Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Talking of losing it

"It is important not to downgrade our response based on the location of the crime, or the value of the goods". This is Superintendent Gary Thompson, of the Gloucestershire Constabulary, defending the expenditure of £20,000 – deploying a helicopter, two vans, three patrol cars and two dog units – on arresting two men who stole 47p of scrap from a council recycling centre.

And while the boys in blue were making fools of themselves in Gloucester, thieves in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire have been doing the job for the Strathclyde police, breaking in to a police station to steal radios and uniforms. Burglars targeted a police station in, in the early hours of Tuesday morning and made off with the items. A spokeswoman for said: "Inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances surrounding the break-in and to trace the person or people responsible".

Never let it be said though, that the police have run out of ideas, when it comes to wasting money. Just don't expect them to be able to do their jobs properly.

In a similar vein, we see five fire engines despatched to deal with a cat stuck on a roof, at an estimated cost of £1,500. This comes at a time when, to save money, fire brigades have decided not send appliances as a first response to automatic fire alarms. The crews – two of which came from 30 miles away - scrambled to comply with EU "working at height" regulations to ensure the health and safety of firefighters, but union leaders have branded the response "crazy and overkill".

Then, to complete the triumvirate, we have the report of a a woman suffered serious brain injuries and a heart attack after she was forced to wait two hours for an ambulance - which was sitting 100 yards away.

Dr Caren Paterson, 33, collapsed in her flat in Islington, North London, before her boyfriend made three frantic 999 calls pleading for an ambulance to arrive. Her brain was starved of oxygen and she suffered a cardiac arrest almost two hours after she first fell ill.

Paramedics were required to have a police escort, which was not available at the time, because the address had been categorised "high risk". But the it is now believed that the grading might have related to a different flat or was placed on the property several years before Dr Paterson, a medical researcher at King's College Hospital, had moved in.

Meanwhile, we are told that doctors from the EU are twice as likely to be struck off as those who trained in Britain. They stand a much higher chance of being disciplined by the General Medical Council over serious concerns that they are putting patients’ lives at risk. Doctors who qualified outside Europe are also more likely to be struck off or suspended.

The findings are further evidence that patient safety is being put in the hands of overseas doctors whose training is not up to scratch. But there are particular concerns over the standards of doctors from Europe, as EU law prevents them being tested on their competence or even ability to speak English as this would breach "freedom of movement" provisions of the treaties.

Interestingly, the work on this was done by researchers from King's College, London, the same unit that employed Dr Caren Paterson, and would possibly still do so, had she not ended up brain-damaged as a result of the "care" she received from the London Ambulance Service.

We now have, it seems, the emergency services being run and managed by people who you would not judge safe enough to be allowed out on the streets by themselves, under a regime that would not be considered safe enough to care for stray dogs.