Pregnant student nurse told her labour pains are kidney stones… until she spots her baby’s head
When heavily pregnant Danielle Crowley started having contractions every three minutes she was convinced she was going into labour five weeks early. But when she arrived at hospital blundering doctors and midwives checked her three times and dismissed her discomfort as kidney stones or back ache – as well as accusing the first-time mother-to-be of having a ‘low pain threshold’.
At one stage the teenager was in a toilet screaming in agony while staff ignored her and the only person who checked on her was another patient. Finally, after an 18-hour ordeal, she gave birth in a side ward of the maternity unit in front of other patients and their visitors.
The student nurse has now lodged a formal complaint with Southend Hospital in Essex. ‘They made me feel like I was over-reacting and that the pain was in my head. There was no compassion or empathy,’ said Miss Crowley, 19. ‘I was told quite a few times to put my trust in them. You believe the professionals. They really let me down.’
Miss Crowley, of Benfleet, Essex, was 35 weeks pregnant when she was taken to hospital by her partner Michael Porter, 20, an electrician, and her mother Lorraine Crowley, 51, a school nurse. They arrived at 7pm on January 6 but instead of being put on the labour ward Miss Crowley was given an internal examination and put onto a side ward with five other expectant mothers. ‘The doctor said I was 2cm dilated but I was not in labour,’ she said.
‘They gave me pethidine but that didn’t touch the pain. I couldn’t lie down. I was pacing up and down the ward all night. ‘They said they were absolutely sure I wasn’t in labour and that the baby was lying in an awkward position or I had kidney stone.’
At 2am she was examined again and once more informed she was not about to give birth. ‘The doctor said I had a low pain threshold. I didn’t think I had because I’ve had my appendix out and coped with that,’ she added. ‘She said it must be a kidney stone or really bad back pain. I felt like she was looking down at me because I’m young and felt like I was making a fuss.’
At 7am Miss Crowley was given paracetamol by a midwife but three hours later the pain was becoming unbearable. She said: ‘I was in the toilet screaming. My legs were shaking and I was rocking back and forwards. I felt like I needed to push and I thought that might help push the kidney stone out.
‘Another patient came and knocked on the door asking if I was okay but the midwives just ignored me. They walked past without saying anything.’ An ultra-sound scan at 11am again failed to identify what was happening and just two hours later she gave birth.
‘I was lying on the bed and I told my mum I didn’t think I could take anymore. I felt like jumping out of a window. I felt I needed to push, I heard a pop and my waters broke,’ she said. ‘My mum pulled the red cord and a midwife came over and said it was fine and walked off – but my mum looked down and saw the head coming out so she pulled the cord again.
‘I asked for pain relief but they said it was too late. The midwife told me not to scream. ‘Thirteen minutes later Finley was born. I was in shock. I had been told so many times I wasn’t in labour and wasn’t expecting to have a baby for another five weeks.
‘I ended up giving birth in front of five other patients, their visitors and their doctors who had come round. It was really embarrassing.’
Finley was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and weighed just 5lb 6oz. But he was perfectly healthy and was discharged with his mother two days later.
Miss Crowley said: ‘The doctors couldn’t believe it. They just kept saying “I didn’t think you were in labour”. ‘I’m angry because they didn’t monitor the baby. There was no heart-rate monitor and I’m sure it was as traumatic for him as it was for me. ‘The female doctor apologised and said she would write a letter but I’ve heard nothing from the hospital since.’
Miss Crowley has written to the hospital to complain but said she had not been put off working in the NHS herself. ‘Something like this makes you more determined to get in there and do a good job,’ she added.
A spokeswoman for Southend Hospital said: ‘We are sorry to hear of Miss Crowley’s experience. ‘We would urge her to contact the hospital’s patient advice and liaison service so we can fully investigate her concerns.’
Patients’ complaints about operation waiting times soar
The number of patients complaining about waiting times for key NHS operations has soared, according to a charity. The Patients Association said it received 220 calls in 2010 from patients saying they were unable to access operations such as hip and knee replacements. One patient told how putting weight on their knee had left them screaming in agony, but their GP has said there was no more funding until April.
The number of calls is up on the 66 recorded in 2009, but the charity believes it is only the tip of the iceberg of what is really happening across England.
The Patients Association has also been warned by doctors that health trusts are restricting access to some procedures and slashing funding, including for tonsil removal and cataract operations.
In response to the concerns, the Patients Association sent out Freedom of Information requests to NHS trusts in England. Just over a third of trusts responded and their figures revealed a drop in the number of procedures carried out in key areas.
Overall, there were 10,757 fewer operations between 2009 and 2010 in procedures such as removal of hernias, hip and knee replacements, tonsillectomies, hysterectomies and gallstone operations.
Some waiting times for procedures also rose across those trusts, including an eight-day increase in the wait for hip and knee replacements between 2009 and 2010.
One patient called the charity’s helpline saying they had been told their operation could not happen until April – the start of the new financial year for the NHS. They said: ‘I have been to my GP begging for them to speed up my knee replacement, but he says there is no funding and I will have to wait until April. ‘I can’t do anything, not even go to the shops, and it’s so painful if I put any weight on it I scream.’
A spokesman for the Patients Association said: ‘It is of great concern that potentially 10,757 patients have not received an operation because they were unfortunate enough to require treatment in 2010 instead of 2009. ‘But behind the numbers are individuals who are having to live with painful and quality of life-limiting conditions.’
However, according to NHS data for all trusts in England, from April to October 2010 there were 41,863 hip operations. This is up on the 39,114 in the same period in 2009. In April to October 2010, there were 45,463 knee replacement operations, up on the 43,454 in the same six months in 2009.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: ‘There is no justification for asserting that quality of care is slipping. ‘Official figures show that the NHS is delivering more for patients and that waiting times are stable. [Public hospital statistics are about as reliable as Joe Stalin’s production statistics] ‘Our plans will improve care for patients. Survival rates for conditions – like bowel cancer – need to improve.
‘That’s why we are modernising the NHS to focus on improving the entire patient pathway, not just a narrow part of it, so that people live longer, healthier lives. ‘Our modernisation plans will ensure, for first time, that every provider of NHS services will have a duty to continuously improve the quality of the service they provide.’
Poor diet during pregnancy can give your future grandchildren diabetes, researchers say
This is just theory. All they have shown is that malnourished rats have less healthy offspring
A poor diet during pregnancy may increase the risk of a woman’s children and grandchildren developing type 2 diabetes in later life. The disease mainly affects the middle aged, but a study suggests that susceptibility could be programmed into the cells of an unborn baby if his or her mother eats unhealthily. In theory, this diabetes vulnerability gene could then be passed down to the child’s offspring and future generations.
Cambridge University scientists pinpointed the gene in tests on rats that showed it was reprogrammed in the womb by a protein-deficient diet given to the mother.
Other research suggests a range of unbalanced diets may result in an increased risk of diabetes, not just protein-restricted ones.
The Cambridge team, whose work is published in the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, focused on a ‘master regulator’ metabolism gene that is important both in the development of the pancreas in the womb and its ability to produce insulin.
Feeding mother rats a low-protein diet reduced the gene’s activity, decreased insulin production and made the offspring prone to developing type 2 diabetes in later life.
The scientists say it is likely humans would be affected in a similar way.
Sucking the jelly out of my eyeballs made my annoying floaters vanish
This sounds pretty horrible but I guess it is not. I thought the idea of a cataract operation was horrible but now that I have had that procedure, I am pleased to say that it was much better than it sounds — JR
One day I was driving to a lunch appointment when flashing lights started appearing out of nowhere on my right-hand side. I continued driving and met my friend, but then went straight to my optician.
He told me that I had Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD), when the vitreous jelly — which fills the inside of your eye — had come away from the lining at the back of the eyeball. All the flashing lights I saw were the nerves firing off with the trauma. The next day, my son Matthew drove me to the Eye Unit at Southampton Hospital where the diagnosis was confirmed. The doctor there said there was nothing to do except wait for it to settle down.
The lights did stop flashing, but I was left with dozens of floaters of all shapes and sizes in my line of vision, which only got worse. A few months later the flashing lights suddenly appeared in my left eye, too. I felt absolutely furious and desperate because my left eye was my stronger one. I immediately went to see my optician who said it was the same problem.
For the next four years, I had to put up with a large cloudy patch in my left eye. It was hard to watch TV, use the computer or even read a recipe. It wasn’t painful — just annoying.
In 2009, my optician told me about a treatment for PVD called vitrectomy which a surgeon called Andrew Luff was doing with good results. Apparently, he sucked out the jelly from the eyeballs through a needle and then replaced it with salt water.
I was pretty horrified, and put off my decision for six months. But by April 2010 I felt very low and my vision was worsening, so I made an appointment to see Mr Luff privately.
He looked at my eyes and told me he could perform a vitrectomy operation and, at the same time, would give me new artificial lenses; the vitrectomy surgery makes the lens of the eye go cloudy within a few months, and apparently I had early-stage cataracts anyway.
A few weeks later I went to hospital for the operation on my right eye. The anaesthetist gave me a sedative and injected anaesthetic around the eye. That meant I couldn’t feel a thing, and I thought my eye was closed when actually it was clamped open and Mr Luff was inserting the needles.
Half an hour later, it was all done and I was taken back to my room, my right eye covered with a patch. I went home the same day and removed the patch 24 hours later.
My daughter Jo nearly fainted because I had a black eye and my eyeball was red, but the wonderful thing was that I could see clearly. I rested for a couple of weeks and used antibiotic eye drops. Within a fortnight my eye looked normal.
After all those years of living in shadows, I can now see clearly and in full technicolor.
Andrew Luff, a consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Southampton Eye Unit and at Optegra Solent Eye Hospital, says:
“Many people over the age of 50 will be aware of occasional floaters — these are bits of collagen (the material which holds our skin and bones together) suspended in the vitreous jelly of the eyeball. The jelly is 99 per cent water and one per cent solid, but as we age, the solid bits clump together into visible strands and shapes. Some people experience one large floater, which can be distracting.
People can live with floaters quite easily, but in some cases they become a major irritation and need to be surgically corrected.
They can also become much worse if the vitreous jelly pulls away from the retina, the light-sensitive film lining the inside of the eye. This is called Posterior Vitreous Detachment, and it occurs in around 75 per cent of people over 65. Every time you move or flick your eyeball, such as when you are reading, the jelly containing the collagen clumps sways with the movement.
In a vitrectomy operation, the debris-filled vitreous jelly is removed from the eyeball and replaced by saline. The vitreous never regrows, but the body quickly replaces the saline with clear fluid so the patient can see clearly again.
This procedure has been done for a number of years, but in the past it was offered to a patient only if the alternative was blindness, because there was a risk that the lining at the back of the eye would come away. Now, with better equipment and advanced techniques, the complication rate has dropped dramatically.
We use ultra-fine instruments to make tiny incisions. These are so small they heal without stitches, so there’s less risk of complications.
Sexism is dead, say most British WOMEN
It may come as a surprise to those who feel they’ve hit the glass ceiling or heard one too many blonde jokes. Most women do not believe that Britain is a sexist place, a poll has revealed.
Fewer than four in ten say they have experienced derogatory remarks or behaviour because of their gender.
And the majority of men and women think both sexes are equally capable of handling challenging and traditionally male tasks, such as making a safe emergency landing in an aeroplane.
The results of the survey, carried out for a group of charities and pressure groups, suggest that most women are far more concerned with solving day-to-day practical problems in their lives than fighting a battle for equality.
Nearly two-thirds of women say their biggest concern is balancing work and family life. Only one in 20 feels the greatest problem facing them is sexism at work – though three times as many men believe this is women’s major challenge.
Only one in five women describes herself as a feminist – and three out of four say they definitely would not use the label.
The poll was carried out to mark today’s International Women’s Day by a group including poverty campaign organisation ActionAid, domestic violence campaigners Women’s Aid, feminist pressure group the Fawcett Society, and political freedom campaigners Amnesty International.
It followed figures published to mark the same occasion by the Government’s Office for National Statistics, which showed that men and women now have an equal chance of making it to the top ranks of managers and officials in business and the public sector.
But Amnesty International’s UK director Kate Allen said the findings still showed a ‘worrying’ gap between men and women. She added: ‘Unless attempts are made to change such attitudes in every section of society, some women will always be treated as second-class citizens. ‘Amnesty International has found from its work that it is these negative views which in the most extreme instances can lead to abusive behaviour towards women and a basic denial of women’s rights.’ [What’s this got to do with Amnesty? More proof that Amnesty now is just a far-Left outfit]
The poll of 1,028 participants, carried out by Ipsos Mori, found that 47 per cent of women did not believe men and women are treated equally in Britain. However, 34 per cent said treatment is equal.
Some 38 per cent of women said they had personally experienced ‘sexist remarks or sexist behaviour’, including physical contact. The figure rose to 60 per cent among women under 30. However, 15 per cent of men said they had also been on the receiving end of sexist behaviour.
Only 6 per cent of women said the greatest challenge facing women in Britain was sexism at work.