Third world Britain: Mother died after being given C-section on hospital floor by staff who tried to resuscitate her with disconnected oxygen mask
Two midwives have been suspended after a mum tragically died giving birth to a stillborn little girl at a trouble-torn hospital. Tebussum Ali, 27, known as Sareena, plunged into a coma after having an emergency Caesarean section on the ward floor in Queen’s Hospital, Romford, Essex.
Staff desperately battled to revive her after her tiny daughter Zainab was born lifeless. But they only noticed the oxygen mask they were using was not connected to a supply when Sareena’s horrified husband Usman Javed, 29, pointed out the glaring error.
The deadly mix-up is the latest in a string of high-profile blunders at the £200m flagship hospital.
Sareena, of Ilford, Essex, died of cerebral anoxia – a shortage of oxygen to the brain. She was given the Caesarean after collapsing in pain, despite Usman begging nurses to help her for hours.
Two midwives were suspended as hospital bosses launched an urgent investigation into the tragic incident.
Devastated Usman said: ‘No other mothers must suffer the pain Sareena experienced. The chief executive should consider her position. ‘She left uncaring and incompetent staff looking after my beloved wife.’
The mortgage consultant added: ‘Nothing can bring her or my baby back, but she must take responsibility for this terrible tragedy which could – and should – have been avoided.’
Sareena was overdue at 40 weeks when she was admitted to hospital on January 23 to have her first child. She became very distressed and had to endure severe pain but was not checked on for two and a half hours. Eventually a nurse from the night shift checked on her and advised her to get up, have a shower and get ready for the labour ward. However as Usman and Sareena’s brother, who was also with them, tried to get her out of bed, she collapsed on the floor, having suffered cardiac arrest.
Doctors were subsequently forced to carry out an emergency Caesarean on the antenatal ward, in front of other distressed mothers-to-be, after it became apparent that Sareena was too ill to be moved. Efforts to save her life over the next few days failed and she died on January 28.
Solicitor Sarah Harman, acting for Usman, said: ‘I am concerned at the lack of attention given to Sareena. ‘It seems she should have gone to the labour ward once labour was established, which was early evening. For some reason she was not sent there and while waiting, the antenatal ward failed to check on her.’ She added: ‘I don’t think understaffing was the problem. The problem was the attitude of the staff.’
Usman also plans to complain to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Averil Dongworth, chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals, said: ‘I would like to offer my sincere apologies and condolences to Mr Javed at this deeply distressing time. ‘A full investigation is being carried out into the events surrounding Ms Ali’s death as the original cause was a very rare medical complication that has occurred at the trust only twice in 10 years. ‘This equates to 1 in 40,000 deliveries. It is important that this trust learns from, and shares, any lessons learnt.’
She added: ‘We are keeping Mr Javed fully informed and have admitted that the care provided to Ms Ali during her early labour was of an unacceptable standard. ‘The trust has been in open communication with Mr Javed’s solicitors and has advised that liability will not be disputed.’
Humiliation for widow, 77, being forced to undergo an incontinence test to get her NHS prescription
For the last few years, she has counted on the health service to afford her dignity and security in her old age. But now a blind 77-year-old widow has been left feeling dehumanised and humiliated by those who were supposed to be looking after her.
Edith Braddow, who was prescribed incontinence pads by a local clinic after being referred by her GP, says she was told to bring in three soiled pads if she wanted to continue to receive them.
A packet of eight women’s incontinence pads costs £2.35 in Boots, or around 29p each. Mrs Braddow said: ‘I was totally disgusted. I’ve worked all my life, but it seems nobody bothers about us oldies now.’
Her son Ivan said: ‘For some time, my mother has had incontinence pads through the local clinic and she’s had to go there for regular assessments. ‘She’s been given measuring cups to measure quantities of urine at home and we put it down on a chart and took that into the clinic.
‘The problem came a couple of months ago when she was called in for another reassessment. She was told to bring in three soiled pads. I was incensed, but we put three pads in a carrier bag. ‘When we got there the nurses actually weighed each pad in front of us and referred to some kind of scale. They said it was a new method they had to assess to see how much she was using.
‘Then they told us that it didn’t appear she was producing enough urine and that due to the cuts she would no longer be entitled to any pads unless she paid for them.’
Mr Braddow, 52, who doesn’t work because he is his mother’s full-time carer at their home in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, said she was ‘inconsolable’ at the way she had been treated. He said his mother is on pension credit and struggles to make ends meet, so cannot afford to buy the pads herself.
‘She is really, really down and has been crying,’ he said. ‘She is frightened to go to bed at night for fear of having an accident. She is only able to walk half a step at a time, so it takes her a long time to get to the toilet. She now won’t go outside at all for the same reason. She is virtually housebound. ‘It is embarrassing for her to be having to talk about it, but it has made us so angry that we want to speak out.’
Mrs Braddow’s case has been taken up by Gloria De Piero, Labour MP for Ashfield, who said she had been contacted by other patients who had had the same experience. ‘I am absolutely horrified that people who have paid their taxes all their life and are now asking for nothing more than incontinence pads to enable them to live their lives with dignity are apparently being told they can’t have them because of spending cuts,’ she said.
‘To make matters worse, they are being humiliated by being told to bring in soiled pads to prove their entitlement. I simply couldn’t believe it when I was contacted by patients who have had this appalling experience. ‘A society should be judged by how it treats its elderly, and this is failing the test. Ministers have got to intervene to put a stop to this.’
The case is likely to cause alarm at the Department of Health, since NHS spending has been protected from the cuts being made elsewhere.
A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Community Health insisted that testing incontinence pads for absorbency was standard practice. ‘A review of the continence service took place during 2010 and changes have been made to ensure patients receive optimum care,’ she said. ‘The aim of the service is always to return patients to continence wherever possible. Pads are only prescribed for those patients with moderate to severe incontinence.
‘All patients are offered a comprehensive clinical assessment, which includes reviewing existing pads to ensure adequate absorbency and comfort to the patient, as defined by National Good Practice, followed by a clear treatment plan.’
Michelle Mitchell, charity director at the charity Age UK, said: ‘It is difficult to believe anyone with a medical condition could be publicly humiliated in this way. It defies belief that any organisation would defend this treatment as an acceptable way of dealing with continence issues.
‘This appalling treatment highlights the problem of far too many older people being stripped of their dignity and treated disrespectfully at the hands of the NHS. This cannot be allowed to continue.’
Curriculum for British pre-schoolers cut back
A controversial “nappy [diaper] curriculum” for under-fives will be radically overhauled after a Government review concluded almost half of children were starting school lacking basic social and language skills.
The compulsory Early Years Foundation Stage – that requires children to hit a series of 117 targets – will be dramatically stripped back amid fears it promotes a “tick-box” culture in nurseries and pre-schools.
In a damning indictment of one of Labour’s flagship education reforms, a report will say that teachers and childminders are currently spending too much time filling in forms instead of improving children’s early development.
According to figures, some 44 per cent of pupils in England currently start compulsory education without the basic social, communication and language skills needed to make a success of school.
Almost four-in-10 boys and a fifth of girls are unable to hold a pencil or write legible letters by the age of five, while almost half of all children struggle to concentrate or pay attention.
Next week’s review – led by Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of the charity Action for Children – will call for a dramatic reduction in the number of targets children are expected to meet following claims they prevent toddlers from developing naturally. Under-fives could be measured against just 17 criteria compared with the existing 117.
Childminders, nurseries and playschools will no longer be forced to rate children on their ability to dress independently, manage personal hygiene, use modern technology and understand other cultures, it is expected to say.
Staff will be asked to focus on a small number of core subjects, such as improving children’s speaking and listening skills, basic literacy and promoting social interaction.
Much of the existing paperwork early years teachers are forced to fill in will be axed and they will also be required to do more to identify children struggling the most early on, particularly those from poor backgrounds.
A Coalition source said: “We know that teachers and early years practitioners are spending too long ticking boxes and filling in forms. “This means that they don’t have enough time to focus on the basics a child needs to prepare them to learn effectively in the first year at school. Basics like being able to make friends, listen effectively and hold a pencil.
“The evidence is clear that children who are behind at five are much more likely to still be behind at the age of seven. “We need an early years framework that supports what parents already do with their children at home – playing and helping children develop, but also sets children up for the challenges they’ll face at school.”
The Early Years Foundation Stage has been a compulsory requirement for all nurseries, pre-schools and childminders since 2008.
Currently, children must hit a series of targets before they start full-time education. This includes counting up to 10, reciting the alphabet, writing their own name and simple words and forming sentences using basic punctuation.
It also covers personal development, requiring children to “dress and undress independently and manage their own personal hygiene”, as well as understanding that “people have different needs, views cultures and beliefs that need to be treated with respect”.
The curriculum has been criticised for pushing children too far at a young age, undermining the amount of time they spend playing.
Helen Clegg, head teacher of high-performing Shiremoor primary school, North Tyneside, told the Telegraph: “The EYFS has got completely out of hand and can have a negative effect on children. Teachers, particularly new teachers, spend too much time ticking boxes and assessing the children, rather than helping them learn.”
After coroner blames Britain’s health and safety rules for failing Cumbria gunman’s victims, 999 crews told: You must risk your lives
It looks like the Labour Party’s insane safety rules are at last crumbling
Emergency services were told yesterday they should be prepared to ‘risk their lives’ to protect the public. At the inquest on victims of the Cumbrian gun massacre, coroner David Roberts said it was disturbing that paramedics were prevented from reaching the injured because of red tape which cost vital minutes.
And a senior police officer said the response had been severely hampered by slavish adherence to health and safety regulations. ‘The public have a right to expect the emergency services to put themselves at risk to help them,’ he said.
On the day of the rampage, when crazed gunman Derrick Bird murdered 12 people and wounded 11 others, ambulance crews were ordered to remain at ‘safe rendezvous points’ for anything up to two hours until the police gave them permission to treat victims. This dithering was compounded by a catastrophic breakdown in communication between the different services.
A total of 13 ambulances, three air ambulances and four rapid response vehicles were held back for up to 90 minutes because police officers were unaware the crews were waiting for their go-ahead before helping the wounded.
Yesterday, after listening to 70 witnesses during 18 days of harrowing evidence, the inquest jury returned verdicts of unlawful killing on each of Bird’s 12 victims. They also found that Bird had killed himself.
Mr Roberts said that though he did not believe the misguided safety measures had cost lives, they could easily do so in future incidents. ‘It does not take a leap of imagination to see if this incident were replicated, it may be that the ambulance service or paramedic assistance would be needed for someone to survive who would otherwise have died,’ he said. Mr Roberts said he would be writing to the Home Secretary urging him to review health and safety rules relating to the emergency services.
These rules were also blamed at the inquests into the London bombings on July 7, 2005, for causing delays.
Last night, one of those caught up in the Cumbria massacre on June 2 last year described the rules preventing paramedics from attending scenes as ‘appalling’. Vivienne Tregidga, a PR consultant who waited for an ambulance with one of Bird’s victims, said: ‘It was left up to people who didn’t have enough training or equipment to help victims. ‘We all pay taxes to have an emergency service and when there’s an emergency they don’t turn up.’
An independent report into the emergency services handling of the killing spree is expected to be published on Monday. It is anticipated that it will call for an overhaul of the controversial health and safety policy.
Its author, Assistant Chief Constable Simon Chesterman, who leads policy on armed policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, has also called for greater co-operation among the emergency services. ‘I think the public have a right to expect the emergency services to put themselves at risk to protect them,’ he said. ‘Clearly there were a number of scenes where officers and members of the public were asking for ambulances,’ ‘If I was commanding the incident, the overarching aim would be to protect the public from harm. ‘We cannot go on with this confusion. The police service and the ambulance service must get their act together.’
Bird, a taxi driver, first shot dead his twin brother, David, 52, and then family solicitor Kevin Commons, 60. In the days before the massacre he had convinced himself that the two men were helping an inquiry into his tax affairs.
Bird – who vowed to make Whitehaven as famous as Dunblane – then drove to the town’s Duke Street taxi rank where he shot dead taxi driver Darren Rewcastle, 43, and injured several others.
He went on to kill mother-of-two Susan Hughes, 57, retired security worker Kenneth Fishburn, 71, part-time mole catcher Isaac Dixon, 65, retired couple James and Jennifer Jackson, 67 and 68, farmer Garry Purdham, 31, estate agent Jamie Clark, 23, retired Sellafield employee Michael Pike, 64, and pensioner Jane Robinson, 66.
Within 90 minutes of Mr Rewcastle’s death 30 armed officers were in action, but despite being given permission to shoot to kill they never got close enough to engage Bird. He was finally found in woodland near Boot, more than three hours after police discovered his first known victim, after turning his .22 rifle on himself.
ACC Chesterman, from West Mercia Police, said: ‘If you said to me, “Was the Cumbria Constabulary response reasonable in the circumstances?” Yes it was. ‘Could it have been better? Yes it could and we learn every time that these tragedies happen.’
Cumbria Police assistant chief constable Jerry Graham insisted that at no time before Bird’s body was found was he prepared to declare an area safe. But crucially, he and his force admitted that they were completely unaware of the controversial ambulance policy currently in place.
‘At no stage was I specifically requested by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to give clearance for any member of their staff to enter the crime scenes, or for police officers to escort ambulance staff in order to assist casualties,’ he said.
NWAS head Peter Mulcahy told the inquest said there was a huge tension among ambulance crews over the rules surrounding such an incident. He said: ‘It is not in the makeup of ambulance staff not to go and help people.’ But he said there was a real risk of sending people to their deaths, and the health and safety considerations of staff were paramount.
A spokesman for the NWAS said it would have been liable under health and safety insurance legislation had any of their staff been killed or injured. The service did, however, accept that lessons had to be learnt.
The inquest heard that police and the ambulance service had difficulty communicating because they used different wavelengths on their radios. The system is now being replaced so all 999 services will eventually use the same wavelength.
Fury after British woman who falsely cried rape is handed only an £80 fixed penalty notice
When a mother of five reported that she had been raped by two East European men, panic spread through her community and ethnic tension led to street violence. Despite the arrest of two suspects, the crime remained unsolved and angry residents confronted police chiefs at a public meeting to voice fears for their safety.
Yesterday it was revealed that the ‘victim’, Susan Bradley, 41, later admitted to police that the attack never took place. But instead of being taken to court for perverting the course of justice and facing a jail sentence, she escaped with an £80 fixed penalty for wasting police time.
The decision has been condemned by residents in Darnall, Sheffield, but police say it was the ‘best disposal’ taking into account the woman’s ‘previous good character’.
A major investigation was launched after Bradley claimed to have been raped by two men on wasteland near her home in the early hours of January 30.
A businesswoman in the area said: ‘East Europeans were targeted and beaten up after the woman said she had been raped by men from there. ‘What she did is disgusting, never mind the cost to taxpayers for all the extra police time. Now women may think twice about reporting rape for fear of not being believed. ‘It’s outrageous they have basically let her off with a slap on the wrist. What kind of message does that send out?’
Julie Lindley, who runs a hairdressing salon, said: ‘Her rape claim had the community up in arms. ‘She had our support and sympathy and we all pressed the police to catch the attackers. I am appalled that somebody would make up such an offence.’
South Yorkshire Police said they agreed on the fixed penalty fine after discussing the case with the Crown Prosecution Service. They refused to name the woman, but Bradley was identified by members of the community.
At her home yesterday, the jobless mother, who recently separated from her partner of 17 years, was still claiming to be a victim. Despite not contesting the fine for wasting police time she said two men had sex with her that night but she had not consented.
Bradley said: ‘I admit I had a lot to drink that night. They didn’t injure me but this has really affected me and my kids’ lives. They can’t even go to school because of all the rumours.’