Overweight patients ‘dying because NHS is poorly prepared for obesity epidemic’
Bear in mind that obesity is not usually curable. Most people who lose weight through dieting subsequently regain that weight, often ending up heavier than ever — JR
Overweight patients have died or suffered lasting harm because the NHS is ‘poorly prepared’ to deal with the rise in obesity, a report warns. It reveals that some obese patients have been the victims of surgical errors and poor assessment of their needs, as well as a lack of staff and equipment to care for them safely.
Bigger trolleys, beds and wheelchairs are needed – with more than half of women and almost two-thirds of men likely to be obese by 2050, according to official estimates.
More staff and better training are essential as obese patients can be unintentionally harmed during surgery and may be prescribed insufficient drugs because their weight is not being taken into account, says a report published online in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, which is based on data reported to the National Patient Safety Agency.
Doctors from Central Manchester University Hospitals analysed all incident reports relating to obesity over a period of three years from 2005 to 2008 to identify any common themes. Altogether, 555 patient safety incidents were reported, of which 389 related to obesity, including 148 incidents related to its assessment, diagnosis or treatment.
More than one in ten incidents was classified as causing moderate harm to obese patients, with four suffering severe harm and three dying. Around 63 incidents were associated with anaesthesia, such as difficulty in being able to ventilate a patient or clear their airway, with some patients being deprived of oxygen as a result. There were 27 incidents involving critical care, most of which were pressure sores, while surgical errors included haemorrhage, unintended damage to organs surrounding the operation site and deep vein thrombosis.
Most incidents involved equipment not being able to take the weight of obese patients, with specially adapted apparatus either not available or normal equipment not working properly under the circumstances. In 27 instances there were too few staff available to move an obese patient safely.
Lead researcher Dr John Moore said: ‘The occurrence of incidents resulting in severe harm or death highlights the specific dangers associated with the care of the obese patient. ‘Further planning and development of operation policies is needed to ensure the safe delivery of healthcare to patients.’
Charles? He’s just a snake-oil salesman: Professor attacks prince on ‘dodgy’ alternative remedies
Prince Charles has been branded a ‘snake-oil salesman’ by Britain’s first professor of complementary medicine for supporting ‘dodgy’ alternative therapies.
Professor Edzard Ernst claimed yesterday that the prince’s backing for ‘unproven and disproven’ remedies was an attempt to smuggle them into the NHS despite scientific evidence showing they could be dangerous.
Prof Ernst, who set up Exeter University’s Centre for Complementary Medicine in 1993, left his post last month after claiming that a row with a senior aide to the prince had led to the withdrawal of support from university managers and the drying up of research funds.
He has carried out a series of scientific investigations into complementary medicine such as homeopathy and herbal remedies over the past decade.
Yesterday Prof Ernst told a conference in London that he found evidence that around 20 therapies were useful for various conditions, ranging from Co-enzyme Q10 supplements for high blood pressure to St John’s wort herbal pills for depression.
But the evidence was lacking for alternative therapies such as chiropractic, detox, herbal slimming aids, cancer cures, and homeopathy – which has long been championed by the prince and other members of the Royal Family.
He said such remedies were being peddled by ‘snake-oil salesmen and pseudo science’ and were dangerous to the public, who might be put directly at risk or as a result of rejecting conventional medicine in favour of ‘dodgy’ remedies. Asked whether he classified the prince as a snake-oil salesman, Prof Ernst replied: ‘Yes.’
In a comment for the Journal of Internal Medicine, the professor, who has been nicknamed the Quackbuster for his efforts to root out alternative remedies for which he can find no evidence, criticised the concept of integrated, or integrative, medicine. This advocates treating the patient with conventional and complementary approaches and is backed by the prince.
Prof Ernst said it covered a ‘wide range of unproven and disproven’ therapies, and was ‘nothing other than a cloak of respectability disguising alternative medicine’. He wrote: ‘At best, integrative medicine is well meaning but naive, at worst it represents muddled or even fraudulent concepts with little potential to serve the needs of patients.’
He said he suspected that Prince Charles wanted to get the NHS to supply more alternative therapies despite the lack of scientific evidence for many of them. The prince’s complementary health charity, the Foundation for Integrated Health, closed last year amid a criminal investigation into fraud and money-laundering.
Prof Ernst has clashed with the prince before. He accused him of ‘exploiting a gullible public’ by putting his name to a detox treatment in his Duchy Originals brand. The £10 Duchy Herbals Detox Tincture relied on ‘superstition and quackery’ rather than science and the range should be re-named ‘Dodgy Originals’, he said.
Prof Ernst, 63, has also blamed a row with the prince’s office five years ago for forcing his early retirement from Exeter’s complementary medicines unit in June – two years early. He attacked a report advocating complementary medicine, commissioned by the prince, as ‘outrageous and deeply flawed’.
This prompted a formal complaint from Sir Michael Peat, the prince’s private secretary. Prof Ernst said he had been cleared after a long investigation but blamed lack of support from the university coupled with lack of research funding for a closure threat to the unit.
He claimed he had offered to go if it would save the unit, and his offer was accepted by Professor Steve Thornton, the new dean of the university’s Peninsula Medical School, who agreed to fund the appointment of a successor. A university spokesman said: ‘We are looking to replace Professor Ernst on his retirement with another specialist in complementary medicine. ‘We will support that person to raise funds to enable research to continue, but have earmarked £234,000 to support the centre over the next 12 months.’
Eviction of travellers from Britain’s biggest gypsy camp delayed while bailiffs undergo ‘cultural awareness training’
400 travellers to be moved on next month after being at the site for ten years
A multi-million pound eviction of travellers from Europe’s largest illegal camp could be delayed because bailiffs supposedly need ‘cultural awareness training’.
Hundreds of people are set to be removed from Dale Farm near Crays Hill in Essex next month, after years of legal battles. But Basildon Council has started approaching travellers’ groups for bespoke training, ‘specifically for the forced removal of gipsy and traveller women and children’.
Officials are looking for guidance as they fear the process, which is likely to spark violent confrontations, could breach equality legislation. However, one organisation has already refused the request and warns others would follow its lead.
Share, which promotes traveller health and welfare, revealed it had been approached by the council to train staff at Constant and Co, the firm of bailiffs appointed to deal with the situation. Chairman Tommy Mordacai said: ‘I just can’t believe they would contact us and ask about forcibly removing women and children.’
And in a formal response to the council, he wrote: ‘As you are from the inclusion and diversity team I would expect you to be able to understand and appreciate the serious long-term damage and health implications that the removal will have upon the women, children, and men.’
The stand-off means the operation, which is set to cost up to £18million, including police and bailiffs’ fees, plus returning the land to its former greenbelt status, faces being put on hold.
Travellers have lived on legal plots at Dale Farm for decades but hundreds began arriving in 2001 and set up home there without planning permission. Around 1,000 are based there now, almost half illegally. Many marched through nearby Gloucester Park to protest at the town hall over the eviction threat.
They are due to be removed on August 31 after a Court of Appeal ruling last year. But many have spoken openly of having pitched battles with the authorities. Barbed wire barricades and dangerous high-pressure canisters have been placed around the site in readiness for what some describe as a ‘state of war’.
But local resident Len Gridley, whose land is bordered by the travellers’ site, complained: ‘What training could the bailiffs possibly need? They do this job every day.’ Constant & Co, which regularly handles traveller evictions, yesterday refused to comment. But its website boasts that staff are ‘employed nationally on a daily basis to recover possession of land from unwanted trespassers’. It adds: ‘We are the most experienced, professional and busiest company in this type of work.’
A council spokesman said: ‘Share was just one organisation which has refused. ‘The funding has only just been finalised so this could not be arranged earlier. ‘We are confident that there will be an organisation which will provide the training.’
However, Richard Sheridan, president of the Gypsy Council, said: ‘I won’t be helping them with it. ‘Those bailiffs will be throwing women and children out from their homes. No amount of training can make them do that in a nicer way.’
British Headmaster resigns after being suspended for ‘manhandling’ 8-year-old – despite pupil’s family saying he did nothing wrong
A dedicated head accused of manhandling a disruptive pupil has been forced to resign, despite a parents’ protest and the staunch support of the mother and father of the ‘victim’.
James Gallogly, 45, was suspended from his £60,000 post at a primary school after it was alleged he pinned the autistic boy against a wall. However, the parents of Ryan Johns have given Mr Gallogly their full support and admitted their eight-year-old son is difficult to control.
Mr Gallogly was accused by a fellow teacher of using unnecessary force to control the pupil. But he was backed with a petition signed by 100 parents, who pleaded with governors to reinstate him for the good of the school and pupils.
When the governors refused, around 20 children were removed from the 160-pupil school by their angry parents. Now, after a seven-month investigation into Mr Gallogly’s ‘discipline methods’, he has resigned.
Last night Ryan’s parents, Adele Johns and David Deakin, condemned education chiefs for carrying out a ‘vindictive’ witch-hunt against a well-respected head. ‘This situation is a disgrace and the treatment of Mr Gallogly is appalling,’ said Miss Johns, 28.
Mr Deakin, 45, a carer, said: ‘We know Ryan is difficult. We were called in to school to be told Ryan was involved in the allegations against Mr Gallogly, but the communication we’ve had since has been terrible. ‘We don’t even know when this alleged incident is supposed to have taken place.’
Since Mr Gallogly’s suspension last December, five acting head teachers have been put in charge of the school at different times.
Miss Johns said her son’s education had suffered and his behaviour had deteriorated. Since the incident, he has been excluded for spitting and biting a teacher and throwing a chair at a member of staff.
The couple wrote a letter in support of Mr Gallogly and demanded his reinstatement at St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School in Wilmslow, Cheshire. They helped organise the petition and have withdrawn their other children, Emily, ten, and Afton, seven, from the school in protest.
‘The treatment of Mr Gallogly has been diabolical,’ said Cath Massey, another parent. ‘The governors of St Benedict’s need to be brought to task over this sorry episode.’
Parent Jack Fletcher added: ‘Mr Gallogly is a well-respected head teacher who has worked hard to bring the school up to the standard it is today. He spent numerous extra hours looking after the poorer and socially deprived children and always had time to speak to parents.’
After 12 years at the school, Mr Gallogly will officially finish at the end of August. Three other teachers are also set to leave the school. Mr Gallogly, who serves on the finance board of the Diocese of Shrewsbury, declined to comment at his home in Hazel Grove, Stockport.
But Cheshire East Council said he had been suspended after ‘other issues around his discipline methods’ came to light. A spokesman said: ‘Issues have been raised and they have been investigated properly, according to agreed procedures, with the full involvement of the school governors, who are the head teacher’s employers, and the Diocese of Shrewsbury. ‘Pupil turnover is slightly higher than normal, but it cannot be assumed that children leaving is as a result of the head teacher.’