FOI Media Update April 2012

BBC in new sexism row after gender pay gap revealed 13.04.2012 – The Telegraph
A recent Freedom of Information request threatens to reignite controversy over the BBC’s treatment of female staff. Figures have been released revealing that male staff at the BBC are paid an average  10% more than women. The request issued information revealing that nearly twice as many men hold senior roles at the broadcaster as female employees and they earn an average £17,000 more.

Last year Miriam O’Reilly, the former Countryfile presenter, was awarded a six-figure sum after a tribunal found she was dropped from the show because of her age. Speaking of the new figures, she said: “It’s extraordinary but it doesn’t surprise me at all. I’m very disappointed that we are still having these types of conversations in 2012.

Statistics show 300 police involved in racist incidents 17.04.2012 – The Voice

A total of 749 police officers were referred to the IPCC between 1999 to 2012, but only five were fired and seven were forced to resign, according to Channel 4 News, who published the information following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request. Through the information disclosed one can  infer that a precedent has not been set within the force to illustrate that racist abuse is unacceptable.

The statistics brings fresh shame on the police force at this time when 20 officers are currently being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over allegations of racism.

The highest profile case is that of PC Alex MacFarlane who is to be charged with a racially abusing a detained 21-year-old following the riots.

Thousands of children lose legal aid in system reforms 17.04.2012 – BBC News

Child rights group JustRights has analysed government data obtained from a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests regarding the concequences of passing reforms to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which has returned to the Commons following a string of defeats in the Lords. Information released claims that 6,000 children, or 13% of those who receive help with legal-aid costs, will lose this right if the proposed reforms are passed.

The bill which removes whole areas of law from the legal-aid system as part of plans to reduce the Ministry of Justice’s budget by £350m and speed up the system has been regarded as highly controversial, particularly concerning women victims of domestic violence, disabled people’s benefits cases and children who will be affected primarily in cases of immigration, benefits, housing and other social-welfare.

JustRights co-chairman James Kenrick says the government’s claim that 96% of the budget for children’s cases will be unaffected by the change is misleading.

Musculoskeletal patients face ‘postcode lottery’ for NHS treatment 25.04.2012 – Health Insurance

According to the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance, musculoskeletal patients face major discrepancies in care caused by a thirteen-fold variation in spending existing between Primary Care Trusts. A report published by the body this week based on Freedom of Information data revealed that expenditure on treating musculoskeletal patients in 2009-10 ranged from £275 per patient per year in Peterborough, to £764 in Hartlepool.

ARMA said a significant number of PCTs reduced their spending between 2008-09 and 2009-10, with NHS Barnet spending 41% less per patient. However, Hammersmith and Fulham increased spending by 170% per patient. ARMA said that while some variation between PCTs is to be expected, this level of disparity is concerning as it cannot be justified by differences in health needs alone.

UK public sector accounts for bulk of data breach fines 25.04.2012 – BBC

The UK’s private sector accounted for more than a third of all reported data breaches over an 11 month period, however, according to data issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office following a Freedom of Information request by satellite system maker Viasat, these private sector breaches accounted for less than 1% of the resulting fines.

The Information Commisioner’s office told the BBC it would impose financial penalties whenever its criteria were met “regardless of the sector the organisation falls into” however the FoI release which covers self-reported personal data security breaches between 22 March 2011 and 17 February 2012 reveals the insincerity of this statement. The FoI release shows that during an 11 month period five fines totaling £790,000 were imposed on the public sector and one £1,000 penalty on a private firm.

Tullos Hill cull: 22 roe deer killed in Aberdeen  27.04.2012 – BBC News

More than 20 roe deer have been killed as part of a controversial cull in Aberdeen which Aberdeen City Council maintains was carried out in order to protect some 80,000 new trees which were being planted and would have been threatened by the deer in the area.

A freedom of information request by BBC Scotland revealed 22 roe deer had been killed, an action which the charity Animal Concern said could not be justified. Before the cull there were estimated to be about 30 deer on the hill, and the local authority had a statutory requirement to manage them. John Robins of Animal Concern, told BBC Scotland: “Aberdeen City Council has not carried out a cull, they have carried out a massacre.”

Royal College of Nursing challenges nursing cuts in London trusts 27.04.2012 – Royal College of Nursing magazine

Figures released by NHS London suggests that some trusts could lose almost a third of their nursing staff in order to cut costs and prepare for foundation status. While the NHS London  proposes that these cuts could be made without affecting patient care, regional Director of RCN London, Bernell Bussue said that the reductions listed in the NHS London document, obtained through a Freedom of Information request by Nursing Times, are simply out of touch with patients’ needs in London hospitals. Through its ‘Frontline First’ campaign, the RCN has already highlighted the worryingly low numbers of nursing staff on hospital wards which is not only threatening the quality of care for patients but is also putting remaining nurses under enormous pressure.

NHS patients are being sent home at night to ‘free up hospital beds’  30.04.2012 – The Telegraph

Almost 8,000 NHS patients a week are sent home from hospital in the middle of the night, a recent Freedom of Information request reveals. Official figures show that up to 400,000 patients were discharged from wards between 11pm and 6am throughout the country last year, and according to statistics some hospitals discharged nearly one in 10 patients late at night.

The practice is being used as an attempt to relieve pressure within the health service, it was told.  Hospital managers suggested the practice was occurring “under the radar” and admitted it was likely being used as a way of creating beds despite generally being not in a patient’s best interest. Deploring the practice further, campaigners have said that on many occasions it was “elderly and vulnerable” patients who were abruptly sent home to an empty house, sometimes without adequate planning.

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