Thursday, November 07, 2013
Today's episode of British multiculturalism
A senior doctor at a private hospital has been convicted of killing a patient. Surgeon David Sellu, 66, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of father of six James Hughes, following a trial at the Old Bailey.
Mr Hughes, 66, died at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow, north-west London, on February 14, 2010.
Sellu, of Hillingdon, west London, was found not guilty of perjury after he was accused of lying to the victim’s inquest under oath.
Dr David Sellu knew his patient had a perforated bowel, he failed to operate for 40 hours
Mr Hughes suffered an unexplained tear to his bowel after a routine knee operation at the privately-run Churchill Clementine Hospital in Harrow, northwest London.
Sellu ignored concerns that Mr Hughes was in excruciating pain and failed to operate for at least 24 hours.
Mr Hughes’ suffered blood poisoning as a result of the ‘exceptionally bad care’ and died of a heart attack on February 14, 2010.
Sellu was convicted after a month-long trial at the Old Bailey. Following the verdict, prosecutor Bobbie Cheema QC read an impact statement from Mr Hughes’ wife Ann about the effect on her family.
Mrs Hughes said: ‘Jim was much loved and cared for by his family. His extended family phoned and visited him while he was in hospital.
‘The pathetic reassurances that everything was in hand were categorically wrong and left Jim totally victim to an inhumane environment. ‘Jim would have been better cared for if he had collapsed in a back alley.’
Miss Cheema said: ‘They weren’t given the full information they should have been and didn’t realise quite how difficult the situation had become.
‘They feel they were denied the opportunity to help Jim in any way. Their trust in the authorities has been shaken.’
Mr Hughes, a retired builder from County Armagh, Northern Ireland, was admitted to the BMI Healthcare-run hospital for a simple procedure to replace the knee joint.
Miss Cheema said that Sellu should have prepared for the operation to repair the tear in the bowel as soon as possible.
‘Sellu took on the responsibility to care for Mr Hughes and the failure to arrange an operation as soon as possible was the first failing of that care,' she said.
‘The second is the failure by the defendant to ask for a CT scan urgently.
‘The third breach is the failure to prescribe antibiotics which every medical expert and the defendant now agrees were vital to fight the infection and should have been prescribed that night.
‘These areas demonstrate that the defendant was negligent - all the information was there for him to take the necessary steps.’
Although Sellu knew his patient had a perforated bowel, he failed to operate for 40 hours and did not go to see his patient.
‘The defendant failed to treat Mr Hughes’ condition even at that stage. He didn’t go in to see his patient’, Miss Cheema said. ‘He didn’t clear his list of non-urgent operations, nor did he arrange for another surgeon. ‘He didn’t ask the hospital to break into any other surgery list.
‘He did not ask the hospital to provide a suitable anaesthetist and he did not send Mr Hughes to another hospital by ambulance to be operated on urgently.’
By the time Mr Hughes was brought into theatre, he had been in pain for over 40 hours and was in a critical condition.
Mr Hughes even had to call a doctor friend from his hospital bed because he could not explain to the Hungarian doctor on duty the agony he was in. He died the following day.
‘Had Mr Sellu simply operated the night before, or even early during the day of the February 12, Mr Hughes would have had a very good chance of survival.
‘There was a series of missed opportunities and serious errors of judgment in his care of this patient and they combined to cause Mr Hughes’ premature death and the standard of care was exceptionally bad,’ Miss Cheema said.
Elizabeth Joslin, a specialist lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: 'James Joseph Hughes was in hospital for knee surgery when he, by chance, suffered a perforated bowel
'David Sellu's lack of care fell far below the expected standard, with terrible consequences.
'Prosecution of doctors for gross negligence manslaughter is rare and the threshold for criminal prosecution is high, but this doctor's actions were not mistakes or errors of judgment, but negligence so serious that he has now been convicted of a criminal offence.
'Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Hughes.'
During the inquest into Mr Hughes’ death Sellu was called to give evidence and written statements and lied about when he had first seen the results of the CT scan, which he had delayed.
When his evidence on that point was examined against electronic hospital records they showed that he had first looked at the records no earlier than 9pm, not lunchtime as he had said.
The inquest was adjourned without reaching any verdict.
Sellu insisted he was not told Mr Hughes’ condition had rapidly deteriorated overnight two days before he died, but ordered emergency surgery as soon as critical results of a CT scan had arrived.
He was a senior lecturer in surgery at Imperial College from 1993 to 2000 and is an associate professor at a Florida University. He denied manslaughter and perjury.
How a Nazi word ended my career before it began
By David Oldroyd-Bolt
I too know the word but did not remember it's use as a euphemism by the Nazis. I did however once have a book published with a large swastika on its cover. Being a clever clogs, however, I made sure it was an Indian swastika and not a Nazi one. Few people know the difference so when I got criticized I fired back at their cross-cultural ignorance. So it was my critics who ended up embarrassed, not I -- JR
How can one word ruin a career before it has even begun? Very easily, as I found out all too well aged 20.
I was then an undergraduate activist in Conservative Future (CF). Having plenty of the two essential traits for success in this – time and enthusiasm – in short order I became a Branch Chairman then the Area Chairman for West Yorkshire. Though the obligations could hardly be considered onerous, there were nevertheless certain things which had to be done as a matter of form. A short monthly internal report to the Regional Chairman and regional party directorate was perhaps the most important.
So it came to pass that one fine evening in January 2010 I sat down to write said report, just four months from the General Election. The pressure of campaigning, of canvassing, leafleting and persuading was intense. I needed to write something to motivate my fellow students, something that would give them the impetus to drag their weary bodies out of bed on cold, miserable Saturday mornings and walk the unforgiving lanes of West Yorkshire.
At which point I did something extremely stupid, something I will regret to the end of my days and of which I am deeply ashamed.
I deployed a German term I’d heard used in passing (and in the company of a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) by a man I respect and admire for his vast experience as a soldier, diplomat and Nato translator; a term I, as a relatively fluent German-speaker did not suspect to have any negative connotations; indeed, a term that is still in such common use throughout the entire German-speaking world that the Austrian Government of the day was using it as the name of an official investigation into fraud at Hypo Bank at that very time. But I deployed this term without doing the one thing everyone nowadays should do without thinking.
I didn’t Google it.
I had written, “in effect, we will form a CF Sonderkommando”. Anyone with basic German could tell you that Sonderkommando means, literally, special task force. However, it was also a term used by the Nazis to refer to groups of concentration camp prisoners, mostly Jewish, who were forced to aid in the disposal of gas chamber victims. Taking five seconds longer to write the report by doing a quick search would have told me as much, but through sheer intellectual arrogance I assumed that if the word had dreadful connotations I would have known about it. After all, GCSE history being almost entirely focused on the Nazis, I knew all about the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo), even the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and Sturmabteilung (SA). So why wouldn’t I know if this term was equally reprehensible?
Such crashing foolishness, such staggering hubris, was to be my downfall and my shame.
I stuck in a quote from Sun Tzu for good measure, submitted the report and thought I’d made rather a good fist of writing something that would energize my fellow CF activists. The Regional Chairman raised no complaints and the unedited report was included in the monthly email to activists.
Then a day later I received a call from a Party panjandrum informing me that someone thought there might be something a bit dodgy about the term, and could I please clarify my use of it. This I did, to their apparent satisfaction. Hours later I answered the phone to be screamed at by the then-Party Chairman’s Chief of Staff, accusing me of everything from latent Nazism to wilful sabotage. Having learnt the ghastly connotation of the word, I immediately apologised profusely and admitted a gross lapse in judgment. This done, it seemed that the matter would be left there – it was an internal party memo and no offence had been caused, so far as we knew, to anyone.
Of course, the memo was leaked to the press. I was summarily suspended from the Party for three months and thrown to the wolves. The Yorkshire Evening Post ran first then the Daily Mirror went in for the kill (“Fury over young Conservative’s sickening Nazi language”), both carrying a quote from Fabian Hamilton MP, who is Jewish. People I’d considered friends cut me off without so much as a by-your-leave, never seeking to discover whether I was in fact a raving Nazi or whether there might perhaps be something a little deeper to it. I was denied use of university facilities until I had explained to their satisfaction that I was not, in fact, a vicious Fascist.
The shame and embarrassment were total, not least for my father, a prominent local politician. He was forced to mount a defence of me, a task he pursued with unbending stoicism and unceasing vigour. My granny had the horrid experience of going to buy the paper and seeing her eldest grandson splashed across the front page next to that poisonous word, "Nazi". The Yorkshire Evening Post did later carry my apology and explanation of the original circumstances and a dear British-Israeli friend wrote in my defence to every single paper that smeared me, but by that time the damage was done. In the eyes of the world I was a Nazi and deserved every ounce of calumny and scorn heaped upon me. No amount of apology or explanation could make the slightest difference, no matter how sincere or oft-expressed.
So that was that. One idiotic moment of youthful conceit, of clever-cleverness, of my inability to be satisfied by simply writing a boring report and doing the job perfunctorily, and the career I’d imagined for myself went up in flames, an inextinguishable conflagration that scorched everything in my path and left an indelible stain on my public character.
What’s in a word? Most often it’s nothing at all, a remark dropped in passing like a spent match. But sometimes it’s absolutely everything and it’s for that one instance I will be ashamed until my dying day.
NSW bill is about marriage, just not equality
By Waleed Aly. Aly is a very bright boy so that helps explain why he often makes sense, despite being Left-leaning. He is pretty right below in his comments about the homosexual marriage debate in Australia
Amid all the pyrotechnics surrounding same-sex marriage this week, it's important to remember that this is overwhelmingly a symbolic debate. That doesn't mean it's unimportant. Symbolism matters to us in a visceral way, sometimes even more than substance. That is why flag-burning is such a provocative act. But it's important to know when something is symbolic so we can assess what has or hasn't been achieved.
It's true there are real, substantive issues of discrimination at play. Same-sex couples don't have the same rights and entitlements as married heterosexual ones do on a range of things: workers' compensation death benefits, pensions for the partners of Defence Force veterans, access to carer's leave for example. It's true same-sex marriage would quickly remedy this. But it's also true that you could remove that discrimination by amending the way those entitlements work without even thinking about same-sex marriage. And if you did that, marriage equality activists would still want to change the definition of marriage, and their opponents would still resist them. In fact, their opponents would probably be happy to give same-sex couples all those rights if they'd just leave marriage alone.
That's why the ACT government found itself in court this week, defending its marriage equality legislation from the federal government's legal attack, why a same-sex marriage bill was debated in NSW Parliament on Thursday (though Premier Barry O'Farrell has indicated he will not support a state same-sex marriage bill, only a federal one), and why the Tasmanian upper house ultimately decided not to proceed with similar legislation of its own. None of these laws, which could operate only at state and territory levels, remedy same-sex discrimination in a stroke. They are political acts designed to make symbolic, political statements.
This is clearest in the case of the ACT legislation which, one way or another, is doomed to failure. Even if it wins in the High Court, the federal government can - and almost certainly will - override the legislation because it has the power to do that to a territory. The ACT will have opened the way for states, but territorians must surely know that every marriage they contract under this legislation will one day be annulled. The ACT government surely knows this, too. It isn't looking for a substantive result; it's trying to apply pressure to the federal government.
But something strange has arisen this week in the attempt to do that. So strong is the sense that marriage equality's moment is approaching, and so frenzied is the race to get there, that marriage equality advocates have begun, in a remarkable way, to argue against their own position.
The ACT's present fight with the federal government comes down to whether or not the Federal Marriage Act is intended to be a comprehensive statement on the definition of marriage, which precludes the states having anything to say on the matter. If so, the laws are inconsistent and the federal law prevails. This is for the High Court to decide, and while the ACT certainly has a chance of winning, there's no doubt it's vulnerable. At least, that is the view of Bret Walker, SC, one of the country's best constitutional lawyers, who has been advising Australian Marriage Equality. But, he says, the NSW bill and its (now defunct) Tasmanian counterpart are on stronger ground.
The key difference is that those bills don't attempt to redefine marriage. In fact, they avoid legislating on marriage at all. Instead they create a new species of legal relationship that happens to be called "same-sex marriage". Since this is not the same thing as "marriage" in the meaning of federal law, it can't be treading on federal toes.
It's a neat legal technique. It's a strong legal argument. The only problem for marriage equality activists is that it completely undermines the cause. This is not simply a small matter of language. It's about changing the whole concept of the legislation.
The very purpose of marriage equality is to extend the definition of marriage so it is blind to gender. That's what the ACT bill is attempting to do. And that's exactly what you don't do by sidestepping this process and creating an entirely new social construct that just happens to have "marriage" in its name. A "same-sex marriage" is just a civil union by a more political name.
Really, you can call it what you like - a "consolation marriage" might be most honest - you've done nothing to change the legal definition of marriage. A legally rigorous man still couldn't turn to his boyfriend and ask: "Will you marry me?" It would have to be: "Will you same-sex marry me?" In that way, the NSW bill might offer same-sex marriage, but it's not offering marriage equality. It's a bit like republicans finally replacing the monarch with a system of hereditary, foreign-born presidents.
As symbolic achievements go, that would be relatively anaemic. But now you have marriage equality activists, who are typically uninspired by the prospect of civil unions, pleading with the ACT government to enact precisely that, and reacting angrily when it refuses to do so.
Take independent NSW MP Alex Greenwich's warning that "it is not going to be Tony Abbott, it is not going to be the High Court that will be blamed for the invalidation of these marriages, it will be the ACT government that will be blamed". Perhaps. But the ACT's response would surely be that at least they had marriages to annul.
Meanwhile, opponents of marriage equality, who frequently offer civil unions as some kind of compromise, seem not to have seen the opportunity. They're delighting in their victory in Tasmania, but the onward march of same-sex marriage - which transcends traditional partisan or conservative/progressive lines - suggests that victory can only be pyrrhic.
Perhaps their best strategy would be to limit same-sex marriage to consolation, state-level status, especially if their opponents seem happy with that. One look at the NSW and Tasmanian bills and they should be should be leaping on them, screaming: "Deal! Are we done now?"
Why the 'experts' are wrong about immigration
For years, the debate about immigration has been dominated by “experts”.
Complex and inaccessible data was used by remote academics. They crunched the numbers and were left to draw the conclusions. The rest of us had to take it on trust that the facts sustained what they told us.
Take the recent report by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (Cream). The data, declares their report, shows migrants are “less likely to receive benefits … than UK natives”. And they “made a considerable net positive contribution to the UK’s fiscal system”.
End of conversation. The people with the PhDs agree. It must be so.
But hang on. Does this report sustain these conclusions? Let’s use this internet thingy to deconstruct what the “experts” declare.
1. How does the report work out what migrants contribute?
Take one example, business rates. They generate something like £10 billion a year for the Exchequer – and as everyone ought to know, that £10 billion of tax revenue comes largely from big business.
But as Michael O’Connor points out, the report appears to credit this predominantly big business contribution to the Treasury as a fiscal contribution – worth what appears to amount to £2,500 each – from every self-employed individual in the country.
Of course, doing so massively distorts the fiscal balance sheet, since we know that EU migrants are far more likely to declare themselves as self-employed. (Indeed, if you come from Romania or Bulgaria, you often have to call yourself self-employed to be allowed in). But it is not self-employed people who are paying the lion's share of this £10 billion!
2. What about the contribution of migrants in terms of company and capital taxes, which represent about 9 per cent of the UK tax base?
To work out what share comes from migrants, the report allocates a share to migrants on the “implicit assumption that company ownership (i.e. share ownership) is similarly distributed between the native and immigrant population”.
Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is not. But to me that sounds like guessing.
3. The Cream report uses Labour Force Survey data. That means the information folk give about what they are claiming. It is not cross checked with what they might actually be claiming.
While Labour Force Survey data suggests migrants are less likely to claim out of work benefits, HMRC data shows they are significantly more likely to claim working tax and child tax credit.
4. The Cream paper seems to conflate benefits and tax credit – and assumes everyone gets the same amount. If, for example, a Brit get £20 a week child benefit, and a migrant gets £80 a week tax credit, the report treats them as together getting £100, which it nets out as £50 each.
Why does this matter?
5. We know that different migrant groups have very different claiming patterns. Michael O’Connor highlights work by Drinkwater and Robinson in 2013.
Migrants from Poland, Estonia, Latvia or Hungary, for example, are less likely to claim (relatively low) unemployment benefits – but significantly more likely to claim (relatively high) tax credits or housing benefit.
In other words, this is not simply methodological nit picking. It could undermine the claim that European Economic Area migrants contribute 34 percent more in taxes than they receive in benefits.
Not for the first time, I suspect a report written by “experts” tell us more about what “experts” think than it does about the way things actually are.
No doubt I will get the usual stream of angry tweets from angry Lefties, demanding that I defer to the “experts” and the academics. But I have read what they wrote, and indeed read some of what they themselves read. Which is precisely why I do not defer to them. Thanks to the internet, we do not need "experts" to tell us what to think anymore.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.