NHS neglect that left my father calling for help even as he died: OAP ripped emergency button off hospital wall in desperate attempt to call for help
The daughter of a cancer sufferer who died as he desperately tried to call nurses for help has revealed her two-year battle to uncover the neglect which led to his death. Janet Treharne Oakley described how the hospital ‘put up a wall’ to stop her finding out what happened to her 87-year-old father, Graham Silkstone.
She says a consultancy firm was even hired, at taxpayers’ expense, to block her requests for information.
Her father, a retired civil servant who had worked overseas for the Ministry of Defence, was found on the floor having ripped the emergency button off the wall as he tried to call staff who had ignored him all night.
Mr Silkstone was in the final stages of terminal cancer of the oesophagus, yet nurses had refused to check his pulse, breathing or give him anything to eat or drink for more than 12 hours.
Despite a scathing report into his death by the health ombudsman, his family received just £250 in compensation.
Mrs Treharne Oakley says she was viewed as a nuisance by Brecon War Memorial Hospital, in Merthyr, South Wales, for wanting to know the truth about her father’s death in November 2008.
She said staff felt there was ‘no need for further apologies’. According to internal emails she uncovered, managers were reluctant to give her too much information in case it gave her ‘something else to complain about’.
Mr Silkstone died 25 minutes after he was found on the floor by his bed. Over the next two years, Mrs Treharne Oakley made repeated attempts to find out about his care but was rebuffed.
She tried to obtain his medical records – normally available for a fee of up to £50 – but was told the trust was not obliged to release them. Last night, the 61-year-old said it took ‘every ounce of my strength’ to force the hospital to disclose the details.
Speaking from her home in Monmouthshire, South Wales, she said: ‘I felt very strongly that my father had been badly let down in the care he had received and that the bosses were covering up this negligence by continually refusing to give me answers. ‘And throughout this, I was still grieving. I was missing my father so terribly and it was all so dreadfully distressing.’
Gradually, through Freedom of Information requests and an investigation by the Ombudsman for Wales, she was able to piece together the details. It emerged that even though her father had been admitted to the ward vomiting blood, nurses had not checked his breathing.
She also discovered that the hospital had hired consultancy firm Public Partners, at £300 a time, to try to block her investigation. ‘At every instance, they attempted to put up a wall to prevent me from finding out how my poor father died,’ she said. ‘He was a cancer patient and he was dying, I know that. But he deserved to have been treated with dignity.’
The day before he died, Mr Silkstone, a rugby fan who served briefly in the Army in the Second World War before being ruled out through sickness, had booked his seat in the hospital’s lounge to watch Wales play. ‘Yet within 24 hours he was dying, alone and neglected and no one was prepared to take responsibility or investigate how it happened,’ his daughter said.
Mrs Treharne Oakley, a retired magazine editor, said shortly after her father’s death a nurse callously picked up his arm and let it flop back down, saying: ‘See, you don’t need to be frightened of dead bodies.’ ‘I was so upset,’ she said. ‘I’d never met this nurse before. I simply told her I wanted to be alone with my father but she seemed completely insensitive.’
Following a scathing 30-page report by the ombudsman, the daughter was handed a cheque for £250 compensation. She described it as a ‘pathetic gesture – literally insult to injury’.
Mrs Treharne Oakley is now trying to amend the laws on medical records so patients’ loved ones can automatically be entitled to see them after their death. She said: ‘Even now I can’t be sure, but it is clear from the ombudsman’s findings that he did not receive the care he should have done and he believes this may well have contributed to his death.’
Earlier this week a highly critical report by the Health Service Ombudsman exposed ten cases of neglect of the elderly, including examples of patients being discharged in soiled clothes held up with paper clips.
Want to get your child into a decent British school? Prepare for war
What the horror of government schools leads to
Between now and the first week of March, there will be much dodging and much gloating at the school gates. The great 11-plus showdown is entering its denouement.
From today, letters go out from grammar and private schools to say whose progeny has won the race for the most prestigious places. There’s no doubt that in the multiple choice of life, the first big test for many comes if their parents decide to try to push them into a selective school at the age of 11.
This year, it is more brutal than ever. Recession has driven more middle-class parents towards the few remaining grammar schools, and those willing to pay want to pay only for the best. Anywhere there are pockets of middle-class parents with even a nod to Tiger Mother-ish tendencies becomes a bloody battlefield.
Military strategies include coaching, styling, the setting up of fake hobbies, playing obscure musical instruments, rehearsing interview techniques and even taking fake exams in big halls.
Many schools now boast a ten-to-one ratio of applicants to places. And the more competitive the entry process, the ‘cockier the attitude of the school’, says an Essex mother, who bemoans the fact that some have started asking pretentious ‘Oxbridge-type questions’ of would-be pupils.
She recalls her ten-year-old daughter’s experience at the hands of ‘two men in tweedy jackets acting like they were in Dead Poets’ Society, with their feet up on the desk’, asking her whether she would rather live on a hill or in a valley, then staring out of the window while she struggled to reply.
Schools would counter that in an age of coaching, only a really left-field question can discover a child’s true self. That’s just what worries the parents.
‘My son Alex was asked which three people he’d have at his fantasy dinner party,’ says Liz Leonard, a Wandsworth mother. ‘By the time he told me he’d answered [teenage pop star] Justin Bieber and someone who plays for Arsenal, I’d given up hope. I’d given him three practice interviews myself, but you can’t prepare for everything.’
The tortuous process kicks off with registration, for which private schools collect an average fee of about £100. (Bear in mind most parents will register for at least four schools.)
‘The worst application form we got was four sides of A4, about three of which were for Frank’s “achievements”. I’m not sure I could fill that, and I’m a grown-up,’ says one Cambridge parent.
‘We ended up exaggerating hideously. A passing interest in stars had to be turned into a passion for astronomy, meaning we had to buy books, a telescope and talk about it all the time before the interview.’
Needless to say, many middle-class parents are making their children’s lives hell over the whole thing. By now, coaching will have been under way for months, and in some cases years. ‘Two years of Saturday mornings’ seems to be an 11-plus catchphrase. Even some expensive private preparatory schools now advise parents to hire home tutors.
At state primaries it is now accepted wisdom that all but the genius children of teachers need coaching to get into a grammar or a competitive private school. And even the coaches are selective — they’ll take on only the most promising pupils so they can claim a 100 per cent success rate, the Cambridge mother says. ‘We had a lovely guy,’ she adds. ‘But we are talking about 20 sessions of maths at £40 a pop.’
Not that many parents admit to coaching. It’s become common practice at the school gates to deny it, let alone share recommendations.
The exams themselves are arduous. Each school has four papers: maths, English, verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning — each of about an hour’s duration. So a ten-year-old whose parents have applied to four private schools might face 16 hours of exams.
They won’t necessarily be that formulaic, either — canny schools have started commissioning their own papers. But you can prepare for the scary seating arrangements. ‘We paid £65 to have a practice exam in a hall with other children so that Alex wouldn’t feel daunted by the sight of 250 rival candidates sitting in alphabetic rows and being barked at with a megaphone,’ says Liz Leonard.
‘Some schools make a real effort, assigning elder children to look after young ones, and giving them doughnuts and things. But others are just intimidating,’ adds another parent. ‘At one school, my daughter vomited with nerves and cried when she came out because she thought she’d let us down. I felt so guilty.’
Then another harsh moment — the call to interview. Or, worse, no call. ‘One mother whose son didn’t get an interview at her first-choice school hasn’t dropped him off at his primary since,’ says a fellow parent. ‘Her husband has to. She can’t face it.’
Many schools interview the parents, too, meaning they have to decide not just what the child should wear, but what they’re going to wear. ‘We put Alex in his school uniform so he could wear his Form Captain badge,’ says one mother. ‘They’re not going to know it’s not current.’
But beware: the interviewers can be ruthless. ‘Alex was asked what his parents did, and which school did he really want to go to,’ the mother adds. ‘They always ask that when the parents are out of earshot.’
This is where those niche interests come into their own. If your offspring is not a maths whizz, they’d better be a hotshot at the tuba. And remember, no school with an organ will turn down a child who can play one.
Former Government Inspector of Schools Chris Woodhead says: ‘It’s parents who create the stress. And the cause of it is unrealistic expectations. ‘It is the most difficult thing to be realistic about your own child’s ability, personality and talents, but you don’t want them to scrape in somewhere where they won’t be happy.’
The coaching craze, he adds, ‘in the case of grammar schools, is the inevitable consequence of demand exceeding supply. It would be solved by David Cameron discovering his Conservative convictions and creating some more’.
But on a positive note, human nature has a delightful habit of seeing the upside of things unlikely to work out. Says Liz Leonard of the school where her son name-dropped Justin Bieber as his ideal dinner party guest: ‘I don’t want him to go there anyway. The other parents I met were far too pushy.’
Georgy Porgy is shameless
The original moonbat has learned SOME caution. He starts out with a big caveat about the relationship between climate and weather. But he then goes on to say exactly what I and other skeptics said when drought was the Warmist scare du jour. He has discovered that warming should produce MORE rain and snow. How odd that he ignored that for so long! Laws of physics do backflips according to how convenient their conclusions are, apparently:
One paper, by Seung-Ki Min and others, shows that rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have caused an intensification of heavy rainfall events over some two-thirds of the weather stations on land in the northern hemisphere. The climate models appear to have underestimated the contribution of global warming on extreme rainfall: it’s worse than we thought it would be.
None of this should be surprising. As Richard Allan points out, also in Nature, the warmer the atmosphere is, the more water vapour it can carry. There’s even a formula which quantifies this: 6-7% more moisture in the air for every degree of warming near the Earth’s surface. But both models and observations also show changes in the distribution of rainfall, with moisture concentrating in some parts of the world and fleeing from others: climate change is likely to produce both more floods and more droughts.
End this human rights insanity: British PM’s fury as judges rule paedophiles and rapists should have chance to get off sex offenders’ register
David Cameron declared war on unelected judges yesterday after they put the human rights of paedophiles and rapists before public safety. The Prime Minister said he was ‘appalled’ that Britain’s 50,000 sex offenders can appeal against being kept on a police register for life.
In a highly-charged intervention, Mr Cameron called for an overhaul of the ‘completely offensive’ rulings from the European Court of Human Rights which have influenced our own judges. ‘It’s about time we started making sure decisions are made in this Parliament rather than in the courts,’ Mr Cameron said.
And he announced plans to ensure MPs make laws rather than the judiciary. He told MPs that a commission to draw up a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act will be set up ‘imminently’.
Home Secretary Theresa May called for a return ‘to sanity’ and pledged to do the ‘minimum possible’ to comply with the judges’ demands to protect the rights of paedophiles. She said: ‘These are rights, of course, that these offenders have taken away from their victims in the cruellest and most degrading manner. It places the rights of sex offenders above the right of the public to be protected from the risk of reoffending.’
Mr Cameron’s outburst puts him on a collision course with Justice Secretary Ken Clarke and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. But if he fails to deliver he will further enrage Tory MPs, who recently voted to reject a European Court ruling that prisoners should have the right to vote.
He spoke out after the Supreme Court, which is England’s highest court, ruled that rapists and paedophiles must have the right to be removed from the national sex offenders register if they can prove they are no longer a threat to children. It was relying on previous European Court rulings which enshrine the human right to privacy. It will mean offenders – such as former pop impresario Jonathan King, jailed for seven years for sexually abusing teenage boys – get the right to appeal against being on the register 15 years after their release from prison.
The judges said keeping serious offenders on the register for life was ‘disproportionate’ and a breach of their right to a private and family life.
The Prime Minister said it was ‘completely offensive’ to ‘have, once again, a ruling by a court that seems to fly completely in the face of common sense.’ He added: ‘I am appalled by the Supreme Court ruling.’
In response to the ruling, the Home Secretary announced new restrictions on convicted molesters who are released from prison to close a series of staggering loopholes left by Labour. Currently sex offenders on the lowest danger level simply have to attend a police station once a year, tell the police their name, date of birth and National Insurance Number and alert them to changes in their address.
In future paedophiles and rapists will have to alert the authorities whenever they are living in a house with anyone under 18. They must report to the police when they travel abroad, even for one day. Currently they can leave the country for up to three days with no restrictions.
Homeless sex offenders who claim they have ‘no fixed abode’ will have to tell the police every week where they are staying.
Mrs May also aims to close the loophole that means sex offenders can avoid staying on the register if they change their name by deed poll. Such a Bill, if implemented, would contain a series of non-negotiable declarations about the rights of the individual accompanied by their responsibilities. The idea would be to deter vexatious claims from serial litigants or criminals attempting to exploit human rights laws for their own personal profit.
But it remains unclear when the commission Mr Cameron intends to set up will report and who will head it. Senior government officials say the panel, chaired by an independent figure, will be asked to redraw the balance of power between Parliament and the courts, both in Europe and the UK.
Senior Tories conceded that dramatic change may have to wait for four years because of Liberal Democrat support for the Human Rights Act. But they pledged to put ‘more Conservative’ plans to crush the courts at the heart of the next Tory election manifesto in 2015.
Victims groups reacted with fury to the Supreme Court ruling. Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: ‘Adults who sexually abuse children should stay on the offenders’ register for life as we can never be sure their behaviour will change.’
Lyn Costello, from Mothers Against Murder And Aggression, said: ‘I wonder what’s next? Are we going to say it’s against their human rights to lock them up at all? We’re playing with people’s lives.’
At last, a victory for the rights of the majority: Judges reject appeal by Muslims who shouted abuse at returning British soldiers
Judges yesterday staunchly defended the ‘rights of the majority’ as they threw out an appeal by a group of Muslims against their conviction for hurling hate-filled abuse at soldiers.
The High Court ruled that the men were not acting within their human rights when they heckled and jeered members of the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment as they marched through Luton after returning from Afghanistan.
The anti-war protesters caused outrage when they called the troops – who had previously served in Iraq – rapists, murderers and baby killers. They also waved placards with slogans including ‘Butchers of Basra’ and ‘cowards, killers, extremists’.
Yesterday’s judgment was hailed as a ‘victory for common sense’. Politicians and campaigners believe the courts have sometimes helped promote minority rights and sensibilities over those of the majority of the British people.
After the Luton protest, five Muslim men were convicted of using threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to cause harassment, alarm of distress.
They appealed against their convictions at the High Court, arguing that they were legitimately exercising their rights to freedom of expression and to protest under European human rights laws. But in their ruling two judges said the men’s actions had gone well beyond ‘legitimate expressions of protest’.
Tellingly, they added that ‘the focus on minority rights should not result in overlooking the rights of the majority’.
Lord Justice Gross said: ‘There was all the difference in the world between expressing the view that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were illegal or immoral and that British forces should not be engaged in them and the abusive and insulting chants of the appellants. To attend a parade of this nature and to shout that this country’s soldiers were “murderers”, “baby killers”, “rapists all of you” who would or should “burn in hell” gave rise to a very clear threat to public order.’
He said the men were fortunate there had been no serious outbreak of violence and attributed their safety to ‘skilful policing’.
Lord Justice Gross added that freedom of expression was not an unqualified right and ‘the justification for invoking the criminal law is the threat to public order’. In striking ‘the right balance when determining whether speech is “threatening, abusive or insulting”, the focus on minority rights should not result in overlooking the rights of the majority’, he added.
Mr Justice Davis agreed, saying the right to exercise freedom of expression – under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights – ‘necessarily carries with it duties and responsibilities’. He added: ‘These were not just generalised statements of views, vigorously expressed, on the morality of the war but were personally abusive and potentially defamatory of those soldiers. ‘That the soldiers themselves were, as it happened, broad shouldered enough not to care one jot does not matter.’
Although the battalion is currently based in Cyprus, Bedfordshire is one of their main recruiting areas.
Trouble flared on March 10, 2009, when the 200 members of the battalion – who had lost 12 men during two tours of Iraq and one in Afghanistan – marched through Luton to a meeting with their colonel-in-chief, the Duke of Gloucester.
There were heated exchanges between members of the public who had turned out to cheer on the soldiers and the anti-war contingent, who had been penned into a small area for their safety.
Five protesters – Jalal Ahmed, 22, Munim Abdul, 29, Yousaf Bashir, 30, Shajjadar Choudhury, 32, and Ziaur Rahman, 33, all from Luton – were later found guilty at the town’s magistrates court of public order offences. Each received a two-year conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £500 costs.
British motoring commentators get death threats after jabs at Wales
“If you thought you were going to make it through a week without hearing about how the wily hosts of Top Gear ruffled someone’s feathers, think again. According to WhatsOnTv, James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond have begun receiving death threats after making disparaging comments about Wales in a recent program.
The BBC program hosts reportedly remarked that fast cars should be test-driven on Welsh roads because no one wants to live there.
That latest bit of bashing was apparently the last straw. The trio has taken turns giving the Welsh a hard time in the past, with May calling their language “baffling and dangerous” among other offenses.
The death threats are only the latest in a series of cultural mishaps that have befallen the show. Last year, Top Gear riled Muslims by donning the traditional headwear of women, and it irked Christians by portraying a baby Stig in the traditional role of the newborn Jesus. Most recently, the show invoked the ire of the Mexican ambassador to the UK by unleashing a rash of stereotypes about his countrymen.
These guys are just funsters being deliberately provocative. But humor is dangerous these days. Whining is now praised — where once it was despised. It was particularly despised in Britain as a matter of fact. But the Left have eroded the national character with THEIR constant moans about “racism’ etc.