Breast cancer survivor has just weeks to live after being refused a scan which would have identified FOUR deadly brain tumours
Scans cost money
A breast cancer survivor has just weeks to live after doctors missed four deadly tumours growing in her brain – despite her repeatedly asking for a scan.
Mother-of-two Lindsey Scrimshire, 52, claims that medics at Leicester Royal Infirmary took no action after she complained of violent headaches in August 2011, following a battle with breast cancer.
Mrs Scrimshire, from Leicester, claims that despite repeated requests for a brain scan, she did not have one until last month, where it was revealed she had four cancerous tumours.
She has now been left to plan her own funeral after being told she has just ‘weeks’ to live.
Mrs Scrimshire complained to a nurse she was suffering violent headaches in 2011 after she finished treatment for breast cancer, which included a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Mrs Scrimshire said: ‘I had severe headaches and pain down my shoulder – the side where the breast cancer was.
‘I asked if I should be scanned to check if it was cancer as I was worried, but she said it was not necessary.
‘I was confused as to why I was not given a scan. The pain was such I went to see my GP regularly.’
The former customer services supervisor said she had an X-ray in October 2011 and was told by her GP she was suffering from arthritis and was given painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
In the same month she saw her GP and was again told she was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and given drugs.
She also went for an operation to remove a bowel blockage at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Mrs Scrimshire said: ‘I told them about my pain and worries but was told a scan was not necessary.’
She said she was finally scanned after she went into the accident and emergency department at the Leicester Royal Infirmary on April 22 because the pain was so bad.
Her husband, Mark, 47, said: ‘A doctor came back with the results and she was crying. She told us Lindsey had four large tumours in her brain and there was nothing they could do but give her palliative care. ‘Then a full body scan showed it is in her lungs and liver, too.
‘If they had scanned Lindsey when she asked, nearly two years before, or even last year, she might have a chance of at least fighting the cancer.’
Claire Esler, consultant oncologist and clinical head of service at Leicester’s Hospitals said: ‘We are sorry that Lindsey did not receive a scan at her follow up appointment but it was felt at the time the symptoms were not related to the breast cancer.
‘Our thoughts are with Lindsey and her family during this time and we have met with them to discuss the treatment options.
‘Lindsay’s treatment for breast cancer back in 2011 was completely appropriate and under national guidance we do not scan patients after treatment. We are happy to meet again to discuss any of their concerns.’
Mr Scrimshire has consulted a solicitor and is considering legal action.
The price of under-staffed hospitals? Study finds link between the thousands that die and wards with too few doctors
Thousands of patients are dying due to a chronic lack of doctors in England’s worst hospitals, according to a shocking new study.
Hospitals currently being investigated for having high death rates employ far fewer doctors per patient than others, academics have discovered.
While many think hospitals provide similar standards of care, the Plymouth University team found wide variations in staffing levels. A&E departments are particularly stretched, warn doctors.
Professor Sheena Asthana and Dr Alex Gibson made their conclusions after looking at staffing in 14 hospital trusts recently identified as having high death rates.
These are now the subject of a review ordered by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and being led by NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh.
The researchers found that on average these troubled hospitals have 17 per cent fewer doctors per 100 beds than those not under investigation. They also have five per cent fewer nurses and 22 per cent fewer cleaners.
Those being investigated have on average only 56 doctors per 100 beds, while those not being reviewed have 68.
Four of the 14 trusts – which run hospitals in Tameside, Dudley, Cumbria and Blackpool – have fewer than 50 doctors per 100 beds. By comparison, Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London – the best-staffed hospital trust in the country – has 125. Its death rate is 22 per cent lower than the average.
Prof Asthana said the shortage of doctors was costing lives. ‘The health service needs large numbers of staff on the front line to deliver good quality care,’ she said. Her views were backed up by Professor Brian Jarman, an expert on hospital death rates, and a member of Sir Bruce’s review panel. He said lower death rates were ‘very strongly associated with more doctors per bed’.
Prof Jarman recently calculated almost 3,000 people may have died unnecessarily at the 14 trusts under investigation in one year. He said staffing levels were too often ignored, despite evidence a lack of doctors costs lives.
Dr Patrick Cadigan, registrar of the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘The most shocking example of this is A&Es. They probably have only half the number of doctors they need for safe staffing.’ Julie Bailey, who founded the group Cure the NHS, said: ‘If you don’t have enough staff, patients suffer.’ She launched the group when her mother Bella died after being dropped on the floor by staff at Stafford Hospital.
Sir Bruce Keogh said: ‘Staffing levels are being investigated as part of my review into mortality levels.’
Four out of 10 British graduates will never pay back their student loans
Around four in 10 graduates will have their student loans written off leading to a huge hole in public finances, a study has shown.
At least 40 per cent of the cash borrowed by students will never be repaid – a figure far higher than Government estimates have previously suggested.
Ministers had previously believed that around one third of the total students loan bill would be lost as those students fail to make enough money to pay it back.
However, leading university vice-chancellors, who carried out the study for the Institute for Public Policy Research, suggest that the total would in fact be closer to 40 per cent.
At present repayments do not start until a student is earning £21,000 a year, and any remaining debts are written off after 30 years.
The missing money would leave a multi-billion pound black hole in government finances and makes the current funding system ‘unsustainable’, according to the research, due to be published on June 10.
Normal in Australia but seen as novel in Britain
Today’s IPPR study claims that a number of radical reforms are needed to make the existing funding system more sustainable.
The report calls for the creation of a new generation of cut-price degree courses priced at £5,000-a-year – significantly less than the current £9,000 maximum – for “stay-at-home” students to cut down on the amount of money being loaned by the Government.
It suggests that students could be encouraged to take places on these “fee-only” courses provided that they agree not to borrow money for accommodation or living expenses – cutting the overall loans bill.
The courses would be orientated towards students living at home and those working part-time in a move that could save the Government £10,000 per student.
Nigel Thrift, the vice-chancellor of Warwick University, and chairman of the IPPR’s higher education commission, said: “We are going to need to make major cost savings in the short-term, as well as grapple with longer-term arguments about the future of fees.
“The only way we will be able to afford to expand the number of students is if we offer a new type of degree.
“The current funding system privileges full-time residential courses supported by student loans. But this is not appropriate for many potential students, who want to study vocational courses in their local area, live at home and combine their studies with paid employment.”
Currently, universities can charge up to £9,000-a-year in tuition fees. Students can borrow the full amount from the Government – alongside a further loan for maintenance costs – but are not expected to repay until they earn at least £21,000.
The outstanding amount is written off after 30 years.
Previous Government estimates have suggested that losses to the taxpayer through the system will peak at almost £191 billion by 2047 before the Treasury starts to recoup some of these losses from graduate repayments.
The IPPR study – backed by vice-chancellors including Sir Rick Trainor, of King’s College London, Sir Steve Smith, from Exeter, and Prof Janet Beer, from Oxford Brookes – said: “The current student funding system is unsustainable.
“It shows that there is a black hole in the current system which could be as big as £1bn.
“The commission uses new modelling to show that a more accurate estimate of the total value of student loans that will go unpaid is for 40 per cent of the total value of loans.
“The Government first predicted that it would be 30 per cent but amid concerns that this was an underestimate, subsequently raised this to 32 and then 34 per cent.”
Boy, 2, who was fighting for his life with meningitis is cured using daily doses of ASPIRIN
A gorgeous boy. How wonderful that he was saved
A baby boy who developed a deadly infection that made his brain swell has made a miraculous recovery – after doctors used aspirin to save his life.
Robert Airey was nine months old when he was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and respiratory failure.
He was rushed to Southampton Children’s Hospital as the infection caused a series of minor strokes and affected the nerves to his vocal cords.
And as doctors fought to save Robert’s life, his brain continued to swell. It was then consultant paediatric neurologists Professor Colin Kennedy and Dr Neil Thomas took the unusual step of giving Robert daily doses of aspirin.
The decision proved a defining moment as the drug treated the blood clots in Robert’s brain and the brave boy made a miraculous recovery.
The infection, which causes inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, affects around 200 people, mainly babies, every year. More than 20 per cent of those die from the illness and half experience long-term health complications such as deafness or brain damage.
But Robert, who turned two in March, has incredibly survived the infection – and escaped any of the life-changing repercussions.
His mother Sarah, 34, who is a GP, said: ‘Miracle can be an overused term, but I think it’s relevant here.
‘From what we expected, to him making it and then recovering so well – it was an against the odds job.
‘And to see him playing in the mud, rolling around and playing with the other children is an amazing sight.’
Robert first fell ill at his family home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, in the days leading up to Christmas in 2011. He’d had cough and cold symptoms for a few days, but by Boxing Day his temperature had become very high and he was suffering with sickness.
That evening worried parents Sarah and Paul noticed their baby suddenly felt limp and his breathing had become very fast. His skin was pale and his hands and feet were also very cold.
They rushed him to Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, Berks, where he was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and respiratory failure.
Sarah said: ‘From one minute being at home enjoying our first Christmas with Robert, we found ourselves in hospital being told he had severe meningitis and was suffering from respiratory failure. It was terrifying.’
Robert was in need of an urgent transfer to a specialist children’s intensive care unit to receive the care his life depended on. But with nearby hospitals at full capacity, doctors called on the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Southampton Children’s Hospital in Hampshire.
Sarah said: ‘We struggled to take it all in, but the gravity of the situation was clear. At one stage, we were discussing transfer to a children’s hospice.’
After initially responding to antibiotic treatment, Robert’s immune system went into overdrive and set off a second round of inflammation in his brain.
Consultant paediatric neurologists Professor Colin Kennedy and Dr Neil Thomas then decided to administer him with a daily dose of aspirin.
Professor Kennedy said: ‘This is a rare, but particularly aggressive illness and, despite seemingly beginning to do well, there was a marked deterioration in Robert’s condition in his second day in PICU.
‘Aspirin is not a conventional treatment for children with meningitis, particularly babies, but the severity of this situation and the need for fast action changed the likely balance of risk and benefit.’
The decision proved life-saving and Robert was moved out of the unit four days later – his dad Paul’s birthday.
IT project manager Paul, 35, said: ‘After such a rollercoaster of emotion in such a short space of time, it was almost unbelievable that Robert was well enough to leave intensive care – it was the ultimate birthday gift.’
Robert, who has made an almost full recovery since being discharged from hospital in October, now spends two days a week at nursery.
Sarah added: ‘We were told Robert had even escaped some of the life-changing consequences, such as hearing impairment and severe brain damage, and I put that down to the exceptional medical team and the outstanding nursing care he received.’
Italy is furious with Britain after UK blocks its bid to ban plastic shopping bags across Europe
Britain’s decision not to back a European law banning plastic bags has caused friction with Italy and stunned environmental campaigners.
Italy’s Environment Minister has criticised Britain’s lack of support for the law, describing it as ‘astounding’ particularly for a seafaring nation.
Environmental campaigners have also been left flabbergasted by Britain’s move earlier this month, especially given the Coalition government’s support for reducing the environmental impact of bags on the landscape and wildlife.
However, a Government spokesperson said in a statement to the Mail Online: ‘While we are determined to tackle the blight caused by discarded carrier bags, the proposed Italian scheme is illegal under EU packaging law.’
Andrea Orlando, Italy’s environment minister, pointed out the risks to the environment of adopting Britain’s position.
Quoted in The Daily Telegraph, he said: ‘The bags are a serious problem, above all at sea, and it is astounding that Britain, which is serious about the environment and has a seafaring tradition going back centuries, does not want to defend the seas from plastic pollution which suffocates and kills many marine animals.’
Three years ago, Italy’s coastline had one of the worst records for plastic bag pollution; Italians consumed one quarter of all Europe’s single-use plastic shopping bags. A study showed that plastic bags accounted for 72 per cent of the waste washed up on its coasts.
But since 2011, Italy has introduced a ban on supply of the carrier bags; supermarkets and shops are only allowed to provide biodegradable plastic bags or thicker reusable ones.
The Mediterranean country now wants to go one step further; to be able to impose fines on shops that fail to comply with the rules. To do this, it needs an EU law to rubber stamp the ban.
This month a report by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) revealed that for every mile of Britain’s coastline, there are on average 72 disposable shopping bags washed up. The problem is also getting worse.
To tackle the growing problem, Scotland has pledged to introduce charges and Wales and Northern Ireland have already imposed fees resulting in bag use dropping by up to 96 per cent in some supermarkets.
But England has fallen short of imposing a ban.
Environmental charity Friends of the Earth has campaigned for years for plastic bags to be banned as long as alternatives are adequately highlighted, people and shopkeepers have enough time to prepare, and it does not have a ‘disproportionate impact on the poor’.
British ex-pat and waste expert David Newman, who lives in Rome called the British position ‘astonishing’. Mr Newman, head of the Italian Composting Association, told the Telegraph: ‘The UK has been called to order on this at home yet it is opposing it in Brussels – it’s paradoxical.’
Immigration is driving up home prices, says the minister who believes housing takes priority over green fields
Immigration is helping to fuel rises in house prices that are preventing young people from owning their own home, the Planning Minister has warned.
Nick Boles said he has changed his mind about immigration after seeing how the arrival of 2 million new immigrants over the last decade has left Britain short of houses. He warned that failure to build enough homes would mean only the professional classes would be able to buy a house.
Mr Boles told the Mail: ‘I have become much more critical of immigration. A very substantial contribution to housing need comes from the level of immigration in the past two decades.’
The Planning Minister revealed that he has changed his views since becoming MP for the Lincolnshire towns of Grantham and Stamford in 2010 and minister with responsibility for liberalising the planning system to promote house building last year.
He said: ‘I had the classic metropolitan view about immigration that it was broadly good for me because it made life more varied and interesting and there were lots of people bringing different skills into the economy.
‘I wasn’t really aware of the effect on people who were competing for relatively low skilled jobs and competing for public services.
‘I was someone who had spent much of the last 10 years in London. It was only when I found myself in rural Lincolnshire that I saw the other side of it for people working hard and trying to get on.
‘Immigration has made my ministerial job more challenging. It has meant that we need to build more houses than we would otherwise have done.
‘And it has made it more difficult to persuade people that we need to build more houses. Peoples’ response is that we are building homes for new arrivals rather than for their children.’
Mr Boles said young people are being priced out of the property market, citing figures which show that the number of first time buyers who get a mortgage without help from their parents has halved from 69 per cent in 2005 to just 35 per cent now.
‘The biggest block on home ownership now is affordability,’ he said.
‘Are we really prepared to sit back and accept that the only people who are able to buy homes will be people whose parents can help them?’
Mr Boles has been criticised by Tory supporters for putting the need for new housing ahead of the preservation of greenfield land.
But he said Conservatives should back his reforms because they will help preserve the dream of a property owning democracy promoted by Margaret Thatcher, who grew up in his Grantham seat.
He said: ‘She made some very, very strong statements about home ownership. “A home, like food,” she told her constituents, “is a basic need in our lives”,’ he said.
‘Home ownership, she argued, “gives people independence and a stake in their country”. She was very critical of council tower blocks just as I’m very critical of the ugliness and impersonality of many modern housing projects.
‘What she thought then was that backing home ownership and generating that sort of pride in your own place and that investment in community, and that natural human instinct to improve where you live because you own it, she absolutely believed in that and I believe in it now.
‘Aspiration in terms of housing is going backwards. We are reverting, slowly but surely to the 19th century, where the only people who could own their own homes were the professional classes on large incomes and the landed gentry.
‘If we’re not careful, we will have done the most extraordinary feat of regressing in terms of the availability of what Margaret Thatcher said was as fundamental a human need as the desire for food.’