Hospitals hit by a vermin invasion: Rats, mice and cockroaches ‘putting patients at risk’
NHS hospitals have to call in pest controllers hundreds of times a year to deal with infestations of vermin, putting patients at risk of disease and infection.
A survey of hospitals in England found many were continually plagued by pests such as rats, mice, ants, silverfish, cockroaches and fleas.
There have been cases of rats in a palliative care ward, mice in a children’s nursery, fleas and cockroaches in maternity units, and wards infested with bedbugs.
The incidents have taken place in all areas of hospitals, from intensive care wards and A&E departments to staff rooms and canteens. Some hospitals have had more unusual complaints, reporting problems with squirrels, foxes and birds.
The details, obtained by Freedom of Information requests, will raise concerns that cleanliness is still a major issue at a number of NHS trusts. Vermin can carry infections that can put patients’ recovery at risk.
While cases of MRSA and C.difficile have fallen after a nationwide campaign, there are concerns that some other infections are on the increase.
The survey comes only weeks after a vulnerable patient claimed he was attacked by a rat as he lay sedated in a hospital bed. Jason Ketley, 42, was bitten on his back and neck at St Ebba’s Hospital in Epsom, Surrey. Staff say a field mouse was responsible for his injuries. [It was a RAT! Only the bosses say it was a mouse]
Last night Professor Mark Enright, an infection control expert at AmpliPhi Biosciences, said: ‘This is scandalous and should not be happening in modern hospitals. It points to a lack of general hygiene. ‘Rats can carry infections such as Weil’s disease, which can be passed on to healthcare workers and patients. ‘If someone is in an intensive care or paediatric ward, they are more susceptible to infection.’
Roger Goss, co-director of the campaign group Patient Concern, said: ‘It is terrifying and it shows that the rhetoric about patient safety being the number one priority is often little more than hollow words.
‘You’d have thought this kind of problem would not be allowed to arise because cleaning systems are so continuous and efficient.
‘But instead there is a question of priorities. If you’ve got targets to treat everyone in A&E within four hours, then this kind of thing is unglamorous by comparison and doesn’t happen.
‘There is no target to avoid rats in palliative care units, so it does not happen. The message to patients should simply be: steer clear of hospitals.’
The survey covers hundreds of pest control call-outs between August and January, with details provided by more than 40 trusts. All hospitals have some type of contract with a pest-control firm, either for routine checks or for emergencies.
Britain’s Multicultural Nightmare
More than 400 children were subjected to forced marriage in Britain during the past year, including a five-year-old girl who is believed to be the country’s youngest victim of the practice.
The statistics were provided by the British government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) as part of an ongoing effort to create a law that would criminalize forced marriage in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The custom is already illegal in Scotland.
Overall, the FMU said it gave advice or support related to nearly 1,500 cases of forced marriage during 2011, although experts say the vast majority of forced marriages in Britain go unreported.
Most of the instances of forced marriage in Britain involve Muslim families from South Asia, particularly Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Many of the cases involve Muslim children who are taken abroad by their parents and forced to marry against their will. Forced marriages often involve kidnapping, beatings and rape.
Prime Minister David Cameron has compared the practice of forced marriage to modern day slavery and has said people should not “shy away” from addressing the issue because of “cultural concerns.” A new law outlawing the practice is currently being drafted and could be in place by the end of 2012.
Separately, more than 65,000 women and girls in England and Wales have been the victims of female genital mutilation, and another 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are believed to be at a high risk, according to a London-based non-profit group called Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development.
Speaking in the House of Commons on February 6, British Home Secretary Theresa May said “Sadly, what we see are too many examples of this terrible crime continuing to take place. I think most people would be shocked to know how many young girls within the United Kingdom are subjected to female genital mutilation.”
Female genital mutilation is most common among Muslim immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. Although the practice is illegal under the 2003 Female Genital Mutilation Act, and carries a jail term of up to 14 years, no one has yet been successfully prosecuted.
In many cases, Muslim families often pool resources to fly professional “cutters” to Britain from Africa to perform mutilations on pre-pubescent girls for as little as £40 ($65), often without anesthetics, using blunt knives, razor blades or scalpels. In other cases, girls are flown abroad to their family’s native country to help minimize the risk of detection.
On March 31, an anti-female genital mutilation activist group named Daughters of Eve began hosting workshops in London to encourage men to stop this practice. The workshops, which will run for five weeks, include topics such as an introduction to female genital mutilation, its consequences and the laws surrounding it.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that more than 2,800 so-called honor attacks — punishments for bringing shame on the family — were recorded by British police during 2011. That data was compiled by the London-based Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organization (IKWRO), a registered charity that provides advice to Muslim women and girls living in the United Kingdom, who are often facing forced marriage, honor-based violence, female genital mutilation and domestic abuse.
Although the statistics provide the best national estimate so far, IKWRO believes the real figure could be five times as high. The highest number of honor crimes — which include murder, mutilation, beatings, abductions and acid attacks — was recorded in London, where the problem has doubled to more than five times the national average.
Elsewhere in Britain, the government says that effective in 2013, it will end the practice of paying multiple social welfare benefits to Muslim immigrants practicing bigamy or polygamy.
In September 2011, a British newspaper exposé revealed that tens of thousands of Muslim immigrants in Britain are practicing bigamy or polygamy to collect bigger social welfare payments from the British state.
Although bigamy is a crime in Britain punishable by up to seven years in prison, the rapid growth in multiple marriages has been fueled by multicultural policies that grant special rights to Muslim immigrants who demand that Islamic Sharia law be reflected in British law and the social welfare benefits system.
The United Kingdom also recognizes polygamous marriages where both parties were resident in a country in which the practice is legal before they moved to Britain.
The report shows how Muslim men can take a second, third or fourth wife (or in some cases five or more) from anywhere in the world, father any number of children with her, and have British taxpayers assume responsibility for this family’s upkeep and care.
By having a string of wives living in separate homes, Muslim immigrants are squeezing tens of millions of British pounds from the state by claiming benefits intended for single mothers and their children.
Those women are currently eligible for full housing benefits — reaching £106,000 ($250,000) a year in some parts of London — and child benefits paid at £1,000 ($1,500) a year for a first child, and nearly £700 ($1,000) for each subsequent one.
The British government is also working on a new law that would ensure that meat slaughtered in accordance with Islamic Sharia law cannot be sold to unwitting members of the public. The new measure would prevent schools, hospitals, pubs and sporting venues from serving so-called halal [permitted in Islam] meat secretly to customers.
The move will be welcomed by animal rights activists and many others, who argue that the traditional Islamic way of preparing meat — which involves killing animals by drawing a knife across their throats without stunning them first — is cruel and causes unnecessary pain.
In September 2010, an investigation by London’s Daily Mail found that major supermarket chains, fast-food restaurants, even some hospitals and schools in Britain are serving halal food without telling those who are eating it.
Meanwhile, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) — a key promoter of multiculturalism in Britain — has refused to broadcast a screenplay about the threat that Islam poses to freedom of speech.
The BBC’s director general, Mark Thompson, says he will not air a play the National Theatre’s controversial play called “Can We Talk About This?,” which examines multiculturalism and how it has resulted in Britain being more divided than ever.
According to Thompson, there is “a growing nervousness about discussion about Islam.” He also claims that because Muslims are a religious minority in Britain, their faith should be given different coverage than that of more established groups.
In 2005, Thompson famously ordered BBC Two to air an anti-Christian musical called “Jerry Springer: The Opera,” which mocked God and presented Jesus Christ as a homosexual. At least 45,000 people contacted the BBC to complain about the show, which contained an estimated 8,000 obscenities. According to one observer: “If this show portrayed Mohammed or Vishnu as homosexual, ridiculous and ineffectual, it would never have seen the light of day.”
The one-off jab that could stop the most common cause of age-related blindness in elderly
Very early days for this yet
A chemical that will stop people from developing the most serious form of age-related macular degeneration has been found by scientists.
Given as a one-off injection, it would keep the disease at bay, allowing elderly men and women to continue to everyday activities from reading the newspaper to driving or watching TV.
The most common cause of blindness in the elderly, age-related macular degeneration affects a quarter of over-60s in the UK and more than half of over-75s. The number of sufferers is expected to treble in the next 25 years as the population ages but there are few treatments – and no cure – for the condition.
Caused by the deterioration and death of the cells in the macula, the part of the retina used to see straight ahead, robs sufferers of their central vision. The more common ‘dry’ form affects the eyes gradually, sometimes over many decades.
But one in seven of those with dry AMD will develop the more ‘serious’ wet form and lose their central vision almost immediately.
The breakthrough, from Trinity College London, could prevent dry AMD turning into the more serious form, allowing people to continue going about their day-to-day lives.
In tests on animals and on human eyes donated to medical research, a husband and wife team of scientists showed an immune chemical called IL-18 to be crucial to the conversion to the more serious form of the disease. They believe that increasing levels of IL-18 in the eye will stop the process in its tracks in people.
Dr Matthew Campbell said: ‘It means if you take someone with dry AMD and inject IL-18 into the retina, you could potentially prevent them from ever getting wet AMD.’ However, he stressed that the research is at an early stage.
Dr Sarah Doyle, his wife and fellow researcher, said: ‘Our results directly suggest that controlling or indeed augmenting the levels of IL-18 in the retinas of patients with dry AMD could prevent the wet form of the disease.’
There are drugs that can be used to improve vision in those with wet AMD. But they are given late in the course of the disease and have to be regularly injected into the eye.
Another treatment, called photodynamic therapy, is only suitable for around a fifth of patients.
In contrast, it is possible that a jab that boosts IL-18 levels will be a widely suitable one-off treatment.
The researchers, who detail their work in the journal Nature Medicine, are trying find a way of inserting gene for IL-18 into people’s eyes. Ferried into the eye inside an empty virus shell, it would ‘switch on’ and produce IL-18 when needed.
Given routinely to people with dry AMD, it should stop them developing the more serious form.
Dr Campbell said: ‘Essentially, it’s vaccination. More work needs to be done on this disease because the population is getting older and it is going to get more prevalent.’
If animal trials are successful, the treatment may be given to patients for the first time in around five years.
Widespread use is around a decade away and dependent on any drug being shown to be safe and effective in stringent, large-scale trials.
Avril Daly, of charity Fighting Blindness Ireland, which part-funded the research, said that a treatment that stopped dry AMD from turning into the more serious form would make a huge difference.
‘Anything that could prevent the onset of wet macular degeneration would be a huge relief and a huge benefit, not only to the individuals themselves but also to the healthcare service.’
‘This is the worst time to stop teaching religion': Archbishop of Canterbury warns of dangers of axeing RE lessons in British schools
The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday warned about the dangers of ‘downgrading’ religious education in secondary schools.
In his Easter Sermon, Dr Rowan Williams said it was the ‘worst possible moment’ to undermine the teaching of religion to teenagers. He told the congregation at Canterbury Cathedral that apparent hostility towards faith among the young had been exaggerated and that many took the issue of religion seriously.
Dr Williams, who will resign as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of the year, said pupils appreciated the role it plays in shaping human existence and are keen to learn about it.
He said: ‘There is plenty to suggest that younger people, while still statistically deeply unlikely to be churchgoers, don’t have the hostility to faith that one might expect, but at least share some sense that there is something here to take seriously – when they have a chance to learn about it. ‘It is about the worst possible moment to downgrade the status and professional excellence of religious education in secondary schools, but that’s another sermon.’
Under current guidelines all five to 16-year-olds must study RE at school and all 14 to 16-year-olds must take at least half a GCSE in religious studies.
But research published last year showed that one in four comprehensive and academy schools do not teach religious studies at GCSE and nearly a third of grammars are now also shirking the obligation.
The study came after RE was left out of the subjects counting towards the English Baccalaureate. This is given to teenagers who score at least a C at GCSE in English, maths, science, a foreign language and a humanities subject, which is limited to history and geography.
Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘Most parents will think the Archbishop of Canterbury is absolutely right. Let’s hope education ministers take note and restore religious education to its proper status in schools after it has been allowed to decline for the last 20 years.
‘Even if people are not religious themselves, it is very important to get a good grounding in religious education because so much of our culture and society is based on religion.’
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up — on his usual vastly “incorrect” themes of race, genes, IQ etc.