Sunday, December 24

A Good News Story

From Christopher Booker's notebook comes a story of victory over petty officialdom

Just in time for Christmas has come a miraculous twist to one of the saddest stories reported by in my column in 2006. In July I revealed a bizarre ruling by the Environment Agency that threatened to close down Intercare, a charity that collects medicines surplus to British requirements and sends them to a networkof 100 clinics in some of the poorest parts of Africa.

The drugs were all carefully screened by a volunteer team of doctors, nurses andpharmacists to ensure they were still in perfect condition, and were only sent in response to the specific needs of trained medical staff in Africa, where they were hugely appreciated, helping to treat more than a million patients.

A British Government Environment Agency official, however, decided that, under EU rules, these medicines were "waste" and had to be sent to landfill. They even threatened Intercare, run from Leicester by Dr Margaret Macdonald, with prosecution.

When I told this extraordinary story it was followed elsewhere in the media.Those in charge of the agency were sufficiently embarrassed to send a more senior official to investigate. So positively did he approach his task, as a joyful Dr Macdonald was able to tell me last week, that not only can Intercare continue its good work, but it will soon be licensed to receive drugs from any GP, hospital, nursing home or NHS trust in the country.

Collecting will begin again in January, and even private individuals cancontribute through their GP.

Anyone wishing to contribute can make contact through, oremail, or ring 0116 269 5925 in office hours.I am pleased to say that, on the day the good news came through, as I took aband of carol singers round our Somerset village, my generous neighbours wereable to lead the way by raising £164.
A happy Christmas to Dr Macdonald and all who work for this admirable charity.
Christoper Booker
The above is confermation that one should never give up when one is right; petty officials (Managers) are often the enemy of progress, mostly because they have no greater vision. Ed.

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