Lazy NHS GP told pregnant mother-of-four suffering from swine flu she had a cold
She was too indifferent to do a proper examination
A pregnant mother fighting for her life with swine flu was told she had a cold by her GP only 24 hours before she was taken to hospital.
Fallon Devaney, 25, was seen by the doctor in a home visit last Monday and simply given antibiotics.
But she was taken to hospital the next day following the intervention of the mother of her fiance. Kim Bowler was so shocked by Miss Devaney’s ‘grey and lifeless’ condition that she demanded 999 treatment for the mother of four.
Yesterday, Miss Devaney, who is five months’ pregnant, was showing signs of improvement while still in a critical condition.
Expectant women are thought to be four times more likely to develop serious complications if they contract swine flu.
Doctors were yesterday trying to bring Miss Devaney out of sedation.
They have told her family that they are hopeful she will be strong enough to continue carrying the baby while fighting the infection. Her mother, Linda Fearney, 46, said: ‘If the doctor had taken five more minutes with Fallon she might have realised that it was something worse.
‘She should have sent her to hospital, just to be sure. With Fallon being so heavily pregnant and looking so ill, it would have been better to have been safe than sorry.
‘With all the flu going around, surely the doctor should have taken the safe option and sent her in for a check-up.
‘It is well known that pregnant women are more vulnerable. I saw her on the Saturday and she looked terrible. She was burning up on the sofa with a blanket over her. I just wish now I had made her go to the hospital there and then.’
Mrs Bowler, whose son David, 30, is father to Miss Devaney’s children Demi, five, Jordan, four, Aylissa, three, and Lauren, two, added: ‘I saw Fallon the day after she was visited by the GP and the first thing I said was call an ambulance. You could just tell there was something seriously wrong with her, and it wasn’t just a cold or normal flu.
‘Apparently when the GP was visiting her, she didn’t even take off her gloves. I phoned the surgery and told them about Fallon’s condition and they called an ambulance to take her to hospital.’
Her son, who is unemployed, said doctors diagnosed swine flu soon after she was admitted to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
‘They put her into a coma and on a ventilator to help her breathe. She is young, fit and strong, so we are hoping and praying that she will pull through.’
Miss Fearney told on Sunday how doctors at Queen’s had warned they may have to choose to sacrifice the baby, a boy which the couple were thinking of calling Riley, to save his mother’s life.
The bleak prognosis came as it emerged Miss Devaney, from Kirk
Hallam, Derbyshire, was suffering from a secondary infection, which tests are expected to confirm as pneumonia.
But while the hospital has refused to comment on the direction of her future treatment, the family say she was ‘brighter’ during yesterday afternoon’s visiting session.
Miss Devaney did not have the swine flu vaccine because she worried about potentially causing harm to the baby. But her family now want it to be made compulsory for all pregnant mothers.
A spokesman for Miss Devaney’s GP surgery, Littlewick Medical Centre in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, said the practice manager was unavailable for comment.
Britain’s Met Office unbowed by its amazing record of wrong predictions
Met Office 2008 Forecast: Trend of Mild Winters Continues
Met Office, 25 September 2008: The Met Office forecast for the coming winter suggests it is, once again, likely to be milder than average. It is also likely that the coming winter will be drier than last year.
Reality Check: Winter of 2008/09 Coldest Winter For A Decade
Met Office, March 2009: Mean temperatures over the UK were 1.1 °C below the 1971-2000 average during December, 0.5 °C below average during January and 0.2 °C above average during February. The UK mean temperature for the winter was 3.2 °C, which is 0.5 °C below average, making it the coldest winter since 1996/97 (also 3.2 °C).
Met Office 2009 Forecast: Trend To Milder Winters To Continue, Snow And Frost Becoming Less Of A Feature
Met Office, 25 February 2009: Peter Stott, Climate Scientist at the Met Office, said: “Despite the cold winter this year, the trend to milder and wetter winters is expected to continue, with snow and frost becoming less of a feature in the future.
“The famously cold winter of 1962/63 is now expected to occur about once every 1,000 years or more, compared with approximately every 100 to 200 years before 1850.”
Reality Check: Winter Of 2009/10 Coldest Winter For Over 30 Years
Met Office, 1 March 2010: Provisional figures from the Met Office show that the UK winter has been the coldest since 1978/79. The mean UK temperature was 1.5 °C, the lowest since 1978/79 when it was 1.2 °C.
Met Office July 2010: Climate Change Gradually But Steadily Reducing Probability Of Severe Winters In The UK
Ross Clark, Daily Express, 3 December 2010:
“One of the first tasks for the team conducting the Department for Transport’s “urgent review” into the inability of our transport system to cope with snow and ice will be to interview the cocky public figure who assured breakfast TV viewers last month that “I am pretty confident we will be OK” at keeping Britain moving this winter. They were uttered by Transport secretary Philip Hammond himself, who just a fortnight later is already being forced to eat humble pie…
If you want a laugh I recommend reading the Resilience Of England’s Transport Systems In Winter, an interim report by the DfT published last July. It is shockingly complacent. Rather than look for solutions to snow-induced gridlock the authors seem intent on avoiding the issue. The Met Office assured them “the effect of climate change is to gradually but steadily reduce the probability of severe winters in the UK”.
Met Office 2010 Forecast: Winter To Be Mild Predicts Met Office
Daily Express, 28 October 2010: It’s a prediction that means this may be time to dig out the snow chains and thermal underwear. The Met Office, using data generated by a £33million supercomputer, claims Britain can stop worrying about a big freeze this year because we could be in for a milder winter than in past years…
The new figures, which show a 60 per cent to 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures this winter, were ridiculed last night by independent forecasters. The latest data comes in the form of a December to February temperature map on the Met Office’s website.
The Daily Telegraph, 28 October 2010:
Its “Barbecue Summer” was a washout while its “mild winter” was the coldest for 31 years, so you might be forgiven for taking the Met Office’s latest prediction with a pinch of salt. But the official forecasters have said that this winter could be unusually mild and dry, with temperatures at least 2C more than last year’s big freeze in which snow and ice caused travel chaos across much of Britain.
Although the Met Office no longer issues long-term forecasts, their latest data suggest a high probability of a warmer winter for London, the East of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The South West, Wales and most of the North of England are less likely to enjoy such relatively pleasant temperatures but still have a 40 to 60 per cemt chance of being mild.
The statistics were generated by the Met Office’s new £33million supercomputer built by IBM. Forecasters used it to analyse how likely temperatures and rainfall were to be above normal for winter but not how far above.
Reality Check: December 2010 “Almost Certain” To Be Coldest Since Records Began
The Independent, 18 December 2010: December 2010 is “almost certain” to be the coldest since records began in 1910, according to the Met Office.
Met Office Predicted A Warm Winter. Cheers Guys
John Walsh, The Independent, 19 January 2010:
Some climatologists hint that the Office’s problem is political; its computer model of future weather behaviour habitually feeds in government-backed assumptions about climate change that aren’t borne out by the facts.
To the Met Office, the weather’s always warmer than it really is, because it’s expecting it to be, because it expects climate change to wreak its stealthy havoc. If it really has had its thumb on the scales for the last decade, I’m afraid it deserves to be shown the door.
A Frozen Britain Turns The Heat Up On The Met Office
Paul Hudson, BBC Weather, 9 January 2010: Which begs other, rather important questions. Could the model, seemingly with an inability to predict colder seasons, have developed a warm bias, after such a long period of milder than average years? Experts I have spoken to tell me that this certainly is possible with such computer models. And if this is the case, what are the implications for the Hadley centre’s predictions for future global temperatures? Could they be affected by such a warm bias? If global temperatures were to fall in years to come would the computer model be capable of forecasting this?
A Period Of Humility And Silence Would Be Best For Met Office
Dominic Lawson, The Sunday Times, 10 January 2010: A period of humility and even silence would be particularly welcome from the Met Office, our leading institutional advocate of the perils of man-made global warming, which had promised a “barbecue summer” in 2009 and one of the “warmest winters on record”.
In fact, the Met still asserts we are in the midst of an unusually warm winter — as one of its staffers sniffily protested in an internet posting to a newspaper last week: “This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”
What we can learn from Victorian ‘hypocrisy’
Charles Moore Reviews the British TV programme ‘Sinful Sex and the Demon Drink’ (BBC2)
It is strange that the editor of Private Eye should have become one of the most morally subtle presenters on television, but true. Ian Hislop is not one of those boring people who, as they get older, go from one extreme to the other. He has not suddenly converted from a drunken, scoffing, dissolute youth to a starchy middle-aged puritanism. He remains satirical and funny. But he is clearly interested in the moral impulse in society, and does not dismiss it as mere hypocrisy.
Hislop’s approach was particularly valuable in this, the last of his series of three programmes, The Age of the Do-Gooders, because it is in relation to sex and drink that we get our easiest laughs at the expense of the Victorians. What humbugs they all were, we say complacently. Boldly, and in the spirit of genuine inquiry so often absent from television history, Hislop decided to take them seriously.
The famous test case is W E Gladstone, the dominant statesman of the 19th century, and an enthusiastic rescuer of prostitutes. Walking home from Parliament late at night, he would engage whores in conversation, sometimes even giving them a bed for the night, hearing their stories, hoping, with the help of the Scriptures, to win them for a better life.
You have only to look at pictures of Gladstone, with his masterful countenance and flashing eye, to see that he was a man with a strong sex drive. Psychologists could draw a very obvious conclusion from his passion for cutting down trees. He admitted in his own diary that his thoughts about Marian Summerhayes, a beautiful courtesan to whom he once declaimed Tennyson’s The Princess for four-and-a-half hours, ”require to be limited and purged”. He seems to have scourged himself with a whip when temptation proved particularly strong.
To the modern mind, all this damns Gladstone. He was clearly, as we charmlessly say, ”getting off on” prostitutes, and therefore no better than a dirty old man. Certainly if any prime minister today were to be caught doing what Gladstone did, he would be hounded out by a self-righteous media who would not listen to his excuses.
But Hislop was not inclined to condemn him. He interviewed the director of a Christian charity called Trust which helps prostitutes in south London. She praised Gladstone, and an age in which he could act freely to try to do good. Nowadays, she said, ”Health and safety and all that kind of stuff get in the way.” (And it should be noted, in passing, that Gladstone helped materially as well as spiritually. He gave £80,000 – about £4 million today – to help build homes in which prostitutes could stay and learn an honest trade.)
I feel that the Gladstone example applies in other spheres. Take our current obsession with paedophilia. The fact is that a significant number of good teachers have paedophilic tendencies. If they commit no wrong acts, this should not be seen as a problem. Their urges towards children, if they control them, may make them more interested in their pupils’ welfare than the rest of us would be. If we want the best for our children we should not be intolerant of the Gladstone equivalents – those who sublimate their dangerous desires to good effect.
In relation to drink, too, Hislop had the courage to listen to the unfashionable position. As someone who opened a bottle of wine before sitting down to watch his programme, I am not on the side of Joseph Livesey, the founder of the temperance movement, who invented The Pledge of teetotalism. Nor, one suspects, is Hislop. But people like Livesey were right to see drunkenness as the greatest self-inflicted slavery and sobriety as a surest way to the emancipation of the poor. To anyone visiting a British town centre on a Saturday night, it is obvious that our culture has not mastered the problem. Indeed, it has made it worse, since women are now encouraged to join in the once male-only madness.
The greatest fault of the do-gooders is that they tended – and their successors still tend – to elide what is right with what should be the law. You have only to look at the drugs trade, which has flourished for 50 years in conditions of complete illegality, to see how a ban can make social evils even greater.
Besides, it is illogical for puritans, who rightly put such store by the exercise of the conscience, to try to compel when they cannot persuade. The Pledge itself was a classic ”Big Society” phenomenon – an action that gave people dignity by helping them choose what would help them. Such a thing cannot be imposed. The modern challenge, for libertarians and do-gooders alike, is to work for a society which is both free and disciplined. It is babyish to see the two qualities as automatically opposed.
I began by saying that Hislop displayed moral subtlety in these programmes. This was most apparent in his treatment of the Christian motives of almost all his subjects. He made them clear, without bashing the point. From their Christianity came a deep belief in the goodness and the sinfulness of every human being, and the importance of the victory of the one over the other. Their faith also made them believe in change, both in human society and in the human heart. What Hislop was saying, gently, is that we feel the lack of their faith today.
School sports U-turn: British government forced into embarrassing back-track after public outcry at cuts
The Education Secretary has performed a U-turn over his controversial decision to cut funding for school sports. Michael Gove, who announced plans to scrap the School Sports Partnerships scheme earlier this year, has now agreed to invest £112 million in a network of 3,600 sports teachers until the London Olympics in 2012.
His climbdown came after his plans to scrap the £162 million-a-year scheme was met with criticism by headteachers and prominent athletes including heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis and diver Tom Daley.
Announcing his compromise yesterday, Mr Gove said he has found £47million to fund the scheme until the start of the academic year in September. At that point 100 nationwide competition managers and 300 further education sports coordinators will be axed.
But £65 million will be spent to the end of the 2012-13 academic year for 3,600 PE teachers to spend one day a week on school sport. They are currently funded for two days a week.
David Cameron told Mr Gove to change tack when it emerged that the number of young people doing two hours or more of sport per week increased from 25 per cent in 2002 to more than 90 per cent now, demonstrating the success of the sports initiatives.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt had also demanded a partial reprieve, saying scrapping partnerships could harm the pledge to use the Olympics to increase participation in school sport.
The funds will also pay for encouraging take-up of competitive sport in primary schools and securing a fixture network between schools. Mr Gove said: ‘I want competitive sport to be at the centre of a truly rounded education.’
Labour education spokesman Andy Burnham Mr Gove’s ‘overruling’ was ‘a warning to this Tory-led Government that it cannot simply do what it likes’.
Chemical in cocoa could be turned into a anti-cough medicine
Theobromine has caffeine-like stimulant effects and that may not be good at all in ill people
Chocolate could provide the key to tackling a persistent cough, researchers claim. They are carrying out the final stages of clinical trials on a drug that contains theobromine, an ingredient naturally present in cocoa and chocolate. If the trials are successful, the drug could be on the market within two years.
More than seven million Britons suffer from a persistent cough, defined as one that lasts for more than two weeks. Some have asthma-like symptoms while others suffer from heartburn.
But most widely available cough products soothe the symptoms rather than deal with the cause, and have been criticised for side effects such as drowsiness. There are safety concerns about side effects from other products that are codeine-based, which use a chemical called an opioid.
Previous research by London’s National Heart and Lung Institute found that theobromine is 33 per cent more effective than codeine at stopping coughing. It works directly on the vagus nerve, which is responsible for persistent coughing.
Research in South Korea has shown that theobromine has none of the side effects associated with standard drug treatments for persistent cough.
Professor Alyn Morice, a leading expert in the treatment of cough who is head of the Hull Cough Clinic, said: ‘Thousands of people across the UK suffer from persistent cough, and due to the drawbacks of current opioid drugs such as codeine, we are in desperate need of a non-opioid treatment with a drastically improved side effect profile for patients.’
A research project set to begin next year will be the final phase of clinical trials of a drug called BC1036. The drug is being developed by SEEK, a leading UK privately-owned drug discovery group.
Manfred Scheske, CEO of consumer health at SEEK, said: ‘Persistent cough is a very common condition, often lasting for weeks after a viral infection. It can be difficult to treat, especially since it is not possible to give large doses of opiate-based medication to patients due to side-effect issues.
‘This drug has the potential to dramatically impact the treatment of persistent cough and could greatly benefit the quality of life of persistent cough sufferers.’