The announcement reveals that 80% of road traffic fatalities involving young car drivers happen on rural roads and hopes that greater levels of tuition and restrictions upon passing driving tests will bring that number down.
What is being proposed?
It is thought that drawing on approaches taken in Australia and New Zealand has the potential to save 400 lives each year. Brake says “a graduated licensing system, including a minimum learning period, mandatory training on rural roads and restrictions for newly-qualified drivers – such as zero drink-drive limit – will allow new drivers to build up more skills and experience over a longer period of time”.
There are also calls for a review of rural speed limits, in light of many accidents occurring when taking corners too fast, or having insufficient time to avoid a sudden hazard in the road; along with systems such as speed limiters fitted to new cars, that automatically adjust the speed of the vehicle to suit the conditions.
In our experience as serious injury solicitors, alcohol is a big feature in accidents involving young people in both the rural and urban environments. In urban environments where policing numbers are higher, there is more opportunity for the authorities to spot and intervene with a drink driver before disaster occurs. That opportunity is rarely present in rural areas, where fewer officers cover a wider area and recommendations may need to go further to include initiatives designed to breathalyse drivers before they get behind the wheel.
Who else is affected?
The issue of the safety on our rural roads is not just limited to the occupants of motor vehicles. Clarke Willmott’s serious injury team has a highly regarded reputation for working with those involved in accidents whilst riding or working with animals.
Horse riders are a vulnerable, with many accidents occurring because drivers overtake too close to the animal (often hitting it), or too fast, spooking even the most street wise of horses.
Giving an interview to the BBC, rider Alison Eames explains she was struck by a car whilst on horseback which, along with causing her injuries, led to her horse being put down. Her concern is that the driving test does not check to see if people understand how to approach and pass horses and other obstacles on rural roads, and that education should be part of the testing process. She said “We meet some very savvy people that understand horses… then you meet those who drive aggressively, [who] will overtake you with only a few inches to spare.” She added “I don’t think that a lot of this is down to bad drivers… I think sometimes it is down to people not understanding. If people have got knowledge then they make different decisions”.
What if you have been injured in an accident?
If you have been involved in an accident and sustained injury then you may be entitled to compensation. Our specialist lawyers not only use their recognised skill and experience to obtain this for you, but will also advise on and arrange rehabilitation and other support services designed to get you back on track.
The MenACWY jab protects against 4 strains of the meningococcal disease which cause meningitis and septicaemia – strain A, C, W and Y. The Royal College of Nursing have advised that only a third of 17 to 18 year olds in England, who are entitled to the free jab, have taken up the offer.
Young people who have not had the MenACWY vaccine remain eligible up to the age of 25 and should contact their GP surgery to get immunised.
The Men W strain is one of the most aggressive and can be fatal. There has been a rapid increase in MenW cases in England from 22 cases in 2009/2010 compared to 210 in 2015/2016.
There is concern that school leavers are putting themselves at unnecessary risk.
The Royal College of Nurses are calling for active social media campaign to encourage teenagers to arrange for a vaccination before the end August to build up an immunity before they commence university. For more on this see the Royal College of Nurses website and also an eligibility checker on the Meningitis Research Foundation website.
Clarke Willmott have extensive experience of pursuing claims in respect of delays in diagnosis of meningitis and septicaemia. For further advice please do not hesitate to contact our Clinical Negligence Team on 0800 316 8892.
Birmingham and Manchester
Philip Edwards is a partner in Clarke Willmott solicitors' Birmingham Serious Injury team specialising in amputation, spinal cord injury.
Science continues to develop and can surprise us on a daily basis. The skills of scientists in the UK and around the world have always been focused on human health, and recent advances in treatment for diseases and in relation to recovery from trauma and accidents is a testament to the hard work, investment and brilliance of the teams undertaking the research.
Spinal Cord Injury
The incidence of Spinal Cord Injury in the UK remains relatively small, but the consequences for people who sustain one are life changing. Depending where in the back and neck the injury happens, loss of feeling and paralysis can occur through the conditions of paraplegia (where the legs and stomach muscles can be affected) and tetraplegia (which affects all four limbs, the stomach muscles and the chest).
In this country we are lucky to have some of the world’s most renowned treatment and rehabilitation centres, but to date there has not been any successful way to regenerate the spinal cord to allow recovery to take place.
Could Zebrafish advance the research aimed at finding a cure?
The latest research from Edinburgh University’s Centre for Neuroregeneration has been undertaking tests on a small exotic fish – the Zebrafish. It has been seen that Zebrafish can regain full movement, sometimes as quickly as within 4 weeks of sustaining a spinal cord injury. Scientists believe they have found the mechanism which allows the nerve cells to repair. What happens is the fish have “fibroblasts” – a sort of healing cell which flood into the area that has been damaged. This in turn releases a molecule – Collagen 12 – which alters the structure around the nerve fibres. In people, the matrix around the site of the injury stops nerves from growing back.
The Future for treatment of Spinal Cord Injury
The next stage of the research in Edinburgh will be to see whether using similar signals in other animals results in some repair to nerve fibres and hence restore some function through the spinal cord.
Any talk of completely successful treatment in humans is, of course, a long way off. However, this is another important step in the research which everyone hopes will one day lead to a cure for SCI.
In a low key announcement, the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives has confirmed that they will be dropping their 12 year long campaign for “normal births”. Identified by the Inquiry in to the Morecambe Bay Trust as a contributory factor in the death of 11 babies and one mother between 2004 and 2013, the policy saw midwives encouraging mothers to experience “natural birth”. Caesarean sections, epidurals, inductions and instrumental deliveries were actively discouraged, and whilst the Royal College of Midwives deny that the policy lead to any reduction in safety standards, the findings of the Morecambe Bay Inquiry would suggest otherwise.
The policy itself appeared to have no evidential basis, with no analysis of any risks and benefits arising from natural childbirth. Obstetricians have for some time, expressed doubts about the policy. In addition to concerns about the safety of mother and baby, the Royal College of Midwives has admitted that the approach lead to mothers who were obliged to undergo assisted delivery that they has somehow “failed” by not having a “natural delivery”.
Improvement in care
It is to be hoped that the change in policy will ensure that mothers do not feel pressured to decline treatment which may well be in the best interests of their baby and that in the very few cases where the existence of the policy gave rise to doubt in the minds of midwives as to the correct course of action, that doubt will be eliminated.
If you have experienced a traumatic or troubling experience during the birth of a child the specialist birth injuries legal team at Clarke Willmott LLP can be contacted on 0800 316 8892 to provide advice and support.
‘Each Baby Counts’
According to figures from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists between 500 to 800 babies die or are left with severe brain injury as a result of something going wrong during the labour.
The college has undertaken a national quality improvement programme: ‘Each Baby Counts’ to seek to reduce the number of babies who die or who are left severely disabled as a result of incidents occurring during term labour. The purpose of the project is to try and reduce these figures by 50% by 2020.
The report reviewed 1,136 stillbirths, neonatal deaths and brain injuries that occurred on UK maternity units during 2015:
126 babies were stillborn
156 babies died within first 7 days after birth
854 babies had severe brain injury
At present stillbirth, neonatal deaths and brain injuries that occur due to incidents in labour are investigated at local level. The report however found that local investigations into a quarter of cases were not thorough enough. The Each Baby project team will now bring together the results of the local investigations to obtain an overview and share information from lessons learned.
In recent months Coroners have urged regulators and hospitals to take urgent action to ensure that midwives and doctors are properly trained at interpreting foetal scans.
Clarke Willmott Clinical Negligence team has considerable experience in acting for families where baby has been left with a severe brain injury, following a neonatal death and where a stillbirth has occurred. Please refer to our news article published in May 2017.
Each Baby Counts are currently collating data and stories from families who have been affected, please refer to the website for The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for a secure online reporting system:
If you would like to talk to a lawyer with specialist knowledge of such issues call on 0800 316 8892 or e-mail one of the team
The World Health Organisation have released international data which shows that the biggest killer of teenagers across the world is road traffic accidents.
Road traffic accidents caused more deaths amongst teenagers than respiratory infections, self harm, diarrhoeal diseases and drowning.
Fatal road traffic accidents
The report provides the shocking statistic that in 2015 more than 1.2 million adolescents died, and roughly 10% of these fatalities were caused by road traffic injuries. Most of the fatal road traffic accidents involved males.
As might be expected intuitively the report shows it is vulnerable road users who are most at risk of being involved in a fatal road traffic accident. Young people on bikes and motorbikes, or on foot are most at risk.
The UK Experience
It is the case that the risk of a teenager being killed in a road traffic accident is greatest in poorer countries, it is still a fact that road injuries remain the largest cause of death in high income countries – it is just that the numbers are smaller.
In 2015, 145 people aged 10-19 were killed in road accidents in Britain, and 3,166 were seriously injured. The high numbers in this group can at least in part be explained by greater independent mobility – for example it is often the age when young people start to walk to school on their own and later on can drive motorbikes and cars legally.
Reducing death on our roads
The author of the WHO report does consider that in the UK the legislation controlling driving and road safety education are having some effect in reducing accident numbers. However, given the above statistics, it is clear we still have a long way to go.
Philip Edwards, a Road Traffic Accident expert with Clarke Willmott said:-
We live in an age of ever increasing safety features on cars, and better education about road safety, but the WHO figures show there is no room for complacency here, or around the world. There are some laudable initiatives, like Project EDWARD (European Day Without a Road Death) where the goal is to take steps towards eradicating the tragedy of so many lives being lost, but all of us who use the roads need to be part of making that happen”
Change of head of department for the serious injury and medical negligence team
During Martin’s tenure there have been enormous changes both commercially and regulatory in the way the work is undertaken and it has been necessary to adapt to meet the challenges that these changes brought about. A process that will no doubt continue in the future.
Martin will be succeeded as head of the department by Partner, Chris Thorne. Chris, who joined Clarke Willmott in 2013, is a very highly regarded clinical negligence lawyer ranked in band 1 by the Chambers and Partners legal directory. He specialises in medical negligence claims, acting for victims of medical accidents with particular experience in complex birth, brain and spinal cord injuries.
The department provides a niche service to those who have suffered life changing injuries and is spread across the firm’s offices. Separated into two areas, the serious injury team is managed by Lee Hart and the clinical negligence team is managed by Kerry Fifield.
I am delighted that Chris has been appointed to succeed me. I am confident that he will lead the department through the next stages of its growth and development and continue to provide the excellence of client service that our fee earners are renowned for.’
Martin will continue to work from Bristol specialising particularly in paediatric brain injury cases and will also act as a senior advocate for the teams.
Martin has successfully steered the department though some very turbulent times and has had the vision and foresight to ensure that we are now well placed to deliver a high quality service to clients. I am taking over a department that has a solid platform and a strategy for growth in the future. I am looking forward enormously to the task of leading the department in the years to come.’
Action for Brain Injury Week commences today (8th May), heralding campaigns from a number of charities across the country to improve life after brain injury.
Headway UK’s campaign this year puts brain injury survivors, carers and families right at its heart, inviting them to share how brain injury has impacted their lives. “A New Me” provides a platform for people to creatively share their experiences in order to challenge misperceptions of brain injury while demonstrating the value of having access to the right help, at the right time, such as the support provided by Headway groups and branches and its other frontline services.
Search #ABIWeek and #ANewMe on Twitter for more details.
Questions are being asked of the safety of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust with concerns about safe practice for a decade or more.
We recently reported on the investigation announced by the Department of Health.
It has now emerged that the maternity department has paid £24.3 million in compensation and legal fees, according to the NHS’s own figures over the past decade.
The information emerging at this Trust is not new. As long ago as 1st July 2015 concern was being expressed by an obstetrician at the Trust, Dr Adam Gornall regarding the safety at his Trust.
Problems within the Trust include failures of monitoring during delivery, leading to the deaths of babies, damage to babies leading to permanent brain injury and major disability, the death of a mother.
Concern about the cluster of deaths and problems within the maternity department is based on comparison of the figures for harm (and compensation payments made) compared with other similar obstetric units.
The issues at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust have highlighted in particular problems for families in dealing with the aftermath of birth injuries. The Morris family whose twin girls were born at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in 2005, has a daily reminder of the struggle of caring for a child with cerebral palsy. These types of cases are often complex and difficult to investigate. They require considerable expertise to clarify whether injury to a child has arisen as a result of a mistake on the part of clinicians and to properly investigate the injury and provision for a child for the rest of their life, not just when they are young, is a painstaking task requiring numerous expert reports.
Skilled lawyers working alongside a team of specialists including physiotherapists, orthopaedic surgeons, educational psychologists, care and occupational therapy experts, to name but a few are required to consider every aspect of future needs including the potential for deterioration. The lawyers who work on these types of case have built up the skills through many years and are generally accredited by either The Law Society or Action Against Medical Accidents.
Clarke Willmott have specialist lawyers who are accredited to both panels and a vast wealth of experience and skill.
If you or a member of your family have been affected by these issues then please contact a member of the team by telephone on 0800 316 8892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org