Anger of plasterer sent home from hospital with broken neck after being dismissed as ‘just another Friday night drunk’
A plasterer who suffered a broken neck in a fall was forced to drag himself home after being dismissed as ‘just another Friday night drunk’, it has been claimed. Bob Davies, 60, suffered the injury on December 16 and was rushed to the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, Shrops, but was sent home in a taxi despite insisting he couldn’t move his arms and legs.
The next day his concerned wife called a local medical helpline and admitted him to hospital for the same hospital for a second time because the doctor was worried he had suffered a stroke. An expert told Hazel Davies to admit her husband into hospital again so he could be examined by medics for a second time.
And it was only after the second visit, an x-ray and CT scan that doctors then found self-employed Mr Davies had broken his neck.
Mr Davies, from Boulton Grange, Shropshire, must now spend at least six weeks in Oswestry’s Orthopaedic Hospital for treatment of his injury.
His wife Hazel said: ‘I just think it’s disgusting. ‘They obviously didn’t examine him properly or they would never have sent him home in that position – he couldn’t move, and his legs and hands weren’t working. His right hand is still like a claw.
‘They just classed him as another Friday night drunk. ‘He couldn’t understand why things weren’t working, he just knew he was in trouble.’
A spokesman for the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said: ‘While we cannot comment on individual cases, patients who come to our A&E departments are assessed for the clinical symptoms they present with and the history of their injury.
‘If any patient or their family has concerns about this assessment process we would encourage them to contact us so we can investigate their concerns.’
Mrs Davies added: ‘They told me to phone 999 immediately for an ambulance to get him into hospital to be examined properly. ‘Bob was X-rayed and had a CT scan and they discovered he had broken his neck. ‘On the Monday he was moved to the Oswestry Orthopaedic. He had another scan and they discovered he has damaged his spinal cord, so he might not get better at all.’
Mrs Davies said her husband had been out for a Christmas drink with work friends. As he was making his way home he ‘felt funny’ and the next thing he knew he had fallen on his face and was being put into an ambulance. She said Mr Davies had had a few pints but told her he wasn’t drunk.
She said her husband has now been told that he did not suffer a stroke, and that his broken neck was a result of the fall.
Four in five doctors insist NHS cuts are affecting patient care
Four out of five doctors believe patient care suffered during 2011 because of NHS cutbacks, according to a new survey. Medics quizzed said health service cost-cutting has led to fewer hospital beds, increasing pressure on doctors to prescribe cheaper drugs, poorer occupational health support and reductions in community health services.
Doctors.net.uk, a professional networking site for British GPs and hospital doctors, asked users: ‘Have cuts to staff and/or services affected patient care in your department, area or surgery during the last 12 months?’ Of the 664 doctors who responded in a Guardian survey, 527 (79%) said yes and 137 (21%) said no. A total of 359 of 440 hospital doctors said they have seen cuts, along with 168 of the 224 GPs who took part in the poll.
Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association’s hospital consultants and specialists committee, said the findings demonstrated how the NHS was ‘retracting’. He told the Guardian: ‘The reality is that whether you look at it from the point of view of a doctor, another clinician or a patient, there are NHS cuts ongoing and it adds up to a picture where the NHS is now retracting. ‘The evidence all around us of cuts that are being made adds up to a picture where the Government has failed to deliver on the promises it made to people on coming into office.’
Mr Porter said hospitals are under growing financial pressure due to a £20bn savings drive, while primary care trusts are withholding money to pay for the restructuring that is to take place under Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms. He added that a reduction in trusts’ ‘tariff’ payments to hospitals for treating patients has also led to cuts in services.
Dr Tim Ringrose, a spokesman for Doctors.net.uk, said: ‘We have received reports about across the board budget cuts to essential services, staffing shortages, and pressures to reduce prescribing of newer, potentially more effective therapies.
‘Doctors are very supportive of the drive to improve efficiency in the NHS but don’t want to see reductions in access to services or reduced quality to services for patients.’
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, added: ‘These poll findings are very worrying because we were repeatedly assured that when savings were made in the NHS they would not affect patient care. ‘Yet on a daily basis we get evidence through our helpline of services being withdrawn or reduced.’
British government to end compensation for criminals injured in prison
Convicted criminals will be banned from claiming compensation for their injuries under plans to be unveiled next month. Justice Secretary Ken Clarke will announce plans to ensure the money goes to victims of crime rather than criminals.
Every year criminals claim around £5million from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. It has given rise to controversial claims in which burglars have demanded money for injuries sustained when escaping the scene of the crime.
Thousands is also paid out every year to criminals who sustain injuries in prison as a result of feuds and drug-fuelled violence.
Soham murderer Ian Huntley is trying to claim £15,000 from CICA as a result of injuries sustained in prison from having his throat slit – in addition to a much higher sum in civil damages.
In total, 340 inmates made successful claims for injuries resulting in payouts and costs of £3.1million last year. More than 3,000 prisoners made claims. Official figures show that three prisoners got payouts of more than £100,000 while one inmate received £500,000. Another £2million was claimed by convicted criminals who are not jailed.
Most of the payouts for jailbirds are for injuries caused by trips, falls or slips as well as accidents while playing sport.
Ministers decided to step in because the Criminal Injuries Fund is chronically short of cash. Almost 50,000 victims of violent crime have been kept waiting for compensation worth in excess of £600million because the compensation authority has run out of funds. They include the children of murder victims and others who need the money to cover medical bills and compensate them for their disabilities and lost wages. Some are owed up to £500,000 after being left crippled by vicious thugs.
When the changes are introduced, inmates will still be able to sue prison authorities for damages or negligence if they are attacked. But they will no longer be allowed to claim money from the compensation authority.
A senior source close to Mr Clarke told the Mail: ‘It is ridiculous that we are continuing to spend so much money on the injuries sustained by convicted criminals when so many victims of crime are still waiting for funds.
‘There is around £5million a year paid out to convicted criminals and we intend to bring that to an end. That will allow us to save around £20million during the lifetime of this Parliament.’
The plans will also help cut the legal aid budget, which is being trimmed under coalition austerity measures. Hundreds of criminals use legal aid each year to claim compensation for their injuries. The legal aid bill for convicts has doubled in two years to £21million – although that sum also covers those demanding release from jail and softer punishments.
The crackdown on compensation payments was originally due to be unveiled in December, but senior government sources say it will now come in January.
Government sources described the current system as ‘a shambles’ and said they inherited a compensation authority from Labour which was overspending by £50million a year.
The plans will be published as part of a review of the organisation, which was previously criticised for huge delays in paying the victims of the July 7 terror attacks in 2005.
Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘It is an outrage and a scandal that so much taxpayers’ money is being wasted on compensating criminals, who most people would think lost the right to make these claims.’
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘CICA receives a budget at the beginning of the year. As the scheme is demand-led the amounts due to victims in any one year can exceed the available budget for any year.’
Britain ‘will defy meddling Europe over votes for prisoners’
Ministers are preparing to defy Europe over its insistence that Britain gives prisoners the right to vote. The Foreign Office has drawn up a blueprint to reform the European Court of Human Rights, aiming to win back power for national governments.
Britain has garnered Switzerland’s support in its campaign for changes to ‘address growing public and political concern’ – and is looking for further allies. If ministers cannot get enough support, they would consider simply ignoring the ruling on enfranchising all prison inmates.
The Government’s stance could inflame tensions within the Coalition, as the Euro-friendly Lib Dems are likely to have concerns. But the move has been welcomed by Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers.
Dominic Raab, a member of the parliamentary joint committee on human rights, said: ‘There is a growing consensus that Strasbourg’s meddling has gone too far and that Parliament should stand up for our democratic prerogatives.’
He added: ‘It is welcome to see the UK using its chairmanship of the Council of Europe to build international consensus on Strasbourg reform. ‘It is vital to ensure both that the ECHR does not collapse under the weight of its backlog, and the judges focus on serious human rights abuses, rather than tinkering with finer points of law in mature democracies like Britain.’
The UK will hold the chairmanship of the 47-member Council of Europe until May, and hopes it will be able to use its position to push through reforms. It has formed an alliance with Switzerland, where voters recently backed proposals by their government to deport foreign criminals.
A joint memo from the Foreign Office and Switzerland said the European Convention on Human Rights was in danger of falling into disrepute because of the huge backlog of 160,000 cases and the meddling of the court’s Strasbourg-based judges.
The document, published in the Sunday Times, warns: ‘Urgent action is needed to avoid further damage to the reputation and effectiveness of the convention system.’ It says the court must ‘address growing public and political concern’ about the way it functions and the extent to which it interferes with issues ‘that do not need to be dealt with at the European level’.
It says European judges should stop considering ‘hopeless cases’ thrown out by national courts. ‘The circumstances in which the European Court of Human Rights should need to reconsider the case and substitute its own view for that of the national court should be relatively limited.’
It also calls on the judges to adopt a broader ‘hands-off’ approach, saying: ‘There is no reason why this approach should be limited to asylum and immigration matters.’
The blueprint has now been submitted to an inter-governmental committee of the Council of Europe.
In February, MPs voted to continue to deny prisoners the right to vote – in defiance of the ECHR.
Last night a Ministry of Justice source said: ‘We are holding a summit in the spring during our chair of the Council of Europe to push forward this agenda.
‘The UK wants the court to focus on fundamental values and leave to the member states issues that have already been properly considered by national parliaments and courts, like prisoner voting.’
£10m cost of turning OFF British wind farms
Wind farm operators are on course to earn up to £10 million this year for turning off their turbines.
Official figures disclosed that 17 operators were paid almost £7 million for shutting down their farms on almost 40 occasions between January and mid-September. Continuing to make payments at that rate would lead to householders paying out £9.9 million in 2011 for operators to disconnect their turbines from the National Grid.
The scale of the payments triggered a review of the rules on so-called constraint payments. The payments are made when too much electricity floods the grid, with the network unable to absorb any excess power generated. The money is ultimately added on to household bills and paid for by consumers.
Last year, only £176,788 of such payments were made, but changes in the way the National Grid, which supplies energy to retail companies, “balances” the electricity network have meant a huge expansion in their use.
The rules meant that some renewable energy companies were paid more to switch off their turbines than they would have received from ordinary operations.
In September, it was disclosed that £1.2 million would go to a Norwegian company that owned 60 turbines in the Scottish Borders, thanks to a period of unusually high wind during the spring. Because of the rising cost, the National Grid “balancing” system could now be overhauled to reduce the use of constraint payments.
Constraint payments have added to political and public hostility to onshore wind farms. A growing number of Conservative MPs are opposed to Coalition plans to increase the number of wind turbines. Ministers say Britain needs more “renewable” energy generation to reduce the dependence on gas imported from Russia and the Middle East.
Chris Heaton Harris, a Conservative MP, said the unpopularity of wind farms was eroding support for all sorts of renewable power. “I know from my mailbag and from the number of emails I receive every day on the matter that people are turning against renewables of just about every type because wind turbines are, among other things, so badly sold,” he said.
“Onshore wind generation requires a 100 per cent back-up of carbon-burning technology or nuclear energy, should the wind not blow, and in addition to the devastation of the visual environment there are the problems of noise and flicker. They are the wrong renewables choice.”
The turbine industry says that constraint payments are a sign of problems with the National Grid, and not the turbines themselves. Charles Hendry, an energy minister, confirmed the latest payments, and said the system the National Grid used to calculate the fees was being reviewed.
“Reducing or increasing the output of generators is a normal part of National Grid’s role to balance supply and demand, and it will pick the most cost-effective way to deliver what is required,” he said. “However, the recent requirement to use wind farms to manage the system has raised questions as to whether the current market-wide balancing arrangements for wind are appropriate. “National Grid has launched a consultation to seek views on the issues involved.”
British parents driven to desperation in trying to find a safe school for their kids
An increasing number of parents are lying to secure places for their children at the most sought-after schools, figures reveal.
Over the past five years, more than 700 children are believed to have had their school places withdrawn after false information was submitted on application forms.
In the past year alone, some 420 parents are suspected of cheating the application process to ensure their children get into the best primary and secondary schools, a rise of 13 per cent on last year.
Falsehoods include claiming children have been baptised to get them into faith schools and using the addresses of friends or relatives within catchment areas.
Many parents are said to feel driven to ‘desperate lengths’. Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘The assumption that parents need to shop around to find the best school has led parents into getting very anxious about admissions. ‘They are now more likely to go to fairly desperate lengths to get children into a particular school.’
The findings – the result of a freedom of information request to local education authorities in England – come amid fierce competition for school places. In the past year, almost one in six children failed to get into their first choice of secondary school. One in 20 children missed out on at least three schools listed on their applications.
Some schools, including independent academies, now receive as many as 11 applications for each place. Primary schools are also under pressure.
According to data from 93 councils, 421 suspected fraudulent applications were detected this year, which is a rise of almost 13 per cent when compared with the estimated 373 cases from last year. Since 2007, 738 places were withdrawn after false information was entered on application forms. In Birmingham, places were withdrawn on 67 occasions, while in Slough it was 63, Staffordshire, 21, and Kent, 18.
But in an example of the differing way councils deal with cheating, 20 authorities said they had never removed places even when parents were found to have lied. Newham, in East London, said it relied on schools themselves to check all parental information.
However, many local authorities – including Hertfordshire, North Somerset and Reading – randomly cross check around 10 per cent of applications against their council tax files. In over-subscribed schools, some authorities carry out checks on all applications, making unannounced home visits in some cases and setting up hotlines.
Demand for sought-after school places has also driven up house prices, with parents paying premiums of £77,000 to buy homes in catchment areas.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: ‘Parents have found themselves increasingly frustrated by the lack of good school places. We are ending this unfair rationing. ‘Our radical education reforms and our capital investment will mean there are more good schools, and more good school places, for parents.’
When British parents move heaven and earth
So, 420 parents have been cheating on their schools’ application forms, according to The Daily Telegraph’s front page report yesterday. Desperate mummies and daddies have been caught lying about their address and church attendance in order to get their children into the best state schools.
Well, wouldn’t you? A bad state school condemns children to think seven sevens are 68, that T.S Eliot wrote Wuthering Heights and knives are part of the school uniform. Who can blame those enterprising parents who adopt Granny’s address as their own because she happens to live in the catchment area of a top state primary? Good parents will move heaven and earth (and home, too) to ensure their children get a good – and free – education. Property prices reflect this: when we moved to our present house, we were told that about 10 per cent of the steep price we were paying was due to the Chelsea Academy being built down the road. Once Ofsted rated it “excellent”, the estate agent assured us, the price would go up another 20 per cent; parents calculate that a mortgage costs less than the £30,000 per child per year needed for a public school education.
God, like certain neighbourhoods, is also experiencing a surge in popularity among parents of school-age children. Faith schools have once again topped the league tables; they not only got the best academic results in the state sector, they also came first in achieving the greatest improvement. No wonder atheists and agnostics suddenly find religion. Hypocrites? You bet – and I’d do the same in their shoes. A child’s future is worth a Mass.
The secularist intelligentsia, however, is choking on the confidence trick some parents play as they file into church each Sunday. I once clashed with the humanists’ high priestess, Polly Toynbee, on Newsnight over this issue. Even when the choice was between a sink school and putting in an appearance at the 10 o’clock children’s service once a week, La Toynbee was unyielding. Better compromise a child’s prospects than her own dogma. Thank goodness, for our children’s sake, that so many parents disagree with her.