A Taree solicitor has joined a specialist health and medical law firm as part of her mission to better help people in the Manning and other parts of regional NSW to stand up against rogue doctors and health professionals.
Erin Woodward has joined Catherine Henry Lawyers as a senior associate. Ms Woodward will work in Taree and at the firm’s principal office in Newcastle.
Ms Woodward said working for such a highly regarded law firm will give her more experience and resources to better service Manning residents who have been the victims of medical negligence at the hands of health professionals in the Manning and mid north coast regions.
She said the release of the Furness Inquiry report had again shone a spotlight on the poorer health outcomes experienced in regional Australia. The independent inquiry was commissioned by NSW Health into the appointments and management of complaints by local health districts about disgraced gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Emil Gayed, who practiced in Taree and other parts of regional NSW. The Inquiry report has also been referred to NSW Police for consideration of prosecution.
“The inquiry into Dr Gayed found that the health system failed women treated at Manning Base Public Hospital,” Ms Woodward said.
“The report shows that the vast majority of women (199 out of 266) who contacted various local health districts with concerns about Dr Gayed contacted Manning Hospital,” she said.
The report says that 50 women treated at Manning Base Hospital by Dr Gayed warranted a complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission HCCC. More had complained directly to the HCCC.
Catherine Henry Lawyers principal, Catherine Henry, said having a local, personal injury lawyer of Erin’s calibre will help her firm to better service its current clients in Taree, Port Macquarie and northern NSW.
Ms Henry said too many people living in regional NSW are reluctant to make complaints or to seek answers or justice from health professionals for fear of “rocking the boat”.
“Local people and local solicitors are reluctant to take on local doctors because of close community and personal connections,” Ms Henry said.
“But it is important for people to take a stand and hold doctors and local health professionals to account,” she said.
Those who have had substandard medical treatment are also entitled to compensation.”
“Litigation is also a very powerful tool in forcing changes to health care practices; we have seen that in the case of Dr Gayed and the Furness Inquiry.”
“People wishing to make a complaint or take action against Dr Gayed or other health professionals or health care organisations should confidentially talk to an independent medical lawyer to better understand their rights and to avoid falling foul of time limits that apply to legal action.”
Ms Woodward said she will enjoy working for a firm that is predominantly made up of female lawyers and has a focus on serving women clients. The firm has launched a new, free, e-resource to help women navigate the legal system. Women and the Law – A guide to help women navigate the legal system has been written by the firm’s female lawyers to help women understand the basics of the law as it applies to key areas of their lives such as family, money, work and health.
Ms Henry has decades of experience in health and medical law, working on many high profile cases, particularly in relation to women’s health. Her firm’s expertise was recognised late last year when she and senior associate Lucy Wilk made the prestigious Doyle’s list of NSW’s top 16 medical negligence plaintiff lawyers. Catherine Henry Lawyers is the only firm headquartered in Northern NSW and one of only two firms based outside of Sydney to make the list. The firm has accredited specialists in personal injury as well as an in house nurse.
Born and raised in Wingham, Ms Woodward has lived and worked in Taree as a personal injury lawyer for 15 years. She has a Bachelor of Law from the University of New England, a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice and is a Law Society of NSW accredited specialist in personal injury law.