Ex-nurse labelled ‘hysterical’ by surgeons after she asked for lump in her breast to be removed
NHS negligence never stops
A retired nurse with terminal cancer told yesterday how she was originally dismissed by doctors as being ‘hysterical’ for wanting a breast lump to be removed. Catherine Calland, 65, was wrongly given the all-clear after a series of tests six years ago.
Although she told medics she had a ‘bad feeling’ about the lump on her left breast, she claims she was laughed at. Just one year later, Miss Calland was diagnosed with fatal malignant lymphoma.
However, she only found out about the original misdiagnosis last year when she received a letter stating her case was being reviewed. It was one of 26 cases at the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust to be investigated following a string of alleged misdiagnosis incidents.
Miss Calland said yesterday: ‘I am furious about this. If I had the radiotherapy a year before, I might not have cancer now. But it was missed in the early stages. I might not be living with cancer today if this avoidable error had not occurred.’
Miss Calland, of Hotwells, Bristol, had an initial mammogram at the University Hospitals central health clinic in December 2005 and was called back for a biopsy. The results were reported as benign in 2006 after doctors told her they had found a harmless enlarged lymph node in her breast. But when she questioned the diagnosis, she claims the female surgeon called her ‘hysterical’.
The mother of two said: ‘She said it was probably an infection through my nipple. I disputed this and said, “I have a bad feeling about this, can you please remove it”. ‘She laughed at me and said I was “being hysterical about it”.
A mammogram in 2007 showed that the lymph node was still enlarged and this time she insisted on having it removed. Miss Calland opted to be treated at nearby Frenchay Hospital, run by the North Bristol NHS Trust. It was there that she was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma.
Her doctor also carried out a series of tests on the sample taken from her breast in 2005 – finding it also had the malignant lymphoma. But she was not told about the misdiagnosis until last year.
The former ward sister, who has many medics in her family, said: ‘When I found out I spoke to the North Bristol Trust and asked them why they had not told me. ‘They said they thought it was not in my best interests to do so. I find that patronising and insulting.’
After a bout of radiotherapy treatment, Miss Calland was told the lymphoma had spread around her body and was terminal. She has been told patients with the disease rarely live longer than ten years. But early treatment could have increased chances of survival.
The review of histopathology – the analysis of tissue samples – at the University Hospitals Bristol was launched by the Royal College of Pathologists in 2009 following concerns by doctors at NBT. It found the diagnosis was correct in just seven of the 26 cases. Now, as health bosses discuss setting up a single histopathology department in Bristol, Miss Calland is calling for doctors to be more open.
Dr Jane Luker, deputy medical director for University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘We apologise unreservedly for the cases where patients have come to harm.’
Dr Chris Burton, NBT medical director, said: ‘As soon as the RCP confirmed a diagnostic error, we contacted Ms Calland. We failed to raise with her the initial concerns … and have apologised.’ [Big deal! They should be charged with manslaughter]
Injured man forced to wait 25 minutes for an ambulance after falling out of his wheelchair in HOSPITAL car park
A disabled man was left lying injured yards from an A&E ward for 25 minutes while staff called paramedics from another ambulance station. The unnamed man had a cut to the head after falling from a mobility scooter in the car park.
Hospital workers who were asked to help him claimed that only paramedics could assist because of health and safety rules, a passer-by claimed.
An ambulance was eventually sent to the man – who was lying 100 yards from the entrance to Lincoln County Hospital’s A&E department – from a base on the other side of the city at the start of afternoon rush hour on Friday.
Yesterday a hospital spokesman denied that staff were prevented from going outside to treat the patient because of health and safety rules. The decision to call for an ambulance was taken on ‘clinical grounds’ in the patient’s best interests, he added.
But one woman among a group who stopped to help the injured man insisted: ‘I went to him and there was an elderly couple following me and they asked if I needed help. ‘One of them went off and a nurse came down at about 4pm. ‘She said she would have to go to A&E to get someone.
‘By 4.15pm no one had come and the gentleman went to see what was happening. ‘He came back and said health and safety would not allow them to come out.’
The woman, who asked not to be named, added that she was told hospital staff had called paramedics from a base at South Park, 2.7 miles away. ‘Everyone was shocked it had taken so long,’ she added. ‘I just couldn’t believe it. The man was certainly shaken up. ‘When they are cutting costs at the NHS, a nurse could have come out with a stretcher.’
An East Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said a fast response vehicle had been called at 4.18pm. It arrived within six minutes and the paramedic then determined that an ambulance was needed. This vehicle arrived less than two minutes later, the spokesman added. Although EMAS could not confirm, it is thought the fast response vehicle also came from the city’s nearest ambulance station at South Park.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust spokesman Clare White insisted staff had previously attended to emergencies in the car park and no rules prevented such action being taken. ‘We treat each patient according to their individual needs,’ she added. ‘Due to the nature of this incident an ambulance crew was required as they can immobilise and move patients.
‘Staff in A&E are fully involved in treating patients in that department and would not normally be able to leave their patients during treatment to treat another patient elsewhere.’
Miss White would not elaborate on why paramedics were best placed to treat the patient for fear of breaching patient confidentiality rules. An on-site health care support worker had seen the patient before the ambulance was called and a nurse went out with blankets, waiting with him until paramedics arrived, she added.
Absurdly naive study of the effects of marriage on children
Excerpt from a media report below. The researchers found that children tended to have similar levels of educational achievement to their parents regardless of whether the parents were married or not. Any student of IQ could have predicted that. IQ is overwhelmingly hereditary and negligibly influenced by the family environment. And IQ is the chief determinant of educational success. So the finding tells us nothing new or relevant
What is interesting is the socio-emotional progress of the child. What the study found was that parents reported satisfactory development in that respect regardless of whether they were married or not.
But that finding is entirely consistent with the children of marriages being better off in social development. It could well mean that married couples expect more of their children and so are less satisified even though the kids are quite good by objective standards
I note however that I have not been able to find online the full details of the study. The so-called more detailed report put online by the IFS is very scant on detail.
And what are economists at a fiscal studies body doing carrying out such research? When non-psychologists do psychological research they very commonly make methodological howlers. And even many psychologists can be psychometrically naive and end up using invalid measuring instruments. Being a psychometrician, I must have had a hundred or more academic publications pointing that out.
NO conclusions would seem warranted by this study
David Cameron’s promised tax-break for couples has been dealt a blow after an influential think tank found that marriage actually provides few benefits to children.
Instead, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that parents’ qualifications are more likely to help or hinder the educational and emotional development of a child. It found there was ‘little or no evidence’ to support the idea that marital status affects children in the commonly held belief, pouring cold water on Mr Cameron’s plans to fix ‘Broken Britain.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies concedes that there is a difference but says this is down to the education attainment of a child’s mother and father.
The report from the IFS concluded: ‘We can find no strong evidence that marriage leads to better cognitive or social outcomes for children than cohabitation. ‘Policies aimed at encouraging parents to get married before they bear children thus require a rationale other than one based on the impact of marriage on child development.’
Ellen Greaves, research economist at the IFS, said: ‘It is true that children born to married couples are on average more cognitively and emotionally successful than children born to cohabiting couples.
‘But careful analysis shows that this largely reflects the differences between the types of people who decide to get married and those who don’t. ‘On average those who marry tend to come from more advantaged families, and are more cognitively and emotionally successful themselves, than those who cohabit.
‘This explains the differences in outcomes for children. Marriage itself appears to confer little, if any, benefit in terms of child development.’
The children were broken up into three different age groups and then asked to carry out tasks. The three-year-olds had their vocabulary tested by being asked to identify pictures.
Five-year-olds had to recognise patterns and also had their vocabulary tested while the seven-year-olds were given basic maths problems and had to answer word recognition.
The second part of the study, sponsored by the Nuffield Institute, involved the questioning of parents to find out how they believed their child was developing through a series of 40 questions.
For their study the IFS used information from the Millennium Cohort Study, a sample of children born in the UK in the early 2000s; and the British Cohort Study, a census of individuals born in a particular week in 1970, whose children were surveyed in 2004.
The BBC’s bias has been one of the most shaming aspects of this entire sorry saga
Ten years ago, BBC2’s Newsnight devoted an entire show to the resignation of Peter Mandelson as Northern Ireland Secretary. I described it in these pages as one of the most shocking programmes I had ever seen.
Though this was the second occasion on which the accident-prone Mr Mandelson had been forced to resign, the programme was almost entirely sympathetic to him. Only political allies were summoned to mutter reverentially over his political corpse. For a terrifying moment, the BBC was synonymous with New Labour.
A BBC boxwallah later conceded that the coverage had been unbalanced, and issued a kind of half apology. Will the Corporation make amends for an equally shocking example of bias on Tuesday evening’s Newsnight?
The subject under discussion was Rupert Murdoch. Various people were gathered to offer their point of view. Virtually everyone was hostile. The media mogul was by common consent a thoroughly bad thing.
There were contributions from the veteran American investigative journalist Carl Bernstein, Earl Spencer (brother of Princess Diana), the novelist Will Self and a Tory MP called Louise Mensch. All were in varying degrees critical of Mr Murdoch and his newspapers, and some widened their attack to include the whole of the popular Press.
The lugubrious Mr Self even opined that Mr Murdoch had introduced the culture of envy into British society. Perhaps he should re-read a few Victorian novels when he has the time. Needless to say, this idiocy was not even questioned by the Newsnight presenter, Gavin Esler.
Not only was there no one present to speak up for Mr Murdoch, there weren’t even any neutral parties to say what I happen to believe — that there are good things and bad things about the Press tycoon and his influence on our culture, and it is facile to portray him in a wholly negative way.
I appreciate that Newsnight is hardly mainstream viewing, and that it enjoys a small audience. But it is worth citing as a kind of bellweather of BBC coverage, which has been unremittingly hostile to Mr Murdoch and his newspapers over the past couple of weeks. For all his sins, wasn’t he the man who saved newspapers by defeating rapacious trade unions? Hasn’t he kept The Times going for 30 years despite losses of hundreds of millions of pounds?
Let me restrict myself to other examples of BBC bias from the past 48 hours. Tuesday evening’s News At Ten reported Mr Murdoch saying that he had been asked to enter No 10 by the back door so as to escape notice when visiting David Cameron, but cut his subsequent remark that he did exactly the same when calling on Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Later in the bulletin, the Corporation’s political editor, Nick Robinson, and its business editor, Robert Peston, lined up like a couple of undertakers to pass judgment on Mr Murdoch’s performance, and that of his son James, in front of the Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
Much as I respect Mr Robinson, and accept that he normally strives to be even-handed, his account of Rupert Murdoch being uniformly doddery and out of touch with his company was somewhat selective. He also came close to suggesting that David Cameron had been ‘compromised’, and declared that he was in a ‘quagmire’.
Perhaps he is, but this is the kind of judgment one expects from a newspaper commentator, not a supposedly neutral reporter on our public service broadcaster. BBC journalists who used to restrict themselves to reporting events are increasingly drawn into punditry, and so are bound to sound partial. In recent weeks that has meant being virulently ‘anti-Murdoch’.
On yesterday’s Today programme on Radio 4, Sarah Montague interviewed Trevor Kavanagh, a columnist on the Murdoch-owned Sun.
Though he has no executive responsibilities, and does not even visit the Sun’s offices, Ms Montague insisted he state that phone hacking had never occurred on his newspaper. Mr Kavanagh, who handled himself well, should have demanded the same assurance from her about the BBC.
Later on the programme, the same Sarah Montague interviewed the distinguished novelist P.D. James, who is 91 in a couple of weeks. Lo and behold, after a few moments Ms Montague turned the subject around to the BBC’s unflagging obsession — phone hacking.
I could go on. Anyone with a grouse against Rupert Murdoch is invited to dilate without any requirement to produce evidence. A Panorama ‘special’ about him on BBC1 on Monday evening was a straightforward hatchet job in which ‘victims’ of the News of the World (some of them men whom you would not necessarily invite home to meet your mother) queued up to denigrate him and his newspapers. Barely a word was said in his favour.
Naturally, I don’t deny that the phone-hacking affair is an extremely important story, which has rightly been covered extensively by all media organisations. My point is that the BBC has not treated Rupert Murdoch fairly. It has conjured up a rampant monster. Moreover, its preoccupation with the scandal has been so all-consuming that it has downplayed or ignored other important stories, such as the increasingly worrying tribulations of the Eurozone and the worsening economic prospects in this country.
None of this would matter very much if the BBC were not a subsidised public sector broadcaster with a greater ‘reach’ than all of its rivals combined. (How much of it would survive if it were forced to compete in the cut and thrust of the commercial market?) By the way, the estimated audience of all BBC news bulletins on television and radio is some 20 times greater than that of the Murdoch-controlled Sky News, which has been reporting the scandal with commendable objectivity — unlike the BBC.
As an institution, the BBC loathes Murdoch because he has brilliantly built BSkyB into a formidable programming rival, and in particular shattered the Corporation’s former pre-eminence in sports coverage. And, of course, many Left-leaning BBC journalists (which means most of them) regard him as an anti-Christ for being Right-wing, unashamedly pro-American, and a free marketeer.
He is too powerful, and so I am glad he is not proceeding with his bid to acquire the rest of BskyB. He has in some respects impoverished our culture — for example, by introducing ‘Page 3 girls’. But he has also done some good things, and however much it may distress high-minded liberals such as the aforementioned Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, millions of people choose to buy and read his newspapers.
Incidentally, Mr Bernstein would do well to ponder the fact that nearly all American newspapers driven by obsessive liberal agendas are dying — undermined by unappealing journalism and the kind of pomposity he displayed this week.
Yesterday, Mr Cameron announced that broadcasting organisations including the BBC will also be investigated by Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into Press ethics. Will the inquiry panellists (most of whom are of a distinctly centre-Left hue) look at the Corporation’s coverage of this scandal? I’m not betting on it.
But I still hope that the BBC — the only media organisation in Britain that regulates itself — will examine its shaming coverage of this scandal, and in particular Tuesday’s edition of Newsnight.
Imagine the Murdoch media writing about a crisis in the BBC in the sort of biased and tendentious way that the Corporation has covered his travails. There would be an outcry, and rightly so. That is the measure of the failings of our impregnable public service broadcaster in reporting this story.
4,500 British ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses to face the axe… including the ‘GCSE’ in claiming welfare payments
Michael Gove sounded the death knell for around 4,500 ‘Mickey Mouse’ qualifications yesterday. The Education Secretary plans to axe such vocational courses from school league tables where they serve as GCSE equivalents.
They have been used for years by schools as an easy way to boost their GCSE league table rankings. For example an NVQ level 2 in hairdressing is worth the equivalent of six GCSEs, but students never cut hair because health and safety regulations ban the use of scissors. In a major shake-up, pupils will still be allowed to take the qualifications but they will no longer count towards league tables.
There are more than 4,800 GCSEs, NVQs, BTECs and other qualifications for 14 to 16-year-olds. Some 4,500 ‘soft courses’ are expected to be excluded. The number of ‘equivalent’ qualifications taken in schools ballooned by almost 4,000 per cent under Labour – from 15,000 a year in 2004 to 575,000 last year.
Mr Gove proposes that only a few ‘high quality’ vocational qualifications will be included in league tables. All GCSEs, iGCSEs and AS-levels will be retained. Under the new standards, qualifications will count in the league tables only if they have a proven track record. They must also give students the chance to go on and do a wide range of other courses.
Their content must be the size of a GCSE, or bigger, a ‘substantial’ amount of it must be externally assessed and they must be marked with A*-G grades.
BTECs are unlikely to be included because they do not include a large amount of external assessment and many are only graded pass or fail.
Ministers said they also plan to change the system so that every qualification counts equally in the tables. Under the current system, some vocational qualifications are worth multiple GCSEs.
In an attempt to encourage students to follow a ‘balanced’ curriculum, the Department for Education said only two non-GCSE courses per pupil will count towards the Government’s benchmark of each child gaining five A*-Cs at GCSE.
The proposals, which are open for consultation until the end of September, follow the Wolf review of vocational education. In her review, Professor Alison Wolf warned that thousands of 14 to 16-year-olds are taking vocational courses that are encouraged by league tables but do not help the pupils’ prospects.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: ‘Reforming the league tables so they include only those qualifications that allow young people to maximise their potential is long overdue.’
But Nansi Ellis, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: ‘A one-size-fits-all suite of qualifications will not develop the diverse range of skills and aptitudes of all young people. ‘If the Government insists on returning to a 1950s grammar school education and qualifications it will discriminate against the thousands of young people who will be more successful in other subjects and more practical qualifications.’
Giving environmental puritans free rein
Comment from Britain
For such a basic part of the economy and people’s lives, energy is a remarkably minor topic, politically speaking. The hacking scandal is interesting, but won’t affect people’s lives in a decade. Energy policy might.
Sadly, environmentalists have been given nearly a free rein in the field of energy policy, without much input from people concerned about the impact of anti-carbon regulations on the economy or poor people’s ability to pay. Note the constant lumping together of energy and climate change policy, as if these are just two sides of the same coin. This is a big mistake. As the “Rational Optimist” Matt Ridley argued in a superb piece for the Times last week (now on his blog, free for the world to read), the price of energy is fundamental to our economic wellbeing:
Cheap energy is the elixir of economic growth. It was Newcastle’s cheap coal that gave the industrial revolution its second wind — substituting energy for labour drove up productivity, creating jobs and enriching both producers and consumers. Conversely, a dear-energy policy destroys jobs. Not only does it drive energy-intensive business overseas; according to Charles Hendry, the Energy Minister, the average British medium-sized business will face an annual energy bill £247,000 higher by 2020 thanks to the carbon policy. That’s equivalent to almost ten jobs it must lose, or cannot create.
Let’s accept that a low carbon economy is a desirable thing, but reject the apocalyptic hysteria that some push (without much scientific basis for doing so). That’s one desirable objective out of three or four others – including growing richer, making sure poor people can afford to heat their homes, and encouraging innovation in all sorts of fields. Is there a tension between the low carbon goal and the other ones? A bit, yes, but environmentalists are protesting a little too much when they emphasise carbon reduction over all other priorities.
A decent compromise already exists, and Britain is fortunate enough to have quite a lot of it: shale gas. Shale gas is cheap, efficient and low carbon compared to other fossil fuels. Conservative estimates say that there’s enough shale gas in the US to last at least fifty years. This video from Reason.tv explains some of the process by which shale gas is extracted from the ground – a process known as “fracking”. In this case we really can have our cake and eat it too: everybody should be happy.
But they’re not. Environmentalist groups have condemned fracking, on largely spurious grounds. Indeed, many were for it before they realised that it was an alternative to renewable energy, not a suppliment. Why? Because many in the environmentalist movement, particularly the more politically active ones, are more interested in controlling people’s lives than in promoting a “clean” atmosphere. They are the new puritans, who want us to live “good” lives instead of rewarding ones. As a consequence, heavy-handed environmental regulations are making shale gas unviable in Britain. This needs to change so we aren’t left behind.
Shale gas is a get-out clause for people who want cheap and clean energy, but it doesn’t include the lifestyle changes that hardcore environmentalists want us to make. This is a point that’s been made plenty of times before. But the environmentalist movement’s ludicrous opposition to shale gas exploitation underlines its true aims. Many of them don’t really care about the environment, they care about pushing people around. What a shame that, for political expediency, they’re being allowed to.
Vegetarian diet ‘helps protect against common bowel disorder’
More speculation. Vegetarians undoubtedly differ from normals in all sorts of ways. They probably take more care of their health generally, for instance. They may also do more exercise and are usually slimmer. So there is no knowing which factor led to the reduced bowel disorder observed
A vegetarian diet could help protect against a common bowel disorder, research has suggested. Vegetarians were found to be a third less likely to get diverticular disease, a condition thought to be caused by eating too little fibre. It causes cramps, bloating, wind, constipation and diarrhoea.
A study led by Dr Francesca Crowe from the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University, published online by the British Medical Journal, looked at 47,033 British adults, of whom 15,459 were vegetarian.
After an average follow-up of 11.6 years, there were 812 cases of diverticular disease. Vegetarians in the group had a 30% lower risk of having the disease, compared to those who ate meat, fish or both.
The authors said the reason could be the consumption of meat altering the metabolism of bacteria in the colon, and therefore weakening the colon wall and increasing the risk of diverticular disease. They found nothing significant about the amount of meat eaten.
The potential protective benefits of vegetarianism could be obtained even in a short time, the study found.
There also seemed to be a link between eating more fibre and being at lower risk of the disease. Patients who consumed the most fibre, more than 25.5g per day for women and more than 26.1g for men, had a 42% lower risk than those who ate less than 14g per day.
Why taller women are a third more likely to be diagnosed with cancer
This is one finding that is NOT due to social class, as upper class women tend to be taller. Anecdotes prove nothing but I cannot help mentioning that for a time in Britain, I went out with a woman who was 5’10” tall, which is tall for a woman. She traced her ancestry back 1,000 years. On the principle of parsimony, the explanation for the finding below is most likely to be the one I have highlighted in red
Taller women are more likely to get cancer, research reveals today. Their risk of developing some of the most common forms is up to a third greater.
Scientists believe being tall may increase the levels of certain hormones known to trigger tumours.
A study carried out at Oxford University found the risk of cancer increased by around 16 per cent with every four inches of height. The scientists studied the link between height and ten of the most common forms of cancer including breast, bowel, kidney, womb, ovarian and leukaemia by looking at the medical records of one million British women. They found those who were 5ft 9in tall were more than 33 per cent more likely to get cancer than those who were just 5ft.
Researchers say the link may explain why cancer rates have risen so much over the past few decades when our average height has also progressively increased. Over the course of the last century the height of adults in Europe has gone up by more than a third of an inch (1cm) every ten years. And figures show that cancer rates have increased by about 3 per cent every decade. The scientists suggest an increase in height can explain up to 15 per cent of the rise in cancer cases seen over the past century.
They believe one reason for the link is that tall girls tend to start puberty earlier and this is when their bodies begin producing large amounts of the hormone oestrogen, known to trigger the growth of tumours.
The scientists also point out taller people have more cells in their body so they have a higher chance that one will become cancerous.
Jane Green, from the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, said: ‘The fact the link between height and cancer risk seems to be common to many different types of cancer suggests there may be a basic common mechanism, perhaps acting early in peoples’ lives, when they are growing. ‘Of course people cannot change their height. And being taller has been linked to a lower risk of other conditions, such as heart disease.’
Sara Hiom, director of health information, at Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Tall people need not be alarmed. Most people are not a lot taller than average and their height will only have a small effect on their individual cancer risk. ‘This study confirms the link between height and cancer paving the way for studies to help us understand why this is so.’
This study only involved women so it is not clear whether tall men are at risk. But past research has linked height with increases in prostate and testicular cancer.