Month: May 2014

Building contractor fined after homeowners exposed to asbestos

Columbus Building Contractors Ltd has been in court, after exposing both employees and homeowners to potentially fatal asbestos material during work on a garage extension at a home in Ipswich.

What happened?

The firm was carrying out a single-storey front garage extension and a kitchen conversion to the property.

A court heard that the garage had an asbestos insulating board (AIB) ceiling forming a fire break between it and the rest of the house. During the three month conversion, the boards were removed, broken apart and left on the homeowners’ front lawn.

Open bags, containing the debris from the AIB, were then taken to the local tip in the homeowner’s car, where the possibility of asbestos was identified.

What was the outcome?

The Suffolk-based firm pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 in costs.

Adam Hills, HSE Inspector, said:

“After removal, the asbestos material was simply left on the front lawn
before being bagged in open sacks and transported to the local tip
by the homeowner. Both the workers and homeowner would
have been exposed to a significant amount of
asbestos fibres during these works.

“It is absolutely essential that assumptions are not made when dealing
with suspected asbestos materials. If in doubt, get it checked
by a professional before starting any work.

“The dangers of exposure are well-known in the industry. There are
long-term health risks associated with inhalation of asbestos
fibres including lung cancer and mesothelioma.”

If you have been at risk from exposure to asbestos, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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NHS payout after failure to diagnose brain tumour

A young woman has received an £8 million settlement after doctors failed to spot the early stages of a brain tumour that has left her disabled for life.

What happened?

Clair Bonfield was just 10-years-old when she was first admitted to hospital back in 2003, after suffering from persistent headaches and vomiting for a year. After five months a CT scan revealed she was suffering from a brain tumour.

Though the operation to remove it was successful, Clair then developed a critical post-operative infection, leaving her with a serious brain injury.

What was the outcome?

Via her father, Clair sued the James Paget Hospital where she was first admitted, and Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge where she was operated on.

Mr Justice Holroyde approved the settlement, worth £8,000,000 on the basis that, had the staff spotted and treated the tumour earlier, the chance of her developing the later infection would have been drastically reduced.

Clair, now 21, has received a £1.9 million lump sum, as well as annual payments covering the costs of her care for life. These payments start at £36,585 and rise in steps to £148,000 when she is in her mid-50s.

George Hugh-Jones QC, for the NHS, publically apologised to Clair’s family in court, adding his admiration for Clair’s parents.

If you have been affected by medical negligence, and you would like expert advice, contact the Hampson Hughes Solicitors Medical Negligence Team today on 0151 242 1025 or email medicalnegligence@hampsonhughes.com

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Terminal cancer sufferer sues NHS for ‘appalling mistakes’ in her care

A 29-year-old woman has been diagnosed with terminal cancer after hospital staff failed to spot abnormalities in a routine cervical smear test.

What happened?

Fay Harryman underwent a routine cervical smear test back in April 2009, and was told that there were no abnormalities and she should have another in three years time.

Within months she began suffering from bladder problems and abnormal bleeding, and an MRI scan in November 2010 revealed a large tumour on her cervix.

Ms Harryman then underwent a series of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, leaving her infertile by the age of 25.

The treatment failed to stop the spread of the disease, which has since spread to her lymph nodes, and she has been told that further treatment will only prolong her life, not cure her.

NHS errors

Evidence suggests that, had the test been correctly reported as showing abnormalities, further testing would have been recommended within four weeks.

These further tests would have, in all likelihood, confirmed cancerous cells, allowing Ms Harryman to receive immediate treatment to remove them – which could have prevented the disease from spreading.

Lewisham and Greenwich NHS trust has admitted liability for the failure to detect and report the cancerous cells. It continues, however, to dispute how the failures contributed to the disease returning, and whether or not it would have saved the 29-year-old’s life.

Her legal team have now issued court proceedings, and hope to secure a settlement quickly to help fund her ongoing treatment and cover her loss of earnings.

Speaking about her diagnosis, Ms Harryman said:

“It’s very hard not to be bitter or angry. If my smear test had been correctly
interpreted in 2009, I’d probably have a future to look to now.

“Nothing can turn back the clock, but I feel I deserve to know why it was possible
for my test to be interpreted incorrectly, and it would give me some small
peace of mind to know lessons have been learned throughout
the NHS to prevent anyone else having to go through
the same unnecessary nightmare as me.”

If anything in this article has affected you or a loved one, and you would like expert advice, contact the Hampson Hughes Solicitors Medical Negligence Team today on 0151 242 1025 or email medicalnegligence@hampsonhughes.com

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Skip hire firm owner fined after video footage shows unsafe practice

Christopher Jones, the owner of a skip hire firm in Bacup, has been in court after video footage was released showing him lifting an employee in a digger bucket.

What happened?

The 44-year-old and one of his employees had been trying to remove a small piece of damaged plywood above the main shutter doors, when a concerned member of the public videoed the incident.

A court heard that no measures had been taken to prevent the worker falling around four metres to the ground from the digger bucket.

Additionally, the court was told that Mr Jones had received a warning from HSE less than two months prior to the incident, after the same employee was seen riding on top of a fully laden skip wagon as it reversed into the site.

What was the outcome?

Mr Jones, from Rossendale, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,039

David Myrtle, HSE Inspector, said:

“Falls from height are a major cause of workplace deaths in Great Britain.
It’s for this reason that HSE takes work at height seriously and
expects employers, such as Mr Jones, to do the same.

“He knew that raising his employee in the bucket of the telehandler was wrong
but thought that since the job would only take a minute it would be OK.

“That minute has cost Mr Jones dearly but had the employee fallen from the
bucket then the cost to him and his family would have been
immeasurable. It’s never OK to put someone’s life
in danger – no matter how long it lasts.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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Multi-million pound payout for Sheffield boy

A Sheffield boy has received a multi-million pound pay out after sustaining permanent brain injuries during his birth.

What happened?

Bradley Kendall, who’s now 14-years-old, was born three months prematurely, and suffers with mild spastic diplegia and impairment in cognitive function which will affect him for the rest of his life.

His parents, William and Joanne, believed his injuries were the fault of healthcare staff present at the birth, and today have accepted a multi-million pound settlement at the High Court in London.

The money will be used to pay the enormous costs of care that Bradley, who is partially dependant on the care of others, will need for life

Benjamin Browne, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust barrister, said:

“This settlement accurately reflects the strength of the parties’
case, but will undoubtedly produce proper provision
for Bradley in the long-term.

“There will be money available to fund his care and case
management needs for the rest of his life.

“It is quite apparent that Bradley is a very charming young man.
That emerges from all the reports and witness statements.

“He has made remarkable progress, despite the disability from which he
suffers, and has no doubt been a great joy to his parents.

“Nonetheless, his disabilities have imposed a formidable burden of care
upon them. It is a burden they have discharged with
cheerfulness and great affection for their son.”

If you have been affected by medical negligence, and you would like expert advice, contact the Hampson Hughes Solicitors Medical Negligence Team today on 0151 242 1025 or email medicalnegligence@hampsonhughes.com

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Light night descends on our hometown

Tonight our hometown of Liverpool will be illuminated as Light Night returns to the city centre.

What is Light Night?

Co-ordinated by Liverpool’s non-profit organisation, Open Culture, Light Night is a one-night arts & culture festival with free events for all ages across the city.

As well as being part of the national festival of arts & culture, ‘Museums at Night’, Light Night is a celebration of Liverpool’s extensive culture and a showcase that draws positive focus locally, regionally and nationally.

What to look forward to

There’s something for everyone across the city centre, and you can expect light projections, pop-up performances, walking tours, theatre, late night parties and much, much more.

Copies of the ‘what’s on’ brochure are available from all participating venues to help plan your itinerary, but our picks for the evening are:

Light Night Projections at The Bluecoat and Metropolitan Cathedral
From 9.30-midnight two of the city’s key building will be illuminated. Both projections will be different; the Bluecoat version being mainly text-based and the cathedral version inspired by newspaper articles.

A Céilidh at St. George’s Hall
St. George’s hall will be hosting a céilidh, (a traditional Gaelic party to you and me) from 9pm, which promises drinks, live music and a lot of dancing.

Tours of Liverpool’s old dock
At 6pm and 8pm Merseyside Maritime Museum will lead two Light Night tours of Liverpool’s old revolutionary dock in Liverpool One. The Old Dock has been carefully preserved for centuries and the bed of the Pool – the creek that gave Liverpool its name, can now be seen.

Whatever you choose to do this Light Night, it is set to be an unforgettable night.

For more information about visit lightnightliverpool.co.uk.

Runcorn Factory Worker Death

AAK UK Ltd has been prosecuted following the death of one of its employees. The incident took place at the Astmoor Industrial Estate, Runcorn.

What happened?

The male worker, from Warrington, sustained fatal injuries as the result of an incident involving a collision between the stacker truck that he was driving and a lorry.

In an investigation brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Liverpool Crown Court heard that Michael Moran, 49, was using the forklift truck to load pallets containing food onto a trailer.

Mr Moran became aware that a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) had begun to reverse towards the loading area, and shouted out. The HGV driver was not able to apply the brakes in time to avoid a serious impact.

What was the outcome?

The accident caused the forklift truck to overturn. Mr Moran was killed instantly.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that HGV drivers regularly reversed in the “Goods Out” area, so as to avoid using the cul-de-sac to turn around.

HSE discovered that AAK UK Ltd had not carried out an adequate risk assessment, and that drivers had not been instructed on safe working procedures.

AAK UK Ltd was found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £140,000, and was ordered to pay £22,657 in costs.

HSE Inspector Deborah Walker commented:

“Neither Mr Moran nor the lorry driver had any way of knowing they were
both about to start operating their vehicles, and sadly
Mr Moran did not have time to get out of the
way when the HGV began to reverse.

“Following the incident, the company created a no-parking zone along the
‘Goods Out’ area by Davy Road which means there is now space for
forklift truck drivers to load trailers without having
to come out into the road. The firm also set
up a booking-in system for vehicles
delivering to the factory.”

If you have been affected by an injury at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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Doctor who removed a patient’s ovary in error continues to practice

A junior doctor who fatally removed the ovary of a pregnant woman instead of her appendix, has been permitted to carry on practising by a medical watchdog.

What happened?

Maria De Jesus was 20 weeks pregnant with her fourth child when she was admitted to hospital with suspected appendicitis.

Junior surgeon, Yahya Al-Abed, who performed the operation unsupervised, then mistakenly removed the 32-year-old’s ovary instead of her appendix.

It was less than three weeks later that the mother of three was readmitted to Queen’s Hospital in Romford suffering abdominal pains. She miscarried her baby boy and died four days later on the operating table.

The ruling

The Fitness to Practise panel of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service heard that Mr Al-Abed had failed to realise he had taken out the ovary rather than the appendix.

The junior surgeon, who had worked at the hospital for less than three weeks, denied misconduct but admitted that he’d failed to tell his superiors that he had very little experience carrying out operations on pregnant women, and hadn’t had supervision from a consultant surgeon.

Though he admitted the error, which had been fatal to Ms De Jesus, the panel ruled in favour of Mr Al-Abed, allowing him to continue practising as a surgeon – though a range of restrictions to tighten supervision of him have been imposed.

In its written decision, the panel stated:

“The panel accepted that you are genuinely remorseful about your failings.
Regardless of subsequent events and the tragic outcome for
Patient A (Maria De Jesus) this case has clearly had
a profound personal impact upon you.

“It has been both a salutary lesson and a deeply humbling experience
which will stay with you for the rest of your life.

“The evidence before the panel indicated that the deep and lasting impact upon
you is such that you are highly unlikely to practise in a way which
poses an unwarranted risk to your patients in the future.”

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by medical negligence, and you would like expert advice, contact the Hampson Hughes Solicitors Medical Negligence Team today on 0151 242 1025 or email medicalnegligence@hampsonhughes.com

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Investigations into end of life care reveal improvements are needed

A recent investigation by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has found that widespread improvements are needed in hospitals to ensure better care and support for dying patients.

Vital statistics

After investigating 6,580 deaths in 149 hospitals throughout May 2013, the report found that less than 50% of patients, in their last hours or days, were told that they were dying by healthcare staff.

Additionally, as well as highlighting a continual lack of specialist palliative care at weekends, the report has brought to light multiple complaints by families claiming that their dying relatives did not have satisfactory access to fluids.

The audit by the RCP, which included a combination of NHS Pathway patients and patients not on the scheme, found that 59% were assessed to see whether they needed fluids through a drip – however conversations about thirst were held with only 17% of patients and 36% of relatives and friends.

858 bereaved family members were questioned about how involved they felt they were in decisions about the care and treatment of their dying relative. A quarter of them felt that they had little involvement and 37% felt that the emotional support given by the hospital staff was fair or poor.

Training for hospital staff

The report also highlighted the lack of training that hospital staff are receiving in order to equip them to give satisfactory care for the dying. It was revealed that training was mandatory for doctors in only 19% of Trusts and for nurses in 28%.

Dr David Brooks, president of the Association for Palliative Medicine, said:

“Although we all face dying at some point, there isn’t adequate training and access
to specialist support in the majority of hospitals to ensure all dying
patients receive the care they deserve whenever they need it.

“It should be a basic entitlement for a dying person to have high quality, compassionate
end of life care. This requires those caring for them to have adequate
basic training and access to specialist support when needed,
irrespective of where they are in the country.”

If you feel that you, or one of your loved ones, haven’t received satisfactory care during your time in hospital, and you would like expert advice, contact the Hampson Hughes Solicitors Medical Negligence Team today on 0151 242 1025 or email medicalnegligence@hampsonhughes.com

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Airfield operator fined after death of fire-fighter

The Cotswold Airfield operator has been fined after an experienced fire-fighter was killed by a pressurised gas cylinder.

What happened?

Steven Mills, who was a Station Officer at the airfield, as well as a retained fire-fighter with Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, was clearing a number of disused shipping containers that were being prepared to be used as a training facility for the airfield.

As part of the task, the 45-year-old was required to remove a number of redundant gas cylinders, which were formerly part of a fire suppression system.

While doing this, the gas from a large freestanding cylinder weighing 65kg discharged rapidly, causing the cylinder to spin round violently and strike Mr Mills on his head and body.

Mr Mills was left with fatal injuries, and an investigation into the incident found that, not only had a number of other employees been subject to the same risks from the cylinders, had the removal work been suitably assessed and managed the incident could have been avoided.

What was the outcome?

Kemble Air Services LTD was found guilty of two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and fined a total of £75,000 and ordered to pay £98,000

Ian Whittles, an Inspector for the HSE, said:

“Kemble Air Services failed to ensure the safety of its employees and others
who were carrying out work to decommission fire suppression systems.

“This incident could have been prevented if Kemble Air Services had the appropriate
oversight and control of the project to develop the training facility.

“They should have ensured that the work was suitably planned following a full
assessment of the risks associated with the work. Sadly their failing
to suitably assess the risks and implement the necessary
controls led to the death of Mr Mills.”

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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