‘I was gnawed by a rat in my hospital bed’: Patient’s horror after nurses find rodent with teeth sunk into his neck
A vulnerable patient was bitten by a rat more than a dozen times as he lay sedated in an NHS residential hospital. Nurses only realised what had happened when Jason Ketley stumbled down the corridor with the rodent hanging from his neck by its teeth.
They dislodged the creature and killed it, but Mr Ketley was left with about 12 deep puncture wounds where he had been badly bitten on his shoulder and neck.
When his parents called to check on him, they were told that the 42-year-old, who has learning difficulties, bipolar disorder and a mental age of two, had been bitten by a rat, although the hospital now insists it was a field mouse.
But his mother Patricia Boardman, 63, said: ‘As soon as I saw the bites I knew it had to have been a rat. ‘They were deep teeth puncture marks all over his shoulder. I couldn’t believe that there were rats running free in an NHS hospital. It’s absolutely disgusting. ‘He was heavily sedated when it happened, so God knows how long the rat was gnawing him. It must have been in his bed.’
Mr Ketley was attacked after going to bed for the night at a specialist care unit at St Ebba’s hospital in Epsom, Surrey, on November 20 last year. He was taken to Epsom General Hospital the following day to have diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccinations to protect him from disease.
Mrs Boardman, who worked at a solicitor’s office before retiring, said: ‘I couldn’t believe how bad it was when I saw him – there were cuts and scabs all over his shoulder. ‘He was completely defenceless and someone should have been keeping an eye on him because he has problems communicating and he suffers in silence.
‘If I kept my son in the conditions they keep him in, I’d have social services round and they’d put me in prison.’
The mother-of-two, who lives in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, with Mr Ketley’s stepfather Tom, 66, said she had made a formal complaint and was now considering suing the hospital.
Mrs Boardman added that she and her husband are trying to find a new NHS-run site to move her son to.
She also said that the NHS trust had not yet responded to her complaint and was stalling for time. At one stage, it even wrote to her to say it would have to consult Mr Ketley before accessing his medical records.
Mrs Boardman said that when she called the care unit, a member of staff answered the phone and told her: ‘Something terrible has happened. ‘A rat bit Jason and he’s got marks on his shoulders.’
It was only when she phoned again later that the trust insisted it was a field mouse. Field mice are herbivores and live on a diet of seeds. It is rare to see one and they are, on average, only a few centimetres long.
Mrs Boardman added: ‘I’m so worried about leaving him there now. ‘They’re supposed to look after him but they clearly can’t be bothered. ‘I haven’t slept well since it happened and the worst thing is I don’t know how it’s affected Jason because he can’t tell me. The staff at the hospital said it was long and had a long tail. ‘Now if that’s not a rat, I don’t know what is.
‘Jason wouldn’t have known what was happening as he was so drugged up. ‘Truth be told, it’s been a nightmare having him at this hospital.
‘They can’t work out what’s wrong with him and the drugs they give him make him worse, not better. They won’t even let me pay to bring in a private doctor to assess him and get a second opinion. I’m at my wits’ end.’
Jo Young, the director of nursing at the trust, said the incident was ‘genuinely shocking’ and that she was taking the family’s concerns ‘extremely seriously’. She added: ‘Our records indicate that a mouse was seen in the house in November and that pest control was alerted immediately but we are unable to provide a complete response to all the concerns raised until we know the outcome of our investigation.’
Doctors ‘acting like vets with dementia patients’: Damning report
Doctors and nurses caring for dementia patients often ‘make it up as they go along’ because they have no idea how to treat them, a study has revealed.
The shaming research lifts the lid on attitudes to dealing with vulnerable patients and reports a series of disturbing admissions about how little regard some health professionals have for those suffering in later life. One consultant admitted to using a ‘veterinary approach’ towards the sick.
Another said dementia patients are ‘hugely sapping of our scarce resources’ as ‘they can’t do anything for themselves’.
Others have disclosed that, although many of their patients have dementia, they have not ‘ever, ever had any teaching’ in how to properly look after them.
Some even believed that people with dementia do not suffer pain in the same way as those without the condition.
The candid admissions have been made to academics undertaking an extensive study on attitudes of hospital staff towards the elderly with dementia.
Over the past three years, Professor John Gladman and his colleagues at Nottingham University have carried out lengthy interviews with 60 doctors, nurses and other staff at the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital.
Their findings have been presented to the authors of a major joint report to be published tomorrow by the NHS Confederation, Age UK and the Local Government Association. It will demand that patients are treated with respect, in line with the Mail’s Dignity for the Elderly campaign.
One consultant admitted during an interview: ‘Sometimes you’re more veterinary in your approach. ‘And then you perhaps may not be treating them in the same way as someone else that you can talk to.’
In another of the interviews – which each lasted 40 minutes – a consultant said that dementia patients ‘can’t do anything for themselves. They won’t feed themselves, they can’t get out of bed themselves, you can’t be sure they’re drinking, they’re often incontinent. ‘The more of that patient group you have, the less care the others are going to get. They are hugely sapping of our scarce resources.’
The researchers, who began their study in 2008 and will publish it in full later this year, also made detailed notes on how patients were being looked after on wards. On one occasion, they saw an elderly man with dementia in tears being ‘reprimanded’ by a nurse for losing more weight.
The researchers wrote: ‘He is agitated and frightened, crying with tears down his face. ‘Not one member of staff offers any comfort or reassurance. The staff nurse tuts and reprimands him for losing more weight.’
They also interviewed a young woman whose grandmother was in hospital, who said: ‘We were told by the doctor that people with dementia don’t feel pain as much as somebody who hasn’t got dementia.’
Professor Gladman, who specialises in care of the elderly, said most of the staff had not been trained to look after dementia sufferers and often ‘make it up as they go along’.
But he added that figures show half of patients in hospital over the age of 70 have dementia and half of those who fracture their hip have the illness.
‘Some people said they had never had any training at all,’ said Professor Gladman. ‘People said they knew the causes of dementia – they could tell you microscopic changes that happen to patients – but they didn’t know what to do. They sort of make it up as they go along.’
He added: ‘The only people who said they were confident had not had training but had experience elsewhere – [they had] worked in a care home or looked after their own parents or grandparents.’
Although the study involved staff in only two hospitals in Nottingham, Professor Gladman said he believes the problems they identified exist across the NHS. He said that although increasing numbers of patients going to hospital would have dementia in the future – because of the UK’s ageing population – the NHS ‘hasn’t really got to grips with the problem’. ‘The system isn’t prepared for the job it’s got to do,’ he said.
The Mail has consistently called for an improvement in the treatment of older patients as part of our Dignity for the Elderly campaign.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘It brings shame on the NHS that a consultant can say, in the course of this research, that he avoids talking to dementia patients.
‘Dementia patients need to be treated with dignity and respect. ‘But people contacting us tell us about dementia patients that are being ignored by clinicians, and who they feel are being treated as second-class citizens. ‘It brings shame on our society that so many elderly people, with and without dementia, are treated so poorly in our hospitals.’
Show some backbone! Former top retailer tells British firms to defy militants on work experience scheme
The former boss of Marks & Spencer yesterday told firms to show some ‘backbone’ and stand up to anti-capitalist protests over the Government’s work experience scheme.
Sir Stuart Rose, who started out shelf-stacking and sweeping floors 40 years ago, said it was ‘baffling’ that anyone would complain about unemployed youngsters being given similar opportunities.
He said parents should tell their jobless children to ‘get stuck in’ and snap up any opportunity at a time of high youth unemployment.
Ministers are preparing for talks this week with some of the firms taking part in the scheme, in which youngsters on jobless benefits are invited to volunteer for work experience placements of up to eight weeks.
So far, more than 34,000 under-24s have taken part in the programme and half have come off benefits as a result.
But the scheme has been thrown into turmoil by protests led by a campaign group called Right to Work, which ministers say is nothing more than a front organisation for the hard-Left Socialist Workers Party. The SWP advocates the overthrow of capitalism via a Marxist revolution.
Though only a tiny cabal of extremists appear to be leading the campaign to brand work experience ‘slave labour’, several companies have been sufficiently rattled to announce that they are reviewing their involvement. Employment minister Chris Grayling insists that no firm signed up at national level has withdrawn, although some have done so locally. Tesco, Waterstones, TK Maxx, Poundland, Oxfam and Burger King are among those which have expressed concern.
Sir Stuart, who restored the fortunes of Marks & Spencer, urged firms not to bow to the campaign to ‘sabotage’ the scheme.
‘We’ve got the economy which has been through terrible times, we’ve got a need to get people’s confidence going, get the country back to work. We’re offering young people the opportunity to really understand what the workplace is about and it appears there is some plan to sabotage this, which I think is nonsense,’ he told Sky News’s Murnaghan programme.
‘It’s about getting people into the routine of working, making sure they are up in the morning, making sure they’re presentable, make sure they arrive on time, make sure they know what it’s like to have a properly constructed work programme, and shelf stacking is just a part of it.
‘When I started off in my retail career as a management trainee in Marks & Spencer’s 40 years ago, I was put to shelf stacking and indeed to sweeping out the warehouse for a day.
‘If you are drawing unemployment benefit and you are looking to get into the workplace and somebody says to you, “We’ll give you some experience” and you have got a week apparently to withdraw from it if it doesn’t suit you, why would you not do it? ‘If I was the parent of one of these people I’d say, “Go on to it, lad, get in there, get stuck in”.
‘So I find it quite baffling and I think it’s very, very sad, with I think it’s 20-odd per cent of unemployment around the age of 18, that kids are being led to believe that big business is exploiting them, which is nonsense.’ Sir Stuart said firms were apparently being ‘intimidated’ by the campaign against the scheme, adding: ‘One or two have shown a little less than backbone, if I might say so.
‘I think you have got to stick with it. If there are one or two issues of administration in the process that need sorting out, then let’s sort it out, but it seems to me quite straightforward.
‘You can come in, you can get work experience and if you like it you can stay here and possibly get offered a job; if you don’t like it after the first week you can go away. I don’t get it, what’s the problem?’
Mr Grayling told the Daily Mail he would deliver a similar message to company bosses when he meets them on Wednesday. ‘I hope now that everyone involved in the scheme realises we have been targeted by a small group of extremists who created a noise utterly disproportionate to their number, they agree it would be a disaster for young people if we allowed that campaign to prevail,’ he said.
He is prepared to discuss firms’ concerns about sanctions attached to the scheme which mean that benefits can be withdrawn if youngsters who have not opted to leave a placement after a week fail to turn up without good reason or are rude and unco-operative. But he added: ‘I don’t think any employer wants to be in a position where somebody behaves badly and faces no consequences.’
Tory MP Harriett Baldwin said: ‘I’m disappointed that some leading employers appeared frightened at the first whiff of grapeshot from a bunch of socialist campaigners. I hope they realise what an important role they have to play in giving youngsters a chance.’
Britain’s angry generation: Lack of parental discipline is blamed for aggressive and anti-social children
Parents who fail to discipline their offspring properly are creating a generation of angry children who lash out in the classroom, a study has found.
Pupils were twice as likely to be aggressive and disruptive if they had parents who were violent, critical or inconsistent in what they allowed them to get away with at home.
In contrast, children tended to be better behaved if their parents combined warmth with clear and consistent rules and boundaries.
For the study, nearly 300 families with children aged four to seven were assessed for both the children’s behaviour and their parents’ discipline techniques.
The researchers, led by Professor Stephen Scott, director of the National Academy for Parenting Research, said: ‘A negative parenting style, characterised by harsh, inconsistent discipline, was clearly associated with more severe child anti-social behaviour.
‘Parents who used negative discipline had twice the rate of children with severe behaviour problems compared to the other parents.’
The finding follows claims by experts that some middle-class parents lavish material possessions on their children but are distant and barely involved in their upbringing.
Poor supervision of children’s activities and mothers suffering depression were also linked to bad behaviour.
The researchers said they were unable to rule out the argument that ‘irritating’ children were themselves to blame for ‘evoking harsher parenting’.
But they added: ‘A whole range of studies has shown the causal effect is there too, and that harsh parenting trains children to become anti-social.’ These children were at risk of underperforming at school and even turning to crime and drug or alcohol abuse.
The researchers claimed that their study, which was funded by the Government, reinforced the benefits of parenting lessons to teach mothers and fathers across all sections of society how to discipline their children.
Ministers are already preparing a two-year trial of parenting classes in three areas as part of a £5million experiment which will deal with issues such as discipline, communication and managing conflict. From the summer, the lessons will be introduced for about 50,000 families in Middlesbrough, High Peak in Derbyshire, and Camden in North London.
But ministers hope that if the scheme proves successful they will eventually extend it across the country and make the classes available to all parents.
The research team reported that mothers who were less educated and had lower incomes were more likely to resort to negative parenting. However they admitted the link was ‘weak’ and urged against viewing the problem as being confined to these types of families.
The report added: ‘It underlines the fact that there is the opportunity to improve children’s life chances through directly intervening with programmes that are effective in changing parenting styles.’
Child literacy expert Sue Palmer blamed parents relying on ‘electronic babysitters’, and claimed in her book Toxic Childhood that many children starting school had led a ‘very solitary, sedentary, screen-based existence’. She added: ‘Many children now watch bedtime TV rather than sharing a bedtime story, songs and chat with parents. This is a serious erosion of important family time.’
British teachers deserting a chaotic system
Soaring numbers of teachers are taking early retirement amid threats to their pensions, figures revealed yesterday. Almost 9,000 teachers left before the statutory retirement age last year – the highest figure since 1997.
Teachers’ leaders blamed the demands of dealing with unruly pupils as well as pressure from targets and Ofsted inspections. They also cited pay freezes and changes requiring teachers to pay more into pension funds.
The figures – from the Department for Education – also show more than 230,000 qualified teachers aged under 60 are no longer working in schools. A further 80,700 trained as teachers but never entered the classroom. Vast numbers of teachers are ‘out of service’ even though school rolls will rise after a surge in births.
The teachers’ pension age is 65 but those joining prior to 2007 can get their pension at 60.
Some 8,880 state school teachers took early retirement in 2010/11 – 1,570 more than the year before. There were only 2,370 early retirements in 1998/99. Most retiring teachers were aged 55 to 59 but a small number were in their early fifties. The average pension for those retiring early was £15,000 a year – excluding lump sums.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘Excessive workload, a restrictive curriculum and the intense worry and fear regarding Ofsted inspections would certainly lead to many teachers wanting to take early retirement.’
She added: ‘The teaching profession comes under almost daily attack and criticism from Government and Ofsted.
‘In too many schools, planning and assessment requirements have become formulaic burdens which have become the bane of teachers’ lives – add to that pay freezes and threats to pensions.’
Teaching unions are battling the Government over pensions, which are becoming less generous due to the squeeze on public finances. The clash has already led to strikes.
Chris McGovern, a former head teacher and chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘It is a tough job and it’s not surprising teachers are being ground down by teaching disaffected children and relying on a curriculum that is not relevant.’
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘It’s no surprise that teachers who joined the profession in the 1970s might choose to draw their pensions early – as is their right.’ He said reforms, including giving teachers more freedom to do their jobs, should help attract and retain staff.
How walking the dog can be harmful to your health: ‘Man’s best friend’ may cause high number of injuries
I don’t this will make many dog-owners give up their dog, however. I must say, though, that tripping over cats and dogs is a regular hazard if you have them around the house
The regular walks and companionship that come with owning a dog are known to aid fitness and wellbeing. But it turns out that man’s best friend may be more likely to harm health than help it.
They may be responsible for a worryingly high number of injuries needing emergency hospital treatment, researchers say.
Over only two months, doctors at one hospital noted 37 cases of patients needing treatment for broken bones, soft tissue injuries and head wounds caused by dogs.
Sixteen of them needed surgery. Most were pulled over by their pet while it was on a lead, while others tripped while out walking, fell over leads or were knocked over as their dog ran towards them.
Doctors were so surprised by the results – which suggest the hospital deals with more than 200 dog-related injuries a year – that they concluded the risks to dog owners’ health may ‘offset any benefits’.
‘We have shown that dog-related injuries are common, particularly in the elderly,’ said Dr Henry Willmott of the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, East Sussex.
‘The presence of a dog in the house should be taken into consideration when the risk of falls is being assessed and dog obedience training should be considered. I am sure that this is a common phenomenon across the UK.’
He added: ‘Elderly women walking their dog on uneven ground were most at risk of injury. Some of the injuries were serious and resulted in considerable morbidity.’
Dr Willmott suggested more elderly women than men were hurt because they are more likely to have weaker bones due to osteoporosis.
The study, published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, is the first to look at how many injuries – other than biting – dogs cause. Previous research has shown owning a dog can ward off depression, lower blood pressure and even combat obesity.
Dogs have been shown to reduce the risk of developing eczema and may be able to sniff out cancer before symptoms develop.
British wood-burning power station goes up in flames
What an odd thing for wood to do!
A severe fire that broke out at one of Europe’s largest green power stations is now under control but there are fears that the blaze could continue to burn for days.
Around 120 firefighters have been tackling the fire at Tilbury Power Station, which erupted in a fuel storage area at 7.45am. Nobody was injured and all employees have been accounted for, but Chief Fire Officer David Johnson, from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS), said it was one of the most challenging fires he had dealt with in his 20-year career.
Earlier today, he said it involved 4-6,000 tonnes of biomass in a wood pellet hopper high up in the power station building.
Opened in 1969, Tilbury previously operated as a coal-fired power station but has been converted to generate power from 100% sustainable biomass until its scheduled closure at the end of 2015.
Biomass plants burn wood pellets, generally made from compacted sawdust or other wastes from sawmilling and other manufactured wood products.
Mr Johnson said: ‘The fire involves 4-6,000 tonnes of bio mass high up in the power station building. The fuel goes into vats and is taken into the plant on a conveyor belt.
‘The fuel cells are designed to carry dry fuel so pouring water on to them and making them significantly heavier could potentially damage the structure of the building.
‘There is an added complication that when the cells get wet, then dried by the fire, a crust will develop making it impossible for more water to penetrate the fire underneath.’
Fire crews were sent into the building to tackle the blaze using specialist high expansion foam on the burning hoppers to starve the fire of oxygen and create a safety blanket.
This afternoon the fire was said to be under control, with steady progress being made, but a spokesman said it was likely to remain a ‘protracted incident’.
A statement said: ‘The fire is under control and steady progress is being made. Crews continue to work in arduous conditions inside the power station building – three aerial ladder platforms are in use and internal firefighting operations continue…
Hijab quip sees man detained at British airport
Must not even mention privileged treatment of Muslims
Airport security detained the creator of popular children’s character Fireman Sam after he made a remark about a woman wearing a hijab, British media reports.
David Jones, 67, was at London’s Gatwick airport placing his carry-on items into a tray, including a scarf, for scanning when a woman wearing a hijab passed by him through security without showing her face, London’s Daily Telegraph reports.
Mr Jones reportedly said “If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen?”
Shortly after, Mr Jones was confronted by security and accused of making a racist remark. The Telegraph reports he was then detained for an hour as officials attempted to force him to apologise.
An angry Mr Jones told the newspaper that he felt like his rights had been violated and that the experience was like something out of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. The former fireman denied his remark was racist and refused to apologise.
Mr Jones said “it was impossible to get (the guard) to listen to reason”.
After a British Airways manager and police officer also arrived on the scene (the latter at Mr Jones’ request), he eventually agreed to compromise and agreed that his comment “could” be considered offensive.
Britain’s Department of Transport allows people to cover their faces for religious purposes, but they must show their faces at passport control, which they can request be done in private.