Parents’ fury as teenage daughter dies just days after NHS doctors sent her home and ‘told her to take paracetamol’
And the hospital is not admitting anything. They claim that it is unusual to have both a viral and bacterial infection at the same time — which is utter rot
A schoolgirl suffered multiple organ failure and four heart attacks just days after doctors sent her home with paracetamol and told her to take ‘plenty of rest’, an inquest heard. Amy Carter, 15, begged doctors not to discharge her, telling them ‘I’m dying’ but medics assured her she would be fine.
Two days later on Christmas Eve, Amy – who had not been able to eat for 19 days and weighed just six stone – was taken to hospital and died hours later. She developed septicaemia after being released by doctors who had diagnosed her with glandular fever, an inquest heard.
A post-mortem examination revealed Amy, from Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, died from glandular fever and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome – a lethal combination of conditions never before seen in a patient.
But despite the hospital’s evidence that Amy was treated in the correct manner being accepted, her parents Richard, 43, and Jacqueline, 48, are still demanding answers. Mrs Carter told the inquest: ‘I can’t express myself properly to emphasise how poorly she was. She wasn’t well enough to go home. ‘I had to reassure her she was going to be alright. She even asked if she was going to die because she was that frightened.
‘If they [the doctors] had stood there and watched her properly they would have told she was poorly but no one spent any time with her. ‘Is a child who has not eaten for weeks well enough to go home?’
Amy was discharged by the Worcestershire Royal Hospital before results of blood tests and a throat swab were known – the swab later revealed bacteria that entered her bloodstream and triggered septicaemia.
Despite the inquest hearing the infection was not associated with the condition, her parents believe the treatment of their daughter was ‘inadequate’.
Speaking after an inquest, Mr Carter said: ‘We weren’t allowed to ask the questions we wanted to ask. We don’t feel they did everything they could to give Amy the best chance of surviving.’ He added: ‘The doctors said she was going to be really poorly but was going to be ok. I thought we were being a pain by phoning up the doctors.
‘On the 24th I got up to go to work, gave her a kiss, said goodbye then never saw her alive again. My daughter died and I think her care was inadequate and more could have been done.’
Amy fell ill at the beginning of last December suffering flu-like symptoms. Her parents, who both run pet shops, took her to an out-of-hours medical unit at Worcestershire Royal Hospital. An on-call doctor diagnosed sinusitis and prescribed a one-week course of antibiotics and sent Amy home.
Days later her face swelled up so much that she couldn’t open her left eye and Amy was taken to her local GP who gave her antihistamines. But over the next few days her health deteriorated. On December 19 she was taken to hospital after collapsing at home and doctors diagnosed glandular fever, which was backed up by blood tests.
Three days later on December 22 she was discharged from hospital and told to take paracetamol and take plenty of rest.
But on Christmas Eve she was rushed to Worcestershire Royal Hospital. Doctors desperately tried to revive her using adrenaline injections after she suffered four cardiac arrests but she died at 3.14pm.
Dr Mary Hanlon, the consultant paediatrician responsible for patients on the ward when Amy – who also had pneumonia – was discharged, said the bacteria entered the bloodstream and caused septicaemia but it was not ‘medical practice’ to treat it when it was first detected. She said: “We wouldn’t have waited for the results of the swab before sending her home. We had a diagnosis of glandular fever.
‘Every person who gets glandular fever from now on, should they get a throat swab and then treat it in case they get septicaemia? That is not current medical practice.’
Margaret Barnard, deputy coroner for Worcestershire, asked: ‘Do you think this should change?’ ‘No, I don’t,’ Dr Hanlon replied. ‘We do not give people with glandular fever anti-biotics to stop them getting septicaemia. ‘It’s just very unfortunate that Amy got this other infection on top of having glandular fever. Once the septicaemia gets into your bloodstream it is rampant.’
Dr Andrew Short, clinical director for paediatrics at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, carried out an investigation into Amy’s death to see if any lessons could have been learned.
He admitted nurses failed to correctly mark up the overall scores on her early warning chart but retrospectively said the correct information would still have resulted in her being discharged.
Dr Short added the medical cause of Amy’s death was streptococcus toxic shock syndrome – a condition which has never previously been linked to glandular fever – after results from a swab revealed streptococcus was present in her throat.
He added this is present in the throats of 30 per cent of the population and it is not medical practice to treat it when someone is diagnosed with glandular fever. ‘Of all the cases of children with streptococcus toxic shock syndrome over the past two years not one was associated with glandular fever,’ said Dr Short. ‘This case was unique. ‘This tragic outcome could not have been foreseen.’
Deputy coroner for Worcestershire Margaret Barnard recorded a verdict of natural causes and accepted the evidence from doctors who decided not to treat the bacteria with anti-biotics as it had potential side-effects. She said: ‘Miss Carter suffered an infection in her throat which spread to her windpipe and into her blood.
‘There is no medical record or literature of anyone suffering glandular fever and streptococcal toxic shock and that made Miss Carter unique.’
After the inquest Amy’s parents – who have another daughter Sam, 17, and son, Ben, 24 – said they were considering taking legal action against Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. Mr Carter said: ‘We don’t feel they did everything they could to give Amy the best chance of surviving.’
The Trust’s chief executive John Rostill, however, insisted the care Amy received was appropriate. He said: ‘Following Amy’s death a full investigation was carried out by the Trust which found that at all stages of her hospital stay, Amy received appropriate care.’ [So that is why she died?]
British death panels still at work: Block on life-prolonging cancer drugs
Thousands of cancer patients face being condemned to an early grave because the Tories have stalled on an election pledge, a health charity said last night.
The Government has promised a £200million cancer drug fund to pay for any medicine recommended by a consultant – even when it has not been licensed to treat a specific disease.
But the initiative will not come into force until next April, leaving patients at the mercy of NICE for nine more months.
In the ten weeks since the election, the drugs rationing body has turned down or provisionally rejected ten life-prolonging drugs for various cancers.
The Rarer Cancers Foundation said it was a scandal that so many patients will see their lives cut short when there are drugs available – and widely used in Europe and the U.S. – which could give them precious extra months.
It has written to David Cameron to demand he intervene to speed up the introduction of the fund.
The Tory manifesto promised to set it up using money saved from the abolition of Labour’s planned national insurance rise.
It said: ‘Using money saved by the NHS through our pledge to stop Labour’s jobs tax, we will create a cancer drug fund to enable patients to access the cancer drugs their doctors think will help them.’
In April, Andrew Lansley, who is now Health Secretary, said patients should have the right to drugs that are recommended by the specialist treating them. His colleagues made similar vows.
Although no date was explicitly set for the establishment of the fund, voters would have assumed it was far less than a year away.
There are also concerns that it will only be large enough to help a few hundred people a year and that – in a time of severe public spending cuts – it might have to be scaled back further.
Ten drugs have been rejected by NICE since May, including mifamurtide for a type of bone cancer which strikes children.
Andrew Wilson of the cancer foundation said: ‘NICE’s decision to deny cancer patients access to ten more treatments since the general election flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s commitment to make more cancer drugs available.
‘It is a cruel irony that many patients being denied treatment today will not live to see the planned introduction of the cancer drugs fund in April 2011.
‘David Cameron needs to act now to make good his pledge, bringing forward the introduction of the fund so that patients can benefit immediately.’
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Wilson said: ‘Since the general election, you may be aware that NICE has rejected ten treatments for cancer.
‘These include trastuzumab for gastric cancer, sorafenib for liver cancer, and mifamurtide for osteosarcoma. As a result of the latter decision, many children and teenagers will be denied access to life-saving treatment.
‘These decisions are already adversely affecting the lives of many patients who need access to these treatments, most of whom will not live until April 2011.
‘Combined with previous rejections by NICE, they mean that thousands more patients could miss out on the treatment they need.’
Over the past two months, NICE has issued one final decision and nine preliminary pieces of guidance to reject drugs. Consultation could see these decisions reversed.
The drugs which have been turned down provisionally are: sorafenib for liver cancer; lapatinib and bevacizumab for breast cancer; trabectedin for ovarian cancer; erlotinib for lung cancer; ofatumumab for leukaemia; imatinib for intestinal tumours; everolimus for kidney cancer; trastuzumab for gastric cancer and mifamurtide for bone cancer.
Andy Burnham, Labour health spokesman, said: ‘Before the election, David Cameron promised to fund cancer drugs with money saved from stopping the national insurance rise – but now his VAT rise will cost the NHS more than the cost of the cancer drugs fund.’
A spokesman for NICE said: ‘Since May 6, we have published final guidance on just two cancer treatments – sorafenib for liver cancer, which we did not recommend because it is so expensive for the benefits it offers to patients, and pemetrexed for lung cancer which we did recommend. All the other documents referred to are drafts still subject to consultation.’
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said he would respond to Mr Wilson’s letter in due course.
The inimitable Pat Condell on the proposed NYC mosque
£37 MILLION: Huge bill to the British taxpayer for crimes of just TWO families
They were responsible for four decades of murder and mayhem. And just two gangster families left taxpayers with a staggering £37million bill for their crimes, it was revealed yesterday.
The figure – almost £1million a year since their reign of terror began – is the cost to the public for detecting and punishing their offences. The families were members of two notorious gangs in Birmingham, the Burger Bar Boys [below] and the Johnson Crew.
The total cost to the public of these two gangs – as opposed to only the two families themselves – is thought to be nearly £190million. Both gangs became infamous in 2003 after two teenagers, Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, were shot dead outside a New Year party in Birmingham during a gun battle between rival gangsters.
The £37million includes the cost of police investigations, lawyers, trials and prison for murders, attempted murders and serious injuries inflicted by three generations from the pair of gangster families. But it does not count the cost of medical care of victims, of undetected crimes by the same families, of their more minor crimes, or the cost in money or harm to their victims.
Nor does it take into account the state benefits claimed by the families, the education and extra teaching required by their children, their own burden on the NHS, or of providing them with council houses.
The bill for the two families, which was estimated from the records of gang members, was revealed by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude. He said it illustrated how ‘we spend vast sums of money ineffectually managing social failure’.
Mr Maude told BBC Radio Four’s World Tonight: ‘There are two families in Birmingham where over three generations they have cost the taxpayer over £37million.’ He said there were no neighbourhood or community groups ready deal with people committing crime on that scale.
The details of the cost of gangster families were calculated by officials from the police, criminal justice agencies and Birmingham council and made public in a report on how the spread of crime down the generations might be curbed.
The bill was based on the criminal records of one family from the Johnson Crew and one from the Burger Bar Boys. The first family – a father and five sons believed to be in the Johnson Crew – was estimated to have cost the taxpayer £23.8million over three generations.
The report does not note the full records of the individuals, but officials assumed each of the five sons was involved in crime on a similar scale. It assumes the cost to the taxpayer of dealing with a murder according to the Home Office estimate of £1.4million and says the price of attempted murder begins at £25,000.
Individual examples of crime cited include a case of possession of illegal firearms which resulted in ten and five-year sentences for two men in 2004. These brought costs totalling £621,000 to police and prison services, the report found.
A second family – believed to be the Burger Bar Boys gang – was also examined, and its costs came to £13.7million. The report found that each of the two gangs revolves around five dynastic criminal families, and so the total cost of the two groupings over the past 40 years is around £187.5million.
It said: ‘The impact of gang culture and related violence continues to generate fear among communities. ‘In Birmingham, gang violence peaked in 2003, when a series of murders and attempted murders brought national and international attention. ‘The very public nature of that violence, often committed in city streets and witnessed by innocent citizens, presents an ongoing challenge to both police and statutory partners.’
It added: ‘The violence and crime associated with urban street gangs is cultivated in families where there is intergenerational gang membership and a criminal lifestyle is regarded as the norm.’
The officials recommended that ‘intervention projects’ should be launched in which social workers and other ‘highly skilled staff’ would spend large amounts of time with parents and children to try to steer them away from crime.
However, they would cost £75,000 for each family and independent analysts have suggested that their success among criminal families has been greatly exaggerated.
The Birmingham report said: ‘The difficulty in penetrating and understanding gang culture makes it almost impossible for the indoctrinated to provide an informed view of what interventions will make a difference.’ [A hangman would be completely effective]
Free the police to tackle the criminals on Britain’s streets
Spending cuts must fall on the staff who hinder actual policing, says a serving police inspector
Until recently, more money than ever was being spent on the police – so why are so few officers available to tackle crime, and what will happen once the fiscal drought really sets in?
The first question – raised by a new report from the Chief Inspector of Constabulary – is easy to answer. The report found that, of the 144,000 serving police officers, only 11 per cent of us are “visibly available” at any one time to deal with complaints from the public. I’m not at all surprised, and no real police officer will be. It’s because there are, in fact, three separate police forces.
The first is the politically driven caste of senior officers, who – under New Labour – spent their lives rushing to publicise the Home Office’s latest wheezes about “Partnership Working”, “Community Engagement” or “Citizen Focus”. The Chief Inspector’s report reveals that, in 2009 alone, some 2,600 pages of guidance were issued. That may astonish you, but for years, these complex, and often contradictory, agendas have been spilling out of the top-floor offices.
The second police force is largely made up of people who have never arrested anyone: supervisors, auditors, accountants, diversity consultants, health and safety advisers, monitoring groups and crime managers. We have more people in these roles than out on the streets fighting crime. Of the 100 or so emails in my inbox, they will be responsible for two thirds: demands to tick these boxes, check this, find out that, visit so-and-so. Rarely will this assist in the apprehension of a criminal: it’s far more about ensuring we have met a target, or are complying with a pledge, or haven’t missed some arcane detail that will move an offence from one column to another.
That leaves those of us in the third police force, who do the protecting and serving: the patrol and neighbourhood officers who respond to emergency calls (and many not-so emergency calls); the CID; and the custody teams who deal with prisoners.
On my BCU – what used to be a division – we have a “Policing Pledge” team, comprising a Chief Inspector, an Inspector, and two PCs whose sole job is to monitor the delivery of the policing pledges that Theresa May has just abolished. (The unit is staying put, under a different name.) Then there is the Criminal Justice Unit – an office of 22 civilians who manage the through-flow of case files between the police, Crown Prosecution Service and courts. There’s also the Area Crime Management Unit – three sergeants and a mixed set of 15 civilians and PCs whose job is purely to manage the crime reporting system: checking the paperwork, allocating crime reports, classifying and filing cases. Then there are the chief clerks – one each for Finance, Estates and Admin, each of whom has four staff.
Contrast this with our minimum manning levels on the emergency response team – the people who come out when you call 999. For our area of 300 square miles, we have 16 PCs, one sergeant and one inspector. And these are burdened by “Partnership Working”, box-ticking and a shift system which, according to this week’s report, means that they might only work 171 days a year.
I haven’t started on the paperwork, which means that dealing with a drunken idiot who glasses your sergeant in a pub can easily take six or seven hours, even if he admits the offence. (In Canada, it would take 30 minutes.) This idiot is also a “customer” to be “engaged with” and “reached out” to. We must treat him with respect at all times, and ascertain his views as to the comfort levels of his overnight stay, even though he just wanted to hurt someone, spend the night in a cell, choose one of the dishes on our custody menu, decline a duty solicitor and walk away with a fixed penalty notice that he will probably never pay.
The new Government, then, has a straightforward choice. It can follow the example set by Labour, and spew out another 3,000 pages of new directives and cost-cutting initiatives. It can allow forces to keep their back offices, staffed by desk jockeys and civil servants who actively hinder proper policing, and replace front-line officers with phone calls to the public to reassure them that crime is down in their area. Or ministers can simply say that enough is enough.
I love my job, as most front-line cops do. At its best, you get to be a children’s entertainer, a social worker, a doctor, a financial adviser and a personnel manager, all at the same time. We take responsibility for a few hundred thousand souls, two large stretches of motorway, eight mainline railway stations, four town-centre nightclubs, a major district hospital, hundreds of pubs, shops, housing estates and a million different ways in which people can come to grief. All the Government needs to do is free us from the bureaucracy, and let us get on with the job.
Another one: Teenage mother who made ‘wicked’ false rape claim is jailed for 15 months in Britain
A young mother who falsely claimed she was raped by a teenager was yesterday locked away for 15 months. Jade Brooks was 17 when she claimed the 18-year-old had taken her into a copse and attacked her.
He was later arrested, subjected to an intimate examination, kept in a cell for 13 hours and grilled by officers under caution before being released on police bail. It was a further two months before he was told no further action would be taken after Brooks’s story began to unravel.
Witnesses said they had seen her kissing and cuddling the young man shortly before the alleged attack near a disused railway station in Haverhill, Suffolk, and was laughing and embracing him immediately after they left the wooded area. Brooks, who is now 19, was also seen by a friend performing a sex act on the teenager at a house later that evening.
She wept and protested her innocence yesterday as she learned she would be separated from her month-old baby daughter while she serves time in a young offenders institution for perverting the course of justice.
Judge David Goodin said an innocent man had been arrested and had his liberty taken away because of Brooks’s ‘wicked’ claim. He also reprimanded her for doing ‘a huge disservice’ to genuine rape victims.
Brooks was heavily pregnant when she was convicted following a four-day trial at Ipswich Crown Court in May. Sentencing was delayed to allow her to recover from the pregnancy and for reports to be prepared.
During the hearing her victim described how he and two friends had been to a pub before meeting three girls, including Brooks, in the street. He said she led him into the secluded spot for sex and later had sex with him again at a friend’s house. ‘I didn’t rape her. She is just a liar and an attention seeker. She has got no one to feel sorry for her,’ he added.
Brooks, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was reported by one of her friends to have been tipsy but not drunk on the night of the alleged attack in July 2008. She had allowed the man to touch her breasts and didn’t seem uncomfortable with what was happening. At no point during the time she was alone with him in the bushes did she scream, cry for help or raise her voice in any way. The only comment she made afterwards was: ‘I’ve lost my shoe.’
She dealt a final, fatal blow to the rape case when she refused to give a video-taped interview to police.
Shereen Dyer, defending, told the judge yesterday her client accepted the jury’s verdict but stood by her version of events and insisted she had been telling the truth.
She had urged the court to pass a suspended sentence because of the damaging effect a term behind bars would have on Brooks and her young daughter. However she could be released after serving half her sentence.