Grandmother, 84, with pneumonia left in hospital corridor for 25 HOURS on one of the decade’s coldest nights
This is a travesty of proper care for pneumonia. Winters always seem to come as a surprise to official Britain
An 84-year-old grandmother with pneumonia was left for 25 hours in a hospital corridor on one of the coldest nights of the decade. With outside temperatures dropping as low as minus 10 doctors at University Hospital of North Staffordshire were forced to hand out extra blankets.
Despite this Mary Bowers, who was suffering from a chest infection, was kept in a ‘cold and draughty’ corridor on a trolley from 5pm on Monday December 6 to 6.30pm the next day.
Hospital officials at the under-fire facility – which is under investigation following higher than average patient deaths – have now issued a full apology to the mother of eight. They blamed the long wait on increased admissions, staff sickness, and the Norovirus sickness bug shutting down wards.
Daughter Joyce Woolley, 54, from Fenton, Staffordshire said: ‘It was so cold in the corridor that I kept my coat and boots on while I sat in a chair next to mum’s trolley. ‘She was wearing a nightie with just a thin blanket covering her and at about 2.30am a doctor gave out extra blankets.
‘We kept being told there were no free beds. Mum spent much of the time crying and so I asked staff if they could give me the medication she needed so I could take her home, but they said she had to stay.’
Mary’s son Billy Bowers, 43, from Hanley, Staffordshire, said: ‘Mum’s care was disgusting. The corridor was already cold enough, but her trolley was next to automatic doors which kept opening causing a constant draught. ‘All the patients in the corridor were very ill and it took ages to get help because all the staff were trying to cope with new people coming in. ‘We were speaking up for mum, so I pity some of the old folk who had no-one with them.’
Chief operating officer Mark Mould, at University Hospital of North Staffordshire, said: ‘I have personally offered our sincere apologies to Mrs Bowers and her family for the length of time she stayed in the emergency department.
‘The department has been very busy. The situation was difficult because a bigger proportion of patients than normal required admission. This was coupled with staff sickness in the department and Norovirus, which had closed four wards.’
Fines for hospitals that don’t abolish mixed-sex wards
NHS hospitals face fines for failing to end the use of mixed-sex wards under a renewed drive to tackle the issue being signalled today by the Government. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will promise to toughen the use of existing financial sanctions as part of an operating framework setting health service priorities for the next year.
The strengthened enforcement will only operate from April however, three months after the coalition’s initial target for having only single-sex accommodation.
Sources said yesterday that the framework will also see one of the targets for the time ambulances take to respond to calls scrapped – to the fury of union leaders.
As part of the announcement, primary care trusts (PCTs) will learn how much they will have to spend in the coming year.
PCTs and strategic health authorities are to be abolished as part of a major structural shake-up of the health system which will see control of the bulk of the NHS budget transferring to GPs by 2013.
Governments have been struggling for 15 years to finish the practice of men and women sharing wards and Mr Lansley said in August that it would be ended in all but accident and emergency and intensive care units by the end of the year.
Under his plans, hospitals face losing part of the funding for a patient if they have to share with the opposite sex unless they have consented to it – with those facilities failing to comply being named and shamed.
Shared bathrooms and toilets will be deemed unacceptable as well as the need to pass through areas occupied by the opposite sex, the Daily Telegraph reported. A panel of senior officials will judge whether cases reported via a special software system are justified, with bed and staff shortages not accepted as a reasonable excuse.
A Department of Health (DoH) spokeswoman said: ‘It is vital that the NHS supports patients by protecting their dignity. The provision of single-sex accommodation is essential for this. ‘That’s why the NHS will enforce sanctions on breaches of mixed-sex accommodation and why we will publish data on breaches. ‘Patients will use the information to inform their choice of hospital. There will be no let-up in our drive to improve patient safety, outcomes and patient experience.’
Union leaders said they were ‘shocked’ on hearing of plans to remove the 19-minute target for ambulances attending less serious cases. It is understood that ministers will say that ambulances will only have to meet an eight-minute target for the most serious cases.
Justin Bowden, the GMB union’s national officer for the ambulance service, said: ‘This is an absolute disgrace. It opens the way for cuts in the service. ‘When people dial 999 for medical help they should have some guarantees they will get it. ‘Scrapping the 19-minute target means that the ambulance service will now become like the police service and people will just have to wait until they turn up, if they turn up at all.’
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘We will shortly announce plans to toughen up standards in ambulance responses, especially for the most critical cases. ‘We have been clear that only targets that get in the way of improving care will be abolished.’
European judges kill off British law that curbed sham marriages
Laws credited with cutting the number of sham marriages by more than 70 per cent were yesterday killed off by European judges because they breach human rights.
The rules, which required some immigrants to apply for a certificate of approval from the Home Office and pay a £295 fee before they could wed, were judged discriminatory and against the right to marry by the European Court of Human Rights.
Judges said they had ‘grave concerns’ about the scheme because many immigrants could not afford the fee.
Costly event: Under UK rules, some immigrants had to pay an additional fee to the Home Office before they tie the knot
Costly event: Under UK rules, some immigrants had to pay an additional fee to the Home Office before they tie the knot
The scheme, introduced by David Blunkett in 2004, resulted in a huge reduction in the number of ceremonies performed in its first few years. The number of couples tying the knot in register offices in the East London borough of Newham fell by 72 per cent in the first two years. Across the capital, marriages fell by 36 per cent.
The number of reports from registrars about suspicious marriages also dropped spectacularly. A total of 6,652 people were refused a certificate under the scheme. However, a string of court rulings in the UK began to challenge the system.
The final nail in its coffin was hammered home by the European judges yesterday when they ruled in favour of Nigerian asylum seeker Osita Chris Iwu and ordered Britain to pay him £7,200 in compensation and legal costs of £13,600.
Mr Iwu arrived in Northern Ireland in 2004 and claimed asylum in 2006. In the same year, he proposed to his girlfriend, Sinead O’Donoghue, who has dual British and Irish nationality.
The couple were first barred from marrying at all, but after winning a series of UK court rulings, then could not afford the fee. Mr Iwu was banned from working and his fiancee was on benefits and caring for her disabled parents. They finally married after borrowing the money. Yesterday the Strasbourg court ordered the Government to refund the £295 fee.
The judges said the exemption for Anglicans having Church of England weddings also breached religious freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Home Office earlier this year announced that certificates of approval would be scrapped, in anticipation of the ruling.
Religious schools are still leading the way as they dominate British league tables
Faith schools have increased their dominance in the primary league tables. Two thirds of the 50 best performing institutions were Church of England, Roman Catholic or Jewish. This comes despite the fact that faith schools account for only one in every three schools. Nearly every 11-year-old pupil in a faith school was a whole academic year ahead of the Government’s target level.
The head teacher of the country’s top-performing faith school, St Wilfrid’s Catholic primary, Sheffield, attributed its success to ‘religious conviction’.
The results will reignite the debate on admissions policies. Schools minister Nick Gibb said yesterday that more work had to be done to ensure all schools ‘fulfill their potential’.
Yesterday faith school leaders called on him to learn from their good example. Barbara Jarrett, head teacher of St Wilfrid’s, which ranked third overall in the tables, said: ‘It’s all about shared values. We expect our children to be respectful, care for each other, be committed and hard working. Our values reflect the values of our church.
‘And we encourage children to have a love of learning and a belief in their own ability to do well. Too many people in this country are not prepared to put in the effort to achieve. We don’t want our children to be among them. ‘There is a real crisis in our education system today, we call on the Government to learn lessons from faith schools.’
But critics of faith schools said their growing stranglehold is the result of a selective admissions process which secures more middle-class pupils. Paul Pettinger of campaign group the Accord Coalition, said the schools tended to attract aspirational parents who tend to have high-achieving children. He said: ‘It is because they have control over admissions. They attract more middle-class and aspirational pupils. ‘As a result performance is improved. And it is an upwards spiral because good results attract more aspirational parents and better teachers. ‘Nearby local community schools are undermined.’
Critics also say the schools register high performance because they allow middle class parents to ‘pew jump’ – discovering religion to enhance applications.
Last year the number of faith schools in the top 50 was just under two thirds. Of yesterday’s top 50, the proportion had risen to almost exactly two-thirds – with 33 schools making the grade.
The 1,000 primary schools failing Britain’s children: 11-year-olds leave unable to read or write
One in four 11-year-olds leaves primary school without a proper grasp of the 3Rs, according to detailed Government data released yesterday. The league tables show that 112,600 pupils failed to reach the minimum standard in English and maths.
These children will start their secondary education unable to understand a simple piece of prose, write extended sentences using commas, recite the ten times table or add, subtract, multiply and divide in their heads.
And the shocking results mean more than 1,000 schools face being turned into academies or even closed because, under tough guidelines introduced by the Coalition, they would be judged to have failed their pupils.
The bleak picture was exposed by school-by-school data from 11,500 primaries published by the Department of Education yesterday.
The bad news was compounded by a teacher boycott of the SATs tests used to compile the tables, which left the parents of more than 100,000 pupils unable to assess the standard of their children’s education.
This year’s figures show that 73.5 per cent of 11-year-olds showed they had a grasp of the basics in maths and English at level four, the Government’s target for a typical child of their age. It is a marginal improvement on the 72 per cent of a year earlier, but remains a damning reflection of Labour’s education legacy, which failed to make an impact despite a doubling of spending during their years in power.
Education Secretary Michael Gove, in his recent White Paper, set new rules for failing schools. Under the guidelines, head teachers must ensure at least 60 per cent of 11-year-olds reach the target level in English and maths. Sub-standard schools will be closed and reopened as academies or merged with successful primaries. Those that do not meet the 60 per cent target will get a reprieve only if they can satisfy ‘pupil progression’ measures charting improvement between the ages of seven and 11.
Although the rules will not be effective until next year, the Government is already in discussion with the worst offenders.
The 2010 tables show that at almost 350 schools, more than half of pupils fell short of the expected standards. And just 280 schools ensured that all their pupils finished primary education with a decent grasp of English and maths.
The best-performing primary is Manuden, in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. The most improved was the Pilgrim School, in Rochester, Kent, which has produced the fastest improvement in results in the past three years.
At the bottom of the table is Starks Field Primary in Enfield, North London, where no pupils received an acceptable standard of English or maths.
The tables also showed that half of all children who qualify for free school meals do not leave primary with a grasp of the 3Rs.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the poorly performing schools had been ‘failed’. He said: ‘It is unacceptable that after seven years of primary school these children are not at the standard in English and maths that they need to flourish at secondary school. ‘It’s why we are putting such an emphasis on improving pupils’ reading ability in the first years of primary school, with a focus on phonics.’
But Russell Hobby, of head teachers’ union the NAHT, said: ‘League tables confuse, conceal and disparage school performance. They say nothing about the quality of teaching and downplay the fantastic work of many schools in the most challenging circumstances. League tables paint a hugely misleading picture.’
Sensible suggestion deemed outrageous
Remarks deemed insulting to people from Northern England. It is true that people in the Home Counties (S.E. England) tend to look down on people from “North of Watford” and that is apparently what has caused the fuss. Although just about everybody in the S.E. thinks it, you must not even hint at it in public.
The S.E. is generally prosperous and tends to vote Tory. The North is heavily welfare-dependent and tends to vote Labour.
There was once a lot of industry in the North but incessant strikes and go-slows by the workers destroyed most of it. So many Northerners now sit at home and watch TV while being supported by the taxes of the prosperous S.E. You can imagine what people in the S.E. think of that.
“David Shakespeare, leader of the Conservative group on the Local Government Association (LGA), told colleagues that people from the north may “replace the Romanians in the cherry orchards”.
During an LGA Executive discussion on ways to respond to an expected rise in unemployment in less well off parts of the country, he added that it “may be a good thing” if eastern European economic migrants were replaced by those from the north.
Mr Shakespeare is the leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, where he has served for 29 years, and was awarded an OBE.
His words, during a discussion on whether underprivileged areas would suffer from plans to redistribute business rates, were described as “horrible” by fellow councillors at the meeting, and drew angry criticism from Labour MPs.
Michael Dugher, who represents Barnsley East, wrote to David Cameron to urge him to condemn Mr Shakespeare. The letter said: “Do you appreciate how out of touch, insensitive and insulting these comments are? Doesn’t it just demonstrate that the Tories are still the same old nasty party? “Will you publicly condemn and dissociate yourself from these outrageous remarks?