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On 27th April 2022, the High Court ruled that Government broke the law by failing care home residents who died of contracting COVID-19. The Government’s policy of discharging patients from hospital to care homes at the beginning of the pandemic was deemed to be “unlawful” and “irrational.

Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers died after contracting Covid, partially succeeded in their claims against the Health Secretary and Public Health England.

Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham concluded that:

policies contained in documents released in March and early April 2020 were unlawful because they failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission of the virus.”

Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham suggested the guidance should have required patients to isolate from other patients for 2 weeks to avoid Covid spreading within the homes and added that these issues were not addressed until a further document in mid-April 2020.

The common law claim succeeded against the Secretary of State and Public Health England in respect of both 17 March 2020 and 2 April 2020 documents to this extent:

“the policy set out in each document was irrational in failing to advise that where an asymptomatic patient, other than one who had tested negative, was admitted to a care home, he or she should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for 14 days”

The judges rejected other claims by Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris made under human rights legislation, and against NHS England.

It is estimated that more than 20,000 elderly or disabled care home residents died from COVID-19 in England and Wales between March and June 2020.

If you or a member of your family have been affected by this or have concerns about treatment from another NHS Trust please do not hesitate to contact us at Graystons on 0151 645 0055.  We will be happy to speak to see if we can help you in relation to suspected clinical negligence.

Please be assured there is no initial charge for getting in touch with us and if we are able to assist you in relation to a potential medical negligence claim, we may be able to act for you under a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win No Fee Agreement).

 

Sources: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/04/27/discharging-covid-patients-care-homes-unlawful-high-court-rules/

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/covid-government-unlawful-care-homes-b2066462.html

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Complaints about Medical Treatment

If you are not satisfied with the medical treatment that you or a loved one has received, and have suffered an injury which you think could have been avoided, a first port of call for many will be to lodge a complaint. This informal approach for many can be enough to feel like your concerns have been answered.

 

NHS Hospitals

The hospital you would like to complain to will usually have a PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) based in the hospital itself. Its role is to offer confidential advice and support on matters to do with the hospital – including helping filing a complaint.

Where possible it is best to make a written complaint, containing details of your complaint, giving dates where you can and summarising the most important points which you would like to raise and setting questions you would like answers to.

After you have submitted your complaint the hospital should be able to advise you on how long they will take to respond and how to escalate your complaint not happy with their response.

 

GP Surgeries, Dental Practices and Private Hospitals

Each GP Surgery, Dental Practice or Private Hospital may have their own bespoke complaints procedure for how they deal with patient complaints, but as a general rule, the best mode of contact would be to send a written summary of what has happened, providing a list of questions which you would like to be addressed and sending this for the attention of the practice manager/legal department.

 

Making a medical negligence claim

Complaints are not the same as medical negligence claims. Many people choose to pursue a complaint alongside a medical negligence claim, or may have already started the process when they start speaking to solicitors to investigate a medical negligence claim. An important distinction to make is with a complaint, there is no financial redress. You may be offered an apology or be updated to policy or procedural changes if applicable, but there is no guarantee.

 

Time limits

When making a complaint, you should aim to submit your complaint within 12 months of your injury. There are circumstances where you can submit a complaint after this time period, but there is no guarantee that the healthcare provider will be able to handle your complaint if this is the case.

 

The time limit for pursuing medical negligence claims is 3 years from the date of the injury suffered, or the date that you reasonably became aware that you may have suffered negligent harm. As the investigative process takes time, it is always best to be mindful of these time limits and start investigating as early as possible.

 

If you would like to discuss a potential medical negligence claim, please call 0151 645 0055 to speak to one of our specialists.

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The largest maternity scandal to ever hit the NHS has found that poor maternity care through The Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust led to 295 avoidable baby deaths or brain damage cases .

There has been catastrophic failing over nearly 20 years according to the inquiry led by maternity expert Donna Ockenden.  The final Ockenden report can be found here.

https://www.ockendenmaternityreview.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/FINAL_INDEPENDENT_MATERNITY_REVIEW_OF_MATERNITY_SERVICES_REPORT.pdf

Several mothers also died through failings in medical care.  There was an overzealous pursuit to guide mothers to give birth naturally rather than being offered a freedom of choice and where a Caesarean would have been a much safer option.

It is reported that The Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust didn’t perform their own investigations of misconduct properly were in a format not recognised by the NHS.  The Trust downgraded some investigations initially.

Of the 295 babies who died, it is likely that had they received appropriate care they would have survived.  There are 65 cases of Cerebral Palsy and severe brain injuries that are likely to have been avoidable.  It is also likely deemed that 9 women who died through labour, who would have reasonably been expected to survive if they had been treated correctly.

Numerous factors are at play including The Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s failure to learn lessons from previous failings, staffing pressures and shortages, aggressive forceps deliveries and reluctance to listening to mums.

The report has looked at cases involving over 1400 families.  There were repeated failings in care from one incident to the next.  “ineffective monitoring of foetal growth and a culture of reluctance to perform Caesarean sections”. Dozens of children suffered life changing injuries as a result of the failures.

The Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust is not the only Trust where questions have been raised about maternity care and similar investigations are being requested across the country.

If you or a member of your family have been affected by this scandal, or have concerns about maternity treatment from another NHS Trust please do not hesitate to contact us at Graystons on 0151 645 0055.  We will be happy to speak to see if we can help you in relation to suspected clinical negligence.. 

Please be assured there is no initial charge for getting in touch with us and if we are able to assist you in relation to a potential medical negligence claim, we may be able to act for you under a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win No Fee Agreement).

 

Sources                 https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/shrewsbury-telford-hospital-maternity-scandal-nhs-live-b2046627.html

BBC Radio 2 (Jeremy Vine/Rob Sissons)

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As reported by the BBC, an inquiry led by Dr Geraldine Strathdee, is investigating the deaths of 1,500 patients who died whilst under the care of NHS mental health service being provided in Essex.

The inquiry was established in January 2021 following concerns raised by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, after the death of two young males whilst under the care of NHS mental health services in Essex.

Dr Strathdee and her team will be looking into 21 areas of care provided by the mental health services in Essex, including the management of drug regimes, assessing the risk of patients who self-harm and/or attempt suicide, and the physical restraining of patients. So far, the inquiry has identified three main failings

  • Patients and their families being given too little information about their treatment and chances of recovery.
  • Big differences in the quality of the care patients received
  • Serious concerns about patients’ physical, mental and sexual safety while on a ward

Whilst it is encouraging that an inquiry is now underway, and has highlighted the massive failings on the part of the NHS Trusts involved, it has been criticised for being “non-statutory” and therefore not having the power to compel witnesses to testify.

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have suffered harm because of suspected medical negligence relating to mental health care, one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors would be happy to speak with you and advise you as to your options. Please be assured there is no initial charge for discussing this with us, along with how to fund a case and the possibility of a no win no fee arrangement (conditional fee agreement or CFA).

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Following on from our blog earlier this year, the enquiry into Britain’s worst maternity scandal will come to an end this week with the publication of senior midwife, Donna Ockenden’s report.

As reported by The Telegraph, the five-year review is set to conclude that 300 babies died avoidably or suffered brain damage which is a considerable increase on the figure quoted by the interim report published in 2020 of 250 babies.

The five-year review was prompted by the emergence of multiple cases of stillbirths, maternal deaths and babies born with brain injuries at the Trust dating back 20 years which have since been attributed to the Trust’s fixation to deliver natural births even in situations where it would have been safer to proceed with a caesarean.

The families affected by the scandal have said that this should be a “watershed moment” for the NHS describing what they have witnessed as an institutional and systemic failure of regional health care at all levels.

The finalised report is due to be published officially on 30 March 2022.

You will find The Telegraph’s full article at Three hundred babies died or suffered brain damage in Shropshire maternity scandal, report finds (telegraph.co.uk)

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have suffered harm because of suspected clinical negligence, one of our specialist clinical negligence solicitors would be happy to speak with you and advise you as to your options. Please be assured there is no initial charge for discussing this with us, along with how to fund a case and the possibility of a no win no fee arrangement (conditional fee agreement or CFA).”

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An inquest is a formal investigation by a coroner to establish how someone has died. Inquests are usually opened in the event of a sudden, unexpected death and where the cause is unknown. The aim of an inquest is to determine four elements, who has died and where, when and how they died. This process can take several months with evidence being collected and witnesses being interviewed.

Inquests are often very traumatic and emotional experiences for families, and for that reason, it can be invaluable to have professional support during the process.

A coroner cannot apportion blame or reach a finding of criminal or civil liability at the conclusion of an inquest- which can feel frustrating. As mentioned, the purpose of an inquest is to make a factual determination as to how someone came by their death.

Here at Graystons Solicitors we are experienced in dealing with fatal claims and may be able to provide support during the inquest process.

If you have recently been bereaved and have concerns this was due to medical negligence, please contact us to discuss your options.

 

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In March I was saddened to learn from BBC news about a lady who had initially ignored symptoms usually associated with lung cancer and instead put them down to Covid.

The BBC reported that a lady from Wales developed a cough in September 2021 and initially put it down to Covid and did not seek help.  When symptoms persisted and she did seek help she was shocked to learn that she was in fact suffering from lung cancer and by the point of diagnosis her condition was terminal.

The article goes on to highlight the need for screening for lung cancer in Wales as a way to make diagnoses early and give sufferers a fighting chance at survival.  This lady’s consultants suggest that screening would save many people.

When I read the article it made me wonder how many people are putting coughs; chesty symptoms and breathlessness down to Covid and long Covid?  How many people are suffering in silence and not asking to be investigated?  How many people are calling out for help but are being told by medical professionals that a recent Covid diagnosis is responsible for their symptoms and not getting the opportunity to have their symptoms investigated?

Early indications from experts that we work with are that there are potentially tens of thousands of patients that have not yet had a cancer diagnosis.  Usually there are a lot more cancer diagnoses made in a year than has been the case in the past 2 years and our experts wonder whether this is because people aren’t coming forward or symptoms aren’t being investigated.  The reasons for this could be putting symptoms down to something else such as Covid; not wanting to bother GPs when people know they are already very overstretched; seeking help and when they are initially dismissed do not go back until they are investigated.

Only time will tell as to how many missed opportunities there have been to diagnose cancer because Covid symptoms masked what was really going on but in the meantime people must remain vigilant and seek help when symptoms could be something sinister.  It is always better to have things checked.

If you or someone you know fears that a diagnosis could or should have been made earlier please get in touch with us and one of our dedicated medical negligence team would be happy to arrange an appointment with you to discuss your concerns.

 

Lydia Brindley, Legal Director

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https://resolution.nhs.uk/resources/extravasation/

NHS Resolution, the organisation that manages negligence claims against the NHS, have recently published their findings into claims for extravasation injuries suffered by NHS patients between April 2010 and December 2021. During the period 214 claims have been settled in favour of the Claimant.

The document helpfully also details ways that medical staff can avoid these events in the future including ongoing staff education of both local and manufacturers guidance, which will hopefully reduce these injuries going forward.

What is an extravasation injury? 

Extravasation is defined as ‘the accidental leakage of any liquid from a vein into the surrounding tissues, which can cause serious harm to the patient (NHS England, 2017)’

Causes of extravasation injury

NHS Resolution identified the following as some of the contributing factors to extravasation injuries;

  • Incorrect medication infusion pump pressures
  • Wrong route of administration
  • Failure to act on patient complaints of pain or discomfort
  • Delay in identifying extravasation injury
  • Staff not following manufacturers or local guidance on administration of intravenous drugs

Here at Graystons Solicitors we believe that nobody should attend to receive medical treatment and suffer an injury as a result of such errors.

How we can help.

At Graystons Solicitors we have experience in supporting clients who have suffered extravasation injuries to bring a claim for damages. The damages pursued help our clients to recover compensation for their pain and suffering along with expenses related to time off work and cosmetic treatment to improve the appearance of the injury.

Contact us today for a free no obligation discussion.

 

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As reported by DevonLive it was found after an unannounced inspection from the Care Quality Commission in December 2021 that patients at Torbay Hospital (Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust) have been put at risk of ‘avoidable harm’.

This is due to the few staff members working, not having the time to express their concerns about the lack of staff within the hospital or little being done to resolve this issue. They found some wards did not have enough staff to keep patients safe from avoidable harm and to provide them with the right care and treatment.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many hospitals remain under pressure with a reduction of staff working extremely hard to keep up with the demands in the hospital. However, when the care falls below a reasonable standard, for example a lack of staff on the ward resulting in them being unable to monitor all patients and their needs, this puts patients at risk of avoidable harm.

It was found that staff were not always completing risk assessments for each patient to remove or minimise risks of people’s safety. Staff were not keeping detailed records of patients care and treatment and they were often not clear or up to date.

The hospital continues to ‘require improvement’ in their latest CQC’s rating. The trust has confirmed they need to find ways to manage risks better and reduce the chance of patients coming to harm.

This is an issue we find patients are experiencing more frequently over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic due to the demanding pressures on NHS staff. Unfortunately, because of this many more patients are suffering and experience poor care which would be avoidable if they had the time to complete the necessary risk assessments.

If you believe that you, or a loved one have suffered harm due to suspected clinical negligence, we may be able to investigate a potential claim for you, please contact us and one of our specialist solicitors will be happy to speak with you. Please call us on 0151 645 0055. Alternatively, you can email us on enquiries@graystons.co.uk and we can arrange to call you.

 

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An investigation to examine the standard of the maternity care services provided at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust was opened in 2017 following the deaths of 23 babies under care of the Trust. Sadly, following its initial launch, many more families came forward.

Subsequently, an independent review of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust was launched. Donna Ockenden’s first published her report on 10 December 2020 which identified a significant number of failings by the midwives and obstetricians who did not demonstrate an appropriate level of competence on several occasions. The Ockenden Review identified 1,862 of individual cases where there were signs of substandard care which contributed to the death or caused serious injury to a baby and/or mother.

A copy of the report can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/943011/Independent_review_of_maternity_services_at_Shrewsbury_and_Telford_Hospital_NHS_Trust.pdf

In February 2022 Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust declared a critical incident for the second time in a week resulting in the Trust now temporarily pausing a number of non-urgent services.

On 23 February 2022, a BBC Panorama documentary aired which again focused on the maternity care at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust. It is reported as one of the biggest scandals in the history of the NHS where many babies have died whilst others were left with life-changing injuries following repeated failures in maternity care at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust.

Dr Bernie Bentick, a former Consultant Gynaecologist, who spent almost 30 years at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust says he told senior management several times about a deteriorating culture at the Trust.

The Royal College of Midwives also advised that there needs to be urgent action to address safety, understaffing and the poor cultures that sometimes arise because of unacceptable pressures on staff.

Donna Ockenden has confirmed that her second and final report out of the independent review of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust will be published in full on 22 March 2022.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust declined to be interviewed for Panorama. In a statement it said:

“As a Trust we take full responsibility for the failings in the standards of care within our Maternity services. We offer our sincere apologies for all the distress and hurt we know this caused.”

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have suffered harm because of suspected clinical negligence, one of our specialist clinical negligence solicitors would be happy to speak with you and advise you as to your options, including a formal complaint and a legal claim. There is no initial charge for discussing this with us and we will talk you through your options, including how to fund a case and the possibility of a no win no fee arrangement (conditional fee agreement or CFA).”