Junior doctor’s apology to family as girl, 8, dies after not getting blood test
An inevitable consequence of Britain’s overworked and under-trained junior doctors. Also a product of an NHS culture of not doing diagnostic tests to save money
A doctor who failed to carry out a simple blood test on an eight-year-old girl who later died told her family: ‘I have let you down. I am sorry.’
Zoe Keeling was taken to hospital with a high temperature, stomach ache and sickness in March last year. She was seen by paediatrician registrar Dr Kerry Orlowski, who said she was confident the girl would recover in a few days and discharged her without doing blood tests. But the little girl had been suffering from a bacterial infection and died hours later.
An inquest into her death at North Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent coroner’s court found that the infection may have been picked up had blood tests been carried out.
As the doctor apologised, her family spoke of the ‘emptiness’ they felt after losing their daughter.
Zoe died at her family home in Meir Hay, Stoke-on-Trent, on March 8 last year – a day after being discharged from hospital. She had been suffering from a high temperature, stomach ache and sickness for more than a week, but was told by her GP that it was a viral infection. On March 6, she was rushed to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, but discharged with the same diagnosis the following morning.
A post-mortem examination revealed Zoe died from bronchial pneumonia, toxic shock due to the infection and chronic bronchitis.
Recording a narrative verdict, coroner Ian Smith said: ‘Zoe died from natural causes, in part because a serious complication of her underlying condition had not been diagnosed.’
The inquest heard Zoe was seen by paediatrician registrar Dr Kerry Orlowski, who helped to bring her temperature down before discharging the eight-year-old with a viral infection. Dr Orlowski said she felt confident the youngster would recover within a few days. She did not feel blood tests were necessary.
She said she was ‘devastated’ when she heard about Zoe’s death and thought about it every day. Dr Orlowski said to Zoe’s family: ‘I have let you down. I am sorry.’
Consultant paediatrician Dr Martin Samuels and consultant general paediatrician Dr Ian Doughty both spoke in support of Dr Orlowski. Dr Samuels, who conducted an investigation into Zoe’s death, said: ‘I would consider her a very high-quality junior doctor.’
Dr Doughty, who is based in Manchester and was involved in an independent investigation into Zoe’s death, said he did not think the diagnosis was unreasonable and had no concerns with the action taken that night. But he added: ‘If she was treated earlier, it is likely she would have survived.’
Dr Doughty gave a survival rate of more than 50 per cent if the bacterial infection had been found and treated when Zoe was in hospital.
Coroner Mr Smith said he was sure a full blood test would have revealed an ‘incredibly high white cell count’ which would have led to further investigation and X-rays. He believed that it would have led to treatment with antibiotics. Mr Smith added: ‘I think, from what I have heard, she would have made a recovery, although she would have been a poorly little girl for quite some time.’
Zoe’s parents Paul Keeling and Anita Wilkes have already lodged a complaint against the hospital and NHS Stoke-on-Trent. Speaking after the inquest, the family said they were determined to continue with legal action. Miss Wilkes, 40, said: ‘It has been proven now that Zoe could have been saved. I feel empty because there was no reason for me to lose her.’
Desperate Warmist Video
Killing people is amusing to the Green/Left. Their kinship with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot etc. is evident
UK cinemas see national release of ‘fun’ new climate activists campaign video showing killing of global warming deniers. Film marked with a parental advisory warning.
Touted in The Guardian newspaper the film labeled, “Not suitable for children” marks a new low in environmentalist cinematic propaganda. Announcing the film’s release the national newspaper boasts, “Our friends at the 10:10 climate change campaign have given us the scoop on this highly explosive short film, written by Britain’s top comedy screenwriter Richard Curtis, ahead of its general release.” (hat tip: Barry Woods).
Last Ditch Attempt in Failing Campaign
The offering is being dismissed as a lamentable last-ditch attempt to salvage something of the British government’s futile and soon redundant‘10:10 climate change campaign’ (an initiative to persuade Brits to cut 10% from their carbon emissions in 2010). Official figures show that UK household emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) increased by more than 3% this year as domestic fuel use rose due to colder temperatures.
Guardian readers are invited to guffaw as role models and authority figures depicted in the film press a red button and detonate global warming ‘deniers’ into gory lumps of offal. Packaged in the guise of humor this naked hard sell seems a pitiful attempt at convincing the ‘one or two’ of us who are still left that the sky really is falling despite no rising temperatures globally since 1998.
Gillian Anderson (X-Files) and Radiohead join the motley collection of B listers and has-been former soccer stars. Along with indifferent school kids and non-compliant office workers the naysayers all have their innards exploded. No doubt an enhanced 3-D high-definition sequel will be in the pipeline if the premier of this ‘offaling’ goeswell. For your edification you can watch a nay-saying soccer player and movie star vaporize into gory pulp- all for ignoring their carbon footprint!
Bad Year for Hollywood’s Warmist Cinema
Sadly, 2010 is fast turning into a bad year for tree-hugging film makers. It started with so much promise with the general release of James ‘Chicken’ Cameron’s animated full length feature, ‘Avatar.’ But, Cameron, the new Hollywood darling of the warmist crazies, turned tail and ran after canceling at the very last minute after demanding a climate debate with prominent skeptic, Marc Morano of Climate Depot.
On this evidence, Curtis and Hamilton have so much in common: both appearing to be intellectually bankrupt yet filled by self-loathing as they mournfully concede that public interest in climate-related issues just walked off a cliff.
Setting the bar so low with its most simple (or should that be simplistic?) message, this mercifully short film, also showing on Youtube, is literally tripe and speaks more to the converted than non-believers. But as they say, all publicity is good, right?
Elite rule in Britain
When Ed Miliband stood before his party faithful last week as their new leader, grinning nervously in the glare of the spotlight, did his mind flicker back to the men who preceded him?
From its very first leader, Keir Hardie, who started work at the age of just ten in the coalmines of Lanarkshire, to the perma-tanned, globe-trotting, book-flogging Tony Blair, it is safe to say that the self-described people’s party has travelled an awfully long way.
Yet listening to Mr Miliband joking awkwardly about boyhood battles with his defeated brother David, it was hard not to wonder what on earth Labour’s most famous names would have made of the state of their party.
What would self-made men such as Ernest Bevin and Jim Callaghan, who hauled themselves up by their bootstraps from poverty, think of a leadership election that asked members to choose between two privileged, Oxford-educated brothers from North London?
What would war heroes such as Major Clement Attlee and Major Denis Healey make of an election in which neither of the leading candidates had ever held a job outside the political arena?
And what, they might well ask, does it say about the sad state of British politics that our three major parties are led by smooth fortysomethings who might have been cast from exactly the same mould?
Look again at the scenes of delight and despair at last week’s Labour conference, and you see not just an astonishingly incestuous story of fraternal rivalry, but a damning indictment of the collapse of opportunity in modern Britain — and a depressing reminder of the extent to which we are now governed by a tiny, closed and thoroughly narcissistic political class.
And the one characteristic they all share is an overwhelming sense of entitlement that — despite having no knowledge of the real world — they believe gives them a preordained right to rule over us.
But as genuine mobility slips further from reach, there has rarely been a greater gulf between rulers and ruled. Perhaps not since the Victorian era has the distance between the voter and the politician seemed such a chasm.
After all, Ed Miliband makes a very unconvincing spokesman for the ordinary men and women who Labour claims to defend. How many ordinary Labour voters grew up listening to discussions of socialist theory in their Primrose Hill drawing room? How many teenagers today are invited to review films on LBC radio, or work as interns for leading politicians, as ‘Red Ed’ did for Tony Benn?
Depressingly, however, Labour’s new leader is entirely typical of the slick, privileged and strikingly youthful men and women who now dominate our public life.
And for all Mr Miliband’s tiresome emphasis on his youth, British politics could surely do with a few more grey hairs and balding pates. David Cameron and Nick Clegg are both 43, while Ed Miliband is only 40. That makes him less than half the age of the great Liberal statesman William Gladstone, who was 82 when he led his last reforming government in 1892.
Unfashionable as it may be, there is surely much to be said for the wisdom of years. Winston Churchill, after all, was almost 66 when he answered his country’s call in 1940. He had been in Parliament for 40 years, and first entered the Cabinet in 1908 — yet it was precisely because he was so experienced, so seasoned, so battle-hardened, that he was the ideal man to lead our nation through its darkest and finest hours. By contrast, today’s politicians might as well have come straight from nursery school.
Indeed, so smooth and effortless has Mr Miliband’s rise been that when he talked last week about the rise of his ‘new generation’, he seemed to have no inkling of the value of hard-fought experience.For him, the new generation means people like his brother David, who enjoyed the same favoured education — Haverstock School in North London, a politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) degree at Oxford and a spell at a top American university.
Or people like Ed Balls — son of a professor, privately educated at Nottingham High School, PPE at Oxford and a spell at Harvard. Indeed, the closer you look, the harder it becomes to tell the members of our political class apart. Mr Balls’ wife Yvette Cooper read PPE at Oxford, too, before making the obligatory trip to Harvard.
And despite all her talk of equality, Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman is hardly a great advert for social mobility: she went to St Paul’s Girls, the expensive sister school to George Osborne’s alma mater. Amazingly, perhaps, Mr Osborne himself did not read PPE at Oxford; he read history instead. But David Cameron read PPE, although the Prime Minister will surely be too much of a gentleman to mention that while Ed Miliband only got a 2:1, he got a First.
And though Nick Clegg, perhaps showing a flash of Lib Dem eccentricity, read anthropology, not politics or history, his background is so strikingly similar it is no wonder that he and Mr Cameron get along so well. The son of a banker, he went to private school and Cambridge, spent his holidays as a skiing instructor and then, naturally, went off to America to study at the University of Minnesota and work as an intern at a Left-wing magazine.
There is nothing wrong with a private education, an Oxbridge training or a privileged background. Sadly, though, the fact is that at a time when social mobility has stalled, with bright, hard-working children from poor backgrounds struggling to make their way up the ladder, Britain is governed by a tiny political class with almost identical backgrounds, life stories and values.
There are, of course, notable exceptions. For my money, the man Labour should have chosen as their next leader was Alan Johnson, an orphan brought up in a council flat by his sister, who passed his 11-plus, went to grammar school and worked as a shelf-stacker before becoming a postman.
No doubt the former Home Secretary has his weaknesses. But at least people would have believed him when he claimed to understand the plight of ordinary families, and at least he could be said to embody the values of thrift, decency and hard work.
The fact is that at a time when social mobility has stalled, with bright, hard-working children from poor backgrounds struggling to make their way up the ladder, Britain is governed by a tiny political class with almost identical backgrounds, life stories and values
An exception: Brought up on a council estate by a single mother, educated at a local grammar school, Mr Davis became an insurance clerk, joined the Territorial Army to pay for re-taking his exams and ended up working for Tate & Lyle for 17 years. There could hardly be a better example of that dying breed, the working-class Tory MP, or a more compelling story of aspiration, ambition and social mobility — in which, you suspect, his grammar school education played a central part.
There have, of course, always been hacks and apparatchiks. Remembered today as a Tory grandee who served as Chancellor, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Deputy PM, Rab Butler was only 26 when he entered Parliament in 1929, and like so many of his modern-day successors, he never held a proper job outside politics in his life. Significantly, he was denied the leader’s mantle that he felt was his by right.
But 50 or 60 years ago, the stories of Alan Johnson and David Davis would have seemed rather less exceptional than they do today.
Four out of ten Labour MPs came from manual working-class families: Attlee’s deputy PM Herbert Morrison was the son of a Lambeth police constable, while Labour’s deputy leader in the late 1950s, Jim Griffiths, was one of ten children born to a Welsh blacksmith, left school at 13 and took night classes while working as a miner.
And even the Old Etonian Harold Macmillan’s front bench boasted the talents of Reginald Bevins, a former Royal Artillery gunner who was one of five children born into a working-class Liverpool family.
Indeed, the ultimate indictment of today’s political system is that instead of becoming more open, it actually seems to be going backwards, becoming ever more narrow, privileged and exclusive.
Today’s House of Commons is stuffed full of Rab Butlers, thanks largely to the efforts of the party machines to secure safe seats for privileged youths such as the Tory millionaire Zac Goldsmith in Richmond and Labour’s Tristram Hunt, the Left-wing historian, in Stoke. And, sadly, the Alan Johnsons and David Davises are becoming all too rare.
Wasn’t it ever thus? In a word: no. Turn the clock back 60 years, and the political class looked very different. At the head of the Labour Party in 1950 was the modest, unassuming Clement Attlee, who had enjoyed a privileged background and a Haileybury education, but learned the harsh realities of life while working with deprived children in the East End of London.
Like many politicians of his day, Attlee knew the rigours of war at first hand, serving with the South Lancashire Regiment in Gallipoli. Later he fought in Iraq, where he was badly wounded by shrapnel, and ended up in the trenches on the Western Front.
Attlee’s great collaborator Ernest Bevin had a very different life story. Born to a poor family in rural Somerset, he never knew his father, left school at just 11 and had to read the daily paper to his illiterate relatives. And to people who met him as a young man, the idea that this West Country labourer would one day become Foreign Secretary would have seemed laughable.
Yet this was the man who not only reorganised British industry to win World War II, but helped to establish Nato and the United Nations, built the post-war Western alliance against Soviet Communism and pushed for Britain to develop its own nuclear deterrent.
As his friend, opponent and wartime colleague Winston Churchill admiringly put it, Bevin’s ‘manliness, his common sense, his rough simplicity, sturdiness and kind heart, easy geniality and generosity’ were the envy of the Commons. Bevin had learned the value of hard work and sacrifice: when he invoked the British people, he knew what he was talking about.
What Bevin would make of his latter-day successors can only be imagined. Perhaps one day somebody, too, will wax lyrical about Ed Miliband’s manliness, sturdiness and common sense. But I would not stake my house on it.
The crucial point, though, is that Bevin was not alone in bringing a wide experience of life to the political arena. When he looked around the House of Commons in the 1940s and 1950s, he saw young men like Denis Healey who had orchestrated the Allied landings at Anzio, or Ted Heath who had commanded an artillery battery in Northern France.
Both Healey and Heath were from modest backgrounds; both had worked their way up by their own efforts; both, crucially, had benefited from a grammar school education. And within a few years they would be joined by another ambitious young politician who was to leave an even greater mark on our national story.
Margaret Thatcher’s background could hardly have been more different from the gilded intellectual cage inhabited by the Miliband brothers. The daughter of a Methodist grocer in Grantham, Lincolnshire, she won a scholarship to Kesteven and Grantham Girls, a local grammar school, where she first established a reputation for ferocious hard work.
Shamefully, critics often held her background against her: in the 1980s, the philosopher Mary Warnock mocked Mrs Thatcher’s accent, clothes and hair as ‘not exactly vulgar, just low’.
The tragedy is that at a time when ordinary families are feeling the pinch, and when the headlines are full of austerity, pain and sacrifice, our political class has never been more out of touch
But unlike the boarding school-educated Baroness Warnock, Mrs Thatcher had worked for everything she achieved. It was sheer brains and effort, not family connections, that drove her from Grantham to Downing Street.
And her belief in the virtues of hard work, inspired by her simple Methodist faith and grammar school education, lay at the heart of her political outlook. Her one aim, she said, was to ‘change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society, from a give-it-to-me to a do-it-yourself nation’.
Margaret Thatcher, the champion of free markets, and Ernest Bevin, the soul of old-fashioned Labour, might make odd ideological bedfellows. But what they had in common was precisely what is missing from so many of today’s political class — a set of basic values, a love of effort and hard work, and a rounded awareness of life and its perils, inspired by their background, education and experience.
Unlike today’s political leaders, they knew what life was like for millions of ordinary people for whom the gilded splendour of the Palace of Westminster seemed as distant as the craters of the moon.
Like their colleagues Aneurin Bevan, a former Welsh coal miner, or Willie Whitelaw, a tank commander in Normandy, they had learned the lessons of life from bitter experience, not in the seminar rooms of Harvard.
‘I get it,’ Mr Miliband said over and over again last week, just as his spin doctors had instructed him. But you wonder whether, given his cloistered background, his lack of experience and his narrow horizons, he can ever really understand the hopes and fears of millions of people in Warrington, Welshpool and Wolverhampton, people who never had his good fortune or family connections.
The Labour Party may call itself the people’s party. But as the political class celebrate their victory, and the hard realities of life slip ever further from view, you wonder whether its nickname has ever seemed less appropriate.
‘Christian’ Easter eggs snubbed by stores claims Church Of England
Supermarkets are reluctant to stock specially branded Easter eggs which mention Jesus on the packaging, the Church of England said yesterday. The chocolate eggs are being produced by the Church next Easter after it found that none of the 80million on sale this year had a religious theme.
The packaging around the £3.99 Real Easter Egg carries a panel explaining how Christians believe that Christ was crucified on Good Friday and rose again on Easter Sunday. ‘Many believe that chocolate eggs represent the boulder that sealed his tomb,’ the box tells buyers.
And, amid the more typical art work showing butterflies, bunnies and chickens, the packaging depicts a green hill with three crosses on it.
But in its negotiations with stockists, the Church has found that some large chains are resistant to stocking such overtly religious products for children. A CofE spokesman said: ‘Despite the obvious demand, not all UK supermarkets are planning to stock the egg next year.’
The criticism comes in the wake of the Pope’s state visit to Britain last month in which he attacked ‘aggressive secularism’ and set out his dismay at attempts to stifle the celebration of Christian festivals such as Christmas and Easter ‘in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none’.
Last night, two of the supermarket chains that have not yet made a decision said they were not opposed in principle. A Waitrose spokesman said: ‘We have asked the supplier for more information on this new product but in principle it is something that we would be really interested in.’ At the Co-op, a spokesman said: ‘No decision about stocking the egg has been made as we have not yet finalised our plans for our Easter range.’
The CofE spokesman said: ‘There are over 80million chocolate Easter eggs sold each year in the UK and, incredibly, not one mentions the Christian understanding of Easter on the box.’
The Church of England believes demand for religious Easter eggs will come from: seven million people who are at least occasional churchgoers; seven million who support the Fairtrade organisation which is supplying the chocolate for its egg; and from 8,000 church schools, which will encourage pupils to buy them.
The eggs, produced by a spin-off company from the CofE’s Manchester diocese, will benefit two charities: Traidcraft Exchange, which helps Third World farmers; and Baby Lifeline, which supplies hospitals with equipment and gives training to medical staff.
British critics of choice in education should go back to school
Writing in the TES, English teacher Julie Greenhough has a short article entitled ‘Why freedom of choice is often no freedom at all’. It is sympathetic towards a view that has recently been expressed by many working in education: that freedom doesn’t work.
Ms Greenhough opens with the classic ‘too much choice’ argument. Apparently, she didn’t buy a cup of tea because she was faced with too much choice. I suppose that is why shops don’t tend to sell thousands of different pots of jam or types tea for that matter. And this, I suppose, is the reason companies advertise and build up branding, as we don’t want to read the label of every product. Instead, we can draw on information from the market and get a free ride from even more advanced consumers. Variable pricing also transmits useful signals of this front, while feedback from friends, family, the media, as well as consumer oriented magazines and websites are part of the process.
Next there is a swipe at those supporting Swedish-style reforms in education. Ms Greenhough thinks the fact that we spend 5.6% of GDP and Sweden spends 7.1% of GDP on education is enough to cast the reforms aside as useless. Of course more money can help (up to a point), but it is far from the be all and end all of a good education system. If it were, Cuba would be twice as advanced in education as even Sweden and that is clearly not the case. In fact, the fact that the Swedish reforms have proved so successful – garnering increasing support from parents, pupils and politicians – suggests that we can see improvements without having to spend more money, a policy that surely deserves support from libertarians and socialists alike.
In the final part of the article, Ms Greenhough suggests that because more pupils have been achieving better grades, we are already seeing educational improvement. I wish this were the case. Recently Mick Waters claimed that the exam system is ‘diseased’. Although Mr Waters misdirects his ire at the wrong target – it is principally the fault of government regulation, not disreputable companies – there can be little doubt that the image he portrays is broadly accurate. Grades are being inflated and devalued as fast as the pound. Radical change is needed if this is to be reversed.