Patient, 62, to sue hospital after claiming ‘bossy nurse forced him to walk 23 MILES home after discharging him at 2am on New Year’s Day’
A 62-year-old hospital patient who was suffering with breathing difficulties was told he would have to walk 23 miles home after being discharged in the middle of the night.
Peter Rees was rushed to West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen West Wales after he was hit by a fit of uncontrollable coughing and shortness of breath. He was diagnosed with a chest infection after tests and told he could go home at 2am.
The father-of-three had arrived at hospital without his wallet and asked staff for help with transport home explaining that he lived 23 miles away in Llanwrda and had no one to collect him. But he claims that he was offered no help and was told to leave the hospital for being aggressive by a nurse.
Having walked around 12 miles along pitch dark roads despite feeling unwell, Mr Rees was picked up by a passing police car and arrived home at 6.30am on New Year’s Day.
He said: ‘It was dreadful – the most horrible night of my life. ‘I had dark clothing on, I was feeling most unwell and I had to walk on unlit roads on one of the most dangerous nights of the year. ‘Hospitals are supposed to be caring places but the nurse sent me packing knowing my only way home was to walk.’
Mr Rees, who spent a week recovering in bed, has since made a formal complaint to the hospital.
He had become unwell while at home on New Year’s Eve and was examined by a paramedic at home who took him to a&e at the 391 bed NHS hospital. He was later told he was allowed to go home following an examination, X-rays and a blood test.
Mr Rees said: ‘They told me I had a chest infection and released me with a course of strong antibiotics.
‘When I explained that I lived 23 miles away and had no way to get home, the nursing sister told me to walk. ‘When I said I couldn’t believe what was happening, I was accused of being aggressive. ‘I was very tired, but I didn’t raise my voice or swear. I was not aggressive, but they said I had to leave.
‘There were ambulancemen there who saw my predicament but said they were not allowed to drive patients home.
He added: ‘Even if I had money I would not have been able to get a taxi at that time on New Year’s Eve.
‘I would have been happy to sleep in a chair until daybreak when I could have arranged a lift home. ‘But I was virtually shown the door – the attitude of the nurse is something I will never forget.
‘It was heartless and no way to treat a man of my age who had just been diagnosed with a chest infection.’
Mr Rees, whose partner Annie was unable to pick him up as she does not drive, walked ten miles before a passing police car stopped him and told him it was dangerous to be walking along the road.
He said: ‘The officers urged me not to walk any further because it was too dangerous, but I had no choice. ‘I was literally clinging on to bramble bushes as I edged along the hedgerow in the face of oncoming traffic. ‘I was shattered, freezing, I felt giddy and I lost my footing more than once.’
He walked a further two miles before a second police car stopped him and offered him a lift home.
Mr Rees is now considering taking legal action against the hospital claiming that it failed in its duty of care.
A spokesman for the Hywel Dda Health Board which runs the hospital said: ‘We regret to hear about the situation Mr Rees found himself in on New Year’s Day. ‘The Health Board has now received a formal complaint and, as the investigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time.
NHS reviews its handling of storm over breast surgeon who is being investigated by police after allegations he performed unnecessary operations
An NHS trust yesterday announced an independent inquiry into its handling of complaints about a surgeon alleged to have carried out more than 1,000 botched or unnecessary breast operations.
Ian Paterson is suspected of performing ‘lumpectomy’ surgery on 450 women instead of performing a simple biopsy to check for cancer. He is also alleged to have performed his own ‘cleavage-sparing’ mastectomies (CSM) on around 700 more.
The procedure, which he invented, leaves some breast tissue intact for cosmetic reasons, but is not approved in Britain because residual tissue could lead to an increased risk of the disease returning.
Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust announced lawyer Sir Ian Kennedy will chair the review into how managers at Solihull Hospital and Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, reacted to concerns ‘raised by staff, patients and the public’ about the surgeon’s work.
The review, which follows investigations already underway by the General Medical Council and West Midlands Police, will also consider if bosses acted appropriately on those concerns and responded to them ‘in a timely manner’.
Paterson worked at three NHS and two private hospitals across the Midlands from 1994 until he was suspended last October.
Police are also investigating the surgeon to see whether he should be charged with assault over the allegations he performed unnecessary surgery on 450 patients who did not have cancer.
In the aftermath of the announcement of those inquiries, some patients spoke of how their lives had been ‘ruined’ by the surgeon, while others spoke out in his support.
Hundreds of the women operated on by Paterson are believed to have launched claims for compensation against either the Trust or Spire Healthcare, which ran the two private hospitals where he worked in Solihull and Sutton Coldfield.
The majority of the procedures took place at Solihull Hospital. Many of the women believed they were having a full mastectomy, only to discover they had not.
The Trust wrote to all those women on its records operated on by Mr Paterson last year, asking them to get in touch.
Heart of England NHS Trust said Paterson had carried out only a ‘very small number’ of operations at Good Hope, in the late 1990s, while he had not performed any surgery at Solihull since May 2011.
Sir Ian will make recommendations to the trust’s board in a public report expected to be completed by the summer.
Lord Philip Hunt, chairman of the Heart of England trust, said the review would ‘determine whether there are lessons to be learned about how the organisation responded to the situation as it evolved, and how it might improve its response to concerns if they are raised in the future.’
Some of the women treated by Paterson said they felt mentally tortured by being led to believe they were seriously ill when, in fact, they were perfectly healthy.
Paula Gelsthorpe, 54, from Birmingham, had needless lumpectomies in 2002 and 2009 and told the Daily Mail she suffered ‘an assault on the body and mind’.
The Trust was first alerted to concerns about Paterson in 2007. He was ordered to stop the CSM technique.
Spire Healthcare was informed and also asked the surgeon to stop the procedures. But some patients have told their lawyers that he continued CSM at the private hospitals before finally being banned from all surgery at the hospitals in August 2011.
The married surgeon lives in a £1m Grade II-listed townhouse in Edgbaston, Birmingham. There was no answer at the property yesterday.
Paterson, a father-of-three, is being represented by the Medical Defence Union. A spokesman said: ‘He (Paterson) is fully co-operating with the GMC investigation. ‘He cannot comment further because of patient confidentiality and the ongoing investigation.’
Sir Ian previously conducted a major inquiry into children’s heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary and currently chairs Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) monitoring MPs’ expenses.
Police are also thought to be investigating accusations Paterson made false claims to health insurers, allegedly claiming for more expensive operations than he performed and for others which were never carried out.
The children going to the school nurse for aspirin – and being given the Pill (even though they’re under the age of consent and their parents don’t know a thing about it)
Common in America. Now in Britain
When 14-year-old Izabela Motyl felt a headache coming on in double maths, she put her hand up to go to see the school nurse. But when she arrived at the sick bay, she was offered a lot more than a couple of tablets and a lie-down.
Izabela, now 17, from Middlesex, said: ‘I went in and sat down, and the nurse explained she couldn’t give me an aspirin without permission from my parents. But before I went back to my lesson, she did offer me a confidential service on contraception — and told me my mum and dad wouldn’t need to know.
‘I told her I was a still virgin, but she gave me two condoms because she said it was important people my age have stuff around. I was a bit shocked. I thought: “What must she think of me?” — but I took them anyway. I’d recently started going out with a new boyfriend, the brother of a friend I’d got to know better through Facebook, so I thought I’d take the condoms just in case.’
Perhaps it’s no great surprise to hear that ‘just in case’ came sooner rather than later for this particular schoolgirl.
A few weeks later, just after her 15th birthday, Izabela had sex at her home while her mother, an airline hospitality worker, and her stepfather, a foreman, were out of the house.
Needless to say, Izabela didn’t tell her mother she was sexually active, so it is no wonder she was furious when she later found out, by chance, that her daughter was on the Pill. Izabela had got the Pill after she went back to see the school nurse, who referred her to a clinic for contraception.
Her mother came across the packet while searching in Izabela’s bedside table for a phone charger.
‘My mum is Catholic,’ says Izabela, ‘so she was not happy I was having sex at all, especially when I was so young. She was also angry because I didn’t tell her I’d been given the Pill at school.’
Furious, Izabela’s mother approached the school to be told that it was policy for birth control advice to be given to pupils under 16 without parental consent. ‘When I went to see the nurse, I hadn’t even thought about having sex, but you do feel encouraged when your school seems to say it’s ok’
The same service is being offered in hundreds of state secondary schools across the country. Not only are condoms offered to pupils under 16 years old (the legal age of consent) if they express an interest, but girls are referred for contraceptive injections and implants, where a small rod is inserted under the skin to prevent conception for up to three years.
Policy is set in education authorities, but the confidential service is already offered in areas as diverse as Bristol, Berkshire, Peterborough, West Midlands, Northumbria and County Durham.
Nor are the schools involved all sink-estate comprehensives. Many, including Izabela’s, are praised by Ofsted and sought-after by middle-class parents.
As Britain continues to have the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe, encouraging school nurses to provide advice and referrals — without the consent of parents — is seen as the only way to reach the most at-risk girls.
Although parents may not like it, the NHS says it’s critical that ‘young people are not put off’ by the fear that their parents will get involved.
Indeed, the free availability of contraception has been credited with driving down the teen pregnancy rate to the same level it was in 1969: latest figures show conceptions among under-18s fell to 34,633 in 2010, compared with 38,259 in 2009, a drop of nearly ten per cent.
But though the number of pregnancies remains the same as more than 40 years ago, the figures mask the fact that children’s attitudes to sex have changed beyond all recognition.
Few would dispute that today’s teenagers regard sex in a far more casual, even flippant light than was the case for their parents’ generation. As a result, the rates of sexually transmitted diseases are soaring: 186,000 new cases of chlamydia — an often-symptomless infection that can cause infertility — were diagnosed in 2011, with sexually active young people the most at risk of contracting it and passing it on.
Meanwhile, the ‘age of consent’ is rapidly becoming a misnomer, as more than a quarter of girls now lose their virginity before their 16th birthday.
And as Izabela, who has now left her school, testifies with depressing candour, they tend to become sexually active even younger. ‘Young people generally start getting into stuff like oral sex at about 12,’ she says. ‘Around the age of 14, they lose their virginity.
‘When I went to see the nurse, I hadn’t even thought about having sex, but you do feel encouraged when your school seems to say it’s ok. You get free birth control and your mum doesn’t need to know.
‘It’s like there’s no longer any reason not to have sex.’
Izabela adds: ‘I have my stepdad, who is like a father to me, but a lot of girls don’t have strong male figures around the house to enforce their authority. Going with boys can be a way to get the male approval that is missing from their lives.’
So what does the future hold for those young girls who are being encouraged to believe the free availability of contraceptives means it must be acceptable to have under-age sex? Sophie Lewis, now 19, from Manchester, lost her virginity at 15, after her school recommended she have a contraceptive implant fitted. They also handed out condoms to pupils, with few questions asked.
She says she now bitterly regrets having sex so young, and firmly believes that easy access to contraception contributed to a general expectation at her secondary school that people would have sex sooner rather than later.
‘The school referred me to a clinic to have an implant fitted because I was dating a boy three years older,’ she says. ‘I thought we were in love but, looking back, I was too young to know. Part of it was about not wanting to be the last virgin in the year. ’
British planning restrictions as a threat to grandparents
Grandparents face spending their retirement “propping up their kids and grandkids” unless they agree to support new development that would make housing more affordable, the planning minister has warned.
It is “immoral” that young people are being priced out of the housing market because of a lack of cheap homes, Nick Boles told The Daily Telegraph. The housing shortage is a bigger threat to “social justice” than poor education and unemployment, he said.
In a speech on Thursday, Mr Boles will say that greenfield land must be built on. He will announce a scheme that will enable communities to receive funding for new facilities if they agree to support new housing developments.
By setting out the moral arguments for new development, his language marks a significant hardening in the tone of the Government’s attacks on “Nimbys”. It also shows the frustration among ministers that reform of the planning system has not sparked a building boom.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph before Thursday’s speech, Mr Boles said people had to recognise that “either they will spend their retirement propping up their kids and their grandkids, or they can accept more development so their grandkids don’t have the problem”.
“I genuinely think that the single biggest way in which we are failing to deliver social justice in this country at the moment is unaffordable housing – more than schools, more than jobs, more than benefits,” he said.
The minister, who is regarded as close to David Cameron and George Osborne, added that it was simply “immoral” that young people had to wait for so long to save a large enough deposit to buy a home.
In his speech, Mr Boles will say: “I am afraid that we have a simple choice. We can decide to ignore the misery of young families forced to grow up in tiny flats with no outside space. We can pass by on the other side while working men and men in their twenties and thirties have to live with their parents or share bedrooms with friends.
“We can turn a blind eye while Margaret Thatcher’s dream of a property-owning democracy shrivels. And shrug our shoulders as home ownership reverts to what it was in the 19th century: a privilege, the exclusive preserve of people with large incomes or wealthy parents.”
Mr Boles will claim that the inflation in house prices in recent decades has been unacceptable and was caused by artificial restrictions on building. He will highlight figures showing that if the price of food had risen in line with housing over the past 30 years, a chicken would cost £47 and a jar of coffee £20.
“In the 1990s, the average person setting aside five per cent of their income each week could save up a deposit on a house after eight years,” he will say. “Today it would take the same person 47 years.”
The planning minister will add that the public must accept that more building is required on greenfield sites, saying: “We’ve got plenty of undeveloped land to spare.” He told this newspaper: “We need to build more, not all of it can be satisfied by empty homes and ‘brownfield’ sites, so we will need to build quite a lot on currently undeveloped land. England is not massively overdeveloped.” He added: “I am not a critic of Nimbys. My job is to create a system that persuades them not to object but to get involved.
“We have comprehensively failed to persuade people to embrace the level of house building that is required. We are in this terrible vicious circle where we have built ugly stuff, which does not involve local people and does not bring them any benefit in terms of improved local infrastructure or anything else. They hate it and so they fight any further proposals tooth and nail, perfectly understandably. And the process of fighting it means much less land gets planning permission and the value of land goes through the roof. So the cost of building becomes completely unaffordable, so people build c–p.”
Under plans to be announced on Thursday, local people would keep up to 25 per cent of revenues from a Community Infrastructure Levy which builders pay to win planning permission to spend on community projects, such as a village hall.
“Work out what you want, where you want it, what you want it to look like, the money that enables you to reopen the municipal pool,” he Mr Boles said. He insisted that he understood opposition to development and had personal experience of fighting it: his father was the head of the National Trust. “I was a Nimby once, and my entire family were,” he added.
Massive rise in bill for foreign aid consultants: Department for International Development pays £46m despite crackdown
British bureaucracy at its finest
The amount of British overseas aid money lavished on consultants jumped by 45 per cent in just one month – despite a high-profile ‘crackdown’ on the practice being launched at the same time.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening ordered an ‘emergency audit’ of her department’s use of consultants last September following a public outcry.
But figures reveal that spending on so-called ‘technical and advisory services’ jumped from £31.7million in September to £45.9million the next month.
A Whitehall task force has been set up to monitor spending at the Department for International Development, which is in line for a 30 per cent budget increase this year.
The Treasury is concerned about the department’s capacity to handle the vast increase without presiding over millions of pounds of waste.
Miss Greening is considering whether more of the consultants’ work could be done by civil servants.
She has also demanded to see any contract worth more than £1million. Previously officials could wave through contracts worth up to £40million without seeking ministerial consent.
The latest figures will also underline concerns about the decision to pour billions more into foreign aid, with the budget to rise from £8.65billion to £11.3billion this year.
Dfid sources last night insisted the department had already mapped out exactly how the influx of cash would be spent.
A source also stressed that the spending on consultants in October had already been in the pipeline before the crackdown was launched. Much of it is said to be a legacy of Labour’s profligate years in office, when spending on consultants soared to £1billion a year.
Official figures show how some firms are making millions from Britain’s aid budget.
The so-called ‘poverty barons’ include PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which was paid more than £4million in October alone, while Adam Smith International pocketed £5.8million.
Large payments also went to a number of major foreign consultancies, such as the US-based ABT Associates, which was paid £2.1million.
Tory MP Peter Bone said he was ‘appalled’ by the amount of money spent on consultants.
He said: ‘The public are told overseas aid goes on building water wells in Africa and other worthy projects. I think people will be shocked to learn so much of it is going into the pockets of large consultancy firms.
‘It does also raise further questions about the huge increase planned in overseas aid.’