NHS trust fined £500,000 after female care worker was stabbed to death by dangerous bipolar patient ‘who never should have been sent to care home’
An NHS trust was fined and ordered to pay costs of almost half a million pounds today for placing a bipolar sufferer in a care home where he went on to stab to death a female care worker.
The Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust breached health and safety regulations by not carrying out a proper risk assessment on Stephen Flatt before he was transferred to the care home in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
The owner of the care home, 58-year-old Chelvanayagam Menna, was also to fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £388,996 for breaching health and safety regulations and failing to ensure the safety of staff and residents at Abacus House.
Stephen Flatt who suffered from bipolar disorder arrived at the home in July 2007. He was 55.
The following month he stabbed care worker Kathleen Baibridge,58, to death and attacked and seriously wounded her colleague Barbara Hill, who Luton crown court heard today is still suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Judge Michael Baker QC said: ‘The failure of duty by the trust and Mr Menna have led to the death of a dedicated carer, Kathleen Bainbridge and devastated the lives of her husband and family. The heartache continues even now.’ He fined the trust 150,000 and ordered it to pays costs of £326,345.
The judge said the death of Mrs Bainbridge could have been avoided if the risks presented by Flatt had been properly assessed and the shortcomings of Abacus House recognised. That would have meant Flatt would never have been sent there, he said. ‘Both defendants contributed to her death,’ said the judge.
Dealing first with the trust the judge said the blame went ‘to a senior management level.’ Sentencing Menna the judge told him he was ‘You were the only person who had direct and ultimate responsibility for safety.’
He said he had failed to heed the concerns of his staff. The judge went on ‘He allowed financial gain to guide him rather than a prudent approach to issues of safety.’
Judge Baker said Menna hadn’t been candid when approached by the trust over whether Abacus House could deal with someone like Flatt. Abacus House, said the judge was not ‘competent’ to deal with him.
Today’s sentencing came after the Trust and Mr Menna were found guilty after a trial which ended in June of breaching health and safety regulations.
Throughout the eight week trial the prosecution maintained Flatt should never have been sent there because it was not geared up to treat and look after anyone with bipolar, which Flatt suffered from.
Staff at the home were more used to dealing with people who had been involved in road accidents and suffered brain injuries or patients who had suffered a stroke or who had problems due to alcohol or drug use.
Flatt, from St Albans, could be aggressive and violent and in the past had carried offensive weapons. He had been known to exhibit sexually inappropriate behaviour to women. Abacus House, said the prosecution, was completely unsuitable.
Staff there also had concerns about him being there and shortly before she died Mrs Bainbridge is said to have made the comment about his quietness prior to the attack saying ‘Let’s hope this is not the calm before the storm.’
In early 2007 Flatt, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and admitted to Albany Lodge in St Albans, a psychiatric unit run by the trust. He remained in an intensive care unit for two months and later that spring spent a number of weeks in another psychiatric unit in St Albans before returning to Albany Lodge.
He was later de-sectioned and the trust searched for a care home that could take him. It had never used Abacus house before but the decision was eventually made to send Flatt there, arriving on July 18 2007.
The trust was found guilty of contravening a health a safety regulation by failing to make a suitable assessment of the risk Flatt posed. It was also convicted of a second charge of failing to discharge a duty to ensure persons not in its employment were exposed to risks to their health and safety.
Mr Menna of Dunstable, was found guilty of contravening a health a safety regulation by failing to carry out a risk assessment and two charges of failing to discharge a duty.
During the trial Mrs Bainbridge’s husband, Thomas told the court she had been ‘frightened’ of Flatt who could be aggressive.
Mr Bainbridge said Flatt had made a threat to staff that one of them would ‘get their comeuppance.’ He said his wife had lost weight as a result.
In April of 2009 Flatt was ordered to be detained for an indefinite period in a secure hospital after being deemed unfit to plead.
Vomiting toddler sent home from hospital with ibuprofen… and dies just 22 hours later
That the mother had just had swine flu should have been a red flag. Antivirals could have been given
A two-year-old girl died just 22 hours after doctors sent her home from hospital with ibuprofen, an inquest heard. Michelle Fernando began displaying flu-like symptoms one week after her mother Uthpala, 27, fell ill with swine flu.
Her concerned father Rashid, 30, took her to Bristol Children’s Hospital but doctors sent her home with the painkiller and advised her parents to give her plenty of water.
Michelle suddenly stopped breathing the following day and she was rushed back to hospital by ambulance but pronounced dead on arrival. Traces of the deadly swine flu virus were found in her nose and throat but a pathologist ruled that she died of pneumonia and septicaemia.
The inquest at Flax Bourton Coroner’s Court, near Bristol, heard how doctors examined the toddler but sent her home after diagnosing a viral infection on November 17, 2009. But the next night she started having difficulty breathing.
When her parents dialled 999, they were told the problems did not sound life-threatening, and an ambulance would arrive in up to 20 minutes. But moments later Michelle stopped breathing and they called 999 again – and the ambulance arrived minutes later. Michelle was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.
Avon coroner Maria Voisin heard a post-mortem examination found the medical cause of death was pneumonia and septicaemia.
Traces of swine flu, otherwise known as the H1N1virus, were found in Michelle’s nose and throat.
An investigation was launched straight after the toddler’s unexpected death, with the hospital trust carrying out a child death review.
Dr Thomas Allport, who practices at Bristol Children’s Hospital and specialises in paediatrics, chaired the review.
He told the coroner that it was possible the pneumonia was already established in Michelle’s body when she was first examined at the hospital. However, he said she had had a ‘very reassuring respiratory examination that pointed away from pneumonia’ before she was sent home. Dr Allport also said it was ‘very unlikely’ septicaemia was established in her body when doctors saw her.
Dr Jon Kim, the doctor who first examined Michelle at the children’s hospital, also gave evidence at the inquest.
Ms Voisin heard that the toddler’s respiratory rate and pulse rate had been high when she was admitted – which could have been a sign of pneumonia. But while she was waiting and was given water for her dehydration the rates lowered back to normal.
Dr Kim said when he examined the toddler her rates were normal and her parents were more concerned about her diarrhoea and vomiting – not common signs of pneumonia.
He was asked by the coroner whether he should have re-taken the toddler’s respiratory rate and pulse rates before she had been discharged. Dr Kim replied that the toddler was correctly managed but re-taking these observations was something that had been implemented at the hospital following the review.
Paul Eland, of Great Western Ambulance Service, explained why an ambulance had not been dispatched urgently after Mr and Mrs Fernando’s initial call. He said that this was due to the way operators had been told to handle calls during the swine flu pandemic. Because Michelle was not displaying certain ‘priority symptoms’ her case was not classed as an emergency.
However, he explained that when her parents made a second call, an ambulance was on the scene in four minutes. Mr Eland said since Michelle’s death, and independently of it, the handling of such calls had been reviewed and she would now have been classed as a priority due to her age.
Recording a verdict of natural causes, Ms Voisin said: ‘Michelle Fernando attended hospital on November 17, 2009, presenting as an unwell two-year-old. ‘The medical review at the time did not identify her as having a serious illness and so she was discharged. ‘On November 18 she died from natural causes.’
Mr and Mrs Fernando. originally from Sri Lanka, were unavailable for comment after the inquest. But speaking after their daughter’s death in 2009, the couple said if Michelle hadn’t been sent home she would ‘still be alive’.
Uthpala, who also has son Marlon, four said: ‘Even when my husband explained I had swine flu they didn’t take it seriously. ‘She died within 24 hours of them sending her home from hospital and if they hadn’t done that she would still be alive. She was a very beautiful, very active girl. ‘I don’t know why they didn’t take it seriously. Maybe it’s because we are from another country, because we are foreigners.’
UK Immigration Officials Threaten Strike Action During Olympics
One hopes they do strike. It might force the government to drop its insane staff cutbacks. The staffing is not sufficient to get people through immigration promptly already. Cutting frontline staff instead of bureaucrats is just plain incompetent
U.K. immigration officers will decide Thursday whether to hold strikes during the Olympic Games, a move that could cause chaos at Britain’s borders as hundreds of thousands of extra tourists arrive for the event meant to showcase London and the rest of the country to the world.
The Public and Commercial Services Union said Wednesday 57.2% of members who voted were in favor of striking to protest job cuts, pay and conditions, while 75.8% supported other forms of industrial action.
The country’s largest civil service trade union said ballots were sent to the 15,700 union members who work for the Home Office, and 20% responded. The PCS represents around 5,000 Border Agency staff.
Thursday’s meeting of union leaders will decide on whether to mount a protest, and if so, specify the nature of industrial action and date, a union spokesman said in a statement.
“Ministers have known about these issues for a very long time but have chosen not to act,” General Secretary Mark Serwotka said. “We believe they have acted recklessly and irresponsibly in cutting so many jobs and, in the case of U.K. Border Agency, they have simply tried to paper over the cracks by deploying severely undertrained staff at our borders.”
Immigration Minister Damian Green urged the union not to take protest action, saying a strike would be “irresponsible.”
“Any action that disrupts the Olympics will be completely unacceptable and the public will not support it,” he said in a statement. “Only about one in 10 PCS members voted for strike action.”
Mr. Green said if industrial action goes ahead, the government will use its “trained pool of contingency staff” to minimize any disruptions.
In May, the government was forced to draft extra immigration officers to man border controls at Heathrow Airport, the world’s busiest international passenger airport, after passengers were caught in huge queues for passport checks. The government has vowed that immigration desks will be fully staffed during the Olympics, for which the U.K. expects to greet an estimated 600,000 overseas visitors more than would normally arrive during that period.
In the past week the government has had to deploy thousands of additional army and police officers to provide security for the games after G4S Plc said it would have problems delivering the number of guards contracted.
The PCS union said government spending cut are affecting the Border Agency’s ability to function and are “completely unsustainable.”
The government is reducing the budget of the agency, responsible for passport control at all ports of entry, 20% by 2015 as part of a GBP79 billion ($124 billion) spending cut aimed at narrowing the country’s deficit.
The union says the agency has already cut 5,300 of 7,000 jobs it plans to eliminate by 2015.
If British women keep taking so much maternity leave, no boss will want to employ them
By Julia Llewellyn Smith
Late in the evening at a dinner party, Anthony, the head of a department at a City bank, made a shocking pronouncement. ‘When we have a vacant position I don’t even look at women aged between 24 and 40,’ he said, as we passed the brandy. ‘The headache of training someone who might have babies is simply not worth it.’
‘You have to find and train cover, who you then have to drop if the woman comes back. It’s illegal to ask outright if a candidate plans on a family, so it’s easier just to write all women off and give the job to a man.’
I gasped in disbelief. ‘You can’t say that!’ I exclaimed. But several high-flying women there nodded. ‘Young women no longer figure in my organisation,’ one confessed. ‘They’re more trouble than they’re worth.’
It seems that, thanks in part to our country’s increasingly generous maternity leave, the dreams of equality of Suffragettes and women’s libbers have come true. Mothers can work in high-powered careers, take long stretches of paid time off when they have babies and return to work when it suits them.
A new mother will now, on average, take almost nine months off — compared with five-and-a-half months six years ago.
Over the past five years, the number of women taking all their maternity leave entitlement — a year, with payment of some sort (benefits vary between employers) for the first nine months — has doubled.
Yet could such leave actually be detrimental to women’s status in the workplace? Are fertile young women being shunned by employers who would have to fork out for maternity payments and cover?
There seems to be a growing backlash against it — even by mothers. When internet giant Yahoo! this week appointed Marissa Mayer as CEO of the company — despite her being six months’ pregnant — she announced she will take only two weeks’ leave after she gives birth.
Few women at the top take long maternity leaves. When she was French Justice Minister, Rachida Dati returned to work in stilettos five days after a Caesarean. Karren Brady, when managing director of Birmingham Football Club, had three days off after the birth of her first child Sophia, something she says she bitterly regrets.
But most mothers take months, or years, off work — despite the potential damage to their careers and those of other women.
In many ways, we have both the previous Labour Government and the Coalition to thank (or blame) for this: their determination to win female votes means the maximum maternity leave has doubled over the past decade to a year.
But is it possible for women to enjoy high-powered careers and take huge amounts of time off to be hands-on mothers? Increasingly, experts, including many prominent feminists, say the answer is no.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett is a leading campaigner for better maternity leave in the U.S. (American women are allowed 12 weeks’ leave, unpaid), but accepts that the long leaves in many European countries are backfiring dramatically, with employers overlooking women of childbearing age altogether.
A mother of four, 54-year-old Dr Hewlett went back to work just ten days after giving birth to her first child. Later, she lost twins when she was seven months’ pregnant. Her employers fired her shortly afterwards for ‘allowing childbearing to dilute her focus’.
‘I came at the issue of maternity leave as a warrior fighting the good fight,’ she says. But studying German leave — where women are allowed to take as long as three years off — led Dr Hewlett to reassess her opinion. ‘German employers were quite open about avoiding young women when they could. A mother of two could potentially take six years off work,’ she says.
‘One employer told me he regarded all women of childbearing age as “wombs in waiting”.’ Dr Hewlett also discovered that countries with the shortest maternity leaves, like the U.S. and Australia, had far more women in top jobs than in countries where leave is more generous.
But she also points out that in the U.S. far more women leave the workforce entirely when they have children, and believes longer leave would help keep these women.
In Sweden — held up as the template for family-friendly policies — there is the highest ‘occupational segregation’ in Europe, with most women working in the lowly-paid public sector, while men hold better-paid jobs in the private sector. Swedish women, who enjoy up to 16 months’ leave, are far less likely to hold managerial positions than British or American women.
In Britain, a similar state of affairs may not be far off. A recent survey of 10,000 British bosses showed only 26 per cent of them intended to employ women, compared with 38 per cent last year, and a third said they were put off by having to provide maternity leave.
The backlash can’t only be blamed on bosses. It’s also the fault of many new mothers — often middle-class, educated women. Rather than treating maternity benefits as a hard-won safety net, the first generation of women to enjoy them can behave as if they have a legal right to take advantage of their employers and colleagues.
Take one member of a baby group I attended in West London, with my second child. Miranda (not her real name) was financial director of a small business and openly stated her aim, during her nine months’ leave, was to return to work pregnant. She succeeded, worked for just six months and this time took a year ‘on the company’.
She then returned to work for 13 weeks, the statutory time necessary so as not to have to repay her benefits, before resigning to achieve her real goal of being a full-time mother.
My friend Keith, who works at the BBC, recounts how, after a round of redundancies in his department, many of his female colleagues quickly became pregnant. Not only would they have leave funded by the licence fee — but discrimination laws would make it hard to sack them, he says.
Even if women return to work (and employers can make no plans about it since they are legally banned from asking if or when this will happen), they are allowed to request flexible hours.
Meanwhile, 12 months at home may have left them lagging behind their colleagues in terms of skills gained and contacts acquired. Indeed, even women who support generous maternity leave accept it inevitably causes problems for them when they return.
Julia Hobsbawn, a mother-of-three, stepmother-of-two, and author of The SeeSaw: 101 Ideas For Work-Life Balance, says: ‘By taking huge stretches of time like a year, it can make it much harder for them to get back in the saddle of office life with confidence.’
In her own research, Dr Hewlett discovered that a couple of maternity leaves of just six months had little or no effect on a woman’s future earning power. But if she took a total of more than two years off, she lost for ever 18 per cent of her earning power.
If she took three years off, her earning power was reduced by 38 per cent. Because of this, many women choose to sacrifice time with their infants rather than damaging their much-loved, hard-won careers.
Michelle Rodger, 42, from Glasgow, who runs a communications firm in the City, returned to work 12 days after her daughter was born by Caesarean, 13 years ago.
‘What women don’t realise is how much harder it will be to get back on the career ladder once they’ve decided to take a long break,’ she says. ‘Women and businesses are losing out. A line needs to be drawn between what’s sensible and what’s not.’
One thing seems clear: our maternity leave arrangements — in which mothers are entitled to so much time off they are seen as a liability by wary employers — are far from sensible.
Angry friends accuse useless British police over mudslide couple’s death as the case is referred to watchdog
It’s too early to tell but had police acted promptly, lives may have been saved. That possibility should at least have been a guiding priority
The deaths of a couple entombed beneath a mudslide for ten days will be investigated by the police watchdog, it emerged last night.
Elderly sweethearts Rosemary Snell and Michael Rolfe were buried alive under tons of dislodged earth and rubble after their car was flattened by debris dislodged in bad weather.
Their friends yesterday spoke of their anger and disbelief at the police’s ‘outrageous’ delay in finding the bodies of retired surgeon Mr Rolfe, 72 and Mrs Snell, 67.
Now Dorset Police have been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for investigation after accusations were levelled at the force for not searching the debris because the landslide had happened over a ‘busy weekend’.
Mrs Snell’s friend Jane Fox, 61, condemned the authorities for trying to backtrack in a bid to put themselves above reproach. She said: ‘They’re covering themselves. Think about those poor people under there all that time. We are angry. Everybody is.’
The IPCC stated: ‘Dorset Police will be referring the Beaminster Tunnel landslip deaths. This will be assessed and a decision made about mode of investigation.’
Mrs Snell and father-of-four Mr Rolfe were found under tons of mud and earth at the entrance to the tunnel in Dorset on Monday – ten days after the landslide. Yesterday it emerged they had a romantic meal together at a local hotel before leaving early to deal with the terrible driving conditions.
Assistant Chief Constable James Vaughan of Dorset Police said no major search was carried out until it became known that the pair were in the area at the time of the landslide. He said police had had a ‘busy weekend’ and there had been no obvious signs of a vehicle buried in the mud. Asked whether he thought it was disgraceful that the couple’s bodies had been undiscovered for ten days, Mr Vaughan replied: ‘That’s unfair.’
He added: ‘This was a tragic, freak accident. It was a chance in a million that they happened to be driving out of the end of the tunnel when the landslide swept through.
‘Their car was severely crushed. It will be up to the pathologist to decide exactly what was the cause of death, but I would have thought it would have been pretty instantaneous.’
Western Dorset Coroner’s officer Andy Nineham confirmed that two bodies had now been recovered. He said that an inquest was due to be opened and adjourned at a later date.
Local councillor Ron Bond said yesterday he was ‘absolutely disgusted’ that the bodies had remained undiscovered for so long.
However Dorset Assistant Chief Constable James Vaughan claimed the couple’s deaths would have been ‘pretty instantaneous’ owing to the huge weight of the rubble.
It has now been revealed that Dorset police have referred the case to the IPCC to investigate the actions of the force in the matter.
A tweet on the IPCC Twitter feed stated: ‘Dorset Police will be referring the Beaminster Tunnel landslip deaths. This will be assessed and a decision made about mode of investigation.’
It emerged yesterday that emergency services were called to the scene but left without clearing the mudslide as their heat-seeking equipment failed to detect any sign of movement.
The busy A-road had been closed to traffic since the landslide and was not cleared because emergency services and the council said they were dealing with numerous flood alerts in the area.
It was only when Miss Snell failed to keep a lunch appointment with friend and neighbour Carol Walker two days later that police began a missing persons inquiry.
They discovered that the couple had used a credit card in Beaminster on July 7 and eventually their inquiries led them on Monday to the tunnel, still beneath 6ft of rubble.
The weight of falling masonry from the bridge structure, soil and debris literally flattened the Skoda.
A police spokesman admitted officers had been busy after the public had inundated them with calls during the bad weather.
‘There were 150 flood warnings in the county at that time, 180 homes had been evacuated, and 400 incidents reported to the police control room,’ the officer said.
Let new free schools be grammars (academically selective), says former British supermarket boss
One of Britain’s most successful businessmen is calling on the Government to allow its new free schools to select on the basis of ability. Retired Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy says he would be interested in setting up one of the schools, which are funded by taxpayers’ money but freed from state control, but only if it could be a grammar.
His remarks come after Education Secretary Michael Gove gave the green light to three free schools run by creationist groups, which do not accept the theory of evolution.
In an interview with The Spectator magazine, Sir Terry said that for children who, like him, grew up in homes with no books, grammars were crucial, adding that any free school he helped to run would have to be selective.
‘If you look at these great schools, they were usually founded by somebody who had made a few bob a few hundred years ago,’ he said. ‘I’d be saying, “Choose Liverpool and see if a good selective school could make a real difference to actually how those kids from the very poorest backgrounds do”.’
Only 164 grammar schools remain in England. Mr Gove has ruled out the establishment of new schools but is allowing existing grammars to set up satellites in neighbouring towns.
Experts say this could open the floodgates for councils to launch grammar schools.
Research published this week showed that regions which still have grammar schools are significantly more likely to send sixth-formers to elite universities than areas that went comprehensive.
The schools which creationists hope to open are Grindon Hall Christian school in Sunderland, the Exemplar-Newark Business Academy in Nottinghamshire and the Sevenoaks Christian school in Kent.
Tea acts as antidote for deadly poisons, including ricin
This appears to be a study in laboratory glassware only. It may not work in practice
Scientists believe a simple cup of tea could be a secret weapon to fight terrorism. A chemical in tea can deactivate ricin – a highly-toxic ingredient in deadly terrorist attacks.
Professor Les Baillie said: ‘We already knew that tea had the ability to inhibit anthrax – as long as it is black tea with no milk.
‘Our new findings suggest that if the security services want to counter the threat of ricin, they may find the answer in their morning cup of tea.’
Since the First World War ricin has had a gruesome reputation as a bioweapon. Even a tiny amount can kill a person within two to three days after getting into the bloodstream.
And it comes from the humble castor oil bean, a powerful laxative, used medicinally for centuries, that is available in many health food shops and online.
Academics at Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences discovered the use for chemical polyphenol called Epigallocatechin gallate – a principal property of tea.
It inactivated ricin – a highly-toxic substance used in scores of attempted terrorist attacks.
Ricin is used in an arsenal of terrorist weapons, and has already been at the centre of a number of attempted terrorist attacks in the US. It was famously used to kill Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov as he waited for a bus on Waterloo Bridge in London.
Markov was injected with ricin using a poison-tipped umbrella by a suspected KGB agent.
The new discovery follows on from research done by Cardiff scientists which showed tea has an unexpected array of talents outside the morning cuppa.
A team showed chemicals in English breakfast tea – known as polyphenols – were able to kill bacillus anthracis, the organism which causes anthrax and was used in the 2001 US anthrax mail attacks.
Prof Baillie said: ‘These toxins, such as ricin, have been shown to have been used by nasty people, and nasty countries, to do nasty things.
‘With a number of overseas guests arriving in the UK for the Olympics, we think this research could encourage them to drink tea – our national drink – but also naturally encourage their resistance to potentially damaging toxins.’