Monday, August 28, 2006


More than 300 babies a year are being left with brain damage because of oxygen starvation caused by lack of proper care at birth. The National Health Service litigation authority, which handles damages claims from hospital patients, has for the first time released data from every hospital in England showing the number of babies damaged by botched deliveries. The accidents are being blamed on staff shortages leading to inadequate monitoring.

In the 12 months to April more than 300 families began legal action for severe injuries suffered by their babies. In most cases the damage means children are unable to walk, talk, feed themselves or have any hope of independent life. In the same period medical staff reported a further 174 incidents through a system to help budget for legal claims.

Legal costs and damages for victims reached a high of nearly 175m pounds in the last financial year, but the real costs are said to be much higher because special education, nursing care, continuing health problems and social services are not included. In the five years covered by the data there were 2,763 claims. Of the total, 6%-10% are estimated to be from mothers whose reproductive organs were damaged. Another small group relates to failures to diagnose conditions such as Down's syndrome. Most are children whose brain damage was caused because hospital staff did not deliver them fast enough when the babies were suffering oxygen deprivation.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, come days after a report condemned childbirth services at Northwick Park hospital near Harrow, northwest London, for failures that led to 10 new mothers dying between 2002 and 2005. The new figures show the Northwick tragedies are not an isolated problem.

Jane Rodrigues, 34, from Dartford, Kent, blames the damage suffered by her two-year-old son Louis on the fact that midwives had failed to recognise that her 4ft 10in frame would have difficulty delivering the 10lb baby she was about to produce. She almost bled to death when her uterus ruptured. Her baby was classed as stillborn but was resuscitated.

He has been left mentally handicapped, unable to walk or talk. "I am sad and angry for him," she said. "He is going to be dependent on other people for the rest of his life." She is pursuing a complaint against Darent Valley hospital in Dartford. The trust has apologised but denies liability.

The cost of such accidents is exemplified by cases such as that of Nathan Hughes. In May he was finally awarded 1.65m pounds, plus 315,000 pounds a year for life, to pay for his needs because the medical team delivering him 14 years ago at Rush Green hospital, northeast London, failed to notice he was being strangled by his umbilical cord. "These disasters happen again and again," said Eve, his mother. "I found out later that the hospital where he was born was known by doctors as the `spastics factory' because of the number of birth injuries."

Others believe the real number of children affected is even higher than the statistics show. "I have certainly met people with damaged babies who have said they don't have the strength to take on the NHS," said Karita Massara, whose son Jack, 9, was awarded 850,000 pounds this year for injuries suffered during a botched delivery at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital, London. "When you are looking after a disabled child, it is physically and emotionally exhausting."

Scope, the charity that works for cerebral palsy sufferers, estimates that up to 13,000 people or 10% of Britons affected by this form of brain damage suffered avoidable birth trauma.

More here

Australia: Underqualified nurses recruited by a desperate government hospital

Hundreds of British nurses due to start work in Queensland hospitals as soon as October may be not be up to scratch by standards here.

In a massive recruitment drive, executives from Cairns Base Hospital are scouring Britain for nurses, offering thousands of dollars in relocation assistance. And they say they'll take on anyone who applies. "There's no way I'll be turning anyone away," Cairns Base Hospital nursing director Glynda Summers said.

However, a former Cairns Base nurse who now works in the UK said British nursing standards were not a patch on those practised in Australian hospitals. She said many of the British nurses would not have had the same basic training. Skills such as intravenous drug administration, catheterisation and the use of cardiographs were standard requirements for Australian nurses, but in Britain they were considered extra qualifications. "Most of them won't have that training. Basically, skill levels are much lower," she said.

The nurse said she believed many of the workers entering Queensland hospitals would be those deemed not good enough for the British National Health Service. "Many new recruits may fall short of the proficiency mark," said the nurse, 40, who did not wish to be named. "The British National Health Service has drastically reduced the number of nursing positions, but it would be fair to say any good practitioner who wanted to remain working in the UK wouldn't have a problem. "There will be a few who want a lifestyle change, but what about the others?"

After placing advertisements in the UK press, Ms Summers leaves for Britain tomorrow with nurse manager Denise Wilds and intensive care nurse Carol Martheze on a three-week recruitment campaign. "We'll take them all. The opportunities are limitless because we're recruiting for the state," Ms Summers said. A Cairns Base Hospital statement said more than 180 applications had already been received. The hospital has 51 nursing vacancies and a further 90 nursing jobs expected to open up soon. Telephone interviews have been conducted and new recruits had been enticed with packages including $3000 toward relocation costs, visa application expenses, salaries of up to $53,000 and free medical cover.

Admitting she was capitalising on widespread nursing job losses throughout Britain, Ms Summers said: "Why not?" "It's good for us and it's good for the nurses who don't have jobs." A Queensland Health spokesperson said all checks and procedures would be followed before applicants could register with the Queensland Nursing Council.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

Comments? Email me here. If there are no recent posts here, the mirror site may be more up to date. My Home Page is here or here.


No comments: