NEWS

2012-04-27

Food Fight

Chaos erupted at an indoor market when angry women brawled in a 20-minute 'food fight' which saw tins of beans hurled through the air. 

Three women were arrested after police were called to the market where food and bottles of bleach were thrown during the violent bust-up. 

The trio 'went wild' in the isles and flung baked beans across Birmingham Indoor Market during the punch-up - leaving one of them needing hospital treatment.

The feisty ladies had to be separated three times by gobsmacked stall holders after the scrap unfolded at midday on Wednesday. 

It is believed the punch-up started when two of the women bumped into a lone shopper. 

Almost half an hour later it ended when one of them was hit on the head by a tin of baked beans. 

Police officers were flagged down in the street to deal with the fracas and one of the women was arrested on suspicion of assault.

Another ran off before officers arrived and a third was taken to hospital after she suffered cuts from the can of beans.

A market trader, who did not want to be named, said: “The management tried to say it lasted for just four minutes - but it went on in different parts of the market.

“In the end somebody had to flag down police officers because there was no sign of security and the security phone number was disconnected.

“I have no idea what the fight was about.  

“The women were in their 30s and they were throwing all sorts at each other from the market stalls, including bottles of bleach and tins of food.

“One was taken away by ambulance crews with a bandaged head and another was taken away by police. "

Customer Jez Gartland, 19, from the city, who was at the market at the time, said: "It was chaos - it was the biggest food fight I've ever seen. 

"There were bottles and tins flying through the air and I could hear a lot of commotion.

"I'm not sure how it started - but I think one of them bumped into the other and words were said. 

"I know how it ended though - with a tin can bouncing off a woman's head.  

"I wouldn't have wanted to argue with them - they were really going for it."

West Midlands Police said a 34-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of assault and later bailed. 

A 38-year-old woman, who had a purse stolen from her bag, was taken to hospital with cuts to her head.

A spokesman confirmed officers were searching for a third woman who fled before officers arrived.

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said police were on the scene within ten minutes and that traders had called a wrong number.

Anyone who saw the incident should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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2012-04-26

96p compensation

A helpless pensioner who had to crawl to her garden and shout for help because her phone line wasn't working following a fall has spoken of her disgust after she was offered just 96p compensation from BT. 

Stricken Hetty Stokes badly fell on two occasions and had to desperately shout to neighbours because there was a fault with her telephone line.

And after spending three weeks in hospital with a fractured hip, the 88-year-old was stunned to be told by BT they would pay out a mere 96p following her ordeal. 

The phone giants claim the amount covered the "loss of service" over the two days in line with the company's policy of having three working days to first repair a fault.

But furious Hetty today/yesterday (Wed) branded the offer of compensation an 'insult'. 

She said: "It is disgusting to be offered this amount. 

"I was frightened when I couldn't call for help, and if it hadn't been for my neighbours, I may well not be here today.

"I have lost my confidence and it will take a long time to build it back up."

The retired pottery worker first complained about the problem on March 9. 

She fell the following night after tripping over a curtain as she tried to lock her back door - luckily managing to raise the alarm by crawling into her back garden to bang on a neighbour's fence.

Hetty, who lives alone in her bungalow in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., spent the night in the accident unit and returned home on March 11.

But two days later she was back in hospital after fracturing her hip and having to shout for help again.

The fault was finally fixed a week later on March 16.

Daughter Jean Cartlidge, 61, who is a retired social services employee, said: "What my mother has been through is an absolute disgrace.

"We rang BT on numerous occasions to tell them that the phone was off and that it left an elderly woman isolated in her house. How she survived this I don't know.

"It was very cold on the night that she was found on her hands and knees, and BT is lucky I am not planning a funeral.

"Since she came out of hospital she is not the same and is very afraid to be on her own in the house."

As a 'goodwill gesture', BT have offered two months' free line rental worth #21.50 but the the family say they have lodged a formal complaint.

A BT spokesman said: "We would like to apologise to Mrs Stokes for the fault on her line and are sorry we have been unable to come to an agreement on compensation.

"Mrs Stokes clearly suffered a very upsetting fall and we are very sorry that this stressful time was further exacerbated by being unable to use her care alarm.

"The fault was fixed as quickly as possible. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee a fault-free service on any phone line, and this account was not registered with us as a care line, and therefore we had not recommended Mrs Stokes to join our priority service.

"We have since added this service to her account."

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2012-04-25

Castle of Death

One of Britain's most historic tourist attractions has been fined #350,000 following the death of a pensioner who plunged from a castle bridge into a moat.

George Townley was on a day out at Warwick Castle with his partner and her family when he stumbled over a low parapet wall as he was leaving the famous attraction. 

The 72-year-old grandfather dropped 14ft into the dry moat at the castle and died from his injuries in hospital the next day.

A court heard this week how the castle, built by William the Conqueror in 1068 ,did not take 'sufficient measures' to protect visitors crossing the bridge and failed to carry out an appropriate risk assessment.

Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd, who run the castle, was found guilty of two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act in relation to the retired mechanic's death in December 2007. 

At Warwick Crown Court on Tuesday the company were ordered to pay #350,000 in fines by Judge Nigel Godsmark QC.

He said: "This matter arose from the tragic death of George Townley. 

"The death was tragic and unfortunate and he seems to have tripped unluckily.

"On my part I believe the risk of the bridge was not mainly to adult pedestrians but to children.

"Many people have crossed the bridge over the years and some were of the ilk of the health and safety experts from whom most of their evidence has been given in hindsight but Merlin had failed in its duty."

Barry Berlin, prosecuting, said: "It is crystal clear that there was a material risk here and at a result of that people were put at risk.

"On anyone's account the bridge should have been risk assessed because it was a major artery to the castle.

"Warning signs could have been put up and a barrier could have been put up.

"That's not just what we suggest, that is clear from the December 10 risk assessment that was carried out the day after the accident.

"Sadly this was too late."

Keith Morton QC, defending, said Merlin, who took charge of Warwick Castle in 1978, accepted the parapet wall was low but pointed out there had been about 20 million visitors who had crossed the bridge since the company had been involved with the castle.

He said: "There was an insignificant risk of one in four million of any type of accident happening on the bridge and a one in 40 million risk of serious injury or death, you can't get much more insignificant than that other than, I suppose, one in 80 million.

"It's hard to see how there was a significant risk."

Merlin was found guilty of failing to take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent or protect visitors when entering or leaving the castle via the bridge from falling from a considerable height.

It was also found guilty of failing in its duty to provide preventative and protective measures.

As well as a #350,000 fine, the company was also ordered to pay costs of #145,000 to Warwick District Council.

Castle staff put temporary barriers on both sides of the bridge on the day after the accident, which are still in place.

The company intends to put up permanent barriers, subject to planning permission. 

As well as Warwick Castle, Merlin also run famous British tourist attractions like Alton Towers, the London Eye, Madame Tussauds and Thorpe Park.

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2012-04-24

Brain dead doc's

A teenager who was declared brain dead by FOUR doctors made a ‘miracle’ recovery after his parents begged medics for a second opinion – moments before his life support machine was about to be switched OFF.

Steven Thorpe was 17 years old when he suffered horrific injuries after a multiple car crash which left another man dead.  

He was placed in a chemically-induced coma and doctors said he would never recover and even asked his devastated parents to consider donating his organs.

But Steven’s father begged doctors to reconsider and even enlisted private GP Julia Piper to examine him again after being convinced that their son could recover.

Doctors at University Hospital in Coventry, West Mids., agreed to let a neurologist re-examine him and astonishingly, he detected faint brain waves indicating Steven had a slim chance of making a recovery. 

NHS chiefs agreed to bring Steven out of his coma to see if he could survive on his own and he stunned medics by making an almost full recovery.

Incredibly, just five weeks later Steven was discharged from hospital.

Speaking about his amazing recovery for the first time, Steven, now aged 21 and a trainee accountant, said: "My father believed I was still there.

“He expressed his views to Julia Piper and I think she listened very closely to what my dad had said.

"My impression is maybe the hospital weren't very happy that my father wanted a second opinion.

"I think the doctors wanted to give me three days on the life support machine and the following day they said they wanted to turn it off.

"The words they used to my parents were 'you need to start thinking about organ donations'.

"I think that's what gave my dad energy, he thought 'no way'.

“I think if my dad would've agreed with them then it would've been off in seconds. 

"If my parents hadn't asked for the second opinion, and if Julia hadn't been there, I wouldn't be here today."

Steven, from Kenilworth, Warks., was been travelling home from nearby Leamington Spa in February 2008 when the vehicle he was in was involved in a collision with two other cars and a horse that had run loose.

The horrific crash left one man dead and the horse was also fatally injured.

Steven was rushed to hospital and surgeons performed a craniotomy to help alleviate any swelling on his brain.

But despite the operation being successful, brain scans failed to detect and electrical pulses and he was declared brain dead.

Steven added: "As far as I am concerned, living is a full recovery. From how I was to how I am now, I think it's a miracle. 

"I drive to work every day, I don't think anything is holding me back. There's no point dwelling on it, I just pull my socks up and get on with it.

"Hopefully it can help people see that you should never give up. I've had so much positive feedback about it.

"If you believe it then follow it, that's the moral. My father believed I was alive and he was correct.

"It's hard for me to even ask my parents about what happened.

“They do cooperate with me because they want me to understand it all but they don't want to be reminded about it."

Dr Piper, who runs a private practice in Leicester, said: "They had doctors saying he wasn't going to live but the parents felt there was flickers of response and it wasn't just wishful thinking.

"I had this strong feeling that this wasn't right and then eventually I got someone else to look at him and of course it proved to have been the right thing to have done. 

"It's an inspirational story about never giving up.

“He's a remarkable young man and his recovery has been astonishing."

Since leaving hospital four years ago, Steven has had four operations to reconstruct his mangled face - including having his nose rebuilt and an artificial eye socket made.

He also has physiotherapy session to improve the movement in his left arm - which was badly injured in the road smash.

In a statement, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said: "The injury to Steven's brain was extremely critical and several CT scans of the head showed almost irreversible damage.

"It is extremely rare that a patient with having suffered such extensive trauma to the brain should survive.

"However, critical care and other specialist teams continued to support his systems through his critical period and we were delighted to see Steve recover and make progress against all the odds.

"He is truly a unique case."

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2012-04-23

NHS obese child?

A mother has spoken of her anger after her fighting fit four-year-old daughter was branded obese by NHS bosses - despite weighing just 3st 7lb. 

Furious mum-of- four Natasha Gray blasted health officials after she received a letter labelling her active and healthy daughter Lacie May as "clinically obese." 

The youngster - who loves nothing more than playing on her trampoline and swimming - was warned in the letter of the long term 'serious implications' of her weight - including cancer and heart disease.

But fuming Natasha, 34, is adamant there is nothing wrong with her daughter's weight and that at 3ft 6ins tall and weighing 3st 7lbs - she is just a normal child. 

And the married full-time mum believes that raising such issues with impressionable children could lead to eating disorders in later life. 

She said: “It is absolutely ridiculous. She is one of the smallest in her reception class and there is no way she is overweight, let alone very overweight.

"Children aren't stupid and listen to conversations - it could give her self-confidence issues and she could grow up to be anorexic.

“The letter is very over-the-top - it suggested I contact my local GP practice for advice, and when I rang them they basically laughed and said there was nothing the matter with Lacie-May."

Natasha, received the letter after an NHS nursing team carried out a routine height and weight measurement check at Marshland St James Primary School, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. 

She and her classmates had their height and weight measured by NHS staff to calculate their body mass index as part of a scheme  aimed at cracking down on childhood obesity.

She registered a BMI ‘centile’ of 98. Between 91 and 97 is classed as overweight, and 98 and above is clinically obese.

The letter offers the opportunity for Natasha to enrol on the MEND programme (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It) to learn how to make her family eat more healthily and be more active.

But Natasha, from Wisbech, is happy that Lacie-May and her other three children: Brandon, 16, Charlotte, 11, and Kelsey, 9, are already eat a healthy diet and are very active.

She added: “She is not a big eater, she doesn’t just sit and eat crisps all day. She has three meals and an occasional snack. 

"The school knows its children and their families, surely it would be better for them to say something if they think there is an issue like being overweight than to have strangers making judgements based on a set of guidelines.

“I contacted the NHS Trust to tell her how ridiculous and upsetting the letter was and her response was to offer to send someone out to speak to me about a healthier lifestyle."

Anna Morgan, Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust  Director of Operations, said: “The Child Measurement Programme letters, which are based on a nationally developed template, give parents an indication of their child’s height, weight and BMI measurements.

“This is to help ensure parents are aware of whether their child’s BMI is within the ‘healthy’ range or not. 

"By providing parents with this information, which gives an accurate snap-shot in time, we aim to help parents to make informed decisions about their family’s lifestyle.

“We’re not suggesting that children don’t change size and shape as they grow, but these measurements can help parents to understand whether their child is likely to be a healthy weight for their height, age and gender.

“A key part of the letters is the information which signposts parents to local services, which offer opportunities and advice about choosing healthier lifestyles.

“Not all families will feel they need this, but it is important that families are able to access this advice, should they want to.”

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2012-04-17

Con Air

The parents of a severely disabled girl have blasted a “heartless” airline after they charged them £660 – to supply the tot with life-saving OXYGEN during the flight.

Tragic three-year-old Jolina Skye Barton suffers from Ohtahara Syndrome – an incredibly rare form of epilepsy which can spark dozens of seizures a day. 

The condition – which effects just 200 children in the world - has left the toddler unable to walk, talk or feed herself. 

Her desperate parents, Shane Barton, 23, and Jennifer Stermann, 26, raised #15,000 to send her to the Caribbean to undergo radical ‘Dolphin Therapy’ which has been proven to reduce the symptoms of the condition.

They spent six months raising funds for the trip but one week before they were due to fly out Dutch airline KLM slapped them with an extra 800Euros (£660) surcharge to supply Jolina with oxygen she needs to survive the 11-hour flight.

Shockingly, the firm told the couple they had to fork out for the oxygen because it was “company policy” to charge disabled passengers if they required additional services.

Former nurse Jennifer, from Kingstanding, Birmingham, said: "We booked it in January and we told them that we need oxygen on board for Jolina to survive the flight. 

“No one said anything about any extra charges for the oxygen and we assumed that because she was so young and disabled that it would be provided free.

“I rang them last Friday just to confirm the details of the flight and was told we still had 800Euros outstanding for the oxygen. 

“I was gobsmacked and couldn’t believe the airline could be so heartless 

"They told us that KLM will charge us 200Euros (#165) to provide the oxygen for each flight for something that's necessary for Jolina to live.

“When we told them our little girl was disabled and would die without the oxygen we were told it was ‘company policy’ to charge for extra services.

“I was gobsmacked when they told us, I just couldn't say anything.

"It's unbelievable, we've just paid £3,500 for the flights and I think this is absolutely out of order by them to charge a disabled child so much for something that is necessary.

“We are not going to the Caribbean for a holiday, it’s scientific treatment for Jolina which could change her life. 

"They say we have got to pay it or we are not allowed to fly.

“I wouldn't let her go on the flight without oxygen because she would go blue and could die in the pressurised environment.

"I feel like I don't want to pay it because it's so harsh - but we really have no choice.

"We are trying to save up because we have to pay this out of our own money.

"All the other money has gone on the flights and hotel and food and the treatment for Jolina."

The tragic tot was left permanently brain damaged after she was starved of oxygen when she was born four weeks early in a German hospital in February 2009.

Doctors warned Jennifer and Shane she was unlikely to see her first birthday and would need to take 18 drugs every day to control her seizures.

Brave Jolina defied the medics to make it to three and her parents hope the dolphin therapy could dramatically improve her life.

Jennifer, who is 20 weeks pregnant with the couple’s second child, added: “It's not guaranteed that it will help, there's just a chance. 

“The doctors don't know how but they've taken blood samples from other children before and after the therapy and it changed their endorphin levels. 

"It made them develop better and for some of the children, their muscles got stronger. 

“They can't prove how it works but maybe it's because dolphins are very calm and human-like in how they interact with the children. 

"We have been told that Jolina won't walk but we are really hoping that there is a chance the dolphin therapy would help. 

"It has helped other children have less seizures. We're not getting our hopes up or expecting miracles but we are hoping it might help a little bit. 

"I really wish she could just say 'mummy'. She's constantly like a newborn baby, only she sleeps less.

"She is on loads of medications, she has 18 different types in fluids a day.”

The couple are due to fly from Birmingham to the Caribbean island of Curacao on Friday but the trip will be scrapped unless they find the extra #660 for Jolina’s oxygen.

Shane, a former male dancer, said: "I think it's ridiculous that KLM won't help us out.

“We are desperately hoping the airline reconsiders or someone loans us the extra money because we have no other funds available. 

“The chances are at the moment we will have to cancel the trip and lose the money but we are hoping and praying for some kind of miracle.

"It's not as if we are going on a holiday for the sake of it, we have worked hard to raise thousands of pounds to try and improve Jolina's life.”

Nobody was available from KLM yesterday. 

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2012-04-16

Hero's sue hospital

HEROIC British soldiers wounded in the line of duty are suing a specialist military medical unit for negligence.

Thirteen brave serviceman injured fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq have launched compensation claims against the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in the last three years.

The specialist site cares for heroes airlifted home from the frontlines after they have sustained injuries.

And the unit, based at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, has won numerous awards for the work that is carried out there.

But it has been revealed that the group of soldiers is claiming they received below-par treatment and in some cases were misdiagnosed.

Legal experts said there was a gap between the world-class care frontline soldiers receive on the battlefield and the aftercare they get.

Clinical negligence specialist Philippa Tuckman, from Bolt Burdon Kemp solicitors, deals with clients who have been let down by the military after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

She said: “I think as far as Birmingham is concerned, there is a gap between the emergency care and what comes next.“ 

“The acute care is usually very good.

“The battlefield and emergency treatment is an example to others which has been picked up around the world.

“What they are not so good at is the general practice and the day to day less dramatic care, which is just as important.

“Often you have newly qualified military GPs who are not experienced at dealing with the full range of cases they are presented with, unlike an experienced GP.

“I have clients who say to me, `I assumed as a serviceman I would get the best care possible' and they are surprised when they don't.“

As well as physical injuries that have been misdiagnosed or mistreated, Ms Tuckman believes that the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is still causing huge problems.

“The biggest area relating to active service is psychiatric harm,“ she said. “Part of the deal for servicemen is going to warzones like Afghanistan, seeing horrors and having terrible experiences.

“In some ways PTSD is to be expected, but there are regulations which are supposed to look after you and make sure you aren't sent back while you are still vulnerable. We've got a number of cases where that simply hasn't happened.

“It can lead to depression and drinking. It really can snowball and become very serious if people are subjected to tour after tour of duty when suffering psychiatric problems.

“A better system is needed for dealing with the problem, particularly for helping those with PTSD who are medically discharged.“

Both the hospital and the Ministry of Defence declined to comment on individual cases.

But a ministry spokeswoman pointed out that a fund which could total hundreds of thousands of pounds over the lifetime of a serviceman was available for anyone injured on duty.

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