Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Introduction: Postcode Lottery

The purpose of this website is to help raise awareness of the plight of people who are victims of the Postcode Lottery.
On 29th June, 2008, Gordon Brown promised to end the NHS Postcode Lottery.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Shocking picture shows how elderly patient was abandoned for two days in hospital store cupboard with little food or medication

Surrounded by shelves of hospital supplies, 80-year-old Doris McKeown lies in the windowless store cupboard where she spent two days before being operated on

By Jenny Hope
Last updated at 8:22 AM on 11th February 2010

Confused and in pain, 80-year-old Doris McKeown is kept in a hospital cupboard while she awaits emergency surgery.
The pensioner was stored away for 48 hours in a tiny windowless room, with only shelves of hospital supplies for company.
On the door outside was a sign saying 'Dignity in Care'.
But inside the store cupboard - called a 'treatment room' by management but a 'broom cupboard' by Mrs McKeown - she suffered the indignity of being overlooked for medication and meals.

She was taken to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital last October needing an urgent operation for compression of the nerves in her spine, which can lead to paralysis.
The mother of two said: 'It was a relief to be in hospital as I knew it was a serious condition, but in the middle of the night I was transferred to a storeroom off the main ward because they hadn't got enough beds. It was like a broom cupboard.'

When she was seen by the consultant, he had to squeeze in with two other doctors and Mrs McKeown's daughter Dr Helena McKeown, a GP who is also chairman of the community care committee at the British Medical Association.
' The consultant didn't seem surprised, it seemed to happen regularly,' said Mrs McKeown, whose late husband Joe was a newspaper photographer.
'I had nurses coming in all the time to pick up the supplies and they were very good, but as I wasn't on the proper ward I missed out on some of the rounds for meals and medication.

'I didn't get put on the ward until after the operation two nights later.
'It's extraordinary that patients have to be looked after in a cupboard because the hospital doesn't have enough beds.'
Dr McKeown said: 'My mother needed emergency surgery and she ended up in a cupboard. Where's the dignity in care?'

The family is appalled that patients are routinely housed in such rooms as a result of a controversial scheme using private companies to build NHS hospitals for a profit.
They claim the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital not only has fewer proper beds than the old building it replaced but that the public will be paying for it for decades.
Dr McKeown has raised her concerns with the hospitals' watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, and last week gave evidence to MPs.
She said the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme that funded the hospital was undermining the NHS. 'The PFI scheme is being used throughout the NHS, which pays private companies for a period of 25 to 30 years,' she said.
'It's like a mortgage with a very high rate of interest and maintenance costs that my four children will be paying for 30 years - and they can't even build a hospital with sufficient space for local patients.'
The £229million Norwich hospital, opened in 2001, pays an annual rent of £40million a year.
Figures show the NHS will pay out £63billion for privately financed hospitals - £52billion more than they are worth.
The first payments for hospital Private Finance Initiatives began in 1999 and the NHS still owes £58billion on 106 contracts over the next three decades. The BMA will today launch a campaign against the 'commercialisation' of the NHS, which it says is putting profits ahead of patients.
Andrew Stronach, of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, said it has 1,010 beds - more than the 952 replaced in two old hospitals. But he admitted that 27 wards had such 'treatment rooms'.
He added: 'They are not cupboards, they are treatment rooms. They are normally used for patients who are risk assessed before being discharged.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250079/Elderly-patient-abandoned-days-hospital-store-cupboard.html#ixzz0fDLJdstr

Friday, 29 January 2010

Fury as doctor who gave lethal drugs to 12 elderly patients is allowed to carry on prescribing

By Sam Greenhill
Last updated at 12:59 PM on 29th January 2010
"With mass murderer Dr Harold Shipman in mind, police have been quick to investigate complaints about possible rogue doctors."

Families erupted in fury today as a doctor who gave lethal drugs to 12 elderly patients was given the green light to carry on prescribing.

Relatives of the dead pensioners sat gobsmacked as GP Jane Barton escaped being struck off the medical register despite being found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

The outraged sons and daughters stormed out of the General Medical Council (GMC) hearing in Central London in disgust, demanding a public inquiry.

In an unprecedented move, even the GMC's chief executive expressed astonishment that his own disciplinary panel had failed to end the doctor's career.

Iain Wilson, whose 74-year-old father Robert Wilson went into hospital with a broken shoulder but died of an overdose of painkillers, yelled at the panel members: 'You should hang your head in shame.'

Another relative shouted: 'You have done nothing at all to protect the public.'

Dr Barton's frail patients had been given cocktails of painkillers six times the recommended dose to 'keep them quiet' and lapsed into drug-induced comas, it was claimed.

She told one patient 'it won't be long now' after giving her a massive dose of painkillers, the GMC heard.

The two wards she ran, at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire, became known as 'the end of the line'.

It has taken the GMC 12 years to decide on the case since questions were first raised about why patients in Dr Barton's care were dying.

At one stage, police examined 92 deaths, although no criminal charges were ever brought. Then an inquest last year into ten of the pensioners' deaths concluded five of them had died after being given excessive doses of morphine.

However, Dr Barton always remained free to practice, subject to certain restrictions on prescribing diamorphine, and has been working at the Forton Medical Centre in Gosport.

The GMC's fitness to practice panel found Dr Barton guilty of 'multiple instances of serious professional misconduct' and said her behaviour was 'inappropriate, potentially hazardous and or not in the best interests' of her patients.

Yet instead of striking her off, the panel decided to allow her to continue practicing, subject to 11 restrictions including banning her from prescribing opiates by injection for three years. She is allowed to prescibe opiates in other forms, provided she keeps a written 'log'.

Panel chairman Andrew Reid said: 'Dr Barton failed to recognise the limits of her professional competence.'

Full article can be read in Daily Mail
Related link:
You have to be a mass killer like Harold Shipman before you lose your job in the NHS

Thursday, 28 January 2010

'Cover-up' NHS boss is suspended

John Moore-Robinson died hours after being discharged from hospital

A senior NHS member of staff believed to have ordered a rewrite of a damning report because she did not want "adverse publicity" has been suspended.

John Moore-Robinson, 20, died after he was discharged from Stafford Hospital with an undiagnosed ruptured spleen.

In a report, senior consultant Ivan Phair said Mr Moore-Robinson's treatment could be called "negligent".

But trust secretary Kate Levy said she did not want the comments "quoted in the press", and demanded their removal.

The memo emerged during an independent inquiry being held into the failures at Stafford Hospital.

Telecommunications worker Mr Moore-Robinson, from Coalville, Leicestershire, was taken to Stafford Hospital's accident and emergency in April 2006 after a mountain biking accident in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.

'Avoidable situation'

An X-ray revealed broken ribs, but no scan was done to check his spleen and he was prescribed painkillers and discharged. He died hours later.

Mr Phair's report, written weeks later, concluded: "The premature death of Mr Moore-Robinson in my opinion was an avoidable situation.

"I feel that an independent expert would criticise the management afforded to him by the staff.

"There is a high probability that the level of care delivered to Mr Moore-Robinson was negligent."

But Ms Levy, who worked as Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust secretary and head of legal services there, did not wish the comments to be reported in open court to a coroner.

She wrote two memos to Mr Phair asking him to delete criticism.

She wrote: "With a view to avoiding further distress to the family and adverse publicity I wish to avoid stressing possible failures on the part of the trust."

In another memo she wrote: "I feel such a concluding statement may add to the family's distress and is not one I wish to see quoted in the press."

In a statement, the hospital's new management said it was "appalled" that anyone would want to hide information to protect the reputation of the organisation.

Antony Sumara, chief executive of Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, said they were in the process of formally suspending Ms Levy, "pending a full investigation into the allegations raised".

Mr Moore-Robinson's father Frank Robinson is now calling for an inquest into his son's death.

He said: "It's left me speechless.

"Up until the inquiry we really had no idea."

Source: BBC News

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

£150,000 for bullied NHS manager

Press Association

A bullied NHS manager from South Wales who suffered a nervous breakdown has been awarded £150,000 in compensation, it has been revealed.

Unison said Nanette Bowen, 55, of Llanelli, suffered panic attacks and stress during three years of harassment.

On one occasion she was so stressed by the ordeal she was rushed to hospital herself with a suspected heart attack, the union said.

Mrs Bowen was employed at Price Phillip Hospital in Llanelli for 28 years, working her way up from porter to information manager, reporting directly to the chief executive.

Swansea County Court found the former Carmarthenshire NHS Trust liable last February and the parties involved have settled on compensation. The trust was taken to court after Unison took up Mrs Bowen's case.

The court heard that in 2000 Eric Lewis became her boss when Llanelli and Dinefwr trusts merged to become Carmarthenshire NHS. The union said in a statement that Mr Lewis made sexual innuendoes towards her and was regularly aggressive when challenged.

The statement added: "Over the next three years her responsibility for hiring staff was removed, she was not allowed to pass on information to staff without his consent and had to fill in a daily form for him to monitor her work.

"The harassment caused Mrs Bowen, who was the main breadwinner in the family, stress and panic attacks. She was signed off sick and, on one occasion, she was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack."

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: "I am sure that Mrs Bowen would rather have her job and her health."

Mrs Bowen said: "I am relieved that the case has finished, but this is not like winning the lottery, as the money can never make up for my life being ruined."

Source: Press Association


Compensation comparison:

Private Jamie Cooper, who at 18 became the youngest British soldier to be wounded in Iraq. He was hit twice by mortar rounds in an attack on his base in Basra in November 2006.

He lost the use of one leg and a hand as well as suffering internal injuries. While in hospital he contracted MRSA, caught C difficile and had bed sores so bad they required surgery.

Then it was discovered he was one of a small number of British soldiers who may have been given contaminated blood. He was awarded £57,587

Source: Times Online

Monday, 30 November 2009

How obscene that NHS bosses get rich as patients needlessly die on their watch

The crisis over standards of NHS care appears to be worsening almost by the day.

Figures published in the latest Hospital Guide from the part-NHS, part-private Dr Foster organisation show that 12 hospital trusts including those with 'foundation' status are 'significantly underperforming' - including nine which had been rated good or even excellent by the NHS watchdog, the Care Quality Commission.

A further 27 are said by Dr Foster to have had unusually high mortality rates, generally considered a warning sign of care or treatment inadequacies.

True, comparative statistics like these are a minefield, and using death rates as a marker of performance can be misleading. But only a few days ago, horrific conditions were revealed at Basildon NHS Trust - which Dr Foster states has the worst mortality rates in the country.

Care Quality Commission inspectors found blood-spattered walls and filthy conditions with brown running water, mouldy bathrooms and soiled furniture and commodes.

It is hardly surprising that more and more people are beginning to fear that, far from curing their diseases, a stay in an NHS hospital might actually kill them.

Full article in Daily Mail

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Patients are paying the ultimate price for NHS targets

By Daily Mail Comment
Last updated at 9:08 PM on 27th November 2009

In the rush to clear themselves of blame for the needless deaths of more than 70 patients on the filthy, blood-splattered wards of Basildon Hospital, ministers insisted the scandal was an 'isolated case'.

Never mind the fact the Government's own Care Quality Commission inspectors had rated this supposedly elite foundation hospital as good, and awarded it 13 out of 14 for cleanliness.

Of course, it wasn't long before another 'isolated case' came along at Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust, where the chairman was sacked for presiding over an equally alarming death rate and excessive waiting times in A&E.

Now, shockingly, it emerges that, across the NHS, there are 26 hospitals with higher than expected death rates, in which 3,000 patients may have suffered unnecessary deaths.

The sheer scale of human misery at the hands of an NHS which devours £2billion a week is deeply depressing.

Let's be clear: the Mail has huge admiration for the self-sacrificing dedication of many NHS staff.

But the hands of these professionals have been tied by a Government target and inspection regime which is stultifying individual responsibility.

Too often patients come a sorry second to Whitehall targets. And, as it emerged this week, too often hospitals are only cleaned on the handful of days when inspectors are due.

Doctors, nurses and cleaners work not as one, but as isolated, box-ticking units fulfilling ever more regulatory demands.

The dead hand of central Government control is ruining the NHS. And the patients are paying with their lives.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Payout over veteran neglect death

The family of a Leeds war veteran who died from horrific bed sores after a series of care failings have been paid £20,000 by a hospital trust.

Kenneth Ballinger, 86, was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary after a fall but died from multiple infected bed sores - one the size of a fist.

His daughter said she was haunted by her father's screams of agony.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said mistakes were made and an out-of-court settlement was made with the family.

Mr Ballinger, a veteran of the World War II Normandy landings, was admitted to hospital in January 2006 after a fall at his home in Beeston.

He became infected with a superbug and later developed bed sores so severe that his left hip bone became exposed and he was left with no skin on his heels.

He was discharged but died five months later after the bed sores became infected and he was admitted to Pontefract General Infirmary.

His daughter Carol-Ann Knott said: "I'll be forever haunted by his screams as my father was brought up in the lift at Pontefract General Infirmary.

"The doctors were so appalled that he had been allowed to get in such a state, with a sore so big one of them could fit his fist into the open wound.

"He said that he had never seen anything like it in his life."

Full story can be read on BBC website

Saturday, 14 November 2009

'The NHS must stop killing dementia patients with drugs'

Friday, November 13, 2009

A government commissioned report has highlighted the practice of giving people with dementia antipsychotic drugs as a form of chemical restraint and says it is responsible for around 1,800 deaths a year

Up to two thirds of people with dementia who are given antipsychotic drugs as a form of chemical restraint don't need them, a new report has said. The practice of giving dementia sufferers drugs that are licensed to tackle schizophrenia is said to be "scandalous" and lead to around 1,800 deaths a year.

Campaigners have called for such over prescription of drugs to end and the Department of Health's plan is for prescriptions to be cut by two thirds in three years. This action follows an independent review by King's College London Professor Sube Banerjee which was commissioned by the Department of Health and showed that too many people with dementia were routinely prescribed antipsychotic drugs to treat aggression and agitation. This flies in the face of guidance from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The plan to tighten procedures up on drugs for people with dementia includes creating a new national clinical director for dementia, offering people with dementia and their carers access to psychological therapies to tackle the root cause of agitation and aggression, an audit to agree on definitive prescribing figures and clear local targets to cut antipsychotics use as a result of the audit.

There are also proposals for better regulation, closer collaboration with the General Medical Council (GMC) and royal colleges to make sure all health and social care staff have specialist training in dementia, and joint Department of Health /Alzheimer's Society guidance on what to do if a family member is given antipsychotics.

However, antipsychotics drugs are deemed by the medical profession to be appropriate for people with dementia in certain circumstances, such as when a person is a risk to themselves or others and where all other methods have been tried. But they should only be given them for a short time of say three months while a care plan is put in place, the report said. Banerjee estimated that about 36,000 of the 180,000 patients with dementia who are given these drugs get some benefit from them.

Care services minister Phil Hope commented: "It is unacceptable that antipsychotic drugs are routinely prescribed to people with dementia. More than half of people with dementia will experience agitation or aggression at some point, but NICE guidance is clear – antipsychotics should only be given when this is really necessary.

"Excellent examples of practice do exist, but our action plan will help make sure this is the norm, not the exception. Our new clinical director will provide strong leadership, supporting the NHS and social care to reduce antipsychotics use carefully and drive up quality."

He added: "We know there are situation where antipsychotic drug use is necessary – we're not calling for a ban, but we do want to see a significant reduction in use. We expect the findings and recommendations [of this report] to be taken into account by PCTs [Primary Care Trusts] and all other relevant organisations. Tackling the root of the problem is vital, which is why we are improving access to psychological therapies. We are also working with the Royal Colleges to ensure all health and social care professionals are able to care for people with dementia without routinely resorting to these drugs."

Banerjee said: "Antipsychotics are used too often in dementia; up to two thirds of the estimated 180,000 people with dementia receiving these are prescribed them unnecessarily. This review identifies the potential risks and benefits of these medications in dementia and presents actions that we can take to address this problem. In doing so we would provide international leadership in this complex clinical area as well as improving the quality of life and quality of care for people with dementia and their carers in England."

Neil Hunt, the chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, called the report "long awaited" and welcome because it finally brought out into the open the scale of the problem within the NHS.

"The scandalous over prescription of antipsychotic drugs leads to an estimated 1,800 deaths a year," he said. "It must end."

Stressing that the government's action plan could not afford to fail, he went on: "Change will only be achieved with commitment from government, PCTs and health professionals and clear local targets. Today must mark a change in dementia care."

There are currently 700,000 people in the UK with dementia and this is expected to increase to a million in the next 10 years as the proportion of elderly people in the population rises.
Source: publicservice.co.uk

Monday, 9 November 2009

Fears over child protection at one third of NHS trusts

More than 140 NHS trusts have been challenged over the adequacy of their child protection procedures by the Care Quality Commission in the wake of the Baby Peter scandal.

By Andrew Gilligan

Trusts are responsible for declaring whether they meet basic standards for child protection as part of the health service's annual inspection process.

This year, 363 of England's 392 trusts - over 90 per cent - declared that they met the standard.

But in a special review commissioned after Baby Peter's murder, the watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has challenged the claims made by 112 trusts. Eighteen of them - including the main GP service in Manchester - have already been marked down by the watchdog, with other investigations "ongoing."

Internal NHS documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph show the CQC review uncovered "significant lapses" in child protection that "trust boards should have been aware of, but did not take into consideration when making [their] declarations."

The documents say that the CQC review has uncovered "clear evidence" which "conflicts with the 2008/9 declarations made by trusts."

In addition to the 112 trusts whose claims have been questioned, a further 29 trusts admitted that they fell below the standard. They include hospitals, mental health trusts and primary care trusts, which run GP services and health centres.

Cynthia Bower, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, said: "We make no apologies for coming down hard on trusts not meeting the standard on safeguarding children. Baby Peter was a wake-up call for the NHS. Some trusts have realised they've got more to do than they previously thought. In other cases we needed to bring shortfalls to their attention."

Baby Peter, now named as Peter Connolly, died of multiple injuries in August 2007. He was a patient at a child abuse clinic at St Ann's Hospital, Haringey, north London, and had been seen eight times by NHS staff in the month before his death.

At his last visit to the clinic, two days before he died, the paediatrician examining him sent him home after failing to notice that he had a broken back. The 17-month-old was found dead in his blood-stained cot with eight broken ribs, severe lacerations to his head, a tip of a finger missing, broken teeth, missing nails, and scores of bruises, cuts and abrasions, including a deep tear to his left earlobe, which had been pulled away from his head.

Full article in the Telegraph

Monday, 2 November 2009

'3,000 a year die’ in cancer shambles

THREE thousand Britons a year die because of a lack of lung cancer treatment, it emerged yesterday.

Vital areas of care are "woefully inadequate" and there are shortages of key surgical staff, according to new research.

A review has revealed a shambolic postcode lottery where treatment varies from one part of Britain to another.

In some areas, fewer than one in TEN patients get any kind of treatment at all and there are "huge variations and vast inequalities" in others, the UK Lung Cancer Coalition reported after a review of services.

There are only 44 thoracic surgeons - specialists in chest problems including lung conditions - spread thinly over 240 cancer teams.

The NHS is failing to fast-track thousands of patients to consultants every year or prescribe them life-prolonging drugs.

And a third of people stricken by lung cancer never have biopsies carried out.

Dr Mick Peake, head of the UKLCC's clinical advisory group, said: "Alarmingly, patients who are fit for surgery are being turned down.

"We are calling for a 70 per cent active treatment rate across the board, which would mean a massive reduction in the number of deaths. Up to 3,000 lives could potentially be saved each year."

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK with around 39,000 diagnosed each year.

The UKLCC's chairman Dame Gill Oliver said: "We are still letting down lung cancer patients."
Source: The Sun

NHS is paying millions to gag whistleblowers

Patients' lives put at risk by tactics used against those who highlight safety fears

By Nina Lakhani

Sunday, 1 November 2009

NHS whistleblowers are routinely gagged in order to cover up dangerous and even dishonest practices that could attract bad publicity and damage a hospital's reputation.

Some local NHS bodies are spending millions of taxpayers' money to pay off and silence whistleblowers with "super gags" to stop them going public with patient safety incidents. Experts warn that patients' lives are being endangered by the use of intimidatory tactics to force out whistleblowers and deter other professionals from coming forward.

The IoS has learnt of children in Stoke-on-Trent needlessly losing organs after safety issues highlighted by a senior surgeon – who was suspended after coming forward to voice concerns – were ignored. In one of more than 20 serious incidents, a newborn baby girl needed an ovary removed after a standard procedure to remove a cyst was delayed because of staff shortages.

According to Public Concern at Work (PCaW), two-thirds of doctors, nurses and other careworkers are accepting non-disclosure clauses built into severance agreements, in order to avoid years of suspension, financial ruin, incriminations and distress before a case reaches court. The details of these claims, including allegations of dangerous practice, dishonesty and misconduct, are never disclosed to the public.

However, judges are also failing the public by agreeing to NHS gagging orders when presiding over whistleblower cases in court. Such orders leave future patients exposed to poor practice, while past ones remain unaware that they may have been a victim, says Dr Peter Wilmshurst, consultant cardiologist at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

This evidence of widespread gagging comes amid government insistence that whistleblowers are fully protected under the 1998 Public Interest Disclosure Act, which made it illegal for NHS trusts and other public bodies to include confidentiality clauses preventing the disclosure of information that is in the public interest.

Dr Richard Taylor, Independent MP for Wyre Forest and a member of the Health Select Committee which condemned the lack of support for whistleblowers in its recent patient safety inquiry, will this week call for an adjournment debate on the issue. Two "terrified" local doctors have recently approached Dr Taylor after their concerns about patient safety in the out-of-hours GP service were not taken seriously.

Francesca West, a policy officer at PCaW, which provides legal advice to whistleblowers, said: "Bad employers are using super gags to hush up problems rather than sort them out, and many people feel scared and pushed into accepting these terms. That's why we are pushing for these settlement claims to be made public so we can identify problems and hold employers accountable. But why are judges allowing gagging orders through their courts anyway?"

The introduction of the 1998 Act was hailed as a huge step forward. Yet whistleblowers still risk facing "trumped up" allegations of misconduct, improper behaviour or mental illness if they feel compelled to voice concern. Margaret Haywood, for example, a nurse who filmed undercover to expose shocking care of elderly patients in Sussex, was struck off for breaching patient confidentiality, even though no patient or relative complained. She was reinstated by the High Court last month after widespread public outrage at her dismissal.

According to Peter Gooderham, lecturer in law and bioethics at the University of Manchester Law School, there are too many legal hurdles to jump over for a whistleblower to ensure their full protection. "The legal protection for whistleblowers does not work. The NHS is littered with whistleblowers whose lives have been damaged or destroyed. For protection, the whistleblower must have a reasonable belief in their accuracy, and the disclosure must be made in good faith. A whistleblower may not understand what 'reasonable belief' and 'good faith' mean, and indeed may not wish to run the risk that a court or tribunal might find against them on these points. I question whether these legal hurdles are necessary where patient care is threatened. A lot of tactics used are too subtle for the law; threats and bullying work for trusts, so they continue to be used."

The British Medical Association has opened 15 new whistleblowing cases in the past three months, and more than 200 doctors have rung its helpline since July 2009. Around a third of 1,700 Public Interest Disclosure Act claims each year involve workers in health and social care, many of which take years to resolve.

According to Dr Wilmshurst, one doctor was recently vindicated by a court, five years after raising the alarm about the misconduct of a more senior colleague. The trust agreed to pay compensation and the five years of lost salary on condition the doctor agreed to a gagging clause. The doctor, now broke, exhausted, career in tatters, had no option but to accept the terms, even though it means the public will never find out what happened.

In another case, the IoS has learnt of more than 20 senior doctors and nurses being warned against supporting the claims of a whistleblowing colleague, as this would place them in breach of their employment contract.

Mr Shiban Ahmed (see below), a paediatric surgeon employed by University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, has been suspended on full pay since March after raising the alarm about botched operations on children and unnecessary delays in treatment. A senior colleague has told the IoS about a relentless "campaign" by the trust managers to discredit Mr Ahmed among his colleagues.

The trust said it would always encourage staff to raise issues internally first, but has not and would not prevent staff talking to the media or external parties about patient safety concerns or governance issues.

Peter Bousfield: Gagged and pushed out

In 2007 Dr Peter Bousfield, a consultant gynaecologist and former medical director at Aintree Hospitals Trust in Liverpool, felt forced to accept early retirement, with a gagging clause attached, after his concerns about insufficient staffing levels and patient safety at Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust were ignored for years.

Dr Bousfield repeatedly reported delayed operations, overcrowded clinics and inadequate staffing levels to the medical director and chief executive from 2002. He was pushed towards early retirement in 2006, as an allegation of bullying was made against him – though it was not formally investigated.

He was subsequently threatened with a court injunction by lawyers acting for the trust if he ever took his concerns about patient safety to his MP or the media.

His story came to light when his son, Andrew Bousfield, a non-practising barrister, was referred to the Bar Standards Board by the trust after he tried to represent his father in correspondence.

The trust last night said it was satisfied the terms of the compromise agreement, which included the confidentiality agreement, have not stopped Dr Bousfield raising concerns with the appropriate regulatory bodies.

Nina Lakhani
Full article in The Independent

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Patients who wait too long will get private care on the NHS

By Tom Baldwin and Sam Lister

Patients who do not get the treatment that they need from the NHS within 18 weeks are to be given the legal right to free private care.

The Cabinet agreed this week that the legislation, placing maximum waiting times on the statute book for the first time, should be rushed through Parliament before the next election.

Cancer patients, in particular, will receive funding for private treatment if they have not seen an NHS specialist within two weeks of GP referral.

Downing Street says that the two legal rights, which will be unveiled in next month’s Queen’s Speech, are designed to entrench the dramatic reduction of NHS waiting lists over recent years — as well as allowing Gordon Brown to “throw down the gauntlet” to the Conservative Party in the election campaign.

With NHS budget growth likely to be sharply curtailed whichever party is in power, No 10 believes that the legislation will prevent waiting lists drifting back up.

“This will send a strong ‘no turning back message’ to voters,” a senior government source said. “David Cameron will have to decide whether he wants to repeal this measure and take rights away from patients.”

The Tories have promised to phase out all NHS targets, including those for waiting times, saying that patients should make “informed choices” about their care without hospitals being forced into a straitjacket of government regulation. “Labour always focuses on the process while we think what really matters is whether you are better after your treatment,” a Conservative spokesman said.

Patients are currently offered a choice from a range of NHS, independent and private provision only at the outset of their treatment. They are obliged to stick with that decision even when their treatment is delayed beyond the existing target time limits.

The new rules will allow people to switch to a different hospital, including those in the private sector, if they have been made to wait longer than 18 weeks for treatment by a specialist after seeing their family doctor.

When Labour policy documents published this summer first raised the prospect of a legal entitlement on waiting times, ministers had still not agreed on the timing of legislation and the enforcement mechanism.

The Queen’s Speech on November 18, setting out the Government’s legislative programme for the final months before the election, will promise that the measure for England and Wales will be in place within months.

Ministers plan to issue executive regulations that turn key waiting time pledges from the new NHS constitution into legally binding rights. Downing Street suggested yesterday that although parliamentary approval was not needed to amend the Health Bill, MPs were likely to be given a vote.

Draft legislation is understood to say that primary care trusts must monitor whether patients are languishing in the queue and inform them of their rights for alternative provision. The trusts will be required to “take all reasonable steps” to ensure patients are treated immediately either by the NHS or the private sector.

According to the latest figures from August, about 37,000 patients had not received treatment from an NHS specialist within 18 weeks of their GP referral. There are legitimate clinical explanations for some — and others are caused by patients cancelling their own operations to go on holiday — but officials believe that about half have been “failed by the system”.

Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, told Cabinet colleagues this week that the new legislation would mean that underperforming hospitals would lose funding from patients going elsewhere and “act as a powerful challenge for them to raise their game”.

Jennifer Dixon, of the Nuffield Trust, said the plans could be seen as “Tory-proofing” the NHS. “It would not only give patients enforceable health care entitlements but it would also prevent managers and clinicians from controlling waiting times as a way of limiting demand and saving money,” she said. “In the past requirements to make financial savings often resulted in hospitals stopping routine surgery for a couple of months before the end of the financial year.”
Source: Times Online

Friday, 16 October 2009

Watchdog vows to get tough on NHS

One in eight NHS trusts has been told it must urgently improve the care it provides, by a new regulator publishing ratings on England's 392 trusts.

The assessments by the Care Quality Commission show a drop in the number of hospitals meeting basic standards in areas such as hygiene and safety.

But it also said more services than ever could be rated good or excellent.

From April, the CQC will gain new powers to be able to shut any of the 47 underachieving trusts down.

Rigorous assessment

The new commission, which took over the watchdog duties of the old Healthcare Commission earlier this year, pointed out a number of successes in its report.

These included what it called the notable achievement of most patients in England receiving hospital treatment within 18 weeks.

The government said this was the most rigorous assessment the NHS had ever seen.

NHS Ratings Health Minister Mike O'Brien said the report showed improving standards across the health service.

"We have transformed the waiting experience for millions of patients and now have the shortest waits on record. MRSA and C. difficile infections have been significantly reduced and over three quarters of GP surgeries are providing extended opening hours, giving patients greater choice and more convenient access to GPs."

But shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said the report showed the government was unable to "turn round poor performers".

"Many staff are doing a great job in keeping up high standards but we cannot allow that to obscure the fact that there has been poor performance in some very important areas in the NHS, such as maternity and stroke services.

"And it is unacceptable that the number of patients who have had their operations cancelled has risen so sharply."

The CQC looked at every type of NHS trusts, including acute, mental health, primary care and ambulance.

More than half of primary care trusts were rated good or excellent, with many patients reporting being able to get an appointment within two days and services such as chlamydia screening for young people improving.

There were, however, significant regional variations, with trusts in London performing particularly poorly on patient satisfaction with appointments and opening times.

Fewer mental health trusts were rated excellent or good, and some struggled to meet new criteria on collecting data about services. Ambulance services also failed to perform as well as last year, but the CQC nonetheless praised the general response to emergency calls.

But much of the focus is on hospitals: fewer acute and specialist trusts were rated excellent, with more receiving an unimpressive fair grading.

Based on a system of self-reporting, there was a significant drop in the number of acute trusts fully meeting basic standards such as those relating to hygiene, child protection and training: this was down to 59% of all trusts from 69% last year.

Many also failed to meet new performance targets, such as the collection of maternity data to help improve services, and stroke care.

The number of operations cancelled rose for the second year in a row - equating to 63,000 procedures called off at the last minute for non-clinical reasons.

However a higher proportion are now being rearranged within 28 days of the original appointment, and the figure also reflects the much higher number of people now receiving treatment.

Waiting times for treatment have fallen to 18 weeks or less this year, one of the achievements highlighted by the regulator.

It also noted that 98% of the 19 million patients who attended A&E waited less than four hours, while rates of the infections Clostridium difficile and MRSA had both fallen by about a third - despite hospitals themselves reporting failings in hygeine.

While a number of trusts were singled out for praise - including the Royal Marsden, which has scored excellent every year for both quality and finance - the CQC said the focus now had to be on those which had performed persistently poorly.

Twenty trusts scored weak for overall quality, while 27 others have now never scored higher than fair for either quality or finance in the four years since the ratings system was started.

'Nuclear option'

Some particularly poor performing acute trusts were highlighted: Barking, Havering and Redbridge hospitals received a double weak rating, while the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust was deemed weak for the fourth year in a row.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust - which saw a deadly outbreak of clostridium difficile amid serious hygiene lapses between 2004 and 2006 - was rated weak for the third year in a row.

The CQC said it intended to work closely with these 47 trusts to sort out their problems ahead of April next year, when it will gain the power to intervene in every trust, from dealing out admonishments to potentially launching prosecutions and closing services down.

"But that would be the extreme nuclear option for any regulator," said CQC head Cynthia Bower.

"Trust are aware of what their issues are, so none of this is going to come as a surprise to them.

"There is an ongoing process of debate to sort these problems out by April, no-one is just waiting around."

The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson stressed that overall the report showed the NHS appeared to be performing well, but that it was unfortunate the ratings did not shed light on why some did well and some badly.

"Patients served by the hospitals and other services that consistently rank at the bottom have a right to know why these organisations are not providing the quality of services that is expected from them.

"We need to understand whether the problems are managerial or structural, and what is being done to help them raise their game."

Source: BBC News

Watchdog gets tough with patients too according to The Telegraph

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The devastating moment parents said goodbye to their son left severely brain-damaged by hospital blunders

This is the heartbreaking moment parents Johanne Rees and Krishna Govekar clutched their newborn baby boy for the last time, just minutes before being forced to switch off his life-support machine.

The parents said goodbye to son Arun, who had been kept alive for 10 days after his birth, after a catalogue of medical blunders left him severely brain-damaged.

The NHS was today ordered to pay the couple £160,000 compensation after midwives at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW), Cardiff, failed to spot the unborn child was in distress.

Ms Rees said today that she believed they would have had better care if she had given birth in her partner's home country of India.

During her ordeal one doctor even rejected Ms Rees' pleas that she had gone into labour, saying she simply needed the toilet.

The harrowing pictures, which were taken by another family member, were released through the couple's solicitor today to highlight their plight.

Ms Rees, 48, had been classed as having a 'high risk' pregnancy because she was aged 44 when she was due to give birth and had previously suffered a miscarriage.

Ms Rees had been admitted to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff 32 weeks into her pregnancy, in November 2005, with abdominal pains.

But she told how her labour was not properly monitored for more than two hours at. She said heart readings 'clearly showed' her unborn baby was in distress.

'I just couldn't understand why they weren't doing anything to help me and my baby,' she said.

'At my last antenatal visit I was told my baby was breech and I would need a caesarean section.

'It was a no-brainer - I knew my baby needed to be delivered urgently.

'I was screaming in agony and begging the midwives to get my baby out but they just left me.

'I couldn't believe it when a doctor arrived and said I wasn't ready to deliver but had probably eaten something that had disagreed with me and to try going to the toilet instead.'

An emergency caesarean was performed an hour-and-a-half later on a second doctor's recommendation.

Baby Arun was taken to the special baby care unit but had suffered irreversible brain damage.

The parents were not told the extent of their baby's health problems for five days. After spending four days with him they made the decision to switch off his life support machine.

Full article in Daily Mail
Also in Daily Mail: Boy, 10, awarded £7.1 million damages for birth blunders which left him brain-damaged

Monday, 12 October 2009

Nurse struck off by GMC for secretly filming neglect and abuse wins appeal

A nurse who was struck off the register for secretly filming care for the elderly at a Brighton hospital has won her battle to return to work.

The High Court approved a settlement between Margaret Haywood and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

The striking-off order imposed in April this year will be replaced with a one-year caution, which means she can now work as a nurse.

Ms Haywood filmed at the Royal Sussex Hospital for a BBC Panorama programme.

Footage from Ms Haywood's filming was broadcast in July 2005 and showed examples of neglect, including an elderly patient sitting in clothes he had soiled the night before.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council found her guilty of misconduct during a fitness to practise hearing and she appealed in May.

Ms Haywood, from Liverpool, said she was delighted with the verdict.

"Losing my registration after 25 years as a nurse was devastating," she said.

"I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the patient and public interest in my case and would like to thank everyone who has supported me, including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) for running my appeal.

Full article BBC News
Other posts on my other blog about Margaret Haywood

Some medical staff are struck off for secretly filming neglect and abuse in the NHS.

But Dr Gerry McCann, who is suspected of neglect and concealment of his own child's body, has the approval of the NHS to film - as long as it's for personal reasons.

And a doctor can work in the NHS even if suspected of paedophilia.

At Leicester Hospital, anyway.

Funny old world.

Well done Margaret!

NHS boss gave Birmingham Children's Hospital job reference for future fiancee

Oct 11 2009 by Jeanette Oldham, Sunday Mercury


THE boss of the NHS in England supplied two hospital job references for the woman who is now his fiancee, the Sunday Mercury can reveal.

David Nicholson, 52, recommended former assistant Sarah Jane Marsh, 32, for top posts at Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. But the NHS chief executive, who earns £207,000 per year, has denied the pair were in a relationship when he gave the high-flyer his professional backing.

Last week, we revealed that the divorced father-of-two had become engaged to Ms Marsh, who was recently appointed chief executive of Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH).

The attractive brunette has risen to the top tier of the NHS only ten years after graduating with a Master’s Degree. Her first ‘temporary’ job after leaving university in 1999 was as a complaints co-ordinator for a telesales firm. But after enrolling on the NHS Graduate Trainee Scheme in 2000 she became assistant general manager for trauma and orthopaedics at Worcester Hospitals NHS Trust.


But Mr Nicholson denied they were lovers at the time in a statement to the Sunday Mercury. He said: ‘‘As a former employer, I agreed to provide a reference for a position at Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust and the Chief Operating Officer position at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. We were not in a relationship then. I did not provide a reference for the Chief Executive post at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.”

Sources close to the divorced NHS chief claim the romance started around Christmas. In his statement Mr Nicholson admitted they had enjoyed a romantic trip early in the year. He said: “We went on holidays over New Year 2009. It was a private holiday, organised and paid for by both of us. We were not on NHS business, nor was any part of the trip paid for by the NHS.’’


Patients had endured delays in treatment and sub-standard care, youngsters having been redirected to other services. BCH chief executive Paul O’Connor resigned in March, two weeks before the report’s publication.

Ms Marsh was then promoted to interim chief executive of the trust. Her permanent appointment to the estimated £155,000-per-year post was made at the end of June.

As part of his NHS package, Mr Nicholson receives an allowance to rent a flat in London.

Full article can be read in Sunday Mercury


More from Birmingham Childrens hospital:

A BIRMINGHAM hospital paid a PR company £16,000 for just 20 days’ work to handle the fallout from a damning report.

Birmingham Children’s Hospital chiefs brought in two senior media consultants from LTA Communications at a cost of £16,387 when the trust was faced with heavy criticism in a Healthcare Commission report a month ago.

They paid out the equivalent of £86 an hour on the crisis team – despite already having three press officers who work full-time and have a combined salary of at least £100,000.

The money mirrors the annual salary of a junior nurse.

Today, the dad of a baby who died at the hospital described it as “a pathetic waste of money”.

Businessman Ayaz Ahmed, from ­Moseley, whose daughter Alesha died in intensive care after waiting more than two weeks for a bed said: “Spending £16,000 on spin doctors is a pathetic waste of money when ill children can’t even get a bed they need.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with the NHS at the moment, no one cares about lives. I could look at the books and tell them exactly how they should be spending their money.”

He claimed: “They made millions in profit last year yet they want donations for new units and are wasting money like this.”

The figures were obtained under a Freedom of Information Act inquiry by the Birmingham Mail after hospital bosses refused to disclose the figure.

The consultants “advised” and managed press interest as the Foundation hospital came under fire for a catalogue of failings from a severe shortage of beds, causing 70 sick children to be turned away every month, and poor staff training which meant theatre nurses could not recognise surgical equipment.

Martin Salter, director of communications at the hospital, said: “LTA Communications assisted our in-house team with the huge amount of interest in the Healthcare Commission report. Their daily rates have been market tested and are considered to be excellent value for money.”

Birmingham News

NHS plan nearly killed my mother

Oct. 11, 2009 (United Press International) -- A woman says she rescued her 80-year-old mother from starving to death in Hastings, England, under a National Health Service end-of-life protocol.

Christine Ball, 42, said she fought for weeks with staff members at Conquest hospital in Hastings to have her mother, Hazel Fenton, removed from a plan used by NHS officials to ease the suffering of dying patients, The Sunday Times of London reported.

"My mother was going to be left to starve and dehydrate to death," Ball said. "It really is a subterfuge for legalized euthanasia of the elderly on the NHS."

After being admitted to the hospital with pneumonia on Jan. 11, hospital medics determined Fenton only had days to live and stopped providing the elderly woman with artificial feeding and antibiotics as part of the care plan.

The Sunday Times said Ball eventually convinced doctors to resume artificial feeding for her mother and the senior citizen was later relocated to a nursing home.

"Patients' needs are assessed before they are placed on the (plan). Daily reviews are undertaken by clinicians whenever possible," an unidentified East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust spokesman said regarding the controversial plan.

Source: here

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Government Medicine Kills

Let’s compare America’s system with Canada’s and Great Britain’s.

By Deroy Murdock

As the Senate Finance Committee prepares to vote on its Obamacare bill, it would behoove senators to ask themselves why on Earth America should move even one inch closer to the government-driven health-care model that plagues Canadians and Britons. Thankfully, the Finance Committee bill lacks the government option for health insurance that sends liberal salivary glands gushing. Still, the bill is awash in mandates, regulations, subsidies, taxes, and plenty of other potential distortions that help make single-payer medical systems deadly.

That’s right. Deadly.

Compare America’s system with Canada’s and Great Britain’s. The latter are single-payer, universal health-care programs in which medical treatment is free at the point of service (Yay!), although citizens eventually pay for it through higher taxes (Boo!).

According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data, there were 26.6 MRI machines in the U.S. per million people in 2004. In Canada, there were 4.9 such devices, while Britain enjoyed 5. For every 100,000 Americans, 2006 saw 436.8 receive angioplasties. Among Canadians, that figure was 135.9, while only 93.2 Britons per 100,000 got that cardiac procedure.

Maybe that’s why, among American men, heart-attack deaths in 2004 stood at 53.8 per 100,000. In Canada, 58.3 men per 100,000 died of cardiac arrest, while coronaries buried 69.5 of every 100,000 British males.

The fatality rate for breast cancer, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis and Lancet Oncology, is 25 percent in the U.S., 28 percent in Canada, and 46 percent in Great Britain.

Among those diagnosed with prostate cancer, 19 percent die of the disease in America. In Canada, 25 percent of such patients succumb to this disease. And in Great Britain — an Anglophone NATO member and America’s closest ally — prostate cancer kills 57 percent of those who contract it. That is triple the American fatality rate.

This chart presents additional examples of how Canadians and Britons needlessly suffer and drop dead, thanks to government medicine:

The Senate Finance Committee should sink Obama-Baucuscare and instead craft a patient-friendly, pro-market, limited-government approach to health-care reform. Perhaps some senators cannot fathom the Hippocratic Oath’s key insight: First, do no harm. If that’s Greek to them, here it is in language they understand: First, don’t kill your voters.

Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Leicester Royal Infirmary doctor misdiagnosed hundreds of children over a 10 year period

Hospital 'sorry' for boy's death

The parents of a three-year-old boy who died after being given the wrong medication have received an apology and compensation from a Leicester hospital.

Royal Infirmary bosses have admitted Ryan Pitcher received "incorrect treatment" for epilepsy from Dr Andrew Holton, which led to his death in 1997.

Dr Holton misdiagnosed hundreds of children over 10 years at the hospital.

Ryan's parents Simon and Diane said concerns about Dr Holton should have been investigated earlier.

His parents, of Heather, near Coalville, described Ryan as "like a zombie" on the medication he was prescribed.

Investigations by the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust found Dr Holton ignored the advice of other consultants, who said Ryan's dosage should be decreased.

Mother Diane said: "It's devastating really. How do you live with knowing someone's killed your child, made them suffer for years?"

A report by an independent NHS inquiry team in 2003 found complaints were first made about Dr Holton almost three years before he was suspended.

Fifty-two children died while Dr Holton was practising, but Ryan's is the first death linked to the consultant paediatrician's treatment.

'Landmark case'

He was allowed to retrain and is still working in medicine.

A hospital spokesman said: "Ryan's case was very complex and it was investigated extremely carefully.

"On the basis of expert evidence, the trust accepts that Ryan's treatment and medication were incorrect.

"The trust is deeply sorry for what has happened and has made an unreserved apology to Ryan's parents."

The amount of compensation agreed has not been disclosed. The trust declined to say how many other families affected had received compensation.

Robert Rose, the solicitor representing the family, said: "All the official reports that we've had up until today have indicated there were no causes for concern for those children that died whilst under the care of Dr Holton.

"This in a sense is a landmark case because it shows there are real causes for concern."

Source: BBC News

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Deadliest month: As new doctors start in August, mortality rate in A&E departments rises by 6 per cent

If you're going to have an accident, you may want to avoid the first week of August. It is the most dangerous time to be admitted to accident and emergency, a study suggests.
Researchers found hospital mortality rates rise by 6 per cent on the first Wednesday in August.
Perhaps not coincidentally, that is also the day newly qualified doctors, fresh from medical school, are let loose on the wards of NHS hospitals.

Dr Paul Aylin, senior author of the study from the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College London, said: 'We wanted to find out whether mortality rates changed on the first Wednesday in August, when junior doctors take up their new posts.
'What we have found looks like an interesting pattern and we would now like to look at this in more detail to find out what might be causing the increase.

'Our study does not mean that people should avoid going into hospital that week. This is a relatively small difference in mortality rates, and the numbers of excess deaths are very low.
'It's too early to say what might be causing it. It might simply be the result of differences between the patients who were admitted.'
The rise in deaths could, however, be caused by inexperienced junior doctors finding their feet - at a time when senior doctors are also more likely to be on holiday.

Full article in Daily Mail

Mother-of-five died from overdose of chemotherapy drug after gross neglect by hospital

An inquest jury today ruled that a cancer patient died as a result of manslaughter by gross neglect after she was mistakenly prescribed a lethal dose of chemotherapy.
Dr Jacqueline James admitted earlier this week at Bristol Coroner's Court prescribing Anna McKenna, 56, quadruple the amount of a chemotherapy drug required for her bone marrow cancer treatment.
The mother-of-five was diagnosed with Myeloma in March 2006 and put on a four-day course of Idarubicin.
But instead of getting 60mg of the drug over the course of four days, she was given the same amount on each of the four days.
Mrs McKenna, a housewife from Knowle, Bristol, was left with very few white blood cells and her immune system was severely impaired.
She had been given around two years to live and treatment could have prolonged her life, the inquest heard.
She died on April 18, 2006, just three weeks after her first chemotherapy session, after she developed complications including fever and renal failure.
Today, the jury returned a verdict of 'manslaughter by gross neglect'.
Mrs McKenna's husband David, a retired engineer, was in court to hear Dr James's evidence this week, during which the consultant said she was 'very sorry' the mistake was made.

Her error was not the sole factor in the tragedy, as staff at the pharmacy at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol failed to screen the dosage or challenge the figures.
Pathologist Dr Hugh White, who carried out the post mortem, said in a statement: 'Instead of being given 15mg over four days she was given four times this on each of the four days.

'Records show she had a normal white blood cell count, but following the chemotherapy she had vomiting, diarrhoea and pain.'
Shortly after the error, another patient was also given an overdose.
The hospital trust has now introduced several 'robust measures' to tighten up prescription screening practices, including having two pharmacists looking at each one.

Source: Daily Mail

Monday, 21 September 2009

Mum's heartbreak after NHS blamed for baby's death

A mother has spoken of the enduring heartbreak after her baby died from massive head injuries just hours after being born at a Kent hospital.

Carla and Johnny Bradbrook said their son Joshua died “suffering and in pain” at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford following a series of errors in his delivery.

Since his birth in June, 2005, his parents and clinical negligence specialists Irwin Mitchell have fought a protracted legal battle, which saw Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust finally admit liability for his death in December last year.

Mrs Bradbrook, 31, said that after the General Medical Council’s recent decision to dismiss their claim against the doctor who delivered Joshua they wanted to speak out and highlight their horrific experience.

“It is just the worst thing that could happen to anybody,” she said. “When you go full term you expect to have a baby.

“Labour and delivery is never the most normal thing to experience but he suffered, he was in pain and that is something we imagine and something that never goes away.”

The couple remain haunted by the fact their son was born with fractures to both sides of his skull after several attempts were made to force the birth with both a suction device and forceps.

But even after the trust admitted liability for his death, the GMC advised it would would not re-open its investigations because there were insufficient prospects of establishing that Dr Mohlala, the registrar who oversaw the birth, was unfit to practice.

Mrs Bradbrook said it was her first child and the couple put their trust completely in the doctor and nurses during labour.

“We feel people should be aware that these things happen. You cannot just put 100 per cent faith in doctors.”

Full article: Kent News

NHS nurse faces the sack for wearing her crucifix

Monday September 21,2009

By Cyril Dixon

A CHRISTIAN nurse is facing the sack for refusing to take off a cross around her neck – because it poses a “risk” to patients.

Devout Shirley Chaplin, 54, has worn the tiny one-inch crucifix ­since she started working at the hospital 31 years ago.

But NHS bosses now insist the silver cross is a health and safety risk and she must remove it.

They claim the necklace could endanger her or a patient if it was grabbed.

However, the hospital does accommodate other faith ­symbols, such as Muslim nurses’ head scarves.

Full article: Daily Express

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

NHS 'failed' over cannibal killer

NHS failures contributed to two people being killed by a man with schizophrenia after he was freed from a secure hospital, two inquiries suggest.

Peter Bryan, 39, of east London, killed a friend and ate parts of his brain in 2004 - two years after being released from Rampton, in Nottinghamshire.

He then went on to kill a patient after being sent to Broadmoor.

The independent reports into the deaths said while Bryan was a unique case, more should have been done to stop him.

The inquiries, carried out for NHS London, the body which oversees health services in the capital, blamed system failures instead of individuals for the mistakes.

However, they acknowledge he was a difficult case because he could go through long periods without showing any signs of overt mental illness.

Bryan was first sent to Rampton secure hospital after beating 20-year-old shop assistant Nisha Sheth to death with a hammer in 1993.

In 2002 he was released into the community after applying to a mental health tribunal and allowed to live as a care in the community out-patient.

He was sent to a hostel where residents have their own front door and room key.

But after an allegation of an indecent assault on a 17-year-old girl, Bryan was sent back to hospital, but this time he was only an informal patient on an open ward at Newham General Hospital in east London.

In February 2004, he walked out of the unit and killed his friend Brian Cherry, 45, before frying and eating parts of his brain. He had also started to dismember the body.

He was arrested and after appearing in court was sent to another secure hospital, Broadmoor.

Within weeks of arriving, Bryan attacked fellow patient, Richard Loudwell, 59, who later died.

In court, he pleaded guilty to killing both men on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

One psychiatrist who interviewed Bryan concluded that he was "probably the most dangerous man he had ever assessed".

Full article: BBC News

Doctors left premature baby to die because he was born two days too early

By Vanessa Allen and Andrew Levy
Last updated at 7:50 AM on 09th September 2009

Doctors left a premature baby to die because he was born two days too early, his devastated mother claimed yesterday.

Sarah Capewell begged them to save her tiny son, who was born just 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy - almost four months early.

They ignored her pleas and allegedly told her they were following national guidelines that babies born before 22 weeks should not be given medical treatment.

Miss Capewell, 23, said doctors refused to even see her son Jayden, who lived for almost two hours without any medical support.

She said he was breathing unaided, had a strong heartbeat and was even moving his arms and legs, but medics refused to admit him to a special care baby unit.

Miss Capewell is now fighting for a review of the medical guidelines.

Full article in Daily Mail

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Agency that hired death doctor Daniel Ubani is handed fresh NHS deal

An agency that supplied the NHS with a doctor who killed a patient with a drug overdose has had its contract renewed.

Dr Daniel Ubani, 66, a German-registered medic originally from Nigeria, gave tragic David Gray 10 times the safe dose of diamorphine.

Mr Gray, 70, who had kidney stones and was in pain with colic, died shortly afterwards in February 2008.

Take Care Now, the agency that sent Dr Ubani is being investigated over its services in five care trust areas.

But NHS Cambridgeshire is extending its contract to provide them with out-ofhours doctors for two months. Lib Dem Cllr Geoff Heathcock said it was "worrying". The trust said it was to allow time for a "rigorous process" to procure service providers.
Source: Mirror.co.uk

Monday, 31 August 2009

Prisoners eat 'better' than NHS patients

Researchers have claimed the food provided in prisons is better than in NHS hospitals.

Experts from Bournemouth University examined the quality of food offered to prisoners and NHS patients.

They say people in hospital are losing out on nutrition because they are not being helped with eating or having their diet monitored.

A Department of Health spokesman said most patients were "satisfied with the food they receive in hospitals".

Professor John Edwards said about 40% of patients entering hospital were already malnourished, and this did not tend to improve during their stay.

"If you are in prison then the diet you get is extremely good in terms of nutritional content," he said.

"The food that is provided is actually better than most civilians have.

Full article: BBC News
All stories on this topic here

Thursday, 27 August 2009

'Cruel and neglectful' care of one million NHS patients exposed

Elderly patients must have proper care, Claire Rayner says

One million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain, according to a major report released today.

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Published: 12:01AM BST 27 Aug 2009

In the last six years, the Patients Association claims hundreds of thousands have suffered from poor standards of nursing, often with 'neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel' treatment.

The charity has disclosed a horrifying catalogue of elderly people left in pain, in soiled bed clothes, denied adequate food and drink, and suffering from repeatedly cancelled operations, missed diagnoses and dismissive staff.

The Patients Association said the dossier proves that while the scale of the scandal at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust - where up to 1,200 people died through failings in urgent care - was a one off, there are repeated examples they have uncovered of the same appalling standards throughout the NHS.

While the criticisms cover all aspects of hospital care, the treatment and attitude of nurses stands out as a repeated theme across almost all of the cases.

They have called on Government and the Care Quality Commission to conduct an urgent review of standards of basic hospital care and to enforce stricter supervision and regulation.

Claire Rayner, President of the Patients Association and a former nurse, said:“For far too long now, the Patients Association has been receiving calls on our helpline from people wanting to talk about the dreadful, neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel treatment their elderly relatives had experienced at the hands of NHS nurses.

“I am sickened by what has happened to some part of my profession of which I was so proud.

"These bad, cruel nurses may be - probably are - a tiny proportion of the nursing work force, but even if they are only one or two percent of the whole they should be identified and struck off the Register.”

Full article in Telegraph
All stories on this topic

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Man collapses with ruptured appendix... three weeks after NHS doctors 'took it out'

By Daniel Bates
Last updated at 12:15 AM on 26th August 2009

After weeks of excruciating pain, Mark Wattson was understandably relieved to have his appendix taken out.

Doctors told him the operation was a success and he was sent home.

But only a month later the 35-year-old collapsed in agony and had to be taken back to Great Western Hospital in Swindon by ambulance.

To his shock, surgeons from the same team told him that not only was his appendix still inside him, but it had ruptured - a potentially fatal complication.

In a second operation it was finally removed, leaving Mr Wattson fearing another organ might have been taken out during the first procedure.

The blunder has left Mr Wattson jobless, as bosses at the shop where he worked did not believe his story and sacked him.

Mr Wattson told of the moment he realised there had been a serious mistake.

'I was lying on a stretcher in terrible pain and a doctor came up to me and said that my appendix had burst,' he said.

'I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I told these people I had my appendix out just four weeks earlier but there it was on the scanner screen for all to see.

'I thought, "What the hell did they slice me open for in the first place?"

A spokesman for Great Western Hospital confirmed that a representative had met Mr Wattson and that an investigation had been started.

He was unable to confirm what, if anything, was removed in the first operation.
Paul Gearing, deputy general manager for general surgery at Great Western Hospital NHS Trust, said: 'We are unable to comment on individual cases.

'However, we would like to apologise if Mr Wattson felt dissatisfied with the care he received at Great Western Hospital.'

Compensation payments to NHS patients have risen by 20 per cent in the past year to a record high of £769million. At this rate more than £2million a day is being paid over claims against the Health Service.

Full article in Mail Online

Monday, 24 August 2009

Mother dies a year after being denied her daughter's kidney

By Chris Brooke
Last updated at 1:11 AM on 24th August 2009

A mother who was denied a kidney transplant from her dying daughter because of rules banning donor requests has died. Rachel Leake, 41, had been in hospital for three months with septicemia.

Her 21-year-old daughter Laura Ashworth had wanted to give her a kidney, but died in April last year before starting the process of becoming a 'living donor'.

Doctors then insisted her organs go to strangers at the top of the waiting list.

Full article in Daily Mail

Sunday, 23 August 2009

NHS staff paid overtime when off sick

NHS workers who take sick leave are claiming tens of millions of pounds a year in overtime and anti-social hours allowances while off work, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Published: 10:00PM BST 21 Aug 2009

More than one million NHS staff are paid well above their basic salary when they are ill under a contract which guarantees them a far better deal than those working in the private sector.

The generous terms mean that when they are on sick leave they receive full pay, plus a selection of benefits. These include supplements for unsocial hours and overtime for six months, with half pay for a further six.

The deal means when an NHS worker - such as an ambulance worker, nurse, porter, or midwife - goes off sick they are paid according to an average of their total pay for the previous three months, rather than just their basic salary.

In many cases, workers have boosted their income by working nights or extra hours, or are paid a ‘recruitment and retention’ bonus, which can add tens of thousands of pounds to the basic salary of a middle grade worker living in London.

The NHS has higher sickness rates than the rest of the public sector and enjoys the most generous terms and conditions while off work. The service loses 10.3 million working days annually due to sickness absence alone, costing £1.7 billion per year.

Critics have said the scheme is "morally and ethically wrong" and should be reviewed.

However, supporters said NHS workers are exposed to unique pressures, with 56,000 physically attacked each year, and they deserve to be looked after.

The news comes after a report this week found that, of the 1.4 million workers in the NHS, 4.5 per cent or 45,000 call in sick per day.

Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the sick pay terms should be reviewed, especially in light of the recession when all workers are being asked to make sacrifices.

He said the organisation has been 'caught out': "To have sick pay going for six months and include overtime and extra payments does seem to be overly generous; an employee in the private sector would not expect that.

“NHS staff do a sterling job and there is huge stress involved in the work but the pensions are good, the sick leave is good, it is not brilliantly paid, but there is security of tenure.

"In the private sector the stress comes with the fact the job may not be there the next day."

The average NHS worker takes 10.7 days off sick a year, compared with 9.7 days for the public sector as a whole and 6.4 days in the private sector.

The Telegraph has received allegations of NHS workers asking managers when their six months on full pay expires so they know when to return to work, people booking holidays and then taking sick leave to cover the time off, and posting photographs on Facebook of themselves out with their children while off sick.

The terms and conditions on sickness absence are included in the Agenda for Change contract which covers nurses, midwives, hospital porters, paramedics, ambulance workers and administration staff, but not doctors. The wage bill for the contract in England was more than £28bn in 2007/8, according to the National Audit Office.

Under the contract, full pay is paid for the first six months off sick and then a further six months at half pay after five years’ service. Before then, the length of paid time off is on a sliding scale.

Overtime, over the standard 37.5 hours a week, and unsocial hours, for working nights or weekends, is payable at time and a half with public holidays paid at double time, or lieu time can be requested instead.

Staff can also receive around £3,205 in 'recruitment and retention premia' where employers find it difficult to fill posts, while those in inner London are paid a 'high cost area supplement' worth 20 per cent of basic salary, to a maximum of £6,080.

In the private sector, standard sick leave normally includes a short period on full pay, around one month or six weeks, followed by statutory sick pay paid at £79.15 per week for people earning £95 or more. In many cases employees are automatically put on statutory sick pay, once they qualify - which is when they have been off sick for four days.

Dr John O'Sullivan, an occupational health consultant in the private sector, said the NHS terms were 'morally and ethically wrong' and there was little incentive for staff to return to work.

"This is taxpayers’ money. The NHS has the expertise to get people back to work but they just do not use it on their own staff."

The Health Service terms and conditions also eclipse other areas of the public sector: police receive full pay for six months and then half pay for a further six, but do not receive any overtime. Teachers get full pay for 25 days off sick then half pay for 75 days in their first year, rising to 20 weeks’ full pay and 20 weeks on half pay after four years working.

Neil Carberry, Head of Employment Policy at employers’ group, the Confederation of British Industry, said: “The inclusion of overtime and other extras makes this a more generous scheme than the private sector norm, and the overall approach in the NHS to the management of absence and long-term sickness is a real concern.

“Firms use occupational health provision to ensure all absence is genuine, and innovative rehabilitation policies that get people back to work sooner. The NHS should do the same.”

However, Sian Thomas, director of NHS Employers, said: “There is no evidence that withholding pay leads to increased efficiency and improved staff morale. In fact, it can be counter productive because it leads to feelings of resentment and de-motivation among all staff.

“In order to successfully tackle sickness employers need to address the long-term problem. In the NHS this includes preventing injury from lifting and handling, helping staff build up their emotional resilience and reducing physical and mental abuse from patients.”

A spokesman for Unison, the union, said overtime was “very much a thing of the past” : "We have to look after our NHS staff. If they are not fit and safe they cannot look after patients. If you go to any A&E department at night at weekends you can see the levels of violence and abuse staff face. Paramedics in particular are at risk of attack."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "Agenda for Change provides a fair pay system that recognises the dedicated work that over 1.1 million NHS staff do every day to help us deliver high quality patient care to all.

"We take the health of NHS staff seriously. The ongoing NHS Health and Wellbeing review is crucial to achieving our ambition to develop world class health and wellbeing services for all NHS staff.”