Friday, 29 January 2010

57% rise in patients waiting over 8 weeks!

NHS inpatient and outpatient waiting times figures, 31 December 2009

The key points from the latest release are:

Inpatient Waiting times

• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over the 26 weeks standard for inpatient admission at the end of December 2009 was 18 (compared to the total of 625,100).

• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over 13 weeks at the end of December 2009 was 57,600, an increase of 12,300 (27.3%) from November 2009, and a rise of 18,000 (45.3%) from December 2008.

Outpatient Waiting times

• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over the 13 weeks standard for a first outpatient appointment following GP referral at the end of December 2009 was 93 (compared to the total of 926,800).

• The number of patients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over 8 weeks at the end of December 2009 was 74,100, an increase of 11,700 (18.8%) from November 2009, but a rise of 26,900 (57.0%) from December 2008.

Comment: Labour has made a mess of GP services

The disclosure that just two GPs are available for out-of-hours duty in the county of Suffolk is the inevitable consequence of the contract with family doctors negotiated by the Health Department in 2004. Such sparse coverage is now commonplace throughout rural England, to the detriment of patient care. GP services have come under renewed scrutiny after the death of a 70-year-old man in Cambridgeshire who was given an overdose of diamorphine by a German doctor working for a group that arranges evening and weekend cover. In Suffolk, a baby died while its parents waited four hours for an over-stretched duty doctor to call back. A report by the Primary Care Foundation found that only 16 of the 80 primary care trusts it examined met the target of clinically assessing 90 per cent of urgent calls within 20 minutes.

A dangerous spiral of decline has taken place since the new contract was agreed. Some GPs have opted out altogether from out-of-hours services while others continue to offer them at higher rates. However, funding has been reduced, forcing trusts to look at cheaper contracts, which results in a cut in the number of doctors employed and their replacement by nurses, paramedics, help lines and walk-in centres. In many parts of the country, out-of-hours services are now disconnected from mainstream general practice and provided by doctors untrained in British primary care. Many people faced with uncertainty about GP cover are tempted to use hospital A&E services. However, these are overstretched as well. The European working time directive has forced Britain to cut the hours of junior hospital doctors to a maximum of 48 a week just as their workload is growing. As if this was not bad enough, we report today that the European Commission is stepping up the pressure for other British exemptions to the directive to be removed, despite the damage it has already caused to business and our public services.

Grandmother disgusted at filthy hospital nursed and bathed other patients on her ward

A grandmother was so disgusted by the filthy conditions and neglect on a hospital ward that she bathed and cared for the patients herself.

Janet Halsall, 74, was admitted to Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, for three days to have a scan on her liver, when she was shocked to see staff repeatedly ignore pleas for help and leave fellow elderly patients to ‘fend for themselves’.

The kind-hearted pensioner was so appalled by the conditions in the hospital that she bathed, washed and tucked in the frail elderly patients herself.

The grandmother-of-seven said fellow patients were distressed after being left without water, and when she went to the pantry to clean their glasses, she found it in a ‘disgusting state’.When one elderly lady got no help after repeatedly complaining to staff she was cold, Mrs Halsall was moved to search a store cupboard for a blanket.
The former hairdresser even washed and bathed one lady who needed help to clean herself and took another pensioner to the toilet after staff continually ignored her requests because they were ‘too busy’.When she was discharged on Monday afternoon, her fellow patients cheered and clapped her - branding her their 'guardian angel'.

Speaking from her home in Little Staughton, Beds., she said: ‘I was absolutely disgusted when I entered the ward. ‘At 7pm I arrived in the ward and was appalled to find the bed was unmade and the water jug and glass were on the floor. ‘There was no locker or table to put my things on or bag to dispose of rubbish.

‘The patient in the next bed to me kept asking staff if she could go to the bathroom to have a wash and clean her teeth before breakfast. The reply was always “in a minute”. ‘She was really upset so I found her a bowl and washed her from head to toe and made her feel better. She was so grateful.‘Never before have I seen so many people rushing around, working so hard but achieving nothing.’ Mrs Halsall, whose partner Eric died five years ago, blames the shoddy treatment on a shortage of staff.

She added: ‘There simply weren't enough staff looking after the ward. People were asking for help and it was falling on deaf ears. ‘The poor nurse was running around and didn't have time to help everyone. I couldn't just sit there and watch so, being quite agile, I got up and helped them myself. ‘When I left the ward on Monday they all cheered me out and said I was their guardian angel.’ Mrs Halsall was referred to the Hinchingbrooke Hospital at around 11am on Friday amid fears she was suffering a liver complaint. She was told she could not have the scan until Monday and was later transferred to the Appletree Ward for the weekend. But within minutes of arriving, she became angry after spotting a number of patients who were not being cared for. Pensioner Joyce Bates, who was also on the Appletree Ward as she underwent physiotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis in her legs, hailed Janet a 'heroine'. Widower Mrs Bates, from March, Cambs., said: ‘I don't know what we would have done without Janet. The place was an absolute disgrace and our treatment was even worse. ‘I've stayed in hospital 38 times and I've never watched as a patient is forced to give another a bed bath because the nurses won't.‘She truly was magnificent in what was a nightmare situation.’

Director of the Patients Association Katherine Murphy said: ‘Unfortunately we hear far too many examples of the kinds of things described by Janet Halsall.‘It is completely unacceptable for patients not to be treated with dignity and respect and not to receive the help they need with things like personal hygiene. ‘That should be fundamental to NHS care-whenever it's not it's an appalling indictment of our treatment of some of the most vulnerable users of our health services.’ A spokesman for Hinchingbrooke said: ‘Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust takes all complaints extremely seriously.‘We would ask Mrs Halsall to contact us directly so that a full investigation can be conducted into her experience on the ward.‘Until we can look into these incidents in more detail it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.’

Misconduct doctor Jane Barton escapes being struck off

A doctor who prescribed "potentially hazardous" levels of drugs to elderly patients who later died has escaped being struck off. Dr Jane Barton will be allowed to continue working under certain conditions despite being found guilty of serious professional misconduct. She was accused of a series of failings in her care of 12 patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in the 1990s.

Relatives and the General Medical Council criticised the panel's ruling. Family members of those who had died shouted at the fitness to practice panel when the decision was delivered in central London. Iain Wilson, the son of Robert Wilson, one of the patients who died, shouted: "You should hang your head in shame."

Source: BBC

Friday, 22 January 2010

185,000 leave NHS hospitals starved

THE NHS was last night accused of starving patients.

Shock figures show a record-breaking 185,000 left hospital last year suffering from malnutrition. The number of starved patients has rocketed from 75,431 to 185,446 over the last 12 years - a 146 PER CENT increase. And the problem is getting worse. The number of malnourished patients shot up 18 per cent last year alone - the biggest annual hike in more than a decade. The figures show that just over 175,000 patients went INTO hospital last year with malnutrition.

But 185,446 patients left with malnutrition - meaning an extra 10,443 developed problems while on the wards.
The revelations will fuel fears about the quality of care in hospitals. The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust discharged 4,766 patients last year suffering from malnutrition. Fifteen other hospitals recorded more than 2,000 patients leaving with nutritional problems.

Shadow Health Minister Stephen O'Brien said: "These figures are of serious concern. Labour have done very little to protect vulnerable people."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Many patients admitted to hospital are already malnourished. Malnutrition can be a consequence of serious illness or medication."
Source: The Sun

Girl, 19, left battling blindness after taking Tamiflu (and she didn't even have swine flu)

A teenage girl left disabled by the swine flu treatment Tamiflu did not even have the virus, it was revealed today.

Samantha Millard, 19, became critically ill after suffering a severe allergic reaction to the tablets, which she took on the advice of the controversial NHS helpline. Within 72 hours of taking three pills, doctors put her on life support. Samantha spent a month in hospital after developing the life-threatening Stevens Johnson syndrome, which causes the skin to peel off, and later developed toxic epidermal necrolysis syndrome, which has damaged her sight. But tests at the hospital have since revealed that she never even contracted the swine flu virus.

Her devastated mother Debbie Van Horenbeeck is now seeking legal advice about the information given out by the NHS swine flu helpline. She believes that Tamiflu has not been tested thoroughly enough.'They have disabled my daughter from that helpline,' said the 42-year-old, who is now her daughter's full-time carer. 'When they told her she had swine flu, they did not inform her of anything that could go wrong. The Government told us we should take this if we got swine flu.'
Source: Daily Mail

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Birmingham GP in abortion row cost taxpayers £600,000

A Birmingham GP accused of sending her teenage daughter abroad for an illegal abortion has cost taxpayers a £600,000 NHS bill while she has been suspended.

Dr Saroj Adlakha, of Shilpa Medical Centre, in Kings Heath, has not been allowed to work for more than four-and-a-half years after she was suspended from the medical register by the General Medical Council.

But information disclosed to the Liberal Democrats under Freedom of Information Act requests shows that South Birmingham Primary Care Trust (PCT) has paid the doctor £600,000 while suspended – one of the highest amounts of those payments in the UK.

South Birmingham PCT has said Dr Adlakha’s payments included cover of two locum doctors for patients while the doctor was unable to work.

Dr Adlakha, of Somerset Road, Edgbaston, and her daughter Shilpa Abrol, were charged with conspiracy to commit child destruction abroad after the GP allegedly arranged for the then 18-year-old to have an illegal late abortion in Barcelona at 31 weeks into her pregnancy, although the legal limit is 22 in Spain.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Child drug errors 'too frequent'

Mistakes are being made in a high number of drug treatments given to children in hospital, experts warn. A snap-shot study by the University of London of five hospitals in the city found 13% of the 3,000 prescriptions they examined had an error. And a fifth of drugs given to children in these hospitals during 2004 and 2005 were administered incorrectly. Most errors were harmless but a small number were potentially fatal, Archives of Diseases in Childhood reports. On five occasions, one of the investigators intervened to prevent the patient suffering the consequences.
Over a period of two weeks, they watched how nurses gave drugs to children on 11 wards at the five hospitals. They picked up 429 administration errors among the 1,554 doses of medicine given to 265 children, giving an overall error rate of 19%. When pharmacists reviewed the drug charts of 444 children treated in the hospitals over the fortnight, they found and corrected errors in 13% of almost 3,000 prescriptions. The majority were incomplete prescriptions, but a third were dosing errors.
Although the study involved only five London hospitals, the authors believe the results would be similar in other UK hospitals. And despite the study being carried out five years ago, the researchers say the findings still stand today. Study author Professor Ian Wong, of The University of London, said: "It is highly unlikely that the situation has changed since our study was done. That is because prescribing for children is very difficult."
Source: BBC

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Patients' inquest focuses on overseas locum care

An inquest into the deaths of two patients in Cambridgeshire treated by a German doctor on his first shift in the UK is due to start later in Wisbech.
David Gray, 70, died in 2008 from an overdose of the painkiller diamorphine after being seen by Dr Daniel Ubani, who arrived in the UK the previous day. Iris Edwards, 86 - Dr Ubani's next patient - later died of a heart attack. Mr Gray's family say the case raises questions over the use of overseas doctors for evening and weekend cover.
An agency had supplied him to Take Care Now, the company which was running the NHS out-of-hours service in Cambridgeshire. The contract was terminated at the end of last year.
In April 2009, the German authorities gave Dr Ubani a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and he was ordered to pay a £4,500 fine for causing death by negligence. He continues to practise as a cosmetic surgeon in the west German town of Witten...
Source: BBC

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Doctor admits failure over death of Bupa boss at her own hospital

It's not just the NHS that kills people...
A doctor admitted incompetence after a woman died following surgery to remove a kidney stone at a private hospital.

Carmel Bloom, 54, developed septicaemia and suffered multiple organ failure after the operation at the Bupa (now Spire) Roding Hospital in Ilford, in August 2002.
Consultant John Hines and anaesthetist Dr Paul Timmis faced a General Medical Council hearing over the treatment they provided to Ms Bloom, who was employed as a health controller at the Roding.

Dr Timmis admitted he took a series of inappropriate steps which worsened Ms Bloom's condition....

Dr Timmis admitted that his level of care fell below the standard expected of a consultant of his experience. However, Mr Hines denied the care that he provided was inappropriate or incompetent. The hearing continues.
Source: The Evening Standard.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Happy BlogDay To Us

We've now been posting NHS horror stories as we spot them for a year. Heck knows how many we overlook; how many never make it to the papers in the first place; or how many cases there are where the victim's family allow themselves to be fobbed off with foul excuses.

Thanks to everybody who drops in, leaves a comment etc.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Patients 'being force-fed with tubes in wards and care homes'

Patients are being effectively force-fed amid widespread poor practice in hospitals and care homes, according to a report. Some homes are even turning people away unless they have a nutrition tube fitted because staff do not have time to feed them.

More than 39,000 people in Britain who have swallowing difficulties are given food and drink "artificially" at home or in hospital. They include cancer sufferers, accident victims with head injuries and people who are dying. Increasingly, carers are using feeding tubes on dementia patients, despite a lack of evidence that this increases survival rates.

The study was carried out by a working party set up by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Society of Gastroenterology...
Source: The Evening Standard

Woman, 92, 'left to starve' in hospital

Mr Hudson, a civil servant from Lewisham, has filed an official complaint against the hospital, claiming nurses did not offer his mother, who suffers from dementia, help with eating or taking medication. He claims they left her meal tray lid on and the food wrapped in cling film, which she was unable to remove. Medication was put in little cups in front of Mrs Hudson, who is blind in one eye and severely impaired in the other. This meant she missed taking tablets on at least six occasions.

Nurses also took a week to put a note over her bed alerting staff to her blindness despite requests, he said.

Lewisham Hospital was recently rated the worst in the capital for patient safety in a guide by Dr Foster, a leading provider of health information. Father-of-three Mr Hudson, 61, said: "All staff had to do was ask if she needed anything."

The Patients Association, which has campaigned over care on NHS wards, today said the Hudsons' experience was "sadly familiar". The hospital has given Mr Hudson a verbal apology. Chief executive Tim Higginson said steps had been taken "to ensure that this rare occurrence cannot be repeated".
Source: The Evening Standard

Effective depression treatment not available in NHS despite high demand.

Three quarters of GPs have prescribed anti-depressants even though they think another treatment would have been more effective, a survey has found.

The Mental Health Foundation says meditation halves the risk of repeated depression and should be more readily available, but access is very limited.


The Mental Health Foundation says mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) halves the risk of further bouts of depression.


But the report finds 75% of GPs have prescribed medication to people with long-term depression believing that another treatment - often less readily available - would be more appropriate.

The National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended MBCT for recurrent depression since 2004.

But the latest report found that just one in five GPs say they can access the treatment for their patients, and only one in 20 prescribe it regularly.

Doctor accused of missing golf ball-sized tumour three times - diagnosing piles instead

AN angry patient has told how her doctor missed a golf ball sized tumour THREE TIMES – after telling her she had piles.

Rabin Apta failed to identify tell-tale signs of rectal cancer despite repeated visits from the middle-aged victim to his surgery in Cannock, Staffordshire. And instead of urgently referring her to a specialist, he prescribed haemorrhoid cream.

Dr Apta is still practising, but could be struck off when he appears before the General Medical Council tomorrow over the bungle and other patient complaints. The cancer victim, whose family had a history of the disease, said: “He’s left me with a death sentence. I kept going to see him and he kept patting me on the head and telling me everything was fine.’’

The medic saw the woman, known as Patient A, at three appointments between November 2007 and January 2008...
Source: Birmingham Mail