‘Undercover nurses saved my condemned mother: Daughter pays £1,000 for private carers after NHS hospital staff said she couldn’t be saved
They’re animals in the NHS
A woman spent £1,000 hiring private carers to go undercover and look after her dying elderly mother in an NHS hospital because nurses were not giving her the attention she needed. Annette Townend acted out of desperation after a doctor warned family members that 82-year-old Sheila Smith would be dead within days ‘if something wasn’t done’.
The great-grandmother’s liver and kidneys were failing because she had not been eating or drinking, and overworked nurses at Bradford Royal Infirmary did not have time to spend with her.
Mrs Townend, 55, told the professional carers not to wear uniform and she pretended they were relatives or friends. They did two-hour stints three times a day for nine days, sitting with Mrs Smith, feeding her, giving her fluids, taking her to the toilet and chatting to her to keep her spirits up.
The one-to-one attention worked. With the carers’ help, and the benefit of a fluid drip attached by the doctor, Mrs Smith made a remarkable recovery and was well enough to go home three weeks later.
Mrs Townend has spoken out to highlight NHS failings. She said: ‘I am certain my mother would have died if the carers had not come in and looked after her. ‘I have always voted Conservative and I am concerned that David Cameron seems to think that the NHS trusts are doing all right. He needs to know the truth. From what I saw the elderly are getting terrible treatment. Unless there is a relative or friend to come in and help look after them, they have no chance.’
Mrs Townend was unable to help care for her mother herself because she has terminal bowel cancer. Ironically she was a patient at the same hospital in August when the carers were employed. She was having chemotherapy and was unable to spend time on her mother’s ward because of the risk of picking up an infection.
Earlier this month a damning report by the Care Quality Commission found that one in five hospitals was breaking the law because the nursing care of the elderly was so appalling.
The Mail has long called for an end to neglect in hospitals and care homes as part of our Dignity for the Elderly campaign. Mrs Smith, a widow, was taken to hospital after collapsing unconscious at her home in Baildon, near Bradford, with a heart problem. Her daughter said that in hospital she suffered four falls and became incontinent. On one occasion she was found ‘flat on her face’ on the floor, having been there for some time, and she was badly bruised.
Mrs Townend, who owns a laundrette business, said there were 28 elderly patients on the ward, with about half suffering from dementia and unable to do anything for themselves.
She said: ‘There were usually about six nurses on the ward. They were understaffed and overworked.’ Staff would put food and drink near Mrs Smith, but her family say she was too weak to take it, and got little help. ‘She and other patients were also left in soiled bedding for hours,’ said Mrs Townend. ‘It’s just not good enough.’
One Tuesday a doctor told a relative that unless there was a change Mrs Smith would not live until the Saturday. She was put on a drip for fluids and Mrs Townend hired the carers from a company which specialises in looking after elderly people in the community.
She said: ‘I thought she was going to die, they just weren’t doing enough to look after her. I worked for the NHS for 15 years and never thought I would see a situation like this.’
The carers sat by Mrs Smith’s bed and made sure she sipped the high-calorie drink she had been given. They also fed her tuna, salmon, rice pudding and jelly provided by Mrs Townend. ‘They saved her life, it’s as simple as that,’ she said.
A spokesman for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘We are sorry to learn of Mrs Townend’s concerns about her mother’s care. ‘We set high standards for ourselves and aim to get every patient’s treatment and care right, and in most cases we do. [Mealy-mouthed hypocrite!]
Serious complaints against doctors for botched care and abusive behaviour soar by 40% in three years
Serious complaints against doctors for failings such as botched surgery and disastrous misdiagnoses have soared by almost 40 per cent in just three years.
The number of patients reporting medics to the General Medical Council, which can strike doctors off the medical register, surged to a record high of more than 7,100 last year. The catalogue of grievances included allegations of medical mistakes, along with claims of sexual misbehaviour and patients being subjected to verbal abuse.
Patients’ groups said the figures, contained in an official report, are a ‘devastating insight’ into the public’s lack of confidence in the NHS and the professionalism of doctors.
GPs are among the medical groups most likely to face complaints, along with psychiatrists and surgeons.
Family doctors have come in for criticism after more than 90 per cent of them opted out of responsibility for out of hours cover, despite pocketing a pay rise in 2004 which saw their average salaries soar by a third to around £105,000.
Analysis has found that patients are more likely to complain against male doctors than female ones, and those over 50 are far more likely to be referred to the medical authorities than younger doctors.
Complaints to the GMC are only the tip of the iceberg. For every referral to the GMC, there are six more to local NHS trusts, with more than 43,000 reports last year.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the problem was that patients believed doctors tend to stick together and cover failings up, rather than admitting they have taken place. She said: ‘I think we have got a huge problem with falling public confidence in the health service. These findings are a devastating insight, and they mirror our own experience as a charity, with increasing numbers of people calling us because they do not know where to turn.’
The report by the GMC also shows the number of doctors being struck off has soared by 18 per cent over the past three years. In 2010, 92 doctors were struck off, while 106 were suspended for up to a year.
Of the 7,100 complaints to the GMC which went on to a full investigation, 60 per cent were about substandard medical care, with allegations about misdiagnoses or poor treatment.
Another 26 per cent were about respect and communication with patients, including allegations of verbal abuse, failing to listen to patients and basic rudeness.
Separate figures show that older doctors were more likely to attract complaints.
Over the past eight years, those above the age of 60 were seven times more likely than those below 40 to be referred to the authorities; while the rate among those in their 50s was four times as high.
And male doctors were almost three times as likely to receive complaints.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said that despite a ‘rising tide’ of complaints from members of the public, surveys on the NHS suggested overall satisfaction remained high. ‘I don’t regard these findings as a cause for despair,’ he said. ‘I don’t think there is evidence that standards are falling. ‘I think in some ways the system is getting better at identifying problems, and doctors are more willing to identify colleagues who are not performing well.’
Only when all three British parties tell you that something is right, can you be certain it is wrong
Every few decades, the British people realise that continental Europe matters to them whether they want it to or not.
Its revolutions, reunifications and power struggles often appear remote, but eventually – and sometimes violently – reach across the narrow Channel to alarm and shake us.
This is such a time. Though a thousand years of history have made us profoundly different from our nearest neighbours in politics, language, law, customs, landscape and religion, and though we tend to prefer to look out across the open sea to the wide world we once dominated, we cannot be indifferent to the European Union’s growing internal crisis.
Above all, we are not free to stand aloof because in 1973 we joined what was then the European Common Market, binding ourselves legally to its aims and regulations.
One of the great tragedies of modern times is that our leaders were not honest with us about what this meant. They insisted that it was purely a free trade area, and that its only aim was to increase prosperity.
A few mavericks warned that it was much more than that, a vast political project aimed at the creation of a new, unprecedented superstate. But we laughed at them and their cranky alarmist predictions, and foolishly trusted the soothing mainstream voices of the big parties.
Seldom has there been a better illustration of the maxim that when all three parties agree on a policy, you may be absolutely sure that it is a mistake.
Year by year, the wild alarmists have been proved right. We have lost a great measure of control over our own laws, over our foreign policy, even over our defences. We have lost our fishing grounds. We have been compelled to hand over vast contributions for purposes over which we have no control.
Individuals can even be arrested and taken to other EU countries for actions that are not crimes here. We have – absurdly – been prosecuted for using our own weights and measures. Perhaps above all, we no longer have our own national passports or control our own frontiers.
Thanks to a referendum in 1975, in which the case against membership was never given a proper chance, our political class have been able to consider the matter closed.
But in recent years that apparently decisive vote has lost its authority. Nobody under 54 took part in it. It is widely accepted that its conduct was flawed. Meanwhile, the compact original Common Market has swollen to become the sprawling EU, with a toehold in Africa, a coastline on the Black Sea and a border with Russia.
It has acquired a sort of Parliament (though one without an opposition), a diplomatic service, joint external border forces, a flag, an anthem, a so-called ‘Single Market’, a Supreme Court, a President and – above all – a currency backed by a central bank.
It regulates everything from the way we dispose of our rubbish to the shape and size of the envelopes we can use in the post.
And as it has grown, so has a strong, articulate and responsible current of scepticism about its aims and purposes. In Parliament, this is most potent and most open in the Conservative Party, though it has quieter voices in the Labour Party and even a few in the Liberal Democrats.
But outside Parliament it has produced a confident strand of responsible but critical suspicion – and sometimes more than that – in the press, which was once united in favour.
It is largely thanks to these critical currents that the United Kingdom narrowly managed to escape entry into the euro, a deliverance for which even some EU enthusiasts privately give thanks. It should never be forgotten that so much of our Establishment was keenly in favour of what would have been a national disaster. Nor should it be forgotten that many of them still secretly hope to revive the idea.
It is also due to these rising levels of doubt that European governments in several countries have begun to offer referendums on important increases in EU central powers. In Britain, these votes have never yet been held. In France, the Netherlands and Ireland they have been ignored or held again to produce the ‘right’ result.
The brazen chicanery of European politicians over the EU Constitution, later repackaged as the Lisbon Treaty, must have persuaded many previously unworried citizens that the EU project was not to be trusted.
And had David Cameron kept his ‘cast-iron’ promise to hold a ballot on Lisbon, he would not now be in the trap he has dug for himself.
It is perfectly reasonable for opponents of a new referendum on the EU to point out that this is a bad time for such a thing. Of course it is difficult for our European partners to listen to our worries about sovereignty when they are in the middle of a profound economic crisis. But such people should recognise that the issue has arisen now only because they themselves have dodged the question so dishonestly in the past. And that the crisis itself is largely, if not entirely, caused by the EU’s own insistence on creating and maintaining its economically illiterate vanity project – the euro.
We cannot constantly avoid questions of principle because the time is not quite right. Apart from anything else, one of the principles at stake is our ability to run our own economy.
Moments arrive in the history of any country when its leaders and people have to ask themselves what sort of nation they wish to be, and what sort of future they want to have. We have ducked this question for many years, which is why it is now being asked again so urgently.
If we continue to duck it, we will be sucked irrevocably into a supranational body that operates on un-British principles, that is undemocratic, that does not serve our interests and which compels us to do increasing numbers of things we do not wish to do, and which may not be for our benefit.
Our mainstream politicians have done all they can to ignore the public’s will on this subject. The Prime Minister’s strange and needlessly provocative attempt to silence his own dissenters is an example of this wilful refusal to accept that there is anything to worry about.
Rather than scuffling in this pointless ditch, Mr Cameron should call off his Whips and, if Parliament votes for it, hold the referendum on our position in the EU that we have so often been promised and denied. Then at last we would have the chance to consider what position we wish our Government to adopt, and to influence its behaviour.
It is very likely that a call for renegotiation of our EU relationship – official Tory policy after all – would win a majority.
It must be stressed that this newspaper does not view Europe or the EU with hostility. The real problem is the very different ways in which continental countries order their politics and make and enforce their laws.
There is also the seldom-spoken fact that France and Germany are in reality the final arbiters of every EU decision, and that in nearly 40 years of EU membership Britain has never been able to outweigh or divide this alliance.
If we have a referendum and vote for renegotiation, the EU will have to decide its response. Depending on that answer, it may eventually be that we have to face the fundamental question of whether we want to be in this club at all.
But we should not hurry towards such a stark and dramatic choice.
The most sensible approach is to move deliberately but carefully. First, the public should be allowed to consider if the EU is what they were told it was from the start. Then, if they decide it is not, we must see if we can create the free-trading, open relationship we thought we were going to get.
Only if this option fails, and every effort should be made to ensure it succeeds, should we consider the momentous question of whether to stay or go.
Half of girls at famous British private school now come from abroad
Half of pupils at one of Britain’s most prestigious girl schools are now foreign, its head-teacher has disclosed, as she admitted pupils now learn Mandarin Chinese in order to speak to international boarders.
Some “lovely” parents who wish to send their daughters to Roedean School, in Brighton, East Sussex, get the “shock of their life” when told how many students were born overseas, said Frances King.
The school, which charges more than £30,000 a year for senior boarders, has faced dwindling admissions in recent years as the recession hit domestic demand and attitudes towards single-sex schools changed.
Mrs King, 51, became the world-renowned independent school’s headmistress three years ago to deal with the “challenge” of repositioning the school, which educates girls aged from 11 to 18.
Since then the school has recruited heavily for more overseas students, especially from the Far East, with half of the school’s pupils now foreign, with the rest British.
Recently the school, established in the late 1800s, has just made lessons in Mandarin Chinese compulsory “for all year nines who don’t yet speak it” because officials want to “make sure our local girls understand our international students”.
But the Oxford-educated head-teacher, admitted some middle-class parents from “Kensington and Wiltshire” only enrol their children in order to “do the social-climbing bit”.
Occasionally some of these “misfit” parents “can’t really cope with the reality of the school”, she admitted on Sunday. “They want to do the social-climbing bit. They want to enter into a world that never was,” she told the Sunday Times Magazine. “It’s a misty-eyed look to the past when everything was just ‘great’. But it wasn’t at all.
“Fifty years ago boarding schools were horrific places. The fagging, the beating, cold water, leaking windows. That’s why I’m very transparent with my parents who sit on my sofa, because once in a while I will have the ‘misfits’.”
She continued: “You can tell when they walk in the room. They come straight out of Kensington and Wiltshire or wherever, and they have not caught up with how we are different from what they thought we were. “The danger is, Roedean has this name people think they know – an all-white, jollyhockey-sticks school. And these lovely parents from Wiltshire walk down the corridor and have the shock of their life.
“My students come from Brighton, from Hong Kong, from Nigeria, France, Wisconsin (in America) and (some parents) can’t really cope with the reality of the school. Our intake is around 50 per cent international, 50 per cent British.”
According to its latest figures, the number of enrolled students has fallen by more than half in recent years, from a peak of about 800 to its current levels of 375.
About 15 per cent of its sixth form go on to study at either Oxford or Cambridge universities. “Roedean has been forced to be more original. I knew its reputation and I was up for a challenge,” Mrs King said.
“One shouldn’t be alarmed that the world is changing. I see our USP as holding onto the past, but ensuring we educate girls for a career in any country in the world. This is the future. “Your job is going to be in Melbourne, New York, Cambodia or Geneva, and you need to feel comfortable with people from all over.”
She said the school was in solid financial shape after it sold the St Mary’s Hall senior school site to the local hospital for £10m and its junior school to Brighton College for an undisclosed sum.
After it bought the school in 2009, a row over its new fees forced many parents to move their children to the state sector.
Attempt to silence British anti-immigrant party
“A council has said it will cancel a village hall’s rate subsidy if it hosts a speech by British National Party leader Nick Griffin.
Mr Griffin is due to give a talk at Baldslow Memorial Hall in St Leonards, East Sussex, today. But Hastings Borough Council has told those who run the hall they will have to repay the £376 they received as a charity in rate relief if the speech goes ahead.
However the council has been accused of trying to ‘blackmail’ the village hall.
Hastings Borough Council leader Jeremy Birch said the local authority was ‘committed to equality of opportunity and to community harmony. He added: ‘We have no intention of providing financial subsidy to those who aim to undermine these principles.’
BNP party spokesman Simon Darby said: ‘It’s quite beyond belief what they are trying to do. ‘They’re basically seeking to tax people who don’t agree with the Labour Party, which is not really the British way to do things.
‘It’s effectively blackmail, putting a gun to the people that run the hall by giving them a financial penalty if Nick is allowed to speak there. He’s an MEP [Member of the European Parliament], he’s not some person off the street.’
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up — on his usual vastly “incorrect” themes of race, genes, IQ etc.