Paramedic left disabled after surgeon mistakenly removed part of his brain during unnecessary biopsy
Name of the surgeon not given. Any bets that he was “overseas-trained”?
A blundering surgeon left a long-serving paramedic needing 24-hour care after they removed the wrong part of his brain during a botched operation he did not even need.
John Tunney, from Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, underwent a biopsy on a pituitary tumour, but the doctor sliced off healthy brain tissue which led to a serious haemorrhage. Afterwards they found the tumour was benign, meaning that it could have been treated with tablets.
Mr Tunney has been left with permanent brain injuries, including memory loss and partial loss of sight, leaving him incapable of dealing with his own affairs and needing constant supervision. He also cannot walk without the aid of a stick.
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust has now admitted liability for the mistakes, paving the way for Mr Tunney to receive financial compensation for lifelong medical support.
His wife, Pamela, 64, said: ‘John’s brain injury has had devastating effects on him. Prior to the surgery he was a very easy going person who was always active and on the go. To see the change in him and to know that it was all entirely avoidable is extremely upsetting.
‘As a paramedic, John put his complete trust in his surgeon, believing that he was an expert who knew best. ‘It is appalling to think the surgeon managed to botch the procedure completely and then to find that the biopsy wasn’t even necessary makes me incredibly angry.
‘We were both taking early retirement and planning to move to Pembrokeshire when this happened and changed everything. ‘John was so capable before and now, although he can speak, he isn’t aware of everything around him. ‘He’ll ask me what day it is, then forget and ask again a few hours later. He’s a completely different person.
‘This mistake is not something the hospital can just take back.
‘I pray they don’t make this mistake again and that no other family has to experience seeing their husband suffer the pain and loss that John has.’
Mr Tunney’s solicitor Timothy Deeming, from the Irwin Mitchell law firm, also said surgery was carried out unnecessarily as blood tests were done, but not reviewed before the biopsy, which showed the patient had a benign condition called prolactinoma.
Mr Tunney, now aged 63, had worked for the NHS for 23 years. He was based at West Midlands Ambulance Service’s Small Health ambulance station but his brain injury, on April 29, 2008, left him unable to work.
Mr Deeming called for the General Medical Council to investigate the conduct of the surgeon responsible. ‘The fact the surgeon managed to remove perfectly healthy tissue rather than a sample of the tumour tissue is, in itself, an appalling error,’ said Mr Deeming.
‘To then find the procedure was totally unnecessary because clinicians had failed to review a blood test, really does add insult to injury. ‘We also very much hope the Trust has reviewed its procedures and where necessary retraining has taken place to ensure that lessons are learnt to protect patients’ safety in the future.’
Richard Kennedy, Chief Medical Officer at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said: ‘I very much regret the tragic outcome for Mr Tunney and his family and on behalf of the Trust would like to apologise for this. ‘Since 2008, this case has been thoroughly reviewed through our governance process and I am confident that measures have been put in place to prevent this type of incident reoccurring. ‘We now collaborate with expert clinicians at other trusts in these kinds of cases.’
Patient, 42, who TWICE had his heart operation cancelled found dead on hospital toilet
A heart bypass patient died in a hospital toilet after his surgery was cancelled twice, an inquest has heard. Richard Thompson, 42, was due to undergo the operation at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, but was delayed because a previous patient’s treatment overran.
Six days after Mr Thompson’s surgery slot was cancelled for a second time due to lack of beds, he was found dead in a ward toilet after suffering a fatal heart arrhythmia.
An inquest in Plymouth, Devon was told that lifelong bachelor Mr Thompson may not have died if the procedure had gone ahead at the hospital as planned.
Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr Clinton Lloyd told the hearing: ‘Clearly it is unacceptable to be in a position where surgery has been cancelled twice. ‘It is not a guarantee but there would have been slightly less chance of a heart arrhythmia after surgery.
‘In an ideal world everyone would be operated on the next day after diagnoses but unfortunately the NHS is not like that. We have to work with the resources available.’ ‘It is unacceptable to be in a position where surgery is cancelled twice’
Shop manager Mr Thompson, of Helston, Cornwall, visited his GP on February 26 last year complaining of swollen legs – a symptom of cardiac problems. He was diagnosed with ischemic heart disease, which causes reduced blood supply, after an ECG and cardiogram, and was scheduled for treatment.
On October 29 he was admitted to Derriford Hospital, where he was due to undergo two coronary artery bypass grafts. This was postponed after previous treatment to a private patient overran.
Mr Thompson returned on November 4, only to be told the operation was being put back to the following day due to a lack of beds on the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. He was found dead in a chair in a toilet on the ward by a nurse at 8.40pm that night.
The cause of death was given as damage to the left ventricle caused by a lack of oxygen reaching the heart.
Dr Peter McNorton, ICU consultant and clinical director who led an investigation into hospital procedures, said: ‘There are three intensive care units in Derriford Hospital, Neuro, Cardiac and General.
‘On that day there were seven potential beds free in other wards and I found that although the cardiac ICU team had considered this option perhaps there needed to be a proper mechanism in place for rearranging people. ‘Procedures have changed so that the cardiac ward is now part of the twice daily ward evaluation, whereas it was not before.
‘I have also ordered a clarification on the priority of patients who have faced cancellations, as while it was custom and practice for them to be seen as soon as possible that has now been formally written down.’
Recording a verdict of natural causes, deputy coroner for Plymouth Dr Andrew Cox said he would have ordered an investigation had one not already been carried out. He added: ‘He (Mr Thompson) did not suffer a heart attack but an arrhythmia, which is a disturbance in the function of the heart. ‘There is very little evidence as to what extent this would have been prevented if he had had the operation before.
‘It was undesirable that he suffered two cancellations. ‘But we are not going to be in a position to prevent all deaths like Richard’s. Cancellations will happen from time to time.’
Mr Thompson’s family declined to comment after the hearing on Monday.
New British immigration system just makes work for forgers
The Brits wonder why more Indians than ever are arriving under the new “restrictive” system. Documents forged in India and Pakistan are very hard to check. They caught a local document wallah but they will never catch the ones abroad
The Minister of State for Immigration in the UK, Damian Green, has claimed the UK is “no longer an easy touch”, amidst news of the sentencing of a legal advisor, who masterminded a major immigration scam.
Ravi Gupta, 41, who was living in Hayes, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail and recommended for deportation at the end of his sentence. He was convicted of supplying his clients with fraudulent documents for the purposes of aiding their UK visa immigration applications, allowing them to falsify their income details.
Gupta charged up to £5,000 for each application. Following an undercover investigation by the West London immigration crime team, his scam was uncovered and he admitted 14 charges of assisting illegal immigration and an additional charge of obtaining leave to remain in the UK by deception.
An agency spokesman said: “When someone was coming to an end of their visa he would assist them with the fake certificates or pay slips to make it look as if they were in far better jobs and were more highly skilled then they actually were. But typically the clients were in low paid jobs such as working in supermarkets, restaurants or cleaning jobs that wouldn’t count.”
Immigration Minister Green used the opportunity to claim: “This case shows we have stepped up action to tackle serious and organized abuse of our immigration system. The message is clear – the UK is no longer an easy touch.” He continued: “This summer we are targeting our efforts on breaking up the gangs behind visa scams, hitting rogue employers who repeatedly break the rules and doing more than ever to stop unwanted people coming to the UK.”
Gupta’s sentencing comes after news of eight people being arrested in Bangladesh following the discovery of fake visa by UK Border Agency staff in Dhaka last month, working with the agency’s Risk and Liaison overseas network (RALON). A huge haul of fake visas, stolen passports and immigration stamps were uncovered in a factory that served a major visa forgery ring.
UK Border Agency officers are given detailed detection training and last year discovered over 27,000 forged travel documents used to support visa applications globally.
Yet more false sex allegations in Britain
Daughter of racehorse trainer at centre of custody battle was coached to claim her father had sexually abused her
A former jockey and racehorse trainer at the centre of a child custody scandal lied that her former boyfriend was a paedophile, a High Court judge said yesterday.
Vicky Haigh made up the allegations and even coached her seven-year-old daughter to repeat the claims, he added.
Sir Nicholas Wall, the country’s most senior family judge, said that Miss Haigh should be named and shamed and her former partner, David Tune, freed from the false smear that he is a child abuser.
He made the damning remarks as he jailed another woman, Elizabeth Watson, who acted as an ‘investigator’ on Miss Haigh’s behalf, sending ‘aggressive and intimidating’ e-mails and internet postings about social workers involved in the case.
Watson was given a nine-month sentence for contempt of court. The ruling was the culmination of a long-running row involving Miss Haigh which started with her allegations about her boyfriend and social workers.
Initially the secrecy of the family courts meant the public were not allowed to know any of the facts of the affair.
But John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who named Ryan Giggs in the commons as a footballer with a privacy injunction to hide an affair, named Miss Haigh using Parliamentary privilege.
The MP said Haigh had been unfairly put under threat of imprisonment by Doncaster Council for speaking to a Westminster meeting about family law issues. It led to sympathetic portrayals of the then heavily pregnant Miss Haigh.
But yesterday that changed when Sir Nicholas made his judgement public and ordered that Miss Haigh, 40, could now legally be named, as could Mr Tune, and that Doncaster council be identified as the employer of the social workers in the case.
The judge ordered that the seven-year-old girl’s identity must remain secret and she can be known only as ‘X’. Sir Nicholas said: ‘Allegations of sexual abuse were first made by the mother and not by X. These were false and the mother knew them to be false. X was coached by the mother to make allegations of sexual abuse against the father.’
He added that two judges examined the case at previous High Court hearings and both found that Mr Tune was not a paedophile and had not sexually abused his daughter.
Sir Nicholas said: ‘The child’s mother is wholly unable to accept the court’s verdict and, with the misguided assistance of Elizabeth Watson has unlawfully and in breach of court orders, put into the public domain via email and the internet a series of unwarranted and scandalous allegations about the father and others.
‘She has repeated the untruth that the father is a paedophile and – without a scintilla of evidence – has attacked the good faith of all the professionals who had had any contact with the case.
‘These proceedings have had a serious effect on the life of the father and have threatened the stability of the child. Her mother’s actions are wholly contrary to her interests.’ The judge said that Watson had identified parties in the case in defiance of court orders and had criticised social workers and police.
He said she had referred to ‘social disservices’ and ‘abductees’ who ‘snatched children’ and ‘tortured innocent parents’.
Sir Nicholas said: ‘You have seriously breached an order and seriously compromised the well-being of a child. There is no question of misunderstood. You knew exactly what you were doing – writing the most aggressive, intimidating emails calling everyone in sight corrupt.’
He added: ‘She thought herself above the law. That will not be tolerated.’
Britain thrashing about on student funding
Restricting enrolments at top quality universities and encouraging more enrolments at cheap universities seems very destructive
Institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College could be stripped of undergraduate places next year in a move that effectively penalises universities charging the most for degree courses.
Manchester and Leeds – the biggest universities in the elite Russell Group – face losing up to 300 students each, while Sheffield Hallam, in Nick Clegg’s constituency, could be stripped of 450. The disclosure is made as part of Labour research into radical reforms to higher education funding in 2012.
From next year, 20,000 places are removed from all universities before being “auctioned off” to institutions that charge the lowest tuition fees.
Gareth Thomas, Labour’s shadow universities minister, said: “These figures confirm that places at high quality internationally renowned universities for the brightest and best students are set to be axed in order to fund a race to the bottom.”
The Government currently controls how many students each university can recruit. Numbers are capped because of the cost to the taxpayer of providing undergraduates with means-tested grants and upfront student loans to cover tuition and living expenses.
From 2012, English universities can charge up to £9,000 in tuition fees – almost three times the current rate. Figures show the average fee will stand at £8,393.
But to minimise the student loans bill, ministers are determined to ensure that most universities charge far less. In a controversial move, it has proposed creating a “flexible margin” of around 20,000 places to reward the cheapest universities. This would be created by stripping student numbers from each university on a pro-rata basis and awarding them to institutions that charge less than £7,500.
But this means many universities – particularly those charging close to the maximum amount – could be badly hit.
An analysis using data from the House of Commons library shows how many student places each one will lose on a pro-rota basis.
The Russell Group, which represents 16 English universities, faces collectively losing up to 2,300 places. Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and the London School of Economics could lose 50 students each. A further 2,100 could go at institutions belonging to the 1994 Group, which represents smaller research universities such as Durham, Lancaster and York.
But the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills criticised the analysis, which they said failed to take other reforms into account. This includes plans to allow the best universities to recruit unlimited numbers of students who get the best A-level results – at least two As and a B – potentially recouping places lost under the “flexible margin” system.
Must not call an astoundingly thick quiz show contestant astoundingly thick
It is a quiz traditionally associated with the finest minds in the country. But media watchdog Ofcom has ruled that Channel 4 was right to brand one Mastermind contestant ‘astoundingly thick’.
Simon Curtis recorded one of the show’s lowest scores in the history of the programme, but took umbrage when comedian David Walliams mocked him on a comedy show.
The programme, which was shown on Channel 4 in January, included a clip of Mr Curtis on Mastermind which was introduced by Walliams who said: ‘Sometimes in life, you have to know your limitations… if you’re not, let’s say, very bright, it’s probably not a good idea to go on a quiz show that tests your mental agility. ‘And by not very bright I mean, astoundingly thick.’
The probation worker complained to Ofcom that he was portrayed as being of ‘low intelligence’ and that he had not given his consent for it to be shown.
In its defence, Channel 4 said that it was obvious Mr Curtis was not literally ‘astoundingly thick’ as he was on Mastermind in the first place. But it added: ‘This was the worst specialist subject performance ever seen on Mastermind.’
Ofcom agreed and refused to uphold any of Mr Curtis’s complaints. It ruled: ‘We recognise that these comments carried the potential to be offensive and insulting to Mr Curtis. ‘However we took the view that it would have been clear to viewers from the beginning of the programme that Mr Walliams – himself best known as a comedian – intended to provide humourous and light hearted opinion and comment on examples of past television clips.’
Good to see that British officialdom sometimes gets it right.