Thursday, August 27, 2009

The babies born in British hospital corridors: Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets

Thousands of women are having to give birth outside maternity wards because of a lack of midwives and hospital beds. The lives of mothers and babies are being put at risk as births in locations ranging from lifts to toilets - even a caravan - went up 15 per cent last year to almost 4,000.

Health chiefs admit a lack of maternity beds is partly to blame for the crisis, with hundreds of women in labour being turned away from hospitals because they are full. Additionally, overstretched maternity units shut their doors to any more women in labour on 553 occasions last year.

Babies were born in offices, lifts, toilets and a caravan, according to the Freedom of Information data for 2007 and 2008 from 117 out of 147 trusts which provide maternity services. One woman gave birth in a lift while being transferred to a labour ward from A&E while another gave birth in a corridor, said East Cheshire NHS Trust. Others said women had to give birth on the wards - rather than in their own maternity room - because the delivery suites were full.

Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley, who obtained the figures, said Labour had cut maternity beds by 2,340, or 22 per cent, since 1997. At the same time birth rates have been rising sharply - up 20 per cent in some areas. Mr Lansley said: 'New mothers should not be being put through the trauma of having to give birth in such inappropriate places. 'While some will be unavoidable emergencies, it is extremely distressing for them and their families to be denied a labour bed because their maternity unit is full. 'It shows the incredible waste that has taken place that mothers are getting this sort of sub-standard treatment despite Gordon Brown's tripling of spending on the NHS. 'Labour have let down mothers by cutting the number of maternity beds and by shutting down maternity units.'

The NHS employs the equivalent of around 25,000 full-time midwives in England, but the Government has promised to recruit 3,400 more. However, the Royal College of Midwives estimates at least 5,000 more are needed to provide the quality of service pledged in the Government's blueprint for maternity services, Maternity Matters. At the same time almost half of all midwives are set to retire in the next decade.

Jon Skewes, a director at the Royal College of Midwives, said: 'The rise in the number of births in other than a designated labour bed is a concern. We would want to see the detail behind these figures to look at why this is happening. 'There is no doubt that maternity services are stretched, and that midwives are working harder and harder to provide good quality care. However, we know the Government is putting more money into the service. 'The key now is to make sure this money is spent by the people controlling the purse strings at a local level.'

Care services minister Phil Hope said: 'The number of maternity beds in the NHS reflects the number of women wanting to give birth in hospital. Giving birth can be unpredictable and it is difficult to plan for the exact time and place of every birth. 'Local health services have plans to ensure high quality, personal care with greater choice over place of birth and care provided by a named midwife. 'We recognise that some parts of the country face particular challenges due to the rising birth rate and that is why last year we pledged to increase funding for maternity by £330million over three years. 'We now have more maternity staff than ever before and we have already met our target to recruit 1,000 extra midwives by September.' [Blah, blah, blah!]

Pregnant Linda Corbett, 33, was turned away from one hospital and gave birth in a car as she dashed to another. Her husband Chris, 39, delivered their daughter Iona in the back seat while her father raced to the hospital at 70mph. 'I was really scared but I had to hold it together as I was the only one who knew the way to the hospital,' she said. 'The baby was born just as we entered the car park.'

Mrs Corbett was due to give birth at her Brighton home in June last year but when she phoned the Royal Sussex County Hospital after her contractions started she was told the maternity unit was too busy to send a midwife to her. When she phoned back later, she was told the unit was full and she would have to go to another hospital. Fifteen minutes later she gave birth. She said: 'We had such a happy ending but it could have been a disaster.'


Man collapses with ruptured appendix... three weeks after NHS doctors 'took it out'

This could well have been fatal

After weeks of excruciating pain, Mark Wattson was understandably relieved to have his appendix taken out. Doctors told him the operation was a success and he was sent home. But only a month later the 35-year-old collapsed in agony and had to be taken back to Great Western Hospital in Swindon by ambulance.

To his shock, surgeons from the same team told him that not only was his appendix still inside him, but it had ruptured - a potentially fatal complication. In a second operation it was finally removed, leaving Mr Wattson fearing another organ might have been taken out during the first procedure.

The blunder has left Mr Wattson jobless, as bosses at the shop where he worked did not believe his story and sacked him.

Mr Wattson told of the moment he realised there had been a serious mistake. 'I was lying on a stretcher in terrible pain and a doctor came up to me and said that my appendix had burst,' he said. 'I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I told these people I had my appendix out just four weeks earlier but there it was on the scanner screen for all to see. 'I thought, "What the hell did they slice me open for in the first place?" 'I feel that if the surgery had been done correctly in the first place I wouldn't be in the mess I am today. I'm disgusted by the whole experience.'

Mr Wattson first went under the knife on July 7 after experiencing severe abdominal pain for several weeks. He was discharged but exactly a month later he had to dial 999 after collapsing in agony.

Following the second operation his incision became infected and he was admitted to hospital for a third time for treatment.

He said: 'I had a temporary job at a sports shop but when I took in two medical certificates saying I had my appendix out twice they didn't believe me. 'Now I'm helpless. I can't go out and find a job, I can't go to interviews, I can barely walk and am in constant pain. Before the first operation they told me I had to have my appendix removed and when I woke up afterwards they said it had been a complete success. 'But then I keeled over in agony one month later and when they did some tests at the hospital we could see the appendix was still there on the scans. 'As far as I was aware they took my appendix out and no one told me any different. 'I have no idea what they did take out, but I want to find out what went wrong.'

A spokesman for Great Western Hospital confirmed that a representative had met Mr Wattson and that an investigation had been started. He was unable to confirm what, if anything, was removed in the first operation. Paul Gearing, deputy general manager for general surgery at Great Western Hospital NHS Trust, said: 'We are unable to comment on individual cases. 'However, we would like to apologise if Mr Wattson felt dissatisfied with the care he received at Great Western Hospital.' [IF he felt dissatisfied??? What a bureaucratic sh*t!]


Australia: A public hospital for possums??

THIS photograph was taken in the intensive care unit at the ailing Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital. Staff found the brush-tailed possum sitting among open boxes of face masks, gloves and surgical sponges, its faeces scattered across the counter. It was sent to the Herald only days after one of the state's most senior health bureaucrats denied claims the hospital had a big problem with possums, known to spread deadly golden staph and e.coli infections. The photo was taken in 2005 but staff say possums have been plaguing the hospital for more than a decade and are removed weekly from wards and offices.

Desperate for help, they sent the picture to the Health Department at the time it was taken but the warning went unheeded. And one senior official used it as a point of laughter to show visitors to his office. After the possum was found, staff in the intensive care unit locked up medical supplies but say maintenance workers regularly move the animals to boxes in trees within the grounds. ''The one in the intensive care unit is not an isolated case. It's par for the course around here,'' one doctor said.

Possums, which have a lifespan of 15 years, can carry deadly diseases easily transmitted to humans, including Lyme disease, leptospirosis, rickettsia and mycobacteriosis, which can cause abscesses, fistulas, headaches, vomiting and renal failure. Their faeces can carry the gut parasite cryptosporidium and their urine can cause breathing problems for asthmatics.

Any animal in a hospital was a health risk but some, such as possums, were known to spread superbugs such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, said an infectious diseases expert at Canberra Hospital, Peter Collignon. ''Allowing a wild animal, which scavenges far and wide, to contaminate gloves and surgical equipment is obviously a real problem.''

The chief executive of the Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service, Matthew Daly, last week rejected allegations that the hospital had been neglected but did not deny continuing possum problems. All reports of possum urine had been addressed, he said. ''Possum nests were in a derelict buildings and were subsequently removed,'' he said.

Up to six possums might live in the roof space of a family home, but more than 25 would probably be found in a hospital, said David Bennett, the owner of a possum removal service in Adelaide. ''You definitely wouldn't want them in a hospital. And unless you get an expert in, there is no way to keep them out. They are highly territorial and will immediately return to where they were.''

A spokeswoman for the area health service said yesterday the present management was not aware of the photo and an inspection of the hospital last week found no evidence of possums in wards or patient areas. ''All such reports are taken seriously and are dealt with at the time,'' she said. [What utter bulldust! A problem known since 2005 has still not been dealt with]


Australia: One reason why dental bills are so high

Official regulations make dentists pay sky-high prices for the equipment and supplies that they use

DENTISTS are allegedly being shown how to access unregulated overseas markets to obtain cut-price dental equipment which is not being scrutinised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The Port Macquarie dentist Jeremy Rourke conducted a series of capital city seminars in May, titled ''Work SMART = Grow RICH: Profiting from every minute''.

He charged dentists $770 each for the one-day course, promising to show participants ''how it is possible to 'DOUBLE production and TRIPLE profitability''.

Although the Herald is not suggesting Dr Rourke is acting illegally, one professional who attended a Sydney seminar on May 18 told the Herald she became angry and walked out when he began showing participants how to access sites such as Made in and eBay, where dentists could directly import dental equipment and materials for a fraction of the price of Australian-made goods.

Under TGA regulations, all dental products and materials, local or imported, must be listed on its register before they can be used on patients. But concerns have been raised by the dental supplies industry that the practice of dentists accessing unregistered products from unregulated Asian markets has become widespread.

Raymond Shroot, the NSW president of the Australian Dental Industry Association, which represents suppliers of dental equipment, said anyone seeking to import a medical device could easily bypass the TGA's scrutiny, because there was no requirement for the importer to quote an Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods listing number.

''To get anything that is listed with the TGA through customs you should have to quote that number on the customs clearance form, but that hasn't been the case,'' Mr Shroot said. ''We've been told the TGA is unwilling to changes its practices.''

Dr Rourke told the Herald he had done nothing illegal. ''I simply tell dentists there are websites where there are items available but I make them aware that anything used in patient treatment has to go past the TGA.''

Dr Rourke denied that by showing dentists how to access cut-price unregulated equipment, he was educating them on how to avoid TGA regulations. ''You can show someone where the murder section of a library is, but that doesn't make you a murderer because you've shown them where to get the information, does it?''

The Australian Dental Association has dismissed concerns raised by the local dental supplies industry, accusing it of scaremongering to protect its business. When asked last week if he was aware of any dentists importing equipment not listed with the TGA, the national president of the association, Dr Neil Hewson, said: ''I've got no idea, how would anyone know they're doing it … we can't monitor everything our 10,000 members do.''


Democrats fall over themselves to whitewash Cuba but how would they like Cuba's socialized medicine?

And as tourists with hard currency to spend these people would have got top notch treatment by Cuban standards

A top Manchester cop and his young daughter were held in a `diabolical' Cuban hospital for FOUR days - because airport officials thought she had swine flu.

Det Chief Insp Pete Marsh, 47, spent £4,000 treating his wife and two children to a dream holiday. But it became a nightmare when a thermal camera showed daughter Bethany, 12, had a high temperature. She was rushed to a ramshackle hospital - with Pete insisting he went along too. They were put in a room with bars on the windows and no running water - and forbidden to leave. They only got out when Pete, of the Wythenshawe major incident team, told staff they would have to arrest him to make them stay. Now they are back at their hotel with the rest of the family - but claim the holiday has been ruined.

"The conditions were absolutely diabolical," Pete, from Stockport, said from Cuba. "It has been a terrible experience. Bethany was really frightened the first night because of the way they responded even though there was nothing wrong with her. She kept asking: ‘Am I going to die?’ We weren’t ill when we came but we could have been as a result of the conditions in there.”

The drama began when the family landed at Holguin airport and Bethany was detained. Pete said: “Everyone who met our flight was wearing green face masks. Doctors rushed over and said she would have to be taken to hospital for tests. She’d just had a bad flight and wrapped herself up in a blanket. We were quarantined in a ward which looked like it was from the 1950s.”

Pete says Bethany’s temperature was back to normal the following day. But they were told to stay until doctors could rule out swine flu – which could take days. Yesterday, Pete decided enough was enough. He said: “I said they’d have to arrest me to keep us there because my daughter had hardly eaten anything for days and I was worried about her health deteriorating.”

They went to the Playa Pesquero hotel in Holguin, where wife Marian and daughter Sarah, seven, were waiting. But they have been warned Bethany, a Stockport Academy pupil, will have to go back to the hospital if the swine flu tests prove positive.


The SCHIP of State

Just how far will the politicians in Washington go to distort and pervert America's health care system? If their dubious manipulation of the SCHIP children's health insurance bill is any indication, the answer may be "to the ends of the earth." Even if they have to redraw the earth's boundaries to do so.

In 2007, shortly after seizing the Senate and House, the Democrats declared that they had to rush through a coercive bill mandating taxpayer-funded health insurance to "low-income children" throughout the land. So, they passed their bill (which George W. Bush later vetoed), and declared it would cure the ills of the ailing young. Well, not quite. In the first place -- as those who pushed the bill through well knew -- SCHIP was not really aimed at “low-income children” at all. The truth is that 77% of the targeted beneficiaries came from homes with incomes in excess of $60,000 a year. And they already had private health insurance.

So, what was the real purpose of SCHIP if it wasn’t actually to help “low-income children”? Quite simply, it was to expand the federal government’s reach over the health care industry and drive private health insurance programs out of existence. In short, it was a power grab. Sound familiar? Well, it should, because that is also the precise purpose of what is now known as “Obamacare” -- and should be known as the most massive redistribution of the wealth and health in human history. From the private sector to the public domain. From those who work hard to those who hardly work.

The second revealing codicil in the SCHIP scam was that in order to implement the federal power grab, the bill actually went so far as to redefine the latitude and longitude of the entire country and all of the states therein. Sound preposterous? Well, it was. For example, according to New York Times reporter Robert Pear writing in 2007, the Bay Area Medical Center (BAMC), located on the border between Wisconsin and Michigan, received SCHIP funding because Congress decided that it was in Chicago. That’s right, in the “Windy City,” that “toddling town” – in Illinois.

Here’s the actual wording from the SCHIP legislation: “Any hospital that is co-located in Marinette, Wisconsin, and Menominee, Michigan, is deemed to be located in Chicago.” There is only one hospital in America fitting that description. You guessed it, the BAMC – which is more than 250 miles from Chicago, Illinois.

The fact is, in their SCHIP deception, the members of Congress redrew the map of the United States to make 40 different hospitals parts of metropolitan areas that were nowhere near the institutions’ actual locations. It was a sinister and cynical effort to take advantage of little children in order to get Big Government’s piercing tentacles into health insurance programs all over America. To the politicians in Washington, that might be known as “hope” and “change.” To the rest of the world, it is known as a lie.

And now, those same politicians are preparing to plunge their tentacles in even deeper with a socialized medicine power grab that would put the government in charge of every breath Americans take – and put private health insurance out of business altogether.

In short: in 2007, they attempted to redraw the boundaries of the entire nation. Now, they’re getting ready to redefine the boundaries of life and death. And that’s why patriotic Americans are vowing to go “to the ends of the earth” to stop them in their tracks. More power to them.


Why health insurers are optimistic about Obamacare

Lashed by liberals and threatened with more government regulation, the insurance industry nevertheless rallied its lobbying and grass-roots resources so successfully in the early stages of the healthcare overhaul deliberations that it is poised to reap a financial windfall. The half-dozen leading overhaul proposals circulating in Congress would require all citizens to have health insurance, which would guarantee insurers tens of millions of new customers -- many of whom would get government subsidies to help pay the companies' premiums.

"It's a bonanza," said Robert Laszewski, a health insurance executive for 20 years who now tracks reform legislation as president of the consulting firm Health Policy and Strategy Associates Inc.

Some insurance company leaders continue to profess concern about the unpredictable course of President Obama's massive healthcare initiative, and they vigorously oppose elements of his agenda. But Laszewski said the industry's reaction to early negotiations boiled down to a single word: "Hallelujah!"

The insurers' success so far can be explained in part by their lobbying efforts in the nation's capital and the districts of key lawmakers. The bills vary in the degree to which they would empower government to be a competitor and a regulator of private insurance. But analysts said that based on the way things stand now, insurers would come out ahead.

"The insurers are going to do quite well," said Linda Blumberg, a health policy analyst at the nonpartisan Urban Institute, a Washington think tank. "They are going to have this very stable pool, they're going to have people getting subsidies to help them buy coverage and . . . they will be paid the full costs of the benefits that they provide -- plus their administrative costs."

One of the Democratic proposals that most concerns insurers is the creation of a "public option" insurance plan. The industry launched a campaign on Capitol Hill against it, grounded in a study published by the Lewin Group, a health policy consulting firm that is owned by UnitedHealth Group. The lobbyists contended that a government-run plan, which would have favorable tax and regulatory treatment, would undermine private insurers.

Opposition increased this month when boisterous critics mobilized at town hall meetings held by members of Congress home for the August recess. The attacks, supplemented by conservative critics on talk radio and other forums, drew national attention.

Leading insurers, including UnitedHealth, urged their employees around the country to speak out. Company "advocacy hot line" operations and sample letters and statements were made available to an army of insurance industry employees in nearly every congressional district. Some insurers supplemented the effort with local advertising, often designed to put pressure on specific members of Congress. Late in the spring, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina -- the home state of several conservative Blue Dog Democrats -- prepared ads attacking the public option.

Leading Democrats have fought back, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) last month calling the industry "immoral" for its past treatment of customers and suggesting insurers were "the villains" in the healthcare debate. Still, recent support for the public option has declined, and the stock prices of health insurance firms have been rising.

Undermining support for the public option wasn't the only gain scored by insurance lobbyists. In May, the Senate Finance Committee discussed requiring that insurers reimburse at least 76% of policyholders' medical costs under their most affordable plans. Now the committee is considering setting that rate as low as 65%, meaning insurers would be required to cover just about two-thirds of patients' healthcare bills. According to a committee aide, the change was being considered so that companies could hold down premiums for the policies.

Most group health plans cover 80% to 90% or more of a policyholder's medical bills, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Industry officials urged that the government set the floor lower so insurers could provide flexible, more affordable plans. "It is vital that individuals, families and small-business owners have the flexibility to choose an affordable coverage option that best meets their needs," said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's Washington-based lobbying shop.

Consumer advocates argue that a lower government minimum might quickly become the industry standard, placing a greater financial burden on patients and their families. "These are a bad deal for consumers," said J. Robert Hunter, a former Texas insurance commissioner who works with the Consumer Federation of America. Meanwhile, companies would probably see a benefit by providing less insurance "per premium dollar," Hunter said. "It would be quite a windfall," said Wendell Potter, a former executive at Cigna insurance company who has become an industry whistle-blower.

Consumer and labor advocates acknowledged the industry's lobbying success. In the first half of 2009, the health service and HMO sector spent nearly $35 million lobbying Congress, the White House and federal healthcare offices, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. With more than 900 lobbyists, that sector -- whose top spenders are insurance giants UnitedHealth, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna -- was poised to spend more than in 2008, a record lobbying year.

UnitedHealth spent the most, $2.5 million in the first half of 2009, and hired some of Washington's most prominent political players, including Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader who served as an informal health policy advisor to Obama. "They have beaten us six ways to Sunday," said Gerald Shea of the AFL-CIO. "Any time we want to make a small change to provide cost relief, they find a way to make it more profitable."


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