Browne Jacobson, a law firm instructed by NHS Trusts, hosts a fortnightly call to discuss operational and legal issues within the NHS. These calls are designed to be a forum to discuss matters that impact on the NHS and to share best practice and other relevant information with other NHS Trusts. Karen Reynolds, Partner of the Clinical Negligence Department at Freeths’ Derby, Stoke on Trent, and Birmingham offices was invited to speak on 16 June 2020 as part of this initiative to highlight the importance of collaborative working.

Karen presented to heads of over 20 Hospital Trusts to discuss the importance of working collaboratively with defendant representatives. Karen explained that in working together, issues and concerns can be raised and dealt with more swiftly which can help avoid unnecessary costs, and anguish for the families involved.

Karen and those attending had an interesting and lively discussion regarding this approach. Karen shared her recent experience of a case where a meeting was arranged at a local hospital Trust for a client’s family to meet with the clinicians involved in their care. This meeting encouraged transparency between all attending, and allowed the family the opportunity to directly address their concerns and ask questions to those who provided the treatment at the time. The meeting was hugely successful for both the hospital Trust and the family, resulting in barriers being broken down, openness and honesty, and ultimately both parties working together to ensure a resolution of the claim. The family who attended found the whole experience very healing from such a traumatic time in their lives.

During the discussions, concerns were raised in regard to the coronavirus pandemic and the impact that this will have on NHS Trusts and future claims. Both the NHS Trusts and Karen expressed concerns that there is likely to be a spike in medical negligence claims due to delays in treatment by the NHS. These concerns have already been raised by a number of sources due to the delays in cancer screening and treatment, concerns for those with life limiting or chronic conditions who may not have received adequate monitoring during the pandemic, and the lack of face to face appointments leading to conditions potentially being missed.

Karen raised that whilst it is always in both parties’ interests to work together wherever possible during normal times, this will be particularly important during the unprecedented time of coronavirus, and the challenging times ahead. Sarah Stork, Senior Associate at Browne Jacobson, also joined Karen with an update on how courts are dealing with litigation during the Covid-19 pandemic. It had been noted by both Karen and Sarah that claimant and defendant solicitors were now routinely agreeing extensions, and were accommodating any difficulties caused by the pandemic such as dealing with the disruption to court timescales, and issues in meeting with experts, and with clients.

Karen was pleased to be invited to have such an open, honest and helpful discussion with NHS representatives, and looks forward to further developing our team’s collaborative working relationship with Defendant Trusts in the interests of supporting clients who have received poor medical treatment.

We know from experience that it is important that those with health concerns are able to access the support and guidance they need. If you have any concerns that a medical condition has been missed or there has been a delay in any treatment, then please do get in contact with us as we may be able to assist you.

Although we are, for the time being, not able to meet clients in person, our specialist clinical negligence team at Freeths is here to support and advise clients. We are available for meetings and consultations via telephone, email, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype and any other digital platform that works for you.

If you are concerned about any treatment which you or a loved one has received, please contact our team:-

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke on Trent/Birmingham) on 0845 272 5677 or karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) on 0186 578 1019 or carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester/Nottingham) on 0845 272 5724 or jane.williams@freeths.co.uk