Mediators want more clinicians to come forward – and lawyers to enable them – to speak directly to patients bringing medical negligence claims against the NHS.
Alan Jacobs, mediator at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, told a conference of lawyers that they should do more to encourage discussions between injured people and those allegedly responsible. His call came as figures show record numbers of clinical claims against the NHS went to mediation in 2018/19 – with the majority of mediations resulting in damages being agreed on the day.
Jacobs, speaking at the Claims Media conference in Manchester, said the challenge now is to ensure medical professionals volunteer to take part in the process.
"It allows an apology to be given face to face and allows explanations to be given," he said. "It is also an opportunity for the clinician to have a discussion, sit down with the claimant and answer questions and concerns. It can be tremendously important for a claimant to vent and express their frustrations and for the trust to hear that."
Both claimant and defendant lawyers agreed on the merits of bringing doctors in to the room, but stressed this was not always a realistic aim.
Barrister Daniel Frieze, head of the personal injury team at St Johns Buildings, said: "Often it is too late and there is too much water under the bridge. Claimants are very stressed and it may be counter-productive for them to face the other side. I know the idea is of being collaborative but I’m not sure that’s necessarily always true."
Read full story
Source: 21 February 2020, The Law Society Gazette