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NHS Agree to COVID-19 Clinical Negligence Protocol

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Medical negligence claims rely on medical expert opinion. The coronavirus pandemic has seen many clinicians and medical experts called to the front line in the fight against COVID-19, leading to delays for both claimants and defendants in securing witness statements and reports on liability and/or quantum.

The additional complication of the nationwide lockdown, and the prospect of further local lockdowns being imposed on short notice, has made it difficult to arrange for clients to undergo examinations to enable reports to be prepared, particularly those who have been shielding. The net effect has been to cause delays for both claimants’ and defendants’ representatives in progressing claims.

In order to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on medical negligence claims, NHS Resolution, Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers and Action against Medical Accidents have today agreed and signed the COVID-19 Clinical Negligence Protocol.

Subject to compliance with its terms, the COVID-19 Clinical Negligence Protocol includes provision for the following:

  1. Suspension of the unexpired limitation periods for all medical negligence cases
  2. Encouraging all parties to communicate regularly and to facilitate the use of encrypted emails and telephone/video calls
  3. Promoting the use of remote/virtual examinations/meetings and the exchange of medical records, pleadings, witness statements and other documentation via electronic document sharing platforms, particularly for service of court documents
  4. Proactively responding to requests for interim payments of damages and/or costs
  5. Suggesting that parties agree orders and, where relevant, the adjournment of hearings to mitigate the impact on frontline care provision

Kenneth Lees, Medical Negligence Solicitor at Pearson said:

“Today’s agreement is an exciting development for victims of medical negligence and practitioners in this complex area of law. It is a unique example of cooperation which is intended to encourage parties to engage in a constructive and consistent manner, and to reduce the risk of costs being incurred unnecessarily. Whilst the medical negligence team at Pearson Solicitors has continued to work effectively throughout the lockdown, we have seen some examples of delays caused by the non-availability of independent experts and clinical witnesses. The protocol will reduce the risk of any further delays caused by the pandemic adversely impacting medical negligence claims and will hopefully lead to continued collaboration between parties in the future”

For advice on medical negligence claims please contact our Medical Negligence Team by emailing, call on 0161 785 3500 or complete our online enquiry form to speak with one of our medical negligence solicitors.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

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