Care for some parenting classes?

The Prime Minister David Cameron has recently announced the start of a programme offering parenting classes to expectant parents and those with children up to the age of two. The programme is expected to start on a piloting basis in Middleborough, Camden (North London) and High Peak (Derbyshire) with a relationship support service beginning in York, Leeds, North Essex and some London boroughs from July, the Guardian reports. The initiative is not specifically targeted at young people, but they might be the ones who have the most to benefit from it. It is an undoubtedly welcome initiative. Although the latest available data (2010) from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that under-18 motherhood is the lowest since 1969 standing at 35.5 conceptions per thousand women. It also showed that, even though teenage fertility rates are decreasing, the UK probably remains the country with the highest such rate in Western Europe and the 7th highest in the OECD group of developed countries (behind Mexico, Chile, Bulgaria, Turkey, the US and Latvia). The ONS mentions that “It is widely understood that teenage pregnancy and early motherhood can be associated with poor educational achievement, poor physical and mental health, social isolation, poverty and related factors”. Former Labour Welfare Minister, Frank Field is quoted in the Guardian article as saying that “Poor parenting exists across the income distribution, but tends to have less of an impact on better-off children where other factors provide greater protection against poor outcomes”. Given that teenagers are generally not as well-off as other age groups, it can be argued that they would be the ones who have more...

Running a hospital into the ground

Something has been happening where I live. My local hospital, Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, is closing down.   Chase Farm, the Maternity Ward where my brother and I were born. The A&E department I went to when I thought I had broken my arm, and when I tripped and cracked my chin open in the playground (yes, I am an A+ klutz), and the rehab ward where my grandma passed away. I love that hospital, and I have one wish.  To keep it open. The government says that it is badly run, dirty and unsafe – well, any guesses why that could be, Cameron? No one is putting any money into it, and here’s why: Chase Farm hospital spans roughly 7000 square metres of land. Land that could easily be sold for flats, if, say, there wasn’t a hospital there, eh Dave? In fact, Cameron has lied to us repeatedly about Chase Farm- making pre-election promises to put up a “bare-knuckle fight” against NHS changes, and boldly stating that “if you call an election on the 1st November we (the Conservatives) will stop the closure of services at this hospital on the 2nd November”. It seems he has truly abandoned that “bare-knuckle fight”, and was only ever defending Chase Farm to win a few votes. I’d say the Tory government could probably make a couple of million quid out of that land, so they’re slowly running the hospital into the ground, just to make a profit. “So what’s going to happen to all the sick people?” Enfield whimpers quietly, praying for an answer “Where will they go?” They’re all going to be crammed...