Family devastated after healthy daughter dies following routine operation
Nobody gave a damn until too late so a woman died
A grief-stricken family have been left asking how a “fit and healthy” woman could go into hospital for a routine operation, only for her to die four days later.
Joanna Henderson, a management consultant, had gone into hospital for a routine operation to remove her gallbladder and believed when she came round from sedation that it had gone well. She was looking forward to returning home and even rang her mother to ask for a lift.
But four days later Ms Henderson, a “fit and healthy” woman was dead – killed by a series of fatal mistakes.
A coroner’s inquest last week found that the 41 year-old died from multiple organ failure “resulting from intra-surgical complications”. During the operation Jeremy Thompson, the surgeon, had accidentally severed key blood vessels.
Clinical staff at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, in west London, also failed to pass on the results of crucial blood tests which could have led to life-saving action being taken more promptly.
Westminster coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe found that Ms Henderson’s care also suffered from the high turnover of doctors caused by European Union rules limiting their working hours.
Following the damning verdict Ms Henderson’s family are now preparing to sue the hospital trust for negligence.
Judith Gunton, Ms Henderson’s mother, said: “The loss of my daughter has been devastating for all her family and her huge circle of friends. What happened was an horrendous shock to us – there is no word big enough to describe it.
“A fit young woman goes into hospital for a routine operation and doesn’t come out, other than to be rushed with blue lights across London to a second hospital, where she dies.”
Ms Henderson elected to undergo surgery after suffering problems with her gallbladder.
But the inquest heard that during the operation, on August 17 last year, Mr Thompson “caused an injury” to the right branch of her portal vein and the right hepatic artery – which distribute oxygen-depleted blood to the liver,
As a result “it was necessary to undertake a repair which meant clamping the blood supply to the liver. During this clamping the right lobe of the liver suffered a period of ischemia and was subsequently infected”, the inquest heard.
Dr Radcliffe found that following the operation “there was a lack of communication” between the surgeon and other staff about the risk of liver ischemia – a restriction in the blood supply. A blood sample which would have given an indication of the potential for liver ischemia “was not acted upon”.
Rather than being readmitted to intensive care for an urgent CAT scan Ms Henderson was moved onto a surgical ward on August 18. On waking, and under the impression the operation had gone well, Ms Henderson telephoned her mother to ask if she could give her a lift home, saying she expected to be discharged shortly.
But in the early hours of August 19, Ms Henderson’s condition suddenly deteriorated and she was moved back to intensive care, suffering from “very severe acidosis”, a condition in which the acidity in the blood increases.
Dr Radcliffe found that “despite intensive treatment it was not possible to correct the acidosis.
A CAT scan revealed infarction of the right lobe of the liver”, meaning that the tissue in her liver was dying due to a lack of oxygen as a result of an obstruction to the blood supply.
Later that day Ms Henderson was transferred to the liver unit at King’s College Hospital, in Camberwell, south London.
However, Dr Radcliffe found that the hours of acute metabolic instability she had suffered proved “too much of an insult to her body and slowly her organs began to shut down and give up the fight”. Two days later, despite intensive resuscitation and surgery, Ms Henderson died of multi-organ failure.
Dr Radcliffe said the restriction on doctors’ hours laid down in the European working time directive had resulted in a frequent turnover of medical staff, “rather than the continuous care that used to be provided”.
She said that in Ms Henderson’s case that might have made the difference between a doctor realising the importance of a liver function test and a new junior doctor arriving on the ward without that knowledge. “That blood test was missed. It was never one thing, it was a number of small things. That blood test could have been another opportunity for awareness of underlying conditions,” said Dr Radcliffe.
“It is not possible to say her life would have been saved with an earlier transfer, but on the whole, the earlier you get treatment, the better the outcome.”
Mrs Gunton, of Richmond, west London, said: “Joanna believed she was having a routine operation and would be out and about with speed. “Indeed on the day of the operation there was even talk of her being out ‘some time after 6’ and she asked me if I would pick her up. “We are so grateful to King’s College for all they did in their fantastic liver unit to try to save her.
“Nothing can bring her back, but we hope that changes that are being made within the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital will mean that other parents, families and friends do not have to go through the same ghastliness as we have had to. “She lives on thanks to the marvellous 41 years and 3 months of glorious memories we have of her.”
Ms Henderson’s friend and neighbour, Loma Halden, a books editor, said: “Joanna wasn’t at all the type to worry about going into hospital. “She’d never have thought there was going to be a problem. At first she seemed fine.
“She had come round from the operation and all seemed OK. When she woke up she called her family to arrange for them to pick her up, but then she suddenly deteriorated.”
Ms Halden added: “She was a wonderful, vibrant young woman who had a very successful career. It is terribly, terribly sad. And what makes it so much worse is that it sounds as if her death could have been avoided.”
Mr Thompson is a consultant surgeon with more than 30 years experience of gastrointestinal surgery. As well as carrying out NHS work at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and the Royal Marsden in Fulham, west London, he has a private practice at the Lister Hospital, in Chelsea. He is also the co-author of Clinical Surgery, described as an “authoritative and comprehensive textbook for medical students and residents”.
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital said it had implemented the recommendations of an internal investigation into Ms Henderson’s death and would implement the coroner’s additional recommendations.
It said it was working with its provider of pathology services to improve the communication of urgent blood results, and that the “communication of patient information between medical teams working on a shift basis has been thoroughly reviewed and actions have been put in place”.
Heather Lawrence, Chelsea and Westminster’s chief executive, said: “The Trust has apologised to the family and we extend our deepest sympathies and regret to them for Joanna Henderson’s untimely and unexpected death.” Mr Thompson declined to comment.
Top British judge ordered to scrap human rights ruling
Britain’s most senior immigration judge has been ordered to scrap a ruling which allowed a foreign killer to stay in Britain on human rights grounds.
Court of Appeal judges quashed the ruling in which Mr Justice Blake and a colleague allowed Rocky Gurung, from Nepal, to remain in the UK. They said the original judgment suffered from an “error of approach” and looked like “a search for reasons for not deporting him”.
The decision landed Mr Justice Blake in a second controversy, only days after he was criticised for permitting an Indian male nurse to remain in Britain following a jail term for indecently assaulting a woman patient.
It is expected to increase pressure on immigration judges amid growing concerns over how criminals are exploiting human rights laws.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has expressed alarm at the way human rights are preventing dangerous offenders and terrorists such as Abu Qatada from being deported.
Damian Green, the immigration minister, last night joined relatives of Gurung’s victim in welcoming the Court of Appeal’s decision. It means the case will now have to be heard again by the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber, of which Mr Justice Blake is president.
Gurung came to Britain in 2005, just three years before he committed the crime. The victim of his attack, Bishal Gurung (no relation), was a hard-working waiter whose father Cpl Khem Barsad Gurung served with the Gurkhas for 16 years.
In April 2008 Bishal was working at a Nepalese restaurant in Esher, Surrey, when he came to London to celebrate Nepalese new year. After leaving a party on a boat on the Thames in the early hours he was chased along the Embankment by 10 to 15 men including Rocky Gurung. The Old Bailey heard the gang falsely accused Bishal of hitting another man, Kemik Thakali, with a bottle.
One witness told the court that Bishal was “on his hands and knees” being kicked or beaten by seven or eight men and was then thrown into the river by Rocky Gurung and Thakali, from Morden, south-west London. Bishal’s body was in the Thames for two weeks before it was found.
Rocky Gurung and Thakali were both jailed for three years for manslaughter. The law says offenders jailed for 12 months or more are subject to “automatic deportation” but there is an exemption if removing them would breach their human rights.
At the end of his sentence Rocky Gurung, also a Gurkha’s son, appealed against the Home Office’s decision to deport him, and lost. He then appealed again to the Upper Tribunal – the case overseen by Mr Justice Blake. He claimed that deporting him to Nepal would breach his “right to family life” even though he was single, had no children and lived with his parents.
In a judgment first disclosed in January last year, the court ruled in the killer’s favour that deporting him would be “disproportionate”.
The Home Office later appealed to the Court of Appeal and a panel led by Lord Justice Rix concluded Mr Justice Blake’s decision was faulty. “It appears to us that there has been an error of approach on the part of the Upper Tribunal,” ruled the three appeal judges.
They said they were “troubled” by the conclusion of Mr Justice Blake that the “nature and seriousness” of the offence did not in themselves justify interference with Rocky Gurung’s human rights through deportation. Such an argument “misplaces the emphasis”, said the panel.
“Much of the determination has the appearance of a search for reasons for not deporting him rather than – as in our view it ought to have been – an inquiry into whether, despite the statutory policy of automatic deportation, article 8 of the Convention would be violated by its implementation,” they said.
Bishal’s sister Karuna, 29, from north London, said: “The previous decision was completely wrong. I am extremely happy it has been thrown out. I would like to see Bishal’s killer deported.”
Ian Macdonald QC, the chairman of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, said: “I’m sure Mr Justice Blake will be feeling like he’s been rapped on the knuckles, but that is how the law works. This is why we have an appellate system.”
The case also illustrates the tortuous legal process faced by the government to deport serious foreign criminals, with the cost of the Gurung case thought to run into tens of thousands of pounds.
Mr Justice Blake, as Nicholas Blake QC, was previously a human rights barrister at Matrix Chambers, which is most closely associated with Cherie Blair, the wife of former prime minister Tony Blair. He was knighted in 2008 and appointed president of the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber in 2010. Previously he co-authored the legal textbook Immigration, Asylum and Human Rights.
In a judgment published at the end of last week, Mr Justice Blake allowed Milind Sanade, a male nurse from India, to remain in Britain despite being convicted of indecently assaulting a pregnant 21-year-old patient and asking “Does this feel good?”
The Home Office tried to remove Sanade at the end of his prison sentence under automatic deportation rules but Mr Justice Blake and a colleague upheld his second appeal under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines in law the right to a private or family life.
Sanade, of Chelmsford, is married with two children born in England. Yesterday his family were not at home, and neighbours said they had gone away.
Because Sanade has now been now struck off the nursing register and is under other restrictions which prevent him working unsupervised with women, the judges said: “He is more regulated in his future conduct in the United Kingdom than he would be in India. “Whilst we recognise that this was an offence involving gross breach of trust this is not criminal conduct at the higher end of the range of seriousness.”
Sanade, 36, said last night: “I’m just glad to put my sentence behind me. I’m sorry for what happened but I’ve served the time and now I should be here in the UK with my family.”
Other similar appeals considered by Mr Justice Blake at the same time, involving two Jamaican criminals each with children holding British nationality, were rejected.
A voice of sanity from the real 1984
I mentioned yesterday the travails of Ray Honeyford. What he wrote could well have been written yesterday. He was a true prophet. The first few paragraphs below:
The issues and problems of our multi-racial inner cities are frequently thrown into sharp relief for me. As the head teacher of a school in the middle of a predominantly Asian area, I am often witness to scenes which have the raw feel of reality — and the recipient of vehement criticism, whenever I question some of the current educational orthodoxies connected with race. It is very difficult to write honestly and openly of my experiences and the reflections they evoke, since the race relations lobby is extremely powerful in the state education service. The propaganda generated by multi-racial zealots is now augmented by a growing bureaucracy of race in local authorities. And this makes freedom of speech difficult to maintain. By exploiting the enormous tolerance, traditional in this country, the race lobby has so managed to induce and maintain feelings of guilt in the well-disposed majority, that decent people are not only afraid of voicing certain thoughts, they are uncertain even of their right to think those thoughts. They are intimidated not only by their fear of giving offence by voicing their own reasonable concerns about the inner cities, but by the necessity of conducting the debate in a language which is dishonest.
The term ‘racism’, for instance, functions not as a word with which to create insight, but as a slogan designed to suppress constructive thought. It conflates prejudice and discrimination, and thereby denies a crucial conceptual distinction. It is the icon word of those committed to the race game. And they apply it with the same sort of mindless zeal as the inquisitors voiced ‘heretic’ or Senator McCarthy spat out ‘Commie’. The word ‘black’ has been perverted. Every non-white is now, officially, ‘black’, be he Indian, Pakistani or Vietnamese. This gross and offensive dichotomy has an obvious purpose: the creation of an atmosphere of anti-white solidarity. To suppress and distort the enormous variations within races which I every day observe by using language in this way is an outrage to all decent people — whatever their skin colour.
And there are other distortions: race riots are described by the politically motivated as ‘uprisings’, and by a Lord of Appeal as a ‘superb and healthy catalyst for the British people’ — and the police blamed for the behaviour of violent thugs; rather like the patient blaming the doctor because he has a cold in the head. ‘Cultural enrichment’ is the approved term for the West Indian’s right to create an ear-splitting cacophony for most of the night to the detriment of his neighbour’s sanity, or for the Notting Hill Festival whose success or failure is judged by the level of street crime which accompanies it. At the schools’ level the term refers to such things as the Muslim parent’s insistence on banning his daughter from drama, dance and sport, i.e. imposing a purdah mentality in schools committed to the principle of sexual equality
British Christian street preacher who allegedly told gay couple they would ‘burn in hell’ in High Street rant is cleared of wrongdoing
A Christian street preacher was yesterday cleared of harassing a gay couple – after telling them homosexuals would ‘burn in hell’. Religious Michael Overd, 47, was accused of using threatening or abusive language against Craig Manning and Craig Nichol as he preached last July.
A court heard that he approached the pair in busy Taunton High Street, Somerset, calling them ‘sinners’ and proclaiming they would ‘burn in hell’.
But Overd claimed he was merely exercising his right to expression by reading from the bible and was acquitted of the charge by Taunton Deane Magistrates yesterday.
Dean Lampard, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), speaking after the verdict, said: ‘We take allegations of this nature very seriously and when we reviewed the case we determined it was appropriate to charge Mr Overd with harassment.
‘We examined the evidence and were satisfied that there was a realistic prospect of conviction and that it was in the public interest to bring criminal proceedings.
‘Everyone has the right to live their life free from harassment and distress and we will continue to work closely with Avon and Somerset Constabulary to investigate any allegations of hate crime of any sort, be it homophobic, racist, religious or disability hate crime.’
Overd’s lawyers claimed his client was merely reciting a passage from 1 Corinthians
The court heard claims the lay preacher was provoked by a previous altercation with Mr Nichol and Mr Manning in October 2010, when he saw them holding hands.
Mr Nichol, giving evidence at the two-day trial, said as soon as Overd saw them from around 10 metres away on July 16 last year ‘the expression on his face changed’. He said: ‘He said ‘I have already told these two sinners over here that they are going to burn in hell’. ‘He looked at us and pointed at us when he said it. His voice was quite loud and very clear. I felt angry, embarrassed and ashamed.
‘I asked him who he was to judge me and he said ‘it’s God’s words, it is in the bible’. ‘He said I should repent and ask God for forgiveness.’
Paul Diamond, representing Overd, claimed his client was merely reciting a passage from 1 Corinthians. The passage reads: ‘Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.’
Low-cost degrees in the Netherlands attracting British students
You don’t have to speak double Dutch – and the fees are significantly cheaper. That’s why more and more British students are flocking to universities in the Netherlands, it was reported today.
Traditionally, the UK’s seats of learning have attracted a whopping share of European total of students who travel abroad to study. More than a quarter came to Britain in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available.
But as fees have risen to £9,000 a year, universities in the Netherlands have reported a significant increase in interest from the UK. At Maastricht University, figures released this month show 255 Britons have applied for places in September, two-and-a-half times the comparable figure a year ago. Four years ago there were just 18 British students in Maastricht. The figure is now 163 and that could double later this year.
At home, recent figures show a 8,500 drop in the number of 18-year-olds applying for university places in England this year.
The cost of courses in the Netherlands, the fact courses are taught in English and it is easy travel to the country via the Eurostar service are believed to be behind the rise. Undergraduate tuition fees in the Netherlands are currently €1,713 (£1,440) for an academic year, less than one sixth of the £9,000 maximum being levied in England from September. Not only that, for students of any EU nationality who can prove they are working 32 hours a month, the Dutch government hands out grants of €265.
Colin Behr, a second-year European studies scholar from Devon, told The Guardian: ‘Going to another country to study is very daunting. But it’s a great opportunity. The reason I’m here is the quality and the value for money. It definitely feels more serious than the UK.’
British students now occupy fourth place in the list of nationalities studying at Maastricht and their numbers are rising relatively fast.
Jeanine Gregersen-Hermans, the university’s marketing director, said: ‘The situation in Britain has changed, so we expect a lot more applications this year. People have been forced to look outside [the UK] and now it has snowballed.’
Yet the number of students coming to Britain still dwarfs the number leaving to study abroad. Of 600,000 EU students taking degrees in non-native union countries, 175,000 were in the UK.
In contrast, only 11,800 Britons were studying elsewhere in the EU, compared with 80,000 Germans, 47,000 French and 41,000 Italians.