Doctor suspended after missing breast cancer in patient who later had to have mastectomy and an operation to remove her ovaries
As Fahmy is an Arabic name, it seems that we have here another example of the many “overseas trained” doctors who work for the NHS. There seem to be a lot of “bad apples” among them. That many of them lack much concern or fellow-feeling for their English patients is an obvious inference
A GP has been suspended for four months after he repeatedly missed signs of breast cancer in a patient, who later had to have mastectomy and an operation to remove her ovaries.
Emma Southall, 33, of Smethwick, had been to see Dr Hany Sadek Fahmy Hanna on several occasions over a one-year period after finding a lump in her breast. But no physical examination was made and she was not referred to hospital for further investigations.
By the time she was correctly diagnosed, the cancer had spread to her neck and other parts of her body. She has since undergone a mastectomy and an operation to remove her ovaries.
Following a one-week Fitness to Practice hearing by the General Medical Council, Dr Hanna, who practices at Hill Top Medical Centre, in Oldbury, West Midlands was given a four-month suspension.
The hearing heard how Dr Hanna demonstrated a ‘frank disregard’ for Emma’s safety and had failed to provide good clinical care.
Panel Chair Dr Ann Barker said: ‘You did not take an appropriate history of her complaint and that you did not conduct a physical examination of her breasts.
‘As such, the Panel considers that you failed to provide good clinical care… in that you did not adequately assess her condition.’
Mother of-two Emma, who has now launched legal action, said: ‘I went back and forth to my surgery and each time I was told it was something really minor. ‘I was reassured that I did not have cancer. As time went on, I was in so much pain and was so worried about the lumps I had found. ‘During one visit, Dr Hanna just sat back in his chair and said, “Emma – what do you want me to say!” ‘I was made to feel like I was imagining my symptoms.’
There had been no apology or expression of regret from Dr Hanna.
Homosexual marriage is not a ‘human right’: European ruling torpedoes British government stance
Same-sex marriages are not a human right, European judges have ruled. Their decision shreds the claim by ministers that gay marriage is a universal human right and that same-sex couples have a right to marry because their mutual commitment is just as strong as that of husbands and wives.
The ruling was made by judges of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg following a case involving a lesbian couple in a civil partnership who complained the French courts would not allow them to adopt a child as a couple.
The ruling also says that if gay couples are allowed to marry, any church that offers weddings will be guilty of discrimination if it declines to marry same-sex couples.
It means that if MPs legislate for same-sex marriage, the Coalition’s promise that churches will not be compelled to conduct the weddings will be worthless.
The ruling comes just days after the Government published a consultation paper which promised marriage to same-sex couples and made clear that Britain is only catching up with other countries.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: ‘Put simply, it’s not right that a couple who love each other and want to formalise a commitment to each other should be denied the right to marry.’
However, the Strasbourg judges ruled that because the French couple were civil partners, they did not have the rights of married people, who in France have the sole right to adopt a child as a couple.
They declared: ‘The European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage.’
The judges added that couples who are not married do not enjoy the same status as those who are. ‘With regard to married couples, the court considers that in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage, the applicants’ legal situation could not be said to be comparable to that of married couples.’
The French civil partners, Valerie Gas and Nathalie Dubois, tried to secure marriage rights under clauses that prevent discrimination and protect privacy and family life. But the Strasbourg judges said there had been no discrimination against them because they were lesbians.
Lawyers said the decisions transformed the impact of David Cameron’s planned same-sex marriage law. Neil Addison, a specialist in discrimination law, said: ‘Once same-sex marriage has been legalised then the partners to such a marriage are entitled to exactly the same rights as partners in a heterosexual marriage.
This means that if same-sex marriage is legalised in the UK it will be illegal for the Government to prevent such marriages happening in religious premises.’
The Government’s consultation paper also said that no church would have to conduct gay weddings. It said there would be different legal categories of civil and religious marriage and same-sex couples would not be allowed religious marriages.
But Church of England lawyers have already warned that if same-sex marriage goes ahead, then equality law is likely to force churches to fall into line and perform the wedding ceremonies.
The Strasbourg ruling won praise from campaigners against same-sex marriage. Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: ‘For too long campaigners have been using the language of rights in an attempt to add moral force to what are nothing more than personal desires. ‘In many cases they have bypassed the democratic process and succeeded in imposing their views on the rest of the population by force of law.
‘We are seeing the same principle at work in the Government’s sham of a consultation on same-sex marriage.’
He added: ‘The ruling from the ECHR will embolden those whose concerns about same-sex marriage and adoption are not inspired by personal hatred and animosity, but by a genuine concern for the well-being of children and the welfare of society.
‘Instead of rushing to legislate without seriously considering the views of the electorate, the Government should be encouraging a measured public debate on the nature and meaning of marriage.’
The Stonewall pressure group called for same-sex couples to be allowed religious weddings if churches agreed.
It added: ‘The vitriol seen in statements by many political and religious figures, particularly some senior clerics, in advance of this consultation demonstrates the persistence of deeply worrying prejudice towards gay people.’
Baroness Ashton called on to resign after likening shooting at Toulouse school to troubles of Palestinian children in Gaza
A Labour Party appointee, a mediocrity clearly out of her depth
EU foreign minister Baroness Ashton is facing calls to resign after appearing to use the fatal shootings of three Jewish schoolchildren in France to criticise Israeli policy in Gaza.
In a speech on Palestinian affairs in Brussels, the British EU official suggested that the shootings outside a Jewish school in Toulouse were the same as the deaths of children inadvertently killed in Israeli attacks on Palestinian militants.
Lady Ashton also seemingly compared the deaths in Gaza to the slaughter of innocents in Syria, the rampage by a gunman in Norway last year in which dozens of teenagers were killed and the bus crash in Switzerland that killed 22 Belgian schoolchildren a week ago.
She said: ‘When we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.’
The Israeli government demanded that Lady Ashton step down, with defence minister Ehud Barak denouncing the mention of Gaza as inappropriate and demanding a retraction. He said: ‘The comparison made by Ashton between what is happening in Gaza to what happened in Toulouse, and what is going on in Syria every day, is outrageous and has absolutely no grounding in reality.’
Israel’s interior minister Eli Yishai said Lady Ashton’s statement ‘further harms the ability of the EU to be an honest broker’ in the Middle East, adding: ‘She can no longer serve in her position.’ He was joined in his calls for a retraction by Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign affairs minister.
A spokesman for Lady Ashton, who was a surprise appointment to the new post of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs in 2009, claimed the remarks had been grossly distorted. ‘In her remarks, the High Representative referred to tragedies taking the lives of children around the world and drew no parallel whatsoever between the circumstances of the Toulouse attack and the situation in Gaza,’ he said.
But that explanation was not accepted by Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said she wrongly sought to draw a parallel between the calculated murder of children and Palestinian casualties who have died in attacks on adult terrorists in Gaza.
‘What especially outrages me is the comparison between a targeted massacre of children and the surgical defensive actions of the IDF [Israel Defence Forces], intended to strike at terrorists using children as human shields,’ he said.
Tory MP James Clappison, vice-chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said: ‘It is entirely inappropriate for her to make a comparison between events in France and Gaza when she is speaking as the EU’s foreign minister. She needs to think again.’
Downing Street launched a lukewarm defence of Lady Ashton. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘I’m not entirely sure that was the comparison she was making.’ He said Baroness Ashton’s team ‘feel her remarks were taken out of context’.
British deputy headteacher fired for carrying pupil, 6, out of playground wins pay-out after becoming so impoverished she had to take work as a cleaner
A deputy head who was sacked for carrying a pupil back to his classroom has won a pay-out after becoming so impoverished she had to take work as a cleaner. Debbie Ellis, 51, and another teaching assistant lifted the boy by the armpits after he refused to leave the playground.
Mrs Ellis had taken action because a sex offender had recently been spotted at the school gates.
But the teacher was sacked after school governors launched an investigation. She then brought a claim for unfair dismissal against the governors of Hafod-y-Wern primary school at Wrexham, North Wales, following the ‘grave injustice.’
At an employment tribunal yesterday her solicitor Tudor Williams announced that a confidential pay settlement had been reached.
Mrs Ellis, who has worked as an office cleaner since her sacking in February last year, said : ‘It’s a massive weight off my shoulders. I’m pleased and relieved. ‘What happened has had a huge impact on my life and my family’s life. It affected my health initially. I’m pleased it is all done and dusted.
‘I will take a breather and put life back into perspective and look at my options. I don’t want to go back into teaching right now after what has happened. I need a while to think.’
Mrs Ellis, who was supported by her daughters Claire, 31, and Nicola, 29, at the hearing, added : ‘I loved my job. I was very dedicated and was shattered when this happened. I’ve had letters of support, and the support of my husband Edwin throughout.’
Mrs Ellis, from Mold in Flintshire, said her troubles began when she had been in charge of Hafod-y-Wern because the headmaster was away for a day. When the boy refused to come inside after playtime, staff phoned his mother, but she was not able to come to the school, which has 250 pupils, straight away.
So Mrs Ellis and a teaching assistant went outside, lifted the boy under his armpits and carried him indoors.
The incident was reported to the headmaster and the local education authority became involved. She was suspended.
Her solicitor said last year : ‘My client decided she had to do something and asked a teaching assistant to go with her. They lifted him under the armpits and carried him to the classroom.
‘It’s shown on CCTV footage but the school governing body thought it showed gross misconduct by physical and emotional abuse of the pupil – it doesn’t.’
Mrs Ellis was dismissed a year ago after a two-day disciplinary hearing. She said she had a 20-year teaching career until her life was shattered by the dismissal. Another teacher was also sacked and two teaching assistants disciplined.
Mr Williams, an employment solicitor based in Wrexham, said Mrs Ellis would now have to wait to hear if the General Teaching Council for Wales will take any action. ‘The council referred the dismissal to the GTCW,’ he explained.
Mr Williams said the financial settlement, before any evidence was heard by the tribunal, was ‘very acceptable to my client.’
The solicitor added : ‘This school playground had been used as a shortcut and two weeks earlier a man had been spotted performing a sex act outside the school gates. ‘Any teacher would be concerned about a pupil being outside in the playground on his own. Anything could have happened.
‘Just imagine if he had been allowed to stay there and wandered off on to the main road or a stranger came in and abused or abducted him. All these things weighed on my client’s mind.’
Wrexham council have not yet commented on the settlement.
Raw milk not banned in England — so far
Department store sells it
Upmarket store Selfridges has been accused of potentially putting customers at risk and breaking the law by selling ‘raw’ milk.
It is selling the milk, produced on an organic farm in Sussex, from a vending machine and insists it is hugely popular and regularly sells out.
Many traditionalists enjoy raw milk, believing it tastes nicer and may even be better for them.
However the Government’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) and its experts insist that raw milk, which is not heat-treated or pasteurised to kill off harmful bugs, is a public health threat.
Its health and legal experts have put the store and the farmer involved on notice that they are at risk of prosecution.
Historically, consumption of raw milk was associated with the spread of TB in humans, plus food poisoning bugs such as salmonella, campylobacter and E.coli O157.
As a result, raw milk has been banned outright in Scotland as a health threat since 1983. There are various exemptions in the rest of the country which allow sales direct by farmers to the public at the gate, at farmers’ markets and via the internet.
At the same time retailers are freely allowed to sell cheese made from unpasteurised milk.
The future of controls on the sale of raw milk were discussed by the FSA board yesterday, where members were divided on the need for action.
An expert paper submitted to the board warned: ‘The potential risks associated with the consumption of raw drinking milk have long been recognised.
‘Between 1912 and 1937, about 65,000 deaths from bovine tuberculosis were reported in England and Wales. In addition, raw milk was associated with many cases of brucellosis, food poisoning and other diseases.’ However, these same experts accepted that there have been no reported cases of illness associated with the milk for the past ten years.
Board members said the lack of known cases of illness in recent years might be due to the low numbers drinking the milk. Others suggested the absence of evidence that people are falling ill means the FSA need not spend time and money investigating the issue.
Member for Northern Ireland, Dr Henrietta Campbell, said the time has come for an outright ban across the entire country. She said: ‘We have to make absolutely clear in our message to the young, the old and the immune-compromised that they should not drink raw milk. Anyone else who does it is foolish. ‘I would go further and look for a ban on the sale of raw milk.’
Colleague, Clive Grundy, said: ‘It only takes one incident for this to be a very serious issue. We would be discussing this in very different terms if that one were a fatality. That deeply concerns me.’
The FSA board has given approval for a research and consultation project on whether new controls, including a ban, should be introduced.
After the meeting, a spokesman said: ‘Both Selfridges and the farmer have been informed that the FSA believes sales of raw cows’ milk from retail premises are an offence under the food Hygiene regulations. Enquiries are on-going.’
Selfridges began selling the raw milk supplied by Hook & Son, from Longleys Farm in Hailsham, Sussex, in December.
The farm insists it contains beneficial bacteria that are destroyed by pasteurisation and that consumption could reduce children’s risk of suffering allergy-related conditions such as eczema and hay fever.
Selfridges said the FSA has failed to provide clear information on whether its sale of raw milk from a vending machine is illegal.
Selfridges food director, Ewan Venters, said: ‘We have always supported unique products like raw milk. We see ourselves, like many farmers markets, as a platform to launch a variety of choice for our customers to enjoy. ‘We have stringent checks in place to make sure that the products we sell meet the standards of governing bodies, we feel raw milk should be available to everyone.’
Its senior technical manager, Melisa Clottey, said: ‘So far we have not received any indication this form of sale is illegal. If this position changes, we will of course ask Hook and Son to remove the vending machine and cease trading.’
Scientists finally solve 75-year-old riddle of how controversial electric shock treatment can treat severe depression
I doubt that this is the whole story. Social factors in the process were identified by H.J. Eysenck about 60 years ago
Scientists have finally discovered how one of psychiatry’s most controversial treatments can help patients with severe depression.
Researchers at Aberdeen University have discovered that ECT – or electro-convulsive therapy – affects the way different parts of the brain involved in depression ‘communicate’ with each other.
They found that the treatment appears to ‘turn down’ an overactive connection between areas of the brain that control mood and the parts responsible for thinking and concentrating.
This stops the overwhelming impact that depression has on sufferers’ ability to enjoy normal life and carry on with day-to-day activities.
This decrease in connectivity observed after ECT treatment was accompanied by a significant improvement in the patient’s depressive symptoms.
The ECT treatment, which is 75-years-old, involves an electric shock being passed through the cortex of a severely-depressed patient to ‘cure’ them.
Its graphic portrayal in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next won Jack Nicholson an Oscar.
The controversial treatment was introduced in 1938 by an Italian neurologist Ugo Cerletti, who was allegedly inspired by watching pigs being stunned with electric shock before being butchered in Rome. The animals would go into seizures and fall down, making it easier to slit their throats.
At the time psychiatric orthodoxy held – wrongly – that schizophrenia and epilepsy were antagonistic and one could not exist in the presence of the other.
Deciding to try the stunning technique on his patients, Dr Cerletti found electric shocks to the head caused his most obsessive and difficult mental patients to become meek and manageable.
Later the treatment was found to be effective in treating severe depression but its mode of action has remained until now a complete mystery.
The study involved using MRI to scan the brains of nine severely depressed patients before and after ECT, and then applying entirely new and complex mathematical analysis to investigate brain connectivity.
Professor of Psychiatry at the university Ian Reid, who is also a consultant psychiatrist at the Royal Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen, said: ‘We believe we’ve solved a 70 year old therapeutic riddle.
‘ECT is a controversial treatment, and one prominent criticism has been that it is not understood how it works and what it does to the brain.
‘For all the debate surrounding ECT, it is one of the most effective treatments not just in psychiatry but in the whole of medicine, because 75 per cent to 85 per cent of patients recover from their symptoms.
‘Over the last couple of years there has been an emerging new perspective on how depression affects the brain.
‘This theory has suggested a ‘hyper-connection’ between the areas of the brain involved in emotional processing and mood change and the parts of the brain involved in thinking and concentrating.
‘Our key finding is that if you compare the connections in the brain before and after ECT, ECT reduces this ‘hyper-connectivity’.
‘For the first time we can point to something that ECT does in the brain that makes sense in the context of what we think is wrong in people who are depressed.’
Although ECT is extremely effective, it is only used on people who need treatment quickly: those who are very severely depressed, who are at risk from taking their own lives, and perhaps cannot look after themselves, or those who have not responded to other treatments.
Professor Reid said: ‘The treatment can also affect memory, though for most patients this is short-lived.
‘However if we understand more about how ECT works, we will be in a better position to replace it with something less invasive and more acceptable.
‘At the moment only about 40 per cent of people with depression get better with treatment from their GP.
‘Our findings may lead to new drug targets which match the effectiveness of ECT without an impact on memory.’
Professor Christian Schwarzbauer, chair in neuroimaging at Aberdeen, who devised the maths used to analyse the data, said: ‘We were able to find out to what extent more than 25,000 different brain areas ‘communicated’ with each other.
‘The method could be applied to a wide range of other brain disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, or dementia, and may lead to a better understanding of underlying disease mechanisms and the development of new diagnostic tools.’
The team’s findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.