NHS hit by new hospital deaths cover-up on day Man With No Shame faces showdown meeting
NHS hospitals last night stood accused of fiddling figures to mask the numbers of patients dying needlessly.
The boss of one trust has been forced aside and experts called in to investigate a possible cover-up over death rates.
And Professor Brian Jarman, a renowned specialist on hospital performance, believes several other hospitals may be doing the same.
The revelations came as the chief executive of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, prepared to meet senior bosses from the new body in charge of hospitals and health services for the first time since the Mid Staffordshire scandal report.
The Bolton Foundation Trust – the focus of the latest allegations – had had one of the highest mortality rates in the country.
But in 2011, the figures suddenly dropped by 10 per cent and the trust was named as one of only about 50 in the country with ‘lower than expected’ death rates.
The fall was initially celebrated as evidence of improving performance but there are now concerns it was merely a statistical trick.
In fact, it is feared that since 2001, an estimated 2,000-plus patients may have died unnecessarily at the trust.
Yesterday it emerged that Dr Jackie Bene, the chief executive, has ‘stepped aside’ while a joint investigation is carried out by mortality experts and the local NHS body.
The NHS’s medical director, Professor Bruce Keogh, said: ‘It is absolutely unacceptable for any part of the NHS to deliberately manipulate any patient information.
‘If we’re to have an open and accountable NHS, where patients and the public know how NHS hospitals are doing, those hospitals must behave openly and honestly about their performance.’
Yesterday the House of Commons heard claims that previous official reports into NHS care had been suppressed because they revealed a ‘pervasive culture of fear’.
This came as the chairman of the inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire scandal called for an immediate ‘culture change’ in the NHS.
The probe at Bolton Foundation Trust will consider whether staff categorised patients as dying from septicaemia – blood poisoning – when they actually died of more easily-treatable conditions
Mortality rates are meant to reflect the standard of care in a hospital.
As such, deaths from serious illnesses such as septicaemia and cancer do not influence figures as much as preventable deaths from hip fractures and infections.
There is concern that preventable deaths from hip fractures or urine infections were intentionally labelled as septicaemia to lower the mortality rate.
Over the last year there have been 800 cases of septicaemia when there should only have been 200 in a trust this size.
Professor Jarman believes that within the last five years other hospitals have lowered their mortality rates by wrongly labelling deaths.
They include Medway in Kent and George Eliot, Mid Staffordshire and Walsall in the West Midlands where mortality rates have been slashed by up to quarter in a single year.
He said: ‘I can’t prove it because the hospitals are denying it. They keep saying it’s a coincidence.’ But he added: ‘The whole thing is appalling.’
The investigation at Bolton will go back through the records of 200 patients who died from septicaemia or were diagnosed with the condition. But experts have already looked into 50 cases and say there is ‘sufficient cause for concern.’
Today, for the first time since the Mid Staffordshire report, Sir David Nicholson will meet senior directors from the NHS Commissioning Board – the new body in charge of hospitals and health services.
Relatives of patients who died at Mid Staffordshire will stage a silent protest outside the meeting in Manchester to reinforce pressure on him to resign.
A spokesman for Bolton Foundation Trust said: ‘We do not believe there are any clinical concerns regarding the care of patients, but rather there are questions that need answering about how the trust reports information about their care for administrative and financial purposes.’
You can’t win
Oxford University accused of bias against ethnic minority applicants — based on High School exam results of applicants. But it is precisely selection based on exam results alone that Leftists normally criticize. Oxford has always based admission on a personal interview with a tutor, who takes a whole variety of factors into account — not least of which is apparent motivation, which is in turn a major factor determining success at university studies. The Oxford assessment procedure for admission could in fact be pretty well encapsulated by that much favored word of the Left: “holistic”.
And given the dubious nature of today’s British High school qualifications, any reliance on what such qualifications tell us is incautious. Hence the growing use of aptitude tests, on which some minorities will score poorly
And the elephant in the room is of course minorities being given good grades simply because they are minorities
Oxford University has been accused of “institutional bias” against black and minority ethnic students after figures revealed that white applicants to some of the most competitive courses are up to twice as likely to get a place as others, even when they get the same A-level grades.
Figures for applications to the university in 2010 and 2011, obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that 25.7% of white applicants received an offer to attend the university, compared with 17.2% of students from ethnic minorities.
White applicants to medicine, one of the most prestigious courses, were twice as likely to get a place as minority ethnic candidates, even when they had the same triple A* grade A-level scores.
Older figures for Cambridge university suggested a similar pattern.
David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, who has been a vocal critic of the university application system, said the figures suggested “institutional bias” and proved institutional failure.
Both Oxford and Cambridge, the country’s most prestigious universities, have faced questions over the varying success rates of applicants from different ethnic groups. The gap has often been explained as being due in large part to the fact that students from ethnic minorities are more likely to apply for the most competitive courses, such as medicine.
But the latest figures, which for the first time break down success rates by both ethnicity and grades for some of Oxford’s most competitive subjects, cast significant doubt on these long-running explanations.
They show that white students were more than twice as likely to receive an offer to study medicine as those from ethnic minorities. The disparity persisted for the most able students: 43% of white students who went on to receive three or more A* grades at A-level got offers, compared with 22.1% of minority students.
For economics and management, the university’s most competitive course, 19.1% of white applicants received offers, compared with 9.3% for ethnic minorities. Among the most able, these success rates rose to 44.4% and 29.5% respectively.
There was, however, no statistically significant difference in success rates between white and non-white students when applying to study law at the university.
The issue of race at Oxbridge has regularly hit the headlines, particularly since 2010, when data obtained by Lammy showed, among other disparities, that just one British black Caribbean undergraduate was admitted to Oxford in 2009, a figure later cited by David Cameron.
“When I first raised these issues in 2010, Oxford explained that the figures were due to the prevalence of black and minority ethnic [BME] candidates applying to the most competitive courses,” Lammy said. “This new evidence blows that apart. We now know BME students get fewer offers even with the same grades. Where there are interviews and quite large hurdles at the application stage, as with Oxbridge, it is for the universities to demonstrate there is not institutional bias. These figures suggest institutional bias, and certainly show sustained institutional failure.”
He acknowledged that in the last couple of years the two universities had made renewed efforts to recruit BME candidates. “That should be welcomed, but what we need is a step change, and that hasn’t happened yet.”
Admissions tutors don’t necessarily know the ethnicity of candidates who don’t make it to the interview process, although they do see their full name and details of their schooling, a spokeswoman confirmed. Admissions statistics do show that students from ethnic minorities apply disproportionately to competitive subjects, but that doesn’t account for the discrepancies within subjects demonstrated by the figures.
The University of Cambridge refused an FoI request for the same detailed breakdowns by subject and grade, saying it was too costly to be handled under the act. However, it did provide some older figures dating from 2007-09, before the A* grade was introduced for A-levels, which show similar patterns to Oxford.
These figures show the ratio of offers to study medicine at the university to applicants who achieved at least three A grades at A-level was 35% for white students compared with 24% for minority ethnic students, while for law the figures were 38% and 32% respectively.
Both universities rejected any suggestion that discrepancies in application success rates for different ethnic groups were a result of discrimination.
Oxford said it was closely examining the phenomenon. “Oxford University is committed to selecting the very best students, regardless of race, ethnicity, or any other factor,” a spokeswoman said. “This is not only the right thing to do but it is in our own interests. Differences in success rates between ethnic groups are therefore something we are continuing to examine carefully for possible explanations. We do know that a tendency by students from certain ethnic groups to apply disproportionately for the most competitive subjects reduces the success rate of those ethnic groups overall. However, we have never claimed this was the only factor in success rate disparities between students with similar exam grades.
“We do not know students’ A-level grades when selecting, as they have not yet taken their exams. Aptitude tests, GCSEs and interviews, which are used in our selection process, have not been explored in this analysis and are important in reaching reliable conclusions.”
A spokeswoman for Cambridge said the analysis of the FoI figures was superficial and “ignored a significant number of relevant variables”, such as subject mix, and performance in entry tests and interviews. “Admissions decisions are based on students’ ability, commitment and potential to achieve,” she said. “Our commitment to improving access to the university is longstanding and unwavering … We aim to ensure that anyone with the ability, passion and commitment to apply to Cambridge receives all the support necessary for them to best demonstrate their potential.”
Rachel Wenstone, vice-president of higher education at the National Union of Students said: “My initial response to these figures was shock – this is quite frightening. Quite clearly, there appears to be some structural discrimination in some departments at Oxford, and the university needs to deal with it immediately.
Lord Lawson Calls On Geneticist Sir Paul Nurse To Acknowledge Global Temperature Standstill
Paul Nurse is an example of a poor boy made good, something uncommon and fragile in Britain. It would seem that toeing the establishment line is something that he sees as necessary to protect his current standing. You can have a Nobel Prize (which Nurse does) but someone who read PPE or Classics at Oxford will still have a much more secure social standing than you. He is certainly extremely dogmatic, something he condemns in theory.
Lawson’s background is by contrast very establishment, though his Jewish roots would handicap him in British Leftist eyes
The fact that Nurse got his Ph.D. from that great temple of global warming — the University of East Anglia — is also at least amusing
And an undoubtedly amusing utterance from him is this: “We need to emphasize why the scientific process is such a reliable generator of knowledge with its respect for evidence, for skepticism, for consistency of approach, for the constant testing of ideas”
He himself seems to have no skepticism, no respect for evidence and no interest in the constant testing of ideas. Even Rajendra Pachauri is more honest about the facts than Nurse is — JR
In a letter to the President of the Royal Society, Lord Lawson has criticised Sir Paul Nurse for denying the reality of a global temperature standstill.
Lawson was responding to a gratuitous attack by Sir Paul in a recent lecture at Melbourne University. In his speech, Sir Paul appeared to reject empirical evidence that the global warming trend of the 1980s and 1990s has come to a temporary halt since the beginning of the 21st century.
In his letter, Lord Lawson writes:
“You claim that I “would choose two points and say ‘look, no warming’s taking place’, knowing that all the other points that you chose in the 20 years around it would not support his case”. That is a lie. I have always made clear that there was a modest degree of recorded global warming during the 20th century (see, for example, my book An Appeal to Reason, which you have clearly not taken the trouble to read). However, so far from choosing any arbitrary ‘two points’, I was drawing attention to the fact that this warming trend appears to have ceased, since – contrary to the predictions of what you describe as “consensus scientific opinion” – there has been no further recorded global warming at all for at least the past 15 years, as even the IPCC Chairman, Dr Pachauri, has now conceded. Whatever the precise reason for this, it cannot simply be dismissed or denied.”
SOURCE. (Full letter available from link)
Fury as ‘Liberal’ leader attacks journalists for exposing sex scandal he and his party covered up
Nick Clegg launched an extraordinary attack on the media yesterday for exposing the Lord Rennard scandal. The Deputy Prime Minister accused journalists investigating a cover-up of being ‘self-appointed detectives’.
His ill-judged remarks shocked Tory and Labour MPs, who said he should focus on getting to the truth.
And Alison Smith, a former Liberal Democrat activist who went public with groping claims against Lord Rennard last week, said Mr Clegg was wrong to attack a ‘free press regarded by most as important in a democracy’.
In another twist, the Mail has learnt that senior Lib Dems were attempting to silence whistleblowers only this week.
On Monday, Lord Stoneham, who was the party’s director of operations at the height of the claims against Lord Rennard, made an ‘aggressive’ telephone call to a former party activist who claimed she saw the peer molesting a young woman a decade ago.
He was apparently furious she had contacted this newspaper to complain that her allegations had been swept under the carpet.
On another black day for the Lib Dems:
* A former party frontbencher said she sounded the alarm about Lord Rennard directly with Mr Clegg;
* David Cameron told him he must ‘get to the bottom’ of the allegations;
* Lord Rennard broke his silence to insist he was innocent and claim he had never been confronted with any complaints;
* A Lib Dem councillor claimed she had been molested and knew of nine other victims referred to as ‘Rennard’s red hot babes’;
* Lib Dem health minister Norman Lamb was drawn into the affair by an alleged victim;
* Party officials met detectives who have been called in to assess whether criminal acts may have taken place.
The affair started when former Lib Dem activists went public with claims of sexual harassment against Lord Rennard, who retired as the party’s chief executive in 2009 – ostensibly on health grounds.
After initially denying he knew about the claims until shortly before three women made allegations on Channel 4 News, Mr Clegg admitted he had asked his then chief of staff Danny Alexander to probe ‘non-specific concerns’ about Lord Rennard in 2008.
It has since emerged that Mr Clegg’s office failed to act on specific and detailed allegations of misconduct by the peer made in 2010.
Yesterday Mr Clegg, speaking outside his south-west London home, called for detectives who are now reviewing the claims to be allowed to do their job.
He said: ‘I understand there are many people who appear to want to act as self-appointed detectives trying to piece together events that happened many years ago.
‘But the only way that we are going to get to the bottom of the truth, the only way we are going to ensure that the women whose allegations were broadcast on television last week are properly listened to, the only way were are going to establish exactly what happened and who knew what and when, is by allowing the two investigations that I established immediately after the Channel 4 broadcast to do their job and, indeed, to allow the police, whom we have now approached, to do their job as well.
‘And in the meantime I cannot – and my party cannot – provide a running commentary on every shred of speculation about events which happened many years ago.’
His intervention drew a stinging response from Miss Smith, who wrote on Twitter: ‘Clegg slams “self-appointed detectives”, otherwise known as the free press. Regarded by most as important in a democracy.’
She added: ‘They covered up a massive scandal, and now they don’t want people asking questions.’
She also dismissed the idea that the allegations had been timed to damage the party leadership ahead of a crucial by-election in Eastleigh, which will take place tomorrow.
Toward the end of last year, she and some of the other alleged victims of Lord Rennard’s unwanted advances agreed to go public with their story, and told the party at the end of last month that they had done so.
Therese Coffey, a Tory MP and member of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, said: ‘It is only through the power of the free press and TV that these allegations have come to light. Instead of trying to divert attention by blaming journalists, Nick Clegg should be focusing on getting to the unvarnished truth.’
Conor Burns, another Tory MP, said: ‘Only someone with the genius of Nick Clegg could have a sex scandal that doesn’t involve sex and turn it into a leadership crisis.
Mr Clegg would have to answer fewer questions from the press if he put out a statement that he could stick to about what he knew and when.’
Labour MP John Mann, who wrote to police asking them to investigate, claimed Mr Clegg treated the Rennard accusations as an issue of ‘political management’.
‘The real issue is why didn’t Clegg and the Liberals do the appropriate thing in dealing with this as serious allegation, rather than as political management,’ he said.
Mr Clegg’s aides insisted he had not been attacking broadcasters in his remarks but rather Conservative-supporting newspapers he believes are revelling in the scandal.
‘Homosexuality is a ticking timebomb for the Catholic Church’
You forbid men from having wives and children so you get men who are not interested in that
An openly gay former Dominican friar insisted today that homosexuality is the ‘ticking time bomb in the Catholic Church’ and that homosexual men are ‘massively over-represented’ within the Church.
Mark Dowd, who is now a journalist, said research for his 2001 Channel 4 documentary Queer and Catholic suggested that at least half of people attracted into seminaries in the priesthood are gay.
His comments came as the former leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, said the scandal-hit Catholic Church must undergo renewal and reform.
Mr Dowd told CNN: ‘When you have this culture of secrecy and guilt and repression, you have conditions which foster the potential for blackmail and for manipulation.
‘This is a very unhealthy stage for the church, because basically when you have secrecy, you have lies – and when you have lies, people often are put in terrible pressures of being compromised.’
Meanwhile, the Cardinal said the successor to Benedict XVI would need to be able to tackle reform of the Roman Curia, the Vatican departments which govern the 1.2billion-strong global church.
Last weekend Italian newspapers published claims of homosexuality and blackmail within the Church, with one allegation centering around a secret ‘gay cabal’ of priests, reported CNN.
But veteran Vatican journalist Marco Politi said this idea was ‘rubbish’, adding: ‘Here in the Vatican, there are monsignors who have love affairs, with women and with men. But they hide it.’
Mr Dowd added: ‘I’ve got my own experience of being in religious life myself. And I can tell you that gay men are massively, massively overrepresented in Catholic life. There’s nothing wrong with that.
‘The problem is that a lot of them are told that they are intrinsically unhealthy according to church teaching. And that’s not a very appropriate state of affairs if we’re talking about psychosexual health and emotional maturity.’
‘I’ve got my own experience of being in religious life myself. And I can tell you that gay men are massively, massively overrepresented in Catholic life’
Free speech means we should all have a say about homosexuality
A tolerant country is also one that does not try to shut down debate on controversial issues
Last weekend, my wife and I went to a musical staged by an amateur company for which our youngest son performs. In truth, without that family connection, the show – called Zanna, Don’t! – is not one that we would have normally booked to see. It is set in an alternative world where homosexuality is the natural order of things and heterosexuals are discriminated against. But if this sounds like heavy-handed gay rights propaganda, it was nothing of the sort: the songs were tuneful, the lyrics thoughtful and the dance routines terrific. It was a highly enjoyable evening’s entertainment.
With what I assume is mock irony, the writers describe the musical as a fairy tale and its theme is the oldest of them all: falling in love. When a man and a woman break the taboo against different-sex relationships, they are shunned by the rest of society. You get the point. This is precisely the sort of bigotry that gay people have had to put up with for centuries.
In my lifetime, homosexuality has gone from being illegal to the acme of cool. But something else has happened, too. Everyone is now required to accept this state of affairs whether they like it or not; and if they don’t they are certainly not allowed to say so. It is the flip-side of the point the musical was seeking to make: anyone who questions the officially acceptable view is howled down. Occasionally, they are arrested and threatened with trial for expressing what is essentially an opinion, albeit one that it is no longer fashionable to possess.
Now, you might think it is right to muzzle such people because, in reality, they just don’t like gays and are hiding their disapproval behind a spurious religiosity. In some cases that may be true, but it is not the issue here: this is about free speech. Just as gays are entitled to extol their own sexual identity, so people who take another view, on whatever grounds, should be allowed to say so, shouldn’t they?
This question will tomorrow be tested in the High Court following controversy over an advertising campaign on London transport last year. In the run-up to the mayoral elections, the gay rights group Stonewall took space on the sides of London buses to run the slogan: “Some people are gay. Get over it.” A Christian ministry called Core Issues Trust (CIT) decided to pay for its own campaign with a poster that read “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!” The aim was to advertise the ministry’s contention that it was possible to lose homosexual inclinations and that therapy was available for those who felt they might not be gay after all.
That is clearly a controversial statement. Yet people who have lived as heterosexuals and repressed their homosexuality are praised when they “come out”. Is the alternative, however unlikely, not possible? And even if it isn’t, why can’t you say that it might be? None the less, the CIT poster was banned by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, which is why the matter is going before the courts this week. Dr Mike Davidson, a director of the trust, who describes himself as “ex-homosexual”, says he has been denied the freedom to express his views on the legitimacy of therapy for those dealing with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction. He certainly has a case: if Stonewall can have their say, then why can’t his organisation?
This is by no means an isolated affair. Official disapproval, even the criminalisation, of opinions that a few decades ago were mainstream attitudes poses a significant threat to free speech in this country. After all, who is to decide what is the “correct” view to hold? In this case it was Mr Johnson, who called the CIT poster “clearly offensive”. He added: “London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance.” However, this tolerance does not, it would appear, extend to free speech. Once you start to shut people up for expressing opinions that are not officially approved then you are on a very slippery slope. Transport for London might have taken the view that the Christian poster was offensive, but the same could be said of the Stonewall campaign.
A few years ago, there was another bus‑based spat, this one between atheists and believers over whether God exists. Both sides were allowed their say, though the humanist poster, “There’s probably no God”, left open the possibility that there might be, just in case. Imagine if someone – Boris – had taken the decision that only the atheist poster could run, on the grounds that the scientific evidence of a deity could not be produced. There would have been justifiable outrage.
There is an argument that the CIT poster served to reinforce prejudice against homosexuals by implying they can be “cured”. But, as Dr Davidson said on the Today programme on Monday, people who say they no longer want to live as gays are being accused of “internalised homophobia” when they are merely choosing their own sexual identity. Isn’t that what the gay rights movement was all about?
We are in danger of replacing one brand of narrow-mindedness with another. Increasingly, the courts are being dragged into disputes between people who hold different opinions in what is really an attempt to close down debate on particular subjects. This is the very antithesis of free speech and unless there is an attempt to stir up hatred and violence, the fact that some people may dislike or object to what others say should not be a matter for the law, or for official censorship.
Black British judge caught in a stupid lie
Britain’s top black female judge is being investigated by police for allegedly lying about her involvement in leaking the Chris Huhne speeding points story to the press, a court heard today.
Constance Briscoe, a friend of Vicky Pryce, was arrested after telling police she had not been in contact with the media about the story, when it later appeared that she had, Pryce’s retrial heard today.
Pryce, 60, denies perverting the course of justice, claiming Huhne coerced her into taking three points for him in 2003.
Last week a jury failed to reach a verdict in Pryce’s trial, prompting a retrial at Southwark Crown Court which started yesterday.
The court has heard Pryce, helped by Briscoe, told journalists about the story to get revenge on Huhne after he left her for PR adviser Carina Trimingham in June 2010.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC today read jurors a statement from Detective Inspector Martin Passmore explaining why certain people had not been called as witnesses in the case.
‘Ms Briscoe has provided statements to the police in this case but during the investigation it became apparent that she may have lied about her involvement with the press and that she denied having any contact with the Mail on Sunday or any other media organisation in relation to this story,’ his statement said.
‘Ms Pryce has not been arrested or interviewed in relation to that allegation. For this reason Ms Briscoe has been arrested and is currently under investigation by the police.
‘Ms Briscoe could therefore no longer be relied upon as a witness of truth and on October 2, 2012 the Crown Prosecution Service took the decision not to call Ms Briscoe to give evidence in the case.’
Yesterday Mr Edis told the court Ms Briscoe was a friend and neighbour of Pryce.
‘She was a neighbour of Vicky Pryce in those days and I think she had also had a difficulty in her marriage and they appear to have got closer to each other,’ he said.
‘The two of them appear to have cooked up a plan to go and see the press about Huhne and taking points. They started it together by approaching a man called Andrew Alderson.’
Mr Alderson was a freelance journalist working to provide the story to the Mail on Sunday, the court heard.
Mr Edis said Pryce and Ms Briscoe told Mr Alderson that Huhne had passed speeding points to constituency aide Jo White.
Vicky Pryce arriving in court today
The court heard Pryce (left), helped by Briscoe, told journalists about the story to get revenge on Huhne (right) after he left her for PR adviser Carina Trimingham in June 2010
‘Vicky Pryce and Constance Briscoe went to see Alderson and the story they were giving him was it was Jo White who worked for Huhne in his constituency in Eastleigh,’ he said.
‘The story they were giving the papers was Jo White took points for Huhne when he had nine points.
‘Well, of course, that was a complete lie because the person who took points for Huhne when he had nine points was her (Pryce).’
The jury was told about emails between Ms Briscoe and Mr Alderson, and Mail on Sunday news editor David Dillon.
One email from Ms Briscoe to Mr Dillon on December 30, 2010, explained that the ‘relevant person’ had been ‘bullied and pressurised’ into taking Huhne’s points.
It said: ‘Finally, you will appreciate that I have no particular interest in this story save that I have been asked to act as an intermediary on behalf of the relevant person.’
Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott – who published the story in May 2011 after Pryce confessed to her in March that year – yesterday told the court that although she knew the Mail on Sunday was aware of the story, Pryce had not told her that Ms Briscoe was acting as an intermediary for her with the rival paper.
She said she was not aware the barrister had any dealings with the Mail on Sunday, but knew she was a close friend of Pryce.
In his statement, Det Insp Passmore said neither Mr Alderson nor Mr Dillon would be called as witnesses in Pryce’s trial.
‘Mr Dillon and Mr Alderson have both declined to provide a statement in this case,’ he said, adding that their ‘journalistic material’ was protected by law.
‘As far as I am aware there is no basis in law for the police to compel Mr Dillon and Mr Alderson to provide a statement or to enter court to give evidence in this case.’
Former energy minister Chris Huhne pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and resigned as MP for Eastleigh at the start of the first trial and will be sentenced once this trial is over.