Man suffers two years of agony after doctors treat his tennis elbow… before X-ray reveals broken needle left in his arm
A man who went to see his doctor with a sporting injury was left suffering in excruciating pain… after a broken needle was left in his arm for two years. Stephen Oliver underwent a series of steroid injections after his GP diagnosed him with tennis elbow in 2007.
Yet his elbow swelled up and he remained in agony. Doctors eventually realised more than two years later that part of a hypodermic needle had been left embedded under his skin.
Mr Oliver underwent emergency surgery after he was referred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in November 2009. He was left with a 6in scar on his arm and still suffers pain in his arm to this day.
The 41-year-old, who lives in South Shields, South Tyneside, said: ‘The injury happened when I was on a rowing holiday in 2007 – my elbow became swollen and very painful and my GP diagnosed it as tennis elbow. ‘My first injection was incredibly, intensely painful and I suffered from swelling in my arm for two weeks.
‘I was convinced something was wrong but was told the injection must have hit a nerve – I was denied any further inspection of the arm, despite repeated requests for an X-ray or scan of the area and I was assured that the symptoms I was experiencing were typical of tennis elbow. ‘I attended another five or six appointments and no X-ray was ever carried out – the treatment was becoming less and less effective.
‘I was struggling with my studies as I found it hard to use a computer keyboard, and I needed orthotics to help me drive. ‘I was absolutely staggered when I was eventually X-rayed and the needle was found in my arm. ‘To this day I still suffer with pain and stiffness in my arm and it continues to swell.’
Following his ordeal, Stephen launched legal action with the help of Stephen Winn, from the law firm Irwin Mitchell. The legal claim is still being investigated against the two treatment centres that administered Stephen with the injections.
But he is claiming damages against the centres that administered the injections from November 2007 until September 2009 – a GP surgery in South Shields, and the Musculoskeletal Unit of South Tyneside PCT.
A spokesman for NHS South of Tyne, working on behalf of Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust, South Tyneside PCT and Gateshead PCT, said: ‘We cannot comment on individual cases or when legal proceedings are ongoing.’
Drugs trials system ‘condemning leukaemia patients to early death’
Many people with leukaemia and other blood cancers are dying early because the system of how drugs are tested is failing them, say scientists.
Patients with more common cancers like breast and bowel cancer are frequently given the opportunity to take part in clinical trials of drugs which have not yet been given official approval. Some of these turn out to be extremely effective.
But experts say a lack of coordination means those with rarer cancers, like different forms of leukaemia and lymphoma, usually miss out on this chance. Trials need to have a critical mass of participants to make them statistically useful, but recruiting enough is difficult for rarer cancers. Of almost 30,000 adults diagnosed with a blood cancer every year, only about 2,000 get to take part in a trial.
This means many “potentially life-saving drugs” are “sitting on the shelf”, according to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, a charity. It is setting up a nationwide network so that more patients can take part in early-stage trials on a host of promising drug candidates. The network, enabled with a £2.3 million investment, will link 13 leading British hospitals, centred on the “hub” of Birmingham University.
Prof Charlie Craddock, director of the Centre for Clinical Haematology in Birmingham, said there was a “moral duty” to test new drugs quickly and, if effective, make them available to patients. He said: “Every doctor will tell you that they are routinely turning down promising new drugs because they don’t have the resources to conduct early stage clinical trials.”
Blood cancers kill 12,000 people a year in Britain, comparable to the numbers who die from breast cancer, but the chances of surviving to five years past diagnosis tend to be much lower.
Dr David Grant, scientific director of the charity, said the paucity of drug treatments meant many old, frail patients were “bombarded” with chemotherapy as it was the only option. “We know that for many patients, that’s a waste of time,” he said.
The hope is that the network will unearth another wonder drug such as Glivec, which has transformed the lives of many people with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Graham Silk, a 51-year-old businessman, managed to secure the last place on a clinical trial for that drug after being diagnosed with CML in 2001. He had been given just three years to live. He has helped fund-raise for the project with Geoff Thomas, the former England footballer, who suffered from the same condition.
Mr Silk said broadening the trails base was essential. “Getting on the clinical trial saved my life and it’s now been 10 years since I was diagnosed, which is time I didn’t think I had,” he said.
British Public report 300 immigration abuses every day
Immigration officials receive 300 reports a day of suspected illegal migrants and other abuses, a watchdog revealed today.
But the way the UK Border Agency handles the intelligence came under intense criticism with official not even able to say whether a call resulted in an arrest.
John Vine, the chief inspector of UKBA, said the picture was “unacceptable” and that intelligence is often focused on hitting targets rather than targeting those organising illegal immigration.
A separate report by the watchdog also revealed that plans to arrest suspected illegal immigrants had to be delayed because of a lack of detention space.
Mr Vine said UKBA received more than 100,000 calls from the public every year – or 2,100 a week – with allegation of immigration abuse. It includes suspected illegal workers, illegal entry and sham marriages. But he said the agency was “unable to identify the proportion of allegations that had resulted in people being prevented from entering the UK, or which had led to enforcement action against people living or working illegally in the UK”.
Frontline staff at the UK’s ports also used different methods to spot suspicious people or vehicles, but had no way of telling which of these best identified potential offences or offenders.
Mr Vine said: “There is a real need for the agency to focus more rigorously on the actual outcome of intelligence. “There is insufficient understanding across the agency of the role that intelligence should play and whether or not it is the driving force for meeting objectives. “The agency should have a clearer idea of how the use of intelligence contributes to preventing and detecting immigration and customs offences.”
A separate report in to the agency’s arrest team in Croydon found four of six operations planned by one of the agency’s 53 arrest teams had to be rescheduled due to a “lack of detention space”. “The remaining four operations were due to be rescheduled when detention space became available,” he said. “However, as intelligence reports are only valid for a period of three weeks, according to agency guidance, there is a risk that this period might be exceeded.
Intelligence checks were also carried out two months before one operation and it was unclear whether they had been rechecked since, the report said. “This lack of a clear audit trail presents an obvious risk; for example, if a person had become known to police after the previous checks, the agency may not be aware of this,” Mr Vine said. “The risks to staff and members of the public of such an oversight are potentially considerable.”
Briefings which contained personal and sensitive information about people suspected of immigration offences were carried out in the street while others failed to note that a potential target was four months pregnant, the inspectors found.
Lord Turnbull: the IPCC is useless
Following yesterday’s story about David Cameron’s depressing plans to bomb the UK economy back to the dark ages and wipe out the British countryside, here’s a wistful reminder of how things might have been if only we weren’t run by imbeciles.
It’s a briefing paper called The Really Inconvenient Truth – or It Ain’t Necessarily So produced for the Global Warming Policy Foundation by Lord Turnbull, the former Cabinet Secretary and head of the Home Civil Service (2002 to 2005). His arguments against unilateral action by Britain to “combat Climate Change” are clear and powerful. In a nutshell, he says: “Don’t let the deeply untrustworthy IPCC decide the fate of the UK economy.”
Lord Turnbull doesn’t mince his words:
The feed-in tariff mechanism is fast becoming a scandal. Those lucky enough to own buildings large enough on which to install solar panels or enough land for a wind farm have been receiving 30-40p per kwh, for electricity, which is retailed at only 11p. The loss is paid for by a levy on businesses and households. It is astonishing that the Liberals who attach such importance to fairness turn a blind eye to this transfer from poor to rich running to œbillions a year. If you live in a council tower block in Lambeth you don’t have much opportunity to get your nose into this trough.
It is regrettable that the UK Parliament has proved so trusting and uncritical of the IPCC narrative, and so reluctant to question the economic costs being imposed in pursuit of decarbonisation. It verges on the unconstitutional that the payments being made under the renewables obligation and feed-in tariffs and the levies being raised to pay for them are routed invisibly through the accounts of the electricity industry rather than being voted in Estimates or the Finance Bill. I am also disappointed that so many of my former colleagues in the Civil Service seem so ready to go along unquestioningly with the consensus.”
You can read the report in full here.
The graph, as explained in the Turnbull report:
How the IPCC’s predictions are increasingly at odds with reality
The figure shows that the linear trend between 1880 and 2000 is a continuation of the recovery from the Little Ice Age (LIA) together with the superposed multi-decadal oscillation. It is assumed that the recovery from the LIA would continue to 2100, together with the superposed multi-decadal oscillation. This view could explain the halting of the warming after 2000. The observed temperature in 2008 is shown by a red dot with a green arrow. It also shows the temperature rise after 2000 predicted by the IPCC. It has been suggested by the IPCC that the thick red line portion was caused mostly by the greenhouse effect, so the IPCC’s future prediction is a sort of extension of the red line. For detail, see Syun-Ichi Akasofu: On the recovery from the Little Ice Age. Natural Science, 2:11 (2010)
Wind power wannabe
Two recent stories about wind power went unremarked in the mainstream media, presumably because the stories don’t fit the dominant Green narrative, aka the Green Dream.
The first is the report out of the UK that wind farms produce far less energy and cause far more problems with the grid than proponents have predicted or acknowledged.
The John Muir Trust – a “conservation charity,” please note – commissioned an engineering study of wind power in the UK. The report is out, and it is revealing. While wind power farms are pitched to investors – really, lawmakers, since wind power only exists because of lavish subsidies from government – as generating, on average, 30% of their maximum output over time, in reality they average only 25%. So wind power delivers about one-sixth less electricity than promised. This is a very significant shortfall. Yet wind power averages less than 20% of capacity most of the time, and a risible 10% about a third of the time.
But there is a more severe problem. Because wind power is so erratic, it needs backup from fossil fuel power plants, and that backup has to be able to shut down quickly when the wind blows hard, or come online quickly when wind farms won’t deliver even their measly 25% power. So wind power farms must be tied very tightly to fossil fuel plants, or the grid will face a shortfall.
Even worse: the times (such as the middle of the night) when power demands on the grid are slight are often the periods when the wind blows hardest. At such times, owners of wind generators – who have to sell power whenever it shows up, even at a low price – push power onto the grid, thereby forcing other providers off.
This is because the grid is just a distribution network of power lines and transformers with little capacity for storing power when it isn’t being consumed. Yes, there is “pumped storage,” which uses excess electricity to get water up hill, then during periods of high demand lets it flow back down, turning turbines as it goes, thus generating power. But pumped storage is inefficient and limited. Currently, the United States, the world leader in pumped storage, can store only about 2.5% of the average electric power sent across the grid at any given time.
A second damaging piece of news for wind power is the report that it may have lost its enchantment even for the Dutch.
Perhaps because of its historic use of windmills, the Netherlands has invested heavily in modern wind power. It is now third in the world in offshore wind power generation – of course heavily subsidized by the government. But the new center-right government has decided that continuing the massive subsidies, which include the transfer of 4.5 billion Euros of Dutch tax dollars to a German engineering company to build and run new wind farms, is not, shall we say, defensible.
The new Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, may have come up with the perfect epitaph for wind power. He reputedly said, “Windmills turn on subsidies.” Soon fewer will be turning.
‘A story from the pre-health and safety generation’: Swallows And Amazons to be adapted for ‘timely’ BBC series
For generations it has been the ultimate boys own adventure – free of the modern chains of health and safety. Now for the first time children’s classic Swallows and Amazons is being adapted for screen by the BBC.
Arthur Ransome’s hugely successful book, which is set in 1929, follows the four Walker children, who while on holiday in the Lake District with their mother, run in to local famliy the Blackett’s.
The children from both families sail in dinghies and meet on an island on Lake Windemere and enjoy a series of adventures, which see them exploring, sailing, camping, and facing piracy.
It is billed as a celebration of a bygone time when children enjoyed more physical freedom and would spend much of their time playing outside and learning about the world through trial and error.
Head of BBC Films, Christine Langan, said the film and the book were the antithesis of today’s health and safety obsessed world. She added: ‘This story is from pre-health and safety generation. Modern parenting is fraught and complicated – worrying about what sort of society we live in. ‘There is a danger we are physically infantilising our children. There is a sense of freedom in the book and a sense of innocence that people perhaps miss. The film is very timely.’
Swallows and Amazons features one of the most famous phrases in children’s literature – but such a phrase could never me uttered by parents today. At the beginning of the book the Walker children write to their father – who is away at sea – to ask whether they can sail and camp on the lake’s island. He agrees with the reply: ‘Better drowned than duffers if duffers won’t drown.’
Executives said the film would remain true to the sentiment of the novel – and so the children will not be shown wearing life-vests.
In his heyday Ransom’s books were hugely popular with thousands of children writing to him pleading for more novels. His style of writing and adventure paved the way for favourites such as Enid Blyton and C.S Lewis. Ransome wrote 11 other books in the series including Peter Duck and Missee Lee, which went on to become bestsellers.
If this film is a success it is understood that more of the books will be adapted for the big screen under the Swallows and Amazons banner.
Miss Langan said that with the culmination of the Harry Potter franchise this summer, she hoped it could help give children something new to capture their imagination. She said: ‘I hope that Swallows and Amazons could draw upon that same audience. It is a very British film but it is universal in that it is about all [the dreams] of all children.
My broken leg healed in half the time… all because I meditated
A very fit man discovers the power of self-hypnosis
Meditation is often touted as a panacea for all manner of ailments, from chronic pain to anxiety, stress and even depression. Like most sensible people, I’d always taken such sweeping claims with a large pinch of salt. However, five years ago I learned the power of meditation for myself after an accident left me critically injured and in constant pain.
A freak gust of wind caught me off-guard as I was paragliding over the Cotswolds. One moment my paraglider was flying normally, the next its wing had collapsed, sending me tumbling into the hillside 30ft below. I was struck with the most agonising pain imaginable. The bone in the lower half of my right leg had been driven up through my knee and into my thigh. I could see the outline of my fractured shin bone sticking through the cloth of my jeans. I went into shock and my body was racked with violent uncontrollable spasms.
As I lay on the hillside, I remembered a form of meditation I’d been taught in the sixth form of my comprehensive school in Neston, Cheshire, as a way of tackling exam nerves. Over the years I’d used it to deal with the usual stresses and strains of daily life, but never in times of physical pain. But I knew that meditation (and self-hypnosis) had been used for pain relief and, as I lay on the hillside, in sheer desperation I tried them both.
I forced myself to breathe slowly and deeply, to focus on the sensations the breath made as it flowed in and out. I pictured myself in a beautiful garden and imagined myself inhaling its peaceful and tranquil air. Gradually, breath by breath, the pain became more distant. It felt less ‘personal’, almost as if I was watching it on TV.
In hospital it became apparent how seriously injured I was — and just how effective a painkiller the meditation had been.
My leg was so badly broken that I would need three major operations. I also needed a newly invented device, a Taylor Spatial Frame, to be surgically attached to my leg for up to 18 months to repair the damage. Consisting of four equally spaced rings that encircled my lower leg, the frame looked like a cross between a Meccano set and a medieval torture device.
Fourteen metal spokes and two bolts connected these rings to the shards of bone inside my leg, and allowed the surgeon to move the fragments around inside.
Life with the frame was intolerable. Sleep was virtually impossible, and the pain was controlled with powerful drugs that left me washed-out and jaded. I felt thoroughly wretched — anxious, irritable and highly stressed. So I decided to find an alternative way of coping with the pain and of maximising my chances of recovery.
I discovered the work of Mark Williams, professor of clinical psychology at Oxford University. He and his colleagues at the universities of Cambridge, Toronto, and Massachusetts had spent 20 years studying the phenomenal power of meditation for treating anxiety and even full-blown depression.
They had turned it into a therapy known as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) that was gaining the support of doctors and scientists. It had even been endorsed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and in Britain by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).
One study, in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, has shown that it brings about long-term changes in levels of happiness and well-being, while a major study in Psychological Science revealed such changes help regular meditators live longer, healthier lives. It’s also been shown to be as effective as drugs for treating depression. In fact, it’s now one of the preferred treatments recommended by Nice.
A typical meditation session consists of focusing on breathing and the sensations it creates. This reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body which, in turn, enhances healing and boosts physical health. It helps partly by teaching you to live in the present moment rather than worrying too much about the past or the future.
Faced with the evidence, I decided to try mindfulness meditation. I began each day with a ten-minute breathing meditation to calm the mind. At bedtime, I would meditate for 30 minutes while visualising a warm, white, healing light sweeping up and down my leg.
This simple meditation programme worked to an astonishing degree. My pain gradually subsided and I slashed my intake of painkillers by two-thirds. I also developed a more contented outlook, seeing my injuries as temporary problems that would gradually subside rather than as limb-threatening ones that might confine me to a wheelchair.
The MBCT is, I’m convinced, why I recovered in double-quick time: the leg frame was removed after just 17 weeks rather than the normal six to 18 months. My progress astonished my doctors. Just after the final operation I joked with my surgeon that maybe my injuries hadn’t been as bad as I’d thought. He looked at me aghast and said: ‘Your leg was in the Top Five leg injuries I’ve treated with a Taylor Spatial Frame — and possibly higher.’
I still meditate for 30 minutes each day. So convinced am I by its benefits that I’ve written a book, with Professor Williams, that teaches mindfulness meditation.
And my recovery continues apace. Two years ago, at the age of 42, I took up running, and I’m currently hiking the 630-mile South West Coast Path in 50-mile sections. Given the severity of my injuries, that’s astonishing.
Custard on pupil’s arm? £750. Fall off classroom chair? £6,000. How ‘compensation culture’ is spreading through British schools
A pupil sued his school for £750 after having hot custard spilt on his arm and another was given more than £6,000 after falling off a chair, a survey has revealed.
Thousands more were paid out in the past two years to children who tripped up on the playground, further showing how a ‘compensation culture’ has spread to the country’s schools.
Payouts were also given to a pupil hit in the eye with a pen and another who tripped over an unmarked ramp, according to statistics provided by councils on Merseyside.
Headteachers have told how the claim culture means schools have to put up warning signs every time it rains, while another said that ‘even the cotton wool we wrap children in is checked beforehand’.
The figures were revealed through a Freedom of Information request which asked councils on Merseyside to show details of every successful compensation claim borough against schools by pupils.
The results shows that more than £50,000 was paid out to pupils’ families in the Liverpool borough of Knowsley between 2008 and 2010.
Successful claims included £750 for a pupil whose arm was burned by spilt custard, £3,000 for a child accidentally kicked in the face and a pupil who tripped over an ‘unmarked ramp’ was given £350.
Other payouts included more than £6,000 for a child who was hit in the eye with a pen and £4,500 to a student who caught their leg on a ‘protruding screw’.
In Wirral, Merseyside, more than £21,000 was paid out for seven incidents during the same period. Payouts in the borough included £6,535 for a pupil injured falling off a chair, £4,000 for a pupil injured on a fence while compensation payments totalling almost £4,000 were made to pupils for tripping up on the playground.
And in Sefton more than £6,000 was paid over the same period for two incidents relating to trips in playgrounds and a pupil falling on broken glass.
Jim Donnelly, headteacher at Litherland High School, Merseyside, said scrutiny on safeguarding, which now forms part of Ofsted inspections, and the threat of compensation meant health and safety was embedded into school life.
Mr Donnelly said: ‘If it starts to rain we would put up a “Be careful, slippery surface” sign up on exit doors because we know insurers would want to know what steps we have taken.’
Steve Peach, headteacher at Wallasey secondary The Oldershaw, said most schools took out insurance cover through the local authority and carried out robust and daily risk assessments. He said: ‘We live in a claim culture and health and safety is now part of every member of staff’s job description. ‘But unless we refuse to allow children to be children nothing is risk free.’
Mick Burrows is Merseyside executive member of teaching union NASUWT, which aims to have specially trained health and safety representatives in every school to monitor accident prevention. He said: ‘Not only would it help protect our members and pupils but bring a reduction in compensation as we’d have fewer accidents in the first place.’
Knowsley Council today stressed the number of claims in the borough had fallen in recent years due to ‘schools accessing health and safety support from the council’s health and safety team.’ This includes advice varying from risk assessments to reporting accidents and safety audits. A spokesman for the authority said: ‘The council also organises an annual health and safety conference for all head teachers.’
But Nick Seaton, secretary of the Campaign For Real Education, said: ‘Schools have an impossible job. Accidents do happen.’