Scandal-hit hospital forced to pay £1m compensation for ‘inhumane and ‘degrading’ treatment of patients
A scandal-hit hospital where thirsty patients were forced to drink out of vases and others left to sit on their own excrement has paid out more than £1 million in compensation for ‘inhumane and degrading’ treatment.
Human Rights solicitor Emma Jones, who is part of a legal team representing more than 100 victims of alleged abuse at Stafford Hospital, said today that Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust paid out the significant sum to patients or their families.
The news comes a month ahead of the publication of the report of the public inquiry into the serious failings at the trust.
Inquiry chair Robert Francis QC said the report will be published in January. The £11 million inquiry, which was commissioned in 2010, is examining what went wrong at the trust between January 2005 and March 2009.
In 2009, a separate highly-critical report by the Healthcare Commission revealed a catalogue of failings at the trust and said “appalling standards” put patients at risk. Between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008, the Commission said.
In February 2010, an independent inquiry into events at the trust found it had ‘routinely neglected patients’.
Ms Jones said patients were left to sit in faeces for extended periods of time and food and drink were purposefully put out of reach with thirsty patients who forced to drink water out of flower vases.
She said: ‘Having visited the families of those who died, or victims who survived the horrors of this hospital, you cannot help but become angry and extremely worried that this is happening elsewhere, with the same excuses being given and blind eyes being cast to what is torture of the most vulnerable in a place where care should be the single most important feature.
‘We believe that care in some hospitals is so bad it continues to breach the European Convention on Human Rights.
‘We await the report into Stafford Hospital and hope that change does come to what is still a healthcare system to be proud of and which remains the envy of the world, but it needs to continually improve and learn lessons from when things go wrong and have the systems in place for these issues to come to the surface and not be buried under bureaucracy or, even worse, disguised for financial benefit.’
Most parents don’t want homosexual children, claims Tory MP David Davies
Mr Davies made the claim as he spoke out against David Cameron’s plans to allow same-sex couples to marry, including in some churches. Mr Davies, the MP for Monmouth, said the plan was “barking mad” and would cost the Conservative Party many of its traditional supporters.
In an interview with BBC Wales, he went on to say that “most parents” would prefer their children not to be homosexual.
He said: “I think most people are very tolerant and have no problem at all if people are gay but, and I hate to say this in a way because I expect it’s going to cause controversy, but I think most parents would prefer their children not to be gay, knowing most parents want grandchildren if nothing else.”
Some Conservative advocates of the same-sex marriage plan is an essential part of changing the party’s image in the eyes of some voters, who regard Tories as intolerant.
Critics of Mr Cameron’s plans say that they will actually bring the party few new votes while alienating a much larger number of its existing backers.
Mr Davies said: “We’re going to lose a large number of very loyal activists who’ve gone out and campaigned for us over the years and who don’t like this idea, so politically it’s barking mad”
He said that existing laws allowing same-sex couples to have civil partnerships could be changed to ensure full equality without going as far as church weddings. “I really don’t know why we need to go ahead with this at all.”
Lowering the Union Jack is a shameful surrender to Ulster’s gangsters
In a large part of this country, it is against the law to fly the Union Flag from government buildings for 348 days of the year. This has been so since the year 2000. As a special treat, it can be flown for the other 17 days. The rest of the time the flagpole stays bare.
The place where this law operates is Northern Ireland. I wonder how much longer we shall be able to fly our national flag in the rest of the United Kingdom, or even how much longer that flag will exist at all.
I think this is a shocking fact. I am one of the few British journalists who bothered to read the so-called ‘Good Friday’ Agreement under which this country capitulated to the gangsters of the Provisional IRA, under American pressure.
I know that we released hundreds of grisly criminals, destroyed our security apparatus and withdrew the Army in return for various unsigned and unenforceable promises from Sinn Fein and the IRA.
But even I did not know that this was one of its effects. Our national flag, you see, might offend someone. That is also the excuse for its recent removal from Belfast City Hall, which has led to so much bitterness and turmoil in that city.
But the reality is this. You haul down your flag when you surrender. And it was a surrender. I was amused to see that Mrs Hillary Clinton, that nasty hard Leftist now aiming for the White House, had her vote-winning visit to Northern Ireland spoiled by the flag riots on Friday.
How can you have riots and peace? The great pretence, that giving in to organised crime brings peace, was for once exposed. Northern Ireland’s poor and weak have never been so subject to intimidation and gangsterism, and I wonder if I will live to see the (sadly inevitable) day when Irish troops are putting down Orange riots on the Protestant Shankill Road, probably caused by illegal displays of the old Union Flag. Peace, indeed.
The squalid history of this event is a warning we refuse to heed and which is barely known here. I saw it happen, in Washington DC, astonished by the brusque and scornful treatment of my country by a nation I had foolishly seen as an ally.
I remember one very senior White House official letting slip to me that she thought of Britain as a sort of Serbia, just another place to intervene in, as Syria is now. I have laughed at the phrase ‘Special Relationship’ ever since.
I followed Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams round the USA, as this coffin-faced apologist for violence and terror was feted and adulated by Americans who would have shrunk from him had he spoken for any other cause but the Irish one.
I annoyed him so much with my inconvenient questions that he publicly said I should be ‘decommissioned’ and – on the one occasion we were ever alone together – showed me his less diplomatic, less humorous side.
What was this about? Mrs Clinton’s husband Bill needed working-class Roman Catholic votes to win the White House, votes his party had lost by backing abortion.
So he discovered the Irish cause, about which he knew little and (I suspect) cared less. He also took a lot of Irish-American campaign money. In 1993, Irish America, which these days means some very big business, tired of waiting for results and demanded action.
And so he acted, and so we were forced to make a shameful peace with the IRA, and haul down our flag over part of our own territory.
By the time the whole thing’s finished, St Patrick’s Cross will have to come out of that flag, and the harp will depart from the Royal Standard.
I think that when countries suffer defeats, they should admit to them and grieve over them, not pretend they have won. That way lie more defeats and more humiliations.
Schools should axe citizenship lessons and teach more British history, say MPs as they bid to halt decline in the subject
Schools should axe Labour’s citizenship classes and devote more time to British history studies, MPs will say today.
The idea is one of a string of measures being put forward to reverse the decline in history teaching which has seen the subject all but disappear in state schools in some parts of the country.
Research by the All-Party History Group found that fewer than 30 per cent of 16-year-olds in state schools were entered for the GCSE in 2010, compared with 55 per cent of pupils in grammar schools and 48 per cent in private schools. In one local authority area – Knowsley, in Merseyside – just four pupils passed the exam.
MPs said schools should be allowed to replace citizenship classes with history. Citizenship was introduced as a compulsory subject a decade ago. Pupils study topics such as crime, justice and politics, and how to be an ‘active citizen’ by voting and taking part in society. But critics say it is often poorly taught and of little value.
The group said there was a ‘wide educational divide in this country when it comes to studying history’, with teaching of the subject becoming concentrated in affluent areas.
In more deprived areas the subject is often ‘neglected or ignored’, with some head teachers shunning it because it is seen as difficult.
The cross-party group is calling on Education Secretary Michael Gove to introduce a series of measures to boost history teaching.
Last year Mr Gove expressed his horror at a survey that found that half of English 18 to 24-year-olds did not know that Nelson led the Royal Navy to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, with a similar proportion unaware that the Romans built Hadrian’s Wall.
Today’s report warns that children are taught too narrow a range of history, often learning about the Second World War and the Tudors several times during their school careers.
Even where a broader range of topics is taught, it is often done in a disjointed way, giving children little idea of how events in the past relate to one another. The report calls for the introduction of a new British history qualification at 16, which would look at the subject in chronological order.
MPs heard that making history compulsory to the age of 16 would be difficult because it would require a trebling of the number of history teachers. But they urged ministers to work towards the goal.
Tory MP Chris Skidmore, vice-chairman of the All-Party History Group, said: ‘An understanding of British history is vitally important for our national identity and understanding where we came from and where we are going.
‘I would prefer history to be compulsory to 16, as it is in most western countries, but for the moment, we should ensure that every pupil, regardless of background, gets the chance to study British history across a span of centuries.’
British government on ‘war footing’ with teaching unions expected to launch industrial action over pay as minister considers new anti-strike laws
Michael Gove is considering new anti-strike laws as he moves onto a ‘war footing’ with teaching unions who are expected to launch industrial action over the end of national pay deals.
Under the reforms announced last week, teachers’ annual rises of around £2,000 will be scrapped and head teachers given almost complete freedom to dictate salary increases based on performance in the classroom.
The Education Secretary believes the reform, allowing heads to reward the best teachers and freeze the pay of the least effective, would improve state education and make teaching a more attractive career choice for high-fliers.
But union barons have raised the prospect of industrial action, swiftly condemning the move as ‘disastrous’ and ‘unfair’ to long-serving staff.
A senior source at the Department for Education said the measures under consideration include legislation to make it more difficult to call strikes, challenging strikes in the courts possibly including the European Court of Human Rights, and making it easier for academies to sack sub-standard staff.
The source told The Sunday Times: ‘Gove’s team and officials have been working on this for 18 months. He regards giving heads the power to pay good teachers more as one of the fundamental pillars of the new system’.
Mr Gove’s department is said to be moving onto a ‘war footing’ as the minister made it clear internally that ‘he is prepared for the unions to have an all-out strike and that there will be no back-tracking’.
Currently teachers start on a salary of £21,588 and receive a virtually-guaranteed eight per cent pay rise annually in their early years.
The figures are set by national pay bargaining and teachers move up the main pay scale according to length of service in the classroom.
The system has meant that long-serving but under-performing teachers are paid the same as more capable colleagues.
Under proposed reforms, announced by Chancellor George Osborne in last week’s Autumn Statement, head teachers would in theory be able to promote a teacher from a starting salary to the maximum £51,000 in just six months.
The move – which will be put out to consultation – strikes at the heart of national pay bargaining and severely weakens the power of teaching unions.
Detailed national pay scales for teachers will be ripped up and replaced with three broad pay bands – starting at £21,804, £34,523 and £37,836 for teachers outside London.
It follows a report from the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) which recommended more freedom for schools to set pay. National pay arrangements for civil servants, prison officers and NHS staff will continue.
Heads will also be able to withhold the one per cent pay rise due for all public sector workers in 2013/14 and 2014/15. Only those on the lowest salaries will be guaranteed the increase.
The National Union of Teachers claim that the proposals ‘shake our pay arrangements to their foundations’ and will ‘lead to unnecessary conflict between heads and teachers.’
Its leader Christine Blower and Chris Keates of the NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) are meeting this week to discuss their response to the pay overhaul.
They have mandates for full strikes following ballots of their 430,000 members in England. Miss Blower said strike action ‘remains an option but it will be a last resort.’
The Department for Education source added: ‘A full national strike is regarded as a price worth paying to change the culture and break the destructive power of Keates and Blower. Resources are being moved internally to prepare for strikes. Lawyers are being discreetly spoken to.’