Cancer patient dies alone in hotel room after hospital sends him there to free up beds

The claim that the infection was so sudden that he had no time to call for help seems pretty fishy

A cancer patient died alone after being sent to a hotel to recuperate from chemotherapy treatment on the NHS. Ian Curtis, 39, died 200 yards away from University College Hospital, London, which rents out hotel rooms for patients who would otherwise stay in overnight. It is the second death of a chemotherapy patient using the scheme since it was introduced in 2004.

Mr Curtis was overwhelmed by a sudden ‘catastrophic infection’ that prevented him making a phone call for help. His body was discovered by his wife when she went to see him on November 2 last year, almost 24 hours after his last check by staff in hospital. The hospital is ‘looking to see if lessons could be learned’, an inquest was told. But it defended the so-called ambulatory care scheme, saying it was a very popular option for patients and had freed beds for the acutely ill.

Mr Curtis, from Kent, was being treated for an aggressive cancer, although doctors told the hearing at St Pancras that he had a better than 50 per cent chance of surviving.

Mr Curtis was sent to the hotel for recuperation after finishing a course of treatment, and was seen by hospital staff for the last time on November 1. He showed no signs of infection.

Hours later he suffered an ‘absolutely catastrophic infection’ and he would have collapsed and died suddenly, said consultant haematologist Dr Kirit Ardeshna.

He said patients preferred staying in hotels because family and friends could visit, but a hospital bed was always kept free for emergencies. He said: ‘We formed a relationship with one of the local hotels so that patients who were having chemotherapy would have it in the outpatient facility. If all was well they would be allowed to stay in the hotel. It is certainly cheaper in terms of bed costs because we are paying the costs of a hotel room rather than a functioning bed that would have been five times more expensive.’

Initially, patients on the scheme – based on a widespread practice in the U.S. – were given panic alarms to alert the hospital if anything went wrong. Alarms were also fitted in hotel rooms next to beds, but both of these precautions were removed because patients did not use them, the inquest heard.

Coroner Selina Lynch said Mr Curtis’s symptoms had not been ignored by the hospital but he had been ‘extremely unlucky’ to become ‘acutely unwell’ when he was on his own, his condition deteriorating with ‘not even enough time for him to call for help’. She recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Between 2007 and 2010 the hospital spent more than £1million on rooms at the Grafton Hotel for its chemotherapy patients.

After the inquest Dr Ardeshna said that many teaching hospitals run such care schemes for cancer patients having chemotherapy.

Some patients are allowed home with infusion pumps if the journey is less than an hour, and others go to a hotel even if they are alone, providing they meet clinical and other criteria including having a mobile phone.

They are given clear instructions about when to contact the hospital as well as a contact telephone number and a bleep number which is carried by a senior nurse 24 hours a day. Almost 900 patients have been through the scheme. The previous death was in 2005, when a patient had a heart attack in bed next to his wife.

Dr Ardeshna said: ‘There is close to 100 per cent satisfaction among patients. They can get a good night’s sleep in an environment where family and children can stay with them.’

Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said hospitals must ensure patients are clinically fit to use ambulatory schemes. She said: ‘Many patients prefer to be in a hotel than hospital.’

A hospital spokesman said it had conducted an internal investigation and was reviewing policies and procedures in relation to patients staying in hotels.


Net migration to Britain rose in Coalition’s first year despite pledge to cut it

Official figures show that the number of people coming to live in Britain for more than a year, minus those who moved abroad, stood at 250,000 in the year to June 2011. This represents a rise on the figure of 235,000 for the year to June 2010, just after the Coalition came to power.

Fewer people are emigrating while increasing numbers continue to settle here, in particular students from Commonwealth countries in Africa and on the Indian subcontinent.

The number of National Insurance numbers given to foreign-born workers rose by 11 per cent, which is likely to fuel fears that immigration is worsening unemployment figures.

Meanwhile the number of asylum seekers from troubled countries including Libya and Iran rose by 11 per cent and the number of people being deported fell sharply.

It also provides more evidence that ministers will struggle to fulfil their pledge to cut net migration to “tens of thousands” by 2015.

Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, insisted: “Our reforms are starting to take effect.

“Home Office figures from the second half of last year show a significant decrease in the number of student and work visas issued, an early indicator for the long-term direction of net migration. “Net migration remains too high but, as the ONS states, it is now steady, having fallen from a recent peak in the year to September 2010.

“This Government remains committed to bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands over the course of this Parliament.”

What should the government be doing about immigration?
Nothing, the reforms are starting to take effectThe number of migrants allowed into Britain should be capped furtherThere should be a one-in-one-out immgration policy

But Chris Bryant, his Labour shadow, said: “We need honesty and competence from this government on immigration, instead we get tough rhetoric not matched by the reality on the ground. The country deserves better than that.”

Matt Cavanagh, Associate Director at the IPPR think-tank, agreed that the Government has made “no progress” on its pledge of cutting net migration.

“Reducing immigration is a legitimate goal – but politicians should be wary of promising what they can’t deliver. There is also a risk that ministers will be tempted to take more extreme measures in pursuit of their elusive target, including on those areas of immigration which are most important to our economy, and which surveys show the public are less bothered about, including skilled workers and overseas students.”

The Office for National Statistics data show long-term immigration – people who move abroad for at least 12 months – in the year to June 2011 was 593,000, up slightly from 582,000 a year before.

At the same time, long-term emigration fell marginally to 343,000.

Immigration from “New Commonwealth” countries in Asia and Africa reached a record 170,000, with two-thirds of them coming to Britain to study.

In addition, 690,000 National Insurance numbers were given to non-British nationals who wanted to work in the country, an 11 per cent rise on the previous year. About a third went to Eastern Europeans.

Asylum applications were 13 per cent higher at the end of 2011 than a year before, reaching 5,261.

Separate Home Office figures showed a 9 per cent fall in non-asylum passengers being refused entry at ports in 2011 (to 17,173) and a 13 per cent drop, to 52,526, in the number of people being deported or leaving the country voluntarily in 2011.


British PM attacks ‘snobs’ who criticise big business for making money and having ‘no moral worth’

David Cameron has made a passionate defence of big business’s ability to change society for the good as he declared it a ‘powerful force for social progress’.

In a speech this afternoon the Prime Minister also spoke out against the growing ‘anti-business snobbery’ towards large firms that claimed money-makers had ‘no inherent moral worth like the state does’.

The business world has been increasingly accused by critics from across the political spectrum of being greedy and out of touch – typified in recent weeks by attacks on bankers’ bonuses.

More fuel was added to the debate today when taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland unveiled losses of £2 billion but revealed it had paid staff nearly £1 billion in bonuses last year.

But Mr Cameron used the speech to industry leaders at a business summit, attended by the Prince of Wales, to counter the accusations.

Speaking at the conference organised by Charles’ Business in the Community (BITC) organisation, he said: ‘In recent months we’ve heard some dangerous rhetoric creep into our national debate that wealth creation is somehow anti-social, that people in business are somehow out for themselves.

‘I think we have to fight this mood with everything that we’ve got. ‘Not just because it is wrong for our economy, because we need the jobs and investment that business brings, but because it is also wrong for our society. ‘Business is not just about making money, vital as it is, it is also the most powerful force for social progress that the world has ever known.’

He added that ‘snobbish attitudes’ towards money-makers should also be confronted: He said: ‘The snobbery that says business has no inherent moral worth like the state does, that it isn’t really to be trusted, that it should stay out of social concerns and stick to making the money that pays the taxes.’

Mr Cameron also launched two new initiatives today to improve the ‘transparency’ of business. Philip N Green, the Government’s advisor on corporate responsibility, will chair an informal working group called the Open Business Forum to look at the issue. While an online directory called Trading For Good would be established to allow consumers to learn about small businesses doing ‘good things’ and reward them for it.

The Prime Minister returned to his idea of the ‘big society’, telling the invited business people from companies as diverse as Thomas Cook, BT and Marks and Spencer: ‘Corporate responsibility is an absolutely vital part of my mission for this Government to build a bigger, stronger society.

‘The big society is all about people recognising that they have obligations beyond paying their taxes and obeying the law not just doing no harm, but doing good. ‘And this applies to businesses just as much as it does to individuals.’

The Prime Minister’s words come after George Osborne’s warned of ‘an anti-business culture’ developing in Britain.

Two weeks ago the Chancellor said the growing row over fat-cat pay and bonuses was threatening the economy. He told a meeting of the Federation of Small Businesses: ‘At stake are not pay packages for a few but jobs and prosperity for the many.’

Mr Osborne insisted the Government had to do more for commerce and that he was battling against a ‘relentless pressure to regulate’ within Whitehall.

In a swipe at the BBC, he said: ‘It would be so easy to give into the constant stream of vested interests demanding that you regulate a problem away – every time you are interviewed on the Today programme, or meet with the single issue lobby groups or face the trade union campaigns.

‘Everything in politics encourages more red tape – everyone insists government must step in – “something must be done” is always the cry. We have to resist these pressures.’

The Chancellor said he understood public concern about bonuses, but insisted it must not be allowed to undermine efforts to restore growth by curbing rewards for success. ‘Of course rewards for failure are unacceptable and those who believe in the free market are the first to say so,’ he added. ‘But a strong, free market economy must be built on rewards for success.

There are those who are trying to create an anti-business culture in Britain – and we have to stop them.’


Cantuar does rather well in debate with Dawkins

I would have expected rather more waffling from His Grace

God does not “clutter up” explanations of how the universe began, the Archbishop of Canterbury has told Britain’s most famous non-believer, Professor Richard Dawkins.

Dr Rowan Williams was speaking during a discussion between the pair at Oxford University on Thursday after Dawkins said he did not see why the archbishop would want to clutter up the explanation “with something so messy as a god”.

The archbishop said: “I don’t see clutter coming into it at all, I’m not thinking of God as an extra who has to be shoehorned into it.”

Dawkins said: “That’s the way I see it.” And the archbishop replied: “That’s where we disagree,” going on to say that God was “a combination of love and mathematics”.

Earlier in the debate a question was asked as to whether Biblical writers “got it wrong” by not saying that the universe is billions of years old.

The archbishop said: “The writers of the Bible, inspired as I believe they were, were not inspired to do 21st century physics, they were inspired to pass on to their readers what God wanted them to know.

“In the first book of the Bible is the basic information – the universe depends on God, humanity has a very distinctive role in that universe and humanity has made rather a mess of it.”

Dawkins said: “I am baffled by the way sophisticated theologians who know Adam and Eve never existed still keep talking about it.”

The archbishop replied: “It’s something that’s not a 21st century innovation, but the way people have read Genesis since very early days.”

Dawkins said during the debate that he is an agnostic. It was put to him that he is described as the world’s most famous atheist. “Not by me,” he said. But he was not the kind of agnostic who thought there was a 50/50 chance that God existed. “On a scale of seven, where one means I know he exists, and seven I know he doesn’t, I call myself a six.” He went on to say he was a “6.9”, saying: “That doesn’t mean I’m absolutely confident, that I absolutely know, because I don’t.”

The discussion was on the nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin.


Lindzen totally squashes the alarmists

By James Delingpole

Professor Richard Lindzen is one of the world’s greatest atmospheric physicists: perhaps the greatest. What he doesn’t know about the science behind climate change probably isn’t worth knowing. But even if you weren’t aware of all this, even if you’d come to the talk he gave in the House of Commons this week without prejudice or expectation, I can pretty much guarantee you would have been blown away by his elegant dismissal of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming theory.

Dick Lindzen does not need to raise his voice. He does not use hyperbole. In a tone somewhere between weariness and withering disdain, he lets the facts speak for themselves. And the facts, as he understands them, are devastating.

Here is how he began his speech, which was organised on behalf of the Campaign To Repeal the Climate Change Act:

Stated briefly, I will simply try to clarify what the debate over climate change is really about. It most certainly is not about whether climate is changing: it always is. It is not about whether CO2 is increasing: it clearly is. It is not about whether the increase in CO2, by itself, will lead to some warming: it should. The debate is simply over the matter of how much warming the increase in CO2 can lead to, and the connection of such warming to the innumerable claimed catastrophes. The evidence is that the increase in CO2 will lead to very little warming, and that the connection of this minimal warming (or even significant warming) to the purported catastrophes is also minimal. The arguments on which the catastrophic claims are made are extremely weak – and commonly acknowledged as such. They are sometimes overtly dishonest.

You can read a full version of his speech here. The Bishop has it up here.

But don’t take my word for it. Simon Carr of the Independent (not a publication hitherto noted for its rampant AGW scepticism) was sufficiently impressed to write a blog on the subject headlined Is catastrophic global warming, like Millennium Bug, a mistake?

I think we know the answer to that one, eh?


British government’s energy plans could cost UK billions if gas price falls, warns Policy Exchange

The Government’s energy plans could cost the UK billions of pounds if a shale gas boom brings down the price of gas because current policy is predicated on high prices, a think tank has warned.

Policy Exchange argued that the government’s “flawed strategy towards the electricity generation market” is “unnecessarily gambling with bill-payers’ money”.

“The view that future gas prices are likely to be high was a key driver of the government’s Electricity Market Reform (EMR) proposals,” it said. “No one can predict future gas prices but shale gas developments suggest prices may be lower than previously assumed.”

The think tank argues that EMR directs money to technologies such as wind power in preference to gas, and that if the price of gas comes down the UK would therefore no longer have the gas-fired generation flexibility to fully benefit, potentially meaning it would lose out on billions of pounds.

It said: “The Department for Climate Change’s own figures show that the costs of its electricity market plans will be £22bn higher if future gas prices are low, than if they are high.”

The think tank did not estimate future gas prices and said shale gas potential was uncertain, but there was a real prospect of gas being cheaper than previously expected. In a new report, it urges the government “to recast EMR to allow the market to discover and invest in the cheapest emissions reductions, whether gas or other technologies”.

The warning came as manufacturers’ organisation EEF claimed that Government plans to double the Carbon Price Floor could push up industrial electricity prices by more than 6pc and cost the UK economy £300m.

The government had previously indicated the Carbon Price Support levied on fossil fuels used for power generation would increase from £4.94 per tonne of CO2 in 2013/14 to about £7.24 per tonne in 2014/15.

However, the manufacturers’ organisation understands that the Government is planning to increase that to £10 per tonne in the Budget next month.

Steve Radley, EEF Director of Policy, said: “Yet another unilateral increase on this scale, coming at a time when the economy is still in recovery, would only serve to widen further the gap between electricity prices in the UK and those in our competitors in Europe.

“The more government policies push up the cost of operating in the UK, the harder it will be for manufacturers to invest, create jobs and compete in global markets.”


Struggling to spk: British Firms send new arrivals on courses to stop them using mobile shorthand in conversation

Bosses are having to send young recruits on courses to ‘de-text’ their speech because they can no longer hold a proper conversation. Training is being given to school leavers who use text-speak such as ‘IDK’ for ‘I don’t know’ and ‘LOL’ for ‘laughing out loud’.

Peter Searle, UK chief executive of the recruitment company Adecco, said growing numbers of firms have been forced into action to rectify the problem. He also warned that social networking websites have created a generation of employees who lack the basic skills needed to succeed in the workplace.

Heavy use of Twitter and Facebook is isolating staff because relationships are all through a machine, he said. ‘We have instances in offices where people would rather sit at their desk and send e-mails to each other next door than walk around and have a conversation. ‘They have no respect for their manager. They don’t ask them for advice because it isn’t their social background to do that.’ ‘All the things that we think of as normal, they aren’t prepared for.’

Employers are struggling to fill vacancies because some school-leavers are unable to work in a team, turn up on time or communicate with colleagues, said Mr Searle. This includes talking in text message language. ‘They only know to interact with short “text speak” to save themselves time, so they start using text speak in conversations,’ he said.

‘They come out of school and want to get a job, but the people who are interviewing them are saying their personal social skills and technical abilities are not suited to the way things work in industry.’

Research for Adecco found that 52 per cent of employers believe the British school system is failing to equip youngsters for the world of work.

Recommendations include an ‘employment experience’ programme to be developed to give pupils a taste of what to expect in their working life.

‘We have a generation of people who are fundamentally bored and who need something to motivate them,’ said Mr Searle.

The recession had highlighted the gap between what the education system provides and what businesses want, he added. ‘There are no large environments where you can just hang up your brain as you go inside and go through the day and get paid for it [Except the public service, of course]. Our education system is failing to equip the future workforce effectively.

‘As a nation, we place insufficient value on the basic tools of employability such as behaviour, attitude and communication – in the classroom, the workplace and in the home. ‘As a result, we fear a whole generation of potential workers will be deemed unemployable and lost to UK businesses.’

Mr Searle’s warning reinforces evidence from exam boards that teenagers are using text short-hand in written papers, including ‘C’ for ‘see’ and ‘U’ for ‘you’.

GCSE courses starting in September will award marks for correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. A new curriculum is expected to place greater emphasis on developing speech.


Higher tax rate REDUCES revenue in Britain

The amount of income tax paid fell sharply last month in the first formal indication that the new 50p higher rate is not raising the expected amount of revenue.

The Treasury received £10.35 billion in income tax payments from those paying by self-assessment last month, a drop of £509 million compared with January 2011. Most other taxes produced higher revenues over the same period.

Senior sources said that the first official figures indicated that there had been “manoeuvring” by well-off Britons to avoid the new higher rate. The figures will add to pressure on the Coalition to drop the levy amid fears it is forcing entrepreneurs to relocate abroad. [Many businesses have already done so]

The self-assessment returns from January, when most income tax is paid by the better-off, have been eagerly awaited by the Treasury and government ministers as they provide the first evidence of the success, or failure, of the 50p rate. It is the first year following the introduction of the 50p rate which had been expected to boost tax revenues from self-assessment by more than £1billion.

Although the official statistics do not disclose how much money was paid at the 50p rate of tax, the figures indicate that it is falling short of the money the levy was expected to raise.

A Treasury source said the relatively poor revenues from self-assessment returns was partly down to highly-paid individuals arranging their affairs to avoid paying the 50p rate.



About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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