Mother dies after 5-hour hospital wait ‘because NHS emergency room was clogged up with drunks’
A grieving husband has attacked A&E services for prioritising drunk patients, after his seriously sick wife waited five hours to see a doctor. Laura Martin, 39, was sent home after a brief consultation only to return with her husband Andrew a few hours later when her condition worsened.
The couple then waited a further two hours before the mother-of-two was seen again, by which time her condition had deteriorated. She died from lung failure later that day caused by a mysterious illness.
Mr Martin, 41, said the outcome might have been different if the hospital had not been inundated with Saturday night revellers. ‘The A&E was overrun, because it was the weekend everyone came in from a drinking night,’ he told MailOnline. ‘I saw one lady brought in by two friends who was seated slumped over her chair, but after a while she seemed to get better and they went out to call a cab without even seeing a doctor. ‘The doctors called out five or six names where no one responded because they had all left. ‘You should get some priority if you are seriously ill.’
His plea comes just months after the chief of Accident & Emergency health called for clubs and pubs to employ their own paramedics because A&E units are being swamped by drunks. John Heyworth, the President of the College of Emergency Medicine – which represents A&E doctors, said many of those who turn up at A&E don’t need to be there and put extra strain on the NHS.
Mr Martin said he rushed his wife Laura to Queen’s Hospital in Essex at 3am on Sunday 12 December, after she woke up in the night suffering with severe head pains and vomiting. But he said his wife, who had no prior health conditions, was just given paracetamol and told to wait for a doctor.
Mr Martin from Rush Green in Essex, said they then waited for five hours to be seen, while drunk patients were placed above them in the queue because they had arrived in an ambulance.
By the time Mrs Martin saw the doctor at 8.30am, the headache had slightly abated and though she still felt very sick she had stopped vomiting. The BT engineer said his wife was given a brief sensory test before being sent home at 9am.
‘I think they were short-staffed,’ Mr Martin told Mail Online. ‘I was told there was a six-hour wait for blood tests.’
Just two hours later they were back at A&E after Mrs Martin started vomiting again and complained of feeling a ‘tingling sensation’ all over. ‘I thought because we had already waited for five hours and they told us to come back if she got worse we would be seen straight away,’ Mr Martin said. ‘But we then had to wait yet another two hours before she was finally seen at 2.30pm.’
It wasn’t until this point that doctors realised the seriousness of Mrs Martin’s condition. ‘Her blood sugar levels had spiked and she was deteriorating quickly,’ Mr Martin said. ‘They were just treating her symptoms as fast as they could as they cropped up. Her heart rate spiked at 145 beats per minute and they placed her in a chemical coma to try and bring her heart rate down at 7pm.
‘Then they took a chest x-ray at 10pm, which showed her lungs were failing. Despite all their efforts she died of lung failure five hours later in the early hours of Monday morning – just 24 hours after we first visited the hospital. ‘It was all just so fast.’
Mr Martin, who is waiting to receive the coroner’s report into his wife’s death, has called for the nearby A&E department at King George’s Hospital not to be closed down. He warned: ‘If the A&E at King George’s is shut down the service is just going to get worse.’
He added that hospitals desperately needed to change how they prioritised cases. ‘Some people are just treating ambulances like a cab service,’ he said. ‘Maybe hospitals should start charging patient’s money if they leave A&E without seeing a doctor.’
Deborah Wheeler, acting chief executive for Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospital Trust, said: ‘Our condolences are with Mr Martin at this extremely difficult time. ‘Our staff do the very best that they can for every patient that comes through our doors. ‘We will certainly look into Mr Martin’s complaint to see if anything could have been done differently.’
Ambulance workers ‘refused to take dying student to hospital’
Two ambulance workers have been removed from frontline duties after complaints that they refused to take a dying student to hospital. Sarah Mulega, 21, was discovered collapsed in her bedroom in Barking, Essex, by her landlady, Chinwe Moneke, who called for an ambulance.
Miss Mulega suffered from sickle cell anaemia, a genetic blood condition – where some of the red blood cells are misshaped and can restrict blood flow causing painful episodes called crisis, which can be deadly.
But when paramedics arrived more than half an hour later they allegedly refused to take the dying student to hospital because she had soiled herself. She died just hours later.
Two members of London Ambulance Service have been taken away from frontline duties while the allegations are investigated.
Miss Mulega’s cousin, Thomas Chisanga, 33, said: ‘The people who were there to help her let her down in the last hour. ‘We simply don’t want it to happen to anyone else. ‘It’s so painful. I have so much anger towards them.’
The 21-year-old worked part time as a carer to support herself while she studied business management.
Her landlady said she discovered Miss Mulega collapsed in her bedroom on January 9 and rang for an ambulance at about 4.15pm. She said she made a second call at about 4.30pm to say her condition was getting worse and a third call at 4.45pm to say she thought her tenant was having a sickle cell crisis.
An ambulance arrived at the home in Barking at about 4.50pm and Ms Moneke claims the ambulance workers refused to take her to hospital. She said: ‘They did not check Sarah’s temperature nor heartbeat. In fact they did not touch her at all.’
The stunned landlady said she heard one of the paramedics tell the dying student ‘If you want to be taken to hospital, then get up so we can take you’. She believes the medics refused to touch the dying student because she had soiled herself.
The landlady said she cleaned her up until Miss Mulega’s sister arrived and by then the student was unresponsive so she called a second ambulance. She added: ‘We were panicking and crying.’
A second ambulance came to the house and took Miss Mulega to hospital but she died there later the same evening. An inquest has opened into her death but a cause of death has not yet been established.
A spokesman for London Ambulance Service said: ‘We are looking into what happened and have received a complaint about the incident. ‘In the meantime the first two members of staff who attended have been taken off frontline duties pending the outcome of this investigation. ‘We would like to offer our condolences to the patient’s family and we will share the findings of our investigation with them as soon as we can.’
How the British Labour Party’s ‘tough’ rules let in 2,100 migrants a day
Britain handed out 2,100 visas a day following the introduction of Labour’s ‘tough’ new border controls. Official figures reveal for the first time that 1,554,327 non-EU nationals were given permission to enter or stay in this country under the previous government’s points-based system. The beneficiaries included workers, their partners and children and hundreds of thousands of foreign students.
Incredibly, the numbers entering Britain continued to climb between 2008 and 2009 – despite the country being in the grip of a recession. A fall of fewer than 20,000 in the number of work permits being rubber-stamped for main applicants was dwarfed by a leap of 80,000 in student visas. The total number of visas handed out in 2009, including renewals for people who would otherwise have been forced to leave, was 778,617 – up from 775,710 a year earlier.
According to a report by the Migrationwatch think-tank, the early indications are that, so far, the Coalition Government has had only limited impact on the figures. Ministers have decided to keep the points-based system, which was introduced in 2008, but are making the criteria much tougher. But, in the year to September 2010, the latest period for which figures are available, the total number of visas issued was 752,855, down only slightly.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said: ‘These figures give the lie to claims the points-based system (PBS) was already bringing immigration under control. ‘Such reduction as there has been is surely the consequence of the deepest recession for a generation, not the introduction of the PBS, which is deeply flawed. ‘This renders still more difficult the Government’s commitment to get net migration down to the “tens of thousands” as the public overwhelmingly wishes to see.’
The impact of the points system on foreign workers – which Labour introduced amid mounting public concern over immigration – is limited by the fact it can be applied only to non-EU nationals.
Coalition action has so far been limited to an interim cap on economic migrants. From April, this will be replaced by a permanent system which promises to reduce the number of non-EU workers entering Britain by a fifth. But ministers have been criticised for creating a ‘loophole’ which allows businesses to transfer unlimited staff from overseas if they stay for less than 12 months.
The Home Office said that, if evidence of abuse of this route emerged, it would change the rules next year, when they are reviewed.
Last week, official figures suggested foreign workers are finding themselves the main beneficiaries of the economic recovery.
They showed that only 100,000 of the 297,000 workers who began new posts between July and September 2010 were British-born. Of the rest, 90,000 were from Poland and other Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004.
Ministers are also close to announcing plans to slash student visas. The most likely scenario is that non-EU nationals will be refused visas if they are seeking to study non-degree level courses. Exceptions will be made only for ‘trusted’ private colleges.
Shout at your spouse and risk losing your home: It’s just the same as domestic violence, warns British woman judge
Men and women who shout at their partners risk being thrown out of their homes under a sweeping ruling by judges yesterday. Raising your voice at a husband or wife, or a boyfriend or girlfriend, now counts as domestic violence under the landmark Supreme Court judgment. The decision also means that denying money to a partner or criticising them can count as violence and bring down draconian domestic violence penalties from the courts.
The Supreme Court made its decision in the case of a woman who left her husband’s council flat and then demanded a new council home. She said she left because she had suffered domestic violence – even though her husband had never harmed her.
Lady Hale, leading a bench of five justices, said the definition of violence must change so that a range of abusive behaviour now counts in law.
The decision will affect domestic violence and family law which has given the courts powers to throw someone out of their home if their partner accuses them of violent behaviour. Until now violence has always had to mean physical assault.
The judges were hearing the case of Mihret Yemshaw, 35, who said she had been subjected to domestic violence and was entitled to be rehoused under the 1996 Housing Act. Officials in Hounslow, West London, turned her down after hearing that her husband had never hit her nor threatened to do so.
Mrs Yemshaw told them he had shouted in front of their two children, failed to treat her like a human, had not given her housekeeping money, and she was scared he would take the children away from her.
Lady Hale said the meaning of the word ‘violence’ had moved on since Parliament passed the Housing Act. The word ‘is capable of bearing several meanings and applying to many different types of behaviour. These can change and develop over time’. The judge added that ‘it is not for Government and official bodies to interpret the meaning of the words which Parliament has used. That role lies with the courts.’
Lady Hale said that according to the dictionary, violence means physical attack, but can also apply to extreme fervour, passion or fury.
One judge, Lord Brown, said he had a ‘profound doubt’ as to whether the domestic violence provisions were ever intended ‘to extend beyond the limits of physical violence’.
The judgment means that Mrs Yemshaw will now have her case reconsidered by Hounslow. It will also apply to a wide field of legislation, including the 1996 Family Law Act which allows people to be ejected from their homes if their partners complain of domestic violence.
The decision comes at a time of growing concern over the powers of senior judges and their willingness to alter laws made by Parliament.
Family law expert Jill Kirby yesterday drew a comparison between the ruling and the Humpty Dumpty character in Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking-Glass, who said words meant whatever he wanted them to mean. She said: ‘The judiciary are taking the Humpty Dumpty view, and it risks undermining confidence in the legal system.’
Mihret Yemshaw’s husband told the Daily Mail last night he had never been violent towards his wife who, like him, was born in Ethiopia. They married in London ten years ago. Samuel Estifanos, a 40-year-old bus driver, claimed she left the flat where he still lives because she was ‘unhappy’. He added: ‘I never hit her and I never even screamed or swore at her.’
Victory for Christianity: Health worker ‘bullied’ by British health service over abortion can go back to work
A Christian health worker who faced the sack after giving an NHS colleague a booklet about the potential dangers of abortion has been allowed to return to work. Margaret Forrester, 39, claimed to have been ‘bullied’ and ‘treated like a criminal’ for expressing her religious views, but said yesterday that she has now been offered a better job at the same NHS trust.
Christian campaigners yesterday hailed it as a ‘victory for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech’.
Miss Forrester, a Roman Catholic, claims she was suspended in November last year after she handed the £4 pro-life booklet called Forsaken – published by a charity – to her colleague. It detailed the physical and psychological trauma experienced by five women from Taunton, Somerset, who terminated their pregnancies.
She said she offered it to a family planning worker during a private conversation because she felt the NHS did not give enough information about the potential risks of abortion.
The mental health worker, who has been employed by the NHS for six years, said there was no sign her colleague, with whom she had discussed abortion, was offended by the booklet or by their conversation. But a few days later her manager told her she was being sent home on ‘special leave with full pay’. She was ordered not to see any patients and to stay away from all NHS sites while the trust investigated.
Later, she was told she had not been suspended and could return to work, but claimed she was not allowed to do her normal job. Instead she was put on other duties, which she found ‘bullying and offensive’, adding: ‘I felt physically sickened by their bullying.’ She was eventually signed off on sick leave and has not been back to the health centre since.
Miss Forrester, who worked at the Central and North West London Mental Health Trust, in Camden, attended an internal disciplinary hearing last month where she was accused of ‘distributing materials some people may find offensive’.
Last night a spokesman for the trust said Miss Forrester had been warned not to distribute the ‘offensive’ material or anything similar again, but confirmed she had been offered a new role within the trust.
Miss Forrester said: ‘My employers have not given me any warnings of any kind. They have offered me a new, better role with a wider scope. If at any point they do send me a warning, I will challenge it in court.
‘It was incredible that I was suspended in the first place, just because I expressed a personal opinion. I should be able to express my opinion privately without fear and act freely in good conscience. Today is a victory for freedom of speech. I want to thank all of those who have prayed for me and supported me.’
Andrea Minichiello Williams, a barrister who runs the Christian Legal Centre which supported Miss Forrester, said: ‘The level of intolerance in the public sphere, demonstrated increasingly in public sector employment, is deeply worrying. ‘We hope that today’s decision by the NHS will help to reverse the tide of intolerance. This is a victory for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.’
Claire Murdoch, chief executive of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Miss Forrester’s employer, said: ‘It is clear that the booklet Miss Forrester distributed offers a seriously unbalanced and one-sided view of abortion and that it is offensive to NHS staff.
‘The booklet implies that abortion can lead to alcohol and drug abuse, suicidal thoughts and increased risk of cancer. This could be very worrying and deeply offensive for women who may need an abortion and want balanced, sensible advice. We simply cannot allow NHS staff to distribute material that we know to be seriously unbalanced.’ [So telling them nothing about the downside is “balanced”?]
Yet another false rape claim in Britain
A teenage girl has been convicted of falsely claiming she was raped after having sex with a 14-year-old boy in his bedroom. The teenager claimed she was attacked when she was 15 after the boy ‘nagged’ her to sleep with him during a game of ‘truth or dare’. He was arrested by police and held overnight but denied rape and was freed without charge.
Instead police charged the girl, now 16, with making a false allegation to pervert the course of justice – despite both children being under the age of consent.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denied the charge, but has now been found guilty at Cheltenham Magistrates Court, where the judge branded her a ‘liar’, and remanded on unconditional bail for a pre-sentence report.
Technically, both youngsters were breaking the law by having intercourse under the age of 16 – where a child is 13 or older and consenting, the offence is classed as ‘unlawful sexual intercourse’ – but the boy has not been prosecuted.
Rape campaigners yesterday criticised the decision to charge the girl. Lisa Longstaff, from Women Against Rape, said: ‘It is awful that a girl so young has been prosecuted in this way.’
The case recalls controversial comments four years ago by then Dyfed-Powys chief constable Terry Grange, who said it would not be possible to prosecute all young boys who have sex with young girls. He said in 2006: ‘If you prosecute each and every time a boy has sex with a girl under 16 and above 12, then we’d be in the schools across Britain and in the youth clubs across Britain pretty regularly because, since I’ve been alive, it’s been pretty normal. It’s what teenagers do.’
The girl, from Gloucestershire, claimed that after a game of ‘truth or dare’, which at one point involved her and a female friend lifting their tops, the boy had ‘nagged’ her to have sex with him but she had repeatedly said she did not want to. Then when he asked her three or four times to lie down on the bed, she did so just to shut him up.
She claimed the boy covered them both with duvets, took off some of her clothes, and raped her. She said she ‘froze’ during the incident and though she told him quietly to stop, she did not call out to her friends for help. But the prosecution said the girl’s account of the alleged rape was ‘riddled with lies’.
Julian Kesner, prosecuting, said she had at first said just the two of them were in the bedroom but later admitted that two friends were also there. He added that the day after the alleged attack the girl was spotted holding hands with the boy. Mr Kesner said: ‘When she told her friend she had accused the boy of rape, the other girl, who had been in the room at the time, said, “Oh my God, it wasn’t rape. What have you got yourself into now?”’
On the third and final day of the trial, the girl admitted that she had told lies to police but continued to maintain that she had been raped.
District Judge Joti Bopa Rai concluded that the sex was consensual, saying it was possible the girl had lied because she feared she was pregnant or to ‘cover her tracks’. ‘That lie grew bigger and bigger and bigger,’ she added.
She said she appreciated the defendant was young but said: ‘She knew the consequences of telling lies and getting the boy concerned into trouble. The consequences for him have been horrendous and I believe she meant that to happen.’
New education bill will give protection for British teachers falsely accused by pupils
Teachers are to be granted anonymity when pupils make allegations against them, which will only be lifted if a charge is made. The proposals are set out in Michael Gove’s Education Bill, which also gives teachers new powers to search pupils. It will also be made easier for teachers to hand out detentions. They will no longer have to give parents 24 hours’ notice.
And heads will have the final say on expulsions – stopping independent appeals panels from forcing children back into school.
The Education Secretary said the moves are necessary to reverse the ‘out of control’ behaviour which has driven teachers from the profession. Every school day nearly 1,000 children are suspended from school for abuse and assault. Major assaults on staff have reached a five-year high. Last year, 44 teachers were taken to hospital with serious injuries.
Unions praised the moves to protect teachers from false allegations but expressed concerns about extended search rights. Dr Mary Bousted, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: ‘Teachers are worried that encouraging them to search pupils and confiscate items such as mobiles, weapons, drugs and cigarettes will damage their relationship with their pupils.
The Bill also sets down measures to free schools of bureaucracy by axing quangos and abolishing unnecessary form filling. Mr Gove said: ‘We’re taking action to restore discipline and reduce bureaucracy.
Teachers will be free to impose the penalties they need to keep order – and free from the red tape which swallows up teaching time. So they can get on with their first duty – raising standards.’
Today’s Bill also includes a clause that could see the middle classes bearing the brunt of the rise in tuition fees to £9,000 a year.
“Sexist” comments a cause for firing of British TV commentator?
Must not discuss either the competence or the appearance of a female? The comments were made privately but were overheard and recorded.
“One of British football’s leading television commentators, Andy Gray, has been fired, a day after being taken off the air for making sexist remarks about a female match official.
Gray, who has been the face of Sky Sports’ football coverage for the past two decades, was dismissed by the broadcaster with immediate effect after “new evidence of unacceptable and offensive behaviour” in an off-air incident last month came to light.
Gray, 55, was broadcasting the Premier League match between Wolverhampton and Liverpool on Saturday when he and Keys make disparaging remarks about Massey, who was officiating the game.
Gray questioned whether Massey knew the offside rule, widely seen as a barometer of basic football knowledge, and made an abusive reference to Toms, saying she had been “hopeless” as a lineswoman.
Further footage which compromised Gray and another member of Sky Sports’ commentary team – Andy Burton – was also passed to the media. Burton was taken off air yesterday.
In that incident, Burton was talking to Gray off-air on the touchline at Molineux prior to kickoff on Saturday and said: “Apparently a female lino today, bit of a looker.”
Continuing to remark on Massey’s appearance, Burton added that another member of the Sky Sports crew said Massey was “all right,” adding: “Now, I don’t know if I should trust his judgment on that?”
Gray then said: “No, I wouldn’t. I definitely wouldn’t … I can see her from here,” before swearing and adding: “What do women know about the offside rule?”