Saturday, September 30, 2006


And kills them!

A coroner has criticised a hospital for offering "despicable" and chaotic treatment after hearing that four elderly patients died in painful and degrading circumstances. John Pollard, who conducted inquests into all the deaths on the same day, said that he would be raising his concerns with the management of Tameside General Hospital in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. He condemned as "absolutely despicable" the treatment of Watkins Davies, an 84-year-old war veteran, who went into hospital with a fractured hip and contracted MRSA, the hospital superbug, The inquest was told that Mr Watkins, a widower, was the victim of a catalogue of failures in basic nursing care. When he fell out of his chair, while trying to wash himself, no X-ray was carried out to assess any additional injuries.

His family claim that he was left to lie in his own waste and was in severe pain for hours because of shortages in nursing staff. His meals were left up to 6ft out of his reach. Relatives told the inquest that they repeatedly had to ask a nurse to help him. Ivor Davies, his son, said: "My father did not receive adequate medical and nursing care. There was a lack of communication between nursing staff and us. "I went in one day and my dad was lying in excrement. God only knows how long he was like that. I asked whether the infection was MRSA, only to be told it wasn't. A couple of days later I was told it was MRSA after all."

Mr Pollard recorded a verdict of accidental death. He also heard that Hilda Douglas, 75, died at the hospital from a heart attack after fracturing her pelvis. The family of Mrs Douglas, a voluntary worker from Droylsden, near Manchester, said that she broke her hip when she fell from a hospital trolley without sides. There was no record of the fall. Edward Douglas, her son, said: "There was one nurse per three beds and the nurse said she could not cope." He said that medication had been left on the floor.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes, the coroner said he found this astonishing. "What if that had been vital medication?" he asked. "It is absolutely chaotic." A third inquest heard that Raymond Lees, from Ashton-under-Lyne, who died in May, contracted MRSA after undergoing a knee replacement operation. During his time in the hospital his waist shrank by 14 inches. John Lees, his son, said that it had taken him three hours to discover that his father had not been bathed and that hospital staff did not appear to know his name. "The nurse said, `He gets himself up, dresses himself and does his own teeth'," Mr Lees said. "In fact, he was wearing the same pyjamas he had been wearing for three days. The nurse was cruel and cynical."

A fourth inquest was told that James Kelly, a pensioner from Stalybridge, Tameside, was recovering from surgery but died from pneumonia after he was left sitting in his dressing gown in a draught. Mr Pollard said: "In most of the issues, the nursing care, not the operations or the general medical staff, but the basic care of people, has been in question. I shall be contacting the chief executive and looking at all future deaths at Tameside General Hospital very carefully."

Andrew Burnham, a Health Minister, said: "I understand that the hospital trust has in place a range of measures to ensure that patients receive the high-quality nursing care they have every right to expect. These include daily rounds by matrons to check on patient care, including nutrition and hydration, all of which are reported back to the director of nursing, who has ultimate responsibility for the standard of care." A spokesman for Tameside and Glossop Acute Services NHS Trust said: "These cases are being investigated internally and the trust will act on the results of these investigations."



Too white, probably. That many Canadians and Australians died for England in two world wars apparently deserves no gratitude or recognition from England's present Leftist government -- regardless of the offence that causes to Canadians and Australians

As many of you know my wife and I have recently emigrated to the UK from Edmonton, Alberta. My wife is a Canadian nurse with a first class degree in nursing from an English speaking university, and she herself is a native English speaker. In fact it is her only language, though, like many English-speaking Canadians, she does have 'cereal packet French'.

Before coming to the UK we had to travel down to Calgary, some 300km away, in order that she could sit an British Council English exam (cost $400), which is a prerequisite for 'foreign' nurses coming to work in the NHS (perhaps unsurprisingly for a native English speaker with a degree from an English-speaking university she passed the six hour ordeal - spoken English, understanding spoken English, written English and reading - with a 100% pass mark). Canadian nurses have to go through this costly ordeal in order to get professional registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, bizarrely EU nurses do not.

Upon getting here she understood that she would have to be retrained to 'NHS standards', which in itself is laughable due to the fact that Canadian nurses are trained to a much higher level than the average UK nurse. But still, we accepted that this was the price (œ300 to be precise) that we would have to pay.

The whole moving and shipping process took some time, as you can imagine, and when we arrived in the UK and phoned the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) we were informed that it was not really worth her while retraining and applying to register as a nurse in the UK because the Government had just changed the rules of engagement between health sector employers and foreign nurses. Essentially employers, if they wanted to employ a foreign nurse, had to prove that there was no British or EU nurse that could fill the role. Consequently she would be unable to get a job. Tears.

Eventually, after several weeks enquiry, and in the face of ongoing and insistantly negative NMC advice, a man at the Foreign Office informed us, as we expected, that it was illegal to discriminate against anyone with a valid UK work permit (which of course we obtained when we were in Canada). The bureaucracy of the NMC (a body created by Nu Labour); their general incompetence and bad advice; added to the fact that retraining courses for foreign nurses are now very difficult to come by because foreign nurses are actively discriminated against and no longer come here, means that by the time she can get on a course and retrain she will have been out of work as a nurse for six months. And incurring retraining costs along the way.

She (we) decided not to bother. The result is that the NHS, and the country, has lost a specialist paediatric nurse, a skilled immigrant, who can work to an extremely high standard to the benefit of us all. But this is not a story of complete woe; as soon as she decided not to persue a career in the NHS she was immediately snapped up by the private sector to fulfill a paediatric training role. She now earns about the same as she would as a nurse in Canada - 40% more than a UK nurse - but the problem is that she desperately wants to nurse; it is a vocation, not just a career. And to add insult to injury there is a chronic national shotage of paediatric intensive care nurses.

The result of all this is that I have on my hands a wife who is deeply embittered about the way she has been treated by the UK Government. I regret, and she regrets, that we came back, which is a crying shame as we moved here because we love England.

Anyway, I thought I would get that off my chest. In our dealings with government organisations (mostly the NMC) during this whole saga (which would take me a week to relate to you in full) we have found them to be, almost to a man and woman, completely incompetent and unhelpful. The one redeeming organisation was a non-governmental professional body called the Royal College of Nursing, the general secretary of whom is Dr Beverley Malone.

Dr Malone is an extremely politically astute woman, a credit to her organisation, who has railed against the Government's discrimination against foreign health workers. She objects, in particular, to the way the government cherry picked third world nurses from abroad, depleting those countries of their greatest natural resource, and now intends to pack them off against their wishes as soon as their work permit expires and their employers are forced to employ an EU nurse.

We have been the unfortunate victims of the Government's scramle to recruit foreign nurses and then their scramble to unemploy them in the face of criticism of falling standards, poor English, and third world cherry-picking. Wrong place. Wrong time. But our experience probably pales into insignificance compared to some poor souls.

Dr Beverley Malone now turns her attention to government discrimination against the English:

Under English law, patients in homes are entitled to state support for their nursing care but must foot the bill for "personal" care. In Scotland, by contrast, the whole bill is paid.

And there have been allegations that English patients have been subject to a "postcode lottery" caused by variations in interpretation of the rules around the country.

The Royal College of Nursing claimed the new proposals would fail to solve the problems. It called for a single national policy - and objected to plans to hand policy-making to local primary care trusts.

RCN general secretary Dr Beverley Malone,pictured, said: "It is nurses who are put in the impossible position of having to explain complicated and often unfair decisions to patients and their families.

"The RCN believes that anyone who needs nursing in a care home should get this care fully funded by the NHS. Nursing care is a fundamental part of healthcare and should be funded by the NHS.

Well said that woman. The sad fact is that we no longer have a national health service. It is, of course, beyond her remit to point out the constitutional and funding reasons why this might be so. But I have no doubt that she is aware of the facts.



Alan Johnson displayed his leadership credentials to the Labour Party conference yesterday when he announced plans to restore confidence in school exams and to help children in care. The Education Secretary unveiled an overhaul of GCSE coursework to combat internet plagiarism by pupils. He said that all coursework for maths would be scrapped and that coursework for other subjects would be supervised in classroom-style conditions. "Technology has changed the way we teach, but can also be used by some students to gain an unfair advantage," Mr Johnson said. "We have one of the most rigorous exam systems in the world [Who does he think he is kidding??] - we cannot have it devalued and undermined by the few who cheat by copying from the internet."

He also announced extra funding for children in care, including a 2,000 pound bursary for those who wanted to go to university. "Every child in our society must have access to the educational opportunities that have always been available to a small elite," he said.

The tone of Mr Johnson's speech was crafted deliberately to dampen speculation about his leadership ambitions and instead concentrated on policy, with a theme of using education as a tool to tackle inequality, poverty and injustice. Received politely rather than enthusiastically, it came amidst a heated row over health policy - a distracting backdrop for Mr Johnson.....

Mr Johnson's decision to halt GCSE maths coursework comes after two reviews by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the examination watchdog, which reported last November that there was widespread evidence of cheating. Maths was the subject that gave rise to the greatest concern. Two thirds of maths teachers questioned said that they suspected students had cheated by using the internet or asking parents or siblings for help. However, the authority also expressed concern about science coursework, which Mr Johnson will let continue, but under tighter supervision. The changes may take two years to introduce and enforce.

More here

Town planning blamed for obesity (!)

Poor town planning which limits opportunities for children to take exercise has been blamed for fuelling an increase in obesity. Leading US paediatrician Professor Richard Jackson called for a rethink in the way towns and cities are developed. He said living in a walkable neighbourhood helped people keep off an average of seven pounds (3.17kg). Professor Jackson made his comments at a lecture at London's Institute of Child Health.

He said humans were so adaptable that they quickly adjusted to the environment in which they found themselves. However, while this was an advantage in evolutionary terms, it spelled bad news when that environment provided little opportunity for exercise. Humans were designed to keep active, he said, and they were not designed for the modern, sedentary lifestyle that had become the norm. He said the environment should support people to make healthy choices, but increasingly children were not given the option of walking. "Prescribing a minimum of physical activity is useless if there is nowhere to exercise," he said. "How a neighbourhood is designed dictates how people get around, for example walking or bicycling versus automobile use."

Professor Jackson, who is professor in both public health and urban design at the University of California at Berkeley, said technology had brought both "good" and "bad" news. He said: "Technology has eliminated a lot of the really backbreaking labour from our lives. "But we have also "designed" a lot of incidental exercise out of our lives, such as walking. "In 1969, 48% of American students (90% of those who lived within a mile) walked or bicycled to school. "In 1999, only 19% of children walked to or from school and 6% rode bicycles to school."

Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of the charity Weight Concern, said Professor Jackson was "absolutely right". He said: "The development of obesity in the past 30 years is a direct result of environmental change. "The fact that environment sustainability and health are inextricably linked needs to be recognised by politicians and public health officials and definitive action taken. "Then, and only then, will we see decreases in levels of childhood obesity in this country."


Scotland: More Encouragement for Lying, Deception and Dissimulation

We read:

"Screening tests might be used to bar corrupt and bigoted police officers from promotion. Senior officers yesterday said they will look to extend psychometric tests, which will be introduced to identify racist applicants from the spring, to other ethical concerns, in particular sectarianism, sexism and dishonesty.


We have of course known since La Piere's study in the 1930s that attitudes are no guide to actions but that will no doubt not deter the dumb Scottish cops concerned.


La Piere, R. (1934) Attitudes and actions. Social Forces 13, 230-237

No comments: