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Lawyers warned trust that staff could ‘pick and choose’ documents for coroners

An ambulance trust accused of withholding key evidence from coroners was previously warned its staff needed training to ‘understand the real risk of committing criminal offences’ in relation to inquests into patient deaths.

North East Ambulance Service, which has been accused by whistleblowers of withholding details from coroners in more than 90 deaths, was told by its lawyers in 2019 about serious shortcomings in its processes for disclosing information, according to internal documents obtained by a campaigner.

According to the documents, the lawyers said trust staff could “pick and choose” documents to release to coroners “regardless of relevance.”

The following year, an audit report said the issues had not been addressed.

Whistleblowers’ concerns about the trust were first reported by The Sunday Times in the spring, with a review highlighting several cases between 2018 and 2019 where key facts were omitted in disclosures to coroners.

But campaigner Minh Alexander has since obtained new details of warnings that were being made to internally, from lawyers and auditors who were advising the trust.

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Source: HSJ, 20 September 2022


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