Wednesday 23 December 2009

Hospitals 'fiddling' A&E waiting times

Data from 114 NHS trusts in England found many patients faced long waits in assessment units which did not count towards the waiting time.

Over a fifth of units reported keeping patients longer than the recommended 24 hours with the average wait being 17.

Doctors agreed the system was being abused in places

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Woman's death was 'gross failure'

Gross failures and neglect contributed to the death of a grandmother-of-five after a routine procedure went wrong at a Birmingham hospital, a coroner ruled. Rosemary McFarlane, 64, died after being given a chemical that was 10 times the recommended concentration, which burned her lungs and killed her...

Source: BBC.

Given the changes that are about to happen in US health care, what do we think about the NHS?

Click here to comment

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Doctors ‘sent flu girl home to die’

A GIRL of two died of suspected swine flu just a day after doctors said she had no illness, her parents have claimed.
Michelle Fernando began displaying swine flu symptoms a week after her mother Uthpala, 27, fell ill. The girl's father Rashid, 30, took her to Bristol Children's Hospital but claims doctors sent them home after telling him to give her plenty of water and Calpol to reduce her temperature. However, Michelle stopped breathing the following day. She was taken to hospital by ambulance from the family's home but was dead on arrival...
Source: The Metro

Friday 11 December 2009

Baby ward shortages 'scandalous'

A coroner has branded midwife shortages at a hospital where a newborn baby died on an overstretched maternity ward as "nothing short of scandalous". Deputy coroner for Milton Keynes Thomas Osborne said "systems failures" led to the death of Ebony McCall.

An inquest heard the baby girl only had a faint heartbeat when she was born by Caesarean section at Milton Keynes General Hospital in May this year. Her mother, Amanda McCall, had medical conditions including cardiac disease.

A hospital spokesman said: "We are very sorry indeed for the distress and grief caused to them by the death of their daughter Ebony... Changes have already been made to the way we work to improve the safety of our maternity services..."
Source: BBC

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Tim Worstall: Equality is all.

when you look at the WHO numbers for the ranking of health care systems (rather than this OECD one) you find that the egalitarianism of the system counts for the majority of the rating. The actual effectiveness of the care amounts to only 25% of it.

Which is why the NHS does so well in the WHO rankings.

Post Comments at Tims Site.

Barnsley Hospital Foundation Trust pays £700,000 after breast blunders

Health chiefs have paid out almost £700,000 in compensation to 19 women who had botched breast surgery which left them 'feeling like freaks'.
The women, who were mostly cancer patients, suffered pain and disfigurement after Puvaneswary Markandoo performed surgery on them. Of the 19 settlements – each victim receiving about £35,000 on average – Barnsley Hospital Foundation Trust admitted negligence in 15 cases.
'She's left me a physical mess. Now I feel like a freak,' said patient Anne Bassett, who opted for reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy but ended up having nine operations which 'all went wrong'. 'Once she said, "I won't put you to sleep for this one". It was like something out of a horror film. I still keep having nightmares and wake up screaming,' added the 47-year-old from Barnsley.
Markandoo, 62, was suspended on full pay in July 2006. An inquiry by the General Medical Council later found her deficient in 11 areas, including basic surgery and working within regulations...
Source: The Metro.

Sunday 6 December 2009


A STAGGERING 250 people are dying of starvation a year in British hospitals - a national disgrace that costs the taxpayer a whopping £7 BILLION.

Official figures show that the number of patients suffering from malnutrition in NHS hospital beds has been getting worse since Labour came to power - with a 16 per cent rise in deaths since 1997.

Hospitals estimate around 30 per cent of all their patients are malnourished when admitted, making treatment more expensive because they end up staying in hospital longer.

Patients who don't get enough nutrition are less likely to recover from major surgery and more likely to pick up hospital superbugs than those who are well fed. This results in longer stays in hospital and additional treatment that pushes up the cost of care.

Chief Nurse Dame Christine Beasley claims that £7 billion of the £15 billion a year the health service needs to save could be clawed back by attacking malnutrition.

Labour Peer Resigns Amid Hospital Scandal

Baroness Young told the Health Secretary of her decision to leave the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on November 26 - the day it sent an emergency taskforce into scandal-hit Basildon hospital.

The watchdog was subsequently branded "toothless" after a report discovered a raft of underperforming hospitals and high death rates.

Dr Foster Intelligence rated a dozen hospitals as "significantly underperforming", despite nine of them being rated good or excellent by the CQC.

Seven hospitals were also found to have considerably higher mortality rates for the past five years.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Nearly one in 10 hospital prescriptions 'have mistakes'

Nearly one in 10 hospital prescriptions contain a mistake, ranging from the minor to the potentially lethal, research has found.

But the study, commissioned by the General Medical Council, found very few errors would have caused serious harm. It also found that, contrary to belief, novice doctors were no more responsible for mistakes than the more experienced. To eliminate one area of confusion, the GMC is calling for a UK-wide standard prescription chart as exists in Wales.

The research team led by Professor Tim Dornan of the University of Manchester, examined the issue amid rising fears inexperienced doctors were making prescription errors which could, at worst, result in a patient dying...

Source: BBC

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Hospital wards break world health 'noise limits'

Hospital wards across the NHS are breaking recommended noise limits, disturbing patients' sleep, well-being and recovery, experts say.

Two separate studies found the din of chattering visitors and loud mobile phones pushed noise levels well over recommended limits.

The World Health Organization says patients should not be exposed to noise above 35 decibels or a loud whisper.

But the UK researchers frequently recorded levels of 60dB to 90bB.

Researchers at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, found noise levels on an average general medical ward exceeded 60dB most of the time, even at night.

Patient died after 30cm swab was left inside him

A cancer patient died after a 30cm (12in) medical swab was left inside him during surgery, an inquest heard.

Dennis Thompson was left with the large surgical ‘mop’ in his abdomen after an operation to remove a small tumour on his liver. It would have played a ‘significant part’ in the 73-year-old’s death, the inquest was told.

Staff knew a swab was missing but could not get an X-ray of Mr Thompson because the department was busy. Mr Thompson, from Okehampton, Devon, had more surgery to remove the swab, which would have contributed to his death, said Dr Christopher Mason, who carried out the autopsy...
Source: The Metro

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Sick baby is examined in car park

A hospital in Norfolk is to review its procedures after a baby was assessed for more than an hour in its car park.
Nine-month-old Amy Cawley was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn when she fell ill.

Staff believed Amy might have been suffering from swine flu so was checked in her parents' car for 70 minutes, but in fact she had a viral infection.

Amy's father, Ashley Cawley, said he was going to make a formal complaint to the hospital. "We didn't know what was going on, everything came as such a shock," he said, "For anybody to be left in a car at any time of the year is questionable."

Hospital spokesman Noel Scanlon said examining a child in the car park on a winter's night was "not ideal practise." He said: "We will be looking very carefully at our procedures as a consequence of this child's experience."

The hospital said it would give the Cawleys a copy of their investigation.
Source; BBC

Monday 30 November 2009

GPs 'should offer climate change advice to patients'

The Climate and Health Council, a collaboration of worldwide health organisations including the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society of Medicine, believes there is a direct link between climate change and better health.

Their controversial plan would see GPs and nurses give out advice to their patients on how to lower their carbon footprint.

The Council believes that climate change “threatens to radically undermine the health of all peoples”.

It believes health professionals are ideally placed to promote change because “we have ethical responsibility… well as the capacity to influence people and our political representatives to take the necessary action”.

The Council has been recently formed to study the health benefits of tackling climate change and promotes a range of ideas from reducing your carbon footprint by driving less and walking more to eating local, less processed food.

Late cancer diagnosis 'costs up to 10,000 lives a year'

Failure to pick up cancer at an early stage costs the lives of up to 10,000 a year in England, the government's cancer tsar is reported to have said.

The Guardian quotes National Cancer Director Professor Mike Richards as saying the situation is "unacceptable". Currently, 90% of patients are diagnosed by symptoms, rather than through screening. Professor Richards' comments will feature in a forthcoming article in the British Journal of Cancer.

In an excerpt published in the Guardian, Professor Richards said: "These delays in the patient presenting with symptoms and cancer being diagnosed at a late stage inevitably costs lives. The situation is unacceptable so the first big step has been to understand why the delays occur."

Professor Richards said that if diagnosis in England was as good as in the best-performing European countries many lives could be saved...
Source: BBC.

Friday 27 November 2009

Blood stain scandal hits two hospitals

An expert taskforce is to be sent into a hospital after inspectors uncovered a litany of grisly failings.
They have been called in by watchdogs who found floors and curtains stained with blood, blood-spattered trays used to carry implements, soiled mattresses and mouldy breathing machines. Inspectors also highlighted higher-than-expected death rates at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which operates two hospitals in Essex.
The findings emerged after a surprise visit, just weeks after another official report rated the trust as 'good'...
Source: The Metro

Thursday 26 November 2009

Bulimic teenager 'let down by useless NHS'

"A teenager who battled anorexia and bulimia was let down by health chiefs, an inquest heard yesterday.
Alice Rae's father, Peter, criticised the care given to his daughter a fortnight before she died. The 18-year-old was admitted to hospital on December 29 last year when her blood potassium levels were dangerously low. She was discharged within hours and was found dead in her bed by her mother two weeks later..."
Source: The Metro

Brain tumour boy dies after being shunted between three hospitals

"A 10-year-old boy suffering a burst brain tumour died after being taken to three hospitals and waiting for seven hours for an ambulance transfer.
The parents of Kieran Howard were left watching helplessly amid errors by NHS staff. An inquest today was due to hear how doctors initially failed to realise Kieran was fatally ill. There was a seven-hour delay transferring him from Pembury Hospital in Kent to St Thomas' Hospital in London because ambulance crews were "too busy".
Medical staff then searched desperately for a neurosurgical unit which could operate. He was finally taken to King's College Hospital, but never regained consciousness, dying on 2 April last year. In all, it took 15 hours for him to receive specialist treatment..."

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Brain damage victim wins £3.2m after doctors missed meningitis

A man who was left severely brain-damaged after doctors failed to diagnose he was suffering from meningitis for five days was today awarded £3.2million in compensation.

Mark Thomas, 20, is unable to work or live independently as a result of the brain injury sustained in 2002, when he was 12 years old. Doctors at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands did not link his symptoms to the potentially fatal illness...

Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which represents Mr Thomas, said he first attended Walsall Manor hospital on February 9 2002 following a series of ear infections. He complained of a stiff neck, an aversion to bright lights and extreme lethargy, the firm said. A blood test was taken but the results - which showed Mr Thomas to be suffering from a meningeal infection of the brain - were not reviewed and he was sent home.

A spokesman for Irwin Mitchell said: "These symptoms, together with the blood test results, if they had been reviewed, should have rung alarm bells with doctors. However, rather than admitting Mark into hospital, he was instead sent home and the blood test was not acted upon for five days."

On February 14 Mr Thomas's parents took him back to the hospital where they were told by a nurse that his condition was not sufficiently serious and they were "using emergency A&E services inappropriately". When the couple demanded a second opinion the blood test results were analysed and meningitis was diagnosed...
Source: The Metro

Monday 23 November 2009

Inquiry into finger operation death opens

From The BBC:
A man died during a routine operation on his pinkie finger, a fatal accident inquiry has heard.
Gordon Ewing, 44, from Cambuslang, suffered a cardiac arrest while being treated at the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow in May 2006. A pathologist told the hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court the death was "intrinsically linked" to lung puncture which happened during his operation...
The FAI heard that the 44-year-old initially broke his finger while playing with his son. He was treated at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, but the injury did not set properly and he required a further operation. The petrol station owner then went to the Victoria Infirmary in May 2006. After being given a drug to relax the muscles, Mr Ewing began to show signs of swelling and it was initially felt he had suffered an adverse reaction.
Both lungs eventually collapsed and, despite efforts to revive him, the father-of-two died in the hospital's anaesthetic room...

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary told to improve swiftly

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has demanded "urgent improvements" at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

It follows a Healthcare Environment Inspectorate report highlighting issues needing to be addressed, including cleanliness and infection control. Ms Sturgeon said: "This report makes difficult reading. I am disappointed that so much room for improvement has been identified."

A follow-up inspection was said to already have found some progress. Inspectors had found patients who should be in isolation being treated in general wards, and stains and spillages that had not been cleaned up...
Source: BBC

Friday 20 November 2009

GPs too slow to save girl, five, from swine flu, say family

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD girl suffering from swine flu died after doctors took two weeks to diagnose her illness, according to her family.

Nida Qureshi, from Slough, was seen by three GPs and a hospital doctor who told her parents she may have had tonsillitis. By the time doctors discovered she had the H1N1 virus, Nida was on a life support machine. She died eight days later on 11 November at St Mary's hospital in Paddington.

The girl's uncle said her parents Zubair, 28, and Raheela, 30, who is pregnant with their second child, believe Nida may have lived if swine flu had been diagnosed earlier. Jawaid Qureshi, said: "Her mum, a child carer, and dad are very angry. Nobody picked it up - it's just devastating. We asked lots of questions and got no answers." Mr Qureshi said Nida, who he described as a "bright girl who loved school" did not have any underlying health problems but this has not been confirmed.

Nida also had a lung infection as well as swine flu.
This is number six in our occasional series of people dying from swine flu after being misdiagnosed.

Source: Evening Standard.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Liver cancer drug 'too expensive'

A drug that can prolong the lives of patients with advanced liver cancer has been rejected for use in the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said the cost of Nexavar - about £3,000 a month - was "simply too high".

But Macmillan Cancer Support said the decision was "a scandal".

More than 3,000 people are diagnosed with liver cancer every year in the UK and their prognosis is generally poor.

Only about 20% of patients are alive one year after diagnosis, dropping to just 5% after five years.


Campaigner Kate Spall, who won the right to have two months of treatment for her mother, Pamela Northcott, in 2007, said it had prolonged her life by four-and-a-half "precious" months.

It had allowed her 58-year-old mother, from Dyserth in Denbighshire, "closure" and "peace", she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The problem in Mum's case is it took a year for me to fight for the treatment, so we'll never know how well she could have done," she said.

"We had extra time, which was very precious to us all, her symptoms were helped greatly. And, more importantly, for Mum it was a case of getting some closure and peace.

"The psychological feeling when a group of people decide that you cannot have a treatment that can help you is really devastating."

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Mother death hospital prosecuted

A hospital in Swindon is to be prosecuted on health and safety charges over the death of a nurse shortly after she gave birth. Mayra Cabrera, a 30-year-old theatre nurse, had a drug used in epidurals pumped into her arm at the Great Western Hospital on 11 May, 2004. She died of a heart attack after giving birth to her son, Zac, who survived.

The Health and Safety Executive has told the hospital it is prosecuting over alleged "safety breaches". Sue Rowley, director of nursing at the Great Western Hospital NHS Trust, said: "The Trust have been summoned to appear at the magistrates court at a future date. We regret the additional distress this case causes Mayra's family and friends and we will minimise this as much as possible by seeking a swift resolution to the case."
The whole exercise seems like tokenism at its worst, but hey.

Source: BBC.

Thursday 12 November 2009

1,800 Deaths A Year Linked To Dementia Drug

Up to 1,800 elderly dementia patients are dying each year from wrongly prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, a Government report has found.

Only around 36,000 of the 180,000 people currently on the drugs in the UK need them, the report said, leaving 144,000 people taking them unnecessarily.

Anti-psychotic medicines are licensed to treat people with schizophrenia and are used off-licence for dementia patients in care homes and hospitals.

In his review, Sube Banerjee, professor of mental health and ageing at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, said the rate of use of anti-psychotic drugs could be cut to one third of its current level with appropriate action.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Hospital slated over cobwebs, dusty floors and dirty toilets

A SCOTTISH hospital has been told to make improvements in its infection control after inspectors found dusty floors, dirty toilets and other areas of concern.

The report said: "In the outpatient reception area, the inspection team found evidence of poor cleanliness in all the inspected public toilets with these areas being generally dusty, dirty under the paper towel holder and in the sink areas.

"The carpet within the outpatients department was heavily stained in several public areas."

In ward six, the report said there were several areas of concern: "The floors were dusty particularly in the corner areas, there was no domestic waste bin in the patient toilets, cobwebs were present in a number of high spaces and a dirty toilet seat and bowl were observed."

The inspectors also found that the patient day room was being used to store equipment, while a patient bathroom was being used as a staff toilet.

They said furniture in the day room was "of an unsatisfactory standard and in need of repair".
Source: The Scotsman

Monday 9 November 2009

Government targets increase superbug risks, say NHS infection chiefs

While rates of MRSA and Clostridium difficile are falling, after scandals over major outbreaks, other potentially fatal infections which receive less attention appear to be soaring, the Commons public accounts committee will say.

Around 300,000 infections are diagnosed in English hospitals every year – but many more potentially fatal bugs may be going undetected, because of a lack of surveillance, research has found.

A voluntary scheme charting all bloodstream infections found numbers increased by 30 per cent between 2003 and 2007, in what the committee's chairman Edward Leigh described as a "rising tide" of infections threatening all hospital patients.

The report is expected to show increasing numbers of cases of E-coli, linked to surgical site infections and urinary tract problems, and in cases of the bacterial infection Klebsiella.

The Sunday Telegraph has established that the NHS' most senior doctors and scientists responsible for infection control believe their efforts are being hindered by Government waiting targets.

An anonymous survey of 170 NHS directors of infection control found that 59 per cent had experienced a clash between their efforts to block the spread of disease and rules which say new patients must be found a bed within four hours.

Saturday 7 November 2009

Man sent home from hospital died after being given wrong diagnosis

A man who was sent home from hospital by doctors who thought he had a virus died hours later, an inquest heard.

Doctors believed Nitesh Sharma's symptoms were the result of a winter bug, but in fact he had a twist in his bowel which caused a heart attack and multiple organ failure.

The 29-year-old had been taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary by his wife, Hiral, on November 21, 2007, after he had complained of chest pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.

He underwent tests and was discharged by doctors, who told the inquest they believed he had the norovirus.

His wife was so concerned after seeing him double-up in pain in the hospital car park she insisted he was checked again, and the second doctor came to the same conclusion.

At 6am the next day, he was re-admitted to hospital and minutes later suffered a heart attack. It was then that doctors discovered he had a kink in his bowel, which it is believed would have caused his vomiting and diarrhoea.

Mr Sharma underwent emergency surgery but died later that day as a result of multiple organ failure, the inquest at Leicester Town Hall heard.

Consultant general surgeon David Hemingway carried out the emergency surgery. He told the coroner that Mr Sharma would have had a less than 5% chance of dying if the operation had been carried before the heart attack.
Or, to put it another way, if one of the two doctors who had examined him had noticed the problem, there is a 95% chance he would still be alive today. Because ...

The inquest heard that other than having Type 1 diabetes, Mr Sharma had been in good health.
The pathologist, it would seem, was careful not to upset her NHS chums.

Pathologist Dr Catherine Richards told the inquest ... "It is possible he could have survived if surgery had been carried out before."
Possible? 95% is a darn site more than 'possible'.

Source: Leicester Mercury

Sunday 1 November 2009

'Whitewash' claim over Lisa Norris radiation overdose ruling

The family of a teenager wrongly given massive doses of radiation has branded a decision not to punish the doctor responsible a “whitewash”.

The Health Professions Council (HPC) upheld charges against Dr Stuart McNee at a disciplinary hearing in Edinburgh but decided he should not be struck off.

Speaking afterwards, the parents of Lisa Norris said the decision was a “travesty” and said no one had taken responsibility for administering 19 radiation overdoses.

The 16-year-old was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2005, and was given radiation 58 per cent higher than prescribed in January 2006.

This left her with burns on her head and neck. She died from the tumour at her home in Ayrshire later that year.

The conduct and competence hearing was attended by Lisa’s parents Ken and Liz, who said they would continue with legal action against Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board.

Mr Norris, 53, said: “I'm very disappointed that a man can do what he did and walk away from it. I was expecting him to at least get reprimanded for it.

“I expected him to be here so we could come face to face with him. No one has taken responsibility for overdosing Lisa and as far as I'm concerned they have just whitewashed it.

“It doesn't matter that he had a good, impeccable record. What he did, he shouldn't have done. It's a travesty.”

The HPC disciplinary panel found Dr McNee had been responsible for planning the botched course of radiotherapy at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow.

But they concluded his biggest failing had been not speaking out over staffing pressures in his department.

This had led to his failure to ensure that standing operating procedures were up to date or even followed, or to make sure that systems were in place to ensure his trainee practitioners were supported.

Alistair Forsyth, representing Dr McNee, argued his client had “simply reached a breaking point where too much was being expected of him”.

The doctor had to deal with 80 to 100 cases at any one time and was the only senior radiotherapy physicist involved in treatment planning at one of the busiest centres of its kind in the UK.

Baby died after 'massive overdose' of glucose

A premature baby, Poppy Davies, died after being given a ''massive overdose'' of glucose following a series of blunders at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Poppy was transferred to the leading children's hospital in London for specialist care after she was born three months early on Christmas Eve last year, in Basildon, Essex.

But she died after a "domino effect" of mistakes, an inquest was told.

Rebecca Tite, a trainee nurse, who had spent just three weeks in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, set up a machine supplying her with glucose incorrectly, flooding her body with the solution.

The levels of glucose in Poppy's blood rose to 20 times the maximum level they should have been, causing ''devastating effects'' to her body, St Pancras Coroner's Court in central London heard.

The machine that nurses would have preferred to use to give Poppy glucose would have prevented an accidental overdose being given to her, the inquest heard.

But the equipment was not available after being taken away to help threat a five-year-old boy suffering from meningitis who had needed it urgently.

Both Mrs Tite and Claire Kirk, the senior nurse on duty on January 11, the day of the overdose, failed to check the safety clamp on the syringe that was then used to provide glucose.

As as result, instead of being carefully measured, a free flow of glucose entered Poppy's bloodstream and circulated for over an hour.

The nurses then failed to respond to alarms that sounded in the baby's cubicle which could have alerted them to the fatal error, as they were treating her for breathing problems instead.

Doctors eventually tried to save Poppy's life by giving her insulin but she died on February 1.

Patient left locked in ambulance

NHS bosses have apologised to a patient in Manchester who was locked in an ambulance for five hours after the driver went home and forgot about him.

The man, 65, was stranded at Sharston ambulance station, Wythenshawe, after being collected by an ambulance from Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The alarm was raised when he failed to return to the care home where he lives.

The North West Ambulance Service said an inquiry had begun and a staff member "was suspended with immediate effect".

The incident happened on Tuesday when the patient was collected from the hospital at 1915 GMT.

Instead of being returned to the care home, he was driven back to the ambulance station where he was left until 0100 GMT.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

You've got asthma, tumour girl, 10, told

A girl of ten died after doctors failed to spot a tumour in her throat eight times - and misdiagnosed it as asthma, an inquest heard yesterday.
Bethany Flowers was repeatedly taken to hospital in the two weeks before her death after collapsing with breathing difficulties. Her breathing problems became so severe doctors had to transfer her to a specialist unit with a life support machine to keep her alive. But an air ambulance was diverted to another emergency and she died being transferred by road...
Source: The Metro

Thursday 22 October 2009

patients receiving oxygen treatment are being put at unnecessary risk because of poor monitoring and faulty equipment

Concerns are being raised that patients receiving oxygen treatment are being put at unnecessary risk because of poor monitoring and faulty equipment.

The National Patient Safety Agency has given hospitals in England and Wales until the end of March to improve.

The watchdog said it was acting after receiving reports of people dying and being seriously harmed due to problems.

Experts said despite over 2m people getting oxygen treatment each year, it was still not being prioritised enough.

The therapy is given to a range of patients, including people with lung problems, trauma patients and those struggling with serious infections.

The NPSA acted after a voluntary reporting scheme flagged up a "substantial" number of mistakes.

The watchdog had been alerted to almost 300 incidents, including 44 deaths, where mistakes had been made over the past five years.

But officials said the true figure was likely to be much higher, as not all cases would have been reported under the scheme.

Tuesday 20 October 2009

'I lost my daughter after GP failed to notice cancer'

Mike Sams, whose 26-year-old daughter Nikki died of cervical cancer, said a "catalogue of unforgivable errors" cost her her life.

Miss Sams's GP, Dr Navin Shankar, 59, who treated her at a health centre in Luton, is being investigated by the General Medical Council. Miss Sams only found out she had cervical cancer after switching doctors following years of complaints to Dr Shankar.

The GMC has already heard he did not perform an abdominal or internal examination or send her to hospital, despite her complaints of intermenstrual bleeding. It also found Dr Shankar, who had treated the advertising saleswoman from Luton between 1999 and 2005, failed to keep adequate records.

A performance assessment of the GP is now being carried out, and the GMC will then decide whether sanctions should be taken against him...
So there's no default that the NHS sue him for failing to do what they were paying him to do? Pity.

Source: Evening Standard.

Thursday 15 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 (1) 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 (2). 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 (3) 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 (4) and over three quarters of GP surgeries are providing extended opening hours (5), 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." (6)

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 (7). But much of the focus is on hospitals: fewer acute and specialist trusts were rated excellent, with more receiving an unimpressive fair grading.
(1) For 'regulator' read 'quango'.

(2) WTF? Shut down an 'NHS trust'? What does that mean in practice? Replace it with a new team of the same quangista?

(3) WTF? They have a minister just for 'rating' the NHS?

(4) After having quadrupled over the previous ten years.

(5) Compared to what? Several years ago, the government offered GPs a £6,000 pay cut in exchange for reducing opening hours and nearly all of them took the pay cut.

(6) I haven't checked this, but Andrew Lansley has always seemed pretty straight to me, so I tend to believe him.

(7) Unless they're on their lunch-break, of course.

Source: BBC

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Ambulance crew barred from helping girl, 9, with fractured skull 'because they were having their lunch'

Ambulance staff battling to save a nine-year-old car crash victim were told the nearest back-up crew could not help as they were on their lunch break.

Bethany Dibbs was struck by a car as she crossed the road on her scooter and ended up in a coma with a fractured skull.

An ambulance crew arrived and called for help, only to be told by their operator that under strict meal break regulations the closest additional crew still had a few minutes left on their lunch break.

The paramedics were informed it would take 20 minutes for another crew to arrive.

In the end one of them called their colleagues directly and they abandoned their lunch and raced to help.

They arrived only five minutes after the original crew and took Bethany to hospital.

An ambulance worker, who asked not be named, said: 'There isn't one staff member who would not go, but we have to be given two 30-minute meal breaks and can't be interrupted. It's a joke.'

Bethany's father Stephen 48, of Poole, Dorset, said: 'The world really has gone mad.

'My little girl was lying unconscious in the road and they are quoting statutory health and safety regulations? Every second counts in that situation.

'Bethany is recovering but she's still got a long way to go. We're waiting to find out whether she has any long-term brain damage.'

Mr Dibbs added: 'I can't fault the paramedics. They were fantastic. It is the system.'

A spokesman for the South Western Ambulance Service Trust said it took its health and safety duties seriously.

He added: 'In line with national guidelines which must be adhered to by all ambulance trusts, it is important all staff have dedicated 30-minute rest breaks which cannot be interrupted.'

False waiting time figures probed

A hospital has apologised and launched an inquiry after hundreds of patients' records were altered to suggest NHS waiting time targets were met.

Records were changed to claim patients were treated within four hours at the Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham.

A review found 765 records were amended between March and September.

The hospital previously said it met government targets of treating 98% of patients within four hours, but the review shows in reality it did not.

Nurse force fed medicine to OAPs

A nurse who force-fed medicine to two elderly patients has been convicted of two counts of ill treatment and one of neglect.

Penelope Webber, 52, wrestled one patient and knelt on another's chest at Whitchurch Hospital, Cardiff, a jury was told.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

You can own a Dog, but not your own body...

Sick American dogs get first shot at cancer drugs

Dogs with cancer in the US are now entitled to receive experimental drugs – before the drugs are available for humans. Twelve trials are under way on groups of 15 to 60 dogs, and in several of them cancers have disappeared.

"We've had dramatic remissions in dogs with really aggressive cancers," says Chand Khanna, head of the Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium newly formed in Bethesda, Maryland, by the US National Cancer Institute. "We've also had responses allowing dogs to have their original cancers surgically removed," he says.

Monday 12 October 2009

Pensioner 'left to die in hospice after doctors wrongly diagnosed him with cancer

A grandfather who beat cancer was wrongly told the disease had returned and left to die under controversial 'death pathway', his devastated family said today.

Doctors ruled they could do nothing more for Jack Jones, 76, and placed him on the Liverpool Care Pathway - a controversial policy under which medication and food and water are steadily withdrawn. He died within two weeks.

But tests after his death found that his cancer had not come back, and he was in fact suffering from pneumonia brought on by a chest infection.
Jack Jones
Pat Jones

Source Daily Mail

Grandmother, 72, has leg amputated after hospital wrongly diagnoses cancer

A 72-year-old grandmother had her leg amputated after being told she had cancer only to find out her leg was healthy all along.

Doreen Nicholls underwent the surgery in 2007 and now needs a wheelchair to get about. According to the Sunday Telegraph, the grandmother was wrongly diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer and was told that without a leg amputation, she would die.

Tests carried out after the operation revealed that her left leg, which had been cut off below the knee, was in fact healthy. Mrs Nicholls told the newspaper that the misdiagnosis, at Birmingham's Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, has destroyed her life.

Despite refusing to accept it was negligent in its treatment of Mrs Nicholls, the specialist hospital has agreed to pay her an out of court settlement which her lawyers described as a 'substantial six-figure sum'...
Source: The Daily Mail.

Thanks to JuliaM for alerting us.

NHS staff cost £1.5m in private healthcare

The National Health Service has been criticised for spending £1.5million on private health care for staff.

More than 3,300 NHS workers have received private medical treatment in the past three years, it was revealed yesterday. Between April 2006 and April 2007, 708 NHS staff received private treatment at a cost of £280,000. In 2008, 988 staff cost £470,000 in private hospital bills and in the 12 months to April this year, 1,641 staff received treatment at a cost of £828,000.

"If the NHS thinks it necessary to pay for private treatment for its staff to jump waiting lists then it raises serious questions about whether the current system is working as it should," said Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb.

A spokeswoman for the Patients Association, which represents NHS patients, said: 'I am really surprised. If the NHS's own staff are not using its service then it is sending out mixed messages to patients who, often, do not have the choice.'

The Royal College of Nursing said using private companies to treat NHS staff did not seem like the 'most appropriate use of money'. There must be 'greater investment in treatment for work-related problems, such as physiotherapy and counselling services', added Dr Peter Carter of the RCN.

The Department of Health said decisions on sending staff to private healthcare were taken locally.
Source: The Metro

Lung transplant was cancerous

A British soldier died after he was given a pair of cancerous lungs in a transplant.

Cpl Matthew Millington, 31, had the transplant after he fell seriously ill. But less than a year later the soldier, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, died after it transpired he had been given cancerous lungs from a donor who had smoked...
Source: The Metro

Youngest hospital boss who is earning £155k aged just 32... and the NHS chief (52) who happens to be her fiancĂ©

The chief executive of the NHS faces questions over his relationship with one of the country's youngest hospital bosses - who is 20 years his junior.

David Nicholson, 52, who is in charge of managing the Health Service in England and Wales, has announced he is to marry Sarah-Jane Marsh, 32, next year.

Miss Marsh was appointed to the £155,000-a-year post at scandal-hit Birmingham Children's Hospital in June this year. She is thought to be the youngest-ever holder of a chief executive position.

She was given the role despite the fact Government health watchdogs had criticised management at the trust while she was previously in charge of day-to-day operations.

In 2002, Miss Marsh was selected for a six-month placement in Mr Nicholson's office when he was in a senior health role for the Midlands and the East of England.

She was one of a number of graduate trainees taken on by the NHS every year and her success story appears prominently on the management scheme's promotional website.

Since her time working with Mr Nicholson, she has enjoyed a rapid ascent of the management ranks, taking on two senior roles in Walsall before securing a chief operating officer job at Birmingham Children's Hospital in December 2007.

She became interim chief executive at the trust in March this year. On each occasion, Mr Nicholson has been named as a referee on her application. However, the Department of Health (DoH) says he only provided a reference for her first position in Walsall.

It is unclear when the pair's relationship began but Mr Nicholson formally informed the Permanent Secretary to the DoH, Sir Hugh Taylor, of his engagement to Miss Marsh at the start of September.

DoH officials would not confirm whether Mr Nicholson had previously mentioned the relationship or when it started.

Mr Nicholson is thought to be divorced with two grown-up sons. In an interview given in June this year, the interviewer wrote: 'His family, who live in Harrogate, must see virtually nothing of him.'

Thursday 8 October 2009

Errors by NHS staff led to 5,700 deaths in six months, report says

Figures from the National Patient Safety Agency showed that 459,500 patient safety incidents and near misses occurred in England between last October and March.

This is a 12 per cent increase on the previous six months but the agency, which collects and monitors safety data in the NHS, said that better reporting was fuelling the rise. Martin Fletcher, the agency’s chief executive, added: “More reports do not mean more risks to patients. Indeed, quite the reverse. These data are sound evidence of an improving reporting culture across the NHS. Frontline staff are more likely than ever to raise safety concerns much more openly.”

A breakdown showed that 303,016 cases, or 66 per cent, resulted in no harm to the patient, while 122,246 (27 per cent) resulted in low harm. Another 28,521 incidents (6 per cent) resulted in moderate harm, and 5,717 (1 per cent) resulted in death or severe harm. The most commonly reported incidents were accidents involving patients that could possibly have been prevented (32.8 per cent), followed by errors or near misses with treatments or procedures (10.1 per cent) and medication (9.4 per cent)...
Source: The Times

Thanks to JQ for emailing me the link!

Tumours boy told he was just depressed

A teenager with two brain tumours was told by doctors he was 'just depressed' and should get out more.

Jake Mellor was even sent to a community mental health unit as the tumours grew. The 15-year-old was first admitted to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in January after suffering headaches and nose bleeds, where medics told his mother he needed treatment for depression.

But, five months later, they called Jake in for an MRI scan and found tumours the size of ping-pong balls on his pituitary gland. Jake, of Forsbrook, Staffordshire, had a gruelling course of radiotherapy but must now wait until November 17 to find out how effective it has been...
Source: The Metro

Crippled man up in arms over ops

THIS crippled plumber horribly broke his arm TEN months ago and is still waiting for surgery to repair it.

Torron Eeles busted his left humerus bone leaving it grotesquely out of shape when he fell down stairs.

Today he slammed the NHS for "unacceptable" delays - claiming they have cancelled FOUR separate operations. His arm hangs limply by his side meaning Torron cannot work for a living and now faces the prospect of losing his home.

Torron, from Welham Green, Herts, said he had applied for employment and support allowance but was denied both. The dad-of-three said: "This whole situation is absolutely disgusting. I have never heard of anyone else having a broken arm for 10 months. It's been so long the bones have knitted back together. Sleeping is really uncomfortable because whenever I roll over my arm gets in the way. I'm a kitchen fitter and plumber by trade but I can't even slice a load of bread let alone work."

Torron fractured his arm on December 3, 2008, and rushed straight to casualty where doctors put his arm in plaster. The first two ops were cancelled due to a lack of beds and operating time, claimed Torron. Then two more were delayed because of Torron's high blood pressure and concerns over his smoking.

Nick Carver, the chief executive of the East and North Herts NHS Trust, insisted computer records showed the trust had only cancelled two operations - one in February and a second in May. He said proceeding with the operations could have put Torron's life at risk. Mr Carver said: "Mr Eeles' operation was cancelled only twice - and then both on clinical safety grounds."

6ins water ‘too risky’ for paramedics

A MAN laying in six inches of water with a broken back was refused help by a paramedic - over health and safety rules.

The jobsworth insisted colleagues were trained only for land emergencies.

Bystanders floating dad-of-three Brian Bendle in the ankle-deep water had to slide a spinal board under him themselves and carry him to ambulancemen just 6ft away.

Brian, 45, had been injured waiting to take a jetski out on a lake at a water park. Another jetski hit him at 50mph.

One onlooker said: "The paramedic wouldn't treat him.

Two colleagues arrived in an ambulance but he stood in their way and told them, 'I'm incident commander - you aren't getting into the water.'

"The ambulancemen were pleading with him. I reckon a good ten or more minutes were wasted."

Steve Cox, 47 - who runs Middlemoor Water Park in Woolavington, Somerset - said: "The first bloke insisted they had to wait for the fire brigade. He kept saying, 'Health and safety won't let me get in.'"

Brian, from Bristol, is now in intensive care in Taunton.

An ambulance service spokesman said fire crews were trained for water rescues and added: "The incident was managed in accordance with procedures."

Friday 2 October 2009

Concern over out-of-hours treatment

More than nine million patients receive out-of-hours care in England every year but concerns have been voiced about the quality of treatment.

Before 2004, GPs covered the needs of their patients during non-office hours, at weekends and bank holidays. A contract negotiated between the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Government in 2004 allowed doctors to opt out of providing this care. In return for giving up £6,000 a year in salary, they could hand over responsibility for patients from 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays, and on all weekends and public holidays. Nine out of 10 GPs chose to do so, with primary care trusts (PCTs) taking on the role of providing cover.

They now commission out-of-hours services from a range of organisations including private firms, GP co-operatives and in-house teams at the PCT. Earlier this year, the Royal College of GPs called for a review of the use of overseas doctors in out-of-hours care. Last year, the NHS Alliance group of NHS staff said family doctors should take back responsibility for providing out-of-hours care as patients had lost confidence in the new arrangements.

In March 2007, the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) condemned the Government's preparations for the handover from GPs to PCTs as "shambolic". The PAC report put the cost of the new out-of-hours service at £70 million a year higher than predicted. It said the Department of Health "failed to explain" whether the service should cover just urgent cases or any request for help around the clock
Source: The Metro

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Paramedic's 'rant'' at 'f***ing p***ed' patient

A paramedic unleashed a four-letter tirade at a bus driver who called him out to treat a diabetic patient, a hearing was told.

Jason Sefton acted in a 'deliberate and fully disreputable' manner and accused the sick woman of being drunk, it was alleged. He told the bus driver: 'Look mate, she's pink, coherent and f***ing p***ed,' before adding he was too busy to deal with her. He later lied to his bosses by telling them the woman refused treatment.

She had to be saved by another ambulance crew after the incident in Liverpool in December 2007 and recovered in hospital. One of the medics, Chris Berry, said he challenged Sefton about his actions at the hospital but was subjected to a 'tirade' of swear words.

Sefton, of Liverpool, has resigned, the disciplinary hearing in central London was told.
Source: The Metro

Friday 25 September 2009

NHS hospital equipment 'under-used'

NHS hospitals are not making the most of expensive equipment, according to a new report.

An analysis found that some machines for treating conditions such as cancer are under-utilised. The warning came from the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA), which obtained data from 187 NHS trusts in England under the Freedom of Information Act.

Among other pieces of hospital equipment, researchers from the TPA looked at linear accelerator (Linac), which delivers radiotherapy to people suffering from cancer. Each dose is known as a fraction, with the fractions adding up to a course of treatment. The report found the average usage of each Linac machine in 2008 in the NHS was 7,191 fractions per year. The National Radiotherapy Advisory Group recommends an average of 8,000 fractions per machine per year.

Eleven trusts achieved this level but there was wide variation around the country, with Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and University College London Hospitals NHS Trust providing fewer than 5,000 fractions per machine, the study said. Researchers calculated that if all trusts falling below the national average got up to the average, an extra 128,758 fractions could be provided, equivalent to 18 more Linac machines.

Katherine Andrew, a research associate at the TPA, said: "These pieces of equipment are not only expensive, they are crucial to the treatment of people who suffer from a wide variety of conditions. It is simply not good enough that so many trusts are failing to make the best use of their resources, and in doing so letting down patients and taxpayers. If those trusts that are lagging behind caught up just with the NHS average, it would make hundreds of thousands of extra treatment and diagnosis procedures available."
Source: The Metro.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Mother gives birth in hospital car park after passers-by step in to help deliver her baby son

A mother told today of the moment she delivered her son in a hospital car park - with the kind help of strangers.

Alexandra Lakhan, 29, said three bystanders jumped into action to help her give birth in the car park of Newham General Hospital.

When Alexandra arrived at the hospital, she told her husband Rumell that the baby's head had already popped out.

Express delivery: Alexandra Lakhan with husband Rumell, daughter Anoushka and their newborn baby Jeevan, who was born in a hospital car park

He told his wife to wait in the car while he ran to the hospital reception to get some help, but found it was unmanned.

On the way back to see his wife, Rumell bought a ticket for the car, but when he rejoined her, she was already in the final stages of labour.

Rumell, a mortgage adviser, was aided by three bystanders to deliver 6lb 8oz Jeevan after a labour which lasted an hour in the car park.

'He didn't believe me when I said the baby's head was coming out,' said Alexandra, a teacher who has a two-year-old daughter, Anoushka.

'He put me on the floor, took my trousers off and saw the baby's head.'

Although the couple were a few yards from the hospital entrance, there were no medical workers around.

'Deaths rise' with junior doctors

Researchers say they have found a small but statistically significant increase in the number of patients who die each year when junior doctors start work.

An Imperial College team looked at 300,000 emergency patients admitted to English hospitals between 2000 to 2008.

They compared death rates between the first week of August, when new doctors arrive, and the previous week in July.

After adjusting for various factors, they report in PLoS One that the August patients were 6% more likely to die.

Mother of five killed by doctor's drugs blunder

A mother of five died after a consultant mistakenly prescribed a lethal dose of a chemotherapy drug, an inquest heard.

Anna McKenna was given four times the recommended daily amount of Idarubicin to treat her bone marrow cancer.

The overdose destroyed almost all of the 56-year-old's infection-fighting white blood cells, leaving her immune system powerless against disease.

Her kidneys failed and she died three weeks after first taking the drug. Her doctor admitted prescribing 60mg of the drug per day instead of 15mg.

'I am very sorry that a mistake was made,' Dr Jacqueline James, a consultant haematologist at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, told the inquest.

'She was given four times the required dose. I had written out the prescription after a long and emotional meeting with Mrs McKenna and her family and filled it out wrong.' Mrs McKenna, a housewife from Knowle in Bristol, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in March 2006.

The chemotherapy drug was prescribed to prolong her life but she died of renal failure in April 2006.

Dr James' error was not picked up by staff at the hospital's pharmacy. The prescription, which would identify the pharmacist at fault, has gone missing.

The inquest continues at Flax Bourton Coroner's Court.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

One in six NHS patients 'misdiagnosed'

As many as one in six patients treated in NHS hospitals and GPs’ surgeries is being misdiagnosed, experts have warned.

Doctors were making mistakes in up to 15 per cent of cases because they were too quick to judge patients’ symptoms, they said, while others were reluctant to ask more senior colleagues for help.

While in most cases the misdiagnosis did not result in the patient suffering serious harm, a sizeable number of the millions of NHS patients were likely to suffer significant health problems as a result, according to figures. It was said that the number of misdiagnoses was “just the tip of the iceberg”, with many people still reluctant to report mistakes by their doctors.

There was a call for better reporting methods to ensure that each misdiagnosis was recorded and monitored properly.

Prof Graham Neale, of the Imperial Centre for Patient Safety and Service Quality at Imperial College London, who is carrying out research into cases of misdiagnosis in the NHS, said it was a problem that was not being adequately dealt with.

“There is absolutely no doubt that this is being under-reported,” he said. “But more importantly they are not being adequately analysed.

“Trainee doctors are too quick to judgment, that is one of the problems that we face.”

Friday 18 September 2009

Woman bled to death after doctor punctured her jugular

A young woman died in hospital during an operation after doctors punctured her neck while inserting a drip.

Sally Thompson, 20, lost two litres of blood after the neck puncture and had to wait nearly two hours before she could receive a blood transfusion.

The doctor failed to follow NHS guidelines when inserting the drip and punctured her jugular vein.

Doctors at Manchester Royal Infirmary then requested blood from the hospital but none arrived until one hour and 45 minutes later.

Ms Thompson, an administration assistant from Middleton, had a rare blood disorder and went to hospital feeling weak.

Dr Jaydeep Mandel decided to use a central venous catheter to insert drugs but should have used ultra-sound equipment, according to guidelines.

"It beggars belief that the ultrasound equipment was there and could have saved a life but wasn't used. The guidelines were in place to stop something like this happening."
Source: Metro

Thursday 17 September 2009

Cancer cases found after errors

This is the same story as in the previous post, but it mentions eighteen rather than fourteen cases.
Eighteen women have been told they have breast cancer after screening errors by a radiologist in East Lancashire failed to detect the disease.

The women were among hundreds who had mammograms at Accrington Victoria Community Hospital, of which 355 cases were reviewed in an independent study. East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said it was "not possible" to say if the women's prognosis was affected. The radiologist involved last screened patients in December 2008. The trust said they had not worked since April.

The blunder came to light through internal monitoring in the screening service which sparked an independent investigation. As a result all of the radiologist's breast cancer screenings over the past three years were scrutinised, said the hospital trust. Of these cases 85 women were re-tested and 14 diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and all are receiving treatment.

A further four patients were found to have ductal carcinoma in situ - a non-invasive breast cancer - which had not progressed.
Source: BBC

Hospital missed 14 breast cancer cases

Fourteen women have been told they have breast cancer after a consultant conducted faulty mammograms, hospital bosses said today.

The women were given the devastating news after colleagues of the consultant, a senior radiologist working for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, raised concerns about his work.

In all, 355 mammograms, going back three years, had to be re-checked by an independent review of breast screening assessment clinics carried out by a "quality assurance" team of medics. Eighty-five women had to undergo a second breast examination, and 14 were told they had invasive breast cancer. Another four women were diagnosed with a secondary breast condition, but medics insist their prognosis will not be affected by the wait. All the women are aged over 50.

Hospital chiefs said the prognosis for treating early stage breast cancer is "good" but it was not known whether the delay would harm their chances of recovery.
Source: The Metro

Wednesday 16 September 2009

NHS patient sets up 'Hospital Bingo' to work out what he is being served for lunch each day

He has spent more than 20 weeks in hospital this year - and has become sick of the food on offer.

So sick, in fact, that he's taken to photographing the unappetising dishes and posting the pictures on the internet for his friends to guess what they are.

The unnamed patient, a 47-year-old freelance journalist who is writing a blog under the pseudonym of Traction Man, calls the game Hospital Food Bingo.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Cancer drug hopes to be dashed.

A drug that significantly extends life expectancy for patients with liver cancer is set to be refused by the government's health watchdog.

Nexavar increases survival rates by 44 per cent and without it, the only option for patients is supportive and palliative care to make their final months less painful.

However, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is set to refuse to make it available on the NHS.

In the UK, there are approximately 2,800 new diagnoses of primary liver cancer made every year and the disease is responsible for causing around 2,800 deaths annually.

In May this year when NICE published their preliminary findings into the drug, they said that the drug "would not be a cost-effective use of NHS resources".

The cost of Nexavar per month is £2980.47 and the patient access scheme, run by the drug company, is every 4th pack free.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Baby had 'no right' to live, say NHS doctors

Bereaved mother's campaign against medical guidelines that allow premature babies to die

A mother who watched her premature baby die when doctors refused to help him has condemned medical guidelines which said he should not be saved.

Sarah Capewell gave birth to a baby son when she was 21 weeks and 5 days into her pregnancy. Her pleas to doctors and midwives to admit the newborn to a special care baby unit were rejected.

Staff at James Paget Hospital, in Gorleston, Norfolk, told her that if her son Jayden had been born two days later, at 22 weeks, they would have tried to help him.

Instead, Miss Capewell, who had previously suffered five miscarriages, says she was told the child had "no right" to life, by doctors, who refused to even see the baby, which lived for almost two hours without any support.

Medical guidance for NHS hospitals says the low chance of survival for babies born below 23 weeks means they should not be given interventions which could cause suffering.

Miss Capewell says her increasingly desperate pleas to assist her baby were met with a brusque response from doctors, who said she should consider the labour as a miscarriage, rather than a birth.

When she implored a paediatrician: "You have got to help" he responded: "No we don't".

After asking doctors to consider his human right to life, she claims she was told: "He hasn't got a human right, he is a foetus".
22 weeks good, 2 days less bad.

Source: The Telegraph

Friday 4 September 2009

Fatal or serious NHS medication errors double in two years

At least 100 patients are dying or suffering serious harm each year after healthcare workers give them the wrong medication. The number of alerts relating to errors or “near-misses” in the supply or prescription of medicines has more than doubled in two years, the National Patient Safety Agency said.

More than 86,000 incidents regarding medication were reported in 2007, compared with 64,678 in 2006 and 36,335 in 2005. The figures, for England and Wales, show that in 96 per cent of cases the incidents caused “no or low harm”, but at least 100 were known to have resulted in serious harm or death.

Workload pressures, long hours, fatigue and reduced staff levels have contributed to errors, but the “serious consequences” of failing to administer, prescribe or dispense medicines correctly are still not well recognised in the NHS though they can be fatal, the report said.

The figures — based on voluntary reporting by hospitals, clinics and GPs — are thought to be a vast underestimate of the number of errors. Professor David Cousins, a senior pharmacist at the agency, said it was well known that only about 10 per cent of incidents were reported in most voluntary systems. This suggests that there were as many as 860,000 errors or near-misses involving medicines in 2007.
Source: The Times

Thursday 3 September 2009

Overdose doctor 'regrets error'

A doctor who gave a patient six times* the proper dose of a painkiller has told a General Medical Council panel he "bitterly regrets the error." Dr Michael Stevenson, 57, of Cumbria, said he thought he had given a 59-year-old builder 5mg of diamorphine in 2005, but had actually administered 35mg. The panel heard the man stopped breathing and needed an antidote.

In 2007, the 57-year-old GP admitted manslaughter after accidentally giving a female patient a fatal overdose.
He was given a suspended jail sentence for the mistake which killed Marjorie Wright, of Workington, in January 2005...

"Clearly I bitterly regret the error. I go over it in my mind and try to find an explanation. It has had a big effect on me. I have never ever made an error of that magnitude in my life."
Well, apart from the woman you killed in the same year, of course.

* I make that seven.

Source; BBC

Sentenced to death on the NHS

Patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors have warned.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.

“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.

“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients."

The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.

NHS failings on cannibal detailed

Two reports are to detail NHS failings over the handling of a schizophrenic killer who killed two more people after release from a secure hospital.

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, in Berkshire.

The reports will look at how the risk he posed was assessed and the levels of security under which he was held.

Bryan was first sent to Rampton secure hospital in 1994 after beating 20-year-old shop assistant Nisha Sheth to death with a hammer in a clothes shop in Chelsea, south-west London. In 2002 he was released after applying to a mental health tribunal and allowed to live as a care in the community out-patient...
Source: BBC

{Scottish}Surgeons leave 300 instruments in the bodies of patients

SURGEONS left behind more than 300 instruments and pieces of equipment in patients' bodies in Scottish hospitals over the past five years.
Since 2004, at least 280 patients had to be re-admitted to hospitals to have "foreign objects" extracted from them, figures released by the Scottish Government have revealed.

While health boards have refused to release details of individual cases, most incidents are understood to have involved small items such as needles and swabs.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde reported the largest number of cases, with 70 patients going back to hospital after objects were left inside them. NHS Lothian reported 28 cases over the same period, followed by Fife (25), Grampian and Ayrshire and Arran (both 21), Lanarkshire (19), Highland (13), and Forth Valley and Tayside (both 12).

The exact spread of the problem is not known because boards with fewer than five cases a year refuse to publish the data, citing patient confidentiality.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Injured woman lay in road for three hours waiting for ambulance

An injured shopper was left lying in the road for three hours in pouring rain waiting for an ambulance.

The woman, 53, was knocked unconscious after falling out of a taxi and when she came round she complained she could not move her neck.

An ambulance was called at 6pm, but the woman was forced to wait until 9pm for a police officer trained in first aid to arrive, assess her and take her to hospital in a police van.
woman left lying in road waiting for ambulance

The NHS today launched an inquiry into why an ambulance failed to turn up at the incident in the Grangetown area of Cardiff.

Monday 31 August 2009

Mother-of-three died in pub as solo woman paramedic 'stood outside and refused to help'

A pub manager has demanded disciplinary action against a paramedic she claims would not help save a customer's life.

Melissa Procter-Blain, 32, died after suffering a heart attack at The Crown in Spondon, Derbyshire.

Her friends and family have told how the lone paramedic who responded to a 999 call first parked outside the wrong premises and then refused to enter the pub.

They also claim the female paramedic refused to try to resuscitate the mother-of-three on her own and that one of the pub's customers had to step in instead until back-up arrived.

Landlady Michelle Doherty, 34, is now calling for the paramedic to be suspended while an investigation into the incident is conducted.

Prison food better than that in NHS hospitals

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".
Oh, the irony.

Those outside of hospital are being lectured and harrassed by the Department of Health as they spend millions (£75m on Change4Life alone) telling us how vitally important healthy, nutritional food is. We must eat what we are told or government will legislate it for us by reducing salt in ready meals, enforcing no-nonsense approaches to school meals etc. Inside hospital, where one would assume such nutrition is at its most important, mere satisfaction is fine.

Source: BBC

Sunday 30 August 2009

Novices do nurses’ job after week’s training

HEALTHCARE assistants in the National Health Service with as little as one week’s training are performing technical nursing tasks on patients, including heart tests, blood checks and changing dripfeeding bags.

The service is also relying on unqualified nursing staff to carry out basic duties such as washing patients and taking them to the toilet.

Despite being responsible for such intimate treatment, the 150,000 healthcare assistants and nursing auxiliaries working in the NHS are not registered with any professional body.

The unregulated staff have been brought into hospitals partly to cut costs. However, criticism has also been levelled at ambitious nurses who perceive more menial tasks to be “beneath them”.
Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said that supermarket shelf-stackers receive more instruction than healthcare assistants. Now he is demanding a substantial minimum training period, as well as the introduction of a code of conduct.

“Hospitals take well-meaning people off the street, give them a uniform and put them on a ward,” said Carter.

“Supermarkets give all of their staff training. They wouldn’t dream of taking someone on, not even someone stacking the shelves, by just saying ‘find your way around’.”

One healthcare assistant, who received only a week’s training before starting work at an Essex hospital, told The Sunday Times how unqualified nurses are being relied on to wash and feed patients.

They are also used to adjust the amount of food that patients receive through a nasal tube and can even be asked to carry out echocardiograms (ECGs), which test the function of the heart.

The whistleblower, who did not want to be named, said she often felt inadequately trained for the tasks she performs.

“You only get about a week’s training and that is to train you how to take blood pressure and to take blood sugar levels,” she said. “You are shown how to wash patients, how to manually handle the patients and how to use a hoist.

“There are things I come up against that I am very unsure of. I did not get trained in how to carry out ECGs.

“We are supposed to put the patients onto the ECG machine and get a [heart] tracing. The other day I was asked to do one and I wasn’t up to doing it because I haven’t been trained. I didn’t want to do it wrong.”

Last week the Patients Association published a report detailing the lack of basic nursing care received by NHS patients. It revealed how patients were often being left in soiled bedclothes, deprived of sufficient food and drink and having repeated falls.

Katherine Murphy, director of the association, said it had received calls from healthcare assistants and auxiliaries complaining that they are being left to carry out duties they are not qualified to perform.

“Healthcare assistants are being asked to do a lot of the work that trained nurses should be doing,” she said. “We had healthcare assistants phoning us up who were put on a high-dependency unit with no introduction to the technology and no understanding of what they were meant to do.”

Unison, the public services union, claims the training of healthcare assistants and nursing auxiliaries is “patchy”. Many opt to complete national vocational qualifications, but this is not obligatory.

The union is concerned that nurses and healthcare assistants do not have standard uniforms across the NHS, leading to confusion among patients about whether or not they are being cared for by a qualified professional. One nurse, writing on the Nursing Times website, said that even she has found it difficult to distinguish between qualified and unqualified nurses.

The nurse wrote: “I may be being cynical, but the reason why employers are going to resist this is so that they can continue to confuse patients and relatives about the true staffing levels on wards.

“Even though I am a nurse, when I have visited relatives in hospital I have found it extremely difficult to identify the qualified from the unqualified staff.”

The healthcare assistant who spoke to The Sunday Times said qualified nurses fill out paperwork while healthcare assistants wash and feed patients. She explained that on one occasion, when a qualified nurse had been assisting with the washing of patients, she was called away to sign paperwork by another nurse who said: “Washing isn’t your job, that is not part of your job description.”

Claire Rayner, president of the Patients Association and a former nurse and newspaper agony aunt, admitted that such views were widely held by nurses. “It is an appalling attitude to say it is not your job to wash patients. I am afraid this is spreading widely and I disapprove of it strongly. Unfortunately, today’s nurses think it is too menial,” Rayner said.

Frank Field, the former Labour welfare reform minister, said: “It is a terrible indictment if the most qualified nurses on the ward are filling in the paperwork and the least qualified are doing the nursing.

“Cleaning people is an essential nursing function. At the same time nurses are talking to the patients and finding out what the patients’ worries are.”

On his blog, Field recalls how he had resorted to feeding the patient in the bed next to his mother, who had had a stroke, because nurses had failed to help her. He wrote: “The woman was paralysed and unable to reach her food. It was regularly placed there at meal times and then simply taken away uneaten. The nurses commented how kind it was of me to feed the old lady.

“I didn’t have the courage to tell them that it was their job; and that they had stood in a group gossiping, watching what I was doing. I was fearful that they would take it out on my mother if I did so.”

Department of Health spokesperson said: "The NHS is in a very healthy position regarding recruitment and retention, with supply broadly matching demand in most areas. Since 2007 we have seen a rise of 8,563 more qualified nurses.

"Local NHS organisations need to plan and develop their workforce to deliver the right staff with the right skills to meet the needs of their local populations and ensure high quality care for patients."

Source : The Times

Even the Times says that Vitamin D is essential

Get your Vitamin D levels checked

25hydroxyvitamin D blood levels need to be 65-90ng/mls

Moan, who worked with Richard Setlow, a biophysicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York state, said vitamin D deficiency could be lethal. Research links it with heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and reduced immunity.

Their research says: “Cold climates and high latitudes would speed up the need for skin lightening. Agricultural food was an insufficient source of vitamin D, and solar radiation was too low to produce enough vitamin D in dark skin.”

Full article here

Saturday 29 August 2009

NHS sorry for dead patient letter

The NHS has apologised after writing to a man to address concerns over his treatment - three-and-half years after he died.

Tom Milner's daughter emailed the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) after her 76-year-old father died at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital.

Janet Brooks said when she received a response, it was entitled "Dear Tom".

The agency said it had reviewed its systems to ensure the error did not happen again.

Mr Milner, who had terminal leukaemia, was not given his prescribed pain-relieving morphine in the last two days of his life, his family say.

They claim he was left in agony and lay in his own urine and blood at the NHS palliative care ward at the hospital.

The health trust responsible for his care said staff had "acted appropriately".

Mrs Brooks, 54, of Emsworth, Hampshire, said she had outlined her concerns about her father's treatment in an email to the NPSA.

"They responded with 'Dear Tom'.

"It's an example of the careless and shambolic attitude by the NHS towards my father and our family."

Bristol man claims knee op was botched by Scandinavian doctors

A Bristol man is taking Weston General Hospital to court, claiming an operation on his knee was botched by Scandinavian doctors. Terry Heath, from Lockleaze, underwent knee replacement surgery at the hospital in 2004 but had to be operated on again at Southmead Hospital a year later to correct mistakes that were made during the initial operation.

Surgeons were drafted in from Sweden, Denmark and Finland between 2003 and 2006 as part of a £3-million scheme to reduce waiting lists for hip and knee replacement patients across the Bristol area and beyond. Issues were raised about the quality of the work carried out by some of the Scandinavian surgeons back in 2004 when Welsh consultant, David Shewring, sent letters to his patients claiming that overseas doctors employed by Weston Area Health Trust might not be skilled enough to carry out operations...

In May the Evening Post reported that more than a third of patients who were operated on by Scandinavian surgeons in Weston- super-Mare had an unsatisfactory result, and that lawyers were considering at least six cases.

Weston Area Health Trust , which runs the hospital, is conducting a review into the us of the overseas surgeons, which is likely to be completed later in the year. A spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on the matter due to the legal proceedings.
Source: This Is Bristol

Friday 28 August 2009

The harsh truth? We nurses have just forgotten how to care

No occupation in Britain inspires greater public admiration than nursing.

And yet in recent years, the profession has gone desperately wrong. A report this week by the Patients Association reveals that since 2002, up to a million patients have experienced shockingly poor standards of nursing care in the NHS.

Some were not fed; others were left in soiled bedclothes.

As a former nurse, I believe the essential problem is an institutional failure of training and ethos.

When I embarked on my career in 1977, the vast majority of the training was based on practical experience. Instruction was carried out in a school of nursing, attached to the hospital.

Just a quarter of the course was academic study. Three-quarters was spent working with patients, whose care should be a nurse's primary concern.

Back then, when nurses qualified, they had already gained a thorough, hands-on understanding of medicine - and, most importantly, of their patients.

No longer. In the early Nineties, the government wrecked a perfectly good system by launching Project 2000 - an initiative that was meant to give nursing a stronger professional foundation by emphasising the academic over the practical.

Student nurses were removed from the hospitals and trained in lecture halls, rather than wards.

Many less glamorous, but vital elements of nursing care - such as cleaning, feeding or lifting patients - dropped off the syllabus and were replaced by empty, jargon-filled theorising about 'holistic care' and 'cultural sensitivities'.

New Flu Vaccine has AIDS virus component

Do you want to die? In pain and suffering?

Part of the Swine Flu Vaccine has a component of the AIDS virus.

The Vaccine May Be More Dangerous Than Swine Flu
By Dr Russell Blaylock

"...Novartis, the second contender, also has an agreement with WHO for a pandemic vaccine. Novartis appears to have won the contract, since their vaccine is near completion. What is terrifying is that these pandemic vaccines contain ingredients, called immune adjuvants that a number of studies have shown cause devastating autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus.

Animal studies using this adjuvant have found them to be deadly. A study using 14 guinea pigs found that when they were injected with the special adjuvant, only one animal survived. A repeat of the study found the same deadly outcome.

So, what is this deadly ingredient? It is called squalene, a type of oil. The Chiron company, maker of the deadly anthrax vaccine, makes an adjuvant called MF-59 which contains two main ingredients of concern-squalene and gp120. A number of studies have shown that squalene can trigger all of the above-mentioned autoimmune diseases when injected.

The MF-59 adjuvant has been used in several vaccines. These vaccines, including tetanus and diphtheria, are the same vaccines frequently associated with adverse reactions.

I reviewed a number of studies on this adjuvant and found something quite interesting. Several studies done on human test subjects found MF-59 to be a very safe immune adjuvant. But when I checked to see who did these studies, I found-to no surprise-that they were done by the Novartis Pharmaceutical Company and Chiron Pharmaceutical Company, which have merged. They were all published in "prestigious" medical journals. Also, to no surprise, a great number of studies done by independent laboratories and research institutions all found a strong link between MF-59 and autoimmune diseases.

Squalene in vaccines has been strongly linked to the Gulf War Syndrome. On August 1991, Anthony Principi, Secretary of Veterans Affairs admitted that soldiers vaccinated with the anthrax vaccine from 1990 to 1991 had an increased risk of 200 percent in developing the deadly disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig's disease. The soldiers also suffered from a number of debilitating and life-shortening diseases, such as polyarteritis nodosa, multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, transverse myelitis (a neurological disorder caused by inflammation of the spinal cord), endocarditis (inflammation of the heart's inner lining), optic neuritis with blindness and glomerulonephritis (a type of kidney disease).

The second ingredient, and one that greatly concerns me, is called gp120, a glycoprotein. Researchers found when it was mixed with squalene, the glycoprotein became strongly antigenic - that is, it produced a powerful and prolonged immune response to the vaccination. In fact, their studies show that with each dose, the intense immune reaction lasts over a year.

Now for the shocker-the glycoprotein-gp120, a major component of MF-59 vaccine adjuvant, is the same protein fragment isolated from HIV - the virus that is responsible for the rapid dementia seen in AIDS patients.

Studies have shown that when gp120 is taken up by the microglia cells in the brain, it causes intense inflammation and makes the brain subject to excitotoxic damage-a process called immunoexcitotoxicity. This is also the cause of the MS and optic neuritis associated with vaccines that contain MF-59.

So, how would the gp120 get into the brain? Studies of other immune adjuvants using careful tracer techniques have shown that they routinely enter the brain following vaccination. What most people do not know, even the doctors who recommend the vaccines, is that most such studies by pharmaceutical companies observe the patients for only one to two weeks following vaccination-these types of reactions may take months or even years to manifest.

It is obvious that the vaccine manufacturers stand to make billions of dollars in profits from this WHO/government-promoted pandemic. Novartis, the maker of the new pandemic vaccine, recently announced that they would not give free vaccines to impoverished nations-everybody pays.

One must keep in mind that once the vaccine is injected, there is little you can do to protect yourself-at least by conventional medicine. It will mean a lifetime of crippling illness and early death.

There are much safer ways to protect oneself from this flu virus, such as higher doses of vitamin D3, selective immune enhancement using supplements, and a good diet." End of excerpt by Dr. Blaylock.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Nurses 'left elderly patients lying in urine'

NHS nurses will be criticised today for their cruel and demeaning treatment of more than a dozen elderly patients.

A report published by the Patients Association, a health watchdog, records 16 incidents of people left lying in their own faeces and urine, having call bells taken away from them and being left without food or drink.

One former nurse told of the substandard care she received as a patient, describing her experience as “scary”.

The Patients Association said one hospital had threatened it with legal action if it chose to publish the material, but added that there was a “striking similarity between many of the cases — nearly all of them centre on concerns over basic nursing and domiciliary care.”
Source: The Times

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

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.”
Source: The Daily Telegraph

Wednesday 26 August 2009

What did the NHS 'take out' then?

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

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.
Is it too much to ask that NHS surgeons should be qualified to know how to cut out an appendix? It is, after all, considered routine these days.

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.
Don't we just #welovethenhs

Fortunately the admin staff, for they are muchly plentiful, are right on the ball.

Paul Gearing, deputy general manager for general surgery at Great Western Hospital NHS Trust, said: 'We are unable to comment on individual cases.
Stock reply.

'However, we would like to apologise if Mr Wattson felt dissatisfied with the care he received at Great Western Hospital.'
Would he like to take part in our client satisfaction survey? Here's a questionnaire.

Source: Daily Mail

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets

Thousands of women are having to give birth outside maternity wards because of a lack of midwives and hospital beds. The lives of mothers and babies are being put at risk as births in locations ranging from lifts to toilets - even a caravan - went up 15 per cent last year to almost 4,000

Health chiefs admit a lack of maternity beds is partly to blame for the crisis, with hundreds of women in labour being turned away from hospitals because they are full. Latest figures show that over the past two years there were at least:

63 births in ambulances and 608 in transit to hospitals;
117 births in A&E departments, four in minor injury units and two in medical assessment areas;
115 births on other hospital wards and 36 in other unspecified areas including corridors;
399 in parts of maternity units other than labour beds, including postnatal and antenatal wards and reception areas.

Additionally, overstretched maternity units shut their doors to any more women in labour on 553 occasions last year. Babies were born in offices, lifts, toilets and a caravan, according to the Freedom of Information data for 2007 and 2008 from 117 out of 147 trusts which provide maternity services.

One woman gave birth in a lift while being transferred to a labour ward from A&E while another gave birth in a corridor, said East Cheshire NHS Trust. Others said women had to give birth on the wards - rather than in their own maternity room - because the delivery suites were full. Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley, who obtained the figures, said Labour had cut maternity beds by 2,340, or 22 per cent, since 1997. At the same time birth rates have been rising sharply - up 20 per cent in some areas.

Mr Lansley said: 'New mothers should not be being put through the trauma of having to give birth in such inappropriate places. 'While some will be unavoidable emergencies, it is extremely distressing for them and their families to be denied a labour bed because their maternity unit is full. 'It shows the incredible waste that has taken place that mothers are getting this sort of sub-standard treatment despite Gordon Brown's tripling of spending on the NHS.

'Labour have let down mothers by cutting the number of maternity beds and by shutting down maternity units.'
The NHS employs the equivalent of around 25,000 full-time midwives in England, but the Government has promised to recruit 3,400 more. However, the Royal College of Midwives estimates at least 5,000 more are needed to provide the quality of service pledged in the Government's blueprint for maternity services, Maternity Matters. At the same time almost half of all midwives are set to retire in the next decade.

Jon Skewes, a director at the Royal College of Midwives, said: 'The rise in the number of births in other than a designated labour bed is a concern. We would want to see the detail behind these figures to look at why this is happening. 'There is no doubt that maternity services are stretched, and that midwives are working harder and harder to provide good quality care. However, we know the Government is putting more money into the service.
'The key now is to make sure this money is spent by the people controlling the purse strings at a local level.'
Care services minister Phil Hope said: 'The number of maternity beds in the NHS reflects the number of women wanting to give birth in hospital. Giving birth can be unpredictableand it is difficult to plan for the exact time and place of every birth.

'Local health services have plans to ensure high quality, personal care with greater choice over place of birth and care provided by a named midwife. 'We recognise that some parts of the country face particular challenges due to the rising birth rate and that is why last year we pledged to increase funding for maternity by £330million over three years. 'We now have more maternity staff than ever before and we have already met our target to recruit 1,000 extra midwives by September.'