Nicholson must go says top heart expert sacked for blowing the whistle about poor care at third hospital where Sir David was in charge
A leading surgeon sacked after exposing poor care had written to the head of the NHS to warn patients were dying needlessly. Raj Mattu is the third whistleblower known to have raised his concerns with Sir David Nicholson. But no action was taken despite his hospital having the highest rate of avoidable deaths in the UK.
Sir David is already under pressure to quit having presided over the Stafford hospital scandal in which up to 1,200 people are thought to have died through negligence.
And he was head of the health authority responsible for Dr Mattu’s hospital when the renowned heart specialist warned him of ‘poor safety and excess death rates’.
Dr Mattu also told him staff at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust were scared to speak out and those who did were victimised.
The surgeon said Sir David, who is chief executive of the NHS, had ignored his warnings and should go.
‘After I raised serious concerns about patient safety and deaths I increasingly suffered victimisation, harassment and discrimination,’ he added.
‘I cannot foresee clinical staff being prepared to come forward or speak out on behalf of patients or the public when they see my obvious persecution. I know of clinicians at UHCW and the West Midlands NHS who have declined to come forward in fear of repercussion, and of avoidable deaths that continue at UHCW.’
Dr Mattu has fought a decade-long battle to clear his name which is believed to be the NHS’s longest-running and most expensive whistleblower dispute.
He claims he was ousted after being suspended from his job in 2002 when he complained that overcrowded wards had caused the deaths of at least two patients.
He claims a patient he was trying to resuscitate died when nurses could not reach him with lifesaving equipment because the bay was overcrowded.
Dr Mattu also raised a Public Interest Disclosure request about the money-saving management policy of placing five beds in bays designed for four patients.
He said that following his whistleblowing, he was suspended and paid £560,000 to do nothing for five years before being sacked in 2010. He is contesting his sacking.
Last night, Dr Mattu said: ‘There’s a lot said about protecting whistleblowers, but the reality is there is no genuine desire by those in charge to protect them. A lot of senior managers do not seem to be able to distinguish between what is good for patients and what is good for the reputation of the NHS and for their jobs.
‘The culture comes right from the top. Sir David Nicholson’s position is untenable.’
A spokesman for NHS West Midlands denied that a copy of the letter from Dr Mattu’s letter of 2006 had been received by the then strategic health authority.
He added: ‘All hospitals undertook a number of actions to make improvements including doing a clinical audit of cases and setting up a clinical group to regularly look at data.’
When Dr Mattu was suspended the Warwickshire trust had a zero-star rating because of its poor performance.
Gary Walker, the former boss of United Lincolnshire Hospitals, has also warned of a ‘culture of fear’ which deterred whistleblowers from coming forward. The trust’s ex-chairman has spoken out as well.
The devastating letter that reveals NHS boss praised hospital… as its patients died
Hospital managers behind one of the worst health scandals in living memory won glowing praise from the head of the NHS.
At the height of the Mid Staffordshire scandal, Sir David Nicholson toured wards and in a follow-up letter said ‘well done’ for ‘progress in target areas’.
The visit came in October 2005 – a year in which 300 patients are thought to have died because of poor care. By 2009, the total stood at 1,200.
Bereaved families, who are calling for Sir David to quit, say many lives could have been spared had he investigated the health trust.
The letter obtained by the Mail shows the NHS chief visited Mid Staffordshire’s two hospitals – Stafford and Cannock Chase – while he was in charge of the regional health board.
It is thought the visit was on October 27 and was followed by a letter of congratulation to the chief executive.
It noted improvements on hitting targets for waiting times in casualty, cancer treatment, surgery and outpatients.
Yet that month an elderly woman who had suffered a stroke was sent home by a casualty doctor who misdiagnosed her as having a urine infection.
She fell into a coma two days later and died.
Julie Bailey, who set up the campaign group Cure the NHS after her mother died at the trust, said: ‘He should have been asking questions of the trust’s chief executive, not congratulating him.
‘The care was just disastrous from 2004 and it became a longstanding problem. He is ultimately responsible. How can he carry on in his job after all this?’
Last week Sir David was implicated in another scandal when it emerged he had ignored warnings about a hospital trust where 670 patients may have died needlessly.
Gary Walker and David Bowles, the former chief executive and chairman of United Lincolnshire Hospitals, say they wrote to the chief executive in 2009 but were ignored.
Mr Walker was later sacked and given a £500,000 pay-off with a gagging clause to keep silent. The trust is being investigated by the NHS for having one of the highest death rates in the country.
Sir David has been facing increasing calls to resign since a report into the Mid Staffordshire scandal was published earlier this month.
Sir David also appointed the trust’s failed chief executive Martin Yeates – even though he had no formal managerial training and went on to sack 50 nurses.
Later, as chief executive of the Department of Health, he is said to have dismissed warnings from relatives. He apparently told a watchdog investigating the hospital trust not to pay too much attention to the concerns of the families as they were ‘simply lobbying’.
Sir David, who earns £211,000 a year, has resisted calls to resign, saying the failures have been ‘system wide’.
But last week two Tory MPs from the health select committee, Chris Skidmore and Sarah Wollaston, urged him to consider his position.
An online petition on a Government website calling on him to go has received 3,796 signatures.
A spokesman for Sir David Nicholson said: ‘Sir David took on responsibility for the Shropshire and Staffordshire Health Authority for just ten months, along with being chief executive of two other health authorities.
‘There was no information that he saw during that time that alerted him to the problems at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.’
British Liberal leader accused of ‘double standards’ over independent schools
Nick Clegg has been accused of “double standards” by a leading headmaster for considering independent education for his son while “trying to limit” the number of university places open to private school pupils.
Tim Hands, the in-coming chairman of the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference of leading public schools, criticised the Deputy Prime Minister for his assertion that the “great rift” between the best private schools and the schools “ordinary families” send their children to was “corrosive”.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hands, the master of Magdalen College School, a day school in Oxford, said Mr Clegg’s actions and language “smacked of double standards”.
Mr Clegg is considering privately educating his eldest son, who is 11, having said that he did not want the issue to be a “political football”.
However Mr Clegg has also backed giving university places to students from poor backgrounds even if their grades were slightly lower, to heal what he described as the “corrosive” division between “the best schools, most of which are private, and the schools ordinary families use”.
Heads of private schools are increasingly concerned that Mr Clegg’s assertion that the coalition Government was “encouraging universities to recruit on the basis of objective potential, on the basis of an ability to excel, not purely on previous attainment” creates discrimination against their pupils.
Mr Hands said: “On the one hand there’s personal support for the independent sector by sending one’s own child into it.
“On the other there is a political interference in higher education by trying to limit the number of independent school pupils going to top universities.”
In the speech last May Mr Clegg said that while the privately-educated dominate the upper reaches of society, only 7 per cent of children attend independent schools.
However Mr Hands pointed out that at sixth form level, double that number – 14 per cent – go to private schools, suggesting Mr Clegg’s reasoning was based on flawed figures.
“Worse, this interference is based on inaccurate statistics and questionable research,” he said.
“So it is rather a case of the left hand claiming not to realise what the right hand is doing – Nick Clegg’s actions and his language smack of double standards.
“If you want to find something corrosive, then you only need to look as far as political interference in the academic integrity of university admissions.”
Mr Hands also said that research from Bristol University, quoted by Mr Clegg, showing that students with top A-levels from state schools were more likely to get firsts than their private school counterparts had yet to be replicated elsewhere.
The Liberal Democrat leader’s son is due to start secondary school this summer, after being educated at his local Catholic state primary school in Putney, south-west London.
Mr Clegg and his wife Miriam González Durántez, have looked round his old school, Westminster, where fees are £23,000 a year, but have not toured the local state comprehensive in Putney.
The Deputy Prime Minister said he would send his son to a private school if he failed to find a place in a good comprehensive, saying he would use the state system ‘if it works out’, but that there is ‘huge competition’ for places in London.
Mr Clegg would not be the only Cabinet minister to use private education for his children, although he would be the most high-profile.
Others with children in the independent sector include George Osborne, the Chancellor.
In contrast David Cameron has spoken of his desire for his children – who are currently at state primary schools – to go to state secondaries.
Bronte heritage put before green energy in key British wind turbine ruling
The literary significance of the “Bronte” moorlands has been used for the first time to curb the onslaught of wind farms, in a key victory for campaigners.
The brooding West Yorkshire countryside that inspired classics such as Wuthering Heights has been protected from plans for more turbines because of the importance of the famous sister writers.
It is believed to be the first time the literary significance of an area has been put before the need for green energy.
It comes as the High Court will this week hear a separate case brought by leading heritage groups hoping to protect historic sites from wind farm development.
Bradford Council has rejected plans for a 15m turbine at Hardnaze Farm, Oxenhope, Keighley, less than two miles from Haworth, where Emily, Charlotte and Anne Bronte grew up.
Councillors ruled the scheme would do little to boost renewable energy – while creating a blot on Bronte Country.
The area is already a focus for green energy with turbines twice the height of Nelson’s Column due to replace existing ones at the Ovenden Moor Wind Farm four miles away.
More than a dozen applications for turbines have been submitted to Bradford Council in the last year, on top of the Ovenden Moor redevelopment plans approved by neighbouring Calderdale Council.
The area attracts visitors from around the world wanting to see the moorland views that inspired much of the Bronte’s finest writing.
Sally McDonald, chairman of The Bronte Society Council, said the decision “gives support to the Bronte Society’s argument that this is a special and unique landscape and that this landscape needs to be protected”
“Visitors journey from around the world come to see the wild moors of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and want to see high waving heather – not high waving turbines,” she said.
“I am delighted by this decision and that all future applications will have to take into account ‘the importance of the historical and literary associations of the area.
“In making this decision, Bradford acknowledges for the first time the importance of the unique landscape to the area.
Campaigners will now turn their attention to plans for four 328ft turbines flanking each side of the Brontë Way on Thornton Moor.
The planning ruling said: “The proposed development would introduce an incongruous and widely visible vertical element into this sensitive upland landscape, whose historical and literary associations are also central to its wider economic value in tourism terms.
“The proposed turbine would be seen from a number of vantage points and would result in significant harm to the character of the landscape that would outweigh its limited contribution towards overall renewable energy targets.”
Bronte Society Heritage and Conservation officer Christine Went said: “It is good they have acknowledged the importance of this heritage landscape, and internationally renowned heritage area.
“A woman who came to Haworth to write about the Brontës recently said ‘It’s not worth coming here because it’s all turbines’.”
Britain is building more wind turbines than ever before, with more than 1,200 turbines due to start spinning throughout the countryside and around the coast over the next 12 months.
The “dash for wind” has been prompted by a cut in subsidies due this year and an apparent relaxing of the planning rules.
Last year the approval rate for wind farms went up by 50 per cent, according to industry group Renewable UK.
Britain’s Green Energy Fiasco: Running On Empty
Britain, once the envy of Europe thanks to its North Sea energy riches, will lose nearly a third, 25-30 gigawatts (GW), of its generating capacity. If nothing is done, we could face decades lurching from crisis to crisis.
Ed Miliband steps up to the microphones. Looking drawn after an all-night crisis session with his Lib-Lab coalition cabinet, the prime minister clears his throat.
“The unprecedented cold spell has put our energy system under tremendous strain,” he says. “We are doing everything to ensure your lights stay on but the risk of power cuts is high. I am asking all citizens to switch off all non-essential electrical equipment.”
It is January 2017, four years hence. The harsh winter has pushed electricity and gas consumption to record highs. Britain’s antique power plants are struggling to cope.
The rocks under Lancashire and other parts of the country are thought to be rich in shale gas but exploratory work has been held up by community meetings and impact assessments. Plans for new nuclear power plants, the first for two decades, have been delayed by government reluctance to offer energy companies the guaranteed high prices they demand before stumping up the billions each one costs to build.
Faced with the prospect of having to impose part-time working, the government decides to risk angering Brussels instead. Miliband orders coal-fired plants, mothballed to comply with European pollution regulations, to be fired up again, even though it means hundreds of millions of pounds of fines for breaking our commitment to cut CO2.
Scaremongering? Not necessarily. Britain is caught in an energy crunch that is shaping up to be one of the most serious problems to face this administration — and the next. Nuclear plants that produce about a fifth of our energy began to be shut down last year. By 2023, only one — Sizewell B in Suffolk — will still be in operation.
Britain’s energy-generating capacity is shrinking fast
Britain’s energy-generating capacity is shrinking fast (Duncan Vere Green)
By the middle of this year several coal-powered stations, which have been supplying the equivalent of 6m homes’ worth of power, will be closed under EU agreements to reduce carbon emissions. Only a single gas-fired power plant is being built to replace them, and uncertainty over policy has paralysed the industry.
The lethargy is palpable. No fewer than 27 consultations are being carried out by Ofgem, the regulator, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change on different aspects of the industry. These include reviews of the Electricity Market Reform Bill, the government’s flagship legislation for its £200bn plan to replace old fossil-fuelled plants with expensive, and cleaner, alternatives such as nuclear and wind power. Why does it seem impossible to make a plan and execute it before it is too late?
By the early years of the next decade, Britain, once the envy of Europe thanks to its North Sea energy riches, will have lost nearly a third, 25-30 gigawatts (GW), of its generating capacity. At the same time, America is enjoying an energy bonanza. If nothing is done, we could face decades lurching from crisis to crisis.
Immigrants must live in Britain for a year before claiming benefits, says welfare minister
The Work and Pensions Secretary said hard-working migrants who paid their taxes and contributed to the economy would be welcome.
But he said he wanted to ensure “our door is shut” to benefit tourists and was engaged in a “big battle” with Brussels to reform the rules on welfare payments to residents from elsewhere in the EU.
Last week the Prime Minister promised to overhaul the system for immigrants to ensure that Britain is not “a soft touch”. Ministers have been in talks over tightening the rules allowing migrants access to social housing, the NHS, benefits and elements of the justice system.
Some Conservative Cabinet members fear that the removal of restrictions for EU migrants from Romania and Bulgaria from 2014 will see many more arrive than expected, putting pressure on housing and public services.
Mr Duncan Smith predicted that ministers would be able to introduce “much tougher” regulations to stop immigrants taking advantage of the welfare system.
“We want people to be able to travel to work but we don’t want them to travel to get benefits,” he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show.
“It’s locking the door to peoples’ access to benefits simply because they want to come here.”
A high level meeting of officials and Cabinet ministers has already taken place to discuss closing “loopholes”, he said, and further talks are expected.
One key measure he hoped to strengthen will be the “habitual residency test”, which sets out the minimum amount of time for which migrants must live in Britain before they can become eligible for benefits.
The minister said the rules were already “reasonably tight” in Job Centres. However, he was “looking at” further reforms so that individuals will need to show they have a lease on a home “of nine-months to a year, rather than just a matter of months”.
Some benefits may be classified as “contributory”, he said, suggesting that individuals may be entitled to receive payments only if they had paid enough tax and national insurance first.
“These are areas we’re tightening up before this starts next year, and I believe we will be able to tighten this up,” Mr Duncan Smith said.
However, he faces a fight with the EU, which is attempting to prevent Britain applying the residency test to migrants from elsewhere in Europe.
“They’re trying to say we don’t have the right to have any kind of test, so that’s a big battle that I’m having with the Europeans,” Mr Duncan Smith said. Britain is being supported in arguing for new rules by the Dutch and Scandinavians, he added.
The minister said he also wanted to stop immigrants sending UK child benefit payments, which are more generous than the European average, to their families in their home countries.
From next year, 29 million Romanian and Bulgarian citizens will gain the right to move to the UK to work and live under rules allowing EU citizens freedom of movement.
Anti-immigration campaigners are calling on ministers to disclose how many Romanian and Bulgarian migrants they expect to arrive next year when the current restrictions on migration from the two countries are lifted.
Mr Duncan Smith said it was “pointless” attempting to predict the figures after Labour severely underestimated the numbers likely to arrive from eastern Europe after 2004. He said he had no knowledge of any official projections.
“If you look at where there Romanians are coming through at the moment it paints a picture, the majority have gone to Germany and Spain. We are ready, though, to make sure that they can’t come here and claim benefits.”
Some British Public lavatories to become ‘gender neutral’
A city council has scrapped male and female public lavatories in favour of “gender neutral” facilities so as not to alienate the transgender community.
The move was described as “political correctness gone barmy” by opponents who warned that the vast majority would prefer to use single sex loos.
Brighton and Hove City Council disclosed in emails that it wished to promote the term “gender neutral” and build facilities which are open to all, regardless of sex.
They believe such facilities will be more accessible for those who do not identify with the male-female binary.
The block, will include four new lavatories and a café. Images depicting a man, a woman and a child will be fitted to the doors.
Lynda Hyde, a Tory councillor in the Rottingdean ward, in which the new facility is being built, said: “This does seem to be a case of unnecessary bureaucracy and political correctness.
“Local residents, particularly women with children, would much prefer to use separate facilities as apart from anything else, it is safer.
“If the male/female symbols, rather than any text, are to be used on the toilet then this avoids any confusion so why is the council muddying the waters by insisting they are called gender neutral, which will mean nothing to most people?”
The £140,000 refurbishment of the lavatories on Rottingdean seafront in Brighton is due to begin this week and is being funded jointly by Rottingdean Parish Council and the city council.
Mrs Hyde said she understood the city council planned to gradually phase out all male and female lavatories in order to cater for the minority group.
The move follows the establishment of a working group to examine issues faced by transgender residents in the city.
Last year, the Trans Equality Scrutiny Panel recommended that titles such as Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms be banned so as not to offend the community and force them to “choose between genders”.
Green Party deputy leader Phelim MacCafferty backed the proposal saying: “Trans people aren’t necessarily male or female and sometimes they don’t want to be defined by their gender.”
The 37 recommendations made by the panel also included “removing the need to identify as male or female” when arriving at a doctor’s surgery, more training for council staff, police and health workers and appointing a “Trans champion” within the council.
A city council spokeswoman decline to comment on the decision to promote the term gender neutral. She said: “When producing signs for public toilets in the city we use standard images rather than words. “This is particularly beneficial to the many tourists from overseas visiting our city.”
The lesbian, gay and transgender population in Brighton is estimated to be around 40,000.
In a 2006 a survey of the community, around five percent of respondents identified themselves as transgender.
National Socialism: the clue’s in the name
A National Socialist badge. The German word for “Socialist” is clearly evident. Because of the similarities between German and English, the German words for both “national” and “socialist” are readily understood by English speakers. DAP stands for “Deutsche Arbeiter Partei”, or “German Workers’ Party”
How can [British] Conservatives ensure they always lose? A good place to start is to concede every lie of the left.
The Conservative Party appears to be doing what it can in this regard. Take their decision to strike Rachel Frosh from their candidates list for the great crime of… linking Nazism to socialism.
Frosh committed her thought crime on Twitter. Thanks to a left-wing stink being kicked up on the same medium, her career – including twenty years in the NHS – is now apparently nullified overnight. She has had to step down from her role as a Police and Crime Commissioner and now she cannot stand for the Conservatives at an election. A party spokesman has said: ‘these comments are completely unacceptable and it is right that she has stepped down’.
Clearly the Conservative party has taken the view that they do not want anyone involved in politics or policing who takes a view on history that is actually correct.
It is neither an insult to all of the left, nor an attempt to exonerate all of the right, but rather a statement of historical fact that National Socialism had its origins in socialism. If the Conservative party’s apparatchiks look hard enough they will even find a clue in the name. But evidently they are too busy giving in to left-wing twitter-mobs to have time for such a bland and useless thing as historical truth.