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Whiskey terminates bugs!

Do you love the chink of ice in your favourite tipple? Why not its refreshing, glamorous… and can give you food poisoning.

OK it hardly ever happens but it’s a fact that neither ice nor alcohol, even strong stuff like vodka, doesn’t necessarily kill off all infection causing bacteria. Not even freezing gets rid of all the nasty bugs.

According to Elle magazine, research published in the medical journal Springer finds that the best way to get rid of bacteria lurking in ice is that brown fiery liquid at the back of your Dad’s drinks cupboard – whiskey! In tests it came out as the top terminator, with tonic next and Coca-Cola third. So maybe it’s time to check out some popular whiskey cocktails. Of course drinking a drink with ice won’t make you ill in the vast majority of cases. But if making sure means you get to try new cocktails and feel glamorous as well? Hey, what’s to lose!

Here’s our top 5 trending whiskey cocktails;

Whiskey Sour – whiskey, lemon juice, egg white and sugar syrup.

Penicillin – whiskey, lime juice, honey-ginger syrup garnished with candied ginger.

Godfather – whiskey and amaretto.

Rob Roy – whiskey, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters

Blood and Sand – whiskey, cherry brandy, sweet vermouth and orange juice.

Pickleback – not strictly a cocktail but too bizarre not to miss, it’s a shot of whiskey chased with a shot of… pickle juice. Seriously!

Drink safely now.

Care Home fined £120,000 after death from fall

A care home near Oswestry has been fined £120,00 after a wheelchair bound inmate was found at the foot of a flight of cellar stairs in the home.

The pensioner, who had an amputated right leg, was found at the foot of the stairs and despite attempts to resuscitate died, he was found to have a fractured skull.

The Health and Safety Executive, who brought the prosecution, stated that the door to the cellar, despite having a keypad lock and being inspected regularly, did not always lock properly.

Akira Care, who run the care home, have now installed new handrail, door and lock.

The judge sentencing the company said that he took into consideration that Akira Care had no previous convictions and that it had cooperated fully and taken steps to remedy the problem. But he noted that the cellar steps were steep, the handrail difficult to use and it was tricky to leave the cellar.

Akira was fined £120,00 and ordered to pay over £40,000 costs.

If you are concerned about the safety of a loved one in a care home please take action now. Most care homes will be grateful for any legitimate concerns raised. We offer a free initial consultation if you wish to talk your concerns over with a third party before taking action. You can phone us on 01535 958778.

This article is substantially based on an article in the  Shropshire Star February 2018.

US-UK Trade Deal sparks concerns over food safety

A US-UK trade deal which leads to more food being imported from America could see our hard pressed NHS having to spend £1bn more each year.

Sustain, the farming alliance group, issued this stark warning. They examined the food safety records of the USA and compared them with those of the UK. Considerably higher rates of sickness and death from food borne illness in the USA were found.

Using the Food Standards Agency’s cost estimates of campylobacter infections (a common and potentially serious cause of food poisoning), the extra expenditure needed to deal with the higher incidence of food poisoning in American foods  came out at £1 billion pounds.

This sum covers the costs to the NHS and loss of earnings. If costs like additional hygiene inspectors are added this could hit billions of pounds.

For further reading please see;

O’Neill Injury Solicitors specialise in food poisoning and food intolerance claims. For free initial advice please call 01535 958 778, email us, or use the contact form on this page.

This article is substantially based on an article in the Farmers Guardian Feb 2018.

Bag for Life Food Poisoning Alert

The Food Standards Agency (FSA)  has warned that bags for life carry a risk of food poisoning. If raw foods such as fish or meat are carried in a bag for life, even if there’s no obvious leak or spillage, can still cause problems as traces of contamination can be carried on the outer packaging.

Deadly food poisoning bacteria such as campylobacter and E coli can easily cross-contaminate from raw foods, eggs, vegetables with soil on, and even the packaging of raw foods.

The Food Standards agency now recommends using separate bags for raw meat, ready to eat food and non-food items. To avoid confusion the bags should be  labelled, or colour coded and they should always be used for the particular type you assigned to them. So a raw food bag should always and only be used for raw food. All bags should be regularly cleaned as well. You should wash your hands when you get home and after unpacking your bags. Cotton bags are a good idea as these can be machine washed.

The FSA also recommends using insulated bags on warm days, or if leaving your shopping in the car for any length of time.

This article is a summary of the FSA’s advice and is intended as an introduction to the subject, if you wish to take any action to minimise the risk of food poisoning from reusable bags you should not rely on this article but read the FSA’s advice on their webpage; Read the Food Standards Agency advice here

Sussex Care Homes Under Investigation

Sussex police are investigating two disability care homes in Sussex in response to ‘significant safeguarding concerns’ after a number of reported deaths.

If you are worried about the care and safety of a loved one in a care home we offer free, confidential advice with no obligations whatsoever. Contact us now on 01535 958 778.

The care homes under investigation are The Laurels and Orchard Lodge, both in Horsham, West Sussex. Both homes cater for people with learning disabilities. They are part of a group of care homes owned and run by Sussex Health Care. A spokesperson for Sussex Care Homes said:” Sussex Health Care is working openly with the police and West Sussex County Council to support their current investigation.

“We are committed to assisting them in any way we can and positively await the conclusion and the outcome of the investigation”.

West Sussex County Council had alerted the Care Quality Commission who have since carried out inspections of the homes.

Police investigation

Sussex police are investigating whether any criminal offences may have occurred and have met with the relatives of residents whose deaths in the homes the police ‘may be investigating’.

West Sussex County Council said they have no plans to move any residents but have put in place ‘robust safeguarding plans’ and will keep the situation under continuous review. They have advised any other local authorities and organisations that have placed people in these homes of the concerns and asked them to  review their placements.

Full report will be published

 Debbie Ivanova, deputy chief inspector of adult social care at the Care Quality Commission added that a full report, detailing CQC findings and any enforcement action against the provider, will be published once the investigation is over.

Concerned? Seek advice

If you are worried about the safety and care of a loved one then we will be happy to give you a free, totally confidential, consultation. If you want to consider using for compensation we of course will be happy to advise if you have a case to answer, after all that is our business!  But we are also perfectly happy to give you whatever advice we can to help you with whatever concerns you may have, irrespective of whether you intend to make a claim. Abuse and neglect in nursing and care homes is a dreadful thing and we are keen to do whatever we can to tackle this awful phenomenon.

We are very experienced in all types of care home abuse and neglect.

For free initial advice please call 01535 958 778, email us, or use the contact form on this page.

Stark regional variation in Care Home Quality revealed

Care Home quality varies starkly across UK

A report from the charity Independent Age has highlighted wide variations in services across the country.

Independent Age director of policy Simon Bottery said ‘councils must demonstrate that they understand the reasons for care home failures and are working to resolve them’.

The report revealed something of a North South divide, Stockport had the highest proportion with 62% of care homes rated as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission.

Whereas in southern parts of the country Islington, the Isles of Scilly, and Rutland – had no poorly performing care homes in their areas, while Richmond upon Thames, and Thurrock Council had 2.3% and 2.9% respectively.

Government and local authorities not taking crisis seriously enough

Simon Bottery, the director of policy for Independent Age said their research showed that central government and local authorities were not giving the problem of poor or inadequate care homes seriously and were not giving this ‘the attention it desrves’.

A perfect storm of pressures on care home providers

Margaret Willcox, president elect of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said that although local councils should take the findings ‘very seriously’ in the end it was ‘the way in which services are run by providers that is the most critical factor in ensuring a high quality of care’.

She said ‘Reductions in funding, increased demand by people living longer and with more complex needs, and the cost of the national living wage, while welcome, are putting significant pressures on councils and providers who are finding it hard to recruit and retain staff, especially in home care in those areas of high employment.’

This article draws substantially upon an article published in Nursing Times

Homecare – BBC report

Shocking levels of Homecare abuse reported to local authorities across the UK

Homecare neglect

Most care at home is safe and reports of abuse are relatively rare. However 23,500 allegations were made in the last 3 years.

We need carers to help older and vulnerable adults safely looked after at what is widely seen as the best place for them – at home. It is essential that such an intimate service is done sensitively in a professional and caring way.

However new figures the BBC have obtained show that over 23,500 allegations of abuse have been made to councils all over the UK in the last three years. But only a tiny number of perpetrators are held to account. The overwhelming majority of abuse is criminal in nature and never gets prosecuted.

Care is often arranged through the local authority using an external agency. So the care worker is working on behalf of local councils who are responsible for safeguarding. Experts say cuts to local authority care funding, unmanageable workloads and poor training are contributing to the toll of abuse. So how can families be assured that their family member is in safe hands?

Harrowing examples of abuse have been uncovered, one leading to criminal prosecution for ill treatment and wilful neglect resulting in the maximum available jail sentence.

A fragmented and underfunded system

Bridget Warr chief executive of the UK Homecare Association (UKHA), which represents 2,000 agencies has pointed out that “any incidents of abuse or neglect is awful… the vast majority of home care is good or excellent so we are talking about a…small minority.” “The whole… challenge of too little money in the system… absolutely needs to be investigated and put right.”

Types of abuse ranged from financial, physical and psychological, to even sexual abuse, but more than half of the alerts were about neglect, which is a very broad term. It can veer into violence and cruelty but the threshold at which it’s reported can vary widely between different local councils.

‘Conveyor belt care’ can lead to neglect

Why should allegations of neglect be so common? Pressure on carers may be a cause, and in 2016 NICE* issued guidelines intended to end Homecare visits of less than 30 minutes for such tasks as eating, washing and getting out of bed. But there is clear evidence that 15 minute calls are still taking place, this puts great pressure on the carer, old people are slow and it’s all too easy to lose patience and rush the old person. Unions also point out that many carers don’t even get the minimum wage as they aren’t paid for travel time between visits. All this can add up to great pressure on the carer to rush to get to the next appointment and not take the care needed or even grab their ward to hurry them up.

According to a survey carried out by UKHA show that a very large proportion of local authorities are still using 15 minute visits, 70% are commissioning visit of less than 30 minutes, one local authority admits that 40% of visits they commission are for 15 minutes or less.

50% of UKHA’s members stated they were worried that such short visits could compromise safety and dignity. Chief Executive Bridget Warr said “To maintain people’s dignity and safety you need much longer visits for people who need that sort of care”.

Extraordinary lack of prosecutions

Disciplinary action took place in only 8% of alerts raised across the UK. Police were involved in nearly 700 cases and out of the 23,500 alerts raised only 15 prosecutions were brought.

Gary Fitzgerald Chief Executive Action on Elder Abuse said that “The overwhelming majority of abuse is criminal in nature and never gets prosecuted… Even if it gets to court you’re more likely to see community service given or a suspended sentence given than actually sending those people to prison.”

The Local Government Ombudsman, Michael King, is the last resort for people complaining about Homecare. His service has seen the number of complaints rose by 25% last year and he is upholding two thirds of them. He sends a very strong message to councils

“You can outsource the care contract but you can’t outsource your responsibility to make sure people are cared for properly”.

But in complex outsourcing arrangements important messages and information can get lost resulting in poor or inappropriate care, such as wrong medication or missed visits.

“State neglect”

The BBC programme ‘File on Four’ commented “Local authorities and care agencies throughout the UK reckoned the roots of neglect are in diminishing resources from central government”. However the Department of Health counters that it is increasing funding for social care and has brought in tougher inspection of care services. The programme reported hearing that some Homecare agencies are closing and others are handing their contracts back to local councils, which leaves councils with little choice about what agencies they can use. Councillor Izzy Secom from the Local Government Association said  ‘we have to accept that if we squeeze the money so much people will stop providing care… it is a very difficult situation to be in”.

Funding will be even tighter in 2020 when central government withdraws all its central grant to councils. Whilst Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says the government is looking at solutions to the funding of Social Care no details are forthcoming.

Bridget Warr of UKHA said “If the funding doesn’t improve I am deeply worried. We are already seeing in some rural areas that there is no Homecare provider covering that area… If we don’t do something led by government pretty soon we are going to see some very serious risks… We are talking about state neglect when we looking at what’s happening with the funding at the moment”.

This article is based on the BBC radio 4 programme File On Four ‘Neglect:The Story of UK Homecare’, first broadcast on Tuesday 28th February 2017.
*The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Top Tips to Avoid Valentine’s Day Food Poisoning- The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

Slough Council have taken the rather unconventional step of warning potential Valentine’s Day romantic diners that they should be careful about which restaurant they choose to have their intimate meal.

They are using the opportunity to remind would be diners that they can check the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme to try and assess how clean a restaurant is and whether they can be as certain as possible that the potential problems are minimised.

Most restaurants in the Slough area have a rating of around three stars- with a very small number having the exceptional five stars

What the other lower stars can indicate was graphically illustrated by a Council report on a Pizza shop on the High St in Slough being closed down for having an infestation of mice. The pizzeria is closed until the Health and Safety Officers are sure that they have resolved the issues.

The Council say that they are not trying to put people off going out on Valentine’s Night but simply to use the Food Hygiene Rating System to inform their choice.

If you have had a problem with a takeaway or restaurant and need to discuss your legal options with specialist Food Poisoning Solicitors  please ring for free no obligation confidential advice on 01535958778 or 07821809843.

And do enjoy your Valentine’s Day Meal too!


Top 5 tips on How to Avoid Food Poisoning at Home this Christmas

Christmas is a time when the family gathers and our Christmas meals are an important part of the fun. But we need to keep in mind that some people, including young kids, pregnant women, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to food poisoning. This time of year you’ll likely be preparing food for a mix of people, and some round the table may fall in these groups meaning extra care is needed at this special time.

So here’s our top five tips to guard against food poisoning at home

1.     Always, always wash your hands

Most people know to wash their hands after handling raw meat and poultry but very few do so before they start to handle any food and after cracking raw eggs or handling raw sea food. In fact you should wash your hands every time before you start to cook and every time after you handle any raw foods.

2.     Don’t leave food out

Cooked food should be eaten or put in the fridge. You don’t have to wait for it to cool down (unless you’re putting a LOT in the fridge). If you want to leave it out then try not to leave it for more than an hour and definitely not more than 2 hours. 5 to 60 degrees Celsius (40-140 Fahrenheit) is the ideal temperature for a whole range of bugs to thrive. Room temperature falls right in the middle of that range. And guess what’s below and above that range, yes, the fridge and the oven. So food, especially cooked food, should be in the oven, your tummy or the fridge.

3.      Reheat leftovers properly

We all know not to reheat cooked rice. Well that’s not quite how it is. It’s not that the rice has already been cooked. It’s that cooked rice is often left out for a few hours, even overnight, and then reheated. The spores from the bacteria in rice aren’t killed by cooking and if left at room temperature have time to grow into bacteria and multiply to dangerous levels. So leftover rice has to go in the fridge within two hours, and be reheated to steaming hot throughout to kill any new bacterial growth. The same applies to all leftovers, if they’ve been out for more than two hours the bin is the best place for them, and if they went in the fridge in time then reheat thoroughly and as quickly as possible (the longer the food is at 40-140 Fahrenheit the more nasties will grow.

And a fridge only slows down the bacteria so experts advise not to keep any leftovers in the fridge for more than 3 to 4 days.

4.     Raw poultry – handle with care!

More than half a million food poisoning cases are caused each year by Campylobacter, a bug that simply loves raw chicken and other poultry. So wash your hands after you handle raw poultry, don’t contaminate any surfaces (use a colour coded mat and wash the mat afterwards) and cook any poultry thoroughly.

And just because it’s Christmas we’ve thrown in another two for free!

5.     Don’t mess with minced meat

When meat is minced the blades pick up bacteria from the surface, where the heat of the oven will kill it, and push it deep into the body of the meat, where the full heat from cooking is much less likely to reach and kill it. It’s best to avoid minced meat unless you know it’s been thoroughly cooked right through. You do not want to be eating a burger that’s pink in the middle.

6.     Always wash fruit and veg

We tend to think of meat and seafood as the main causes of food poisoning but actually a prestigious survey in America in 2014 found that produce caused 46% of all foodborne illness outbreaks, with leafy green vegetables being the most common culprit. Unwashed fruit and veg can have bacteria on the surface but also can have been handled by someone in the food chain who didn’t wash their hands after handling raw chicken or have been put on a surface used for raw fish or meat. It’s not just a question of washing fruit such as apples – any fruit with a skin, such as melon or cucumber will have bacteria on, so when cutting it with a with knife the bacteria can be pushed down into the flesh of the fruit.

7.     Don’t wash raw chicken!

Yes, that’s not a mistake, don’t wash raw chicken. It doesn’t get rid of the bacteria and risks splashing it around the kitchen, landing on chopping boards, hands and raw fruit, where it can do far more harm than on the chicken where proper cooking will kill it all.

Care Home director jailed for corporate manslaughter

Pathologist says “Mrs Atkin’s body was emaciated.”

Care Home Director Yousaf Khan was sentenced to three years and two months in prison at Nottingham Crown Court for corporate manslaughter at a care home.

This follows his prosecution following the death of Ivy Atkins in the Autumn Grange Care Home, owned by Mr Khan’s company Sherwood Rise Ltd.

Mrs Atkins, who was a dementia sufferer, died only 48 days after she moved into the home and in that time had lost one-and-a-half stone. At the time of her death Mrs Atkins weighed only 3st 12lbs, had a rotting bed sore and was lying in a urine soaked bed.

The Pathologist Professor Guy Rutty stated “[Mrs Atkins] had a dramatic decrease in body mass during the time from her admission to Autumn Grange to her death which had been a significant factor in her death.

“In my opinion, if she had gone out in the same medical condition as she had gone in, she would not have been expected to die as she did from the conditions she did on November 22.”

Inspector finds catalogue of concerns

Linda Hirst, the Care Quality Commission inspector working on this case, stated that there were “some really serious concerns” about the care home suggesting a “significant risk to patients”. She went on to list a great number of issues including fears around staffing, unexplained bruising, and concerns about the management of pressure sores and incontinence.

Specialist legal advice

O’Neill Injury Solicitors specialise in representing people who have suffered neglect or abuse in a nursing or care home. If you suspect that a friend or loved one may be suffering in this way please contact us for a free, confidential consultation. We are experts in this difficult area and will give you our best advice, including whether there may be grounds to claim compensation for your friend or loved one.

Please contact us now for a free consultation; 01535 958778, email us or use the form on the right of our web pages.