Number of patients on mixed sex wards is RISING after falling to record low
The number of NHS patients forced to share hospital accommodation with the opposite sex rose slightly last month.
Data from the Department of Health reveals 1,244 breaches of mixed sex rules in England in October, up from a record low of 1,079 in September.
The number of breaches had been falling after the Government introduced fines to tackle the problem. Hospitals are docked £250 per patient per day if they place people with members of the opposite sex without clinical justification. Of the 167 acute trusts that submitted data for October, 114 made no breaches of the rules.
Hospitals in two strategic health authorities – London and South East Coast – accounted for almost two thirds of breaches across the country. One trust – East Sussex – accounted for 169 breaches due to a short-term problem.
A statement from the trust said there were a few days in October when there was a ‘sudden surge in severely ill patients’ needing admission to the hospital. ‘This led to one of our day units being used to admit inpatients requiring an operation,’ it said.
‘The trust is committed to minimising cancelled operations and, for this short period of time, exceptional measures were introduced to ensure patients requiring an operation could be admitted.
‘Whilst from a quality perspective, patients were cared for well, some patients had to change behind closed curtains into theatre gowns in order to go to theatre. ‘This breached Department of Health guidelines of same-sex accommodation.’
Single-sex accommodation means patients of the same sex sharing sleeping, bathroom and toilet facilities, either in single rooms or single-sex wards.
If men and women share a ward, then they must have separate bays or rooms. Intensive care and A&E are exempt from the policy.
Almost 12,000 hospital patients stayed in mixed-sex accommodation last December, when monthly collection of data was first introduced.
Since then the number of reported breaches – when a patient stayed overnight in shared accommodation – has fallen by 90 per cent.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said ‘Treating patients in mixed-sex accommodation compromises their dignity and causes additional stress at what is already a difficult and anxious time. For years, governments have said that clamping down on this is a priority, yet still it continues to happen.
‘Now the Department of Health’s figures show a marked increase in the number of people staying in mixed-sex accommodation. ‘It is clear that cuts are beginning to bite and hospitals are struggling to ensure that the care they provide is up to an acceptable standard.
‘It is not enough to spout rhetoric about mixed-sex accommodation being unacceptable, the Department of Health needs to provide practical support to the trusts who continue to breach mixed-sex accommodation guidelines to stamp out this problem once and for all.’
Health Minister Simon Burns said ‘The NHS has made significant improvement in tackling mixed-sex accommodation – down almost 90 per cent in under a year, thanks to improved transparency. ‘But despite this overall improvement, nobody should have to suffer the indignity of mixed-sex accommodation. ‘Every unjustified breach is one too many.’
British man too sick to go to jail
Killer motorist with 50 convictions spared jail after idiot British judge says his hands ‘are tied’ because criminal wouldn’t get care he needs
He once killed a mother of two while speeding. Yet the tragic consequences of his actions meant nothing to Kevin Bracken. In the subsequent 20 years, he has racked up more than 50 driving offences.
But even now he will not face the full force of the law after a judge said he could not jail him because his local prison would not provide the round-the-clock care he needs for his physical and mental disabilities.
His latest offence came in January this year when the 46-year-old led police on a terrifying chase on the wrong side of a dual carriageway.
He had already totted up five convictions for dangerous driving, 29 for driving while disqualified, and 15 for taking a vehicle or allowing himself to be carried in a vehicle that had been taken.
Judge William Morris said that Bracken had ‘a complete disregard for the law’ and ‘deserved’ to go to prison for 19 months for his sixth dangerous driving offence, close to the two-year maximum sentence. ‘This is a shocking case of dangerous driving – how many times has that been said to you by judges?’ he asked. ‘I have never seen a record so bad for driving offences. You deserve to go to prison and you know it.’
However, having receiving guidance from Forest Bank prison in Salford, the judge admitted: ‘My hands are tied. I have had a letter from the prison to say that the medical services there simply could not cope with you, so what can I do?’
Bolton Crown Court heard that Bracken’s estranged wife has given up her job to look after him 24 hours a day. ‘The sad fact for you is you are almost imprisoned by your medical condition now,’ the judge added.
Bracken, who cannot walk unaided, says he is now paralysed on one side, though the precise nature of his disabilities is unclear. He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance following a four-mile pursuit through Bolton on January 21. The court heard he performed two U-turns, went through two red lights, and drove on the wrong side of a dual carriageway.
After crashing he got into the passenger seat and told police that the driver had fled. But when officers tried to open the driver-side door, it was jammed shut.
William Donnelly, prosecuting, said of Bracken: ‘He is a prolific offender and has five previous convictions for reckless or dangerous driving. Tragically he caused the death of an individual in 1991.’ Bracken was jailed for two years after the death of Tracey Richardson, 28, who had popped out to buy sweets for her children. ‘One would think that would act as a brake in this behaviour, but not in the case of Bracken,’ added Mr Donnelly.
Judge Morris gave Bracken, of Bolton, a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and an additional five-year driving ban. ‘I won’t be driving again,’ Bracken said. ‘It was a moment of madness and I am very sorry for what I did.’
Last night, campaigners condemned the decision to keep him out of jail, and called for adequate punishments for persistent offenders.
Katie Shephard, of road safety charity Brake, said: ‘We know that losing a loved one in a road crash is sudden and completely devastating. It rips families’ lives apart. It’s appalling that he continues to risk innocent road users lives by getting behind the wheel’. She added: ‘There should be provisions in place so that offenders can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law’.
The BBC illustrates the one thing socialist Britain is good at: Bureaucratic bloat
The BBC may have embarked on some of the most dramatic cost-cutting in its history, but it seems there is still some way to go. There are almost 4,500 job titles in existence at the Corporation, it has emerged, and almost 2,000 of its staff have the word manager in their title.
It is thought there are even more staff on top of this who are classed as and paid as managers but do not have the word in their job titles.
The broadcaster, which has long been accused of having too many middle and senior managers, also employs 191 staff with the word ‘adviser’ in the title.
Following a Freedom of Information request, the BBC has also admitted that 44 members of staff have the word ‘strategy’ in their job role. Within its news department alone there are more than 1,000 job titles, another 700 in its TV department and nearly 500 in radio.
There could be significantly more roles because the figures only refer to BBC staff on permanent and fixed-term contracts and do not include casual workers, or jobs at its commercial arm or BBC World News.
Yesterday critics said the figures showed the BBC was still wasting large amounts of money ‘on sustaining a massive bureaucracy’. The area with the second highest number of job titles – 918 – was the Corporation’s operations group and executive support projects, which is not involved with programme making. Just what do they do?
This part of the business is in charge of areas such as strategy, policy, distribution, property, legal affairs and looking after the organisation’s buildings.
A BBC spokesman defended the number of different roles, claiming that the title manager is ‘generally used to reflect a particular level of experience and seniority within the BBC rather than someone who actually manages a team of people’.
Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘This is fresh evidence to support longstanding concerns that the BBC is wasting huge amounts of money sustaining a massive bureaucracy.
‘Families struggling to pay their licence fee on top of so many other bills, and expecting it to be spent on things like making programmes, will be worried that too much of their money is going on a bloated management structure.’
The news comes after the BBC promised last year that it was banning baffling job titles and would make it clearer to the public what staff are doing.
Last month, BBC chief operating officer Caroline Thomson was asked on Newsnight why when the Corporation wanted to put money into programmes it was at the same time trying to recruit a ‘decision support analyst’ on £58,000 a year. She admitted: ‘I don’t know what that person actually does but what I do say is that you want the BBC to be a well-managed organisation.’
Number of British secondary school children from ethnic minorities soars by 57% in ten years
White British pupils have become a minority in many secondary schools in England, according to a study. The research found that the number of ethnic minority pupils has sharply risen by 57 per cent in ten years. In some areas, including inner London boroughs, up to 67 per cent – just over two thirds – are from ethnic minorities.
In some individual secondary schools, the figure rises to 98 per cent of pupils, said the survey by King’s College London. The trend is seen right across England, showing that ethnic minority families are moving out of town centres to the suburbs.
Professor Chris Hamnett, a geographer who conducted the study, said the increase is not due to children who have recently arrived but pupils who were born in England. He said patterns of birth rates indicate that the proportion of ethnic minority pupils will continue to increase in future decades. Such changes have become a lasting feature of the ethnic make-up of England’s population, added the professor. He said his data reveals a ‘very substantial’ shift in the population, representing an ‘irrevocable’ change.
The study examined the changing demographics of schools from 1999 to 2009 following decades of migration to this country. The 57 per cent increase in ethnic minority pupils came as the overall secondary school population rose 4.7 per cent. There has also been a slight decline in the number of white pupils, a figure which also includes migrants from Eastern Europe.
Across the country, the proportion of ethnic minority pupils has risen in a decade from 11.5 per cent to 17 per cent.
Professor Hamnett forecasts that it is set to continue increasing to 20 per cent. He found that London has the highest proportion of ethnic minority pupils at 67 per cent.
The capital was followed by Slough with 64 per cent, Leicester at 58 per cent, Birmingham at 52 per cent and Luton with 51 per cent. Manchester and Bradford both have 43 per cent.
There are also wide differences in the ethnic breakdowns of schools in different parts of the country. In places such as Knowsley, near Liverpool, Cumbria and Durham, fewer than two per cent of secondary pupils are from ethnic minorities. In the London boroughs of Brent, Tower Hamlets and Newham, the figure is above 80 per cent.
In primary schools, the government’s annual school census this year showed that 862,735 children, more than a quarter of pupils, are from an ethnic minority. The figure is up from 22 per cent in 2007.
When Labour took power in 1997, the total was 380,954. In Newham, only eight per cent of primary pupils are from a white British background.
No more ‘pew jumping’: Affluent British parents who adopt religion to get children into faith schools is unfair practice, says watchdog
A pathetic interference in the life of the church. The school’s criteria are clearly religious
Middle-class parents were told yesterday they may no longer be able to ‘pew jump’ to get their offspring into the best schools. The warning follows an admissions watchdog judgment against a South London secondary accused of ‘selecting’ affluent pupils.
Coloma Roman Catholic convent school in Croydon gives priority to girls who, along their parents, attend mass and help out at church. It also requires its pupils to have been baptised within six months of their birth.
The Office of the Schools Adjudicator said the practice was unfair and the school should, instead, cater for pupils who live the closest. The OSA accused the school of falsely claiming its ‘parish life criteria’ ensured it served disadvantaged members of its community.
The investigation was triggered, in part, by the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark, which claimed the school’s policy was unfair and counter to its guidance.
Paul Pettinger, of the Accord Coalition, which campaigns for non-denominational schools, said: ‘There is no doubt that many faith schools are socially selective – this may force many to stop.’
Faith schools, which routinely get the best GCSE and A-level results, may now have to ditch faith-based criteria, such as the number of times applicants attend mass. That means parents will be less able to ‘pew jump’ – adopt religion for the sake of their child’s schooling.
Critics of faith schools say faith- based criteria enable affluent parents to secure places because they can afford to spend time helping their church.
In another blow for faith schools, the Education Bill, which became law on Wednesday, makes it much easier to trigger an investigation into school admissions.
Admissions for non-faith schools are dealt with by the local council. However, faith schools are in charge of their own admissions.
British nativity plays are threatened by teachers’ work to rule
Militant teaching union members are threatening a return to the sustained industrial action of the 1980s that caused havoc in schools for years.
Teachers and teaching assistants will refuse to hold nativity plays, put up Christmas decorations, photocopy hand-outs for class or supervise out-of-hours games sessions.
They will not prepare lessons, mark homework, write reports, chase up truants, track pupils’ progress or stream youngsters. And they will work a strict 6.5-hour day, a 32.5-hour week and a 194-day year, and refuse to cover the class of a sick colleague.
The move is the outcome of the latest ballot for industrial action by hardline teachers’ union the NASUWT. The results, due tomorrow, are expected to show the majority voted in favour of a two-pronged assault on the Government – to work to rule as well as to strike. Other unions voted only for a rolling series of strikes.
The action could cause a ‘catastrophic’ deterioration in school standards for weeks, months or even years, putting the education of millions of pupils in jeopardy. It is also likely to spoil Christmas fun in schools as staff refuse to make an effort to mark the festive season. And it comes as education standards in England are slipping in comparison with the rest of the developed world.
Nick Seaton, of the parent pressure group the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘This could be catastrophic for the pupils and most parents will find it totally unacceptable. ‘Duties such as lesson preparation are absolutely fundamental to good teaching. They should always form part of a teacher’s working life.’
NASUWT members are taking action over a row about changes to their pension scheme and a dispute over conditions and working hours. The union’s 227,500 balloted members work in two-thirds of schools, the majority of which are in the secondary sector.
The action could herald the return of militant union activity in schools on a scale last seen in the 1980s when, for two years, between 1984 and 1986 the NASUWT went on strike and worked to rule.
In a letter to members, Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT said it is ‘critically important’ that they vote in favour of action and called for a repeat of the 1980s. She said: ‘NASUWT members supported a combination of action short of strike action and strike action in the 1980s/90s. ‘This secured from the Conservative Government contractual changes…’
If members of the NASUWT vote in favour of action they will be free to take part in the TUC’s national day of action on November 30.
They will join other public sector unions including four representing teachers and heads. It will mean that more than 200,000 heads, deputy heads, teachers and teaching assistants could strike in addition to dinner ladies, cleaners and admin staff who belong to the other unions such as Unison.
The combination will result in massive staff shortages that will make it impossible for most schools to open, for practical or health and safety reasons.