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The MD of Inspire MediLaw Talks About Expert Witness Training

Medico Legal

If you are looking for training and support to become an Expert Witness, or think now is the right time to shine a light on potential risks within your own clinical practice, the people at Inspire MediLaw have the ideal course for you. David Jacobs, a writer and partner at Lewis-Barned, was invited to their offices near Oxford to find out more

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The first thing to say is that Inspire MediLaw’s Expert Witness Training is designed exclusively for medical professionals by leading medico-legal lawyers and doctors.

Established in 2017, the company may be ‘the new kid on the block’, but it’s been set up by a group of industry experts who have worked with and supported doctors in the NHS, private practice and legal claims process for more than 20 years. People like Caren Scott, the MD of the business.

Caren started our conversation by explaining what her team does. “We specialise in providing knowledge to medical experts who need to understand the law and to lawyers who need to understand the medicine. We are passionate about bringing medical and legal professionals together to learn, shape best practice and share ideas.”

It also turns out that Inspire MediLaw’s Expert Witness training is delivered from three quite different perspectives: the medical expert, the medical negligence lawyer, and the Barrister. Having a medical expert involved in the training is unusual, but their inclusion in the training has been a success. Caren explained that delegates have found it particularly insightful to hear from a medical expert who knows all the pitfalls and runs their own medico-Legal Practice as a very successful business.

One other thing that sets their training apart is the quality of the speakers. As Caren explained: “We are always very open with people attending our courses about who will be working with them. This is because we always work with first-rate lawyers who specialise in clinical negligence. People like Ian Cohen, Paul Sankey and Simon Fox QC (English law), and Lauren Sutherland QC and Ann Logan (Scottish law).”

Trainer profiles

Dr Simon Fox QC is a medically qualified specialist clinical negligence silk with over 20 years’ experience. He has been ranked in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners legal directories for over 10 years where he is described as “an extremely talented and experienced counsel, able to get the very best from medical experts”. “Commands a nationwide reputation for depth of specialisation” and “absolutely fantastic, extremely talented, really easy to work with and clients like him”.

Lauren Sutherland QC specialises in Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury and it is said by Clinical Negligence UK that “she’s a real leader in this field, the most specialised claimant clinical negligence advocate in Scotland”.

Paul Sankey, Medical Negligence Partner, Enable Law. Paul is a very experienced medical negligence specialist who formally led one of the largest medical negligence teams in London. Paul has lectured, published articles and spoken on radio and television about issues to do with medical negligence.

Ian Cohen, Head of Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury, Simpson Millar LLP. Ian has twenty-five years’ experience as a Medical Negligence Lawyer. Ian is recommended in the Legal 500 UK as a “leading individual” that “cares greatly, makes a difference to the cases he is involved in and has the guts and drive to make things happen”.

Ann Logan, Partner and Clinical Negligence Lawyer, Balfour & Manson, Scotland. Ann has over 20 years’ legal experience of pursuing medical negligence claims in Scotland, England and Hong Kong. Ann has been ranked in medical negligence in the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners for a number of years.

Alistair Bint. Dr Bint has provided expert opinion in over 3,000 alleged medical negligence cases and is regularly instructed by Claimant and Defendant in equal measure. He has been the Coroner appointed expert in over 50 cases, providing his expert opinion at Inquests up and down the country as well as expert opinion for the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland. He has provided trial testimony in civil cases ranging from County Court to the Royal Courts of Justice and has also been instructed by the CPS investigating gross negligence manslaughter. He has built up a thriving expert witness business and was recently described by the Judge in a case as an 'exemplary expert.'

Chris Danbury – Consultant Intensive Care Physician, Expert Witness and Mediator Chris has almost 30 years’ experience in managing critically ill patients, with over 15 years of them as a consultant in intensive care. After gaining an M.Phil in Medical Law, he was offered a personal appointment as Visiting Fellow in Health Law by the Senate of the University of Reading and has lectured on the LLB for over 12 years. Chris is an experienced expert witness and gives oral evidence regularly, particularly in the Court of Protection. He is also an experienced mediator, specialising in healthcare mediation – clinical negligence and serious medical treatment.”

Reviewing feedback from doctors and other healthcare professionals who have attended the company’s courses, it’s clear that the quality of the training offered by Caren’s team means delegates leave the classroom very satisfied with their two days of intensive study.

The trainers expect people to leave feeling more confident about producing court complaint reports and statements, able to address legal issues, more aware of relevant law and procedure, competent to give evidence in court, and more knowledgeable about the role of the expert witness in court proceedings.

Some delegate feedback

“I recommend this course to all healthcare professionals, irrespective of whether they wish to become expert witnesses. The experience provided by this course is invaluable”.

Iona Collins, Consultant Spinal Surgeon

“Thoroughly enjoyable and interesting 2 days, really inspiring me to start medico-legal work”.

Miss Nikki Jackson, Consultant Obstetrician

“This course is everything I’d hoped for and more! Excellent interactive speakers with lots of practical advice and tips. Highly recommended”.

Mr Kim Hinshaw, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

“A fascinating and engaging two days with excellent speakers. The trip to court with the QC was very informative”.

Dr Bruce Martin, ITU Consultant

“A thoroughly enjoyable and stimulating course, presented clearly and insightfully. The course is of very high quality and allows for great interaction”.

Mr William Allum, Consultant Upper GI Surgeon

“An invaluable course to enable doctors to aspire to success as an expert witness; covering preparation, expert reports, the relevant law and useful illustrations of cases and mock trial scenarios”.

Dr Helen Turner, Consultant Endocrinologist

“The course delivered far above my expectations. After two days, I feel prepared to venture into the world of the Expert Witness”.

Professor Mark Whiteley, Consultant Venous Surgeon

“A great course – comprehensive, reassuring and I left more confident of how to construct reports and manage the process of medical negligence claims”.

Dr Rob Moisey, Consultant Endocrinologist

Training that’s recognised and accredited

The other important thing I discovered from talking to Caren is that Inspire MediLaw Expert Witness training is now recognised by law firms as an important benchmark of quality. Caren is enormously proud of this and says it has led the company to being regularly asked by law firms to recommend medical expert witnesses to them.

Other indications of the quality of their training is that the training has received endorsement and accreditation from the Royal Society of Medicine and is run in collaboration with the General Medical Council. As a consequence, delegates completing the programme receive 12 CPD points.

Training course – format and content

Tucking all this information away, I was keen to find out more about how the training was delivered and more about the actual content of the course.

Caren stressed that the number of delegates per course is limited 5 and that training is delivered in a classroom setting. That’s probably the only standard thing about the training. Anonymised case studies as well as interaction and discussion, including role play to help teach court room skills, are creatively and enthusiastically employed.

Courses in Oxford and Glasgow I

Inspire MediLaw’s Expert Witness courses are run in Oxford (from January 2019 at the Principal Oxford Spires, Abingdon Road, Oxford) with court room skills being developed in Oxford City Council’s own Mock Court Room. Courses are also run in Scotland at the Royal College of Physicians in Glasgow.

Responding to delegate feedback, all Inspire MediLaw courses from 2019 will require some pre-course preparation: a review of a case study and preparation of a medical report. The emphasis of the learning is around getting the structure and headings of the report right. This pre-course work will be reviewed and discussed during the first day. Incidentally, Caren assures me that no ‘homework’ is set between the two training days. This means there’s plenty of opportunity for delegates to get together informally over dinner and a drink if they wish.

Typical programme – Day 1

The first day is all about preparation and includes:

• The practicalities of setting up a medico-legal practice

• The claims process

• What to expect from instructing parties

• The roles of various players – client, claims management company, claimant solicitor, barrister and other witnesses

• Identifying the issues that need to be addressed in your report

• How to prepare, structure and write a medical report in a format that lawyers like

• Examination and discussion of sample reports – good and bad

• How to successfully argue your conclusion

• Terms of engagement and how to get paid

• Developing your practice and winning instructions

The afternoon looks at the current GMC guidance written for expert (and professional) witnesses (see www.gmc-uk.org/ethical-guidance/ethical-guidance-for-doctors/acting-as-a-witness).

GMC – Workshop

• The GMC’s professional guidance on Acting as a Witness in Legal Proceedings to understand what is professionally expected of doctors acting as an expert witness

• The ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ around key areas in preparing reports, giving opinions, acting within competence and confidentiality

• How the GMC use experts in fitness to practise matters

• How doctors can become an expert who is instructed by the GMC and the available guidance

Day Two – Practice (am)

• Addressing the legal issues – breach of duty, causation, condition and prognosis, medical advice and consent

• Consent and how to address it in your reports

• Conflicts of duty

• Understanding CPR – some issues

• Understanding what lawyers are looking for and the language they use

• Outline of fixed costs and how this may impact on medico-legal work

• Nice guidelines, research as evidence and use of medical records

• Part 35 expert evidence, discussion and experts and joint statements

• Joint statements/meetings – agreeing an agenda and preparing for the meeting with your opposing expert

• The working relationship with your lawyer

• Medico-legal CVs – what lawyers are looking for

• ‘Hot tubbing’

Day Two – Perform (pm)

• Rules on expert witness training

• Before Court

• In Court

• Giving evidence

• Cross-examination

• Points to consider in giving your evidence

• Role play – examination in chief, cross examination and re-examination

• What happen when it goes wrong

For doctors or other healthcare professionals looking for something more bespoke, training is also available in the following specific areas:

• Court familiarisation

• Mediation and conflict resolution skills

• Mastering consent and shared decision making

• Duty of candour

• Risk management

• Understanding and managing clinical negligence claims

Can I book?

There are limited places available on the two remaining Expert Witness courses in 2018:

14/15 November -

De Vere Oxford Thames, Oxford

6/7 December -

Glasgow, Royal College of Physicians

And places are available on the courses scheduled for 2019:

17/18 January - Principal Oxford Spires, Oxford

14/15 March - Principal Oxford Spires, Oxford

9/10 May

27/28 June

19/20 September

10/11 October

28/29 November

5/6 December – Royal College of Physicians, Glasgow

The cost of the two-day course (in England and Scotland) is £895 + VAT (excluding accommodation).

First annual expert witness conference for medical professionals

The news emerging from our discussion was that the company has launched an annual one-day conference accredited by the Royal Society of Medicine (six CPD points) exclusively for medical experts with a range of experience. This year’s event is being held at St Anne’s College, Oxford on 4th December 2018.

This will be an opportunity for medical and legal professionals to get together and review recent developments in case law, the implications of GDPR, and the legal implications of consent issues when giving expert evidence. Networking and discussion will, of course, be a significant part of the event – time is being set aside to allow discussion of the issues that are important to expert witnesses.

There will also be chance for six delegates to practise their court room skills with Dr Simon Fox QC. His witness familiarisation session will run in parallel with the afternoon conference.

The conference programme

• Updates on case law/new test cases

• Learning from litigation – a lost opportunity to list of talks.

• The implications of GDPR for healthcare professionals in medico-legal and private practice

• Panel discussion – the relationship with your lawyer, working together, timing responsiveness, consistency handling the client and common issues with expert reports and attending joint meetings

• Giving evidence in court – before court, in court, points to consider in giving your evidence and when it goes wrong

• Mastering consent in clinical practice and a guide to reporting on consent issues in giving expert evidence

• Panel discussion – mediation in clinical negligence cases

• Update on costs recovery

• Indemnity insurance and the implications of medico-legal work

• Networking and drinks

Confirmed speakers

Ian Cohen, Head of Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury, Simpson Millar LLP

Paul Sankey, Medical Negligence Lawyer, Enable Law

Dr Simon Fox, QC

Dr Chris Danbury, Intensive Care Physician

Mr Amar Alwitry, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Medico-Legal expert

Dr Edwin Rajadurai, Director of Servca (an international Lloyds Insurance Broker)

Emma Bannister Dean, Withy King Solicitors

Judith Leach, Clinical Negligence Barrister, Royds Withy King

Emma Banister Dean, Partner in Dispute Resolution, Royds Withy King.

To find out more about Inspire MediLaw, the upcoming conferences for expert witnesses, or the other course dates for 2019 visit their website at

www.inspiremedilaw.co.uk

or contact Caren Scott or Vikki Forrester on

01235 426870 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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