Lazy NHS doctors kill young father

Even AFTER seeing adverse diagnostic test results they refused to act. The usual NHS roadblock is refusal to do any tests. Tests are just too pesky to bother with, apparently

The couple, from nearby Bedlington, immediately launched legal action against Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust has now admitted liability over his death and agreed to pay out £85,000 in compensation following a settlement in the medical negligence case.

Mr Lowden became seriously ill ten days after undergoing a routine hernia operation at Hexham General Hospital in November 2009.

He was rushed into Wansbeck General Hospital suffering from severe chest and back pain and was vomiting blood on December 8, with a letter from his GP stating his symptoms were indicative of a post-operative clot.

But doctors at the Ashington-based hospital ruled out the fatal condition despite abnormal test results, which included an X-ray showing a shadow on his right lung.

Instead, they diagnosed him with a suspected viral chest infection and discharged him the next day. Mr Lowden later collapsed at his home in Bedlington and died on December 9, when the clot, which had formed in his left leg, travelled through his veins and into his heart, causing a cardiac arrest. Charlie also left a sister Ruth, 16, and brother Jonathan, 21.

Speaking about the settlement, she saide: ‘For us, it’s never been about the money. No amount of money in the world can mend a broken heart.

‘Until we get an apology and something is done about what they did, we will not walk away from this.’

His parents had hoped that the NHS trust would specifically acknowledge the children.

Mrs Lowden added: ‘We didn’t want to accept their offer because, at first, they refused to acknowledge the kids. ‘We even offered to provide DNA samples if they had wanted. ‘We told them we would accept an offer, if they recognised them, which they have now done.

‘But I feel like it’s an insult to my son’s memory because, more than two years on, we have still not had an apology for what happened, which would have gone a long way if they had have done that at the beginning.’

A spokeswoman for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘We are deeply saddened by the death of Mr Lowden and wish to again express our sympathies to his family at this difficult time.

‘Whilst a settlement has been made, we recognise it will not compensate the family for their loss.

‘We have implemented the recommendations made by the coroner and have put the necessary measures in place to minimise the chance of a similar case happening again.’


Health service ‘looks like a supertanker heading for an iceberg’, warns NHS chief

The health service ‘looks like a supertanker heading for an iceberg’, the head of the NHS Confederation has warned. His comment came as a survey revealed the squeeze on NHS finances is so serious that almost half of its leaders think it will reduce quality of care for patients over the next year.

The research, carried out before the confederation’s annual conference in Manchester, shows that NHS leaders fear that growing financial pressures will mean treatment rationing and longer waiting times.

Of the 252 chief executives and chairs of NHS organisations questioned, almost half believe the financial burden on the health service is ‘very serious’ and 47 per cent say this means quality of care will reduce over the next 12 months.

Mike Farrar, chief executive of the confederation which represents organisations providing NHS services, said: ‘Despite huge efforts to maintain standards of patient care in the current financial year, healthcare leaders are deeply concerned about the storm clouds that are gathering around the NHS.

‘Our survey shows that many NHS leaders see finances getting worse and that this is already having a growing impact on their patients. In response, they are cutting costs in the short term but they know that much more radical solutions are the only answer in the long run.

‘Frankly, without action on the way we provide health and social care, the NHS looks like a supertanker heading for an iceberg. The danger is clearly in view and looming ever-larger. We know what needs to happen. But are we going to be able to take the assertive action needed in time?

‘NHS leaders surveyed are clearly worried about standards of care. They associate this with the tight financial position, the even tighter financial position faced by local authorities, the distracting effect of the reforms, the time that it will take the reforms to bed in, and the chronic failure of political leadership to secure the public support for the changes they know are needed.’

Mr Farrar added that politicians had ‘consistently failed’ to put the long-term interests of the population’s health above their short-term electoral interests.

He concluded: ‘I genuinely believe we can achieve a better and sustainable NHS but as the survey suggests, we face a mighty struggle unless we take the necessary steps as soon as possible.’

Mr Farrer is to address the conference today, as will Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘We know that the NHS is performing extremely well for patients, with waiting times and hospital-acquired infections low and patient experience of care high.

‘But there are financial pressures; as nearly half of the respondents to the NHS Confederation’s survey made clear, they are very serious but not the most they have experienced.

‘Recognising this, we have committed to investing an extra £12.5 billion in the NHS and led a programme of quality-led savings for reinvestment in services, which is on track.

‘The NHS needs to change to match the needs of a changing population. We will not shy away from difficult decisions involved in that. But any local plans must be led by the need to use resources more effectively to support and improve services and the quality of NHS care.

‘The Confederation survey shows leadership to deliver integrated, innovative services is the priority, which is exactly where our reforms are taking us.’

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association said: ‘This survey confirms what everybody inside the health and social care system is already saying – the next decade is likely to be the most challenging one in the history of the NHS.

‘Treatments are being rationed, waiting times for elective procedures are going up and patients continue to be treated poorly on our hospital wards.

‘All of this, and the £20 billion of efficiency savings haven’t even started to bite yet. As Mike Farrar rightly says, changes need to be made now that will protect patients, and the NHS, for the long term.’


Huge High School shakeup in Britain

Leaked documents seen by the Mail reveal Education Secretary Michael Gove has drawn up a blueprint which would tear up the current exam system as well as abolishing the National Curriculum.

From September 2014, pupils will begin studying for ‘explicitly harder’ exams in English, maths, physics, chemistry and biology.

Tough O-levels will also be drawn up in history, geography and modern languages. The new exams will ‘meet or exceed the highest standards in the world for that age group’.

Mr Gove believes the creation of GCSEs by the Tories in the 1980s was a ‘historic mistake’ that has ‘failed pupils’ and led to the collapse of standards through grade inflation and a proliferation of ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses.

Under his revolutionary plans:

  *  GCSEs will ‘disappear’ from schools within the next few years
*  The National Curriculum in secondary schools will be abolished
*  The requirement that pupils obtain five good GCSEs graded A* to C will be scrapped

*   Less intelligent pupils will sit simpler exams, similar to the old CSEs

*    O-level pupils will sit the same gold standard paper nationwide from a single exam board

The extraordinary plans will set Mr Gove on a collision course with the teaching unions, local education authorities, the Liberal Democrats and even his own civil servants.

He is set to announce the plans formally in the next two weeks. In the autumn a public consultation will run for 12 weeks. That will clear the way for them to be implemented early next year. None of the plans require an Act of Parliament.

Mr Gove’s proposal is nothing less than an attempt to reverse three decades of academic decline and create a system that Labour could not reverse if its wins power in 2015.

A leaked document seen by the Mail reveals: ‘Those starting GCSEs in 2013 are the last pupils who will have to do them.’

This means they will sit their exams in 2015. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of pupils who begin in September 2014 will be expected to take O-levels in English, maths and the sciences in 2016.

There will be individual O-levels in physics, chemistry and biology, instead of a combined sciences qualification.

In a bid to end the slide in standards, pupils will have to study complex subjects like calculus to get an A grade in O-level maths. English literature pupils will be banned from taking set texts into exams and will be expected to write longer essays.

Questions like ‘Would you look at the Moon with a microscope or a telescope?’ from science GCSEs will be a thing of the past. As well as the return of O-levels, the Government will create a new exam for less able pupils.

When GCSEs were created they were supposed to help less-gifted students.   But Mr Gove believes those teenagers have been encouraged to think that a D, E, F or G grade at GCSE is a ‘pass’ when the real world treats those grades as a ‘fail’.

From 2014, the bottom 25 per cent of pupils will study more straightforward exams in English, maths and science, so they can get a worthwhile qualification.

Questions on these papers will emphasise real life situations like counting change in a shop or reading a railway timetable.

A return to an exam like the old CSE will be controversial, but ministers will point out that 42 per cent of pupils currently fail to get five good GCSEs, the measure by which schools are judged, meaning teachers have no incentive to help them at all.

This autumn, exam boards will enter a competition to win the right to set the first new O-levels. The Department for Education will announce before Christmas which boards will set the English, maths and science O-levels, with the same exam taken nationwide.

This is expected to lead to resistance from boards like Edexcel, who could lose business unless they land the contracts.

Exam boards will also be told to devise new O-levels in history, geography and modern languages. Mr Gove hopes they will also be ready for pupils beginning study in 2014 but their introduction may take until 2015.

GCSEs will not disappear immediately and schools will be able to continue teaching the English Baccalaureate.  But a document seen by the Mail says: ‘The Department for Education expects that existing GCSEs will disappear’.

In order to persuade schools to adopt the new exams in 2014, the Government will scrap the requirement that pupils should seek to obtain five good GCSEs graded A* to C from 2016 – leaving them free to take on the new gold standard O-levels.

Mr Gove is concerned that the current system simply encourages pupils to study three ‘Mickey Mouse’ GCSE courses like food nutrition on top of English and maths in order to fulfil the requirement.

The plans will also spell the end for pupils racking up 13 or more GCSEs and ensure that they engage in rigorous study in a smaller number of subjects. Cambridge University currently sets O-levels for pupils in other countries.

In Singapore, between two-thirds and three-quarters of pupils take O-levels and the Government believes the same should be true of Britain.

Schools will now be encouraged to enter pupils for exams when they are ready. In Singapore, some pupils take O-levels at 15, while others take three years and sit them at 17.

Headteachers will also be given sweeping powers to teach what they like when they like. The leaked document says Mr Gove ‘will abolish the secondary National Curriculum and not replace it. All existing programmes of study will be withdrawn from September 2013’.

Academies, now more than half of secondary schools, can already roam off the National Curriculum. But by tearing it up, Mr Gove will prevent a future Labour government of changing the law to impose it on academies again.

A senior Whitehall source said the plans will put an end to politicians using grade inflation to make outlandish claims about rising standards. Last night a spokesman for the Department for Education said: ‘We do not comment on leaks.’


British exam boo-boo

Students furious with exam board for putting ‘impossible’ question in chemistry paper

An exam board apologised yesterday for a ‘confusing’ chemistry A-level question that students complain was impossible to answer.  The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance admitted that guidance given in an A2 paper sat by just under 16,000 teenagers was ‘unhelpful’.

It has insisted that examiners will take into account ‘the potential for confusion’ when marking the question and ensure that students are not penalised.

Students have set up a Facebook page, Thechem5paperwasadisgrace, which is ‘liked’ by over 2,000 people, in protest over the AQA chemistry exam which was sat on Tuesday.

They argue that one question was ‘impossible to answer using the data provided’ while some claim there wasn’t enough time to complete the difficult paper.

The contested question – worth five marks out of a potential 100 for the whole paper – asked students to make a calculation using a ratio they should have come up with in part one.

To help students who could not calculate the original ratio, the paper gave them another ratio to use to answer part two. However, it also told them in bold print that this was ‘not the correct ratio’.

One student said: ‘A question regarding the percentage of a certain compound required us to use a ratio from the previous question. However if one did not get that ratio, there was a ‘wrong’ ratio given for use to at least get method marks.  ‘However, the result using this ratio was more than 100 per cent which is chemically, mathematically and theoretically impossible.’

Another said: ‘I know that a lot of students spent a long time trying to work out a rational answer and so ran out of time to answer other questions. I feel sorry for a lot of people who are now worried that they won’t get into university because of this exam.’

A spokeswoman for AQA said: ‘We expect that the majority of students will have answered part one of the question correctly, used the ratio that they have calculated and will therefore have had no problems.  ‘However, the alternative ratio given in A6(d) (ii) leads to an answer that is different to what students would normally expect to see.

‘Although the question can still be answered, we recognise the alternative ratio given was unhelpful and it has clearly caused confusion for some students.  ‘We apologise to these students and accept it would have been better to use a different ratio.’

She added: ‘We would like to reassure students that we have established procedures in place to deal with issues like this.  ‘Our examiners will take into account the potential for confusion when they mark the papers and will ensure the results of those students who used the alternative ratio are not affected.’


Fixing Britain’s Keystone Kops

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, is proposing Tom Winsor as HM Inspector of Constabulary – the regulator of Britain’s police service. Naturally, a lot of people are alarmed at this prospect.

In the first place, nobody expects that Winsor would conduct the regulation of the police in a genteel manner. He has a reputation for speaking his mind, and uttering a few sharp words when he thinks people aren’t doing their job properly. That is certainly what he did at the Office of Rail Regulation.

Then of course there was his two recent reports on the police, in which he proposed a radical programme of reform, major changes in pay and conditions, and a demand that police officers shed their ‘clock in, clock out’ reputation with the public. He’s not a man to take prisoners. It’s partly down to his recommendations that 30,000 police came out on the streets to protest about their pay and pensions.

Police bosses, of course, argue that Winsor has no history or experience of policing. But maybe that is exactly what the police service needs, someone coming to it from outside who can see it from the point of view of the public, and of managerial and economic efficiency, rather than being bound up in the status quo.

One of Winsor’s criticisms of police recruiting is precisely that officers start on the beat and have to to work up to the higher ranks, steeping them in the status quo – when really we should be recruiting intellectually able managers straight into the higher, managerial ranks such as superintendent. And usually it is only a police insider, an existing chief constable, who has come up in this way who gets to regulate the whole system.

Sure, the Chief Inspector has traditionally been more than just a regulator. Part of the job has been to advise senior police officers on difficult issues such as public order and the policing of large events, policy on terrorism and suchlike. Winsor, with no past day-to-day involvement in such issues, might not be the best person to advise. But again, maybe we need a police regulator who is not poacher and gamekeeper at the same time. Perhaps the advisory job needs to be done by someone else, or through some other mechanism, so the regulator can get on with regulating.

A public monopoly which starts people on the lowest rank, and through which people are promoted on the basis of longevity and clubbability as much as on brains and skill, is an outdated concept. If ever there is an example of producer capture, the police service must be it.

That is why I am so looking forward to Dr Tim Evans’s talk to the ASI’s Next Generation Group tonight. He goes even further than Tom Winsor, arguing that the only way to change the nationalised-industry culture in the police, and make them properly responsive to the public’s demands, is to introduce competition and privatization.


What the Victorians could teach today’s social workers about helping today’s British problem families

Eric Pickles’s observation on Sunday that the welfare state’s ‘problem families’ were ‘fluent in social work’ exposed the damage that many social workers do by teaching their clients how to play the system.

He confirmed the idea many of us have about social workers — that they see their main duty as helping the feckless milk the welfare state for every penny, rather than weaning them off dependency.
Eric Pickles has exposed the widespread abuse of the social services and is right to say problem families need to take more responsibility for their actions

Eric Pickles has exposed the widespread abuse of the social services and is right to say problem families need to take more responsibility for their actions

It seems hard to imagine now, but it is not so long ago that social work was a noble calling and its practitioners were widely respected and admired for the role they played in the lives of the poor.

The Victorians who followed this vocation, in an age before the welfare state had begun corrupting society, would have been profoundly shocked by the present state of their profession.

In mid-19th century Britain, poverty of a depth incomprehensible to us existed in a country that was the richest in the world.

Ghettoes of people lived on the edge of starvation in squalid rooms without sanitation rather than submit themselves to the workhouse.

Industrialisation had tempted many of the country’s agricultural population to migrate to towns in search of higher wages.

When there was plenty of work they could live tolerably. When demand fell and they lost their jobs, they were on their own.

In the countryside, a more structured society ensured the poor usually had work — whether on the land, at a time when agriculture was labour-intensive, or weaving on hand looms in their cottages — and the gentry cared for them when they fell on hard times.
Boys from the Barnardo’s homes: It seems hard to imagine now, but it is not so long ago that social work was a noble calling

Boys from the Barnardo’s homes: It seems hard to imagine now, but it is not so long ago that social work was a noble calling

But in the most deprived areas of cities, the middle classes had moved out, not wishing to be outnumbered by the poor, and the traditional support systems had ceased to exist.

As a result, middle-class reformers — some of them evangelists, others motivated by social conscience rather than religion — began missionary work among the poor.

Their intention was not to trap people in dependence upon charity, but to help them to support themselves — however unpromising their circumstances.

The unofficial ‘regulator’ of the private charities helping the poor was the Charity Organisation Society. When families came to ask for help, it sent people to talk to them and to seek to understand their circumstances before offering assistance.

While researching a book on mid-Victorian society, I discovered numerous examples of the distinctions that were drawn between the deserving and the undeserving poor.

In the early 1870s, for example, a widow asked for money to buy a pair of boots for her ten-year-old son, so he could go out to work and support the family.

After investigations by the social worker, it was discovered that the widow was a denizen of her local pub in the East End of London.

She was told that if she wanted her son to have boots, she should stop drinking and save up to buy them.

Charitable grants were often given to abstemious men to buy tools so they could pursue a trade and become independent.

One of the Victorians’ guiding principles was laborare est orare — to work is to pray.

Above all, highly motivated men and women who undertook social work set out to befriend the poor.

They did not see them, in the Soviet-style language of modern social work, as clients.

That word implies an unequal relationship. Victorian social workers felt it was their duty to approach the poor as friends and to do what a friend would do — guide them away from charity and towards self-reliance.

One of the greatest social workers of the late 19th century was Octavia Hill.  In the 1850s her mother ran a co-operative in Holborn, London, where women who would otherwise be in the workhouse, or in brothels, made toys.

Octavia, then a teenager, helped out, and became intimately acquainted with the hard and often squalid lives the women endured.  Mrs Hill would invite the women to her house one evening a week for a sewing circle. This had the practical benefit of teaching them to make and repair clothes, to ensure they and their children were dressed respectably.

However, it also set them an example. The Hills were not rich, but they lived in domestic order. Mrs Hill would talk to her sewing circle about the benefits of hygiene, the value of thrift and the importance of living life honestly and prudently.

Her close contact with the poor was used to promote improvement and self-reliance, not to teach them how they might lead a life of dependency.

Later, Octavia Hill would persuade the art historian and social reformer John Ruskin to use part of his inheritance to buy three houses in Marylebone — then a deprived part of London — which she renovated and let at a low rent to poor families rescued from squalor.

Octavia put the tenants in charge of cleaning and maintaining the properties, and found they would thrive on responsibility.

She ensured they paid their rents by encouraging saving for times when work was scarce.

She would help find work for those who, despite their best efforts, could not find it themselves — even if it meant employing them herself on her ever-expanding estate of properties.

She continued her mother’s principle of not merely superintending her tenants, but befriending them.

She took a close interest in their personal development, ensuring the children had a playground to take exercise in, arranging singing classes for them and taking them on excursions. As a result they grew up with a glimpse of civilisation, and a sense of the possibility of their improvement.

Other philanthropists dealt with different aspects of social breakdown by similar means.

Charles Dickens, in the late 1840s, persuaded the richest woman in Britain, Angela Burdett-Coutts, to fund a home for fallen women at Shepherd’s Bush, where, again, they were shown examples of self-reliance and respectability.

Some women relapsed: but others, having shown they could learn basic skills of housekeeping, were rewarded by having places found for them in service in the colonies, with their passage paid for.

Again, the purpose of charitable help was not to entrap, but to liberate.

Thomas Barnardo took orphaned boys into his refuge in Stepney in the early 1870s and taught them to make brushes, to chop and sell firewood or to shine shoes for a living.

Girls, many of whom would have become child prostitutes, were admitted to his ‘village’ of cottages in Essex, where they learned the skills required to go into domestic service.

Barnardo had fallen foul of the Charity Organisation Society when, new to London in the 1860s, he opened a soup kitchen in the East End. The COS complained this was an indiscriminate form of charity, and people would take free soup and spend their money on drink instead.

That, too, demonstrates the Victorian determination to ensure only the most deserving benefited from charity: not just to see that precious funds were spent where they could do the most good, but to deter spongers from embedding themselves in a life of idleness that would, all too easily, lapse into vice or crime.

The modern welfare state (which costs us a staggering £205 billion a year) has lost sight of these values — values which, in the end, enrich society by maximising the numbers of those who contribute to it.

It is hard to imagine a modern social worker lecturing the poor on the benefits of thrift, cleanliness, education or self-respect: but then, as the welfare state will provide all the feckless need, perhaps they think there is no point their doing so.



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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