Faulty surgical kit routinely used in NHS hospitals ‘is putting patients at risk’
Patients are being put at risk because faulty surgical equipment is routinely used in operations in NHS hospitals, an investigation has found. Experts say as many as a fifth of the scalpels, forceps, clamps and other instruments used in surgery would fail basic safety checks.
In some cases surgeons’ gloves have been torn by sharp protrusions on implements, enabling bacteria to pass through and infect patients.
An investigation by BBC1’s Panorama programme, to be screened tonight, found just one hospital trust in England, Barts and the London, checks its equipment before allowing it to be used in surgery. The technician who carries out these safety tests says that on average a fifth of the instruments sent to the hospital are faulty. Tom Brophy, lead technologist at Barts and the London NHS Trust, also says that on occasions entire batches of equipment are not up to standard and have to be returned.
The companies supplying this trust provide equipment for 180 NHS trusts in England and Wales. So if the failure rate of equipment at Barts and the London was similar at other hospital trusts, it would mean a fifth of the surgical instruments used in the NHS are faulty.
The investigation also found that in one hospital, Nottingham City, five patients died after heart surgery as a result of contracting a superbug thought to have been spread because surgeons’ gloves had been punctured by faulty equipment.
An NHS surgeon, who did not want to be named, said: ‘You look at your glove, which has been torn by a rough edge of an instrument, and you think, have I just cut that patient’s bowel with this? ‘If we filled in a form for every time an instrument failed, we would spend the morning operating and the afternoon doing paperwork.’
As part of the investigation, 19 surgical instruments were brought back from Sialkot, Pakistan, where much of the equipment used in the NHS is made. They were examined by Mr Brophy, who found that 12 failed basic safety checks.
The Department of Health’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency told the programme it ‘has no evidence that non-compliant instruments are being supplied to the NHS’. If there were such evidence, it had ‘a range of powers and sanctions available to deal with the problem’. An MHRA spokesman said: ‘We monitor all adverse incident reports and take prompt action to address safety or performance concerns.’
Why elderly suffer needless fractures: Diagnosis failings could cost the NHS £6bn
Thousands of elderly people are needlessly suffering excruciating fractures because doctors are failing to spot osteoporosis, a report warns. And, unless the condition starts being diagnosed earlier, the NHS bill for treating sufferers could treble from £2billion to £6billion in the next 25 years, it adds.
The National Osteoporosis Society’s report says many patients are diagnosed only after they have broken several bones, causing them agonising pain and restricting their movements. Campaigners believe doctors fail to carry out simple checks when elderly people suffer fractures to establish whether they have the disease.
More than three million people in Britain suffer from osteoporosis, which causes thinning of the bones, and it is most common among elderly women. Around 75,000 people a year are taken to hospital with hip fractures, often caused by osteoporosis. But experts predict this will almost double to 140,000 by 2036.
The report says 26 per cent of those with osteoporosis suffered multiple fractures before being diagnosed. A survey of 700 sufferers found 35 per cent waited more than a year after first breaking a bone to be diagnosed, while 22 per cent waited five years.
Once diagnosed, patients can take drugs to reduce the risk of fractures. They can also get help to prevent falls, such as installing stairlifts or handrails in their homes.
The report says patients are routinely allowed to get worse before their condition is finally diagnosed.
It also warns there is a postcode lottery, with patients’ chances of having the disease spotted dependent on where they live.
Claire Severgnini, chief executive of the National Osteoporosis Society, said: ‘There are still too many people with fragile bones who are not receiving basic services and care. It is astonishing that basic care is still not happening universally.
‘If someone has risk factors, like a parental history of hip fracture, or if they break a bone following a minor bump or fall, it should prompt a simple investigation and treatment.’ This ‘could drastically reduce suffering, save lives and cut costs for the NHS, yet people are being left to fracture again and again’.
British binmen tell old lady they won’t empty her wheelie bin because her rubbish is the wrong shape
Margaret Tasker, from Coventry, West Midlands, was told refuse collectors couldn’t empty her recycling bin because an ice-cream tub she’d put in it was the wrong shape.
The 66-year-old phoned Coventry City Council after her blue wheelie bin was the only one on her street not to be emptied. But she was stunned when a council worker told her that her empty ice-cream tub meant that binmen would refuse to take away any of her recycling.
Mrs Tasker, a retired accountant, said: ‘I was absolutely flabbergasted. I’m always very careful with my recycling, and only ever put items in that say they can be recycled. ‘I was a bit surprised when I came home and realised my bin was the only one on the street not to have been emptied.
‘I had washed out the tub and put it in with my other plastic bottles. When I phoned the council, they said if it had been bottle shaped, it would have been taken.
‘I only get one bin collection every two weeks as it is, and now I don’t have room to recycle any of my other rubbish. ‘I’ve always put ice cream tubs in my recycling, and no-one’s ever complained before. ‘I don’t see why they couldn’t have taken the tub out and put it in my other bin if there was a huge problem with it. ‘The whole situation is a huge farce.’
But after the grandmother-of-two complained, the council backtracked – and claimed that they had made a mistake and square ice-cream tubs were now accepted for recycling. The council told Mrs Tasker they would retrain all of their staff to teach them which objects can be recycled.
She added: ‘I couldn’t believe my ears when they said they were going to retrain all of their staff. ‘Surely all that’s required is a bit of common sense?’
A spokesperson for Coventry City Council said: ‘We are in the process of expanding the range of things people can put in their blue-lidded bins for recycling.
‘Previously, a plastic ice cream tub would not have been suitable for recycling, however, it is now, and the bin should have been emptied. ‘We apologise to Mrs Tasker for the mistake and we will empty her bin at the earliest opportunity.
Practising Christians ‘will no longer get priority’ at Church of England schools in admissions shake-up
A pretty clear admission that the C of E is no longer a Christian church
The Church of England is to attack the middle-class dominance of its popular schools under a shake-up of admissions rules. CofE board of education chairman, the Right Reverend John Pritchard, will today issue guidelines ordering schools to be biased in favour of the ‘disadvantaged’.
His controversial measures will signal the end of the current points system under which places are offered to children whose families are most involved in the Church. Critics claim middle-class families take up religion to gain places, giving them a stranglehold over the best schools.
The Church will not have the power to enforce the guidelines as they are merely recommendations. But if they are followed, they could mean buying a house near a good church school will not be enough to secure a place. At present property values can soar by around £50,000 in London if close to a top school.
In addition, the guidelines will encourage schools to give priority to ‘inclusiveness’ if they serve communities not ‘reflective of the wider area’.
This opens the door for schools to give places to ethnic minorities and immigrants who are not Christian.
Mr Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, will say the guidelines are ‘a reminder of what Church schools are for in this sea of change’ and will help demonstrate the Church is ‘committed to distinctiveness and inclusivity’.
There are 4,831 Church of England schools, many of which perform well in league tables and are heavily oversubscribed. Most currently select children using points awarded for everything from how regularly parents worship to how long they have been in the Church.
The move follows the criticism of Dr Ian King, the Government admissions watchdog, who last year said faith schools were discriminating against immigrants with complex admissions procedures favouring middle-class children.
Mr Pritchard is also to launch an attack on the Coalition’s education policy, saying: ‘What’s going on in education today is probably the biggest programme of reform since 1944. ‘The changes are tumbling out at a bewildering pace and schools are scrambling to keep up.’
The new guidance says the Church would like to see schools that currently only admit children from Christian families ‘provide some open places available to the local community’.
It stresses that children who are disadvantaged because they come from an ethnic minority background should be given preferential treatment, and supports Church schools that are more inclusive of pupils from other faiths, such as Islam.
The document says Church schools are underpinned by a belief in the value of all human beings being entitled to ‘the highest possible standards of education and care’. And it says schools which not ‘diverse’ should consider changing rules which usually give priority to local families over those from further away.
The report, as well as affecting hundreds of thousands of families in England, could increase political tensions between the Coalition and the Church after the Archbishop of Canterbury’s attack this month on it having policies ‘for which people did not vote’.
David Cameron has sent his daughter, Nancy, to the popular St Mary Abbots primary school in Kensington, and recently had his youngest daughter, Florence, christened at the nearby church.
What should we do about those food speculators oppressing the poor?
A number of people have been screaming recently that speculation in food is just immoral. Futures, derivatives, options, in food commodities is evil, oppresses, starves even, the poor and should thus at least be curbed if not banned outright. Oxfam, the World Development Movement, Nicholas Sarkozy, these sorts of people are leading the charge.
The the adults at the World Bank step into the conversation.
The World Bank is taking the rare step of encouraging companies in developing countries to buy insurance in the derivatives markets against sudden changes in food prices with a deal that should allow them to hedge $4bn worth of commodities.
As they say:
Robert Zoellick, World Bank president, said on Tuesday the “agriculture price risk management” tool showed what “sensible financial engineering” could do. “Make lives better for the poor.”
He added: “We have been in a period of extraordinary volatility in food prices, which poses a real danger of irreparable harm to the most vulnerable nations.”
Food prices were “the single gravest threat” facing developing countries, he added.
Quite. What the entire speculative edifice allows is the transfer of price risk from the producer and consumer to the speculators in between. So if your concern is that the poor are damaged by food price variability (which they indeed are) then the sensible thing to do is subsidise the poor’s access to the speculative edifice so that they can transfer that risk of food price variability to the speculators.
Not, as the NGOs and the French President are doing, scweam and scweam that it’s all evil and should be banned. Why they think it’s all evil is simple enough to understand. It’s something largely done by men, in offices with money, and is therefore quite clearly immoral.
Attempting to ban the very thing which is the solution to the problem you’ve identified appears to me to be insane: but then I don’t work for an NGO. Maybe this is just par for the course for them?
It is not an offence to abuse British police: Officers told not to arrest people who scream obscenities because courts won’t convict
“Police have been banned from arresting foul-mouthed yobs who abuse them with the most offensive swear words in the language. The rule change, which has sparked a revolt in the force and anger among MPs, is revealed in secret advice issued to officers and leaked to The Mail on Sunday.
Scotland Yard has issued a card to its officers, telling them to do nothing if they are subjected to a torrent of obscene abuse.
The card, which the police are told to keep on them, secreted behind their warrant badges, says: ‘The courts do not accept police officers are caused harassment, alarm or distress by words such as ‘f**k, c**t, b*****ks, w*****s’.
The guidance has been issued despite existing laws that sanction the fining of people who swear at police and the jailing of persistent offenders.
Officers have the power to arrest yobs who swear at them, either by quoting the Public Order Act – which prohibits the ‘use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour’ – or as a breach of the peace under Common Law.
But the new guidance, issued to officers in London by the Civil Actions Unit of the Metropolitan Police, states that a prosecution for swearing will be lost without ‘compelling evidence of a person within sight or hearing likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress’. It adds that this is ‘very unlikely to be you [the police officer]’.
Scotland Yard says the advice was issued because compensation had recently been paid out to ‘victims’ who had been ‘falsely’ arrested for swearing.