Socialist Worker

Who's next after Enron?

Issue No. 1787

'Rolls-Royce is the latest victim of Enronitis, the fear that many firms, particularly those with large debts, could be concealing nasty secrets.' That was the verdict of the Sunday Times this week as panic spread across the financial world in the wake of the scandal surrounding the collapse of Enron. Bankers and speculators are nervously watching firms with similarly huge debts to Enron.

Rolls shares slid last week. Other firms in the firing line include troubled cable firm NTL, top chemicals firm ICI, near-bankrupt Marconi, British Airways and many others.

Fantasy operations

Tony Blair has misled MPs over cancelled operations. He had claimed that cancellations had only risen in proportion to the rise in the number of patients treated. But House of Commons figures show cancellations have risen from 1.04 percent of operations in 1997-8 to 1.42 percent last year.

Barking and Havering authority in east London saw an increase in cancellations of over 4,000 percent. South Staffordshire and Bedfordshire authorities saw increases of well over 1,000 percent.

Landlady scrubs up?

The NHS bed crisis is so severe that the government is planning to ship patients off to bed and breakfasts. The plan, called Convalescence and Recuperative Environment (CaRE), is aimed at preventing seasonal 'bed blocking'.

But doctors, patient groups and the BMA have all attacked the idea, arguing that proper care would not be available in the average B&B. It would also make it hard for relatives to visit. B&B owners across the West Midlands who received leaflets advertising CaRE thought it was a hoax.

Truth about Pop Idol

The real winners of the TV singing contest Pop Idol were not Gareth and Will, but Gordon and BT. The 31 million telephone calls made during the contest generated some £11 million profits for BT. This means a £5 million VAT windfall for the chancellor, Gordon Brown.

Childcare so costly

Childcare bills have hit new heights, according to a survey by the Daycare Trust. The typical cost of a nursery place for a child under two is now £120 a week, a 10 percent rise in a year.

Stephen Burke, director of the Daycare Trust, says, 'British parents face the highest childcare bills in Europe. Parents face a daily battle to find, let alone pay for, quality childcare.' The number of childcare places rose by only 2 percent in the last year, despite government boasts of how much it has done in this area.

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Sat 16 Feb 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1787
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