Thursday 23 December 2010

Gagging Nanny...

Well, it looks like at least one good deed is being done by the coalition:
The ‘nannying’ health advice dished out by the NHS rationing body is being dramatically scaled back by ministers.
The Government has asked the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to stop working on guidance on six public health topics and ‘to put on hold’ work on a further 13.
Fantastic news!

And the vital health advice they were preparing to dish out was..?
Guidance from NICE that is still in the pipeline covering smoking, obesity, contraception and road safety is being axed or left in limbo amid questions about whether it constitutes value for money.
Road safety...?!?

Monday 13 December 2010

GP warns against delaying surgery for smokers and the obese

A leading doctor has slammed proposals to delay surgery for smokers and the obese, saying any such move is likely to lead to a great strain on the NHS.

The plans are among NHS West Kent’s initiatives to drive down costs and avoid a budget deficit at the end of this financial year that is currently predicted to run into the millions.

Dr Robert Blundell, the vice chair of the Kent Local Medical Committee (LMC), said: "The PCT is effectively asking GPs to seek to ration health care in a fashion that will sit ethically most uncomfortably with most of them."

He warned that consequences would put strain on GP resources and other health and social care services.

Source: Kent News

Thursday 2 December 2010

Complaints to NHS top 100,000 for the first time

The figures for 2009/2010 show a 13 per cent increase on the previous year - the largest ever increase .

The rise has been fuelled by growing dissatisfaction over the treatment of the elderly in hospitals, according to The Patients’ Association, which today launches a campign to improve NHS care for older people.

The charity wants matrons appointed within hospitals whose sole role is to look after elderly patients and ensure they are treated with dignity.

It is calling for fundamental change to the complaints system and the creation of an independent complaints body.

At present people must complain to the hospitals they feel have failed them.

The campaign would have met with the approval of their former president Claire Rayner who died in October.

She promised to haunt David Cameron if he failed to improve the NHS.

Her widower Des said: “Let the haunting begin.”

The charity campaign also aims to raise £100,000 to boost its dedicated helpline which helps NHS patients to submit complaints.

According to the NHS Information Centre 101,077 people made written complaints to hospitals compared with 89,139 in 2008/09.

Source: Telegraph

Patients get worse care out of hours due to staff shortages, report claims

Patients being admitted to hospitals outside office hours and at weekends receive poorer care due to a lack of consultants, the Royal College of Physicians has warned.

An audit conducted by the College has found that many hospitals do not have senior specialist doctors looking after patients admitted with serious illnesses outside normal working hours.

Consultants are already working 50 hours a week, more than they are contracted for, so the solution can only be to increase their numbers and work their rotas more effectively, the report said.

Studies by the College have already found that junior doctors look after an average of 61 patients in hospital overnight and one doctor was looking after 400 people.

Others have found babies born outside working hours are 70 per cent more likely to die and patients attending A&E departments at the weekend have higher death rates.

The College is asking for an urgent meeting with Andrew Lansley, Health Secretary, to discuss the problem.

Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians said: “Despite major improvements in the care of acutely ill patients which were led by the RCP following our major report in 2007, patients are still not getting the care they deserve at night and at weekends. “Too many junior doctors are covering too many very ill patients, and this has to change.

“Our evidence shows that a predominantly consultant-delivered medical service is the best way to improve patient care.”

A representative survey of 126 hospitals from around the country examined working patterns and patient care in acute admissions units, which are used to care for patients who need to be admitted urgently either from A&E or who have been sent by their GP.

Few hospitals had sufficient cover from consultants specialising in acute medicine staffing these units round the clock.

The report found:

– Almost three quarters of acute physicians do not work at weekends and only two thirds contribute to the on-call rota.

– All patients are not routinely seen by a consultant twice per day throughout the seven day week.

– Almost half of hospitals do not have the recommended three consultants specialising in acute medicine.

– In just under half of hospitals the on-call consultant has other routine clinics and tasks to complete while on call and do not cancel them in line with recommendations.

– Many patients are only seen once per day in a formal ward round in the acute phase of their illness.

– A small number of units appear to a have poor monitoring or staffing facilities to manage acutely unwell medical patients.

– In three quarters of the acute medical admissions units accepting patients directly from GPs, the unit runs out of beds.

– Nearly three-quarters of hospitals in the survey had no cover from consultant physicians specialising in acute medicine over the weekend.

Dr Jonathan Potter, Clinical Director of the RCP’s Clinical Effectiveness and Evaluation Unit, said: “Despite improvements in facilities and staffing, hospitals still need to address working arrangements to ensure that senior doctors are readily available to provide a consultant led service in acute medical admissions units seven days a week.”

Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley said: "Sir Richard Thompson is right, patients do deserve better care at night and weekends and senior doctors should be available to provide acute medical care as needed.

“I have already asked Medical Education England to consider with the profession, the service and medical Royal Colleges, how best to secure better patient outcomes and the right level of supervision for trainees through greater consultant involvement in direct clinical care at night and at weekends."

Source : Telegraph

Tuesday 30 November 2010

'Alarmingly high death rates' at two London hospital trusts

Patients are dying in higher numbers than expected at two London hospital trusts, a report reveals.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS trust and South London Healthcare NHS trust are shown to have alarmingly high death rates.

They are among 19 hospital trusts out of 147 in England which have been singled out for worrying mortality levels.

The influential Dr Foster Hospital Guide, which Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has applauded for allowing patients to make better choices about their treatment, said Barking, Havering and Redbridge was one of the poorest performing, with only three trusts having higher death rates. It also fares badly for care of stroke patients.

Source:Evening Standard

Monday 22 November 2010

Inquiry Hears Of 'Utter Neglect' At Hospital

A woman has told how a "callous" doctor said her sick mother would not be resuscitated and suffer a painful death at Stafford Hospital.

The families of people who died at the hospital have started giving evidence at the public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire Trust.

The inquiry is looking into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of up to 1,200 people.

An earlier independent inquiry accused management of putting cost-cutting above patient care.

Julie Bailey described conditions on her mother's ward as "bedlam" and "utter chaos".

"People were screaming in pain: 'Nurse, nurse'," she said.

"It was just total and utter neglect of vulnerable people, night after night people crying out.

"Some with eyes crusted up, mouths bleeding. My mum asked me to call the police."

Ms Bailey's mother Bella died at the hospital in 2007 at the age of 86.

At one stage, Ms Bailey was taken aside by a doctor and told: "It is likely she will die over the weekend.

"He said, 'It will be a painful death and she will die just like that', and snapped his fingers. There would be no resuscitation."

Ms Bailey went on: "I couldn't believe how callous he was and how he was speaking.

"It was such chaos that I feared for my own life as well as my mother's. There was no control."

It was just total and utter neglect of vulnerable people, night after night people crying out.

Ms Bailey described how conditions were worse at weekends and on several occasions she saw people drinking out of flower vases.

She complained about it and was told that water jugs had to be taken away and washed overnight for health and safety reasons.

Ms Bailey was one of the leading campaigners in bringing about the public inquiry, which could sit well into the middle of next year.

A previous report concluded that between 2005 and 2008 at least 400 patients died unnecessarily - but it could have been as many as 1,200.

The main aim of the inquiry is to examine why regulatory and supervisory agencies allowed "appalling" care to go on for so long.

Source: Sky News

Friday 12 November 2010

Stafford Hospital: Investigation Launched As Twin Babies Die After Treatment At Scandal-Hit Hospital

An investigation has been launched after newborn twins died following an apparent mistake involving a drug at a scandal-hit NHS hospital.

The baby boys died 11 days ago at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust.

They had been transferred from Stafford Hospital, which is run by the separate Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Bosses there told The Guardian newspaper a report into the incident concluded it involved "wrong rate of infusion".

The trust said a member of staff had been suspended following the deaths.

It is impossible to say whether it has got anything to do with systemic problems at the trust or whether it is a tragic one-off

Chief executive Antony Sumara added: "We have commissioned a full external investigation into the events while the twins were at our hospital.

"This is under way and is being led by an independent paediatric doctor.

"At present we have suspended one member of staff."

A spokeswoman for the hospital would not comment on the exact circumstances surrounding the boys' deaths.

Campaigners had fought a lengthy battle for a public inquiry into Stafford Hospital

Stafford Hospital is at the centre of a public inquiry into substandard care and practices that led to hundreds of deaths.

There is no suggestion the latest tragedy is linked to previous failings at the hospital.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of patient safety charity Action Against Medical Accidents, said of the babies' deaths: "It is impossible to say whether it has got anything to do with systemic problems at the trust or whether it is a tragic one-off."

The public inquiry into care provided by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between 2005 and 2009 was opened in Stafford on Monday.

Chaired by Robert Francis QC, it follows an earlier independent investigation which disclosed a catalogue of failings at the trust, which also runs Cannock Chase Hospital.

Source: Sky News

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Spending Other People’s Money On Other People….

The Fryatt Hospital and Mayflower Medical Centre in Harwich, Essex, opened in December 2005, having been built using a scheme similar to the private finance initiative (PFI).

But since its opening, the hospital has been dogged by problems.

There was a three-year delay in getting GPs to move into the centre, half the floor had to be replaced, people were unhappy with the fact that its minor injuries unit was not open at night, and its x-ray department was cut to three days a week.

However, most complaints centred on the fact that its operating theatre was not being used. It was intended for minor procedures including foot operations.

Now North East Essex Primary Care Trust, which runs the hospital, has admitted it never will be.
Don’t panic, though! No-one’s been sacked or demoted for this. You see, it’s all the fault of…unforeseen changes.

Well, the lack of use of the theatre part, anyway. The report doesn’t say what amazing, innovative excuse the Trust came up with for all the other complaints…
Matt Bushell, acting chief executive, said changes in patient safety regulations regarding anaesthetics since its opening meant the operating theatre was now no longer "viable".
It’s impossible to renovate it, then?
A spokesman for the trust added that it had been "the victim of unfortunate timing" regarding changes in legislation.
Or the victim of utterly incompetent management…
Mr Bushell stressed that the theatre only took up about five per cent of the space of the hospital, which offered more than 60 health services.

John Brown from Harwich Town Council described the new hospital as a "white elephant" and said: "It has been a waste of money."

"For the millions it cost to build the new hospital they should have spent a fraction of that renovating the old hospital," he said.

Saturday 16 October 2010

"Ah, my children of the NHS. What beautiful music they make..."

A pensioner died after his chest was bled 'empty' when he was wrongly connected to a blood pumping machine and a hospital worker left the room.
NHS staff failed to use enough clamps to disconnect 76-year-old Dr John Baines from the device after a gruelling six-hour bypass operation, on January 29.
This meant his blood was pumped into the machine, which was filling in for his heart and lungs during the surgery, but not pumped back into his body.
Someone will swing for this, surely?
Deputy Assistant Coroner Mairin Casey ruled that no one member of staff was to blame and his death was caused by a 'series of collective errors'.
In a bypass operation, the pumps are operated by specially trained health professionals known as 'perfusionists', who work with the surgical team in connecting and disconnecting the machine to the patient.
However, the perfusionist who had been involved in the discussions about the complex operation was replaced before it began by two others, who oversaw the machine during the surgery.
One of them, Andrew Sutcliffe, said they clamped the line from the patient's neck and assumed two other clamps required had been attached by other members of the team.
He said: 'I think the issue is that we had clamped the common line. But clamps hadn't been applied where we would have expected them to.'
And you didn't think to check? Somehow, 'professional' isn't the word I'd have used...
Miss Casey recorded a narrative verdict and said the mistake was the result of collective rather than individual error.
She said: 'I'm confident that from the earliest point the human error was acknowledged to the family and to all who needed to subsequently investigate this matter.
'I'm also satisfied that there's no culpability in respect of an individual in this case.'
Nice! In effect, so many of you screwed up it'd be 'unfair' to hold any one of you responsible, so you get off with a massive fine (paid for by us taxpayers, of course) and a 'lessons have been learned' statement.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Pass The Parcel With Real Lives…

A dying teenager was "lost" for an hour in an NHS hospital after a bed manager asked nursing staff to move her to an inappropriate ward, an inquest heard today.

Doctors caring for 17-year-old Clementine Nicholson were "astonished" that she had been taken from a resuscitation unit without their consent, Coventry Coroner's Court heard.

And how did this happen?

Computer said ‘Yes’, innit?

Dr Mair Edmunds, associate director for clinical performance at the hospital, expressed her regret that Clementine had been moved by an electronic bed management system.

Well, no.

She might have been incorrectly marked for movement by a computer system, but real live people – supposedly, professional NHS staff – would have done the actual moving.

I mean, surely they check that someone’s well enough to be moved before they…


Dr Edmunds said the hospital now had a nurse controller to oversee such moves and that more robust procedures were now in place to ensure patients were well enough to be transferred.

Before, no one checked?


Thursday 30 September 2010

Take Your Medicine Like Good Boys And Girls!

The government has more than 30 million swine flu vaccines left over after responding to the outbreak of the swine flu pandemic last year.
Hmmm, what to do, what to do....

I know! *snaps fingers*
Combining immunisation against the flu with the swine flu vaccine would prevent people from being able to turn down the swine flu jab without also missing out on the usual protection against winter flu viruses.
Capital idea! If they won't take their medicine, Nanny NHS will hold their nose until they do!
She said: "By March this year, that vaccine had been given out 5.5million times and there have been no reported cases of narcolepsy in Britain. There is very little change to the seasonal flu vaccination which will still protect against a large number of flu viruses. It is simply that the swine flu vaccine has been added. People will be notified of this when they receive their invitation letters to get the jab so it won't be a surprise."
This sort of breathtaking audacity still comes as a surprise, love, even to me....

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Bogus NHS dentist with fake qualifications earned £230,000 over nine years

A bogus dentist with no qualifications managed to fool her employers at NHS hospitals for nine years before being discovered.

Vinisha Sharma used a fake degree certificate to register with the General Dental Council (GDC) and was employed by seven different hospitals where she operated on patients under supervision.

Despite having been investigated by the GDC in 2003, her deception was only discovered after a colleague raised concerns about her skills and knowledge of the job, prompting the Council to take another look at the case.

Sharma, who claimed she had a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree in India, earned roughly £230,000 as a senior house officer on annual contracts over the period.

The 37-year-old said that she had studied at the Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in Amritsar, but the university had no record of her ever attending or graduating.

Such was her self-delusion that she even had the letters BDS – Bachelor of Dental Surgery – as part of her personalised Mercedes numberplate.

Source: DailyMail

Wednesday 22 September 2010

.Doctors ‘ping-ponged’ Clementine Nicholson, 17, dying of meningitis

A student at one of Britain’s top independent schools was ‘lost’ for hours by hospital doctors as she lay dying of meningitis-related blood poisoning, an inquest heard.

Clementine Nicholson collapsed in agony at £24,000-a-year Rugby School in Warwickshire. The 17-year-old eventually died of meningococcal septicaemia, blood poisoning caused by the same type of bacteria that causes meningitis, on May 6, 2009.

An inquest heard the condition, which causes severe joint pain and fever, needs to be treated within six hours. But Dr Patodi, who was treating her at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry, sent Miss Nicholson for an unnecessary CT scan and then took a 30-minute break.

She was then ‘ping-ponged’ between two wards before eventually being sent to intensive care...
Source: The Metro.

Monday 20 September 2010

Mum left with surgical pin sticking out of her elbow

Mum Mary Goodswen has been left in agony after a two-inch surgical pin slid out of her elbow following an operation.

To make matters worse for the 59-year-old mum of four, medics have told her she’ll have to wait a whole month before the problem is put right. In the meantime, doctors suggested that a cork is placed over the spike to stop it injuring someone.

Doctors inserted metal pins in Mrs Goodswen’s arm after it was left badly broken by a brutal street attack close to her home in Bromford, Birmingham. The operation at Heartlands Hospital to correct the broken bone seemed to have been a success – but two days later, one of the pins burst through the skin, to Mrs Goodswen’s horror.

She told the Sunday Mercury: ‘This has made my life hell. I can’t sleep at night and I’m in constant pain. With the pole jutting out of my elbow, I could be a danger to my boyfriend or other people. The pain was indescribable when it ripped through my flesh.’
Source; The Metro

Girl’s fatal tumour mistaken for ‘growing pains’

Courtney Runciman, 11, died on her first day of secondary school after waking up paralysed and doctors discovering a tumour running up her spine.

Tragic Courtney had complained of back and neck ache over the summer holidays, but a doctor was convinced they were merely the result of growing pains. Courtney enjoyed her first day at Blatchington Mill School in Hove and took part in activities with all the other children

The following morning, though, she woke up unable to move her legs. She was rushed to London's King's College Hospital where scans revealed a tumour running from the base of her spine to just below the neck. Her condition worsened considerably after emergency surgery and her parents took the heartbreaking decision to turn off her life support machine...
Source: The Metro

Monday 13 September 2010

Mother-of-three given just months to live after bungling doctors missed her cancer 20 times

A mother-of-three has been given just months to live after doctors failed to diagnose her cancer during 20 examinations. Catherine Watkins was failed repeatedly by medical staff in Southend, Essex, despite losing two stone and being in so much pain she could barely move.
The 55-year-old started suffering severe abdominal pain in December and has been rushed to the A&E department of Southend Hospital four times in the past nine months. Doctors insisted Mrs Watkins, who also suffers from diabetes, simply had gallstones and refused to give her a CT scan.
Last month the foster carer was finally given a scan after her daughter forcefully argued her case.  Medical staff then discovered Catherine had advanced liver and pancreatic cancer...
Source: Daily Mail.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Father-of-four left disabled after blundering NHS fails to remove brain tumour which grew to the size of a lemon for four years

A father-of-four was left permanently disabled after doctors failed to diagnose a brain tumour which grew to the size of a large lemon for four years.

Former church minister Adrian Underwood was told he was suffering from migraines when he first complained of severe headaches and weakness on his left side.

But though a CT brain scan later revealed a tumour on the right-hand side of his brain, it was left untreated because a senior consultant failed to check the results.

Today the 42-year-old received a substantial out of court settlement after Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust admitted liability - nearly a decade later.

Read more: Daily Wail

NHS fails to remove brain tumour which grew to the size of a lemon for four years

A father-of-four was left permanently disabled after doctors failed to diagnose a brain tumour which grew to the size of a large lemon for four years.

Former church minister Adrian Underwood was told he was suffering from migraines when he first complained of severe headaches and weakness on his left side. But though a CT brain scan later revealed a tumour on the right-hand side of his brain, it was left untreated because a senior consultant failed to check the results.
Today the 42-year-old received a substantial out of court settlement after Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust admitted liability - nearly a decade later...
Source: Daily Mail.

Eleven Doctors missed cancer diagnosis Now 43 year has only weeks to live

A mother-of-three has been given weeks to live after ten hospital doctors and her own GP allegedly missed tell-tale signs of cancer.

Distraught Angela Skeffington said blundering medics continually misdiagnosed her stomach cancer as period pains, depression and even indigestion.

She also claims one A&E doctor told her to 'eat more bananas' during her continued cries for help, which went on for five months.

The 43-year-old has now been told her cancer is so advanced that doctors cannot operate - meaning she is likely to miss the birth of her sixth grandchild.

The terminally-ill grandmother of five said she was treated like a 'nuisance' after making cries for help with medics at Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham and her own GP since April.

Editorial comment Im 40 and I feel like a teenager, This woman is 43 and has 5 grandchildren? The mind boggles at how fecund the population is.

Source Daily Wail

Mother of three given weeks to live after cancer was missed by ELEVEN doctors

Distraught Angela Skeffington said blundering medics continually misdiagnosed her stomach cancer as period pains, depression and even indigestion.

She also claims one A&E doctor told her to 'eat more bananas' during her continued cries for help, which went on for five months. The 43-year-old has now been told her cancer is so advanced that doctors cannot operate - meaning she is likely to miss the birth of her sixth grandchild.

The terminally-ill grandmother of five said she was treated like a 'nuisance' after making cries for help with medics at Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham and her own GP since April. She said was suffering with severe stabbing pains to the stomach, blood in her vomit and stools, plus a loss of appetite. Mrs Skeffington claimed she was not given a specialist CT scan until a week ago, when the killer disease was finally discovered.

Her stomach cancer has now spread to her liver and lymph nodes, and she has been told there was little hope of recovery.
Medical records show she was seen by ten doctors during 12 visits to Heartlands Hospital A&E, but suffered repeated misdiagnoses including anorexia, depression and indigestion.
Source: Daily Mail

Busy A&E doctors fail to spot broken bones in children

Children and babies are at risk because overstretched hospital doctors are failing to spot breaks and fractures, it was claimed today.

The number of cases where there has been a delay in diagnosing children's bone injuries, or where breaks have been missed altogether, has risen by nearly a third in two years, according to new figures. The findings raise serious concerns about how under-fives are dealt with in understaffed casualty departments. Patient groups claim NHS cutbacks are partly to blame, along with a national shortage of paediatricians.

The Patients Association said: “It's really important that when children are admitted to A&E they are seen by the most appropriate and skilled individuals. If there is a shortage of specialist paediatricians, then clinical need must outweigh cost.”

The National Patient Safety Agency health watchdog received 19 reports from NHS trusts last year of missed fractures in young children, compared with 14 from 2008 to 2009.

In London, a total of nine blunders at seven hospitals was recorded in the past two years. But the agency says this is likely to be an underestimate as it is not compulsory for trusts to report such incidents...
Source: The Evening Standard

Saturday 4 September 2010


Wearing hoodies and baseball caps, and festooned with 'bling' jewellery, they are doing their best to look like American rappers.

Sadly, the fact that they are middle-aged British nurses is all too apparent.
Well, it's crazy, sure, but what they get up to in their own time is no business of...

This is how one health care trust has decided to spend public money - by producing an £1,800 rap video about how to clean your hands.

It is available to watch on NHS Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust's own channel on the YouTube website. It can also be bought in DVD form for £25.
Must be selling like hot cakes, I bet?
Yet in the month the DVD has been available, not a single copy has been sold.

* Nurses With Attitude

Monday 30 August 2010

Superbug hits baby ward at University College Hospital

One of four premature babies infected with a bacteria at a London hospital died from the bug, it has been revealed.

The babies were infected at the University College London Hospital neonatal unit with the so-called "gram-negative" bacteria.
The infection killed one of the babies while two of the others died of other causes. One baby has survived.

The hospital has not said when the baby died, but the bug hit the ward in July. The babies were among 15 at the unit found to be carrying several types of bacteria, of whom 13 had bacteria resistant to treatment. Of those, nine were carrying the bacteria on their skin and four were found to have it in their blood streams...
Source: BBC.

Friday 27 August 2010

"Hospital put plaster cast on child's wrong arm"

Hospital staff at Southampton General have issued an apology after medics plastered the wrong arm of a two-year old. Toddler, Honey Wight, chipped a bone in her left elbow after she jumped off a slide. However, for reasons unknown, medical staff in A and E plastered Honey's right arm.
The youngster's mum, Ms Wight, told the Southern Daily Echo; "I was so angry. I just couldn't believe it." The twenty-nine year old continued; "The nurse was there and it said 'left elbow' but she put it on the right arm. It is just crazy."
Ms Wight, who realised the medical mishap the next day, having put her daughter straight to bed after her eventful time, returned to Southampton hospital the next day where the mistake was rectified.
Dr Michael Marsh, medical director at the hospital, said: "We are deeply sorry to Honey and her family. Incidents like this are extremely rare and we will be carrying out a full investigation into how it happened."
Source: The Metro

Friday 13 August 2010

Doctors missed Francis McConville's broken back

Francis McConville was released after doctors failed to see he had broken his back in three places, his family claim. Francis McConville's shoulder was X-rayed after he had a fit and he was given a sling.
Three broken vertebrae were apparently spotted nearly three weeks later after the 39-year-old of South Ockendon, Essex, had another scan. Basildon Hospital's care was 'horrendous', said mother Frances.
The patient's concerns would be addressed at his next appointment, said the hospital.
Source: The Metro

‘Superdad’ Dave Brown delivers baby after hospital rejects mum in labour

A 'superdad' delivered his baby after his partner was turned away from hospital twice in 24 hours. Dave Brown also gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to his newborn girl after girlfriend Emma Habens had been told she was not about to give birth. Mr Brown, 42, said he followed tips he had seen on television programmes to help deliver Maisie safely.
Miss Habens says hospital staff told her the day before her daughter was born that a birth was not imminent, even though her waters had broken. The 30-year-old went into labour the next morning and returned to the maternity unit. 'They said to me, "Go home, take two paracetemol and have a lie down",' said Miss Habens. 'We went home and, a few hours later, I was lying down when it just happened.'
Mr Brown then called an ambulance and said his adrenalin kicked in when the birth was about to begin. 'I kept telling Emma, "Keep breathing," but I didn't know that's what I was supposed to say – I'd just seen them say it on telly*,' he added, 'When she [Maisie] came out she was blue. I blew into her mouth and she started coughing and screaming.' The ambulance then took the family, of Newbury, Berkshire, to hospital.
'Dave was amazing. He was a superdad,' said Miss Habens.
Sandra Housten, head of midwifery at North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke, said: 'Every effort is made to ensure women are assessed and able to spend the early part of labour at home and then deliver safely in hospital. 'But some babies do arrive quickly once labour starts.'
Source: The Metro
* Call me a sentimental old fool, but I find that bit very touching.

Cumbria cancer cases detected by review

Eight women who were given the all-clear for breast cancer are now being treated for the disease after a review of the screening service in Cumbria.

In July, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust announced breast screening was being temporarily halted for a major review to be carried out. It involved 1,600 women who had had further tests following routine mammograms since April 2007.

The trust has apologised for any distress caused. It decided to have the review when data showed that among women who were called for a second screening, cancer was detected in fewer cases than would be expected...
Source: BBC

Thursday 12 August 2010

Damages for boy who lost right eye

The parents of a boy whose right eye had to be surgically removed after a two-month delay in diagnosing his cancer have received a substantial damages settlement.
The undisclosed five-figure sum, which will be put into a trust to meet the future needs of three-year-old Harvey Dellar, was approved by a judge at Birmingham County Court. In a statement issued after the brief hearing, Harvey's mother, Caroline Haywood, said she believed her son may not have lost his eye if he had been diagnosed sooner...

‘It's like they thought, she's got dementia, she's dying, why do we need to do anything?’

Dora Duggan, 81, who was terminally ill and suffering from dementia, was moved from her ward to a room which was full of boxes and was being used for storage at the time.

The hospital also left a bag full of tablets within her grasp, prevented more than two members of her family visiting her bedside at the same time and did not put a wristband on her during her four day stay in hospital.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…the caring profession.
Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has now apologised ‘unreservedly’ for the great-grandmother’s treatment which they admit was ‘not acceptable’.
No s***, Sherlock.
Mrs Young, 46, a civil servant, said: ‘They treated her like an animal and shut her in a room that wasn’t even sterile.

‘I don’t believe they wheeled the bed in along with all her other stuff – there wasn’t room and there were only three nurses on that night.

She was supposed to be on oxygen, so I’ve no idea how they’d have got that in.’

She added: ‘The nurses hadn’t even written on the notes that night that she’d been moved into the cupboard. They added that later on - after I’d made a complaint.’

Thursday 5 August 2010

Millions spent on doctor 'gagging orders' by NHS, investigation finds

A combination of pay-offs and fear is preventing whistleblowers going public with criticisms over care, reports Nigel Morris

Hospital doctors who quit their jobs are being routinely forced to sign "gagging orders" despite legislation designed to protect NHS whistleblowers, it is revealed today.

Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money are being spent on contracts that deter doctors from speaking out about incompetence and mistakes in patient care.

Nearly 90 per cent of severance agreements hammered out between NHS trusts and departing doctors contain confidentiality clauses.

A joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Channel 4 News has discovered that at least 170 doctors in England and Wales agreed such a settlement with the trust employing them – backed up by pay-offs totalling more than £3m.

Fifty-five of the 64 contracts supplied by the trusts to the investigation team contained gagging clauses. The agreements have to be approved by the Treasury. The bureau discovered that a further 19 NHS staff who decided to go to employment tribunals after blowing the whistle on hospital standards eventually settled before their allegations were made public.

The widespread use of "gagging orders" against senior NHS staff who could raise patient safety concerns will intensify the doubts over the protection given to whistleblowers.

Campaign groups claim that NHS managers sometimes resort to intimidatory tactics to deter medics from coming forward, while others that break cover can face years of expense and uncertainty before their cases reach court. The result, they say, is that doctors accept the gagging clauses in order to protect their careers and avoid legal wrangling.

Mike Parker, of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: "The trusts find something upon which they can influence this individual and hold them virtually to ransom, and say: 'You speak up and this will happen.' It's effectively a form of bullying, if you like, but we do hear about this sort of thing happening."

Using Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, it emerged that 71 NHS trusts had entered into these agreements with a total of 170 doctors, although the true figure could be higher, as many failed to respond.

Twenty-two of the agreements were signed at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Forty spent a total of just over £3m on the agreements. However, a further 31 trusts simply refused to disclose the size of the payments. Further FoI requests discovered that another 19 health whistleblowers decided to take their cases to court, but abandoned them after signing so-called compromise agreements with employers.

David Bowles, the former chairman of an NHS Trust, told Channel 4 that he believed their use was "endemic". "You shouldn't be at a position of needing a compromise agreement with a whistleblower. You should never get to that point in the first place. You should have listened to the concerns and you should have managed them in accordance with legislation and indeed the NHS's own published code."

Worries over gagging orders in the NHS were underlined by the recent disclosure that Kim Holt, a paediatrician, repeatedly raised the alarm about children's services at St Ann's Hospital in Haringey, north London, more than year before the death of Baby Peter in 2007. Her employer, Great Ormond Street Hospital, reportedly offered her £120,000 to stay silent but she refused. The hospital denied it was an attempt to gag her.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has acknowledged that a scandal of care at Mid-Staffordshire hospital went undetected because whistleblowers' warnings went unheeded.

Whistleblowers gained full protection from dismissal or victimisation under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) of 1999, which was supported by unions and all political parties. It covers employees in both the public and private sectors.

It followed a succession of cases where whistleblowers had been ignored, including the problems at Bristol Royal Infirmary, where 29 babies and children died after heart surgery. In opposition, the Conservatives said they would give NHS staff the contractual right to report errors and failings to the health regulator without fear of reprisal.

Shonali Routray, a lawyer at the charity Public Concern at Work, stressed last night that the law protected whistleblowers even if they had signed confidentiality clauses.

But she added: "They have a real fear factor and discourage people from raising concerns. The worry is the person who has signed the agreement feels under pressure, or vulnerable, or do not understand their options."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said last night: "The Health Secretary has made it clear that patient safety should be at the heart of the NHS and that the improvement of whistleblowing policies is a key part of this ... organisations across the NHS will also need to be clear that whistleblowing is not something that should be regarded as letting down your organisation."

Source: The Independant

Tuesday 27 July 2010

NHS pays £250k for mistaken amputation

Crikey! Perhaps this poor guy would have been better served getting a neighbour to cut his toe off with a rusty saw.

A series of medical failures has lad to an NHS Trust paying £250,000 in damages after a patient was admitted to hospital with a toe infection and ended up having his leg amputated.

Former butcher Ian Watts said the Medway hospital’s failure to control his diabetes led to him losing half of his left leg after he was taken into hospital with pain in his toe in July 2004.

The hospital first decided to amputate his toe, but the pain in Watt’s left foot worsened and doctors said they would need to remove the leg below the knee.

Watts said medical staff neglected to control his blood sugar levels and had to revive him after he lost consciousness on the way to the operating theatre.

He also claimed that after the operation nurses nearly gave him the wrong medication because the hospital ward was in a “state of disarray”.

Watt’s condition was made worse when a pressure stocking was applied too tightly to his right leg causing a blood blister to develop.

After he was sent home an ulcer formed on his right foot and he was readmitted to hospital where he was told he would lose his right leg as well.

“I was extremely depressed and distraught at the treatment I had received,” said Watts. “I couldn’t face living without legs.”

But after seeking a second opinion, Watts underwent a nine-hour operation which saved his right leg.

Kashmir Uppal from Thompsons Solicitors said “Medway NHS Trust never admitted liability for what we consider to have been a series of failures that led to the loss of one leg and the near loss of the other,” adding that the Trust initially refused to settle the case out of court.

But a few months before the trial, Medway NHS Foundation Trust agreed to pay Watts £250,000 in compensation in an out-of-court settlement.
Source: Health and Safety at Work

Gearing Up For Withdrawal Of Goodwill?

Working to rule is the most favoured method of industrial action among the 5,185 nurses and midwives who took part in Nursing Times’ exclusive survey.

Asked what duties they would refuse to do as part of formal industrial action, 59 per cent of respondents said they would refuse to work unpaid overtime and 53 per cent said they would insist on leaving the ward or clinic for breaks - something nurses in practice are often unable to do.

Other targets for bolshy nurses may be ‘non-nursing duties’:
Just over half said they would refuse to carry out non-nursing duties such as cleaning and portering - another role nurses are frequently asked to do when workplaces are short staffed.
Of course, should this take place, patients are unlikely to notice the difference:
A report by the National Health Service has found that millions of patients suffer falls or malnutrition during their stay in hospital, according to the Daily Mail.
When you have to remind people exactly what their jobs are, you may well ask how they’d have the nerve to go on strike in the first place…
The report, entitled High Impact Actions for Nursing and Midwifery: The Essential Collection, concluded that many of the injuries could have been avoided and reminded staff of their duties.

Almost a quarter of patients are malnourished the report, which was sent to hospitals last month, found.

It admitted: "Most patients, carers, health care professionals, commissioners, senior managers and chief executives do not realise how common it is in the UK and so it goes unrecognised and untreated."

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Elderly patients 'leaving NI hospitals malnourished'

Too many elderly people are leaving hospital malnourished, a charity has claimed.

Age Northern Ireland said older patients were being left hungry because they were unable to eat the food left on their hospital tray.

The charity said patients depended on families to both provide the food and feed it to them.

It said relatives were concerned patients were malnourished because food was not being pureed or cut up.

Duane Farrell from the charity said ensuring patients are properly looked after in hospital is more important than ever in the current economic climate.

"Under these conditions older people are going to spend longer in hospital, they're at risk of getting more infections and are going to need more medicine, so the economic reasons are argument enough," Mr Farrell said.

"We believe that hospital trusts need to be at the forefront of this, directors of nursing within those trusts need to be compiling information about how standards are being implemented and coming up with action plans."

Leandre Munroe, from Belfast, said her mother was sometimes unable to even reach her food tray.

"They can't bend over if they've just had surgery so the tray was just too far away.

"If it was closer, even then she couldn't cut it so you had to try and spoon feed, just to drink things she would need a straw," Ms Munroe added.

"Unless you were there to feed the person you were caring for, there wasn't enough staff to do that."

In a statement, the Department of Health said nutritional standards for patient food in hospitals was launched in 2007.

Since then trusts had adopted a screening tool to identify those patients who are at most risk, the department said.
Source: BBC

Schoolgirl, 15, had four heart attacks and died days after doctors sent her home and told her 'take paracetemol'

A frightened schoolgirl suffered multiple organ failure and four heart attacks just days after doctors sent her home with paracetamol and told her to take 'plenty of rest', an inquest heard.

Amy Carter, 15, begged doctors not to discharge her, telling them 'I'm dying' but medics assured her she would be fine. Two days later on Christmas Eve, Amy - who had not been able to eat for 19 days and weighed just six stone - was rushed into hospital and died hours later.

An inquest heard the teenager had developed a lethal combination of conditions never before seen in a patient. A post-mortem revealed Amy, from Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, died from glandular fever and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome..."
Source: Daily Mail

Twin born after 23 week pregnancy becomes most premature baby to survive

A twin girl has become the youngest baby to be born prematurely and survive in Britain, it has been claimed.

Amelia Hope Burden was born before the 24-week legal limit for abortion when her mother was just 23 weeks and two days pregnant, the Daily Mail reported.

She was born weighing only 1lb 2oz ten days before her brother Arthur arrived at 1lb 4oz.

He was born in July after Amanda Staplehurst had been pregnant for 24 weeks.

She went to hospital complaining of stomach cramps only to be told that she was in labour.

Amelia Hope showed little sign of life but doctors were able to revive her.

Under law they are not obliged to do so unless they feel it is in the child’s best interest.

Miss Staplehurst, 30, from Bournemouth, told the Daily Mail: “Doctors said she had just a 10 per cent of chance of survival and we never thought she’d pull through.

“Then having delivered Amelia Hope, it was totally bizarre that for ten days I remained pregnant with Arthur. The doctors have told us they’ve never come across a case like it.”

The babies are being kept in incubators but are putting on weight and said to be developing well.

The twins’ survival will give weight to the campaign to have the abortion limit lowered.

Some campaigners would like to see it reduced to 20 weeks.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, voted for a cut earlier this year and has said that an upper limit of 20 or 22 weeks would be “sensible”.

The previous British record for surviving premature twins was 24 weeks, the paper reported.
Source: The Telegraph

Updated: Baby born at 23 weeks dies because she was 'one week too early'

See Above.

A heartbroken mum who tried for five years to get pregnant told yesterday how a hospital let her premature baby die - because she was born one week too early.

Latisha Brown and husband Robert, 30, begged staff to put daughter Alexis in a special care incubator after she was born at home at 23 weeks. Alexis, who weighed 1lb 1oz and was 28cms long, was breathing, kicking and waving her arms when taken to hospital on June 26.

But a midwife at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said there was nothing they could do. Alexis clung on to life for two hours without any medical help before she died. Guidelines say babies born less than 24 weeks into pregnancy should not be resuscitated.

Nursery nurse Latisha, 23, from Attleborough, Norfolk, said: "I can't understand why they just left her to die."

The hospital said: "There was no question of survival for such a premature baby."
Source: The Daily Mirror.

Monday 19 July 2010

Bolsin For UK Honours List

Please support our campaign to nominate Whistleblower Stephen Bolsin on the UK Honours List.

Support Steve Bolsin For UK Honours

Sunday 18 July 2010

Baby Peter GP suspended for year

A GP who saw Baby Peter eight days before his death has been suspended from working as a doctor for 12 months.

The General Medical Council had already ruled there were "serious failings" in Dr Jerome Ikwueke's care.

Peter, from north London, died aged 17 months in August 2007 after sustained abuse.

His mother Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend Stephen Barker and his brother Jason Owen were jailed last year for causing or allowing his death.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

You don't pose a risk of repeating this behaviour”

End Quote Dr Judith Worthington, GMC panel chairman

Dr Ikwueke, 63, who was the family's GP, had noted that the toddler was not his "usual happy self", seemed "withdrawn" and pulled away when he saw him for the last time on July 26 2007.

The GMC had said the GP breached his professional duty towards the child in not carrying out a full examination, making an urgent referral for further checks or sharing information with a health visitor or social workers.

But giving her judgement, panel chairman Dr Judith Worthington, said: "You don't pose a risk of repeating this behaviour and there's no evidence of deep-seated attitudinal or personality problems."

She also spoke of how Dr Ikwueke had shown remorse, and had taken "remedial action", such as attending a number of child protection courses and improving procedures at his surgery.

Dr Worthington said that, despite the serious breaches identified in Baby Peter's case, striking Dr Ikwueke off the medical register would not be "proportionate or in the public interest".

But she said the panel had decided it was necessary to suspend the GP for the maximum period of 12 months "in order to maintain public confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour".

Patients of Dr Ikwueke had given written and verbal testimonies to the hearing in his support.
Face value

The GP saw Peter at his north London surgery at least 14 times in the months before his death.

The GMC panel ruled there were "serious" failings to prioritise the toddler's welfare in the doctor's care.

It said Dr Ikwueke should have considered the possibility of child abuse when he noticed Peter had bruises on his chest and head at an appointment on October 13 2006.

Instead he accepted a claim by the child's mother that he had fallen downstairs at "face value".

The GP also failed to mention these injuries when he referred Peter to hospital with further bruising two months later.

Dr Ikwueke, who qualified as a doctor in Nigeria and worked as a GP for nearly 20 years, denied misconduct.

Source: BBC

Thursday 15 July 2010

Out-of-hours GP firm had systematic failings, CQC says

I know we've mentioned this story before, but it just gets worse:
A company providing out-of-hours care in an area where a pensioner died after a painkiller overdose had "systematic" failings, the NHS regulator says.

David Gray, 70, from Manea, Cambridgeshire, was killed by Dr Daniel Ubani, a German medic working his first NHS shift for Take Care Now. The now-defunct firm was criticised for failing to act on previous cases and warnings on standards.

The Care Quality Commission said the whole NHS should learn lessons too. The death of Mr Gray in February 2008 after he was given 10 times the normal dose of diamorphine has focused national attention on weekend and night GP cover, which in many cases is provided by private firms.

The CQC criticised Take Care Now (TCN) for failing to investigate and learn from two previous cases of diamorphine overdoses prior to Mr Gray's death...
Source: BBC

Nurses thought anorexic teenager who died in their care 'was just sleeping'

An anorexic teenager under 24-hour hospital supervision died in bed - in front of nurses who thought she had just fallen asleep. Rachael Stubbs, 17,was on the highest level supervision and should have had her hands and neck in full view of nurses at all times at the private Cheadle Royal Hospital, in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, an inquest heard. A coroner is now writing to health bosses, saying observations 'were not carried out properly'.

The teenager went to bed face down and began to make heavy breathing noises 'like she was hyperventilating', on January 13, 2008. Nurses, who should have been within arm's reach of Rachael at all times, did not intervene and 15 minutes later the noises stopped, but they assumed she had fallen asleep. Nurses on the Meadows Unit dialled 999*; when they realised she was not breathing 10 minutes later

Stockport deputy coroner Joanne Kearsley said: 'I find from the evidence that the (level four) observations were not being carried out correctly. I accept that this was a particularly difficult time for the unit and the staff who have to deal with distressing and difficult patients and situations, but I fail to find any reason why the guidance was not followed. Perhaps of most concern was the fact that CPR was not commenced when Rachael was found. I would expect all staff to be reminded of the importance of this in an emergency situation.'
Source: Daily Mail

* WTF? Aren't nurses supposed to know CPR? Isn't that a bit like the fire brigade calling the fire brigade?

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Nurses spend more time doing paperwork than looking after patients

Some nurses are spending more than half their time doing paperwork instead of looking after patients, according to new figures.

Statistics from one group of hospitals show senior sisters and charge nurses – who oversee all the patients and staff on a ward – spend as little as 44 per cent of their time with patients.

Managers at Cambridge University NHS Trust have handed senior sisters and charge nurses new contracts to ensure they spend at least 80 per cent of their time to caring for patients.

Chief nurse Karen Castille said: “The trust is piloting a scheme to free up sisters’ and charge nurses' time and trying to measure the impact of this.”

She told the Nursing Standard magazine the hospitals would be trying out the new contracts until the end of the year.

It comes amid growing concerns that nursing staff are being increasingly swamped by bureaucracy and target-chasing.

Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary of the RCN said: “Nurses enter the profession because they want to care for patients, and so measures that increase the amount of time they spend with patients are a good thing.

"However, it is often problems with resourcing that reduce the amount of time nurses spend with patients.

“It is vital that wards are sufficiently resourced so nurses can provide patients with the level of care they want and deserve.”

The Royal College of Nursing has repeatedly warned that nurses are being forced to spend too much time on paperwork.

Source: The Telegraph

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Aylesbury and Wycombe MPs slam treatment after Stoke Mandeville Hospital death

FURIOUS MPs have slammed the "shocking" hospital treatment of a 77-year-old woman whose death came after nurses failed to give her medication for 36 hours. Health bosses said they were launching a 'detailed investigation' following an inquest into the death of Hughenden Valley resident Margaret Brown at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
The inquest heard on Friday drugs to treat Mrs Brown were unavailable after staff at the hospital's pharmacy could not be contacted. Nurses' attempts to obtain the drugs was described as "haphazard" by coroner Richard Hulett, who recorded a verdict of misadventure.
Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust this week apologised to Mrs Brown's family and offered its "sincere condolences"...

Monday 12 July 2010

Talented singer died 'after doctors blamed agonising headaches on pregnancy

A talented singer married to one of Britain's top songwriters died after her rare brain condition was repeatedly mistaken for pregnancy complications, her family claims.
One doctor said the headaches were caused by a slipped disc while another told her it was just a trapped nerve.
A third doctor said her migraines were hormone-related and one suggested they were being triggered by an addiction to painkillers.
When she finally had an MRI scan in March - three months after giving birth to daughter Sophia - doctors discovered she was suffering from Chiari malformation.
The condition - which affects one in 1,000 people - is a deformity at the base of the skull which crushes the brain stem into the spinal column causing a blockage of spinal fluid.
The mother-of-two underwent an operation on June 23 to relieve pressure on the brain stem but she died three days later of heart failure.

Source: Daily Mail

A new treatment is giving hope to MS sufferers such as Mark Walker. So why can’t he get it in Britain?

Mark Walker is what the NHS calls an “expert patient”. He’s someone who knows all there is to know about the disease that has shadowed his existence on and off, for nearly 20 years, forcing him to give up the high-flying job he adored, and curtailing an active life. Walker asks difficult questions of doctors, expects candid answers, and pursues new research doggedly.

Before our meeting at the pretty bungalow on the outskirts of Oxford where he lives with his wife, Natasha, he provided me with a detailed record of the onset of his multiple sclerosis (MS): from the first signs of a problem (double vision in December 1991) through putative diagnoses (myasthenia gravis and a brain tumour) and accumulating symptoms (numbness, balance and bladder problems) to definitive diagnosis in 2000. Each treatment tried and its result are documented meticulously, as you would expect from someone who qualified originally as a pharmacist.

Today, at 51, the former IBM management consultant has severely impaired mobility on his right side. He relies on a walking aid known as a Musmate and trekking poles. He knows what, in all probability, lies ahead – a life of increasing debilitation and limitation. It is this glimpse of the future that lies behind his decision – a “rational and considered one” – to go to Athens for tests and, possibly, treatment based on a controversial new theory about the cause of MS.

Walker is frustrated, however, that he must seek help abroad and, given that he lives close to two world-renowned MS centres at the John Radcliffe and the Nuffield hospitals, angry at the lack of support from MS experts here in exploring new approaches.

“Yes, I am desperate. Two years ago I was living in a three-storey townhouse in the centre of Oxford. Now, I’m living in a bungalow because I can’t do stairs very well. Ten years ago, I was managing a team of 20 people in Rome. Now, my life is all about managing my disease.

''In the 21st century, patients like me, who are well informed about their progressively disabling disease, should be allowed to choose private diagnostic tests and treatment for themselves. And health-care professionals should surely be helping patients’ freedom of choice.

Source: The Telegraph

Sunday 11 July 2010

Sacked NHS whistleblower vindicated

Tribunal judge orders that radiology manager who reported senior doctors' misconduct be reinstated on her full salary

An NHS worker with an unblemished 27-year career was sacked after she blew the whistle on senior doctors who were moonlighting at a private hospital while being paid to diagnose NHS patients, an employment tribunal has heard.

Sharmila Chowdhury, 51, the radiology service manager at Ealing Hospital NHS Trust, repeatedly warned the hospital's most senior managers that doctors were dishonestly claiming thousands of pounds every month.

A Watford employment tribunal judge took the unusual step last week of ordering the trust to reinstate Ms Chowdhury's full salary and said: "I have no hesitation in saying that you are probably going to win."

The ruling will be a bitter blow for the trust, particularly as despite the seriousness of the allegations, it failed for two years to take any action against Miranda Harvie and Peter Schnatterback, the two doctors accused of fraud at the hearing.

Instead, Ms Chowdhury was suspended after a counter-allegation of fraud made against her by a junior whom she had reported for breaching patient safety. Radiographer Michael McWha made the allegation at the request of Dr Harvie, the tribunal heard. Ms Chowdhury was sacked for gross misconduct in June, eight months after her suspension.

This case is the latest to highlight the inadequate legal protection for whistleblowers who speak out about wrongdoing in the NHS. It also raises the uncomfortable question about the power yielded in the NHS by senior doctors. The onus is now on the trust to prove at next February's tribunal that Ms Chowdhury was guilty of fraud and not, as she claims, sacked because she was a whistleblower.

Speaking after the judgment, a tearful Ms Chowdhury expressed her relief after months of financial hardship. A widow with a teenage son, Ms Chowdhury has been forced to move back in with her elderly parents and rely on the goodwill of outraged lawyers. She told The Independent on Sunday: "I cannot believe what has happened to me. I was horrified and humiliated when escorted out of the building, and for a whole month, I had no idea why I was suspended. I was just doing my job. I thought the trust would want to know consultants were doing private work on NHS time. The public has a right to know what is happening with public money.

"This whole thing has completely changed me. I'm trying to stay positive but I loved my work, my department, and there are not many jobs out there. I hope the trust sees sense and tries to resolve the situation. If it hadn't been for Julie Morris at Russell Jones and Walker who took on my case for free, I would have lost everything I'd worked for all my life."

Source: The Independent

Thursday 8 July 2010

Jane Harrop, 30, dies after doctors tell her: You've only got a headache

Jane Harrop was told she ‘only had a migraine’. But ten days later, she was dead – after medics failed to diagnose what is believed to be Menigo-myeloncephalitis.

The care at Good Hope Hospital, Birmingham was ‘an absolute joke’, said Mrs Harrop’s husband, Dean, ‘The day before she died on February 19, Jane was rolling about on the floor screaming,’ added the builder from Selly Oak.

Hospital bosses have launched an inquiry into the 30-year-old carer’s treatment, and findings will be passed to a coroner. Lisa Dunn, Good Hope Hospital director, said: ‘We would again like to pass on our sincere condolences to the family.’
Source: The Metro.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Hospital trust pay-out for brain-damaged taxi driver

A taxi driver who suffered brain damage after a hospital scan was not properly interpreted has been awarded a multimillion-pound pay-out. Leslie Dye was taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, after he was stabbed in the neck by a customer in May 2003. Mr Dye, 57, suffered a cardiac arrest which left him seriously disabled and wholly dependent.
The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust admitted liability. The trust has agreed to pay Mr Dye a lump sum of £850,000 plus index-linked periodic payments. Mr Dye is now cared for at the Jacob Centre, in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire.
At London's High Court earlier, Mr Justice Burnett said: "It is obvious that the consequences of the stabbing and the failures in medical care which followed had an absolutely devastating effect upon his life and on the lives of all those close to him."
A trust spokesman said: "Since the incident, the trust has worked hard to ensure the quality of its healthcare services improves and that nothing similar happens again. The trust has apologised to Mr Dye and his family for the quality of care he received at Princess Alexandra Hospital and wishes them all the best for the future."
Source: BBC

NHS trust 'deny' life-saving operation for 13-year-old epilepsy sufferer

"A mother is uprooting her family because she says her NHS trust has denied her seriously ill son a life-changing operation.
Sue Lomas is moving from Staffordshire in the hope another trust will fund a £14,000 operation to ease son Ryan's life-threatening epilepsy. The 13-year-old's fits are so violent he wears a helmet – but is still left with broken teeth and sometimes even a fractured eye socket.
Ms Lomas, 40, made a case for vagal nerve stimulation surgery – in which electric impulses control seizures – but she lost her second appeal to North Staffordshire PCT despite backing from consultants, politicians and carers. 'The NHS will give out things like boob jobs and gastric bands, so why won't they give my son a chance at happiness?' she asked. She is moving from her childhood home of Biddulph to Nottingham to continue her fight.
The trust said it refused the procedure because there was a chance Ryan would feel no benefit."
Source: The Metro

Sunday 27 June 2010

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

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

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

Friday 25 June 2010

Major deficiencies in artificial feeding, inquiry finds

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 24 June 2010

Kent bug scandal NHS boss awarded damages

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

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

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

Tuesday 22 June 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vadas has admitted that this conduct was inappropriate and dishonest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vadas denies this conduct was inadequate.

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

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

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

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

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

He was also suspended by the GMC pending investigation.

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

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

Source: Daily Mail

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 21 June 2010

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

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

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

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

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

The patient died three hours later.

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

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

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

Source: Sunday Mercury

Saturday 19 June 2010

This ‘Choice’ Thing Is Damned Inconvenient…

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Basildon needs to do is stop killing its patients.

Thursday 17 June 2010

One Law For Them...

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

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

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

Replicated from here.

Wednesday 16 June 2010

"Press One For St Peter..."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 15 June 2010

NHS manager sacked following patient's death

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

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

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

Monday 14 June 2010

False Economy

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 11 June 2010

Higher Scots NHS spend 'no benefit'

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

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

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

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

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

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

NHS reliance on junior doctors hinders their training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 10 June 2010

Mixed Messages…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it me, or..?