EurekAlert University of Huddersfield 7-Apr-2014
GOVERNMENT plans to overhaul the centuries-old coroner system in England and Wales have been bolstered by the findings of a leading police officer who has become a PhD researcher at the University of Huddersfield. Detailed analysis by ex-Detective Chief Superintendent Max Mclean has shown that there are huge disparities between the decisions made by coroners in differing districts, with the troubling discovery that the deaths of women are considerably less likely to be investigated at an inquest.
The result is a “postcode lottery”, claims Mr Mclean, who calls for a fully-fledged National Coroners’ Service, overseeing a reduced number of districts, headed by fully-professional coroners. This means that he backs an announcement made by the Justice Minister that the coroner system will be reformed, with new national standards drawn up, but feels the reforms could go further. His statistical analysis – now the subject of two academic articles – will reinforce this process.
Link to full-text journal article
Link to earlier (2013) Jnl Clin Path article
BBC News 1 April 2014
Cuts to animal health surveillance mean Britain is at a much greater risk of outbreaks of devastating diseases such as “mad cow disease”, experts say.
The Royal College of Pathologists (RCP) says human health could be at risk.
BBC News 7 November 2013
The annual figures for people dying in car crashes in England and Wales have fallen by 40% in the past 50 years.
A paper in the Emergency Medicine Journal says this is despite the rise in the number of drivers on the road.
Link to EMJ article
BBC News James Gallagher 12 June 2013
The world’s largest database of cancer patients is being set up in England in an attempt to revolutionise care, Public Health England has announced.
It will collate all the available data on each of the 350,000 new tumours detected in the country each year.
The aim is to use the register to help usher in an era of “personalised medicine” that will see treatments matched to the exact type of cancer a patient has.
Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences Emma Cunliffe Published online: 18 Apr 2013
Since 2003, more than a dozen wrongful convictions have been identified in English and Canadian child homicide cases. These wrongful convictions are widely attributed to the failings of individual expert witnesses. However, the contemporaneous occurrence of multiple cases in at least two jurisdictions adds to growing evidence that the criminal trial process has systemic vulnerabilities to unreliable expert evidence. One source of vulnerability may be judicial reluctance to examine the independence and reliability of expert reasoning. In this article, I draw on an analysis of medical literature, expert reports and trial transcripts to propose five principles that may contribute to a more robust understanding of expert independence and reliability. These principles are: investigating the process by which an expert has reached an opinion; identifying the variety of sources of expert reasoning; ensuring that inculpatory evidence is not ‘double-counted’ by being unidentifiably incorporated into expert reasoning; investigating the relationship between published medical literature and trial testimony; and giving particular scrutiny to experts whose opinions change or become more firmly held over the course of a case.
Link to full-text (QH staff only)
BBC News James Gallagher & Nick Triggle 6 February 2013
Five other hospitals are to be investigated in the wake of the public inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital.
Neglect and abuse at the hospital led to hundreds of unnecessary deaths between 2005 and 2008.
In response to the inquiry, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that five other hospitals with persistently high death rates would be investigated.
BBC News 30 July 2012
A hot tub is the “probable” source of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Staffordshire, health officials have said.
BBC News 27 July 2012
Four more Legionnaires’ disease cases are confirmed in Stoke-on-Trent, taking the total to 15.
Read Health Protection Agency (UK) media update
BBC News James Gallagher 31 May 2012
The number of newly diagnosed cases of gonorrhoea in England soared by 25% in 2011 amid fears that the sexual infection is becoming untreatable.
There have been cases in Japan and Europe of infections that resist first-choice therapies.
The Health Protection Agency said the threat of gonorrhoea was “very concerning”.
It said there was a 2% overall rise in the number of new sexually transmitted infections diagnosed in 2011.
Gonorrhoea is caused by bacteria and can result in infertility. It is treated by antibiotics, but some are failing.
BBC News 3 May 2012
The campaign to improve hand hygiene in hospitals in England and Wales contributed to a significant fall in the rates of superbug infections, according to a report.
The study published on the BMJ website showed the amount of soap and hand gel being used tripled during the campaign.
Link to full-text