.
Accident prevention programmes are inexpensive to implement, are welcomed by the recipients — and they work. Most importantly, the results of such interventions, unlike every other area of public health, are visible in months and years, not years and decades. Our claims can be tested against those of competing priorities.
With our experience of practical implementation on the ground, we believe we can dispell the myth that unending spending on treatment is the only way ahead, and show that it is possible to use our national resources far more intelligently and sustainably.
Prevention is far better than cure.
Tom Mullarkey
Chief Executive, RoSPA

There ought to be some reassurance for those who wish to have a referendum that there is a Bill before Parliament — but it is meaningless
Sir, You say of James Wharton’s Bill (leading article, June 20) that putting a referendum on the statute books under such a Bill “is the only way that people will be reassured that one will take place”. People should feel no such reassurance. The Bill is an illegitimate and ineffective attempt to bind a future Parliament, namely the one that Parliament has decided by section 1(2) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 will be chosen in a general election to be held on May 7, 2015. The Bill requires the Secretary of State, before December 31, 2016, to appoint the day on which the referendum is to be held. But the new Parliament elected on May 7, 2015 will be free to repeal this requirement.
It may very well do so, for all that the MPs who will shortly waste their time considering this futile Bill can tell. To obviate such time-wasting, the Speaker should rule the Bill out of order.
Francis Bennion
Retired Parliamentary Counsel Budleigh Salterton, Devon

Pornography should be blocked unless specifically requested and paid for — but would this bring down the rate of sex crimes?
Sir, Five special jails are to be built for sex offenders (report, June 18). Is it surprising? There should be blocks on all pornography.
If I want to see porn, I should have to pay, and be over 18. Historical cases alone cannot account for the near-doubling in sex crime cases.
Elspeth Rymer
Butleigh, Somerset

Contrary to the popular image of the WI, many of the new institutes are being set up by women in their twenties and thirties
Sir, While, like Sarah Vine (Times2, June 19), I can relate to a number of the “50 unmistakable signs that you’re over the hill”, I challenge her to reconsider drawing the line at No 37, “joining the WI”.
Although many traditional WI groups still exist, there are now a large number of institutes in metropolitan areas, professional workplaces, universities and most recently a women’s prison, that have brought about a revival of the WI in recent years. There are more than 210,000 members in about 6,600 WIs, and as the National Federation of WIs heads towards its centenary in 2015, new institutes are regularly starting up and membership is growing. Many of these institutes have been set up by women in their twenties and thirties to provide an opportunity to reconnect communities, and allow women to make new friends and learn new skills.
Now in its second year, Saltaire WI has nearly 90 members ranging in age from mid-20s to over 80. Our activities range from crafting to Bollywood dancing. We are proud to be part of the National Federation that campaigns on current issues such as the lack of midwives and the decline of our high streets.
Liz Pimperton
President, Saltaire WI (age 36)

SIR – If, as a doctor, I ordered a cover-up of my own incompetence, I would have no rights whatsoever to anonymity behind the Data Protection Act. I can hardly believe that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has been taking legal advice as to whether to reveal names. What sort of professional ethics does the CQC follow?
I recently signed a document with the CQC, declaring that, as a GP, I would be held personally liable for any negligence of patient care associated with my practice. There was an explicit threat of my going to jail, as a remedy available to the CQC.
Dr Rob Malcolm
Hythe, Kent
Related Articles
How sad to replace the Guide promise to God
21 Jun 2013
SIR – Nearly 10 years ago, when the Department of Health abolished detailed, independent, focused hospital inspection by medical royal colleges, to replace it with what has become the CQC, it did so in part because of inconvenient truths arising from that process.
It chose to set up its own process, deliberately designed to be hands-off, minimally disruptive and reliant almost entirely on data supplied by hospitals. The department was warned of the risks of managers effectively policing themselves, but the warnings were ignored. Its responses amounted to patronising dismissals. What was warned against has duly come to pass.
Action to correct this should be appropriate. First, inspection by medical royal colleges should be reinstituted, their reports to be in the public domain. Secondly, the officials who deliberately rejected advice from professionals best placed to know should be chastised, through demotion, removal of honours and public humiliation.
Christopher Heneghan
Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
SIR – It is right that Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has apologised for failings at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, but we must remember that the culture of secrecy in the NHS built up under the previous government. We are now awash with scandals about how things were run in the NHS before the Coalition began to clean up the mess. These problems did not develop in Morecambe Bay alone.
David Morris
MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Con)
London SW1
SIR – We have an interesting snapshot of national priorities and the manner in which laws operate. Individual bankers who make serious mistakes are to be sent to jail. Incompetent doctors and nurses culpable for the deaths of babies have their identities hidden. NHS regulators who presided over a cover-up of their lethal mistakes are not threatened with any punishment at all. Meanwhile, spending on the NHS, which is in need of dramatic restructuring, remains ring-fenced.
Gregory Shenkman
London W8
Oscillatin’ in the rain
SIR – It is very hard to take at face value the Met Office claim that it does not understand why the weather patterns of the Fifties are being repeated (report, June 19).
Surely these highly trained meteorologists know about the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)?
A Berkeley Earth paper by Richard Muller and others (2013) tells us that land-surface temperatures in Britain are more closely related to the AMO than to anything else. This oscillation has a cycle length of around 60 years. In the Fifties, the weather was widely considered “weird”, and many at the time put this down to effects from American nuclear testing in the Pacific.
To claim that this effect is due to “warming” of the North Atlantic seems improbable. The cold land temperatures this year were surely matched by colder than usual sea-surface temperatures.
David Watt
Brentwood, Essex
SIR – Sam Boyd (Letters, June 19), in referring to the weather conditions of 1314-16, asks if similar climate conditions have occurred in recent history. Professor Brian Fagan, in his book The Little Ice Age: 1350-1780, showed that incessant rains in Europe in the 1780s caused widespread failure of crops and starvation among the peasant population – the setting for Marie Antoinette’s remark, “Let them eat cake.”
The cause is believed to have been changes in ocean currents in the North Atlantic around Greenland.
Alan Carcas
Liversedge, West Yorkshire
Syrian war
SIR – Much more pressure should be applied to the Arab League to get it to accept its responsibilities in Syria.
Currently, the league has 22 members. Its constitutional aims include strengthening the political, cultural and social programmes of its members, and mediating disputes. So far, however, it has shown little appetite to bring one of its founding members back into line.
Now, more than ever, is the time for the league to act, with the diplomatic support of the Western powers.
Commander John Prime RN (retd)
Havant, Hampshire
SIR – The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria said last month that it had not yet seen evidence of government forces using chemical weapons. Earlier, however, a commission member, Carla Del Ponte, said indications were that rebel forces, not the Assad regime, had used the nerve agent sarin.
Now it seems that President Barack Obama, who went to war in Libya without congressional support, isn’t even seeking UN authorisation before escalating the war in Syria. With reports revealing the presence of al-Qaeda militants fighting alongside the opposition, it seems contradictory for him to give any help to anti-Assad forces.
Louis Shawcross
Hillsborough, Co Down
Hull of a jam
SIR – Alex Smith (Letters, June 20) asks if anyone has tried to hull a strawberry with their fingers. I hate getting bits of the stalk under my fingernails and have had a trusty metal huller for years to do the job for me. But last week it vanished.
I was met with blank looks at my local hardware store when seeking a replacement. Thankfully, my husband found it in the compost heap among discarded strawberry stalks.
Jam-making may commence.
Sheila Mortimer
Cuckfield, West Sussex
SIR – It seems a wonderful idea to punish any banker guilty of criminal negligence in the discharge of his duties (Business, June 19). But what about the politicians who similarly damage the financial interests of this country by their gross negligence?
Alexander Hopkinson-Woolley
Bembridge, Isle of Wight
SIR – Now that the banks have been put under the spotlight, surely it is time to examine the salaries of senior executives of local authorities and councillors?
There was a time when councillors volunteered to fight the corner of their townspeople for “nowt”, and paid their own travel expenses.
Terry Duncan
Bridlington, East Yorkshire
Pension funding
SIR – Debbie Abrahams MP (Letters, June 19) claims that a taxpayer’s main welfare contribution is towards the basic state pension. The state pension is not a welfare payment, it is a return on a compulsory, lifelong contribution. The fact that the payments are made from the welfare budget because successive governments have failed to invest those contributions appropriately is no reason to penalise those who have paid them in good faith.
Charles Holden
Lymington, Hampshire
Surfeit of mobiles
SIR – I am amazed at the number of friends and family who sit at the dining table gazing at their mobile phone to check if they have received an email or text message. Can anyone recommend a solution, short of dunking the offending item in the custard?
Alan Hall
Good Easter, Essex
God rest their soles
SIR – I would not like to be in Anton Gibbs’s shoes when his wife and daughter read his letter (June 20), in which he admits to burying their shoes in the garden.
James Walker
Bletchingley, Surrey
SIR – I do hope we hear again from your correspondent Mr Gibbs. If not, I fear he will have likewise been buried behind his shed, along with his wife’s shoes.
David Born
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
GM crops will not solve agricultural problems
SIR – GM cropping is not primarily about improving agriculture (Comment, June 19). It is about making even more money for the global corporations at the expense of farmers, consumers and the planet. This is done by luring farmers into the expectation of higher yields and bigger profits while in reality the apparent benefits are short-lived.
This is well documented in the film and book The World According to Monsanto. GM cropping is about making more profit for companies by patenting their seeds and increasing use of their pesticides.
The illusion of higher returns to farmers is also well illustrated by the high level of suicides in India by cotton farmers who have been trapped in the system. They borrowed money to buy the seeds and the pesticides. However, their cotton yields have not met expectations and their use of pesticides has increased, heading them towards bankruptcy.
Similar problems are evident in America, Canada, Brazil and many other countries; not to mention the dietary and health problems associated with GM feed for animals and food for consumers all over the world. Crop contamination is another major issue.
GM is absolutely not the way forward. In order to address the global problems of climate change and malnourishment we need more local and flexible solutions.
Anson Allen
Ammanford, Carmarthenshire

SIR – Having been a Brownie Guider for 31 years I find it sad to replace the promise to “love my God” (“No place for God in the Girl Guides”, report, June 19). “My God” can refer to that child’s God whatever their belief, and for the Chief Guide to say that this is putting girls off from joining is nonsense – there is a huge waiting list of girls willing to join with the old promise.
Jacqueline Donaldson
Orrell, Lancashire
SIR – Will potential members of the Guides who insist on making the previous pledge be prevented from joining?
Andrew Blake
Marlborough, Wiltshire

SIR – Guides are now expected to “be true to myself and develop my beliefs”. For that they have a role model in Adolf Hitler.
Dr Tony Hart
Dudley, West Midlands

Irish Times:
Sir, – The Hippocratic Oath was written in the pre-Christian era, more than 400 years before Christ’s time on earth. Hippocrates stated, “I will show the utmost respect for every human life from fertilisation to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life”.
As medical practitioners, on qualifying we all subscribed to the beliefs contained in the oath. The Catholic Church for over 2,000 years has upheld the Hippocratic Principles. I commend it for doing so. – Yours, etc,
Director Blackrock and
Galway Clinics,
Cross Avenue,
Co Dublin.
A chara, – James Reilly just introduced the controversial Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill to the Dáil. The consequences of passing any legislation are ultimately determined by what is, or is not, actually in the legislation, not by what is said or done during the debate around it. How it will be interpreted and practised is also crucial.
With this in mind I would like to highlight some of what is, and is not, in the proposed abortion Bill. It makes abortion legal as a treatment for suicide risk, in spite of expert evidence that this is not medically or legally necessary. Shockingly, the Bill explicitly makes it legal to “intentionally destroy unborn human life” (Section 22) in some situations. How can this ever protect a mother better than terminating her pregnancy while making every effort to protect the child’s life, which is already standard medical practice in Ireland?
The Bill’s requirements on keeping records and making reports are ludicrously weak, and very unlikely to deter doctors who wish to certify abortion based on choice rather than clinical judgment. It is clear that doctors do this on a large scale in other countries where the law allows abortion on subjective mental health grounds, and there are no credible reasons to expect Ireland to be different.
Finally, the Bill includes no time limits to specifically protect unborn children who may be viable outside the womb, from either intentional destruction or very early delivery with risks of serious disability or death. A number of TDs and senators have looked at what is in this unjust and dangerous Bill and called for it to be stopped. It’s not too late for others to follow their courageous, responsible and compassionate lead. – Is mise,
St John’s Wood West,
Dublin 22.
Sir, – When President Kennedy arrived in Ireland (June 27th, 1963) he said: “I am deeply honoured to be your guest in the free parliament of a free Ireland”.
Sadly, that legacy, for the cause of which the Irish nation struggled and suffered, is being undermined. The Taoiseach of our nation – and others in government – stubbornly refuse to allow members of Dáil Éireann to vote according to their consciences on the crucial issue of abortion.
The dogged insistence by Enda Kenny that “there will be no free vote on this issue” is obscene. The threat of applying “the party whip” to TDs who will not toe the Government’s abortionist line, grotesque as it is, must nevertheless be faced by TDs concerned for the protection of human life in the womb.

A chara, – Nigel Bannister’s anger (June 18th) over the events at St Mary’s National School in Enfield last week, is misdirected. His anger should be directed at the management of a Catholic school which extended an invitation to a champion of abortion, rathar than  at protesters who upheld Catholic teaching on abortion.
Mr Bannister points out that it was the event’s organisers who arranged to have the Taoiseach’s visit at the children’s home-time. Clearly it was not the fault of the protesters that their opportunity to protest at the Taoiseach’s intention to legislate for abortion, coincided with home-time. That is an issue Mr Bannister should raise with school management.
While I was not at the protest myself, I am aware that the protest organiser asked that abortion pictures not be used at the school gate. However, it is not always possible to dictate to others that they not confront the public with the complete horrific truth of what abortion really is. I understand that any chanting was solely directed at An Taoiseach, stopping when the children emerged to sing their celebratory songs. Furthermore, the only commercial media (I know) to have had a reporter at the event, the Meath Topic, described the protest as appropriate and peaceful. – Is mise,

A chara, – Why is medical insurance voluntary in this country? If motor insurance is compulsory, why not medical insurance? Of course, people on proven minimal income or assets would be exempt. The type of cover should be left to each person. The last thing Minister for Health James Reilly should be doing, is discouraging medical insurance (Front page, June 15th). So why is he doing it? – Is mise,
Sir, – Instead of getting a week of blanket coverage of the Obamas’ visit to the G8 and the island of Ireland, the Irish people would be better served by one hour or page a week discussing Irish support for US foreign policy.
US troops and aircraft continue to transit through Shannon Airport, and yet we don’t have any discussion about Ireland’s support for US military and CIA operations around the globe. This support breaches Irish neutrality, it has implicated us in hundreds of thousands of deaths, it ignores international law, and it makes a mockery of our proud record of peacekeeping and respect for human rights. – Yours, etc,
Co Limerick.
A chara, – Clare Daly’s attack on the Obamas was way over the top and inappropriate (Home News, June 20th). Ireland has always had a strong welcome for visitors, of which we are proud. That does not mean that we agree with everything that they do, nor should we be afraid to voice our concerns. However, we should always be hospitable and courteous and in that regard, Deputy Daly’s choice of language was wrong.
She also had an objection to Michelle Obama going to Dalkey to have “lunch with Mr Tax Exile himself”. I presume Deputy Daly, given her concerns, wouldn’t have lunch or any contact then with fellow Independent, Mick Wallace, given his tax difficulties. – Is mise,
The Chase,
Gorey, Co Wexford.
Sir, – Clare Daly’s accusation of slobbering over the Obamas is countered by Miriam Lord’s report that they “poured” over historical documents in Trinity College (Front page, June 18th). Where will this tit-for-tat end?
Haddington Park,
Glenageary, Co Dublin.
A chara, – I note the Obama family visit here will cost the taxpayer between €3m and €4m in security costs alone (Home News, June 10th). Meanwhile we read elsewhere in your newspaper that support hours for children with special needs are being reduced by 10 per cent due to an increase in demand – a dreadful state of affairs and a situation which worsens every year.
So what does Taoiseach Enda Kenny get visibly upset and annoyed about in the Dáil? He gets upset because a TD dares to take him and his sycophantic, grovelling, forelock-tugging pals to task for their attitude to the Obama family’s private visit here. That says it all, really. – Is mise,
Whitehall Road,

Irish Independent:
* I am no apologist for Health Minister James Reilly, but Turlough O’Donnell (Letters, June 19) has it wrong: private health insurance premiums are increasing because there are more five-star clinics and hospitals where people can get treated quickly and expensively.
Also in this section
We are a nation in denial about the Famine
World events overtake Noonan and troika
A thank you for supporting us and brave Donal
Before these institutions existed even private patients had to wait a certain length of time for treatment, whereas now treatment is all but instantaneous. Great for patients but bad for insurers.
It is easy to scapegoat the minister for his plans and blame the public health system. Most of the private insurance income generated in public hospitals is for emergency treatment and if it was profitable for private hospitals they would be more interested in this type of care.
It is cheaper for an insurer for a patient to have a procedure in a public hospital because the insurer pays less for the bed or not at all if the patient is not in a private or semi-private room. They do not pay for any of the drugs given to patients, the cost of theatre facilities or implants if used in a public hospital.
A simple example would be a joint replacement. The implants can cost between €2,000 and €6,000 in a private hospital in addition to the use of theatre and the daily bed cost. In a public hospital, only the daily bed cost is incurred. That is why certain procedures such as joint replacement now have a co-pay of €2,000. The insurers also fund four-star full board convalescence in nursing homes that, funnily enough, public patients don’t seem to need as they are fit to be discharged.
Most public hospitals have seen their income from private insurers fall in the past two years yet they are still blamed for increased premiums.
Peter O’Rourke FRCS (Orth) Consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Letterkenny General Hospital, Co Donegal
* This week our little island morphed from a shattered, damp, debt-wracked, windswept, socio-economic experiment into the cheery, bright, “hostess with the mostest” and still wound up looking like a banana republic.
The first family’s European vacation took the positive optics tour “home” to Dublin. Meanwhile, US President Barrack Obama attended the G8 in the heavily fortified, picturesque Lough Erne resort, where world leaders, from the self proclaimed eight most influential global powers, discussed matters from stagnating world trade to the bloodbath in Syria.
Ultimately they agreed on very little.
At least we had temporary revolving EU president and our dynamic Taoiseach Enda Kenny to seize the initiative, harnessing the focus, attention and unique opportunity that emanates from close proximity to real power.
However, the failure of austerity could have been highlighted, the genuine hardship and suffering inflicted upon the ordinary Irish people acknowledged, and real alternative paths discussed and debated with a view to hammering out new stimulus policies backed by the global elite.
Michael Coffey, Harold’s Cross, Dublin
* Instead of entertaining the first lady, surely Bono should have been advising the G8 leaders on tax avoidance?
Flan Clune, Swords, Co. Dublin
* Are we in for a summer of discontent? Perhaps the key to preventing this is the re-mortgaging of all houses to the present value of the house. This is the only honest solution. The banks and the government of the time were mostly responsible for the huge rise in house prices due to their irresponsible lending. It is elementary economics that if you make a vast amount of credit available to purchase a given product, its price will soar, whether it is the price of houses or of cattle.
When a mortgage was taken out, a clued-up bank official in 95pc of cases sold it to trusting individuals. In the case of couples, the mortgage would have been based on their joint incomes and would have allowed for a reasonable standard of living.
When wages were reduced dramatically, and with the collapse of the property market, the situation changed drastically. With the impact of negative equity, expecting mortgage holders to pay based on original values is pie in the sky.
Can the banks afford this? Quite possibly, in view of the fact that they have been grossly over-capitalised.
Adrien Cosby, Stradbally Hall, Co Laois
* One June 13 you published a front page story under the headline: ‘Kenny: I’m a Catholic, not a Catholic Taoiseach.’
It quoted an opinion poll which said “an even larger majority of voters actually want wider access to abortion, particularly in cases of foetal abnormalities and rape or abuse”.
I wish to complain about the omission of the word “fatal” which should have preceded the words “foetal abnormalities”.
As the father of a five-year-old boy with Down syndrome, my concerns over the omission of the word “fatal” in an article on the front page should be obvious.
I hope that the word “fatal” was omitted in error.
John Brophy, Bettystown, Co Meath
* When we moved to our country cottage 18 years ago, our grandchildren loved to name and count the butterflies that visited our garden – there were lots of painted ladies, tortoiseshell, red admirals and other varieties
Suffice to say, large or small white butterflies were plentiful in the big garden.
When we sat on the lawn the hum of the bees in the heather was lovely to hear.
Sadly after days of sunshine and with the flowers in full bloom, I have seen only two small white butterflies, and there has been not one bee to be seen, or heard.
It is sad and worrying. I wonder what has gone wrong.
Jean Reynolds, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal
* How ironic that staff working in the Department of Social Protection who pay out sick leave claims to public and private sector employees, have themselves the highest rate of sick leave.
Perhaps all those sick notes should be disinfected as they seem to be contagious.
Sean Kelly, Newton Hill, Tramore, Waterford
* Olivia Tully talks about ‘What If?’ (Letters, June 15). Like many people she just wants to live at home, earn a living and raise her children among family and friends.
‘What if’ can be a reality, though not the reality she envisages that relies on foreign companies creating jobs but a mixture of local indigenous businesses and foreign companies.
Here’s how we create the new Ireland:
* Keep property prices and rents low.
* Become a pure food nation. This means our farmers have to leave any cute hoorism behind, we will live and die by brand Ireland. Safe, pure and luxury products.
* Become a nation of entrepreneurs. Use what little international credit we have to ensure St Patrick’s day becomes a showcase for Irish businesses.
Pauline Bleach, New South Wales, Australia
Irish Independent


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