As a claimant clinical negligence solicitor I see first-hand the impact a spinal injury can have on an individual’s life. Coming to terms with such a life changing event is difficult and not made any easier by the state’s inability to provide immediate and on-going rehabilitation.
The recent unanimous decision of the Supreme Court in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board  UKSC 11 makes it clear that the older case law based on medical paternalism and the assumption that patients are uninformed and incapable of understanding medical matters is now untenable. Access to information, the context in which medical practitioners operate and the way in which recipients of healthcare services view their relationship with practitioners has changed and this decision presents a change in the law on consent which is welcomed by Kingsley Napley’s Healthcare Standards initiative.
David Cameron recently made a public apology in the House of Commons for what was called “the worst treatment disaster in the history of Britain’s public healthcare”.
He was referring to a period in the 1970s and early 1980s in which the NHS did not have a proper screening programme for obtaining blood products, which were often taken from high risks donors, such as prostitutes and intravenous drug users. As a consequence blood products became infected with HIV and Hepatitis C, and over 7,000 people, many of them haemophiliacs, went on to contract HIV and Hepatitis after being given contaminated blood products during the course of their treatment. Approximately 2,000 of those patients went on to die.
A recent Court of Appeal decision has made it easier for children and “protected parties” (adults who lack mental capacity to conduct their affairs) to have their identity protected when settling a claim for personal injury or clinical negligence.
The second draft of Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 5 June 2014. It is still a Private Members Bill, and so the introduction was effectively a paper exercise, with no debate.