Grandmother killed herself after ‘failures at every level’ as a result of NHS cost-cutting, which forced her to leave care home
A grandmother killed herself after she was forced to leave a care home because of NHS cost-cutting.
An inquest found there were ‘failures at every level’ in the care of Sheila McInulty, 65, who died from a lethal overdose of prescription medication in February 2011 after managers ignored the advice of psychiatrists and removed her from the Mountview recovery unit in Northwood.
Ms McInulty, of Edgware, west London, was suffering with a mental health condition and had repeatedly attempted suicide, the Harrow Times reported.
A psychiatrist report recommended extended rehabilitation for the grandmother, with the aim that she would be able to return home.
But a funding decision by NHS Barnet and Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust meant that Mrs McInulty was released early.
North London coroner’s court as told that the mother-of-three died after a string of failures by managers who passed responsibility for funding her care from NHS Barnet to Harrow council in order to save costs.
In July 2009, after a review of the minicab manager’s health, she was transferred from a Barnet care home to Mountview residential care home, where her condition improved.
But in September 2010 a funding assessment decided that she would be transferred from the health trust to the Harrow Borough Council as it was mistakenly believed she had social care needs.
In November she was given just two days’ notice to leave Mountview despite a review nine days earlier in which a psychiatrist said she presented ‘an ongoing significant risk’ of another overdose.
Clinical staff told the NHS commissioning manager the move was not in her interest, might cause harm and interrupt rehabilitation but the decision was not changed and Mrs McInulty was sent home to an empty house as her husband was working away from home.
Although at first she coped well, her condition deteriorated and she committed suicide the following February.
Her daughter, Marie Coulter, 44, a legal secretary, said ‘I’m angry, I’m upset, I’m heartbroken and I’m devastated,’ the Evening Standard reported.
Coroner Andrew Walker, who delivered a narrative verdict, said: ‘This represented a significant failure on the part of the individuals involved in the process and was the beginning of a chain of events that led to and directly caused Mrs McInulty’s death.’
Central and North West London Foundation Trust – working on behalf of Harrow Council – was also criticised for not allowing the office manager to remain in the care home when it became responsible for her care, Barnet Today reported.
Mr Walker said: ‘There were failures at every level in this process. The two care workers present (at her assessment) did not understand the process.’
The inquest was told that no supporting documents were gathered for the assessment and that a decision document that had been completed earlier had been lost and not rewritten.
Barnet clinical commissioning group — previously the Barnet primary care trust — has apologised to Mrs McInulty’s family, the Evening Standard reported.
A spokesman for the NHS agencies involved said that it had agreed an action plan to ensure that lessons were learned. A spokesman for Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust said that it had reviewed its processes.
Patient dubbed ‘the invisible man’ by a coroner was ignored by hospital doctors for three DAYS before he died
An elderly patient was left for three days in a hospital without being seen by a doctor, an inquest has heard. Walter Coles, 88, was ‘substantially overlooked’ and senior doctors were unaware of his arrival. Dubbed ‘the invisible man’ by the coroner, he died at Wycombe Hospital, Buckinghamshire, on 9 July 2012.
Mr Coles been transferred there from Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury, three days earlier.
The inquest heard that a catalogue of errors occurred with Mr Coles’ care. As well as not being seen by a doctor, registrars were not told of his move and his medication chart went missing – before being filled out again by a doctor who hadn’t examined him.
Coroner Richard Hulett ruled that Mr Coles, of Quainton, Buckinghamshire, died of natural causes, but added the 88-year-old had been ‘substantially overlooked’ while he was under the care of Wycombe Hospital.
And he said the lack of evidence over what had happened was ‘verging on the useless’ for staff tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding Mr Coles’ death.
Mr Coles did not arrive until around midnight of Friday 6 into Saturday 7 July, but Dr Thomas Chapman, the on-call registrar, was not told of his admission – which meant protocol to have him medically reviewed was not carried out.
Dr Chapman told Beaconsfield Coroner’s Court: ‘I can be absolutely certain I wasn’t informed of his arrival. It could have been escalated to night manager or the consultant on call. There’s no record of that.’
The registrar on-call during the day, who was unable to be identified, knew of Mr Coles’ imminent transfer but went off duty at 5pm and neglected to tell the person replacing them. This meant news of his arrival was not subsequently passed on to Dr Chapman.
Mr Hulett said: ‘There’s no evidence the appropriate doctor at Wycombe on the late afternoon shift knew Mr Coles was coming. ‘There was a responsibility for the nurses in charge to report this late arrival to the duty registrar. That didn’t take place.’
At some point on Saturday Mr Coles’ drug chart went missing and a replacement was produced by Dr Thomas Morgan based on his medical notes.
But Mr Hulett said: ‘He never saw the patient, never reviewed him at all and never raised the question, “Has anybody looked at this patient?”.’
Nurse Faith Tamangani told the inquest she could recall having a telephone conversation with a doctor about Mr Coles but could not remember who she spoke to, nor could she recall reporting his arrival to Dr Chapman.
Mr Hulett said in his summing up that ‘record keeping and communication were poor’ and the doctor referred to by Nurse Tamangani was ‘not identified and completely unidentifiable’.
He added: ‘What was recorded was verging on the useless – it made impossible for those who came to enquire to identify the doctor and say to that doctor, “Why did nobody do anything or attend the patient?”‘
The coroner recorded Mr Coles died of natural causes but added: ‘Although he does succumb to this and he does die of a medical cause, he becomes the invisible man of that ward. ‘The fact somebody died and would have done so is no excuse for being substantially overlooked while they are in an NHS hospital.’
Lynne Swiatczak, Chief Nurse and Director of Patient Care Standards with Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said after Wednesday’s inquest: ‘We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family of Mr Coles.
‘We carried out a thorough investigation into Mr Coles’ care, which identified that standard Trust processes were not always followed.
‘We have taken, and continue to take, action to strengthen the processes we have in place, including documentation and re-training staff on record-keeping and communication. The coroner indicated that lessons had been learned at the Trust since Mr Coles’ death.
‘We will take the time to reflect on what was said at the inquest. While Mr Coles died of natural causes, as reported by the coroner, we will of course consider what further action we can take to learn from this.
‘The Trust is committed to providing excellent patient care and ensuring patient safety.’
Why dull, dumpy, divorced men are the new sex gods
I think Rachel Johnson exaggerates a lot below but colourful ways of putting things are her birthright, of course. She is the sister of Boris Johnson. I must admit however that when my wife left me when I was 49, I did have some rather good times subsequent to that, despite being an “egghead” — JR
According to solicitors, couples have rushed in droves to divorce ahead of the cuts to the £2 billion legal aid budget that came in this month.
May – when the wedding season traditionally gets going – is around the corner, but this year we seem to have fewer weddings and a funeral on Wednesday – and a lot of accelerated divorces.
Meanwhile, Tom Cruise reportedly told German TV last week that he never expected to be divorced at 50 (a comment he later denied making). But I can’t worry about Cruise. He’s a fun-sized movie star and, like many men, he can arise phoenix-like from the ashes of his marriage.
The ones I worry about are the ex-wives, who often can’t.
For where I live, there must be five available, attractive and lively divorced women to each available – if ever so slightly dull – divorced man. It wouldn’t matter if he was a wife-beater, serial killer or had sex at Premier Inns with strangers he met online: the male of the species is still a trophy guest and the woman, generally, isn’t.
As my husband [Eton-educated journalist Ivo Nicholas Payan Dawnay] jests, if we ever split up, I would join the ranks of predatory females in their forties, flicking my blow dry in desperation as I trolled the internet for a mate, whereas he, handsome and with all his own hair, would be a total catch at sixty.
Indeed, he would never have to cook a meal again, he reckons, so swamped would he be by competing invitations. All he would need to do is coast majestically through the remaining ocean of his life, like a large whale, opening his jaws for female plankton only when he felt like it.
This problem is endemic. There is even a column in a national newspaper called The Plankton, ‘written by a divorcee at the bottom of the sexual food chain’, which tells you all you need to know about the different value society places on single men and single women.
Wherever you live, a nice, normal ‘extra man’ is a semi-mythical creature of rare report, like a snow leopard in the mountains of Bhutan, whereas a nice, normal single woman is often just excess baggage.
Now, for some reason (divorce), a few more male singletons have suddenly been released on to the market, which is causing great excitement among local hostesses. One – nice, normal, ie not Tom Cruise – came to ‘kitchen supper’ last week so I had an opportunity to test out my husband’s theory.
‘Frank,’ I asked (not his real name. He started sweating with panic during our exchange that I would use it). ‘What’s it like, you know, OUT THERE?’
‘Vibrant,’ Frank said, glugging his red wine. ‘Go on,’ I said, pouring him more.
‘Well, what happens is, you meet someone and you jump into bed with them immediately, and then, if you like them …. um … you try to find intimacy afterwards.’
This may be too much information for you but it wasn’t enough for me. ‘You mean you have sex with people you’ve only just met?’ I shrieked. I am old-fashioned that way.
‘Yes,’ Frank said. At this point a student listening said: ‘The middle-aged dating scene sounds exactly like the first year at Edinburgh.’
But this doesn’t work both ways. As I’ve observed, if you’re a newly-single man, you’re a prime cut of Fresh Meat. But if you’re a newly-single woman, of the same vintage, you’re ‘not wanted on voyage’. But back to Frank’s sex life. ‘Do you do it a lot?’ I asked.
‘I could do it every night if I wanted to,’ he said.
Why is this? Well, all the obvious things. A man who is reasonably presentable, and not actively psychopathic, has his pick of women of any age. Women generally have a more limited range to choose from (their age and older). As poor Ms Plankton has written, ‘all I want is a companionable, kind, age-appropriate person who can string two words together, is largely heterosexual and preferably doesn’t live in Auckland.’
But the real rub is, divorced women aren’t just short of social capital, but actual capital, too. According to the LSE’s Professor Stephen Jenkins, who’s conducted a major study on the financial impact of divorce, men on average get richer after splitting up and women get poorer. The ex-husband’s income goes up by around one third, while the ex-wife’s drops to one fifth of its previous level. The women who survive divorce best, he says, are those who are either in paid work or who find a new partner.
This must explain, then, why many divorced women are still so keen on what Mrs T called the ‘weaker sex,’ and why men are so sought after. It’s a case of supply, demand, and dosh too.
‘So, what sort of women do you meet?’ I asked Frank over pudding. “Divorced women my age. Younger women, singles …. but they’re even more frightening,’ he added. ‘Why?’ I asked.
‘Because they want to get married,’ he replied, with a little shiver.
It does seem to appear that my husband has a point, which is annoying.
Which of these PMs sacked the most miners? (Clue: It wasn’t Lady Thatcher)… The amazing facts that make a mockery of the rabble who want to wreck her funeral
As ever, it was Winston Churchill, our greatest of wartime Prime Ministers, who put it best. ‘I am ready to meet my Maker,’ he wrote, but ‘whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.’
There will be many who will be thinking that the sentiment could equally apply to Lady Thatcher, albeit for different reasons. Her achievements were primarily about economic policy, and therefore remain the object of bitter controversy.
But while Wednesday’s funeral will be a solemn send-off for a Prime Minister who we can at least all agree transformed Britain, rather than a day of national mourning for the passing of a war hero, let us also hope that the country is allowed to judge her on her actual accomplishments, uncontaminated by her opponents’ propaganda.
Judging by some of the recent coverage, Thatcher’s enemies have successfully spread a series of damaging myths about her. Many of these sound plausible, and are even accepted by some of her supporters, but few stand up to proper scrutiny.
Take the myth that Thatcher was deeply unpopular. The truth is that she won 43.9 per cent of the vote in 1979, 42.4 per cent in 1983 and 42.2 per cent in 1987 – landslide results of which contemporary politicians can only dream.
Yet her defeated opponents, such as Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock, are rarely described as ‘divisive’ or ‘toxic’, even though they were routed on Election night and were demonstrably far less popular.
Today, Thatcher’s opinion polls are even more spectacular. YouGov finds that she is deemed the greatest post-1945 Prime Minister, and that 52 per cent of the public believe she was a great or a good PM. Yes, many hated her – often with an intensity that defies rational analysis – but many loved her.
It has also become fashionable to blame one of her greatest triumphs – the sale of council homes to tenants – for today’s horrendous housing crisis and long waiting lists.
Britain’s social housing sector was almost Soviet in size before Thatcher’s right-to-buy scheme was introduced, accounting for a third of all homes. Yet today, even after the sell-offs, it is a little-known fact that it remains much larger than in most other countries – worth up to a fifth of the total. That’s more than Denmark, Sweden, France, Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia, Germany and Italy.
Yet these countries clearly do not all suffer from the same problems that we do. There is no reason why the State should own the homes in which it houses the poor. The UK’s insufficient supply of homes is directly attributable to the fact that the Thatcherite revolution sadly left untouched the post-1945 planning system, one of Britain’s last bastions of socialist thinking.
We need the private sector to build more homes to make sure there are enough for everybody, at affordable prices, not hark back to a dystopian vision of the government as a super-landlord.
Modern anti-Thatcherites tend to dislike coal mining for environmental reasons. But that doesn’t prevent them from hypocritically pinning the demise of a once great industry on her policies.
That, too, is nonsense: the industry had been in crisis for decades, crippled by excessive costs and international competition. Far more miners lost their jobs in the Sixties than in the Eighties. No government, be it Labour or Tory, could afford to keep propping up unviable mines indefinitely.
The slow demise of coal mining has been a tragedy for many communities, and the cause of much suffering. But more mines were closed during Harold Wilson’s two terms in office than in Thatcher’s three – and yet he remains a Left-wing hero.
What her detractors still cannot accept is that Thatcher’s supply-side reforms may have been painful but they worked.
Tax cuts encouraged work, reduced inflation and made it easier for business, and a new generation of entrepreneurs began to create jobs. The UK soon started to close the gap with the US and eventually overtook France and Germany in terms of national income per person.
Our economy grew by 2.07 per cent annually in the Seventies and 3.09 per cent in the Eighties, before expanding by 2.77 per cent in the Nineties (when Thatcher’s legacy remained largely intact) and by 1.77 per cent in the 2000s, when it was wrecked by Gordon Brown. Manufacturing production rose 7.5 per cent during her time in office (demolishing the myth that she destroyed British industry), while services boomed.
Of course, manufacturing’s relative importance declined – but the same shift happened in every developed economy. Partly because of the credit crunch, manufacturing output performed far worse during the Blair-Brown years, ending slightly below the levels seen at the end of Thatcher’s time in office.
Britian’s economic rebirth was fuelled by spending restraint and mass privatisations. Total expenditure rose modestly in real terms, partly because of higher spending on the NHS, but the rate of increase was kept below that of the economy, ensuring that the State’s overall grip was substantially loosened.
Public spending fell from 44.6 per cent of national income in 1979-1980 to 39.4 per cent in 1990-91. Entire chunks of the economy – including British Telecom and BP – were moved into the private sector, transforming loss-making bureaucracies into world-class firms.
The real extent of the fall in public spending under Thatcher is masked by the recession of the early Eighties as the UK was weaned from sky-high inflation. Spending rose to a peak of 48.2 per cent of national income by 1982-83, the economy battered by soaring unemployment, before embarking on a dramatic decline.
The peak-to-trough reduction in spending was a remarkable 8.8 per cent of national income, though this was exaggerated in the last couple of years by Lord Lawson’s cheap money bubble.
Another reason for the rebound was that tax rates were slashed. Some point to the fact that total receipts increased from 33.7 per cent of national income in 1979-80 to 34.9 per cent as proof that she wasn’t a real tax-cutter. That is nonsense. She raised value-added tax, but her massive cuts to income and corporation tax were hugely significant.
The increase in the tax take was caused primarily by the rebound in economic growth.
Thatcher made many mistakes, of course, but most of her critics’ arguments have little basis in fact. She saved the economy and country from terminal decline and transformed British society for the better.
She was a truly great Prime Minister, the peacetime equivalent of a Churchill. If there is any justice, that will be her epitaph.
What’s the difference between the women below?
Smoking and ageing. Both pix are of Glenda Jackson, a former filmstar, presently a Labour Party member of the House of Commons and a Thatcher hater. No woman would smoke if she knew how many wrinkles it would earn her in later life. Jackson is now in her mid 70s.