Shocked father takes his own pillows and duvet into £170m hospital after finding son ‘shivering under blood-stained sheets’
A retired schoolmaster took his own pillows and duvet into a new £170 million hospital wing because he was so shocked by the conditions in which his son was being treated. James Handy, 74, said his son William, 50, was ‘shivering’ under blood-stained sheets at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
He also claimed that, when he raised concerns about mess on the ward, a nurse told him cleaners had refused to come in because they feared catching an infection.
Scotland’s Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, who officially opened the hospital wing yesterday, has described the alleged incidents as ‘completely and utterly unacceptable’, and an investigation is under way.
Mr Handy, of Kilconquhar, Fife, made the complaint while his son, a diabetic, was receiving treatment for porosis of the stomach – a condition whereby his stomach often rejects food.
He took matters into his own hands by visiting a nearby shop and buying fresh pillows and a light duvet.
Mr Handy said: ‘They said he couldn’t get an extra blanket or pillow because people had been stealing them. ‘It was the same for the man in the next bed who has terminal cancer. ‘There was blood on the pillow and blood on the sheets. The blood had turned black it was so old.
‘Credit to the nurse. When I raised it she changed it straight away. ‘But there was also debris on the floor, stuff like dust, and bits of paper. ‘When I complained about this, the nurse said the cleaners won’t come in in case they catch an infection.’
The ward was colder than normal because of a fault with the wing’s new heating system.
Mr Handy, a retired teacher for the deaf, said he also offered to purchase bedding for the gravely ill man in the bed next to his son, but the patient had already contacted his own family in a desperate bid to keep warm.
He said: ‘My son, like each one of my children, is so important to me and the thought of him suffering makes me upset and very angry. ‘We just had to speak up so that something was done and no one else has to endure this.
‘You pay taxes hoping that when you need to use public services they will be there – but it’s simply not the case. ‘To think Nicola Sturgeon was swanning around pretending everything was great when this was all happening behind the scenes is just unbelievable.’
Mr Handy said his son was transferred to another ward over the weekend but had still had trouble getting extra bedding.
Speaking from his hospital bed, William Handy said he had been ‘utterly dumbfounded’ by the ‘shocking’ level of care. He revealed that at one stage a male nurse even joked to him that he he would be ‘lucky to make it out alive’.
I couldn’t believe what he was saying to me,’ he said. ‘He had been moaning on about having to do his job and then, when he had to clean something off the floor, he made some remark to me and the chap beside me about the level of cleanliness and said we would be lucky to make it out alive.
‘That is not an appropriate thing for a nurse to joke about. ‘I have to have surgery later this week and it certainly didn’t fill me with confidence.’
The member of staff has been reported to management.
William Handy said: ‘I was visited by the head of nursing, who apologised personally and assured me an investigation was to take place but it’s really too little too late.
‘They spend millions and millions on a fancy new building but don’t want to fork out for vital things such as clean bedding and enough staff.’
When asked about the allegations, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘Obviously I don’t know all the details on this individual case but if that is the case then it’s completely and utterly unacceptable.’
NHS Fife’s director of nursing, Caroline Inwood, said they were aware of Mr Hardy’s complaint and were investigating.
Mr Handy’s complaint comes only a week after a patient at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, in Larbert, Stirlingshire, was told her operation was cancelled because medics had run out of bandages.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said that she spent more an hour being prepared for the operation before being told it was off.
A spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley said it was ‘sorry’ that the operation was ‘unable to proceed due to a temporary delay in the delivery of certain sterile bandages from the national NHS distribution centre’.
Third of women with right to IVF rejected by GPs who don’t know enough about fertility treatment
Health trusts are routinely denying treatment for women despite the fact they are eligible under official guidelines from health watchdog NICE. Even if women are referred for IVF, many are forced to wait more than two years for it to start during which time the chance of success dwindles as their bodies age.
A report based on a survey of 456 couples also reveals an alarming lack of faith in family doctors over fertility treatment.
Nearly half said their GP did not have sufficient knowledge and many were told to go away and keep trying without even being referred to a clinic.
Recently a major study ranked Britain near the bottom of a European league table on spending for fertility treatment with even Serbia, Montenegro and Slovakia paying more to help childless couples.
As many as one in six couples are thought to suffer from infertility which is defined as being unable to conceive naturally after trying for three years.
But this report by the National Infertility Awareness Campaign (NIAC) shows that 38 per cent are being wrongly denied treatment to help them have children by their NHS trust.
Susan Seenan, of the charity Infertility Network UK, said: ‘It’s shocking and blatantly wrong. Primary care trusts are just trying to ration treatment. ‘The problem is that NICE only provides guidance so PCTs are free to set their own, stricter policies. Some say that IVF is a lifestyle choice but no one would chose to be infertile.
‘We know the NHS has limited resources but all couples want is to be treated fairly.’
Guidelines from NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, say couples should be offered three rounds or ‘cycles’ of IVF paid for by the Health Service.
They must be aged between 23 and 39, however, and have been trying naturally for at least three years. But many PCTs are trying to save money by ignoring these guidelines and replacing them with their own far stricter policies to try to save money. These include narrowing the age range to 30 to 35 or not paying for couples if they have children from previous relationships.
The report also found that 27 per cent of couples waited longer than a year for the IVF to begin after first being referred to a specialist, including 12 per cent who waited two years.
In fact, 45 per cent of couples who responded ended up paying for the treatment privately as the waiting lists were too long.
IVF normally costs between £3,000 and £4,000 but nearly a quarter of those who went private paid more than £10,000 for the treatment, according to the survey.
It also found that 51 per cent of couples believed their GP to be either ‘unsympathetic’ or ‘lacking sufficient knowledge’. One couple were told by their family doctor that their infertility was ‘in their head’. And a woman whose partner already had children from a previous relationship was asked by her GP ‘why would you want any more?’
Another couple who had been trying for a baby for seven years were told to come back again in another two if they still hadn’t been successful.
Clare Lewis-Jones, chairman of NIAC and chief executive of Infertility Network UK, said: ‘Infertility treatment has for too long been seen as a low priority, failing the one in six couples who live with the devastating impact this illness has on their lives.
‘The stress of IVF is unavoidable. What is avoidable, however, is the exacerbation of these effects through reductions to services and long waiting times.’
Last year a report by MPs found that nearly three-quarters of PCTs were refusing to provide the recommended three cycles of treatment with several not offering any IVF at all.
The high rate of African insanity
I don’t suppose I am allowed to mention that so let me reproduce what the do-gooders say. It is a promotion for a conference to be held in London:
PSYCHIATRIC LABELS ON A MULTI-ETHNIC SOCIETY
There is increasing concern among service users, psychologists, social workers and some psychiatrists about the use of specific labels, especially ‘schizophrenia’, to describe complex problems of living; and the view is has growing that psychiatric labelling is damaging and promotes stigma. Black and some other ethnic minorities seem to suffer most, young African-Caribbean men in particular being much more likely to be labelled ‘schizophrenic’, admitted to hospital on section, and forced to receive neuroleptic drugs. As a result, psychiatry itself is being experienced as oppressive and racist and it is not clear why psychiatry still continues to give such importance to diagnosis.
This conferences will look critically at psychiatric labelling and its effects on BME communities.
The conference aims to bring together academics, researchers, practitioners including health and social care workers, and mental health clinicians who have researched in this field and/or have experience in providing medical, psychological and social care interventions across fields.
We must define the high rate of black insanity out of existence, in other words — JR
Middle class people more likely to do what the do-gooders tell them
Whether that is what makes them healthier is not establshed, however
The middle classes are getting healthier by giving up bad habits as the less well-off fail to get the message, a report has found.
The increasing social class divide in health will put ‘unavoidable pressure’ on an already hard-pressed NHS, it says.
The report, from the influential King’s Fund health think-tank, says many poorer people are failing to give up habits such as smoking and eating junk food.
Researchers analysed official data from England covering four behaviours linked to disease and early death: smoking; excess alcohol use; poor diet and sedentary lifestyles.
These bad habits account for almost half the burden of ill health in developed countries and are linked to everything from heart problems and diabetes to cancer.
They found the number of people engaging in three or four of these risky behaviours fell from 33 per cent in 2003 to 25 per cent in 2008.
But the ‘significant’ change was very different among the social classes. The report found ‘these reductions have been seen mainly among those in higher socioeconomic and educational groups’.
Those with no educational qualifications were more than five times as likely as those with degrees to engage in four key damaging behaviours in 2008, compared with three times as likely in 2003.
‘The health of the overall population will improve as a result of the decline in these behaviours, but the poorest and those with the least education will benefit least, leading to widening health inequalities and unavoidable pressure on the NHS’, the report says.
It found the better off someone was, the more likely they were to have begun living a healthier life during 2003-08 – when the Labour government embarked on a campaign for healthier living.
David Buck, a senior fellow at the King’s Fund who was head of health inequalities at the Department of Health until 2010, led the research. He said: ‘The widening… gap is due to the improvement in those at the top, and, to a lesser degree, those in the middle, not because those at the bottom have got worse per se. They’re stuck in a rut.’
Those from poorer backgrounds or with less education are more likely to develop long-term conditions such as cancer and diabetes earlier and to experience them more severely, Mr Buck said. He added: ‘As well as this being a public health problem, this does also store up problems for the NHS in future.’
The report warns about 70 per cent of adults in England still engage in two of the four habits.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has pledged to ‘improve the health of the poorest fastest’, with the better-off currently living seven years longer on average.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘We are working hard to tackle health inequalities – from next year, local authorities will receive a specific public health budget for the first time, targeted at the areas that need it most.’