NHS surgeons forced to ‘work in the dark’ after power failure blunder

Surgeons at an NHS hospital were forced to carry out an operation by torchlight after a power failure blunder, official records showed. Emergency backup generators failed to start after routine power testing exercises plunged Gloucestershire Royal Hospital into darkness. The testing of supplies caused disruption to operating theatres and the intensive care unit at the hospital in Gloucester, Glos.

Minutes of a recent hospital board meeting, released on Thursday under the Freedom of Information Act, disclosed that surgeons were forced to complete an operation by torchlight as a result of the failure. Ambulances were also placed on emergency standby but were not needed after power was quickly restored.

According to the minutes, the problems were caused by the main power failing during the tests. Two generators, which required manual starting [Emergency generators required manual starting??? Are we being serious here? Did someone have to get out a crankhandle and crank them? Sounds prehistoric!], failed while the problem was also exacerbated by a failure of backup battery-powered lights.

One unnamed board member said the problems on 13 March this year, were an “unacceptable for an event of this nature to have happened”.

“[She] commented that she was mindful that for an event such as this the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) could present the trust with an improvement notice or prohibition notice,” the minutes said. “She asked if the patient who had been in surgery at the time had been informed that their surgery had been finished by torchlight.”

No details were disclosed about what type of surgery was involved or how long power was out for.

The Gloucestershire Hospital NHS Trust admitted that it learned lessons from the “unique event”.

Despite admitting ambulances were placed on standby to transfer any affected patients, a spokesman denied patient care or safety were compromised. “Powered suction only was temporarily lost in ICU, where specialist staff are fully trained to deliver manual suction when required,” he said. [How could they see what they were doing if all the lights were out too?]

“The Board Papers refer to a single patient in an operating theatre at the time of the incident. The operation itself had been completed and the patient was being closed after surgery. “The patient was fully informed following the incident, but was in no danger at any time. Neonatal Intensive Care and SCBU were not affected.” He added: “There was no compromise to patient care at any time.

“The Trust continues to work with specialist electrical contractors to ensure robust maintenance and Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) testing regimes are in place.”

The incident occurred on a Saturday when few operations were being carried out. [Sounds like it was only luck that saved the day]


Bloody-minded British bank

It matches my experience of British banks. Brits of all sorts seem to LOVE bureaucracy and the tiny bits of the power it gives them over other people — power that they regularly use to hurt and frustrate. It’s why the word “jobsworth” is unique to Britain. It refers to a person who engages in just such petty behaviour.

I contrasted British and American banks long ago (See here under the heading BUSINESS) and clearly nothing has changed

They call themselves the helpful bank. But bosses made a mockery of their advertising slogan by their treatment of a woman with terminal cancer.

Dorothy Southernwood, 61, had flown to Germany for life-prolonging treatment – after first making sure she had enough cash in her account to meet the £27,000 bill. Once abroad however the retired dinner lady found that NatWest refused to transfer the money to the clinic treating her.

Five days of phone calls and pleas could not persuade the bank to relax their security procedures and let her have the money. Even though Mrs Southernwood and her husband Victor, 65, have banked with NatWest for 30 years their branch manager refused to use her discretionary powers to allow the wire transfer. Instead she insisted the couple post written authorisation from Germany.

The bank backed down last night only after being contacted by the Daily Mail.

Mr Southernwood, a mechanic from Huddersfield, and his wife’s daughter Sarah Gash, 38, also travelled to the St George Clinic in Bad Aibling, near Munich, and have spent much of their time there pleading with the bank.

Louise Morgan, 40, the eldest of Mrs Southernwood’s three daughters, said the incident had reduced her mother to tears. ‘I can’t believe NatWest were being so unsympathetic when they have banked with them for so long,’ she said. ‘People shouldn’t believe the adverts on TV, they are not the friendly face of banking. It’s disgraceful what they have done. ‘I can’t believe in this day and age a problem like this can’t be quickly resolved with the press of a button.’

Mr Southernwood managed to keep the German hospital authorities happy by taking out 860 pounds from cash machines until NatWest stopped his card.

His wife discovered she had cancer following tests in the spring. Further scans showed the disease had spread and Mrs Southernwood was told the condition was terminal and she had only months to live. The German clinic uses heat treatment in an attempt to destroy cancer cells. Patients also follow a strict diet and receive oxygen and magnetic therapy. The treatment is supposed to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

A NatWest spokesman said: ‘We sincerely apologise for any stress and inconvenience caused to Mr and Mrs Southernwood. ‘We have now arranged for the funds to be transferred electronically to them and will be reimbursing them for out of pocket expenses they have incurred.’


The human magnet

Wotta lotta! It’s Uri Geller all over again: Pure trickery. The woman is portrayed with a brass key and a copper coin sticking to her but magnetism attracts ferrous metals only — NOT copper and brass

LOOKING on the bright side, she should never lose her keys. But for mother-of-one Brenda Allison, her mysterious ‘power’ that means metallic objects stick to her body has long since lost its attraction.

Dubbed ‘the human magnet’, Miss Allison says she is often embarrassed by the effect, which she has been told is down to a heightened electromagnetic current running through her body.

The accounts manager says coins, safety pins, magnets, spanners and even a metal lid from a Vaseline pot can stay on her body for up to 45 minutes without falling off. When the pulse is at its strongest, she says she can even dance in her living room without them coming off.

For as long as she can remember, she explains, her body has set off car alarms, interrupted the TV signal and blown out light bulbs. When she was a child, she said, her parents stopped buying her watches because her magnetic field kept interfering with the timing mechanism.

Every person has a subtle electromagnetic field flowing through their bodies – but most of us are unaware of its presence. However, Miss Allison, 50, says she first noticed the effects of her magnetism when she was in a nursery school.

As she grew up she started to keep a diary and realised the magnetic pulses were strongest at the end of each menstrual cycle. ‘People laugh when I put metal objects on my skin and they don’t fall off,’ Miss Allison, of Holloway, North London, said: ‘But sometimes my condition can be extremely embarrassing.

‘On one occasion I had a dreadful experience at the supermarket. When I reached the check-out the till machine started to misbehave and it was obvious I had caused it. ‘The man on the checkout started shouting at me and accused me of putting a voodoo curse on his till.’

Doctors have told Miss Allison that her magnetism may be caused by high stress levels and have urged her to take steps to relax. During strong magnetic periods she has been advised to grip the kitchen taps as they are ‘earthed’.

Last night she said she her one wish was to be tested by electromagnet specialists so she can understand the cause behind her condition, adding: ‘When I was a child my parents knew there was something different about me – but they never entertained the idea of taking me to the doctor.


Last Catholic adoption agency faces closure after Charity Commission ruling

The last remaining Roman Catholic adoption agency to resist Labour’s equality laws is facing closure, after the charity watchdog ruled that it could not avoid considering same-sex couples as potential parents.

Catholic Care had been given hope earlier this year that it could get around the controversial anti-discrimination rules that forced other agencies either to close down or sever their links with the church.

In March a High Court judge had ordered that the Charity Commission consider whether to allow the agency’s request to continue refusing to consider same-sex parents, thanks to a loophole intended to protect homosexual charities.

Catholic Care had argued that a clause of Labour’s Sexual Orientation Regulations, inserted to ensure gay organisations could not be sued for discrimination, entitled it to change its “charitable objects”.

But in a judgement published on Thursday, the quango has ruled that it will still not allow Catholic Care to restrict its services to heterosexuals only.

The Charity Commission agreed that organisations can sometimes bend the rules and it conceded that Catholic Care, whose adoption agency is part of a wider social care organisation run by the Diocese of Leeds, offered a “valuable, high-quality service”.

But it ruled that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is a “serious matter” because it “departs from the principle of treating people equally”, and that religious views cannot justify such bias because adoption is a public matter.

The watchdog added that it believed same-sex couples can be “successful” adoptive parents and that even if Catholic Care closes down, the children it would have helped would be placed with new families through “other channels”.

Andrew Hind, the Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, said: “This has been a complex and sensitive decision which the Commission has reached carefully, following the principles set out by the High Court, case law and on the basis of the evidence before us. Clearly the interests of children are paramount.

“In certain circumstances, it is not against the law for charities to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. However, because the prohibition on such discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights law, such discrimination can only be permitted in the most compelling circumstances. We have concluded that in this case the reasons Catholic Care have set out do not justify their wish to discriminate.”

The ruling means that Catholic Care is likely to have to close its adoption service, as if it decided instead to consider same-sex couples as parents it would be going against Catholic teaching on the importance of children having a mother and father. This would mean the agency, which can trace its origins back to an orphanage set up in Leeds in 1863, would lose church funding.

Since Labour’s homosexual rights law came into effect in January 2009, all the other 11 Catholic adoption agencies in England have either had to close down or sever their ties with the church hierarchy. Catholic Care was the last to hold out as it launched its legal bid.

The charity, which only found out the judgement was coming on Wednesday, has not yet decided whether to close its adoption service. But it said that it planned to set up an “adoption support service” instead, for those who have already been adopted or become adoptive parents with its help.

A spokesman for Catholic Care said: “The Charity is very disappointed with the outcome. Catholic Care will now consider whether there is any other way in which the Charity can continue to support families seeking to adopt children in need.

“In any event, Catholic Care will seek to register as an adoption support agency offering a service to those who were adopted in the past and are now seeking information about their background, and also to support adoptive parents already approved by Catholic Care.”


Global warming killed off the mammoths? Pull the other one!

Mammoths were just a type of elephant and the closely-related elephants of Africa and Asia seem to be doing just fine on a diet of warm-climate vegetation — but you can’t expect a Warmist to notice that!

An extraordinary article at Nature’s Great Beyond blog, reporting on a new paper by Judy Allen et al from the University of Durham: “Human hunters off the hook? Climate change caused wooly mammoths’ extinction, say scientists”.

Uh huh. So how do they know this?

Climate change, rather than human hunters, drove the wooly mammoth to extinction. That’s the claim from scientists who say that the hairy beasts lost their grazing grounds as forests rapidly replaced grasslands after the last ice age, roughly 20,000 years ago. The researchers used palaeoclimate and vegetation models to simulate the plant cover across the mammoths’ habitat around that time.

Yes folks, it’s a modelling study. Another one. From the paper’s abstract, the researchers took output from the Hadley Centre’s Unified Climate Model and pumped it into another model which purports to simulate how a variety of plants react to temperature changes. So even if the vegetation model works it still relies on the Hadley Centre model being something one can rely on. Is it just me that finds this all rather unconvincing. I mean is the Hadley Centre Unified Model something you’d want to bet the house on?

Well, according to this article, the Unified Model is: “the same model that is used to produce every weather forecast you see on British terrestrial television.”

Oh dear!


The above article is from Britain and the “Oh dear”! refers to the dismal predictive accuracy of forecasts from Britain’s Met Office

3,500 British straight-A students miss out on university

Dozens of universities declared themselves full yesterday as a minister triggered fury by urging thousands of high- achieving students to settle for ‘less competitive’ degree courses.

Institutions filled up more quickly than ever as record-breaking A-level results allowed 388,000 applicants to claim their chosen places. Incredibly, around 3,500 students with straight A grades could be left high and dry and forced to reapply next year.

Pass rates rose for the 28th successive year despite a toughening up of the exam system, while one in 12 pupils scored the new A* super-grade. It left more than a quarter of university applicants – 187,625 – without confirmed places and facing the biggest scramble for ten years to find last-minute vacancies through the clearing system.

Research by the Mail indicates that more than 20 universities – including Bristol, Birmingham, Warwick, Exeter, Bournemouth and Leeds Metropolitan – have effectively put up ‘closed’ signs, while a further 18 have just a handful of places left.

Half as many courses were being advertised in clearing this year compared to 2009 – 18,500 down from 32,000, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service said.

With universities under threat of hefty fines for exceeding strict recruitment targets and applications up 10 per cent on last year, some 150,000 applicants are expected to miss out altogether. While nearly 48,000 students found courses through clearing last year, the number this year is expected to be closer to 30,000.

Universities Minister David Willetts, who has predicted that 3,500 candidates with three As will be left without places, drew a storm of criticism after suggesting that well-qualified applicants faced with rejection should lower their expectations. He told them ‘I am sorry’, and added that one option would be to ‘look at applying for slightly less competitive universities for next year’.

But Sally Hunt, a university union boss, said: ‘I am astounded that the Government’s insulting response to the university crisis is simply to advise some people to temper their ambition. After years of being inspired to aim higher the coalition government is actually telling students to aim lower.’

The row erupted as A-level students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland celebrated yet another crop of record-breaking performances. The inexorable rise in results continued despite the introduction of open-ended essay-style questions aimed at restoring the credibility of the ‘gold standard’ exam. Candidates were also expected to study fewer units but in more depth.

While 8.1 per cent of exams – one in 12 – were awarded the new elite A* grade, for students scoring 90 per cent in their final exams, the proportion of A grades rose for the 13th straight year to 27 per cent – up 0.3 per cent. The pass rate covering A to E grades, meanwhile, rose to 97.6 per cent. It means only one in 42 exams were failed.

John Dunford, representing secondary school and college principals, said: ‘No question, those examinations have been harder and yet the results have been maintained and indeed slightly improved.’


Benedikt Scheffer has discovered that good grades are not enough to secure a university place. Ben Scheffer achieved three A*s and three As yesterday but does not have an offer from a single university.

The 18-year- old student at Brighton College had applied to study economics at Oxford, London School of Economics, University College London, Bristol and Warwick. The teenager, who lives with his family in Munster, Germany, was turned down by all the institutions despite being predicted to get two A*s and three As.

Ben had already achieved an A in German A-level during his lower sixth studies at the independent school. Yesterday, he went on to get As in chemistry and further maths and A*s in maths, physics and economics.

He said: ‘I’m really pleased with my results but don’t understand why I didn’t get a place. The system is wrong when so many are missing out. There just aren’t enough places.’

Ben plans to take a gap year before reapplying next year. His headmaster, Richard Cairns, said his case showed the ‘ vagaries’ of the admissions system and the need for an overhaul.


Must not juxtapose mention of baboons with mention of Africans

The passage was on the blog of the London Review of Books

“R. W. Johnson, an author and emeritus fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, described the aggressive behaviour of baboons near Cape Town in the first paragraph of the article.

He then juxtaposed this with a second paragraph about migrants and xenophobic attacks in a nearby settlement, prompting widespread criticism and a letter of complaint to the LRB, signed by 73 individuals, including prominent academics and journalists from various countries.

Critics felt that the article was racist, a charge that Johnson has denied. The LRB removed the posting and later made an apology for the post.


So that readers can judge for themselves, I reproduce the censored passage below. Apparently it is wrong to say that both baboons and poor Africans were looking for food:

“We are being besieged by baboons again. This happens quite often here on the Constantiaberg mountains (an extension of the Table Mountain range). Baboons are common in the Cape and they are a great deal larger than the vervet monkeys I was used to dealing with in KwaZulu-Natal. They jump onto roofs, overturn dustbins and generally make a nuisance of themselves; since their teeth are very dirty, their bite can be poisonous. They seem to have lots of baby baboons – it’s been a very mild winter and so spring is coming early – and they’re looking for food. The local dogs don’t like them but appear to have learned their lesson from the last baboon visit: then, a large rottweiler attacked the apes, who calmly tore it limb from limb.

“Meanwhile in the squatter camps, there is rising tension as the threat mounts of murderous violence against foreign migrants once the World Cup finishes on 11 July. These migrants – Zimbabweans, Malawians, Congolese, Angolans, Somalis and others – are often refugees and they too are here essentially searching for food. The Somalis are the most enterprising and have set up successful little shops in the townships and squatter camps, but several dozen Somali shopkeepers have already been murdered, clearly at the instigation of local black shopkeepers who don’t appreciate the competition. The ANC is embarrassed by it all and has roundly declared that there will be no such violence. The truth is that no one knows. The place worst hit by violence in the last xenophobic riots here was De Doorns and the army moved into that settlement last week, clearly anticipating trouble. The tension is ominous and makes for a rather schizoid atmosphere as the Cup itself mounts towards its climax.”

It seems to me that nobody would be worried about the juxtaposition unless they could see something in a comparison between blacks and baboons. So in that case, the ban on the above passage tells us rather a lot about what was in the minds of those who banned it.


About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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