Chancellor: backing campaign for second air ambulance for London was easiest thing in the world

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From left: Alana McDonald, Dr Gareth Davies, George Osborne, Mary Macleod MP, LAA chief executive Graham Hodgkin

From left: Alana McDonald, Dr Gareth Davies, George Osborne, Mary Macleod MP, LAA chief executive Graham Hodgkin

George Osborne revealed it was “the easiest thing in the world” for him to help fund a second emergency helicopter for London after meeting a schoolgirl saved from a brain injury by its medics on her first day at school.

The Chancellor used a Downing Street reception to declare London’s Air Ambulance as “such a special cause” as he backed its £6 million appeal for a second aircraft.

He heard how medical director Dr Gareth Davies and paramedic Lee Bevin saved the life of Alana McDonald, then five, when she fell off a playground wall in Barnet and suffered bleeding to her brain. She was given drugs to ease the pressure on her brain, put into an induced coma and flown to the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel for life-saving neurosurgery.

Mr Osborne said: “Alana and the doctor have made the most eloquent case for this brilliant charity. None of us know when we might need this most incredible service.
“There are so many people whose lives have been literally saved by the brilliant teams who have turned up, as the doctor says, incredibly quickly.

“Mary [Macleod MP] brought to my attention the campaign for a second helicopter in London and it was the easiest thing in the world to say: of course this is something we should be supporting. I hope the campaign goes well. Long may you keep flying and saving lives.”

Dr Davies said Alana, now 12, sustained a fracture to her skull when she fell in September 2008. “The really dangerous bit was that Alana had a blood clot at the back of her head,” he said. “Her heart had nearly stopped and she wasn’t breathing. Her pupils were fixed and dilated.

“If it wasn’t for the helicopter getting us there quickly and, more importantly, getting the patient back to hospital, we would have a very different story.”

The Chancellor announced £250,000 to help the air ambulance find new offices and provide improved staff training. He has already given £1 million towards the cost of a second helicopter. About £4.4 million still needs to be raised by July.

A second helicopter would allow the service to operate for longer during daylight hours and would prevent the loss of air cover for 55 days a year for aircraft maintenance. The charity, which has flown 32,000 missions since its launch in 1989, can be supported at yourhelicopter.london

Case of Meirion Thomas and Royal Marsden hospital raised in Commons

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Hansard report from health questions, in the House of Commons today:

With reference to the recent Francis report, if he will investigate (a) the case of Meirion Thomas at the Royal Marsden hospital and (b) cases where staff have been disciplined or required to sign confidentiality agreements.[907661]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jane Ellison):

The Government welcome any individual who has the courage to shine a light on malpractice, wrongdoing or patient safety issues in the NHS, and the House will be well aware that that is something the Secretary of State has very much championed. Professor Thomas has a right to express his views on the health service and on wider issues, and I understand that the trust has confirmed that. The Department is not responsible for investigating cases involving individual members of staff, but I want to be clear that confidentiality agreements cannot be used to prevent individuals from making a protected disclosure in the public interest.

Mr Robathan:

I am glad to hear that, and I note that the Secretary of State has had dealings with Professor Thomas. However, I think it is very important that this is looked at closely in the light of the Francis report. If it is the case, as is said in media reports, that Professor Thomas has been forced to sign a confidentiality agreement—a so-called gagging order—I think that is disgraceful and shows a very dire state in the NHS in the Royal Marsden. Perhaps the Minister would like to comment on that.

Jane Ellison:

I can only reiterate this Government’s complete commitment to openness when it comes to patient safety and say again that confidentiality agreements cannot be used to prevent individuals from making a protected disclosure in the public interest.

For background to this story, see this report from The Spectator: http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9407312/the-curious-case-of-meirion-thomas/

200 staff air concerns after London hospitals become first in NHS to set up whistleblower service

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More than 200 staff at a London NHS trust have aired concerns after it became the first in the country to establish a confidential service for whistleblowers.

The service was set up by Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust (BHRUT) to improve the quality of care and patient safety at its two hospitals, Queen’s in Romford and King George in Ilford.

Patient champion Ashley Brooks

Patient champion Ashley Brooks

It is led by Ashley Brooks, a businessman who became a NHS motivational speaker and “patient champion” after he survived cancer thanks to the care he received at St Bartholomew’s hospital.

BHRUT is the only London trust in special measures and the “guardian service” is part of its improvement plan. Care Quality Commission inspectors are due to re-inspect the hospitals from March 2.

Mr Brooks, from Benfleet, Essex, said trust bosses had been “brave” to encourage staff to come forward. “They are the trailblazers,” he said. “They could have been damaged.

“Organisations that concentrate as much effort on their staff engagement as patient engagement will be the trusts at the end of the day that win out and give the best patient care.”

He began work at the trust in June 2013 as part of a nationwide patient care initiative in the wake of the Mid Staffordshire hospitals scandal. It became apparent that staff were in greater need.

“Within two weeks of being there, it was obvious to me they weren’t ready for patient engagement,” he said. “It was more staff engagement. The staff needed love and compassion – I can give that in spades.”

He uses his experience as a patient, when he was rushed into St Bartholomew’s 13 years ago. “I was a very, very sick man,” he said. “I spent seven months under their care. I received world-class care. Having leukaemia changed the course of my life because of the love I received from the NHS.”

He recognised the need for a whistleblowing service after a student nurse working at another London hospital broke down in tears in front of an audience as she told him of her concerns about unsafe care on an elderly people’s ward. The following day, she was locked in a cupboard for eight hours as punishment.

He said: “Someone could be working in the NHS and never had the chance to come forward before. People are absolutely fearful of reprisals. They think by raising concerns they’re asking for their P45 and they’re going to be bullied every day. I have stopped staff leaving, because of the guardian service.

“Everybody talks about patient-centred care and patient experience. Nobody really talks about how we deal with staff experience as well. Looking after our staff is as important as looking after our patients. Research shows that really well-looked after, valued staff get better outcomes.”

Trust chief executive Matthew Hopkins said: “It’s vitally important that we operate in a way that has our patients’ best interests at heart, and I have encouraged my staff to speak up if they know of any practices and processes that do not always put our patients first.”

It’s Sir Peter Rabbit! TfL boss Hendy leads hunt to recover child’s toy lost on bus

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Mimi Thomas with Bunny

Mimi Thomas with Bunny

A mother today praised London transport commissioner Sir Peter Hendy after he personally led the hunt to track down a toy bunny rabbit her daughter lost on a bus.

Alex Mannion, 36, said she was “so grateful” to Sir Peter for helping to reunite her four-year-old Mimi with the soft toy that she calls Bunny.

The Transport for London boss intervened after BBC London radio presenter Eddie Nestor broadcast Ms Mannion’s emailed appeal while he was in the studio for a regular phone-in.

Ms Mannion, a freelance illustrator from Vauxhall currently on maternity leave after giving birth to a son, Inigo, five weeks ago, was on either a 36 or 436 bus to take Mimi swimming during school half-term last Wednesday.

“Normally I check she has Bunny with her when she gets off the bus, but because I had the baby and a big bag I didn’t look,” she told the Standard. “After swimming we got home and Bunny wasn’t there.

“Mimi was distraught. We looked everywhere. I said if it’s on the bus, we’ll have to call lost property, but they were shut by that time. She said: ‘Mummy, we have got to get Bunny.’ I promised we would get Bunny back, which was a dangerous thing to do.”

Bunny girl 1

A TfL spokeswoman said that Sir Peter, on hearing the appeal, immediately phoned colleagues at Go-Ahead, the bus company that operates the two routes. A call was put out on the bus radio network and Bunny was found. After spending the night at New Cross bus garage, he was driven to Vauxhall bus station to be reunited with Mimi last Thursday.

Ms Mannion said: “Sir Peter Hendy totally took the story to heart and took it upon himself to find Bunny. He got on the phone to all the big-wigs and they found it. I received an email an hour later telling me that Sir Peter Hendy had been the person to track Bunny down. Everybody realises how important a toy is to a kid.

“When I told her they had found Bunny she jumped up and ran around hysterically. She grabbed him and clutched him in a childlike way to her chest.

“I know the transport system creates problems for everybody all the time, but in this case they went out of their way to help us. Sir Peter Hendy was the saviour – he saved the day.”

It was not the first time that Bunny, which Mimi has had since birth, had gone missing. Ms Mannion previously found him in the road near Oval station, missing his eyes, tail and much of his stuffing, and had to sew him back together again.

“He is now banned from travelling,” she said. “He has had his passport revoked. I just can’t take her losing him again.”

Barts boss quits after trust posts biggest financial black hole in NHS

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The chief executive of Britain’s biggest hospital trust today announced he was quitting after regulators expressed concerns at its looming £93 million deficit.

Peter Morris will leave Barts Health this summer in the wake of worsening financial pressures and concerns over patient care and staff bullying.

The deficit – the biggest ever recorded by a NHS trust – sparked demands for change from the Trust Development Authority, leading to Mr Morris’s departure. Chief nurse Kay Riley is also leaving the trust, which runs six east London hospitals including St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London.

NHS watchdog the Care Quality Commission recently found staff at Whipps Cross hospital were too frightened to reveal their concerns for fear of being bullied by managers.

Whipps Cross has been the subject of intense pressure at its A&E department. Patient care concerns have also been raised by patients at the Royal London, in Whitechapel.

Barts Health has just released this statement:

After six years as Chief Executive, during which he has overseen the merger of three hospital trusts in east London, led the largest NHS Trust in England through a period of unprecedented change and delivered the biggest hospitals redevelopment project in the country, Chief Executive, Peter Morris, has announced his intention to step down, allowing the process for the appointment of a successor to begin and an orderly hand-over to take place. Peter has agreed to continue in his role while the selection process is undertaken.

Peter Morris said: “When I joined Barts and The London NHS Trust, I set myself a target of five years to overhaul the fragile network of acute services that were operating in east London, and deliver the improvements to local healthcare that were so desperately needed. Barts Health is now well established and many of its services are achieving national recognition for excellence in clinical care. I will shortly be bringing together the specialist cardiovascular services of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, the London Chest Hospital and the Heart Hospital into stunning new facilities at the Barts Heart Centre, which will create one of the largest cardiovascular centres in the world.

“As Barts Health moves towards Foundation Trust status there is a need for senior management continuity to provide leadership for the next five years, and beyond. That is a long-term commitment that I am not able to make and so I feel the time is right for me to hand over to a new chief executive, and start the next chapter in my own career. I will look to take my extensive learning and experience in the healthcare sector to help others develop and deliver their own strategic plans.”

Sir Stephen O’Brien, Chairman of Barts Health NHS Trust, said:

“Peter has been an inspirational leader at Barts, seeing through one of the most far reaching service transformations ever attempted within the NHS with the merger that created Barts Health. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his tremendous achievements and to wish him well in his future career. I have asked Peter to ensure continuity by staying on until the summer and he has agreed to do that. Our search for a new chief executive will begin immediately.”

Notes to Editors:

Among the achievements that Peter Morris has overseen as Chief Executive of Barts Health NHS Trust are:
• Top 5 nationally for mortality rates: with a Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) of 0.80, the Trust is the fourth best in the country according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

• The creation of Barts Health NHS Trust. The new trust was formed on 1 April 2012 by the merger of Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust in Leytonstone, Newham University Hospital NHS Trust in Plaistow and Barts and The London NHS Trust, including Barts Hospital in the City, The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, The London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green and services at Mile End Hospital. The creation of Barts Health was driven by the strong desire of all three trusts to improve the quality of healthcare in east London and to support the financial sustainability of health services at a time of growing pressure on NHS finances.

• Delivering the £1.1bn PFI project that saw the opening of three new hospitals: The new Royal London (including a new Dental Hospital); The Barts Cancer Centre; and the Barts Heart Centre. The opening of the new Royal London Hospital was the most complex hospital move undertaken in the UK, bringing together under one roof the hospital’s clinical teams, providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide a health legacy to a community with some of the most challenging health needs anywhere in the developed world.

• Barts Health recognised as best in stroke care. According to the results of the latest audit published by The Royal College of Physicians, The Royal London, home to the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit (HASU), provides the best care to stroke patients in London. The audit looked at eight different areas in the patient experience – starting at diagnosis right through to rehabilitation. The hospital gained 97.5% in the overall audit and 100% in seven of the eight areas of care.

• Already recognised internationally as leaders in trauma care, The Royal London took a key role in establishing the London trauma network, which has gone on to save countless lives in caring for some of the most seriously injured patients across London.

• Barts Health established as leaders in clinical research. As well as being among the top performers for recruiting patients for clinical research, Barts Health is host for the region’s governance of £28m of National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funding and are the lead organisation for clinical research in north/north east London, Essex and Hertfordshire.

• With a turnover of £1.25 billion and a workforce of 14,000, Barts Health NHS Trust is the largest NHS Trust in the country, and one of Britain’s leading healthcare providers. The Trust’s six hospitals – St Bartholomew’s (Barts) Hospital in the City, The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, The London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, Newham University Hospital in Plaistow, Mile End Hospital and Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone – and its community health services for Tower Hamlets, deliver high quality compassionate care to the 2.5 million people of east London and beyond. Barts Health is founding partner in University College London Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre. The trust with its main academic partner Queen Mary University of London, has a NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit, is a CRUK Centre of Excellence, and hosts an NIHR CLAHRC and the North Thames Clinical Research Network.

Ealing hospital midwives: our department is rotting away in front of our eyes

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Midwives today warned that pregnant women could be placed at risk by the imminent closure of a London maternity unit.

They said the unit, at Ealing hospital, was “rotting away in front of our eyes” due to uncertainty over its future. Staff have quit and about 150 mothers-to-be a month are being left unsure where they will give birth.

The letter, endorsed by about 90 of the hospital’s 120 midwives and passed to the Evening Standard, raises new questions about the Shaping A Healthier Future centralisation of A&E and maternity services in west London “super hospitals”.

The warning, copied to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said there had been “a systematic erosion of highly-skilled and valued individuals and an indescribable loss to the midwifery profession”.

It added: “We fear for our futures and for the future of the women we care for… How many mothers’ lives will be lost?”

Ealing clinical commissioning group had been expected to confirm last month that Ealing’s maternity unit would close in March. But a decision is now not due until next month at the earliest – with officials unable to say how long the unit will remain open.

Last week, the Care Quality Commission criticised Hillingdon hospital for “inadequate” numbers of midwives – sparking fears it will be unable to cope with extra births diverted from Ealing.

Hillingdon declared maternity alerts four times last September, and was forced to close its doors on one occasion, because it was struggling with the number of admissions and there was a risk of unsafe care. Home births had to be suspended twice when midwives were required on wards, inspectors found.

Last year the CQC raised concerns about other west London hospitals safeguarded under the Shaping A Healthier Future plan. St Mary’s, Chelsea and Westminster and Northwick Park were all found to be requiring improvement – with the latter’s maternity department judged “inadequate”.

A Shaping A Healthier Future spokeswoman said 91 per cent of Ealing midwives had received their first-choice transfer to another hospital.

She said: “Throughout this process we have had many conversations with midwives and understand their frustrations. The expertise of our dedicated and knowledgeable staff is critical to us.

“The delays have occurred because we need to be assured that the new arrangements are clinically safe for mothers – a priority we share with our staff.”

Hillingdon hospital said the CQC report was “fair” and efforts were being made to recruit more permanent staff. Chief executive Shane DeGaris said: “We aim to provide the highest standards of care to all our patients and we will use this report to help us make improvements wherever they are needed.”

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Click here to download the letter sent by Ealing CCG in response to the midwives: Response_Ealing_Midwives_FINAL_15 02 12

Mini Holland cycling boroughs told to ‘pull your finger out’ and follow Walthamstow’s lead

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The politician behind the first “Mini Holland” safer cycle scheme in London today urged other boroughs to “pull your finger out” and follow suit.

Waltham Forest council’s cabinet unanimously approved plans to block roads in Walthamstow’s “village” heritage area to deter rat-running motorists and encourage walking and cycling.

Concern is mounting at City Hall that a lack of political will could see Kingston and Enfield councils abandon plans to implement similar “Dutch-style” measures after each won £30 million in funding from Transport for London to help deliver Boris Johnson’s “cycling revolution” in the suburbs. Eighteen boroughs had bid for the cash, with just three winners.

After Waltham Forest gave the go-ahead to its scheme on Tuesday, Clyde Loakes, the Labour council’s deputy leader, told me his message to the other boroughs was: “Pull your finger out. What are you waiting for? You bid for the money. Now deliver.”

Waltham Forest agreed to begin to implement permanent changes to roads from next week after a two-week trial last September resulted in 5,000 fewer vehicle movements in the area. Roadworks are due to be completed by July. The cost of the scheme is £749,000.

The trial closures, which included a series of banned turns that made it near-impossible for traffic to cut through residential areas, divided the community and caused long tailbacks on main roads including Lea Bridge Road and Hoe Street.

A council consultation found 44 per cent of residents responding backed the closures and traffic management measures, while 41 per cent were opposed. But 74 per cent said they wanted a safer environment, with 13 per cent opposed.

For previous coverage of the Mini Holland scheme, see here: https://rosslydall.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/4500-homes-to-be-asked-if-walthamstows-mini-holland-cycle-scheme-should-be-permanent/

See here for a video of rat-running traffic in Orford Road the day after the trial scheme ended:

Mr Loakes said: “We need to remember why we wanted to do this. We wanted to be bold and ambitious.

“Just because cycling isn’t the number one form of getting around the place in this borough, in this country, in this great city, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to redress that and make things better for the future.”

Council leader Chris Robbins said: “This administration is not only fully supportive of this scheme, but will be actively promoting it and promoting it with other boroughs and extending it where we can in future years. That will create the quality of life that we consider our residents deserve.”

He added:  “I’m a regular car user. I hardly know what a bike looks like. It’s not about car v bike or car v pedestrian. It’s about getting that balance right, and ensuring children can grow up safely and families can get out their front door.”

Similar schemes will now be introduced elsewhere in the borough and proposals will continue to build a largely-segregated cycle superhighway on Lea Bridge Road.

Full transcript of taxi chief’s comparison of London cyclists to Islamic terror group Isis

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Relations between taxi drivers and cyclists threatened to hit a new low today when it emerged that the leader of London’s cabbies had compared some riders to the Islamic terror group responsible for beheading its victims.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said cyclists who campaigned vociferously for the Mayor’s cycle superhighways were “almost the sort of Isis of London”.

He said the LTDA had been “lambasted by the cycling community” when it first announced that it was considering seeking a judicial review of the cycle superhighway proposals – a position it maintains unless a temporary trial is introduced before any work to make the schemes permanent.

He told LBC radio:

These people, the zealots of the cycling world, are unbelievable. We have had cyber attacks on our websites. They are all over us like a cheap suit on Twitter and social media. We have had physical threats of violence. You name it, we have had it. It’s absolutely unreal.

“The loonies out there in the cycling world, they’re almost the sort of Isis of London. Their views and their politics – if you are not with them, and we are with the majority of it, then nothing is too bad for you. These people are unreal.

Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor’s cycling tsar, said: “It’s a remarkable thing to say and illustrates how badly a few people are getting this issue out of proportion.”

This morning Mr McNamara told me that he had probably gone too far but said he had received a series of “death threats” as a result of the LTDA’s stance. Mr McNamara insisted the LTDA backed the principle of the cycle superhighways as a way to improve safety but was extremely concerned at changes to traffic flow at Westminster bridge and around Parliament Square.

He said motorists heading north over Westminster bridge would no longer be able to turn right at Big Ben onto the Embankment. In addition, drivers heading west on the Embankment would not be able to turn right before Big Ben, forcing them round Parliament Square. He said a better route for the superhighway would be along Northumberland Avenue, avoiding any need for it to cut through Parliament Square.

He told me in relation to the Isis remarks: “Perhaps I would accept that was a bit strong. It was a live interview. I have had death threats. They say, ‘I hope people you know die screaming of cancer’. I’m convinced that if 99 per cent of cyclists knew some of the stuff we had received after expresing legitimate concerns, they would be horrified.

“I’m not going to be intimidated. I don’t take them seriously. We have not reported anything to the police because I don’t think there is anything in them. I think it’s just a few loonies, but they really have got a sort of religious zeal.

“Perhaps that was a bit strong [to compare them to Isis] but I can’t think of a single other movement in the world at the moment that behaves in such a vitriolic and aggressive manner.”

‘I feel like I am dead inside': heartbreaking statement from partner of cyclist killed by careless driver

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Kevin Lane and Angela Cook

Kevin Lane and Angela Cook

This is the victim impact statement from Angela Cook, partner of Kevin Lane, that she read to Snaresbrook Crown Court prior to the sentencing of the driver who caused his death:

Kevin wasn’t someone who just commuted to work by cycle, he loved cycling. He used to be semi-profession in his 20’s, and knew everything there was to know about cycling. He built his own bikes, built his own wheels; his training ride was a 70 mile round trip which he would do 3 times per week – just because he enjoyed it. He was in training for a race on his usual training ride when unfortunately Kevin, he was taken from us.

Kevin believed every person had the right to cycle safely and free from accidents on our roads. If Kevin had seen the car coming towards him he was more than experienced to have got out of the way. There have been times when I have been angry towards him for not seeing the car, until I realised he didn’t stand a chance.

Kevin used to have to put up with careless drivers all the time – he would often chase after a driver and more often than not catch up with them and knock on their car window trying to warn them to look out for cyclists on the road. He was a very careful cyclist and was always well prepared for the road – he felt so free when cycling and all his cares fell away.

In Kevin’s work as a CCTV analyst for Go-Ahead buses, he worked closely with the police, often going to court to provide witness testaments. Just before he was killed he was up for an award from the police for all his hard work.

Kevin was able to fix absolutely everything – cars, computers, electrics, gas, plumbing, carpentry, woodwork – I now struggle to find people to fix things when they go wrong.

Obviously there are financial implications as well, where as before we had 2 wages coming in I now have to cope with everything on my own in my own way.

He was incredibly clever, kind, compassionate, fair, just, caring, trustworthy, incredibly reliable and honest. As soon as you met him you could see what a good man he was.

Kevin Lane

Kevin Lane

Kevin was my best friend, my confidant, and my life partner. We lived together for the past 9 years and were best friends for 3 years before that. Kevin was taken away from me with no chance for me to say goodbye to him. The last conversation we had was about cooking a chicken – I didn’t even get to say goodbye. I had been to visit my nan on the day he was killed, and I have only just been able to re trace my steps of that awful day and visit her again. Kevin and I were supposed to grow old together. All our hopes and dreams for the future have been taken, along with our hopes of setting us a business in Scotland, and most importantly, the chance for me to have had children.

I don’t feel secure or safe at home on my own anymore – every little noise wakes me. All my neighbours have to keep checking on me to ensure I am OK.

I now come home to an empty house every night; I often just sit in my car as I can’t bring myself to go through the front door to emptiness. I struggle to sleep without him by my side. I wake up without him, I go to bed without him, and it’s so lonely every evening.  I go through stages where I don’t eat – Kevin taught me how to cook and I used to cook every night for him, now I don’t even want to venture into the kitchen.

I just about manage to get up in the morning.  I now have to try live the rest of my life without this great man next to me and I don’t know where to start.  I have been robbed of Kevin and I have been robbed of my future.

I feel like I am dead inside – Kevin was my life – we shared and talked about everything. I miss talking to him so much and I’m never sure of any decisions I make any more as I don’t have my sounding board. I will never have his arms around me to reassure me when I need it, he’s not there to look after me when I am ill. It’s so lonely without him.

I met Kevin was I was 22. I have known Kevin for nearly all my adult life – and I don’t know how to carry on living my life without him in it.

I feel lost and my whole life has been turned upside down. I am now 35 years old and  a Widow.

My news report on the sentencing of driver Marjorie Tappenden appears in the Evening Standard today: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/if-you-want-to-kill-someone-get-in-a-car-justice-is-a-joke-victims-girlfriend-attacks-sentence-as-pensioner-is-spared-jail-over-cyclists-death-10020489.html

Full details of judge’s summing-up after driver admits killing cyclist Kevin Lane

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The driver who admitted causing the death of cyclist Kevin Lane due to her careless driving walked free from court last Friday afternoon after being given a 12-month community order and banned from the road for three years.

See here for my report in today’s Evening Standard on the sentencing of Marjorie Tappenden and the anger from Mr Lane’s partner, Angela Cook, that justice has been shown to be a “joke”: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/if-you-want-to-kill-someone-get-in-a-car-justice-is-a-joke-victims-girlfriend-attacks-sentence-as-pensioner-is-spared-jail-over-cyclists-death-10020489.html

Below is as full a shorthand note as I was able to take from the summing up of the judge at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Judge William Kennedy said: “There is nothing that I can say to make this better. This is a tragedy for both sides in this court. I’m desperately sorry for all of you in the situation you find yourselves in.

“On the one hand, we had a decent man who was loved and cared for, who went riding his bike, for leisure, for health, as part of his ordinary enjoyment of life.

“On the other hand, a blameless character who has never before been involved in any incident. Quite simply, she pushed the wrong pedal. Of course, frozen to the spot, it took moments for the car to stop. Long moments. Moments which effectively took the life of the cyclist. The whole thing was a single source of error, with those dreadful results.

“I must disqualify her from driving and say she must pass an extended test were she ever to drive again.

“There are no winners here. There are only losers in this room. That is a tragedy. Motor vehicles are lethal. Those who drive them are expected to do so with skill, with care, so far as possible, in a way that guarantees the absolute need for safety for those on the roads who need protected, such as cyclists. These were a few seconds which simply had desperate consequences.”

Judge Kennedy, who said he lived in Woodford Green and knew the junction well, said the maximum sentence that could be imposed for causing death by careless driving was five years, and then only after a trial in which the defendant had pleaded not guilty, and where there were a series of “aggravating factors”.

Such factors included taking a car without consent, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the driver having previous offences, there being more than one person killed or suffering serious injuries, and the driver failing to stop afterwards. None of these features applied in this case, he said. Also, Mrs Tappenden, whose alcohol reading was zero, had pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at the earliest opportunity, entitling her to a third reduction in her sentence.

He referred to the question of the defendant’s remorse: “Certainly the probation service have heard her to express remorse. While this whole thing is a dreadful blur, she has said she will think about it every day for the rest of her life.”

Judge Kennedy said that the Criminal Justice Act 2003 set out the guidelines for sentences – punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation.

“Nowhere is mentioned revenge,” he said. “I don’t think I can say or do anything to this elderly lady more eloquent than that she says to herself.

“All of us dread that dreadful moment that we have not thought or concentrated as much as we would like. She won’t drive again. Her life will become that of looking after her husband. That is as eloquent a punishment and as comprehensive a deterrent as I think anyone could advise. I’m not sending this 74-year-old to prison. It’s not within my power to do so. It would not be just to do so.

“There will be a community order for the period of 12 months. Of course, she is disqualified for three years. She cannot drive again without an extended driving test.”

Turning to Ms Cook and Mr Lane’s family, he said: “I have not been able to help you at all. All of you must move on. I would have to be made of stone not to have been moved by each and every syllable [of Ms Cook’s statement]. But there is life at the end of this for you. I very much hope that life starts now.”

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