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CPAG – Guidance on Shared Parental Leave


Shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay is being introduced for couples expecting a baby or adopting a child on or after 5 April 2015. This replaces additional paternity leave and pay, and offers more flexibility to couples to share the responsibility for the child and protect their income in the first year.

Shared parental leave is available to parents who share the care of a child with husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter the child’s other parent a partner (living together) –  includes same sex couples.

The mother must first meet the qualifying conditions for maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, and then decide to give it up in favour of shared parental leave and pay. The other parent/partner must also meet conditions about employment and earnings. Opting for shared parental leave allows leave and pay to be split between each person and into up to three separate blocks of leave in the first year. It can also be taken at the same time, allowing a couple more time together with the baby.

Alternatively, statutory maternity leave and statutory maternity pay can still be claimed as before by women who choose to do so, or are lone parents, or whose partner is not in work. Similarly, statutory adoption leave and pay can still be claimed instead of shared parental leave. ‘Ordinary’ paternity leave and pay (1 or 2 weeks in the first 8 weeks after the birth) is not affected by the change, other than now simply being known as ‘paternity leave’ and statutory paternity pay.  

Tax credit rules are also amended so that someone receiving shared parental pay, or on shared parental leave for up to 39 weeks, can still be treated as in work, if working immediately before.

More information on shared parental leave is available at www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay

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Church warns of unfair sanctions against those experiencing mental heath problems


The Methodist Church in England fears that people with mental health problems are experiencing sanctions on their benefits at a possible rate of 100 people a day, more than claimants suffering other conditions, according to figures presented to them by the DWP.

In March last year 4,500 people who are claiming Employment and Support Allowance due to mental heath issues were sanctioned, this figure was not the total amount as it did not include overturned decisions. The concern the Methodist Church had from these findings is that those with mental health conditions who failed to attend the Work Programme interviews and other appointments were being unfairly treated, or even discriminated due to their lack of cognitive ability and general condition of mental heath. DWP records also revealed the most common reason for being sanctioned is a person has been late or not turned up for a work programme appointment.

Public issues policy adviser , Paul Morrison for the Methodist Church, said: ‘Sanctioning someone with a mental health problem for being late for a meeting is like sanctioning someone with a broken leg for limping.’ adding,  ‘The fact that this system punishes people for the symptoms of their illness is a clear and worrying sign that it is fundamentally flawed.’

The 100 a day figure was an average from data stretching back to January 2009 obtained through Freedom of Information Requests to the Department for Work and Pensions, released yesterday.

The “Work Programme” was set up 2011 at a cost of £5 billion, with it’s aim to ‘encourage’ and provide access to people with disabilities a opportunity to find work and enter the job market but since it’s inception it’s continually been cited as a failure with homelessness charities and housing associations even being among those who have abandoned it. It’s failure has been down to lack of employment in areas, the reduction of hours and wages in-line with the increased cost of living, and also the lack of commitment from the majority of employers to take on people with mental or physical disability.

Universal credit legislation may force tenants into debt in recovering rent arrears


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Changes to legislation concerning
rent arrear recovery through universal credit will claw 20% from non-housing increment of UC and could mean tenants seeking loans from loan sharks and the problem of mismanagement of remainder of their  benefits and debt housing and social housing providers warned .

http:// http://m.insidehousing.co.uk/regulation/scale-of-arrears-clawback-plan-sparks-fears/7006926.article

UN Statement on Typhoon Haiyan


unlogo_blue_sml_enThe humanitarian community’s response and commitment in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan had been phenomenal despite overwhelming challenges, John Ging, a senior humanitarian official said today at a press conference at United Nations Headquarters.

Mr. Ging, Director of Operations for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the Typhoon had left a large trail of destruction across the Philippines.  “Currently, 13 million were affected, 1.9 million displaced and 3,600 people have died”, he added.

He applauded the international community for their support to a $301 million appeal launched in Manila, noting that $72 million had so far been received.  Furthermore, the OCHA official expressed his gratitude to the United States, United Kingdom, Israel, Malaysia, Australia, Japan and Sweden, and to other countries for their logistical support, humanitarian services and recovery efforts.  However, he stressed the need for a more sustained and collective response to helping those affected by the disaster to rebuild their lives.

Also present at the briefing was Ted Chaiban, Director of Emergency Programmes for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who stated that the Typhoon had affected an estimated 5 million children and that the Fund’s emergency efforts were running non-stop.  “UNICEF staff were on the ground in Tacloban, Ormoc, Aklan and Capiz, and had set up field offices to render support to those affected,” Mr. Chaiban said.

UNICEF was gaining a clearer picture of the massive needs for clean water, food, essential medicines and sanitation for children in those affected communities, he said.  All of those items had become a top priority for the Fund.

Speaking on the issue of water, he said that those resources had been partially restored in Tacloban city and that would improve access to 200,000 people including children and women.  Furthermore, significant amounts of supplies had been delivered to the locality including water bladders, hygiene kits, toilet slabs, and water purifying tablets.  Through a partnership with Oxfam, hygiene kits were distributed in northern Cebu and, in cooperation with the Department of Public Works and Highways, sludge treatment facilities had been constructed and emergency latrines and mobile toilets deployed.

Responding to questions, Mr. Ging said that money was “grossly” needed to cope with humanitarian crises, not only in the Philippines, but across the world, noting that, “humanitarian activities were unfunded and funds were also needed to tackle the challenges.”  Funds were needed to secure relief supplies, and to stock them in warehouses across the world, so as to be well-prepared for natural disasters.  In addition, helicopters and other air transportation facilities were required to reach localities that were inaccessible by roads.

Source: UN

World Bank–World Development Indicators


wdi-2013-banner

The primary World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially-recognized international sources. It presents the most current and accurate global development data available, and includes national, regional and global estimates.

Access the database, tables and content of the new WDI …

Every Breath He Takes


Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA (born 8 January 1942) is a British theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author of “A Brief History of Time“. His key scientific works to date have included with Roger Penrose, theory regarding gravitational singularities in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes should emit radiation, which is today known as Hawking radiation.

We can all hear this radiation when the televisions we watch go into ‘white noise’ mode – when you see the black and white dots on the TV screen before it shuts transmission. They are picked up from our satellites. When we hear this noise -this is the beginning of the universe – the radiation is 13 billion years old.

Professor Hawking suffers from Motor Neurone disease – which could have attacked his ability to breath – he is this year 70 years of age.

Professor Hawking and Roger Penrose looked at the nature of time itself.

 

Trending: From black holes to bright lights for Hawking (independent.co.uk)

The Liver Run


Cromwell Hospital

This  enthralling piece of footage is the second part of the crucial delivery of a donor liver by the Metropolitan Police.

The liver was collected from Stanstead Airport by the Essex police on its first part of its journey – however the Metropolitan police had the unenviable task of navigating into London to the Cromwell Hospital

The journey begins from Junction 7 by two Metropolitan police Rover SD1 3500s. The two cars(one a back-up) speed Southbound into London. At times their speeds peak at  120 Mph .

The journey  was made in 30 mins with just 5 minutes to spare and described as one of the finest examples of police driving under pressure ever captured on video.

Around 50 police officers were used to help transport the liver. These were mainly posted in advance to road junctions to stop the traffic as the liver run approached.

When driving through The City area of London, two motorbikes from the City of London police helped escort the Metropolitan police cars.

MP’s criticise Health Reforms


A committee of MPs believe that the changes proposed by Andrew Lansley‘s health reforms are obstructing efforts to make the NHS more efficient, and that the reforms fail to address how to care better for an expanding elderly population.

The highly critical report by the cross-party select committee on health, that is due to be published on Tuesday, comes as the medical establishment prepares its own summit on Thursday to discuss concerns over the health and social care bill.

The report which is the findings of a committee chaired by Stephen Dorrell, the former Conservative health secretary  will probably cause alarm in Downing Street as the committee has both a Tory and Liberal Democrat majority, and the report shows concern over the Health Secretary’s attempts to restructure the NHS in England where more power will be given to GPs are making it more difficult to deliver on a separate target of £20bn of efficiency savings by 2014-15.

The report echoes the widespread view in the medical profession that it is deeply unwise to be inflicting far-reaching structural reform on the NHS at the same time as asking it to make huge savings. The committee believes that far from finding savings by innovation and greater efficiency, a lot of hospitals are simply cutting their services, despite the Health Secretary’s assurance that this wouldn’t happen. The Committee said it has heard that the ‘innovation’ and efficiency measures have created more disruption and distraction than reform of the service delivery and saving.

The report voices frustration that Lansley’s plans fail to grasp the real challenge facing a cash-strapped NHS – that of moving more care into the community in order to provide better, more affordable and more integrated social and health services for the elderly. Members of the committee, including Dorrell, are known to be concerned at the rising cost to the NHS of caring for elderly patients, many of whom could be kept out of hospital if they were offered help to live at home or in the community. The Bill is expected to return to the House of Lords next month for it’s report stage on the 8th February.

Andy Burnham the Shadow Health Minister said: “The committee have delivered a damning verdict on Lansley’s mishandling of the NHS. It is time for David Cameron to listen to what doctors, nurses and now his own senior MPs are saying and call a halt to this reckless reorganisation.”

However more than 50 GPs from the NHS Alliance who are involved in the commissioning and controlling of the NHS budgets under the changes, have been critical of the British Medical Association’s policy of “blanket opposition” to the health and social care bill. The senior group of GPs claim that previous reforms have not gone far enough and the health service has in the past paid the price for a lack of reform.

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Wheelchair Demo in London


Today protesters have gathered in the West End to campaign against the government’s welfare reform bill. Oxford Street, Regent Street and Oxford Circus have been brought to a standstill as people in wheelchairs chained themselves together.

Campaigners from disability groups and direct action group UK Uncut chanted and waved banners and banged drums blocking off Regent Street and the demonstration is believed to have caused traffic jams in London’s West End as fifteen people in wheelchairs chained themselves to railings and eventually were joined by hundreds of others to campaign against the Government’s Welfare Reform.

Campaigners believe that hundreds of thousands of families will lose their homes or become “imprisoned” inside them. Josie McDermott, a 32-year-old UK Uncut supporter, said: “The welfare reform bill is cruel and unnecessary”  and added “..this protest is an essential way to persuade the government to scrap its plans.”

Campaigners believe that the Government is choosing to pick on marginalised groups of people in the UK, in trying to pay back the economic UK deficit rather than focussing on the large bonuses and companies that they believe continue to avoid tax to the estimated amount of £25bn.

“It is typical bully tactics by the government to force marginalised people in society to pay for the economic downturn” one campaigner said.

A spokesperson for the Government said that they will continue to spend more than £40bn a year on disabled people, and that they are committed to supporting disabled people in the UK.

The bill will not affect households  where someone receives disability living allowance, as they will be exempt from the benefit cap the Government has pledged, and they have also said that an extra £190 million will be given to local authorities over a four year period to ensure vulnerable people are supported through the housing benefit reform to ensure that disabled people will not lose their homes.

Public Consultation on Mitochondrial disease


The public will be asked if they think the law should be changed to allow science to move a step forward so a cure could be found for potentially fatal inherited diseases, the Government has announced today.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has been asked to lead a public discussion to ask if a new scientific procedure, which could prevent women with mitochondrial disease from passing the illness to their children, should be introduced. This will be launched later this year.

Mitochondrial disease is a genetic condition that affects an individual’s mitochondria – the part of the body’s cells that produces the energy they need to function. The disease affects everyone differently, but symptoms include poor growth, loss of muscle coordination, visual and hearing problems, mental disorders, heart disease and liver disease.

The condition affects approximately one in 5,000 adults. One in 6,500 babies are born with a severe form of the disease that can lead to death in early infancy. There is no cure.

It is estimated that around 12,000 people live with a mitochondrial disease in the UK and scientists estimate that the treatment could save the lives of around ten children affected by severe forms of the disease a year.

A proposed procedure would use IVF to fertilise the egg of a woman affected by mitochondrial disease with her partner’s sperm. The genetic material of the fertilised egg that determines the characteristics of the potential child would then be transferred to the shell of an egg donated by a woman who has healthy mitochondria. This procedure would not be allowed under the current law

Source: NDS (C.O.I.)

NHS To Share Data With Private Companies


The Prime Minister will announce on Monday plans to allow patients records and other NHS data to be shared with private ‘life science’ companies.

Tomorrow he will argue that giving researchers access to the NHS information will make it easier for them to develop and test new drugs and treatment. The idea proposed is to cut current regulation that restricts collaboration of this kind which he feels could boost the life science industry, which already employs 160,000 people in the UK, with an annual turnover of £50bn.

The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham in the Sunday Telegrapgh today said that he was not opposed to the idea in principle, but warned that the government  should have safeguards in place because of the nature of the sensitive and confidential NHS information that the private firms access could have access to.

Downing Street has said that the move is to help the the UK’s  life sciences industry. become a market leader in this field “We want to see much closer collaboration between the NHS and life science companies – not just greater data-sharing, but more clinical trials in hospitals.”  The changes it envisages are designed not only to boost this particular  industry, but also potentially give the NHS early access to new and innovative drug treatments it beleives.

Addiction among professionals


man wearing medical scrubs and stethoscope holding glass of hard liquor alcohol

Experts are calling for urgent action to tackle the “significant challenge” of rising levels of alcoholism and substance abuse among professionals including doctors, dentists and lawyers.

At the first international conference of its kind, in Ireland this weekend, there were calls for the UK government to help the silent mass of professionals who were “functioning alcoholics”.

Rory O’Connor, the UK co-ordinator of health support programmes for dentists and veterinary surgeons, told the Observer that Britain was turning a blind eye to a huge problem. He said: “There are serious issues regarding health professionals accessing appropriate help for mental health issues and there are serious issues in the treatment that is out there for them.”

Research suggests 15-24% of lawyers will suffer from alcoholism during their careers, while the British Medical Association estimates that one in 15 healthcare professionals will develop an addiction problem. Doctors are three times more likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver than the general population.

One indicator of the growing problem is the rise in the popularity of “rehab tourism”. Reports from private healthcare companies indicate a growing number of “mental health tourists” – professionals seeking treatment abroad.

O’Connor said: “That is hardly surprising, as they can afford it. These are people functioning with varying degrees and levels of impairment and not likely to seek help among their peers. They can’t go to the hospital down the road where everyone will know them, can they? It’s one reason why they are such a hard-to-reach group.

“If you ask the man in the street what an alcoholic is, they’ll generally say a down and out, but 96% of people with addictions actually function quite well most of the time. They are captains of industry, medical directors, vets, dentists… and we need to tackle it and to look at the acceptance that has been going on in their regulatory bodies”

Source: Guardian Society 13-11-2011

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