NHS ’caused or contributed to deaths of 74 disabled patients through poor care’ in the past decade
The NHS caused or contributed to the deaths of at least 74 patients through lack of basic care in the past ten years, according to a learning disability charity.
Vulnerable people were left in excruciating pain after being refused medicine, while some members of staff assumed their quality of life was so low they were not worth saving, claimed Mencap.
The charity is investigating the deaths of patients with learning disabilities in five primary care trust areas in south-west England, and will make recommendations to ministers in 2013.
A damning inquiry into the deaths by Mencap and families of the deceased lists a catalogue of mistakes in hospitals, along with staff ignorance or neglect. Often serious illnesses have gone undiagnosed, it claimed.
The parliamentary and health service ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has already ruled that four of the cases highlighted were avoidable deaths and found serious failings in eight others, The Guardian reported. Inquest verdicts also confirm failings in several cases.
The accusations follow harsh criticism of NHS care in recent reports, particularly in the case of elderly people.
David Congdon, Mencap’s head of campaigns and policy, told the newspaper: ‘These cases are a damning indictment of NHS care for people with a learning disability.
‘They confirm that too many parts of the health service still do not understand how to treat people with a learning disability and they are an appalling catalogue of neglect and indignity. ‘As a result of institutional discrimination in the NHS, people with a learning disability are dying when their lives could be saved.’
He said that the NHS had taken positive steps since the charity’s Death by Indifference report in 2007, but that the charity was still hearing of many patients with a learning disability receiving poor treatment. He described the cases in the report as the ‘tip of the iceberg.’
The highlighted cases include that of Carole Foster, whose died in 2006 at Fairfield Hospital. The investigating ombudsman said her care at the Bury institution could have been avoided through better care.
Lisa Sharpe, who died at 21 in 2004, is one of four deaths among the 74 to have occurred at Basildon Hospital in Essex. The ombudsman said the hospital was guilty of ‘service failure’ in her case, and mentioned ‘significant failings’ in the care of teenager Kirsty Pearce, who died there in 2003.
The family of nine-year-old Daisy Healy, who died in 2005, ‘suffered injustice’ as a result of NHS failings.
Paul Burstow, care services minister at the Department of Health, echoed the charity’s fears and promised change. He said the Government had extended its funding for a confidential inquiry into the premature and avoidable death of people with learning disabilities.
The Government is also planning a public health observatory focusing on improving healthcare for people with learning disabilities.
The NHS promised to look closely at Mencap’s findings and said it took the evidence seriously. ‘One of the measures of a civilised society is how well it looks after its most vulnerable members,’ said Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS’s medical director.
Dr Pauline Heslop, who is leading the inquiry, said that people with learning disabilities had the right to timely, appropriate and individually-tailored care. She said that any doubt or neglect of these rights was outrageous.
Professor Steve Field, chair of the NHS Future Forum, which advises the Government on health policy, backed Mencap’s demand for doctors and nurses to have fuller training on learning disabilities.
Migration to Britain will fall sharply this year ‘but it won’t hit PM’s target’
Immigration to Britain will fall sharply this year, a think-tank said yesterday – but not by enough to meet the Prime Minister’s target. The Institute for Public Policy Research claimed that net migration – the difference between the number of people arriving in the UK, and those leaving – would be cut from a record 252,000 in 2010 to 180,000.
But the figure falls short of David Cameron’s commitment to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ during the lifetime of the current Parliament, it said.
The IPPR, considered New Labour’s favourite think-tank, claimed the best hope of fulfilling the pledge was for an economic downturn to make the country less attractive to migrants and drive away EU migrants already here.
Its report predicted that the number of migrants coming to the UK from outside the EU would fall by about 10 per cent in 2012, fuelled by new restrictions on foreign students and worsening economic conditions. But the IPPR said further curbs on skilled migrants coming to the UK were unlikely to reduce overall numbers by more than 10,000. More restrictions on family migration were also likely to have little immediate effect as they are expected to be held up by legal challenges.
Matt Cavanagh of the IPPR said: ‘While policy changes will start to achieve significant reductions in immigration from outside the EU, this will not be enough to put the Government on track to hit its target.’
But Immigration Minister Damian Green insisted the Government’s aspirations could still be achieved. ‘The IPPR’s predicted reduction in net migration of 70,000 by the end of 2012 is consistent with hitting our target of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament,’ he said.
‘We’ve limited non-EU workers coming to the UK, overhauled the student visa system and will shortly announce reforms of the family migration and settlement routes.’
Mr Green added: ‘The latest quarterly figures show that student visas issued are down 13 per cent and the main work visas issued are down 18 per cent compared with last year – an early sign that our policies are starting to take effect.’
Alp Mehmet, vice chairman of the pressure group MigrationWatch, said: ‘The fact is that the Government is on course but has a very long way to go.’
We won’t eat halal meat, say MPs and peers who reject demands to serve it at Westminster
The Palace of Westminster has rejected demands to serve halal meat in its restaurants.
Muslim MPs and peers have been told they cannot have meat slaughtered in line with Islamic tradition because the method – slitting an animal’s throat without first stunning it – is offensive to many of their non-Muslim colleagues.
The stance has infuriated some parliamentarians who have eaten meat in the Palace’s 23 restaurants and cafes, having been assured that it was halal. Lord Ahmed of Rotherham said: ‘I did feel misled. I think a halal option should be made available.’
In 2010, The Mail on Sunday revealed schools, hospitals and restaurants were serving halal meat to unwitting customers.
Alison Ruoff, a member of the Church of England, said: ‘It’s a bit hypocritical that the Houses of Parliament, which have allowed other people to provide halal food, have ruled it out on their own premises.’
Spokesmen for the House of Lords and the House of Commons confirmed that halal meat was not served in their restaurants.
The Nauseating Moral Cowardice of the Liberal-Left Trenderati
The left laugh heartily at jokes ridiculing Christianity, but if they can savage one religion, why do they lose their sense of humor when it comes to one particular faith?
Did you hear the song Aussie comic Tim Minchin wrote savagely satirising Islam for Channel 4’s Eid special? No, I didn’t either. It didn’t happen and it never would happen: first because no broadcast station in its right mind would ever allow it; second because I don’t believe that Minchin would be stupid enough to write it.
And I’m not calling Minchin out for physical cowardice on this issue. From the Danish cartoons to the Paris bombing, we’ve seen far too many cases of artists testing the right to free speech – only to find that where certain religions are concerned, such matters are strictly verboten. But what I am definitely accusing him of is hypocrisy and moral cowardice, as regards the banned song he wrote for a Jonathan Ross Christmas special likening Jesus to a blood-drinking zombie.
Personally, I’m sorry we didn’t get to hear the song. As one of those typical, laissez-faire, occasional churchgoing C of E types, I have no problem with having my religion being satirised. Also, the points he apparently made in it sound not just funny but also quite astute: yes, there definitely is something very weird about the New Testament story.
In the performance Minchin likened the resurrection of Jesus to the 1978 horror film ‘Dawn of the Dead’, singing: “Try that these days you’d be in trouble, geeks would try to smack you with a shovel.”
“Jesus lives forever, which is pretty odd, but not as odd as his fetish for drinking blood,” he sang while playing the piano before a studio audience and fellow guests including Tom Cruise and the cast of Downton Abbey.
In a reference to the Christian doctrine of the virgin birth, Minchin sang: “Jesus’ mother gave birth to him without having sex with a dude, no she would never be that rude, never even been nude with a dude.”
When I Tweeted this morning in response to this “Really looking forward to hearing Tim Minchin’s fearless comedy song about Mohammed”, some members of his fan club – including the ephebically pouty-smile-tastic Prof Brian Cox, no less – Tweeted back that he had written a funny song sending up Islam called “Ten Foot C*** And A Few Hundred Virgins.”
Actually, though, when you examine the lyrics, you realise that the title is about as daring as it gets. Nor is it directed specifically at Islam. It’s an equal-opportunities offence number, which also has a dig at Christianity, rapture-based cults and religion generally. Sure, it’s brave even to broach Islam at all. But no way does it criticise Mohammed – or indeed, even mention him – with the same unbridled satirical glee Minchin deploys on Jesus (above) and has done in the past on the Pope. Had he done so, he’d be needing a bodyguard this Christmas.
Again, let me stress, this isn’t a plea to Minchin to acquire set of cojones and commit suicide through the medium of satire. I wouldn’t write a rude song about Islam if you paid me a million quid. Or even ten million. But what I equally wouldn’t do is compromise my integrity by laying heavily into one soft-target religion while treating a rival one, far more ripe for satire, with kid gloves. To do so would, I think, make me look a hypocrite and a fraud.
But hey, why single out Minchin? The problem I describe is absolutely endemic among the liberal left trenderati. You find it with the ‘comics’ on Radio 4’s beyond-dismal The Now Show; with the team that fronts the even-more-beyond-dismal-if-that’s-possible-but-yes-it-is-it-really-is 10 O’Clock Live; with the creators of the daringly satirical Jerry Springer: the Opera; with that rag-bag of Paul-Nurse-worshipping, Establishment lickspittles who call themselves “Skeptics” – the Ben Goldacres; the Simon Singhs; the Brian Coxes; the that-comic-who-does-those-science-shows-saying-how-true-man-made-global-warming-is-whose-name-I-keep-forgetting; and the rest…
Sorry. I know it’s the season of goodwill to all men and stuff, but really: have these faux-edgy lightweights ever actually stood up for any cause in their lives which requires an ounce of moral and intellectual courage or originality of insight? I don’t mean showing solidarity with Palestine or boldly declaring how fraudulent they find homeopathy or saying how ridiculous they find Christianity or being rude about Tories or supporting student protests or any of that predictable, career-safe, spray-on-credibility tedium. I mean actually, for once in their lives doing something that puts them out on a limb, that doesn’t tick all the usual green-left-liberal trendy boxes,that runs the risk of them never getting invited back as one of the resident lefty chortlemeisters on Radio 4’s News Quiz? Course not. For all their pretence at out-there dangerousness, these guys are as safe and cosy and establishment as you could get. Truly, they are the veritable IKEA, the World Of Leather, the Mister Byrite of popular culture. I’m sure it pays the rent – but at what cost to their shrivelled souls?
Stop teaching about the holocaust so that children see Germany in a better light, says Lord Baker
British schools should no longer teach children about the Nazis because it makes them think less favourably of modern Germany, the architect of the National Curriculum has claimed.
Lord Baker of Dorking, who spent three years as Margaret Thatcher’s education secretary, said that he would ban the topic and concentrate on British history instead.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he said that schools should concentrate on teaching “the story in our own country” rather than the events of the Second World War, including the Holocaust.
Lord Baker, who introduced the National Curriculum in the 1980s, said: “I would ban the study of Nazism from the history curriculum totally.
“It’s one of the most popular courses because it’s easily taught and I don’t really think that it does anything to learn more about Hitler and Nazism and the Holocaust. “It doesn’t really make us favourably disposed to Germany for a start, present-day Germany.”
Lord Baker now runs a series of university technical colleges which teach courses on the lives of great British engineers, scientists and inventors, a model he would like to see applied more widely.
“Why I’ve got a thing against the Holocaust and all of that is I think you study your own history first,” he said. “I’m sure that German children are not studying the British Civil War, right? “I think children should leave a British school with some idea of the timeline in their minds – how it came from Roman Britain to Elizabeth II.”
He stressed that he would not entirely exclude European history, saying that in order to study the Tudors and Stuarts, students would have to learn about Luther.
“I would focus much more on British history basically. But that takes you over the seas – we’ve been a great international country. It takes you into the empire. We’ve been a seafaring nation – you get to know other countries.”
Holocaust charities dismissed his suggestion.
James Smith, Chairman of the Holocaust Centre, said: “The study of the Holocaust leaves children ill-disposed to present day Germany only if it is badly taught. The period of the Nazis was not just a blip in German history; the Holocaust was a Europe-wide crime.
“The Holocaust is why the nations of the world, not only Germany, ratified the United Nations Convention to Prevent and Punish the Crime of Genocide and why the United Nations looked forward to the day the International Criminal Court would be established.
“Forgetting how much of our legislation that protects fair and equal societies is rooted in the knowledge of how far humans can sink would be a backward step for civil society and democratic values.”
His remarks come as ministers prepare to overhaul the curriculum. The Coalition has tasked an expert panel with reviewing the structure of existing lessons in England and is expected to issue a report next year. It could recommend making history compulsory up to the age of 16 – instead of the current cut-off of 14.
Lord Baker said that his biggest regret as education secretary was not extending the school day by at least one period. He said it was “outrageous” that most schools finish for the afternoon at 2.30 or 3pm, causing “huge, huge problems with childcare”.
He would prefer schools to teach until at least 4 or 5pm, extending their lunch hour to include an hour of sport, drama, debating or even puppetry.
By extending the teaching day until 5pm and adding two extra weeks a year in his university technical colleges, the institutions have gained the equivalent of an extra teaching year for every pupil over five years.
But he was forced to retreat on his ambitions as education secretary because of opposition from teaching unions, he said. “There was a two-year teachers’ strike and by settling it, we made an agreement with the teachers that they can only spend – I think the figure is still the same – 1,215 hours a year. “If I was going to ask them to do another 40 minutes, I’d have had to reopen the negotiations – I just couldn’t take it on.” He added that union resistance would still block the idea today.
Time for another mince pie! First natural diet pill is available over the counter (and it costs just £2)
This sounds implausible but as the alleged research is not detailed, it is hard to say
A diet pill which claims to help women drop two dress sizes in just weeks is available over the counter – and it has no side effects.
Experts found that the £2 pill can help people lower the calories they consume by as much as 500 per day if they take two tablets three times a day after each meal.
People who took part in clinical trials of the drug lost nearly three pounds for every one pound lost by those not taking the pill.
It comes as new research shows a quarter of the UK population has an obese Body Mass Index (BMI), but a high number ‘deny’ how severely their weight could be affecting their health, according to new figures.
Only 6 per cent of people believe their weight problem is severe enough to be described as obese, Slimming World’s annual survey showed.
Three quarters of people with an obese BMI underestimate their weight category according to the National Slimming Survey, which had 2,065 respondents.
More than one in three who are regarded as overweight said they felt weight ‘is the most important issue in life’.
Half of those classified as obese said their weight made them feel embarrassed, while others said they felt awkward, disgusted, ashamed, clumsy or trapped.
Called XLS-Medical Fat Binder the tablet, which is made from a fibre taken from dried leaves of the prickly pear cactus, works by binding dietary fat so it cannot be absorbed by the body. This prevents the build up of fatty deposits and as it is made of fibre it helps dieters feel full up for longer.
Experts who tested the pill – the first naturally occurring product found to work – also found it cut food cravings and desire to eat.
Singer Mica Paris is a fan, according to the Daily Express, and claims she has dropped from a size 16 to a size 12 in three months. She said: ‘I can’t believe how well it’s worked. Like most women my age, I often found it difficult to lose that last bit of weight but XLS-Medical gives me a helping hand.’
Experts hope it could help tackle Britain’s obesity crisis. The pills are available for anyone over 18 to buy over the counter without a prescription and cost £24.99 for a 10-day supply.
Spokesman for the product Juliet Oosthuysen told the newspaper: ‘XLS-Medical Fat Binder is not another fad diet or a miracle pill. When used in conjunction with sensible eating and keeping active as part of the ‘123 hello me’ weight loss programme, it has been clinically proven to help overweight individuals lose three times more weight than dieting alone. ‘We genuinely believe it is a realistic programme and will help many people reach their 2012 weight loss goals.’
Dietician Helen Bond, who is backing the use of the diet pill in conjunction with a balanced diet, added: ‘Crash or fad diets do not work in the long-term.
‘The only way to lose weight healthily is to eat a nutritionally balanced diet, with adequate portion control and being physically active.’