Hunt attacks ‘whistleblower’ trust

Hunt criticises health trust over whistleblower

Gary Walker was sacked in 2010 for gross professional misconduct

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has criticised a hospital trust’s actions after a gagging order was broken to elevate concerns about patient safety.

Gary Walker, a former chief executive at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, broke the order when he was interviewed by the BBC.

Lawyers for the trust then warned him he must repay £500,000.

Mr Hunt said the trust must have been targeting the troubles raised, not heading straight for the lawyers.

“i’ve got written to the chairman of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust to invite him why their first reaction when faced with this was to get their lawyers to send a letter instead of to unravel the patient questions of safety that were raised.

He told the area at One on BBC Radio 4 that: “i don’t believe it’s acceptable, i suspect it was the incorrect thing to do.”

He attacked a culture of “institutional self-preservation” in parts of the NHS.

‘Simple decision’

Gary Walker said he had no choice but to sign an agreement associated with a confidentiality clause in April 2011. He was sacked in 2010 for gross professional misconduct for allegedly swearing in a gathering.

He said he was gagged by the NHS from speaking out about his dismissal and his concerns over patient safety.

Mr Walker told the BBC that demand for emergency hospital beds in 2008 and 2009 became so acute that he felt he had no other choice than to desert the 18-week Whitehall target for non-emergency cases.

ULHT is one in every of 14 hospital trusts in England currently being investigated for prime death rates, within the wake of the Stafford hospital scandal, where hundreds are believed to have died after receiving poor care.

He said: “It is a simple decision: you’ve emergency care otherwise you have care which could wait.

“It is not nice to attend however could wait and therefore we chose as a board – it was not only me – that we should always take priority, that emergency care should take priority.”

He said the message from the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority was to hit the targets “regardless of the demand” and that he was ordered to resign when he refused to backpedal.

A spokesman for the SHA said it “totally refuted” Mr Walker’s allegations, describing them as “unfounded”. The spokesman said the SHA had always acted “appropriately and correctly” within the “interest of patients”.

After the BBC interview, Mr Walker was threatened with legal action for breaching the terms of a package reported to be worth £500,000.

A note from lawyers DAC Beachcroft said: “Having seen a description of the flaws, we now have advised our client that when you’ve got provided an interview, or should this interview proceed, you are going to be in clear breach of the agreement.”

It said that, hence, “the Trust could be entitled to get over you the payments made under the agreement and any costs including its legal costs”.

The health secretary said he didn’t want to make a judgement about Mr Walker’s claims but there have been “a variety of very serious allegations that we have to unravel”.

He said this is able to become a test case for other “gagged” NHS employees, but said he didn’t understand how a lot of these orders were in place.

Junior doctors withdrawn at hospital

Bedford Hospital: Trainee doctors withdrawn over ‘concerns’

Bedford Hospital said trainee doctors had expressed concerns

Junior doctor training have been stopped at an immense hospital in Bedfordshire and an MP has called for an inquiry.

Concerns were expressed in April that Bedford Hospital NHS Trust had too few consultants for paediatric and maternity cover while instructing medical trainees.

The trust said it could recruit staff but Health Education East of britain stepped in and withdrew its trainees.

Bedford MP Richard Fuller called for an inquiry into what had happened.

The Conservative said he desired to know why trainee doctors were left on this situation.

“It’s right to invite why the junior doctors’ concerns about supervision weren’t addressed more quickly,” he said.

“Or is it a case of 1 of 2 senior doctors not doing what the trainees expected of them?”

‘Inadequate levels’

He wants an inquiry to reply these and other questions on the hospital’s performance.

Dr Barry Monk, who had campaigned to maintain the hospital open when it was under threat two years ago, said it was a unprecedented step for a General Medical Council department to take out junior doctors while they were being trained.

Bedford Hospital NHS Trust said it was working with partners around the region to make a decision how the local health economy would safely manage the ongoing delivery of children’s services.

It would announce changes to how a number of its children’s services are delivered once possible.

In an announcement, it said: “This follows a choice by Health Education East of britain, the body answerable for doctors in training and the overall Medical Council, to temporarily withdraw essentially the most junior medical trainees from Bedford Hospital’s paediatric department.

“This decision was taken after trainee doctors expressed concerns about inadequate levels of senior clinical supervision.

“Without these junior doctors, who form an integral part of the medical workforce, the trust cannot safely provide all paediatric services.”

Over one in 10 providing unpaid care

More than one in 10 providing unpaid care

The selection of unpaid carers in England and Wales has reached 5.8 million – an increase of 600,000 since 2001, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.

Figures from 2011 show that the most important increase was in unpaid carers working for fifty or more hours per week.

Wales had a better percentage of folks providing unpaid care compared with any English region.

In England, the best percentages of unpaid carers were within the North West, North East and West Midlands.

The ONS study into unpaid care in England and Wales, 2011 found that greater than 12% of the population in Wales provided some level of care in 2011.

The rise in those providing over 50 hours every week of unpaid care suggests that across England and Wales there are actually 1.4 million people providing round-the-clock care – a rise of 270,000 people since 2001 (25%).

Across local authorities in England and Wales, the selection of carers increased in 320 authorities and fell in exactly six.

In Birmingham, the selection of unpaid carers increased by greater than 9,000 between 2001 and 2011.

Across English regions and Wales, the availability of between one and 19 hours was the most typical level of care provided.

London was the realm with the bottom percentage of unpaid carers at 8.4%.

The study said London’s lower level of care provision was more likely to be influenced by its younger age structure, the transient nature of its population and differences in household composition.

Family pressure

The provision of unpaid care is a vital statistic, the ONS says, because unpaid carers make a very important contribution to the provision of care but their role may also affect their employment opportunities in addition their social and leisure activities.

Unpaid care means care provided to members of the family, friends, neighbours or others who’re disabled, elderly or have long-term illnesses. It doesn’t include people providing general childcare.

HelĂ©na Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK said: “Family life is changing due to our ageing population and the indisputable fact that individuals are living longer with disability and long-term ill-health.

“Too often the fees and pressures of taking good care of older or disabled family can force families to renounce work to care and result in debt, poor health and isolation.

“As well, as more families need assistance to care, social care support and disability benefits are being cut. This risks putting much more pressure on families, a lot of whom are already struggling to manage.”

Abortions down in England and Wales

Fall in teenage abortion rates continues, figures show

Abortions done on women living in England and Wales fell 2.5% to 185,122 last year, Department of Health figures show.

For women aged 15-44, the abortion rate was down 5.4% to 16.5 per 1,000 women – the bottom since 1997.

From information included in abortion forms in 2012, almost half were medically-induced using drugs rather then surgery – identical to 2011.

Among under-18s, the abortion rate continued to fall last year.

The choice of teenagers having abortions was on a downward trend for the past five years. Between 2011 and 2012, the under-18 abortion rate fell again from 15 to twelve.8 per 1,000.

The Department of Health report at the 2012 statistics said that 91% of abortions were completed before the 13th week of pregnancy.

It also noted that fewer abortions were performed on women from other countries, corresponding to Ireland, than in any year since 1969.

Last year, non-residents accounted for five,850 abortions.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said the drop within the variety of teenagers experiencing an unwanted pregnancy could reflect improvements in access to contraception for teens.

In older age groups the autumn in abortions could indicate that ladies are better ready to avoid unplanned pregnancy inside the first place, it said.

No stereotypes

Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS, said: “Abortion is a fact of life and there’s no ‘right number’ of abortions. What matters is that each woman with an unplanned pregnancy is ready to make the decision that’s right for her and access the care that she needs.

“These statistics confirm that ladies who’ve abortions don’t fit the stereotype of ‘the feckless teenager’. Women of every age and from all walks of life experience unplanned pregnancy.”

But a spokesperson from ProLife Alliance said the drop was “sadly very small”.

“Again we highlight that most of abortions performed within the UK are covered, read ‘hidden’ under Ground C, which covers the mental health of the pregnant woman.

“The dept of Health itself acknowledges that there are not any further breakdown categories in relationship to women’s mental health available during the International Classification of Diseases, so that they are unable to demand or provide any greater detail.”

Sea bed to be mined for antibiotics

Antibiotics search to spotlight sea bed

Scientists will test unique chemical substances from marine samples present in deep sea trenches

Researchers are embarking on an £8m project to find new antibiotics on the bottom of the sea.

A team, led by scientists at Aberdeen University, is attempting to find undiscovered chemicals among life which has evolved in deep sea trenches.

Prof Marcel Jaspars said the team hoped to locate “the subsequent generation” of infection-fighting drugs.

England’s chief medical officer has warned of an “antibiotic apocalypse” with too few new drugs inside the pipeline.

Few samples have ever been collected from ocean trenches – deep, narrow valleys within the sea floor that could plunge all the way down to almost 6.8 miles (11km).

Yet researchers believe there’s great potential for locating antibiotics in these extreme conditions.

Life in these incredibly hostile environments is effectively bring to an end and has evolved differently in each trench.

The international team will use fishing vessels to drop sampling equipment on a reel of cables to the ditch bed to gather sediment.

Scientists will then try and grow unique bacteria and fungi from the sediment which are extracted and refined to find new antibiotics.

Starting within the autumn with the Atacama Trench within the eastern Pacific Ocean – about 100 miles (161km) off the coast of Chile and Peru – the ecu-funded research may also search deep trenches off New Zealand to boot waters off the Antarctic.

Arctic waters off Norway can also be explored.

‘Pre-antibiotic era’

The inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics – and an over-reliance at the drugs – has brought about a rapid increase in resistant bugs and health workers fear effective antibiotics might soon run out completely.

In January, Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, compared the threat to global warming and said going for a routine operation could become deadly because of the risk of untreatable infection.

Project leader Marcel Jaspars, professor of chemistry on the University of Aberdeen, said: “If nothing’s done to combat this problem we are going to be back to a ‘pre-antibiotic era’ in around 10 or two decades, where bugs and infections which are currently very simple to regard can be fatal.”

He said there had not been a “completely new” antibiotic registered since 2003 – “partially by reason of a scarcity of interest by drugs companies as antibiotics are usually not particularly profitable”.

“The common person uses an antibiotic for just a few weeks and the drug itself only has around a five to ten-year year lifespan so the companies don’t see much return on their investment.”

He said he expected scientists to be engaged on samples within the laboratory within 18 months and added that, if new treatments were discovered, they are able to be available within a decade.

Project co-ordinator Dr Camila Esguerra, from the University of Leuven in Belgium, said: “We’ll be testing many unique chemicals from these marine samples which have literally never seen the sunshine of day.

“We’re quite hopeful that we will discover a choice of exciting new drug leads.”

Medicines watchdog recalls drugs

Medicines watchdog recalls drugs made in India

Alternative medication is available

The UK’s medicines watchdog is recalling 16 prescription medicines made at an Indian factory which failed a routine inspection.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency wants pharmacies to go back stock of the medicine made by Wockhardt at its Waluj site.

The recalled drugs, in this article, include some for diabetes, schizophrenia and thyroid conditions.

But the MHRA stresses there’s no evidence of a risk to patient safety.

It says people shouldn’t have to come back their medicines and that it’s important patients continue to take them as prescribed.

It says there are other versions of many of the recalled drugs made by more than a few pharmaceutical companies.

And it said where other versions of an identical medicines weren’t available, there have been substitutes which doctors could prescribe,

A statement from the MHRA said it was not recalling the medicines people had at home because, although they’d not been manufactured to Good Manufacturing Practice standards, there has been no evidence of a patient safety risk from medicines which have been sold within the UK.

However, it said it needed to act inside the public interest – and poor manufacturing standards couldn’t be allowed to continue.

Import tests

An inspection on the Waluj factory in March found some risk of cross-contamination due to poor cleaning practices, and defects in building fabric and the ventilation systems on the site.

There was also evidence of forged documents with regards to staff training records that were re-written.

The MHRA says it’s working with Wockhardt and other international regulators to unravel the difficulty.

The full range of conditions treated by the 16 medications include infections, hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, dementia in Alzheimer’s patients and thyroid conditions.

Gerald Heddell, the MHRA’s director of inspection, enforcement and standards, said: “This can be a precautionary recall.

“People may be reassured that there’s no evidence that medicines made by Wockhardt are defective so it will be significant people continue to take their medicines as prescribed.

“All batches of medications manufactured outside the ecu Union are tested on importation to the united kingdom before they reach patients.

“However, now we have taken this precautionary action since the medicines haven’t been manufactured to the correct regulatory standards.

“We’re working with the dep. of Health making sure that people have access to the medicines they want.

“Anyone who has questions should speak to their pharmacist or GP.”

A sweet solution for healing wounds?

Family sugar remedy tested for healing people’s wounds

Moses Murandu saw sugar treatment getting used often as a baby in Zimbabwe

A nurse is researching whether an old family remedy using sugar to heal wounds does actually work.

Moses Murandu, from Zimbabwe, grew up watching his father use granulated sugar to regard wounds.

Sugar is assumed to attract water clear of wounds and forestall bacteria from multiplying.

Early results from an ordeal on 35 hospital patients in Birmingham are encouraging, but more research is required.

One of the patients who received sugar treatment on a wound was 62-year-old Alan Bayliss from Birmingham.

He had undergone an above-the knee amputation on his right leg on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and, as portion of the surgery, a vein was far from his left leg leaving a wound which might not heal properly.

Murandu, who’s studying for a doctorate at Birmingham University, was contacted and asked to regard the wound with sugar.

Fast recovery

Mr Bayliss said: “It’s been revolutionary. The particular wound was very deep – it was almost as big as my finger.

“When Moses first did the dressing he almost used your entire pot of sugar, but two weeks later he only had to use four or five teaspoons.

“i’m more than happy indeed. i believe that it has accelerated my recovery much, and it’s been a favorable leap forward. i used to be a bit of sceptical at the beginning but after I saw the sugar in operation and what sort of it was drawing the wound out, i used to be impressed.”

The randomised control trial at three West Midlands hospitals is purely half way through. Thus far 35 patients were treated with sugar treatment.

Murandu, a senior lecturer in adult nursing on the University of Wolverhampton, said he was very happy by the consequences.

“i suspect within the sugar and the nurses and doctors who see the consequences are commencing to believe in it too.”

The treatment is understood to work because applying sugar to a wound draws the water away, thereby starving the bacteria of what it must grow. This prevents the bacteria from multiplying and so they die.

Staff nurse Jonathan Janneman said the treatment had boosted the patient’s morale too.

“He could see the cavity in his leg in addition to having been unwell and thru operations. However the sugar has given him something to carry directly to.

“It’s amazing that something so simple as sugar has given him a morale boost.”