A daily summary of social care stories from the main newspapers

By Clare Jerrom.

Mrs Shipman can’t remember 102 times

The wife of serial killer Harold Shipman insisted publicly for
the first time on Friday that her husband is innocent.

During almost three hours of questioning into 401 deaths among
the doctor’s patients, Primrose Shipman said more than 100
times that she could not remember crucial details of her life with
the former GP.

She told the inquiry that she did not believe her husband was
guilty of the murder of 15 older patients for which he was
convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment last year.

She added that she was working alongside her husband’s
solicitors to mount an appeal against his conviction.

Again and again she said her memory failed her about a
particular incident, or she only had vague memories of it.

The inquiry continues.

Source:- The Times Saturday 17 November page 3

Head of children’s courts is

The head of the new agency designed to look after children in
courts has been suspended amid administrative chaos.

Appointed by Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine, to deal with 60,000
court disputes a year involving children, Diane Shepherd was
expected back from sick leave last Monday, but was told not to
return to her duties.

The Children and Family Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass),
which deals with cases of child abuse, custody and removal into
care, confirmed that an investigation was being conducted into
Shepherd and it would then be decided if further action was

Inquiries are thought to focus on whether she approved the
extension of a management consultancy contract, and a pay off to a
senior executive without authorisation.

Source:- The Times Saturday 17 November page 5

Sarah’s hair ‘gave billion to one

The chance that Roy Whiting did not murder Sarah Payne was one
in a billion, a court was told on Friday.

A single hair found on Whiting’s sweatshirt matched
exactly the DNA profile of the eight-year-old child.

Scientists matched the DNA using a tooth she had placed under
her pillow.

Timothy Langdale QC for the prosecution told Lewes crown court
that an array of compelling scientific evidence linked
Sarah’s body to Whiting’s van and items found in it,
proving he abducted the child from where she had been playing with
her siblings in West Sussex.

Source:- The Times Saturday 17 November page 7

Widow, 93, wins fight for female helper

An older woman who faced losing her home help for refusing to
let a male carer wash her, has won her fight for a female

Una Penny, who lives in sheltered accommodation in
Gloucestershire, was told by South Gloucestershire council last
week that a man would be coming to bathe her because of a shortage
of female workers.

When Penny objected, her family was told the 93-year-old
woman’s needs would have to be reassessed including a
psychiatric test to see whether she had problems with men.

Her family claim they was told that refusal to accept a male
carer “would infringe his rights under the European charter”.

Following the publicity of the case, Penny has now been informed
that a female carer has been found.

Source:- Daily Telegraph Saturday 17 November page

Ministers advised to legalise cannabis

Many drug problems would be eliminated should the government
legalise cannabis, and sell it through a network of licensed cafes,
senior advisors on drugs will recommend this week.

Part of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of
Drugs, Drugscope, will release a report that will say Amsterdam
style cafes would cut deaths and reduce health problems associated
with drug use.

Drugscope’s experts believe the battle to stamp out
cannabis will never be won.

The report examines six options for future government policy
ranging from complete prohibition to giving the drug away free.

Source:- The Sunday Telegraph Sunday 18 November page

Waiting list fiddles ‘endanger

Patient’s lives are being put at risk by waiting lists
being massaged to conceal the crisis in the National Health
Service, according to a Commons report to be published this

The government will be accused by the Public Accounts Committee
of encouraging hospitals to distort clinical priorities to make
waiting lists appear shorter.

In some instances, patients with life threatening illnesses are
denied treatment to enable those with less serious, but easily
treatable illnesses to jump the queue, thus reducing waiting

The report will lay the blame at the feet of ministers who put
hospitals under “considerable pressure” to fulfil Labour’s
election pledge of reducing waiting lists by 100,000.

Source:- The Sunday Telegraph Sunday 18 November page

Ejected refugees get £2,000 flights

Pakistani asylum seekers who have been denied asylum to stay in
Britain, are being flown home on Business Class flights costing
£2,000 a time.

Standard flights costing £550 are usually taken up, but
after the terror attacks on America, British Airways suspended
flights to Pakistan, and Pakistan Airways reduced its service
resulting in a shortage of economy class seats.

At least a dozen failed asylum seekers have been upgraded to
business class at an additional cost of around £18,000.

The home office refused to confirm how many asylum seekers have
flown home on business class.

Source:- The Mail on Sunday Sunday 18 November page

Parents win right to shorter hours

Legal guidelines designed to improve family life will enable
parents of young children the right to ask to work shorter

The guidelines from the government’s work and
parent’s taskforce, will allow fathers legal protection for
the first time in trying to cut hours. The rights of young mothers
will also be strengthened, according to the report to go to the
industry secretary Patricia Hewitt this week.

Employers would still be able to refuse parents’ requests,
however if they could show sound commercial reasons why it would be
damaging to the business.

Source:- The Observer Sunday 18 November page 1

Crackdown unveiled on domestic violence

Social workers and charities are to be given greater powers to
seek restraining orders from men who beat their wives and

Under the new scheme, which have been prompted by ministers’
concerns that women are too frightened to take their complaints to
court, organisations such as local authorities would be able to
bring civil claims on behalf of victims of domestic violence.

Home office research shows that around 25 per cent of violent
crime is in the home, but only one in three attacks resulting in
injury is ever reported.

Source:- Independent Monday 19 November page 11

Children who have hobbies ‘do

Children who just “hang out” do not do as well at school as
youngsters who have hobbies or participate in sport, a study has

Ten year olds who attend dance or music lessons, engage in
sports, clubs or artistic activities are more likely to achieve
better grades at school, and are less likely to have adjustment

Children who spend their time “hanging out” are more likely to
display bad conduct or symptoms of depression, according to
psychologists from Penn State University in America.

Dr Susan McHale, who led the research which features in the
latest edition of ‘Child Development’, said: “Now that
there are so many opportunities for children and extra curricular
activities you could ask why aren’t more parents helping them
to get involved.”

Source:- The Independent Monday 19 November
page 9

Milburn urged to scrap law allowing

The government was urged to scrap the law allowing parents to
smack their children by a group of figures who believe it gives
parents licence to use violence against their children.

In a letter to health secretary Alan Milburn, 14 child safety
campaigners called for the law allowing smacking to be changed.

The letter, from people including former agony aunt Claire
Rayner and childcare author Dr Miriam Stoppard, said: “The law
should protect children from assault. We believe the majority of
parents would be prepared to give up their “right” to hit their
children to protect those who suffer in this way. It would not lead
to parents being prosecuted for trivial smacks.”

Source:- The Independent Monday 19 November
page 8

Social work lure

Social workers are being lured from other areas by councils, in
a bid to ease the national shortage.

Inducements include signing on fees of £1,000, annual
supplements of £2,000 and subsidised accommodation to leapfrog
national pay bands.

There are an estimated 2,000 posts vacant.

Source:-The Times Monday 19 November page 12

Scottish newspapers

Video tackles fears on psychiatric unit

Health officials in Glasgow have commissioned a £30,000
video to try and overcome four years of public hostility over a
psychiatric unit for mentally disturbed offenders in the city.

The video aims to show the impact of such establishments in
England and Edinburgh in a bid to dispel widespread safety fears
and find a site for an establishment in Glasgow. It will be
screened at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in

NHS Greater Glasgow originally wanted a 76-bed, £12.5
million medium secure unit at Stobhill hospital, but was met with
fierce objection from local people.

Last year, the board was forced to go back to rethink its

Many of the patients who would be relocated are currently at the
State Hospital at Carstairs or in psychiatric units in hospitals,
but health officials warn this level of care is unsuitable.

In the 15-minute production, residents will tell how they have
co-existed with similar units in Birmingham and Newcastle having
overcome initial fears.

Source:- The Herald Monday 19 November









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