The most amazing (and disgraceful) part of this story is the last paragraph
It’s cheaper for the NHS and promises a swifter and less painful recovery, but is your keyhole surgery as safe as you think?
Sitting on the edge of his wife June’s hospital bed, Les Wyles could only look on in despair. Just a few weeks earlier, June had been an active 57-year-old who loved gardening and walking.
Now June lay critically ill in the high-dependency unit after undergoing a keyhole operation to remove her gallbladder as a treatment for gallstones.
Keyhole, otherwise known as laparoscopic surgery, is now the standard treatment for many conditions. Unlike conventional surgery, which involves a large incision, in a keyhole operation the surgeon works through tiny incisions, guided by images transmitted from a camera inserted into the body. As the procedure is minimally invasive, the wounds heal faster. There is also less scarring and less post-operative pain, which means patients can often go home the same day.
But it can go horribly wrong, as June discovered. In her case, the surgeon hadn’t closed the duct leading from her gall bladder, leaving bile leaking into her stomach. None of this was apparent when June was discharged from the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, the next day.
But just a few days later, June began to suffer shooting pains. Despite being re-admitted for tests, she was told there was nothing wrong and, a week later, she was discharged again. The pain became so excruciating that she could barely stand.
June was rushed to hospital when a relation, a retired GP, said her symptoms suggested she had the potentially fatal biliary peritonitis — when bile leaks into the stomach, producing toxins that can lead to organ failure. Though her surgeon was sceptical, scans confirmed the diagnosis. June needed emergency surgery to stop the duct leaking.
Four years on, she needs help when even slightly exerting herself. As well having a long scar running vertically down her stomach, she is frequently in pain. ‘I’m still suffering to this day,’ she says.
It’s an alarming story — and far from unique. Indeed, following a series of blunders involving keyhole surgery, surgeons have been issued a warning about the technique by the National Patient Safety Agency.
In some cases, surgeons damaged patients’ organs. Sometimes the mistake was repaired before the operation was completed, but in others the damage went unnoticed until the patients’ conditions deteriorated.
In the past five years, there have been 11 cases of patients dying as a result of keyhole surgery, and around 500 cases of serious damage — including perforated bowels and damaged blood vessels.
These cases are a worrying development, says Kenneth Park, a surgeon at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Albyn Hospital. He suspects part of the problem is that keyhole surgery is a demanding skill and not every surgeon is up to it.
‘A surgeon may have done hundreds of gall bladder operations, but they have to use a different technique with keyhole,’ he says. ‘It requires spatial awareness, depth perception, and an ability to see things from different angles looking at a screen. ‘Even if those organs have been magnified, it won’t suit all surgeons. Some have to hold their hands up and say it’s not their skill.’
‘In principle, it’s a wonderful concept,’ adds Rory McLoy, a consultant surgeon at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals. ‘But it doesn’t suit everyone. Statistics show 2 to 3 per cent of the UK population don’t have good co-ordination. Therefore it makes sense that surgeons are affected the same way. You need perfect co-ordination to do keyhole.’
There is also concern about how keyhole surgeons’ competency is assessed. ‘You may have a yearly appraisal as a general surgeon, but that is only as rigorous as the appraiser and you may not have done many laparoscopic procedures,’ says Mr Park. ‘But you’ll get a nod for your overall performance.’
Another concern is that many surgeons have high expectations of the operation, which means they might not be prepared for things if they do go wrong, says Mr McLoy, who often appears as an expert witness in legal cases involving keyhole surgery. ‘Patients go to hospital thinking they will be out on the same day, and so do the doctors. I fear this has led to a relaxed attitude. People forget surgery has risks, so they fail to act when signs of complications — such as pain or vomiting — first occur.’
Mr Park adds: ‘It’s easy for there to be a belief that surgery has gone well after the operation. ‘Every tiny stage of the procedure needs to be checked. When complications occur during the keyhole procedure, it may be necessary to convert the operation to traditional surgery. But some surgeons may view that as a failure and will press on with keyhole. ‘People need to know of the risks they take with keyhole surgery’
‘There is a whole new generation of surgeons brought up on doing keyhole. But this may mean they are getting less experience doing traditional surgery. So if there is a need to convert the procedure, it may require calling in a senior surgeon to help. That’s a mental hurdle for a young surgeon.’
Mike Parker, a Royal College of Surgeons council member and the past-president of Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons says: ‘Providing information and the availability of professional support after leaving hospital is basic stuff and will prevent deaths. ‘This type of operation is becoming widely adopted in the NHS because they have been proven to offer fewer complications and a shorter length of stay.’
Meanwhile, June Wyles faces a lifetime of debilitating discomfort following a procedure which had promised to be quick, successful and pain-free. ‘I used to be active, but I can do very little for myself,’ she says. ‘I never imagined this nightmare could happen.’
Although she successfully sued her hospital for negligence, she would like to see the surgeon involved struck off or re-trained .
A spokesman for Royal Cornwall Hospital said: ‘There was no criticism of the way Mrs Wyles’ keyhole procedure was performed, although there was a delay in diagnosing what is a recognised complication of this type of surgery. ‘The General Medical Council supported our own review of her case, which found there was no concern regarding the skill and expertise of her surgeon.’
135,000 ILLEGALS in Britain TOLD ‘YOU CAN STAY’
THOUSANDS of failed asylum seekers will be allowed to stay in Britain to help clear Labour’s massive backlog. More than 135,000 will be told they can remain, with 100,000 cases still ongoing.
Coalition ministers were horrified when they realised the true scale of the problem.
Officials have dealt with two thirds of the 450,000 cases by granting permanent residency to around 2,000 failed applicants each week. Only 35,000 were sent home after assessment, with critics claiming officials have been granting amnesty through the backdoor.
There are fears many cases are being rubber-stamped without proper checks, despite inspectors originally saying the individuals should have been deported. But the Home Office is worried it could face legal challenges under the human rights acts because so many of the cases date back years.
Once applicants have been given indefinite leave to remain, they are one step away from British citizenship which then allows them to claim benefits.
Migrationwatch chairman Sir Andrew Green, 69, said: “This is an appalling legacy from the previous Government and its impact will be to encourage more bogus asylum seekers.”
A spokesman for UK Border Agency said: “All ‘legacy’ cases are considered on their individual merits and we are confident that we will conclude the backlog by summer 2011. “The majority of asylum applications are now being concluded within six months.”
… AS ‘BRIT’ GETS THE BOOT
A businessman who was raised, schooled, married and got his first job in the UK has been told he can’t live here as he’s not “British”, writes Bill Martin. US-born Stephen Hewitt, 50, can trace his Brit ancestry back to 1410.
His first wife is English and eldest daughter Pamela was born here. Now he wants full residency – but an immigration tribunal turned him down because his UK ties are “not strong enough”.
He said: “I’m bitter. I’m not asking for any special circumstances. My family has a long history in England.”
The Borders Agency declined to comment.
Hitler still has his followers among the British Left
As he did in the 1930s
According to author and columnist Virginia Ironside, most adopted kids would be better off dead. As would most children she considers “unfit”. In fact, she says, a “loving” mother would smother a sickly child with a pillow, because the “suffering” of being ill makes that life meaningless and not worth living. She made these vile assertions in defense of abortion while appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live during a discussion grossly entitled “Can abortion be a kindness?” First, her odious attempt to argue that abortion is a “loving choice” because some kids, in her mind, are unwanted. Her tunnel-visioned, sad excuse for a mind can’t seem to fathom the fact that the children are always wanted, by someone. You know, like people with hearts and compassion.
Not having an abortion can amount to selfishness.
Abortion can often be seen as something wicked or irresponsible but in fact it can be a moral and unselfish act. If a baby is to be born severely disabled or totally unwanted, surely abortion is the act of a loving mother.
I was rendered speechless when I first watched this. Killing a child for being inconvenient to someone is “loving, moral and unselfish”? So, having a baby is, therefore, selfish? Besides her utter lack of a soul, she is completely morally bankrupt. And I think she has some explaining to do to very happy and loved children who have been adopted as well as to the mothers who, according to her, were so selfish as to give that child life. My friend, Rick Sheridan, can teach her a thing or two about what an actual unselfish act is. His adopted baby girl can also teach her what a loving mother actually does. Her mama gave her life and gave her A life. She didn’t kill her. She unselfishly bore her and gifted Rick and his wife with a beautiful baby girl. I suggest Virginia look at a picture of Rick and his beautiful daughter and try to explain to her why she would have been better off dead.
Virginia Ironside then followed up her insane arguments for eugenics due to “unwantedness” (it’s so crazy, it needs its own word) by being a proponent of killing children, unborn or born, whose health isn’t up to snuff for her standards.
And I think that if I were a mother of a suffering child, I would be the first to want I mean a deeply suffering child I would be the first one to put a pillow over its head. I would with any suffering thing and I think the difference is that my feeling of horror suffering is many greater than my feeling of getting rid of a couple of cells because suffering can go on for years.
Hey, you know what else can go on for years, Virginia? Someone’s life. You should know. You authored a book called The Virginia Monologues – 20 Reasons Why Growing Old is Great. Yet, you’d willingly kill a child and not give him or her that chance to grow old. Growing old is only great for you and whomever you deem fit enough, huh?
In ancient Sparta, babies who were considered handicapped or in any way not perfectly healthy were exposed to the elements, left on a mountainside to die. Have to “purify” society and all! That was a long time ago and thankfully modern civilization has come a long way. Now we use pillows.
Gee, it’s too bad we don’t have a fancy, new-fangled thing called medicine. To pro-abortionists, an illness is a reason to kill a baby. In fact, they believe that life is expendable for any reason if it doesn’t fit into your personal plans. This includes life that is outside of the woman’s body. Ms. Ironside, like most pro-abortionists, also fails to mention those pesky babies who won’t cooperate and who survive abortion attempts. Much like our President, who gives them so little thought that he, as a Senator in Illinois debating a Born Alive bill, said this:
As I understand it, this puts the burden on the attending physician who has determined, since they were performing this procedure, that, in fact, this is a nonviable fetus; that if that fetus, or child – however way you want to describe it – is now outside the mother’s womb and the doctor continues to think that it’s nonviable but there’s, let’s say, movement or some indication that, in fact, they’re not just coming out limp and dead..
However you want to describe “it”. Sort of like the suffering “things” Ms. Ironside referred to above. And, not coming out limp and dead. How dare they insist on having the human will to live and the strong spirit to survive.
Lest you think Ms. Ironside is just some lone loon, The Guardian helpfully pointed out what monsters Leftists are by running an “article” by one of Ms. Ironside’s fellow travelers:
The decision is always portrayed as being inherently irresponsible and destructive – Ironside argued that, if it prevented an unwanted child or a child being born profoundly disabled, then it was a good decision that a woman could be proud of. It wasn’t the most tactful pro-choice argument you’ve ever heard (at one point, she alludes to “fatherless” children in the same bracket as the unwanted: that will enrage a few single mothers), but it wasn’t a radical new shift in pro-choice thinking.
Yeah, that’s the problem: It might be offensive to some single mothers. The moral bankruptcy is staggering. However, at least she’s honest. It is NOT a new shift in pro-abortion thinking. This is what they believe and it always has been.
The reason it’s controversial is twofold: first, pro-choicers have totally backed out of the abortion conversation, which has in consequence become dominated by anti-abortionists; second, because Ironside collapses “disabled” and “unwanted” into the same category. This is pretty insulting to disabled people..
Oh, we wouldn’t want to be insulting! Killing is okay, but insulting? That’s taboo! Unless of course, you are one of the “unwanteds”. No one cares what you feel.
Of course Ironside is not waging a war against the disabled: she simply said “life isn’t a gift per se”. There are plenty of circumstances that make it more burdensome than joyful.
They have taken the miracle of life and have made it expendable and burdensome. On purpose. There’s the difference between Ms. Ironside and I, and others like me, right there. We know that life is a priceless gift. A child’s life has infinite value that cannot ever be fully measured. No alleged burden can take away from that fact, nor from the multitude of moments of love and joy, of human touch and loving arms, of beauty and grace, of happiness and wonder.
British report unveils radical university reform
A plan for higher university fees, fewer subsidies, more markets and less government has been unveiled by an independent review into the future of the English higher education system.
The radical blueprint, revealed on Tuesday by a panel chaired by Lord Browne, the former chief executive of BP, will cause tremors in the coalition government and problems for Labour.
The review proposes removing the current cap on annual fees of £3,290. If institutions want to charge more than £6,000, however, they will be obliged to pay a levy to recompense the government for the cost of higher student loans.
This levy, it is hoped, will keep fees in check, by increasing rapidly with tuition charges. An academic body raising its annual fees from £6,000 to £7,000 would keep £600 of the uplift in charges. By contrast, a university moving from £11,000 to £12,000 would keep only £250 of the extra income.
In a scenario mapped out in the report, the government could save £2.8bn by concentrating the teaching subsidies paid to universities on courses that are expensive or strategically important and cutting them for other, cheaper subjects. In this situation, average fees would rise to above £7,000.
The report will test the Liberal Democrats, who fought the election promising to abolish fees. But Lord Browne’s recommendations will also cause problems for Labour, which has come out in favour of a graduate tax, an idea that the report dismisses.
Making students pay a greater share of the cost of their degrees would increase the market pressures on English universities. But this is only one pro-market part of the package.
Lord Browne also proposes allowing any student who meets basic attainment criteria to buy education from any provider accredited by a powerful new watchdog, the Higher Education Council. This new super-regulator’s remit would include:
* Making sure that students have the benefit of more information about the courses on offer to them;
* Distributing subsidies on teaching for expensive, strategically important and vulnerable subjects;
* Enforcing teaching quality standards;;
* Making sure new entrants can enter the sector:
* Dealing with financial failure in universities;
* Adjudicting disputes between students and their universities; and
* Enforcement of new access rules.
Institutions charging more than £7,000 would be required to submit to more vigorous scrutiny to make sure that students from poor backgrounds are not being discouraged from applying to them.
The Browne report also proposes a simplification of the current byzantine system of bursaries for poor students. All students would be eligible for a loan to cover living costs and a more generous means-tested grant.
The report also recommends cutting the cost of the heavily-subsidised student loan system, but attempts to do so in a way that does not penalise graduates who go on to earn little money.
As at the moment, all fees would be covered by student loans. Currently, these loans are repaid by graduates, with 9 per cent of income above £15,000 clipped from their pay packets. A zero per cent real interest rate is charged against the balance and outstanding debts are forgiven after 25 years.
Under the new scheme, graduates will pay back 9 per cent of their income above £21,000 and that threshold will rise with earnings. But the interest rate for those who earning more than that level will also be linked to the government’s cost of borrowing and loans would not be forgiven for 30 years.
Any student who earns more than the threshold, but not enough to cover the cost of the higher rate of interest – 2.2 per cent above inflation – would have the rest of interest rebated to them. No student should therefore face a rising real debt burden because of interest accrual.
Part-time students will be given access to this loan system, so long as they study more than one third as intensively as a full-time student.
Vince Cable, the Lib Dem business secretary, asked Lord Browne in July to consider a graduate tax, a special income tax levied on former students that could be used to pay for the university system. Mr Cable has subsequently disavowed interest in the policy. But Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, has meanwhile committed his party to the policy.
Responding to Mr Cable’s request to consider the proposal, the report contains an annex which explains that the graduate tax would need to be set at 3 per cent of lifetime income to pay for the sector and would not raise enough to pay for the whole system until 2041-42. The plan would also increase the deficit by £3bn a year in the short term.
Amid Britons’ protests, UK pushes wind farms
Reg Thompson, a retired computer manager, loves the view from his rear bedroom window over the beech trees and across the lush green fields of Norfolk in the east of England. But if E.ON, a German power company, has its way, that view would soon include five wind turbines about 15 times the height of his house.
The view is not the only thing that worries Thompson, 62. In April, he dressed up in a bird’s costume with pink Wellington boots to protest the turbines and their danger to the rare pink-footed goose the region is famous for. There are 250,000 of them left, and Thompson fears that wind turbines could slash that number. “We were blessed with these rare animals, and the danger is they would either get chopped up by the turbine blades or would be driven off their feeding ground,’’ Thompson said.
The local council is due to decide on E.ON’s planning application later this year.
Despite growing opposition from citizens, nature conservation trusts, and local lawmakers, the government continues to push for more wind farms across the country. Time is ticking toward a deadline in 2020 set by the European Union by which Britain would have to increase the amount of power it generates from renewable sources to 15 percent, from 3 percent now.
Britain is among Europe’s laggards in expanding the renewable share of its energy mix, ranking in the bottom three of the European Union league table just above Luxembourg and Malta. Many industry experts question whether the government can meet the target within a decade, especially when money is tight.
The coalition government was expected to announce drastic cuts in public spending recently as part of a plan to reduce a record public deficit. And even though Prime Minister David Cameron had said renewable energy would remain one of his priorities, it is not clear how much he will be able to spend on such projects as the government cuts social benefits.
In a giant leap toward meeting the European Union target, Britain recently opened the world’s largest offshore wind turbine farm in the North Sea off Thanet, at the southeast tip of England. Operated by Vattenfall, a Swedish energy company, it has 100 turbines spreading over 13.5 square miles, with a capacity to power more than 200,000 homes.
Vattenfall’s turbines raised Britain’s wind-power-generating capacity to five gigawatts, enough to power every home in Scotland, the government said. Chris Huhne, Britain’s energy secretary, said the country was “in a unique position to become a world leader in this industry.’’ “We are an island nation, and I firmly believe we should be harnessing our wind, wave, and tidal resources to the maximum,’’ Huhne said.
Indeed, despite the renewable sector’s lowly ranking in percentage terms, Britain now generates more energy from offshore wind turbines than any other European country, according to the government.
With a height of 377 feet, or 115 meters, Vattenfall’s turbines are visible from the coast in Kent. Unlike onshore wind farms, however, they have attracted few objections from local villagers. As a result, the government has recently started to focus more on offshore than onshore wind farms, even though they tend to be more expensive to build.
British city council bans smiling
“A council has asked staff not to smile when dealing with parking complaints – as it may make drivers angrier.
Staff on induction training for the parking complaints team at Brighton and Hove Council were told a smile could make a row worse.
A spokeswoman at the Tory authority said: “The training is designed to help staff use body language that would not inflame the situation.”
But Mark Turner, of the GMB union, scoffed: “I find this astounding. They should focus on useful training that employees really need.”