Police investigating the deaths of mothers and babies at Furness General Hospital, Cumbria, has found a disturbing link which indicates that race could have been a motivating factor.
According to The Telegraph (Baby deaths at Cumbria hospital maternity ward ‘linked to race’: 12 September, 2011), detectives are investigating whether the deaths of mothers and babies at the Furness General Hospital, in Cumbria, are racially motivated after disturbing statistics linking race to the deaths was obtained by Carl Hendrickson, whose wife, Nittaya Hendrickson, 35, and son, Chester, died after attending Furness General Hospital. Mr Hendrickson believes that missing heart records would show that if his wife had been given a cesarean earlier she would have survived and his son would not have suffered fatal brain damage.
Mr Hendrickson obtained the damning statistics under the Freedom of Information laws, and found that over an eight-month period in 2008, a large number of deaths at the hospital involved women from ethnic minorities. Out of six deaths in 2008, involving women and babies, five were ethnic minorities.
More disturbingly, data released by the hospital showed that although just 2 percent of mothers from ethnic minorities were treated at the baby unit in 2008, an alarming 83 percent of “serious untoward” cases involved ethnic minorities.
Niran Aukhaj, was 29, a diabetic and expecting her second child. Being a diabetic meant that she was a high risk pregnancy, however she was sent home by staff from the hospital on April 14, 2008, and they did not check her blood pressure nor was she seen by a consultant. She died seven days later when her ten year-old son discovered her collapsed on the floor. Both mother and baby died.
While the hospital denied any wrongdoing the health watchdog, Care Quality Commission, condemned the hospital in a report, particularly the poor standards of the maternity services.
Racist health-care in the NHS
The worrying thing about this investigation is that racist health-care in the NHS has been exposed before. Milton Hanson, was sacked from his job for exposing the racist degrading practices on black people at a sexual health clinic in South London, in 2003, after 35 years of service. (Read Black nurse who fought against racism in the NHS dies of cancer)
Hanson was sickened by what he witnessed, which included the racial and physical abuse of black patients at the Caldecot sexual health clinic where he worked. When his bosses ignored him he turned to a black pirate radio station to inform the black community about what was going on.
Hanson said, “On several occasions a particular [European] nurse boasted to myself and other nurses that she would push the urethral probe deeper than necessary up the urethra of black males to cause them physical pain.” (Ligali: 9 November: 2006)
He added, “Black patients were routinely called derogatory names such as ‘crows’, ‘yardie criminals’, ‘monkeys’, and ‘breeders’, among many other offensive and hurtful names. Black women were routinely left exposed on examination chairs, unattended for long periods without covering. Staff would brag that this was to punish them for asking difficult questions about the waiting time.”
Hanson was sacked for whistle-blowing, and to add further damage he was told that he would never work in the NHS again. He returned to Jamaica but the stress proved too much for him and he suffered from a stroke at his home in Priestman’s River, Portland, and was taken to the Port Antonio Hospital. He died on November 5, 2005, age 57.
Hanson uncovered a can of worms and lost his job for it, and there could be many people like Hanson working in the NHS witnessing racist treatment, but for fear of losing their job and ending their career, they remain silent.
Furness General Hospital could also be the tip of the iceberg. Just how racist is the NHS? No doubt these are questions the Black and minority ethnic communities must ask themselves and address through a public inquiry.
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