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).




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


Recent headlines have indicted, “Substantial increases in the number of avoidable cancer deaths in England are to be expected as a result of diagnostic delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Urgent policy interventions are necessary, particularly the need to manage the backlog within routine diagnostic services to mitigate the expected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients with cancer.” The Lancet.

 The rhetoric of ‘Stay Home and Save the NHS’ along with the difficulty many patients have experienced in getting face to face appointments with their GP has, inevitably, led to a failure in early referrals for suspected cancer and delays in cancer treatment.

 Of course, we were living in a time of uncertainty, however reports are now highlighting the concerning and devastating impact the pandemic, lockdowns and restrictions have had upon Non-Covid healthcare concerns, specifically cancer patients.

If you feel that you, family member or friend has suffered a delay in diagnosing cancer, or receiving treatment, please contact one of our specialist lawyers to discuss your concerns free of charge.  We can also advise you of your potential funding options and whether you may be offered a ‘no win no fee’ agreement.



In a medical negligence claim an opinion from an independent medical expert is almost always an imperative part of the investigation process. In order to assess the current condition and future prognosis of a Claimant it would normally be very unusual for an expert not to want to see the Claimant in person. As with so much that has happened in 2020, Covid has changed this.

A medical examination in respect of a medical negligence claim, in most cases, will no longer be deemed a necessity, in view of national guidance to minimise face to face appointments. Medical experts have guidance from the GMC (General Medical Council) that says while they must not place patients at risk of harm unnecessarily, if an examination is necessary face to face appointments are not prohibited. Claimants are regularly required to travel cross country for medico legal appointments. At these appointments they would be required to meet hospital staff and interact with the expert during the examination. In the current circumstances it would be difficult to argue that this is ‘necessary’. As a consequence, where possible, since March 2020 many medical experts are now seeing patients virtually with a video conference.

There are of course pros and cons to appointments occurring this way.

The pros:

  • No travel for expert or Claimant.
  • Waiting times for appointments can be shorter.

Experts have long waiting lists for appointments. Recently, in some cases waiting times for appointments are shorter as the expert isn’t having to travel and they are able to fit in more appointments and the waiting lists are shorter.

  • Reports are produced more quickly.

I understand that this is because the expert will consider the Claimant’s medical records in advance and is in a position to finalise a report immediately following the appointment where usually time wouldn’t allow.

  • Claimants who have moved abroad can have an appointment in the same timeframe as those who live in the UK.

When a face to face appointment is required a Claimant who is abroad can often wait much longer whilst they negotiate the logistics of travelling to the UK.

The cons:

  • In many cases a physical examination is still required.  For example, where subtleties of a joint injury need to be seen or an internal examination is required.
  • An expert will often assess the Claimants demeanour when they walk into their consulting room. This is no longer possible.

In my own practice the positives currently outweigh the negatives. Over the last few months I have found that both Claimants and experts are preferring the change and are pleased that they are not required to travel. The lack of examination has not been detrimental to cases and it is most appreciated that cases aren’t being stalled by the current Covid restrictions.  The subtleties that are not seen in a virtual appointment in most cases will not prevent progression of a case.

As a safeguard, in every report the expert confirms that the appointment took place virtually and there may need to be a face to face appointment further down the line. In other cases, virtual appointments just aren’t possible because of the nature of the injury.  Where it is necessary as soon as an appointment can be scheduled safely, we will arrange this.

We don’t want Claimant’s to have to wait any longer to conclude their case than is absolutely necessary, so we are pleased that in some cases virtual appointments have been possible.  At Graystons, we welcome change that benefits our clients.

If you are concerned with regard to attending a medico legal appointment whilst Covid restrictions are in place, please contact one of our specialist team and we will be happy to discuss your options.


As reported by BBC News, during the period of April – June 2020, there were 40 stillbirths after labour began, compared with only 24 during the same period in 2019. The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch has advised that they will be investigating the reasons for this and they plan to publish their findings in 2021.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have expressed real concern about the figures and are urging women to attend their antenatal appointments.

The president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr Edward Morris, commenting on a survey which reported that 86% of maternity units saw fewer heavily women present with emergency issues during April, suggested that this may have been due to confusion about whether or not these appointments were essential, fear of attending a hospital or not wanting to burden the NHS.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are carrying out their own investigation into the indirect effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on pregnancy outcomes. They are also urging hospitals not to redeploy maternity staff during the second wave.

It is well reported that the Covid-19 pandemic is having an effect on patients’ access to not only maternity care but many other kinds of healthcare services and treatment. There can be no doubt that clinical negligence claims in relation to the difficulties that covid-19 has caused will likely have to be handled differently to cases where the reasons for these difficulties were unrelated to Covid-19. This is because account will inevitably need to be taken of the challenges faced by the NHS and, as a result, careful consideration will likely need to be given to whether or not Covid-19 was a valid reason for the difficulties in accessing these services and treatments.

If you believe that you, or a loved one, have suffered harm due to an inability to access healthcare services and/or treatment throughout the pandemic, 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)”


As a result of the pandemic, patients accessing medical treatment during lock-down have faced cancellations and seen their treatment coming to a standstill. In some cases telephone or video appointments have been offered and NHS bodies including NHS England have encouraged both telephone and video consultations as a means of patients receiving ongoing healthcare.

According to NHS England, the decision to offer this type of appointment is to be made on a case by case basis, by an appropriate medical professional, and should be assessed based on the patient’s individual circumstances and care needs.

Many hospital trusts are highlighting cost and time savings for the NHS, as well as the additional convenience for elderly and disabled patients who struggle to attend appointments. 

 There is however a concern that reducing face to face consultations will lead to symptoms and conditions being overlooked, or missed entirely. It is also unclear what part the patient is able to play in making the decision about whether to see someone in person or attend a telephone or video consultation.

 At Graystons, we have years of experience in acting for patients with medical negligence claims. Although the use of technology as a means to benefit patients is to be welcomed,  it is clear from our extensive experience of dealing with medical negligence claims that there is no substitute for a thorough physical examination and proper history obtained from from the patient in person.

If you are concerned about treatment provided to you or a loved one, please contact one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors who will be happy to discuss things with you. There is no charge for this initial advice and we will be able to discuss your options, including how to fund a legal claim and the possibility of a no win no fee agreement.


During these uncertain times, please be assured that Graystons Solicitors are working hard to maintain continuity and progression of your medical negligence claim.

Your Team are contactable directly by email and we are always only a phone call away on 0151 645 0055. If you have concerns regarding yours or a loved one’s treatment for Covid-19, we are aware that this is a continually evolving situation; however, a member of Graystons would be happy to discuss these with you. Whilst we cannot be certain that there will be a viable claim for clinical negligence or assist with ongoing treatment, we can offer advice, support or assistance to point you in the right direction for further help.

We hope you stay safe and well during this time.