Pryers

Possible legal action over Thomas Smith’s meningitis death

Thomas Smith

 

“It is clear that the paediatric team at the Prince Charles Hospital were not working effectively to ensure treatment was commenced as early as possible.”
- Statement from Thomas Smith’s family

The family of a schoolboy who died from meningitis say they are considering legal action against the hospital, which delayed giving him antibiotics.

Thomas Smith, from Hednesford, was on holiday when he was admitted to Prince Charles Hospital, in Merthyr Tydfil, with six meningitis symptoms.

An inquest found the hospital made “gross failures” when doctors failed to start him on antibiotics for more than four hours.

He died on his 13th birthday last year.

Thomas’s parents Andrew and Emma Smith said their son had been “let down” by doctors at the hospital.

A statement issued through their solicitor Lawyer Zak Golombeck said: “The coroner found that there were numerous gross failures in the care afforded to Thomas.

“As such the coroner has decided to write a report to the chief coroner and the health board to ensure that future deaths do not occur in these circumstances.

Hospital criticised

“It is clear that the paediatric team at the Prince Charles Hospital were not working effectively to ensure treatment was commenced as early as possible.

“In essence, they let Thomas down.”

Mr Golombeck said he was advising the family with regard to legal action.

Coroner Christopher Woolley criticised the hospital for failing the schoolboy in their duty of care and ordered a report to prevent similar deaths taking place at Prince Charles Hospital.

Thomas, of Hednesford, near Birmingham, was referred to the hospital by an out-of-hours GP when he fell ill in May 2013.

He was seen by Dr Kwong-Tou Yip and consultant paediatrician Dr Ezzat Afifi who both gave him paracetamol.

Four hours later he was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and was eventually given antibiotics.

He later fell into a coma and was transferred to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff but never recovered.

On Tuesday, chief executive of Cwm Taf University Health Board, Allison Williams, said the health board would consider the coroner’s findings and continue to implement the changes required to address any failings in service.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-28129368

NHS blunders led to Devon toddler’s death

Sam Morrish

A string of blunders by NHS workers led to the death of a three-year-old Devon boy, a review has found.

Sam Morrish died in December 2010 from a treatable condition because four health service organisations made mistakes, the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) said.

He died of severe sepsis after a “catalogue of errors”.

Sam’s parents also said they had “serious concerns about the competence and accountability” of the ombudsman.

Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said that had Sam received the appropriate care, he would still be alive today.

Cricketfield GP Surgery, NHS Direct, Devon Doctors Ltd and South Devon NHS Trust were all criticised.

Failures included inadequate assessment of the toddler, not recognising that he was vomiting blood and a three-hour delay before he received antibiotics at hospital.

‘Factual errors’

His family said as well as losing their son, they feel they have been “failed” by the NHS complaints system.

In a statement released through the Patients Association, they also criticised the ombudsman.

“The astonishing length of time it has taken for PHSO to finalise this report has inescapably prolonged our distress.

“Although we are grateful that the PHSO has upheld our complaints… we are left with serious concerns about the competence, capability and accountability of the PHSO itself.”

Sam’s mother Susannah Morrish said: “The report looks the way it does because of our constant intervention.

“The fact there had to be two draft reports, both of which looked radically different to this final report, says something.

“Our involvement included providing information, pointing out omissions, correcting factual errors.

“Our thoughts were if we didn’t do this, who would?”

Sam’s father Scott Morrish said: “The thing that we’re still trying to push for is, we’re not clear who the ombudsman is accountable to, we’re not clear who really understands what happens behind the scenes there, and we’re not entirely sure that Parliament is actually able to look at anything more than what comes out in the report.”

Dame Julie said: “I accept that the family are right that the investigation method used in this case was not adequate to the complexity of the case.

“I really recognise that this contributed to the family’s distress and we have apologised for that and thanked the family for their feedback on the particular method we used in this case, because we are developing new investigation methods.”

Dame Julie said that Sam’s devastated family suffered “further injustice” because health officials failed to properly investigate the youngster’s death.

“But this case has to be looked at in the context of taking on over 4,000 cases to investigate every year, and receiving very few complaints about the quality of our decision making.

“When we do, we treat it like gold dust to help us improve our service.

“We’ve published this case so that the wider NHS learns from Sam’s death,” she added.

NHS England was ordered to pay £20,000 to the family.

Mr Morrish said: “The irony is we never wanted to lodge a formal complaint.

“We only did because we were advised to by the Patients Association in response to the NHS completely getting it wrong, not once, but twice.

“We didn’t want it to be about blame, we wanted it to result in good learning.”

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-28029149)

Pryers Solicitors LLP is one of the first to use new, free text message service to raise funds

Pryers team the ‘Pryers Ladies’  will be amongst the first in the country to use its own, unique personalised text code, PRYE55 to raise funds using JustTextGiving.

This is a brand new, free service for charities, and fundraisers that has no set up or fundraising costs for charities, no network charges for people making donations and every penny donated goes to charity.  Gift Aid can also be added to donations.

From today, supporters of Pryers Ladies can make donations of up to £10 by texting PRYE55 and either 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 to 70070 to make their donation.  The text message is free and all of the donation will be passed to Cancer Research UK.

Marie Brasnett-Mellor from Pryers said: “This is a wonderful way for us to raise money as it’s speedy, simple and spontaneous.  Most people have a mobile phone these days so we expect this to be very popular with our supporters.”

For further information contact Marie Brasnett-Mellor at Pryers on 01904 556600 or marie@pryers.co.uk

For further information about JustTextGiving by Vodafone please visit justtextgiving.co.uk

New laws to stop claims firms giving away tablet PCs

crashed car

Lawyers and claims firms are to be banned from offering incentives such as free tablet computers to encourage people to make insurance claims

Courts will also be given powers to refuse compensation for claimants who have been dishonest.

The measures, announced by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), are among several aimed at reducing insurance fraud.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling has warned insurance companies he expects the reforms to lead to lower premiums.

The MoJ is promising to legislate for the changes before the end of the current Parliament in May 2015.

If the plans become law, claims firms will no longer be able to offer potential clients free gifts, such as tablet computers, or cash.

‘Compensation culture’

x-ray of neck

At least one firm in the UK advertises a “free iPad” to clients whose claim is successful.

Another offers “an upfront cash advance of £2,000″ if the party at fault admits full liability.

The news was welcomed by insurance industry body the Association of British Insurers.

“We applaud the decision to ban the distasteful advertising which offers cash or other inducements for personal injury claims,” said the body’s director general, Otto Thoresen.

“This only serves to reinforce to unscrupulous claimants that there is a compensation culture to exploit.”

Whiplash

At the moment, courts can decide to pay some compensation to clients for their injuries, even though they may have exaggerated them.

Under the proposed changes, courts would be required to block all such compensation, if the claimant had been shown to be fundamentally dishonest.

The courts would only have discretion over this in cases where “substantial injustice” would otherwise be caused.

The government says the changes will help cut the cost of motor insurance in particular.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling

 

Mr Grayling told BBC Breakfast: “These measures are designed to drive down on the cost of motor insurance.

“I’ve got a clear message to insurance companies – I expect to see those reforms converted into lower premiums for motorists…. I’m doing my bit – I expect them to do their bit.”

Last week, figures showed that fraud in the insurance industry was running at a record £1.3bn a year and costs every householder £50 a year on their premiums.

Rules on whiplash claims are also due to come into force this autumn.

From October, new independent medical boards will assess such claims, to tighten up on people who claim for false whiplash injuries.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27733576)

Wigan hospital not to blame for baby death

Luke Weaving-Shorrocks aged two months

A hospital has been absolved of any blame after a baby was born with brain damage in a “horrific” delivery.

Luke Weaving-Shorrocks suffered the injuries after becoming stuck during birth at Wigan’s Royal Albert Edward Infirmary on 17 May 2011.

An inquest at Bolton Coroners Court heard the baby was delivered by caesarean section but died of a cardiac arrest in August that year.

Solicitors for the family say they are now considering legal action.

The court was told how Luke’s head had become stuck in his mother Victoria Weaving-Shorrocks’ pelvis during labour, and two attempts to deliver Luke by suction failed.

He was eventually delivered by a caesarean section, but suffered multiple fractures and brain damage.

‘Prompt treatment’

The baby was treated at Hope Hospital for three weeks then returned to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary for another two weeks before being discharged.

He died on 14 August 2011 after going into cardiac arrest, despite the efforts of his father and paramedics, who managed to resuscitate him at first.

Recording a narrative verdict, coroner Kevin McLaughlin said: “Prompt treatment was provided by his father, paramedics and paediatric clinicians after his arrival at hospital.

“This initially succeeded in resuscitating him, but Luke later suffered further cardiac arrests and died in the arms of his parents.”

Mrs Weaving-Shorrocks, 33, from Wigan, had earlier told the court how the “absolute joy” of having her first baby turned into a “horrific ordeal”.

A statement from Linder Myers Solicitors, representing the family, said if the warning signs had been spotted earlier, he “would have been born healthy”. They will be pursuing a claim of medical negligence against the Trust.

A statement from Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust extended “sincere sympathies” to the family.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-27518981)

Devon councils pay out £2.5m in injury compensation

Two Devon councils have paid out about £2.5m over four years to compensate people for personal injury after incidents such as tripping on pavements.

Plymouth City Council paid out about £2.1m and Torbay Council £400,000 between 2010 and 2013, replies to a BBC freedom of information request showed.

The highest single payout for either unitary council was £105,000.

Devon County Council refused to respond to the information request.

Harbour fall

In Plymouth, the total paid out ranged from £638,000 for 79 claims in 2011 to £301,000 for 68 claims in 2012.

Plymouth’s largest payout was in 2010, compensating someone £105,000 for a back injury sustained as a result of a “footway surface defect”.

The council said it only paid out if it was liable and that only three out of 10 claims were successful.

In Torbay, payout totals ranged from £83,000 in 2010 for 21 claims, to about £118,000 for 15 claims in 2011.

‘Compensation culture myth’

Torbay Council said one of its highest payouts was £37,000 to someone who fell into a harbour in Torbay in 2011, injuring their back and neck

James Browne, from Stones Solicitors in Exeter, said: “If a local authority has behaved reasonably and can show it then the injured person will not get a payout.

“I think it’s a myth that there is a compensation culture. I haven’t noticed any huge increase in the number of claims coming through.”

Devon County Council said it did not respond to the request because collating the information would take up too much of its officers’ time.

Cornwall Council paid out about £800,000, and Dorset County Council £133,000 between 2010 and 2013.

The Local Government Association said it could not comment on the figures because it did not collect statistics.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-26964017)

Southampton Hip Claim Time Limit

Deadline Approaches for Metal-on-Metal Hip Claims

Pryers Solicitors currently act for a large group of Southampton patients who have suffered the early failure of metal-on-metal total hip replacement devices.

Metal-on-metal hip replacements have all performed quite poorly, certainly worse than expected and worse than the older products they were intended to outlast.  Not only have they failed earlier, but the way in which they have failed has been particularly damaging.

In many cases, the junction between the metal head and the stem suffers from excessive wear.  In other cases, the metal stem corrodes.  Both processes lead to the release of metal debris into the surrounding muscle and bone causing damage and death of those tissues.  Metal debris is also released into the patient’s blood.  As a result, many patients have had to undergo surgery for the removal of the hip device, which often results in permanent disability and the need for yet more surgery.

The Southampton hip

A particular hip replacement device used in Southampton has a failure rate many times higher than the national average.  One paper has reported a failure rate of 15% at 5 years.  We believe that failure rate to be almost twice that at 8 years.  In contrast, the National Joint Registry provides, for hip replacements generally, a 5 year failure rate of 2.75% and an 8 year failure rate of 4.5%.

Southampton Hip

Time limits

Claims are being brought against the producer under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.  Under this law, there are two separate time limits.  Firstly, cases must be started within three years of the date on which the patient first suspected that they had suffered injury due to a defective medical product.  However, the case must also be started within 10 years of the supply of the product, regardless of when the patient received it or when it failed.

If the claim is not started within this time limit, then the case will be out of time.

The Southampton hips were first used in 2003 and so a few will be already out of time.

Therefore, if you have been fitted with a metal-on-metal hip replacement in Southampton and it has failed or is failing, we urge you to contact Pryers solicitors as soon as possible.  By taking some simple steps, we can ensure that your case is protected from the expiry of this time limit.

Most of Pryers’ clients’ claims are funded by conditional fee agreements (“no win no fee”), under which no legal costs are payable if the claim is unsuccessful.  Legal costs are only payable if the case is successful and, in that situation, the majority of the costs are paid by the defendant.

Please contact Pryers by email at hips@pryers.co.uk; by telephone on 0800 316 0166; or through our website www.pryers.co.uk.

This does not concern metal-on-metal hip resurfacings.

Success for Pryers’ Trainees

Pryers are celebrating two new Solicitors in their midst as Kimberley Snape and Jamie Paddock have qualified in February and March this year.

In addition to this, Kristi Hale has been awarded a training contract and Jonathan Gray is due to start his training contract later in the year.

Pryers are committed to offering advancement to their staff. They already have two employees at the firm who have worked through the ranks from Office Assistants to now working as Fee Earners in the personal injury department with their own cases.

Principal Ian Pryer said “ It is important to recognise the talent we already have in our firm and we are always happy to help our staff achieve their ambitions by our encouragement and significant training. It gives us a much more loyal team and really helps the firm as a whole.”

Pryers specialise in medical negligence, product liability and personal injury. If you would like to find out more about the firm please see their website at www.pryers.co.uk

FGM: UK’s first female genital mutilation prosecutions announced

Whittington Hospital

The first UK prosecutions over female genital mutilation have been announced by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena, 31, of Ilford, east London, will be prosecuted for an alleged offence while working at the Whittington Hospital in London.

Hasan Mohamed, 40, of Holloway, north London, faces a charge of intentionally encouraging female genital mutilation.

Dr Dharmasena and Mr Mohamed will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 15 April.

‘Sufficient evidence’

In a statement, director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders said the CPS was asked by the Metropolitan Police to consider evidence in relation to an allegation of female genital mutilation (FGM).

It was alleged that following a patient giving birth in November 2012, a doctor at the Whittington Hospital repaired female genital mutilation that had previously been performed on the woman, allegedly carrying out female genital mutilation himself.

Ms Saunders said: “Having carefully considered all the available evidence, I have determined there is sufficient evidence and it would be in the public interest to prosecute Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena for an offence contrary to S1 (1) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003).

“I have also determined that Hasan Mohamed should face one charge of intentionally encouraging an offence of FGM, contrary to section 44(1) of the Serious Crime Act (2007), and a second charge of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring Dr Dharmasena to commit an offence contrary to S1 (1) of the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003).

“These decisions were taken in accordance with the code for crown prosecutors.”

NHS trust Whittington Health, which runs the Whittington Hospital, said it had contacted police and started its own investigation when staff raised concerns following a birth in November 2012.

Misunderstanding

The CPS has decided to take no further action in four other cases of alleged FGM.

In one of those cases it was alleged that two parents had arranged for their daughter to undergo female genital mutilation while abroad.

In another, a suspect contacted an FGM helpline to request the procedure for his two daughters after misunderstanding the purpose of the service for victims.

The CPS is currently considering whether to proceed with four other cases.

Prosecutors have also had discussions with police over investigations into two further cases, which are at an early stage.

‘Unforgivable’

The UK has in the past been compared unfavourably to other countries over the issue, such as France where there have been more than 100 successful prosecutions.

MPs have said it is “unforgivable” that there have been no UK prosecutions since laws against FGM were introduced nearly 30 years ago.

This was despite more than 140 referrals to police in the past four years.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 replaced a 1985 Act, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, raising the maximum penalty from five to 14 years in prison.

It also made it an offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to carry out FGM abroad even in countries where it is legal.

Home Office minister James Brokenshire said the government had “stepped up its response” to “take this crime out of the shadows” and give victims the confidence to come forward.

He said the “key message” was that the government took FGM “extremely seriously”.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is writing to every school in England to ask them to help protect girls from FGM.

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26681364)

Heart of York Bike Ride

A team from Pryers Solicitors are taking on this year’s Heart of York bike ride, raising cash for the British Heart Foundation.

Click here to read the full article.