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A father of four has said he is “constantly fighting the NHS” to get the care his two severely disabled sons need – and his fears about the future grow as he sees friends in similar situations putting their children into care.

Paul and his husband Michael Atwal-Brice adopted Levi and Lucas when the children were babies.

Now aged 16 and diagnosed with autism and epilepsy – among other disabilities – both parents have had to leave their jobs to care for them full-time.

They also care for Lotan and Lance, twin boys without any disabilities.

“Everything is just a battle with the NHS,” Paul, from Thurnscoe in South Yorkshire, told Sky News.

“Unless you’re prepared to stand up and fight, you get nothing.”

The two teens have been left waiting for NHS care at every stage.

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Levi’s epilepsy means he requires frequent hospitalisation.

When Paul last had to call an ambulance – while the family were away on holiday – they had to wait 45 minutes, despite the fact Levi was bleeding heavily from the head. He had fallen while having a seizure and hit his head on a door frame.

“Once the seizures had stopped, he gets graded down to a category two, so the wait gets longer.

“Even though we were telling them he can’t wait because he won’t even let us touch his head and blood was going everywhere. It doesn’t matter.

“And this was before the latest strikes and challenges this winter.”

Once they had made it to the hospital, they then had to wait more than four hours in a hospital corridor to be seen.

“It was awful. Levi is severely autistic and non-verbal and he gets upset very easily so he was screaming the corridors down, upsetting other people, but they couldn’t move him.”

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Paul and Michael have both given up work to care for their children

‘Friends are putting their children into care’

Levi and Lucas are both nearing adulthood, which leaves Paul fearing for their future.

“All the services are being cut back,” he said.

“The health service is a fight and struggle to get anywhere.

“A lot of friends of ours are putting their children into full-time care because they can’t cope with all the services being cut back, and this costs thousands and thousands a year to do this, a cost which the NHS has to pick up.

“It doesn’t make sense.”

Both boys need appointments every six weeks, but amid growing pressure on the National Health Service, this has been cut back to three months – and is often even six because clinicians cannot fit them in.

“It’s disgraceful,” said Paul. “Something needs to be done to fix this. These are life-saving appointments for the boys.”

Wendy Lowder, Barnsley executive director for place health and adult social care at NHS South Yorkshire said: “I’m really saddened about the experiences we’ve heard about from this family.

“Having a seamless transition between services when you reach 16 is so important to families at this time. Our teams have worked closely with the family to resolve all the issues they have experienced.

“We are now reviewing how the supply of these sorts of items works better for any families in the same situation in the future.”

Two months without food syringes

The teens are very underweight, so they have to be syringe fed fibre drinks from a dietician, but the hospital has said they can’t prescribe them any more.

Instead, the family has to get them via the GP.

But a communication breakdown left them without the required food for two months.

“We went to the GP just before Christmas and they didn’t know anything about it. They said they couldn’t order them either.”

Instead, Paul and Michael had to try and feed them with a plastic IKEA beaker, which turned out to be a “disaster”.

“They had liquid running down them as they couldn’t take the quantity, so there was a lot of waste and upset.

“We were promised we’d have a delivery to the house over Christmas, but it never came.”

South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been contacted for comment.

A £5,000 energy bill

The family’s energy bills are going up £1,500 a year and they are estimated to pay almost £5,000 for their gas and electric in the next 12 months.

“Electric bills are our biggest worry of all.

“They’ve got to a stage where we can no longer carry them safely up and down stairs so we’ve had to have a lift fitted in the house. We can’t not have that going, it needs to be powered by electricity all the time.

“They have seizures all the time and the lift is literally a lifesaver.”

Meanwhile, the washing machine is constantly running because the boys are incontinent, and bedsheets and clothing have to be changed all the time.

The NHS will only provide four nappies a day to the family: “This is crazy. How can you tell the boys that they can only wee and poo four times a day? You wouldn’t do that to anyone.

“Their beds are electric, they have a therapy bath that also runs on power and their sensory room is full of calming lights and sounds that also cost money.

“In addition to all this, we are now spending £120 on fuel a week.”

Kicking off a major ongoing project on the future of the National Health Service, an hour-long debate into the future of the NHS will take place this evening, live from University Hospital Coventry.

It begins at 7pm and will be hosted by Sky News presenter Anna Botting alongside a special panel.

If you are an NHS worker and would like to share your experiences with us anonymously, please email NHSstories@sky.uk.

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Man dies after being crushed by pop-up telescopic urinal in London’s West End

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Man dies after being crushed by pop-up telescopic urinal in London's West End

A maintenance worker in central London has died after being crushed by a hydraulic telescopic urinal – one that’s kept underground during the day and kept out overnight.

Emergency services were called to Cambridge Circus in the West End just after 1pm on Friday to reports of a “seriously injured” man.

The incident took place outside the Palace Theatre, home to Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

Firefighters, ambulance crews and an air ambulance were deployed at 1.05pm and police were called five minutes later.

Emergency services tried to save the man, who has not been named, but he died at the scene.

Emergency services work to free the man. Pic: KetoCancerQueen
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Emergency services worked to free the man. Pic: KetoCancerQueen

In a statement on Twitter, Metropolitan Police said: “We’re sorry to have to update that, despite the efforts of emergency services, the man who was critically injured in Cambridge Circus was pronounced dead at the scene.

“His next of kin have been informed. Cordons remain in place at the location.

“Police were called at around 1.10pm on Friday January 27, to a seriously injured man at Cambridge Circus, W1.

“The man is thought to have sustained crush injuries while working on a telescopic urinal at the location.”

A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called today at 1.05pm to reports of an incident on Shaftesbury Avenue, Charing Cross.

“We sent a number of resources to the scene, including an ambulance crew, members of our hazardous area response team, members of our tactical response unit and a medic in a fast response car.

“We also dispatched London’s Air Ambulance.”

Roads in the area have been closed.

The telescopic or hydraulic urinal is a pop-up urinal that comes out of the ground at night and is stored underground during the day.

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Wynter Andrews: Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust fined £800,000 over baby’s death 23 minutes after birth

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Wynter Andrews: Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust fined £800,000 over baby's death 23 minutes after birth

An NHS trust has been fined £800,000 for a “catalogue of failings and errors” that led to the death of a baby 23 minutes after she was born.

Wynter Andrews died in the arms of her parents, Sarah and Gary Andrews, on 15 September 2019 due to a lack of oxygen to the brain, shortly after an emergency Caesarean section at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

Sarah and Gary Andrews arrive at Nottingham Magistrates' Court
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Sarah and Gary Andrews arrive at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust had admitted two counts of failing to provide safe care and treatment resulting in harm and loss at a court hearing on Wednesday.

Sentencing at the city’s magistrates’ court on Friday, district judge Grace Leong said: “The catalogue of failings and errors exposed Mrs Andrews and her baby to a significant risk of harm which was avoidable, and such errors ultimately resulted in the death of Wynter and post-traumatic stress for Mrs Andrews and Mr Andrews.

“My assessment is that the level of culpability is high, where offences on Wynter and Mrs Andrews are concerned.

“There were systems in place, but there were so many procedures and practices where guidance was not followed or adhered to or implemented.”

District judge Leong added the “systematic failures” were “more than sufficient” to cause harm to Wynter and her mother.

She said the total fine, combining the sums for offences against both Wynter and Mrs Andrews, would have been £1.2m, but this was reduced to £800,000 due to the trust’s early guilty pleas.

The judge also said she was “acutely aware” any fine would have to be paid out of public funds which would otherwise be spent on patient care.

The trust, which will pay prosecution costs of £13,668.65 and a victim surcharge of £181, has asked for two years to pay the fine.

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Baby deaths mystery from 1930s solved

Speaking outside the court, Mrs Andrews said she hoped the significant fine “sends a clear message to trust managers that they must hold patient safety in the highest regard”.

She added: “Sadly, we are not the only family harmed the trust’s failings.

“We feel that this sentence isn’t just for Wynter, but it’s for all the other babies that have gone before and after her.”

Mrs Andrews has previously said she was “failed in the most cruel way” by the trust and its management had been “repeatedly warned by staff about safety at the unit” but “failed to act”.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which inspects health services in England, said last July that it would prosecute the trust.

The maternity unit at the QMC was rated as inadequate by the CQC, with the hospital overall rated as requiring improvement, when it was inspected last March.

Mrs Andrews was admitted to hospital on 14 September 2019, her planned due date, after an “uncomplicated” pregnancy.

An induced labour planned for 7 September was cancelled on her request, but an investigation later found this was signed off by a midwife without consulting an obstetrician, and limited reasoning was given for the decision in medical notes.

Once Mrs Andrews was in labour, Wynter’s heartbeat was described as “suspicious” by doctors, who decided to deliver her via caesarean section.

After complications during the surgery, she was delivered in a “poor” condition and died 23 minutes and 30 seconds later despite “extensive efforts” to resuscitate her.

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Jeremy Hunt confirms HS2 will reach central London after reports it might stop in suburbs

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Jeremy Hunt confirms HS2 will reach central London after reports it might stop in suburbs

HS2 will end at Euston after reports the high speed line could stop before reaching central London, the chancellor has confirmed.

Jeremy Hunt said he did not see “any conceivable circumstance” the original plan would not be followed and that he was “incredibly proud” of the work going ahead.

The end-point of the line came into question after a report in the Sun, claiming the last leg of HS2 could be scrapped and replaced with a new hub at Old Oak Common in the suburbs of west London.

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This would leave passengers having to finish their journey into the centre of the capital on the new Elizabeth underground line.

The government did not deny the reports or that a two to five-year delay to the entire project – currently due to be completed between 2029 and 2033 – was being considered due to record high inflation impacting costs.

However, when asked if he and the government were committed to the line ending in Euston as planned, Mr Hunt said: “Yes we are.”

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Jeremy Hunt dismissed reports the Euston hub would be scrapped.

The chancellor added: “I don’t see any conceivable circumstance in which that would not end up at Euston and indeed I prioritised HS2 in the autumn statement.

“We have not got a good record in this country of delivering complex, expensive infrastructure quickly but I’m incredibly proud that for the first time in this last decade under a Conservative government we have shovels in the ground, we are building HS2 and we are going to make it happen.”

Planning your route into London

Making the the final southern destination for HS2 a station at Old Oak Common – which is yet to be built – could well have saved the government billions.

But what would the impact have been on passengers?

Let’s say Euston is your final destination.

You would get off at the new station, which will be fairly close to Hammersmith in west London, and take the Elizabeth Line to Tottenham Court Road – a journey of around 15 minutes.

From there, you could take the Northern Line two stops to Euston.

Or, if you’re feeling energetic, it would be a 20-minute walk.

Map shows journey from Old Oak Common to central London
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Map shows journey from Old Oak Common to central London

The HS2 project has been dogged by criticism over its financial and environmental impact.

In October 2021, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove suggested capital investment for the line would be reviewed.

But after being installed at Number 11, Mr Hunt subsequently backed the project.

The target cost of Phase 1 between London and Birmingham was £40.3bn at 2019 prices, despite an overall budget of £55.7bn being set just four years earlier.

Penny Gaines from campaign group Stop HS2 said it is “not at all surprising” that costs were spiralling out of control.

“These reports just show that there are so many problems with HS2,” she added. “It’s being delayed further and further so the cost is going up, it should be cancelled in its entirety as soon as possible.”

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