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Leading clinical negligence lawyer welcomes medical director report but says it’s too late for many of her clients
Article date: 18/07/2013
One of the region's leading clinical negligence lawyers says she welcomes the NHS medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh's report on hospital failings but says that for many of her clients, it comes too late.
Clare Langford, a Partner in the clinical negligence team at Higgs & Sons, has investigated well over 100 cases against the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the last five years. She says that the report makes for grim reading.
"The report named Russells Hall Hospital as one of 14 in the country who are said to have been responsible for up to 13,000 excess deaths since 2005, it also identified that the patient complaints process was "not fit for purpose" and that there were inadequate qualified nurse staffing levels on some wards." says Clare.
"I welcome the report and can only hope that standards now begin to improve at the hospital. For many of my clients, the report sadly comes just too late."
One case, which Clare has recently settled, was on behalf of Mr Tony Burgess, whose wife will spend the rest of her life in a nursing home following care at Russells Hall Hospital.
Mrs Burgess was left unsupervised on a hospital trolley. No observations took place and the nurses failed to realise that Mrs Burgess had gone into respiratory arrest and stopped breathing. When the nurses finally noticed Mrs Burgess, attempts were made to resuscitate her but sadly it was too late and permanent brain damage had occurred due to lack of oxygen.
Mrs Burgess is now very sadly confined to a wheel chair and needs assistance with all her daily care needs.
"Our two children were two and five at the time and will grow up without the love and care of their mother," said Mr Burgess.
"I have been unable to work and have had to care for both the children and my wife. Russells Hall's failings have affected our lives in a dramatic way. I hope this report is a huge wake up call to everybody who works at the hospital".
Clare concludes, "the report has recognised that significant improvements are needed in some key areas. We must now ensure that these concerns are addressed promptly and standards are improved. People seeking hospital treatment are in a vulnerable position, and we need to ensure they can have trust and confidence that the care they receive is of a good standard."
Higgs & Sons works from two offices in the Black Country - Waterfront Business Park in Brierley Hill and Kingswinford. The firm employs over 200 people, which includes 100 specialist lawyers.
To find out how Clare and her team can support you call 0845 111 5050.