Tuesday, 29 April 2008


AN angry mum has blasted medics, claiming they almost failed to spot a brain tumour which could have killed her son.

Sue Curtis aims to launch legal action against South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust over the alleged blunder.Her 16-year-old son Grant is now recovering after a life-saving operation. Mrs Curtis, 37, of Harton Lane, South Shields, said it was her motherly instinct which made her press doctors for a scan. The former Brinkburn School pupil, who has just had his GCSE results, has a history of intense headaches.

Regular visits to his GP failed to show any signs of a tumour, but his mum – housebound for more than 15 years due to agoraphobia – wouldn't give up her fight.

She said: "We took Grant to hospital three years ago because he kept having these nasty headaches.

"They gave him a few blood tests, and I told them he should be scanned, but we were told he didn't need one.

"When he kept having painful headaches, I got on to my GP and demanded they do a scan, but they thought I was just an over-anxious mother.

"My GP eventually agreed to send him for one, saying they were 99 per cent sure there was nothing wrong." When they said they'd found a tumour, I screamed at them down the phone. "Grant was rushed into Newcastle General Hospital on June 29, and surgeons carried out the four-hour operation the following day. "We were told if it had been three days later, he could have died," she said."

Thankfully, they didn't think the tumour was cancerous, but he has to go back to hospital every two months." Grant was due to start a painting and decorating course at South Tyneside College next month, but has had to defer it for a year to recuperate." He can't do anything too strenuous for around three months," said his mum." I always knew something was wrong. I'm just glad I didn't give up." David Shilton, executive director for nursing and clinical governance at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Mrs Curtis has not formally notified us of her concerns, but if she does we will undertake a thorough investigation and provide a full response."

Helen Routledge, from Newcastle-based law firm Samuel Phillips, said: "Mrs Curtis has instructed the firm to pursue a potential claim for compensation on behalf of her son Grant against South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust regarding medical treatment they provided."


Many thanks to Venus (Sue from The 3 Arguido's forum) for allowing me to publish her story.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

NHS ruling 'denies drugs to many'

Nearly 100,000 patients with Alzheimer's a year will be refused drugs that could delay the onset of the disease, the Court of Appeal has heard.

The manufacturer of one drug - Aricept - has been fighting a decision to restrict access to patients in the later stages of the disease.

NHS drugs advisers said the therapy along with others in its class are not cost effective for early Alzheimer's.

The decision was upheld by the High Court earlier last year.

Drugs company Eisai brought the case to the High Court with support from fellow drugs firms Pfizer and Shire, which manufactures other drugs affected by the NHS ruling, and the Alzheimer's Society.


The legal debate is about whether the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) followed a fair and transparent process in reaching the decision.

David Pannick QC, representing pharmaceutical company Eisai, told a panel of three appeal judges that the latest guidance ruling by NICE will have "a very substantial effect upon the availability and the potential duration of treatment" with the drugs.

He said: "The evidence suggest that, when the guidance takes full effect annually 96,600 patients with mild Alzheimer's disease will be refused treatment."

NICE guidance in 2001 recommended the drugs - which can make it easier to carry out everyday tasks - should be used as standard.

But advice published in November 2006, stated that the drugs should only be prescribed to people with moderate-stage disease.

NICE said the drugs, which cost about £2.50 a day, did not make enough of a difference to recommend them for all patients and were not good value for money.

The appeal hearing is expected to be completed by the end of Tuesday, although a judgment will be reserved until next month.

Casualties of a changing NHS

A recent national survey found that many NHS staff are unhappy in their jobs, suffering from a combination of feeling undervalued, unsafe and underpaid. Some, particularly workers with many years service, have seen huge changes in the way the organisation operates and complain their experience and dedication is overlooked in the new, target-driven environment