Just one nurse for 11 elderly patients on the NHS wards of neglect
Elderly patients are dying before their time because of a desperate shortage of qualified nurses, a report warns. Nurses on wards for the old are caring for more than 11 patients at a time – substantially more than on other hospital wards.
Experts warn that the shortage of experienced, well-trained staff means that strokes and other sudden health problems that strike elderly patients are being missed. Only a third of staff on such wards are registered nurses, the Royal College of Nursing report shows. The RCN recommends that half should be qualified.
The remaining two thirds are ‘healthcare assistants’, unqualified workers who carry out basic tasks such as washing, feeding, taking temperatures and changing beds.
Unlike nurses, they have not undergone the basic three years’ training and do not have the medical skills or experience to spot potentially life-threatening conditions. They may not recognise the early warning signs of strokes, pneumonia or other illnesses and do not have the training to spot symptoms of dehydration and malnutrition, common among older patients.
The RCN report found that every qualified nurse is caring for an average of 11.3 elderly patients. This is almost three more patients per nurse than in other wards, and more than twice as many as in children’s wards, where the ratio is one nurse to 4.6 patients. Howard Catton, head of policy at the RCN, said: ‘Elderly patients are often more dependent and have more complex conditions.
‘It’s very important to have the right mix of staff. Nurses are able to spot when patients suddenly deteriorate, for example when they are having a stroke. ‘They may also be able to spot possible malnutrition or dehydration.
‘It’s very important that there are enough nurses to spend time with patients and establish their home situation, whether they live on their own.’
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: ‘We have seen time and again examples of failing care when poor staffing levels have been the key factor. With NHS beds running near to capacity it is absolutely vital that staffing levels are prioritised.’
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK, said: ‘Despite older people being the largest patient group in the NHS, this report shows that geriatric wards are often under-resourced, which can compromise even basic patient care.
‘Stories of older patients being left on wards malnourished and ignored by staff are all too common. Inevitably, the majority of us rely on the NHS more at the beginning and later stages of our lives and it is vital the system, including staffing levels, reflects this need.’
Travesty of Britain’s ‘stagnating’ schools: In a damning indictment of Labour, OECD condemns British education which is now inferior to Estonia’s
Britain has plummeted down worldwide education rankings in the last decade, according to definitive figures which shame Labour’s record on schools. Despite doubled spending since 2000, the education of teenagers has ‘stagnated at best’.
The verdict is a damning indictment of Tony Blair’s mantra that his three top priorities in government were ‘education, education, education’. Britain has now fallen behind such relatively poor nations as Estonia, Poland and the Slovak Republic in reading, maths and science.
Although spending has risen from £35.8billion to £71billion, the education of teenagers has failed to register any improvement and in some areas has deteriorated rapidly.
In stunning proof that taxpayers did not get value for money, the UK slipped from eighth to 28th in maths, from seventh to 25th in reading and from fourth to 16th in science over the same period. Poland now ranks ten places ahead of the UK in reading and is three ahead in maths.
Even more disturbingly, the study found that a fifth of 15-year-old Britons are ‘functionally illiterate’, which ‘significantly reduces their chances of success in later life’.
The figures were released yesterday by the highly respected Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which compared the standards of 15-year-olds in 65 developed countries.
British children’s poor reading skills are said to be partly because they spend too much time on computers rather than reading books, but are also a tragic reflection of the education they have received.
Nor has it helped that the UK has a relatively low proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. And having some of the world’s ‘best-educated’ parents has not improved the standards of Britain’s children – raising serious questions about the effective role of parents in UK schools.
The study was based on two-hour tests of 500,000 15-year-old schoolchildren by the OECD. Some 65 countries were listed in this year’s rankings compared with 54 three years ago.
Andreas Schleicher of the OECD said overall scores achieved by UK pupils were ‘stagnant at best, or marginally lower, whereas many other countries have seen quite significant improvements’.
The UK, despite being the eighth-biggest spender per pupil on education, with an average of £8,892 a year at secondary level, performed below the international average in maths, only just above in reading and slightly better in science.
The Far East had strong performers with the region of Shanghai-China coming top in all three subjects and Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan all ranking high.
Finland, which places strong emphasis on teacher quality, was ranked highest European nation.
The study comes a week after Education Secretary Michael Gove detailed his plans for schools reform in a White Paper. He seeks to overhaul the curriculum, make exams tougher, give schools more autonomy and improve teaching standards.
The Coalition seized on the OECD’s results as proof that Labour had failed in education. Mr Gove said an increase in spending under the last government was ‘tied up in bureaucracy and didn’t go to the front line’. He added: ‘Today’s report underlines the urgent need to reform our school system. We need to learn from the best performing countries. Other regions and nations have succeeded in closing the gap and in raising attainment for all students at the same time.’
The minister stressed the importance of using nations such as Poland, Singapore and Finland as ‘our inspiration’. But he admitted that the size of the task was ‘daunting’ and, like Gordon Brown before him, refused to set a target for UK performance in the next international survey, in 2012.
Sir Terry Leahy, head of Tesco, has frequently attacked the education system saying school leavers do not have the basic skills needed for jobs.
And yesterday business leaders expressed horror at the figures showing a fifth of 15-year-olds failed to gain even the minimum standard expected for their age in literacy and maths. Susan Anderson, of the CBI, said: ‘It is increasingly clear that the UK is a long way behind its key competitors in education.’
The UK’s dire record on reading was blamed, in part, on the overuse of computers. In the UK 54 per cent of pupils never go to the library. This compares with the OECD average of 34 per cent.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said teenagers spend too much time communicating through email or online chat. ‘We cannot allow our youngsters to neglect the basic hobby of picking up a book and reading it simply for the enjoyment of it.’
The OECD said immigration played a factor in the UK’s low ranking. Some 10.6 per cent of students are from an immigrant background – the 14th-highest proportion in the list.
The findings showed that the UK’s score for reading was 494, just above the OECD average of 493. For maths skills, the score was 492 – slightly beneath the international average of 496 – as pupils were outperformed by those in Slovakia and Slovenia. In science the UK achieved a result of 514 – higher than the 501 average score but still a disappointment.
According to the OECD, scores gained by Scotland were marginally above those in the rest of the UK, while Wales performed worst in the three disciplines.
Eastern Bloc countries have put Britain to shame by overtaking them since the end of Communist rule
Finally! The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks out in support of Christmas
There’s a strong suspicion that he is just an atheist in a funny hat
The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday defended Christmas against attempts to suppress it in case it offends people of other faiths. Dr Rowan Williams said those who try to ban Nativity plays and carol singing do not understand how people of all religions love the Christmas story and respect its message.
His intervention is likely to be welcomed by Christians. Unlike many colleagues, he has said little to criticise secular campaigners and public authorities who marginalise Christianity.
Several Christian leaders have stood up recently for the religious nature of Christmas. Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, said attempts to ban the mention of Christmas in public were part of a secular drive to push Christianity from public life. Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, said Britain appeared to have become ashamed of Christmas. And on his visit to Britain in September, Pope Benedict spoke of his concern at attempts to discourage Christmas celebrations.
In an interview for Radio Times yesterday, Dr Williams said: ‘The weary annual attempts by right-thinking people in Britain to ban or discourage Nativity plays or public carol-singing out of sensitivity to the supposed tender consciences of other religions fail to notice that most people of other religions and cultures both love the story and respect the message.
‘Christmas is one of the great European exports. You’ll meet Santa Claus and his reindeer in Shanghai and Dar es Salaam – a long way from the North Pole. ‘The story of the Nativity is loved even in non-Christian contexts. One of the best and most sensitive recent film retellings was made by an Iranian Muslim company.’
But some saw his comments as half-hearted. Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, queried his depiction of ‘right-thinking people’, adding: ‘There is an attempt to move nativity plays off the public stage. It is part of an attempt to marginalise Christiniaty. This is not right-thinking.’
British Santa faces littering rap
Council officials are threatening to prosecute a secret Santa for leaving Christmas gifts for children in a park. The mystery man, who signs himself The Woodland Santa, creeps into Pembrey country park, near Llanelli, at night to hang gift-wrapped books and toys from trees. But Carmarthenshire council warned the man that he could land in court for fly-tipping, reports The Mirror.
It is the second year running the phantom Santa has left his festive offerings – last year more than 600 toys and gifts were found hanging from fir trees.
And the kind-hearted Santa has returned with more surprises for young visitors to the park this year.
Park rangers have collected gifts including a Teletubbies annual, cuddly Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh puppet, which have all been passed on to local charity shops. Park manager Rory Dickinson said: “Tis the season to be jolly and giving – but this does cause us a few problems. We cannot leave the presents out because of littering issues.”
Carmarthenshire council officials said some of the presents were ruined by the weather and had to be thrown away as litter.
Councillor Clive Scourfield said: “It’s an unusual problem for us. We certainly don’t want to be the first authority to be labelled Scrooges for citing Santa for fly-tipping. “We would like to come to some kind of arrangement with him to better distribute his generosity – even if it is anonymously.”
The original Moonbat is freaked by the savage Northern winter
In a typical Green/Left flight of ego, he thinks God must be against him. See below. But he is certainly right about the way Warmists such as Al Gore are followed around by freezing weather. It hasn’t yet occurred to Monbiot that maybe the weather is real and the temperature statistics are “fudged”.
Incidentally, he starts out with a lie when he says “the rest of the world cooks”. I live in subtropical Queensland in Australia and am at the moment experiencing the Southern summer. But, far from “cooking”, the weather here has been unusually cool for a summer. And, geographically, Queensland is not an insignificant place. It’s about the size of western Europe
Cancún climate change summit: Is God determined to prevent a deal?
While the rich parts of the world are covered in snow and ice, the rest of the world cooks
Is the divine presence a Republican? Or is He/She/It running an inter-galactic fossil fuel conglomerate? As His name doesn’t feature on the exxonsecrets site, the Congressional funding database or any of the other sponsored denier lists, we’ll never know, but whatever the explanation may be, the Paraclete appears to be as determined as any terrestrial corporate frontman to prevent a successful conclusion to the climate talks.
How do I know? Because every time anyone gets together to try to prevent global climate breakdown, He swaths the rich, densely habited parts of the world with snow and ice, while leaving obscurer places to cook.
The UN’s World Meteorological Organisation has just reported that 2010 is likely to be one of the three warmest years on record. Combining the WMO’s database with the temperatures measured by the US agencies Nasa and NOAA gives this year a ranking so far of equal first or equal second. But you’d scarcely believe it if you live in northern Europe or parts of the US, where (alongside a few anomalously hot ones) we’ve been hit by a series of freakishly cold weather events.
During the climate talks in Copenhagen last December, a band of hideous weather was aimed with surgical precision at Denmark, the UK, Germany, France, Russia and the US. Everything above and below this band was unseasonally hot: in the case of the Arctic, 7.5C above the monthly average. As we don’t live in the Arctic, we didn’t notice, but the cold weather in London, Washington, Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen was missed by no one. To prove that it was no accident, the man upstairs ensured that the entire tract of sea between the UK and Denmark was anomalously warm, even as people stuck in the endless queues outside the Bella Centre in Copenhagen were fainting from the cold.
(You can see the whole picture on Nasa’s site, where you can scan global temperature anomalies month by month.)
As if more proof of intent were needed, take a look at the Met Office data for the UK. Had the talks in Copenhagen taken place in September, October or November 2009 – all of which were anomalously warm – the people of this country would have needed little persuading that life was hotting up. But the moment December comes along, the map goes powder blue – meaning an anomaly of between -1.5 and -2.5C. The cold snap was accompanied, as is traditional at this time of year, with an outpouring of moronic articles insisting that a month or two of cold weather in one region invalidated a 150-year record of, er, global warming. Dumb as they were, they hardly helped the climate talks towards a successful resolution.
(I found the pages I wanted with the help of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, which is a very useful resource.)
Now He’s at it again. Last week, just before the resumption of last year’s failed climate talks, the UK recorded its lowest temperature for 25 years, just down the road from where I live. No one missed the fact that Powys, Wales, was struck by an Arctic -17C, but scarcely anyone was aware that, on the same day, Narsarsuaq in Greenland was basking in a thoroughly unseasonal +12C.
Now, as the talks begin in Cancún, there’s scarcely an adult in this country who hasn’t had the corny thought that we could do with a bit of global warming. Just look out of the window, Monbiot, the dolts who clutter my inbox insist, and tell me where your global warming is now. OK, with the caveat that weather isn’t climate, it’s in Narsarsuaq, currently still basking in +6C, expected to rise to +10 on Saturday. And probably in many other parts of the world as well.
But, perhaps in the throes of one of His Old Testament rages, He would rather you didn’t know. God, alongside half the corporate world and many of its most powerful legislators, has declared war on the climate talks.