Hospital condemned after giving elderly patients tambourine to summon nurses
And the nurses didn’t respond anyhow
A hospital has been roundly condemned for providing elderly and frail patients with a tambourine to attract attention. The single musical instrument is the only emergency call system available to patients using a day room at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary’s West Wing.
Patients say they are “too scared” to use the day room in case staff do not hear their calls for help.
An NHS watchdog and Wales’ Older People’s Commissioner strongly criticised the hospital for not installing a proper alarm system.
Steve Allen, chief officer of Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Community Health Council, said: “This is totally inappropriate – patients shouldn’t have to resort to shaking a tambourine to get a nurse’s assistance. “It is totally unacceptable and the health board must address this as a matter of concern.”
A concerned relative took a photograph of the tambourine in the day room after visiting his 90-year-old mother over the weekend. The 65-year-old, who has asked not to be identified, said: “I thought she was joking about the tambourine but I went to the day room and there it was.
“My mother and other patients won’t go to the day room because of their fear of being left in a distressing situation, particularly toileting. “I gave the tambourine a good hard shaking – after 16 minutes I gave up as no-one responded. Not surprisingly few patients use the day room, and the new television has few viewers.”
He added: “My mother has another six to eight weeks in the hospital and her time there could be made more enjoyable and bearable if she was able to watch the television. “But she and other patients feel there’s too much of a risk of being left there.”
The man said he was also told there was a pair of maracas in the day room for patients to use to get nurses’ attention.
When he questioned staff at the hospital he was told there was no money available for a more effective call system. “The staff do make an effort, they’re just stretched beyond belief,” he added.
Ruth Marks, Wales’ Older People’s Commissioner, said: “This does not afford any patient dignity and respect, let alone safety. “The day room gives an opportunity for patients to relax and socialise away from their beds, which is important as the days in hospital can seem very long.
“Whatever system is in place to call for help, it is vital these areas are checked regularly by staff. If there was an emergency, there may be no opportunity to call for help. “Resources may be limited, but installing a system so people can easily call for help whilst in hospital must be a priority.”
Ruth Walker, executive director of nursing for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “It appears well-meaning staff have looked for ways to allow patients to make better use of the day room as part of their recovery and provide a way of calling for help when physio or other staff are not nearby.
“A hand-bell had previously been provided but was deemed too heavy and cumbersome for frailer patients and staff looked for an alternative. “Sadly the solution, while well intentioned, was not appropriate. “A lightweight hand-bell will now be sourced as a matter of urgency and patients will be accompanied while using the dayroom in the meantime. “We will also review dayroom arrangements in other areas.
“The care and dignity of all our patients is vitally important to everyone at the health board and we sincerely apologise for any distress this has caused.”
Hospital pillows riddled with infection
Hospital patients are at risk of catching infections such as MRSA and C. difficile from “biohazard” pillows which are ridden with 30 different bugs, according to a new study.
Nurses are required to regularly wash their hands and disinfect bed frames and mattresses, but underestimate the risk of infection from dirty pillows, a report said.
But dead skin, dandruff, dirty air and contaminated fluids found on pillows in hospital wards expose patients to the risk of diseases ranging from seasonal flu to chickenpox, hepatitis and even leprosy, it was claimed.
The study by The Barts and The London NHS Trust found 30 different types of infection in a sample of pillows taken from hospital wards, posing a significant risk of infection.
While used linen and bedding is changed and laundered between patients and is routinely cleaned, the study found a “very high and unacceptable percentage” of damaged pillows on three test wards.
Tears to the lining or stitching of pillows mean they cannot be effectively cleaned and patients could be exposed to infection through the mouth, nose, eyes and ears, the report said.
Germs are released through tears and the stitching of standard NHS pillows when pressure is applied – for example when a patient lays their head down, it added.
The study was sponsored by SleepAngel, which has developed a hermetically sealed pillow to minimise the risk of spreading infection through stitching. Tests showed that after three months of use in hospitals, none of these pillows were contaminated on the inside.
Dr Arthur Tucker, Principal Clinical Scientist and Senior Lecturer at St. Barts and the London Hospitals and author of the report, said: “The presence of these bugs means that they can and will be passed to patients.”
Another false rape claim in Britain
Black law student jailed after making up rape allegation because she was ashamed of failing university. Such claims seem to be a standard “out” for embarrassed women in Britain these days
A former law student who cried rape because she was ‘too ashamed’ to tell her family she had been kicked out of university was locked up for two years yesterday. Aisha Mather, 19, ripped her tights, overturned a coffee table and pulled down curtains in an attempt to convince police she had been attacked at knifepoint and raped in her home.
She believed this would give her an excuse to leave her course and move back in with her parents, and kept up the pretence for eight days – even after police arrested a man who matched her detailed description of the tattooed black ‘rapist’.
Three other men were questioned during a major investigation involving forensic examinations and door-to-door inquiries.
Nottingham Crown Court heard that Mather had been studying law at Nottingham Trent University but had mounting debts and spent ‘more time socialising than studying’. She was ordered to leave after failing her first-year exams.
Phillipa Ellis, defending, said Mather was ‘too ashamed to tell her parents what was going on, and made up a story to get out of Nottingham without having to incur further debt’.
Yesterday, Mather sobbed in the dock as Judge Tony Mitchell described her actions as ‘mind-boggling’. He added: ‘You had been playing the fool at university, got yourself into debt, and wanted your parents to dig you out without having to admit the truth. Your behaviour was utterly despicable.’
Dawn Pritchard, prosecuting, said that on the night of the ‘attack’ in January Mather had been unable to pay for shopping because she had run out of money. She rang her father and claimed she had been followed home by a man, then became hysterical, prompting her mother to take the phone and ask if she had been raped.
When Mather simply continued crying, her mother assumed she had been attacked and told her to call the police. When officers arrived, Mather told them that the man had followed her home from the university library.
The court heard that Mather had ‘seemed visibly shocked’ when describing the incident to detectives and had consented to a medical examination. Her account even included the name of the book she had been reading in the library.
But when officers checked with library staff and discovered that it was in storage and not available to read, they began to doubt Mather’s version of events.
Miss Pritchard said that during a second interview with police, Mather admitted she had made up the allegations because she ‘had no money, was not at university, and needed to get out of Nottingham’.
Mather, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, admitted perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to two years in a young offenders institute.
At long last: Britons will be able to fight off burglars without fear of prosecution
Homeowners and shopkeepers are to be given the right to protect themselves against burglars and robbers. They will now be allowed to use reasonable force if they perceive a threat to their property. Previously they could act only when they feared for their lives.
The surprise proposal is a response to public outrage over cases such as that of Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer who shot a burglar dead, and Munir Hussain, who chased and beat a man who had held his family at knifepoint.
It is one of a series of reforms unveiled by David Cameron in a sharp turn to the right on law and order. As well as more life sentences there will be tougher punishments for knife crime.
Liberal Democrats were quick to condemn the package, especially the pledge for mandatory life sentences for those committing very serious offences twice.
The Prime Minister finally scrapped controversial proposals to halve jail terms for offenders who enter early guilty pleas.
Other measures include:
* A six-month mandatory sentence for adults who use a knife to threaten or intimidate;
* Prisoners made to work while inside, with earnings used to compensate victims;
* Tougher community sentences, with longer curfews, travel bans,confiscation of assets and £2,500 fines for non-compliance;
* Plans for a criminal offence of squatting.
Mr Cameron and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke attempted to deny they were making a U-turn, insisting previous Coalition policies had merely been ‘proposals’.
But in reality, yesterday’s package marked not only a rowing back on sentence discounts following a public outcry, but a complete shift of tone and a bid to restore the Tories’ reputation on law and order.
The Prime Minister’s intervention was a crushing blow for both Mr Clarke and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who chaired a Cabinet committee that signed off the reforms.
The father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor welcomed the about-turn, but called for the Justice Secretary to be sacked. Richard Taylor said: ‘Ken Clarke does not know what is going on in the streets, he does not know what criminality is about.’
The Justice Secretary now has to find £130million a year in extra savings, with deeper cuts likely for the probation services and courts.
After a series of policy U-turns, the Prime Minister claimed abandoning 50 per cent sentencing discounts was a sign of confidence, showing the Government was prepared to listen. The ‘weak thing to do’, he claimed, was to keep ‘ploughing on’ even when it became clear there was a better way of doing things. ‘Being strong is about being prepared to admit you didn’t get everything right the first time, you are going to improve it and make it better,’ Mr Cameron said.
‘My mission is to make sure that families can feel safe in their homes and they can walk the streets freely and without fear. The public need to know that dangerous criminals will be locked up for a very long time.
‘We want prisons to be places of punishment with a purpose, instead of prisoners sitting in their cells. We will require them to work hard and reform themselves.’
The self-defence clause is likely be added to the sentencing bill over the next few months. Guidance to police, prosecutors and the courts will be revised to give clarity about when it is sensible to prosecute. They have previously had to decide what constitutes excessive force by using legal precedent.
With 23,000 violent crimes against householders every year, campaigners say the case for a change to legislation is growing ever stronger.
The tough sentencing rules would mean predatory violent and sexual attackers who carry out a second serious offence will face a mandatory life term. The ‘two strikes and you’re out’ policy, first proposed by Michael Howard in 1997, will mean the most dangerous criminals automatically receiving a life term after a second offence.
Senior Liberal Democrats expressed their unease. Lord Thomas of Gresford, co-chairman of their parliamentary home affairs committee, said it would be a ‘very strange thing’ for mandatory life sentences to be imposed in cases other than murder.
And Lib Dem justice minister Lord McNally said: ‘The longer I have been in this job the more convinced I have been we should rely on the discretion of a well-informed judge rather than Parliament trying to second-guess the judiciary.’
Mr Clegg yesterday claimed he had never supported the shorter sentences policy and appeared to blame Mr Clarke for the fiasco. He called the original plans ‘arbitrary’ and sources close to him insisted they had been ‘badly sold’ to voters.
Migrants taking nine in ten new jobs since the election, British poverty czar reveals
Almost nine out of ten jobs created since the election went to immigrants, the Coalition’s poverty czar has revealed.
Former Labour minister Frank Field, brought in to advise the Government last year, criticised David Cameron’s plans to reform welfare as nowhere near radical enough – because they do not punish the workshy or reward those who have contributed to National Insurance. He also said he believed the public wanted tougher sanctions forcing the long-term unemployed back to work.
Mr Field dismissed proposals to simplify the benefits system as nothing more than ‘Gordon Brown’s approach, on speed’. ‘Good, reliable’ people who have worked hard and paid NI should be helped more than those who have not, he said.
Figures uncovered by Mr Field show that in the first year of the Coalition, 87 per cent of the 400,000 newly created jobs have gone to immigrants, because Britons are too lazy to chase work.
Embarrassingly for Mr Cameron, the proportion of new jobs going to immigrants is actually higher now than it was in Labour’s last year in office.
But his attempts to get to grips with the problem have to some extent been scuppered by Business Secretary, Vince Cable, who opposes an immigration cap.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Field said: ‘I fear that, at the next election, we will still be having the same debate on welfare reform as we had at the last four.’ And he said tougher sanctions were needed to force back to work those who refused jobs that they believed ‘were only fit for immigrants’.
Mr Field said: ‘This group of recidivist, workless claimants know from past experience governments leave them alone.’
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has unveiled plans to simplify benefits into a single universal credit designed to ensure those in work are always better off.
Last night, a source close to Mr Duncan Smith said the figures on immigrant workers were a Labour legacy. The source said: ‘When faced with young, sparky Eastern Europeans coming here to work, it is essential that Britons have the skills to compete.’
British government ‘will miss its migrant targets’ unless they rip up the rulebook
David Cameron will fail to bring annual net migration down to five figures unless he rips up the rule book and imposes tougher limits, academics warn today.
The Prime Minister has said repeatedly that he wants to reduce net migration, currently 242,000 a year, to below 100,000 by 2015.
But estimates based on official Whitehall figures suggest current policy will cut it to 167,000 by then. The predictions, from Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, are disputed by Home Office sources who say the figures ‘don’t add up’. But they highlight the enormous scale of the challenge ministers face to rein in spiralling migrant numbers.
Net migration is the difference between the numbers arriving and those leaving. The 242,000 figure is the biggest since Labour opened the doors to workers from Eastern Europe when eight countries joined the EU in 2004. Barring the beginning of a new wave of Britons moving abroad, to bring net migration below 100,000 would mean a cut in arrivals of 142,000.
But Britain is hamstrung in its ability to influence net migrant numbers because it cannot restrict those coming from inside the EU. In recent months, the Home Office has unveiled a series of policy measures aimed at cutting the total arrivals from outside Europe.
Today’s report, entitled Off Target, calculates the expected combined impact of those policies on the net migration figure.
The cap on migrant workers is predicted to reduce net migration by 11,000 and changes to student visas are expected to cut net migration by 56,000, the report says.
Rules on allowing migrants to bring family members with them are to be tightened this summer. But the report predicts these changes are unlikely to reduce net migration by more than 8,000.
Major shifts in so-called ‘settlement rights’ which allow tens of thousands of migrants to stay indefinitely will not have any significant impact before 2016, the report says.
Dr Scott Blinder, senior researcher at the Migration Observatory, said: ‘The Government’s current policies only look likely to reduce net migration by about 75,000 at best – which would mean that further reductions of more than 67,000 would be needed to meet the ‘tens of thousands’ net migration target.’
The report will raise fears that tough immigration policies advocated by Tory ministers have been watered down to placate the Lib Dems.
Home Office sources said the academics were wrong to base their predictions on the level of net migration now rather than the likely level in 2015. They also said the authors were guessing the impact of changes to rules for family members of migrants.
‘Unacceptable’ exam blunders in bungling Britain
Exams taken by tens of thousands of schoolchildren have contained errors this summer.
The Education Secretary ordered the qualifications watchdog to intervene after tens of thousands of pupils taking Latin, maths and physics papers were presented with impossible questions or printing mistakes.
It is believed at least nine tests have now been affected by errors this summer, sparking claims from head teachers that the credibility of the exams system is under threat.
The latest mistakes came just weeks after Ofqual ordered all exam boards to carry out emergency checks on papers being sat throughout June to eradicate further mistakes.
On Tuesday, one board at the centre of a series of blunders issued a fresh apology and pledged to sack staff responsible.
In its first intervention since the mistakes came to light, the Department for Education said the errors were “completely unacceptable”. “The Secretary of State is angry about these and other errors,” a spokesman said. “He has said repeatedly that the exam system is discredited and action must be taken. The department has been in close contact with Ofqual and the Secretary of State is speaking to them today to get a briefing on what action they are taking.”
The latest errors centred around two GCSEs in maths and Latin and an A-level physics paper. One maths exam set by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance included questions originally answered by pupils taking the same test in March.
The printing error affected up to 31,659 pupils taking the exam at 567 schools and colleges on Tuesday morning.
AQA said some schools had received the correct paper, while others received the “problem” paper, which had new questions at the beginning and end, but old ones in the middle. Some schools were sent a combination of correct and problem papers.
The exam board apologised for the error, adding: “We are in the process of investigating with our printers how this problem has arisen.”
Two more errors in tests set by the OCR exam board also came to light. One A-level physics paper – sat by almost 8,000 students on Tuesday morning – contained a measurement given in both centimetres and metres, when it should have been in metres only. One question was affected, worth two to four marks.
A Latin GCSE sat by up to 8,000 pupils in 540 schools and colleges on Monday asked candidates to answer a series of questions about a piece of prose. But the questions contained three separate references to either the wrong author or the wrong characters contained within the text. The errors were collectively worth 14 out of 50 marks.
Bene’t Steinberg, director of public affairs at Cambridge Assessment, which operates the OCR board, insisted the errors covered a tiny proportion of the 16,000 questions set every year. But he added: “We are very upset and angry about this and, when we get to the bottom of what’s happened, the person responsible will lose their job.”
David Craggs, headmaster of Gad’s Hill independent school in Kent, attacked the AQA printing error, adding: “It is vital that pupils, parents and employers have faith in the examinations. Unfortunately, episodes such as this undermine the credibility of the exam system as a whole.”
High doses of statins could increase risk of diabetes
More epidemiological naivety. All we see here is that ill health can be general. People with high blood pressure (etc.) are more likely to get diabetes too
High doses of cholesterol-lowering pills can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, researchers warn. They have found that patients taking intensive courses of statins were 12 per cent more likely to get the disease.
But experts pointed out that that the risk was far outweighed by the substantial benefits – the pills were shown to reduce the likelihood of heart attacks by 16 per cent.
More than seven million people in Britain now take statins – as many as one in three adults over the age of 40. It is not known exactly how many are on high doses of more than 80 miligrams a day, but it is likely to only be a small proportion most at risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Researchers from the University of Glasgow looked at five previous studies involving 32,700 patients. They were either on high doses of 80 mg or moderate doses of 20mg to 40 mg.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found there were 149 extra cases of type 2 diabetes recorded amongst the patients on high dose statins, representing a 12 per cent risk.
The authors concluded: ‘Our findings suggest that clinicians should be vigilant for the development of diabetes in patients receiving intensive statin therapy.’
Statins are extremely effective in lowering levels of cholesterol, the fatty substance in the blood that clogs up arteries leading to heart attacks and strokes.
Last night experts urged people not to stop taking the pills on the basis on this evidence. Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Nobody should stop taking their prescribed statins because of the evidence shown in this research.
‘Statins play a vital role in protecting the hearts of many, many people and the benefits still far outweigh any risks associated with diabetes. ‘The increased risk occurred predominantly in those taking a high dose of these drugs, whereas most people are on low or moderate doses. ‘Always speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about your medication. Don’t simply stop taking it.’
Experts also pointed out that patients on statins may have been at higher risk of diabetes in the first place if they were overweight.
Libby Dowling, clinical advisor at Diabetes UK said: ‘This analysis of previous studies has found that high doses of statins increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, yet at the same time reduce the risk of heart disease.
‘What we don’t know from this research is whether the people being prescribed the high-dose statins were overweight as having a large waist puts you at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes anyway.
British centre-Leftist politician under fire for hitting out at green law ‘deregulation zealots’ who want to bin costly red tape
Chris Huhne was facing a backlash from Tory MPs and business last night after hitting out at ‘zealots’ who want to stem the tidal wave of costly new green laws.
The Energy Secretary attacked Conservative colleagues as ‘right-wing ideologues’ for questioning the value of some environmental regulations. In a speech, he said it was ‘nonsense’ that key green legislation, including the flagship Climate Change Act, had been included in a Government review of red tape. This aims to slash unnecessary laws to boost the economy.
He said tackling climate change was a ‘new area’ where more regulations would be needed, not less.
Sources close to Mr Huhne suggested he had the backing of Business Secretary Vince Cable. But he is likely to face opposition from some Tory Cabinet ministers who do not believe the environment should be treated as a special case.
Former Tory Cabinet minister Peter Lilley said: ‘All regulations should be looked at constantly to see if they are necessary. If Mr Huhne wants environmental regulations to be off limits it suggests he knows many of them would be revealed to be very poor if they were looked at closely.’
A spokesman for business group the Institute of Directors urged ministers to keep environmental laws within the review – and suggested Mr Huhne was wrong to label critics of red tape as ‘zealots’. He added: ‘Businesses do not feel that the Government has made the case that all these environmental laws are necessary.
‘We wouldn’t recognise the characterisation of people as zealots. Businesses are opposed to unnecessary regulation because it makes running their business more difficult and constrains growth in the economy.’
The CBI has also criticised several environmental regulations for being badly devised, including plans for imposing a minimum energy price. It warned this would disadvantage energy-intensive manufacturers facing cut-price competition from abroad.
Mr Huhne said in his speech: ‘Whatever the good intent, we have mistakenly given the impression that an exercise designed to scrap unnecessary minor bureaucratic hurdles is now placing the cornerstone of climate protection under threat. Of course this is nonsense. ‘Let me assure you – there is a very good case for our key regulations protecting the environment to stay.’
Under the Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ members of the public are invited to comment on which laws they would like to see scrapped.