Grandmother, 75 ‘was left to die of thirst’ after nurses refused to give her enough to drink
A grandmother suffered dehydration and died after hospital nurses failed to give her enough water to drink. Irene Seddon, 75, developed kidney failure because she was deprived of fluids for more than a week over the Christmas period.
Her health deteriorated at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside and she picked up a fatal case of pneumonia, dying five weeks later in February 2006.
Hospital chiefs have admitted their care fell below ‘acceptable standards’ and have paid Mrs Seddon’s family a five-figure sum in compensation.
Following a long-awaited inquest into the retired shop assistant’s death, her daughter, Pamela Moorst, 51, said: ‘The way she was looked after was appalling. ‘It was Christmas and they were on skeleton staff. We kept telling the nurses that she could not swallow and was dehydrated – but nobody seemed to be bothered.’
On Tuesday Dr Terence Hankin, the hospital’s deputy medical director, told the hearing that Mrs Seddon was not ‘adequately hydrated’ between December 21 and 29 2005. But he said her subsequent care was ‘good.’
He said that when Mrs Seddon later developed pneumonia, her kidneys had improved and ‘on the balance of probabilities’ the dehydration did not contribute towards her death. But his theory was dismissed by Dr Grahame Wood, a renal consultant at Salford Royal Hospital.
He told the inquest that the hospital’s failure to give Mrs Seddon, of St Helens, enough water was ‘profound and avoidable’ and ‘contributed to her death in a number of ways’.
Dr Wood said the kidney failure had weakened her to the extent that she could not fight off infection when it took hold. Mrs Seddon’s primary cause of death was recorded as pneumonia, with acute kidney failure as the secondary factor.
Following her death, Mrs Moorst and her sister, Glenda Barrow, 58, were determined that a formal inquest be held into their mother’s death.
Staff transfer visa loophole is robbing Britain’s migrant cap of its ‘bite’
The Government’s supposedly strict cap on migrant workers is ‘not biting’, an expert warned yesterday. In a bid to bring immigration under control, ministers ruled that only 21,700 visas should be given to non-EU workers each year.
A report released yesterday by the Migration Advisory Committee shows that as few as 10,000 have entered the UK under the cap in the past year.
However, nearly 30,000 have entered via so-called intra-company transfers, which allow firms to bring in workers whom they already employ overseas without contributing towards the capped total.
The transfers – long criticised as a backdoor into Britain by campaigners – were originally set to count towards the limit of 21,700.
They were excluded after Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable protested during a trip to India, where many intra- company transfers (ICTs) originate.
When both ICTs and visas issued under the cap are taken into consideration, there has been only a slight reduction in the number of non-EU workers entering the UK.
The number of ICTs rose from 22,000 in 2009 to 29,700 in the year ending last September. The MAC said the amount of ICTs per million of the population was ‘substantially higher for the UK’ than in comparable countries such as the U.S., Australia and Germany.
Net migration – the difference between the number of people entering Britain and those leaving – remains close to record levels at 250,000. The Conservatives have pledged to reduce this to tens of thousands. Ministers are now likely to face calls to tighten the visa cap.
The MAC’s chairman, Professor David Metcalf, said the current cap was ‘not biting’ but warned that tightening it ‘could affect perceptions of the UK as an attractive place to do business’.
He said the Government would have to keep ICTs under review if it wanted to hit the ‘tens of thousands’ target.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘We welcome the report and we are considering the recommendations. The Government will announce its decisions in the near future.’
Home Secretary Theresa May will today announce new rules stating that migrants working in the UK must earn at least £35,000 a year if they want to stay longer than five years.
Maybe Cantuar really is a Christian after all!
Why it would be wrong to legalise gay marriage, by the Archbishop of Canterbury
The law has no right to legalise same-sex marriage, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared yesterday. Dr Rowan Williams said a new marriage law for gay couples would amount to forcing unwanted change on the rest of the nation.
He also said it would be wrong to legalise assisted dying because of the threat it would pose to the vulnerable and because it would go against the beliefs of most people.
In a key speech on human rights, the head of the Anglican Church put his weight behind other leading clergy who have launched a powerful campaign to prevent David Cameron from going ahead with his plan to allow the full rights of marriage to same-sex couples.
Dr Williams’s predecessor in Lambeth Palace, Lord Carey, notably told the Mail last week that same-sex marriage laws would be ‘one of the greatest political power grabs in history’.
Dr Williams’s statement means the Prime Minister now knows he will face opposition from the liberal-minded leadership of the Church of England – as well as its determined traditionalists – if he continues on the track towards legalised gay marriage.
The Archbishop said human rights law ‘falls short of a legal charter to promote change in institutions’.
Dr Williams added: ‘If it is said that a failure to legalise assisted suicide – or same-sex marriage – perpetuates stigma or marginalisation for some people, the reply must be, I believe, that issues like stigma and marginalisation have to be addressed at the level of culture rather than law.’
The Archbishop indicated to MPs earlier this week that CofE churches would never be used to solemnise gay marriages and Anglican officials underlined that the Church says marriage must remain a union between a man and a woman.
Dr Williams’s intervention in the argument yesterday, in a speech to a World Council of Churches gathering in Geneva, echoed, in typically mild academic language, the sentiments expressed by Lord Carey.
The Archbishop has long been a personal supporter of gay rights and his lecture yesterday insisted Christians must accept that gay equality laws are here to stay. But he has also listened to the concerns of traditional Christian believers since he began his career at Lambeth Palace in 2003 by refusing to allow an openly gay cleric to take a post as a CofE bishop.
His remarks yesterday came after Coalition ministers insisted they would go ahead with a same-sex marriage law whatever the churches say. Equality minister Lynne Featherstone said last week the churches did not own marriage law. She added a same-sex marriage law would be ‘about the underlying principles of family, society and personal freedoms’.
Mr Cameron declared for same-sex marriage last autumn, saying: ‘Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other.
‘I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.’ A consultation document on how a gay marriage law would work is due out shortly.
Dr Williams said in his speech that same-sex marriage law was wrong because it tried to impose cultural change. He added human rights language could be ‘confused and artificial’ when it strayed from protecting the vulnerable. It could become ‘an alien culture, pressing the imperatives of universal equality over all local custom and affinity’.
Secret justice and an abuse of power: Alarm at British Government’s plan to allow controversial court cases and inquests to be heard behind closed doors
The historic principle that justice should be seen to be done is threatened by hugely controversial plans to allow secret hearings, ministers are being warned.
Proposals for sweeping new powers which would allow the Government to withhold any evidence it deems ‘sensitive’ from an open civil court hearing or inquest are facing a chorus of criticism.
Former director of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald yesterday attacked the Government’s proposal for so-called ‘closed material procedures’ in civil courts, an attempt to prevent sensitive claims for damages being aired in open hearings.
Critics say the legislation has been ‘dictated’ by the security services following an embarrassing string of cases brought against them by former terrorist suspects who claimed they had been subjected to torture.
In the case of Binyam Mohamed, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who sought to sue the Government for complicity in torture, the Government tried to conceal documents disclosing his alleged mistreatment but were overruled by the courts.
There is increasing concern that Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke’s proposals will mean ministers being able to prevent a huge range of cases – from military inquests to police and medical negligence claims – being held in public.
Negligence claims against the Ministry of Defence for death and injuries arising from ‘friendly fire’ incidents or failure of equipment would be a prime target for ministers seeking to avoid embarrassment, campaigners predict.
Past cases such as the inquiry into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes by police who mistook him for a terrorist could have been hushed up by the Government if the measures had been in force at the time. And MI5’s failings over the 7/7 bombings might never have come to light.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights campaign group Liberty, called the proposals a ‘shameless attempt to cover up abuses of power’.
She said: ‘Proposed legislation wouldn’t just end the long-held principle that no one is above the law – it would exclude the Press, public and victims from seeing justice done.
‘Open courts and investigative journalists fought to uncover some of the worst scandals of the war on terror. Under these plans, future ministers would be granted sweeping powers to lock down embarrassing inquests and civil claims against the powerful. Victims of gross abuses of power, the public and the Press could be left in the dark for ever.’
Under the proposals, ministers will be able to order not only that a hearing is conducted behind closed doors, but also that claimants are denied access to government evidence or witnesses.
The reforms, detailed in a Green Paper on justice and security, are backed by senior figures in the security community, notably Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee.
But legal experts in the field appear increasingly uneasy. Lord Macdonald, QC, said the plans would put the Government ‘above the law’ and must be reconsidered.
‘These unprecedented proposals are an audacious attack on the fundamental principle of British justice: that you should be able to know, and to challenge, the claims which are made against you,’ he said. ‘They threaten to put the Government above the law, while leaving ordinary citizens, and the Press, shut out of their own justice system.
‘After a decade in which we have seen our politicians and officials caught up in the woeful abuses of the war on terror, the last thing the Government should be seeking is to sweep all of this under the carpet. However, that is exactly what their disastrous secret justice proposals are likely to do….
Don’t bother getting a good degree: Now Britain’s PC brigade says bosses shouldn’t just hire best students as it ‘discriminates against average graduates’
Companies hiring graduates with top degrees could be discriminating against students with average grades, according to a Government-commissioned review. Jobs that require applicants to have a minimum qualification of a 2:1 degree may prevent firms meeting diversity targets, the report said.
Many sought-after positions – particularly in the corporate sector – require a certain standard of academic achievement and even attendance at a certain set of universities. But the review for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said the system was ‘flawed’.
Professor Tim Wilson, who carried out the review, said: ‘A filter that limits recruitment to a particular set of universities, a “2-1 standard” and a defined UCAS entry threshold to the corporate sector are not uncommon requirements. ‘In the context of reducing the applications to manageable proportions this is understandable, but it has flaws.’
He said companies who filter on academic achievement need to carry out regular reviews of their screening processes, based on the types of graduates they have hired.
‘An algorithm that includes a profiling filter may reduce the selection task to manageable proportions and hence an acceptable cost, but it also has the potential to exclude graduates with skills profiles that are appropriate to company needs.
‘Graduate recruiters using filtering mechanisms should undertake a systematic and frequent review of screening algorithms in the light of the qualities of the graduates that the company has recruited and the diversity objectives of the company.’
He added that the recruitment cycle is normally undertaken before graduation, so the degree classification is projected, not actual. This may minimise the cost risk, he added, but not necessarily manage the risk of diversity imbalance.
The review said that many employers were concerned about not attracting the right mix of graduates and that companies were often not doing enough to communicate with prospective candidates.
Sir Tim made 54 recommendations, including a number on how to encourage more so-called ‘sandwich’ degrees which involve some form of work, and ways of increasing internships.
He said that where internships are unpaid, universities should use funds they receive from the office for Fair Access, which encourages students from poorer backgrounds to go to university, to support eligible youngsters rather than condone a policy that could ‘inhibit social mobility’.
He suggested universities should only charge students on a work placement year £1,000 rather than the permitted maximum of £4,500, and interest charges on student loans should be suspended.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said the world’s best universities were building deeper links with business, adding that the Government will now ‘carefully consider’ the report’s recommendations.
The conclusions are likely to increase fears the professions are dumbing down in order to widen access and concerns this could damage Britain’s already unstable economy.
Doctors and nurses must not call an elderly patient ‘dear’
“Doctors and nurses should be banned from calling elderly patients ‘dear’, a panel of officials declares today.
Over the last eight months a team of officials from the NHS Confederation, the Local Government Association and charity Age UK have been compiling guidelines to improve the care of the elderly in hospitals and nursing homes.
The panel – the Commission on Improving Dignity in Care for Older People – says hospital staff should refrain from asking patients ‘how are we today dear?’.
In addition, they say doctors and nurses should stop reducing patients to illnesses labels or conditions – such as ‘that stroke over there’ or ‘the fractured femur in that bay’. In a joint statement, the authors of the report call for a ‘major cultural shift’ to ensure care is ‘patient-centred’ rather than ‘task-focused’.
I can’t see why friendly forms of address should be banned