Welsh grandfather with liver cancer is told to move 20 miles over the border to get life-saving drug
A grandfather living in a Welsh border town has been told by doctors that he should move to England to receive life-saving treatment for his inoperable liver cancer.
David Gill, 67, from Berriew, Powys, has been refused the drug Avastin, which could prolong his life by years.
He is being treated 20 miles away at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in Shropshire, but doctors will not prescribe him Avastin because he lives in Wales. Instead, they have advised him to move to Shropshire to gain access to the treatment.
In a cruel twist, Mr Gill, has received chemotherapy while a patient in the bed next to him receives the drug he has been refused.
David’s daughter, Karen, said: ‘To see the patient next to him having that treatment and him being denied it you just think what has he done to deserve that? It’s awful. ‘He’s effectively being treated as a second class citizen because he’s Welsh.
The decision contradicts many other parts of Wales’ healthcare system, where all citizens get free prescriptions.
Mr Gill’s family say they are desperate for him to receive the drug and are appalled at the situation.
Avastin is one of the first of a new generation of ‘targeted’ cancer drugs. It avoids the scatter-gun approach of chemotherapy, which kills healthy as well as cancerous cells. Instead, it focuses on the protein involved in supplying tumours with blood, interfering with their work.
Alongside chemotherapy, it can shrink and remove tumours. One of its many advantages over other treatments is that it is extremely well tolerated by patients.
The drug is available to patients in England but three requests to Powys Local Health Board from doctors at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital have been declined.
Mr Gill was initially diagnosed with an inoperable liver tumour in 2011. But after seeking a second opinion from one of the country’s top liver specialists, he was advised that Avastin could vastly increase his life expectancy.
In a further frustration, he has also been refused Cetuximab chemotherapy and without that or Avastin he is not eligible to take part in medical trials which could also prolong his life.
His son, Dean, said: ‘We just want him to be treated as an equal. We all feel really let down. My dad is always thinking of others, in the winter he would always be out early clearing the roads and pavements when the snow came.
‘During the summertime he would be out doing gardening for the elderly. Now we just want to give something back to to him.’
His daughter added: ‘It breaks your heart. There’s a patient in the bed next to him and you are seeing the nurses there giving them Avastin, just because they live somewhere else.
‘It’s dreadful, it’s so upsetting. We just want the best treatment that’s out there. We want other people to be aware of what the situation is. It shouldn’t be like this and we hope it won’t be for other people.’
A spokesperson for Powys Local Health Board Powys told MailOnline it was ‘not happy to discuss individual patients with the press’.
To make matters worse, Mr Gill’s grandson eight-year-old grandson Harvey is embroiled in his own postcode lottery battle.
His hopes of reconstructive surgery have been dashed because Wales’ health service will not fund the operation in England.
Harvey, who lives in Welshpool, was born with Microtia Ear – a congenital deformity where the outer ear does not fully develop.
Until now, he has been treated for the condition at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH).
His operation was due to take place at BCH after he had reached his seventh birthday but it now refers all patients to a specialist at a private hospital in London – with the NHS paying for operations.
An application for the operation was made in June, however, it was turned down because Harvey lives in Wales.
Harvey’s parents, Kate and Dean, have now been told the operation can take place in Manchester – but only if a funding application to the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee is approved.
However, if Harvey lived in England he would be referred to the specialist in London leaving Kate furious at what she says is second class treatment.
His parents have called on the Welsh Government to rethink its policy of giving out free prescriptions if it cannot afford to provide proper healthcare for its people.
Mr Gill said: ‘I don’t understand why all prescriptions are free why don’t they just charge £2 and by the end of the year they would have raised thousands’
‘Harvey told me: “Dad, I just want an ear, I just want to be like everyone else”, it rips your heart out.’
His mother Kate said: ‘It’s reconstructive surgery, not cosmetic surgery it’s not fair on him, he just wants to look like all his friends.
Retired newsagent died after his wheelchair tipped over in the back of an ambulance
Negligent paramedics followed by negligent hospital treatment
A retired newsagent died after his unsecured wheelchair tipped over in the back of a G4S ambulance that the driver had been poorly trained to use, an inquest jury has found.
Double amputee Palaniappan Thevarayan, 47, suffered fatal head injuries when his wheelchair came loose from the floor clamp in the back of the vehicle taking him to hospital.
Driver John Garner and fellow G4S staff were insufficiently trained to transport hundreds of patients from their homes to clinics and hospitals across London and the southeast.
The jury at Westminster Magistrates Court ruled Mr Thevarayan had not been securely clamped into the back of the ambulance on May 4, 2011, when he fell.
‘At approximately Palaniappan Thevarayan’s wheelchair tipped backwards and he sustained a head injury’, the jury said in its narrative verdict.
‘During the journey, Palaniappan Thevarayan’s wheelchair was attached to the ambulance floor by ratchet clamps. Palaniappan Thevarayan’s wheelchair was not securely restrained.’
After hearing that Mr Garner’s manual handling training had not been refreshed since 2009, jurors decided: ‘Patient transport service staff were not sufficiently trained in the safe transportation of patients by ambulance.’
Mr Thevarayan, who moved to the UK from India, had to have both his legs amputated after circulation problems brought on by his diabetes.
He was undergoing three times a week dialysis treatment for kidney failure, but was nearing the top of the transplant list when he died, the inquest was told. He was also in line to have a prosthetic leg fitted.
Mr Garner, an employee at G4S since 2005, was transferring Mr Thevarayan to St Helier Hospital, in Sutton, Surrey, from a dialysis centre in Epsom after problems with a blocked catheter.
His boss Gareth Philips, told the hearing Mr Garner had reported the incident to him that afternoon, but said the driver believed there was no need to tell the hospital because the patient was ‘laughing and joking’.
Palaniappan Thevarayan’s wife and full-time carer Nirmala told the inquest her husband was given a 50:50 chance of survival if operated on immediately after the injury
‘He said the patient was fine and there was nothing to worry about’, he said. ‘I asked if he escalated it to the renal department, to say he had banged his head, and he said no.’
Medical evidence showed Mr Thevarayan had suffered a subdural haemotoma prior to the fall in the back of the ambulance. ‘This made Palaniappan Thevarayan vulnerable to further subdural haemotoma’, they ruled.
Mr Thevarayan wife and full-time carer Nirmala told the inquest she wanted answers about his treatment by G4S and why it took so long to get him into surgery.
She said her husband was given a 50/50 chance of survival if operated on immediately after the injury, but nearly six hours passed before he went for surgery.
‘I want to know why they didn’t look after him properly’, she said. ‘And in hospital, why did they take so long to treat him?’
Despite not being told about the fall, nurses soon notcied Mr Thevarayan’s condition was deteriorating shortly after he arrived at St Helier Hospital, at around 4.30pm.
His wife said she was told he was seriously ill when she arrived at hospital at 7.,45pm, but he did not go into surgery until 2am, and died the following day.
Several witnesses who saw Mr Thevarayan prior to his fall in the ambulance said he seemed his ‘usual cheerful self’ and showed no signs of an underlying injury.
The jury ruled he had suffered previous head injuries, though there were no symptoms, and his chronic renal failure and other health problems contributed to his death.
Recording a narrative verdict, the jury ruled: ‘At an unknown date prior to May 4 2011, Palaniappan Thevarayan sustained a subdural haemotoma.
‘At approximately 4pm on May 4, 2011, Palaniappan Thevarayan sustained a head injury whilst travelling by ambulance from Epsom Dialysis Centre to St Helier Hospital, when his wheelchair tipped backwards. Consequently Palaniappan Thevarayan suffered an acute subdural haemotoma.’
Assistant deputy coroner Kevin McLoughlin added, to Mrs Thevarayan and her son and daughter who sat through the four-day inquest: ‘I pay tribute to the calm dignity which you and your family have conducted yourself through what must have been heart-breaking evidence.’
Mr Thevarayan, of Woking, Surrey, died of an acute chronic subdural haemotoma and head injury, contributed to by chronic renal failure and diabetes.
Top British university awards places irrespective of final A-levels
One of Britain’s top universities has become the first institution in the country to award large numbers of places to bright students irrespective of their final A-level grades, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.
Birmingham – a member of the elite Russell Group – will distribute up to a quarter of undergraduate places this year based on teachers’ own predictions of pupils’ performance.
It is making 1,000 “unconditional offers” to students expected to score straight As in exams as part of a large-scale pilot programme.
The university insisted the move was intended to reward students with the most potential and take the pressure off teenagers in their final year.
But the policy underlines the scale of the competition between universities to recruit bright students in a bid to drive up standards and ensure places do not lie empty.
Students taking up an unconditional offer on one of 12 courses at Birmingham will be expected to name the university as their “firm choice” on UCAS application forms.
It comes after a drop in the number of undergraduates starting universities nationally last autumn amid a backlash over the near tripling of tuition fees and radical changes to Government policies regulating student numbers.
One vice-chancellor warned that Russell Group universities had started the academic year with around 11,500 vacancies.
The competition for students has now led some universities to offer scholarships worth up to £10,000-a-year for bright students starting degrees in 2013.
Prof David Eastwood, Birmingham’s vice-chancellor and Russell Group chairman, insisted the university’s applications were up this year, adding: “I think the issue here is less about filling our quotas and more about attracting the best possible students to a highly-selective university.”
Universities such as Oxford and Cambridge have traditionally made a number of unconditional offers, dependent on students scoring highly in their own entrance exams. But this is believed to be the first time the policy has been adopted en masse by a university.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Prof Eastwood insisted the move was intended to make pupils perform even better in end-of-course A-level exams.
“It’s a time when there are lots of pressures on young people and we are trying to take some of those pressures off,” he said. “We believe that the effect of this is that they will do better in the summer. They have already got very strong performance in the bag… and we think there is no danger of them coasting.
“After all, their A-levels will be with them for the rest of their lives – their future employers will be very interested in them – and these are intensely serious young people.”
Students normally apply to university using teachers’ predictions, which are based on prior performance in GCSEs and AS-level exams.
Universities usually make offers of places that are conditional on teenagers scoring certain grades in final exams sat in May and June.
But Birmingham said it was making 1,000 unconditional offers to students who are predicted to score at least three As in their exams – irrespective of final performance. In total, 4,300 students are accepted each year.
Twelve courses will be involved: classics, maths, modern languages, philosophy, sociology, economics, materials engineering, political science, accounting and finance, business management, international relations and European politics, society and economics.
Pupils taking up maths places must be predicted to score three elite A* grades.
Prof Eastwood said: “These are very good students with a range of [course] choices. Some other universities will be trying to attract them with discounted offers on accommodation and with scholarships.”
UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology says rainforests will survive climate change
NEW research has challenged “catastrophic” climate change forecasts for the world’s tropical rainforests, instead predicting that they will survive even if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t cut.
An international team of computer climate modelling experts found rainforests in Asia, Africa and the Americas would not dramatically shrink, in contrast to warnings, including those from Australia’s Chief Climate Commissioner Professor Tim Flannery, that global warming was a catastrophe for tropical rainforests.
The new research says the ability for rainforest plants to adapt to climate change has been underestimated.
Professor Flannery last year said “rainforests are also being stressed by the warming, with many species at their limits of temperature tolerance and facing increased risk of extinction,” as the Climate Commission unveiled its 14th report on global warming.
But the new research, led by the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, used 22 climate modelling computer systems and programs incorporating plant biology to explore the response of tropical forests in the Americas, Africa and Asia to greenhouse-gas-induced climate change.
“A number of previous analyses have investigated potential vulnerability of tropical forests under climate change. Some … suggest that anthropogenically induced climate change across Amazonia could cause catastrophic losses of forest cover and biomass – die-back,” the centre’s peer-reviewed report, published in Nature Geoscience, said.
“We find the possibility of climate-induced damage to tropical rainforests in the period to year 2100 … might be lower than some earlier studies.”
“There is also increasing evidence that the long-term temperature response of respiration (in plants) is dynamic, capable of thermal acclimation (adaption to changing temperatures).
“Generally, acclimation, again not yet included in any major land surface model, is believed to mitigate the rate of increase in respiration rates (the amount plants breathe) in the event of a transition to warmer temperatures.
“There are suggestions that photosynthesis can also acclimate to rising temperatures, although the extent to which this might occur in tropical forest species remains unknown.”
The research said rainforests would not be destroyed by 2100 even in a “business-as-usual” scenario where industry does not cut emissions.
Ed Miliband: It is not prejudiced to worry about immigration
Ed Miliband has said it is “not wrong or prejudiced” to worry about immigration. The Labour leader said the party would stick to its promises to introduce maximum controls on new countries joining the European Union, and commitments to train workers already here so they have “a fighting chance of filling the vacancies that exist”.
Earlier this week, Mr Miliband said his party had got it wrong on immigration when it was in power.
Writing in the Sun, he said: “Britain is richer, stronger, better as a country because we have welcomed people from across the world.
“Because of families who have come here and raised their children here, we have entrepreneurs like Levi Roots and Theo Paphitis.
He added: “But people have always worried about the impact of immigration, and particularly over the last 20 years or so. The pace of change has been fast.
“People have seen rapid change in their streets and neighbourhoods, with new cultures and new ways of life.
“In low-paid parts of our economy, such as catering and farming, people’s wages have been put under pressure.
“It is not wrong or prejudiced to worry about immigration.
“It is understandable. The Labour Party I lead will listen to people’s worries and we will talk about immigration, its benefits and the pressures it creates.”