Elderly patients ‘deprived of food and drink so they die quicker and free up bed space’
Hospitals may be withholding food and drink from elderly patients so they die quicker to cut costs and save on bad spaces, leading doctors have warned.
Thousands of terminally ill people are placed on a ‘care pathway’ every year to hasten the ends of their lives.
But in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, six doctors who specialise in elderly care said hospitals across the UK could be using the controversial practice to ease the pressure on resources.
The Liverpool Care Pathway, which got its name as it was developed at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in the 1990s, withholds fluids and drugs in a patient’s final days and is used with 29 per cent of hospital patients at the end of their lives. The practise is backed by the Department of Health.
But the six experts told the Daily Telegraph that in the elderly, natural death was more often free of pain and distress.
The group warned that not all doctors were acquiring the correct consent from patients and are failing to ask about what they wanted while they were still able to decide.
The doctors say that this has led to an increase in patients carrying a card stating that they do not want this ‘pathway’ treatment in the last days of their lives.
One of the letter’s signatories, Dr Gillian Craig, a retired geriatrician and former vice-chairman of the Medical Ethics Alliance, told the newspaper: ‘If you are cynical about it, as I am, you can see it as a cost-cutting measure, if you don’t want your beds to be filled with old people.’
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘People coming to the end of their lives should have a right to high quality, compassionate and dignified care.
‘The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) is not about saving money. It is an established and respected tool that is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) and has overwhelming support from clinicians at home and abroad. ‘The decision to use the pathway should involve patients and family members, and a patient’s condition should be closely monitored.
‘If, as sometimes happens, a patient improves, they are taken off the LCP and given whatever treatments best suit their new needs.
‘To ensure the LCP is used properly, it is important that staff receive the appropriate training and support.’
Eleven medics suspended after ‘ignoring’ patient who collapsed and died on hospital door step
Some action at last!
Eleven medics have been suspended from a hospital after a man collapsed outside the building and died.
The man had been admitted earlier and was being treated by doctors inside the hospital but had decided to take some fresh air outside the entrance to A&E at Walsall Manor Hospital, West Midlands, when he keeled over. As he lay on the ground passers-by were seen to take mobile phone photographs and video, some of them laughing.
It is alleged that staff, including nurses, porters and paramedics, initially ignored the patient’s plight.
The man, who is said to be middle-aged and from the local area, had arrived at the hospital suffering from chest pains.
An eye-witness said: ‘The man just dropped dead outside the hospital and nobody seemed to know what to do to help him.’ ‘I was outraged when members of the public actually started filming him, and taking photos on their mobile phones as they walked by and laughed. ‘It really makes you wonder what kind of people we are producing in this country these days.
‘But, worst of all, it seemed that none of the professionals on duty saw it as their problem to help this poor man. ‘I really do hope they get to the bottom of what happened there that day. ‘No-one deserves to die like that, not with such a lack of dignity and support.’
The tragedy happened on Saturday June 23, outside the Accident and Emergency department of Walsall Manor Hospital.
The medical staff, including nurses, porters and four paramedics from West Midlands Ambulance Service have now been suspended and a full investigation launched by Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.
Jayne Tunstall, Chief Operating Officer at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said: ‘I can confirm that an incident happened on the Walsall Manor Hospital site, on Saturday June 23, in which a patient died.
‘A full investigation has been launched by the Trust and is currently ongoing and a number of staff have been suspended as part IVES U of this investigation.’
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman added: ‘Four members of staff have been suspended and a full investigation has been launched by the Trust which is expected to be completed within the next two weeks. ‘The Trust will do everything necessary to maintain the high standards of care that our staff and the organisation provide to patients.’
Biased British police take Muslim woman’s side — regardless of evidence
She has heard them many times over the past few days, but speaking the words ‘racially aggravated assault’ still causes Cinnamon Heathcote-Drury’s entire body to shake and tears to stream down her face. Her name may have been cleared, but it is obvious the scars of being accused of a vicious hate crime will be more difficult to erase.
Last Thursday, a jury at Isleworth Crown Court in West London took just 15 minutes to acquit her of shoving a pregnant Muslim woman to the floor and calling her husband a terrorist during a row in Tesco. Despite Miss Heathcote-Drury’s relief at the verdict, her sense of bewilderment at what has happened remains her overwhelming emotion.
The investigation that led to the celebrated photographer – whose work hangs in the National Portrait Gallery – being tried was described in court as ‘a shambles’.
To her, it often felt like being trapped in a dystopian world in which she could not make her version of events heard, no matter how hard she tried. Although, in fact, she says she was the victim of assault, her own accusations were dismissed while her accusers’ claims were pursued by police.
‘I kept waiting for my story to be investigated, and it never was. Of course it was an enormous relief to be acquitted so quickly, but I find it absolutely terrifying that the case against me could have gone as far as it did. ‘The sense of powerlessness at what was happening was overwhelming.’
Even a relatively short time in her company reveals that if Miss Heathcote-Drury had committed the crimes it would have been remarkably out of character. Articulate and bohemian but resolutely middle-class, she grew up in Devon, the daughter of Trevor Heathcote-Drury, a hotelier and pilot, and his wife Roxanne, an artist.
After a stint running The Amber Trust, a charity which helps blind and partially sighted children to become involved in music, she became a photographer, making her name with a portrait of Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman.
It was on November 30 last year that she unwittingly became embroiled in the extraordinary fracas at a Tesco superstore in West London. She had been to see a friend and was on her way home to Kensington when she decided to pop into the store for some groceries at about 2pm.
She was waiting to pay at the checkout when she noticed a man with two small children also queuing. They were joined by a woman wearing a hijab and a long black tunic who began unloading an overflowing trolley, one item at a time.
She says: ‘I glanced over and thought, “This poor woman’s going to be there for hours.” Her husband was standing closest to me, so I said to him, “Will you help her?” ‘He said, “I’ve got the children.” I said, “Well, I can help her” and he replied, “What’s it to you?” I said, “This is what feminism’s about – women helping women.”
He said, “Oh, get lost.” I looked at the woman and said, “We live in a society in Britain where rights are equal – if you need help you can ask for it.”’
Very little was revealed in court about the couple, Abdelkrim Danyaoui and Mounia Hamoumi, aside from his stated occupation of ‘teacher’ and the fact that Mrs Hamoumi had been pregnant at the time of the incident.
Miss Heathcote-Drury says her initial impression was that the woman was elegantly dressed and appeared to have a French accent, while she assumed the man was of Mediterranean origin. She accepts that her offer of help caused offence, but denies her comments about British society were intended as a slight against the couple’s Islamic culture.
‘I wasn’t trying to be inflammatory, or condescending, or implying anything about their race or religion,’ she says. ‘I was trying to make sure the woman was OK because I don’t think women generally do enough in small ways to help one another.
The couple became infuriated. ‘The husband came up behind me and said in my ear, “You f*** off,” which I found very intimidating,’ Miss Heathcote-Drury says. ‘I wanted to get out of the shop as quickly as possible, but he approached me again.’
She called for a security guard and when one arrived, he began speaking to the man. Meanwhile, Miss Heathcote-Drury, who had paid for her shopping, was making her escape down the aisle when she claims she felt a sharp pain in her left shin and stumbled.
‘The woman was standing with her hand on her hip and smirking. She wanted to humiliate me. Then she hit me on the left cheek.’
According to Miss Heathcote-Drury, a struggle ensued in which she was kicked in the right shin and her hat was wrenched from her head before the woman lost her balance and fell.
The security guard called the police while the couple continued to put their shopping through the till.
‘I didn’t want the police to be called, but because I’d told the guard I’d been hit and kicked, I was informed Tesco were obliged to call them,’ she says. ‘I asked the guard to let me speak to the police to say I didn’t want to press charges – I just wanted to forget it as I hadn’t been badly hurt.
In shock and trembling, Miss Heathcote-Drury was led to a back room to wait until two police officers arrived. They took her name, date of birth and address, and then left. When they returned after speaking to the couple, she was told she was being arrested for racially aggravated assault.
‘I was absolutely astounded,’ she says. ‘It was just total disbelief. I had no idea what was going on, but I kept thinking, “When they watch the CCTV they’ll see what happened.”
‘I now know they had spoken to the couple before me and believed their story without even hearing mine. They marched me through the store and took me to Chelsea police station. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. They spent hours fingerprinting me, taking my details and my DNA, in a stark room. I kept asking if I could see a nurse, because my cheek was very sore, but I was told the nurse was busy.
‘I asked again and again when I could make my statement, but the officer kept saying, “You can’t make a statement, you’re under arrest.”
‘They asked me if I wanted to call anyone and I thought, “Who can I call?” I’m single and couldn’t afford a lawyer because a lot of my work is voluntary and unpaid. My liberty had been removed and I had no voice. No one was listening.’
A duty solicitor arrived and explained that the couple had claimed Miss Heathcote-Drury had used the words ‘suicide bomber’ and ‘terrorist’, called the man a ‘bad feminist’ and said they were probably on jobseekers’ allowance. She was then interviewed.
Finally, at 11.35pm, when she was informed the CPS had decided to release her pending further investigation, she was allowed to see a nurse. She then gave her statement before arriving home at 5.30am.
On December 17, three days before she was due to return to the police station, she says she received a call from one of the investigating officers asking her to make a statement about her assault claims. ‘I told him I’d made one already and he said he hadn’t seen it,’ she says.
She had also discovered, on returning to Tesco, that police had not yet spoken to the security guard, despite him offering to give a statement.
Three days later, her worst fears were realised when she was charged. ‘I was in shock,’ she says. ‘I was told the CPS had made the decision to charge me on December 16, without even knowing about my counter-allegation. I felt the police had no interest in my side at all. ‘They hadn’t talked to any witnesses apart from the couple and a cashier who hadn’t seen crucial parts of the incident. ‘I felt like they just wanted me as a convenient statistic to help them meet a target.’
Through a contact, she was able to enlist the services of a solicitor from Tuckers, England’s leading criminal defence practice.
They advised her to ask for her case to be heard at a crown court rather than a magistrates’ court, where she would have more opportunities to give her side of events.
Her trial took place over four days last week. Being questioned was an ordeal, but Miss Heathcote-Drury says she was glad the trial had arrived after months of waiting.
On the first day, her accusers gave their evidence against her. The security guard also told the court that he had heard Miss Heathcote-Drury say she did not want to press charges. However, he admitted he had not seen the tussle or how Mrs Hamoumi came to fall.
Another witness, the cashier, also gave evidence saying that he had not seen the crucial incident but had heard the man telling Miss Heathcote-Drury to ‘f*** off’.
In the end, CCTV did not show the incident, but the fact the acquittal was delivered so quickly was testament to the strength of her defence.
Her lawyer Miss Sarnjit Lal says: ‘We were astonished with the way the case was handled, the fact Miss Heathcote-Drury was charged and that it went to crown court. It has been a terrible ordeal for her and a total waste of public resources.’
Miss Heathcote-Drury says: ‘I find it very sad we live in a culture which seems to believe if we try to help someone, we’re asking for trouble.’
Comment by Peter Hitchens:
The CPS will put anyone on trial… except crooks
The main purpose of the Crown Prosecution Service is to save money by pretending that crime and disorder are not as bad as they really are.
That is why it is almost impossible to get it to prosecute anyone, unless you have clear, high-definition film of the crime actually being committed.
Burglary? Why bother? Here’s a crime number, if you can still get insurance in your postcode. Car theft? Happens all the time. Probably your fault. Assault? How about a caution? Drugs? Well, Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary, reckons that it isn’t news any more that he smoked dope. So why would we trouble ourselves over that?
In which case, why on earth did the CPS think it was worth spending heaps of our money on prosecuting Cinnamon Heathcote-Drury after a bizarre and faintly comical scuffle in Tesco, in which nobody was hurt?
Could it be because her accuser was a Muslim who alleged she was a ‘racist’?
But now that a jury has thrown out this ludicrous case after 15 minutes of deliberation (God bless them), will anyone in the CPS be disciplined?
Soft justice: British prisoners win right to keep tea-making facilities in their cells in case they fancy a brew during the night
A prisoner has won the right to a keep a thermos flask of hot tea overnight after the new Prisons and Probation Ombudsman said it was good for his health and that he deserved ‘decent treatment’.
Nigel Newcomen CBE, who was appointed the new Prisons and Probation Ombudsman by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke in September 2011, took up the unnamed prisoner’s case after hearing he had been denied access to hot drinks in his cell.
Mr Newman agreed that banning access to hot drinks was in breach of the rules on how prisoners should be held.
The National Offender Management Service has now accepted the recommendation and agreed that prisoners should be provided with tea-making facilities at night if they ask for them.
Writing in prison’s magazine Inside Time this week, Mr Newcomen said he was ‘proud’ to take on the role as ombudsman, which was set up in 1994 to provide an ‘independent adjudicator of prisoner complaints’.
Explaining his reasoning for taking on prisoner A’s case Mr Newcomen said: ‘He complained that he was not able to make a hot drink when he was locked up overnight (for 12 to 15 hours depending on the day of the week).
‘In my view, both health and decent treatment required that prisoners should be able to make a hot drink when they are locked up for that long.
‘I was pleased that the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) accepted the recommendation – and the cost implications – that the prison should provide prisoners with vacuum flasks or in-cell kettles for this purpose.’
In another case detailed by Mr Newcomen in the Inside Time article he explained how he had tried to help a family visit a prisoner who was a long way from home.
Mr Newcomen said he battled to get increased petrol money for the prisoner’s family so they could visit him, but that this was turned down by the prison service.
He said: ‘There was a different outcome in the case of Mr B who complained that the Prison Service would not support a move to a prison closer to his family.
‘He said that it was very difficult for his wife and young children to visit him as they lived 250 miles away.
‘Mr B was a category A prisoner who was serving a life sentence for serious offences. He had, therefore, been allocated to a high security prison that specialised in certain offending behaviour programmes.
‘The financial help for Mr B’s family, through the assisted prison visits scheme, did not cover the cost of petrol for the trip. ‘The mileage rate had stayed the same since 2005 but petrol prices have risen by 60%.
‘The assisted visits scheme is not intended to cover all costs, but the value of the mileage allowance had fallen sharply, making it more difficult for families to visit.
‘I, therefore, recommended that the mileage rate be increased. Unusually, this recommendation was not accepted – because it would cost too much. ‘This may be a sign of the times.’
Speaking to The Telegraph about the proposals one prison source said: ‘It’s all very well to be a friend to the prisoner, but surely it’s hardly a human right to have a cup of tea at night. Prisoners aren’t meant to be in hotel rooms with room service. They are there to be punished.’
The British boy who was allowed to sit maths A-level papers TWENTY NINE times until he got enough marks to pass
A struggling teenager was allowed to take his maths A-level papers a staggering 29 times until he passed, it emerged today.
In a damning indictment of the resit culture, the student sat one paper for each of the six modules needed for the qualification. He then went on take an astonishing 23 resits, an exam board chief revealed.
Andrew Hall, chief executive of the exam board AQA, used the pupil as an extreme example of the retake culture surrounding A Levels, the Sunday Times reported. He backs plans by exam regulator Ofqual to limit retakes to just one per paper as part of a huge shake up of A-level exams.
Speaking at the Westminster Education Forum last week he said ‘resits have done serious damage’ to the credibility of exam system, and refereed to the AQA pupil who finally gained the qualification in 2010.
Universities have added pressure to the proposals, where growing numbers of departments are refusing to accept results of resits when offering places.
An analysis of last year’s A-level results by AQA, one of the three main boards in England, has shown resits have boosted grade inflation. Without the possibility of retakes, the proportion gaining A* or A grades would fall from 24.5 per cent to 19.6 per cent. Those scoring B or above would have slipped from 50.3 per cent to 42.4 per cent.
Ofqual’s proposals for new A-levels a tougher grading system and an end of january resits. The AS-level could be scrapped entirely, marking a return to the two-year A Level.
The new A-levels would be phased in subject by subject over four years, with traditional disciplines likely to be prioritised. By 2018, all old-style A-levels would be scrapped.