Iain Duncan Smith: We’ll Root Out Benefit Cheats

Martyn Brown of the Daily Express reports Britain’s benefit system is seen as a money-making scam by criminals, Iain Duncan Smith warned yesterday.

The Work and Pensions Secretary promised to get tough with benefit cheats, vowing they will not get away with swindling the taxpayer out of anymore money.

A rogues gallery of 10 of the most outrageous con  artists caught this year includes people who claimed to ill to work, or even walk, but were caught jetskiing, Morris dancing, trampolining, bodybuilding, playing golf and even performing on TV’s The X Factor spin-off The Xtra Factor.

Latest figures show £1.2billion was lost to fraud last year.

Ministers say that the move to Universal Credit – combining several benefits into one – will make it easier to catch fraudsters.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “The vast majority of people play by the rules. I’m determined to root out the unscrupulous minority who are cheating hard working taxpayers and diverting it from those who need it most.

“Some people see the welfare state as a money-making scam but I have a simple message for them – you will not get away with it.”

Among the worst offenders last year, Sonia Mellor, 33, of Manchester, was given a suspended prison sentence for claiming £100,000 because she was “virtually immobile”. She was caught on film trampolining.

Karen Trant, 52, of Dartmouth, in Devon, was jailed for more than two years after raking in £134,000 in benefits. She said she could not walk outdoors in new places but enjoyed tropical holidays and had plastic surgery.

Former Mr Wales Peter Beddoe, 50, of Aberdare, was jailed for six months after falsely claiming £28,000 in benefits while competing in bodybuilding.

The £23,000 scam of father-of-five Joseph Ross, 44, of Walsall, West Midlands, was rumbled when a Youtube video of him emerged playing a guitar with boyband JLS on the Xtra Factor. He got a suspended jail sentence.

Allan Baldwin, 67, of Lockerbie in Scotland, claimed more than £28,000 in benefits after saying he was barely able to walk. Yet investigators filmed him joining in with a Morris dancing group. He also got a suspended jail term.

Mark Kemp, 58, of Oldham, Lancs, claimed £35,000 in disability living allowance saying he needed a stick to walk, despite teaching martial arts. He too was given a suspended jail term.

“And how is IDS going to push this zero tolerance through- another witch hunt.”

NHS ‘FAILS YOUNG PEOPLE’

The Sun newspaper has  unveiled how fourteen per cent of young people were unable to see a GP when they last tried, a report has revealed.

And thirteen per cent ended up without aid.

Patients aged 18-34 who cannot see GPs are twice as likely as older folk to use A&E or walk-in units.

Twelve per cent do in such cases, compared to six per cent of over-55s.

Citizens Advice said its 900,000-patient quiz showed the NHS failed young people.

Chief Gillian Guy said: “Long working hours can make it difficult for younger adults to get to GPs.”

Fury at Bid to Double Wait for Ambulances

Michael Pickard reports in the Daily Express plans to extend ambulance response times to up to 19 minutes for some emergency calls were on hold last night.

The move, disclosed in a leaked document, suggests response times for some “Red 2” patients may be changed from the current eight minutes in England.

This category refers to patients who have “serious but not the most life-threatening” conditions, such as some seizures or strokes.

The document said thee proposals had been approved by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt subject to confirmation from the medical directors of 10 ambulance trusts.

Outrageous

But the Department of Health said “no decisions have been made”, while Mr Hunt also refuted the claims.  However, the memo claims that NHS England has “agreed in principle”.

The only higher category Red 1, refers to “immediately life threatening” incidents. The changes would lead to about 40 per cent of Red 2 incidents moving to a 19-minute response time.

Andy Burnham, The shadow health secretary, wrote to Mr Hunt yesterday. He said the minister had been  in Parliament on Thursday to answer questions on NHS winter planning.

“It is outrageous that he decided to keep MPs and the public in the dark about a decision he had already taken and one which will have far-reaching implications. Patients are already waiting hours on end for ambulances.” Tony Hughes, GMB regional officer for the ambulance service in London and East of England, said: “If these plans go ahead we will see more people die from conditions that can be treated, if given the right resource in good time. The whole of the A&E structure is at breaking point.”

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, which drew up the plans, said it would ensure that “only patients who truly need a response in eight minutes receive one”.

It added: “We firmly believe that our proposals are safe and deliver benefits both for patients and for staff who have been concerned for some time that we continue to try and reach  many patients in eight minutes when it is not clinically required.

The proposals would not be formally approved until NHS England and the Secretary of State “are convinced, as we are, that they are clinically safe and that they offer better care for our patients”.

The Department of Health said it would only agree to proposed changes that improve response times for urgent cases. Mr Hunt said there were no plans to double waiting times “and there never have been”.

THE strain on the ambulance service is fast becoming intolerable.

Leo McKinstry follows this up with an article on the Daily Express website that suggests an ambulance and fire merger could be the solution.

Read article

“I need sedating!!!”

We’re Now Living 6 Years Longer

life expectancy has increased by six years in a generation research has shown.

Global life expectancy at birth rose by 5.8 years for men and 6.6  for women between 1990 and 2013.

But UK women saw only a 4.4-year increase from 78.4 to 82.8  years. In high-income  regions, life expectancy had mostly been increased by falling cancer  and heart disease death rates, said the report.

There have also been dramatic increases in life expectancy in some low-income countries, experts found. In Nepal, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Niger, the Maldives, Timor-Leste and Iran, life expectancy increased by more than 12 years in the last two decades

Southern Africa was the only region experiencing the opposite trend, due to the scourge of HIV and AIDS. Their  lifespans have shortened by more than five years.

Certain causes of death were shown to have increased  around the world since 1990. They included liver cancer, drug use conditions, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes and pancreatic cancer, the study in The Lancet medical journal found.

Drug Cash is Killing Cancer Care

Vincent Moss reports in the Sunday Mirror that cancer patients miss out on the most effective treatment because new drugs are being funded at the expense of replacing old radiotherapy machines, Labour has warned.

Almost one in five of the £1.4million NHS machines are more than a decade old.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said surgery and radiotherapy are responsible for 90 per cent of cancer cures, but their budget is being raided to cover an overspend on cancer drugs.

Mr Burnham added: “The Government’s failure to invest has left hospitals across England with out-of-date equipment unable to deliver modern treatment.”

Of 217 linear accelerator machines, 39 are overdue for replacement in accordance with NHS guidelines. Another 90 need replacing by 2016.

Labour plans a £330million Cancer Treatment fund for new kit if it wins the election.

Our NHS has multiple fractures,  can the edges ever knit together!

Benefit Cuts – Research Says It Works!

Research proves that more people will be helped back into work when families have benefits slashed under a welfare cap, claims Iain Duncan Smith.

The amount households can claim in handouts  for housing and living costs will be cut from £26,000 to £23,000 a year if the Conservatives win the next election.

A study for the Work and Pensions Secretary found that 41 per cent of people who had their benefits capped at £500 a week were more likely to find a job.

Nearly a third were doing more to find work, a third put in more applications and one in five went to more interviews.

More than three-quarters of those questioned in February who said they intended to seek work had found a job within six months, the research shows.

Mr Duncan Smith, said: “We now have clear evidence of the positive impact68d31-iain-duncan-smith[1] of the benefit cap and I expect even more people will move off benefits and into work when the cap is lowered. Labour are committed to scrapping the cap and returning us to  the days of unjustified benefit handouts of up to £54,000 a year, equal to a pre-tax wage of over £80,000.”

More than 12,000 households have taken up jobs or stopped claiming housing benefit, saving taxpayers £85million last year alone.

The households are among the 52,000 that have had benefits capped at £500 a week for couples or single parents and £350 a week for childless single adults since new rules were introduced in April 2013.

Hundreds of families were pocketing handouts equal to a salary of £60,000 a year and 59 households were claiming at least £900 a week, equivalent to almost £70,000 before tax.

Not bad Iain, commissioning research you know will enable you to blow your own trumpet!

£15Billion NHS Pill Bill

The NHS cost as half of woman are on prescription drugs.

The Sun newspaper reports that almost half England’s population takes prescription drugs – costing the NHS £15billion a year.

fifty per cent of woman and 43 per cent of men used at least one medicine in the last week.

And almost a quarter of both sexes took at least three – hitting 70 per cent for over-75s, the Health Survey for England revealed.

Cholesterol-lowering statins, pain relief and anti-depressants were among the most common.

More than 30 per cent of prescriptions – of which 2.7million are dispensed daily – are for cardiovascular disease and the total pill bill out of the NHS’s near-£100billion annual budget is more than £15billion.

The survey also showed the proportion of woman smokers from 2003 to 2013 fell from 24 to 17 per cent, and from 27 to 24 per cent of men.

About a quarter of men and women are obese, while 41 per cent of men and 33 per cent of women are overweight.

For the over-65s, a third of women and almost a quarter of men needed some social care, and that will spiral as the population ages, the report said.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre, who ran the survey, said it provided “valuable information” on the nation’s health and lifestyle.

A much needed solution to save and sustain our NHS, never mind improve it, is just not forthcoming.

Drinks Can – ‘A Risk To Health’ – Alert Over Chemical

Drinking two cans of fizzy pop can trigger a dangerous rise in blood pressure due to a chemical used in packaging.

New research shows bisphenol A (BPA) – used as a lining to prevent rust in food and drink cans – can have a rapid effect on the heart.

Most UK adults have a blood pressure reading of between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg. In tests, volunteers who had two drinks from cans saw blood pressure rise by 5mmHG, enough to raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke. A 20mmHg rise doubles the chances of potentially fatal illness.

The study at Seoul University in South Korea, also found levels of BPA in the urine soared by 1,000 per cent.

Researcher Dr Yun-Chul Hong urged consumers to choose fresh or bottled food and drinks, adding: “Hopefully, manufacturers will develop healthy alternatives to BPA.

BPA, also used in plastic packaging, has long been linked to health problems. The EU banned its use in baby bottles. The UK Food Standards Agency said: “At current levels there is no appreciable health risk.”

Gastric band mum now wants boob job on NHS

A woman who had £23,000 of weight-loss surgery on the NHS now wants a boob job funded by the taxpayer.

Beckie Lawton – who weighed 30 stone at her heaviest – had a £9,000 NHS gastric band op in 2012.

The mum of two, 44, shed 18 stone and then last month had tummy tuck surgery costing £14,000.

Now she is applying to the NHS for an operation to reshape her breasts as they have sagged since her dramatic weight loss. It would cost around £4,000 to have at a private hospital.

The supermarket warehouse worker, of Rugby, Warks, said: “I’ve lost the weight I wanted, but I need procedures to deal with the way my body has changed.

“I have worked since I was 15, paying tax and national insurance, so I have the right to have these operations.”

” Not much chance for her if she liked a fag and lived in Devon!!!”

Drug cuts cholesterol to level of a baby

A powerful new drug slashes “bad” cholesterol significantly, a study has found.

Alirocumab could be the most important drug to tackle bad cholesterol since statins were introduced.

It is being hailed as the latest weapon against heart attacks and stroke after a study found it all but eliminated dangerous blood fats in more than a third of people taking statins.

In people unable to take them, Alirocumab halved LDL, or bad cholesterol, reducing the risk of potentially fatal conditions.

A global study of more than 2,000 patients showed that more than a third of those given the drug saw their level of fats fall to a baby’s. “Alirocumab when used alongside a statin, will dramatically lower cholesterol,” said lead researcher Professor Kausik Ray.

“Around 40 per cent of people who took it saw their levels reduce to that of a newborn.”

The medication is dubbed the Pac-Man drug because, like in the video game, it “gobbles up” a protein and allows the body to get rid of bad cholesterol more effectively, Prof Ray said. It could eventually be taken as a self-administered injection.

A total of 2,338 patients who had suffered a heart attack, stroke or who were at high risk of raised cholesterol took part in the trial. Of those, 788 were given a placebo and 1,550 Alirocumab and a statin. Of the 1,550, 562 saw their level of bad cholesterol fall to less than a baby’s level within a year.

Prof Ray, of St George’s Hospital, south London, said: “It is the biggest reduction we’ve had since statins were first introduced.

“It’s really exciting to have a treatment that can lower LDL cholesterol in these high-risk groups. For these people that can’t lower their cholesterol but are at very high-risk, we’ve had really weak treatments and thought, what can we do?

“They’ve had a heart attack, a bypass, or they can’t tolerate this or that, and their cholesterol is still bad despite everything. So in these selected individuals we are going to get a therapeutic choice.”

Statins can reduce LDL cholesterol by up to 50 per cent and this drug can reduce it by a further 50 per cent. The drug was injected bi-monthly by participants during the trial.

Prof Ray said: “It is likely to reduce your risk of heart disease as it will lower LDL cholesterol, however, the risk isn’t going to be abolished. People are not going to be immortal.