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