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