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Medical Negligence

Have You Suffered Because Of A Cancelled Operation?

Thousands of hospital appointments have been cancelled due to NHS strikes. Has this made you medical condition worse? Find out if you could claim.

Have You Suffered Because Of A Cancelled Operation?

Operations Cancelled Due To NHS Strikes

Thousands of hospital appointments have been cancelled due to NHS strikes. Scores of hospital trusts across the country have been affected by nurses’ and ambulance crews’ walkouts.

Midwives have also been balloted on industrial action. Physiotherapists say their members support industrial action but have yet to act.

So where does this leave the patient? We sympathise with nurses’ concerns about pay and “chronic understaffing.” But what if delays and cancellations caused by strikes make your condition worse? You may be able to claim compensation.

Why Early Treatment Is So Important

Your hospital appointment may have been cancelled due to strike action: the trust may have had to prioritise more urgent admissions.

And even if your appointment went ahead, your diagnosis or treatment might have been rushed due to time pressures. The clinicians who treated you may have missed something important or made other mistakes.

GPs and hospitals have a duty of care to you when they accept you as a patient. If they commit errors due to time pressures then they may be in breach of that duty of care.

Impact Of Strike Action On Cancer Care

Everyone knows that cancer cases are urgent. The need to diagnose and treat cancer as early as possible is all too obvious. And in theory, cancer services should be exempt and protected from strike action.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be an impact on cancer care. There have been concerns over whether colonoscopies – diagnostic tests for bowel cancer – would be affected by the nurses’ strike.

Services not considered life-preserving could be “derogated,” said Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Meanwhile, Britain’s largest cancer charity has warned that the government risks reducing the chances of patients surviving the disease if it fails to resolve NHS pay disputes.

Strikes by nurses and ambulance staff would make it “harder and harder” for the NHS to stop cancer patients from dying early, said Cancer Research UK chief executive Michelle Mitchell.

Find out more here about claiming compensation for late diagnosis or misdiagnosis of cancer.

How Delays Exacerbate Other Serious Medical Conditions

Cancer is not the only serious medical condition that requires rapid diagnosis and treatment. Here are three more:

  • Cauda Equina Syndrome – compression of nerves at the base of the spinal cord – must be diagnosed and treated within 24-48 hours or the patient will suffer devastating lifelong consequences. This crippling and irreversible back condition can cause incontinence, sexual dysfunction, weakness of the lower limbs and even paralysis. Learn more here.
  • Appendicitis can kill if it is not treated in time – but doctors do not always diagnose it promptly because the position of the appendix may vary. (Sometimes it can move behind the colon.) Diagnosis can be further complicated by the similarity of appendicitis symptoms to other conditions. Read more about it here.
  • Ectopic pregnancies are extremely dangerous and traumatic for mothers-to-be. They always result in the loss of the baby. They can also threaten the life of the mother, or prevent her from ever having children again. Early diagnosis is essential. Find out more here.

But less serious injuries can also be impacted significantly by delays in diagnosis and treatment…

Don’t Delay Treating Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are very common. That is because the shoulder’s broad range of movement makes it more vulnerable to strain, ageing and repetitive injuries compared with other joints in the body.

As a result, virtually everyone aged 18 to 88 will experience some form of shoulder injury in their life. Swift treatment is essential – and that starts with early and accurate diagnosis. Delays may mean the injury is less likely to respond to non-surgical treatment such as physical therapy or anti-inflammatory drugs. Delaying treatment for a torn rotator cuff – the most common form of shoulder injury – can increase the risk of further damage.

Leave it too long and you may be forced to have surgery that could otherwise have been avoided. That means more pain, a longer recovery – and all the inherent risks that accompany invasive surgical procedures.

These surgical risks can include infections, anaesthesia injuries and, in very rare cases, ‘never events’ – medical blunders so fundamentally wrong that they are utterly inexcusable, such as swabs or surgical instruments being left inside the patient.

Shocking as it may sound, the NHS in England reported 231 never events between 1 April 2022 and 31 October 2022; there were also 13 other serious incidents that did not qualify as never events. Download these pdfs from the NHS in England for more information.

Ankle Injuries – Delays Can Lead To Instability

Ankles are another part of the body where delaying treatment for injuries can have an impact. The ligaments can stretch and become lax, leading to instability.

It is estimated that one-in-four sports injuries involves ankles. Correct, prompt treatment is essential – otherwise you risk storing up trouble for later in life. Decades after your injury, your ankle could be a weak point and a source of pain. That could have serious mobility consequences as you try to remain active in later life.

Ankle fractures can take a long time to heal, as much as two years. Given the time involved – and the impact on your earnings and quality of life – the last thing you need is more delays. If the fractured bone does not heal correctly, it may even have to be rebroken and reset.

Christmas And Weekends – The Impact On Care

The NHS strikes could not have come at a worse time – especially as the health service continues to struggle with the extra demands caused by the annual winter ‘flu bug and the aftermath of the Covid19 pandemic.

Christmas is not a good time to get sick. Our medical negligence solicitors know all too well that the NHS is more likely to make serious mistakes during the Christmas period than at other times of the year. (Although it seems to cope well enough during the summer holiday months.)

So if you do have the misfortune to be in hospital over the Christmas period, you need to keep your wits about you – don’t just glibly accept everything you’re told. Question statements, diagnoses or suggested treatments that you’re not sure about. And question the answers if you’re not happy with them.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you think the NHS was underperforming and that your medical condition was worsened as a result.

Claim Compensation For Medical Negligence – No Win, No Fee

Coles Miller handles all medical negligence claims on a no win, no fee basis so there is no financial risk to you. And 99% of all claims never go to court – they are settled out of court beforehand.

With no win no fee, you pay nothing in the unlikely event that you lose your case. We as a firm (and your insurers) carry the risk on your behalf.

This ensures that you have a high chance of winning your case. No win no fee was brought in by the government to encourage lawyers to take on cases only if they thought they had a good chance of winning.

No win, no fee is known in legal circles as a conditional fee arrangement (CFA).

Click here to find out more about no the win no fee claims process.

Get Expert Legal Advice On Medical Negligence Compensation Claims

Medical negligence and other personal injury litigation has become more complex over the years as the legislation and claims processes have changed.

Many High Street law firms now no longer take on these serious injury claims. Instead, they refer them to specialist medical negligence and personal injury solicitors such as Coles Miller.

Our expert team of medical negligence solicitors is led by Coles Miller Partner David Simpson, whose specialisms include Cauda Equina, mismanaged labour (injuries to babies and mothers), ectopic pregnancies, appendicitis, surgical errors and vascular complications. He is based at our Poole office.

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