Parents’ horror after daughter, 12, lay dead in NHS hospital for so long that rigor mortis had set in
The parents of a 12-year-old NHS patient claim she was left for so long by staff that rigor mortis had set in by the time anyone realised she was dead.
Emma Stones, who had cerebral palsy and a mental age of five, was admitted to hospital with flu-like symptoms last year. But staff failed to diagnose a bacterial infection because they were too busy to carry out basic blood tests and neglected to check on her properly, an inquest has been told.
Her parents, Mike Stones and Tracy Futcher, claim Emma was left alone in a room at Tameside General Hospital, in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, for hours without proper care and died overnight after developing blood poisoning without anyone realising.
Her father said that when they arrived at the hospital at 8.30am the next morning after being called there by staff, a doctor said: ‘Emma’s heart has just stopped, she has just died.’ But Mr Stones, 59, who was Emma’s full-time carer, said yesterday that by then she was already ‘stiff as a board’.
He added: ‘We are disgusted with Tameside hospital. They took a chance with my daughter and left her. They haven’t a clue when she died. I went to kiss her on the forehead and she was ice cold, as though she’d come out of a fridge.
‘I felt her limbs and she was as stiff as a board and they tried to insult my intelligence by saying she had just died. I believe she was left alone, not monitored, and died at maybe 3am and that’s how rigor mortis set in four or five hours later. How can they treat people like this? It’s worse than an animal.’
Last year an inquest revealed a catalogue of errors. Emma, who lived with her parents and twin sister Christina in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, was admitted to hospital on February 6, 2011, following concerns from the community nursing team.
Coroner John Pollard, who is due to deliver his verdict today, was told that when Emma arrived no one took her blood pressure, and blood tests were not done because a senior registrar was too busy to help a junior doctor take a sample.
As a result, medics had no idea she was suffering from a bacterial infection which developed into septicaemia. Although Emma, who was wheelchair bound, should have been monitored every four hours, three nurses failed to look in on her during the night.
Evidence given to the hospital’s internal inquiry by the nurse who found Emma’s body suggested that rigor mortis had already set in. One nurse was suspended as a result of Emma’s death and later received a warning at an internal disciplinary hearing. Nobody has been dismissed.
Although Mr Pollard said it was unlikely Emma would have survived had anything been done differently, her family are not convinced.
A Tameside hospital spokesman said it had co-operated with the coroner’s inquiry and that it would be inappropriate to comment until a verdict had been delivered.
Bill for blunders on NHS maternity wards nearly doubles in a year to £420 million
The bill for blunders made on NHS maternity wards has nearly doubled in just 12 months to more than £420 million.
The spiralling costs relate to mistakes by staff that have resulted in a baby dying or suffering brain damage or disability, or that have caused injury to mothers during labour.
The sum reflects the growing cost of care and treatment needed to support a disabled child or mother over their lifetime, as well as an increase in the number of cases being brought because of the availability of ‘no-win, no-fee’ arrangements with lawyers.
New figures released by the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) show that £422.9 million was paid out in compensation and legal fees in the financial year 2011-12 for obstetric claims, compared with £234.8 million the previous year.
Some of these settlements date back years as cases can often take a long time to settle. The latest payouts are more than four times the amount of compensation received eight years ago.
In 2011-12, 1,038 new claims were made and 1,045 were submitted during the previous year. In contrast, 786 new claims were made in 2009-10.
A spokesman for the NHSLA, which defends hospitals in England against clinical negligence claims, said: ‘The bill has gone up substantially and there are two reasons for this.
‘One is that the cost of caring for babies and mothers who suffer birth traumas is going up.
‘The other reason is that legal costs have been going up all the time. ‘No-win, no-fee lawyers are paid a success fee for winning the case, which can add 100 per cent on to the cost of a claim.’
The number of babies being born in the UK has also increased over recent years, driven partly by immigration. This has placed additional pressure on hospital maternity units.
More than 25 per cent of the 700,000 babies born in 2010 were to mothers who were not themselves born in the UK.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients’ Association, said: ‘What the NHS has to learn is that very often these serious mistakes are avoidable.
‘They happen because we don’t have the appropriate number of staff with the right skills and experience.’
Peter Walsh, chief executive of patient safety charity Action against Medical Accidents, added: ‘Part of the problem is the NHS strings out claims rather than admitting liability early on, which increases the legal costs.’
British PM risks backlash from Liberals as he gives in to Tory rebels and kills off plans to reform House of Lords
A major coalition row erupted last night after it emerged that David Cameron will kill off plans to reform the House of Lords within days.
Senior Liberal Democrats warned there would be ‘serious consequences’ if the Tories fail to deliver on the ‘non-negotiable’ coalition policy – a cherished plan of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Mr Cameron is expected to next week announce that plans for an elected second chamber have been abandoned after failing to persuade Tory backbenchers to support them.
The Liberal Democrats are now expected to retaliate by blocking constituency boundary changes, which had been expected to give the Tories a significant electoral boost. One party grandee even said the flagship NHS reforms should be wrecked in retaliation.
But senior Tory backbenchers said last night that the coalition would be ‘finished’ if this happened.
Earlier this year, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg outlined plans to reform the House of Lords by electing 80 per cent of peers and almost halving the total number of members to 450.
But more than 90 Conservatives rebelled against the government in a vote in July – the largest such act of defiance since the coalition was formed in 2010.
Mr Cameron told Tory MPs last month he would make ‘one more try’ to push Lords reform through in September when the Commons returned from its summer recess. But he is understood to have concluded he was ‘flogging a dead horse’.
The Prime Minister wants to fill the gap in the Government’s legislative programme with plans to boost jobs and growth.
But the move is set to plunge the coalition into crisis with bitter recriminations flying between the parties.
Sources close to Mr Clegg warned that the Liberal Democrats could not be ‘bought off’ with concessions such as political party reform or more support for green energy.
The House of Lords Reform Bill 2012
The source said: ‘We have made our position clear the whole way along. A deal is a deal and there will be consequences if that deal is not delivered.’
Dr Evan Harris, a Vice of Chair of the Party’s powerful Federal Policy Committee, said that the Liberal Democrats should now withdraw support on a range of Tory policies.
He said: ‘If the Tories cannot deliver on a fundamental part of the coalition contract like Lord’s reform, then the fate of boundary changes is just a side show.
‘Liberal Democrats – in the event of the Conservatives failing to deliver basic coalition policies – should start looking again at things the Tories had in their manifesto and which – regardless of whether they are in the coalition programme – should now have support withdrawn.
‘There is no reason why secondary legislation necessary to implement aspects of Bills already passed – such as the Health Bill – should not now be blocked.’
Mr Clegg is understood to have been enraged that the Liberal Democrats have kept their side by backing deeply unpopular measures such as NHS reforms, tuition fees and welfare reforms.
It would be the latest humiliation for the Deputy Prime Minister who last year suffered defeat in the AV referendum – another of his keystone policies.
Senior Lib Dem figures have publicly warned they would block constituency boundary changes wanted by the Tories if Lords reform was abandoned.
While the issue is not directly linked to Lords reform in the Coalition agreement, senior Lib Dems have made clear that they see it as part of the same ‘contract’
Lib Dem Party President Tim Farron said in April: ‘The Conservatives need to remember that if they don’t keep their part of the bargain then, of course, boundary change should not happen.’
But Tory backbenchers counter that boundary reform was always linked to the AV referendum which was delivered last year.
The boundary review is being carried out as part of proposals to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 but is expected to benefit the Conservatives.
Some experts believe the new-look map could give the party an additional 20 seats at the next general election and put several senior Lib Dems at risk.
Tory MP Stewart Jackson, who joined the rebellion over House of Lords reform, warned that the coalition would be ‘finished’ if the Liberal Democrats voted down boundary changes.
He said: ‘It would be unconscionable for David Cameron to give ground to the Liberal Democrats on boundary changes. Tory MPs voted on a three line whip for the AV referendum that could have put us out of power. We were prepared to do that on the that basis that we got boundary changes.
‘If the Liberal Democrats vote against this, it would be an egregious breach of faith. Boundary changes are non-negotiable.
‘The coalition is not over yet. But if the Liberal Democrats vote against boundary changes, the coalition will be finished and David Cameron’s own position will be much weakened.’
But David Hall-Matthews, chair of the Social Liberal Forum, said it was ‘inevitable’ that the Liberal Democrats would now try to kill off boundary changes.
He said: ‘They are part of the same package. You can’t have one without the other. This reflects very badly on David Cameron’s leadership and shows he cannot control his own party.’
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: ‘Nick Clegg marched his MPs through the voting lobbies in support of the harsh and unfair policies of this Tory-led Government in anticipation of receiving Lords reform in return. But now Nick Clegg may end up with nothing, ruthlessly exposing his naivety.’
Electoral Reform Society chief executive Katie Ghose said: ‘This reform is vital for Britain to hold its head up as a modern democracy but it is being sabotaged by MPs who think it will work against their own interests.’
A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘Discussions on Lords reform are ongoing and we will make an announcement when they are completed.’
Almost half of those held in Britain’s 2011 riots have been re-arrested for crimes including rape, threats to kill and robbery
Which shows how little of a deterrent Britain’s prisons are
Days before the anniversary of the disorder, official figures show that 44 per cent of riot suspects have been arrested on suspicion of committing fresh offences within the last 12 months.
The statistics, released under the Freedom of Information Act, have raised serious questions over the penalties handed out to offenders.
More than half of those locked up over the riots are already free and thousands more have evaded justice. Police in Nottingham made 143 arrests following the disorder in August last year. Of these, 86 were charged.
But in the last 12 months, 72 suspects – half of those arrested – have been held again for crimes including rape, arson, robbery, threats to kill and breaching bail or parole conditions.
The force said some of these offenders had been arrested for multiple crimes since their release.
They are accused of carrying out 20 thefts and robberies, two rapes, nine assaults, 16 drugs offences and 14 of them have skipped bail, gone on the run or failed to comply with community orders, said Avon and Somerset Police.
It appears almost half of the rioters got a taste for breaking the law and have gone on to further break the law
A similar pattern has emerged outside the major cities, despite the much lower numbers of rioters involved. Gloucestershire Police made 40 arrests and prosecuted 19 offenders.
One in six of those arrested are alleged to have carried out subsequent robberies, burglaries, grievous bodily harm, criminal damage and public order offences. In Cheshire, 110 of the 250 people arrested over the riots have faced further police action.
But the true number of rioters who have committed other crimes could be even higher. Some of the largest police forces, such as the Metropolitan Police, have been unable to calculate the proportion of reoffending due to the sheer number of cases it had to deal with.
Yesterday, Dr David Green, of think-tank Civitas, said: ‘This is a reaffirmation that nothing has changed after the rhetoric. ‘I think the picture is that a lot of people who were arrested and charged and found guilty were already serious criminals. ‘This is a reminder that in this country we do not punish our career criminals properly.
‘They are allowed to go in and out of jail and this just reaffirms that we are continuing the same bad practice. If you punish them lightly you will get more crime.’
The figures come days before the anniversary of the riots, which started in London on August 6 last year and quickly spread around the country over four days of violence and looting. Official figures show that 1,968 people were sentenced for their involvement in the riots.
As of last month, 1,292 of them had been jailed but some 700 – including burglars, thieves and violent thugs – have already been released.
And 676 were let off with community punishments, suspended sentences, fines or saw their crimes ‘discharged’ by the courts.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘Nearly 1,300 people were sentenced to immediate custody with an average prison term of more than 16 months each and a high number receiving far longer sentences. ‘If people go on to commit further offences their previous crimes will be taken into account, and they could find themselves facing even longer prison sentences.’
Shake up sport so more state pupils can win: Olympics chief blasts ‘unacceptably’ high number of privately educated Team GB medallists
They could start by DOING more sport in Comprehensive schools. Many of them do very little
The high proportion of privately-educated Team GB medallists is ‘unacceptable’, the chairman of the British Olympic Association said yesterday.
Just 7 per cent of the population go to independent schools – but more than half of Britain’s golds in the 2008 Beijing Games were won by former private school pupils.
So far, Team GB has nine gold medallists in the 2012 Games. Four were privately educated, and a fifth went to school in Germany.
BOA chief Lord Moynihan, himself a former public schoolboy, called for an overhaul of school sport policy to provide more chances for state pupils. ‘It’s one of the worst statistics in British sport,’ he claimed. ‘It is wholly unacceptable that over 50 per cent of our medallists in Beijing came from the private sector.
‘It tells you that 50 per cent of the medals came from 7 per cent of the population. ‘There is so much talent out there in the 93 per cent that should be identified and developed. That has got to be a priority for future sports policy. ‘I have spoken about it many times and I will continue to speak about it until there is not breath left in me.’
The Conservative peer continued: ‘The balance of professional football is that around 7 per cent of players come from the private sector, which is an absolute mirror image of society.
‘That should be the case in every single sport, and that should be the priority in each and every sport, and that is something that every government should strive for.’
At the previous Olympics, a third of Team GB went to independent schools. They included multiple gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, who attended George Watson’s College in Edinburgh, and every equestrian medallist.
Non-state schools can afford to devote more time to sport. They usually have better facilities and often boast top-class coaches.
The discrepancy is especially noticeable in sports whose basic entry costs are high, such as equestrian events and sailing.
Rowing has already taken action to address the imbalance, with Mo Sbihi, who won bronze in the men’s eight on Wednesday, among the beneficiaries. The Start programme, launched more than a decade ago, has encouraged rowing coaches to visit comprehensive schools and scout teenagers with the necessary physique to become elite rowers. As a result, half of Team GB’s rowers at the London Games are from state schools.
When asked if too many medals were being won by former public school pupils, David Cameron said: ‘We need to spend on state school sport and we are spending a billion pounds over the next five years.
‘We need to make sure people have those opportunities. Frankly, one of the best things will be the Olympics and the legacy and the inspiration for young people to take part.’
Tory MP Charlotte Leslie said the statistics were ‘really, really worrying’. She told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that state schools were often reluctant to promote competition.
‘There’s a massive problem with sports and facilities in our schools, but it’s also a much deeper problem,’ she said. ‘I wonder if it’s a problem to do with culture. The reason the private sector does well in education is that it’s very unapologetic about competition – there are winners and there are losers – and this is certainly not the case for all state schools.’
A starvation diet could actually be good for you – and make you live longer
This has been known from animal studies for many years but it seems to be reaching a wider audience these days
Tomorrow, a BBC TV Horizon investigation looks into the health benefits of fasting.
Science reporter Michael Mosley speaks to scientists who have discovered that periods of eating very little or nothing may be the key to controlling chemicals produced by the body linked to the development of disease and the ageing process. This backs up recent studies on animals fed very low-calorie diets which found the thinnest (without being medically underweight or malnourished) are the healthiest and live the longest.
The key, say researchers at the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute, is the hormone Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). Mosley explains: ‘IGF-1 and other growth factors keep our cells constantly active. It’s like driving with your foot on the accelerator pedal, which is fine when your body is shiny and new, but keep doing this all the time and it will break down.’
According to Professor Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute, one way to take the foot off the accelerator, and reduce IGF-1 levels dramatically – as well as cholesterol, and blood pressure – is by fasting.
Controversial theory: The reason experts haven¿t emphasised this is that they don¿t want to trigger eating disorders or demotivate the overweight trying to get into the healthy weight range
Controversial theory: The reason experts haven¿t emphasised this is that they don¿t want to trigger eating disorders or demotivate the overweight trying to get into the healthy weight range
‘You need adequate levels of IGF-1 and other growth factors when you are growing, but high levels later in life appear to lead to accelerated ageing,’ he says. ‘The evidence comes from animals such as the Laron mice we have bred which have been genetically engineered so they don’t respond to IGF-1. They are small but extraordinarily long-lived.’
The average mouse has a life span of two years – but the Laron typically live 40 per cent longer. The oldest has lived to the human equivalent of 160. They are immune to heart disease and cancer and when they die, as Prof Longo puts it: ‘They simply drop dead.’
During the film, Mosley tries various fasts – for three days straight, and for two days a week, for six weeks – with dramatic results. Not only does he lose weight, but his cholesterol levels and blood pressure improve. These findings chime with recent reports that reaching a ‘healthy’ Body Mass Index (BMI) may not be enough – we need to be as slim as possible to reduce our risk of illness.
The reason experts haven’t emphasised this is that they don’t want to trigger eating disorders or demotivate the overweight trying to get into the healthy weight range. There is only so long, however, we can shy away from this because the evidence keeps mounting.
Matthew Piper, of the Institute of Healthy Ageing, University College London, says: ‘Studies on monkeys show if we restrict the diet there is a delay in the onset of cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes in later life as well as staving off dementia.’
Reducing our food intake over months or years could boost lifespan by 15 to 30 per cent, experts believe.
You can eat pretty much what you want, but the catch is that you have to go through periods of fasting.
I’ve always followed medical advice: never crash diet. But after speaking to Professor Valter Longo, who has been studying the health benefits of fasting, I agreed to try it.
I fasted for just over three days. I ate nothing at all for 82 hours, but drank plenty of water and black tea, plus one cup of low-calorie soup a day. It wasn’t much fun, but I didn’t get any headaches, I slept fine and I felt energetic throughout.
At the end, I had missed out on about 7,500 calories worth of meals. Since you need to cut your food intake by about 3,500 calories to lose 1lb of fat, that means I’d lost just over 2lb of flab.
I also had my blood tested and my levels of the hormone IGF-1 – which scientists believe is linked to ageing – were significantly lower than before.
This, says Valter, is the key to how fasting helps prolong lifespan. The lower our IGF-1, the less likely we are to develop a host of diseases.
The problem was I couldn’t see myself doing three-day fasts regularly, so I tried out something less extreme. I met Dr Krista Varady, of the University of Illinois, Chicago. She explained the merits of Alternate Day Fasting (ADF).
One day you eat whatever you want, the next day you fast. Even on my fasting days I would be allowed about 600 calories.
She said: ‘We recently finished a trial that looked at two different groups, about 16 people in each, doing ADF for ten weeks. We put one group on a low-fat diet, eating lean meats fruits and vegetables. The other group were eating lasagne and pizza. Both groups lost weight but the people eating high-fat meals lost the same amount of weight as those eating low-fat meals.’
And it wasn’t just weight loss. Both groups saw similar falls in the ‘bad’ cholesterol, LDL, and in blood pressure.
I gave it a go, but found it too hard and ended up doing a 600-calorie fast one or two days a week.
I started out at 13½ st. After six weeks on my new regime, I have lost 20lb. My cholesterol, blood glucose and IGF-1 have all improved markedly.
I do believe that with intermittent fasting I can slow down my cells and extend my healthy years. So I plan to stick with it.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up — on his usual vastly “incorrect” themes of race, genes, IQ etc.