Category Archives: Fear

A sad day for palliative care

Three weeks ago I wrote about my dismay at the Daily Mail’s attack on the Liverpool Care Pathway. This week Baroness Neuberger’s team has published its report: “More Care, Less Pathway.” Amongst its recommendations is this:

The name ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ should be abandoned, and within the area of end of life care, the term
‘pathway’ should be avoided. An ‘end of life care plan’ should be sufficient for both professionals and lay
people.
Unsurprisingly the Mail is gloating over its victory:
  • Ministers order Liverpool Care Pathway to be ditched within a year,
  • Review by Baroness Neuberger reveals how end-of-life treatment was used as an excuse for appalling levels of care
  • Families were not told their loved ones were on the ‘pathway’ to death

The Mail has been leading a campaign against it…

I stand by every word I wrote three weeks ago. I am quite disappointed by how much the report has pandered to the Mail. If you read the comments sections of my last post, you will see many of the commentators are strongly opposed to the LCP. Whilst I think many of the comments are misguided, and just plain wrong I have not moderated any of them. (Unlike the Mail website which always blocks all of my comments posted as ‘alienfromzog’). I want to take this opportunity to respond to the comments, to the report and to the Mail. My main frustration is that when you read what people think caring for the dying should involve, it’s often words like “Caring,” “TLC” or “Individual” are used. Similarly many relatives say they want good communication. What is so frustrating is that this is precisely what the LCP is. What it’s for. If you don’t believe me , read this: Marie Curie Example LCP documentation.
It took years to recover from the damage done to the vaccine program by the Mail’s irresponsible reporting – and we’re still not there yet. This is why the Mail is so malevolent. And yes, I do blame the Mail in part for the children who have died of measles. Years of hardwork, research, evidence and education – all undone by Melanie Phillips and her malicious publication. And who suffers? The most vulnerable in society. There have been various articles and blogs written to defend the LCP. In all of them that I’ve read, they begin with an acknowledgement that the LCP used inappropriately has led to many of the problems reported in the press. I have not done that and this is deliberate. I am not pretending that bad practice does not occur. It does – in all areas of healthcare and all healthcare systems. I will always condemn bad practice but the idea that not using the LCP pathway properly means there’s a problem with the LCP is ridiculous. Moreover, by beginning with such acknowledgements I believe that all these articles and also the Neurberger report has conceded too much ground – allowing the LCP critics to claim victory.
Perfectly preventable problems of communication between clinicians, relatives and carers
appear to account for a substantial part of the recent controversy and unhappiness
surrounding the LCP.
I care about quality of care. Abolishing the LCP will make the Daily Mail happy. It will make the government look like they’re doing something and will almost certainly lead to less-good care. Almost without exception, the critics have said “Care of the dying should be….” and what follows that, as I said above, is in the LCP. So, in order to improve care we plan to abolish a tool that works when used properly rather than addressing the issues that lead to it not being used properly. This is insane. But then, that’s what government by tabloid press always is. My great fear is that scrapping the LCP will mean a return to ad-hoc, ‘hit and miss’ palliative care. This is a major backward step.
I do want to address a couple of specific points as well; firstly the LCP is not euthanasia by the back door. Secondly the payments for use of the LCP to hospitals have been presented as money for killing off patients and this is a gross misrepresentation.
I am against euthanasia. I think giving doctors the power the kill is a grave error – even when people are suffering horribly. Good palliative care is the very opposite of euthanasia. My professional experience – and this is especially true in children – is that we over-treat to the nth degree. We are not good in the profession in acknowledging that we cannot cure and fix everything. Most of us in medicine are ‘fixers’ by nature. A lot of what we do in medicine is nasty and invasive. I have no problem with doing nasty and invasive things to people who will benefit from them. I have major issues with doing nasty and invasive things to people when it will not help. This is about not having another round of chemotherapy when we know it won’t help. This is about not force-feeding people with artificial nutrition as their body shuts down. This is about not doing endless – and increasingly difficult  – blood tests just so we can chart the dying process. Integrating care pathways for dying patients mean we provide comfort and care for people in their last hours and days. This is vital.
The way the NHS funding works is quite complicated. Since the early 1990’s there has been a so-called purchaser-provider split and hospitals then get paid for providing specific treatments. One of the parts of this is so-called ‘quality-care indicators’  (or whatever they’re called this week). Essentially a portion of the money paid by primary care trusts / GP consortia is dependent on meeting the quality indicators. One such indicator was the use of the LCP in dying patients – x% was the threshold for payment. This actually makes a lot of sense; Let us assume that the LCP provides an excellent framework for caring for dying patients. Secondly, all patients who die in hospital are categorised as ‘expected’ or ‘unexpected.’ Death is often not a surprise – i.e. medical staff know that a patient is in the last phase of illness. The internal audit process simply reviewed what percentage of the ‘expected’ deaths were on the LCP when they died – i.e. had the medical team stopped doing invasive procedures on someone or were they still trying to cure? Nothing is absolute and some patients will die unexpectedly. Some people will have a theoretically reversible condition and it is right to keep on treating and yet we still fail – but the evidence is clear, in the majority of cases, we know someone is dying and the focus of care should change. A simple audit of whether the LCP is used of not is a good marker of this. The use of money to drive things is an inevitable consequence of how the modern NHS is structured – a perhaps cynical view that NHS trusts will only do things for financial incentives. On a more practical level, the trusts used this money to pay for specialist palliative care teams to support the use of the LCP and help the other clinical teams use it effectively. The abolition of such payments is a sensible political move but will probably also result in trusts not focusing on palliative care.
Speaking as the son of someone who died in an excellent hospice; speaking as a doctor who has worked on the wards where integrated care plans for dying patients have been used – and as someone familiar with LCP specifically I say this:

This is a very sad day for the healthcare in the UK. There is not a problem with the LCP – there is only a problem with poor practice – rarely. The number of patients who have received excellent care far outweighs the few who haven’t. Not that those don’t matter, they really do but I am sure that the bad practice was worse before we had integrated care for dying patients and will probably be worse again. What’s most annoying is when you read the comments sections or listen to radio phone-ins people talk about what they want end-of-life care to look like and it is precisely what is in the LCP. It is worrying to me that the Daily Mail wrote a couple of sensational and misleading articles and forced this change of policy. Deeply worrying. I know that a small group of people in the late 90s worked very hard to put together the research and develop the LCP. I suspect they are very demoralised. I know a lot of people work in palliative medicine and I expect they are depressed and despondent. All because a lying, evil rag – not even fit to be fish ‘n’ chip wrapping – calls itself a newspaper and constant prints streams of lies and sensation. A sad day.

Dr alienfromzog BSc(Hons) MBChB MRCS(Ed) DCH

Liverpool Care Pathway – The Daily Mail vs Care for the Dying

An inevitable philosophical question:

I’ve been occasionally contributing to Angrymob for a few years now. Kevin (aka Uponnothing) very kindly gave me a login. I write because I care about the truth. I write because I believe that the lies and agenda of the Mail are pervasive and damaging. I write because I hope to share my thoughts with enough people to help change the story – to help people realise what the media in general and the Mail in particular are doing. To provide the facts – as best I can – so that people who know the Mail is lying have the ammunition to respond.

I have no idea really if I’m achieving anything.

But the question that I’ve pondered for sometime now – especially when I read stories like this one – is what is going on within the Mail? I wonder if they believe what they write? I wonder if they just want an agenda to push? And I wonder what level of research they do before holding a particular position?

Either way, what they publish is demonstrably false and often deeply poisonous. This is why I have written about vaccines so much. The recent events in Wales with measles have shown the real-world effects of the Mail’s agenda. And this is moreover true is so many areas – immigration, race relations, the Welfare State, the NHS, our attitudes to poverty…etc. etc.

So, whilst I continue to ponder that question, which I admit does intrigue me greatly, I will try to continue to respond when I have the time. For the most part I write about healthcare issues as this is what I know about.

On the subject of poverty I invite you to read this from my personal blog. (I make no apology for the theology).

 

The Liverpool Care Pathway

I think I should begin with a confession; I am not a big fan of the LCP. I will explain that comment in a moment but first I need to alter it slightly. My feelings have changed and I have become very keen to defend it because the attack by the Mail seeks to (well maybe not, see above, will- ) damage the way we care for the dying in this country. If you want to read about the pathway itself and to understand what it is and how it works, here is a good place to start.

Simply put, the LCP was designed to consolidate best practise in the care of dying patients. In the UK we have a hospice movement to be proud of. Most people, however don’t die in hospices – most people die in hospitals. Historically (by which I mean the last 30 years) and culturally, hospitals are not conditioned to best care in the process of dying. Hospitals are places for curing. Modern medicine particularly is built on the notion of curing everything. Trust me, doctors know this to be a lie. Most of us have had enough humbling experiences with meeting death to know that we can’t cure everything and that the old saw about medicine being the art of delaying the inevitable is not without its truth. However, and this is a vital and massive ‘however’ – we are in the business of healthcare. Providing curative treatment when possible and appropriate and dignity, compassion and comfort when not.

Recognising that a patient is dying is notoriously difficult but experienced nursing and medical staff will tell you that we often know that it’s time to stop. I graduated in a time when these kind of approaches were widely accepted and beginning to be more formalised. It is about the fact that most people die relatively slowly – by which I mean hours to days  and not the seconds to minutes we see in TV and movies. Given that putting everyone in a hospice is not practicable, I think most of us will agree that providing the best kind of end-of-life care in hospital is a priority.

The principals are this: When a patient is near to death; stop unnecessary and invasive interventions (like blood tests) and treat symptoms effectively. This usually means three things; analgesia, treating anxiety and treating secretions.

The Liverpool Care Pathway codifies these in a way designed to ensure that best possible care is provided. Feeding may be stopped as in the last few days as artificial feeding does more harm than good.

So why do I not like the LCP? Well, this is not really my area of medicine and as I’ve moved into my specialty of paediatric surgery, I haven’t done any adult work for over three years now. But I was a junior doctor on the wards – and anyone who has done that job will have dozens of stories of how the LCP is a really effective way of CARING for dying patients. My objection is the same as that of a professor of palliative care I know, the LCP is a little cumbersome and involves too much paperwork and it got a lot of national attention and funding  – potentially at the expense of other areas. But is does work. Really well.

The LCP is very very good at what it does. The LCP – or something like it – is exactly what I would want for me, for anyone I love – or for any human being near to death.

 

The Daily Mail’s latest Witchhunt.

Back in November, I picked up on Melanie Phillips evil comment piece on the LCP and its effects. I do not use the word ‘evil’ lightly but something so completely dishonest that increases distress and anxiety for people who are watching loved-ones die I think is evil. If someone wants to provide me a better word, please do. Again I don’t know if Phillips is being dishonest of just not bothering to research properly – but I suspect dishonesty as she has never effectively engaged with the debate or criticism – where it has been repeatedly demonstrated where she is wrong.

And so we come to this week’s piece. The British Medical Association has been discussing the LCP and the public’s perceptions leading to this Daily Mail headline:

‘Don’t call it the Liverpool Care Pathway': Doctors admit it sounds like a one-way ticket to the grave

  • Leading doctors have admitted that there are problems with the controversial end of life care regime
  • Involves withholding food and water from the dying patient and is meant to help them die with dignity
  • Doctors admitted some patients have been left on it for weeks without having their case reviewed
As always, the culpability lies with the medical profession and not with the Daily Mail for printing misleading articles… The implications that doctors are killing patients or that they don’t care or that somehow this is a NHS initiative to save money are ———– well, I don’t know, I’ve run out of adjectives… (insulting, misleading, offensive, damaging, dangerous, horrific, indefensible, typical for the Mail, wrong, cynical, plain dishonest) – take your pick!
Well, actually I think all of those and then some more:  The implications that doctors are killing patients or that they don’t care or that somehow this is a NHS initiative to save money are insultmisleadinglyoffensivelydamaginglydangeroushorrificlyindefensiblelytypical-for-the-Mail-wronglycynicallyplain-dishonestetc!
As always the comments section provides a worrying perspective, but this is my favourite:
comment
No my dear-UKIP Supporter the reason they don’t have this ‘uncomfortable controversy’ in the States, is I suspect, because they are blessed enough not to have the Daily Mail.
AFZ

The Daily Hate

Fresh from one of the vilest, most dishonest and openly hateful front pages in recent times the Daily Mail is continuing its attack on those receiving benefits, this time with a poll. It warns its readers that such a poll may be ‘hijacked by the Left’ (just in case the results do not go in their favour) and posts several articles around the main subject that argues that the ‘Left’ is once again trying to censor debate:

mail-hate

It always amuses me when so much of the political ‘debate’ (it so often does not deserve the term) is set by a powerful press that is – by quite some majority – firmly on the right that they still claim to be some kind of persecuted minority. It is an especially stupid argument to make when the Right-wing press just happen to be completely in agreement with the policies of the party in power. The Daily Mail is a huge believer in the need to destroy the welfare state and is therefore doing all that it can to support the coalition in its very successful attempt to do so. The newspaper’s role is to lay the ground for acceptance of change, to make its readers hate those in receipt of benefits irrespective of the reality of the situation, once this is done, the changes don’t receive grudging acceptance – or simply a lack of resistance – but instead the baying masses cheer on the result; after all, the scroungers don’t deserve a penny.

This tired, fallacious argument has been repeatedly rebuffed with statistics to little effect because the exceptional cases override statistics in our irrational minds – emotion beats logic, as newspaper editors well know. Therefore the occasional story of the convicted benefit cheat easily outweighs the millions receiving benefits legitimately. The occasional story of the ‘feckless’ family that has never worked but has a widescreen TV and a big house, outweighs the thousands of people who receive benefits to supplement their poorly paid jobs (because the market that we are supposed to so slovenly obey, doesn’t actually pay a huge amount of workers a living wage and the government recognises this, subsidising not so much the poor, but the businesses that employ them at such a low wage).

It hardly needs stating that Mick Philpott is the product of many things, but the welfare state is not one of them. As many people have pointed out on Twitter, the same logic would place the NHS squarely to blame for Harold Shipman’s killing spree. It’s utterly nonsensical, but here it is, one of the most popular newspapers in Britain and one of the most visited websites on Earth are not just making the link, but repeatedly beating their ignorant and fearful readership around the face with it until they submit to the logic that the benefits system is actually murdering children and must be stopped.

Child benefit is just £20.30 a week for the eldest or only child and £13.40 a week for each additional child. Having a small army of children is a route to poverty, not prosperity – although no doubt a senior Tory will pop up claiming they could easily feed, clothe & educate a child for £20.30 / £13.40 a week and still keep Mick Phillpott waste deep in cigarettes and alcohol.

This kind of nonsensical hate campaign supports a point I made recently, that buying the Daily Mail or supporting it in any way is essentially an antisocial act. Imagine someone living in a block of flats, pumping out rave music 24 hours a day at a 1000DB, arguing that this person is making a worthwhile contribution to the music scene is the same as arguing that the Daily Mail is contributing anything of value to social or political debate. It also reinforces my point that we really should start to formally separate ‘news’ from ‘propaganda’ and start labeling newspapers more accurately as ‘comment sheets’. The bias exhibited by the Daily Mail on the topic of benefits is about as extreme as it gets, they only run negative stories, they never publish the full statistics on the matter (i.e. the huge amounts of unclaimed benefits, the true rate of benefit fraud etc) – they are entirely blinkered, for political reasons, on the subject. Yet they are still allowed to call themselves a ‘newspaper’, even though they rarely print news without a hugely political slant which means so much of their content is hugely distorted.

Buying the Daily Mail is an antisocial act in the same way that attending a local council meeting and proceeding to do nothing but throw faeces at everyone present is. That is all the Daily Mail and its ilk do, they throw shit at everyone they want to destroy whilst pretending that they’re actually trying to make a serious effort to engage in ‘debate’. Just remember the Phillpott front pages, editorials and columns the next time Paul Dacre appeals to the noblest traditions of journalism to stave off much needed regulation. He might know what noble journalism is, but he’s very rarely practised it.


PS. If you like this blog post, spending a couple of seconds clicking the videos on the right ensures I get paid around 1/100,000,000 of what Richard Littlejohn earns for shitting out two columns a week. Thanking you kindly.

Freedom for what? To kill young women?

As regular readers of this blog know, the Daily Mail believe that the vital importance of a free press is an excuse for anything they want to do. The confluence of reporting and commentary is so insidious and malevolent. Many newspapers are guilty but the Mail is the biggest culprit.

For me, one of the best examples of this is in the reporting of vaccine stories. I have written about this before. I wonder if I should apologise for covering old ground, but then as long as the Mail puts real lives are risk by cynically exploiting people’s fears in order to push an agenda and sell newspapers, I think I will feel compelled to respond.

So the current Mail  campaign is against the HPV vaccine: Girl, 13, Left in ‘Waking Coma’ and Sleeps For 23 Hours a Day After Severe Reaction to Cervical Cancer Jabs. Now, you don’t have to be a doctor to begin to doubt the veracity of the headline, simply reading the article itself is a good start;

“But just weeks after she received the third dose of Cervarix in May this year she began to feel exhausted.”

Let’s just cover some facts:

  1. Cevical cancer is caused by a virus (Human Papilloma Virus).
  2. The current vaccine protects against 70% of the strains that cause cancer
  3. By preventing the virus infection, the vaccine prevents the cancer
  4. If you look at the data (also in the article) the vaccine is very safe.

The subject of this article has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. This remains a controversial issue for lots of reasons, not least because despite a lot of research, a cause has not been clearly identified. Therefore to ascribe her symptoms to the vaccine that was given weeks before is a very speculative statement at best.

Lets have a look at the little information panel they’ve included:

Now I assume that they’ve got this data from the MRHA (The medicines and healthcare products regulations agency). On their website I couldn’t find the up to date figures because they don’t publish them routinely but they are available on request. However the initial figures from the first two years are here. The importance of this is how closely vaccine reactions are tracked and recorded. So lets look at the side-effects; 4445 out of over four million vaccines is around one in a thousand reported side-effects. Of those the vast majority were local reactions and rashes. Now I don’t want to underestimate the significance of a sore arm, but I think cancer can be quite nasty too. Allergic reactions are important, because a severe reaction can be very dangerous, but the figures for anaphylaxis are extremely low. The final comment about Guillan-Barre syndrome is also very disingenuous. GBS is a nasty condition but it occurs sporadically and rarely in the population all the time. The important point is that people notice when they occur after a vaccine. If the two really were linked then the rate in the vaccinated population would be higher than the background rate. It is not.

Please remember people, coincidence is not the same thing as causation. It seems that if something occurs around the time of the vaccination, then the vaccine must be to blame.

I firmly believe that the press has an important role to play in keeping the powerful accountable. However, making stuff up and stoking up fear is something very different. I wouldn’t mind but the HPV vaccine will save many young women from a horrible and early death. If the vaccine really is dangerous then we shouldn’t use it. But it’s not. The ever-increasing evidence is that the vaccine is very safe.

I wonder, if in 15 years time someone did a study which showed that cervical cancer was massively more common amongst the daughters of Daily Mail readers, would they publish an apology? No, I thought not.

Here’s a headline for you:

Reading the Daily Mail can cause cancer in your children!

 

AFZ

A darker side to the London Riots?

The globalist trend of manipulating the masses into accepting tyranny re-emerges in overt fashion during media coverage and public reaction to the London riots, Writes Chris Beames

All the riots which are igniting in London right now reflect EXACTLY what Alex Jones details in his Police State documentary collection. When Idiotic anarchists are allowed to cause havoc by a deliberately depleted and disorganised police force the public will huddle up to the government for safety thus manipulating us into accepting stricter fascist rules around legitimate future protests. Do not believe the ruling classs’ neuro-linguistic lies when they appear on your TV acting as though they are appalled by the (new buzzword) thuggery because this is just the excuse they need to crack down on all of our freedoms and they love it.

Do any of you honestly believe that these hoodies are capable of outsmarting a 21st century big brother police machine? Come on people wake up!! Listen to what the un-edited un gate-kept people caught up in it all are saying, the police are nowhere to be seen until things get seriously out of hand and then they arrive in small disorganised numbers. The anarchists and hoodies are being allowed to cause destruction so that in the future we will beg for harsh policing.

You can kiss your right to protest away after this and as the openly hypocritical media turns on the same social network sites that it was recently praising for the Arab Spring you can kiss your right to free speech on the internet away as well. Oh but don’t worry because after our leaders allow criminals to burn down your house you will be begging the government for their loving protection and as our freedoms are stripped away from us you will read a bunch of propogandist headlines and turn to your masters and thank the inept, corrupt government reprobates for ‘keeping us safe’.

The set up that is going on here is so obvious that if it weren’t so horrific for those involved it would be laughable.

“people rioting in London are not protesters or revolutionaries, unless you think political change springs from thieving 40inch TVs from Tesco. If they’re so aggrieved at police brutality, why are they smashing up JD Sports? This is NOT a genuine backlash against an abusive establishment, it’s a bunch of criminals and moronic anarchists. This kind of behaviour makes the police look like the good guys, which is why agent provocateurs are routinely used to stage such violence at major summits”1

I deplore violent protest it really does the fascists a favour when copycat fools give governments an excuse to trample over our freedoms. This smells like a set up in preparation for possible future civil unrest that could come about as the results of a crumbling economy that the tax payer is being forced to pay for. If you’re sat there gobbling up what the news is telling you right now then they have got you in a trance my friend.

As a point of interest I would recommend that anyone studying what is going on right now should go watch ‘police state 2 the take over’ and note the similarity in the use of provocateurs and inactive police resulting in demands for fascist measures. I’m not going to sit here and tell you what to think. When you’ve got time try and watch this interesting documentary because the parallels to what is going on here in the UK right now are uncanny.

The left right political paradigm is dead in a world that owes all of its resources to central banks. I believe that this was allowed to get out of hand so that the government can easily justify the building of a fascist police state in preparation for the world financial collapse, tax increases, pension looting and mass unemployment.

All theories, historic comparisons and observations aside, the sad fact was put best on a copy and paste status update currently doing rounds on the aforementioned demonised social network sites:

“An allegedly armed father of 4 was killed by police in broad daylight at 6.15 p.m. on Thurs 4th August in Tottenham. Rioting and looting in Tottenham since have made front page news for the past two days, yet the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, which preceded this violence was reported in a much more muted fashion. Without condoning the rioting (and the opportunistic looting by individuals who have no idea who Mr Duggan was) it is hard to escape the view that his death has slipped into oblivion”.


1 – Jones, A. (n.d.). www.prisonplanet.com. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from Prison Planet: http://www.prisonplanet.com/london-rioters-not-protesters-just-criminals-and-thug-wannabes-making-the-police-look-good.html

Meanwhile

Over at Daily Mail online HQ is motivation to keep plugging away:

On and on

Bins, climate change and another editorial which just demonstrates that the Mail has given up even the slightest pretence of being a newspaper and instead is happy with direct propaganda:

As former Cabinet Secretary Lord Turnbull said this week in a truly withering critique, ministers and their officials have deliberately ignored the huge doubts surrounding climate change science.

Elevating one man’s ill-informed opinion as reason to doubt a very well established scientific consensus is just lunacy. So, I’ll follow the example of Bob Marley (just without the legacy of being a creative genius):

“The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I?” – Bob Marley

Daily Mail and horrific deaths

I’m not sure if it is just me, or has the Daily Mail been making more effort to report in great, lurid detail more and more terrible deaths? It seems to me that thousands of people die across the UK each day for a variety of reasons and the vast majority of these deaths are not considered newsworthy. However, should you die in circumstances that raise a snigger, an eyebrow or tweak the horror senses then your death is news, your death sells newspapers.

The recent and utterly shameful reporting of the young woman who died from a heart condition whilst using a vibrator was splashed – complete with big picture – over the web pages of the Metro and Daily Mail was not an exception, but an all-t0 common example of how the press has no boundaries, no line that it will not cross in the abuse of someone’s death.

Today a strange story in the same vain appeared, it first aroused the readers with some ‘tragedy porn':

Smiling shyly in his smart riding clothes as he sits astride his beloved horse, this is the last picture of the little boy killed in a tragic accident on a rope swing at his family home…

His mother Sarah Bray tried frantically to give him mouth-to-mouth – and thought she had saved his life when he started to breathe again.

But tragically the little boy lost consciousness and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Southampton hospital at 6pm on Tuesday.

And then follows it up with some ‘envy porn’, cramming in every detail about the house and lifestyle of the grieving family:

Nine-year-old Jamie Bray had been playing on the rope swing in the back garden of his family’s five bedroom country house…

A horse, horse box and stables are set to the left of the picturesque £800,000 home in Bishops Waltham, near Southampton, where Jamie lived with his mother, his father Richard and his older brother Sam.

The picturesque house is set at the top of a 20 metre dirt track and is surrounded by fields.

A Porsche Cayenne 4×4 and a silver-coloured Volkswagen were parked outside of the home on Friday, where a tree house by the front gate had flowers and a candle laid underneath as a tribute to the youngster.

Quite what relevance this extract from what seems like MTV Cribs has to the story seems utterly beyond me, but seems rather typical of the Daily Mail who seem to think that their readers absolutely must know the net worth of any protagonist, starting with the value of their house. The story doesn’t give the reader any particular advice to avoid such an accident – apart from don’t let your kids use a rope swing unsupervised, so it is hardly a shock story to warn parents of danger. Rather it seems that ‘freak’ deaths sell newspapers, especially if the victim lived a dream lifestyle.

Fail and Shameful Scaremongering

From the Daily Mail:

Fail
Click to Enlarge

And another story aimed at scaring pregnant mothers: ‘Babies born at night in hospital ‘have higher risk of dying‘. Now, we looked at absolute risk and relative risk the other day, so this article is using the same scary trick:

Pregnant women have been warned their delivery is nearly fifty per cent more likely to go wrong if they give birth at night rather than during the day due to poor staff cover.

A worrying study has uncovered a link between drastically higher rates of newborn death and admission to neonatal intensive care for deliveries in the evenings and early hours…

The chances of death in some hospitals could be as much as 47 per cent higher if the babies are born between 6pm and 8am than if they are born during the day. [My emphasis]

So, in order to assess how worried mothers would need to be, and whether this rate is ‘drastically higher’ we have to look at the percentage of children dying:

between 0.05 and 0.09 per cent of infants died during or soon after birth.

Rates were higher among infants born at larger hospitals, but were still less than 1 per cent.

So, as we know, 47% higher relative risk when the absolute risk is less than 1% it not something pregnant mothers should worry about or even consider, yet undoubtedly this article aims to make them do just that. This is pathetic scaremongering and typical of the Daily Mail outlook on life. Just shameful.

Hyperbole

This story currently on the Mail website caught my eye:

Dive-bombing buzzard

‘Vicious’ attacks and talons being sunk into ‘terrified locals’ sounds pretty disturbing. Then you click on the article and read it and things become rather less dramatic:

Horse rider Lindsey Wake had a lucky escape when she fell victim to the hawk-like bird.

‘I was totally bemused. I couldn’t see because the helmet had come down over my eyes. I had no idea what it was at first.

‘The helmet is all scratched and marked underneath. The talons could have got my head.’

So, a horse rider gets a slightly scratched helmet and distinctly no ‘talons’ sunk into her flesh at all. What about other victims? Well:

A-Level student Charlotte Colley was also attacked on the lane recently as well as her 16-year-old brother Jack.

OK, now we’re talking, surely this innocent girl was viciously mauled. Let’s see:

‘I was in shock – it came out of nowhere. I just didn’t see the buzzard coming…

‘I had pinpoints of blood across my scalp where the claws had dug into me. It’s very worrying and people are avoiding the area now.

Pinpoints of blood‘, I was expecting huge, permanent scares after reading the Mail headline and strap-line, not scratched head-wear and ‘pinpoints of blood’. Surely there must be other residents who suffered one of these ‘series’ of attacks and were seriously injured? No, of course not and tellingly ‘No-one has reported the incidents'; except to the Daily Mail it seems. The Mail wraps up the article with a few words from a RSPB spokesman:

‘The buzzard is only protecting its nest. The best advice is to avoid that lane for a while.’

Presumably the spokesman was cut off before they could also give advice to national newspapers about how to avoid making much ado about nothing.