NHS 1) Culture change needed to stop another Mid Staffs scandal warn MPs

telegraphstaffs“Millions of people are suffering in silence because they are met with “hostility, defensiveness and denial” by public officials, MPs claim. Britain will face another scandal like Mid Staffs, in which hundreds of patients died needlessly, unless there is a cultural “revolution”, the Public Administration select committee says in a report released today. MPs say public bodies are increasingly resorting to using “euphemistic” terms such as review, appeal and feedback to describe complaints, a practice that should be banned.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Committee chairman Bernard Jenkin said: “There needs to be a revolution in the way public services are run, and how the public perceives government. As things are, most people believe there is no point in complaining.” – BBC
  • “The report recommends that a Cabinet Office minister take charge of how complaints are dealt with across the government and there should be a single point of contact for citizens to raise concerns about public services.” – The Guardian

> Today: Columnist Charlotte Leslie MP: What we can and must do about the healthcare damaging Working Time Directive

NHS 2) New GP opening hours will benefit seven million patients

NHS“New opening hours for some GP surgeries in England will benefit more than seven million patients, far more than originally planned, David Cameron says. The prime minister announced the £50m GP Access Fund in October – and he now says a “great response” from surgeries means 1,147 will take part. He says surgeries will offer access to GPs outside normal hours and by methods including phone, email and Skype.” – BBC

  • “More than £400 million will be devoted to helping those elderly patients with the most complex (and expensive) conditions via personalised care plans, with GPs and others anticipating and preventing illnesses that might require a hospital visit. There will also be another £50 million to extend GPs’ opening hours. Taken as a whole, this plan is sensible, necessary and welcome. The only question, as the pressures on the NHS mount, is whether it will be anywhere near enough.” Leader Daily Telegraph

NHS 3) A third of babies born in UK has at least one parent from abroad

“ONE in three babies born in the UK now has at least one parent born abroad. And concerns are growing over the immense pressure being put on the NHS by rising immigration. According to the Office for National Statistics, in three London boroughs 80 PER CENT of babies have at least one foreign parent. One of the hospitals with the highest rates of non-UK births is the Homerton in Hackney, east London – and last week The Sun was granted exclusive access to its bustling maternity ward.” – The Sun(£)

Osborne says further tax cuts would boost growth

Osborne New Year speech“George Osborne will set out proposals today to allow Conservative governments to deliver tax cuts even while borrowing is at high levels. By highlighting the beneficial impact of tax cuts on growth, the chancellor will make clear that there may be more scope than has so far been indicated to reduce the burden of taxation early in the next Parliament. In a move that will be seen as broadening his appeal to the Tory Right, he will publish a Treasury analysis suggesting that cancelling planned rises in petrol duty would boost GDP by up to half of 1 per cent over 20 years — almost £7.5 billion at today’s prices.” – The Times(£)

  • “The study, using a Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs model, supports the view of supply side economist who argue that over time lower taxes will produce higher revenue for the Exchequer.” – Daily Mail
  • Osborne’s growing confidence – Leader The Times(£)

Commons Watchdog to investigate “gay sex party” at Tory conference

“Claims a gay sex party at a Conservative Party conference was funded by the taxpayer are being investigated by the Commons expenses watchdog. The alleged incident at a luxury hotel was revealed in messages sent by a senior Tory official via a gay dating smartphone app.” – Daily Mail

Ukraine and Russia move closer to war

independentukraineblood“The killing outside the eastern town of Slovyansk and injuries to half a dozen others came in the first armed clash between troops and separatists as the administration in Kiev desperately tried to cling on to the eastern half of the country, after the bitter blow of losing Crimea to the Kremlin. In response, Ukraine’s acting President Olexander Turchinov gave rebels occupying state buildings until 7am today, UK time, to lay down their weapons.” – The Independent

  • “The United Nations Security Council has held an emergency session to discuss the escalating crisis in Ukraine, just hours before a deadline by Kiev for pro-Russian separatists to disarm by Monday morning or face a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation” by its armed forces. The Council began meeting at 8pm (0000 GMT on Monday) at Russia’s request after Moscow called Kiev’s plans to mobilise the army to put down a rebellion by pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine “criminal.” – Daily Telegraph

Davey says the EU “must do more” on climate change…

“The European Union must do more” to lead worldwide efforts to limit climate change, the UK government has said. Speaking after the UN urged moving from fossil fuels to renewable sources, Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said other countries must try to be as “ambitious” as the UK. It was possible to make such changes in a “cheap” way, he told the BBC.” – BBC

…as the IPCC says the answer is to get fracking

Shale Gas“Climate scientists have backed Britain’s shale gas revolution – saying it could help to slow  global warming. The world’s leading experts on climate change say fracking will cut greenhouse gas emissions and should be made central to the country’s energy production. It will help the UK move away from ‘dirty’ coal and contribute to saving the environment, according to a report by the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” – Daily Mail

Cyril Smith’s victims may sue Lib Dems

cyrilSmith_2398434b“Victims of Cyril Smith are threatening to sue the Liberal Democrats for covering up his decades of sickening sexual abuse. As MPs and child abuse charities call for a full inquiry into Smith’s paedophile activities over more than 40 years, six victims said that they would issue writs for damages if it could be shown the LibDems had known about Smith’s abuse but failed to try to stop him.” – Daily Mail

  • Clegg says he didn’t know – how can that be true? – Dominic Lawson Daily Mail
  • Smith family saddened by book – BBC

Renationalising the railways “would halt investment”

“Returning the railways to public ownership line by line could halt investment in trains and increase the deficit by more than £10 billion, according to industry experts and officials. Ed Miliband is preparing for “re-nationalisation-lite” of the railways. This would mean a state backed company being allowed to compete in franchise auctions alongside the likes of Virgin and Stagecoach.” – The Times(£)

National Trust says councils “hustled” over house building

Family shield“Councils are being “hustled” by the government to produce local plans quickly to meet housing targets, the head of the National Trust has said. Dame Helen Ghosh said “pressure” meant some English local authorities felt they had to allow greenfield building. The trust was monitoring the situation and “making appropriate representations to government about it”, she said.” – BBC

McTernan says Miliband should take pride in the Blair/Brown years

“The iconic action of Ed Miliband’s leadership was to remove the word “new”. Simply the Labour party once more. It worked in giving him a fresh start, but at a huge cost. What was meant to be a clean break has become a fire-break, preventing Mr Miliband from reaching back to claim any credit for 13 years of Labour government.” – John McTernan The Times(£)

Heath: Self employment is booming

Allister_Heath__Mail__bigger“Self-employment surged 17 per cent over the past five years and is still rising; while at first the increase was made up of people who preferred to work as consultants rather than being forced to sign on to  the dole, many of the more recent entrants appear happy with the choice. Self-employment jumped 6.8 per cent year on year in the last three months…In the past, recoveries in the labour market were driven by increased demand for workers; today, it is just as much a case of a better, more flexible and more entrepreneurial supply creating its own demand.” – Allister Heath City AM

  • Surge in self employment means job market instability says TUC – The Guardian

Sleaze claims will benefit UKIP says Harman

“Ukip will be the main beneficiary if parliament does not end the perception that MPs are “splashing about on expenses” and getting drunk in taxpayer-subsidised bars, Labour’s deputy leader has said. Harriet Harman said MPs must do more to stop seeming like they are “featherbedded” as this creates cynicism and antipathy towards politics among households struggling with bills.” – The Guardian

  • We used to be put witches in the ducking stool – now it’s MPs – Dan Hodges Daily Telegraph

Farage says Scotland in the EU would be “false independence”

FARAGE laughing“Scots should be offered a referendum on European Union membership if there is a Yes vote to leave the United Kingdom, Ukip leader Nigel Farage said last night. Claiming that Scotland would not be a truly independent nation unless it was out of the EU, Farage attacked Alex Salmond for failing to offer another referendum in the event of a Yes vote.” – The Scotsman

  • “The no campaign undoubtedly also needs to make a more positive case for the values, benefits and shared sympathies that unite the people of these islands. The more its campaign can articulate what we have in common, and how it can be at the heart of a better Britain, the better.” – Leader The Guardian

> Today:The Deep End: The ruling tribes of British politics – Day 1: UKIP and the SNP

News in brief

  • Misbehaviour in class worse than reported – The Times(£)
  • House prices hit new high – Daily Mail
  • Miliband plans restoration of gold plated pensions for councillors – Daily Mail
  • Assad says civil war in Syria is turning in his favour – The Guardian
  • Hollande’s approval rating falls to 18 per cent – The Times(£)
  • 93 per cent unable to name any of their local MEPs – The Sun(£)

And finally…Cameron returns to cafe society

“David Cameron put poor opinion polls and the resignation of Maria Miller behind him as he enjoyed a coffee with his wife at the start of their holiday in Lanzarote. The couple posed yesterday for pictures as they “chillaxed” among holidaymakers at a café in the popular resort of Teguise.” – The Times(£)