Friday, December 05, 2014
A corrupt and vicious health bureaucracy in Britain
A renowned heart specialist who raised the alarm over a hospital's failings was unfairly dismissed in a calculated attempt to damage his reputation, a tribunal has ruled.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Kevin Beatt has won a two-year legal battle with Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, which sacked him in September 2012 after he raised the alarm about staffing shortages, 'appalling' equipment and workplace bullying.
He voiced his concerns following the death of heart patient Gerald Storey, 63, at Croydon University Hospital in June 2011.
It was a routine angioplasty, an inquest heard in 2013, but a senior nurse had been suspended hours earlier - without Dr Beatt's knowledge - and her absence contributed to the patient's death.
Dr Beatt, a renowned specialist who led the hospital's well-regarded department for interventional heart procedures from 2007, should have been afforded protected whistleblower status but instead lost his job in a case he claimed provided a damning demonstration of the trust's attempts to cover up failings.
The trust argued it dismissed him 'for making unsubstantiated and unproven allegations of an unsafe service', but the employment tribunal ruled there was 'no consistent evidence' of gross misconduct and chief executive John Goulston, whose evidence it criticised as inconsistent, had 'failed to carry out a fair process'.
Between 2008 and his dismissal, Dr Beatt raised a catalogue of concerns about inadequate equipment, bullying and harassment of junior employees, removal of key staff, a lack of competent nurses and the failure to properly investigate serious incidents.
In January 2010 he voiced serious fears to medical director Tony Newman-Sanders that the cardiology unit's radiation equipment, then the oldest in use in the country, was putting patients and staff at risk.
He was accused of fabricating his concerns so he could treat patients elsewhere, but six months later the machinery was condemned and replaced after breaking down during an operation.
The friction came to a head in July the next year, when a 63-year-old patient died during a routine procedure after a senior nurse was suspended without Dr Beatt's knowledge.
Dr Beatt, who was left for 20 minutes without a nurse with even basic familiarity with the operation, described the suspension as 'the most overtly reckless act' he had witnessed in his career.
The trust claimed Dr Beatt's criticisms were 'vexatious' and calculated to ensure Sister Jones's restoration, and in September 2011 began disciplinary proceedings that culminated in his sacking.
The tribunal found there was 'no evidence' Dr Beatt had an ulterior motive and that 'extremely damaging' and 'entirely false' allegations were levelled at him during an investigation into Mr Storey's death.
Those included claims by Dr Asif Qasim, the hospital's clinical lead for medical specialities that Mr Beatt was mentally unstable.
Employment judge Gill Sage, who chaired the tribunal, added she believed a 'misleading' press statement about Mr Beatt's dismissal, issued following the inquest 10 months later, had been 'calculated and was likely to cause damage to his reputation'.
Speaking after the tribunal's ruling, Dr Beatt said: 'Essentially they ignored some of the statements made to the serious untoward incident report and submitted their own version. 'There's no doubt in my mind that, if things have gone badly wrong, instead of saying things have gone badly wrong, they try to cover it up.
'At the end of the day it is in order to misrepresent events to the patient and their relatives.'
He added the legal battle and the trust's decision to refer him to the General Medical Council had taken 'a very considerable toll' on him and left him unable to find work within the NHS.
He said: 'That's why they do it. They do it because it will prevent me from getting a job and that will prevent me from pursuing them in court because I won't be able to afford the costs.'
Dr Beatt said he believed the trust had spent 'more than £100,000' fighting his case, which he was only able to pursue because his lawyers Linklaters agreed to work pro bono.
A spokesman for Croydon Health Services NHS Trust said it would appeal the ruling. He added: 'We are clearly very disappointed with the tribunal's decision. 'We take all concerns about patient safety extremely seriously, as well as allegations of bullying against any of our employees.
'It is everyone's responsibility at CHS to uphold great care for patients, and for our staff to know that they will be listened to and supported.'
European court: asking asylum seekers to prove sexuality is breach of human rights
Gay and lesbian asylum seekers must not be asked to prove they are homosexual in order to stay in Britain, following a judgement by a European court yesterday.
Asking refugees detailed questions about their sexual habits in order to establish whether they are at risk of persecution at home is a breach of their fundamental human right to a private life, the European Court of Justice ruled.
In a decision that may force the Home Office to tighten up its interview rules, the court ruled that immigration officials must not accept explicit photographs or videos submitted by asylum seekers to prove their sexuality.
Home Office guidelines say that asylum officials must not request such images, but material that is volunteered is examined as part of a claim and stored.
In a ruling that may have implications on British cases, the court said an asylum seeker's failure to answer questions about their personal circumstances was not sufficient reason to reject their credibility.
Nor was an applicant's failure to declare his homosexuality from the start grounds to reject a claim, the judges said.
In 2013 some 283 people claimed asylum in Britain on the grounds that they were at risk overseas because they are gay or lesbian. Many cases come from African states whether homosexuality is subject to the death penalty.
Home Office guidelines say that claimants should “establish to a reasonable degree of likelihood” their sexuality, and that a person’s declared sexuality should be taken as a “starting point” in a case.
The guidelines tell interviewers to avoid asking “prurient questions” about sexual preferences or physical attractiveness.
However, a recent official investigation found that these rules have been flouted by immigration officials. John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, found border officials had broken the rules by asking claimants about the frequency and number of sexual partners.
Officials had also asked about the differences between gay and straight relationships, asking one man what he could find in a relationship with a man that was absent from a heterosexual arrangement.
The report also found that officials frequently examine footage or photographs submitted prove a claimant's sexuality, and it criticised the lax privacy controls on retained material.
The report followed a case, highlighted in the Observer newspaper, where interviewing officers had asked graphic and sexually explicit questions in order to test an asylum seeker’s claim.
Such questioning would likely fall foul of human rights laws, following yesterday’s ruling which applies in all EU states.
The court ruled in the case of three men, including a Ugandan, who failed in a bid for asylum after a Dutch court said they had not proved their sexuality.
The court ruled that evidence of homosexual acts submitted on film infringed human digity, even if it was proposed by the asylum applicant. It warned that by accepting such material, asylum seekers would be “incited” to do the same and it would become a de facto requirement of a successful claim.
The judgement said: "While the national authorities are entitled to carry out, where appropriate, interviews in order to determine the facts and circumstances as regards the declared sexual orientation of an applicant for asylum, questions concerning details of the sexual practices of that applicant are contrary to the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Charter and, in particular, to the right to respect for private and family life."
It also ruled that asking claimants to submit to “tests” over their sexuality are a breach of human rights.
Futhermore, applicants cannot be asked questions that are based on “stereotyped notions” of gay behaviour.
Ruling that failure to disclose their sexuality at the outset does not undermine a plea for asylum, the judgement of the Luxembourg court said: "Having regard to the sensitive nature of questions relating to a person’s personal identity and, in particular, his sexuality, it cannot be concluded that the declared sexuality lacks credibility simply because, due to his reticence in revealing intimate aspects of his life, that person did not declare his homosexuality at the outset."
A Home Office spokesperson said: "The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who seek refuge by establishing a genuine need for our protection.
“We have never required asylum seekers to undergo tests to prove their sexuality. Our guidance and training on handling claims based on sexual orientation was developed in conjunction with Stonewall, the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.”
Pregnant women who drink will NOT be criminalised after child left brain damaged when her mother drank half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of lager a day loses test case for compensation
A very dubious verdict -- based on the unborn child not being a person
Women who drink alcohol while pregnant will not be criminalised after a landmark ruling today.
It comes after a test case held at the Court of Appeal ruled that a young child is not entitled to criminal injuries compensation after her mother drank half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of lager a day while she was pregnant with her.
The girl, now six, was born with foetal alcohol syndrome and suffered growth retardation as a result of her mother's drinking.
Lawyers for child 'CP', who cannot be named for legal reasons, had asked three judges to rule in a test case that the girl is entitled to compensation.
But the appeal judges unanimously ruled: 'The central reason is that we have held that a mother who is pregnant and who drinks to excess despite knowledge of the potential harmful consequence to the child of doing so is not guilty of a criminal offence under our law if her child is subsequently born damaged as a result.'
If the appeal had succeeded it could have paved the way for pregnant women's behaviour to be criminalised, according to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) and Birthrights.
Lawyers for the child say that view was 'misplaced speculation'.
Ann Furedi, chief executive of the Bpas, and Rebecca Schiller, co-chair of Birthrights, welcomed the court's unanimous decision, saying: 'This is an extremely important ruling for women everywhere. 'The UK's highest courts have recognised that women must be able to make their own decisions about their pregnancies.'
The appeal judges heard that a large number of similar claims for compensation by children allegedly harmed by alcohol in the womb were awaiting the outcome of CP's appeal, with solicitors already instructed in around 80 cases.
Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, sitting with Lord Justice Treacy and Lady Justice King, considered the case recently at a one-day hearing.
The judges were told that the mother was drinking 'an enormous amount' while pregnant with CP, including a half-bottle of vodka and eight cans of strong lager a day, and the child was born with an alcohol-related disease.
John Foy QC, appearing for CP, said that was the equivalent of 40-57 units of alcohol a day. Guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) were that 7.5 units might damage a foetus.
Mr Foy was representing a council in the North West of England which now has responsibility for CP and was seeking an award on her behalf under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
He said the mother 'was aware of the dangers to her baby of her excessive consumption during pregnancy'. He added: 'She was reckless as to whether there would be harm to the foetus. She foresaw that harm might be caused but went on to take the risk.'
CP was born in June 2007 with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), also referred to as foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). It can cause retarded growth, facial abnormalities and intellectual impairment.
Her compensation claim was based on the assertion that her mother had committed an offence against her as defined under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 by drinking excessively during pregnancy.
Ben Collins, appearing for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), asked the court to reject CP's legal challenge.
He told the judges: 'There is a conflict of ideas about what is or is not dangerous, not only in terms of drink but also in terms of smoking and food.'
Mr Collins asked whether 'a pregnant mother who eats unpasteurised cheese or a soft boiled egg knowing there is a risk that it could give rise to a risk of harm to the foetus' might also find herself accused of a crime.
CP's compensation application was initially rejected by the CICA in November 2009 on the grounds that she had not sustained an injury 'directly attributable to a crime of violence', as required by the Offences Against the Person Act.
A first-tier tribunal allowed her initial appeal but the Upper Tribunal of the Administrative Appeals Chamber ruled last December that the law required a crime to be committed against an individual 'person' - and a child did not become a person until birth.
The Upper Tribunal concluded: 'If (the girl) was not a person while her mother was engaging in the relevant actions then, as a matter of law, her mother could not have committed a criminal offence.'
Asking the appeal judges to quash the Upper Tribunal decision, Mr Foy argued CP had been a person entitled to compensation while still a foetus and the crime committed against had similar ingredients to manslaughter.
Alternatively, she became entitled to an award when she was born and was suffering the continuing consequences of her alcoholic mother's drinking.
Dismissing CP's appeal, Lord Justice Treacy said an 'essential ingredient' for a crime to be committed 'is the infliction of grievous bodily harm on a person - grievous bodily harm on a foetus will not suffice'.
Australian wine called "72 Virgins" sold as fundraiser for anti-Islamic organisation, Q Society
A BAROSSA wine called Hal & Al’s 72 Virgins is being sold as a fundraiser for an anti-Islamic movement that is worried about a “culture war”. The virgins are a reference to the rewards jihadis believe they will receive in Paradise once they kill others and themselves.
Profits from the “fine Australian sparkling wine” will go to the Q Society, which bills itself as “Australia’s Leading Islam-critical Movement”.
The Q Society warns that Islam is linked to discrimination and violence and run lectures teaching about “the true nature of this totalitarian theocratic ideology”.
They could not tell The Advertiser which winery produced the 72 Virgins, but said they put the labels on themselves.
“With our own special label … this is a guaranteed conversation starter and lighthearted take on an otherwise serious subject,” the advertisement reads. “Satire and a good laugh are valuable weapons in this culture war.”
Q Society President Debbie Robinson said sales were going well and people were stocking up for Christmas. “I think it’s a little bit tongue in cheek … not something that’s meant to be taken too seriously,” she said.
Asked whether she thought people might find it offensive she said people were “offended by all sorts of things”. “I don’t find it offensive. Everyone’s an individual,” she said.
Ms Robinson said the funds would help them bring in overseas speakers. “We are involved with educating Australians about the Islamisation of the country,” she said.
One of the controversial speakers the Q Society has brought to Australia is Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who has called for a ban on building mosques and an end to Muslim immigration. He has referred to Islam as a “great sickness”.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.