Pensioner, 83, died after waiting three hours for an ambulance during public sector strike
An 83-year-old pensioner died after waiting more than three hours for an ambulance during last year’s public sector worker strike, a damning report said today.
The man’s family made five 999 calls after finding that he had fallen over but still had to wait hours for an ambulance to arrive.
A serious incident investigation by the London Ambulance Service concluded that the ‘significant delay in responding is likely to have caused a degree of pain and suffering’ to the pensioner.
It said the level of care provided by the service to the patient – whose identity has not been revealed – ‘fell below that reasonably expected’.
The report said the service ‘faced significant challenges responding to emergency calls’ on November 30, with increased demand but 50 per cent fewer resources because its staff had taken part in the strike.
A call was received at 12.28pm to attend to the man, who had been found on the floor by his family and had apparently fallen at 9.30am.
An adviser from the service called the family around 20 minutes later to confirm the patient’s condition was ‘unchanged’, the report said.
A second 999 call was made by the man’s family at 1.29pm to ask for an estimated time of arrival.
Shortly afterwards, the London Ambulance Service declared an ‘internal major incident’ saying the service was at critical pressure due to the volume of calls it was receiving.
The family called 999 again at 2.18pm because, although alert and talking at that point, the man had taken a turn for the worse and began to feel ‘very unwell’. His family told 999 operators that he was ‘breathless and clammy’. The family then dialled 999 twice more, reporting at 3.45pm that the man had now stopped breathing.
An ambulance arrived at 3.51pm but the pensioner went into cardiac arrest as he was being moved into the ambulance. He was pronounced dead at 4.46pm.
Today’s report said national assumptions on how many staff would go on strike ‘underestimated the number of staff that in the event withdrew their labour in full’.
Recommendations from the review include analysing what happens to elderly people who fall over and, if necessary, carrying out more work on any pre-existing conditions that could lead to them getting worse quickly.
Further work will also be carried out on minimising the impact of any further industrial action.
Experts said the man may not have survived even if he had been reached more quickly.
Peter Bradley, London Ambulance Service chief executive, said: ‘We are sorry for the unacceptable level of care that this patient received from us.
‘Although we were under considerable pressure on November 30 as a result of staff taking part in industrial action, the time taken to reach him was far longer than it should have been.
‘Our investigation found that the patient, who died of ischaemic heart disease, may not have survived even if we had got to him sooner.
‘We recognise, however, that he will have been in pain while he was waiting and we are sorry for the unnecessary distress the delay will have caused.’
African nurse ‘didn’t notice a patient was DEAD and left another with her breasts exposed on a mixed-sex ward’
Yet another example of poor performance by Britain’s “overseas trained” medical staff
A nurse failed to recognise a patient was dead and left another patient sitting with her breasts exposed, a hearing has heard. Jean Ndubeze is accused of making numerous blunders while working as a nurse at Hackney’s Homerton Hospital in east London.
She allegedly said that a pain relief drug was ‘very addictive’ and failed to notice or respond when ventilator and monitor alarms were activated, the Nursing and Midwifery Council panel was told.
Ndubeze, who worked at the hospital between March 2007 and July 2008, is also charged with making mistakes in clinical practice, including problems inserting catheters and repeated failures to carry out blood pressure checks before administering drugs.
Describing the incident involving the dead patient on May 18, 2007, Sister Verl Vine told the panel: ‘How much poorer can a nurse’s observational skills be? ‘I was very shocked she was unable to detect that this patient was in fact dead.’
Alex Mills, for the NMC, asked Ms Vine how Ndubeze reacted when she was told the patient was dead. Ms Vine replied: “She, Ndubeze, said ‘nobody tells me anything so how am I supposed to know this?'” ‘She unfortunately wasn’t very pleased with me. I had that glaring look off her which suggested she wasn’t very happy.’
Ms Verl said in ITU there were obvious signs to indicate a patient had died, including a sheet covering them from head to toe and the absence of a nurse. Monitors were switched off, added Ms Verl, and the curtains often drawn.
Alex Mills, for the NMC, asked: ‘If a patient is in ITU and alive, would you ever cover their head?’ ‘No,’ replied Ms Vine. He continued: ‘If a patient was being treated in ITU and they were alive, would they ever have no monitors at all?’ ‘No,’ she repeated.
Mr Mills said: ‘You also mention there was not a nurse in the cubicle. Is that unusual if a patient is alive and being treated?’
Ms Vine replied: ‘Yes. Very highly unusual because you don’t leave patients unattended at any point and especially not with curtains around them.’
She said she would not have expected Ndubeze, who had been taking clean linen into the cubicle, to do anything upon discovering the dead patient. But she said nurses were expected to be aware of their environment.
In relation to the woman left sitting in a chair with her breasts on show and the curtain open, Ms Vine said: ‘I would have fully expected her to know this was not an acceptable position for her patient to be in. ‘This was a mixed sex ward. Relatives and others would have been able to see her.’
In June 2008, she is accused of leaving a patient, referred to as Patient G, waiting for pain relief medication and then of saying in his presence that it was acceptable to administer the drug late as it was ‘only palliative care’.
A year earlier, on May 18, 2007, it is claimed that on more than one occasion Ndubeze failed to notice or respond to a patient’s ventilator and monitor alarms being activated – despite being prompted by her colleague Sister Verl Vine.
Poor record keeping, ineffective time management, failing to ask for advice and inappropriate comments in front of a patient are also alleged.
Ndubeze, who is being represented by her husband at the central London hearing, also faces a series of other charges. The panel has heard Ndubeze was placed on a six-week development plan between June 18, 2007, and July 29, 2007. During that time, it is claimed she demonstrated poor prioritisation of patient care and failed to ask for help or admit a lack of knowledge.
She was also allegedly not capable of focusing on more than one task at a time or of undertaking full patient observations.
The hearing was told that in light of her apparently continuing mistakes, Ndubeze was called before a disciplinary hearing in December 2007. But she allegedly refused to accept the outcome – that she would have to undergo a period of performance management.
Ndubeze has not formally admitted any of the charges against her.
Student visa fiasco as its revealed one in six handed out by Britian goes to a worker
A flawed immigration crackdown may have allowed up to 50,000 bogus students into Britain, a damning report reveals.
The National Audit Office estimates that around one in six of student visas granted went to workers whose intention was to take jobs.
It found that predictable failings in Labour’s points-based system meant the number of student visas issued went up by a third in its first year.
The public spending watchdog also criticised the UK Border Agency for failing to remove from the country an estimated 160,000 migrants whose visas have expired.
It is the latest blow to the reputation of UKBA. Last year it was disclosed that border checks were downgraded without ministers’ approval.
And a report last month revealed 500,000 passengers were allowed into Britain on Eurostar trains without checks against the database of known terrorists and criminals.
Today’s report exposes how Tier 4 of the points system, which covered higher and further education students from outside the EU, was introduced in 2009 despite major flaws.
It reveals only one third of colleges had been checked by immigration officials before they were allowed to accredit students. And officials were stripped of their powers to turn away suspected bogus students at the borders before proper checks on document applications were in place.
That meant they were often powerless to turn away students who they believed had no intention of studying and were simply here to work.
In the first year of operating Tier 4, the number of student visas issued rose by a third from 235,615 to 313,320.
The NAO estimates that between 40,000 and 50,000 of those – up to one in six – were applicants intending to work rather than study.
The report finds students whose visas have expired are regarded as a ‘low priority’ by the agency compared to illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers. As a result, very little action is taken to kick them out. Since 2009 just 2,700 students have been removed.
The report quotes UKBA figures showing around 159,000 people are thought to be in Britain despite their visas having expired, including tens of thousands of Tier 4 students.
To test how hard it was to find them, the NAO hired a private contractor which in just a week discovered addresses for nearly one in five of 800 individuals.
Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: ‘This is one of the most shocking reports of poor management leading to abuse that I have seen. ‘It is completely unacceptable that the programme was launched without key controls being in place.
‘The agency has done little to stop students overstaying their visas. And it is extremely worrying that the agency does not know how many people with expired student visas are still in the country.’
Former Border Agency chief Lin Homer, recently appointed to a senior role within HM Revenue and Customs, is likely to face a grilling by the committee in coming months.
The Home Office said it disputed the 40,000 to 50,000 figure.
Immigration Minister Damian Green added: ‘This government has introduced radical reforms in order to stamp out abuse and restore order to the uncontrolled student visa system we inherited.’
Another blow to marriage in Britain?
Australia has had no-fault divorce for many years and it seems to work well. There are many amicable split-ups, which is surely the most desirable outcome
Senior judges yesterday renewed calls for no-fault divorces, as they attacked current laws as vastly outdated. At present, couples can be legally parted within six months if one party is shown to be at fault. The most common grounds are unreasonable behaviour, which can include committing adultery or devoting too much time to one’s career.
Leading family court judge Sir Nicholas Wall said: ‘I am a strong believer in marriage. But I see no good arguments against no-fault divorce.’ He added that divorce was in reality an ‘administrative’ process, rather than a legal one.
Another senior judicial figure, Lord Justice Thorpe, indicated his support for no-fault divorce in an Appeal Court ruling, arguing that the current laws ‘represent the social values of a bygone age’.
The twin assault comes at a time of deep controversy over the legal and political status of marriage.
David Cameron’s plans to allow marriage for same-sex couples were published this month, in the face of deep opposition from church figures.
A law removing the need for fault in divorces was passed by John Major’s Conservative government in 1996. It was backed by judges, lawyers, academics and charities – but opponents said it would encourage couples to break up.
Trials showed the Family Law Act 1996 to be unworkable, and Tony Blair’s government scrapped the plan to introduce no-fault divorces. Legal figures, however, have continued to lobby for them.
Sir Nicholas Wall, who as president of the High Court’s Family Division is the country’s most senior divorce court judge, said in a speech to family lawyers that he was a member of the Whitehall advisory group that backed the 1996 change.
‘At the moment, it seems to me we have a system – so far as divorce itself is concerned – which is in fact administrative, but which masquerades as judicial,’ he said.
‘No doubt this has its roots in history. In the 19th century, and for much of the 20th, divorce was a matter of social status. It mattered whether you were divorced or not, and if you were, it was important to demonstrate that you were the innocent party. All that, I think, has gone. Defended divorces are now effectively unheard of.’
In the case of Susan Rae, who believed minor disagreements had been wrongly interpreted as ‘unreasonable behaviour’, he said: ‘I feel the sadness of the wife’s position and her complete inability to accept what has happened to her.
‘Our laws of divorce have not been reformed since their introduction in 1969.’ He said the no-fault proposals would have meant that divorce petitions would no longer have to be justified through hurtful hearings designed to establish fault.
‘Had they been implemented, there would have been no need for these painful investigations, which now seem to represent the social values of a bygone age,’ he added.
Politicians and family experts yesterday warned against removing fault from divorce. Tory MP Julian Brazier said: ‘We already have no-fault divorce in all but name. The real issue is whether we need to reintroduce fault for the determination of child custody and division of resources.
‘If one partner abandons the other, that should be taken into account ….. When it comes to dividing possessions, it is extraordinary that no account is taken of adultery or other fault.’
Jill Kirby, who writes about family life, said: ‘The less the courts consider fault in divorce, the greater the sense of injustice felt by the spouse who thinks he or she was not to blame.’
Wife regrets destroying her marriage
This is the case referred to above
A woman whose husband of 20 years divorced her for unreasonable behaviour has hit out at the courts for allowing marriages to break up on ‘trivial’ grounds.
Susan Rae, 50, told an appeal hearing that her husband should never have been allowed to divorce her simply because she threw his packed lunches away and took a fuse out of the washing machine.
Alan Rae, 56, an assistant dean at the University of Northampton, was granted a decree nisi last year.
But Mrs Rae said the behaviour cited was ‘normal squabbling between a husband and wife’ and not proper grounds for a separation.
She broke down in tears yesterday, as she said the courts had ‘elevated’ examples of their ‘everyday family difficulties’ to the level of unreasonable behaviour.
She explained: ‘I didn’t want him to do the washing, and I didn’t want intensively farmed meat in the house. ‘I asked that of him and he ignored me for the whole 20 years. But these were our only two disagreements.’
She went on to say that her husband had only become so affected by these ‘everyday’ problems after he began suffering from depression, and that she had been accused of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ so the divorce could be rubber-stamped.
‘My reactions to my husband were always…. what any right-thinking person would consider reasonable,’ she said.
Lord Justice Thorpe admitted that he was sympathetic to Mrs Rae’s plight, but said it was clear that her marriage could not be saved.
British schools earn more money from students taking media studies than maths
Schools and colleges receive more money if their A-level pupils take subjects such as media studies or psychology instead of maths, MPs will be told today.
Maths is losing out in ‘subject premiums’ worth hundreds of pounds per pupil, Tory Elizabeth Truss will tell the Commons during a debate on the crisis in England’s maths education.
It comes at a time when the number of sixth-formers studying maths in England is the lowest in the OECD group of advanced nations.
Under a sixth-form funding formula known as ‘weighting’, lessons in less traditional subjects such as media studies receive 12 per cent more funding.
Calling for an overhaul of the system, Mrs Truss said: ‘Britain has a serious issue with maths education.
‘Government funding should reflect the value of mathematics and the difficulty of recruiting teachers into the subject.’
The MP for South West Norfolk, who has previously written a report on academic rigour and social mobility, added: ‘I would argue subjects like media studies should not be getting an extra weighting at all.’
Mrs Truss said the subject premium should instead be applied to maths and further maths in an attempt to boost numbers of pupils studying the subject. Students at comprehensive schools are half as likely to study maths as their privately-educated peers but considerably more likely to study media studies.
Mrs Truss added only half of comprehensive sixth-forms offer further maths, which puts thousands of students out of contention to study science and maths at top universities.
Under the funding formula, each sixth-form pupil attracts a basic sum of £2,920. This is adjusted upwards or downwards depending on the subjects studied and factors including the school or college’s location. A-levels in media studies and psychology and lab-based sciences such as physics and biology receive 12 per cent more than maths, English or foreign languages.
A pupil studying three A-levels in the higher funding bracket would attract £350 more than a classmate taking three in the lower.
Non A-level subjects with practical content – such as floristry and bricklaying – are given even higher weightings.
The Young People’s Learning Agency, which funds sixth-form subjects, said the reason for the weightings is that some subjects involve buying more equipment or are taught in smaller groups. But Mrs Truss points out that schools are forced to pay significantly more to secure good maths teachers than in the subjects with higher weightings.
She said maths should be given a 30 per cent higher weighting and further maths 50 per cent.
Her call came as plans are being drawn up for a range of maths qualifications to be made available to sixth-formers to encourage almost all youngsters to study the subject until the age of 18.
Teenagers would be able to pick from an ‘a la carte’ menu of qualifications including the traditional maths A-level and other courses which are more demanding than GCSE maths but short of a full A-level.
A recent report by Professor Alison Wolf found those holding a maths A-level, at any grade, go on to earn ten per cent more than their peers who do not.
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘We consulted on changes to 16-19 funding at the end of last year, and we are considering the responses.
‘We are undertaking a root and branch review of how maths is taught in schools, attracting the best maths graduates into the profession by offering bursaries of up to £20,000, and strengthening training through our network of specialist teaching schools. ‘We are also overhauling GCSEs and A-levels to make sure they are robust and in line with the best education systems in the world.’
British Musical Legend Fumes Over Government’s Wind ‘Scam’
Famed lyricist SIR TIM RICE has taken aim at the government for backing wind turbine schemes, branding the environmental initiative “a scam”.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government wants renewable sources to provide 15 per cent of the energy supply by 2015, but the investment into wind farming has divided the country.
Rice admits he is not a fan of the scheme, and has even turned down big money offers to house wind turbines on his sprawling estate in Scotland.
He tells the Sunday Telegraph, “I recently declined to support a Conservative function because I’m so incensed about these wind turbines. Like all so-called climate-change doubters, I am very pro the environment, but I strongly believe that it is something that can only be cured locally. Some insane overall scheme isn’t going to cure all the problems. And the money that is wasted!
“As a landowner in Scotland, I’ve been offered vast amounts of money to stick up wind turbines, which not only will make me richer, it will make less well-off people poorer, and will damage the environment. These schemes aren’t doing any good – just making rich people richer, and it’s depressing to see great areas of these useless objects up there.
“It’s a scam – a con – and until the government has the brains to actually say, hang on, we’ve got it wrong, this is a total economic and environmental error, then I find it hard to give total support to them.”