Thursday 18 December 2003

By Amy Taylor, Clare Jerrom and Alex

Mental health ‘still the poor relation’
Staff shortages, unacceptable buildings and a lack of beds mean
that mental health services are still the ‘poor relation of the
National Health Service’, according to a new report.
The research, by the Commission for Health Improvement, found that
there was a national shortage of psychiatrists and nurses with
agency staff being used to fill the gap.
Other findings show that priority was being given to adult services
over those for children and older people.
Source:- The Financial Times Thursday 18 December page 4
Labour MPs attack move to put refugee children in

Labour MPs attacked David Blunkett’s plans to put children of
failed asylum seekers into care yesterday.
The opposition came from the Labour backbench during the second
reading of the Asylum and Immigration Bill.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has also levelled
criticism at the bill raising concerns that it could fail to
protect the most vulnerable asylum seekers by over focusing on
restrictive measures.
Source:- The Financial Times Thursday 18 December page 4
Biggest councils improve their ratings
The largest councils in England have improved their rating in the
comprehensive performance assessment, the Audit Commission
announced yesterday.
More county councils were rated as “good” or “excellent” than any
other group.
Councils will be put through a much tougher process when the
commission revises the way assessments are made for 2005.
Source:- The Financial Times Thursday 18 December page 6
No mercy. No regret
Blunders by Cambridgeshire and Humberside police forces allowed Ian
Huntley to slip through vetting checks when he was hired as a
school caretaker in Soham.
Huntley, who was given two life sentences yesterday for the murders
of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, has been accused of nine sexual
offences, including a string of rapes, an indecent assault on an
11-year-old child and unlawful sexual intercourse with four young
But none of these investigations ended in a successful prosecution
and details were not kept on file to be passed on when he applied
for the job or when he fell under suspicion when the girls
Home secretary David Blunkett has ordered an inquiry to establish
how Huntley came to be given the job.
Source:- The Times Thursday 18 December page 1
Police chiefs face sack over mix-up
A mix-up between Cambridgeshire and Humberside police forces over
Huntley’s name was central to the failure to use intelligence
about the sexual assault allegations against him.
Last night, the chief constables of both forces were fighting for
their jobs after the sequence of events that allowed Huntley to
slip through the net.
He was using the alias Ian Nixon at the time he applied for the
school caretaker’s job, but did not provide the name Huntley
to his prospective employers. For reasons which the two forces are
still unable to agree on, no checks were done on the name
Source:- The Daily Mail Thursday 18 December page 6.
Couple who adopted boy from Hell win their fight for

A couple whose lives were turned into a ‘living Hell’
by the uncontrollable boy they adopted, won a claim for damages
The court of appeal ruled that the 48-year-old man and his wife,
41, should be compensated by Essex Council for the upheaval and
depression they suffered after the boy and his sister were placed
in their care.
Judges heard that the boy turned the couple’s lives upside
down after he moved in. He was diagnosed with Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder and prescribed the drug Ritalin. At one
stage he threw an electric iron at his baby sister and threatened
to kill his adoptive father with a carving knife.
Appeal judges upheld the couple’s claim that the council had
been negligent in failing to inform them before the adoption about
the boy’s behavioural problems.
Source:- The Daily Mail Thursday 18 December page 39.
Scottish newspapers
NHS fears over children being prescribed

Fears that GPs are over prescribing anti-depressants to children
has urged the NHS to collect information on the number of
youngsters in Scotland being given the drugs.
Health campaigners believe there could be as many as 5,000 Scottish
children given controversial drugs such as Seroxat by their family
The move follows a report from the Committee on Safety of Medicines
last week, which claimed the majority of the most commonly
prescribed anti-depressants are unsuitable for children and can
lead to suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
Source:- The Herald Thursday 18 December
Old Firm ‘go easy’ message on

A unique television initiative, backed by a brewer and two of the
most powerful voices in Scottish culture, will address the
nation’s £1 billion binge-drinking crisis.
Carling, the brewer of beer, and the managers of the Old Firm have
collaborated on a series of commercials in a bid to encourage Scots
to moderate their drinking.
Source:- The Scotsman Thursday 18 December
6,000 more out of work
The number of people unemployed in Scotland rose by 6,000 to
148,000 in the last quarter, according to figures published
Unemployment across the UK fell by 7,900 to a 28-year low of
Annie McGuire, Scotland Office minister, said the new Scottish
total was still 16,000 lower than a year ago.
Source:- The Daily Record Thursday 18 December
Welsh newspapers
Prison bosses hit back at racism claims

Prison officials have defended a Welsh prison that was criticised
over incidents of racial discrimination.
A recent report from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE)
highlighted, a number of cases of racial harassment over a two-year
period at the privately run HMP Parc prison in Bridgend.
Roy Woolford of Securicor, the company that run the prison, said
that it was healthy and safe and that the company was committed to
maintaining good race relations among all prisoners and
Source:- South Wales Echo Wednesday 17 December page 3
Wales trailing other parts of Europe on child cancer
survival rates

Children in Wales who suffer from cancer are more likely to die
than their counterparts in other countries and the difference in
survival rates may be due to the health care they receive, said a
new report.
The report published by Euro-care-3 looks at survival rates across
20 European countries and lead authors, Dr Gemma Gatta said the
majority of child cancers are curable or at least respond well to
treatment, but that up-to-date treatment protocols are needed to
secure positive outcomes.
Source:- Western Mail Thursday 18 December page 7
Fears that children’s champion will have less power
than England’s

Concern is growing that a new children’s commissioner for
England is likely to have wider powers than the Welsh commissioner,
Peter Clarke.
In last month’s Queen’s speech, the UK government
committed itself to the appointment of a commissioner in England
and it is thought that the English advocate for children will be
granted powers currently denied to Peter Clarke.
Source:- Western Mail Thursday 18 December page 9

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