Hospital ‘box-tick’ culture that cost hundreds of lives in biggest NHS scandal in living memory
Hundreds of hospital patients died in the biggest NHS scandal in living memory because of a box-ticking culture and a failure of compassion, a damning official report will say today.
David Cameron is appalled by the findings of a long-awaited report into the deaths of up to 1,200 people between 2005 and 2008 because of poor care in hospitals run by the Mid Staffordshire trust.
It is expected to blame managers who cut costs and reduced staffing levels in an attempt to hit Labour’s ‘efficiency’ targets and win foundation status.
The Prime Minister will respond to the findings by announcing the creation of a new chief inspector of hospitals, who will be charged with ensuring hospitals deliver good, compassionate care rather than simply ‘chasing targets’.
Mr Cameron is expected to say: ‘We need a hospital inspection regime that doesn’t just look at numeric targets, but makes a judgment about the quality of care.’
The system will be modelled on that introduced in the early 1990s in education, where a chief inspector sends regular inspection squads into classrooms to assess all aspects of school life.
Ministers believe thousands of patients could be at risk because examples of poor care reminiscent of that at Stafford and Cannock Chase Hospitals are ‘dotted around’ the NHS.
Mr Cameron, who has taken the unusual decision to make a statement on the report to MPs himself today, will offer ‘a strong expression of sorrow’ for the suffering of the families of patients let down by the hospitals.
Whitehall sources said the report would identify a culture of ‘metrics and league tables’ in the way hospitals are judged as a key factor in the scandal.
‘We need to look at patients as human beings, not numbers on a chart,’ said one. ‘We can’t tolerate a situation where hospitals are meeting all the targets, ticking all the boxes, and the reality is people are drinking water out of vases and sitting in their own excrement.
‘You can’t legislate or mandate for compassion, but we must try to find a way to make sure the NHS is absolutely focused on making sure people get good quality care when they are in hospital – one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.’
The report into the scandal, led by Robert Francis QC, was handed to Downing Street and the Department of Health yesterday. It is also expected to call for better training for nurses and healthcare assistants, and an overhaul of regulation to ensure poor managers are weeded out.
It will make uncomfortable reading for the Labour front bench and for the chief executive of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson. Between August 2005 and April 2006, he ran the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority, which was responsible for supervising the hospitals.
His tenure came during a four-year period in which between 400 and 1,200 patients died needlessly due to a catalogue of failings and appalling standards of care.
Sir David also helped appoint Martin Yeates as chief executive of Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust – which presided over the disaster – even though he had no managerial training.
Doctors in A&E at Stafford Hospital have since admitted that the whole department became ‘immune to the sound of pain’. Patients were shunted into corridors and neglected so they did not count towards a four-hour waiting-time target.
Sean Worth, a former adviser on health to the Prime Minister, claimed that the scandal at Mid Staffordshire was followed by ‘one of the biggest cover-ups in public service history’.
Mr Worth, who now works for the think-tank Policy Exchange, said a ‘Praetorian guard of NHS elites, trade unions and stuffy medical organisations’ were standing in the way of making the NHS more accountable to patients.
The parents of one of the youngest victims of the Stafford scandal are calling for a new inquest because they believe staff covered up their mistakes.
John Moore-Robinson, 20, died in 2006 from major internal bleeding which was not picked up by doctors in Stafford Hospital’s A&E unit.
He had fallen off his mountain bike and ruptured his spleen. But he was diagnosed with a few fractured ribs and sent home in a wheelchair with a sick bucket. He died hours later at his home in Coalville, Leicestershire.
At an inquest in 2006, the coroner returned a narrative verdict meaning no one was blamed. But it has since emerged that the coroner did not see a vital report.
The report, by consultant Ivan Phair, concluded that the death was ‘avoidable’ and that there was a ‘high probability that the level of care delivered to Mr Moore-Robinson was negligent’.
Mr Moore-Robinson’s parents, Janet and Frank, are seeking to overturn the verdict and want a new inquest.
Mr Moore-Robinson told BBC Newsnight: ‘Had John died as a result of the accident I could have accepted it as his injuries were so serious. But John needed care and the A&E department at Stafford was in meltdown.’
Lawyers representing the trust deny there was a cover-up.
Husband’s heartbreak after hospital bans him from visiting his wife suffering from Alzheimer’s in her ‘final months’
A devoted husband spoke yesterday of his heartbreak at being banned from the hospital where his wife is being treated for Alzheimer’s.
Ray Butcher, 65, says he was told that 67-year-old Carole had indicated she no longer wanted to see him.
But he is challenging the decision because he believes his wife made it as a result of her Alzheimer’s. She is in the final stages of the disease and needs full-time care.
‘We have spent half our lives together and now within her final months I am prevented from visiting her,’ he said.
‘I know she indicated in August that she did not want me to visit but that was some time ago and she probably doesn’t even remember it. I don’t believe she is fit to make such a decision. ‘It’s an outrage and morally abhorrent that I should be prevented from seeing her. I am her husband.’
Carole was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in early 2008. Her husband was her full-time carer for three years until she moved into the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant, South Wales, in June
The Butchers, who have a six-bedroom detached home in Llanharry near Cardiff, have been together for 36 years and married in 1994.
Mr Butcher, who acted as a carer for his wife for three years, said he desperately wanted to see her before she died. But his attempts to visit her at the hospital have failed.
‘Since August I’ve been to the hospital twice and each time I’ve been turned away. It is such an awful feeling,’ he said. ‘It is bad enough having a partner who is suffering with such a condition, but to not be able to see them is a whole different kind of torture.’
His wife, a former Oxfam manager who has two children from a previous marriage and one grandchild, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in early 2008.
‘Her memory was causing her problems and she was forgetting various things and using the wrong words,’ he said. ‘She was using inappropriate words which indicated to me that all wasn’t well.’
Mr Butcher says there was nothing during his last visit with his wife in August which could have caused him to be banned.
‘When I visited her she remembered me but she couldn’t remember my name. She has a short-term memory span now measuring probably 20 to 30 seconds,’ he said. ‘She expressed love and affection toward me and was grateful that I was there. I spent an hour with her and it was very pleasant.
‘There was no indication she did not want to see me again. What brought that view into her head I have no idea – I have never been told.’ Mr Butcher says he has attended several meetings with managers from the Cwm Taf Health Board, which manages the hospital, but has still been unable to visit his wife.
‘I feel like I’m in a race against time,’ he added. ‘While all these meetings are going on, my wife’s condition is deteriorating further. ‘I’m hoping common sense prevails before it is too late.’
Diplomatic row breaks out over British plan to ‘warn off migrants’ as Bulgarian minister claims ‘they’d rather go to Germany’
Bulgarian and Romanian workers will go to other European countries when an immigration ban is relaxed at the beginning of next year, leading politicians from the two countries said today.
Bulgarian foreign minister Nikolay Mladenov said many of his compatriots would much rather travel to Germany, Spain and Italy, as his country has stronger business links with those countries.
He said there was a danger that fears about thousands of immigrants descending on the UK could ‘dampen’ relations with Bulgaria.
Romanian ambassador to the UK, Dr Ion Jinga, said many immigrants had already by-passed the restrictions by declaring themselves self-employed and finding jobs in sectors such as construction.
The two men were interviewed by Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News amid fears that when the ban preventing immigrants from the two countries working in the UK comes to an end at the beginning of next year, thousands will arrive and look for jobs.
Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union in 2007 but under ‘transitional arrangements’ workers from the two countries were prevented from travelling to the UK.
Mr Mladenov said the relaxing of the restrictions would not lead to a flood of immigrants coming here.
He said: ‘I do not expect the UK to be overwhelmed by a wave of our nationals coming over seeking employment for a number of reasons.
‘When we look at the experience of other countries over the last seven years, this has not happened and there is no reason to believe that this would happen in the UK in the January of next year.
Bulgarian foreign minister Nikolay Mladenov said many of his compatriots would much rather travel to Germany, Spain and Italy
‘We have not seen since Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union mass waves of Bulgarians moving across Europe and seeking illegal rights or illegal immigration to other countries.
‘We had some issues in the first days after accession but in a number of cases we acted very swiftly and they were addressed, and so there were no lasting concerns.
‘The UK would not be the primary country of choice for many people to go and work. Our economy is mostly connected to the German economy.
‘We have a large number of companies working in places like Spain and Italy, where we have long-standing traditions and where the labour market had opened to Bulgarians quite some time ago.
‘I really don’t believe that there is a need to have these fearful debates that are happening.
‘On the contrary, I think people in the United Kingdom, given your history, must understand that immigration has always been beneficial to your economy, just as Britain’s membership of the European Union has been beneficial to not only jobs creation but prosperity in your country.’
He added: ‘Those Romanians who have wanted to come to Britain, they have already done it. ‘There are some restrictions for some areas of activities but no visa requirements, so those who have wanted to come, they have done it.
‘It is always a possibility to find a job, even if it is under restrictions, and that solution is to declare yourself self-employed, and many Romanians have done so.
‘For instance in the construction sector, there are many Romanians here and that is why your Olympic village was built up last year.’
New data shows the proportion of people across who say English is not their main language ranging from 0.7 per cent in Redcar and Cleveland to 41.4 per cent in Newham in London.
British eco-homes DOUBLED our energy bills: Resident rocked by £1,600 charge after just six months
So much for “energy saving”
They were described as the ‘homes of the future’, with an eco-friendly design that would keep bills low.
The 45 super-insulated houses, built with £5.6million of public money, were even held up as a ‘model’ of environmentally-friendly construction.
But 18 months after the social housing complex in Bradford was completed, residents have complained of bills that are double what is normal and faulty equipment that was supposed to save them money.
Council bosses admit there is a ‘serious problem’ with energy use at the Pavilion Gardens site and promised to reimburse residents for excessive bills, blaming the original builder.
Resident Danny Hall, 27, a redundant sales adviser, his wife Jacqueline, 28, and their three children have had problems ‘from day one’.
‘The houses were supposedly the most energy efficient in Bradford,’ he said. ‘We weren’t really told what expected bills would be but with solar panels, heat exhaust and all this fancy stuff you would expect it to be considerably lower than what we used to pay.’
Instead the family received a £1,600 bill after six months. Energy bills were almost double what they paid at their previous home, he said.
When the family moved in, there was no water in the toilets because the water recycling system had not been activated.
When it was turned on, water ‘poured through the light fittings’.
The homes are equipped with an eco-heat exhaust pump that recycles warm air, solar panels, and rainwater-harvesting systems to cut water bills.
Twelve of the homes, supposedly built to the highest standards for sustainability, are heated by a communal biomass boiler.
Sunny Tanday, 23, a tenant who lives with wife Raquel, 23, and their two young children, said it was proving an expensive disaster.
He said: ‘We thought it was going to be our dream house. ‘They are lovely houses on a nice street, but they are not what we expected them to be in terms of power-saving and being cheap to run.
‘We moved in here to be a family, but it’s just tearing us apart because the big bills are making us argue all the time. There are people in the street who already want to move out because it’s just too expensive.’
Mr Tanday said his electricity bills averaged £500 a quarter since December 2011. The highest was £949 and he has had to borrow to cover the charges.
A spokesman for Bradford Council said: ‘We appreciate that it is a serious problem and we are working with residents, the building contractor, the energy company and our managing agents to find a solution.’
Duke of Edinburgh invites climate change heretic David Bellamy to Buckingham Palace
Prince Philip has invited David Bellamy, who was allegedly banned from the BBC because of his views on global warming, to give a lecture at Buckingham Palace.
David Bellamy described how the BBC ‘froze him out’ when he dismissed global warming as ‘poppycock’
The Prince of Wales warned in March 2009 that there were “less than 100 months to act” to save the planet from irreversible damage due to climate change. His father is known to be more sceptical.
Now, the Duke of Edinburgh has invited Britain’s best-known global warming heretic to give a lecture at Buckingham Palace.
David Bellamy, who described last month how the BBC “froze him out” when he dismissed global warming as “poppycock”, is to give the inaugural David Bellamy Lecture at the Palace next month.
Prince Philip is holding the event as honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management.
Christopher Booker comments on the views of Prince Philip:
When in 2009 I published a book called The Real Global Warming Disaster it provoked contrasting responses from two members of the royal family. Prince Charles, protesting that he was ‘bemused’ by my views on climate change, struck me off his Christmas card list, where I had been for 25 years since we became environmental allies back in the 1980s. I was, however, startled and delighted to have a long, thoughtful and sympathetic letter about the book from Prince Philip, whom I had met only once, and which, inter alia, led me to be far from surprised when he last year made headlines for having dismissed wind turbines as ‘absolutely useless’.
Back in the 1960s, now to my shame, I once wrote a far from kindly profile of Prince Philip in Private Eye. Over the decades since, like many others, I have come to have ever more admiration for him, not least since he represents those values of robust masculine common sense which in the post-war years when I grew up were taken for granted, but which in our public life are today little more than a memory.
Last year one newspaper marked his 90th birthday by publishing a list of his ‘notorious gaffes’. Since then I have met several people who, like me, went through that list ticking off every one of his supposedly embarrassing comments with a nod of amused approval. How fortunate we are to have had such a man at the centre of our national life for 65 years.
Nadine Dorries MP: Not a single person in the UK voted Conservative in 2010 because we said we would introduce same-sex marriage
Nadine Dorries is MP for Mid Bedfordshire
I will be voting against the same sex marriage bill tomorrow for a variety of reasons. If I am called to speak I hope to elucidate some of them. Two aspects of the Bill are so important and so compelling, however, I also wanted to write about them here.
My first concern is that I and many others thought the Bill was intended to make the status of marriage equal for same sex couples (SSC) with regard to heterosexual couples (HSC). The Bill does not achieve this; in fact, it legally patronises SSCs and leaves them unequal in law. I cannot vote for that.
My second consideration is that I am happy to declare my interest in the grubbier side of politics and state that one of my big concerns is for my party and my colleagues, which is why I am writing this on the ConservativeHome website and not in a national newspaper.
Let’s talk about sex.
My first startling observation upon reading the Bill which was produced only a week ago, is that the adultery provision in the Bill is unequal. A gay man/woman is not required to be faithful in the same was as a heterosexual man/woman. The same sex lobby have stated that they want the same rights as heterosexual couples and to be able to enjoy faithful and committed relationships but this Bill does not require them to make any commitment to faithfulness whatsoever in the way straight couples are required to.
A basic legal requirement of The Marriage Act 1973 is for ‘ordinary and complete sex to have taken place’. In law, you can only divorce for adultery if your partner has sex with a member of the opposite sex.
When a straight couple marry, they forswear all others. It is a basic marriage vow designed to conform with the Marriage Act. What they are saying is ‘I may find members of the opposite sex attractive from time to time however, I will not stray, for the sake of our marriage I will honour my commitment to us and I promise to forsake all others’.
A gay man or woman won’t have to do this because obviously, he or she isn’t going to find a member of the opposite sex attractive and so the adultery provision is unequal. A gay man/ woman is not required to be faithful in law in the same way a straight man/ woman is. What is marriage without a legal vow of commitment and faithfulness?
Tucked away at the back of the Bill, probably deliberately in order that it will never be reached and debated in committee, is the startling revelation that there is also no obligation for a SSM to be consummated. In a HSM, if a marriage is not consummated it is voidable. This is because sex is the basis of marriage. The law as it stands is very sensible. Whilst marriage is about more than sex, marriage is not about less than sex. Legally, a long-term relationship without ‘ordinary and complete sex’ can be a friendship, a relationship, but it’s not a marriage.
The Government’s answer to the consummation question is that SSM cannot be declared voidable as a result of non consummation because the legal definition of consummation is impossible to achieve. The Governments admission that a SSM cannot meet the legal requirement of The Marriage Act makes nonsense of the whole Bill. If there cannot be consummation and thereby legal equality, what is the point of the Bill?
The Bill was intended to treat SSCs on an equal basis with HSCs but actually, if you are in an SSM you don’t have the same legal endorsement; you are the inferior party in a Bill which fails to equally encompass all.
Before anyone reading this thinks I am opposed to supporting same sex couples, I am not. Such a statement could not be further from the truth. I am however totally opposed to the legal re-definition of marriage.
Now let’s talk about politics.
Having read the briefing from the Catholic Church and Anglican churches to MPs, and if the polling is correct that one in five people who voted for the Conservative Party at the last GE won’t at the next, the passing of this Bill could lose us as many as 100 seats.
The Prime Minister may have made a good speech on Europe which many Conservative MPs support. Europe, however, is not a religion. No one died on a cross for a referendum on membership of the European Union. People of faith may not vote for us again if this Bill passes and a good speech on Europe won’t persuade them to do otherwise.
To highlight how damaging this legislation could be to Conservative MPs, I cite the case of the former MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Evan Harris. An arch proponent of anti Christian beliefs such as abortion and assisted suicide, Mr Harris lost his 7,683 incumbency padded majority as a result of the church communities in his constituency, led by one single lady vicar, voting against him. For no other reason than that.
When Labour introduced civil Partnerships, they did the right thing, but they wouldn’t touch SSM because they recognised that in their Catholic communities it would have been politically suicidal. If this Bill passes we will hand Labour MPs a great gift as they can simply say ‘it wasn’t us’. Those Labour MPs who are vulnerable will have the luxury of standing back and laughing at loyal Conservative MPs with small majorities as they troop into the lobby and in doing so, save Labour MPs their majorities and political scalps. We will deliver a Bill the Labour party only ever wistfully dreamt about but knew it couldn’t deliver and retain power. Especially without an election manifesto to do so, which of course, we don’t have. Not a single person in the UK voted Conservative in 2010 because we said we would introduce SSM.
I hope to lay down an amendment which will define SSM as state marriage. Gay couples and straight couples are magnificently different, wonderful and all deserving of the deeper love and fulfilment which comes from commitment. We should all be equal in the eyes and provision of the law.
I spanked my children, says British Justice Secretary
Chris Grayling, the Conservative Justice Secretary, has defended parents’ right to smack their children and admitted he did it to his own, it emerged on Saturday night.
The cabinet minister said he was not opposed to smacking youngsters, saying sometimes it “sends a message”.
Mr Grayling has two children, aged 20 and 16, with his wife Susan and told the Mail on Sunday he occasionally smacked them when they were younger.
“You chastise children when they are bad, as my parents did me,” he said. “I’m not opposed to smacking. It is to be used occasionally. Sometimes it sends a message – but I don’t hanker for the days when children were severely beaten at school.”
Sources close to the minister said on Saturday night he used the punishment on an “occasional” basis and only when “really warranted”.
The comments came in an interview in which Mr Grayling also reiterated commitments he made soon after taking up post to ban perks for prisoners like Sky television as well as ending automatic early release for inmates who misbehave during their sentence.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “I want prisons to be spartan, but humane, a place people don’t have a particular desire to come back to.”
He also said he would not tolerate gay couples in prison sharing a cell. “It is not acceptable to allow same-sex couples to effectively move in together and live a domestic life,” he said. “If such a thing happened, I would want those prisoners put in separate prisons.”