NHS Hospital cripples young girl through negligence
A teenage schoolgirl was left paralysed from the waist down when a spinal anaesthetic was left in too long after a routine operation, a hospital has admitted. Sophie Tyler, 17, of Risca, near Newport, south Wales, will never walk again after an epidural was mistakenly left in place for more than two days.
A medical law expert is now calling on bosses at a leading UK children’s hospital to ensure lessons are learned from the devastating error.
Their admission of liability has left the way open for a full settlement, providing Sophie with financial support for the rest of her life.
Mother Sue Tyler spoke today of how the tragic error transformed her daughter from a normal outgoing teenager overnight. Sophie was 14 on May 27 2008 when she was admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for surgery to remove gallstones. While the operation was successful, an epidural to control pain was left in place too long, causing permanent damage to her spinal cord.
The day after the operation, she complained of numbness in her right leg, but the epidural continued to be pumped into her spine as she felt no pain. After two days of receiving the anaesthetic, the numbness had spread to both legs and Sophie was barely able to move her feet.
Despite warnings that something was seriously wrong, hospital staff failed to halt the painkilling infusion until the night of May 29.
The next day she underwent an MRI scan which revealed the anaesthetic had entered her spinal cord and damaged the membranes, paralysing her from the waist down.
The hospital trust has now admitted liability. Tim Deeming, medical law expert with Irwin Mitchell solicitors, representing the Tyler family, said: “Sophie and her family have been devastated by what has happened.
“Other than suffering from gallstones, Sophie was a very healthy and active young girl. She and her family put their trust in the hospital and believed that within a few days she would be on the road to recovery.
“At the age of 14, to be told the news that you will never walk again is unimaginable and to discover that mistakes were entirely avoidable has been incredibly hard for them to cope with.”
He added: “Birmingham Children’s Hospital has a reputation, both nationally and internationally, for clinical excellence, which is why it is extremely important, both to protect future patient welfare and to provide public reassurance, that the hospital learns important lessons from what happened to Sophie. “We very much hope that the staff responsible have already been retrained so that similar tragedies can be avoided and I am glad that they have now admitted responsibility.
“Although no amount of compensation will ever turn back the clock for Sophie, she will need specialist care and support for the rest of her life. “The Trust’s full admission of liability now paves the way for a settlement which will provide Sophie with financial support to pay for the special equipment and care she now needs.”
He said: “This is an important case which has allowed our client to access justice and secure the lifetime of future care she needs but it would not have been possible without the support of legal aid.”
Mrs Tyler said: “My daughter’s life has completely changed as a result of what happened. “From being an outgoing teenager, her life has altered overnight and we have all had to come to terms with what has happened. “Sophie is still taking her A-levels and hopes to then go to university, but to do so, she has had to be very determined and needs a lot of support to enable her to achieve her goals.”
Dr Vin Diwakar, chief medical officer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said: “We are deeply sorry for the unimaginable distress we have caused Sophie and her family as a result of the care she received at our hospital three years ago. “The care we provided fell below our usual high standards and since then we have implemented a whole series of changes to try to ensure that this never happens again.”
Soft justice: Thousands of career criminals spared prison in British Coalition’s first year
The number of career criminals being spared jail has soared since the Coalition took office.
An astonishing 4,000 offenders have been handed community sentences, despite each totting up at least 50 convictions.
The figure for 2010 – the year Ken Clarke took over as Justice Secretary – was 17 per cent higher than 2009’s and treble that of 2002.
Incredibly, 408 criminals dodged jail last year even when being sentenced for what was at least their 100th offence.
Earlier this year, the Daily Mail revealed that the percentage of all convicted criminals sent to jail had fallen since the Coalition took over last May.
Rapists, drug-dealers, muggers, drink-drivers and thugs caught with knives and guns were all more likely to receive soft community sentences.
If the sentencing standards of 2009 had been applied last year, more than 2,000 extra criminals would have gone to jail.
Critics of the criminal justice system say pressure is being put on courts by Mr Clarke to jail fewer people because prisons are close to overflowing.
The Justice Secretary wants to scrap most terms of under six months and replace them with community sentences – meaning more repeat offenders will be let off.
Conservative MP Priti Patel said: ‘Clearly when you have got serial criminals and repeat offenders causing such harm the Government has got to start addressing the issue.
‘It is not acceptable that these people are being given community sentences when they should be locked up. The Government needs to tackle this situation; these are people who need to be locked away in prison to keep the public safe.
‘If there is a need for more prison places then we need to build more prisons. Prisons are about protecting people on the outside from the vile criminals who are being kept behind bars.’
The latest figures show that the proportion of offenders escaping jail with 50 convictions or more has risen from 0.5 per cent in 2002 to 1.5 per cent last year.
Some 3,898 criminals fell into that bracket in 2010, compared with 3,333 the year before and 1,238 in 2002.
Last year the Daily Mail revealed that the worst of the repeat offenders to be spared jail had a 50-year criminal record and 578 previous convictions or cautions.
These included 300 offences of theft as well as burglary, robbery, assault, possessing offensive weapons and public order crimes.
Conservative MP Philip Davies, who uncovered those statistics, said: ‘This shows that the criminal justice system has become a joke. It shows that despite what Justice Secretary Ken Clarke would have us believe, we have too few people in prison, not too many.’
Criminologist Dr David Green, director of the Civitas think-tank, said: ‘This rise in the number of career criminals escaping jail has been caused by political pressure from the Government to reduce the prison population. Judges and magistrates are failing in their basic duty to protect the public.
‘If someone has been convicted even three or four times, jail should be considered. But these are people being convicted 50 or 100 times. It should be obvious that for these people, this is how they make a living.
‘And we should remember that not all crimes are detected. The Home Office admits that for every conviction, the offender has committed five more. So someone being convicted 50 times has in fact carried out at least 300 – and I think that’s an underestimate.’
Mr Clarke wants to replace sentences of six or fewer months – given to around 50,000 criminals a year – with ‘tougher community sentences’.
Last year he claimed: ‘Simply banging up more and more people for longer without actively seeking to change them is not going to protect the public. ‘I do not think prison is, or should be, a numbers game.
‘The army of short-term prisoners we have at the moment, who have a particularly bad record of reoffending within six months of being released, is too big and we’ve got to find some sensible community sentences.’
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘Sentencing in individual cases is rightly a matter for the courts to decide.’
British pupils return to tough subjects
The number of children studying tough subjects at school is to double following a Government crackdown on “soft” GCSEs, The Daily Telegraph has learned. Just days before the new academic year, it emerged that pupils are flocking back to traditional academic disciplines that are seen as vital to the workplace and further study.
Research shows that almost 50 per cent of children starting GCSEs for the first time this autumn will take separate courses in maths, English, the sciences, a foreign language and either history or geography. This compares with less than a quarter of pupils who took GCSE exams last summer.
The rise move follows the introduction of the controversial English Baccalaureate – a new school leaving certificate that rewards pupils who achieve good grades in five traditional subject areas.
It represents the first evidence that the reforms are having a major effect on the subjects studied by children in the last two years of secondary education. This follows repeated claims by the Coalition that education standards were “dumbed down” under Labour.
In the last 13 years, growing numbers of pupils have ditched tough subjects in favour of less rigorous alternatives such as media studies, photography and dance to boost school league table rankings.
It has had a significant effect on the study of key disciplines at college and university and led to a critical shortage of graduates with skills in science, technology, engineering, maths and foreign languages, which are seen as vital to the economy.
But research commissioned by the Department for Education suggests that changes made by the Government are having a dramatic effect on schools in England.
The study – based on a survey of almost 700 state secondary schools – shows rises in the number of pupils preparing to take a combination of GCSEs that leads to the so-called “EBacc”. Some 47 per cent of teenagers entering Year 10 this term – the traditional start of GCSEs – will study EBacc subjects, it was revealed. These pupils are expected to sit exams in 2013. It represents a dramatic rise compared with the 22 per of pupils who took exams in these subjects in 2010 – the last available data.
The number of pupils choosing to study languages is set to rise by more than a fifth compared with 2010, while entries for history and geography are up by at least a quarter this year.
The proportion of pupils opting to take all three sciences – biology, chemistry and physics – will almost double, according to the study by the National Centre for Social Research.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said: “Subjects such as physics, chemistry, history, geography, French and German give students the opportunity to succeed in every field. “The numbers studying a proper range of rigorous subjects has been in decline. Now, thanks to our English Bacc, that has changed.
“More young people are now following the courses which the best colleges and top employers value.”
The Coalition announced that the EBacc would be introduced in late 2010. To achieve it, pupils must gain C grades in maths, English, at least two sciences, a foreign language and one humanities subject – either history or geography. The new measure will be added to school league tables.
According to the National Centre for Social Research study, 52 per cent of schools surveyed said the EBacc had an effect on the type of subjects offered in the curriculum, while almost nine-in-10 said they provided information to pupils and parents about the EBacc.
But the reform has been strongly criticised by teaching unions and Labour, who claim it represents an elitist view of education and punishes children who want to pursue more practical courses.
It is also claimed it will narrow the curriculum and led to huge drops in those taking subjects such as music, art and religious studies, which are not featured in the EBacc.
But a Coalition source said: “Labour and union leaders live in a fantasy world where media studies is valued as much as further maths.
“Between them, over a decade they pushed millions of children into courses that held them back. By bringing honesty to the league tables we are already seeing a return to the subjects that universities and employers value most and this will strengthen education and our economy.”
Statins could help to fight infections
This is naive rubbish. The side effects of statins are so severe that you have to be pretty robust to stay on them. All we are seeing below is that robust people get fewer illnesses
Statins have been found to cut death from infections that cause illnesses such as pneumonia by a third, which could lead to even more people being prescribed the so–called wonder drugs. Up to seven million people in Britain take the cholesterol–lowering medication, which can save lives by reducing the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
But “unexpected” findings from British researchers suggest that statins’ principal long–term benefit is stopping deaths from infections and respiratory illness.
It could mean that patients at higher risk of developing pneumonia could also be prescribed the drugs, despite a fear that too many “worried well” already take statins, which cost the NHS about £500million a year. A study in The Lancet last month suggested some people taking the drugs were unlikely to gain any benefit.
Prof Peter Sever, from Imperial College London’s international centre for circulatory health, said of the latest findings: “This result is very unexpected. The benefits of statins for preventing heart attacks and strokes are well established, but after long–term follow–up the most significant effects seem to be on deaths from other causes.”
There was now “an emerging evidence base for statins protecting against infections”, said Prof Sever, who presented the results yesterday at the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology in Paris. A paper has also been published in the European Heart Journal.
He said: “We know that if you are on a statin and you get pneumonia, you are less likely to die. “There are about 15 observational studies that show statins protect you against worsening infection and death from infection.” Prof Sever said the statins appeared to lessen the production of “toxic” inflammatory agents in the blood, which are stimulated by infections.
Prof Sever said: “This study is going to make people think more about the non–cardiovascular benefits of statins.”
Prof Sever’s team analysed the death certificates of almost 1,000 people. They were among 10,000 volunteers with high blood pressure who had originally enrolled in the Anglo–Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial (Ascot) to test a type of statin, called atorvastatin.
They found that, 11 years after the Ascot trial started, deaths from infections and respiratory problems were 36 per cent lower in those originally given the statin, compared with those given a placebo.
Since the Ascot trial started, there were 37 deaths from infections and respiratory illness in the atorvastatin group, compared with 56 in the control group. Prof Sever said of these differences: “The numbers are large. It’s a very robust study.”
There was no difference in death rates from cancer.
Prof Sever, whose previous work helped formulate NHS guidelines for statin use, cautioned against widening statin prescription based on a single study. He said: “One swallow does not make a summer.”
Studies have shown that statins can cause side effects such as muscle weakness, and liver and kidney problems.
Others also questioned the validity of the data, noting the trial was not designed to look at causes of death other than from cardiovascular disease. Guy De Backer, from Ghent University in Belgium, said: “I want to remain cautious. We all know that these findings can occur by chance alone. They are interesting but they don’t stand on their own.”
Those given the statin at the start of the Ascot trial were 14 per cent less likely to die during that period. The trial was stopped after three years since atorvastatin had been shown to reduce the chance of a non–fatal heart attack and death from heart disease by 36 per cent.
Prof Sever said the lower rate of deaths from infections and respiratory illness over the 11–year period since the trial began was a “carry over” effect from being given atorvastatin at the start. Prof Sever’s study was funded by Pfizer, which makes atorvastatin. However, the academic noted: “I have no reason to believe that atorvastatin is unique in these non–cardiovascular actions.”
Atorvastatin, which currently costs £26 per patient per month compared with £2 for a “generic” drug, is also due to come off patent soon.
Britain’s new brain drain: A million of our best-qualified citizens now live abroad
More than a million of the highest-qualified and best-trained Britons have gone to live abroad and are contributing to the wealth of other countries, a report found yesterday.
They have made up more than half of the British emigrants who have gone abroad over the past 14 years to work in countries including America, Australia, or, increasingly, Germany, it found.
The report from the immigration think tank MigrationWatch warned of a new brain drain and said that no other country loses as many university graduates through emigration.
But at the same time British immigration rules are offering entry clearance to the country to engineers and other highly qualified technicians because the country is suffering from shortages.
The analysis of who is going abroad comes at a time when numbers of people leaving the country to live abroad have plummeted, mainly thanks to the recession. At the same time levels of immigration have remained at sky high levels.
As a result net migration – the number of people added to the population by migration – last year totalled 239,000, the second highest total ever.
The new report said that professionally qualified workers and experienced managers continue to make up the majority of emigrants from Britain, numbering more than 50,000 in 2009.
It put the number of British graduates working abroad at 1.1 million, and added many will stay away permanently.
Citing the verdict produced by the Paris-based grouping of rich nations, the report said: ‘This is consistent with the findings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that the UK suffers from a brain drain less serious only than Mexico whereby a significant proportion of its tertiary level educated go overseas to work,’ the report said.
It added: ‘There is something of a brain drain occurring in Britain whereby our most talented and skilled are leaving the UK in search of opportunities abroad.’
The report said the need to import engineers means that British companies may be paying too little for highly qualified staff.
‘The UK Border Agency Shortage Occupation list includes civil engineers, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers among others,’ it said, ‘perhaps suggesting that UK companies are not paying sufficiently well to keep the brightest and the best.
‘Despite the NHS claiming to be reliant on migrant labour, 27 per cent of our skilled emigrants had a health or education degree.’
MigrationWatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: ‘The profile of those who are leaving is a concern.’
The report said around six out of ten emigrants from Britain have since 1997 been aged between 25 and retirement age, and the most numerous among these are people under 44 looking to promote their careers.
France and Spain have dropped down the table of the most popular destinations for Britons moving abroad during the recession, the MigrationWatch report said.
Numbers leaving for a life in France last year were below 20,000, well under half the peak of emigration to France five years ago, and emigrant departures for Spain are now running at around 25,000 compared to more than 60,000 in 2004.
The report pointed to the high euro and worries about property values as among the reasons.
‘One possible explanation for the fall in emigration to Spain is the uncertainty caused by the illegal construction of homes along the Spanish coastlines, discouraging the British from buying property,’ it said.
‘However, the wider fall in the value of the pound against the euro can explain this decline in emigration to France and Spain; the pound lost 28 per cent of its value against the euro between January 2007 and January 2009. For those on fixed incomes this changes the economics of a life of retirement in France or Spain.’
The European country now attracting greater numbers of British emigrants is Germany, where Britons are going to work in the comparatively strong economy.
Parts of Britain suffer coldest summer for nearly two decades
Much of Britain suffered the coldest summer for almost two decades, Met Office statistics show.
As Britons return to work today after a soggy Bank Holiday weekend, official weather data reveals that average temperatures were significantly down on recent years.
The UK’s average temperature from June 1 to August 15 was only 57F (13.9C) – the lowest for 13 years.
For central England the average was 59F (15C), making it the coolest summer since 1993.
Helen Waite, a Met Office forecaster, said: “The average temperature for central England this summer has been just 15C – this sort of temperature is normally typical of September. “Generally speaking, you would expect to see temperatures of at least 17C for this time of year.”
Leftist hate speech towards Israel in Scotland
“A student at St Andrews University has been found guilty of a racist breach of the peace after he insulted the flag of Israel.
Donnachie has been expelled from St Andrews
The court heard that Donnachie and Mr Colchester entered the halls at 01:30 on 12 March to see another student who shared the flat.
Lithuanian-born Mr Reitblat said he had the 4ft by 3ft flag on the wall after being given it by his brother, an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldier.
He said Donnachie noticed the flag, and said Israel was a terrorist state and the flag was a terrorist symbol. He then unbuttoned his trousers, put his hands down his pants, pulled off a pubic hair and rubbed it over the flag.
Sentencing Donnachie, a history student and member of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, sheriff Charlie Macnair said: “This flag was his personal property. I consider that your behaviour did evince malice towards Mr Reitblat because of his presumed membership of Israel. “I’m satisfied that you said Israel was a terrorist state and the flag was a terrorist symbol and I also hold that you said that Mr Reitblat was a terrorist.”
Sentence on Donnachie was deferred for background reports.
Outside the court, a tearful Donnachie said he would appeal. He said: “This is a ridiculous conviction. I’m a member of anti-racism campaigns, and I am devastated that as someone who was fought against racism I have been tarnished in this way.”
He tarnished himself. He’s sure got a funny way of fighting against racism. Just an unthinking Left-indoctrinated fool, I guess.