Basic failings in NHS care makes 160,000 patients every year even more unwell

Almost 160,000 patients a year suffer from sores, infections and injuries caused by neglectful NHS care, figures show. The health problems are being picked up on hospital wards and in care homes.

The figure represents one in 12 – 8 per cent – of all those treated on the NHS, but among the elderly it is nearer to one in ten.

Campaigners say it is ‘scandalous’ that hospitals are making patients even more unwell due to failings in basic care.

For the first time, the NHS has released data on the numbers of patients suffering any of four conditions linked to neglect.

They are falls, pressure sores, bladder infections and deep vein thrombosis – or blood clots – which can be avoided through good nursing care. Between May 2012 and April 2013, a total of 159,946 patients suffered one of these.

Last month alone there were 15,000 cases including 13,100 pressure sores, 2,470 serious falls, 2,850 urinary infections and 1,139 blood clots. Some patients suffered more than one of the health problems.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘It is truly scandalous that patients are admitted to hospital for treatment for one condition, and then have to endure a second totally preventable issue.

‘This care deficit is leading to basic, but often serious and hugely painful, conditions. There is no excuse for poor care. Trusts have a duty to drive down the huge numbers of these terrible experiences and be accountable where they are falling short.’

Peter Walsh, chief executive of the charity Action Against Medical Accidents, said that in reality about one in ten patients come to harm once other hospital blunders are included. ‘It’s not a surprise to me but it’s disappointing,’ he added.

For the past 12 months NHS hospitals, care homes and community health services have submitted data on patients suffering falls, bed sores, blood clots or urinary infections.

They were asked to record the percentage suffering one or more of these problems on a given day each month. Officials will use this data – the NHS Safety Thermometer – to monitor whether hospitals and other organisations are reducing the numbers of patients coming to harm.

Hospital care and particularly the standard of nursing has been in the spotlight since a damning report in February into the Mid Staffordshire scandal.

Up to 1,200 patients are feared to have died needlessly at the NHS trust over a ten-year period with some left crying in pain or forced to drink water from vases.

The report warned that similar pockets of neglect existed at other hospitals and the Government announced a number of changes to improve care.

They include compulsory placements for student nurses to prove they are capable of compassion and tougher inspections of hospitals and care homes.

Doctors have warned that seriously-ill patients are being shunted out of A&E and left on inappropriate wards where they are not properly looked after.

The Royal College of Physicians said a rise in admissions to hospital emergency units meant there was extra pressure on staff to move patients out quickly.

For example, elderly people with pneumonia are being put on surgical wards – where many patients are young and otherwise fit – which tend to have fewer nurses.


Why I don’t employ students with first-class degrees, by Lord Winston

Fertility expert says applications who have fallen short make better employees

As one of the country’s leading fertility experts, Lord Winston might be expected to surround himself with the brightest minds at work.

But the Labour peer has admitted ‘deliberately’ discriminating against job applicants with first class degrees.

Those that have fallen short of academic brilliance are often better employees because they are more rounded individuals who work well in a team, the scientist and The Human Body presenter claimed.

‘I know scientists who are amazingly stupid,’ he said. ‘And in my laboratory I have appointed scientists on the whole that didn’t get first-class honours degrees, deliberately, quite specifically, because, actually, I would rather have young people around me who developed other interests at university and didn’t just focus entirely on getting that first.

‘That’s been a very successful strategy. It’s produced a lot of useful science because we’ve worked as a group of friends, a team. That’s very much more important than almost anything else.’

The comments, made to pupils from Clapton Girls Academy who were delegates of this year’s London International Youth Science Forum, may be influenced by Lord Winston’s own academic background.

His initial degree, in medicine and surgery, came from the London Hospital Medical College, University of London, which awards a pass or fail rather than the traditional classification used in other universities.

Education and employment experts yesterday broadly agreed that all-rounders usually make the best workers – although there was surprise at the peer’s bluntness.

Psychologist Professor Joan Freeman, who has conducted research into gifted people, said: ‘It’s a very strange thing to say. I think what he is saying it he doesn’t take people who are single-minded.

‘There are scholarly types who are utterly focused on their work. But there are others who offer other things as well.

‘I don’t think this little squeak from him will put anybody off doing what they want to do. People who get firsts are usually fairly driven.’

Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said three-quarters of employers wanted candidates with an upper second degree at least.

But he added some had complained about job applicants with firsts who struggled to look their interviewer in the eye or string a sentence together.

‘There is a discussion to be had with students who go to university and think the only thing they need to do is come out with a superb degree at the expense of other things,’ he told The Times.

‘On that note I would be with Lord Winston. I think that an over-emphasis on the degree class probably is not in anybody’s best interests.’

Universities have been accused of grade inflation in recent years as an increasing number of students graduate with a first. The number has risen by 20,000 – a third – since 2008 and trebled since the late 1990s.

Some 30 per cent of maths students gain a first class degree, with 24 per cent in engineering, 22 per cent in physics and 20 per cent in computer science.

Lord Winston’s selection process would impact more on female applicants than male.

Of the 61,605 undergraduates awarded a first by British universities last year, 34,220 were women – 56 per cent, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

But Glenn Hayes, employment partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell said: ‘The grounds for someone being able to claim that they were discriminated against in the workplace are limited and include race, sex, disability, gender, age, religious beliefs and sexual orientation.

‘Professor Lord Robert Winston’s refusal to interview someone strictly on the basis that they gained a first class degree at University does not in itself constitute discrimination in terms of employment law and is not unlawful.’


Warmist secrecy again

With the connivance of the British government

Can the Internet help climate scientists? Not everyone thinks so.

“The Internet is a double-edged sword,” Met Office scientist Peter Stott told a London courtroom last week. “There’s a whole cacophony of voices on blogs, people with different opinions and people very motivated to dig around. But not in the ‘big picture’ details, frankly. That is not helpful to getting an overall balanced assessment.”

Stott had just been asked whether widespread online participation in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment-of-the-science process might improve it. The open source software development principle, that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”, came to mind.

The occasion was an Information Tribunal appeal brought by one-man information Inquisition David Holland. The retired Mancunian engineer’s previous enquiries were seen by many as the catalyst for the famous “Climategate” email leaks.

“My interest in this was never to do with climate. I’m trained as an engineer, and I know the scientific method,” Holland told El Reg in 2011, when he had sought access to large amounts of information from the British climate-science establishment – and was denied. Holland’s FOI requests set off a catastrophic sequence of prevarication and obstruction by the responding scientists, which ultimately appears to have triggered the Climategate leaks and massive discomfort for all the researchers involved.

Now it’s the turn of Peter Stott of the Met Office to come under Holland’s microscope.

I actually felt a bit of human sympathy for Stott; you can bet he would have rather been somewhere else, and it transpires that Holland didn’t actually want him there at all. Holland had wanted to cross-examine the head of the UK delegation to the IPCC, a Department of Environment and Climate Change official called David Warrilow, head of climate science and international evidence.

The procedural questions under the spotlight are Warrilow’s bailiwick, not Stott’s, but Holland was refused his man. Stott, we learned, had been pressganged into appearing by the Met Office’s lawyers. Stott also had to defend his and allied organisations’ refusal to disclose material on a basis – as we shall see – that’s highly questionable. No intelligent person should have to waste his own time, or anyone else’s time, defending the indefensible.

And the mere presence of a Met scientist is a bit of a red herring, as it’s really the IPCC that is on trial; the case for the defence is being organised by the Treasury solicitor, paid for by you.

Judge Anisa Dhanji was not impressed by the defence’s refusal to find someone so very germane to the case to stand up to cross-examination, and demanded that a written statement by Warrilow be included in the record.

So. Here we all were. Why was this happening, exactly?
The case for transparency

The IPCC is the United Nations organisation’s process for providing climate advice to policy makers. Every few years it updates this advice, which takes the form of three gigantic reports: one assessing the physical basis (called Working Group 1, or WG1); another considering the impacts (WG2); and the third the mitigation options (WG3).

None of the groups does any original science. They’re supposed to write fair summaries of the state of the science – although you’ll notice that WG3 already plays with loaded dice: it is about “mitigation”, not “adaptation” nor “economic costs” or even “low carbon technological innovation”. Each of these groups writes three drafts in a rolling process before they’re signed off as official UN policy.

What Holland is seeking the “zero order draft” – aka Draft No. 1 – of Working Group 1. He couldn’t care less what’s in it, but wants to establish the principle that citizens can see it. As it happens, much of this material is already all over the web. But as Judge Dhanji pointed out, that’s by-the-by.

Holland justified his request on the twofold basis that the WG1 zero draft must, and should, be publicly available.

The “must” is the statutory obligation of the UK as a signatory to the Aarhus Convention, or to give it its full title, the “UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters” and by signing up to EC directive 2003/4/EC (PDF) the UK has obliged all of its environmental regulations to be consistent with the Convention. (Not every EU country is a signatory, but the UK is: perhaps a case of civil servants’ Euro-enthusiasm coming back to bite them.)

The Met Office argued back that the ZOD is most precious, and if ZOD material were to be disclosed, counsel argued, there would be grave damage to the UK’s “international relations”. Like the Sneetches, British environment bureaucrats would be stranded on the beaches: shunned, ostracised, and cast into outer darkness. Nobody would want to play with British climate scientists any more.

Yet this particular reason for refusing ZOD is a relatively recent one. It came about in the aftermath of Climategate, and a succession of other climate-related -gates, after which the IPCC’s processes came under much-expanded scrutiny. The Inter Academy Council, a panel of dons, made recommendations, amongst others.

The international-relations grounds for climate secrecy first surfaced in 2009 and was used as a reason to knock back FOI requests, from various people including Holland himself. Its origins appear to lie in a request from University of East Anglia climate scientist Tim Osborne in 2009 to IPCC WG1 co-chair Thomas Stocker, which you can read here. Osborne asked Stocker:

“UEA must provide evidence to support its reasons for rejecting the original request. I’ve been asked if we can obtain a further statement about confidentiality …

… it would be very supportive if someone who currently represents IPCC (or at least IPCC WG1) could indicate that this is also the view/position of the IPCC …

There are four specific items that we would ideally like to have you view on:

(1) Does the IPCC WG1 expect authors to keep confidential the emails/correspondence/chapter text that they receive from fellow authors during the drafting process?

(2) Would there be an adverse effect on the IPCC WG1 if we were to break this confidentiality? (Note that we might be forced to break it *during* the drafting of the next report)

(3) Would there be an adverse effect on UEA’s relationship with IPCC WG1?

(4) In providing views on items (1)-(3), are they your personal view or can we say that they represent IPCC WG1 position?”

“Can we say that” is particularly revealing.

It’s a common misconception – a sign of the media’s deference to scientists, perhaps – that the IPCC consists of a properly appointed actual panel somewhere. As Stott cheerfully confirmed, beyond a small technical administrative support team called the TSU, there isn’t really “an IPCC” at all. Self-selecting scientists kick off the assessment process, often gatekeeping material by their friends and colleagues, hard-green campaign groups etc.

From the Second Draft stage of the review process the room is full of government officials – the international bureaucracy effectively takes over. The rules are set by the participants, making it up as they go along, Lord of the Flies-style. The Osborne-Stocker exchange illustrates a normal example of one scientist colluding with another in an attempt to prevent the public finding out how the process works.

Stott described in court the process which allows any member of the public to “self-certify” as an Expert Reviewer and join the process at the First Order Draft (ie, the second) stage. He pointed out that Comments generated at this stage were made public last time.

This is true, but bear in mind that the IPCC went to great lengths to avoid Draft Review Comments actually being read last time around – “making public” the comments by depositing an un-indexed paper archive in a library in Massachusetts. In the internet era, that’s tantamount to “burying them in a hole in the ground”, says Holland. Today, the Comments are indeed officially released on the actual interwebs – but too late to stop errors being spotted, Holland retorted. He cited Glaciergate as an avoidable error.

“On the internet, half of what I’ve asked for is already there,” said Holland. “It’s extremely boring stuff, and contains nothing confidential. I can see no reason for it not being released.”

Holland’s other argument, the “should”, is an ethical one. He cited the former IPCC head John Houghton who wrote, “for assessments that inform public policy it is essential that things are seen to be done: the assessment should be completely open and transparent”. He contrasted this with “indefinite confidentiality” implicit in refusing access to the ZOD.

Not to mention the small matter of compliance with Aarhus.

The IPCC’s defence was twofold: the ZOD work needed to be kept from the public because the participants were learning the ropes, and because it offered a sanctity of private thought required for this vital education. Exposing the scientists to the public at this stage would be like mocking a Learner Driver for knocking over the traffic cones. This would be horribly cruel, defence argued.

“The Zero Order Draft is a training document we can take to a few people to tell us ‘are we on the right lines here?’ ‘have we learned to write a document?’ The lessons we learn we can then take on to produce the first First Order Draft to formal review,” Stott said.

Judge Dhanji wondered what the harm was?

Stott replied:

“Well the issue can and does get misused and misrepresented as representative of the IPCC assessment. We’ve had that in the past with leaked drafts.”

And again: “it’s an internal document for our own internal use, we can expose our ignorance, expose our learning process, to learn how to write a document. That’s the distinction between ZOD and the other drafts,” he replied.

“Things that are said in the name of the IPCC during process may come back to haunt them in that people who disagree with the IPCC may scour material for inconsistency,” he declared.

Defence counsel raised these concerns, which obliged Judge Dhanji to castigate him for coaching Stott.

“Too much leading,” she warned.

Bear in mind that nothing in IPCC rules actually specifies that the ZOD stage is sacrosanct. Participants may prefer it, but rules is rules. Or not.

So Stott answered questions he couldn’t, at one point offering his not-so-expert opinion on International Relations.

“It’s a bit hypothetical, isn’t this?” he replied at one point – surely the truest words spoken all day.

In contrast to the most recent climate-science-related FOI hearing I attended in October (Newbery vs the BBC), the judge was scrupulously exact with both parties, while the two lay judges actively engaged with very good questions, clearly intended to improve their understanding.

In Newbery’s case, they asked no questions, and merely scowled. It later transpired that one of the lay judges was a former local government official whose huge redundancy payoff had only been exposed through FOI requests. The other was a former Labour councillor who had received money for campaigning on climate change – and whose views on “deniers” were well known.

It’ll be interesting to see the Tribunal’s decision in due course

British landlords told: vet migrant tenants

Private landlords will be legally responsible for ensuring that they only let properties to people allowed to be in Britain under immigration laws to be announced in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech.

Almost two million buy-to-let property owners will be responsible for checking the immigration status of potential tenants, with fines running into thousands of pounds for those breaking the law. Employers will also face “more substantial” fines for taking on illegal immigrants.

The measures are likely to prompt questions over whether ordinary people and employers are being made responsible for policing the immigration system after repeated failures by the UK Border Agency. They are included in an Immigration Bill which will also limit the ability of European immigrants to claim benefits and ensure that the right to reside in Britain on the basis of family commitments is not abused by criminals.

Temporary migrants will also be charged for using the NHS and only those who have lived in an area for at least two years will qualify for social housing.

The legislation has been drawn up as the Coalition struggles to contain the electoral threat posed by the UK Independence Party, which has wooed voters with its hard-line immigration policies.

In the document setting out the package, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will acknowledge that their experience of Government has been “tough”.

They will add: “But three years on, our resolve to turn our country around has never been stronger. We know that Britain can be great again because we’ve got the people to do it. Today’s Queen’s Speech shows that we will back them every step of the way. It is all about backing people who work hard and want to get on in life.”

The details of how the measures will be implemented will be set out later in the year. The plans will be the subject of a formal consultation in the coming months.

Ministers are expected to say that the legal requirements on landlords will affect those letting rooms in multi-occupancy properties. However, the measure will be universal and it will be the responsibility of all landlords to seek copies of passports and appropriate visas.

It is unclear how people are supposed to establish the authenticity of the information. The level of fines is also yet to be set but will run into “thousands of pounds”. The Immigration Bill will also contain provisions to ensure human rights laws giving people “the right to stay in the country because of family connections” are not abused by criminals. Courts will be ordered to “balance” the seriousness of the crime committed against the right to remain in Britain.

Regulations will also be amended to ensure that European immigrants cannot claim “certain benefits for more than six months” if they do not actively seek work and show they have a genuine chance of seeking employment. Other measures will limit the right of immigrants to claim legal aid, closing a loophole which allows those here illegally to rack up taxpayer-funded bills fighting deportation.

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister said in a speech that immigration needed to be “properly controlled”. Many of the measures are designed to reduce the attractiveness of Britain for Bulgarians and Romanians who will be able to live and work throughout the European Union when immigration controls are lifted next year. Critics have said many of the proposals would have a limited impact and the only way to address European immigration was to renegotiate EU migration treaties or leave the single market.

A number of Bills were dropped from the announcement, including legislation to ensure spending on international aid, a register of lobbyists and “snooping” laws. Mr Cameron also refused to agree to demands for legislation ensuring a referendum on membership of the EU by 2018.


What the Left doesn’t want you to know about Britain’s £200 billion welfare bill

Amid much hand-wringing by the Left-wing Establishment, the Coalition has this month been pushing ahead with long-overdue reforms to Britain’s vastly expensive benefits system.

Yesterday ministers began piloting a more efficient way of paying state handouts, called the Universal Credit. It follows changes to disability benefits and a trial to cap total welfare payments at £26,000 a year — the income of the typical working family. The cap, which is being trialled in four London boroughs, will be imposed across the rest of England, Scotland and Wales from July.

Most reasonable people might think the changes fair — generous even. Indeed, polls show that three-quarters of the public are in favour of sharp cuts in benefits and stricter rules on entitlement.

However, critics have condemned the cuts by the ‘cruel’ Coalition, and insist that if voters knew the full facts, they would change their opinion.

Here, we reveal the truth behind the claims peddled by commentators on the Left…


CLAIM: The welfare budget is being slashed in size and scope by the Coalition in a series of ‘cruel’ attacks on the needy.

REALITY: Between 1997/98 and 2010/11, benefit and tax credit spending in Britain increased from £122 billion to around £200 billion. This represents an increase of 60 per cent over the whole period.

As Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith recently admitted, the budget is not being cut at all — despite howls from the Left and BBC. It is just increasing more slowly than it would have under Labour.

At the end of the current Parliament in 2015, the Coalition is forecast to spend £206 billion on welfare. In other words, it will be higher even than at the height of Gordon Brown’s ruinous debt binge.

Working age welfare will fall slightly from £95.3 billion to £91.5 billion over the Parliament, but pensioner welfare will rise from £103.7 billion to £114.2 billion.
At the end of the current Parliament in 2015, the Coalition is forecast to spend £206 billion on welfare. In other words, it will be higher even than at the height of Gordon Brown’s ruinous debt binge

At the end of the current Parliament in 2015, the Coalition is forecast to spend £206 billion on welfare. In other words, it will be higher even than at the height of Gordon Brown’s ruinous debt binge


CLAIM: Only a tiny number of jobless families have large numbers of children reliant on the State for support.

REALITY: There are 160 families on out-of-work benefits with ten or more children. This figure was cited by the Left during the debate over the case of Mick Philpott from Derby, who killed six of his 17 children in a house fire and whose lifestyle was subsidised by taxpayers.

However, closer scrutiny of official figures shows that there are huge numbers of large workless households reliant on welfare.

There are 194,000 homes with three children; 76,310 with four; 25,980 with five; 8,760 with six; 3,200 with seven; 1,080 with eight; and 360 with nine.

Some 419,370 workless families have two children — which is the average number of offspring for all homes in the UK.


CLAIM: Millions of people in and out of work are having their benefits ‘cut’.

REALITY: Benefits, including out-of-work-benefits and tax credits, are increasing by one per cent. This is depicted as a cut because it is less than the rate of inflation. But it follows a period when benefits outstripped average wage increases.

In 2012/13, while average earnings increased by 2.9 per cent, most working age benefits were up-rated by 5.2 per cent.
There are 160 families on out-of-work benefits with ten or more children. This figure was cited during the debate over the case of Mick Philpott from Derby, who killed six of his 17 children in a house fire

There are 160 families on out-of-work benefits with ten or more children. This figure was cited during the debate over the case of Mick Philpott from Derby, who killed six of his 17 children in a house fire

If compared over the past five years, the gap is wider still: with the incomes of those in work having risen half as quickly as those on out-of-work benefits — at a rate of 10 per cent compared with 20 per cent.

Elsewhere in Europe, benefits have suffered real cuts: Ireland has cut unemployment benefits by four per cent a year for two years; Portugal has reduced it by six per cent; and Spain has cut payments to anyone unemployed for longer than six months by 10 per cent.

Much more HERE

Woman fined for ‘racist’ English insult

A Welsh woman has been made to pay compensation for using a racist slur against an English woman after calling her “an English cow”.

Elen Humphreys, 25, of Garndolbenmaen, near Porthmadog, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment, after she branded Angela Payne, who had an affair with her father, an “English cow.”

The court in Prestatyn in North Wales heard that Humphreys levelled the insult at Ms Payne when she went to her house in Rhyl to collect some of her father’s property and told her : “Leave well alone, you English cow”.

For Angela Payne it was the final straw, said prosecutor James Neary, as Humphreys’s mother had previously been warned by the police about her conduct. The court heard Humphreys had also called the victim other names previously.

Humphreys was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay Angela Payne £50 in compensation.


What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, I guess.


About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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