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Tag Archive: medical negligence claims

Inquiry into rogue surgeon Ian Paterson must identify how to better protect patients and ensure they can be compensated

Ian Paterson

Having acted for a number of people who were patients of the rogue consultant breast surgeon Ian Paterson, we certainly welcome the national inquiry which has been announced by the Government this week.

Certainly, serious questions need to be asked, especially given that Paterson was not suspended from his position until eight years after concerns were first raised.

Paterson, who worked at the Heart of England NHS foundation trust (HEFT), also practised privately at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston.

He was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent and jailed for 20 years in August, having carried out needless surgery on patients who were left traumatised and scarred.

The inquiry is set to look into the reasons for the delays in stopping the unacceptable practices of this surgeon, and crucially question if more could and should have been done to protect the hundreds of patients he saw.

As compensation lawyers who support victims of medical negligence every day, we see the need for such matters to be fully investigated. It is only by doing so that the public’s faith in the medical profession can be restored in some way.

Are inspection regimes strong enough to detect rogue and poor performing health professionals?

Paterson was the man committing the crimes and has rightly been sentenced, but how and why was he able to get away with it for so long without being detected and stopped?

The Government says the scope of the investigation will include the independent sector, and it is set to examine whether the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) inspection regime needs to be strengthened.

It has certainly been a costly situation. The NHS has now paid out almost £10m in compensation to more than 250 patients, and Spire healthcare agreed in September to settle a further 750 cases.

In my view, the investigation certainly needs to and look at whether surgeons are still today being allowed to work in isolation and whether enough is being done to spot health professionals who may be a danger to patients early enough.

The reasons for the delay in stopping unacceptable behaviour must be a major focus – and the findings should be publically revealed so that all who played a part in allowing this scandal to happen are held to account. This should hopefully ensure lessons are learned to prevent something like this happening again.

From our perspective, when things do go wrong we always look for the quickest route to right the wrongs for our clients, aiming to obtain full compensation to help them get back to the position they were before they were injured, as far as money is able to achieve that.

One of the key reasons for the delays in paying compensation to our clients in this case has been the initial indication from Paterson’s own Medical Defence Organisation, the MDU, that the indemnity cover they were providing did not actually cover all of his actions as a surgeon.

This resulted in years of delays as specialised lawyers tried to extend every legal principle in the book in a search for other organisations and bodies to hold to account for his actions.

We will therefore be following the inquiry with interest to see what sort of recommendations are made in relation to arrangements for medical indemnity cover for clinicians in the independent sector to cover all aspects of medical and cosmetic treatment.

It is simply not acceptable for patients to suffer so badly, and then find there is no individual or organisation willing to accept responsibility and provide them the compensation they fully deserve and need.

Protecting patients must be the priority.

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11/12/2017 No Comments

Shocking failings and lack of action at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has put patients at risk since 2013

negligence claims

Medical Negligence Specialists

The list of failings identified from the CQC inspection included;

  • Nurses not knowing how to use specialist equipment.
  • Nurses struggling to get hold of on-call surgeons or anaesthetists at night or when complications occurred during surgery, leading to ‘a number of near misses and unexpected patient deaths in critical care’.
  • Heart surgeons not always undertaking basic pre-operative checks designed to reduce the risk of harm to patients.
  • Consultant surgeons sometimes failing to supervise trainee surgeons while they were carrying out procedures.
  • Consultant cardiac surgeons not consistently undertaking ward rounds on the cardiac surgery ward, and not always being in theatre at appropriate times.
  • The Trust failing to monitor the risks being run by patients whose operation was cancelled or who had been waiting longer than they should have been.

Hospitals must be accountable for errors

In our work as specialists in handling cases of medical negligence, we at Hudgell Solicitors believe greater transparency and accountability for errors made on hospital wards are crucial if improvements to services – which could be the difference between life and death – are to be made.

But firstly, there has to be a willingness for the people running these health facilities to be honest with the people they are there to look after.

In this situation, it is perhaps not the completely unacceptable errors and lack of following procedures which is the most alarming aspect, but the refusal to admit and tackle repeated failings, which The Guardian newspaper has claimed may have cost 17 lives over the past three years.

Staff told the CQC inspectors of “a bullying and blame culture in theatre and critical care” which made them afraid to raise concerns and report safety incidents.

Inspectors also discovered in December that the Trust“had only recently started a quality improvement programme, despite concerns being identified in 2013 during an internal review and consultants approaching the executive team in 2014 with concerns around patient mortality and morbidity.”

Our hospitals are there to help people recover from serious injury and illness, and to save lives, but in this case, there has been a shocking lack of regard to patient safety. There appears to have been a greater motive at senior levels to brush life-costing errors under the carpet, and to protect themselves from scrutiny and accountability.

Free legal advice can help question standard of care

All patients deserve to be fully in the picture as to the standards of performance of hospitals, particularly when such significant concerns have been raised.

This issue also highlights the need for patients, and their relatives, to question any perceived standards of care, should they be unhappy with the treatment received in hospital.

We know many people feel intimidated when challenging medical professionals, and it is why our experts provide free legal advice and support in medical negligence claims.

Questions must always be asked, investigations must be carried out, and hospitals making such mistakes, must be held responsible.


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09/03/2016 No Comments

Serious questions asked of Hospital Trust as swab was left in patient for 13 years

Frank Hibbard

Hudgell Solicitors are supporting a devastated widow who is demanding answers from a hospital Trust as to how a swab was left inside her husband for 13 years following an operation.

Former long-distance lorry driver Francis Hibbard was often in agony before he died, according to his wife Christine.

Now, she is asking serious questions over his treatment as when he attended at hospital shortly before his death, scans showed a retained swab in his pelvic region, which had been left there for 13 years.

A mass attached to it had calcified and grown around veins and had become the size of a melon, pressing on his rectum and bowel.

Luton and Dunstable Hospital has admitted the swab was mistakenly left behind following Mr Hibbard’s prostate operation in 2001. It was also then missed on a CT scan in 2003 and only identified in 2014 when Mr Hibbard suffered a severe deterioration.

Mr Hibbard was at that point also found to have developed multiple sites of cancer, and died before an operation to remove the mass could be carried out.

Medical Negligence Specialists

It comes as a report last week revealed such mistakes – called ‘Never Events’ in the medical profession because they are serious incidents and errors that the NHS accepts are ‘wholly preventable’ and therefore, should never happen – are being made repeatedly across the country.

Almost 1,200 such ‘unacceptable serious events’ have occurred in hospitals in England over the past four years, with mistakes including operations taking place on the wrong patient and the wrong limbs, objects being left inside the body, and even a kidney being removed instead of an ovary.

The situation has brought national media attention to the widespread failings, with Mr Hibbard’s case reported on by Sky News, the Daily Express and the Mirror newspapers.

An inquest into Mr Hibbard’s death is now due to be heard next month.

Medical negligence specialist at Hudgell Solicitors, says such a mistake should never have been allowed to happen.

“There is quite simply no excuse or explanation that can be given to defend the error of leaving a swab behind inside a patient following an operation. It is a simple case of counting the swabs in and back out again to ensure a mistake is not made,” she said.

“Mr and Mrs Hibbard were left in a total state of shock when they were told of the swab having been left in him for so long.

“He went back to hospital as the pains he was suffering were so bad, and it was a big shock to be told a large mass had developed around the retained swab and was pressing on rectum and bowel.

“It has left many serious questions to be asked as to how this sort of error could ever happen, and the full impact this had on the quality of life Mr Hibbard was able to enjoy with his family.”

Luton and Dunstable University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, has already admitted breach of duty in relation to the swab being left behind in Mr Hibbard, as well as admitting that a key opportunity was missed to spot and remove the swab on a scan.

Now, Mrs Hibbard is taking legal action against the Trust, through Hudgell Solicitors, claiming the hospital’s errors were completely unacceptable.

Christine with memories

Christine with memories

“When we went to hospital and saw the scan in June 2014, we saw a large white mass and a doctor said to us that it was clearly a swab which had been left in. It looked like a fishing hook,” said Mrs Hibbard.

“The only time it could have been from was from Frank’s prostate operation in 2001, and we were told it had calcified and grown around veins, intruding into his rectum. Frank needed an operation to remove the mass as soon as possible, but he became too weak and fell into a deep coma like sleep for seven days, before he died in my arms.

“Part of me died that day too, as ever since I have felt lost and alone. My husband of nearly fifty years and my best friend was gone forever.”

Mrs Hibbard, 70, says her husband was left in constant pain before he died in the summer of 2014.

“I feel angry. Angry firstly that a swab was left behind following his operation in 2001, and then that it was also missed on a scan,” she said.

“All those years he lived with a swab inside him. I just feel the health system badly let him down. In my view the poor treatment left him in agony and had a massive impact on his health. I am so angry and always will be.”

Having first met him when she was just 16, and married two years later in September 1964. Frank’s death, just short of his 70th birthday, has left a massive hole in the life of Mrs Hibbard, her two children and four grandchildren.

They were always there for one another, including a difficult time in their lives when losing their daughter Allison, who died nine years ago.

“The pain is still intensely raw and remains at the forefront of my mind. He is the first thing I think about when I wake and I have difficulty sleeping without him. The crushing pain comes from knowing he is never coming back,” added Mrs Hibbard.

“We went everywhere and did everything together. In the days that followed I was afraid to go out of the house. How could I on my own? Frank was my rock, and life will never be the same without him.”

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24/02/2016 No Comments

Never Events: The life-threatening, ‘wholly preventable’ NHS mistakes which happen more than 30 times a month

Hospital beds

They are called ‘Never Events’ in the medical profession, given the name because they are serious incidents and errors that the NHS accepts are ‘wholly preventable’ and therefore, should never happen.

However, a report today has highlighted how almost 1,200 such ‘unacceptable serious events’ have occurred in hospitals in England over the past four years.

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18/02/2016 No Comments

‘Wall of silence’ over hospital blunders demonstrates need for families to have access to full legal support


By Simon Wilson, senior solicitor at Hudgell Solicitors

A report by the NHS Ombudsman has concluded that families in the UK are being met with a ‘wall of silence’ when seeking answers after a loved one has died or been harmed due to ‘serious errors.’

It states that in more than half of 150 cases reviewed following official complaints, the NHS failed to carry out an independent investigation, with medics instead asked to review the blunders of their colleagues.

One in five NHS investigations were found to have been missing crucial evidence, including medical records, statements or interviews. In 73 per cent of cases in which the Ombudsman found clear failings in care, hospitals themselves had found none.

It is a hardly a report to instil confidence in the ‘transparency’ of the NHS under the Duty of Candour pushed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

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09/12/2015 No Comments

Should health and wellbeing apps receive heavier regulations?

UntitledThe increase of a health conscious nation has led to a significant boom in medical health and wellbeing apps, with over 500 million users in the UK. The convenience of an instant diagnosis can be appealing, but some health apps offer inconsistent or inaccurate data. Without sufficient regulation, consumers could be at risk of misdiagnosis and avoid seeking appropriate medical advice.

British Life Science minister, George Freeman, stressed the importance and benefits of health apps by stating that: “We need to continue to encourage patients and citizens to use new technologies to better manage their health, care and treatment. And they need to feel confident in doing so.”

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20/11/2015 No Comments

Patient safety highlighted as a major concern at health providers across the UK


A new report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – described as providing the fullest picture yet of the state of care across England – has highlighted many areas of concern.

The national ‘State of Care’ report has concluded that more than half of hospitals inspected require improvement – with 13 per cent considered ‘inadequate’ in terms of patient safety.

In all, the CQC found three-quarters of the 79 hospital trusts it inspected to have safety problems. More than 40 per cent of care and nursing homes and home care services and one in three GP services were also highlighted as having problems with safety.

As specialists in handling cases of medical negligence, much of our work at Hudgell Solicitors centres around investigating health providers who have failed simply in their duty of care. Avoidable errors are made, and these can have devastating, life-changing consequences for the patients involved.

These recent inspections, which were part of a new “tougher” regime headed by chief inspector of hospitals Professor Sir Mike Richards, considered how well health and care providers are protecting patients from abuse and harm.

Figures showing that more than one in every 10 hospitals failed to meet the expected safety standards, and that 937 warning notices were handed out to care home demanding urgent improvements, highlight that vast improvements need to be made.

This report was compiled by considering five factors. Inspectors looked for safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led establishments.

Staffing levels have of course been highlighted as a reason for standards dipping, but it is interesting to note that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said it is cuts made to senior nursing roles which is having the biggest impact, having a negative effect on training and leadership skills.

Indeed, the RCN says there are 5,000 more nurses now registered than there was in 2014, and 7,000 more than in 2010, so to simply say there is not enough staff on wards appears to be something of a red herring.

Leadership and direction is clearly lacking, however.

Throughout the findings in this report, there is a clear link between quality of leadership and quality of services. All inadequate services had inadequate leadership (84 per cent) and 94 per cent of services rated good or outstanding had good or outstanding for leadership.

This suggests the failings are not on the wards or in theatres, where we find thousands of dedicated, talented and caring medical professionals and staff across the country, but in the leadership and direction from the top.

There is a clear need to tighten and improve policies, procedures and standards across the UK, as only by doing so will we see consistently high-quality services delivered.

It is for that reason that we believe we continue to play a crucial role in our work at Hudgell Solicitors in holding health trusts to account over poor care.

We represent the patients, and as today’s report has highlighted, there is still much work to be done to provide us all with standard of care we deserve.




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15/10/2015 No Comments

Relatives must raise concerns over health and care services to hold providers to account

Kath Lavery Hudgell SolicitorsBy Kath Lavery, non-executive chairman of Hudgell Solicitors

There are three things which have to consistently happen to ensure the standard of health and care services across our region, and the UK, continually improve.

Firstly, we must always listen to people and ensure an independent voice is heard over health care standards.

Patients and their loved ones are the people who experience services first hand. They know where health and care providers succeed, and they also know where they fall short.

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12/10/2015 No Comments

Making quality of life as good as it can be is the key focus of World Cerebral Palsy Day

Rosamund Rhodes -Kemp

By Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, head of clinical negligence at Hudgell Solicitors, London

When reflecting upon the impact I’ve had as a medical negligence solicitor representing a family or client in a case, I never judge my own performance or success on the amount of compensation I have secured.

Yes, the figures can sometimes make for headlines in newspapers, particularly when such payments reach six, or perhaps seven figures, but the true test of any settlement is the difference it makes to a client’s quality of life.

“Nottingham family win multi-million pound High Court payout for brain-damaged son” read the headline in a local newspaper when Hudgell Solicitors supported the family of George Muir.

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07/10/2015 No Comments

Concern for 170 patients of Birmingham prostate surgeon after allegedly diagnosing cancer wrongly

Manu Nair inquiry

By Simon Wilson, senior solicitor at Hudgell Solicitors

It seems quite inconceivable that a patient could wrongly be told they have a form of cancer by an experienced surgeon, and then undergo surgery to remove it, when in fact they didn’t have cancer at all.

Being told you have cancer is a life-changing moment for patients and their loved ones. In the moment patients are told, their life changes for ever.

It is perhaps for that reason that many doctors often find themselves facing criticism for not diagnosing cancer early enough.

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02/10/2015 No Comments

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