Hundreds of babies dying unnecessarily because hospital staff aren’t trained to use equipment
Hundreds of babies a year are dying because doctors and midwives are not properly trained to use vital monitoring equipment. Technology known as CTG – cardiotocogram tracing – checks an unborn baby’s heart rate for signs of fetal distress. This is caused if the oxygen supply to a baby in the womb is reduced or blocked off. If this happens it can lead to rapid brain damage and death.
Official figures show that 200 baby deaths a year are to a failure to read and act on an abnormal CTG fetal heart reading. But some doctors believe the figure is as high as 500.
Deaths due to errors in reading CTG traces form one of the largest groups of avoidable maternity deaths. Shortages of staff and insufficient training are blamed for many blunders that lead to either death or a baby being born with serious brain damage.
‘An appalling level of care’ led to the death of baby Joshua
Joshua Hicks was just 17-and-a-half hours old when he died at Hull Women And Children’s Hospital. He was born with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck six times.
Staff failed to continuously monitor his heart rate, despite signs it was slowing.
A report by Dr Waterstone instructed by solicitors for Joshua’s parents, said the labour was ‘grossly mismanaged from the outset’ and Mrs Hicks received ‘an appalling level of care’.
Hospital chief executive, Phil Morley, was moved to say: ‘We ought to hang our heads in shame at times that a system as great as the NHS can fail in such a spectacular way.’
Kirsty and Paul Hicks – from Hull – were told Joshua should have been delivered some time between 1.20pm and 3.30pm on November 15, 2006. Instead, he was not delivered until 6pm. Until earlier this year they had never had an apology for the appalling care Kirsty, 31, received.
A series of CTG readings showed the baby in distress, but no action was taken. A forceps delivery was finally performed at 5.36pm and Joshua was delivered in a ‘very poor condition’. The report states there was no blood in the umbilical cord, which was wrapped around his neck six times.
Referring to Mr and Mrs Hicks’ case, Dr Waterstone said: ‘The labour was grossly mismanaged from the outset. ‘All the clinicians, bar none, caring for Mrs Hicks, seemed totally unable to interpret CTG (cardiotocography, which is used to monitor the baby’s heart rate), resulting in a level of care which, in my opinion, can only be described as deplorable.
‘Unfortunately, when in labour, she received an appalling level of care, with every member of staff failing in their duty to correctly interpret and act upon a severely pathological CTG. ‘No reasonably competent obstetrician would have failed to deliver by 3.30pm, at the latest, and probably significantly earlier.’
Professor Chris Lynch a leading expert on avoidable deaths of mothers and babies, said: ‘Sadly lip service is paid to CTG monitoring. ‘People go on courses but they are never properly assessed to see if they have understood what they have been taught.’
According to the National Health Litigation Service (NHLS) compensation to parents of babies damaged by CTG mistakes have soared in recent years. They have risen from £11.8m in 2006 to 85.8 million last year. Many of the mistakes are being made by midwives and hard-pressed junior doctors when experienced consultant cover is thin on the ground.
Mark Waterstone, an obstetrician with an expertise in CTG tracing, said: ‘Under guidelines for maternity units staff have to go on two courses a year but most of the time their knowledge is never checked. ‘At our hospital we test everyone who has been to a seminar on CTG tracing but I know this is not the case in many hospitals. You have to test staff on what they have learned and this practice is not common.’
Mr Waterstone, who works at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, said: ‘I do a lot of medical negligence work regarding failure to read CTG tracing results. ‘There is a massive room for improvement. We are losing dozens of babies and hundreds of others are being left unnecessarily brain damaged. ‘The technology is not 100 per cent accurate but if you don’t understand the basic principles then you will end up with tragic cases of lives ruined or lost.’
Research has revealed that 20 per cent of children who end up with brain damage at birth are damaged due to a failure to intervene to a warning reading delivered by a CTG monitor. The study concluded that 70 per cent of the cases were preventable.
A spokesman for the NHLS said: ‘The number of cases is on the increase. We are working with hospitals to raise awareness of how to interpret CTG readings. ‘A failure to correctly read a heart trace showing a baby in fetal distress leads to a stillbirth or the baby being born with brain damage. The main cause is oxygenated blood supply through the umbilical cord being partially cut off or cut off completely.
Medical negligence lawyer, Tim Slow of Williamsons in Hull sees many cases relating to babies left damaged as a result of not acting on CTG reading. He said: ‘Regrettably, I continue to see a significant number of cases where children have been severely damaged or die, as a result of the failure to correctly interpret a deteriorating CTG trace during labour. ‘The emotional and financial consequences of such errors cannot be over estimated.’
Many of the tragedies happen at nights and weekends when there is not a consultant on duty in maternity departments. Despite Government pledges to increase the number of obstetricians on duty after 5.30 at night the majority of units are still run like offices. Around 60 per cent of hospitals provide consultant cover until 9pm. But not one hospital provides anywhere near 24 hour cover.
Currently there are 150 newly qualified obstetricians and gynaecologists who cannot find a job as a consultant in the NHS.
Professor Lynch, who recently retired from Milton Keynes Hospital in Buckinghamshire said: ‘Because of reduced training opportunities our junior doctors do not have the experience they used to have in the past. ‘Births don’t all happen 9-5 and you need consultants on hand to deal with medical emergencies which often require a rapid response.’
Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action for Victims of Medical Accidents, said: ‘We never seem to make much progress with CTG failures. ‘This problem has been around for years. Hundreds and hundreds of children have either been damaged or killed due to an inability to spot the warning signs of a baby in distress. I wonder if the NHS will ever learn.’
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘We are working with professional bodies as we know that ongoing education and training is vital to keeping standards high and the workforce must be kept up-to-date.’
Amusing furore: Psychology Today Apologizes for ‘Black Women Less Attractive’ Post
The data must say what we want it to say, apparently. This is an old, old story in the social sciences. If you don’t like a set of findings, you can always criticize the study in some way. Nothing can be proved finally. Only intellectual honesty can lead to a conclusion that a finding is most probably correct. And intellectual honesty will go down to political correctness almost always
The disgrace in this case is that the furore was motivated by the desirability of the conclusions, not by the facts presented. The reality that successful black men like Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson chose white lovers must not be mentioned, of course
Earlier this month, the popular magazine Psychology Today published an article by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa titled “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” that was met, expectedly, with mass outrage. The article used data based on another study to make several claims such as “black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women” yet “subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.”
After some attempted editing of the title, the magazine retracted the post from its website in its entirety. Kanazawa in turn is facing an investigation by the London School of Economics, where he is a professor, after a unanimous vote for his dismissal by the student union.
Contributing writers to Psychology Today moved quickly to do some damage control. Dr. Kaufman, in his blog for the magazine “Beautiful Minds,” wrote a post re-analyzing Kanazawa’s data.
We retrieved the data from Add Health on which Satoshi Kanazawa based his conclusions to see whether his results hold up to scrutiny… Kanazawa mentions several times that his data on attractiveness are scored “objectively”… [However] the low convergence of ratings finding suggests that in this very large and representative dataset, beauty is mostly in the eye of the beholder.
Because raters differ strongly in terms of how they rate… this source of variation needs to be taken into account when testing for average race differences in ratings of attractiveness. Kanazawa does not indicate that he did so.
Moreover, Kaufman noted that “the majority of [Kanazawa’s] data were based on the ratings of attractiveness of the participants when they were teenagers.” When the data was stratified based on age, he concluded that “as adults, Black Women in North America are not rated less attractive by interviewers of the Add health study.”
In another post on magazine’s website, Dr. Stanton Peele leveled his criticism at the field of evolutionary psychology as a whole.
[T]he logic underlying [Kanazawa’s] racism is exactly that which drives the field — i.e., there are biological imperatives that determine social behavior, attitudes, and undeniable human reality… [But] the only inevitabilities are (a) in Kanazwa’s head and (b) ev psych’s fantasy version of the human species as the end result of a deterministic evolutionary process that makes people think and act in the ways they say people must — that is, according to their own preferred prejudices (like Kanazawa’s ideal woman — who is NOT African-American!).
However, many were still waiting for a direct response from the magazine, who, according to Stanton, “is probably the most popular PT blogger.” Considering the level of outrage, the apology was some time coming. Kaja Perina, the Editor-in-Chief, issued the following statement on Friday:
Last week, a blog post about race and appearance by Satoshi Kanazawa was published–and promptly removed–from this site. We deeply apologize for the pain and offense that this post caused. Psychology Today’s mission is to inform the public, not to provide a platform for inflammatory and offensive material. Psychology Today does not tolerate racism or prejudice of any sort. The post was not approved by Psychology Today, but we take full responsibility for its publication on our site. We have taken measures to ensure that such an incident does not occur again. Again, we are deeply sorry for the hurt that this post caused.
However, there was no word on whether the magazine will continue to publish articles by Kanazawa. He has not published on entry on his blog since the one removed, although there is no indication that the blog will be terminated.
SOURCE. (Dr Satoshi Kanazawa is an “evolutionary psychologist” at the London School of Economics)
Two thirds of British serial criminals dodge jail: Thousands with 15 convictions or more ‘let off’ with fines or community service
Nearly two thirds of criminals avoid jail despite amassing at least 15 convictions, shocking figures show. Instead of being put behind bars, more than 62,000 offenders were given lesser punishments, such as community service or a fine, last year.
More than 4,000 walked out of court with only a caution. The figures reveal that serial offenders are less likely to be given a jail sentence today than at any time in the past decade.
And they further raise concerns that career criminals, including drug dealers and burglars, are getting only a ‘slap on the wrist’.
Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘Many of my constituents are losing faith in the criminal justice system because – as these figures show – even when people have become habitual offenders they are not actually brought to justice. ‘The criminal justice system simply doesn’t administer what my constituents regard as justice.
‘If the Government wants to claim to be a government that puts victims and the law-abiding first, it urgently and desperately needs to take action on this.’
The figures showed a total of 96,710 criminals sentenced last year for more serious ‘indictable’ offences had 15 or more previous crimes against their name. They included violent muggers, burglars and drug dealers.
Of those, only 36 per cent – around 34,600 offenders – were given immediate custody. That means around 62,100 were given other sentences.
Of that total, 8,200 were given suspended sentences, leaving them on the streets unless they committed other crimes. More than one in five were handed community service and 16 per cent – around 15,000 offenders – were fined. One in ten was given a conditional discharge.
The figures also showed that 4,340 criminals were given a caution for their most recent offence despite 15 or more previous offences. In 2004, the custody rate for offenders after 15 or more crimes was 42 per cent.
Blair Gibbs, head of crime and justice at the Policy Exchange think-tank, said: ‘Most people would expect a serial offender with over a dozen previous convictions to be sent to prison, if only to protect the public and give communities some respite.
‘We need to cut reoffending rates but we also need to protect the public by ensuring that those prolific offenders who keep committing crime are locked up.
‘Over the last decade, sentences got longer in law but shorter in practice and more repeat offenders were diverted on to ineffective community sentences instead of going to prison.’
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke wants to cut the number of prison places by 3,000 over the next four years, to save millions from the justice budget. But he has faced a backlash from right-wing Tories concerned about the party’s reputation on law and order.
Ministers have faced criticism for cuts to policing and criminal justice of 20 per cent or more, while aid spending is increased.
But Mr Clarke has insisted cuts are necessary and has pledged to toughen up community sentences. He also wants to start a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ in prisons to turn offenders away from crime. Currently three out of four offenders return to crime within nine years.
Mr Clarke will use private and charity groups, paid by results, in an effort to stop the ‘revolving door’ justice system.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘We are clear that the justice system will continue to protect the public by locking up serious and dangerous criminals. ‘Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for our independent courts, as only they have the full facts in front of them.
‘These statistics highlight that the number of criminals committing multiple crimes has nearly doubled in the last decade. This underlines why it is so important to focus on taking a new approach specifically designed to tackle reoffending, and so cut crime.
‘The consultation on our proposals for doing this has closed and we will be publishing our final response shortly.’
‘Bradford is very inbred’: Muslim outrage as British professor warns first-cousin marriages increase risk of birth defects
Inbreeding among British Muslims is threatening the health of their children, a leading geneticist warned yesterday. Professor Steve Jones, from University College London, said the common practice in Islamic communities for cousins to marry each other increased the risk of birth defects.
‘There may be some evidence that cousins marrying one another can be harmful,’ he told an audience at the Hay Festival. ‘We should be concerned about that as there can be a lot of hidden genetic damage. Children are much more likely to get two copies of a damaged gene. ‘Bradford is very inbred. There is a huge amount of cousins marrying each other there.’
Studies have shown that 55 per cent of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins – and in Bradford, this rises to 75 per cent. Other research has found that children of first cousins are ten times more likely to have recessive genetic disorders and face deafness, blindness and infant mortality.
But Prof Jones’s comments provoked anger among some Muslim groups yesterday. Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, which promotes the image of Muslims in Britain, said: ‘I know many Muslims who have married their cousins and none of them have had a problem with their children.
‘Obviously, we don’t want any children to be born disabled who don’t need to be born disabled, so I would advise genetic screening before first cousins marry. ‘But I find Steve Jones’s comments unworthy of a professor. Using language like “inbreeding” to describe cousins marrying is completely inappropriate and further demonises Muslims.’
Concern about the risks to children from first-cousin marriage has been described as the last great taboo.
Former environment minister Phil Woolas was rebuked by Downing Street in 2008 for saying British Pakistanis are fuelling rates of birth defects by marrying their cousins, with the spokesman for then prime minister Gordon Brown saying the issue was not one for ministers to comment on.
Mohammed Saleem Khan, chief executive of the Bradford Council for Mosques, said: ‘It is important to discuss these issues, but I just do not know of any firm evidence backing up Professor Jones’s claims. I think we need more conclusive studies so we can know for certain if there is any genuine risk.
‘Marriages between cousins is certainly common within south Asia, but it is becoming less so in Britain and also in Bradford. Islam allows you to marry anyone you want, so in many ways Islam promotes diversity.’
In his talk, Prof Jones said inbreeding was not confined to Muslims, and historically had occurred in every part of society, including the royal family. He said: ‘We are all more incestuous than we realise. In Northern Ireland lots of people share the same surname, which suggests a high level of inbreeding.
‘There’s a lot of surname diversity in London but if you look at the Outer Hebrides there are rather fewer surnames in relation to the number of people.’
British parents are choosing smaller preparatory schools
There’s not a trace of Hogwarts about Belhaven Hill, a small boarding prep school on the East Lothian coast, which is exactly the way headmaster Innes MacAskill likes it. The house itself looks and feels like a large family home, and at weekends MacAskill and his wife, Sandy, take a bunch of boarders down to the local supermarket to buy ingredients for the “come dine with the headmaster” contest.
The traditional values and homely atmospheres of small prep schools such as Belhaven seem to appeal to the post-credit crisis generation of parents. While the recession has prompted a fall in pupil numbers across the independent sector as a whole, Belhaven has grown by 5 per cent over the past year – to a grand total of 118 pupils. Figures from the Independent Schools Council show that almost 75 per cent of its 154 small prep schools are either maintaining their numbers or expanding.
In terms of fees, the ISC’s small prep schools (with a maximum of close to 150 pupils) are cheaper than their larger counterparts. Average day pupil fees at an ISC small prep school total just over £2,700 per term compared to £3,464 at a larger ISC prep school (with an average of just under 300 pupils).
But according to Henry Knight, headmaster of Woodcote House School in Surrey, which has 100 pupils, parents feel they’re getting even more value for money from the individually tailored approach offered by smaller prep schools, than from the one-size-fits-all style of larger establishments. His school has grown by more than 10 per cent in two years. “We know every boy, and understand exactly what it is that makes them tick,” he says.
Marcus Peel, who heads Malsis School in Yorkshire, which has 120 pupils and is maintaining numbers, believes that smaller prep schools offer more opportunities for pupils to participate. “In a small community such as ours everybody is somebody,” he says. “There are boys in our 1st XV who would never get near a first team in a bigger prep school and it’s the same for musicals and theatrical events.”
Mark Pyper, until recently headmaster of Gordonstoun in Moray, Scotland and himself an alumnus of a small prep school, observes that the quality of individual pastoral care is generally better at smaller, more intimate schools. “The experience of personal development in a family-type environment is something which the small prep school is uniquely placed to offer,” he says.
But if you want your child to go to a top ranking senior school, should you not be considering a larger, high-flying prep school? Richard Brown, headmaster of Dorset House, prep school in West Sussex, whose pupils go on to, among others, Winchester, Harrow and Wellington, insists that size has little impact on the quality of education. “There is no lack of rigour in a small school,” he says. “Results can be attained much more effectively when children are happy. It is about inclusivity, partnership and preparing children for today’s challenges – not wrapping them in cotton wool.”
Leadership is an intrinsic part of life in a small prep school, according to Knight, and this sets pupils up for the rough and tumble of senior school. “Everyone will be given the chance to lead at some level,” he says. “Not just as prefects and sports captains but also as tuck, chapel and dormitory monitors.” At Hanford School, a full-boarding establishment for 100 girls in rural Dorset, there are four committees of sixth formers who carry out roles around the school and look after homesick juniors.
Barnaby Lenon, headmaster of Harrow School in North West London, notes that smaller schools instil a sense of duty and self-confidence: “We find that boys from small schools have an ingrained confidence and sense of responsibility which comes from having had leadership roles at prep school,” he says.
The down side of a smaller prep school is usually the facilities – or lack of them. There’s a good chance the sports centre and theatre will be less sophisticated than at a larger prep school. But Richard Brown, whose school has grown by 12 per cent this year to 144 pupils, believes the smaller schools make up for this by offering an “authentic” childhood experience instead. “Small prep schools provide an antidote to a world where children grow up too quickly,” he says.
Malsis School is dotted with dens, with trees to climb and a stream to dam, while Hanford School has ponies, dogs, cats, chickens and large kitchen gardens. In summer children are taken riding through the countryside by “galloping matrons” before jumping into a (chilly) outdoor swimming pool.
Tom Dawson, headmaster of the 100-place Sunningdale School in Berkshire, which featured in a BBC Two documentary last autumn and has grown by 10 per cent this year, believes that flashy facilities can be a red herring. “If parents want a £5 million sports hall and a 50 metre pool, bedrooms with en suite facilities and plasma screens then they will go to a big school which can offer all that,” he says. “But if they want a school where every member of staff really knows all the children, where there is a real family atmosphere, where they won’t be lost in a crowd, then they will choose a small school.”
The true successors of Mussolini, Lenin and Pol Pot leave their predecessors in the shade: “Climate change demands we re-engineer the world economy now”
As an alarm call, the surge in emissions revealed by the International Energy Association is deafening. After the banking crisis of 2008, the cooling of the global economy had appeared to have given our wheezing, warming world pause for breath.
As GDP went into reverse, so did energy use and the pumping of planet-heating gases into the atmosphere. Attempts to agree global action went into reverse at the same time, despite the 120 heads of state who burned the midnight oil in Copenhagen in 2009.
But while the global economy has roared back to life, the UN’s negotiations remain on life support, and with little hope of recovery.
Two truths emerge from this mismatch. First, the link between economic growth and carbon dioxide must be broken. The world’s economy runs on energy, and while most of that power continues to comes from coal, oil and gas, global GDP and carbon emissions will be bound together in lockstep. The latest data show a near perfect correlation, and that shows how little impact, in a worldwide context, renewable and nuclear power is making.
Second, the rich industrialised world and the poor developing world must align their hopes and fears: they inhabit the same planet. All nations are united in understanding that unchecked climate change poses a grave threat in every part of the world.
Citizens in London, New York and Tokyo have grown rich from a century or more of fossil-fuelled industrialisation. They have the most wealth to lose and are, with notable exceptions, the keenest to cut carbon fast. But for those in Delhi, Rio and Beijing, where economic growth surges onwards, the improvement of living standards, from electricity to education, is even more pressing than reducing emissions.
Blah, blah, blah
More HERE (From “The Guardian”)
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up — on his usual vastly “incorrect” themes of race, genes, IQ etc.