Painful deaths of two mothers sparks hospital probe after coroner condemns ‘gross system neglect’
A major investigation has been ordered into a series of deaths at a hospital amid accusations of ‘gross systems neglect’. A coroner has announced an inquiry into care at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, after the death of woman who was twice sent home without vital surgery.
An inquest revealed that care provided for Patricia Spooner, 67, fell ‘well short of an acceptable standard’ before she died of multiple organ failure at the hospital.
The mother-of-four’s death came shortly after Jayne Smith, 51, died ‘in agony’ after surgery for haemorrhoids went wrong last September.
An inquest concluded Mrs Spooner died from a known complication of surgery ‘compounded by gross systems neglect’ at the hospital.
Dr Bass was told she was admitted to the hospital with abdominal pain last July but sent home without surgery. She was readmitted in August and her conditioned deteriorated and she needed a colostomy in September. But staff failed to act on indicators showing she was getting worse and she died of multiple organ failure on October 3. Dr Bass criticised the hospital care as ‘poor and confused’.
Jayne’s widower Glen, 59, said today an inquiry ordered by coroner David Morris was ‘long overdue’. His wife, a mother-of-two, from Somersham, died from multiple organ failure. He said: ‘My wife died as a result of basic errors made in her care and I’ve always hoped that no-one else would face the same problems.
‘This investigation will undoubtedly go some way to providing the reassurances over safety that my family have called for since the death of Jayne. ‘It is a huge relief to know that the issues at the hospital have not been ignored.’
When British political correctness gets TERMINALLY obnoxious
Father fined 1,000 pounds and found guilty of harassment for warning families about a paedophile
A father who warned another parent about a convicted paedophile has been fined œ1,000 and found guilty of harassing the sex offender. He was horrified to find his ex-wife’s new husband – stepfather to his daughter, 11 – had served three jail terms for sex crimes.
A reporting restriction imposed to protect the stepfather’s identity means that none of the family members can be named. One of the stepfather’s sentences was for molesting two 12-year-old girls as they slept at his house.
A court heard the father raised the alarm after discovering four of his daughter’s friends had been invited to the family home for a sleepover to celebrate her birthday. When he showed the mother of one girl a newspaper clipping revealing the stepfather’s convictions, all the parents stopped their children going to the sleepover.
Following that action, as well as repeated phone calls to the home of his ex-wife and her husband, the father was arrested and convicted of harassment at Worcester Magistrates Court and fined œ1,000.
The father told the court he spoke out because he would have `felt responsible’ if one of the children at the sleepover had been harmed. He added: `My decision was to speak up to one of the parents and leave it up to their discretion. `I was concerned for her daughter as I always have been for my own. My daughter is open to quite considerable harm in my eyes.’
A judge heard how the defendant’s ex-wife began a relationship with the convicted paedophile in 2007 and is now married to him.
The defendant said he initially socialised with his ex-wife and her new partner, but relations soured when he learned of the man’s past.
The stepfather was convicted of attempted rape in 1980 as a teenager. He was convicted of the same offence in 1988 and was jailed again in 1996 for molesting the two girls.
The court heard the defendant had signed a police harassment notice after earlier claims that he may have discussed the stepfather’s past with others. The notice required him not to reveal the stepfather’s convictions to anyone, including his own daughter.
But he breached the order last September by alerting the other parent. Prosecutor Owen Beale said the father, frustrated at what he saw as decreasing access to his daughter, also called his ex-wife’s home 14 times in two hours one evening the same month, and rang her mobile phone three times.
In one message he said of the stepfather: `You are a self-confessed paedophile, rapist, fraudster, the lot… I just want to speak to my daughter.’ In another, he threatened to come `round to sort things out once and for all’. The couple were at home but did not answer the phone. Instead they noted down the content of the messages and informed police.
The father told the court on Thursday that he made the calls as he had been unable to reach his daughter on her mobile because of poor reception in the area where she lives, and did not contact police or social services about the sleepover because he `didn’t think they would act quickly enough’.
Mr Beale said of the fact the defendant’s daughter was under the same roof as a convicted sex offender: `The authorities were not concerned that there was a risk because they left her there.’
District Judge Mark Layton described the case as `hugely difficult’ but said the charges against the father had been proved. He must pay œ775 costs and a œ15 victim surcharge, and banned from contact with the stepfather
Church of England calls for legal right to wear a cross
Christians who wear crosses at work or discuss their beliefs with colleagues must have legal protection from persecution, the Church of England demanded yesterday.
Church leaders revealed that they have held talks with Coalition ministers about attempts by employers to suppress Christianity and how these are supported by judges and courts.
Dr Philip Giddings, chairman of the Church’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, told the General Synod: ‘We have had a sympathetic hearing and look forward to practical responses.’
The development follows five years of deepening hostility among bosses to workers who wear crosses or talk about their faith. Last year, in a key test case, Christian nurse Shirley Chaplin was denied the right to wear her crucifix while working on an NHS ward. An employment tribunal said wearing the cross was not a ‘mandatory requirement’ of her faith.
A number of individuals working for hospitals or health authorities have been suspended or sacked from their jobs for talking to colleagues or patients about Christianity. And senior judges have dismissed the claims of those who say they should be able to act in accordance with their beliefs at work.
Last year an Appeal Judge upheld the sacking of Relate counsellor Gary McFarlane, who refused to give sex therapy to gay couples, saying the law could not give protection to people who acted on religious grounds.
Lord Justice Laws also dismissed the arguments of former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey in the matter, saying his ‘concerns are formulated at such a level of generality that it is hard to know precisely what Lord Carey has in mind’.
The talks with ministers were disclosed to the Synod by Dr Philip Giddings, who is chairman of its Mission and Public Affairs Council, which is responsible for furthering Christian faith. Dr Giddings said: ‘In several encounters with Government ministers, notably on the Big Society, we have stressed the need to address the chill factor which leads employers and others to assume that the law is more restrictive than it is. ‘We have had a sympathetic hearing and look forward to practical responses.
‘The law does not prevent Christians from expressing their views at work. The law, rightly, expects everyone, including those of no faith, to act with due respect for other people’s rights and duties in the field of religion or belief. ‘However some employers have interpreted the law in ways which seem to assume that reasonable and respectful expressions of faith are, almost by definition, offensive. This is a cause of great concern.
‘We shall continue to monitor the emerging case law on how far employers can lawfully limit the ability of Christians to manifest their faith in the workplace.’
Church leaders have been far from united in their enthusiasm for standing up for the rights of Christians at work. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has been willing to face reversals in the courts by taking the part of people like Mrs Chaplin who face attempts to make them remove crosses or stop discussing their beliefs.
Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu – currently out of action while he recovers from an operation – is also publicly opposed to attempts to stop people expressing their Christianity.
But Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has been largely silent on the argument. He did not mention it in his recent article for the New Statesman. Dr Williams instead described Mr Cameron’s Big Society idea as ‘painfully stale’ and suggested it was an attempt to paper over the effects of spending cuts.
If the Big Society is to become a reality, it must rely on the availability of volunteers around the country – something the Church of England is able to provide.
Legislation to steer the courts away from using employment or equality law to suppress Christian displays may find support from European judges at the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. They ruled earlier this year that Italian schools may continue to put crucifixes on the classroom walls, saying that Christian imagery did nothing to harm non-Christian pupils.
The Strasbourg judges are shortly to be asked for a decision in one of the first British cases of a worker being refused the right to display a Christian symbol. Five years ago BA refused check-in clerk Nadia Eweida the right to wear a cross with her uniform.
Miss Eweida forced the airline to back down, and is now going to Strasbourg to try to reinforce the rights of religious believers to display their faith in public.
How the BBC’s silence on immigration damaged the country
Mark Thompson’s confession that the BBC shied away from subjects like immigration shows how an insidious culture of the unsayable took hold under Labour, says Jenny McCartney
It was interesting to hear Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC, admit last week that in the past, the corporation “has had limitations. For example, I think there were some years when the BBC, like the rest of the UK media, was very reticent about talking about immigration. There was an anxiety whether you might be playing into a political agenda if you did items on immigration.” In other words, it was quietly believed that even raising the topic meant that the BBC was producing propaganda for British National Party.
What Mr Thompson has admitted – and at least he is honest about it – is that before 2010, our national broadcaster became a hostage to the insidious culture of the unsayable, which established itself across so much of British life during the Labour years, and left a legacy of widespread damage.
I can understand that immigration was a sensitive subject: I have complicated feelings about it myself. On one hand, the steady flow of newcomers has shaped Britain’s character and success for thousands of years. My in-laws are first-generation immigrants from India, who came to Britain in the early 1960s, and in terms of industry and achievement, they and their peers have been a tremendous boon to this country. Frequently, immigrants represent the boldest and best from their homelands, the ones with the courage and drive to struggle towards a better life somewhere else, and carry on grafting when they get there.
But it also seems reasonable that if there is going to be a very sharp rise in immigration in a very short time – as there was under Labour, when just over three million legal immigrants arrived in 13 years – there should at least be an open discussion about how many can be welcomed without flooding the job market and putting an unsustainable strain on health and education systems. Immigrants don’t tend to compete for the jobs of BBC executives. The professional middle classes might well be delighted that they suddenly have a glut of cheap, efficient Polish workmen to choose from. A painter-decorator with a family to support might not.
The topic of immigration today is no longer primarily bound up with racism, but with resources and economics: the views of the children and grandchildren of the Windrush generation are just as varied on the subject as anyone else’s. All of this should have led to a vigorous discussion, on the BBC and elsewhere, which would have helped considerably to detoxify the debate.
Yet for far too long, the corporation simply bottled it, preferring to leave any mention of the i-word to the BNP. As a result, the notion of the “unsayable” was perpetuated, an official omertà that let government policy proceed unchallenged – in a chaotic style that even Labour now admits was a mistake – while popular concern mounted.
There were other “unsayables”, too, although in fairness, the BBC tackled at least some. Under Blair, GCSE and A-level results rose annually – bumper exam crops of Stalinist proportions. To question the worth of this, ministers repeatedly suggested, was to malign the hard work of pupils and teachers alike.
But what’s this? David Frost, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said recently that businesses are employing immigrants because they require young people who can “read, write, communicate and have a strong work ethic” and in British-born youths, “too often that’s not the case”. Sir Terry Leahy, the former boss of Tesco, has said that “standards in too many schools are simply not good enough” to prepare children for the world of work. The routine ignoring of another “unsayable” – that paper qualifications are not translating into skills or employability – has let down a generation of children.
Not so long ago, to voice the opinion that there should be a re-examination of immigration policy, that qualifications were ebbing in value, or even that the ideal of the European Union was expensive and unworkable, would be to outrage several bien-pensant orthodoxies at once. Today, they all sound like simple common sense. As the BBC has now realised, difficult topics do not evaporate because one ignores them: the unsayable has a way of becoming the unavoidable.
British power bills to soar by 30% in ‘green’ reforms
Household electricity bills will soar by 30 per cent to pay for “green” measures being announced this week by Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, according to experts.
Costly new incentives to encourage energy companies to invest in renewable power sources such as wind farms will put an extra £160 a year on the average household bill over the next 20 years.
The huge rise is on top of drastic increases in bills being faced already by consumers. Last Friday British Gas, which posted profits of £742million last year, announced gas price rises of 18 per cent, which followed Scottish Power saying it would increase rises of 10 to 15 per cent.
Mr Huhne is expected to announce on Tuesday that energy companies, such as Centrica and EDF, will get a fixed price for electricity generated from nuclear power and wind farms, which will be higher than the market price.
The financial incentives will be funded by consumers, who will see their electricity bills rise by 30 per cent over the next 20 years from an average of £493 per year to £655 per year.
Experts predicted that single pensioners will be the hardest hit by the changes, because power bills represent a higher proportion of their income than for any other group.
The price-rise calculation does not include the effect of power companies’ recent charging announcements which have seen electricity bills soar to their highest ever levels for millions of customers.
Dr Michael Pollitt and Laura Platchkov, experts from the University of Cambridge and the Energy Policy Research Group, said in a report: “A 47pc increase in electricity unit costs, envisaged under the electricity market reform, would send UK electricity prices towards being the highest in the European Union.”
Their research for the Consumers’ Association concluded that the worst hit sector of society will be single pensioners.
The costly package due to be outlined in full this week is designed to reassure generation companies that Britain is an attractive place to build nuclear power stations and wind farms.
Mr Huhne admitted in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph last year that there was no money available for direct state subsidies for a new generation of nuclear plants, so this week’s announcement sets out how consumers will shoulder the cost of incentives directly.
The changes to be outlined by Mr Huhne this week will hand billions of pounds in subsidies to the energy companies and kick-start a construction programme creating thousands of jobs.
But combined with further green taxes, such as the European emissions trading scheme, and upgrades to Britain’s national grid the measures could see Britain’s gas and electricity bills rise by 50 per cent – or £500 per average household bill – according to Ofgem, the energy regulator.
It is understood the Government will not set the exact level of the subsidies on Tuesday. But it will confirm the mechanism is likely to be a “contract for difference” model which effectively imposes a surcharge on bills to make market prices attractive for new investment in wind and nuclear power.
But opponents claim wind farms are blighting the countryside while failing to deliver a reliable supply of electricity.
It is also understood that Mr Huhne’s long-awaited announcement on energy policy will delay a separate subsidy for power station owners, known as capacity payments, while there is further consultation.
It is understood there have been disagreements in government over whether the incentive should be given to all technologies, including coal and gas, or just low-carbon ones like nuclear and wind farms.
The Government last night insisted that leaving the electricity system as it is would be more costly in the long run. It believes switching to nuclear and wind makes sense because European Union-led taxes on gas and coal power generation will increase the costs of fossil fuel generation.
Britain’s broken schools: Violent behaviour in classrooms DOUBLES in just one year
Violent behaviour in our classrooms has doubled in just a year. Almost 1,000 pupils – some as young as five – are excluded for abuse or assault every school day, compared to 452 last year. Major assaults on staff have also reached a five-year high, with 44 teachers taken to hospital last year.
The figures, from an official Government report, lay bare the full extent of the mayhem in our classrooms. Astonishingly, one in four teaching staff has been the subject of a false allegation by pupils. These range from sexual abuse to verbal assault. One in six has had a false allegation made against them by a member of a pupil’s family.
The worrying trends have led two-thirds of teachers to consider leaving the profession, according to the Department for Education.
Former deputy head Katharine Birbalsingh – dismissed after criticising behaviour in state schools at last year’s Tory conference – said violence was escalating because the school system was ‘broken’. She said: ‘Pushing and shoving and worse forms of violence are a huge problem. The problem is the endemic culture of blame in schools – bad behaviour is also attributed to bad teaching. ‘Management push this theory, children use it as an excuse, and teachers themselves begin to believe it.
‘You have a situation where struggling teachers will not seek help for fear of looking incompetent. And meanwhile children are left to think that they can get away with anything and push the boundaries.’ A recent series of attacks – ranging from stabbing to rape – support the report’s findings that violent behaviour is soaring in the classroom.
Experts have blamed soft parenting and teaching for creating a generation unable to respect authority or interact socially without lashing out. They fear parents struggling to juggle the pressures of modern life are unable to spend quality time with their children. Instead many are left unsupervised in front of a TV or computer.
Nick Seaton of the Campaign for Real Education said: ‘Adults fail to teach discipline and a respect for authority. ‘At a tender age children are told they are the centre of the universe and it makes them too self-centred and totally uncontrollable.’
There were almost 1,000 exclusions every day in England’s schools last year. This compares with 452 per day the previous year – 2008/2009. In addition, one in four children have been bullied at school and one in five have been a victim of bullying outside school.
Charlie Taylor, the Coalition’s ‘behaviour tsar’, said: ‘Behaviour is good at most schools, but these figures demonstrate concerning levels of violence in a small number. ‘This kind of behaviour is a serious disruption to teaching and learning. It is a major factor in deterring good people from becoming teachers and is a common reason for experienced teachers to leave the profession.’
dossier of violence
The Department for Education today publishes guidance for teachers on how to deal with bad behaviour.
Ministers want to ‘unequivocally restore adult authority to the classroom’. They have axed Labour’s 600 page guidance – which they claim confused teachers – and have replaced it with just 52 pages. The new measures, to be introduced in September, say all schools should scrap existing ‘no touch’ policies.
At present, teachers are not allowed to touch a child in the course of teaching them a musical instrument or helping them in an accident.
Teachers will also be able to use reasonable force to eject unruly pupils. And heads will be able to search without consent for an extended list of banned items such as alcohol, illegal drugs and stolen property.
Ministers will also place an onus on schools to crack down on bullying. In addition, pupils who make false allegations will face suspension, expulsion, or criminal prosecution.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: ‘This new, clear and concise guidance removes the red tape that has stopped teachers from being confident in maintaining discipline in the classroom.’
Disciplinarian Sir Michael Wilshaw, who turned the worst school in England into one of best, has been tipped for the post of chief inspector of schools. Education Secretary Michael Gove has approached the headmaster of Mossbourne Academy, in London, to persuade him to accept the vacant £180,000 post at Ofsted.
Sir Michael takes an uncompromising view towards substandard behaviour. He imposes strict penalties on pupils who do not do their homework and has a zero tolerance approach to disruptive behaviour.
Use ‘reasonable force’ on classroom yobs, British teachers told
Teachers are being told to use force to physically control unruly pupils under a back-to-basics crackdown on bad behaviour in schools
Staff in England should use “reasonable” measures to remove disruptive children from classrooms, break-up fights and stop pupils attacking other teachers or classmates.
New guidance published today says it “may not always be possible to avoid injuring pupils” while using restraining techniques in the most extreme circumstances.
Some schools currently impose sweeping “no touch” policies to avoid being sued by parents after children are gripped or held by staff. But the new guidance explicitly bans these policies, and even says heads should not automatically suspend teachers accused of using “excessive force” on young people.
The changes come amid Government claims that the balance of power in schools has swung too far towards pupils in recent years. According to figures, major assaults on staff reached a five-year high in 2010, with 44 being rushed to hospital with serious injuries.
Almost 1,000 children are suspended from school for abuse and assault every day and two-thirds of teachers admit bad behaviour is driving professionals out of the classroom.
New guidance is intended to outline the tactics staff can use – and punishments that can be meted out – to control disruptive pupils. The “clear” advice is just 52 pages long compared with the 600 pages of documents on behaviour issued by Labour.
Charlie Taylor, a top head teacher and the Government’s new behaviour tsar, said: “For far too long, teachers have been buried under guidance and reports on how to tackle bad behaviour. The new guidance will help teachers to be able to do their job without lessons being disrupted and schools to feel confident when they address behaviour issues.”
The guidelines are intended to be used by more than 21,000 state schools in England. Under the rules, schools are told to:
* Consider calling in police to prosecute pupils who make serious false allegations against staff;
* Resolve the vast majority of accusations made by pupils within a month and ensure unfounded claims are not included in teachers’ records;
* Punish pupils for misbehaviour and bullying committed outside schools, including at evenings and weekends;
* Search pupils’ clothing, bags and lockers for drugs, alcohol, weapons and stolen goods without their consent;
* Consider forcing all pupils to undergo airport-style screening checks as they enter school even if they are not suspected of carrying weapons;
* Require all parents to sign “home school agreements” and apply to the courts for £50 spot fines or parenting orders if sons or daughters regularly misbehave or skip classes.
Some of the most comprehensive guidance covers the use of “reasonable force” to restrain pupils. This can include standing between pupils or physically blocking their path, guiding children by the arm or holding youngsters to get them under control.
Staff should “always try to avoid acting in a way that might cause injury, but in extreme cases it may not always be possible to avoid injuring the pupil”, the document says.
Physical force can be used to break up fights, stop children attacking classmates or teachers and to remove disruptive children from lessons or school events.
Schools do not need parents’ permission to use force and must not automatically suspend staff who are accused of using excessive force against children, says the guidance.
In a further conclusion, it makes clear that staff can also make physical contact in other circumstances such as holding children’s hands, comforting distressed pupils, patting them on the back or demonstrating sports techniques during PE without fear of being labelled as paedophiles.
The Government also said it was legislating to give accused staff full anonymity – until cases reach court – to ensure false allegations do not stain teachers’ careers. It also wants to remove the legal requirement on schools to give parents 24 hours’ notice of detentions.
Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, said: “This new, clear and concise guidance removes the red tape that has stopped teachers from being confident in maintaining discipline in the classroom. It will also help schools promote good behaviour.
“We know that the majority of pupils are well-behaved and want others to behave well too. The role of the Government is to give schools the freedom and support they need to provide a safe and structured environment in which teachers can teach and children can learn.”
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up — on his usual vastly “incorrect” themes of race, genes, IQ etc. He also has some extensive thoughts about the closure of the world’s biggest circulation newspaper — Britain’s “News of the World”