Typical NHS arrogance and indifference killed a little boy
His symptoms were obvious but rather than admit that his mother was right, they let him die
A baby boy died from meningitis after hospital doctors twice failed to spot the symptoms and dismissed his mother’s fears as ‘hysterical’.
As the little boy screamed in pain in a waiting room, one nurse even suggested his parents wheel him around in a buggy because he was ‘a bit loud’. Hours later, 13-month-old Bobby Bushell was dead.
The appalling standard of care he received was laid bare yesterday after his parents won a five-figure sum in damages from the hospital trust.
Last night Bobby’s mother, Jane Hooks, said hospital doctors had ‘arrogantly’ dismissed her concerns he was suffering from meningitis. ‘The treatment by staff at the hospital was nothing short of disgraceful and the doctors arrogantly waved away my fears my little boy was suffering from meningitis – not once, but twice,’ she said.
‘Their attitude cost my son his life. If they had listened to a mother’s instinct instead of lazily dismissing me as hysterical then Bobby would be alive today.’
The tragedy unfolded on August 12, 2007 when Bobby became ill at home near Doncaster. His mother contacted an NHS out-of-hours service and took him to a local surgery where her own GP examined him at around 4.40pm.
Although he did not diagnose meningitis, the GP advised Miss Hooks and her partner Craig Bushell to take Bobby to Doncaster Royal Infirmary. They arrived at around 5.20pm and he was seen by a senior house doctor.
Despite the little boy having three non-blanching rashes on his leg and chest – a classic meningitis symptom – the doctor decided only to monitor his condition.
Miss Hooks, 29, a former retail worker, said: ‘He said he had a viral infection. I immediately asked for a second opinion. He told me a second doctor would only agree with him.’
Miss Hooks said a second doctor, a registrar, saw Bobby at around 6.45pm and despite the rash spreading on four different areas, also failed to diagnose meningitis.
She said: ‘He was arrogant and dismissive. He refused to carry out a lumbar puncture which would have diagnosed meningitis.’
It took four more hours before Miss Hooks could persuade another doctor to help. ‘In desperation I grabbed a female doctor by the arm. She said: “Your son is very, very ill”.’
Bobby was then given intravenous antibiotics but it wasn’t until around 3am that a consultant finally examined him.
Moves began to transfer him to Sheffield Children’s Hospital but it was too late and he died at 6.50am on August 13.
The family sued the Trust but it refused to admit liability and fought the claim all the way to the courts.
Last month a judge dismissed the hospital’s defence and found in favour of the family at Sheffield County Court. They received a five-figure payout.
Helen Budge from Manchester law firm Pannone said: ‘Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust denied liability and made his parents endure a five-year struggle to achieve justice for their little boy. It is to be hoped that the Trust has learnt lessons from this tragic episode.’
Sewa Singh, medical director at the Trust, said: ‘We offer our deepest sympathies and apologies to Miss Hooks, Mr Bushell and their families for any shortcomings in the care provided to Bobby.’ [No admissions! The arrogance is undented]
Woman with ‘inoperable’ cancerous tumour is saved after message is spotted by leading surgeon
When Susan Rostron was told she had an inoperable tumour on her pancreas, she decided some good should come of her early death. Resigned to her fate, the 58-year-old emailed Cancer Research UK to see if they wanted the football-sized tumour after she had died.
It was an email that quite literally saved her life. In an amazing twist of fate, her message was forwarded to Neil Pearce, one of the country’s leading consultant surgeons specialising in pancreatic treatment.
He asked to meet Miss Rostron and then told her he could perform ‘extreme surgery’ which would remove her pancreas, spleen, stomach and part of the oesophagus.
She decided to go ahead with the 12 hour procedure which was a success. She has since undergone a gruelling recovery process and has been given the all clear.
Miss Rostron, from Dorchester, Dorset, had the tumour growing inside her for 20 years without realising. It was when she went to hospital with stomach pains in April 2011 that she was diagnosed with the cancer.
Miss Rostron, a former school headteacher who now runs a pottery studio, said: ‘I went to my GP with a persistent stomach ache and was sent for a gastroscopy.’
This is a procedure that allows a doctor to look inside the oesophagus (the pipe that goes from the mouth to the stomach), the stomach and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).
‘The results were inconclusive so I had further tests which revealed I had a huge tumour that had been growing for about 20 years, it was bigger than a grapefruit.
‘I was told there was a 20 per cent chance I could die on the operating table, but when you’ve basically been told you are going to die anyway you might as well go for it.
‘I had my pancreas, stomach, spleen, and part of my oesophagus removed – the remaining part was attached to my intestine.
‘It’s amazing this was all because of an email. Every time I see the consultant he says it’s just as well I sent it.
‘I have my ups and downs but I feel a million times better and life is definitely worth living’
Because she now doesn’t have a stomach, Miss Rostron has to eat small, regular meals and take special medication to help her digest food.
‘Whatever I eat now goes straight into the beginning of my intestine, so I eat small meals about six times a day,’ she said. ‘I can eat normal food and I don’t have a special diet, but I do feel as though I am perpetually eating, I take pancreatic enzymes to help digestion and I also take antibiotics.’
Her tumour is likely to recur again but at the moment she has been given the all-clear.
Clara MacKay, charity director of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: ‘Susan’s circumstances are unusual in that it was as a result of a chance email. ‘That led to her case being reviewed by a surgeon at a leading, specialist pancreatic cancer centre.
‘However, it does echo our concern that not all patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are being referred to specialist teams in order to give them the best chance possible for treatment. ‘Patients, like Susan, should not have to rely on their own initiative to get referred to expert teams
Public schools retain grip on Britain’s elite
The Telegraph still sometimes uses “Public schools” in the traditional sense
More than 10% of the best UK high-flyers were educated at a handful of prestigious private schools, new research suggests. It also reveals that a degree from Oxford or Cambridge is vital for some professions, with more than half of the leading lights in the diplomatic service, the law and the civil service graduating from one of the two institutions.
The study, conducted by the Sutton Trust, looked at the educational backgrounds of nearly 8,000 people who featured in the birthday lists of national and Sunday papers last year by examining official website profiles, Who’s Who and by direct contact.
It found that 10 elite fee-paying schools produced 12% of the leading high-flyers examined for the study.
Eton College – the former school of David Cameron, Boris Johnson, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry – educated 330 high-flyers, a total of 4% of the UK’s elite, the study says.
Among other former Eton pupils are Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent and actors Hugh Laurie and Dominic West.
Alongside Eton, the other nine top private schools, collectively teaching 12% of those whose education backgrounds were examined, are Winchester College, Charterhouse School, Rugby School, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s old school Westminster, Marlborough College, Dulwich College, Harrow School, St Paul’s Boys’ School, where Chancellor George Osborne was educated, and Wellington College.
Overall, almost half (44%) of the people studied went to private school, 27% attended a grammar school, 21% were educated at comprehensives or other state schools and 8% went to a former direct grant school.
The study found that the comprehensives producing the most high-flyers – with six people each – are Haverstock School, attended by Labour leader Ed Miliband and his brother, former foreign secretary David Miliband, and Holland Park School, which was attended by former environment minister Hilary Benn. Both are in London.
The research, due to be published later today at an event to mark the Sutton Trust’s 15th anniversary, also looked at university education.
It found that overall, almost a third (31%) of high-flyers went to Oxbridge, and another fifth attended another leading university. Some 62% of high-flyers in the diplomatic service are Oxbridge graduates, along with 58% of those in the law, and 55% of those at the top of the civil service.
But just 1% of top pop stars attended one of these two institutions, along with 8% of leading sportsmen and 8% of actors and actresses.
Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: “This analysis shows how dominant leading universities and schools remain across the professions in Britain. That’s why it is so important that access to our leading schools and universities is on the basis of ability alone.”
In the last 15 years, the Sutton Trust has helped to improve access to top universities and shown ways in which leading private schools could be opened up on the basis of ability, he said. He added: “But studies like this – and over 120 pieces of research commissioned by the trust since 1997 – show how far we still need to go to improve social mobility in this country and ensure that every young person can achieve his or her potential, regardless of their family background.”
The study examined the educational background of leading individuals working in business, finance, the arts, education, public services, sport, law and journalism.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has in the past described the dominance of the public schoolboy prominent roles in British society is “morally indefensible”.
In a speech to independent school headteachers in May, Mr Gove said the sheer scale of privately-educated men in positions of power in business, politics, media, comedy, sport and music was proof of a “deep problem in our country” which politicians have failed to tackle with “anything like the radicalism required”.
Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association and himself public school-educated, raised the issue of public school dominance in British Olympic sport in the run up to the London 2012 Games, saying: “It’s one of the worst statistics in British sport.”
We shouldn’t have to open our facilities for state pupils, insists British private schools chief
Private schools should not be expected to open up their facilities to pupils from local state schools, a leading headmistress said yesterday.
Louise Robinson, president of the Girls’ Schools Association, said it was `beyond the pale’ for the Government to insist that private schools share their `unique selling points’, such as facilities and resources, with the `competition’.
She said that middle class parents who manage to find the money for private school fees should not be expected to bankroll state pupils who want to use the same resources.
Her comments are likely to spark fierce debate among private school heads, many of whom justify their schools’ `charitable’ status by stressing the ways in which they share facilities with local state schools and the community.
David Cameron and Education Secretary Michael Gove have praised this practice and urged independent schools to go further, pooling their `DNA’ with state schools by extending financial backing and lending their `brands’ to academies.
But Mrs Robinson, head of Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School in Crosby, Liverpool, said parents already faced increasing fees due to the growing weight of regulation and red tape that private schools must follow.
She said they should not be expected to pay for an independent education only to see the money spent on `local competition’.
She questioned why, for example, private schools should help set up combined cadet forces (CCFs) for state pupils.
Mrs Robinson stressed that many private schools were keen to help the state sector `on their own terms’ but said it was wrong for the Government to impose the practice.
`Michael Gove has been very clear about the rules of co-operating with us, asking us to share our resources or facilities,’ she told the GSA’s annual conference in Liverpool. `Many of us happily do this already with a wide variety of schools on our own terms.
`But when we are squeezed between the tightening rules and regulations being imposed upon us, the rising cost of our provision and the ability of middle-class parents to pay our increasing fees, it seems a bit beyond the pale to ask if we will share aspects of our unique selling points with local competition.
`And competition it is; why should my school offer its CCF expertise and experience to parents who could have sent their children to my school, but chose not to, or to a Government which criticises my morality?
`The current government cannot decide whether they are for or against independent schools: they want our DNA, our sponsorship of academies, but we know academies are not the answer to everyone’s prayers.’
Mrs Robinson said many private school heads backed an `open access’ scheme with poorer parents given financial help to give their children an independent education.
Fees would depend on parental income, with the wealthiest paying full fees and others paying nothing and the Government making up the shortfall.
In a wide-ranging speech, she also forecast that pupils will be able to play video games and learn from the comfort of their homes using web-based lessons and Skype in `Star Trek schools’ of the future.
Britain’s school system was failing to keep up with 21st century technology and must modernise to equip pupils with the skills they will need in the future, she added.
Her call came days after Mr Gove announced plans for a computer science curriculum with the same status as traditional subjects.
Pupils as young as seven could be required to learn how to `code’ computer programs.
Mrs Robinson said she was calling for more `creative curriculum decisions’.
Happy children grow up to be wealthy
This seems an unusually well-controlled study so the conclusions are probably correct.
There is an elephant in the room, however. All the evidence suggests that happiness is a stable disposition. You are born happy or miserable as the case may be and you stay at pretty much that level. Neither you nor anybody else can do much to change it
Happy children are more likely to grow up to be wealthy adults, according to new research.
A data analysis of 15,000 young adults in the U.S. by economists at University College London, revealed that those who reported higher levels of life satisfaction, went on to receive larger paychecks than their gloomy counterparts.
This is due to the fact that people with sunny dispositions are more likely to be outgoing, finish a degree, secure work and get promoted quicker.
It marks the first time a link between happiness and income has been investigated in depth.
Results found that even a one-point increase in life satisfaction – on a scale of five – at the age of 22 led to almost $2,000 higher earnings per annum seven years on.
Co-author of the study, Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, said: ‘These findings have important implications for academics, policy makers, and the general public.
‘For academics they reveal the strong possibility for reverse causality between income and happiness – a relationship that most have assumed unidirectional and causal.
‘For policy makers, they highlight the importance of promoting general well-being, not just because happiness is what the general population aspires to but also for its economic impact.’
Dr De Neve, who worked with Professor Andrew Oswald from the University of Warwick, added that the findings show how the well-being of a child is key to future success.
He urged parents to create and maintain emotionally healthy home environments.
However findings highlighted that there are a range of factors outside of the home that cannot be controlled by guardians, as siblings often reported different emotions.
The study took into account the education, physical health, genetic variation, IQ, self-esteem and current happiness of subjects.
It appears in the November 19 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
British PM promises to end ‘bureaucratic nonsense’ over equality
David Cameron has promised to end the “reams of bureaucratic nonsense” forcing civil servants to check every decision to see whether it is fair to women, ethnic minorities and disabled people.
In a speech to the CBI, the Prime Minister declared war on pointless checks, consultations and reviews that hold up Government decision-making. He said “equality assessments” will be scrapped and policies will no longer automatically be put out to consultation for three months – a process which allows people to raise concerns about Government decisions. Ministers will now get to decide how long a consultation is needed and whether it is required at all.
Mr Cameron also swept away the right to mount multiple legal challenges over planning, raising fears that local communities will be unable to fight unwanted developments in their areas.
Applicants will be charged more to launch a judicial review of Government decisions and the number of appeals will be cut from two to four in an effort to stop “time-wasters” holding up major projects.
Speaking to business leaders, Mr Cameron said Britain must fight the battle to get the economy growing like a war. He promised the Government will be much faster at making decisions, allowing new railways, roads and energy infrastructure to be built quickly.
“You know the story,” he said. “The minister stands on a platform like this and announces a plan, then that plan goes through a three month consultation period, there are impact assessments along the way and probably some judicial reviews to clog things up further. “By the time the machinery of government has finally wheezed into action, the moment’s probably passed. Government has been like someone endlessly writing a `pros and cons’ list as an excuse not to do anything at all.”
Mr Cameron also attacked “risk averse” civil servants and the “bureaucratic rubbish” imposed by Whitehall on businesses.
The Prime Minister has been accused by campaign groups of designing policies that hit women harder than men. However, he promised scrapping equality assessments would not mean any discrimination. “I care about making sure that Government policy never marginalises or discriminates,” he said. “I care about making sure we treat people equally. But let’s have the courage to say it – caring about these things does not have to mean churning out reams of bureaucratic nonsense.
His plans were welcomed by businesses but may spark fears it will be more difficult to hold the Government to account.
Dan McLean, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has warned the planning changes could curb a fundamental democratic right to challenge decisions affecting their homes and lives. He said: “Putting this option further out of reach for many people will only make it even harder for local people to take a democratic role in planning decisions where they live.”
Mr Cameron will make the assault on planning laws only months after the Coalition concluded what ministers said was a far-reaching reform of the planning rules.
The introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework led to major protests from campaign groups, which warned that it would lead to unrestrained building on rural land. In the face of protests – including The Daily Telegraph’s Hands Off Our Land campaign – Mr Cameron rethought the policy.
But the Prime Minister has reopened the battle amid continued concern about the economy and under intense pressure from the Treasury.
The country emerged from recession last month, but the Bank of England has warned that the economy could shrink again this year, and faces several years of dismal growth.
Finally, the BBC’s pro-Palestinian propaganda machine has swung into action
By the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, a priest of the Church of England
The BBC has been slipping up recently. No – I don’t mean to refer to unpleasant recollections of Savilegate and McAlpinegate. Let us just leave them conveniently on the Corporation’s CV. Instead I am wondering why it took the BBC so long to get into its full propaganda mode in its reporting of the war between Israel and Hamas. I don’t say there was ever anything distantly approaching even-handedness. You never get that with an ideological pressure group as committed to its own unassailable self-righteousness as the BBC. But at least for the first few days of the war there was the pretence of objectivity.
But true colours will inevitably show themselves and, sure enough, over the weekend the Corporation began to screen its horrific and heart-breaking accounts (with pictures, of course) of the Gazan children slaughtered by the nasty Israelis. What is never explained – because propaganda aims not to explain but to seduce – is the fact that Hamas stores its rockets and high explosives in schools and hospitals, and those leaders who are not so far up the pay scale that they are allotted their personal bunkers are obliged to live in their own houses with their families. And even the most meticulously targeted airstrike cannot distinguish between a terrorist and his three-year-old son when they are sitting in the same front room.
The BBC loves to announce the casualty figures which invariably show that Palestinians have suffered many more deaths and injuries than the Israelis. This is entirely a matter of chance – but a distinction needs to be made. The Israeli forces do not target non-combatants or children. In fact they go to great pains to avoid killing innocent bystanders. By contrast, Hamas deliberately targets innocent women and children in Israel. That is the sole purpose of their rocket attacks. Let me spell it out: what terrorists do is propagate terror. It is simply a matter of good fortune, aided by the Iron Dome defence system, that more Israeli civilians have not been killed. More than 750 rockets have been fired into Israel over the last six days, including long-distance projectiles made in Iran.
Now the conflict is entering a new and much more dangerous phase. The attacks from Gaza may be subdued, but other threats are rapidly emerging. To the east, Jordan is unstable, the crowds demonstrating for the sacking of the government and their own version of the Arab Spring. To the west, post-Mubarak Egypt is not the steadying influence on the region that it was for so long. But the most terrifying scenario is the prospect from the north, from the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon who are even now waiting eagerly for the ragbag rebel Syrian army to take possession of Assad’s copious stores of chemical weapons. There is an extreme likelihood that these would be used against the civilian population in Israel.
I learned of this real and present danger from Sky, by the way, not from the BBC.
Church of England under immense political pressure to allow women bishops
The Church of England will face a battle in Parliament and the prospect of legal challenges if it fails to approve women bishops on Tuesday, MPs said on Monday. Special legal privileges and even its position as the established Church could be called into question if the General Synod rejected the plan, they warned.
The Synod will vote on whether to admit women to the episcopacy at a special sitting in London. Despite strong support throughout the Church for the move, the outcome was described as on a “knife-edge” because of the need to secure two thirds support in all three of its branches: bishops, clergy and laity.
The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is pinning hopes for his legacy on the success of the vote. His successor, Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, is also due to make an impassioned plea in favour during the debate.
The outcome could hang on a handful of votes among the laity, with a number thought to be still undecided.
Under the current plans, traditionalists in the Anglo-Catholic and conservative evangelical strands of the Church, who object to women bishops on theological grounds, would be able to opt out of the authority of a woman bishop. An alternative male bishop would be chosen “in a manner which respects” their beliefs. The option is likely to be taken up by about 900 of the Church’s 13,000 parishes.
Opponents say the compromise does not offer them enough safeguards but calls were growing for them to abstain rather than vote against in order to allow the measure to go forward, ending a tortuous, 12-year process.
MPs, who must approve any Synod decision before it receives Royal Assent, warned that a failure to approve the proposal could undermine the Church of England’s position as the established Church. Chris Bryant, the Labour MP and a former Anglican priest, said the legislation would face a “rough ride” in Parliament if there were any further concessions to traditionalists. “If the legislation leans too far towards the traditionalist that won’t please the Commons and the legislation would have trouble,” he said.
“There are quite a few of us who think that the way this is leaning is entrenching forever a religious apartheid within the Church of England.” He added that a rejection would “undoubtedly undermine” support for aspects of establishment, including bishops in the Lords and the role of Parliament approving Church laws.
Frank Field, a former Labour minister who sits on the parliamentary ecclesiastical committee, said that in the event of a no vote, he would table a motion to remove the Church’s special exemptions from equality laws. “It would mean that they couldn’t continue to discriminate against women,” he said.
Susie Leafe, of the campaign group “Proper Provision” that represents women opposed to women bishops, said a failure to include robust safeguards for traditionalists would lead to a slow haemorrhaging of evangelicals. “It won’t be the death of Christianity,” she said. “The Church will grow, it just won’t be the Church of England.”