Mother told her baby was dead inside her celebrates daughter’s first birthday after begging for an ultrasound
How long is this going to go on? It happens all the time and it is often only mother’s instinct that saves the child. What a disgrace when a mother’s instinct is a better guide than all the diagnostic tools available to the NHS! At least one scan should be compulsory in such cases and all scans should be read by a qualified radiologist
Ceri Griffiths was devastated when medics told her she had miscarried ten weeks into her pregnancy. She underwent a series of examinations and even had to sign a cremation consent form.
But despite everything Mrs Griffiths was convinced her baby was still alive and begged for an ultrasound scan to be carried out. Nurses were stunned to see the baby was still there, and 7lb 6oz Seren arrived safely in October last year.
She has just celebrated her first birthday at home in St Austell, Cornwall, with her mother and father Steve, 29.
Mrs Griffiths, 37, who named her daughter after the Welsh word for star, believes her experience made the bond between mother and daughter stronger than ever. ‘It was truly horrendous to be told your baby is dead inside you,’ she said. ‘When you’re lying there being told by experts that’s the case, you don’t question it. But I knew my baby was still inside me.
‘I kept asking them to carry out a scan but they answered with, “We’re sorry but the baby has gone”. ‘I became almost hysterical and screamed for them to do one. The nurse held her hand to her mouth in disbelief when she saw the body and heartbeat.
‘I was completely overwhelmed. I think, if anything, going through an ordeal like that makes the bond between mother and baby even stronger, if possible.’
Mrs Griffiths was taken to Treliske Hospital in Truro, in February last year after haemorrhaging. After gynaecologists confirmed her worst fears Steve returned to the family home and broke the news to their son Sam, three, Ceri’s children from a previous relationship Callum, 14, and Cerys, 11, and Steve’s son Cody, eight.
Meanwhile Mrs Griffiths was being asked to sign forms giving permission to cremate the baby. ‘I was delirious with grief and signed them, all the while convinced I was still carrying,’ she said. Then came the scan.
Mrs Griffiths said: ‘I can’t describe my feelings. It was joy, sorrow, exhaustion and fury that the doctors had misdiagnosed all rolled into one. I didn’t feel elated. It was just utter exhaustion.’
Last month researchers said that 400 mothers-to-be a year are being wrongly told their baby has died, and some of these women go on to have terminations.
Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust apologised to Mrs Griffiths for her distress. An investigation blamed a communication breakdown and said she should have been told a miscarriage was a strong probability rather than a certainty.
British shools acting as ‘surrogate parents’, says Ofsted chief
Schools are being forced to act as “surrogate families” because growing numbers of parents struggle to bring up their children properly, according to the new head of Ofsted.
Sir Michael Wilshaw said teachers were being required to step in to give pupils an evening meal, offer pastoral support and show them right from wrong. Staff are forced to provide care “beyond the school day” amid concerns that many mothers and fathers lack basic parenting skills, he claimed.
The comments come after the Coalition unveiled plans to provide parenting classes for around 50,000 people next year as part of a national trial scheme.
Families in Middlesbrough, Derbyshire and Camden will be given classes in areas such as communication and listening skills, managing conflict, discipline and setting boundaries for their children.
Sir Michael, the principal of Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, east London, who will take over as Ofsted chief inspector in January, insisted schools were increasingly “becoming surrogate parents” to compensate for poor parenting skills.
In an interview with The Evening Standard, he said: “Often children come from homes that are dysfunctional, where parents may love their children but not be able to support them for a variety of reasons, where there are problems with gang culture. “Schools – and my school is one of them in Hackney – take on a parenting role. We become surrogate parents for a lot of our children, and that means working with them beyond the school day well into the evening. “Giving them an evening meal, mentoring, supporting them in a way that a family would do. Doing what is absolutely necessary to ensure they have a secure and safe life.”
Sir Michael said pupils who could not read were given tutoring from 7.30am until they catch up. “Parents should be [reading with children] but often they don’t. It’s up to the school to promote literacy,” he said.
The comments were made ahead of Sir Michael’s “pre-appointment” hearing before the Commons education select committee on Tuesday.
Under Parliamentary rules, the cross-party committee can quiz senior ministerial appointments and recommend overturning the decision in extreme cases.
Going back to wood-burning loses its charm
The following information was released by the Scottish Government:
Mr Ewing will meet the UK Government’s Minister for Energy and Climate Change Charles Hendry tomorrow, and host a meeting with bioenergy stakeholders.
He will urge Mr Hendry to follow the Scottish Government’s lead and abandon subsidy for large-scale woody biomass in plants which produce electricity only.
Earlier this month the Scottish Government published a consultation which proposed removing all subsidy from large-scale woody biomass electricity plants.
The Scottish Government supports the deployment of woody biomass in heat-only or combined heat and power plants, particularly off gas-grid, on a small scale which maximises the use of heat and local supply chains.
But large-scale electricity-only biomass is inefficient and requires more wood than the UK can produce. Although current plans are to import wood, there is no guarantee biomass plant operators will look exclusively abroad for their wood, and the overseas supply may not be stable or secure.
The current subsidy means biomass providers will be able to afford more than the current market rate for wood, and may push prices up, pricing out traditional wood industries such as sawmills, wood panel mills, furniture manufacturers and construction. This in turn puts hundreds of skilled rural jobs at risk.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said:
“I have grave concerns about the UK Government’s ambition for biomass electricity. Large-scale woody biomass used for electricity generation is much less efficient than smaller scale neighbourhood plants.
“Huge electricity-only biomass plants require vast quantities of wood – far more than the UK can provide. Even if every stick of wood grown commercially in the UK went to biomass, it would supply less than a third of the fuel we will require by 2020 if the UK Government’s plan for biomass goes ahead.
“Large scale electricity-only biomass will make us reliant on overseas timber markets for our energy. Both oil and gas prices have shown us the importance of a secure, local supply, and if we rely too heavily on imported timber there is a risk of energy security problems in the future.
“Extensive use of large scale biomass for electricity only is likely to push up timber prices and risk hundreds of jobs in traditional wood industries.
“That is why I am urging the UK Government to join the Scottish Government in removing subsidies from large-scale biomass electricity generation.”
The UK Government’s ambitions for large scale biomass electricity will require approximately 37-67 million green tonnes of biomass by 2020. The Forestry Commission’s current Softwood Production Forecast for Great Britain estimates an annual average of almost 12 million green tonnes over the five year period 2017 to 2021.
Colleges lose licences in British immigration crackdown
More than 470 UK colleges have been barred in the last six months from accepting new foreign students from outside Europe, the Home Office says.
They either had licences revoked or did not sign up to a new inspection system – part of government efforts to curb abuse of the immigration system. It estimates the colleges could have brought in 11,000 students.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said the changes to the system were “beginning to bite”.
Earlier this year, tighter rules were introduced on student visas, primarily aimed at private colleges offering language or vocational courses.
The changes were designed to weed out those colleges that were in fact involved in systematic attempts to get workers into the UK by helping them pose as students.
The changes aimed to ensure that students could actually speak English, that the courses were credible and that college bosses were meeting immigration and visa obligations.
Some 302 colleges have had licences revoked. A further 172 are being allowed to continue to teach current students – but officials say they cannot sponsor any new ones from outside Europe.
Earlier this year, the UK Border Agency investigated more than 100 colleges after officials recorded a spike in applications from South Asia, shortly before language rules were tightened.
Changes ‘begin to bite’
During the investigation, the UKBA found one prospective student, interviewed by phone, could only answer most questions with the word “hello”.
Staff at another college tried to avoid an inspection by claiming they were refurbishing the building. Investigators learnt the management were actually hiding inside with the lights turned off. In another instance, a Norfolk college had recorded students as living in Glasgow.
The 11,000 students blocked by the colleges losing licences represent approximately 4% of all student visas granted – but Immigration Minister Damian Green said the changes to the system were “beginning to bite”.
He said: “Too many institutions were offering international students an immigration service rather than an education and too many students have come to the UK with the aim of getting work and bringing over family members.
“Only first-class education providers should be given licences to sponsor international students. We have curbed the opportunities to work during study and bring in family members.”
Nicola Dandridge, head of Universities UK, said: “It is essential that the government considers the way in which the rules are communicated externally.
“It’s important that the UK appears ‘open for business’ to those individuals who are genuinely committed to coming to the UK to study at one of our highly-regarded universities.
“We must also be conscious of the impact that cutting down on pre-degree courses is having on our universities. Many universities operate pathway programmes with a range of providers.”
Homosexuals to be allowed to have church weddings in Britain
From a Biblical viewpoint it is sacrilege and a mockery of God
Homosexual couples will be able to take part in civil partnerships in church and other places of worship from next month, it will be announced.
Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, will say that the ban on the ceremonies in religious surroundings will be lifted on Dec 5. The move has been championed by David Cameron but is likely to be opposed by some church groups.
The scheme will be “voluntary” with no church compelled to offer same-sex services. However, it is likely that some campaigners will seek to push the matter further if churches refuse to open their doors to gay couples.
It is estimated that about 1,500 civil partnerships a year would take place in religious settings once the ban is lifted. There are currently about 5,500 civil partnerships taking place every year.
Liberal Jewish groups, Quakers and other minor Christian organisations have lobbied for the right to host civil partnerships with religious readings and hymns. However, the Church of England has warned that it would not bless same-sex couples. The speed at which the proposals are being introduced is likely to cause concern among Anglicans.
Although some in the state religion support same-sex unions, the official position remains that clergy are not allowed to bless the events.
When it was first proposed that the ceremonies could take place on religious premises, the Rt Rev David James, then the Bishop of Bradford, warned in the House of Lords that it would blur the distinction with marriage.
He also raised fears that what was first portrayed as an option would over time become an expectation and then a duty.
So the Church’s official response to the government Equalities Office consultation made it clear that the proposal must allow “unfettered freedom for each religious tradition to resolve these matters in accordance with its own tradition”.
It said the system had to operate on an “opt-in” basis and that individual clergy could not ask councils to host civil partnerships in their parish churches without the “prior consent” of the whole denomination. In the case of the Church of England, this would require the approval of its governing body, the General Synod, which has spent years tied up in the bureaucratic process of allowing women to become bishops.
The Church said it thought the Government’s setting out of the legal position would mean “it would not be possible to bring a successful discrimination claim on the basis of religious premises not being available for the registration of civil partnerships”, but urged ministers to make this clear during debates.
The fear is that rogue vicars will either try to host the ceremonies without permission, or to embarrass the Church authorities by bringing grievances over their inability to bless same-sex unions.
Homosexual couples, who have scored legal victories over businesses that refused them service, could also use the Equality Act or the Human Rights Act to claim discrimination if they were not allowed to form a civil partnership in church. Pressure groups are likely to set up campaigns for the Church, which has been made to look old-fashioned and out of step with public opinion by the anti-capitalism camp on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, to change its stance.
The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales also opposes the change but is likely to face fewer challenges as its clergy and congregations are more conservative than the Church of England.
Today’s move comes ahead of plans to give same-sex couples the right to marry, ending the legal definition of marriage as the union of a man and woman.
Future gang members ‘can be spotted at age three’
African features alone would be a powerful predictor — getting it right in at least a third of cases
Children as young as three can be identified as violent gang members of the future, according to a new Government report.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans to cut off gang violence at the root by intervening in “problem families” from the moment children are born.
A new Home Office report said the beginnings of teenage violence lie in the “very earliest childhood experience”. It found warning signs are “already clear” by the time a child enters primary school, including neglect, aggression, absence from class and slow development.
Children identified as “at risk” by the age of three are more than twice as likely to have criminal convictions by the age of 21, the report said.
“Early intervention is absolutely key,” Mrs May said. “That may need to come at a very early age indeed, with toddlers, ensuring they just don’t go down that road.”
No new money will be available for prevention of gang violence, since riots involving hundreds of gang members blighted London and other UK cities over the summer. However, the Government had previously promised around £10 million will be re-directed from other areas of the Home Office next year to tackle the problem in general.
Mrs May insisted that “very often the effective intervention is not the expensive intervention”. She said hundreds of thousands of pounds can be spent on a single “problem family”, but often the money is not spent in the right way.
Iain Duncan-Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, estimated that around £12,000 was needed to “turn a family around” Improving “dysfunctional” communication between hospitals, social workers and police is crucial, he said.
Mr Duncan-Smith wants these organisations to “map” the family life of youths who are at risk of joining gangs or already members.
As part of a package of measures, the Government also wants to re-house gang members and their families if they show willingness to leave behind their lives of crime.
It is also planning to bring in injunctions for children as young as 14 to stop them socialising with gang members or going into certain problem areas. Around 100 experts in youth violence will be hired to tackle areas with particular problems.
Violence against girls connected to gangs was another key problem identified in the report. Mrs May said it was a “chilling” development that girls are being raped during disputes between rival gangs.
“They would be the partners of gang members,” the Home Secretary said. “They would find themselves being abused and sometimes being used as weapons – raping a rival gang leader’s girlfriend to get back at that gang.”
She said the Home Office would provide £1.2 million of extra funding for an estimated 10,000 victims of sexual violence by gangs.
As many as 200 gangs cause fear in communities across London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and other UK cities.
The Government’s goal is to cut youth violence by the end of this parliament. However, Mrs May’s critics said she had failed to address the impact of spending cuts on local authorities, police forces and charities who work to reduce the problem.
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, said she applauded the aims of reducing gang violence, but “it sits badly with 20pc cuts to Sure Start and well over 20pc of cuts to the youth service.”
Mehboob Khan, of Local Government Association, welcomed the recognition that “violence on the streets often starts with trouble in the home”.
But he said councils, not central government or agencies, should be at the forefront of work to tackle gangs and called for the next year’s £10 million of funding to be directed straight to local areas.
Call off this culture war against “the poor”
In a speech for the Liberty League in London, Brendan O’Neill denounced the dictatorship of do-gooders colonising poor communities
I think we should always be very sceptical whenever we hear the phrase ‘the poor’. And we should be super-sceptical whenever we hear the phrase ‘the underclass’.
Because I can guarantee you that every time you hear those phrases, you will discover far more about the person doing the talking than you will about the people being talked about. You will discover far more about the speaker’s own fears and prejudices than you will about the lived experiences or morality of those cash-strapped sections of society.
In no other area of public life does anecdotage trump evidence as fantastically as it does in discussions about ‘the poor’. In no other area of political debate is it so acceptable to marshal rumour and hearsay to your cause as it is in debates about the underclass or the residuum or whatever we’re calling it these days.
Indeed, I would argue that ‘the underclass’ is not an objective social phenomenon – it is more like a moral phantasm, magicked into existence by the subjective panicking of people at the top of society. The underclass is an imaginary category, whose existence is not proved by graphs or hard-hitting investigations but rather by the fireside storytelling of journalists and academics who claim to have encountered this strange tribal group.
This was brilliantly captured in a comment piece in the Independent published in November 2008, which contained the following sentence: ‘A friend of mine has worked in child protection for 20 years and she says that, yes, there is a definite underclass.’ Well, there you have it – you can’t really argue with such searing social evidence.
Of course, there is such a thing as ‘poor people’ – people who have less money than you. But there isn’t really such a thing as ‘the poor’, meaning a whole swathe of society who allegedly share the same degraded morality and who are all promiscuous and fond of booze and so on. I think the service that ‘the poor’ provide for the political and chattering classes today is as a kind of fodder for moralism, a kind of endless pit of anecdotes and horror stories that are used to motor moralistic campaigns and moralistic commentary.
What we have today is a situation where all sorts of activists and thinkers basically go fishing for anecdotes in ‘underclass’ communities and then use those anecdotes to justify their own Victorian-style campaigns of pity or condemnation. This means that everyone has a tendency to see in ‘the poor’ what they want to see, what is most useful for them and for the promotion of their pet projects.
So for example, child-protection charities, or the child-protection racket as it ought to be called, see widespread depraved child abuse in poor communities. They always exaggerate it, of course, by lumping together everything from a child being slapped to a child being killed as examples of child abuse – because the more abuse there is, the more these charities can continue to justify their own miserable existences.
Likewise, domestic-violence charities imagine that wife-beating is rife on council estates and in poor communities, especially after tense football matches and during times of recession. That is why in 2009 the New Labour government, with the backing of domestic-violence campaigners, published a pamphlet advising women how to cope with ‘recession-related domestic violence’ – because it fantasises that poor men are naturally violent and that they therefore become more violent as they become more poor.
Campaigners concerned with food fantasise that ‘the poor’ spend all day eating so-called junk food. This means someone like Jamie Oliver can make utterly unfounded statements about the gastronomical depravity of poor people and nobody challenges him. He claims that in some ‘white trash’ communities – his words – children are eating such bad food that they are now vomiting up their faeces. This is complete nonsense, of course, a physical impossibility. Once again, it reveals far more about the base, scatological mindset of certain sections of the chattering classes than it does about life or dinnertime in less well-off communities.
Animal-welfare charities imagine that poor people are always mistreating their pets, especially their so-called dangerous dogs. This means that someone like Jon Snow, liberal London’s favourite newsreader, can say about dangerous dogs: these ‘violent uncontrollable animals… these beasts fulfil some animal instinct [within their owners]’.
Meanwhile, right-wing commentators concerned about the decline of manners and morality see in ‘the poor’ a tidal wave of foul language and disrespect. Christian groups worried about the state of the institution of marriage see in ‘the underclass’ too much fornication and too many single mums. Left-wing academics who find materialism distasteful see a rising tide of mental illness – or what they call ‘affluenza’ – amongst less well-off people who are only interested in acquiring more ‘stuff’ rather than becoming better people. And so on and so on.
Time and again, across the political spectrum, from the conservative right to the radical left, people cite ‘the poor’ and their depraved antics as a way of promoting their own prejudices. ‘The poor’ have become a kind of vast political library for politicians and opinion-formers, who go in, borrow an anecdote or a horrible image, and then use it to push their narrow political agendas.
The unreliability of this library, the fact that it is little more than a gallery of imaginary horrors that the chattering classes pilfer from, was brilliantly summed up in a recent Conservative Party report which claimed the following: ‘In the most deprived areas of England, 54 per cent are likely to fall pregnant before the age of 18.’ Actually, it’s not 54 per cent but 5.4 per cent. But decimal points don’t matter when your aim is simply to paint a picture of doom designed to make you look morally upstanding in contrast to the immoral poor.
The problem with all this stuff is not only that it is ill-informed and snobbish and annoying, although it is all of those things. The real problem is that this orgy of moralism towards ‘the poor’ increases and exacerbates the very thing that is actually denigrating poor communities today: external intervention.
The demand of all these underclass-obsessed agents of doom is always more state or political or charity intervention into poor people’s lives, whether it is more tough policing or what they call ‘tough love’. More CCTV cameras or more charity assistance. More cops on the street or more welfare handouts. More parenting classes, more relationship education, more psychological analysis, more food advice, more dog-training expertise… all of this and more is now offered to ‘the poor’, as every area of their lives becomes fair game for the meddling of experts and emissaries from the welfare state.
From the right to the left, there’s now a desire to lift ‘the poor’ out of their moral and economic squalor by re-educating them or wrapping the welfare safety net more tightly around them. This is a disaster, because the problem facing ‘the poor’ today is not their own moral turpitude or some natural propensity to violence and gluttony – it is the dictatorship of do-gooders that wants to colonise their lives. It is this dictatorship of do-gooders that weakens community bonds by inviting poor people to become more reliant on the state than they are on each other. It is this dictatorship of do-gooders that ruptures family ties by communicating to children the message that there are experts out there who are better at bringing them up than their own parents are. It is this dictatorship of do-gooders that undermines free-spiritedness and aspiration in less well-off communities by welfarising every aspect of their existences.
It is fashionable these days to talk about balancing freedom and responsibility, as if there is a contradiction between these two things. But there is no contradiction. Indeed, it is only through being free that you can become a morally responsible being. It is only through exercising freedom of thought and speech and choice that you can become morally autonomous and properly responsible for your life and its direction. As John Stuart Mill argued in On Liberty, ‘The human faculties of perception, judgement, discriminative feeling, mental activity and even moral preference are exercised only in making a choice. The mental and moral, like the muscular powers, are only improved by being used.’
Today, people’s mental and moral powers are being decommissioned, weakened, undermined, put out to pasture by the relentless intervention of the welfare, nanny and psychological states into their lives, constantly telling them how to parent, how to eat, even how to think about themselves and their futures. So next time one of those snobs obsessed with rescuing ‘the underclass’, and its children and its pets, wonders out loud why there seems to be a lack of spirit and drive in some poor communities, you should tell them: ‘It’s your fault. Get out.’