IVF toddler twins struck down with meningitis… but only one survives after hospital blunder
A young girl has died after being struck down by meningitis – as her twin brother narrowly survived the deadly disease. Brian and Julie Backhouse said their 23-month-old daughter Lili passed away after a hospital doctor failed to spot she had the killer brain bug and sent her home. Mrs Backhouse, 38, said: ‘I’m numb with grief but I am also very angry that we were dismissed so easily.’
Just hours later the devastated parents discovered her twin brother Lukas had also contracted the disease – but thankfully he recovered after he received immediate medical attention.
Mr and Mrs Backhouse took little Lili to Queen’s Hospital in Romford, Essex, at 10am on January 9 suffering from fever and sickness. But they said a doctor dismissed their stricken daughter’s illness as a ‘viral infection’ and discharged her 30 minutes later.
Within four hours Lili had seriously deteriorated and her now panic-stricken parents rushed her back to A&E, where doctors quickly established she had lethal meningitis. Fighting back tears, housewife Julie said: ‘When we brought her back she was covered in a head-to-toe rash. ‘She was taken to resuscitation but she died at 6.30pm. My little angel was gone.’ She added: ‘I feel the doctor played Russian roulette with my child’s life and the bullet landed on Lili’s head.’
Mr Backhouse, 45, said: ‘Animals get a more thorough examination at a vet’s than Lili did at Queen’s. ‘We asked the doctor repeatedly whether he was sure about his diagnosis and he said he was.’
The couple suffered a double blow when Lili’s twin Lukas fell ill with meningitis just hours after his sister died. But alert doctors realised immediately he was seriously ill and he has made a full recovery after receiving intensive treatment.
And in an extraordinary turn of events, Queen’s Hospital are alleged to have turned away another ill toddler on the same day who then nearly died from meningitis. Kelly Herbert, 32, of Brentwood, also took her two-year-old son George Thompson to Queen’s Hospital on January 9.
The mother-of-three said the toddler had a high fever and was nauseous, but a doctor also insisted he just had a virus and allowed him to go home. Again George quickly became gravely ill and Miss Herbert took him back to A&E at Queen’s where doctors found he had the deadly bacterial form of meningitis. Outraged Kelly said: ‘It was touch and go but they said if we had waited any longer he would probably be dead. ‘His temperature was 41 degrees Celsius and he had a rash when the doctor saw him but he was still sent home.’
She added: ‘By the time we took him back to the hospital the second time his temperature was even higher and he was covered in spots from head to toe.’
Acting chief executive at Queen’s Hospital, Deborah Wheeler, said: ‘Meningitis is notoriously difficult to diagnose and our doctors did the very best they could for Lili. ‘We would be happy to meet with both families to discuss any concerns they have.’
However, Steve Dayman, the chief executive of Meningitis UK who lost his own son to the disease in 1982, said: ‘It’s always worrying to hear about cases where lives might have been saved.
‘It seems that doctors are sending children home too readily, which is often a deadly mistake to make when they’re suffering from meningitis as it can kill in under four hours. ‘Keeping children in for observation is especially important at this time of the year when cases of both meningitis and flu are rising.
‘All medical professionals should know that the sooner antibiotics are administered the better the chances of survival are. ‘Parents know their children best and don’t go to the doctor’s unless they’re really concerned.
‘Just because a patient doesn’t have a headache, stiff neck and dislike of bright light doesn’t mean they’re not suffering from a life-threatening meningitis infection. Not everyone gets all the symptoms so observation and vigilance is key to saving lives.’
Schizophrenic stabbed brother, nine, to death hours after health workers said he was no threat
A paranoid schizophrenic stabbed his young brother to death just hours after community mental health workers left his house saying there was no immediate problem, a court has heard. Daniel Taylor, 21, attacked nine-year-old Jack at their sister’s house in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in February last year, leaving him with horrific injuries.
Today, a judge ordered Taylor to be detained indefinitely at the top-security Rampton Special Hospital in Nottinghamshire.
Taylor admitted manslaughter due to diminished responsibility at an earlier hearing. He sat in the dock today surrounded by guards and carers and showed no emotion as the court was told about the attack on his brother and his history of mental health problems.
The court was told he had doted on Jack when he was born, they were close and he loved him very much.
But Simon Bourne-Arton QC, prosecuting, said Taylor had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia a number of years earlier and also had problems with cannabis use and alcohol.
From May to August 2009 he was admitted to Lynfield Mount Hospital in Bradford and, when he was released, he was monitored by a community mental health team. But, the court heard, he would often fail to take his medication and eventually his condition began to deteriorate.
Mr Bourne-Arton said he was hearing voices and became more threatening to his family. The day before the attack his family tried to contact the mental health team as his mother became more and more concerned about his behaviour. His mother said Taylor was due a benefits payment which she feared he would spend entirely on cannabis, the judge heard. She then found he had burned a picture of himself and was ‘out of his head’.
Mr Bourne-Arton said Taylor’s key care worker was away and on February 18, the day of the attack, his team had training which meant the message was not picked up until the afternoon. Members of the team did visit Taylor at home later in the day.
The prosecutor said they stayed for about 20 minutes and left after concluding ‘there was no immediate problem or crisis’.
Five hours later, he said, Taylor picked up a 8.7in (22cm) kitchen knife and went looking for his brother, Mr Bourne-Arton said.
The court heard how Taylor went round to his sister Rachel’s house on nearby Rookes Avenue, brandishing the knife and a piece of wood. Rachel, 19, bravely tackled her brother and managed to get the knife off him but ended up being seriously injured.
Taylor continued into the house, picked up another knife and caught up with Jack.
Rachel had to leave court along with her father, Tim, as the judge was told of the horrific attack which followed. Mr Bourne-Arton said: ‘He caught up with Jack and stabbed him repeatedly, clearly with considerable force.’ He said there were multiple gaping wounds on the boy’s body and one of these severed his spinal cord.
The prosecutor said the attack started in the kitchen and ended up in the garden.
The brothers’ father turned up to find his older son waiting outside the house. Taylor pointed to the alleyway and his father then found his younger son’s body. Police recovered two bloodied knives – one 22cm and another 32cm (12.6ins) long.
After Taylor was arrested he made no comment to police and displayed ‘bizarre’ behaviour at Doncaster Prison involving dancing around and complaining of hearing voices. He was later transferred to Rampton, the court was told.
Giving evidence from the Old Bailey via videolink, consultant psychiatrist Professor Nigel Eastman told the court all the experts who had looked at the case concluded Taylor was suffering from an abnormality of mind at the time of the attack.
He was asked whether the defendant’s heavy cannabis use, which began at the age of 14, contributed to the offences. The professor said: ‘In my opinion they (the offences) were driven by his psychotic mental disorder.’
Sentencing Taylor for manslaughter and the offence of wounding his sister, which he also admitted, Judge James Goss QC said he was satisfied he presented a continuing danger to himself and others. He said his mental health had been deteriorating and noted how his family had contacted the mental health team shortly before the attack.
The judge said Taylor’s condition ‘was not considered any problem by the health professionals who saw him’ on the day.
Judge Goss offered his condolences to the Taylor family who he said had provided loving support to Taylor through his illness and had suffered a terrible tragedy.
Mr Singh said the incident had devastated a close-knit family. The officer said he could not answer any questions about Taylor’s community care.
The case is subject to an ongoing Serious Case Review by the local Safeguarding Board which is due to be completed later this year.
Migration wave means a third of London residents were born abroad
More than one in three people living in London were born outside Britain, an official analysis showed yesterday. Nearly half of them have arrived over the past decade in the wave of immigration that began under Tony Blair’s government.
Almost four in ten of all the foreign-born people in the country live in London, the Office for National Statistics said. They make up 34 per cent of the capital’s population. Around one in six of the population of the capital have arrived in Britain since 2000.
But many regarded as essentially British are defined as immigrants by the study, including Cliff Richard and Joanna Lumley, who were both born in India to British parents.
In most parts of the country, those born abroad are more likely than the British-born to be working in jobs classed as ‘elementary’, the figures from the Labour Force Survey of around 180,000 individuals showed.
Fewer of the population of those born abroad claim state benefits or tax credits than native-born Britons. Most are Christian by religion, although in Yorkshire and the West Midlands just under a third are Muslim.
The analysis also found that around half the foreign-born population is married, compared with only around 40 per cent of native Britons.
The Christian hotelier found guilty of gay bias looks set to lose her home and asks: So who’s really being persecuted?
Christian hotel owner Hazelmary Bull has certainly had her faith tested to the limit this week. Yesterday, she was planning to make a four-hour round trip to visit her desperately ill husband Peter, 71, in hospital, where he is recovering from a triple heart bypass and valve replacement surgery.
How, she fretted, was she going to tell him that they were teetering on the brink of financial ruin? That there was little hope now of hanging on to the Cornish guesthouse they’d owned for 25 years; the home they’d poured not only their life savings into, but also their heart and souls. In the end, 66-year-old Hazelmary just couldn’t bring herself to do it.
On Tuesday, Peter was undergoing a nine-hour operation at the exact moment his wife of 47 years was sitting in Bristol County Court waiting to hear their fate. In a landmark ruling, which will have far-reaching implications for many Christians in Britain, Judge Rutherford ordered the Bulls to pay civil partners Martyn Hall, 46, and Steven Preddy, 38, £1,800 each in compensation for refusing to allow the couple to stay in a double room at their hotel.
The gay couple, IT workers from Bristol, sued the Bulls for £5,000 in damages under the Equality Act (Sexuality Orientation) Regulations 2007, after they were turned away from seven-bedroom Chymorvah House, near Penzance, in September 2008.
The Bulls argued that, as devout Christians, they let their double rooms only to heterosexual married couples and that their beliefs prevented them from allowing same-sex couples to share a double bed – although gay couples could stay in single or twin rooms.
This week, however, the judge ruled that the Bulls’ actions amounted to direct discrimination, on the grounds of sexual orientation, as there was ‘no material difference between marriage and civil partnership’.
Their lives are now in turmoil. Hazelmary is adamant that she and Peter will not compromise their religious beliefs, despite the court ruling. As a result, they have two options – face prosecution again by refusing to book double rooms to gay civil partners, or close the business. And if they close the business, which is already in debt, then they can’t afford to stay in their home.
‘I don’t want to tell Peter. I want to hold back for a little while, because he’s so ill,’ says Hazelmary, whose husband suffered complications after surgery. ‘He doesn’t know because the hospital has kept him sedated for two days. ‘The uncertainty of the future would take Peter down. He doesn’t cope well with stress. ‘I feel so upset. I don’t want us to leave Chymorvah like this. It feels like we are being driven out.
‘We have put everything into it and if we lose it we’ll be left with nothing. We’ll have no money to buy a new home and who will give us a mortgage at our age?’
Chymorvah is a small, loss-making hotel, which charges £43 per person per night. Yet the Bulls did not go into this business to make a fortune, but to offer Christian hospitality. They bought the house in 1986 for £81,000 and ploughed the money they’d made from their first B&B in Cornwall into it, renovating and updating the building.
They are now incapable of paying their £2,800-a-month mortgage, and have come to an agreement with their lender to pay less, for now. But Hazelmary says that with the hotel closed since Christmas and not due to re-open until Easter – if it ever opens again – this, too, will become impossible to meet.
‘Our lenders have been very sympathetic, but there will come a time when we will either have to sell or, if that doesn’t happen in this gloomy market, lose our home,’ says Hazelmary. ‘Even if we do re-open, things will be very tricky, because we are not prepared to compromise our beliefs. I would not be able to look God in the eye if I did.’
As evangelical Christians, the Bulls insist that ‘the Bible’s teaching is clear that a man should not lie with a man and a woman should not lie with a woman’.
Is this really the victory that campaigners envisaged: two elderly people facing ruin and this week subjected to a barrage of abusive phone calls and obscene emails which are now in the hands of police? Even Peter’s hospital has been plagued with nuisance calls.
‘Peter was airlifted to hospital on New Year’s Eve when he became ill and I believe the stress of this case exacerbated his condition,’ says Hazelmary. ‘I would have been at his side during surgery, but news on Monday afternoon that the judgment was about to be delivered came out of the blue.
‘When the judgment was delivered, I was disappointed, but I can’t help feeling this isn’t over yet. There are many people in Britain, Christian or not, who are very worried about being told what to believe in their own homes. ‘This is a head-on collision between two lifestyles which are both equally protected under the human rights charter, but it seems our rights are now less equal.
‘This has never been a personal battle with Mr Hall and Mr Preddy. They were always going to feel the way they did and we were always going to feel the way we did. So is there a human rights charter out there which respects the feelings of us all? That’s what’s really on trial.’
‘I am not against leglislation which protects all members of society from discrimination. No one — not least myself — would want to see a return to the days when homosexuals were oppressed, but I believe the pendulum has swung too far the other way.
‘Christians are definitely being marginalised. There is no question about it and we have to be careful that we don’t exchange one brand of oppression for another. The human rights charter says faith is protected not just in the home but in the workplace. Well, this is my workplace.’
Left-wing bias? It’s written through the BBC’s very DNA, says Peter Sissons
For 20 years I was a front man at the BBC, anchoring news and current affairs programmes, so I reckon nobody is better placed than me to answer the question that nags at many of its viewers — is the BBC biased?
In my view, ‘bias’ is too blunt a word to describe the subtleties of the pervading culture. The better word is a ‘mindset’. At the core of the BBC, in its very DNA, is a way of thinking that is firmly of the Left.
By far the most popular and widely read newspapers at the BBC are The Guardian and The Independent. Producers refer to them routinely for the line to take on running stories, and for inspiration on which items to cover. In the later stages of my career, I lost count of the number of times I asked a producer for a brief on a story, only to be handed a copy of The Guardian and told ‘it’s all in there’.
If you want to read one of the few copies of the Daily Mail that find their way into the BBC newsroom, they are difficult to track down, and you would be advised not to make too much of a show of reading them. Wrap them in brown paper or a copy of The Guardian, would be my advice.
I am in no doubt that the majority of BBC staff vote for political parties of the Left. But it’s impossible to do anything but guess at the numbers whose beliefs are on the Right or even Centre-Right. This is because the one thing guaranteed to damage your career prospects at the BBC is letting it be known that you are at odds with the prevailing and deep-rooted BBC attitude towards Life, the Universe, and Everything.
At any given time there is a BBC line on everything of importance, a line usually adopted in the light of which way its senior echelons believe the political wind is blowing. This line is rarely spelled out explicitly, but percolates subtly throughout the organisation.
Whatever the United Nations is associated with is good — it is heresy to question any of its activities. The EU is also a good thing, but not quite as good as the UN. Soaking the rich is good, despite well-founded economic arguments that the more you tax, the less you get. And Government spending is a good thing, although most BBC people prefer to call it investment, in line with New Labour’s terminology.
All green and environmental groups are very good things. Al Gore is a saint. George Bush was a bad thing, and thick into the bargain. Obama was not just the Democratic Party’s candidate for the White House, he was the BBC’s. Blair was good, Brown bad, but the BBC has now lost interest in both.
Trade unions are mostly good things, especially when they are fighting BBC managers. Quangos are also mostly good, and the reports they produce are usually handled uncritically. The Royal Family is a bore. Islam must not be offended at any price, although Christians are fair game because they do nothing about it if they are offended.
The increasing tendency for the BBC to interview its own reporters on air exacerbates this mindset. Instead of concentrating on interviewing the leading players in a story or spreading the net wide for a range of views, these days the BBC frequently chooses to use the time getting the thoughts of its own correspondents. It is a format intended to help clarify the facts, but which often invites the expression of opinion. When that happens, instead of hearing both sides of a story, the audience at home gets what is, in effect, the BBC’s view presented as fact.
And, inside the organisation, you challenge that collective view at your peril. In today’s BBC only those whose antennae are fully attuned to the corporation’s cultural mindset — or keep quiet about their true feelings — are going to make progress.
Moreover, making progress these days doesn’t mean just achieving the influence and prestige of a senior job with the world’s greatest broadcaster, once considered reward enough. For those breaking through into the senior ranks, there’s now big, big money and a gold-plated pension to be had
Which is why, although there has been plenty of grumbling on the shop floor about the escalation of pay for top BBC managers in recent years, it’s muted. No one wants to wreck his or her chances of a well-paid place in the promised land. The newsroom has many talented journalists of middle rank, who know what’s wrong with the organisation, but who don’t rock the boat for fear of blowing their futures.
Not that talent alone is enough to get on at the BBC. The key to understanding its internal promotions system is that, for every person whose career is advanced on ability, two are promoted because it solves a problem for management.
If Human Resources — or Personnel, as it used to be known — advise that it’s time a woman or someone from an ethnic minority (or a combination of the two) was appointed to the job for which you, a white male, have applied, then that’s who gets it.
But whatever your talent, sex or ethnicity, there’s one sure-fire way at a BBC promotions board to ensure you don’t get the job, indeed to bring your career to a grinding halt. And that’s if, when asked which post-war politician you most admire, you reply: ‘Margaret Thatcher’.
Much more HERE
Militant homosexuals threaten witnesses against them
Must not help homosexuals to become normal — or even argue that it is possible
“The professional trial of a psychotherapist who agreed to try to ‘convert’ a gay man was suspended yesterday after allegations of attempts to intimidate a key witness.
Supporters of Lesley Pilkington, the Christian therapist who faces being struck off, called in police after they said the expert witness was threatened in several ‘menacing’ phone calls. They said the witness was warned not to appear at the hearing.
The allegation brought a new twist to the case which has generated fresh controversy over Christian beliefs and the rights of Christians to hold to them at work.
Mrs Pilkington was targeted by a gay journalist who persuaded her to help him change his sexuality. Patrick Strudwick attended sessions with her with a tape recorder strapped to his stomach and then published a critical article about her in the Independent newspaper.
She is now appearing before a professional conduct panel of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and faces losing her accreditation if she is found to have breached its rules.
The Christian Legal Centre, a group that is supporting Mrs Pilkington in the case, said yesterday: ‘Shortly before the hearing, BACP required all witness statements to be passed to them with contact details. ‘Immediately after supplying the statements, an expert witness received several menacing phone calls, threats and intimidation, telling the witness not to attend.’
The organisation has reported the alleged intimidation to police and called for a full investigation. A BACP official confirmed yesterday that the hearing was adjourned.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, said yesterday: ‘Mrs Pilkington deserves to get a fair hearing by her professional body. In this case the homosexual lobby has been extremely militant and sought to silence by threats and intimidation.
British middle-classes ‘being priced out of boarding schools’
If a kid is particularly bright and the parents are motivated, the kid will nonetheless be found an affordable place at a good private school. Even Eton has reduced rates for the brightest pupils (“King’s Scholars”)
Thousands of middle-class professionals have been being priced out of private boarding schools after fees rocketed five-fold in a generation, researchers claimed today. The cost of sending a child to a senior independent school has soared from around £6,000 to almost £30,000 in 25 years, it was disclosed. In the last six years alone, fees have increased by around a third at some schools, figures show, quicker than the rise in earnings.
The disclosure – in research published by the Good Schools Guide – comes despite fears over a squeeze on family finances in the recession.
Researchers warned that the rise meant many middle-income families were effectively being excluded from sending children to some of Britain’s most famous schools, which risk becoming the preserve of sons and daughters of super-rich foreign businessmen. The number of overseas enrolments at independent schools jumped by 7.4 per cent to 23,307 last year, with most pupils coming from Hong Kong, mainland China and Germany.
But independent school leaders insisted the figures were “highly misleading” and rises were in line with an increase in general education costs, including teachers’ salaries, pensions and the price of building work. They said fee rises had been much smaller in recent years as schools sought to ease the burden on parents during the economic downturn.
But Janette Wallis, a senior editor at the guide, said “Such an enormous increase in school fees in 25 years is out of sync with the rise in salaries or prices – and it shows in the families who can afford these schools now. Many professionals have been priced out of the private schools market.”
Research to mark the 25th anniversary of the guide, which is published next month, shows that fees at private senior schools have increased much faster than the rise in earnings. According to data, average fees were set at between £3,600 and £6,000 a year in 1986, although parents were advised to budget for up to £7,000 when extra costs were added.
The guide says parents can now expect to pay between £27,000 and £30,000 to send teenage sons and daughters to senior boarding schools – five times as much for the top schools. When extras such as uniforms, music lessons, school outings, books and overseas holidays are added, costs can escalate as high as £33,000.
It comes despite the fact that earnings increased by less – around three-fold – over the same period.
At Westminster School, fees increased from £5,025 a year in 1986 to £21,948 in 2006 and £29,406 this year. Fees at Wycombe Abbey increased from £5,025 to £23,100 in 2006 and £29,250 last year, while those at Marlborough College rose from £5,550 to £29,310 over 25 years, the guide said. The annual cost of senior boarding at Malvern College increased from £5,400 to £29,256 over the 25 year period.
Fees at Eton went from more than £6,000 to £29,862 and at Harrow costs increased from over £6,000 to £29,670.
David Lyscom, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, said: “Presenting the figures in such a sensationalist way creates a highly misleading impression. “The figure over 25 years equates to an average annual increase of under seven per cent over the same period. “To put this in context, the average annual increase of the education component of the Consumer Price Index since the late 1980s is about 7.5 per cent.
“So the increase in boarding fees over the period is not extraordinary, and much of the difference represents the increased cost of meeting higher parental expectations and today’s very different welfare and regulatory standards.
“Our schools offer a range of fees for families of varying means and fee assistance is widely available. Given this, and the world-class standard of education at our schools, we believe, and continued parental support confirms, that they still offer excellent value for money.”
2010 was Britain’s coldest year since 1986 says Met Office
While the “rest of the world” warmed?? The “rest of the world” below seems to be oddly defined. Not only was Britain unusually cold in late 2010 but so was East Asia and much of North America. And here in Australia, we had the coolest December I can remember. In the cicumstances one must suspect “fiddled” statistics. They manage to find a few places where it was warmer (overstated — not all of Canada and Siberia was warmer) but they could only have cancelled out the coolness in other areas not overwhelmed the results from cooler areas
A recent picture of a soldier in China on parade. The temperature was minus 32 degrees Celsius at the time
Last year was the coldest in Britain since 1986, according to the Met Office, although the rest of the world experienced one of the hottest years on record.
The new statistics show that the mean temperature in 2010 was 7.96C (46.4F), the twelfth coldest on record. The coldest year in the 100 year record is 1919 and 1963, when temperatures plunged to 7.45 (45.4F) and the next coldest is 1986 when it was 7.69C (45.8F).
However the rest of the world was warmer than ever. The Met Office said that as a whole the world was 0.50 (0.9F) hotter than the long term average of 14C (57.2F), making it the second hottest on record after 1998. The US National Weather Service NOAA and Nasa, that collect their data in slightly different ways, both think 2010 is one of the hottest years on record.
Barry Grommett, of the Met Office, said a freezing start to the year in January and February and then the coldest December ever recorded brought down the temperature in the UK.
Both weather patterns were caused by a blocking pattern of high pressure in the mid atlantic that cut off mild westerly wind and made the UK and most of the rest of western Europe colder than usual.
However at the same time the rest of the world was having heatwaves. In particular it was a warm winter in Canada and Siberia and eastern mediterraean.
Greenland lost more ice than any other year while the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, had the warmest spring and summer since records began in 1873.
Mr Grommett said despite the cold year in the UK the world is warming. “It is a natural perception to look out window and see snow and think the world cannot be possibly be warming but the UK is a small dot on the world surface and the important picture is global and in that 2010 has been a very warm year.”