NHS blunders kill 8,000 in 13 years, with a 300 per cent rise in cases from a decade ago
More than 8,000 patients have been killed by NHS errors in 13 years. Some 903 negligence claims involving deaths were made against the Health Service in 2009-10, official figures show – a 300 per cent rise on 1997-98, Labour’s first year in power.
The true number of patients who died needlessly at the hands of bungling doctors, nurses and ambulance staff is likely to be even higher, as not every family will have sued.
The period studied includes the NHS’s worst-ever hospital scandal, in which up to 1,200 people lost their lives because Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust put Whitehall targets and cost-cutting ahead of care. The devastating report into the Stafford Hospital ‘shambles’ found that patients were left unwashed in their own filth for up to a month as nurses ignored their requests to use the toilet or change their sheets.
The maternity unit at Furness General Hospital in Cumbria is under investigation after the death of seven mothers and babies between April and November 2008.
There are also concerns that several reinventions of the healthcare watchdog during Labour’s time in power led to failing hospitals slipping through the net.
Improvements by the Coalition include sending hit squads into care homes to root out examples of the neglect of the elderly. Spot checks will also be carried out in hospitals and centres for people with learning difficulties.
The latest figures, uncovered by Conservative MP Chris Skidmore, relate to clinical negligence claims handled by the National Health Service Litigation Authority. Mr Skidmore, a member of the Commons Health Select Committee, said such levels of poor care must never be allowed to happen again.
The figures show a steady rise in cases involving deaths during Labour’s years in power from 223 in 1997-98, to 903 in 2009-10. The raw figure for 2010-11 is even higher. But Tories say this is because the total contains many claims for deaths from previous years. Stripping out these claims changes the picture – and the 2010-11 figure is the lowest for 25 years.
Joyce Robbins, of campaign group Patient Concern, said the deaths had come despite Labour initially ‘swamping’ the NHS with money. ‘I think targets had a lot to do with it, everything was rushed in order to meet the targets,’ she said. ‘They sound good in theory but people were cleared out before they should have been and not cared for properly.’
Mr Skidmore said: ‘We must now do more to improve patient care, particularly of the elderly and vulnerable.’
Britain’s Immigration farce and the enemy within
When Theresa May entered the Home Office, it appeared likely that her efforts to bring sanity to the nation’s border controls would be challenged by the staunchly pro-immigration Liberal Democrats.
Sadly, this has proved to be the case – with Nick Clegg’s party repeatedly undermining attempts to limit the number of foreign nationals entering the country over the past 18 months.
However, Mrs May now finds herself facing an even more dangerous enemy: her own civil servants at the endemically shambolic UK Border Agency. The real enemy within is the UK border agency who failures have resulted in thousands wrongly entering the country
In recent months, UKBA has allowed a banned preacher of hate to waltz into Britain, repeatedly failed to deport foreign criminals and lost track of enough asylum seekers and illegal immigrants to fill a city the size of Cambridge.
Worse, as we revealed on Saturday, the official paid £135,000-a-year (plus bonuses) to run the UK Border Force relaxed – without ministerial approval – passport and other checks designed to spot potential terrorists, apparently to prevent queues forming during the busy summer months.
Truly the incompetence of UKBA, which underwent endless and utterly ineffectual ‘reform’ under New Labour, knows no limit.
But the suspicion must be that the very ethos of the organisation is also rotten.
UKBA is stuffed to the gunwales with officials who were appointed during the years when Labour operated an entirely open-door immigration policy.
And, even though the government has changed, the bureaucrats remain wedded to the idea that they are somehow performing the country a ‘service’ by letting in all-comers, with no questions asked. Mrs May must change this culture of laxity – and fast.
Rigorous, U.S.-style border checks and queues may not be much fun for Britons returning home from holidaying abroad. But most of us accept that they are far preferable to a terrorist atrocity or murder by a foreign national who should never have set foot in the country in the first place. It’s a great pity those in charge don’t agree.
The British Empire — Vindicated
As many Americans no longer believe in American exceptionalism and others believe America’s greatness is guaranteed to extend perpetually, we could all benefit by reviewing the history of the British Empire, the realm from which we sprung and acquired so much.
By the time most baby boomers were born, the British Empire had declined. The Nazis and Japanese had been defeated in World War II, and two major military powers — the United States and the Soviet Union — were faced off at the beginning of a nearly half-century-long struggle we call the Cold War.
The great British Empire, which dominated the world mere decades before, was rarely in our current events radar, and it got little better treatment in our history courses, except as the villain we had to defeat in two wars to attain our independence and as the waning world power whose chestnuts we had saved from Adolf Hitler’s fire. Oh, how much we missed, not just of British history but of our own, because we can’t fully appreciate our greatness without understanding much more about our immediate ancestor.
But there’s an easy way to make up for all that lost time, a way to fill in the gaps and much more. My friend Harry Crocker’s “Politically Incorrect Guide to the British Empire” has just been released, and it’s a one-stop shop for telling us all we should have learned about that empire and precisely how much we owe it.
We remain in awe of the enormity and dominance of the Roman Empire — and rightly so — but did you realize that at its height, the British Empire was the largest empire ever, covering a quarter of the world — even half, if you consider its control of the oceans — and governing a quarter of the people on the planet?
Though it is de rigueur today to condemn British colonialism, Harry not only defends the Brits’ colonial achievements but also unashamedly champions them. “The empire,” he writes, “was incontestably a good thing. The fact that it is controversial to say so is why this book had to be written. In the groves of academe, colonialism and imperialism are dirty words, the fons et origo of Western expansion with all its alleged sins of racism, capitalism, and ignorant, judgmental, hypocritical Christian moralism.”
In keeping with the book’s title, Harry rejects this politically correct view. To him, “to hate the British Empire is to hate ourselves, for the United States would not exist if not for the British Empire.” Harry means that the British not only established our chartered colonies but also largely populated those settlements and gave us our language, culture, government and, most importantly, our ideas of liberty and the rule of law, including our critically important common law heritage.
The empire has far from a perfect record, and Harry doesn’t hide the blemishes, but he also gives us the other side — finally — and that other side is impressive.
Long before continental Europe went through its turbulent revolutionary period, which ultimately led to republican government, the British had firmly established the roots of free institutions, limited government and impartial justice. And if not for the British command of the high seas and its fierce resistance to French imperialism — a wholly different kind of imperialism from the British variety — Napoleon Bonaparte might have completed his world conquest and we could be speaking French today — a circumstance that many of our liberal elites would undoubtedly welcome.
Moreover, despite America’s essential intervention in World War II, there was a point in that war in which Britain, led by the extraordinary statesman Winston Churchill, stood alone against Hitler’s Third Reich, which was backed by the Soviet Union, Benito Mussolini’s Italy and Imperial Japan. Had Britain lacked just a little bit of resolve, the war might have been over before we entered. I shudder to think what might have happened, how different our own history would have been.
There is also no question that Britain did more to abolish the slave trade (1807) and slavery itself (1833) than any other nation or empire. It also led the pack in the Industrial Revolution, which did more to accelerate the advance to modernity than the advent of democracy in continental Europe.
We read a lot about the evils of British colonialism, but it’s time to look at the other side of the coin. There’s no doubt that in their colonial expansion, the British were partially (and justifiably) guided by their self-interest — pride, profit and patriotism — but the ultimate justification for retaining the empire was the benefits it brought to the governed.
Fifth of Britain’s trainee teachers cannot do sums or spell… and one had 37 resits before passing basic maths test
One in five trainee teachers cannot do simple sums or pass basic spelling and grammar tests. One in ten have failed their final-year numeracy and literacy tests twice in a row, while dozens have needed an astonishing ten attempts.
One clearly innumerate trainee was allowed 37 resits to get through the maths paper.
Critics said yesterday those who take multiple resits should not be teaching and will have a detrimental impact on their pupils. From next year, Education Secretary Michael Gove is limiting the number of retakes to just two.
Trainees have to pass basic skills tests in literacy, numeracy and ICT (information and communication technology) before they qualify for the classroom. The pass mark is a modest 60 per cent.
The latest figures from the Training and Development Agency for Schools reveal that in 2009/10, a fifth of trainees failed both the numeracy and literacy tests first time round.
Some 6,957 failed literacy and numeracy on the second attempt, while 1,508 failed either discipline on their fifth attempt.
More disturbing still are the vast number of resits some trainees have been granted before passing. One took 37 tries to pass numeracy and 57 would-be teachers passed only on their 19th attempt.
Standards have fallen during the last five years. Of the 32,717 trainees who passed their numeracy test in the academic year 2003/4, 83.6 per cent did so first time. And of the 33,412 trainees who passed their literacy test, 86.4 per cent did so at the first attempt.
Last year the figure was 80 per cent for both. Under Mr Gove’s plans, woefully poor trainees will no longer be allowed in the classroom.
His policy would have weeded out 1,963 for poor literacy and 2,939 for poor numeracy last year. But critics say his crackdown does not go far enough.
Passing the numeracy test has been a requirement of Qualified Teacher Status since 2000. Passing tests in literacy and ICT were made compulsory the following year.
Students sit the online tests in the final year of teacher training. They were originally allowed just four or five attempts to pass. But Labour scrapped the rule in 2001 to allow unlimited resits.
Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘It’s shocking we have allowed people to become teachers who don’t fully grasp our language or handle numbers and who we have let slip through the net on the 37th attempt.
‘The nature of tests is that … people will be able to fluke them, which means they pass but have no proper understanding of the subject – much like with driving tests. Three attempts will reduce this possibility, but it does not go far enough.’
What next? EU orders a pollen warning on honey jars
It is, you might think, one of nature’s purest delicacies. But not for the labelling police of the EU.
Under new regulations, jars of honey will have to be marked ‘contains pollen’ – a move experts have branded ludicrous, and say could put some British beekeepers out of business.
It will also have to undergo expensive tests to prove it does not contain unauthorised genetically modified pollen.
Until now, honey had always been considered an entirely unadulterated product for the purposes of food labelling.
But the European Court of Justice has decreed that pollen is an ingredient of honey rather than an intrinsic component.
It means that products will, for the first time, have to carry a list of ingredients such as ‘honey (contains pollen)’.
Britain’s biggest supplier of retail honey, Rowse, said that the bill for re-labelling and testing its entire range will run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
John Howat, secretary of the Bee Farmers’ Association, which represents Britain’s 300 commercial beekeepers, said: ‘This ruling is a real nuisance.
‘The idea that pollen is an ingredient of honey is nonsense. Pollen is integral to honey. Bees collect nectar and pollen. When they are storing it away pollen gets into the nectar and hence into the honey.’
The ruling came after a German amateur beekeeper found small amounts of GM pollen in his honey. He sued the state of Bavaria, which owned trial GM maize plots near his hives, for damaging his produce.
His case ended in the ECJ reclassifying pollen as a food ingredient, in a ruling that cannot be appealed.
Anyone who sells honey to the public, including Britain’s 40,000 amateur beekeepers, faces tests.
Suppliers whose pollen is found to be more than 0.9 per cent GM must undergo full safety authorisation and label their honey accordingly.
But experts say it is unlikely that any honey produced in Britain will contain that level of GM pollen – and claim scientists cannot quantify the content of pollen to that degree of accuracy.
Patrick Robinson, of Oxfordshire-based firm Rowse, said: ‘There is a tiny amount of GM pollen all round the world now. But beekeepers do not tend to put their hives next to cultivated crops.’
He added: ‘To say honey contains pollen is like saying peanuts contain nuts…This could be really damaging to smaller producers and beekeepers.
‘If they have to add on a £200 test for every batch of honey that they pack, it could be more than their profit and run them out of business.’
The European Commission is expected to finalise the regulations over the next year.
Tin Tin in trouble again
“Fears that the book Tintin in the Congo could warp young minds have led publishers to market it with protective packaging with warning labels similar to those on explicit top-shelf magazines
The new film may be good clean family fun, but one of Tintin’s classic adventures has been banished to the adult shelves of bookshops because it is overtly racist.
With a new generation of fans enjoying Steven Spielberg’s movie, The adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn, enthusiasm for collecting all 24 of Herge’s original comic books has never been higher.
Unfortunately, Tintin In The Congo was written in 1930 and depicts African natives as ignorant, simple and backward people, who are far less intelligent than their white visitors.
Leading booksellers such as Waterstones have taken the book out of the children’s section, fearing it ‘could get into the wrong hands’.
Mention of fairies now incorrect?
It’s true that homosexuals are sometimes derisively referrred to as fairies but the guy below could equally well have been referring to the feebleness of the “Little People” (as they call them in Ireland)
A Premier League manager has been accused of homophobia after he criticised his team for playing ‘like fairies’.
Furious viewers said the comment from QPR boss Neil Warnock on BBC sports show Match of the Day Live was a stereotype and should not have been screened.
The BBC’s complaints department agreed the remark was unwelcome and apologised that it had not been redressed while the programme had been on air. It said it would not take any further action because programme-makers had already ‘expressed regret’.
Warnock’s comments came in a TV interview broadcast on April 23, after his team’s 2-2 draw with Cardiff City. He said: ‘We defended like fairies in the first half but the first two goals could have come straight out of the Premier League.’
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up — on his usual vastly “incorrect” themes of race, genes, IQ etc.