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News Archives, April 2005
Wednesday, 27 April 2005 09:48
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Hospital neglect killed my mother
Norman Irons a former lord provost of Edinburgh has accused a flagship Scottish hospital of killing his mother through neglect.

Mr Irons claimed the care his mother received at an orthopaedic ward at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was "a disgrace in a developed western country".

Mr Irons made his claims in a furious letter to Health Minister Andy Kerr and the chairman of NHS Lothian, Brian Cavanagh.

Mr Irons said his mother suffered 'basic nursing neglect' during her 28-day stay he wrote: "Her nutrition and fluids intake were not properly monitored and, as a consequence, her weight dropped dramatically.

"She received no bath and only two showers in 28 days.

"Her nightclothes were left soiled in her locker for relatives to collect. Clinical waste was left at her bedside. Her self-esteem and general welfare were neglected to the point where she effectively lost the will to live".

Mrs Irons died on April 9. Her son said: "Her cause of death is given as pneumonia. In reality, she died of neglect.

"Her only fault apparently was that she was too old to be a matter of concern".

Stuart Smith, chairman of NHS Lothian University Hospitals Division, said he wanted to express his condolences to Mr Irons and his family for their loss, adding: "I have already spoken to Mr Irons and invited him to meet with us . . . to discuss his concerns". He said that an investigation was ongoing.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2005 09:33
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Nightmare of mum-to-be after doctor's blunder
Nicola Leary, 20, was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary last Wednesday after experiencing internal bleeding when a gynaecologist had told her that she had lost her baby.

When she went back to the hospital two days later to have the foetus removed, a nurse scanned her tummy and asked in amazement: “Who the hell told you your baby was dead?

“You have a perfectly healthy baby. And it's a big baby”.

Nicola feels if she had not fled the hospital she would have had lost her perfectly healthy baby.

Nicola said: “the doctor started by telling me that my blood type was RhD negative, and my baby's was RhD positive.

“He said if my baby was bleeding, my body would try to kill its blood cells as it would see them as alien.

“He kept saying, 'Do you understand? Do you understand?' 'He examined me, and then he took off his plastic glove and hid it away.

“He took my hand and started patting it. Then he said,’ I’m very sorry, but you've lost your baby.' 'I was completely shocked. 'Then he told me,’ We’ll have to get you cleaned out. Can you stay overnight?”

She added: "I’m so angry at that doctor. He put me through hell”.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow, which governs the Royal Infirmary, said: “Although we cannot discuss individual cases, we would like to apologise for any distress caused to Ms Leary”.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2005 13:20
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Aircrafts starve passengers of oxygen
Air-travel reduces oxygen in the bloodstream to levels that could put passengers in danger, a study has found.

Researchers from Belfast studied 84 passengers between the ages of 1 and 78. They measured pulse rates and peripheral oxygen saturation – the amount of oxygen in the blood.

At ground level, passengers were found to have average oxygen levels of 97 per cent. However, this dropped to 93 per cent during flight.

In total, 54 per cent of passengers had blood oxygen levels of 94 per cent or less at cruising altitude.

In hospitals, a patient at this level would be given supplemental oxygen to help recovery.

The results, published in the journal Anaesthesia, were similar in both long and short haul flights.

Poor air quality and ventilation in aircrafts has been attributed to cost cutting introduced by airlines as competition has increased. At the same time, modern aircraft are able to cruise at much higher altitudes, intensifying the problem.

Farrol Kahn of the Aviation Health Institute said some airlines cut ventilation to save fuel. By making passengers sleepy, savings are also made on onboard services.

Oxygen deficiency can cause breathing problems and impaired mental performance. It can also aggravate pre-existing conditions such as angina and bronchitis.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2005 12:18
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Scotland’s NHS to follow English example
Scotland’s health service is to adopt English style reform in a bid to tackle waiting lists, it was revealed today.

Tony Blair has repeatedly cited the failures of the Scottish NHS in highlighting the success of reform in England.

First Minister Jack McConnell will impose an internal market system on the Scottish NHS, using national tariffs for each operation in a bid to eliminate the stark difference in charging by hospitals carrying out the same procedure.

It is believed the reforms will be phased in slowly but could be underway as early as spring next year in a move likely to be met with strong opposition in the Scottish Parliament.

Under the new scheme, hospitals will adhere strictly to the tariff set for each procedure in order to make clear the real cost of NHS treatment.

The costs will be made public, revealing inefficient and overcharging hospitals, and allowing private clinics to provide services if they can better the NHS tariff.

Scotland’s Health Minister Andy Kerr said the move would allow comparisons of cost and performance both between hospitals and with private healthcare providers.

The system will put more pressure on Scotland’s hospitals to reduce waiting lists or face having their patients transferred to a private clinic that meets NHS financial and quality standards.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2005 11:20
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Nurses ask for protection from violence
Nurses have called on the main political parties to do more to tackle the increasing levels of violence against NHS staff.

Speaking at the Royal College of Nursing’s annual conference, delegates called for attacks on hospital staff to carry the same punishment as assaults on police officers.

They asked politicians to make a clear statement that violence against workers delivering a public service would not be tolerated.

National figures show that NHS staff suffered more than 116,000 violent attacks last year while a conference survey suggested 64 per cent of delegates had been attacked.

The conference heard how one nurse, Amy Gold, had been stabbed with a syringe leaving her with long-term nerve damage and psychological problems that nearly ended her career.

Health spokesmen from the tree main political parties addressed the conference and promised to tackle the issue of violence against nurses.

Health minister John Hutton said the Government would bring more prosecutions with the NHS Security Management service using the Crown Prosecution Service and police or, if needed, private prosecutions.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said a Conservative government would make attacks on NHS staff aggravated offences with tougher penalties but would consult on whether such attacks would be arrestable crimes.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Paul Burstow promised legislation with consultation on the technicalities.

Yesterday it was revealed that nursing recruitment would soon have to double just to maintain current staffing levels. Violence in the workplace was one of the main reasons cited for nurses leaving the profession.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2005 10:39
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Nurses urge euthanasia law change
Nurses have used the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) annual conference to call for a rethink on euthanasia laws.

Speakers at yesterday’s conference argued in favour of terminally ill patients having the right to decide how and when to end their lives.

They said the RCN’s opposition to allowing terminally ill adults to be assisted in taking their own life was based on the false assumptions that terminal patients do not experience extreme suffering and those family members and health workers do not break the law and help them to die.

But the RCN said it would not be changing its opposition to euthanasia and claimed 70 per cent of nurses were against assisted dying.

Voluntary euthanasia is where someone, with the patients consent, helps to administer lethal medication when the patient is too ill to do so.

Other nurses at the conference said patients should not be helped to die but needed better access to quality care.

Only weeks ago, a House of Lords select committee requested a parliamentary debate on legalising assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.

Lord Joffe’s Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill proposed that the law be changed. The committee was split and time ran out in the last Parliament.

However, Lord Joffe has indicated that he will reintroduce the Bill in the next Parliament.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2005 10:23
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
£10 million plan to fight MRSA
The Conservatives have unveiled a £10 million plan to fight methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) the hospital superbug.

Tory leader Michael Howard said the money would enable all NHS hospital trusts to implement state-of-the-art technology to identify MRSA by nasal swab testing "in a matter of hours as opposed to days".

Speaking at the Conservatives' media conference in London, Mr Howard said: "In the fourth richest country in the world, more people die from infections they've picked up in hospitals than they do on our roads. That's 5,000 deaths each year; each death a tragedy for a family."

He said the 10-point action plan had at its heart "a commitment to give power to doctors, nurses and local professionals. They should run our hospitals, not bureaucrats sitting in Whitehall".

The Tory leader went on: "Doctors and nurses know best how to care for the sick and to cure the ill.

"A Conservative government will trust them to exercise their judgment - not second-guess them at every turn with targets and initiatives.

"We'll bring back matrons - giving them the power to shut hospital wards and operating theatres that are infected with the superbug if they think that is what's needed.

"We'll expect hospital trusts to commit to high standards because we believe you cannot manage a problem without having clear standards”.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2005 10:01
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Prozac for children to be banned
The European Medicines Agency have done a review on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), two classes of antidepressants they have concluded that this group of drugs should not be prescribed for children or adolescents as it can make some children and adolescents feel suicidal or become hostile and aggressive.

They have recommended that Prozac should not be given to children or adolescents Prozac is the only antidepressant that doctors can prescribe to children in Britain, following a safety review in 2003, Prozac was singled out by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as the only one of the modern generation of antidepressants that was effective and safe for children. All others were banned for children in December 2003.

The European decision has put doctors in a bigger quandary than before. Those who were convinced that antidepressants worked in children would have prescribed Prozac but GPs and psychiatrists will have problems offering anything else, because there is a serious shortage of alternatives. There are long waiting lists for the so-called "talking therapies" because of shortages of funds and counselling staff.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2005 09:24
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Mentally ill missing out
In a report, Action Stations, by Rethink a mental health charity they claim that a vast amount of mentally ill patients in the Britain are being denied access to the care they need.

In the report it shows up to 50,000 patients have been ignored or forgotten and they have been left behind by mainstream mental health services.

Rethink estimates that one in four and one in three people claim that they have been turned away from health or social care services when seeking help in the last three years. On average, it can take 18 months to receive specialist help for a first episode of schizophrenia.

Chief executive Cliff Prior said mental health patients wanted to be "remembered, seen and heard".

"They want to take greater control over their lives and should be offered real choice and effective involvement in planning their mental health care”.

Richard Brook, chief executive of Mind, said: "We feel the crucial action now required to bring about change is to seize the political agenda - to move forward with the next Government to achieve proper mental health funding and service provision”.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Paul Burstow said the needs of people with severe mental illness had been "shamefully neglected".

"A government obsessed with targets and headline statistics has ignored the plight of thousands of people with mental illness which should be treated as seriously as physical illnesses.

"The Liberal Democrats would ensure that organisations work together to fit services around people's lives, rather than forcing people to fit their lives around the services they need”.

Shadow Health Minister Tim Loughton said: "Conservative pledges on Mental Health will make sure it's no longer the poor relation in the NHS.

"£3.5 billion of the extra £34 billion invested in health a year by 2010 will go to mental health.

"Our choice agenda will make sure patients have more power to access appropriate mental health treatment faster, rather than relying on drugs”.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton said: "The Labour government has spent an additional £728million on mental health services in last three years.

"We've particularly focussed on employing new teams working in the community to help people with long term mental health conditions stay in their own homes and developing pathways to work and education to reduce stigma and discrimination to help people get back to work.

"Because we realise prevention is as important as cure we also placed a heavy emphasis on helping people stay healthy”.

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Monday, 25 April 2005 13:11
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Scan reveals unconscious thoughts
Scientists from University College London (UCL) have discovered a way of reading a person’s thoughts using functional MRI scans.

In the study published in Nature Neuroscience, the UCL team found they could predict which of two objects a volunteer was viewing using brief recordings of brain activity.

UCL researchers used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to measure activity in the brain’s visual cortex while volunteers viewed a grating slanted to the left or the right.

A single two-second measurement was enough to allow scientists to predict with 80 per cent accuracy which of the two orientations of grating the volunteer was viewing.

Dr Geriant Rees from UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience said: “This approach is the first basic step toward reading somebody’s mind. If our approach could be expanded upon, it might be possible to predict what someone was thinking or seeing from their brain activity alone.

“Our study also shows that an object can be registered subliminally by the brain even when the individual is not conscious of it.”

Experts now think the technique could be used to find out people’s personality traits such as fears, phobias and prejudices.

Dr Rees added: “In principle, the technique could be applied to a device such as a lie detector but much more research would be needed. You would need to explore which regions of the brain might predict whether someone was lying.

“These could be very different to the visual cortex and might not carry strong enough signals”.

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