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Celebrating the NHS at 70

Celebrating the NHS at 70
With the NHS turning 70 last month, Kim Huggins, Senior Associate within our Clinical Negligence department turns the tables on the view that some people may have regarding solicitors in this field and instead highlights the positives that have arisen out of our National Health Service.On 5 July 1948, the then Health Secretary Anueri...
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Birth Injury FAQs

Birth Injury FAQs
It is unfortunate that, in this day and age, birth injuries still occur. Sometimes they are temporary, and other times they are permanent and last a lifetime. Symptoms can vary from one individual to another; where one infant or mother may have mild symptoms, another with the same injury may record far worse symptoms. We run through the most freque...
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1364 Hits

How to Succeed in a Claim for Medical Negligence

How to Succeed in a Claim for Medical Negligence
Medical and clinical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims; to bring a successful compensation claim it has to be shown firstly that mistakes were made that amount to medical negligence and secondly, that, as a result of those mistakes, you (or somebody else) suffered an injury. We look at the key factors in successfully making a cla...
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2133 Hits

Vaginal Mesh Surgery to be Banned

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Guidance from The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will include recommendations that vaginal mesh operations should be banned.

In the guidelines, due to be published after a consultation in December, NICE state that the procedure poses a “serious but well-recognised safety concern”.

Mesh implants are used to support organs such as the vagina, uterus, bowel, bladder or urethra which have prolapsed, most commonly after childbirth.  When complications arise, they can be serious and life-changing.

NHS data revealed that between April 2007 and March 2015, more than 92,000 women had vaginal implants in England, with 1 in 11 reporting problems. These included the implants cutting into the vagina resulting in permanent pain, an inability to walk, work and/or engage in sexual activity. 

Whilst not compelled to do so, it is anticipated that the NHS will take up the recommendations from NICE and follow the likes of Scotland, who have already suspended the use of mesh implants to treat both organ prolapse and urinary incontinence, due to such known complications. 

Pinney Talfourd and impacted clients welcome the recommendations from NICE and await the decision of the NHS.  

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Cancer - Could We Be Doing More?

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Over 300,000 people are diagnosed with cancer per year. Research shows that often diagnosis could have been made at an earlier stage. So, could we be doing more?

In many cases, a delay in cancer diagnosis is the result of doctors not acting upon symptoms patients are reporting or a misinterpretation of test results. 

A report conducted by Macmillan Cancer Support and Public Health England investigated various cancer types and their survival rates, including: bladder; female breast; colorectal; kidney, renal, pelvis and ureter; lung, trachea and bronchus; melanoma of skin; non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; ovary; prostate and uterine cancer.

It was revealed that 17,000 people survived for several years with 10 types of stage 4 cancer.

Whilst the people behind these advancements in cancer treatment and care should be applauded that survival rates have improved, the fact still lies that cancer survival rates in the UK lag behind those of other European countries. 

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Maternity Unit Under Fire For Baby Deaths

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A review has been undertaken at a Devon maternity unit following a succession of deaths and serious injuries involving babies.

According to recent reports, a number of staff members have been suspended following several “incidents” at the North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.

Concerns regarding the hospital’s practices were raised following an unusually high number of newborn deaths in the past two years. There have also been a number of babies suffering brain injuries, breeding a growing concern regarding working practices within the Barnstaple-based hospital's gynaecology department.

Six months ago, a successful clinical negligence claim resulted in the hospital admitting fault and paying compensation after a baby was stillborn in 2014 because midwives failed to correctly monitor the pregnancy.

In response to the recent spate of incidents at the unit, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust alerted NHS Improvement - the group responsible for overseeing trusts.  In addition, the Trust invited the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to visit. During this, a number of initial recommendations for improvement were made, including some changes to working patterns for consultants. The hospital is currently awaiting the full report from RCOG.

 

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Local Hospitals Accused of Cancer Neglect

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Concerns have been raised over the increasing number of serious cancer misdiagnosis incidents at local Queens and King George Hospitals in Romford.

Papers published last week by Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) state that over the past few months there has been “an increasing number of serious incidents coming through specifically related to missed or delayed diagnosis for cancer.”

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) responded to the report, saying it has been working closely with key partners to address the highlighted issues; however, the CCG was so concerned with what was revealed during the report that it has since raised the issue with NHS England and NHS Improvement.

The CCG’s report also stated that “there are also concerns that operations are being carried out without a full complement of staff, as staff are leaving the theatre to scrub for emergency operations.” These findings will worry residents of Essex who are no doubt concerned about the competency of their local hospitals.

These days many cancers are treatable; the earlier the cancer is detected and treated, the better the outcome is likely to be.

Medical negligence in respect of misdiagnosis can occur in three ways:

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Bristol Surgeon Investigated – Breaking News

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A Surgeon in Bristol is being investigated after reports that a number of his former patients have suffered catastrophic complications after surgery.

Tony Dixon, a Consultant Surgeon at Southmead Hospital and at the Spire private hospital in Bristol, is being investigated by North Bristol NHS Trust after reports that a number of his former patients have suffered debilitating complications after surgery he performed to fix bowel problems.

Mr Dixon, “a pioneer in mesh rectopexy” performs the procedure to treat pelvic organ prolapses and incontinence in women - conditions which commonly occur after childbirth.  However, several of Mr Dixon’s former patients are considering legal action following post-surgical complications, which include severe pain following surgery, as well as instances where it was subsequently identified the mesh was not attached where it should have been. Concern has also been raised by a number of his former patients who believe there were not fully informed about the risks of the surgery before going ahead. 

Whilst mesh surgery can result in life-changing benefits, around 2.5% of women who undergo such a procedure will suffer complications. However, it is suspected that those who were treated by Mr Dixon have suffered devastating complications, leaving them in a far worse condition than before they had the procedure. 

As well as the investigation being carried out by Southmead Hospital, where Mr Dixon is currently unable to perform any mesh operations, the General Medical Counsel (GMC) have also begun investigating his practice and placed their own restrictions on his ability to operate.

 

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1266 Hits

Raising Awareness for World Sepsis Day

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13 September marked World Sepsis Day. Our Medical Negligence Solicitor explains why it is important to raise awareness of this potentially life threatening condition.

Most people will be familiar with the term “sepsis” however few people actually know what it is and how serious it can be. According to NHS England, there are around 123,000 cases of sepsis a year in England and 37,000 deaths are associated with the condition, with these figures creeping upwards.

Put simply, sepsis a complication of an infection. It occurs when the body’s response to an infection is to cause injury to its own tissues and organs. It is sometimes referred to as septicaemia or blood poisoning. Strictly speaking, septicaemia is a serious bloodstream infection, whereas sepsis can affect organs inside the body without blood poisoning.

WHO IS AT RISK?

Everyone is potentially at risk of developing sepsis from minor infections however some people are more vulnerable than others are. These include;

  • Those with a medical condition which weakens the immune system such as HIV or leukaemia
  • Anyone receiving medical treatment, which weakens his or her immune system, such as chemotherapy
  • The young (under 1 year), the old (over 75 years) and the frail
  • Women who are pregnant, or who have recently given birth or had a termination of pregnancy or miscarriage
  • Anyone who has just had surgery, or has wounds as a result of an accident

People who are already in hospital are at a particular risk.

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Patients of Ian Paterson Urged to Come Forward

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Around 750 private patients treated by disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson will receive compensation from a new £37 million fund. Our Medical Negligence Solicitor explains more.

Paterson was found guilty in April 2017 of 17 counts of wounding with intent and was subsequently given a 20-year prison sentence.

It is estimated at this time that around 750 private patients treated by Ian Paterson will receive compensation from a new £37 million fund, of which £27.2 million will come from Spire Healthcare. The purpose of this arrangement is not only to conclude all current and known claims, but also to provide for any former patients of the surgeon who has not yet brought a claim against Spire Healthcare, Ian Paterson or Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.

This latest news will no doubt pique the interest of other former patients of Paterson’s as to whether they have also been mistreated, and could be on course to receive compensation. These patients are being urged to seek legal advice to establish whether they have been affected and what courses of action may be available to them.

Ian Paterson initially started out at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and had already been subject to an investigation in 1996; he was temporarily suspended following an operation which had “exposed the patient to a significant risk of harm”. Despite being notified, the Good Hope Hospital proceeded to employ him and thereafter, in 2003, colleagues began raising concerns over the surgeon failing to remove enough breast tissue during lumpectomies and mastectomies, resulting in the increased risk of cancer recurrence.

The first civil claim was brought in 2010. Since then a total of 256 cases have been concluded, with some claims yet to be made.

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Cosmetic surgery – putting profits before ethics?

Cosmetic-Surgery
Over 51,000 Britons opted for cosmetic surgery in 2015 – but how regulated is this thriving industry, and what should people be aware of before booking ‘a nip and tuck’?

Whilst the number of procedures so far this year has decreased, the industry is still thriving.  It may be surprising to note, therefore, that there are few statutory limits on who may provide cosmetic procedures.  In particular, there are no controls on who may provide non-surgical procedures, other than limitations on access to prescription medicine and on oral procedures.

With some clinics putting profits before ethics and employing doctors who may not be adequately qualified to practice in this area, this can cause cosmetic blunders which are not always easily rectifiable. Unfortunately, some patients only discover that when it is too late.

Investigative findings and action

In 2013, an independent investigation into the industry highlighted serious concerns and deemed that much tighter and more rigorous regulation for non-surgical cosmetic procedures was necessary. Additional recommendations to ensure patient safety were also made.

Subsequently, the General Medical Counsel (GMC) issued new guidance and the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) also developed a new professional standard for all surgeons who perform cosmetic surgery and introduced a new cosmetic surgery certification system.  Whilst certification means that consumers will now be able to find a surgeon who meets RCS standards, this system is still only voluntary and not yet mandatory. 

Regulation and Brexit

Whilst the Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates private clinics and hospitals in England that provide cosmetic surgery, its regulatory arm does not extend to clinics and hospitals providing non-surgical procedures. Furthermore, devices and equipment marketed for non-medical purposes (such as many dermal fillers and implants) have historically been excluded from regulation within the EU but will be included from May 2020 under the Medical Devices Regulation 2017.  How they will be regulated in the UK after Brexit, and what assessment criteria will be used in either the UK or UK member states is unknown.

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