British government pathologist seriously negligent
The doctor concerned appears to be a Muslim of Indian or Pakistani origin. There seem to be a lot of unsatisfactory doctors from the Indian sub-continent in Britain — due to Britain’s failure to train enough British-born doctors. It appears to have been seen as cheaper to import poorly-trained doctors from elsewhere
Dr Freddy Patel, the pathologist who carried out the first autopsy on Ian Tomlinson who died at last year’s G20 protest, acted in a way that amounted to misconduct during two earlier post-mortem examinations, the General Medical Council has ruled. The panel also ruled that Dr Patel had displayed deficient professional performance in a third post-mortem.
The panel had already concluded that Dr Patel was “irresponsible” and failed to meet professional standards during his examinations of the bodies of a five-year-old girl in 2002, a four-week-old baby in 2003 and a woman who died in 2005.
Panel chairman Richard Davies told Dr Patel: “The panel is not satisfied that there is no risk of the relevant conduct being repeated.”
Dr Patel, 63, was said by the panel to have behaved irresponsibly, failed to meet standards expected of a Home Office pathologist and acted in a way liable to bring the profession into disrepute when he changed the woman’s cause of death in 2005. He carried out a post-mortem examination on January 5, and decided she had died due to a blood clot in the coronary arteries. A month later, following a second post-mortem by another pathologist, he prepared an addendum to his report, changing the cause of death to a brain haemorrhage in line with the new findings.
Dr Patel told an inquest into the woman’s death he had changed the primary cause of death “to satisfy the family” but Mr Davies said the pathologist’s assumption that the change made no difference from the coroner’s viewpoint, as the death was not suspicious, and merely allowed an inquest to proceed was not an adequate explanation.
During today’s ruling Mr Davies said Dr Patel’s “acts and omissions were very serious” and amounted to misconduct. He said pathologists “must not set aside their professional judgment for any of the parties involved during or after a post-mortem examination for reasons of expediency or anything else”.
Dr Patel’s failure to note the weights of individual organs examined, as is recommended by Royal College of Pathologists’ guidance, also showed deficient professional performance.
Dr Patel was also found to be guilty of misconduct in a post-mortem examination on a four-week-old baby in August 2003. The panel had earlier decided his failure to obtain full skeletal X-rays prior to the examination, as recommended by the Royal College of Pathologists’ guidelines, was irresponsible and failed to meet professional standards. The hearing previously heard Dr Patel carried out the post-mortem examination at 7.20am, prior to the radiologist’s 9am start time.
Today, Mr Davies told the pathologist: “The panel has concluded that you deliberately ignored the guidelines so as to carry out the post-mortem examination simply at a time of your own convenience, and very shortly before radiographers would have been readily available. “Against that background the panel has concluded that your acts and omissions amount to misconduct.”
The panel earlier found Dr Patel had been “irresponsible” and not met the standard expected of a Home Office pathologist when he failed to identify marks on the body of a five-year-old girl which suggested she had been violently attacked prior to her death in 2002. Mr Davies said the panel considered it “probable” Dr Patel “performed only a cursory external examination of the body” and failed to spot a damaged shoulder blade.
The panel ruled today that Dr Patel’s conduct in the case amounted to deficient professional performance but not to misconduct. The girl’s body was exhumed to allow a second post-mortem examination to take place and Mr Davies said: “It is noted that in this case if the body had been cremated then critical evidence would have been lost. “Had you allowed your suspicions greater scope, then the exhumation of a child and the attendant potential distress might have been avoided.”
Adrian Hopkins QC, representing Patel, had argued that the two cases involving children should not reflect on Dr Patel’s current fitness to practise as post-mortem examinations are now carried out by specialist paediatric pathologists and he had not undertaken one since 2004.
Mr Davies said the issues of record-keeping and adherence to guidelines were still relevant. Mr Davies said the panel believed there were “fundamental weaknesses” in Dr Patel’s conduct and professional performance. “It does not consider that the limited extent to which you have accepted criticisms and offered assurances for the future show genuine insight into the character and range of your shortcomings.”
He said the panel was not satisfied there was no risk of the conduct being repeated “particularly against a background of evidence that you have been willing to jeopardise your professional independence by complying with the wishes of others”.
The panel is not expected to make a decision on sanctions until later this week. Dr Patel, whose full name is Mohmed Saeed Sulema Patel, has already been suspended from the Home Office register of forensic pathologists amid questions about his post-mortem examination of Mr Tomlinson.
The 47-year-old newspaper seller died during London’s G20 riots in April last year after being pushed to the ground by a police officer. Dr Patel’s competency was called into question after two other pathologists agreed that Mr Tomlinson, who was an alcoholic, died as a result of internal bleeding, probably from his diseased liver, after falling on his elbow.
The alleged shortcomings in Dr Patel’s examination of Mr Tomlinson’s body were revealed by prosecutors as they announced that no charges would be brought over the death.
Competition in health care does work
Even in Britain
We all know that the centralisers, statists and bureaucrats are going nuts over this idea that there should be competition within the NHS. Health care is different they say, markets won’t work and anyway, the NHS is the wonder of the world it is. Presumably why no one has ever copied it.
That health care is different is true: so’s the market in water different from that for houses. This might mean that we want to take care in the way in which we construct a market, how it is regulated, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t actually want to have markets at all. As we find from the limited allowance of markets that were introduced into the NHS a few years back:
The last Labour administration introduced competition between healthcare providers as part of its drive to increase productivity in healthcare. In 2006 the government mandated that all patients must be offered the choice of five – and by 2008 any – hospital in the National Health Service for their treatment.
OK, the result?
We find that hospitals located in areas where patients have more choice are of a higher clinical quality – as measured by lower death rates following admissions – and their patients stay in hospital for shorter periods compared with hospitals located in less competitive areas. What’s more, the hospitals in competitive markets have achieved this without increasing total operating costs or shedding staff. These findings suggest that the policy of choice and competition in healthcare can have benefits – quality in English hospitals in areas in which more competition is possible has risen without a commensurate increase in costs.
Markets bring fewer deaths, shorter hospital stays at no extra cost. We spend the same and get better results: productivity rises is another way of saying the same thing.
So it appears that health care is not as different as all that: competition does its thing of driving up productivity even there. Whocoulddanode?
Foreign language study in British schools
The BBC asked “Should British pupils give up studying French?” However, the key issue isn’t whether or not children should be learning French, but the fact that schools are encouraging children to take easier subjects so that the school scores well on the league tables. Crucially this is not always to the advantage of the children, especially if they plan to apply to elite universities.
Independent schools tend not to do this because their reputation requires that they take greater interest in their pupils. In contrast, many state schools are taking the easy way out. Without radical reform of the education system, the government will only be able to choose between the blunt tools of either compulsion or league tables. Both have undesirable unintended consequences.
Others in the article echo my point. For example, the language learning expert Paul Noble states that “the core reason is because pupils know French is difficult to pass, and difficult to get something out of it”, while Michel Monsauret, attache for education at the French Embassy in London, points out that subjects such as religious studies are on the increase because they are perceived to be easier. Mr Monsauret correctly states that “languages are taught more extensively at private schools in the UK, and their pupils go on to dominate places at Oxbridge and the other best universities.”
Predictably the National University of Teachers (NUT) is appalled: “The policy drift on modern foreign languages is unforgivable”. Children, according to the NUT, aren’t adequately equipped for life in a global society. A bit rich coming from an organization set up to protect the interests of teachers even when against the benefits to parents and children; an organization that is the biggest impediment to reform. Asking the NUT what is best for children is like asking a turkey what should be eaten at Christmas – the goose will always be cooked.
Whether one’s child should be taught French, German, Cantonese or Chamicuro should be solely that of the parents. Of course, they will be limited by what is being offered, which is an argument for a dynamic and competitive system – one driven by the free market, not bureaucratic oversight. That learning a language involves no literature shows how bankrupt the teaching is many of our schools. As such, the lamentations of Aida Edemariam and others are frankly irrelevant.
The teaching of French – or lack of it – is symbolic of the wider failure of bureaucratic control of the education.
British schoolboys ‘being held back by women teachers’ as gender stereotypes are reinforced in the classroom
Women teachers are holding back boys by reprimanding them for typically male behaviour, according to a study out today. They are reinforcing stereotypes that boys are ‘silly’ in class, refuse to ‘sit nicely like the girls’ and are more likely to indulge in ‘schoolboy pranks’.
Women teachers may also unwittingly perpetuate low expectations of boys’ academic achievement and encourage girls to work harder by letting them think they are cleverer.
Schools should avoid dividing pupils into ability groups because the practice often results in girls dominating the higher-achieving tables, concluded the Kent University research.
The study of primary schools in the county suggests that under-performance among boys in most national exams could be linked to lower expectations.
The research mainly implicates women teachers, since nearly 90 per cent of primary school teachers are female. It warned that school staff find boys’ play, such as wielding toy guns, ‘particularly challenging and difficult’. Boys are punished and urged to conform to a more feminine style of play instead of being taught how to play responsibly with their preferred toys.
Bonny Hartley, the study’s lead author, said: ‘By seven or eight years old, children of both genders believe that boys are less focused, able, and successful than girls – and think that adults endorse this stereotype. There are signs that these expectations have the potential to become self-fulfilling in influencing
children’s actual conduct and achievement.’
Girls as young as four think they are cleverer, try harder and are better behaved than equivalent boys, her study found. By the age of seven and eight, boys also believe that their female classmates are more likely have these qualities.
For the study, 238 children aged four to ten were presented with a series of scenarios such as ‘this child is really clever’ and ‘this child always finishes their work’. They were then asked to point to a picture of a boy or a girl to say which they thought was being talked about.
The findings show that from the first year of school girls said their sex was more likely to record better conduct and achievement. From the age of eight, boys were also more likely to say that girls had better performance, motivation and effort, self-control and conduct.
In the second part of the study – being presented today at the British Educational Research Association annual conference at Warwick University – the children were asked if adults believed boys or girls were cleverer and better behaved.
From an early age, girls believe grown-ups think girls have better conduct and achievement. Boys develop the same beliefs around the age of eight.
The study drew no distinction between the beliefs and classroom practices of male and female teachers. Further research by the same team will consider the specific gender stereotypes held by teachers.
Seven myths about green jobs
Comment from Britain
Yet more proof that government mandates are not apt at solving problems, be it creating jobs or cutting carbon emissions. A study published today by International Policy Network, titled Seven Myths about Green Jobs reveals the hidden-costs of “green investments”. Resources will be wasted and growth will be slowed, while there is no guarantee that the environment will benefit.
The coalition government has announced a whole range of green measures to both cut emissions and create jobs: from low-carbon business support programmes to a Green Investment Bank. We can expect the initiatives to be cemented in legislation by this autumn, and rolled out through the country by 2012. After all, the Prime Minister pledged to deliver “the greenest government ever”. And best of all, Clegg assures us that he’ll impress us by “quietly getting on with the job”.
Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is.
What we are likely to see are more bureaucratic jobs, more red tape. And yet more resources siphoned away from productive sectors of the economy.
In fact, many green job proposals actively push for resources to be taken away from highly-productive activities. A United Nations report even calls for fruit to be picked by hand, rather than by machine.
As for the cost? Today’s “green investments” will just add to our already colossal national debt. Even the United Nations admits that a full-fledged green transition – the type they dream about – could cost hundreds of billions, maybe trillions of dollars.
Britain’s business bosses to host Climate Change debate
Former government chief scientist Sir David King, in the green corner, to take on arch-sceptic Lord Lawson in public showdown
The most prominent climate sceptic and the most vocal advocate of the cause in the UK are to take part in their first public debate on the subject.
The “clash of the titans” will be between Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Conservative chancellor and chairman of the sceptical Global Warming Policy Foundation, and Sir David King, a former government chief scientist who once warned that climate change was “more serious even than the threat of terrorism”.
The CBI will host the event at its annual climate change conference in November, and it is likely to inject renewed vigour into a deadlocked debate between two camps that seldom meet face to face and appear to be increasingly entrenched in their positions.
King, head of the Smith school of enterprise and the environment at Oxford University, told the Guardian he had accepted the challenge because he was concerned about a rise in public scepticism about climate change since the affair of the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia last year. These appeared to show that scientists had manipulated data and abused the academic review process, though they were later cleared of these charges.
“It is important to deal with the climate sceptics’ arguments and deal with them fairly robustly,” said King. “I usually avoid the climate sceptics because I seem to be giving them airtime. [But] Lawson is a well-known speaker, so it is not as though I’m taking somebody lightweight on.”
In a written statement, Lawson said: “I have agreed to do this because this is clearly an important issue which needs to be properly debated, and those who promote the conventional wisdom on the issue are usually reluctant to engage in rational debate.
“The cause of reasoned debate on this issue in the UK is not helped, of course, by the fact that there is no difference between the policies of the three political parties so far as global warming is concerned.”
Lawson has previously written that he accepts that global warming is happening, although he has also described climate science as “particularly uncertain”. In a recent article, he repeated the sceptics’ argument: “So far this century there has been no recorded warming at all.”
Lawson also claims the impacts on humans have been exaggerated and is critical of current policies to tackle the problem by cutting carbon emissions, writing that the international political pledge to limit warming to 2C above the average before the industrial revolution is “devoid of either scientific basis or the slightest operational significance”, and advocating mass spending on adapting to the changes instead.
King said that with 2010 projected to be the hottest year on record, it was a good time publicly to counter the claim that temperatures are not rising: although most years since 1998 had been cooler than that record hot year, they were still among the hottest years on record and above the long-term average.
Emma Wild, the CBI’s principal policy adviser for climate change, said: “Both are high-profile figures and passionate advocates for their views. We expect a frank and engaging debate.”
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