A hospital opiate scandal that killed up to 650 patients could happen again because the NHS is still ignoring whistleblowers, campaigners have warned. Nurses raised the alarm about the use of the powerful painkillers at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, Hampshire, in 1991, but managers dismissed their concerns. Yesterday an independent panel found that 456 patients died at the hospital between 1989 and 2000 because of “an institutionalised practice of the shortening of lives through administering opioids without medical justification”.
At least 450 people had their lives cut short by the administration of opioids at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1989 and 2000, a damning investigation has found. The “institutionalised regime” of prescribing the drugs without medical justification “followed a clear pattern over time”, and continued despite concerns being raised by nurses between 1991 and 1992, the report shows. The £13 million investigation, first launched in 2014, found a number of organisations including the hospital management, the department of health and Hampshire Police “all failed to act in ways that would have better protected patients and relatives”.
Night nurses Anita Tubbritt and Sylvia Giffin first realised something was wrong at Gosport Memorial Hospital as long ago as 1991. Working on a 20-bed ward run by Dr Jane Barton, they would arrive on duty in the evenings to find to their horror that many patients – even those expecting to be discharged within days – were hooked up to pumps called syringe drivers filling them with the strong opiate painkiller, diamorphine. The nurses believed some patients on the ward were, quite simply, dying when they should have lived. Bravely, the two blew the whistle. They told the hospital’s bosses, thereby exposing an apparently horrific scandal.
In 1991, Anita Tubbritt, a staff nurse working nights on an elderly ward at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire, asked to have a quiet word with her local union representative. Mrs Tubbritt, along with a number of her colleagues, had become concerned over the way medical heroin was being administered to patients, who in their opinion did not require it. On Wednesday, more than 27 years later, those concerns were finally acknowledged, when an independent inquiry concluded that more than 650 patients’ lives could have been prematurely ended by the “institutionalised regime” of prescribing and administering opioids without medical justification.
Schools which use old-fashioned punishments such as writing out lines or picking up playground litter to tackle bad behaviour will be backed by Ofsted, the chief inspector will say today. Amanda Spielman will say that pupil behaviour is the number one concern that parents raise with Ofsted and a primary driver of low morale among teachers. Pupil behaviour will become more central to an Ofsted inspection rating in future. She says that mobile phones are part of the problem and offers support to head teachers who ban them. Calling for a ban on phones has become fashionable, although most schools already have restrictions in place.
Schools that ban mobile phones and impose old-fashioned punishments such as writing lines will get full backing from Ofsted, its chief says. Amanda Spielman believes the arguments for having phones in schools are ‘dubious at best’ and phones make life ‘miserable’ for teachers trying to deliver lessons. She says her inspectors will ‘support’ all heads who refuse to let phones on school premises in a drive to improve behaviour and crack down on ‘low level disruption’. And she also wants to see schools imposing proper punishments for poor behaviour, such as litter picking or detentions, because ‘there is nothing kind about letting a few pupils spoil school for everyone else.’
The UK is facing a cancer timebomb with cases among the elderly set to soar 80 per cent in the next two decades, experts claim. Around 130,000 Britons over 75 are currently diagnosed with cancer every year, but this is predicted to rise to 234,000 by 2035 because of the ageing population. Figures from Cancer Research UK show cases of prostate, lung, breast and bowel cancer are all projected to rise significantly over the coming years, heaping pressure on the NHS. The charity’s report highlights the urgent need for older patients to be given better support, as they are more likely to have multiple health conditions or need help from social care.
EU countries directly affected by the refugee crisis are to hold an emergency summit in Brussels this weekend as continent-wide political tensions escalate over the issue. Despite a sharp fall in the number of refugees and migrants travelling to Europe this year the issue of migration and asylum has climbed back onto the political agenda after far-right parties entered coalition governments in Austria and Italy. Representatives of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria and Bulgaria are expected to meet in the EU’s de facto capital on Sunday. German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron also met near Berlin on Tuesday night to agree a common approach on the issue.
JEAN-Claude Juncker has called an emergency mini-summit in a desperate bid to resolve damaging EU divisions over migration and prop up Angela Merkel’s ailing government ahead of next week’s European Council meeting of EU leaders. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Greece and Bulgaria are all expected to be represented at what European Commission President Mr Juncker is referring to as an “informal working meeting”. Mr Juncker will hope to keep proposed reforms to rules governing EU asylum and migration going, and will doubtless use Sunday’s gathering to stress the importance of implementing his ideas. Meanwhile Mrs Merkel desperately needs all the help she can get as bids to dissuade partners the Christian Social Union (CSU) from pulling out of the coalition with her Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
HOME Secretary Sajid Javid will risk a Brussels backlash by telling EU nationals they will each have to pay £65 to remain in Brexit Britain. Unveiling the first details of a mammoth registration scheme for 3 million EU citizens, sources said the Cabinet minister will reveal the fee and insist it is purely there to cover Home Office costs. It is cheaper than the price of a British passport. But the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has revealed the EU’s concern about the “costs”. Challenged about citizens’ rights, he told MPs: “There are still a number of concerns we have on the cost of the system and whether vulnerable people will have access – and also about the reaction time of the Home Office. “Everyone can be a victim in Brexit – but not the citizens.”
The UK and EU have been dragged into a blame game over EU citizens’ rights after Brexit, with each accusing the other of falling short in safeguarding the rights of expatriates. The home secretary, Sajid Javid, on Thursday accused EU countries of not doing enough to support British nationals living on the continent, ahead of the UK publishing details of its own plan for EU citizens living in Britain. But campaigners for the rights of British nationals living abroad said the Government’s claim to be concerned was “a bit rich” given their apparent lack of interest so far. Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, also said the body had a “number of very serious concerns” of its own about the UK government’s registration plan for EU nationals.
EUROPEAN Union’s leaders are ready to urge member states, companies and organisation to prepare for a Hard Brexit amid claims the UK hasn’t made enough “progress” on the Irish border issue for Brussels to agree to a deal. Theresa May is heading to the EU summit later this month where fellow leaders have already drafted conclusions for the meeting offering a doomed overview of the UK-EU negotiations. In a four-paragraph warning to states and companies, the leaders say contingency planning for a hard exit in March 2019 must be accelerated. The conclusions to the June 28-29 summit read: “The European Council renews its call upon member states and all stakeholders to step up their work on preparedness at all levels and for all outcomes.”
Brexit is a “failure” of the European Union and has “opened its eyes to reform”, one of Brussels’s top politicians has admitted. Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, said Britain’s decision to quit the bloc made it “difficult” to call the project a “success”. “I still look to the Brexit decision as a failure of the EU,” he told an influential committee of MPs in Westminster on Wednesday. “Because if an important country like the UK is breaking away from the EU it’s difficult to say, ‘Oh it’s a success, fantastic.’ “I don’t look at the outcome of the referendum in that way – I think it’s a failure.”
Friends of John Bercow have visited him to urge him to name a date for his departure. A string of MPs are understood to have spoken to the Commons Speaker privately to tell him his ‘time is up’. They do not expect him to go by the end of the week – as he originally promised – but they want him to make a statement outlining a timetable for his departure. Last night candidates to succeed Mr Bercow were said to be openly campaigning in the expectation that he will go. When he was elected, he promised he would step down after nine years – a deadline that he reaches tomorrow. Mr Bercow has steadfastly refused to step down – and earlier this week his wife Sally tweeted she was not ‘packing her bags’. The pair share a grace and favour apartment in the Houses of Parliament.
THE SPEAKER of the House of Commons is facing pressure to name the date of his departure from the chair, as tomorrow marks the day that he said would be the end of his role at the head of Parliament. John Bercow, the Conservative MP for Buckingham, was elected to the prestigious role in June 2009 following the resignation of Michael Martin. At the time, he promised he would only stay in the job for nine years. His self-set deadline passed on Friday, but he is yet to give any confirmation of when he will leave the post. While MPs do not expect Mr Bercow to leave by the end of the week as promised, those wanting to succeed him are apparently openly campaigning for the job around the Palace of Westminster yesterday.
Theresa May avoided a Commons defeat over her crucial Brexit bill yesterday after pro-European Tories backed away from a confrontation with the government. Up to a dozen Tory rebels were threatening to join Labour in an attempt to enshrine into law parliament’s right to have a decisive say on a no-deal Brexit. In chaotic scenes minutes before the vote was due to be called, Dominic Grieve, the de facto leader of the rebels, stood up in the Commons to announce that he would no longer be supporting his amendment. Mr Grieve’s decision ensured that the government won the vote by a majority of 16. Six Tory MPs still voted with the opposition while four Labour Brexiteers backed the government.
Theresa May’s flagship Brexit legislation was on course to become law last night, after rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve capitulated to the Government. A threatened Tory rebellion collapsed amid acrimony when Mr Grieve announced he would be voting against his own amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill. His decision infuriated Labour, which had wheeled in sick MPs in the hope of inflicting a defeat on the government. But it also split Mr Grieve’s gang of diehard Tory Remainers, allowing the Prime Minister to win the vital vote by 319 to 303. Last night the Bill cleared the Lords after pro-Remain peers finally gave up their attempts to wreck it. Former Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis, who has led attempts to derail Brexit, threw in the towel, saying: ‘We have suffered an unmitigated defeat.’
The final obstacle to the EU withdrawal bill was overcome in the Commons on Wednesday when MPs voted against the last outstanding rebel Tory amendment, but only after an eleventh-hour concession on the power of backbenchers to hold the government to account. The attempt to secure a “meaningful vote” that could have potentially given MPs the power to stop Britain leaving the EU without a deal was defeated by 319 votes to 303. Last-ditch horse trading led to the bizarre spectacle of the rebel leader, the former attorney general Dominic Grieve, voting against his own amendment. But although the prime minister got her bill she has made significant concessions along the way, with her reluctance to confront the rebels head on undermining her authority.
BRITISH negotiators are exploring the possibility of delaying our exit from the EU due to slow progress in the Brexit talks, it has been claimed. Officials have reportedly “put out feelers” in Brussels to see how member states would react to a request to extend the Article 50 window. EU diplomats discussed the possibility of such a move during a series of meetings last week, amid concerns the negotiations have stalled. Tory MEP Charles Tannock said there are whispers in Brussels’ corridors that an extension could run from four to six weeks, meaning Brexit day is put back to early May. British officials insisted there is “no plan” to extend the exit date. A Government spokesman said: “As the Prime Minister has said, the UK will be leaving the EU on March 29, 2019 at 11pm GMT.”
Brexit will have to be delayed unless a deal is struck by the end of the year because the European parliament will run out of time to vote on it, MPs have been told. Guy Verhofstadt, the parliament’s Brexit coordinator, said it needed to begin scrutinising any agreement at least three months before exit day – which is 29 March next year. Asked to give the deadline for a deal, he replied: “Before the end of the year. That is the ultimate date, otherwise we cannot be assured to have a vote in plenary in March.” Mr Verhofstadt said he remained optimistic of a deal in the autumn – despite the UK and EU remaining far apart on key issues – but warned: “You cannot go beyond 2018.” The comment came as the former Belgian prime minister dismissed both of the solutions put forward by Theresa May to solve the impasse over customs and the Irish border.
House of Lords
UNELECTED Remainer peers backed by Labour have voted for an amendment that will give Parliament the chance to block Brexit in their latest snub to the democratic decision to leave the EU. A so-called “meaningful vote” wrecking amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill put forward by Remainer Tory peer Viscount Hailsham in the House of Lords was passed by 354 to 235. The peer, who has previously indicated that he wants to stop Brexit, was backed by his fellow Remainers who make up the majority in the Lords. The amendment was dubbed “Grieve 2” in reference to one drawn up by Tory Remainer MP Dominic Grieve as a compromise in negotiations with ministers over giving parliament the chance to stop “no deal” and bind the government’s hands in the Brexit negotiations.
The House of Lords has passed the EU Withdrawal Bill after peers backed down on an amendment about allowing Parliament to have a say on the final Brexit deal. The news means Theresa May’s flagship Brexit bill has cleared its final parliamentary hurdle after she managed to avoid a backbench rebellion with an eleventh hour concession to pro-EU Tories. MPs voted by 319 to 303 to reject a House of Lords amendment that would have ensured the Commons would have the chance to block a “no deal” Brexit. After MPs voted the legislation returned to the upper house in the final stage of what is often described as “parliamentary ping-pong” where it passed without a vote. The Department for Exiting the EU said it marked a “crucial step” in the UK preparations for leaving the trade bloc.
British Airways has been accused of leaving customers high and dry after cancelling thousands of flights before hiking up their prices. Passengers snapped up bargain fares earlier this year after tickets to Dubai and Tel Aviv were being sold for as low as £167. But the airline claims the cheap offers were a mistake and sensationally cancelled all tickets on Friday – prompting fury among customers. MailOnline has been inundated with devastated passengers who have been left out of pocket after booking accommodation and car rentals overseas. BA said it has offered customers a full refund and £100 vouchers but many say the gesture isn’t good enough.
THOUSANDS of British Airways passengers have been left furious after the airline cancelled their tickets because they were too cheap. Customers snapped up trips to Tel Aviv and Dubai for bargain prices which the company now says was a mistake. BA has dramatically cancelled the tickets which were priced at around £170. A spokesperson for the airline told MoneySavingExpert that the fares were added to their system because of an error which was “quickly identified” and withdrawn. She confirmed the knock down tickets were only sold via third-party sites. Travel Up chief Ali Shah says he sold the holidays, which normally cost more than £200, to more than 2,000 people, reports the BBC. The airline has apologised for the error but has refused to reveal that the exact number of the passengers impacted by the cancellations. Ali told the BBC that the airline is providing a full refund as well as a £100 voucher to disgruntled travellers.
A VOLCANO in New Zealand is winding up for a catastrophic explosion which could devastate half the country, experts have warned. The Mount Taranaki eruption could cause untold damage by sparking lightning storms, flooding and debris avalanches, according to authorities. A civil defence plan for New Zealand’s North Island found the popular tourist landmark was “almost certain” to erupt in the next 50 years. The report said it could produce “volcanic hazards” including lava flows, lightning and volcanic gases, according to news.com.au. It added: “An eruption of Mount Taranaki is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.” Around 450,000 people visit the surrounding Egmont National Park each year, with hiking trails going to the mountain’s 2500-metre high summit. It’s not just visitors in the firing line, with a number of nearby townships and infrastructure likely to be “severely affected” and in need of evacuation.