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Archive | Medical Negligence Opinions
The NHS is reminded of the importance of urgent referrals for diabetics in new guidelines

Diabetes is sadly one of the most common chronic diseases in the UK affecting nearly three million people with an estimation that this figure will increase to five million by 2025.

In England alone, the number of patients diagnosed with the disease between 2006 and 2013 rose by a worrying 53% with the individuals affected having their life expectancy reduced by up to 15 years.

It is well known by those unfortunate enough to suffer with either type of diabetes that footcare is essential. The disease can have an adverse affect on both the nerves and blood supply in the feet as well as being generally associated with slow wound healing and is the leading cause of non-traumatic limb amputation in the UK.

Is cancer diagnosis and treatment a gamble in this country?

As solicitors with a wide range of experience in handling a variety of clinical negligence cases from cerebral palsy and cosmetic surgery claims to birth injuries and delayed cancer diagnosis, we come across many different treatment scenarios.

Certain medical negligence claims arise more frequently than others and delayed diagnosis or inadequately treated cancer is sadly an area that we regularly find ourselves providing advice on.

Most of us will be aware of reports suggesting that 1 in 3 of us will be affected by a cancer diagnosis at some stage in our lives, whether it affects us personally or it impacts the health of a loved one, hearing the ‘c’ word can be devastating.

After working consecutive 12 hour shifts, could you save a life?

NHS England published its National Nursing Research Unit report recently which showed a significant increase in the number of nurses regularly working 12 hour shifts. The report, which reviewed historical data, showed that ten years ago 31% of staff nurses worked 12 hour shifts increasing to a significant 52% by 2009.

For many, a normal day at work extends to eight hours. Even working four hours less a day than many nurses leaves most of us tired by the time we get to the end of the week. Few of us have jobs involving sometimes life and death situations where speedy action can make all the difference to someone’s life.

Putting ourselves in the shoes of today’s nurse, regularly working four hours more each day than the average person, and with regular reports on the increasing demands being placed on the NHS, it’s easy to see how tiredness can lead to significant mistakes.

The yoyo healthcare system is leaving patients in a spin – when will it end?

It has been hard to ignore the media exposure over the last two weeks following the health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s call for seven day working within the NHS.

While he has focused on hospital consultants on this occasion, there is an increasing pressure on all medical professionals within the NHS, including GP’s, to provide an extended service to meet with increasing patient demand while also identifying significant funding cuts.

Part of the problem faced by the NHS, and in turn impacting the quality of patient care, is in the way in which NHS funding has developed creating a yoyo effect. Patients can find themselves going back and forth between specialists when a number of different conditions are suspected before a correct diagnosis is reached.

A British mother left fighting bowel cancer thousands of miles from home wins medical negligence claim

41 year old Emma Cook emigrated to Sydney, Australia in January 2010 from Stanbridge, near Leighton Buzzard with her husband and three young children having been discharged by a consultant surgeon in the UK who failed to identify that she was suffering with bowel cancer.

Visiting her GP in November 2009 with intermittent abdominal pain, she was initially diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and given antibiotic treatment but her symptoms developed to fever, vomiting and diarrhoea and her GP then referred her to the A&E department at Stoke Mandeville Hospital on the same day.

The consultant surgeon James Tweedie, who died of cancer before legal proceedings started, suspected that her symptoms may be related to either a urinary tract infection, appendicitis or an ovarian cyst and sent Mrs Cook for an ultrasound scan to pinpoint the correct diagnosis.

The true cost of an early hospital discharge remains to be seen following Healthwatch England inquiry

For many, being admitted into hospital can be a scary and nerve wracking experience. Most however, feel reassured and expect that they are going to receive the care and treatment needed to make them better and that they can trust the medical professionals in charge of their care.

In many instances, thankfully this is the case and an admission into hospital meets with the patient’s needs, but when failures do occur, the impact can often prove devastating.

The NHS continues to come under intense scrutiny. As the effects of significant budget cuts start to become evident at the front line of patient care, and more spending cuts yet to come, the real worry is that patient care can only go one way.

As doctors tell Hunt #ImInWorkJeremy will the proposed changes affect patient care during the week?

Jeremy Hunt received a twitter backlash over the weekend with doctors across the country taking to social media to tell the health secretary #ImInWorkJeremy following proposals to bring in a seven day service to the NHS.

Hunt’s proposals are in response to the quoted statistic that patients are 15% more likely to die if they are admitted to hospital on a Sunday than on a Wednesday. While the twitter campaign demonstrated that the NHS already provides a service to patients seven days a week, the figures are difficult to ignore and it’s undeniable that something has to be done to address the issue.

However, what is concerning is that the government has suggested that it intends to bring in changes to the staffing levels in hospitals to ensure adequate cover at weekends, it has yet to suggest how this will be funded while it simultaneously asks the NHS to find significant £22bn worth of efficiency savings in the next 5 years.

NHS Strategic Reviews – is the money better spent on improving NHS patient care?

The NHS needs to find significant savings over the next 5 years. A number of reviews have been carried out in recent years with a focus on the quality of patient care being delivered and the management of NHS hospitals across the country with many falling below the adequate levels required.

Recent news that the charity the Health Foundation is due to undertake another strategy review on behalf of the NHS begs the question of whether the cost of these reviews would be better spent on improving the quality of patient care?

The Health Foundation will be preparing a review on the “indicators on the quality of care offered by GPs”. It’s worth highlighting that the review will not actually look at the quality of care provided by GPs but simply the indicators by which that care can be judged.

Five figure medical negligence settlement secured after a healthy woman died following a routine knee operation

78 year old Mary Roddy was perfectly healthy but was suffering with pain in her right knee and advised that she could have a complete knee replacement by a consultant surgeon at the Royal Bolton Hospital. She was admitted to the BMI Beaumont Hospital in Bolton on the 17th June 2010 where medics noted that she was fit and well before carrying out the routine procedure but she sadly died just nine days later.

NHS England confirms never events should never happen, but sadly they still do

We all accept that medical professionals are only human and can innocently make mistakes during the course of their employment. However, there are certain types of serious ‘mistakes’ that NHS England believes are wholly and entirely avoidable and therefore, should never happen. These are called ‘never events’.

Unfortunately, despite numerous policies and safeguards, ‘never events’ do happen and can often cause serious patient harm and in some circumstances, even death. The NHS accepts that if a ‘never event’ has occurred, then the preventive measures and policies have not been correctly followed.

Early cancer diagnosis targeted with updated NICE guidelines

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published updated guidelines to GPs this week with a greater focus on recognising the symptoms which may lead to cancer developing to help increase early cancer diagnosis and save an estimated 5,000 more lives every year.

With emphasis on spotting key symptoms sooner, the guidelines also recommend the speeding up of follow up tests advising that GPs should be allowed to order tests direct and have access to CT scans and internal examinations without the need for a specialist referral.

NICE suggests that ‘thousands of lives in England could be saved each year if the NHS follows the guidelines’. The quote is revealing highlighting that more lives could be saved ‘if the NHS follows the guidelines’.

Scandal at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board raises concerns over patient care

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, the largest health organisation in Wales, was recently placed into special measures following concerns raised by family members regarding poor levels of patient care in the Tawel Fan mental health ward in Glan Clwyd hospital.

The board, which provides primary, community, mental health and acute hospital services to 676,000 patients predominantly in North Wales and some areas of mid Wales, Shropshire and Cheshire, is the first Welsh health board to be placed into special measures.

NHS efficiency savings. The elephant in the room

Lord Carter has recently published his interim report into efficiency savings in the NHS. At the request of the government, he has been asked to review spending in the NHS to identify the £22 billion worth of efficiencies required by 2020.

The government line is that these savings can be achieved without cutting front line services and that the cuts are a requirement in order for the extra £8bn of funding to be provided by 2020.

The report casts serious doubts on the ability of the NHS to find these savings without cutting staffing levels and ultimately impacting the quality of the patient care it can deliver.

Increased pressure on GP services reveals that patient care is likely to continue to suffer

A poll conducted by the British Medical Association (BMA) in Spring 2015 has highlighted the increasing pressure on GP services. The poll of 15,560 GPs is being released as part of the BMA’s ‘No More Games’ campaign and sadly highlights that patient care is likely to continue to suffer.

The poll found that 93% of GPs felt their current workload had negatively impacted on patient care. A further 37% of those surveyed said their workload was at an unmanageable level. Given the current drive to increase access to GP services and reduce waiting times for appointments, it is concerning that GP’s already overwhelmingly feel that patient care is suffering. A further increase in surgery workloads seems primed to push GPs over the proverbial edge.

Calm seas or rough waters – what to do if you suffer an avoidable injury while overseas

Overseas holidays are more accessible than ever. Flights are getting cheaper and package holidays take much of the stress away.

You have your bags packed, you’re looking forward to relaxing sunshine, great food and simply, a change. What happens in the unfortunate circumstance that you suffer an injury following medical negligence or a personal injury while overseas?

If you’re feeling unwell at home, you simply pop to your local pharmacy, book an appointment with your GP or visit your local hospital. If you are sadly a victim of medical negligence which leads to a significant injury, the law protects you.

Similarly, if you suffer a significant personal injury while on home soil, such as a bad trip on an uneven pavement, a preventable accident in a hotel or being injured by an item which falls on you, the law protects you.

Another NHS Trust placed into special measures – how many more to come?

In March 2015, Barts Health NHS Trust was placed into special measures, the Trust comprises St Bartholomew’s Hospital, The Royal London Hospital, The London Chest Hospital, Newham University Hospital, Mile End Hospital and Whipps Cross University Hospital.

This follows the Keogh review in 2013 which investigated and placed eleven of the fourteen hospitals reviewed into special measures. The report found that they had more deaths than expected based on the UK average.

£6 billion budget devolution for Manchester NHS – good news for patient care?

From April 2016, Greater Manchester will control its budget for health and social care with a proposed £6 billion budget devolution for Manchester NHS . This follows the government’s assurances that it will devolve more powers to local areas.

For many years, healthcare has shifted from curing patients to assisting patients to manage long term health conditions such as dementia, heart and lung disease and even cancer. These changes have placed a greater emphasis on care in the home, and a greater burden on social care services.

The review found NHS complaints handling inadequate in over 40% of the complaints made

A review was conducted in February 2015 by the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman Service into the handling of 150 complaints which involved allegations of avoidable harm or death that had been made to the Ombudsman. The review found failings in the handling of over 40% of the complaints made.

The review was part of an ongoing process to highlight failings in the current complaints process. This is part of a wider overhaul of investigative procedures in the NHS, in light of scandals such as the deaths at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital.

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