One in four hospitals breaking the law with poor care for elderly with some forgetting to give pain relief for days at a time
One in four hospitals and homes providing care for the elderly are breaking the law by putting patients at risk of harm, a report reveals today. The care watchdog has found the elderly are routinely being left in agony for up to five days at a time as staff are forgetting to give them pain relief.
There is also widespread evidence of dangerously-low staffing levels and of frail patients not being helped with the most basic tasks such as eating, drinking or getting dressed.
The Care Quality Commission warns that 131 hospitals (22 per cent) are failing to meet the standards required by law to ensure both the safety and basic care of patients.
And the situation is even worse for care homes where 3,357 (28 per cent) were found to be breaking the law.
This latest report is further evidence that patients, particularly the elderly, are being let down by the NHS and care system.
Three NHS trusts – Barking, Havering and Redbridge; United Lincolnshire; and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay – were put under investigation as patients were deemed to be in imminent danger.
Four care homes were also closed down by the CQC as they were judged unsafe.
Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘It is shocking that more than one in four locations inspected have failed to meet even essential standards of quality and safety.
‘We are reassured the CQC has taken action to address these failings; nevertheless, this presents a long overdue wakeup call for the Government.
Those locations in question must be brought up to standard as a matter of urgency.’
Michelle Mitchell, charity director of Age UK, said: ‘This report shows that thousands of vulnerable and frail older people are receiving unacceptable standards of social care.
‘It is unacceptable that over a quarter of the adult social care providers inspected were judged to have failed to meet all essential standards of quality and safety.’
She said the system had reached ‘breaking point’ and was ‘hitting the frailest, poorest and most vulnerable…people the hardest’.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘Many of these areas clearly need to be addressed not just by the trusts locally, but also by the Department of Health and the Government at a national level.’
Between June 2011 and this March, CQC inspectors visited 14,000 hospitals, care homes, dentist surgeries, and centres providing home-help for the elderly.
All were assessed to see if they were meeting the basic standards required under the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
They include ensuring drugs are properly administered, that patients are given help to eat, drink or go to the toilet and are not in danger of falling over.
Additionally the law requires having a safe number of staff on wards and care homes and making sure patients’ medical records are up to date.
Those found to be failing have been told to make urgent improvements by the CQC. If they don’t, the watchdog has the power to shut them down or take them to court.
In one North London nursing home, elderly residents were not given pain-relieving drugs for five days as staff had run out.
Managers at Hugh Myddelton House also admitted they regularly gave another patient painkillers three hours late because there weren’t enough staff.
The CQC has not named all of the hospitals and care homes found to be failing as many may well have improved since they were inspected. But it claims this report represents a snapshot of the standards of care in hospitals and care homes.
Inspectors also warned of staffing shortages on maternity wards. Some 15 per cent (21 hospitals) were found to have below average staffing levels.
Health minister Simon Burns said: ‘There is no excuse for delivering anything but the best care.
‘By exposing poor practice and shining a light on best practice we are determined to drive up standards for everyone.
‘Our modernisation plans for the NHS and social care are designed to lift care far above these minimum standards of safety and quality, establishing services which are among the very best in the world.’
British gun control
Where did these hundreds of seized weapons come from?
The deadly haul of guns collected from the streets of the West Midlands include an Uzi, AK47 and an exact replica of the handgun used by Saddam Hussain.
The myriad of over a hundred fierce firearms – some of which are modified or homemade – have been seized by, or been surrendered to, West Midland’s Police over the last 12 months.
The cache of weapons are now being contained within a secure unit at a secret location by the force and are being used to train firearms officers.
Pc Rob Pedley, a former firearms officer for 11 years, said: ‘We obtain the guns through a variety of sources, many are seized but some are surrendered and handed in through amnesty’s and via other means.
‘Some people have legitimately held licenses for rifles and decided to get rid of them – others we can perhaps connect to crimes or planned crimes.
‘But each gun can be dangerous when in the wrong hands and we need to continually remind people of that fact.
‘As a firearms officer, you have to very quickly assess situations and decide what the correct response is.
‘It’s very difficult to know whether a firearm someone is in possession of is genuine or an imitation, and it is even more difficult when think about the fact that it could be pitch black and the person holding that weapon could 50 yards or more away.’
The force said yesterday said that imitation guns, easily sought for just a few pounds from a variety of websites, can even be as dangerous as the real thing.
Unconventional British school which lets children call teachers by first name forced to consider uniform code as parents reject relaxed rules
Its free and easy ethos was once seen as the way forward in secondary education.
But nearly 40 years after Stantonbury Campus opened, parents now seem to be less than enthused about its ‘liberal’ approach to teaching.
The comprehensive school, which has no uniform and lets pupils call teachers by their first names, is facing a boycott from families who would prefer to send their children to traditional schools.
And in an effort to win them back, governors have decided to scrap the relaxed clothing policy and introduce a uniform from September.
The decision comes amid nationwide concern about the lack of discipline in today’s schools.
Once a successful school, Stantonbury was given a notice to improve from Ofsted last year amid concerns about underachievement and behaviour.
In a statement issued by governors, principal Chris Williams admitted parents were now sending their children elsewhere because of the lack of uniform.
He said: ‘Most primary and secondary children wear uniform for school and take pride in this – personal presentation is a part of education.
‘Heads of our partner primary schools tell us that parents are often concerned that the Campus does not have a uniform and that some choose to send their children to other secondary schools because of this.’
The school, in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, was dubbed a pioneer of the educational revolution when it opened its doors in 1974 with ‘relaxed’ rules.
But governors admit this is no longer what parents want following 500 responses to a consultation about whether to introduce a dress code for children aged 11 to 14. The uniform will consist of a white polo shirt and jumper, with new rules for older pupils banning short skirts and offensive logos. Pupils will also be banned from wearing anything that might be regarded as ‘party’ clothes.
The school, which has around 2,000 pupils, is split into four Halls which function independently as mini schools. In 2006 it was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted but was downgraded to ‘inadequate’ last year.
Big carbon credit rackets in Britain
A UK court has wound up a company it says misled private investors by comparing near worthless carbon credits to gold, the latest in a string of firms found to market poor quality offsets to the general public in a practice that financial regulators say has grown exponentially in the past 18 months.
At the High Court in London on Wednesday, the UK government was successful in its request to liquidate Tullett Brown, a firm it said made 1.6 million pounds by misleading customers into buying unregulated credits at almost four times what it paid for them.
Last month, another probe by the Insolvency Service prompted the High Court to shut down a web of companies that it says made 6.5 million pounds by mis-selling land and carbon credits and were linked by the name Manor Rose.
The business practice often involves cold-calling and misleading private investors into thinking they were buying U.N. carbon credits that can be used by governments and companies to meet legally-binding emission reduction targets.
In fact, the credits offered were not regulated by the U.N. and were unlikely to meet future price projections for U.N. credits that the sellers portrayed in glossy marketing brochures from banks such as Barclays.
No-one from Tullett Brown was willing to comment on the record, but a former employee denied portraying the credits as U.N.-issued units, but did admit some employees had no experience whatsoever in financial markets.
“It’s an unregulated market, so many people trading are themselves unregulated,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Despite lacking many powers to stop the firms from marketing voluntary credits, the UK Financial Services Authority is concerned about the rise in the practice.
“We suspect that many of the firms and individuals who were previously selling land are now selling carbon credits. The figures appear to support this,” said Jonathan Phelan, an official with the Financial Services Authority.
Having received no reports about firms selling carbon credits in 2010, 78 firms were brought to the FSA’s attention in 2011 and a further 38 in the first six months of the year, he said.
The Insolvency Service, which investigated Tullett Brown, said it couldn’t provide a figure on how much mis-selling of carbon units had cost investors, but it did say that 78 rogue companies that raked in over 28 million pounds from the public through selling different assets have been shut down in the past three years.
However, the full extent of losses is likely to be much bigger because many victims fail to report that they have been tricked.
“Many are high-earning retired professionals and don’t want to contact the authorities because they feel embarrassed,” said Joe Peacock of the Insolvency Service, who led the investigation into Tullett Brown.
Teenage brothers in line for damages after judge ruled British social workers had caused ‘havoc’ in their lives
British social workers are very hostile to prospective adopting parents because once the child is adopted it is out of their power. So they do their best to chase away people who want to adopt — unbelievable though that may seem. It has got so bad that the Prime Minister has told them off about it
Two boys who were left stuck in the state care system for more than 13 years won the right to compensation yesterday. A High Court judge ruled that the failures of social workers had caused ‘havoc’ in the lives of the brothers and had done them irreparable harm. One was moved between 96 foster parents and the other lived with 77 foster families – a total of 173 between them. Both suffered abuse.
Each is likely to claim damages of up to £100,000 from Lancashire County Council, whose social workers left them to float repeatedly from one foster home to another after they failed to secure the adoptions by new families that the brothers were supposed to have.
Mr Justice Peter Jackson said in his ruling that the way the boys’ lives were supervised ‘amounted in reality to permanently looked-after disruption’.
The brothers, known in court as A and S, now 16 and 14, were taken into care in 1998 when A was two and S six months old. Their parents had separated, their mother abandoned them, and their father committed suicide a month later.
Social workers tried to place them with an aunt, a single mother of six children, but the plan failed. In March 2001, more than three years after they were taken into care, the boys were given legal orders that freed them for adoption.
But social workers did not find new adoptive families. Instead, the boys were allowed to drift through the care system with no one responsible for them.
Mr Justice Jackson’s judgment at the High Court in Liverpool said: ‘The boys have had major placements, emergency placements, temporary placements, respite placements and respite for respite placements.’
The boys, the court found, were by 2008 ‘deeply distressed and disturbed and showed formidably challenging and sometimes violent behaviour’.
Their lawyer, Antonia Love of Farleys Solicitors, said: ‘This is one of the most shocking cases we have come across of children being failed by the care system.’
The judge called for a review to check whether others were similarly trapped in the care system.
Ministers want social workers to do more to get children adopted. Around 65,000 are in the care system, living in children’s homes or with foster parents, but only 3,000 were permanently adopted last year.
New rules will stop social workers using race rules to block mixed-race adoptions or to use other pretexts, for example that would-be adoptive parents smoke or are too old, to stop children winning new homes.
The Bank of Dave: How one man, struck by the plight of firms unable to get loans in his home town, came up with a unique solution
A comment on the frozen-with-fear British banking system
It is, if you like, a story of Dave and Goliath – one man’s attempt to take on the giant high-street banks he says are helping destroy towns such as Burnley in Lancashire. And, so far, Dave Fishwick is winning.
Dave is a self-made millionaire, the owner of a company that manufactures and sells minibuses, so it is fair to say he has no problems getting credit on his own behalf. But when banks started refusing to lend money to his customers, Dave knew he had a problem, too. Local firms could no longer buy his vehicles.
‘The lending dried up almost overnight,’ he says. ‘It was killing their businesses and damaging mine.’
So he took the most practical approach possible – and decided to go into the credit business himself.
The Bank of Dave was born. Today, hundreds of businessmen and women hold accounts at his modest town-centre shop, marking a return to the sort of old-fashioned, face-to-face banking that the big operators have mostly chosen to leave behind.
‘The banks were turning down committed people who needed investment,’ he says. ‘They were destroying this town. You mention Burnley down South and people just think of the riots in 2001.
‘That’s nonsense. Burnley’s going through a tough time, like most of the country. But there’s a lot of decent, hard-working people in this town and they’re the people I wanted to help.’
Rachel McClure was among them. She needed £7,500 to revamp the front of her flower shop, Garlands Florist, last year. The business was in profit and she had a good credit record, so expected that a loan would be a formality.
The clincher, surely, was that Rachel’s bank manager had spent a day working at the shop to see more of local business. The bank had issued a press release trumpeting its ‘caring’ initiative and printed pictures of the smiling manager holding a bouquet of flowers.
She was astonished, then, when her application was refused. Dave stepped in, got to know Rachel and her business and lent her the money. The new shop front is now finished, business has improved and Rachel has never missed a repayment.
Meanwhile, her old ‘caring’ bank has told her that any future loan inquiries should be directed to its head office ….. in Glasgow.
Dave is an energetic, straight-talking 41-year-old. Born into a poor but hardworking Burnley family, he left school at 16, making his first million in his 20s. He is passionate about his home town – and determined to prove that it is possible for a bank to be fair and still turn a profit.
When he lends money, he charges 8.9 per cent to borrowers with a good credit record and investors make five per cent on their savings. They are not the cheapest loan deals on the market but, unlike the big banks, Dave is at least lending, the rates allow him to give savers a good return and his profits go to charity.
At the Bank of Dave, which opened in September, only one borrower has defaulted so far. Savings are pouring in and there is a waiting list for investors. The bank is taking in about £25,000 a week and giving out about the same in loans. The £10,000 accrued in the first six months has been divided equally between five local charities.
Dave gets to know all his customers and gives them advice, just like bank managers used to do. ‘Banking is not rocket science,’ he says. ‘The banks have been ripping people off for years. They used to have a responsibility to serve their clients. Now they just serve themselves. It’s like a private club.
‘They gambled away billions of pounds of our money and we bailed them out with billions more. And they still pay themselves obscene bonuses and refuse to lend money to businesses fighting for their lives. It’s disgusting. When the banks lend, they turn £10 into £20 without doing anything. But if it goes wrong, they are bailed out by the taxpayer and the rest of us have to take the hit. How is that right?’
The Bank of England base rate – the interest rate that the Bank of England charges banks – has been 0.5 per cent since March 2009 yet small businesses can pay more than 25 per cent for loans, even more for unsecured ones and an eye-watering 3,000 per cent for ‘pay-day’ loans.
Meanwhile, savers, who always suffer when the base rate is low, are receiving as little as 0.05 per cent interest, with an estimated £100 billion sitting in accounts paying nothing at all.
Dave resolved never to lend money his bank didn’t have and to guarantee every penny of his customers’ deposits personally. He believed he could achieve his goal with ‘hard graft and a bucketful of common sense’.
He is not trying to compete with the big banks on large-scale finance but he does believe that there is a need for genuine community banks.
Burnley has some fine Victorian buildings and a few pockets of prosperity. But the atmosphere on the streets and in the cafes is gloomy. Many of its high-street outlets, including TJ Hughes, Miss Selfridge and HMV, have closed in recent years, and in March a proposed £40 million development was scrapped because of a lack of interest from retailers.
In the nearby village of Sabden, Keith and Christine Turner, an experienced caterer, run a cafe called Sanwitches, a name that nods at the ancient tales of sorcery on nearby Pendle Hill. They started the business after Keith was made redundant from his job in local government. At first it was a struggle. The couple needed more space and equipment. They asked their bank for a loan but were turned down. They went to the Bank of Dave and were lent £8,500.
But as well as the money, they were given advice on marketing and advertising their high-quality food. Dave took them out to local business parks where he encouraged them to offer office lunches and conference meals.
And when a large construction project began nearby, he suggested the couple take tea and bacon sandwiches to the builders to encourage them into the cafe. It worked.
‘We couldn’t have done it without the loan and Dave’s advice,’ says Keith. ‘It’s opened our eyes to what can be done. When the bank turned us down we didn’t know whether we would be able to carry on with the business.’
Although customers call the business the Bank of Dave, and although it offers banking services, Dave is not allowed to call it a bank. This is because he is still waiting for a bank licence, which can take years to obtain. Without it, he cannot use the word ‘deposits’ and can talk only about ‘achieving five per cent on savings’.
‘The bankers who gambled away billions of pounds of our money have got off scot-free, and yet I can be taken to court if I call my business a bank or use the word deposits,’ he says, exasperated.
Obtaining a bank licence is a numbingly complicated, time-consuming and expensive process. Only one has been granted in the UK in the past 100 years, to Metro Bank in 2010, which was backed by an American bank with more than $50million of assets.
The legal restriction explains the slightly eccentric sign above his premises that says ‘Bank on Dave!’, a slogan rather than a name. The business’s official name is on the window: Burnley Savings and Loans. So is a slogan referring to the banks of yesteryear: ‘Captain Mainwaring old-fashioned values.’ (Mainwaring, from Dad’s Army, was a notably cautious bank manager in the fictional town of Walmington-on-Sea.)
‘Our customers couldn’t care less what we are called,’ says Dave. ‘They know they are getting a fair deal. Our computer doesn’t say no.’
Thank goodness for the First Amendment
We just returned from Britain, where there is chilling discussion about imposing more regulation on the press. The occasion is a probe into reporters’ news practices and relationships between particular politicians and the media.
The entire series of events demonstrates why our First Amendment guarantee of press freedom is so important.
The probe resulted from the revelation of unethical and illegal practices by a single British tabloid, The News of the World. Given the limited scope of the scandal, the investigation should be one of limited public interest.
But the News of the World was one of many news outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch, so anti-Murdoch politicians and rival media are seizing the opportunity to escalate their long-standing vendetta against him. These politicians and rival media are disproportionately on the left side of the political spectrum, and they find Murdoch distasteful because several of his leading outlets (e.g., the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, New York Post) have conservative editorial policies. (Those outlets are untouched by the scandal.) Moreover, the British investigation has focused on relationships between reporters and two figures much-loathed by the Left: Prime Minister David Cameron and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.