Surgeon sues her GP over cancer that was missed four times
A young surgeon is suing her former GP and hospital trust after her breast cancer was missed four times. Becky Morton, 31, was dismissed as too young to have cancer after finding a lump in her breast in 2008.
When she was finally diagnosed just after her 29th birthday, scans revealed three lumps in her breast and showed cancer had spread to her liver and spine. She was given just 18 months to live.
After moving from Oxford to the Isle of Wight, she was then denied life-prolonging treatment under the NHS ‘postcode lottery’. When her plight was revealed in the Daily Mail, members of the public and a wealthy donor came forward within days to fund part of the treatment, which is freely available from 40 other trusts in the country.
Now Dr Morton has decided to pursue Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust and her former GP Adrian Tipper for clinical negligence. ‘One of the main reasons was to make sure it never happens to anyone else again,’ said Dr Morton. ‘It’s preventable – that’s what’s sad. ‘If it had been caught earlier, I would have had six months of chemotherapy and been back at work within a year.’
The trainee surgeon found a lump in her left breast in April 2008 while living in Oxford, but was told to wait a month because her age meant it was more likely to be a cyst. She returned twice to Dr Tipper and was referred to a cancer clinic, where she claims doctors failed to carry out the appropriate tests.
Her illness was discovered after she spoke to a cancer care nurse at the hospital where she worked in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
Dr Morton said: ‘If [taking legal action] can change policies and make doctors more cautious or aware, or prevents one person from being misdiagnosed – if it saves one life – it will be worth it. ‘It has been horrific. No one should have to go through what I had to.’
Dr Morton beat the breast cancer after undergoing a mastectomy and gruelling chemotherapy. But after moving back to the Isle of Wight, NHS chiefs refused to pay £23,000 for her to undergo Selective Internal Radiation Therapy to shrink the tumours on her liver.
Facing uproar after the Mail highlighted the case, the NHS trust backed down and the tumours on Dr Morton’s liver are now stable. She is hoping to take part in a bone-cancer trial after the growth of tumours on her spine and pelvis.
Britain soft on rape: How 200 sex attackers were let off with just a caution
Shocking new figures released today revealed that over the past five years almost 200 rapists have escaped with just a caution.
The startling statistics, disclosed by 14 police forces in response to Freedom of Information requests, show one in 100 rape arrests resulted in a slap on the wrist. Figures showed that 198 people arrested on suspicion or rape between 2006 and 2010 admitted the offence but only received a caution. The revelations come just days after Ken Clarke’s gaffe that some rapes are less serious than others.
One of the most shocking cases involved a caution given to a rapist who admitted abusing a girl under the age of 13 in Gwent, Wales, in 2008. A further 12,842 rape claims – or 65 per cent of arrests – were not taken any further by police in the same period because of a lack of evidence.
Davina James-Hanman, 44, director of Against Violence and Abuse, today described the findings as ‘shocking’. She said: ‘The problem is not getting a conviction in court – it is getting the case out of the police station. ‘Using cautions can be appropriate at times for example if a woman is completely crushed and you have only been able to get a short statement from her to use in court. ‘It is shocking to think of how many rapists are just given cautions. But at least it will remain on their record if they reoffend.
‘The worst thing is that many rapists who accept a caution would plead not guilty if they were taken to court because they know they will be able to get off. ‘There is always a suggestion of bad character about the woman. There is no other crime where people ask about what the victim had done to cause it. ‘If you forgot to lock your car people are still sympathetic if it gets broken into. That is not how people treat rape victims.’
Catherine Briddick, Senior Legal Officer at Rights of Women, said a caution for rape would ‘rarely be appropriate.’ She said: ‘If someone has accepted a caution then they have accepted criminal responsibility for an incredibly serious offence. ‘Giving a caution for a serious sexual offence would rarely be appropriate and when making this decision it is vital that the informed views of the survivor are taken into consideration. ‘Works needs to be done to reduce the number of cases that are dropped at the investigative stage of rape case.’
Fourteen of Britain’s 52 police forces released rape figures following a Freedom of Information request. In a five year period between 2006 and 2010 a total of 198 people who admitted rape walked free with just a caution.
In total there were 19,806 arrests on suspicion of rape in the 14 forces from January 2006 to December 2010. But police released 12,842 suspects without charge – a staggering 65 per cent of all rape arrests.
While many would have been innocent or mistakenly accused some cases are not taken to prosecution due to lack or insufficient evidence.
‘It is the court’s duty to protect vulnerable women’: Judge takes on British government as he jails rapist for 16 years
A senior crown court judge yesterday launched a veiled attack on Kenneth Clarke’s controversial plans to halve jail terms for rapists who plead guilty early. Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC appeared to accuse the Justice Secretary of ignoring the ordeal suffered by the victims as he jailed a rapist for 16 years.
The judge told Bradford Crown Court: ‘When others comment on these cases the need to protect vulnerable women who have been grievously affected by these crimes is sadly forgotten.’ The courts must treat these ‘grave and destructive offences’ with the utmost seriousness, he added.
In a further swipe at Mr Clarke, he said he had to be careful not to use language which could deter complainants or undermine the efforts made to try such horrendous crimes.
The judge’s comments came at the end of a terrible week for Mr Clarke. He was forced to apologise unequivocally after suggesting during a radio phone-in that not all rapes were ‘serious’. The minister said he had ‘phrased it very, very badly’.
Sources now claim that his plans to increase sentence cuts from 33 per cent to 50 per cent for offenders who spare their victims the ordeal of testifying by pleading guilty early will be shelved.
But Mr Clarke’s apology did not appear to have appeased Judge Durham Hall, who spoke out whilst sentencing 29-year-old rapist Paul Lupton. Passing the 16-year sentence for Lupton’s attack on a 19-year-old stranger, the judge said: ‘The public will understand, I hope, that a life sentence is reserved for the most clear cases of extreme danger.
‘There is an alternative…that permits me properly to address the danger you present as well as to punish and send the clearest message to the public that the courts treat with the utmost seriousness this grave and destructive offence.’
The court was told how Lupton, of Bradford, violently raped a vulnerable girl in a dark alleyway while high on butane gas. Branding him ‘a dangerous offender’, Judge Durham Hall ordered him to spend at least eight years behind bars before he is eligible for release. He will then be released under close supervision on a ‘rigorous’ extended eight-year licence period.
Lupton’s victim was detained in hospital for psychiatric treatment for weeks after her harrowing ordeal, the court heard. Asked what she thought of Mr Clarke’s comments, she said: ‘All rape is serious rape regardless of the circumstances.’
The judge ordered Lupton, who pleaded guilty, to remain on the sex offenders’ register for life. He will also be subject to an indefinite sexual offences prevention order.
Creationism banned from British free schools
If science needs protection from creationist ideas, that does not say much for science
Creationism, intelligent design and other theories that contradict evolution are to be banned from being taught as science in free schools. Critics have warned that evangelical groups will be able to teach such ideas without interference, as free schools will not have to follow the national curriculum.
But now the Department for Children, Education and Schools has issued guidance explicitly stating that teaching such theories as science will not be allowed. The “minimum requirements” guidance, published earlier this week, reads: “Creationism, intelligent design and similar ideas must not be taught as valid scientific theories.”
The guidance is to help those assessing applications for free schools. More than 300 groups have already applied to set up free schools, including one by the Everyday Champions Church in Newark, Notts., which wants to include creationism as part of the national curriculum.
In January Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said applications from creationist groups would be considered on a case-by-case basis. That prompted a letter from the British Centre for Science Education (BCSE), which warned that creationists intended to use free schools to launch a “concerted attack” on science education.
In March the DfE said Mr Gove was “crystal clear that teaching creationism is at odds with scientific fact”. Nonetheless, speculation continued that creationism would be allowed, as no guidance was issued on the subject.
A DfE spokesman said on Friday that Mr Gove “will not accept any academy or free school proposal which plans to teach creationism in the science curriculum or as an alternative to accepted scientific theories”. The spokesman said such ideas could be legitimately discussed as beliefs in religious education classes, but not taught as science.
Roger Stanyard from the BCSE – which describes itself as “the leading anti-creationist organisation in Europe” – said it was “largely happy” at the DfE’s stance. However, he said: “It depends how it is implemented. People will always find ways around the rules.”
Pastor Gareth Morgan, leader of the Everyday Champions Church, said the guidance would have no impact on their plans to open a secondary school for 652 pupils in Newark. They submitted the application in January. He said: “We have no intention of teaching creationism in the science curriculum. It will be taught in RE.
“It is very very clear, and has been from the start, that teaching creationism as science will not be allowed. “We must be happy with that, or otherwise we would not have bothered submitting the proposal.”
Must not praise referees!
Sir Alex Ferguson has spent much of the past 25 years getting in trouble with soccer authorities, but his latest brush with officialdom may be the most bizarre of his career.
The Manchester United boss has had a love/hate relationship with English Premier League referees for as long as anyone can remember. However, was this episode love or hate? Ferguson was handed a formal warning Tuesday for breaking with the habit of a lifetime and praising a leading ref.
Before United’s 2-1 victory over Chelsea on May 8, a result which all but guaranteed that the Red Devils would regain the EPL title, Ferguson spoke extensively and positively about the abilities of official Howard Webb.
“We are getting the best referee, there is no doubt about that,” Ferguson said. “But getting a bad decision is definitely our big fear. We just hope it is our turn for a bit of luck.”
The commission ruled that Ferguson had breached regulations by speaking about Webb, even in a positive sense, before an important match – an action that is frowned upon for fear it could pressure the man in the middle.