WELCOME to our Summer newsletter and we hope that all our readers are enjoying the recent sunny spell. As always, the press are full of “doom and gloom” stories about the NHS ranging from the A & E service being in crisis and likely to result in more negligence claims and the dangers of going into hospital on Friday when apparently the risk of dying soars. What the media do not report enough is that the vast majority of people who receive treatment in the NHS are happy with their experiences. The quality of care most patients receive and the commitment of the NHS staff is often jaw dropping. Very few will suffer any injury at the hands of their doctors. If this does happen, it has always been our position at S J Edney that these patients should be compensated fully (and quickly) for their losses.
DR DAVINDERJIT BAINS JAILED FOR SEX ABUSE
Dr Bains, a local family GP who used a secret camera inside his wrist watch to record himself abusing female patients at his surgery in Royal Wootton Bassett was jailed for 12 years at Swindon Crown Court on the 23 May 2013 after he had admitted 39 sex offences.
Passing sentence, Judge Douglas Field told Bains that he had breached the trust patients put in their doctor “in the most grievous” way. He continued to tell him that “he was a disgrace to the medical profession”.
S J Edney are acting for 20 women who were sexually abused by Bains whilst they were being treated by him. As well as advising them on their legal remedies, as a patient group we hope their views will be listened to by the relevant authorities to try ensure that other patients do not suffer at the hands of doctors like Bains. We believe in particular a more robust chaperone policy may have reduced the number of his victims.
We have been in contact with NHS England who will be publishing a report shortly commenting on what happened at the surgery. We have asked them to talk to some of our clients before they release their report and get their input which we are sure will help them compile their report and make suitable recommendations.
It seems at the time Bains was practicing as a GP there was very little guidance available to GPs on the use of a chaperone during intimate examinations. Often it would be left to individual doctors to use their discretion regarding the use of chaperones or the onus was on the individual patient to request one.
This clearly is unsatisfactory and we would like to see a policy in force where there is a professional (and legal) presumption that a chaperone will always be present during any intimate examination unless there is a good reason why this is not necessary. It should be recorded on the patient notes that the offer of a chaperone was made and the reason why it was declined. The identity of the chaperone should also be recorded in the patient’s notes if one is in attendance.
Our clients have been badly traumatised by the actions of Bains and also by the publicity generated by the recent Court proceedings. They feel very let down by the medical profession and it is hoped that changes can now be made to the chaperone policy used by GPs throughout England and Wales to try to ensure that this type of shocking and appalling behaviour does not occur again.
THE DANGER OF POTHOLES
Due to the very bad flooding and severe weather which we had during the winter, much of the road network surface is in a dangerous state of disrepair.
Councils who are primarily responsible for maintaining the surface of the highways are calling upon the Government to spend money on road maintenance.
The Government has cut next year’s road maintenance budget by £164m or 19% compared with 2010 and Councils say they do not have enough money to repair their roads.
Last year local authorities filled 2.2m potholes, an increase of 500,000 on the previous year but a national backlog of repairs continues to grow and the cost of bringing the roads upto scratch is now estimated at £10.5b.
Councils maintain that 1 in 5 roads are in a “poor” state of repair and they warn that further extreme weather could result in widespread damage and road closures.
S J Edney support the Council’s campaign that the Government should earmark more of their Transport Budget for road maintenance. We are often consulted by road users especially cyclists who fall of their bikes due to potholes in the ground. Many suffer appalling injuries and require lengthy hospital treatment.
We appreciate that we live in austere times and the Government needs to save money but cutting the road maintenance budget is very short sighted. As well as the cost to the economy, the additional negligence claims brought against the Councils and the rising compensation payouts will simply mean that they have less money to spend on other important local authority services.
S T O P P R E S S
After failing miserably to prevent the abuses at Mid Staffs and Winterbourne View, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have also failed to act over the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust where sadly a number of mothers and babies died. To make matters far worse, the CQC then decided to suppress a critical internal report concerning their failure to investigate these deaths. They are a regulatory body who are meant to ensure essential standards of quality and safety are being met by the NHS. It is clear that regulation of the health service is a shambles. There is no shortage of regulatory bodies and more are being created. We would like to see a new management team put in place at the CQC comprising of people who put patient safety first at all times and are not afraid of speaking the truth.