Female doctor said my burning hot baby was just teething – actually he had life-threatening meningitis
With the son she nearly lost
A mother who took her seriously-ill baby to an NHS walk-in centre was told he was merely teething. Michelle Plevin rushed her six-month-old son Carson to the centre in Oldham, Greater Manchester, after his temperature rose to 39.5C and he refused to eat or drink. But she was reassured by medics that he was teething and recommended Calpol.
Just hours later Carson turned blue, started fitting and was rushed to hospital where tests revealed that he had contracted bacterial meningitis, which left untreated can cause severe brain damage.
Over a five day period at Oldham Hospital the toddler was given urgent treatment, including oxygen and antibiotics, before being allowed to return home with his parents Michelle Plevin, 25 and father Craig Wright, 34.
Mother of four Michelle, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, is now angry that doctors failed to spot the serious condition. She said: ‘I’m still so upset because if he didn’t start fitting and turning blue I wouldn’t have rang the ambulance – the walk in centre should’ve spotted that something wasn’t right. ‘It was awful – he couldn’t breathe and he was so dehydrated and looked awful in hospital with all the tubes in his nose and the needles in his arm.’
The incident occurred after Michelle, a part time hairdressing student, noticed Cason’s symptoms and decided to seek medical treatment. But unable to get an appointment with her own GP she took him to the Integrated Care Centre in Oldham, Greater Manchester where a doctor checked him over, misdiagnosed his condition and sent him away.
Michelle said: ‘I didn’t think it was teething because I’ve got three kids and I know what teething is. Yet you assume doctors know best and I took her word for it. ‘If I would have ignored my instinct and just listened to the drop in then he might not have been here today. ‘A nurse said if I hadn’t seen him having those fits, he could have died.’
Now Michelle, her GP, and GP practice manager are set to submit a formal complaint to the walk-in service, where a full investigation is underway.
David Beckett, chief executive of Go To Doc, a body which runs the medical centre, said: ‘We fully understand the distress the situation must have caused Carson’s family and while we await a formal complaint I would urge them to get in touch with us so we can fully understand their concerns.
‘Our preliminary assessment suggested that the advice given was suitable for the symptoms Cason presented with at the time.’
Mother Michelle, who suffered from septicemia meningitis three years ago, hopes that this will help others spot the signs of meningitis, as the rash – one of the most common signals – wasn’t present in her or Carson’s case. She added: ‘All we want is if someone goes to the drop in and gets sent away and they’re not happy then don’t think there’s anything wrong in asking for a second opinion.’
In 2008 and 2009 in England and Wales, around 1,166 cases of meningitis were caused by bacteria which is most common in children under five years old.
UK border chief axed passport controls: Top civil servant faces firing over decision that left Britain open to terrorists and criminals
Vital border checks for criminals and terrorists were secretly abandoned over the summer.
In a major new immigration fiasco, three senior officials – including the £135,000-a-year head of the UK Border Force – have been suspended.
There are fears that hundreds of thousands of travellers waltzed into Britain without crucial vetting.
Unknown to ministers, guards were allegedly told not to bother checking biometric chips on passports of citizens from outside the EU to ensure they are not fraudsters.
More worryingly, staff were also instructed not to bother checking their fingerprints or other personal details against the Home Office’s so-called Warnings Index. This contains the names of terror suspects and illegal immigrants who must be refused entry to the UK to keep the public safe.
The nightmare scenario is that a banned fanatic slipped through the net while the lax regime was in place between July and the start of this month.
It is understood the decisions were taken to keep queues at busy ports and airports to a minimum and avoid complaints by holidaymakers and tourists.
The Home Secretary is said to be furious. Border Force head Brodie Clark was suspended on Thursday after allegedly confirming that he had authorised abandoning specific checks at ports including Heathrow and Calais.
Two more top officials, Graeme Kyle, the director of the UK Border Agency at Heathrow, and Carole Upshall, director of the Border Force South and European Operation, have also been suspended on the orders of Theresa May. She has ordered an investigation by David Wood, a former Met Police officer, to establish the scale of the scandal.
A second probe will take place into the role and activity of UKBA officials working for Mr Clark – who was once placed on gardening leave by a previous home secretary, John Reid, in an unrelated scandal concerning foreign criminals.
A senior source said criminal charges could be brought against anyone found to have put Britain’s borders at risk.
The revelations come after MPs revealed how the UK Border Agency – dubbed ‘not fit for purpose by Dr Reid – had ‘lost track’ of 124,000 asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.
The latest row centres on the range of checks which UKBA officials are supposed to conduct against travellers as they arrive in the UK.
These checks are a mixture of regular measures applied to all passengers, plus additional ‘risk-based measures’ applied on the discretion of UKBA officers.
The regular measures include checking the passenger’s passport and biometric chip. This establishes if the picture inside the passport is the same as that electronically stored by the Home Office. It is considered vital to avoid fraud and illegal immigration, and biometric chips are now fitted as standard.
In addition, passports are also checked against the Warnings Index, which contains the names of excluded foreign nationals and individuals of concern.
For non-EU ‘visa nationals’, other measures such as the verification of fingerprints are mandatory. Further risk-based measures include secondary interviews.
In July, ministers gave approval to pilot a system that would allow officials to apply a ‘risk-based approach’ to a limited number of passenger checks.
Officials say this meant that in limited circumstances EU nationals would have their biometric chip checked upon the discretion of a UKBA official instead of automatically.
In addition, EU-national children travelling with their families or in school groups would, in limited circumstances, be run against the Warnings Index upon the discretion of a UKBA official instead of automatically.
Ministers insisted all other passengers would continue to have their passport and biometric chip checked and would be checked against the Warnings Index
But instead, Mr Clark is alleged to have authorised UKBA officials to abandon biometric checks on non-EU nationals, the verification of the fingerprints of non-EU nationals, and Warnings Index checks.
Asked about his suspension last night, Mr Clark said: ‘Who told you that?’ He declined to comment further. A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Head of UKBA Border Force Brodie Clark has been suspended.’
Oxford Tories’ nights of port and “Nazi” songs
The “Nazi” song is no such thing. It is one of the many instances of well-known songs being reworded with “naughty” words. It is in fact a sendup of “Jingle Bells”. I give below the usual first lines:
“Riding through the Reich, in a big Mercedes Benz
Shooting lots of kikes, making lots of friends”
It is just satire. Singing it was of course unwise but it does not indicate Nazi sympathies. It is just “mucking up” in the time-honoured student way — as is of course the excessive consumption of alcohol and the follies that flow from that
And in the context of the deplorable descent into alcohol abuse by British youth generally in recent years, consuming a third of a bottle of port in a night could in fact be seen as moderate
With two prime ministers and 13 cabinet ministers among its alumni, the Oxford University Conservative Association has become a conveyor belt for future leaders since it was founded in 1924.
But the student body, whose patron is Baroness Thatcher, is facing potentially the biggest crisis in its history after its own officers accused members of anti-Semitism, debauchery and snobbery at its alcohol-fuelled meetings.
Four of the Association’s most senior members have announced they will be resigning after members allegedly sang a Nazi-themed song, while others complained that members from working-class backgrounds were ridiculed by a clique of former public schoolboys.
Students are now facing possible disciplinary action by both the University and the Conservative Party, both of which have launched investigations.
OUCA, whose honorary president is William Hague, uses its website to promote a public image of studious debate, with recent guest speakers including Sir John Major and Iain Duncan Smith.
At its weekly “port and policy” meetings, however, drunkenness and discrimination have been the main items on the agenda, according to some disillusioned members.
One officer claimed that members regularly sang a song which includes the words: “Dashing through the Reich…killing lots of kike (Jews).”
The Daily Telegraph has been shown a video of one of the members reciting the first line of the song before a friend silences him, saying, “No, no!”
Matters came to a head this week after a series of emails in which senior members express concerns about the “absolutely disgraceful” behaviour at meetings were leaked to The Oxford Student newspaper.
One officer told the newspaper that “lots of people were singing (the song) that night, and indeed on many other nights”.
Joe Cooke, who was president of OUCA during this year’s spring term, is one of the senior members who have decided to resign.
He told The Daily Telegraph he was quitting “because of the extent of the debauchery” at meetings, where the annual bill for port runs to £10,000, the equivalent of a third of a bottle per person per meeting.
“It has become more like a pub than a political association,” he said, likening the meetings to those of the Bullingdon Club, the drinking club once frequented by David Cameron.
“I am committed to the Conservative Party but this association has come to represent everything we’re supposed to stand against,” he added.
The students’ antics are a far cry from the days when the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Edward Heath and Theresa May were members.
At one recent event, OUCA’s returning officer, Tom Hendriks, was photographed pouring alcohol into a pith helmet as another student drank through a hole in the top.
Another picture shows a fancy dress party in which one student is dressed as Baroness Thatcher, while another is dressed as a miner and a third is holding a sign saying “miners love shafting”.
Mr Cooke, 21, who is a former comprehensive school pupil from Barnsley, added that when he spoke at meetings after he first joined the Association “I was ridiculed for my accent…they would say things like ‘ee bah gum’ and create a culture of intimidation”.
OUCA has faced repeated accusations of racism in the past. In 2000 four members were expelled for making Nazi-style salutes and in 2009 Oxford University temporarily banned OUCA from using “Oxford University” in its name after two candidates made racist jokes at a hustings meeting.
James Lawson, a student at St Edmund Hall college and president of OUCA, said: “I haven’t seen the video yet and we are investigating to find out whether this was a member of the Association.
“If it turns out this person is a member we will take immediate action to expel them from the Association. Racism has no place in the Association or our society.”
OUCA is the biggest single organisation within Conservative Future, the body for young Tories which is run from the party’s London headquarters.
A spokesman for the Conservative Party said: “Racism of any kind has absolutely no place in the Conservative Party, and we will look into any allegation against a party member as a matter of urgency.”
A spokesman for Oxford University said: “The University Proctors, who are responsible for discipline, have been made aware of the article and will be considering whether there are grounds for further investigation.”
Bright pupils struggling with basic grammar, says top head
One of Britain’s top private schools is introducing back-to-basics lessons in grammar amid fears that growing numbers of new pupils lack the most basic command of written English.
St Paul’s Girls’ School has been forced to stage a crash course in simple grammatical rules because too many young children struggle with the correct use of capital letters, plurals, commas, full-stops and irregular verbs.
Clarissa Farr, the school’s High Mistress, suggested that “proper grammar” had a bad image and feared that many primary schools were failing to teach the subject in case children found it boring.
It was also claimed that some pupils’ written English was being undermined by the use of mobile phones and the internet.
St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith, west London, is now staging traditional lessons in grammar for all children aged 11 to 14 to address the concerns.
For the first time this term, girls are being given a dedicated class every fortnight covering a full range of issues such as sentence structure and the use of commas, colons and full-stops. It will also cover confusing words, capital letters and formal and informal speech.
The move comes after the Government announced earlier this year that pupils would lose marks in GCSE exams for poor spelling, punctuation and grammar amid concerns over falling standards of English.
Ms Farr said: “You would think that we might be attracting pupils who already have a pretty strong command of English grammar given that we’re very strong academically and that we expect a very high standard from the pupils that we test for admission. “However, the reality is that a lot of our students don’t have even a basic command, as we would see it, of the rules of conventional grammar when they arrive.”
Some 93.2 per cent of A-levels sat by sixth-formers at the fee-paying school this summer were graded A* or A. It also has a higher proportion of pupils accepted into Oxbridge than almost any other school.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Ms Farr said many new pupils were highly imaginative but struggled to express their ideas accurately on the page. “Maybe there’s a message here for what needs to be going on at primary level,” she added. “There appears to have been a shying away from the teaching of these basic skills, maybe for fear that they are dull or seen as too hard.
“Actually, they do not need to be dull. Girls are finding that they can be quite enjoyable and can give them a tremendous sense of achievement.”
The school has devised a structured programme of grammar lessons for all pupils in the first three years of school. Dr Jonathan Patrick, the school’s head of English, who devised the curriculum, said common mistakes included “comma splicing” – when pupils wrongly employ a comma to join two independent clauses.
Other frequent errors include the misuse of common words, including “however” as a straight replacement for “but”, “less” instead of “fewer” and confusing the terms “number” and “amount”, he said.
He suggested that screen-based technology may be damaging children’s writing skills. “I think that most young people are dealing with text or writing either through a mobile phone or computer and I do think that standards across the board [are suffering],” he said.
“My friends still laugh at me for using colons and semi-colons in text messages but they are in danger of dying out. We have to accept that this is where young people are using language most frequently – in electronic forms – and therefore maybe the principles need to be restated.”