In The Spotlight - Kim Huggins

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We find out why our Medical Negligence Associate Kim Huggins joined the profession, her biggest challenges, and what really makes her tick.


Tell us about yourself and your role at Pinney Talfourd

Having spent 11 years previously working as a paralegal I qualified as a solicitor in 2011. I joined Pinney Talfourd just over 4 years ago, specialising in Medical Negligence.

What made you decide to make the leap from a paralegal to a solicitor? 

Being a solicitor is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but it’s not an easy profession to get into, and is fiercely competitive, so gaining experience of the legal industry beforehand can really help.

So, when I finished my degree, I worked in central government, and then from there I secured a job as a full-time paralegal for a firm in Chelmsford to gain the experience I needed. I dealt predominately with personal injury claims, working my way up to senior paralegal and negotiator. Then I decided to study for my exams whilst working full time to qualify and get to where I am today.


Why did you decide to specialise in Medical Negligence? 

My specialism came from personal experience - a hospital GP misdiagnosed my own mum’s condition. She spent quite a lot of time being poorly but without knowing why, and it wasn’t until her final days that we actually found out what was wrong with her, by which time it was too late. Something could have been done to save her if it was caught early enough.

That feeling of utter helplessness and unnecessary loss is something that I don’t want other people to have to feel.

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Kim is swimming for charity

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'22 mile swim in 22 days' was the challenge Kim Huggins set for herself, all in the name of charity.

Kim Huggins created her own charity event to raise money for Pinney Talfourd's Charity of the Year MNDA (South Essex Branch) along with Bloodwise (a blood cancer charity – formerly Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research).

The challenge commenced mid August at her local Nuffield Health Gym. Her son, Ciaran, agreed to join her in the challenge. He already swims competitively for Chelmsford City Swimming Club, so she already knew he would have the stamina to complete the challenge – it was Kim that we were concerned about!

The first few days of 117 lengths per day were tiring and a few toe cramps resulted in a few unplanned interludes, however they persevered and it became a little easier day by day.

Due to illness and injury the swim did not go as smoothly as anticipated. A change of tactic meant that the swim was spaced over a longer period rather than the initial plan to swim on 22 consecutive days.

The lifeguards and staff were very accommodating and supportive and there was even interest and sponsorship from some of the members, which was wonderful.

Two weeks in and to add a bit of variety to the swim they headed for the Olympic Pool, Stratford. Swimming in the shadows of greatness, Ciaran tuned into his inner Phelps and Kim into her inner Addlington. Hours were spent pounding up and down, and despite being a lengthy 50 metre pool, it was actually quite comfortable.

Returning to the normal (much smaller) pool after this seemed like a luxury but a few sessions of 300 lengths at a time soon shocked their bodies back in to reality. Being spurred on by the encroaching car parking time expiry, they pushed through and got the job done, with legs like jelly as their prize.

Finishing the last of the lengths in early October was a significant moment and one which Kim is exceptionally proud of. The constant waft of chlorine and straw like hair, the wrinkled skin and toe cramps and ravenous hunger that swimming creates, was completely worth it.
Would she have managed on my own? "I doubt it. Having my son by my side, lapping me with ease, kept me going. 'come on mum, its for a good cause' was all I needed to hear to keep focused and get the job done." Kim said.

Funds raised so far

Kim has raised funds both online and by personal collection, with the £100 target for each charity being met. Kim & Ciaran would like to thank everyone who has sponsored her to help raise vital funds for MNDA (South Essex Branch) to help them continue with the amazing work that they do to support sufferers of this terrible disease and to help Bloodwise, a charity that is very personal to her and her family.

Donations

There is still time to donate;
Support MNDA at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Kim-Huggins2

OR

Support Bloodwise at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Kim-Huggins3

If you would like to find out more about Kim Huggins and her charity work please call 01277 246836 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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Clinical Negligence team one of the best in Essex

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Legal 500 UK results have just been announced and Pinney Talfourd’s ‘team of specialists’ come highly recommended.

We are delighted to announce that the Clinical Negligence Department at Pinney Talfourd has been ranked as one of the leading teams in Essex by Legal 500 UK 2016.

The Legal 500 rankings are carefully selected after rigorous assessment and provide a guide to the top legal providers across the UK. We are the only Legal 500 recognised clinical negligence firm in Havering and in Brentwood.

Kim Huggins leads our clinical negligence team. Kim is a specialist clinical negligence solicitor with many years of experience in this area. The 2016 edition of Legal 500 specifically notes one of her more complex cases: ‘A negligent hip replacement including extension of limitation by standstill agreement. Advice given in relation to causation and damages. Expected value circa. £500,000.’

The team includes members of UKABIF (The United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum) and APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers). Pinney Talfourd is a corporate sponsor of Headway and the Spinal Injuries Association and an active supporter and contributor to the local divisions of Headway, HADS (Havering Association for People with Disabilities) and SNAP (Special Needs and Parents).

FIND OUT MORE

If you would like to discuss a potential claim with our Clinical Negligence team please call Kim Huggins on 01277 246836 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The National Maternity Review: Better Births

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We look at the implications of The National Maternity Review’s report “Better Births: improving outcomes of maternity services in England”.
The National Maternity Review’s report “Better Births: improving outcomes of maternity services in England” was published on 23rd February 2016 and strives to ensure that every woman is offered clinically safe and effective, choice based births, suited to their needs and wishes.

NHS England commissioned a review, led by Baroness Julia Cumberlege, in an effort to improve the maternity services across England over the course of the next 5 years.

The review identified significant discrepancies across the country in how maternity services are delivered with almost 40% of services being rendered inadequate or in need of improvement by the CQC.

With the safety of births being called into question and hospital investigations occurring across the nation following hundreds of needless deaths of mothers and babies, due to failures in the care provided, it is apparent that action needs to be taken to prevent or, at the very least, reduce the chance of such travesties occurring in the future.

The most significant proposals to improve the service appear to be:

1. Personalised care approach

With the average cost of a straight forward birth standing at around £3,000.00 it has been recommended that each expectant mother be allocated a personal maternity care budget to be spent on their choice of NHS care. The mother-to-be can play a pivotal role in the personalisation of the birth and places the mother and baby at the centre of their care.

2. Continuation of care

To ensure that the expectant mother has the same midwifery team throughout pregnancy and birth as well as post-natally. Such proposal ensures continuity and consistency of services between the midwifery team and allocated obstetrician and a full care package is implemented across the board.

3. Safer Care

Implementation of rapid referral protocols between professionals and across organisations to ensure that the woman and her baby can access specialist care when they need it.

The idea is that, with professionals working together, providing access to the right care in the right place; leadership for a safety culture as well as investigations, honesty and learning when things go wrong alongside collation of comparable data on the quality and outcomes of their services and performance, services will naturally improve.

4. A Payment System

The Maternity Review proposes a ‘rapid resolution and redress’ scheme which, in effect, would bring about openness and pro-activity in identifying treatment that has caused avoidable harm and thereafter, offer compensation and care packages without the need for the families/litigation friends to take legal action.

Medical negligence solicitors welcome such pro-activity and, in principle, this would help to compensate the child quickly to ensure they get the services that they may require going forward, but in doing so there could be an issue of under settling in the absence of suitable and sufficient safeguards.

“Capped damages” would mean that matters are not looked at on a case by case basis. This could result in a minor brain injured child being compensated at a certain level but, a complex brain injury may not attract the level of damages necessary to cater for that child’s current and future needs.
Treatments, therapies, equipment and adaptations are fundamental to a brain injured child and unique to that specific child and their families. The costs of such provisions are ever increasing. The availability and accessibility of such services through the NHS is diminishing and strained with the funding varying and the criteria to be able to access the services constantly changing and varying depending on where you live.


In considering the Review, Action for Victims of Medical Accidents (AvMA) has put forward some fundamental standards that must be met if the recommendations are to work;

  • It must be sufficiently independent and expert enough to be able to investigate and determine whether cases meet the criteria for compensation.
  • It should award compensation based on actual needs (not a ‘capped’ sum).
  • It must guarantee ongoing access to the services that the child needs whether private of NHS based
  • The family has to have access to specialist advice and, where necessary, the families must retain their civil right to resort to legal action if they need to.

It is clear that the Review has a lot of potential and a redress scheme is possible. To be fit for purpose, however, such a scheme must be able to guarantee that children will get compensation and services based on needs rather than based on what best suits the state.

All in all the Review seems a significant step forward in the provision of excellent care within the maternity services which should be beneficial and encouraging to all expecting parents.

More information

If you would like more information on this review please contact our Medical Negligence Department on 01708 229444 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This article was written by Kim Huggins, Medical Negligence solicitor at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at March 2016.
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Pursuing a claim for medical negligence

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Our Medical Negligence Solicitor Kim Huggins provides some advice on how to pursue a successful claim for medical negligence.
Medical negligence claims are intricate and lengthy and should be seen as a last resort.  Even where cases seem obvious, sometimes they will fail which can confuse and frustrate potential Claimants.

There are three essential elements that must be proven for a claim for medical negligence to succeed:

1. That the doctor/hospital owed a duty of care
2. That duty was breached
3. The patient suffered injury which was caused by that breach of duty


So what does this mean? 


Duty of Care

Private and state Doctors and nurses, NHS Trusts, opticians, dentists etc are all duty bound to exercise reasonable care so as to avoid the likelihood of causing injury to other people. If they fail to exercise a duty of care then there is a legal liability to compensate an injured person if that person has been injured as a direct consequence of those careless/negligent actions. 

Sometimes more than one specialist or clinician is involved in treatment provided to patients and it is therefore important to spend time identifying the correct parties involved in each individual case.


The test to prove breach of duty

Solicitors refer to Bolam -v- Friern Hospital (1957) when considering the prospects of each and every case. For short, it is referred to as the Bolam Test and it is as follows:

“The test is the standard of the ordinary skilled man exercising and professing to have that special skill. So the man need not possess the highest expert skills."

So a consultant will be measured against his peers (ie. other consultants) rather than by professors or such like.

The test continues:

“A doctor is not guilty of negligence if he has acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical men skilled in that particular art…”

This can be difficult for Claimants to understand because it suggests that the medical profession sets its own standards and “closes ranks” if mistakes happen.

This is not the case. A mistake is just that and will therefore always be a breach of the doctor’s duty of care. To clarify this, the House of Lords passed judgment in 1998 in a case called Bolitho.

It is now clear that, in order to prove that a doctor has breached the required standard of care in your case, you will have to show either;

  1. that there really is no other responsible body of doctors in the country who would regard the treatment as acceptable or,
  2. that the practice does not withstand logical analysis.

Once over that hurdle you may want to breathe a sigh of relief – but we are not yet finished as the breach of duty is not in itself sufficient for the claim to succeed. A Claimant must also prove “causation”.


Causation

If we cannot establish that there has been a breach of duty then there can be no liability and the claim will fail. If, however, we can establish a breach or breaches, then we need to identify that, but for that breach of duty, the Claimant would not have suffered injury.

Difficulties arise because, in many cases, there is something already wrong with a Claimant for which they seek treatment. Therefore, we have to consider what the position would have been had there been no negligence. If the breach (the mistake) made no difference to the overall outcome then the claim will fail.

At Pinney Talfourd Solicitors we try and take the stress away from the Claimant and make the process as smooth as possible whilst gathering vital information and undertaking the necessary investigations in order to establish whether a claim is viable.


More information

If you should have a potential claim that you would like to discuss please contact our Medical Negligence Department on 01708 229444 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This article was written by Kim Huggins, Medical Negligence solicitor at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at March 2016.
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