By Clare Jerrom and Alex Dobson.
Survey reveals double risk of epilepsy drug
Babies born to women who took an epilepsy drug during pregnancy,
are almost twice as likely to have birth defects than those on
other epilepsy treatment, according to a new study.
An audit of more than 2,000 pregnant women found the drug sodium
valporate carrying a far greater risk.
GPs continue to prescribe the drug to pregnant women without
referring them for expert medical opinion.
A recent survey by the British Epilepsy Association found out of
6,000 who had given birth, a third had received no advice during
Women taking sodium valoprate have a 7 per cent risk of giving
birth to babies with deformities including spina bifida, heart
disease and skeletal deformities. More have lesser problems
including severe learning difficulties.
Women on alternative medication such as lamotrigine have the
risk reduced to 3 per cent.
Source:- The Times Friday 25 January page 2
Prisons conflict as militant wins union
The prison service could face industrial conflict after a man
accused of obstructing change at a young offenders’
institution won the race to lead 30,000 prison officers.
Andrew Darkin was moved against his will from Feltham young
offenders institution last year, and Whitehall and senior prison
service managers have greeted his victory to become chairperson of
the Prison Officers Association with dismay.
A prison service source said: “This is not good news. It is a
setback and we expect trouble.”
Darkin, who is considered a militant, was forced out of his job
as chairperson of the Prison Officers Association at Feltham
following a highly critical report.
Martin Narey, director general of the service, said at the time:
“The governor confirms my view that the major obstacle to making
Feltham a good and decent establishment has been removed by the
transfer of the chairman.
“He has not done anything that was a disciplinary matter. I just
think he obstructed change for too long.”
Source:- The Times Friday 25 January page 7
Elderly not using nurse helpline
Older people, ethnic minorities and people with learning
difficulties are not using the nurse-run helpline NHS Direct,
according to a report out today.
The National Audit Office also points out that one in five
callers has to wait 30 minutes for a nurse to return their call,
and only 64 per cent of callers were able to talk to a nurse within
The report claims that, although 90 per cent of those who use
the service are happy with it, the most vulnerable are either
unaware of it or do not use it.
Source:- The Times Friday 25 January page 8
‘Catch all’ crime to tighten law on child
An overhaul of Britain’s laws on sex offences including a
new crime of adult sexual activity with a child and a reform of the
rape law, are to be introduced into parliament this year.
The new catch all criminal offence recognises that sexual
activity between adults and children is unacceptable, and some
cases are so serious they warrant a life sentence.
Ministers also want to tackle the low conviction rate of 9 per
cent on rape by defining consent by setting the prosecution the
lower test of proving that the victim had not given their
“voluntary and genuine agreement”.
The government will also tell police and courts to start
recording child sex abuse cases immediately so they appear
separately in the official crime figures.
Source:- The Guardian Friday 25 January page 2
30% of children ‘live in
There are proportionately double the amount of poor children
living in poverty in Britain than Germany, according to a study for
the Anglo-German Foundation.
There are around 30 per cent of British children living in
families with a household income of less than 60 per cent of the
national average, against a German figure of 19 per cent.
Source:- The Guardian Friday 25 January page 6
Abuse trawl is criticised
Campaigners for Derek Brushett, who is serving a 12-year jail
sentence for abusing boys at the Bryn-y-Don home in South Wales,
have given written evidence to a House of Commons committee
investigating possible miscarriages of justice arising from
investigations into alleged abuse at the children’s home.
One of the campaigners said that that they were hoping to bring
about the release of Brushett and all others “who have been
convicted on uncorroborated evidence solicited mainly from career
criminals who have received huge financial rewards for their false
Source:- South Wales Echo Thursday January 24 page
Call to press for ban on smacking
The National Assembly is being urged to call for a ban on the
smacking of children. Members have been told that children in the
Principality are denied the protection given to young people in
Germany and France, as well as Scotland.
Assembly members from all parties have backed the call. Social
services minister Jane Hutt said she had considerable personal
sympathy with the idea.
Source:- Western Mail Friday January 25 page 5
Staff shortages hit health plans
Serious stag shortages are jeopardising improvements to
A National Assembly report says that steps need to be taken to
train more staff if planned improvements are not to be affected. To
help run the NHS, more than 500 people recruited from overseas are
currently in post in Wales.
Source:- South Wales Argus Thursday, January 24, page
Oliver net trawls babies
Detectives trying to trace the mother of an abandoned baby, Oliver,
are to check on more than 700 boys born in south east Wales in
October last year.
The baby was found in the front garden of a house in Newport.
Source:- Western Mail Friday January 25 page 1
Scheme aims to help valleys
A major programme to boost regeneration – Community First
– is designed to ensure that local people take part in
community projects and make a difference to their lives. The
project will run for 10 years in some of the most deprived areas of
Wales. Organisers say they want to create a `can-do’
Source:- South Wales Argus Thursday January 24 page