Sunday, December 20, 2009

Woman wins £1m compensation after British NHS doctors misdiagnose back condition

Nicola Dalby, a woman who was left disabled after doctors misdiagnosed her spinal condition, has won a £1m out-of-court settlement. Miss Dalby said she had agreed a million-pound settlement with two local GPs and Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust. The 43 year-old former coffee shop manager from Harold Wood, Essex, needs crutches to walk and suffers from clawed hands after doctors took nine months to diagnose and treat compressed nerves in her spinal cord. She has been warned that she will become wheelchair-bound over the next few years because of the delay in providing her with treatment.

MIss Dalby first saw doctors in October 2002 when she started suffering tingling fingers and dragging feet. But GPs diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome - a relatively common condition involving compressed nerves at the wrist ~ and referred her to an orthopaedic surgeon at hospital. The surgeon said she needed to see a neurologist urgently but procedural failures by the hospital meant she was not seen until July 2003. Miss Dalby finally had surgery nine months after her first visit to her GP but her condition had already seriously deteriorated.

"The NHS needs to look at the errors in my case and ensure that they learn from this," she said. "I wouldn't want anyone else to go through what I have had to." Medical experts believe that had she been operated on before May 2003 she would be much better today.

Auriana Griffiths, a clinical negligence specialist for lawyers Irwin Mitchell, who represented Miss Dalby, said: "We are pleased that this result will at least offer Nicola the resources to adapt her home and maintain a reasonable quality of life with the long-term care she needs."

Dr Tim Woodman, director of medicine for NHS Havering, said: "Since 2003, GPs have been operating to a new contract which enables us to take a closer look at the quality of care they provide. "From 2011, all GPs will have to undergo a vigorous revalidation to stay in practice. "NHS Havering are putting measures in place to support this process, which includes ensuring that GPs keep their skills up-to-date and learn from any untoward incidents."

A spokesman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust said: "The trust is pleased the claim has settled and that Ms Dalby has sufficient funds to pay for her future needs. "The trust would like to assure Ms Dalby that it continues to work hard to ensure the quality of its healthcare services improves and would again like to take this opportunity to wish her, and her family, all the best for the future."


British health officials 'paid almost £1.7m in bonuses despite NHS facing millions of pounds in cuts'

Department of Health civil servants have been paid almost £1.7m in bonuses this year despite the NHS facing millions of pounds in cuts, figures show. Almost 200 staff shared in the payouts, with the highest totalling £27,500 and the average £8,000. The figures, revealed in a written parliamentary answer, also show that over the last five years hundreds of health bureaucrats have benefited from bonuses totalling almost £7.7 million.

Opposition parties described the amounts as “staggering” while millions of families struggle to make ends meet during a recession. The revelation comes just weeks after a damning report, by Dr Foster Intelligence, suggested that thousands of patients could have died needlessly at seven hospitals with extremely high death rates over the last five years.

The NHS has already committed to making £20 billion of efficiency savings over the next four years. Earlier this month ministers announced plans to cancel parts of the NHS IT scheme in a move to save £600 million, while the health service has also has been told to cut management costs by almost a third in coming years. Hospitals are also facing a four-year long squeeze on their funding. The Government plans to freeze the income they receive per procedure, in effect a real terms cut.

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat Health spokesman, said: “This is a staggering amount of money to be paid in bonuses this year. “While families across the country are struggling to make ends meet, ministers are paying out bonuses to senior civil servants that are equivalent to some people’s annual income. “It’s hardly surprising that the public finances are in such a mess with such apparent profligate use of taxpayer’s money.” He called on ministers to conduct a review of when to was appropriate to award bonuses during a recession.

The largest bonus given to a single official over the last five years was £49,000, paid out last year, the figures also show. The amount paid in bonuses this year so far is almost double that in 2005/06, when £961,843 was shared between 181 staff. Earlier this year a report commissioned by the Department of Health by McKinsey, the management consultancy firm, found that a tenth of health service jobs would need to be cut within five years to meet planned £20bn efficiency savings. However, ministers immediately disowned the report and insisted that they had no plans to implement its findings.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said that bonuses were rigorously assessed. He added: "Senior civil servants have a vital role in the success of the NHS and social care. "Their leadership, supporting clinical colleagues, has been vital to the NHS's strong performance in recent years: finances are under control, patients are experiencing the shortest waiting times on record and hospital infections have decreased significantly. "Our ambitious plans for putting quality at the heart of everything the NHS and social care does, require the best possible leadership."


Obama's health bill stuck in Senate

The signature bill of Barack Obama's first year - health reform that curbs costs and picks up 30 million uninsured people - is looking sick. The likelihood of a US Senate vote before Christmas is fading, amid stalling tactics by the Republicans and objections from liberal Democrats. A delay over the Christmas break could be extremely dangerous as senators will return home to their states, facing an increasingly worried public. But it would also be a crushing blow to the President, who desperately needs a win.

Two new polls show that support for Mr Obama's health care reform is ebbing in the face of a barrage of negative advertising from interest groups. A Wall Street Journal poll found that only 32 per cent of Americans think it a ''good'' idea. A Washington Post poll found that only 35 per cent of independents support it, down 10 points in a month.

There is also pressure on the Administration from progressives who are bitterly disappointed that the Senate version has stripped out a public insurance option in favour of private subsidised care, and curtailed plans to expand Medicare, a government-funded program for seniors. This week former presidential candidate and medical practitioner, Howard Dean, called on Democrats to walk away from the latest proposal saying it did not achieve the reforms promised and amounted to the ''insurance companies' dream''.

The latest salvo came on Thursday from the head of the powerful Service Employees International Union, Andy Stern, who criticised the decision to sacrifice the public option and Medicare expansion.

There were also rumblings on the right of the Democrats. One conservative senator, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who unsuccessfully proposed an amendment on abortion, was threatening to vote against the bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid needs all 58 Democrats and the two independents to vote to end debate and prevent a Republican filibuster. He has limited senators to 10 minutes each to speak on the bill, but time is running out. When the acting speaker, Democrat Al Franken, tried to impose the 10-minute rule on independent Joe Lieberman, Republican John McCain saw red. Debate had not been cut off in this way in the 27 years he had been in the Senate, he said.

Democrats are now looking at a possible vote at 7pm on Christmas Eve - but even that might be ambitious.


Left Wing Objects To Health Care Bill As Insurer Sellout

While Majority Leader Harry Reid pushes to clear a Senate health bill by Christmas, his leftist allies are grumbling that the compromise plan is a lump of coal. On Thursday, Reid was laying out plans to approve the measure by Dec. 25. Yet he will need 60 votes to end debate and some key senators still seem unsure, if not opposed. Senate Republicans have also had some success at slowing down the legislative machinery.

But the bill's biggest threat now may be coming from progressive pundits. Howard Dean, former head of the Democratic National Committee and 2004 presidential candidate, on Tuesday said the Senate health care bill was a "dream bill" for health insurers and was "not worth passing." Dean seemed to be responding to Reid's decision to strip the Medicare "buy in" from the bill, an attempted compromise on the public option. That failed to win over Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. So Reid gave up on both options. That apparently secured Lieberman's support but triggered a revolt on his left flank.

Dean's comments may have given cover to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to say he couldn't support the bill without a public option. Speaking with Fox News' Neil Cavuto, the socialist Sanders said, "I have indicated both to the White House and the Democratic leadership that my vote is not secure at this point." Later in the day, his spokesman told IBD that Sanders "hasn't decided how he will vote. He's not happy with the bill, but is still working with Senate leadership and the White House to improve the still-evolving bill language." That followed Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., who on Monday reiterated his threat to block the bill without a public option.

Dean continued his opposition Thursday with an op-ed in the Washington Post, stating, "If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health care bill." This, in turn, appears to have inspired an insurrection among progressives. At the Huffington Post, liberal pundit David Sirota called Dean a "genuine hero" for opposing "the Lieberman-gutted" health bill. Markos Moulitsas, who runs the influential leftist blog Daily Kos, wrote, "Time to kill this monstrosity coming out of the Senate."

The White House hit back at Dean again on Thursday. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded, "I think he is wrong. I think the American people think he is wrong. If this is such a great thing for the insurance companies, why are they spending hundreds and millions of dollars every day to attack it?"

But Dean keeps winning allies. Wednesday evening, MSNBC TV host Keith Olbermann said, "Howard Dean is right, and the White House's reaction to him has been incendiary, short-sighted and inaccurate."

Big Labor piled on. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said in a press release that a Senate bill without a public option was inadequate because "it bends toward the insurance industry, the Senate bill will not check costs in the short term, and its financing asks working people and the country to pay the price, even as benefits are cut."

Andy Stern, head of the Service Employees International Union, wrote in a letter to fellow union members, "The public option is declared impossible. Americans cannot purchase Medicare at an earlier age. The health insurance reform effort we have needed for a century is at risk." But while Stern opposes the current Senate proposal, he urged senators to pass it, with the hopes that it can be improved in the House-Senate conference.

Trumka's point about "working people" paying the price alludes to labor's objections to the Senate bill's 45% tax on high-cost health plans. That will impact many union members who enjoy very generous benefits.

If the leftist and unions grass-roots come out against the Senate health bill, it raises serious questions as to whether Democratic lawmakers will want any bill. The political calculus has been that voting for an unpopular bill will still help drive out the liberal base next November. But that doesn't add up if the leftist Netroots and unions are hostile....

Senators are still waiting for the final cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

More here

Following Analysis of ABC News Health Care Advertising, Group Says ABC News Should Worry Less About Its Anchors and More About Its Integrity

ABC News should focus less on the retirement of Charlie Gibson and his replacement by Diane Sawyer and more on integrity, says the National Center for Public Policy Research, which just completed an advertising review of ABC's nightly World News.

The multi-month review, using data collected by executive director David Almasi and analyzed by policy analyst Matt Patterson, was conducted after ABC allowed President Obama to pitch his health care proposal in a special edition of ABC's Primetime hosted by Gibson and Sawyer in June. Obama was given additional airtime to pitch his health care agenda that evening on Nightline. That night, ABC News refused to allow the conservative group Conservatives for Patients Rights to purchase paid advertising to put forth an alternative perspective.

In the 98 days of ABC World News advertising logged by Almasi and analyzed by Patterson, the broadcast featured 1,102 commercials, 597 of which were placed by member companies of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) trade association, representing 54.17 percent of total commercials aired. PhRMA very aggressively supports President Obama's health care agenda.

"It's clear that World News relies on the members of PhRMA to sponsor it," said Almasi. "Ford and Proctor and Gamble are reliable sponsors, but the overwhelming amount of paid ads were for drugs pushed by the members of this very powerful and very political trade association. Ad after ad on World News comes from members of the drug lobby group PhRMA. It's almost laughable how many ads they run each day. If they were to stop, it would seem doubtful the broadcasts could continue."

Says Patterson, "ABC News seems to have a significant financial stake in the success of ObamaCare. Should we be surprised that they hand over an hour to Obama to promote his plan, while shutting out opposing views?"

"There was not one day in which the members of PhRMA were not major advertisers on World News," continued Almasi. "It's hard to believe that the producers of the program don't have this on their minds when they are selecting the issues they cover. CBS burned off the series Swingtown two summers ago because the network found advertisers weren't interested... NBC cancelled Southland before the second season even aired because of concerns the show... would be unacceptable to advertisers. The concerns of advertisers do drive content. With so many PhRMA members sponsoring World News, it would be hard not to think that people at the network are always mindful of who is paying their bills. PhRMA makes no bones about its support for ObamaCare, and PhRMA's member companies appear to be the lifeblood of ABC's flagship World News program."

Patterson recalls that White House Communications Director Anita Dunn attacked the legitimacy of Fox News in October and White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod said of Fox's news programming, "it's really not news." Patterson notes that the White House has shown no similar concern for objectivity at ABC: "ABC appears willing to turn over large chunks of its news programming to a politician, if that politician is backed by companies representing more than half of their advertisements. And for the president, it seems it's OK for a news organization to support a point of view - so long as it's his."


No comments: