Patients go hungry in half of hospitals: Elderly routinely left for hours without a drink
Nearly half of hospitals visited by undercover inspectors are failing to meet basic nutrition standards, a damning report has warned. Elderly patients are routinely left without anything to drink for hours, with some so dehydrated they are being put on drips.
Other patients found themselves regularly being fed by their relatives because nursing staff were too busy to help.
The appalling failings were uncovered by the Care Quality Commission during inspections of NHS wards.
Other concerns highlighted included hospitals slipping Do Not Resuscitate orders inside patients’ notes without telling them or their families.
The Commission found 49 out of 100 hospitals were not meeting basic nutrition standards. This included 17 with ‘moderate’ or ‘major’ concerns.
Dehydration contributes to the deaths of more than 800 patients a year and another 300 die malnourished, according to official figures.
On one ward at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals inspectors found frail patients had not been given a drink for more than ten hours.
Doctors were so concerned some patients were becoming dangerously dehydrated that they put them on drips.
Next week the CQC will publish a full report into its findings, which is expected to urge hospitals to do more to ensure the elderly do not become malnourished or neglected.
There is widespread concern amongst ministers and patient groups that some nursing staff are allowing vulnerable patients to be neglected.
At Barnsley Hospital inspectors found staff had not been given any training in how to spot which patients might need help eating or drinking – they were just ‘learning on the job’.
And at James Paget University Hospital in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, inspectors came across a nurse telling off a frail patient merely for ringing a call bell.
In some hospitals, including the Conquest Hospital in St Leonards, East Sussex, it found staff put Do Not Resuscitate orders inside patients’ notes without consent from them or their families.
Inspectors also found nursing staff speaking patronisingly to frail patients with dementia.
The CQC spot-checks were partly triggered by a Mail campaign with the Patients Association last year exposing the shocking neglect of the elderly on NHS wards.
The watchdog found major concerns with the nutritional standards at Worcester Hospitals and at Sandwell General Hospital in Birmingham.
Another 15 were deemed to have ‘moderate’ concerns, with ‘minor’ concerns at 32 more.
The worst hospitals could be fined if they fail to improve before the watchdog carries out another inspection.
Meanwhile, the Patients Association is so concerned over the number of calls to its helpline regarding poor treatment that it has convened an emergency meeting with the Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Nursing, and Nursing and Midwifery Council next month.
Chief executive Katherine Murphy said: ‘Water and food are not treatments – they are a basic human right. ‘Helping patients with food and water is not a “try to do”, it is a fundamental part of essential care.’
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘Everyone admitted to hospital deserves to be treated as an individual, with compassion and dignity. We must never lose sight of the fact that the most important people in the NHS are its patients.
‘That’s why I asked the CQC to undertake unannounced inspections into the treatment of older patients with practising nurses and people who use services – so that poor care can be identified and stamped out.
‘They saw some exemplary care, but some hospitals were not even getting the basics right. That is simply unacceptable. ‘In the future, I want local HealthWatch organisations to be able to carry out unannounced independent inspections and hold local services to account by drawing on experience from patients and their families.’
Britain to allow homosexual marriage?
For the entire history of civilisation, marriage has been defined as being between a man and a woman. Throughout that history, almost all civilisations have regarded marriage as central to their survival.
So if you say that marriage should, in fact, be differently defined, you are saying something very big and bold. The onus of proof should surely not be on those who justify the status quo, but on you. You must show that you are right and that everyone else, for thousands of years, has been wrong.
One hopes that the Coalition can make a go of government in these difficult times. One understands why each partner needs to find issues that it can concede to the other. One also understands why David Cameron wishes to “rebrand” his Conservative Party. But can one feel completely easy when, driven by his political civil partnership with Nick Clegg, he tries to change the nature of marriage for ever?
In Manchester on Wednesday, Mr Cameron reminded his party’s conference that they had clapped him five years ago when he had said that “it shouldn’t matter whether commitment was between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man”. So, he effectively commanded them, they should clap him now when he announced that he favoured legalising gay marriage. They clapped, obediently if not enthusiastically.
In arguing for gay marriage, Mr Cameron was not so foolish as to take his stand on equality alone. What mattered, he said, was the commitment: “Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.” So his belief was part of his politics: “I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”
This is, undeniably, a strong argument. Sensible conservatives (and Conservatives) are always looking for ways in which affections can be strengthened by society. The homosexual lifestyle, they may reason, is often even more chaotic and lonely than the heterosexual one. If it can be helped to become more stable, they argue, why not? Theirs is a modern version – though they would not want to put it like that – of St Paul’s idea that it is better to marry than to burn.
In recent years, this way of thinking has gained ground. As homosexuals have declared themselves, people have come to recognise that they are no better or worse as friends, neighbours, colleagues, teachers, police officers or Members of Parliament than anyone else. Women have probably been the key factor in this social change. Fifty years ago, few women knew any man who said he was homosexual. Now they do, and they often say that they prefer them to the rather more exhausting company of straights.
So if homosexuality is accepted, there is an apparent logic – and political prudence – in allowing homosexual people to do whatever everyone else does. Everyone else is permitted to marry, so why not gays?
Well, I must admit that social change has made me see more sense in this way of thinking than I did 20 years ago. But I still believe there is “just cause and impediment”.
Part of the problem lies in the way “rights” now work. Take the notorious example that set Ken Clarke against Theresa May this week. Mrs May protested that it had been impossible to deport a Bolivian man suspected of shoplifting because a judge had decided that his human right to a family life would be violated by separation from Maya, his cat.
Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that. The point was that Maya was shared between the Bolivian and his boyfriend. He and the boyfriend had been together for four years and the boyfriend’s father was seriously ill. This persuaded the judge to uphold the Bolivian’s right to family life, against the interests of the British taxpayer and criminal justice system. Perhaps Mrs May was frightened of saying this, but surely the widespread feeling would be that Maya the cat, the boyfriend and the boyfriend’s sick father do not really amount to what most people would call a family for the Bolivian. If the definition of family can be almost anything, and if your human right to one gets you “out of jail free”, then a real family life – marriage, children, that sort of thing – gets devalued.
And human rights, so ludicrously inclusive on one side of the argument, are fiercely strict on the other. Not only does the Government decide, for example, that homosexuals may adopt children, but it also makes it illegal for agencies that do not accept gay parents to continue with their work. Human rights forbid bed-and-breakfasts to refuse a night to a homosexual couple, even though there is supposed to be a human right to freedom of conscience. Anglican churches can marry people with the force of law. How long, if we have gay marriage, before they are compelled to marry homosexuals too?
The word “tolerance” is used, but it is not what is actually being proposed. Anything that the authorities call “homophobic” will be treated – is already being treated – with the same intolerance that was directed, half a century ago, at anything that was called homosexual. In politics, such issues, as with capital punishment, euthanasia and abortion, have long been matters of conscience. Mr Cameron is entitled to argue that, for him personally, gay marriage is a Conservative idea, but if it becomes Conservative policy, whipped in the lobbies, that is something else. Anyone who followed the mainstream teaching of his own Church, synagogue or mosque, for instance, would either have to disobey his conscience or be kicked out. If you are not careful, you bring about a situation where traditional religious belief excludes you from the Conservative Party.
To a good many people today, the fact that some homosexuals want to marry will overwhelm all other arguments. What you want, you should have, they believe, so long as the other person wants it too.
Is this as true or as simple as it seems? There are, for example, roughly as many Muslims in Britain as there are homosexuals. Muslims believe in polygamy – for men only, up to four wives. Muslims insist that women, just as much as men, welcome this rule. Suppose that Mr Cameron had got up and told his conference, “it shouldn’t matter whether commitment is between a man and a woman or a man and four women”, would he have been able to make the audience clap? Mightn’t they have recognised that a situation in which men were now permitted to marry four women would damage a society in which, until now, one man could only be married to one woman at a time? Wouldn’t they have said that the consent of those involved was not the only issue at stake? Wouldn’t they have been right?
Arguments on these subjects are tricky to make, particularly in the rough world of politics. They touch on deep feelings, deep beliefs and thousands of years of searching for the best way to live. Gay marriage is not a simple issue of fairness for all. The obsession with defining an individual’s identity by his or her sexual desires, and putting the fulfilment of those desires above everything else, is only about 100 years old and will, I suspect, pass. The need for men and women to have children, bring them up and look after one another is much more important. So Mr Cameron should tread more carefully.
British Police deny crime figures were ‘airbrushed’ following Manchester riots in the summer
Riots reveal how police methods of recording crime are totally unrealiststic — designed to minimize the amount of crime recorded and thus make the police look good
Police were last night forced to deny they had ‘airbrushed’ official statistics which showed crime levels actually fell during the summer riots.
In August hundreds of shops were trashed as gangs of looters went on the rampage in London and other major cities. More than 1,700 people have appeared in court for riot-related crimes, and claims for damages are expected to top £200million.
But the violence and mayhem barely registers on official crime statistics for the month of August in riot hotspots in London, Manchester and Birmingham. The figures prompted claims that official data was ‘distorted’.
Labour MP Graham Stringer said: ‘I support transparency and releasing crime figures but only if they are going to be accurate and this looks very much as though the police are putting out distorted information.’
But senior officers hit back firmly, insisting the figures were simply a quirk of the way crime is measured. These mean a break-in at a shop involving a gang of 100 people is recorded as a single crime.
Official figures for central Manchester showed there were just 21 crimes reported in St Ann’s Square during the whole month of August – the lowest figure for four months. The number of crimes in Market Street – the scene of widespread looting – fell to 42 in August from 49 in the previous month.
Similarly, in Piccadilly Gardens, where many shops were raided, there was no sign of the rioting in the official figures which show a fall from 81 offences in July to just 63 in August.
Across Greater Manchester as a whole, there were 31,967 crimes recorded during August, which was a slight fall on the 32,219 recorded in July.
The streets around Birmingham New Street – also a scene of widespread violent disorder – recorded a fall in crime in August compared to July. The total number of offences committed was 1,507, down from 1,522 in July, according to the police.uk crime mapping site. The same website shows crime fell around Mare Street in Hackney – a scene of major disturbances on August 8 – from 2,277 offences in July to a total of 1,984 in August.
Police said the figures were the result of Home Office crime recording rules which have not changed from before the riots. Peter Fahy, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police said: ‘The Home Office rules are clear and we follow them in a consistent way.
‘We had more than 1,000 people involved in the disorder but that does not equate to 1,000 crimes. ‘If four people break into your house then it is recorded as one crime in the same way as if one person had broken in. ‘On the other hand if one person breaks into a house which is sub-divided into four flats then it is recorded as four crimes. ‘To say that the disorder has been “airbrushed” from the crime statistics is both misleading and inaccurate.’
Rare sanity in English law: Homeowner cleared after burglar stabbed to death
“British justice” once meant something commendable. Now it is just a cue for laughter. But maybe this judgment gives some hope of sanity
A homeowner arrested on suspicion of murder after the death of an intruder at his property has been cleared of any wrongdoing. Vincent Cooke, 39, was initially arrested by police on suspicion of murder after stabbing one of two men suspected of trying to burgle his home in Manchester.
Police said that during the break-in the intruder smashed down his door and threatened him with a knife before Mr Cooke allegedly stabbed the Raymond Jacob, 37, six times. His wife Karen, 34, and 12-year-old son returned home during the incident but escaped unharmed.
He was due to answer bail later this month, but the Crown Prosecution Service has decided has that Mr Cooke acted in reasonable self-defence.
The family of known offender Mr Jacob later said they had been “distressed” by the events and supported the police inquiry to find out what happened.
In a statement issued through his lawyers, Mr Cooke said: “I would like to offer my utmost thanks for all the support the public and media have offered me and my family during this terrible event. “I am most relieved that the CPS have decided not to charge me with any offence. It has been a living nightmare for me and I’m still suffering flashbacks of the incident,” he said today. “I hope to now be able to get on with my life but will never forget the day that I had to fight for my life.”
Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the North West area, said after considering the evidence Mr Cooke should not face charges as he acted “honestly and instinctively” at the time of the attack.
“At the time he was in fear for his own safety and the safety of his wife and son who arrived at the house as the incident was happening,” Mr Afzal said. “It is clear to me that Mr Cooke did what he honestly and instinctively believed was necessary on that day to protect himself, his home and his family from intruders.
“As crown prosecutors we look at all cases on their merit and according to the evidence in the individual case. I am satisfied that this is a case where a householder, faced with armed intruders in frightening circumstances, acted in reasonable self defence.
“The law is clear that anyone who acts in good faith in using whatever force they honestly feel is necessary to protect themselves, their families or their property will not be prosecuted for such action.”
Ministers are planning to clarify the law on self-defence in England, after a string of cases where homeowners have faced prosecution for defending their property.
The arrest of Mr Coley, 72, on suspicion of murder following the death of Gary Mullings, 30, who had broken into his shop in Old Trafford forced the issue back in the national media spotlight.
Last month’s stabbing came just days after the Crown Prosecution Service decided no charges should be brought against householder Peter Flanagan, 59, who was arrested on suspicion of murder after the fatal stabbing of a burglar. John Bennell, 27, was attacked after he broke into his home in, Pendlebury, Salford, in June.
David Cameron has also promised that the new Justice Bill would “put beyond doubt that home owners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted”.
Under the current law, home owners who use “reasonable force” – which is no more than is absolutely necessary – to protect themselves against intruders should not be prosecuted.
Ignorant products of British schools
Some schoolchildren believe Winston Churchill is an animated dog from a TV ad rather than one of Britain’s greatest wartime leaders.
Other pupils even struggle to differentiate between France and Paris thanks to falling classroom standards and a shift towards creative learning, according to outspoken former deputy headteacher Katherine Birbalsingh.
She says teaching basic knowledge, facts and figures is disappearing from classrooms as it is considered ‘old fashioned’.
Miss Birbalsingh, who delivered this week’s Sir John Cass’s Foundation Lecture at Cass Business School in London, said: ‘We no longer value the importance of teaching knowledge for children to do something with.
‘The problem is that we underestimate the knowledge that we have and use everyday. ‘Try to read any article in the newspaper and you’ll find that there is an assumption of background knowledge. ‘Recently, I read an article about Carla Bruni. To understand just the title and subtitle, one would have to know who she was: that she is married to Nicolas Sarkozy, that he is the president of France, and what being a president means. ‘Indeed you would have to know what France is – is it a city? Is it a country? Is it in Europe?
‘You may laugh, but I have, as a teacher, had conversations with 14-year-olds where they simply don’t understand the difference between France and Paris. ‘For them, it is all the same. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had conversations with kids about Winston Churchill where they think he’s “that dog” off the insurance advert from TV.’
Her comments come a year after she grabbed the headlines at the 2010 Conservative Party conference with a damning speech on the state of England’s schools.
She also claimed the public does not realise how little some children know, adding: ‘What we also forget is that the very thing that got us to where we are now was the kind of education that we had – our teachers teaching us knowledge, so that we know the difference between Paris and France, even if it sometimes meant being bored in lessons and learning the discipline to struggle through.’
Education today focuses too much on ‘soft’ skills, she said.
Miss Birbalsingh added: ‘In the last 30 years, the concept of teaching knowledge in our classrooms has nearly disappeared altogether. Teaching historical facts or lists of vocab which rely on memory skills is considered old-fashioned.
‘Instead, we think it better to inspire children to be creative through group discussion and project work. But background knowledge is absolutely essential to enable children to absorb new ideas.’
Miss Birbalsingh left St Michael’s and All Angels Church of England Academy in South London, where she was a deputy head teacher, a few weeks after her speech to the Tory Party conference.
She is currently attempting to set up a free school in Lambeth, South London.
‘Healthier’ McDonald’s low-fat blueberry muffin is saltier than a burger
So what! Talk of harm is just ideology. See the sidebar here. Salt and fat are both important in making things taste good so it is unsurprising that something low in one will have to be high in the other
A McDonald’s muffin marketed as a healthier option contains more salt than one of its burgers. The fast-food chain’s low-fat blueberry muffin has 1.7g of salt – more than in three packets of ready-salted crisps.
The figures come from health campaigners who claim that simple coffee-break snacks are part of the reason the nation is overdosing on salt every day.
Hidden salt in processed foods is said to be fuelling high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks, leading to thousands of premature deaths.
A study of coffee-break favourites by Consensus Action on Salt and Health found that while some food chains have made real efforts to cut salt levels, others have apparently failed to act. Its research found that around 85 per cent of popular coffee-break products contain as much salt as they did this time last year.
The salt content in a McDonald’s Double Chocolate Muffin has gone up from 1.1g to 1.2g, while Starbucks and the Eat chain were also accused of doing too little to cut salt levels.
Professor Graham MacGregor, of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, said: ‘Manufacturers need to stop hiding salt in their products and stop irresponsibly introducing new ones that are high in salt immediately. ‘It is the high levels of salt in our food that puts up our blood pressure, leading to strokes and heart attacks.’ [Theory only]
CASH nutritionist Kay Dilley said it was difficult for people to know how much salt was in a coffee-shop muffin or biscuit because of a poor labelling. ‘Without clear labelling we still have no idea how much salt we are eating in our coffee break,’ she said.
A McDonald’s spokesman said: ‘We have made substantial changes in salt content across our menu in the last few years and we are committed to making more changes in the future.’