Hospitals ‘not reporting hundreds of blundering doctors’
Almost 200 doctors have not been reported to the General Medical Council for potentially fatal errors despite new legislation following the Harold Shipman case.
It is feared the number could be even higher as only a third of hospitals answered a Freedom of Information request.
In one hospital 42 doctors received more than two complaints that were not reported, while other NHS trusts did not tell doctors’ new employers about cases of negligence.
After the inquiry into serial killer Dr Harold Shipman, rules were drafted requiring trusts to report doctor errors to the GMC, but they have not been ratified.
Medical negligence consultant Ann Harris used the Freedom of Information Act to ask England’s 163 NHS trusts how many doctors had two or more complaints made against them in the past five years, and how many had been reported to the GMC.
The 54 that responded revealed a total of 204 such doctors, but just eight were referred to the GMC.
Two of the trusts that failed to refer blundering doctors to the GMC – Basildon and Queens Hospital, Burton – are on a list of 14 trusts currently under investigation over high deaths by the NHS England.
Every NHS trust now has to have an official responsible for ensuring dangerous doctors are reported. But in practice it is not happening because hospitals are not legally obliged to report failing doctors to the GMC.
At South Tees Hospital 16 doctors had three or more allegations logged and compensation was paid out in all cases, with just one referral to the GMC.
At Burton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 33 consultants had at least two allegations of negligence made against them in five years from January 2008, with one facing 13 complaints, one 12 and a third ten.
Kings Lynn Hospital said it had 42 cases.
Peter Walsh of the Action for Victims of Medical Accidents said: “It is disgraceful that patients lives are being put at risk by hospitals not telling the GMC about doctors who have been clinically negligent.
“Hospitals should not be allowed to hide doctors with problems by keeping those failings to themselves. They have a public duty to report cases and allow the GMC to investigate and decide the fate of the doctor.
“It is even worse to allow a doctor to move on to another trust and for that information not to be passed on.”
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: “We have introduced local teams to work with the NHS, regular checks on all doctors and new guidance to support doctors to raise concerns, but we know there is more to do.”
A Leftie who saw the light: A good school freed me from a suffocating, lonely life. But wanting the same for every child made the Left detest me, writes MELANIE PHILLIPS
One of the most toxic successes of the Left in Britain in the past 30 years has been to hijack the centre ground in politics and opinion, leaving them free to denounce as ‘extremist’ anyone who dares disagree with them.
The true middle ground — that area of truth, decency and reasoned debate where I believe most of us situate our thinking — is now vilified as ‘the Right’.
This is as mind-bending as it is destructive. By loudly asserting that Left-wing ideology is really ‘centrist’, the Left has succeeded in presenting their own extremist, anti-social and even nihilistic ideas as unarguably good.
A terrifying example of this is in the wrecking of our education system, where, rather than make things better, a so-called ‘progressive’ creed has actually turned back the clock. Education changes lives. It certainly transformed mine. School was where I — a solitary, serious-minded only child — felt free from my suffocating family background and happy.
Studying also made me feel in control of my life. If I worked hard, I could make good things happen, and they did — Oxford University, followed by a sought-after job as a journalist. Opportunities like this had been denied to my father back in the impoverished Thirties.
His innate intelligence hit an early cul-de-sac when his parents turned down the grammar school place he had won because they couldn’t afford the school uniform and he was forced to leave school at 13. But decades later in the apparently enlightened Eighties, I was horrified to discover that people like him were still being denied opportunity for advancement.
The Left-wing dogma dominating education meant that many state schools were simply not up to the job — and once again it was the poor who were suffering.
In a column in the Guardian, where I had worked for ten years, I wrote in support of a national curriculum the Conservative government was introducing in a desperate attempt to ensure that teachers actually started teaching children something at school.
I argued that, while the better-off could buy their way out of the system through living in leafy suburbs or sending their children to private schools, the poor were trapped by lousy local schools to which there was no alternative for their own children.
The reaction was instant and seismic. In Left-wing Guardianland, there was only one permitted explanation for the crisis in Britain’s schools, and that was the spending cuts imposed by the ‘heartless’ Thatcher government. To suggest it might actually have a point about the breakdown of teaching was simply unthinkable.
My colleagues gazed at me in perplexity and dismay. Overnight, I became ‘Right-wing’. ‘This is a Daily Mail view,’ I was told — the greatest possible crime and insult, since in such circles the Mail is considered to be off the graph in its opinions. The fact that I had written with passion about the plight of poor people was totally disregarded.
How had I reached this heretical position? By the staggering tactic of actually observing what was going on rather than following some ideological diktat. I looked at the local state schools for my own young children, Gabriel and Abigail, and found them wanting — not because they lacked money, but because the teachers had abandoned structured teaching in favour of ‘play’ and ‘self-discovery’.
There were two decent primary schools in my area in West London that stuck to traditional methods. I could get my children into neither —they were hugely over-subscribed. In the end I gave up and sent my children to independent schools.
I could afford it; but I knew most could not. As ever, I was concerned about those at the bottom of the heap. Desperate parents and teachers intimidated by the education orthodoxy wrote to me in support.
However, friends and colleagues denounced me as a reactionary Gradgrind, a devotee of the unimaginative, fact-obsessed headmaster in Dickens’s Hard Times.
What was ‘progressive’ about an approach that inflicted its most devastating damage upon children at the bottom of the social heap, who depended on school to lift them out of disadvantage but who were being left ignorant, illiterate and innumerate?
I ploughed on, though it was a lone furrow at the Guardian, writing next about the refusal to teach Standard English in speech, spelling and grammar in our classrooms on the grounds that this was ‘elitist’.
How could this be? I had seen at first hand in my own under-educated family of Jewish immigrants that an inability to control the language meant an inability to control their own lives.
My Polish grandmother had not been able to fill in an official form without help; and my father (although born in Britain) just didn’t have the words to express complicated thoughts, and would always lose out against those who looked down at him from their educated citadels.
Teachers wrote to me in despair at the pressure on them not to impose Standard English on the grounds it was discriminatory. They knew that, on the contrary, this was to abandon vast numbers of children to permanent servitude and ignorance.
Yet it was clear that the professors, advisers and experts from the education establishment putting such pressure on these teachers were the supercilious upper-middle classes, who had no experience of what it was actually like to be poor and uneducated or an immigrant, but were nevertheless imposing their own ideological fantasies on the vulnerable — and harming them as a result.
I also wrote about how black parents in inner London were cheering on the government’s education reforms, despairing of a system which had so grievously failed two generations of black children. But at the so anti-racist Guardian, the views of those black parents counted for nothing.
The Left-wing Inner London Education Authority (which ran schools in the capital at that time) could never be wrong; the Tory government could never be right.
My view was that deteriorating education standards had little to do with low pay for teachers or schools starved of money. It was teachers and teaching that made the difference to children’s lives.
The problem was that the entire education establishment had taken a desperately wrong turn and the increasing number of bad teachers were turning good teachers into a beleaguered minority.
Here was, as I wrote in the Guardian, ‘the vicious circle of an education establishment that perpetuates its own myths down through generations of poorly taught children’.
Reaction to this was extreme and ugly. I was described as ‘ignorant, silly, intellectually vulgar, vicious, irresponsible, elitist, middle-class, fatuous, dangerous, intemperate, shallow, strident, reactionary, near-hysterical, propagandist, simplistic, unbalanced, prejudiced, rabid, venomous and pathetic’.
Three-quarters of the letters were hostile. But it was the letters of support which shed a devastating light on the situation in our classrooms.
One educational psychologist wrote: ‘In my job I see small children whose ability to focus on a task is chronic —yet they are put to learn in an [open and noisy] environment.
‘Children do not learn through play but through instruction, explanation, guidance, motivation from an adult. Children need to be taught to make connections, to look for meanings. They do not learn from Wendy houses or computers, they learn from people.
‘And whenever I say this to a group of teachers, the older and wiser ones thank me; they have been waiting for years for someone to make this point. But for some reason they cannot say this in public. ‘And neither can I — which is why I do not want my name published. My job is important to me, and public condemnation of teaching methods will not be approved.’
A chill came over me when I read those words. What was being described was more akin to life in a totalitarian state. Dissent was being silenced, and those who ran against the orthodoxy were being forced to operate in secret.
Worse still, the very meaning of concepts such as education, teaching and knowledge was being unilaterally altered and thousands of children were being abandoned to ignorance and institutionalised disadvantage.
If ever there was an abuse of power for journalists to investigate, this was surely it. But for most of my colleagues, it was I who was out of step.
In 1996, I published a book called All Must Have Prizes, from the race in Alice In Wonderland where the dodo announces that ‘everybody has won, and all must have prizes’.
Education standards, I wrote, had not only plummeted but education itself had been redefined. It was no longer the transmission of knowledge and culture, but a process of self-discovery by ‘autonomous meaning-makers’, once known as pupils.
Knowledge had given way to creativity and spontaneity. The essay had been replaced by the imaginative story, substituting teaching children to think by allowing them to imagine.
Teaching the rules of grammar or maths was frowned upon for stifling a child’s creativity. Right and wrong answers were no longer distinguished from each other; relativism reigned and children were told to make it up as they went along.
I suspected a deeper and even more sinister ideological agenda here. The so-called ‘New Literacy’, which substituted listening, memorising and guesswork for being taught to decode the printed page, encouraged the use of English teaching to ‘empower’ children to correct social inequalities.
Since teaching children to read was apparently an injustice against working-class students, children were to be empowered by ‘making their own meaning’. Correcting children’s mistakes was an illegitimate exercise of power.
The outcome was the disaster of mass illiteracy among school-leavers and soaring behavioural problems among pupils excluded from classroom life through their inability to read. Even universities were forced to provide remedial courses for undergraduates to compensate for the inadequacies of the education system.
How had this self-destructive process come about? To my mind what was happening in our schools was part and parcel of a country and a society that had become radically demoralised.
The ideological dogmas undermining education were also eroding family life and the moral codes that kept civilised society together, replacing these by the ‘no blame, no shame, no pain society’.
Respect for authority both in and outside the classroom had collapsed.
Most teachers, I wrote, were unaware that they were the unwitting troops of a dangerous cultural revolution. In our universities and training establishments, they were being taught to teach according to far-Left doctrines whose core aim was to subvert the fundamental tenets of western society.
My book caused a sensation. I was accused of ‘paranoia’, ‘tunnel vision’, ‘unfounded prejudices’, ‘ignorance’ and ‘arrogance’.
I was the author of the ‘worst written book of the year’, ‘a farrago of ignorance and inaccuracy’ and a ‘reactionary diatribe’. A former senior chief inspector of schools called the book ‘beneath contempt’ while a leading professor of education pronounced it ‘cr*p by anybody’s standards’.
He implied that I had cooked the evidence and quoted non-existent sources. Apparently all the teachers, psychologists, government inspectors, university professors, politicians, civil servants, parents and pupils I had spoken to, and all the educational texts and research reports I had read, were just ‘anecdote’ and ‘tittle-tattle’.
None of the evidence I produced was debated, merely denied. As usual.
But the campaign against me took a vicious turn and reached to some surprisingly high places when innuendo appeared in print about the proximity of my views with those of Chris Woodhead, then the outspoken Chief Inspector of Schools.
He had controversially gone to war against what he described as failed teaching methods; in piece after piece, I endorsed his views.
As a result, the education press presented us as conspirators and perhaps more. The phrase ‘an item’ was used. ‘Nothing romantic, you understand,’ wrote one commentator in the Times Educational Supplement. ‘No, the link with Chris and Melanie is intellectual, but it is powerful and dangerous all the same.’
I suspected that some of this sniping was being fed by those around the then Education Secretary, David Blunkett, who seemed to feel personally undermined by Woodhead.
Idiotic British ministers want to slash size of cookies and cakes to tackle UK’s obesity epidemic
What’s to stop people having one extra of the smaller ones?
Leaked plans to reduce the size of cakes and biscuits to tackle Britain’s growing waistlines have been branded ‘ludicrous’ by common sense campaigners.
Ministers wants the portion sizes of fatty and sugar-laden foods to be cut in a bid to halt the growing obesity problem.
The changes, which could be implemented as early as July, are part of the Government’s ‘Responsibility Deal’, where food manufacturers are encouraged to take a pledge to reduce unhealthy ingredients, educate consumers on healthy eating and reduce portion sizes, reports the Daily Express.
But UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall has blasted the plans as ‘ludicrous’.
He said: ‘A jammy dodger is a jammy dodger. We all know smoking, eating too much fatty food and drinking too much is bad for us.
‘It should be up to us to decide what we should or shouldn’t cut back on, not the Government. This is underhand, it is the Government interfering. Packet sizes will shrink but prices won’t and consumers will pay more.’
Howard Thomas, leader of the Common Sense Party, said: ‘This is another one from the ministry of silly ideas.
‘If someone wants to eat a certain amount of something they will do so, and shrinking it will just mean they eat more of it. Making biscuits smaller isn’t going to make any difference. These plans are just daft.’
A Government source told the paper that the details would be agreed soon and manufacturers would have a choice in how they would implement the change – either by reducing the size of the biscuits or the packet.
Dr Susan Jebb, who chairs the Government steering group drawing up the Responsibility Deal pledge, said the aim is to encourage companies to reduce saturated fat in foods and promote lower fat options.
Ministers have suggested that if companies fail to sign up to the Responsibility Deal voluntarily the government could legislate to force them to act.
Department of Health statistics state biscuits make up six per cent of the daily saturated fat intake of children aged between four and 10 while baked sweet treats contribute a further six per cent.
No one from the Department of Health was available for comment at the time of writing.
Melanie Phillips reflects
The 500,000 Eastern European migrants that British officials didn’t know were there: So many entered UK that authorities lost track
So many migrants flooded into Britain from Eastern Europe that authorities were unable to count them, Whitehall admitted yesterday.
Official migration figures missed out nearly half a million people who came to the UK after their countries joined the EU in 2004, according to a newly-published document.
The scale of the problem was only revealed in the 2011 census, which showed the population was even bigger than estimated.
The admission comes amid growing concern over immigration, as Britain prepares to open its doors to citizens from Romania and Bulgaria.
Workers from the two countries will have free access to jobs in this country from the end of the year, but the Government has failed to confirm how many people they expect to arrive.
The 2011 census found there were 464,000 more people living in England and Wales than originally thought.
Now a paper, published by the Office for National Statistics, has acknowledged for the first time that the majority of the people who slipped through the net were Eastern European migrants.
Between 2002 and 2010, mass immigration under the Labour government was running at its highest. Until now ONS officials claimed at least 200,000 were long-term British inhabitants. But the new ONS paper said: ‘At national level the difference is believed to be largely due to international migration.
‘In particular an underestimate of the number of immigrants from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that joined the EU in 2004.’
The mistake led to repeated pronouncements that there were 700,000 or fewer Poles and Eastern Europeans in Britain. Now authorities accept that the figure is actually more than a million.
The ONS results show the difference between the official population count and the real population was more than 25 per cent in some places.
In Newham in East London there were supposed to have been 242,400 residents before the census. That figure has now been scaled up and revised to 310,500.
Romanian and Bulgarian citizens may work freely in Britain at the end of this year because the seven-year period in which Westminster was allowed to impose restrictions is at an end. Both countries joined the EU in 2007.
A BBC poll last week found that more than 8 per cent of Romanians and nearly 14 per cent of Bulgarians said they would consider migrating to Britain.
The MigrationWatch think-tank believes around 50,000 Bulgarian and Romanians will arrive every year for the next five years.
The latest British pro-crime idiocy: Dog owners could be forced to tie up pets in case they bite a burglar
Dog owners might have to tie up their pets to stop them attacking burglars, police have warned – amid growing controversy over a clampdown on dangerous animals.
The Association of Chief Police Officers say planned amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act could leave householders ‘liable to prosecution’ if their dog bites a burglar while they are out.
Ministers want to close a loophole in the law that makes it difficult to prosecute dog attacks that take place on private property.
The move – which will be included in next week’s Queen’s Speech – follows a string of attacks on children, postmen, and health visitors on private land.
The proposals will include a defence for people whose dogs attack a burglar while they are at home. But critics warn the defence will not protect owners if a burglar is attacked while they are out, or if the attack takes place in the garden or an outbuilding.
The loophole in the proposals will leave dog owners open to potential fines of up to £5,000 – or even a two-year jail sentence – if their pet attacks an intruder while they are not at home.
Now Acpo, the organisation which represents senior police officers, has warned that the plans will favour burglars.
In a letter to MPs they said the police ‘would rather the householder was given a defence in law’ to prevent prosecution if a dog attacks a burglar while they are out.
They added: ‘The consequences would be that any individual leaving their dog in their home whilst they go out may be liable to prosecution should their home be burgled whilst they are away. We are confident that this is not what the Government had in mind.’
The Dogs Trust has also criticised the proposals, saying: ‘If a trespasser is on private land it is nonsensical to criminalise a dog owner if that trespasser should be injured by the dog.
‘Surely a trespasser must take some responsibility for their unlawful actions. Dog owners should only face criminal liability if the victim is present lawfully.’
Government officials have confirmed that homeowners would not be immune from prosecution if a ‘dangerously out of control’ dog attacked a burglar in their home.
But the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said ministers were still looking at ways to ensure dog owners would not be penalised for being burgled.
Child rapists taken of Sex Offenders’ Register in secret… and police say it’s to protect their human rights
Police have secretly removed dozens of convicted sex offenders, including paedophiles and rapists, from the Sex Offenders’ Register, the Mail can reveal.
Following a human rights ruling, the law was changed last year to allow sex attackers to claim they no longer posed a threat and apply to be taken off the register.
Since then, 43 applications have been approved behind closed doors, at the rate of one every five days.
About half of those who apply have been successful – including eight rapists and 27 child sex attackers.
Each case was signed off by a mid-ranking police officer following a paper review of the case. With the stroke of a pen, each convict was removed from the list, and is now free to walk the streets with no monitoring of any kind.
Those who are taken off the register no longer have to tell the police where they are living, even if they move near a school, or move in with a family with young children.
Nor do they have to tell the police about any overseas travel.
Forces are refusing to name those taken off the register, citing Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – the right to a private and family life – and data protection rules. And they say it would ‘compromise the health and safety of these individuals’ to name them.
Some are even refusing to give details of the offences committed, and victims are not routinely notified if their attacker has been deemed no longer a threat.
Child protection charities said the use of the law was setting back child protection, and questioned whether sex offenders could ever be reformed.
Claude Knights, director of children’s charity Kidscape, said: ‘This step removes a number of bricks from the wall of child protection, and takes us back to the level of a number of years ago.
‘The jury is out on whether someone who has committed these crimes can ever be cured. The worry is someone could be let off the register and commit further crimes and harm more children.’
Peter Cuthbertson, director of the Centre for Crime Prevention think-tank, said: ‘The Sex Offenders’ Register exists to protect the public from people who risk committing serious crimes.
‘These decisions involve a very one-sided and backward understanding of human rights. It wrongly puts the welfare of serious sex offenders above concern for public safety.’
Ministers were forced to allow the law change after a human rights ruling in 2010 which said it was a breach of criminals’ rights under Article 8 to keep them on the register without any chance of appeal.
The case was brought by two convicted sex offenders. One, Angus Thompson, was jailed for five years for violently attacking and indecently assaulting a girl. He said the ‘stress’ of being kept indefinitely on the register had contributed to his ill health. The other was a man from Wigan who was 11 when he raped a boy of six. He said his name should be taken off because it prevented him from going on holiday.
There are about 37,000 sex offenders on the register.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Sex offenders who remain a risk to the public will stay on the register, for life if necessary.
‘We argued strongly that sex offenders should stay on the register for life. But the Supreme Court decided they should be able to apply for a review of their case.
‘It is for individual police forces to decide how to manage known sex offenders living in the community, but those who pose a risk to the public will remain on the register.’
Ferry company under fire over ‘Nazi’ logo
Since when is a Viking a Nazi? Hitler liked dogs too. Should we ban pictures of dogs?
A Scottish ferry company has come under fire over its logo, which critics have described as “Nazi symbolism”.
Serco NorthLink launched a marketing campaign earlier this year centred around the fictional character Magnus the Viking, who it says represents “dynamism, power and pride”, it was reported on Deadlinenews.co.uk.
Its new logo shows Magnus in a windy setting, wearing traditional Viking attire and pointing towards the horizon.
But Britain Travel, a Hamburg-based tour operator, urged the firm to rethink the design, and compared it to the imagery used by Hitler and the Nazis.
Peter Storm, managing director of Britain Travel, told Deadlinenews.co.uk: “We saw the logo for the first time and we immediately thought of the imagery used at the time Hitler was in power in Germany.
“It is not even the arm pointing in the air but the whole figure is associated with Viking propaganda symbols from that period.
“They need to move away from the Nazi symbolism. NorthLink is not on a crusade or looting expedition and this Viking symbol could upset Germans.”
Must not joke about sex scandals
He’s well known as a bit of a motormouth, but Jeremy Clarkson came under scrutiny this week after he made a tasteless joke about the Stuart Hall sex scandal.
The Top Gear host took to his official Twitter page to make the comments. He wrote: ‘Can I just say that I’ve worked at the BBC for 24 years and in all that time no-one has ever tried to put his finger in my bottom.’
Ex-BBC football commentator Stuart Hall admitted 12 indecent assaults on girls aged nine to 17 over 18 years last week and was labelled an ‘opportunistic predator.’
Talking to the Daily Star, Peter Saunders, of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: ‘Jeremy Clarkson is well known for coming out with real nonsense like this.
‘I don’t think he realises the seriousness of the issue he is making fun of.