The Furness hospital saga continues
Hospital admits responsibility over one baby death
The hospital being investigated by police over the deaths of babies born in its maternity department, Furness General Hospital in Cumbria, has admitted responsibility for one incident, as concerns rise that a preoccupation with natural births led to problems there.
Alex Brady was delivered stillborn at the hospital on September 5, 2008, with the placenta wrapped tightly around his neck. Midwives failed to involve doctors, an inquest later found.
Two months later Joshua Titcombe died after being born there, when midwives failed to spot he had a serious lung infection.
Now the mother of Alex, Liza Brady, has said the trust which runs the hospital has admitted responsibility. The matter of compensation is being dealt with by the NHS Litigation Authority, according to a spokesman for University Hospitals of Morcombe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
Miss Brady, 26, said: “With Alex, they delayed and delayed delivering him even though the machine monitoring his heart showed he was in distress. “A doctor was prepared to help as he came on duty but he was shooed away by the midwives who said he wasn’t needed.”
Police are investigating the deaths of at least 15 newborn babies and three mothers over less than a decade at the hospital in Barrow-in-Furness.
Miss Brady, from Walney Island, Cumbria, added: “The last few years have been very hard and it’s heartbreaking hearing about so many other deaths.”
Yesterday (MON) it emerged that the consultant gynaecologist on call when Miss Brady’s baby died raised “grave concerns” over the care she had received, which he said led to Alex’s death.
Dr PK Misra wrote to colleagues in October 2008 that midwives had “ignored” a doctor’s advice to perform an episiotomy, even though the baby was large and they had failed to detect a heartbeat.
He wrote: “My main concern is that trying to make every labour and delivery as normal and [this has led to] not thinking laterally [about] the possible complications.”
He warned senior members of the trust: “This has happened in our unit in the past and I am sure if we don’t take appropriate precautions and positive steps, I am sure that this is going to happen again in the future.”
James Titcombe, who has pursued the trust for answers since his son’s death, said last night (MON): “The trust had an opportunity to learn from its lessons which may have saved Joshua from dying. But it immediately refused to accept it was to blame. As a result more babies were put at risk.”
Commenting on the Alex Brady case, Peter Dyer, medical director of the trust, said: “We offer our sincere condolences to Liza Brady and and Simon Davey for the tragic loss of their child. “As we are still in discussions with the family, we do not feel that it is appropriate to add any further comments at this time.”
Criminals must fear the police again, vows Scotland Yard’s new chief
A plain-speaking police chief renowned for his ruthless obsession with cutting crime was yesterday appointed head of the beleaguered Metropolitan Police.
Bernard Hogan-Howe, 53, vowed to put fear back in the minds of criminals after winning the race to become commissioner at Scotland Yard.
Britain’s new top officer faces an enormous task trying to restore morale in the Met in the aftermath of the phone hacking scandal, widespread criticism of the force’s handling of the London riots and concerns about burglary and robbery figures.
He will also assume overall responsbility for counter-terrorism in the run up to next year’s Olympic Games in London.
Mr Hogan-Howe is the force’s third chief appointed in six years following the controversial exits of his two predecessors, Sir Ian Blair and Sir Paul Stephenson, making it the hottest seat in British policing. He was handed a five-year contract after convincing interviewers he could lead a ‘new, more transparent’ era for the force.
The former Merseyside chief constable could not disguise his delight at landing the job. ‘It’s the highest accolade that any police officer could have,’ he said. Outlining his targets, he added: ‘The idea is to make the criminals fear the police and what they are doing now.’
One of Mr Hogan-Howe’s priorities will be ensuring the Olympic Games pass off peacefully at a time of unprecedented police funding squeezes.
He is expected to run a tight ship at the Yard and will move quickly to shake up the Met’s senior management team. Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick is tipped as a strong contender to be his deputy.
Mr Hogan-Howe beat off a strong challenge from Sir Hugh Orde, the much respected but outspoken president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, to land the £276,000 a year job.
The other contenders were acting commissioner Tim Godwin, who now reverts to being deputy commissioner but who is expected to leave the Met in the next few months, and Strathclyde’s chief constable Steve House.
A number of members of the Metropolitan Police Authority were keen for Sir Hugh to be appointed but Home Secretary Theresa May, who has been angered by Sir Hugh’s attacks on government policy, was never likely to sanction such a move.
She said: ‘Bernard has an excellent track record as a tough single-minded crime fighter. He showed that in his time as chief constable of Merseyside, and I’m sure he’s going to bring those skills and that ability to fight crime to the Metropolitan Police here in London.’
London Mayor Boris Johnson said: ‘It was a very strong field but I think the Home Secretary and I were agreed that Bernard’s performance was outstanding, and he really commended himself above all by his relentless focus on building on the work of Sir Paul Stephenson and Tim Godwin in driving down crime.’
Mr Hogan-Howe was parachuted into the Met as acting deputy commissioner after Sir Paul and Britain’s anti-terror chief, assistant commissioner John Yates, quit in quick succession.
The surprise move was a clear indication that he was in line for the top job on a permanent basis. He had previously been working for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
Call to abolish British carbon floor price
This sounds very similar to Luther’s attack on the sale of indulgences
Ministers should abandon a central pillar of their energy policy and abolish a carbon floor price that amounts to a “tax” on British industry, according to the head of the manufacturers’ association.
Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF, told the Financial Times that UK companies were deeply concerned by the cost of the government’s ambition to cut carbon dioxide emissions and expand renewable energy.
“There’s a fundamental view that the direction of travel, in terms of particularly the renewables targets and the taxation, is wrong,” he said.
The last Budget announced a floor price on carbon emissions from 2013 onwards. The aim is to tip the balance of the UK energy mix in favour of nuclear power and renewable technologies by making it more expensive to generate electricity using coal or gas.
But one consequence will be rising electricity bills across the board, with energy-intensive manufacturing particularly exposed. The EEF calculates the floor price will cost British industry œ250m when it begins in 2013 at a rate of œ16 per ton of carbon. The price will then rise each year to reach œ30 per ton by 2020, which would cost industry œ1.2bn.
Business groups have previously urged the government to provide compensation for the extra cost or delay the policy’s introduction. But Mr Scuoler said: “We are calling for its abolition.” The measure was, he added, “not in line with the government’s stated policy of rebalancing the economy, regenerating the British manufacturing sector, encouraging exports”.
Chart: carbon floor price
Mr Scuoler described the floor price as “clearly a tax on business”, pointing out that no other European Union country is planning a similar measure. This unilateral decision would damage Britain’s competitive position.
“Perhaps we in the UK, an advanced economy, should accept – maybe – that our electricity prices will be more expensive than China, India, perhaps even North America,” said Mr Scuoler.
“But why on a unilateral basis would you wish to push us into a situation where our cost of energy is more expensive than even our EU partners? There’s a non-sequitur there that lies uncomfortably on our shoulders.”
The coalition has adopted the toughest carbon reduction targets in the developed world, promising to cut British emissions by 50 per cent by 2025. To achieve this, it aims to generate 30 per cent of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020, compared with 7 per cent today.
Such ambitions require investment of œ200bn in new energy infrastructure by 2020, a burden that would inevitably cause electricity bills to rise. Mr Scuoler said: “British manufacturing has a right to be somewhat disappointed.”
“Given the rhetoric and some very positive messages from the coalition government post-recession about the importance of British manufacturing, the importance of exporting and the importance of the sector in general, many of these policies are not matched up to that rhetoric,” he added.
The government has promised a compensation package before the end of this year to help companies affected by its energy policies. Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, argues that his reforms will cut bills in the long term by reducing the UK’s exposure to volatile oil prices. “Getting off the oil hook will make our economy more independent, more secure and more stable,” he said earlier this year.
Mr Huhne has argued that his policies will save consumers money whenever oil prices exceed $100 per barrel.
But his analysis is controversial, with experts pointing out that gas prices are the key determinant of electricity bills – and they are becoming less dependent on oil.
Mr Scuoler said: “I’m fearful that some elements of government could be viewing environmental and climate change policy as an article of faith and not adequately using analytical and empirical evidence to support informed decision-making”.
Bring back grammars schools! Selective schools must be set up wherever families demand them, leading Tories tell PM
New grammar schools should be set up to boost academic achievement, senior Tories have told David Cameron.
In the latest in a series of challenges to the Prime Minister ahead of the party conference, a leading backbencher called for an increase in academic selection.
Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee, says: ‘We should end the “Henry Ford” approach to school choice by which we allow parents to have whatever kind of school they want as long as it is a comprehensive. ‘Selective schools should be available in the state sector where there is demand for them.’
The Tory MP made his remarks in a book – being serialised by the Daily Mail – which calls for a return to traditional Conservative policies. Twenty-six MPs and advisers on the centre right of the party have contributed essays that reflect their growing unease at the power and influence of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
John Redwood, a former cabinet minister, calls for lower taxes while others press for more conservative policies on the European Union and law and order.
Mr Cameron’s refusal to back the opening of more grammar-style schools made for one of the most toxic rows of the early years of his leadership and culminated in the resignation of Mr Brady from the Tory frontbench in 2007.
The fact the MP has raised the issue again shows that Tory backbenchers are increasingly confident of trying to steer Mr Cameron down a more traditional path. Although there are no Government plans to add to the country’s 164 grammar schools, Education Secretary Michael Gove is encouraging other types of selective school.
Mr Brady, a former Tory education spokesman, called for fully selective grammar schools or partially selective schools to be set up where parents want them. He says academies should be allowed to select 20 per cent of their pupils on the basis of academic ability – and even more with Government approval.
In the book, called the The Future of Conservatism, Mr Brady says: ‘If we really believe in giving more autonomy to schools and more freedom to parents and communities, it follows that we should allow the creation of selective or partially selective schools where there is local demand for them. ‘These opportunities should be provided wherever parents want them and should be available within the state sector – not just for those who can afford to pay.’
He said one in four families in the London borough of Camden goes private because local schools are so bad. In Bromley, a wealthier borough in the capital’s south, the figure is nearer one in 11.
‘Research shows that academic selection can raise standards in the selective schools and in neighbouring non-selective schools,’ Mr Brady added. ‘We now have 40 years of evidence showing that, while it is possible to achieve good results in comprehensive schools, areas with selective schools as a whole tend to perform better.’
David Davis, who helped plan the book, said the goal was to draw up ‘a distinctively Conservative point of view both as a foundation for fighting the next election and as a basis for debate in formulating policy’.
An internet tool that allows parents to compare their local schools has gone online. Available on the Department for Education website, it draws on a range of previously hidden data, including spending per pupil, staff salaries and school meal budgets. It also carries the more familiar Ofsted ratings and exam results so that schools can be judged against local, regional and national averages. Up to five can be compared against each other through a postcode search.
Education Secretary Michael Gove says the initiative is the ‘educational equivalent of Go Compare’, which helps families shop around for everything from insurance to mortgages.