Baby girl who was seen by succession of doctors died from whooping cough after they failed to test for disease until it was too late
This is disgraceful. Whooping cough is pretty distinctive
A baby died of whooping cough after doctors failed to diagnose it despite a nationwide campaign among GPs to raise awareness of the symptoms. Sarae Thompson-Haynes – who was just five weeks old – had been seen at two clinics and a hospital without being tested for the illness.
She is one of five babies to have died as a result of whooping cough this year. The tragedy came two months after GPs were issued with a Health Protection Agency alert warning that cases had doubled in a year.
Yesterday Sarae’s parents, Chelsea Thompson and Todd Haynes, said she might still be alive had tests happened more quickly.
Their daughter was born on February 11. At a month old she developed a cough, so they took her to the Hawthorn Drive Surgery in Ipswich where, they say, doctors assured them she was fine.
When her condition worsened that evening, her family took Sarae to a nearby out-of-hours GP service, Riverside Clinic. There, they say, a doctor again reassured them all was OK, giving them an inhaler for the baby. The parents claim neither clinic tested for whooping cough.
The following day, after Sarae’s condition deteriorated further, Miss Thompson phoned NHS Direct and was advised to go to A&E.
She took her daughter to Ipswich Hospital where doctors said she might have bronchitis. She was kept in but the parents say she again was not tested for whooping cough.
Two days later, on March 18, Sarae experienced breathing difficulties and was transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where tests were finally carried out. She was then referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where she died on March 21. Test results – which came back after her death – revealed she had been suffering from whooping cough and had succumbed to related health issues.
Miss Thompson, 21, said she felt let down by the NHS. ‘We are angry and devastated,’ she said. ‘When I found out she died of whooping cough, I did my own research and realised that there was a massive outbreak this year. ‘I also found out that GPs can test for it. Had they done tests earlier, there is a chance that my little girl would still be here today. They all treated me like a young mother who didn’t know what she was talking about.’
Miss Thompson, who lives in Ipswich with Mr Haynes, 23, is calling for pregnant women to be immunised against the infection. The couple plan to make formal complaints to the clinics and hospitals involved.
The HPA says there have been 2,466 cases of whooping cough in the first six months of this year, already twice as many as the whole of last year.
Sarae’s cause of death, as recorded on the death certificate, was noted as cardiac failure and severe sepsis, as well as pertussis pneumonia.
The Practice Manager of Hawthorn Drive GP surgery said: ‘The whole team at the surgery offer their sympathies to the parents and family. ‘Our duty to protect patient confidentiality means we cannot comment on individual cases but rest assured we at The Hawthorn Drive GP surgery are committed to offering the best level of care to all our patients. ‘We would urge the family to contact us if they need our support or help at this tragic time.’
An Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman said: ‘We are very saddened by baby Sarae’s death. ‘The family have not been in touch with us to date and we urge them to do so as soon as possible so that we can talk about and look into all the areas of concern.’
Dr David Lee, Regional Medical Director for Harmoni, also added his condolences and said patient confidentiality prevented them commenting further. [Cop out!]
Boss of first privately run NHS hospital says its model is key for best patient care
The first NHS hospital to be run entirely by a private firm has slashed waiting times and drastically improved patient care.
Hinchingbrooke, a struggling trust in Cambridgeshire, was taken over in February. But NHS figures show that since the company, Circle, stepped in to save the debt-ridden hospital from closure, it has gone from being among the worst-performing trusts in the region to one of the best.
Its accident and emergency unit is currently ranked first out of 46 NHS trusts in the Midlands and East Anglia region in terms of waiting times. Before the takeover it was consistently near the bottom and many patients were forced to wait longer than four hours.
It now also ranks fifth in terms of the proportion of patients with suspected cancer having tests within two weeks.
Previously it was one of the area’s worst performers and had missed its target every month since June 2010.
The hospital also claims to have reduced paperwork so nurses spend more time with patients – 62 per cent of their working day, up from 50 per cent – and has even hired a Michelin-starred chef to improve hospital food.
However, Circle’s chief executive Ali Parsa admitted the hospital may not meet its savings target for this year. Under the arrangement, which was overseen by the Government, Circle must ensure Hinchingbrooke saves £10million by next March, and £230million over the next ten years.
Mr Parsa said although it was ‘broadly’ on course to meet these targets, the immediate priority was improving patient care.
He said he had changed the hospital’s management style, explaining: ‘You let the doctors and nurses and the healthcare professionals – who know the patient best and who know their services best – take charge.’
The hospital – which serves 160,000 patients near Huntingdon – is being closely monitored by the Government. If deemed a success, other failing NHS trusts may follow suit.
But unions say that it is early days – and warn that the only way the hospital can save the vast sums of money required is by laying off staff.
Karen Jennings, assistant general secretary at Unison, said: ‘The staff at Hinchingbrooke Hospital have worked enormously hard to turn around what not too long ago was a failing hospital, and for this they should be rightly congratulated. ‘However, these early clinical successes should not be used by Circle to whitewash persisting financial problems.’
Before the takeover, the hospital had amassed debts of nearly £40million brought about by decades of poor management, failed private finance schemes and lack of funding from the NHS.
Twitter Tyranny in Britain
It was hailed as a medium for speaking your mind. Yet now we’re seeing draconian censorship of free speech, with people being arrested for sending insults
We appear to be in the middle of a raging freedom of speech firestorm — and no one seems to have a clue what to do about it.
In the past few days, there has been a series of examples of offensive comments posted on the internet that upset other people — and then the writers found the world falling in on them.
The most recent example involves the Olympic diver Tom Daley. After failing to win a medal on Monday, someone sent him a vile tweet saying: ‘You let your dad down i hope you know that’ [sic]. Daley’s father, who his son described as his ‘inspiration’, died last year from brain cancer.
After complaints to the police, a 17-year-old boy suspected of being responsible was arrested by the Dorset constabulary and later bailed.
It was subsequently revealed that, after Daley had tweeted his own disgusted response to the comment, the original tweeter was targeted by tens of thousands of Twitter users, who turned on him in fury with crude abuse and threats.
It then transpired that the tweeter had also posted that he wanted to ‘drown’ Daley and went on to tweet more threats, obscenities and abuse.
It is not clear if the alleged tweeter was arrested for that disgusting taunt about Daley’s father or for his other threats. But regardless of the specifics of this case, it raises wider and deeper concerns about freedom of speech. The boy was arrested under the Malicious Communications Act 1988. Did you know we had such an Act? No, neither did I. Nor did I have any idea that its provisions are so wide.
For this law makes it an offence to send an electronic communication that conveys a grossly offensive message intended to cause distress or anxiety.
Well, as a newspaper columnist, I get those kind of messages all the time from people whose purpose is undoubtedly to cause me distress or anxiety. So do many others in the public eye.
So should all these senders be prosecuted? Of course not; that would be as unenforceable as it would be draconian. So on what basis should anyone be prosecuted? Is it not alarming to have such a law that is as potentially invidious as it is oppressive?
Undoubtedly, being the target of such messages is a truly horrible experience.
Not surprisingly, Olympic athlete Jessica Ennis has said she is switching off Twitter for two weeks during the Games because she didn’t want such distraction, whether good or bad.
But are such Twitter spats really a proper matter for the police? Even threats of violence posted on the net are often merely rhetorical outbursts from people too inarticulate to express anger any other way.
Indeed, death threats on Twitter are two a penny. For example, British boxer Paul Smith found himself subjected to such threats when he suggested on Twitter that Tom Daley’s tormenter deserved ‘a hiding’, adding: ‘But what’s he done to be arrested. It’s wrong.’
It’s not surprising that the police are complaining they are ‘having to make it up as they go along’ when it comes to policing the internet.
Meanwhile, Twitter has been on the back foot over suspending the account of a British journalist, Guy Adams, after he tweeted the corporate email address of Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics, while criticising the American TV company for being ‘utter b******s’ for failing to air the opening ceremony live to viewers on the U.S west coast.
Twitter says the British writer broke its rule against publishing someone’s personal details. But Adams pointed out that Zenkel’s corporate email address was publicly available. Now Adams’s account has been reinstated.
In all this bedlam, one welcome voice of sanity has been heard from an English courtroom.
Just a few days ago, another Twitter user, Paul Chambers, was cleared of sending a menacing communication under the Communications Act.
Two years ago, unable to fly from his local airport in Yorkshire to Northern Ireland to see his girlfriend due to bad weather, he tweeted: ‘Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s*** together otherwise I am blowing the airport sky high!!’
His message caused no security alert; indeed, it was only five days later that the airport noticed it.
Overturning his conviction, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and two other judges ruled that this tweet, sent in frustration, was not intended to be menacing and was therefore not a criminal offence.
Lord Judge declared: ‘Satirical, or iconoclastic, or rude comment, the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, banter or humour, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it should, and no doubt will, continue at their customary level, quite undiminished by this legislation.’
Hallelujah! Common sense at last — at a time when Britain seems to have lost all sense of proportion, not to mention its marbles, over how to deal with insults.
For earlier this year, a student was jailed under the sinister Racially Aggravated Public Order Act for sending offensive tweets about Premier League footballer Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a heart attack during a match.
His messages were undoubtedly appalling — but to jail someone for extreme bad manners is simply oppressive.
But then, certain issues have been elevated to a kind of religion. To express heretical thoughts is to invite the attention of a secular inquisition.
When the Tory MP Aidan Burley tweeted that the Olympic opening ceremony was ‘Leftie multicultural crap’, David Cameron denounced him as ‘idiotic’ and Burley was made to grovel.
In the Guardian, historian Tristram Hunt claimed that the criticism of that ceremony made by Burley and the ‘cultural right’ ‘speaks volumes about their incompatibility with modern Britain’.
So express the wrong opinion these days and you are no longer part of British society at all — and just for criticising the (undoubted) Left-wing bias of a theatrical show!
Even before Left-wing commentators started attacking Danny Boyle dissenters, the Twittersphere was denouncing them. The hapless Burley became an un-person on Twitter barely before the Olympic cauldron was even lit.
What on earth has happened to freedom of speech in Britain?
Of course, it has always been understood that the line should be drawn at real threats of violence or intimidation.
But insult should never be criminalised because it is highly subjective. All kinds of speech or writing are vile, insulting or offensive to someone or other.
The right response is to use freedom of speech to object — but not to make the giving of offence into a crime.
Nevertheless, there is a problem with social media. By providing a platform for everyone, with none of the usual media gatekeepers to police it, social media has created an electronic mob. It has given a megaphone to every misfit with a grudge and social inadequate in the land.
One way of tackling that is for Twitter and other electronic outlets to require all users to post messages using their real names.
But while anarchy rages on the net, Britain is steadily shutting down dissent.
The Twittersphere has created the electronic equivalent of the Roman Colosseum, with millions of computer cursors poised to tweet the electronic thumbs down to destroy their victims’ reputation.
Social media is thus helping enforce the menacing codes of a society which, in the name of diversity and inclusiveness, arrests, suspends and even jails dissenters while the mob savagely tweets their social demise.
Men can wear skirts at Oxford University as academic dress code is changed to ‘meet needs of cross-dressing students’
For centuries, the sight of Oxford students in their distinctive academic gowns has been as familiar in the city as its dreaming spires.
But the ancient university has been forced to rewrite its traditional dress code – to avoid upsetting transgender students.
From next month, men will be allowed to wear skirts or stockings to exams while women can choose suits or white bow ties.
Under the old regulations, male students were required to wear a dark suit with dark socks, black shoes, a white bow tie, and a plain white shirt and collar beneath their black gowns when attending formal occasions such as examinations.
The dress code is strictly enforced by the university’s authorities, which have the power to punish students deemed in breach of the rules. Punishments range from fines to rustication – the suspension of a student for a period of time – or expulsion, known as ‘sending down’.
However, the university’s council, headed by Vice-Chancellor Andrew Hamilton, has dropped any distinction between the sexes by deleting all references to men and women.
While students are still required to dress appropriately for formal occasions and exams, they no longer need to ensure their ‘sub-fusc’ – the clothes worn with full academic dress – is distinctive ‘for each sex’.
The reforms were introduced following a campaign by the student union, which argued that transgender students, including transvestite or ‘gender confused’ men and women, could face punishment if they wore ‘inappropriate’ dress.
Jess Pumphrey, the union’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer executive officer, said the change would make a small number of students’ exam experiences ‘significantly less stressful by eliminating the need for trans students to cross-dress to avoid being… disciplined during their exam’.
She said there was ‘an active transgender community’ in Oxford, and every member she had spoken to ‘had found sub-fusc, under the old regulations, to be stressful’. But one unnamed law student told the university newspaper Cherwell: ‘This seems a bit unnecessary. It only applies to a tiny percentage of the student population and it seems unlikely that a trans student would really be confronted about what they are wearing.’
Former students also voiced their concerns about the change. Ann Widdecombe, who graduated from Lady Margaret Hall in 1972, said: ‘If men want to prance around in skirts, that is entirely up to them.
‘In my day, it would have been unthinkable – men were men and women were women, and we dressed accordingly. But I think the university is just saving itself from a silly row, and from that point of view I’m on their side. Why go courting a silly row when they don’t need one?’
A spokesman for Oxford said: ‘The regulations have been amended to remove any reference to gender, in response to concerns raised by Oxford University Student Union that regulations did not serve the interests of transgender students.’
Want to live longer? Ditch the diet, cancel your gym session – just eat very little
This appears to have worked for the Japanese. Up until about 1960, most were very poorly fed, rarely getting as much to eat as they would have liked. That has two effects: Stunted growth and longer lifespan. Both effects are seen in older Japanese, many of whom live for a century or more and who are about 6″ shorter than younger Japanese
It will be interesting to see what transpires if North Korea is ever liberated. They have chronic famine there and the average North Korean is 7″ shorter than the average South Korean
Forget exercise, fad diets or so-called miracle pills – if you want to live longer simply eat less, a leading scientist has claimed.
Dr Michael Mosley, a presenter on BBC science show Horizon, said ongoing research suggested that a high metabolic rate – how much energy the body uses for normal body functions – is a risk factor for earlier mortality.
And he revealed that communities in Japan and the U.S. which follow strict, low-calorie diets appear to have a lifespan longer than the global average.
The 55-year-old said of calorie restriction diets, which are often as low as 600 calories a day: ‘The bottom line is that it is the only thing that’s ever really been shown to prolong life.
‘Ultimately, ageing is a product of a high metabolic rate, which in turn increases the number of free radicals we consume.
‘If you stress the body out by restricting calories or fasting, this seems to cause it to adapt and slow the metabolism down. It’s a version of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.’
Dr Mosley said he did not believe it was necessary to eat three meals a day because ‘what we think of as hunger is mainly habit’.
In a new Horizon programme, he also suggests that intermittent fasting could offer the same benefits as calorie restriction by reducing the growth of hormone IGF-1.
While the hormone maintains and repairs tissue, high levels have been shown to contribute towards cancer and ageing.
New approach: Forget exercise, fad diets or so-called miracle pills ¿ if you want to live longer simply eat less, a leading scientist has claimed
New approach: Forget exercise, fad diets or so-called miracle pills – if you want to live longer simply eat less, a leading scientist has claimed
His comments, made to the Radio Times, come after the Institute of Health Ageing at University College London suggested eating 40 per cent less could extend a person’s life by 20 years.
A researcher said: ‘If you reduce the diet of a rat by 40 per cent it will live for 20 per cent longer. So we would be talking 20 years of human life.
‘This has shown on all sorts of organisms, even labradors.’
Anxiety ‘raises risk of early death by a fifth’
There could be a social class explanation here if working class people experience more stress. Even if they don’t, chronic depression is a mental illness and we know that working class people have poorer health generally
Even low levels of stress of anziety can increase the risk of fatal heart attacks or stroke by up to a fifth, a study has shown. Anxiety and low-level depression appear to set off physiological changes that make the body more prone to death from cardiovascular disease.
A quarter of adults are at risk of an early death even though their problems are relatively mild, it found.
People who suffer from clinical depression or other major mental health problems have a greater chance of dying early. But now British researchers have found that even those with problems they don’t consider serious enough to bring to a doctor’s attention, are at an increased risk.
The team found those with “sub-clinical” anxiety or depression had a 20 per cent higher chance of dying over a decade than those who did not.
The researchers, from universities and hospitals in Edinburgh and London, looked at deaths in 68,000 middle aged and older people who they followed from 1994 to 2004.
They found those suffering from sub-clinical anxiety and depression were at a 29 per cent increased risk of dying from heart disease and stroke.
They were also at a 29 per cent increased risk of dying from ‘external causes’ like road accidents and suicide, although these only accounted for a tiny proportion of deaths.
It had been thought that depressed or anxious people were more likely to die early because they failed to take good care of themselves – perhaps smoking and drinking more, eating worse and doing less exercise.
But Dr Tom Russ, lead author of the study, published in the British Medical Journal, said: “These ‘usual suspects’ only make a small difference to mortality.”
Even when these factors and others – including blood pressure – were stripped out of the equation, the link remained, he emphasised.
The psychiatrist, of the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre at Edinburgh University, said this suggested stress altered the physiology of the body to make it intrinsically less healthy.
In particular, he said it could make the body more vulnerable to heart attack and stroke. He said: “It’s early days, but there’s growing interest in potential physiological changes associated with both distress and cardiovascular pathology.”
Dr Russ pointed out that the group they looked at were not those with serious depression who were simply avoiding medical help. “If these individuals went to a doctor, they wouldn’t be diagnosed with depression,” he said. So many people had mild anxiety or depression, “that we really need to take it seriously”, he argued.
But he said neither he nor colleagues who worked on the project were advocating “the medicalisation of anxiety”, nor suggesting people suffering from it should go on drugs.
If anything, they thought treatments not based on drugs should be investigated.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said: “This research highlights the importance of seeking help for mental health problems as soon as they become apparent, as early intervention leads to much better health outcomes all round.”
*Meanwhile, new figures show that the number of anti-depressants prescriptions being issued in England has risen by almost 10 per cent in just a year.
Data from the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care show that the number rose from 42.8 million prescriptions in 2010 to 46.7million in 2011 – a rise of 3.9 million, or 9.1 per cent.
The NHS is now spending £49.8 million on anti-depressants such as citalopram and fluoxetine, better known by its brand name, Prozac.
Of all drug types, antidepressants saw the biggest rise in cost and items dispensed between 2010 and 2011.
British football authorities charge man over “choc ice” comment
Must not allude to skin color?
MANCHESTER United star Rio Ferdinand has been charged by the Football Association over his “choc-ice” Tweet.
Following the recent John Terry racism trial, in which Chelsea and England defender Terry was acquitted of racially abusing Ferdinand’s younger brother Anton, Rio responded to a Tweet that described Chelsea defender and defence witness Ashley Cole as a “choc-ice”.
The term is commonly understood to mean “black on the outside, white on the inside”.
It was a reference to Cole’s testimony in court, in which he said he never heard Terry make a racist remark to Anton Ferdinand during the match in question, between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea, at Loftus Road last October.
“The FA has today charged Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand with improper conduct in relation to comments posted on Twitter,” said an FA statement.
“The allegation is that the player acted in a way which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute by making comments which included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.”
Terry was found not guilty earlier this month after a five-day trial at Westminster Magistrates Court but the FA has since charged Terry in relation to the same case.
Journalist censored over games tweets
Must not criticize a TV network??
A British journalist’s Twitter account has been suspended after he made a series of critical remarks about NBC’s coverage of the London Olympics, sparking a wave of indignation online and claims of censorship.
The microblogging service suspended Guy Adams, the Los Angeles correspondent for London-based daily The Independent, after he sent a tweet on Friday revealing NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel’s email address.
Adams was among a number of Twitter users in the US who vented their frustration with NBC for showing the London Olympics’ opening ceremony on delay to coincide with evening prime-time in the United States.
“America’s left coast forced to watch Olympic ceremony on SIX HOUR time delay. Disgusting money-grabbing by @NBColympics,” Adams tweeted.
Another read: “I have 1000 channels on my TV. Not one will be showing the Olympics opening ceremony live. Because NBC are utter, utter bastards.”
“The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think!,” Adams tweeted, along with Zenkel’s work email address.
Zenkel’s WORK email address was already publicly available. Twitter has now backed down and reinstated the account.