Nurse who ‘misread’ medical notes sacked after pensioner dies from massive insulin overdose
A nurse has been sacked after mistakenly giving a pensioner an insulin overdose – ten times the recommended amount, that eventually led to her death. District nurse Helen Burke was fired by NHS Trafford for gross misconduct following the death of 89-year-old Nellie Worrall.
Despite admitting the blunder, Burke will not face legal action after prosecutors ruled there was insufficient evidence against her.
An inquest heard how great-great-grandmother Mrs Worrall – who was diabetic and also suffering from stomach cancer and heart disease -regularly received six units of insulin in the mornings. But when Mrs Burke visited the pensioner’s home on her rounds, she administered a dose of 60 units – 10 times more than normal.
The inquest at Stockport coroner’s court, heard how Mrs Burke also failed to call an ambulance after the blunder in September 2009. It took more than an hour for her bosses at NHS Trafford to get Mrs Worrall to hospital.
Coroner John Pollard ruled Mrs Worrall died from the overdose and recorded a verdict of misadventure and neglect.
Mrs Burke declined to comment. She was sacked after an internal disciplinary investigation ruled her actions amounted to gross misconduct.
The inquest heard how Mrs Burke – a nurse with more than seven years’ experience – made the error despite claiming to read the patient’s notes.
She declined to answer many of the coroner’s questions about her conduct leading up to the incident, which happened at Mrs Worrall’s home in Stretford, Greater Manchester. Her solicitor said the overdose happened after she mistook the letter ‘U’ for units for a zero.
Mrs Burke called her bosses immediately after the incident, but did not call an ambulance. She also left Mrs Worrall’s home to attend other patients on her rounds.
The case was referred Crown Prosecution Service, which was considering whether Mrs Burke should be charged with gross negligence manslaughter. But lawyers decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
After the inquest, Mrs Worrall’s family said they were ‘devastated’ by her death. Her son Harry said her husband of more than 60 years – also called Harry – died just six months after his wife. He said: ‘He died of a broken heart – he had just given up near the end. ‘My mum was a ray of sunshine to everyone she met.’ Mrs Worrall had four sons, nine grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Mr Pollard is now to write to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to recommend mandatory training in diabetic emergencies for all community nurses across the country.
A spokesman for NHS Trafford said: ‘Following the incident, a full and thorough disciplinary investigation was carried out into the events that led to the death of the patient. ‘The investigation concluded that there had been gross misconduct on the part of the nurse, and she was subsequently dismissed on those grounds. Our thoughts and sincerest condolences are with the family.’
The Nursing and Midwifery Council has ruled Mrs Burke can only work under the direct supervision of another registered nurse.
Financial benefits of equality laws are imaginary, says British think-tank
New equality laws have no economic benefit and only a questionable effect on discrimination, a report claims. The study published by the think-tank Civitas says that the supposed economic benefits of recent human rights legislation are “imaginary” and that even their symbolic value is “debatable”.
It claims that rather than saving the country £65million a year, as Government estimates suggest, the Equality Act 2010 will actually cost at least £10m annually while tying small businesses in red tape. The claims come after another study by the think-tank suggested that up to £1billion a year is spent on “mindless” data collection as companies are forced to comply with equalities legislation.
That report found that equality laws have created a cottage industry of bureaucrats who monitor but don’t actually reduce race or gender bias.
Ministers have also been criticised by a backbench Tory MP, Dominic Raab, for implementing costly and bureaucratic elements of Labour’s flagship Equality Act rather than scrapping them after taking office.
The law, which gained Royal Assent just before the election, aimed to improve fairness by banning discrimination against “protected groups” such as ethnic minorities, women, disabled people and homosexuals. It streamlined existing legislation and aimed to improve equal opportunities in the workplace.
The impact assessment published by the Government Equalities Office suggested the law would cost up to £283m to implement in its first year, but the costs would soon be recouped. It was claimed that society would benefit by as much as £62m a year from greater equality.
But in a new Civitas paper called Assessing the Damage, Nigel Williams, a statistician, claims that the costs of implementing the law are far higher while the savings are “largely imaginary”. He said that the official figures are based on the assumption that people will give up some of their prosperity in return for greater equality: “The value is ideological, nothing more.”
It also assumes that combating discrimination does not “harm growth” by dissuading small businesses from recruiting because of the “weight of regulations” and the “threat of an employment tribunal”.
A further £9m in annual savings is expected from the simplification of existing laws, but Mr Williams says this could be bettered by the mere “removal of the offending regulations”.
Meanwhile the prediction of another £4m annual benefit is based on the assumption that changes to the equal pay regime will lead to fewer employment tribunals. But Mr Williams claims the new law may lead to more legal claims against employers and will require even the smallest of firms to digest 800 pages of guidance.
He concludes: “Even if the changes are introduced with extraordinary efficiency by all concerned and the budgeted £200 million proves ample, the annual consequences of this legislation will serve not to pay back the costs, but to add to them. “The ideological benefits of the Equality Act are debatable at best. The financial benefits simply do not exist.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Equality Act replaced nine different laws and allowed us to scrap more than a hundred burdensome regulations. We are protecting individuals from unfair treatment without creating unnecessary red tape and simplifying the system to make it fairer for employers and employees. “We do not accept the Civitas assessment.”
At last, British couples to be freed from ‘slow and unnecessarily bureaucratic’ system that blocks adoption
The red tape used by social workers to prevent couples from adopting children will finally be swept away by common sense reforms, ministers said today. They condemned the current system as ‘slow and unnecessarily bureaucratic’ and for leaving thousands of children abandoned in state care.
Would-be parents have frequently been prevented from adopting children because they were the wrong race, overweight, or because in the past they had smoked. Couples who have looked to adopt have complained they were insulted and abused during the assessment process.
Children’s Minister Tim Loughton announced the overhaul which will see a panel of experts devise a new system for choosing adoptive parents. He said: ‘Children are waiting too long because we are losing many potentially suitable adoptive parents to a system which doesn’t welcome them and often turns them away at the door.’ He added: ‘The assessment process for people wanting to adopt is painfully slow, repetitive and ineffective.’
The reform pledge follows months of deepening anger among Tory ministers at the failure of social workers to put their own house in order, despite overwhelming evidence that a high proportion of children in care have been wrongly denied the chance of a better life with a new family.
In September official figures showed that the number of adoptions of children from care had fallen so low that only 60 babies were found new families in the course of a year. In October, David Cameron ordered a name and shame campaign against councils where social workers delay or derail adoptions.
There have never been any published figures on the numbers of couples turned away for spurious reasons or because of the apartheid-style rules social workers use to decide which families are racially fit to adopt.
But this week adoption agencies reported a surge in applications after a BBC Panorama programme told the stories of six children desperate to find new homes.
In the 1970s around 20,000 children a year, many born to single mothers, were adopted by new families. Numbers plunged in the 1980s alongside improved benefits and free housing for young single mothers, and the development of an anti-adoption mentality among social workers.
Social work chiefs decided that they ‘no longer want to see babies farmed out to middle class mothers’.
Race rules were taken up which said a child could not go to a new family unless they were a close ethnic match. But little independent evidence supports the contention that people cannot bring up a child from a different racial background.
In September this year a devastating set of figures showed numbers of children in care had passed 65,000. Those growing up in state care – children’s homes or temporary foster care – suffer a high risk of leaving school without qualifications and going on to lives of joblessness and crime.
But over a 12-month period to March this year only 3,050 children were adopted from the care system, 5 per cent down on 2010 and 8 per cent down since 2007.
The new panel of experts will include representatives of organisations which have been deeply involved in sustaining the old, discredited process. However it will work under the guidance of Martin Narey, the Government’s adoption adviser, who has been among the strongest critics of the social worker bias against adoption.
Mr Narey said: ‘The more I have visited local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies over the last few months, the more exercised I have become about a parental assessment process which is not fit for purpose. ‘It meanders along, it is failing to keep pace with the number of children cleared for adoption, and it drives many outstanding couples to adopt from abroad.’
The panel will consider a recruitment process which will not see couples coming forward being ‘lost to the system’. It will be asked to speed bureaucracy and stop ‘over-prescription regarding information collected about prospective adopters’.
Fewer black students at Oxford and Cambridge
Oxbridge recruits from a high IQ pool. Very few blacks would be in that pool
The number of black students being awarded places at Oxford and Cambridge dropped even lower last year, according to newly released figures.
Fewer than one in 100 students beginning courses at Britain’s two oldest universities in 2010 were black, including just 20 of the 2,617 British students accepted to Oxford, a fall from 27 in 2009.
The number of new black students at Cambridge dropped to 16 among an intake of 2,624, compared with 25 the previous year, admissions data show.
The statistics come months after David Cameron branded the universities’ ethnic admissions figures as “disgraceful”, incorrectly claiming that just one British black student had been accepted by Oxford in 2009.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the incoming head of Ofsted, told the Sunday Times it was the role of schools to press more black pupils to apply for places at Britain’s most prestigious academic institutions. He said: “The statistics clearly show that [state] schools aren’t doing enough to encourage black and ethnic minority students to apply to the top universities.”
Oxford said it had accepted 32 black students in 2011, an increase from last year, and said white pupils were more than twice as likely as black pupils to score three As at A-level.
Cambridge said 15 per cent of students at the university last year were from ethnic minorities, compared with five per cent in 1989.
Must not call blacks “colored”?
In that case the NAACP are seriously out of line
“BBC pundit Alan Hansen is the latest to come under fire in football’s race row after making an embarrassing gaffe on Match of the Day. The commentator – who is paid a huge £40,000 per show – shocked viewers by twice describing black players as ‘coloured’ when discussing the John Terry and Luis Suarez cases.
Fellow pundit Lee Dixon looked on in apparent discomfort as Hansen, 56, said: ‘I think there’s a lot of coloured players in all the major teams and there are lots of coloured players who are probably the best in the Premier League.
‘If you look at 25 or 30 years ago it was probably in a bad way – not as bad as some of the other nations on the Continent – but certainly there is always, always room for improvement.’
The ex-footballer had been discussing the separate allegations that England captain Terry and Liverpool striker Suarez have hurled racist abuse at other players on the pitch.
Mockery of Christianity cut for once
ITV is a British commercial network. They obviously have some respect for their viewers — something not to be expected from the BBC. No-one in TV would think of mocking Islam, of course, though the potential for mocking an insane pedophile is great
Australian comedian Tim Minchin has become embroiled in a Christmas controversy in the UK with a song that compares Jesus to Woody Allen. The UK-born but Perth-raised comic penned what he described as a “silly, harmless, and quite cute” tune, in which he compared Jesus to the Jewish actor and director.
The Jonathan Ross Show, which was recorded on Tuesday was due to be aired tonight (UK time). However, the song has now been cut from the show after it was sent to the ITV network’s director of television Peter Fincham.
The decision has evoked a spirited reaction from the comic who has claimed ITV bosses are pandering to Christians who are “afraid of anything that challenges their beliefs”.
At the start of the song, Minchin sings: “Jesus was a Jewish philosopher, had a lot of nice ideas, about our existential fears, much admired by his peers. “Short and Jewish and quite political, often hesitant and very analytical. Praise be to Jesus, praise be to Woody Allen Jesus.”
Another example of lyrics from the song go: “Jesus died but then came back to life, or so the holy Bible said, kinda like in Dawn of the Dead, like a film by Simon Pegg, try that these days you’d be in trouble, geeks would try to smack you with a shovel.”
Before going into the chorus: “Praise be to Jesus, praise be to magic, Woody Allen, Zombie, Jesus.”