Thursday, 31 May 2018

Red light means Stop!

Sometimes, it’s difficult to believe just how stupid or malign some people can be.
Over the last 10 years, there have been more than 14,000 reported incidents of someone directing a laser light at aircraft pilots in the UK. The only good news is that the number of aircraft incidents reported last year (989) to the Civil Aviation Authority was nearly 50% lower than the peak number in 2011.
Research shows that most attacks took place during take-off and landing, or against hovering police helicopters, and are carried out using cheap, high-powered handheld devices that are readily available on the internet. The attacks can distract pilots and flight crew, obscure instruments and dials, and cause short-lived ‘flash’ blindness or even permanent eye damage. The potential for catastrophic accidents with significant loss of life, as well as life-changing effects on individuals are obvious.
And the problems are not just in the skies. There are too many reports of laser lights being pointed at the drivers of trains and of vehicles on our roads.
Although It has been clear for some time that the police do not have the powers to effectively tackle and investigate the inappropriate use of laser devices, there have been a number of false starts for legislative change. However, last December, the government published a Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill.
As you might imagine, there are some tricky lines to be drawn between civil liberties and criminal action, between activities which may be described as ‘not unreasonable’ and behaviours which are reckless or malign. Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong, but defining that clearly in law is not always easy. Unsurprisingly, there have been some robust debates on where those lines are to be drawn and on the definitions of various words and phrases such as actions ‘likely to dazzle or distract’.
Following amendments in the House of Lords, the Bill It makes it clear that the offence can be committed against any ‘vehicle’, which “would apply to all forms of vehicles, including aircraft, road vehicles, trains, trams, ships, hovercrafts, invalid carriages, and cycles”…and even horse-drawn vehicles.
If found guilty, on summary conviction, you can be sent to prison for up to a year. If found guilty in the Crown Court, you could be sent down for up to five years. The Act comes into effect on July 10th.
Let’s hope that we see much less stupidity and malign behaviour in the future.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Our NHS safe in Conservative hands?

Draw your own conclusions from the latest government statistics.
Accident and Emergency (A&E):
  • Last year 2.5 million people waited over four hours in A&E, up from 350,000 in 2009/10.
  • Just 76.4% of patients at major A&E departments were treated within the 4 hour target in March - well below the 95% standard. This was the worst performance since records began.
Trolley waits:
  • 613,957 people waited over 4 hours on trolleys in 2017/18, up from 61,696 in 2009/10.
  • 3440 people waited over 12 hours on trolleys in 2017/18, up from 123 in 2011/12.
  • 353 patients waited over 12 hours on trolleys in April 2018 and 48,002 patients waited over 4 hours on trolleys, the worst figures ever for the month of April.
  • Ambulance crews in England had to look after 186,000 patients, either in the back of their vehicle or in a hospital corridor, for more than least 30 minutes (Nov 2017 – March 2018)
  • Nearly 600,000 ambulance arrivals had delays of more than 15 minutes in handing a patient over to hospital A&E staff (Jan-March 2018), when no handover should take this long.
18 week waits
  • Waiting lists are now more than 4 million, up from 2.5million in 2010.
  • Cancellation of elective operations has seen waiting lists rise by 5% since last year.
  • More than 2000 patients had waited more than one year for treatment (Feb 2108).
  • 454,342 patients were waiting longer than 18 weeks for elective treatment (Feb 2018).
  • The 18 week target for planned treatment has now not been met in two years.
  • 26,693 people waited over 62 days for cancer treatment in 2017, twice the rate in 2010 when the total was 13,354
  • One patient waited 541 days for treatment following a GP referral against a target of 62 days.
  • Two-thirds of NHS trusts had at least one patient waiting over six months and 69% had longer waits than in 2010.
Hospital alerts
  • The number of hospitals operating at the highest emergency alert level has nearly doubled in the last year.
  • More than half of NHS Acute Trusts in England declared emergency measures - an Operational Pressures Escalation Level 4 (OPEL 4), equivalent to the old 'black alerts' - on at least one day (Dec 2017 - March 2018).