How half our hospitals and care homes are failing the nation’s elderly

Once again: Don’t get old in Britain

Half of the UK’s hospitals and care homes are failing to look after patients, a damning report warns. Shockingly, nurses at some institutions are serving up people’s evening meals at 3pm – just because it is more convenient, inspectors found.

And several hospitals do not have enough nurses on wards to feed or wash patients, or help move them to prevent bedsores.

The critical report by the Care Quality Commission watchdog found that, in some hospitals, patients are wheeled away to have major surgery without doctors properly explaining details of the operation and the potential risks.

In addition, nurses arrive unannounced at elderly patients’ bedsides and strap blood pressure monitors round their arms without telling them what they are doing.

In a further example of the poor standards, it was noted that pills may be dumped in front of patients but nobody tells them what the medication is for or why it must be taken.

Campaigners warned that the basic care of the most vulnerable in society was being ‘cast aside’ as it was deemed ‘too costly or difficult’.

This latest report is yet further evidence of the poor treatment and neglect of the elderly in hospital wards and care homes.

The Daily Mail has long called for an end to this appalling standard of care as part of our Dignity for the Elderly Campaign.

Of the 137 hospitals visited by inspectors at the CQC in the last year, 49 per cent were found to be failing basic standards of care and wellbeing.

In a handful of cases, investigators found that ‘do not resuscitate’ orders had been placed in patients’ medical notes without informing them. Medical guidelines insist these orders – which tell doctors not to carry out CPR if someone’s heart stop beating – are issued only following discussion with a patient or their family.

Similarly, 49 per cent of 799 care homes inspected were deemed to be failing basic standards of care and wellbeing. Some 39 per cent were not protecting patients health and safety, the report found.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director of Age UK, said: ‘It’s not acceptable that NHS hospitals and care homes with nursing are not complying with basic minimum standards required for the wellbeing and welfare of older people.

‘It’s shocking to see that only half of NHS hospitals and care homes with nursing are meeting their obligation to provide effective, safe and appropriate treatment which meets their needs and protect their rights and that 30 per cent fail on nutrition, welfare and safety.

‘The demand for high quality of health and social care will only increase as our population continues to age. ‘The care of the most vulnerable in our society is one of the most important issues facing the country and too important to cast aside and be labelled as ‘too costly or difficult’.’

Earlier this year, another report by the CQC found that doctors in hospitals had resorted to prescribing patients drinking water alongside their medications because nurses had allowed them to become so dehydrated.

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Mothers-to-be at risk as parts of England are dangerously short of midwives

A dangerous shortage of midwives is putting the lives of mothers and babies at risk, experts have warned. While there are shortfalls across the country, some areas are worse than others, putting mothers and babies at risk, the Royal College of Midwives said.

The RCM said 4,700 more midwives were needed across England to keep up with added pressures, such as growing numbers of obese and older pregnant women. The college claims midwife numbers have not kept pace with the birthrate in England, which has risen 22 per cent in the past two decades.

Their figures showed the North East and North West had a shortfall of less than 10 per cent, while the East Midlands and east of England needed 41 per cent more midwives. Meanwhile, the South East is said to be more than a third short of staff.

Cathy Warwick, RCM’s general secretary told the BBC: ‘This is a real problem in England. ‘We believe women should have the same choice over giving birth wherever they live. Once you get to really critical shortfalls, maternity services won’t be safe.’

The calculations were made by measuring the number of midwives in an area against the number of babies born there. The disparity is a result of different levels of investment in different areas, the RCM said. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not have midwife shortages at the moment, it added.

The charity Action against Medical Accidents said the situation was becoming desperate in some areas. Chief executive Pater Walsh told the BBC: ‘Having a baby should be the happiest time in a couple’s life, but failure to deal with this problem is all too often turning it into a tragedy.’

The number of midwives has increased by 17.7 per cent from 2000 to 2010, according to the Department of Health. The country’s birthrate has risen 19.9 per cent in the same period, according to the Office for National Statistics. There were 26,825 midwives working in the UK at the end of September last year. There were 493 more midwives working in May 2011 than in May 2010.

A DoH spokeswoman said: ‘Record numbers (of midwives) entered training last year and there are 2,490 planned midwifery training places this year.

‘Safety is paramount in the NHS and all mothers and their babies should expect and receive consistently excellent maternity care. ‘Most women tell us that they feel positive about their maternity care experience. ‘The Care Quality Commission last year found that 94 per cent of women rated their care during labour and birth as “good, very good or excellent”. ‘This is a testament to the hard work that our maternity staff provide every day in the NHS.’

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Most migrants to Britain on a marriage visa have never visited the UK

Two-thirds of immigrants who come to Britain on a marriage visa have never before set foot in this country, it has emerged. Every year some 40,000 migrants enter the country either to marry or to join an existing spouse – bringing with them another 9,000 children and other dependants.

An examination of Home Office files from 2009 revealed 67 per cent were coming here for the first time.

The research will raise concerns that many of those coming here to marry or to join partners have little knowledge and understanding of British culture.

It will be published today as Immigration Minister Damian Green calls for support for Government plans to prevent family visas being used to bypass immigration laws. In a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, he will tell anyone attempting sham marriages or coming here to live off benefits that they are not welcome.

Mr Green will say: ‘These are sensitive issues which have been ignored for far too long but ones we are determined to tackle. ‘We want a system that lets everyone know where they stand and what their responsibilities are. ‘If your marriage is not genuine, if you have no interest in this country and its way of life, if you are coming here to live off benefits, don’t come in the first place.

‘That is why our focus is on delivering better family migration – better for migrants, for communities and for the UK as a whole.’

The research shows that around eight out of ten of those who arrived on family visas from Pakistani and Bangladesh in 2004 had settled here permanently within five years. That compares to just one in ten family migrants arriving from Australia.

Worryingly, one in five of those sponsoring marriage visas were either unemployed or was earning less than the minimum wage, the research found. One in three was living with family members or friends and not supporting themselves financially.

Last night Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: ‘A surprisingly high proportion of those granted marriage visas appear to be total newcomers to Britain. ‘An inflow of this kind can only add to continuing problems of integrating very large numbers of foreign migrants into our society.’

Mr Green will also condemn the abuse of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – the right to a private and family life – by foreign criminals to stay in the country. A series of outrageous rulings have allowed serious offenders to remain here despite breaking the law repeatedly.

Official figures show more than half the offenders who win their appeals do so using Article 8. Of the 162 cases lost by the Home Office in the last three months of last year, 99 were based on family life rulings.

Ministers are set to radically overhaul family immigration rules in coming months, including tough income tests for sponsors who want to bring in their partner. They will have to show they have the means to support both their partner and any children or other dependent relatives.

New powers will be given to register offices to refuse to marry people or insist on a delay if it is feared the marriage is not genuine, and tough new ‘Mr and Mrs’ style tests brought in to guard against sham marriages.

Spouses and partners would have to wait five years, rather than the current two, before they could apply to settle in the UK permanently, and the same period before they can claim benefits.

Ministers also want to rein in Article 8 by making it explicit in immigration rules what weight should be given to family rights.

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Soft sentencing blamed for British riot rampage as it is revealed two thirds had criminal past

Soft sentencing was last night blamed for allowing hardened criminals to go on the rampage during last month’s riots. Official figures showed two thirds of rioters with criminal histories have never tasted prison. That is despite rioters having amassed more than previous 16,000 offences between them – an average of 15 each. One in four of those charged over the riots has committed more than ten offences, and one in 20 has committed 50 or more.

It also emerged that one in ten charged for their part in the violence and looting were either serving a community sentence at the time of their arrest or were ‘on licence’ after release from prison.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said the statistics confirmed it was ‘existing criminals’ who had gone ‘on the rampage’.

Last week he revealed that nearly three quarters of rioters have criminal histories, and claimed this showed that the penal system was ‘broken’. He has also argued for sending fewer criminals to jail, saying that short sentences do not provide time for rehabilitation.

But criminologist Dr David Green, from the Civitas think-tank, said locking up would-be rioters would have been ‘100 per cent effective’ at preventing them from joining in the widespread looting. ‘Ken Clarke says prison doesn’t work to rehabilitate people and we need effective community punishments,’ he said.

‘But what these figures actually show is many of the rioters were hardened criminals who should have been in prison. If they had been they would not have been able to go rioting – it is 100 per cent effective at stopping crimes against the public.

‘We are talking about career criminals, and people like that deserve to be sent to prison for a prolonged period to protect ordinary people. There is no evidence that any community sentences are more successful than prison at rehabilitation.’

The figures confirmed that the courts are dishing out tougher punishments to rioters than ordinary offenders.

At five months, the average magistrates’ court jail term for a rioter is twice the average for non-riot crimes. Crown Court jail terms are more than 50 per cent higher.

Crown Court judges have jailed 90 per cent of the riot-related burglars they have dealt with, and every violent offender to have appeared in the dock. But very few riot cases have yet reached the courts.

The Ministry of Justice figures showed 1,715 convicted criminals stand accused of involvement in the riots that hit English cities between August 6 and 9, causing millions of pounds in damage.

Of the 1,561 whose criminal histories were examined by statisticians, nearly three-quarters – a total of 1,133 – had at least one criminal offence to their name. Although the vast majority of offenders were under 25, they have amassed 16,598 offences – or an average of 15 each. But only 406 had ever received a jail term, compared with 727 who had received community punishments, cautions, and other non-custodial sentences. Nearly two thirds were serious offences, including burglary, robbery, drugs crimes and violence.

Mr Clarke said: ‘These figures confirm that existing criminals were on the rampage. I congratulate the courts for delivering swift and firm justice, which stopped the riots spreading further.

‘I am dismayed to see a hard core of repeat offenders back in the system. This reinforces my determination to introduce radical changes to ensure both effective punishment and reform to tackle reoffending.’

In the Guardian last week, he wrote: ‘Close to three quarters of those aged 18 or over charged with riot offences already had a prior conviction. ‘That is the legacy of a broken penal system – one whose record in preventing reoffending has been straightforwardly dreadful.

‘The riots can be seen in part as an outburst of outrageous behaviour by the criminal classes – individuals and families familiar with the justice system who haven’t been changed by past punishments.’

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British schools go back to basics with return of phonics tests for six-year-olds

Long overdue

Every six-year-old will be tested on their ability to read words such as ‘cat’, ‘zoo’ and ‘pride’ as part of a return to traditional teaching. Schools minister Nick Gibb will today announce that every six year old will be screened with a 10-minute test during one week of June from 2012.

The tests will be based on phonics – where pupils learn the sounds of letters and groups of letters before putting them together. It is a move away from the ‘trendy’ teaching methods which have been blamed on the decline of youngsters’ grasp of the 3Rs.

Around one in six seven-year-olds and one in five 11-year-olds fail to reach the levels expected of their age group in reading, according to official statistics.

Ministers hope the test will enable teachers to pinpoint any child struggling with reading at an early stage – so they can be given extra help.

The announcement follows the successful completion of a pilot scheme in 300 schools this summer. A report, published today, shows almost half of teachers, 43 per cent, discovered pupils with reading problems of which they were not previously aware.

It is therefore hoped that the national tests will flag up the needs of thousands of struggling youngsters each year.

Mr Gibb, said: ‘There is no doubt we need to raise standards of reading. Only last month we learnt that one in 10 boys aged 11 can read no better than a seven-year-old. ‘The new check is based on a method that is internationally proven to get results and the evidence from the pilot is clear – thousands of six-year-olds, who would otherwise slip through the net.’

At present, pupils in England are assessed in Year 2 by their teachers in English, maths and science.

Phonics focuses on sounds rather than, for example, having children try to recognise whole words. In analytic phonics, words are broken down into their beginning and end parts, such as ‘str-’ and ‘eet’, with an emphasis on ‘seeing’ the words and analogy with other words.

In synthetic phonics, children start by sequencing the individual sounds in words – for example, ‘s-t-r-ee-t’, with an emphasis on blending them together. Once they have learned all these, they progress to reading books.

Mr Gove has said he believes that it is impossible for schools to drill pupils to pass the new test. Some teachers are unconvinced by the move, believing reading is best taught using a mixture of methods.

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Assistant head who ‘shoved’ 15-year-old pupil who swore at him is cleared of assault

An assistant head teacher, who was accused of assaulting a 15-year-old pupil, has been cleared. William Stuart, 47, was today found not guilty of assaulting the girl at Graham School in Scarborough following a two-day trial.

After the verdict was read out the court erupted into cheers largely from dozens of Mr Stuart’s supporters from the local community. The teacher’s wife, Sarah, who had been anxiously sitting in court, burst into tears at the news.

Mr Stuart, who has 23 years of unblemished experience, was charged after the girl, who cannot be named, claimed the science teacher shoved her to the ground and against some coat pegs.

It was alleged that Mr Stuart had become angry and ‘out of control’ after the pupil ignored his instructions to stay behind when food was smeared on the wall of the school canteen.

But chairman of the bench Paul Osborne said the girl’s evidence was inconsistent and did not tally with that of two other pupils who gave evidence for the prosecution.

Ian Glen QC, defending, had earlier told the court 19 incidents were detailed in the school’s bad behaviour log from September 2009 to July 2011 about the girl’s poor attitude in class and on school grounds. The court also heard the girl has already been excluded this term after assaulting another pupil.

Mr Osborne said her terrible school record did nothing for her credibility, especially as she tried to tell the court she was a good pupil.

He said: ‘Mr Stuart’s evidence was credible and convincing. ‘He has a 23-year unblemished teaching record across several schools.’

Speaking after the hearing, Anne Swift, from the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said the strain of the case has had an ‘enormous impact’ on Mr Stuart’s family. She said teachers accused in this way should be granted anonymity until they are convicted by a court. Mrs Swift said: ‘He (Mr Stuart) was made to feel a criminal before anything was found.

‘It’s too easy for youngsters and their families to make false accusations. There should be consequences for those who make false allegations.’

Mrs Swift said both his children went to the school where he teaches and, because of the accusation, he was not able to see his daughter’s final concert before she left. Asked how she would describe Mr Stuart, she said: ‘An excellent teacher. A man of a good character. A pillar of the community.’

Mrs Swift said she also believed a matter like this should never have involved the police at all and should have been dealt with internally.

Asked whether Mr Stuart would return to his job, she said: ‘It would be a great loss to his profession to have an experienced teacher decide they can’t face it any more.’

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About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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