Sarah Reed death: Mentally ill 'should not be assessed in prison'

Sarah ReedImage copyright Family handout Image caption Sarah Reed had a history of mental health problems following the death of her daughter

The mother of a woman who killed herself while she was in prison has said mentally ill people should not be assessed in prison.

Sarah Reed, 32, died in Holloway Prison, north London in February last year.

She was waiting to be assessed to see if she was mentally fit to plead after being charged with assaulting a nurse in a secure psychiatric unit.

The government said it took prisoners' mental health "extremely seriously".

Sarah's mother Marilyn Reed said if people had done their jobs properly, she would still be alive.

The jury at Sarah Reed's inquest recently concluded a narrative verdict.

It found that a series of failures such as not treating her in a timely manner, mismanagement of her care and monitoring, plus an unacceptable number of cancelled visits by staff all significantly contributed to her deterioration.

Ms Reed was waiting in prison for nine weeks for an assessment.

'No food or water'

Her mother said:"It needs to stop, it needs to be investigated.We need to have things put in place that the mental health are dealt with in medical places.There's no excuse and I want this to change, that no other family is torn apart or devastated."

Image caption Marilyn Reed wants all mentally ill people to be assessed in hospitals, not prisons

"If they'd have said a secure unit, hospital, whatever, I'd have said fair enough.But prison?Remember she hadn't been found guilty of anything, she'd been accused of a crime, she hadn't been sentenced, yet she was placed in Holloway," she added.

She said the inquest was painful for her and the family.

"The revelations such as her not being allowed to have baths or showers or being able to have food or water because they felt she was in such a psychotic state that she couldn't be approached.

We thought that if she'd been a dog or a cat, kept under those conditions, someone would have been charged for animal cruelty."

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Holloway prison closed last May after being described as "inadequate and antiquated"

She said her daughter had a history of mental health problems, which stemmed from her not recovering from the death of her baby daughter in 2003.

Last year 22 women died in prison.Holloway, which was western Europe's biggest female-only prison, was closed last May after it was branded inadequate by inspectors.

In a statement, the government said:"We take the mental health of prisoners extremely seriously and are increasing the support available to vulnerable offenders.

"We are putting more funding into prison safety and have launched a suicide and self-harm reduction project to address the increase in self-inflicted deaths and self-harm in our prisons."...

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GM pigs take step to being organ donors

GM pigsImage copyright EGENESIS

The most genetically modified animals in existence have been created to help end a shortage of organs for transplant, say US researchers.

The scientists successfully rid 37 pigs of viruses hiding in their DNA, overcoming one of the big barriers to transplanting pig organs to people.

The team at eGenesis admits preventing pig organs from being rejected by the human body remains a huge challenge

But experts said it was a promising and exciting first step.

The study, published in the journal Science[1], started with skin cells from a pig.

Tests identified 25 Pervs - porcine endogenous retroviruses - hidden in the pig's genetic code.

Experiments mixing human and pig cells together showed those viruses could escape to infect human tissues.

But the researchers then used the game-changing gene-editing technology Crispr to delete the 25 Pervs.

It then took cloning technology, the same used to create Dolly the sheep[3], to place the genetic material from those cells into a pig's egg and create embryos.

The complex process is inefficient, but 37 healthy piglets have been born.

"These are the first Perv-free pigs," Dr Luhan Yang, one of the researchers from Harvard University and the spinout company eGenesis, told the BBC News website.

They were also "the most genetically modified [animals] in terms of the number of modifications", he said.

If xenotransplantation - using organs from other species - works, then it has the potential to alleviate long waits for a transplant.

More than 100,000 people need an organ transplant in the US[4].There are about 6,500 people on the UK waiting list[5].

Dr Yang told the BBC:"We recognise we are still at the early stages of research and development.

"We know we have an audacious vision of a world with no shortage of organs, that is very challenging, but that is also our motivation to remove mountains."

Pigs are particularly promising for xenotransplantation as their organs are a similar size to humans', and the animals can be bred in large numbers.

But removing the viruses is only half the challenge, even organs donated from other people can cause a strong immune reaction that leads to the transplant being rejected.

The US team is investigating further genetic modifications to make pig organs more acceptable to the human immune system.

First step

Darren Griffin, a genetics professor at the University of Kent, said:"This represents a significant step forward towards the possibility of making xenotransplantation a reality.

"However, there are so many variables, including ethical issues, to resolve before xenotransplantation can take place."

Prof Ian McConnell, from the University of Cambridge, said:"This work provides a promising first step in the development of genetic strategies for creating strains of pigs where the risk of transmission of retroviruses has been eliminated.

"It remains to be seen whether these results can be translated into a fully safe strategy in organ transplantation."

The researchers had to overcome unexpected challenges from performing so much gene-editing in one go.

The Crispr technology works like a combination of a sat-nav and a pair of scissors.The sat-nav finds the right spot in the genetic code, and then the scissors perform the cut.

But making 25 cuts throughout the pig's genome led to DNA instability and the loss of genetic information.

Follow James on Twitter[6]....

References

  1. ^ published in the journal Science (science.sciencemag.org)
  2. ^ Human embryos edited to stop disease (www.bbc.co.uk)
  3. ^ used to create Dolly the sheep (www.bbc.co.uk)
  4. ^ need an organ transplant in the US (optn.transplant.hrsa.gov)
  5. ^ on the UK waiting list (www.nhsbt.nhs.uk)
  6. ^ on Twitter (twitter.com)

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Vitamin B3 may prevent miscarriages and birth defects, study suggests

Pregnant stomach with vitamin pillsImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Study finds taking niacin might help prevent miscarriages

Taking Vitamin B3 could prevent miscarriages and birth defects, a study on mice suggests.

Researchers from the Victor Chang Institute in Sydney called it "a double breakthrough", as they found both a cause and a preventative solution.

With 7.9 million babies born each year with a birth defect worldwide, the team hopes the benefits are wide-reaching.

But an expert said the findings "cannot be translated into recommendations" for pregnancy.

The researchers analysed the DNA of four families where the mothers had suffered multiple miscarriages or their babies were born with multiple birth defects, such as heart, kidney, vertebrae and cleft palate problems.

They found mutations in two genes that caused the child to be deficient in a vital molecule known as Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which allows cells to generate energy and organs to develop normally.

Lead researcher Prof Sally Dunwoodie replicated these mutations in mice but found they could be corrected if the pregnant mother took niacin (vitamin B3).

"You can boost your levels of NAD and completely prevent the miscarriages and birth defects.It bypasses the genetic problem," she said."It's rare that you find a cause and a prevention in the same study.And the prevention is so simple, it's a vitamin," she said.

Bypass genetics

Dr Katie Morris, an expert in maternal foetal medicine at the University of Birmingham, said:"While exciting, this discovery cannot be translated into recommendations for pregnant women, who at most may be deficient in vitamin B3.

"The doses used in this research were 10 times the recommended daily doses for supplementation in women."

She said the side-effects of this high dosage are not known, with pregnancy complications often occurring because of the complex interaction of a number of factors.

Prof Jean Golding, from the University of Bristol, called it a "solid piece of work" but cautioned against extrapolating too much from the findings, because they were based on the genetics of four families and mice.

For now, Prof Dunwoodie recommended pregnant women take a pregnancy-specific multivitamin, which includes the advised 18 milligrams of niacin.

"But, we're not all the same in how we absorb nutrients," she said, adding that body mass index and diabetes can influence how a woman produces NAD.

She added:"We don't know who these women are that don't make sufficient levels, so that will be the next thing to study." ...

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Surgery waiting numbers highest in decade, says NHS England

SurgeonsImage copyright Getty Images

The number of people waiting for routine surgery in England is at its highest level for a decade, figures from NHS England show.

It is estimated more than four million people were waiting for operations in June - a figure last seen in 2007.

The rise is partly because of growing demand and the NHS performing more procedures.

But some doctors argue the higher numbers reflect growing strain on the health service.

The NHS in England is failing to meet its target to operate on 92% of people within 18 weeks.

Since June last year there has been an increase of more than 21% in the numbers waiting longer than 18 weeks to 373,182.

NHS England said:"Last month 1.4 million patients started consultant-led treatment, and more than nine out of 10 patients were waiting less than 18 weeks.

"We're working hard to cut long waits, and the number of patients waiting over a year for treatment has dropped by nearly 13,000 since March 2011 to being just over 1,500 now."

The confirmed figures shows that 3.83 million people are waiting to have surgery, but missing data means the NHS believes the figure may in fact be "just over four million patients".

Other targets missed include the four-hour target in A&E and urgent referrals for cancer care.

John Appleby, the director of research at the Nuffield trust, said:"These figures show that the NHS continues to be systematically unable to meet its main targets.

"This puts the NHS on the back foot as we approach winter, with problems both at the 'front door' of A&E departments and at the 'back door', as hospitals struggle to send people home or onto further care."...

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Surgeon had no consent for boy's genital op

Anthony Lambert Image caption Anthony Lambert admitted he should not have carried out the operation without consent from the boy's parents

A decorated military surgeon operated on a 12-year-old boy's genitals without the consent of his parents.

Cdr Anthony Lambert OBE admitted carrying out the procedure during an unrelated operation at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Devon.

Cdr Lambert, who will no longer perform non-emergency operations on children, has apologised along with Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

But the boy's "angry" mother has branded the surgeon "not trustworthy".

The operation was discussed with the General Medical Council (GMC), but the trust was advised to handle it locally.

More on this story, and other Devon and Cornwall news[1]

Image copyright PA Image caption Surgeon Cdr Anthony Lambert was awarded an OBE in 2013 for saving lives in war zones and for his charity work for wounded servicemen

While the boy from east Cornwall was unconscious and undergoing a hernia operation last year, Cdr Lambert carried out a genital examination.

Cdr Lambert, who was awarded an OBE in 2013 for his work in Afghanistan, felt it was in the "best interests" of the boy to "free adhesions" found on his genitals.

But he did not get consent from the boy's parents who were waiting outside the operating theatre, despite being told he should by a colleague.

Although Cdr Lambert went in to the waiting room, he admitted he left without speaking to the family or calling their name.

The family's lawyer, Andrew Hannam, of Enable Law, said for Cdr Lambert to continue under these circumstances was "shocking for the child and his family"

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Cdr Anthony Lambert is employed by the Royal Navy and provides care for patients at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth

In a letter of apology, Cdr Lambert said he "should have made more of an effort" to find the parents.

"Why I did not call your name when I left theatre to find you, I do not know," he told the family.

"I unreservedly apologise for the short-fallings in the care I provided to your son."

He also apologised for his "entirely inappropriate" language.

Dr Phil Hughes, medical director for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, sent a letter to the family which said the operation "should not have happened without consent".

He said there should have been "a challenge" to stop the procedure continuing and that an "organisational development intervention" will be put in place with all theatre team members to ensure it does not happen again....

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