Sunday, 27 June 2010

"I think we've relied on an assumption that doctors, when they come out of medical schools, are competent to prescribe."

A seven-month-old baby boy died after doctors gave him 12 times the correct amount of anti-epileptic drugs he should have received in 24 hours, an inquest heard.
A mistake? A single doctor's error compounded by tiredness and overwork?

Well, not really:
Medical staff involved in his care, including a consultant paediatrician, a specialist registrar and a senior house officer, were suspended from prescribing medicine and could still face disciplinary action.
'Could'? In any other profession, that would be a 'will'...
After Lucas's death, the senior registrar was forced to take two prescribing tests but failed both.
If that's the senior registrar, can you imagine what the juniors are like?

Friday, 25 June 2010

Major deficiencies in artificial feeding, inquiry finds

There are major deficiencies in the way hospitals provide artificial nutrition to sick babies and adults, an inquiry has found.

A national safety watchdog found problems in three quarters of the intravenous feeding it cases examined. Complications were avoidable in half the adult patients reviewed, it said. Premature babies meanwhile were not always given the sustenance they needed, and delays were rife, the report added.

The report from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) looked at more than 1,000 cases of artificial - or parenteral - nutrition in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Liquid containing key nutrients pumped from a bag directly into a vein is given to patients who cannot digest food through the gut as a result of disease or surgery, or babies whose systems are not mature enough. A catalogue of problems were uncovered while reviewing questionnaires and case notes from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the "Mixed Bag" report found.

They included failure to ensure the catheter was inserted by a trained clinician under suitably sterile conditions, as well as lapses in monitoring and assessment...
Source: BBC

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Kent bug scandal NHS boss awarded damages

The former boss of a Kent NHS trust where 90 people died in a superbug outbreak has been awarded more than £190,000 in damages.

Rose Gibb went to the Court of Appeal in a legal battle over her severance pay. She left her job days before a report into a clostridium difficile (C. diff) outbreak at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was released...

The trust negotiated a £250,000 pay-off, but £175,000 was withheld. Ms Gibb left her £150,000-a-year chief executive post in October 200... The report concluded the infection was the main cause of death for 90 patients in 2007.
Source: BBC

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

'Voyeur' GP admits fondling staff and installing webcam in series of sex and alcohol-related complaints before GMC

A voyeuristic GP fondled his nurses and receptionists, installed a web cam in his surgery and watched porn on office computers, it was claimed yesterday.

Dr Ralph Vadas also turned up to work drunk and was caught pleasuring himself in the surgery kitchen, the General Medical Council was told.

The doctor has admitted putting his hand up a receptionist's jumper and telling her he was 'falling in love with her'.

Over four years between 2004 and 2008, Vadas watched porn on computers at the West Canford Health Medical Centre in Poole, Dorset. As part of this 'sexually motivated' behaviour he stockpiled images at the surgery in 2007, it is claimed.

Vadas now faces 60 charges relating to his sexual conduct and his alleged inadequate treatment of eight patients over 12 years.

Allegations relating to the GP's abuse of alcohol will be heard in private but the General Medical Council has heard the doctor 'was under the influence of alcohol on occasions' at the surgery between February and October 2007.

He had agreed to abstain completely from alcohol in September 2006 but lied to his supervisors about a drinking binge the following February.

Vadas has admitted that this conduct was inappropriate and dishonest.

The allegations of sexual touching refer to two nurses and two receptionists between August 2003 and 2007.

He has admitted touching a district nursing sister's buttocks 'without her consent' on August 26, 2003, but denies touching her hip. A further nurse claims the doctor touched her stomach 'without her consent'.

One receptionist reported that he touched her bottom and another said he put his hand up her jumper and said he was falling in love with her.

He has admitted installing a web cam in his surgery pointed towards the area where patients would sit, but denied masturbating in the surgery kitchen in April 2008.

It is further alleged his treatment of eight patients was 'inadequate' between 1996 and 2008.

On one occasion in March 2003, Vadas told a patient complaining of 'crushing pain' in his chest and trouble breathing to drive himself to hospital, it is claimed.

For the next four years he treated the man for angina without carrying out an adequate review of his medication, cholesterol level of blood pressure, it is said.

Vadas also prescribed his wife the powerful painkiller pethidine over nine years but did not attempt to wean her off it after she became addicted. Instead he prescribed morphine injections 'when it was not clinically indicated', the hearing was told.

When her husband queried whether she should drive while using morphine, Vadas told him it was up to him to decide if she was fit enough.

The GP denies any wrongdoing over his prescription of steroids to another patient over 12 years.

Another woman was prescribed the contraceptive pill for four years without annual reviews of her weight and blood pressure, it is claimed.

Vadas denies this conduct was inadequate.

A second woman was also prescribed an oral contraceptive which was 'contraindicated' and no reasons were recorded.

In February 2008 the doctor diagnosed a woman with iron deficient anaemia but failed to rule out bleeding as a cause of her problems, the GMC was told.

Vadas denies this was inadequate but admits failing to keep adequate records.

A further patient was prescribed a series of drugs for high cholesterol and high blood pressure but was not properly monitored, it is alleged. Vadas then failed to direct liver tests for a patient and review them every three months after prescribing antibiotics. He denies this conduct was inadequate.

After a series of complaints, the Hungarian doctor was excluded from the practice by the Bournemouth and Poole Primary Care Trust in 2008.

He was also suspended by the GMC pending investigation.

It is claimed the GP then accessed patient records during his suspension and rang up the practice manager to make threats.

Vadas is attending his central London hearing and denies that his fitness to practise is impaired by reason of misconduct or adverse physical and/or mental health.

Source: Daily Mail

Head Injury? Well, Maybe...But You've Had A Few Sherbets, Haven't You?

Following on from Dick Puddlecote's post yesterday, it seems alcohol + illness makes it hard to diagnose - particularly for those medics who have already made up their minds:
Confused and in distress, this man seems to be in need of medical attention.

But when this picture was taken, Arnold Siddall had just been dumped outside a hospital A&E department because staff thought he was drunk.

In fact he had suffered a fractured skull, but no one at the hospital read a form written by a paramedic which said the 47-year-old had hit his head on a pavement.
So he was turfed out, and eventually arrested. Whereupon, on suffering a fit, he was brought back to hospital. Too late.
Now a coroner has ruled that Mr Siddall could have survived had he been treated at once, rather than a full 14 hours after his fall.

His family released the poignant image of his final hours yesterday as they demanded assurances that no patient could ever be betrayed by the NHS in the same way.
Good luck with that!
The trust has paid his family a five-figure out-of-court settlement negotiated through solicitors Pannone and has apologised for Mr Siddall's treatment.
Anyone want to bet this won't happen again?

Monday, 21 June 2010

Doctor struck off after diagnosing alcohol withdrawal for patient who died of pneumonia

If you've ever thought it odd that your GP routinely asks about alcohol intake when you visit about a pain in your elbow, this should be rather more worrying.

A BUNGLING Midland doctor has been struck off after telling a seriously ill patient that he was just suffering from alcohol withdrawal – hours before he died from pneumonia.

Madumita Mitra made the wrong diagnosis during a house call in Great Barr, Birmingham.

The male patient had tell-tale signs of pneumonia including a painful cough and shortness of breath. But instead of sending him to hospital, the medic diagnosed alcohol withdrawal.

The patient died three hours later.

The panel ruled that her actions were so serious they had no choice but to remove her name from the medical register.

She had previously spoken on the phone to a friend of the ill man and had taken details of his medical history, including the fact that he was an alcoholic. When Dr Mitra arrived at the house she, “kept looking round as if looking for alcohol” the friend later said.

The examination lasted between five and seven minutes, but the GP did not check the patient’s chest properly.
While top medics continually harp on about the all-encompassing evil of alcohol, is it really that surprising when a gullible doctor such as this sees a demon which isn't there?

Source: Sunday Mercury

Saturday, 19 June 2010

This ‘Choice’ Thing Is Damned Inconvenient…

Health chiefs hope to stop Basildon and Thurrock heart patients seeking expensive treatment in London as they try to save £120million over the next five years.

South West Essex Primary Care Trust says it is having to spend millions of pounds more than necessary, because too many cardiac patients from the area are seeking treatment in the capital, where it costs 30 per cent more for treatment than locally.
Now, why would they do that? Are there no facilities at Basildon Hospital, perhaps?
This is despite the £60million Cardiothoracic Centre at Basildon Hospital being open for three years.
Oh, so that's not the problem then.
Since the Government introduced a choice system two years ago, NHS patients have the right to be treated anywhere in the country.

However, the trust believes it should be able to force patients to get treatment at Basildon.
Hmmm, now, why would they need to do this? Why the need to coerce their attendance?

After all, if choice is such a good thing, then surely they can find some way to tempt patients back? Maybe the comments will give us a clue:
perini, Leigh on Sea says...

“We are reminding our GPs, consultants and nurses to ensure their patients are fully informed about the first-class specialist services available much closer to home.'

So that'll be the high death rate, the CDiff and Legionnaires disease then! Is it any wonder people want to go to London??
Oh. Good point.

What Basildon needs to do is stop killing its patients.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

One Law For Them...

Douglas Harris, 29, trawled through paedophile websites after working shifts as an orthopaedic surgeon at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
He's no gentleman either...
Harris denied the allegations when he went on trial last week, claiming he was at work when the pictures were downloaded and his girlfriend was responsible.
Sheriff Annella Cowan deferred sentencing Harris until July 13 to allow for the preparation of background reports on the first-time offender.
Well, don't bother thinking too hard. It seems there's one law for the medical profession, and one for everyone else:
A psychiatrist who surfed the web to look at depraved pictures of youngsters is free to work with children again.

Dr Darryl Watts blamed stress and depression after he spent up to 30 hours a week on the internet looking at images of violence and indecent pictures of young girls.
So when sentencing comes up, I'd better not see anything about how he's been 'punished enough' or will face 'a harsh penalty from his professional organisation' either:
Watts was suspended for a year by the GMC and later banned from working with children.

But the Hereford-based doctor has successfully appealed for the restrictions to be lifted.
What does it take?

Replicated from here.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

"Press One For St Peter..."

A cancer sufferer was told he could not book a hospital appointment - because records showed he was dead.

Alan Campbell rang a booking system phone line after becoming worried that the disease may have spread to his throat.

But when he tried to make an appointment with the NHS Choose and Book system, a telephone operator informed him their records showed him as 'deceased'.
Another case of ‘Computer says ‘No’..’, I suppose..?
'When I rang to take take the appointment I was told, 'Sorry, we can't give you an appointment, our records show you are deceased'.

'I said 'you're joking, I'm talking to you aren't I?' But they said 'you'll have to go back to your GP to get it sorted out'.'
So he did. Because we all know there’s not point in arguing with call centre staff, who are unable to deviate from their instructions.
Mr Campbell, who has also survived a stroke and a heart attack, contacted his doctor and was told the problem had been resolved - only to phone the Choose and Book system again to be told their records still showed he was dead.
NHS Blackburn with Darwen Teaching Care Trust Plus, in Lancashire, which is responsible for the phone service, has now apologised for the error.

Mr Campbell has been told he will contacted within 14 days to arrange an appointment with an oral and maxillofacial surgery specialist.
Within 14 days? How about NOW?
Janice Horrocks, executive director of Engagement Partnerships and Operational Development, said they were investigating the case, adding: 'We are sorry for the distress experienced by this patient.'
I love that ‘experienced by’… Nivcely swerved, Janice!

What she should have apologised for was the distress caused to Mr Campbell, of course.

And no statement from an NHS media flack would be complete without the obligatory the-system-does-work-honest! Statement:
'We would like to reassure patients that using the Choose and Book system, which allows you to choose the hospital, time and date of your appointment, remains the fastest route to getting the quickest and most convenient hospital appointment for the care that you need.'
Unless the NHS thinks you’re dead, that is.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

NHS manager sacked following patient's death

A senior NHS official accused of trying to cover up an error that led to a patient's death has been sacked.

Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has announced that Kate Levy has been dismissed following an inquiry that looked into the death of John Moore-Robinson. Mr Moore-Robinson died in 2006 after doctors at Stafford Hospital failed to spot that he had ruptured his spleen in a bike accident.

During an inquiry into standards of care across the Trust it emerged that its board secretary and head of legal services, Ms Levy, had asked a member of staff to cover up the mistake. Following a disciplinary hearing, Ms Levy has now been sacked...
Source: The Metro

Monday, 14 June 2010

False Economy

Narah Bate, 81, was recently diagnosed with a rare bone marrow cancer and given potentially life-prolonging drugs.

When she developed blisters in her throat and sores on her face, the professor treating her changed the prescription.
But that didn’t go down too well with NICE, who decided the new drugs were just too expensive.
But medicine rationing body the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) denied her the drug Imatinib saying it was too expensive and she would have to remain on hydroxycarbamide.
Still, it’s a harsh world, and we all have to make sacrifices, and this way the NHS saves money to…

Oh. Wait:
Audrey, 62, of Fleet, Hants, said: “The side-effects of this medication are so bad she had to stop taking it for a week to allow the blisters in her throat to heal. That meant a stay in hospital and a blood transfusion.

“Now she’s having a blood transfusion almost every week. That takes up a hospital bed, using staff time. They say that Imatinib is too expensive, but treating her this way must cost more.”

What’s that old saying about those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing?

Friday, 11 June 2010

Higher Scots NHS spend 'no benefit'

A report by a prominent think tank has questioned whether higher health spending in Scotland compared with England has made any difference... According to government figures, £200 per head more is spent on health in Scotland than in England...

However, when it comes to life expectancy, the report's authors said there was a "mysterious Scottish effect" which went beyond deprivation that made Scots sicker and more likely to die early. The report comes as figures showed spending on Scotland's health service had doubled in the past decade. Huge improvements have been made in death rates, particularly cancer, heart disease and strokes, but the rate of improvement is no more than other countries...
Source: BBC

Coma patient’s diamond necklace ‘went missing in hospital'

A patient is suing a hospital after her unique £50,000 diamond necklace vanished while she was in a coma. Psychologist Dr Valerie Stewart realised her 3.5 carat pendant was missing when she regained consciousness after six days.

The 65-year-old said the jewel, which was presented to her by the black community for her work in South Africa during apartheid, was 'irreplaceable'. 'If necessary I'm going to issue court proceedings. I'd rather have the necklace – it was the most precious thing I've ever had – but I'm not just letting it go,' said Ms Stewart.

X-rays prove she was wearing the chain when she was admitted to Yeovil District Hospital, in Somerset, following a fall at her home but it is missing in later scans...
Source: The Metro

NHS reliance on junior doctors hinders their training

Too many junior doctors are missing out on vital training and being left unsupervised, while consultants need to take more direct responsibility for "24/7 care", says a new report by Professor Sir John Temple.

Professor Temple's report, Time for Training - a review of the impact of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) on the quality of training doctors, dentists, pharmacists and healthcare scientists - was commissioned by the former Labour government.

The review reveals that, despite an increase of more than 60% in consultant numbers over the past 10 years, hospitals remain too reliant on junior doctors to provide out-of-hours services. It found that young doctors could still receive high-quality teaching in a 48-hour week, but not if they continued to provide so much out-of-hours care.

Sir John recommended that the service needed to be redesigned so consultants worked more flexibly and were more "directly responsible" for patient care around the clock, leading to better quality of diagnosis, better decision making, and better patient outcomes and safety...
Source: Personnel Today

Broken Hip? Take Two Aspirin And Don't Call Us In The Morning...

A woman was left in excruciating pain for over a month after the medical services repeatedly failed to detect she had a broken hip.
And by 'failed to detect' we should probably read 'repeatedly ignored request by patient that all this being unable to stand up and walk without pain was a bit odd, don't you think, doctor?'

Lynne Snow claims she dialled 999 after a fall at home, and was attended by a paramedic:
"I said I'd like an ambulance to take me to Whipps Cross but he said they wouldn't give me an X-ray as he didn't think I'd done anything."
Very strange. Usually, a 'better safe than sorry' policy applies, doesn't it?
Mrs Snow found days after the incident she still couldn't walk or sit down properly and decided to call her GP.

But the doctor told her he wouldn't send her for an X-ray until she had been checked over by a physiotherapist who eventually arrived after a two-week delay.

Mrs Snow said: “She came out and was quite rude to me. She said: 'You're walking like a robot. Do you usually walk like that?'. She said I hadn't broken anything. I said to her about an X-ray and she said no.
So Mrs Snow sought that fabled second opinion:
With the pain growing ever worse by the day, and over a month after her initial fall, Mrs Snow was eventually referred by a separate GP to St Margaret's Hospital, in Epping, for an X-ray. The X-ray confirmed her hip was broken.

Still, now they've realised their mistake, I bet they're falling over themselves (pun intended) to put it right and spare any further embarrassment?

Ah, well...
Mrs Snow's painful experience was not quite over yet, however, as she was initially told she would have to wait a further month for an operation.

She has now finally had that operation after a friend drove her to Princess Alexandra Hospital's A&E herself.
And we wonder why the NHS pays out so much money in claims...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Mixed Messages…

So, if you are a terminally-ill man with a ‘DNR’, the NHS will override that and attempt to keep you alive at all costs:

Hospital chiefs have apologised to the family of a terminally-ill grandfather who died in agony after staff tried to keep him alive against his wishes.

Arthur Johnson, 64, had signed 'do not resuscitate' forms instructing medics not to revive him if his heart stopped.

But after he was rushed to hospital, his relatives were horrified to find a full crash team fighting to keep him alive.

But on the other hand, if you are a young mother fighting cancer whose doctors have suggested a drug to prolong your life, it’s ‘Nope! Far too expensive’:

A mother fears she will not live to see her son's first day at school after NHS bosses refused to fund the only cancer drug that can help her.

Nikki Blunden, 37, who has breast cancer, says she has been handed a death sentence.

Is it me, or..?

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Court told how ‘bungler surgeon’ butchered breasts

A surgeon left a cancer sufferer with uneven breasts and nipples after botching reconstructive surgery, a misconduct hearing was told. Dr David Jackson was alleged to have made a string of other medical blunders including leaving another woman with an asymmetric belly button after liposuction.

He was also said to have removed the wrong lump of breast tissue during another patient’s lumpectomy and failed to spot his error. He wrongly told the woman everything was fine before discharging her from hospital. In another case, he punctured a woman’s abdomen during a hernia repair, the GMC heard.

But the doctor may escape a full disciplinary hearing as he has applied to be struck off the register himself, claiming he is unwell. Jackson faces 75 allegations of inappropriate and incorrect treatment on a total of 16 patients across four hosp­itals in Kent between 1989 and 2007...
Source: The Metro

Hospital consultant sold dying patients drugs they could have got for free on the NHS

A hospital consultant who sold dying patients drugs that they could have received for free on the NHS has escaped being struck off. Cancer specialist Dr Suhail Baluch conned patients out of thousands of pounds for chemotherapy drugs a friend had bought on the internet.

He told two patients the life prolonging medication - called Tarceva - was only available privately and asked their relatives to write him cheques with the payee line left blank. They paid him a total of more than £6,000 for the lung and pancreatic cancer drugs...
Source: Daily Mail

Did rogue nurse kill 20? Incompetent bosses allowed 'matron' to drug patients and rule wards

An all-powerful nurse who may have murdered up to 20 patients with painkilling drugs was allowed to flout rules at will by incompetent hospital bosses, an official report revealed yesterday.

Anne Grigg-Booth intimidated colleagues and was 'effectively in charge of the hospital' during early hours when few doctors were about and target-obsessed managers had no idea what was going on.

The night nurse practitioner was charged with the murder of three elderly patients after illegally prescribing and injecting powerful painkilling drugs as if she was a qualified doctor.

But police believe she may have killed many more during her 25 years working at Airedale General Hospital in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Grigg-Booth also faced an attempted murder charge and 13 counts of unlawfully administering poison to 12 other patients but was never brought to trial because she died from a drink and drugs overdose at her home in 2005 at the age of 52.

Management of the hospital was also condemned by the inquiry findings. A 'club culture' existed in the senior hospital ranks and protected authority figures such as Grigg-Booth from criticism.

The fear is that other members of the nursing staff may have been 'bullied' into adopting her bad habits and followed her instructions to give banned injections.

Grigg-Booth herself treated management 'with contempt' and was 'not subject to effective supervision'. Policies designed to act as safeguards were ignored and patients placed at risk as a result.

The nurse was suspended and police called in after a routine audit identified malpractice by Grigg-Booth in January 2003.

She was later charged with murdering June Driver, 67, Eva Blackburn, 75, and 96-year-old Annie Midgley. She was also accused of attempting to murder Michael Parker, 42.

However, police said these were 'specimen' offences and the extent of her total criminal behaviour could have been far greater.

Five years ago she was branded the 'Angel of Death' after being accused of being a hospital serial killer.

But the independent inquiry came to a very different conclusion.

The report concluded Grigg-Booth was 'not a Beverley Allitt' [the nurse who murdered four children in hospital in the early 1990s]. 'We think it is unlikely that she deliberately set out to harm patients,' the report stated.

But it added: 'She was utterly convinced of her own clinical prowess; we have no doubt that on occasions she went well beyond the boundaries of acceptable nursing practice at that time and beyond the boundaries of her own clinical understanding.'

She was recognised as a 'hard working, experienced and caring nurse who could be relied on in a crisis' yet she broke the law by prescribing 'opiates' herself without checking with doctors and broke hospital rules by giving the dangerous drugs 'intraveneously' and on the 'verbal orders' of doctors.

Although in some cases where patients died Grigg-Booth failed to complete the paperwork detailing her actions, the inquiry found she recorded most of what she did in charts and files, suggesting she was not intent of killing patients.

Night nurse practitioners were introduced to reduce the workload of junior doctors. Grigg-Booth was the most senior and powerful of the four NNPs at Airedale. All the NNPs, as well as other doctors and nurses, misunderstood the rules and believed they had greater authority in respect of the use of painkilling drugs than they actually did.

But Grigg-Booth believed she was in control of the rules after dark. Indeed, all junior doctors on induction days were given the booklet A Guide for Staff who Work at Night which was written by Grigg-Booth herself.

An indication of her attitude towards consulting doctors can be found in the booklet. It reads: 'There are many occasions when we "cross the fine line or grey area" between nursing and medical duties, but will only do so in the interests of effective patient care.'

The offences she was charged with occurred between 2000 and 2002. By July 2002 she had become an alcoholic, the report revealed.

She also rumoured to be addicted to painkilling drugs herself.

She frequently attended the casualty unit as a patient and told the nurses to have diamorphine ready. On one occasion she even injected herself and on another her husband, also a hospital nurse, pressurised medical staff into giving her medication.

The inquiry team found a ' combination of individual and systems failure.' Two other NNPs were disciplined and downgraded, another took early retirement, a manager was sacked and another manager resigned.

They refused to given an opinion as to whether Grigg-Booth would have been convicted by a jury had she not died. Eddie Kinsella, a member of the inquiry team, said Grigg-Booth 'shouldn't be demonised' for her actions as she 'reasonably believed' she was acting legally in the way she did her job, but there was 'confusion' about what senior nurses were allowed to do.

However, he added: 'We don't diminish the gravity of what took place.'

Source: DailyMail

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Trust Fined £50k Over Disabled Patient Death

A hospital trust has been fined £50,000 after a disabled patient died when he got his head stuck in protective bed bars.

Kyle Flack, a quadriplegic who had cerebral palsy, died in October 2006 at Basildon University Hospital.

The hospital in Essex acknowledged that 20-year-old Mr Flack died following failures in its "systems and procedures".

Basildon NHS Trust was also ordered to pay £40,000 costs after a court heard how health and safety failings were a "significant cause" of the death.

"(The trust) accepts that its offending was a significant cause of this death. Management failed to lay down correct procedures.

The Trust earlier admitted breaching health and safety law by failing to ensure patients were not exposed to risk.

It followed a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Prosecutor Pascal Bates said the hospital had failed to properly supervise Mr Flack, properly pass on information, train staff, assess risk and had not heeded warnings.

"(The trust) accepts that its offending was a significant cause of this death," Mr Bates told the judge. "Management failed to lay down correct procedures."

Gill Flack said the hospital had been the 'worst place' for her son

He said the offences amounted to a "serious" breach of duty and the hospital had fallen "markedly short" of the required standard.

Earlier this year, Mr Flack's mother Gill called for hospital bosses to be "held accountable".

Mrs Flack, of Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, said Basildon University Hospital had been the "worst place" for her son.

She described some care standards at the hospital as "absolute c***".

The hospital said standards had improved.

Six months ago a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found poor hygiene and care standards at the hospital.

Source: Sky News

Monday, 7 June 2010

NHS is backing Weight Wins to pay dieters to shed weight

As regular visitors may have noticed, this is a 'scrap book' blog without any particular editorial line, and that this particular article is not actually death-related, but...

a) Can they not think of anything better to spend taxpayers' money on?
b) People get paid for losing weight and keeping it off for a period of time. There does not appear to be any liability to repay if they weight is later put back on. Can anybody see a loophole here?
c) 'Weight Wins' - sounds like a fakeprivatecompany to me.
Paying people to lose weight could be ‘the best single weapon in the war on obesity’, a study claims.

Dieters who earned money for hitting weight targets lost more than double that of dieters in a control group. The NHS-backed scheme, called Weight Wins, has now paid tens of thousands of pounds in ‘air miles for dieters’ in a bid to tackle obesity.
Cash is offered for every pound lost plus a 50 per cent ‘bonus’ if the weight stays off for several months. Participant choose how they want to lose weight and are given advice by NHS dieticians.

Rewards range from £80 to £3,000, depending upon the length of plan and how much weight needs to be lost. Some 745 dieters lost more than 6.3kg (1st) on average – more than double that of traditional dieters, who lost 2.4kg (5lb 4oz).

‘Long-term financial incentives could be the best single weapon in the war on obesity’, said Weight Wins founder Winton Rositer. The company makes money via a monthly fee levied on participants or sponsorship by their employer, insurer or local NHS trust. The latest results were independently audited by the University of Hertfordshire. At least a third of US companies said they offer, or plan to offer, financial incentives to help staff lose weight.
Source: The Metro

Dentist charged over stealing £1million in 'biggest ever' NHS fraud

A dentist has been charged with stealing £1million from the NHS in what is alleged to be one of the biggest frauds in the history of the health service. Dr Joyce Trail, 48, is accused of submitting up to 5,000 bogus patient invoices between 2006 and 2009 and has been suspended from her practice in the West Midlands.

She is charged with one count of obtaining a false money transfer by deception and three counts of fraud and is due to attend a committal hearing at Birmingham magistrates’ court a week on Friday. Dr Trail, who also runs a medical spa in Birmingham, denies any wrongdoing and has said that she intends to plead not guilty to all charges.

She has run her busy practice in Handsworth in the city for the past 12 years and also provides dental treatment at scores of old people’s homes. In 2008, she opened the city’s first medical spa next door to her practice, offering everything from Botox to ‘smile make-overs’. Proud of her community, Dr Trail has become well-known for her determination to help businesses prosper in the area where she grew up.

She was described her in 2006 as ‘an amazing individual who has given us a lot of help’ by the Community Contact Family Centre, which she supported. But she was suspended following a lengthy probe by the NHS Counter Fraud Team and West Midlands Police, which led to her arrest.
Source: The Metro.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Scandal of aborted IVF babies

DOZENS of young women are having abortions on the NHS after expensive IVF treatment because they have changed their minds about becoming a mother.

Some terminate pregnancies after splitting from their husband or boyfriend, others because they were pressured into starting a family. The phenomenon is worrying doctors and has triggered a backlash from family campaigners who accuse the women of treating babies like “designer goods”.

Data obtained from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority reveal that an average of 80 abortions are carried out in England Wales and Scotland each year following IVF treatment. Up to half of these involve prospective mothers aged 18-34.

These women — usually the healthiest — are the least likely to conceive babies with abnormalities, suggesting a “social” reason may have led to the decision.

Fertility specialists expressed shock at the figures. “I had no idea there were so many post-IVF abortions — and each one is a tragedy,” said Professor Bill Ledger, a member of the authority.

Source: The Times

Child's death would not matter, social services official tells undercover reporter

A senior social services official has said that it would not matter if a child was killed after their case was closed because it would not be the council's responsibility.

The remark was secretly recorded by a colleague as part of an undercover investigation into Britain's child protection system.

The findings have exposed numerous failings which, experts said, could be putting lives at risk.

Despite a shake-up of social services across the country in the wake of the death of Baby Peter Connelly, the recordings reveal a disturbing picture of Surrey social services.

The most serious findings show:

* social workers prepared to allow a child to sleep on a park bench;

* inexperienced staff assigned to complex jobs; and

* an admission from a social workers that child protection is "p*** poor".

In the most alarming insight, a manager in the department advises that it is important to close cases quickly so that social services will not be blamed if a child subsequently dies.

"If there's a Baby P on a closed case there will never, ever be a problem," she tells the reporter during a private conversation in council offices.

"If it's closed and we closed it with good reasons at the time and it's shown in the closing summary that the reasons were good, then it won't matter."

It was reported last November that Surrey had closed 500 children's social services cases, around one in ten of its total, in an attempt to focus on higher-priority cases. The council experienced a surge in referrals after news of the Baby P case broke in November 2008.

The manager, who does not realise her words are being recorded, adds: "The real problem is the case sitting at the back of your draw that isn't being dealt with, but is technically open to you.

"If one of those goes off on you, God help you. Those are awful."

Her comments follow a survey by the Association of Directors of Children's Services in April which found the number of children deemed at risk has increased by a third since the Baby P scandal.

The Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, to be shown tomorrow, singled out Surrey for investigation because there have been several known child deaths as a result of abuse or neglect in the county in the past five years.

The council's child protection arrangements were said to be "inadequate" by inspectors in 2008, but last year Ofsted found that the situation had improved.

In the programme, a reporter who had previously worked as a family support worker obtained a job at Surrey social services.

Even though he had not worked in a child protection unit for six years, he was given two highly-sensitive cases on his first day in the job without any training.

One case involved him visiting a home where a convicted murderer had regular access, and had recently been violent, to assess whether it was safe for a child to continue living there.

In addition, the undercover reporter was given work that government guidelines state should only be given to qualified social workers, not less-qualified family support workers.

Other colleagues told him that they had not been given proper training, and the manager of the unit described the induction procedures as "crap".

He was also advised to warn a 15 year-old-boy looking for somewhere to stay that social services would not be able to house him, even though they were legally bound to do so.

"If we don't have a placement we can't put him anywhere," a colleague was recorded saying.

"He can sleep on a park bench."

It took more than six weeks before the child was given a placement in a residential home, during which time the reporter was told the child had threatened to commit suicide.

Summing up his findings after the filming was completed, the undercover reporter expressed concern at what he had discovered and said that social workers have an "impossible job".

"What's emerging is there's an age group from 13 up to 16 that really get forgotten," he said.

"It's just depressing."

He added: "This is a national problem. These are our most vulnerable children and if we want to look after them in an adequate way we'll have to pay for it."

Joanna Nicolas, a child protection consultant and trainer with 15 years' experience, said last night that the findings of the investigation exposed the stark reality of the challenges faced by social services across the country.

"The public will find the programme shocking, but those of us on the ground have been saying for years that the system is at breaking point," she said.

"It's buckling and that means that children are left unprotected. It's not right that we have a system where young people are left effectively homeless and without support."

A spokesman for Surrey county council said: "Child protection is our top priority and we will examine the findings of this programme carefully."

The documentary, raising questions about what is being done to protect vulnerable children, follows a series of high-profile failings by social services.

Earlier this year, welfare officers at Birmingham council were criticised for failing to take seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq from her mother who starved her to death.

Lord Laming recommended a complete overhaul of child protection policies following the death of Victoria Climbie in 2000, who was also starved to death after social workers, police and the NHS failed to raise the alarm.

*Dispatches: Undercover Social Worker is broadcast tomorrow [MON] at 8pm on Channel 4

Source: Telegraph

Family of woman who died after 999 call blunder speak of heartbreak

The family of Bonnie Mason, woman who died after a 999 call was not given the correct priority, have spoken of their loss, and the hope changes will prevent the same mistake happening again.

Tom Mason kissed his wife Bonnie goodbye. Her life-support machine would soon be switched off. Less than 24 hours before, Mrs Mason had slipped on the steep stairs of their Suffolk home, leaving her with head injuries that were to prove fatal. As Tom, 37, returned home from Ipswich Hospital, broken with grief, his father, a doctor, felt helpless.

Blankly checking his emails, Dr Andrew Mason learned that his latest research paper - on improving the survival chances of patients with blocked airways - had been accepted for publication. It was the most grim of ironies - after falling more than 12 feet, Bonnie had lain unconscious, a partly obstructed airway restricting the vital flow of oxygen to her brain. By the time paramedics arrived - 38 minutes after her desperate husband had dialled 999 - Bonnie was already close to death, with fixed and dilated pupils. She never regained consciousness.

As the family struggled to come to terms with their loss, Dr Mason, an international expert in trauma airway management who had trained paramedics across East Anglia for more than a decade, was haunted by one simple question: why had the ambulance taken so long?

His long search for the truth has exposed critical risks in the 999 call-handling system used by 11 of England’s 12 ambulance services. Last week an inquest examined the part that software blunders played in Mrs Mason’s death. But no one knows how many lives may have been put at risk across the country because of dangers that have existed for more than a decade.

Source: Telegraph

Full public inquiry into Mid-Staffordshire hospital scandal to be announced

David Cameron is preparing to announce a full public inquiry into the Mid-Staffordshire hospital scandal.

The move is a victory for campaigners and The Sunday Telegraph, which has called for relatives of patients who died to be consulted on what went wrong.

Previous inquiries into the scandal have been denounced as whitewashes because they were not held in public.

Hundreds of patients died needlessly of appalling standards of care, exposed in a report from the Healthcare Commission, a watchdog, last March.

Targets on waiting times were blamed, as well as managers trying to clear debts in order to gain Foundation Trust status.

Campaigners have long been calling for a full inquiry into the failings and will welcome the decision to allow public hearings. The Prime Minister is expected to announce the move in the coming days

Source: Telegraph