Thursday, March 19, 2009

Baby dies from infection days after two NHS midwives tell mother to ignore prescribed antibiotics

A newborn baby died from an infection just days after two midwives told the mother not to bother giving him antibiotics, a misconduct hearing was told today. Andrea Street, 34, and Jennifer Ansell, 39, told the new mother - a research doctor - it was not necessary to feed her baby boy vital medication, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard. But the small youngster's body could not fight off an umbilical cord infection and he died two days after leaving the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, in January 2006. It is claimed Ms Street and Ms Ansell, both employed by Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust, failed to properly care for the infant, referred to as Baby L.

The infant had been prescribed antibiotics by a hospital doctor after he developed a suspected umbilical cord infection a few hours after birth. Clare Strickland, for the NMC, said: 'Shortly after his birth there had been two episodes where he had turned blue so there were concerns about his respiratory function and there were concerns about his feeding as his blood sugar level was low. 'The first time it appeared there were any concerns about his umbilical cord were on Friday, January 27. 'A nursery nurse noticed Baby L's cord seemed wet and mucusy so she took a swab and sent it for analysis.' A doctor then prescribed antibiotics the following day, the NMC heard.

'Although there were no signs of active infection, because he had problems following birth and he was a vulnerable baby, she took a cautious approach and prescribed a five-day course of antibiotics,' added Miss Strickland. But when Ms Street discharged the mum - referred to as Dr B - she told her 'the cords look fine, don't worry about them', the hearing was told. The mother took her baby son home and put the unopened medication in the fridge.

Miss Strickland said: 'She didn't give them the option to ask questions and left them with the impression they didn't need to give the antibiotics at all. 'Because the medication was clearly prescribed by the doctor, it was the responsibility of midwife Miss Street as the discharging midwife to ensure that the patient knew about the drug, the dosage and the administration. 'She shouldn't have said or done anything that would have suggested the antibiotics should not be given.'

When community midwife Ms Ansell saw Baby L at home the next day, the mother was worried about the antibiotics. But Ms Ansell brushed off her worries and left without inspecting the antibiotics. Miss Strickland added: 'Having found out about this unusual position, if she was not sure, she should have checked with medical staff and the hospital and should certainly have checked the medication and the dosage. 'Whether this would have made a difference to his outcome, this can never be answered. 'There was due to be another visit from the community midwife the next day but Baby L died before then.'

Baby L was born on January 25, 2006 and died five days later from a bacterial infection. Miss Strickland added: 'A post mortem was carried out and the report concluded that on the balance of probabilities his death was due to a staphylococcus aureas infection. 'The Council says there was a failure to provide an appropriate level of care for this infant.' Andrea Louise Street, from Wick, Littlehampton, West Sussex, and Jennifer Maria Ansell, of Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex, both deny failing to provide inadequate care.


Britain's target culture 'is harming justice': Police accuse prosecutors of downgrading charges

Serious criminals are being allowed to cheat justice so that prosecutors can save money and hit Whitehall targets, police claim. Officers have broken ranks after growing 'frustrated' amid claims that the Crown Prosecution Service is repeatedly downgrading the seriousness of an offender's crime - or not charging them at all. In many cases, police say the CPS - ordered to save 69million by ministers by 2011 - wants to avoid the prospect of a case going to Crown Court, where they would have to pay for an expensive barrister.

In an exclusive Daily Mail interview, Police Federation vice-chairman Simon Reed said prosecutors were also trying to hit Government targets for reducing the number of unsuccessful trials. As a result, they are opting for charges which the criminal will be more willing to accept, rather than challenge in court.

Police are powerless, as Labour recently gave responsibility for charging many criminals to the CPS - rather than police. Officers give the examples of actual bodily harm (ABH) being downgraded to assault, drug-dealing to possession of drugs, burglary to theft and mugging to theft from the person. Mr Reed said: 'We know there are people who are not being prosecuted when they could be. It leads to a lot of angst for the police. The criminal justice system is pulling in different directions. 'We see very few charges of ABH any more. They are prosecuted for common assault instead. It keeps the case away from Crown Court.'

The Federation says this makes the police's job harder, as criminals will be back on the streets sooner or are not jailed at all. The deterrent against reoffending is also reduced if criminals feel they have been treated leniently. Mr Reed added: 'The reoffending rates from criminals are 70 per cent, and that tells its own story. It is hugely frustrating for police officers.'

Police are keen to regain the right to charge suspects themselves but prosecutors are resisting. The Conservative police spokesman David Ruffley said: 'This is soft justice for criminals and an insult to victims. 'That's why the Conservatives will return discretion to charge more offences to police sergeants - without them having to refer it first to the CPS lawyers. This will also help cut paperwork and time spent waiting for a CPS lawyer to make a decision. It will mean more commonsense policing.'

Criminologist David Green, director of the Civitas thinktank, said there was a ' paradox' at the heart of Government policy. The police have recently been told the raft of Whitehall targets they previously faced would be scrapped for a single target of the public having increased confidence in them effectively dealing with crime in their local area. Dr Green said officers had been deprived of one of the main powers they need to provide this confidence - the right to decide on charges.

The number of criminals handed cautions by the police instead of being charged and put before the courts has risen significantly in recent years. In 2005 a total of 333,420 offenders were let off with a caution, while 423,000 were charged with a crime. By 2007 - the last year for which full figures are available - cautions had risen to 357,222 with 405,000 suspects charged.

However, a CPS spokesman said: 'The CPS is not undercharging defendants in order to reduce ineffective trials or as a cost-cutting measure. 'A recent joint independent CPS-police inspection of statutory charging confirmed that the standard of charging decisions by prosecutors was good. 'Since the CPS assumed responsibility for charging decisions in all but minor offences, Crown Court cases have increased year on year from 95,000 to 102,000 whilst the conviction rate has increased from 74 per cent to 80 per cent.'


Warmist "explorers" freezing to death in the Arctic

It's just a stunt that more realistic people will have to rescue them from -- at some danger to the rescuers

Three British explorers trying to ski to the North Pole to measure the thickness of sea ice only have one day's food left as bad weather hampers supply flights, the mission said Tuesday. Project director and ice team leader Pen Hadow and his colleagues Martin Hartley and Ann Daniels are now down to half rations and fighting to survive in brutal sub-zero weather conditions. "We're hungry, the cold is relentless, our sleeping bags are full of ice and, because we're not moving, the colder we get," Hadow said Tuesday in a statement from the London headquarters of the Catlin Arctic Survey. "Waiting is almost the worst part of an expedition as we?re in the lap of the weather gods. This is basic survival."

The expedition set off on a 85-day hike on February 28 when the three were dropped off by plane on an ice floe some 668 miles, from northern Canada. During the past 17 days temperatures have consistently dropped below minus 40 degrees Celsius, and have been accompanied by strong winds increasing the chill factor. Bad weather has forced three attempts to drop food supplies to the team on a landing strip close to their camp to turn back.



Today on spiked: Editor Brendan O'Neill reports from the premiere of "The Age of Stupid", a cretinous film that unwittingly exposes the elitism and dodgy science of the green lobby.

O'Neill writes: "The film is so cretinous it makes Michael Moore look like a modern-day Bergman; so scientifically vacuous it makes Lysenko look like Einstein; so achingly middle-class it makes The Good Life look like a kitchen-sink drama about miners' wives."

Read the review in full here

Green/Left car-hatred backfires in Britain

The contortionist's skill required to squeeze a car into a tiny modern garage and climb out of a barely opened door will become redundant under plans to allow more generous parking provision on new housing estates. A decade after the Government ordered developers to discourage car ownership by making it difficult to park, a local authority has produced new guidance that acknowledges that the policy has failed.

Far from reducing car usage, the policy has turned modern housing developments into obstacle courses for pedestrians and cyclists, who routinely find pavements and cycle paths occupied by cars with nowhere else to park. A study by Essex County Council found that 78 per cent of garages were not being used to store vehicles, largely because a trend towards larger cars and 4x4s meant that many did not fit comfortably inside the space.

Essex has become the first authority to challenge the Government's anti-car planning guidelines. It has issued draft guidelines that require larger garages and driveways, more parking spaces per dwelling, bigger on-street bays and at least 25 extra spaces for visitors for every 100 homes. The council has discussed its approach with several other authorities interested in relaxing limits on parking. The new parking standards will be treated as a minimum rather than, as at present, a maximum. Developers will be free, for the first time in a decade, to offer as many spaces as they believe their customers will want. Garages will have to be at least 7 metres by 3 metres (23ft by 10ft), as opposed to the existing guidance of 5 metres by 2.5 metres. Any garage smaller than the new dimensions will be treated as a storeroom and not counted towards the minimum number of parking spaces. Any home with two or more bedrooms will require at least two spaces.

The council found that planning guidance issued between 1998 and 2001 had created a severe shortage of spaces in many developments. Families had responded not by giving up their second car but by parking on narrow residential roads, blocking access for emergency services and refuse collection lorries. There are more than 1.5 cars per home in 35 per cent of council wards in Essex. Nationally, there are more homes with two or more cars than there are homes without a car. The proportion of car-less households fell from 45 per cent in 1976 to 24 per cent in 2006. Over the same period, the proportion of homes with two or more cars rose from 11 per cent to 32 per cent.

Norman Hume, the Conservative-controlled council's Cabinet member for transport, said: "This new parking guidance is a radical break from the past failed approach which has seen local communities blighted by parked cars. We are effectively asking people whether we should continue living in neighbourhoods that often have the appearance of disorganised car parks or if instead we should look much more closely at how we accommodate the car to allow a better quality of life for our residents."

The Campaign for Better Transport, which promotes alternatives to cars, said that Essex was undermining a decade of work to help people to become less car-dependent. Stephen Joseph, the campaign's director, said: "Essex will create a new generation of car-dominated estates, causing congestion and pollution. In the guise of offering freedom, people will be locked into car dependency. Homes will be too spread out to make good public transport feasible." Mr Joseph said that Essex should have adopted the approach in Cambridge and Kent Thameside, where clusters of new homes are being built close to dedicated bus lanes offering fast, regular services.

John Jowers, Cabinet member for planning in Essex, said: "Whether you like it or not, you have to live with the car. Rationing parking spaces doesn't stop people owning cars, it just means they park where it is most inconvenient for everyone else." He said that Essex was considering reducing the number of people commuting by car by imposing a charge on workplace parking spaces.


British grade-school chaos: Mother's fury after son is sent to different school despite 36 others being closer to home

A boy has been placed at a primary school an hour's drive from his home - even though 36 other schools are closer. Robbie Cowley missed out on his chosen school and then found that all the others near his home were oversubscribed too. From September, the four-year-old will have to make an eight-mile journey across Oxford every weekday morning.

His mother, Tracey Richen, said she was devastated at losing out on Larkrise school because both she and Robbie's elder sister had been pupils there. She had even paid 1,500 pounds for her son to attend a foundation class at the primary. The 32-year-old midwife said: 'Larkrise is a really special family school where we know all the teachers and staff. 'But sending him so far away is ridiculous as I'll lose my job if I'm late every morning going through the traffic.

'All the teachers at the school really like Robbie so they just can't understand the decision. Robbie's made loads of friends since doing a foundation unit there so it's unfair to make him move elsewhere.' Robbie has been given a place at Botley Primary, which has some of the worst results in Oxfordshire. The school is 3.7 miles from his Headington home as the crow flies but requires an eight-mile drive around the centre of Oxford.

The 36 oversubscribed schools are within 3.7 miles of the family home. Miss Richen might have got Robbie a place at one of them, but she was so sure Robbie would go to Larkrise, she left blank the second and third choices. She added: 'This is very disrupting for Robbie because he was all set to go to Larkrise. Now he faces having to go to a school which is alien to him. 'I really hate the idea of him going to a school where he won't know anyone and miles away from any of the other pupils.'

She and her partner Kevin Cowley, Robbie's 39-year-old father, plan to appeal against the decision but the process could take months. They will not find out the result until a few weeks before term starts. John Mitchell, a spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council, said: 'We have immense sympathy for any parents who find themselves in this position. 'But schools have a finite capacity and there will always be occasions that some schools will be oversubscribed.' Councils last week informed the parents of 92,000 children that they had missed out on their first choice of secondary school.


British Big Brother is watching: "The travel plans and personal details of every holidaymaker, business traveller and day-tripper who leaves Britain are to be tracked by the Government, the Daily Telegraph can disclose. Anyone departing the UK by land, sea or air will have their trip recorded and stored on a database for a decade. Passengers leaving every international sea port, station or airport will have to supply detailed personal information as well as their travel plans. So-called "booze crusiers" who cross the Channel for a couple of hours to stock up on wine, beer and cigarettes will be subject to the rules. In addition, weekend sailors and sea fishermen will be caught by the system if they plan to travel to another country - or face the possibility of criminal prosecution."

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