Friday, January 26, 2007

Chronic NHS delays turn fatal: Toddler with minor burns dies after a four-hour wait in hospital

And it sounds like the actual cause of death was one of the superbugs that are rife in dirty NHS hospitals

A father described yesterday how he watched helplessly as his 13-month-old son died after a four-hour hospital wait because doctors said that they were too busy to treat him. Zia Islam said that Ahil was taken to hospital after he suffered minor burns when a cup of tea fell on him at home.

Giving evidence at the child’s inquest, Mr Islam, a 37-year-old IT consultant from Watford, said that Ahil was transferred from a specialist burns unit to Watford General Hospital in October 2005 when his condition took a turn for the worse a few days after the mishap.

The boy and his mother arrived at 11am at the hospital’s Accident & Emergency department, where he later joined them. He said that despite the infant starting a fever, vomiting and suffering severe diarrhoea, they were kept waiting for four hours.

Mr Islam claimed that he and his wife, Nazmin, were treated as though there was “nothing wrong” with their son.

He said: “When I got to A&E, my wife and Ahil were in the waiting room. He was crying and I asked, ‘What are you both doing here... haven’t you been seen yet?’ I was getting very anxious.

“One doctor told me Ahil was seriously sick, another told me they were all busy. Before anyone could see him properly, he was suffering from extreme diarrhoea in the waiting room. Every time a doctor came past, he was getting progressively weaker.” The senior house officer examined Ahil nearly 90 minutes after his arrival. He thought he might have a chest infection and sent him for X-rays.

Mr Islam added: “As time progressed he was getting weaker, he was crying but he was beginning to lie still. At 2.15pm he went to the cubicle for a blood test. At around 3.45pm his breathing deteriorated, his eyes closed, and the doctors tried to resuscitate him.

“The only time there was a sense of urgency was when they tried to resuscitate him.When you are the parent of a very sick child, there is a limit to what you can do. You cannot offend someone or you will not get the best out of them.”

He said that he felt that he had not done everything possible. “I did not shout or make a scene — if I had we might not be sitting here today.” The hospital has admitted liability.

Dr Craig Platt, a paediatric pathologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, said that the cause of death was “most likely” to have been from a blood infection known as Staphylococcus aureus septicaemia triggered by 3 per cent burns. The infection is found in nearly half of children and normally remains dormant. However, in Ahil it caused a condition similar to toxic shock syndrome.

Ahil was first taken to the Watford casualty unit after the accident at home on September 30. He was transferred to the burns unit at Mount Vernon Hospital, northwest London, and discharged after treatment. But over the next two days he developed a fever, vomiting and then severe diarrhoea. His condition worsened and his parents took him back to Mount Vernon where he was kept in overnight. The next morning doctors decided he needed emergency treatment and he was sent back to Watford.



The Church of England put pressure on the Prime Minister last night over the gay adoptions row with a letter giving warning that "rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation". The Archbishops of Canterbury and York declared on the side of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster after Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor wrote to every member of the Cabinet stating that the Catholic Church could not accept a law forcing its adoption agencies to accept gay couples.

The intervention by Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu in a letter seen by The Times places unprecedented pressure on Tony Blair. If he accedes to the demands, he will face accusations from the gay rights lobby and many within his own Government of being a "Vatican puppet". If he stands by the gay lobby, he risks alienating hundreds of thousands of Catholic Labour voters.

It is thought that Mr Blair, an Anglican whose wife is a Catholic and who has long been known to be sympathetic to the Church himself, favours a compromise. However, most other Cabinet ministers are taking a much harder line and believe that compromise is impossible. If the Church is allowed to opt out, they argue, it would undermine the fundemental position of law.

In their letter, Dr Williams and Dr Sentamu highlight the danger of the row escalating to the point where some might question the ability of people with a strong faith to be in government. They say: "It would be deeply regrettable if in seeking, quite properly, better to defend the rights of a particular group not to be discriminated against, a climate were to be created in which, for example, some feel free to argue that members of the Government are not fit to hold public office on the grounds of their faith affiliation."

They give warning that the argument over the Sexual Orientation Regulations has reached damaging proportions and that "much could be lost". They say: "Many in the voluntary sector are dedicated to public service because of the dictates of their conscience. In legislating to protect and promote the rights of particular groups the Government is faced with the delicate but important challenge of not thereby creating the conditions within which others feel their rights to have been ignored or sacrificed, or in which the dictates of personal conscience are put at risk. "The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning." They draw a comparison with doctors working for the NHS, who are entitled to opt out of performing abortions if it goes against their conscience. They said: "It is vitally important that the interests of vulnerable children are not relegated to suit any political interest. And that conditions are not inadvertently created which make the claims of conscience an obstacle to, rather than the inspiration for, the invaluable public service rendered by parts of the voluntary sector."

Their letter came as Mr Blair signalled his support for Catholic adoption agencies to opt out of gay rights laws despite accusations of blackmail by bishops threatening their closure. Downing Street said Mr Blair had taken charge of the search for a compromise amid a stand-off between the Catholic Church and supporters of gay rights over a new law to curb discrimination. But supporters of the new regulations insisted there was no scope for a middle way without breaching the principles of equality law.


Children used as experiment, says British magistrate

A magistrate who says that he was forced to resign because he did not feel able to place children in care with same-sex couples said yesterday that the children were being used as guinea-pigs in a social experiment. Andrew McClintock, 62, a member of the Christian People's Alliance council, has served as a magistrate in the family courts in Sheffield for 15 years, ruling on whether children in troubled families needed to be placed in care.

But he has argued that the new civil partnership law could mean him sanctioning the removal of a child from its natural family to be placed in the care of a gay couple. Mr McClintock, a father of four, resigned from his position because he said that this would contravene both his personal religious beliefs and his duty as a magistrate to put the child's welfare first.

He is taking action against the Department for Constitutional Affairs, which runs the country's magistrates' courts, under the Employment Equality Regulations 2003, arguing that he is being discriminated against on religious grounds. He wants reinstatement. Mr McClintock was supported by protesters handing out leaflets on the first of what is expected to be a three-day employment tribunal.

He told the tribunal in Sheffield that children assigned to same-sex couples risked being teased in the playground about having two daddies or mummies. He said: "It is incompatible with the welfare of the child, who is becoming a guinea-pig in a social science experiment." He is claiming that his dignity had been violated after being told that he must sit on such cases despite his conviction that children should be brought up by heterosexual couples. There were precedents for his position of conscience and he should be accommodated, he argued.


Another failure of Britain's leftist government: "The police rounded on the Home Secretary yesterday, accusing him of letting down officers by failing to provide enough prison places for the criminals they are catching. Leaders of junior and middle-ranking officers in England and Wales expressed dismay that John Reid was appealing to courts to jail fewer people. They said that he and other Labour ministers had "let down" officers who worked hard to catch crooks. Chief constables privately backed the public criticism of the Government's failure to provide enough jail cells, which has resulted in severe overcrowding. The police criticism of Mr Reid and ministers is deeply embarrassing for the Government and its credentials on law and order. The attack on the Home Secretary came as the Prison Service was forced to start putting remand prisoners in cells in a wing at Norwich jail, parts of which has been condemmed as "unfit for human habitation". It also emerged that cells at the Old Bailey in Central London were on standby to receive prisoners as the jails ran out of cell spaces in London and the South East. Prison numbers rose again overnight, taking the total population yesterday to 80,070, including an estimated 400 in police cells around England and Wales. Eleven prisoners were forced to spend Tuesday night in cells at Inner London Crown Court."

Pathetic British authorities still cannot handle even light snow: "Each year it comes as inevitably as, well, winter, but yesterday the first snow of the year caught the transport system on the hop. Again. A tentative sprinkling was all it took to bring chaos as commuters suffered long waits on freezing platforms and tailbacks on the roads. One woman, 49, died when she stopped at Haresfield in Gloucestershire to help a 17-year-old driver after his car overturned on an icy road. Another vehicle then skidded into her. The M23 from Surry heading into London was closed for two hours after a coach collided with two cars. Hundreds of trains were delayed and dozens cancelled as the rail network was blighted by frozen points. Network Rail said that the disruption was mainly due to the failure of the heating systems that are supposed to prevent freezing. Points failure struck at some of the network's major hubs, including, in London, Clapham Junction, Waterloo and Wimbledon. Other trains were left stranded after ice on the tracks caused power surges".

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