Friday, June 05, 2009

South Wales NHS chiefs told to apologise in person for fatal blunder

The heads of an NHS trust were told to apologise in person to the parents of a cancer patient who bled to death after a breathing tube was inserted incorrectly in his neck. The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Peter Tyndall, criticised the Cwm Taf NHS Trust severely, saying that the actions of its staff “directly resulted” in the premature death of Myron Hall, a 47-year-old electrician. Mr Hall’s parents called for the police to investigate whether the trust, in South Wales, or any individuals should face criminal charges.

Mr Hall was referred to the former North Glamorgan NHS Trust in September 2006 by his GP because of a suspicious lump in his neck. It took three months to diagnose a malignant tumour and doctors decided the best way to treat him was to remove half his tongue. A tracheostomy tube was put in his windpipe to help him to breathe, but surgeons stopped the operation when they found that the tumour had spread too far.

Mr Hall later began bleeding from a replacement tube that was inserted in the wrong place while he waited to be transferred to a specialist cancer centre for chemotherapy. The wound was stitched when it was noticed the tube was not in the right place, but four days after returning to the ward Mr Hall suffered a “catastrophic bleed” caused by the tube wearing through the wall of an artery. He died despite the efforts of staff at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, in Llantrisant, to resuscitate him.

His parents, Denzil and Janet Tilley, of Porthcawl, arrived at the hospital seconds before he died. In the report, Mr Tilley compares the scene at his son’s bed to a “horror movie”.

The report says the initial investigation of Mr Hall’s tumour was “slow and inadequate” and the nursing he received in relation to his tracheostomy “fell below a standard one could reasonably expect”. Although he was admitted to hospital with a very serious and potentially life-threatening condition, Mr Tyndall says he has “no doubt whatsoever that the actions of the Trust directly resulted in Mr H’s premature death”. “Not only was Mr H’s death avoidable, it occurred as a direct result of the action (or inaction) of Trust staff and should not have happened,” the report adds.

Mr Tyndall said: “Whilst no amount of apologising can compensate a parent for the loss of a son in such horrendous circumstances, I have nevertheless recommended that both the chair and the chief executive of Cwm Taf Trust should provide Mr H’s parents with an unequivocal apology for the failings that occurred during the care of their son.” Cwm Taf Trust, which took over from North Glamorgan and the former Pontypridd and Rhondda Trust, told the Ombudsman it could not meet his request for an apology in person but would write to Mr Hall’s parents — a stance he calls “unreasonable”.

Mr and Mrs Tilley’s solicitor, Astrid Coates, said: “Failures by the trust led to the death of Mr Hall and his family want to know that this will not happen to someone else’s son. “We will be calling upon the coroner to ascertain exactly what action has been taken by the Trust to prevent similar fatalities and to withhold this information when it may assist Mr and Mrs Tilley in dealing with their grief is inexplicable.”


Why are women so horrible to each other?

Some time back in the '70s I read a newspaper article that was extraordinarily scathing in its comments about Margaret Thatcher. It was so extraordinarily negative -- criticizing her for everything from her shoes to her hair -- that I remarked about it to my wife at the time. She said: "I'll bet it was written by another woman". I looked at the byline and she was right. So it seems to me that female solidarity has always been just another feminist myth. The article below certainly confirms that impression. The author below does not provide an answer to the question in her title but I very wickedly suspect that it is in the nature of women -- perhaps to do with competition for the most desirable men

What's happened to female solidarity? Today, every newspaper, magazine and website is full of women criticising other women for their weight, their shoes, their handbags, their wrinkles - or lack of them. Anna Wintour, the editor of American Vogue revealed recently that she told Oprah Winfrey to lose weight before appearing on the cover of her magazine because she would feel 'more comfortable'. Amazingly, Oprah, who is one of the richest women in America and is on the cover of her own magazine 'O' every month, apparently went along with this and lost the weight.

As Oprah's struggle with her weight has been going on most of her life, it shows that Anna Wintour must really be as scary as the character she inspired, played by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

But the area where women really line up against each other is motherhood and childcare. Anyone who has ever logged on to, or sites of that kind, will know how furious its participants become with anyone who dares question their views on breastfeeding, bonding, controlled crying, co-sleeping and the like.

I wrote an article recently for this newspaper where I suggested that while breastfeeding was the best way of feeding your baby in the early weeks, it was not always easy and sometimes the best thing to do was give the baby a bottle. I said no one should be made to feel guilty for doing so. Within minutes I became public enemy number one on Mumsnet, the subject of some pretty colourful cyber abuse by mothers who are clearly adept at fulfiling their children's every need while sat at a computer keyboard.

Of course, anyone who writes for a national newspaper can expect to be disagreed with. What I find depressing is the lack of tolerance that the people on these websites show to any women who don't do things their way. It's hard enough being a mother of small children without other women criticising your every move. Surely if you choose to give your child a dummy, introduce solid foods before six months or give it a bottle in the middle of the night, that is nobody's business but your own?

With a few horrible exceptions, all mothers want the best for their children. What gives the fundamentalists of Mumsnet the right to criticise other mothers, simply because they have chosen to do things differently? There is no one right way to bring up your children, only guidelines, and the best person to make choices for a child is the person closest to it - its mother.

Perhaps one of the reasons why women are so critical of each other is that we have already won so many battles. A hundred years ago, women could not vote and could not even sue for divorce on the grounds of adultery alone, unless their husband had also shown unusual cruelty, or had engaged in an unnatural act such as bestiality. Only 50 years ago it was standard practice for women to have to choose between a career and motherhood. Even 30 years ago your chances of having a healthy baby were a great deal less than they are now. And just ten years ago, the idea of men doing their share of the housework was a pipe dream, now it is fast becoming a reality.

Despite all of the whingeing they do, today's young women really do have a better chance of achieving their dreams than any generation before them. So why do we spend our time attacking other women for their cellulite, their hairstyles, childcare arrangements or recycling habits? Is there any more terrifying feeling than walking into a room full of strange women and knowing that each one will be assessing you, not on your lifetime achievements but on your shoes?

Now that WAGs [wives and girlfriends of prominent sportsmen] are wearing Seventies maxi-dresses and platforms again, perhaps it's time that we revived female solidarity, too. Who cares if Demi Moore has cellulite or that Posh's shoes are too high or that Madonna doesn't look like your average 50-year-old? Are we really so envious of successful women that we have to snipe about every aspect of their appearance? It's time we all grew up, and if that means a bit of old-fashioned consciousness-raising, then bring it on.


Feminist delusions

One of these days, women really ought to make up their minds about what it is exactly they want. Then they could do us all a big favour by stating, unequivocally, what they have decided it is they want. And then they could cover themselves with glory by sticking to what they say. In other words, it's about time women - especially their self-appointed mouthpieces - started behaving like fully grown-up adults and citizens. Or is that asking too much? Apparently, it is.

A survey published this week tells us that women today are far from happy with their lot and wish they could live more like their mothers and grandmothers - not having to work so much and free to spend more time with their children. The survey, The Paradox Of Declining Female Happiness, reports that women of all ages and income are less happy than women of 40 years ago and less happy than today's men.

Despite sexual and marital liberation, massively increased career opportunities and earning power, educational privileges and the wholesale demolition of the inhibiting conventions that restricted the lives of women in the past, today's women report themselves as feeling a low sense 'of life satisfaction and well-being'.

Well, men might be entitled to retort, welcome to the real world, sweethearts. What you are complaining about is the very same life that you promoted and celebrated when you were swanking around chanting 'sisters are doing it for themselves'. One woman commentator perfectly expressed the problem illustrated by this report, explaining: 'It's almost as if, in some ways, we got it all and then found out it wasn't quite exactly what we wanted.'

This is exactly what I have been predicting - against a torrent of vilification and derision from feminists - for more than 20 years. My book, No More Sex War: The Failures Of Feminism, was not only the first radical, egalitarian, progressive critique of the ideology of feminism (the last and most durable of the 20th century's false secular faiths, like the Marxism from which it drew its cardinal tenets).

The book also analysed in detail the intolerable consequences that were bound to result for women if they were expected both to contribute substantial earnings to family life and, at the same time, be solely or even chiefly responsible for child-care. It has been obvious to me for some 25 years that social and political equality for women (which I wholeheartedly and unreservedly welcome) could not work unless men became equal as parents at home.

The selfish, conceited, man-despising yet predatory 'have-it-all' feminism of the Cosmopolitans was always a recipe for insupportable burdens for women, for intolerable stress, for a self-rebuking, guilt-laden failure to cope and, in the end, for being downright miserable about it all. The fact is, lady, if you do succeed in having it all, the effort and the burden will probably break your back.

Before we sympathise with this sad plight, however, perhaps we should remind ourselves of the multitude of unprecedented benefits, blessings and advantages that have been showered upon the modern women who are now whingeing about the poverty of their 'life satisfaction'.

They have become the most privileged, the most cosseted and indulged women in the history of humanity. They are the first to live their whole lives without threat of war or plague. They are the first women ever born who could control and regulate their fertility with complete reliability, and they are the first to have the means and the right to choose an abortion if they slipped up or changed their minds about being pregnant. They are the first to be free of any constraints in dress or manners, and the first for whom no limit exists to the heights to which they can aspire in any pursuit - be it politics, public service, commerce, the professions, the arts and sport.

You would never think it if you listened to feminists, but the truth is that every one of those benefits has been advanced and secured for women by men.

Motivated by conscience and a desire for justice and equality, it was primarily men who revolutionised the position of women. I can see your jaw dropping at this peculiar idea, but if you don't believe it, ask yourself these questions: how many women MPs were sitting on the benches of the House Of Commons when, by a majority of two-to-one, Parliament passed the Bill in 1918 which extended the franchise to women? Answer: not one. Who was responsible for the Abortion Act of 1967 and the Divorce Reform Act of 1969? Men. Who brought into law the Equal Opportunities Act and the Sex Discrimination Act? Men.

Yet women of our time have lived all their lives with an unquestioning belief that they are members of an oppressed class of victims who have had to struggle heroically for liberation against a society cruelly organised by men for the benefit of men ('Women are the n*****s of the world,' as that irredeemable twit Yoko One once declared).

This is the unpardonable fault of feminism. Of all the disservices to our age fostered by that pernicious and poisonous ideology, none has been more ruinous than this preposterous lie - that men keep women down in order to preserve their own powers. The manifest truth of the past 200 years is that men wanted change for women as much as they wanted it for themselves.

It is because we all go along with that feminist fiction that we cannot even begin to recognise the inequalities and the disadvantages of men in family life. It simply doesn't register on our barometer of injustice that unmarried men still have no automatic rights in law as parents. Similarly, because we suppose that all gender injustice and inequality is to be found in the position of women, we don't take any notice of the inequalities of men in divorce.

In survey after survey, men report that they resent the demands of work and that they wish they could have more time with their growing children. Yet the law continues to discriminate against fathers in the provision of time away from work to care for children.

We don't even count it as an intolerable injustice and inequality that men are still required to work five years longer than women before they become eligible for a state pension (it is entirely typical of feminists' capacity to pervert the truth that Germaine Greer once described that inequality as an advantage for men).

Men don't go on about it, but the truth is that things aren't entirely wonderful for us, either. The difference is that we don't suppose we've got a God-given right to blame women for it.


An aspirin a day 'can do more harm than good'

Healthy adults who take daily aspirin to prevent heart attacks could be doing more harm than good, warn researchers. A major study shows that although regular use can cut the rate of non-fatal heart attacks, it can also increase the risk of internal bleeding by a third. The findings cast doubt over proposals for ‘blanket prescription’ of the Polypill, a multi-drug tablet including apsirin which is being developed to combat heart problems.

A report last year suggested most healthy men over 48 and women over 57 would benefit from having aspirin prescribed. The Polypill would be a cheap and simple way of doing this.

The new study in The Lancet medical journal found that healthy people who take aspirin reduced their already small risk of heart attack or stroke by 12 per cent, while the small risk of internal bleeding increased by a third. This means there were five fewer non-fatal heart attacks for every 10,000 people treated, but this was offset by a comparable increase in bleeding - one extra stroke and three cases of stomach bleeding per 10,000 people treated.

In the secondary prevention studies - where patients were taking aspirin to prevent a repeat attack - aspirin reduced the chances of serious vascular events by about one-fifth and this benefit clearly outweighed the small risk of bleeding. In both sets of trials the reductions in risk were similar for men and women.

The study, funded by the UK Medical Research Council, was headed by Professor Colin Baigent of the Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit at Oxford University. Prof Baigent said 'The latest research does not seem to justify general guidelines advocating the routine use of aspirin in all healthy individuals. 'Drug safety really matters when making recommendations for tens of millions of healthy people. 'We don't have good evidence that, for healthy people, the benefits of long-term aspirin exceed the risks by an appropriate margin.'

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said the polypill was still being tested, but it was vital to consider the potential problem of side effects in healthy people and 'proceed with caution'.

Ellen Mason, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said 'This study on the use of aspirin in primary prevention, partly funded by the BHF, provides further confirmation that in those without existing heart disease there is limited benefit from taking aspirin due to the risk of bleeding. 'For this reason it is better for doctors to weigh up the benefit and risk of prescribing aspirin on an individual basis, rather than develop a blanket guideline suggesting everyone at risk of heart disease is routinely given aspirin. This ensures patient safety.'


Reading environmental propaganda to kids...

Comment from a British mother

Oh dear. Both my children have been fans of the Topsy and Tim books - as I was many years before (and yes, Miss Terry is still teaching them, and they are still at school with Andy Anderson and Josie Miller). When we were lucky enough to recently win a book token in a raffle, I said they could both choose a book of their choice. My son chose a brand new Topsy and Tim called Topsy and Tim Go Green. As I said, oh dear.....

"Miss Terry says the world is all messed up with rubbish and fumes and stuff," Tim tells Mummy at the opening of the book, and she suggests recycling as a solution. So far, so-so. But it's the rest of the book which made me groan. Perhaps it's the bit when Dad chooses organic carrots, telling Tim "no nasty chemicals on these" or when Tim points out how cars make the air "all smelly and yucky." Dad of course suggests biking to work from now on. It's strange how he didn't realise the benefits until Tim told him so.

I usually enjoy reading books to my son, but I found this one hard work. To me it was was pure children's propaganda, and while I'm all for recycling and doing our bit, I'm not convinced that children (and their parents) should be so blatantly preached at through the books they read. And this Topsy and Tim book, although one of the worst offenders, is nowhere near the only one.

Publishers have clearly realised that "green" books work. We also have "Peppa Pig Recycling Fun" on our bookshelf, and Dr Seuss's The Lorax (written way back in 1971, and which is in a different class). On a larger level, Simon and Schuster have set up their own Little Green Books imprint. Their aim is to "teach kids to be eco-friendly".

As I said, it's not that I don't want to save the world (would anyone admit that they want to destroy it?). I just don't like being patronised by children's books. I don't mind them having messages, although subtle is better. It was the blatant nature of the Topsy and Tim books which got me (and funnily enough, especially the organic carrots, as many families can't afford to go organic and I found this particularly unhelpful).

I'm convinced there are ways to pop messages into books, even for young children, in a more subtle way. Look at the themes of "being different is okay" in Kevin Henkes Chrysanthemum or to "be happy with what you've got" in A Squash and a Squeeze. Or how about "not to run away from your parents just because you think you're big enough" (!) in Little Rabbit Lost (one of my favourites).

And you know what? I don't think children like to be preached to either. My son hasn't asked for his new Topsy and Tim to be read to him again (now that is a waste of paper) because the story isn't good and nothing really happens. To be honest, he also knows all about recycling - we have a box, he learns about it at nursery etc - so there was nothing new there either. If you're going to write a book with a message, I'd suggest making it clear, but not forgetting about the characters and the story.

Even books which do have an obvious message or point to make can be okay. I was recently sent two stories of Monkey Lou, a new kind of "green" superhero (you can see him above). Although they are picture books, these are probably for slightly older readers, as they are quite wordy, and I have to admit that I first opened them with dread. Well, I was expecting a lot more propaganda.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. The stories do, obviously have an environmental theme, but they aren't too "in your face". They build up the characters first, add in some tension and impart information at the same time - pretty impressive. Even the list of "interesting facts" at the end are, well, interesting. And my son has requested them numerous times already.

So, while I'm not saying these books are perfect, they have realised that it is the story which engages a child - not just issues to beat their parents with! Topsy and Tim, take note.


Half of England's comprehensives (mainstream government schools) did not offer physics, chemistry and biology High School courses last year

The figures - requested by the Tories - show that in two areas not a single pupil studied the separate sciences. The government has said that every pupil doing adequately in science by the age of 14 should be able to pursue the three subjects. In the new curriculum, most schools do a core science GCSE with "additional science" for those who are interested. These have supplanted the double science course that most pupils followed from the early 1990s.

Separate or "triple" science GCSEs in physics, chemistry and biological sciences are the norm in grammar schools and independent schools.

The figures show that, on average, 46% of comprehensives entered at least one pupil for separate sciences. But no pupils at all in two local authority areas - Islington and Slough - were entered for separate sciences last year, although Islington says two of its eight schools do now offer them. Just under a quarter of exam entrants (23.4%) did only core science in comprehensive schools, while 57.2% took core plus additional science.

Shadow schools minister Nick Gibb said: "It is truly shocking that there are whole areas of England where not a single child has the opportunity to sit separate science GCSEs. "Without a good understanding of physics, chemistry or biology at the age of 16, it is almost impossible for pupils to get top marks in these subjects at A-level and progress to a science degree at a top university."

Schools Minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry said: "The number of pupils taking triple science has increased significantly since 2007 and we are investing £6m over the next three years to double this number." But she added: "It is misleading to suggest that pupils who don't take triple science are not receiving a strong grounding in physics, chemistry and biology. "Through core and additional science, pupils will receive a good foundation in all three sciences which will set them up for further study at A-level."

The Association of School and College leaders said the figures were misleading because they related to students who began their GCSEs in 2006. "The entitlement to triple sciences took effect in 2008 so students starting triple sciences under the entitlement will not appear in the GCSE results until 2010," said policy director Malcolm Trobe. "Other schools may be offering three separate sciences but no student is choosing to take all three."

The pupil entitlement to be taught triple science is not however matched by an obligation on schools to teach the three subjects.


Tacking non-science on to the end of good science

Below are the last 3 paragraphs of a perfectly good BBC scientific report on the topography of part of the Antarctic continent.

"There's been a lot of climate change over the last 14 million years," Dr Siegert said. "And what we can say about this place in the middle of the Antarctic is that nothing has changed."

But, he warned, if levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide continued to rise, in around 1,000 years they will approach the same levels that existed "before there was persistent ice sheet in Antarctica".

"This puts the ice sheet into the context of global climate and what conditions are needed to grow an ice sheet," explained Dr Siegert. "The worrying thing is that we seem to be going back to carbon dioxide concentrations consistent with there being a lot less ice around."


The author must have known that he was speaking nonsense but no doubt felt obliged to toe the official line or lose his funding. He simply assumes a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, quite ignoring at least two facts: 1) CO2 levels have been rising sharply in the last 10 years when temperatures have in fact been trending downwards; 2). On some occasions in the geological past, CO2 levels have been 10 times higher than now, and those times were ICE ages! It is sad to see scientists compelled into dishonesty by politics. We condemn how that happened under socialists like Stalin and Hitler but it happens under modern-day Leftist pressure too. We are not far off a Fascist State -- JR

Whining Britons

Coming from the homeland of political correectness, this is not a big surprise:
"British YouTube users are amongst the most sensitive in the world, executives at the site have claimed.

Amid demands for an independent regulator to police its content they said Britons are amongst the most likely to object to footage hosted on the site.

The company has reacted by introducing special “Britain-only” policies following a raft of complaints from users over gang-related videos.

Victoria Grand, head of policy at YouTube, told The Times: “The UK is a big flagging country. We get a lot of videos flagged up in the UK because of issues that British people are concerned about which maybe aren’t an issue in the US, such as the brandishing of guns.”


It must make them warm inside to know that people in other countries can see what they cannot.

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