Henshaws has been working with JMW Solicitors based in Manchester for the past 12 months. The support they have given our charity has been absolutely amazing. To date they have donated £7,500.00, held a fundraising lunch, and taken part in our Yorkshire Three Peaks which raised £1,528, we cannot thank everyone enough for their incredible support.
Kimberley Peet is a solicitor at Henshaws corporate supporter JMW who specialises in helping patients who have suffered injuries due to mistakes made with their medical care. We spoke to Kimberley to find out more about her role and what she thinks needs to change for people with eye conditions and visual impairments.
What is your role and why did you decide to specialise in acting for patients who have been injured as a result of medical negligence?
My role involves helping patients and families who have suffered a wide range of injuries because something went wrong with their medical care. I help them to challenge the mistakes that were made, and secure compensation to support them as they rebuild their lives. Initially, I carry out a thorough investigation to find out what went wrong and why and provide support for my clients at what is often a very difficult and challenging time for them.
I always knew that I wanted to work in an area of law which helped people and where I could build a relationship with my clients. I studied medical law at university and after I graduated, I began working in a clinical negligence team at a firm of solicitors. Immediately I knew that I wanted to specialise in this area of the law as I saw first-hand just how much of a difference we can make to people’s lives. I joined JMW almost 9 years ago and in that time, I’ve represented hundreds of clients, including several who lost their sight as a result of medical errors.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
Cases involving suspected failures in medical care often take time to investigate and being able to build strong relationships and trust with clients during the process is invaluable. I enjoy being there to offer support to clients during what is often a very difficult period and helping them to find closure.
I understand that no amount of money can ever change the injury a person has suffered but to be able to help a client recover compensation to cover the cost of things such as specialised equipment, private therapy, lost earnings, care and sometimes even a new home is so rewarding. Compensation payments can be completely life-changing and can really help someone who is struggling after poor medical treatment see the light at the end of the tunnel.
How and why did you become involved with Henshaws?
As part of my role as a medical l negligence solicitor, I have represented clients who have suffered avoidable eye injuries because of avoidable mistakes were made with their treatment. I have seen first-hand the impact that sight loss can have on a person and just how devastating it is.
Henshaws is a brilliant charity that offers invaluable support to people affected by sight loss. In 2021 they visited JMW’s offices to prove Visual Impairment Awareness Training (VIAT) to the team and to ensure that we were able to better understand sight loss and the experiences faced by visually impaired people every day.
During the discussions with Henshaws we recognised that a lot of the work that we do and our values mirror each other. We formed a relationship with the goal of working together to improve the quality of life, increase independence and offer support to those affected by sight loss.
JMW strives to support a wide range of charities that help to support our clients and we became one of Henshaws corporate partners in early 2022. The partnership will provide Henshaws’ service users with access to JMW’s specialist legal services, and JMW will staff carry out fundraising and volunteer at Henshaws events, such as the carol service at Manchester Cathedral.
A team of JMW walkers completed the Yorkshire 3 peaks for Henshaws in July and raised over £1,300.00 for the charity. It was a fantastic achievement for them and they enjoyed the experience.
What are the problems with medical care for eye injuries/conditions that you and your team see most frequently?
We have represented lots of clients who have sadly suffered avoidable vision loss because of poor medical treatment. The reason for vision loss has varied, but some of the mistakes we see most frequently include failing to refer a patient for urgent surgery/treatment when they have signs of a serious eye condition that progresses rapidly.
Examples include temporal arteritis, macular degeneration, failure of diabetes care or infections. I recently helped a patient who lost all the sight in one eye due to him being sent home from the hospital when he required urgent treatment for an injury to his retina. He had already lost vision in his other eye, and the failures meant he became legally blind. This completely devasted his life and he lost all his independence and was no longer even able to even make himself a cup of tea. The psychological impact was huge and he was left feeling very low. I was able to secure this man enough money to move into a new house more suitable for his needs as well as provision for care and equipment to make his life easier. This will have a huge impact on his life but I know that no amount of money will ever make up for the loss of his sight.
What do you think could be changed in healthcare to help prevent avoidable eye injuries and vision loss?
To know that your vision loss was preventable and avoidable is completely devastating and very difficult to comprehend. It is therefore very important that medical and healthcare professionals listen to patients and take the time to investigate and look into their concerns properly.
It is vital that healthcare professionals have adequate staffing, resources and training to prevent avoidable mistakes from being made.
How can everyone help to improve the lives of people with visual impairments?
It is important to ensure that steps are taken to allow accessibility and inclusivity for people with vision loss. Everyone has the right to independence and it is therefore necessary to take the time to understand and consider the needs of people living with sight loss to ensure this happens. This includes workplaces, transport, leisure services and any professional company dealing with the general public. This can be done by taking practical steps, investing in alternative technology and offering additional support where it is needed
The VIAT course offered by Henshaws is an invaluable resource in enabling businesses and individuals to better understand the impact of sight loss and the challenges faced by visually impaired people every day with basic tasks. This is a great option for training companies and staff to be more inclusive and to help support people with sight loss.