Scandal of healthy grandmother who died in hospital after going without food and water for seven days
A healthy, active grandmother died in hospital after she was denied food and water for more than a week. Joan Pertoldi, 76, was put on a nil-by-mouth regime while she waited for a routine hip operation at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn Garden City.
Her family was told she would be operated on within 48 hours but the procedure was put off three times – twice because the prosthesis due to be inserted into the joint was not properly sterilised.
Other delays occurred because there weren’t enough staff at weekends.
The operation eventually went ahead eight days after she was admitted but, severely weakened, Mrs Pertoldi never recovered and died in hospital a few weeks later.
During her stay, Mrs Pertoldi was dropped by nurses on one occasion because they failed to consult physiotherapists’ notes which explained how much assistance she needed to walk.
After becoming dehydrated, Mrs Pertoldi developed a urinary infection which, the family say, lead to blood poisoning because doctors failed to tackle the problem. She also developed a blocked bowel and contracted superbug clostridium difficile which caused her organs to fail, leading to her eventual death.
Hertfordshire coroner, Edward Thomas has now ordered the hospital to investigate the blunders and her family are considering legal action, claiming she died due to neglect.
The pensioner’s daughter, Anna Pertoldi, said: ‘The treatment my mother received in hospital was disgraceful. When mum went into hospital she was in good spirits. But because of the cancellations she was left weak and then quickly went downhill.
‘Being left on nil-by-mouth was just one of a number of failings my mother had to suffer. Basic standards of care and nursing weren’t there.’
But Mrs Pertoldi’s case also comes after an inquest into the death of 22-year-old Kane Gorny, who died of dehydration while in hospital for a hip operation.
He phoned police from his bed because he was so thirsty but staff at St George’s Hospital in London, told officers he was confused and sent them away.
Mrs Pertoldi, who enjoyed looking after her two grandchildren, was admitted to hospital on August 5, 2009 after a fall in her garden.
During seven of the eight nights before her operation, she was not allowed food water as she was expected to undergo the procedure the following day but it was postponed three times at the last moment.
Anna Pertoldi told a Sunday newspaper: ‘Each day the focus was on getting down to theatre and having the procedure. That’s why we listened to the doctors and made sure mum didn’t eat or drink.’
Caron Heyes, the solicitor representing Mrs Pertoldi’s family, said she ‘should have sailed through the surgery’ but died as a result of preventable delays and neglect. She added: ‘Failure to ensure nourishment of Joan Pertoldi would have created a risk of mortality for her that had not previously been present.’
East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust offered ‘deepest sympathies’ to the family.
Director of nursing Angela Thompson added: ‘We now have a dedicated fractured hip unit at QEII. Since being created, we have seen a significant improvement in both the clinical quality of care as well as patients.’
The Olympic opening ceremony
Below is an email received from an Australian reader
When are you going to say something about the outrageous Olympic Opening Ceremony. I have to say I hated it and it’s PC values more than anything I’ve watched in recent times.
* tribute to the NHS (Over here we’d have a tribute to the carbon tax probably).
* Mary Poppins kissing a black kid
* Black people dressed up in top hats pretending to be Isambard Kingdom Brunel. (Historical Revisionism at it’s best).
* No whites carrying the olympic flag.
* A white woman coming home to her black husband.
* A Pakistani kid dancing with another mixed racial person in the death scene
Why raise this stuff…
Because it is designed to write white Anglo culture out of history and made me feel sick.
And no-one can say anything about it without left leaning fruitcakes throwing out the racism card.
The government is asking Britons to behave like Soviets
I’m married to a former Moscow correspondent. He is incandescent at what he considers the Sovietisation of Britain. Most obvious, during these Olympics, are the Games Lanes: just as in Soviet Russia, the nomenklatura can roar down a specially-designated lane to their destination (be that the women’s volley ball finals or the five bedroomed house in Notting Hill); while ordinary people (or peasants) inch their way to and from work through traffic.
We have yet to see what is routine in Moscow (the illicit purchase of fake sirens, which for a small fortune drivers can place on top of their cars, in order to get preferential treatment on the road), but already, the “special lanes” send out a clear message: our time is of no importance; theirs is precious.
Far more sinister, though, is the news that HMRC are trying to encourage our children to snitch on tax-evaders. Setting child against parent is another old trick of the Soviets. It resulted in inter-generational misery, as children programmed to inform on their family were left as orphans when mummy and daddy were banished to the Gulag, suspected of unpatriotic behaviour.
We don’t have the Gulag, and Dave doesn’t model himself on Stalin (just on Obama, according to US Republicans), but HMRC has set up special modules to teach children as young as 11 about paying their fair share of tax. It also asks: “What do students think of those who refuse to pay tax or try and defraud the benefits system? Can they think of any example they may have heard of in their local area?”
The revenue doesn’t actually spell out, “tell Uncle Joe if you know anyone who’s not paying taxes” – but that may be in a forthcoming module. In the meantime, parents everywhere, beware: your little treasure is being taught to spy on you, and hand you over to the authorities.
Half of recipients of British sickness benefit return to work if ruled fit
Ministers have claimed a success for a key plank of their welfare reforms after new figures showed that more than half of claimants who are found to be fit for work go off benefits.
Some 52 per cent of those assessed as able to work under a new medical tests regime do not claim another benefit immediately after receiving their ruling.
An independent report for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showed that 10 per cent of claimants went back to their old job, while 18 per cent found new employment or began working themselves.
Others retired or were supported by their family – adding up to more than half who no longer claimed state benefits.
Chris Grayling, the Employment Minister, said the figures were proof that a “significant number” of people who claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – the main incapacity benefit – are in fact able to work.
The assessments are a key part of the Work Programme introduced by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, a scheme costing up to £5 billion under which private-sector providers are paid to help the long-term unemployed find work.
More than 2 billion people who previously who previously claimed Incapacity Benefit are gradually being assessed to determine whether they are eligible for ESA.
They have to undertake a Work Capability Assessment which tests their physical fitness as well as their mental skills.
After the tests, some receive unconditional support because they are too unwell to work while others are found not fit to work at the moment, but are given support to “move them towards the workplace” in the future.
The largest group, around 57 per cent, is declared fit for work and therefore is unable to claim any sickness benefit. Anybody in this category who is unemployed is able to claim the less generous Jobseekers Allowance – but the new figures, in a report by the Institute for Employment studies buried on the DWP’s website, suggest most people in this category are not doing this.
Mr Grayling said: “Many people claiming Employment and Support Allowance have genuine need for it, but we know there are a significant number of people who are able to work who apply for it as well.
“Our reforms to the incapacity benefit system are vital – it’s right that those who are not well enough to work get unconditional support, but those who are able to work should do so.
“Sitting at home on benefits when you’re fit to work must not be an option.”
The overall aims of welfare reforms are to make work pay and to simplify the current complex mass of different payments in the new universal credit system.
Ministers estimate that around 500,000 people could lose incapacity benefit payments once all have been assessed under their new regime.
Labour introduced the ESA when it was in power – but the party has launched a series of attacks on what it is says is the unfair way the new system is implemented for certain categories of claimant.
Don’t blame Britain’s universities for their lack of state-school students
Vince Cable’s efforts to force universities to admit more working-class students are ridiculous, given what the Government has done to slow social mobility, says Archie Cornish
Vince Cable’s calls for elite universities to admit a greater proportion of working-class students or face financial penalties are a little empty. As of September, proposals state, “elite” universities will face penalties of up to £500,000 if they do not admit an externally set quota of state school students.
Cable is casting the Russell Group universities in the role many feel the banks occupy: rogue, self-interested institutions which burn and pillage society and must be slapped on the wrist, or better handcuffed. It is a piece of political evasiveness as cheap as David Cameron’s cack-handed (and inaccurate) observation last year that Oxford had only admitted one black student. The government’s ministers have always struggled to distance themselves from the institutions which propelled them into power, but are usually met with little more than impatience: Oxford and Imperial College London have reacted to the Business Secretary’s remarks by telling him to mind his own Business.
This government has severely damaged access for Britain’s universities. It introduced the infamous £9,000 maximum fees, which most of the big names are set to charge, and which were met with sometimes obnoxious (that flag-swinging) but undoubtedly serious protests. The government has always argued that it had to hike the fees given the economic climate, and while this may be true, there can be no excusing its atrocious presentation of the policy: the £9k bombshell was interpreted as a standard (rather than maximum) fee, and the its architects failed to emphasise the waivers and delays available for poorer students. When this year’s applications to UCAS were predicted to fall by 10 per cent in January, the sound of two and two being put together could .
Given how much the Coalition government has done to compromise poorer students’ access to top universities, it is ridiculous for Cable to portray them as obstacles in the path of reforms.
That’s not to say that reforms aren’t needed. Oxford, Cambridge and the other Russell Group universities have an unhealthy stranglehold on power and influence in Britain. More needs to be done to ensure that applicants from a wider range of schools get into top universities, so that the future elite is drawn from more than private schools and some exceptionally good state schools.
Oxford itself has decided to target prospective applicants not by school but by income, seeking out those whose families earn less than £16,000 a year, and who traditionally will not go to university. This makes greater social sense – but, unfortunately, poorer headlines. Michael Moritz’s donation of £75m, on the other hand, made a big splash. The welcome reception of the millionaire’s gift, which by next year will already assist 100 students, suggests that in the face of unrelenting funding cuts, universities must ramp up their strategies for targeting alumni for support.
True change in education needs more than money, though, just as real social mobility relies on more than quotas and figure-fixing. The director of the Sutton Trust, which last year rated Cambridge’s Oxbridge-feeder Hill’s Road Sixth Form College as an “elite institution”, explained the school’s success in terms of the high percentage of children whose parents are Cambridge dons. If this shows anything, it is that there is more to school success than the private-state dichotomy Cable relies on.
In contrast, Cable’s remarks are just not subtle enough. The top universities really are not evil opponents of change, and the government’s attempts to fashion themselves as crusaders for social mobility are transparent and hypocritical. Like so many proposed actions on universities, it is a surface solution to a deep, complex problem.
Britain’s “Academies” given power to hire unqualified teachers
I agree with this. I was a successful High School teacher despite having not one minute of teacher training
Thousands of state schools will be allowed to hire unqualified staff to teach for the first time because ministers believe the best teachers are “born, not made”.
Under existing rules, all mainstream state schools have had to ensure their teachers held “qualified teacher status” (QTS) after completing officially recognised training.
However, the Department for Education announced that academies will be given the same freedom that private schools have to hire anyone they think would succeed in the classroom.
Headteachers of academies will be able to employ professional scientists, engineers and musicians, or experienced staff from overseas, who could make excellent teachers but do not have QTS, the government said.
Under new contracts announced yesterday, all schools that become academies from November will automatically be given the new freedom to hire staff without QTS.
Michael Gove, the education secretary, will also allow all 1,957 existing academies, including around half of state secondary schools, to apply for the same power.
Mr Gove was unavailable for comment on his reforms, which are expected to be resisted by teachers’ unions.
The education secretary has already clashed with the two biggest teaching unions, the NASUWT and the NUT, over a series of changes that they say amount to an attack on teachers’ pay and working conditions.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Independent schools and Free Schools can already hire brilliant people who have not got QTS.
“We are extending this flexibility to all academies so more schools can hire great linguists, computer scientists, engineers and other specialists who have not worked in state schools before.”
The spokesman said the “vast majority” of teachers were likely to continue to have formal teaching qualifications, and that no existing teacher’s contract will be affected.
But the extra “flexibility” should help schools improve more quickly. Officials said schools would continue to be held accountable for the quality of teaching through Ofsted inspection and league tables.
Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College, a leading independent school, said an unqualified teacher who trains on the job is often better than someone with a postgraduate certificate in education.
“I strongly believe that teachers are born not made and I will actively seek out teachers from all walks of life who have the potential to inspire children,” he said. “We have 39 teachers without formal teaching qualifications, including me.”
However, Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, representing secondary heads, urged academies to ignore the reforms.
“Teaching is a skill, and the idea of employing individuals who have not been given the tools to do a professional job flies in the face of the coalition government’s aspiration of creating a high status profession,” he said.
“Of course subject knowledge makes a difference but it is no replacement for professional training.”
“This policy change is a retrograde step which ASCL would advise academies to ignore.”
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, accused the government of a “dereliction of duty.”
“All children deserve to be taught by qualified teachers,” she argued.
“Parents and teachers will see this as a cost-cutting measure that will cause irreparable damage to children’s education. Schools need a properly resourced team of qualified teachers and support staff, not lower investment dressed up as ‘freedoms’.”
Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: “While we welcome more professionals coming into teaching there need to be clear safeguards and ensure there is adequate training capacity in schools. If there are issues with teacher training and development, they should be addressed head on, not avoided.
“These kind of announcements should be presented to Parliament, not sneaked out hours before the Olympics opening ceremony.”
Twitter joke trial conviction quashed in Britain’s High Court
Joking has become dangerous in both Britain and America in recent years so it is refreshing that some sanity about it has finally emerged on at least this occasion
The country’s most senior judge has overturned a man’s conviction for joking about blowing up an airport on Twitter.
In an important High Court ruling the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said that the message posted online by Paul Chambers could not be considered “menacing”.
He pointed out that no one who saw the tweet thought it was a genuine bomb threat, and it was not sent to airport staff.
The joke about “blowing the airport sky high” was made in frustration at flights being cancelled because of the snow, and was only spotted five days later by an off-duty security manager.
“We have concluded that, on an objective assessment, the decision of the Crown Court that this ‘tweet’ constituted or included a message of a menacing character was not open to it. On this basis, the appeal against conviction must be allowed,” said the Lord Chief Justice, sitting with Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up — on his usual vastly “incorrect” themes of race, genes, IQ etc.