Personal injury

Hazards in the workplace – keeping your team safe

Whether you work in a warehouse, in a shop, in a restaurant or behind a desk, every workplace presents its own hazards. Being aware of these hazards is the first step in ensuring you and your team are safe. Please be aware that this list is by no means comprehensive, and it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for other potential hazards which are not listed in this blog.

CQC levels its sights at GP practices

GPs around the country woke to two lots of news last week: first that the CQC risk register of GP practices (whereby their practices had been risk-assessed by the CQC and given a rating indicating whether they were good, bad or indifferent)has been made public; and second, that NICE has issued guidelines to help them decide whether or not a patient needs to be referred for possible cancer treatment. Although not immediately obvious, there is a connection between the two: the CQC risk register was arrived at using a list of indicators against which each practice was rated, including diagnosis and referral rates for various conditions including cancer. Both initiatives are designed to improve the effectiveness of practices and, in doing so, head off potential accusations of negligent treatment and inefficiency as GPs come under greater pressure to offer more for less. Needless to say, the NICE guidelines have received a warmer welcome than the risk register.

Personal injury solicitors blamed for rise in medical negligence claims

The NHS Litigation Authority’s (NHSLA) recent annual report’s statistics relating to the rising number and cost of medical negligence claims have made alarming headlines - roughly translated as ‘medical negligence claims up by 18% - personal injury solicitors to blame!’. As with most stories, the reality is rather less straightforward; yes, the number of medical negligence claims are up by 18% from 2012/13 – but numbers of claims have been steadily increasing, year on year, for the past 10 years. As for personal injury solicitors shouldering the blame – again the reality is not quite so black and white.

Aviva proposes removal of compensation for whiplash injuries

Aviva, the insurance company, has certainly ruffled a few feathers with the publication of its recent report ‘Road to Reform: Tackling the UK’s Compensation Culture’ which proposes replacing compensation for minor injuries (the focus being primarily on whiplash) sustained in road accidents with payment for medical treatment. In addition the recommendations include restricting the involvement of personal injury lawyers in settling claims by raising the threshold at which they can act for claimants from £1000 to £5000; and banning referral fees for vehicle recovery, repairs and car hire.

The Saatchi Bill – medical innovation under the microscope

Following the death of his wife in 2011 from ovarian cancer, Lord Saatchi introduced a Bill allowing doctors to offer patients suffering from diseases or conditions that were not responding to conventional medicine, innovative treatments that had not necessarily been subjected to rigorous testing. The underlying motivation for the Bill is the belief that many doctors are deterred from trying new procedures for fear of being sued for medical negligence. The arguments for and against the Medical Innovation Bill, more commonly referred to as the Saatchi Bill, are heated: proponents argue that doctors’ hands are tied by guidelines which are too prescriptive – even when tried and tested treatments are no longer working; while opponents believe that the current law does not stop doctors trying new procedures but does, more importantly, protect patients against irresponsible experimentation.

Claims for birth injuries have risen by 80%

At the end of 2012, the NHS Litigation Authority produced a report which had studied claims against the NHS arising from medical errors in maternity services over a ten year period. The report concluded that giving birth in a NHS hospital was safe although it acknowledged that there was room for improvement in some aspects. During the ten years that the report covered, less than one medical negligence claim was made per 1000 babies born which should provide some comfort to expectant mothers. However, the report also found that since 2008 claims made for birth injuries have risen by 80% and, because of the seriousness of such injuries to both mother and baby, account for around a third of the NHS litigation budget.

Care of the elderly – a medical negligence time bomb?

A report commissioned by Age UK and the Royal College of Surgeons, ‘Access all Ages’, which is a follow up to their initial one in 2012, reveals that many elderly people are being refused elective surgery despite such surgery being key to their quality of life. In another report, recent figures suggest that 30% of patients are responsible for 70% of NHS spending. The majority are people with long term health issues, many of whom are elderly with multiple, chronic conditions. Both reports suggest that many of our elderly are caught in a downward spiral of health deterioration with the health and social care systems either unwilling or unable to help them.
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