Mother died after waiting THREE DAYS for emergency Caesarean at ‘Britain’s worst maternity unit’
A mother died after waiting three days for an emergency Caesarean section because of failings at one of the country’s worst maternity units, an inquest heard. Violet Stephens, 35, was just eight months’ pregnant and had a history of problems during previous births at Queen’s Hospital in Romford, Essex.
Her chances of survival would have been better if she had been given the Caesarean section a day earlier, the inquest heard.
When Ms Stephens finally had the operation, a failure to give her an urgent blood transfusion had a material effect on her death. Walthamstow Coroner’s Court was told staff at the unit failed to react promptly when Ms Stephens’ blood pressure soared.
She gave birth to a boy, Christian, her third son under five, at 31 weeks, but her condition deteriorated rapidly and she died shortly afterwards.
In 2010 the hospital had three maternal deaths which, gives it a death rate three times higher than the national average for maternity units. The delivery ward at Queens Hospital has been dubbed ‘the worst in Britain’.
Ms Stephens’ had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and developed HELLP syndrome, a life-threatening complication which can lead to fatal liver problems. HELLP occurs in less than one per cent of all pregnancies, but in 10 to 20 per cent of cases with severe pre-eclampsia. It can cause progressive nausea and vomiting, upper abdominal pain, headaches and vision problems.
The hospital is facing legal action by 12 women and their families over care they received at the hospital’s maternity unit.
Senior obstetrician, Professor Susan Bewley, who produced an external review of events that led to Ms Stephens’ death, said: ‘There were a number of missed opportunities to plan ahead for the delivery of the baby on April 8. ‘There was no reason to delay and every reason to act quickly.’
Professor Bewley said that the failure to give Ms Stephens an urgent blood transfusion could have ‘materially’ contributed to her death. She added that poor communication during handovers was also to blame.
The inquest heard that Dr Farida Bano, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist failed to given colleague Celia Burrell crucial details including Ms Stephens’ name, date of birth and hospital number, simply referring to her as ‘the 31-weeker in the antenatal unit’. As a result, there were significant delays in identifying Ms Stephens and obtaining her blood tests, the court heard.
The Caesarean did not take place until after 4am on April 9. The ward was at ‘fever pitch’ and that staff could have been too stretched to cope, the inquest heard.
Midwife Debbie Graham, who co-authored the independent report, added: ‘If you really are at full capacity perhaps you should think about closing the unit – if another woman arrived who was ill, you would be making a bad situation worse.’
Ms Stephens’ sister, Kitty Mhango, a nurse and midwife, told the inquest: ‘I felt she was not looked after properly. ‘This was her fourth pregnancy at the same hospital and they had records which showed she was a patient with issues before. ‘I thought they didn’t take action early enough, that’s why, when I heard she had died, I was so angry, I felt they had let her down.’
Mr Bano insisted she had passed on the patient’s name, but not the date of birth.
Recording a narrative verdict, Chinyere Inyama, coroner for east London, said: ‘On April 8, a serious failure between consultants to properly handover the care of the deceased led to a missed opportunity to plan the premature delivery earlier. ‘An earlier delivery could have affected the outcome.
‘Post-delivery, there was a failure to give the deceased an urgent blood transfusion in a timely fashion. ‘It is likely that this failure materially contributed to the outcome.’
Speaking outside the court, Ms Mhango said: ‘My family and I can finally put the matter to rest with the assurance that no one else will go through what my sister went through. ‘I hope the hospital in future will be able to identify strategies to improve nursing and medical response for acutely unwell and deteriorating patients.
‘We are trying to cope but it’s very difficult. ‘Violet was so lovely, she laughed a lot and she loved her children, she loved going to the park with them and they will miss that. ‘Christian is okay, he is a lovely boy and he is growing. ‘We will reassure Violet’s sons that she was a loving mother.’
Pay £300 a day or go home, NHS hospital tells teenager paralysed from waist down after accident at hockey training camp
A teenage girl paralysed from the waist down has had to leave an NHS hospital after being ordered to pay almost £300 a day for her care. Hockey international Charlotte Wilkinson-Burnett, 19, has been confined to a wheelchair since suffering head and spinal injuries in an accident at a summer camp.
She had been in Leicester Royal Infirmary since September but doctors were unable to offer any further treatment. While some could find no reason for her condition, others told Charlotte and her parents that she is suffering from conversion disorder, a little-understood condition where blindness or paralysis is caused psychologically.
But her parents say psychiatrists at the hospital said there was nothing wrong with her mind.
Despite this, managers said she was a bed blocker and must leave her bed unless she paid £298 a day – the equivalent cost for private care. This is the first known case of a trust threatening to charge a patient.
Charlotte, from Loughborough, had been due to begin training as an Army doctor in September and was one of a handful of cadets who worked for Prince Harry’s charity, Sentebale, in Lesotho. She had played hockey for England under-21s and represented her county at cross-country running.
While working as an instructor for a Camp America holiday camp in Rhode Island, she slipped in the bathroom and fractured her spine. It was later discovered that fluid had leaked from her brain into her spine.
Her mother Alison, 43, said that Charlotte’s care in hospital was ‘negligent and appalling’. The family also say that doctors refused to refer Charlotte to a specialist spinal unit.
Last month, the chief executive of Leicester University NHS trust, Malcolm Lowe-Lauri, wrote to the family saying that she no longer needed ‘hospital care’ so unless she left, she must pay the rate charged to private patients of £298 a day.
Her family brought her home last week after the hospital threatened to begin charging the following day. Charlotte has to be carried upstairs to the bathroom by her father Stephen, 48, a builder.
As doctors have refused to refer her on to specialist units, the family are hoping to send Charlotte for a private consultation at the Royal Berkshire hospital, which specialises in brain and spinal conditions.
A Leicester hospital spokesman said: ‘Charlotte has been diagnosed with conversion disorder in three hospitals in the U.S. and UK. ‘There is no physical problem for our doctors to treat and further medical interventions would only exacerbate the condition. ‘Doctors agree it would be in her best interests to continue her care at home, and that would give her the best chance of recovery.’
Insane British Liberal idea scrapped: Penalty for paying off student loan early is lifted
Students will not be penalised for repaying university loans early after David Cameron scrapped a Liberal Democrat plan to raise more money from the middle classes.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, had intended to introduce an early repayment penalty which would have cost graduates thousands of pounds if they cleared their debts within 30 years of leaving university.
The Prime Minister is understood to have dropped the scheme earlier this week amid warnings that it would be unfair on the hundreds of thousands of people expected to repay their loans early. The deal was agreed after Mr Cameron backed down and allowed Mr Cable to appoint the controversial Prof Les Ebdon as the Government’s new university admissions tsar.
A Downing Street source said: “The Lib Dems were very keen to appoint Ebdon and we felt very strongly about penalties for early repayment of loans. This is hopefully good news for tens of thousands of families, as well as many Conservative MPs who had raised concerns about the penalties.”
From this September, students will be charged up to £9,000 annually to study at university in England and Wales. They will be offered loans of more than £16,000 a year to cover tuition and living expenses.
Once a graduate earns more than £21,000 a year he or she will repay the equivalent of nine per cent of their earnings. The higher their salary, the more interest they will pay, up to a maximum of inflation plus three percentage points for those earning more than £41,000.
The system was designed as a form of “graduate tax” so that those benefiting most from a university education would repay most.
But to stop wealthier graduates, or those assisted by their parents, from opting out of the “progressive” system, it was planned that they would face a levy of five per cent of the value of early repayments.
Someone repaying a £40,000 loan early could have had to pay a penalty of £2,000. The Government has said previously: “It is important that those on the higher incomes are not able unfairly to buy themselves out of the progressive mechanism.”
Over the past decade, 225,000 people have made early repayments even though the interest on student loans is currently in line with inflation. When interest for top earners is higher, there will be an even greater incentive for early repayments. Large firms are expected to offer to repay loans for their best recruits.
Some parents had been concerned about their offspring facing a lifetime of debt from university – and there were reports that they would borrow money themselves to fund the fees, so Mr Cameron’s intervention is likely to be welcomed.
The Treasury is also thought to have backed the scrapping of penalties as it is expected to lead to government loans to students being repaid more quickly.
However, despite the climbdown over early repayment penalties there are still growing concerns over the imminent appointment of Prof Ebdon as the new director of fair access. One senior Conservative source said: “The scrapping of repayment penalties is very welcome but it’s still not a great political deal as Ebdon has the potential to do real damage to our country’s education system.”
Tory MPs are urging Mr Cameron to overrule Mr Cable and reopen the search for a new admissions watchdog.
Prof Ebdon, the University of Bedfordshire’s vice-chancellor, has defended degrees in “soft” subjects such as media studies and fashion design, and angered traditionalists with his blunt attitude towards widening the student intake at highly academic universities.
He has said he would be prepared to ban universities that miss their admissions targets from charging the maximum tuition fees.
Barnaby Lenon, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council and a former headmaster of Harrow School, warned that the reputation of leading universities must be preserved.
“The fact is that British universities are among the best in the world and I personally believe that one of the reasons for that is because entry to these universities has been by straightforward competition and selection,” he said.
Dr Cable will confirm Prof Ebdon as the new director of fair access next week.
The Church is under-appreciated says the Queen
The Queen has delivered a staunch and strongly-worded defence of the Church and religion in the face of a growing divide between faith and secularism.
In a timely address to leaders of Britain’s nine main religions at Lambeth Palace, London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, she highlighted the importance of faith in society and the “critical guidance” it offered in life.
“The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated,” she said. “Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.”
The monarch, speaking at the first public event to mark her Diamond Jubilee, said that Church was “woven into the fabric of this country” and had helped to build a better society. It has “created an environment for other faith communities and indeed people of no faith to live freely”, she added.
The Queen’s words were considered a rare intervention in the war of words between critics of the Church and faith communities.
It follows a warning issued by Baroness Warsi, chairman of the Conservative Party, who said yesterday that British society was under threat from a rising tide of “militant secularisation” reminiscent of “totalitarian regimes”.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, the Cabinet Office minister said that to create a “more just society” Britons must “feel stronger in their religious identities”.
Last week, the High Court ruled that local councils could not hold prayers during meetings. There have also been recent cases of public sector workers being banned from displaying Christian symbols at work.
The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, had earlier met leaders of the eight non-Christian religions; the Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, and Zoroastrian; who each presented her with a treasured object important to their faith.
In an address in the palace’s Guard Room, she said: “Our religions provide critical guidance for the way we live our lives and for the way in which we treat each other. “Here at Lambeth Palace we should remind ourselves of the significant position of the Church of England in our nation’s life.”
She said the occasion marked an opportunity to reflect on the importance of faith in “creating and sustaining communities” across Britain. “Faith plays a key role in the identity of many millions of people, providing not only a system of belief but also a sense of belonging,” she added.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, paid tribute to the Queen’s “personal commitment” to her office as a call from God which he said was “at the heart of her understanding of her role”.
She has effectively shown that “being religious is not eccentric or abnormal”, he said.
“The personal faith to which you have so regularly alluded entails the conviction of a calling from God to do what you do and to be what you are; it also means a full understanding of what makes communities work,” he said.
A report conducted for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK) suggested that almost three quarters (74 per cent) of Christians polled agreed that religion should not influence public policy, while only about one in eight (12 per cent) thought it should.
No hiding the number of knees under British government desks
Thatcher’s privatisations certainly reduced the size of the state payroll, in terms of car workers, coal miners and steel-makers. But she failed to get to grips with the growing recruitment drive in local government and the rise of the quangocracy, which began in the early-to-mid-Eighties.
I was reminded of this yesterday, when the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announced that, thanks to a successful programme of economies, the Civil Service is now at its smallest since World War II.
That’s great news, on the face of it. But it depends what you mean by ‘civil service’. Maude was referring to those directly working for the government departments we collectively call Whitehall.
The reality is that there are now more people than ever on the public payroll, not including the six million or so on assorted out-of-work benefits, which is twice the number of the headline unemployment rate in the ‘heartless’ 1980s.
At least all those car workers, steel workers and coal miners actually produced something, when they weren’t on strike, even if it was uneconomic. Too many of today’s ‘public service’ staff produce absolutely nothing of any value.
They are variously engaged in utterly superfluous out-reaching, monitoring, regulating, co-ordinating, box-ticking, witch-hunting, inspecting, consulting, licensing, twinning, punishing, celebrating diversity and generally interfering in every aspect of our daily lives.
Yet at the same time genuine basic services like emptying dustbins and teaching children to read and write have deteriorated hideously.
Labour spectacularly reversed Thatcher’s efforts to shrink the State and left behind a massive debt and deficit. Public spending now accounts for almost half of everything we earn as a country — up over the past 30 years from £128 billion a year to a projected £722 billion in 2013. Even allowing for inflation, that is a grotesque increase.
Today, we don’t have a nationalised steel industry, but Gordon Brown did nationalise the banks. Network Rail, as it likes to be called these days, is back in public ownership and subsidies to the railways are far higher than they ever were in the bad old days of British Rail.
I don’t know about the Civil Service, but we’ve certainly got the smallest armed forces since World War II.
And the public sector still seems to be run with all the incompetence, inefficiency and flagrant contempt for taxpayers’ money which was the hallmark of British Steel under Sir Charles English Hyde Villiers MC, aka Mr Pastry.