Cathedral sues NHS after £130,000 accident claim

Industry news roundup: week ended 30 March 2015:

A £130,000 accident claim has prompted a cathedral to sue the NHS for not properly treating the foot of a worshiper who was injured on church grounds.

So much for ‘turn the other cheek:’ Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire has sought to recover some of the £130,000 it paid out to worshiper Christopher Shepherd in a personal injury compensation claim after the man tripped and broke his foot just a few days before Christmas 2008. What looked to be an open-and-shut case of the cathedral being liable for the man’s injury soon blossomed into a major issue after medical negligence caused his foot injury to worsen to the point where Shepherd is now consigned to a wheelchair as he now has the inability to walk more than 100 yards without difficulty.

Ripon Cathedral agreed to pay out on Shepherd’s personal injury claims in 2013, but has since decided to try to recover its costs by bringing suit against the NHS. According to court documents, apparently Shepherd consulted with doctors at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust twice – first on Christmas Eve 2008 and then again on January 13th of the New Year, but was only finally diagnosed properly on March 18th of that year. The cathedral’s personal injury lawyers say that the NHS doctors should be held responsible for not diagnosing Shepherd’s injuries properly causing a delay so long that the injured man needed surgical procedures to fuse the bones of his foot – an act that left him with severely diminished mobility.

Now this, to me, represents a perfect example of medical negligence. The poor bastard made two trips to see NHS doctors and both times he was simply brushed off. Meanwhile his foot simply got worse and worse until he needed the painful, mobility-limiting surgery.  For what it’s worth, the NHS had a serious role in the extent of Shepherd’s injuries and should pay the price.

I’m not saying that the cathedral is off the hook; the initial injury took place on cathedral grounds so there is at least a modicum of liability there. But if Shepherd had gotten the treatment he needed immediately instead of months afterwards, the results would have been much less painful for him – and that would have led to a much smaller legal bill for Ripon Cathedral!


NHS inundated with new medical negligence claims

Industry news roundup: week ended 15 Sept 2014:

The NHS has been awash in new medical negligence claims this year – and the stories behind these personal injury claims are positively heartbreaking.

It’s always difficult to think that the doctors and other medical health professionals working for the NHS make mistakes, especially since such a mistake can lead to life-changing (or even life-ending) results for patients and their families. I know I don’t like to think about it when I go to the GP with a health problem, but it’s always there in the back of my head, and now there’s more nightmare fuel for me, you and all of us thanks to the new information released by the Health & Social Care Information Centre this week.

HSCIC went through and added up all the complaints that had been made against the NHS during the 2013-2014 year and came up with a staggering figure: there’s been nearly 175,000 over this time. This represents a seven per cent jump over the 2012-2013 year, and it’s more than a bit scary to think that medical professionals are making so many more mistakes this year.

The figures are staggering but the personal details of each complaint are even more disheartening. Consider the facts of a medical negligence claim that came forward this week concerning a man who died at the all-too-early age of 30 after being misdiagnosed by hospital staff: poor Andrew Raybould had been sent to hospital not once, not twice, but three bloody times, and every time he was sent home because no one in the entire damn hospital could suss out that he was suffering from severe pancreatitis. Meanwhile the poor bloke died from the condition, all the while suffering from multiple organ failure and sepsis.

The man’s parents are of course incredibly bereaved and are incensed with the way their son was treated by the NHS, and I for one can not fault them for even one moment for how they’re feeling. Just on the face of it the situation seems absolutely abhorrent and I hope they can sink their teeth into the NHS for as much as they can get out of it. Sure it won’t ever ease the pain of having their son ripped away from them, but at the very least they’ll know the incompetence of that medical staff will not go unpunished.

Injury claims abound from Wales to Scotland

Industry news roundup: week ended 6 Jan 2014:

When it comes to accident claims, it’s not just England as the rest of the UK gets into the act; in fact both Wales and Scotland have been claims hotbeds.

Last year alone, for instance, saw more than£300,000 paid out to college lecturers and school teachers in Scotland according to the Educational Institute of Scotland. All sorts of incidents led to the payouts, including one assault that led to a serious long-term injury for a teacher that resulted in a personal injury compensation award of £130,000 alone!

Now don’t get nervous if you were considering a career as an educator in Scotland: it’s not that pupils are so violent that these incidents occur so much. In fact the EIS said most of the time it’s simple and avoidable accidents that are caused by poor working conditions. Slips and trips due to poorly-maintained schools are the real culprit here, and the EIS was highly critical of local authorities that neglected their responsibilities to keep these schools in good nick; can’t say I’m surprised, as it seems that most local councils couldn’t find their arse with both hands in an emergency!

Speaking of negligent behaviour, it’s time to turn to Wales now where a new report published this week revealed that over the last three years, a total of £117.6 million in compensation, mostly due to medical negligence cases. The information has certainly given the NHS a black eye in terms of reputation, as well as it should – cries of ‘we could have used that money to improve the state of our hospitals’ are on the lips of pretty much anyone you turn to, and for what it’s worth the sentiment is completely accurate.

Again it’s a factor of simply not having the wherewithal to keep these places running in good condition. Doctors and medical staff are overworked to a worrisome level, yet the NHS drags its heels whenever it’s time to change policies. It takes a public shaming like this to rattle its cage, though as usual the NHS will have its excuses primed and ready.

Still, enough is enough; it’s time to stand up and say that this simply isn’t acceptable behaviour on the part of the NHS, or our local authorities in the case of mis-managed and unsafe schools. At least now you know not to get sick in Wales – or to take a teaching job in Scotland!

NHS pays through the nose for medical staff blunders

Industry news roundup: week ended 7 Oct 2013:

Medical negligence is no laughing matter – much as the NHS has learned this week after it’s been ordered to pay out on two major compensation claims.

Birth injuries are often life-changing events, and it was no different for Joseph Rea when he was born seven years ago. Little Joseph suffered severe brain damage while he was being delivered, ultimately resulting in injuries that left him with learning difficulties, mobility problems, and seizures as a result of cerebral palsy. Well, it turns out that the NHS Trust for the hospital more or less debased itself in front of Joseph’s family, offering them £2.4 million in a lump sum personal injury compensation payment and then promising additional annual payments as well – which is good news for Joseph and his family, as the young lad’s physical needs can now be met much more easily.

I don’t know what it is with doctors in the UK, but it seems like they just simply can’t get it right sometimes! In a way it’s most likely not the fault of the doctor, what with hospital work schedules so absolutely horrid, but how many times do avoidable mistakes have to occur before the NHS changes its administrative policies?

Not soon enough, apparently, considering how yet another NHS Trust ended up paying out on a claim for another baby injured in childbirth. This time it was a skull fracture and brain injury during the delivery of Yiqun Zhang that left him with severe disabilities later in life – but now the £12 million value compensation package will see to it that he gets everything he will need in order to live a comfortable life – or as much of one that he can with his injuries.

I can’t even imagine having to face such a terrible fate as a parent. You love your child unconditionally of course, but you’ve got an incredible burden as well for their lifelong care – something that you won’t be able to provide since, well let’s face it – no one lives forever. Round the clock care isn’t cheap by a long shot, you know; my hat goes off and my heart goes out to anyone and everyone in a situation where they have to provide for the special needs of their own child.

Of course we could avoid the whole tragic thing if we could just get the quality of service in NHS hospitals better than something you would find in the bin.

Since when are bus drivers and doctors out to kill you?

Industry news roundup: week ended 19 Aug 2013:

Sometimes it feels like it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed, especially when you’re at danger from duplicitous bus drivers and exhausted junior doctors!

I know it sounds a bit strange, but just go with me on this one: a bus driver actually put innocent passengers at risk because he was involved in a ‘cash for crash’ scheme. I just heard about this: the Sheffield bus driver, Adam Herbert, was in cahoots with a group of fraudsters that packed his bus so he could intentionally prang a car from behind, despite the fact that the handful of passengers  that weren’t in on the scheme could have been seriously hurt.

You know it’s bastards like this that give the personal injury compensation field a bad name. This slimy, underhanded criminal allegedly tried to pull off the massive scam so 26 co-conspirators could make bogus whiplash injury claims – can you believe it?

The bus company was puzzled why there were some 30 or 40 passengers on the vehicle at the time of the incident, especially because on any other given day there were usually only around six to eight people normally riding the bus at that time. It discovered that the handful of passengers that weren’t actually involved in the shameless stunt that it was actually a very minor bump and couldn’t have possibly caused the more than two dozen whiplash injuries other passengers were claiming, and once the bus company began to investigate the whole terrible scam unraveled.

Lucky there weren’t any actual serious injuries – it turns out that sometimes it’s more dangerous to go get treated for injury at hospital! New research I read this week indicated that junior doctors at NHS hospitals are so overworked that they feel so exhausted and demoralised that fears run high that these poor individuals are making mistakes that lead to medical negligence.

Many junior doctors work absolutely insane hours. 12 day rotations and 100 hour weeks are not uncommon for final year medical students and junior doctors alike, and the incredible amounts of pressure these medical staff are under is making fears run rampant – and with absolutely good reason, if you ask me!

Hopefully this is going to change very soon, because if it doesn’t NHS hospitals are going to be some of the least safest places to be if you’re injured or sick. It’s not the fault of these junior doctors, either – it’s the administrative staff that have abandoned these poor blokes and birds!

Paralysed mother wins multiple million pound compensation

Industry news roundup: week ended 4 Feb 2013:

A personal injury compensation award in the millions of pounds has been awarded to one mother who ended up with paralysis from the waist down after surgery.

Hazel Spence, a thirty five year old former beauty therapist and mother of two from Bilston that was a kick boxer in her teens, had been admitted to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for what was supposed to have been a routine surgical procedure to excise a cyst that had been discovered between her shoulder blades. The surgery itself had been a success, but the actions of a junior doctor just two days afterwards left her paralysed when he decided to flush clear the drain that had been surgically implanted into her lower back in order to provide any excess fluid a way to be removed.

The doctor, who thought that the drain had become blocked, caused damage to the woman’s spinal cord as he forced fluid into the drain. As a result, Ms Spence now has no feeling from below the waist and can no longer move her legs due to the irreparable harm caused by the incorrect follow-up procedure and has left her trapped in a wheelchair, prompting her to launch a medical negligence claim against the NHS Trust managing the hospital. 

The University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust has since capitulated to the demands of Ms Spence’s personal injury lawyers in that she has been awarded a compensation award that, while it has not been specified, is understood o be worth well over one million pounds. The funds will go towards not just purchasing the special equipment that the woman needs to provide for her long-term care needs but also to relocate both herself and her family to a specially adapted house that will fit her needs for wheelchair accessibility.

No word on what happened to the junior doctor that botched the operation. Hopefully he’ll be cleaning out bedpans for the rest of his tenure as a medical ‘professional.’

New data reveals NHS pays through the nose for negligence

Industry news roundup: week ended 14 Jan 2013:

Botched surgical procedures have led to massive personal injury compensation payouts by the NHS for medical negligence over the years, new research reveals.

Newly published data by the NHS has revealed that negligent surgeons, GPs, and other medical professionals have bungled the care of so many Brits that the NHS Litigation Authority has shelled out £1.7 billion in damages over the last fourteen years. NHS staff have been making so many errors that eight new patients are either left with an amputated limb, impaired or lost vision, or with brain damage every week – a chilling figure indeed if you have a hospital visit scheduled for sometime in the immediate future!

Since 1998, more than 800 individuals have brought personal injury claims against the National Health Service for blindness alone, official figures reveal. Not only hat but there were 1,500 compensation claims for the loss of a leg or an arm, while a shocking 2,860 have made claims in the wake of being treated so negligently that the end result was brain damage.

The 2010-2011 financial year saw in excess of £30 million being awarded to victims of medical negligence, according to the newly released figures. That year, there were 56 claims involving blindness, 134 amputation cases, and 215 brain damage incidents with a combined litigation value of £18 million, all of which poured out of the pockets of the NHS Litigation Authority in order to pay for the long-term care needs of those left without sight, limb, or reasoning ability.

However, the massive lawsuit bill wasn’t all related to instances of medical negligence. In fact there was a very small proportion of accident claims that involved slips and trips or falls that occurred on hospital grounds, but the lion’s share of compensation payouts went to those poor patients that had the bad luck to have an incompetent medical professional providing them care.

A NHS Litigation Authority spokesperson commented on the new – and rather chilling figures – remarking hat for the most part the NHS was excellent at providing safe environments for their patients. However, in the event that mistakes were made, any patients injured in such incidents had an ironclad right to compensation, the spokesperson added.

Hospital patient wins big on medical negligence claim

Industry news roundup: week ended 31 Dec 2012:

While it won’t bring back the leg he lost while under bungled medical care, one hospital patient recently received a large personal injury compensation payment.

Russell Hession, a fifty three year old native of Ongar, in Essex, had been suffering from severe pains in his extremities, which prompted him to visit the Princess Alexandra Hospital to seek treatment. Mr Hession appeared with a letter in hand – written by his GP no less – detailing how he had been given treatment for a blood clot within his lung several years ago and that blood clots ran in his family, yet hospital staff found nothing of the sort and sent him home.

However, Mr Hession soon began to experience even worse and more excruciating pains in his arms and legs, forcing him to return to hospital where he was given an ultrasound examination, this time to search of any evidence of deep vein thrombosis. Again there was nothing amiss according to the medical professionals, and on a third hospital visit – which had Mr Hession nearly incapacitated from pain, he was informed that he should take two paracetamol tablets for the ‘torn muscle’ he was suffering from.

Of course, it turns out that the poor man did indeed have a terrible blood clot, and his GP was the one who discovered it after being unable to find the man’s pulse in his right leg. Mr Hession’s blood flow in that leg had been reduced by so much and for so long that the only option left was amputation.

That was quite enough, as far as Mr Hession was concerned, and he launched a medical negligence compensation against the NHS Trust for the hospital on the grounds that he would still be walking about on two legs if hospital staff weren’t so incompetent. After the hospital made an admission of liability for his lost leg, Mr Hession was awarded a compensation award for £500,000 – cold comfort for a missing leg, but at least the parties responsible have had to pay for their mistakes!

Are hospitals the least safe spots in the UK?

Weekly news recap: 7 days ending 26 Nov 2012

Whether you’re a patient or an employee, hospitals seem to be one of the least safe places to be in the country according to this week’s latest news stories.

First comes the story of how a seventy two year old pensioner won his legal battle for personal injury compensation for the loss of nearly all his vision in one of his eyes in the wake of a raft of hospital errors. The injured man, Malcolm Spencer, had been suffering from distorted vision prior to the incident, and while he was referred to the Fairfield General Hospital, located in Bury, medical staff there neglected to discern that Mr Spencer had been suffering from age-related macular degeneration,  which was responsible for the distortion.

Hospital staff sent Mr Spencer for laser eye treatment, which invariably made his vision even worse than it was. This prompted the injured man to make a medical negligence claim against the NHS Trust responsible for managing the Fairfield, and with the hospital admitting they had made mistakes that cost Mr Spencer nearly all his remaining vision in that one eye, agreement has recently been reached to compensate the man for his damages.

Meanwhile, a nursing auxiliary at the Belford Hospital was also awarded compensation after a personal injury at work to the tune of £50,000, thanks to a wrenched back and shoulder. Linda Mitchell, fifty nine years old, had been working at the Belford’s Belhaven Ward when she was attempting to arrange heavy lined curtains around the bed of a patient, leaning over a TV table.

However, the auxiliary ended up wrenching her shoulder and back after the curtains became jammed. Ms Mitchell was injured so severely that she has not been able to resume her duties since 2008, which is when the incident originally occurred.

Ms Mitchell finally received compensation payment recently after a long, protracted battle with the NHS, which first saw the claimant only being offered £25,000 for her injuries. However, the auxiliary stuck to her guns, resulting in her earning double the initial amount after a civil action; while Ms Mitchell expressed happiness that a settlement had been reached, she was quick to add that the the entire incident could have been completely avoided if hospital bosses had heeded initial complaints about the jammed curtain.

Medical negligence leads to £37.5k in compensation

Industry news roundup: week ended 5 Nov 2012:

This week, news broke that the NHS has been made to pay for the mistakes of medical staff, awarding £37,500 in compensation following a botched surgery.

Errors that occurred during the surgery of one artist from Leicestershire to treat breast cancer racked up a massive personal injury compensation bill for the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust after a surgeon severed several nerves located in the patient’s shoulder, nearly crippling her left arm completely. Margaret Gold, a seventy year old resident of Cosby, now has to cope with an inability use her hand, wrist, and arm thanks to medical ‘professionals’ that botched her surgery at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, changing her life drastically.

The published illustrator and artist, who also worked as an art therapist prior to her surgery, has lost all feeling in her fingers and can no longer raise her wrist following what should have been a routine surgery. Mrs Gold has not set brush to canvas even once after her nerves were accidentally severed.

The 70 year old woman launched a medical negligence claim against the NHS Trust for the hospital, resulting with a personal injury compensation award of £37,500, though it’s cold comfort for a woman who made her living for decades as an artist. One of Mrs Gold’s personal injury solicitors remarked that the care received by the injured woman was far below the standard of care that would have been expected, and that if there had not been a delay in remedial treatment the damage might have been repaired by subsequent surgeries, possibly restoring some measure of movement and feeling to Mrs Gold’s hand and arm.

An NHS Trust spokesman made a full, unreserved apology to the injured artist, stating that since the incident, the hospital has instituted changes in order to ensure such other unfortunate incidents would not occur in the future. However, no amount of compensation will make Mrs Gold whole, who now must live the rest of her life without being able to create art as she did before – doubtless she would trade every last penny of that compensation award to be restored to full health.