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The post How Do I Apply For A Pay Rise At Work? appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

In the UK, if you are an ‘employee’, how much you are paid is governed by your contract of employment. The government sets minimum levels of pay which apply to most people – the National Living Wage, (or the National Minimum Wage if you are under the age of 25), but otherwise, what you receive will be set by your employer unless you have been able to negotiate your rate of pay when you started your employment. Once you’ve been working for a while, you may feel that you should be paid more. Whatever your reasons for asking for a pay rise, here are some tips to help you.

Prepare your case

Think about how you will present your case for a pay rise. Don’t just ask for a pay rise out of the blue. Spend some time thinking about what you want and what you will say. Do some research to find out what other people are paid, both within your company and in other companies in the same industry, to make sure what you are asking for is reasonable.

Think about why your boss could give you a pay rise

Although you may have financial pressures to meet at home, it is better to put your request for a pay rise in the context of your performance at work and the value you are adding to the company. Perhaps you have noticed that other people doing similar work are being paid more than you, or maybe you have been carrying out extra tasks. If you aren’t being paid according to the minimums specified by the UK government, you could also point this out to your employer.

Choose a good time

Asking for a pay rise can be nerve-wracking. Choose a good time to have the discussion. Avoid Monday mornings and Friday afternoons. Otherwise, you will have an idea of when are busy times and when your boss is likely to have more time and be more relaxed. These would be better times to choose for a discussion about your pay. Don’t ask too often, either.

Suggest a neutral place

You may feel more comfortable if you can have the discussion away from work – in a nearby café perhaps.

Think about what you really want

If it really is just a pay rise you want, then that’s what you should ask for. On the other hand, you may be looking for some sort of recognition that could be met in other ways. This could be a company car, access to a private health scheme or gym membership. Another option would be to look at ways flexible working could help. If you could work from home a couple of days a week, or change your hours so you travel during off peak times and save on travel costs, this might be an option. Remember that your employer may not be able to give you a ‘pay rise’ as such, but may be able to offer you other benefits.

Stay calm!

Perhaps the best advice we can give you is to stay calm. You may want a pay rise, but you are unlikely to achieve this if you lose your temper or display your frustration to your boss. Ultimately, this may be the trigger you need to try and look for other work, but in the meantime, you will want to keep the job you have until you’ve found a new one where you are valued.

If your employer is not paying you the National Living Wage, or you discover that you are being paid less than others doing the same or similar roles, and that this might be because of your nationality or your gender, you might wish to consider taking legal action. This isn’t something to be taken lightly, but we can advise you on your rights and help you think through your options. Get in touch to talk to someone today.

The post How Do I Apply For A Pay Rise At Work? appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

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The post 10 Points To Know Before Signing A Statement of Truth appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

As a Claimant in a claim, or a witness on behalf of the Claimant, the Court rules require various documents to be signed by a “Statement of Truth”. This applies to various court documents “Claim Form”, “Particulars of Claim”, “Schedule of Loss”, disclosure lists,  Witness Statements and expert reports (although expert reports have unique wording under different court rules).

Here are ten points to be aware of when you are asked to sign a Statement of Truth.

  1. The Statement of Truth will state: “I believe the facts stated in this document [for example a witness statement ] are true”. Therefore, a person signing it must believe the content of the document is true.
  2. The person signing the Statement of Truth must sign their usual signature and print their full name. It is normally dated too.
  3. There is no need to have a witness (for example a solicitor) present when signing the Statement of Truth (this is sometimes confused for oaths)
  4. If it comes to light that at the time a witness signed a Statement a Truth but knew that it was false, then there can be serious consequences for the witness. For example, if a Claimant signs a Schedule of Loss setting out the financial items they wish to recover as part of a compensation claim and seeks to recover 3 months’ loss of earnings following an injury but was actually working (and therefore lied having sustained no loss of earnings) then there may be serious consequences, such as a finding of Fundamental Dishonesty.
  5. Court proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against a person if he/she makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a Statement of Truth without an honest belief in its truth.
  6. Contempt of Court proceedings are likely if there is a clear element of dishonesty.
  7. If a person is found guilty of contempt of court it is a criminal offence which can result in a prison sentence and/or fine.
  8. If a case proceeds to a trial and the Claimant does not win the claim because the Judge does not accept the witnesses’ evidence, that does not mean they provided a false Statement of Truth. Very often in a trial, a Judge will often prefer one party’s’ evidence to the other but it does not mean the other evidence was always false.
  9. A witness cannot ask anyone else to sign a Statement of Truth on a witness statement. On some occasions Claimants in litigation may ask their solicitor to sign a Court document on their behalf (which is sometimes permitted in the Court rules) but this is rare.
  10. If a document is not verified by a Statement of Truth and one is needed, then usually it cannot be relied upon as evidence in a claim.

Taking into the potential serious consequences of a Statement of Truth, it is essential that a witness and/or claimant asks their solicitor if they have any questions before they sign a Statement of Truth and that they fully understand the consequences of signing it.

For more information, please contact us.

The post 10 Points To Know Before Signing A Statement of Truth appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

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The post Can You Bring A Personal Injury Claim In An Employment Tribunal Claim? appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

In short, the answer is yes! It is possible to bring a personal injury claim in an Employment Tribunal claim. However, it is only in certain circumstances that this is the case. It is possible to claim compensation for personal injury suffered in an Employment Tribunal if the claim is based on discrimination. It is also important to note that in the majority of cases an Employment Tribunal claim must be brought within 3 months of the action (i.e. ACAS Early Conciliation (link) must be triggered by this point and the strict time limits adhered to).

At Truth Legal Solicitors we are specialists in personal injury AND employment law. We are therefore ideally placed to advise on the personal injury element of any employment law claim.


It is against the law to be treated differently based on what are known as the ‘protected characteristics’. At work, this can come in the form of a dismissal, difference in pay and differences in training, recruitment, promotion and other opportunities. The ‘protected characteristics’ include:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Being/becoming a Transsexual person
  • Having a disability
  • Religion and Belief
  • Race, Colour, Nationality and Ethnic or National origin.
  • Pregnancy and Maternity leave
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership

Making a personal injury claim in the Employment Tribunal

Where an employee has been subject to discrimination (including harassment or victimisation) in the workplace by an employer, the effects on the individual can be most serious. For many employees, these situations can have negative consequences on mental health and wellbeing leading to depression and anxiety. If you can prove that the personal injury has stemmed from the discriminatory actions, you can bring a personal injury claim alongside the claim for discrimination.

Should you change solicitors?

If your solicitors are not experienced in bringing personal injury claims in an Employment Tribunal, then you may want to consider switching solicitors to us. We specialise in representing clients who want to change their lawyers.

And if your employment law solicitors have failed to properly advise you on your ability to pursue a personal injury claim in your Employment Tribunal claim and they should have done, and as a result you have suffered loss, then you may have professional negligence claim (link) against your solicitors. Often, we pursue professional negligence claims on a No Win, No Fee basis.

The Importance of bringing a Personal Injury Claim in an Employment Tribunal

If you have suffered a recognised psychiatric condition because of the discrimination that you have sustained at work, there are many advantages to brining the claim at the same time. They are:

1.       You will not need to repeat the facts and the stress of litigation that goes with bringing a separate claim.

2.       It is difficult to find a solicitor who is prepared to offer a No Win, No Fee agreement to allow you to pursue a separate personal injury claim based on workplace-related stress.

3.       By adding a personal injury claim, you are increasing the value of your claim which may in turn make settlement more likely.

4.       Often you do not need a very expensive medical report from an independent medico-legal expert, as you would in a straightforward personal injury claim, in order to receive compensation for a work-related personal injury claim.

5.       Stand-alone personal injury claims are much slower to run that an Employment Tribunal claim, often taking many years to resolve.

6.       By doing bringing both claims together there is less risk of “double recovery” i.e. you shouldn’t be compensated twice for the same injury.

7.       If you don’t bring a personal injury claim with your Employment Tribunal claim, then if you settle your employment law claim, the other side will want to settle all disputes with you at the same time in order to stop you pursuing a separate personal injury claim. In order to settle your employment claim, then you might be giving up your personal injury claim.

The main disadvantage to bringing a personal injury claim and Employment Tribunal claim at the same time is that you are unlikely to be able to receive compensation for the full amount of your personal injury claim because, in all likelihood, the full extent of the personal injury losses may not have been properly quantified. Therefore, there is a risk in under-settling your personal injury element.

As explained above, specialist legal advice is needed when bringing personal injury and Employment Tribunal claims at the same time. Should you want more information, please contact us today.

The post Can You Bring A Personal Injury Claim In An Employment Tribunal Claim? appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

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The post Getting To Know Andrew Gray, Founder of Truth Legal Solicitors appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

Here’s 16 questions we asked our founder of Truth Legal Solicitors, Andrew Gray.

1. In a nutshell, what does your company do and how did it start?

Did you hear the one about the lawyer who, on his first day at work as a lawyer in Manchester, was arrested (and assaulted) by the police, on suspicion of armed robbery? That lawyer was me! Of course, it was a case of mistaken identity! This was 2005 – fast forward seven years and I founded a law firm, on my own, specialising in…. assaults. It’s funny how such a negative experience can be used to a positive effect.

Nearly six years after I founded the firm, there are now 12 of us and we specialise in employment law, personal injury, clinical negligence and professional negligence. We represent around 500 clients – both individuals and businesses – all around the country.

2. What’s the most surprising thing about it?

The variety of the people and businesses which we represent. We represent City executives, SMEs, individuals and a trade union. One-third of our team are Polish speakers, which reflects the fact that one-third of our clients are Polish. I’d like to think that we offer more free legal advice than most other law firms.

3. What do you do?

Depends on who you ask! I would say that I set the firm’s culture, oversee the work and deal with marketing, such as our new Harrogate Podcast (check it out on our website). I’m also the new President of the Harrogate and District Law Society, which is a really interesting (but time-consuming!) role. For those who knew me at Law School, they can’t believe that I became President of a Law Society, given how many times I tried quitting Law School.

4. How did you end up here? (i.e. what’s your career background?)

The story goes – I went to Law School in York, meeting my now-wife on day one. A few years later, when we had both qualified as solicitors, we wanted to move back to York, because we adored North Yorkshire. As luck would have it, my wife got a great job with Hempsons Solicitors in Harrogate, so we went for a look around Harrogate (because we hadn’t been before) and fell in love with the town. Also, I now realise that getting beaten up on my first day at work in Manchester certainly influenced the way that I felt about my beloved Manchester: I needed to live somewhere safer. Harrogate is certainly more tranquil.

5. If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? (i.e. in your career)

Either: stay at home dad (if I could cook), writer (if I could write), Judge (if I was smarter), newsreader (if my voice was clearer), entrepreneur?

6. What motivates you?

Providing access to justice. It is a total scandal that access to a lawyer has been so severely restricted of late, due to the reduction in Legal Aid and reduced budgets for advice centres. I don’t want to live in a country in which access to lawyers is the preserve of the wealthy. There are further changes on the horizon which will restrict access to justice to even further. I don’t know anyone who wants this or who would benefit from it.

7. What one thing do you wish you had known when you started out in business?

Much more about management accounts!

8. What excites you about business?

Growing the firm – so that we can help more people and more businesses. When I started the firm, it was just me. When it was just me, I could only help a small number of people and that was frustrating. Now that we have grown quite a lot, we can run group claims, and help larger businesses. It is very satisfying. I have been lucky.

9. What is your pet hate in business?

The cost of recruitment agency fees – sorry recruiters!

10. What advice would you give to people just starting their careers?

In today’s world, thankfully it’s more likely that people can have multiple careers, multiple mini-retirements, and multiple jobs at the same time. I recommend that people do not seek out a career for life early on. Instead, try enough vocations so that when you do happen upon something that resonates with you (and pays the bills too), work will not feel like work. Whilst I appreciate that not everyone will be so fortunate, I do believe it is true that if you find work that you enjoy, you will never work again. And keep yourself sharp with continued personal and professional development.

11. Who in business do you most admire, and why?

Total cliché, I know: Richard Branson, because his philosophy is that it is his job to look after his colleagues, as it is his colleagues who look after the clients.

12. What moments of your career so far stand out?

Many moments stand out, for good and bad reasons. As a litigator, we win (and frankly) sometimes lose cases. I used to work for a fearless litigator at a national law firm in Leeds. She instilled in all her litigators that if they were not losing, then they weren’t trying hard enough for their clients. I hate losing, but I would hate it even more if clients thought that we didn’t fight hard for them. The wins are delicious. The losses are awful. This is my world of work: highs and lows.

13. What sets your company apart from the competition?

A few things, hopefully. First, we give away more of our time and knowledge than any other firm that I know – just check out our website for tonnes of free content and free legal documents. Second, although people often (erroneously) assume that cheaper means a substandard service, we do want to be known for being more affordable than other firms (though lawyers are expensive, I appreciate). Third, particularly in the personal injury world, there are many firms relying upon unqualified paralegals to run hundreds of claims. Our team are qualified solicitors or a legal executive and they run far fewer cases per lawyer. We do things properly.

14. What is the most difficult challenge your company has faced? And what challenges are you experiencing at the moment?

I don’t imagine that any reader will get out their violins for the lawyers but, candidly, I would say that growing pains are our biggest challenge. In much of our work we are paid at the end of a case and then only if we win. It can therefore take years to be paid for our work, which has slowed our growth. Sadly, I have not enjoyed my dealings with banks, as they tend to only be interested in businesses with turnovers of more than £1m.

15. Have you got a five-year goal for the company?

Yes: to become the best personal injury and employment law firm in England, by giving away more knowledge for free.

16. Why is it good to do business in Harrogate?

Multiple reasons. It’s a gorgeous place, where most people know each other, and with so many independent establishments. And because we tend to know each other – and talk to each other! – any bad egg are quickly found out. Conversely, if you treat people well, your good reputation will quickly spread. Good and bad news travels quickly here! And our clients are lovely, so too our suppliers and so too are the other lawyers in the town. It is a privilege to live and work here.

The post Getting To Know Andrew Gray, Founder of Truth Legal Solicitors appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

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The post Harrogate News Round-Up – December’s Festive Edition appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

Local MP gives thumbs up to local businesses at Christmas

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, has thrown his support behind the town’s ‘Love Your High Street’ campaign. With the aim of championing local, independent businesses, Mr Jones was quick to point out the wonderful festive window displays provided by independent shops as an example of the unique ambience and “individual creativity” the shops provide.

Starbeck knitted out for Christmas

More than 750 knitted angels appeared overnight to greet the villagers of Starbeck, near Harrogate, thanks to volunteers from St Andrew’s Church, Starbeck Methodist and the Mission Church. The angels were located all over town and set up to greet early risers and children going to school, and were available for residents to take home to decorate their tree.

Harrogate Farm Shop donates to the homeless at Christmas

Successful Harrogate food business, Fodder, donates to the Harrogate Homeless Project all year round, but on Christmas Eve they made a special effort to help by delivering a special food parcel. The café and farm shop, run by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society at the Great Yorkshire Showground, also helped serve dinners at the project’s day service Springboard.

No White Christmas in Harrogate

The long distance forecast for snow on Christmas Day once again failed to materialise, and the biggest problem ended up being freezing fog. The Met Office issued a yellow warning on Christmas Eve to watch out for patches of fog, which were due to last until 11.00am on Christmas Day.

Harrogate woman files comedy complaint over carol singers

A Harrogate woman called police on Friday December 21st to complain that the carol singers at her door were from Leeds! The unseasonal complaint was made because the woman suspected the singers “were not local and were up to no good”. As part of a social media campaign, North Yorkshire Police tweeted every incident reported on the busiest night of the year, and not surprisingly, this one prompted some amusing and bemused replies.

70 drivers caught in Christmas drink-drive campaign

More than 70 drivers were arrested from December 1st leading up to Christmas, as North Yorkshire Police stepped up their festive crackdown on drink driving. This number included a Harrogate woman being banned from driving for 12 months and fined £1000 for failing a breath test. 20 further court dates have also been set.

Special Christmas ceremony for war graves

A candlelit ceremony was arranged for December 23rd by Harrogate mum, Benji Walker, whose family included two members who died in World War l. The town’s Stonefell Cemetery was the venue, and the guests lit up the Commonwealth War graves to warm the hearts at Christmas.

Poorly children get panto treat

Nobody missed out on Harrogate’s annual pantomime this Christmas, not even the poorly children of Harrogate Hospital. A hi-tech link-up with Harrogate Theatre meant that several performances of Jack & the Beanstalk could be watched in bed by the children via a live stream.

Charity earns funds through festive gift-wrapping

Shoppers in Harrogate were given a helping hand by volunteers from brain tumour charity the PPR Foundation, who set up a gift-wrapping service in the run-up to Christmas. Shoppers paid an agreed price for the gift-wrapping in support of the charity’s £1m fundraising target.

Returning festive fair a success

The third festive fair in the Royal Hall featured a range of over 300 Yorkshire-based businesses, offering cooking demonstrations, craft workshops, food and drink stalls and plenty of hand-made gifts.

The post Harrogate News Round-Up – December’s Festive Edition appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

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The post Harrogate solicitor’s views on the Brexit impasse appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

In this blog, Harrogate Solicitor and current President of Harrogate District Law Society, sets out his personal views on the Brexit deadlock.

I confess: I’m a total political nerd, as nerdy as it gets. Politics is my favourite topic of conversation, hence why I never get invited to parties. Politics was always discussed at home, all-of-the-time. As a result, I took a degree in economics and politics. And many moons ago, my dissertation concerned the pros and cons of an EU Army (though I can’t recall my conclusion!). Though I know most sensible people are BOBS – Bored Of Brexit – I’m gripped by the twists and turns.

Unlike many people, I did not – and still do not – blame David Cameron for promising the referendum on EU membership. It was, simply, political expediency. In order to out-manoeuvre UKIP, Cameron did what any Conservative Prime Minster would do and promise a referendum: it worked. This was our (flawed, but tried and tested) system and he played it well. And given the result of the referendum, allowing the people a vote on such a central tenet of British life was the right thing to do, as none of the three main parties stood on a platform of leaving the EU, even though this was – evidently – the mood of the people. Many criticise David Cameron for standing aside when he did, but a pro-Remain PM would never have enjoyed the support of the Brexiteers. He had no choice.

In my view, there was mileage in the Professor Dawkins (author of The God Delusion and other books) position that asking non-experts (99% of the population) to vote on something as complex as the pros and cons of EU membership, is silly. Dawkins wrote a controversial piece in 2016 in which he stated:

“You want your plumber to know one end of a drain from the other. Why would you entrust your country’s economic and political future to know-nothing voters like me?”

As a political nerd who studied European Union law and implemented much of it in my role as a Solicitor, I suppose I think that (somewhat arrogantly) I have a better understanding of the European Union and its impact than most. But I find weighing up the pros and cons of our EU membership as complex a question as there is. Though if what you care about first and foremost is sovereignty, then leaving makes complete sense. (At Truth Legal, when we are representing clients and we don’t know the answer, we usually instruct expert barristers to help our client.)

And although I have sympathy with the Dawkins argument, as a democrat first, our main political parties were clearly not listening to their electorate. My very firm view is that democracy must trump Remain or Brexit, irrespective of whether I like the outcome.

Recent Brexit developments

Over the last few days, the Government has lost several key votes on the Brexit process. If the Government’s Withdrawal Bill is rejected by the House of Commons later this month (January 2019), then the Government now only has three days in which to come up with another proposal. The country finds itself in uncharted territories. As the Coalition Government of 2010-2015 introduced the Fixed Term Parliaments Act to ensure that the Coalition survived, in earlier times, a General Election was likely to follow so many Parliamentary defeats for the Government, but not now.

What Next?

Will Brexit happen? If so, what type of Brexit will it be – hard or soft? Will there be a second referendum?

Will Article 50 be delayed? Will the Government fail? Will there be snap general election?

Clearly, I have set myself up to fail, here. This blog will be cast into the ether and will be used as a stick to beat me with if I am wrong, but here goes…..

If there are facts, I think these are they, from which I will draw my conclusions:

  1. The Conservatives, and many of the national papers, are more worried about the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn Government than of a (potentially damaging) No-Deal Brexit.
  2. Whether you love her, hate her or whether you’re indifferent, Teresa May has sticking power, plus she knows her way around Parliament and its procedures better than most.
  3. No party wants to be associated with economic incompetence. And if a No-Deal Brexit leads to economic catastrophe in the short-term (which seems universally accepted), no party wants to be associated with it. Across the globe, any party – be they right or left-wing – which was in power during the International Banking Crisis, found itself out of power for some time.
  4. The referendum result was so close and may have been tainted with illegality.
  5. Parliament is deadlocked, and MPs are flexing their muscles, less constrained by the whipping system. More MPs will vote with their conscience.
  6. The EU does not want the UK to leave, predominantly because of the potential collapse of the European project. Therefore, the EU cannot afford a good deal to be offered, otherwise other more Eurosceptic countries will want to leave. The EU, of course, has previous for seeking second votes when it doesn’t like the first outcome. It’s their modus operandi.

My best guess, for what it is worth, is that the Withdrawal Bill will be voted down by Parliament, but only just (despite the PM offering Trade Union leaders guarantees on employment rights if they support her agreement). Following the revolt, the Labour Party will go for a no-confidence vote, which will be unsuccessful, by some margin. The Prime Minister will then beg the EU for a delay on the UK’s departure, which will be agreed, in the hope that UK will stay.

I predict (dangerous, Andrew) that as the EU’s position won’t budge, and with many more months passed, in order to cling onto power, Teresa May will call a second referendum with three options put to us: No-Deal, Remain and whatever deal is on offer at that time. As three years will have elapsed since the original vote, politicians will reason that there have been General Elections that have been called more frequently than the three-year gap between 2016 and 2019. As we will hear from Remain politicians, over and over again, there were General Elections in 1950 and then in 1951; in 1964 and then in 1966; in 1974 twice; and in 2015 and 2017. It will seem, then, more palatable for there to be a three-year gap between referenda, as the logic will go.

But what will the outcome be of the second referendum? I have no idea! If one week is a long time in politics, then 6 months is an eternity.

The post Harrogate solicitor’s views on the Brexit impasse appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

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The post Compensation For Misdiagnosed Cervical Cancer – Is It Possible To Claim? appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

A startling report in The Independent newspaper earlier last year revealed that as a result of failings at a laboratory in Essex, thousands of cervical cancer screening results were to be reviewed by the NHS. This was because it had been discovered that some women tested were incorrectly given the all-clear. At the time of the news article, 17 women had erroneously been told that their test samples had tested negative for cervical cancer, with 1600 more samples still to be reviewed.

Given that, as with most cancers, early diagnosis of the disease is usually the key to the most favourable outcome for sufferers, this news would have been hugely alarming to say the least for those women involved.

According to Cancer Research Uk around 9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day in the UK. That equates to over 3200 new cases of the disease every year. The same charity’s research found that 99.8% of cervical cancer cases are preventable.

If misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cervical cancer has taken place, then it may be possible to make a claim for misdiagnosis of cancer compensation claim.

What is Cervical Cancer?

The cervix is the lower part of the womb. Cervical cancer develops in the cervix when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled manner. The two main types of cervical cancer are:

  • Squamous cell cancer
  • Adenocarcinoma

Of the two, squamous cell cancer is the most common form. Between 70% and 80% of all cervical cancers are of this type. (Source Cancer Research UK).

What are the early symptoms of cervical cancer?

The cell changes that give rise to cervical cancer do not cause symptoms. These changes can be picked up though by means of a cervical screening test. This was formerly known as a ‘smear test.’ Because symptoms do not generally manifest themselves it is hugely important that women undergo these tests and having done so, just as vital that the medical experts pick up on any abnormalities revealed.

In the early stages of the disease itself, however, cervical cancer usually makes its presence known through:

  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Inter-menstrual bleeding
  • Pain in the area between the hip bones
  • Unusual vaginal discharge

If cervical cancer is picked up at an early stage, then with appropriate treatment the prospects for a full recovery are good.

Under the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, all women registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening as follows:

  • Aged 25 to 49 years – every three years
  • Aged 50 to 65 years – every five years
  • Aged over 65 – only women who have had abnormal tests

Incidences of cervical cancer are highest in women aged between 25 and 29.

What happens if abnormal cell changes are noted as a result of a cervical screening test?

Something called a speculum is put into the vagina. A speculum is a duck-bill-shaped device that doctors use to see inside a hollow part of your body and diagnose or treat disease. Once inserted the nurse is able to open the speculum up so that she can see inside the vagina. A soft brush is then used to take a sample from the cervix. The sample is then put into a vial of preserving liquid and taken away for testing. It is not of itself a test for cancer, but rather to check the health of the cervix. In most cases the test shows up no abnormalities and that the cervix is quite healthy. It is only about 1 in 20 cases that abnormalities are present.

If abnormalities are noticed then the person will be called back within a few weeks of the initial screening for a further test known as a colposcopy during which a sample of tissue may be removed for further examination. In some cases, if abnormal cells are obviously present during the colposcopy, then treatment to remove those cells may take place immediately. If this isn’t possible, it will only be once the results of the biopsy are known (between 4 and 8 weeks) that further action will be taken if the biopsy results confirm the presence of abnormal cells.

Where the cancer advances to a mid-stage, then treatment is either by hysterectomy or sometimes with radiotherapy of the pelvic area.

Late stage cervical cancer is treated by using chemotherapy.

Claiming compensation in the event of misdiagnosed or delays in diagnosing cervical cancer

Throughout this article, reference has been made about ‘catching the disease early’. Early detection and prompt action will invariably lead to the person affected either not going on to develop cancer at all or the cancer being very treatable, if it has just reached the stage of being diagnosed.

Problems with missing opportunities to either prevent the cancer or to treat it at an early stage, arise most frequently, but not solely, in any of the following circumstances:

  • Mistakes by medical experts in interpreting cervical screening test (formerly ‘Smear Test’ results).
  • GPs failing to refer women quickly enough to a gynaecological oncologist for further investigation.
  • Cancer being missed during a colposcopy examination.
  • Failing to carry out an adequate examination or take an accurate record of the examination.
  • Mistaken diagnosis of cervical cancer leading to unnecessary surgery.

A claim for medical negligence arising out of a missed or wrongly diagnosed case of cervical cancer does not just mean proving that there was negligence by a GP or another medical expert who owed a duty of care to the victim. Proving negligence is one thing. The person making the claim also has to be able to show (with the help from their solicitors and experts) that they have suffered a loss (injury). So, if there was delay in diagnosis of the cancer or of the cell abnormality, but that did not cause the outcome to be different than it would have been, if it had been diagnosed earlier, then that is not likely to be enough to bring a successful claim.

However, if the delay caused the cancer to move to a more advanced case, resulting in a greater degree of pain and suffering and more invasive or extensive treatment, than would have been the case had the negligence not taken place, then a claim may have a good chance of succeeding. Sometimes, tragically, a sufferer may die as a result of delayed or misdiagnosed cervical cancer. In circumstances where that happens, the claim will survive the person that has died and often their family will be able to proceed with a claim for compensation.

Truth Legal- we are here to help

Clinical negligence claims are usually far from straightforward to pursue. That does not mean that they are impossible to bring. Claims for cervical cancer misdiagnosis claims are no different to any other medical negligence claim in that the person seeking someone to help them pursue a claim must look for a specialist medical negligence solicitor to assist them and one that has successfully pursued cancer misdiagnosis compensation claims before. We believe that is vital.

At Truth Legal we have dedicated specialist clinical negligence solicitors who have a wealth of relevant experience. They also have a professional, ethical and empathetic approach to their work, at a time when often their client may just need a shoulder to lean on, every now and then.

Deciding whether to bring a clinical negligence claim can often feel like a big decision. If you have any concerns about this, or you would just like some more information, please contact us  today so we can discuss your situation.

Our initial consultations are free and there is no pressure on you to take matters any further. If you do decide to proceed and ask us to start a claim for you, then we will offer to do our work for you by using a No Win, No Fee Agreement. Why not call me now, Gary Warriner, to have an informal chat about your possible claim? Call us on 01423 788 538 or if you prefer email us at enquiries@truthlegal.com

The post Compensation For Misdiagnosed Cervical Cancer – Is It Possible To Claim? appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

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The post How Do NHS Complaints Work? appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

No one ever wants to make a complaint. We would all much prefer things to go smoothly and according to plan, to have no grounds for complaint at all. Nowhere is this more true than with medical mistakes.

Most healthcare in the UK is provided free through the NHS. In England alone, the NHS estimates that it deals with over 1 million people every 36 hours. For the vast majority of its patients, the NHS does a remarkable job in difficult circumstances. The news is filled with reports of underfunding and understaffing, yet the NHS continues to treat and care for huge numbers of people.

But mistakes do happen, and the chance of them happening only increases in situations where staff are overworked and resources are stretched thin.

When medical mistakes happen, serious consequences can arise, and you may feel that something has to be done – perhaps to shed light on the way in which you’ve been treated or to help other patients in future.

In 2017, the NHS received over 208,400 formal written complaints – the equivalent of 571 complaints a day. This is also an increase of more than 10,000 complaints over 2016’s figures.

If you have been affected by a medical mistake, you have a right to complain, and there are clear, established processes for doing so. In this post, we will set out some of the details for how NHS complaints work in general.

Why should I make a complaint?

The prospect of making a complaint may sound daunting at first, and you may feel it is simply easier to do nothing.

However, you may also feel strongly that what has happened to you should not be ignored.

Making a complaint will prompt the NHS to investigate your circumstances, discovering where and how they have gone wrong. It is a way of holding those responsible to account and perhaps seeking recognition, and an apology, for the mistake and how it has affected you.

The only way the NHS will learn from its mistakes is if people report them. By making a complaint, you are identifying and highlighting failures in the system to the NHS service providers, hopefully leading to those failures being put right. This can prevent other people from experiencing the same failures in future.

What is the first step in an NHS complaint?

The first step is to gather information about the complaints procedure for your particular circumstances. All NHS organisations will have clear, written complaints procedures but these vary based on the organisation in question.

Every NHS organisation should supply you with their written complaints procedure on request, so asking them for this is often the easiest way to start your complaint. The procedure will tell you everything you need to know about:

  • How to file your complaint
  • Who will consider it
  • How it will be dealt with
  • The timescales for receiving a response
  • The further steps for any unresolved complaints

NHS England, the organisation which sets the priorities and direction for the NHS in England, provides further general information on the different bodies which handle NHS complaints.

What will usually happen when I complain?

In general, you will have the opportunity to talk through your complaint with representatives of the relevant NHS organisation.

This is known as ‘local resolution’ by NHS England.   The theory behind the process is to attempt to resolve issues quickly, where possible, by speaking directly to the medical professionals or organisation involved.

It may be possible to resolve some complaints at this stage. However, you should never feel obliged, or be pressurised, to accept the information you are given. Whilst you may be satisfied with their response, the NHS organisation may also have its own agenda, and wish to resolve the matter on its own terms. You should keep your own interests, and your objectives for the complaint, in mind and judge for yourself whether the NHS has done enough to resolve the issue.

If you do not believe it is possible to resolve the issues involved in the complaint upon an informal basis (which will certainly be the case where more serious issues are involved) then you should file a formal complaint, following the relevant NHS care provider’s procedure.

The Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman

If you are dissatisfied with the result of a formal investigation conducted by the NHS, and you have reached the end of their complaints process, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman to take matters further. The Ombudsman can also be used to escalate complaints where an NHS organisation has not responded to you within the timescales they set out.

The Ombudsman can make final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England.

How long do I have to make my complaint?

There is a time limit to NHS complaints. Usually, you must make your complaint within 12 months of the incident, or if you only found out at a later date that the incident had occurred, within 12 months of it coming to your attention. It is sometimes possible to extend the time limit. This is normally in circumstances where it would have been difficult to make the complaint earlier. For example, if you were grieving, recovering from treatment, or suffering trauma.

It is important to be aware that the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman also uses the 12-month time limit when investigating complaints. This means you may be unable to escalate your complaint to the Ombudsman if this period runs out – whether you are already going through an NHS organisation’s procedure or not.

You should keep the 12-month time limit fixed firmly in your mind. If you suspect your complaint might require investigation by the Ombudsman, ensure that you register your complaint with them before the time limit expires.

Can anyone help me to make an NHS complaint?

The Patient Advisory Liaison Service (PALS) is available in most hospitals, and is able to offer advice, assistance, and guidance in making a complaint about your medical care.

Another alternative is to seek advice from your local Citizens Advice (formerly Citizens Advice Bureau), although some offices only have limited resources and staff.

Additionally, the independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service may be able to assist with your complaint.

Truth Legal, have also produced free resources to help you with an NHS complaint. We have created a step-by-step guide to writing your letter of complaint [link to ‘How to Write a Complaint Letter to the NHS’ blog when posted] and two sample letters of complaint in our Legal Library.

Is there anything else that I should do?

It is a good idea to request a copy of your medical records under the General Data Protection Regulations (you might know these better as the GDPR, the subject of countless emails earlier this year!). Having copies of your medical records can help you to support your complaint.

If you are complaining on behalf of a loved one who has passed away, you can request their records through Primary Care Support England, who hold the GP medical records of people who have died.

Should I also start a clinical negligence claim?

Complaints are separate from clinical negligence claims.

For serious cases, where you have been injured or otherwise harmed because of a medical mistake, you may also wish to make a clinical negligence claim. Submitting a complaint (or otherwise) does not affect your rights to make a claim. In the same way, starting a clinical negligence claim does not prevent you from making a complaint.

Whereas clinical negligence claims are a way to seek financial compensation for your injuries, complaints do not necessarily result in any such award. If your complaint is upheld, there is a chance that you or your family will receive financial compensation, but this is not guaranteed.

Truth Legal can help you if you are thinking about starting a clinical negligence claim. Our highly-experienced clinical negligence solicitors have assisted many clients to recover much-deserved compensation. Please contact us to discuss your situation.

The post How Do NHS Complaints Work? appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

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The post How Do I Write a Complaint Letter to the NHS? appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

If you have experienced mistreatment or sub-standard service from the NHS, it is natural to want an explanation. You might not be seeking compensation – although this may be possible through a clinical negligence claim – you might just want an apology, recognition of the poor treatment you have received, or to highlight issues which could harm other patients.

You may be able to achieve these outcomes by submitting a complaint to the NHS.

Writing a letter of complaint is often the crucial first step to making your grievance official. It can also be a useful way of ordering your thoughts and perspective on events, and clearly detailing your experiences.

However, writing an effective complaint letter can be tricky. To properly explain your complaint, it must be clear, accurate, and thorough. So we’ve created this step-by-step guide to help you with constructing a strong NHS complaint letter.

Do I have the right to complain?

Before examining how to write a letter of complaint, it is helpful to look at who has the right to complain.

In general, you have the right to complain about any aspect of any NHS service, whether you have experienced mistreatment, misdiagnosis, poor standards of care, or bad service. Even if there is no doubt in your mind that you have a right to complain, you should be aware of the following points:

  • The nature of your complaint. Your complaint must relate to an issue which has already affected you. For example, a medical injury or illness you have suffered for which you hold the NHS responsible.
  • Time limits. Complaints should be made within 12 months of the incident in question. If the basis for your complaint only becomes apparent later on, the 12-month time limit will only begin to run from the point at which you became aware of those grounds for complaint. Deadlines can be extended in situations where there is a justifiable reason for the delay; however, it is always advisable to submit your complaint as soon as possible.
  • Understanding. There is no minimum age requirement to make a complaint, but it is required that anyone making a complaint must fully understand the nature and implications of what they are doing. This means that young children and people without the mental capacity to understand the process (e.g. people in a coma or suffering from the effects of a severe head injury) should have someone else make the complaint on their behalf.
  • Complaining on someone else’s behalf. If complaining on behalf of someone else, such as a family member or a friend for example, you must have their permission to do so. However, there is some flexibility to this rule; especially in respect of people who are unable to understand the situation or who have passed away.
  • Duplicate complaints. You cannot make a duplicate complaint if that same issue has already been resolved or investigated.
  • Verbal complaints. In a similar way to a duplicate complaint, if you have already made a verbal complaint – and the NHS resolves the issue by the end of the next working day – then you will be prevented from submitting a written complaint about it later.

NHS complaints and clinical negligence claims

Writing a complaint to the NHS and making a clinical negligence claim [link to blog post guide ‘making a clinical negligence claim’ when posted] are two separate courses of action. Complaints are made through internal NHS complaints procedures, whereas a clinical negligence claim is a legal action, relying on the wider ‘laws of the land’. You may take either course separately or pursue both.

If you make a complaint and are dissatisfied with how the NHS has handled it and/or the complaint’s outcome, then it is important to make the NHS aware of this. However, you are not prevented from taking legal action in a clinical negligence claim just because you have made a complaint.

Similarly, you are not legally bound to accept the outcome or findings of a complaint. If the NHS dismisses your complaint, this will not mean you cannot make a clinical negligence claim.

Despite being distinct from each other, there are some areas where complaints and clinical negligence claims overlap – most notably in terms of evidence. Gathering evidence for a complaint may form a good evidential basis for a clinical negligence claim. Also, organising the sequence of events into a clear narrative can help a clinical negligence solicitor to assess the prospects of a potential claim.

Complaints Procedures

Each service provider in the NHS (such as a hospital, GP surgery, pharmacist, dentist etc) has its own complaints procedure. The first step of preparing your complaint is therefore to find the relevant procedure. These should be readily accessible for patients, so requesting a copy from the service provider directly is often the easiest approach.

However, you can submit a complaint to the NHS commissioner of the service instead. NHS England’s website explains more about who this might be in your situation.

In many cases, it may be best to attempt resolution of your issue in person before filing an official complaint. You could achieve the outcome you are looking for much more quickly, especially if you are seeking an apology for how you have been treated. In addition, it demonstrates that you are being reasonable – doing all you can to resolve the matter.

Naturally, however, trying to resolve some complaints in person will be insufficient or inappropriate – for example, where you have suffered lasting harm from medical negligence.

Preparing your written complaint

If you still wish to submit a written complaint, preparation is strongly recommended. Your complaint letter will be much more effective if it is accurate and comprehensive. You should therefore keep safe any relevant papers, such as correspondence, test results, appointment cards etc.

You should also make notes of any verbal discussions you have had regarding the matter. These notes should record:

  • When the conversation took place
  • The person or people you spoke to
  • What was said and by whom

Writing your letter of complaint – a step-by-step guide

This step-by-step guide should help you create an effective letter of complaint.

The information you include is a balancing act; you need to provide all the relevant details so that the NHS can consider and investigate your complaint, but you don’t want your letter to become bogged down in unnecessary detail, doing so might make your complaint difficult to understand.

Essentially, our advice is to stick to the point: state the facts, don’t be abusive, be constructive, and try to be dispassionate in your letter. If you feel yourself getting too emotional when writing, step away from it and continue later. That being said, it is perfectly acceptable to explain how the incident may have affected your work, family, and personal life.

If you would like to see any sample complaint letters, these are available to download, for free, from our Legal Library. Hopefully, these can provide you with a useful starting point and help you to structure your own letter. However, if you are using a sample letter as a template, always make sure that you replace the details with your own, and that no sample details are left in by mistake!

  • Step 1: Gathering your information. Before you start your letter, you need to be fully prepared and have everything to hand. Ensure that you gather together all the relevant details and information that you have, including telephone calls, appointment dates, notes, documents, correspondence, and the names of any medical professionals involved (doctors, dentists, surgeons etc.).
  • Step 2: Including your personal details. Your letter should be set out in standard letter format, with your contact details in the top right corner. These should include:
    • Your name
    • Your address
    • Telephone number(s)
    • Email address.
  • Step 3: Addressing your complaint letter. In the top left corner, you will need to provide the address of the NHS service provider or commissioner against whom you are directing your complaint (see the ‘Complaints procedures’ section above). Remember that the NHS has numerous departments and employees so it will save a lot of time if send your complaint letter to the right place.

 Your letter should also be specifically addressed to the right person. This will usually be the person you have been in contact with. If you’ve dealt with more than one person, then just address it to one of them.  If you are unsure of the names of the people to whom you have been speaking, we would suggest addressing it to Chief Executive of the hospital in question (you can find out their name from the hospital’s website) or to the Practice Manager if it’s a GP surgery.

  • Step 4: Writing your opening paragraph. In the first paragraph of your letter, you should clearly set out your reasons for writing and state that it is an official complaint against the NHS. Here, you should also provide your full name, date of birth, and NHS number (if you know it) so that the NHS can find and access your medical records. If you are making a complaint on someone else’s behalf, make sure you provide their details here instead.
  • Step 5: Writing the main body of your complaint letter. The main part of your letter should explain clearly and concisely exactly what your complaint is. Specifically, you need to explain what you believe has gone wrong, what should have been done better and what effect the incident has had on you.

We would recommend setting out your complaint in chronological order, writing about events in the sequence that they occurred. This will make it easier to understand and follow.

When writing anything in your letter, it is always worth questioning whether it is relevant to your complaint. If it isn’t, then you should leave it out. Again, this will help with the clarity of your letter.

  • Step 6: Asking specific questions. If you want answers to any specific questions, it can be helpful to list and number them towards the end of your letter. This clearly indicates the issues to which you want the NHS to respond. It also invites them to answer your questions using your numbering, which can help you consider their response.
  • Step 7: Concluding your complaint letter. You should conclude your letter by explaining that you have followed the NHS complaints procedure and will be expecting a response within a reasonable period of time.
  • Step 8: Adding enclosures. If you have any evidence or documentation in support of your complaint then you should attach copies to your letter. This could include any appointment cards, written notes or correspondence which you believe will support or illustrate your complaint. Always keep the original documents yourself, however, so that this evidence is not lost if your complaint letter goes missing.

If you are sending any enclosed documents, at the end of your letter (after your signature and printed name) you should write ‘Enclosures’ and list all of the documents that you are attaching to your letter. Try to describe each document specifically (i.e. the kind of document it is, any date on it etc.) so that it is clear which document you are referring to. This list can also help you when compiling your letter before posting – like a checklist to ensure all enclosures are included.

  • Step 9: Proof-reading. Before sending your complaint letter, it is important to re-read it to ensure everything is accurate and that all relevant information has been included. Again, try to be as detached as possible when re-reading your letter and ask yourself whether your letter:
    • makes sense
    • sounds reasonable
    • is constructive, factual and concise
    • makes any unfounded claims or unsupported arguments
    • sounds too aggressive or emotional in tone

This cold analysis can be difficult when you are so closely attached to the issues in the complaint. It can be helpful to ask a friend or family member to read your letter, ideally one who does not know all the details of your complaint. Can they understand your letter? Can they analyse it in the detached way described above? If so, what do they think of it?

Finally, good spelling and grammar can make a huge difference to the clarity of your writing. Whilst no one will be marking your complaint letter for these things, you should try to eliminate as many mistakes as possible. A well-written letter will make a much better impression, so ask a friend for help if writing is not your strong suit. All of that said, never let worries over technicalities stop you from sending a complaint letter – making your grievance known and understood are the crucial points!

  • Step 10: Sending your letter. Once you are satisfied with your complaint letter, and you are sure the address and intended recipient are correct, you can send it off.

What to expect after you have sent your complaint letter

After your letter has been sent, you should expect acknowledgement of your complaint within three working days.  However, besides acknowledging receipt of the letter, there is unfortunately no set time limit for an actual response to your complaint.

If you haven’t heard anything within six months of sending your letter then the NHS service you have sent it to should explain the reason for the delay.  Should you be unsatisfied with their explanation, or believe that they are simply fobbing you off, then you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Alternatively, you could consult a specialist clinical negligence solicitor for further advice, and potentially about making a claim.

How Truth Legal can help

At Truth Legal, our experienced clinical negligence solicitors have helped many people claim compensation for a medical mistake. If you are considering making a clinical negligence claim in addition to your complaint, please feel free to contact us to discuss your situation.

The post How Do I Write a Complaint Letter to the NHS? appeared first on Truth Legal Solicitors.

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