More than 1,000 NHS patients die in ‘safety incidents’ over just six-month period
More than 165,000 incidents within the NHS caused harm to patients over just six months, figures for England revealed today. Slips, trips and falls accounted for nearly a third of incidents, while errors with medication accounted for one in 10 cases. Incidents relating to treatment and procedures accounted for another 10 per cent.
The data from the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) found there were 547,879 incidents between April 1 and September 30, 2010. Of these 1,304 resulted in death while 3,054 caused serious and permanent harm.
There were 33,310 cases that led to moderate harm and 129,968 cases resulting in minimal harm. The rest of the incidents had the potential to cause harm but were prevented.
The data revealed patients in London were most likely to come to serious harm as a result of an NHS incident, with the strategic health authority reporting 274 deaths and 537 cases involving severe harm.
From 1 April 2010 it became mandatory for NHS trusts in England to report all serious patient safety incidents to the Care Quality Commission. As a result there was a 10 per cent rise in the number of reported incidents.
There was a four per cent rise in the number of patient safety incidents overall.
Lisa Jordan, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: ‘While it is important to maintain perspective as so many people receive excellent care, this rise in the number of incidents is clearly unacceptable and the NHS simply has to improve levels of patient safety as soon as possible.
‘Over 4,000 of these incidents led to severe harm or death and the fact that so many people are affected by such problems is horrific. ‘For the sake of victims and their loved ones, lessons have to be learnt to ensure no one else suffers from the same, often avoidable, errors in the future.’
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: ‘We need to modernise the NHS and put patient safety back at its heart.
‘Just last week we announced that we are increasing the number of ‘never events’ – preventable incidents that should never happen in a high-quality environment and will not be paid for. ‘We are also abolishing unnecessary bureaucracy so frontline professionals can focus on patients, giving patients better information so they can see an organisation’s safety record and strengthening the role of the quality inspector.’
Keep taking English and maths in Britain till you get a good grade
Hundreds of thousands of students who fail to get good GCSE grades in English and maths are to be forced to carry on studying the subjects in the biggest shake-up of the curriculum for decades.
Education Secretary Michael Gove is appalled by official figures to be released today showing that the majority of teenagers fail to get C grades or above in both English and maths.
Sources say Mr Gove plans to accept the recommendations of an independent review which will mean that for about 300,000 pupils a year it will be compulsory to carry on studying the key subjects.
Under the rules, they will be forced to carry on doing so until they retake their exams and achieve a C grade or higher at GCSE level. Those who fail to get a good grade will have to keep on studying English and maths until they leave education at 18.
The review of vocational study, by leading academic Professor Alison Wolf of King’s College London, will today warn that 37 per cent of students achieve neither maths nor English GCSE at grades A* to C when they first take the exam. Of this group, only two per cent go on to achieve both by age 18. Some 12 per cent initially achieve an A* to C grade in their English GCSE, but not maths. About 17 per cent of them, or fewer than one in five, achieves a maths GCSE A* to C by the time they are 18. Seven per cent initially achieve a maths GCSE A* to C but not English. About a quarter – 24 per cent – of this group achieves English GCSE A* to C by 18.
Overall, the percentage of children achieving both maths and English GCSE grades A* to C rises from 44.8 per cent initially to 49 per cent at 18. But some 329,000 did not have maths and English A* to C when they first sat the exam. At age 18, 304,000 still did not.
The report will today blame the ‘shocking figures’ not on young people, but on ‘funding incentives which have deliberately steered institutions, and, therefore, their students, away from qualifications that might stretch young people and towards qualifications that can be passed easily’.
Mr Gove believes the previous government’s measures –aimed at helping boost schools’ league table rankings – encouraged hundreds of thousands of pupils to drop academic subjects in favour of easier options.
Students taking three or more A-levels will almost always have achieved at least a grade C in both maths and English, since this acts as an informal entry requirement for such courses. Conversely, most students on non-A-level, vocational courses will not.
There has been a 3,800 per cent increase in the number of children taking non-academic GCSE equivalents since Labour changed the rules in 2004. These gave non-academic qualifications – including computer skills, sports leadership and certificates of ‘personal effectiveness’ – parity with traditional subjects.
The move helped fuel a damaging collapse in the number of children taking academic courses. ‘No other developed country allows, let alone effectively encourages, its young people to neglect mathematics and their own language in this way,’ the report will add. ‘The UK is effectively unique in not requiring continued mathematics and own-language study for all young people engaged in 16 to 19 pre-tertiary education.’
To encourage schools to teach core subjects Mr Gove has already introduced an English baccalaureate A* to C in five core subjects including English and maths.
Professor Wolf will recommend that students who are under 19 and do not have GCSE A* to C in English and maths ‘should be required, as part of their programme, to pursue a course which either leads directly to these qualifications, or which provide significant progress’. Such requirements should be placed even on students who take up apprenticeships.
A Coalition source said: ‘We have inherited a disastrous system from Labour. Millions of children have been pushed into dead-end courses. ‘We want people to keep doing these GCSEs to get themselves up to a good grade. Of course there are children with special educational needs who may never achieve a C grade or above, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be continuing with these subjects.
Christianity isn’t dying in Britain; it’s being eradicated
It’s official: Britain is no longer a Christian nation. In banning Eunice and Owen Johns, a devout Christian couple, from fostering children, Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson declared that we live in a secular state, and that the Johns’ religious convictions disqualified them from raising citizens of that state.
We’ve outgrown Christianity, the judges professed. Instead, we have graduated to the status of a multicultural nation, blessed by a plurality of faiths.
Ironically, the justices who have pronounced that Britain is no longer Christian did so in a court where witnesses swear on the Bible and invoke God’s help in telling the truth. I do not imagine that these judges leave out the first word in “God Save the Queen” – nor would they shun an invitation to the Royal wedding, which is happening not at a registry office but the centrepiece of official Christendom, Westminster Abbey.
In taking part in these traditions, the judges – and the rest of us – are no different from past generations. For Christianity is not merely a part of life here, a provider of schools, hospitals and orphanages. It is the backbone of our laws, the impetus for the charity, justice and tolerance that have long been characteristic of this country. Its grand principles have inspired citizens to extraordinary actions, such as William Wilberforce’s campaign against slavery, and to ordinary kindnesses, such as reading to hospital patients or delivering meals on wheels.
When David Cameron speaks of our moral duty to our Arab brothers, or shares his vision for the Big Society, he taps not into narrow party allegiance, but into our common Christian heritage.
The Christians of an earlier era may not have known about multiculturalism, or predicted that it would be the signature tune of our times. Yet their faith gave them a moral imperative that demanded respect for others: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Without this moral underpinning, multiculturalism sags into a factionalism of competing demands and conflicting interests. Instead, the Gospel’s commandment inspires the Christian majority to accommodate Jewish, Muslim, atheist and Hindu minorities, without losing sight of the basic principle of mutual respect.
This, indeed, is one of the reasons why non-Christian believers are so passionate in wanting to protect Christianity as a presence in public life. Jews, like Muslims, recognise that while Christians – and especially Anglicans – may enjoy a special status, their faith embraces all people as made, and loved, by God. The Act of Succession, which bans us Catholics from the throne, makes me angry; but like all members of a religious minority, I feel safer in a culture that cherishes spiritual values than in one that rubbishes them.
So it is not just Christians that the ruling in the Johns case will alarm and unsettle. As the judges wagged their fingers about the secularist principles that, they claim, define the nation (and which “ought to be, but seemingly are not, well understood”), they were not describing the status quo: a strong majority of Britons still consider themselves to be Christian. Instead, they were making clear their desire to steer this country in a direction of their own choosing – one that matches the views of an increasingly strident group that is determined to scrub Christianity from public life.
Its efforts to push the majority faith underground are evident everywhere, from our bus stops to our workplaces. The British Humanist Association is campaigning to discourage “cultural Christians” from identifying themselves as believers in the forthcoming census. Jo Johnson, a Tory MP, wants to drop the prayer that traditionally opens Parliamentary sessions. Companies like BA forbid their Christian staff from wearing crosses to work. Schools and offices present Christian holidays as secular breaks. And now devout Christians are to be prevented from becoming foster parents.
According to our learned judges, “the aphorism that ‘Christianity is part of the common law of England’ is now mere rhetoric”. How excruciatingly unjust.