Untrained healthcare assistants leave patients unfed and in pain, claims nursing watchdog
The lack of formal training for thousands of NHS healthcare assistants is leaving patients “unfed” and “in pain”, the head of Britain’s nursing watchdog has warned. Dickon Weir-Hughes argued that the hundreds of complaints made about carers each year were not being addressed as officials were powerless to act.
The chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) urged government ministers to set compulsory standards for the growing army of assistants.
He also called for the introduction of separate uniforms in hospitals to enable patients and their families to distinguish between unregulated assistants and qualified nurses.
“What’s worrying is when we get complaints about a so-called nurse but they turn out not to be a nurse. In other words it’s somebody who looks like a nurse, who is doing some things people associate with nursing, but is not a nurse,” Professor Weir-Hughes said.
“It’s very hard for members of the public to tell who people are, so one of our calls would be for distinctive uniforms and clear name badges.”
Ministers have so far resisted calls from the NMC and the Commons Health Select Committee to introduce compulsory regulation and training for healthcare assistants. Some 300,000 are understood to be currently working in the NHS, although there is no register and no compulsory training.
In an interview with the Times, Professor Weir-Hughes said the continuing failure to insist on formal qualifications represented a “national disaster” waiting to happen.
Without better regulation, he argued, nurses would continue to struggle to know when to perform certain tasks themselves, and when they could delegate to healthcare assistants.
Professor Weir-Hughes added: “We’ve struck people off as nurses who have then come back and worked as healthcare support workers. There’s nothing to prevent them from doing that. “All we can do is to say you either have to go to the person’s employer, or if it’s sufficiently serious call the police. There are no other mechanisms.
“Even if there aren’t massive high-profile hideous cases, the drip, drip, drip of thousands of unhappy, in pain, not-fed patients – that should carry some weight. “This isn’t just about waiting for some ghastly national disaster, it’s about saying, ‘How long do we leave this issue?’”
Britian’s General Medical Council becomes a kangaroo court
Determined to suppress Christian expression even if they have to breach natural justice
A Christian doctor is still trying to clear his name after a complaint was made against him for speaking about his faith with a patient. Dr Richard Scott, 51, was in Manchester yesterday for a disciplinary hearing into comments he made to a patient during a one-to-one consultation at the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, in August 2010.
The complaint was made by the mother of the 24-year-old patient after he told her that Dr Scott had suggested the Christian faith could help him.
The General Medical Council (GMC) offered to resolve the issue by placing an official warning on Dr Scott’s file. It went to a full hearing after Dr Scott challenged the GMC’s decision on the grounds that an official warning would be unacceptable for his reputation and on his official file.
He continues to defend his conduct, saying that he only discussed faith with the patient after asking their permission and that he had acted professionally and within the guidelines.
Dr Scott had expected to cross-examine the patient at yesterday’s hearing and challenge their claims, but was unable to do so after the patient failed to turn up.
The case has now been temporarily adjourned by the GMC’s Investigatory Committee, which is trying to make the patient attend another hearing.
According to advocacy group Christian Concern, the GMC has decided to pursue the case with or without the witness, prompting concerns for other doctors. It warns that without the possibility of cross-examining a complainant, doctors will be made “extremely vulnerable to allegations” as they typically see patients in private.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern’s partner organisation, the Christian Legal Centre, said the GMC appeared “determined” to punish Dr Scott. She said: “An experienced GP has spent 48 hours in an aborted disciplinary hearing in Manchester when he could and should be helping his patients in Kent.
“The procedures of the GMC in this case are ones which every GP in the land should be concerned about as their future and reputation now seems to be able to be challenged by hearsay allegations with no opportunity to cross examine in order that a panel can make a just decision.”
Dr Scott expressed his shock at the way in which his case had been handled by the GMC. “As a member of the GMC, I look to my professional body to act with the same professional standards that any court in this land would,” he said. “I am astounded that the GMC are continuing to pursue this allegation on the basis of hear-say evidence from a witness that will not turn up. This case should have been struck-out, but the GMC appears to be determined to pursue this.”
“I cannot imagine that any court in the land would act like this, and so, on behalf of every GP I must insist that proper professional standards on cross examination be adopted in all disciplinary hearings. “Without it, a fair ‘trial’ is impossible and every GP is left totally vulnerable to any accusation.”
More Leftist deceit
The child star of the Labour conference and the truth behind his ‘life of poverty’
At just 16, Rory Weal was being feted yesterday as the ‘hero’ of the Labour conference for an impassioned speech telling how the welfare state saved his family from ruin.
The schoolboy tugged at delegates’ heartstrings with a tale of his home being repossessed and the family having ‘nothing, no money, no savings’, and only the benefits system to fall back on.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband may be surprised to know he was not so hard-up after all.
For it turns out he is the privileged son of a millionaire property developer who sent Rory to a private school until his business went bust. Even now he goes to a selective grammar school, which Labour policy opposes.
Rory’s father Jonathan Weal, 53, owned homes worth an estimated £2.25million in some of the most sought-after addresses in the land. He had a luxury penthouse apartment in leafy Blackheath, South London, valued at £1.3million, but it was repossessed and sold for £359,000 – which is still more valuable than the average British home. Then the banks sold Mr Weal’s £950,000 Grade II listed lodge house in Chislehurst, Kent, for ‘only’ half a million pounds.
In the good times, Mr Weal gave Rory an advantage over ordinary families by sending him to £13,788-a-year Colfe’s School in Blackheath. But when his business ventures failed, his son was lucky enough to be accepted by Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone, Kent.
On Monday, Rory electrified the conference with his tub-thumping speech, giving Labour a ‘William Hague moment’ – a reference to 1977 when a teenage Hague wowed the Conservative Party conference.
Attacking the ‘vicious and Right-wing’ Government, Rory conjured up an image of his destitute family as he told Labour delegates: ‘Two and a half years ago, the home I had lived in since birth was repossessed. We had nothing, no money, no savings.
‘I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state. That is why I joined the Labour Party, but that very same welfare state is being ruthlessly ripped apart by a vicious and Right-wing Tory-led government.
‘I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that system, that safety net. So I take this opportunity to plead with the Government to reconsider their measures.’
Yesterday Rory’s own grandmother described the budding politician as an accomplished actor.
At her home in Stockbridge, Hampshire, Sandra Weal said: ‘He used to do a lot of acting and I think that’s why he was so confident in front of an audience.
After the banks repossessed the family’s homes in 2008, Rory’s parents split up. In a Sunday Times interview about his financial downfall, published earlier this year, Mr Weal said: ‘For my wife, Elaine, the humiliation was unendurable.’
He went on: ‘My father and sister are both architects. She went to Cambridge. I came last in everything at school and I’ve spent my life making up for that. It was so important to me that Rory had the best education.’ Colfe’s School is steeped in history as one of the oldest schools in London.
Rory’s mother was a director of a number of her husband’s companies before they went bust, and she, Rory and her eight-year-old daughter now live in a four-bedroom £300,000 semi-detached house in Allington, Maidstone.
There are only 164 grammar schools left in the country, 32 of them in Kent, where Rory lives.
The Labour mantra of hate finds a new star in 16-year-old Weal
The papers today are fawning over yesterday’s instant sensation at the Labour party conference — an articulate 16 year-old schoolboy, Rory Weal, who became the conference darling when he ripped into the ‘vicious, right-wing Tory-led government’.
No surprise that he brought the conference to its feet. Gone were the crestfallen expressions at having been told by Tessa Jowell the unwelcome home truth that the country simply wasn’t listening to anything the Labour party was saying.
Lifted were the eyes that had been fixed to the floor as party big-wigs had mouthed synchronised apologies for mass immigration (but only by Poles – even the apology was politically correct). Banished was their terminal depression at their leader, Ed-trying-to-be-red-and-blue-at-the-same-time Miliband.
No, it was Rory Weal who gave them the rallying call, the three-word code, the mantra of hate that gives the left its entire purpose in life – to demonise ‘vicious right-wing’ Tories, and thus reinforce their own galvanising illusion that it is the Labour party which is the engine of decency and social justice.
In fact, Rory Weal was hailed as a hero for saying something that should have chilled the marrow. For he said: ‘I owe my entire well-being and that of my family to the welfare state.’
In the real world, what that means (if true) is that his entire life has been spent as a kind of state serf, that he and his family are wholly lacking in independence, that their entire subsistence has been funded by the state. Worse still, it would appear that in the mind of 16 year-old Rory Weal he has never gained any benefit to himself from anything other than the state.
No mention, note, of what he owes to his parents’ own efforts for his well-being. Indeed, to him they appear to have made no such contribution since he told us that he owes his ‘entire well-being’ to the welfare state.
To Rory Weal, all good things appear to come from the state – and so anyone who dares suggest otherwise is vicious and right-wing. Is that not terrifying?
To further illustrate the extent to which this self-designated creation of Britain’s welfare state is apparently incapable of mouthing anything other than crude propaganda on its behalf rather than connecting to viciously right-wing reality, look at what else he said.
Attacking tuition fees and cuts in student grants, he claimed that the government was threatening the British promise: ‘…where one generation does better than the last.’ But it was under the Labour government that social mobility actually went backwards.
And look at where Rory Weal is doing his A-levels in English literature, geography, politics and history — at Oakwood Park Grammar School.
But of course it is the destruction of the grammar schools which has been the single greatest cause of the betrayal of the promise that one generation does better than the last. It is the Labour party which has waged all-out war upon the grammar schools on the basis that selective education is elitist.
And the reason Rory Weal attends Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone is that it is under the authority of Kent County Council, one of the few local authorities to retain selective education — and which is run by the vicious right-wing Tories.
He also complained that, after his parents divorced,‘ two and-a-half years ago, the home I had lived in since birth was repossessed’. But two and a half years ago it was of course Labour that was in power.
So Rory Weal was blaming the Tories for a series of actions which were in fact taken by Labour governments! This boy will indeed go far.
Plan to give poor British pupils extra credit to discriminate against private school classes
Britain’s biggest exam board is proposing to rank all A-level students according to the schools they attend. The proposal would allow universities to discriminate against pupils from private schools.
The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance plan means universities could offer places to students from disadvantaged homes who showed potential but had performed less well in exams than their peers at better schools.
Under the proposal, a pupil at a weak school who scored a lower grade than a rival at a good school could get extra credit in the form of university entrance points. Until now, boards have judged pupils only on their exams and not their schooling.
The plan is contained in a paper prepared for discussion by Dr Neil Stringer, senior research associate at the AQA centre for education research and policy, and being circulated at the party conferences for debate this month.
Critics fear candidates will be penalised for achieving good A-level results at a good school. Independent schools are also concerned the approach could discriminate against disadvantaged pupils to whom they have offered scholarships.
Dr Tim Hands, headmaster of Magdalen College, Oxford, and co-chairman of the Independent Schools’ Universities Committee, said last night: ‘It is extraordinary. It takes no account of home background or the amount of tutoring a pupil could have.’
Professor Alan Smithers, head of the Centre for Education and Employment Studies at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘The possibility for errors is enormous. ‘There must be concerns about the ranking the candidates are awarded.’
Dr Stringer gives the example of the medical school St George’s, part of the University of London, in support of his argument. The school offers places to students with lower A-level grades (BBC rather than AAB), providing their performance is 60 per cent better than the average for their school.
In another example, pupil A at a low-performing comprehensive in a disadvantaged area gets an exam score of 36 out of 40. But he is entitled to bonus points as a result of his school’s low ranking.
Pupil B goes to a top independent school with no pupils on free school meals and got 38 for his exam score. However, he faces being penalised on his school’s ranking.
It would be for a university to decide what to do with the information.
The crude social engineering of A-levels insults any child who wants to succeed on merit
Why do some societies succeed while others fail? Why is it that some nations can prosper while others decline? Is it a matter of natural resources, cultural factors or wise public spending? Or some indecipherable ingredient which is a matter of the purest chance?
History teaches us that it is none of the above. Nations succeed when they put talent first: those societies which have guaranteed the highest standards for all their citizens, throughout the ages, have been those which have been the purest meritocracies.
Those who don’t promote on merit, whether crony-ridden sheikhdoms or creaking Euro institutions, find they quickly decline, whatever riches they start out with.
Deciding that jobs, or positions of influence, should be allocated on the basis of where you come from, not what you can do, is the sort of thinking we should leave to defenders of the feudal system and discredited Marxists.
But, sadly, the deluded notion that background matters more than ability is still alive, well and undermining excellence in the cloistered seminar rooms of the Left-wing education establishment.
How else to explain the bizarre idea which has emanated from one of our examination boards that students with weaker A-levels, if they’ve attended a poor school, should be able to automatically leapfrog students who possess stronger A-levels in the race for university places?
Exam boards exist to measure ability, not engage in crude social engineering. And the A-level, as Britain’s most demanding school-level qualification, is the real test of their ability to maintain educational standards.
The point of the A-level is to equip students with the knowledge to flourish at university. A-levels should also help universities select the students best equipped to succeed, by the simple and old-fashioned expedient of giving the most able students the highest grades.
Sadly, in my job as Education Secretary, I’ve been confronted with more and more evidence from universities that A-levels are no longer doing the job they should. Professors tell me they have to provide catch-up classes for bright students who arrive at university with good grades, but who have not been provided with enough knowledge in the A-level syllabus to match the performance of students from other countries, or students who started the same course a generation ago.
The same academics also tell me they are finding it more and more difficult to identify the most able pupils, when so many come with fistfuls of As and A stars.
The delight that hard-working students feel when they get a string of great passes curdles into anger when they find that still doesn’t mark them out from the crowd or guarantee a cherished college place.
The last Government invented the A star because so many were getting As. Now the numbers walking off with a clutch of A stars means we may soon have to introduce a veritable galaxy of A double and triple stars simply to allow the top talent to stand out.
It’s quite wrong to blame pupils for this fiasco. They work harder than ever, what with GCSE modules and AS levels before their final A2 exams.
They deserve better. Exam boards should be working harder to get tests which are truly stretching, and provide marking schemes which are more rigorous. But instead we have the silly idea from one exam board, tellingly launched at the Labour Party conference, that we should further devalue the gold standard.
The education system, it is argued, should inflate the value of lower grades if a candidate comes from what is believed to be a weaker school. All students are to be treated equally, but some will be treated rather more equally than others.
The authors of this scheme, I am sure, imagine they are doing their bit to advance social mobility.
Well, as the beneficiary of old-fashioned ideals which genuinely advanced social mobility, such as hard work, great teaching and academic rigour, let me assure the authors of this modest proposal that they are insulting any child who wants to succeed on their own merits.
No one wants to think they’ve been admitted somewhere on sufferance rather than ability. And this scheme risks tipping the scales against the deserving. A child from a normal home on a scholarship at a private school, as I was, would suffer compared with a child from a wealthier background who goes to a state school, but benefits from expensive private tutoring, as the children of so many distinguished Labour politicians have.
It’s because I came from a modest background — my father was a fish merchant — that I am so passionate about the power of great education to transform people’s lives. I spent my first months in care, before being adopted and brought up by wonderful parents who believed in education, even though they’d both had to leave school before they were 16.
I was fortunate to go to good state schools, before winning a scholarship to a private school. At every point I benefited from excellent teachers who didn’t make excuses about their pupils’ backgrounds. They expected every child to succeed. And they demanded the same level of discipline, application and ambition from every student because they thought we were all capable of excellence if we tried our utmost.
That same attitude permeates our best schools today, including those in our poorest areas: London schools such as Burlington Danes in White City, or Mossbourne in Hackney, which have more than their fair share of students from disadvantaged homes. They do much better in exams than many schools, including private schools, in leafy areas.
Their students win places at Oxbridge on merit. All because their heads, from the moment any child arrives, refuse to accept excuses for under-performance.
Because once you accept that a child is likely to do less well than his contemporaries, you condemn that child to fall further and further behind, to never know the satisfaction of pushing himself beyond his limits, to be a prisoner of others’ prejudice. The victim of the bigotry of low expectations.
That is why, instead of covering up poor performance — or purposefully skewing university entrance procedures — we need to demand more of our education system.
The way to get students from poor homes in weak schools into good universities is not to rig exams, establish quotas or inflate grades. We should improve the state schools in the first place. All the ingenuity that academics devote to lowering the bar to entry to college should instead go into raising standards in the classroom much earlier.
The reason I am giving teachers more powers to impose tougher discipline, replacing heads in schools that are under-performing, reforming school league tables to reward rigour, getting rid of low-value qualifications in soft subjects and paying more to get top maths and science graduates into teaching, is because I want the scandalously high number of children who have been let down by poor schools to be given a proper education at last.
The children in our poorest schools are, overwhelmingly, from our poorest homes. Many of them will have the talent to rise to the very top. To become business leaders, academics, surgeons and head teachers. But they will achieve their full potential only if we ditch, once and for all, the dismally defeatist mindset which believes that, in education, second-best is good enough.
Painkiller heart alert: Don’t stop taking pills, but do talk to your GP, British scientists urge
For once they mention the absolute risk and admit that it is tiny
A painkiller taken by millions can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke by 40 per cent, a study has found. Researchers say that while there is no need for patients to panic, diclofenac should be restricted to prescription only.
In completely healthy patients, a 40 per cent raised chance of heart problems is not at all significant. But for those who already have a high risk of a heart attack or stroke, taking the painkiller could present serious problems.
Last night the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that patients should not stop taking the drug, but should consult their doctor if they have fears over its safety.
Last year almost 17million prescriptions were written by GPs in England for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, for conditions such as arthritis, back pain, gout, headaches and fever. Of these, diclofenac was the most commonly prescribed and given to 6million patients. It can also be bought over the counter under the brand name Voltarol Pain-Eze for around £6. It is at lower strength but still carries a 22 per cent higher risk.
Dr Patricia McGettigan of Hull York Medical School, who led the landmark review of studies looking at nearly 3million people, said: ‘Diclofenac on prescription was associated with an increase in cardiovascular risk of 40 per cent.
‘People take it because it’s effective, but it’s very important for patients and doctors to know the risks associated with these drugs for high-risk patients. ‘It is now available over the counter, and our study suggests there is a case for looking at that again and making it prescription-only as well as strengthening advice to doctors and patients about how it should be used.
‘There is a very clear increase in risk as the dose goes up, which says to people who perhaps can’t get out of bed due to arthritis and take diclofenac, take a different drug instead and you might be at a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. ‘We have reviewed all the previous studies and are confident that the results are robust enough to inform clinical and regulatory decisions.’
This is the first study to measure the relative risks of different drugs, and it found that ibuprofen and naproxen had the lowest risk of cardiovascular problems.
Many patients were transferred to diclofenac from Vioxx, the painkiller which was withdrawn by manufacturer Merck in 2004 after it was linked to heart attacks and strokes.
Patients will often be at minimal risk. For a young woman, the risk of having a heart attack will be around 0.1 per cent and a 40 per cent rise is still just 0.14 per cent. However for a pensioner who has already had one heart attack, a 40 per cent increase could be significant.
Doreen Maddock of the British Heart Foundation said: ‘The potential risks for heart patients taking certain painkillers have been known for some time and these findings shouldn’t be ignored. But scientists and drug regulators will need to delve deeper before we draw any firm conclusions.
‘As with any medicine there are benefits and potential risks to taking painkillers. If you’re already taking these types of drugs and are worried, don’t simply give up on your medication. You should always speak to your doctor first because the benefits may well outweigh the risks for you.’
A spokesman for the MHRA said: ‘Our priority is to ensure that the benefits of medication outweigh the risks. NSAID treatment is associated with a small increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. The risk is higher with long-term treatment.
‘Clear warnings about the risk of gastro-intestinal and heart problems, along with information about those patient groups in which NSAIDs either should not be used, such as those with severe heart failure, or only used with caution, are contained in the product information including the patient information leaflet that accompanies the medicine.
‘To minimise the risk of side effects, all NSAIDs should be used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest period necessary to control symptoms. ‘People should not stop taking their NSAID medicine, but if they have any questions or concerns about their treatment they should speak to their doctor. ‘The MHRA keeps the safety of NSAIDs under close review and any new data will be carefully evaluated.’
A spokesman for Novartis, which makes Voltarol, said: ‘In our view, this analysis, in the context of the vast clinical experience worldwide, does not change the favourable benefit-to-risk assessment for diclofenac when used as directed. ‘Novartis is confident about the safety profile of diclofenac products.’
Warmist writer is a crook
Most Warmists would appear to be crooks, fools or Leftists (or all three) but Johann Hari has been caught bang to rights as dishonest. See a sampling of his supercilious “wisdom” about global warming here, here or here. Now read on:
The Orwell prize committee has accused Independent columnist Johann Hari of plagiarism over an article that won him the prestigious award in 2008.
Hari earlier this month said he stood by the Orwell prize-winning articles in a lengthy apology published by the Independent, but handed back the award on 14 September “as an act of contrition for errors I made elsewhere”.
However, the high-profile columnist has not returned the £2,000 prize money from the 2008 award, the Orwell prize council said on Tuesday.
“The council concluded that the article contained inaccuracies and conflated different parts of someone else’s story (specifically, a report in Der Spiegel),” the Orwell prize council said in a statement. “The council ruled that the substantial use of unattributed and unacknowledged material did not meet the standards expected of Orwell prize-winning journalism.”
Hari handed back the Orwell prize after an internal investigation by the Independent founder and former editor Andreas Whittam Smith.
He said in his apology a fortnight ago: “Even though I stand by the articles which won the George Orwell prize, I am returning it as an act of contrition for the errors I made elsewhere, in my interviews.”
Hari apologised for plagiarising the work of others to improve interviews and for editing the Wikipedia entries of people he had clashed with, using the pseudonym David Rose, “in ways that were juvenile or malicious”. He admitted calling “one of them antisemitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk”.
He is taking unpaid leave of absence from the paper until 2012 and is to undertake a journalism training course.
The Orwell prize council said it decided to revoke Hari’s award in July, but declined to make the decision public because the Independent’s investigation was ongoing. The Independent had “prohibited” Hari from responding to claims about his work during the investigation, the council added.
“The council is delighted to be able to put this difficult episode behind it finally, and get on with the important business of running the prizes and promoting the values of George Orwell into the future,” said Bill Hamilton, the acting chair of the council of the Orwell prize.
Worth knowing for the next time this guy excoriates sceptics for their dishonesty in denying climate change!
Expert: Cold winters “a consequence of global warming”
Weather forecastera are predicting another cold winter. But believers in global warming caused by humans need not despair. Physical Oceanographer Tom Rippeth of Bangor University´s School of Ocean Sciences “knows” that it is all “a consequence of global warming”:
“Whilst at first sight the recent spate of cold winters might be interpreted as not fitting the picture of a warming planet, they do in fact appear to be a consequence of global warming”
The secrets behind the new findings are – you guessed it – “complex computer models”:
“Using complex computer models scientists have found that, as the ice cap over the ocean disappeared, this allows the heat of the relatively warm seawater (0 degrees C) to escape into the much colder atmosphere above, creating an area of high pressure surrounded by clockwise-moving winds that sweep down from the Arctic over northern Europe.”
“The result here in the UK is that instead of our normal winter conditions, which are dominated by warm and wet winds blowing in off the Atlantic, we experience much colder winds coming in from the North and the East.”
The climate alarmists really know how make it easy for themselves: Whatever happens, it is always a result of global warming. No wonder there has been an huge erosion of credibility for the warmist type of climate science.
SOURCE (See the original for links)
On the buses: “The UK bus sector has prospered in recent years, despite all the prophecies of gloom when Lady Thatcher’s Conservative Government decided that competition was the best answer to reversing decades of under-investment, lousy service and poor time-tabling.”