Father-of-four ‘refused treatment for mole’ now has life-threatening cancer
A cancer sufferer has told how a surgeon allegedly refused to remove a bleeding mole from his shoulder because he considered it to be a ‘cosmetic’ procedure. Father-of-four Jon Edmonds, 42, now has malignant melanoma which has spread through his body – leaving him with less than a 50 per cent chance of living more than five years.
Mr Edmonds, a chartered accountant, believes the cancer’s spread could have been prevented and is suing the NHS for more than £300,000. He claims a consultant plastic surgeon dismissed his concerns and failed to treat him appropriately.
Four years later Mr Edmonds was urgently referred to hospital following a visit to his GP and the mole was removed. Just days later he was told he had malignant melanoma and needed further surgery.
He said yesterday: ‘I am very angry that a procedure to remove the mole which should have been undertaken five years ago was not undertaken, and as a consequence my life has been put in jeopardy. ‘The failure to carry out that minor and inexpensive procedure is now likely to cost the NHS a very large sum of money. ‘I only work one day each week now. I would like to work more but my condition has made me unemployable. I do worry about how I am going to support myself in the future.’
Mr Edmonds’s GP originally referred him to the Pigmented Lesion Clinic at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol in October 2005 after noticing a mole on his left shoulder. The consultant allegedly told Jon the mole was probably a bite or a sting and did not advise him about any follow up treatment or what to do if it changed in appearance. Mr Edmonds claims he was then discharged without treatment after being told the mole was ‘no cause for concern’.
Friends encouraged him to have the it examined again after part of it fell off in February 2008 but he decided not to following the surgeon’s previous advice. But he visited his GP again in June 2009 after a scar near the mole began to change colour and he was urgently referred to the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
Surgeons there removed the mole and a few days later informed him he had malignant melanoma and needed further surgery. In August that year he had a larger area of skin taken from his left shoulder and this summer had eight nodes – three cancerous – removed from under his left arm.
Simon Elliman, head of the Clinical Negligence Unit at Withy King Solicitors, lodged a writ before the High Court on Wednesday seeking ‘very substantial damages’ for Mr Edmonds from North Bristol NHS Trust. Mr Elliman said: ‘There is no doubt from the expert evidence that we have obtained that Jon should have had this mole cut out in 2005. ‘The fact that he wasn’t even followed up compounded the error.
‘He is now left with a far less favourable prognosis than he should have been, and in the circumstances we are pursuing the claim as quickly as we can, and expect to recover very substantial damages for Jon.’
The writ claims Mr Edmonds would have had the mole removed in 2005, 2006 or 2008 if it had not been for [the consultant’s] advice. His five-year survival prospects would not have been reduced to less than 50 per cent had he done this, the writ states.
A spokesman from North Bristol NHS Trust said: ‘We are aware of the claim. We are unable to comment because of ongoing legal proceedings.’
Middle class children in Britain suffering rickets
I think that this is another case of the dog that didn’t bark. Use of the term “middle class” tends to suggest “white”, but from my reading elsewhere the affected children in the South are mainly black, brown and Middle Eastern. Many brown (subcontinental) families would be middle class. It is of course white skin that is best at converting sunlight into vitamin D.
Nonetheless, the official British obsession with suncream is amusing. Britons get so little sun that one wonders why they bother. It is certainly another case of wrongheaded official advice. In Britain, the benefit of getting vitamin D from the sun surely outweighs the risk of sun damage to the skin. Melanoma is so rare in Britain that British doctors often don’t recognize it when they see it. A quite gross case in point here
However you look at it, however, a resurgence of rickets is a case of gross public health failure. It was cured in Britain around the time of WWII by adding Vitamin D to margarine. And in America, vitamin D is often added to milk. With the explosion of the health bureaucracy in recent years, one would have expected public health measures such as those I have just mentioned to be firmly in place. Subcontinental (e.g. Indian) families could be assisted by adding vitamin D to ghee, their usual (butter-derived) cooking oil. Just another example of bureaucratic failure, I guess
Middle class children in the south of England are suffering from the ’17th century disease’ rickets as parents cover them in sunscreen and limit time outside in the sunshine, a leading doctor has warned. The disease, caused by low levels of vitamin D generated in the body from sunshine and certain foods, had died out around 80 years ago but is now coming back.
Cases of rickets in children have occurred in northern England and Scotland where there are fewer months of the year with sufficient sunshine to obtain enough vitamin D but now doctors are seeing it on the South coast as well.
It is thought extensive use of sunscreen, children playing more time on computer games and TV rather than playing outside and a poor diet are to blame.
Professor Nicholas Clarke, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton General Hospital and professor of paediatric orthopaedic surgery at the University of Southampton, said: “The return of rickets in northern parts of the UK came as a surprise despite the colder climate and lower levels of sunshine in the north, but what has developed in Southampton is quite astonishing.”
Children from all backgrounds are being affected now and the disease is not limited to the poor as it was in Victorian times.
He added: “In my 22 years at Southampton General Hospital, this is a completely new occurrence in the south that has evolved over the last 12 to 24 months and we are seeing cases across the board, from areas of deprivation up to the middle classes, so there is a real need to get national attention focused on the dangers this presents.”
Professor Clarke says he and colleague Dr Justin Davies, a consultant paediatric endocrinologist, have checked over 200 children for bone problems and more than 20 per cent of them have significant deficiencies. “A lot of the children we’ve seen have got low vitamin D and require treatment,” he said.
“This is almost certainly a combination of the modern lifestyle, which involves a lack of exposure to sunlight, but also covering up in sunshine, and we’re seeing cases that are very reminiscent of 17th century England.”
He added: “We are facing the daunting prospect of an area like Southampton, where it is high income, middle class and leafy in its surroundings, seeing increasing numbers of children with rickets, which would have been inconceivable only a year or so ago.”
Professor Clarke says vitamin D supplements should be more widely adopted to halt the rise in cases. Vitamin D is found in oily fish and eggs and margarine, cereals and milk can be fortified with it. The vitamin is vital for the absorption of calcium needed for strong bones and teeth.
Christmas crackers: child banned from buying festive favourites
Insane British nanny-state laws
A shop assistant refused to let a six-year-old girl help her mother buy a box of Christmas crackers – because of laws banning the sale of “explosives” to children. The cashier told Lisa Innes, 36, that taking the box from her daughter Tia-Rose for scanning at the till was illegal due to the “snap” in the crackers.
Mrs Innes was told that the rules still applied even though she was the one paying for the £4.99 box of ten crackers at the QD store in Stowmarket, Suffolk. The assistant insisted that the Deluxe red and silver crackers could only be bought if they were handed over by an adult for scanning.
Mother-of-three Mrs Innes said the ruling left Tia-Rose in tears because she thought she might end up in jail for breaking the law. She said: “The whole thing was just bizarre. It was just an example of the ridiculous nanny state we live in. “Tia-Rose loves pulling crackers on Christmas Day like any other child and she has never managed to blow herself up yet.”
The incident happened after she and her daughter carried several items to the till for payment while out shopping with her 15-year-old son Brandon. Mrs Innes of Buxhall near Stowmarket said: “There was a huge display of crackers in the store and Tia-Rose was attracted to them straight away. “I was not planning to buy any, but I agreed to get some because they were such a reasonable price.
“Tia-Rose asked if she could hold the crackers and I said ‘yes’ as I didn’t see an issue. Nobody batted an eyelid as we walked around the shop a few times. “But when we got to the till the lady told me, ‘Do you realise you have been breaking the law’. “I looked behind me thinking she was talking to someone else – but then she stated that allowing Tia-Rose to walk around with the crackers was against the law. “She said that she couldn’t take the box from her as she was under 16 and the crackers were classed as explosives. “I could have understood if they were fireworks – but they were just harmless crackers.
“It was also obvious that Tia-Rose wasn’t paying for them – but the lady still refused to take them from her. “I was really shocked and my son Brandon was speechless which doesn’t happen an awful lot. “I ended up putting down the things I was carrying and giving her the box of crackers myself. “Then the assistant scowled at me when I said I would be giving the box back to my daughter.”
She added: “I have to say it upset Tia-Rose so much for two reasons. Firstly, she thought that she couldn’t have a Christmas cracker on Christmas day. “Secondly, she also thought that I was going to get sent to prison as the lady said, I had broken the law. She was inconsolable. “The only way I could stop her cry was by insisting that nobody was going to jail and taking her to the bakery for a pink bun.
“I wish stores would think before saying such things to parents with young children around.”
A QD Stores spokesman defended the assistant’s actions and said the crackers, along with knives and fireworks, were restricted items. He said: “This item is designated as an age-related sale due to the snap inside the cracker. “It’s trading standards legislation that such purchases cannot be sold to a person under 16 and in this case we couldn’t sell them to a child.”
The spokesman accepted that Tia-Rose was not actually making the purchase, but he said the assistant could not be seen to accept the item from her. He added: “Sales assistants and companies can incur very heavy fines in these cases.”
The Pyrotechnics Articles (Safety) Regulations introduced in 2010 reinforced laws banning the sale of explosive items to children. The regulations ban all Under 18s from buying outdoor fireworks – but Under 16s are also banned from buying crackers, novelty matches and indoor fireworks. Anyone breaching the rules can face prosecution by the Heath and Safety Executive with a maximum penalty of a (pounds) 5,000 fine or three months imprisonment.
Tribunal fight for Christian doctor axed by panel in gay adoption row
A Christian doctor ousted from a council adoption panel after refusing to endorse gay couples is taking her case to an employment tribunal, claiming religious discrimination. In a case that could go all the way to the European courts, Dr Sheila Matthews said there was ‘no reason’ the council could not find a compromise to accommodate her views.
She has now resigned from her £72,000-a-year post as a community paediatrician, claiming her career has been irreparably damaged.
Dr Matthews blames political correctness for creating a ‘hostile climate’ for Christians, adding: ‘It is getting really scary. ‘The anger I feel is not only for me but for lots of other people of faith who feel they have to choose between their beliefs and their job.’
Her case, which starts tomorrow in Leicester, follows that of Eunice and Owen Johns, a couple from Derby who were banned from fostering because of their traditional Christian views about homosexuality.
Dr Matthews says her objections to gay adoption are based on scientific findings as well as biblical teachings.
The 50-year-old mother-of-one was appointed as medical adviser to one of Northamptonshire County Council’s two adoption panels six years ago. She medically examined couples who applied to adopt to make sure they were healthy enough to provide a child with long-term care. She then reported to the ten-strong panel made up of councillors, social workers and lay people, of which she was a full member.
The panel then interviewed applicants before members voted on whether the prospective adoptive parents should be recommended.
But the final decision in all adoption cases was made by the council’s head of children and young people’s services, who was not bound by the panel’s advice.
Dr Matthews’s problems arose in January 2009 when a gay
couple applied to adopt, the first such case since the introduction in 2006 of equality laws that required adoption agencies to consider homosexual candidates in the same way as hetero¬sexual ones.
Dr Matthews, a Christian since she was a teenager, said she
had concluded after years of research that gay households were not as good for vulnerable children as a father and mother. Rather than voting against the gay applicants, however, she told the head of Northamptonshire’s adoption team that she would abstain.
In April last year, however, she was summoned to a meeting with the head of children’s services. A month later, she was removed as a full member of the panel. In August, the NHS Primary Care Trust, which had allowed her to continue as the medical adviser without voting rights, replaced her in this role. In March this year she resigned.
Dr Matthews said the council had acted unreasonably as only a tiny number of cases involved gay couples, and it would have been easy to allow her to abstain or find a substitute for her on the panel on those occasions.
Her case is being backed by the Christian Legal Centre and she is being represented by human rights lawyer Paul Diamond. Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, said: ‘It cannot be right that a doctor of such standing is forced from her role on an adoption panel just because of her professional and Christian views.’
A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: ‘It is inappropriate to comment on this matter at this stage’.
The right to speak out: British doctor who questioned efficacy of ‘breast-boosting’ cream threatened with libel action
A cream that claims to give women bigger breasts was last night at the centre of a major legal row that threatens the rights of doctors and scientists to speak their minds without fear. The attempt by the cream’s makers to silence experts’ criticism of their product is the latest attack on freedom of speech under Britain’s increasingly controversial libel laws.
The cream, called simply ‘Boob Job’, is advertised with the claim that it will increase a woman’s bust size by half a cup size. It costs £125 for a 100ml jar.
It is one of several major cases in recent months involving legal threats to doctors, scientists and science writers who have criticised commercial organisations. Cases have included a battle over whether a writer could question the effectiveness of chiropractors, a vitamin manufacturer’s bid to penalise a doctor who doubted claims that vitamins could treat HIV/Aids patients, and an action against a doctor who queried clinical trials of a medical device.
The latest row involves legal threats against plastic surgeon Dr Dalia Nield, who voiced her reservations over Boob Job.
Makers Rodial said natural chemicals in the cream, would, if rubbed on a woman’s chest in a circular motion every day for 56 days, increase the number of fat cells in the breasts and improve their ability to store fat. Dr Nield said in remarks published by the Daily Mail last month that it was ‘highly unlikely’ the cream would increase bust size.
She also questioned the amount of information provided by Rodial and warned that the gel ‘may even harm the skin and the breasts’, adding: ‘We need a full analysis.’
Chelsea-based Rodial was founded in 1999 by Greek businesswoman Maria Papageorgiou, 40, also known as Maria Hatzistefanis. It claims to have an annual turnover of more than seven figures, while its beauty and skincare products are sold in 200 stores in ten countries worldwide.
Hegarty, a legal firm representing Rodial, has written to Dr Field to demand detailed explanations of her remarks and warning her to ‘seek independent legal advice’.
The move has come despite a resounding Appeal Court judgment in April in favour of science writer Simon Singh, who called chiropractors’ claims that they could treat colic, ear infections and feeding problems in babies and toddlers ‘bogus’.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said anyone considering it a libel would be acting as ‘an Orwellian Ministry of Truth’. Medical organisations rallied round Dr Nield yesterday. Fazel Fatah, of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said: ‘Doctors, who have a duty of care to patients, and the public at large, should be able to give their considered opinions and show scepticism, without fear of libel suit.’
Senior libel lawyer Rod Dadak, head of defamation at Lewis Silkin solicitors, said: ‘They’re trying to gag her. These proceedings are completely misplaced. Her defence is that it’s fair comment. ‘To try to stop such comments being made is not in the company’s interest or that of the members of the public – certainly not the users of the cream.’
Let’s be clear about this; the very basis of science is the ability to say ‘No, you are wrong’ without fear or hindrance. That is how science progresses – by discovering new things and pouring cold water on old certainties. If it starts to be seen as defamatory to contradict a claim, then the very heart of scientific inquiry, not to mention basic freedom of speech, is under threat.
Last year, the science writer Simon Singh was sued by the British Chiropractic Association after pointing to the lack of evidence for some of the claims made by its practitioners. After a storm of protest, the case was dropped, but not before Dr Singh had suffered months of stress wondering if he was going to lose his house and everything he owned if the courts found against him.
Because England’s laws are so generous to litigants, ‘libel tourists’ who feel they have been wronged in newspapers and scientific journals use the fact that these publications are usually published in English online (and hence ‘published’ here) to cash in and silence criticism at the same time.
Sadly, our libel laws are being used even by ‘respectable’ institutions that want critics silenced. Dr Peter Wilmshurst, a consultant cardiologist at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, is being sued by American company NMT Medical for voicing concerns about some of NMT’s research. NMT recently threatened to sue Dr Wilmshurst a second time for going on Radio 4’s Today programme last year to talk about his case.
Ornithological charity the RSPB, meanwhile, is currently being sued by two conservationists, Gordon and Christine Bowker, for criticising their scientific research on population decline in black grouse.
And a Portuguese professor of linguistics, Francisco Lacerda, was sued by Nemesysco, a lie detector manufacturer, after he wrote a peer-reviewed paper in an international journal suggesting that their machines do not work.
Professor Lacerda works in Sweden; the lie detectors are made in Israel. But it was English libel laws that were used to try to silence him, in what Dr Singh has called the ‘global chill’ caused by our legal system.
Worse, because the most insidious form of censorship is self-censorship, editors of the leading scientific journals now consult their lawyers for every edition and some have rejected papers they would otherwise want to publish.
Scientific disputes are not matters for the courts. If I wish to say your potion does not work I should be free to do so, even if it turns out that I am wrong.
The irony is, of course, that by reaching for their lawyers these people have massively increased the likelihood that you will read about the debates and conclude, in all probability, that Boob Job sounds like a waste of money. It is called the law of unintended consequences; a law which holds true whatever nonsense is peddled in court or written on a bottle of snake oil.
Prisoners in Scotland to be given flat screen televisions to meet green targets
I may well be wrong but I had the idea that the old cathode ray tubes used the least power
Inmates are to be given hundreds flat screen televisions in an attempt by prison bosses to meet energy efficiency targets. The Scottish Prison Service has ordered 1,600 of the 19-inch flat screen television sets to allow prisoners to watch programmes in their cells.
Opposition politicians criticised the move, but the prison service insisted that the televisions will not cost the taxpayer any money.
Among the prisons where the TVs will be distributed is the maximum security Shotts prison, which houses some of Scotland’s most dangerous criminals.
Richard Baker, Labour’s justice spokesman in the Scottish Parliament, said: “Many of my constituents can’t afford new televisions, and particularly not swanky 19-inch flat-screen affairs. What sort of message does this send?”
The SPS said TVs have been “a feature” of prisons since 1999 when Labour began eight years in administration at Holyrood. A spokesman for the service said: “SPS are seeking a future supply of in-cell televisions which are energy efficient to meet SPS green targets. “It will require that the supplier holds stock that prisons will draw down as required.”
The spokesman added: “Prisoners are charged œ1 per week for televisions and we have around 7,800 prisoners at the moment. There is, therefore, no cost to the taxpayer. “Televisions are not a right but a privilege, and prisoners have them at the discretion of the governor.”
The lunchbox police: British school inspectors snooping on children’s snacks and rating schools badly if they are unhealthy
Ofsted inspectors are snooping in children’s lunchboxes and marking schools down if they find crisps and chocolate, it emerged yesterday. Parents expressed amazement that if packed lunches are judged too unhealthy, schools could lose marks under the ‘healthy lifestyles’ section of the inspection, which feeds into their overall grade.
Critics said the checks were ‘interfering’ and ‘insulting’ and urged Ofsted to concentrate on judging teaching quality and discipline instead.
The practice emerged in inspectors’ notes on a random sample of five primary schools, which were disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act. Notes on three of the five schools contained comments on the contents of lunchboxes, including ‘most have fruit but many have crisps, also fruit squash, and processed sausage’ and ‘very little “bad” food – no evidence of crisps and chocolate’.
In the two other schools, inspectors stopped short of rifling through lunchboxes and instead interviewed pupils about their eating habits.
Margaret Morrissey, founder of the lobby group Parents Outloud and a former lay Ofsted inspector, condemned the lunchbox checks as ‘insulting to parents’. ‘Inspectors spend little enough time in schools – they ought to have better things to do than going through five-year-olds’ lunchboxes,’ she said. ‘We can say to parents what we believe to be healthy for their children but ultimately it is entirely up to them what they give their children for lunch.’
Ofsted rated St Cyprian’s Greek Orthodox Primary School in Croydon, South London, as ‘good’ overall – the second highest grading on a four-point scale. But it criticised the children’s lunchboxes for containing crisps and processed sausage.
Kate Magliocco, the school’s head, said: ‘We don’t operate lunchbox policing, although I know some schools do, banning squash and chocolate biscuits.’
Education Secretary Michael Gove is expected shortly to outline plans to tear up more than 20 Ofsted inspection targets which he fears are distracting staff from their core task of raising standards.
Schools will instead be judged against four key benchmarks – quality of teaching, effectiveness of leadership, pupils’ behaviour and safety, and pupils’ achievement.
A spokesman for the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘Parents already have enough bossy interference from the Government telling them what to feed their children. ‘The last thing they need is school inspectors snooping through lunchboxes.’
An Ofsted spokesman said: ‘Ofsted does not routinely check the contents of school lunchboxes and there is no question that a school would be marked down simply because of their contents.
‘But inspectors are required to make judgments on each of the Every Child Matters outcomes, including the extent to which pupils adopt healthy lifestyles.’
British students winning thousands of pounds in refunds for poor University teaching
University students who complain about the quality of their teaching are winning thousands of pounds in refunds. The financial compensation awarded has so far ranged from a few hundred pounds to £45,000.
And the country’s leading student watchdog has warned that complaints against lecturers and universities are set to rise as the tuition-fee cap increases from £3,290 per year to £9,000.
Student complaints to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), which looks into compensation cases on behalf of students, have doubled since 2005, to more than 1,000 last year.
‘Having looked at the figures, complaints rise as fees rise – that is very likely to happen. That is already a trend we have seen over the past few years,’ said Rob Behrens, the head of the OIA.
The highest amount that the OIA has secured is £45,000, which was awarded to a postgraduate student last year. Some students are calling in their own lawyers to sue universities independently.
A Freedom of Information request by The Mail on Sunday found that universities refunded a total of almost £60,000 to 50 successful claimants last year.
Mr Behrens added: ‘One of the effects of tuition fee rise is that students will act like consumers and will demand more.’
All British graduates hit by hidden cost of fees
Every graduate will be worse off under the Government’s reforms to university tuition fees than previously thought, according to details released by officials.
Plans put forward by the Coalition will also cost the Treasury billions of pounds more than the original proposals set out by Lord Browne’s review last month, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
Under the plans, which are expected to come into force in 2012, universities will be allowed to charge tuition fees of £9,000 a year, almost triple the current rate. Students will not be expected to pay fees while they study, but will receive government loans to cover the cost of their tuition.
Ministers said graduates would start paying back their loans only once they began earning £21,000 a year, with a higher, 3 per cent interest rate coming in for those earning above £41,000.
It had been widely assumed that these thresholds for repayments would rise every year with inflation and salaries, as Lord Browne, the former head of BP, had proposed. However, the Department for Business told the IFS that the thresholds would rise only every five years, meaning that many more graduates than previously thought would be forced to begin repayments sooner as salaries rose.
Professor Lorraine Dearden, from the IFS, said: “All graduates are going to be paying more than under Browne because of the threshold — £21,000 in 2020 in real terms is going to hit a lot more graduates than £21,000 in 2016,” she said.
Ministers hoped that by asking students to pay a higher share of the cost of their degrees, the burden on the taxpayer would be reduced.
Professor Dearden said the Government’s plans meant only about 10 per cent of graduates would pay back the full cost of their loans.