NHS surgeon sued by sixty female patients ‘after two decades of medical blunders’
It’s incredibly difficult to root out bad doctors in Britain
The surgeon who delivered Prime Minister David Cameron’s fourth child, has been allowed to continue working for more than 20 years despite concerns being raised over his performance on more than 20 occasions.
Obstetrician and gynaecologist Rob Jones was allowed to continue working despite a series of blunders including the death of a baby in 2010 for which he was attributed blame.
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust is now facing legal action from 60 female patients following a series of serious errors.
Mr Jones delivered Samantha Cameron’s baby Florence by Caesarian section in 2010 despite an NHS investigation having highlighted his ‘significant surgical incompetence’
He delivered Mrs Cameron’s child at the Royal Cornwall Hospital just seven months after the death of a baby in January 2010 for which he was attributed blame.
Colleagues even attempted to prevent him from working alone and warned that patients were being put at risk.
Medical director of the NHS, Sir Bruce Keogh, called for public auditing of doctors’ performance last night and for them to be properly bound to professional standards.
Mr Jones worked for the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust between 1992 and May last year when he was suspended after concerns had been raised about his care on 23 occasions.
The 64-year-olds performance was first investigated by the trust in 1997 when hospital chiefs became aware that they had received more complaints against Mr Jones than any of his colleagues.
After he was finally suspended when NHS chiefs decided it was unrealistic to retrain him after so many mistakes over such a long period of time, he took himself off the medical register which meant that the General Medical Council could not begin disciplinary measures.
Cases against Mr Jones include a hysterectomy that went wrong leaving a patient in pain and needing four more operations to correct the blunder, a baby who died at just two days old from severe brain damage, and a grandmother whose routine surgery went wrong leaving her in agony for ten years.
The potential 60 cases of legal action come after the NHS Trust already paid out £9million after a baby was born brain damaged back in 1993 after Mr Jones missed warning signs in the mother’s condition.
Following an initial investigation into his performance in 1997, he was investigated again in 1998, but Trust bosses decided it was too big a task to examine records after a nurse highlighted 15 cases of concern in 2001.
He was investigated once more in 2007 and kept his job after persuading the Trust’s then medical director to take no action when a review of 45 cases found ‘significant surgical incompetence’.
College lecturer Carole Gill is planning to take legal action against the trust after her baby daughter Maggie died two days after being born brain damaged in January 2010. Mr Jones and colleagues had failed to spot acute pancreatitis while Miss Gill was pregnant.
He was suspended following that case, but returned to work just a month later.
An inquiry of cases involving Mr Jones between 2010 and last year was finally launched after an anonymous letter was sent to Downing Street raising concerns and was passed onto the Trust.
That review found that 57 women needed further examination after having been treated by Mr Jones and an extra 52 suffered complications.
Of the 57 needing further examination, 50 have since been seen and some are said to be awaiting test results.
Almost 70 women were felt to be ‘at risk’ according to the investigation.
A total of 55 complaints have been received since November 2012.
He was finally declared unfit to return to work in April last year by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Royal Cornwall Hosptials Trust issued an apology to the women and their families for the distress caused and conceded that the concerns over Mr Jones’ performance should have been addressed more urgently.
Hospitals with just one doctor for 30 patients at nights: Institutions with fewest consultants have highest death rates
Patients are being put in danger because of a desperate shortage of senior doctors, a report warns today.
It reveals that the hospitals with the highest death rates are located in areas of the country with the fewest consultants.
Concerns have previously been raised that there are too few consultants working at nights and weekends with critically ill patients left in the hands of junior doctors.
Now doctors have admitted their own care is ‘unsafe’ because in some cases, a single doctor is being forced to look after 30 seriously ill patients at a time.
The state of hospital care has been under scrutiny since a report last month into the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, where up to 1,200 patients died needlessly, warned that it could be happening elsewhere. There has been growing concern that patients are dying needlessly in other hospitals due to neglect and poor treatment.
The Royal College of Physicians today warns that doctors may not realise patients are becoming critically ill because they don’t get round to checking up on them.
One unnamed doctor told the college: ‘I had 30 patients to review. It was a ridiculous number. I was unsafe… I can put my hands up.
‘I think that’s because of the work. I think medicine is unsafe at the moment.’
The report warns that the numbers of senior doctors – consultants and registrars – has not kept pace with the surge in patients coming to hospital, many of whom are elderly.
It also points out that there are more women doctors on wards who will only work part-time when they start a family.
Over the last six years the proportion of consultants working part-time has increased from 12 per cent to 18 per cent. The report says this is due to the increase in women doctors – a third work part-time compared with 6 per cent of men.
Dr Andrew Goddard, a consultant at the Royal Derby Hospital and director of the college’s medical workforce unit, said: ‘Having 30 patients to review in one night is a huge workload. You’re having to make decisions about very sick people. You wouldn’t want to be number 29 on that list.
‘The danger is that if you are low down on that list of jobs and you then become unwell quickly, that isn’t picked up.
‘Patient safety is potentially at risk. There’s a clear association between hospital mortality and the number of senior doctors that are around.’
Nearly 1,200 people have starved to death in NHS hospitals because ‘nurses are too busy to feed patients’
As many as 1,165 people starved to death in NHS hospitals over the past four years fuelling claims nurses are too busy to feed their patients.
The Department of Health branded the figures ‘unacceptable’ and said the number of unannounced inspections by the care watchdog will increase.
According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics following a Freedom of Information request, for every patient who dies from malnutrition, four more have dehydration mentioned on their death certificate.
Critics say nurses are too busy to feed patients and often food and drink are placed out of reach of vulnerable people.
In 2011, 43 patients starved to death and 291 died in a state of severe malnutrition, while the number of patients discharged from hospital suffering from malnutrition doubled to 5,558.
Dianne Jeffrey, chairwoman of Malnutrition Task Force, condemned the statistics.
She told The Sunday Express: ‘Too many are paying the price with their lives while being deprived of the basic right to good nutrition, hydration and support.’
The revelations come after two non-executive directors resigned from Mid Staffordshire health trust after the announcement it was going into administration.
Board members Eleanor Chumley-Roberts and Dr Lyn Hulme are to step down from the trust that was at the centre of the Stafford Hospital scandal.
It has also been announced that Mid-Staffordshire may be the first foundation trust to be put into administration.
Monitor, the watchdog that regulates trusts, said it was considering the move in order to ‘safeguard services’ for local patients.
A public inquiry into the trust said that patients had experienced ‘appalling’ care between 2005 and 2009.
The trust has been the subject of three inquiries in four years.
NHS hospitals have also stood accused of fiddling figures to mask the numbers of patients dying needlessly.
A major investigation is now taking place at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Greater Manchester, where acting chief executive Dr Jackie Bene, stepped down.
The trust 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.
But it is feared that since 2001, an estimated 2,000-plus patients may have died unnecessarily at the trust.
Worcestershire Acute NHS Hospital Trust was forced to pay out more than £400,000 last year in compensation after a patient starved to death and another was left unwashed for 11 weeks.
In one of the worst ever cases of multiple NHS failings, patients were left begging for water or left hungry after trays of food were dumped too far from their reach.
Romanians and Bulgarians snap up 175,000 jobs in the UK already… and that’s before the borders have even opened
More than a quarter of a million Bulgarians and Romanians have come to Britain over the past five years – even before the jobs market is fully opened to them.
About half that number were allowed in as farm workers on short-term contracts and thousands more got permanent posts.
In total, more than 175,000 National Insurance numbers were handed out to workers from the two countries. The remaining 75,000 people settled here with their families.
Campaigners fear that when work restrictions are lifted next year, further pressure will be placed on the jobs market, housing and public services.
Philip Hollobone, Tory MP for Kettering, said: ‘The alarming thing is that even before the borders are flung open, we’re already above a quarter of a million.
‘We’re heading ever closer to my estimate of 425,000 Romanians and Bulgarians, which is a number I simply don’t believe this country can cope with.’
Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union only in 2007 and were not given immediate access to all jobs and services in Britain.
But updated statistics published by the Home Office last week show that between 2007 and 2012, a total of 262,929 applications to work or remain in Britain were approved for Bulgarians and Romanians.
In the past year alone, 14,583 permits for the self-employed and 20,842 for fruit-pickers were granted.
Some of those permits over the past five years may have gone to the same migrants who return to work in fields and factories.
Separate figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions show the volume of National Insurance numbers handed out to Bulgarians and Romanians is also on the rise.
Between 2007 and 2011, there were 176,040 given to workers from the two countries, including a record 40,260 in 2011.
Over the same four-year period, 945 Bulgarians and Romanians were forcibly removed from Britain, 139 were refused entry at the border and 64 left voluntarily. Last week it was revealed that 27,725 Romanians had been arrested in London since 2007, even though only 87,000 people from that country live in Britain.
A Home Office spokesman said last night: ‘Rather than producing speculative projections, we are focusing on cutting out the abuse of free movement and addressing the factors that drive European immigration to Britain.’
Meanwhile, the pressure of immigration on public services has been highlighted by new figures showing that more than 100,000 more primary school places will be needed in England by the next General Election.
The total number of places in England stands at just over 4.3 million, but by 2014-15 it is forecast there will be a deficit of 106,807.
Some of the biggest gaps are in areas where foreign-born mothers are driving increases in the birth rate. In Newham, East London, 4,551 places are needed within three years.
In Peterborough – home to the country’s first school where no pupil speaks English as their main language – 2,216 more places are required.
Ignorance about British literature among British literature students
Largely due to hostility to “dead white males” among their teachers
Top A-level English students are turning up at university believing that Charles Dickens is ‘just as old’ as William Shakespeare, an academic has warned.
They can’t place major works of literature in their historical context and fear being stretched, preferring to stick to easier texts they’ve already read during their sixth form studies.
This is despite the fact they’ve gained three As at A-level, including English, according to Professor Helen Fulton, head of York University’s English and Related Literature department.
The professor of medieval literature highlighted a ‘retreat from difficulty’ among some students who prefer to read short or computer based texts rather than traditional narratives with a beginning, middle and end.
Professor Fulton spoke out at a Westminster Education Forum seminar, where critics described the Coalition’s new English national curriculum as ‘impoverished’ and based on the works of ‘dead white males’.
The Government has scrapped a list of suggested authors At Key Stage Three (ages 11 to 14) and Key Stage Four (14-16).
At Key Stage Four, pupils must study two plays by Shakespeare; representative Romantic poetry; a 19th century novel; First World War poetry; British fiction, poetry or drama since WW1 and world literature written in English.
The Government also lists how they should be taught to ‘read for understanding’ such as by ‘distinguishing between main and subsidiary themes and summarising texts’.
Professor Fulton criticised the Key Stage Four curriculum, saying it ‘seems to emphasise skills rather than knowledge’.
She said: ‘I would have thought it should be the other way round at Key Stage Four.
‘By then, you would expect the skills to be there and you actually want to start broadening the knowledge of the students in terms of the range of texts and the historical development of language in literature as well so there’s some clear sense of chronology.
‘Many students come (here) thinking Dickens is just as old as Shakespeare because they’re all in the past and getting that sense of chronology and literary history is something that we have to work at.’
Professor Fulton said she presided over a ‘very high performing’ English department, which has eight applicants for every place.
It relies on good A-level preparation’ and has to ‘take for granted’ that students ‘come with particular skills and knowledge that we can then build on’.
Professor Fulton said that ‘by and large, we’re not disappointed’ but some students are ‘reluctant’ to stray out of their comfort zone and prefer to take easier options.
This is despite the fact that the department introduces them to different material such as medieval literature and ‘unusual texts from different periods’.
She said: ‘We do have some worries about the tendency towards a retreat from difficulty, for example students feeling slightly reluctant to be stretched, slightly reluctant to go outside their comfort zone because they’re afraid they won’t be able to write on something they’re not familiar with.’
Some students believe it will take too long to learn something new and it’s ‘much easier to dash something off on a Shakespeare play that they’ve already studied for A-level’.
She said: ‘So that retreat from difficulty is something that we’re trying to come to terms with and trying to nurture the confidence of students in working with material they’re not familiar with.
‘We’re also very aware of the impending death of narrative.
‘It does seem to be a tendency that students are consuming texts that are not basically narratives in the classic realist sense of having a beginning, a middle and end and a bit of plot development and character development.
‘Again that’s something that we’re trying to manage and deal with. I’m sure it’s the same in A-level classes as well.’
Professor Fulton added that A-level students should be aware of contemporary literature and know, for example, the Booker prize winners.
Meanwhile, Dr Simon Gibbons, chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) told the seminar that the government’s plans for English in secondary schools is too narrow and old fashioned.
He said the new curriculum was a ‘pretty impoverished version of what English is’, with a narrow range of reading containing a canon of ‘dead white males’.
Realism peeps through in a “Guardian” article
The author below knows that scares are now heavily discredited so tones that down. The foundation of his story is however still risible — None other than a quote from the hysterical Jim Hansen. That there is at the present no warming to lead to the calamities he predicts he ignores. Global warming is for him an axiom, not a testable fact. More cynically, it is just a good hook to hang his book on
After millennia of falsely predicting the apocalypse, humanity has become understandably flippant. There were so many threatened catastrophes in 2012, from rolling earthquakes to interstellar collisions and a misunderstanding of the Mayan calendar that the quips began to flow. “People are making apocalypse jokes like there’s no tomorrow,’ was a favourite.
But just because we’ve been wrong so many times before, does that mean we’re safe forever? Or have we been lulled into a false sense of security, and do the timeframes involved disguise the scale of the risks posed to conditions for human civilisations?
Look back far enough and you’ll see that very bad things do happen. The world has experienced five mass extinction events during which over 95% of marine species and 80% of four legged creatures died out.
The climate warmed during the gloriously named Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), driving one of Earth’s more recent extinction events 55m years ago. Now we are living through a man-made mass extinction event.
The PETM was bad, but NASA climate scientist James Hansen notes that with global warming today, climate zones are moving about 10 times faster than they did during the PETM extinction. It’s an indicator of the force and speed of the unintended consequences of our economic activity, and something which makes it impossible for many species to adapt. And left unaddressed that could be the case for humanity too.
Homo Sapiens may feel smugly secure in our abilities, but its worth remembering we’ve only been around for a humble 300,000 years or so. The dinosaurs lasted for about 165m years, and we seem to be trying hard not to outlive them.
Vast subsidies pour into the fossil fuel industries, and in the UK new tax breaks have encouraged investment at a 30-year high into North Sea oil and gas exploration and production.
That is in spite of the best science available suggesting that we can only afford to burn around a quarter or a fifth of proven reserves if we are to avoid potentially runaway global warming. And, instead of climate campaigners being applauded for their actions, they are being hounded with £5 million law suits.
My new book, Cancel the Apocalypse, is about how we can face this challenge positively, without slipping into denial, despair or cynical profiteering.
With the right approaches we can all benefit from re-engineering our financial, food, transport and energy systems. We can re-imagine the shape of our high streets and the pattern of our working weeks to improve the quality of our lives and lessen our burden on the biosphere. But this can only happen if we let go of the tenacious economic dogma that has taken root in recent decades. Perversely, as evidence mounts of its failure to spread the benefits of enterprise, its lack of respect for its natural resource base, or even its ability to succeed on its own terms, the old ideas are clung to more tightly. Political familiarity misinterpreted as security.
A great day for British justice: Theresa May vows to take UK out of the European Court of Human Rights
Britain is set to pull out of the discredited European Convention on Human Rights that has allowed dangerous criminals and hate preachers to remain in the UK.
It marks a triumph for The Mail on Sunday’s campaign against the ludicrous abuses of justice carried out in the name of human rights.
The historic move, to be announced soon by Home Secretary Theresa May, would mean foreign courts could no longer meddle in British justice.
The European Convention has led to such hugely controversial decisions as banning the deportation of radical cleric Abu Qatada and giving British prisoners the right to vote.
Mrs May’s bold proposals to include the move in the next Tory Election manifesto reflect the party’s growing hostility towards Europe. If enacted, her policy would leave British judges free to interpret the law without interference from the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Mrs May wants to withdraw from the convention before the next Election in 2015, but Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a keen pro-European, has made it clear he will veto the initiative.
As a result, it is set to be a manifesto promise to be put into action if David Cameron wins an overall majority. Together with the Prime Minister’s vow to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, it will give the Tory manifesto a strong anti-European theme to combat the increasing appeal of UKIP.
The provisions of the European convention are already enshrined in British law in the Human Rights Act – but under Mrs May’s plan, the final right of appeal would be to the British Supreme Court, not Strasbourg.
The proposal is bound to be seen as a response to the Tories’ humiliation of being beaten into third place in the Eastleigh by-election by Nigel Farage’s rampant UKIP. But well-placed sources insist the Home Secretary has been working on the issue for months, supported by Mr Cameron and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, and say it is not a ‘knee jerk’ response to the drubbing.
Last night, Nick de Bois, secretary of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs and a member of the Commons Justice Select Committee, hailed the move as ‘hugely significant’.
He said: ‘This would be a crucial pledge that will convince many, many voters to return a Conservative government at the next Election.
‘It is imperative that we have legal decisions made here, not in Strasbourg. With this pledge, no longer will foreign criminals be able to take refuge in this country when they should be deported immediately after being released from prison.’
Mr Clegg blocked a similar move after Mr Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010.
As a compromise, the Coalition set up a panel to investigate the possibility of a British Bill of Rights. But after 19 months and £700,000 of taxpayers’ money, the panel was branded ‘fatally flawed’ when it produced its findings last year: it did not even discuss whether Britain should pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights.
An attempt to reform the convention last year by Mr Cameron was dismissed as a flop after experts said it amounted to little more than ‘tinkering’.
The Prime Minister said the European Court was in danger of being ‘swamped’ by unimportant cases and had undermined its own reputation by overturning judgments decided in British courts.
Fewer cases should go to Strasbourg and British judges should be left to decide outcomes more often, he said.
But Mr Cameron’s move to significantly limit the court’s powers to influence the British legal process was opposed by Sir Nicolas Bratza, the British judge who headed the Strasbourg court until November.
Sir Nicolas, 67, accused countries such as Britain of trying to ‘dictate’ how it should operate.
He demanded independence for the court’s judges and said he was determined to protect ‘minority interests’ who bring cases to the court.
Sir Nicholas said that he had ‘no sympathy’ with critics of the ECHR who call for a shift in power away from Strasbourg.
The ECHR was set up after the Second World War to prevent torture and human rights abuses. The court was established in 1959, giving complainants direct access to justice at a European level.
But critics say the court has grown out of all proportion, and its judges do not even need to have any judicial experience in their homeland.
Lord Hoffman, a former Law Lord, said last year: ‘The Strasbourg Court has taken upon itself an extraordinary power to micromanage the legal systems of the member states of the Council of Europe. The very concept of human rights is being trivialised by silly interpretations.’
In theory, the Council of Europe, a body with 47 member states which oversees the Strasbourg court, could retaliate against Mrs May by expelling Britain. But this has not happened to other countries found guilty of flouting human rights laws in the past.
Opposition to the ECHR in Britain has been fuelled by a series of high-profile cases. The court wants to see tens of thousands of prisoners, including murderers and rapists, being given the vote, regardless of the offence that they have committed.
Its ruling, in defiance of a 100-year ban on votes for prisoners in the UK, came after the ECHR backed a complaint by John Hirst, a convicted axe killer.
The ECHR rejected an overwhelming vote by MPs for maintaining the ban, as Mr Cameron protested that the thought of prisoners voting made him feel ‘physically ill.’ Instead the ECHR threatened to award compensation in thousands of cases if the Prime Minister refused to change the law.
Last November, hate preacher Abu Qatada was freed after defying attempts by Mrs May to deport him to Jordan, where he is wanted on terror charges.
His victory came after an ECHR ruling that his trial in Jordan could be unfair because some of the evidence might have been obtained by torture. The original objection was that Qatada himself could face torture, prompting Mrs May to accuse the ECHR of ‘moving the goalposts’.
Qatada has received hundreds of thousands of pounds in benefits, while his praise for terror attacks led to him being dubbed Al Qaeda’s ‘ambassador in Europe’.
British Green belt at risk as gipsy camp rules are enforced
Ministers have ordered councils to increase the number of authorised sites for gipsy families, despite concerns that the ruling could increase tensions and see more caravans in the countryside.
Local authorities are also being given financial incentives, through council tax bonuses, to build traveller sites. A separate £60 million government fund will help cover construction costs.
Without action, the number of travellers’ caravans in unauthorised camps will almost double from 2,400 in 2010 to 4,500 by 2015, claims the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The total number of gipsy and traveller caravans in England and Wales has increased by 39 per cent between 2000 and 2011 to 18,383.
Nick Boles, the planning minister, said all councils must have allocated enough land by March 27 to cover rising numbers of traveller sites for the next five years.
Mr Boles said the measures would see more authorised sites for traveller camps, reducing the number of illegal settlements, such as the former camp at Dale Farm in Essex.
Ministers believe the policy will ease tensions between travellers and local residents in permanent housing and ultimately save councils money on evictions.
However, the official “impact assessment” on the rules warns of a risk that the arrangements will result in more unauthorised camps in the countryside.
“There is a potential risk that local authorities will not consider working together to produce joint plans,” the document says. “There may also be potential risks to areas such as the Green Belt if a local planning authority has special or strict planning constraints across its area unless neighbouring authorities were to work with it.”
The Government said national planning guidance had increased protection for the green belt, while councils will have more powers to tackle unauthorised camps.
British politician subjected to 6-month ‘£100,000’ police racism probe for telling man he is ‘unkempt’
A former Government Minister has been subjected to a ‘humiliating’ six-month racism investigation by police after describing a voter who claims to have a Romany Gipsy background as unkempt.
Conservative MP Tim Loughton was summoned to a police station where he was questioned under caution by detectives for 90 minutes.
The MP, an Education Minister at the time, had to mingle with drug dealers and was asked if he could read or write or had mental health problems, an experience he said was ‘unsettling and intimidating’.
The investigation was sparked by a strongly worded email in which Mr Loughton backed his local council’s description of someone he considered a troublesome constituent. In the email, the MP told the constituent, Kieran Francis, that he agreed with the description of him as ‘unkempt’.
But Mr Francis claimed this was racist because he has ‘Romany Gipsy origins’ and said his MP was ‘being disrespectful’ by calling him ‘dirty’.
Mr Loughton later made clear to the police he had no knowledge of Mr Francis’s background.
During the investigation, which is likely to have cost taxpayers up to £100,000, Mr Loughton’s staff were also interviewed and hours were spent trawling through archives for evidence before it was abruptly dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service last month.
The 50-year-old MP for East Worthing and Shoreham-by-Sea yesterday said he would be demanding an explanation from Sussex Chief Constable Martin Richards.
He said: ‘I am very angry that time and money has been wasted in pursuing what was clearly a vexatious and malicious complaint that had no substance.
‘Because of the merest hint of something to do with racism and the sensitivities about travellers, the police go into overdrive.’