‘I want to die’: Scream of pensioner, 95, as she waited four hours for an ambulance just hours before she passed away
An outraged son has told how his 95-year-old mother begged to die as she spent her last day alive waiting for an ambulance in agony – for almost four hours. Devastated Eric Dennington, 73, said he felt totally helpless as he could do nothing for his dying mother Nora except try to reassure her that paramedics were on their way.
But as the hours ticked by with still no sign of help, her crippling abdominal pains grew worse until all she could do was cry out: ‘I just want to die.’
Ambulance chiefs have now apologised to him after carrying out an investigation into the heartbreaking incident.
Mr Dennington said: ‘She had agonising stomach pain and we were told the ambulance would be a blue light job and would be with her very quickly. ‘But by the time she got to hospital it was nearly four hours.
‘No-one should have to wait for an ambulance that length of time in any circumstances. ‘I was disgusted.’
The furious pensioner added: ‘I couldn’t do anything for her and it was difficult for her to move because she was in such pain. ‘I couldn’t give her anything. I’m not a medical man and as far as I knew the ambulance would be there any minute. ‘When the reception rang to see where the ambulance was they were told it was on its way.’
Mr Dennington, of Trimley St Mary, near Ipswich, Suffolk, said that when the 999 vehicle finally arrived it was a St John Ambulance. And in a new cruel blow the crew were not able to administer the crucial morphine his mother so desperately needed.
The distressed family was then forced to wait further as a paramedic was called.
‘We keep reading of similar cases and the situation doesn’t seem to get any better,’ said Mr Dennington, who worked at East Anglian Building Supplies, Felixstowe, for 20 years. ‘I feel very let down.’
As well as making a formal complaint to East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, he has also written to his MP Therese Coffey to voice his concern and demand action.
An ambulance was called at 3.31pm but not sent until 6.36pm. It eventually arrived at Mrs Dennington’s Deben View care home in Woodbridge, Suffolk, just after 7pm. There was then a further nine-minute delay until a paramedic could arrive and after that Mrs Dennington was taken to Ipswich Hospital.
Ambulance chiefs say crew rotas are to be revised to increase cover in the county following concerns about demand outweighing resources.
An East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust spokeswoman said in Mrs Dennington’s case the doctor’s receptionist said ‘the doctor had asked for an ambulance within an hour but did not request an emergency vehicle, simply transport’. The hour-deadline was not met because the service was so busy, she said.
But officials did call to check on Mrs Dennington’s condition twice during the delay and were told she had not worsened and had no critical symptoms.
‘We have written to the complainant with a full apology and the results of an investigation conducted into this incident,’ said the spokeswoman. ‘This was a request for non-emergency transport to hospital based on a GP’s assessment that the patient had stomach pain and no critical symptoms.
‘Due to workload with patients in greater immediate need we did not pick up the patient within the hour requested but made regular calls to check her symptoms hadn’t worsened.
‘Unfortunately demand was extremely high with many 999 calls as well as urgent GP admissions like this. ‘There were also ambulances unable to handover patients at hospital due to a high number of admissions which meant delays in them becoming available. ‘Occasionally demand outweighs resource and regrettably this was one of those times.
‘But in order to address this issue rotas are being revised in Suffolk so that not only will the county have more resources, particularly in Felixstowe which will see coverage increased by more than 115 vehicle hours a week, but they will be better placed to get to patients when and where they are needed.’
Nurse ‘made no attempt to save man dying from cardiac arrest because she had a bad back and it hurt to bend down’
A care home nurse made no attempt to revive a dying man in cardiac arrest because she had a bad back, a hearing was told yesterday.
Debbie Johnson-Palmer, 41, allegedly took no action as the pensioner lay in cardiac arrest, having earlier dithered for more than an hour and a half as his condition worsened.
Emergency services were kept waiting for five minutes before staff unlocked the doors to provide urgent treatment, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.
The patient, referred to as Resident A, was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital after paramedics battled in vain to save him.
Johnson-Palmer is also accused of having lied about the care she was giving during the 999 call and in paper records she made afterwards.
David Clark, for the NMC, said paramedic Suzanne Mallin was stunned by the lack of treatment after the nurse’s claims she was in the middle of trying to resuscitate Resident A.
A section from her witness statement reads: ‘No CPR was being performed, and it was stated to me by the nurse in charge that it hurt her back to do so.’
Giving evidence, she added: ‘An ambulance was called to help, so why wasn’t help given before my arrival? ‘When I walked in the room, there was no-one doing anything to help the patient; they were all just standing around.
‘CPR is so important if someone is in cardiac arrest – you’re supposed to carry on until you’re physically exhausted or until the patient recovers.’
Mr Clark said Resident A ‘was simply laying up in bed’ when the solo first responder arrived on scene.
‘Ms Johnson-Palmer was trying to create the impression she has acted appropriately, whereas she in fact had not,’ he said.
‘The true position was that nothing was being done at that time, and Ms Johnson-Palmer knew nothing was being done.’
Panel members heard the episode unfolded at the 45-bed Ivybank Care Centre in Kings Norton, Birmingham, on the evening of July 31, 2010.
Johnson-Palmer allegedly failed to seek help for more than 90 minutes between 8.25pm and 10.30pm as Resident A’s condition deteriorated.
He was pronounced dead at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, having been admitted to the home earlier the same day after complaining of chest pains.
Johnson-Palmer admits telling the emergency operator she was with Resident A, had laid him on his back with no pillows, had checked his mouth for food and vomit, and that she was trying to perform CPR.
She denies lying during the call, and also denies that she failed to seek medical help as his condition worsened over a 90-minute period.
If found guilty, she would face a range of sanctions. The hearing continues.
“Anti-fascists” are killing free speech
Activists who call on the state to arrest and imprison ‘fascists’ for their speech crimes should look up irony in the dictionary
‘This court decision should be celebrated by all anti-racists and anti-fascists… to ensure that the only place fascism has in this century is in history textbooks.’
Are Britain’s anti-fascist groups so blinkered, so convinced that the state is on their side and that they are the bearers of the Truth, that they can make statements celebrating the curbing of someone’s free speech without even the slightest twinge of irony? That statement was made by the North Staffordshire Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, in response to the news that Michael Coleman, a former far-right British National Party councillor in Stoke-on-Trent, had been given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and 240 hours of community service for the crime of posting his thoughts on his blog.
It is true that Coleman’s thoughts were unpleasant and that not many people will share them. Writing on his blog in the aftermath of last year’s rioting in English cities, Coleman claimed that ‘London darkies have reacted with violence’. ‘The darkies have exposed their true nature in siding with criminality’, he said, before elaborating at length on his belief that the ‘darker races’ are very different to the paler races.
His nauseating comments were spotted by a Labour councillor, Joy Garner, who is currently standing for election as Staffordshire police and crime commissioner. She dobbed him in to the police. ‘I make no apology for having been the individual who initially raised this with the police’, she boasted on her website. She said the problem with Coleman’s blog posts is that the ‘overwhelming majority’ will have found them offensive. ‘I will always defend the right to freedom of speech, but as with all rights, with it comes responsibility. It can no way be accepted as responsible to use language characterising an entire race as being more predisposed to crime than others.’
So Garner will always defend the right to freedom of speech so long as the speech expresses something she finds agreeable. If your words don’t conform to what Garner considers ‘responsible’, then the debate is over and the police will be asked to knock on your door.
This is what happened with Coleman. He was summoned to a police interview and was charged with ‘intending to cause racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress by displaying writing, a sign or other representation, which was threatening, abusive or insulting’. On Friday, at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, Judge Robert Trevor-Jones sentenced Coleman to eight months’ imprisonment (suspended), claiming that his words had the potential to ‘fan the flames’ in Britain following the English Riots. Clearly, in the judge’s view, Britain’s populace is so riot-prone, and its white working classes so latently racist, that one poorly written blog post could be enough to unleash violence.
The councillor and the judge’s belief that they have the right to determine what kind of speech is acceptable is chilling, and unfortunately increasingly widespread in political and media circles today. Yet how many social, scientific, political and cultural revolutions might have been halted in their tracks if earlier generations had applied the Garner logic of criminalising ideas that the ‘overwhelming majority’ find unacceptable?
One of the most depressing aspects of this all-out attack on freedom of speech and political expression is that a former far-right councillor has now been granted access to the moral high ground. The censured Coleman is posing as the defender of democratic values, pointing out that: ‘Posting an article on a personal blog could never be construed as harassment, not in a free country. This is political correctness in law form… My forefathers fought in two world wars to protect the freedom we have today. I will be damned if these hard-won freedoms will be taken away in the twenty-first century.’ He has a point. It’s just worrying that it has been left to him – a far-right activist not very interested in liberty – to make it. Such has been the left’s abandonment of the ideal of freedom of speech that it can now be co-opted by elements on the hard right.
You’d think it would be unnecessary to have to point out to liberal campaigners who want to shut down ‘fascists’ that one of the first things Hitler did when he came to power was clamp down on freedom of speech and the press. They should heed the arguments put forward by the Stoke-on-Trent daily newspaper, the Sentinel, which pointed out that ‘what was a good day for Coleman’s political opponents might turn out to be a very bad day for British liberty’.
But Garner, it seems, has no intention of taking free-speech pleas on board. If she manages to become police commissioner in Staffordshire, she plans to take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to ‘hate crimes’ on the grounds of ‘race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, sex or gender identity’. Such hate crimes also include speech crimes, like the ones committed by Coleman. How far will such zero tolerance go? How long before fat people, gingers or ‘chavs’ are included in the list of people Garner wishes to protect from offence? There would be no offensive blog posts, no edgy jokes, no inconsiderate public banter.
Free speech is not divisible; either we have it – all of us, including people who don’t like ‘darkies’ – or we don’t. Given that free speech is the very cornerstone of a proper democracy, the criminalisation of Coleman raises an important question about who poses the greatest threat to democratic values these days: is it a moronic BNP member, or a potential police commissioner and her supporters who seem keen to punish anyone who says something they find offensive?
British mother who was jailed for slapping children is freed after judge says her actions were ‘similar to those of many loving parents across the land’
A mother jailed after her children told social workers she smacked them was freed from prison last night. A judge said her actions were no worse than those of ‘many loving and caring parents throughout the land’.
He criticised the junior judge who had jailed her for 18 months and ordered that she should be released immediately.
The decision at the Appeal Court came after the mother, who cannot be named, admitted ‘excessive chastisement’.
Police discovered she had slapped her sons on three occasions over a seven-year period and also once banged two of their heads together.
One of the children was 15 at the time she slapped him. Only one of the incidents caused physical injury, a bruised ear.
The case highlights the draconian penalties that parents can suffer if they breach strict laws that ban the smacking of children.
Anyone found to have hit their child hard enough to leave a mark can be jailed for up to five years under laws brought in by the last Labour government.
Lord Justice Elias, who sat with Mr Justice Coulson and Mrs Justice Thirlwall, said: ‘An offender must be sentenced only for what she has been found guilty of. This was plainly an unhappy home but she is not being sentenced for being a bad mother or an incapable mother or of being incapable of controlling her children.
‘Only one of these offences caused physical injury. The other incidents are similar to actions taken by many loving and caring parents throughout the land in moments of stress.
‘They may regret it afterwards, but parenting is a difficult skill.
‘It is said that the judge gave insufficient weight to her previous good character and was unjust in saying that she had shown no remorse, because there was evidence she was very upset at the time.’
The Appeal Court judges were told the woman, who is in her 30s and from a town near Cardiff, was jailed in July.
Judge David Wynn Morgan, sitting at Cardiff Crown Court, handed her an 18-month sentence after she admitted four counts of cruelty to a person under the age of 16.
She was investigated by police after one of her sons falsely told social services that she attacked him, leaving him with bruises.
The child later admitted this was a lie to get more contact with his estranged father.
However, officers discovered that she had slapped her 15-year-old son in the face during an argument in 2010 and also slapped two of her sons in 2003. In a fourth incident the struggling mother also banged the heads of two her sons together after she broke up a fight between them.
Her barrister, Ruth Smith, said she ‘couldn’t cope’ with her children and the only injury which was caused in all of this was a bruised ear on one occasion.
She added that there was ‘clear evidence she had been a victim of domestic violence’ herself and appealed for leniency.
Ordering the woman’s release, Lord Justice Elias added that the sentencing judge ‘took his eye off the ball’.
He said: ‘There were occasions when the children had made allegations which had subsequently been disproved.
‘We think that the premise of the sentence imposed by the judge was incorrect. If he had focused on the particular incidents, only one of which caused physical injury while the others may be seen as chastisement going beyond its bounds, a sentence of 18 months was too long.
‘We think the right thing to do now would be to give her a sentence of five months imprisonment that would secure her immediate release. ‘No valuable purpose would be served by keeping her in prison any longer.’
Under a 2004 law introduced by Labour, a smack should cause no more than the reddening of the skin. Senior politicians including Boris Johnson have attacked the current law as ‘confusing’ and said it undermines the role of parents.
Former education minister David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, said he believed the ban contributed to last year’s riots in London and elsewhere through a lack of discipline in the home.
He called for a return to Victorian laws on discipline, saying parents needed to be able to use corporal punishment to control unruly children.
The 2004 law says anyone who causes injury to their children with a smack is guilty of actual bodily harm. But, in 2007, a senior judge said parents should be allowed to slap their children when chastising them.
Lady Justice Hallett made the comments as the Appeal Court upheld a ruling that a couple accused of slapping and kicking their daughter could keep their three children. She said: ‘Reasonable physical chastisement of children by parents is not yet unlawful in this country.’
Must not mention elephants
Even if you are the most outspoken man in Britain
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson breached BBC guidelines by comparing a Japanese car to people with growths on their faces.
A report by the the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee (ESC) found he ‘strayed into an offensive stereotypical assumption’ with the scripted remarks during an episode of the hit motoring show.
A member of the public complained about the ‘offensive’ remarks after Clarkson likened the shape of a Prius campervan to someone with ‘a growth on their face’ and referred to it as the ‘elephant car.’
The ESC said the show’s audience enjoyed the presenters’ ‘sometimes controversial and forthright views’ but ruled this remark ‘played on a stereotypically negative reaction to facial disfigurement.’
‘The committee concluded that this programme was in breach of the guidelines on harm and offence as the exchanges about facial disfigurement were not editorially justified and did not meet generally accepted standards in the context of their portrayal of a disability.’ It upheld the complaint.
Clarkson actually said nothing about the elephant man — a circus freak of the 19th century. Some people just put his words together that way. His description of the car was pretty spot-on. Only a Greenie could love it
Honey, I shrank the schools
In broke Britain
Canteens, corridors and assembly halls are to be 15 per cent smaller under government plans to slash building costs for a new generation of ‘shrunken’ schools, it was claimed last night.
The proposal will see 261 schools rebuilt over the next five years, with each designed to be £7million cheaper to construct than those built under Labour.
The £55billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme was launched by the last Government, but postponed by Education Secretary Michael Gove in 2010 amid criticism of soaring costs and lengthy delays.
Critics have said building smaller schools would create congestion in corridors and may even lead to poorer discipline and bullying.
But others have welcomed the Coalition’s approach, saying that Labour’s programme had wasted money on extravagant designs.
Peter Lauener, chief executive of the Government’s Education Funding Agency, which drew up the new designs, said architects had included too many ‘fripperies’ in the last generation of schools.
‘If you have shares in atriums, sell,’ he said. ‘More for less is the theme of what we are trying to do with education capital. We are looking to come out with an average school building cost of under £14million compared to £21million under the BSF programme.
‘It is not quite buy one, get one free. It is a three-for-two proposition.’
Builders said the Coalition is ‘shopping at Tesco’ while Labour was ‘shopping at Selfridges’.
The building programme was launched by Labour in 2003 with the aim of rebuilding or redeveloping each of England’s 3,500 secondary schools over 15 years. But in the first four years only 42 of the first wave of 200 schools were completed, and auditors warned that the programme was likely to run over budget by £1billion a year.
The plans are due to be announced this week, according to the Guardian.
Classroom sizes are expected to be maintained, so the squeeze will bite disproportionately on other areas, builders said.
‘One of the problems with the new model is that it may be a little tight on area,’ one contractor told the Guardian.
Teaching unions criticised the move and said communal areas are vital to the way schools run.
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘The spaces outside the classroom are vital to the culture and climate of a school and to have well-ordered corridors is key.
‘In a secondary school there are potentially 1,000 pupils changing lessons at exactly the same time and if corridors are narrow it will lead to them bumping into one another and that could lead to discipline problems.’
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the cuts to space would ‘reduce the standards of learning in our schools and damage the working environment.’
The Royal Institute of British Architects said the policy could undermine the Government’s attempts to improve value for money by making school buildings available for community use.
But a headteacher at one of the country’s most improved schools defended the plan.
Liam Nolan, head of Perry Beeches Academy in Birmingham, said: ‘I know it is not buildings that make a successful school. ‘In April 2007, when I first walked through the doors of Perry Beeches, the £20million school building was barely seven years old, designed with state of the art techniques and maintained at huge cost. But I was entering one of the worst performing schools in the UK.’