Breast cancer scandal: hundreds of women who had surgery will be recalled in case operations were botched
It seems to me that the surgeon below is guilty of a bureaucratic offence rather than a medical one. Radical mastectomies are now rather old-fashioned. “Lumpectomies” are now often performed for cosmetic reasons at the request of the patient and recurrence under that procedure is low, as I understand it. Breast-conserving surgery or “lumpectomy” is in fact the most common form of breast cancer surgery today. The surgeon below in fact appears to have taken far more tissue than a lumpectomy so may have got results not significantly different from a radical mastectomy
Hundreds of women treated for breast cancer by a senior surgeon are being warned their operations may have been botched – increasing the change of the disease returning.
More than 700 patients who were treated by consultant surgeon Ian Paterson are being urgently referred to specialists for new examinations in case their health has been put at risk.
Several are already facing further surgery to reduce the risk that the disease will return. They include Claire Mullane, 53, left “shattered” when she realised that she would have to undergo another operation, two years after a mastectomy had been completed.
And another woman has already received a substantial out of court settlement because her cancer returned after Mr Paterson undertook the procedure.
Mr Paterson was banned by the General Medical Council from carrying out breast surgery in July, after it was found he was performing experimental “cleavage sparing” procedures, which left a small amount of tissue for cosmetic reasons. This breached national guidelines which say that leaving tissue after a mastectomy increases the likelihood of cancer recurring.
Now every woman given a mastectomy under his care at Solihull Hospital, in the West Midlands since 1998, as well as 150 women who were treated by the consultant at two private clinics, are being written to and told they must by reassessed urgently by a specialist. At least 120 of the women have yet to be told that they will be referred to an independent surgeon – and still more cases may be identified by a review which is under way.
The number of women being contacted makes it one of the biggest such cases to hit the NHS and was described as “deeply concerning” by a medical negligence lawyer.
The biggest NHS scandal in botched surgery involved Rodney Ledward, who dubbed himself “the fastest gynaecologist in the South East”. He was found by an independent inquiry in 2000 to have bungled more than 400 operations, leaving women mutilated.
Mr Paterson worked for the NHS hospital as a breast cancer surgeon from 1998 until he was excluded earlier this year, and at two private clinics, Little Aston, in Sutton Coldfield, and Parkway Hospital in Solihull, from 2000 until August, after the GMC took action against him, following an investigation.
He had already been told in 2007 by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Solihull hospital, to stop using the method – but it was not until this summer that regulators barred him from performing any breast surgery.
Now the trust has begun a review of all 573 women who had mastectomies under his care between 1998 and 2011. The trust said that so far, more than 500 women have been contacted and advised to have their treatment reassessed, to see if further surgery is required.
The hospital said it did not yet have enough information to say how many women were facing further surgery, or how many had developed cancer, or could even have died from it since being treated by the surgeon.
Several of the consultant’s patients have already undergone further operations, with one being told that without more surgery, the chance of the cancer returning was 40 to 50 per cent higher than it would normally be.
The 2007 review of breast surgery at Solihull hospital found that the surgeon had introduced the experimental practice without following guidance which governs the introduction of new techniques, to ensure careful monitoring. After establishing that the approach was “not considered appropriate” the method was stopped.
The NHS trust said it then began identifying patients who may have undergone the procedure – but four years later, 70 patients have still to be contacted. The hospital is still checking files to detect any more cases and expects all women to be seen at clinics by next March.
Private operator Spire Healthcare has so far approached 100 of approximately 150 women who underwent breast surgery at their two Birmingham clinics in the past decade. The company said the surgeon claimed that he had stopped doing the “cleavage sparing” procedure in its clinics from 2007, following the review by the NHS. But patients are concerned that he was using the method as recently as 2009.
Claire Mullane, 53, from Solihull, was treated for breast cancer at Parkway Spire clinic. She paid more than £8,000 so that she could undergo a mastectomy quickly, once breast cancer had been found.
Mrs Mullane said there was little discussion about the details of the operation, in January 2009, but that when she came round, Mr Paterson told her that he had “left some cleavage” to assist with any future reconstruction of the breast.
It was not until almost two years later, when her husband read a local newspaper article about an NHS investigation into the surgeon, that she learned that there was anything unusual about what he had done. The council worker said: “I had no idea that the operation he had done was not the normal procedure. He had described it afterwards as though it was completely routine.”
Mrs Mullane says she contacted the clinic, and was told by a breast care nurse that there was no reason to be concerned, and suggested putting her in touch with a group for breast cancer sufferers. Instead, the mother-of-three contacted her GP, who referred her to the NHS. It now plans further surgery to remove the tissue left by Mr Paterson.
She said: “When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I felt very vulnerable and in that situation you build up trust in your doctor. It was shattering – not only did the clinic never contact me about the concerns, but when I contacted them, they fobbed me off.”
Mrs Mullane decided to speak about her surgery and treatment said she did not like talking about what had happened to her, but was speaking publicly to encourage women who had mastectomies by the surgeon to come forward. Spire Healthcare said it would contact Mrs Mullane and was concerned she felt did not receive the standard of care the company aimed to deliver.
She is one of 13 legal cases taken up by medical negligence experts Irwin Mitchell, one of eight legal firms in Birmingham which are between them already considering approximately 50 cases.
Victoria Blankstone, a medical negligence solicitor with the legal firm, said: “I’m absolutely staggered by the numbers of patients involved in this; it is really worrying for these women, and it is deeply concerning that the hospitals have been so slow to act.”
Earlier this year, another patient of Mr Paterson received a substantial out of court settlement following the return of her cancer, five years after the operation, in 2003.
The return of her cancer was only detected five years later when a nurse carrying out a mammogram was concerned about the amount of tissue left on the removed breast. The woman, 62, had previously questioned the surgeon about the operation, after another cancer specialist said not enough tissue had been taken, but Mr Paterson dismissed her concerns. An independent report into the woman’s care concluded that she was “almost guaranteed a recurrence of cancer” with the treatment she received.
Mr Paterson refused to discuss the case as he left his £1.5 million grade II listed Georgian home, in Edgbaston, yesterday morning, with his wife. She said: “I’m afraid we can’t stop. Were on a tight schedule today.”
The Medical Defence Union, which is representing the surgeon, said it could not comment because of patient confidentiality.
Jeremy Clarkson ignites the hypocrisy of the Left
It’s OK for Leftists to make jokes in poor taste but not OK for others
Jeremy Clarkson has apologised for saying that strikers should be taken out and shot in front of their families. I suppose that was the right thing to do. To be honest, it’s a bit hard for me to judge because public-sector whingeing makes my own trigger finger itch. But the “in front of their families” bit was gratuitous even by Clarkson’s standards.
I like to think, though, that even if I were a Lefty I’d be able to tell the difference between saloon-bar rhetoric, in which being taken out and shot is the punishment for everything from paedophilia to leaving your wheelie bin on the pavement, and a really nasty joke.
Such as, for example, making fun of the physical appearance of disabled children.
That’s what the comedian Jimmy Carr did. “Why are they called Sunshine Variety coaches when all the kids on them look the f——same?” he asked in his most recent live show. Geddit? Children with Down’s syndrome have similar features. Not much “variety” there, eh? They’re all the same! Boom-boom!
Some friends of mine have children with Down’s syndrome. It’s a tremendously difficult disability, but the quality of love between the parents and child often seems especially intense, as if to help them meet the challenge. In my opinion, anyone who exploits this condition for a stand-up cackle is, if you’ll forgive a descent into Carr-speak, a f—––– sicko.
Jimmy Carr apologised. Sort of. But not before he’d defended his joke. “It was the 238th gig of the tour and nobody has complained so far,” he said – untruthfully. A mother of a child with Down’s syndrome complained about the joke a year ago. She begged him to remove it from his stage show. Carr didn’t even reply to her letter.
Still, I can believe that he told that joke hundreds of times without anyone in his right-on audience complaining. These aren’t people who would guffaw at the sight of a Sunshine coach. But they don’t mind Jimmy Carr crossing that line because gags about the disabled are “edgy” if made by comedians with radical political views.
This isn’t the only example. Ricky Gervais likes to throw around the word “mong”, short for “mongol”. What is it about Down’s syndrome that tickles the funny bone of Lefty comics? I suppose they’re so afraid of sounding racist, sexist etc that there aren’t many minorities left. And the kids don’t answer back.
All political tendencies exhibit double standards but the Left gets away with murder. This week saw the publication of an excellent article in Commentary magazine in which Jonathan Foreman tried to explain to a US readership why the Independent isn’t sacking its columnist Johann Hari, whom we now know is a plagiarist, fantasist and slanderous liar. Foreman’s conclusion was spot on. Hari escaped sacking because he told the right kind of lies, ones that amused liberal opinion-formers.
Twitter, needless to say, heartily embraces the double standards of the Left. It went bananas over Clarkson. Misery princess and New Statesman hack Laurie Penny declared: “I am ashamed to have a passport the same colour as the crypto-fascist propagandist Jeremy Clarkson. Whose salary, btw, is publically [sic] funded.”
Strangely, I have been unable to find a tweet from Laurie condemning Carr, with whom she appeared on the “edgy” but sanctimonious Channel 4 programme 10 O’Clock Live. But she did remind us that November 20 was Transgender Day of Remembrance. Must put that in the diary for next year. Do you think Jimmy or Ricky have some jokes up their sleeves about transsexuals? I doubt it, somehow. Wrong sort of minority.
March of the PC brigade: Atheists in court battle to ban Britain’s town hall prayers
An atheist campaign to ban the historic practice of saying prayers at council meetings yesterday found its way to the High Court.
Former councillor Clive Bone, backed by an anti-religious campaign group, claims the tradition breaches his human right to freedom of belief. Mr Bone said he was ‘disadvantaged and embarrassed’ when Christian prayers were said in the council chamber.
Backed by the National Secular Society, Mr Bone wants prayers to be ruled out of the formal agenda of any local authority meetings.
His case reached the High Court yesterday at the culmination of a three-year campaign. Success could open the way for a drive to force Parliament to abandon saying prayers as part of Commons and Lords business.
The NSS has based its legal challenge on the claim that Mr Bone, as an atheist, should not be subjected to religious ritual, and that to do so breaks his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
However it was revealed yesterday that he is no longer a councillor in Bideford in Devon. Town clerk Heather Blackburn confirmed: ‘Mr Bone did not stand for re-election in May 2011.’
The Society said yesterday: ‘The NSS is taking Bideford Town Council to court after receiving a complaint from one of its councillors, Clive Bone, that he was disadvantaged and embarrassed as a non-believer by the saying of prayers as part of council business.
‘He has either to sit through them or leave the room without leave of the Mayor. The Council even rejected a suggested compromise period of silence.’
Its lawyer David Wolfe, told Mr Justice Ouseley in the High Court: ‘The claimants challenge the town council’s practice of holding religious prayers. ‘We say the conduct of holding prayers within the formal part of the meeting is an unlawful practice.’
Bideford council has voted to keep its prayers. Similar decisions have been taken by other town councils in Devon when the argument has been raised over the past three years.
The council’s legal defence is being aided by another pressure group, the Christian Institute. Mike Judge, of the Institute, said: ‘The Council have debated this several times. They’ve debated it, they’ve sought advice, they’ve held special meetings and they’ve voted on it.
‘And the majority of them said, actually we would like to continue with this practice. It cannot be unlawful for the Council to say prayers if it has democratically chosen to do so.’
Ministers yesterday indicated support for the council. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he could not comment on the issues before the High Court, but added: ‘This Government recognises and respects the role that faith communities play in our society.
‘Prayers are an important part of the religious and cultural fabric of the British nation. While the decision on whether to hold prayers is a matter for local councils, we believe they should have the freedom to do so.’
Mr Bone, a management consultant, is in his 60s and describes himself as ‘semi-retired’. He is a regular contributor of letters to newspapers on subjects ranging from engineering to the forthcoming remake of the Dambusters film.
British teacher suspended for ‘gross misconduct’ after giving stranded dyslexic pupil a lift
What a messed-up world we live in!
A supply teacher has been suspended for ‘gross misconduct’ after giving a lift to a 17-year-old pupil. Martin Davis, who has been teaching for 23 years, risks losing his job permanently because he drove a dyslexic boy home when the student did not have money for the bus. He said: ‘I still can’t believe what’s happened. I was just trying to do this boy a favour and now I could be out of a job.’
Mr Davis, 58, who teaches maths and science, is appealing against the judgement by the recruitment agency for which he worked.
He had been posted to Tyne Metropolitan College, in North Tyneside, and was giving individual support to a number of dyslexic boys. Two weeks ago, he agreed to give one of his pupils a lift home after school because the boy had forgotten his bus fare.
But father-of-two Mr Davis was later told by a school official that he had been ‘stupid’ to agree to take the pupil in his car, and he apologised.
Brook Street recruitment agency then told him he would not be allowed to return to the school because of his alleged gross misconduct.
When he tried to argue against this decision, agency bosses led him to believe that he had been dismissed, and he has now been told that he must not work until an investigation into his actions has been concluded.
He told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I spoke to the class tutor and she was devastated. I also spoke to the boy in question to say goodbye and he was upset and angry about what was happening because he said I had been a great help to him.’
The agency claimed it was only following ‘procedures’. A spokesman said: ‘The worker in question has acknowledged there is a safeguarding issue, and he has been suspended whilst we complete this investigation, which is required by regulation.’
Tyne Metropolitan College said it had no involvement in the decision to suspend Mr Davis.
Jab that may halt Alzheimer’s before it can destroy lives
A jab that could transform millions of lives by tackling Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages is being tested on British patients. Some 50 men and women with mild memory problems will be given monthly injections of a drug described as their best chance of warding off the disease.
The first jabs have just been given and there is still time for volunteers to join the trial. It could be in widespread use in five years.
Unlike other drugs, which are given once dementia has taken hold, the new medication is designed to set to work when symptoms are confined to slight memory lapses. The drug, called gantenerumab, is not expected to be a cure, but slowing the development of dementia would allow people to live normally for longer, delaying the time when they have to give up work and perhaps go into care.
Experts say this would be ‘life-changing’, and estimate that delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years could halve the number who die with the condition, currently a third of over-65s.
Dr Richard Perry, the Alzheimer’s expert leading one of the British trials, said: ‘There is no guarantee but this is the best chance of a medication that is going to affect the underlying condition at the earliest stage.’
Current drugs tackle the symptoms of Alzheimer’s rather than the underlying damage, and are given once it has taken hold. They do not work for everyone and the effects wear off after time. In contrast gantenerumab, made by Roche, is designed to be given up to four years before the disease has been diagnosed. It is aimed at people with memory problems that have caused them concern but who are still able to go about their day-to-day lives.
It contains an antibody that homes in on amyloid, the toxic protein that clogs the brain in Alzheimer’s, and speeds up its clearance from the body.
In small-scale early trials on men and women who already had Alzheimer’s, it cut the amount of amyloid in the brain by up to a third in just six months, the journal Archives of Neurology reports.
It is hoped that giving it earlier would be even more effective and the drug is now being tested on 360 people in 15 countries with mild memory problems that are expected to progress to dementia.
To take part in the trial, people must be aged between 50 and 89 and have memory problems that are causing them concern. A lumbar puncture will confirm that amyloid is building up in their system, although they have yet to be diagnosed with dementia. Those taking part in the Scarlet Road Study trial will be given gantenerumab every month for two years, or a dummy drug.
Dr Perry, a consultant neurologist at London’s Charing Cross Hospital and at the Re:Cognition Health memory clinic, said: ‘We know that the amyloid is there for many years beforehand and it is thought that if you are going to reduce the amounts to have an effect, we have got to do that before people have significant damage.’
Barbara Sahakian, a professor at Cambridge University’s psychiatry department, said she was ‘thrilled’ by the launch of the trial. She said: ‘The implications are far-reaching. ‘On a personal level, being able to stay at work and maintain your family life and all your hobbies and interests would be just fabulous.
‘There are also great implications for relatives and for society. Institutional care is extremely expensive and if we had effective treatments, we could use that money in a different way.’
Dr Marie Janson of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: ‘Although research into gantenerumab is still in its early phases, initial results have looked promising.’
A referee’s report on a paper by Hulme of the UEA
Mike Hulme is a professor of Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia (UEA). In October 2000 he founded the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. So he is a big star among Warmist scientists. The review (apparently by Keith Briffa) of one of his papers is therefore revealing. The review could scarcely be more scathing, ripping apart Hulme’s analytical methods and accusing him of “massaging” the data. That is the character of a man upon whom Warmist place much reliance.
The review has come to light courtesy of email 977 in the Claimategate II release
Review of “1000 years of rainfall variability in the Sahel: an evaluation of a long-term climate model simulation against observational data”, by N. Brooks and M. Hulme.
This paper deals with a clearly defined topic, but has several shortcomings that make it unacceptable for publication. These are
1) inadequacy of the model for studying the Sahel,
2) poor validation of the model, and
3) arbitrary and unjustified statistical analyses. I am also uncomfortable with their interpretation of results. Finally, and this is a minor issue, I think better literature could be cited. When several papers were available for citation about a certain point, the choice was generally a minor paper, with the most important papers being omitted. There is a tendency to cite “soft science” literature in places where more technical literature is appropriate.
1. Model and Model Validation: A validation attempt was made via comparison of statistics such as the mean, season cycle, and time spectra. However, in doing so the authors compared statistics for this century with those for a 1000-year model run. There is no reason to assume that these periods are statistically comparable. Indeed, the results suggest they are not.
However, some aspects of the climate can be considered fairly stable, such as the summer rainy season. The model produces less than 50% of its rainfall in July, July, August, compared to about 80% in the “real world”.
It also shows many years in which rainfall approaches zero in the rainy season. The proper validation approach would have been to compare a 20th century simulation with the observed statistics. Further, it is important to show that the model can capture the mean spatial pattern and the real temporal variability of the observed data. This was not done.
2. The model results are extensively “massaged”, using what appear to be arbitrarily chosen filters of 9 years, 25 years, 45 years, 96 years and 101 years. This is compared with unfiltered observational data. What is the justification of these particular filters, how do they affect the results. Is it appropriate to do statistical analyses, such as spectra, on the filtered series?
3. As a result of all of this statistical manipulation, it is difficult to follow what the authors do. It is even more difficult to judge their results and its statistical significance. This is particular problematic when a major results is correlations for thousands of grid points (Fig. 8.).
If this work were to be revised, much more attention would have to be paid to the statistical approach and to validating the results. At the moment I have no confidence in any of the conclusions draw from this simulation.
A very shaky hockeystick
The “hockeystick” picture of past temperatures was based on “reconstructions” of temperature from proxy data such as tree-rings. But tree rings are a very poor index of temperature and the excerpt from a Cimategate II email shows that the Warmist scientists knew that. Tom Wigley is writing to Michael Mann:
“A word of warning. I would be careful about using other, independent paleo reconstruction work as supporting the MBH reconstructions. I am attaching my version of a comparison of the bulk of these other reconstructions. Although these all show the hockey stick shape, the differences between them prior to 1850 make me very nervous. If I were on the greenhouse deniers’ side, I would be inclined to focus on the wide range of paleo results and the differences between them as an argument for dismissing them all.”