We would have no hesitation at all in contacting Blake Lapthorn if ever the need arose at any time in the future. Thank you again not only for the professional manner in which you handled our claim, but also the care and consideration you showed whilst doing so. We have no complaints whatsoever and the matter was handled in a competent and timely manner.
Mrs H, Gosport
My Pride in being a Clinical Negligence lawyer
Wed 18th Apr 2012 Clinical negligence
I am very proud of, and enjoy, my job as a clinical negligence lawyer. I love the fact that every day I work (extremely hard) to make sure that people who have been injured because of a mistake by a doctor, nurse, or more often, a communication problem between the two, receive the compensation that they not only deserve, but also need, to enable them to have as good a quality of life as possible.
I face ridicule on a regular basis about being an "ambulance chaser". Nothing could be further from the truth. It is illegal to 'cold call' people to find out if they have a potential claim, and our firm would certainly not do that. On rare occasions I am asked to 'phone someone, who is still in hospital. When in that vulnerable position, talking to a solicitor is the last thing that someone needs to do in terms of rehabilitation. They are just scared, and want someone to talk to.
In clinical negligence cases, we are often not contacted until a number of years after the date of surgery/clinical mistake. This is because the individual has reasonably hoped that they will get better and will not have to bring a claim. Patients accept that they will need time to recover from illnesses/surgery, and that there may be complications.
Sometimes however, something does go wrong that should not have done. The patient has often already complained to the hospital. If they are lucky, they will have received a partial apology, but no admission that any failings identified have caused the problems that they are suffering from.
I have read numerous Serious Untoward Incident Reports (SUIs) that have been carried out by the NHS Trust concerned, which identify problems with the care that a patient received, but conclude that this did not necessarily cause further injury, or even death.
Don't get me wrong, I speak to a number of people each week, who are upset with the standard of medical care they received, but have no prospect of bringing a clinical negligence claim (although they might well have reason to complain), but this does not mean that there are not people who have a genuine reason to claim.
I have been instructed by, and successfully obtained compensation for, a number of deserving clients who have negligently been left doubly incontinent and sexually dysfunctional because symptoms of spinal cord compression have not been recognised when they should have been. I have also acted for terminally ill cancer patients, who should have been diagnosed and treated at a time before the disease became terminal. How can this be criticised?
I have nothing against the NHS. I rely upon treatment from this most wonderful service and have no problem with my children receiving treatment from them. As with every organisation, though sometimes things go wrong, and who, when this causes life-changing injuries, should this cost fall upon?
There are currently government proposals in place, which are planned to take effect from later this year, which portray personal injury solicitors, including myself, as ambulance chasers and just out to make money from injured individuals. This definitely does not take place at our firm. Although I am in the clinical negligence team, I have regular contact with the personal injury team, and am aware of their embarrassment if they call somebody who is still in hospital.
From a personal perspective, I strongly believe that the only person that should not have to pay for a medical mistake that has occurred, is the negligently injured individual. At the end of the day, increased NHS costs, including those incurred by the NHS Litigation Authority (the NHS' insurance body) and/or Legal Aid costs, which are also the subject of the proposed reforms, are all publically funded costs. In the event that a claim is against an insurer, as in the case of some privately employed doctors, product insurers, employers' insurers or indeed a motor insurer, the cost of increased premiums, is spread amongst all premium payers.
Whilst the cost of negligently caused injuries sustained by individuals should ideally be met by the person, or body, who has made the mistake, in reality, this cost is met by the tax-payer and those who take out insurance policies. The increased cost of insurance is ultimately met by us all. I might moan about increased insurance premiums and taxes, but at the end of the day, I would prefer that the cost of supporting a child, who as a result of a negligent delivery, has sustained cerebral palsy that will affect them for the entirety of their life, is met by us, society as a whole, than by the family, or, even worse, the child.
I love, and remain proud of, the work that I do.
Senior Solicitor - Clinical Negligence team
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