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Establishing a legal service for major trauma patients at a major trauma centre in the UK
  1. William H Seligman1,
  2. Julian Thompson2,
  3. Hannah E Thould3,
  4. Charlotte Tan4,
  5. Andrew Dinsmore4,
  6. David J Lockey2
  1. 1 Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2 Intensive Care Medicine & Anaesthesia, North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, UK
  3. 3 Yeovil District Hospital, Yeovil, Somerset, UK
  4. 4 Stewarts Law LLP, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr William H Seligman, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA; seligmanw{at}


Background Major trauma causes unanticipated critical illness and patients have often made few arrangements for what are sudden and life-changing circumstances. This can lead to financial, housing, insurance, legal and employment issues for patients and their families.

A UK law firm worked with the major trauma services to develop a free and comprehensive legal service for major trauma patients and their families at a major trauma centre (MTC) in the UK.

Methods In 2013, a legal service was established at North Bristol NHS Trust. Referrals are made by trauma nurse practitioners and it operates within a strict ethical framework. A retrospective analysis of the activity of this legal service between September 2013 and October 2015 was undertaken.

Results 66 major trauma patients were seen by the legal teams at the MTC. 535 hours of free legal advice were provided on non-compensation issues—an average of 8 hours per patient.

Discussion This initiative confirms a demand for the early availability of legal advice for major trauma patients to address a range of non-compensation issues as well as for identification of potential compensation claims. The availability of advice at the MTC is convenient for relatives who may be spending the majority of their time with injured relatives in hospital. More data are needed to establish the rehabilitation and health effects of receiving non-compensation advice after major injury; however, the utilisation of this service suggests that it should be considered at the UK MTCs.

  • law
  • Trauma

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  • Contributors JT, DJL and AD conceived of the article. HET, WHS and CT collected and analysed the data presented. WHS prepared the first draft of the manuscript, which was subsequently reviewed by all authors.

  • Competing interests JT and DJL work as consultants in the intensive care unit at North Bristol NHS Trust where Stewarts Law LLP provides the legal service described in the article. CT is a personal injury solicitor at Stewarts Law LLP who provides the legal service described in the article. AD is a partner at Stewarts Law LLP who provides the legal service described in the article.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All data analysed as part of this study may be made available to interested parties on approval of a request.

  • Correction notice This paper has been updated since it first published online. The article type has been changed.This paper has been amended since it was published Online First. Owing to a scripting error, some of the publisher names in the references were replaced with ‘BMJ Publishing Group’. This only affected the full text version, not the PDF. We have since corrected these errors and the correct publishers have been inserted into the references.