Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Dentist and wife jailed for NHS fraud

A DENTIST and his wife who stole more than £37,000 from the NHS by claiming cash for “phantom patients” were beginning jail sentences today .

Newton Johnson, 52, and his practice manager wife Judith, 51, added the names of dead relatives, ex-neighbours and even Varlo, the pet dog of Mr Johnson’s sister Karen Robinson, to their patients’ list. She was astonished to find her Hungarian Wire-Haired Vizsla listed at the Johnsons’ practice in Inkerman Street, Llanelli, under the name Varlo Robinson.

At Swansea Crown Court yesterday the dentist, who falsely tried to blame his sister for the string of thefts, was jailed for 21 months while his wife got 18 months. Both admitted a catalogue of thefts from the NHS.

May 21 2008 by Robin Turner, Western Mail

Link to article here.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

How the NHS 'sold' my PLACENTA to a luxury cosmetics firm instead of using it for medical research

An NHS hospital is handing over new mothers' placentas for use in the development of anti-wrinkle skin creams and luxury shampoo, the Daily Mail can reveal today.

The trade, which brought in £5,000 for Poole Hospital in Dorset last year, was condemned by politicians and health experts who said they were worried about the ethics involved.
And yesterday one woman, 39-year-old Donna Norman, told of her outrage when she realised that, following the arrival of her daughter Milly, the afterbirth was given to a biochemical company.

"I was under the impression that my placenta would only be used for vital medical research - not that it may help make some skin cream or shampoo," she said. "I feel violated by what I have been through. It feels like they stole it because it was all done on false pretences. It's from my body. "It's my DNA and I feel like they tricked it from me."

to article


Thursday, 15 May 2008

Long-term care: scandal continues as elderly fail to get care they need

Changes to State funding have maintained a postcode lottery which fails the frail.
The changes to the system, which were designed to prevent a postcode lottery for care funding by ensuring that all local authorities were working to the same criteria, have resulted in "the entire care system routinely failing older people and their families", according to charity Age Concern.

Its research shows that when local authorities were required to use the same criteria across the board, around 5,500 extra people should have qualified for continuing care funding – where you have a need which is medical, which qualifies you to have all your care paid for by the NHS. However, in reality far fewer people are now qualifying for care funding, and huge differences still remain in how many people are getting the care paid for depending on where they live.
Link to article by Alison Steed

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Asthmatic children 'victims of postcode lottery'

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Last Updated: 8:38PM BST 05/05/2008

Children with asthma are suffering from an NHS postcode lottery, with those in some areas eight times more likely to be taken in to hospital than others, figures show.
In England, asthmatic children in Liverpool were eight times more likely to end up in hospital after an asthma attack than those in Richmond, west London, according to a report by the charity Asthma UK.

Asthmatic children in deprived areas suffer more as they are less likely to take their medication and more likely to live with parents who smoke. The report said 30,000 under-15s were admitted to hospital each year after attacks, yet three quarters of these could have been prevented, saving the NHS £46 million a year.

All that was needed was regular contact with specialists, care plans drawn up by GPs and information on how to prevent attacks, said the charity.

Neil Churchill, the charity's chief executive, said the figures "must act as a wake-up call to health services and governments about the costs and consequences of unnecessary hospital admissions".

'NHS cleanliness not improving'

Patients believe cleanliness levels in NHS hospitals are not improving, the health watchdog has said.

The Healthcare Commission also found wide variations in patients' experience of cleanliness between health trusts in England.

Its patient survey reported "striking" differences between health service trusts on some areas of patient care. The biggest variations came in waiting for admission to hospital, mixed-sex wards, help with eating meals and food quality.

Around 75,000 adult patients were questioned at 165 trusts in the biggest survey of its kind. And for the first time, patients can now compare scores for NHS trusts on topics such as hospital food, cleanliness and levels of privacy.

The results revealed those rating their care as "excellent" went up from 41% in 2006 to 42% last year. Patients also reported slight improvements in how quickly they were admitted to emergency departments.

The best-performing hospital trust rated on how patients saw their overall level of care was The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital Trust in Shropshire. Bottom of table was Ealing Hospital NHS Trust in London.

The survey found the number of patients reporting their hospital was "very clean" fell from 56% in 2002 to 53% in 2007 and has not improved since last year. The best-performing trusts found around 80% of those asked said their room or ward was "very clean".

Fewer than half of patients reported lavatories and bathrooms were very clean. In the best trusts this figure was as high as 81% but in the worst was as low as 22%.

The survey found fewer patients than last year believed doctors and nurses always washed their hands between patients. At the worst performing trust, a quarter of those asked said they thought doctors did not wash their hands after examinations.

Around a quarter of people reported being in a mixed-sex ward when first admitted to hospital, and around a fifth when they moved wards. The figures showed slight improvements compared to last year.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Fury at ambulance cancellation for pacemaker baby

A BABY who became one of the world’s youngest pacemaker patients when he had a device fitted at just five days old was last night battling the superbug MRSA.

Three-month-old Liam King, of Cwm, near Ebbw Vale, was being treated with antibiotics last night in the Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital.

And the baby’s desperately concerned father, 26-year-old DJ Andy King, claimed yesterday an ambulance due to whisk Liam from Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny to Bristol for the MRSA treatment last Friday was cancelled “at the last minute”.

Full article here

NHS ‘postcode lottery’ forces ill man to move

A DESPERATELY-ILL cancer patient is planning to move from North Yorkshire to County Durham to get a drug on the NHS which could prolong his life.

The 51-year-old pipeline engineer - who has asked not to be named but lives in Malton - said he has had to consider moving to his former address, near Bishop Auckland, in an attempt to qualify for treatment with a drug called Tarceva.

It follows a decision by North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust to turn down his consultant's application for funding for the £20,000-a-year drug.

The North-East is the only region in England where the NHS will fund Tarceva. The drug is available in Scotland and most of Europe.

But the English drug watchdog, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice), recently indicated it is likely to reject the use of Tarceva on the NHS. Nice said the drug was not cost-effective. The drug has prolonged the lives of some patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

By Barry Nelson

Full article here

Cash starved NHS trust puts one nurse in charge of ward

One nurse was left in charge of an entire ward for the bank holiday weekend because an NHS trust was trying to save money, a health has union claimed.
Union leaders said they were considering reporting the trust to the professional standards body for nursing as the ward is supposed to have at least seven nurses.

There were also calls for Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, to intervene as patients fall victim to health service cuts.

The nurse was in sole charge of the 30-bed Kent ward, a mixed general ward, at Bridlington Hospital, East Yorks, over the most recent bank holiday weekend.

Article continues

Monday, 12 May 2008

Up to 5,000 beds facing axe in NHS cancer shake-up

The government plans to close up to 5,000 beds on cancer wards in a reorganisation of the way patients are treated, according to a report by experts in the disease.

Government figures show the National Health Service aims to save up to £500m a year from an “inpatient management programme” that it describes as preventing unnecessary hospital admissions and reducing the length of time patients spend in hospital.

Cancer doctors and health economists say the changes could make better use of money for cancer treatment but accuse the government of hiding the extent of the bed closures from the public.

Read the rest of the story here.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

NHS Whistleblower speaks out about the NHS

Senior mental health nurse Karen Reissmann was sacked last year after being found guilty of gross misconduct by Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust for speaking out against NHS cuts. Tom Haines-Doran catches up with her to ask about the latest in the campaign to have her reinstated

Read the interview here
Karen Reismann's campaign can be seen here

Saturday, 10 May 2008

How the NHS is letting my father die - by a top hospital consultant

Eye specialist Sarah Anderson works at York Hospital. Her father Ian has been refused Sutent, a new cancer drug, which could provide the only real chance of prolonging his life. Sarah, 40, lives in York with husband, Bill, a computer programmer and their twins, Douglas and Ryan, five.

As an ophthalmologist, I have spent my working life in the NHS. And for all its perceived failings, I have been proud of its fundamental role in our society - to provide equality of care for all.

Of course, I've heard the term postcode lottery but as a doctor I've only ever provided my patients with the best course of treatment available.

So when I've read about people being refused particular drugs simply because of where they lived, I've always believed there must be another reason - even if it wasn't immediately obvious at the time.

I never for a moment thought that a life could be decided by something as arbitrary as one's address.

Read the rest of the story here

Filipino whose wife died after blunder by NHS to be deported

By Jeremy Laurance
Saturday, 10 May 2008

A man whose wife died as a result of an NHS blunder has lost his right to remain in Britain, in what a coroner described yesterday as an "extraordinary" decision.

Arnel Cabrera, 39, came to Britain from the Philippines in 2003 to join his wife, Mayra, a theatre nurse, who worked at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

But a year later, Mrs Cabrera died at the same hospital after she was given an epidural during the birth of the couple's child which was mistakenly injected into her arm. The baby survived.

An inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing and found the NHS trust had been guilty of gross negligence. Now the Home Office has told Mr Cabrera he has failed in his bid to remain in the UK.

David Masters, the Wiltshire coroner who presided over the inquest, said yesterday: "This is extraordinary. In view of the verdict reached at the inquest I find it difficult to appreciate how the Home Office has reached this decision."

In its letter of refusal, the Home Office said Mr Cabrera had "not established a family life with his son in the United Kingdom". It added: "As his son remains in the Philippines there are no insurmountable obstacles to his family life being continued overseas."

Alex Rook, the solicitor who handled Mr Cabrera's immigration case, said: "This is an absolutely dreadful decision. If Arnel's wife had not been killed, the family would be living happily here. I will be writing to the relevant Home Office ministers asking them to reconsider their decision." He added: "His wife is killed by one part of the Government [the NHS], then Arnel is told by another part of the Government that he has to leave."

Mr Rook said Mr Cabrera had taken his son, Zac, to the Philippines to be looked after by family until the inquest and related legal proceedings had concluded in the UK, but it was always his intention to build a future in Britain.

Mr Cabrera's personal injury lawyer, Seamus Edney, also reacted with disgust. "I am staggered by this decision and embarrassed on behalf of our government," he said. "Arnel was permitted to reside in Britain on the basis that his wife was working – but when she is unlawfully killed by gross negligence by the NHS, he is told he is no longer welcome."

In a statement issued before Mr Cabrera lost his right to remain in the UK, he said he hoped the Government would show him "compassion". He added: "I have been unable to return to the Philippines during this difficult period and I desperately miss my young son, Zachary."

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "All applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK are carefully considered on their individual merits."

Calum Carr's battle with the NHS for treatment for his wife

Ellee asked in a reply to an earlier post if we had taken up the issue with our MP. My reply to her was so lengthy that I decided to make it into a complete post.

We have involved our MSP since health is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

An abbreviated timeline is shown below but fuller details can be seen here.

"On 5th July 2007 our MSP wrote a detailed letter to the Chief Executive of NHS Lothian.

On 19th August 2007 NHS Lothian replied but did not address any of the questions / major points raised but rather questioned some of the background information included by our MSP.

On 21st September 2007, our MSP wrote again.

On 21st November 2007, our MSP wrote once more chasing a reply.

During January 2008 our MSP's office phoned repeatedly but in their words, "We were given the run around."

On the 25th January 2008, NHS Lothian told the MSP's office that they would have a letter issued by early the next week."

On 25th March a reply - again unsatisfactory - was received.

We waited more than 6 MONTHS for a reply to our MSP's second letter.

We waited more than 8 MONTHS for answers to the issues raised in the MSP's first letter and have not yet received them.

There is no doubt in my mind that NHS Lothian has deliberately delayed its response and deliberately refused to answer the key questions but this begs the question, "Why on earth should they behave in this way?"

The only explanation which makes sense to me is that NHS Lothian believes that many (or all) of Mrs Carr's symptoms are escalating behaviours to get further treatment. A common method of dealing with such patients is to ignore them on the basis that to give credence to the symptoms only encourages the person to make more demands. This would explain why no-one has offered us an explanation either for her symptoms or her lack of treatment.

There is more evidence for the view that Mrs Carr's symptoms are not taken seriously. I found, on the web, that the NHS uses a particular self-reporting questionnaire for assessing depression levels in patients (PHQ-9). Twice Mrs Carr completed this form at home: once I gave a completed copy to Mrs Carr's GP and once to a hospital psychiatrist after a suicide attempt. Mrs Carr scored 23 and 25 (out of 27) respectively which is indicative of severe depression. On neither occasion was any interest shown in the results nor was any action taken. Interestingly, a few months later when I visited the same GP because I felt really down she gave me the PHQ-9 form to complete. Therefore, the form was worthy for me to complete but irrelevant for Mrs Carr's treatment despite the very high scores.

If the NHS believes Mrs Carr is escalating her behaviours, then she is still very ill and deserves to know her diagnosis and prognosis and to have treatment.

If the NHS is wrong, as I believe them to be, then Mrs Carr desperately needs the correct diagnosis and treatment but ....... since they won't talk to us we cannot accept nor reject their views and cannot get get a referral to an appropriate assessment and treatment centre.

I have spoken to 5 national treatment centres and all have said that Mrs Carr is the type of patient they should see but we can't access them. On the basis of two self-reporting questionnaires one centre said that Mrs Carr scored highly for the relevant disorders and should have a full assessment. This has been denied to Mrs Carr by NHS Lothian.

I should make clear that I am not taking the line that Mrs Carr has Disorder Z and that I won't rest until she is diagnosed with it. Her history and symptoms fit with Disorder Z; national experts believe she should be assessed for this disorder but NHS Lothian remains silent on their diagnosis and reasons. Until NHS Lothian is open and honest with us I will not rest. This is all I ever wanted; openness, honesty, trust in clinicians so that Mrs Carr has an opportunity to improve. What we have encountered is coldness, closedness, callousness, obfuscation, delay and a refusal to engage in any serious discussion of Mrs Carr's problems.

The minimum NHS Lothian should do is tell us the truth. Then we can either accept their version or fight it but by refusing to engage with us (or our MSP) they leave us struggling in a vacuum. How can we accept a diagnosis if no-one tells us what is the diagnosis? How do we challenge a diagnosis if no-one tells us what is the diagnosis. How do we fight for assessment if no-one tells us why they won't make a referral?

Even worse by not engaging with us Mrs Carr has been left ill and, apparently, unwanted, for an additional year with no likelihood of effective assessment or treatment and the rest of the family has been left with the stress of caring for Mrs Carr and of seeing her continue to suffer unnecessarily.

Also the trust which Mrs Carr should have in the NHS has been destroyed. How can she be expected to trust clinicians in the future when she has been treated so badly?

Let me say again, all I ever wanted was openness, honesty, truth and trust in clinicians so that Mrs Carr has an opportunity to improve but what we have encountered is coldness, closedness, callousness, obfuscation, delay and a refusal to engage in any serious discussion of Mrs Carr's problems.

The system has closed ranks against us.

The system is killing Mrs Carr.

Fight: I have no option.

Please help me.

Please help Mrs Carr.

Together we have a chance to force NHS Lothian to speak to us honestly and to view Mrs Carr as being ill and worthy of urgent treatment.

Calum's blog is here

Sunday, 4 May 2008

MRSA kills mother in hospital with ear infection

The family of a 39-year-old mother has spoken out after she was admitted to hospital with an ear infection, then died after contracting MRSA.
Shakuntala Pancholi, a civil servant, had developed the infection after routine surgery.
She was admitted to hospital but died from multi-organ failure 16 days later.
An inquest earlier this week ruled that she died of natural causes and yesterday her husband Suresh, 51, said: "She went into hospital with an ear infection, which is not life-threatening and then suddenly she is in a critical condition."

By Nick Britten
Last Updated: 2:14AM BST 03/05/2008