Patient Protect is an
organisation dedicated to the prevention of neglect and incompetence in our
National Health Service, and to the elimination of the secrecy which allows
these problems to flourish. "Sunlight is the best disinfectant"¹
Last updated 12 November 2016.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01227 713661 or fax 01227 711426 for more information or to report neglect in the
If your relative is being neglected, then complain effectively NOW!
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Why do we need Patient Protect?
· How rationing actually works.
· How to protect yourselves from rationing.
· How incompetence is concealed.
· How to protect yourselves from incompetence.
and the NHS
Brief descriptions of other organisations, and Links.
Books and other publications.
Personal accounts of abuse in our hospitals.
If you know of cases of abuse, tell us now!
Subscribe to discussion group.
Why do we need Patient Protect?
Most patients enter hospital with the belief that they will be treated by competent staff, and that they will receive whatever treatment they need in order to achieve a successful outcome. The Patient's Charter , recently abolished by this Government, actually stated that these beliefs amounted to a right, presumably protected by the Government.
The reality, however, is that hospital staff can and do work beyond their level of competence, free from accountability, with their mistakes and identities hidden from the public.
Most rationing in our hospitals also goes on in secret. The elderly are usually the targets, although anyone who can be labelled as an unproductive member of society is at risk. As well as working to stop this discrimination, Patient Protect aims to make patients aware of what is happening. After all, secret rationing can only survive if it is kept secret.
Although the initial focus of this site was on NHS Hospitals, it is now clear that the problems we see are common to all areas of the health care system, both NHS and Private. For more details of the state of the private sector, check the articles "A very messy business" and "Private Hospitals can damage your health". At present it seems that hospitalisation is safest as a private patient in an NHS hospital.
1) Why the young, the elderly and the disabled are targeted for rationing.
The first thing to understand is that the new "NHS Trust Hospital" is really nothing more than a commercial business, run by business managers whose chief responsibility is to work within the budget set by the government.
The managers know that there is not enough money to allow all the patients to get the treatment they need (and which they were promised under the Patient's Charter) but they also know that to fail in their duty to provide proper treatment can lead to huge awards of damages in the courts.
The solution to this problem is to exploit the method the courts use to decide what the level of damages should be. If the hospital negligently kills a 30 year old family breadwinner, they can end up compensating the family for the loss of future earnings - this can be millions of pounds. Similarly, killing a mum with three young kids can lead to big payments for hiring cook, nanny, housekeeper plus compensation for any income she may have had.
Negligently killing a young child, an elderly person or someone disabled, however, is virtually free of these risks, for the simple reason that there is hardly ever any dependency requiring compensation. Of course, families can and do complain bitterly, but 'toughing out' a complaint is cheap, as is the eventual issuing of an apology.
Government, of course, knows what is going on, but chooses to do nothing. Please read Watch out, you old chickens! for why.
2) How rationing works at the
level of the ward.
Compared with wards for younger adult patients, wards for the elderly are affected in three ways by rationing:
i) reduction in quality and quantity of staff
ii) reduction in quality and quantity of equipment
iii) tighter controls on what treatments can actually be carried out, regardless of how necessary they are.
A phenomenon known as "supply driven demand" then operates as staff learn not to ask for things they know they will not get. Why do staff, whose primary duty is to put the interests of the patient first, accept these restrictions?
First, many of the staff who find these restrictions intolerable either avoid working on the wards for the elderly or quit altogether.
Second, of the staff who remain, some do care , but feel powerless to do anything. All nurses know that if they complain, or stand up for the patients, they are going to face hardship and sooner or later get fired; all nurses know the story of nurse Pink. Doctors also know that 'troublemakers' and 'whistleblowers' do not get good references or promotions and may, like Dr Bolsin have to leave the country to find work. A recent survey in The British Medical Journal found that a quarter of staff in an (unnamed) NHS Trust reported that they had been subjected to bullying in the previous year.
Third, some staff simply do not appear to care. Staff guilty of awful cruelty and neglect can avoid a guilty conscience by using 'techniques of neutralisation'. Examples of these techniques in use include:
"The funding cuts aren't my fault" (denial of responsibility)
"She was going to die anyway" (denial of victim)
"The resources are better used on someone else" (appeal to higher loyalty)
Fourth, some staff have ended up callous and heartless. Although they would not be tolerated on other wards, management allow them to remain on the elderly wards, presumably because they can be relied on never to stand up for the elderly patients.
3) How rationing works at the level of the patient.
It can be summed up as 'Lambs to the Slaughter'. Most patients and relatives will not realise (and will certainly not be told) that they are not getting a pressure relief mattress, even after they have developed bed sores; they naturally believe that the 'Nil by Mouth' sign over the bed is there for the patient's benefit (in some cases, no staff will admit to putting the sign there in the first place); 'Do not resuscitate' orders written in the notes frequently come to light only after the patient has died. Even if the relatives or patients do realise what is happening, it is often too late to reverse the damage. Patients, their relatives and their friends usually lack the experience and assertiveness to get past a skilful gatekeeper.
Secret rationing of treatment is bad enough, but there is worse. Although some patients may die promptly following withdrawal of treatment, others are stronger and threaten to linger on. These 'bed-blockers' often receive a helping hand with, for example, overdoses of diamorphine or diuretics. Diamorphine (heroin) is fast and effective, especially in someone unused to the drug and already weak. First it induces coma, followed by respiratory depression, and death. For the hospital, this has the advantage of having the patient slip away quickly and quietly without any fuss. Diuretics cause dehydration, and although the result is ultimately the same as with diamorphine the patient may survive, conscious, for up to a week even with the imposition of a 'Nil by mouth' regimen. Relatives who do not know the signs of dehydration may be tricked into believing that the rapid deterioration is due simply to the underlying illness.
How to protect yourselves from rationing.
Staff are likely to be more diligent and much less willing to participate in rationing if they know they can be identified later. Always keep a notebook and pen handy, and keep them visible.
Ask at the nurses' desk which nurses are responsible for hydration, nutrition and pain control. Write these names down as you get them. These names should be clearly stated in the Nursing Care Plan.
Write down the name of the person you are talking to.
Ask for the name of the consultant responsible for the patient, and also ask for the name of the doctor who will be responsible for the day to day management of the case.
If you ask all these reasonable questions in a friendly manner, you can expect straightforward civil answers. If you feel you are getting fobbed off with excuses like 'it's confidential' or 'too busy' or 'you don't need to know' then do not get upset. Simply go to (or phone) the Customer Services Officer and ask them to find out for you (don't forget to ask for their name). Explain that it is important that you know who is responsible for what in order that communication can be improved and problems can be avoided. If this does not work then send written complaints (see next section).
2) How to stop existing problems.
The first step is to recognise that rationing and neglect are taking place. Dehydration, bed sores and a general lack of attention from qualified staff (eg soiled bedding, call button out of reach, regular observations not being done) are all reasons to suspect neglect. Are the staff reluctant to show you the patient's records and discuss the drugs being used? Is Diamorphine PRN on the prescription chart? Is a DNR order in the notes without your knowledge? Are you told that the Consultant/Doctor/Surgeon is too busy to see you?
If you feel that the patient is deteriorating rapidly and their treatment seems to be the cause, rather than the cure, then step two is to complain effectively. Rationing and neglect are top-down processes, so
· Complain by fax to the Chief Executive of the Health Authority responsible for the hospital (phone the local Community Health Council for his name, fax and phone numbers) and
· Copy this by fax to the Chief Executive of the hospital and Consultant responsible for your relative's care.
· Immediately follow up with a call to their secretaries and confirm receipt of the fax. Stress to them that you will take things further if nothing is done. Ask for their name, write it down together with the time of the conversation. Send faxed copies to the other organisations (see below). Keep fax receipts.
· Keep records of all significant events - keep a diary with names of staff, what they do/do not do, etc, record conversations (use recording walkman, dictaphone etc), photograph evidence of neglect.
· If the situation does not improve rapidly, demand to see the Consultant and demand an immediate transfer for your relative.
· The following is a suggested outline - contact us if you can suggest any improvements. Please cut and paste to your word processor:
[Name and address of CEO of Health Authority]
Dear [Name of CEO]
I have reason to believe my relative [Patient's name], [Date of Birth], [Hospital Record Number] is not being treated at [Name of Hospital] in accordance with Article 2 of the Human Rights Act .
My main concerns are: (eg lack of treatment, attitude of staff, unhygienic conditions, patient lying in excrement, bed sores, dehydration, inappropriate use of diamorphine, etc)
1) ( write main concerns )
I require an urgent review of [Patient's name] and if this does not improve the situation , I would like to request a transfer to a different unit. Staff in this hospital have been negligent in the care of [Patient's name]. Their names are
1) Dr [Name]
I enclose an extract of my diary of the events leading up to my dissatisfaction .
Failure of your health authority to improve the standard of care immediately will result in litigation on the grounds of negligence. In addition , if my relative, [Patient's name], dies , you will be liable for manslaughter in addition to knowingly being in breach of the Human Rights Act .
I look forward to an immediate review . My telephone number is xxxxxxxxxx. The telephone number of the ward where [Patient's name] is located is xxxxxxxxxx .
Yours sincerely ,
cc The Chief Executive of the [Name of hospital]
You can find the name of your M.P. and a contact address at http://www.locata.co.uk/commons
In the meantime, visit your relative and stay constantly, take pictures and tape any conversations. Note down everything in detail. That is the key .
Dehydration can cause death in as little as three days, so it is important to spot it early. The first effect of dehydration is a sensation of thirst, so complaints about feeling thirsty should be taken seriously. The depression, confusion and delusions which follow as the dehydration deepens are also important signs which are often assumed by relatives to be part of some natural downhill progression. One useful test for serious dehydration is to gently pinch some loose skin between thumb and forefinger. Dehydrated skin stays 'pinched' whereas normal skin returns to its original shape (try this on yourself first!). Other effects of dehydration include dry mouth and throat and shortness of breath (in turn making speech and swallowing difficult), deafness, swollen tongue, constipation and pneumonia. Dehydration weakens skin, and once the patient is too weak to move, bed sores can quickly develop.
Bed sores (also known as pressure sores, decubitus ulcers) develop as a result of lying in the same position for too long. Constant pressure on the same spot reduces the flow of blood to the extent that the skin dies. If the pressure continues the area and depth of the tissue necrosis increases. Necrotic (dead) tissue quickly becomes infected and this infection can spread to the blood. Poor nutrition and hydration increase the risk of bed sores. The risk of bed sore development should always be assessed and reassessed frequently, and staff who fail to do this or who fail to act appropriately to an assessment are clearly negligent. Make sure you get to see if the patient's back and heels look healthy. Staff should routinely conduct an objective pressure sore risk assessment, such as the Waterlow pressure sore 'Risk Score'. The assessment is very simple to do yourself; just get a copy of the form, print it and then fill it in. If the patient appears to be at risk, ask a senior nurse if she agrees with your score. The Waterlow website has useful information on both prevention and treatment.
Diamorphine, otherwise known as Heroin, is usually used in palliative care and heart attack patients. It is injected subcutaneously (under the skin) or intravenously (through a vein). Placing it through a vein makes the drug act faster. Its effects are multiple. Used usually for pain relief, it can also depress respiration thus decreasing your drive to breathe. It also relieves anxiety eg in heart attack patients. It is a drug that is useful in heart failure enabling the load of the heart to be less thus relieving the problems of the failing heart coping with a large amount of blood.
It can be prescribed as a PRN (dose) which means as "as much as necessary"(necessary for what?). Being a controlled drug, it has to be signed for two people when giving it. Usual doses are 2.5-5mg. It may be placed in a syringe pump, usually in palliative care, (eg for terminal cancer patients) to relieve pain and distress. Diamorphine is contraindicated in people with respiratory conditions because it may cause respiratory arrest.
incompetence is concealed.
This section is in preparation. If you need information on this section, please email me at email@example.com or phone me at 01227 713661 (or +44 1227 713661 from outside the U.K.) or fax to 01227 711876 (or +44 1227 711876 from outside the U.K.).
protect yourselves from incompetence.
This section is in preparation. If you need information on this section, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone me at 01227 713661 (or +44 1227 713661 from outside the U.K.) or fax to 01227 711876 (or +44 1227 711876 from outside the U.K.).
The original purpose of this website was to help to prevent the elderly and other vulnerable groups from becoming victims of secret rationing. Sadly most feedback to this site is to report first hand experience of cruelty and neglect in our hospitals. Most people report being stonewalled by hospital staff handling their complaint, and remain dissatisfied with the explanations they have received. What follows in this section is a very brief survey of your options.
Hospital (or GP) Records - Patients, and relatives of deceased patients, are entitled to see and receive an explanation of the original records and/or have photocopies of the originals supplied at cost. The Access to Health Records Act 1990 gives you a right of access to health records of a deceased relative from 1 November 1991. The Data Protection Act 1998 , which repealed most of the 1990 Act, allows living patients to access their own records, paper and computerised, with no limit to how far back you can go.
The fees involved are modest and are limited by statute, but if you have difficulty finding the money, please give me a quick call. Please note, that radiographs (x-rays) are very expensive to copy, and it may be better to leave a request for copies of these out of the initial enquiry unless they are central to your complaint. Instead, ask for a list of any X-rays and scans held by the hospital, and ask them to include dates, views and name of doctor requesting them.
Hospitals can usually supply explanatory notes and an application form on request, but you can cut and paste the sample letter below. The holder of the health record has a period of 40 days from the date of your application within which to provide the copies requested. Make sure that you enclose evidence as to your identity with your application - the 40 days only starts when they are satisfied as to your identity. There are a limited number of reasons for witholding access to records, but these will rarely apply. Please contact me if you need help organising or understanding your copies of the health records.
Re: [Patient's name], deceased, dob [date of birth]
I wish to apply for copies of any records you hold for the above patient. I am the next-of-kin of [Patient's Name], and this application is made under S3(1)(f) of the Access to Health Records Act (1990). [Patient's Name] was a patient of yours in [year(s)]
I understand that a fee will be payable to cover the cost of making the copies and postage. In view of the high cost of copying radiographs and other images, please do not copy these, but instead provide me with a complete list (including dates, views, name of Doctor requesting them) of what, if any, you are holding.
Please contact me at the above address if you require payment in advance.
NHS Complaints Procedure - Most complainants find these procedures a complete waste of time. The Local Investigation of the complaint usually exceeds all time limits, results in nothing new being revealed, and merely provides the staff with an opportunity to discover what evidence you have against them. According to a recent study by the Public Law Project: "The overwhelming feelings that that complainants were left with, following attempts at local resolution in these cases, were that issues had been covered up, staff had been protected, and that no one was prepared to take responsibility" ( Section 2.53, Cause for Complaint? An evaluation of the effectiveness of the NHS complaints procedure). Independent review is far from independent (mine was denied by the Acting Chairman of the Trust) and when a review is granted the evidence is often presented in a biased way or even tampered with. The Ombudsman's staff seem to spend most of their time presenting excuses for not holding an investigation. It is important to note that attempting to reason with administrators at each of these levels is very time consuming, and care must be taken not to exceed the three year limitation period for Civil Litigation, after which civil actions are normally barred. NHS procedures are not available if you have stated, in a letter or orally, that you intend to take legal action. A critique of the NHS Complaints Procedure prepared by SIN also suggests that the whole procedure is a complete waste of time.
Complaints to the UKCC about poor nursing standards are also likely to be a waste of time - please see the review of the state of the UKCC, copied from the NHS-Exposed site.
The following four subsections are in preparation. If you need information on these sections, please email me at email@example.com or phone me at 01227 264481 (or +44 1227 264481 from outside the U.K.) or fax to 01227 711876 (or +44 1227 711876 from outside the U.K.).
Civil Litigation - The new website http://www.medicalclaims.co.uk/ is free and and provides information on clinical negligence claims. The site asks for no personal information and carries no advertising.
Criminal Prosecution -
Inquest - One of the most common ploys used by coroners trying to avoid an inquest is to say that they are satisfied that death was due to natural causes. The cause of death is usually written by the hospital's own pathologist, who is hardly likely to want to draw attention to dehydration, diamorphine or negligence as being significant factors in causing death. A recent court case has made the 'natural causes' excuse for not holding an inquest much less tenable. The judges in this case made it very clear that if the patient suffered from a condition which, if not monitored and treated in a routine way will result in death, and, for whatever reason, the monitoring and treatment is omitted, then the coroner must hold an inquest unless he can say that there are no grounds for suspecting that the omission was an effective cause of death.
BBC Website, 25 May 2004
Abused pensioner's body to be exhumed - An order has been obtained by police to remove the body of William Pettener, 95, who was a resident at a private nursing home in Porthmadog in Gwynedd. A member of staff at the Bodawen nursing home has been suspended following allegations made by several members of staff concerning abuse by a fellow worker at the home. Members of staff alleged that a colleague used verbal abuse against them and both verbal and physical abuse against residents. The retired engineer, from Ormskirk, died at the home on 12 April, with the cause of death given as bronchopneumonia. It is thought the exhumation will take place next week.
Stockport Express, 19 May 2004
Shamed social services say sorry for neglect - Social Services chiefs have apologised to the son of a pensioner who died through neglect. Frail Mary Sharpe, 86, died after developing a pressure sore on her back. She was discharged from Stepping Hill Hospital after being left bedridden following two strokes - but her son claims staff at the care home where she was nursed did not turn her regularly and left her on her back for 40 days. Geoffrey, of Cherry Tree Drive, Hazel Grove launched his crusade for answers back in November 2001. An initial inquiry by the Independent Inspection Unit claimed there was no evidence of neglect.
Now Social Services chiefs have been forced to make a full apology to her angry son who has been fighting for justice since his mums death. He alleges he only discovered the bedsore when it became infected and began to smell. Geoffrey claimed: I walked through the door and was appalled to find the flesh around the wound had begun to rot and was exposing the spine. I was furious. She was unable to walk, talk, or swallow and had little movement. She was literally on her deathbed but was even robbed of dignity there.
Ananova, 19 May 2004
Nurses found guilty of killing patient by neglect - Two nurses have been found guilty of killing an elderly patient at a nursing home. Dennis Latham, 33, from Blackburn, Lancashire and Barbara Campbell, 62, from Glasgow, were found guilty of the manslaughter of 77-year-old Marion Dennis by a jury at the Isle of Man High Court of Justice, in Douglas.
Latham was the nursing services manager at the home at the time of the death. Campbell was his deputy. During the five-week trial the jury were told that Latham and Campbell were guilty of gross negligence in their care of Mrs Dennis.
Mrs Dennis died in July 1999 from septicaemia resulting from pressure sores the "size of a fist" that developed while she was a resident at Ballastowell Gardens nursing home in Ramsey. Medical experts gave evidence confirming that when she was admitted to hospital from the nursing home she had infected ulcers, more commonly known as pressure sores, that had penetrated to the bone. She died seven days after being admitted to Noble's Hospital.
Telegraph, 13 May 2004
Care is being jeopardised and hospital resources squandered in a Government drive to bring down waiting lists before the next election, NHS doctors warned yesterday.
Orthopaedic surgeons are concerned that an initiative to employ overseas doctors in special private centres could lead to inferior and sometimes "botched" operations.
They say the move will end up costing the taxpayer more because the NHS will have to correct poor surgery and replace hip and knee implants sooner than normal.
Their concerns follow an NHS inquiry into an unnamed South African doctor employed by a private company. The surgeon, who worked at the Royal Hospital, in Gosport, Hants, returned home after carrying out seven hip operations, of which five were found to have potential problems. Two patients needed emergency surgery after their new hips dislocated.
John Timperley, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Centre, Exeter, whose letter in The Daily Telegraph today is signed by 42 other surgeons, said: "It is all down to political imperative". He continued"A good hip replacement operation will last decades but an inferior one only six months. This initiative will endanger patients and be a false economy as the NHS will have to put it right."
Independent, 13 May 2004
Incompetent student nurses are being allowed to qualify because hospital examiners are too reluctant to fail them, an industry report warned yesterday.
The Nursing And Midwifery Council, which regulates the profession, strongly criticised senior nurse mentors who assess trainees on the wards for passing sub-standard students as fit to practice. Patients may be put at risk because mentors are "failing to fail" students who, in some cases, have repeatedly had concerns raised about their ability to perform clinical tasks, the report said.
Andy McGovern, a mentor at Newham General Hospital in east London, said he knew of cases where students who were clinically incompetent had been passed as fit to practice and allowed on to the wards as a fully-fledged nurse. "Sometimes mentors just cannot face failing students because they are scared of the reaction," he said.
The Guardian, 13 May 2004.
Hospital Meal Times to be Sacrosanct- the government has told NHS
hospitals to return to the values of Florence Nightingale by introducing strict
mealtime discipline on the wards to ensure that patients eat their food.
Health ministers want nurses to adopt procedures trialled at King's College hospital in London where doctors and visitors are kept out of the wards during meals to let patients eat without interruption.Caroline Lecko, a matron on the neuro-science unit at King's, said medical staff were too busy to notice whether patients ate meals provided by catering contractors. They carried on with tests and procedures which sometimes made it impossible for patients to eat food while it was hot.
"We saw patients were not being prepared for meals, not in a comfortable position and with food left out of reach. Food was placed on the table next to bottles of urine and vomit bowls. It was awful. Patients would be eating when someone was taking blood at the next bed or putting a patient on a commode."
She said the contracting out of catering over the last 10 years may have contributed to the downgrading of meal times. Recent NHS research found that 40% of people coming into hospital were malnourished and of those 70% became further malnourished during their stay in hospital.
Her response was to introduce a "protected mealtime", setting aside two hours from noon for eating and rest. Doctors were told to keep away unless there was an emergency and visitors were discouraged unless they came to help the patient eat. The diagnostic department which used to do all inpatient tests during lunchtime has rescheduled to take only outpatients then.
Daily Telegraph, 29 April 2004
Nurse 'tried to kill elderly to free beds' - A ward sister tried to murder four of her elderly patients in a ruthless drive to free hospital beds, a court was told yesterday. Barbara Salisbury, 47, crossed the line between "humane nursing and callous dispatch", it was claimed. She gave a 76-year-old man an excess of diamorphine, telling him as she did so: "Give in. It's time to go." On another occasion she instructed a nurse treating a 92-year-old: "Lay him flat. With any luck his lungs will fill with water and he'll die." She justified her administering of diamorphine to an 88-year-old woman at Leighton Hospital, Crewe, Cheshire, with the observation: "Why delay the inevitable?"
Robin Spencer, QC, prosecuting at Chester Crown Court, said: "Barbara Salisbury arrogated to herself the right to decide when patients should die, and attempted by her actions to shorten what remained of their lives. "If she thought a patient had no hope of recovery she didn't want to have to wait too long. If a patient could be made well enough she would aim for that. If not, she would hasten death. "One way or another, she wanted these patients off her ward."
Mr Spencer alleged that Salisbury, who had worked at hospitals in Peterborough, Cambs, and King's Lynn, Norfolk, before moving to Leighton in 1993, made little or no secret of what she was doing. Eventually some of the junior staff on her ward felt compelled to speak out. The trial continues.
The Sunday Times,
How extra spending failed to improve the public services - confidential research prepared for senior ministers and aides showed that, although the government had pumped billions of extra taxpayers money into the public sector, large amounts had apparently been wasted.
Since Labour was elected in 1997, total public spending has risen almost 50% to £459 billion. But the research found the taxpayer, hit by a series of stealth taxes, had not received value for money. Much of the cash had been swallowed up by an inefficient bureaucracy and inflation-busting pay rises for civil servants.
The revelations, contained in cabinet committee minutes leaked to The Sunday Times, may have lasting consequences for Blair and Labour come the general election, which is expected next year. The reports showed public sector productivity the key measure of efficiency has fallen steadily since 1997. According to official data never previously released, efficiency has dropped 10% over the past seven years. In health and education, the key election battlegrounds, it has slumped by between 15% and 20%. In the past, the government has only ever admitted to a 3% fall in productivity since the 1997 election.
In basic terms, this means the extra money being spent on the public sector is not being adequately reflected in better services. Economists found that the massive inputs into the public sector were not being matched by enhanced outputs in the form of better schools, hospitals and police forces. Experts calculate the slump in productivity means Labour is wasting £20 billion a year equivalent to almost 6p on the basic rate of income tax.
The government is also expected to be forced to admit that it will not meet its pledge to employ 7,500 more NHS consultants by the end of this year. It claims to have met the target for GPs but professional bodies say many new GPs are part-timers. The Audit Commission reported last week that, despite the billions ploughed into the NHS, hospital trusts now had a cumulative debt of £500m.
Times, April 24 2004
GMC ignored surgeon warning - the future of the General Medical Council (GMC) was back under the spotlight yesterday after the disclosure that it could have acted against a disgraced gynaecologist ten years before he was struck off.
Police warned the GMC in 1988 that Richard Neale was already banned from working in Canada, two years after he began operating in England. He was found guilty in 2000 of 34 charges of serious professional misconduct linked to a dozen botched operations that left some patients with lifelong complications. The revelation could not have come at a worse time after a leak from the inquiry into Harold Shipman, the serial killer GP, suggested that its final report will criticise GMC actions and attitudes before and after 1996, when it started reforms designed to win back public confidence. Neale worked for nine years at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, and later at hospitals in Leicester and London. The GMC had maintained that it was unaware that the consultant was practising in Britain until 1998.
Correspondence has now emerged, however, that shows that the GMC was consulted about Mr Neale by North Yorkshire Police in 1988, when a decision to take no action against him was made by Lord Walton, who was the councils president.
All GMC papers relating to the episode have been destroyed, but a file found by the police was handed to a government inquiry into the NHSs handling of the Neale case. Its findings are expected to be announced this year. The GMC admitted it was warned about Mr Neale by Canadian medical authorities in 1985. It blamed administrative blunders for its failure to act when he arrived in Britain a year later.
It issued an unreserved apology yesterday. Its chief executive, Finlay Scott, described the councils conduct in 1988 as extraordinary and inexplicable. An official added: A situation like this could not arise again.
Guardian, 10 March 2004
Doctors violated disabled boy's rights - The human rights of a severely disabled boy and his mother were violated when doctors who thought he was dying overrode his mother's objections and gave him diamorphine to ease his death, the European court of human rights ruled yesterday.
The unanimous ruling by seven judges in Strasbourg means that, except in a clear emergency, doctors should seek high court approval before treating a child against the express wishes of a parent.
The court awarded David Glass, who survived and is now 18, and his mother, Carol, pounds 7,000 in damages and pounds 10,500 in costs for a breach of article 8 of the European convention on human rights, the right to respect for private life.
The judges said: "The court considered that the decision to impose treatment on David in defiance of his mother's objections gave rise to an interference with his right to respect for his private life, and in particular his right to physical integrity."
A "do not resuscitate" (DNR) order was put in his notes without telling his mother.
David's condition deteriorated and doctors recommended diamorphine, which depresses breathing, to relieve his distress. Ms Glass did not agree that he was dying.She asked to take David home if he was dying, but a police officer summoned by the doctors advised her that if she attempted to remove him, she would be arrested. David was given diamorphine and his condition deteriorated. His family demanded it be stopped, but a doctor said this was possible only if they agreed not to resuscitate him.
Relatives tried to revive him and a fight broke out in which doctors and police officers were injured. While the fight was going on, Ms Glass successfully resuscitated David. His condition improved and he returned home. Three family members were later jailed for violent disorder and causing actual bodily harm.
Ms Glass took her case to Strasbourg after failing to win redress in the high court and court of appeal.
Guardian, 11 February , 2004
Relatives demand prosecutions for hospital abuse - Relatives have today rejected a trust's 'unreserved apology' and demanded prosecutions following an internal inquiry that found vulnerable older people were assaulted by its mental health staff.
Norma Chatt, whose 81-year-old mother spent more than a year on Rowan ward at Withington hospital in Greater Manchester, said today:"I want the people responsible brought to justice, that is what all the relatives want. What use is an apology nearly two years later?" She claimed her mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, suffered six black eyes while on the ward. She said: "When all the relatives got together and compared what had been going on it was awful. There were reports of patients being scalded, not being fed and having soap put in their mouths."
The call for prosecutions comes a day after a report into the inquiry by the mental health trust, which was responding to a damning inspection last year of care standards on the ward by the Commission for Health Improvement (Chi). Chi inspectors found poor management and supervision and low staffing levels.
The inquiry report revealed patients with dementia, schizophrenia and depression on Rowan ward were kicked, slapped and beaten by staff. It concluded standards of nursing care were outdated, doctors failed to report patients injuries, systems to detect abuse were poor and there was a culture of "intimidation and even fear" among staff on the ward.
However the report failed to single out who was to blame for the injuries and concluded they were "unattributable".
Greater Manchester police said today that it had conducted an investigation but that its file was closed last September. A spokeswoman said: "Following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service no charges were brought against staff members."
Sunday Times, 08 February 2004
Coroner seeks inquiry into mass euthanasia at hospital - A Coroner is demanding a public inquiry into claims that 11 hospital patients were deliberately starved to death. He believes that it could be Britains first case of forced mass euthanasia. Peter Ashworth, the coroner for Derby, will open an inquest later this year into the suspicious deaths at the citys Kingsway hospital. He considers the matter so serious that he has written to the Department of Health asking for the inquest to be superseded by a judicial inquiry with powers to investigate practices at the hospital.
There is now increasing concern across Britain about the way hospitals appear to be hastening the deaths of elderly patients. Police in Leeds and Hampshire are also looking into similar cases. The 11 patients, all men aged between 65 and 93, died in the Rowsley ward for the elderly at Kingsway. A review of the cases, ordered by the coroner, found evidence that their deaths may have been speeded up by withholding sufficient food.
The allegations first surfaced after Jayne Drew, a healthcare assistant, alerted the hospital managers after the deaths of Simon Smith, 74, and Arthur Boddice, 81, in the summer of 1997. Families of fellow patients at the hospital claimed that some staff had become so upset at seeing elderly people being starved that they had taken it upon themselves to feed them secretly. One relative has described how it was distressing to see his father go without food. Andrew Hughson said his 75- year-old father, also called Andrew, would vainly stretch his hand towards meals being delivered to other patients. We kept being told that feeding him would be bad for his general health, and he was too frail to tell us otherwise, he said. Simon Smiths son Michael said At the time we thought my fathers treatment was consistent with what you would expect. Now it appears he was not being fed. We all want to know the precise causes of these deaths and we still havent had an answer.
Ann Alexander, the solicitor acting for the bereaved families, said it was unfair that top QCs and junior counsel were being provided out of public funds to represent the health authority, medical and nursing staff at the inquest while no legal representation was being provided for the families.
Police are also investigating the unexpected deaths of 62 patients all pensioners who had been admitted for postoperative rehabilitation at the Gosport War Memorial hospital in Hampshire. In Leeds, the death of Ethel Hall, 86, allegedly poisoned by a massive insulin injection, has sparked a police review of the records of 18 other elderly patients who died at the citys General Infirmary.
CHI Press Release, 22 January 2004
CHI gives evidence to Health Select Committee on the abuse of older people - The plight of older people who are abused while receiving NHS services was highlighted before a Government inquiry today.
"Some older people are among our most vulnerable citizens and that makes it possible for them to become victims of abuse. It must be a matter of extreme concern that even when we would expect them to be safe in the care of the NHS, some older people are still at risk," said Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) chairman Dame Deirdre Hine.
"We know that most NHS staff are caring and committed and give sensitive care to older people. However, caring for older people is a demanding and complex job, especially if the patients are showing challenging behaviour. If staff dont get the full support, training and supervision that they need, then this can result in some older patients being abused. That abuse can take the form of physical abuse, but also emotional abuse, neglect or inappropriate restraint and sedation".
"Our findings so far show that older peoples services are generally given low priority in comparison with other services. We believe that the standard of care of older people nationally is worrying and what is more, the NHS doesnt seem to be learning because the same issues keep coming up again and again," said Dame Deirdre.
"Despite the best efforts of many staff, we are seeing too many cases where older people are not getting the care they need and this is unacceptable. We are delighted the Health Select Committee is holding this inquiry and we hope the resulting report will lead to action to help ensure a greater focus on older peoples services," said Dame Deirdre.
Friday, 16 January 2004
Cancer ward nurse arrested after patient's suspicious death - Murder squad detectives have arrested a nurse in connection with the death of a pensioner and are investigating the cases of other patients who were treated on the same cancer ward. The 25-year-old was arrested on suspicion of administering a noxious substance at Hull Royal Infirmary.
Wednesday, 24 December 2003
challenges doctors for right to live - Aman with a degenerative brain
condition has launched an unprecedented human rights challenge to guidance for
doctors which he believes could allow them to end his life by legally
Leslie Burke, who has cerebellar ataxia, is mounting a right-to-life challenge to General Medical Council guidelines on withholding and withdrawing life-prolonging treatment which spell out when doctors can stop artificial feeding and let a patient die.
Yorkshire Evening Post Source, 23 December 2003
'Our gran died after long wait on trolley' - an 86-year-old woman died of a
brain haemorrhage after being left for eight hours on a hospital trolley.
Her family claim they were told she was suffering from a simple chest infection. Dorothy Atkinson's relatives say they were told by Leeds Infirmary that she was "fine" and were urged "not to worry." But hours later tests showed the great great grandmother was suffering from a brain tumour and was bleeding heavily. Two days later she was dead.
The retired hospital worker was taken to LGI after collapsing at her nursing home in Pudsey on Thursday, December 11. She was admitted to hospital just after 5am. Soon afterwards her family telephoned the hospital to check on her. They say they were told she was "fine" but was suffering from a chest infection.
But when they arrived at the hospital at around 1pm that day, they say they found her lying on a trolley in the corridor, unable to move and covered in her own vomit.
Her son, Peter, said she was eventually moved to a bed but only after the family "caused a scene." On the Friday she was taken for tests and a CT brain scan revealed she had a tumour and was suffering a major haemorrhage.
Daily Mail, 17 July 2003
NHS targets cost lives" - Patients are being left to die by hospitals forced to meet meaningless" targets rather than give proper care, it was claimed yesterday (16/07/03). Liberal Democrat health spokesman Dr Evan Harris claimed the latest NHS star ratings showed only how well hospitals could hit targets and fill in spreadsheets. He said, Star ratings divert the attention of doctors and nurses and force hundreds of managers to spend their time collecting information, not improving patient care."
The Guardian, 18 December 2003
Mental health patients
'neglected' - Chronic staff shortages in NHS
mental health trusts in England and Wales are causing patients to be neglected
and exposed to violence on the wards, government inspectors warned yesterday.
The Commission for Health Improvement said mental health remained "the poor relation of the NHS", four years after ministers pledged to make it a priority.
Its inspectors found that "significant national shortages of psychiatrists and nurses are having a major impact on clinical leadership and quality of patient care".
Mental health trusts commonly relied on excessive numbers of agency staff who did not have the skills needed to cope with a violent incident, the commission said. This left permanent staff working long hours and feeling unsafe.
Patients were also concerned about their exposure to violence from other patients. Bed shortages led to inappropriate mixes of patients with different needs. Staff struggled to stop illicit drugs and alcohol.
The Daily Telegraph, 04 December 2003
IVF mother was killed by
negligence of hospital staff - medical negligence by her own
hospital colleagues led to the death of a doctor just hours after the birth of
the twins for which she had yearned.
A verdict of "medical misadventure to which neglect contributed" was recorded at an inquest into the death of Dr Sandyha Senanayake, who gave birth to a boy and a girl at the hospital where she worked, only to die shortly afterwards of internal bleeding.
30,000 nurses desert the NHS
RECORD numbers of nurses are quitting amid growing concern about the continuing staff crisis in the Health Service. The number who left the UK nursing register almost doubled last year, reaching the highest level since the 1980s.
The exodus of 30,200 nurses almost cancelled out 31,700 new recruits, many from overseas. In the previous year, 18,700 nurses left the profession.
The Royal College of Nursing said it feared the loss of experienced nurses heralded a 'demographic timebomb' with increasing numbers of NHS staff becoming eligible for early retirement.
Daily Mail. 02 December 2003
Life-saving treatment 'denied to over-70s' with breast cancer'
THOUSANDS of older women are being denied surgery for their breast cancer because of their age, a cancer surgeon will claim today.
Ian Fentiman, professor of surgical oncology at Guy's and St Thomas's Medical School, London, says that as a result many die needlessly from cancers which are potentially curable.
Instead of surgery, many women over 70 were only given the standard breast cancer drug, tamoxifen - but in many cases without the test which would show whether the drug was likely to work for them or not, he says.
Prof Fentiman, an eminent cancer surgeon, is speaking at a debate today run by Cancer Research UK. He told The Daily Telegraph yesterday: "Older women are dying needlessly because of this attitude. These deaths are happening largely because there is better treatment available and they are not getting it.
"This practice is very widespread. Across the nation it must run into thousands.
The Daily Telegraph, 29 October 2003
June 18, 2003
'Ignored' surgeon's fury at death of patient, 85 - Staff at a hospital with one of the highest death rates in the country are alleged to have allowed an elderly women to die against the specific instructions of her surgeon.
David Shields said that he was overruled behind his back by anaesthetic staff at Oldchurch Hospital, in Romford, East London, who refused to resuscitate his patient even though he believed she could recover from her operation.
The womans family have complained to the hospital and called for an independent inquiry. In March, the independent Dr Foster guide to hospitals said that Oldchurch had one of the highest mortality rates for emergency admissions. It awarded it one star out of a possible ten.
The hospital denies the allegations and said that an internal inquiry had found that the patient should not have been operated on because she was suffering from a number of pre-existing medical conditions.
Mr Shields, who was working as a locum at the hospital, resigned, saying that he was appalled at the management of patients there. He added that the womans care had been his responsibility, not that of the anaesthetists who run the high dependency unit, where the patient was being treated.
I am not prepared to accept responsibility for the death of patients under my care when treatment is either not given or withdrawn by others without my consent, he said.
He has won support from SOS NHS Patients in Need, which represents the families of patients whom it believes die unnecessarily in hospitals. This highlights the fact that so many doctors are prepared to write off someone just because they are elderly, Julia Quenzler, a spokeswoman, said.
The affair began when the 85-year-old woman was admitted to the hospital on April 19 with an apparent obstruction of the bowel. She was taken to the high dependency unit and operated on by Mr Shields. His instructions had been that in the event of cardiac arrest she should be resuscitated. The next day, he said, he saw her twice and she appeared stable. But on his ward round the following morning he was told she had died and from the medical notes discovered that a decision had been made by the anaesthetic staff not to resuscitate her.
A report prepared by another surgeon, Shukri Sami, said the death was caused by heart disease and failure, with no evidence that a medical intervention had caused the death. Mr Sami blamed a lack of communication between the surgical and anaesthetic teams for confusion over resuscitation.
Mr Shields resigned immediately. He was suspended from operating and caring for his patients. Accordingly, the person who drew the trusts attention to the problem has been removed, instead of the problem being addressed, he said. So much for the Governments charter for whistleblowers.
The hospital said that the order not to resuscitate had been entirely appropriate in this case, and claimed that it had been agreed by Mr Shields, who had subsequently changed his mind. A spokeswoman said an inquiry had found Mr Shields should not have operated on the patient because she was not in a suitable medical position. She said the surgeon had then tried to influence the womans family, who had agreed that she should not be resuscitated, to change their minds after the event.
Mr Shields denies all these claims. He also strongly denies the trustss claim that he had been in favour of a DNR order. The form was actually signed by the anaesthetic senior house officer, who certainly knew my view, he said.
Mark Rees, chief executive of Oldchurch Hospital, said in a statement: The trust has investigated the whole of this case and will now refer its findings regarding Mr Shieldss management of this patient to the General Medical Council.
We have met with the patients daughter and would wish to make it clear that they are understandably unhappy with the management of their relatives care. However the decision made by the clinician after discussion with the family to implement the do not resuscitate policy was in our opinion clinically correct.
Shipman experts aid inquiry into hospital deaths
An expert in the use of the heroin-based
painkiller diamorphine is to be appointed by police conducting an investigation
into the deaths of more than 50 elderly patients at a community hospital.
Relations allege that the drug, used by Harold Shipman to kill many of his
patients, was overprescribed at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital near
Portsmouth. Detectives are preparing to interview relations of those who died
at the 180-bed hospital amid claims of unlawful killing.
The Times 07/11/02; p.3
Police investigate deaths of 30 elderly patients
Police are investigating the hospital care of
up to 30 elderly patients after relatives complained that they may have died
from overdoses of powerful painkillers. The families have hired the solicitor
who represented many of the relatives in the Shipman case to put the argument
for a full public inquiry into the deaths. All of the patients who died were
admitted to Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire to recuperate, and their
families were told that they should make a full recovery.
The Times 05/11/02; p.5
Telegraph, 15 July 2000
Jail for relatives in hospital fight over boy - A judge yesterday jailed three relatives of a severely disabled boy after violence broke out around the hospital bed of David Glass, then 12, as an uncle and two aunts fought with two paediatricians trying to administer diamorphine, which his relatives claimed would have killed him. After the confrontation at St Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, 21 months ago, the diamorphine was withdrawn and David was discharged that evening to return home. His mother, Carol, said last night that her son, who will be 14 later this month, was "very well" and that her brother and two sisters "had definitely saved his life" by their intervention. Despite pleas yesterday by their defence counsel for any sentence to be suspended because David's relatives were vital for his round-the-clock care, Judge Roger Shawcross jailed all three, saying "I accept that your absences will be detrimental to his care but it's your fault that David has suffered and yours alone." He also refused an emergency bail application pending an appeal against sentence to the High Court. James Bullen, for Davis, said the case was "a million miles from those of drunken violent disorder". He said the family was "fighting for David because, if the diamorphine had continued, he would have died." David had a chest infection in October 1998 and two doctors, Mark Ashton and Joanne Walker, expected him to die within hours. The previous day doctors had stopped feeding him and they administered diamorphine. See Jill Baker's comments.
Complaints by the family that both doctors should be accused of attempted murder were investigated by Hampshire police but the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to charge them.
Telegraph, 6 June 2000
Sick boy's relatives 'attacked doctors' - A hospital ward erupted into violence when the family of a seriously ill child turned on doctors who were "trying to kill" the boy, a court was told yesterday. Alastair Malcolm, for the prosecution, told the court that the doctors had given David diamorphine as a painkiller and to help him breathe but the family ordered that the dose be reduced and accused them of trying to hasten the child's death. Raymond Davis, 43, Julie Hodgson, 37, and Diane Wild, 42, all of Portsmouth, deny violent disorder and assaulting Dr Mark Ashton at the hospital in October 1998. Wild also denies assaulting Dr Walker on the same date. Davis and Hodgson denied being involved in the attack and Wild claimed that she had acted in self-defence after being punched by Dr Ashton.The accused are aunts and uncle of the boy. Twelve-year-old David Glass, who is severely disabled, survived the chest complaint and was later discharged from hospital.
Times, 5 June 2000
Consultant is suspended over organ disposal - hospital consultant pathologist, Geoffrey Hulman, has been suspended following allegations about the disposal of dead babies' organs.
Mortuary workers at the King's Mill Centre in Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire claimed they were ordered to throw babies' brains and hearts into rubbish sacks for incineration as well as the vital organs of adults. They said that they had been ordered to clear them out soon after guidelines relating to organ disposal were published by the Royal College of Pathologists in March. The guidelines advised hospitals to search records to see if organs had been kept without relatives' permission. They also alleged that in some cases they had been told to destroy evidence of identity. John Watkinson, chief executive of the King's Mill Centre
for Health Care Services, said that following post-mortem examinations the disposal of tissues as clinical waste was "normal practice"
Sunday Telegraph, 30 April 2000
Doctors leaving young disabled to die - Seriously disabled children and young people are being left to die because doctors have deemed there quality of life so poor that they do not merit being kept alive. Hospitals and care homes are increasingly placing secret DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders in their notes which effectively means they are "written off". In recent weeks, concern has grown about the withholding of treatment from the elderly. Now patients' groups are worried that a similar policy is being applied to the young disabled.
Mother demands inquiry into delays at son's death - Although 25-year-old Stephen Hill had spina bifida and was paralysed from the waist down, he was a keen football supporter who led an active life and attended college in Bedfordshire near his residential home. In 1995 he complained of neck pains and headaches and, when he became breathless, a nurse was called. She arrived 10 minutes later and felt a faint pulse but agreed, as she later admitted in an inquiry statement, that she did not resuscitate him for three minutes "because of his physical disabilities and the suddenness of his death". The nurse was cleared of negligence in an inquiry by Staffordshire Social Services but Stephen's mother, Ann Hill, is making an official complaint to the local authority ombudsman. She cannot discover if a Do Not Resuscitate notice was added to her son's notes because she has not been allowed access. Mrs Hill believes that her son could have been saved. She says: "Although Stephen had spina bifida he enjoyed life and went to college. He should not have been treated in this way. I believe vulnerable people are in danger." Mrs Hill, who lives at Cannock, Staffordshire, added: "We have conflicting statements from staff at the home and the two GPs who attended Stephen on the day of his death, which have never been resolved. The tactics at the hearing were to discredit Stephen, painting a picture of a poor individual whose life had hardly been worth living and to discredit us, our evidence and our knowledge of Stephen." Staffordshire Social Services says it cannot comment on the case.
Toni Hunt, 22, a mother of two, who suffered a brain stem stroke, had a DNR order put on her notes at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital. She recovered and although now confined to a wheelchair, leads an active life. She did not learn of the DNR notice until a decade later. She says: "I was very angry they had taken that decision. Although I was not able to speak at the time my parents would never have agreed not to resuscitate."
Daily Mail, 28 April 2000
Written off by doctors, the 100 elderly patients - Campaigners for the elderly have compiled a shocking dossier of 100 cases where doctors have failed to tell hospital patients that they have been deemed not worth trying to resuscitate. These cases, where 'Do not resuscitate' amounts to 'Do not treat' are believed by leading geriatric care expert, Professor Ebrahim, to be the tip of the iceburg. He went on to say that disrespect of the elderly was rife among hospital doctors. A spokesman for the charity Age Concern said "the Government must launch an immediate, independent public inquiry into the scandal ... given the growing body of evidence we are astonished that the Government is not doing anything to address these concerns". A Department of Health spokesman said "...the NHS is about saving and prolonging life...".
Guardian, 28 April 2000
Call to outlaw medical ageism - Doctors regularly issue "do not resuscitate" orders for patients without their or their families' knowledge, according to a professor of social medicine who is calling for ageism to be outlawed in the NHS. Professor Shah Ebrahim from Bristol University, who wrote in the British Medical Journal today, said there is evidence that doctors allow their prejudices to interfere in the decision as to who should be resuscitated after a cardiopulmonary arrest. He went on to say that there was evidence "suggesting that doctors have stereotypes of who is not worth saving". Older people are more likely to be the subject of a 'Do not resuscitate' order than younger people, and research in Europe shows that in over two-thirds of cases, patients and their families had not been consulted. Professor Ebrahim also hit out at the entrenched ageism in the NHS. "Medical students still rejoice in their stereotypes of 'geriatric crumble' and 'GOMER' (get out of my emergency room) patients... Eradicating ageism in the NHS will almost certainly require legislation."
Times, 22 April 2000
Relatives try to halt 'mercy killings' - A group of bereaved relatives claims that the Government has failed to uphold its statutory duty to protect vulnerable elderly patients from doctors who deliberately withhold intravenous fluids to hasten death. This practice, admitted by doctors and nurses to be widespread, is said to have received tacit approval in many hospitals in order to relieve pressure on NHS beds. The group's legal action will use the the Human Rights Act 1998 to challenge the BMA's guidelines allowing starvation and dehydration of certain groups of the elderly even when they are not terminally ill.
Sunday Times, 16 April 2000
Paramedic tells of hospital leaving pensioners to die - Ambulance paramedic, David Moore of Nottingham, has described how his team resuscitate and rush elderly patients to hospital, only to find that they are left to die on arrival, without even receiving a full medical assessment. His claim highlights growing concern that hospitals across the country are hastening the deaths of elderly patients by withdrawing food and fluids, mistreating them or leaving them untreated. "Doctors are just writing these people off. Often the patients are not even particularly old. You get people in their sixties and seventies being left on trolleys to die. We try our absolute hardest to revive these people, but when you get them to hospital they are greeted with indifference. It's terrible."
Independent, 16 April 2000
Fifty elderly on NHS dossier of death - Damning evidence that hospitals are routinely designating elderly patients as "not for resuscitation" without consent has emerged as a leading charity prepared to hand over a dossier to a government investigation. Age Concern said that the 50 "do not resuscitate" cases which were reported to them in the course of just two days were the "tip of an iceberg".
A spokesman for Age Concern said "Not for resuscitation" orders rarely become apparent because case notes are not easily available and the orders are often written in coded language known only to hospital staff."
A spokesman for the Department of Health said "We will not tolerate any discrimination on the grounds of age...".
Daily Mail, 14 April 2000
Fury over hospital OAP's left to die by doctors - The Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, has ordered an urgent inquiry into why hospitals are being allowed to 'write off' the lives of elderly patients. Milburn was said to be "appalled to discover" that doctors regularly put 'do not resuscitate' orders in patients' notes without their knowledge or consent. He branded the practice as "unacceptable" following the case of cancer sufferer Jill Baker, 67, whose secret 'do not resuscitate' order was written by a junior doctor who had not even examined her. Mrs Baker is now in remission and at home.
Campaigners claimed that 'do not resuscitate' orders were only one of a host of methods used by doctors to ensure the premature death of elderly patients who require costly, time-consuming treatment. Other methods include withdrawal of food and fluids and the use of lethal doses of painkillers such as diamorphine (heroin). Dr Michael Wilkes, chairman of the BMA's ethics committee, said "Doctors are not deliberately withdrawing care from elderly patients on the grounds of age or resources". Age Concern said, however, that they hear of several cases each month of elderly patients being written off this way because of a doctor's decision. Sam Ahmedzai, professor of palliative care at the University of Sheffield, said decisions about treatment are written in code so relatives cannot understand them.
There are currently five separate inquiries involving the police into involuntary euthanasia in hospitals.
House of Commons Hansard Written Answers, 3 Apr 2000
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will initiate an inquiry into age discrimination against elderly patients in the NHS. ( Speaker: Mr. Paul Marsden)
Mr. Hutton: Discrimination on the grounds of age within the National Health Service is completely unacceptable. Action is and will be taken to challenge and correct any such unfair practices. The task now is to get on with ensuring this delivers the improvements we intend, so that eliminating discrimination and promoting fair access are firmly embedded as mainstream business for the NHS.
The provision of first class care on the NHS is our priority and later this year we will be publishing the National Service Framework (NSF) for Older People. This, for the first time, will set national standards for the care of older people, driving up quality and reducing the variations. The NSF will include performance measures for monitoring progress. The development of the NSF has involved many groups, including service users and carers, and has included the issue of access to services.
We have no plans however to set up any inquiry. Equal opportunities and work against discrimination must be embedded in our total way of working, rather than being treated as a separate and one-off activity.
Sunday Times, 2 April 2000
Elderly are helped to die to clear beds, claims doctor - The callous treatment of the elderly in NHS hospitals has been exposed by a doctor who claims elderly patients are denied life-saving treatment, are grossly neglected and are given drugs which hasten death.
Rita Pal, a junior doctor, said: "I have witnessed doctors who want to keep beds clear by withdrawing treatment or actively assisting in death to the point where it becomes involuntary euthanasia." She also spoke of critically ill patients whose lives were cut short after being given unnecessary" doses of diamorphine.
In one case she was so convinced a dose of diamorphine she had been ordered to give would be fatal that she injected it into the patient's mattress. When another doctor saw that the patient was alive the next day, he said: "Oh, she is still alive - didn't you start her on diamorphine?" The patient, suffering from pneumonia, later recovered and left hospital.
In another case, a senior doctor ordered the medication to be withdrawn from an 89-year-old stroke victim who was critically ill and could not speak because he had a plastic tube down his throat. "This man was actually conscious and could hear us," said Pal. "The doctor said, 'We need the bed - stop all his medication'. He obviously didn't think he was going to live. I thought: we are killing someone because we want the beds. Pal disobeyed the doctor and gave the patient drugs to help him breathe. He was transferred to another unit, but later died.
Dr Michael Irwin, vice-chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, said: "My main concern is that diamorphine is being used without consulting patients or talking to relatives. "That is involuntary euthanasia and although we know it happens, we don't know the extent - there are probably thousands of cases each year."
Pal is now studying to be a barrister. "I have lost faith in medicine," she said. "There is a code of silence and it's the hardest thing to stand up and say something."
Sunday Times, 12 March 2000
Revealed: cruelty of staff in NHS hospitals - Shocking inhumanity, negligence and criminality are everyday features of the National Health Service, an undercover investigation at Whipps Cross and Colindale Hospitals has revealed. Members of the parliamentary all-party select committee on health expressed dismay at the revelations.
The physical condition of some patients and the lack of care was striking. One man on Bracken ward at Whipps Cross had fluid seeping from open sores on his lower leg. His toenails were gnarled and overgrown and clearly had not been clipped in months. On the same ward an elderly woman pleaded to be taken home. She had soiled herself, but her cries of "please clean me up" were ignored.
Another patient on Peace ward was confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak or communicate because of her condition, she had soiled herself. However, when nurses transferred her to a bedside chair, they made no effort to clean her and she was left in her own excrement for more than an hour.
It was clear that nurses struggled to cope in the face of severe staff shortages. But there was also a culture of neglect. Some had open contempt for their patients.
One old lady in Colindale complained of abusive treatment by nurses and said: "I've been here for weeks now and the treatment is terrible. But nobody knows what goes on here and I doubt people ever will. Who is there to hear us?"
Sunday Times, 12 March 2000
Editorial: Hospitals that sicken- Hospitals are stressful places at the best of times. Patients require constant attention and medical emergencies are part of the daily routine. Staff shortages and the growing demand for hospital beds have increased over the years and ministers face a recurring crisis. The latest figures show that nearly 1.2m people are waiting for what they hope will be the best possible treatment in a caring environment. Tragically, that can no longer be taken for granted, as the incidents witnessed by our reporter at two London hospitals show.
They point to an appalling degree of indifference and disregard for the basic rights of patients and confirm our worst fears about declining standards in the National Health Service. We are entitled to expect, however, that no hospital allows its standards of care to fall below an acceptable minimum, that patients are not humiliated and that staff do not exploit the vulnerability of those they are committed to serve. Once the culture of neglect takes over, the nightmare of abuse is not far behind.
The lack of respect for the elderly is especially worrying. More people than ever are living into their seventies and beyond in reasonably good health. But Britain's ageing population will inevitably add to the burden on the NHS and its geriatric services. The scene we report shows a shocking contempt that bodes ill.
The government has made great play of its determination to make the NHS fit for the world's fifth-largest economy. No amount of extra cash will achieve that without better hospital management, a caring staff and respect for patients.
The Times, 3 February
Casualty bosses ordered 'cover-up' - Hospitals rigged the results of a nation-wide survey of casualty waiting times by pressuring nurses to "hide" patients, according to the Royal College of Nursing.
Following an annual survey organised by the Association of Community Health Councils, the RCN had reports that many hospitals were covering up their problems. The RCN received phone calls from nurses in more than 18 casualty units complaining that they had been asked to move patients for the purposes of the inspection. "A couple of them were in tears, they were so distressed," Mrs Wilkinson said. "They have been struggling with long waits for patients for so long, but all of a sudden on Monday the senior management arrived to tell them they could not be made to look bad." Nurses, speaking in confidence, reported being forced to move patients to the wrong ward or rushing patients home, while one hospital opened an empty ward over the weekend to provide temporary relief to casualty.
Donna Covey, the director of the Association of Community Health Councils, said that she was very disappointed. "This is yet another example of the cover-up culture that exists in parts of the health service," she said.
Sunday Times, 19 December 1999
Blunders by doctors kill 40,000 a year - Medical error is the third most frequent cause of death in Britain after cancer and heart disease, killing up to 40,000 people a year - about four times more than die from all other types of accident. Provisional research figures on hospital mistakes show that a further 280,000 people suffer from non-fatal drug prescribing errors, overdoses and infections. The victims spend an average of six extra days recovering in hospital, at an annual cost of £730m in England alone.
The study shows that one in 14 patients suffers some kind of adverse event such as diagnostic error, operation mistake or drug reaction. Charles Vincent, head of the clinical risk unit at University College London, who is leading the study, has pioneered efforts to examine the extent of clinical errors in Britain. Vincent believes the death rate may be even higher than indicated by the preliminary figures " It is a substantial problem." In America, where there have been similar findings, it is likely that a new federal agency to protect patients from medical error will be set up.
Anne Rogers is the victim of one of these mistakes in Britain. Her husband Brian, a father of 10, bled to death after Christopher Ingoldby operated on him for stomach cancer. He is one of 11 patients whose deaths have been linked to treatment by Ingoldby. Pinderfields and Pontefract NHS Trust is investigating 40 other cases of alleged malpractice involving the surgeon, who has been suspended since January. But Rogers said last week: "There is no point in making an example of Ingoldby if they are going to allow another one like him to come and take his place."
Bill Twist, 42, from Essex, lost his wife Sue, 37, through misdiagnosis and delay in treating her malignant skin cancer. "If people are dealt with properly, thousands more could be cured, instead of spending vast sums on litigation and extra treatment for those who are terminally ill," he said.
Graham Neale, former professor of clinical medicine at Trinity College Dublin, who is a leading expert on medical risk management, said: "In Britain outside the weekday hours of nine to five, medical emergencies, which are often the most difficult things to treat, are left to the most junior doctors. "It is disgraceful that nothing has been done. There are far too many errors happening that are nothing to do with NHS understaffing. They are happening simply because we have not examined how to avoid them."
Every year in Britain 156,000 people die from cancer and 140,000 from heart disease. Somebody suffering a full cardiac arrest has a 30% chance of survival in the American city of Seattle - but only a 1%-3% chance in a British hospital. In a confidential inquiry's report into perioperative deaths published last month, doctors admitted that 20,747 British patients had died unexpectedly during operations or shortly after surgery. A study of junior doctors at 20 hospitals in the north of England revealed that 46% admitted they had given a wrong drug or the wrong dose at least once in the period under investigation.
Telegraph, 10 December 1999
Doctors angered by Tory's anti-euthanasia Bill - The row over allegations that elderly patients were left to die in NHS hospitals continued yesterday as Ann Winterton, the Tory MP, unveiled plans to introduce an all-party Private Member's Bill next month that would prevent doctors intentionally bringing about the death of patients, either by deliberate acts or their failure to take steps to keep people alive.
Mrs Wintertons Medical Treatment (Prevention of Euthanasia) Bill stands a good chance of making progress. However, her allegation that "euthanasia by another name" was being practised by some doctors infuriated the British Medical Association.
Mrs Winterton said the law had been undermined by guidance drawn up by the BMA this year on withholding and withdrawing life-prolonging treatment in special cases, such as patients in a persistent vegetative state. However, the BMA insisted that its guidance was intended to help doctors make compassionate decisions about treatment at the end of life, for patients with no prospect of recovery.
Telegraph, 6 December 1999
Elderly Patients 'left starving to death in NHS' - Elderly patients are dying because of an unspoken policy of "involuntary euthanasia" designed to relieve pressure on the National Health Service, said Dr AdrianTreloar, consultant and senior lecturer in geriatrics at Greenwich Hospital. Sir John Grimley Evans, professor of clinical geratology at Oxford University has written to the NHS pleading for more open data on age discrimination by health authorities. Evidence of pervading ageism is manifested in attitudes of staff, cases of neglect and allegations that elderly people are dying unnecessarily by being left untreated and uncared for in geriatric wards across the country. One member of a health authority in the north of England, who did not want to be named, said "If this is a decision which is being made by trusts about the way we treat the elderly and by doctors who have taken the Hippocratic Oath, then I cannot square that. It needs to be out in the open. If as a society this is what we want to happen and that is acceptable, then so be it. But let's not have it going on behind closed doors.
'People are just being written off by the system' - The testimony of powerless adults who have watched their parents die in hospital wards in pain, discomfort and without dignity is compelling evidence of age discrimination in the NHS. These shocking accounts could be dismissed as anecdote, or exceptional cases, were it not for the experiences reported by doctors. These are backed by research carried out by physicians and various relevant charities. Dr. MIke Pearson, spokesman of the British Thoracic Society, said "People are just being written off. There is a difference between a person's biological age and their chronological age. If you are young biologically, you will do just as well from intensive care whether you are 60 or 80".
They are the forgotten patients, treated as subhuman - Gillian Rooney describes the geriatric ward at the Thanet General Hospital in Margate, Kent, as a dumping ground. Her 89 year old father, Herbert Baker, had previously been treated on a medical ward and the contrast in the conditions between the two wards was immediate and stark. "When we arrived on the ward we were shocked by the conditions. The filth and air of neglect were truly awful. Mr Baker's call button was out of reach, and he was forced to lie in a cold, urine soaked bed, and Mrs Rooney believes these unhygienic conditions caused the severe infection which ultimately led to her father's death.
Sunday Times, 5 December 1999
Doctor 'forced' to take child organs - Dick Van Velzen, the pathologist at the centre of the row over the removal of organs from dead children has claimed that he was pressured into taking hundreds of hearts and lungs out to augment collections at Liverpool's Alder Hey hospital. "They had body parts that had been there for decades. I repeatedly expressed concerns about it, but they were brushed aside by the management." He went on to say "I knew it was ethically improper and I told them so. I told them they should get specific parental consent for what they were doing, but the hospital ethics committee decided that wasn't necessary ." Van Velzen has kept a 7in-high pile of documents detailing numerous requests to hospital managers for action to end the organ scandal. He insisted: "I will come to England with all my papers. I will meet any parents, face any inquiry or any court case."
Times, 4 December 1999
Organs 'outrage' triggers inquiry. Alan Milburn, the Health Secretary, ordered an inquiry yesterday into complaints from parents that Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool had removed and stored organs from their dead children without consent. The complaints concern the discovery in a laboratory store of 850 organs from dead babies and more than two thousand children's hearts removed during post-mortem examinations. Hospital management claim to be 'devastated' to learn that so many had been retained without the knowledge of the hospital, its doctors or parents. Solicitors acting for 80 of the families, said: "Our fundamental desire is to get to the truth. The parents want to know why and where their babies' organs have been stored, have they been tested, who was aware of this and has there been a cover-up?" Throughout the country, the practice is thought to have affected 11,000 families over the past 40 years.
Times, 23 November 1999
Children 'put at risk to protect health funding - Stephen Bolsin, the whistle-blower who exposed the Bristol heart babies scandal said yesterday that the hospital had sacrificed young children to protect its funding. He said that the infirmary had continued with high-risk cardiac surgery on babies under one year old "regardless of the cost to patients ... the view was that this was a train and the occasional passengers might fall off, but the train had to keep moving". He also said that he was threatened with losing his job by Dr Wisheart when he first raised his concerns in August 1990. Dr Bolsin's draft statement to the inquiry had suggested that the influence of Freemasonry within the Bristol health community had played a part in frustrating his inquiries, but that section had later been deleted from his final statement.
Woman's Hour, BBC Radio, 22 November
Co-Director of S.I.N.( Sufferers of Iatrogenic Neglect ), Mrs. Gillian Bean, took part in a discussion with Mr. Alan Bedford, Chief Executive of East Sussex, Brighton & Hove Health Authority on the subject of the present NHS Complaints Procedure. Mr. Bedford, who is on the Committee set up in January 1999 by the Secretary of State for Health to review the NHS Complaints System, seemed unaware of the inadequacies of the NHS Complaints System, despite the fact that Mr. Frank Dobson, former Secretary for Health, after oral evidence was heard at the Health Service Select Committee said publicly: "The present system of protecting patients is a bit of a shambles". For more details please read the open letter recently sent by SIN to Mr. Stephen Thornton, Chief Executive, Confederation of NHS
Times, 19 November 1999
Family to sue over fatal operation - A mother of two who died when a routine operation went wrong at the Kings Mill Centre in Sutton-inAshfield, Nottinghamshire which has been the subject of a number of allegations of poor standards of treatment in recent years. Mrs Herbert's husband and daughters said yesterday that they would sue for compensation after the coroner said he was satisfied that the cause of death was related to the original operation.
Times, 18 November 1999
Hospital staff shortages 'are killing the old' - The National Confidential Enquiry into Perioperative Deaths (Cepod) has found that elderly people are dying after operations because of hospital staff shortages, poor training, and dangerous negligence. A fifth of those who died were put at risk because emergency surgery was delayed by hospital mismanagement. Despite the vulnerability of the patients, they were mostly operated on by inexperienced doctors." An increasingly elderly population does require urgent improvement of skills in this area," said John Williams, chairman of Cepod "At present there is a grave shortage of trained staff who can provide the best care." The report focused on the 1,428 people aged over 90 who died within a month after operations last year, although Dr Williams said the same dangers were likely to apply to those over 70.
Times, 16 November 1999
Stressed doctors 'hate' their patients - Research at the University of Northumbria has found that stress causes two fifths of doctors to become aggressive or violent towards their patients, with 2 per cent admitting to killing someone through negligent care and 8 per cent to making "serious mistakes", although they did not lead to death. Doctors blamed the failings on the levels of pressure they faced in order to pay for the economies that they say have been made by the Government in the health service. Two thirds of doctors report using alcohol to cope with stress and one third of junior doctors suffered from serious stress-related disorders, such as depression or alcoholism.
Sunday Times, 7 November 1999
GPs caught in £80m 'ghost' patient fraud - some doctors' lists have up to 5% bogus patients (about 3 million nationally). Ghost patients can be created either when people move to other GPs' practices or die and their names are not removed, or by doctors who intentionally invent names.
This is just part of of the fraud and mismanagement that is costing the health service up to £2 billion a year, and diverting resources away from necessary treatments in hospitals. Other scams include:
Top hospital trust executives fraudulently awarding themselves extra salary and bonuses worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Hospital consultants claiming full or nearly full NHS salaries while much of their time is spent working in the private sector, some earning £1m a year on top of their NHS pay.
Doctors' leaders confirmed last week the problem of "inflated" GPs' lists, but the health department said last week that it could not comment on the problem because it had not yet "formally received" the report compiled by the Audit Commission.
Sunday Telegraph, 7 November 1999
Doctors will be sacked in NHS standards drive - Alan Milburn, the Health Secretary, will be setting doctors national standards, with regular inspections backed up by the threat of the sack for the first time in NHS history. Health authorities will get powers to suspend poor performers following scandals such as the deaths of the Bristol heart babies. The aim is to root out lazy doctors who fail to keep up with the latest treatments and good practices, and surgeons who are not proficient. [...but what about all the doctors who efficiently terminate elderly patients? RMG].
Observer, 24 October
Doctors 'blacklist' dissatisfied patients- NHS closes ranks against sick who dare to complain about their treatment. Patients are being blacklisted by doctors and sometimes struck off by their GPs for daring to complain about their treatment under the NHS. Many believe that it is pointless and perhaps even dangerous to use the medical complaints system, described by the former Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, as 'a shambles', because it is so heavily weighted against them. This is set to change when a forthcoming report from the Health Select Committee condemns the NHS complaints system and recommends reforms that would make the procedure independent, and seen to be so. 'It is certainly true that patients are blacklisted by consultants and GPs,' said David Hinchliffe, chairman of the Select Committee. Now a group of patients have formed a campaign group to fight back. They are called SIN: Sufferers of Iatrogenic Neglect. 'Iatrogenic means being damaged by medical intervention,' explains co-founder Gillian Bean. 'It is not snappy, but then neither is Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, and people know what that means.' SIN knows of 40 cases where patients claim they have suffered on two counts: through human error and because they have complained and now are blacklisted. 'There is a "not in my back yard" attitude because doctors are frightened of being brought in to a case that often involves very senior members of their specialist discipline,' alleged Bean.
Times, 24 October 1999
Women's breasts removed in cancer diagnosis error - A sample 2,000 out of 75,000 people originally tested for suspected cancerous growths revealed at least half a dozen women may have had breasts removed or been given toxic drug treatment after being wrongly diagnosed. A male patient appears to have undergone treatment for non-existent bowel cancer. The cases were discovered during a review of screening results made between 1990 and 1995 at the Kent and Canterbury hospital. Although it is at least six weeks since the cases were identified, none of the patients or families of those concerned has yet been contacted. The Royal College of Pathologists (RCP) was directed to review treatment of other forms of cancer at the hospital after the deaths of eight women from cervical cancer and emergency surgery on another 30 who had been wrongly told they did not have cervical cancer. Three pathologists who were working at the Kent and Canterbury hospital at the time are under investigation by the General Medical Council. Two have since retired.
Times, 21 October 1999
Records of 70 dead patients sought- Northallerton Community Health Council acted, following complaints of injury by over 100 former patients of consultant gynaecologist Richard Neale. Police are also investigating the deaths of three of Neale's patients following his departure from The Friarage Hospital, North Yorkshire, where he had worked for ten years until receiving a £100,000 pay-off. Neale had been struck off in Canada in the early 1980s after the death of a patient in his care. Last month he was suspended pending a GMC hearing.
Telegraph, 13 October 1999
Patients unhappy at handling of cases against GPs- The Consumers' Association found that most patients who complain about their doctors to the General Medical Council are dissatisfied, feel that they have been treated unfairly and feel the GMC acts more in the interests of doctors than patients.
Which? found that 82 per cent were dissatisfied with the process, 79 per cent with the way their complaint was handled, 77 per cent with the support they received and 63 per cent with the way they were kept informed. Patients usually complained about standards of care, rudeness and poor attitude among doctors, and found it unfair that they were not allowed to see the doctor's response to their complaint.
Charlotte Gann, editor of Health Which?, said
yesterday: "We are left asking the question whether self-regulation of the
medical profession is working in the interests of patients".
Complaints to the GMC have trebled since 1993 to 3,000 a year, but the GMC
rejected 88 per cent of all cases.
British Medical Journal, Editorial, 9
Stumbling into rationing - A national debate on values is needed to sustain the NHS. While some countries tackle a problem like the rationing of health care head on - admitting the problem at the highest level, analysing it, declaring their values, and beginning to work on a just, transparent solution - the British deny the problem and nibble at its edges. Surely we can do better. This government, like the last, avoids the word rationing, but it knows that not everything can be done for everybody. So it has constructed machinery with Orwellian names - health improvement plans and the National Centre for Clinical Excellence (NICE) - to do some of the inevitable job of denying access to effective interventions... If the government wants to sustain the NHS then it needs to engage the public... That engagement might also lead to more resources being put into the NHS.
Times, 30 September 1999
The bereaved daughter of a woman admitted to hospital with a leg ulcer wants her body to be exhumed after a leading expert concluded that she was the victim of involuntary euthanasia. Aged 86, Olwen Gibbings had been heavily dosed with a heroin-based painkiller that can hasten death, and her medical notes were marked "not for resuscitation". "We were told by an independent medical expert that she could have been treated, but no treatment was given. She was not terminally ill. She died from respiratory failure, the result of an opiate overdose. I want her body to be exhumed so hair-shaft tests can be carried out to determine the level of diamorphine in her." The medical expert who assessed the case for the police was a colleague of the doctor at the centre of the allegations; the Crown Prosecution Service then ruled that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute. Within hours of admission, Mrs Gibbings slipped into unconsciousness and was gasping for breath. Her death, on November 6, 1996, was analysed by Michael Irwin, vice-chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and chairman of Doctors for Assisted Dying, after her daughter, Olwyn Bowen, sent him the papers. Dr Irwin, who supports euthanasia by consent only, said: "I believe that involuntary euthanasia was performed on Mrs Gibbings. Involuntary euthanasia can be defined as ending someone's life who could consent but does not. Such an action is indistinguishable from criminal homicide. Cardiff Royal Infirmary issued a death certificate listing septicaemia as the principal cause of death. Mr Bowen said: "The only thing my mother-in-law was guilty of was being 86. She was written off."
Sunday Mirror, 26 September 1999
A couple who have spent 10 years and almost all their money fighting to find out the truth about their son's tragic death have finally won a review of the case. Detectives have re-opened inquiries and the new Welsh Assembly is under pressure to hold a full inquiry. A parliamentary committee already taking evidence has heard that doctors failed to carry out proper tests, or find out what was wrong, and later resorted to falsifying medical records. In a note to police in April, 1996, Prof Charles Brook of the Royal Free Hospital School for Medicine, said "proper diagnosis and treatment would have saved Robert's life at any time up to his terminal illness." For more information about the circumstances of Robert's death and the subsequent cover-up, please visit Robbie's Story
Guardian, 22 September 1999
Researchers at the Public Law Project heavily criticised the NHS complaints procedure, saying that there was a lack of impartiality, complainants did not get a fair hearing, and complaints against GPs disappeared into "a black hole".Researchers were most concerned over cases that raised serious questions about doctors' or nurses' performance, conduct or competence.
A copy of this Public Law Project report may be obtained by sending an A4 size envelope (stamps = £1.05p) to:
Public Law Project
University of London
London, WC1E 7HX
Times, 19 September 1999
Student nurses at Tolworth hospital in Surbiton, Surrey reported 30 cases of sadistic and inhumane treatment - eight staff have been suspended. Elderly patients had been taunted, left naked for long periods and one had been forced to eat scalding hot food. Similar allegations of cruelty, followed by suspensions, have occurred at St Ebba's hospital, Epsom, a few miles from Tolworth. Suspended staff blame staff shortages, hospital managers blame staff for not reporting problems.
Times, 2 September 1999
Police are investigating deaths of over 30 elderly patients at the Kingsway Hospital, Derby. Death by dehydration and starvation has been alleged. Death certificates failed to reveal true cause of death, and case only came to light after nurses reported senior colleagues to police.
BMA 16 Jan 1999
Police and health officials are investigating at least 50 deaths of patients around England amid accusations that the deaths were hastened by denying the patients intravenous fluids.
The inquiries centre on hospitals in Derby, Surrey, Kent, and Sussex. Most of the inquiries are looking into individual cases, but the Derby investigation is probing the deaths of 40 patients with dementia on a psychogeriatric ward at the Kingsway Hospital between 1993 and 1997. In a number of cases patients were allegedly sedated while denied hydration.
A former nurse triggered the investigation in Derby. Three nurses have been suspended since the start of the inquiry in November 1997. No charges have yet been laid, but staff could face charges of manslaughter by criminal neglect. Papers are expected to go to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in the spring. A CPS spokeswoman said: "We have given advice to the police on legal issues."
Charges could also follow the death of an 81 year old woman in a Surrey hospital. Her relatives claim she was relatively healthy but died as a result of dehydration.
Doctor and Hospital Doctor, 7 January 1999
Patients are suffering and some have died as a result of rationing and being denied hospital care in the NHS, doctors have claimed. Of 3,000 doctors surveyed, 20% know patients who have suffered harm and over 5% know of patients who had died as a result of rationing. Ministers claim rationing is not necessary in the NHS but doctors claim rationing is inevitable.
Sunday Telegraph, 6 July 1997
A Doctor's Right to Lie - In an astonishing Judgement last week, the Appeal Court ruled that the medical profession has no duty to tell the truth to parents of sick children who die. The Judgement referred to the case of Robbie Powell, a ten-year-old child, who died in 1990, from a treatable condition, called Addison's disease. The Judgement was based on the assumption that the Powells' pleaded case would have been proven i.e. that the doctors' negligence had caused Robert's death; that the doctors falsified medical records after death and lied in response to a formal complaint and that these actions had in turn caused Robert's parents psychological damage. Ironically, the doctors were funded by the Medical Protection Society and the Medical Defence Union who both purport publicly to advise doctors to apologise when something goes wrong and claim that patients are entitled to a full and candid explanation of events. In response to the Judgement, Dr Brian Goss of the British Medical Association [BMA] stated, "GPs could now put a gloss on the cause of death without fear of litigation". For more information about the circumstances of Robert's death and the subsequent cover-up, please visit Robbie's Story. Robert's father, Will Powell, comments on the implications of this judgement at http://www.patientprotect.org/Powell.html
House of Commons Health Select Committee and Legislation
The Committee heard evidence on Elder Abuse in January 2004. The uncorrected minutes include evidence from CHI on elder abuse within the NHS.
The Committee sat during the summer of 1999 and considered the subject of Procedures related to Adverse Clinical Incidents and Outcomes in Medical Care (ie Complaints). Minutes of these meetings are available online at the following address:
A response by the Department of Health to the Report of the Health Select Committee (1998-99 session) on Procedures Related to Adverse Clinical Incidents and Outcomes in Medical Care was published sometime in April 2000. No fanfare, and it was not easy to find (surprise surprise).
SIN have written a critique of the NHS Complaints Procedure entitled " The Emperor Has No Clothes" which can be found on the Bristol Inquiry website at: http://www.bristol-inquiry.org.uk/brisphase2_Responses.htm.
Will Powell, of the Bereaved Parents Group, has prepared a press release covering self regulation and its problems, and issued a press release concerning the DOH response
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998
The most far-reaching whistleblower protection law in the world is now on the statute book. For information on how this new law offers protection to Whistleblowers, please see an extract from the resource pack produced by Public Concern at Work, which includes a summary of the Act. Public Concern at Work are an independent charity and leading authority on public interest whistleblowing and was closely involved in setting the scope and detail of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. The Act is still regarded by many, however, as being unacceptably weak. Please check the website at Freedom to Care for further details.
The listing of events and meetings maintained by the King's Fund is excellent, and is at the following address:
If there are any other events you would like to announce, please let me know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will include them here.
Several newspapers are archived and accessible through the web. Registration is sometimes required, but this is usually free, and needs to be done the first time you visit. There is a lot of variation in what can be done. For example, the Times allows you to retrieve back issues by date (so you have to know the date of the piece you are looking for); the Telegraph allows you to search its database for key words. I have found the following addresses useful - if you know of any more, please let me know:
descriptions of other organisations, and Links.
Listed here are organisations you are likely to come across. They range from the excellent to the completely useless.
Action on Elder Abuse
APROP (Action for the Proper Regulation of Private Hospitals)
AVMA (Action for Victims of Medical Accidents)
Bereaved Parents Group
British Geriatrics Society
British Medical Association
Campaign Against Hysterectomy and Unnecessary Operations on Women
Constructive Dialogue for Clinical Accountability
Cheshire Age Concern Advocacy Project
CROP (Citizens' Rights for Older People)
David Glass Home Page
First Do No Harm
Freedom to Care
General Medical Council
Health Service Commissioner, (The Ombudsman)
Help the Aged
The Informed Parent (support/info for vaccination)
Ledward Victims Group
Medical Ethics Alliance
NHS Codes of Practice
Patient Information Leaflets
Public Concern at Work
Self Help UK
SIN (Sufferers of Iatrogenic Neglect)
UKCC (... for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting)
VES (Voluntary Euthanasia Society)
1286 London Road
London, SW16 4ER
Tel: 0181 6792628
Fax: 0181 6794074
0808 8088141 (response line 10.00h -16.30h, weekdays)
Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) exists to raise awareness of elder abuse by promoting research, collecting and disseminating information and encouraging widespread education about the prevention of harm to older. We run a confidential helpline, Elder Abuse Response, which provides information and emotional support for those involved when an older person is abused. Anyone can telephone 0808 8088141 each weekday between 10am and 4.30pm. There is a response in English, Welsh, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.
We define elder abuse as: A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.
Age Concern (The National Council on Ageing, Age
1268 London Road
London, SW16 4ER
Tel: 0181 6798000
Fax: 0181 6796069
The ALERT Carers' Group
27 Walpole Street
London SW3 4QS
Tel: 0171 7302800
Fax: 0171 7300710
The ALERT Carers' Group was started by six women who are or have been carers for family members with a long term illness or disability, and who believe it is inhumane to end patients' lives by starvation and dehydration. Members of the group met in hospitals with their relatives, or came together through ALERT, which is opposed to any actions which are intended to end the lives of patients. They are campaigning for a new law to protect patients who cannot speak for themselves, and to prevent families being put under pressure to agree to withdrawal of food and fluids for financial reasons.
APROP (Action for the Proper Regulation of Private Hospitals)
PO Box 418
Surrey, KT13 0FJ
APROP is a campaigning group. Dissatisfied patients and relatives should contact APROP at the above address. A website on private hospitals is planned.
AVMA (Action for Victims of Medical Accidents)
Action for Victims of Medical Accidents (registered charity 299123)
44 High Street
Phone: 020 8686 8333
c/o Chris and Lyn Askew
202A Prospect Road
Essex IG8 7NG
Tel: 0181 5050117
Marilyn Haslewood and Geoffrey
Nichol Tel: 0132 2410006
Tel: 0191 4880540
9 Bullfinch Drive Email: email@example.com
Art and Vicky McConnell Tel:
51 East St. Helen Street
"A doctor has no legal duty under the law to tell parents the truth when a child dies".
This group was set up in 1997 when bereaved parents amalgamated to campaign for accountability within the health service. Our aim is to obtain changes in the NHS Complaints System which ensure that when a child dies as a result of neglect or of negligent action there will be a mechanism which ensures a full and independent enquiry.
British Geriatrics Society
1 St Andrews Place
London, NW1 4LB
Tel: 0171 9354004
Fax: 0171 2240454
Campaign Against Hysterectomy and Unnecessary Operations on Women
c/o Sandra Simkin
Tel: 01483 715435
Fax: 01483 722446
The Campaign was founded in 1995 to focus attention on unnecessary hysterectomies, caesarean sections and breast surgery performed on women in this country, and with the aim of achieving a Women's Medical Protection Act in Parliament to protect women's sexual organs from unnecessary removal.
We believe that the medical profession is out
of control and has hidden behind 'clinical judgement' for years to prevent the
outright abuse which has been the standard of treatment. Women are literally
being robbed of their wombs and ovaries for no reason at all, unless simply to
justify the funding and existence of doctors. Ninety percent too many
hysterectomies are being performed in the UK - this his based on a scientific
assessment of a New York gynaecologist, who has been camapigning against the
of hysterectomy in the USA for 30 years.
The National Childbirth Trust and AIMS (Action for the Improvement of Maternity Services) has been campaigning for years against the high and unnecessary incidence of caesaren sections in the UK. Breast surgery, and full mastectomies for breast cancer instead of lumpectomies, is now a bugeoning business too. Genetic counselling is at the forefromnt of this.
all of these procedures women are being frightened into having major surgery on
a 'what if' basis. The vast majority of these women are not ill in the true
sense of the word - they are simply suffering the temporary effects of hormonal
imbalance. Unfortunately there is no such thing as INFORMED CONSENT in
this country. Doctors tell you lies and give you false statistics in
order to encourage you to accept their desired course for you. Many of the operations are procured to provided training opportunities for junior doctors - the President of the RCOG admitted as much to me at a private meeting.
18A Victoria Park Square
London E2 9PB
020 8880 6088
Fax: 020 8880 6089
Charter88 supports no political party. It is an independent organisation that has over 80,000 supporters that believe there is a better way to run this country. Charter88 believes that people should have as much say as possible about how they are governed and the choices made for them.
Constructive Dialogue for Clinical Accountability
54 Alma Road
Tel: 0117 9732925
Fax: 0117 9149025
CDCA has arisen out of the four years constructive research and investigation undertaken into the state of paediatric cardiac surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the Bristol Royal Hospital for Sick Children pre 1995.
CDCA has been set up as a national lobbying group.
Its aims are simple and straightforward as follows:-
1) To lobby for an independent medical
2) To debate the use of clinical audit as a tool of patient safety and clinical excellence
3) To call for a review of the clinical complaints procedure of the NHS
So far CDCA has attracted world-wide interest from both doctors and patient groups. It was clear that the situation In Bristol was not unique. Doctors have had clinical freedom to act as they please without regard for patient safety and without fear of being made accountable for their clinical decisions. Bristol has been an avoidable tragedy. It is littered with tragic stories of incompetent diagnosis, surgery and post-operative care.
Hundreds of families have seen their children suffer and die or sustain serious brain damage. The cost in human terms to these families is incalculable. The cost to the state in terms of unresolved grief, benefit payments, sick benefit and drugs administration is not known. In the wake of Bristol there has been an onslaught of other tragedies. The Rodney Ledward gynaecological disaster, the Harold Shipman murders, the Canterbury and Kent smear scandal, the CNEP trial on premature babies, to name but a few. In all of these cases patients lives have been destroyed .
What will it take to make the NHS accountable and open? How many more patients must suffer Incompetent medical intervention before the medical profession imposes on itself an independent statutory body designed to pick up doctors mistakes and deal with them efficiently to ensure the safety of the next patient? When a patient goes into hospital three basic questions need to be asked. Does this patient require medical intervention? Has the medical intervention resulted in patient benefit? Has the medical intervention made the patient worse?
At the GMC Inquiry Sir Donald Irvine asked Dr Stephen Bolsin how could they ensure that another Bristol didn't happen. Dr Bolsin replied with the words "Never lose sight of the patient". I believe that today's NHS has corporately lost sight of the patient, and thus it has lost sight of its own humanity.
What is the way forward?
There must be constructive ways forward to ensure patient benefit which at the same time reflects clinical excellence.
Clinical audit could be a powerful tool of change within the medical profession if it is used to keep sight of the patient. Conversely it can be used as a tool that appears to inspect standards of clinical care but in fact hides mistakes through statistical analysis, and is designed to do so in order to protect the status quo.
The wounds and scars, inflicted on the medical profession by its own members involved in these various tragedies, need time to heal. But how do we keep sight of the patient whilst this healing of the medical profession is taking place?
How do doctors learn to respect the patients they are dealing with when they are trained to intellectualise the condition or the disease and isolate it from the real person sitting in front of them?
I think doctors today need to be trained to engage with their own humanity and that of the patient. Positive change will only come about if the medical profession chooses to change its own unthinking patterns of behaviour and to step back and reflect. The age of paternalism is over, the age of partnership based on respect and equality is ready to take its place.
If you wish to contribute ideas to CDCA which would help the organisation to engender change based on patient benefit I would be only too happy to hear from you.
Cheshire Age Concern Advocacy Project
CROP (Citizens' Rights for Older People)
Ground Floor, East Wing
Kent ME18 5BZ
Tel: 01622 812228
Citizens' Rights for Older People, better known as CROP, is a free confidential advisory service for older people in the Mid Kent Health Area. We help older people to challenge decisions they do not agree with which have been bade on their behalf. We enable older people to make informed choices by seeking out all the options and presenting them to the client. The client is then able to decide on key decisions or issues that affect their lives.
Jan Price, Project Co-ordinator.
David Glass Home Page
Fax: 01483 740100
This site documents a mother's ongoing struggle with doctors who believe that her son should be killed with diamorphine.
It is a year ago that Carol Glass and members of her family took positive action to resuscitate her son David following the decision of the doctors and chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust to administer diamorphine to David against his mother's wishes and without the sanction of the court. Although not terminally ill the doctors said it would be in David's 'best interests to allow him to die.........' .
As a result of the family's actions in saving David, the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust sought an injunction against them which bars them from being on hospital premises except in the case of individual emergency treatment. They are not allowed to visit any relatives or friends who may be treated at the Trusts hospitals. Carol can visit David only (if he is ever taken there again). David's sisters can only visit David but no more than two of the very immediate family can be present at any time.
First Do No Harm - Doctors Who Respect Human Life
P.O. Box 17317,
London, SW3 4WJ
Tel: +44 (020) 7730 3059
Fax: +44 (020) 7730 0818
'FIRST DO NO HARM' is a doctors' action group, formed to oppose the current campaign for euthanasia and to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the World Medical Association's"Declaration of Geneva" of 1948, the reformulation of theHippocratic Oath. In this a doctor promises:
"The health and life of my patient will be my first consideration."
Freedom to Care - Liberating the Professional Conscience
Promotes the expression of social conscience
in the workplace, public accountability, ethics at work and supports
whistleblowers and whistleblowing.
Provides free information on professional ethics, bullying at work, corporate responsibility, social and ethical accounting and auditing - especially in health care, nursing, social work, police, financial services, education, science and environment.
PO Box 125
Fax: 020 8224 1022
General Medical Council
178 Great Portland Street
Tel: 0171 5807642
Fax: 0171 9153641
(Office of the ) Health Service Commissioner for England, (The Ombudsman)
London, SW1P 4QP
Tel: 0171 217
Fax: 0171 2174000
Box BM HealthWatch
London WC1N 3XX
Tel/Fax: 020 8789 7813
Help the Aged
St James's Walk
London, EC1R 0BE
Tel: 0171 2530253
Fax: 0171 4903463
The Informed Parent
PO Box 870
Tel/Fax: 0181 8611022
Shouldn't the after-effects of childhood vaccination be discussed before?
It'd make sense wouldn't it? Yet sadly, there's a lot that parents aren't told.
For instance, you might think that it was vaccination that eradicated many of the ailments, like whooping cough and measles, that used to plague us in the early years of this century. However, it's an established fact that improvements in nutrition, housing and public sanitation were chiefly responsible for bringing these diseases under control.
You might think, that apart from a few tragic cases, side effects from vaccinations are minor and short lived. Again, this isn't the case. A growing number of health professionals now believe that vaccination could be linked to a host of maladies including cot deaths, leukaemia, debilitating neurological illnesses and a drastic weakening of a child's immune system.
You probably think that the one person you feel you can trust in this debate is your family doctor. While no one is suggesting that he or she would deliberately mislead you over vaccinations, doctors are under a lot of pressure to toe the official line. History has shown that the medical establishment is far from immune to making mistakes. Yet doctors who raise doubts about the effects of vaccination face official censure, or worse, from their professional bodies.
Then there's the money. Doctors who achieve between 70% and 90% take-up rate for vaccinations qualify for a financial bonus. Below that and they get nothing. Of course, big drug companies have an even bigger interest in vaccination. They make millions of pounds a year from it.
Vaccination, in short, is big business.
At The Informed Parent we think you are entitled to the independent information that will help you to make up your own mind, and that vaccination should be no one's business but you own.
Please contact The Informed Parent for more information or details about becoming a member.
Alexandra National House
330 Seven Sisters Road
London, N4 2PJ
Tel: 0181 8027430
Fax: 0181 8027450
The King's Fund
11-13 Cavendish Square
London W1M 0AN
Tel: 0171 3072400
Fax: 0171 3072801
The King's Fund is an independent health charity whose goal is to support the health and health care of the people of London. It aims to achieve this by influencing health policy and stimulating good practice in service provision. Its work is based on evidence of need and a commitment to the values of social justice and public service. It is independent of Government and all other political or special interest groups.
The King's Fund has a wide remit in the health and social care field. Although its primary concern is London, this is not viewed in isolation. The King's Fund works across the UK and internationally to tackle problems, promote mutual learning and disseminate new ideas. Its activities include grant-giving, policy research, service development and audit programmes, and information and education services for people working in and with the health service.
For more information about any of the
activities of the King's Fund, please
call Andrew Bell on 0171 3072585, or e-mail at A.Bell@kingsfund.org.uk
The King's Fund website has a large list of
related organisations at
Ledward Victims Group
c/o Mrs Janet St Pier
85 Church Meadows
Kent, CT14 9QZ
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The Ledward Victims Group is hoping to
achieve the following:
The Oaks Business Village
Our aim is -
To support all patients and to work with you
to reduce medical accidents through
information sharing and education
Support is a
We want to help you, but we need you to help us with
information, and pinpointing our priorities
We believe that all patients have the right to:
Be listened to
Have a say in their own treatment
Be kept informed of all options
Be treated by healthy, competent medical personnel
Be treated in hygienic conditions
Be treated in well-managed organisations
We are a patient-led
group; we apply business-accepted processes, standards and solutions
to medical concerns
Our approach is caring and supportive. Our aim is to fund our services to patients at minimal
/ no cost to the patient
We have been successful in business through our approach, and wish to help others have a
better quality of life
This initiative was launched by Yolande Lindridge; her intervention and approach to medical
issues affecting her and her family led to:
Her son having the best quality of life available to him
Containing her own breast cancer over 7 years without the intervention of drugs
Improving dramatically her osteo-arthritis over 11 years without the intervention of
drugs / surgery
Her mother having a better quality death than that which was on offer to her
Saving her own life in hospital
She must be doing something right!
WE WANT TO USE OUR EXPERIENCE AND APPROACH TO HELP YOU.
WE NEED YOU TO TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES, GOOD AND BAD.
Please feel free to E-mail us if you have any
queries or if you would like further
All information received will be dealt with
Together reducing the risks for patients
Copyright (c) IFBQ, 2000
Medical Ethics Alliance
Fax : +44 1902 340100
Medical Ethics Alliance is a non-profit
making organisation and has been established to promote pro-life policies
http://www.medneg.com/, is subscriber based and the annual fee is £120 plus vat (£141). Our case database, and all other data bases as described below are only available to subscribers.
Established in 1998, is now used by most clinical negligence practitioners, including the NHS Litigation Authority, who enjoy the following unique benefits:
· a Confidential Index of over 1,000 experts under specialities who have testified in open court with relevant judicial comment - updated monthly;
· fast law reports, based on official transcripts, with full analytical headnotes, tables of cases and indexes prepared by experienced members of the Bar.
· authorities considered, applied, distinguished, overruled and otherwise judicially considered;
· indexes of over 1,200 practising lawyers with direct links to reported cases in which they have appeared - and the results;
46 Great Stone Road
Birmingham, B31 2LS
Tel: 0121 476 6583
The number of cases of MRSA is likely to rise to more than 100,000 over the next 12 months. To date, around 7,000 patients have contracted MRSA each year in hospital and 5,000 die each year as a direct cause.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Formed to provide practical and moral support to all involved.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Most patients don't know that they have been infected and then when informed don't know what to do!
Members of MRSA SUPPORT have published a booklet aimed
at helping hospital patients and visitors to defend themselves from picking up
the MRSA bug. Compiled by their chairman Tony Field, the booklet entitled
"MRSA - A PATIENT'S DEFENCE!" outlines practical steps which can be
taken to help prevent the spread of the deadly infection.
booklets cost £1.00 (including postage).
To join the group; the annual subscription is £7.50 (this includes the booklet and 10 newsletters).
Please make cheques payable to MRSA SUPPORT (Please remember to include your name and address. Thank you.)
For further information and assistance, please contact :
Racial Equality 2000,
P.O. Box 8553,
(Mobile): 07788 944 982
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The truth behind the white coat - a campaign for individual rights within the NHS.
Extract from the website: To experience the working environment of the NHS today means having to compromise on the ideal healthcare and to throw away personal altruistic beliefs about human life. Financial constraints hits the workforce on every side. The nursing staff are the main casualties of the NHS today - bed crisis means nurse crisis.
Nursing workload is far greater during shifts oncall - having to do the work of three individuals on a shift because of cutbacks. No replacements for long term absent or retired staff ; no incentives and paid badly for the high standard of work that is required for every patient. Excessive work schedules unfit for any person by European working standards.
As a junior doctor I was forced to work extra hours without extra pay or gratitude; ordered by management to clerk additional patients that had been on waiting lists for many years (without contractual job obligations) ; forced to watch treatment being withdrawn on the elderly because "we are short of beds" and having to stay silent for fear that your career maybe ruined. I have worked under conditions where there were no intravenous lines available to provide basic fluids , no drip sets on the wards , an inadequate number of nursing staff ratio so that daily observations could not be done and patients left to die.
This Website Is One Individual's Attempt To At Last Tell The Truth About The "Real NHS" And The "Silent Pressure" That Exists Within The Service Which Prevents People From Revealing The Facts About Today's NHS.
My Name Is Ian Perkin And I Told The Truth About The Fiddling Of Cancelled Operations At St George's Hospital In October 2001 And About The Dire Financial Situation Of That Same Hospital Trust To The External Auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers In July 2002. As A Result, On The 29th July 2002, I Was Asked By The Chief Executive To Resign From My Post As St George's Finance Director.
NHS Code of Practice on 'Openness in the NHS'
This NHS Executive website outlines the Codes of Practice and provides information on what information NHS Trusts are obliged to provide.
Patient Information Leaflets
has a huge self help database
(choose text only version if you have problems accessing the self help database)
This is a UK website, aiming to help non-medical people find information about health issues primarily from UK sources. Health professionals may also find the information useful. Many useful organisations listed here.
Public Concern at Work
16 Baldwins Gardens
LONDON EC1N 7RJ
0171 404 6609
Fax: 0171 404 6576
Concern at Work promotes accountability and good practice in
the workplace. We do this by helping ensure concerns about serious
malpractice are properly raised and addressed before the public interest
is harmed. Recognised by the UK government and others as the leading
organisation in this field, we are a completely independent charity.
Self Help UK
Self Help UK provides a searchable database of over 1,000 self help organisations and support groups across the UK that offer support, guidance and advice to patients, carers and their relatives
SIN (Sufferers of Iatrogenic Neglect)
SUFFERERS of IATROGENIC NEGLECT
Iatrogenic = Medically Induced Damage
For information please contact either Co-Director:
Tel/Fax: 0115 9431320
Tel/Fax: 0192 4407195
is a pressure and support group for victims of poor medical care and their
relatives who wish to improve standards in the NHS.
UKCC (United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting)
23 Portland Place
London, W1N 4JT
Fax: 0171 4362924
Prince of Wales Terrace
London W8 5PG
0171 937 7770
Fax: 0171 376 2648
The Voluntary Euthanasia Society campaigns for wider choice at the end of life. As well as our political campaign to legalise assisted dying, we also supply living will forms for the advance refusal of medical treatment.
Books and other publications.
(Most recent first)
· Don't Tell The Patient - Behind the Drug Safety Net
· Death by HMO: The Jennifer Gigliello Story
· Dark Cures: Have Doctors Lost Their Ethics?
· Problem Doctors: A Conspiracy of Silence.
· Who cares about the health victim?
· "Trust me - I'm a Doctor" Understanding and Surviving Modern Health Care
· Whistleblowing in the Health Service.
· Setting Limits. Medical Goals in an Aging Society.
· Whose Standards? Consumer... Standards in Health Care.
BACK TO CONTENTS
Title: Don't Tell The Patient - Behind the Drug Safety Net.
Author: Bill Inman
Publisher: Highland Park Productions
Extract from sleeve notes:
A controversial account by an 'insider' who has been involved with drug development for more than forty years. It is a book for patients (most of us) though some doctors may get the message.
climax of the story is Bill Inman's ten-year campaign against the exploitation
of patients' trust in doctors who are bribed by drug companies to take part in
'safety assessment' studies which are nothing more than promotional
exercises. Thousands of patients continue to have their drugs changed
unnecessarily without their informed consent. The Department of Health
condones this practice because of its commitment to support the drug industry
Title: Death by HMO: The Jennifer Gigliello Story
Author: Dorothy Cancilla
Publisher: Dedicated Press
(HMOs are the american equivalent of NHS Trusts in the UK)
Extract of review by Kismet Oz:
Perhaps there is no greater regret than when you choose one direction over another, then at the end of a long and difficult journey you realize you've made the wrong decision and paid the ultimate price. This is precisely what happened to Jennifer Gigliello and her family, when Jennifer was only twenty-two years old and experienced medical problems during her pregnancy. She relied on a medical system that was supposed to deliver appropriate care and have the right answers, but instead caused her to become chronically ill and then abandoned her because she was no longer cost effective. In Death by HMO: The Jennifer Gigliello Story, a powerful story is shared which serves as a lesson to all who read it. Unfortunately, this story could happen to anyone or their loved ones.
Death by HMO was not written for vindication. The author, Dorothy Cancilla (Jennifer's mother), writes with strong conviction that their family story should never have to be repeated. She advises readers to take full responsibility for their own care and for the care of loved ones at a time when it is more profitable for HMOs to allow chronically ill patients to die rather than to care for them properly.
The full review is available at: http://www.deathbyhmo.com/KismetOz.html
is also a Death by HMO web site at:
Death by HMO is available in hardcover for US$24.45 (includes shipping & handling. Order from: Dedicated Press, Box 1638, Pacifica, CA 94044.
For more information about Death by HMO, or to schedule an interview with Mrs Cancilla, the Email address is: mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Cathy Thornsberry at + 1 650 7383697.
Orders may be placed at http://www.deathbyhmo.com/orderform.html
Title: Dark Cures: Have Doctors Lost Their Ethics?
Author: Paul deParrie
Cures deals, from a Christian viewpoint, with the deterioration of the value of
human life within the medical community -- and how that deterioration can
affect you and your loved ones. In fact, the most dangerous place you can be is
in a hospital at a time when you are "non-responsive", comatose or
deeply unconscious. The information in Dark Cures will help you to prevent you
or your loved ones from being "non-treated" to death by the doctors
whose ethics have been subverted by a "cost/benefit" paradigm.
Title: Problem Doctors: A Conspiracy of Silence
Authors: P Lens, G van der Wal.
Publisher: IOS Press
ISBN 90 5199 287 4
About understanding problem doctors and helping the profession find better ways to help them and protect the public, the patients. How can we select better doctors in the future. And if everything fails, is outplacement possible?
Hardback: 284 pages - Price: £45.
+ 31 20 6382189
Fax: + 31 20 6203419
Title: Trust me (I'm a doctor).
Author: Dr Phil Hammond
Publisher: Metro Books
ISBN: 1 900512 60 0
Remaining Constructively Sceptical
Phil Hammond is unashamedly open about his profession. He provides a rare
insight into the dark side of medical culture and training. As patients we can
sometimes experience an overwhelming pressure to keep quiet and hand over our
health care lock, stock and barrel to the doctor sitting in front of us.
Doctors may want to do their best for every patient they meet, but in this book
Hammond reveals to us a real human tapestry against which failure and mistakes
occur routinely and unsurprisingly given the historical background, culture and
initiation rites of medical students. It is a sad tale and it needs changing
not only for the well being of patients but for the well being of doctors too.
His message is like a clarion call to the public. Inform yourselves, remain
constructively sceptical, and take responsibility for your health care. Above
all do not be afraid to ask questions. If you don't know which questions to ask
Dr Hammond has thoughtfully provided a list for you. There is also a message to
the Royal Colleges. Open your eyes and end your culture of cover up and
secrecy. Regulate your profession prospectively, be accountable for your
mistakes. Patients do not expect you to be GOD, they expect you to give them
clear, real answers to the difficult questions they ask, so they can make informed
choices which maintain their self-respect and dignity. Next time you are
in a hospital as a patient make sure you have access to this book. It will act as a powerful advocate of your well-being and give you a measure of autonomy.
Title: Who cares about the health victim?
Author: John Elder
Publisher: Klaxon Books
ISBN: 0 9534604 0 1
Book release information:
An uncomplicated, comparative 'inside' into health service complaints procedures, compensation schemes, patients' rights and disciplinary mechanisms in the developed world, with a critical yet objective focus on the UK systems.
Published in December 1998, this book is the first and only publication - and that includes the press and broadcasting as well - to disclose the undiluted facts about the NHS Complaints Procedure and how it works in practice, and describes the complaints mechanisms in another ten advanced countries. Equally unique, is the detailed information provided about patients' rights policies, compensation mechanisms and medical disciplinary practices, not only in the UK but also in these other developed societies.
The emerging picture is intensely revealing and suggests that our citizens are missing out in justice in these areas concerning health care compared with some nations. Exposed is the congenital flaw of internal investigation and self regulation regarding the complaints process and medical disciplinary bodies, respectively, and the immensely difficult route for compensation claims in Britain.
What is more, Who cares about the health victim? is the result of the first independent research into the subject of health complaints and associated health issues. Its publication has been especially timely, coming at a point when focus on these aspects relating to the health service has been particularly acute, to the extent that the Government is presently looking at the question as a matter of some urgency.
The book takes an uncomplicated look at the 'big picture', the detailed procedures as they currently stand, why they are in need of vital change and where significant lessons can be learned from the advances made in other developed societies.
Who cares about the health victim? and its author featured in the series of broadcasts by BBC Radio 4's 'You and Yours' programme earlier this year which focussed on the NHS Complaints Procedure, medical negligence and connected areas. The revelations in the book were introduced strongly in this latest Radio 4 review of these issues concerning the health service. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that this unique book is already successful and in circulation throughout United Kingdom, and has also reached many destinations abroad.
ESSENTIAL READING FOR THE PUBLIC, HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS AND PRACTITIONERS, PATIENTS' GROUPS, LEGAL PROFESSIONALS, AND A MUST FOR REFERENCE AND COMMUNITY LIBRARIES.
To Order: Send GBP6.95 (+ GBP1.50 if overseas) to:
PO Box 24,
Chepstow, NP16 6XS,
Title: Medical Litigation
Editors: Geoffrey Hall and Charles Lewis
"A concise and comprehensive review of medical negligence cases and issues, with practical analysis and comment"
Annual subscription: £75
Tel: 01494 772275
Fax: 01494 793098
P O Box 269,
Chesham, HP5 2GA
Also, for £120 (+ VAT) annually, you can have access to their databases which include full text law reports with headnotes and unlimited downloads. Good for finding solicitors, experts and what your local hospital has been getting up to. Check out the site free (minus the full text bits) at http://www.medneg.com
Title: Regulating Medical Work
Author: Judith Allsop and Linda Mulcahy
Publisher: Open University Press
ISBN: 0 335 19404 4
This book examines the formal and informal regulation of medical work in the British health service. It asks what regulation is for, what systems of rules control medical work and how they are used in practice.
"Trust me, I'm a Doctor" Understanding and Surviving Modern Health Care
Author: Thomas L Minogue
Publisher: Medical Communications
Like other caregivers, physicians enter into a collective and unconscious pact with society. Doctors want the power and prestige of their elite profession, laying claim with some validity to a task that they propose only their select members can perform. Society wants care which will be virtually perfect, yet not be too significant a drain on its financial resources or personal energy. People want protection from their vulnerabilities. Even if our society realises all this isn't possible to the desired degree, it will settle for a covenant that doctors will maintain the fantasy.
Society fulfills its part of the bargain by setting physicians apart with only minimal hassle - a little regulation, an occasional malpractice suit, a few spurts of bad press. Physicians promise what they can't deliver - an aura of availability, essentially limitless expertise, and consistent curing. The deal is struck. The doctors are satisfied and society gets a poor facsimile of the care it bargained for - or perhaps, deserves.
Extract from sleeve notes:
Now, more than ever, understanding our changing health care system can literally mean the difference between life and death.
An experienced knowledgeable physician explains in straightforward language:
Death, Dying and the Law
Author: Sheila McLean
Publisher: Dartmouth Publishing Company
ISBN: 1 85521 657 4
Issues surrounding the end of life, and in particular questions of patient choice, have seldom been so high on the legal, ethical and political agenda. This interest has both a UK and an international dimension. Death, Dying and the Law highlights the legal and ethical dilemmas surrounding this issue from a comparative perspective and draws some conclusions about the role of the doctor, the individual and the law-makers in this moral minefield.
Part I; Law and Ethics at the End of Life:
The Practitioner's View, Nicholas Pace
Managing Patients in a Persistent Vegetative State since Airedale NHS Trust v Bland, Bryan Jennett
Are Advance Directives Really the Answer? And What was the Question? Ann Sommerville
Law at the End of Life: What Next? Sheila McLean
Part II; Safeguards for Physician-assisted Suicide:
The Oregon Death with Dignity Act, Cheryl
Physician Assisted Suicide: A Social Science Perspective on International Trends, Barbara Logue
Voluntary Euthanasia: The Dutch Way, Pieter Admiraal
The Way Forward? Christopher Docker
Death and Dying: One Step at a Time? JK Mason
To order: http://www.euthanasia.org/ddl.html
Whistleblowing in the Health Service. Accountability, Law & Professional
Author: Geoffrey Hunt
Publisher: Edward Arnold
Setting Limits. Medical Goals in an Aging Society, with "a response to my
Author: Daniel Callahan
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
Treatment You Deserve.
Author: Dr Iain Robertson-Steel
Publisher: Elliot Right Way Books
Title: Law and
Author: Mason and McCall Smith
Date/Ed: 1994, 4th Ed.
Rationing in Action
Author: Richard Smith, Editor, BMJ
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
Standards? Consumer and Professional Standards in Health Care.
Author: Charlotte Williamson
Publisher: Open University Press
Hospitals in Trouble
Publisher: Basil Blackwell Publishers Ltd
Extract from the introduction:
This is a book about failures of caring in hospitals. It seeks to illuminate the problem posed by the question, How is it that institutions established to care for the sick and helpless can have allowed them to be neglected, treated with callousness and even deliberate cruelty?
There is no simple explanation for this paradox. Individual psychopathology may have a part, but the issues are both broader and deeper. They are broader in that much turns on the attitudes of society to its weakest members, and the resources assigned to their care; they are deeper in that what may occur is a perversion both of individual motives and of social institutions.
The past 15 years [written in 1983] have seen both a series of major scandals, with at least ten inquiries of national significance, and a whole string of lesser ones involving local inquiries, TV programmes and press campaigns of various kinds....Even as this book was being finished in early 1983, The Times carried on its front page a story of neglect and inadequate care in several hospitals for the mentally handicapped, and its long term reader might wonder how much has changed since 10 November, 1965 when it published the Letter to the Editor which led directly to the publication of Sans Everything and the ensuing revelations which have continued to the present day.
Many disputes and discussions drag on longer than they should because basic terms are not clearly understood and agreed at the outset. Some administrators actually use this as a way to avoid giving a clear response to your questions. Please note that the simple definitions below aim to be free of moral content - so for example the actual definition of the term 'euthanasia' should work whether you are pro- or anti- euthanasia; the real debate focussing on whether euthanasia is ever actually necessary. Legal terms are based on the U.K. situation. Please contact me if you can offer any improvements to these definitions, suggest new terms for inclusion or wish to discuss any you do not agree with.
Consent: with consent (either express or implied) medical staff can do things to patients which if done by a lay person could result in a criminal charge for doing very serious bodily harm. This exception is based on the assumption that the treatment has therapeutic value for the patient.
Consent is implied where the patient quietly accepts treatment without complaint.
Do Not Resuscitate: often entered in patients' medical records to indicate that a decision has been taken that if a life threatening emergency occurs, no action to reverse the situation should be taken. In theory, this decision should never be taken without consultation with the patient and/or relatives. Often coded as:
· 'DNR' do not resuscitate,
· 'not for CPR' (cardiopulmonary resuscitation),
· 'NFR' (not for resuscitation),
· 'for blue card'
· 'not for xxx' (where xxx is the internal telephone number for calling the resuscitation team).
Self adhesive stickers or pencil may be used in order to facilitate easy removal of the DNR decision from the permanent records.
Euthanasia: is the intentional killing of one human being by another (see Murder) where the motive for the killing is claimed to be for the benefit of the person killed (note there is a very big difference between intention and motive in the legal sense; intention is usually an essential ingredient of an offence, whereas motive only affects the level of sentencing).
Futile Treatment: One definition of futile treatment is treatment that cannot end unconsciousness or end dependence on intensive care.
Another definition of futile treatment is treatment that fails to improve a patient's prognosis, comfort, well being or general state of health.
Homicide: the killing of a human being by another human being.
Manslaughter: unlawful homicide which for some reason does not amount to murder.
Voluntary manslaughter results where the finding would be murder but for mitigating circumstances, eg. provocation or diminished responsibility.
Involuntary manslaughter results where the intention required for murder is lacking, but where there is intention either to do something unlawful and dangerous, or to do something lawful but do it with a high degree of negligence.
Murder: intentional unlawful killing of a human being. An intention to cause really serious bodily harm can also satisfy the 'intention' requirement for murder.
Negligence: simply means lacking the proper degree of care. From a legal point of view, negligence is not so simple.
The criminal courts only get involved with negligence if it causes death (see involuntary manslaughter), and only then if the level of negligence is so high as to go beyond mere compensation between parties, and deserves punishment.
For the civil courts to consider negligence there must be some resulting loss which can be compensated in money terms. A defendant would only be liable for negligence where:
a) there was some duty to take care
b) there was a negligent breach of this duty
c) the negligent breach of duty directly caused a loss
d) the loss was foreseeable
e) the negligent breach of duty causing the loss must be the most likely cause of the loss where there is more than one cause.
Ordinary Treatment: all medicines, treatments and operations which offer a reasonable hope of benefit to the patient and which can be obtained and used without excessive expense, pain or other inconvenience.
Suicide: occurs when a person kills themselves. This is not an offence; neither is an unsuccessful attempt. Helping someone to commit suicide (in legal terms, 'aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring') is an offence, and may amount to murder.
Supply Driven Demand: a situation where staff do not ask for things which they know are not easily available.
Terminal Illness: an illness which, regardless of the use of life sustaining procedures, would produce death and where the use of these procedures only serves to postpone the moment of death.
Personal accounts of abuse in our hospitals.
If you wish to add your own account , please email it in a similar format to those appearing below to email@example.com
Patient: Margaret Green, Aged 81, died January 1996.
Hospital: Kent & Canterbury, U.K..
Margaret Green was an active pensioner, who had travelled by bus on the morning of her admission to hospital to do voluntary work for Oxfam. She died in a U.K. public hospital as a result of 'involuntary euthanasia' (actually intentional unlawful killing), having been written off because of her age. She was 81 years old and was not suffering from a terminal illness. She was admitted with an acute abdominal condition and needed an urgent surgical opinion. What she got (despite constant complaints of hunger and thirst) was a negative fluid balance of over 4.5 litres (8 pints) and bed sores. No special tests, no surgical opinion and no Nursing Care Plan. There was never any reason for 'Nil by mouth' to be hung over the bed, and administrators were "unable" to identify the person who put it there. We were all told that she just needed "rest and treatment". What they secretly wrote in her notes was DNR (do not resuscitate).
The hospital claims that this was an isolated case resulting from an unfortunate series of communication failures resulting in nobody noticing the gross dehydration, the increasingly swollen abdomen and the failure of the surgeons to show up.
An Isolated Case? The way the hospital treated my mother was slick, economical (three litres of saline, no antibiotics, no analgesics over a five day period is cheap!) and involved a lot of looking the other way. I now know this was not the first (or last) case of its kind at this hospital. The hospital's response to my complaint took nine months. It was skilfully worded and evaded the real issues. Again, I feel that this was a tried and tested response. The same applied to the independent review and the Ombudsman. Four years on and I am no closer to finding out why these failures in my mother's treatment occurred or who was responsible. The complaints process was a complete waste of time.
Patient: Neil Askew, Aged
11½, died 31 December 1996.
Hospital: Whipps Cross Hospital, U.K..
Neil was taken to see his G.P. following headache, vomiting and the appearance of an unusual rash on his foot. The G.P. suspected meningitis and telephoned the hospital to arrange Neil's admission and clearly referred to the headache, vomiting and rash. The doctor did not tell Neil or his mother of his provisional diagnosis, neither did he administer any antibiotics. He gave them a referral letter and told them to make their own way to the hospital.
At the hospital, Neil waited 1 hour 40 minutes to be assessed by the triage nurse, although she had read the referral letter upon Neil's arrival. She expressed no concern when shown the rash, and instead asked for a urine sample (useless for confirmation of meningitis). A further 1 hour 40 minutes were spent in the paediatric waiting room. Medical staff were unhelpful and unconcerned as has condition worsened. Neil's parents finally succeeded in getting a nurse to take his condition seriously, but he lost consciousness before a doctor could examine him and died 8 hours later.
Throughout the investigations which followed, staff lied and hospital investigators dragged their feet. The green "Applications for Admission" form which clearly stated "Headache/Rash" was intentionally suppressed by clinical staff and administrators, although Neil's parents were repeatedly told that nobody was aware of Neil's rash. The Ombudsman declined to take any robust action despite being shown proof of this intentional and gross maladministration.
One local 'resolution', two 'independent' reviews and an Ombudsman's report have revealed little and achieved even less. The investigations surrounding Neil's death have taken three years and cost approximately £25,000, but have failed to reveal why things went wrong or who was responsible.
Patient: Kathleen Stenson, Aged 83 years
It has come to our attention that Mrs Kathleen Stenson and her son William are being subject to abuse at The Court Nursing Home, West Felton, Oswestry in England. Apparently, the Deputy Matron of the Court Nursing Home has said that Nobody leaves here alive Is this policy or just an observation?
William is in a lone struggle right now, against Shropshire Social Services and The Court Nursing Home who appear to be acting beyond their powers in denying him freedom to visit with his mother in privacy and by fabricating innuendos and false accusations against William with the result that he is supervised during visits to his mother, that conversations between them are being listened to including censorship and interfering with the private mail of Mrs Stenson, all being perpetrated by the management of the nursing home.
William on all his visits to his mother finds her parched and requesting water. He complains to management who, instead of wanting to quench Mrs Stensons thirst, call the cops and social services. Please read the report and see how you can help.
Patient: Robert Powell, Aged 10 years, died 17 April 1990.
Hospital/Health Centre: Morriston Hospital, Swansea/Ystradgynlais Health Centre
Robert Powell died of a treatable condition called Addisons disease which, unknown to his parents, had been suspected four months before Robbies death, when he had been an inpatient at Morriston Hospital, Swansea. Addisons disease invariably results in death without treatment; however, if treated the patient can live a full and normal life. Between the 2nd and 17th April Robert was seen by five GPs from the Ystradgynlais Health Centre on seven separate occasions [i.e. 2, 6, 11, 15, 16 and twice on the 17]. In the week leading to Robert's death he had been vomiting, was so weak he couldn't walk unassisted, had excessive weight loss and had dilated pupils and central cyanosis when he regained consciousness after fainting. In the light of these symptoms the GP refused hospital admission on her first visit on the day of death. On her second visit the GP again refused hospital admission but eventually agreed following a heated argument. However, the Powells' request for an ambulance was refused. On arrival at the hospital, Robert stopped breathing, and died shortly after.
The Powells were refused an Inquest. The senior partner at the health centre refused Mr Powell's request for an investigation into Robert's death. The Powells had no other option but to complain to the appropriate Family Practitioners Committee. A subsequent appeal hearing at the Welsh Office collapsed because of maladministration which the Welsh Office vigorously denied for three years. However, even when the Powells were vindicated, and the Welsh Office were forced to admit the maladministration, the Powells were still refused their statutory right to a fair and honest investigation into Robert's death. The Powells were forced into a civil action for negligence hoping that the truth would be established. However, that wasn't to be. In 1996 West Glamorgan Health Authority admitted liability for Robert's death with the same information that was available on the night the child died - £80,000 was paid into court. The Powells did not receive any compensation as they challenged the Judgement that GPs had no legal duty to tell parents the truth following a child's negligent death. The case is currently in the European Court of Human Rights. The police investigated the case between 1994 and 1996 but the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] said that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute any of the doctors. Mr Powell challenged the CPS's decision and was informed that no stone had been left unturned by the police and it was a matter for conjecture as to whether any enquiries by the police would reveal further material and significant evidence. It later came to light that the GPs under investigation had been providing a service as police surgeons for the past 20 years, to the very police force that had inadequately investigated Robert's death. Following a formal complaint in 1998 the police investigation was reopened and there are now at least 16 lines of inquiry notwithstanding the same factual information was available in 1996. In Mr Powell's view, this highlights the inadequacies of the initial police investigation and also the failure of the CPS to properly assess the case. The outcome is anxiously awaited.
It is the view of the Powells, and that of many others, that the NHS complaint procedures are conveniently structured to protect the medical profession. There is no current mechanism to address impropriety and the abuse of power by individuals within the NHS investigating authorities and government. The absence of a deterrent not only breeds complacency but encourages individuals, with a conflict of interest, to cover up medical mistakes. The Powells have taken their complaints to the Prime Minister on several occasions. However, the complaints are referred straight back to the individuals complained against and the complaints are again brushed under the carpet of deceit. It is the failure of the government to address public concern that leads to such atrocities as the Bristol Heart Babies and many others.
We owe respect to the living - to the dead we owe only truth. Voltaire
Patient: David Glass, Aged 14 years.
Hospital: Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust
David Glass was born prematurely at 30 weeks gestation on 23 July 1986 in Portsmouth because he had a
condition called hydrocephalus, where fluid accumulates on the brain. Carol Glass was told her son would
not survive. After 55 minutes he was still alive, and was seen by a doctor from the special baby care unit.
Initially he was artificially ventilated but the treatment was stopped and his mother was again told he would
not survive. He continued, however, to breathe unaided. Six months later, after his mother had contacted
the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, she met a consultant, Mr Forest at Carshalton
Hospital. He recommended treatment by inserting a shunt to drain off the fluid, which happened three
months later. In 1998, David's breathing became noisy. He was admitted to hospital and treated with
steroids in preparation for an endoscopy. On his way to the operating theatre, his mother was asked to sign
a consent form for tonsillectomy. Following the operation he had four convulsions and was treated with a
tranquilliser, called diazepam. He was placed on a life support machine, and suffered from pneumonia and
blood poisoning caused by three types of bacteria. He was tube-fed with pre-digested food, which gave
him severe diarrhoea, and was given oral antibiotics. He was discharged, but had to be re-admitted as his
pneumonia had not cleared. The medical team wanted to give him diamorphine and allow him to die, but his
mother refused, with the support of a solicitor. Over the next month or two he spent a lot of time in and out
of hospital, and in October 1998 diamorphine was again suggested and the mother refused, but the Chief
Executive of the hospital endorsed the treatment, and the police advised against his mother taking him
David was treated with a subcutaneous diamorphine drip and was given no food or fluids. When he
deteriorated, turned blue and virtually stopped breathing, his mother and relatives removed the drip and
stimulated him by rubbing, and smelling salts, and he improved. He was sent home under police escort. The
GP gave him a morphine antagonist, intravenous antibiotics and oxygen, and changed the liquid food. By
March 1999 he was feeding again without the tube. Carol went to Court to establish the right to an
assurance that, should David be re-admitted, he would not be given diamorphine. She was told it was "not
in David's interest" to keep him alive.
(Details withheld at author's request)
Vaccine Damage is only the Beginning
The effects of vaccine damage on an infant are not just a simple life-long single tragedy. The repercussions of
that initial event will often stimulate other tragedies that, taken together, exacerbate the epitonic aspects of that
It may be appropriate therefore to give you a snapshot of some of these events that have darkened my
daughters life. I am sure that these sorts of events are not uncommon and are probably mirrored in the lives of
others who have been similarly damaged.
L was born a healthy child to loving parents in 1960. We were told that it was in her best interests to have her
vaccinated at six-months of age [DPT]. So we did just that. Almost immediately after the first vaccination L
went into a paroxysm of convulsion, but seemingly recovered after a few days. This was reported to the doctor
at the time of the next appointment for phase two of the programme. The doctor said that she would give only a
reduced dose (thereby acknowledging there was some contraindication to subsequent doses).
Again within a very short time (the same day), further and more complicated convulsions occurred and L was
seriously ill for almost a fortnight. The doctor then decided that no more vaccinations should be given.
Subsequently after neurological investigation L was pronounced to be brain-damaged.
L was lovingly cared for by her parents, but at the age of ten months, whilst still being breast-fed, she had an
accident that required hospitalisation. The hospital told my wife and me that we could only visit her once a day
at 6 p.m.; and further my wife was given 36 hours to wean L from the breast. L was in hospital for three weeks
and returned home a devastated child.
As parents we were left to cope with our child, without any adequate advice on what we might expect, and
when she developed some behavioural problems through her lack of ability to understand the corner of the world
into which she had been so violently thrown, she was put into a drug regime (at the age of eight) that has
continued more or less continuously until the present day.
When L was about 20 we moved to another part of the UK and she was put into a respite care situation, on the
advice of her then GP, so that we could make the transition and at the same time gain a little time to recover
from the years of caring for our damaged child.
The private Home that took L, registered by social services, found that she did not sleep very well. The care
staff, rather than feel sympathetic and be understanding of her temporary separation from her parents, told the
manager that if L was not removed from the Home by the time they came on duty the following night, they
would not remain on duty. The manager therefore had L admitted to a local mental handicap hospital, where
she was put on a ward of teenagers who were there mainly for disruptive behaviour. L was terrorised and
received serious injuries when she was struck with something like a paling from a fence that still had the nail
embedded in it. Her foot and hand were affected by acute cellulitis for about six weeks. She was so affected by
this terrorism that she often fainted with alarm and had to be admitted several times to the hospital infirmary.
By the time she was discharged some fourteen months later she was doubly incontinent and so drugged that
she was incoherent and uncoordinated.
By this time her mother was ill and the hospital in the new area was asked for assistance. This was refused,
and the same week Ls mother died. I was then her sole carer, and was left to cope as best I could. Eventually
the hospital took in L, first as a day patient, and then admitted her full-time because I was working.
L was a patient there for about ten years, and during that time she was assaulted by being bitten by another
resident on four occasions, on two of those, suturing was necessary to her hand and face. The hospital
promised to separate the two women but did not do so until after the third occasion. The fourth biting incident
was by another resident.
When I started to take legal action against the health authority for lack of care, L was seen by a plastic
surgeon who assessed her injuries that had by then healed to scars. His view was that as she was mentally
handicapped she would not be aware of the disfigurement and that damages would be little or none. So I
took-up the matter as a complaint with the health authority that promised to look after her better in the future.
Following that she was placed in a locked ward, where a further attack took place. Finally as a sop, so to
speak, the first attacker had all of her bottom teeth removed. [A ploy that was mistakenly determined to avoid
her causing harm to anyone else.]
L was rehabilitated from hospital in 1992 into a community living situation where she was placed with one other
handicapped person and a team of carers on 24-hour duty. By this time she had (unknowingly to her carers)
developed PTSD as a result of the trauma she had experienced in hospital. Her long experience of being faced
with situations from which she could not escape or defend, had brought about reactions that when triggered
would put her into an anxiety state. A state that was not understood, because her history had not been
explained nor had her initial neurological impairment ever been investigated.
So once more she was drugged, and again she became doubly incontinent, didnt sleep properly, lost weight,
dribbled constantly, etc. She lost all of her acquired social activities swimming, riding, music and walking.
The money that financed this community living situation for L was ring-fenced until last year, now it is at the
mercy of local government politicians. Due to the need for cuts in expenditure the social services department is
taking steps to pass the scheme over to the private sector on an agency basis, and amalgamate schemes so
that there would be a minimum of four people to each house.
For forty years L has been misunderstood, misdiagnosed, mistreated and abused, all because her innocent
parents believed that they were doing what they had been told was right. I feel that the NHS and social services
has a duty to be called on to respond with an acknowledgement of their errors and some substantial
contribution to an adequate future welfare of L.
Watch out, you old chickens!
By Mal Bowen.
I welcome the recent news of an increase in the state pension, but have misgivings as to whether it will be good news for all pensioners. The reason for my scepticism is that for the past four years my wife and I have been campaigning for justice for my late mother-in-law, who was a victim of involuntary euthanasia.
Throughout our campaign we have encountered all forms of rule bending by every authority that we have approached, including NHS trusts, the GMC, the Police Force, the CPS and the Police Complaints Authority. Whenever we appealed to the government concerning this blatant rule bending, we were told that they could not intervene in the decisions reached by any of the authorities involved. Since 1996, I have spoken with the relatives of hundreds of victims, who suffered the same fate as my late mother-in-law, only to discover that they had encountered the same problems with the various authorities, including the government.
I believe that my late mother-in-law and many other elderly and vulnerable people have died as a direct result of decisions taken by unethical senior members of the medical profession, for purely economic reasons. It is my opinion that successive governments have been well aware of this practice, but have chosen not to intervene and act against these despicable people. I believe the reason for their inaction is that although these medical professionals are clearly breaking the law, as well as the Hippocratic oath, they are also boosting the economy, with significant savings to the government on medical treatment, long term care and pensions etc.
In my opinion, a suitable analogy of the government's attitude to these unethical medical professionals would be that of a poultry farmer (the Government) who employs a guard dog (senior medical professional) to protect and care for his flock. The dog is unable to protect all of the birds, as there are far too many for one guard dog, so the dog reduces his workload by killing off the odd old non-productive bird (elderly or vulnerable patient).
The poultry farmer is fully aware that the guard dog is killing birds. But refuses to punish the dog in any way, because of (a) The savings he is making, by only having to feed one dog and (b) The substantial savings he makes from no longer having to house, feed and care for old non-productive members of the flock.
I believe that some unethical members of the medical profession may regard an increase in pension as raising the bounty on our elderly and vulnerable citizens, within the safe sanctuary of the government's blind eye!
If you know of cases of abuse, tell us now!
Please email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01227 264481 or fax 01227 711876.
Extract from the Patient's Charter. (Page 5, 1995 edition)
Rights and standards throughout the NHS
Access to services
You have the right to:
receive health care on the basis of your clinical need, not on your ability to pay, your lifestyle or any other factor;
Mrs Jill Baker
5 Billett Avenue,
Tel: 023 9226 1009
Fax: 023 9226 1009
12th July 2000.
The trial of Diane Wilde, Raymond Davis and Julie Hodgkins at Portsmouth Crown Court.
These three defendants will be sentenced on Friday 14th July 2000, for saving their nephew's life by thwarting the doctors attempts to end it!
These caring people are not criminals, They are heroes. The justice system has completely failed them. The taxpayer paid for a Queens Council for St Mary's Hospital (the prosecution) but would not provide the same level of service for the defendants.
They were only provided with mediocre barristers, who in my opinion made a disgraceful job of their defence. This was not a level playing field.
- The defending barristers failed to point out that it was the doctors who initiated the attack, not Diane Wilde; How could she when she was completely occupied trying to resuscitate her nephew?
- When the defendants went to complain to the police they gave a statement totally unaware that it would later be used against them in court. They were not issued with a caution. In my opinion this is totally illegal and should have resulted in a mistrial! But the Judge would not allow this!
- The Judge stated that he would not allow any emphasis on the administration of Diamorphine to David Glass? As this was the sole reason why the struggle took place when David's relatives rescued him from the continued administration of Diamorphine and resuscitated him, how can this then be seen as a fair trial?
- Carol Glass, David's mother has asked the police to investigate the case against the doctor's perjury in the witness box and their attempts to murder David. She, quite rightly in my opinion, feels that the police have no intention of doing any such thing! Is this British Justice, I think not!!!
In my opinion this trial was completely unfair to the defendants and the Home Secretary must call for a retrial!
(The "Do not resuscitate" patient at St Mary's Hospital Portsmouth)
Mr. Graham Pink was a charge nurse who was fired when he stood up for decent patient care in his hospital in Stockport. He raised his concerns about poor staffing levels on his ward with every level of management up to and including the Secretary of State for Health, and got nowhere. Finally he went public. Although his Health Authority was clearly prepared to ignore any amount of internal criticism, it was not prepared to tolerate public criticism, and sacked him. After spending a huge amount of public money defending the indefensible, the Health Authority eventually admitted unfair dismissal - but only to avoid cross examination in court which would have washed even more dirty laundry in public. Some of Mr Pink's own views can be found at http://www.patientprotect.org/Pink
Bullying is common in NHS trust
Bullying at work is associated with job dissatisfaction, absence, poor performance, and turnover. In a survey of staff of an
NHS community trust, it was found that over a third reported being subjected to one or more forms of bullying in the previous year and 42% had witnessed the bullying of others. Staff who had been bullied had lower job satisfaction and higher job induced stress, depression, anxiety, and intention to leave the job.
Extracted from: BMJ 1999; 318: 228-232.
"Techniques of neutralization: a theory of delinquency" was published 43 years ago in American Sociological Review. The authors, Sykes and Matza, proposed the theory that, following deviant behaviour, individuals can protect themselves from self-blame (flowing from internalised norms) and the blame of others by justifying or rationalising their deviant behaviour. This theory remains accepted by criminologists today.
Authors: Gresham M Sykes and David Matza
Journal: American Sociological Review
SINCE leaving Bristol, Dr Stephen Bolsin has settled his wife and family in Geelong, a small town on the south coast of Australia.... The battle he began in 1990 to stop babies dying at the Bristol Royal Infirmary has left him deeply scarred.... It was a stand made in the face of threats to his career and official intransigence and it still seems brave now.... His suspicions were aroused soon after joining the BRI because he realised that its surgeons were struggling with procedures that were being performed with relative ease at other hospitals.... He feared retribution would follow and it did. It was not swift or spectacular, but it was effective. He was frozen out.... He soon realised that key surgeons were ignoring him in favour of colleagues who had not "rocked the boat". (extracted from the Telegraph, 30 May 1998)
Letter to the Editor of The Times, published 10 November, 1965
We, the undersigned, have been shocked by the treatment of geriatric patients in certain mental hospitals...
The attitude of the Ministry of Health to complaints has reinforced our anxieties. In consequence, we have decided to collect evidence of ill-treatment of geriatric patients throughout the country, to demonstrate the need for a national investigation. We hope this will lead to the securing of effective and humane control over these hospitals by the Ministry, which seems at present to be lacking.
We shall be grateful if those who have encountered malpractices in this sphere will supply us with detailed information, which would of course be treated as confidential.
Strabolgi, Beaumont, Heytesbury, Brian Abel-Smith, Edward Ardizzone, Audrey Harvey, John Hewetson, Barbara Robb, Bill Sargent, Daniel Woolgar O.P.
10, Hampstead Grove, NW3. November 9th.
Sans Everything: a Case to Answer
The letter to The Times (above), with its authorship of Peers, a distinguished academic, a celebrated artist, social workers and clergymen had what Barbara Robb (1967) described as 'astonishing results' in the form of 'hundreds of letters releasing a pent-up rage and misery...including...many from nurses and social workers'.
In due course a selection of this and other material formed the basis of a book edited by Mrs Robb, with a title drawn from Shakespeare referring to the last of the seven ages of man, Sans Everything: a Case to Answer. The heart of the book was a passionate cry of distress at the undignified suffering of so many elderly people in hospitals up and down the country, but in addition there were a number of chapters by experts suggesting reforms which might alleviate this sort of suffering. (extracted from Chapter 1, Hospitals in Trouble)
1. Louis Dembitz Brandeis, 1856-1941
American jurist who served as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1916-1939). His opposition to monopolies and defense of individual human rights formed the basis of many of his high court decisions.
The address of this website is: http://www.patientprotect.org
The site is authored and maintained by Roger Green, in memory of hismother.
Roger Green has the following contact details:
Tel: 01227 713661
Fax: 01227 711876
Mail: 44 Reservoir Road, Whitstable, United Kingdom, CT5 1LY
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