SUPPORTING OUR DISABLED PEOPLE
Welcome to our autumn newsletter – another soggy summer is coming to a close but what a wonderful few months it has been for any fan of sport.
Who can forget “Super Saturday” when Mo Farah, Jennifer Ennis and Greg Rutherford won their three gold medals at the Olympic stadium. It certainly made us all very proud to be British and to want to put our running shoes on again!
If you thought that the Olympics were superb – the Paralympics were something else. The ability and skill of the athletes competing will hopefully now change our society’s perception of disabled people.
We would also like to say well done to one our clients, Mel Nicholls who was chosen to represent Team GB in the wheelchair racing. She got to the T34 Womens 200m final (coming 7th). She should be very proud of her success.
We hope that one of the legacies of the Paralympics will be more support being given to disabled people. As a society we should do what we can to ensure they are able to lead full and fulfilling lives and achieve their potential.
In the real world, many disabled people have difficulty in finding suitable housing; accessing public transport especially the underground system in London and they are given very few education or employment opportunities. In the current economic climate there is also talk now of some of their benefits being cut!
This support should come from not only central and local government but also from us in the private sector – for example, employers should have a policy to actively recruit more disabled people and together with the owners of hotels, restaurants etc. ensure that their premises are safe for them to use.
The Paralympics taught us that disabled people should no longer be ignored and we should do what we can to enable them to lead ordinary lives like the rest of us.
LATEST NEWS ON THE LEGAL AID, SENTENCING AND PUNISHMENT OF OFFENDERS (LASPO) ACT
This Act has now received the Royal Assent and will restrict the availability of Legal Aid for clinical negligence cases as from April 2013.
The only claims that will now qualify for legal aid are those where damages are being sought for a neurological injury to a baby, resulting in them being severely disabled provided the alleged negligence occurred either in the mother’s womb or during or after the birth subject to certain conditions.
The good news is that the Government has now abandoned a scheme to take upto 25% of the damages awarded from successful clinical negligence victims.
REGULATING THE COSMETIC SURGERY INDUSTRY
Following the recent PIP scandal, we support the growing campaign for there to be further regulation of the booming cosmetic surgery industry.
It seems that in March 2010, the French Authorities discovered that the manufacturer of PIPs were fraudently using non approved industrial grade silicone for their implants. Surgeons across Europe were then told immediately to stop using their products but it was not until Christmas Eve last year that most women in the UK found out that their implants were sub-standard.
To make matters worse, it emerged that many clinics had no idea which of their patients had been given PIP implants. It was estimated that this could be anywhere upto 40,000 women.
This scandal has so far prompted three government reviews and we agree with many in the medical profession that there is now a strong case for mandatory databases of implants (covering all devices from knee joints to artificial lenses in the eye) which should monitor outcomes together with improved record keeping which hopefully will provide a valuable source of information in the future. This will ensure that we know which patients have been given which implants and what problems may have been caused by them.
COMPLAINTS ABOUT DOCTORS ON THE INCREASE
The General Medical Council (GMC) have confirmed that complaints about doctors have now reached a record high. During 2011, 8,781 complaints were made compared with 7,153 in 2010, a 23% increase. This means 1 in every 64 doctors is likely to be investigated by the Regulator. Psychiatrists, GPs and Surgeons attracted the highest level of complaints compared with other specialities. The majority of complaints were made about male doctors.
However, the GMC believes that the following factors could be contributing to the rise in complaints:
- Patients are now more willing to complain about discrepancies than they were in the past.
- Patients have greater expectations of the doctors.
- Within the profession there is less tolerance for poor practice.
- There is better monitoring of medical practice.
- More information is available for patients in the digital age.
- Doctors are more willing to speak out and less willing to tolerate behaviour.
The GMC has said it is introducing a series of measures to deal with the rising number of complaints. They include an induction programme for doctors who are new to the medical register, new guides on good medical practice for both doctors and patients and a new helpline for doctors.
This newsletter was produced by S J Edney solicitors Telephone: 01793 600721