Happy 30th birthday to AvMA – that’s Action against Medical Accidents, whose website you can find at http://www.avma.org.uk . AvMa are the UK charity campaigning for patient safety and justice, and they do an excellent job.
The charity was set up back in 1982, following public reaction to “Minor Complications ” – a BBC play by the author, Peter Ransley, which was first televised in 1980. The play told the true life story of a woman who had her bowel punctured after she had been admitted into hospital for a laparoscopic sterilisation operation.
The play features the difficulties experienced by this woman with both legal and medical professionals when she attempted initially to find out what exactly had happened to cause her medical accident and subsequently to claim financial compensation for her injuries.
Following the appearance of the play, Ransley started to get an increasing amount of correspondence from hundreds of people who had been the victims of medical negligence – he realised that these were just the tip of an iceberg and that medical negligence was a major social problem that was not being tackled.
As a result, along with South London solicitor Arnold Simanowitz, who had contacted Ransley after seeing the play, he set up AvMa to support the victims of medical accidents.
The last 30 years has seen a huge change in the approach to medical accidents. Although medical negligence continues to be a problem with a certain continued reluctance on behalf of both the medical profession and successive governments to tackle it, there has been huge progress dealing with the causes of medical negligence and compensating its victims. In short, medical negligence is now on the agenda.
As AvMa themselves have pointed out, there is no reason to think that the number of medical accidents have massively increased – it’s simply that the attitude of the British public has, at last, begun to shift.
AvMa’s role in these ground breaking changes is not to be underestimated. Sadly, there is still much to do – and AvMa will no doubt be at the heart of campaigning for better justice for those victims of medical negligence.
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