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UK & World

Pilot pleads not guilty over Shoreham Airshow manslaughter charges

May 15 2018

A pilot whose plane crashed during the 2015 Shoreham Airshow, killing 11 men, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.Andrew Hill, 54, faces trial on 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence and one of recklessly or negligently endangering an aircraft under air navigation laws.The defendant, who is on bail, pleaded not guilty to all the charges relating to the crash on August 22, 2015.He wore a grey suit and blue tie for his appearance at the Old Bailey before Judge Richard Marks QC.The judge set a trial for January 14 2019 and confirmed the case would be heard by a High Court judge.The trial is expected to go on for up to seven weeks.The victims were Maurice Rex Abrahams, Dylan Archer, Anthony David Brightwell, Matthew James Grimstone, Matthew Wesley Jones, James Graham Mallinson, Mark Alexander Reeves, Jacob Henry Schilt, Richard Jonathan Smith, Mark James Trussler and Daniele Gaetano Polito.Hill, of Sandon, Hertfordshire, is accused of “recklessly or negligently” endangering a Hawker Hunter G-BXFI or any person on that aircraft contrary to Article 137 of the Air Navigation Order 2009.Judge Marks ordered a pre-trial review at the Old Bailey on a date to be arranged at the end of October.Hill remains on unconditional bail.

Chef's Table

Chef’s Table: Graeme Pallister of 63 Tay Street in Perth

May 19 2018

Graeme Pallister of 63 Tay Street in Perth explains why it’s OK to have veal on the menu again I have thought long and hard about writing this column because veal comes – or rather used to come – surrounded by much in the way of controversy, and not without good reason. Much like foie gras, the cruelty associated with rearing veal calves put off even the most avid of carnivores. We didn’t take veal onto the menu for years. However – and there really is good justification for that however – things have changed hugely. During an age where the western world is rightfully criticised for the shameful tonnes of food waste produced each year, it is a shock to many when they learn that the male calves of dairy herds are traditionally destroyed at birth. Surely, in a country famed the world over for its agriculture and farming practices, there had to be a better way to deal with this situation? And there was. Rose veal has been making a name for itself over the past decade but it’s only really in recent years that it has grown in popularity and acceptance. We buy ours a local butcher in Glenrothes who in turn source it from Red Tractor farms (Red Tractor ensures you can trust the food produced and is an assurance scheme covering animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection) who have RSPCA approval on their veal. So what does this really mean to you and me – the people who plan to cook and eat it? Well, in order to obtain an RSPCA approval it must be a product that supports ethical and sustainable farming practices. These male calves will live a good, healthy life in open barns, sleeping on straw and socialising in groups with access to fresh air, daylight and water at all times . They are nurtured until they are 11 months old – more than lamb for the meat eaters out there – at which point they are processed humanely. For me, as both a chef and a meat eater, I find this far more humane and far less wasteful. I’d also say that the more we demand transparency in our farming practices the better informed we will be when it comes to making decisions around what is and isn’t ‘cruel’. I personally respond well to fair, sustainable practice and as such we’re currently conjuring up a whole host of tasty ideas for this wonderful, British produce – and blanquette de veau has gone straight to the head of the queue! Chef’s tip Start your journey into cooking with veal with a simple burger or meatballs. Remember, this is just young beef and although the flavour is less powerful than its older counterpart, it works in more or less the same way. Use minced veal and mix with finely chopped garlic and red onion, a little salt and pepper to season and roll into tight balls. Fry gently in a pan to brown before topping with a homemade tomato ragu and leaving to bubble to the hob for around 20 mins. Serve with spaghetti.  

Fife

VIDEO: St Andrews professor Clara Ponsati and lawyer address Catalonia supporters outside court

May 15 2018

St Andrews professor Clara Ponsati returned to court today to continue her fight against extradition to Spain. The ex-minister was greeted by flag-waving Catalonia supporters for the hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Gordon Jackson QC, for Prof Ponsati, said her solicitors had visited the region to meet legal experts as part of preparation for the court battle, which could cost £500,000. Outside court, her lawyer said Spain’s extradition bids show the country is facing its “greatest crisis since the dark days of General Franco”. The former Catalan minister is fighting extradition to Spain for her part in an unsanctioned independence referendum in the region last October. She is wanted by the Spanish authorities on charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds. Her legal team say the extradition is being fought on several grounds including the validity of the warrant and Prof Ponsati’s human rights. During the short procedural hearing, lawyers drew battle lines over the definition of corruption in the two legal systems. Under the rules of the European arrest warrant, a suspect can only be extradited if there are equivalent laws in both jurisdictions. After the hearing, Mr Anwar accused Spain of "abusing" the arrest warrant as a “tool of political oppression”. “The courts can never be a solution to political negotiation,” he told Prof Ponsati’s supporters. “Spain today faces its greatest crisis since the dark days of General Franco. “Without the unconditional release of all political prisoners and the withdrawal of the European arrest warrants, there will never be a resolution to this crisis.” A further procedural hearing is due to take place on June 12 and July 15, before the professor’s case is heard in full over two weeks from July 30. Prof Ponsati was head of economics at the university when she became the region’s education minister, just a few months before the referendum. She returned to Scotland in March and resumed working at the University of St Andrews in Fife ahead of the reactivation of the arrest warrant. <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/URjbgxmj-xYmBS0Bi.js"></script>

Road tests

Grand touring with Maserati

May 16 2018

Few cars turn heads like a Maserati GranTurismo. Even a decade on from its launch, the Pininfarina styled lines have lost none of their power to enthrall. The GranTurismo is a four-seat grand tourer designed to cover large distances in comfort and style. It has been refreshed for 2018, with a restyled exterior and interior and some new technology. The old 4.2 litre engine has been replaced by a more powerful 4.7 litre V8 which, as before, is sourced from Ferrari. The range has been simplified, with just two models – “entry level” Sport and top spec MC. The sport will set you back around £93,000 and the MC model I drove had a price tag £80 shy of £110,000. That’s not cheap, and nor will the car break 20mpg. Such an outlay does buy a lot more exclusivity that other sports cars available for similar money, such as the Audi R8 and Porsche 911, however. The engine produces a healthy 454bhp, which will take the GranTurismo from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 185mph. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9CTROQYwZE It does so with a magnificent yowl that can’t fail to put a smile on your face. There is traction control but it’s still easy to get the GranTurismo out of shape if you’re not careful. On a wet A82 beside Loch Lomond I managed to accidentally fishtail the rear end. On drier roads the grip is prodigious and you would need a track to explore the car’s limits. The suspension is softer than hardcore sports cars, however. The Maserati has two jobs to do : to thrill drivers and transport them in comfort. Unlike one of its most direct rivals, the BMW 6 Series, which has rear seats suitable only for small children, the GranTurismo is a proper four seater with room for adults in the back. Boot space is a modest 260 litres though, so if you do travel with four people they’ll need to keep luggage to a minimum. The inside of the GranTurismo is, as you’d expect, quite a special place. Virtually every inch is covered with soft leather or fine wood. An 8.4 inch touchscreen has been added in the 2018 version of the car, as has a high end Harman Kardon stereo. Cruising along the shores of Loch Lomond and then Loch Long it was all too easy to drift into a fantasy where I was a millionaire on my way to my luxury retreat in the highlands. Sadly, an hour or two later I had to hand the keys back and return to reality  

Dundee

Building work finally begins on Dundee’s flagship £32 million elite sports centre

May 16 2018

Construction work has finally begun on Dundee's new flagship £32 million elite sports centre after four years of planning. The Caird Park Regional Performance Centre for Sport, which will feature a top-of-the-range indoor athletics centre, is expected to be completed by autumn 2019. The need for such a centre was first identified almost 15 years ago by SportScotland in its National and Regional Sports Facilities Strategy. However, after Dundee was chosen as the government's preferred site for the regional centre, a series of hiccups followed. Setbacks included Dundee FC's withdrawal from involvement in the scheme, a change in location from Camperdown Park, and the shock prospect of a £750,000 annual tax bill. Speaking at the sod-cutting event yesterday, Mike Galloway, the soon-to-retire director of city development at Dundee City Council said he was pleased to see the centre finally starting to take shape. He said: "It's great we're able to see work starting on site today and see it coming to fruition. "I think it's going to be really important for the clubs and the associations in Dundee and for the elite sports people who will have access to these facilities as they've been waiting for this." Dundee initially bid to house a national centre, rather than the regional one, in 2013  but lost out to Edinburgh. The capital's centre, named the Oriam, opened around a year and a half ago. Further issues in choosing an appropriate location, as well as local opposition, caused more delays. Controversy then followed after The Courier revealed the centre would be subject to a £750,000 annual tax bill amid a Scottish Government shake-up of business rates. The venue was eventually exempted from the tax bill, much to the relief of local officials involved in the project. Leader of Dundee City Council, John Alexander added: “The regional performance centre will bring huge benefits for the city and our people and reflects our drive to make Dundee a better place for all. “It is designed to support athletes in their development and will help improve the health of our population through participation in sport.” The sports centre will feature a number of new facilities, as well as upgrades to existing ones. The athletics track currently at Caird Park is to be resurfaced and a covered spectator area added. The recently resurfaced velodrome is to have a new area of hardstanding provided for competition, with upgraded floodlighting. An innovative £5 million energy centre will also allow a district heating capability. Construction company Balfour Beatty was chosen to build the centre in March.

Business news

Employee ownership move for city contractor Scan Building Services

May 16 2018

A Dundee engineering services firm has completed its transition to employee ownership. Scan Building Services Ltd, which has been operating in the city since 1980, is now owned by 56 members of staff. Operating in the construction industry as a specialist contractor, Scan provides services such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing systems. Previous owner David Anderson has sold his shares to an employee ownership trust, which is holding them on behalf of the employees. Graham Prophet, part of Scan’s senior management team, said: “When we were considering our options for future ownership of the business, we wanted to ensure the jobs were retained in Dundee and the staff were rewarded for any success. “Employee ownership ticked all of those boxes and following a feasibility study last year, we knew it was the best option for us. “A fair price was achieved for the previous owner that also ensured sufficient reserves were left in the company to provide working capital to invest for the future. “All employees now have a real interest in the success of the business which will motivate them to perform and achieve.” Scan’s clients include construction contractors, local authorities, health trusts and private companies and last year the Byron Street business had a turnover of £3.9 million. The company is known for its apprenticeship programme and it plans to introduce an incentives scheme for senior management. Henderson Loggie assisted the firm’s transition to employee ownership, which can be a tax efficient exit strategy for business owners. Mr Anderson said: “Henderson Loggie suggested this very effective structure which met my objectives and allowed ownership of the company to pass to the employees, who now have a vested interest in making it the best company it can be and to benefit directly from their efforts. “I’m very proud of the way things have worked out and I wish the new owners of Scan every success for the future.” Rod Mathers, partner at Henderson Loggie, added: “Employee ownership is a very tax efficient option for business owners to realise their investment and pass ownership on to employees to reward and motivate them to continue to grow the business.” business@thecourier.co.uk

Fife

West Fife feels “short changed” by out-of-hours GP closure

May 15 2018

Fife's health and social care chief denied charges of chaos and incompetence as he defended moves to centralise overnight GP services in the region. Michael Kellet insisted the decision to move all primary care services to Kirkcaldy's Victoria Hospital from midnight to 8am had not been a financial one but was the only way to ensure patient safety. Speaking at a packed public meeting in Dunfermline on Monday night, Mr Kellet gave an assurance the controversial move was not the thin end of the wedge for health services in west Fife and promised there would be no further erosion of services in the area. The director of the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership had been invited to address concerns following the closure of services in Dunfermline, Glenrothes and St Andrews due to severe staff shortages. The measure was introduced at the start of April as a three-month contingency and will be reviewed in early July, although Mr Kellet refused to give a guarantee services would be reinstated. He was left in no doubt as to the strength of feeling locally, with many people stating they felt short-changed and ignored. One retired nurse said: "It represents a diminution of services and it's not right." Dunfermline MSP Shirley-Ann Somerville said trust in the health service had been eroded locally due to broken promises in the past. Stating that politicians across all parties would be campaigning for enhanced services at Queen Margaret Hospital, she said the fight would involve communities across the whole of Fife. "There are people across the region who are suffering and we need people to get involved to make sure these services are retained," she said. She also urged the health and social care partnership to reconsider its refusal to reimburse people who had to pay up to £40 for a taxi to Kirkcaldy if they had to see a doctor. Mr Kellet said measures were in place to safeguard those who could not travel to Victoria Hospital. He pointed out only 68 of the region's 150 GPs were providing regular out-of-hours sessions and there was also a shortage or nursing staff, a situation he described as unsustainable. Dr Alan McGovern, a Dunfermline GP and clinical director for the partnership's west area, said provision of out-of-hours services was becoming "more and more fragile". "We were facing a month where the majority of our overnight shifts could not be covered," he said. "There was a risk of an even worse disaster of having no doctors in at all overnight." St Andrews hosts out-of-hours meeting Members of the East Neuk community are demanding they be allowed to keep their out of hours service if enough general practitioners volunteer to staff it. A community meeting held in St Andrews on Monday was attended by dozens of concerned locals, medical professionals and politicians. They told bosses at the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership that they failed to see why services were cut at the St Andrews Community Hospital which appeared to be working well. Dr Gerry Smyth, a GP who has provided out-of-hours care, told how he felt the decision to centralise the out of hours care was the wrong one. He said: “I do feel, alongside my colleagues who work in the service, that we have a duty and a responsibility to produce high quality, safe and local medical services for patients. “And I’m afraid to say that I don’t think the decisions that has been made allows us to do that. “Most of us feel that the decisions that have been made were ill-considered, unnecessary and they’re unsafe. “I say they’re ill-considered because none of my colleagues were ever told there was a crisis. “None of us were asked what would we do and what would our advise be if there was a crisis. “And none of us were involved in those decisions. I know if I had a staff crisis, the first thing I would do is ask the staff. “The decision was unnecessary because the precedent that brought us these staffing difficulties arises in central Fife and West Fife. “St Andrews is always well staffed with very little difficulty in relative terms.” Dr Smyth told how he and his colleagues had offered to continue their out of hours service in St Andrews but were asked to work at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy to which they declined. Concerns were also raised about the distance and time it would take for people to travel to the hospitals in Kirkcaldy and Dundee with one person having spent £120 on taxi fares. Conservative MSP Liz Smith and her colleague MSP Murdo Fraser also backed calls for the FHSCP to allow St Andrews Hospital to stay open with their volunteer GP’s. Seonaid McCallum, associate medical director for the Health and Social Care Partnership said: “We as a service have a duty of care to provide safe care for the whole of Fife. “The GMC is very clear in this that I have a duty as a doctor for the population of Fife. “It would be unacceptable and clinically unsafe to have adequate cover in some areas of Fife and not other. “The only clinically safe option is to ensure that we entered into a contingency to allow flexible working with medical staff across Fife so that we could respond to clinical needs.” Simon Little, chair of the FHSCP, reassured the meeting that a proper consultation would be carried out by the board which would ask GP’s for their input.

Dundee

‘Sports tax’ on new leisure facilities branded one of SNP’s ‘most regressive policies’

May 17 2018

Councils face a “crazy” assault on their finances from a Scottish Government clampdown on a cost-saving scheme. Scotland’s spending watchdog has hailed arm’s length organisations (ALEOs) as a way of reducing the financial burden of running local services. The Accounts Commission study highlighted the savings made in Dundee and Fife through ALEOs, not-for-profit companies that run leisure and other services on behalf of local authorities. But the SNP administration is trying to stem their expansion by effectively ending business rates relief for new ALEO-run facilities. Branding the government plan a “sports tax”, Labour MSP Jenny Marra said: “I can’t understand why the SNP have chosen to do this when our health record shows that children desperately need to be doing sport and activity at every opportunity. “The new Menzieshill complex in Dundee will have an annual tax bill of £300,000. “The inevitable consequence of this crazy policy is that councils in the future simply won’t plan any new facilities. “This is possibly one of the most regressive policies the SNP has dreamt up yet.” The report said Leisure and Culture Dundee had made savings of £15 million in the six years since it was founded in 2011, “allowing it to remove a £3.5 million funding gap and invest £1.2 million”. The study added: “Income generated by the ALEO now exceeds the funding paid by the council.” At Fife Council, the authors said there has been a “50 per cent reduction in costs and a 50 per cent increase in service uptake for sports and leisure” between 2008 and 2016 through ALEOs. Graham Sharp, chairman of the Accounts Commission, which publishes the report today, said:  "ALEOs can and do provide significant benefits. “But they are not without risk and changes in tax relief may make the creation of an ALEO a less attractive option for the future.” Mike Rumbles, for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: "The government needs to be doing much more to promote healthy lifestyles, not make changes that would limit access.” A Scottish Government spokesman said ALEOs have been a way for councils to "avoid paying tax" worth about £45m in 2017/18. “The Barclay review (into business rates system) recommended we address this," the spokesman added. "But in recognition of the impact this could have on existing facilities we took the decision to close this loophole only for new ALEOs, reducing the incentive for councils to place public services in trusts beyond the direct democratic control of local councillors. “This will bring council-run facilities into line with private operators providing similar facilities who currently pay tax, and any income that is raised from new sporting facilities will be retained in full by local councils.”

UK & World

Concerns over outbreak as Ebola spreads to city in DR Congo

May 17 2018

The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo has spread to a city, prompting fears of a worrying shift in the new outbreak in the north-west of the country.Congo’s health minister said Ebola has now spread to the capital of the Equateur province.Oly Ilunga said two suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in the Wangata health zones, which includes Mbandaka city, about 93 miles from Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak began.He said one sample proved positive for the deadly Ebola virus, bringing the number of confirmed Ebola cases in three health zones to three.Mr Ilunga said the country is now entering an urban phase of the outbreak, with higher spread potential. He said epidemiologists are working to identify additional contacts to the 500 already identified.A total of 44 cases have now been reported, including 23 deaths, the World Health Organisation reported. Among those are three confirmed, 20 probable and 21 suspected cases.“We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone,” Mr Ilunga said. He added that he is worried because Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people, is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province. Ebola is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms.“Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field with community relays to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases,” he said.He said the lists of those exposed to suspected Ebola cases would receive, for the first time in DR Congo, a new component of response to an Ebola outbreak: vaccinations. Health experts are already tracing 500 contacts, he said.The World Health Organisation sent 5,400 doses of the experimental Ebola vaccine to DR Congo on Wednesday, according to the health minister. The WHO has said it will send thousands more in the coming days, as needed.Before this announcement, all confirmed Ebola cases were reported in the Bikoro health zone, where health facilities are limited and affected areas are difficult to reach.“This is a concerning development, but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “WHO and our partners are taking decisive action to stop further spread of the virus.”The WHO said it has deployed 30 experts for surveillance in Mbandaka. The WHO is also working with Medecins Sans Frontieres and other organisations to stem the outbreak and treat Ebola patients in isolation wards.The vaccine, from US-based pharmaceutical firm Merck, is unlicensed but has been shown to be highly effective against Ebola. It was tested in Guinea in 2015 during the outbreak that killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa from 2014 to 2016.This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in DR Congo since 1976. While none has been connected to the one in West Africa, the experimental vaccine is thought to be effective against the Zaire strain of Ebola found in Congo.The WHO said it will use the “ring vaccination” method. It involves vaccinating voluntary contacts, contacts of those contacts and health care and other front-line workers.

Scotland

Changes to ‘body clock’ can increase mental health risks

May 16 2018

Disruption to the body clock increases the risk of mood disorders and depression, a large study has confirmed.Scientists at the University of Glasgow looked at the circadian rhythms – which control functions including sleep patterns, body temperature, our immune systems and the release of hormones – of more than 90,000 people to measure daily rest-activity rhythms, called relative amplitude.Individuals with lower relative amplitude were found to be at greater risk of several adverse mental health outcomes, even after adjusting for confounding factors, such as age, sex, lifestyle, education and previous childhood trauma. Using mobile phones late at night or waking in the early hours to make a cup of tea were among the bad habits that contribute to “poor sleep hygiene”, Daniel Smith, senior author of the paper, told The Times.“But it’s not just what you do at night, it’s what you do during the day — trying to be active during the day and inactive in darkness,” he said.“Especially in the winter, making sure you get out in the morning in the fresh air is just as important in getting a good night’s sleep as not being on your mobile phone.”Dr Laura Lyall, the study’s lead author, said the team had found a “robust association” between disruption of circadian rhythms and mood disorders.“Previous studies have identified associations between disrupted circadian rhythms and poor mental health, but these were on relatively small samples.” Circadian rhythms are variations in physiology and behaviour that recur every 24 hours, such as the sleep-wake cycle and daily patterns of hormone release.The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, found that in addition to increased risk of depression and bipolar disorder, lower relative amplitude was also associated with low subjective ratings of happiness and health satisfaction.Prof Smith, professor of psychiatry and senior author of the study, said: “This is an important study demonstrating a robust association between disrupted circadian rhythmicity and mood disorders.“The next step will be to identify the mechanisms by which genetic and environmental causes of circadian disruption interact to increase an individual’s risk of depression and bipolar disorder.“This is important globally because more and more people are living in urban environments that are known to increase risk of circadian disruption and, by extension, adverse mental health outcomes.”

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