Family of man who died of thirst in hospital told ‘you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’
Incompetent Muslim doctor mainly responsible
The family of an elderly patient who died from dehydration said they were forced to give him water through a damp flannel – after hospital staff refused to put him on a drip. One nurse allegedly told the man’s daughter: ‘You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’ just days before he died.
Kenneth Walters, 83, dropped from around eight stone to six stone in weight in just two weeks – while his family described him as ’emaciated, skin and bone’. But he was not put on a drip or given a special beaker to aid with drinking water.
Another blundering doctor even said Kenneth was ready to be discharged only hours before he passed away – and told coroners his family were happy with his treatment.
Daughter Jane Carlton, who herself is a nurse, said: ‘He was a frail old man – but I didn’t think that should deprive him of routine hydration and food. ‘I could not see how on earth you could discharge someone in that state. ‘I was told by one nurse “you can take a horse to water, but can’t make it drink”.’
Bosses at Royal Derby Hospital, where Kenneth had undergone a routine hip operation, have admitted a string of failures at an inquest into his death.
The hearing even discussed whether Mahya Mirfattiahi should face a police investigation for initially telling a coroner’s officer the family were happy with his treatment. Daughter Jane had refused to register Mr Walters’ death demanding a full investigation. But Coroner for Derby and South Derbyshire, Robert Hunter eventually decided not to refer the doctor’s actions to police.
Mr Walters, who also had dementia, was admitted after a fall at Spencer Grove Care Home, in Belper, Derbsyshire, which fractured his hip. After the successful hip-replacement operation, he was put on to a ward where he was initially eating and drinking but then started losing weight.
Jane added: ‘He was fading away – I mentioned to the staff he appeared to be dehydrated. ‘His mouth was getting quite crusty – we used to wipe his mouth with a wet flannel and he used to suck the water out.’
From August 2009 to his death later that year on September 7, Dr Mirfattiahi had been monitoring his progress. But she admitted yesterday that she had misread blood tests which showed how dehydrated he was. She said: ‘I made a mistake in the way I interpreted them.’
She also failed to check why earlier blood tests she ordered had not been carried out, adding: ‘I was looking after 30 patients by myself.’ At one stage, when she was on call, she had to be bleeped 12 times as Kenneth deteriorated.
The junior medic said she consulted with senior staff about whether he should be put on a drip – but it was decided they should encourage ‘oral intake’ to get him home quicker. Dr Hunter said: ‘Oral intake was sucking fluids with a flannel. Oral fluids, in this instance, were completely inappropriate.’
Dr Mirfattiahi had a meeting with Mr Walters’ daughters on the morning he died. Jane said: ‘By this stage we’d had two weeks of asking, and asking, and asking. ‘We stressed we were not happy with his condition. We asked ‘are we looking at him dying?’ Was treatment being withheld because of that?
‘She said she was not concerned. In the end, I asked her if she would be concerned if it was her father.’ An action plan was drawn up, which finally included Mr Walters being put on a drip. But he died that night. Jane added: ‘We did comment that we hoped it wasn’t too little too late.’
Dr Hunter was due to record a verdict last night – telling the family it could be one of accidental death, with a rider of neglect.
Last night, the hospital apologised for the failings in care that Kenneth received. Brigid Stacey, director of nursing and midwifery, told his inquest: ‘I offer sincere condolences to the family of Mr Walters and formally apologise for the insufficiencies.’
She said after his death in 2009 a report had identified eight key areas for improvement. Among them were staffing levels, communication errors, training issues, monitoring of hydration and the ordering of blood test results.
She added that, if measures that have now been put in place had been there in 2009, ‘the situation would have been very different’.
Tragedy of the new mother who spent just days with her baby son before infected Caesarean wound killed her
A woman who dreamed of being a mother has died less than four weeks after giving birth, from an infected Caesarean wound.
Hayley Constable, 27, gave both to her son Alfie by emergency section after a long labour at Fairfield General Hospital, Bury, on 27 March. Alfie weighed a healthy 7lb 13oz and the pair were discharged a day later after Hayley was given antibiotics for a mild infection.
However Ms Constable returned to hospital a week later in pain after the wound from the Caesarean section became infected. She was transferred to North Manchester General Hospital after her condition deteriorated. Doctors planned to clean out the wound in surgery but Hayley collapsed in theatre and was taken to intensive care on a ventilator after the operation.
The infection had caused her lungs to become inflamed, so Hayley was taken to a specialist respiratory unit in Leicester for treatment. Her condition initially seemed to improve but she then developed a blood clot which spread to her brain.
The pregnancy went well and baby Alfie was born in an emergency Caesarean section, as it was a long labour and the baby became distressed.
Her mother Anne Constable from Walmersley, said: ‘The whole family is still in shock. ‘Obviously people get infections all the time, but you don’t expect this to happen to a healthy young woman. ‘Hayley wanted to have a baby so much. It’s heart-breaking to think she only had a week with Alfie, but it was the happiest she had ever been. ‘She loved being a mother. She was so pleased with Alfie and very proud. She loved having her own little family. It was all she had ever wanted.’
British educational standards steadily falling
Ofqual will announce an investigation into claims that the tests taken by hundreds of thousands of youngsters every year are too easy. The inquiry, the largest the education watchdog has carried out, is expected to cover annual rises in grades, the perceived difficulty of qualifications, the range of courses and commercial competition between exam boards.
The regulator has already been asked to look into the issue of exam resits and how tests compare with those carried out overseas. Glenys Stacey, the regulator’s new chief executive, told The Daily Telegraph that “an objective and constructive debate” on the state of the exam and qualifications system was needed. The comments come as up to 800,000 pupils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland prepare to start GCSE and A-level exams next week.
Last year, the number of A* and A grades awarded at GCSE increased to almost 23 per cent – the 22nd annual rise and a near tripling in the number of top marks awarded since 1988. A record 27 per cent of A-level students gained A* or As.
The year-on-year rise has prompted claims that tests are less demanding and schools are playing the system to maximise pupils’ scores.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, delivered a fresh warning on Thursday over the exams system, saying “dumbing down has got to stop”. The comment came in response to a report that suggested that up to a third of teenagers are taking worthless vocational qualifications that fail to lead to a good job or higher education.
In her first interview since taking over at Ofqual, Ms Stacey said she wanted to hold a review of exam and qualification standards. This would coincide with government plans to give the watchdog extra powers to raise the standards of qualifications next year. It is expected to start after the summer exam season.
“We do a lot of work here to maintain standards on all the key qualifications; across the board on subject matters and subject levels,” she said. “But still there is a public concern over standards and a feeling that things aren’t what they used to be.
“Well, I would like to understand that better and actually bring some evidence to the debate as well. I want an objective and constructive debate.
“We need to be firm and fair and we really want to focus on the big ticket items; things people are truly concerned about and where regulatory action could actually make a difference to public confidence.”
The exams system has faced repeated criticism in recent years over claims of a fall in the standard of questions and the content of courses. Research by Durham University has suggested that A-levels — the gold standard exam taken by some 250,000 teenagers each year — are two grades easier than they were 20 years ago.
Concerns over standards have been fuelled by the new Government. Mr Gove has already criticised the number of resits taken by pupils, warning that it risks devaluing the exams system.
He asked Ofqual to conduct a separate inquiry into the issue as well as analysing the value of vocational qualifications and setting a benchmark for English exams against those elsewhere in the world.
The latest inquiry will look into the standard of exams and qualifications over time alongside other issues, such as the commercial competition between exam boards and the use of modular GCSEs – breaking qualifications down into bite-sized units that students can retake to boost their scores.
Ms Stacey, who joined Ofqual in March from Standards for England, the local government watchdog, said: “When I listen to what others tell me about their concerns about standards, I hear common themes coming through; concerns about resits, modularisation, concerns about the commercial behaviours of awarding organisations, concerns about the range and nature of qualifications.
“As a regulator, we need to understand to what extent there is a real issue about standards and we need to do that in the interests of young people going forward. I don’t take a predetermined view, but these concerns are expressed sufficiently frequently by a wide range of interested people – employers, higher education, parents and Government – so let’s have a look.”
Ms Stacey, who was head of Animal Health, the farming regulator, and has led the Criminal Cases Review Commission and Greater Manchester Magistrates Court Committee, acknowledged concerns over competition between exam boards.
Several private companies and charities sell qualifications to schools and colleges. Many also provide supplementary text books and run courses in how to maximise results. Last year, Mick Waters, a former director of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, admitted that the system was “almost corrupt”.
Thousands of teenagers will be encouraged to leave school at 14 to enrol in colleges under a government overhaul of vocational qualifications. The Coalition said more children should transfer to further education colleges to benefit from decent practical training. The recommendation was made in a report by Alison Wolf, the professor of public sector management at King’s College London.
The report included a recommendation to require pupils to study English and maths up to the age of 18 if they fail to gain a decent GCSE in the subjects at 16.
Fifty days to save the world — in 2009
Published Date: 20 October 2009
GORDON Brown has warned there are fewer than 50 days left for world leaders to set a course of action to save the planet from devastating climate change. The Prime Minister said there would be a global “catastrophe” if action to tackle climate change was not agreed at United Nations talks in Copenhagen in December. He also insisted “there is no plan B”.
The conference will bring together environment ministers from 192 nations to try to reach an agreement on a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr Brown said the economic cost of failing to address global warming would be greater than the impact of the two world wars and the Great Depression. And he warned Britain could be hit by heatwaves, droughts and flooding if climate change was allowed to rise unchecked.
It is widely accepted that a global temperature rise of more than 2C will cause environmental chaos.
The Copenhagen summit, which begins in 49 days, on 7 December, is seen as the last chance for world leaders to agree how to tackle the crisis.
It must by now be more like 500 days from that prophecy and the world still seems OK
Censored! British bikini advert blacked out with spray paint by ‘Muslim extremists who object to women in swimsuits’
She is supposed to be advertising a sexy bikini. But instead the model on this poster, in Birmingham, has been defaced in an act of vandalism blamed on militant Muslims who were offended by her flesh.
Similar acts of vandalism have been carried out in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Police there also believe extremists are responsible.
The advert, which promotes a £3.99 bikini top from high-street fashion retailer H&M, a scantily-dressed model stands on a sun-kissed, white sand beach.
The freestanding advertising unit, stands in the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham, which has a large Muslim population.
Across the road from ‘Muslim Students House Masjeed’, an education centre, the poster is next to a busy main road.
The fact that almost all of the model’s flesh has been covered has led local residents to speculate that the vandalism was not random, but a religiously-motivated targetted attack.
Delivery driver Robert Tonkins, 45, said: “You see a lot of women wearing the hijab around here, and what’s been done to that poster looks very similar to it.
‘I don’t think it’s just kids messing around – they’ve spray-painted specific areas and covered up anything that might be offensive to very religious people.
‘It’s a bit worrying, I don’t think it’s up to other people to decide what can and can’t be displayed on our streets, especially because we’re a Christian country.’
European court blocks restrictions on media
A small win for freedom of the press
“Max Mosley yesterday lost a court bid to force journalists to contact people before publishing potentially embarrassing details of their private lives, a case prompted when a News Corp. newspaper reported he’d taken part in a Nazi-themed sex party without calling him beforehand.
The record award the High Court in London granted the former Formula One president for breach of his privacy was ‘an adequate remedy’ that averted the ‘chilling effect’ a prior-notification requirement could have on the media, the European Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday.”