How I saved my father from Liverpool Care Pathway two years after mother endured ‘agonising’ death on the system, by Tory MP
An MP told movingly yesterday how she saved her father from the Liverpool Care Pathway, two years after her mother endured an ‘agonising’ death on the system.
Fiona Bruce said she was told ‘almost casually’ by a nurse that doctors had decided to remove life-saving treatment from her 83-year-old father, despite not having consulted relatives. She moved him into a nursing home where, six months on, he is thriving.
Her mother died after she was placed on the controversial system following a brain tumour operation.
Mrs Bruce spoke out during a Parliamentary debate on the pathway, in which MP after MP criticised the way it is being implemented in hospitals.
In a separate development, senior doctors conceded the LCP has become a ‘euphemism for death’, with families ‘frightened’ about their relatives going on it.
Dr Bee Wee, president of the Association for Palliative Medicine, said the checklist for LCP patients was sometimes used unthinkingly by staff. ‘We know that training deficiencies exist,’ she said. ‘If people are getting bad care, we need to get to the bottom of it.’
In the Commons debate, one MP claimed patients were being killed with ‘machine-like efficiency’ with fewer than 5 per cent of patients placed on the LCP ever taken off it.
Another said failure to inform a family that a patient was being put on the scheme was tantamount to ‘murder’ and that doctors who did so should ‘face the legal consequences’.
Care Services Minister Norman Lamb, who following a Daily Mail campaign ordered an independent inquiry into the pathway which will report by the summer, said he had been ‘personally horrified’ by accounts of food and drink being inappropriately withdrawn.
It was ‘non-negotiable’ that relatives should always be consulted, he said.
Every year, 130,000 people die on the pathway, under which doctors remove life-saving treatment. In December it emerged that almost half are never told that treatment is being removed.
Mrs Bruce, vice chairman of the parliamentary Dying Well group, said that in her mother’s case ‘it took her weeks to pass away, which was agonising for her, and heart-rending for her family. There was no discussion, no consultation with the daughter.’
Last summer, her father was taken to hospital feeling unwell, she told MPs. Doctors could not diagnose any illness, although he was very frail. After a few days, Mrs Bruce asked a nurse how he was doing.
The MP for Congleton recalled: ‘“Oh,” said the nurse, almost casually, “he’s not very well at all. He has not long to live; we’re putting him on the Liverpool Care Pathway.” No discussion, no explanation, no consultation; just an announcement. Surely there should be more formality about this, more dignity.’
A day later, he was moved to a nursing home. ‘There, his needs were attended to in a positive and caring way,’ Mrs Bruce said. ‘There he didn’t die. In fact, he got better. Now, well over six months later, that elderly man is very much alive, still being cared for: eating well, enjoying visits from his family. It’s not a fantastic quality of life – but it is a life.’
NHS watchdog ‘is failing us’ after missing scandals in hospitals and care homes
The health watchdog has lost the confidence of the public after missing some of the worst scandals in hospitals and care homes, according to MPs.
The Care Quality Commission is not carrying out enough adequate inspections to ensure patients are not at risk, they said.
In a scathing report, MPs from the health select committee warn that ‘patients, relatives and the public do not have confidence in the CQC’s standards or the outcomes of its inspections’.
The watchdog had declared that the maternity unit at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay trust in Cumbria, where up to seven babies died, was providing ‘safe’ and ‘high-quality’ care.
The CQC also failed to act after being contacted by a whistleblower at Winterbourne View care home, in Bristol, where staff were torturing adults with learning difficulties. It inspected the home only after a BBC Panorama investigation.
The CQC is responsible for 30,000 care homes, hospitals and GP practices. Last February its chief executive, Cynthia Bower, was forced to resign, albeit with a £1.4million pension pot. It has since promised to overhaul the way it is run.
Inspectors visited the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay trust in Cumbria in 2010 and claimed that it was meeting all ‘essential standards’.
But the maternity unit is now the centre of a police investigation over the deaths of seven babies and two mothers since 2008 and a coroner has warned that midwives may have ‘colluded’ to alter medical records and cover up their mistakes.
And the Winterbourne View care home in Bristol has since been closed down and six workers have been jailed for neglect and abuse.
The report says the watchdog needs to ‘raise the bar’ when inspecting care homes.
Often the CQC inspects a home and concludes it is safe – even though patients and relatives are concerned the care is poor.
The watchdog has been repeatedly criticised over the last two years amid concerns it is not protecting the public.
Tory MP Stephen Dorrell, chair of the committee said: ‘The CQC’s primary focus should be to ensure that the public has confidence that its inspections provide an assurance of acceptable standards in care and patient safety. ‘We do not believe that the CQC has yet succeeded in this objective.
‘The CQC needs to ensure that its inspections represent a challenging process which is designed to find service shortcomings where they exist, ensure, when appropriate that service providers address them rapidly, and report promptly both to providers and users of the service.
‘The CQC also needs to show that it treats feedback from the public as free intelligence and that it acts swiftly when serious complaints are brought to light this way.’
David Behan, the CQC’s new chief executive said: ‘In our strategic review we consulted widely on a clear statement of our purpose and role.
‘We also set out our intentions to improve how we communicate with the public, make better use of information, and work more effectively as an organisation and with others, including those who provide care.
‘We have already begun to make some of these changes and will continue this process next year.’
Say bonjour to cheaper childcare: Ministers study French-style nurseries to double the number of children staff can look after
Childminders and nurseries will be able to double the number of children they look after under radical plans to cut care bills for working families.
Ministers are considering a move to copy French childcare rules where each member of staff can look after up to eight children. In England the limit is just four toddlers.
It is hoped that reducing the red-tape burden on employers will help to bring down childcare bills which sees British parents spending more than a quarter of their income on looking after their children.
Education minister Liz Truss today signalled she wants to tear up ‘onerous requirements on numbers’ to bring reduce nursery bills.
Britain has some of the highest childcare costs in the world, meaning the typical mother with one child and a full-time job needs to work for up to four months of the year just to break even. Millions with two or more children conclude it is not worth working at all.
But Miss Truss said the problem could be tackled without additional government funding.
She pointed to ‘strong examples’ in Europe where rules on staff ratios are less stringent, which would enable nurseries to employ fewer, better-paid staff.
The minister warned that in the UK some poorly-paid childcare workers do not have good qualifications in English and maths ‘yet we expect them to help our young children learn to speak and do their first sums’.
In France Écoles Maternelles offer traditional nursery style teaching by teachers in large groups of 3 and 4 year olds and the government there is about to extend them to disadvantaged two-year-olds. French crèches for the under-3s are also in much demand, Miss Truss said.
‘They operate with fewer staff who are better qualified and better paid than their English equivalents,’ she said in an article for the ConservativeHome website.
In France, staff are paid over £16,000 and are responsible for up to eight toddlers. The figure in Ireland and Holland is up to six children.
By comparison, nursery staff in England earn £13,000 and can be responsible for no more than four toddlers.
Miss Truss said: ‘In England, we need to move to a simpler, clearer system that prioritises quality and safety over excessive bureaucracy.
‘We also need to think about the balance between the number and quality of staff in our system.
‘It is no coincidence that we have the most restrictive adult-child ratios for young children of comparable European countries as well as the lowest staff salaries.
‘Our ratios put a cap on the salaries staff can be paid because of onerous requirements on numbers. ‘If staff are being paid barely more than minimum wage, nurseries struggle to retain and recruit high quality people.’
However, Labour warned a move towards the French system could harm the quality of care.
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: ‘David Cameron is presiding over a childcare crisis – with 381 Sure Start centres shut down, spiralling costs for working parents and less support through tax credits.
‘Now his own Children’s minister says they plan to cut the number of nursery staff – which experts say will threaten child safety and the quality of care for toddlers.’
Ministers are expected to set out a major overhaul of childcare next week.
In addition to changes to staffing ratios, it is likely to include generous tax breaks being offered to families with children under five who need to pay for nurseries and childminders.
Senior coalition figures are to meet later this week to finalise a deal expected to be worth up to £2,000 per year per child for all working parents.
The favoured model would more than make up for the loss of child benefit for better-off families that comes into effect today – but only for those where both parents work.
The crazy climate change obsession that’s made Britain’s Met Office a menace
Below is a “Daily Mail” article, which will be read by millions
Was there ever a government quango quite so useless as the Met Office? From its infamous ‘barbecue summer’ washout of 2009 to the snowbound winter it failed to predict in 2010 and the recent forecast-defying floods, our £200 million-a-year official weather forecaster has become a national joke.
But of all its recent embarrassments, none come close to matching the Met Office’s latest one.
Without fanfare — apparently in the desperate hope no one would notice — it has finally conceded what other scientists have known for ages: there is no evidence that ‘global warming’ is happening.
The Met Office quietly readjusted its temperature projections on its website on Christmas Eve. Until then, it had been confidently predicting temperature rises of at least 0.2 degrees per decade, with a succession of years exceeding even the record-breaking high of 1998.
Its latest chart, however, confirmed in a press release earlier this week, tells a very different story: no more global warming is expected till at least 2017.
According to Dr David Whitehouse of the independent think-tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the climbdown couldn’t be more dramatic or more devastating for the Met Office’s credibility.
‘They’re panicking. All the predictions they’ve been making about man-made global warming these past 20 years have started to come crashing about their ears.’
For two decades the Met Office has acted as Britain’s foremost cheerleader for climate change alarmism. In 2007, its Hadley Centre for climate change research produced a briefing document for the Government claiming its state-of-the-art computer models left no doubt: man-made global warming was a very real threat which needed to be addressed urgently by policy-makers.
‘The Met Office Hadley Centre has the highest concentration of outstanding people who do outstanding work, spanning the breadth of modelling, attribution, and date analysis, of anywhere in the world,’ claimed an expert from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) in the document.
Many in the Government were impressed for, a year later, the 2008 Climate Change Act was passed by an overwhelming majority.
The act has been described by veteran journalist Christopher Booker as the most expensive legislation in history, committing the government to as much as £734 billion (£18.3 billion a year for the next 40 years) in extra spending to ‘decarbonise’ the economy. It is also one of the reasons why our countryside is being ruined by ugly, noisy wind turbines.
But what if carbon dioxide isn’t the culprit for global temperature changes? What if all the expensive, economy-ravaging, job-killing, environmentally destructive measures we’ve taken have been a spectacular waste of money?
If so, the Met Office will be attacked for being not just risibly incompetent — but an active menace both to the integrity of science and to the nation’s wellbeing.
Hence its defiant attempts to argue that nothing has changed and it’s business as usual.
‘The fact the new model predicts less warming, globally, for the coming five years does not necessarily tell us anything about long-term predictions of climate change for the coming century,’ it claimed yesterday. In other words: ‘Never mind that global warming stopped in 1997. It will come back with a vengeance one day. We’re just not quite so sure when.’
This latest embarrassment comes just days after the Met Office was lambasted for yet another misleading claim, about the recent flooding. It said this is part of a growing national trend towards ‘extreme’ weather — as also heavily promoted by the BBC’s Environmental Analyst Roger Harrabin, and by scaremongering documentaries such as Channel 4’s Is Our Weather Getting Worse?
According to the Met, Britain is apparently experiencing more rain by volume and intensity. ‘We have always seen a great deal of variability in UK extreme rainfall because our weather patterns are constantly changing, but this analysis suggests we are seeing a shift in our rainfall behaviour,’ said the Met Office’s top scientist, Professor Julia Slingo.
‘There’s evidence to say we are getting slightly more rain in total, but more importantly it may be falling in more intense bursts — which can increase the risk of flooding.’
But these claims appeared to be at best a dangerous fudge, at worst a complete nonsense. As is clear from the Met Office’s own data — the England and Wales precipitation records dating back to 1766 — there has been nothing particularly abnormal about the recent rain.
Not only were there two years, 1872 and 1768, wetter than the supposed record-breaking year of 2012; but also, the Met Office appeared to have overlooked two very dry years (2003 and 2011) to prove its narrative that the past ten years have been the ‘wettest decade ever’.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation’s Dr David Whitehouse believes the very notion of ‘extreme’ weather is an unscientific nonsense. ‘If you were to pick any period in history, you would soon find an example of an unusual weather event — maybe a heatwave in Russia or fires in Australia.
‘Somewhere in the world, a weather record is being broken almost every day. This is normal. What’s not normal is when people try to impose on it some kind of invented trend.’
This is what happened just yesterday, when the scorching Australian heatwave that has caused bushfires was linked in both The Guardian and The Independent to global warming.
The Met Office has subscribed to this sort of stance since at least 1990, when it became politicised under its then director John Houghton — the fanatical believer in the great global warming religion, who was also responsible for setting up the IPCC.
Under Houghton’s stewardship, it became an article of faith that not only was man-made global warming real and dangerous, but that it was the primary job of the Met Office to spread the alarmist gospel.
Dr Whitehouse notes that this is a sad betrayal of the Met Office’s traditional role: ‘When it comes to four or five-day weather forecasting, the Met Office is the best in the world,’ he says. ‘The tragedy is that, for the most part, the Met Office thinks weather forecasting is beneath it. Climate change is more glamorous — and brings in more money.’
And the Met Office’s obsession with climate change has wreaked havoc with its medium to long-term forecasting. That infamous ‘barbecue summer’ and its inability to foresee last November’s floods were the result of the same major flaw in its system: its computer models are all programmed on the assumption that as global CO2 levels increase, so will global warming.
This means they’re continually predicting warmer weather, in contradiction of all the real world evidence.
For two decades, the Met Office has abused its position of trust, authority and taxpayer-funded privilege to promote green ideology at the expense of scientific integrity.
Never mind the mere £200 million we pay a year to fund the Met Office’s dodgy, Mystic Meg prognostications: the real bill for its incompetence runs into the billions.
Met Office Says No Warming Before 2017: How Did The Media Do?
The fact that the UK Met Office had changed its near-term global warming forecast quietly on Christmas Eve was noticed by some Met Office watchers, especially the ever-interesting Tallbloke’s Talkshop website which reported it on January 5th. This piece started a flurry of blog comments. We at the GWPF republished the story the same day on our website.
The next day we internally discussed the Met Offices’ revised forecast. The GWPF published my analysis of the considerable implications of the Met Office revision on the 7th January. The analysis was distributed via CCNet at 11:51 am, including hundreds of journalists.
One and a half hours later, at 1.23pm, Roger Harrabin – the BBC’s Environment Analyst – tweeted that the Met Office had confirmed to him that it had cut its warming projection for the period up to 2017 by 20%. It was retweeted 12 times. This was clearly an important story. But the BBC decided not to cover it at all that day. However, the following morning the BBC reported it.
The first mention I heard was on the 5.30 am BBC Radio 4 news which I though dealt with the story in a clear way – that the Met Office had revised its global temperature predictions downwards and that some sceptics were saying that it shows previous estimates were exaggerated. At 6.00 am the story was repeated but with the significant error saying that the Met Office expected temperatures ‘in Britain’ not to rise by 2017.
Then, at 7.00am Roger Harrabin took up the story. In my opinion he did not do too well. The details of the statistics were presented very poorly. Harrabin also said that natural factors such as the Sun and oceans are an explanation. What he didn’t put over was that the Met Office can’t explain the standstill and are working hard to do so, but they believe that the Sun and the oceans could be a factor.
The story, important enough to be in the news bulletins, was not a part of the Today programme. This is possibly because the news bulletins, although broadcast during the Today programme, are not prepared by the Today team but by the Bulletins Desk. Personally I would have liked to hear John Humphrys get stuck into this story.
The late Brian Redhead used to call the Today Programme “a word in the nation’s ear,” and so it proved. A short time later Tom Chivers, science writer at the Telegraph, tweeted, “Did anyone catch what they were saying about the climate on R4 Today this morning? People on desk discussing it, want to catch up.” Andrew Neil then tweeted, “Other than #bbcr4today amazing lack of coverage in UK media re Met Office new temperature predictions.”
Whilst the newspapers planned their coverage the broadcast versions of the story faded for a while. Neither the BBC TV 1’ o’clock News nor the Radio 4 World at One covered the story.
It is good practice to have a report on the BBC News website about a story dealt with on BBC TV and Radio. The news website can go into more detail, give links etc and is especially valuable for those who may have missed part of, or misunderstood, the broadcast. Remarkably nothing appeared on the BBC Website for hours.
David Shukman’s eventual post was called “Climate model forecast is revised.”
In the second paragraph he claimed the Met Office had said the average temperature was likely to rise by 0.43 deg C by 2017 – as opposed to an earlier forecast that suggested a warming of 0.54 deg C. His misunderstanding gave the false impression as if the global temperature was going to rise by half a degree by 2017. Of course the Met Office never made such a claim. In any case, such numbers are meaningless when not placed in the context of recent years and a graph would have been nice/essential. When discussing the predictions of the new Met Office climate model that had given the new predictions, HadGEM2, he mistakes prediction period and baseline period.
Nevertheless, it was good to see that the important and obvious conclusion from the revised prediction was mentioned, “If the forecast is accurate, the result would be that the global average temperature would have remained relatively static for about two decades.” However, the term relatively static is a poor substitute for unchanging.
But then it says, “An apparent standstill in global temperatures is used by critics of efforts to tackle climate change as evidence that the threat has been exaggerated.”
In reality, it is not an ‘apparent standstill’ but a real warming standstill that has now lasted for 16 years and may last for 20 years if the Met Office is correct. In addition, and this is a vital point, the standstill is of interest to those interested in the science of climate change whether they advocate mitigation or adaption strategies.
The report continues: A Met Office spokesman said “this definitely doesn’t mean any cooling – there’s still a long-term trend of warming compared to the 50s, 60s or 70s.”
This should have been questioned as it is the heart of the story. The recent warming, the mankind-dominated climatically period started in 1980 (according to the IPCC) so what happened in the 50s, when climate was under purely natural control, is irrelevant.
The Met Office were also allowed to say; “Our forecast is still for temperatures that will be close to the record levels of the past few years.”
Again the BBC report failed to make clear that this claim, i.e. temperatures will be close to recent years, is simply another way of saying ‘No further warming trend in the coming years’.
Shukman also failed to mention that the forecasts made by the Met Office a few years ago have been proven wrong. All we get is an unnamed Met Office spokesman and nobody else. In the interests of balance and given that the story broke on sceptic websites and via the GWPF, a critic should have been quoted and the BBC should have insisted on a named spokesperson from the Met Office.
“Happiness” as an elite excuse for stalled economic progress
Aside from the things technological progress provides (flatscreen TVs, cellphones, etc.) most people have not had a rise in their standard of living for many years. “Don’t worry. More money would not have made you happier anyway” is the patronizing elite response.
Relatively poor people are at least as happy, if not happier, than those who are better off. That seems to be the message of two recent reports, one looking at happiness around the world, the other looking at wellbeing in the UK. But while ‘poor but happy’ seems a cliché that many are willing to embrace, the drive to emphasise happiness over wealth deserves more critical attention.
A recently released Gallup poll has placed some of the poorest countries of the world – including Panama, Paraguay and El Salvador – at the top of the happiness stakes. In November, the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its latest update on the National Wellbeing programme. Not only have life-satisfaction scores remained ‘broadly stable’ in spite of the recession, but deprived areas seem to be home to some fairly happy people (provided they have trees to look at).
Those unfamiliar with the happiness agenda might be surprised at the huge impact it has had; it’s everywhere, from Oxfam to Coca Cola, from the World Bank to UK educational policy. Like the furore surrounding self-esteem in the 1990s, there has been a widespread push to affirm happiness’s importance. Almost every social ill has been said to be remediable through raising ‘subjective wellbeing’ or happiness levels.
Indeed, a 2012 report produced by the Children’s Society argued that ‘a low level of subjective wellbeing’ puts young people at risk of poor mental health, social isolation, likelihood of victimisation and involvement in ‘risky behaviours’. Richard Layard, the UK’s unofficial ‘happiness tsar’, has even claimed that unhappiness is Britain’s ‘worst social problem’.
But the official focus on happiness in recent years was not a response to growing unhappiness in society. In fact, according to happiness advocates themselves, nothing much has changed. And therein lies the ‘paradox’: despite ‘massive economic growth’, the proponents of the happiness agenda say, there has been no increase in happiness. For those unconvinced, graphs are often helpfully included, depicting a stagnating ‘happiness rate’ plotted against a steadily climbing GDP.
The conclusion frequently drawn, as the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon did last April, is that less attention should be paid to traditional monetary indicators of ‘so-called progress’, and more to what makes people (sustainably) happy. British prime minister David Cameron agrees, stating back in 2006 that ‘we have to remember what makes people happy, as well as what makes stock markets rise’. While this idea of shifting attention to ‘what really matters to people’ is often touted as radical, it is important to note that the modern happiness project has always been a top-down initiative. While existing as an idea within the establishment for decades, the politics of happiness was taken up by American positive psychologists in the late 1990s and was quickly embraced by individuals and groups closely connected with UK policymakers, who only then sought to enlist the approval of the general public.
The adage that money can’t buy happiness may seem daft as a guide for policymaking, but it’s been extraordinarily influential since the late 1990s. In addition to the high-profile introduction of an ONS initiative to add ‘wellbeing’ to its national accounts, the current UK government founded a Behavioural Insight Team, which advocates ‘nudging’ people into making decisions more conducive to happiness. A host of policies, from an increased emphasis on treatments like cognitive-behavioural therapy in mental health services to the introduction into the school curriculum of classes designed to foster ‘emotional wellbeing,’ have been justified through recourse to happiness expertise.
Cameron’s commitment to happiness upon taking office in 2010 was dismissed by some as a cover for government spending cuts. In fact, it was no mere political spin. The more uncomfortable question is why groups which should have been in opposition to the happiness agenda found themselves in agreement with it.
There are many reasons why happiness, thus conceived, was widely embraced. Most significantly, many implicitly accept Margaret Thatcher’s famous mantra that ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism (TINA). If we cannot hope to change society in real, material terms, then individual minds and behaviours become some of the few sites open to change. With the political outlook narrowed in this way, ideas like ‘rediscovering happiness’ as the ultimate goal of society can sound radical, utopian even. They also offer a way of bypassing uncertain political identities, connecting with people using the lowest common denominator. After all, who doesn’t want to be happy?
But constructing issues in such broadly agreeable terms makes it difficult to imagine how they might be challenged or opposed. Everyone seemingly agrees that ‘money can’t buy happiness’.
The problem with the politics of happiness is that it abstracts this emotion from individual and social experience, and makes it into a flat, measurable policy objective. I have no idea what the future holds, in the same way that no one in 1800, if they had been handed a ‘happiness survey’, would have rated themselves less happy in the expectation of modern innovations like access to electricity. Each generation finds happiness in accordance with the world they take for granted. As a measure of ‘progress’, happiness defaults to an affirmation of the present as the best of all possible worlds.
This has led some proponents of the happiness agenda to dismiss material progress as a ‘hedonic treadmill’; ‘happiness adapts’, they say, and we will not become any happier should we attain the material objects of our desires. Humanity’s extraordinary resilience and tendency to make the best of a bad situation is used as a justification for maintaining low horizons.
The fact that this dismissal of material progress has faced so little opposition speaks to how profoundly disoriented the project of radical change has become. At one time, the expansion of wealth was viewed as a great boon for mankind: ‘For our demands are moderate’, wrote the Irish socialist James Connolly in 1907: ‘We only want the earth!’
The promise to give people a better life was also once one of the principal claims made for capitalism. But unable to expand and generalise wealth, and lacking clear alternatives, today playing down the benefits of material wealth is a rational strategy for the capitalist class. It is useful to remember that the wealthy in Victorian England, too, were known for looking down on the consumption habits of the working classes, pointing out they would not be so destitute if they would only be more frugal with their meagre wages.