NHS boss threatens to ‘name and shame’ hospitals over DVT deaths
Hospitals where patients die unnecessarily from blood clots in the legs will be “named and shamed”, an NHS leader has warned.
Sir Bruce Keogh said it was “absolutely disgraceful” that some 25,000 patients die every year after developing Deep Vein Thrombosis on hospital wards. Many suffer because fewer than half of trusts assess inpatients’ risk level when they are admitted, despite the threat of Department of Health fines.
Sir Bruce, the NHS’s Medical Director, told trusts they need to “get a grip” on the avoidable problem and said that detailed figures on deaths will be published as soon as they are collected.
In an interview for Radio 4’s Face the Facts programme, he said: “Those figures are absolutely disgraceful. The trust boards responsible for those organisations need to take a very serious look at those figures and get a grip on it. Because I don’t think in the sort of NHS that I want to work in and be treated in I don’t think that level of practice is acceptable.
“I have a network of regional medical directors and we will be turning our attention to those hospitals. Attacking this problem is a professional, moral and social responsibility for the professionals.
“I am a great believer that quality is driven by public awareness and programmes such as this. Once we are satisfied we have got good data we will be naming and shaming these hospitals. This is the number one clinical priority for me and for my colleagues.”
Hospital inpatients are particularly likely to develop DVT – blood clots that can lead to fatal blockages in the lungs known as pulmonary embolisms – because the risks increase among those who are immobile, obese, pregnant, unable to move their legs or suffering from heart disease or cancer.
Because long-distance travellers are also at risk, airlines have for several years recommended that passengers wear compression stockings and stretch their legs in the cabin.
Yet the Department of Health in England only last year stated that all patients should be assessed for their risk of developing a blood clot upon admission, and if necessary given blood-thinning drugs. Despite this, figures obtained by Face the Facts show that only 43 per cent of hospital trusts are assessing 90 per cent of adult inpatients as required.
It is estimated that 25,000 people die in England each year – more than the combined toll from breast cancer, Aids and traffic accidents – after developing DVT and a pulmonary embolism in hospital. However the true figure could be higher still, since post mortems are not carried out on all those who die in hospital.
In addition, NHS trusts have paid out £110million in compensation to sufferers of hospital-acquired DVT over the past six years.
Cleared: the British teacher fired for grabbing disruptive boy’s arm
A teacher falsely accused of assaulting a disruptive pupil won his battle to clear his name yesterday. Despite 33 years of unblemished service, Ronnie Lane was sacked after the 15-year-old claimed the arts teacher had seized his arm and left him with scratch marks.
School chiefs rejected Mr Lane’s defence that he simply touched the boy’s arm while asking him to let go of a classmate’s painting. Yesterday an employment tribunal backed Mr Lane’s version of events, ruling he had been unfairly dismissed two years ago.
The 56-year-old produced evidence from a senior retired police officer indicating the boy’s injuries had been self inflicted. His victory follows the publication of shock figures that show one in four school staff has been the subject of false allegations by pupils.
Mr Lane was teaching art to a class of 20 GCSE students at West Derby School in Liverpool when the boy – identified only as Student J – started disrupting the lesson. When J grabbed another pupil’s coursework, Mr Lane told the tribunal he placed his hand on J’s wrist to take it, at which the teenager replied: ‘Get off or I’ll stab your eye out.’
He went to fetch another teacher, but a few minutes later J, who has special needs, alleged that scratch marks on his arm had been left by Mr Lane’s fingernails.
He was suspended, and following a number of hearings, including an unsuccessful appeal, sacked for gross misconduct. But later one pupil came forward to say he saw J injure himself. Giving evidence at the tribunal, the witness said: ‘He was digging his left hand into his right arm and applying pressure to his arm. ‘Mr Lane did touch him but it was just a limp-wristed gesture.’
Yesterday the tribunal upheld the married teacher’s claims for both unfair and wrongful dismissal. Its detailed findings will be published later, and a further hearing will be held to determine compensation.
Geoff Scargill, his Association of Teachers and Lecturers representative, said: ‘Ronnie is, of course, pleased with the judgment and is waiting to read the details.’
Andy Peart, head of legal and member services at the ATL, said: ‘We are delighted that Mr Lane has been vindicated. The employment tribunal judgment was a victory for justice. ‘The school treated Mr Lane grossly unfairly despite a 33-year unblemished record teaching there and have blighted his teaching career. We hope the compensation takes this into account when the employment tribunal meets this later this year.’
In a deprived area of Liverpool, West Derby School has been rated outstanding by Ofsted and praised for its ‘exceptional’ record in ensuring pupils exceed expectations. However it was struck by tragedy last year when a teacher was found dead at her home amid allegations she had been bullied by senior staff.
Janet McCabe, 51, died days after being told she faced suspension over allegations of giving students excessive help before a languages exam. An inquest could not ascertain the cause of her death.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has pledged to tackle bad behaviour blighting schools and driving teachers out of the profession. Measures to be introduced in September include scrapping ‘no touch rules’, for example when teaching pupils a musical instrument.
Pupils who make false allegations will face suspension, expulsion or even criminal proceedings.
Church of England dying — and a bishop shows why
The Church of England will cease to exist in 20 years as the current generation of elderly worshippers dies, Anglican leaders warned yesterday.
The average age of its members is now 61 and by 2020 a “crisis” of “natural wastage” will lead to their numbers falling “through the floor”, the Church’s national assembly was told. The Church was compared to a company “impeccably” managing itself into failure, during exchanges at the General Synod in York.
The warnings follow an internal report calling for an urgent national recruitment drive to attract more members. In the past 40 years, the number of adult churchgoers has halved, while the number of children attending regular worship has declined by four fifths.
The Rev Dr Patrick Richmond, a Synod member from Norwich, told the meeting that some projections suggested that the Church would no longer be “functionally extant” in 20 years’ time. “The perfect storm we can see arriving fast on the horizon is the ageing congregations,” he said. “The average age is 61 now, with many congregations above that.
“These congregations will be led by fewer and fewer stipendiary clergy … 2020 apparently is when our congregations start falling through the floor because of natural wastage, that is people dying. “Another 10 years on, some extrapolations put the Church of England as no longer functionally extant at all.”
Andreas Whittam Smith, the first Church Estates Commissioner, who leads the Church’s £5.3 billion investment fund, said the demographic “time bomb” for Anglicans should be seen as “a crisis”. He told the assembly: “One of our problems may be that decline is so slow and imperceptible that we don’t really see it coming clearly enough.
“I have seen large companies perfectly and impeccably manage themselves into failure. Every step along the road has been well done. “Every account is neatly signed off.” Then finally they find they have “gone bust”, he said. “I sometimes feel the Church is a bit like that.” He added: “I wish that all of us would have a sense of real crisis about this.”
And a bishop unwittingly exhibits some of the politically correct attitudes behind the decline. The church’s gospel is boring political correctness, not the love of Christ
Maths lessons are too “capitalist” and should be reformed to promote Christian values, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, told Synod.
The meeting heard that teachers should not illustrate lessons with examples of “profit and loss”, or encourage children to save in order to buy bikes or toys.
Instead, lessons should focus on the maths involved in giving donations to charity, saving for an overseas project, or even “tithing” – giving 10 per cent of one’s income to the Church, Synod members said.
In his speech to the assembly, Bishop Butler said: “We need to explore different models from a Christian perspective of how we approach all the curriculum, not just RE.”
British squatters to face prison under plans for new offence
At long last
Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, wants to end so-called “squatters rights” and give home owners and businesses more powers to act against those who take over properties. A consultation to be launched today proposes introducing a new offence of squatting which could carry a jail sentence.
Business owners would also be given the legal right to force their way in to their own properties if squatters have taken over. Currently only home owners are allowed to force their way back in to their homes.
Police and other enforcement agencies will also be encouraged to prosecute squatters for any other related offences such as criminal damage, burglary and using electricity without permission. It follows a separate Government announcement of plans to end access to legal aid for squatters fighting eviction.
There are an estimated 100,000 incidents of squatting every year. A Ministry of Justice source said: “Squatting causes misery for hundreds of innocent home owners and businesses each year and it is clear we must make a stance and do the right thing
“Ken Clarke is clear that the current outdated system which works in favour of the squatter must go. “The consultation we are launching is the first step to making that happen. Ken Clarke was aghast to find that not only do rightful owners face an uphill struggle evicting squatters if they take over a property but currently the taxpayer through legal aid can foot the bill for any squatter who tries to fight eviction
“Our new bill will put a stop to that while we investigate making squatting more generally a criminal offence.”
Meat cleavers, bayonets and axes: The weapons seized from children as young as six at British schools
Hundreds of deadly weapons are being seized at schools each year from children as young as six, disturbing figures reveal. The shocking arsenal includes a meat cleaver, an axe, a bayonet and a knife found on a Year 1 primary school pupil.
Some 1,145 weapons were confiscated between 2006 and 2010 according to the results of a Freedom of Information request to Britain’s 52 police forces. Only half responded, meaning the official figure is likely to be more than 2,200 – an average of around 440 weapons seizures each year.
Education sources said this represents ‘the thin end of the wedge’ as most blades and other dangerous items are smuggled into schools without being detected. The figures were released in the same week that an official Government report exposed a doubling of violent incidents in schools to almost 1,000 in just a year.
Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘Teachers are telling us on the quiet that pupils have taken control of schools. ‘For a lot of youngsters weapons and violence are becoming normal parts of their lives. ‘Teachers must be more ready to work together to tackle youngsters with weapons, exclude them from schools and call police.’ ‘It shows how badly the situation has deteriorated and why something must be done about it.
‘There are solutions like knife arches or searches but the fact these things are being found shows the vast majority of teachers are aware children could be carrying weapons. ‘These serious weapons youngsters are bringing into school shows how discipline in schools is deteriorating. ‘In general I believe schools are safe but with this sort of behaviour they can be very dangerous.’
The array of weapons includes a six-year-old child caught armed with a knife by Strathclyde Police in 2009. Police in Surrey seized a sword from a 19-year-old in 2010 and a one-foot long bayonet from a 15-year-old in 2008. The figures also show two 10-year-olds carrying knives in Lancashire, a 13-year-old with a meat cleaver in Strathclyde in 2009 and an eight year-old with a knife in Grampian. In Lincolnshire a 15-year-old was caught carrying an axe in 2009 and an 11-year-old was found with a snooker ball in a sock in 2008. A cosh was seized from a 15-year-old by West Mercia Police in 2009 and knives taken from two nine-year-olds in Leicestershire in 2006 and 2009. In Lancashire a 12-year-old was caught carrying a lock knife in 2006 and two 10-year-olds found with knives in 2008.
This week the Government issued new guidance to schools, which reveals that from September teachers can use force on disruptive children ending the ‘no touch’ policy. The guidance allows teachers to use reasonable force to eject unruly pupils, break up fights and search them for weapons Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said searching pupils at schools risks turning them into ‘airport style security’.
She said: ‘There is a danger that concentrating on the small minority of badly behaved pupils will bring about an unhelpful change in the schools’ culture if airport style security measures and frisking are seen as normal. ‘Schools work hard to develop and maintain relationships of trust between pupils and teachers which heavy handed tactics, in response to a problem which is confined to the minority, may not always be the best solution and are more likely to escalate rather than defuse potentially difficult situations.’
Katharine Birbalsingh, the deputy head dismissed after speaking out about pupils’ behaviour at last year’s Tory conference, said the reinstatement of teachers’ powers would help tackle the problem but it would ‘take years’ to replace the authority that had been eroded.
Strathclyde Police seized the most weapons, 373, followed by Kent Police with 125, Lancashire Constabulary 81 and Leicestershire Police 80 Schools in Thames Valley Police area suffered the most crimes – 2,943 – followed by Kent Police with 2,081. Strathclyde Police also made 199 drugs seizures ahead of Durham Constabulary, 158, Humberside, 105, and Surrey, 99.
The DfE also revealed that nearly half a million children play truant for the equivalent of one whole month every school year. Some 430,000 of England’s six million pupils aged five to 16 skip more than 15 per cent of their lessons, while 184,000 miss 20 per cent – the level defined as ‘persistently absent’.
In an effort to tackle the worsening truancy rates the DfE yesterday reduced this level to 15 per cent and will name and shame schools to force head teachers to address the problem.
Charlie Taylor, the Coalition’s behaviour tsar, said: ‘Over time these pupils are lost to the system and can fall into anti-social behaviour and crime.’
Drinking too much water ‘can be bad for your health’: Benefits are a myth
It is said to help us prevent kidney damage, lose weight and increase concentration levels. But experts now warn that drinking eight glasses of water a day is not good for you after all – and could be harmful. They say that scientific claims behind long-standing government guidelines are worse than ‘nonsense’.
The NHS – along with leading doctors and nutritionists – advises the public to drink about 1.2 litres (or two-and-a-half pints) of water per day. However, a report describes the danger of dehydration as a ‘myth’ and says there is no evidence behind claims that water prevents multiple health problems.
Glasgow-based GP Margaret McCartney says the NHS Choices website’s advice that people should drink six to eight glasses a day is ‘not only nonsense, but thoroughly debunked nonsense’. She adds that the benefits of the drink are often exaggerated by ‘organisations with vested interests’ such as bottled water brands.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, Dr McCartney also points out that research shows drinking when not thirsty can impair concentration, rather than boost it, and separate evidence suggests that chemicals used for disinfection found in bottled water could be bad for your health.
Drinking excessive amounts can also lead to loss of sleep as people have to get up in the night to go to the toilet, and other studies show it can even cause kidney damage, instead of preventing it.
Worryingly, Dr McCartney also warns that taking on too much water can lead to a rare but potentially fatal condition called hyponatraemia, which sees the body’s salt levels drop and can lead to swelling of the brain.
In 2003 actor Anthony Andrews, who starred in the ITV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, was hit by the illness after drinking too much water during rehearsals for a West End role.
Another doctor quoted in the article adds there is no basis for claims that water helps people to lose weight by suppressing their appetite. Professor Stanley Goldfarb, a metabolism expert from the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S., says: ‘The current evidence is that there really is no evidence. ‘If children drank more water rather than getting extra calories from soda, that’s good ….. [but] there is no evidence that drinking water before meals reduces appetite during a meal.’
About 2.06 billion litres of bottled water was drunk in Britain last year, compared with 1.42 billion litres in 2000. Despite this increase we still drink three times as much tea, and five times as much beer.