Former trawlerman battling lung disease hits out at benefit bosses after being declared fit for work

From Eastern Daily Press: A Suffolk man has hit out at benefit bosses after being declared fit to work, despite battling COPD and severe back pain for nearly four decades.

David Macalpine, 62, moved to Lowestoft, Suffolk, from Coventry aged 17 to begin a fishing career as a trawlerman, but has not worked for more than 35 years after suffering a deformed disc in his back.

Yet the Department for Work and Pensions have declared him able to return to work.

Mr Macalpine said: “I am suffering with COPD and it is a long-term illness. The council recognise COPD as a disability but the DWP look at it differently which is just stupid.

“I have also been diagnosed with a muscular disorder because I have a deformed disc in my back since I was fishing and I have been told not to lift anything. I do push myself and just get on with it but I get severe back pain and shortness of breath and I am not fit to go back to work.

“I have got a sicknote from my doctor which lasts until the end of November. They are going against the doctors professional advice.”

[Read full article on Eastern Daily Press website…]

Ambulance crisis ‘led to 20 deaths in east of England over Christmas’

From The Guardian: Twenty people died while waiting too long for ambulances in the east of England after the ambulance service there failed to seek outside help during the busy period over Christmas, a Labour MP has said, citing a whistleblower.

Clive Lewis, the MP for Norwich South, used a point of order in the Commons to highlight what he said was an “exceptionally serious issue” with the East of England ambulance service, highlighted by the whistleblower.

The ambulance service became critically overstretched from 19 December, and senior managers wanted to move into what is called Reap 4, the fourth stage of the resource escalation action plan, which involves seeking outside help, Lewis told MPs.

Because neighbouring ambulance services were also overstretched, the assistance would most likely have come from the armed forces, he said.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Essex woman dies after waiting nearly four hours for ambulance

From The Guardian: An 81-year-old woman was found dead in her house after waiting almost four hours for an ambulance.

The pensioner, who lived in Clacton, Essex, called 999 on Tuesday complaining of chest pains, according to the GMB union. East of England (EEAST) ambulance service said a crew arrived three hours and 45 minutes after the initial call.

Ambulance services, like hospitals, have struggled to cope in the midst of the NHS’s winter crisis. Last week, EEAST raised its operational level to the highest possible, an indication that its ability to respond to potentially life-threatening incidents had been affected. In some cases, it used taxis to transport patients to hospital.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Tory councillors award themselves 11% pay rise just hours after voting for cuts to children’s services

From Evolve Politics: Tory-led Norfolk County Council has come in for stinging criticism after councillors decided to award themselves an 11% pay rise just hours after voting through swingeing cuts to children’s services in the area.

Not only will Norfolk’s councillors see their allowances rise by over £1000 a year, the Tory councillors also decided to backdate their own pay rise from May, meaning they will each pocket an extra £400 on top.

The decision was made despite the fact that the council had argued Norfolk would need to make cuts of £125m to vital services over the next four years.

Councillors will see their already-generous allowances rise from £9,401 to £10,500. Council leader Cliff Jordan – who proposed the bill to increase pay – will see his allowance rise from £27,495 to £31,700, increasing his total allowance by £102 a week.

[Read full article on Evolve Politics website…]

NHS considers launching Airbnb scheme to cope with bed shortages

From the Guardian: Patients recovering from surgery could be discharged from hospital to recuperate in private houses nearby as part of an NHS trial.

The scheme, which is being piloted in Essex, aims to tackle bed shortages and save money but has been criticised by medical professionals and social workers who warn it would give too much responsibility to untrained members of the public. Read more

Disabled man worried by benefit cuts killed himself by setting himself on fire

From Daily Mirror: A disabled man committed suicide in front of horrified shoppers in a town centre by setting himself on fire, after fearing that he faced a cut in his benefits, an inquest heard.

[Read full article on Daily Mirror website…]