British hospital let 80-year-old man walk home to his death - because payphone was broken
A hospital has been censured by health watchdogs for letting an elderly man walk home unsupervised to his death after a blood transfusion. Novelist Aplyn Wynn-Jones, 80, was discharged from the hospital after receiving treatment for anaemia. He was found by his daughter Alison the next day at his home in his armchair wrapped in blankets, and died within hours of organ failure and a heart attack. The Healthcare Commission said it would have been 'prudent to have allowed an overnight stay, or at the very least for him to have been collected and taken home with some help and support'.
Alison's husband Patrick Storer, who was with her when she found him, lodged a complaint against Musgrove Park Hospital, in Taunton, Somerset, over the way it had dealt with Mr Wynn-Jones on May 16 last year. Speaking from his home in Blindmoor, near Chard, in Somerset, Mr Storer, 56, assistant headteacher at the Castle School in Taunton, said: 'The hospital didn't organise transport for him; they told him to make a call on a payphone, which wasn't working. 'The walk took him more than an hour, he was forced to sit on low walls to get his breath back. He is a very fit 80-year-old, and walks four miles a day, so this should not have been difficult. 'When we arrived in the morning he was clearly dying. He was conscious, but had no strength and was stone cold. He was shivering by the fire in his study and his chest was rattling.'
Mr Wynn-Jones, a widower and grandfather who was partially deaf and partially sighted, had recently had his first novel published, The Hidden Springs, dealing with the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
He went to the hospital as an outpatient for a series of injections but was asked to stay for several hours while being given three pints of blood by transfusion. Unable to call a taxi on the broken hospital payphone, Mr Wynn-Jones walked the one-and-a-half miles to his Taunton home. He spoke to his son-in-law by phone that night, saying he had been sick and was going to bed. The next morning Mr and Mrs Storer found him weak and shivering with his chest rattling. He was taken back to Musgrove Park Hospital where he was pronounced dead that same afternoon.
Mr Storer said: 'My wife and I were both shocked and very upset. He was healthy just two days before. 'Once over the shock, I was just very angry for 10 months. They treated this elderly gentleman terribly. They just chucked him out of the hospital. 'The thing that pained us, that really upset us, was the thought of that walk home. They made no attempt to contact us, we could have picked him up. I'm really quite outraged
Mr Storer said: 'The hospital didn't make sure he understood the procedure and the risks involved. 'We called the emergency doctor who was so appalled by his condition he advised us to make a complaint.' The Healthcare Commission has upheld Mr Storer's complaint and has since made recommendations to Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital. It said in its report that 'the nursing care fell far below the standard expected'.
Mr Storer said he would be discussing possible legal action against the Trust with his solicitor on Monday. A Trust spokeswoman said it was dealing with the recommendations made by the commission 'urgently'. She added: 'The Trust complaints manager has written to Mr Storer. Once the investigation is complete senior medical staff from the trust will meet with Mr Storer to outline the conclusion of the report and the action plan developed as a result.'
'We can't move on... they're our children,' say the Websters as they reveal the appalling anguish that arrogant British social workers have visited upon them
Last Wednesday morning, a letter arrived at Mark and Nicky Webster's house. It was a report of sorts about their five-year-old son, telling them that he was doing well at school, had just learned to ride a bicycle without stabilisers and that he wasn't fond of sprouts. The timing could hardly have been more poignant. Such newsletters arrive on their doormat sporadically, as do separate ones relating to his older brother and sister. For Mark and Nicky, they are what passes for `contact' with their three eldest children. They always make agonising reading. But last week's update arrived on the morning the couple received a Court of Appeal judgment that could mean they never see their children again.
It is a bitter blow to their long-running battle with the legal system that saw their children, who can only be known as Child A, B and C, taken and forcibly adopted in what has since been described as a `gross miscarriage of justice'. The medical evidence on which the adoptions relied has been discredited and the proceedings - heard in just one day in 2004 - described as `cursory'.
Yet last Wednesday, Lord Justices Wall, Moore-Bick and Wilson concluded that the Websters, from Cromer, Norfolk, are `too late' to appeal to clear their names and that the `peculiar finality' of adoption means it is not in their power to overturn the order. The court cited only two circumstances under which an adoption might be reversed - if the adoptive parents had won the child fraudulently, or if the natural parents had not been properly informed. As it stands, Mark and Nicky have been the victims of neither fraud nor a slip-up in bureaucratic niceties. Their parental rights, they were informed, have been `extinguished'.
Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, Nicky says: `Wednesday was a very difficult day for us. It was like bereavement after a long illness. You know it's coming and you try to be prepared but when it happens, the reality of it hits you. I just wept as I read the judgment. `We just found it so puzzling and disappointing. How can they say there's been a miscarriage of justice but there's nothing you can do about it? It's as though we're in prison and we've been acquitted of the crime but then told we've got to stay where we are and serve out our sentence. `The judges and Norfolk County Council are already talking about what lessons can be learned from this. The judges say that if they overturned the adoption, it will lead to some sort of social chaos, as if we have to be sacrificed and "get over it" for the greater good. `They are all so keen to draw a line and move on. Well we can't move on from this. We can't "move on" from our children.
`And on another level, not being able to clear our names means that Mark and I are both listed as Schedule 1offenders. That can cover anything from smacking a child to murder. `We only discovered this when Mark was looking into being self-employed as a taxi-driver. He was told that an advanced Criminal Records Bureau search would be done, it would bring up the Schedule 1 listing and he wouldn't be allowed to drive children unaccompanied. `This isn't over for us. Not by a long shot.'
The appeal court judgment is as troubling to read as each judge professes it was to write. It affects not three but four children. Soon it will affect five as Mark, 35, and Nicky, 29, are expecting their fifth in less than two months. Until then, their shattered `family' consists of Child A, B and C - now nine, seven and five respectively - and their youngest brother, Brandon, almost three.
In his lengthy explanation of his reasons for denying the Websters' application, Lord Justice Wall describes the council's `belated recognition that they are fit and able to care for Brandon', as, `the only mitigation from [the Websters'] point of view'. He writes: `The children concerned have been denied the opportunity to argue that they should grow up together with their parents as a family. That is deeply worrying...
`For Mr and Mrs Webster...the case has been a disaster. For Norfolk County Council...the case has been a worrying and deeply regrettable experience, not least because in the result a family which might well have been capable of being held together has been split up.
`For the medical profession, the case has been a painful learning experience and a further illustration of the proposition that things may not always be what they seem...for the Family Justice System in general, and for this court in particular, any miscarriage of justice - or potential miscarriage of justice - is both regrettable and embarrassing.'
Mark and Nicky have several rather more robust turns of phrase to suggest. According to Nicky: `What's happened isn't embarrassing or regrettable. It's outrageous. We know that Social Services have a difficult job to do but something went catastrophically wrong here and it's not good enough to conclude that nobody is accountable.' Side by side in their living room, a space cluttered with Brandon's toys and bulging legal files amassed over the years, the Websters are a couple consumed not only by their desire to reunite their children - for their children's sake - but by their compressed rage at the council's refusal to admit any error or offer any apology.
Mark says: `They've been asked directly, if you knew then what you know now would the children have been adopted? `And they will not answer. They say it's impossible or inappropriate. I want Lisa Christensen [Director of Norfolk Children Services] to answer it straight. Does she now think we are child abusers?'
As for Nicky, she says: `We've had the courts and the social services saying that they have massive sympathy for us. Well we don't want sympathy. We want justice. `I can understand the children's interests coming first but it seems to us that the adoptive parents' interests come before ours and that we're the bottom of the heap. `We're told the children are loved and I do feel for the adoptive parents. `But it beggars belief that social workers can just take our children and we can never see them again when we have done nothing wrong.'
Mark adds: `Perhaps it would be easier if the adoptive parents would work with us in some way over contact but they won't. They said in court that the children have been in their adoptive home for three years now and it would be emotionally harmful for them to go back to us. `But our daughter was with us for four years before she was taken. She's spent more of her life with us than the adoptive parents.'
The family's ordeal began in October 2003 when Nicky took their second son (Child B) to hospital with a painful swollen leg. He was found to have several metaphyseal fractures - a type of break doctors said could be caused only by physical abuse. A nightmare of council intervention followed. Though the police pressed no charges, the family had no Social Services record and none of the others were injured, all three children were placed in foster care.
Barely six months later, in a hearing lasting just one day, the children were permanently removed from their parents' care. They were swiftly put up for adoption, with the youngest being placed with one family and the older two with another.
But it was the imminent birth of the fourth child, Brandon, that brought the shocking realities of that original case to light. Terrified that Brandon would be taken into care at birth, the Websters fled to Ireland. The council followed them, sending social workers to Ireland even though they had no jurisdiction on Irish soil. The next month, the couple returned to Britain, having agreed to care for Brandon in an `assessment centre' where the way they looked after him would be observed by social workers. But as soon as the family touched down on British soil, the council sought a gagging order preventing all media coverage. The Mail on Sunday, along with the BBC, launched and won a landmark legal battle to be allowed to report what followed.
In November 2006, two legal victories were won. They would, the Websters firmly believe, determine Brandon's fate if not that of his siblings. The first was Mr Justice Munby's decision to lift the gagging order, the second was to allow the Websters to instruct new experts. In February 2007, an interim court hearing informed the council it could not rely on the previous abuse findings to prove that Brandon was at risk and further expert witnesses were sought.
Just days before the hearing in June 2007, the council dramatically withdrew its application for a care order for Brandon. Had Mr Justice Holman been happy to rubber-stamp their request, that would have been the end. None of the findings of those experts would have been aired and the paucity of the original evidence would have remained buried. Instead, he heard arguments for all parties and the truth about Child B's fractures and the unforgivable extent to which the Websters were let down by medical professionals, social workers and lawyers emerged - and with it the dangers of a closed-door system of justice.
The solitary medical expert called as a witness was, the judge noted, `not really the right man'. The health visitor who was the only care worker with direct experience of the family was not called, or even asked to make a report. She opposed placing the children on the `at risk' register. But, shockingly, her view was quashed. Her team leader informed her the `medical evidence was overwhelming', and she should agree with her. In fact, the overwhelming medical evidence now shows that Child B's fractures were the result of normal handling of a child with an underlying bone fragility caused by scurvy. This was not due to neglect but to Child B's eccentric diet. He was lactose intolerant and suffered a severe food aversion disorder, which meant he refused solids. As a result, his diet consisted almost entirely of soya milk, woefully nutritionally inadequate but, crucially, sanctioned by the family GP. The consequences for his developing bones - and ultimately his family - were devastating.
Today, Mark and Nicky depend on those sporadic letters from the adoptive parents for news of their eldest children's lives. They haven't seen photographs of them, though Nicky is certain she would know her own children. The children themselves have `sibling contact', three times a year. Nicky says: `I find it very difficult to think of the little one by himself. From birth, all he had known was life with his brother and sister. It must have been so awful for him to be by himself. The two older children have each other. But how can it be in their interests to see each other so rarely? What must they think? What are they being told?'
On the sunny June day in 2007 that the Websters took Brandon home, they vowed they would keep fighting for their children. Mark described that victory as `partial vindication'. Mr Justice Holman concluded: `The gravity of the case is obvious. People will say, "How could this have happened?"' Yet almost two years later, this modest couple find themselves once more in that awful limbo of `partial vindication'.
They have taken on the might of the Establishment but they are no closer to a satisfactory answer as to how this could have happened and perhaps one step further away from their children. The court of appeal has acknowledged an injustice but offered no judicial remedy.
In his judgment last week, Lord Justice Wall was critical of Judge Barham, who heard the original case, saying anyone `might be forgiven for thinking [he] had already made up his mind'. He said he was `unimpressed by a number of arguments advanced by the local authority' and acknowledged that Mark and Nicky `will not have the opportunity to clear their names', referring to this as `unsatisfactory'. Yet he concluded: `In any system operated by human beings, mistakes will occur, whatever systems are put in place to reduce or eliminate them. In the present case, I am satisfied that everybody acted in good faith.'
Put bluntly, the conclusion seems to be that much went wrong but nobody was really to blame. Three children have been wrongly taken from their innocent parents and from each other, while a fourth and fifth have been denied knowing their siblings. But it can't be fixed.
The professionals on whose opinion these children were taken, the lawyers who failed to seek the correct expert witnesses and the social workers who refused to consider any option but non-accidental injury and suppressed alternative opinion, are all protected by the cloak of anonymity. Their questionable judgment cannot, in effect, be questioned.
Norman Lamb, Liberal MP for North Norfolk, who has championed the Websters' case, says: `The justice system must be capable of clearing the name of these parents. It is wholly wrong, immoral and unacceptable that it cannot. Make no mistake on this. There must be no doubt that, had the plethora of medical reports been available then, those children would not have been taken from their parents. `It is just intolerable that the county council will not concede this point. There needs to be a full apology. If it chooses to say "we acted in good faith" but recognises in light of further evidence that a grave injustice has occurred and that this family has been pulled apart unjustly and "for that we are deeply sorry", then so be it. 'But it appears to be acting defensively, as if its interests are more important than those of the family. `This is an ordinary couple and they are owed that very basic recognition of the injustice dealt to them.'
Last night, speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Lisa Christensen stopped short of the apology for which Mark and Nicky long. But, asked whether she still believed that they were abusers she conceded: `We will never know conclusively what caused Child B's injuries. However, the judgment makes it clear that there may have been a miscarriage of justice and I share that view.'
Mark and Nicky are considering their position. Mark says: `We're so grateful for all the support we've had from the public. `We don't believe we would have got Brandon if it hadn't been done in public with their support and scrutiny. `We are fighting for our children to know the truth, to know us and to know each other. Every day we talk about the reality that we might not see them until they're 18 and they come looking for us. 'One day there might be a knock on the door and our children standing on the doorstep. What will it do to them to learn the truth then? `But we'll welcome them in and we'll show them all the paperwork and they'll know we fought every day until we saw them.'
Edinburgh shivers during one of the coldest-ever Februarys
It's official - Edinburgh is in the midst of one of the coldest Februarys on record, and the icy conditions are set to stay with us for up to a month. Weather experts say that with temperatures as low as -7C, and daily averages fluctuating between 2C and -3C, the city is in line to record its first sub-zero average February in more than a decade.
Yet while forecasters predict the mercury will struggle to climb above freezing for weeks to come, it is nowhere near Edinburgh's worst winter. Records show that back in 1947, the average temperature for the area over February was a frosty -3C. The closest the Capital has come to a February that severe since then was back in 1986, when the temperatures dropped to an average -1.9C for the month. In recent years the trend has been for milder winters, making the current cold snap all the more unexpected. Edinburgh was again covered with a blanket of snow yesterday, with forecasters predicting the wintry weather and snow showers would continue for the rest of the month.... There is no sign of the cold weather front moving on anywhere for at least a few weeks, so it looks like the low temperatures could continue, which means the average temperature could be even lower."
As the UK is gripped by one of the coldest months in recent memory, on the other side of the world Australia is recording temperatures of up to 46C, something which has not been seen there in almost a century. In addition, the more tropical parts of the continent are suffering major floods as a result of relentless downpours. This kind of extreme weather, with colder winters and hotter summers seen around the world, is, the Met Office says, in line with some climate change predictions. [Predictions that can explain anything are no predictions at all]
Shock! Horror! Even some British government schools think that all students are not equal
High-performing comprehensives are "screening" 16-year-olds by telling them they cannot study A-levels unless they score as many as six Bs at GCSE. Some schools believe a C grade, the government measure of a "good" GCSE, is so devalued that it gives little evidence of ability.
Policies pursued by some comprehensives are now more restrictive than grammars that are open about selection. At Fortismere school in Muswell Hill, north London, pupils must score five Bs, including English and maths, to study academic subjects at A-level. Other pupils must opt for "applied" A-levels, which are more vocational. At Fulford school, York, pupils need five Bs for academic A-levels. Steve Smith, the head, said: "You can get students through to a C but a large part of that is staff giving support. For A-levels you have to have independent learning."
Professor Alan Smithers of Buckingham University said: "Sixth-form selection is an unacknowledged feature of our system."
The inimitable Pat Condell sums up Leftist Britain's latest attack on free speech in his usual merciless way
Pat Condell may be the only man in Britain who is game to speak the truth about Islam. If you have not seen his videos before, there are a couple of previous ones here and here
Interestingly, he is an atheist, so that seems to give him some protection. When one of his videos was taken down by Google, all the atheists and humanists piled on in his defense and Google promptly backed off.
The Wilders film is named "Fitna". You can find it on YouTube
There is now online a complete transcription of a classic expose on John Maynard Keynes entitled Keynes At Harvard: Economic Deception as a Political Credo. It's been out of print for 40 years. It was originally published by a group of disaffected Harvard alumni led by Theodore Roosevelt's youngest son Archibald. The thesis is that Keynes was a Fabian Socialist whose economic "theories" were calculated to push countries into socialism behind a facade of "saving capitalism from itself." The book also looks at Keynes's perverted sexuality (sodomite and pedophile) as a Bloomsberry--not to be read on a full stomach."
Primogeniture lives: "Wealthy parents are making their first-born the focus of family ambition, giving them a disproportionate share of time, care and attention, according to research. Younger siblings, by contrast, are being held back in their lives by a relative lack of attention. The findings show affluent modern couples are aping the upper-class tradition of primogeniture. Although poor families also show some extra favour to the oldest child, this practice is far more pronounced among those who are richer - despite there being more resources to share with younger offspring. "Traditionally, aristocratic families tended to give the first heir more wealth," said David Lawson, a behavioural ecologist with the human evolutionary ecology group at University College London, who led the research. "That impulse may be culturally ingrained. Richer families have more time and money to afford surplus benefits for their kids like a good diet, helping with homework and time to read to them at night. These benefits are diluted sharply as more children are born.... In the royal family and, since Norman times, the aristocracy, the system of primogeniture has formalised the practice of favouring the oldest child. This has enabled families to pass power and wealth down the generations by bequeathing estates intact to the oldest son rather than, as in much of Europe, breaking them up by distributing them evenly among siblings."
The latest British bungle: "A new billion-pound fleet of spy planes able to spot the roadside bombs that kill troops in Afghanistan will be out of action until at least the middle of next year because the RAF has failed to train enough crew. Two Sentinel R1 aircraft were deployed to a Gulf base at the end of last year to fly over Afghanistan, conducting trials with their stand-off radar (Astor). The aircraft had an immediate impact - commanders were delighted by its ability to provide high-definition video footage of an area 200 miles long and 200 miles wide, day or night. Astor can detect any movement and even record the speed of a car from more than 200 miles away in almost any weather. It flies seven miles up, far out of sight of guerrillas. It will allow commanders to spot Taliban planting the bombs that David Miliband, the foreign secretary, said last week had led to "strategic stalemate" in Afghanistan. A total of 37 troops have been killed by explosions caused by roadside bombs and mines since the Taliban started using them in the current attacks, which started in August 2007. A further 32 soldiers have died from other causes during the same period. The failure to train sufficient crew and imagery analysts means the RAF will not be able to deploy a Sentinel full-time until 2010. Two crews a plane, making a total of 50 personnel, are required to operate the five aircraft. Ten have been trained".
The supergun that kills from a mile: "British Army snipers call it 'the Silent Assassin' and it is the weapon the Taliban fear the most. It is the British-made L115A3 Long Range Rifle which, in recent weeks, has killed scores of enemy fighters in Afghanistan. In a new initiative on the front line, the Army is using sniper platoons to target the Taliban and 'The Long', as the snipers call it, can take out insurgents from a mile away. The L115A3 Long Range Sniper Rifle - based on a weapon used by the British Olympic shooting team - weighs 15lbs, fires 8.59mm rounds and has a range of 1,100-1,500 yards." [Sounds a lot like the Barrett M107]