Family of cyclist considers private prosecution after police drop action against driver


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Anna Tatton-Brown with father Michael Mason

Anna Tatton-Brown with father Michael Mason

The daughter of a cyclist who died after being run over in the West End revealed she was considering a private prosecution after police took no action against the driver.

Anna Tatton-Brown, 33, said she was disgusted at a coroner’s verdict that her father Michael Mason’s death was an “accident” and said he would have wanted her to continue to fight for safer cycling.

Outside the inquest, BBC journalist Ms Tatton-Brown told the Standard: “I’m annoyed that the police have not taken any further action. I don’t think it sends a very good message to other drivers, or to cyclists that their lives are considered not worth protecting.

“You do wonder what more evidence they need to take action against a driver for killing someone.

“I have tried to do what my dad would have wanted. He was quite livid about bad driving on London’s roads and cyclists not being protected and being very vulnerable. Were he alive now, he would be fighting this tooth and nail.”

Westminster coroner’s court heard on Wednesday last week how Mr Mason suffered “severe traumatic brain injury” after being hit from behind by a Nissan Juke car driven by Gale Purcell as he cycled north in Regent Street, near the BBC, at about 6.25pm on on February 25.

His life-support machine was switched off at St Mary’s hospital on March 14 when doctors told his family that the prospect of the 70-year-old stand-in teacher making a recovery was “extremely remote”.

See here for the story from the Evening Standard at the time:

See here for Ms Tatton-Brown’s tribute to her father, which was read out by the coroner’s officer at the inquest:

Mrs Purcell, who stopped at the scene, told the inquest that she had not seen Mr Mason despite his bike having front and rear lights.

“It was like something had fallen from the sky,” she said. “I was totally unaware of a cyclist. I just heard an impact.”

Under cross-examination from Martin Porter QC, Mrs Purcell, who has never expressed any remorse to the cyclist’s family, added: “I should have seen him if he was [immediately ahead], but I didn’t see him.”

Collision investigator PC Brian Gamble told the court that “there was a view available” of Mr Mason to Mrs Purcell directly through her windscreen. “I’m unable to explain why Mrs Purcell was unable to react to his presence,” he said.

Det Con Andrew Meikle said a detective inspector had decided last month not to mount a prosecution due to a lack of evidence. CCTV footage showed Mr Mason cycling into the right-hand lane but not the collision. “The problem was that we couldn’t say what had happened in that vital 25m,” he told the court.

Coroner Dr William Dolman recorded that Mr Mason’s death was an accident.

Ms Tatton-Brown said her father was a “very experienced cyclist” who ridden daily throughout his adult life. He had been at the Apple store and was returning home to Kentish Town when he was hit. He was the second of 12 cyclists killed in road collisions in London this year.

His family is seeking legal advice on whether the Met’s decision not to prosecute can be challenged, and on the chances of succeeding with a private prosecution.

Ms Tatton-Brown said: “At some level, I would like her to be held responsible for killing my dad.

“I’m quite shocked by her admission that she should have seen him if he was in front of her. It’s the first time we have heard her explanation but it raises more questions than it answers.”

A&E crisis: Three London trusts named among 10 worst in country for delays


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Three London hospital trusts were named today as among the worst 10 in the country for A&E delays as figures showed the NHS was under the heaviest winter pressure for a decade.

A total of 436,229 people sought emergency help across the country in the week ending on Sunday [December 7] – almost 30,000 more than the average for the same period last year.

In London, the trusts that run Northwick Park, Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals again fell far short of Government targets to see patients within four hours – adding further controversy to the decision to close two neighbouring casualty units in September.

Severe delays were also reported at the east London trust that runs Queen’s hospital in Romford and King George in Ilford, where only 76 per cent of patients attending the main A&E units were seen in time. The national target is 95 per cent.

NHS England’s first “winter health check” of the 2014/15 winter said more than 110,000 patients attending A&E were so ill that they had to be admitted to hospital – about 5,000 more than a year ago.

Nationally, 91.8 per cent of patients were seen in four hours – down three points on last year. Pressures were intensified because almost 1,300 beds a day could not be used due to the vomiting bug norovirus and diarrhoea, on top of 751 a day where “bed blocking” resulted from medically-fit patients being unable to be returned to community care.

Dame Barbara Hakin, National Director of Commissioning Operations for NHS England said: “This week saw over 110,100 emergency admissions to hospital and 436,229 attendances – up nearly 30,000 on the average for the same week over the past years. Unsurprisingly, this level of demand continues to put extra pressure on our hospitals but the NHS remains resilient and is pulling out all the stops, with local hospitals, ambulances, GPs, home health services and local councils all working hard to open extra beds and seven day services using the extra winter funding that has been made available.”

London North West Healthcare, which runs Northwick Park and Ealing, was the second worst in the country for main A&E performance, with 67.3 per cent of patients seen in four hours. Imperial, which runs Charing Cross and St Mary’s, was eighth worst at 75.7 per cent.

London charity cooking up aid for Ebola victims and health workers


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A London charity is aiming to deliver freshly-cooked meals to patients and health workers on the frontline of the Ebola epidemic in west Africa.

LunchBoxGift, set up by ex-pat Sierra Leonians, wants to provide 50,000 food boxes over the next three months to those suffering from the deadly virus and the staff trying to save their lives.

Co-founder Memuna Janneh said a trial had allowed staff in London to “remote control” a team of 20 volunteers in Sierra Leone to provide 2,600 meals. A fun run, food fair and Christmas bazaar is being held in Mile End stadium and park  on Sunday [December 14] to raise funds for the project.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said it was “a truly impressive example” of Britons and Sierra Leoneans working together to help mitigate the effects of Ebola.

According to the charity, the isolation of Ebola patients means that their families cannot easily get food to them.

Ms Greening said: “I commend the work of LunchBoxGift in their work to provide meals not only to patients suffering from Ebola but also to those healthcare workers selflessly caring for them.”


Full list of 22 health officials on £120,000 fact-finding ‘junket’ to US


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Two weeks ago, a large delegation of health chiefs from north-west London went on a £120,000 fact-finding mission to the US to learn more about how it delivers care in the community rather than in hospitals.

The trip – funded from a Department of Health “innovations” fund and organised by McKinsey – attracted considerable controversy, prompting the chief executive of Imperial College NHS trust, Dr Tracey Batten, to withdraw, and for Labour MP Andy Slaughter to describe it as a “junket”.

Campaigners were angry as the trip came after A&E delays in west London had increased in the wake of the closure of two small casualty units at Cental Middlesex and Hammersmith hospitals, and amid concern about the future of emergency care at Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals.

See here for my story at the time for the Evening Standard:

I’ve since obtained a list of those who took part in the trip, from the PR agency working for the Shaping A Healthier Future team. It said the 22 attendees were: “Two of our patient partners, two Directors of Social Services, two psychiatrists, seven GPs, two leaders from community health care providers, two clinicians involved in medical and nursing education and five members of the programme team.”

See here for a full list:


Patient representative
  Trish Longdon Lay Partner Hammersmith & Fulham CCG
  Michael Morton Lay Partner Central London CCG
Local Authorities – Directors of Adult Social Services
  Bernie Flaherty Divisional Director, Adult Social Care/ Co-Chair Embedding Partnerships Harrow Local Authority
  Phil Porter Strategic Director of Adult Social Services Brent Local Authority
Senior GPs
Dr Annabel Crowe CCG Mental health lead Hounslow CCG
Dr Ian Goodman CCG Chair Hillingdon CCG
Dr Ethie Kong CCG Chair Brent CCG
Dr Ruth O’Hare CCG Chair Central London CCG
Dr Mohini Parmar CCG Chair Ealing CCG
Dr Tim Spicer CCG Chair Hammersmith & Fulham CCG
Dr Richard Hooker CCG IT Lead West London CCG
Dr Christopher Hilton Consultant Psychiatrist West London Mental Health Trust
Dr Alex Lewis Medical Director Central North West London Foundation Trust
Community Trusts
  James Reilly Chief Executive Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
  Frank Sims Chief Executive Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust
Education partners
Dr Alison Chambers Pro Vice Chancellor & Executive Dean Society & Health Buckinghamshire New University
Dr Jeremy Levy Director of Multi-Professional Education and Quality Health Education North West London
Programme team
  Clare Parker Chief Financial Officer & Deputy Chief Officer CWHHE CCGs
  Susan Sinclair Director of Strategy West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust
  David Stacey Director of Business Strategy West London Mental Health Trust
  Caroline Allnutt Programme Team Strategy & Transformation
  Matthew Quinn Programme Team Strategy & Transformation


The Shaping A Healthier Future spokeswoman told me: “The programme have listened to patient frustrations about difficulties in finding their way through the system and repeating their story multiple times.  We want to improve that and provide the best possible care for the residents of NW London so the purpose of the visit is for clinicians in NWL to learn from others and be better informed to lead the improvements to care for our 2 million residents across North West London.    

“North West London was awarded Integrated Pioneer status last year and each national Pioneer site was given £110,000 to advance integration in their area. North West London already has a very ambitious programme to improve integrated care which has been cited nationally and internationally. We wanted to learn how we can improve care further by visiting innovative integrated care systems and organisations and meeting one of the requirements of the funding which was to learn about international examples of integration.

“It was therefore decided that representatives of our partner organisations, including patient representatives, would go on a study tour of America funded by the award I referred to above.  The team will be visiting 9 sites over 5 days and each leader attending will be responsible for studying a different features and writing up what they learn to share within their organisations and across North West London to progress our own improvements in joining up health and social care.

“The US was chosen as there are a number of organisations using innovative new care models and performance systems especially in relation to elderly care which is a key focus of the NW London early adopters.  I appreciate your point about the US having a private healthcare system but the organisations we are visiting have been specifically chosen because they are providing publicly funded care for elderly people and people who cannot pay for care themselves through the Medicare and Medicaid programmes, where reimbursement levels are broadly similar to those in the NHS. This includes organisations providing care in complex urban areas with high poverty rates like the Bronx and Baltimore.”

8,000 nursing vacancies at London hospitals despite 1,000 more in permanent posts


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A patient safety warning was issued today as it emerged that more than 8,000 nursing posts in London are unfilled.

Research by the Royal College of Nursing found the vacancy rate had increased across the capital from 11 per cent to 14 per cent in a year.

This was forcing hospitals to spend vast amounts on overtime and agency staff to provide temporary cover. Barts Health, the UK’s biggest NHS trust, spends £5.7 million a month on stand-in nurses and midwives – 23 per cent of its nursing budget.

The RCN London Safe Staffing Report 2014 found that in July there were more than 1,000 extra nurses in staff jobs than 12 months earlier. But with 60 per cent of the 2,500 new nursing posts unfilled, the gap between the number budgeted for and those on the payroll had grown.

The Francis Report, produced last year in the wake of the Mid Staffs scandal, made a strong link between staffing levels and patients safety and forced NHS trusts to scrutinise staff cover.

The RCN said the NHS pay freeze, increasing demand from patients and rising cost of living had combined to create a “critical shortage” of registered nurses. It said some trusts advertising for staff had not found a single candidate to interview.

The staff shortage is worst in mental health trusts, with high vacancy rates reported by Camden and Islington, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey and Hounslow and Richmond trusts.

RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue said: “An inescapable link is now established between staffing levels, skill mix and patient safety, and the number of nursing posts across London has increased sharply this year. However London still suffers from a critical shortage of nurses and only 40 per cent of the new posts have been filled.

“As the cost of living continues to rise, much more needs to be done, right across the system, to make sure London remains an attractive and affordable place for nurses to work, so that local employers can recruit enough staff to deliver high quality patient care.”

The research, based on freedom of information responses from trusts, found that nine trusts employed fewer nurses than a year ago. Seven trusts were running vacancy rates of 19 per cent to 23 per cent.

Many of the new posts were at junior levels, prompting concern at a lack of oversight of patient safety on wards.

An NHS England (London) spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with Health Education England and trusts to ensure that adequate numbers are recruited into nurse education places at universities, which will help us meet future demand.

“We are also actively working to attract nurses who have left the profession to return to the health service through additional return to practice courses.

“A national review of nursing education is currently underway which will help ensure the capital can meet the future requirements of health care outlined in the NHS England Five Year Forward View and the London Health Commission.”

By George: warring parties agree deal over cancer centre and historic hall at Bart’s


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The surgeon who delivered Prince George has hailed a deal to preserve an historic hall that he feared was threatened by plans for a new cancer centre.

Sir Marcus Setchell led a celebrity-backed campaign to save the 300-year-old Great Hall at St Bartholomew’s hospital amid concerns of the impact of building a £5 million Maggie’s cancer centre alongside.

But a compromise deal was announced last Friday that will allow the modernist cancer support centre to be built – with a vow from hospital bosses to refurbish and protect the hall.

Sir Marcus, who was backed by actors including Dame Eileen Atkins, Edward Fox and Greg Wise, said the deal provided a “golden opportunity” to secure the future of the hall. It is part of the Grade 1-listed North Terrace at Bart’s and features two giant Hogarth medical murals on its staircase.

“We are pleased that all parties have recognised that the Great Hall’s needs must be met for it to survive and flourish,” Sir Marcus said. “This agreement provides the golden opportunity to get [these] architectural gems fit for purpose and bring them to life for all to enjoy and treasure.”

Sir Marcus had threatened to seek a judicial review to block the Maggie’s plans after they received planning permission from the City of London Corporation in July. He dubbed hospital bosses “philistines” for, in his view, failing to protect the historic nature of the 900-year-old site in Smithfield.

The design of the cancer centre will now be modified to allow the hall to share some of its facilities.

Laura Lee, chief executive of Maggie’s, said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have found a solution that works well for all parties and that we can move forwards with the important work of supporting people with cancer across North East London.

“St Bartholomew’s Hospital sees over 5,500 new cancer diagnoses a year, so there is a crucial need for the programme of support the new Maggie’s Centre will offer.”

‘Still waters run deep': daughter’s tribute to father killed cycling in London



The inquest into the death of a cyclist who died in hospital three weeks after being fatally injured in a car crash in Regent Street is due to be held at Westminster coroner’s court tomorrow.

Michael Mason was an experienced cyclist who had turned to teaching in the latter part of his working life. The Evening Standard news story about his death can be found here:

Prior to the inquest, his daughter Anna Tatton-Brown pays her own tribute:

“Mick was born in Newcastle in 1946, the second child to Violet and Alex Mason. He ended up being their only son; he had three sisters- Maureen, Monica and Patricia. He went to school at St Cuthberts in Newcastle where his fellow pupils remember his stylish dressing and hair. He was also very sporty- cycling 25 miles every day from his home in Whitley Bay to his school on the west side of Newcastle. From the earliest time he was also passionately interested in art, architecture and literature. Like his mother he was a real book-worm. After leaving school, he started a degree in architecture at prestigious School of Architecture in Newcastle University. He did one year, failed a minor part to do with engineering and left the course. He was greatly affected at this time by the early death of his father, Alex. This was one of those turns in life which, on reflection, he regretted. Mick and Angie became childhood sweethearts when he was a university student at 18/19 and she was a school girl of 16. This formed the start of a relationship which lasted for over 50 years until their divorce last year.

Having recovered from death of his father he eventually joined Angie at Leeds University. He studied for a degree in English and Fine Art, two of his passions. Whilst at University during the swinging sixties, they became pregnant. After much soul–searching, they decided to have the baby adopted to a family on the outskirts of Leeds. Only 6 people in the family knew about the birth of the child – such was the degree of shame at having a child out of wedlock. A few months later in August 1967 they got married.

Mick left University with his degree and worked for ICI in Cheshire for a few years as a management trainee. But life in industry and in sleepy Chester was not fast enough for Mick. He and Angie moved to London in the early 1970s when Mick began a very successful career in publishing, working for Haymarket. Everybody in those days working for Haymarket had to start off in sales. People joked that with Mick’s soft spoken voice and Geordie wit, he could sell ice cream to Eskimos. Still in publishing he moved to another big publishing company where he became Head of marketing and Promotion, putting himself and the company on the map. He was soon headhunted by another company, Harper and Row. The Americans took over this old established English publisher and mistook Mick’s quiet, understated ways and he left them soon afterwards with his white Alfa Romeo car and a decent payoff. With the money, he decided on a career change from corporate life which he was good at but hated. He trained for a year in design at a London college and embarked on design work – be it graphic or domestic. Eventually, he settled for building design, doing up one house after another. His biggest adventure was an old ruined Georgian house in Hampstead which he rescued and converted into a lovely home which was featured in Good Housekeeping.

A constant thread throughout his life was also his photography; a passionate and talented photographer, many pictures of Mick have him with his own camera draped around his neck. Before the advent of digital photography he had his own dark room and would develop his own images. He made the transition to digital easily though- filling up hard disks rather than boxes with photos and slides. He helped teach some of his students photography and also helped document some of the many events held at Gray Coats School.

With the arrival of his second daughter in 1981 Mick was in his element. Since day 1 there was an unshakeable bond between the two. He loved being a father and at heart was just a kid himself. From her early days, he took her out and about in London on the back of his bike in her white baby chair to visit the gorillas at Regent’s Park Zoo and to exhibitions in central London. She was only 5 days old when she was taken to a gallery. The bike was another regular presence throughout his life. Cycling was his mode of transport- wherever he needed to go to. When he worked at Elsevier, he would think nothing of cycling to Barking and back every day. He was adept at cycling on London’s streets, having done it since he moved here in the 70s. It was also a passion he passed on to his daughter.

He had the most mischievous sense of humour. At one of his daughter’s birthday parties he dressed up as a gorilla in secret, went outside and knocked on the window of the room where the children were eating. There was pandemonium as Mick mimicked the actions of a gorilla. Once he took his gorilla head off and revealed his identity, he had all the children clamoring all over him, wanting him to do it all over again.

It was his ability to enter into the world of children, to understand them, as well as having the patience of Job and good all-round knowledge that eventually led him to change career in his late 50s and train as a teacher. Having retrained, he began working as a cover teacher in Grey Coats School in Westminster where he worked until his death. He was much appreciated and liked by pupils and teachers.

Mick was a quiet, sensitive, unflamboyant man (except for his taste in bright clothes and necklaces, some of which he made himself), but as the old phrase goes ‘still waters run deep’. He was exceptionally intelligent, caring for others and, above all, a man who adored his family and would do anything for them. He was the solid ground upon which we all often stepped. Many of the tributes that have been paid to Mick applaud his good looks and good humour, the twinkle in his eye but, above all, his compassion.”

Pictured: Anna with her father Mick


What’s happening with Charing Cross hospital? Imperial College NHS Trust outlines the future in its own words …


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A couple of weeks ago I published a story about the future of Charing Cross hospital, based on an interview given by Dr Mark Spencer, clinical lead of the Shaping A Healthier Future programme in north-west London.

There were two main story lines from the interview: an inquiry had been requested to check whether recent A&E delays were a result of the closure of Hammersmith and Central Middlesex A&Es on September 10; and Dr Spencer’s revelation that a property developer had suggested redeveloping the tower building at Charing Cross hospital as residential flats.

Full versions of the stories are here:

In response to the story about Charing Cross hospital, Imperial College NHS Trust issued the following statement:

“We are still some way off clarifying what our new models of care should look like in practice on the Charing Cross site in order to meet changing needs. That has to be the priority before we begin to consider in detail, the design of the proposed new facilities and the sale of surplus land. And we have committed to involving patients, local communities and other stakeholders in that process too.

“As such, we can confirm that we are not in any discussions about the disposal of land at Charing Cross Hospital or about alternative uses for the tower block. We can also confirm that no decisions have been made about the future of A&E services at Charing Cross – we are still awaiting the outcome of the England-wide review of urgent and emergency care by Sir Bruce Keogh and Professor Keith Willett to inform our proposals for the future. Again, we are committed to involving local stakeholders in helping to shape these proposals.”

To me, the statement seemed to be puzzling – a bit of a “non-denial denial” by not specifically addressing points raised in the story. It also appeared to suggest a difference of opinion between the senior management team at Imperial and Shaping A Healthier Future.

I asked a series of follow-up questions for clarification. For the sake of completeness, here’s how Imperial responded:

1.       Do you disagree with what Dr Spencer outlined in terms of the “emergency centre” at Charing Cross – namely, that it will be run by GPs specialising in emergency medicine and emergency nurse practitioners, not have an intensive care unit, not receive “blue light” ambulances and will be part of an “emergency network” linking in with St Mary’s (and the four other major A&E units in west London), with emergency consultants available by phone or videoconferencing? If so, please can you outline your vision of the changes to the Charing Cross A&E?

•         We are still awaiting the outcome of the England-wide review of urgent and emergency care by Sir Bruce Keogh and Professor Keith Willett to inform what A&E should offer at Charing Cross. We are working closely with the CCGs on this and we are also committed to involving local stakeholders in helping to shape proposals.

2.       You say that “we” (ie Imperial College NHS Trust) are not in discussions about the disposal of land at Charing Cross or alternative uses for the tower block. Was Dr Spencer wrong to say that a developer had approached GPs/SaHF to suggest retaining the tower block and converting it into flats? Has Imperial ruled out converting part or all of the tower block into residential properties?

•         Dr Spencer is of course free to share information about any discussions that he has had. The Trust, with oversight by the NHS Trust Development Authority, is responsible for the Trust estate and we have not had any discussions about alternative uses of the tower block at Charing Cross. The Trust is working closely with the CCGs on clarifying what our new models of care should look like in practice on the Charing Cross site in order to meet changing needs. That has to be the priority before we begin to consider in detail, the design of the proposed new facilities and the sale of surplus land. And a vital part of this will be involving patients, local communities and other stakeholders in that process.

3.       Is Imperial unhappy and/or in disagreement with the SaHF vision of Charing Cross having its A&E replaced with an “emergency centre”, as outlined by Dr Spencer?

•         We are still some way off clarifying what our new models of care should look like in practice at Charing Cross Hospital, including the A&E service there. We are working closely with the CCGs on this and the outcome of Sir Bruce Keogh and Professor Keith Willett’s review of urgent and emergency care will guide our proposals.

4.       Is Imperial keen to take greater control of the future services provided in its hospitals under Shaping a Healthier Future? Has it now decided that it is less willing to accept the suggestions/recommendations/vision of SaHF and is effectively challenging the next stage of the programme?

•         The Shaping a healthier future programme is the regional strategic framework for the Trust’s own clinical strategy and vision for the future. The clinical strategy that we set out in July is fully in line with SaHF’s principles and the role it set out for our three main sites. When we published our clinical strategy, we also recognised that we needed to do more to engage our stakeholders, including patients and the public, in shaping and implementing our clinical changes.


‘A&E lite’ helps hospital to cut patient delays


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Patients are being treated more quickly at one of London’s busiest hospitals after it set up an “A&E lite” unit to filter off the less serious cases.

Up to 91 per cent of patients on the best days have been seen within the four-hour target at Queen’s hospital in Romford, where performance had fallen below 80 per cent.

Delays were so bad that five serious incidents were declared between May and September as a result of the amount of time it took to get patients out of ambulances.

The “Majors Lite” area, set up with £4 million of winter funding from NHS England, concentrates on patients who do not need to be admitted to hospital.

In addition, the elderly receiving unit at Queen’s A&E has been extended to 30 beds to treat the increasing number of frail and elderly patients.

Hospital bosses now hope to be able to meet the 95 per cent national A&E target by the spring due to the focus on discharging patients as soon as they are fit to go home.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust, which runs Queen’s and King George hospital in Ilford, has hit the target in only three of the last 51 months. Last week it managed to see 88 per cent of its 5,323 patients in time.

Sarah Tedford, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: “The initial findings from Majors Lite have been encouraging. With winter fast approaching, we are pro-actively introducing initiatives that will ensure our patients are seen and treated as quickly as possible.”

Last week a total of 91,787 people sought emergency care in London, with Barking, Havering and Redbridge the fifth busiest NHS trust. Delays across the capital meant 6,279 patients had to wait more than four hours to be seen.

Seven of the capital’s 19 NHS trusts failed to hit the national waiting target. London North West Healthcare trust was again the worst performer in the country for its main A&E units, with only 65.7 per cent of patients seen in time at Northwick Park and Ealing hospitals.

This was the fourth week in the last two months where the trust has been at the bottom of the national league tables.

London cycle medic volunteers to spend Christmas in Africa with Ebola victims


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A doctor who volunteers as a cycle medic is to spend Christmas in Africa helping victims of the Ebola epidemic.

Dr Neil Studd, 27, from Whitechapel, flies out to Sierra Leone on Sunday to join the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership, the London-based team leading the UK’s efforts in the capital Freetown.

Dr Studd (pictured above) has been a cycle responder with St John Ambulance London region’s cycle response unit for almost a decade. He will spend about a month in Sierra Leone treating patients arriving at the isolation unit at Connaught hospital.

There have been more than 7,300 people infected with the killer virus in Sierra Leone, of which about 1,600 have died. It is feared that Ebola cases are continuing to rise in the country.

Dr Studd said: “Watching the story unfold, I realised I had some skills which might help. I am used to working in a fast-paced environment where you need to make decisions very quickly and I’m hoping I will be able to help alleviate some of the suffering.

“It makes missing Christmas seem an irrelevance compared with the suffering people are going through.”

Dr Studd qualified at Bart’s and the London, now known as Barts Health, and currently works in the emergency department at Colchester hospital.

Ashley Sweetland, St John Ambulance manager and its national cycling officer, said: “Neil’s professionalism and dedication to making a difference to others shines through in his work with St John Ambulance. We’re proud to have such a selfless team member.”

See here for an update from Public Health England on the screening of suspected Ebola patients in the UK. A total of 113 tests have been done to date.


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