Guy who made himself look weird gets treated as if he is weird
The NHS did the wrong thing but they cannot wholly be blamed. If he had private health insurance he might have been treated with more respect, however
The story may however have a useful sequel if it alerts some young attention-seekers to the dangers of thumbing their noses at the majority culture.
A musician with a punk haircut died from swine flu after medics assumed he was a drug addict and ignored his pleas for help, his distraught mother claims. Peter Williamson, who sported a mohican and facial piercings, was turned away from a hospital and health centre, as well as by an ambulance crew. An ambulanceman called to his home asked his mother if Peter had taken drugs – then said he didn’t need to go to hospital.
Peter’s condition deteriorated and he was left so weak that he had to use a mobility scooter to go food shopping with his mother. He was found dead by his mother at his flat in Walkden, Greater Manchester – only a week after his request plea for help.
Tests confirmed he had bronchopneumonia and the swine flu Influenza A virus H1N1. An inquest coroner recorded a verdict of death by natural causes although a pathologist said the death could have been avoided if Peter had early treatment.
Today as lawyers for the family prepared to sue health bosses for negligence, Peter’s mother Susan, 51, said: ‘We did everything possible to get Peter help, but we think because of the way he looked they just wouldn’t listen to us. ‘Presumably because he had a punk hairstyle and facial piercings they dismissed him as a junkie. But nothing could be further from the truth. My Peter never touched drugs and lived a healthy lifestyle.
‘He loved punk music, it was his life but having a spikey haircut doesn’t make you a drug abuser. I will always hold the doctors and nurses responsible for Peter’s death. ‘It’s just the disgusting way they treated my son. I think the attitude of the hospital staff is appalling, they just looked at Peter and just judged him for the way he looked.’
The tragedy occurred in November 2009 when Peter who promoted bands in Manchester came down with a high temperature, loss of appetite and feeling weak.
Mrs Williamson said: ‘We immediately thought it was swine flu, so we called the NHS Direct help line but they refused to give him Tamiflu, even though he should have had it anyway. They just said he needed further assessment by a doctor.’
The next day when Peter’s condition worsened they decided to go to Hope Hospital A&E department in Salford. They were kept waiting for 90 minutes before Peter was found a room. ‘Peter was so weak he struggled to get out of the car,’ added Susan. ‘Other patients were being given rooms for treatment but not my son. ‘In the end I went and got a nurse because he was finding it hard to breathe but when she saw he could talk she just said he obviously can breathe. I was so shocked.
‘She examined him but said it was just a virus and to go home, but before we left she turned around to him and said “do you realise we do have sick people in this hospital?”, as if we had completely wasted her time. I was absolutely horrified.
‘As we walked out Peter shouted at them saying, “It’s swine flu, I told you my friend has had it, I’ll be dead within a week”. He then turned round to me and said “when I’m dead, sue the a**es off of them”.’
Peter’s condition deteriorated and he was left so weak that he had to use a mobility scooter to go food shopping with his mother. Two days later Susan went round to visit Peter as she was concerned about him: ‘He was clearly getting worse so I phoned for an ambulance.
‘When they arrived they just looked at him and asked him what drugs had he taken, and said he shouldn’t be frightened in telling them just because his mum was there. ‘We finally convinced them he hadn’t taken drugs and they properly examined him and again said he didn’t need to go to the hospital.
‘He phoned us on Thursday evening crying and said he had never felt so ill in all his life and that he was hallucinating, probably because his temperature was so high. ‘He was too frightened to go to sleep because he was scared he wouldn’t wake up again.’
The next day Peter put himself in to a taxi and went alone to a walk-in health centre in Manchester city centre but was turned away again and rang his mother. ‘It was the last time I spoke to him, he just sounded so weak and tired,’ Susan said.
‘At the inquest the pathologist confirmed that it was swine flu and that he could have probably survived had he proper received treatment in time.
Mark Slater, partner at Manchester law firm Price and Slater, who is representing the Williamson family said: ‘In all my years as a medical negligence lawyer Peter’s case has to be one of the most tragic because it should have easily have been prevented. ‘I was so surprised in Peter’s case to hear that at a time when Tamiflu was more widely available than vitamin C pills that here was a family who was telling me that they tried four times and just couldn’t get it.
‘A young life has been wasted because staff did not consider the possibility he had swine flu. We are still investigating whether or not the missed diagnosis was the result of negligent care or a tragic sequence of unavoidable errors.’
A spokesman for Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘We are sorry to learn that the family have concerns. ‘We urge them to contact the Trust directly to enable us to investigate the matter fully. Salford Royal is an NHS provider of healthcare for all and we would never discriminate against any patient.’
The invasion of EU nurses: Number working in NHS doubles amid language fears after controls relaxed
The number of European nurses registering to work in Britain has almost doubled since strict checks on their competence – including language skills – were scrapped. Officials were forced to abandon compulsory tests on medical knowledge and skills for some foreign applicants in October, because they breached EU rules.
In the five months since they were stopped, 1,436 nurses from European countries have signed up to work in hospitals and care homes in Britain, compared with just 857 in the preceding five months.
Campaigners have raised concerns that the changes could cost lives. Previously, all nurses from EU member states wanting to work in Britain had to prove they had carried out at least 450 hours of work in their own country in the last three years.
Those who couldn’t were required to enrol on a ‘return to practice’ course at a university, usually lasting at least three months and involving regular theory and practical tests. Although nurses were not directly tested on their language skills, they were unlikely to pass the course if their English was poor.
But it is now far easier for a nurse from the EU to work in an NHS hospital or care home than a British-trained one who may have stopped working for a few years to have children. Nurses trained in this country who haven’t worked for three years still have to pass the course, which can cost up to £1,000.
And those who qualified in countries outside the EU face strict tests on their skills – and must score at least 7 out of a possible 9 in an English exam.
Howard Catton, head of policy at the Royal College of Nursing, told the Nursing Standard journal, which obtained the figures, he was ‘concerned’ at the rise. ‘There is a risk that we have created a public protection black hole,’ he said. ‘The regulator and employers need to work together to monitor the skills and qualifications of nurses that are coming in from European countries, and produce assurances that these are up to date.’
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘It seems an unethical approach. We must make sure that those nurses who are registered are competent to provide good care.’
The Nursing and Midwifery Council, which regulates nurses, said it was unclear whether the increase related directly to the rule change as some applications take months to process.
EU bureaucrats believed the recently scrapped tests breached the union’s ‘freedom of labour’ law, which states residents should be able to work in another member state without difficulty.
How the UK Border Agency lost track of 180,000 migrants on expired visas
An astonishing 181,000 migrants whose right to live in Britain has expired could still be here, auditors have found. The figure includes workers, students and their relatives whose visas have run out in the last two years, and who have been refused permission to stay on.
The National Audit Office, which uncovered the statistic, said immigration officials ‘cannot be sure’ how many have gone home. It found the UK Border Agency knew where all the failed applicants had lived in Britain – but has not checked if they are still there. Worryingly, the only action taken has been letters sent to 2,000 people in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, asking them to leave.
The figure, revealed in a highly critical report into Labour’s points-based immigration system, will raise concerns about the number of illegal migrants in the UK, and the lack of measures to make them leave. The supposedly ‘tough’ system, modelled on Australia’s, was designed to cut economic migration by as much as 12 per cent. In fact, it has increased by 20 per cent. The number of foreign students has risen by nearly a third.
Tory MP Philip Davies said the revelations proved the system was a ‘complete shambles’, adding: ‘This goes to show what an absurdly lax regime has been run.’
Immigration minister Damian Green said the Government was making ‘radical reforms’ to the system, including ‘the introduction of an annual limit on economic migrants, sweeping changes to the student visa system, and a shake-up of the family and settlement route’. He added it was also committed to reintroducing exit checks by 2015. ‘We are determined to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, and clampdown on abuses,’ he said.
The report raised further concerns over the resident labour market test, which requires employers to advertise a job to Britons before looking overseas. Immigration officials were unable to check if companies advertised roles here for the minimum period of four weeks.
Rules which allowed 90,000 migrants to stay for two years looking for work after completing their studies were also given a scathing assessment. The report said: ‘It is not clear that the department foresaw the risk this posed to control of the border, or whether it took adequate steps to mitigate the risk.’
Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, said: ‘The Points Based System is a welcome simplification of the previous system of 39 different types of work visa. However, gaps in data, poor risk management and inefficient processes mean that we cannot be certain that it either ensures proper controls or meets the UK’s need for skilled labour.’
‘It just wouldn’t work’: TV chief is suspended for keeping ethnic minorities out of “Midsomer Murders”
A work of fiction does not reflect reality! How amazing!
It’s no secret that you don’t see many black or Asian faces on Midsomer Murders. But a row blew up yesterday after the co-creator of the series revealed the reason why – he deliberately keeps ethnic minority characters out of storylines.
Brian True-May, the ITV drama’s executive producer, found himself suspended after he said he did not use black or Asian people in the series because ‘it wouldn’t be an English village with them’.
He described Midsomer Murders as the ‘last bastion of Englishness’ which relied on an ‘English genteel eccentricity’, claiming it ‘wouldn’t work’ if it suggested there was racial diversity in village life.
Other long running serials, including BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, have been criticised over ‘tokenism’ when they have included ethnic characters.
Mr True-May told the Radio Times if he had more minority cast members ‘we might be in Slough’.
Last night, amid mounting fury from charities and campaigners, the production company behind the show – All3Media – suspended the TV executive. ITV said it was ‘shocked and appalled’ at his remarks.
Midsomer Murders, based on the books by Caroline Graham, was launched in 1997 and has featured 251 deaths, 222 of which were murders. The series returns this week with a new star replacing actor John Nettles who played the central character, DCI Tom Barnaby.
Mr True-May said: ‘When I talk to people and other nations they love John Nettles, but they also love the premise of the show. ‘They love the perceived English genteel eccentricity. It’s not British, it’s very English. ‘We are a cosmopolitan society in this country, but if you watch Midsomer you wouldn’t think so. I’ve never been picked up on that, but quite honestly I wouldn’t want to change it.’
When asked to clarify what he meant, he added. ‘Well, we just don’t have ethnic minorities involved. Because it wouldn’t be the English village with them. It just wouldn’t work. Suddenly we might be in Slough.
‘Ironically, Causton [the fictional local town in Midsomer Murders] is supposed to be Slough. And if you went in to Slough you wouldn’t see a white face there. ‘We’re the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way.’
He admitted that Englishness should include other races, but added: ‘Maybe I’m not politically correct’.
Mr True-May, who lives in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, near where parts of the show are filmed, added: ‘I’m trying to make something that appeals to a certain audience, which seems to succeed. And I don’t want to change it.’
Campaigners accused the executive of trying to ‘wipe’ ethnic minorities ‘off the screen’ and of ‘distorting’ the presence of black and Asian people in rural areas.
Rob Berkeley, of race equality think tank, the Runnymede Trust said: ‘Clearly, as a fictional work, the producers of Midsomer Murders are entitled to their flights of fancy, but to claim the English village is purely white is no longer true and not a fair reflection of our society.’
Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, which aims to create a better understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims, said: ‘There is a wider agenda in what he is saying which is worrying for me. ‘To try to wipe us or our presence off television screens is wrong and factually incorrect.’
Mr True-May last night said he had been instructed by lawyers not to comment. His tearful wife, Maureen, described his suspension as ‘ridiculous’. Villagers in Great Missenden leapt to the producer’s defence. Roy Stock, 63, said: ‘The whole reason of the show is to depict the tiny little villages of England. ‘There just aren’t any ethnic people around here. In everyday life in Great Missenden you wouldn’t see any at all.’
Last month Mark Damazer, Radio 4’s former controller, said radio shows should better reflect modern British society, although he cautioned against deliberately targeting ethnic groups.
The daffodil police: British cops swoop on three little girls picking flowers in park
But don’t expect them to take any interest if your car is stolen
There are many good reasons for police might carry out a surveillance operation of a local park, for example to scupper a drug deal or tail a suspected mugger. But when two officers swooped at the weekend, having spied on three ‘suspects’ for 20 minutes from the safety of their patrol car, the need for their presence was not quite so clear.
For those being targeted were three little girls whose ‘crime’ was picking a few daffodils in the spring sunshine.
Sisters Sienna, four, and India, ten, and their stepsister Olivia, six, had been on a Sunday walk in the park with their parents when they stopped to pick the flowers. But they were spotted by a passing councillor, a member of whose family called the police.
The officers moved the family on after warning Olivia’s mother Jane Errington, 35, that she and partner Marc Marengo, 49, father of Sienna and India, that they could be arrested for theft and criminal damage.
Miss Errington claimed the girls were reduced to tears and Sienna is now frightened about returning to the park in case her family are ‘taken away by the police’.
Another false rape claim from Britain
Yet another reason for ending the feminist practice of taking the word of a woman against the word of a man. Women are excellent liars and they often lie about rape
A judge has launched a stinging attack on a drunken Wren who cried rape after claiming she woke up to find she was having sex with the wrong man. Judge Jeff Blackett blamed the woman for drinking heavily, being an ‘enthusiastic participant’ in sex and said she did not come to court with ‘clean hands’.
In an extraordinary case, the 19-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claimed she had mistaken sailor Kenni Dinnell for her lover after a drunken night out because both men had Scottish accents. Yesterday, 21-year-old Dinnell, from Dumfries, Scotland, was cleared of rape by a Royal Navy court martial. He had denied the charge.
In only the second rape case to be tried by a Navy court martial, the court heard the trio had gone on a drinking spree in Portsmouth last July and drunk fortified wine, the alcopop WKD and strawberry cider.
The Wren admitted she had consensual sex with Leading Artificer Greg Robertson, 22, in his room at HMS Nelson, the naval base in Portsmouth, while his friend, Engineering Technician Dinnell, was in the bathroom. After she had sex with Robertson he fell asleep on the floor. The Wren claimed she then woke up to find Dinnell having sex with her and participated because it was a case of mistaken identity.
Judge Blackett said: ‘A woman who drinks to excess and returns voluntarily with two men, having sex with one man while the other is in the room, does not come to court with entirely clean hands.
‘This is the sort of case which in my opinion should never have come to court. There cannot be any higher consent to sex than enthusiastic participation in it. She responded for a few minutes to the defendant’s sexual advances. She felt him kissing her neck, kissed him on the lips and then allowed full sexual intercourse to take place. ‘If the defendant genuinely believed she consented, even though that belief may have been mistaken, he is not guilty of rape.
‘She said she blames herself and she must share that responsibility. None of this has brought any credit to the service and all three rates have let themselves and their service down.’
He went on: ‘I do not criticise the prosecution because we live in an atmosphere and era that makes it very difficult for the police and prosecuting authorities not to prosecute allegations of this nature.’
His comments were made two weeks ago when Dinnell’s legal team applied to have the case dropped due to lack of evidence, but they can only be reported now for legal reasons.
The court, held at HMS Nelson, was told the Wren returned willingly to the base with both men around 2am and had consensual sex with Robertson in his single room. Dinnell, who met the Wren that evening, said he had arranged to stay with his friend for the night rather than return to his station on the destroyer HMS York.
After she had sex with Robertson he fell asleep on the floor. Dinnell said he shared the bed with her fully clothed as there was nowhere else to sleep. He claims she awoke and they had consensual sex, but when Robertson awoke halfway through she appeared uncomfortable..
Stephen Smyth, defending, told the court: ‘She says she didn’t give him the come on, but in a sense she did. She thought it was Robertson. She hardly pushed him away, she kissed him passionately. ‘Each kiss and touch is a question; may I touch you? If the hands are not pushed away, the answer is yes.’
In evidence, the Wren said she blamed herself for drinking too much.
The only previous rape case heard by a Navy court martial was in 2007 when Chief Petty Officer Phillip Coates was sentenced to five years in prison for raping a naval rating. The conviction was later quashed.
Oxford will shave off £1,000 from its £9,000 fees… but only if your parents earn less than £25,000
Students whose parents earn more than £25,000 will pay full fees of £9,000 at Oxford University, it has emerged. And up to £2,100 of this annual amount will fund the fees and living costs of poorer students.
Observers have branded the move a ‘clunky, clumsy and unfair’ attempt at social engineering and an assault on the squeezed middle classes. They also warn the low threshold for full fees will benefit divorced parents and even encourage couples to split before their child goes to university.
Oxford University is the latest to declare that it will charge up to £9,000 for students in 2012, after Cambridge, Exeter and Imperial College London. But it is the first to explain exactly how the figures will add up.
It also announced an array of fee waivers and bursaries for poor students – totalling £7million – designed to comply with the Coalition’s requirements for broadening access. These say that any university wishing to charge fees of more than £6,000 must sign a ‘fair access’ agreement with the Office for Fair Access setting out measures to recruit teenagers from impoverished backgrounds.
OFFA guidelines state universities must spend 15 to 30 per cent of each tuition fee above £6,000 on schemes to broaden access – around £900.
However, under Oxford’s proposals this percentage will represent up to 70 per cent of fees above £6,000, more than doubling the guideline maximum to £2,100.
Oxford will admit 3,150 undergraduates in 2012. Of these, 2,646 will come from households with incomes of more than £25,000.
What a degree will cost
They will contribute £7million every year to bursaries and fee waivers aimed at impoverished students. Just 504 of next year’s students will be charged less than £9,000. Their fees will be staggered in line with household income.
In addition, Oxford will give a raft of cash awards – ranging from £4,300 in the first year for those with a household income of less than £16,000, up to £1,000 for between £40,000 to £42,600.
There will be no concessions for any student whose parents earn more than £42,600.
Social mobility expert Peter Saunders, emeritus professor of sociology at Sussex University, criticised the measure, saying: ‘It’s brazen and overt social engineering and clearly a clunky and clumsy and unfair attempt to redistribute wealth from the lower middle to the bottom.
‘Fees are repayable when people earn above a threshold so parents’ earnings are irrelevant.’
He added that the policy ‘will actively encourage (parents to) split as it could halve their child’s university debts’.
However, Oxford University’s vice-chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, insisted: ‘These proposals show the strength of our commitment to being accessible for all, and to attracting the very brightest students, whatever their circumstances.’
The university states that it costs an average of £16,000 a year to teach a student at Oxford – double the cost of other institutions, bar Cambridge.
Want to keep your heart and lungs healthy? Avoid traffic pollution (?)
The article below is presumably referring to this — an advocacy article rather than a research report. I regret to say, however, that I find the pronouncements of official bodies unimpressive. The official wisdom is too dogmatic and reverses course too often for any reasonable person to have much faith in it.
At any event, the whole claim is another old chestnut. I have reviewed various research reports making similar claims. And they all fall down by failing to account for social class variables. They fail to note that working class people are much more likely to be exposed to high levels of traffic pollution by reason of their occupation — truck drivers, white van men etc. And working class people have worse health anyhow. So, given that the effect is small (admitted in the Lancet article), we are almost certainly seeing a class effect rather than a pollution effect
The main trigger for a heart attack is not vigorous exercise or stress — it’s air pollution, according to a study published in The Lancet this month.
Researchers found spending time in traffic, whether as a driver or pedestrian, tops the list of ‘last straw’ risk factors that bring on a heart attack.
Polluted air contains particles of dust and soot less than ten microns wide (one micron is a millionth of a metre) which get into the lungs and cause inflammation.
Jon Ayres, professor of environmental and respiratory medicine at the University of Birmingham, says: ‘Particles raise the risk of respiratory problems and also seem to increase the stickiness of the blood. So, if you’ve got coronary heart disease, it may contribute to causing a heart attack.’
Air pollution is not only linked to strokes, heart attacks and cancer — it has a profound effect on those with existing respiratory conditions. Asthmatics are more likely to have an asthma attack on days when pollution is high.