No improvement to the NHS in last 10 years — as a fifth of patients say they are not treated with dignity
Despite endless Government promises to end the neglect of the elderly on wards, the situation has not improved in a decade, a damning report reveals.
Almost a fifth of patients felt they were not treated with dignity or respect by doctors or nurses. A further one in five said they were not given any help with their meals, and one in six had to wait more than five minutes for help after pressing their emergency call button.
These figures have not changed since 2002 when the Care Quality Commission watchdog carried out a similar survey.
The latest survey of 66,000 patients will add to concerns that the needs of the elderly are routinely ignored by hospital staff. The extent of this neglect was highlighted in a report by the Health Service Ombudsman this year. It exposed shocking cases of poor treatment of the elderly, including one cancer patient who was allowed to become so dehydrated that he could not even call for help.
According to the CQC report, 18 per cent of patients said they were only treated with dignity ‘sometimes’, while three per cent said they were ‘never’ treated with dignity.
Elizabeth Cavanagh, who survived the Blitz, died in agony as staff at an NHS hospital ‘ignored’ her cries for help. Her family would find the 88-year-old grandmother from East London with her alarm buzzer left out of reach and food placed in front of her which staff did not help her to eat.
Mrs Cavanagh was admitted to Queen’s Hospital in Romford, Essex, with heart failure in November 2009. Her daughter Patsy Dowsett said requests for painkillers were refused and her mother developed bedsores which went undetected for days. Mrs Dowsett said: ‘She was let down by the NHS when she needed them the most.’
A Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust spokesman said ‘new initiatives’ had been introduced to avoid similar mistreatment.
More than a third – 36 per cent – said they were not always offered help with their meals. This included 18 per cent who said they were never given help.
Katherine Murphy of the Patients’ Association said: ‘It is a sad indictment of how we treat the most vulnerable people. ‘I am deeply concerned about the meals. Often it just requires a patient’s tray being pushed a little closer so they can reach it. ‘Nobody looks to see if these patients are eating their meals or reports the fact they have not eaten to a senior member of staff. ‘Dignity is so important. The CQC regulator needs to be asking what is going to be done to improve the situation. Very little appears to have changed.’
In 2006 the Audit Commission, the Healthcare Commission and the Commission for Social Care Inspection warned that hospitals and care homes were not treating the elderly with respect and dignity.
In response, Liam Byrne, then Care Services Minister, promised to transform the situation.
The Daily Mail vigorously campaigns for Dignity for the Elderly. At the end of last year, with the help of our generous readers, we were able to raise £100,000 to help the Patients’ Association man a helpline to assist with the rising number of complaints.
Dozens of hospitals should stop providing children’s services because current staffing levels are dangerously low, claim paediatricians.
They say that inexperienced trainees are left to run wards full of sick children.
A report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says children in the UK have ‘poor outcomes’ compared with other countries and an ‘extensive redesign’ of their health care is needed. ‘There are simply too few paediatric doctors to staff all of our rotas to safe and sustainable levels,’ say the report’s authors Dr David Shortland and Dr Justin Thacker.
How nearly HALF of all patients are still in mixed-sex wards
Almost half of hospitals are still treating patients in mixed sex wards. In the last month alone, nearly 5,500 people shared accommodation with the opposite sex with nothing more than a curtain separating beds.
The Government has promised to end the scandal, and from this month hospitals will be fined £250 every time a patient is made to sleep on a mixed sex ward.
But despite the impending threat, figures from the Department of Health show that 70 out of 146 trusts reported ‘sleeping breaches’ – nights when a patient stayed overnight in shared accommodation – at some point during March.
From this month hospitals will be fined £250 for every breach, as part of tough new measures announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley last year.
The Daily Mail has long campaigned against the scandal of patients being forced to share wards with the opposite sex.It is 15 years since Tony Blair first called for the abolition of mixed wards in 1996, saying it should not be ‘beyond the collective wit’ of ministers to achieve.
The pledge to scrap them was also contained in Labour’s 2001 manifesto, but eventually Labour concluded that it would be too expensive to get rid of them all.
When the Coalition came to power last year it promised to scrap mixed accommodation in all but intensive care and A&E wards. Mr Lansley said: ‘Labour covered up the scandal of mixed sex accommodation. We are sorting it out. We exposed the problem by publishing this data and we are introducing fines from this month to help prevent breaches in the future.’
But Labour said standards where falling elsewhere in the NHS. Shadow health secretary John Healey said: ‘David Cameron should stop his wasteful reorganisation of the NHS and reinstate Labour’s guarantees on waiting times before our health service slips back any further.’
An Easter victory as Christian electrician wins battle to display cross in his van
Christian electrician Colin Atkinson has won his fight to display a cross in his van following a nationwide outcry. The dramatic climbdown by Wakefield District Housing came after senior church figures were joined by Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders in condemning his employers.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey had described the 64-year-old grandfather’s plight as ‘scandalous’ and Housing and Planning Minister Grant Shapps said WDH’s action was ‘wrong’. Last night Lord Carey said: ‘I’m so glad. All that was needed was a little bit of compassion and understanding. Where there is a bit of common sense we can find a resolution.’
WDH caved in and agreed to let Mr Atkinson display his cross in an effort to end the embarrassing row. The U-turn came at a ‘confidential and unminuted’ meeting between Mr Atkinson, his Unite union rep Terry Cuncliffe, WHD executive director of people Gillian Pickersgill and a senior manager at the organisation’s headquarters in Castleford, West Yorkshire, on Wednesday.
During the hour-long meeting WDH managers put a series of proposals to Mr Atkinson – all of which would allow him publicly to display the cross.
Mr Atkinson has agreed with managers not to reveal the details of the compromise agreement. But he had maintained all along his right to display the cross publicly was ‘non-negotiable’. He has been supported throughout his 18-month battle to keep his cross by Mr Cuncliffe.
Yesterday Mr Cuncliffe told the Mail: ‘The issue is about Colin’s ability to demonstrate his faith. ‘And any proposals to resolve this issue must allow Colin to display his faith in the way he is comfortable. ‘I believe the situation is up for resolution. ‘It is now time to calm things down and apply some common sense.’
He added: ‘This was a private and confidential meeting. Minutes were not taken so there could be a frank exchange of views between parties. ‘Both parties put forward suggestions to provide solutions and we worked jointly towards reaching a resolution.’ Mr Atkinson is expected formally to agree to WDH’s plan that will allow him to display his cross next week.
He told the Mail: ‘I just want this all over so I can get back to work and provide for my wife and family. ‘This is important. ‘I did not ask for this fight but I have been forced to join it. ‘I have every right to manifest my faith. That is all I have done. ‘I have not bashed anybody with my Bible. I simply want to be able to demonstrate my faith.’
Yesterday WDH declined to comment on the climb-down. Lord Carey thanked the Mail for championing Christians’ right to worship. He said: ‘I am grateful to the Daily Mail for highlighting this case. Christians in this country are under pressure.’
Former Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe, a devout Christian, added: ‘At last, a victory for common sense and tolerance. It is hugely symbolic that this has come so close to Good Friday.’
Mr Atkinson faced the sack after he refused to take the small palm cross off the dashboard of his company vehicle. WDH told him it was ‘unacceptable’ to display the 8in symbol of his Christian faith in the van for fear of upsetting ‘diverse’ tenants in the organisation’s 31,000 homes.
However, a Muslim worker is allowed to display a Koranic verse in the car she uses for work and staff are allowed to wear specially made company burkas. The obvious injustice led WDH to be branded ‘anti-Christian’ as the dispute sparked anger across the country.
Mr Atkinson has also been supported by Muslim, Hindu and Sikh leaders. The electrician from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, is married to Geraldine, 61. They have five children from previous marriages and three grandchildren.
His ordeal began after bosses received an anonymous letter claiming tenants may be offended by the cross in the van. He refused to remove it and was accused of rejecting a ‘reasonable’ management complaint. Mr Atkinson and his union rep argued there was nothing in company rules prohibiting the cross.
Hindu and Sikh colleagues appeared as witnesses in his defence. WDH promotes its inclusive policies and allows employees to wear religious symbols – including burkas – at work. But it changed company policy on Christmas Eve last year to ban all personal effects in its vehicles.
In January Mr Atkinson was reported for continuing to display the cross and last week WDH concluded he had breached company rules. On Monday he was thrown out of his workplace and told he had violated his contract by revealing his ordeal.
Mr Atkinson, who is currently on ‘gardening leave’, expects to return to work on Tuesday – and display his cross in public.
Dubious claim: Women to sue hotel that ‘banned them because they’re gay’
A guesthouse owner is being sued by a lesbian couple who claim he turned them away for being gay. But the manager of a hotel in Brighton insists he had no qualms about their sexuality and only refused the two women a room because they were being ‘loud and abusive’.
Now Nasser Dean, 52, fears his guesthouse will be dragged into a high-profile political row by the gay rights movement, after civil rights group Liberty declared it was backing the couple in their legal action.
Rebecca Nash, 22, and Hope Stubbings, 19, of Andover, Hampshire, say they phoned up and booked a double room at the Brunswick Square Hotel. But when they arrived, they claim the manager told them no rooms were available and that the hotel only accepted straight couples and families. They were then ushered out of the hotel by the manager who allegedly became increasingly aggressive towards them, according to Liberty, which is funding their legal battle.
It is the latest in a string of cases of gay people being turned away from hotels. But unlike some others, in which Christian owners have refused gay people a room on principled grounds, Mr Dean says he has nothing against homosexual guests.
He said: ‘I never ask if my guests are gay, it’s none of my business. If I had a problem with it, I wouldn’t have come to Brighton [known as the gay capital of Britain] or stayed in business here for 22 years. ‘I have never had trouble like this before. It is very upsetting. The only time we send people away is if they are loud or hooligans. ‘I run a quiet hotel and these girls were not quiet, so I did not want them disturbing other guests.’
He claims the women never actually made a booking, but had merely phoned to inquire if a room was available before showing up a couple of hours later.
However, a different story is told by the women, both office workers. A Liberty spokesman said: ‘When they arrived, they were told by the manager that no rooms were available and that the hotel only accepted “couples and families”. ‘Miss Nash and Ms Stubbings explained that they were in fact a couple, and had purposely booked a double room. But the manager replied: “No two boys, no two girls. We don’t have any rooms”.
‘Despite the couple’s protests, the manager became increasingly aggressive, raising his voice and ushering them out of the hotel. They told him they had nowhere else to stay, but he threatened to call police before shouting: “I don’t accept rejects in my hotel”.’
Liberty claims the women were unable to find other accommodation and had to go home, losing out on their weekend away in October. Liberty is bringing proceedings against the hotel on the couple’s behalf on the grounds they were discriminated against contrary to the Equality Act 2010. Legal director James Welch said: ‘Laws prohibiting hotels and guesthouses from discriminating against gay men and lesbians have been in place for four years but clearly the message isn’t getting through.’
Anti-Semitism as Thick as a London Fog
Anti-Semitism reached a new low in London earlier this month as the Hamas-affiliated International Solidarity Movement (ISM) successfully forced Israeli-owned AHAVA to close its London shop. For almost two years, the Israeli-based cosmetics company, a manufacturer of Dead Sea mineral skin-care products sold worldwide, has been targeted by street protests and in-store disruptive actions by the ISM and related groups committed to destroying the state of Israel.
The ISM actions against AHAVA were part of the ISM’s broader anti-Israel activities. These have included demands for international sanctions against Israel, sponsorship of worldwide Israeli divestment campaigns, and orchestrated boycotts of Israeli products, academics and events. The ISM has advanced the false narrative of Israel as a Nazi-like apartheid state and mendaciously equated the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust with the plight of the Arab-Palestinians today. Like its partners-in-crime Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the ISM does not support the peace process and endeavors to eliminate Israel. Thus, the Israeli cosmetics company has been yet another political target as part of the ISM strategy to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State using false accusations of “illegal” activities.
Last fall on two occasions, ISM members carried a concrete block into AHAVA’s London shop, blocked the store entrance, and disrupted business for nearly seven hours. ISM operatives refused to leave and were later charged with trespassing and disobeying a police officer. In court, ISM defense attorneys denied that AHAVA’s business had been damaged or any employees and customers intimidated. Participating ISM members justified their criminal actions by claiming that AHAVA operates in “illegal Israeli settlements” and thereby engages in “illegal business activities.”
This tactic of disruptive actions against private individuals and businesses in retaliation for Israel’s foreign and domestic policies has been widely used to suppress Israeli research and punish Israeli academics. Despite its organizational name, the ISM focuses only on what it calls “Israeli apartheid in Palestine,” solely targeting Israeli Jews for fictitious atrocities and ignoring widespread global human rights abuses, including summary executions in Communist China, government-sanctioned enslavement in North Korea and Saudi Arabia, and the chemical genocide of the Kurds committed by the Turkish government.
In 2009, ISM members caused damages totalling nearly $300,000 when they ransacked an arms factory in Moulsecoomb, Brighton, to protest the alleged manufacture of arms for the Israeli air force in Gaza. They were later acquitted after arguing that their activities were legally justified given Israel’s war crimes. The presiding judge, George Bathurst-Norman, who was later sanctioned by the Lord Chief Justice, injected his political bias into the court proceedings with another lie by referring to Gaza as a “giant prison camp.”
This statement, besides being grounds for disbarment, was followed by even more outrageous comments as Bathurst-Norman disparaged U.S. support of Israel, spuriously calling it evidence of complicity with Israel’s actions. The judge also said Gazans suffered “Hell on Earth,” as he referred to Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s defensive war in 2005 after over 10,000 rockets from Gaza sent Israeli civilians running for their lives to bomb shelters. Not surprisingly, given the judge’s attitudes, all five defendants who damaged the arms factory were acquitted. An appeal is unlikely under English law.
In the AHAVA matter, the Covent Garden store has been an ISM target for years. Two times in 2009, and again in the fall of 2010, the store was forced to close after demonstrators chained themselves to a concrete block inside the store. English courts, again, seem determined to set ISM protestors free. The first trial was dismissed after witnesses failed to show up. A second trial on subsequent trespasses is still in the works with a verdict expected this month.
The inherent anti-Semitism in singling out an Israeli shop for alleged human rights violations was lost on neighboring shopkeepers who appealed to the local landlord not to renew AHAVA’s lease. Instead of condemning the protestors’ actions as a public nuisance and an obstruction to normal business activities, they complained about AHAVA “bringing the street down.” They failed to confront the protestors and allowed a lawful business to be chased out of the area by people opposed to Israel’s very existence.
Of course, all sense of reality about Israel is typically barred whenever the narrative against the Jewish state springs up. Israel is not a soi-disant “apartheid” entity as it is erroneously portrayed, but a democracy with a plurality of ethnic groups and religions living side-by-side and enjoying equal rights.
Contrast this to Gaza, in which homosexuals and non-Muslims are persecuted and unable to openly declare their sexual orientation or freely practice their religions. Arab-Palestinian homosexuals escape the threat of death in Gaza by making their way to sanctuary in Tel Aviv. Whereas churches have been destroyed, Christians have been murdered, and acid-throwing has forced the veiling of Christian women in Gaza, Christian holy sites, as well as the holy sites of all religions, are protected in Israel, as are all religious practices. Women and non-Jews enjoy the same rights of Jewish Israelis and may even serve in the Knesset. Unlike Gaza, no gender segregation exists, nor any requirement to follow the Islamic shariah. Fully 20% of Israel’s population is Israeli Arabs who enjoy the same rights as Israeli Jews.
As the country with the most freedom and democracy in the Middle East, Israel is also the most maligned country in the world. There is not and never has been a system of apartheid in the Jewish state. The true apartheid by religion, sex, and sexual orientation exists in the Arab-Palestinian territories and throughout the Muslim world. Sadly, it is opposition to Israel because it is a Jewish state — the only one in the world — that underlies the phenomenon of continued opposition and hatred. By allowing anti-Israeli terrorist-affiliated groups to dictate which shops will be permitted on a London street, appeasement has reached a new low and London falls further down the slippery slope toward Islamization.
Let the market decide what British universities charge
The Coalition’s university funding policy is turning into an entirely predictable shambles. It was right to raise the level of tuition fees, both to shift the cost of university education from the taxpayer to the students who will reap the economic benefit, and to encourage a genuinely competitive market in higher education. However, by imposing a cap of £9,000, that market has been badly distorted.
Initially, ministers were insistent that universities would charge the maximum only in “exceptional circumstances”. To no one’s great surprise – other, it seems, than the minister responsible, Vince Cable – the overwhelming majority are charging the maximum fee.
This is already being described as the Stella Artois route: even our less illustrious academic establishments want to be seen as “reassuringly expensive”. Indeed, Graham Henderson, vice-chancellor of Teesside University in Middlesbrough, made no bones about it in this newspaper yesterday, when explaining why his institution wanted to charge £8,500 a year, almost as much as Oxford, Cambridge or Imperial College: “Our students are checking that we are not charging the bottom of the spectrum, because they don’t want to be seen as second-rate.”
The result is not just sky-high fees all round, but a significant shortfall in the higher education budget. The Government will have to advance more money than expected in the form of student loans, leaving less to fund university places: it is estimated that up to 36,000 will be lost as a consequence.
While this newspaper has long argued that too many youngsters are being shoved through the university system, the rationing of places should be based squarely on academic ability, not on a cash shortage caused by an ill-designed funding mechanism. Once again, a sensible Tory policy has been fatally compromised by the necessity to pander to the Liberal Democrats – a common theme in so many of the Coalition’s reforms.
What can be done? One solution would be to remove the £9,000 cap, and allow a true market to develop. Our best universities – which are world-beaters – would be able to charge significantly more, channelling much of the surplus into bursaries for poorer students, while the less distinguished would have to charge significantly less, or fail to fill their places.
The more innovative could also start to market two-year courses – as the [private] University of Buckingham already does – that would offer an attractive lower-cost option.
Mr Cable seems to spend much of his time these days perfecting his role as the Coalition’s licensed dissident. It is a pity that he does not spend longer ensuring that the policies for which he is responsible are fit for purpose.
The Left-wing librarian who won’t let my children read Tintin
A window on the past that must be closed
“I noticed they had dozens of Asterix books but only a handful of elderly, dog-eared Tintins. “Got any more Tintin books?” I asked the nice librarian. “Well,” she replied in a conspiratorial whisper. “I did try ordering some, but was told by my superior that I wasn’t allowed to.”
“Why not?” I queried. “Because they weren’t politically correct,” she replied. Just to be sure, I said to her: “So they actually used those words, ‘not politically correct’, did they?” “As far as I can remember, yes,” she said. Her hushed tone indicated that she was terrified of a colleague over-hearing and no doubt reporting her to the relevant authorities and getting her dismissed.
So I went home and looked out a collectors’ edition of the 1946 full-colour album version of Tintin in the Congo which I bought when it was published in English a few years ago but had never opened.
Now I’ve read the book and there’s no doubt the stereotyping is appalling to modern eyes. The crudely exaggerated physiognomy of the Africans in the illustrations, and the characterisation of natives of Congo as unintelligent and lazy – no author would get away with this kind of thing today, or would want to.
Tintin in the Congo all looks extremely old-fashioned. It could almost be depicting events on another planet. I suppose some of it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. But on the other hand what would be the point in banning it? It should be read with the proviso that it reflects old attitudes that have since changed. It’s of its time, a period piece. Many writers had a different notion of racial difference back then.
Part of the charm is the colourful illustration of exotic peoples and parts of the world which most of us are unlikely to have visited. They’re not to be taken as documentaries. They are, after all, only cartoons. And it’s miserable to ban them.
The past gives you perspective and shows you that present arrangements and ideas are not the only ones possible. But Leftists can’t afford for people to know too much about history. What if people realized that Hitler was a socialist, for instance?