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As a Specialist Clinical Negligence Practitioner, I work solely for clients who have suffered as a result of medical negligence.

It is my role to work with clients from their initial contact with us, all the way through to getting the best possible settlement for them.

I find that clients can sometimes feel unsure about getting in touch with a law firm; they do not know what to expect and are concerned about how daunting it may be on top of the challenges they already face due to the negligence.  When I first talk to my clients, I’ll take them through what steps are involved so that they understand what will happen during the claim process.

I am part of a vastly experienced Clinical Negligence team at Brindley Twist Tafft and James (BTTJ) who have members with specialist accreditation from the Law Society and from AvMA (Action Against Medical Accidents) and who fully understand how emotionally difficult bringing a claim may be.  We pride ourselves on making the process as straightforward as possible and do our best to put clients at ease.

Although each case is unique, the actions that I take to pursue compensation for clients that have suffered as a result of negligence can be broadly broken down into 4 main areas (which I also talk about in this video):

  • First I will obtain any relevant medical records – this helps me to establish a timeline of events.
  • Once I’ve assessed the records, I will ask an independent medical expert to assess the case and provide evidence as appropriate. At BTTJ we have a range of excellent independent medical professionals that we work with and will select an expert specific to each case.
  • Once we have received confirmation from an independent expert that negligence has occurred, I will formally make the allegations to the negligent party (the Defendant).
  • Finally I will obtain compensation for the harm that has been caused.

I support my clients throughout this whole process and am always on hand to explain what is happening and answer any questions.

If you have any queries about pursuing a medical negligence claim, please get in touch with me and I will be happy to help.

Angus Buchanan

Specialist Clinical Negligence Practitioner

 

 

About the author

Angus Buchanan joined BTTJ in 2015.  He has a law degree and has completed the Legal Practice Course and first worked as a paralegal before becoming a Specialist Clinical Negligence Practitioner.

Solicitor Cheryl Bereza & Paralegal Angus Buchanan answer some commonly asked questions about medical negligence claims in a new series of videos.

In the first 2 videos, they take a look at how you go about making a claim.

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to discuss a medical negligence case, please get in touch with us.

 

 

drip in hospital

 

Sepsis (also known as septicaemia or blood poisoning) is a life threatening condition where the body responds to an infection. The infection can start in any part of the body and can be localised or widespread.  If it is not recognised at an early stage it can lead to shock, multiple tissue damage and potentially death.

 

There are around 123,000 cases of sepsis a year in England of which sepsis results in approximately 37,000 deaths.

Patients with sepsis usually experience one of the following symptoms:-

–          Slurred speech

–          Extreme shivering or muscle pain

–          Passing no urine

–          Severe breathlessness

–          Mottled or discoloured skin

 

Antibiotics are the main form of treatment for sepsis, which depending on the severity of the condition, will usually be given directly into a vein (intravenously). To reduce the risk of serious complication or death, antibiotic treatment should ideally start within an hour of diagnosis.

 

Therefore, if there is a failure to start antibiotic treatment promptly or failure to give the correct antibiotics this may result in the treatment not being as effective, resulting in serious consequences. This in turn can have a devastating impact on the patient and their family.

See the recent case below regarding a patient not being given the correct antibiotics:

https://www.careappointments.co.uk/care-news/england/item/44479-payout-for-cancer-patient-s-family-after-hospital-admits-failures-in-care

 

If you think you or a member of your family has suffered due to an error in the treatment of sepsis, please contact our specialist medical negligence team.

 

I have been reading a number of articles over the last month about the stresses on our NHS in their 70th year.

The government have recently confirmed that the NHS will receive considerably higher funding over the next 5 or so years than they have done previously, in an effort to prop up this ailing service.  But is it enough?   The article below suggests not.

http://www.nationalhealthexecutive.com/Comment/nhs-funding-below-the-surface

I have to assume that as this article is written by the National Health Executive the facts are correct.  If so, clearly we need to invest much more into our NHS to secure its future for ourselves and our children rather than just enough to keep it going.

Another article by the National Health Executive (see below) is also a cause for concern, particularly when combined with the facts in the article above.  It would seem that high vacancy or high turnover is currently a problem with many senior roles.

http://www.nationalhealthexecutive.com/Health-Care-News/third-of-nhs-trusts-have-at-least-one-vacant-director-role-due-to-near-toxic-pressures?dorewrite=false

Settlements for the most serious of clinical negligence claims have increased recently due to a change made by government in interest rates.   This also affects the finances of the NHS.  Here is an example of the larger settlements made in serious cases.

http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2018-07-18/child-model-with-cerebral-palsy-awarded-15m-damages-from-nhs/

We here at BTTJ deal with cases like this on a daily basis.   We always try to ensure that the NHS is aware of the potential cost to them of the cases we are dealing with so that they can budget for that potential cost going forward as these cases may take many years to settle.

I strongly believe that if a patient is injured as the result of the negligence of any member of NHS staff, that patient is entitled to full compensation to put them back, so far as is possible, into the position they would have been in had the incident not occurred – or to provide for any care they will need as a result of that negligence.  However I am also concerned that the funding available to the NHS is creating a vicious circle in that it has insufficient funds to properly equip and staff itself which leads to mistakes being made.  This in turn leads to payments for legal settlements which leaves less in the pot for equipment and staffing costs.

What can we do to prevent this?

There is little that we as solicitors can do other than support any lobbies to government to increase its spending in the NHS.

What we can also do is try to work with the NHS to settle any claims we are dealing with efficiently and in the most cost effective way we can whilst ensuring our clients receive the compensation they are entitled to and indeed often need to support their ongoing needs.  We at BTTJ have been doing this for many years now and will continue to do so to the best of our ability.   The team here at BTTJ are highly experienced and have a long history of working closely with the NHS legal team to bring about settlements that provide full restitution for our clients without running up costs for the NHS unnecessarily.

If you need any help, please call me on 024 7653 1532 or email me at Dawn.Slow@bttj.com

 

About the author

Dawn Slow has over 30 years experience dealing with clinical negligence cases of all types.  She is also Secretary to LLR CBIT Family Support Group and Trustee of LLR Headway and Vice Chair of Fundraising, Media and Politics Committee.

A No Win, No Fee Agreement is also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement and enables you to make a claim for compensation, with no financial risk to you and without paying any legal fees upfront.

In the event of your claim being unsuccessful for any reason, you will not have to pay any legal fees either to us or your opponent.

This means that those who might otherwise have been unable to pursue a claim with the worry of escalating legal costs are now able to do so without concern.

At BTTJ we offer No Win, No Fee Agreements on all types of Medical / Clinical Negligence cases.

 

If you have a query about a medical negligence claim and how No Win, No Fee works, please get in touch with me on 024 7653 1532 or email me at lynette.walsh@bttj.com

 

About the author

Lynette Walsh advises and represents clinical negligence claimants and has more than 14 years experience.  She is also an Accredited Member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and Law Society Panel.

Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) is a charity for patient safety and justice.  They provide support and  free independent advice to people who have been affected by medical accidents.

They have made the video below which highlights how they were able to help in a case of medical negligence.

 

BTTJ Solicitors Tom Barnes and Richard Stanford are both AvMA panel members.  If you feel you have suffered from medical negligence, please get in touch.

 

 

Results of breast cancer screening

 

Cancer is one of the most common illnesses in the UK and causes thousands of deaths every year.  It is caused by a change in the body’s cells.

There are more than 200 different types of cancer including:-

  • Brain tumours
  • Bowel / Colorectal cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Bone cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Oral / mouth cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Spinal tumours

Oncology is the branch of medicine concerned with the study, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer.

A medical practitioner should reasonably suspect and refer a patient for investigation that should lead to diagnosis and treatment.

However, if there is a failure or delay in diagnosis this may impact upon life expectancy, the treatment options and how long treatment will last.  This can have devastating effects for the patient and their family.

 

See the recent case reported of a delay in diagnosis: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5754873/Grandmother-73-died-NHS-doctors-failed-FIVE-TIMES-detect-bladder-cancer.html

If you think you or a member of your family have suffered a failed or delay in diagnosis of cancer please contact our specialist medical negligence team.

 

We were very pleased to wear our hats at BTTJ and raise money in support of Hats for Headway during Action for Brain Injury Week.

 

BTTJ Medical Negligence staff

Headway are a great charity who support and provide rehabilitation to people affected by brain injury.  Headway LLR raised over £300.

 

 

 

hip surgery

 

For anyone who has been affected by the DePuy Hip Replacement claims, there is a very good article which explains, in some detail, how these claims arose and the history behind them along with an explanation of how and why the Court came to their recent decision that DePuy were not negligent in the manufacture of the various metal on metal hip prosthesis.

Click here to read more: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/case-analysis-colin-gee-others-v-depuy-limited-2018-james-bell

 

If you have any questions, please give me a call on 024 7653 1532

 

Dawn Slow

Results of breast cancer screening

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has apologised for an IT error which resulted in 450,000 women failing to receive letters inviting them to routine breast cancer screenings.

All women registered with a GP and aged between 50 and 70 should be automatically invited for breast cancer screening every 3 years.  They should receive their final invitation for screening between the ages of 68 and 71.

A ‘technical glitch’ dating back to 2009 was responsible for over 450,000 women aged between 68 and 71 failing to receive invitation for screening letters.

Jeremy Hunt has admitted that, based on statistical estimates of the rates of cancer caught in women screened, around 270 lives have been shortened as a result. He has confirmed that there are many women who may have potentially had their cancer caught at an earlier stage had they had the screening. Jeremy Hunt said that “Tragically there are likely to be some people in this group who would be alive today had this failure not happened”.

The government has today ordered an independent inquiry and confirmed that women affected will be contacted, with some likely to be owed compensation.  An apology will be provided.

All those under 75 will automatically be sent an invitation to a catch-up screening. For women aged 72 and over, a helpline to decide if a screening is appropriate will be available.

Sadly, families now face the possibility that their loved one may have missed the opportunity for earlier diagnosis and a better outcome.

 

Concerns over operations performed by a Consultant Neurosurgeon at University Hospital in Coventry, Mr Hussien El-Maghraby.

Following a request to review four individual cases, Surgeons from the Royal College of Surgeons carried out an inspection in September 2017  where it has been suggested that they criticised two brain surgery operations where the patients went on to die.

Mr El-Maghraby was stopped from performing two surgical procedures consisting of complex spinal operations and brain surgery whilst the patients remain awake without further training and mentorship.

You can read the full BBC story here

 

With the introduction of the Civil Liability Bill into the House of Lords this week, the Ministry of Justice has produced their response to the report of the Civil Justice Committee (CJS) and has rejected the argument that there is insufficient evidence to overhaul how the discount rate in personal injury claims is set.

What is the discount rate?

Clinical negligence compensation awards are intended to put the Claimant in the position that they would have been ‘but for’ the negligence. In the most serious cases, the Claimant is awarded a lump sum to cover future loss of earnings, care and future treatment and is expected to invest these funds and receive a return to use for their future needs. The Discount Rate is a figure used to calculate how much Defendants should pay Claimants in cases of life changing injury.

On 20 March 2017, the discount rate was reduced from 2.5% to -0.75%, significantly increasing the amount of compensation that a Claimant could recover.

Why is the discount rate being reviewed?

There has been much debate given the reduction of the discount rate last year. If the discount rate is set too high, the value of the return will not keep up with inflation and the Claimant may not be adequately compensated. A Claimant with life changing injuries is likely to be financially dependent on the lump sum awarded for the rest of their lives. If the rate is set too low, the Claimant could be overcompensated with the taxpayer footing the bill.

So is the Claimant expected to look for riskier investments to achieve a better return and what return can be expected? The balance has to be struck.

The MOJ’s response to the Civil Justice Committee’s recommendations

Claimants have historically been treated as more cautious investors as they are expected to secure their future financial position.

The Government has confirmed that the overriding objective of setting the rate remains to support the 100% compensation rule, i.e that the aim is to neither under-compensate nor over-compensate the Claimant by ensuring that the Claimant receives the money that they are expected to need and that this is fair for both parties.

The Government has highlighted a need for Claimants to move away from a ‘risk-free’ approach which tends to ‘create excessively large awards of damages’ and that this is ‘unrealistic’. At the same time the Government shares the concern of the Committee that the setting of the rate should not result in significant under-compensation for the most vulnerable Claimant.

The government has not dismissed the proposal that setting different rates for different cases may be appropriate.

Although the decision to set the discount rate is likely to continue to rest with the Lord Chancellor, the Government has agreed with the proposal that an expert panel (comprised of an actuary, an economist, an investment manager and an expert in consumer affairs as relating to investments) will assist with the process of setting the rate. The Lord Chancellor’s report and the expert panel’s recommendations would be published at the same time once the rate to be set is decided.

Despite criticism, the government has advised of their intentions to continue to retain the proposed interval of review at 3 years, although it is unclear how this will work in practice given that the discount rate applies to the most serious cases which typically take 3-5 years to conclude.

The Lord Chancellor will however, at least be required to provide the reasons for setting the rate and the soon to be formed expert panel will have a role in analysing the data and considering actual investment behaviour.

The Government is particularly keen to encourage periodical payment orders and that Claimants are adequately advised of these as an option.

 

Solicitor Richard Stanford was interviewed by the BBC with regards to the unique Clinical Negligence case that was recently concluded with Adam Weitzman QC.

You can watch the BBC story and extract from the interview below…

 

 

 

About the solicitor

Richard Stanford has experience of a very wide range of Clinical Negligence cases including Orthopaedic, Oncological, Urological, Infection, injury during surgery and the management of long term conditions such as diabetes and Crohn’s Disease.  He handles cases from inception to completion, including trial where necessary.

On Wednesday 22 November 2017 Richard Stanford, of Brindley Twist Tafft & James, and Adam Weitzman QC concluded what is believed to be a unique case in Clinical Negligence.

BG had filed a living will/advance directive in 2004 with her local hospital, essentially confirming she did not wish to receive medical treatment nor sustenance if she suffered a significant stroke, having watched her mother suffer for many years having suffered exactly that.

BG then suffered such a stroke and could no longer meaningfully communicate.

Very sadly the hospital had not filed the advance directive in an obvious place. The family were unaware of its existence.

BG spent the next 22 months attempting to refuse food and routinely pulled a feeding tube out. She ultimately underwent surgery so that she was PEG fed.  In the absence of the advance directive this, and all other treatment/intervention, was believed to be in her best interests. The expert evidence confirmed that she understood what was happening to her and around her, and that with hindsight she was indicating she did not wish to be kept alive.

The advance directive was eventually discovered by chance within the records. A discussion with the family took place and BG died in comparative peace within a few days.

The hospital trust accepted liability in their Letter of Response, provided a comprehensive apology and explained that procedures are now in place to prevent further occurrences.

Quantum remained in dispute given the total absence of any similar reported cases. An uplift was sought for aggravated damages given the duration of the unwanted treatment, which constituted repeated assaults.

Settlement was agreed between the parties at £45,000, which will be distributed under the terms of BG’s Will.

It was strange to be arguing that our client’s mother did not die as quickly as she should have…

 

About the solicitor

Richard Stanford has experience of a very wide range of Clinical Negligence cases including Orthopaedic, Oncological, Urological, Infection, injury during surgery and the management of long term conditions such as diabetes and Crohn’s Disease.  He handles cases from inception to completion, including trial where necessary.

Birth injuries are very complex and demanding cases that require the specialist knowledge of experienced solicitors to ensure you are rightly compensated.

Our solicitors have successfully settled many birth injury claims.

During birth there can be injury to the mother, the baby or both. Some of these birth injuries are unavoidable, but there are a number of cases where injuries are caused by medical negligence.

Birth injuries to the mother can have devastating and life-long consequences.

Mothers are entitled to seek compensation for birth injuries they have suffered. As a mother, the injuries you can claim for include; incorrect suturing (stitching) subsequent to a Caesarean section, failure to manage pre-eclampsia or other infections, perineal tears which if not treated properly can lead to longstanding problems; retained products of conception, in the event of a miscarriage there is the risk of tissue remaining in the uterus which can lead to bleeding and infection; nervous shock following a traumatic birth.

Mothers are also entitled to seek compensation for the psychological affects of a traumatic delivery.  Mothers who struggle with psychological birth injuries suffer understandable stress and are more likely to endure depression and  post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

We have successfully concluded many birth injury negligence cases and are experts in the field.

We will ensure that you receive adequate compensation for your pain and suffering as a result of your birth injury.