Hospital neglect led to baby death
Typical NHS laxity. Nobody can tell them anything. Like all bureaucracies, minimizing their workload is their No. 1 priority
A hospital has admitted liability following the death of a two-day-old boy whose parents warned medics he could have a serious genetic condition.
Luca Picone-Chiodo was discharged from hospital with his mother the day he was born, despite his parents warning staff there was a strong family history of MCAD (Medium-chain acyl CoA dehydrogenase), a condition that affects the metabolism. Medics at Calderdale Royal Hospital failed to carry out any tests to determine whether he had the condition, or give his parents any advice on how to treat it, an inquest heard.
Two days later on October 16, the child – who weighed a healthy 7lb 15oz – stopped breathing and could not be revived after being washed and fed.
Hospital bosses last night said they had admitted liability for the death but would give no comment other than a written statement in which they apologised to the family.
Babies with MCAD cannot use fat reserves to fight off illness, but it is a treatable condition and sufferers can live a normal life if they follow certain dietary advice.
The inquest, held at Huddersfield Coroner’s Court, found that the baby died of natural causes to which neglect by the hospital trust contributed.
The family, who reached an undisclosed settlement with Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust to compensate them for their loss, said they hoped the trust would learn from its mistakes. They said in a statement: “It has been very difficult for us to come to terms with the loss of our son. “There is a family history of this condition and we did all we could to bring this to the attention of the hospital, so it is difficult to understand why this still happened. “We hope the hospital learns from this as we would not want anyone else to have to endure the suffering we are still going through.”
Medical law specialist Sarah Coles, from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, said: “Both parents have a family history of MCAD – particularly Salvatore’s identical twin brother’s sons who had it – and the hospital failed to realise the importance of the baby potentially having this disease. “There was a very high risk and the hospital should have presumed Luca had MCAD until proven otherwise by blood tests which are normally undertaken within 24 hours.”
Helen Thomson, deputy chief executive of Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We would once again like to offer our sincere condolences and apology to Luca’s family.”
British government rolls back the State
George Osborne yesterday launched a historic attempt to turn around the juggernaut of state spending. After decades of relentless expansion, the Chancellor set out plans for nothing less than a dismembering of the welfare system and a rolling back of the bloated public sector.
Unveiling his ambitious reforms, Mr Osborne told MPs: ‘Today is the day when Britain steps back from the brink, when we confront the bills from a decade of debt.’
But middle-class families and women will be particularly hit as the Coalition battles to wipe out an unprecedented budget deficit. Households on incomes of £48,700 or more will lose most during four years of austerity.
The deepest cuts since the 1970s will see £18.5billion a year hacked from benefit spending. There will be a time limit on sickness handouts and a ban on young single Britons getting council flats to themselves at taxpayers’ expense.
Benefit claims are to be limited to £500 a week per household, regardless of family size, saving £270million. More cash will be clawed back through tax credit cuts.
But Mr Osborne’s vision for a leaner, fitter Britain will entail massive pain for the public sector. One in ten state workers will lose their jobs. Their pay will be frozen and they will have to contribute 3 per cent more of their income to fund their gold-plated pensions.
Women will be particularly badly hit. Two-thirds of public sector workers are female, and they will also be worst affected by a dramatic acceleration of the timetable to increase the state pension age for all.
In a blow to the retirement hopes of five million, the pension age for both men and women will rise from 2018, hitting 66 by 2020.
Hundreds of thousands more families will be hit by an end to child benefit for higher-rate taxpayers. The Chancellor said 1.5million households would lose the benefit, saving the taxpayer £2.5billion a year.
Overall, Whitehall spending will crash by a fifth by 2014. Local government, welfare spending, universities, the Home Office, justice, and culture, media and sport will take the biggest hits. Even the Queen will not emerge unscathed, with the Royals’ spending falling by 14 per cent by 2012/13.
Only the NHS, schools and – controversially – overseas aid will get more money.
The Chancellor concluded his long-awaited comprehensive spending review statement with an extraordinary political flourish. Instead of the predicted departmental cuts of 25 to 40 per cent, he revealed his reforms had limited them to 19 per cent on average. That is less than the 20 per cent planned by former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling.
Mr Osborne said that he had acted to restore ‘sanity to our public finances’ and deal decisively with the record peacetime deficit left by Labour. ‘To back down now and abandon our plans would be the road to economic ruin,’ he added. ‘We will stick to the course.
‘We will secure our country’s stability. We will not take Britain back to the brink of bankruptcy. We have made the decision to take the hard road – but it is the right road to a more prosperous, fairer Britain.’
The cost of government borrowing fell as business leaders and the financial markets welcomed the £81billion-a-year cuts package. Richard Lambert, of the Confederation of British Industry, said: ‘The spending cuts, though painful, are essential to balance the UK’s books and build its future prosperity.’
But Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson said: ‘Today’s reckless gamble with people’s livelihoods runs the risk of stifling the fragile recovery. ‘We believe we can and should sustain a more gradual reduction, securing growth.’
The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the measures represented the deepest cuts since the 1970s. Acting director Carl Emmerson warned it was ‘quite possible’ that the Chancellor would have to make further spending cuts or tax rises in order to meet his deficit target.
Foreign worker numbers in Britain surge to a record 2.4m as Eastern Europeans return to Britain
The number of foreigners working in Britain has hit an all-time high despite the fragile state of the recovery. This summer, the total topped 2.4million for the first time after thousands arrived from abroad in the spring.
Some of them were Poles and other Eastern Europeans who began to return to the UK. The number of Eastern European workers also reached a record – of 551,000. It means the workforce of foreigners has surged by more than a million in only seven years.
By contrast the number of Britons in jobs fell by hundreds of thousands during the recession.
The growing total of foreign workers comes at a time of deepening concern over the five million British adults who do not work and the intensification of Government efforts to persuade many that jobs are preferable to a life of benefits dependency.
The rush to take jobs in Britain is also adding to immigration and concerns over population growth and overcrowding.
But some ministers, led by Business Secretary Vince Cable, are anxious to stave off the Coalition’s promised cap on immigration from outside the EU to maintain the flow of skilled and cheap, unskilled foreign workers that employers say they need.
The latest count of foreign citizens working in Britain was released alongside unemployment figures by the Office for National Statistics. It showed there were 2.401million non-UK nationals active in the economy between April and June, up by 147,000 on the previous three months.
The previous peak came at the end of 2008, as the recession began to bite, when there were 2.377million foreign citizens working in Britain. After that, Labour ministers maintained that numbers were falling because thousands of Eastern European migrant workers had gone home.
But by this spring they were returning to take jobs in Britain – a signal that work is widely available. Eastern Europeans may be taking jobs that workers here are reluctant to do, possibly because unemployed Britons regard the jobs as either too low paid or too demanding.
The number of workers from Poland and other Eastern European countries in the EU rose by 54,000 over the three-month period to 551,000. Only seven years ago, in the summer of 2003, before the admission of eight Eastern European countries to the EU, there were 1.39million foreign nationals in jobs in this country.
The new figures, drawn from the Labour Force Survey, showed there were 26.530million Britons in jobs, around 650,000 down from the peak in summer 2008.
Librarians at the House of Commons confirmed that the number of foreign workers is the highest since the count was first carried out in 1997, when it was 966,000.
Home Secretary Theresa May has pledged to set a cap on immigration from outside the EU with the aim of reducing net migration – the rate at which immigration exceeds emigration – to 1990s levels.
Sir Andrew Green, of the Migrationwatch think-tank, warned that a new wave of migrant workers would be damaging. ‘The risk is that we will get economic growth without encouraging more employment among British workers,’ he said.
Let’s end the bog standard in British education
Towards the end of the 19th century and increasingly into the 20th and 21st, politicians and intellectuals became convinced by the idea that they could run the country through central planning than the individual decisions of each and every person acting in their own interest. In this climate of control they usurped and marginalised private schooling, planning centrally what had previously occurred spontaneously. In time the “bog standard comprehensive” came to be the model for all but the richest.
Tony Blair used the term “bog standard comprehensive” in a conference speech, which was coined by the now repentant Peter Hyman. Perhaps it is discourteous to the many talented professionals working in the toughest schools, but its popular usage attests to the fact that it captures the essence of the state we’re in. The “bog” evokes images of stagnation – and this is exactly what has happened under a system directed centrally by the government. While freer industries have thrived in conditions of competition and innovation, centrally planned schooling has languished behind.
Schooling is long overdue for a shakeup to release the talents of the students currently stuck in the quagmire. As an industry, teaching methods are firmly entrenched in the past. For example, most children don’t learn to speak a language despite spending their lives sitting for hundreds of hours in a classroom attempting to do so. Even those with top grades can’t hold a basic conversation. As the language expert Paul Noble points out: “Students realise that even if they do get a GCSE in French, they still won’t be able to speak the language”. In contrast, private companies guarantee that business people will learn more than this in a couple days.
This is not a call for another revision of the national curriculum and a new national strategy to push all children into intensive language lessons. This would entirely miss the point. Instead we need to free schools, and the first way this could be done is to allow them to run for a profit. As with any service industry, experimentation would become the norm and best practice would be copied where appropriate. Education companies abroad are ready to invest, while there are many companies in the UK currently teaching adults various skills that would be able to add immense value to teaching children. Without this change, most will be left mired neck-deep in an unwholesome bog standard education.