In earlier issues of our newsletter, we have expressed concern about how the most vulnerable people in our society are treated both within the health and social care system including the elderly.

We therefore welcome the report into the treatment of older people recently published by the Commission on the Dignity in Care of Older People. This report follows an 9 month search for solutions to this ongoing problem.

The Commission calls for a fundamental change in how older people are treated to stamp out mistreatment and neglect in hospitals and residential homes. All patients and residents should be treated with dignity and compassion all the time.

This means stopping using any language that belittles older people or brands them as a burden such as “bed blockers” and the need to recruit qualified nurses for the skilled and complex work that caring for older people involves.

Older people should be treated with respect and not as a nuisance and this means recruiting staff with the necessary compassion even if this involves teaching them technical skills later.

The Commission was set up last year by the NHS Confederation which represents senior NHS managers; the Local Government Association and the charity Age UK. Members reviewed and gathered evidence including submissions from 40 organisations, holding 3 days of public hearings and taking advice from academic, medical and nursing groups.

The report stresses the urgency of the need to improve the care of older people. In 2010, Britain had 10.3 million people aged 65, 17% of the population. The number aged 85 or over has doubled to 1.4 million in 15 years. Some 400,000 live in more than 18,000 care homes. There are 750,000 people with dementia.

Although, there are many hospitals and care homes doing a fantastic job and are looking after older people very well, in our experience many of these people would prefer to receive care at home and they should be encouraged to stay independent as long as possible. A hospital or care home should always be the last option. An older person who has gone into hospital for a specific problem often emerges in a much worse state, for example, with bed sores, malnutrition or a broken hip after falling from an unsecured bed. More commonly, they may be in a state of added or worse confusion due to the sedative drugs or painkillers they have been given or they are more at risk of a DVT as they have not been properly mobilised whilst being a patient at the hospital.

We hope that the government recognises these risks and will do everything it can to ensure that older people receive the support they need to remain at home as independently and as long as possible.

There should be no compromise on dignity. It is something that everyone in our society, especially the more vulnerable, should have. We should do all that we can to ensure that their remaining years are as happy and pain free as possible.



The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has received over 120 applications from businesses keen to take advantage of the new rules designed to open up the legal market to greater competition. The SRA is hoping they will issue the appropriate licences by April which would see as many as 15 companies becoming the first “alternative business structures”.

This reform, introduced by the Legal Services Act, will allow non lawyers to own shares in legal businesses for the first time – clearing the way for law firms to sell stakes to investors or combine with companies in other sectors so they are no longer strictly speaking a conventional law firm.

The “alternative business structure” is a convenient vehicle to raise capital from external investors such as a large Australian personal injury practice which has recently acquired a well known English firm. This will now provide them with a foothold in the UK market.

Other well known companies from outside the legal sector such as the Co-op and BT are also keen to offer their members (and non members) legal services.

In our view, these companies will target the consumer legal market especially in such areas as low value personal injury claims, employment cases, will writing and conveyancing.



As a personal injury practice who often represent cyclists who have suffered injuries in road accidents, we support The Times in their campaign to improve the safety of cycling in Britain’s towns and cities. The number of cyclists either killed or seriously injured continues to rise each year and cyclists in Britain are three times more likely to be killed than one in the Netherlands and twice as likely as a cyclist in either Denmark or Germany.

It seems that lorries pose a particular danger to cyclists. They account for just 5% of traffic but cause almost 20% of cyclists’ deaths. The Times would like to see a new covenant for cycling introduced which has statutory force.

This covenant has eight key requirements:-

  • lorries entering a city or town centre should be required by law to fit sensors, alarms, extra mirrors and safety bars to stop cyclists being thrown under their wheels;
  • the 500 most dangerous road junctions to be made safer for cyclists;
  • there should be a national audit of cycling to find out how many people cycle in Britain and how many are killed or injured each year;
  • 2% of the Highways Agency budget should be earmarked for the next generation of cycle routes which could provide anything upto £100 million a year to improve the cycling infrastructure;
  • the training of cyclists and drivers must be improved;
  • 20mph should become the default speed limit in residential areas where there are no cycle lanes;
  • businesses should be encouraged to help sponsor cycleways;
  • every city should appoint a cycling commissioner to improve the quality of cycling proficiency

We welcome this covenant. In our experience, a tiny mistake made by a driver can cost the life of a cyclist or leave the cyclist very badly injured. We welcome any changes which will make cycling safer.


Some stats on cycling

  • 42% of people in Britain own a bicycle
  • 3.1bn miles cycled in Britain in 2010
  • 111 cyclists were killed on Britain’s roads in 2010, up 7% on 2009
  • 26% of cycle deaths involve a lorry or a van
  • 2,660 cyclists were seriously injured in 2010
  • 3 times more likely to be killed cycling in Britain compared with cycling in the Netherlands
  • 87% of respondents to a British Cycling survey said they had had an accident or near miss
  • 16 miles average distance travelled by regular cyclists in Britain each week


Changes at S J Edney

We are pleased to tell our clients and readers that Chris Evans’ training contract is now coming to an end and he has agreed to stay with our firm as a qualified solicitor as from the 01 April 2011. Chris initially trained as a dentist and his medical background and passion for helping victims who have been injured will be a big addition to our firm.

Congratulations are also in order to Seamus Edney whose applications for continued membership of the Law Society’s Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Panels have been successful. He is only one of a handful of solicitors in Britain on both of these panels. The Panels were set up by the Law Society to provide the public with a recognised quality standard in these areas of the law. It requires all panel members to undergo a strict assessment which is subject to review every 5 years.


Latest news on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill

This bill is currently going through Parliament and there have been some welcome amendments. These include the retention of legal aid funding for experts reports in clinical negligence cases and legal aid also being retained in obstetric cases which result in severe disability.


This newsletter was produced by S J Edney solicitors Telephone: 01793 600721

Also read my blog – click here