Petition to The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Prof Dame Sally Davies, Dr Duncan Selbie
Provide tests for Group B Strep to prevent any more avoidable deaths of newborn babies
My partner Scott and I should have been sharing our son Edward Gili’s first birthday last month. But instead of having that exciting first year to celebrate and many more to look forward to, we had just 9 precious days to spend with our beautiful son. Edward was cruelly taken from us as a result of contracting group B Strep infection at birth. On average, one newborn baby a day in the UK develops group B Strep infection. One baby a week dies from group B Strep infection. One baby a fortnight who survives the infection is left with long-term disabilities - physical, mental or both. It is the UK’s most common cause of severe bacterial infection in newborn babies, and of meningitis in babies under 3 months. Group B Strep is a normal bacterium carried by around 1/4 women, without symptoms and usually unknowingly. It can be passed from mother to baby around birth with potentially devastating consequences for the baby. But these consequences are usually preventable and that’s why I’ve started this petition with the charity Group B Strep Support. Unlike many other developed countries including Germany and Spain, the UK does not routinely offer tests to pregnant women specifically to check for Group B Strep carriage during late pregnancy. If doctors know a mum is carrying GBS, they can administer simple antibiotics during labour to prevent the infection - over 80% of these infections could be prevented. However the GBS-specific ECM (enriched culture medium) test is rarely available through the NHS. Since 2003, the UK has used ‘risk factors’ to guess which pregnant women might be at risk. Risk factors are poor at predicting which babies will develop the infection -- the number of babies infected is growing, we need to stop guessing and start testing. The ECM test costs the NHS £11 each and the antibiotics used in labour (usually penicillin) cost the NHS pennies. Had we had ECM tests in place, Edward Gili could be here today for us to see his first steps and hear his first words. We can’t afford to lose any more lives, we can’t afford not to do this.
Petition to Mary Hardie, Jeremy Hunt MP, Sheralee Turner-Birchall
Save Calderstones Hospital from closure! Turn it into a specialist autism medical centre!
Calderstones Hospital, more recently known as Specialist Learning Disability Division at Mersey Care Whalley, is threatened with closure. At present, Calderstones is a secure facility in Lancashire for people with learning disabilities and autism. While our charity does not in any way support long-term hospital care for people with learning disabilities, we feel it would be a waste of resources to close the site down. In view of the massive increase in the rate of autism in recent years, we would like to see Calderstones converted into a specialist centre dedicated to the investigation and treatment of the medical conditions associated with autism. To date, there is no such facility in the United Kingdom. Research shows that there are a large number of medical conditions, such as seizure disorders, acid reflux or migraines, which are far more common in autism than in the general population. However, these conditions may be difficult to diagnose in people with autism, especially those who are non-verbal. People with severe autism may express pain in an atypical way, for example, through aggression or self-injury. Our charity has received numerous reports of such symptoms being attributed, without investigation, to 'autism behaviours'. The consequences can be devastating. For example, children later found to have painful—but treatable—acid reflux have been prescribed antipsychotic medication, which is totally inappropriate, and has serious potential side-effects. And who knows how many families have taken the agonising decision to put their child into residential care due to behaviours that may have been caused by treatable medical conditions? The human cost of such needless suffering is incalculable. What is more, some of the medical conditions associated with autism can be life-shortening. Shockingly, the average life expectancy for a person with severe autism is only 39.5 years. When professionals dismiss symptoms of medical issues as 'autism behaviours', they are failing this vulnerable group of people. In light of the statistics, this failure could, in some cases, prove to be a death sentence. It is for these reasons that we call for Calderstones Hospital to be converted into the first national specialist centre for comorbid medical conditions associated with autism. Given the diversity of such conditions, the centre could bring together specialists in gastroenterology, immunology, neurology, allergies, errors of metabolism, mitochondrial disorders and endocrinology to assess and prescribe treatment for children and adults on the basis of the underlying medical causes of their behavioural symptoms. This could potentially improve the quality of life of thousands of people with autism, and would establish the site as a world class centre of excellence for autism-related medical conditions. Autism has recently been shown to cost the country a staggering £32 billion per year, more than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined. These costs are likely to rise even higher in the future, due to the skyrocketing autism rates. Much of the economic impact arises from the cost of the high level of care required by many adults and children with challenging behaviours. This means that there is scope for enormous savings to be made by providing appropriate treatment which could potentially reduce some of the most disabling and difficult to manage symptoms associated with autism. We believe that, in the long run, these savings would easily cover the cost of setting up and running the specialist autism centre. It is time for people with autism to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve, and to be provided with the timely and appropriate medical treatment to which they are entitled. A specialist centre at the Calderstones Hospital site would be an important first step towards this goal. Further reading: Medical Comorbidities in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2014 https://issuu.com/treatingautism/docs/medical_comorbidities_in_autism_spectrum_disorders Health and service provision for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, 2016 http://treatingautism.org.uk/new-report-health-and-service-provision-for-people-with-autism-spectrum-diso/ Autism is the most costly medical condition in the UK, 2014 http://www.lse.ac.uk/website-archive/newsAndMedia/news/archives/2014/06/Autism.aspx Hirvikoski T, Mittendorfer-Rutz E, Boman M, et al. (2016) Premature mortality in autism spectrum disorder. Br J Psychiatry. Mar;208(3):232-8. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.160192. Schendel DE, Overgaard M, Christensen J, et al. (2016) Association of Psychiatric and Neurologic Comorbidity With Mortality Among Persons With Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Danish Population. JAMA Pediatr. Mar;170(3):243-50. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015. 3935.
Petition to Theresa May MP
Remove my mentally ill brother from the streets & provide him with the treatment he needs
My brother Patrick needs your help. He has been living on the streets of London for since February 2016, battling multiple mental illnesses with a debilitating drug addiction. Patrick was diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar and depersonalisation disorder by various doctors years ago, and has spent the past 12 years self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. After years trying to seek help for my brother and with seemingly no other options left, I started this petition as a public plea to Islington Council and Police to step in. However - after lengthy discussion with services and charities, it has since been made clear that all services are limited with what they can do to help unless he is willing to engage, so I am now asking for a response from the Prime Minister, Teresa May. Theresa May - please address this serious situation and help provide a wider solution to the mental health/addiction/homelessness crisis. Currently the only way that Patrick and most other mentally ill homeless people can access help — is if they decide they are ready to access help. No one in their ‘right mind’ would want to live as homeless drug addict, but Patrick is not in his right mind. Patrick is at rock bottom as a result of years of failure to address his mental health issues. The once charming, popular and talented young musician has been reduced to a ghost of his former self. The mental health laws are failing people like Patrick every day. Despite a history of police incidents, hospital admissions and suicide attempts since his teenage years and an extremely long list of unreported incidents, we are unable to move Patrick into full time care as the current laws appear to make this virtually impossible. Now at 29 years old Patrick is living alone on the streets unwilling to accept the help that is constantly being offered to him. But how can someone experiencing mental illnesses be expected to USE that broken mind to decide whether they need help or not? Something urgently needs to change. There has to be the option for us family, friends and indeed members of the public to say — “this person needs help” and for mental health professionals to step in to take them to a place of safety. We shouldn’t have to wait until some terrible incident before we can phone 999 to ask for help. The Mental Health Act needs updating fast — so that it’s easier for family to help someone in Patrick’s position. Currently, under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act**, an application for sectioning would need to be made by an Approved Mental Health Professional or nearest relative within 14 days of seeing Patrick. The application must then be approved by two doctors who have seen him within five days of each other. I’ve been told by charities and social services that sectioning would be almost impossible in Patrick’s case — it’s difficult enough to section someone who is present with a permanent address. And Section 4 requires an ‘emergency situation’ to appear — which is sadly what we’re reduced to waiting for. We must look towards changing the laws in order to help cater for and support mentally ill, homeless and addicted people who aren’t able to make the right decisions for themselves. Someone needs to be able to step in to make these decisions for them — to take these people off the street and work through their mental/emotional issues with them, integrate them back into society — before it’s too late. Family MUST be given increased rights to help their loved ones - we are the ones who have known them all their lives and have seen them and helped them through all manner of situations. Even once a Mental Health Act assessment is achieved and undertaken, how can that 50 minute assessment with strangers be expected to accurately determine the treatment they require ongoing? After the mental health team at Westminster Court couldn't access my brother's GP records in time for his assessment they would not take into account the history I provided them with - they simply believed him when he denied having mental health issues. There are hundreds of people on the streets like Patrick — and a many a lot worse than Patrick. Our health services need urgently reevaluating to cater for the mentally ill and those who have become homeless as a result of mental illness — to give them a chance in life that they will otherwise miss out on. I have been informed that due to the area that Patrick is sleeping in, there is no team who can visit Patrick to carry out a Mental Health Act assessment on the street. Patrick's only hope is to be picked up by the police on a 136 if he 'appears' to be mentally unwell and to be referred to services that way. Another flaw in the system. This is a public plea for the the prospective new leaders of country to please step in and provide a solution to the mental health crisis. 'Care in the community' does not work. Mental health teams, drugs/alcohol services, police, paramedics, charities are all overstretched and they are not able to work together to help individuals in crisis. Vulnerable people are slipping through the net, becoming homeless and dying alone on the streets because of 'red tape', lack of funding and the disjointed nature of services. Addiction and mental illness go hand in hand, but dual diagnosis is largely misunderstood and both often mistakenly treated as separate issues. Addiction IS a mental illness and is a result of neglecting to take care of the mind. Those in crisis who ask for help are facing an excruciating wait for treatment. Those who don't believe they have a problem BECAUSE of their mental illness are left with nothing. Patrick's situation is a case study for this. I implore Teresa May to please address the severe lack of funding and awareness around dual diagnosis cases. Please help implement new measures to prevent such cases developing so frequently and provide solutions for treating the huge numbers already affected. Please consider revising the Mental Health Act to allow families to help their loved ones more easily while increasing funding for their treatment and aftercare and involve families more readily in ongoing treatment communications. Please start treating the CAUSE of homelessness/mental illness/addiction rather than discovering you cannot cope with the effect. And please help provide a solution to my brother Patrick's current situation. Mental illness is the problem — addiction and homelessness are the symptoms. If you see Patrick on the streets - PLEASE don’t tell him you've seen him on the internet/a campaign/blog etc as he is already paranoid enough and don't tell him to contact me. If you see him - please let me know his whereabouts instead or call 999 in an emergency situation. It was a tough decision to make this public, but I believe the alternative was to simply allow him to die alone on the streets. So I suppose not really a tough decision at all.However - you could tell him you recognise him from his YouTube channel and are a fan of his songs. Right now Patrick's love of music and the ridiculous amount of talent going to waste could be the one thing that inspires him to seek and accept help. Thank you. Find out more about Patrick's story here
Petition to Margot James MP
Extend maternity leave for mothers of premature babies
When my first son was born ten weeks early, I had no idea that maternity leave would begin the very next day, months before we would bring him home. Born too soon, the reality of life in neonatal care is very different from what a mother would usually expect from the early days of maternity leave. Lines, monitors, life support machines and recovery from what is often a traumatic birth. Mothers wait days, if not weeks to hold their babies for the first time and face the agonising journey home without their baby each day. It broke my heart leaving my tiny baby every day and he spent the first months of my maternity leave in hospital. The very real cost of premature birth is not only measured in terms of financial pressures placed on families, most recent studies suggest it costs in excess of £2,000 for an average NICU stay, but also upon the long term health implications for the mother, with 40% of NICU mums developing postnatal depression following neonatal intensive care and more than half experiencing anxiety and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. As a mother I needed time to bond with my tiny baby, time to recover from our traumatic journey and time at home for my baby to grow and develop before I could return to work. Extending statutory maternity leave and pay would give mothers the emotional and financial support needed at a time of great stress and trauma - in turn leading to better postnatal health, a more positive return to work and better outcomes for babies development. We call on Margot James MP and Government colleagues to recognise the significant and unique needs of families with children born prematurely and to extend statutory leave accordingly.
Petition to Department of Health, World Health Organisation
BAN THE SALE OF ENERGY DRINKS TO MINORS!!
https://www.energydrinkslawsuit.com/5-most-potentially-harmful-ingredients-energy-drinks/ I am concerned about the long term effects of energy drinks on our impressionable children. Just some of the harmful side effects include; Caffeine overdose (which can lead to a number of symptoms, including palpitations, high blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, convulsions and, in some cases, even death) type 2 diabetes – as high consumption of caffeine reduces insulin, sensitivity, late miscarriages, low birthweight and stillbirths in pregnant women/neurological and cardiovascular system effects in children and adolescents/sensation-seeking behaviour/use and dependence on other harmful substances/poor dental health/somewhat ironically, given their association with sportiness, obesity. I urge the Government to make it illegal to sell these toxic drinks to children.
Petition to Department of Education and Skills, Global Partnership for Education, Teachers Education
Implement Mental Health facilities in our schools to meet our children's needs
As great as the Education system is in Ireland, unfortunately, it still operates from an archaic based ethos, leaving our technology ingrained children lost at times. I feel its imperative to not only train our Teachers to just teach, but to train them as all rounded Educators, with comprehensive training in childcare, counselling and most importantly mental health. I am appealing for reform in our schools, in particular, the necessity for Mental Health Services, without delay. I appeal to the Government to incorporate mandatory mental health training for all Teachers. Such awareness is pivotal to the emotional and psychological development of our children. Time for change is now. No more excuses.
Petition to Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Health, Theresa May MP
Automatically become a UK Organ & Tissue Donor with the option to Opt Out
My name is Lucy Ryan and was incredibly lucky to receive a life saving heart transplant 24 years ago aged 2 years-old. I am also fortunate enough to have a lot of fellow transplantees as friends due to someone somewhere being generous, selfless and brave enough to donate either their own organs & tissue, or those of a relative at an unimaginably difficult time. But heartbreakingly I have lost friends along the way who waited for a transplant they never received. 96% of the UK population have expressed a desire to donate their organs yet only 33% are signed up to the current Opt-in system. (The Opt-in system is where to become an organ and/or tissue donor those of us living in Scotland, Ireland and England must make the effort to sign up to the organ donor register.) This is all well and good, but despite it being so simple and fast to sign-up by for example spending two minutes online, many of us still have not “opted-in”! This is even with all the amazing work charities and organisations do to raise awareness of the need for more donors. I know from my own experience it is often something we keep meaning to do, but it never quite reaches the top of the “To-do” list! In the past few years I have been becoming increasingly frustrated with the growing organ donation crisis and decided it was about time I took some action. I researched the best way to try to improve the situation and consequently I passionately believe the introduction of the “Soft Opt-out” system in all of the UK (alike Wales did in December 2015) is what we need (Scotland & Northern Ireland have already proposed the same idea). Once the system is reformed we will wonder why on earth it took us so long to do it like banning smoking in restaurants! The Soft Opt-Out system would be a massive leap forward, because everyone is automatically signed up as an organ & tissue donor unless they decide to “opt-out”. Also, if no objection was registered during their life their relatives are consulted at the time of death, and if there is still no objection raised it is only then any organs and tissue would be used for donation. II believe the majority of those whom do not wish to become organ donors are far more likely to make the effort to opt out, than the 63% of the current UK population who would like to become organ donors but have not yet "opted-in". By becoming a donor you can save almost as many lives as cats apparently have, and that is not including the fantastic life enhancing effects donating your tissue and corneas can have on recipients. 3 people die Every day waiting for a transplant—Let’s all Opt in to Opt out and end the donor crisis! Thank you for taking the time to consider my proposal and hopefully sign up. With your support we can make this happen. Yours Sincerely Lucy Ryan
Petition to Tim Cook (Apple), Sundar Pichai (Google), Jeff Bezos (Amazon)
Stop Cosmetic Surgery Apps Aimed At Kids #surgeryisnotagame
Hello, I'm Andrea Mara a mother of three who recently discovered cosmetic surgery games and I'm supporting this petition with Endangered Bodies Ireland. This is one of eight linked petitions by Endangered Bodies directed at Apple, Google and Amazon. Like many parents today, what little I know about online games I’ve learned from my kids, and most of what mine have played so far have ranged from clever to educational to downright silly. But one game stopped me in my tracks when my nine-year-old showed it to me recently - it was a plastic surgery simulator game that had come up on her Kindle when she searched for ‘free games for kids. To show me how it works, she carried out cosmetic surgery on her (animated) patient’s nose. This involved marking where the incision should go, using a scalpel to cut into the skin, moving a bone inside the nose, then gluing and stitching up the wound. And once that game was over, some of the other suggestions included ‘Pregnant Mommy’s Surgery – Caesarean Simulator Game’ – I kid you not. I was really surprised that the cosmetic surgery game existed at all – I mean, who wants to play a game that simulates cutting into skin and delving into someone’s nose – but I was particularly surprised to see it marketed to kids. Not only is it graphic and gross, it’s also sending a really negative message to little girls. Don’t like how you look? Just go under the knife – because you are nothing beyond your appearance. Right now, my kids aren’t particularly body conscious, and although I can’t keep them wrapped up in cotton wool, I’d definitely like to keep them away from plastic surgery games and the messages they send. That app developers are allowed to promote plastic surgery games to children is tasteless and offensive and to quote my nine-year-old, icky. I’m signing the petition to ask Apple, Google and Amazon to regulate how these games are marketed – will you sign too? #surgeryisnotagame ~ From Endangered Bodies Ireland: The images above come from some of the many cosmetic surgery apps available on the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store and the Amazon App Store. These cosmetic surgery apps, which often feature animated characters, are being marketed to kids as young as nine, a target group that is already influenced by our body-toxic culture. Our societies are saturated with images of perfect and unattainable bodies, with over 21 million cosmetic procedures being performed throughout the world in 2015 according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The dissatisfaction many adults face with their bodies has trickled down to our children. Statistics from The National Eating Disorder Association in the U.S. show 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. In the UK, the 2016 Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey found more than a third of girls aged seven to ten felt women were valued more for their appearance than their abilities. Globally, children deserve to be challenged and inspired by their toys, not to spend their free time worrying about how they look. On January 14, 2014, Endangered Bodies supported the UK-based Twitter account Everyday Sexism in its call to remove plastic surgery apps aimed at children featured on iTunes and the Google Play store. Within 24 hours, both platforms removed the flagged apps. Although neither platform released an official statement, their choice to remove these “games” indicates that they recognize the potential harm they can cause. Deceptively designed as children’s games, the apps encourage users to slice virtual patients apart using scalpels, syringes, and other tools used in surgical settings. By making cosmetic surgery apps available for download, Apple, Google and Amazon are allowing companies to stoke and profit from the insecurities of children. We at Endangered Bodies challenge the toxic culture that promotes negative body image. Cosmetic surgery apps, which promote body dissatisfaction and shame, are not games that should be marketed to vulnerable young people. Although in some cases (where games have age-based ratings) it is possible for parents to limit access to these games through parental controls, we believe that further action is needed. Apple, Google and Amazon need to scrutinise the apps that already feature an age rating to ensure the content isn’t in fact directed at younger children, using the age limit as a way to still offer their app for download. In other words, we don’t want these platforms to use the age rating system as justification to continue to offer these apps, which are clearly designed for children. Please sign this petition to ask Apple, Google and Amazon to implement a policy which is clear to every developer, that they will not accept any such apps that are targeted at children and make a commitment to protect the mental health of their young users.