NHS face £2m compensation bill after top orthopaedic surgeon ‘botched more than 100 ops’
Another “overseas-trained” doctor by the sound of it
A surgeon is continuing to work despite complaints over ‘botched’ operations which could cost the NHS at least £2million in compensation.
Health chiefs have already paid out more than £1million to settle 13 claims against consultant orthopaedic surgeon Manjit Bhamra at his former hospital.
Now 64 new complaints have been made and another 26 are set to follow.
Despite the alarming number of cases, the surgeon is free to carry on working for the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and is not the subject of any disciplinary proceedings by the General Medical Council.
The specialist law firm handling most of the claims said it was ‘concerning’ that there are so many complaints involving a single surgeon.
Many of the claims from Mr Bhamra’s patients relate to hip, knee, elbow and shoulder operations carried out from 2005 to 2007 when he was working at Rotherham Hospital.
However, the latest batch of complaints being investigated by health chiefs include a small number of patients who allegedly suffered problems more recently after treatment at Pinderfields General Hospital in Wakefield and Goole Hospital in Lincolnshire.
Wayne Pickering, 60, says he came round from a hip operation to be told by Mr Bhamra he had fractured his pelvis and damaged the sciatic nerve during surgery.
He was left in pain and forced to give up work, and it took more than three years for corrective surgery to be carried out.
One man says he was forced to sleep in a chair because he was unable to lie down due to extreme pain, a patient in her 50s says she was left with one leg longer than the other, while a 23-year-old was allegedly given the wrong hip implant and left disabled for life.
Mr Bhamra, 55, has reportedly been referred to the GMC twice and cleared to continue working.
Rotherham Hospital has previously confirmed it has settled 13 claims, admitting liability in six cases, and agreed payouts ranging from £1,750 to £500,000 and totalling £1,058,000.
But in response to a freedom of information request, the hospital has admitted 64 more claims have been received and another 26 would be served under a ‘protocol’ agreed with solicitors. These are in the early stages of the legal process and are currently being investigated.
A Rotherham Hospital spokesman said: ‘While we cannot comment on individual cases, we are supporting the process to ensure that any cases where compensation should be paid are identified as quickly as possible. ‘At this stage, we are unclear how many of the claims received will result in compensation being paid.’
All but two of the current claims are being handled by solicitors Irwin Mitchell.
Medical specialist Tim Annett said: ‘We are naturally very concerned that we are currently investigating 88 cases involving the same surgeon. He said it was ‘unusual’ to have so many allegations of mistakes and problems involving one surgeon. He added it was impossible to estimate the final compensation bill.
The new claims mostly relate to hip replacement and shoulder surgery. Lawyers said some patients have been left with permanent disabilities and forced to quit work.
Since 2008 the orthopaedic surgeon has worked for the Mid Yorkshire trust, which covers Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury Hospitals. He retains a full licence to practise.
Andrew Jackson, Mid Yorkshire’s associate medical director, said: ‘All medical staff are subject to a robust recruitment process and we monitor the practice of all our surgeons using a range of measures. We currently have no cause for concern about any aspect of Mr Bhamra’s practice.’
Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust said that Mr Bhamra was not available for comment.
Daughter’s fury as her war veteran father, 87, is forced to wait for 20 hours in A&E with a BROKEN BACK
A hero war veteran was left in agony with a broken back after being kept waiting for almost 20 hours in A&E, his daughter claims. Yvonne Ingley says that despite her father Bill Smith screaming in pain, staff at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital gave the 87-year-old no treatment at all for three hours.
The father-of-eight, who served as a paratrooper during the Second World War, had suffered a fractured vertebrae in a fall at his home in Staffordshire on July 10th.
He was discovered by his 63-year-old daughter who has slammed the hospital’s treatment of her father. She said: ‘My dad was in agony, he was screaming out in pain. We got to hospital at about 1.30am and he was given no pain relief until about 4am.
‘My dad had a broken back, usually the older generation don’t like to fuss about pain and he is a former paratrooper, but he was genuinely in agony. ‘During all this time my father was left in the A&E waiting area, they decided to send him to the Hillfield Care Home in Stretton but he was not taken there until about 7pm. ‘The care home said it could not take him because of his fractured spine. ‘My dad then had to be taken back to hospital and re-admitted.’
The 63-year-old added that despite the long wait in A&E, she did not blame medical staff at the Burton Hospital for her father’s treatment. She said: ‘I had no complaint with the doctors and nurses but it’s obvious someone somewhere is not organising things properly.’
The elderly war veteran waited until 11am – nine-and-a-half hours after being admitted – to be assessed by a physiotherapist.
And finally, almost twelve hours later, she was told her father would be taken to a care home in Stretton, Staffordshire to recover.
The ordeal was not over there, however, as the 87-year-old was taken back to the hospital after a transport mix-up.
An ambulance carrying her dad arrived at the care home only to be told they couldn’t take him because he wasn’t mobile.
She said when she heard her dad had gone back to hospital she rushed down there only to discover he had been put to the back of the waiting list.
His daughter claims that the pensioner suffered greatly because of his lengthy wait.
Ms Ingley also believes that as well as the wait he endured in the A&E department he could have been laying undiscovered for at least an hour before she called round to his house to check on him. She said: ‘He was distressed because he was in pain and my sisters and I were distressed to see him in that state.’
Helen Ashley, Chief Executive of Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘We are aware of the concerns of Mr Smith’s family and we can confirm that Mr Smith did attend the Trust’s A & E Department.
‘However, he was transferred in a timely manner to the Clinical Decisions Unit (CDU). ‘A CDU is a Consultant led bedded unit (mini ward) where patients are cared for while they are awaiting results of clinical investigations.
‘This is a recognised model of care for patients who are waiting for the appropriate decision to be made on whether they are admitted or discharged into community based care or back home.’
UK immigration laws spark Pakistan wedding boom
New British immigration laws have unleashed a stampede to wed and a frenzy of English lessons for Pakistanis desperate to migrate as new restrictions come into effect.
The boom was particularly marked in Mirpur, where Islamabad estimates 200,000 of Britain’s 1.2 million Pakistanis have their family origins.
Almost all the town’s 403,000 residents have relatives in the former colonial power, after a huge surge of migration from the area in the 1960s when a major dam was built, costing thousands of farmers their livelihoods.
At the time Britain needed more workers for its factories in the industrial cities of central and northern England, and granted immigration permits to many of them and their families.
Now with immigration an increasingly controversial issue in Britain, Mirpuris rushed to secure residency rights before the door was pushed tighter.
Wedding planners were rushed off their feet, English teachers overwhelmed and immigration consultants buried under mounds of paperwork as brides and grooms queued to file immigration papers by July 6, the last working day before the deadline.
Faisal Mehmood, a self-styled immigration consultant, said business was several times higher than the six to eight cases he normally processes a week.
“I consulted on and helped fill in immigration papers for 53 couples in the first week of July,” he told AFP in his office in Mirpur, the wealthiest town in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, 83 kilometres (50 miles) east of Islamabad.
From July 9, new restrictions made it impossible for anyone who earns less than £18,600 ($29,000) a year to move a foreign spouse to Britain, or less than £22,400 if that spouse has a child.
To acquire British nationality, foreign spouses now have to wait five rather than two years to test whether a relationship is genuine, must be proficient in English and once in Britain, pass a Life in the UK test.
For Britons of Pakistani descent, April is by tradition the peak month for holidays and weddings in their parents’ homeland, before the summer heat becomes unbearable for those accustomed to northern climes.
But wedding planners say they saw record business from Britons in June and the first week of July, with nuptials up 20 percent in Mirpur so far this year.
Arshad Hussein Shah, the manager of eight marriage halls, said his company organised weddings for 15 Britons from June 1 to July 6.
“There was a sudden surge because the UK government changed the immigration laws for spouses and everybody rushed to marry and file papers before the deadline,” he said.
In Islamabad, the British High Commission said there had been a “significant increase” in the number of applications to join a spouse and live permanently in Britain ahead of the new rules coming into force.
The surge has caused delays in processing applications, the commission said, with some taking up to six months to be resolved.
Fourteen British government hospital groups broke the law on abortion by faking consent forms
Doctors carrying out abortions in hospitals have been routinely breaking the law by faking consent forms. The Care Quality Commission found 14 NHS trusts were letting medics sign off documents without knowing anything about the women terminating their pregnancies.
Although such practice is illegal, the watchdog insists patients were not put in any danger.
By law, a woman wanting an abortion must fill out a consent form which has to include the signatures of two doctors.
They do not need to have seen her but must have a thorough understanding of her circumstances and the reasons for ending the pregnancy.
But the CQC said some doctors did not realise it was illegal to ‘pre-sign’ batches of forms, which is done in an attempt to save time and minimise stress for patients waiting for signatures.
Ministers ordered the watchdog to inspect 250 abortion clinics, run by both the NHS and private firms, earlier this year over concerns of illegal practice.
It followed revelations doctors had been breaching the 1967 Abortion Act by carrying out terminations because babies were the wrong sex.
Inspectors found most clinics were being run properly and only 14, just over 5 per cent, were breaking the rules. However they were all NHS clinics, with those run by private firms such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Marie Stopes International operating legally.
Public health minister Anne Milton said: ‘The swift action means we have been able to stamp out poor practice and sends a clear message we will act in cases where the law is not being followed carefully in this sensitive area. We want to ensure women always receive the best possible care.’
The health secretary ordered the CQC to investigate abortion clinics at very short notice.
At the time the watchdog warned that it would have to cancel 580 crucial inspections of hospitals and care homes to ensure patients were not at risk.
And yesterday Labour seized on the findings that abortion clinics were not putting women in danger as evidence that ministers were putting politics before patients.
Diane Abbott MP, shadow public health minister said: ‘This report shows that Andrew Lansley has yet again put political interests ahead of British patient care.
‘CQC has blown Andrew Lansley’s weak justifications out of the water by confirming that no women had poor outcomes of care at any of the clinics that he personally ordered raids on.’
British teachers spending 60% less time on sport despite pledge to use the Olympics to encourage more children to take part
School sport is in decline despite a pledge to use the Olympics to encourage more children to take part, figures have shown. Teachers are spending 60 per cent less time organising competitions and after-school clubs since the Coalition cut funding for school sports.
The figures are sensitive for the Government since a key pledge that helped win the Olympics for London was a promise to ‘inspire young people around the world to choose sport’.
Figures uncovered by Labour under the Freedom of Information Act suggest a decline in the amount of sport being organised in all English regions following the overhaul.
They show a 60 per cent decrease in days worked per week by PE teachers on release compared with sports co-ordinators working under the old scheme in 2009/10.
Clive Efford, shadow minister for sport, said: ‘It is incredible that David Cameron can complain that too many of our top sports people come from private schools when he is damaging the structure of sport in our state education system.’
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘We’re spending £65million over the academic years 2011/12 and 2012/13 to release a secondary PE teacher in every school for one day a week so that opportunities in competitive sport are increased.’
Education Secretary Michael Gove drew a storm of criticism from athletes and head teachers two years ago after threatening to axe a national network of School Sports Partnerships.
He was forced into a partial U-turn and agreed to fund a new scheme which allows PE teachers to be released from their schools for one day a week to help co-ordinate local sports provision. But the budget for the scheme was smaller than funding for sports partnerships as the Coalition implemented austerity measures.
In the West Midlands and North East, the figures were 74 per cent and 72 per cent respectively.
Speaking in Singapore in 2005, Lord Coe said: ‘London’s vision is to reach young people around the world. ‘To connect them with the inspirational power of the Games. So they are inspired to choose sport.’
However the new figures suggest a decline in the amounted of sports being organised by schools, including local tournaments after-school clubs.
The withdrawal of funding for school sports partnerships led to a decline in their numbers of 37 per cent, the data showed. More than a quarter of local authorities no longer have any.
Some areas have managed to keep the networks going but responses from local authorities suggested a decline in sporting participation, with Wokingham reporting that ‘a drop-off is evident without whole partnership meetings and limited staffing capacity’.
Harrow, meanwhile, noted ‘a drop in children’s participation in sport and school’s participation in coordinated extra-curricular activity’.
The Coalition has instead focused efforts on creating a new school games aimed at reviving competitive sport. The tournament has reached more than half of schools.
There has also been lottery funding and investment in encouraging older teenagers and young adults to participate in sport amid evidence youngsters lose interest after leaving school.
But Tessa Jowell, shadow Olympics minister, said: ‘When we won the Games, we made a promise to the people of this country and the international community to inspire a generation of young people through sport.
‘The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a once in a lifetime event that will get young people excited about sport. ‘It is important that schools are able to maintain this momentum and help young people develop sport and exercise as a habit that will keep them healthy and fit for the rest of their lives.’
All over 50s ‘should be offered polypill’: Four-in-one drug could extend life by 11 years and prevent thousands of strokes and heart attacks
This is just faith-healing. There is no demonstrated effect on lifespan or disease incidence
A four-in-one pill to slash the risk of heart disease should be made available for all over-50s, a leading doctor said yesterday.
Professor Sir Nicholas Wald claimed that if just half of those over 50 took the ‘polypill’, which contains a cholesterol-busting statin and a trio of blood pressure drugs, then almost 100,000 heart attacks and strokes would be prevented each year.
Sir Nicholas, who developed antenatal screening for Down’s syndrome and linked passive smoking with lung cancer, said the drug could be approved for use over the counter in the UK in as little as a year and cost less than £1 a day. ‘The net benefits are too large to ignore,’ he added.
The professor, of Queen Mary, University of London, made the recommendation after a study showed taking the tablet every day for 12 weeks gave those in their fifties, sixties and seventies the blood pressure and cholesterol levels of twentysomethings.
Researchers gave the polypill to 84 men and women aged between 51 and 77. They were chosen on the basis of age alone, and not because tests showed they were at a particularly high risk of heart problems.
After taking the tablet for three months, their blood pressure fell by an average of 12 per cent and ‘bad cholesterol’ by 39 per cent, the journal PLoS ONE reports. This gave the participants readings more usually seen in someone decades younger.
It is estimated that if everyone over 50 took the tablet, two in three heart attacks and strokes could be prevented.
Sir Nicholas – a polypill patent-holder – would like the drugs to be prescribed based on age alone.
Rather than going to a GP’s surgery for a series of tests, people would speak to their pharmacist who would ask their age and what medication they are taking before giving them the drug.
Despite concerns that this would lead to many apparently healthy people taking powerful medication, he said: ‘It is specifically designed for healthy people to keep them healthy.
‘It is like taking anti-malarials if you are going to Africa – you take them in order to reduce your chance of contracting the disease.’
Dr David Wald, Sir Nicholas’s son and the study’s lead researcher, added: ‘This has the potential to have a massive impact in reducing a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke. ‘It is a pill to prevent people from becoming patients and from dying from two of the most common causes of death in the world.’
The polypill tested by the team, developed by Indian firm Cipla, contains low doses of three blood pressure drugs: amlodipine, losartan and hydrochlorothiazide.
It also contains simvastatin, one of the most widely-used statins. Others in development around the world also include aspirin and folic acid.
Polypill advocates say it is easier to remember one tablet than several drugs to be taken at different times.
But Duncan Dymond, a consultant cardiologist at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in central London, described mass prescription based on age alone as ‘absolutely ridiculous’.
‘When you spray crops, you hope that some of the crops you hit are actually going to need dusting, and accept the fact that you are going to miss some of the crops that will need dusting – and also spray crops that are perfectly healthy. And that is what we will do with this,’ he said.
Natasha Stewart, of the British Heart Foundation, described the research as encouraging, but warned: ‘Medicines are not a substitute for living a healthy lifestyle.’
Smart Growth Questioned in Britain
Much of the inspiration for what is today called Smart Growth—concentrating development in urban centers, urban growth boundaries, higher densities and expanded transit—originated in the U.K. long before it was embraced by many urban and transportation planners in this country. Consequently, it’s newsworthy when respected U.K. figures question some of these long-embraced policies.
The Spring 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Planning Association carries an analysis by four U.K. academic urban planners (Marcial Eschenique, Anthony Hargreaves, Gordon Mitchell, and Anil Namdea) titled “Growing Cities Sustainably: Does Urban Form Really Matter?” One of its principal conclusions is that “The current planning policy strategies for land use and transport have virtually no impact on the major long-term increases in resource and energy consumption. They generally tend to increase costs and reduce economic competitiveness.”
The authors created a model of land use and travel behavior, using data from three areas in England: the London metro area, the Newcastle area, and the Cambridge sub-region. For each one, they modeled the impact of three alternative land use policies: compact development, planned development, and dispersal (similar to the suburbanization common in the United States and Australia for most of the post-World War II period). Although land uses differed somewhat among the three models, outcome variables such as transportation energy use, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and houses, and air pollution showed very minor differences. Projected economic costs by 2031 were lowest for the dispersed model and highest for the compact one.
An article on the NewGeography site (June 28) provides useful extracts from the paper, two of which I found especially interesting:
“One of the main arguments for the dispersed city is that there is no longer a single center where most jobs and services occur. Urban areas, rather, exhibit a dispersed and often polycentric structure, bringing jobs and services closer to residents with a more complex movement pattern not readily served by public transport.”
“Smart growth principles should not unquestioningly promote increasing levels of compaction on the basis of reducing energy consumption without also considering its potential negative consequences. In many cases, the potential socioeconomic consequences of less housing choice, crowding, and congestion may outweigh its very modest CO2 reduction benefits.”
Shortly after reading this, I read the 16-page “Special Report: London,” included in the June 30th issue of The Economist. In the section on housing, after noting the very high cost of housing in the London metro area, the author identified the Green Belt—a donut-shaped area up to 50 miles wide intended as the world’s first urban growth boundary—as the biggest constraint on development and hence as a major contributor to high housing prices. “This has not stopped growth, but it has pushed it into the greater south-east, thus spoiling the countryside across a bigger area. It has also raised the cost of housing and forced workers to travel farther. Commuting costs in London are now higher than in any other rich-world capital.” As a remedy, the report suggests that “Taking a mile of the Green Belt all around London would release around 25,000 hectares [62,000 acres], the equivalent of a sixth of London’s area—far more than would be needed to make a huge difference to housing affordability.”
The current speech uproar in England
Derbyshire Police said on Tuesday they are investigating alleged racist comments made on Twitter involving Chelsea player Ashley Cole and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.
Cole, who gave evidence at team mate John Terry’s racism trial last week, was labeled ‘choc-ice’ by a Twitter user thought to live in Britain.
The user posted a message to 33-year-old Ferdinand shortly after Terry had been cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last week.
Former England captain Terry was accused of abusing Ferdinand’s younger brother Anton during a Premier League match between Chelsea and QPR.
“Looks like Ashley Cole’s going to be their choc ice,” said a tweet directed to Ferdinand. “Then again he’s always been a sell out. Shame on him.”
Ferdinand replied with: “I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic! hahahahahahha!!”
The term ‘choc-ice’ is understood to have racial connotations meaning a person is ‘black on the outside’ and ‘white on the inside
Note that the guy who agreed with the tweet is the one who is in the gun