ANOTHER death at Furness baby unit: Mother claims errors by midwives cost newborn daughter her life
A seventh death at a controversial maternity unit is being investigated by police, the Daily Mail can reveal. Detectives were already examining the deaths of two mothers and four babies in a matter of months amid allegations that midwives may have colluded to hide errors.
Yesterday, as the unit was ordered to improve or face closure, 21-year-old Kelly Hine told how she lost her first child, Amelia, a day after she was born there in April. Miss Hine claimed midwives at Furness General Hospital used a defective monitor which kept falling off the bed, and then rudely berated her partner Carl Bower, also 21, for failing to hold it in place for them.
The scans failed to pick up the fact that Amelia was in distress, and she suffered brain damage and died.
Miss Hine, who is taking legal action against the hospital, alleges her medical records have been altered by staff and says a series of errors during labour led to the loss of her baby.
It emerged last week that police are examining the six earlier deaths over seven months in 2008, when all but one of those who died were from ethnic minorities. Last night officers were preparing to interview Miss Hine amid fears that there could have been other preventable tragedies in the past three years.
The maternity unit in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was yesterday put on red alert by Monitor, which oversees standards at flagship foundation trusts, after being given a final warning by the Care Quality Commission to make dramatic improvements within two months or face being closed down.
Fears of continuing problems at the unit were raised following an unannounced inspection by the CQC in July after fierce criticism of midwives at an inquest into the death of one of the victims, nine-day-old Joshua Titcombe. The visit found problems in six areas and said mothers and babies were still being put at risk through dirty wards and poor staffing levels.
Miss Hine, a care home worker who has just learnt she is expecting another baby, had a normal pregnancy with Amelia, but her due date arrived and she hadn’t gone into labour. After suffering pains, she was told to take painkillers and have plenty of baths.
But on April 2 – now two weeks overdue – her pains returned, and she went to Furness General where midwives confirmed she had begun to dilate, but she was sent home with the same instructions. Her contractions began later that day, but when Mr Bower drove her in again from their home in Dalton-in-Furness they were again turned away, only to be admitted when she went back an hour-and-a-half later.
At this stage, according to hospital records, she was checked with a foetal heart monitor – something Miss Hine and her partner ‘100 per cent’ refute. She wasn’t seen by a doctor, but at 9pm her waters broke suddenly. Instead of a clear watery liquid it contained dark streaks – an indicator of a substance called meconium which, if inhaled by the baby, might obstruct its breathing leading to brain damage.
‘My midwife didn’t bat an eyelid and took no notice,’ Miss Hine claimed yesterday. ‘A care assistant came in and cleared it up.’
The midwife then strapped a heart monitor to her stomach, but the elastic was worn and it fell off, she said. ‘She bellowed at Carl to make himself useful and hold the monitor against my tummy. Then she went away for 15 minutes.’
Unable to get a proper read-out on Amelia’s heart, a doctor drew blood directly from the baby’s scalp, and tests showed her oxygen levels had dropped dangerously low. Miss Hine was rushed into theatre for a caesarean but was told later that Amelia’s breathing was erratic. The next day she and Mr Bower were advised that the machine keeping Amelia alive should be turned off.
An inquest has been opened into Amelia’s death and a full hearing will be held later.
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust, which runs the unit, has said it fully accepts the CQC’s concerns and will ‘leave no stone unturned’ in making improvements.
The trust’s medical director, Peter Dyer, said it would not be appropriate to comment on the death of Amelia while police were still investigating. But he added: ‘We offer our sincere condolences to any family for the tragedy of losing a child.’
Liberal claim that migrant cap would harm the British economy is rubbished
Liberal Democrat claims that the Government’s controversial cap on immigration would harm the economy were rubbished yesterday. There is ‘no evidence’ the policy is harming business, said Professor David Metcalf, the Home Office’s most senior adviser on migration.
He also revealed that just half of the work permits available under the cap – which limits the number of visas available to non-EU skilled migrants to 20,700 each year – are being taken up.
The intervention is a blow to Business Secretary Vince Cable and his Lib Dem colleagues. Along with business groups, they repeatedly argued the policy would harm Britain by leaving firms short of skilled labour. If anything, the figures suggest the cap could be made stricter. Mr Cable is now likely to face ridicule if he makes any attempt to further water down the cap.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: ‘There is growing evidence that business has been crying wolf over immigration controls.’
Professor Metcalf, who was appointed independent chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee by the last Labour government, made his remarks at the launch of the latest list of so-called ‘shortage occupations’, which means British workers do not have the skills to fill them.
Non-EU workers qualified to fill these jobs are the ones most likely to be allowed in under the cap. He said that, in the 12 months to June this year, 8,900 non-European Economic Area skilled workers came to Britain – less than half of the total number allowed. The permits are made available on a monthly basis and half are going unused.
Asked if there is any evidence of harm to the economy, Professor Metcalf replied that he had ‘not seen any’. He added: ‘Those concerns have not manifested themselves.’
He published a list of 29 job titles which he says can no longer justify recruitment from outside the EEA. It includes vets, biology teachers, consultants in obstetrics and gynaecology, and orchestral musicians.
The committee recommends that 70,000 jobs in occupations where there is a UK shortage should no longer be open for migrant workers to apply for. Instead, they could only be filled by UK citizens or workers from the EEA countries. If approved, the number of posts covered by the shortage occupation list would be reduced from 260,000 to 190,000.
As recently as 2008, one million jobs were open to migrants via the list. They are not all jobs which will be taken by a non-EU worker, but only posts for which they will be allowed to apply.
Maths teachers are being recruited from abroad because British graduates are heading to the City
One of the reasons why there is so little demand for the visas is that the economic recovery is sluggish.
During tense negotiations over the level of the cap, Mr Cable repeatedly claimed it was bad for business. His party is known for being strongly pro-immigration. At one stage, he said: ‘We have now lots of case studies of companies which are either not investing or just not able to function effectively because they cannot get key staff – management, specialist engineers and so on – from outside the EU.’
He was also said to have privately described the idea of a tight limit as ‘crazy’ when Britain is trying to boost trade.
Entrance requirements for entry to British police forces dumbed down to aid minority recruitment
Some police officers are ‘barely literate’ because the educational standards required to join the service are so low, it was claimed last night. Tom Winsor, the lawyer reviewing police conditions, said reading, writing and mathematical skills have fallen ‘significantly’ since the 1930s. He suggested that the public could be at risk if poor academic skills damage the effectiveness of potentially vital evidence.
Mr Winsor said criminal barristers sometimes ‘speak in contemptuous terms’ of the ‘barely literate’ quality of police evidence. While checking and rewriting poor quality paperwork was increasing the cost and bureaucracy of policing.
And in an extraordinary aside, he added that two senior officers told him standards were lowered to help black and ethnic minority recruits. He said the claim was ‘astonishing’ and an ‘insult’ to anyone from such a background who wanted a career in policing.
Speaking to an audience of superintendents in Warwickshire, Mr Winsor said it was unfair to expect overworked prosecutors to correct documents.
Mr Winsor said: ‘Why is the entrance test for a police constable now so low? The educational requirements, why are they so low? ‘We looked at the basic questions, one of which is, ‘You find a purse in the street, it contains a £5 note, four 20p pieces and five two pence pieces, how much is in the purse?’ ‘That’s the standard.
‘We’ve looked at the educational standards for the police from 1930 and 1946 and I can tell you they are very very significantly harder.
‘It seems to me that public safety is critical and we want the most all-round effective police officers. So I ask again, should it be higher, the entrance standard?’
Mr Winsor has already inflamed tensions between himself and the police in his review of their conditions, recruitment and training.
Home Secretary Theresa May has asked him to look at entry requirements for the police in order to widen the pool of talent for top officers. This could include allowing leaders from other areas of the public sector or industry to directly enter the top ranks.
Police training could also be opened up to universities, colleges and specialist companies in the private sector.
Mr Winsor admitted that many people who are ‘entirely unsuitable to be police officers’ could pass academic test. He said: ‘It takes more than a clever person to be a cop, I get that. It takes maturity, judgment, bravery, the ability to deal with people.
‘Now those are things that need to be tested in other ways. But you also need to be bright – bright enough, because you are part of a criminal justice system.’
Mr Winsor said he was told by a former Met Commissioner and serving national Police Federation officer that standards were lowered to get more diverse applicants. He said: ‘I find that astonishing because if I was of that background I’d be insulted. Is it true, this assumption? It can’t be so.’
Asked if police officers have poor standards of literacy, Mrs May replied: ‘That is not what I have found. I have found officers committed and dedicated to getting on with their job. ‘But it is still right for Tom Winsor to look at entry requirements and the possibility of senior entry at higher ranks.’
‘Racists’ aged THREE: British toddlers among thousands of children accused of bigotry after name-calling
Teachers are branding thousands of children racist or homophobic following playground squabbles. More than 20,000 pupils aged 11 or younger were last year put on record for so-called hate crimes such as using the word ‘gaylord’. Some of them are even from nursery schools where children are no older than three.
One youngster was accused of being racist for calling a boy ‘broccoli head’ and another was said to be homophobic for telling a teacher ‘this work is gay’.
Two primary school children were reported for homophobia after quarrelling over a rubber and calling each other ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’.
Those youngsters reported for petty offences at nursery classes included four in the London borough of Tower Hamlets and three in Hertfordshire.
Schools are forced to report the language to education authorities, which keep a register of incidents. Although the Department for Education recently pledged to cut unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy, it has given no guidance on such ‘offences’.
In total, 34,000 nursery, primary and secondary pupils were effectively classed as bigots because of anti-bullying rules. The school can keep the pupil’s name and ‘crime’ on file. The record can be passed from primaries to secondaries or when a pupil moves between schools. And if schools are asked for a pupil reference by a future employer or a university, the record could be used as the basis for it, meaning the pettiest of incidents has the potential to blight a child for life.
Figures for the year 2009-10 were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the civil liberties group the Manifesto Club.
Adrian Hart, of the Manifesto Club, called for the Government to roll back the policy of hate speech reporting in schools. He said: ‘Children need space to play and to learn the meaning of words, without being reported to the local education authority. ‘These policies are an inappropriate intervention into playground life, and undermine teachers’ ability to set a moral example to children and to teach them right from wrong. ‘There is a world of difference between racist abuse and primary school playground spats.’
The figures show 34,000 racist incidents reported by schools to local education authorities in England and Wales. Of these, 20,000 were at primary schools. Figures for 2008-9 – obtained earlier this year – showed 29,659 reported incidents. Last year, Birmingham City Council had the highest number, with 1,090 racist incidents, followed by 672 in Leeds and 567 in Hertfordshire. In West Berkshire there were just 15.
In the majority of cases, the ‘racist’ spats involved name-calling.
Schools were required by the Labour government in 2002 to monitor and report all racist incidents to their local authority. Teachers must name the alleged perpetrator and victim and spell out the incident and the punishment. Local authority records show the type of incident but not the name of the child involved.
LEAs are expected to monitor the number of incidents, look for patterns and plan measures to tackle any perceived problems. Heads who send in ‘nil’ returns are criticised for ‘under-reporting’.
A DfE spokesman said: ‘Parents expect that heads take a very tough line on any poor behaviour and stamp out bullying – that’s why we’re toughening up teachers’ disciplinary powers. ‘It is down to schools themselves to exercise their own common sense and professional judgment about the best way of taking on bullies.’
Burglars? You’ll have to sort it out, lazy British police tell oldster in pyjamas who heard neighbour’s alarm
A good neighbour who dialled 999 to report burglars ransacking a nearby house was shocked when the police asked him to investigate it for them. Tony Goodeve, 67, called police when he was woken by his neighbour’s burglar alarm in the early hours. But a control room operator told him they needed ‘proof’ of a break-in before they could respond. Mr Goodeve – dressed in his pyjamas and armed only with a torch – refused to scout the back of the five-bedroom property in case he met the crooks.
No police officers attended and the next day he learned that his neighbour’s jewellery box had been stolen.
The father of four, a financial adviser and Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator from Harpenden, Hertfordshire, said he is livid that police failed to turn up to the crime, which happened at 3.15am on August 20 in a leafy cul-de-sac where homes go for up to £1.5million. ‘I heard the alarm go off and knowing my neighbours were on holiday I shot out into the street in my pyjamas armed with a flashlight and my mobile,’ he said. ‘I dialled 999 but was told that the police would only come out if I could see any signs of a break-in. They told me they needed proof.
‘As an OAP I was not prepared to go round the back of a property in the dark and potentially disturb a burglary. I don’t think that is a sensible option for anyone.
‘I was told the police get hundreds of false call-outs after alarms go off, but that is just not good enough. You expect to have a 999 call responded to.
‘I had an argument with the call handler. I explained that I was not prepared to check the back of the property and was told that in that case the police wouldn’t respond.
‘It is dangerous for the police to encourage people to investigate a burglary. You just don’t know what you may walk into, and they could have been armed.
‘There was someone in the house and they took my neighbour’s jewellery box. We could have had someone arrested. I was livid. ‘The next day I went over and found the back window was broken. A very nice police officer came round – but it was too late by then.’
Mr Goodeve has written to Hertfordshire’s Chief Constable Andy Bliss to complain and has referred the incident to the force’s Professional Standards Department. He added: ‘Our Neighbourhood Watch was set up in 1983. It has worked very well, crime rates have dropped dramatically and we have seen our insurance premiums drop. ‘But it relies on police response. I want them to stop this nonsense of asking for proof of a break-in before responding.’
A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said: ‘A complaint has been received about the police response. ‘This is currently being thoroughly investigated. As a result, we will not be able to make a comment on this individual case until the investigation has been completed.’
British schools ‘axing traditional science experiements’, warn MPs
Children are being forced to study science “second hand” as schools dump traditional experiments in favour of teaching from textbooks, MPs warned today.
The Commons science select committee said that exaggerated fears over health and safety were occasionally used as a “convenient excuse” for avoiding practical work. In a report, it was claimed that this often disguised a lack of confidence among physics, chemistry and biology teachers.
MPs insisted that a decline in experiments and fieldwork was actually down to weak teacher training, a lack of lab technicians, the poor quality of science facilities and crowded timetables.
The conclusions came as a separate international study showed the amount of time children spend in conventional lessons during the school day had a direct bearing on their chances of securing decent grades in science.
Andrew Miller, the committee’s Labour chairman, said: “This is worrying. “If the UK is to be confident of producing the next generation of scientists, then schools – encouraged by the government – must overcome the perceived and real barriers to providing high quality practicals, fieldwork and fieldtrips.”
MPs took evidence from dozens of organisations as part of a review of science experiments and fieldwork in English schools.
The study said high-quality science lessons were needed to enable students to study the subject at college and university. But it was claimed that pupils “cannot and should not do this exclusively second hand, through books without direct practical experience both in and out of the classroom”.
The study found “no credible evidence” to support the claim that health and safety rules got in the way of practical work in the subject. However, the committee was told that it “may be used as a convenient excuse” for avoiding serious science experimentation in some schools.
Teachers may cite health and safety when they are “unsure of their ability to carry out a field trip or believe that the volume and nature of paperwork will outweigh any benefits of taking on the trip”, MPs said.
The committee criticised the poor standard of teacher training, saying that there was “no requirement for student teachers to demonstrate their ability to lead and carry out a field trip” as part of their induction.
Today’s report acknowledged that the Government was attempting to address weaknesses by giving student teachers more on-the-job training in schools and bursaries of up to £20,000 to attract the brightest science and maths graduates into the profession.
But it said schools also needed “fit for purpose facilities” and the support of qualified and experienced technical staff.
MPs heard evidence that some schools were sacking technicians to save money and the design and standard of science labs was “poor”.
“High quality science facilities and qualified and experienced technical support are vital,” said the report. “A career structure for technical staff should be provided and the Government should ensure schools provide science facilities to match its aspirations for science education.”
The conclusions came as a major international report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that a focus on the basics helped boost standards in science.
The study – based on evidence from 37 nations – found that providing one additional science lesson a week was a cheaper and more effective way to raise achievement than extracurricular clubs, homework and visits to museums and galleries.
Britons Question Global Warming More Than Americans and Canadians
Half of respondents in the two North American countries think climate change is a fact and is caused by emissions—fewer Britons concur.
While Canadians continue to be more likely than Americans and Britons to blame global warming on man-made emissions, they are not as unwavering about it as they were last year, a new three-country Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.
The online survey of representative national samples also shows that belief in man-made climate change has reached the highest level in the United States since 2009, and has fallen considerably in Britain.
Overall, half of Canadians (52%, -8 since October) and Americans (49%, +7) say that that global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities. Only 43 per cent of Britons (-4) agree with this assessment.
In the United States, one-in-five respondents (20%, -5) think that global warming is a theory that has not yet been proven, along with 20 per cent of Britons (+2) and 14 per cent of Canadians (=).
More than half of Canadians (55%, -6) believe it is more important to protect the environment, even at the risk of hampering economic growth, while 22 per cent (+4) would prefer to foster economic growth, even at the risk of damaging the environment.
In the United States, 47 per cent of respondents (+2) would emphasize protecting the environment, while 26 per cent (-4) would foster economic growth. The biggest change since last year comes in Britain, where only 40 per cent of respondents would protect the environment (-11) and 33 per cent would prefer to foster economic growth (+11).
Since 2009, Angus Reid Public Opinion has conducted five three-country surveys on global warming. The latest poll outlines one of the lowest proportions of believers in man-made climate change ever recorded in Canada (52%). Still, Canadians are more likely than Americans or Britons to both believe in emissions as the primary source of global warming and to choose environmental protection over economic growth.
In the United States, despite the economic crisis, belief in man-made global warming has reached the high level that was observed before the so-called “climate-gate” controversy. In addition, the proportion of Americans who brand climate change as an unproven theory fell by five points, the biggest fluctuation observed in the past three years.
Britain has become the main source of skepticism, with the lowest proportion of believers in man-made global warming, and with a third of Britons acknowledging that they would foster economic growth even at the risk of damaging the environment—the largest proportion observed in all three countries.
A lesson for now: How Britain escaped the worst of the Great Depression
By economic historian Martin Hutchinson
In the 1930s, those hoping for economic recovery got lucky in the British political cycle and unlucky in the American one (and even more unlucky in the German cycle.) In Britain, the economically capable National Government took office in August 1931. Chancellor of the Exchequer Neville Chamberlain promptly banished Maynard Keynes from the Treasury (condemning him to six years of inferior investment returns, since he had been cut off from his sources of information) and instituted an anti-Keynesian economic policy of public spending cuts and a modest Imperial Preference tariff that proved remarkably successful. By 1933, the British economy was recovering fast, and 1932-37 provided the fastest peacetime five year growth period since Lord Liverpool’s era over a century before.
A few weeks ago I carried out a Gross Private Product analysis for the United States, subtracting government spending from GDP and looking at trends in private sector output, from which all wealth and jobs ultimately derive. The same calculations can be done for Britain, using the helpful website ukpublicspending.co.uk, and taking figures from before 1950 with a pinch of salt.
As in the United States, the greatest falls in Britain’s GPP came during the two World Wars, as output was converted to military usage – GPP fell by 45% between 1914 and 1917 and by an astonishing 57% between 1940 and 1945. In both wars, private sector output fell to levels not seen since the nineteenth century, in the second war to the level of 1870.
However the British Great Depression was not all that Great — GPP fell by 11.7% between 1929 and 1932. This fall has since been exceeded twice in peacetime, by the Heath/Wilson downturn of 1973-75 (14.1%) and the Gordon Brown one of 2007-09 (13.2%.) The Thatcher downturn of 1979-81 and the Thatcher/Major downturn of 1989-93, both of which caused endless angst among the chattering classes and the left, were barely half as severe. Thus while the Chamberlain policy of cutting public expenditure, even slightly (by a mere 2.1% in real terms, peak to trough) opened opportunities for the private sector and turned the Great Depression into rapid recovery, the Keynesian stimulus policies pursued in the much milder global downturns of 1973-75 and 2007-09 produced significantly deeper economic troughs.
In the United States, the political cycle in the Great Depression was as unlucky as that in Britain was lucky. The Republican elected just before the downturn began followed government-enlargement, protectionist and tax-increasing policies, thus making matters much worse. Then the Democrat elected at the bottom of the slump intensified the enlargement of government and added a heavy layer of regulation, ensuring that while output recovered from the appalling depths to which it had fallen, the recovery was only partial. Only when centrist policies were restored in 1939-40 did vigorous growth resume. In summary therefore, while the first year of vigorous growth in Britain was only four years after the beginning of the Great Depression downturn, in the United States there was a full ten years delay before recovery occurred.
From previous discussion in these columns, three things need to occur before we get a vigorous recovery. First, short-term and long-term interest rates need to be raised above the level of inflation. This will allow the U.S. capital base to recover through higher saving. Moreover, a higher cost of capital relative to the cost of labor will lead the corporate sector to refocus from outsourcing jobs by investing in emerging markets to creating jobs in existing U.S. facilities.
Second, the budget deficit, both short-term and long-term needs to be brought down to at most 3-4% of GDP ($500-600 billion) initially and balance thereafter, so that the private sector ceases to be crowded out. Ideally this will be achieved as it was by Chamberlain, simply by cutting out waste in government, but closing tax loopholes can help in this process if it appears necessary – removing the tax deductions for mortgage interest and state income taxes will have little adverse economic effect, while removing that for charitable contributions will have an economically positive effect.
Finally, the blizzard of regulations that has proved a substantial additional obstacle to economic growth in 2011 needs to be cut back. Ideally some of the most egregious new regulations must be repealed, and at least the flow of new regulatory activity must be halted.
British “comedian” jokes about 9/11
Tries to minimize it by comparing it with an earlier plane crash
Controversial comedian Jimmy Carr sparked outrage on the anniversary of 9/11 – by making a joke about air disasters.
The 38-year-old stand-up tweeted: ‘Sept 11th Date of terrible air disaster. When Eastern Airlines Flt 212 crashed in 1974. Killing 69. No one will forget that in a hurry.’
But his followers, including Crimewatch presenter Rav Wilding, 33, blasted him for having a sick sense of humour. Wilding tweeted: ‘@jimmycarr why would you even attempt to make a joke about 09/11? Seriously bad taste.’
And other users were quick to blast the stand-up with scores of his 1.25million followers unfollowing him in protest.