From Derek J. Cole, M.A. (Law), LL.B. (Jesus College, Cambridge),

A Note on Guillain-Barre.

Mainstream Guillain-Barre usually starts with a total collapse of the patient caused by the sudden dissolution of the myelin (fatty) sheath surrounding the nerves. The condition is so rare that it may not be diagnosed. Even experienced Doctors have failed to diagnose themselves or their own family. As immediate treatment with immonoglobulin in ITU can make a vast difference to recovery, the Support Group spreads medical knowledge of the condition as widely as possible. There are very ,very rare variants, such as Miller-Fisher and Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy.

Prognosis is impossible. A lucky minority make an almost complete recovery, but 8% (about 36 a year) die and 10% remain totally disabled. The world expert-Professor Hughes of Guys, writes ".... the support needed by the 10% with severe persistent disability must be recognised and provided for.." (Guillain-Barre Syndrome Guidelines for Doctors and other Heath professionals - by Professor Hughes - pub GBS Support Group reprinted from Prescribers Journal, 1998 Vol 38 No 3 - Dept of Health).

I got drawn in after Coughlan because I found that the handful of our members in that category had quite simply been left to pay their own Nursing home fees, quite unlawfully. Then members, such as George Peak in Croydon, reading our magazine, ‘Reaching Out’ asked for my help for friends and family.

After Paul Burstow used a ‘Lib-Dem day’ to raise the issue in the House, I provided him with all the case studies in ‘Who cares who pays’, featured in the Daily Mail, Sunday Telegraph, Yorkshire Post, on Radio and elsewhere.

While visiting his legal adviser at the Commons, a chance meeting with Ms Coughlan’s M.P., John Burnett (LibDem) put me in touch with Steve Squires, who as the S.Telegraph reports, has just won the Dorset case on his efforts, not mine.

In September Southover Church Lewes, attended by my family, put a note in 300 Parish Magazines (scooping the national press) and I now have five East Sussex cases!

I am a 71 year old retired Headmaster and only an academic lawyer, but I did write the opinion used by Graham Watson, M.E.P (Lib-Dem) to get the European Commission to declare the French World Ticket sales plan unlawful and earlier defended our Olympic Athletes accused of breaking the then Amateur Rules. In Aug, 1979 the daily Mail actually headed their Sports Page with pictures of me, Seb Coe and Steve Ovett. We were all middle distance runners.

They were better at running but I was better at law!