Wednesday, October 27, 2004


"Voluntary", of course. But, without doubt, sanctions will gradually be added

Every public health patient in Britain would receive a personalised diet and fitness program under a radical plan to cut the nation's obesity levels and shift the focus of the medical system from cure to prevention. The plans, which may also include personalised sex advice, are the centrepiece of a range of new measures to be unveiled by the Blair Government in a forthcoming white paper on Britain's perilous health. The proposals, leaked to the Independent on Sunday newspaper, are also expected to propose screening children at an early age to identify those at risk of obesity and related illnesses, such as diabetes.

The Blair Government is hoping to make health care a plank in its re-election campaign next year and has already signalled a shift towards preventive medicine. But the Government may not agree to a push by several large councils and Whitehall policymakers to introduce a ban on smoking in public places. The Government's opponents are likely to attack the health measures as an example of the "nanny state", but participation in the individual regimens is expected to be voluntary.

Patients will be set specific goals monitored by their family doctor, an unnamed official told the Independent on Sunday. Doctors will give individual advice on weight loss, fitness and sex as part of plans that, if approved by cabinet, could be in force within four years.

The proposals are due to be released on November 10 and come as the private sector reports a massive rise in the number of people signing up to weight loss programs and fitness regimens. Up to 100,000 Britons have reportedly joined private slimming clubs over the past year.

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Who cares about safety? If the guy in the truck is backing into you, it will be no good tooting your horn

United Parcel Service must give deaf employees a chance to drive its smaller delivery trucks if they can show they can drive as safely as employees with normal hearing, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled Thursday. "Hearing alone does not make someone a safe driver,'' said U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, ruling in a nationwide disability discrimination suit. He said UPS, the world's largest private package carrier, failed to show in a trial last year that the deaf are inherently unable to drive safely or communicate with the public. The firm can subject individual drivers to the safety evaluations and training it provides to all applicants, Henderson said.

His ruling allows the deaf to apply for jobs as drivers of UPS vehicles known as "package cars,'' weighing 10,000 pounds or less. Drivers of larger trucks, which make up about 90 percent of the Atlanta company's fleet of 65, 000 vehicles, are required by law to meet U.S. Department of Transportation hearing standards. The case is part of a class-action suit filed in 1999 on behalf of more than 1,000 hearing-impaired UPS workers. In a July 2003 settlement that resolved all issues except the firm's ban on deaf drivers, UPS agreed to pay $5.8 million in damages and provide aids such as vibrating pagers and text- message telephones.

UPS argued that deaf drivers would be more likely to get into accidents because they cannot hear sirens, screeching tires and other danger signals, and would also have trouble detecting maintenance problems and communicating with customers.

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