Tuesday 31 March 2009

Over 65s 'shut out of NHS services'

NHS services for older people with mental health problems need "urgent attention", a watchdog said.

People over 65 are often discriminated against because of their age and can find themselves excluded from specialist services, according to the Healthcare Commission. Its report found that some elderly people were shut out of services on the basis of cost while others were not referred on by their GP.

Experts examined six mental health trusts expected to be at the high, mid and low end of performance. Overall, more than 600 people were spoken to, including staff, carers, patients and social workers. National data on accessing mental health services was also analysed for the study, although the report's authors noted that such data was lacking. Two trusts were found to be treating people on the basis of need rather than age but other trusts were lagging behind.

The report said: "Most trusts were struggling to make progress, and older people were denied access to the full range of mental health services that are available to younger adults. In particular, there was poor access to out-of-hours and crisis services, psychological therapies and alcohol services."

Around 40% of older people who visit their GP are estimated to have a mental health problem, as are 50% of older people in hospital and 60% of those in care homes. More than a quarter of admissions to mental health inpatient services are for people over the age of 65.

The report - Equality in Later Life - noted that mental health problems among older people will become more of an NHS burden in the future.
Is it possible that 'The Healthcare Commission' is one of those rare things, a 'watchdog' that actually barks?

Source: The Metro.

Sunday 29 March 2009

Patient takes his own life after NHS blunders made him 'afraid to live'

This beggars belief.

Paul Steane took his own life at 45 because he could no longer endure the punishment that the NHS had inflicted on him.

But Paul Steane did commit suicide. He didn't do it because he wanted to die. He did it, terrifyingly, because he was afraid to live.

''That was how the NHS had left him,'' [his wife] says wearily. ''Terrified of life. He didn't kill himself because he was depressed at his condition, but because he was frightened of what else they could do to him if he had to go back to hospital.

''His legs had been amputated. He was blind. His vocal cords were so damaged that he could no longer speak. His breathing was laboured and painful. And his hands were so painful that he was petrified he would choke to death if the tube in his throat became blocked and he couldn't pull it out.

"But most of all he was utterly terrified he would have to go back into hospital."

Nuneaton hospital, who have the worst mortality statistics in the UK, 43% above the still unacceptable 'expected' rate, were responsible.

As a result of poor nursing care, a hitherto healthy man became one of the 59,000 people in this country who are permanently disabled or die each year because of poor hygiene or care in our hospitals. And in Paul's case, all because he was denied the most basic of human needs: a drink of water.

The letters his wife received from nurses are telling.

The letters, many from tearful nurses, highlight the lack of attention given to basic nursing care and hygiene during training. "It has made me determined to ensure that I give my patients the best of basic nursing care,'' one wrote, ''and it has made me recognise the importance of not becoming bogged down in tasks but in making sure they are eating and drinking.'' Another wrote of how ''too many in the profession are so concerned with budgets and targets that they forget something simple like ensuring someone has a glass of water.''

Paul's death was in 2003, so one would think that lessons had been learned by 2009.

The number of people working for the NHS is at an all-time high, driven by a rise in managers which outstripped the recruitment of nurses by four to one.

Plus ca change ...

Source: Daily Telegraph

Friday 27 March 2009

Patient unlawfully killed by insulin OD

A diabetic pensioner who died after being injected with 10 times too much insulin by a newly-qualified nurse was unlawfully killed, a coroner ruled today.

Community nurse Joanne Evans was not present at Cardiff Coroners' Court to hear the verdict in relation to the death of 85-year-old Margaret Thomas from Pontypool, South Wales. Cardiff coroner Mary Hassell said it was with a heavy heart she returned her verdict but Ms Evans' actions had been "more than cavalier".

The coroner also criticised Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust for which Ms Evans had been working at the time.
Source: The Metro

Bosses get 7.6%; nurses get 1.9%

NHS bosses were handed pay rises of more than seven per cent last year – four times as much as nurses and other health staff.

Chief executives of trusts running the best- performing hospitals saw their salaries go up by an average of 7.6 per cent to £158,000 a year, according to newly released figures. Their increase compares with those for front-line health workers and nurses, who were handed less than two per cent – well below the 3.2 per cent rate of inflation...
Source: The Metro

Thursday 26 March 2009

'My ignored report could have stopped deaths at hospital'

A damning report that may have prevented the deaths of several mothers at a London maternity department was covered up, it was claimed today.

The doctor who was sent to investigate Northwick Park hospital said he warned health bosses of serious failings but was ignored. Two years later the hospital was engulfed in scandal after it emerged 10 mothers had died in childbirth there over four years. Dr Howard Baderman, former consultant in A&E medicine at University College London Hospital, spoke out after appalling conditions at a hospital in Stafford were revealed last week...

Dr Baderman, 73, said: "I was astonished when the Secretary of State said he could not understand why the situation had not been picked up earlier. From my experience this is not an isolated case." The Department of Health sent Dr Baderman and a team of other doctors to Northwick Park in 2003 to investigate claims that A&E waiting-time figures had been falsified, he said.

He wrote a highly critical report about the hospital and its senior management. But the report was rewritten so extensively by the Department of Health that Dr Baderman made them remove his name from it. It later emerged that 10 new mothers died after blunders in the maternity department between 2002 and 2005...
Source: The Evening Standard

Wednesday 25 March 2009

13 die in superbug crisis at NHS district hospital

Thirteen people have died in a superbug outbreak at an NHS hospital, it has emerged.

Another 17 patients are being treated in a special isolation ward while non-infected patients have had to be moved to other hospitals up to 50km (30 miles) away. More staff have been taken on to cope with the crisis at Eastbourne District General Hospital and the trust's chief executive has even offered to do nursing shifts...

The hospital revealed there had been 62 cases of C.diff this year – 30 in February alone. This is much more than the target rate of 19 a month and was blamed on a high number of patients being admitted with respiratory infections...
Wot? They have a target of 'only' 19 cases per month?

Source: The Metro

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Lawyers use NHS as £100m cash cow

LAWYERS are earning £800 an hour from the National Health Service and taking “indefensible” fees of tens of millions of pounds in legal disputes. The money is coming from a government scheme intended to compensate patients for medical blunders and inadequate care, an investigation has found.

The compensation lawyers are claiming costs and “success fees” worth about £100m a year out of the scheme. In some cases the payouts claimed are 10 times more than the damages won by the patient.

In one case involving Barking, Havering & Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust, a legal firm claimed nearly £78,000 in costs and fees, having won just £7,000 for a female patient. A Liverpool firm submitted a legal bill for £4.4m for a single case.

Just a thought, but if our money was being used to pay for more doctors and nurses, and less on highly-paid morons hectoring on irrelevant nonsense, wouldn't the legal bill be a lot smaller?

Source: The Times

Friday 20 March 2009

Children's hospital failings exposed

A damning report into Birmingham Children's Hospital has revealed a catalogue of serious failings.

Patients experienced sub-standard care, delays in treatment and youngsters being redirected to other services, says the Healthcare Commission. The probe also found some complex neurosurgery had been carried out without the relevant trained nurses.

The BCH NHS Foundation Trust was also criticised for its shortage of beds, equipment and access to operating theatres, and an "ineffective" partnership with the University Hospital Birmingham (UBH).

The Commission's report was ordered by Health Secretary Alan Johnson after concerns raised by consultants appeared in the Observer newspaper in November...

Sarah-Jane Marsh, BCH interim chief executive, said: "The quality of care for our young patients is our top priority. In some ways, we have been victims of our own success - as our services have grown ever more popular we have been faced with the challenge of meeting that demand and have been carrying out a great deal of work to make sure we do."
Source: The Metro.

Thursday 19 March 2009

Another Death Service Hospital

A son who thought his mother was recovering in hospital was told by a doctor "she has come here to die", an inquest has heard.

Inquests are being held at Portsmouth Coroner's Court into the deaths of 10 patients at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital (GWMH) more than 10 years ago.

Elsie Lavender, 84, was transferred to the hospital after suffering a stroke.

Her son Alan thought she was recovering well but when she got to GWMH she rapidly deteriorated, jurors heard.

Hampshire police have carried out a series of investigations into the treatment of patients at the Hampshire hospital in the late 1990s but no prosecutions have ever been brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Some of their families believe that sedatives such as diamorphine were over-prescribed at the hospital and led to the death of their relatives who were receiving recuperative care.

In a twist on "Name that Party" The BBC forgets to mention the name of the organisation that runs the hospital.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Failing hospital 'caused deaths'

A hospital's "appalling" emergency care resulted in patients dying needlessly, the NHS watchdog has said.

About 400 more people died at Mid Staffordshire Hospital between 2005 and 2008 than would be expected, the Healthcare Commission said. It said there were deficiencies at "virtually every stage" of emergency care and said managers pursued targets at the detriment of patient care.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has launched an inquiry.

The trust's chairman Toni Brisby and chief executive Martin Yeates resigned earlier this month. Mid Staffordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said at the time that they had stepped down "to enable the trust to build on the considerable improvements that have been made over the past 18 months".
Another enquiry? That'll fix it.

Source: BBC

GPs failed to spot teen's cancer

A teenager died from cancer after his symptoms were wrongly put down to anxiety, an inquest has heard.

Christopher Chaffey, 19, from Hull, died in September 20 after developing a tumour in his chest that weighed nearly 5lb (2kg)The growth was not spotted despite him contacting his GP's surgery numerous times and once being rushed to hospital with chest pains.

Mr Chaffey's parents, Patricia and Paul, say they now intend to take civil action following the inquest at Hull Coroner's Court. The court heard how Mr Chaffey had blood tests in July 2007 which showed abnormalities and further tests in May 2008, which revealed his haemoglobin levels had fallen.

The symptom was put down to anaemia and other complaints, including fainting, a persistent cough and a blue chest with veins that looked "like a road map", were put down to anxiety by a GP.

Professor Barry Hancock, an independent medical expert, told the court anaemia was "unusual in a young lad" and he would have expected further tests to be carried out, which might have helped spot the cancer.
Source: ITN News

'Botched op' mum will sue hospital

A mother who claims she almost died when a doctor left a swab inside her is seeking hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.

Angela Watson, who needed 28 operations to fix the alleged botched surgery, said she suffered multiple organ failure as a result of the hospital's negligence. The ordeal left her disabled, emotionally scarred and unable to have children, a court writ added.
Source: The Metro.

Friday 13 March 2009

Hospital injection errors 'common'

Doctors and nurses make frequent mistakes when injecting patients in intensive care, according to research. A study found medication errors relating to injections are "common and a serious safety problem in intensive care units" around the world. Researchers analysed data from 113 intensive care wards in 27 countries, and over one 24-hour period 861 medication mistakes affecting 441 patients were reported...

Seven patients experienced permanent harm as a result of the errors while five died as a direct result.
Source: The Metro

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Newborn baby 'had to be resuscitated after midwife left mother alone in birthing pool'

A newborn baby had to be resuscitated after a bungling midwife left the mother in a birthing pool during advanced labour, a misconduct hearing was told today. Midwife Lourde Backhurst waited for up to 15 minutes after the baby's head appeared before summoning help - and by then it was blue, it is alleged.

Clare Strickland, for the NMC, said a senior midwife at the hospital's birthing pool had to tell Backhurst that a baby's head had turned blue in October 2006. Ms Strickland said the mother, referred to as 'Ms C', was in advanced labour and the baby's head was clearly visible under the water but Backhurst waited for up to 15 minutes before calling for help. By that time the tot's shoulder had got stuck and its head was 'a purple and blue colour', the NMC heard.

Awful, yes. But what is staggering about this story is why she was allowed to supervise any birth at all in October 2006.

In December 2005, Backhurst left student midwife Kelly McMillan to deliver a baby while she went on her break, the panel heard. She then allowed the student to untangle the umbilical cord from the baby's neck and only stepped in when the mother swore at the midwife to help.

Then ...

In June 2006, Backhurst allegedly ignored signs that a birth was imminent and left a mother who had soiled herself. By the time the midwife returned, a supervisor was helping to deliver the baby and lift it clear of its mother's bodily waste, the Council heard.

How many cock-ups does it take before a NHS administrator rubs their chin, and thinks, you know what? I don't think she's very good at this job.

Backhurst, of Bedford, is not attending but denies misconduct.

Beg pardon?

Source: The Times Online

Patient risk over NHS transfers

Patients are being put at risk by inadequate hospital transfer arrangements, anaesthetists say.

A combination of NHS and private ambulances are responsible for ferrying people around sites in the UK. But the Association of Anaesthetists said the vehicles were poorly equipped and called for a national transfer service to be established...

Dr David Goldhill, the chairman of the working group which drew up the report, said it was an issue that needed to be taken more seriously. "There is no doubt that the situation we have at the moment in most areas is entirely unsatisfactory. The patients are in a vulnerable position."
Source: BBC

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Plan to develop 'more personal' NHS

Blah, blah, blah...
An inquiry into the future role of nurses and midwives will make the NHS "more personal to the needs of patients", Gordon Brown said.

The Prime Minister and Health Secretary Alan Johnson unveiled plans for a Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery during a visit to King's College Hospital in Camberwell, south London.

Announcing the plan to work out how nurses can further improve patient safety and champion high-quality care, Mr Brown added: "We are transforming the health service for the future. The health service is a public service but it also a service that is personal to the needs of the patient."
Source: The Metro

Sunday 8 March 2009

Two deaths per day caused by blunders in London NHS hospitals

A parochial view of the NHS 'blunder' snapshot.

Hundreds of patients are dying in London hospitals because of treatment blunders.

Figures published for the first time today reveal the extent of medication overdoses and other mistakes in the NHS.

The Government's safety watchdog, the National Patient Safety Agency, found that 365 deaths occurred in the capital's hospitals and care centres in six months last year. They include those blamed on faulty equipment, incorrect diagnoses, and nurses giving patients overdoses of sedatives.

365 in six months? Not much need to reach for the calculator here, it's two unnecessary deaths every day.

More ammo for when my GP starts hectoring.

Source: Evening Standard

H/T Witzend via e-mail

Friday 6 March 2009

Quarter of people with new C diff have died

Remember this, as posted here in February?

A "POTENTIALLY more dangerous" form of the C diff bug has been discovered in Scottish hospitals.

Well, it seems that there is no 'potentially' about it anymore.

ONE in four patients in Scotland who contracted a recently discovered strain of Clostridium difficile has died, figures revealed last night.

You may also remember that Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon came out with this gem at the time.

"It is vital that everyone has confidence in their NHS and the standard of care they will receive in hospital."

I remember asking at the time if anyone felt confident. Well, do ya', punks?

Source: The Scotsman

Tuesday 3 March 2009

NHS Records: Proof the State still thinks it owns you body and soul

As you know, the Trojan Horse known as The Coroners and Justice Bill, aims to hoover up all information about us so that it can be used on fishing expeditions, seeking out people who have to then prove their innocence for crimes nobody reported and to sell off to the highest bidder for private gain.

Now, Doctors are right to complain that such disclosure is highly likely to make patients withhold vital information in consultation rooms for fear that it will eventually be used against them by people who have no context and no expertise to make any judgements whatsoever. Plenty of "authority", mind.

Imagine someone even TALKING to their GP about mental health, for example? That could render them unemployable. People will just clam up, with all manner of consequences. For the State this is but a mere bagatelle when compared to all that lovely information and the warm feeling they get knowing that the entire population realise that every word they say could come back to bite them in future at the whim of a bureaucrat.
Source: LUPK 'blog.

Monday 2 March 2009

NHS 'frontline care' learning report

Treatment of wounded British troops on the frontline is so good that NHS accident and emergency departments in the UK should learn from it, a report has said.

But away from war zones too many of Britain's military healthcare services fail to comply with standards for hygiene, child protection and patient safety, the Healthcare Commission found.

Inspectors raised concerns about "unacceptable" conditions at some armed forces' medical centres in the UK and overseas, including poor maintenance, dirty facilities and lack of privacy.
"Child protection"?

Source: The Metro