Grandfather ‘branded a drama king’ by hospital staff died from neglect after bleeding to death
Olamide Eso is a Nigerian name
A grandfather was allegedly branded a ‘drama king’ by an NHS doctor just hours before he died in agony, an inquest heard today.
The coroner decided Ronald Tatchell, 66, died of medical neglect after suffering severe pain following a back operation in hospital.
Hospital officials have apologised to his family over his ‘tragic’ death with the promise of a full investigation.
The hearing was told that a ward nurse alerted a doctor as Mr Tatchell was in extreme pain – but claimed she was told the patient was a ‘drama king’.
Father-of-two Mr Tatchell was the victim of a ‘whole system failure’ by staff at the 530-bed Llandough Hospital in Cardiff.
Retired bailiff Mr Tatchell was recovering well from the operation and his family was looking forward to him coming home.
But his colour suddenly drained, the whites of his eyes turned yellow and his abdomen became swollen and tender. Staff nurse Rhian Grapes told the inquest: ‘I told the senior house officer who referred to him as being a drama king.’
But senior house officer Dr Olamide Eso denied the nurse’s claim – saying: ‘I can categorically say that I did not refer to Mr Tatchell this way. ‘That’s just not how I would speak about my patients.’
The inquest heard that ward manager Sally Lewis became so concerned she went over Dr Eso’s head by contacting the surgeon who carried out the operation. Miss Lewis said: ‘I didn’t feel the doctor looking after him had assessed Ron’s condition enough.’
The inquest heard blood samples taken at 6.30am were marked ‘urgent’, but the results were not received until around 11.55am.
Surgeon Declan O’Doherty, who carried out a review of the treatment, told the hearing: ‘The whole thing was just dysfunctional.
‘At no stage did anyone actually know what his state was – I think there’s been effectively a whole system failure.’
Retired council bailiff Mr Tatchell, of Bridgend, South Wales, died of hypovolemic shock as a result of haemorrhage following spinal surgery.
Cardiff assistant deputy coroner Christopher Woolley ruled that Mr Tatchell died as a result of neglect by hospital staff.
He said: ‘There was a continuous sequence of shortcomings.There’s a link between the failure and Ron’s death. So I do find there has been neglect.’
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has apologised to Mr Tatchell’s widow Angela, 66, and his two sons Steven, 36, and Matthew, 42.
Director of nursing Ruth Walker said: ‘Words are of little comfort at such a distressing time but we would like to offer our sincere and unreserved apologies to Mr Tatchell’s family. The failures in his care are absolutely unacceptable.
‘While no one individual is to blame, it is clear that the system let down Mr Tatchell, with tragic consequences.
‘We have already undertaken a full and in-depth investigation into Mr Tatchell’s care which we shared with his family and the coroner ahead of the inquest.
‘We will review urgently the detail of his findings to make sure that we address fully all of the failings identified.’
Nurses swamped by paperwork
Nurses are “drowning in a sea of paperwork”, the Royal College of Nursing has warned today, after figures suggested they spend 2.5 million hours a week on administration.
A poll on behalf of the union found that nurses across the UK spend an average of 17.3% of their time on non-essential paperwork and clerical tasks.
The RCN, which released the figures ahead of its annual congress in Liverpool, said that nurses, who work for a combined 14.3 million hours a week, are being prevented from caring for patients.
Over four in five nurses (81%) said that having to complete non-essential paperwork prevented them from providing care.
Almost nine in 10 of the 6,000 nurses surveyed said the amount of non-essential paperwork such as filing, photocopying and ordering supplies had increased in the last two years.
In February, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced he had commissioned the NHS Confederation to work with bodies to see how paperwork could be reduced.
“These figures prove what a shocking amount of a nurse’s time is being wasted on unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy,” said Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN.
“Yes, some paperwork is essential and nurses will continue to do this, but patients want their nurses by their bedside, not ticking boxes.
“We are encouraged that the Government has acknowledged this issue, and the ongoing review by the NHS Confederation is a step in the right direction, but urgent action is needed now.”
Labour’s shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne said: “David Cameron is cutting the NHS front line and wasting billions on a chaotic reorganisation, leaving hospitals to operate without enough staff. Now form-filling is taking nurses away from their patients for longer and longer.
“Under this Government, close to 5,000 nursing posts have been axed, with over 800 going in the last month alone.
“On understaffed wards, a nurse’s time becomes increasingly precious – they must be free to care for patients. Ministers must stop the job losses and ensure all hospitals have enough staff to provide safe care.”
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said the coalition Government has significantly cut the amount of red tape in the NHS and is examining how to reduce bureaucracy further.
He added: “NHS staff need to be free to do what we were trained to do – look after patients, so patients not paperwork must be our NHS’s priority.”
Shorter school days only thwart the young
The career options for state-educated children go hand in hand with reduced teaching time, writes Margot James
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is right to be concerned about the length of the school day in state schools. In his recent speech to the Spectator education conference, he presented his case in the context of international competition. China, he pointed out, is the country that puts our young people at the greatest disadvantage in terms of time spent learning. On average, Chinese students are in class for 17 hours per week more than their British counterparts.
However, international competition is not the only reason to consider lengthening our school day. Social mobility is an equally pressing concern. Although only 7 per cent of the population attend independent schools, they account for 70 per cent of High Court Judges, 54 per cent of FTSE 100 company chief executive officers and 54 per cent of leading journalists. A survey of the big professional firms found that they recruited graduates from just the top 20 universities.
Independently educated students attained three times as many A grades at A-level in 2012 as state school pupils. They are also far more likely to be gaining A and A* grades in subjects required by Russell Group universities.
Problems begin at 14, when students choose their GCSE courses, as the independent school pupils are more likely to choose subjects (apart from English and Maths) that are acceptable to the top universities. According to the Sutton Trust, only 30 per cent of state school students apply to a Russell Group university compared with 50 per cent of independent schools. And that is before the difference in grades is even considered.
I have researched the typical day in the state and independent sectors from a survey of state schools in my local borough of Dudley and of 50 leading independent schools. I have also been working with Russell Group universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, seeing the work they do to reach out to state school students to inspire them to study the subjects required by top universities.
Comparisons between the state and independent sector reveal that during term time, far more is expected of independently educated students. The only greater demand placed on state school pupils is the length of the school term: state schools open for 190 days per year compared with an independent school average of 174 days.
But having been educated independently myself, I am shocked at the sight of all the state schools emptying at 3pm; when I visit secondary schools, I am always surprised to find netball matches and school-play rehearsals going on in the middle of the school morning.
Most state schools start at 9am and finish at 3pm, whereas most independent schools start at 8.30am and finish at 4.30pm. Furthermore, many of the latter teach on Saturday mornings. On average, independent pupils work an hour and 45 minutes longer in class per day than pupils in the state sector.
So, although the gap between the state and independent sectors is not as great as the divide that separates British and Chinese institutions, it still amounts to eight hours a week. Young people in independent schools are, therefore, in class for the equivalent of just over one day per week more than those in state schools.
The other big difference lies in what is going on during school hours. In many state schools, most extracurricular activities such as sport and drama take place between 9am and 3pm, whereas in most independent shcools they happen after the bell rings at 4.30pm or during breaks. Of course, such activities are vital to development on many levels; but independent schools do not permit them to interfere with valuable learning time.
Unsurprisingly, then, my research suggests that young people in state schools are attending six lessons a day on average while their independent sector counterparts have seven.
The implications of shorter teaching time are not confined to the field of academic progress. The problem affects young people aiming for an apprenticeship or skills training from the age of 16 just as much as it does a potential university applicant. Employers complain that new recruits find it difficult to cope with the length of the working day.
Critics claim that what matters is not the length of a school day, but the quality of the teaching. But while this is of paramount importance, there is nothing to suggest that teaching quality is fundamentally different between the state and independent sectors. In other words, the amount of time spent in class becomes a crucial factor in driving educational outcomes.
International comparisons are instructive here, not just in the length of the school day but also in the autonomy of schools when it comes to determining the length of their day. In the UK, the only requirement made of state schools in terms of opening times is that they must be open for at least 190 days each year. The OECD report Education at a Glance 2012, which includes all members of the G20, found that only in Indonesia and Britain are state schools free to decide on the length of the school day and teaching time.
Fair access to classroom teaching time is probably the best way forward for improving social mobility at the moment – so Michael Gove was right to place this issue firmly on the agenda.
Popular Chinese medicine used for migraines could be FATAL, warn health watchdogs
A herbal medicine used by alternative practitioners to treat migraines could be fatal. Zheng Tian Wan is unregulated but is available in the UK, and it has been linked to serious health complications and death, health authorities say.
The plant remedy contains aconite – a herb once dubbed the ‘Queen of Poisons’ by the ancient Greeks – and could be toxic for the heart and nervous system.
The ingredient is on a UK list of restricted herbal ingredients and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have issued a statement warning against using the product.
The MHRA said the issue came to their attention after a herbal practitioner supplied a patient the unlicensed migraine pills, which have not been tested for safety and quality.
The agency said it has previously received three reports of suspected side effects to aconite.
One patient suffered kidney problems, a second was hospitalised after suffering dizziness and paraesthesia (pins and needles) and the third experienced palpitations, aches and pains with shortness of breath but recovered after stopping taking the product.
Andrea Farmer, Herbal policy manager at the MHRA, said in certain circumstances herbal medicines could be extremely dangerous: ‘Herbal medicines can have a very significant effect on the body.
‘In certain circumstances, such as when aconite is taken orally, they can be extremely dangerous.
‘Natural does not mean safe. To help you choose a herbal medicine that is suitable for you, look for a product that has a Traditional Herbal Registration or product license number on the packaging. These products have met the acceptable quality and safety standards.
‘And if you think you have suffered a side effect to an herbal medicine, please tell us about it through our Yellow Card Scheme.’
Websites selling Zheng Tian Wan advertise it as a ‘formula with a thousand year history that stops headache and migraine’.
However, MHRA guidelines dictate that aconite should not be used in unlicensed products for oral use and herbal practitioners in the UK are only allowed use aconite externally on unbroken skin.
Products intended for oral use containing aconite are not permitted in the UK without authorisation, while only qualified doctors can prescribe aconite’s use in oral medicines, under the prescription-only medicine scheme.
An MHRA spokesman said: ‘It’s difficult to say how much is out there, because it’s a traditional Chinese medicine, so it’s not something we regulate.
‘It is also difficult to tell what the levels are in a product without testing it but the fact is, aconite is a particularly toxic product so regardless of the levels we would advice people not to take it.
‘If it was sold online we could have it taken down to have it removed from sale but we do not know where every traditional Chinese practitioner is working.’
They urge anyone who has taken Zheng Tian Wan, which is made by the Shenzhen 999 Chinese Medicine Investment Development Co, or any other aconite-containing product, to speak to their GP or healthcare professionals as soon as possible.
Electric car sales lose their spark: Just 3,600 are sold in Britain under scheme to give motorists £5,000 subsidy if they buy one
Electric car sales are set to slump below expectations despite efforts to support them with taxpayer subsidies, a report concludes today.
The report says motorists still find 'zero-emission' vehicles too expensive, less efficient and less practical than conventional petrol and diesel vehicles.
Only 3,600 electric vehicles have so far been sold under a scheme that gives buyers a £5,000 taxpayer subsidy. The Government has also allocated £300million to boost public charging points.
The report was commissioned jointly by the RAC Foundation and the UK Petroleum Industry Association.
It says: 'Sales of electric cars are set to fall far short of official expectations. Electric vehicles remain a controversial subject.'
Predictions for the future are also dismal despite official encouragement by Prime Minster David Cameron, Labour opposition and environmental groups.
The 154-page report called 'Powering Ahead – the future of low-carbon cars and fuels', added: 'Battery electric vehicles face major challenges in gaining market share because of their high prices and limited range.
'Breakthroughs in technology, particularly in the cost and performance of batteries are required before plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles can achieve significant market share.'
The report concedes 'Advocates will say that their market share has increased by hundreds of percentage points over the last years, and that this trend will continue.
'Critics will reply that this still only represents a small fraction of the market.'
But the RAC report highlights how the Goverment's advisory Committee on Climate Change has said it would be 'feasible and desirable' to have up to 1.7million fully electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2020.
'But most industry analysts predict the number will be significantly lower', it notes.
'Even the more positive assessments foresee only 200,000 plug-in hybrid and pure battery powered cars being sold each year in the UK by 2020.
'Some experts think sales of these types of vehicle will actually be as low as 40,000,' it says citing a review for them by consultants Ricardo-AEA of authoritative market forecasts .
'To put these numbers in perspective, just over 2 million new cars were sold in the UK in 2012. In total there are about 29million cars on the road in the UK. '
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: 'It is more than two years since the Government introduced the plug-in car grant.
'Yet even with subsidies of £5,000 per vehicle available only 3,600 cars have been purchased through the scheme.
'This report concludes that the key to making electric cars a commercial success is a major advance in battery technology.
'Until then these vehicles are likely to remain too expensive and too impractical to penetrate the mass market.'
The subsidy scheme rises to more than £8,000 for vans. The 11 vehicles eligible for the subsidy include the Nissan Leaf and Vauxhall Ampera.
350,000 Bulgarians and Romanians ‘looking for work in the UK
Nearly 350,000 Romanians and Bulgarians could be looking for work in the UK, a new poll has suggested.
Research for the BBC has found that 1 per cent of working age Romanians and 4.2 per cent of Bulgarians said they are currently looking for work in the UK in 2013 or 2014.
Work restrictions on people coming to the UK from the two countries are lifted from the end of the year, prompting concerns of a major influx of migrants to this country.
The BBC polled 1,000 people each in the two countries earlier this year and found that large numbers of people are considering leaving their homes for the UK in the next two years.
In Romania there are around 15.3million people of working age, meaning that the 1 per cent considering moving to the UK equates to around 153,000 people.
In Bulgaria there are around 4.67million people of working age, meaning that according to the BBC statistics, more than 196,000 could be considering moving to the UK to find a job.
According to the survey, however, far fewer Romanians and Bulgarians would actually end up coming to the UK.
The poll found that seven in ten of the Romanians who are thinking about moving to live in Britain would reconsider in the light of the restrictions to benefits being proposed by the Coalition.
The survey also said that of those saying they were considering coming to the UK, just 1.2 per cent of Bulgarians and 0.4 per cent of Romanians has indicated that they had started making concrete plans.
Large numbers also said they would only move to the UK if they had an offer of work from a UK company.
The survey found that when all of those polled were asked to pick their first choice of EU country to move to, 4.6 per cent of Romanians and 9.3 per cent of Bulgarians chose the UK.
According to a British Labour Force sample survey, there are currently 26,000 Bulgarians and 80,000 Romanians living in the UK.
Earlier this month study by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (Niesr), a research group, found the number of Romanians and Bulgarians who will come to live in this country next year is “not possible to predict”.
However, it also signalled that Britain is woefully unprepared for the ending of migration restrictions at the end of this year.
The report suggested that any influx of Romanians and Bulgarians could put a strain on schools and be made worse by the economic crisis in Italy and Spain.
The Foreign Office insisted the report showed that there was “no reason at all to panic” about the lifting of the restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians from December 31.
Niesr was asked by the Foreign Office to examine the “potential impact” of migration from Romania and Bulgaria, who joined the European Union on 1 January 2007. Despite being paid £30,000 of public money and drawing on more than 100 research works, Niesr was not explicitly asked to produce any estimates of how many people might come to the UK.
However the same think tank suggested in 2011 that around 21,000 immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria a year – substantially more than the 13,000 a year predicted in a report for the last Labour government – will come here last year.
Earlier this year Migration Watch, a thinktank which has a good record of forecasting migration, published figures suggesting that 50,000 a year Romanians and Bulgarians will come here, although others suggest this estimate is too high.
Philip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering, said: “The reality is that nobody has any clear idea about how many people will come to the UK from Romania and Bulgaria.
“The BBC figures only have to be a little bit out for the numbers to be huge and significant. The British public feel hugely let down that the Government has not published any meaningful statistics on possible numbers.”
Having a baby HELPS your social life: British women make an average of NINE new friends after they give birth
Having a baby can actually widen an increase a woman’s circle of friends.
While many women report feeling isolated and lonely when their child is very young, new research has shown that they make on average of nine new friends upon the birth of their baby.
The survey showed that while childless women have an average of 13 friends, the number swells to 22 in the year after following the arrival of a child.
In fact it seems that giving birth is seem by some as enhancing to your social life with more than half of the 2,000 mothers polled said it was easier to bond with other women once you became a mother.
It found that 53 per cent of new mothers felt it was surprisingly easy to make friends after having a baby, and 70 per cent of those said it was because they had so much ‘in common’.
The study also found 16 per cent of those who took part in the poll said they had a better social life after having children as they had so much more free time to meet up with people.
Part of this increase in friendship is due to increased interaction with other mothers with nearly half of new mums made friends with other women at a mother and toddler group, while 22 per cent struck up friendships in antenatal classes and a fifth met people through other friends.
Many reported it was easier to bond with other women after having given birth
Perhaps surprisingly, the friendships formed in this time are not superficial or purely for convenience with strong bonds forming over exchanges of views, tips and shared experiences.
Sharing the experience of birth is by far the most popular topic of conversation for new mums – 73 per cent would happily regale new friends with stories about their labour.
Four in ten said they felt more comfortable sharing intimate and personal information with their mum chums who they had only recently met.
Almost four out of ten said they have discussed their post baby sex life with relatively new buddies.
And nearly 80 per cent have poured their heart out about their concerns of being good mum and the guilt over whether to go back to work after being on maternity leave.
One in five have also discussed the baby blues with their fellow mother friends, while other topics for discussion were breast feeding, sleepless nights, nappies and baby ailments.
One in three said they were worried about boring their old friends with constant baby talk – part of the reason why new friendships are formed with other women who are going through the same experience.
A spokeswoman for Natures Purest, the company that commissioned the study, said: ‘There is a misconception in society that starting a family will mean you are stuck indoors but it’s simply not true.
‘Our research shows the opposite – becoming a mum can do wonders for your social life as there are so many groups and activities to become involved with.
‘Having a baby is a life-changing experience, especially if you are a first time mum, so it’s important to have friends in a similar position.
‘You need people who can understand what you’re going through and can offer both emotional and practical support – whether you want a shoulder to cry on, a friend to offload on, or just reassurance that you are doing things right.
‘Many women whose friendships evolved when their children were young go on to keep the same group of friends throughout their life and as a consequence the youngsters form strong bonds too.