Saturday, March 01, 2008

Woman about to give birth was left to drown in bath by British hospital staff

The husband of a pregnant woman who was left to drown in a hospital bath after going into labour is to take legal action against the local NHS trust. Lorraine Maddi, 31, was close to giving birth when she was left unattended for 45 minutes by hospital staff, despite their having been told of a condition that sometimes caused her to faint during stressful and anxious situations. The son she never saw was delivered by emergency Caesarean section and survived.

Yesterday, after her inquest, Mrs Maddi's husband, Phaninder, said that he would be claiming compensation from the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust. "She would have been a wonderful mum," said Mr Maddi, 29, a warehouse operative in Ipswich, who is now bringing up his healthy nine-month-old son, Jaydem. "My son will never know his mother - she never got to enjoy him. I don't know what I will say to him when he grows up and starts asking about her."

The coroner recorded an open verdict after the inquest, which was told that Mrs Maddi, an estate agent from Worksop, Nottinghamshire, had been advised to take a warm bath to ease labour pains. Her birthing partner, Paul Guthrie, left the hospital to collect some items and he told staff to keep an eye on her in the bath. A midwife knocked on the bathroom door but did not receive a reply. When Mr Guthrie came back an hour later, Mrs Maddi was still in the bathroom with the door locked. She was found submerged and unconscious in the water, turning blue. She died eight days later.

The inquest was told that Mrs Maddi had written to the hospital warning staff that her fainting had become more frequent since the recent death of her mother. Bassetlaw Hospital admitted that there were no official guidelines on whether women should be allowed to be alone, but the court heard from a number of midwives who said that it was normal practice for women in labour to be accompanied by a birthing partner or member of staff. Policy and guidelines will now be reviewed. "I hope they keep to their word and make the changes, that is all I want now," her husband said yesterday. "My son might not even have been alive if Paul hadn't come back when he did. I just hope that something good will come out of losing my wife."

The couple married in November 2006 in India, where Mr Maddi was born. Mrs Maddi had moved to her family home in Worksop to nurse her mother, who died of cancer during the pregnancy. Mr Maddi had to stay in India because of visa difficulties, and was unable to attend the birth.

Announcing the review of obstetric and midwifery procedures, the NHS trust said: "We would like to extend our sympathy to Mrs Maddi's family and friends. As soon as Lorraine was discovered, the staff did all they could to save her and her baby. Tragically, only the baby survived. Incidents such as happened to Lorraine are extremely rare. In the light of the tragedy of her death and the evidence heard at the inquest, the trust will be reviewing its practice with regard to bathing."


New drug to beat breast cancer

A DRUG which could prevent thousands of young women developing breast cancer has been created by scientists. If given regularly to those with a strong family history of the cancer, researchers say it could effectively "vaccinate" them against a disease they are almost certain to develop. The drug, which attacks tumours caused by genetic flaws, could spare those who have the rogue genes the trauma of having their breasts removed. Currently, a high proportion of women who are told they have inherited the rogue genes choose to have a mastectomy as a preventative measure. Researchers hope such a vaccine will be available within a decade.

Flawed BRCA genes, which are passed from mother to daughter, are responsible for five to 10 per cent of breast cancer cases each year in Australia. Women with the rogue genes have an 85 per cent chance of developing the disease - eight times that of the average woman. Initial tests suggest that the drug, known only as AGO14699, could also be free of the side-effects associated with other cancer treatments, including pain, nausea and hair loss.

The drug, which is being tested on patients in the UK, works by exploiting the "Achilles heel" of hereditary forms of breast cancer, which is its limited ability to repair damage to its DNA. Normal cells have two ways of fixing themselves, allowing them to grow and replicate, but cells in BRCA tumours have only one. The drug, which is part of the class of anti-cancer medicines called PARP inhibitors, blocks this mechanism and stops the tumour cells from multiplying.

The researchers say the drug could also be used against other forms of cancer, including prostate and pancreatic, although further tests are needed. Researcher Dr Ruth Plummer, senior lecturer in medical oncology at Britain's Newcastle University, said: "The implications for women and their families are huge because if you have the gene, there is a 50 per cent risk you will pass it on to your children."


I heartily recommend an excoriating piece from Melanie Phillips on her ever-stimulating Spectator blog: `World Saved! (Again)'. Having reviewed the fact that much of the Earth has been experiencing the coldest winter for many decades, Melanie then makes a seminal observation about serious bias in the British media, highlighting a classic case of Foucault's excluded voices, if ever there were one:
"... because here's the strangest thing. Apart from a couple of lonely newspaper pieces, virtually none of this dramatic news has been reported. The world has no idea that it is no longer doomed to fry but maybe should invest instead in some thermals and start emitting more heat. The Chief Scientist has not said anything about it. The Royal Society has not said anything about it. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and Sir John Houghton and Sir Jonathan Porritt and the Today programme have not been heard to say anything about it."

Indeed, the silence has been deafening - it is as if all the telephone lines are down in the freeze. And, it is no good coming back at Melanie to declare that "this is only weather", or "just one winter", a point well-addressed in Canada's National Post (`Forget Global Warming: Welcome to the New Ice Age', February 25):
"OK, so one winter does not a climate make. It would be premature to claim an Ice Age is looming just because we have had one of our most brutal winters in decades. But if environmentalists and environment reporters can run around shrieking about the manmade destruction of the natural order every time a robin shows up on Georgian Bay two weeks early, then it is at least fair game to use this winter's weather stories to wonder whether the alarmist are being a tad premature."

Just so - "sauce for the goose", and all that. And, boy has it been cold! Here is The Daily Tech (`Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling', February 26) on our precipitate plunge into ice and snow:
"Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile - the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.

... The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C - a value large enough to wipe out nearly all the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down."

In addition, of course, the `lost' sea-ice has returned, as (`Global Warming? New Data Shows Ice Is Back', February 19) reports:
"Are the world's ice caps melting because of climate change, or are the reports just a lot of scare mongering by the advocates of the global warming theory?

Scare mongering appears to be the case, according to reports from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that reveal that almost all the allegedly `lost' ice has come back. A NOAA report shows that ice levels which had shrunk from 5 million square miles in January 2007 to just 1.5 million square miles in October, are almost back to their original levels.

... there is nearly a third more ice in Antarctica than usual, challenging the global warming crusaders and buttressing arguments of skeptics who deny that the world is undergoing global warming."

So here is the rub. The dramatic lack of reportage on all this, especially in the UK, betrays so much about our failing journalism under the exclusive dominance of hegemonic myths. We joke about 1984, but I sometimes wonder.

Yet, thank goodness for the web. As it was with the invention of printing, this is the new liberator, helping us to break the dangerous hegemonies that seek to enslave our minds and lives. But now, alternative voices can no longer be suppressed by a weakened and often compliant media, trendy editors, or media magnates. Writing in The Times (February 26), David Aaronovitch gave a name to the potential threat from these sources. He called it the Intelligentsia Default Position, or IDP.

Melanie Phillips, and all writers and bloggers like her, are a brave voice for freedom in a world where too many who should know much, much better are seeking to exclude inconvenient truths and facts, but, above all, to shut down the voice of reason. We must not let this happen. Indeed, we must challenge the often self-satisfied and glib IDP at every turn.


Tougher British immigration system now up

Employers who hire illegal immigrants can be fined 10,000 pounds per worker from today in cases involving negligence, compared with previous figure of 5,000. If the employer acts knowingly the penalty could be an unlimited fine or jail. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, described the moves, which include a points-based immigration system for people from outside the European Union, as "the biggest changes to British immigration policy in a generation".

Highly skilled migrants who wish to extend their stay will have to have suitable employment. The points-based system will be tested for highly skilled migrants applying from India in April, and extended to the rest of the world by the summer. The system will then be extended to skilled workers with a job offer, students, and temporary workers. A tier for low-skilled workers is not planned while vacancies can be filled by migrants from Eastern Europe.

The system puts in question the scheme under which Commonweatlh citizens with a British grandparent are allowed to settle in this country. The Labour MP Austin Mitchell said that any proposal to scrap "ancestral visas" would cause anger.


Tubby Terrorist: I'm Starving!: "Overweight preacher of hate Abu Hamza has given prison officials a list of demands after telling his lawyer: "I'm starving in here." Hamza, 49, who weighs about 20 stone, has told jail chiefs he wants more and better food, extra phone time and an end to constant strip searches. The former imam of Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, who is fighting extradition to the US, also objects to squatting during searches as it contravenes Islamic law. Hamza, who has hooks after losing both hands, is serving seven years at Belmarsh prison in south London for soliciting the murder of non-Muslims and inciting racial hatred." [I am guessing that most readers here will not be crying about this]

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