£26,000 Payout after Officialdom Walks Over Pensioner and Family

The Government has been heavily criticised after a series of blunders left an elderly pensioner £26,000 worse off.

The Pension Service – part of the Department for Work and Pensions – failed to send a computerised prompt to the woman’s council that would have automatically triggered  a housing benefit claim she was entitled to. Her family who are from Essex, discovered the mistake, but were forced to spend five years battling with government officials from the Pension Service who, according to the family, had refused to correct the problem.

The Pension Service did not look at the complaint until the woman died, aged 90, and then it refused to compensate the family. The service said she had died before it had had time to consider the complaint. However, it was the agency’s own officials who had refused to deal with the complaint while she was alive, the family said.

The DWP fell back on “policy” which the pension service wrongly claimed prevented it from compensating the next of kin of people who had died. The Independent Case Examiner investigated the complaint but, to the family’s astonishment, upheld the department’s decision.

Eventually, the family turned to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, which put things right, forcing the DWP to hand over the money owed plus compensation for its mistakes.Parliamentary and Health Service OmbudsmanThe Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor, said: “An elderly woman and her family were let down because of service failure and poor complaint handling.

“Our investigation upheld the complaint and recommended that both the Department for Work and Pensions and the Independent Case Examiner apologise to the family and pay her family the £26,514 plus interest that she was owed.”

The DWP also agreed to pay the family £1,000 as an apology for its mistakes, while the Independent Case Examiner paid them £250 for its part in the debacle

Read. S 2015 The Independent Daily Briefing  27/02/2015  P. 7

“This family were determined not to be ‘walked on’, as so many are, and got justice. These officials believe they are untouchable – and the country stinks with them.”

The Bed Manager – Does Job Description=”The Job”

Although quite ill recently and on a NHS ward I had no problem in “clocking onto” the bed manager. She appeared more animated than all other ward staff and the giveaway was complete as the names of each patient on the wall being each bed was quickly viewed – we seemed not to be there. Low and behold within 20 minutes myself and three other patients had been moved to a short stay ward – we had to queue to get in as we were just dumped at the nursing station.

Below is just part of a typical bed manager’s job description:

Clinical Site Practitioners
Matron/Divisional Manager for Medicine/ Head of Nursing

POST SUMMARY: The post holder will be a qualified nurse and registered with the Nursing and midwifery Council with an up to date PIN number.

The post holder will be a member of the clinical, mobile bed management team responsible for the Trusts bed complement.

The team is responsible for placing the right patients in the right place at the right time, maintaining Government targets relating to trolley waits in the ED, minimising the short notice cancellations of elective admissions and single sex accommodation allocation. They will be proactive in the application of discharge plans for patients.

The post holder will develop good working relationships with staff on the wards and in ED to ensure the effective utilisation of available beds.

The post holder will be offered three weeks training from the Clinical Site practitioners

Bed Management Responsibilities:

The post holder will be responsible for the allocation of all emergency and elective admissions across the Trust, ensuring safe and appropriate patient placement with the supervision of the Clinical Site practitioners / Matron.

The post holder will be required to balance the demand for emergency admissions against an optimal level of elective activity.

The post holder will be responsible for the allocation of all patients on the medical assessment, using the “Trust patient Movement Policy”.

The post holder will be expected to support the Clinical Site Practitioners in the co-ordination of Major and Serious untoward Incidents as required.

The post holder will work closely with the Clinical Site Practitioners to ensure seem-less 24-hour bed management service.

Monitor outlier level and repatriate all outlying patients as soon as possible, taking into account the continuity of care.

Maintain an accurate bed state, including updating Patient Administration system and Patient Tracking.

Ensure the timely and accurate completion of data relating to bed utilisation is available for the daily and weekly sitrep reports.

The post holder will contribute to the overall good of the organisation by being a positive role model and to treat all staff, visitors and service users with courtesy.

It is expected that the post holder will be able to carry out all of the duties listed. The duties will vary from Department to wards and they may carry out other similar duties in support of the ward environment that are not listed.

No duties are to be undertaken by the post holder unless they have received the appropriate training. The post holder will be continually supervised and supported by the Matron and Clinical Site Practitioners.

Clinical Responsibilities:

The post holder will be expected to regularly communicate with the wards, and support junior nurses co-ordinating the admission and transfer of patients.

The post holder will have a ‘hands on’ approach in assessing and evaluating patients care prior to transferring to the appropriate area for the patient’s condition.

The post holder will encourage and promote the use of evidence based clinical nursing practice.

The post holder will continue to develop their cannulation and venepuncture skills in line with Trust guidelines.

The post holder will act as a positive role model.

The post holder will maintain a flexible approach to working hours in order to meet the needs of the service.

The post holder will work closely with the ED Department Shift Leader to the safe and appropriate allocation of all emergency patients allocation.

The post holder will be offered training in all areas listed above.

Bed Manager“I’m sorry that this may seem irrelevent to some.

To me it’s a joke and epitomises the mess our hospitals are in. Seeing is believing”

Croc Attacks – Snakes – Reptiles – A&E do have some variety !!

Three people bitten or struck by a crocodile or alligator were treated in hospital in England last year.

And another 74 were injured after getting to close to poisonous snakes, lizards and spiders.dangerous creaturesBee, wasp or hornet stings led to 1,170 visiting A&E, and two people were injured by scorpions between 2013-2014, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Rat bites accounted for another 37 admissions with 338 people injured by spiky or sharp plants.

Daily Mirror 26/02/2015 P.4

“The report didn’t say if the offenders were still attached to the victim !!”

£6bn NHS and Social Care Budgets in Greater Manchester Devolved to Councils and Health Bodies

The Independent is highlighting a ground-breaking plan to devolve the £6bn NHS and social care budget in Greater Manchester to the regions councils and health bodies could become the model for many parts of England.

The shake-up is expected to be announced tomorrow, would break down barriers between hospitals and care in the community to ensure a “joined-up” service for patients.

The rising elderly population has put huge pressure on hospitals, which often cannot discharge old people because of a lack of social care provided by cash-strapped local authorities hit by spending cuts.

The Greater Manchester blueprint is part of George Osborne’s vision of a “northern powerhouse” under which a directly elected mayor in Greater Manchester will enjoy new powers such as over housing and transport from 2017. It could allow the Conservatives to trump Labour’s  flagship plan to integrate health and social care.

The Chancellor’s growing partnership with the region’s Labour council leaders is embarrassing for the party’s national leadership.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said: “Labour talks about integration but did nothing in 13 years in power. Now this Government is doing it for real.”

A new board of health and council officials would oversee the combined budgets of NHS England, 12 GP-led clinical commissioning groups and the social care provided by 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester.

The proposed system, which could take two years to bring in, would be similar to the integrated one in Northern Ireland and the one being introduced in Scotland.

Similar offers of NHS autonomy could be made in Birmingham and Bristol, the North-east region and north London.

Richard Humphries, assistant director of the King’s Fund think-tank, said the Manchester plan was “the right direction of travel” but warned it could mean more organisational change, which he said the NHS “needs like a hole in the head”.

He  told politicians not to assume integration would save money. “You might get people out of hospital quicker because of joint working with social care, but you’re not saving any money because the next patient is ready to jump into the bed,” he said.

A sign of the potential hurdles ahead came in a critical report today by the Commons Public Accounts Committee on the trouble-hit Better Care Fund which pools hospital and social care budgets. It said the planning for the fund was “deeply flawed” and that only £55m of the £1bn savings expected by the government was realised.

The fund has now been redesigned and in the financial year starting in April £5.3bn of pooled spending is due to save £532m. But Margaret Hodge, the committee’s Labour chairman, said it was “not convinced” that emergency hospital admissions and delayed discharges could be reduced to achieve such savings.

Mr Osborne hailed the Greater Manchester scheme as “a very exciting development” but dismissed suggestions that it would undermine a national health service.

Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, appeared to back the deal but Andy Burnham, the shadow Health Secretary, did not, saying: “If you’re going to stick to the idea of a national health service you can’t have a Swiss cheese NHS where some bits of the system are operating to different rules or have different powers and freedoms.”

Grice A. Cooper C. 2015 The Independent Daily Briefing 26/02/2015 P. 4

“This scheme will cost £millions if not £billions to put in place with any appreciable gains unknown.

We have left ourselves in a “right pickle” through seeing the problems looming for years and doing nothing to address them.

Our manufacturing base was decimated through lack of investment and foresight and now we are hitting seemingly insurmountable problems with our health and social care systems for the same reasons.”

NHS “sell-off” not to far away – contracts to be publicised

The Government was yesterday exposed for secretly trying to accelerate NHS privatisation.

New regulations tabled in Parliament on February 6 – just before recess – force organisations to publicise contracts worth £625,000 or more they put out to tender across Europe. Private firms such as Virgin Care and Ramsay Health Care, would be eligible to bid.

The rule could apply to thousands of deals advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Currently they only have to be advertised if there is a cross-border interest.

Dr Clive Peedel, of the National Health Action party, said: “This couldn’t be clearer confirmation, this government is hell-bent on accelerating the privatisation of NHS services.”

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham yesterday told MPs privatisation “could get much worse” as a result and pledged to repeal the rule if Labour was elected in May.

The Department of Health said: “Local doctors decide if big contracts go to tender or not, but if they do, they need to publicise it.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has denied claims the Government is privatising the NHS.

Gregory. A 2015 Daily Mirror 25/02/2015 ~P. 4

“Don’t believe a word of the spin and rhetoric being spouted by senior ministers and MPs before this election. Our NHS is going to go through cataclysmic changes in the next few years and be worried, be very worried.”

Mother Found Dead After Ambulance Turns Back – Help Arrives 10 Hours Late

Tragic story by John Chapman in the Daily Express of how a distraught son has told  how he found his mother dead on her living room floor nearly 10 hours after an ambulance was sent to her home.

Ann Walters, who had a hole in her heart, dialled  the NHS 111 line seeking medical help and her case was categorised as an emergency and passed on to the 999 service.

An ambulance was sent to her home but was turned back when it was just four minutes away.Ambulance ImageHer son Lawrence, 24, found Ann, 61, dead from cardiac failure at her home in Portsmouth, Hants, almost 10 hours later.

He checked his mother’s phone log and discovered she had called the NHS 111 line at 8.25am.

A GP turned up at 8.30pm, more than 12 hours after her call.

South Central Ambulance Service said it had launched two investigations into the tragedy on December 28 last year.

One will focus on why the ambulance was called back and the other on why it took so long for an out-of-hour GP to attend.

Lawrence, a teacher said: “Knowing there was an ambulance minutes away from reaching my mum, I believe it could have saved her life. I’m infuriated that she called for help and no help came.

“Instead I was left to find my mother dead and my sister Felicity was robbed of her chance to say goodbye.”

An ambulance spokesman apologised to Ann’s family and said “all aspects” of the response to her 999 call would be examined.

He added: “As the investigation is still ongoing we are unable to comment further.”

“How on earth was no “Red Flag” system in place to at least keep the situation active. It beggars belief she was left to die alone. Her children will feel robbed of the chance, perhaps, to be with her at the end – and that’s precious.”

Universal Credit Bill Exceeds £700 Million

The Government’s flagship Universal Credit has come under fresh attack after MPs said “very little progress” had been achieved though £700 million had been spent on the scheme since it began five years ago.

The Public Accounts Committee said that by October last year fewer than 18,000 people were claiming the credit, which replaces six mean-tested benefits, out of about seven million expected in the long term just 0.3% of the eligible population.

Universal CreditsThe committee made a series of recommendations, including urging the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to set out clearly what it has gained from it’s spending so far.

The MPs noted that the DWP had justified spending such large amounts on the promise of future benefits, such as higher employment.

A DWP spokesman said: “Universal Credit” is on track and we are making good progress – almost 64,000 people have made a claim and this time next year UC will be in very Jobcentre in the country. Using existing IT ensures value for money and will save the taxpayer over £2bn.”

Jones. A 2015 The Independent 25/02/2015 P. 6

“It would be nice to see the components of the £2bn savings”

Rise in Male Suicides – ‘Linked to Austerity’

Awfully sad and depressing statistics show more men are taking their own lives than at any time since 2001, with the highest suicide rates occurring in deprived areas amid growing evidence of the link between austerity and suicide.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 6,233 people aged over 15 killed themselves in 2013, a 4 per cent increase on the previous year. The  male suicide rate was more than three times higher than the female rate, with 19 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 5.1 for women.

Female suicide rates have remained stable, but the male rate was the highest in 12 years. Men aged 45 to 59 had the highest rate, at 25.1 per 100,000.

Suicidal manIn Wales, 26 men in every 100,000 took their lives, and in the North-East of England, where ONS statistics also reveal an unemployment rate of more than 10 per cent – 22 men per 100.000 killed themselves. London had the lowest overall suicide rate at 7.9.

The ONS reported that analysis of the annual suicide rates “suggested that the recent recession in the UK could be an influencing factor in the increase in suicides”, as areas with greater rises in unemployment also experienced high rises in male suicides.

Dr Carl Walker, a Brighton University psychologist and founder of the campaign group Psychologists Against Austerity, said government cuts were affecting the mental wellbeing of people in deprived areas. “There is a clear link between, not just unemployment, but poor employment and underemployment and suicide and a range of mental health problems.”

Joe Ferns, executive director of policy at the Samaritans, said: “The social impact of economic recession lasts a lot longer than the financial impact.” He called for everyone to take responsibility for preventing suicide: “You have got to get all parts of government and all parts of society to think about what they can be doing.”

A government spokesman said; “Our suicide prevention strategy is backed by £1.5m funding for research, and we’ve set a zero suicide ambition to tackle the assumption that some suicides are inevitable.”

Fearn. H 2015 The Independent 20/02/2015 P. 22

“These figures are a damning indictment of the failure of our society, in 2015, to improve the lot of the poorer and less privileged members of our ilk. We should all feel saddened that it is a depressed nation causing so many of these deaths.”

Let patients ‘buy better care on NHS’

Patients should be able to top-up their NHS treatment with small monthly payments in return for an ‘enhanced’ service, a report suggests.

Allowing people who can afford it to invest extra money would raise billions of pounds and give all patients a better healthcare experience, the authors say.

National Health ServiceThose who choose to pay – a sum starting from £100 per year for someone on a wage of £20,000 – would still receive the standard service in NHS hospitals and clinics.

But by voluntarily paying extra they could avoid long waiting times for procedures and seek treatment anywhere in the country, according to the report by think-tank Civitas.

The authors, NHS consultant Dr Christopher Lees and researcher Edmund Stubbs, argue the scheme would alleviate the stress on the health service and offset the need for higher taxes across the board.

They say polls show there is a ‘public appetite’ for increased contributions to the health service. The proposal would create a two-tier system, as the authors acknowledge, but they say this has already been created by the advent of private healthcare.

Credits – Daily Mail 20/02/2015 P. 10

“I’m getting a quite sickly healthcare experience from this report. If you like the idea you can choose from the standard, gold or platinum policy!!!”

‘Shocking’ report on NHS – remains unpublished

Most national media sources this week have run the story of how a “totally shocking” report by one of the country’s most respected businessmen into how the NHS is run was handed into the Department of Health before Christmas – but has still not been published by the Government.

The withering assessment of NHS management by the Conservative peer Lord Rose, who is credited with turning around the fortunes of Marks & Spencer, is understood to paint a damaging picture of a culture in which mediocre managers can move around within the NHS without being held to account, while those who are successful go unrewarded.

Lord RoseLord Rose was appointed to carry out the review in February last year by Jeremy hunt, the Health Secretary.

One person who has seen the report told the Financial Times that Lord Rose, now chairman of online supermarket Ocado, had found the overall standard of much NHS management to be “totally shocking”.

Labour called for the report to be published before the election. The Department of Health said the Government would be releasing the findings “in due course”.

Green. C 2015 The Independent 18/02/2015 P. 6

“It seems our NHS is beyond saving and will be unrecognisable “in due course”. “