Teenager, 17, died from leukaemia 10 days after doctors sent her home saying she had tonsillitis
A teenage girl died from a rare form of leukaemia just 10 days after doctors told her she was only suffering from tonsillitis and fatigue.
Sophie Coldwell, 17, had been feeling tired for some time, but her parents attributed it to the increased burden of schoolwork. In fact, she was suffering from a cancer so aggressive that a hospital consultant said he had never seen anything like it – and now her family hopes to save others by raising awareness of the devastating condition.
Sophie visited an NHS walk-in centre on March 7, but was sent home after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue, tonsillitis and inflamed gums.
But her condition failed to improve in the following days, and on March 16 her parents called an ambulance to their home in Yardley, Birmingham when her breathing became shallow and raspy.
She lost consciousness on the way to Solihull Hospital and although she was later transferred to Heartlands Hospital she never recovered, dying in the early hours of March 17 from suspected acute monoblastic myeloid leukaemia.
Sophie’s father Andy, 46, a manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said today that he hoped the news of her sudden death could save lives in the future.
‘Sophie wasn’t feeling that well,’ he said. ‘She couldn’t eat because her mouth was that sore. She had a tough 10 days, really.
‘She felt tired. At the time, we put that down to it being her first year in college, it was longer hours – it didn’t really raise any concerns at the time.
‘As a father, I question everything I did and whether any more could have been done. The fact it took everybody by surprise doesn’t mean you still don’t do that as parents.
‘The consultant said teams would learn from this because of how aggressive and quickly it happened.’
Her mother Sherry, 46, a receptionist at a doctor’s surgery, added: ‘The consultant said he had never seen anything so aggressive. How quickly it happened was just something he had not seen before.’
Sophie was a student at Solihull Sixth Form College, and had been going out with her boyfriend Matt Robinson since November last year.
Criminal investigation launched into death of diabetic patient, 66, at scandal hit Stafford Hospital
A criminal investigation has begun into the death of a woman at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital, the Health and Safety Executive said today. Gillian Astbury died after slipping into a diabetic coma at the hospital in 2007. An inquest into her death found that the failure to administer insulin to the 66-year-old amounted to a gross failure to provide basic care.
An HSE spokesman said: ‘Following legal advice, HSE deferred a decision to pursue the investigation into Gillian Astbury’s death until the conclusion of the public inquiry, chaired by Robert Francis QC, into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
‘We can now confirm that our inspectors have today formally started an investigation. ‘Our focus will be on establishing whether there is evidence of the employer (the Trust) or individuals failing to comply with their responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act.’
The report by Mr Francis highlighted ‘appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people’ at the Trust between 2005 and 2009.
As many as 1,200 patients may have died needlessly after they were ‘routinely neglected’ at the hospital. Many were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days, forced to drink water from vases or given the wrong medication.
Mrs Astbury, from Hednesford, Staffordshire, died in the early hours of April 11, 2007 while being treated for fractures to her arm and pelvis.
Jurors at the September 2010 inquest found that a contributory factor in her death was a systemic failure to provide adequate nursing facilities and low staffing levels.
Returning a narrative verdict after the two-day hearing, the 10-member panel also said another contributory factor was the failure of nursing staff to record glucose levels, communicate properly with each other and read clinical notes.
In its verdict, the jury said: ‘We are satisfied that there were serious shortcomings in systems and in implementation, monitoring and management of the systems in place.
‘Nursing facilities were poor, staff levels were too low, training was poor, and record-keeping and communications systems were poor and inadequately managed.’
The inquest heard that Mrs Astbury’s blood sugar levels were not properly monitored and insulin was not administered on the day before her death, despite being prescribed by doctors.
Some of the nursing staff were also not informed that Mrs Astbury was diabetic and some said they were too busy to check the patient notes at the foot of her bed.
A police investigation was launched after her death, but the Crown Prosecution Service ruled that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.
British law of insult which made it illegal to call a police horse ‘gay’ is to be changed
A law which has been used to try to convict a student who said “woof” to a police dog, or called a police horse ”gay” is to be changed
Home secretary Theresa May said the Government will accept a House of Lords amendment to remove the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The amendment had been promoted in the House of Lords by Lord Dear, a former HM Inspector of Constabulary.
Six years ago police tried to prosecute Oxford student Sam Brown after he said to a mounted officer: “Excuse me, do you realise your horse is gay?”
Mr Brown, who made the comment during a night out with friends in Oxford after his final exams, was arrested under section 5 of the Public Order Act for making homophobic remarks.
However, after he refused to pay a £80 fine, the Crown Prosecution Service declined to pursue the case.
The following year Kyle Little, a 16-year-old from Newcastle, was fined £50 with £150 costs for saying “woof” to a Labrador dog in front of police officers.
Eventually the magistrates’ decision was overturned by a crown court. He had been arrested and charged under the Public Order legislation.
The amendment had been pushed for by comedian Rowan Atkinson who had warned that criticism, unfavourable comparison or “merely stating an alternative point of view” could be interpreted as an insult and lead to arrest.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph last month, Lord Dear, said that the law had “no place in our country” because the law was being “used to undermine free speech because of the way it is framed”.
Last month House of Lords vote saw peers vote overwhelmingly by 150 to 54 in favour of the change. Campaigners welcomed the change. Simon Calvert, Reform Section 5 campaign director, said he was “very pleased” by the Government’s statement.
He said: “This is a victory for free speech. People of all shades of opinion have suffered at the hands of Section 5.
“By accepting the Lords amendment to reform it the Government has managed to please the widest possible cross-section of society. They have done the right thing and we congratulate them.”
A ComRes poll commissioned last year by the RS5 campaign showed that 62 per cent of MPs believed it should not be the business of government to outlaw “insults.”
Teachers of hatred: The drama mistress and the master from Miliband’s school who helped organise the Maggie ‘death parties’
Two teachers are today unmasked as key architects of the vile Thatcher ‘death parties’.
One is employed at Labour leader Ed Miliband’s old school and has worked with the youngest and most impressionable pupils there, while the other teaches troubled and vulnerable children.
Yet both were behind disgraceful ‘celebrations’ to mark the passing of Baroness Thatcher.
Craig Parr, a teacher at Haverstock School in north London – nicknamed ‘Labour’s Eton’ – was pictured parading with a sick placard which read: ‘Rejoice. Thatcher is dead.’
The 27-year-old special needs teacher and union activist led chants of ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, dead, dead, dead’ at a death party he organised in Brixton, south London, on Monday night which ended in violent scenes.
Meanwhile, drama teacher Romany Blythe, 45, used the internet to encourage thousands to take part in the tasteless celebrations. Miss Blythe, who specialises in teaching troubledchildren at schools in Brighton, wrote of Lady Thatcher: ‘Who wants to p*** on her grave?’
She urged more than 5,000 people to attend a death party in central London by creating an internet page called: ‘The witch is dead.’
Last night critics condemned the pair’s behaviour as ‘revolting’ and ‘offensive’.
Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Clacton in Essex, said: ‘We must not have teachers working in schools with young people at the public’s expense who think it’s acceptable to behave like this. Such behaviour is wrong.’
The fresh revelations about those behind the death parties emerged as:
÷ Sir Mark Thatcher said his mother would be ‘greatly honoured as well as humbled’ by the Queen attending her funeral;
÷ Left-wing MPs, including Glenda Jackson, used a Commons debate to launch vicious attacks on Lady Thatcher;
÷ David Cameron led tributes in the house, saying: ‘She made the political weather, she made history, and – let this be her epitaph – she made our country great again’;
÷ Union leader Bob Crow provoked outrage by saying he hoped Lady Thatcher would ‘rot in hell’; and
÷ Police stepped up their operation to thwart efforts by anarchist groups to disrupt the funeral.
Mr Parr, a member of the Socialist Workers Party, joined Haverstock School in September last year and was given the sensitive role of teaching children with special needs. He was also made a form teacher for Year 7 children, who at the ages of 11 and 12 are the youngest and most impressionable pupils.
Mr Parr is a member of the Lambeth branch of the National Union of Teachers and has previously urged fellow teachers to strike.
Last night headteacher John Dowd said he condemned Mr Parr’s behaviour ‘in the strongest possible terms’. Mr Dowd said Mr Parr had resigned from his post in February after concerns were raised about his conduct. However, he is still employed by the school and will officially remain a teacher at Haverstock until the end of this month.
The school, situated in the fashionable London district of Camden, has been described as a finishing school for the Labour politicians of the future. Its former pupils include Ed Miliband’s brother David, former Labour MP Oona King, Tom Bentley, who is a special adviser to Australia’s Labour prime minister Julia Gillard, and the author Zoe Heller.
Mr Parr, who was brought up in a modest home in Oxford, will have little or no memory of Lady Thatcher’s time in power given that he was just five when she left office.
The teacher was invited to speak at a House of Commons committee two months ago on the issues within schools surrounding same-sex marriage.
Mr Parr, a member of Schools OUT, an association for gay and lesbian teachers, said pupils should be given a ‘balanced view’ of the world.
Wearing a suit and tie, he told MPs that his own beliefs ‘take a back foot’ when teaching. He said: ‘We have a duty to treat pupils with dignity and build up relationships of mutual respect, and we must also show tolerance and British values.’
Such noble words appeared to be forgotten in the hours after Lady Thatcher’s death on Monday. Dressed in black, he was reported as saying: ‘We’re here to rejoice the death of Thatcher, but her legacy lives on today. ‘We can see that here in Brixton the poorest are suffering with the bedroom tax and benefit caps.
‘If Thatcher was a good Christian woman then maybe she’ll go to heaven, but I’m an atheist so I won’t worry about that.’
A snapshot of his Facebook page also provides a disturbing insight. A message written in large letters, which any of his students could find, reads: ‘We don’t need sex, the Government f**** us!’
Mr Parr describes himself as a ‘revolutionary socialist’ and appears to support various anarchist groups who have caused unrest in the past.
When asked about his actions at his two-bedroom flat in a semi-detached Victorian house in West Norwood, south London, he said: ‘Why does it matter if I’m a teacher?’
Last night Mr Dowd said: ‘Craig Parr was employed from September 2012 as a teacher of Special Educational Needs on a one-year fixed term contract. ‘He resigned his post in February 2013 due to concerns that I raised with him about his conduct and he has not attended school since that time. ‘His views and actions are his alone, but I would condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.
‘Our approach to the teaching of politics and indeed to developing an objective understanding of the range of political positions, doctrines and views are fundamental to our ethos.
‘Margaret Thatcher’s death has clearly led to a polarisation of views about her role as prime minister. As a school community we would offer her our respect and offer our condolences to her family as we would for any of our families suffering bereavement.’
Meanwhile Mr Parr’s fellow rabble-rouser Miss Blythe, 45, stoked up anger by creating a Facebook page called ‘The witch is dead’.
On it she called for ‘demonstrations of disapproval’ across the country. She wrote: ‘So the old bag has copped it finally! Party in the square tomorrow then! Come and celebrate our liberty and freedom from tyranny! On the day Maggie stands down, once and for all!’ A number of places on the list were the locations of the sick ‘death parties’, including Bristol, London and Glasgow.
Miss Blythe is a drama teacher with a workshop company that visits secondary schools. She specialises in ‘facilitating workshops for young, excluded and potentially criminalised individuals and uses drama techniques she has developed to explore resolution of conflict and oppression’, according to the company’s website.
On Facebook she appears in photographs holding a hammer and sickle flag and posing alongside the former Cabinet Minister Tony Benn.
Miss Blythe, of Worthing in West Sussex, could not be reached for comment yesterday. However, in an interview last year, she said her dislike of the former prime minister came from being told she might never find work on leaving school in 1984.
Bar owner questioned by British police after writing ‘offensive’ comment about 1958 Munich air disaster on pub blackboard
A publican has slammed police after he was questioned on suspicion of committing a public order offence over a comment he wrote on his pub blackboard about the 1958 Munich air disaster.
Former magistrate Kevin Banks, 55, wrote ‘Munich’ in capitals before using the word as an acronym to spell out the message: ‘Manchester United Never Intended Coming Home.’
The controversial comment was one of Mr Banks’ regular ‘thought for the week’ comments he writes on the blackboard in the tap room to get punters talking.
But police were called in by customer who noticed the message alongside routine announcements written by Mr Banks including use of electronic cigarettes at his pub and prices of lager.
Today, Mr Banks accused officers of cracking down on free speech over the way they handled a complaint.
An officer went to speak to the father-of-six and gave him ‘words of advice’ before the landlord agreed to let him rub out the message. No further action will be taken against him.