Surprise! The failing NHS trust taken over by private firm has one of the highest levels of patient satisfaction

The first NHS trust to be run entirely by a private firm has one of the highest levels of patient satisfaction in the country.

Hinchingbrooke, a hospital in Cambridgeshire with 160,000 patients, was on the verge of going bust when it was taken over by Circle last year.

But NHS figures show it is now ranked as one of the highest for patient happiness and waiting times.

The company running the trust has slashed losses at the hospital by 60 per cent and will soon begin to pay off burgeoning debts built up over years of mismanagement. The takeover deal, which saved the hospital from closing down, is seen as a blueprint for the future of many NHS trusts.

The NHS is attempting to improve patient care drastically in the wake of a damning report into the scandal at Mid Staffordshire, where up to 1,200 died needlessly.

It blamed the horrific care on a culture of targets across the health service with managers inclined to ignore the concerns of frontline staff.

Experts say the system in place at Hinchingbrooke, which empowers doctors and nurses, could be used in dozens of other struggling NHS trusts.

Jim O’Connell, chief executive of the hospital, said: ‘We put more of the decision-making in the hands of the doctors and nurses.

He added: ‘There are still a lot of inefficiencies in the NHS because it is the bureaucracy that has built up over all these years, and we have to change that.

‘Any changes that we make have to be good for patients and good for efficiency as well.’

Patient satisfaction has risen to 85 per cent, placing Hinchingbrooke in the top six of the East of England’s 46 hospitals. The feedback is calculated by asking families and patients whether they would recommend the hospital, then weighting the answers compared to local peers.

Figures also show that Hinchingbrooke has risen from being one of the worst performing trusts to one of the best under the private firm’s management. When Circle took over, the hospital was consistently near the bottom of the 46 trusts, with many patients waiting more than four hours in A&E.

It now tops the list for short waiting times, seeing 98.2 per cent of patients within the required window. The hospital also ranks fifth for the proportion of patients with suspected cancer having tests within a fortnight.

Before the takeover it had missed targets every month since June 2010. It now treats 89 per cent of cancer patients within 62 days, beating the 85 per cent target.

Circle saved millions of pounds a year by cutting out arduous paperwork and middle management.

Under the former ownership, a lengthy form had to be filled out every time a lightbulb needed changing, in a process that often took more than a week.

The group, which runs independent hospitals in Reading and Bath, inherited debts of £39million with the project.

The hospital had been expected to lose £10million last year, but this has been whittled down to £3.7million by the Circle group.

It made up the deficit from its own coffers, rather than taxpayer funds, and is expected to break even in the current year.


Woman, 42, bled to death after routine back op in hospital where staff had warned bosses about ‘grave risks to patients’

A fit and healthy woman bled to death after having routine surgery for a back pain. Andrea Green, 42, died just 14 hours after the operation at Barnsley District General Hospital.

Her death came after staff in the hospital’s orthopaedic department warned managers about grave risks to patients ‘extreme pressure and stress’ in the department.

An inquest was halted and Sheffield coroner Chris Dorries asked police to investigate following the emergence of the letter outlining staff concerns.

Ms Green had started suffering from back pain in August 2009. The pain was so bad that she was bedridden for two weeks despite being prescribed with painkillers by her GP on numerous occasions.

She was referred to the orthopaedic clinic at Barnsley Hospital but by the time her appointment came round, her pain had subsided.

The clinic diagnosed her as suffering from a prolapsed (herniated) disc. Unbeknown to Ms Green, this condition quite often resolves itself over time without the need for further treatment. Despite this, the hospital listed her for surgery and she was advised that the pain could return if the operation was not carried out.

Because she did not want the pain to return, she agreed to the procedure, which took place in March 2010.

When her sister Janette Allatt visited her in hospital later that evening, she found her very pale and complaining of stomach pain.

Nurses discovered she had very low blood pressure and because she was in pain, administered medication to relieve it.

At 2am the following morning, Ms Green’s father received a telephone call from the hospital informing them that she was seriously ill. To their horror, by the time her family arrived at the hospital, she had died.

Mrs Allatt, 56, said: ‘I just remember being in total and absolute shock. I never expected anything like this to happen. We have so many questions about what happened to Andrea and believe if it wasn’t for the surgery, she would still be here today.’

A report from the post mortem examination listed the cause of death as retroperitoneal haemorrhage (internal bleeding).

The report suggests that the wrong disc was operated on and that the internal bleed was created during the operation.

Her family later lodged a claim for medical negligence which has now been settled out of court for a six-figure sum.

Andrew Harrison, head of medical negligence at Raley’s solicitors, which represented the family, said serious internal bleeding after the operation should have been spotted and treated by doctors. He said: ‘They could have saved her for up to 30 minutes before she died. They had got all the information if someone cared to look.’

The hospital was warned of ‘extreme pressure and stress’ in the orthopaedic department a letter just weeks before Andrea died in March, 2010.

A letter was sent to former chief executive Sharon Taylor and referred to a meeting between her and medical director Dr Jugnu Mahajan in which the orthopaedic team warned of danger to patients. The letter stated ‘it was only a matter of time before the situation led to significant patient morbidity and mortality’.

The doctor who performed the operation on Andrea is still working at the hospital under supervision.

A spokesman for Barnsley District General Hospital said: ‘We are extremely sorry for the loss suffered by Andrea’s family. We treat the safety of our patients as an utmost priority.

‘After Andrea’s death we began a full internal investigation and also sought the views of external experts. ‘We have fully implemented all of the changes recommended by those investigations.

‘The letter and its contents are a matter for consideration at the inquest and it would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment further.’


Top British universities lowering admission bar for state school pupils, according to researchers

State school pupils are winning places at the country’s elite universities with lower A-level grades than their privately educated counterparts, say researchers. They are more likely to be admitted to Russell Group universities with B or C grades than pupils from independent schools.

And those admitted from the state sector are around 20 per cent less likely to have A* or A grades.

The findings are likely to reignite the debate over the ‘social engineering’ of university places.

Some private schools are already threatening to boycott universities that are shown to discriminate against their pupils.

An analysis of A-level grades held by students entering Russell Group universities shows that those from state schools have significantly weaker grades on average. Fifty-two per cent of the qualifications held by independent school pupils entering 19 of the group’s 24 universities in 2010-11 were either A* or A at A-level.

This fell to 42 per cent among state entrants, according to data compiled by the student information website

The grades B and C made up 24.3 per cent of the marks received by state entrants compared with only 18.2 per cent among independent school students.

The gap in achievement was most marked in the highly selective universities.

But it was still apparent at the five Russell Group members that are least popular with private pupils: Cardiff, Sheffield, Liverpool, Glasgow and Queen’s University Belfast.

The research comes as universities face increasing pressure to admit more schools from disadvantaged areas and low performing state schools. Professor Les Ebdon, director of the Office for Fair Access, has called for universities to set ‘stretching’ targets for recruiting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This is in return for the right to charge up to £9,000 a year tuition fees. He has previously backed the use of differential offers for students from struggling state comprehensives, allowing them to win places with lower grade A-levels than those from high-flying schools.

While OFFA does not set universities official targets for state entrants, it does challenge them to do more to promote applications from poor students. And guidance on its website says that institutions can mark out poor pupils with potential to succeed by admitting them with lower grades.

Anna Vignoles, professor of education at Cambridge University, told the Times Higher Education magazine that this pressure might explain why state pupils have been admitted with lower grades.

‘Universities are very alive to these targets, contrary to what is often reported,’ she said.

‘When universities have good quality state school students, albeit with slightly lower grades, you can see there is a willingness to get them in.’

Chris Ramsey, of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents top independent schools, said it was ‘unjustifiable’ to ask for higher grades as a ‘blanket policy’.

He said: ‘There may always be reasons for an individual student to be given a lower – or higher – offer than that advertised publicly, but a policy which treated students as simply members of a group would be entirely wrong and should be stopped.’


‘I Don’t Debate With Israelis!’: British Leftist Politician Storms Out of Debate After Realizing His Opponent Is From Israel‏

Hypocrite Galloway pictured hugging former IDF officer (that’s right, Uri Geller was wounded in action as an IDF paratrooper during the Six-Day War)

At an Oxford University event, British parliamentary member George Galloway shocked attendees when he abruptly stormed out of the room after finding out that his opponent was an Israeli. After realizing the man’s nationality, the politician immediately jumped out of his seat, announced that he had been misled and told those in attendance that he doesn’t debate with citizens of the Jewish state.

“I don’t debate with Israelis. I’ve been misled. Sorry,” he said, with the audience responding in shock.

Next, he got up, grabbed his coat and headed for the door. But before walking out, he again affirmed his stance, saying, “I don’t recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis.”

Galloway had already been speaking for approximately 10 minutes about his view that “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank” when he realized that his opponent is Jewish, the Daily Mail reports.

The incident unfolded as Eylon Aslan-Levy, a third-year student, was responding to the politician’s statements from the podium. When Aslan-Levy used the word “we” to in his description of Israel, Galloway interrupted him and asked if he’s of Jewish decent.

“You said ‘we.’ Are you an Israeli?,” the politician asked. The student answered affirmatively — and that’s when the situation took its shocking turn.

While many derided his comments, Galloway shared some supporters’ tweets — messages that accused Israel of apartheid and of occupying others’ lands.


How press freedom is now a “very extreme view” in Britain

A UK video journalist tells spiked why he is fighting orders to hand over protest footage to the police

Where there is a protest in the UK, it’s a safe bet that Jason Parkinson will be there on the frontline filming it. From the G20 protests in 2009, to the recent Anonymous masked street protests, Parkinson’s carefully edited footage features in a range of publications and gives a short, sharp insight into what it’s like in the heat of demonstrations.

It seems, however, that such insights are too short and sharp for the police, who have demanded that Parkinson hand over all his footage of an English Defence League march and United Against Fascism (UAF) counter-demonstration he filmed in Bolton in 2010 to help them with an unspecified investigation they are carrying out. Parkinson, rightly, has refused, and this week appeared in court to fight a production order the Greater Manchester Police have applied for under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. ‘They claim my footage may or may not be of relevance to their investigation’, Parkinson told spiked. ‘I was not told what they were investigating.’

His reasons for refusing are both principled and pragmatic. As Parkinson explains: ‘Journalists are not evidence gatherers for the police.’ But he also recognises that, ‘if we are seen to be handing over footage to the authorities we will be viewed as just that and our safety covering such situations in the future we be jeopardised’.

Parkinson’s concerns are understandable. Should the police begin to make a habit of demanding footage from journalists at protests, any idea of journalistic independence will disappear. In spite of the intention of the journalist, the footage could be used to spot troublemakers, or even just to make a list of people who had attended. The video-journalists’ lens ceases to be neutral, and becomes instead a means through which the state can spy upon protesters. Should this become known, any trust between journalist and protesters would be lost, and hostile situations are bound to arise. Parkinson is right to fear for the future of his profession – and is equally right to fight the case.

This is not the first time the police have attempted to co-opt journalists’ material in such a way, and neither is it the first time demands have been made of Parkinson. As Parkinson explains, ‘production orders were becoming routine procedure in 2010, as opposed to being issued as the last resort, which is how they are supposed to be implemented’. It sounds like the police were beginning to use footage shot by journalists as part of a trawling exercise, rather than to investigate a particular serious crime.

As Parkinson has observed previously, this appears to have coincided with a decline in the once-prominent police ‘forward intelligence’ teams who, in the early 2000s, would zealously film everyone attending protests. Relationships between journalists and police improved. ‘It was almost as if they wanted us there’, Parkinson told . Starting notably with the student protests at Millbank in 2010, ‘[at] every public-order incident since then, one news outlet or another has had the proverbial knock at the door’.

This reached a head in 2011, when Essex police requested footage from all journalists and broadcasters who filmed the eviction of the Dale Farm travellers’ site over a two-day period. As Parkinson told spiked: ‘It was clear from the start this was not about proving any specific incidents of criminality, it was about seizing all material for intelligence purposes against protestors.’ To Parkinson, this amounted to ‘the biggest assault on press freedom and independence we had seen for many years’. Despite the evident amount of time and energy it would take, there was, he says, ‘no choice but to fight it’.

Over an eight-month period Parkinson, with the backing of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), fought the production order despite repeated chastisement from lawmakers. The prosecuting counsel at Chelmsford Crown Court accused him of having a ‘very extreme view’ for insisting that journalists should be able to report free from state interference. To his credit, however, Parkinson stuck to his guns and won a resounding victory in the Court of Appeal in May 2012, when the production order was overturned.

For a time following that, police requests from journalists slowed, with the latest order served on Parkinson from Greater Manchester Police being the first he had heard of since he won the case. Should the police win the case, the floodgates could once again open for the police to make a wealth of demands from journalists.

In an ideal world, Parkinson says, ‘the police would respect press freedom and leave our material alone… [But] at the very least, the police need to follow and implement the law correctly and to the letter, not just use the law as they wish’.

At a time when the Leveson Inquiry looks set to bring about state regulation of journalism – legally enforced or through royal charter – attempts by the police to casually commandeer journalists’ research and footage play a dangerous role in further eroding press freedom. Through the simple act of attempting to undertake their profession, the role of the journalist becomes warped. Instead of simply attempting to report observations or facts, journalists would be forced to become ancillaries of the state. Little could do more to erode faith in journalistic integrity.

Far from being ‘extreme’ in arguing that the state should respect press freedom and leave journalists’ material alone, Parkinson is making an argument that anyone who believes in democratic society should support. Just as the state should have no influence over the content of what a journalist writes, so it should be kept well away from ordering journalists to hand over material.


British proposals to penalise the press ‘are against the law and would have chilling effect on free speech’

A key plank of Lord Justice Leveson’s plans for Press regulation breaches European human rights laws, leading barristers have warned.

The joint opinion by three QCs concludes the judge’s proposal to punish newspapers that refuse to join a new Press regulator with exemplary damages would violate Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression.

Lord Pannick, Desmond Browne and Antony White found that the proposals would have a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech which was ‘obvious and unjustifiable’.

The breach is so ‘striking’ ministers would be unable to sign off legislation that incorporates the proposal as being compatible with human rights laws, the QCs say.

Lord Justice Leveson recommended the threat of exemplary damages as a way of providing an incentive for newspapers to voluntarily come within the remit of the new regulator.

The proposal is included in a draft Bill published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and is taken even further in controversial plans for an arbitration system that have recently been inserted into the Defamation Bill by the Labour peer Lord Puttnam.

The new opinion, which was commissioned by the newspaper industry, warns the proposals are ‘objectionable in principle due to their arbitrary extension of what is widely regarded as an anomalous feature of English law’.

It also said the proposals single out a particular category of defendant rather than a particular kind of conduct.

‘To punish the Press for what others may do without punishment is inconsistent with the special importance that domestic and Strasbourg jurisprudence attach to freedom of the Press,’ the lawyers said.

Their opinion was challenged by Hugh Tomlinson QC, chairman of the Hacked Off campaign, who said it was ‘misconceived’.

The revelation came as ministers brace themselves for a showdown with peers over the Puttnam amendment to the Defamation Bill.

The amendment introduces a Leveson-style arbitration backed by law. But, in a further controversial step, it also threatens ruinous damages against papers that fail to get prior approval for publishing contentious stories.

The eminent QC Lord Lester, architect of the Defamation Bill which is designed to reform Britain’s notorious libel laws, said the Puttnam proposals would curb the Press in a way ‘never seen in any democratic country’.

Downing Street has made it clear that the Prime Minister will not allow the Puttnam proposal to become law, even if it means the entire Defamation Bill has to be scrapped to prevent it.


About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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