September 13, 2008

Campaigners Offer to Help Patients Sue NHS

By Simon Bristow

The Save Bridlington Hospital Campaign Action Group, is now working with a Hull-based solicitors to help patients tackle potential claims against Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust.Campaigners say they expect problems to arise following last week's decision by Health Secretary Alan Johnson to downgrade services at Bridlington Hospital.The Hull West and Hessle MP backed controversial plans by the trust to transfer all emergency medical admissions and cardiac monitoring from Bridlington to Scarborough Hospital, which is expected to be completed in three months.Clinical negligence specialist Simon Wilson, of Neil Hudgell Solicitors, will offer advice and act on a no-win, no-fee basis if any claims are pursued.Campaign chairman Mick Pilling said: "We have been in talks with Simon Wilson and we have arranged for any patients having a claim against the trust to contact Simon or me direct, and all information will be treated with the strictest confidence."With the removal of services from Bridlington Hospital, some patients are going to suffer and we want to make sure these patients have legal advice at the ready."Mr Pilling said he was aware of many previous complaints regarding Scarborough Hospital, although the trust could not confirm this.However, an 81-year-old heart patient told the Yorkshire Post he had been troubled by the accommodation he encountered at Scarborough during an eight-day stay last month, describing it as "like a dungeon".Ken Thompson, of Horseshoe Drive, Sewerby, said he had been treated at both hospitals and felt more comfortable at Bridlington.He said: "It was very much like a dungeon. They wheeled me down a long hall on a trolley and I went in a little room with four of us in. I was in such a state they left a light on."I heard two women nattering behind a curtain, they were in for the night and what a night it was."A spokeswoman for the trust said: "The trust treats many thousands of patients every year."The huge majority are happy with their treatment, and many send letters of thanks, whilst only a very tiny percentage makes a complaint, and only a small fraction of this number takes legal action."The NHS will always attempt to settle matters fairly, but if a patient wishes to take legal advice that is of course their right to do so."The decision to downgrade services at Bridlington had been referred to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, which was set up in 2003 to advise the Secretary of State on contested proposals for NHS change.The move sparked a protest march through the town in July.The panel said they believed the changes were "essential", the same conclusion reached by the National Director for Emergency Access, Professor George Alberti.Increasing the number of clinical staff at Bridlington would dilute "the clinical 'critical mass'" at Scarborough, which has "extensive" expansion plans.The panel, however, also said Bridlington Hospital had a "bright" future for people needing non-emergency care.To discuss a claim call Simon Wilson on 01482 787771, or Mick Pilling on 01262 671926.

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