A PROPOSAL to open up a debt-ridden NHS hospital’s radiotherapy unit to dogs and cats suffering from cancer came under fire from a Health Service Union and the Conservatives’ health spokesman.
The suggestion that a pets’ clinic could be set up on Saturday mornings to exploit the earning potential of unused equipment came from staff asked to propose ideas to deal with £24m debts at Ipswich hospital in Suffolk. Managers estimated that treatment for pets could earn up to £50,000, enough for two nurses’ salaries. The suggestion has been welcomed as ‘an excellent idea’ by the RSPCA.
‘More than 700 ideas were generated by staff to find ways of increasing the money that we have or to find better ways of saving money,’ said the hospital spokeswoman, Jane Rowsell. ‘No patient will be disadvantaged by this.’
‘Our radiotherapy staff have a special interest in this field and wanted to explore whether the equipment could be used in this way on a Saturday morning, when nobody is using it. I am told that radiotherapy has proved to be very effective in treating dogs and cats with cancer.’
She said the hospital would control the possibility of infection by using anti-allergy drapes and by thorough cleaning. ‘The important thing to stress is that this is only a proposal,’ she said.
But a spokeswoman for Unison, which represents many hospital workers, said yesterday that hospitals should stick to treating sick humans.
‘There must be other places where people are waiting for treatment or treatment could be speeded up,’ she said. ‘That would be a much better, proper use of the facilities, and £50,000 is neither here or there in terms of debt. Why not use the hospital for humans as it is intended - not for dogs and cats?’ The hospital expects to make £50,000 a year – enough for two nurses – from weekend treatment for cats and dogs suffering from cancer.
The Conservatives’ Shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, also condemned the plan. ‘These are the lengths the NHS is being driven to by the government’s financial mismanagement and the way deficits are impacting on hospitals. One would normally expect NHS equipment to be fully occupied providing services to NHS patients.’
Katherine Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Patients’ Association, said she was horrified by the suggestion. ‘Do we really have to resign ourselves to such desperate measures as to begin treating animals where people are treated?’ she said. ‘Is this really the way forward? I hope this idea never gets off the ground. I think it is a disaster waiting to happen.
‘Surely there are other ways of identifying areas where costs could be reduced? Let’s keep hospitals for humans.’
Howard Catton, the head of policy at the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘It is deeply concerning that a hospital is suggesting very sick animals should be introduced into a clinical human environment.
‘There are going to be serious hygiene issues as well as issues of principle. It looks like desperate measures if you are putting pets before people.’
But David McDowell, the RSPCA’s acting chief veterinary adviser, disagreed. ‘[This] is an excellent idea as long as the strictest hygiene measures are applied to safeguard the health of other users and to avoid any problems such as any allergic reactions,’ he said.
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Yob who fed cat to dog faces jail
A CRUEL teenage yob who fed a neighbour’s pet cat to a dog has been warned that he faces a custodial jail sentence. The pet was ripped to pieces in a sickening attack in Marsh, Huddersfield in March this year.
Callum Myers, 18, was told by magistrates in Huddersfield he faced jail for what was described as an ‘horrific’ act of animal cruelty. The attack was captured on CCTV.
Myers of Southgate, Huddersfield, had pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a domestic cat on March 15 at the rear of Clifton Road, Marsh.
The RSPCA later described the incident as an ‘horrific and deliberate act.’
The cat named Tigger was a former stray, rescued by Andy Pogson, 31, and Sarah Coulthard, 26, who had cared for him for a year.
Andy, 31, said: ‘It’s beyond comprehension what this man did. Tigger was so friendly.’
Tanya Forret, prosecuting, described the offence as a ‘particularly nasty set of circumstances’.
She said Myers picked the cat off a fence and lowered it to his Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Gypsy.
The incident was captured on CCTV cameras owned by local resident Graeme Marsh and was featured in a local newspaper. Myers is clearly shown grinning after the attack.
Miss Forret said Mr Marsh came out of his home and tried to get the dog off the cat with a stick. She said: ‘The defendant squared up to Mr Marsh, abusing him.
‘Mr Marsh picked up the cat, which had died by this point, and took it into his back yard and put it in the bin. He’s still very traumatised by what happened.’
The court heard that Myers – who was out of jail on licence for robbery – had earlier encouraged Gypsy to attack a puppy.
Speaking about interviews the RSPCA held with Myers she said: ‘The defendant did not show any general remorse for what happened whatsoever.’
But Andrew Sudden, defending Myers, disputed this.
‘It’s not right to say he didn’t show any remorse. He said he was very sorry for the girl whose cat it was. Mr Myers does show remorse. He was upset when police interviewed him on the first occasion.
‘He didn’t know what had happened to his own dog.’
The court heard that Gyspy was later put down.
Mr Sugden went on: ‘He had had the dog for about six weeks. A friend of his had not been able to look after it properly, so Mr Myers took it upon himself to look after the dog.’
Mr Sugden denied that Myers had deliberately fed the cat to the dog. He said his client had claimed that he held the cat to his chest in a bid to protect it.
‘He’s pleaded guilty to this particular charge, failing to prevent the cat from injury. He accepts he was less pro-active than he should have been.’
Mr Sugden added that Myers was bidding to make a ‘fresh start’.
Court chairman Stuart Blakey said: ‘You have pleaded guilty to this charge and we are satisfied that you did cause extreme suffering to a cat which led to it death.
‘We consider this so serious that we are thinking of a custodial sentence.’
The case was adjourned until November 21, when sentencing will take place.
Speaking outside the court after the case Susie Micallef, an RSPCA inspector, said: ‘It’s one of the most horrific incidents I’ve ever seen. t was a deliberate act of cruelty which horrified everyone whose heard about it.
‘It was a deliberate act. It wasn’t an accident and he didn’t do anything to stop it. He deliberately decided to go out and hurt an animal. It is not the actions of a normal person.’
Speaking about how seriously the magistrates were taking the matter Ms Micallef said: ‘I was very happy with the attitude of the magistrates.’
The man who captured Myers feeding Tigger to his dog on CCTV still can’t understand why the teenager did it.
Speaking about Myers’ guilty plea, Graeme Marsh said: ‘It doesn’t give me any satisfaction to be quite truthful. I don’t know the guy, I don’t want to know the guy, but whatever the reason he did it, he’s got to answer for it.
‘I still can’t understand why someone would do such a thing.’
Mr Marsh says the horrific sounds of the attack have stayed with him.
At the time he said: ‘I heard a sort of banging noise against my gate. just thought it was kids messing about but the noise kept going on. I went out to see what was happening while I was still on the phone.
‘The dog had actually got hold of the cat by the throat and was ragging it around. hen I realised what the noise was - it was the sound of the cat being savaged by the dog and the cat hitting the gate.
‘I was just so shocked - it took a couple of seconds to realise what was going on.’
Myers, who was with two friends, then left the scene leaving Mr Marsh with the stricken cat.
He added: ‘Even now I’m lost for words at what he did.’
129,387 tell PM to ban firework sales
A PETITION bearing 129,387 names all calling for a ban on the retail sale of fireworks was delivered to No.10 Downing Street on November 1st.
Long-time Fireworks control campaigner Teresa Kulkarni made her own and the voices of thousands of supporters heard on the steps of 10 Downing Street, flanked by MPs in sympathy with her aims.
Theresa Kulkarni hands the petition in to No. 10 Downing Street, accompanied by North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski and Kettering MP Philip Hollobone.
Pet shop owner Kulkarni from Kings Lynn, Norfolk has been fighting against the indiscriminate sale and use of fireworks for several years, due to their impact on animals and people. She has raised petitions in the past, as reported many times previously by OUR CATS.
She hauled the petition in suitcases to the Prime Minister’s residence calling for fireworks to be restricted to licensed displays on a few specified dates to protect animals and the elderly from endless disruption caused by fireworks and the actions of mindless yobs who cause terror with the misuse of fireworks.
Kulkarni, 40, who owns a pet shop in Gaywood, Kings Lynn, Norfolk said: ‘I am just hoping the Government has got the guts to do what is necessary. This isn’t the first petition they’ve had, nor are they unaware of the strength of feeling against fireworks.’
‘Misuse and abuse of fireworks, apart from being very dangerous and life-threatening, is stopping our police and fire brigade from dealing with real emergencies. This is also costing the tax payer a lot of money.’
She said tightening of firework laws in 2003 did little to help – still allowing fireworks to be set off 16 hours a day, 365 days of the year. She also wants to see permitted firework noise levels brought down, and she questions why powerful category three fireworks are still available to the public to buy.
The petition calls for the Government to amend the existing Fireworks laws to:
• Restrict fireworks to licensed organised displays only at certain times of year
• To include Garden Fireworks in the restricted category
• To reduce the decibel limit to a maximum of 85db for all fireworks including display fireworks
• To make it illegal to use or possess fireworks without a valid
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, together with Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski and Kettering MP Philip Hollobone handed the petition over with Kulkarni last Wednesday.
Mr Bellingham also handed a copy of the petition direct to the House of Commons and secured a half-hour end-of-business debate on the issue which took place Monday evening.
He said: ‘I am definitely not one of those nanny state killjoys who want to stop legitimate fun. However I am in favour of restricting normal fireworks to ten days either side of November 5.’
Mr Bellingham believes other fireworks should be allowed, but only with a licence.
Theresa Kulkarni added: ‘This will be the first time our petition has been formally brought before the House. Therefore it is vital that as many people as possible write personally to their local MP telling them how fireworks are affecting you and your family, friends and animals so that the debate is not wasted. In doing so, you will also add support to the petition.
‘Previously we presented a petition of 92,835 signatures to 10 Downing Street calling for the total ban of sales to the public of fireworks. We asked that they be limited to licensed displays only. In that time much has happened but sadly none of it very good. As usual the Government has ignored the public and sided with the fireworks industry.
‘Many thanks to everyone who has helped and signed this latest petition. Thanks also to Mr Bellingham for his personal support in bringing this matter before Parliament. If you have not already written to your MP, I really would urge you to do so, for the sake of your pets, if nothing else.’
Theresa Kulkarni may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter at 1, Methuen Avenue, Gaywood, King’s Lynn, Norfolk. PE30 4BN.
Write to your MP: Do it personally and if possible by hand. MPs tend to disregard type written material as they are often bombarded by lobbying mail from various pressure groups.
Handwritten letters tend to be more effective in getting through. If you are lucky enough to have an MP who does regular local surgeries get an appointment and talk to them personally.