Husband and daughter forced to give dying mother CPR as lone paramedic stood by ‘because she couldn’t manage by herself’
A husband was forced to give his dying wife CPR because a lone paramedic sent to the scene could not manage on her own, it was claimed today.
Alfred Pearce, 65, and his daughter Tracey, 40, battled in vain to save Beryl Pearce after being asked by the first responder to help while she unpacked her equipment and called for back-up.
The pair say they had to take it in turns giving mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions in a desperate eight-minute bid to revive their loved one.
A back-up ambulance eventually arrived 20 minutes later, but Mrs Pearce could not be saved and died of heart failure at the scene.
Retired builder Mr Pearce says his family has been deeply scarred by the horrific events and wants assurances no other families will have to suffer due to staff shortages.
He said: ‘I want things to change so another family doesn’t have to go through this. The paramedics were all very nice but my daughter and I were so upset and stressed by what happened.
‘My daughter says she just can’t shake off the image of my wife – her own mother – lying there and us getting so distressed trying to save her.’ He added: ‘I have to be strong for my family but I still suffer flashbacks of me fighting to keep her alive on the living room floor. ‘We should not have had to do that. They should have had enough staff to take over. When you call 999 that is what you expect.’
Mrs Pearce, 64, had suffered breathing problems at the couple’s home in Basildon, Essex. Her husband dialled 999 immediately, but was shocked when a female responder arrived in an ambulance alone.
He said: ‘When the paramedic first arrived, she wanted to move my wife into the ambulance to get some fluids into her. But just as we tried to move her from the hallway my wife collapsed and I knew it was serious.
‘We couldn’t get her to the ambulance so we moved her in the living room so there was space for all the portable ambulance equipment.
‘Then the paramedic asked my daughter and I to give Beryl CPR while she got her equipment ready. My daughter started the CPR while I held my wife’s head so she didn’t swallow her tongue. ‘The paramedic was talking us through what to do and just kept saying “sorry about this”.
‘I felt sorry for her as she had tears in her eyes and she was shouting “code red” into her radio but no back up was coming. After a while, my daughter got so tired and upset I had to take over. ‘I was thinking “Am I doing this right? I might not be pushing hard enough as I’d never done it before”.
‘Eventually two more ambulance men arrived and took over. It was probably only about eight minutes but it felt like hours.’
Mr Pearce had been married to his childhood sweetheart for 44 years after the pair met for the first time aged 15. His wife had suffered from a long history of medical problems including heart failures, diabetes and asthma and was known to staff at nearby Basildon Hospital.
Mr Pearce is now calling for a drastic overhaul of NHS policy to stop paramedics travelling alone to call-outs. The father-of-four and grandfather-of-ten added: ‘I’m not saying that if they had sent two people the first time the outcome would have been different but at least they both would have been able to work on her.
‘I’ve no qualms with the NHS as Beryl has been brought back from the dead twice by amazing work from doctors and nurses. It’s just upsetting to know my last memories of my wife are so traumatic.’
A spokesperson for the East of England Ambulance Service said: ‘It is normal practice for all ambulance services to dispatch highly skilled solo responders if they are closest to assess the patient and get immediate life support to them more quickly while another crew is sent for hospital transport and support.
‘It is absolutely not true that a clinician cannot administer CPR on their own. The very reason why they are dispatched on their own is in order to administer CPR and other basic life-support to the patient in the quickest possible time as using solo responders means getting a trained clinician with full equipment by a patient’s side quicker.
‘There may however be times when it is in the patient’s best interests for a paramedic to utilise those on scene to help with basic life support under their instruction while, for example, they are unpacking equipment or calling for assistance. Although this reason may not have been communicated to Mr Pearce.
‘This of course does not mean they are not capable of carrying out all these tasks, simply that it makes sense to use support under careful instruction and guidance if it is available, although our staff would always respect someone’s decision not to get involved.’
‘Our thoughts are with Mr Pearce and his family. We would be happy to discuss this further with him if he would like to contact us.’
No-one was available at the service today to explain why the paramedic was unable to give CPR on her own.
Mrs Pearce collapsed after the couple had returned from an over-60s Diamond Jubilee Party at around 6pm on Sunday, June 3
Three London hospitals go broke
Primarily because of huge interest bills forced on them by the previous Labor government
An NHS hospital trust losing £1m a week has been put into administration to try and stop it collapsing, the Department of Health said today. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has appointed a trust special administrator to try and turn around the struggling South London Healthcare NHS Trust.
Mr Lansley said: ‘I have decided it is in the interests of the health service and, in particular, of the patients the Trust serves.’ The Trust has been put on an ‘unsustainable providers regime’ and the government has appointed Matthew Kershaw with the task of putting it back on a ‘viable footing.’
Mr Kershaw currently works as the national director for provider delivery at the Department of Health. He will take over the Trust’s board on Monday July 16 and recommend measures to Mr Lansley at the start of next year.
The Trust was only created in 2009 after the merger of three hospitals – the Princess Royal in Orpington, Queen Mary’s in Sidcup and the Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich.
Yet it has gone £150million in the red over the past three years largely because of crippling Private Finance Initiative deals agreed by the last Labour government. The two PFI deals are now costing £61million a year in interest.
Last year’s deficit, paid off by money from elsewhere in the NHS budget, could have paid for 1,200 nurses or 200 hip replacements a week.
The Health Secretary stepped in after draft financial plans showed the trust would have a deficit of between £30million and £75million a year for the next five years, despite efforts to tackle the situation.
Today he said: ‘Past efforts have not succeeded in putting the South London Healthcare Trust on a sustainable path. ‘This will be a big challenge and my key objective for all NHS Trusts is to ensure they deliver high-quality services to patients that are clinically and financially sustainable for the long term.
A spokesman for the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘This announcement is an unprecedented step by the Secretary of State and moves the NHS into unchartered waters. ‘It presents a worrying state of affairs for both patients and staff at the Trust, who will be undoubtedly concerned by today’s decision.
‘We know that the Trust has been in financial difficulties for some time. However, despite this, frontline staff have continued to do their best for patients, providing a high level of care.’
Up to half of British secondary school teachers lack degrees in their specialist subjects
I actually agree with the views expressed below but cannot quite leave the subject without noting that I myself did for two years successfully teach Geography to final-year High school students although my highest qualification in that subject was a junior school pass! But I was and am rather enthusiastic about geography so maybe that was the important factor. My students got good results
Up to half of secondary teachers lack degrees in their specialist subjects, according to figures released yesterday.
Across most of the curriculum, the number of teachers with a relevant post A-level qualification has declined over the past year, falling especially sharply in languages and physics.
More than 50 per cent of teachers in religious education, Spanish and drama did not study the subjects at university or teaching college. In physics, geography and German, a third have no qualification higher than an A-level. In maths, chemistry, history and French, the figure is a quarter while in English and PE it is a fifth.
Professor John Howson, managing director of research firm DataforEducation.info, called for a tightening of the rules to restrict schools’ use of non-specialist teachers. ‘I don’t like parents being hoodwinked into believing their children’s teachers are experts in their subjects,’ he said.
Figures from the Department for Education show that 55.3 per cent of teachers of religious education – a statutory subject – are not specialists. Meanwhile 33.7 per cent are attempting to teach physics, and 27.1 per cent maths, with no qualification in the subjects beyond A-level.
Schools tend to put non-specialist staff in front of middle or lower ability children, even though experts say that all pupils require specialist teaching.
Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said that schools were still struggling to recruit good staff to teach physics, maths and foreign languages. ‘Some of the people without degrees teaching these subjects may have been drawn in because of these shortages,’ Prof Smithers said. He said it was ‘essential’ that teachers had expertise in their subject.
Pupils taught by staff that lack sufficient knowledge risked being turned off, he suggested. ‘The absolute essential thing is that a teacher has a good understanding of the subject at the level they are teaching it,’ he said. ‘Our best indicator of that is holding a degree or post-A-level qualification.’
Prof Smithers added: ‘If you have a biologist teaching physics, even at age 11, it may well be that their enthusiasm for physics isn’t there, and the child isn’t excited by it and moves in another direction. ‘It’s the understanding and enthusiasm that’s important.’
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: ‘If we want an education system that ranks with the best in the world, we have to attract outstanding people into the profession, and give them excellent training – at the start of – and throughout – their careers.
‘The government is overhauling teacher training and offering better financial bursaries to top science, maths and languages graduates to encourage them to become teachers,’ she said.
The human right to claim welfare payments: British jobless could sue for better payments under controversial plan
Human rights law will be extended to include the right to claim benefits and enjoy a comfortable standard of living courtesy of the taxpayer under plans unveiled last night.
A Government panel of experts is considering whether Labour’s Human Rights Act – which is already hugely controversial – should be extended to include so-called ‘socio-economic rights’.
This would allow the jobless to take the Government to court if ministers did not provide a minimum standard of living.
Earlier this week, a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggested a family of four needed an income of almost £37,000 to have a satisfactory lifestyle.
The ‘Commission on a Bill of Rights’ was set up by David Cameron to end the rampant abuse of human rights laws.
Originally, the Prime Minister had pledged to scrap Labour’s Act and replace it with a UK Bill of Rights, which would stop the system being abused by criminals and those who refuse to work.
But, after being forced into a coalition with the Liberal Democrats he had to downgrade his pledge. Instead, he established the commission to decide the best way forward. Yesterday, despite deliberating for 15 months, the panel said it had not decided whether to recommend any change to the Act.
But it said that, if it did decide to opt for a Bill of Rights, it wanted to consider suggestions from the public and pro-human rights groups on whether to add on yet more ‘human rights’ which must be respected by Parliament and the courts.
Under a section headed ‘Additional Rights?’, it suggests ‘a right to equality’; a ‘right to administrative justice’, which would build on the existing ‘right to a fair trial’; ‘rights for victims’; ‘children’s rights’; ‘socio-economic rights’; and ‘environmental rights’. The last two are likely to be the most contentious.
Under ‘socio-economic rights’, it says: ‘Such rights, which are found in a number of bills of rights in other countries, can include rights to adequate healthcare and housing, a right to education, a right to a minimum standard of living, and a range of other social security entitlements.’
On benefits, the panel suggest copying wording from the South African Constitution.
This promises a right to ‘social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance’.
On the environment, the panel suggests that everyone should have the right to live in a world that ‘is not harmful to their health or well-being’ where there is ‘secure ecologically sustainable development and the use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development’.
Critics fear this could lead to all building projects being automatically challenged under human rights law – creating a boon for lawyers but stifling economic growth.
MPs said they were hugely disappointed with the report, which also suggests the courts having the power to strike down laws made by Parliament. Currently, judges can rule that a law is incompatible with the Human Rights Act, but must leave it to the politicians to decide what to do next.
Tory MP Dominic Raab said: ‘The Commission risks being hijacked by the human rights lobby. It is supposed to be looking at how to scale back the rights inflation and compensation culture that has undermined law enforcement, democratic accountability and personal responsibility.
‘Instead, it has churned out proposals for even more human rights. That would give judges enormous power to set social policy without proper democratic accountability, and cost the taxpayer a fortune.’
Mr Cameron voiced his frustration in May at slow progress on his plans to scrap the Human Rights Act.
He blamed delays on the compromises made necessary by being in a coalition, but said he remained determined to press ahead with the change.
Sir Leigh Lewis – chairman of the panel, which will make its final recommendations later this year – said: ‘I am pleased that the Commission has published this second Consultation Paper. We want to hear from as many individuals and interested parties as possible.’
‘Being allowed to wear a crucifix at work is a vital freedom’: British PM backs law giving right to display religious symbols
David Cameron has promised to change the law if necessary to allow Christians to wear crosses at work.
The Prime Minister told MPs yesterday that the Government would back the right to display discreetly a symbol of faith in the workplace, despite legal rulings to the contrary.
He said he supported Nadia Eweida, who is fighting a case at the European Court of Human Rights after being barred from wearing a cross by British Airways.
Miss Eweida, 61, a Pentecostal Christian of Twickenham, south-west London, was sent home after refusing to remove or hide a necklace with a cross.
An employment tribunal ruled she had not suffered religious discrimination, but the airline changed its uniform policy after the case to allow all religious symbols, including crosses. Miss Eweida has pursued the case, however, to try to establish in law the rights of other religious people.
She and Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was barred from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after refusing to hide the cross she wore on a necklace, claim they were discriminated against by their employers.
The Government is opposing their appeal.
In the Commons yesterday, former shadow home secretary David Davis described Miss Eweida’s treatment as a ‘disgraceful piece of political correctness’.
He said he was surprised Government lawyers were resisting her appeal, telling Mr Cameron he could not believe it would support religious suppression in the workplace. The Prime Minister told MPs he fully supported the right to wear religious symbols at work. He said: ‘I think it is an absolutely vital freedom.’
Mr Cameron insisted the Government would change the law if necessary to make sure employees can wear religious symbols at work.
‘What we will do is that if it turns out that the law has the intention of banning the display of religious symbols in the workplace, as has come out in this case, then we will change the law and make clear that people can wear religious symbols at work,’ he said.
The women’s cases will be held in Strasbourg in early September.
Miss Eweida said: ‘Of course, it is excellent news that the Prime Minister says he will change the law, but why doesn’t he get on with it? ‘Up till now the Home Office has said it would be too cumbersome for employers to have to look after all their employees’ religious requirements.
‘If Mr Cameron means what he says about overruling them, then he should not wait for the European court to decide but change the law now.’
Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable said: ‘As her local MP, I’ve supported Nadia’s right to wear a cross throughout her campaign. ‘I wrote to the Home Secretary 18 months ago urging her change the law.
‘So I am delighted by the Prime Minister’s announcement that the law will be changed to allow people of all religious faiths to be able to wear symbols of their religion.’