Reassurances sought over Volkswagen-owned Bentley motors
UKIP MEP Louise Bours has asked for assurances from luxury car manufacturer Bentley that it is not embroiled in the emission test scandal engulfing its owner, Volkswagen.
Ms Bours, who represents the north west of England, has written to the Crewe-based company seeking confirmation that it has never falsified its engine emission data.
Her concern is the possibility of a knock-on effect to people working for marques owned by Volkswagen, which faces a multi-billion pound pay-out in recalls, fines and potential compensation claims by customers.
The company has already set aside £4.7 billion to cover the cost of recalling 500,000 cars in the United States alone.
In her letter to Martin Winterkorn, chief executive of the Volkswagen Group, and Wolfgang Dürheimer, chief executive of Bentley Motors, Ms Bours said:
“I am writing to you today to highlight my concerns regarding the future financial health of Volkswagen Group and Bentley Motors, in particular following the ongoing emissions scandal for which you have had to set aside €6.5 billion (£4.7bn).
“This has been referred to in the UK as the motor industry equivalent of the recent banking Libor scandal which resulted in a number of European and global banks being fined by financial regulators.
“As a Member of the European Parliament for the North West England Region, my constituency covers the Cheshire manufacturing town of Crewe where Bentley Motors is based.
“The assembly plant on Pyms Lane currently employs 3,600 people along with a potential further 300 new jobs recently announced as part of a £40 million expansion plan. There are also 82 suppliers to Bentley located within 50 miles of the Crewe factory.
“As you can see, Bentley Motors is a major employer in Crewe and the town has had a history with car manufacturing since the 1930s.
“I am therefore seeking confirmation from you today that Volkswagen Group remains fully committed to Bentley Motors and that its current operations in Crewe, as well as the aforementioned expansion plans, remain unaffected.”
News that the NHS spent nearly £1 billion on cancer drugs rejected by a health watchdog without any clue whether they helped patients or not has been greeted with “dismay” by Ukip health spokesman Louise Bours.
The Guardian reported on Thursday that the NHS has spent almost £1bn “giving 74,000 cancer patients drugs rejected by the medicines regulator but does not know if they have extended their lives”, according to a report by the National Audit Office.
In the report released on Thursday, the NAO criticiseed the NHS and Department of Health’s failure to collect data on the outcomes experienced by patients helped by the Cancer Drugs Fund as a major weakness.
Meg Hillier, the Labour MP who chairs the public accounts committee, said the NHS and the Department of Health’s failure to ensure data collation “makes no sense” and made it impossible to judge if the scheme had succeeded in extending patients’ survival.
The budgets of other NHS services have also suffered as a result of spending sums as large as £416m a year on the fund, the public spending watchdog found.
Ms Bours, MEP for the North West, said: “No one would ever want to deny a cancer patient the very best treatment that is affordable and available, but surely the NHS should know if the drugs work or not?
“We’re not talking relatively small sums here either – it amounts to at least almost a billion pounds over two years and no doubt more beyond that.
“We constantly hear about the pressures on NHS finances yet a startling figure like this one suddenly appears out of the blue.
“Giving drugs to patients and then not gathering the data to see how effective they’ve been seems crazy to me, especially considering the constant need for the NHS to keep tight hold of the purse strings.”
Note to editors
Further info: Oliver Adam 07788 55 8041
News that three temporary NHS chiefs were paid salaries between £210,000 and £305,000 last year by a deeply-indebted hospital has been criticised by Ukip health spokesman Louise Bours.
Colchester Hospital University NHS foundation trust in Essex was criticised last week by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over staffing levels, poor hand hygiene and poor record keeping including for “do not resuscitate” forms.
The hospital also reported a £22.3m deficit last year, yet is paying interim chief executive Lucy Moore up to £290,000 a year, a salary she will remain on until leaving her post in December 2015.
Interim chief operating officer Evelyn Barker was paid up to £305,000 before leaving in December 2014, and human resources director Lynn Lane £154,000 for six months between May and October last year before the role became permanent and the salary raised to £210,000.
The hospital has defended the salaries saying they were the going rate and in line with national guidance.
Ms Bours, Ukip MEP for the North West, said: “This is a scandalous amount of money being diverted away from actual health care and instead into the pockets of what are effectively administrators.
“Colchester Hospital has been criticised over staffing levels has a £22.3m deficit, but nearly £800,000 a year has been spent the salaries of just three people, none of whom works on a ward.
“An entry level student nurse starts on a little more than £21,000, so that could have paid towards 35 more nurses to provide care for patients.
“I’m sick and tired of hearing about the ‘going rate’ and ‘national guidance’ – who on earth decides these ‘going rates’? Because whoever it is need their heads examining.
“It is no good for the NHS to complain about needing money when vast amounts of its budget go on sky high wages for non-clinical staff.
“If we are to keep the NHS free at the point of access we urgently need to look at the ridiculous sums of money being diverted away from patient care.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Controlling immigration will not harm the NHS, says Ukip health spokesman Louise Bours.
The MEP for the North West was speaking as the Home Office confirmed that since April this year, 600 out of 1,400 Tier 2 certificates of sponsorship issued for overseas nurses have been returned unused.
Ms Bours said: “Saying the NHS would collapse without uncontrolled immigration is a complete fallacy.
“The fact that almost half of the Tier 2 placements offered since April have been returned unused speaks volumes.
“The real problem with nursing levels in the UK is the hoops we expect them to leap through in order to get the job in the first place.
“Since Blair, nurses are expected to have a degree, and those leaving school without A-levels are forced to complete an access course before they can apply for a University place.
“That means we have people learning how to write essays and pass exams rather than how to care for patients.
“We also simply do not do enough to encourage and fund training for nurses who have taken career breaks, to have children for instance.
“I believe that nursing begins and ends on the ward and want to see the return of the State Enrolled Nurse, putting care and compassion at the heart of nursing.”
NOTE TO EDITORS
NHS warns nurse immigration rules ‘harm patient safety’
EU free movement rules enabling human trafficking – Louise Bours MEP
• European Parliament, Strasbourg, 10 September 2015
• Louise BOURS MEP (North West), UK Independence Party (UKIP), Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group – #LouiseBours
• Debate: The gender dimension of trafficking in human beings
– Oral question – [2015/2744(RSP)]
Iratxe García Pérez, Catherine Bearder (O-000079/2015 – B8-0568/2015)
Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
The underfunding of countryside Doctors shows David Cameron must think everyone that lives in a rural area must be as rich as him and be able to afford private healthcare – according to UKIP’s Health Spokesman.
The claim comes as doctors working in rural areas have complained that the funding system for GPs favours town and cities over those that live more out in the sticks.
UKIP’s Health spokesman, Louise Bours MEP said: “The situation for doctors in the countryside is getting beyond desperate.
“Funding does not take account of the fact that although they may not have as many patients, the distance they have to travel and the care the duties they have to undertake are far greater than their city based counterparts.
“In a city practice for example, if one doctor is off there are many others that can share the workload, in the countryside there are often surgeries that only have two doctors, where the extra workload is impossible to take on.
“Rural GPs also have to occasionally work in the emergency department of the local hospital, to provide vital cover, again something that doesn’t apply to doctors in urban areas.”
Rural practises are finding it difficult to recruit the younger generation of GPs to their surgeries, with one practice reporting it has been forced to use locums and temporary doctors for over two years.
Dr Peter Holden told the BBC that many rural practices across the UK are ‘only one retirement away from collapse’.
Ms Bours added: “It seems that David Cameron thinks everyone that lives in the countryside is as rich as him and can afford private health care.
“Well I hate to break it to him, but they can’t, they need the NHS as much as any city resident.
“Rural practises are less resilient and need more help from the government, not less help, as under the current system.
“It’s an urgent problem that needs addressing right now.”
Follow Louise Bours MEP on twitter: https://twitter.com/LouiseBoursUKIP/
Personal health budgets may be allowing health professionals to ‘wash their hands’ of long term patients – according to UKIP’s Health Spokesman.
The concern comes following news that ‘personal health budgets’ given to people with long term health problems are being spent on ‘treats’ including holidays, clothes and computer games.
Louise Bours MEP, UKIP’s spokesman for health said: “In theory personal health budgets sound like a good idea, those with long term needs can choose their own care worker or home help to employ, but there clearly isn’t enough monitoring when patients are able to spend the money on things that don’t improve their health.
“It would appear that they have just been given the money and sent packing, and if their health deteriorates the trust can say it is the individual’s fault for spending the money inappropriately.”
The British Medical Association have also voiced concerns about the multi-million pound scheme and ‘the inappropriate use of scarce NHS money on non-evidence based therapies’.
Ms Bours added: “The government often use the excuse that a drug hasn’t been thoroughly proven to work when they refuse to licence it for use in the NHS, yet they are perfectly happy to send patients away with a stack of cash to spend on art classes, building a Summer house and hiring pedalos.
“I don’t recall seeing those being the subject of any clinical trials.
“The health trusts should do their job, look after people and make sure the resources are being spent in the most beneficial way possible, not just give sick people a wad of cash and wash their hands of them.”
Follow Louise on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LouiseBoursUKIP