Scandal that shames Britain: Appalling treatment of the elderly on NHS wards as complaints reach record high

Tens of thousands of elderly people are suffering appalling care at the hands of the NHS every year – pushing complaints to a record high. For the first time last year, more than 100,000 patients and relatives were forced to issue complaints after being let down by the Health Service. Hundreds of thousands more won’t have bothered to complain because they have so little faith that the NHS will listen.

The Daily Mail is today backing a campaign by leading charity, the Patients Association, for an overhaul of the complaints system to make it completely independent – and end the scandal which sees people forced to complain to the hospitals against which they have a grievance. And we are backing their appeal to raise £100,000 to boost their helpline which helps angry NHS patients submit complaints and has become inundated in recent years. The charity also wants matrons appointed at each hospital whose sole job will be to ensure patients are treated with respect and dignity and who will be entirely independent of hospital trusts.

The campaign comes only weeks after the death of the charity’s president Claire Rayner, who promised to return to haunt David Cameron if he did not improve the NHS. Her widower Des vowed: ‘Let the haunting begin.’

The appalling treatment of the elderly in hospitals has pushed complaints to a record high. For the first time last year, more than 100,000 patients and relatives protested in writing. Yet unless they were prepared to launch costly legal action, their only recourse was to complain to the very hospital which had let them down rather than to an independent body. That is why the Daily Mail today backs a campaign launched by the Patients Association, a charity which has campaigned tirelessly for the better treatment of NHS patients.

The number of complaints about hospitals last year was up by more than 13 per cent — the biggest annual rise on record. It represents growing anger at the needless indignity suffered by the elderly spending their final days on hospital wards and the callous attitude displayed by too many doctors and nurses.

Calls to the Patients Association’s helpline have shot up in recent years — leaving it ‘inundated’ and unable to cope with demand. Its advisers deal with thousands of harrowing cases every year, some of which are detailed in a dossier collected by the charity and revealed in today’s Mail. They include examples of frail and often scared elderly people left in their own filth, not being helped to eat or drink and screaming in pain but being ignored by nurses.

Many families tell how they were intimidated by staff when they raised concerns over the indignity and neglect suffered by their loved ones. Underfunding means there is often nothing the short-staffed helpline can do beyond giving advice. Two staff and one volunteer now have to cope with more than 5,000 calls a year — a toll which has doubled since 2008. The charity is determined to take on more helpline staff to deal with the dramatic rise in complaints, so it can continue to shame the NHS into dealing with the growing problem.

And, in a foreword to the charity’s dossier, the couple’s son Jay reveals that while his mother’s healthcare over the last few months of her life was generally good, there were times when the health service got it badly wrong. ‘Those were the occasions when her nursing was assigned to agency staff who knew little or nothing about my mother and made no effort to find out, when calls for assistance went unanswered, when doctors treated her less as a person than as a set of conditions and readings on a chart. ‘She found this hugely distressing, but it also made her very angry.’ He added: ‘If she were here today she would have been hollering from the rooftops about it, berating politicians, health service managers and medical professionals alike.’

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘Our calls are going up, and with the help of Mail readers we will try to make sure everyone gets the help they need. ‘Surely the essentials of nursing care are what every patient deserves and should get? The NHS should get this right all of the time. ‘There is lack of help with eating and drinking, lack of help with toileting needs. It is clear from the stories we hear on our helpline that too many patients are being badly let down.

‘Families are left with a life sentence of grief, with no lessons learned. The fact this problem hasn’t been properly addressed before is a sad indictment of our society. The whole complaints system needs to be reviewed urgently.’

Some 12 per cent of the 2009/10 complaints concerned the attitude of staff, while a further 11 per cent were because appointments had been cancelled at the last moment. Another 42 per cent were about aspects of clinical treatment. Almost half of the complaints were against hospital doctors, while nurses, midwives and health visitors accounted for almost a quarter. NHS trust administrative staff — including managers and receptionists — were the subject of nine per cent of complaints.

Elizabeth Cavanagh epitomised the ‘don’t let them get you down’ spirit of her generation. Raised in the East End of London, she survived the Blitz and the Bethnal Green Tube disaster. She worked hard all her life, first setting up her own clothing firm before opening a cafe which she ran until retiring in her mid-70s. But the proud 88-year-old ended her days in an NHS hospital scared and screaming out in agony, her cries for help ‘ignored’ by staff.

Her daughter Patsy Dowsett 58, said: ‘My mother went through so much pain and neglect in a place where she should have received the best possible treatment. ‘She was let down by the NHS when she needed them the most.’

Last November, the grandmother was admitted to Queen’s Hospital in Romford, Essex, with chronic heart failure after the care home where she had lived for a year became worried about her after a fall. Mrs Dowsett, a local government consultant, brought her mother home-made food. But although it was placed in front of her, other patients said staff did not help her to eat or drink. The call alarm buzzer was also repeatedly left out of her reach.

One day, after using a bedpan, she was left calling for help and ‘in a very uncomfortable position — like a turtle on its back’, said Mrs Dowsett, who had twice to go and tell a nurse before anyone went to help her mother on the ‘understaffed’ ward.

Requests for painkillers were refused.

On another occasion she arrived to find her mother ‘looking like she was dead but still alive, screaming in pain, ­incoherent, clinging to the bed in a foetal position’. Her mother also developed bedsores, which went undetected for days.

She was discharged on December 3, readmitted to hospital 16 days later and died on December 21 from a heart attack.

An investigation was launched after a complaint by the care home about the bedsores. A report by the safeguarding adults team found that on the ‘balance of probability’ there was ‘neglect’. It also found her diet and nutrition should have been properly monitored.

The report added that the police were contacted for their stance and they advised ‘it would be a criminal matter if it was an individual who had the sole care of the patient. As it appeared this was the failing of the institution as a whole, they advised that the institution should investigate their own failings.’

Mrs Dowsett said: ‘My mother did not deserve to be treated this way and did not deserve to die in this manner. I want to make people accountable for their actions.’

A Barking, Havering And Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust spokesman said: ‘We have offered our sincere condolences to Mrs Dowsett following the death of her mother and have tried to address the concerns that she has. ‘The trust works hard to continually improve patient care and patient experience. ‘Within the past few months we have introduced a range of new initiatives, including a visible leadership programme — which sees all of our senior nurses, including the director of nursing, back in uniform and back on the wards.

‘We have also started patient safety walk rounds with the executive team ­visiting all of our clinical areas, and ­successfully implemented a new system for ensuring that all patients who need help with feeding themselves receive the assistance they need.’


Why SHOULD mothers on welfare have countless children when I can only afford two?

Asks British mother

My daughter Sasha, five, was puzzled. ‘Mummy,’ she said. ‘You know you say you work so you can buy us nice things?’ ‘Yeees,’ I replied, wondering what ­argument she about to skewer me with. ‘And you know you say I can’t have another brother or sister because we don’t have enough money?’ ‘That’s right.’

‘Well, I don’t understand. Kayla’s mummy and daddy don’t work. But Kayla has far more things than me. ‘She’s got a Nintendo and a Wii and a trampoline and a dolly with her own potty. And Kayla’s got three ­brothers and her mummy’s having another baby. So how do you explain that?’ Sasha folded her arms and gave me her most piercing Rumpole Of The Bailey stare.

How could I explain? ­Kayla’s mum and dad can afford endless luxuries because they’re all paid for by the ­generosity of the state.

Last week, the newly appointed Tory peer Howard Flight was forced to apologise after declaring cuts in child benefit for higher taxpayers were unjust. ‘We’re going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it’s jolly expensive, but for those on benefit there’s every incentive. That’s not ­sensible,’ he said.

The ­Government disowned his comments and the bleeding hearts went wild. How dare the nasty man say the poor should not be allowed to ‘breed’? This was eugenics, the first sign of a totalitarian state. Yet, in middle-class houses across the land, abodes populated by two hard-working adults and two or three children, the question niggled — isn’t a totalitarian state one where people aren’t allowed to speak their minds? And wasn’t Mr Flight just voicing what many of us were thinking?

Of course, not only the middle classes should be allowed to become parents. But forget about the style: what about the substance?

My husband James and I have two daughters. We’d love a third child, but we’ve decided we can’t afford one. This may sound ridiculous. We live in a lovely house and our children are well-fed and clothed. What is stopping us? Well, we are both self-employed, meaning our earnings vary wildly from year to year. With such ­uncertainty, we feel having another baby would be irresponsible. Yes, it would be cute and we would adore it, but the extra expense would also leave us no financial cushion.

In the trendy London suburb where we live, few people seem to share our scruples. Thanks to the crazy rise in house prices, we’re surrounded by the very rich — who can afford the six-figure sums needed to buy a family home. But we’re also bordered by a less salubrious suburb, so my children also go to school with many ­children whose parents live in council accommodation.

Both these groups have no worries about ­mortgages. In wealthy circles, having four or more children is a status symbol — like having a villa in ­Barbados. Meanwhile, women who have never worked a day in their lives know ‘the social’ will pick up the tab. It may not pay much, but when ­compared to many jobs on offer it appears an easy option. This crazily entitled point of view is one a huge chunk of the population subscribe to. Six million Britons are living in homes where no one has a job and where, according to a report by MPs, ‘benefits are a way of life’.

Meanwhile, middle-class couples are feeling pinched by mushrooming utility bills and taxes — taxes benefit claimants don’t pay, but which support their families. It’s incredibly unfair.

Some tell me I’m crazy to limit my family because of financial ­concerns. They say that ‘we’d manage’, and when presented with a new life, money worries would seem petty.

But I don’t think it’s superficial to worry about money; it’s sensible. If we had another child, we would want a bigger house and car. Note my use of the words ‘want’ not need — I realise children can share bedrooms and cars aren’t vital. But our council appears to think otherwise. Just the other day, Sasha’s friend Uma suddenly left her school because her mother was ­pregnant with her fifth child.

Neither of Uma’s parents has ever worked, but they drive an ­enormous people carrier and now, I learn, ‘the council has moved them to a bigger house at the other end of the borough’.

‘How can I work?’ a mother of four who’s been on benefits since she left school asked me recently. ‘I’ve got all these children to look after.’ But her children weren’t dropped on her doorstep by the stork. She may have got pregnant accidentally the first time, but after that it was her decision to get pregnant again and again. Without benefits, would she have had such a cavalier attitude?

The average UK childbearing age now stands at 29.3 years, the highest level since records began in 1938

Our welfare system was set up as a safety net for the needy — ­disaster can strike any family. The fact short-term help is available is something to ­celebrate. That’s what makes the abuse of the system so depressing.

Don’t get me wrong. I count my blessings to have two healthy ­children, rather than mourn those that never were. I would far rather know the satisfaction of working hard and contributing to society than sit back and be spoonfed. I’m relieved that I graduated before the introduction of tuition fees and I got on the housing ladder 20 years ago when a flat in a good area was within my means.

The people I feel desperately sorry for are young couples who would rather scrub lavatory floors than be dependent on the state. They are the ones ­deferring ­having children — how can they not when they have student grants of £30,000 to pay and it’s impossible to buy their first home because they cost an average £135,000, more than four times the average salary.

According to a survey by the BabyCentre website, only one in 25 women imagined having just one child, but that’s what nearly a third end up with — and 45 per cent say they couldn’t afford a larger family.

The irony, of course, is that such women would make excellent mothers. But by the time they are able to support a family, they will be in their 30s — their most fertile days long behind them. Meanwhile, their peers who had their first ­children at 16 are debt-free and ­living in council accommodation.

It’s those same middle-class couples who contribute most in terms of taxes, but take least from it. Alarmed by the state of our schools and hospitals, we tend to pay twice to give us access to the private option.

Told we should be self-reliant, we went out and organised virtually worthless private pensions.

Now we’ve learned that university tuition fees are to be trebled. Again, the extra bills won’t ­trouble the rich and the poor will be ­subsidised, but the grafters in the middle will be expected to make yet more sacrifices if we’re to help produce the next generation of diligent professionals.

Wanting a child is an all-consuming urge. It would be cruel to limit children to high earners. But how many children should any mother have? Once we’ve produced one or two, most keep our broodiness in check. But this argument holds no water with the brigade who insist it’s their ‘right to have a baybee’.

Babies aren’t a right, they’re an enormous responsibility. My three-year-old would love a pet giraffe. My five-year-old, as we know, would love her busy parents to be more like Kayla’s mummy and daddy, at home all day and still able to buy her a trampoline and a dolly with a potty. But we can’t have everything we want.

Sasha will get the dolly for Christmas — paid for from my post-tax earnings rather than by other taxpayers.


Teach us about family values, say British teenagers: How to be a parent is their sex education priority

Teenagers would rather be taught about family values than about sex, a survey has found. They see the responsibilities of being a parent as the number one ‘fact of life’ – ahead of sexual intercourse, contraception and sexually-transmitted infections.

The findings suggest the current emphasis in schools on the mechanics of sexual intercourse including how to use a condom does not match the priorities of youngsters. Nearly half of girls say they want sex education to focus on the consequences of pregnancy, not the biology of sex.

The survey of 13 to 16-year-olds also found that more than a third of boys want to know what ‘being a parent’ is all about and that no issue was deemed more important by so many.

Experts from Hull University said they were surprised the majority of teenagers they surveyed support ‘moral’ ideas about having sex. Most believe their first sexual relationship should be special and that sex should only take place in long-term serious relationships.

The survey was carried out by Dr Julie Jomeen and Dr Clare Whitfield of the university’s faculty of health and social care. Dr Jomeen said the findings were important because a national strategy to cut teenage pregnancy had failed, while sexually-transmitted infections among young people are rising.

Labour pledged in vain to halve the rate of teenage pregnancy while in government – spending £246million in pursuit of its target – and the UK still has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe.

Dr Jomeen said: ‘There is quite clearly sexual activity in school age children. Knowledge obtained from sex and relationship education and other sources might not stop that activity but it does seem that those children with a greater insight are more likely to use safe sex practices, such as seeking advice about contraception, and to engage more with health services.’

The survey of sex and relationships among 2,036 teenagers from nine schools in both affluent and deprived areas found 46 per cent of girls and 38 per cent of boys rated being a parent as the most important topic to know more about.

In second place for girls was the morning after pill, with 41 per cent wanting to learn more, while 34 per cent of boys wanted more information about sexual intercourse.

Ways in which HIV can be passed on was the third most important topic for 33 per cent of girls and 28 per cent of boys.

In fourth place was sexual feelings for around one-third of teenagers, followed by abortion for one in three girls and the morning after pill for one in four boys.

The survey, commissioned by East Riding of Yorkshire Council and NHS East Riding of Yorkshire, also questioned attitudes about sex and relationships.

Around three-quarters of boys and girls agreed ‘you don’t have to have sex to keep a partner’ and a relationship doesn’t have to include sex.

More than two-thirds of boys and girls said ‘first sex should be both special and planned’.

Three out of five girls and almost half of boys said they would only have sex in a long term serious relationship.

Fewer than one in six boys said sex was the only way to be satisfied in a relationship, with just one in 20 girls agreeing.

Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said: ‘Young people are clearly tiring of the negative messages they are receiving about pregnancy and parenthood from sex educators obsessed with contraception. ‘For too long, government policy has all too often been encouraging and facilitating casual sex.’


Latin lessons for British state school pupils aged five in language revival bid

The study of Latin is one of the best ways of learning to use English well so I heartily approve — but I would like to know where they are going to get the teachers for it

Children as young as five will be given Latin lessons as ministers attempt to revive the language in primary and secondary schools. Condemning the long-term ‘decimation’ of Latin in state schools, Education Minister Nick Gibb swept away Labour guidance which effectively restricted primaries to teaching modern languages.

He also revealed teenagers taking a GCSE in Latin or Greek will be able to count the qualification towards the new English Baccalaureate, the proposed benchmark for secondary school achievement. It will be awarded to youngsters gaining at least a C at GCSE in English, maths, a science, a humanities subject and a language.

The emphasis on languages comes as ministers prepare to overhaul the National Curriculum. Mr Gibb told the Politeia think-tank in London that learning Latin helps general language skills, but it had been squeezed out by a curriculum ‘straitjacket’.

Those who argued it should not be taught to state pupils as it was ‘elitist’ were widening the gap between the rich and poor, he said. A ‘pitifully small’ number of primaries teach Latin and only 9,246 teenagers took a GCSE in it last year – 70 per cent of them at private schools, he added.


Five a day ‘will not stop cancer’

Another blow at an official myth. The report below is still a bit credulous but it’s a move in the right direction

Eating fresh fruit and vegetables will not protect you from cancer as they have little effect compared with alcohol and obesity, a study finds. Official guidelines recommend at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day in order to be healthy but new research has found that this may not have a substantial effect on cancer.

The science suggests that people should be told that cancer risk is much more related to how much you eat and drink rather than what you eat.

The review, published in the British Journal of Cancer, looks at a decade of evidence on the links between fruit and vegetables and the development of cancer, but it concludes that the evidence is still not convincing. The only diet-related factors that definitely affect cancer risk are obesity and alcohol, they discovered.

Tobacco is still the single biggest cause of cancer. While smoking increases the risk of cancer by as much as 50 fold, even large consumptions of fruit and veg will only reduce the risk by a maximum of 10 per cent.

Professor Tim Key, an epidemiologist from Oxford University, said that while there are undoubted benefits in eating fruit and vegetables there is little hard evidence that they protect against cancer. But the evidence is indisputable that cancer is strongly linked to being overweight or obese, and drinking more alcohol than the recommended daily limits.

He said: “Fruit and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet and a good source of nutrients. “But so far the data does not prove that eating increased amounts of fruit and vegetables offers much protection against cancer. “But there’s strong scientific evidence to show that, after smoking, being overweight and alcohol are two of the biggest cancer risks.”

Overweight people produce higher levels of certain hormones than people of a healthy weight and this can contribute to an increased risk of breast cancer. Being overweight can increase your risk of other common cancers like bowel and also hard-to-treat forms of the disease like pancreatic, oesophageal and kidney cancer.

When alcohol is broken down by the body it produces a chemical which can damage cells increasing the risk of mouth, throat, breast, bowel and liver cancers. In the UK 15,000 cases of cancer are caused by alcohol, it is believed, and 19,000 cases of cancer are caused by being overweight or obese.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Too few people know about the significant cancer risks associated with obesity and drinking too much alcohol. “While stopping smoking remains the best way to cut your chances of developing cancer, the importance of keeping a healthy weight and cutting down on alcohol shouldn’t be overlooked. “Keeping alcohol intake to a maximum of one small drink a day for women and two small drinks per day for men and keeping weight within the healthy limits can have an enormous impact.”

The British research mirrors the findings of an American study published in April. For every extra two portions consumed the risk of cancer reduced by just three per cent, the research conducted by a team at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York suggested.


Finger length is a marker for risk of prostate cancer

This does seem a bit bizarre but finger length has long been known to relate to various indices of masculinity

Men whose index fingers are longer than their ring fingers are much less likely to develop prostate cancer, a new study suggests. The association is so strong that researchers believe the simple test could be part of a screening process for the disease.

The study led by The University of Warwick and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) found men whose index finger is longer than their ring finger were one third less likely to develop the disease in their lifetime than men with the opposite finger lengths.

When it comes to the risk of developing the disease before they are 60 the link was even greater with longer index fingered men having 87 per cent less chance. “Our results show that relative finger length could be used as a simple test for prostate cancer risk, particularly in men aged under 60,” said the joint author Professor Ros Eeles from the ICR and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. “This exciting finding means that finger pattern could potentially be used to select at-risk men for ongoing screening, perhaps in combination with other factors such as family history or genetic testing.”

For a 15 year period from 1994 to 2009, the researchers quizzed more than 1,500 prostate cancer patients along with more than 3,000 healthy cases. The men were shown a series of pictures of different finger length patterns and asked to identify the one most similar to their own right hand. The most common finger length pattern, seen in more than half the men in the study, was a shorter index than ring finger.

Men whose index and ring fingers were the same length (about 19 per cent) had a similar prostate cancer risk, but men whose index fingers were longer than their ring finger were 33 per cent less likely to have prostate cancer, a disease which kills 10,000 people a year in Britain. Risk reduction was even greater in men aged under 60 years– these men were 87 per cent less likely to be in the prostate cancer group.

The relative length of index and ring fingers is set before birth, and is thought to relate to the levels of the sex hormone testosterone the baby is exposed to in the womb. Less testosterone equates to a longer index finger, the researchers now believe that being exposed to less testosterone before birth helps protect against prostate cancer later in life.

Previous studies have found a link between exposure to hormones while in the womb and the development of other diseases, including breast cancer (linked to higher prenatal oestrogen exposure) and osteoarthritis (linked to having an index finger shorter than ring finger). Testosterone is known to be a driver of prostate disease once it has taken hold but this suggests it is also a major cause.

Professor Ken Muir, co-author from the University of Warwick, said: “Our study indicates it is the hormone levels that babies are exposed to in the womb that can have an effect decades later. “As our research continues, we will be able to look at a further range of factors that may be involved in the make-up of the disease.”

Emma Halls, Chief Executive of Prostate Action, which helped fund the work published in the British Journal of Cancer, said: “This research brings us another step closer to helping determine risk factors for prostate cancer, which is possibly the biggest issue in current thinking about preventing and treating the disease. “However, we are still a long way from reducing the number of men who die of prostate cancer every year and need more research and education in all areas to achieve this.”


Warming Underestimated – Does It Matter?

It’s a curious phenomenon that examples of climate ‘forcing’ always seem to occur just before big environmental summits, and that the forcing only ever goes in one direction. The UN Climate Change meeting at Cancun this week is no exception. The UK’s Met Office, among others, released a series of statements and in the Met Office’s case a brochure about climate change. Their conclusion is that things are probably worse than we thought, and in their opinion, is worse than the current science is telling us. I suppose in the face of uncertainties in the science, and contradictory data, touting authoritative opinion is seen as a way to influence important meetings (the Royal Society obviously thinks the same), although it must be said that when it comes to opinion the Met Office track record for accuracy is not shining.

Just four lines of information released in the Met Office’s brochure attracted most of the attention in the media. It seems that there is a case to be made that ocean temperatures need to be adjusted. Prior to about 2002 they need to be lowered, and post 2002 they need to be raised slightly.

Those four lines were;

Changes in the way sea-surface temperatures were measured

over the last decade have introduced a small artificial cooling

of up to 0.03 °C over the last decade. This is being corrected

in a new version of the Met Office dataset.

The reference for the statement was given as; J. Kennedy, R. O. Smith and N. A. Rayner, 2011. Using AATSR data to assess the quality of in situ SST observations for climate studies, in press Remote Sensing of Environment.

It would be fair to say that the most inconvenient truth in climate science at the moment is that the world has refused to warm in the past decade. That includes the land as well as the oceans and the scientific literature is replete with research that arrives at this conclusion. It’s a topic we have discussed several times in the Observatory, most recently here. Obviously given the importance of such a finding that the ocean temperature dataset needs adjusting it is important to check, and recheck, the data on which it is based.

This is what the Met Office has done showing that recent warming may have been as much as 0.03 C per decade larger than previously thought. But does it matter, and does it justify the headlines?

Despite the unequivocal headlines no mainstream environmental journalist (in the UK at least) did anything other that repeat those four lines, and the associated comments on the Met Office’s press release. Indeed, when contacted for the scientific paper on which those four dramatic lines are based the Met Office Press Office didn’t have it and had to scramble to track it down.

Measuring Temperature

The research paper deals with different ways to measure the sea’s temperature, from ships, buoys (drifting and moored) and satellite-based observations.

They all measure different things. Temperature measurements from ships are the most variable. Some have done it by lowering a bucket (sometimes a specially designed one), which is raised, and the temperature measured and recorded with the time and ship’s position. Some ships measure the temperature of the water engine intake that comes from a different water depth and is specific to the design of the individual ship. Buoys are specially designed to take meteorological readings and sea temperatures but until recently were of a mix of designs each with their own idiosyncrasies and errors. Satellite observations (looking at the infra-red spectra of the ocean) measure something different, the temperature of a very thin slice of the ocean’s surface. When compared to the other data satellite observations have to be converted to ‘bulk temperatures’ which is a non-trivial process with scientific problems of its own.

To investigate the relationship between ships, buoys and satellites the researchers take the satellite data as the most accurate and (taking only night-time satellite observations in the first instance) then look for simultaneous ship-satellite observations as well as simultaneous buoy-satellite data between 2002 – 2007.

The satellite temperature data has an average scatter of 0.14 C. Ship data are less accurate with a scatter of 0.71 +/- 0.74 C when compared to the satellite data. Buoy data are better with a scatter of 0.29 +/- 0.26 C when compared to satellite data. None of these figures are surprising, or particularly new.

Taken together these figures suggest that, when compared to (processed) satellite data buoys tend on average to read cooler and ships warmer. According to the researchers this means that ship temperatures must be depressed and buoys raised. In addition the increasing number of measurements of sea surface temperature from ocean buoys and the decreasing proportion of measurements from ships since 1980 should be taken into consideration.

The researchers conclude that this difference spread across the globe and over the years is sufficient to add a warming of 0.03 C per decade to the HadCRUT surface temperature record. Despite the impression given in the media this is a small correction. It should also be noted that the 0.03 C is very much a statistical upper limit on the purported shortfall in warming. It assumes that the bias in global average sea surface temperature is on the large size of estimates and that the sea surface temperature contributes around 70 per cent of the average global surface temperature.

Superficially then, one can say the temperature in the past decade has been adjusted upward and therefore the oceans have warmed more than was realised. That view however does not take into account the variability in the data, which should not now be ignored, as that was the whole point of the exercise in the first place.

The correction is smaller than the inter-year variability and does not change the impression that there was no oceanic warming before 1997 and after 2002, after which there is if anything a slight cooling. Also note that this lack of warming occurred when the percentage of buoys rose from 40% to 80% of the data set and the cooling when the percentage of buoys remained constant at about 80%.

To my mind the new corrected data tells us nothing new and nothing that the satellite data when taken in isolation (it is after all claimed to be the best data) hasn’t already revealed.

When the errors in measurements and the scatter in the data are taken into consideration the adjustments, if confirmed and accepted, do not make much difference to way the global average annual temperatures have changed in the past twenty years and in fact confirm the non-warming of the oceans in the past decade.

So the media headlines could have just as accurately have read ‘New Met Office data confirms no warming of the oceans in past decade.’ But that would have meant abandoning journalistic acceptance of authority statements, as well as reading beyond four lines in a brochure.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)


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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