GP receptionist suspended after telling eight-year-old girl who couldn’t breathe to wait in line FOUR times because she ‘wasn’t an urgent priority’
A mother has described how she thought her critically ill daughter was going to die after a GPs’ receptionist ignored her four times as she begged for a doctor.
Sam Burgess, 33, spoke out as the receptionist was suspended and an investigation into the incident was launched.
Mrs Burgess, of Ipswich, Suffolk, took eight-year-old Sophie to the out-of-hours GP service at Ipswich Hospital at 5.40pm on March 3, because she thought her daughter had tonsillitis.
However, on arriving at the clinic, which is run by private healthcare provider Harmoni, Sophie’s condition deteriorated rapidly.
Mrs Burgess said: ‘Within half-an-hour Sophie started to go downhill. I knew something wasn’t right.
‘She was struggling to breathe.
‘I told the receptionist four times that Sophie was deteriorating and was told we were not an urgent case and that there were people of higher priority.’
Sophie was finally seen by a GP at 7.30pm and a paediatrician at the hospital was called.
Mrs Burgess says that within 20 minutes her daughter was rushed into theatre, where doctors inserted a tube into her airways.
Sophie was diagnosed with tracheitis – a potentially deadly condition causes the trachea to swell, meaning patients to struggle to breathe.
The schoolgirl was put on a breathing ventilator and her condition constantly monitored.
But hours later, Mrs Burgess and her husband Michael were told that Sophie had stopped responding, was critically ill and that it was touch and go whether she would survive.
I don’t think we could really believe what we were hearing,’ said Mrs Burgess. ‘My little girl nearly died and I am so angry with them. I hate to think what could have happened – it could have been a very different ending.’
Sophie spent 48 hours in intensive care before she was allowed to go home last Friday – her eighth birthday.
Mrs Burgess has now made a formal complaint to Harmoni and a full investigation has been launched into the incident.
She said the company called her to say the receptionist at the centre of the drama has been suspended pending the outcome of the probe.
‘It is a good job they (out-of-hours GP) are based on the same site as the hospital,’ said Mrs Burgess. ‘One doctor told me that if we had been at the Riverside Clinic (where the service was previously based) we might not have had time to get her into theatre. ‘Any longer and we could well have lost Sophie.’
Harmoni has confirmed that the receptionist has been suspended as a result of Mrs Burgess’s complaint.
James Waites, service delivery manager, said: ‘We are unable to comment on individual cases of care because we would be breaching patient confidentiality.
‘If a patient feels our service has fallen below the high standards we set ourselves, we invite them to let us know.’
He added: ‘We take any complaint extremely seriously and we are undertaking a rigorous investigation of this incident, the findings of which will be shared with the parents.
‘We can confirm a member of staff has been suspended pending the outcome of our investigation.’
However, this is not the first time Harmoni’s services have been placed under the spotlight.
In November, seven-week-old baby Axel Peanberg King died of pneumonia after repeatedly being sent home by doctor’s at the company’s out-of-hours GP centre at the Whittington Hospital in north London.
Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe attacked the box-ticking culture among GPs after hearing how Axel was not seen quickly enough.
She ruled that he died following ‘wholly inadequate’ decisions made by an out-of-hours doctor based on a one-minute phone call.
Nurse at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital ‘failed to provide basic life support for dying patient then claimed she was ASLEEP after she passed away’
A nurse at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital claimed an elderly patient was asleep when the woman was dead, a hearing was told today.
Evelyn Agbeko, with colleague Theresia Van Der Knaap, allegedly failed to provide ‘basic life support’ when they discovered the 81-year-old unresponsive.
As the pensioner’s life drained away they did not even start chest compressions or summon the hospital’s resuscitation team, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.
Agbeko later claimed in her notes that the woman was asleep between 4am and 6am, when she had passed away at about 3am.
The woman, referred to as Patient A, was on dialysis and had been admitted to A&E at the hospital at 9.25am on April 15, 2010, suffering from shortness of breath.
But when her condition did not improve she was admitted to Ward 11 where Agbeko was the nurse in charge.
At 2.30am on April 16, registrar Dr Helen Steed began considering whether or not to impose a ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation’ order, in light of the patient’s chances of survival if she arrested.
Dr Steed decided she wanted to see the woman first, but before she could review Patient A, Susan Voss, acting hospital site manager, received a call stating she had died.
‘Ms Voss received a telephone call from Ward 11 at approximately 4am and she believes that this telephone call came from Ms Agbeko.
‘She was informed in this call that Patient A had passed away. She asked if the patient was expected to die, and she was informed that the patient was for resuscitation,’ said Hannah Stephenson, for the NMC.
‘Ms Voss will state that she informed that nurse that she should not have called Ms Voss, but she should have called the resuscitation team to tend to the patient.
‘Ms Voss will state that the nurse then argued the point with her and stated that the patient has been dead for approximately five minutes,’ she added.
The nurses deny making inadequate medical notes and failing to provide basic life support for the Stafford Hospital patient
Ms Stephenson told the panel that the expected procedure would have been for Agbeko to press the emergency alarm and commence chest compressions until the resuscitation team arrived.
Samantha Adams, a nurse who was working that night, allegedly went for a break at 3am and around 15 minutes later Van Der Knaap went to her and told her that Patient A had died, the hearing was told.
‘She commented to Ms Van Der Knaap that the patient was for twos, which meant that the patient was for resuscitation,’ said Ms Stephenson. She added that this was a reference to extension ‘222’, which was the number for the resuscitation team.
Ms Stephenson said: ‘Ms Van Der Knaap repeated that the patient had already died.
‘Ms Adams will state that she was shocked by this and informed the nurses that the call should have been put out if there was no Do Not Attempt Resuscitation order in place.’
Agbeko, who knew Patient A had already died, subsequently made two entries in woman’s medical notes stating she was asleep at 4am and 6am. The nurse admits this, claiming that she was simply confused at the time of making the entries.
She and Van Der Knaap deny all other allegations against them including making inadequate medical notes and failing to provide basic life support when they found the pensioner unresponsive.
Stafford Hospital was the subject of a two-year public inquiry, which concluded last month, into its appalling standards of care.
Official documents suggest up to 1,200 more patients than expected died at the Weston Road site between 2005 and 2008.
Sir Robert Francis QC, who chaired the inquiry, has said the true figure may never be known.
The central London hearing, which Agbeko is attending, but Van Der Knaap is not, continues.
Thousands of NHS deaths ‘preventable if warnings heeded’
At least 20,000 hospital deaths could have been prevented if warnings about high mortality rates had been acted on quickly, a government adviser has said.
Professor Sir Brian Jarman has accused ministers and officials of ignoring data on high death rates for a decade.
Sir Brian is working on the government review of 14 hospital trusts with higher-than-average death rates in the wake of the Stafford Hospital inquiry.
Speaking of the 14 hospital trusts, Sir Brian said there “must be at least tens of thousands of avoidable deaths in those hospitals alone, when we should have been going in and we should have been looking at them”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Those hospitals which had persistently high death rates over all those years and have now been listed for investigation should have been investigated earlier, because it’s quite possible we would have had fewer deaths in those hospitals – and we are comparing them, don’t forget, with the national average.
“So we are saying that it’s got that number above what you would expect if they had the national average death rate.”
Between 400 and 1,200 more patients died than would have been expected at Mid Staffordshire NHS trust between 2005 and 2008, as managers cut costs and, most crucially, the number of nurses, in a bid to prove they were “cost-efficient” and win foundation status.
The two-year inquiry heard how nurses and doctors were put under pressure by managers to ensure official targets were achieved, even when that meant patients were put at risk – leading to the deaths.
Doctors were diverted from critically ill patients to deal with less serious cases that were at risk of breaching a central target to discharge all patients from Accident & Emergency (A&E) units within four hours. Vulnerable patients were left thirsty, starving and in soiled bedsheets.
Nurses were told that if they did not meet the targets “heads would roll and A&E would be closed, with all of us losing our jobs”.
The Sunday Telegraph revealed last week that three senior doctors have been called before the General Medical Council to face public hearings over their part in the scandal.
The trio are the first medics to face disciplinary action for their management roles at Mid Staffordshire NHS trust in the years before an investigation uncovered “appalling” failings at the hospital.
The Department of Health said the report on Mid Staffs by Robert Francis QC showed failings across the system, including by the department.
It pointed out that it had already apologised and was now leading the inquiry into other trusts with apparently abnormally high death rates.
Extreme Right poses a threat like al Qaeda, warns British junior minister
Mr Brokenshire is anti-Christian and in favour of secret courts so one wonders who is the extremist here. And he boasts below of the extent of internet censorship under his aegis! Yet another British fan of the old East Germany, it would seem
Right-wing extremists could pose an al-Qaeda-style threat in Britain, the security minister warned today.
James Brokenshire said the “ugly face” of the far Right was a “real” danger to public safety and had the same aim as Islamist extremists of wanting to reshape society. He warned of the risk of attacks by Right-wing “lone wolves”.
He also said the activities of the English Defence League could “stoke radicalisation” and push people towards terrorism. Such groups “can provide ‘gateway ideologies’ through which individuals may migrate to more extreme organisations”, he said. “Where these lines blur, from a counter-terrorism perspective, is where the real risk lies.”
In a speech at King’s College London, Mr Brokenshire revealed that more than 2,000 websites containing illegal terrorist material had been taken down by a new police unit set up to combat the problem. Schools, libraries and other public bodies were being asked to block similar content.
He said that 10 per cent of those referred to the Home Office’s Channel project, which tries to divert people from extremism, were now from the far Right.
Although the threat was not as severe as that of al Qaeda, it shared some similarities, he said: “Many of the challenges mirror those from al Qaeda-inspired terrorism. There is the risk from lone individuals.”
Stitching up press freedom behind closed doors
Labour and Hacked Off are now prepared to hold the political system to ransom and rewrite the UK constitution in order to tame the press
One minute reports suggest that the leaders of Britain’s main political parties are finally getting ‘close to agreement’ on a new system of press regulation, the next we are told that talks have ‘broken down’ again. Whatever the latest twists, the one certainty is that the hard-won freedom of the press from state supervision, fought for over centuries of public political struggle, is now in danger of being stitched up and sacrificed quietly, behind closed doors.
The main drivers behind this attempt to tame the press have been the Labour Party and its allies in the Hacked Off lobby. These illiberal forces have tried to turn history on its head by claiming that regulating the press, long the ambition of kings and tyrants, is now a ‘radical’ cause for ‘ordinary people’. To pursue their crusade for statutory regulation, they have proved willing to hold democracy to ransom, threatening to disrupt the political process via a handful of peers in the House of Lords unless they get their way.
A brief summary of the tortuous legal and political shenanigans as we know them to date. In his report last November, Lord Justice Leveson proposes that a tough new ‘independent’ press regulator must be backed by statute. Labour, the Lib Dems and Hacked Off demand that Leveson’s proposals be implemented in full. Tory prime minister David Cameron says he wants to implement Leveson’s plans for taming the press, but balks at the notion of a new law to help do so.
In an effort to escape the corner they have thus painted themselves into, the Tories then propose that, instead of a parliamentary law, the new regulator should be recognised by a Royal Charter. As pointed out previously on spiked, if anything this is potentially even worse than statute, evoking shadows of the old system of the Crown licensing of the press. Labour and the Lib Dems have suggested that they might accept a Royal Charter as an alternative to statutory-backed regulation – but only if it is embedded in statute!
As these top-level negotiations have dragged on into 2013, the high-handed pro-regulation lobby has opted for more direct action. First Labour peers, led by Lord Puttnam and backed by others from all corners of the House of Lords, attached an amendment effectively creating a Leveson law to the Defamation Bill that was going through its final stages in parliament. Cameron then indicated that he would rather drop the entire bill to reform the dreadful libel laws than allow such a press law to be created via the backdoor.
Outraged by the prime minister’s refusal to do as he was told, the pro-regulation ‘rebels’ then threatened to attach a Leveson amendment to every piece of legislation in the House of Lords, whether it was about energy policy or business regulation, until the government allowed a press regulation law to pass. This is effectively an act of political blackmail, which would hold the entire parliamentary process to ransom until the government agreed to their terms.
This week, it appeared that the blackmailers might be close to success, with Cameron reportedly agreeing to a compromise deal. Under this new plan, a statute would be passed that did not refer specifically to Leveson or the press, but which underpinned more broadly the status of all Royal Charters. Thus we would be left with statutory regulation of the press in all but name. Latest reports suggest that Cameron has now had second thoughts, broken off talks with Lib Dem deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband and decided to publish the Tories’ plans for a Royal Charter on Monday. We shall see.
The most telling revelation in all this was who drew up the compromise proposal on indirect statutory backing for the Royal Charter. This devious scheme for achieving state-backed regulation of the press, not so much through the back door as through the cat flap in the bottom of it, was the brainchild of Hugh Tomlinson QC, the champion of celebrity super-injunctions who is now the leading legal light in Hacked Off.
Having, as their own modestly entitled book, Everybody’s Hacked Off, makes clear, sparked the demand for the Leveson Inquiry, set the terms for it to probe not just phone hacking but the entire ‘culture and ethics’ of the press, set the tone for the public circus via their celebrity witnesses and ghost-written most of Lord Justice Leveson’s final proposals, this little lobby group is now being invited by Labour and others effectively to rewrite parts of the British constitution in pursuit of its crusade against the heretics of the press.
The pro-regulation forces that have claimed to act on behalf of ‘the people’ now stand exposed as politico-legal elitists of the worst order. They have made clear that they believe the ‘public interest’ is best left in the unaccountable hands of the likes of Lord Puttnam, pulling parliamentary stunts in order to force the government to impose the will of the equally unaccountable Lord Justice Leveson. These supposedly high-minded reformers have proved willing to indulge in low political blackmail and vandalism – including wrecking the Defamation Bill for libel reform that is so dear to many campaigners’ hearts – in pursuit of their culture war on the ‘popular’ press.
The crusade to tame press freedom has brought together the worst of the new and old forms of political elitism, combining the traditional peers in the House of Lords with the new aristocracy of celebrity. In the name of ‘the people’ (you get the feeling they would like to say ‘the little people’), an unholy alliance of Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan, Lord Skidelsky and Lord Puttnam, backed by a select court of lawyers, hackademics and lobbyists, is keen to ride roughshod over democracy and liberty.
The willingness of Labour and Hacked Off to stoop so low has shocked some radicals sympathetic to their cause. Yet it is only really the logical outcome of the anti-democratic drift in UK politics over the past decade. With the decline of the trade unions, the rump of the Labour-supporting left has become increasingly detached from the public, instead looking for change from sympathetic establishment figures such as human-rights judges (at home and in Europe) and members of the House of Lords. How much easier it is to lobby these civilised ladies and gents than have to mix with the rough-house of the public forum!
We might recall the enthusiasm with which the Tories’ opponents have embraced ‘rebel’ lords as the potential saviours of the NHS and the welfare state, through such initiatives as the TUC-backed ‘Adopt a peer’ campaign. They were happy to see a few peers defying the government then. They surely should not be surprised to see Labour and Hacked Off pursuing the same lordly tactics to get statutory press regulation through.
Before it is too late, the debate about press freedom needs to be taken out of the smoke-free rooms of the corridors of power, and into the public arena. And the entire discussion needs turning on its head. However they are to be implemented, by statute, Royal Charter or act of God, the Leveson principles, from the oxymoronic nonsense of ‘independent self-regulation’ to the new restrictions on investigative journalism, need to be put in the dustbin, not on a pedestal. There are plenty of problems with the British press but none of them will be solved by these shenanigans. As some of us have argued from the start, the central myth of the Leveson debate – that the press is too free to run wild and must be tamed one way or another – needs to be challenged now. The truth is that the press is already not nearly free nor open enough – and giving into blackmail never solved anything.
‘You can’t work here, you’ll upset the atheists’: What hotel told jobseeker after discovering he was a committed Christian
A graphic designer is suing a hotel after claiming he was turned down for a job there because he is a Christian.
Jamie Haxby said he felt ‘victimised and persecuted’ after allegedly being told he could not design adverts for the Essex venue due to his faith.
Mr Haxby, a regular worshipper at his local church, says manager Celie Parker apologised for inviting him to the interview after discovering he was a committed Christian.
He claims he was then told he would not be considered for the role as his beliefs could upset atheists working there.
He is now taking Prested Hall country house hotel near Colchester to an employment tribunal on the grounds of religious discrimination. The hotel denies the claims.
The row is the latest in a series of clashes between Christians and employers over their rights to express their faith in the workplace.
But legal experts say this case is unprecedented because Mr Haxby apparently faced discrimination merely on the basis of his beliefs rather than his actions, such as wearing a cross.
The designer, from Fordham Heath, near Colchester, applied in December for a part-time job creating ‘eye-catching’ advertising and promotional material for the hotel in nearby Feering.
Mr Haxby, 24, said his problems began when he showed Ms Parker his portfolio, which included his designs for fliers for his local church and a T-shirt for a Christian charity.
He also displayed other items such as a logo for a furnishing company called Blue Lapin, a sleeve for a CD and material for a hairdressing business.
Mr Haxby said: ‘Everything was going well, and I felt happy with how the interview was progressing. Celie made several comments about the high standard of my work and how talented I was.
‘However, just over halfway through looking over my portfolio, Celie stopped me and said she did not think we needed to go any further.
My heart slightly sank as I could tell there was something she did not like. She then explained that she thought my work was brilliant, but that she and others on her team were atheists.
‘She said that judging from my work I was clearly a committed Christian, and I understood from what she was saying that it would be very difficult for me to work there. ‘I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I felt upset and angry.’
Mr Haxby said he remained calm but told her his faith should not be the basis on which to judge him.
‘She just said not to take it personally, but that it wouldn’t be sensible and that it wouldn’t work, or words to that effect,’ he added.
‘She also expressed regret over ever asking me to the interview and apologised for wasting my time. But I was feeling increasingly distressed and upset.
‘I then said there was no way that this was right in equal opportunities Britain and that everyone should have an equal chance at getting a job.’
Mr Haxby said Ms Parker ‘back-tracked’ by agreeing to look through the rest of his portfolio, but remarked that other applicants were more experienced than him. He felt she was just trying to distance herself from her earlier comments.
He added: ‘I told her I was not the kind of person who would preach at people or make them feel uncomfortable.’
Mr Haxby has now lodged a complaint with the East London employment tribunal, saying: ‘I have been unlawfully discriminated against for reasons relating to my Christian faith.’
The hotel’s co-owner, Mike Carter, said Ms Parker denied saying she or other members of staff were atheists who could not work with Christians, and claimed there were Christians already working at the hotel.
He said the religious beliefs of employees were not the business of the hotel’s managers, and the marketing job had been awarded to another, more experienced, candidate.
But the Christian Institute, which is supporting Mr Haxby, said: ‘Jamie’s case is shocking, and shows that discrimination against Christians is getting more brazen.
‘There’s no place for this anti-Christian intolerance at the hands of aggressive atheists. It’s high time the Government took the issue more seriously.’