Boy disabled at birth after doctors failed to spot plummeting blood sugar levels set for £1m payout
It would be so much cheaper for the taxpayer — and better for all concerned — if NHS staff did their job properly in the first place but that is obviously an impossible dream. That individual staff members suffer little or no penalty for negligence causes a lot of suffering and loss
A boy left brain damaged as a baby after doctors failed to spot his blood sugar levels had plummeted is set to be awarded more than £1million in compensation.
Lucas Hillier began suffering from hypoglycaemia two days after his mother Kerry gave birth to him at Good Hope Hospital in the West Midlands.
But he was not diagnosed with the dangerous condition until the next day – and as a result he developed cerebral palsy.
Five years on, the brain damage has left Lucas with limited movement in his upper and lower body, severe epilepsy and very poor eyesight.
Hospital bosses have since admitted liability and are now set to make a seven-figure payout to his family to pay for his future care.
Kerry, aged 34 and from Sutton Coldfield, said: ‘NHS Trusts must spend more time training maternity staff about the dangers of hypoglycaemia and how to spot the symptoms and react quickly. ‘It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that, if that had happened after Lucas was born, he would be fit and healthy today.’
Kerry and husband Ben, 35, a police scenes of crime officer, first realised something was wrong on June 23 in 2007 when two-day-old Lucas became very sleepy and drowsy.
They flagged up their concerns throughout the day. But nothing was done until the next morning when a paediatrician saw Lucas and rushed him to the special care unit.
‘They told us then that his blood sugar was low and over the next three weeks he spent time in intensive care,” said mum-of-three Kerry. ‘Eventually Lucas was discharged and we thought nothing was wrong. He had an MRI scan but we didn’t hear from the hospital for months after that.’
In November 2007 the couple met doctors to discuss the MRI results – and were given devastating news. Kerry added: ‘We were told he had brain damage which was due to hyperglycaemia. We were shocked and devastated. It was like a bolt out of the blue.’
The couple instructed Birmingham-based lawyers Irwin Mitchell to look into their case.
News of the imminent payout comes weeks after Lucas celebrated his fifth birthday.
Kerry, who gave up her PR job to care for Lucas, said: ‘He’s a lovely little boy but there were so many times we weren’t sure what his future might hold. ‘He continues to amaze us with his progress and dotes on his two little brothers. We’ve had an interim payment which has helped towards carers and a specially-adapted house.
‘It’s reassuring that Lucas does have access to these specialist facilities and we hope the settlement eventually agreed will allow him to have this for life.’
A spokesman for Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Good Hope Hospital, said: ‘We would again like to offer our sincere apologies to Lucas Hillier and his family.
‘Lucas suffered poor feeding and lethargy because he was suffering from hypoglycaemia. He was not treated for this immediately and as a result experienced a worse outcome than may otherwise have occurred.’
Kerry also firmly believes prevention, in the form of breast feeding support, is critical. She added: ‘Lucas was my first child and I had no idea how important establishing feeding was. I totally relied upon the advice of the midwives and, despite his lethargy, I was reassured he was fine and to keep trying.
‘I strongly believe that if women are being told ‘breast is best’ that a consistent and supportive approach needs to be delivered.
‘If this were the case, women would more likely persist with breast feeding and, more importantly, children like Lucas wouldn’t be left to suffer the horrendous consequences.’
Local hospital trusts to be banned from blacklisting drugs backed by health watchdog
Primary Care Trusts will be stopped from blacklisting drugs approved by the NHS drug rationing watchdog from April 2013, according to the Department of Health.
NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson has written to the leaders of the PCTs and Strategic Health Authorities telling them to start removing drugs from local blacklists that have been approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.
He added that this would be a standard clause in NHS contracts from next year. NHS chief pharmacists will also be asked to review local formularies – the list of preferred generic and brand name drugs.
NICE was established in 1999 in an attempt to tackle the postcode lottery of healthcare in England and Wales.
It is an independent organisation that decides which drugs and treatments should be available on the NHS based on how well it works and whether it is cost-effective.
However, last year a report in GP Magazine revealed a quarter of PCTs were not offering drugs recommended by NICE. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley responded by saying trusts would be forced to make NICE-approved drugs available.
Sir David’s letter, dated the 9 August, reinforced this statement. He wrote: ‘Our intention was, and remains clear – to support patient access to NICE recommended medicines and technologies.’
He said local drugs lists should not challenge NICE appraisal recommendations and that once they had been approved ‘there should be no further barriers’ for the medicines.
He added that although ‘good progress’ had been made towards removing postcode lotteries there is ‘much more to do to reduce variation.’
Sir David said all NHS organisations would need to publish information showing how NICE appraisals are taken into account when drawing up approved drugs lists. He added they would need to be clear and transparent so patients can easily understand them.
UK pays to refit foreign prisons: Taxpayers foot bill to revamp jails in Nigeria and Jamaica so criminals can be deported without breaching their human rights
British taxpayers are paying to make jails in Jamaica and Nigeria more comfortable in a desperate bid to persuade foreign criminals to serve their sentences at home.
Ministers have resorted to the tactic – designed to satisfy the human rights of inmates – after it emerged that the UK’s own prison system has turned into a ‘United Nations of crime’.
Research by the House of Commons library, seen by the Mail, reveals how our jails contain inmates from a staggering 156 countries – more than three out of every four member states of the UN.
Worryingly, the total number of foreign prisoners is rising – despite pledges by David Cameron to fix the mess. By March this year, there were 11,127 behind bars, at an estimated cost to the UK public purse of more than £420million. This is up from 10,778 in 2011.
The group, which includes rapists, murderers and burglars, now makes up more than one in every eight convicts.
The figures were disclosed as the Prime Minister faced more criticism yesterday over his foreign aid commitments.
Mr Cameron was taking part in a radio phone-in when a pensioner called to tell him it was wrong that she was denied a cancer drug while billions were spent on overseas aid.
Meanwhile, it emerged that the dire need to create space in our packed jails has prompted ministers to take the extraordinary step of establishing a £3million annual pot to make it easier for convicts to serve their sentences back home.
Splashing money on prisons abroad is certain to prove controversial. But officials insist it will be cheaper in the long run than the annual £38,000 bill for keeping a single prisoner locked up here.
Currently, money is being spent in Jamaica to ‘assist Jamaican authorities in modernising their prison service and rehabilitation and reintegration activities’.
In Nigeria, one project supports the provision of ‘human rights training for prison officers’. A second project will construct new facilities at a women’s prison in its biggest city, Lagos, to reduce overcrowding.
Jamaica tops the list of the nations with most prisoners in British jails, with 900 inmates. There are 594 Nigerians.
Last night Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: ‘To some extent, this is the inevitable legacy of mass immigration of 3.5million people under Labour. ‘The resources necessary to tackle the rising number of foreign prisoners have not been made available.’
Tory MP Priti Patel said: ‘Prison is always the best place for dangerous criminals, but our jails should not be used as hotels for foreigners. Ministers need to take action to deport them to serve their sentences in the countries they come from and then stop them from coming back to Britain.
‘Living in Britain is a privilege and foreigners who come here and flout our laws should be sent packing without delay.’
In November 2010, the Mail revealed how the Prime Minister had decided to spearhead a campaign for foreign criminals to serve their sentences back home.
To do this, ministers must be able to convince the courts that the offenders will not suffer breaches of their human rights by being made to stay in squalid conditions.
The Ministry of Justice said it had just signed a new agreement which should see a greater number of Albanian prisoners being transferred from the UK to complete their sentences.
The compulsory prisoner transfer agreement is the first they have managed to agree with a nation with a large number of foreign national offenders in UK prisons. They now hope to agree more.
There are currently around 180 Albanian prisoners in UK prisons, of whom over 100 may be eligible for transfer.
The agreement also means that British citizens who are serving prison sentences in Albania may also be compulsorily transferred back to the UK. Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt said: ‘We are already removing thousands of foreign criminals at the end of their sentence, or under transfer agreements to serve the rest of their sentence back home.
‘We believe that, wherever possible, foreign national prisoners should serve their sentences in their own country. ‘Not only will it save money for the UK, it will also mean that these prisoners will be closer to family and friends.This helps to support prisoners’ social rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
‘Transfers also help their home country to put in place any appropriate public protection measures on their release.
‘I hope this compulsory prisoner transfer agreement will be the first of many arrangements to free up prison spaces and reduce the burden to taxpayers of foreign criminals who should rightly become the responsibility of their own country and not the UK.’
The last government tried a string of desperate tactics to reduce the number of overseas inmates. Offenders were offered credit cards pre-loaded with more than £450 – funded by the taxpayer – if they agreed to return home.
The perk was part of a package worth up to £5,000 designed to ‘bribe’ them to leave the UK.
Man arrested in Britain for not smiling
I doubt that even Orwell envisaged this
A father with Parkinson’s disease was arrested as he watched the Olympic cycling road race because he ‘failed to smile or look like he was enjoying himself’.
Mark Worsfold, a martial arts trainer and former soldier, claims that he was thrown to the floor and handcuffed just as cyclists passed by.
His worried wife Nicola only found out he was being held after she reported him missing when he did not turn up for their daughter’s ninth birthday party.
The 54-year-old had his fingerprints, DNA and mugshot taken before being questioned about why he did not appear to be enjoying the event on July 28.
Police said Mr Worsfold, who was held for over five hours, was arrested because of ‘his manner, his state of dress and his proximity to the course’.
A spokesman added that the arrest was necessary to avoid a breach of the peace because he was standing near a group of protesters.
But Mr Worsfold, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010, said that one of the symptoms of the disease is muscle rigidity, which can cause his face to become expressionless and mask-like.
Mr Worsfold, who had stopped to watch the men’s road race in Leatherhead, Surrey, after holding a Taekwondo demonstration nearby, said officers told him he was being arrested and taken to Reigate police station because he was not smiling.
‘The police grabbed me off this seven-foot wall, threw me to the floor and cuffed me.’ ‘I was sitting minding my own business,’ he told a local newspaper. ‘Before I knew anything the police grabbed me off this seven-foot wall, threw me to the floor and cuffed me so all I saw of the cycle race was between the feet of people from the pavement.
‘It could have been done better. I was arrested for not smiling. I have Parkinson’s.’
Mr Worsfold, who lives in an £800,000 three-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Ockham near Woking, has since asked for a letter of exoneration from police.
Surrey Police said he was initially arrested on suspicion of a public order offence but was ‘given words of advice’ before being ‘released with no further action’.
The officers who made the arrest have apologised to him.
In a statement, the spokesman added: ‘He was positioned close to a group of protesters and based on his manner, his state of dress and his proximity to the course, officers made an arrest to prevent a possible breach of the peace.
‘There were a number of factors which led officers to make this arrest, including the fact the race was approaching, the heightened level of security due to the high profile nature of the event and the sheer number of spectators.’
Tuition fee rise HAS turned thousands of middle class British students off going to university
No surprise to any economist
Thousands of middle-class pupils have been priced out of studying at top universities, according to an independent commission.
The most prestigious universities have seen a sharper drop in applications than less selective institutions following the controversial tripling of tuition fees.
Demand for places at the leading universities, which charge the highest fees, has fallen most sharply among teenagers from wealthier families, the panel found.
Most middle and higher-income students fail to qualify for grants, bursaries or fee discounts and take out a maximum loan to cover fees and living costs.
The commission, set up to monitor the impact of the £9,000-a-year maximum fees coming into effect this autumn, found early evidence that the fees hike is denting university aspirations.
In today’s report, it points out that the number of English applicants seeking university places this autumn has slumped by 37,000 from the 2010 level while demand in the other home nations, where fees are lower or non-existent, has remained buoyant.
The percentage of 18-year-olds from the poorest fifth of households – earning £15,000 a year or less – who applied to at least one of the 30 most selective English universities rose fractionally to eight per cent this year.
Among households earning up to £30,000, the percentage dipped only slightly from 12.9 per cent to 12.7 per cent.
Demand dipped more sharply among middle-income families earning between £30,000 and £50,0000, falling 0.5 points to 17.3 per cent. Among higher earners, with household incomes of £50,000 to £75,000, the proportion of applicants dropped 1.1 points to 24 per cent. And among the richest fifth of the country, earning £75,000 and above, demand slid from 38 per cent in 2010 to 37.1 per cent this year.
The report said that among 18- and 19-year-olds applying to the top universities, there are ‘larger relative declines from applicants in the most advantaged areas’.
Will Hutton, chairman of the commission, said the panel was ‘pleased to see that at this stage there has been no relative drop-off in applicants from less advantaged neighbourhoods’.
Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, representing 24 leading universities, said: ‘Prospective students know that in tough economic times a degree, especially one from a leading university, remains a smart investment.
‘We are especially pleased that …. the increase in fees has not had a disproportionate impact on application rates for prospective students from more disadvantaged backgrounds.’
Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students, said: ‘After next week’s A-level results the clearing process will start, and we remain concerned that applicants, particularly those from certain backgrounds, may not be in a position to choose whether and where to study.’
The Department for Business said: ‘The proportion of English school-leavers applying to university is the second highest on record and it’s still not too late to apply.’
UK government scraps environmental regulations to save £400 million
UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry announced yesterday the scrapping of 86 environmental regulations that will save businesses £400 million over the next 20 years.
The package of reforms, which also includes improvements to a further 48 regulatory regimes, is part of the government’s Red Tape Challenge that aims to remove surplus regulation hindering businesses.
“It is vital that we have a regulatory regime which promotes fairness and consumer and environmental protection, but does not impose unnecessary costs or barriers to generating the necessary investment, innovation and skills we need to build the low carbon economy,” says Hendry.
As well as simplifications to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) and the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme, the changes cover areas from discharges from chemical installations to requirements for electricity lines and gas pipelines.
The changes to the EU ETS, which were confirmed earlier this summer, will allow small emitters and organisations like hospitals to opt out of the scheme from 2013.
The government maintains that the changes will maintain all environmental protections reducing costs and unnecessary burdens.