£2k a day for trainee doctors as costs spiral out of control
Trainee doctors are being paid more than £2,000 a day for locum shifts in NHS hospitals as the bill for agency staff spirals out of control, a Telegraph investigation has found.
Ministers warned NHS managers to “get a grip” on the problem, saying that some hospitals were now relying on unacceptably high levels of temporary staff. In some cases doctors were being paid rates of £15,000 a week – the equivalent to a doctor earning an annual salary of more than £700,000.
Senior managers at hospitals spending more than £2,000 a day on medical staff admitted that costs were “spiralling out of control” and sums paid had become “ridiculous”. Our investigation discloses how hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent paying doctors via agencies, which take a cut of the payments. Read more
Laura Donnelly | The Telegraph | 8th April 2013
The secret cost of injustice
SCOTLAND’S new single police force is under pressure to publish hidden payments to victims of wrongful arrest after MSPs demanded action. They urged the new body to come clean about the public money being paid out in response to complaints of police errors, by regularly publishing all future compensation payouts.
The Sunday Herald has had to use Freedom of Information legislation to establish that £70,000 was paid by police in 34 successful claims of wrongful arrest between 2008 and 2012. These payments are never normally disclosed and crucial details of the cases remain secret.
Margo Macdonald, Independent MSP for Lothians, said: “It would be an excellent statement of intention and a defining statement as regards the attitude of the new single force if it said it would consider regularly publishing all compensation payments.
“The important thing is it is open and accessible to the general public. That way we’ll see how much money is involved, what sort of wrongful arrest it was and what sort of misdemeanours were committed.” Read more
Ben Riley-Smith | Herald Scotland | 7th April 2013
Tobacco firm to challenge plain cigarette pack plan
THE tobacco giant JTI is preparing to challenge the Scottish Government’s plain cigarette packets plans in an advertising campaign next week. It will reveal correspondence, obtained through Freedom of Information, from the Department of Health in which officials state there is no hard evidence to suggest the change will cut smoking levels.
SNP health minister Michael Matheson announced last week that Scotland would be the first part of the UK to introduce plain packaging and insisted this was based on “available evidence”. Scottish Government officials say the Public Health Research Consortium has found the plans will reduce attractiveness and stop youngsters taking up the habit.
The FOI correspondence, which has been seen by The Scotsman but cannot yet be published, will be part of an advertising campaign and dates from 2011. Read more
The Scotsman | 5th April 2013
NHS hospitals in bid to treat far more private patients
Hospitals are seeking a radical increase in revenue from the treatment of private patients as their budgets come under pressure from the needs of an ageing population, according to new figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Great Ormond Street children’s hospital has budgeted for an extra £11m from treating private patients in the financial year ending in 2013 compared with 2010 – a 34% increase. The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is also expecting to boost revenues by £9m over the same period – a 42% rise.
The Royal Marsden is expecting an extra 28% increase on 2010 revenues, equating to about £12.7m. Across all trusts an 8% increase in revenues from private patients is expected to be posted for 2012-13 compared with 2010-11. Read more
Daniel Boffey | The Observer | 6th April 2013
Huge payout bill for classroom accidents: Schools pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds to injured pupils
Schools are paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation to pupils involved in classroom accidents, figures show. Families in Lancashire have been awarded almost £800,000 over the past five years after they sued over falls, slips, fingers trapped in doors and other mishaps.
Campaigners have hit out at this growing compensation culture, warning the spiralling council payouts mean less money is spent on education. The figures come a month after it emerged that compensation for teachers injured at work broke through the £30million barrier for the first time in 2012.
A request under the Freedom of Information Act revealed there were 100 successful claims for injuries sustained by pupils on Lancashire school property between 2006-7 and 2011-12. The resulting payouts added up to £783,831. Read more
Sarah Harris | Daily Mail | 6th April 2013
Murderers, rapists and paedophiles among 400 wanted criminals on run in the UK for more than five years
More than 400 wanted criminals, including murderers, paedophiles and rapists, have been at large in Britain for more than five years. The dangerous offenders should have been returned to prison after committing fresh crimes or breaking the rules of their early release.
But they have evaded the police and are instead walking the streets. Critics said the criminals posed a ‘tremendous risk’ to the public. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that 413 offenders ‘unlawfully at large’ at the end of last year had been wanted for more than five years. Read more
Jack Doyle | Daily Mail | 7th April 2013
£1.2m Midlands police bill for informants
West Mercia Police spent £127,018, according to figures released through the Freedom of Information Act. In Staffordshire, police spent £305,260 and in the West Midlands £850,976, creating a combined bill of £1,283,254.
Senior police officers today defended the bill, saying informants are sometimes the only means to crack down on serious organised crime and terrorism. They say there are strict controls, laid out in law, on payments to such sources.
Sarah Buxton, spokeswoman for West Mercia Police, said: “Informants play a vital part in bringing offenders to justice and are a valuable source of intelligence. “They often help to speed up an investigation, resulting in significant cost and time savings, which can then be passed on to the communities West Mercia Police serves.
Shropshire Star | 8th April 2013
Judges confirm Hart investigation; Daily News FOI request denied by county
Midland County has denied a Freedom of Information Act request from the Midland Daily News for a report of an investigation of Chief District Court Judge John H. Hart. While the report was not released, a statement from the Midland County judiciary gives more details about the case.
The Daily News was attempting to gain copies of a report composed in the summer of 2012 after allegations of sexual harassment against Hart surfaced. The Daily News mailed the Freedom of Information Act request on March 14 to Midland County Administrator/Controller Bridgette Gransden.
Friday, Smith contacted the paper to advise the request was being denied. “Your request is denied, for the reason that the information requested is not the record of a public body as defined in Sec. 15.232, because it is a record of the judiciary (MCL 15.232(v)) and in addition the document requested contains privileged information exempt from release pursuant to 15.243(1)(8) of the Freedom of Information Act,” the denial letter states.
An attempt to reach Hart for comment was unsuccessful. Read more
Kelly Dame | Midland Daily News | 7th April 2013
PAKISTAN: Freedom of Information law: Senate body orders Ministry to table the draft
Senate’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Friday issued directives to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to table the draft of Freedom of Information law before the committee within 15 days. The directive was issued during the committee meeting chaired by Kamil Ali Agha at the Parliament House while examining the proposed code of conduct of Pakistan Electronic Regulatory Authority (Pemra).
The committee was informed that the draft of the law had been finalised and presented to the former information minister for approval. The committee hoped the caretaker minister, being himself a journalist, will play his role for early enactment of freedom of information law. Chairman Pemra Chaudhry Rashid Ahmed presented the details of the draft prepared by Pemra and the code of conduct issued by Election Commission regarding election coverage. Read more
Business recorder | 6th April 2013
CANADA: Cattlemen unhappy with release of personal data
There’s no love lost between the Nebraska Cattlemen and the Environmental Protection Agency, and the state’s largest cattle organization spoke out again on Friday about its latest source of disenchantment with the federal watchdog agency.
The group is unhappy about an EPA decision to release what the Cattlemen describe as personal data about members — including specific locations of feedlots and names, addresses and phone numbers, to so-called activist organizations in response to a freedom of information request.
Kristen Hassebrook, director of natural resources and environmental affairs for the livestock group, said what the EPA provided amounts to “a one-stop shopping database” for organizations that might represent a security threat. Read more
Art Hovey | Columbus Telegram | 5th April 2013