Our Century

Town's abortion shock

A shock report revealed in April that more than 1,000 women a year were sent outside Wolverhampton for abortions by the health authority because some health teams inside the area had banned pregnancy terminations.

This was despite the fact that the town had one of the highest termination rates in the country.

It was revealed that pregnant women were sent elsewhere because the health authority's own professionals refused to handle abortions.

Wolverhampton Community Health Council called on health officials to drop their moral stance.

And town Labour MP, Ken Purchase, said the health authority should ensure its staff were prepared to carry out abortions when it employed them.

"One of the big turn-offs for women is getting a moral lecture when they want the right advice." he said.

"Abortion, when it is really necessary, should be carried out in a proper, friendly way."

The MP also stressed that schools could do more to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies which were equally high in Wolverhampton.

"Schools have a massive responsibility and they fail entirely," he added.

The town's director of public health, Kevin Kelleher said very few abortions were carried out at New Cross Hospital but they paid for them to be carried out elsewhere.

"The professionals concerned have the right not to carry out abortions," he said.

"It just so happens that all our staff have decided they do not want to participate in abortions."

Yes, but is it art . . . ? A row blew up in August between City Challenge bosses and Wolverhampton Council over a 20,000 mock railway station project set up as an "art feature" in the town centre.

Art railway stationThe locals said it was a waste of money and a hazard to children.

Pictured: councillor Charles Brueton contemplates the offending artwork.

The station, complete with track, level crossing gates, buffers and platform trolleys, was paid for by City Challenge and British Rail.

It was set up on land near the Stafford Road - Gorsebrook Road junction. The City Challenge chairman said the council had got the scheme wrong and he wanted it put right.

He added that the council department that dealt with it had not spent the money as City Challenge had intended.

Tory councillor, Charles Brueton, called for the feature to be fenced, adding that he feared for the safety of children who were using it as a playground.

Files show huge waste: Secret files, opened for the first time in March, revealed a financial scandal which rocked the West Midlands Regional Health Authority.

The first of a series of reports showed that up to 12 million had been wasted on computer systems - and a second audit report raised the lid on major management failures whch cost the region millions of pounds.

The final bombshell was the resignation of chief executive, Stuart Fletcher, who was moving to a top NHS job in London.

But authority chairman, Sir Donald Wilson, said his departure was not connected with the RHA problems.

The chairman defended himself saying he was not to blame for the scandal as auditors blasted the authority for going ahead with Healthtrac computers when the system was obviously not viable.

The report said the regional board was not told about the system and that the authority failed to control spending on the project and was still trying to negotiate the final bills.

A management letter from the auditors revealed that large projects were surrounded in secrecy, and that the RHA embarked on multi-million pound deals which were going to be of no benefit.

Landmark anniversary for Ian's op: Britain's first ever successful bone marrow transplant patient, Ian Cuneen, from Bilston, celebrated in August the 20th anniversary of his life-saving operation.

Ian Cunneen with his sisterThe 27-year-old fitter-mechanic was joined by 120 other patients in a special anniversary party at the Marsden Hospital, Surrey.

And to mark the occasion, Ian was introduced to the record "medical milestone" 1,000th patient to undergo the operation.

The party, at the leukeamia unit of the Sutton Hospital, was the largest ever gathering of bone marrow transplant patients. Ian, of Merstone Close, led the celebration by cutting a giant iced cake.

He was just seven when the bone marrow in his body began to die.

But after a chance conversation between a family friend and someone at the hospital, doctors contacted Ian's parents.

His elder sister, Clare, then aged 13, was found to be a perfect match and the family agreed to go ahead with the surgery.

After six weeks in hospital Ian was allowed home and was eventually given a clean bill of health.

Stylish and safe: West Midlands women were being urged by fashion gurus in August to wear a new look that would to protect their skin against harmful sun rays, keeping their legs tan-free if not their arms.

The special design was ankle-sweeping hemlines in the form of loose, button-through skirts and dresses or wide-legged trousers.

Tarn Brown
...I wanted to be a police woman but I think I'd rather be a vet...