Friday, 19 June 2009

Baby P's doctor, Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, to sue for £100,000

By Daily Mail Reporter

The doctor who was sacked from Great Ormond Street after she failed to spot Baby P's broken back is demanding compensation from the hospital.

Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, a paediatric consultant who was the first person sacked in the wake of the scandal, has launched legal action against the hospital following her dismissal nine months after Baby Peter's death.

The 17-month-old could be alive today but Dr Al-Zayyat decided against conducting a full medical examination two days before he died in August 2007 because he was 'miserable and cranky'.

A source close to the case told the London Evening Standard that Dr Al-Zayyat, who lives in Ilford, had launched legal action for unfair dismissal.

The claim could be worth a six-figure sum, the minimum which would be £100,000.
The action will spark anger that a doctor roundly blamed for her part in Baby P's death should seek compensation.

It is understood Dr Al-Zayyat, who trained in Pakistan and Ireland, will argue she has been made a scapegoat for wider failures.

She was employed on a rolling six-month contract by Great Ormond Street on a salary of more than £75,000.

Dr Al-Zayyat is expected to claim she was never shown the child's full medical history and so didn't realise he was the long-term victim of abuse.

An official report recently criticised the hospital for failing to employ enough consultants to run the clinic. Dr Al-Zayyat's case may focus on a shortage of doctors which put her under huge pressure.

She is represented by lawyers working for the Medical Protection Society, the body which provides professional indemnity for doctors.

A Great Ormond Street spokesman said: 'We can confirm we have received notice of legal action. The trust will vigorously defend its position.

'We believe we acted fairly and in the interests of patients. Detailed rebuttal of Dr Al-Zayyat's claims will have to wait for any hearing.'

The spokesman added: 'We didn't scapegoat her. The case surrounds her dismissal from GOSH following the decision not to renew her fixed-term contract. The trust denies that the issue in the case is systematic failures.

'Even a junior doctor should have recognised the risks in a situation where there was a letter on file clearly stating that there were child protection concerns, and the child had visible bruises.

'This should have prompted any doctor to contact the social worker. It is also basic training to strip a child in order to carry out a full investigation.

'Two serious case reviews have questioned her practice.'

A source told the Evening Standard: 'Dr Al-Zayyat is claiming Great Ormond Street unfairly ended the contract and she is entitled to damages because of that.'

Baby P's body was found in a blood-spattered cot at his Tottenham home.

His mother was later jailed for a minimum five years for allowing or causing the death; her boyfriend received 12 years for his 'major role' while their lodger, Jason Owen, was sentenced to a minimum three years.
Source: Daily Mail
BABY Peter Forum

Monday, 8 June 2009

Stroke patient dies after ambulance driver clocks off

A stroke patient has died after an ambulance driver allegedly refused to work beyond his shift and clocked off part-way through a 999 journey.

By Nigel Bunyan
Published: 4:57PM BST 07 Jun 2009

The driver was 15 minutes over time when he diverted to his depot instead of carrying on direct to the hospital.

The patient deteriorated during the drive and died of a suspected heart attack soon after arriving at North Tees hospital's accident and emergency unit.

Both the driver and the medic travelling with him have now been suspended as officials at the North East Ambulance Services investigate the delay on May 18.

His replacement took the patient on to hospital, but the detour had added half a mile and four minutes to the journey.

The patient was named as 69-year-old Ali Asghar, a father of four, from Stockton on Tees, Cleveland.

Mr Asghar's youngest son, Mohammed, 33, said he was not aware of the delay in the ambulance arriving at hospital but told the Daily Mail: "If that has happened it shouldn't have.

"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. He should have to pay for it. He is responsible for the death.

"The time he took to detour could have saved my father's life."

An NHS source said that if the case against the driver was proven his actions had been "absolutely abhorrent".

"Paramedics pride themselves on the public being able to feel they are in the best hands when they are called out to an emergency.

"If this person wanted a nine to five job he should not have become a paramedic."

The source added: "A couple of miniutes in a life or death situation is a very long time. Skimming off just a few seconds from an emergency call-out can save lives - that's why amublances are fitted with blue lights and sirens."

A spokesman for North East Ambulance Service said: "This incident was immediately reported to us by another member of staff and, 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 of the incident 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 and to keep them updated on developments.

"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."

Source: Telegraph
See all stories on this topic here

Sunday, 7 June 2009

NHS pays for cosmetic surgery for 'road rage' killer Tracie Andrews

EXCLUSIVE by Justin Penrose, Crime Correspondent 6/06/2009

Jailed murderer's chin job costs the taxpayer £5,000

Road rage killer Tracie Andrews was let out of jail for four days – for thousands of pounds worth of cosmetic surgery.

Andrews, 40, tasted freedom when she had an operation to realign her protruding jaw and improve her looks.

News of the surgery and hospital stay has infuriated her victim’s family. The treatment would have cost the NHS about £5,000.

The killer – jailed for life for stabbing fiancĂ© Lee Harvey to death then claiming he was killed by a road rage attacker – was taken by taxi to Royal Surrey Hospital in Guildford on Tuesday.

Two days later she was spotted outside in a wheelchair. As our exclusive photos show, her once-blonde hair is now red and she has piled on the pounds.

She was with a prison officer but he used a mobile phone and walked 100 yards away from Andrews – who was not handcuffed – leaving her for about six minutes.

Andrews had the three-hour op to break and reset her lower jaw on Wednesday.

Next day she was wheeled to a surgeon at the unit who examined her for 20 minutes. She was then taken in to the car park while the prison warder answered his phone. She was staying in a private room at the hospital under the name Stacey Carter.

Andrews, who now calls herself Tia Carter and could be eligible for release in 2011, repeatedly stabbed 25-year-old Lee to death in his car in December 1996. They had stopped after an argument on the way to their flat in Worcester.

After his death she concocted a story that he had been murdered by a road rage maniac. Her moving appeal at a Press conference triggered a massive manhunt.

But it soon became obvious there was no “staring-eyed fat man” – it was Andrews who cut her fiancĂ©’s throat and stabbed him 37 times.

She used a penknife believed to have been in the glove compartment of Mr Harvey’s car.

She was sentenced to a minimum of 14 years but has already started the process of being moved to an open prison.

The Sunday Mirror revealed last month that she has won a parole hearing that could downgrade her security status.

Lee Harvey’s mum Maureen said last night: “I am outraged that cosmetic surgery has been arranged for her.

“She might be able to change her looks to disguise herself but she will never be able to change the way she is inside. She is evil.”

A prison source said: “Questions have been asked as to why she has been allowed to have so much taxpayers’ cash to make her look better.

“She may be nearing release but that does not mean she should be allowed cosmetic surgery on the NHS.”
Full article here

Patients with suspected cancer forced to wait so NHS targets can be hit

Patients rushed to hospital with suspected cancer are having their treatment delayed so that managers can meet Government targets, an NHS investigation has found.

By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent
Published: 8:45AM BST 07 Jun 2009

People arriving at Accident and Emergency departments with symptoms which could indicate the aggressive spread of the disease are waiting weeks for diagnosis and treatment while “routine” cases are prioritised.

Hospital managers told researchers that treating desperately sick patients more quickly would “reflect badly” on their performance against Government cancer targets which only cover those referred to specialists by GPs.

Doctors, patients groups and politicians were appalled by what one described as a “breathtaking admission” which confirmed their “very worst fears” about how far the NHS target culture has gone in distorting clinical priorities.

Although most people with suspected cancer are referred to hospitals by their GPs, more than 30,000 people diagnosed with the disease each year are first alerted to tumours by violent symptoms, such as seizures, vomiting and jaundice, which cause such alarm that patients go straight to their local A&E departments.

The report by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, an official health service agency which issues advice to hospital managers, says that many of these emergency patients waited six weeks or longer for basic tests.

It said they were “often” not given the same priority as patients who had been referred by GPs, who were covered by two targets, ensuring that they see a specialist within two weeks, and start treatment, following diagnostic tests, within two months.

“As a result, they can end up with a very poor experience before finally receiving a diagnosis and the right care,” it warns.

The report, due to be published tomorrow added: “Many trusts recognised the need to get some patients in this group onto the same pathway as people on the cancer two week wait [target] but were concerned this would reflect badly on their cancer figures”.

Some A&E departments failed to recognise the risk of cancer in seriously ill patients. In cases where the disease was suspected, patients were sent home to wait six weeks or longer for diagnostic tests. Others waited weeks on wards before seeing a specialist or having scans, the report, which is endorsed by the Government’s cancer tsar, found.

Nigel Beasley, the NHS Institute’s lead for cancer, and head and neck surgeon from Nottingham University Hospitals said: “Targets are very effective, but they do have side-effects. The risk is that these patients are not being prioritised because of the focus on the two-week target for patients referred by GPs.”

He said anxious patients admitted as an emergency were often trapped in hospital for weeks waiting for scans, and to see a specialist, and should learn from good hospitals, who carried out investigations quickly, often using outpatients appointments.

Mr Beasley said: “Patients can be stuck in hospital for a long time, waiting for scans, and other diagnostic tests. Once they are in hospital, they can end up waiting two, three, or even four weeks before there is a diagnosis and any decision to treat.”

The admission about the effect Government targets were having on emergency cancer patients horrified clinicians and patients groups.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley described it as “one of the clearest examples yet of how Labour’s tick-box targets are failing NHS patients”.

He said decisions about which patients should be seen first must be taken by doctors, based on the patient’s clinical needs, not by managers following Government diktats.

Katherine Murphy, from the Patients Association, said the report provided “breathtaking” evidence of a confidence trick being played on the public, repeatedly told that waiting times for patients with suspected cancer are falling, while desperate cases were forced to the back of the queue.

She said: “This confirms our very worst fears, and exposes the scandal of what pernicious targets are doing to patients. We have seen other targets being used in ways that damage patient care, but of everything we have seen, this really is the cruellest of the cruel”.

Leading cancer specialist Prof Karol Sikora said: “I think it is absolutely horrifying that hospital managers are playing around with targets that can delay treatment for people who may well be at an advanced stage of the disease.”

“I know of many cases where people who have been admitted to NHS hospitals as an emergency have languished for weeks before even seeing an oncologist,” added Prof Sikora, Medical Director of independent company CancerPartnersUK.

The British Medical Association said many trusts were bullying doctors into delaying urgent referrals.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee, said: “A number of our members have already expressed fears about the two-week cancer target, because it means all the cases referred by GPs are given the same priority, regardless of whether they are expected to be benign or high risk. When this same target is delaying patients who have been admitted as an emergency that is an even greater cause for concern”.

Several oncologists said they supported two-week waiting time targets for cancer patients referred by GPs, but called for the target to be widened to include all patients.

Ian Beaumont, from charity Bowel Cancer UK said it “beggared belief” that anyone would value statistics over efforts to save lives.

Dr Jane Maher, chief medial officer at Macmillan Cancer Relief described the revelation in the report as worrying, but said the biggest obstacle to getting the right care for patients admitted to hospitals as an emergency was getting the right diagnosis, as cases were often complex, meaning cancer could be mistaken for other conditions.

Among those who have experienced the problem is Melissa Matthews was 28 when she went to the Accident and Emergency department of her local hospital.

For several days, she had been suffering abdominal pain which had left her feeling so uncomfortable that she was unable to eat. She told her family doctor, who advised her not to worry, unless she began vomiting, in which case she should go immediately to A&E.

When she began being sick, her partner took her to the casualty unit of Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. The couple mentioned concerns about bowel cancer, having recently watched a programme about its symptoms, but the doctor reassured her: “You are far too young to have bowel cancer; when the blood tests come back they will show that”.

The tests did not indicate a problem; Miss Matthews was sent home to Norwich and told she was probably suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

But the pain and vomiting continued. A week later, when she was unable to even swallow water, she returned to A&E, and was admitted to a ward for five days, but sent home once more.

One week later, after she collapsed in agony at home, she was admitted to hospital again. This time, X-rays revealed a blockage. During an eight-hour operation, surgeons found a tumour so large they were forced to remove her womb and 36 inches of her bowel.

The blood tests which Miss Matthews had undergone in A&E, she later found out, were not a clear indicator of bowel cancer, or its absence after all.

Six months of chemotherapy followed Miss Matthews’ operation, after which she was given the all-clear. However, since then the cancer has returned. On Tuesday, Miss Matthews, now 30, will undergo a second operation to remove a tumour.

The mother of two girls, aged 11 and 13, says her focus now is on survival.

“I don’t feel angry about this any more, my concern is about what happens next, but I did feel very frustrated, and frightened. I thought going to A&E was the safest place to be, but I was just fobbed off”.

A hospital spokesman said patients were encouraged to complain if they were not satisfied with their care, and added that bowel cancer was rare in patients of Miss Matthews’ age.

More than 4,900 people have backed The Sunday Telegraph’s Heal Our Hospitals campaign, which is calling for a review of hospital targets to make sure they work to improve quality of care.
Source: Telegraph

Friday, 5 June 2009


By Joanna Codd

He worked hard for most of his life and spent six years fighting for his country in World War Two. Only now, aged 96, has Charles Coutts asked for anything in return.

The Burma campaign veteran needs a life-saving heart operation, and although doctors in London say he is a perfect candidate for a new procedure to replace a faulty valve, NHS Bournemouth and Poole has refused to foot the £30,000 bill.

“I’m not a moaner or whiner or a grabber. I’ve always been active, I’ve never had a major illness or operation, and I’m in generally good health apart from this valve,” said Mr Coutts, of Queens Park, Bournemouth.

“For the last six months I’ve been existing on tenterhooks thinking I’m going to have the operation, then being told I’m not because they’re not paying the money.

“I have deteriorated. I have no strength. I have to struggle to get off the chair and I have falls. It’s depressing not to be able to do anything unless somebody helps you. I don’t want to continue my life like this.”

Widower Mr Coutts was diagnosed as having a narrowing of his aortic valve after suffering an angina attack in Spain last year. When he returned home, he was referred to St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

After several days of scans and tests, he was assessed as ideal for transcatheter aortic valve implantation. The procedure involves inserting a replacement valve through a tube instead of undergoing open heart surgery.

Mr Coutts’ son Douglas pointed out that the procedure had been successfully carried out on people of 99 and 100. “It’s not a question of age. If my father lived in London or Kent, there’s a blanket go-ahead.”

And friend Jane Arnold said: “It’s a death sentence if he doesn’t have this done.”

Mr Coutts was born in the slums of the East End of London, the tenth surviving child in his family. After joining the Hampshire Regiment, he was commissioned into the Somerset Light Infantry, rising to the rank of Major. He spent most of his working life in the drapery trade, ending up as a director of the House of Fraser. He still lives independently.

A spokesperson for NHS Bournemouth and Poole said: “This is a highly specialised, complex and evolving procedure that is not currently routinely available in Bournemouth and Poole and is only considered for those too ill or frail to undergo open heart surgery.

“National guidance makes clear that although there is some evidence of short-term efficacy, there is little evidence about long-term outcomes.

“There is the potential for serious complications, which include the need for emergency cardiac surgery.

“Individuals may request specific funding through demonstrating to the primary care trust that they have good clinical reasons for being treated as an exceptional case. The PCT has not supported any such applications.”


NHS trusts have a legal obligation to provide treatments that have been approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

But the one recommended for Mr Coutts is classed as an “interventional procedure”.

NICE makes no ruling on whether or not these should be funded.

This is an apparent loophole in attempts to end the so-called “postcode lottery” of access to new drugs or treatment varying according to where you live. A Department of Health spokesperson explained: “In the absence of NICE guidance, primary care trusts have to make decisions locally on the basis of the available evidence. The fact that there is no NICE guidance is not an excuse to refuse funding for a drug or treatment.

“For the first time, the NHS Constitution gives patients an explicit right to expect, where NICE guidance is not available, local decisions on the funding of treatments for individual patients to be made rationally, following a proper consideration of the evidence.

“If the local PCT decides not to fund, then it should explain that decision. To underpin this right, we have issued directions that require NHS organisations to put in place clear and transparent arrangements for local decision-making on exceptional funding requests. The directions came into force on April 1.”

Source: Daily Echo
Articles here about the NHS £1.8bn cash surplus