Stroke victim, 82, forced to wait an HOUR for a life-saving ambulance because health and safety rules demanded paramedic crews take a break
A stroke victim was forced to wait an hour for an ambulance because staff were on a ‘meal break’.
Carl Brown, 47, found his retired cook mum Pauline slumped in her chair when he returned to their Liverpool home. He rushed to get his sister-in-law who lived four doors down before making the first 999 call.
But an hour lapsed before a crew finally arrived at the family home with the driver admitting managers had forced them to take a break.
The delay came despite a high profile government TV advertising campaign entitled Act F.A.S.T which set out the symptoms of a stroke and the need to seek prompt medical attention.
Carl said: ‘We’ve all seen the adverts that say “act fast after a stroke,” but we had to wait an hour for the ambulance.
‘The driver said to me “this is unofficial but we saw your mum’s job pop up on our screens, but we were told you’ve got to have your 20 minute break.” ‘I just think people should know this, it’s appalling.’
Wavertree MP Luciana Berger said the situation ‘beggars belief’ adding: ‘The ambulance service have got very serious questions to answer.’
Launching an investigation the North West Ambulance Service apologised for the distress caused to the family by the wait. A spokesperson added: ‘In line with health & safety regulations, staff are required to take a meal/rest break during their shift.
‘This rest break is necessary to ensure the welfare of our staff in what is both a physical and demanding job. ‘These breaks are staggered so that there is minimal effect on the resource levels.
‘We offer our most sincere apologies for any distress that may have been caused for this patient and their family, whilst waiting for an ambulance.’
Mrs Brown suffered the stroke 12 days ago when Paul returned to the home in Stonebill Road, Old Swan, on September 14. The first 999 call was made at 5.16pm as other family members and neighbours rushed around to help while the emergency operator gave instructions down the phone on what to do. When help finally arrived, his mum was rushed to hospital and later transferred to Broadgreen Hospital.
Describing the lasting effects caused by the stroke he said she could answer ‘yes’ to some questions. But he added: ‘She’s not going to get any better and her quality of life is not going to improve. ‘She paid her taxes all her life and should have had an ambulance when she needed it.’
Around 150,000 people across the UK suffer a stroke each year which disrupts the flow of blood to the brain.
The government’s advertising campaign to raise awareness of getting help to stroke victims quickly was launched under the banner Face, Arms, Speech and Time.
It asks ‘has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile? Can they raise both arms and keep them there? Is their speech slurred? Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs.’
Arrogant government doctors
Increasing numbers of patients are being banned from seeing their GP just for making a complaint, campaigners warn. They risk being unfairly struck off their surgery’s list for reporting that their doctor has been rude or the practice has refused to offer them an appointment.
Some family doctors are even forcing patients to undertake a phone interview before booking an appointment to ensure they are ill enough to be seen.
The Patients Association said there has been a surge in the volume of calls to its helpline concerning ‘dismissive’ or ‘disrespectful’ GPs.
The charity – which mainly deals with patients who have suffered poor hospital care – says the proportion of calls made to its helpline about GPs has doubled in just two years.
Members of the public are increasingly reporting being unfairly struck off a surgery’s list and refused any future appointments, it says. Its survey of 500 patients found nearly one in 20 had been removed at some point after having made a complaint.
Under Department of Health guidelines, surgeries must have a valid reason for striking patients off and have to give at least one warning beforehand. Patients can be removed – or deregistered – if the practice deems there has been an ‘irrevocable breakdown’ in their relationship with their GP or staff.
Last year the Health Service Ombudsman warned entire families were being struck off over trivial disagreements with doctors or even complaining that receptionists aren’t answering the phone. One patient was removed after voicing concerns staff had lost her medical records.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients’ Association, said: ‘There is a shockingly significant number removed from lists after making a complaint. ‘Even more worrying, there are many more patients who do not raise genuine concerns because they fear being taken off the list.’
She said there should be tough sanctions for doctors and practices found to be unfairly striking patients off.
The helpline said that of the 8,000 calls it receives each year, the proportion concerning GPs doubled in the past 12 months. They now represent a quarter of all calls, up from 11 per cent last year.
One patient said before he was allowed to book an appointment the doctor carried out a three-minute phone interview to establish whether the patient really needed to see him. Another contacted the charity because her GP was ‘rude’ and ‘dismissive’. She was afraid to report this in case she was struck off their list.
Obnoxious plans for secret justice coming unglued: British Liberals unlikely to back Bill after party vote
That Britain’s Conservatives are supporting this shows how spineless and unprincipled they have become
Nick Clegg suffered a humiliating setback yesterday when his party conference voted to scrap controversial plans for a major extension of ‘secret justice’ courts. Delegates in Brighton voted overwhelmingly for the widely criticised Justice and Security Bill to be abandoned.
The move means Lib Dem peers are almost certain to refuse to back the legislation in the House of Lords.
The Daily Mail has led criticism of the Government’s plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’, in which cases are conducted entirely in private, in any civil hearing.
Defendants or claimants will not be allowed to be present, know or challenge the case against them and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate, rather than their own lawyer.
Currently, such procedures are used in only a tiny number of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Government wants to extend them across the civil courts.
Mr Clegg has forced the Government to make a number of concessions, including abandoning the idea of extending secret justice to inquest hearings.
But critics say the proposals still represent a fundamental breach of traditional principles of open justice, and accuse the Government of allowing the security services to dictate the legislation.
Spy chiefs were deeply embarrassed by civil court claims against them by terror suspects, which had to be settled out of court rather than having sensitive intelligence material discussed in open hearings.
Last night Lib Dem members voted through a motion calling on their MPs and peers to ‘press for the withdrawal or defeat’ of the Bill, even in its amended form.
Baroness Ludford, the party’s European justice and human rights spokesman and a London MEP, said: ‘Our party’s core values are at stake on this Bill. Standing up for all the proud traditions of our common law system – open justice, the rule of law, accountability of the state for human rights abuses, redress for victims – is essential.’
She added: ‘Secret courts could mean impunity for state officials complicit in wrongdoing like torture.
‘If a government puts material before a judge in private, it can’t be called proper evidence. Material which is unchallenged can positively mislead. ‘We can and should trust judges, not the state, to distinguish between genuine national security interests and attempted cover-ups.
‘Nick Clegg said we should distinguish those policies we would die in the ditch for from those we could compromise on. Please jump into the ditch on this one, Nick.’
Lib Dem peer Lord Strasburger said the proposed legislation was ‘hopelessly flawed and beyond repair’, adding: ‘This Bill is bad for transparency. It’s unfair, it’s illiberal.
He added that Mr Clegg would now have to tell David Cameron that the party would no longer support the legislation as it made its way through Parliament. Parliamentary candidate Jo Shaw told the conference the families of those killed in the Hillsborough disaster could just as easily be excluded from court hearings as victims of torture under extraordinary rendition.
‘Evidence that has not been seen and challenged by the other side is not evidence at all. ‘Secret justice practically isn’t justice. It’s a dangerous perversion of justice.’
Sources close to the Lib Dem leadership suggested last night it would seek further changes to the legislation.
Lord Wallace, a government law officer, said: ‘We will continue to work with parliamentarians from all sides, to ensure that the principles of open justice are protected.’
Army reservists are suffering ‘outrageous’ discrimination from ‘despicable’ British employers, says Duke of Westminster
Army reservists are suffering “outrageous” discrimination from “despicable” British employers who are refusing to hire them because of their service in the armed forces, according to the former head of the Territorial Army.
The Duke of Westminster, who as a two star major general quit as the army reserve’s commander earlier this month, said that foreign firms were much more likely to release staff to serve with the Army Reserve than “English companies”.
In his first interview since leaving the TA after 42 years’ service, the Duke also suggested there should be new National Insurance tax breaks for companies which employ reservists.
He also shed light on his plans for a £300million rehabilitation centre for wounded soldiers in the Midlands, disclosing that it could also include a new Government centre to research how to private sector back to work more quickly after illness.
The army is facing its biggest overhaul for decades, with 20,000 regular servicemen losing their jobs by 2020 and the loss being in part made up by a big boost in the number of TA battle ready soldiers, up to 30,000 from 20,000 today.
However, attempts to recruit are being hampered by employers which are discriminating against new recruits because of concerns about time off to train or to be deployed overseas in Afghanistan for months at a time.
The Duke told The Daily Telegraph in an interview on Monday: “There is undoubtedly positive discrimination against someone who at interview says he is in the Territorial Army.”
Application forms routine asked “Are you in the Territorial Army”, when employers were not allowed by law to ask if an applicant was pregnant, black, white or a Muslim.
He said: “Why is it there? It is the most outrageous form of discrimination. It is like asking – ‘do you play golf at weekends?’ It has been mentioned to me by my soldiers on more than 100 occasions.”
Foreign companies were far more willing to make staff available to serve in the TA than “English employers”, he said, suggesting existing rules about discrimination should be tightened up.
The Duke, Britain’s seventh richest man with a property empire worth £7.35billion, suggested cutting National Insurance bills which take reservists onto their payroll. He said: “It will cost hardly anything.”
The Duke’s ideas – including renaming the TA as the Army Reserve – are likely to be considered in an MoD review into the future of the Territorial Army next month.
His focus now is to raise funds for a new £300million Defence National Rehabilitation Centre in the east Midlands, to replace an existing armed forces rehabilitation centre in Surrey.
The Duke bought the 145 hectare site, including Stanford Hall, for “rather more than” a reported £6million and is actively fund-raising from private donors.
He said: “I want to create a feeling that when a wounded solider goes there [he thinks] ‘Wow, someone is going to look after me’.”
The Duke added he had no regrets about quitting the TA, which he commanded between February 2011 and the beginning of this month.
He said: “I am not one to hang on to be a general for the sake of being a general. There are more generals than there are dukes anyway.”
Let your children go tree-climbing: National Trust attacks British parents who mollycoddle
Children are being cut off from nature by mollycoddling parents who refuse to let them play out in the rain, climb trees and get dirty, according to a National Trust inquiry.
In a report out today, the charity urges parents to give youngsters wellies and a raincoat and send them outdoors to build dens, make mud pies and go bug-hunting.
It warns that children are increasingly leading ‘sedentary and sheltered’ lives due to health and safety fears, the rise of indoor entertainment such as video games and the decline of outdoor activities in school.
Council bureaucrats and police sometimes have ‘negative attitudes’ and regard outdoor play as ‘something to be stopped rather than encouraged’. But parents are the most powerful influence over their children’s exposure to nature and the countryside, the two-month inquiry concluded.
Interviews with groups of children found that many had picked up messages from their parents that the outdoors is dangerous and they shouldn’t go out in the rain in case they ‘slip or catch a cold’. Activities such as climbing trees were also seen as too risky.
Only older boys were regularly allowed out without an adult, with others closely supervised, according to the interviews conducted by research firm Childwise on behalf of the Trust.
Grandparents also have a role to play, according to the inquiry, since they are likely to have spent more time outdoors as children and could pass this on to younger generations. The National Trust inquiry, which canvassed the views of organisations and members of the public as well as children, also found that youngsters’ time is ‘over-scheduled and pressured’ – often with activities that cost money.
‘The power of family life in shaping children’s experiences was perhaps the most emphatic message underlined by respondents,’ the report said. The inquiry was launched following the publication of a report in March, commissioned by the Trust, which found that children’s health and well-being was being damaged because they are losing touch with nature.
Stephen Moss, the naturalist and broadcaster who wrote the report, warned that youngsters were suffering from ‘nature deficit disorder’ and growing up ‘a generation of weaklings’.
British deputy PM reveals £50m for ‘catch-up’ tuition
Good if it happens but a disgrace that it is needed. Getting duffers to summer camps is a bit of a laugh
Children starting secondary school without acceptable levels of English and maths will be sent to specialist summer camps or receive intensive one-to-one tuition under a scheme to be announced by Nick Clegg.
More than 100,000 pupils are to receive “catch up” teaching to ensure that those who fall behind at primary school are not disadvantaged permanently.
Schools will be given £500 to pay for intensive tutoring for any child who fails to reach level four in the Key Stage Two exams taken when leaving primary education at 11. The first money will be paid out in January to allow children starting secondary school this month to receive the extra tutoring.
In his speech to the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton today, the deputy Prime Minister will say that the scheme will help prepare children for the new, tougher exams to be introduced to replace GCSEs.
“If you’re a parent whose child has fallen behind; who fears they might get lost in that daunting leap from primary to secondary school and who is worried by talk about making exams tougher, let me reassure you: we will do whatever it takes to make sure your child is not left behind,” he will say. “A place in a summer school; catch-up classes; one-to-one tuition; we are providing the help they need. So yes, we’re raising the bar. But we’re ensuring every child can clear it too.”
It is understood that the funding for catch-up classes was agreed as part of the negotiations between Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and Mr Clegg that will allow GCSEs to be replaced with the more challenging exams from 2017. Mr Clegg is expected to stress in his speech that improving social mobility by improving the education system is his central aim in government.
“We will only fulfil our collective economic potential if we fulfil our individual human potential,” he will say. “Yet the legacy of educational inequality in Britain is an economy operating at half power, with far too many young people never getting the qualifications they could get, never doing the jobs they could do, never earning the wages they could earn.
“The true cost of this cannot be counted in pounds and pence. Yes, it’s a huge drag on our economy, but more than that, it is an affront to natural justice and to everything we Liberal Democrats stand for.” Evidence shows that pupils who are behind in English and maths when they start secondary school will struggle at GCSEs.
Only 30 per cent of those not achieving Level 4 in reading at the end of primary school go on to get at least five top grades in their end of school exams.
Senior Lib Dem sources said the scheme was important even if likely to prove unpopular with some children, who may feel stigmatised in front of their new secondary school classmates. “Education policy can’t be dictated by the tactics of playground bullies,” said one.