Attempted murder by NHS
She has enjoyed two years of quality time with her loving family and has just seen the birth of her fifth great-grandchild. But if hospital doctors had had their way, none of this would have been possible for Margaret Kibble.
Her relatives told yesterday how the 95-year-old was put on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway after medical professionals said she was about to die.
She was only taken off it when family members heard her begging for water and ordered staff to put the great grandmother back on food and fluids. Now, 22 months on, she is still enjoying life back at home.
Mrs Kibble was admitted to hospital in Lewisham, south-east London, in January 2011 with severe bleeding a month after she had a heart attack. Initially, doctors told her daughter and son-in-law that she had minutes to live, but she repeatedly defied expectations. Her condition appeared to stabilise and she was moved to a ward.
But she was then placed in a side room on her own and during one visit her family claim hospital staff suddenly removed all her drips and feeding tubes without telling them what was going on.
Her son-in-law Graham Satchell, 57, said: ‘They walked in, took off her drips, took everything away, turned off the monitor and everything else.
That night we were not even allowed to give her any water, but we basically ignored it and my daughter Emily wet her mouth with a tissue.’ Emily Satchell, 24, said: ‘The fact they wouldn’t let me give her a drink was horrible because she kept saying she wanted water and I had to say you cannot have it. ‘I was upset and gave it to her.’
The next day Mr Satchell asked for a meeting with doctors to find out what was happening. He said: ‘That’s when it got explained what was really going on, that she was on the Liverpool Care Pathway. ‘I just lost it big time and they put all the drips back on. I think they were doing it to calm me down, but she started to come round.
Then the next morning we walked in and all the doctors were around her bed. We thought, “Oh, she’s gone”. But she was sitting up in bed having a cup of tea. It was unbelievable.’
Mrs Kibble suffers from dementia and has carers four times a day, but her family said that they could not have allowed her to die.
Mr Satchell said: ‘She’s had two years of life, she’s seen two newborn babies. Yes, she has her moments, but what do you expect? She’s 95 years old. ‘In hospital there was no care.
I understand that they see dead people every day, but I don’t and I wasn’t having that.’
Last week, the Department of Health announced an investigation into the LCP following concerns highlighted by the Mail. But it will be run by a Health Department organisation, the National End of Life Care Programme, and medical organisations that have been deeply involved in promoting and operating the pathway.
MPs and doctors have criticised the inquiry for not being independent.
A spokesman for Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust said: ‘We take patients’ complaints seriously, however, we cannot comment on this case until we’ve had a chance to investigate fully.’
‘It’s the only chance of her having a life’: Fury of dying cystic fibrosis sufferer’s family after she is denied wonder drug by NHS bosses
A young cystic fibrosis sufferer is dying slowly in hospital after NHS chiefs refused to give her a new wonder drug – despite manufacturers offering to give it to hospitals for free.
Caroline Cassin, 29,from Birmingham, West Midlands, was rushed to hospital last week after her condition suddenly worsened. She could benefit from new drug Kalydeco, which normally costs £182,000 a year – money that the cash-strapped NHS are unable to afford due to swingeing cuts.
But despite makers of the drug offering to make it available free for a limited period, bosses at Heartlands Hospital say it would be unethical to treat patients only for the drug to be stopped at a later date.
Campaigners are to take Caroline’s case to the European Court of Human Rights claiming that the hospital’s refusal to provide the treatment files in the face of doctors’ Hippocratic Oath – which pledges that they must do all in their power to save lives.
The pharmaceutical company behind the drug, which will be re-branded Ivacaftor if made available in the UK, have offered to make the drug available to sufferers of the condition with a lung capacity under 40 per cent. Last Friday, Caroline registered a shockingly low 26 per cent.
Five years ago, the pretty blonde could hold down a four-day-a-week job at Selfridges but was forced to cut her hours to three days and then one.
From the age of 16 she has visited Heartlands twice a year for treatment. but when her health deteriorated alarmingly last Monday she was admitted to the hospital for the sixth time since January.
Her frustrated father Neil, 72, said: ‘She is very low now. She knows that she is dying. Caroline has struggled for 29 years and it has been horrendous at times, but the last year has been the worst.
‘She has always been a good girl, but she is very low now. The NHS Trust is sitting by while we are watching Caroline’s health deteriorate at an alarming rate. How much longer can this go on?
‘To have this one chance of life taken away after a lifetime of suffering is cruel beyond belief. ‘The drug would get rid of the bugs that impact on her breathing. It suppresses the problems.
‘Her quality of life would be improved massively improved. She’s on the brink of death and she won’t get better until she has the drug. ‘It’s the only chance of her having a life. She’s been on non-stop antibiotics. The drug could extend her life seven to ten years. ‘The bugs that are being treated by the antibiotics would be flushed out.
‘It would keep her out of hospital, help her breathing and she could walk around freely. They call it a ‘miracle drug’ in America. There’s a girl there who was on the lung transplant list but has been taken off it since she went on this drug. ‘The doctors want to give it to her – but the hospital management stepped in and stopped it.
‘They had told her she would get it and we were thrilled and delighted for her.
‘It was a lifeline for her that was cruelly snatched away from her and she feels absolutely devastated and let down.
‘I’m very angry and frustrated with the hospital bosses. She’s been back in hospital for a week now after just coming out. She’s lying in bed on oxygen helpless. It gets worse and worse.’
Mum Carole, 65, aded: ‘She has always been tiny, but very strong-willed. Now her face looks so different. She is very depressed. The situation is grave.’
A Heartlands Hospital spokesman said: ‘We fully support our patients and are doing everything in our power to facilitate a fair solution.
‘The Trust decided not to obtain Kalydeco on a compassionate basis because the drug company named patient scheme for free Kalydeco is temporary and the Trust would face withdrawing the medication when the scheme stops, which would be unethical.
‘We have approached our commissioners to apply for funding and are putting together an exception application to the Primary Care Trust. ‘As soon as we receive an update on our application for funding and the special exception application to the Primary Care Trust, we will share this with our patients and their families.’
A spokesman for NHS Birmingham and Solihull said: ‘We are unable to discuss individual cases. However, we can confirm that to date we have not received a formal request for this drug.
‘Any request we receive will be considered in line with guidance that has recently been received from Midlands and East Specialised Commissioning Group.’
An insubstantial screech from a politically correct Tory
He is a Warmist and an antisemite. How correct can you get? That he is associated with British Conservatism is a good commentary on the enfeebled state of British Conservatism. His argument against real conservatism below is remarkably gauzy. It seems to be no more than an assertion that the present British PM once got it right!
He headlined the article below as “Cameron should beware the Australian master strategist”. If the heading is his own and not by a sub-editor, one wonders why he highlightred the nationality of the strategist. Did he intend to evoke old-fashioned contempt for “colonials”? Given his bigotry towards Israel, that thought does occur
By Peter Oborne
It has become commonplace to assert that there is a problem at the heart of the Government. Almost everybody says that it has become very hard to get a decision out of 10 Downing Street, while many ministers moan about incompetence and a lack of political direction. Even David Cameron seems to have woken up to this. Not merely that, he also appears to have alighted on the solution in the shape of Lynton Crosby, the Australian political strategist who masterminded Michael Howard’s 2005 general election campaign, and secured Boris Johnson’s election – and re-election – as London mayor.
The Conservative Party is now pleading with Crosby to come back, take control of political strategy, and fight the next election on their behalf. It is reportedly ready to offer him as much money as he wants, and even allow him to bring his own team with him. It is easy to understand this desperation. In a world largely populated by imposters and nitwits, Crosby is competent and strong. He has personal authority and vast experience. There is no doubt that he would bring a steadiness and direction that, so critics assert, has eluded the Government in recent months.
Yet I believe it would be a sad moment if Crosby became the Conservative Party’s strategist, an outcome that – if the reports are right – now looks almost inevitable. I acknowledge that the return of the Australian would certainly mean the restoration of good order at the top of the party. It might well mean a dozen or more extra Conservative seats at the next election. But it would also signal the end of everything that David Cameron has tried to stand for in his seven years as leader.
To understand the scale of this betrayal it is necessary to go back to Michael Howard’s 2005 general election campaign. Cameron started that election as Howard’s protégé, head of policy, de facto electoral strategist and chosen successor. By the end of it, he was none of those things. The reason was Lynton Crosby, and his insistence on placing crime and immigration at the heart of Howard’s campaign. The strategy was successful in the very important sense that the Conservatives gained 40 seats on a practically unchanged share of the vote, in an election that was stacked against the Conservatives. But the Crosby/Howard approach was all but disowned by David Cameron, who devoted more space to international development than immigration in his personal campaign literature in his Witney constituency.
When Cameron ran for the Tory leadership after the election, his campaign was an almost word-for-word repudiation of the 2005 election strategy. He emphasised green concerns, foreign aid, public services and the reinvention of the Conservative Party as outward-looking and generous.
By contrast, Lynton Crosby had concentrated on the visceral issues that have been proven to bring out the core Conservative vote. This is how he has always operated – and he should under no circumstances be underestimated. He is the genius behind the most successful Right-wing politician of the last quarter-century, Australia’s John Howard, who was elected four times between 1996 and 2004, and remains the second longest-serving Australian prime minister, after Sir Robert Menzies. Working for him, Crosby developed what opponents labelled “dog whistle” politics – campaigning techniques which sent out a covert message. John Howard’s enemies claimed that this was sometimes implicitly racist.
Michael Howard’s Conservative campaign of 2005 asked the question: “Are you thinking what we’re thinking?” Party literature, poster and TV campaigns contained such slogans as: “It’s not racist to impose limits on immigration”, or “How would you feel if a bloke on early release attacked your daughter?” Critics once again said that some of this was implicitly racist – a charge which Crosby would angrily deny, and which is impossible to substantiate.
It is certainly the case, however, that Crosby’s campaigns involve a set of sharply defined, Right-wing messages in which law and order and immigration tend to play a very prominent part. Boris Johnson’s recent lurch on immigration – having been very liberal about it, he suddenly highlighted it as a campaign issue during this year’s London mayoral election battle against Ken Livingstone – is a case in point. It was probably down to Crosby. With him out of the way, the Mayor has now reverted to his instinctive liberalism.
Some people admire this kind of hard-edged politics; others don’t. There are arguments either way. The point is that the David Cameron of the 2005 Tory leadership election didn’t, and nor did the David Cameron of the 2010 general election. So the Prime Minister will be making a powerful public statement if he hires Lynton Crosby. He will be making what effectively amounts to a public recantation. He would be following the path of his immediate predecessors (Howard, Duncan Smith, Hague), each of whom set out by tacking towards the centre, but ended up focusing on the core Conservative vote.
There is no question that most of the party would welcome this, and for understandable reasons. The return of Lynton Crosby would signal a new grip at the centre and – just as important – a new ideological rigidity. Ever since he became Prime Minister, David Cameron has been accused by activists and MPs of abandoning “true Tory” values and selling out to the Liberal Democrats. So the appointment of Crosby would come as an almighty reassurance to the Right-wing faction which now dominates Conservative Party discourse. But it would also mean a terrible defeat for everything that Cameron has stood for as leader.
When he emerged seven years ago, he offered the hope of a new, less rebarbative Conservative Party. This did not mean a betrayal of Tory values, as Cameron’s critics have unfairly claimed. On the contrary, the new leader was defining himself as part of a pragmatic, “one nation” philosophical tradition which stretches back through Macmillan and Baldwin to Disraeli and Burke. Cameron’s finest moments have come when he has been true to this ancient pragmatism, whether with the speech that won him the leadership at the Tory conference in 2005 or his “big, open and comprehensive” offer to Liberal Democrats immediately after the 2010 general election. He has been at his worst when he has turned his back on Conservative insights, as when he entered into his sordid little deal with News International.
Three weeks ago, at conference in Birmingham, the Prime Minister returned to the roots of “one nation” Conservatism with the finest speech of his premiership. That speech highlighted the three missions of his administration: educational excellence, welfare reform and economic stability. To restore strength and direction to his Government, he need do no more than concentrate on those three policies. There is no need to hire an Australian political strategist and lurch off to the Right. That would also not just puzzle the electorate; it would be untrue to the Prime Minister’s political vision, and deeply inauthentic.
Incest – a favoured cause of Britain’s old Lefties
By Damian Thompson
My article last week about the radical Left’s defence of paedophilia in the 1970s provoked all manner of paroxysms from today’s Lefties. How dare I blacken the name of Hattie Harman by pointing out that she became legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) soon after it campaigned for a more relaxed approach to sex with children?
But I had private communications, too, from people who encountered the “libertarian” Left during those years. “In the late Sixties and early Seventies, I worked at a school operated by the Inner London Education Authority,” wrote a retired schoolteacher.
“The teachers there were almost all Marxists or, as they would have said, Maoists. They were supporting an initiative to lower or abolish the age of consent, which they said was just a way for the upper classes to keep the working classes in their place. According to them, children were sexual beings who had a right to express their sexuality. I was one of the few parents on the staff and said that this was just an excuse for dirty old men to abuse children… I was told that I was brainwashed and bourgeois.”
Another correspondent asked me to take a closer look at the NCCL Report on Sexual Offences (1976), which argued for a fundamental rethink on the subject of incest.
Yes, you read that right. Decriminalising incest was one of the pet causes of the brothers and sisters of the extreme Left represented by the NCCL. This is from its 1976 report:
“For hundreds of years the crime of incest has given rise to such intense feelings of revulsion that public discussion on the subject has often been ill-informed and irrational.” Note the distinctive finger-wagging.
“The present-day case against incest is firstly, that genetic damage may result in the offspring and secondly, that an incestuous union is disruptive of the union of the family.” Fortunately the NCCL was on hand to brush away these fusty prejudices.
“Recent studies” didn’t support the idea that incest caused genetic damage, it said, “and it is in contradiction to the practices of successful animal breeders. In any case the advent of reliable contraceptives and safer abortion weakens this argument.” So if a man had sex with his sister, he should use a condom or arrange for an abortion.
As for the effect of incest on families, “incest is not the cause but one symptom of a disrupted family… In our view, no benefit accrues to anyone by making incest a crime when committed between mutually consenting persons over the age of consent.” An age of consent which the NCCL wanted to lower to 14, incidentally, though only to placate public opinion: “It is both logical, and consistent with modern development, to suggest that the age of consent should be abolished.”
NCCL is now better known as Liberty and run by Shami Chakrabarti, Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and secular saint of the Guardian/BBC conglomerate. I’d be interested in her take on this chapter in her organisation’s history. Has anybody thought to ask her? She likes to talk.
But what happened to the woman who was general secretary of the NCCL when these stomach-churning views were expressed? Did she retreat into the grumpy subculture of ageing Marxists?
Not quite. Like a number of Callaghan-era hard Leftists, she reinvented herself as a New Labour loyalist. Indeed, the Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt (for it was she) served as secretary of state for health from 2005 to 2007. Though, to be fair, I don’t recall her saying a single word about incest.
When did the education system decide that literacy and numeracy don’t matter?
British Education Secretary Michael Gove should not be vilified for trying to turn round ‘bog-standard’ state schools
If I were to join the current fashion, begun this week by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, of writing a letter to my teachers, it occurred to me that it would be neither an apology for bad behaviour (I was horribly well-behaved) nor a catalogue of the school’s defects (in the style of the TV presenter Fiona Phillips, who turned up to her old school’s relaunch and lambasted both her own behaviour as well as the quality of the education on offer there.
Any message I wrote to the three teachers who stand out in my mind would be embarrassingly close to a love letter. Best avoid an epistolary form, then.
Miss Campbell taught me maths nearly continuously through secondary school. The light that comes on in my head at the link between algebraic formulae to be “solved”, and the geometrical interpretation of which those formulae are capable: all that is her doing. Everything in my professional life – the non-Telegraph bit of it – is down to the groundwork she taught me.
Mrs Houston taught me English for only one year, but her influence may well have affected my life even more deeply than the discovery of that facility with numbers. Through gentle but relentless critique of our compositions, she showed us that writing is an exercise at which it is possible to improve, a discipline with its own rules (but unlike mathematical ones, those rules should sometimes be broken).
The fact that when I’m not being a statistician, I’m writing for The Daily Telegraph (and my columns often worry, imprecisely, about Iris Murdoch and her novels): that started with Mrs Houston’s golden year.
But neither of them could have taught me anything, had Miss McKnight not come first. The teaching of the final year of a primary school is a special responsibility: it is the last chance to perfect anything missing, to prepare the children (I was 10) for secondary education. Miss McKnight used methods of which I doubt the NUT would approve: our ranking in the classroom was determined on a weekly basis, according to our performance in the tests of grammar and mental arithmetic which she insisted her class (huge, by today’s standards) perform.
Easy to dismiss such exercises as pointless: who needs to do mental arithmetic, when the iPhone’s got a calculator? What’s the point of being able to identify the subordinate clause in a sentence, in the age of txt spk?
Easy to dismiss them, until you reflect on the changes in teaching and society that have occurred since Miss McKnight had to put up with me. The Department for Education has declared that the standards of the literacy and numeracy tests which new teachers are required to sit will be raised. Why? Because a fifth of trainees fail at least one test in their first sitting. (Sample literacy question: choose the correct spelling of “anxiety” from a list including “anxsiety”, “angxiety” and “anxciety”. The numeracy tests involve simple multiplications, which can be carried out with a calculator.)
Miss McKnight wouldn’t tolerate 10- year-olds failing such tests (and would never have permitted a calculator). Yet some time between the early 1980s and now, we decided as a society that these skills didn’t matter. Education for the non-wealthy didn’t have to be rigorous: what could one expect from those schools famously described by Alastair Campbell as “bog standard”?
Meanwhile the privileged elite continued to pay so that their children could at the very least speak and write correctly, and reason numerically. It is this apartheid which Michael Gove is trying to overturn. Like Miss McKnight, he’s focusing on the basics.
Elaboration of cause and effect is a difficult exercise, but here’s one that I’d bet is true. One reason that so many newcomers to Britain secure jobs in service industries, ahead of indigenous applicants, is that they can speak English properly and add up in their heads.
I used to wonder why the written skills of the young people I met were so poor compared with those of my generation: even bright graduates sometimes struggle with proper sentences. Learning about the declining standards in teacher training, I’m less surprised. I believe there’s a link between failures at these basics, and what David Laws correctly describes as the failure of ambition for life after school.
I still have the letter Miss McKnight sent me on my graduation, nine years after leaving her school: “You are a credit to Argyle Primary,” she wrote. For once, she was wrong: I’m a credit to Miss McKnight, to Miss Campbell, and to Mrs Houston, to the vocation to which they dedicated their lives, to the education whose rigour and depth it would never have occurred to any of them to weaken, or make less aspirational because it took place in the confines of a “bog standard” state school. Ability is randomly determined: the impact of a good teacher on everything else that follows is not.