Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Another huge NHS disgrace

The bureaucratic British mind: A stroke victim died after an ambulance driver decided to stop work instead of taking the critically ill patient to the hospital

A stroke victim died after an ambulance driver who had finished his shift drove to his depot to clock off instead of going to hospital. The driver complained to a colleague that he had worked 15 minutes’ overtime already and wanted someone else to take over. The condition of the patient, Ali Asghar, 69, from Stockton on Tees, in Cleveland, deteriorated during the journey and he died of a suspected heart attack after arriving at North Tees Hospital.

The driver, a paramedic, and an advanced technician, who was in the back of the vehicle attending to Mr Asghar, have since been suspended as health chiefs investigate the incident.

Ambulance controllers received a 999 call at 3.52pm on May 18. The crew were alerted to a Category A life-threatening incident and arrived at Mr Asghar’s home, just three miles from the hospital, at 3.57pm.

After assessing his condition, they left for the hospital at 4.13pm. The journey should have taken around 10 minutes. Instead the driver went to his ambulance station, where he got out leaving the patient in the back with the technician until a new driver turned up. It is alleged that he failed to tell his replacement that there was a critically ill patient in the ambulance.

The vehicle finally arrived at the hospital at 4.27pm. Doctors administered Cardiopulmonary resuscitation straight away, but were unable to save him. The detour, which added half a mile to the journey, was reported by the new driver, who was just starting his shift.

A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service said: “This incident was immediately reported to us by another member of staff. As soon as we were notified, we acted to suspend a paramedic and an advanced technician from duty. “We appointed a senior officer to carry out a full investigation and have notified the North East Strategic Health Authority, Stockton-on-Tees Teaching Primary Care Trust and the Health Professions Council of our actions. “We have also been in touch with the family of the patient to give them our condolences. Patient care is our number one priority and we treat any action which falls short of the high standard expected of our staff extremely seriously. “Both the paramedic and advanced technician are now being dealt in line with the trust’s disciplinary process.”

Mr Asghar was a father of four. His youngest son, Mohammed, 33, said: “If you have a patient in an ambulance, you don’t worry about your bloody shift finishing. “The driver should not get away with it. The time he took to detour could have saved my father’s life.”


BBC's hatred of private medicine costs it big

BBC's £1m backdown in libel fight with IVF doctor. Taranissi was the most successful IVF practitioner in Britain but his clinics were private so the BBC tried its best to tear him down

The BBC is facing a legal bill of well over £1million after settling a libel battle with top IVF doctor Mohamed Taranissi. Mr Taranissi, who is said to have helped mothers give birth to 2,300 babies in seven years, had accused the Panorama programme of making defamatory allegations. Yesterday it emerged that the BBC has come to a settlement with the Egyptian-born doctor, with the corporation paying both sides' legal bills.

Legal experts said this could cost up to £6million, but the BBC said Mr Taranissi's costs were around £900,000. The Corporation's own costs have not been revealed but they are likely to be a sizeable six-figure sum. It was unclear if Mr Taranissi has received any damages. Last October the High Court ordered the BBC to pay him an estimated £500,000 costs after it 'threw in the towel' over one part of its defence. But BBC bosses decided to fight on in what became one of the most bruising legal battles in its history.

The decision to settle with Mr Taranissi comes just over a week after the broadcaster offered to pay £30,000 and apologise to the Muslim Council of Britain over claims that it encouraged the killing of British troops.

Mr Taranissi, who has been described as one of the country's richest doctors, launched his action after the Panorama broadcast in January 2007 suggested that one of his central London clinics, the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre, offered 'unnecessary and unproven' treatment to an undercover reporter posing as a patient. The show also alleged that a 26-year-old journalist was offered IVF treatment costing thousands of pounds despite neither she nor her partner having a history of fertility problems. One of the therapies involved a blood transfusion that an independent expert suggested could harm an unborn child.

The programme also claimed that Mr Taranissi was running a second clinic, the Reproductive Genetics Institute, without a licence and was sending his older and harder-to-treat patients there to maintain higher success rates at the ARGC. The IVF investigation was used to relaunch Panorama on a new Monday night slot on BBC1.

Mr Taranissi, who was represented by top libel lawyers Carter-Ruck, called the programme 'biased and irresponsible'. He said producers had information that showed 'a different side and a different argument', but chose not to use it. He has said Panorama sent at least two other undercover reporters to his clinics and they were given legitimate advice - but this was left out of the show. There have also been claims that the show's researchers used fake GP referral letters to target Mr Taranissi.

The programme generated 150 complaints to the BBC, a sizeable number of them said to have come from Mr Taranissi's former patients. His supporters claimed that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the fertility watchdog, had colluded with Panorama as part of a 'witch hunt' against the doctor. Leading fertility expert Lord Winston later wrote to Panorama accusing it of trial by television and letting the HFEA 'off the hook'.

Last night a BBC source said: 'Both parties have agreed to settle the case and consider the matter now closed.' But critics of the Corporation are astonished that it let the case run on so long, increasing the costs, and are angry that such an extraordinary amount of licence fee cash is being spent on legal costs rather than on TV shows at a time when money is short.


Elections to the European parliament

Conservatives racing ahead in EU parliament voting: "Conservatives raced toward victory in some of Europe's largest economies on Sunday as initial results and exit polls showed voters punishing left-leaning parties in European parliament elections in France, Germany and elsewhere. Some right-leaning parties said the results vindicated their reluctance to spend more on company bailouts and fiscal stimulus amid the global economic crisis. First projections by the European Union showed centre-right parties would have the most seats - between 263 and 273 - in the 736-member parliament. Centre-left parties were expected to get between 155 to 165 seats. Right-leaning governments were ahead of the opposition in Germany, France, Italy and Belgium, while conservative opposition parties were leading in Britain and Spain. Greece was a notable exception, where the governing conservatives were headed for defeat in the wake of corruption scandals and economic woes. Germany's Social Democrats headed to their worst showing in a nationwide election since World War II. Four months before Germany holds its own national election, the outcome boosted conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's hopes of ending the tense left-right "grand coalition" that has led the European Union's most populous nation since 2005. "We are the force that is acting level-headedly and correctly in this financial and economic crisis," said Volker Kauder, the leader of Merkel's party in the German parliament. France's Interior Ministry said partial results showed the governing conservatives in the lead, with the Socialists in a distant second and the Europe Ecologie environmentalist party a close third.

Anti-EU party wins big in EU elections!: "UKIP early this morning appeared to be the main beneficiary of another set of disastrous results for Labour in the European elections. A big protest vote against all the main political parties because of the MPs’ expenses row led to increases in the votes of all smaller parties, with UKIP making a breakthrough in several regions. The anti-EU party got its first seat in Wales, retained its seats in the Eastern region, the South East and Yorkshire and the Humber and increased its share of the vote. The party looked set to overtake Labour and come second behind the Tories, with the Lib Dems coming fourth. Initial predictions of the share of the vote across Britain suggested that the Tories would poll 27 per cent, roughly the same as in 2004, UKIP would come second with 17 per cent, one percentage point up from last time, with Labour a dismal third on 16 per cent, down 7 percentage points, its worst ever result. The Lib Dems were expected to get about 15 per cent of the vote, with the Greens and BNP getting 7 to 8 per cent each."

Bad news for the Warriors of Destiny: "Fianna Fáil, the most successful political party in Western Europe, was facing up to its worst electoral performance in its history last night with the likelihood that it would lose a European Parliament seat in Dublin. The party’s woes were compounded by disastrous results in local council elections and two Dublin by-elections. Another loser last night appeared to be Declan Ganley, founder and leader of Libertas, which brought the Lisbon Treaty ratification process to a standstill when it spearheaded the No vote in last year’s Irish referendum. Mr Ganley polled better than predicted, but his 16 per cent share in the Ireland North West constituency was not likely, after the first round of counting, to secure him its third seat. [Yes. Fianna Fáil really does mean "Warriors of Destiny". Irish political loyalties owe as much to history as anything else but in non-Irish terms they are a centrist party]

British anti-immigration party wins EP seats: "Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National Party, has won a seat in the European Parliament. Mr Griffin, standing in the Northwest of England region, was the second candidate of the anti-immigration party to be elected. Hours earlier, Andrew Brons won the party's first European seat in the nearby Yorkshire and the Humber region. Both seats were at the expense of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party, which suffered a devastating result across the country. Mr Griffin had earlier hailed Mr Brons' win - with almost 10 per cent of the vote - as "a huge breakthrough'' for his party, and used the victory to reiterate his party's anti-immigration and anti-Islam stance. He denied his party was racist, but said: "We do say this country is full up. The key thing is to shut the door.'' Mr Griffin told Sky News television: "This is a Christian country and Islam is not welcome, because Islam and Christianity, Islam and democracy, Islam and women's rights do not mix. "That's a simple fact that the elites of Europe are going to have to get their heads round and deal with over the next few years.''

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