CAMPAIGN TO MAKE CHILDREN WEAR BIKE HELMETS GATHERS MOMENTUM
S J Edney solicitors fully supports Headway’s campaign to make it compulsory for children to wear helmets whilst cycling in an effort to reduce the number of deaths and serious head injuries on the road.
Their campaign has been boosted by the support of the Association of Paediatric Emergency Medicine which represents accident and emergency specialists.
About 90,000 on road and 100,000 off road accidents involving cyclists occur every year in Britain. More than half involve children.
Cyclists are not obliged by law to wear helmets even though studies suggests that their use can reduce the risk of head injury by 85%, brain injury by 88% and severe brain injury by 75%. An estimated 52,000 children in Britain have suffered traumatic brain injury from various causes.
Accordingly to Government statistics, the number of children who wear helmets whilst cycling remains on average at about 17%. The Government is reluctant to make this compulsory as it could cause enforcement difficulties and have an impact on the level of cycling.
A spokeswoman from the Department for Transport said recently to the press that the Government “strongly encouraged” cyclists to wear a helmet.
“We are working to improve safety for cyclists in a number of ways” she said. “A record £140m government investment in cycling includes funding to train up to half a million children in Bikeability – the National Cycle Training Standard – by 2012, and we recently proposed that local authorities introduce more 20mph zones, which will benefit cyclists and pedestrians”.
“We also encourage cyclists to wear helmets because of the extra protection they provide in the event of a collision. However, there are no plans to make this a legal requirement”.
DEATHS ARISE AS JUNIOR DOCTORS ARRIVE ON THE WARD
According to a recent study at the Imperial College London, patients admitted to hospital in the first week of August, when medical school graduates start work, have a higher risk of dying that at other times of the year.
In the largest study of its kind, researchers analysing records for almost 300,000 patients found that the death rate for emergency cases arriving on the first Wednesday in August were 6% higher than for those arriving a week earlier. The first week in August is traditionally when newly qualified junior Doctors take up their positions in NHS hospitals in England.
The researchers studied 299,741 patients admitted as emergencies to hospitals belonging to 175 NHS Trusts between 2000 and 2008.
WILL SOLE PRACTITIONERS BECOME LEGAL DINOSAURS?
In the legal press there are many gloomy headlines like “The days of the High Street sole practitioner are numbered” and for good reason.
The legal profession is undergoing a radical and unprecedented change thanks mainly to the Legal Services Act 2007, which gave statutory blessing to big business owning law firms or employing lawyers and offering legal services directly to their customers.
This change has been dubbed “Tesco law”. It is supported by the Government – their Constitutional Affairs Minister said earlier this year “I don’t see why consumers should not be able to get legal services as easily as they buy a can of beans”.
Although introducing more competition into the legal marketplace can be a good thing, many sole practitioners and smaller firms are worried about how they will be able to compete with these very large companies, many of whom will have a strong national brand and very deep pockets when it comes to marketing and advertising their legal services.
We at S J Edney Solicitors think that this threat is being overstated. In our experience, many clients will still want to instruct a traditional high street solicitor instead of getting advice either on-line or from a call centre type legal practice. It is envisaged that these “supermarket type” law firms will rely heavily on unqualified staff who will have little or no personal contact with the client.
We recognised this threat many years ago. We made a deliberate decision to stay small and to specialise only in personal injury and clinical negligence claims. We believe that the key to our success during the last 14 years is by providing a first class service to our clients and operating within a niche.
One of the disadvantages in staying small is that we do not have a huge budget when it comes to marketing. Client care and quality of service is paramount and it is gratifying to see that the majority of our new clients have been recommended to us either by former clients or by local solicitors/advice agencies who are confident that we would provide them with good quality advice. This will ensure that we are able to compete in the new world of legal services.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS AND FIGURES
- The total number of solicitors in England and Wales in July 09 was 115,487
- There are 11,017 firms of which 1,471 are limited companies
- 1,072 are limited liability partnerships (LLPs); 204 are multinationals’ and 47 are “other”
- There are 3,992 “traditional” partnerships and 3,472 sole practitioners
- Statistics show that closures of firms are up 34 per cent from last year. There were 376 closures in the 12 months to June 2008 compared with 504 closures in the 12 months to June 2009
Source: Solicitors Regulation Authority
NHS compensation costs rise to £807m
An article has recently appeared in the Health Service Journal which confirms that there has been a marked increase in the number of clinical negligence claims against the NHS.
Data revealed by the Conservative Party shows the number of claims rose by 11 per cent in 2008-09 while the total amount paid out by the NHS also rose.
The annual report of the NHS Litigation Authority shows in 2006-07 the NHS spent £613m, rising to £661m in 2007-08 and £807m in 2008-09.
Amounts paid out include damages to claimants (patients, staff and members of the public) and the legal costs incurred on both sides where these are paid by the NHS.
The report said: “Total claims expenditure across all schemes in 2008-09 increased by over 22 per cent compared with the same period last year.”
The report also reveals that in 2008-09 there was “a significant increase in the number of claims received, compared with the same period last year” and that “clinical claims rose by more than 11 per cent and non-clinical claims by over 10 per cent”.
However, of the 8,885 clinical and non-clinical claims made in 2008-09, less than 4 per cent will go to Court. The NHS has been unable to identify any single factor that might have caused the rise.