FAMILY DOCTORS ARE BACK…TO SOLVE A&E CRISIS

By DAVID WOODING
TRADITIONAL family doctors will to make a comeback under plans to tackle the A and E crisis.
GPs will be relieved of box-ticking chores and given more time to care for patients.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt hopes it will divert A THIRD of people away from over-stretched casualty departments.
Up to 6.5 million people go straight to hospital because they can’t see their GP, chemist or paramadic.
But Mr Hunt believes the return of old-style family practitioner responsible for their patients 24/7 will ease the pressure.
ImageReforms to be unveiled this week will put GPs “back in the driving seat” of health care.
From next April, old and vulnerable patients will be guaranteed a “named” GP who knows their medical history.
It is the first step towards tearing up Labour’s controversial contract which he blames for queues outside A&E units.
The right will be rolled out to other groups over the next four years.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Mr Hunt said; “Since 2004, we’ve made it easier and easier to get into A&E and harder to go and see a GP.
“The average wait in an A&E is 50 minutes. Compare that with how hard it is to get an appointment with your GP when you phone up.
“It’s not because GPs aren’t working hard, it’s just that Labour changed the nature of their job.
“Now they are only responsible for people on their list when their doors are open. Once they close up shop it’s someone else’s job.”
Mr Hunt also wants to phase out targets will force GPs to take a certain number of blood pressure readings or ask people how much many they smoke or drink – whatever their ailment.
He said: “I’m not joking. They get paid by asking people on their list a series of questions and the taxpayer pays them. This is what the contract introduced.
“You get the situation where a patient comes in with a fever and the GP says I need to ask you 16 other questions. That’s got to change. You’ve got to feel when you see your GP that the GP is there for you and is looking at the whole of you.”
He stressed: “It’s not about saying GPs must work harder, it’s about changing the structure which makes it impossible for them to be the family doctors they wanted to be when they joined the profession.
“If you go to a GPs’ surgery now, it is like a mini A&E and some feel they are fending off the hoards at the gate and the moment the phone lines open there is a whole queue of people trying to get through.”
The pressure on GPs has in turn led to people going straight to casualty for out of hours problems that could be dealt with by a family doctor.
Seven in ten unplanned admissions are over-65s. They also take up more time because some have multiple conditions which a family doctor could deal with quicker.
Hospitals also feel the pressure on bed space because consultants are less willing to release a patient unless they are sure they have got care at home.
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Mr Hunt added: “There is a group of patients who most of the time probably shouldn’t be going to A&E at all and these are the people who we’d look after much better if we proactively supported them so they didn’t need to go to hospital in the first place.
“Labour’s GP contract changes in 2004 destroyed the personal link between patients and their GPs by abolishing named GPs. As a result we have too many forgotten old people being pushed from pillar to post between hospital, social care and their GP surgery.
“That is the biggest single thing we can do to make A&E sustainable going forward.”
Mr Hunt said his aim was to tackle health issues outside hospitals as well as inside.
He has introduced Ofsted-style ward inspections to prevent a repeat of the Mid-Staffs scandal.
But he added: “It is also about people being left alone who actually need our NHS to be there for them. This is what will transform the NHS in the long run and make it a sustainable organization.
“The changes I will announce next week will mean there is someone looking out for you them the whole time, someone from the NHS who is there for these people.”
But last night doctors’ leaders warned the plan would fail without extra funding.
Mike Pringle, president of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “They are overwhelmed by the workload they are expected to deliver.
“We have got to start to build general practice, not blame it, not victimise it.
“We have to invest in it if we are going to solve these problems. And I am sure the Secretary of State recognises that.”
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PM lacks full public confidence in tackling terror

By DAVID WOODING
BRITAIN today delivers a damning verdict on David Cameron’s handling of the terrorist threat.
Six in ten people have no confidence in the PM’s response to the crisis and fear he will have little real impact.
Most doubt he has the authority within his party – or the coalition – to take the decisive action needed.
And more than half say he was wrong to jet off on holiday three days after soldier Lee Rigby was murdered.
Serious doubts over Mr Cameron’s reaction to the Woolwich attack are revealed in an exclusive Survation poll published in The Sun today.
Alarmingly, even Tory voters are split over whether his action plan will make the country any safer.
They want him to take a much tougher line, locking up fanatics who provoke violence and sending terrorist suspects back where they came from.
Mr Cameron has vowed to muzzle hate-preachers and stop them spreading their poison in schools, colleges and prisons.
He will head a new task force of MI5 chiefs, cops and religious leaders to tackle extremism and radicalisation.
But a massive 60 per cent of people don’t believe his plan will have a real impact on the problem.
And even more – 63 per cent – do not have full confidence in the PM’s overall handling of the terrorist threat.
But 54 per cent DO have confidence in MI5’s ability to protect them from terrorist attack.
Deserting
Survation chief executive Damian Lyons Lowe said: “At a time when the public are looking for leadership, David Cameron appears a little too chillaxed.
“It is difficult for him to be seen as acting decisively when it doesn’t look as though he has control of his own party, let alone the Coalition.”
Mr Cameron’s decision to fly to Ibiza with his family has clearly dented confidence in his, the poll suggests.
Some 56 per cent said he should have put off the sunshine jaunt and stayed in London to deal with the crisis personally.
Only 36 per cent think he was right to take a family holiday.
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Tory supporters are deserting Mr Cameron in droves and flocking to UKIP.
A quarter of those who voted Conservative in 2010 now plan to vote for Nigel Farage’s anti-EU party.
Support for UKIP among the over-54s – those most likely to turn out at an election – is a whopping 25 per cent.
Tories now lag nine points behind Labour as the party people are most likely to vote for.
The poll puts them on 25 per cent, with Labour at 36, UKIP on 20 and the Lib Dems in fourth place on ten.
Seven out of ten people think the UK government should deport foreign criminals while their appeal are ongoing.
And 56 per cent say Britain places too much emphasis on protecting freedom of speech and not enough tackling incitement.
Nearly four in ten – 38 per cent – believe attempts to kick out hate preacher Abu Qatada will fail and he will stay here indefinitely.
Only 24 per cent think he will be forcibly extradited to Jordan by the government.
Despite huge condemnation from the Muslims over Drummer Rigby’s murder, most people believe they are not outspoken enough.
Six in ten think Islamic communities have been too complacent and need to do more about the threat of hate preachers and extremism.
This compares with 26 per cent who believe they have been trying hard and doing all they can to combat the peril.
NUMBER CRUNCHING
Poll highlights:
State of the parties: Con 25 (+1), Lab 36 (+1), UKIP 20 (-2), Lib Dem 10 (no change)
What is your assessment of level of terrorist threat?
Very/serious 55, Moderate threat 39, None 6.
Confidence in Cameron’s proposals to have a real impact.
Yes 25, No 60, Don’t know 14.
David Cameron lacks  authority in his party to take decisive action.
Yes 56, No 34, Don’t know 11.
David Cameron’s holiday in Ibiza.
Should have postponed 55, Right to go 36, Don’t know 9.
Confidence in Cameron’s handling of terror threat.
No 63, Yes, 27, Don’t know 10.
Muslim communities need to do more about threat of hate preachers 60 per cent. Doing all they can 26, Don’t know 14.
Abu Qatada will be forcibly extradited 24
He will return to Jordan voluntarily 20
He will remain in UK indefinitely 38.
Don’t know 17.
Survation conducted its survey by online panel on May 30, 2013. It polled 1,007 adults aged 18+ in England, Scotland and Wales.

The unwitting wit of the Irony Lady

By DAVID WOODING
STRAIT-laced Maggie Thatcher often had her staff in fits of laughter with saucy one-liners – without knowing why.
The three times PM, who died last week, was first to admit she wasn’t a natural wit and never quite grasped a double meaning.
Her dry sense of humour was a nightmare for speech writers who feared she might fluff the punchlines.
But some of her best and most hilarious gags were delivered unintentionally.
Her prim and proper upbringing led to a string of unwitting quips on the world stage which left her aides stifling their giggles.
Most famously, she once paid tribute to her loyal deputy Willie Whitelaw by remarking: “Every Prime Minister needs a Willie.”
Clanger
On another occasion, she was puzzled when guests roared at her after-dinner speech as she described how a distinguished colleague had met his wife while “on the job”.
Troops were close to tears when she made  a flying visit to the Falkland Islands after the defeat of the invading Argentine army in 1982.
She was invited to sit in the range-finder’s seat astride a large piece of field artillery.
“Is it safe?” she asked her military hosts before adding innocently: “Or will it jerk me off?”
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Mrs Thatcher naively dropped a similar clanger while inspecting garden implements on a flying visit to a hardware shop in Fulham, south west London.
She picked up a large trowel and said: “I’ve never seen a tool as big as that before.”
A journalist recalled: “We all started sniggering and she gave us all disapproving looks, which made it even worse.”
Lady T was a stickler for buying British and tore into journalists who used Japanese tape recorders during interviews.
She even made them open their jackets to check whether their suits had come from Italy or Hong Kong – and would give offenders one of her infamous “hand-baggings”.
Shortly after moving into 10 Downing Street, she posed for pictures with her husband Denis. A brave reporter asked: “Who wears the trousers in this house?”
Quick as a flash, Denis replied: “I do. And I wash and iron them, too.”

Binge drinking: The answer is right under your nose, PM

By DAVID WOODING
WHY does everyone have to suffer whenever the government wants to crack down on a few trouble makers?
David Cameron plans to ban cheap booze  in a bid to stop binge-drinkers wreaking havoc in our town centres.
He could do it by enforcing the existing law which makes it an offence to sell alcohol to people who appear to have had one too many.
But official figures show that only EIGHT landlords have been convicted of the offence in two years.
So it looks like there has been no attempt to tackle the problem using the powers at the PM’s disposal. Instead, everyone will suffer as he uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut.#
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Let’s be clear, putting a minimum price on supermarket beer, wines and spirits won’t stop boozed-up hooligans or problem drinkers. It will hit the less well-off who rely on a cut-price glass or two as a weekend treat, while the price of Chablis and Champers enjoyed by the middle classes won’t go up.
Ministry of Justice statistics show five licensees were convicted for selling alcohol to drunks in the whole of England and Wales during 2011,  the last year for which figures are available. It was only three during 2010.
If there really is a problem with drunks pouring out of pubs at closing time then why haven’t there been more prosecutions?
These figures will inflame a furious Cabinet row over plans to impose a minimum price of 45p a unit on all alcohol.
Selling booze to a person who is drunk carries a £1,000 fine under the 2003 Licensing Act.
Alcohol consumption is already falling, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
It forecasts that by 2018, Britons will be drinking 2.4 BILLLION fewer units – even without minimum pricing.
Unfair
Tory MP Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 committee of backbenchers, urged ministers to enforce existing laws rather than clobber responsible drinkers.
He said: “Government already interferes far too much in people’s lives.
“If ministers want to stop anti-social drinking they already have the powers to do so without punishing everybody.”
Miles Beale, of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, added: “The government should enforce existing measures designed to combat problem drinking.
“Minimum pricing is unfair, ineffective and probably illegal. Why should responsible drinkers pay more?
“Alcohol consumption is already falling and there are tried-and-tested ways to combat problem drinking.”
A long and costly legal battle is already under way in Edinburgh over minimum pricing.
A law passed by the Scottish Parliament last year is being challenged on the grounds it breaches EU fair trade laws.
Minimum pricing would add about £600 million to the nation’s annual drinks bill.
It would mean a bottle of Tesco Chilean Chardonnay wine rising from £3.99 to £4.23. The store’s Everyday Value Whisky would shoot up from £11.00 to £12.60.
And 4x440ml of Sainsbury’s Crown Lager would increase from £3.47 to £3.96. Similarly 4x500ml of Asda Belgian Lager would rise from £3.94 to £4.50.

L-test interpreters to be banned

By DAVID WOODING

IMMIGRANTS will be banned from taking driving tests in foreign languages in a bid to wipe out cheating.
Nearly 900 have had their licences revoked after being told what to do by rogue translators.
Ministers fear there are many more and will ditch rules which let learners sit the theory test in any of 21 languages.
They are also concerned about handing licences to thousands of people who can’t speak English or read road signs.
Drivers can get translation into a range of languages, including Polish, Punjabi, Arabic, Tamil, Urdu, Mirpuri and Albanian.
By contrast, motorists in France can take their test in only one language – French.

Rogue

About 675 learners A WEEK take the the British test with an interpreter in the back seat.
A further 2,100 use them or rely on specially-made voiceovers for their theory exam.
The free service, introduced by Labour, costs taxpayers £250,000 – plus £10,000 for every “cheat” inquiry.
But ministers are to ditch it after nine rogue interpreters were struck off in the past two years.
They were caught coaching drivers during their test or even giving them the answers in the theory.
Dozens more are under investigation for a scam which is feared to be widespread.
Road safety minister Stephen Hammond wants to ban interpreters from all sections of the driving test.
He fears too many learners are being given a licence before they are fit to get behind the wheel alone.
It would also help immigrants to integrate more by ensuring they learned English.
L_plates3Mr Hammond said: “This isn’t about saving money, it’s about cutting out fraud and making our roads safer.
“We have seen too many interpreters helping people pass their test when they are clearly not up to it.
“It’s also common sense to expect people to understand road signs if they are going to drive on our roads.”
Manchester City star Carlos Tevez got a six-month driving ban last week after a court heard he did not understand the word “constabulary” meant “police”.
Mr Hammond will launch a consultation this month about banning all voiceovers and interpreters on theory and practical tests.

ENDS

Cameron to take sex out of marriage

By DAVID WOODING
SEX is to be taken out of marriage law – so gay couples can tie the knot.
Ministers plan to solve a legal wrangle by ditching the historic requirment for newlyweds to consummate their union.
The rules say a marriage is not complete until a man and wife have “ordinary and complete” intercourse.
But the detailed description of what that means would make it impossible for gay and lesbian couples to fulfil their vows.
I’m not going to go into the precise wording of what consummation means by law for fear of readers crying “Too much information.” But suffice to say the coalition is considering a re-write of a key section of the Matrimonial Causes Act.
It would end the right to annul a marriage on the grounds of non-consummation.
Last night a furious MP claimed it would reduce marriage to the level of a civil partnership – an option already available to gay people.
Tory Edward Leigh accused Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone diminishing the meaning of wedlock for everyone.
He said: “If the government presses ahead with the redefinition of marriage, it will have profound effects on the ability of individuals to have a marriage annulled.
“This is something that is particularly important to Catholics for whom annulment is permitted by the church, but divorce is not.”
Ministers have been forced to consider dropping consummation so the law applies equally to straight and same-sex couples.
Rash
But in a letter to Ms Featherstone, Mr Leigh warns the legislation is complex and cannot be changed “at the stroke of a pen”.
And he warned of a rash of legal challenges if the need to consummate a marriage is removed.
“In legal terms, this would mean a couple are married the moment they complete either a civil or religious marriage ceremony,” he said.
“This would diminish marriage to the level of a legal contract and remove any link between marriage and children – or indeed between marriage and physical intimacy.
“This would constitute an unprecedented assault on the deeply-held beliefs of those who say a marriage is not complete until the act of consummation.
“It would fly in the face of assurances that this change would only affect marriages solemnised by a civil wedding since all marriages would be affected by this change.”

Queens
It is the latest legal controversy to engulf plans to allow gays and lesbians equal marriage rights.
Ministers have been warned they may need to re-write the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.
It does not allow same-sex marriages and a change would be needed to allow two Queens or two Kings on the throne.
Gay marriage has caused a massive split in Tory ranks – despite PM David Cameron promising MPs a free vote.
Home Secretary Theresa May last week became the most senior minister to back marriages for all.
She said she was a strong supporter of marriage and it should be available to everyone regardless of sexual orientation.
But fellow Cabinet minister Owen Paterson is the most senior Tory MP to oppose the idea.

Chillax…the Prime Minister’s down time

By DAVID WOODING
DAVID Cameron has been branded the most laid-back Prime Minister in modern history after details of his secret leisure habits were revealed.
He switches off by playing snooker, watching “crap” films, quaffing three or four glasses of wine with lunch and having an afternoon nap.
Family weekends at Chequers are spent playing tennis against a machine dubbed “the Clegger”.
His country retreat even has a karaoke machine where he whiles away the evenings.
Lazy 
A close pal denied claims Mr Cameron is lazy but admitted: “If there was an Olympic gold medal for chillaxing he would win it.
“He is capable of switching off in a way that almost no other politician I know of can.”
The PM’s pastimes are laid bare in a new book which lifts the lid on his downtime at Chequers.
It will revive claims by critics that he is too lazy and complacent and is tempted to coast.
Tory and Labour opponents have dubbed him “DVD Dave” for his love of boxed sets and have poked fun at his weekly “date nights” with wife Sam.
But supporters say his ability to unwind helps him cope with the strain of the job without going off the rails.
His Sunday routine starts with an early thumb through the papers, according to the book “Cameron, Practically a Conservative” by Francis Elliott and James Hanning.
He then checks a few things on his computer and may take a couple of phone calls.
But he doesn’t go back obsessively checking the computer or re-writing speeches or fretting about what Sunday columnists have written.
A pal said that after absorbing information and telling his aides what action to take, he tells himself: “I will now go into the vegetable patch, watch a crap film on telly, play with the children, cook, have three or four glasses of wine with my lunch, have an afternoon nap, play tennis.”
Mr Cameron makes full use of a machine that serves high-velocity tennis balls at him on the Chequers court.
He has called it “the Clegger” after his hard-fought 7-5 victory over the Deputy PM.
Once when he was alone at the house one weekend, he called a friend to invite him over for a game of snooker.
But Mr Cameron doesn’t take his luxury retreat for granted.
He has told his kids to make the most of their weekends there.
Relax
And he insists visiting children pose for pictures with him, warning his time at the country retreat will be short-lived.
Daughter Nancy, eight, once told a guest: “Daddy says we’re to enjoy it here as we won’t be here for long.”
One observer said: “David is probably the most laid-back Prime Minister in a long time.
“He’s a world apart from Gordon Brown who beavered away 24/7. He is even tempered and easily shrugs of criticism. He takes everything in his stride and knows when to knuckle down and when to relax.”
But friends say his enthusiastic leisure time is a good sign and shows he is at ease with power.
Education Secretary Michael Gove insists weekends at Chequers, frequent holidays and set family meal times showed he was NORMAL.
He added: “He is the model of how to have a clear divide between the world of work and then relaxation so you can clear your mind.
“There are very few people who have such a finely developed capacity to do that.”