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I joined Irwin Mitchell in 2002 and have been the head of clinical negligence at the Leeds office since 2005 acting for patients in claims against doctors and hospitals. I am particularly interested in mistakes made surrounding the delivery of unborn babies causing injury sometimes serious to the baby or their mother, complications of abdominal surgery and late diagnosis of cancer. The department in Leeds covers all aspects of clinical negligence.
Some of the cases I've been involved with include:
Brian Hogan, the then head of the legal faculty at Leeds University, was a family friend and told interesting stories about criminal law. I originally intended to be a criminal solicitor but was lucky enough to work with a specialist clinical negligence solicitor during my training and the rest is history.
Enabling people to get as much out of their lives after devastating injuries whether by equipment, care or computers so that they can have control of their own lives.
The people are really passionate about what we do and working with people who want to do the best for their clients.
Riding my horse Brookie who lives next to the very beautiful Harewood estate. It is a great way to wind down. I was a Trustee of the Dogs Trust, the largest canine welfare charity from 1999-2014 and remain committed to all aspects of animal welfare, including Compassion in World Farming. I rode a horse 200 kilometres across Transylvania in Romania to raise funds for a welfare and training programme in Romania run by World Horse Welfare. I’m a keen supporter of the arts and have just taken up yoga!
"An important player" - Chambers & Partners 2016
Rachelle Mahapatra is seen as "a force of nature - an extremely forceful, driven and committed clinical negligence lawyer." - Chambers & Partners 2015
Rachelle “receives effusive recommendations from all quarters, with sources emphasising her compassion and commitment to her clients. Cross her at your peril. She is not someone you go into battle against unless you really know your ground. She is very efficient and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.” - Chambers & Partners 2014
"Really goes the extra mile for clients" and praised for her "wealth of experience." - Chambers & Partners 2013
Rachelle has "empathy and desire to get the best for her clients", and the "ability to handle high-level, complex work quickly and efficiently." - Chambers & Partners 2012
Noted as "very approachable and professional." - Legal 500 2013
“I’m thrilled to be recognised by the Yorkshire Legal Awards. Even though it has my name on it, I wouldn’t have achieved so much of what I have without the brilliant team at Irwin Mitchell supporting me.
“I think I speak on behalf of us all when I say part of the reason for our success come down to the fact we are all so passionate about what we do. It’s not just passion for law and justice but it’s the amazing clients and people we work with and for, it’s an honour.”
“We are delighted to be able to deliver this service to the community in York and to raise awareness of the health issues people can face, as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle.
“It can sometimes be difficult to come to terms with health problems and approach medical professionals for advice on general health and lifestyle. However this informal event will provide people with the opportunity to come along and learn more about what help and advice is available to them.”
“Inadequate time spent with a patient could lead to missed symptoms, misdiagnosis and in some cases long term preventable damage or even loss of life.
“If GPs have insufficient time with their patients to make a diagnosis then the treatment or referral may be incorrect and lead to a delay in diagnosis.
“We see the effects of late diagnosis in our work with clients and the impact on them and their family’s lives.
“Advising patients to plan ahead is fine but some cases can be complicated and you need time to understand the problem before a solution can be sort.
“We know that there is pressure on the NHS financially but mistakes can be life changing and if more funding is needed to increase the consultation time to 15 minutes then this must happen.
“The NHS must look at ways to tackle this as a priority.”
“One of the major factors in anaesthetics is that time is of the essence if you need to anaesthetise a patient in an emergency, so it is therefore vital to have sufficient trained people to cover the NHS.
“The shortage of trained staff is a big problem for the NHS already with staff highly outstretched and reliance on locum, and to think this workforce will shrink in years to come is truly worrying. They play such a core part in patient recovery during surgery so this shortage puts a huge threat on patient safety.
“I have dealt with patient cases where they have suffered anaphylactic reactions to the anaesthetic and the antitheist needs to be trained to administer the correct medication and intubate.
“If a patient suffers a collapse with breathing difficulties, then time is of the essence in ensuring that they do not suffer hypoxic brain damage from the lack of oxygen. Anaesthetists are critical within hospitals and not just for routine surgery. The reduction in numbers may increase the risk to patients and compromise patient safety.”