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'Major failings' in DVLA medical fitness to drive cases - BBC News

2016-10-26 04:18:57 Mr Nofatti
Image copyright iStock

Image caption It is the DVLA’s job to ensure people in Great Britain are safe and fit to drive

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is not making fair decisions about medical fitness-to-drive cases, a report has suggested.

It said people’s lives had been put on hold for years because of flawed decision-making and poor communication.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s report found “major failings” in eight drivers’ cases.

The DVLA said the vast majority of cases it handles are dealt with swiftly and correctly.

Criticisms in the report are directed at the Drivers’ Medical Group – the part of the DVLA which considers whether drivers with a medical condition are safe to drive.

The DMG makes between 600,000 and 750,000 licensing decisions every year and around 10% of those are complex cases dealt with by medical experts.

Media captionFrances Leigh was for years prevented from driving after suffering a stroke.

The report looked at eight complaints in detail which were received by the ombudsman between 2014 and 2015.

These all concerned people with complex medical conditions who were unfairly prevented from driving, sometimes for several years, the ombudsman’s report said.

The report found “major failings”, including evidence of flawed decisions, significant delays, poor communication and complaint handling in those cases.

And it said it was concerned that other people had also been treated unfairly and that the same mistakes could be repeated.

‘I was part of a tick box exercise’

Image copyright iStock

David, from the north-east of England, told the DVLA he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he reapplied for a licence to drive lorries.

But he was refused, even though his psychiatrist and GP said he was safe to drive.

After providing more information on his condition and the medication he was taking, he also explained that his new job depended on him being reissued with a licence.

But the delay resulted in his employer having to let him go from his 20,000 a year job.

He went to his union for help and they encouraged him to get a solicitor and take it to court, which he did.

He also complained to the ombudsman, who found in his favour.

But the experience, which lasted more than two years, left him feeling angry and frustrated.

“Everyone is an individual but I didn’t see anyone face to face. It was just a tick box exercise,” he says.

The DVLA sent a letter apologising for their actions and he received 6,000 in compensation.

“But I shouldn’t have been put in that position in the first place,” David says.

The report recommends that the DVLA improves the way it communicates with people applying for a licence and with medical professionals, and sets up robust standards to assess people with medical conditions fairly.

In addition, it says financial compensation should be offered to those affected by failures, where appropriate.

‘Stress and isolation’

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said the DVLA’s failings had had a real impact.

“People’s lives have been put on hold for years because of severe delays and flawed decisions by the DVLA, leading people to lose their jobs, causing stress, worry and isolation.”

She said the DVLA had produced a new guide for medical professionals and improved its complaint handling and communications – but there was still more to do.

“Further action is needed to make the assessments of fitness to drive more robust, to prevent others from suffering the same injustice in the future.”


Oliver Morley, chief executive of the DVLA, said it was sorry for the way some customers’ cases were handled.

“These eight very complex cases, however, date back to 2009 and since then the vast majority of the four million cases we’ve handled have been dealt with swiftly and correctly.

“We have already made a number of improvements including more effective ways of managing cases, taking on more staff and introducing a new online service where drivers can tell us about their medical conditions.”

Nick Lyes, RAC public affairs spokesman, said it was vital for the DVLA to reduce unnecessary delays – but it also had a balancing act to perform.

“It is vitally important that those who need their vehicles and are safe to use them can do so in the quickest time possible, but there is also a duty on authorities to keep our roads and drivers as safe as possible.”

The charity Scope said disabled people should be supported to live as independently as possible – and that included getting them safely behind the wheel.

Conditions that could affect your ability to drive safely include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Strokes
  • Other neurological and mental health conditions
  • Physical disabilities
  • Visual impairments

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Richard Simmons Is Closing His Iconic Exercise Studio In Los Angeles

2016-10-25 03:59:03 Mr Nofatti

Richard Simmons is closing his gym in Los Angeles.  (Reuters)

Richard Simmons’ iconic Beverly Hills, California, exercise studio, Slimmons, is officially closing its doors.

The 68-year-old fitness guru’s longtime manager, Michael Catalano, confirmed the news to ET on Friday.

WATCH: Richard Simmons Returns Home from Hospital, Says He’s ‘Feeling Great’

“He just hasn’t taught there in over two years,” Catalano said, also telling ET that it was Simmons’ idea to close the studio for good.

Simmons also confirmed the news on Facebook, writing, “Some of you may have heard that Slimmons will close next month. While it is true, it has been an amazing part of my life to teach, meet and support people from all over the world.”

“I want to thank everyone who has come through those studio doors to laugh, cry and sweat with me!” he added. “Remember to keep sweatin’, keep movin’ and most importantly go out and Vote! Love Richard xo.”

The last day of classes will take place on Nov. 19.

The news comes just four months after Simmons — who Catalano says is “doing great” — was hospitalized for bizarre behavior. At the time, the Los Angeles Fire Department confirmed to ET that they responded to a call at 11:52 p.m. at Simmons’ home. He was then transported to the hospital via ambulance.

“Thank you to everyone who has reached out with love and concern after hearing I was in the hospital,” Simmons later told ET in a statement. “I was dehydrated and needed some fluids and now I am feeling great! Summer is here — drink plenty of liquids. Big hugs and kisses for caring.”

WATCH: Richard Simmons Thanks Fans for Support After Clarifying He Has Not Been ‘Kidnapped’

Back in March, ET spoke with Simmons over the phone, where he explained why he had not been seen in public in more than two years.

“I am not kidnapped,” he said. “I am just in my house right now.”

“No one should be worried about me,” he added. “The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me.”

As ET previously reported, the conversation took place one day after the New York Daily News published a “very hurtful” article about the Sweatin’ to the Oldies creator, claiming he was “being held against his will inside his Hollywood Hills mansion” and that his former friends had become concerned. His last public appearance was on Dec. 13, 2013, at SPARKLE: An All-Star Holiday Concert at L.A.’s ACME Comedy.

WATCH: Richard Simmons Speaks Out: ‘No One Should Worry About Me’

Simmons explained that this is how he wants to live his life right now, urging people not to worry about him. “If I was in any trouble, if I was hurting in any way, I would reach out,” he assured ET. “It is time right now for Richard Simmons to take care of Richard Simmons.”

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Apple Watch Nike+ Coming Soon, Ups Fitness Ante

2016-10-24 04:03:26 Mr Nofatti

Apple will debut a Nike-branded Apple Watch next Friday in a bid to highlight the devices fitness creds.

Apple is mostly making a fashion and branding statement with Apple Watch Nike+ via a special band and color schemes. The core features of the special version of the watch are the same as other Series 2 models, including a built-in GPS to track your pace, distance, and route.

But independent GPS tracking is a critical fitness upgrade for a product co-branded with Nike, because it gives you the option to untether your iPhone when exercising. That is not possible on the first-gen watch, which needs the iPhones GPS.

Apple also needs to do this to match the competition. Fitbit, the wearables market leader, offers the Fitbit Surge with built-in GPS at a price considerably lower than the Apple Watch Series 2. Though the Surge is not a full-featured watch like Apples, it starts at $250, compared to the Nike version of the Apple Watch 2 that has a starting price of $369.

Basic wearables, like most of FitBits offerings, are still a clear value proposition for end-users, Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC, said in a statement when the company announced second-quarter global wearable shipment tallies last month.  


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McCain to Trump: 'A concession isn't just an exercise in graciousness - it is an act of respect'

2016-10-23 03:58:47 Mr Nofatti

Washington (CNN)John McCain, the failed 2008 Republican nominee, has some advice for Donald Trump.

“I didn’t like the outcome of the 2008 election. But I had a duty to concede, and I did so without reluctance,” McCain said in a lengthy statement Thursday. “A concession isn’t just an exercise in graciousness. It is an act of respect for the will of the American people, a respect that is every American leader’s first responsibility.”
    The Arizona senator lost to now-President Barack Obama by 7 percentage points eight years ago, about the margin Trump currently trails Hillary Clinton in polls with less than three weeks until Election Day.
    But in the third presidential debate on Wednesday night, Trump would not commit to exiting the presidential election quietly, promising that he would leave the country “in suspense.”
    “I don’t know who’s going to win the presidential election. I do know that in every previous election, the loser congratulates the winner and calls them, ‘my president,’ ” McCain said. “That’s not just the Republican way or the Democratic way. It’s the American way. This election must not be any different.”
    McCain, who is up for reelection this year, originally endorsed Trump despite his disparaging remarks about the Arizona senator. But McCain revoked his blessing in the wake of questions about Trump’s treatment of women.
    Republicans largely tread carefully around the latest Trump comments. As of mid-day, neither House speaker Paul Ryan or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had weighed in.
    Two Republican critics in the Senate, however, did.
    “The American electoral process is the cornerstone of our democracy. Suggesting otherwise undermines an electoral system that is a model for nations around the world,” said John Thune, the no. 3 Republican in the body.
    “The voters are going to decide this election, and Donald Trump needs to accept the outcome,” said Kelly Ayotte, who is in one of the country’s tightest Senate races in New Hampshire. If there are reports that need to be investigated, they will be, as I used to do as Attorney General.”

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    Cancer And Exercise Do Mix

    2016-10-21 04:10:33 Mr Nofatti

    The Conversation

    When you hear the word cancer probably the last thing that you think of is physical activity. In fact, most of us think of cancer as a death sentence. Treatments for cancer make many people feel lousy and the side effects of treatment include fatigue, anxiety, nausea, vomiting and pain. So it is hardly surprising that people who are diagnosed with cancer are not reaching for their running shoes or gym kit.

    The perception of cancer as a death sentence is incorrect. Of course people die from the disease, but the prognosis for many people diagnosed with the disease is pretty good.

    At any one time, there are about 25m people living with cancer in the world. Many people diagnosed with cancer are likely to die of something else. This means that helping the millions of people who have been diagnosed and treated for cancer to live a long and healthy life is a goal worth striving for.

    Physical activity can help people manage the side effects of cancer treatment. Being physically active during and after treatment improves cardio-respiratory fitness, muscle strength, physical well-being, quality of life, and reduces fatigue, anxiety and depression.

    People who are physically active after cancer are also more likely to live longer than those who are not physically active, especially after breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer. Health professionals around the world recommend that people diagnosed with cancer get physically active.

    Yet most people, during and after treatment for cancer, are not physically active. In fact, people reduce their amount of physical activity after a cancer diagnosis and treatments.

    How much is enough?

    Getting the health benefits from physical activity does not mean having to run marathons or pump iron (although some people after cancer treatment do quite happily engage in vigorous physical activity).

    The recommended amount of physical activity for people with cancer is the same as for the general public: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. This can be broken down into about five 30-minute brisk walks a week. Muscle strengthening exercises are also recommended. However, treatment can really zap people and they should not feel bad about being unable to do the recommended amount.


    Drugs can make it difficult. Shutterstock

    One reason for the drop in activity in those with cancer is that doctors and nurses rarely give advice about physical activity to patients, so its understandable why people are not physically active after a cancer diagnosis. And many of us still believe that when youre ill you should rest up.

    There are of course other barriers to being physically active beside lack of information and advice from oncologists. A key barrier in most countries is the lack of provision of cancer rehabilitation to promote and support physical activity.

    All this is not to polarise medicine versus physical activity. Nor is it to champion physical activity as the miracle cure for all of the problems that people during and after cancer treatment face. Yet, being physically active during and after cancer treatment has many health benefits. This is why for people diagnosed with cancer it is important to promote exercise as medicine.

    Alongside getting the best possible medical treatment people should also get the best possible exercise treatment.

    The ConversationGill Hubbard, Reader in Cancer Care, University of Stirling

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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