NHS Doctors ORDERED to treat elderly with respect… but shouldn’t that go without saying?
Doctors are having to be ordered to ensure the elderly do not go hungry or thirsty on NHS wards.
The General Medical Council has drawn up new guidelines reminding them that their care does not begin and end with providing clinical treatment.
They are urged to be ‘guardians of patient safety’ and take the lead whenever there is a risk that dignity or comfort are being compromised.
But campaigners say it is ‘very worrying’ that doctors need to be instructed about their basic duties such as ensuring patients are helped to eat, drink or go to the lavatory.
There is growing concern that the elderly are routinely neglected in hospitals. Earlier this month a highly critical report by the Care Quality Commission watchdog found that half of hospitals were failing to ensure patients did not become malnourished or dehydrated.
Some patients were not given anything to drink for more than ten hours. On some wards inspectors saw patients banging their bed rails to try to attract attention of medical staff, and in many hospitals the elderly were routinely forced to undergo the indignity of using commodes next to their beds because staff were too busy to take them to the lavatory.
The guidelines tell doctors they have a duty to take ‘prompt action’ whenever there are ‘problems with basic care for patients who are unable to drink, feed or clean themselves’. A doctor found to be in breach of them could be hauled in front of a GMC panel and in extreme cases struck off.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: ‘The shocking neglect of vulnerable and elderly patients revealed by recent reports shows that health professionals have to do more to ensure that every patient gets the quality of care he or she should receive, and is treated with respect.
‘Our current guidance already sets out a doctor’s duty to raise concerns where they feel that patient safety is at risk. We wanted to make it even clearer that doctors have a leading role to take prompt action if they identify problems.
‘This applies not just to clinical care, but in making sure their patients are getting all the help they need to eat, drink and wash. Doctors have to be the guardians of patient safety.’
The rules are to be added to the GMC’s Good Medical Practice, a handbook for doctors. They are included in a draft version published yesterday which will be reviewed by senior doctors, healthcare workers and patient groups before the final version is published next year.
But Joyce Robbins of Patient Concern said: ‘It’s terrifying that such guidance should be needed. What we would like to see is the GMC taking strict action against those doctors in charge of patients who are being neglected.’
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said such guidelines ‘should be part of the norm’. ‘Doctors should see a patient as a human and whatever their need they should be able to provide it,’ she said. ‘It should be as much a doctor’s responsibility as any other member of staff.
‘Their duties go beyond clinical care and include dignity and respect. It’s surprising and worrying that doctors need to be reminded.’
The guidelines also urge GPs to encourage patients to go back to work if they have been off sick for long periods. They state that they may have to ‘encourage patients to stay in or return to employment or other purposeful activity’.
The Daily Mail has long called for an end to the neglect of patients in old age as part of our Dignity for the Elderly campaign. Last year we launched a separate campaign with the Patients Association to highlight poor care on NHS wards.
Our coverage helped prompt the Government to order the Care Quality Commission to carry out spot-checks of hospitals to see if elderly were properly fed and treated with dignity.
Third world midwife who ‘effectively strangled’ newborn with umbilical cord found guilty of string of hospital blunders
You get some choice types looking after you in the NHS
A midwife who nearly strangled a newborn to death with its umbilical cord has been found guilty of misconduct. Mercy Ngozi Okeke – who was employed at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, Kent between January 3 to February 24, 2006 – denied around 30 separate allegations claiming they were fabricated by colleagues.
But she was found guilty by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and now faces a ban from the medical profession.
The tribunal heard about numerous incidents, including how Okeke had ‘effectively strangled’ a baby with its own umbilical cord as she failed to cut it after birth, injected two patients in the wrong place and carried out a vaginal exam incorrectly.
It was also claimed that she demonstrated poor communication skills with patients and families as well as fellow colleagues.
Panel chairman Evis Samupfonda said: ‘Ms Okeke was not competent to carry out competent or safe midwifery care.’ Addidng that Okeke demonstrated ‘a lack of knowledge, skills and judgement across a broad range of practice areas which include the core skills of midwifery.’
Colleagues at Queen Mary’s Hospital, were quick to raise concerns over Okeke, who trained at King George Hospital in conjunction with South Bank University. In a three page email written to bosses following one incident midwife Helen Foreman said: ‘Mercy cannot be relied up to act safely and react to clinical change.’
Giving evidence, midwife Anne-Marie Robertson added: ‘I was working with Mercy on January 17, 2006, and I was expecting to support her, but for her to lead. ‘She seemed very unhappy about this but would not explain what her concerns were, or would mumble which was hard to understand.’.
‘She was given clear instructions but didn’t seem to be interested in what she had to do. ‘She showed unwillingness to interact with the patients, she just wanted to stand in the corner of the room and watch it happen.’
In defense Okeke claimed she was bullied and ‘tormented’ by staff while under a period of supervised practice, but there was no record of her ever making a complaint.
After receiving midwifery training Okeke resigned from her first post at Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, after just eight months in December 2005 and was then placed under supported practice amid numerous concerns about her incompetence.
In July 2006 she then went onto work as an agency nurse for Newham University Hospital, in Plaistow before moving to King George Hospital in Goodmayes, Essex. At both hospitals a range of medical mistakes were reported and she failed an assessment testing her knowledge and communication skills.
The NMC panel agreed her fitness to practice was impaired and her conduct fell below that of a registered nurse. An interim ban on the nurse will continue until the panel meets again to decide on what sanction to impose.
British government calls for a halt to power games by British judges
Theresa May has launched a fresh attack on British judges accusing them of being overzealous in their use of the Human Rights Act. The Home Secretary has claimed that the courts in this country go further than the European Court of Human Rights itself when considering immigration appeals.
Mrs May says judges are allowing too many immigrants to stay in the country on the grounds that their relatives might suffer if they were forced to leave. Thousands of illegal immigrants cite Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – the right to respect for private and family life – to fight deportation.
The Home Secretary’s comments are set to reignite her bitter feud with Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, who has dismissed her suggestion that the British courts are too lenient. Mr Clarke publicly ridiculed Mrs May after she highlighted a case in which an illegal immigrant’s pet cat was taken into account at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month.
However, defiant Mrs May has continued her onslaught against the Human Rights Act in a letter to Westminster’s joint committee on human rights which is examining judgements.
Mrs May said there was a major divergence in the approach of British judges with the stance of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Mrs May said that deportation appeals made under article 8 were only upheld by Strasbourg in the ‘most exceptional circumstances’.
In contrast, she went on to cite the case of a woman who was allowed to remain in Britain because she would be forced to live with her mother who ‘she did not feel a close bond’ in Kenya.
One of the judges in the case said that forcing her to return to Kenya was ‘unreasonable’.
The judge also considered whether the woman, who had been in Britain since 2002, would struggle to adjust to Kenyan society and would be able to continue her hobby of singing in a church choir.
She said judges are supposed to consider whether there are ‘insurmountable’ obstacles to families being sent home, the test applied in Strasbourg. But they are increasingly setting weaker tests of their own.
Mrs May wrote: ‘There is now a divergence in approach between the UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over whether the family of a person facing removal from the UK can live elsewhere, and the weight given to family relationships formed whilst migrants are knowingly breaking immigration laws.
‘We have wide-ranging concerns with the operation of article 8 in an immigration context’.
The Home Secretary cited another case of a judge found there was no ‘compelling public interest’ in deporting a woman to Jamaica although she had made a mockery of the immigration system. ‘This was his conclusion, despite the fact (she) originally entered the UK as a visitor, switched into a student category and then married as an overstayer’, Mrs May wrote.
Mrs May’s letter was sent to the committee after it asked for some examples of ‘inappropriate application’ of article 8 in immigration cases.
She added: ‘In a number of more recent cases, the UK courts have substituted for whether there are ‘insurmountable obstacles’ the alternative question of whether it is ‘reasonable to expect’ the family of an applicant facing removal to join him or her in his or her country of origin’.
A spokeswoman for Mrs May said: ‘We don’t comment on leaked documents.’
A far-Left Archbishop runs true to form
Two weeks after the invasion of St Paul’s, the Archbishop finally speaks – and backs protesters
The Archbishop of Canterbury last night broke his silence on the protesters camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral, saying he sympathised with the ‘urgent larger issues’ they raised.
In a sign of the panic within the Church of England high command since the arrival of the activists, Dr Rowan Williams intervened yesterday after the dean of the cathedral became the third member of staff to resign.
Indicating his support for the anti-capitalists’ aims, the Archbishop said: ‘The urgent larger issues raised by the protesters at St Paul’s remain very much on the table. ‘We need – as a Church and as society as a whole – to work to make sure that they are properly addressed.’
The Archbishop’s intervention was sparked by the resignation yesterday of the Dean of St Paul’s, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles. The dean caused controversy when he closed the historic building’s doors last month for the first time since the Second World War, citing ‘health and safety concerns’ over the tents.
The cathedral reopened last week but the dean said yesterday his position had become ‘untenable’ amid the ongoing row.
The Archbishop’s endorsement of the right of the protesters to campaign showed just how confused the Church of England remains in its response to the encampment on its doorstep.
His remarks came as the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, confirmed yesterday that legal efforts to persuade the activists to leave have begun. The bishop stressed that cathedral officials did not want a violent eviction.
The dean’s departure followed Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s, Giles Fraser – who had told police to leave the activists alone after their arrival on October 15 – and part-time chaplain Fraser Dyer.
The Occupy London protesters were showing no signs of leaving despite the cathedral’s requests. They were understood to have been served official notice from the City of London Corporation yesterday afternoon, giving them 48 hours to remove their tents and equipment before they face eviction.
Dr Williams said the dean’s departure was ‘very sad news’.
He added: ‘The events of the last couple of weeks have shown very clearly how decisions made in good faith by good people under unusual pressure can have utterly unforeseen and unwelcome consequences, and the clergy of St Paul’s deserve our understanding. Graeme Knowles will be much missed.’
Yesterday a significant protester splinter group refused even to support the cathedral’s requests for drink, drugs and loud music to be banned from the protest camp.
They appeared largely bemused by the resignation of the dean – which he had to yesterday submit to the Queen, since his job is a crown appointment.
Their reluctance to leave was indicated by placards saying ‘Hell no we won’t go’ and ‘Jesus did not quit – he drove the money lenders from the temple’.
In a statement Mr Knowles, the dean for four years, said: ‘Since the arrival of the protesters’ camp outside the cathedral, we have all been put under a great deal of strain and have faced what would appear to be some insurmountable issues.
‘It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as dean of St Paul’s was becoming untenable.
‘In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul’s, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised.’
St Paul’s spokesman the Right Reverend Michael Colclough said: ‘We are committed to doing all we can to find a way ahead that ensures the main message of the protest is not only heard but properly attended to, and in such a way that people in the local community, as well as our own team, can do their work peacefully for the good of everyone.’
The Bishop of London explained that due to the ‘great mystery’ of the Church of England’s organisation, the cathedral made its own decisions without control from him. But he said St Paul’s officials had asked him to help out in the protesters’ row. He went on: ‘There are many diverse voices in the camp outside St Paul’s, but among them, serious issues are being articulated which the cathedral has always sought to address.’
The bishop stressed that all in the church wanted a peaceful resolution, but added said that any responsible organisation had to investigate its legal powers.
Outside, the camp still numbers about 200 tents – but barely 50 protesters attended a meeting yesterday afternoon to decide tactics. About a quarter of those present indicated that they were reluctant to accept basic requests from the cathedral for drink and drugs to be barred from the site and the camp to be kept tidy.
In a statement, the group, whose official name is Occupy London Stock Exchange, said: ‘The management of St Paul’s Cathedral is obviously deeply divided over the position they have taken in response to our cause – but our cause has never been directed at the staff of the cathedral.’ The real issue was ‘challenging the unsustainable financial system that punishes the many and privileges the few’, it added.
Named and shamed, the control-freak British social workers who leave children languishing in care rather than finding them new homes
The councils that leave children languishing in care homes rather than find them new families through adoption have been named and shamed.
The new breakdown released as part of David Cameron’s drive to increase the number of children adopted said the worst-performing social workers, in an East London borough, failed to find new families within a year for more than half its children destined for adoption. But the best, in York, found new homes for all the children in their care who were prepared for adoption.
The major gap between the most and least successful local authorities in finding adoptive homes for children in care came as the Prime Minister launched an appeal for more would-be parents to come forward to give children new homes.
Mr Cameron’s campaign follows attempts by Education Secretary Michael Gove to push councils into speeding up their adoption rates – and figures released last month that show how social workers have failed to respond.
‘It is shocking that of the 3,600 children under the age of one in care, only 60 were adopted last year,’ the Prime Minister said. ‘We will publish data on how very local authority is performing to ensure they are working quickly enough to provide the safe and secure family environment every child deserves.’
Hackney, in London, came bottom of the table with just 43 per cent of children being placed with adoptive parents within 12 months.
Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said: ‘I want local authorities to be free to develop services to reflect the needs of their local population, but with that freedom comes responsibility.
‘Areas like York, Oxfordshire, and North Yorkshire are thinking creatively and making good progress on adoption. Other authorities need to follow their lead. Many social workers are doing an excellent job for the children and families they work with, but there is no excuse for the poor performance we are seeing laid bare today.
Martin Narey, the Government’s adoption adviser, called for abused and neglected children to be identified and removed from their homes more quickly.
‘Adoption transforms the lives of some of the most neglected and abused children in the UK,’ he said. ‘We need earlier identification of neglect and removal of children from that neglect. We need early identification of adoption – when it is clearly best for the child – and an administrative and legal system which completes the adoption much more quickly than at present.
‘Finally, we need an assessment process for prospective adopters which is welcoming, efficient, and which balances the quite proper warnings about the challenges of adoption with a little more about the joy it so often brings.’
But the Local Government Association that represents councils cautioned against pushing too hard for permanent new families for children taken into care because of neglect or abuse.
Its children’s spokesman David Simmonds said: ‘A one-size-fits-all approach is not the right solution for some children. Adoption is right for some but for others long-term stability might best be found with friends and family through special guardianship. Councils will continue to work hard to press for much greater freedom for social work professionals to be able to use their judgment.’
Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said: ‘I’m very concerned that Hackney is bottom of this league table. We need to know if the cause is inefficiency or if there are other reasons why Hackney is taking longer to place children with adoptive parents.
‘Poor boroughs like Hackney face difficulties in obtaining adopters. Families may be willing but housing conditions and the size of property may be an issue. That’s why we need to find out exactly what is going wrong. It can be very sad for children in care indefinitely, when they do not know what the future is.’
Marines returning from Afghanistan honoured with parade through London
BritGov does the right thing, for a change
Heroes returning from Afghanistan have been welcomed home with a parade through the streets of London and a Parliamentary reception.
A total of 120 servicemen and women took part in the parade from Wellington Barracks to the House of Commons. The troops, who have all recently returned from a six-month tour, were accompanied by The Plymouth Band of the Royal Marines.
Lieutenant Colonel Ewen Murchison, Commanding Officer of 42 Commando, said: ‘This gives the guys an opportunity to understand that our efforts of the six hard months we have had in Afghanistan are recognised nationally, because this is the House of Commons.
‘But it also gives the people here in London an opportunity to talk to the guys who have spent six months in Afghanistan and understand the challenges they have been facing.’ He admitted that it was ‘surreal’ to be in such grand surroundings as the House of Commons having been in Afghanistan so recently.
Lt Col Murchison added: ‘It’s hugely uplifting to come back. There has been a huge amount of support which has been a great source of encouragement for us, especially in the dark days we have had.’
There were 19 fatalities during the tour and several of those taking part in today’s parade had been injured.
Lance Corporal Ash Swinard, of 42 Commando, was on his third tour when he was injured in an improvised explosive device blast in July, and had his right leg amputated below the knee. The 26-year-old, from Sheffield, who has had a prosthetic leg fitted, said: ‘It feels amazing to be back home and back on my own two feet. ‘This is the goal I was working towards when I was in hospital.’
He admitted it had been a ‘tough time’ for his family, including his fiancee, but that he is now looking forward to his wedding next May.
Marine Harry Butcher, of 42 Commando, also returned injured, having been hit by a rocket. The 24-year-old from Manchester, who has undergone reconstructive surgery on his leg, said: ‘It’s good being back with all the lads, seeing them and knowing that near enough everyone has come back. It’s a lot of weight off your shoulders.’
He said it was ‘great’ to have public support, and added: ‘It’s like a big “well done”, and it’s nice knowing people recognise what you’ve done.’
Those taking part in the parade had all served on Operation Herrick 14 and included 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, 45 Commando Royal Marines, 42 Commando Royal Marines, 30 Commando IX Group Royal Marines, 29 Commando Royal Artillery, Commando Logistics Regiment Royal Marines, 24 Commando Engineer Regiment Royal Marines, Med Group & 101 Engineer Regiment.
Brigadier Ed Davis, Commander of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, said: ‘It has been humbling to see the sacrifice and the professionalism of our people.
‘Their humanity and their desire to reach out to the people of Helmand and their insatiable desire to make a difference has been inspiring.’
“Exemplary” British headmistress who created ‘culture of fear’ among teachers is banned from job for life
A bullying headmistress who created ‘a culture of fear and intimidation’ for teachers has been banned from the job for life.
Debbie Collinson ‘bullied, intimidated and swore’ at teachers and encouraged staff to openly criticise each other. She told one 31-year-old female teacher: ‘Have I made a mistake in employing you? I hope you’re not one of those mothers who take time off to be with their children’.
Collinson, in her late 40s, even invited pupils to meetings where they dished the dirt on teachers in exchange for coke and doughnuts. On another occasion, she swore at staff regarding a school play and verbally abused a teacher when she requested time off.
She also urged staff to falsely improve pupil attendance records and test scores.
Collinson was headteacher at the 430-pupil Harrow Gate Primary School in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, between January 1, 2000 and March 24, 2010. Surprisingly in 2008, she was hailed by education chiefs for ‘demonstrating the best sort of resilient and courageous leadership’.
But she was found guilty of professional misconduct at the General Teaching Council (GTC) in Birmingham on Friday. The panel slapped her with a conditional registration order, banning her from ever working as a headteacher again. However, she is still free to work as a teacher.
Chairwoman Dr Barbara Hibbert said: ‘Ms Collinson’s behaviour demonstrated a wholesale disregard for the standards expected of a headteacher. ‘Fundamentally this case involves Ms Collinson’s failure to properly exercise her position of authority as a headteacher. ‘Either directly or by creating a culture of fear and intimidation, she bullied colleagues and sought to falsify records and test results.
‘Such behaviour is clearly unacceptable particularly for a headteacher who has a responsibility for setting an example to others and exercising a positive leadership role. ‘We consider that it is appropriate that Ms Collinson be allowed to continue teaching but in view of her failings in her role as a headteacher, she should never be allowed to hold that role again’.
The panel heard that Collinson would also reshuffle staff to different posts and assign them to different areas of the school as a punishment tactic. She even ordered teachers ‘to make life difficult’ for a colleague returning from maternity leave.
In a bid to boost the school’s reputation, Collinson also instructed staff to amend attendance records and test results, and ‘condoned giving inappropriate assistance to pupils in tests’. During the spring term in 2008, she gave admin staff ‘no alternative but to falsify attendance records’ after telling them a 95 per cent attendance record had to be achieved.
Between 2007 and 2008, she instructed teachers to amend the results of numerous tests, including KS1 Literacy and Numeracy exams and SATs tests.
Collinson has 28 days to appeal the ruling. She no longer works at Harrow Gate Primary School but it is not known if she is teaching elsewhere.
Happiness CAN help you live longer: The higher your levels of contentment, the lower your risk of premature death, say scientists
These results probably mean only that healthier people are happier. Surprising if they weren’t
People who are happy and have a positive outlook live longer, according to scientists. A five year study of almost 4,000 52 to 79-year-olds revealed that the those who reported higher levels of contentment had a 35 per cent lower risk of premature death.
It is now hoped the findings from the University College of London will further promote ‘positive well-being’ as a remedy for stress and ill health.
Participants involved in the study were asked to rate their feelings of happiness or anxiety four times over the course of a day. The number of deaths were then recorded over a five-year period.
After taking into account age, gender, depression, certain diseases and health-related behaviours scientists found those who reported feeling happiest had a 35 per cent reduced risk of dying early compared with those who reported feeling least happy.
Lead researcher Professor Andrew Steptoe said: ‘The present findings provide further reason to target the positive well-being of older people.’
The long-term study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, backs previous scientific claims that a ‘glass half full’ approach can have various health benefits.
In March scientists from the University of Illinois found positive moods reduced stress-related hormones and strengthened the immune system.
In a review of 160 animal and human studies Prof Ed Diener and his team concluded that happiness ‘contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations.’
Meanwhile anxiety, depression, and pessimism were linked to higher rates of disease and a shorter lifespan.
In recent years positive psychology has received growing interest and in 2006 cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – a form of psychotherapy that promotes happiness – was made available to NHS patients in a bid to tackle the £17 billion cost of depression and anxiety on the UK economy.
Despite the recent findings Professor Steptoe said that there is still no proof feeling happier extends life-span and instead stressed the importance of emotional well-being among older people.