Baby boy dies from cold sore virus days after midwife says head blisters are nothing to worry about
A newborn baby has died after picking up a common cold sore virus.
Louise Foster, 20, and partner Danny Harvey, 21, were delighted when their first baby Riley was born on May 8. When he was just three days old his mother noticed some blisters on the back of his head and was told they were probably caused by the suction equipment used during the delivery.
Mr Harvey said: ‘I was so chuffed when Riley was born, he was brilliant. He looked like us and had thick black hair. ‘The only thing we were concerned about was his breathing and the little blisters but the midwife reassured us it was all fine so we stopped worrying.’
But tragically when Riley was just nine days old he was having a feed when he went limp and stopped breathing in his mother’s arms.
Mr Harvey, a delivery driver, said: ‘She turned round and said he’s stopped breathing. I checked him and I couldn’t find a pulse. ‘It’s the worst thing I’ve ever had to go through.’
The new parents, from Clacton in Essex, gave their son the kiss of life until paramedics arrived and whisked him to hospital in an ambulance. Miss Foster said: ‘They were trying to breathe for him but there was no oxygen in his blood. That’s when they stopped. It was devastating, just horrible.’
Tests later revealed Riley had the herpes simplex 1 virus – which is the cause of cold sores. It attacked his heart, liver and lungs. It is thought he picked up the virus just days after he was born. The virus is rare in newborn babies and affects one in only 10,000 in the UK.
Riley’s parents hope their tragedy will help others spot symptoms of the virus so it can be treated before it turns fatal. Miss Foster said: ‘Six babies a year die of the infection but that’s six too many.’
Millions of medical records lost by the NHS
Millions of personal medical records have been lost by NHS trusts and hospitals, in the latest of a long series of data breaches which include staff losing laptops and memory sticks, and in one case faxing details of patients’ operations to the wrong number.
The Information Commissioner will impose fines of up to £500,000 on hard-pressed NHS trusts and hospitals in order to counter what he called a “disturbing” culture in the health service.
Millions of individual records are believed to have been lost and the Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has called a meeting with the chief executive of the National Health Service Sir David Nicholson to discuss the problem.
“There’s just too much of this stuff going on,” Mr Graham told The Independent. “The senior management is aware of the challenge but the breaches continue. Whether it’s a systemic problem in the NHS or an epidemic we have got to do something about it.
“Health service workers look after their patients very carefully but don’t always look after their data very carefully.”
Mr Graham warned of the dangers posed by a market in unlawfully obtained personal data that was being fed by tabloid journalists, the insurance industry, lawyers acting in divorce and child custody cases, and people looking for vulnerable individuals to target in scams.
He called for an increase in the penalties imposed in such cases, brought under section 55 of the Data Protection Act. “It’s a much wider problem and we do need some tougher penalties because the courts don’t seem to regard it as a terribly serious offence.”
The commissioner spoke out as he announced that five more health organisations had agreed to undertakings to improve security after being found to have committed major breaches of data protection. In February, Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust misplaced 29 records after a member of staff took them home to update a training log and then lost them. In the same month, a medical practice in Durham sent out details of patients’ operations to the wrong fax number. Other breaches were recently committed by East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Basildon and Thurrock NHS Trust.
The Information Commissioner is investigating how the NHS North Central London Trust managed to lose a laptop containing an estimated 8.3m patient records. It also recently emerged that thousands of notes belonging to cancer patients have gone missing from the abandoned Belvoir Park hospital in Belfast, which closed in 2006.
“It could either be deeply embarrassing and upsetting to people who are not well,” said the commissioner. “But also it’s a source of personal information which can be abused for all sorts of purposes about identify theft, blackmail or whatever. There’s a market in the unlawful disclosure of personal information that’s supposed to be protected by the Data Protection Act.”
He cited a recent case in Bury where information on accident victims was being provided to a claims management company. “It’s all too easy for information to be blagged from the doctor’s surgery. You can ring up, pretend to be somebody else and you are not very often challenged by the questions you would face if you were ringing up your bank. You don’t have to prove who you are.”
The Labour MP Chris Bryant warned last night that rogue private investigators might seek to obtain personal medical information for sale to the tabloid media. “One of the first things they seek to do is get hold of medical records, whether somebody has had treatment for depression, whether somebody has had drug or alcohol dependency, whether they have had an abortion or their HIV status, that’s the kind of things the tabloids make their money out of and it’s really important that hospitals and GPs and anybody in the health service is really tight on all this data.”
Mr Graham has written to Sir David to warn him that a period of reform in the NHS represented a “moment of maximum risk” of further data breaches.
From human rights to the EU, the tide’s turning against the liberal thought police
By Melanie Phillips
Might the tectonic plates of British politics be beginning to shift just a fraction towards a state approximating to reality?
The Home Office is shortly to publish a discussion paper about rethinking one section of human rights legislation. This is Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the ‘right to family life’.
Increasingly, it is being used by foreign criminals and illegal immigrants to dodge deportation by claiming they have the right to family life in the UK.
But other parts of human rights legislation cause just as much trouble — such as Article 3, which bans inhuman treatment, and which has been similarly used to paralyse deportations of undesirables.
To bring to an end the grotesque carnival of injustice and erosion of Britain’s security caused by human rights law, Britain would have to leave the Human Rights Convention altogether, or at the very least officially derogate from whole sections of the treaty.
But the Government has so far been extremely reluctant to embark on either course, due to the likely political and legal repercussions.
Human rights law is not the only issue on which it has been reluctant to face up to necessary hard choices and where the ground seems to be shifting rapidly.
Scarcely a day passes without some fresh and outrageous imposition upon Britain by the EU: a rise in its budget forcing Britain to cough up another £1.4 billion each year; threats to the hard-won British rebate; yet more invidious and crippling taxes.
And all this on top of the steady erosion of British self-government by the unceasing tsunami of European laws, rules and regulations.
Such is the mayhem being caused by human rights law and the EU that something rather significant is happening to British political life. Views hitherto derided as extreme and beyond the pale are becoming mainstream.
Only recently Lady Hale, a justice of the Supreme Court usually associated with overwhelmingly ‘progressive’ views, warned that the increasingly pervasive use of Britain’s Human Rights Act should be reined in. She also suggested that European human rights judges may have got it wrong by ruling that prisoners should have the right to vote. When an ultra-liberal such as Lady Hale voices such sentiments, it’s time to man the lifeboats!
Similarly, the view that Britain should leave the EU — once derided as the wittering of swivel-eyed, Little Englander fanatics — is being voiced by well beyond the usual suspects. Reportedly, two of David Cameron’s arch party ‘modernisers’, policy guru Steve Hilton and Policy Minister Oliver Letwin, say they think Britain should get out of the EU. And an ever-swelling number of Tory MPs appear to agree.
It is far too premature to say that the Prime Minister would even agree to derogating from the Human Rights Convention, let alone taking the far more explosive and separate step of leaving the EU.
Nevertheless, it is remarkable that, at the very least, it is becoming possible to have a debate about these propositions. For the terrible fact is that, until now, such a debate has been impossible because the Left-wing intelligentsia has ruthlessly shut it down.
This is true of a wide range of issues — such as immigration, multiculturalism, man-made global warming, equality and anti-discrimination laws, overseas aid and many more — on which only one viewpoint is permitted.
This has created a hidden iceberg of issues where the views of the people are not only ignored, but scorned as extreme or bigoted — and those who express them are accordingly deemed to be beyond the pale.
The results have been chilling. The equality agenda has deprived people with traditionalist religious views of the freedom to live according to their precepts.
Worse still, adherents of the ‘one view’ agenda lose their ability to tell right from wrong and truth from lies — and so end up justifying their own wrongdoing as a moral act.
This was vividly illustrated by the scandal over the leaked emails from the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, which revealed that prominent proponents of man-made global warming theory had tried to suppress the evidence that the world was getting cooler rather than warmer.
What was so remarkable was that they did so because they believed unshakeably that any challenge to their own viewpoint was simply impossible. So faced with evidence that actually busted their theory wide open, they felt morally justified in manipulating the data to shore up their own agenda.
The point about the Left-wingers who police and thus control our public debate is this: they believe above all else that they alone occupy the moral high ground. They thus divide the world into good and bad. Only their own view is to be permitted; any dissent is by definition evil.
So all dissenters are Right-wing, all Right-wingers are evil and all who oppose the liberal consensus are therefore evil Right-wingers who must be damned as beyond the pale.
This is, of course, a totally closed thought process, similar to the totalitarian tyrannies imposed by the medieval Church or Stalinism. Yet this monstrous repudiation of reason has effectively hijacked public debate. So how on earth can this have happened to Britain? In brief, it has been caused by a number of factors.
There was the onslaught by secularism upon Christianity and the moral codes of the Hebrew Bible.
There was the demoralisation of the political and intellectual elites after World War II, caused by the near bankruptcy of Britain and the end of Empire.
There was the resulting loss of belief in the nation. And so the elites were vulnerable to the ultra-Left ‘long march through the institutions’ that aimed to capture the citadels of the culture and turn all its values upside-down and inside-out.
The outcome was that Britain’s whole centre of political gravity shifted, as what was formerly considered ultra- Left thinking became deemed mainstream while what was formerly mainstream was labelled ‘Right-wing’. You have only to listen to BBC group- think to realise how completely all this has been achieved.
One result is that language itself has been hijacked. Words such as ‘rights’, ‘justice’, ‘tolerance’, ‘liberal’ and ‘centre ground’ have come to mean their precise opposite.
And argument has been replaced by gratuitous abuse and insults, such as ‘institutionally racist’, ‘homophobic’, ‘fundamentalist’, ‘extremist’ or ‘mad’.
There is, of course, nothing remotely extreme or bigoted about wanting your country to govern itself, or for the justice system to protect people against wrong-doers, or for your country to uphold its ancient traditions and laws. On the contrary, these are all main- stream aspirations that have been denied systematically.
We are, in short, living through a terrifying erosion of freedom of expression and dissent of any kind, and an attack on thought and reason itself.
If ever there was an agenda for which conservatism was fitted, then dealing with all this is surely it. Conservatives spent much of the last century fighting off Soviet-style communism. But this bastard child of that creed is even more dangerous because it has undermined us from within.
The great task of politics is to reclaim politics for the long-suffering mainstream voters who find themselves disenfranchised.
Unfortunately, the Conservative Party has gone in the opposite direction, choosing instead to plant its standard on that Left-wing terrain masquerading as the centre ground.
The Government cannot deal with issues such as the EU or human rights law unless it addresses head-on this hijacking of language, morality and politics that threatens to engulf Britain and the west.
The prize would be great indeed for the politician who meets this, the supreme civilisational challenge of our times.
UK jobless have lost the work ethic, says Iain Duncan Smith report
Why work when the welfare state says you don’t have to?
Jobless Britons have lost their work ethic, forcing bosses to employ migrants with a more conscientious attitude, a report has concluded. The study, by the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, set up by Iain Duncan Smith, also called for a fourth ‘R’ – responsibility – to be added to schools’ traditional core subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic.
Mr Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, last week issued a plea for firms to take on more Britons, only for employers to say domestic labour lacked the work ethic of migrant workers.
Now his think-tank has supported that view, finding that, increasingly, bosses are unable to find reliable candidates among the British long-term unemployed – with two thirds saying they have turned down applicants for unskilled jobs because of a poor attitude. Employers, it concluded, see a good attitude to work and punctuality as more important than skills such as literacy and numeracy in securing a job.
Increasingly, they have been forced to turn to overseas workers, who are preferred because of their ‘motivation, capacity for hard work and ability to turn up for work on time’.
A survey carried out by the think-tank found that an overwhelming 82 per cent of employers rated attitude and work ethic as important when recruiting for ‘entry-level’ posts, compared to just 38 per cent who named literacy and numeracy.
Asked why they turned down applicants for unskilled jobs in sectors such as catering, manufacturing and retailing, some 62 per cent of employers cited ‘poor work attitude and ethic’ and 57 per cent ‘poor presentation’, compared with just 29 per cent who complained of a lack of academic skills. Jobs of this kind make up about one-third of the total workforce of 27million, but the report said many are taken by migrants.
Between 2002 and 2008, the proportion of migrant workers has risen by 50 per cent, with the rise even more prominent among entry-level jobs. Around 80 per cent of the jobs created during Labour’s time in office went to immigrants, and official figures suggest numbers have risen since the Coalition took power last year.
The report said: ‘Many employers told us that they believe students should leave education “work-ready” and that currently too many students fall short. ‘Timekeeping, self-awareness, confidence, presentation, communication, teamwork and an ability to understand workplace relationships are too often below the standard required.’
Proof that the British Government is tilting at windmills
The policy on which our national energy strategy is now centred is a ludicrously expensive, self-defeating joke, says Christopher Booker.
In the week when it was reported that 20 per cent of the EU’s fast-soaring, trillion-euro budget may soon be spent on “fighting climate change”, it was timely that Britain’s energy companies should have met with the Department of Energy and Climate Change to raise one of the best-hidden secrets of our Government’s obsession with wind power.
Centrica and other energy companies last week told DECC that, if Britain is to spend £100 billion on building thousands of wind turbines, it will require the building of 17 new gas-fired power stations simply to provide back-up for all those times when the wind drops and the windmills produce even less power than usual.
We will thus be landed in the ludicrous position of having to spend an additional £10 billion on those 17 dedicated power stations, which will be kept running on “spinning reserve”, 24 hours a day, just to make up for the fundamental problem of wind turbines. This is that their power continually fluctuates anywhere between full capacity to zero (where it often stood last winter, when national electricity demand was at a peak). So unless back-up power is instantly available to match any shortfall, the lights will go out.
Two things make this even more absurd. One, as the energy companies pointed out to DECC, is that it will be amazingly costly and wildly uneconomical, since the dedicated power plants will often have to run at a low rate of efficiency, burning gas but not producing electricity. This will add billions more to our fuel bills for no practical purpose. The other absurdity, as recent detailed studies have confirmed, is that gas-fired power stations running on “spinning reserve” chuck out much more CO2 than when they are running at full efficiency – thus negating any savings in CO2 emissions supposedly achieved by the windmills themselves.
Is there no longer anyone around at DECC who is familiar with these very basic practical points? The policy on which our national energy strategy is now centred is a ludicrously expensive, self-defeating joke, which will achieve no benefits whatever – even if you are among the diminishing number of people who still believe that man-made CO2 is causing catastrophic climate change.
Unfortunately, among those still in the grip of these fantasies are David Cameron, Chris Huhne and the EU, who between them are now responsible for Britain’s energy policy. I’m afraid we are in the hands of very dangerous children, upon whose deranged wishful thinking a large part of our country’s future depends.
Scottish government signals end to nuclear power opposition
Energy minister says SNP is ‘perfectly open’ to extending the life of existing nuclear power stations
The Scottish government has shifted away from its hardline opposition to nuclear power after the energy minister said there was a “rational case” for extending the life of Scotland’s two nuclear plants.
Fergus Ewing, the energy minister, told MSPs on Thursday that the Scottish National party (SNP) government was “perfectly open” to the continued use of Hunterston and Torness power stations, to ensure there was security of supply.
The Conservative opposition and environmental campaigners said this was a marked change in the government’s stance, as the SNP has been opposed to the entire principle of nuclear power, a policy long regarded as a strict article of faith for its activists and many backbenchers.
Environment campaigners were stunned by Ewing’s statement, claiming it undermined his statements last month that nuclear energy had no future after the Fukushima disaster and after Germany’s announcement it was to phase out nuclear power.
They added that Alex Salmond had led the SNP to a landslide victory in the Scottish elections in May partly on a promise that 100% of Scotland’s domestic electricity needs would be met by renewable energy by 2020.
Stan Blackley, chief executive of Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland, said the minister’s statement was “deeply disturbing and utterly disappointing.”
He added: “Fergus Ewing’s statement to the Scottish parliament that the SNP is now ‘perfectly open’ to extending the life of Scotland’s nuclear power stations can only be interpreted as a significant policy shift. The SNP has always been viewed as anti-nuclear and I’m sure many SNP voters will feel quite misled when they learn that this is not the case anymore.”
In a joint letter they only recently sent to Ewing, FoE Scotland, WWF Scotland and Nuclear Free Local Authorities Scotland urged the minister to oppose plans to extend the life of two reactors at Hunterston B until 2021 or 2026 which are now being drawn up by its operator EDF.
They said that Hunterston B, on the coast of Ayrshire, will be 40 years old when its current licence runs out in 2016. It was already the focus of safety concerns, and the campaigners urged Ewing to commission an independent review of the risks of continuing to operate its reactors.
Scotland’s newest nuclear power station at Torness near Edinburgh, which had to be shut down this week because of sudden influx of jellyfish around its water intake pipe, is due to operate until 2023.
Ewing’s statement implied the SNP would also accept extending Torness’s life further until the late 2020s or beyond, making the SNP’s opposition to new nuclear power stations largely meaningless.
Jackson Carlaw, the Conservative climate change spokesman, said: “This is an unexpected yet welcome U-turn from the SNP government. Coming after years of uncompromising anti-nuclear rhetoric, I suspect it is one they will not wish to be reminded of too often.
“For so long the SNP has repeatedly set its face against any on-going role for nuclear to secure both a low carbon solution and a continuity of energy supply throughout this decade, voting against a Scottish Conservative amendment to achieve just that only a few weeks ago.”
Ewing, speaking in a Holyrood debate on his government’s new “route map” for achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2020, said his government was still opposed to building any new power stations.
The minister, appointed to the energy post after Salmond’s landslide victory in the May Scottish elections, said: “Turning to the question about the extension of the life of nuclear power stations, that is something which we accept should be considered rationally.
“We are perfectly open to an extension of the life of the existing nuclear power stations provided that case is justified on economic and environmental grounds and therefore we recognise that that case exists and it exists because of the need to secure security of supply. “That is something that we have always recognised whilst we are opposed clearly to building new nuclear power stations.”
A Scottish government spokesman denied there had been any change in policy. He said the SNP government had always accepted that the life of Hunterston and Torness could be extended, and had said so when the plans for Hunterston were outlined in 2007.
He added that the devolved parliament at Holyrood had no power to prevent the licence of an existing nuclear station from being extended, as that authority rested with the UK government. It could only block new nuclear plants through the planning process.
Must not imply that blacks are hard to see in the dark
Lenny Henry is a black British TV personality
“Jeremy Clarkson’s comments on television have landed him in controversy more than once. Now he’s in trouble over a remark about his own TV set.
The controversial Top Gear presenter, who has driven environmentalists mad with his eco-sceptism, was commenting on the energy-saving mode on his new TV when he referred to ‘Lenny Henry in a cave’.
In a newspaper column, he wrote: ‘Like so many things in life these days, my new LG flatscreen television has an eco feature. You can choose how much energy you would like it to consume. Very little, a medium amount or tons. But one word of warning. ‘If you turn the feature on, the screen dims so much, every programme looks like it’s being presented by Lenny Henry in a cave.’
I covered another such complaint from Britain on June 23rd