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The government is being told to urgently set up a financial package to help patients damaged by epilepsy drug valproate and vaginal mesh.

Calculations for the cost of the package amount to half a billion pounds – just for the initial payments, according to a report by the Patient Safety Commissioner for England, Dr Henrietta Hughes.

Previously, the government rejected calls for such a scheme, but Dr Hughes’s report says that position “is unsustainable” and “is causing immense anxiety for harmed patients”.

Based on the needs identified by patients in a survey, valproate victims would need an initial payment of £100,000 per patient, and vaginal mesh victims would need £20,000.

Because more mesh victims answered the survey, this amounts to an average of £25,000, for an estimated 20,000 claimants, adding up to half a billion pounds.

Still from report by Jason Farrell, Home editor. The government is urged to set up a financial package to help patients damaged by Valproate and Mesh.

However, there would then be a secondary payout based on assessments of future needs.

Dr Hughes told Sky News: “The need for redress is now. I want the government to get on with it, to set up a scheme for patients and start making payments in 2025.”

The report says: “The purpose of the Interim Scheme is to offer patients an initial, fixed sum in recognition of the avoidable harm they have suffered as a result of system‑wide healthcare and regulatory failures.

“The purpose of the Main Scheme is to recognise that the system-wide healthcare and regulatory failures caused different levels of harm to each patient.

“Consequently, the Main Scheme will require a more individualised approach with greater evidential requirements that will require more time to develop.”

Ultimately, this could also mean even larger sums of money.

Primodos not included

Dr Hughes was asked by the Department of Health to explain how to meet the needs of patients who have suffered “avoidable harm” identified by Baroness Cumberlege in her review into mesh, valproate and Primodos published in 2020.

However, controversially, Dr Hughes was told by the government not to look at a scheme for children allegedly damaged by Primodos.

Dr Hughes told Sky News: “I wanted to include the Primodos families and I was told that the government didn’t want them included.

“I said right from the start that if you have an independent review, the government should accept all the recommendations. Cumberlege recommended redress for victims of Primodos and I believe the same.”

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Primodos was a drug given to women as a pregnancy test in the 1960s and 1970s which is alleged to have caused multiple forms of malformations to the foetus in the womb. The manufacturer, Bayer, has always denied a causal link between the drug and birth defects.

Valproate is an epilepsy drug that can cause what is called Valproate Syndrome in children born to women using the drug, which includes distinct facial dysmorphism, congenital anomalies, developmental delay and autism.

Pelvic Mesh implants were given to women to support internal organs after childbirth or a hysterectomy – but have left an estimated 10,000 people with disabilities as the mesh cut into their organs and nerves.

Patricia Alexander. Still from report by Jason Farrell, Home editor. The government is being urged to set up a financial package to help patients damaged by Valproate and Mesh.
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Patricia Alexander

Patricia Alexander, 46, took valproate during both her pregnancies, not knowing it would cause her daughter and son to have autism and life-long learning difficulties.

She told Sky News: “We’re talking about reminding them how to use the toilet properly, washing their hands, drying their hands, having a wash, brushing their teeth… things like this that children would have learned when they’re very small, we’re still having to do every day.”

Her daughter Amelie is 14 and her son Joseph is now 23, but he still needs warning about cars when crossing the road.

Patricia added: “Our biggest worry is what will happen to children when the time comes that we’re not here to look after them.”

It is more than six years since Sky News revealed how regulators knew back in the 1970s that Valproate posed a risk, but for years chose not to tell patients.

Patricia Alexander and son Joseph. Still from report by Jason Farrell Home editor. The government is being urged to set up a financial package to help patients damaged by Valproate and Mesh.
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Patricia Alexander and son Joseph

‘Huge step forward’

Emma Murphy, founder of valproate support group INFACT, told Sky News this report was “a huge step forward,” adding: “The report outlines a number of options and ways the government could now implement redress but this does mean our families are again having to wait for the government to decide what to do.

“INFACT strongly urge the government to act upon this report that they requested and deliver justice to Britain’s valproate children, just like they did with Thalidomide babies.”

Sky News has also campaigned for years for recognition of the harms caused by mesh implants.

Natasha Brown. Still from report by Jason Farrell, Home editor. The government is being urged to set up a financial package to help patients damaged by Valproate and Mesh.
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Mesh victim Natasha Brown speaks to Sky’s Jason Farrell

Mesh victim Natasha Brown described the pain as “like there is a piece of wood, a pencil, wedged in there.”

She now walks with a crutch, has had to give up her cleaning business, and is dependent on her two young daughters.

She said: “I don’t want them to be my carers. It’s really hard when you’re cooking tea and you have to get your 12-year-old to lift something out of the oven for you, and seeing my neighbours take them on long walks or taking them kayaking, and all I get is the photographs at the end.

“I want to be doing that. I’m only 49. I’m supposed to be doing those things for them, and with them. It has taken our lives away, and that’s wrong.”

Natasha Brown. Still from report by Jason Farrell, Home editor. The government is being urged to set up a financial package to help patients damaged by Valproate and Mesh.
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Ms Brown now walks with a crutch due to the pain she suffers

‘Gaslit for years’

Kath Sansom, founder of campaign group Sling The Mesh, said: “While we are pleased that this report validates the suffering of thousands of women – many who have lost jobs, pensions, homes, partners, and live in constant pain – there are also concerning elements to it.

“Most notably, the initial sum of £25,000 for mesh is disappointingly low. We hope second-stage payments for women directly harmed will compensate for that.

“All women harmed by pelvic mesh trusted they were having a gold standard surgery, with little to no warning of risks from their surgeon, and as a result experienced irreversible, life-altering complications.

“Many were then gaslit for years, and, just like the post office scandal, told they were the only ones suffering, forcing them to suffer in silence.

“Finally, our hearts go out to the Primodos families who have been campaigning since the 1960s and 70s, who have no positive financial redress news at all in this report.”

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From February 2022: Epilepsy drug victim: ‘Government hid this’

Marie Lyon from the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy tests said: “The PSC has failed to engage with our families to ensure their patient safety needs are met.

“For more than five decades, our families have had sole responsibility of both the physical and mental health of their children. Shameful.”

Women’s health minister Maria Caulfield said: “Our sympathies remain with those affected by sodium valproate and pelvic mesh and we are focused on improving how the system listens to patients and healthcare professionals, as well as introducing measures to make medicines and devices safer.

“I am hugely grateful to the Patient Safety Commissioner and her team for their work on this important issue.

“The government is carefully considering the Patient Safety Commissioner’s recommendations and will respond to the report fully, in due course.”

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‘I despise the PM’: George Galloway hits back at ‘little’ Rishi Sunak after Rochdale win called ‘alarming’

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'I despise the PM': George Galloway hits back at 'little' Rishi Sunak after Rochdale win called 'alarming'

George Galloway told Sky News he “despises” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when asked about the prime minister’s speech condemning extremism.

The Workers Party of Britain leader won the Rochdale by-election with 12,335 votes – more than 5,000 votes over second placed independent David Tully – and focused much of his campaign on the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

But in Mr Sunak’s speech outside Downing Street, he said Mr Galloway returning to parliament is “beyond alarming”, saying the new MP “dismisses the horror of what happened on 7 October” and “glorifies Hezbollah”.

Follow latest: PM rails against ‘extremist forces’

When asked by Sky News’ Sam Coates if he respected Mr Sunak, the Rochdale MP fired back: “I despise the prime minister.

“And guess what? Millions and millions and millions of people in this country despise the prime minister.

“I do not respect the prime minister at all.”

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‘Little’ Rishi Sunak

Speaking in his campaign office, Mr Galloway also dismissed the prime minister’s concerns, instead talking up his win on Thursday night.

“I’ve got the democratic mandate here, not Rishi Sunak,” he said, “so don’t put to me statements made by Rishi Sunak as if I’m meant to be impressed by them.

“He [doesn’t] impress me much.”

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George Galloway speaks after Rishi Sunak's speech against extremism.
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‘I’ve got the democratic mandate here, not Rishi Sunak’, Galloway told Sky News

He also colourfully described the prime minister as the “little” Tory leader, and added: “The prime minister is a rather diminutive, diminished and degraded politician.

“He made a party political statement. I don’t care about Rishi Sunak’s attitude. What I care about is that the returning officer, a man of unimpeachable integrity I’m sure you’ll agree, declared it a free and fair election and me as the winner.

“And Rishi Sunak is one of the crushed two big parties in the state.”

‘Suck it up’

The prime minister was not alone in his concerns about the former Labour MP’s return to the House of Commons.

Sir Keir Starmer apologised to voters for the result in Rochdale, and said Mr Galloway “only won because Labour didn’t stand a candidate“.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews added that the by-election marked “a dark day” for the UK’s Jewish community.

Richard Tice also claimed that campaigners for Reform suffered “daily intimidation and slurs” in the Greater Manchester constituency.

But when asked by Mr Coates about the allegations of intimidation, Mr Galloway said: “You have to just suck it up. I won the election.”

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Clapham: Moped rider opens fire with ‘shotgun’ while being chased by Met Police

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Clapham: Moped rider opens fire with 'shotgun' while being chased by Met Police

A moped rider being chased by police has fired shots, wounding three people in south London.

Two of them suffered shotgun pellet injuries while a third was hurt by the moped, but none are believed to be in a life-threatening condition.

Officers were pursuing the vehicle, being ridden by two people, after it failed to stop in the Clapham area just before 5pm on Friday, the Metropolitan Police said.

Pic: @siancole8
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Pic: @siancole8

A firearm, believed to be a shotgun, was fired from the moped near Clapham Common South Side.

The suspects then fled the scene and officers are trying to trace the moped. No arrests have been made.

The London Ambulance Service said its crews had taken two people to a major trauma centre in the capital, while the third was treated in hospital.

The Met said: “A crime scene is in place and urgent enquiries to trace the moped are ongoing. Firearms officers are searching the area.”

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Several roads have been cordoned off.

Police in the Clapham Common area. Pic: @siancole8
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Police in the Clapham Common area. Pic: @siancole8

A local barber, who gave his name as Kaka, said he was left “shocked” after hearing shooting close to his shop near Clapham Common.

He said: “I was in the shop just before 5pm and I heard a gunshot up the road. We were all shocked because it was so close, the police were everywhere afterwards.”

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PM rails against ‘extremist forces trying to tear us apart’ in Downing Street address

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PM rails against 'extremist forces trying to tear us apart' in Downing Street address

Rishi Sunak has railed against “extremist forces trying to tear us apart” during a Downing Street address to the nation.

The prime minister said there has been a “shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality” and added that “now our democracy itself is a target”.

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He also described the Rochdale by-election result on Thursday night as “beyond alarming”, and claimed “our streets have been hijacked by small groups who are hostile to our values” as he urged the need to “beat this poison”.

His surprise speech came after the victory of maverick politician George Galloway in the Greater Manchester seat, following a campaign dominated by the highly-emotive issue of Gaza and dogged by accusations of abuse and intimidation.

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Rochdale MP: ‘I despise the prime minister’

In response, Mr Galloway told Sky News he “despised” the prime minister and did not care what he thought as he had won “a free and fair election”.

Community tensions in the UK have heightened against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas conflict, triggered by the militant attack on 7 October.

In the face of ongoing pro-Palestinian protests, MPs have spoken of their experiences of receiving death threats and their concerns for the safety of their families, prompting the government to announce an extra £31m to protect elected representatives.

It followed chaotic scenes in Westminster over the vote on a ceasefire in Gaza, when Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle broke with precedent in his handling of proceedings because he had concerns about the intimidation suffered by some parliamentarians, sparking a backlash.

But critics argue members of the ruling party have stoked divisions, highlighting former deputy Tory chairman Lee Anderson being stripped of the party whip after he accused London mayor Sadiq Khan of being controlled by Islamists, and former home secretary Suella Braverman referring to protests as “hate marches”.

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Mr Sunak said: “In recent weeks and months, we have seen a shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality.

“What started as protests on our streets have descended into intimidation, threats and planned acts of violence.

“Jewish children fearful to wear their school uniform lest it reveals their identity. Muslim women abused in the street for the actions of a terrorist group they have no connection with.

“Now our democracy itself is a target. Council meetings and local events have been stormed. MPs do not feel safe in their homes. Long-standing parliamentary conventions have been upended because of safety concerns.

“And it’s beyond alarming that last night, the Rochdale by-election returned a candidate that dismisses the horror of what happened on 7 October, who glorifies Hezbollah and is endorsed by Nick Griffin, the racist former leader of the BNP.”

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Protesters descend on MP’s home

He added: “We are a country where we love our neighbours and we are building Britain together.

“But I fear that our great achievement in building the world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy is being deliberately undermined.

“There are forces here at home trying to tear us apart.”

He went on: “Islamist extremists and far rights groups are spreading a poison, that poison is extremism.”

Mr Sunak announced a “new robust framework” would be introduced to “ensure we are dealing with the root cause of this problem”.

The prime minister said ministers would redouble their support for the anti-terrorism Prevent programme, demand universities stop extremist activity on campus and act to prevent people from entering the country whose “aim is to undermine its values”.

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What happened in the House of Commons?

In an appeal to those taking part in pro-Palestinian protests, Mr Sunak said: “Don’t let the extremists hijack your marches. You have a chance in the coming weeks to show that you can protest decently, peacefully and with empathy for your fellow citizens.

“Let’s prove these extremists wrong and show that even when we disagree we will never be disunited from our common values of decency and respect.

“I love this country, my family and I owe it so much. The time has now come for us all to stand together to combat the forces of division and beat this poison.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer backed Mr Sunak’s call.

In a statement, he said: “The prime minister is right to advocate unity and to condemn the unacceptable and intimidatory behaviour that we have seen recently.

“It is an important task of leadership to defend our values and the common bonds that hold us together.

“Citizens have a right to go about their business without intimidation and elected representatives should be able to do their jobs and cast their votes without fear or favour.

“This is something agreed across the parties and which we should all defend.”

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