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Legal Aid for Bereaved Families – Mental Health

6 December 2018

Blog, Clinical Negligence

A Government commissioned review recommends legal aid for bereaved families and the review can be found here

The Report states:

Although we are not recommending an independent investigation in every case, we think that funding should be available for the families of those who have died unnaturally, violently or by suicide whilst detained, to receive non-means-tested legal aid. This would be to help families to understand the processes, their rights, and what steps they can take. This would include funding to attend the inquest, but should also be available to support families immediately after the death of the patient”.

More can be read here

We have been acting on behalf of a family who’s daughter was diagnosed with postnatal depression by a GP in October 2012 following the birth of her first child. The condition flared up following the arrival of her second child in 2014. She also suffered from hyperemeris gravidarum (HG) – an extreme form of morning sickness brought to the fore by the Duchess of Cambridge who suffered from the condition while expecting Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Additionally, the family believe she may have had postpartum psychosis after her second baby was born in 2014.

Our Client’s daughter died instantly on July 12, 2015 when she was hit by the Hull to Scarborough train near Spring Bank West after telling staff at Westlands, in Anlaby Road, west Hull, where she was a voluntary inpatient, she was going out to buy cigarettes.

Her daughter pleaded with bosses at Humber NHS Foundation Trust – responsible for the region’s mental health services – to allow her to be admitted to a mother and baby unit in Leeds. Westlands was not the right place for her, in the family’s opinion. She asked to be admitted to the specialist mother and baby unit, but her request were turned down.

Our Client’s daughter was allowed to leave the unit, unaccompanied, even though she was on 15 minute observations. Later, she stepped into the path of a passing train and was killed instantly by the impact.

Our Client and the family was going through the Inquest process with the assistance of Wayne Walker, Solicitor here at Williamsons, who is experienced with both the Inquest procedure and medical negligence. Having attepted to obtain Legal Aid by way one of the “Exceptional Funding Criteria”, it was apparent that the family would not be given the funding to undertake the inquest therefore, Wayne agreed to assist with the inquest, and anything that follows, by way of a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win No Fee).

Wayne says “this case, as well as a number of cases before it, shows that improvements are needed for the provision of postnatal care, if future tragedies are to be prevented.

Although assurances have been given by the Trust on many occasions, the family are not convinced that if another individual presented tomorrow, she would receive better care.

It is very disappointing that the family have been left without the financial means to have a full investigation and that’s why I felt the need for something to be done”.

At the inquest, the Coroner ruled that the case be an ‘Article 2 inquest’. Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects everyone’s right to life. This means that the Inquest will go further into the processes that were in place to protect a person’s right and to establish whether there are any failings.

At the conclusion of the inquest, major failings were identified, even to the extend of criminal neglect was a plausible argument. The Trust admitted their failings and agreed that, had the appropriate treatment been undertaken, our Client’s daughter, and mother to two young children, would not have been allowed to take her own life.

Wayne is now pursuing the case through the courts to obtain financial compensation to assist the family with taking care of the children who have been left without a mother. The case continues and is likely to resolve within 2019.

Anyone needing support to cope with postnatal depression can contact the Association for Post Natal Illnesses. Click here for more information or call 0207 3860868.

If you require assistance with an application for legal aid, whether it is for an inquest or a claim for Clinical Negligence, please contact Wayne on 01482 323697 or email wayne.walker@williamsons.co.uk


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Karen F

Williamsons solicitors have been very good throughout my claim process. All staff very polite and thanks goes to Nick Gray for helping me with my case, couldn’t have done it without him Thank you

Terry G

I carnt thank Williamson solicitors enough for what they have done for us and expecially nick gray who as been brilliant with us Thank you

Mr and Mrs Scott

As always Jane Cousins has done an amazing job for us, Jane always goes that extra mile and I would never use anyone else….we buy and sell a lot, and she always gives us piece of mind… The only downside is …think we should have a loyalty card with Williamson cos we my daughter is using you now and friends who we have told…. We would have a gold card by now 😂😂 Thanks again Jane and thanks to Emily and Sam …jan and Ian Scott..

Peter E

I was given excellent legal advice through every step of the claim and was always kept informed throughout the entire process. My special thanks to Yana Byelova whose legal expertise and guidance helped reach a satisfactory conclusion to a very complex and strenuous case. If I or any of my family and friends are in need of legal assistance I will most definitely recommend using Williamson solicitors.

Paul P

Helpful,explained the process in terms a layman could understand which was especially useful with medical terminology and not just the legal.I am very pleased with the professional service i received and would have no hesitation in recommending Williamson’s Solicitors to anyone or using them again should the need arise.Thankyou Sarah Jackson for what you have done for me.

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Honestly, can’t really say much about “Willismsons” as a whole, but regarding our solicitor, Sarah Jackson, I only have the upmost respect and gratitude. What was an extremely difficult time for us, was handled with care, compassion and total professionalism. Sarah is aware about how I felt she looked after us, and I would not hesitate to recommend her/you to anyone in need of assistance, with a gentle hand and assured advice. Can’t thank her/you enough. Neil Shepherdson.

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Very helpful and supportive company. Explained everythign very well and always happy to take the time to talk.

Barbara A

I highly recommend Yana Byelova who dealt with my personal accident claim. From my first contact she kept me informed at every stage and patiently and clearly explained anything I didn't understand. Yana is professional, courteous and supportive. I am pleased with the settlement of my claim.

Adele L

Fantastic from start to finish with Jane and her colleagues. Constant communication and available to answer any questions I had via telephone or email. Thanks all.

Mike C

We were selling my late father-in-law‘s house and, as we live 200 miles away and have no close family in Hull, we needed a solicitor who was reliable. We chose Williamsons (a) because both of my in-laws had used them for their wills and (b) because the reviews on this website were positive. We are delighted with the conveyancing service which we received from Jane, Emily and Samantha; the phone was always answered promptly, courteously and professionally, and both telephoned and emailed questions were also dealt with quickly and fully. Their letters and emails were well-written, unambiguous and comprehensive. We did not need to visit their offices, except to collect my father-in-law’s will. Our house-sale went smoothly, but I was confident that they could be relied on if there had been any problems. We feel that the service we received was excellent value for money. No hesitation in recommending Williamsons for conveyancing work.

Denise H

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Mary H

Williamson solicitors represented me in my clinical Negligence Claim . On my behalf Arranged Consultation Opinion/Report from Various Medical Experts . As well as as The opinion and Guidance of a Excellent Barrister. Mr Nick Gray my solicitor was bouth Personable and Professional His Expertise Navigating me through a very Stressful difficult period ,His communication with me , his regular update as well as Committement to my Case were Exelente. All the said incredibly important to me as The Client /Patient. My Solicitor and Barrister were Effectively My Voice. A settlement Was reached for me. This has given me and my Family Peace of mind for the future. Kind regard and prayer. Mary Habarek.

Gary C

I contacted Williamsons Solicitors at the beginning of 2019 with regards to a serious injury to upper limb whilst on duty. I assessed the market for Personal Injury Solicitors and the reviews, client engagement studies and performances based against several major law firms including the "large specialist one in Sheffield" and based upon a variety of performance levels I decided to go with Williamsons. I made contact with them, provided a brief report as to my circumstance and awaited a solicitor to make contact. That was when I was contacted by Yana. It became very clear from day one that I was indeed in good capable hands and so began the case. All information and scene evidence was provided and after a very short period of time the solicitors received a statement from the other party accepting full responsibility. Together we worked on the claim and Yana left me in no doubt that I could sit back, spend my time getting my injuries repaired and recover without any undue worries, right up to the final moments of the claim, I left everything in Yana's more than capable hands and we have had a very good outcome. I hope I never have to use the services of a Personal Injury Solicitors again, however If I did have to use one again then Williamsons is the first choice, so long as Yana is still there.

Mr Leech

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Thank you so much Karen for all you did for my family and keeping me and my daughter together. Like also thank you for all your support, understanding and patience. I could get anyone better and experienced than you. Thank you so much.

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Benjamin B

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Linda J

I found Williamsons kept us informed all the way through our claim . I could always speak to someone regarding any queries . The result of the claim was handled efficiently and was very successful .

Judith H

I am very impressed with Williamsons Solicitors. After initial set backs with a Barrister who was not willing to proceed (in his estimation our case did not have enough of a chance of winning) Williamsons did not give up and advised they had approached another Barrister who agreed that our case was good and should be pursued. Williamsons gathered information and evidence very diligently and to good effect - we won our case. If Williamsons had not persisted our case would have fallen at the first hurdle - we are glad we took their advice.

Julie T

I have received an excellent service from Yana Byelova who has been dealing with my claim. Even though these difficult times she has kept us informed every step of the way.