News round-up: Cannabis dealers prey on hospitals

Cannabis dealers prey on hospitals

Drug dealers are preying on patients in mental health units by pretending that they are friends and selling them cannabis, a government health chief revealed last night.

Louis Appleby, national director for mental health at the Department of Health, told The Times it was “well known” that dealers found their way into mental health units and exploited patients who were seriously ill. Some hospitals have brought in sniffer dog patrols to scare dealers off but staff say that they have no rights to stop patients and friends coming in or out, or to search anyone who may be carrying drugs.

Read more on this story in The Times today

Parents to be held responsible for underage binge drinkers

Parents of underage children found drinking should enter voluntary agreements with youth workers in an attempt to tackle their child’s use of alcohol, the home secretary is expected to say today.

Jacqui Smith will call for underage drinking to be added to the areas where a parenting contract can be used to help families facing difficulties with their children.

Read more on this story in The Times today

Housing homeless is a duty, say Flint opponents

A defiant Caroline Flint last night stood by her controversial plan to make new council tenants seek work as a condition of their tenancy, even though the proposal was greeted with widespread condemnation by housing experts.

The chief executive of Shelter, Adam Sampson, said Flint’s ideas would send Britain back to the Victorian era. “What is being proposed would destroy families and communities and add to the thousands who are already homeless

Read more on this story in The Guardian today

Cannabis is stronger but users smoke less

A more potent “skunk” form of cannabis now accounts for 70-80% of the British market for the drug, but many users are cutting down and only smoking enough to get high, the initial results of a Home Office study show.

A special meeting of the government’s expert committee on drugs, which is looking again at the legal status of cannabis, was told that the rise in the use of “homegrown skunk” – which accounted for 15% of the market in 2002 against 70% now – had been driven by the growth of “cannabis factories” run by organised crime gangs, who were often Vietnamese.

Read more on this story in The Guardian today

Parents risk raising ‘battery farm’ children

England risks raising a generation of “battery farmed” children, kept indoors because their parents fear for their safety, the schools minister has warned.

Parents are to be urged to let their children learn about risks, and schools told they can cut down on the paperwork required to take children on school trips as part of a plan to improve child safety, Kevin Brennan said yesterday.

Read more on this story in The Guardian today

Stockton success story

Ann Baxter is one of the new joint directors of children’s and adult services at Stockton-on-Tees. Although the brief is huge, she says, the job is perfectly do-able with the right team alongside you.

“I think we all got very hung up on structures at the start,” Baxter says. “But the fact is it doesn’t matter how you get the job done, just as long as you do it. The key is coordination and working together.”

Read more on this story in The Guardian today

Glaring gaps exist in autism services

It says a lot about the status, or lack of status, of people with autism that two-thirds of local authorities don’t know how many adults with autism there are in their area or how many adults with autism they actually support.

I Exist, a report by the National Autistic Society (NAS), calls on the government to fund a major study into the prevalence of autism so that health and social care providers can get a realistic handle on the extent of the problem and so plan and deliver appropriate services.

Read more on this story in The Guardian today

Could cutting older and disabled people’s benefits work

The review of the future of social care led by Sir Derek Wanless recommended integrating support for care costs from attendance allowance and disability living allowance (care component) into the care system, to improve targeting of resources. But what would be the effects of such a policy reform, and who would be affected?

It seems likely that most of the money would have to be spent on caring services, rather than contribute to the general extra cost of living. The resources would be targeted at disabled people who do not have a partner (or other live-in relative) to care for them, rather than paid without regard to family structure. The money would be at least partially means-tested, rather than paid solely on evidence of need.

Read more on this story in The Guardian today

Detained mental health patients may lose out

The Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC), which has a legal brief to protect people detained under the Mental Health Act, has become a powerful force within the NHS – using some 6,000 face-to-face visits to hospitals to highlight problems, but also providing advice, support and solutions from its team of commissioners and expert patients.

From next year, it will be subsumed within the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the new umbrella health and social care inspectorate. But there are worries that the MHAC’s expertise and autonomy will be weakened when it becomes what patients fear will be “a very small cog in a massive inspection machinery”.

Read more on this story in The Guardian today

‘Model immigrant’ to be deported

A “remarkable” immigrant, honoured this week by the Church of England for his contribution to British society, has lost his legal battle to stay in this country.

Damilola Ajagbonna, 19, whose academic record has won him places at Cambridge and Sheffield universities, said he was bitterly disappointed after the Court of Appeal yesterday turned down his final appeal for the right to live here.

Read more on this story in The Independent today

‘Suicide cult’ may have claimed new victim

A teenage bride-to-be has become the latest victim in a town beset by a raft of suicides among young people.

Angie Fuller, 18, was found by her boyfriend hanged at their home in Bridgend, South Wales, early on Monday morning.

Read more on this story in The Daily Telegraph today

Jail for the in-laws who turned a blind eye to arranged brind’s murder

The relatives of a teenage bride who turned a blind eye as she was beaten to death by her husband face up to 14 years in jail. Three women and one man were convicted under new domesetic violence laws for failing to step in and help Sabia Rani. She was attacked over a three-week period, suffering “catastrophic” injuries usually only seen in car crash victims.

Read more on this story in the Daily Mail today

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