Elderly Tory baroness ‘forced to wait five hours on hospital trolley while nurses treated drunks’
An 88-year-old Tory baroness waited five hours on a hospital trolley while staff around her dealt with drunks. Baroness Sharples, a senior member of the Lords since 1973, was stranded in accident and emergency at St Thomas’ Hospital in London before a bed was found.
It was an embarrassing admission for the Government as ministers were questioned on the decision to scrap the four-hour target for maximum waits in A&E.
Lady Sharples said she had collapsed after ‘overdoing it’ last month following a knee replacement operation. She said: ‘The ambulance came in five minutes but I was in hospital on a trolley from 7.45pm to 12.30am. ‘I was in a bay in accident and emergency waiting for them to find a bed. ‘I was seen by nurses, who I can’t fault as they had to deal with all the drunks who I could hear. ‘But I wasn’t seen by a doctor until after I had a bed.’
She was released the following day after undergoing tests.
Lady Sharples did not tell staff she was a member of the House of Lords.
In response to Lady Sharples’ statement, Earl Howe, from the Department of Health, said: ‘That does concern me. I don’t think that anyone could endorse the practice of patients remaining on trolleys. ‘I hope you were seen and attended to in a timely manner but what you describe does not sound to me as though it conforms with good clinical practice. ‘The figures I have nationally show that hospitals as a whole are adhering to the new standards that have been set.’
Labour’s Baroness McDonagh that A & E waiting times were ‘rising sharply’.
Lord Howe responded by saying that targets had been replaced ‘by a set of clinical quality indicators, incorporating measures of timeliness in April’. He said: ‘The proportion of patients waiting for less than four hours during the four weeks up to April 24 2011 was 96.7 per cent compared to 98.3 per cent in April 2010. ‘Our clear advice from clinicians was the four-hour target should be adjusted to reflect case rates and priorities.’
Crossbench peer Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, a former president of the Royal Society of Medicine, said: ‘Until the shortfall of 1,280 A & E consultants is met, the quality indicators will not be met because they require consultant sign off and that they must not be interpreted as rigid targets because of the variability of clinical scenarios.’
Lord Howe said the fact consultants had to sign off on many targets ‘in itself should encourage consultant capacity over time’.
HIV drug could prevent ‘cervical cancer by killing off virus that causes disease’
A study in laboratory glassware only so far
A simple treatment using a widely prescribed HIV drug could prevent cervical cancer, research suggests. It raises new hope for victims as the number of cervical cancers caused by the sexual transmission of human papilloma virus (HPV) soar – while the number of new cases of HIV are falling across the globe.
HPV is now the most common sexually transmitted infection and the most common cause of cervical cancer. It also triggers significant numbers of mouth and throat cancers in both men and women after it is transmitted through oral sex.
Earlier research suggests that one in six British women have HPV. Around 3,000 women in the UK each year contract cervical cancer and it accounts for more than 900 deaths.
The drug lopinavir kills cells infected by the HPV while leaving healthy cells relatively unharmed, scientists have found. Researchers from the University of Manchester, working with colleagues in Canada, made the discovery after carrying out laboratory tests on cell cultures.
Dr Ian Hampson, from the university’s school of cancer and enabling sciences, said: `This is a very significant finding as these cells are not cancer cells but are the closest thing to being like the cells found in a pre-cancerous HPV infection of the cervix. `In addition we were also able to show that lopinavir kills these HPV-infected cells by re-activating a well-known antiviral system that is suppressed by HPV.’
To be effective as a treatment, the drug would have to be administered in doses 10 to 15 times that taken by HIV patients. This would mean applying it as a cream or pessary, rather than swallowing a tablet, said Dr Hampson.
The research is published today in the journal Antiviral Therapy.
Co-author Dr Lynne Hampson said: `These results are very exciting since they show that the drug not only preferentially kills HPV-infected non-cancerous cells by re-activating known antiviral defence systems, it is also much less toxic to normal non-HPV infected cells. `Lopinavir is obviously safe for people to take as tablets or liquid but our latest findings provide very strong evidence to support a clinical trial using topical application of this drug to treat HPV infections of the cervix.’
Although HPV vaccines are already in use, they suffer from a number of drawbacks, the scientists pointed out. Vaccines are not effective in women already infected with the virus, and they do not protect against all HPV strains. In addition they are prohibitively expensive, limiting their use in poorer countries.
HPV-related cervical cancer is one of the most common women’s cancers in developing countries, accounting for around 290,000 deaths per year. A cheap, self-administered treatment which could eliminate early-stage HPV infections would have distinct advantages, say the researchers.
Lord Sugar: efficiency could cost half UK civil servants their jobs
Half of Britain’s civil servants could be made redundant if Government adopted efficient private sector working practices, according to former Labour enterprise tsar Lord Sugar.
The close confidant of ex-prime minister Gordon Brown said that private companies’ use of multitasking made them much more efficient, and also suggested that a more hard-nosed approach to government procurement could save taxpayers £1billion a year.
“They employ God knows how many million civil servants, and if you spent the time that I spent in Whitehall, you do have to ask yourself sometimes what half of them are doing,” said Lord Sugar, in an interview in this week’s Radio Times. “When I compare it to my commercial organisation, we have people who multi-task, and if you applied that multi-tasking philosophy within the civil service you would cut the labour force by half.”
However he added that the strategy would result in paying large redundancy payments, and seeing many civil servants end up on benefits, so that it could be “out of the frying pan into the fire”, and that public spending could be more easily cut by improving Government purchasing.
“The Government is the biggest customer in this country. It spends God knows how many billions every year on everything from staples to nuclear missiles,” said Lord Sugar. “When you look at those in charge of procurement, with the greatest respect to them, they are not very streetwise.”
Lord Sugar suggested hiring Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco, or Sir Stuart Rose, the former boss of Marks & Spencer, to make government purchasing more cost-effective. “That little team could save £1 billion a year,” said Lord Sugar. “Now, that is common business sense. Buying from the same people we are buying from now, just doing better deals. If you look at Philip Green’s Efficiency Review, he uncovered things like one department paying £73 for a box of paper that you can go into a shop and pay £8 for.”
However Lord Sugar said that he is still “a Labour boy”, and that he would not be applying for a job with the coalition.
Lord Sugar’s appointment as Labour’s enterprise tsar in 2009 caused a row with the Conservative then-shadow culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who complained to the BBC about bias, given Lord Sugar’s role on the BBC One show The Apprentice.
Lord Sugar called Mr Hunt “an idiot” for complaining, but the furore led the BBC to postpone last year’s series of The Apprentice until after the general election. This year’s series starts next week.
In the interview, Lord Sugar also called for a renaissance of British manufacturing. “Why can’t we have a ‘Buy British’ culture here?” he said. “What annoys me tremendously is things like these contracts that are dished out for, say, wind farms. We as Britain get about 11 per cent of the business for making that stuff. We need a bit of nationalism. The French have got it built in them. It’s in their stomach.”
Of his elevation to the House of Lords, Lord Sugar said that he thinks of himself as “the people’s peer”. He added: “It needs a rough diamond like me in there to ruffle a few feathers.”