Obama helps British toddler raise money for new legs that NHS won’t pay for
The NHS are great — until you need them
U.S. President Barack Obama has unwittingly offered a helping hand to a British boy’s battle for a new pair of legs. The President has pledged his support to Luca Williams’ campaign for a pair of prosthetic legs, after catching a visitor to the White House sneaking a souvenir photo in Luca’s honour.
Secret service staff initially pounced on Dai Baker when they spotted him snapping President Obama next to his outstretched hand, which had ‘For LUCA’ scrawled on the palm – until he explained he was trying to raise awareness of the brave three-year-old’s plight.
When the President heard about the cause, he let Mr Baker keep the photo – and joined the ranks of Pixie Lott, racing driver Sebastian Vettel and top jockey AP McCoy, who have all tweeted similar photos to help raise money for Luca.
Little Luca was struck down by meningococcal septicaemia, a type of blood poisoning, four months ago and medics were forced to amputate his lower limbs. His family are trying to raise £1.5 million to buy him a pair of prosthetic legs that aren’t available on the NHS.
Parents Mo Syed and Sian Williams, launched the ‘Raise your Hands for Luca’ campaign last month, asking people to write ‘For Luca’ on the palm of their hand and upload the picture to Facebook or Twitter.
To date his Facebook page alone has attracted more than 10,000 followers and celebrities including Wales rugby players Ryan Jones, Leigh Halfpenny, F1 drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel and England cricketer Stuart Broad have also posted images. And now the most powerful man in the world has joined the campaign.
Dai Baker seized his opportunity to help Luca when he was invited to meet the President at his Washington DC home. Mr Baker, 39, has lived in the US capital for eight years, but originally comes from Newport, South Wales, where his nephew goes to the same nursery as Luca.
He said: ‘I wanted to send a message back home to Luca from the White House. ‘But you’re not supposed to take your phone in with you and when they saw me using it I had a serious telling off. ‘I nearly got thrown out of there altogether. ‘Fortunately they were understanding in the end and I got my photo to send to Luca.’
Luca’s father, Mr Syed said: ‘We are delighted with Dai’s picture.’ ‘It is amazing to be getting this kind of support. We soon realised that Luca’s story had touched the hearts of thousands, including people as far as America, Australia and New Zealand.
‘Even celebrities have started sending pictures to support Luca in his daily battles.’
Patient scans from top hospitals sent to Australia to beat problem of calling radiologists out of hours
The possibility of communication breakdowns would seem considerable
Patients at some of the country’s top NHS hospitals are having their scans sent to Australia to be examined. The NHS trust that runs University College London Hospitals has set up a company called Radiology Reporting Online to run the scheme.
The venture means patients being treated out-of-hours in Britain are having their conditions diagnosed by clinicians 10,000 miles away. There are concerns this could lead to problems if scans are misdiagnosed.
But the trust says it is a positive change and replaces a system where a trainee radiologist would receive a phone call at home out of hours.
Radiology Reporting Online is a joint venture with Australian organisation Imaging Partners Online (IPO).
Tony Nicholson, a former Dean of the Royal College of Radiologists, said: ‘A lot of overseas radiologists are very impressive indeed. ‘But at the end of the day they can only report on what is put in front of them and have no idea about the clinical position of the patient.’
UCLH chief executive Sir Robert Naylor said there were three reasons why the project was launched. He said: ‘First of all it was to improve productivity, secondly to speed up reporting to enable clinicians to make early diagnostic decisions, and thirdly to save money.’
IPO could not be reached for comment.
The British expert who played God… and the real-life Big Brother house where he tore families apart with bizarre tasks to test if parents were fit to keep their children
At first Hibbert specialised in patients suffering drink-and-drug addiction problems. Before long he was running the addiction unit, and, it is said, told colleagues he planned to join a march in 1998 organised by the Independent on Sunday newspaper calling for the decriminalisation of cannabis. It was the talk of the hospital — we were so shocked,’ the psychiatrist continues, explaining that heavy cannabis use can lead to psychosis. ‘Here was a consultant psychiatrist treating people with cannabis addiction, preparing to publicly support the legalisation of cannabis.
‘To say it raised eyebrows was an understatement. ‘It was inappropriate.’
He also viewed the drug as a way to make money. He became a sizeable shareholder in GW Pharmaceuticals, a company that secured a Home Office contract to grow and develop medicines from cannabis.
By 2000, Dr Hibbert decided to part company with the NHS to make ‘real money’ and fund the kind of lifestyle he had become accustomed to as the son of a diplomat. In March that year he set up the consultancy Assessment in Care, making himself its director and psychiatrist, and offering its services to local authorities. His business partner was Jill Canvin, a solicitor specialising in representing children in care proceedings.
For premises they paid £390,000 in 2001 for Tadpole Cottage, a detached four-bedroom house near Swindon in Wiltshire. It would house up to four families at any one time as they were assessed at the request of local authorities to see whether children should be taken into care. Methods Dr Hibbert used to assess parental skills were bizarre and unorthodox.
‘He tried to tell my Dad that because my baby’s father and I were not together, it proved I was a bad mother’
Staff monitored and made notes on everything parents did with their children during their stay, which could last as long as three months.
He set them stressful challenges. He made some mothers vacuum the stairs while holding their baby.
Or he told parents to take a car journey with their infant strapped in the back seat and then simulate a breakdown to add stress to the situation as a test to see if they were fit to keep their children.
Former residents have claimed their time spent at Tadpole Cottage was like a nightmare version of the Big Brother household on television.
But, for Hibbert and Canvin, it was a lucrative business that resulted in their company being valued at £2.7 million last year. Local authorities paid £6,000 a week to have a family in his care. He charged £210 an hour simply to read a report from their social services departments.
But Dr Hibbert’s gilded life began to unravel when, in 2007, a mother complained that he had wrongly diagnosed her with bipolar depression. The GMC began to investigate.
Other parents began to tell their of their shocking experiences. Many of them claimed they were in a ‘no-win’ situation: if they were too attentive to their babies, they were deemed to be ‘trying too hard’, while if they worked at seeming to be less conscientious, they were accused of being distant.
A whistleblowing member of staff, who has agreed to give evidence at the GMC inquiry, claims Dr Hibbert was in the habit of putting his fingers in his ears and chanting ‘Nah, nah, nah. I’m not listening’ when he wanted to ignore an aggrieved mother.
At Tadpole Cottage, staff-recorded details about a number of parents reveal the true extent of the impossible situation they faced. It included details of what time a mother or father got up, what they wore, what they ate and even the telephone conversations they had.
It would be noted that a three-month-old baby ‘did not seem to respond’ when told she was a good girl by her mother.
That apparent failing became the basis for an accusation that the mother was not ‘in tune’ with her child. Another mother was said to be unable to ‘prioritise her child’ because she had bought herself hair conditioner during a trip to a pharmacy. Yet another mother, who liked to bake cakes, read books and was chatty and outgoing, was reported to have worn ‘a bright orange sundress’ and ‘inappropriate socks and trainers’.
Yet another was criticised for ‘a blank expression’ while doing the cleaning chores. Some parents who stayed there felt Hibbert’s demands for perfection were not only excessive, but also hypocritical. By then, the psychiatrist had split up with his wife and moved from their Oxford home into a cottage adjacent to the Wiltshire centre —Ms Canvin lived in a flat above the centre’s garage.
A woman who Hibbert had chided as a bad mother because she had split from her husband recalls him becoming ‘very aggressive’ when he was asked about his own family life.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, tells of how her father once attended the cottage and challenged Dr Hibbert over his views on single mothers. ‘He tried to tell my Dad that because my baby’s father and I were not together, it proved I was a bad mother,’ the woman says. ‘He said it showed I had problems forming relationships.
‘My dad was stunned and asked: “Have you never had a failed relationship?” Dr Hibbert became really angry and aggressive.
He snapped back: “We’re not here to discuss me — we are here to discuss your daughter”. Later on, we found out from a member of staff that he was going through a divorce at the time. ‘We just thought: “What a complete hypocrite.”‘
While the psychiatrist’s career has not ended as successfully as his esteemed father’s, he did inherit a reputation for being combative and abrasive (a trait that was noted about Sir Reginald in one newspaper obituary).
We have obtained a letter Dr Hibbert sent in response to Kristina Hofberg, a consultant psychiatrist, who was critical of his methods when she reviewed his care of one mother. In it, he rounds on his fellow medical professional, accusing her of having an ‘apparent difficulty in interpreting English words in common usage’. He concludes: ‘Her reinterpretations consistently imply that it is our behaviour and judgement, rather than our patient’s, that is at fault.’
The question the GMC will have to answer is whether Dr Hibbert’s methods were ethical and professional and, if not, how many children were torn needlessly from their mothers. Inevitably, many women — some as young as 16 — spoke of a deep sense of despair and stress while in his care.
During her period of assessment, one told a member of staff that she ‘hadn’t spoken to anybody in days except for my baby, but she doesn’t talk back’. It was observed how one mother ‘was tearful and began to swear, saying: “I am fed up here — fed up of being watched.”’
On another occasion, the same mother tried to withdraw to a quiet room but was followed there by staff. When staff looked in and asked if she was all right, she snapped back: ‘Can I just have five minutes on my own please?” and was crying.
A woman who was at the centre with her eight-week-old son told us that she became alarmed when she arrived because she believed that no one left the establishment with their babies. ‘It was like something from Victorian times. I started to panic,’ she recalls. ‘It seemed like no one got out without having their baby taken away. You would see them screaming and crying, begging not to have their babies taken away.’
Her premonition came all too tragically true. She was ordered to leave without her son after Hibbert ruled that she was suffering from a bipolar disorder. Two other psychiatrists later criticised his findings, insisting she had no such condition. By then, however, her child had been adopted and she could not get him back.
The centre is now closed. And the company website, which featured a picture of Dr Hibbert smiling reassuringly, has been taken down.
Although we made regular calls and left messages for Hibbert, he has refused to comment. Instead, he relies on the Medical Protection Society. A spokesman says: ‘Dr Hibbert is limited in the amount of information he can provide about his actions or advice. ‘He is unable to comment on allegations raised in relation to care of a patient due to his professional duty of confidentiality.
‘We can confirm that Dr Hibbert is co-operating with an ongoing GMC investigation and that no findings have been made against him.
‘The questions raised with regards to Dr Hibbert’s personal life constitute a wholly unacceptable intrusion into his private and family life and as such he does not intend to respond further.’
In the meantime, families torn apart as a result of Dr Hibbert’s findings into their personal relationships are trying desperately to rebuild their shattered lives.
Another false rape claim from Britain
A spurned housewife who claimed her husband raped her has been jailed after he showed police a video of them having consensual sex.
Kelly-Ann Ferguson, 23, had met her husband Paul to try and patch up their broken marriage but when he refused went to police claiming he’d raped her.
A court heard Mr Ferguson was arrested on suspicion of rape but showed police officers a footage filmed on his mobile phone that proved she was ‘enjoying every minute’.
When police quizzed Ferguson over the video clip she admitted she had made up the rape claim because her husband had ‘treated her badly and dismissed her’.
Ferguson, of Tinkers Bridge, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, was jailed for nine months at Aylesbury Crown Court for perverting the course of justice.
Judge the Lord Parmoor said: ‘When you left the home you felt it was appropriate to go to the police station and allege he had raped you.
‘You provided a total first-hand account and not surprisingly police believed you and the force sprang into action.
‘At some stage he said it had all been recorded on his telephone. ‘On the phone, far from being raped you were enjoying every minute, if I can put it so crudely. ‘It was perfectly clear your story was a pack of lies.’
The court heard the couple had been married just five months when their relationship deterioted and Ferguson left the marital home.
Prosecuter Meryl Hughes told the court: ‘The couple had married in December 2010 but the marriage broke down and she left the marital home on April 14, 2011.
‘On the 27th the pair met to discuss the marriage and they went back to his home, her former home.’
But Ms Hughes told how Ferguson claimed to police her husband had forced her to perform oral sex before raping her when they went back to their marital home.
She told the court: ‘She said he forced her to have oral sex, grabbing her head and forcing his penis into her mouth. She said he pushed her on the bed and forced vaginal sex.
‘She said after the rape he went into a crazy rage and told her to get out and never come back. ‘She eventually ended up at the police station and reported that she had been raped.’
Ms Hughes told how her husband was arrested over the rape allegations and during police interview told officers he had recorded the whole thing on his phone.
She said: ‘The footage showed clips of Ferguson naked, performing oral sex. The male is not holding her head or forcing her to perform the sex act. In fact she was giggling and laughing. ‘Then vaginal sex takes place and she is seen to be a willing participant.’
When confronted with the video evidence, the court heard Ferguson admitted she had made the allegations up.
Ms Hughes said: ‘Officers went to speak to Ferguson to challenge her about the video and she confirmed no offence had taken place. ‘She told police she had felt, at the end of the evening, he treated her badly and dismissed her.’
Mr Ferguson had spent 15 hours in custody and Thames Valley Police had spent nearly £1,500 pounds investigating the claim.
Defending counsel Katherine Duncan told the court: ‘She is full of remorse for her actions. Her marriage had broken down and she was an emotional state. ‘She said he had behaved in an unchivalrous way towards her and she had been hurt by this.’
Another Leftist fraud
“Red” Ken Livingstone was the far-Left Mayor of London until he was defeated in the last (2008) election by the Conservative Boris Johnson. Ken is trying to get his job back at the next election. He was recently filmed crying while watching one of his own TV commercials. He said he was crying about how much London would lose if he was not re-elected
Ken Livingstone was accused by his own party of crying ‘crocodile tears’ after it emerged that a political broadcast that made him weep used paid ‘supporters’ reading from a script.
The Labour mayoral candidate wept at a screening of his advert featuring 28 unnamed Londoners spelling out why the capital needed Mr Livingstone back in charge.
He had described the saccharine production as a ‘real tearjerker’. Labour leader Ed Miliband even patted his shoulder to console the former mayor as he rubbed his eyes during the screening on Wednesday.
In reality, Mr Livingstone had seen the film the night before, raising questions about why he was apparently caught off-guard. Last night Labour admitted that the ‘ordinary Londoners’ had actually been reading from a script.
They were also paid expenses for their time after the advertising agency BETC hired people from the street. It is also believed one of the ‘actors’ is a paid-up member of the Labour Party.
While political parties regularly use scripts for their advertisements, Labour supporters rebuked Mr Livingstone for apparently pretending to cry.
The grassroots website Labour Uncut concluded that either Mr Livingstone’s tears were fake or ‘he was moved to tears listening to sweet words of flattery that he had practically written himself’.
Labour Uncut’s associate editor, Atul Hatwal, added: ‘Whether it’s tax avoidance, relations with the Jewish community or crocodile tears, this election has virtually become a referendum on Ken Livingstone. ‘There’s no space in the debate for policies or issues, just the one, overweening flawed personality.’
A spokesman for Mr Livingstone said those appearing in the ‘party political broadcast are ordinary Londoners who are backing Ken on May 3’. He added: ‘No actors were used in the broadcast.’ The campaign team confirmed that those who took part were recruited by the advertising agency and paid expenses.
The 66-year-old’s bid to win back the London mayoralty from Tory Boris Johnson has so far been buffeted by controversy. Mr Livingstone was plunged into a race row after saying ‘rich Jews’ would not vote for him.
The former MP was also damaged by revelations that he paid himself through a limited company, potentially reducing the tax on his income.
Research for Taxation Magazine by experts TolleyGuidance suggested Mr Livingstone paid nearly £78,000 less tax during the three years to June 2011 by putting his income through a private firm.