Transplant patient sent home from hospital with A4-sized surgical mat still inside him
This is a never-never event. No excuse
A liver transplant patient was sewn up with an A4-sized piece of surgical equipment left inside him, after a series of medical blunders.
Michael O’Sullivan, 49, received a new liver at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, but was sent home with a silicone mat still inside him.
It was only discovered after Mr O’Sullivan complained of suffering from a lot of pain following surgery. Doctors performed a CT scan three weeks later and decided to operate after spotting something unusual. Mr O’Sullivan was shocked to be told they had discovered the equipment inside him following the operation.
He has now won £7,000 in compensation from the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The award comes after Addenbrooke’s was heavily criticised by health watchdog Monitor, which cited a series of so-called ‘never events’ – incidents that simply shouldn’t happen – as one of its major failings.
Personal injury lawyers Slater and Gordon said the ordeal had been ‘incredibly stressful’ for their London-based client and could have put his health at risk.
Mr O’Sullivan had a lapromat – a fish-shaped piece of silicon – inserted during surgery just before closure of the abdominal wall and designed to prevent inadvertant puncture of the bowel.
The lapromat acts as a kind of protective shield and should be removed before surgery is completed.
Paul Sankey, Principal Lawyer at Slater and Gordon, told Mail Online: ‘The hospital’s own investigation says that the cause of the incident was the failure correctly to record that an item from the instrument set was in use, not recognising that it had not been removed and failure correctly to complete the count at the end of the procedure.
‘The normal rule is – count in, count out. The root cause was said to be the breakdown of routine checking procedures. In other words this was not, like most surgical mistakes, an error of judgment in the exercise of a difficult skill but really basic carelessness.
‘I deal with medical negligence claims day in day out. In my experience mistakes quite as blatant as this are extremely rare.’
Rebecca Brown, from the same firm, added: ‘When we go to hospital for surgery, we rightly expect the highest standards of healthcare and professionalism. These standards were not upheld when Michael had his liver transplant at Addenbrooke’s.
‘The award of compensation is a relief for someone whose health could have been endangered by this carelessness.
‘We hope that the resolution of this case, as well of those of others who have brought actions against Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will serve to protect patients in the future.’
A spokesman for Addenbrooke’s said: ‘We deeply regret this incident and have apologised to the patient.’
Dying swine flu victim’s pleas to go to hospital ignored THREE times by paramedics
A young woman with swine flu died after her desperate pleas to be taken to hospital were ignored three times by paramedics.
Niyousha Haki, 28, had a ‘grossly abnormal’ temperature and an elevated heart rate, but while family members repeatedly called 999, medics insisted her symptoms were ‘non-life-threatening’ and caused partly by anxiety.
A day later, she was finally taken to hospital, where she had a heart attack and never regained consciousness.
An inquest into her death heard how Miss Haki, from London, became seriously unwell while visiting her stepfather in Hall Green, Birmingham, at the height of the swine flu outbreak in the winter of 2010.
After she had been ill for several days, concerned relatives called emergency services for help on the evening of December 14. However, paramedics said NHS guidelines meant that they could not take Miss Haki to hospital, because her symptoms did not appear to be serious enough.
With her pulse racing and temperature still extremely high, family members called 999 again at 1am but when the paramedics arrived, they too insisted she should stay at home.
A third team was called at 4.40am but while Miss Haki again begged to be taken to see a doctor, she was told once more that her symptoms were not serious enough.
At the time, paramedics were under guidance not to take flu cases to hospital unless they were suffering life-threatening symptoms or had underlying conditions.
A day later – after suffering flu symptoms for five days – Miss Haki went to a local medical centre and was immediately taken to Solihull Hospital. She died later that day from a cardiac arrest, caused by pneumonia and swine flu.
Robert Jefferson, the first paramedic to see Miss Haki, told the inquest at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall: ‘The standard advice was that swine flu patients should not be conveyed to hospital unless they were high risk. The patient was not showing signs of concern.
‘Her chest was clear and she appeared to be breathing normally. There was no evidence of pneumonia and, apart from the flu, she appeared to be well within herself.’
Paramedic Claire McArdle, who attended the second call-out, said Miss Haki seemed ‘edgy’ and ‘anxious’ rather than critically ill. She told the hearing: ‘Although she [Miss Haki] had symptoms which were abnormal they didn’t appear to be life-threatening.
‘She had a sort of appearance of edginess, she was anxious. She did have a high respiration rate but it was difficult to say how much of that was symptoms of swine flu and how much it was due to the anxiety. There were no other signs of respiratory distress.’
A pathology report found that Miss Haki, who was unemployed, died from pneumonia, with swine flu as a secondary cause. The inquest verdict is expected on Friday.
The swine flu outbreak in the winter of 2010/2011 was one of the worst in recent decades, with hospital A&E and intensive care units stretched to breaking point.
It led to 474 deaths – 30 per cent more than the 361 deaths during the previous winter, when Britain was supposedly in the grip of a swine flu pandemic.
A report from Oxford University and Imperial College London said many of the swine flu deaths during the winter of 2010/11 could have been prevented, but the Government wrongly led the public to believe the flu season would be mild and did not encourage vaccinations.
British Scouts’ pledge to drop any mention of God in promise with new members able to declare themselves as atheists
I doubt that this is a big issue either way in Britain. Homosexuality is, I gather, the big issue for Scouts. I did once know a Scoutmaster who seemed very fond of little boys. It seemed likely to me that Scouts would be a magnet to his type so I never even considered sending my son to Scouts.
The Scouts are to drop their historic rule that teenage recruits must declare religious belief, the movement’s leaders said yesterday.
In future boys and girls who join the organisation will be allowed to declare themselves as atheists and make a pledge of honourable behaviour that makes no mention of God.
The retreat from religion marks a break with a tradition begun in 1908 when the movement’s founder Robert Baden-Powell wrote a Scout Promise which required a vow to ‘do my duty to God’.
In 1908 founder Robert Baden-Powell, left, wrote a Scout Promise, which runs in full: ‘On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people, and to keep the Scout Law’
The promise survives to this day with the language virtually unaltered, except for alternative versions available for young people of other faiths than Christianity, including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. All members have to make a religious promise of some kind.
Scout leaders said yesterday that the change was being made in the cause of helping the organisation ‘increase its diversity and benefit more communities than ever before.’
The movement has been under pressure from secular campaigners to drop the religious pledge.
The National Secular Society is running a petition against religion in the Scouts following a case in the autumn when an 11-year-old from Somerset, George Pratt, was refused membership in his local troop after he said he was an atheist and declined to make the promise.
The Scouts said yesterday that they will run a consultation to ask ‘whether an alternative version of the Scout Promise should be developed for atheists, or those who feel unable to make the existing commitment.’
The organisation added that ‘the consultation is about finding a way to allow young people and adults who have not previously been able to join the movement to be part of the scouting adventure.’
Chief Commissioner Wayne Bulpitt said: ‘We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and religion will remain a key element of the scouting programme. That will not change.
‘However, throughout our 105-year history, we have continued to evolve so that we remain relevant to communities across the UK.’ No form of wording of a Scout Promise for atheists has been finalised.
The Scout Promise runs in full: ‘On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people, and to keep the Scout Law’.
Scouts also retain their original motto, ‘Be Prepared’.
Versions of the promise for the use of boys of other religions were first produced by Baden-Powell in the 1920s. But such arrangements remained informal until the 1970s, when promises were altered to suit other faiths than Christianity.
The failure to admit professed atheists has not prevented the fast expansion of the Scouts in recent years.
The movement says it has grown its British membership from below 450,000 to move than 525,000 over the past 12 years, an increase of nearly 17 per cent.
It claims to be attracting more girl recruits than the female-only Guides, who have also suggested that they will also review their religious requirements. Guides are asked to pledge ‘to love my God’.
A Scout spokesman said yesterday that the movement in Britain will not remove its demand that members do their duty to the Queen. Earlier this year the Duchess of Cambridge became a volunteer helper with a troop in North Wales.
Non-British scouts in this country are allowed a special pledge in which they promise to do their duty to the country they are living in.
Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society said: ‘This is a move in the right direction. By adjusting their promise to include people without a religious belief, the Scouts will bring themselves in line with the reality of 21st century Britain, where more than two thirds of young people say they have no religious belief.
‘If the Scouts decide to change the promise, it would relieve many young people of having to lie about what they believe in order to be part of this great organisation.’
AGAIN: Another false rape claim from Britain
A woman who falsely cried rape twice against her ex-boyfriend has been jailed. Beverley Brandreth, 20, claimed that he had raped her while she was pregnant which made her lose a baby, a claim which was found to be untrue.
At the time prosecutors advised that no charge should be brought against her. Then she made a second claim last November when she told police that he had dragged her into woods where she was beaten unconscious and raped, and he threatened to kill her if she reported the matter.
Her lies were unmasked again when the victim later proved he was in a DVD store with his new girlfriend when Brandreth claimed he attacked her.
The man she accused was arrested on both occasions and spent a total of 30 hours in custody, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard. He remained on bail for more than two months over the latest alleged offence before Brandreth, of Sharston, Manchester was arrested herself in January.
The defendant made no comment and only admitted not telling the truth when she entered a guilty plea in August to attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Sentencing her, Judge Bernard Lever said that ‘mercifully’ the accused man had been able to prove his innocence but he told Brandreth she ‘did not know that at the time you made this outrageous allegation against him’.
The sentencing comes after a woman who cried rape because she regretted having sex with three men at a drunken orgy has been jailed for two years for her ‘wicked’ lies in September.
Rosie Dodd, 20, had been out drinking when she met the men, aged 25, 23, and 21, and started groping one of them on a bus on the way home. She had sex with them one after the other, but after telling a friend she felt ‘dirty’ she lied to police that she had been raped.
The men, two of them students, then suffered a ‘nightmare’ involving intimate examinations and being locked up in cells.
But after police became concerned about inconsistencies in Dodd’s account, she admitted the encounters had been consensual.
In a separate incident, jilted Janet Higginbottom, 36, tried to frame her ex-lover for rape after he refused to rekindle their affair has been jailed. Higginbottom got drunk and dialled 999 at 2am falsely claiming she had been stalked and then raped in the street after being followed home.
Manchester Crown Court heard how Higginbottom of Broadbottom, Hyde, then identified her ex as the culprit, wrongly claiming he had fled in a car after the incident even though he was at home all the time.
Higginbottom’s unnamed former boyfriend was later arrested in a 4am raid in front of his current girlfriend and held for 11 hours.
Don’t wish Beveridge a happy birthday
On the 70th anniversary of the publication of the Beveridge Report, it’s time radicals addressed the devastating social costs of welfarism
On 2 December 1942, the UK government published the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services, usually referred to as the Beveridge Report after its chair, the social reformer (and eugenicist) William Beveridge. The report is commonly regarded as a watershed in the development of the welfare state in Britain, a sign that we were becoming a more civilised and humane society. But the seventieth anniversary of the report on Saturday will no doubt prompt much handwringing about the system that the report helped to create.
The Beveridge report identified five ‘giant evils’ in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease. Its conclusion was that in order to tackle these evils, we had to set up a system of compulsory social insurance to ensure that everyone had a subsistence level of income to rely on when they were unable to support themselves, whether as a result of unemployment, old age, disability or the death of the family ‘breadwinner’. The report’s conclusions were broadly backed by a White Paper in 1944.
The fact that the report’s recommendations were largely implemented by a Labour government, elected after the Second World War ended in 1945, has led to the creation of a myth that these were somehow ‘radical’ or ‘socialist’ policies. In fact, the general assumption that the state had to step in to reorganise and manage large swathes of society had been broadly accepted both before and particularly during the war. Compulsory national insurance had been introduced in a limited way in 1911 and state pensions had been enacted, for the very few people who lived past the age of 70, in 1908. The first call for a national health service came from the distinctly un-radical think tank, Political and Economic Planning, in 1937 – a call which was backed by the British Medical Association a year later.
Beveridge built on these developments, but what his report gave rise to was not the welfare state as we know it today. Rather, Beveridge recommended the expansion of the compulsory insurance scheme that forced workers and employers to set aside contributions in advance to offset the inevitable periods when they would be unemployed and to save for some kind of income in old age. Thus, this was not largess handed down by the goodwill of the state, but rather benefits accrued thanks to the contributions made in the good times when work was available.
There was, however, still a system of poor relief – National Assistance – to act as a safety net if these benefits ran out or for those who were not part of the scheme. But these benefits were means-tested, much to the irritation of those who had to have their resources and household income pored over. Even the entitlements accrued under the system of social insurance were far from generous, strictly designed to meet the subsistence needs of those who claimed them and no more.
These changes were not a case of the working classes beating the bosses into submission, but rather represented a recognition among society’s rulers that a bare standard of existence had to be maintained in order to run factories, to keep a reserve of labour available during recessions and to fight wars. The mish-mash of private assurance via friendly societies and charitable provision was simply too inefficient and narrowly applicable to sustain a modern society. Social welfare, education, healthcare and the wider economy had to be organised by the state because private provision had proved itself lacking and incapable. In this light, modern-day notions of saving ‘Our NHS’ look laughable – it was never ours in the first place.
Moreover, although revolutionary notions among the working classes had been put down with the smashing of the General Strike in 1926, it was clear to the ruling elite that there was always the potential for social unrest unless the worst symptoms of market failure were attended to. This new system of minimal ‘cradle to grave’ support was designed to ameliorate the worst aspects of capitalism as a way of pre-empting any wider social and political challenge.
Beveridge also built his belief in social insurance on another idea: that it was the function of the state to ensure full employment. Beveridge was inspired by the establishment’s new ideologue-in-chief, John Maynard Keynes; ideas about planning and state management of the economy started to become all the rage. The welfare bill would never become too large, Beveridge assumed, because the government would never let unemployment get out of hand. Individuals suffering temporary unemployment would be covered by their insurance contributions. In any event, it was widely assumed that people would, by and large, be too proud and independent to abuse the system and would choose work over welfare.
Yet as the decades passed, the welfare state expanded. The notion of a connection between national-insurance contributions and entitlements has pretty much disappeared. Now there is an amorphous sense of entitlement to welfare, regardless of one’s contributions. The state has positively encouraged this sentiment even as politicians have attacked ‘scroungers’ rhetorically.
For example, incapacity benefit has been expanded, so that millions of people who could work but are not currently employed are effectively told not to bother looking for jobs. This suited politicians when it became abundantly clear that full employment was gone, never to return. Taking those who might struggle to find work off the dole figures, and putting them on benefits that are not reliant upon them looking for work, might seem like a humane or generous thing to do. But in truth, the incapacity system effectively disabled them, by officially branding them ‘incapable’ – a label which many of these people have now internalised.
Welfare has expanded from a short-term fix when people can’t earn money or can’t afford healthcare into something that touches upon everyone’s lives, all of the time. Hence the howls of protest when the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne announced in 2010 that families with a higher-rate taxpayer would lose child-benefit payments. Even well-off people now assume that they should receive routine support from the state.
In turn, the state has taken to poking its nose into every aspect of our lives. Incapable of macromanaging the economy, the authorities instead seek to micromanage our lives from ‘cradle to grave’. (In fact, from womb to grave would be more accurate, given the endless regulation of pregnant women.) Today’s announcement of a minimum price per unit of alcohol is just the latest way in which an increasingly therapeutic, welfarist-minded government is interfering in how we live our lives.
In turn, the belief that the state will provide for us has undermined the sense of needing to be independent and the importance of making a contribution. The court action brought by unemployed geology graduate Cait Reilly against the government for forcing her to undertake work at Poundland in exchange for her welfare benefits is a case in point. The scheme that she was on may have been useless at helping her to find a decent job, but to declare that being forced to work in exchange for benefits was a denial of her human rights was an absurd expression of a pervasive sense of entitlement.
Far from being radical, such demands are thoroughly conservative. You are not exactly going to overthrow the state if you are dependent upon it. While there may be much bitching from politicians past and present about the cost of welfarism, this relationship of dependence between the populace and the state is the big overarching idea by which the political class justifies itself today: ‘We will look after you’, is their message, their means of gaining political and public legitimacy.
Sadly, much of the debate about Beveridge in the next few days will be reduced to fretting about the financial cost of the welfare state today or the impact of government cuts to benefits. While the financial cost of social security is substantial, and could no doubt be reduced, it is the political, social and personal cost of welfarism that we should really be worried about.
British maths pupils lag behind other countries ‘because poor teachers don’t have a proper grasp of the subject’
Who will teach a generation who were themselves badly taught?
Pupils are lagging behind in maths compared with other countries because not enough primary school teachers have a proper grasp of the subject, a report claims today.
There are too few mathematically competent teachers in primaries, with many achieving only a GCSE grade C.
The problem means thousands of pupils leave primary school without getting to grips with the basics, according to a report published by think-tank Politeia. The Government is introducing a new primary curriculum in 2014 in an effort to raise standards in English, maths and science.
But the report warns the main problem is the poor standard of teachers. Countries which perform better in maths – including Finland, Japan and Singapore – have more mathematically competent teachers who ‘outperform British teachers in mathematics tests’, it claims.
The report is by David Burghes, who is professor of mathematics teaching at the University of Plymouth and director of the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching.
He said: ‘We have too few teachers at primary school with a real understanding of mathematics, leading to children not being fully extended; the pupils continue into the secondary stage, where there is a shortage of adequately trained mathematicians.
‘This results in not enough students in the sixth form taking mathematics and low numbers of students undertaking mathematics at universities.
‘The cycle continues with not enough mathematically well-qualified young people entering the teaching profession. A route must be found to break this sequence.’
The report adds: ‘It may seem easier (or provide quicker results) to concentrate on secondary school mathematics, but for long-term sustainable enhancement the aim must be to change primary mathematics.’
Professor Burghes welcomes some of the proposals in the Department for Education’s draft maths curriculum, such as early mastery of addition and subtraction.
However, he believes primary school pupils should master multiplication tables at a younger age and also learn algebra and probability.
Clash of British Leftists over access to elite universities
On this occasion I think Ebdon is right and Adonis is the dreamer
The Government’s access tsar faced calls to quit yesterday after he claimed it was ‘dreadful snobbery’ to make schools focus too much on elite universities.
Professor Les Ebdon said teenagers should not feel pressured to apply for the most academic courses when they might be better suited to an apprenticeship or vocational degree.
But his comments started a row with Labour’s former schools minister, Lord Adonis, warning he wasn’t sure if Professor Ebdon was ‘fit to hold his post’ as director of the Office for Fair Access.
Labour’s former schools minister, Lord Adonis, right, said the Professor should ‘hand his job on to someone who actually believes in “fair access” to higher education’
He claimed Professor Ebdon should ‘hand his job on to someone who actually believes in “fair access” to higher education’.
Lord Adonis believes Professor Ebdon’s comments show a lack of commitment to his task of helping increase the number of pupils from state schools and poorer homes at the leading universities.
In a letter to the Times Education Supplement, he said: ‘I am not sure that Les Ebdon is fit to hold his post if he believes it is “dreadful snobbery” for schools to be encouraged to send as many pupils as possible to elite universities.
‘Does Professor Ebdon not direct an organisation called the Office of Fair Access to Higher Education? ‘Is not one of its key purposes to help ensure that every teenager rises to their full potential, including the potential to go to an “elite university”? ‘Is he therefore saying it is “snobbery” for this potential to be far better realised than at present?’
Lord Adonis added: ‘If Ebdon is saying these things, then he should hand his job on to someone who actually believes in “fair access” to higher education.’
Professor Ebdon made his controversial comments in a TES interview ten days ago. He expressed dismay that society ‘really undervalues apprenticeships’ and engineering courses.
He said: ‘One of our problems is there’s such a dreadful snobbery about whether people go to university or which university they go to. I would hate to see that work through into undue pressure on schools.’ Professor Ebdon, the former vice chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, yesterday said his comments had been taken out of context by Lord Adonis.
His appointment to OFFA on September 1 was steeped in controversy, with a number of high-ranking MPs opposing the move.
Professor Ebdon had threatened to use the ‘nuclear option’ of financial penalties against universities that fail to widen their intake of disadvantaged students.
Leading independent schools, which dominate successful applicants to elite universities, have criticised some institutions for making lower offers to students from low performing schools – a policy backed by Professor Ebdon.
Chris Ramsey, headmaster of The King’s School in Chester and co-chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference and Girls’ Schools Association’s universities’ committee, also attacked Professor Ebdon’s comments. He said: ‘It seems to me that it isn’t snobbery to aim high.’
MINUS 20C? Britain faces coldest winter for 100 years as Big Freeze follows floods with wind so strong it blows water upwards
More evidence of global cooling
Britain will shiver tonight as temperatures plummet in the first taste of what promises to be one of our coldest winters for a century.
The cold snap is expected to last until the end of the week, creating dangerous conditions on the roads and adding to the misery of those already battling floods.
Temperatures could fall to as low as minus 3°c (27°f) in some places, with snow already falling in the Pennines. In Saltburn, North Yorkshire, northerly winds have become so strong that they are pushing water back up a cliff.
The torrential rain which has deluged the country for the last week is expected to ease at last but the clearer skies, coupled with northerly winds, will send the mercury plummeting.
Tonight’s cold snap heralds a freezing winter ahead with long-range forecasters warning that temperatures could fall to as low as minus 20°c (4°f) in some areas through December and January.
Local authorities say they are prepared for a harsh winter and have taken steps to avoid a repeat of two years ago, when a lack of gritters and snowploughs caused roads and transport networks to grind to a halt.
UK to build 30 new gas power plants by 2030:
Aaargh! Gas is a “fossil fuel”
Britain could have 30 new gas-fired power stations running by 2030 under a dramatic expansion of generation plans to be unveiled this week.
A Department of Energy and Climate Change gas strategy is expected to say 26 gigawatts (GW) of new gas capacity is needed – up to 30 plants – an increase from current plans for up to 20GW.
In a coup for the Chancellor, it will also show a scenario in which 37GW of gas plants could be built, making gas account for nearly half of the UK energy mix by 2030. That would require amending carbon emissions plans enshrined in law last year.
Mr Osborne has indicated he does not want to see Britain move faster than the rest of Europe in cutting emissions, while the 37GW scenario would be closer to European plans.
Gas expansion will horrify environmentalists, who already questioned how 20GW of new gas would square with Britain’s legally-binding long-term goal of an 80pc reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels.
It will also raise questions about Britain’s dependence on potentially expensive imported gas at a time when rising gas costs have been blamed for soaring household energy bills.
But the plans will cheer those who believe a shale gas boom could keep prices down in Europe and make a cheaper alternative to renewables and nuclear.
Mr Osborne will this week confirm he is consulting on tax breaks for shale gas in the UK and will establish an Office for Shale Gas.
Adding to fears over costs of nuclear, EDF said on Monday that the price of its much-delayed Flamanville reactor in France had risen by a further €2bn, to €8bn. EDF plans to build the same reactor design at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
EDF said that its cost estimate for Hinkley Point – which it has provided to the Government for subsidy negotiations but has not publicly disclosed – “already include the lessons learned from Flamanville”.