Fieldfisher hosts successful conference for practitioners working with people suffering catastrophic neurological injury
Drawing on the specialist experience of the Personal Injury Team in dealing with cases involving serious brain injury, Fieldfisher hosted a conference for delegates in July focusing on achieving the best rehabilitation for people suffering catastrophic brain injury, generally following an accident. The event was sponsored by NeuroHealth Case Management Services and ABI Solutions.
As Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC, one of the speakers, wrote in a paper connected to the event, these are people whose lives, and the lives of their family, have changed forever in seconds. They may be unable to communicate because of their injury. Lawyers and clinicians are therefore dealing with a family in shock, trying to come to terms with the disaster that has hit their lives and understanding the prognosis of the injury.
They are often juggling dealing with decisions about potentially life-changing treatment and where it should take place, the financial implications of not only the medical care but future lost income, talking to police and insurers, plus the day-to-day practicalities such as who will look after children or other dependent relatives.
The conference analysed immediate trauma care, decisions taken by neurosurgeons, rehabilitation on the ward, decisions about onward rehabilitation and getting people back into the home environment. It also explored the longer-term aftermath of a life potentially shattered, the impact on personal relationships and the effect of coping mechanisms such as drugs and alcohol.
Medical speakers included Dr Anne Weaver, head of trauma at Royal London Hospital and lead clinician for London's Air Ambulance, who spoke about what emergency response actually looks like; Dr Matthew Crocker, a consultant neurosurgeon at St George's University Hospital Trust and Dr Mark Salter, a consultant psychiatrist at East London Foundation Trust.
On the legal side, Henry Witcomb QC and Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel QC, both of One Crown Office Row, discussed how an injury victim secures housing in light of changes to the discount rate, interim payment applications and the way to get the best settlement for a victim. Grahame Aldous QC introduced the event.
Jill Greenfield's focus, as ever, was the struggle for lawyers to get funding from insurers quickly to provide people suffering brain injuries the right rehabilitation at the right time to give them the best chance of some level of recovery. She described cases where fast intervention made the difference between a patient being discharged into a care home with general care and receiving specialist rehabilitation in a specialist unit.
Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. Delegates described the day as 'thought-provoking, informative and compassionate', with 'clear, relevant case studies', 'vibrant and heartfelt'. One respondent said it was 'refreshing to have a solicitor focus on rehab rather than the cost of the claim'.
Jill's approach and delivery was described as 'second to none'.