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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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At some point in most people’s lives, they will require hospital treatment of some kind, ranging from minor procedures to more serious and complex operations.  Naturally, this causes a lot of anxiety and worry given the risks associated with surgery.  Whilst it is understood some risks of surgery, known as recognised risks, must be accepted and consented to by the patient prior to agreeing to the surgery, sometimes incidents occur which are entirely avoidable and should never happen.

A “Never Event” is defined by the NHS as an entirely preventable and serious incident that has the potential to cause or has caused harm to a patient.

Common examples include: –

  1. “Wrong site surgery” – for example the surgeon has operated on the patient’s wrong hand, arm, eye or even organ, although this may exclude interventions where the wrong site is selected because of unexpected abnormalities in the patient’s anatomy. This should be documented in the patient’s notes.
  2. “Wrong implant / prosthesis” – for example the implant/prosthesis placed in the patient is other than that specified in the surgical plan.
  3. “Foreign Objects” retained in patient after an operation – ‘Foreign object’ includes any items that should be subject to a formal checking process at the commencement of the operation and before the operation is completed. Examples include retained swabs, needles, or other surgical instruments.  There are exceptions to this including when the item is known to be missing and the “documented” intention of the surgical staff is to remove it at a later date, or if further action to remove the item prior to completion of the operation would cause more harm to the patient.

When a Never Event occurs, the NHS Trust concerned should inform the patient involved and carry out its own independent investigation.  The purpose of this investigation is to identify the cause and to take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of such incidents happening again.

Despite this positive action, Never Events are continuing to happen.  If the safety protocols and guidelines were followed on each and every occasion, then Never Events would not occur however the most common reason for the cause of such incidents is human error.

If you or a family member have been the victim of a Never Event, please contact us at enquiries@graystons.co.uk.  Graystons have the legal expertise to offer a free assessment and help you in bringing a claim in a timely and efficient manner, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

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Spinal Problems: Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina affects the nerve roots that tail off from the spinal cord.  Symptoms of this syndrome can have a devastating and life changing impact.  Cauda equina syndrome is usually due to spinal disc damage that has been caused in the lower part of the spine called the lumbar region.  Damage may be caused by a single excessive strain or an injury which may have caused a herniated disc.

Symptoms can either occur very rapidly, or in the alternative may present in a slow manner – beginning as lower back pain that slowly progresses to difficulties in passing water or stools (or both!) when going to the toilet.  The severity of the symptoms depends on the degree of the compression to the spinal cord and where precisely the nerve roots are being compressed.

Luckily this is a rare disorder, however because it can be such a life changing condition, it is important to be aware of the red flags.  The reason why this is so important is because there is only a small window of opportunity to receive emergency treatment.  If this window of opportunity is missed it can potentially mean that the symptoms that may be affecting you, such as foot drop, incontinence, & numbness are irreversible.

  • Urinary retention: the most common symptom. The patient’s bladder fills with urine, but does not have the usual sensation or urge to urinate.
  • Urinary and/or faecal incontinence. The overfull bladder can result in incontinence of urine. Incontinence of stool can occur due to dysfunction of the anal sphincter.
  • Sensory disturbance, which can involve numbness in the ‘saddle’ area including the, genitals and buttock region.
  • Weakness or paralysis of usually more than one nerve root. The weakness can affect the lower extremities.
  • Pain in the back and/or legs (also known as sciatica).
  • Sexual dysfunction.

Any patient with any of these red flag symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.  Medical physical examinations, MRI & CT scans can identify whether Cauda Equina Syndrome is present.

Those experiencing any of the red flag symptoms should be evaluated by a neurosurgeon or orthopaedic spine surgeon as soon as possible. Prompt surgery is the best treatment for patients with this syndrome.

 

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We at Grayston Solicitors specialise solely in Medical Negligence Law.  If you have concerns about the medical treatment that you or a loved one has received, including misdiagnosis or failure to treat Cauda Equina Syndrome, please contact us to see if we can help you in bringing a clinical negligence claim for compensation.  You can call us on 0151 645 0055 for an obligation-free chat.  If we are able to assist you we may be able to act for you on a No Win No Fee Agreement (Conditional Fee Agreement).

 

 

 

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As reported by itv news, a woman died as a result of sepsis, signs of which had been missed by numerous health professionals during a 3-week period following an abortion.

At inquest it was found that she had died of natural causes contributed to by neglect with Louise Rae, Coroner for Blackpool, noting there had been “gross failings” in her hospital care and “basic failings” from her GP and pharmacist. She commented that “it is staggering that she was spoken to in primary and secondary care and sepsis was not considered”.

While some of the delays in her care were attributed to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, it was found there remains a general lack of awareness around sepsis following medical abortions with the coroner calling for a better understanding of maternal sepsis.

The Deputy Medical Director of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation, Dr Grahame Good, issued an apology to the family and confirmed that the Trust fully accepted all of the findings of the inquest. He acknowledged that there were “clearly things that could have been done differently” with regards to the care and “while they may not ultimately have saved her life, could have played their part.” He provided assurances on behalf of the Trust that there had been a full investigation into the circumstances of the death, which has also been considered by The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch and recommendations made.

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).”

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The Cauda Equina (horses’ tail) is a bundle of roots at the lower end of your spine which communicates with your brain and sends nerve signals back and forth regarding the sensory and motor functions of your lower limbs and the organs in your pelvic region.

Cauda Equina syndrome is very rare and is caused by nerves in the lower back suddenly becoming severely compressed. Symptoms include- sciatica on both sides, weakness, or numbness in both legs, numbing around genitals or anus and urinary retention/ incontinence (which is not usual for you). These symptoms can appear rapidly or over the course of several weeks/ months and CNS can be identified on an MRI, CT scan or Myelogram.

Cauda Equina syndrome requires emergency hospital admission and surgery to relieve the pressure on your nerves. It is very time sensitive and the best time to be treated is within 48 hours of the onset of your symptoms. The longer Cauda Equina is left untreated, the greater the chances are of permanent paralysis and incontinence, impaired bladder or bowel control, difficulty walking and other neurological/ physical problems.

If you undergo surgery to treat Cauda Equina and it has impacted your ability to walk you may need physical therapy, and you may be advised to see a specialist if you have any incontinence/ sexual dysfunction. For long term treatment you may be given certain medication for your pain management or for better bladder/bowel control.

Cauda Equina may lead to a medical negligence claim if any reported symptoms are missed, this can result in the necessary MRI scan or surgery being delayed. If this is the case, then Cauda Equina deteriorates, and the symptoms become permanent.

If you have concerns that you or a family member have received substandard medical treatment and an injury has been suffered as a direct consequence, we may be able to investigate a potential claim for you, please contact Graystons Solicitors on 0151 645 0055.  Alternatively, you can email enquiries@graystons.co.uk and we can arrange to call you.

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According to the Metro online, an independent investigation has concluded following a 6-year fight from the parents of a new born baby, to look into the failings of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust.

The baby was born prematurely and weighed just 5lbs.  Once allowed home he suffered from symptoms which led his parents to return him to hospital.  He was initially taken to Western General Hospital and then transferred to Bristol Royal Hospital  He developed an acute respiratory illness deriving from the common cold and became so poorly that he struggled to breathe.  There was a two-day delay in him receiving antibiotics from doctors at Bristol Royal Hospital, and sadly he suffered a cardiac arrest.  He died two days later after his heart failed for a second time.

The investigation into the treatment has concluded there was a failure by the two Trusts to provide lifesaving drugs in time and in addition the Trust was guilty of a catalogue of failings.  The Trusts’ actions could also be perceived as a “deliberate attempt to deceive” after the family were concerned that the Trusts tried to cover up their failings.  The family has had to wait 6 years since his death to obtain the outcome of the investigation.

https://metro.co.uk/2021/10/05/nhs-deliberately-tried-to-cover-up-failures-when-newborn-baby-died-15365254/

Our thoughts are with the family, and we hope that they received the answers that they sought.

If you have concerns that you or a family member have received substandard medical treatment and injury has been suffered as a direct consequence, please feel free to contact Graystons Solicitors for an informal non-obligation chat on 0151 645 0055.  Alternatively, you can email enquiries@graystons.co.uk and we can arrange to call you.  We may be able to investigate a potential claim for you on a No Win No Fee Agreement.

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As reported by BBC news, Joshua Sahota was admitted to the Wedgewood House Mental Health Unit in August 2019 following a decline in his mental health.

At inquest, it was found that insufficient staffing levels, including failing to have a psychologist in post, contributed to Mr Sahota sadly taking his own life on 9 September 2019.

It was also found that there was confusion regarding the sorts of items which were banned from the ward; this meant that Mr Sahota had access to a plastic bag which was a restricted item. Access to this restricted item tragically contributed to Mr Sahota’s death by asphyxia. 

 Other factors found to have contributed to Mr Sahota’s death included inadequate observations, failures to document a crisis plan and failures to efficiently put in place a care plan. 

The Chief Executive of the Trust, Stuart Richardson, issued an apology to Mr Sahota’s family and advised that steps have been taken to improve their internal processes to try and reduce the chances of similar incident occurring again in the future.

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).”

 

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During August 2021 the Blackpool Gazette reported that ‘only one in seven people urgently referred to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Trust with suspected bowel cancer received a diagnosis or an all clear within four weeks’.

A new NHS target is being introduced to get 75% of all suspected cancer patients a diagnosis within four weeks. However, NHS England Figures show only 14% of patients with suspected cancer at Blackpool Teaching Hospital received their test results within 28 days of an urgent GP referral. This is due to a delay in testing patients.

The Bowel Cancer UK charity said there are staffing shortages and more funding is needed to carry out endoscopies, these procedures are needed to diagnose bowel cancer and if diagnosed early enough it can be treatable and curable.

The wait for an endoscopy is increasing due to the pandemic backlog and waiting longer for a test can decrease the patients’ chances of complete remission or survival.

If you believe you have suffered as a result of a delay in diagnosis of bowel cancer at Blackpool Victoria Hospital or any other hospital and would like to discuss whether there are any grounds for a potential medical negligence claim with one of our medical negligence specialists, please contact us on 0151 645 0055.

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In early August the Liverpool Echo reported that “hopelessly incompetent” midwife, Rosemarie Wilding, had been suspended from midwifery for the maximum time allowed, 12 months, by the National Midwifery Council (NMC) after an investigation into the care she provided to mums and babies whilst working at The Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

The midwife was sacked from her post at Liverpool Women’s in 2019 after her performance had been raised as an issue and she had subsequently failed to improve.  The hospital then referred her to the NMC who investigated. Ms Wilding did not return to midwifery and the Liverpool Echo reported that when her suspension comes to an end she has no plans to return.

The NMC investigated 24 separate charges of poor performance.  A panel found 17 of those charges to be proven.  The Liverpool Echo reported that the panel heard from Ms Wilding’s former colleagues who provided damning accounts of her incompetence to include allegations that she had failed to record changes in babies heart rates; missed signs of sepsis; incorrectly prepared records which caused confusion in continuing care; failed to escalate matters to doctors and misinterpreted CTG traces.  Colleagues described having to intervene because Ms Wilding just wasn’t doing as she should have been.

Ms Wilding’s actions put her patients and their babies at risk of untold harm.

If you were cared for by Ms Wilding, you think you or your baby were harmed and would like to discuss your concerns one of our specialist clinical negligence team would be pleased to hear from you.

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Ian Paterson, a breast surgeon, became well known in 2017 when he was convicted and sent to prison for carrying our needless breast surgeries on his patients.  He has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Women who had been wronged by Mr Paterson successfully brought claims against him but further claims were prevented by a court order in 2018 that did not allow solicitors to make claims for victims who came forward later.

On 26/07/2021 the BBC reported that the position has now changed.  The BBC confirmed that Spire Healthcare in the West Midlands has opened up a new compensation fund for victims of Mr Paterson who worked at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Independent Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston.  It is anticipated that he had 11,000 patients across all sites.  Since 2018 a further 5,500 patients have been identified and Spire Healthcare have confirmed that their investigations are ongoing.

If you have been identified as a patient who was harmed by Mr Paterson or you think you were harmed by Mr Paterson and would like to discuss your concerns one of our specialist clinical negligence team would be pleased to hear from you.